Friday, October 15, 2010


This week, as the web came alive with a firestorm of accusations against the banks for causing the current mortgage crises, I had been mentally writing this posting for several days. When the banks began declaring moratoriums on foreclosures, I was no longer satisfied with just commenting on news forums and blogs. I wanted to crucify U.S. banks for the effect they were having on my life and I wanted vindication. Excited and ready to tell my story through this blog, I had been pulling thoughts together all morning. Determined to jump onto my keyboard after picking my son up from his appointment, I was still writing in my head while driving the few miles to his clinic. 

That is until I saw my 24-year-old son standing outside at the Intensive Care Clinic. There he stood, alone outside of an old red brick building, his head down but the look on his face causing the collapse of the soapbox I'd mentally been standing on. As tears began to well in my eyes, I fought against the overwhelming grief that threatened my ability to be his safe haven.  Struggling with unbearable sadness, I looked into the face of my son and gave him a smile -- hoping to erase the look that no parent should ever have to see.  The face of severe mental illness.  

Stopping the car, I rolled down the window and croaked out a hello while screaming inside at the loneliness that darkens his sad blue eyes. Remembering the moment as I type these words, the tears have begun to fall down my cheeks -- again.  My child is broken.  His world is a never-ending nightmare that starts within minutes of opening his eyes every morning. The fear that has taken over his life as the voices took over his inner mind is now showing across his once beautiful face. 

Turning out onto the roadway, gripping the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white, I asked him how the visit went and apologized for being a couple minutes late.  Listening to his one-word answers, I silently prayed to hear something different than the usual drug-induced monotone. I raged inside at a God who could allow this suffering to happen to a future that had once been bright.  Glancing over to see his reaction to the offer of a milkshake, my heart grabbed at the tiny smile that appeared on his face.  Like someone lost in the desert for hours without water, I desperately searched for something else to slake my thirst for my lost little boy. 

My desperation turned into a shake and a hamburger and fries, along with a DVD that we'd seen a hundred times before.  Home and Dane Cook - his two ports in the storm.  Grateful to hear him laughing, I silently wondered what else would ease his mind as my eyes took inventory of a home that becomes a of house of horrors when the voices take over.  Quietly tip-toeing into another room, I reviewed the strategy list and suggestions from his counselors.  Reading through the many pamphlets and handouts, I listened to a growing silence from the living room.  Fighting a surge of anxiety, I stepped into my bedroom to calm a rising panic attack. Several minutes later, attacked abated, I gathered my courage to face whatever was waiting for me. Walking down the hallway, I made a silent promise that together we would face his demons and banish the voices that continued to promise him harm.

There he lay, fast asleep on the couch, the white color had faded from his face.  The medications and exhaustion, from a night of voices commanding him to slit his own throat, allowed him to slip into the only thing that gives him an hour of peace.  Although I worried about a nap interfering with a for-his-own-good schedule that he needs to adhere to, I had neither the heart nor the energy to take that away from him.  I turned to head to my room for some much needed rest when I heard him whisper, "Mom." Turning around, I looked at his sleepy face and for a moment I saw my little boy as I listened to him say, "Thanks for taking some of the alone away today."  Smiling and assuring him that my old bones needed a nap too, I headed back to my room to rest and to wait. The next storm is never far away.

And so my friends, my posting is not the one I was composing in my head for the last few days.  As the firestorm of the mortgage and foreclosure crises continues to grow unabated, leaving so many of us wondering if we'll have our homes in six months, I fight another war that has interrupted the life of my family. Tomorrow is another day to take on the narcissistic greed that has infected our country and continues to wreak havoc as I struggle to save my own home.  Today, for as long as I am able, I fight an unseen enemy for the life of my son.  I will put out the fires of mental illness for as long as I can and bring comfort and peace to a lonely young take some of the alone away.   

We have much to be judged on when he comes, slums and battlefields and insane asylums, but these are the symptoms of our illness and the result of our failures in love.
                                                                                                                                        Madeleine L'Engle

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sharing the Humor

And just when I thought things couldn't get any worse....they did.  I am not going to discuss the soap opera that is my life at the moment and instead, share the funniest cartoon that was emailed to me.  It just struck me as so funny so I knew I had to pass it along:

Have a Happy Day!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Looking For My Sense of Humor

I used to be so funny.  I mean funny to the point where people told me that I could make a living at it.  I found humor in everything and an amazing ability to help other people see humor in most anything.  Even the terrible and tragic.  Yet my humor was human humor. I never made fun but just pointed out the obviously absurd or silly.  I never hurt another person with my silliness.  My only goal was to see people smile. Oh how I loved the sound of laughter.  Even more so, I loved the sound of laughter coming from someone who realized I had just hit the nail on the head and there was humor it that rusty old piece of metal.

I am trying to find that part of me again.  Admittedly, I am a little too paralyzed at the moment to be too effective, but I am trying.  I miss that girl and I love the laugh lines around my mouth. I earned each and every one of them.  This whole foreclosure business has completely robbed me of my sense of humor, except those few moments when I allow myself to fantasize about mean and horrific ways to torture corporate executives.

So in my quest to find my sense of humor and find the motivation to finish makeover projects (foreclosure or not) - here are a few conversations I had with myself over the last few days while I lay in my bed staring at the ceiling:

Yellow and black spiders the shape of black widows are not big enough to eat process servers. Move it along or kill it.  It's not nice to put a dead spider on a string to drop down into someone's face when they ring the doorbell.

Spray painting and putting a frame around a spider web will not catch on as a new art form.

Putting a basket of oranges in front of the cabinet door will not hide the fact that the paint job is half done.

Blood that dripped onto the sheer drapes from a finger cut does not look like candy stripes.

After painting all the bedroom furniture white and then spend hours -- correction - days upon days --  finding just the right color of blue and white comforters, sheets, drapes, knick knacks and flowers does not get me out of painting the walls just because the bank might take my house.  My stubborn refusal to paint just calls into question my taste - or color blindness.

You can't run around in the dark all the time. Replacing light bulbs gives light to the room, they are not gifts to blood sucking bankers.

The sound of a dripping faucet will make you nuts long before it would fill up the condo and flood the place.

Strangling a grown man with a doily is too silly to dream about.

Always leave a place with a smile and your dignity intact.  You can key their car doors when you get into your car heading out of town.

Anyone need a motivational speaker?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Frightened By Recent Decisions and Circumstances, parts 3 & 4; Update 2012

Part 3 - Life Changes Forever

On October 31, when my son had his first psychotic break, it was the beginning of the end of my son's days of employment.  Ever optimistic and in a state of denial about the severity of his illness, we did not file for disability for him. The doctors had high hopes for a better recovery for quite awhile and I followed along with their predictions and prognosis.  In fact, many schizophrenics are able to manage some sort of employment with the proper medications and support.  This hasn't been the case for my little boy.  My son is still very sick, unable to care for himself, unable to be left alone and arrangements are in the works for a day treatment program due to the severity of his illness.  Everyday my heart just breaks all over again for the child I have lost to mental illness.

In June, his doctors told me that it was time to apply for disability. That process continues and we are months away from approval and financial assistance. In the meantime, he has to have weekly therapy, several medications and recurrent hospitalizations when he becomes a danger to himself.  His credit -- before he ever actually had credit - is destroyed and the bill collectors are baying at the door.

Part 4 - The Last Straw Finale

In February, I got my tax bill and discovered that my condo is now worth less than half of what I owe on it. Uh oh. 

In March, thinking that maybe I should just sell the darn thing, I called my original realtor. Her response to my inquiry was that as much as she wanted to help, she can't sell a condo in my suburb to save her life.  Overbuilt with thousands of condos and townhouses, we have been hit hard by the real estate meltdown. Everyday we see another moving van and a new for sale/foreclosure sign goes up.  \an exodus of people leaving for areas where the rent hasn't skyrocketed and the cost of basic living isn't as high as it is here.  

In April, after reviewing my finances and realizing that I would not be able to afford the current mortgage payments by the end of summer, I started the process for help by applying to the Making Homes Affordable Program.  Without going into details that are a whole other column, let's just say that the process did not work as it should have and the due diligence that should have been in process by the bank (mortgage holder) was not in place. After jumping through one too many hoops, I had to enlist the help of a government sponsored financial counseling corporation to run interference -- more than once. 

In July, the bank finally informed us they had all the documents they needed and I would hear something by August 20.

As I noticed the first signs of Fall last week, that old familiar feeling of panic set in. For two weeks, I had been hounding the bank without response.  Knowing that my bank account was dwindling, I again had the counseling corporation run interference.  Time was up and I needed information. 

Finally,  someone at the bank made a decision.  I was denied the program.  I do not have a high enough income to qualify.   Let me repeat that:  They cannot lower my mortgage payments to something I can afford because I do not make enough money to qualify for the program.  Wait, isn't that what the program is for?

It was worst possible of news. My fear of homelessness is becoming closer to reality. Upon hearing the news, I broke down.  It is now the end of summer and I can no longer afford the full mortgage payment. At the beginning of next month, I will be over $1200.00 behind and the number will grow every month until foreclosure proceedings start. By my figures, the possibility of homelessness by Christmas is very real. The bank said they are looking into other programs. They were vague and secretive in their explanations of these "other programs."  I suspect  they were just trying to get me off the phone.

If I could run away, I would already be packing. If I could live in my car, I would be heading for a warmer climate. My son is in treatment, I am in treatment -- we cannot run away. Tears have become my night time companion.

Remember when I typed earlier that it was my superstition that kept me from saying much about it? It was just a silly little thought I had that if I talked about it, I would jinx the process.  How precious are those childhood tactics that we go back to when faced with a consequence we can't deal with?  Today, I am motionless with shock and paralyzed with indecision.

I can't think anymore about homelessness with my schizophrenic son. For just right now, it is just too much. Tomorrow is another day to burn up the phone lines.

Update 2012
We won our modification.  It took almost 3 years from beginning to end.  Thinking about the process: over 100 hours on the phone, two consumer groups, one state and one county agency, 3 federal agencies, 11 Bank of America customer assistants, about a thousand tears, many tantrums, countless failed promises and bottles of anti-anxiety meds boggles the mind. In December 2012, tentative approval was given and after a few smaller hoops, final modifications were granted.  Hip Hip Hooray. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Frightened By Recent Decisions and Circumstances, Parts 1 & 2

Part 1 - The Days Before

Since the start of this blog, I haven't divulged much about the what, why and how of the situation regarding the possible loss of my home.  It was just plain ole superstition and anxiety that has kept me quiet. Circumstances changed on Thursday and the the clock has started ticking again. I truly believed our chances were good.....but now..... fear kept me awake most of the night.

When I bought my condominium a few years ago, I was healthy -- financially and physically.  I did my homework, hired a reputable mortgage broker and real estate agent, spent several weeks reviewing properties and got pre-approved for a mortgage loan at a set 6½%. I utilized a city program to help with first-time buyers closing costs, reviewed my financial situation with an adviser, put away four months of funds for emergencies and bought a condominium well within my budget.  In other words, I had all my ducks in a row. 

Except for one thing - Total and permanent disability.  I was still in my forties, in good health and of the belief that I would work at least until age 65.  Like most other Americans working for small businesses, my employers didn't offer short term or long term disability insurance.  Buying that type of insurance was so cost prohibitive that I had talked myself into believing it was an unnecessary expense for someone so young.

I was wrong.

Part 2 - The Hits Begin

I became permanently disabled three and half years ago. It took 18 months to get through the Social Security Disability program - forms filled out, records retrieved, files reviewed, independent medical exams, etc. -- all take time.  Even after approval, there is another 5 months before the first check arrives.  Additionally, it's another 24 months before you are eligible for Medicare.  As a result, my savings and retirement monies are gone. With absolutely no money coming in for over two years, my retirement and savings accounts were wiped out faster than I could have imagined.  

During a time when the U.S. economy tanked, living expenses spiraled out of reach.  We cut back on food, took light bulbs out of lamps and shut down the heater as often as we could. Physician copayments and medications in the range of $200 - $400 a month caused my checking account to tap into in overdraft account that was only meant for emergencies.  Unprepared, I became a virtual medical bankruptcy much faster than I believed it could happen. 

With some creative juggling, things settled down for awhile. With my SSDI income and my son's paycheck, we weren't living as before but we were making it. 

                                        [ To be continued...]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Auction Bound

Another great auction is scheduled soon and I, of course, will be there.  I don't mean getting in my car and driving out to some warehouse in the middle of the state....entering a building that could have been a barn at one time -- but now has a green neon sign across the rooftop proclaiming to have unbeatable prices.... sitting on chairs that have to be tested for weight bearing..... and listening to some skeletor-looking guy (normally I would cross the street to avoid).... bark out sentences that could resemble a price......

I'm too intimidated to raise my hand and ask questions, let alone bid on something. God forbid, I accidentally buy the hood ornament to a 60-year old Chevy. 

No, I'm talking about attending auctions from the comfort of my computer room (read bedroom) with a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin to nibble.  The net has changed everything and much to the relief of this agoraphobic, for the better.  They have made it so easy, almost to the point of too easy. You have to learn discipline -- find your item, pick a price and stick with it.  Bidding wars are fun .... until you realize you just bid 35 bucks for a Pez dispenser.

For $2.50, this is what I won at the last auction I "attended":

                        This awesome little wicker table and.....

                                               this iron!!

I put the little wicker table in the corner of my bedroom with my beloved blue pitcher and a vase of silk flowers that match the colors of my room.  It's in a spot that I see when I wake up or when I am working on my computer and it never fails to bring a smile to my face.  It truly is the little things.

"Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and
realize they were the big things."
Author Unknown

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Keeper of Childhood Secrets

Over the years I've heard most of the secrets of the childhoods of my friends.  The good, the bad and the ugly, I have always been interested.  The following story appeared in my old blog and I still get emails about it to this day. Thinking that it contains good insight and a lesson or two, I have decided to re-post it here today.

I've been thinking a lot about a story I heard that happened over 40 years ago. A young girl, around 13 years old and just this side of puberty, was shopping in one of the local discount stores with her father. She was a pretty little thing with blue eyes, blond hair and a long-held secret of extreme shyness. While her father wandered off to whatever it is that dads wander off to, this young girl was trying on shoes for her first day of school. She was alone on a shoe aisle when a man came up to her and stating chatting with her about the shoes.

The young girl heard the alarm bells in her mind the minute the man started talking to her. The conversation was innocent but it did not sway the fear that was slamming her into almost breathlessness. There was something wrong with the man.  She continued to try to ignore him but he kept up his barrage of compliments and encouragements to leave the store with him. She tried to tell the man that her father was in the store. The man paid no attention and pushed the conversation further, asking the girl to go have coffee with him. Assuring the girl that it would just be for a few minutes, he placed his hand on her arm and started herding her towards the front door. As the alarm bells got louder in her head, the girl began to cry -- with panic sending her right to the edge of hysteria. Heads started to turn, conversations stopped, people began looking around and the man quickly left the store.

The girl's father hurried over to the girl, demanding to know what was going on with his young daughter. As that young girl turned toward the sound of the man who should have been her hero, trembling with fear and tears streaming down her face, her father began to get that look on his face. The look that said she was making a scene. As she tried to explain to her father the unimaginable that had almost happened, he just got angry.   He wanted to know what all the crying was about.  His response to her after she managed to get the whole story out was to tell her to stop crying, to stop over-reacting.

No reassurance, no comfort, not even a hug. Just a father curiously infuriated at his frightened child.

I wonder if my friend's father ever knew what he did to his daughter that day? In telling me the story, I knew that was the day that her feelings, fragile as they were, finally shattered as she became aware that Cinderella was just a fairy tale and there was no white knight coming to the rescue. Growing up in a home where discipline was handed out with slaps and belts and even moments when things went way too far, I knew she battled depression long into her adult years.  I thought about the men she dated and even the man she married, realizing that in her search for Prince Charming, she was actually replaying that young girl over and over.  Where was her hero?

This woman of delightful laugh lines on her face and a touch of gray in her hair believes that if that man had gotten her out the door that day when she was so young, she wouldn't be here today. She wonders out loud if her perception was off and perhaps she was being too dramatic.  I don't think she is being melodramatic -- I believe very much it was an attempt by a pedophile to snatch her. I am grateful her intuition is so sensitive. I am grateful she is here.

My friend's father is much older now, in failing health and memory.  There can be no attempts at coming to terms with a traumas of long ago between this father and child. She can only try to get on the other side of her fear and anxiety with a therapist that has finally heard this secret. I will continue to hold her hand and listen whenever that young girl needs to cry. I hear as the keeper of her childhood secrets.

I am here my friend. I am listening.  Are you?

In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him, and in that I am his pupil.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sweet on Sopapillas

I first discovered sopapillas during a visit to a themed Mexican restaurant with a group of friends when I was much younger than I am now.  A ridiculousy picky eater during my youth, I was unusually enchanted during my first encounter with these heavenly pillows of delight.  Already loving anything that has honey dripped over it, no convincing was needed to try one or two or twelve.  Since then, I have been collecting recipes of sopapillas, always striving for to find the perfect one.  After reviewing the dozen or so recipes that I have from the Internet, I realized that they really don't vary all that much in ingredients and that there are 2 basic recipes - one that uses yeast and one that doesn't.  A version of each recipe is below:


1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon of butter, melted
1 tablespoon of sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
vegetable oil

Mix the yeast with the warm water and let it sit for five minutes.
Combine the flour and salt.
Add the butter and sugar to the yeast/water mixture and then slowly add to the flour and salt.
Knead for two minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.
Rise in a covered, greased bowl for one hour or until dough is doubled in size.
Punch down risen dough on a floured surface then roll it out until dough is 1/4 inch rectangle.
Cut dough into inch squares the cut each square in half to make diagnal piece.
Heat up three inches of oil in a big pot to 375 degrees. Fry two triangles of dough at a time in the oil for one minute on each side. The dough should puff when it hits the oil.
Drain and put on paper towels to absorb any extra oil.
Mix together equal parts cinnamon and sugar (to your taste) and lightly coat each sopapilla.
Serve hot with honey.

 4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. shortening
1 1/2 quarts oil for frying

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and shortening. Stir in water; mix until dough is smooth. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

Roll out on floured board until 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into 3 inch squares.  Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Fry until golden brown on both sides.  Drain on paper towels, and serve hot with honey.

My own version: I coat each sopapilla with sugar and cinnamon, then put several on an individual plate, drizzle raspberry syrup over the top, drizzle honey over the top then add a dollop of whipped cream.

Ready, Set, Fry!

And feel free to let me know which recipe you prefer. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sharing Trees

As a transplant to Colorado, I am admittedly partial to the trees of my home state of California.  I have, nonetheless, always enjoyed the Fall in Colorado; its mountains filled with lodgepole pine trees and aspen trees -- painting the hills beautiful shades of yellow and orange. 

Over the last few years, whether traveling by air or driving along Interstates, I have been watching the epidemic of a failing forest devastating the beauty of the Colorado mountains. I had heard the stories on the evening newscasts and picked up an article or two about it but I had paid very little attention to the articles. Some might find this incredible but I had never been a fan of the mountains (or the cold and snow).  To me, they were just another annoying barrier that I had to go through to get to my beloved beach and desert.  It wasn't until last year, on a drive on Interstate 70 headed west, that I really noticed the total devastation. It is now undeniable and enough to melt the heart of this die-hard-hot-weather beach babe. 

Mountains that I had lived by for many years and had come to take for granted

Now entire areas of the forests in Colorado are almost gone.

A phenomenon of rising regional temperatures, drought, forest fires and insect infestations (pine and twig beetles), it is predicted that the lodgepole pine tree will be completely wiped out within the next few years (an area the size of Rhode Island).

The aspen trees will be gone before the new century is over if the course continues unheeded.

The Colorado Rocky Mountains are changing forever in our life time and I wonder about the implication of this in our childrens' life times. 

Nothing ever happens in a vacuum.

Take a good look around you as you drive through your neighborhood.  Learn the names and the history of the towering green giants that are shading your home and giving your children something to climb. Check out those scenic overlooks on your next road trip. Get a window seat on your next trip on a plane and leave the shade up.  Try to see the world and the gifts that mother nature has given us through new eyes.  It's just one more lesson that I've learned as I get older -- never-ever-never take something (or someone for granted.)  Gone is sometimes forever.

Look deep into nature,
and then you will understand everything better.
~ Albert Einstein ~

Friday, August 13, 2010


As I continued makeover work on the master bedroom, a old feeling penetrated its way into my subconscious. Like buried thoughts and messy memories cluttering my mind, the room had also been neglected over time and other projects.

Instead of feeling the usual enthusiasm and inspiration, I felt...


Snubbed...ignored...minimized. Little words that can invoke powerful feelings.

Growing up a military brat, it was a feeling I was all too familiar with. It wasn't until high school that I felt like I belonged. I was 15 when I discovered I could move people with words.  I had been writing as long as I could remember but it was a high school creative writing teacher who read my words out loud. It seems funny to me, and almost a little bit precious, when I remember those first weeks of having my secret exposed. She was a tough educator and I was a broken child. Writing wasn't something to be embarrassed about, it was a gift to be cherished.

Finding my place in the writing world gave me the time to discover intelligence and wit. Two attributes I was going to need during some very tough years. Like those who can decorate without a second thought, I can paint a picture with words alone.

As I started the final coat of paint on the dresser, I thought about how much time I put into each and every posting. I wondered if those who beautify see an empty room the way I see a blank piece of paper. It occurred to me that a makeover of a piece of furniture and a makeover of a paragraph are more similar than they are different. Each of us strives to find perfection.

Varying items and varying topics, staying with the familiar, as well as the interesting.

Trying to stay original, I look for new and different things for my stories and my home.

The words can come as easily as the drapes that were given to me by a neighbor.  Yet other times, it winds up costing me more than I expected to having to add sheers from the dollar store to complete my window dressing.

Although decorating is fun to me, it does not come naturally. So I try to read other blogs faithfully everyday. I am always looking for ideas and opinions from those whose style I admire.  

Reviewing and learning, I had hoped to gain the easy camaraderie that flows between those with so much talent. It saddened and frustrated me when I realized this hurdle remains stubbornly in place.

Writers are mostly a solitary bunch, living inside their minds and a wall of unwelcome shyness. The simple act of asking for an idea or opinion always gives me hesitation. It is not done easily nor without moments of second guessing myself. How much of my darker side will appear and will they dismiss when they realize that light and breezy is a look I'm trying to achieve through eyes that view the world as a not-so-friendly place? A heart that never quite recovered and a restless soul that longs for safety.
Finishing the dresser and thoughtfully trying to add just the right pieces on the dresser, that old feeling begins  to recede. I look at the results and smile -- making over a room can make over your mood. 

Reminding myself that I write for me and I write for my friend, I pick up the phone to let her know the new posting is going up.  As I hang up the phone and nudge the dresser back into place, I smile at her enthusiasm and delight.  I think of the second sentence in the serenity prayer and nod at its undeniable wisdom.  I make a mental note to ignore things I cannot control and look over at a blank computer screen next to an unmade bed.  There's always a new thought to write and a bed that might need a makeover. Thanks goodness for decorators...and writers.   We are not so different after all. 

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Smarty Pants

Due to pain issues and because I'm feeling a little bit like a smarty pants socks, I just have one little before and after picture to share with you.

Laundry room before - where the orphan socks were.

Laundry room after - May I present - The Sock Drawer!

This was a little brown wood and wicker drawer shelf that I picked up at Goodwill on sale day:  Total cost of drawer and white paint on hand: $1.00

I haven't even begun tackling the extremely limited space in the laundry room. It sorely needs much work but I very easily pretend I don't see it. Wink.

For now, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart.  
                                                                                                                                                                     Helen Keller
P.S. I was thinking about stenciling " THE SOCK DRAWER" across the top of the drawer. What do you think??

Monday, August 2, 2010

Decorating With One Eye Open

I was absolutely thrilled to finally get some comments and advice on my redecoration education . Living with a schizophrenic son --whose condition hasn't been stabilized yet --has caused an additional strain on our emotional budgets.  He simply cannot tolerate very much intrusion into his world and that includes company --- even family.  So I am out here all alone, trying to find my decorator way.  All things considered, we are okay.  The biggest bother being that I have to rely on the good folks out there reading my blog for advice and opinions.  A big highlight of my day is checking the blog for comments.  Thank you so much to each and every one of you who take the time to read my postings and an additional thank you for those who take time to comment.  

Last night, the consensus seemed to be that there are a lot of things scattered about in my bathroom.  Hugz for being so gentle. I got the message loud and clear -- there needs to less, instead of more.  Thanks for the restraint in not saying, "Lady, how many friggin candles do you need in  that tiny bathroom?"  After I got over the 25 seconds of bristling, I took another look.  I stood in the bathroom and tried to see what you see.

After a few minutes, it became clear to me what the problem is.  Take a look at this picture.

And now take a look at the picture as seen by those of us who are nearsighted:

That is what one of my eyes sees without my glasses.

Now this is what the the other eye sees:

Retinal artery stroke about six years ago left me with one eye that is almost useless.  I have no central vision in the eye and damaged peripheral vision.  In fact, where you see dots, I see dots in motion due to varying degrees of damage.

As a result, my brain tends to ignore completely what is coming from that eye.  Consequently, I tend to see rooms in blocks of vision as opposed to the whole room.  I see the left upper, the left middle, the right lower, the middle, etc.  It is how my brain has adjusted to the loss of vision and the loss of depth perception. 
(Arrrrr, thee be saucy wenches!)

sorry, I couldn't resist.

I stood in the bathroom for 5 minutes trying to get a better whole picture.  No dice.  My brain has adjusted in order to help me walk without tripping, drive within the line and go down  stairs without falling.  Depth perception correction has its own problems.  Even looking at a picture of the room isn't much help as my brain still cuts the picture into blocks.

This all goes on in the matter of a second or two.  It's difficult to explain -- It's like looking into a room through a very lacy curtain for a split second, then more of a tunnel vision view.

I asked my son to take a look.  He stood there for a couple of minutes and then said, "Mom, she's talking again.  The voice is telling me to cut myself."  Sigh.  SIGH!  "Well, tell her to shut up unless she has a decorator degree."   Ignoring the bitchy voice, I kept pointing out things to him.  "Mom, if it makes you happy, then leave the things where they are, do you know where the Ativan its?"  All in one breath.  Small sigh.  Son wanders off.

After awhile, and because Leverage was about to start, I gave up looking and headed for the kitchen. One must have a snack when one watches Timothy Hutton for a whole hour across the small screen.  For the rest of the night, I considered the issue but didn't take another look.

This morning the situation remains the same.  Because of the "blocking" going on, it is difficult for me to see that a room is "busy" or cluttered.  Due to the same depth perception issues, it's why I have less white and more blue than I really want.  It's why I switched to silver accessories from gold before everyone else did - silver catches the light and lets you know it's there. It's why there are necklaces in my bathroom and not in my jewelry box. 

For now, I can only take your word for it.  And compromise.  The shelf stays up but knickknacks will be minimized a little.  The yellowing paint will be painted over with as bright a white as I can acquire and the cabinet will be painted the same color.

After I paint the walls and cabinet, I will retake the photos and ask for your thoughts again.  Now that you know the problem, it may make it easier to voice your ideas and suggestions.  I have a tough skin and my feathers only ruffle for a  few seconds so feel free to suggest away.

I have a brother-in-law who is a true hoarder. In fact, his hoarding is so extreme, their house was considered for that show on A&E.  Every time I go to their house, I come home and start putting things away, while chanting the two rules I used to live by: If it can be replaced for under ten dollars, throw it out and if you can't pack your two bedroom condo in one day, then you have too much stuff.

Maybe it's time for a trip over there...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Of Karma, Temper Tantrums, Southern Gentlewomen and Smileys

We have been hit by the karma fairy over the last couple of weeks and evidently, judging by the number of things that went wrong or broke, I am currently paying back wrongdoings over the past two or three lives.    

It started with the air conditioner shutting down on one of the hottest days of the year, continued with toilets that made your heart stop when flushed....

....kept going with a  faucet  that leaks water from the hot side handle ... and sending my irritation to new levels was my old Sonic toothbrush with a new mind of its own motor.

The breakdown train rolled on with never-seen-before error messages from the digital camera and I felt my stomach turn over after biting into a pear resulted in a tooth breaking  off.

It truly hit a high point when it was discovered during a weatherization check-up that my furnace is showing signs of a carbon monoxide leak . . .

I won't even go into the little things that happened in between the big things...

Like the lettuce and tomato planter mysteriously being toppled off my patio ledge, destroying most of the plants. . .

Now, I admit to having my moments throughout my life and I've never claimed to be an angel but the problems, breakdowns and possible hazard to my health was making me reconsider the pitchfork and horns approach.
(Of course I would look just like her - wink, wink)
Foul of mind and mood, I headed out to my car. At least the air conditioning isn't broken in the grocery store and I was out of milk.  Pulling into a parking spot, I was mulling over how much food I could buy without overdrawing my account  when I saw a small sedan clip the side of a grocery cart and send it sailing into the side of my car.  Grabbing my purse and my temper, I hopped out of my car, ready to do battle with the owner of the car.

The car's door opened and out came this teeny tiny woman of indiscriminate age with an obvious hunch and almost translucent skin---she reminded me of my grandmother in her failing years. She turned toward me and smiled. And like a cheerleader facing the losing home crowd, her bright and happy face took the anger wind right out of my sails.
Smiling back at her, I found myself following her into the store.  She had me the moment I heard that sweet southern accent ask me to help her with the electric cart. Her name was Rose, she was a widow living with her busybody son and still missed her truck driver husband -- passed on some years ago.

For the next hour and a half, I listened to stories of this couples' adventures on the highways and roads of this U.S.A. 

I became lost in her tales and adventures and enamored of her life. Forgotten were the battles of the last few days, replaced by visions of endless countryside, snow mountain peaks, out-of-the-way diners with fabulous pies, and homes filled with people who still didn't lock their doors at night. 

It was a country I had dreamed of discovering and a secret I kept mostly deep down inside.

Finishing up her shopping, we grabbed my milk and cereal and headed to the check-out stands. Standing silently beside her, I felt an overwhelming rush of thankfulness for a wayward grocery cart and a woman whose vision probably should have kept  her out of the driver's seat. 

I turned to tell her of my gratitude and humbleness but she grabbed my hand and squeezed. It  seems she saw the look on my face after the cart had careened into the side of my car and knew that I was a woman on my last nerve.  Experienced with a life that had thrown some lemons -- and some days, an entire orchard of 'em -- she had sidetracked my day and reminded me of the good things that are still out there, waiting to be rediscovered. I hugged her and we headed for our cars, knowing that life had put us together that day.

I watched as she disappeared inside her car and smiled just a little at the image of the driverless car heading out of the parking lot. Gosh, she sure was tiny.

Sighing to myself, I started the engine of my car, ready once again to take on the little battles waiting for me at home.

As I opened the front door to my condo, I felt strength and obstinacy return to my soul. Turning to face life once again, I held out my hands, turned my palms up and said to an empty room, "Bring it on Karma Fairy, bring it on."

Sometimes you just have to blast back at life with guns a-blazin....

Why are the clothes still damp in the dryer?

And sometimes, you just call your best friend and say, "Sandy, I'm feeling a need for a happy hour beverage and my friend. How fast can you get dressed?"

Hopefully, the camera will be fixed in a couple of days.
Aren't you glad this posting is over?

So we can go back to regular pictures and makeovers?