“Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” ~ Chief Seattle

What Our House Will Look Like When We Begin Remodeling 

“What we anticipate seldom occurs, what we least expected generally happens.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli 

Would love to have a glass block shower

Well crap. The one day that I really, really need to make telephone calls, the phone is off. Normally, I avoid the telephone at all costs, but today I woke up early to call two doctor’s offices only to find that no calls were going through. I have the worst timing in the world. 

Corey is working today from 3 to 11. He was originally scheduled to do guard duty at one of the yards, but they called him and asked him to stand watch on one of the boats. This is only his third full shift. He worked on Friday and Saturday; on Friday, he spent the day being taken to all of the different docks so that he would know where to go. Apparently, they are not just going to use him at Lambert’s Point as they originally said. Some of the docks/yards are in Newport News, which is all well and good but is much farther, hence, more gas. 

Anyway, I’ve spent the afternoon doing a bit of cleaning and some laundry. I really wanted to get to the ceiling fans, but I think that my back has had enough for the day. It’s very quiet without Corey around the house, but this job will help both of us to get used to him not being around all of the time. 

The weather here has been bizarre the past few days—sunny, warm, cold, rainy. As a result, my sinuses are protesting. What’s new? 

It was a very quiet weekend. Brett spent most of his time at Gordon’s house. He made the passing comment to me that they (Gordon and Tailor) have no idea how easy they have it. I suppose the vast differences in our lifestyles are really laid bare when he visits them. They live in a very nice suburb in Virginia Beach. I asked Brett if it was hard for him to see that, and he said that it wasn’t hard, but it made him realize how easy other people have it as compared to us. I assured him that one day our lives would get back on track, and things would be easier. 

Here’s hoping. 

“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant, filled with odd waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.” ~ Lemony Snicket

Almost Gutted Kitchen (not ours but could be)

I was watching “Holmes on Holmes” last night, and Mike Holmes was redoing a kitchen. As usual, he didn’t stop with gutting the kitchen, he went into the dining room and sitting room as well, tearing everything down to the studs. When I watch his show, I get so many ideas about how we can fix this house, but I also realize that none of the repairs that we need to make will be easy. 

For example, the wall in the living room on which the window is situated is going to need to be torn back to the studs because there is water damage from the window A/C unit that has been there for years. To fix that one thing, we need to rip out the window, tear down the wall, and replace both from scratch. However, we really cannot take that air conditioning unit out until we get central air. To get central air, we really need to replace the old duct work. When we replace the old duct work, we need to put in new insulation . . . 

I mean, even the fireplace needs to be redone. The reality is that there is no one small thing that we can do. I fear that when it really comes down to it, we are going to have to gut a lot, put up a lot of plastic sheeting, and just rebuild. 

“It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.” ~ Winston Churchill

How I would like to remodel my fireplace with bookcases

So other than those tidbits, not a whole lot going on. I think that I’m going to abandon the book on Mary Queen of Scots because I am finding it tedious. Perhaps I am not in the right frame of mind, but the endless lists of names is keeping me from making any real progress. 

The other night I watched a show on the Travel Channel about the ten best beach resorts in Mexico. Why? Am I trying to torture myself? White sand, blue water, palm trees. I could so do that in less than a moment’s notice. Of course, doing such a thing requires funds; funds require a job; a job requires stamina; ya da ya da ya da . . .  Meanwhile, back in reality, one of the neighborhood children is screaming at the top of his lungs directly outside my window, which is making the dogs bark as if Genghis Khan is invading. No Mexico for me. 

The word for today is sesquipidalian, a long word meaning long word. I love the way this word sounds, and it popped into my head when I was trying to think of the antithesis of Sarah Palin. Don’t ask me why I was thinking about this or her or whatever. Anyway, my sentence using my word for today is the following: Sarah Palin, when faced with the sesquipidalian oratory of her opponent, predictably resorted to a toothy smile and a “dontcha know” retort . . . 

I do have one interesting thing to report before signing off: Last night, I dreamed that I was hugging my father, and at the precise moment that I touched him, he became a bright light, so bright that I could not look at him. I woke up crying to a booming thunderstorm with bright flashes of lightning. Funny how the mind works in sleep. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by System of a Down, “Lonely Day” 

 

 

“Sameron adion aso” (I shall sing a sweeter song tomorrow) ~ Theocritus

“The Empire of Lights,” by René Magritte (1954, oil on canvas)

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston S. Churchill 

"The Scream," by Edvard Munch (1893, oil, tempera, pastel on cardboard)

This is the fifth morning in a row in which I have woken up in screaming pain, I mean literally screaming. I am going through a migraine bout the likes of which I haven’t seen in several years. Who knows why, certainly not I.

I just wanted to post a quick update since I haven’t been on in several days. Corey had his interview, and it went very well. The three people who spoke with him were very impressed with his background and training. That’s the good news. The downside is that the position does not come with any benefits, and is not guaranteed for 40 hours a week. Nevertheless, Corey is very excited about it as he would be able to make many contacts if he gets the position.

It was just wonderful to see him so happy, and having a good interview really went a long way in making him feel better about himself. Even though the position itself isn’t ideal, we both think that it would be great for him to take it if offered. The people who interviewed him even said that if something more in his field came along, he shouldn’t feel bad about taking it. So who knows.

I’m just happy that it went well and that there is a good possibility that Corey will be working again. I know from experience that having a job in which he is interacting with other people will be great for his state of mind, and also, it always seems easier to find another job if you are already working.

“When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching—they are your family. ” ~ Jim Butcher

"The Large Family," by René Magritte (1963, oil on canvas)

On the down side, we had quite a family scare yesterday: Alexis had a seizure at work and was taken by ambulance to a local emergency room. They ran a series of tests on her, and fortunately, there does not appear to be any physical reason why she would have a seizure. The doctor thinks that one of the medicines that she is on may have caused the seizure: Wellbutrin has a 4 in 1,000 rate of seizures in patients who have been prescribed the medication. I was completely unaware of this side effect.

Alexis is supposed to have a follow-up with a neurologist just to make sure. She spent today at home in bed sleeping. Everyone was at the ER last night, and I have to admit that the first thing that popped into my head was brain tumor. I’m sorry, but that’s where my mind goes. Fortunately, the CT scan showed no blockages or masses anywhere in her brain.

I won’t even get into the stupidity that was the presence of my ex at the ER and what an ass he made of himself. What is important is that my baby girl seems to be fine, none the worse for wear, and apparently just experienced a medication side effect.

It’s funny, but Corey and I always seem to comment on those pharmaceutical commercials that promote new medicines for new ailments as seeming miracle drugs, but at the end of the commercials there is always this list of horrible side effects: heart attack, stroke, death.  The cure seems to be as bad as what it purports to fix.

Anyway, Alexis walked out of the ER with an appetite, and she and Mike stopped at a McDonald’s drive-through on the way home, so I’m thinking that’s a good sign.

That’s about all for now. My head is beginning to throb again from the screen. Time for another ice pack.

More later. Peace.

(Had Magritte on my mind, which led to Munch. Hence, the images)

“Breathe In Breathe Out,” by Matt Kearney

“There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life—happiness, freedom, and peace of mind—are always attained by giving them to someone else.” ~ Peyton Conway March

Paul Gauguin’s “Snow Rue Carcel” (1883, oil on canvas)

 

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill

Corey and I have spent the afternoon cleaning, trying to get the house somewhat straightened up so that we can put up the Christmas tree. I love my dogs, as you have heard me say many times, but the dog hair . . . I think that I could make another dog out of the hair that the three of them shed.

Paul Gauguin's "Snow at Vaugirard II" (1879, oil on canvas): This painting and the one above remind me of Monet's "Magpie")

Needless to say, I am wheezing, and Corey is sneezing. One of the wonderful effects of raising any kind of dust in this house.

Eamonn came by today, only to moan about how life is so terrible because his cell phone isn’t working, and the XBox stopped working. I have come to think of Eamonn as my personal source of comic relief. Would that the only things wrong in my life were a gaming system that has gone on the fritz and having no cell phone. I love eldest son dearly, but he really has no clue as to what life is about. I know. That is largely my fault.

I will be the first to admit that Corey and I have spoiled the kids. Up until the last two years, they all got pretty much anything that they wanted (within reason). By that I mean cell phones, games, gas money. So the last two years have been culture shock for them, not that it has harmed them in any way. I do have to say that I have always held steadfast to my basic principles in that I never pay full price for anything; clothes do not have to have a designer label, and big presents are reserved for Christmas and birthdays.

We have all learned how to do without, and it has probably helped to make us more appreciative of what we do have. I just wish that Eamonn were a bit more in tune with the fact that there really isn’t a money tree in the backyard.

Anyway . . .

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” ~ Mother Theresa

Corey’s parents have come through for us again. They have agreed to pay the electric bill with the understanding that we will pay them back as soon as possible. Have I mentioned lately how absolutely wonderful they have been in supporting us? I hate that we have to ask them as there is that issue of pride and the feeling (on our part) that we should be able to take care of things on our own, but as his mother reminds me, we are family, and they are happy to help when they can.

Once Corey finally starts to get a regular paycheck we will have to make a concerted effort to start to pay them back for some of the things that they have done. No one on either side of the family is rich or even well-to-do, so it’s not as if anyone has disposable income. That’s the part that has me feeling so guilty.

One thing that his mother did for us was to order a care package from Angel Food Ministries. I had meant to write about this wonderful organization before now, but just hadn’t gotten to it yet.

Angel Food Ministries was founded in 1994 by Joe and Linda Wingo of Georgia. The Wingos formed the organization to help provide food for friends and neighbors who were struggling financially. The program currently helps almost half a million families who are unemployed, living on a fixed income, or suffering financial hardships.  Actually, there are no prequalifiers to participate in the program, and there is no purchase limit. The service provided by this organization is invaluable.

A medium-sized box, which costs $30, has a retail value of approximately $60. Participants order from a monthly selection that includes fresh, frozen, and packaged food, including meat (beef, chicken, sausages), fresh fruit and vegetables, and other staples. The food is not seconds, such as past due bread, as all food is purchased via agreements with vendors and producers. The selection changes monthly, and specialty boxes are also available. These include meat packages, for example 10 pounds of chicken cuts for $20.

Each month participants submit their orders to their host site (orders can also be placed online). Hampton Roads has 15 host sites, with four in Norfolk alone. The orders are submitted to the main office in Monroe, Georgia by the deadline. About a week later, orders are delivered to host sites, or host sites go to the main Angel Food Ministries site to pick up orders.  On a designated date, individuals pick up their orders from their host site.

It’s a very efficient system that yields so much value for the money. The program even participates in the food stamp system so as to serve better families in need. Angel Food Ministries, which is non-profit and non-denominational, currently exists in 35 states. Corey and I have decided that once we are back on our feet, we are going to support this organization. We know all too well that we would not have survived these past two years without the generosity of those who care about us. It will be wonderful to be able to give some of that back.

If you know of a family in need, or a senior citizen who may have problems making regular trips to the grocery store, or if your own family is on a fixed income and is having problems with making the food budget stretch, please consider using this very worthwhile organization. Their toll free number is 1-877-366-3646, and their e-mail address is angelfood@angelfoodministries.com. Or, click on the link above to visit their site.

“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” ~ Albert Einstein

I remember one time when we were driving back from Ohio when the boys were much younger: We rode through Washington, D.C. (I don’t remember the reason why). It was winter and bone-chillingly cold outside. We drove around the area of  The Smithsonian, and I remember being dismayed by the number of homeless individuals who were sleeping over the subway grates. We told the boys that these people had no homes, no warm place to lay their heads, nothing in the world but what they carried.

I remember how sad both boys were at coming face-to-face with the cruel reality of homelessness. Of course there are homeless people in Norfolk, just not in the suburbs where we live. It’s not so obvious. I wanted to boys to see that homelessness had a face, that it wasn’t some abstract concept. 

Homelessness is the veteran whose mind has been torn apart by what he or she has seen. Homelessness is the senior citizen without a family, left to live at the mercy of the elements. Homelessness is the family that is living in the car that once served as a source of transportation. Estimates are that 1 in 50 children in the U.S. are homeless. That’s the face of homelessness.

I never want my children to become so inured to the plight of others that they no longer see faces, no longer feel a pang when they encounter someone in need. I hope that I have raised them to be caring adults.

During this time, one of my biggest fears has been losing the house. It’s not grand, but it’s home. The reality is that if we lost the house, we would not be homeless, we would have some place to stay.  And in spite of my complaints, I never lose sight of the fact that someone’s child is going to go to sleep hungry and cold tonight. Man’s inhumanity to man is without a doubt the worst scourge on the face of this earth.

“If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.” ~ Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama

I’ll close with this poem that I found on Crashingly Beautiful:

The Thing Is

The thing is
to love life
to love it even when you have no
stomach for it, when everything you’ve held
dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands
and your throat is filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you so heavily
it’s like heat, tropical, moist
thickening the air so it’s heavy like water
more fit for gills than lungs.
When grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, and obesity of grief.
How long can a body withstand this? you think,
and yet you hold life like a face between your palms,
a plain face, with no charming smile
or twinkle in her eye,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

~ Ellen Bassboth

More later. Peace.

Ben Folds Five, “Magic” (Corey loves this song)