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 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.



Foot in Mouth?

Featured Image -- 3432

You wanted to know about J putting her foot in her mouth. Well, she came over this afternoon to tell me how embarrassed she is about something she said to a guy they really like, a fairly new neighbor:

J was talking to neighbor, 1/2 of new couple that moved in (renovated house etc so they’re really something cool and good for the neighborhood ) who came over to tell her about a “boarder” in nearby house who was found to have robbed house across street of everything, even found her porch furniture in his room, well… guy told about how the boarder was arrested — yada yada. Who knew something like that was going on, just a few doors down from them… lots of discussion.

Then he mentioned another boarder in the same house, L, who is a train wreck waiting to happen. L worked with J for a while. Drama follows middle aged L wherever she goes and J said so to guy. Apparently L wants to buy house near guy sooooo J says, “That’s interesting. She’d make a strange neighbor. I live in my little world and so when someone’s daughter ODs on heroin in her kitchen, I tend to see that as drama.” J is ever the one to tell it as it is. L’s daughter OD’d last year.

Guy goes “My daughter’s been off heroin and clean for 9 months. We’ll see how that goes…” and just starts talking about something else.

Well shut the front door. J didn’t know 1) he had daughter 2)daughter with addiction problem. She felt awful, like she was being too judgmental to guy about heroin addicts (ha) and I said, how can you not sound that way when talking about awful things like that? You sound judgmental. it happens. He’s probably used to it.

I told her not to worry about it but she really doesn’t want to appear judgmental or anything to guy, he’s close neighbor, nice, very friendly, they all have dinner together etc.

And you can never tell who’s going to rent those rooms, the ones in the old Victorians that were grandfathered in to the “no separated dwellings” historic district regulations. Some are friendly and ok, most of them are losers who don’t qualify for Section 8, who make little money and how are awful.

You never know what’s going on in people’s lives, do you? Here’s my latest drama —

Meanwhile, I told you about M’s kid S coming over here last weekend? i saw him riding his bike towards our house yesterday and went to back of house, didn’t answer the door. Then we went over to J’s to see new porch configuration. I simply cannot have him here as our “best’ friend. We talked to O about S and O says they all steer clear of him on the bus. I asked if he’s bulled and he said a vehement NO  we don’t allow that on our bus– which is cool but anyway, get this, O says S makes these (and O was very embarrassed to tell us) really weird comments about how he wants to “suck someone” and it’s gross and disturbing to the kids on the bus and there’s more, he says, but he’s not going to tell us  (Stephen is 12,6th grade) so we don’t know what to do but J WENT OFF and said, “DO NOT have that kid alone with R, EVER. And try not to let him in even if you’re home.”

I told her she was right and that there would be no more visits. M also revealed to me that she got so mad at S the other day, he had such an attitude with her, that she slapped him. So I really need to back out of a relationship with either of them and have done so, in a kind of passive way, being friendly (cause she’s a neighbor) but being aloof in my own way. Standoffish without her really perceiving it, just being “busy” and not beginning conversations any more.

I hate that she’s not going to be my friend but I must preserve R and also take care of myself. Can’t be around someone in crisis right now, have to take care of my family. It’s not my “place” to save those two, even if I thought I could do it in the first place.

I’m not going to change my life around avoidance of S, but I will be ready to tell him I’m busy, on my way out the door, that we can’t see him right now etc. And I told R that if we have to, we can truly leave, drive away and go down to the river for a while or go to the grocery store as need be.

Weird problem, eh? The kid behaves when he’s here but he’s starved for attention. Wants us to watch him play video games booooorrrrrrrring. I don’t even do that with my grandsons! or to play a card game or a board game. It’s sad but we are not his parents, grandparents, or friends.

I knew something was off with him but I didn’t want to say anything to R because R felt so sorry for him, having no dad and R growing up with no dad and a wacko mom, etc.

And as far as MiL is concerned, she can go screw herself. I am not going to talk to her unless she contacts me (no phone calls though) only emails — and I’ll be polite but not forthcoming nor will I reveal anything other than the weather or how the dogs are doing. I’ve had it. We owe her money and she damn well better steer clear of me if she expects to get any of it back. We took out  second mortgage (from her $$) about 5 years ago and we owe her for that… but she’s not going to see the total of it, EVER. She owes R for all the years of verbal abuse. I think I told you all that, didn’t I?

I wish I could stop him from talking to her but it’s like a moth to a flame. next time I catch him talking to her I’m going to tell him to HANG UP RIGHT NOW as if there’s something on fire, ha ha. He’ll only do it if I make it sound urgent. Then I’m going to tell him why I made him hang up. It’ll only work once, he won’t believe me a second time…

enough, I’ve talked your ear off. going to finish my book…

don’t you love my dramas?


Don’t Need to Attend Hearing


So, we’re learning just how the attorney earns her fees… R doesn’t have to attend a hearing in Winston-Salem next month. The attorney phones in an “informal” (her words) conversation with the DOR and we just wait. We’ve been waiting almost 2  1/2 years now, going on 3, for VA compensation for R’s being sexually assaulted while serving his country in Air Force. He should have been safe from sexual predators instead he was drugged and raped (1988) by a superior officer. Told he would be booted from the Air Force with a dishonorable discharge if he reported the crime, he stayed silent for years. Then one day he just popped mentally.

It took about 25 years to hit him completely. Before that, he was most certainly mentally ill but it wasn’t anything specific. I thought of it more as an Aspergers type personality quirk, or quirks. But truly it was so much more. It’s not that he has Aspergers, it’s that he can’t trust or connect with people. We’ve been together over 20 years now and believe me, I know him.

R is kind, compassionate and loving. I get smarter every day that I deal with him. Schizo-affective disorder, OCD, General Anxiety Disorder and more to go with his PTSD. The Air Force does not pay compensation for PTSD, we’ve learned, what they “pay” for is the after-effects of it. The mental side of it — the schizo-affective disorder and all the other diagnoses in R’s mental baggage. His suitcase is full.

This is difficult to write about but I am assured that no one is reading this, and if they are, I trust they’ll read it with a compassionate heart and a knowing mind. He is very much affected by the stigma of mental illness and it lurks just beneath the surface every time he leaves the house.

He always asks if he’s acting normal. Fine … let’s all define normal. He is able to greet people appropriately, known or unknown, he is polite, well-groomed in public (at home that’s another story) and tries hard to be accommodating.

He takes great care of the boys and has always been an integral part in their upbringing. They are both fine young men, aged 12 and 13. They are actually quite amazing. Polite. Caring. Loving. Very much teenagers but that is to be expected. They don’t bad-mouth their parents, are appropriately defiant about chores (who can get a teenager to do anything??), and keep their rooms in the usual disarray of their gender and their age. I find them delightful and rejoice when they come to visit.

They grew up in this house with us. We’ve been here over 16 years and they spent the last 6 years just 3 blocks from our house. Their visits are frequent and very low key. The 13 year old, O, says this is his real house, he’s in boarding school all week (at his house). This is a running joke with us when he comes here for the weekend. They don’t come as often as they used to, they’re growing up and don’t need our wifi any more. All grown up with their own phones… and unlimited data (I think)

I have a friend who has a very unruly, disrespectful bully of a 12 year old son. I don’t know how to handle him, he came over many times over the last weekend and we had to entertain him as he brought games and cards over for us to “play” with him. R was quite kind and enjoyed the game time but I bored of it quickly and wanted to do other things, yet stuck as I was, I couldn’t get out of paying attention to him during the hours he spent in our house. Turns out, his mom banned him from the internet, so he came here. His mom took the power cord to the TV to  punish him yesterday, so he came over after school yesterday.

She told me that when he came home (she’s a single mom, it’s just the 2 of them in her house, no Dad influence at all) he had such an attitude, a bad one, that she slapped him. Then she told me she should have hit him harder. I am appalled and now withdraw from contact with ether of them. His aggression could turn on us and we aren’t raising any more children. Hence, the backing away. How horrid! I can’t imagine striking a 12 year old in the face, just can’t imagine it. He definitely had ADHD and they gave up trying to medicate him. J and I agree, you keep trying different drugs until you find the right one, you don’t give up on the first try. That’s why E is on meds, it took a couple tries to get it right but he is completely ok when he takes his meds. Without them, the whole oppositional defiance thing kicks in, it’s what the kid is feeling and he can’t control himself. Being slapped isn’t going to knock him into behaving. I can’t believe she did that and thought she should have been more physical with him.

She’s small and will eventually have to deal with him hitting her back. Where do they go then? He bullies her, his 80 year old grandparents and I can’t imagine him having any friends at school. He’s very smart, maybe too smart, so he’ll see his way around any punishment she metes out, even physical. He’ll just laugh at her, I can see it, just totally can see him laughing at her after she strikes him.

I will stay out of it. Not going to be part of such a child raising. Not gonna’ do it. I raised two daughters who are amazing, two grandsons who are superb and I am not taking on another kid that’s not related to me — to raise. She’s on her own from now on. I will resist her attempts to “go places” like out to eat or to the local bar down the street. I’m not her friend any more and it will be difficult to passively withdraw from our burgeoning relationship. I can do it.

Meanwhile, V has finished her FB fundraiser. She will get $114 via my checking account which I will then deposit into her PayPal account. Walmart online accepts PayPal so she can buy her necessary “pee pads” from there and have them delivered. She anxiously awaits the money but I fear it’ll be another week until she gets it. She pees on herself because of urinary cancer issues, I believe. We’ve been friends, online, for over 7 years, and she’s been homeless and alone for years. She found someone to live with in RI a year ago and she regrets moving in with a very dysfunctional family. She was/is supposed to care for the elderly mother at night in return for room and board but since she moved in, one of the family’s breadwinners has lost his job, the money is tight, she receives little or no (on some days) food and he (the job loser) resents her being there so he harasses her every day by stalking her. Or so she says. She could be just over-reacting to a difficult situation. I don’t know her reality any more.

I know my reality. I am anxious but hopeful. Aware of my surroundings and in a good place, all in all. We have enough money to pay for the 1/2 mortgage payment thru October and this is reassuring. It will take every penny we have to go that long but we can do it. After that, we’re totally fucked. There is no more money. I’ve managed, if we go through to Oct, to make the car’s sale ($5000) last for almost a year, if memory serves. I think I sold the car in late Nov … it was a 1972 Buick Riviera. We traded R’s old decrepit Harley Davidson for it. The bike was shit, really, but R thought it was wonderful. After he had a fender bender, actually no damage was done to the vehicle he bumped, the State took his driver’s license away and he was supposed to turn it in but he never did. He’s got to have a picture ID. I suppose this causes me a lot of angst but I put it away. I tamp it down and don’t think about it because I can’t fix it right now. I think we’ll hire an attorney once we get the money and get his license back — if we can. They may not allow him to have one because then, after the compensation goes through, he will truly have a mental illness diagnosis. It will help that he has a fairly clean driving record, I think.

Right now I have a wonderful car, a 2007 Volvo XC90 given to me as a Christmas present from my eldest daughter and her husband. J and A very graciously gave it to me rather than use it for a trade-in when J got a new Volvo. It was the right thing to do but that doesn’t mean that had to do it. I am forever grateful to them. We didn’t have a car for 3 years. If you live in a metropolitan area, that’s not a big deal. We live in rural South where there’s no public transportation other than calling a cab and people must drive everywhere. I tried riding a moped, it’s torn up and in the garage, I’ll give it away some day if someone wants it for parts. It has a gas leak and I couldn’t fix it, but I gave it the old Heinold try. I tried riding a bike but it has a flat … and I’ve become so anxious lately, it’s weird.

When I first started driving the car, after Xmas, it was as if I was 16 again and trying to drive. I was so intimidated. I’m almost over that but I lack confidence in almost everything so it’s not surprising that I’m nervous about driving. The brakes need work and J has assured me that they’ll pay for it and we can pay them back. I’ve hesitated talking to her about it, but they’re getting worse, starting to make a sqeeeeeeee noise when I drive. I’ve got to get the washer fixed and that behind us before I approach her. My anxiety precedes any actions. I need to stop obsessing about other people’s reactions to my actions and just move forward.

My therapist canceled today. It’s a real shame, I need her. I’ve so much swimming around upstairs in my brain’s aquarium. Lots of strange fish. I’ll go to C’s shop the afternoon, after Sears finishes with the washer, and we can have our own family therapy session. I need to unload all the VA complications, the canceled appointments, the attorney actions, and the pending disability hearing in August.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I took Provigil today, so my brain is functioning well — it’s just overloaded with possibilities. I think it makes R nervous when I sit here and type for a long time but I’ve told no one about this. Wait, I think I told R I had a random blog and typing in it helped me cope. I could type all this into my word processor but there’s something so gratifying about having my words out there, accessible by anyone but actually read by no one.

There’s this art therapy technique where a person must write 3 pages a day, every day, before doing anything else. It was/is very therapeutic for me, very freeing. I believe this is what the blog is, my 3 pages. I should rename the blog My Three Pages but The Assemblagist has been around for so long, and spellcheck just hate it, I guess I’ll keep it.

Old guy working on P’s porch. He’s slow, he says, but I say all that mitering takes time. I hear his saw as I type and know he’s hard at work. She’s gone to the beach for a few days. I was supposed to feed her Mama Kitty last night but guy blocked access to porch with boards so I didn’t step over them. I noticed food in the bowl and starlings fighting over it, so I figure the cat’s ok. Will put more food out later today. She has no idea that she’s feeding bluejays, starlings, stray cats and her own cat. I am a firm believer in NOT feeding any animals on my porch. We tried it, years ago, in another house out in the country and ended up with an opossum eating right out of the bowl.

I have a photo of it somewhere.

F is still waiting on the weather to behave so we can go to estuary area to try his time-lapse photography experiment. His last attempt, at Dinah’s Landing, failed miserably and he only got white … no images. He blasted back in full force after his ablation procedure, thank god. I’m definitely not ready to lose him!

time to sign off… thanks for not reading. you’ve been a great audience.

Notice of appeal hearing


R received a notice of an appeal hearing scheduled for June 13 in Winston-Salem. The VA.GOV website lists the hearing as canceled and R’s claim complete. No other information. We believe the RAMP application superseded the appeal process, thus canceling the hearing (which is a shame, we may have shot ourselves in the foot by requesting a RAMP hearing). There’s no way the RAMP scheduling is for this soon. All I can do is email different people at the attorney’s office and hope someone has a definitive answer. I think it’s canceled. I think it’s interesting to note that we’ll have to go to Winston-Salem for the hearing. I’m surprised it we have a hearing at all, thought it was a done deal with all the paperwork but apparently not.

*heard from attorney, she will handle it all, we do not have to attend a hearing. repeat, do not have to go to winston-salem. this is rip-roaring good news. There is light at the end of this 3 year tunnel.

R will do fine in an interview. He always nails it. He does have schizo-affective disorder, he is OCD and his future employment opportunities were definitely affected by his military sexual trauma. It’s been documented by two psychiatrists. One paid for by the VA, called a C&P exam and R was found to be whatever we claim him to be, hands down, no question. Then the attorney hired an independent psychiatrist to evaluate R for his claim. This doctor used to do C&P exams and his interview/assessment of R is quite extensive. He said the magic words we’ve been waiting for, the magic words in any claim against the Air Force for MST — “more likely than not” caused by the MST.

If you’re filing a claim for VA compensation, this is the phrase a doctor MUST write down for you. If you can’t get this verification, you will be denied. I think this is all going to come down rather quickly but it still surprises me that the website says the hearing is canceled.

My confusion, my angst, my difficulties lie in communication breakdowns. I’ve emailed 2 different attorney reps about this and hope to hear from them today. One of them an attorney named N, is usually very prompt in his replies. I could contact CP, the head of it all, but I’ll wait and see what her minions say first. She’s also very prompt in her replies.

F wants to go try his time-lapse photography again this afternoon. He’s recovering nicely from his heart procedure yesterday and needs to get out of the house. He’s not allowed to mow or lift anything over 5 lbs for two weeks. He has to be hyperaware of the places on his leg where the probes or whatever they were, were inserted. I know I can’t keep him in a chair all day, which is where he should be, but I can control his movements by driving him to the Estuarium pond where he wants to go to take photos.

We tried time-lapse photography last Sunday at Dinah’s Landing but he told me the photos turned out white, nothing works. He’s hot to try it again and thinks the sun will be a in good place around 4. I told him I’d take him. He was very happy with that. He says I’m an angel but really — in reality — I’m just a good friend. I care a lot about him

I was really worried about him yesterday. His brother, B, was very worried and it was sort of an honor to be here for both of them. They have children but the sons are far away, 10 hour drives, so we can’t expect them to be here for F and B whenever something happens. B’s son drove all the way from Indiana to see F’s photography exhibit at the Arts Council. It was very dear of him. F also had a sweet couple fly in from IN for the opening night. She took wonderful photographs and compiled them in a book for F as a memory! It’s an awesome book. My photo is in there many times and I must say, my arms are really fat! ha ha. I have the typical body of a 63 year old woman. A bit round in the middle with okay legs and nice ankles. My neighbor has cankles, just horrid looking and she is very much aware of them. But she wears nice sandals, so it must not bother her. I’d wear boots, ha ha.

I have to remember to feed neighbor’s cat tonight. She feeds a cat left behind by previous homeowner across the street. It’s a strange situation. He’s been gone over a year and P (the neighbor) makes him buy the cat food. Funny. I’ve been to the store for her to buy it and she always pays me back, even though she buys bags that are less than $5 a piece. The cat, called mama kitty, won’t let you near her, but she comes up to the porch to eat twice a day.

P went to the beach, I’m sure. She and the beach cottage owner go every chance they get. I think it’s only a couple hours drive from here. She is very fortunate to have a friend with a beach house. J and O dream of owning one some day, something they can rent out and then have available for family whenever we want to go. Sounds like a great plan and I’m thinking way out side the box here, but maybe we can invest in the house with them. Be part owners. I’d love that. I think it might encourage them to make the purchase if we promised $10K towards it. Like I said, thinking outside the box.

Meanwhile, I have V to worry about. She’s in RI and has urinary tract problems, pees on herself all the time and needs pads for her incontinence. She posted a FB fund raiser and made around $120 but had no bank account to send it to, so I sent her our particulars so she could use our account. I realize how sketchy that is to do for someone but I’m not worried about her misusing the account. It’s not like she can check the balance online or anything. I spoke to C about it, obviously not to R (he’d have a fit and fall in it) and she agreed it was the right thing to do. Once the $$ is disbursed, I’ll transfer it to her PayPal account so she can spend it at Walmart online store. She is going to buy 90day supply of the pads, rather than her original thought of 30. I’m relieved she’s thinking in those terms.

She wants/dreams/hopes that we’ll help her when the money arrives. And I do plan on helping her out. It’s not that I can get her out of RI, despite her belief that she can live upstairs here, we just don’t have room and she can’t handle stairs, so how would she cook or anything? She’s not going to get to come here but I can make her stay in RI a more acceptable one by sending her $100 a month. I plan on doing that, I think R will be on board.

She’s been homeless, has lived in a half-way house, been abused and is generally all around fucked by life. V is a sweet woman to talk with every day and I cherish our friendship.

R is concerned by my incessant typing. I know he wonders what I’m writing about even though I told him I was scanning the VA documents and sending them to the attorney reps that I find I’ve talked with before now. Hopefully I’ll get an answer today. I leave for F’s photographic moment in about 2 hours, plenty of time to get a response.

I’m sure this whole June 13th thing has R in a tizzy. Have sent him to our room to lie down for a while. He’s shaking his leg, bouncing around, his eyes are bloodshot and swollen and he stayed up too late last night, as I detailed in a previous post.

I get messages from WordPress saying people read my posts. I doubt this. No one is reading this and on the off chance someone is, well, God bless you. If you’re reading, you’re learning about the good and bad of a 60-something woman who’s been a house wife her entire life. Now I live with R, have for over 20 years. Previously I was married to B who left me to return, ha ha, to his Mommy 22 years ago. We were married for over 22 years and had 2 girls. One is now 40, she’s J, and then there’s C who is 38. They are amazing women and impress me daily with their wit, wisdom and beauty.

For Mother’s Day, J and A (her spouse) gave us carte blanche on getting our washing machine fixed. The parts came in today and the repairman will be here tomorrow sometime between 1 and 5. I have my weekly therapist appointment tomorrow at 1-2. I have been in M’s care for over a year. She’s a good therapist, leads me gently toward the truth but never gives bad advice. She knows more about me than I know about myself. I figure, when the VA compensation and the IU comes through, I’ll lose Medicare and Medicaid and have to pay the $120 out of pocket to see her. We’ll find a way to afford it. I’ll probably have to buy health insurance until I’m 65 but we’ll find a way to afford that too. I’ll probably have to get a really shitty policy but then again, I only go to Dr. C twice a year for check ups and I’ve been to dentist lately and had 2 fillings.

So that’s me in a nutshell. I have a degree in history, graduate work in American history and I’m as liberal as the day is long. I receive SNAP benefits and without it, we would surely be in sad shape. I also have Medicare and Medicaid. I have been on disability since 2002 because of my arthritis, had spinal fusion surgery in 1988 and am also considered bi-polar but I haven’t been manic in over 10 years, although I do suffer from depression and take meds for it. I see a psychiatrist every 3-4 months, just to get my meds, but M is my therapist and does more good than the meds, well … maybe not. I was severely depressed and the meds have to have had something to do with my not feeling so hopeless.

It’s easy to succumb to depression. I totally get how deep one can go, how low. Living on this tiny income with the threat of impending homelessness hanging over our heads — our mortgagee has agreed to take a half-mortgage payment until we get our benefits, then we will play catch up and maybe be able to pay for the house in full. We owe less than $30K on it.

That’s my brain dump for now. That’s two dumps in one day. No one is reading this but I feel better for having said it all.

And E did fair to middling on his Food Network interview yesterday. Apparently they now take video excerpts and submit them to the Network for the final choices … he’s up against hundreds of other kids.

R’s Long Day’s Journey into Night

no paragraph breaks are showing up in this, sorry about that. Read on and try to imagine that I break when necessary, creating a lot of white space in order to facilitate ease of reading. See for more examples. I really put in the paragraph breaks in the literary journal.
R was suddenly manic last night, talked on phone to his mom, aunt and brother for over 4 hours, from around 8 until midnight. Very strange — then I remembered how medical emergencies trigger something in him and realized Fred’s surgery must have really disconnected him — especially my going to hospital to sit with him and then bring him home.
He seems hung over today, like he expended all his energy in those phone calls. His mom’s advice last night was apparently a half an hour of telling him not to let me spend the money we receive from the settlements. AS IF!! I get completely control. R doesn’t have a clue as to how to pay bills, let alone what we need to pay off, to pay monthly, what needs to be repaired on the house … she’s just worried 1) cuz she’s a bitch and 2) she thinks I won’t give her any money. I’m fully aware that we owe her money and I intend to pay it off, slowly — for sure — but I will pay it off.
What a bitch, I mean … really. I am going to enjoy watching her face when we get the siding replaced on the corners of the house, a 100 year old building needs repairs — so yes, I’ll have to pay for that. Geezus. We can spend the money any way we like, we can help V, we can help C … we can put it all in a can and bury it in the back yard, ain’t none of her business and believe me, I won’t be having any conversations with her about how much we receive or how much we have monthly. She can rot in her own personal hell (which she already does). It upset R that she said that, he told her I was the reason he was alive, that I was the reason we were not homeless, that living on $700 a month plus food stamps has been a challenge I’ve met head on and he’s never going to NOT be grateful for all I’ve done.
So there! but still, his being able to repeat the conversation shows how much it affected him. He rarely remembers even when a person calls … so his remembering a complete conversation is so rare and so significant. She’s wicked bad, it’s none of her business how we spend the money. Nor is it any of her business the amount of money we receive. We owe her a piddling amount for a second mortgage she loaned us, about 6 or 7 years ago.
With that money we had the back porch repair (new stairs built), had the house raised, yes we did, had it leveled and raised with cement blocks, a long and difficult couple of days for the repair/man, and we paid off several loans we’d received. I think we splurged and bought shoes, things we hadn’t bought in literally years. I bought my shoes at SAMS, so you can imagine how inexpensive they were.
J bought us a window unit A/C last May and for that we are forever grateful. It cost less than $200 and she put it on her Lowe’s credit card, we’ll pay her back for that. Jbrother owes her so much more than we could ever even conceive of owing, but that payback whine, that plan, will never be paid back, if that sentence makes sense (maybe I need more coffee). What I mean is, there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that Jbrother will ever pay her back one penny of what he owes her and he continues to add to his debt, he doesn’t even pay rent for the house she owns that he lives in. She depended upon his paying rent for her monthly how to-survive budget. Guess she screwed herself. J tries to keep her business going but since she never answers her phone and doesn’t return phone calls, I don’t see a whole lot of success coming her way (financially).
She’s been rudderless ever since B died. Despite the fact that he was an abusive tyrant, she misses his friendship. He wanted to marry her, as did A, but she said it was too much trouble. The facts are: both men had little financial wealth so there was no benefit for her, financially, to marry either of them, no matter how much affection or “love” she felt for them. I found both of them intolerable. Couldn’t stand to be in their company. One the blustery abusive arrogant fool and the other a complete utter bigot, lost in the Old South and dreams of Confederate glory.
R is chain-smoking again. He found enough change to buy a pack last night and walked the 3 blocks to the store to get a pack. Surprised me. He said he was afraid I’d be mad at him for doing that. I assured him that wasn’t the case BUT he smoked THE ENTIRE PACK last night while talking on the phone to J, Jbrother, and his aunt W. All of them told him not to let me have any  money when the settlement comes through. How dare they?
I refuse to let their mean-spirited conversation get to me, although I know it’s rattled R. I can’t get into his head but I can try to direct his thoughts, his self-esteem images … I think another MST workshop starts in June and I  truly hope he’s right when he says that. He did really well with the last 8 week session, it helped him with “trust issues” he said and he hoped future sessions would deal with like subjects. I think having to be somewhere, one day a week, helped him too. The workshop/sessions made him feel as if he was doing something to help himself. And he was. I sit at the VA cafeteria/Starbucks for two hours while he’s in his sessions. Yes, I do that for him, sit for 2 hours once a week so he can get some emotional/personal support from the VA. The fact that he was asked to be in a MST-workshop shows the Air Force admits culpability for his behaviors, at least that’s what Melanie said. The last IME doctor said R is suffering from “all of the above” and it is more likely than not the fault of the Air Force assault. These are magical words.
The C&P examiner, paid for by the VA, said R was not, definitely NOT, a malingerer. I had to look the word up so I could understand the importance of its use in the R context and it shook me to the core to think R could be considered that. Made me so grateful that he was not considered a malingerer, never thought he was, but to have that determination in the hands of a stranger, well, quite humbling. I realize how mentally ill R is, but wonder who else notices. Apparently anyone who’s a professional can tell. This is quite gratifying. I’m not alone in this.
R has been hospitalized for a suicide attempt last September.
Now I remember what I was going to blog about today. About death and loss. I certainly did not even venture into that territory with today’s discussion. Guess my thoughts were pre-empted by J’s mean-spirited discussion of how I should not control the distribution of funds. Here’s what we’re waiting for: Social Security Disability (hearing Aug 28), VA compensation for the rape that occurred while R was in Air Force back in 1989, Individual Unemployability (IU) from VA for R’s current jobless state.
Bob asked me, last night on the way to Greenville to pick up F from his heart procedure, what R does all day. I was hard-pressed to find a way to explain it. He (R) watches videos, talks to me incessantly about the content of the videos, studies philosophy, studies the idea of philosophy and religion, smokes, discusses whether or not aliens are present or were present in the history of mankind.
J just called R and she’s full of herself, I can hear her talking, his phone’s volume must be set really high. Whatever she wants, it’s not good, his voice is changing, he’s telling her “it’s all good” so she must be reeling from last night’s conversation — now he’s talking about what he said to Jbrother, he’s now telling J that he won’t let Jbrother know about the amount we receive because he’s afraid Jbrother will WANT us to buy things for him, which — with me in charge of the money — won’t ever happen. I’m not throwing good money after bad.
J is totally intrusive about her questioning. She wants to know amounts, wants to know how much money he’s getting — questions him about what I’m doing. She needs to back the fuck off or I’ll get onto her about making R nervous. R is singing my praises, about how I handle all the VA/SS paperwork and I’m genius at it. I keep him up to date as well I can but he gets anxious about it (so did I until I realized ONE of US has to stay sane through this).
I think J is counting her chickens before they hatch. We will not give her money if it means we can’t do the things we plan on. Mostly it’s fixing up the house. I figure it’ll cost around $20K to do the exterior of the house, replacing boards, repairing (possibly replacing) windows and we’l have to go through the historic district commission and get approval for it all. It’ll be a long process and I’m ready for it. R will be anxious and nervous, affected by it all but I’ll keep him on track.
R cannot hammer a nail in place. He’s got no aptitude for repairs of any kind. It’s sort of humorous. That’s why he needs to stand back and let the folks we hire fix the house. He says he wants to learn about how to do repairs but I think it’s a moot request. I can’t see him helping or learning.
R wants to take a small engine repair class at the Community College. Now that I can see. Sounds like a really good plan. He can then not be afraid of the lawn mower, know the schematics behind a 2-stroke engine (I assume) and feel more in control. I think most of R’s inability to truly function comes from fear he’s going to mess something up and not be able to either repair it or pay for a new one. Once we have money and he’s secure in that we have replacement funding, maybe he’ll become more aggressive in what he needs to accomplish.
He’s so smart. He’ll find his path. I’ll help… maybe go back to college, ECU via the community college first, and then knowledge, the pursuit of it, will be his daily grind. I’d love that. I’d love to go to graduate school.
We have to get R’s driver’s license re-instated, if possible. We’ll hire an attorney and see what happens next with that. I am truly afraid he won’t get it back but I don’t tell him that. The state of NC can take away your driver’s license if you’re deemed “mentally ill” and that’s really crazy. I mean, I’m supposedly bi-polar, which puts me in jeopardy. What a fear based ridiculous law. R’s license was taken away when he had the fender bender with his long gone Harley. Now there’s a hell of a  story, not to be told at this time.
Time to sign off. That’s enough of a brain dump for today. I’m mentally exhausted after typing all of that but I took a Provigil this morning so I’m thinking very clearly, thoughts are succinct and seemingly easy to access.
Take of yourself, Id. I’ll be thinking about you today.