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Planet of the Ants

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I hate having bugs in my house. Except spiders. Spiders, I don’t mind. Without spiders, we’d be over-run by other creepy crawly things, and I cannot have that. Back in Colorado, my bedroom was in the basement, and every spring & summer, I’d get crickets in my room. I’d spend hours trying to track them down with my spray can of Raid, until I’d finally have silence, and could sleep. I’m sure I ingested enough bug killer between the ages of 11 and 17 to explain nearly all of my health problems these days! If those dumb crickets had stayed quiet, they’d have been safe; I don’t go after bugs I can’t see or hear! After all those years of Raid, I started trying to use greener methods of insect control, and some of them even worked! The vinegar trap for fruit flies was a great success– an inch or two of apple cider vinegar in the bottom of a jar, then cover the top with plastic wrap and poke a few holes, They are attracted to the sweet smell, but drown in the vinegar! And the beer trap worked great for catching slugs. The problem has been ants.

We had ants in our old house, and could never get rid of them, and we have them here. Just little black sugar ants, nothing dangerous, but highly annoying, and fucking EVERYWHERE! Not just the kitchen, and dining areas. I found them in my bathroom, and they’ve been swarming in my bedroom this week. The first time they showed up, I tried a few green solutions I found online. I sprayed a solution of white vinegar around. Didn’t do anything but make my room smell like a pickle. I sprinkled coffee grounds around where they come in ( apparently ants don’t like coffee?); not a thing happened, but at least that smelled better. The coffee grounds did keep the ants and other bugs off the plants in the garden when we tried it there, it just didn’t work in the house. In one area I lay down a line of black and red pepper, because it was supposed to stop those ants in their tracks! Nope. I just ended up with a dusty floor. The only thing I haven’t tried that all the green sites recommend is borax, and peppermint. I didn’t have either of those on hand. Today I swept and cleaned, dusted and then sprayed all the nooks and crannies of my room with good old Raid Ant Spray. For a couple of hours, my room smelled like a chemical bomb, and my head hurt like a bitch. But for now anyway, all the ants are gone. I plan on buying some peppermint essential oil and using it -or maybe the peppermint castile soap–maybe both–to spray around the room and bathroom. I don’t want to use borax, because we do have pets, and that stuff will get on their feet and hurt them! One site I saw said that windex is a great ant killer, so maybe I’ll try that. I can clean my windows at the same time!

 

 

decorating · home · moving

How do you say hoarding in French?

We moved into the new place on New Years Eve, and have been pushing ever since to get things done. I knew my parents had a lot of stuff, but I had no idea how much there actually was hidden away! Every time we’ve moved before, the packing has been done before I showed up or something, because I do not remember there being this much stuff. And all this time, my father has been harassing ME about my few boxes of books! Jeez. Of course, nearly everything I own (including every book that isn’t an e-book) is in a box in the garage or in the storage shed. This is the first time I’ve ever had a room without a bookshelf. It’s surreal.  I’m sure the lack of books won’t last long; I’m bound to visit Powell’s sooner or later…

I don't hoard books. I hoard ebooks.
I don’t hoard books. I hoard ebooks.

 

So. The new house. It’s yellow. And pointy. Or peaky. Choose your adjective.

We have a lovely sunroom, where the dining table and mom’s big jade tree now live, and beyond that is the backyard. In one corner is a barbecue pit/fireplace kinda thing; one the other side is a big wooden deck where there was once a pool. There are two sets of stairs, one on each side of the house; the set off the front room is skinny and steep, and leads to a loft area with two bedrooms. That’s where Jolene & Max are. Below that is the master bedroom & bath, as well as another room Mom is using for her sewing room, and where the folks clothes hang. There aren’t many closets in this house, for some odd reason, so Mom & Dad had to buy a wardrobe rack for their hanging items. On the other side of the house, off the laundry room (what Martha would call the “mud room”),is my room ,the entrance to the garage, & another set of stairs. These lead to two more small bedrooms with slanty roofs, where Hattie has staked her claim.

My room is just below hers, and has the bathroom that we share. The sliding glass door on the deck leads into my little room. I finally have a room that gets some sunshine! I hung colored sheers across the sliding door so I could have some privacy from the neighbors, and bring some color into the place. (The walls throughout the house are the same shade of cream.) I have a closet, too. My only complaints about my room so far is that there isn’t any lighting in the closet (I fixed it by hanging fairy lights), and that my window is painted shut. I’m going to have to work on getting it open, because I hate not having any fresh air! I could just open the sliding door, I suppose, but that’s a bit more air than I need.

I haven’t done much decorating here in my space yet, other than the curtains. Usually I have a couple of bookshelves taking up most of my wall space, and here, it’s all bare. So I’m taking my time, deciding where to hang the few things I’m going to hang. I did hang my Eiffel Tower poster in the bathroom–which is also yellow, by the way–and put some other tower accents in there. I plan on speaking with a French accent every time I take a shower.  Oooh la la.

 

 

 

Christmas · Dreams · home · Jolene · moving · stress

Does anyone want to give me a house for Christmas?

I can’t honestly say I ever had a grand plan for my life, but I can say that this wasn’t it. To be 46-years-old, divorced, childless, in chronic pain, and soon to be homeless. That is the issue I am whining about right now (I don’t have any real problems with being divorced, since I am on very friendly terms with my ex-husband. The childless thing, well, that’s something I will discuss with God some day.).

My parents, John & Arlene, are selling the family home. This is where they, my sister Jolene and her two children have lived for the last eleven years. Max has never lived anywhere else–we brought him here from the hospital. I’ve moved around a bit while they’ve owned this house, but have always had a room to come back to. I was living here when I met Charlie, and when I both married and divorced him. Totally not the point, I know, but still…

They’ve been talking about selling for a while, but decided to actually do it seemingly overnight. . Apparently the folks assumed we were all going to move together again, into yet another big house, but one we would rent, rather than try to make house payments on. They aren’t too happy that none of us are going along with that plan. Jolene & I have mostly decided that she & I and Max will find a place a together, and that will work, we hope. Mom and Dad will have to find their own place, as will Hattie Jo. Of course, this plan has changed several times, and continues to do so.

If I had the money, and could have my way, I’d get my own place. But that isn’t going to happen. EVER, apparently. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, I do. But I am sick and tired of living with them. Of being treated as if I’m either not there at all, or if I am there, as if I’m still 14-years-old. My sister doesn’t treat me like a teenager, but neither of us is real considerate of the other. I’d really like to live somewhere where the menu consists of more than pizza and chicken nuggets. I’m going to spend the rest of my life living with others, it seems, living in a place filled with cigarette smoke, video game noises, and fast food. Sounds like living in a college dorm.

I have dreams of my own little flat, decorated just to my specifications, dreams that will never come true. (I am depressing myself.) My Pinterest boards are filled with dream images of this fantasy place– a beautiful bedroom (I have one of those now, really), a bathroom I don’t have to share that is not decorated with cartoon fish, a kitchen not overflowing with plasticware or processed food. Books everywhere, and no Fox News EVER!!  Granted, I am not the most ambitious of people, and it’s quite likely my place wouldn’t be as perfect as I’d hope. But what ever is? Still, I can continue to dream, can’t I?

Looking for a new place to live has caused huge stress for our entire family. If a day goes by without a fight or tears, it’s a wonder. Dad is driving us all crazy, because in his semi-dementia state, he seems to believe that we should be able to just clap our hands, and like Tinkerbell coming back to life, the perfect home will appear. Perhaps, in his world, I’ll be able to do my Bewitched nose twitch and furnish this new home as well. Makes me wonder what happens when the Law & Order doink plays.

We’re looking for new homes, just in time for Christmas. I don’t think Santa is going to bring any of us what we need this year.

Charlie Brown · Christmas · Dance · friends · Holidays · home · Music · single

Call Me Grinchy

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and I’m already sick of the holiday season. There was a time I liked Christmas music, as well as the Christmas season. Many things have ruined that for me, primarily the over-commerciallization of what should be a happy time. The commercials began before Halloween, and I am not as fast with the mute button on the remote as I’d like to be, so I keep hearing the carols over and over. I now throughly detest ‘Carol of the Bells.’ If I am ever captured by terrorists, all they’d have to do is threaten to play that song over and over again, and I’d break.

Of course, being a single woman at the holidays is never any fun. Everything is aimed at families, or couples, or children. The only ads aimed at singles are those for couples, telling us that every kiss begins with k. (Duh.)

I am a woman in the middle of her life, no children, no job, poor-to-middling health, and at this point no pets. I don’t have a home of my own to decorate, family meals to host or prepare, parties to attend, or even many people to send cards to.

Wow. That sounds more pathetic than I intended it to, and much more pathetic than my life actually is. Sure, things aren’t all roses and lollipops these days, but frankly, I’m not all that fond of roses or lollipops! I like tulips and lemondrops!  I started this post to whine a bit about how annoyed I am about how commercial the holidays have become, and I lost my train of thought.

I’m going to go now, and watch ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ It’s still the only holiday television show that reflects the true meaning of the season. Plus, the music is awesome. And I love the way they all dance.

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change · cleaning · denial · goals · home · Michele · resolve · stress · unemployment

Fear of the Unknown

If I were a Harry Potter character, I’m fairly sure the Sorting Hat would not have placed me in Gryffindor, simply because I’m not really a brave person. Yes, at times in my life, I’ve been able to stand up in front of the crowd, singing or acting, and I was, for a long time, very good at making new friends. Not so much any more. The last few years of my life have left me a very different person, and so many things scare me these days. It’s difficult to be in crowds, and the idea of having to talk to too many people I don’t know is terrifying.  I’ve had panic attacks in public places, including the local Fred Myer, where I wound up crying in the manager’s office. These events had been getting farther between, until recently, when certain things began making me very nervous.

If you’ve been reading this for long, you know I share a home with my extended family: my parents, who are 78 and 83; my younger sister and her two children, who are 10 and 20; plus two cats and a dog. During the last year my father lost his job, and hasn’t been able to find another one; he has also begun showing signs of dementia, which is difficult for all of us. Mom hasn’t worked outside the home in years; they have some Social Security coming in, but no savings. My sister hasn’t had a steady job in over a year, just temp things, and my while my niece has a full-time job, she doesn’t help out much. Hence, the only real income in the household now are my SSI/SSD checks every month, and Mom & Dad’s Social Security. Not a lot for all these people to live on. Jolene & I both get food stamps, which helps, and for now, all of our medical expanses are taken care of. The big issue is the house payment; we cannot afford this house.

When I moved back in here two years ago, my goal was to stay a few months and then get a place of my own. But things went downhill very fast; I sank into depression after the breakup and Michele’s death, and still haven’t fully recovered. It was easier to hide in this room than get on with my life. But now, I don’t have a choice, and this scares me. My parents are talking about selling the house, and this means we’ll all have to move. Sure, they’ve been talking about selling for years, but this time they’re actually doing things to put it in motion. Getting the basement presentable. Talking to realtors. Getting rid of things. And scaring the hell out of me.

My tiny room is full of stuff, and I have dozens of boxes in the garage. Every few days I’m encouraged to begin sorting, getting rid of things, both so the place will look better for prospective buyers, and so it will be easier to move. Jolene has done a bit of this in, but I’ve yet to begin, even though I’ve nothing but time on my hands.

At first I thought I was just procrastinating, as usual, being my normal lazy self.  I’ve had several conversations about where I’d go when the house sold with different people. Jolene proposed we get an RV, put Max in online school, and tour the country. I’ve discussed getting an apartment with my ex-husband and friend, Charlie (we get along well, and he’s easy to live with), but it’s never gone farther than discussion.  But recently I realized that I honestly have no idea what is going to happen to any of us, and this is nerve-wracking.  Some part of me believes if I don’t do anything, the unknown will stay far, far in the future, and I won’t have to think about it. Denial is my favorite river, and I swim deep in it.

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Talking about things helps, so they say. I’ve discussed this fear with Jolene, and Mom, and now you. Let’s hope it helps, because I cannot continue doing nothing, as much as I might like to. Getting past the fear is going to be hard. I may have to channel my inner Steel Magnolia and remember “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

breast cancer · change · finances · home · Jolene · kitty · Michele · moving · Portland · transition

I’m BAA-ACK!

I know, you missed me. Now you can rejoice, because I won’t go away again–I promise! Lots has changed since I last posted, including location, obviously.

The last few months have been a time of many changes in my life, and the changes just keep on coming. (I feel like a David Bowie song…) A psychologist I spoke  with ( I’m seeing a psychologist. Big surprise there.) said that I’m in a “time of transition.”

Transition. Oh, yeah. BIG TIME.

In March, about two weeks before my 44th birthday, I left the relationship I’d been in since 2009, and moved from Vancouver back to Portland. It was a very difficult thing to do, but one that had been a long time coming. Making that decision set me free, in many ways; don’t misunderstand me, I wasn’t being help prisoner or anything, but emotionally, I felt trapped. And financially, there was no way out. So I’m back in my parents house, where my money is mine, and I have my freedom while I’m waiting for my disability appeal hearing. That part of my life is up in the air: I don’t know how long it’ll be until the hearing, or what they’ll decide. So my life is definitely in transition.

The largest change was also the worst, and has knocked me off my feet, broken my heart. On April 12, my best friend, Michele Miller Mahmood, died. The breast cancer she’d been fighting took her, and the world lost one of the best people ever created.  I’ll write more about this later, because Shel deserves an entire post, and entire blog, all her own.

I’m struggling to find my way in this new world, to transition into a life where I am on my own. I’ve always treasured my family, but suddenly, they seem so much more precious. My sister, Jolene, is going through her own transitions, yet has given her time to help me when ever I need her. She’s wonderful, and I am so thankful for her.

People keep asking what I’m going to do now. That’s the million dollar question, folks! Let’s figure it out together, shall we?