About today

Yeah, it’s all starting to get to me. Rob sleeping, the waiting … even caring for Rob 24/7 can get to me. I went to pottery last night, I don’t go for the clay, I go to get out of the house for 3 hours. I have my pottery, and then I have Wednesdays when I go to the therapist and then spend a few hours with Caroline. Aside from the grocery store, these are the only times I leave the house. I started taking Rob for rides a while back and I still do that, we go down river road and end up, after about 5 miles, at the cigarette store. It’s something …
Intellectually, I know that Rob is ill and requires care. But emotionally? I sometimes think he just needs to get moving. But I squelch that feeling.
Then there’s Carolyn who is facing Danny’s death spiral and I think — who am I to complain?
Danny’s going to need dialysis 3X a week. He went in to get his “shunt” (?) placed today so he can do the dialysis. I’ve told Carolyn that I will drive him so that she can continue taking care of her mom, Alice, who’s 93 and failing mentally. Carolyn makes her money off selling her pottery, so if she can’t be in the studio making art, she can’t make any money. She also makes money off her classes on Mondays and Tuesdays. Her future is so much grimmer than mine, it’s set me into a tail spin.
When they die, it will leave her with only her social security for income alongside her art/classes. I remember when Mom went into RiverWalk and her social security went to paying for that. We lost $1700 a month, that’s when Rob got fired/quit from BCDC so we got behind in everything very quickly. The situation was dire, believe me. I somehow managed to keep us from losing the house, don’t know how I did it… paid our bills and used up what we had in savings.
This was before Rob was diagnosed, so I was just angry for a few years. Why didn’t he get a job? Why wouldn’t he save us? It was the VA that stepped in and helped. It may be taking years for a resolution but the most important thing the VA did was provide psychiatrists and diagnoses. Odd… it’s a love/hate relationship.
So I think of all these things today. I fear for Carolyn, I know what her future holds and so does she. I always leave last from pottery “class” so that we clean up the studio and talk alone for a few minutes. Last night was brutal.
I keep remembering and then I think of the right now and the only thing I can do is to love my family unconditionally. To reach out to friends, like you, who help make this bearable. Real flesh and blood family and friends. Not online unknowns and for that I am also grateful… I realize, because I have a friend in this condition, that some people only have online friends and they’re virtual shut-ins.
Today I’m concentrating on the positive. Staying away from the dark pit. I’m grateful for the A/C units in my windows. I’m grateful for this wonderful falling down house, it continues to function despite its age. Maybe it knows we’re going to spruce it up as soon as we can. I’m grateful, oh so grateful, for the Volvo, long may she run. I may not solve any of my problems today but I’m also not going to sit here and meditate upon them.
Sounds like one of those positive affirmation exercises people do, but I’ve been sitting on the front porch, channeling my inner-Ruth and knowing she’s here, somewhere, in my psyche and if I can just pull her and Dad out of brain, I can do this. I didn’t sign on to care for a mentally ill spouse. He could just as easily be Danny and the end result would be death in a few months. I need to look at caring for him in a bright light, not a negative hole.
Oliver’s doing well in sailing school. I told you he’s been volunteering down there all summer. It’s right near their house, they owe so much to Caroline for that house, not that they’ll EVER in a MILLION YEARS admit it. Those boys personalities, their where-with-all is deeply tied to living next to downtown. Ollie came by yesterday, Jane dragged him down here, because I did his laundry for him. Such is the Nana mode I exist in. He had over a dozen pairs of shorts, a dozen t-shirt and no underwear in his laundry basket! What a boy… he’s such a teenager, it hurts! ha.
Emmett is a little firecracker. Every time we see him, he makes us laugh. He came over every day that Jeannette was here, kept talking to her, it was like he was taking care of Rob, I suspect he was, actually.
Jeannette sent us $250 for the website and has promised $250 more. This is 2 months of house payments. I don’t see an “end” to our financial problems, I just figure they could go on forever and that keeps my spending in check. We need stuff like clippers for yard, etc but we keep using the old dull ones because there’s no need to spend money we might need. I’ve managed to save almost $1000 since selling the car and paying off Visas, slowly. I know I can make 4 hour payments out of that, so we’re good through December. I even splurged and ordered a  $7.99 t-shirt that was a lightning deal on Amazon. Made me feel almost normal! And I ordered $17 windshield sunshield things — saved me from going to walmart.
Now if I can just get the website to load. I keep telling her to concentrate on the alternate site I built, it gets more traffic, but hey, as long as she’s happy and sends more money, I don’t care what website she looks at.
Will find out about SNAP (food stamps) this week. I always get nervous when I have to re-up for benefits, every 6 months, but it’s the same form with the same numbers every time — we couldn’t have survived this past year without the $350 month we get from our EBT card. I remember buying the bruised/old veggies/fruit from Pig before we got the card. One morning, I looked at the kitchen and realized there was NO food in the house and I had no money. It was unbelievable, you can imagine it — total panic. That night, Monday, I went to pottery and told them how I had no food. I wasn’t complaining or asking for anything, I just was telling them about it and we all kept on talking.
The next day, Carolyn and then another friend, brought bags of groceries. All of Carolyn’s classes took up money to buy us food. They all know me. Talk about a humbling moment. They continued to bring groceries for the rest of the money until the food stamps were approved. They even brought me homemade preserves/jams/tomato sauces.
When I have time, I’ll get more political, when this is over … get more into making my voice heard about the VA, food stamps and more. Right now I’ve got to take care of Rob. I’ll try to volunteer, like at the nearby Blind Center or something.
wow, long email. Thanks again for being there to talk to — it really helps. When I type this all out, it stops spinning around in my head and fucking me up.

Ruth Quote

Found this in a book of quotes belonging to Mom. Ruth Heinold wrote this, copied it from a book, in the 1940s.  “If my companions on the planet’s crust choose to rage about, they cannot affect me! I will not let them. I have the power to maintain my own calm, and  I will. No earthly being can force me to be false to my principles, or to be blind to the beauty of the universe, or to be gloomy, or to be irritable, or to complain against my lot. For these things depend on the brain; cheerfulness, kindness, and honest thinking are all within the department of the brain. The disciplined brain can accomplish them.”

The quote is especially powerful during the gloom and doom of the desperate voter, the online nastiness, the mis-quoted words, the mis-reported deeds of insignificant moral value.

Life moves on

here’s to another post no one will read. The Mother in Law came for a four day visit. We managed to get through it without any arguments, drunken stupors or idiocy. This is refreshing. She can be quite entertaining when she’s not drunk and she kept a lid on the wine consumption, drinking only one bottle per day.

We’ll be creating a new website for her business. Hers is a good site, but it doesn’t load correctly with the proper smart phone type format. It’s made for a computer, not a “hand held” device. I formatted the deadmule.com site to fit any format. Good on me. It’s such a great little literary journal, 23 years online, so it gets lots of credit FROM ME. I love The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and enjoy working on it every month. A new website every month, created and formatted by me — quite an accomplishment and I’m proud of myself for maintaining it all these years. The internet archives have pages from the 1990s which amazes and amuses me.

Yes, the Dead Mule is amazing.

My dogs are suffering this summer. Bad skin problems. Not so much fleas as something in the yard. It’s been raining so much, the stuff we spray on the yard to kill bugs just doesn’t stick around long enough to do any good. So they have little sores and itchy spots. I gave Ziggy a Benadryl a day for 3 days and it seems to have helped her a bit. She’s better now, I say as I watch her scratch and jump around trying to get to her back to scratch at it. Biting at it. I may have to shove another Benadryl down her throat but it really traumatizes her when I do it.

Dogs are outside playing to the neighbor’s stereo. Just hanging out in the much needed sunshine, pooping and walking around. Better there than in the house.

I’m waiting for Jane to tell me they need Rob today but so far, so good. They like their Mule, he works for free and doesn’t complain when you ask him to help you throw your garbage into the dumpster. We’ve had a full trailer in the back driveway for weeks now, filled with kitchen sink and more from the demolition of their kitchen. They tried to empty it on a Sunday, weeks ago, but the dumpsters were full and not taking any more garbage. That’s what happens here, everyone goes to the dump on Saturdays and the dumpsters get filled up to the brim, not to be emptied until Monday or Tuesday. You’ve got to go on a weekday, I think. I’m curious as to when they empty it, because they’ve got a mountain of stuff to throw out at the house, just waiting for the empty trailer.

Then again, I’m surprised they didn’t come get the Boston Whaler for a boat ride today. They will justify “needing a break” and then not do the necessary housework. It’s who they are and I love them for it. I understand them better than they understand themselves. And I appreciate who they are and how much they love me. While I may seem to be complaining, I’m really not. I need to be careful and not say hurtful things. I need to remain level headed and right minded about who they are and how they accomplish / don’t accomplish things.

Dogs are ready to come in. Guess that sunshine only felt good for a short while. Zoey was lying in the sun but Ziggy was barking. I should have left them out there — oh well.

We have the Social Security disability hearing, with the judge and the attorney coming up on the 28th. Rob is freaking out, daily, about it. Lots to be panicked about so I’m making sure he takes an Ativan when he gets too freaky. I don’t get to go into the hearing with him, only the attorney attends the interview. Rob will have an extremely difficult time and I know he’s dreading doing it on his own. But the attorney is flying up from Orlando to be with him, which I consider pretty significant. There can only be one video, so it has to be the judge, therefore, the attorney must be here in person. She seems well-versed in social security jargon. We had a very long conversation wherein she asked Rob the questions the judge will ask. It noticeably freaked him out, but she did not talk about the rape, she asked him about his psychological problems and he responded just fine. He’s so unsteady, it was very difficult for him. This is year three of our initial filing. Three years! And now the new US budget wants to take money from vets and deliver it to the pentagon for more boom boom guns and less benefits for those who gave to the country. It’s sinful.

So today is sunny. The first sunny day in weeks. We are enjoying it the best we can, what with Rob having a panic attack every 20 minutes. The Ativan ought to start working soon, but sometimes I’m tempted, I swear, to give him 2 instead of one. I only take 1/2 of one when I’m panicked and it helps. His metabolism is just so different from anyone else’s, of course it is. enough of this nonsense. I’ll sign off now and hope no one is reading.

Watching the River of Strange Overflow Its Banks

blackandwhite photos wisconsin 46

So he gets up on the roof of their house every chance he gets. It started with retrieval of a frisbee, then an intentional roller skate toss, then his friend’s shoe. He gets a chair to start the ascent. Leans it up against the HVAC unit, climbs onto the unit, then pulls the chair up onto the unit, sets it on top of the steel box, then climbs on it again — this time ascending to the roof of the one-story house. The shingles are worn off where he climbs and the roof has a path-pattern where he walks the skies.

His grandmother, elderly beyond my knowledge, older than dirt, with white/gray hair down to her waist, wears man khakis and worn-out white cotton shirts, no shoes, comes outside when she hears footsteps above her while she works at the kitchen sink.

“You want to meet Jesus?!” she hollers up at the young kid. “You want to meet Jesus? Well, get down here or you’re going to meet Jesus when you fall off that roof. You ready to meet Jesus?”

He slowly ascends the chair/ladder and shakes his head, “No, ma’am,” as he watches her round the corner to the back door. He takes his shoe off, throws it onto the roof, and begins his ascent again.

Great-Grandfather John William Chapman


My great-grandfather, John W. Chapman, served with the Ohio 121st infantry during the Civil War. He was a private. Turns out, as he marched with Sherman to the sea, he came damn close to where we live in North Carolina. I hope to one day follow the route of the 121st through NC but that requires gas money so that’ll be a while before it’s implemented.

My grandmother told my mother (Ok, so this is Florence talking to Ruth) that my grandfather (this is John Theodore Chapman) was abandoned by his parents at the age of 11. This was the horrific story, often told. Florence cursed the Chapmans for such an act.

Flash forward to 1998. I sent off to the military records department, seeking the records of John W. Chapman’s (great-great-grandfather) War of 1812 military record. What I received was John W. Chapman’s Civil War record in the form of a petition to the Ohio Soldiers and Sailor’s Orphanage. Pretty much blew everything my mother (Ruth) knew right out of the water. Apparently John W. died, leaving second wife with three kids. My great-grandfather was the oldest. The age of maturity, in 1893, was eleven, so he was set free and apparently not allowed to enter orphanage. According to the Wikipedia page, “children” lived at the home until the age of 16, so I’m not sure why my grandfather didn’t go there.

What he did do was work his way through college and graduated from Ohio Northern University in 1899. Apparently he worked as a waiter. Got degrees in Latin and Greek and he became principal what would now be a community college.

So, at age 11, he went to live with his grandparents (so the story goes). The two minor children, Vera and Sumner, were sent to orphanage to live. All the back VA Compensation money for JWC’s claim went to the orphanage, not to the mother. Vera died within a few days of entering orphanage. There was an outbreak of typhus in Ohio around this time but it could have been anything. Diseases were rampant in the area then, even cholera I think. Sumner, we assume, left the orphanage when he reached the suitable age. No one ever mentioned Sumner to Ruth.

I found Sumner in Oakland, CA in 1920s in a marriage announcement. I can’t find it now, the long ago link, but he married a nurse and the ceremony took place in the hospital. It was the correct Sumner Chapman because it said he grew up in orphanage. Apparently this had something to do with the poignancy of the wedding story.

The mother (Margaret Chapman) went on to remarry, it’s in the documentation and then left town for the Oregon Territory.

The most amazing thing about the documentation is how the petitioner (Margaret) had to prove John W. fought for the Ohio 121st and died from injuries sustained during War. He died in 1893, war over 1865, do the math. Well, she proved it. Proved he fell into a swift running frozen creek in 1864 and was never the same. Proved he had lung problems, stomach problems and the physical complaints killed him, it just took a few decades. She proved, through testimony of the men who fought with him, that he fell into creek. That he developed bronchitis. That he entered the infantry hale and hearty and left it a battered, ill man.

John Theodore’s mother died when he was four. The only thing he remembered about her was her in bed, asking for water. She told him to get it from the “cool side of the well.” What a sad story, eh? John W. then remarried, a much younger woman, who bore him the two children, Sumner and Vera. I can’t find any trace of a Vera in my family tree, so the name must have come from Margaret’s family. Sumner I can find. There was even a Sumner Munson (Chapman name) who was one of George Washington’s personal physicians and Ruth always thought there was a relation to us in there.

I hope to scan the records or at the very least transcribe the war record because it’s fascinating. Another fascinating aspect of the entire file (over 40 pages) is that it closely resembles what the VA looks for, the documents requested, today in 2018, for compensation cases. 1893 was the first year, if memory serves, that one could seek compensation for war injuries (death related to service).

As we enter into year three waiting for R’s VA Compensation claim to run its course and him to be granted compensation, it seems especially noteworthy that nothing has changed with the VA in over 100 years. Same proof required. No wonder the VA is so far behind. The documents may be submitted as PDFs but they’re originally hand-written or typed. There’s a real paper trail. Our attorney is paper free and we receive PDFs of all documentation/letters written to VA.

We’re also waiting for social security disability. Apparently you get to have both, thank God.

Now I’m going to start a new blog series, as I look up the John W. Chapman files and scan them. I have a 1945 diary, it’s boring but succinct. Written in school teacher handwriting with every day noted in some way.

Waiting for Repairman


The Sears repairman came, new parts here, and last week, tried to fix washer. The hell of being poor, my mother’s day present was the payment of the Sears repair bill. Anyway, the part Samsung sent was faulty. So now we wait, a week later, for the repairman to show up and try again.

Being poor means things not being fixed and learning work-arounds. Being poor means going without the basics, like laundry equipment. I’m not talking about dishwashers, I couldn’t care less about having one, doing dishes is not a big deal. You just fucking do it. But my washer not functioning since the last big freeze? What a learning experience. In the beginning, we went to laundromat. Then J got a new washer, huge gigantic one, does 2 loads in 1, so we started going over to her house. Now we let it pile up, thinking the machine will be fixed. So we’ll do a community fingers crossed that this time is the charm. Laundry dance!

Meanwhile, S hasn’t come by for a few days. Could be because it was raining after school but maybe our not coming to the door when he comes by — maybe?? I doubt he got the message. I talked to therapist about problem with S and she said I need to talk to his mother about it. Will do. I’m going to be a chicken shit and text her about it, but I think I can do it with compassion and carefully tell her that he just can’t come over every day un announced. I mean, who does that? SO rude.

I have a real problem with people who drop by unannounced. You call/text and ask if we’re busy or you ask permission. You ask if someone is busy, you ask for a convenient time. All of our friends, even our grandsons, ask before they come over. We always say “yes” but still, it’s polite to ask.

And we deal with alcoholic mother-in-law. Haven’t even BEGUN to write about her. A seventy-year old woman who won’t admit she’s an alcoholic. She drank a bottle and a half of wine in less than four hours the last time she was here. Now she’s taking to R on the phone and won’t hang up despite his repeatedly telling her he has to go. She’s a narcissistic wonk of a woman who doesn’t like me, who tries to act like she does and I can see through it. We’ve been married over 20 years, I can see through her.

Meanwhile… still no repairman. Sears will send an email when he’s about to arrive and I haven’t received it yet, so I continue to dump my thoughts into this blog post.

I should rant about MIL but, frankly, I’ve done it so many times, I don’t know where to begin. There was a ten year period in our marriage when we didn’t even speak to her. I long for those days, believe me. I don’t handle drunks very well. I understand addiction and disease but that doesn’t mean I have to deal with it every day. Drunk phone calls are the worst. “Does R still love me?” she’ll whine. She calls at least 3 times a day, every day. It’s ridiculous. At least BIL is a bit more under control, even if he is a certified loon. At least he doesn’t drink any more, he’s just addicted to pain pills. Buys them off the street, wonder if he’ll ever get caught. That’s going to be a real mess… I suppose it’s a possibility but we won’t have to deal with it, MIL will be hard-pressed to come up with defense attorney money so he’ll have to get a public defender. He’ll probably end up doing time. Curious thought, never had it before.

R is working on a malware problem. It involves a nearby city taken ransom by it. Very intense and I hope he can help. He has “friends” who are aware of how these things work… A needs help with it, so it must be a frantic and awful situation. I don’t remember A calling for R’s help in the recent past.

I’m trying not to smoke incessantly. It’s tempting when they’re right here, the cigarettes and R is smoking like a steam engine. He’s been notified by gmail that someone’s trying to break into his account so he’s busy changing all his passwords. Someone tried to empty our PayPal account a few months ago. Sent a bogus invoice but PayPal caught it. Scared me enough to make me transfer money to credit union, which I trust to hold my money securely.

R is really busy, this is good for him, being needed. It always helps self-esteem when one is recognized, fairly enough, for their expertise in a matter. And R is very knowledgable and has many online friends are equally knowledgable.

Rain again.

Mimosa tree leaking on car windows. Little fairies smashed flat against the glass. The hummingbirds ought to be here now, they love the mimosa flowers. It’s magical watching them hover over the pink fairy blossoms. Their feathers are iridescent, so beautiful. Now that’s me really rambling. Just waiting for the Sears guy, ho hum de dum.

We’re still waiting and now he’s officially late. He had a 10-2 window and it’s 2:30. I just want my washer fixed, no drama.

Speaking of drama http://www.dailyadvance.com/News/2018/05/25/Cyberatttack-shuts-down-Pasquotank-website-files.html occurred. What a mess. Hope they can get their files back and secure their servers. Apparently many counties in the state are vulnerable because, while electronic files are mandated, there was no money allocated in the budget for proper security backups and secure servers. What a mess.

It rains every day. I feel like I’m in the tropics. Everything is dripping and the dreaded word “moist” now comes into play. Every one hates that word. I think I read an article about the worst English words and it ranked in top 3, maybe even #1. We all hate the word “moist”.

A/C working hard to keep humidity out but it’s a window unit so it’s not costing us an arm and a leg to keep house comfortable. The rambling continues. I know I need to write about my great-grandfather’s Civil War experiences… but I just can’t get going on it. I can’t figure out where to begin.

I think I’ll dig out the file and start with my next blog post.

Beagle Puppy


My neighbors have a beagle puppy that screams. It’s hysterical. I’m sure they think we’re annoyed by the sound but we find it quite amusing. This dog is truly full on beagle. Every time the “parents” come home and the baby hears the car, he/she begins to howl like bloody murder. We think it sounds like Moooooooommmmmeeee. ha.

We have a true problem. I mean a big one. A neighbor’s 12 year old son is bored, has no friends and has latched onto us. We knew it was bad, his random dropping by EVERY DAY after school and for hours and hours last weekend but this morning, Saturday, he came over at 8:30 a.m. Yes, you read that right. He dropped by, uninvited at 8:30 this morning. Rob didn’t know what to do. I have to stop the whole thing and am unsure how to do it.

I don’t want to lose my neighbor’s friendship. She is a funny woman, full of energy and zip and get up and go but she is as clueless as her son about what’s going on around her. I won’t give examples, just trust me on this. Now when it comes to her son coming over, she encourages it. Finds old board games he can bring over for us to play. I imagine she was still asleep when he came over today.

I had to convince R that he could sit in the living room and not be interrupted by the boy but low and behold, this morning the kid shows up, can see R through the living room door and blammo, now R is nervous and upset. I had to give him an Ativan to calm his nerves. Can’t have that … just can’t have it.

We are afraid he will make up a story, something horrid, about us or R in particular, if he becomes upset with us. Yes, the kid is whacko. He is violent with his mother, she told me the other day that she slapped him because his attitude was so bad and she should have slapped him harder. I didn’t respond to the text because I was horrified.

I figure if he comes by any time soon, like today soon,  I will have to be the adult in the situation and say, “Stephen, we’re busy today. We can’t see you,” and then close the door. Why are we so afraid of this kid? Because he knows too much. Because he says sexual comments on the bus that O says are so inappropriate that no one will talk to him. Comments about sucking someone, comments so horrid O couldn’t repeat them and saying the comment above embarrassed O to the core of his being. He says the kid is just weird and O is very tolerant, very kind about everyone (except this kid).

The mother repeated one of the inappropriate comments to me the other day and laughed and laughed about it. So she encourages his behavior. This scares me even more. He’s being punished and rewarded for the wrong things. And the flip side is, it’s none of my business to know any of this. I am not his family. I am not raising him. How she raises him should be none of my concern. I shouldn’t even be aware of his consequences, his circumstances — not like I’m going to call social services on them.

I’m sure he knows R is fragile, I’m sure she’s told him more than he should know about our situation. I’m sure she knows too much about J and A, since we’ve had some deep conversations when she’s sane and acted like a true friend. Oh well. It cuts me to have to shut off her kid but I have to do it.

No 63 year old woman should have to entertain a 12 year old, unless it’s her grandson, eh? It’s not right to be a 12 year old’s best friend. I’m sorry he’s lonely, that he’s made no friends, but he is what he is and he’s not mine to raise.

Why does he make me so nervous? I have to admit I’m scared of making the kid angry. I think he’s capable of making up crazy stories, not that he ever has, not that he’s made one iota of a move in that direction … but he just plain scares me. I know what E is capable of, and he uses his powers for good most of the time and I see a lot of common behaviors in this kid. The ability to spin wild and elaborate lies out of bits of truth.

J didn’t help when she reacted with horror at the fact the kid was here alone with R. Of course, the whole time they were together, R stayed on front porch.

Oh and the reason the kid wants to be here? TV and the internet. He’s denied both at home as punishment for bad attitude, for not doing his chores. I’m in favor of such regulation but if you don’t give a kid something else to do, you’re only fostering the behaviors we’re seeing in him. Aggression, attention-seeking, boredom and more. He’s a smart kid, too. Makes good grades, apparently.

He bullies his 80 year old grandparents, physically and emotionally. I think they’re afraid of him… although they just make disapproving faces. He breaks things at their house and makes them very upset. 80 years old and the mom expects them to be taxi service to son while she works or goes to her own “adventures” like taking pottery classes or small engine repair classes at local community college. She seeks nighttime adventures, and her son is expected to stay home alone or with grandparents.

What a mess! It wasn’t our problem until last weekend when he stayed here for hours, we even fed him. I did’t see it as a problem in the making, how naive I am.

Well… will let yall know where this goes. For now, I have to calm R down, make him not be afraid of the kid, give him the tools to say Go Home to him. I think the main thing we say is that we’re working so we don’t have time for him right now. Say that every time. We’re working. But wait, it’s not good to leave a positive “maybe” hanging out there. If we leave it hanging, we invite him over — in  his mind — there’s still an opening. Come by later is implied. Can’t have any maybe in the later scenario.

It’s tough being an adult. It’s rough being a 12 year old boy. I am the adult. He’s a kid and not my kid at at that. I think I’ll go take a shower.