Pieces

81242DDC-3F85-466E-8E48-035D6D0D1618
“We’re always trying to find someone whose broken pieces fit our broken pieces” – Bruce Springsteen

While I can’t say I’m looking for anybody, in terms of friends and getting along with others, we all have baggage about the pieces of ourselves that need work.

I like listening to music as I clean.  Today’s insight is care of that great philosopher, Bruce Springsteen.  I’m adoring his “Western Stars” film and soundtrack.  With the houseguest away, I can listen to all the music I like, endlessly on repeat, and it’s nobody’s business if I do.  I’m procrastinating on working on the electrical and finishing the kitchen fan replacement, which became a lot more involved than I hoped it would be by the introduction of a fancy light control switch…

3627407E-4182-4592-BF11-B5AF3FAC89D2

So, I stopped and watched more youtube videos, trying to shore up my lack of experience with demonstrations of others’ prowess and nonchalance in dealing with a material – electricity – that can kill you if you don’t do it right.

C53AA7F9-528E-4B9B-BA2C-F62E7F25438B

So, procrastinating… I got the water garden fish pond enlarged and built.

I got the kitchen cleaned, the floor scrubbed, and paint touched up.  Anything to avoid finishing the electrical…

But, I tell you all that to tell you this:  my house is just me and the cat.  It’s been that way for two weeks.  Two peaceful weeks without dark clouds of unhappiness and dissatisfaction hanging over the house.

The houseguest continues with her vacation, and I’m reveling in the peace and quiet, which will probably end by Sunday (I say “probably” because she wouldn’t be courteous and give me a return date.  She thinks such questions are controlling).

It’s sad that one person can be such a downer.  No matter how much we try, no matter how much we hope, we cannot fix that other person.  We can’t even hobble along together, because their broken pieces don’t work with your broken pieces.  With the house to myself since June 28th, I’m reveling in doing what I want when I want without having to worry my cleaning and repair efforts will upset the houseguest.

02CBF3BE-7049-4478-83AD-AF02D40C5C6E

Nobody’s evil.

Nobody’s wrong.

You just can’t get along because it takes two people to build harmony and peace, and your broken pieces just won’t sync.

The houseguest is #21 on the subsidized housing waitlist for the elderly and disabled.  Getting to #1 can’t come soon enough.  I *CAN* endure until she’s out of my home. I’ll just be doing a whole lot less of maintenance, and a whole lot more of fishing.  Away from the house.  Away from the storm cloud that is my houseguest.

 

 

Partings

822AA796-BB20-4285-8146-620FCB6571F1
Way back in 2009, I was sent to work in on a project China.  I didn’t know it at the time, but the bonus I earned for the success of that particular project would mark the end of stable health for me.

I tell you all that, though, to tell you this.  No matter how much we may try, nobody’s getting off this earthly plane alive.  Regardless of how much we try.

And, we acquire a lot of detritus along the way.

With the cleaning bug upon most of us during the pandemic, we’re re-evaluating all the “stuff” we’ve accumulated, and either giving away, re-homing or selling those items that no longer serve a need.

My folding bike fell into that category.

When I was in China, I was coughing up a lot of blood and crud, and really struggling to breathe due to the heavy metals in the air and the toxic air quality.  Being VERY humid didn’t help my breathing birth defect, either.

Used to hiding my weaknesses, however, I never gave it a thought.  My blinders were on that my refusal to ask for accommodations – career-limiting restrictions on what I would not, could not or SHOULD NOT do for my employer – would lead me to an assignment that would weaken my quality of life, never occurred to me.  Not when there was adventure to be had !

F06A390F-6E01-4B37-86D5-D6D33098DD7A

All I could think about was, “They want to pay for ME to go to China !  ME !!!”

I knew the air quality was bad, but no one wore face masks or otherwise indicated it was a problem, so I hid my breathing disability, accepted the assignment, and prepared to have my first truly foreign country “adventure”.  On the big fruit company’s nickel.  Without a penny in my pocket to cover any touristy expenses.  This was this was not “vacation”, with a planned budget, but “work”.  But, while there, I was determined to make the most of the opportunity.

Then, the out-of-pocket costs started to rise, and yet I still found a way to:

– buy a passport

– buy 4 outfits of culturally conservative and appropriate  suits

– buy educational materials on the language and customs

– figure out how to get by while not speaking Mandarin or Cantonese, never mind reading either language

– buy an iTouch, stuff it full of language translation photos to cheat if I got stuck communicating

Yes, I’m a control freak.  It’s just how I roll.  Plan for every worst-case scenario, and I’m ready to bounce back from whatever life throws at me.  You know, good Girl Scout training, LOL.

Then, the morning of my departure, August 27, 2009, I find out my brother has a brain tumor, has been rushed to the hospital, and there’s nothing I can do.  Financial Strike 1, as I know I’m going to have to find the finances for a quick weekend home as soon as the trip ends.

Next, while I’m at the airport, I get a call that my Auntie decided to have surgery – the surgery I asked her to delay for two simple weeks – just as I’m departing.  Financial Strike 2, as there are always complications when Auntie is involved.  I know I’m now going to have to hit FL on my flyby to or from MA, too.  The budget $$$ are leaving my pocket before we’ve even left the airport.

At any rate, I tell you all that to tell you this:
You Can Do It.

Whatever “it” is.

That’s part of what this folding bike represents to me.  Chaos.  Adventure.  Achievement.  Repercussions.  Aftermath.  Reward.

AC7E6F2B-59E0-4ADE-9759-E1486E8A3D99

I had 7 days in China, no budget, but a decent pair of sneakers to walk anywhere I chose when I wasn’t otherwise working.  I was but 2.2 kilometers from the Forbidden City and the Imperial Palace, and I certainly couldn’t sleep when my anxiety and adrenaline were running high, so off for a walk I went.

My feet and my bike have always represented freedom to me.  While exercise-induced asthma (before it evolved to COPD) always made movement a hassle when struggling to breathe, when the anxiety of being in a new place was riding me, and adrenaline added it’s two cents, nothing was going to keep me in that hotel room, no matter how nice, once work was done during daylight hours…

D7EE44D8-98C6-460F-856C-BD96E0329B06

So, I set off to explore the Hutong (residential and business districts outside the gates and gardens of the palace) areas leading to and from the Forbidden City.

AB48E38E-1431-4043-806C-F27CCA612AC4

and the incredibly embellished interior areas, with every eave and crevice colorfully painted…


Walking in the toxic air was a big mistake for my ongoing quality of life, but worth every minute of blood and sweat as I explored on $0, tried to stay out of trouble, and find my way around an alien landscape where very little was in English to aid my explorations and comprehension.

So, when I show you a picture of a folding bike, and tell you it’s an evolutionary story of “partings”, you’ll just have to believe me when I tell you the bike represents so much more than simple transportation.

After coming back from China, heading over to Boston and then down to Venice, FL, to do what I needed to do, I finally headed home after a few hectic weeks.  Broker than broke, but all obligations and duties performed.

Once I got back from China, I found my stamina sucked.  I was taking breathing meds to try and keep up, and my general irritability and aggravation-quick-to-anger bitchiness was way out of control.  Seeking a way to try and rebuild my health, I bought the bike and tried to improve my health.  Instead of a lung capacity of 38%, I was barely managing 33%, with medications that increase my general feelings of anger and frustration.  So, that bike represents not quitting.  Hope.  Determination to be well and keep up.  To pass for normal.

5F07E151-2856-4202-A917-EEFB6C45C948

I still have my performance award in my curio cabinet (hidden in the back, on a lower shelf, as Yanks believe bragging is immodest, but I can’t part with that tangible achievement memento yet, either), but it didn’t matter as much as the cash bonus.  And, the cash bonus didn’t matter as much as the bike I purchased to signify my achievement.

00AEF01E-0687-475A-9CFA-EBED24B78334

To finish the bike story, however, I also have to tell you this…  In 1996, I got an award for moving 300+ people from 5 leased buildings into a single new building designed to meet our needs.  Project done, on time and under budget.  Yes !

Awards for contact workers are generally unheard of, however, I got one and it means a lot to me 24 years later.  That award / cash bonus turned into a 60-disc CD player jukebox, and 24 years later I still can’t bring myself to part with that hopelessly outdated jukebox, even though I no longer use it.  It’s sitting in my office collecting dust, all because of the achievement it represents.

I have been the owner of this house for 4 years as of August 16.  I did most of the basic sanitation / rehab and moved in on October 17th, 2016.

Almost four (4) years later, I am drowning in 1,100 square feet of crap, while now having only 700 square feet of living space.

As part of procrastinating for finishing up my fan de-install / replacement install for the kitchen, I got the web-covered and 4 years dusty and unused folding bike washed, photographed, and sold in less than 24 hours.

F78E5C35-D08D-4C1A-BC2F-69D77839B563

It’s hard to get rid of your possessions when they still have cash value, as well as sentimental value, but since I can’t simply walk away, leaving this mess for any of my so-called heirs to deal with, I’m happy to say that one more parting is accomplished.  Yes !  And, sadly, “yes” (boo, hiss).

Admitting to yourself that you’re at the point where you’re never going to have another travel adventure, or a work challenge, or be well enough to actually ride your bike again without risking your health, is a fork in the road that comes to us all when we fight debilitating health challenges or as part of simple aging.

How long we take to accept our changed circumstances varies for us all.  I tend to stew and whine a lot, but I eventually get motivated to get my butt in gear,

In my case, I’m focusing on the next purchase…  if they won’t open the pool, I’ll make my own and create new adventures in my own back yard !

Plus, build an actual water garden / fish pond for the gold fish I haven’t yet managed to kill (10 put in the outdoor kiddie pool in January, at least 7 are still alive).  The water lilies are growing well to keep the fish pond water clean, and after 6 months testing of the concept, I’m ready to make it happen in my garden.  Whatever it takes to keep busy and living my life.

5E23FC9C-B854-4176-84FC-41D893D639D3

 

Reprieve

C6B23159-F957-4C28-8221-15BA12875357
I try to be a decent person.

I try not to unfairly judge others.

But…  !

When you are a guest in my (admittedly) ramshackle home, is it too much to ask that you NOT get on my nerves while you’re here ?!!!  To not run up my bills or fill my time with now-necessary repairs ?  I don’t think so…

I am so ready for the upcoming (and however brief) reprieve while the houseguest goes on vacation, that you would not believe how ready I am.

Just trying to get my butt in gear to start the day and repair the cabinet door that the houseguest pulled off its hinges…

Why do I say she did it vs. blaming it on wear and tear?  After all, the cabinet doors on the vanity’s in both bathrooms are equally dilapidated…

Well, I blame her because she’s about 5” taller than me, refuses to use a step stool (because she’s not tall enough to reach things on the top shelf without being on her tip toes while hanging off the door for balance…) so, I hope you catch my drift.

And, because it’s the door on one of the cabinets she uses.

Plus, like any good senager, the cabinet broke itself vs. her having the adult sense to let me know she broke it.  “Oh, did you notice the cabinet is broken?” was yesterday’s oh-so-innocent question.  I wouldn’t care if she said, “It broke while I was using it…”, or, “What’s it going to take to fix that cabinet, I broke it yesterday…”  Nope.  Like any good teenager, my senior houseguest takes no responsibility for anything, yet goes out of her way to NOT do what I specifically  asked her to do in order to not physically stress my dilapidated housing.  So…

Cause + Effect = Blame

Adding to my aggravation, I just walked into my bathroom to find she went out of her way to get on my nerves while she’s gone.  You see, she’s a tweaker.  Everything must be rigidly maintained, to her standards, or she tweaks it.

In this case, she hates the set up of my main bathroom and re-arranges the angle of this stupid sign every time she uses the bathroom.

It must rigidly face the front, to match the shelf upon which it rests, versus resting at an angle, to be more welcoming, in my point of view.

So, I just reset it and will enjoy the reprieve from our petty little territory games while she’s on vacation with her family, and I’ll have the time to work on my home at my own pace.  Score 1 for me !

E1079B34-34C1-47F4-85EC-2B5B420D70BD

Saintly Beings…

8AFFAB95-6390-4654-9AFD-BD2CDD12B36F
Without going into a condemnation of any particular religion or faith, I do want to talk about people and their belief that they are sanctified by their God for a particular mission.

I was lightly brushed by faith-beyond-reason way back in 1996 culminating in my going to work on Friday, September 13th, while many others had decided to skip work, and all because a co-worker’s God had decided I was a “lamb” sent to him to be one of his faithful.

The engineer was a nice guy.  A new father. He started hearing voices.  Shaved his head.  And he left strange voicemails for people at work, wanting to share with them his role as a Prophet, and their role as had been revealed to him.

Unnerving.

We reported him to management, and kept working that week while they hired security for the staff, and staged an intervention.  I worked all week, trying not to over-react, and hoping that this once rational man would accept the mental health services offered.  When his voicemails increased in frequency and urgency, citing his last day at work, September 13, 1996, and his desperate need to talk to me, I left him a (hopefully kind) voicemail telling him he was scaring me and advising him to get or accept the help being offered, and I also decided to go to work that day while many of my friends played hookey.

Going to work may have been stupid, however, I’m not one to back down.  A black sheep my entire life, there are just some points where I cannot do the prudent thing as I risk losing myself.  So,…

I’m not a “lamb” of God or anything else, and the use of “lamb” in his messages to me made me feel like a sacrifice waiting to happen.  I took steps to protect myself, regardless of which of my coworkers were amused or outright laughing at me.

So, I tell you all that to tell you this…  people don’t always show you their crazy.  But, when they do, LISTEN !

People in love with their faith are fine – it’s not my place to even pretend I have any answers, never mind ALL the answers.  People are programmed with their family’s or society’s faith from birth onward, before logic has a chance to kick in.  And, in my experience, all challenges to logic disconnects in the catechism are discouraged, as the true heart “believes”, regardless of the challenging questions or lack of supporting, logical evidence in front of their eyes.  In troubled times, people look for surety and certainty in their lives to help them calm their fears.  I get it.

But…  when the certainty you’re grabbing onto includes a couple who believe they were destined to be together…  having been life partners in prior lives, on prior Edens… when their faith calls them to label everyone of conventional importance in their lives as “zombies”, evil people who have been taken over by Satanic forces… and the bodies start piling up…  bodies of relatives AND children…  at what point do the people around them stop drinking the kool-aid and use the rational parts of their minds?

In this particular mind-blowing example, the body count as we know it includes:

– Former spouse, Tammy Daybell, wife of Chad Daybell (murdered?  TBD)
5EFC5B76-C128-4207-8A98-B64F6F4852B5

– Former spouse, Charles Vallow (killed by 4-times married Lori Cox Lagioia Ryan Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox)
AB310476-D8FD-4018-A3FA-2A469E869A0E

– Chad and Lori then begin being seen together as  a couple

– Alex Cox, Lori Cox Lagioia Ryan Vallow’s brother (newly married, one of the cult’s key members, killed by “misadventure” or suicide – the gossip mavens are still undecided, and I don’t believe the official’s have ruled, yet)
EC929D0B-E843-4867-9C70-A03C1325E29F

– Joseph Ryan, Lori Cox Lagioia Ryan Vallow’s prior husband and father to Tylee Ryan (Lori’s missing daughter) dies of a heart attack which is now being ruled as “suspicious”.
F14EB3EF-65A8-4ED2-B0DF-D619D8DF7D3C

– Brandon Boudreaux, husband to Lori Cox Lagioia Ryan Vallow’s niece, Melani, driven off the road (another Daybell-linked attempted murder?) after the niece becomes another Chad Daybell follower…

4441DA0D-1D0B-4759-9C66-4870D403991D

– Tylee Ryan, elder child, missing since a September trip to the Grand Canyon which included Uncle Alex Cox…  and whose body was recently found on the Chad Daybell property in Arizona

– JJ Vallow, youngest son, and also missing since a September trip to the Grand Canyon which included Uncle Alex Cox…  and whose body was also recently found on the Chad Daybell property in Arizona.  After officials followed cell phone pings on Uncle Alex’s phone to a mysterious 2am, 2-hour visit to Chad Daybell’s property.  Burying the bodies, perhaps, of his niece and nephew?

At any rate, you get the idea that everyone near Lori Cox Lagioia Ryan Vallow Daybell was either a follower or a victim.

But… !

BUT… !

Anything but a catalyst to the untimely demise of so many people; mostly HER family.

Chad Daybell has been out on parole since his extradited return from Hawaii, after Lori’s children had been missing for months, and after he and Lori were married while on the run.

While poor, little, helpless Lori Cox Lagioia Ryan Vallow Daybell sits in jail after also being extradited from Hawaii…

4F6DFCA9-D881-43D1-8782-D574C6659775
(Sarcasm intended).

F10AF0C0-18B2-46EB-90CF-254AA37FFDB9

And:


So, I happened to catch an episode of DATELINE NBC last night.  And, I had to tell you the backstory in the rare event that you might not be familiar with these events and ever-enlarging net of players.

Puhleeze tell me that Lori Cox Lagioia Ryan Vallow Daybell, the person with the most bodies on the line, is NOT going to get off with a poor, helpless, fragile little woman defense !

I get it, if you feel you’re on a sacred mission from God.  I was raised Roman Catholic, so I understand the suspension of logic and mental gymnastics that may be programmed into people before their brains are mature and that occurs with the truly faithful.

I understand the dichotomies involved in being both ‘of the faith’ and boxing those thoughts away in a room of their own in order to embrace logic and function in the world where others may not have the same faith.

But…  Just as I didn’t understand the Reverend Jim Jones cult, and the suicide of all of his followers; nor the David Koresh cult with the multiple wives and children, and the government’s attack that resulted in the subsequent loss of life; nor the bombing of the MOVE cult in Philadelphia that killed so many of John Africa’s followers;  I don’t understand how the Chad and Lori Daybell murder spree cult could get a toehold on the plausibility scale of so many different people in their circle of friends and family, who (from the news coverage) appear to be seeing Lori as an innocent, a dupe.

I don’t care if they were friends or were related as I, too, grew up with a very charismatic father who was able to inspire insanity in the otherwise normal and rational of people.  (Separate story, too time-consuming to detail here),

As we’re sitting in our homes listening to folks discuss a belief in a “mission” from their God, as reasons why they were friends and why they listened to these stories with suspended disbelief, I just have to shake my head.

Where were or are their individual meters of plausibility or backbones?

Where were or are their individual ethics and lines that they will NOT cross?

As I listen to the Lori Cox Lagioia Ryan Vallow Daybell friends and family talk about their concern for the two children, as well as how charismatic Lori is, it always circles back to everyone being clueless about the kidss and Lori being “so nice”.

While I can excuse her one surviving adult son, 24 year old college student Colby Lagioia, for his mixed feelings and confusion about whether or not his mother contributed to the death of his half siblings (like I said, charismatic father, so I have a first-hand exposure to some of the deprogramming he may have to go through in order to untangle his own mixed emotions as he builds his own life and matures), I have no such excuses for the rest of the adult family and friends’ suspension of disbelief.

Certainly not enough to blindly ignore the pattern of dead bodies connected to some messiah complex which appears to be a part of branching off into a new version of their religion / now cult.

I am just not able to deny reality to that level, even if their particular branch of faith counts  women as second class citizens, and allows some branches to discard their children, especially young men, if the existence of those children results in competition of the wishes of The Prophet or leader.

I hope to their God that she is not allowed to escape judgement for her actions in contributing to the death of her children.  Lori Cox Lagioia Ryan Vallow Daybell is just as guilty of the murder of her children, and possibly the murders of her former husbands and brother, as whoever actually accomplished the deeds.

If anyone cannot see that the “Saintly” beings, Lori, Chad, etc., are in it up to their eyeballs, then they need their sanity checked.

This is not an episode of the 60’s TV show, “Batman”, and Lori is no misunderstood “girl”, who is not responsible for her actions, or lack of actions, for protecting her children and other connections.

FD30A9F6-53EF-4C08-ACA4-2AE5A19D4423

EB7E30C0-79FD-4D01-97C4-5B70B65D2157

 

 

 

 

 

Itchy

Yes, it was worth it !

34FAA444-D4C4-4A40-B20C-079EDE988FC8

I am lying in bed, “Sweet Home Alabama” playing quietly on the TV for the 9,000th time, and instead of trying to get to sleep, I’m trying to write a blog.  On WordPress.  On my tablet.

WordPress hates my tablet, so if this isn’t a recipe for frustration and disaster, nothing is.  But, I digress.  I’m itchy and easily distractible.  It’s easy for the itch of the bug bites to distract me.

This week had lots of highs and lows, and aggravations from the lawyer about yet more audits on my disability supplemental salary, blah, blah, blah.  The latest dispute is their claim that they overpaid me by $16 a month (once they FINALLY gave in and paid against my supplemental insurance policy), and visions of being forced to pay back THEIR error, plus interest or other such nonsense backdated four years, has me sweating with yet more anxiety.

Since I’m already sweating over purchasing an AC unit (it was 105 degrees last week, and it got to 103 earlier this week, so an air conditioner was vital for my health), even if it was worth it, I’m still frightened about the eventual utilities bill I’ll receive…  anyway, the point is that I was already very hot under the collar the last couple of weeks.  Add in the ongoing aggravations of the pandemic restrictions, and it doesn’t take much to tip the apple cart off balance.

I did not need to hear from the ERISA lawyer to add to my stress.

Even if they pushed back with a reasoned argument based on California law…  Yes, that $1,000 fee I pay them every month for troubleshooting is worth it, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy having to need their ongoing services.

So, in order to try and stay healthy and work off my stress, I’ve been walking.  Mostly after 5pm when the Valley breeze finally kicks up (our temperatures can fluctuate 40-odd degrees in a day due to a desert-like microclimate).

My feet are swollen up like balloons, as tends to happen in the high heat with COPD.  My diabetes medicine has a tendency to dehydrate, keeping me close to the bathroom as I’m guzzling water and cranberry juice like a drunken sailor on shore leave…  You know, it’s always something even before I venture into the great outdoors.

7F9C9EA8-F54F-4481-84AD-841AC6651657

If I’m lucky, I can get in 10,000 steps and not run into a coyote or bobcat.

If I’m not lucky, I spend the entire walk looking for any likely tree to hide behind while addressing my inability to go longer than 45 minutes to an hour without having to pee.

In these days of newspaper headlines about perverts around every corner, it’s scary to think of dropping trou and exposing one’s tender bits to the passing eyes of every Tom, Dick or Harry simply because the portapotties, located only at the trailheads, are also closed…  How that closure of a very necessary outhouse prevents Corona-19 contamination I’ll never know, but the short story is that I am NOT part camel, and when Nature calls I answer pronto or suffer the toddler-like consequences.  No, I am not packing a spare set of clothes in my backpack.

07AA6C62-B733-47BF-90C4-7914F690FDDE

So, as part of my wanderings this past week, carting my fishing rod, Corn kernel bait, jacket, snacks, bottled water, bug netting head covering, etc., etc., etc., I’ve also taken to carrying a small LL Bean folding table (because I can sit on it when tired or while fishing), and it’s MUCH, much lighter than an actual chair for being able to lug it around and not add to my fatigue while still being practical for its intended use.

We’re talking major, white-trash-on-parade, tenderfoot excursion.  With all the detritus that comes with dealing with old age’s demands, too.

Anyway, I tell you all that to tell you this… I may look like an old lady, but I feel like a kid again.  Including being covered in bug bites from my explorations !

C1BA3863-177A-4A2C-B516-FE5BE7CCD716

It was very much worth it, though, as the bug bites directly correlate to my catching a fish (and possibly seeing a beaver at its den) for the first time in almost 20 years (19 years and 9 months, to be exact) I caught a fish ! Seriously !  It’s only a common carp, maybe 12 to 14 inches long and 2-3 pounds, but it is worth every minute of itching !

5533E7D3-8820-4DBB-B1B0-04B5416DAA7F

(and, yes, I’m a catch and release kind of woman – no wasting a life for me).  Bites and all, I can’t wait to go again !

 

 

Hope on the horizon?

Jo Quanrantine 2020

The houseguest has a lead on subsidized housing, and an interview on June 9th.  Please, please, please – for anyone who believes in some type of higher power – I’d appreciate prayers to all the Gods or powers-that-be to help her get chosen for this apartment and OUT OF MY HOME !

I will continue to house her as long as necessary, but the longer this shelter-in-place goes on, the more the friction increases…

Since everything I have to say involves b*tching and moaning for the most part, I’ll continue to keep my distance from blogging as I am on my very last nerve.

I hope you’re all staying healthy and sheltering-in-place in comfort.

Cleaning Wars II

Melaleuca Logo

Melaleuca is a wonder product according to my houseguest’s sister.  While I love my friend to pieces, I’m not taking cleaning advice from her because she, too, believes subjective and sometimes deceptive advertising vs. knowing the truth behind her beliefs by doing non-sponsored research… Melaleuca falls into that category.  Everything sold has a scent, is costly, and is designed to get you to encourage your friends and family to use their products.

Yes, I checked it out years back, when first approached, and – no – I didn’t want to live in a plastic bubble.  If necessary to clean, I wanted to do it once via hydrogen peroxide and alcohol when deep cleaning is necessary to assure a sanitary surface.

If you use the Melaleuca products to disinfect, there is a fine print comment in the EPA approval that is buried in their advertising, that makes it too expensive in terms of time and money to make Melaleuca products my first choice for cleaning materials:

Melaleuca EPA 03

Melaleuca EPA 04

 

and, on page 5 of 5 of the EPA 2011 posting available on line:

Melaleuca 05 EPA

Why in the world would I use ANYTHING where 95% of the ingredients aren’t detailed on the EPA letter or the product, and where further warnings as directed on the label by the EPA indicate that this product can be hazardous to people and pets?

At any rate, as a continuation of my earlier blog, “Cleaning Wars“, dealing with the landmine that is everyone’s opinion about what you need to do to have a COPD-clean environment that works its best for you is no easy task.

As with most of us, we don’t have much energy, so we don’t want to do anything twice.

Here’s the crap that’s on their feel-good website that irritates the crap out of me:

Melaleuca Company 01

Key triggers for me?  Anything that purports to help MY finances and my quality of life, while also telling me it can also help me “reach my goals”.  They have a really slick advertising company or marketing firm helping them reach people’s soft and gooey underbelly without even a blip on most people’s radar…

Melaleuca Company 02

Given the advertising of their botanical cleaner to not say that it’s a cleaner, but merely that it’s a disinfectant, for use AFTER you actually clean:

Melaleuca 02 - Botanicals

And the disclaimer in their online ads that actual cleaning needs to be done BEFORE using the disinfectant if one wants a truly clean surface:

Meluleuca Ad 01 - Bathroom

“Final step”, implying that this is to be used AFTER you actually clean.  Nope.  No thanks.  Not only does it make more work for me than my regular cleaning, it’s also only available in a scented product, making the scent wars in my home more of a challenge, too.

So, I remain stubbornly assured, based on EPA evidence, that my choice of alcohol and soap and water as a cleaning / disinfecting agent is the best choice vs. doing things the Melaleuca way.

Declined. Again.

MA-Can-I-still-get-a-Medicare-Supplement-if-I-have-COPD-or-Emphysema

Obviously, I’m frustrated.

First, because I have to spend HOURS on the phone trying to figure this drama out.  Second, because after spending all that time on the phone, the answer remains, “No.”

Under Obamacare, I was able to get medical coverage for the first time since 1992 that I could actually use.  2013, I had skin cancer in my shin, and they covered the cost of that surgery for $8,xxx and my out of pocket payment was $860.  $860 for surgery that saved my leg, if not my life.  Life changing.

I worked a Corporate job with excellent benefits from 1979 thru 2015, however, the coverage I paid for was not always usable by me due to my birth defects.  Rather than play the denial game, I simply lived beneath my means, and paid out of pocket for anything I needed.

I don’t drive a Cadillac or fancy sports car, so I don’t need a fancy medical plan.  However, the simple existence of my birth defects becoming public knowledge in 1992 when my medical records went digital meant that I routinely was denied medical care, and “No.” became the standard response for actually using the insurance that I paid for with each job.

With my departure from Corporate America in 2015, the battle for medical coverage reached new heights as I fought for coverage under COBRA for $644 per month.  And, as Aetna, my new insurer under my employer, decided that “No.” was now its favorite word.

In June 2016, I was finally approved for long term disability (LTD), and a 2-year waiting period to qualify for Medicare was also started.  Seriously.  I’m disabled, but there is zero insurance coverage?  Mind-blowing.

So, I paid my COBRA through December 31, 2017, with the knowledge that the benefits would be exhausted as of February 2018.  I tried to select a policy to cover me for my medical needs, but was told that I could not choose it until I was approved for Medicare, which happened mid-year, AFTER the open enrollment period.

There was no counseling for Medicare coverage, and I had to wing it on my own.  I contacted AARP who sent me to United Health Care (UHC), and they promised to cover me for a Medicare Supplement plan for about $150 a month.  I gave verbal approval to complete the forms they would send me, and they took $150 out of my Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) check each month, before I saw a penny.

However, no forms were signed.  Why?  Because, when I got to the question, “If you have COPD, please see question 7.”.  In its pre-qualification forms, UHC then informed me that I did not qualify for a Medicare Supplement as I was under 65 and had COPD.

Did you know that there are two (2) sets of rules for folks to qualify for Medicare?  No?  Well, let me tell you.  The protections that apply for workers who retire at age 65 or above are very different than the guidelines (not protections, but “guidelines”) which apply to disabled people under 65 or their specific age of authorized retirement.

Working since I was 13, I have paid into Social Security EVERY year for 42 years (excluding the year that my employer absconded with my tax and SS payments in 1975).

SSDI Earnings Record life long

It makes me crazy to have paid into my benefits for all these years, dealt with the denial of coverage for many of those years, finally gotten the necessary coverage my payments should have yielded under Obamacare, only to go back to this whack-a-mole game of trying to obtain the disappearing benefits – even when one is required to pay yet again for necessary coverage !

As you can see from my crazy paycheck history, my income changed all the time based on health, what type of job I was working, family issues for changing jobs and relocating, etc., etc., etc.  But every single year – regardless of what was going on it my life – I paid into the program(s) meant to help me if I became disabled or achieved retirement age.

So, it’s maddening to be declared unable to work, and then find out that in addition to the changes that were made to Social Security and Medicare over the years, there was an additional change that prevents someone who is not indigent and not yet of retirement age, to qualify for the necessary medical coverage they need when disabled.

Medigap insurers

Having worked my way through their websites (useless !  one cannot enroll on a website – WTF !?!???) I am at my whits end.

I can see a great policy – if only I were allowed to exercise the right to buy into this supplemental insurance !

Medigap F

Starting with the thought that my premium might be between $21 and $74 each month, imagine my surprise to chase this ever-evading insurance company ball all the way to the point where my costs would be $455.99 per month – if only I didn’t actually NEED my insurance due to my pre-existing condition, COPD.  So, having wasted time attending seminars, combing the website, consulting the professionals, and having spent three (3) hours on hold this morning, going through the phone tree with various companies, I once again confirmed – there will be NO INSURANCE COVERAGE for me due to my pre-existing condition.

It doesn’t matter that I never smoked.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve not been hospitalized since childhood.

It doesn’t matter that I’m not on oxygen.

It just matters that I have a lung disease which MIGHT cost them some money, so I get zero insurance coverage except for what remains of the original Medicare coverage which has been cannibalized within my lifetime to deprive me of benefits originally paid for when I first signed up for coverage in 1974, when I was a child of 13, starting my first job and trying to survive while my parents marriage imploded.

So, with all this under my belt, I’m going away to get my monthly haircut.  I’m out of energy and any semblance of patience for today, so I will be at this keyboard again tomorrow trying to find an insurance company to throw my money at in the hope that any worst-case medical expenses not covered by original Medicare will be picked up by them.  Medicare Allies says they can help.  Let’s hope they are being truthful in my case:

Medicare Allies 2019

Medicare open enrollment is frustrating.

So needlessly exhausting.

We need socialized medicine that doesn’t deny one coverage due to birth defects.  If we are going to insist on keeping these children alive by repairing their birth defects, then we need to have a medical insurance program that ensures that they maintain quality of life without being driven into poverty through covering their medical needs – if they are able to work, or were fortunate enough to be able to work and buy their way into benefits at some point during their lifetime.

Actions have consequences.  If we are going to insist on life at all costs, then we also need to insist on QUALITY of life by allowing those people who have birth defects to protect their assets against raiding.  The stress from trying to juggle all the bills involved in remaining healthy is exhausting, and no one is well enough, in my humble opinion, to want to sign up for this medical denial of coverage dance once a year during open enrollment, or every time they have to use the actual benefits they’ve paid for.

 

 

 

Quincineara beat down

In this generation of #MeToo, I’m watching all the quincineara preparations of the young ladies around me (similar to the debutante ball my Nana tried to get me to desire and agree to have, just before I graduated high school), and it’s just exhausting.

40535428-6D54-4420-8350-6DFCF4CE3A62.png

I am well beyond the age of getting married and having kids, but I’m at the other end of the age scale where an unmarried older woman has no one obliged to take care of her thru means or family or birth, so the focus on a woman’s day as a married princess or object of desire is beating me down and exhausting my psyche.

415F37C0-80FA-451E-BC9E-CA3C8F872F6F.png

My decision was made long ago, in terms of hope, my reality, and knowledge of what I would and would NOT tacitly agree to endure, in order to “hope” for security in my old age.

I say “hope” for security, because the reality that I’ve experienced is that the woman is sold a bill of goods about her value as an untainted virgin, and her family rushes her into marriage (either approving or disapproving of the male) in the hope that any pregnancies happen within the confines of marriage, so that the grand children are someone else’s responsibility to raise.

For all intents and purposes, they bless the union hoping 2 unfinished but physically mature children  will grow old together, learning to cleave to each other, despite life’s storms.

The family hopes for prosperity and joy for the young couple, and they pile on the pressure (with Mother Nature’s full backing and manipulation of the hormones) to hurry up and add kids into the mix.  All while raising the next generation of girls to desire a fantasy as they mature,

While I have no hands-on experience of the debutante ball or quincineara party, having chosen a solo path for myself, I do have opinions on the outcome.  But, there’s no surprise in that, is there ?!???!

We are programmed at a young age to think of things life and our corner of the village or society “owes” us.  Birthday parties.  Christmas presents.  Weddings.  Showers (bridal, birth, new home, etc.).  We are taught (at least in my culture) that life events are a series of routines and obligations.  That you show up for someone, and they show up for someone, and then a combination of friends and family show up for you, “when it’s your turn”.

50E639D2-6638-4774-9384-51B0F5BE57EB

(See the people peeking out of the shack in the background?  That may be her reality for living conditions once the sweet 16 ceremony announcing her availability for marriage and motherhood is over).

For some of us, the rules have changed or evolved when we weren’t looking, and we never get “our turn”.  In my case, it was embracing Women’s Lib as a way to have it all and be beholden to none.  After all, I reasoned, my Mom did everything right and still ended up working all hours of the day and night (with the help of her wonderful girlfriends) to keep a roof over our heads, and the plumbing working, and the bills paid.  Mom broke the cycle of silence by opting for divorce vs. accepting disrespect and abuse from her spouse,  and it was her choice to walk away from the insanity of her marriage that was the saving of her and all of our lives.

In my case, the passing of my Mom and Brother informed me over time that my choice to move away from my family, to break with tradition, has left me without a home port.  I became an adult orphan when I moved 3,000 miles away from my home port, and I never knew it because I made a conscious choice to build a husband and child-free life, and I moved into a youth-oriented area full of single people who appeared to have made similar choices.  Plus, my ability to hide from my family’s censure or expectations (if ever necessary) was strengthened by weekly or as necessary phone calls between myself and family and friends, so the bonds stood firm.

It is only when the fabric of our support circle is ripped through the passing of another that we realize how truly connected we were to each other, and how important it is to mend the fabric of our bonds to ensure continuity.  It is only when we see who among our family or childhood friends refuse to meet us half way in rebuilding a bond that we realize what we’ve lost with the passing of a matriarch or sibling.

So, we build again and we hope again, and time passes.  Now, we are the older, single person in a space that appears to only value youth and malleability.

Married friends launch their kids into the world, building the next generation, and the topic of Sweet 16’s, Debutante Balls, or Quincinearas become important to the next generation of Grannies and Nanas and Moms, who see the changes in the world and want to pass on “protection” to the next generation of women by ensuring the girls go down a path of set expectations for “princesses” or “queens” about how a ‘real’ woman lives, the matriarchal center of her family through the ages.

As I get ready to welcome a long term guest into my home, a women with an ex husband, grown children, and few places to turn, I wonder at that mythical young woman making her quincineara.

She’s surrounded by family, friends, momentary party excitement, and a “village” trying to direct her choices.  Trying to ensure that she is married young, before she knows who she is and what she wants from life.  Trying to ensure that she gets pregnant quickly to continue her species, as well as plant the seeds with those much hoped for children for anticipating that they, in turn, will be the extra hands of caring and support that her parents and grandparents may need as the circle of life continues and those hoped-for babies grow to adulthood, and pick up the mantle of caregiving aspirations.

I, meanwhile, deal every day with how best to retain my independence, afford to age in place, and stay as healthy as I can despite my medical issues.  Child free, and without anyone emotionally and biologically programmed to care for me as my body continues to age and my birth defects continue to evolve and plague me.

As I visit “F”, who is coping with dementia, and try and share companionship and adventures, I reflect on her 3 marriages, divorces, and childless state.

As I visit “F”, whose affairs are supposed to be monitored long distance, from Canada, while her mind and personality slowly slips away, I wonder at all the thousands of choices that had to fail to bear fruit for her to be here, at this moment in time, independence gone, and depending on the kindness of strangers as caregivers in her assisted living facility.

I am thankful “F” made good choices that lucked out to her having financial independence until her money runs out (which will hopefully not happen until after her mind is fully gone), and I’m grateful that she has some connections to family in Canada who will handle her affairs to the best of their ability, even though they won’t get on a plane or drive down from Canada to see for themselves that she’s doing ok.

Meanwhile, I’m also opening my home to “CM” who did everything society and her family expected, but..

– who ended up divorced and raising her kids solo

– who had a husband who refused to pay child support

– who now has grown children struggling to build their own lives

– who is now 64, never really worked (beyond raising kids), struggling financially, and

– who has been couch surfing since at least 2009, trying to survive.

3C7839B7-C2B4-459B-A3B1-CA1489FF1A76

”CM”, if the Park managers agree, will move in with me as we try and get her back on her feet, financially, by helping her qualify for subsidized housing so that her broken and no-longer-able-to-work body can have a place to call her own in order to age in place.

At some point, if she cannot get the help she needs any other way, we may have to force her into a woman’s shelter to allow her to jump the line for necessary housing assistance.  “CM” was supposed to get on various waiting lists way back in 2009, but I suspect that pride and hiding from her reality stopped her from following thru on those recommendations to get what she needed.  At any rate, I’ve agreed to give her 6 months or so in my spare room at Old People’s “Camp”, and we’ll see what’s possible for helping her avoid homelessness.

She’s a far cry from the unknown road ahead for that quincineara girl, but in the belief that it truly takes a village to help each other get thru each stage of their lives,    I’ll try my best to help her get on her feet and stay independent for as long as possible.

It what the village is supposed to do, when one of their own needs help.

 

 

Elder Abuse

5ED06B9B-6830-49A2-BBB3-44E7944FC094

Today, I was supposed to go help my friend, F, reorganize her single large closet in her assisted living apartment.

We were going to sort through all the clothes she moved from her home, weeding out the ones she no longer wears or needs, and organizing her travel photo albums so that they would be on bookcases at floor level, instead of higher up on shelves in the closet where she can’t access their contents.

We were going to move the chest taking up space in her bedroom, blocking easy access to the closet, and we were going to find a way to store her granny cart and her vacuum so that they weren’t taking up valuable floor space outside her closet.

Instead, I’m going to be dealing with a panic attack over finances and trying to calm her down.

P, the controlling friend that has made all the decisions regarding F’s finances, is harping on the fact that F is spending “too much”, all while knowing she just sold her fully paid for home for $789k, and that the place F has chosen to live should run her about $70k to $80k per year.

Instead of treating F like an impaired but reasonable adult, P is refusing to answer F’s questions (regardless of how many times the questions are repeated), leaving F to play a tit-for-tat game of hiding her money (and pulling out a lot of cash so that she feels she has control of her money, since she’s no longer seeing monthly statements).

F’s determination to wrest control from the largely silent Canadian relatives who have all her money and power of attorney (now that she’s been declared in need of guardianship / conservatorship) is a drama that didn’t need to be.

But, I blame P as the instigator.

P is a control freak, in my humble opinion, and her unwillingness to answer F’s reasonable questions has lead directly to this crisis.

(Calling me last night about 8:30pm to cancel our get together today, and then calling me at 6:02am in a panic to discuss things, shows what stress F is being put under by receiving mixed messages and different answers from everyone in her life).

So, I’ll go see F later today as originally agreed.  We’ll work out a strategy for her to stay calm and – possibly? – get some answers.  And, I’ll give her some suggestions about how to stay calm and create a workable budget for weekly cash so that she has a negotiation strategy for dealing with the drama that I otherwise consider elder abuse.

Please, if you have an elderly friend whose elevator no longer goes consistently to the top floor…  just be kind.  Be patient.  Answer all their questions even if they’ve asked them 1,000 times.  Don’t bully them.  Don’t boss them.  Try to listen and be supportive without badmouthing anyone else trying to help them.  Just care enough to show up.

We’re all going to be in a vulnerable point at some stage of our life due to age, infirmity or financial vulnerability.  Just be patient.  Try your best to be kind and not make the situation worse.