Farewell FB

A few days ago, I finally pulled the plug on my Facebook account. I’ve been mulling over the decision for about two years. I finally had enough of the leftist bias, the censorship issues, and the swirling hatred in so many posts. When I first joined, it was because Cyris and Sylvis each wanted an account, so I got on to see first hand what they were jumping into.

It has gotten progressively aggressive. The platform is a ‘safe’ way for people to condemn, push agendas, and be virtual bullies, all from the sanctity of their home and keyboard. It used to be about sharing funny memes and keeping up with long-distance friends. But for months, it has only made me sad and angry.

I never have posted much. I don’t think people really care what I eat for meals or what I wear to go ride the horses. I’m not sharing personal information, like vacation dates and destinations or delicate information like surgeries. I don’t post pictures of myself. Only occasionally will I post something about the boys if they had a good day at rodeo. I just don’t think random posts like the above mentioned are necessary. And I am shocked daily by what some people share over the web.

I learned a few years ago that trying to post opinions on some posts was like inciting a verbal name calling war. It amazed me that grown adults would stoop to those tactics when someone didn’t agree with their politically ideologies. And I simply stopped posting any arguments.

I found myself wasting too much time going through hateful posts from people whose opinions were far away from mine. And I found myself internally responding, getting angrier and most disillusioned about human kind. I had to block people that I had known since kindergarten. I had to unfriend a couple because of things they posted. Not about me or connected to me, but things that were simply not within the realm of being kind.

I haven’t missed it. I took the app off my phone. It’s no longer on my computer, and I am getting a lot more accomplished during the day. Still not as much as is on my lists every morning. But I don’t have running commentary going in my head. I don’t have to scroll past certain people who seem to always put something controversial on their feed.

And given today’s political climate and uncertainty for this country, right now I’m content to duck my head away from mis-information and outright lies being offered as the gospel. I am trying out MeWe and will wait to see if Parler can find a new host for its platform.

It’s sad that in today’s modern world, we as humans are still reduced to caveman behavior and tactics. What happened to civility and the ability to have differing opinions without the need to belittle and denigrate? I have friends and family members who do not agree with me on every topic. That’s okay. We’re still friends. We’re still family. We still love each other. We know that there are certain things we aren’t going to talk about. And that’s okay, too.

I think what disappoints me the most is how deflated I feel, not only about the outcome of this fraudulent election but also about the vitriol being flung at anyone who stands away from the leftist agendas being shoving down our collective throat. That’s what I had to get away from.

The whole ‘woke’ movement of late, where I’m encouraged to apologize for my skin color and the fact that I have worked during my lifetime to accumulate a nice home and a comfortable lifestyle. Somehow, I’m to be held responsible for events that happened hundreds of years ago by people unrelated to me in any way.

So, for now, I am isolating from social media. The world of inflated egos, flatulent lies, and dangerous ‘influencers’.  I think my little world will be just fine. I have actual friends that I can talk to and who don’t resort to name calling if we disagree about something. We can make fun of each other without someone getting offended. And we can make jokes together, laughing so hard we either cry or wet our pants. I’ll take those kinds of friends over posts anyday.

Farewell FB. Hopefully the movement will catch on and more people will take the plunge to disengage from the dysfunctional environment.

Power Tools Blues

I have been divorced for six years now, and I have to admit, I’ve learned a lot about power tools and how to use them. Also how to not use them and what my limitations are with them.

I have been steadily increasing my tool inventory. I like corded tools much better than cordless. Maybe if I could afford to get the super powerful cordless ones, they would work better and last longer than the basic models I have. They sit on the shelves and will probably migrate to the boys at some point.

I know the basics of a drill and impact driver. I can run saws and sanders. Most recently, I bought a planer and have been replacing the kitchen counters with ones that I’m building out of boards from the barn. We are repurposing the wood and the counters so far look pretty cool. With each one, I learn something else so that they are evolving into better versions of the last.

But I still need help with some things in terms of power tools. Sometimes I don’t have the strength or force to push a screw into two pieces of wood. Or to get tin screws to go where I want.

Sometimes I don’t have enough confidence to run some of the tools. Sometimes I just need help moving them or keeping the wood steady. And that makes me angry. Especially when I watch Cyris show up and do all the jobs with ease that I have struggled with.

I also get irritated when Garris argues with me in regard to using the tools. I know he’s a guy and he thinks he knows everything better than I do simple due to his gender. But I am more precise with my measuring. And my fine tuning tasks, like sanding. He tends to go at things with all the finesse of a wild boar. And then things start breaking. Driver heads start wearing out and screws get stripped. Boards crack because he isn’t careful about where he starts the screw.

Take the other day. We are making shelves for the garage, using a technique I saw online. I thought it was very simple and easy to get things measured correctly. The first set went up easily and only took us in total a couple of days. The other set was a different situation. We are attaching them to a cement wall, so it wasn’t feasible to try and screw them into cement. I did get some masonry drill bits, but Garris didn’t want to spend the time needed to drill holes.

So, I suggested we either use a cement grade adhesive (which I had already purchased) or make them freestanding. His suggestion was to make them with rope. I vetoed that idea, and he got very angry.

So, we made the first set of legs and shelf supports outside. I suggested he measure everything before we began. Instead, he just starting screwing the pieces together. When we brought it into the garage, the legs were all different lengths. So he tried shortening them using a hacksaw, holding the leg up. Needless to say, we never did get the legs all the same length.

At that point, we put the adhesive on. I suggested moving the fridge over to keep the wood butted up against the wall. Garris didn’t want to move it six feet, so he propped the ladder up to it and put a case of bottled water on top. It promptly fell over.

After Garris left the garage, I man handled the fridge over to one leg, moved a dresser against the second, and put several cases of water against the third one.

After about thirty-six hours, the bonds look like they are holding pretty well. After Garris gets done with school today, we’ll try to finish those shelves, plus another set I started last night in the storage room.

Up to Garris, we’d be working on these shelves for the next three months. I want to get them up so I can de-clutter the basement and set up a work area for myself and get my supplies in one general area.

I’m not trying to pick on him, but if he would take the time to listen to what I say and suggest, the amount of work we actually have to do would be less. He isn’t good about putting tools away, either. And once he starts buying his own things, he can do what he wants with them. For now, with my tools, he needs to put them away. Where we can find them. Out of the weather.

Which is why I want to get all these shelves done in the garage, so I have a dedicated space for all my tools and all my hardware, etc. I won’t be searching in four different places in the house and wondering why I’m constantly buying new fasteners and new drill bits and new glue.

The next big tool I want to get is a big table saw, so I’m not trying to cut all this wood with a circular saw. So far, it has worked fine. But I have bigger pieces to use next and I know a table saw would be safer and more efficient.

Until then, I’ll suffer through the power tool blues and try not to use them on my youngest son.

Mom Too

After posting last time about my mom’s move in with us, I thought that it might have seemed  a bit harsh. I love my mom, and I’m happy with our arrangement. I was venting some frustration over what I see as choices. And I’ve talked with her about this.

It seems like Mom is choosing to look at life as the glass-half-empty scenario.

Yes, Dad died unexpectedly. But he died with both Mom and I at his side, holding his hands, allowing him a dignified death on his terms.

Yes, she’s a widow. But she isn’t alone. A couple of years ago, she voiced her concern over what would happen if she ended up alone. I told her then she would just move in with us. And when it looked bleak for Dad, I reminded her that she had that option.

Yes, she had to leave her home of 35 years. But wasn’t forced to sell it yet. She can wait until she’s ready to let go of it. She is fortunate that she has a place to live, where she can continue to ride her horses and live in the way she’s used to. It isn’t exactly her life as before, but it’s pretty damned close.

Yes she’s dependent on me for day to day living. I buy groceries and pay bills and make sure she has what she needs and wants. But many of her friends have told her that she’s in enviable position. Not every elderly parent is welcomed into their adult children’s homes. Many are left to fend for themselves for everything: food, medical, housing. At least she knows she has a warm home and everything will be okay in the long run.

Yes, her life has changed. But her lifestyle is basically the same. She still lives on an acreage. She still has her horses and her dogs. She still goes to the events she wants to.

What I mean about choices is that she is tended to. She is cared for. She is loved. But she still chooses to walk around with a frown on her face. She chooses to complain about the weather. She chooses to find reasons to be unhappy.

Last summer, after we had a little tiff, she sniffed and said she should ‘just go home.’ She had said that to me about once a week. That time, I asked her if that’s what she wanted. She looked at me with wide eyes and said no.

“Then don’t say that to me again. If you do, we’ll start moving you back to Belgrade.”

She hasn’t said it again.

Similarly, she somehow missed a payment on her cell phone bill, and they called her about it. She got mad and hung up on them, then started screaming about how unfair life was. She said she wished she were dead.

I told her that I didn’t know how to react to that or what to say. But that I didn’t want to hear that again, because that is a horrible thing to say to your daughter. She hasn’t said that again.

She was used to my dad doing everything: paying the bills, doing the banking, doing the shopping. Making arrangements for everything that needed to be done. She expected me to take that over. And I did help her get things arranged. But I refused to make her phone calls or take over her checkbook.

I forced her to call social security and Dad’s life insurance company. His pension accounts. I made her call about his death certificate. I made her go to the lawyer (I went with her). I made her make changes to all the bills and to the bank accounts. It was hard for her at first. But I knew she needed to be able to do those things herself. Plus, I didn’t want to give my brother any ammunition to claim that Mom wasn’t capable of taking care of herself.

And now, she doesn’t even ask me to make her phone calls. She does it herself, without prompting. She has gained confidence in herself. She knows I’m here if she needs help, but she also knows she can take care of some things alone.

I’ve had to adopt a kind of tough love with her, so that she didn’t just fade into a chair to curl up and die. She doesn’t have a lot of interests. She doesn’t watch tv, because it’s a waste of time. She doesn’t listen to music, because it’s stupid. She doesn’t want to knit or crochet or do any crafty type things. She enjoys reading but has read the same books dozens of times.

So, for Christmas, Sylvis gave her some adult coloring books, and she loves them. It keeps her occupied and gives her something to accomplish. Same with a couple of jigsaw puzzles.

She tends to feel left out when I write or when I am sewing or working on my own hobbies: I’m learning about watercolor painting; I practice my breakaway swing most days; I’m teaching myself to knit.  But she doesn’t really want to put any time into learning anything new or to do any of those hobbies, so I have to do my own thing and let her figure out how to fill her hours.

Mom only has a couple of friends. In the past, women have tried to do things with her, but she always declines invitations to lunch or shopping or anything. But then she gets mad when I go with Colleen to Butte and have lunch or am away for the day.

One friend has been a trooper. She calls Mom regularly, knowing that Mom will never call her. She continues to invite Mom to lunch, knowing that Mom will never go. And that’s sad. I have lost friends due to lies started during my divorce. The friends that I do have, I cherish and I nurture those friendships. But Mom has chosen to go through life without any friendships to speak of. And then complains because she doesn’t have anything to do or anyone to do things with.

She expects the world to conform to her whims, but she isn’t willing to put much effort into changing her behavior to help that happen. She doesn’t compromise or put herself out for anyone. Last summer, she competed in a reined cow horse series of shows, with some ladies who have known her for a dozen years. All of these women have always supported Mom and Dad, but this summer they went out of their way to encourage her, cheer her on, and compliment her runs. She was always in the first class of the day and always wanted to leave when she was done, so she never put any effort into watching these other women.

At the last show, I suggested we stay for awhile so she could do that. She thought that was a good idea, but then refused to leave the trailer when I said she should go over by herself. I know these women, but they are in Mom’s circle and she needed to spend some time alone with them. At first, she leaned against her horse and watched from the trailer (about two hundred yards away).

I kept telling her to go to the arena, and she just wouldn’t do it. She finally sat down by me at the trailer, and I started loading us up. I said that if she wasn’t going to go support anyone else, we may as well leave.

“I suppose you’re mad at me,” she said.

“No, I’m not mad. I don’t understand you. These people adore you and think of you as a friend, but you won’t do anything to support them they way they do you. You’re selfish. And if I were any of them, I wouldn’t consider you a friend after this summer.”

She likes hearing that her run was great, but she never offers any positive comment to anyone else. I have a hard time with that. I was not taught that when I was growing up, so it confuses me that she can’t be more gracious.

Even with the boys. Half the time when Cyris or Sylvis stop by for a short visit, Mom won’t even come out of her room to greet them or say goodbye to them. I told her a few weeks ago that if she didn’t change that, they were going to think she didn’t care if she saw them or not.

I have had to tell her that she needs to think more positively and there are days I have to ask her to avoid saying negative things. I remind her when she says the word ‘hate’ all day. Like she hates the wind. Or she hates the night. Or she hates the traffic. I don’t think she even realizes that she’s being a downer, until I say something.

I know some of my mom’s orneriness is simple aging. She will be 82 in a couple of weeks, and it’s normal for the brain to miss a step or two. And part of her personality is due to the same. But I’m stuck trying to figure out where normal aging stops and the more serious issue of dementia begins. Her mom developed Alzheimer’s and became mean. I don’t want to see my mom go down that road, but I’m unable to stop it if that’s in the cards for her.

So, for anyone who thinks I’m being overly critical of my mom, put yourself in my position. Think about your own parent moving in with you, rearranging your life to accommodate that parent, and feeling overwhelmed by the situation. I am trying to do what’s best for her without relegating her to a child-like position. I want her to retain her own life and her own self. Autonomy.

All while salvaging my own. The middle is not a great place to be, and I’ve already apologize to the boys for any future irritations I may cause. Like I told them, sometimes I think it’s a mom’s job to antagonize her children, intentionally or not. And though Grandma wasn’t trying to, she was driving me crazy! They all thought that was pretty funny.

But hopefully, this experience will help me in the future should I be the same position of living with any of my kids. And they may have a bit more patience with me than they sometimes have.

In the Middle

I’ve shared with you previously that my mom moved in with us after my dad’s death last year. She has been with us almost six months, and I’m grateful this was an option for her. She would not have done well alone.

But it has been a stressful time for me. When Dad had his heart attack, I became a de facto head of household for her. And when his stroke sent him to Denver, she relied on me for everything: finances, major decisions, day to day details. And again, I’m happy to help her. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But I feel like I’ve been ‘on’ twenty four hours a day for almost a year. I don’t have anyone to take some slack for me when I feel overwhelmed or when there is simply too much on my plate. I had to get Mom on track with transferring financial matters into her name, getting her house packed up and moved over here, dealing with medical bills and horse-related decisions, and her fragile mental health.

My brother has been useless, and that is being kind. He has thrown added stress into every situation from the beginning of this ordeal. So, I can’t even rely on him for assistance.

Add to that the logistics of creating a three generation household. All of the boys were on board with Mom moving here; they all said there was no other option. And I agreed. Still do. We are still adjusting to this change.

Mom took over two bedrooms and one of the living areas on the top floor of the house. She has her own bathroom. We share the rest of the house: kitchen, laundry room, dining room. And she really doesn’t spend any time downstairs, where Garris’ room and bathroom are. I have my own room and bathroom and a living area outside my bedroom. There is definitely plenty of space for everyone.

But sometimes I feel like I have another child in the house. I walk around behind my mom and turn off lights, pick up wrappers off the kitchen counter, and pick plates up from the table. I’ve asked her to watch the lights, because there is no sense paying for electricity we aren’t using. (I got the same lecture as a kid).

And I’m trying hard to avoid micromanaging her. She is an adult, and my mom, and I want her to feel comfortable here. But we have had to figure out a division of tasks. When she first got here, I did all the cooking and cleaning, including washing dishes. And I didn’t mind. Mom does not enjoy cooking, never has. I do, so it makes sense that I do the cooking. But what surprised me is how little she offered to help. And usually only when I was almost done with the meal. And then, when it was time to clean up, she would stand and watch me do dishes and wipe down the kitchen.

After a couple of months, we came to an agreement: I would cook and she would do dishes in the evening. When we were working outside last summer, I fixed two meals a day. Once the weather turned colder and we were stuck inside more, I whittled that down to one meal a day; the rest of the time we are both on our own for snacks or a smaller meal if we are hungry.

One of the biggest struggles for me is having another adult around twenty four/seven. I’m not used to that. I have my own routine, and I talked with Mom about that before she moved over. I told her we did not have to, and wouldn’t be able to, do everything together. I encouraged her to develop her own hobbies and meet with friends if she wanted to. I spend a lot of time by myself, as I have to concentrate. And I think she got her feelings hurt a bit when she first came over.

I shut the door to my room when I need to write. Or when I just want some privacy. When she first moved over, she would just walk into my room without knocking. It took me yelling one day for her to stop. I wasn’t proud of myself and didn’t do so intentionally, but she startled me and it was a knee jerk reaction.

I know that I have a certain way of doing things. A couple of things we had to hash out seemed obvious to me but apparently were not to her. She would go to the horse pens and walk through manure then walk through the house. In the summer, it was her tennis shoes, and lately, it has been her winter boots. I asked her to leave her manure shoes by the door and to not walk through the house. But she kept doing it, until I finally had to be more forceful.

I told her that she was dropping manure onto the carpet and that was smelling and staining it. I also reminded her that she used to get pissed off at Dad for doing that very thing. She got mad at me and told me I was being fussy. But I stood my ground.

Another thing has to do with garbage. We take our garbage to the dump, usually Garris does once or twice during the weeks he is here. I asked my mom to put her garbage into bags and tie them. She kept putting her garbage into the cans loose and it was flying out when Garris went to the dump. Week after week, I asked her the same thing. Week after week, she kept slipping in her garbage loose. Until I got mad again. I explained that it was easier to grab tied bags and take them to the dump. Plus, we didn’t lose as much garbage on the road. She pouted for a few days but has been complying.

It’s like she is reverting to a childish state of life.  And it’s frustrating.

She can be a bit sharp with words. She has no filter most days. And sometimes she seems to be intentionally hurtful. I can let a lot roll off me, but there are times she goes too far, and I have to bite back.

One example is the first week she was here. We had eaten an early dinner. And I was fixing a bowl of cereal to have before bed.

“I though you already ate.” She had a very judgmental tone in her voice.

“I did. And I’m going to have some cereal instead of dessert.”

“You don’t need it.

“How many ice cream bars have you eaten today , Mom?”

You see, she weighs about 85 pounds and is seriously underweight. Her biggest goal in life is to be as tiny as possible. It’s obvious to me now that she has at least a couple of eating disorders. And she is the reason I have struggled with my own. When I was in high school, she told me I was too big and too fat because I wasn’t the same size as her. (I was a size four!) I was always in sports and built muscular. I never had chicken legs or a non-existent butt like her. So, in her mind, I was too big.

So, I started starving myself and purging, trying to please her and to be closer to her size. Looking back, I was perfect. I regret abusing my body for so many years to reach an unattainable size. I didn’t realize at the time that she was purging after every meal, making herself sick.

But back to now. I told her that she didn’t get to comment on what or how much I ate. I recently lost about 35 pounds. None due to her comments. That topic is off limits.

I admitted to Garris the other day that I wish sometimes I had my house to myself. Even if it was only a couple of days. I miss feeling free in my own house. I feel like she’s judging me if I want to have a pop in the afternoon. Or if I decide to watch an episode of a tv show. (She doesn’t watch tv and makes snide comments about everything Garris and I watch.)

I think one of the hardest things for me has been her negativity. She is not a happy person, and I don’t think she ever has been. But she wallows. Focuses on everything that is wrong, instead of the things are going well. She overreacts any time some small thing happens, as if the world was ending because she deposited money into the wrong checking account and now has to transfer funds.

I’m most disappointed with her selfishness. I don’t remember her acting this way when I was growing up. And part of this is probably just aging. I see her mom in her, and my grandma got to be very nasty as she aged. But Mom doesn’t offer to help around the house much. She can’t seem to see when the garbage needs to be changed. Or when the rugs need vacuumed. She expects me to drop what I’m doing at any time during the day to focus on something she wants.

I drove her all last summer to her reined cow horse lessons and to her shows. I was happy to do it. We used my truck and trailer. And it was all on my dime. I didn’t expect her to pay for fuel. But it did surprise me she never offered. If we stopped for something to eat, I paid. When we stopped to pick up groceries, I paid. And I am fine with that. But she just didn’t seem to appreciate anything.

Most surprising is the fact that she won’t eat unless I fix her something. I have told her if she’s hungry and I am not planning a meal until later, to go ahead and find something. There is almost always something leftover in the fridge. But the pantry is chocked full. The freezer has ready to eat meals in it. I know she was the cook during the entirety of her marriage. And I know she can make herself a sandwich or warm up some soup. But if I don’t make her something, she walks around sighing, saying how hungry she is. I have gotten to the point, I just ignore it or remind her to find something to eat.

I do vent to Garris and to Sylvis occasionally when I find something overly amusing or overly irritating. I love my mom to pieces. But there are days she drives me crazy. And I guess the most positive way to look at it is this: she must think I’m the safest person in her life, because she is the most disagreeable with me. I don’t regret for a moment having her move in. I just wish she could try to be a little more content. And complain a little less.

I can go down a dark road very easily, so having another person in the house who says and does negative things pushes me that much closer to a depressive episode. And I know most of the time, what sets me off is probably insignificant to others. But this is my house. I pay the bills. I keep things running. I feel like I have the right to set the rules of the house. And Mom should do her best to abide by those rules, whether she agrees with them or not.

I used to think my dad was harsh with her. I thought he treated her like a child at times. And I thought he barked at her when it wasn’t necessary. But now I am understanding more the dynamics of their relationship. She isn’t an easy person to live with, and she seems to thrive on discord. I feel like any little thing sets her off, and that isn’t a great way to live.

It has been a role reversal. And not one that I wanted.  It’s hard being the middle ground, between my mom’s generation and my kids’. I feel like I have to be everything to everyone and I don’t get a chance to relax or take a few hours ‘off’.  I look forward to the time spent with my best friend. Every couple of weeks we go to Butte for a day of shopping and lunch, and I’m able to let off some steam. She’s willing to listen, and I feel better when I get home.

As we move forward, we’ll continue to fine tune this living situation. Hopefully Mom can settle in more and reach the conclusion that this is as close to her old life as she’s going to get. This is the best I have to offer. Hopefully she’ll she that she’s fortunate. Not all adult children welcome their parent(s) as they age. She is in a safe home, with family who love her, and does not have to face growing old alone.

Impending Empty Nest

I am feeling rather melancholy lately. This is Garris’s senior year in high school. And he will be launching into ‘life’. His plan right now is to attend Western at Dillon. He wants to rodeo and knows the coach there, who has allowed him to come tie calves with the team the past couple of years. He could also live with Cy and Regan (as long as she’s cool with the arrangement).

I am excited for him. He has had a rough time the past two years. He has made strides in both academic and medical paths. He seems to be getting his ADHD figured out, and that has in turn helped him concentrate and focus better on school. I think he’s looking forward to getting away from the label of ‘bonehead’.

But I’m also sad. I don’t like the idea of my youngest child leaving home. I have loved being a stay at home mom and being involved in my kids’ lives. I will admit, Garris is my most challenging child. We have very different personalities, and he is the most like his dad. That can trigger me when Garris parrots hurtful things his dad has said to me in the past. Or when he behaves in ways that his dad did while we were married. I try to talk to Garris about why those things affect me and how we can avoid that reaction in the future.

Despite that, I love this kid. He is quirky and almost always happy. He looks at the world at a tilt, and sometimes it’s interesting to get his take on situations.  I have tried this past year to consciously spend time with him, doing things outside our normal routine, even if it’s just to watch a movie with him once or twice a week.

He alternates weeks between his dad and me, spending one week here and the next week there. It has worked pretty well, and when necessary, we adjust the schedule. He seems content with the arrangement. Occasionally, both his dad and I ask him for some help during the other’s week. But I try to not do that very often.

The weeks he is at his dad’s, this house is very quiet. There is no loud slam of the door when he comes home. Or music blasting from his bathroom while he’s in the shower. No extra dog needing attention. And I miss that movement and noise. Even when he’s sleeping downstairs or noiselessly working on school, there is a buzz present. Any of you with teenaged boys understand this phenomenon.

I miss that undertone every other week, and I will crave it once he takes off for the next installment of his journey. The house seems to fold in on itself when it’s just me or just Mom and me. We don’t sing and dance around the house. We don’t tease each other. We don’t cook much. The days are pretty boring.

Don’t misunderstand: I want Garris to continue to grow and chase dreams. I want him to become a good man and a productive adult. I just can’t believe eighteen years flew by so quickly. There were days I could have wrung his neck, for sure. But there were many more days that I just needed a big hug from him.

The other day, when he got here, he asked me for a hug. After Sage was hit and died, and a couple of other things from the past week, he said he just needed a ‘mom hug’.  I will miss them most, I think.

I am trying to say ‘yes’ as often as I can right now. When he asks if he can go for a drive with a friend. Or if someone can spend the night. Or if he can cook dinner (!). Because I know those requests are going to disappear in August.

I have never been anxious to get rid of my kids. I know some parents look forward to school days, because the kids are out of the house for most of the day. But I hated taking them to kindergarten the first day, because I knew they weren’t solely mine any longer. I had to share them with the world. I always volunteered as a room mom and to go on field trips. I was on good terms with all teachers and made my presence known at school. Many of my boys’ friends called me ‘Mom’.

I know we are in a transition year. And I’m trying to be upbeat. I don’t want to drag the year into a weepy mess, as I’ve seen other moms with seniors do. I want Garris to be excited for the future. But since he’s my last, I know these moments are the last times for everything. I just want to cherish these next months a little longer than I probably did with his brothers.

I was in the middle of a divorce with my oldest two, and that took a toll on me mentally, as well as physically. As most of you who know me know, it was a nasty and contentious two years. Every time I thought we were ready to sign papers, the ordeal was dragged on for another few weeks which turned into months, etc. I didn’t feel that I was truly present for a chunk of that time, because I was just trying to keep from drowning. I was in a deep depression. I was fighting rumors and lies floating around town. And my kids were being fed misinformation.

This time, I want to be fully engaged. I want to look back on this year and know that I did everything possible to send Garris off with positive memories. I won’t do well with zero kids in the house. I tend to let dark thoughts consume me when I am alone. So, I am thinking ahead and figuring out ways to avoid that.

Writing is a solitary focus, so I know I need something besides that endeavor. I am getting ready to launch a couple of home based businesses. And will share more when they become solvent. I know I need to be more social, but it’s hard to seek out people when most of the people I considered friends turned their backs on me following the divorce.

I have mulled over the thought of picking up roots and settling myself somewhere else. It’s hard to be in the same small town as your ex, especially when he’s still bitter and angry. I don’t have much of a support system here. And there is really nothing keeping me in this place. I just dread the thought of starting over again.

I like my place and my house. And I don’t think I could afford anything similar anywhere else I’d like to live. So, I will need to figure that out in the next few months. That decision might hinge on where Garris ultimately goes from here. I don’t want to live on top of my kids and make them resentful of my presence. But I also don’t want to be hours away from them. Right now, I’m only an hour away from both Sylvis and Cyris, so it’s doable to visit and be included in things.  If I move much further either direction, someone is going to feel left out.

So, as I face an impending empty nest, I also face some major life decisions of my own. My life’s purpose has been to be the best mom I could be. Some days I feel I earned that title. Other days, not so much. I am trying to look at this as a new opportunity for me, too. I will have a little more freedom to pursue some things that I just couldn’t while kids were at home. So, I am making some notes and lists about ways I can fill my time, and my next big goals.

I will be heartbroken when Garris heads down the driveway for the last time. I have to start preparing myself for a day that will be here much too soon. I will just have to fill up my empty nest with other little birdies of my own choosing. Life moves on steady, whether a person is ready or not. That has been one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned as a mom.

Cy to the Rescue

A couple of weeks ago, I tried opening the big doors to my quonset barn, and one was stuck.

The barn is pretty old, which means the doors are  old. They can be cumbersome to handle, and they can get sticky. Garris sprayed some       WD-40 on them this summer, but I figured with the cold and the wind, maybe it was time for another coat. So Garris got up on the ladder and discovered that the track had fallen down and some bolts were missing.

Ideally, I’d like to get an overhead door installed, but those are several thousand dollars, and something that isn’t necessarily imperative. So, I pondered about what to do. And I called Cyris. I hated asking for his help, but I needed the door either fixed or taken down. At that point, we couldn’t get into the barn via the big doors, and my horse trailer was inside the barn for the winter.

Cy said he could get over in a few days, so we waited. He and Regan came over on a Sunday, and I fully expected us to be taking down the big doors. Instead, he was able to bolt the track back into position. And he replaced some of the missing bolts along the rest of the track.

It was great to have him home and to watch him and Garris work together to help me. There are times I feel like a burden to my kids. I have learned how to do a lot of repairs myself. And am growing more confident with power tools. But there are times I just can’t do everything by myself and I need their help.

I hate asking for help. I feel powerless. Worthless. But it’s  nice to know they are willing to step up and do those things for me, usually just for the price of a home cooked meal. And I enjoy providing those. I don’t cook very often for  more than one or two people. So it’s nice having part or all of the kids at home and being able to feed a crew once again.

It’s also nice when they assure me they are happy to help. They don’t make me feel badly for needing help. And they don’t make me beg for it. Or have to barter in order to get those things done. I like the feeling of my boys taking care of me when I need assistance. I think I did something right in raising them.

This isn’t a permanent fix, I know. But it will at least get us through the winter and hopefully I can scrape up enough money to get an overhead door in by next year.

 

Showing My Age

Tonight I feel very tired. And very old. Events from the last few weeks have shaken what little faith I had left in the human race. In Americans in general. In our government specifically.

I cannot fathom hating one man so intensely that an entire political party would spend four years, billions of tax dollars, destroy an economy, and invent a bogus pandemic, simply to get him out of office. But what’s worse is the fact that millions of Americans drink up those lies like syrup.

The beautiful form of government that our forefathers created is gone. There has always been corruption. I mean, how did it become okay for Congress to give themselves raises and expensive perks, including a lifetime pension? When did ‘serving’ in government become a full time job? It is sickening that those people supposedly leading this country are pure evil, for the most part. They are only looking to pad their own pockets and screw the taxpayers out of every penny possible.

I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. I know that we need to return to the building blocks of what this country was. Start over. Completely obliterate the status quo of today and wipe out every perk and pork in Washington. No more freebies. No more sucking the taxpayers dry. No more becoming millionaires while in Congress.

The saddest part to me is that there is no where left to go. When America falls to socialism, this world is over. Those people who want free everything are going to learn a very powerful, albeit painful, lesson: nothing is free. Once they start paying $10 a gallon for fuel and seeing ninety percent of their paychecks going to taxes, they might understand that those greedy asses they voted into office were lying to their faces.

Every generation has had their breaking point. I know my parents faced the same dire feeling when I was a child. But in today’s social media society, no one waits to get a full story. Everything is a snap decision, usually based on faulty one-sided information. I long for the days before internet and cell phones. Life was simpler when you didn’t have twenty four hour a day access to everything with a small device that fits into your pocket.

Today I feel like I’m close to my own breaking point. I don’t know how to fix this feeling or what to do to make things better for my kids. It terrifies me to think of liberals taking complete control of our government, especially when everyone knows the election was a fraudulent mess.

I honestly just want to build my own little island and be left alone. I am sick of listening to both sides carp at each other. I’m sick of being lectured and monitored. I’m sick of watching my world erode away because of human greed.

If I get to sleep, I hope I sleep without dreams. And can wake up and feel somewhat more hopeful tomorrow. At least feel a little younger. I don’t like showing my age.

Goodbye Sage

Garris called me about an hour ago to tell me that his dog, Sage, was dead.

A neighbor accidentally hit her because Sage was out on the road. Garris was crying. I was instantly pissed.

I have told him for two years that he needed to keep her home. When he has her here, at my house, I don’t let her run loose. She has to be in the house or in the pen. The only time she’s loose outside is when we are out there.

Different rules at his dad’s house. There are no rules. They turn the dogs out in the morning and don’t worry about them until the end of the day. All three dogs over there run all over the neighborhood all day long. I have heard from several of his neighbors that they have almost hit one of the dogs multiple times.  I figured Garris’ beagle would be the one to get killed.

But instead it was Sage. I took him to the shelter two years ago and he picked out what we thought was a cow dog puppy. She was one of the sweetest dogs I had ever seen. And one of the smartest. She grew into a glorious mutt, with little to no cow dog instincts. But that was okay.

I had concerns about the way Garris took care of her. Or rather, the way he didn’t take care of her. She was much too thin. When she was at my house, she was constantly hungry. But Garris never fed or watered her unless I told him to. He didn’t let her out to go to the bathroom. And he didn’t worry about her.  I contemplated more than once about taking charge of her until he decided to get serious about her. But I didn’t want to have a pissing match with him.

So I watched out for her when she was here and held my breath when he went back to his dad’s house.

Sage didn’t deserve this. And had Garris and his dad been acting responsibly, it wouldn’t have happened. Because she wouldn’t have been on the road at all.  Garris has mocked me in the past because I keep watch over my dogs and don’t let them run. He thinks I should do what his dad does.

“Your dogs don’t get to do anything!” he has said.

I disagree. They are companions. And the ones that like going out to chore with me get to do that. But the ones that don’t mind me stay in the house. Most of my dogs are rescues. And I think they are content being house dogs. They live a good life- getting fed regularly, sleeping as much as they want, and getting loved on a lot.

Part of having dogs is keeping them safe. And keeping them from infringing on other people’s property.

That is what I truly don’t understand with his dad. He knows his dogs are at other people’s places throughout the day. And he seems to think that’s perfectly acceptable. So many people who buy an acreage have this mentality that their dogs are welcomed at everyone’s front door. That just isn’t the case.

It is too simple to teach your dog to stay home. If you’re unwilling to do that, then build a pen and keep them inside that. And accidents happen. Sometimes latches break and dogs get loose. Sometimes they jump. Sometimes the gates don’t get closed all the way. That is a completely different situation. And one that doesn’t happen every day.

But to knowingly and intentionally allow dogs to run is rude behavior. And it’s neglect.

Garris spent a good hour burying his dog today. I only hope that painful lesson showed him how important it is to be more vigilant when he is entrusted to care for animals. Because right now, I am sorely disappointed in his efforts.

Goodbye sweet Sage. I am sorry.

Frightening New America

I had planned a different topic for today’s blog. But following yesterday’s mess in D.C., I feel compelled to add my two cents, for what it’s worth.

The liberals and liberal-leaning media succeeded in the massive fraud to get Biden into the highest office of this country. I don’t know a single person who believes that idiot ‘got’ the votes to win. It’s obvious, and the proof is there, that this election was rigged.

I am literally sick to my stomach this morning thinking of the potentially devastating plans and programs that are now on the table with this result.

For four years, I have been bewildered by the blanket hatred toward President Trump. I know politics are corrupt. There is no way to prevent all corruption. But I really didn’t believe in the depths of that corruption until this past year.

Liberals are so hell bent on retaining power that they are willing to tank our economy, bankrupt our citizens, and head America into a downward spiral toward socialism.

I just saw where some Democrats want to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office because of the riots at the Capitol building. But those rioting were actually Antifa members who were bussed in for that very reason.

Do these people think we are imbeciles?

They must. Because they are lying to us. Flat out. No attempt at subterfuge. No finesse. They simply make things up to fit their agenda.

When I drove into my lane earlier, I was very disheartened, wondering how my life is going to be impacted by Biden’s atrocious tax plans. Then I looked over and saw a bald eagle sitting on a fence post. I stopped and tried to get a picture, but it flew off.

I do think we are in for a massive struggle with the fraudulent results of this election: open, uncontrolled borders, tax hikes across every imaginable scenario, restrictions on our civil liberties, continued lock downs, and possible mandatory vaccinations, just to get started.

But the sight of that majestic bird, the symbol of what this country once stood for, gave me a shimmer of hope.

I don’t know exactly what to expect in the next weeks and months. I hope the thread of patriotism and American values can withstand the impending deluge. I have my pantries stocked and supplies in the garage, just in case things take a turn for the dreadful. But I do know, I will fight with everything I have to maintain my little corner of the world. I only hope that’s enough for my kids to continue living in this frightening new America.

Hooey Too

An update on Hooey:

 

He has an auto immune disorder. We knew that already, with the lupus. But when I relayed all of his added symptoms, the vet  was leaning toward rheumatoid arthritis. He did a blood draw, and the results were a bit inconclusive.

Hooey’s white blood cell count was very low. But his organ functions were good. To get a more conclusive diagnosis, we would have to do a biopsy of his kidney, his liver, and his nose. Basically, he has one of three things: arthritis, pemphigus, or a more severe case of lupus. The treatment is essentially the same: steroid injections plus oral antibiotics. The only difference is which oral med will work for him.

So we are starting with the one most likely to work for him, doxycycline. I’m probably not spelling that correctly.

We will see how he tolerates the combination and if his symptoms improve, especially his bad breath and dental plaque.

It isn’t great, but it is better news than I expected to hear. I figured I had a small window of time left with Hooey. Now, hopefully, we can manage this chronic condition and help him be as pain free as possible.

It’s funny. As pet owners, we can make the decision to end our pets’ suffering when life gives them a hopeless situation. We can humanely euthanize them, and allow them to die with dignity before they suffer too much. I’ve done it many times with dogs and horses. Every time, my heart breaks for that critter that has shared my life. But in my heart, I knew I was doing the right thing for them.

But when our beloved family members become incapacitated or terminally ill, we have to sit back and watch them slowly deteriorate. Lose all dignity. Lose all semblance of themselves. When terminal patients are ready to die, they can’t, legally.  I realize there is danger of abuse in terms of elimination practices. But it seems to me we as a society should be able to do better by our loved ones.

I know if I were to have a terminal diagnosis, I would want the option to go out on my terms. I don’t want to survive hooked up to machines or reliant on pain medication just to get through a day. I don’t want my kids watching me wither away or having to change my diaper, etc. I would want some control over my end of life situation.

This really hit home when my dad was in the hospital last March. He had always been fiercely independent. And I watched him lose that facet of his life. After his stroke, he had to rely on everyone around him for everything. It scared him. It worried him. And it embarrassed him.

He made it very clear he did not want machines keeping him alive. He didn’t want to go back on the ventilator once it was out. He didn’t want to live as a stroke victim.

And he would not have lived long had he come home in a wheelchair. Had he come home not able to walk or care for himself. Once he realized that he wouldn’t be at full capacity again, I think he allowed his body to give up.

So I have made sure that all of my kids know my wishes. And I’ve made that clear in my will. I don’t want to be trapped in a hospital bed, tethered to oxygen and IVs. Should something catastrophic happen, I want my kids to let me go.

And as long as Hooey is happy and feeling well, I’ll continue to get him his injections and oral meds. The schedule will depend on him. If he tolerates this first round well, it may be six months before symptoms show back up. If this combination doesn’t work well, we’ll have to try another antibiotic.

But as of this morning, he seems to be feeling better already. Fingers crossed that we can manage his condition for another couple of years.