Our family was having dinner recently and I asked if they missed our home on Skansen Street. That was our boy’s childhood home and we decided to sell it in 2014. Up until then, it was the only home they had known. They both, without hesitation, said ‘no!’ Surprised, I asked why they didn’t miss it and they began telling us about all the frightening things that had happened to them there. They were happy when we decided to sell it. Below are the collective memories of events that happened there.
Here’s where it started. In 1996 we built our home on land that was previously farmed, probably with grapevines. I was pregnant with our first born, RJ at the time. We were somewhat settled in when my husband and I went shopping. When we returned, the kitchen and living room were covered in flying ants. They were everywhere. We assumed they had come down through the chimney and perhaps this used to be a favorite spot for them. The only way we could think to get rid of them was to vacuum them up. Somewhere, I have a video of this event.
According to our youngest, Michael, the back bedroom had the most activity. He said that he would wake up in the morning and his closet door would be open. We always kept the closet doors closed.
He also stated that sometimes he would wake up in the middle of the night and our dog, Catahoula, would be in his room standing there staring at him. This was unexplainable because Cat slept in our bedroom on the other side of the house and all of the bedroom doors were closed at night. For Cat to get into Michael’s room, our bedroom door would have to be opened, then Michael’s door open. Both doors would then have to be closed.
RJ’s rendition was even more disturbing. When he was a toddler he was sleeping in his crib. We heard a loud, shrill cry and ran in to see what was wrong. He was standing up in his crib sobbing. He pointed to a stuffed cow that his daycare provider had bought him at the local thrift store and said, ‘Evil cow!’ We removed the cow from his room and got rid of it the next day.
One night when he was a little older, we heard him screaming in the middle of the night. We ran in to his room, picked him up and held him. He continued to scream uncontrollably for what seemed like a very long time. He finally settled down and we placed him back in his bed. The next morning he had no recollection of the event.
One evening he was reading in the master bedroom. The lights flickered and he saw a green hand reach around the corner from the closet toward the bed. Then the door slammed shut. He ran out of the room to yell at us for scaring him. We didn’t know anything about it, other than that we heard the door slam and had assumed we were being too loud as he read. His little brother was asleep at the time.
One night he was sleeping in our bed. The light beside me had a creature wrapped around it and was looking at RJ. He cowered under the covers with the hope that if he didn’t look at it, it wouldn’t be real.
The boy’s rooms were on the west side of the house and our room was on the east side. They would often end up in our bedroom. When they were very young in the bed with us and as they got older, they would sleep on the floor. On a night when RJ had woken up and was heading toward our bedroom he looked outside in the back (we didn’t close our backyard blinds and much of that part of the house was windows. There was an alley separating our backyard from the neighbor behind us. As he was walking toward our bedroom, he saw a disc-shaped object hovering over the neighbor’s house. There was no noise and no color. He ran to our room and woke us up to look. When we did, there was nothing there.
He was playing a video game in the back bedroom. As he was playing, a birdhouse that was on top of a terrarium flew across the room, narrowly missing him. There had been no one else on that side of the house at the time. He ran out and had us come in to see where the birdhouse had landed. We had no explanation for him. He said that it had made a sound like someone pulling something out of the refrigerator and that it had been twitching and then flew in an arch, not a straight line, across the room.
His closet door would periodically open and shut on its own.
One day RJ was kicking a soccer ball against the corner of a wall near the master bedroom. He would kick the ball into the corner and it would come back to him and he’d kick it again. One day as he was doing this the ball didn’t come back, the room was dark. Then, after the hesitation, it came back with more force, like someone had kicked it. No one else was in that area.
In the front bedroom, RJ and Michael were going to sleep after a late night of gaming. RJ was playing a 10-song playlist. There is a song called ‘Rain’ and the lyrics include the word ‘devil.’ The devise began looping on that word. They had kept the light in the hallway on, as they always did, and RJ noticed that a shadow had crossed in front of his door, which he could see from the bottom of the door. Then another, then another and then several. They were all heading towards Michael’s room (the back bedroom). He describes the event as ‘shadow after shadow while the song is repeating the word ‘devil’ on his device.
Other than the flying ants when we first moved in, the only other strange thing that happened to me was when I was cleaning two rings in the kitchen. I placed them in a cleaning container to let them soak. When I opened the container a few minutes later, the rings were gone. I was the only one home and hadn’t left the kitchen. My mother came over and tried to help find them. They were just gone, and I’ve never seen them again.
My father lived with us for a few months. He slept in the back bedroom and often commented that the battery-operated toys in that room would start-up in the middle of the night and then stop as suddenly as they started.
At one point I was writing an article for a magazine on ghost hunting. I had three supernatural experts come to our home before heading to the haunted spots in the city. While there, I asked if they could take a look at our property. One of them was a producer for History Channel’s ‘Ancient Aliens’ show. They walked around inside and outside of the house. They said our house was not haunted but that the house next door, to the west of us, was. They said it was a male and that he wasn’t violent but was mischievous. They said that he craved attention so if things were happening in our house it was probably because the neighbors were away, and he was bored.
We were aware that the boys were scared but never really gave it any credence. Perhaps we were in denial, or perhaps they just had very active imaginations. We’ve lived in two other homes since then and haven’t had any disturbing events since then, thankfully!
Tortie was purchased by Grandpa on July 5, 2006 as a birthday gift for his Grandson, Michael. He was a 3-month-old Sercaia Tortoise with a green stripe on his belly. Grandpa paid $150.00 for him.
Tortie had a glass terrarium and a hollow trunk to hide in. He grew very quickly and before long, he didn’t have enough room in has habitat. We decided to place him in the back yard instead of buying a bigger cage. He was so small that we had to place pieces of wood along our back gates to keep him from escaping under the 4” gaps at the bases. When he began living outside, he grew even faster. He ate the grass and we would give him treats such as bananas and strawberries. If you had red polish on your toes and you were barefooted, Tortie would try to bite them. We discovered he didn’t like carrots or radishes. It wasn’t long before he was too big to escape under the gates and we were able to remove the logs.
Outside, we had two major concerns. 1) We had a swimming pool. We were concerned that he might get too close and fall in. He would probably sink to the bottom if that were the case. However, he never got too close. 2) We had pool maintenance and lawn maintenance services. We were concerned that someone would leave a gate open and Tortie would escape. Fortunately, that didn’t happen either, at least not until much later. As he grew, he could no longer walk under our patio furniture. He began lowering himself to get under the lounges and then raise himself and walk with a lounge on his back. It took me awhile to figure out why our patio furniture kept getting rearranged.
In the winter, he digs a hole that covers part of his body and basically stays there unless the sun is shining. If there’s sun, he’ll find a place to sit and soak it in. He won’t eat or poop while he’s in this state. He’s not completely hibernating, but not fully functioning either. He walks very slowly barely putting one leg in front of the other to move himself. I know he’s ready to come out of this state when I see him eating grass in the spring and his movements are more fluid.
He's very fast when he’s on a mission. He recognizes people and voices. He’s lived in four places. At one location he dug under a chain link fence that separated the backyard from the orchard. He was racing through the orchard and preparing to dig under the fence next to the street when caught. We had to get a wagon to place him in and wheel him back to his area. At another location he was preparing his winter home and dug so fast that there was a plume of dust in that section of the backyard. His finished product was so deep and expansive that we couldn’t see where it ended. It definitely qualified as a tortoise mansion.
For much of his life, we thought Tortie was a girl. However once puberty hit, and we did some research, we discovered that she was a he. We’ve also observed that he becomes more aggressive during the mating season toward the end of summer.
Four years ago, we moved into a different house. We waited until everything was moved before bringing Tortie over so that no one had to worry about leaving a door or gate open. Later in the afternoon Michael and his friend decided to explore the new neighborhood and left via the alley gate. Each boy thought the other had closed the gate. About 45 minutes later, we realized that Tortie was gone. The boys began searching the neighborhood for him. About two blocks away, they heard a commotion and horns honking and headed toward the sounds. Sure enough, Tortie had reach a major street and was crossing it. A motorist stopped her car and began motioning for others to do the same. Traffic had virtually stopped, and people were getting out of their cars to help. They got Tortie to the sidewalk as the boys walked up. A neighbor let them use their phone to call me. Tortie was too heavy for even two of them to carry all the way home. I brought the SUV over and we got an annoyed tortoise into the car and back to our new home.
He is now almost too heavy for two people to even lift. We tried to weigh him for this story but couldn’t do it. I can say that as of February 2020 he is 23” long, 15” wide and 12” high.
When it first came out, I was able to see the Broadway musical Cats in New York City. I liked it so much that I saw it again when it played in San Francisco. Before seeing it in San Francisco, I read the book it was based on, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot. The grandeur of the set and the beauty of the music were my favorite parts in New York. After reading the book, my second experience was deeper. I now had an understanding about what the songs meant and who the characters were.
Fast forward to now and I was thrilled that they had made the musical into a motion picture. In anticipation of the movie, I found my T.S. Eliot book and reread it. I got busy and couldn’t attend the opening night. My family was aware of my enthusiasm and broke the news to me gently. The reviews, both from critics and viewers were terrible. I was undeterred because I often don’t agree with the reviewers of movies I enjoy.
However, I have never read so many bad reviews on any movie. I made the decision that I would wait until it came out on DVD. In the meantime, my family would periodically read me the latest reviews. I’m now enjoying the creativity of the reviews very much. Have you read them? It’s like there’s a competition for who can trash the movie in the most strenuous way. When I have a few minutes to spare, I now find myself reading the reviews to brighten my day. They are incredibly funny. It’s too bad it’s at the expense of something I really like, but I’m very good at compartmentalizing and thanks to Cats, I now have another source of entertainment.
Someone should really publish a book with many of these reviews. I’ve never seen anything like them. Here is a very small sample:
“Meowch! This film is litter-ally a cat-astrophe.”
“Lacking any of its nine lives: abysmal.”
“Who let the cats out! I got a case of cat scratch fever watching this hairball of a movie.”
“My eyes burn and my soul feels like it’s being ripped out by the devil himself.”
“Cats is a once in a lifetime movie, not since the legendary birdemic have I been so absolutely bamboozled by the cinematic catastrophe that is this film.”
“I am in so much pain right now. Do not watch this under any circumstances, this movie is dangerous to your mental and physical health.”
“Keep a good stack of holy water around if you wanna watch it. This is what Dante saw in one of his dreams.”
“In the Little Box. The movie is ugly to look at and is an assault on the ears. I thought Hudson was trying to cough up a hairball. She should have. It would have been the highlight of the film.”
“I’d rather spend two hours watching a dirty litter box…from inside!”
“I inadvertently hammered a 6" nail into my hand. Yet that was more enjoyable than watching this disaster of a movie.”
“I almost put my cat up for adoption.”
“Turned me into a cat serial killer.”
“The only way this could make sense is if cops play it in interrogation rooms.”
I’m looking forward to watching it on DVD when Redbox releases it. I know, curiosity killed the cat. Wish me luck. Hopefully, I don’t stab my eyes out with a knitting needle.
When the boys were in 4th grade and 9th grade our family went to La Paz, Mexico on a mission trip. We went with a group of people who all but one, we did not know. Years later, the boys continue to talk about the experience. It completely changed their perception of the world.
They learned what true poverty looks like.
They learned that what we take for granted, others see as luxuries that are out of their reach.
They learned that having very little creates a creativity on how to use the things you do have.
And, most importantly, they learned that helping others is one of the most gratifying things a person can do.
I think all families should experience a mission trip to another country. I’ve been asked, ‘why another country? There are enough people to help in the U.S.’ My response is that going to another country and immersing in another culture amplifies the experience to a greater level.
Fundraising was a part of our process. I was uncomfortable with this, however, being there because other people paid for you to be there added to the seriousness of the trip. There is conscious obligation to the ‘senders’ to fulfill their expectations.
Not all mission trips are religious. There are organizations that go without the Christianity angle. Either way, it is an experience that has changed the fabric of our family’s viewpoint for the better. Taking children opens their minds to influences they would not have had otherwise.
As a side note, I do know someone who went with Peace Corp and their mission was to empower women to work outside of the home. Before children I would have thought that a noble goal. However, now I see it as an afront on other country’s cultures. I think we should go in to embrace and better their circumstances, not try to change them for what our culture thinks is ‘right.’
Some people are born to gift. You know who I’m talking about. They buy multiple items, all perfectly suited to your taste. They thoughtfully place them in a beautiful bag with fancy ribbon. When they hand it to you, they’re flush with excitement at the anticipation of the reveal.
I am the antithesis of a gifter.
I am clumsy at selecting a present that will be exactly what the recipient wanted. I will read disappointment and perplexity in the expression of the receiver. I will feel a little bit embarrassed and lacking when the event is over. For this reason, I do not like holidays where gifts are anticipated. Too much stress and disappointment for me.
I am also not good at receiving gifts. I attempt to act excitedly when I open a present, but, secretly I’m plotting how I will return the item at the soonest possible opportunity. This makes me feel sneaky and unappreciative. My gift attitude has been revealed of late and now my family watches me more closely.
It seems to me that there are fewer and fewer talented gifters in our world today. An indicator is the absurd number of gift cards that are exchanged. How empty, it seems to me, that I give you a $25 gift card to Home Depot and you give me a $25 gift card to Macy’s. What is the point?
And lists. This also seems rather silly to me. Your child makes out his list of wants. As parents, we dutifully go out and obtain said items. We wrap them and give them to the child. Everyone is happy. Again, this seems a bit empty to me. I do the same with grocery shopping – just more frequently.
I don’t have an answer to this dilemma of mine. A gift-truce would never be accepted in my family. Alas, I will continue on this path until such time as a realistic solution presents itself.
I deserve it, he deserves it, she deserves it. It’s become a growing catch phrase in our culture. I didn’t realize it until I was watching advertisements and it dawned on me that many of the commercials played to our entitlement mentality. Advertisers don’t just pull phrases out of the air. There is nearly always a reason for the words they chose. There’s too little space or time to waste a single word. Once the word ‘deserve’ made it to my consciousness, I began seeing and hearing it used all over the place.
Do we all deserve everything? I remember my boys being in preschool. Each day a child (or more accurately the child’s parents) would be assigned to bring the snacks for the class. Sometimes the snacks weren’t well received by the students. The staff had a saying they effectively used in such circumstances, ‘You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.’ They would make the entire class say it. And it worked, the children seldom complained and had the choice between not eating anything or eating the food placed in front of them. No teacher was running around looking for something that little Johnny would eat. Johnny just went hungry.
I think we’ve become too concerned about feelings and expectations. Perhaps a little toughening up is in order. Trying to accommodate everyone leads us down a road where self-centeredness prevails. There is evidence of this with the popular phrase, ‘Sorry, not sorry.’ From the moment I heard that phrase I thought it was snarky and unbecoming of the person using it.
I think we were better as a society when we had manners and were generally polite to each other. We were also at our best when we learned when to just be graceful when we didn’t like something minor, such as the food placed in front of us. Or, when we learned how to try and change our own circumstances when there was something major we were unhappy with. Placing the expectations into the hands of others to help ourselves leaves us helpless and perhaps hopeless at some point.
I just saw a billboard the other day that said, ‘Every pet deserves a vet.’ I thought it should say ‘Don’t get a pet if you can’t afford a vet.’ We place ourselves in positions and then expect others to get us out of the situation. It’s almost as if we’re regressing to children rather than progressing to maturity.
The definition of ‘deserve’ is to “do something or have or show qualities worthy of.” If most of us actually got what we deserved, we would most likely be getting much less than we have now.
October 1-11, 2019
Our plane out of Fresno left at 1:00 am. We planned on sleeping on the plane but had difficulty. Our second leg was from Dallas. We only had 30 minutes to get from our gate to the next, but we easily made it.
We ended up sitting in the Dallas plane for 3 ½ hours before we finally took off. There was an air conditioning problem. They had no meals and so by the time we got to Cancun we had not eaten in about 18 hours. Once we were past customs, we were bombarded with natives trying to give us a ride. The air was humid, and it made my jeans stick to my skin. Our driver was at the very end of the outside parking lot so we had to walk past all of the cat-calling before reaching him. The drive to Playa was an hour but our driver dropped two loads of passengers off first, making the ride even longer. It was interesting seeing big beautiful hotel complexes with large gates and guards at the entrances sprinkled along side jungle, junk yards and dilapidated structures where people were still living. The driver took us down a side street. He said the government had abandoned a section of a small town and gave its citizens the parcels. He wanted us to see his parcel, which had a two-story structure on it that apparently was unsafe, but occupied.
I noticed signs along the way that indicated to beware of wild jaguars crossing the roads. The Maya people considered them to be deities and their statues can be found at many of the ancient ruins. Today, they still roam around this area wild in the jungle, however we were assured that they are nocturnal and avoid humans.
At last, we were dropped off at our hotel, Panama Jack’s All-Inclusive Resort. We upgraded to a room with a balcony view of the ocean. It was stiflingly muggy, but we wanted to take in the view so we went onto the balcony, closing the sliding glass door behind us. It somehow locked itself from the inside. Our phones were inside the room and there was no one above, below or beside us. We simply shook the door until it somehow unlocked itself. We never completely closed the door again while being on the balcony.
All inclusive meant that we could eat and drink unlimitedly while on the property. They placed vinyl bracelets around our wrists so that the wait-staff would know. There were several restaurants to chose from and we would end up trying all of them. There was a poolside sushi bar, Brazilian steak house, Mexican restaurant, an Italian restaurant and a buffet that would have varying culinary themes throughout our stay.
There was nightly entertainment, first outside by the pool, followed by live music in the lobby. During the day there were always activities including bingo, beach volleyball, dance lessons, drinking games, etc. The funniest was when they filled the pool with foam shot from a cannon. Swimmers were given long balloons that they would bat around to the beat of the loud, fast Mexican music that played.
The sister hotel across the plaza was a Hilton hotel. They housed a company called Real Club. We agreed to a 90-minute presentation in exchange for a free breakfast (more upscale than we had at Panama Jack’s) and a couples’ massage. It was extremely high pressure and very shady. I enjoyed the experience because they applied sales techniques that I had been taught and I was viewing the entire scenario analytically versus emotionally. My husband hated it. I must say I’m shocked that Hilton allowed this to happen on one of their properties. A lifetime of branding was greatly diminished in one morning as far as I was concerned.
Walking along the beach was interesting. Each hotel had guards so that you couldn’t access their property if you didn’t have the correct bracelet on your wrist. While the frontage directly in front of the water is accessible to everyone, only guests of the hotels are allowed closer to the properties. The water itself isn’t ideal for wading or swimming. There are a lot of rocks and there is a seaweed problem. Locals are paid to rake the seaweed into wheelbarrows all day long. They are all along this stretch of beach.
There are fishermen that come in with boatloads of fish. The crew pulls a net out near shore with hundreds of fish. The men take the fish out of the nets by hand and place in the boat. Men in the boat place the fish in containers similar to milk crates. Men on the other side of the boat carry the containers to shore. The containers are so heavy they can only carry one at a time. The fish weren’t moving so I’m assuming they were already dead. One of the men said they were ‘bone’ fish, not good for eating. He didn’t know what they would be used for.
You can get a massage on the beach. There are open air tents with rows of massage tables. Their prices were far lower than that of the hotel spas. It was nice to lay there having your muscles kneaded while listening to the alluring sound of the waves and birds. We only did this on the last day. I wish we would have done it more often.
Women and children walk up and down the beach selling trinkets to the tourists. Some of the items are junk, while other things are very nice quality and hand made. We purchased souvenirs from a young boy on the last day. We should have negotiated the price but felt bad doing so. Which is precisely his parent’s strategy, I’m sure.
There were men who would carry musical instruments and/or a microphone with an amplifier and sing along the beach, in the streets, in front of restaurants, etc. They’re not allowed in the hotels so they stand right outside, hoping for donations. Some of them have their wives and children walk around with a hat out for money while the men are singing.
We debated bringing pesos instead of dollars but decided on dollars. We could always exchange via an ATM if need be. The only time we needed pesos was when we wanted to use the hotel’s computer and printer to get our boarding passes. We had to exchange a one-dollar bill for Mexican change. We were told to bring a lot of $1 bills for tipping which turned out to be a great strategy. The people we tipped seemed happy with just a $1 USD.
The iconic structure of Chichen Itza did not disappoint. It’s called Ed Castillo, or, Temple of Kukulcan, and is the centerpiece of this Maya city. I’d been wanting to see it for decades. We were picked up a few blocks from our resort at 4 am. It takes hours to get there and it’s located in the jungle. The heat is stifling so going earlier makes it more comfortable and less crowded. The reviews talked about renting an umbrella, which we did for $4 USD. We were glad we had it. The sun is piercing. We had two hours with our guide who was supposed to be an archaeologist, but we’re pretty sure he was not. You do get more out of the experience with a guide. Then, one hour on your own to wander about the ancient village.
The architecture is amazing. They constructed the buildings around the seasons so that there were visual ques on or surrounding the structures at key agricultural times during the year. The most notable is at the spring equinox when the light catches the Temple of Kukulkan in a way that appears to be a lighted snake with its mouth open at the base, also known as the Serpent Effect.
The entire experience is diminished by the excessive amount of maniacal, rabid vendors who line the many paths with tables of trinkets. They will stop at nothing to get your attention making it impossible to even hold a conversation with your companions. It’s a shame that they’ve let this happen to such a fascinating place.
These ruins are from the smallest Mayan city but also the richest. In ancient times, it was the only city by the ocean. Only 500 elites lived inside the wall surrounding the city. Everyone else lived outside of the wall. Much commerce passed through this port, salt being the most valued which was used to preserve food.
The heavy rain today impaired us a bit. The mosquitoes were relentless despite the doses of repellent we lathered on our skin. We had a guide, which I would suggest to anyone touring this amazing city. Otherwise, you don’t really know the history behind what you’re seeing.
Cenotes are natural swimming holes formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock, which reveals a secret subterranean world of groundwater pools. The Mayans revered cenotes because they were a source of water in dry times. The name cenote translates to 'sacred well.' There are thousands of them in the Yucatan.
We visited three cenotes. Each was completely unique. Prior to entering any of them, you must rinse off your skin. The bug spray, sunscreen, hair spray, etc. harms the natural inhabitants of the holes.
The first was called Cenote Verde Lucera, which translates into ‘Green Star.’ You can zip-line into the water which was great fun. You can also dive or jump into the water from above. Spider monkeys were all around travelling through the trees and seemingly showing off. Our group consisted of eight people. Our guide said in the peak months their group size swells to 26. Worth it to visit here in the off-peak seasons.
Another was Cenote Xibalba, or, ‘The Hell’ which you just walk through on a plank. The water is in this one is shallow. The Mayans believed that these cenotes were the passageway to hell. Hell, to them, was simply another place, it did not have the connotation that most other cultures have. Trees grow down into the cenote to reach the clear water. There are bats living inside and when you shine a light they cover their eyes with their little wings.
And finally, Cenote Caracol, or, ‘Shell.’ In this one, we could swim. It was a cave with stalagmites, stalactites, and trees growing down from the earth above. We wore life-jackets and swam in a group through the cave. At times it was very tight quarters where you have to float on your back, your nose not even an inch away from the stalactites. You can’t touch the stalactites because they will stop growing. I’m actually surprised that they allow this. Cenotes Xibalba and Caracol both had lights placed around, otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to see.
In this part of Mexico, there are many, many things to do. There is zip-lining, ATV rides, cultural parks, and snorkeling to name a few. Since we could do and have done all of these activities in other parts of the world, we decided to focus on activities that can’t be experienced elsewhere. I am surprised how interesting it was to learn about the Mayan people. I’m not a history buff and only tolerate museums. But the Mayan civilization captured my attention. It’s too bad that we only know parts of their history, the rest is only conjecture. Their architecture alone seems to go beyond the capabilities of an ancient culture. Everything else that we can surmise just adds to the intrigue.
For our remaining time, we relaxed at our resort, primarily enjoying the beach, music and getting to know other travelers from all over the world. It was like a mini United Nations, except we were all happy.
When I was young, I watched the Flintstones on television. One particular episode has stuck with me my entire life. In the episode, Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty travel to the future. They’re hungry and decide to have dinner. Fred orders a steak, Barney corn beef and cabbage, the ladies order lamb chops. Within seconds, their meals are served with silver lid covers over the plates. They are shocked to discover that on each of their plates is only a small pea shaped object. The next scene shows them leaving the restaurant commenting on how delicious the meal was and how full their tummies are. From the moment I saw this, I’ve thought how wonderful it would be if we could just take a pill instead of all that goes into our consumption of food.
Think about how much extra time and money we would have. There would be more living space in our homes. No grocery shopping. The diet industry would go belly up (pun intended). Unless of course, you took too many pills; that would make you an over-taker instead of an over-eater, I suppose. No worries about ailments that require modified diets. No planning a day around meals. Surely someone out there can come up with such a solution. When you do, let me know. Yabba dabba doo!
In elementary school. I left campus each lunch period to go to the corner convenience store. The principal figured this out and called my parents. They asked him to follow me to see where I was going. He followed me the following day and watched where and what I did. He called them back and reported that I was going to the store and purchasing a jar of pickles with my lunch money and eating them on my way back to school. My parents treated this as a very big deal. They bought me lunch tickets and I was selling them to other students at a discount in order to obtain cash for my pickles. They grounded me for the rest of my life and made me write daily reports on the dangers of leaving campus at lunch. On the last night of my report-writing punishment I had run out of dangers and spent the evening writing about how dangerous wild dog bites could be.
I’ve always had a weakness for dill pickles. It’s that thing that once I start, I can’t stop. I am reminded of this today, decades later. I was at Winco and saw a jar of baby dills. I stopped in my tracks, staring at them as if they were talking to me. I bought two of the big jars. When I came home, I sat down and couldn’t get them out of my head. It’s been three hours and the jar is about empty. I am Jolene and I am a pickle-holic. Thankfully, my children don’t read my blogs.
I’m at that age where I’m increasingly having to care for my parents while still tending to my children. As I’m talking to a case manager at an assisted living facility she said that I’m what’s called an Oreo. This is a specific stage in life and I have many thoughts about it:
My father continues to offer to pay me to manage his schedule and finances. I remind him that he never charged me to do these things when I was little. He thinks that’s funny.
In the last month, I’ve been to five medical facilities to visit four relatives.
In the last two months, I’ve been to five doctor’s offices for one relative.
Nearly every day since May, I have had to navigate complicated school systems for two boys.
At college orientation, we were told by faculty and students to let our kids figure it out on their own and that it’s ok for them to fail. Yeet.
I wonder if my kids will have to one day manage my schedule and finances. Since I have boys, I wonder if I do need help, will they help me or their wives. I better be nice to both.
The minute I’m caught up, another situation requiring my attention pops up. It seems never ending. It also seems like resolution is seldom simple. This is a challenge for someone who is wired for speed.
While this may be the biggest juggling act of my life so far, I kind of like the newness of the experience and the challenge of doing good work in all arenas. Cheers!
Thoughts that are alien to any of my other projects can be found here.