Doing my best to avoid falling into old habits, so that means a lot less time on the computer.  We haven’t fallen into anything like a schedule yet.  Not sure if that’s good or bad.  People seem to need routine and without it I feel a little off balance.  Like I need an anchor.    Been going to my neighbor’s on Wednesday nights to talk Buddhism with him and some of his friends.  That’s been interesting so far.

tai chi3Still haven’t decided on Tai Chi, Yoga or some martial art.  There is an interesting yoga studio a few miles away which promises to be interesting.  I plan to check it out tomorrow and maybe sign up for a month of classes to see how I like it.  For the most part I’m only finding gyms where classes are offered.  I don’t want to join a gym like 24-hour Fitness, but join something like a Dojo.  I’m sure I’ll find something.

I’ve gotten most of my doctor visits dealt with.  Saw a GP and she seems fine, and a psychiatrist that got my meds straight, though we decided to leave my antidepressants at the lower dosage.  My new GP has referred me to a neurologist and an orthopedist.  I have to check and see if they are on my insurance plan and make appointments.  So I’ve got things moving health-wise.  Today I saw a therapist.  I like her and will see her again next week. She gave me a couple of assignments:  write a sentence a day about something I am grateful for–not, and write down the funniest thing that ever happened to me.  That’s not going to be easy.  I can’t think of anything.  I’ll have to review some journals, see if I can find something.Kayak

Not having a routine is a bit weird, but Husband and I come and go any time of day or night.  We’ll walk around downtown or one of the other hip places with shops and bars.  Last night we finally took out the kayak and put it in the bay.  We were only out a short time, but we had fun and weren’t too tired.  This morning though, I was surprisingly sore!  I look forward to going again later this week.

Husband has been out on his bike nearly every day and feeling good about it, though I don’t know how he does it.  Riding a bike for 1/2 hr hurts my tailbone and he is taking 2 hour rides.  He is really enjoying it.  He still wants to get a stand up paddle board, but feels guilty about spending so much money on himself what with the bike and the kayak (though the whole family can enjoy the kayak), he wants me to go out and bikesbuy something expensive.  I don’t really have anything in mind, but maybe I’ll just translate an equal amount of money toward a martial arts class for six months or so.

Son has been looking diligently for a job and finally has an interview tomorrow.  He’s hoping to get the job.  The money wouldn’t be great, but he figures it could open the door to something better, though if this job was to offer health insurance, he would be most thrilled.  As would we all.

Getting Settled

We’ve been in the new place about a month now.  Our neighbors are all very friendly, and don’t seem to mind the yipping dogs too much. Walking the dogs around the neighborhood, I’m learning my way around.  I know where to shop and what shops I can walk to.  It’s starting to feel like home.

Numerous decisions await us:  stand up board (SUB) or kayak?  And where to take a little weekend away?  And do we put in a Zen garden? or grass?  Where will Son live?  Can he stay sober?  But that’s not living in the moment, is it?  It’s easy to fall into old habits, though Husband and I are trying not to.  We are trying to be more social, and trying new things, like going out to a club, or eating Thai (or some other equally exotic food).  We’re starting to push each other a little more out of our comfort zone.  Husband says buying the kayak/SUB feels so selfish.  I think that’s a good thing.  He’s never expressed feeling selfish before, though he (and I) deny him nothing.paddle board

It’s so easy to fall back into old ways of thinking, but I am still able to pull myself out.  I haven’t decided on visiting a Buddhist temple/center to visit yet, so I’m feeling less centered.  I wanted to talk to our neighbor, who is also interested in Buddhism, maybe he’d recommend one?  Meanwhile, I have postponed setting up doctor visits and I have been without some of my meds for weeks, and will be out of my antidepressants soon. I can’t let myself postpone these appointments any more.  I don’t know what would happen without my antidepressants, and I’m not keen to find out.



Our house abuts a community garden, which we thought would be a good thing.  We figured that with all that huge garden, nothing was going to bother our little garden.  We were wrong.  We’ve seen so far, two huge racoons, countless squirrels, rabbits, hawks, and one skunk.  Our dog Doobie discovered the skunk.  Whew!  What a smell.  A cross between burned hair and boiled peanuts.  Something the poor dog got so close the fur on his face was green.  We’d gone through it with our last dog, and that was the middle of the night, we let the dog in and he brought the stench with him.  Right onto our bed!  At least this time we were able to easily bathe the little dope and cover him in a mixture of vinegar and baking soda.  Also have dishes of vinegar in each room, and burned scented candles all afternoon.  My eyes still burn.

Still Among the Living

Pretty much moved in now. Things did not quit transpire as anticipated, but, of course, worked out just the same.  We’re still making two more trips to the house to get some forgotten items, organize the donations and the junk to haul away.  Make sure that water and power are off.  Plus we still have our old computers to get rid of.  There’s a place near the house that recycles computers and related items. kitchen

Son ended up with us after all, but it is definitely temporary.  We only bought a tiny dinette set with only two chairs.  We’ve got a loveseat, not a couch.  Only one bathroom.  So this can only last a couple months.  Now that we finally have internet (been cut off from the World  since June 11!) son has started to look for work.  Luckily, they are hiring at two good local companies right now.  I looked at apartments and found a few suitable with suitable rental rates.  Maybe we should wait until he’s employed?  Or would it be better to provide the incentive to work now?LB

We’re still sorting through boxes three and four times, and have enough cardboard for an entire cardboard “tent” city.  It will take us months to dispose of it all through the recycling.  Then yesterday, one of our recycling bins didn’t get dumped, and the neighbor’s recycling bin didn’t return from the street yesterday.  I think it’s one I see across the street.  How it got there, and if it is ours, is still a bit of a mystery.  But one I can live with.  I checked the other nearest neighbors and they don’t seem to have an extra bin, so I think odds are good it belongs over here.  Otherwise what do I do?  Call the city and tell them our recycling bin went missing?

Working hard to landscape the little back yard.  We’re about halfway done.  We’ve got the flower beds planted, just need to put in a low deck or patio and some stepping stones, and we’ll be done.  Hopefully, we will be in a position to invite our neighbors and Husband’s friends over for 4th of July barbeque.  Tonight we’ve been invited out to meet some of Husband’s friends for drinks. blues I think I’d like to say no (we’re not meeting them until 9:00 PM), but this move is a lot about doing new things, so I told Husband we should go.  We don’t have to stay very long.  We can tell everyone we’are tired, and truthfully we are tired after working in the yard and the garage all day.  Did I mention we live above a garage now?  That means up and down the stairs a minimum of 3 times a day, and lately it’s closer to 10-15 times a day!  I better lose some weight now!

I still need to spend some time setting up appointments for my various new doctors, but I will be catching up with everyone soon.  I am eager to hear what people have been up to this past week or so

It Never Ends

Busted Son–again–for drugs a couple days ago.  Told him he needs rehab.  Well he quit taking the Xanax and now is suffering withdrawals.  pillsIt’s terrible to watch.  So far the physical aspect isn’t too bad; his whole body just aches.  But the mental aspect is most troubling.  He is angry (at himself) and depresses about his life.  The worst part is being unable to help him see the positives in his life.  Pulling someone out of depression is like pulling your feet out of thick, stinking mud.  I can only tell him it will get better, that we are here for him, that we will help him through this.  I truly believe he needs professional counseling, though, of course, he refuses to try that.  I told him a 30-day in-patient rehab would be best for him, but he’s afraid of what his ex would say or do if she knew, and how do you handle 30 days of no contact?  How could we keep the truth from her? Son fears she would use this as an excuse to take his son away from him.  Not that we would ever allow that.

He is having a tough time with the move.  His son will be living at his ex’s during the week and going to school in her neighborhood.  He’s afraid of losing his son.  Of course, he knows taking drugs is no way to ensure that he keeps possession of his son, but he started out taking Xanax just to help with the depression about the whole situation.  With this move, though, we will only be about 20 minutes away, whereas now it’s easily 1 1/2 hour drive to his ex’s.  Plus, he deserves some “me” time.  I would love it if he could live on his own, find a girlfriend, make other friends.  Have a full life, instead of hiding at home, living minute to minute only for his son, doing nothing to help himself.

heartI know Son also fears that Grandson will get into trouble at his new school with the wrong friends.  Grandson has three cousins, two of whom are in constant trouble with the police due to drugs.  He’s afraid now that his son will be closer in proximity to them and get pulled into that world.  His oldest cousin is about 15 and has been in juvenile detention more than once.  Does not attend school, and is in serious trouble of becoming lost to us.  His other two cousins have been in trouble, mostly for smoking pot and skipping school, but one is following his older brother’s example and can’t seem to stay out of trouble.  It’s so sad to see this happening.  Of course, we have no influence over the cousins, and Son’s ex insists their son will be kept away from his cousins, but it does little to relieve my son’s mind.

I am still looking forward to this move.  We should be living there by next week.  Son and Grandson have a few days of school next week, and will join us next Thursday.  I wish it didn’t scare Son so much.  Grandson is thrilled with the move.  He knows how close he will be to his dad, and that means so much to him.  There are many more employment options for Son and he’s assured a quick commute.  He will be able to meet people his own age.  All he has to do to meet people is take his adorable puppy on a walk.  That dog is a major chick magnet!



We’re hopeful that once the withdrawal is over, and we are all settled in the new place, Son will return to his normal self.  All the stress of the move, and the end of the school year, and Grandson moving in with his mother will all be settled.  A new chapter in our lives will begin and Son will find it to be a positive change.

Hope is all I have at this point, and I am grateful to have that.  I am not crying about this latest set-back, and instead continue to look forward, knowing we will pull through this, as we have before.  Perhaps Son will finally banish his demons and be able to stay sober.  In the event he does not, we will insist on rehab, and then a halfway house.  Which I would prefer he do anyway.  There is a service I found which will help you find the right center and the proper help our son needs.  Unfortunately, they returned my call, but we were out.  I haven’t had a chance to call them back, but I suppose it’s really something Son should do for himself.


Yet Another One

Most appalling thing I’ve ever seen.  Police violence in the US is truly out of control.  A Manteca, California officer kills a man, Ernesto Duenez, Jr., in his front yard.  I’ve attached the graphic video here ( if you’d like to see the dash-cam video from Officer Moody’s car.  I will warn you, it is violent, graphic and shocking.

I didn’t know anything about this incident before I saw the video.  It certainly seems as if the cop was waiting for the victim, but there was no indication from the video that he was dangerous.  Even assuming Duenez was dangerous, I believe the shooting was completely unwarranted.  Of course, the police department believed otherwise and cleared Officer Moody of any wrongdoing.   According to the police Duenez was armed and dangerous and wanted in connection with  a domestic violence incident earlier in the day.  The cops say he was a known gang member and Moody claims he brandished a knife as he exited the truck.  It looks to me like he was simply trying to get out of the truck as ordered.  Less than 5 seconds pass from the time the cop jumps out of his car and Duenez being shot.  Hardly enough time for him to make a threatening move toward the officer.  You can see Duenez (after being shot 11 times) appears to be dead, yet when additional cops arrive on scene, they roll him over and handcuff him.  Not once do the police check the man for a pulse.  Some  minutes pass before one of the officers asks about calling paramedics, and another minute or more before someone requests a life-saving kit be brought to him.   By the time paramedics begin CPR (interrupted at least once by the cops as they continue to search through Duenez’ clothing) he is clearly dead, though CPR continues until he is put on a gurney and moves out of the frame.

On the silver-lining side, the family did win the wrongful death suit, receiving $2.2 million.  Still, it doesn’t really help the family.  I’m sure they would prefer to have their husband/father/brother/son rather than money.  I’m sure they would prefer that Officer Moody was in jail, or at least that he was no longer a cop.  I don’t want a cop like that protecting me!

I’m curious though.  What do you think?  Are US cops out of control with their use of deadly force?


For more info on this case, here are a couple more links.


Justice For Ernest Duenez Jr.

Life Without Health Insurance in the US

I am currently without health insurance.  Only three months, but it hasn’t quite gone as smoothly as I had hoped.  I take 6 prescriptions and 27get them all filled for 90 days by a mail-order service.  This isn’t my favorite way to get my meds, but it is significantly cheaper.  This service has a bad history of not getting my scripts filled in a timely manner.  That’s what happened this last time I used the service.  Three of my scripts are anti-depressants were ordered by my psychiatrist and came without a hitch.  Luckily.  I get two meds from my neurologist and these were submitted with plenty of time.  I’d get my 90 day supply and make it through to July when I start getting medicare.  No sweat, right?  Wrong!  Even though they had three weeks to fill them, only one arrived.  A week passed and the second, Lyrica was still not filled.  I got online and checked on it, and they said the pharmacist had a question and the doctor didn’t reply, and the request was cancelled!  Yay.  That’s the way to take care of people.  I got online, requested the script be re-requested.  At that time I also ordered a refill for my thyroid meds.  They said the doctor would be contacted.  I called to follow up, as nothing arrived and I was down to the last few days of my coverage.  In the end, neither the Lyrica (a pain med) or the thyroid med was filled.

logoIt’s been a week without Lyrica and I am feeling the lack quite significantly.  The right side of my head is on fire and it feels like I’ve got an icepick in my right eye.  If I pay cash for just 30 days of Lyrica at the local pharmacy, it costs $900, so I ordered some neurontin from Canada.  Cost me $150 for 120 tabs.  It will take far more of the neurontin to relieve the pain by 3:1.  The only bad thing is the neurontin has yet to arrive.  It may be another week before it comes.  Meanwhile I am working on controlling my pain with meditation.  I am able to take it from a 6 to a 3, which is manageable.  But if I hit a ten before I get control, it’s nearly impossible to bring the pain level down much.

I am not exactly sure what going without levothyroxine will do, especially stopping suddenly.  So I’ll just see if I can make the last 20 doses last me 5 weeks.

I looked into getting a 30 day supply of each from the manufacturer.  But  it would take longer to get that paplevothyroxine-sodiumerwork completed and involve a trip to two doctors in order to have a prescription written for them.  It’s just easier to live without for a short time.  I hope.

Lyrica is notorious for weight gain.  Taking it on top of a low functioning thyroid and going through menopause it’s a wonder I don’t weigh more than I do.  So I have to look at the positives–I have already lost 8 pounds and I only have 5 weeks before I am insured again.

I have always felt for those in the US without health care.  Not health insurance.  People don’t need insurance,  just health care.  This experience has made me even more sensitive to the lack of proper health care and easy access to medication.  I’m glad I quit taking the Copaxone injections.  Those run some $3500 per 30 day supply.  Outrageous.  These drug companies want our support, our tax money to do all their research, yet they don’t make the drugs accessible to everyone.  That’s just wrong on so many levels.

I hope to be down 20 pounds before July and I get back on the Lyrica.  At least something good will come of this experience.  Plus I know the Lyrica really works.


The Life of a House


Appleton house ca 2009

I always feel sad when an old building falls into disuse and disrepair and gets torn down. The house I grew up in was a beautiful Victorian on the interior, with a parquet floor in the dining room and a terrazzo tile in the bath.  (And not terrazzo tile, but one solid floor.  With the clawfoot tub and old radiator, it was actually one of the prettiest bathrooms.)  I remember sitting on the radiators after coming in from ice skating, and slipping our shoes underneath to dry. I saw the house in 2009 and it has been a rental for 20 years. I can tell they have made the porches into bedrooms, and I shudder to think what the interior looks like. I am sure that one day in the not too distant future it will be torn down. That will indeed be a sad day. At least all my schools are still standing and being well used. And many of the other old buildings in my hometown have been well kept and upgraded.


Every tree on this lot was planted by my mother.  In fact we used to tease her that she was always planting ‘twigs’  Well 40 years later there are about eight 40 foot tall sugar maples gracing what used to be a larger yard.  They have widened the driveway significantly and eliminated nearly a third of the yard and tearing down some trees.

IMG_0092The house has been divided into two apartments, one upstairs, the other down.  I have no idea what they have done with the full basement and attic.   I notice a sky light in the roof, so maybe they are using that space as well.  The deck they have created for the upper apartment is using the same material my dad and brothers used to make a deck next to the garage.  Now that space is the muddy mess it had been before Dad built the deck.062 (2)

My dad worked 7 days–or rather nights–per week.  He tried working days once, but it seems as if that only lasted about a month.  Guess he was a night person.  He came home at 8 in the morning just as we headed out to school and slept until dinner at about 5.  Then he’d watch TV and nap until he left for work at 10 pm.  I didn’t like my dad, but he loved that house.  Every year he’d spend his two week vacation improving the house in one way or another.  One of the first things he did was replace the crumbling plaster with dry wall and painted the entire upstairs.  Himself.  He never hired help and much of the time us kids were too young to help.  He wanted his own space and so there came the year he moved the kitchen from one room to what had been a large pantry.  He spent one vacation re-doing the parquet floor in the dining room.  I remember the dust from that job.  One year he put in new carpet downstairs and repainted in both the living room and parlor.  Then there was the year he did the deck.  He never took a day off work.  Usually worked the holidays as well since that was a lot of extra money.  Plus I don’t think he liked having to deal with us kids.  I have to respect that.


Appleton House ca 1890

One year in the 70s a lady came to the door.  She told us her grandfather had built the house back in 1890 (or so).  She was very kind and my mother invited her in to look around.  In thanks she gave us the photo here.  It was a beautiful house.  I hate the way they did away with the wood and replaced it with the ugly stone exterior.  Most of the gingerbread was also missing.  The side porch, facing front, was still an open space.  It was later enclosed in glass and was used as a solarium, but it remained unheated.  I wonder if they have heat in that room now?


t was a melancholy trip I took in 2009 to go back home after 30 years away.  Much had changed.  The streets were wider and many trees were missing.  Each end of town had been built up and had a lot of shopping, new houses, and hotels.  When I was a kid it was all open space.  Nothing up there except the highway and some parks.  I believe the parks have been enlarged.

The place where the railroad tracks ran through town is now a hiking/biking trail and planted with beautiful full bushes and trees.  They refer to it as the Mosquito Highway now.  When I was a kid the train still ran through town about once a week.  Just a little freight train.  The tracks were pulled out in the 80s.

Aerial View OconomowocIt’s sad when places change.  As they say, you can’t really ever go home again.  It’s never the same as we remember, and it always seems the changes feel negative and leaves me longing for the ‘good old days.’  I guess that’s what happens when we get older.  So does our house and schools and town.

In the case of my hometown, the downtown area still retains some of it’s Victorian charm and several buildings have been rehabbed and saved.  One of them has always been a bar, and on the opposite side was the pharmacy.  It is now a tourist trap, filled with trinkets saying, “Where the Hell is Menomonee Falls?”

I did drive through my father’s hometown, and where the family first settled back in 1870 or so.  It still retains much of it’s turn- of-the-century charm and for that I am grateful.  I drove by my grandma’s house, and it hadn’t changed much.  Even the old garage was still there.


modern-architecture_0Why do we attach so much importance to objects like buildings: houses, schools, and childhood haunts.  It is sad to see the death of a beautiful thing I guess, whether it is a memory or the house you grew up in.  But as I wrote in my previous post, it’s all part of the cycle.  Just as we die, our hometowns are transformed into something new and different, and not to our liking.  It’s always too much growth, too few trees, too wide of streets, too many freeways.  Now here I am moving into a new house, built in about 1920 full of ceramic tile and real wood floors.  Full of charm and I’m sure memories.  We will make our own memories there, and then one day, when we have turned to dust, so will that building, and many of the other places I remember to make room for what is new.

I’m learning to accept New, not as ugly, but as different.  There’s not much else you can do.


We Are Our Parents

moonIt strikes me more every day how much life doesn’t change.  You can try all you want, but you eventually realize you have become your parents.  It’s inevitable.  Always has been, always will be.  I could follow my family tree for eons, and find the same thing; we start out young and stupid, yet think we know it all.  Then in our mid to late 20s we realize we don’t know it all, and make an effort to learn everything.  We read, we watch, we study.  We raise a family and tell ourselves we won’t make the same mistakes our parents did.  Unfortunately we still make mistakes, just not the same ones.  Yet we think we do a good job.  We become successful in our business or work.  We work hard to prove ourselves worthy.  We muddle along, just like our parents, and their parents, and their parents.  Arguing about politics with our neighbor.  Discussing the news, debating the current war, whether it was a world war, or a tribal war. There has always been war of one kind or another.  We gathered food, then grew food, then we bought food.  But our need for food has obviously never changed.

Amanda and RuthieWe lament the current state of the world and are convinced it was better ‘in the olden days.’  Whether that was 30 or 40 or 100 years ago, it was always better ‘back then.’  We watch as our idols die.  In my mother’s time it was Frank Sinatra.  Grandma remembered when Rudy Valentino died.  (I’m sure there are some of you who don’t know Valentino was the heart-throb movie star of the early silent movies.)  I remember when John Lennon was shot, r any kaWe learn that we don’t know everything but we run out of energy to keep learning new things.  Our brains become full.  We become convinced that we are right.  We know it all, have seen it all.  Just like our parents.  And some of us stop growing.  Become stagnant in our beliefs.  Some of us choose to keep believing what our grandma used to tell us about how salt was good for you, or you needed cod liver oil every day, or that Blacks, or Hispanics (or women, or gays) should know their place and stay there.   Preferably out of sight and not next door to us.John Lennon

Once I realized all this was inevitable I was finally at peace with turning 50.  It took me nearly three years, but I got there.  I hate it.  I hate that nothing has really changed.  Sure we had the Industrial Revolution, the invention of the printing press, emancipation (for Blacks, for women, and now for LBGTQ).  We’ve always polluted our surroundings.  Don’t believe me?  Look at London in the Middle Ages, or Paris, or Amsterdam.  We dumped our waste in the streets, there was no trash pick up.  The streets were dirty and full of animal manure, and when it rained, the manure and waste would be washed into the lakes and rivers which we drank from.

davincis manThere have always been those less fortunate, the poor, the disabled, and unwanted.  Whether illegitimate children, those starving in drought stricken areas, so has it always been and always will be.

We have always loved our family and friends and hated our enemies.  It seems we cannot change our black and white vision of our world.  Us against them.  Us being the religious, them being the Atheists.  Those people–being anyone different from ourselves.  When I was growing up long hair on men was not acceptable.  And by long I mean 1964 Beatles long.   Bald men were seen as less virile and less attractive.  Now most men I see shave their heads.  I can’t understand it.  There is also the current trend of being completely hairless.  Which I totally do not understand.  I like a man with hair.  Long, bearded, and with at least some hair on their chest.   Where I come from good girls wore modest pastel dresses to church, bad girls wore bright red short-shorts.

Everything changes, and yet everything stays the same.  All is cyclical.  The phases of the moon, the tides, taxes, what is considered ‘good’ or attractive.  And yet we like to think ourselves so much better than previous generations.  We’re smarter because we know DNA sequencing, understand chromosomes and viruses, and own tiny computers.  Imagine if you dropped Leonardo DaVinci into a evolutionBest Buy.  How would Thomas Jefferson react to riding in a car.  What would Cro-Magnon Man think of today’s cities?  Culture shock for sure.  Culture changes.  The people, not so much.

So much of life inevitable, and impermanent.  There will never be an end to religion, for religion has always been with us, from our pagan days to Christianity, to Scientology.  People have a need to believe in something beyond this world.   Even Buddhists with all their understanding of the cycles of life and the impermanence of everything believe they come back to the world to try to be better the next time around.

Humanists are a little different.  They are like Buddhists in that they understand everyone has the right to happiness and to be treated with respect, but they don’t believe in an afterlife, or reincarnation.poppies

I like to think we are not reincarnated or live in heaven, but our essence, or soul, or atoms are returned to the world via our bones and ashes.  We become part of the world we left.  We are in the worms and dirt.  We are the grass and flowers and sun.  Everything is one and we each play a part in the construction of the world.  Leonardo DaVinci is still with us.  He falls on my flowers as rain.  John Lennon is still here as sand in the ocean.  I will always be here, though you won’t see me, and I won’t see you.