Monday, September 11, 2017

Patriots Day

I don't know when this anniversary became Patriots Day but it did and is, apparently.  Guess I'm behind but it's super appropriate.

I trekked to Reno on Saturday morning - enjoyed a free play lollapalooza - I had a great time at Atlantis on Saturday evening, turning my free play into some winnings.  Spent time with a local and he gave me some pointers on playing Keno - he plays Keno most often and wins 'a lot'.  He was at a slot machine as something 'new' and I watched him turn $300 into $1200 - it was a nice evening.  He works a state job and plays 'a lot' but does well enough on Keno to keep playing.

I didn't come home a big winner and I did come home with less than I took up (so I put my winnings back and then some) but it was a nice weekend.  I took the back roads home to stop in Jackson - since I had free play there as well - and broke my rule of 'take care of yourself'.  I planned to stop to get something to eat in Minden - but Minden was gone in the blink of an eye - I thought I'd make a right into a shopping center where I saw a Starbucks but there was no right.  I would have had to know 1,000 feet BEFORE the Starbucks to turn in THERE because there was no other entrance.  And then I was on a highway with no way to turn around.  2.5 hours later, I was in Jackson - dehydrated and hungry.  With a headache.   The drive was beautiful - passed so many lakes!  It was a nice drive but still - got behind a guy pulling a trailer and he refused to use a turn out.  We were finally able to pass him when there was a passing lane (after many miles of following him, passing turn out after turn out).  The guy in front of me flipped him off as we (finally) passed.

The play went quickly so I bought a pre-made ham sandwich (disappointing as most pre-made sandwiches in a deli case are), a cookie and an iced tea.  Ate the meat and a bit of cheese from the sandwich, every morsel of the cookie and then hit the road.  1.5 hours later, I was home.

The headache didn't abate - and I ended up dragging myself downstairs at 5:45 this morning to report myself out today sick.  Went back to sleep until close to 9.  Feel so-so - still headachy and like a migraine hangover...but I will make it tomorrow - have to, because there's a Board meeting tomorrow and Cabinet all morning.

Enjoying the quiet of a day sitting with my best beloved listening to tunes on his iTunes account.  He just left to pick up R.'s kids at school because her car won't start and she has to pick them up at 1:30 today.  He will drive them home to Manteca and hopefully assist in getting her car started.

It's always something.

I have an appointment in Hayward on Saturday morning and then am trekking to Thunder Valley on Sunday to pick up a(nother) cruise offer.  We can't get enough of the cruise offers and they save us a ton of $ so it's worth the drive.  Then back to Jackson via (new) back roads for more free play there.

Sometimes my hobby feels like a job.  But it's a nice (problem) hobby to have.  The pretty drives, feeling blessed in my life - losing isn't fun, by any means but how blessed am I to be able to just have fun like that?

After this months trips, though, I will be saving up for our cruise in March - won't go to Reno much at all once winter weather hits so it will be easier to save up.

On Wednesday, J. is taking the Mariner to Modesto Ford - wrench light happened again last weekend (I drove the Camry to Reno this weekend) so we're taking it in for a 2nd opinion.  It was 108 that day and super duper hot - and I wasn't exactly going the speed limit - so maybe it just overheated 'on the natural'.  But I worry about driving long distances 'cuz I don't want to have issues on a mountain, curvy road with limited phone reception.

As always on this day, I think about where I was when the incidents of 9/11 started sixteen years ago. Remembering being home with J. (after arriving at work and realizing our country was being attacked - glad they let us go home) and watching the towers fall on the news.  Shortly after I said 'do you think they will fall?'.  And they did.

I will never forget.

Friday, September 01, 2017

A Forever Tragedy

A board member lost his son last weekend.  The funeral was today.  I told my boss that I wasn't planning on going (on Monday when he told me).  But all week, I wrestled back and forth in my head.  Yesterday, I emailed my boss to say 'I'm going back and forth and I think my mind is trying to tell me I should go'.  He wrote back and said 'I'm glad you're going and those tugs are usually right'.

So today, we sat in a church with so many young people saying goodbye to someone they grew up with - and all those young people's parents, many in attendance, sat there thinking 'how does this happen?  What if that were my child?'.  This young man was born the same year as B. and he went to the same high school as both B. & H. .  I felt choked up the minute we walked into the sanctuary.

Shocked doesn't begin to describe the family and friends there today.  There was no indication this young man was having any kind of issues that would lead him to make a choice that would end his life.  Just an instant...a moment....and a decision made that his family and friends will never recover from in many ways, though they'll do their best.

By all accounts, this young man dropped everything to be there for his friends and if he'd reached out that day, he would have surely found support.  But he didn't.  He didn't realize what he was thinking was about to become reality and he didn't think it would get better.  Ever.

We tell our students 'suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem'.  Moments that are devastating happen.  Sometimes everyday.  Sometimes once in a while.  We've all had moments when something felt so horrible, we can't imagine surviving another minute.  But we do.  Things get better. The pain you have on your heart right this second will feel different tomorrow.  Or maybe even in an hour.  Things get clearer after they're hazy -

But so often, a person in pain doesn't think that through and makes a decision to do something....and that is irrevocable.

The pastor talked about the parents hoping that there is a purpose out there for what happened.  My small purpose realization is that I miss having a church home and perhaps the church I attended today is a place to consider.  So one person brought closer to God than they have been in a long time - that's one purpose.  I know this family and I have no doubt they will do greater things from this tragedy. I'm sure of it - because their son is lost and they are stunned and in disbelief and I think they want to encourage people to reach out.

We see it on Facebook all the time these days - someone is always listening.  We just have to get the person in pain to pick up the phone and reach out.  Or send a message.  Or a text.  Or speak face to face.

It's been a long, hard week.   It's super hot here and we're ordering Indian takeout.  We have a Hello Fresh ready to go but it's just too darn hot to cook and it's been the longest damn week in recent memory.  So glad it's a 3-day weekend and I have no set plans.  Not a one.

God Bless the J. family - so sorry for their loss.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Not Exactly as Planned

J. had a ticket to see Tom Petty on Friday evening in downtown Sacramento.  He purchased the ticket in June and I immediately made a reservation at Thunder Valley for us to spend the night up there.  I had to pay for one night's stay and then hope/pray they would allow it to be comped - waiting for the August 'offers' to be cycled - and yes, it was eventually comped.

I left work around 1PM on Friday and we were ready to pull out of the driveway at 2PM - pausing in the car to (finally!) sync my phone to J.'s car so I/we could listen to my tunes as well as his on the way up.  The 1.5 hour drive took 2.5 hours with the usual Friday traffic.  Thank goodness we left early because I can't imagine how bad it would have been if I'd left work at 2 or 3.

We checked in and got to our room - I hears J.'s cell phone ring.  He exited the bathroom and I commented 'we'd better go get dinner before you need to leave' and he replied 'we can get dinner anytime you want'.  Cryptic.  It bugs me when he does this....but he finally said 'the show's been cancelled - I just got a call and a text'.

And it turns out he received an email at 2:01PM notifying him of the cancellation - when we were syncing my phone.  If we'd received the email, I would have still headed up - because cancelling a comped room less than 24 hours in advance results in a full charge of the room - $550 on a Friday night - but we didn't.

It worked out fine - we had a nice dinner and J. enjoyed time with his politics and a 75" flat screen TV while I played a bit.  And him not being at the concert kept me playing 'lightly' - so I didn't lose every dime I had - even though he said 'go do whatever you want', I still felt like I should be back in the room with him.

He had told our kennel lady we planned to pick up Chloe around 3PM on Saturday and she said nothing at that time - and we received a text on Saturday afternoon confirming her pick up time for Saturday was 8AM to 11AM ONLY - thus requiring me to get up pretty much like it was a work day so we could get to Ripon in time.  That was also probably a really good thing because I had little time to play the next morning.  I am irritated at her but we just cancelled a two week stay ($300+ out of her pocket) so she's likely irritated with us, too.  Glad we have a backup in Livermore -

Chloe was picked up, came home and slept for four hours.  She was exhausted!  I actually also took a nap - as I drifted off, I said 'I'll just close my eyes for a few minutes'.  THREE HOURS LATER, I woke up - and was worried I wouldn't sleep at all last night, but I slept great.  I think I needed a catch-up sleep myself!

We're spent a leisurely Sunday watching The Paper Chase and Star Trek: Saving Spock.  I've been doing a little bit of tidying around the desk area.  We are awaiting confirmation from 'the kids' of our plans to remove a bunch of stuff from our garage and get it to their apartment.  We figure with three cars to do the transport, we can make good progress....but as usual, getting any kind of confirmed anything from the two of them is next to impossible.  I'm not holding my breath.

I've made steady progress on year-end and feel in decent shape for the week ahead.  Still a lot to explain - but I've got time and can always put in a day over the Labor Day weekend if needed.

We're praying for all the people affected by the hurricane in Texas.  And for our country who is being managed by a despicable person who has no business being The President.  The divide in our country is appalling and shocking - I feel naive about so many things - witnessing so much hate lately.   I can't imagine that he will be in this role for his full term?  Because really?  How can we allow that to be?

Like a lot of people, I feel sad and disillusioned and powerless.  But I'm also getting more and more pissed off.  And so are a lot of other people.

We deserve better, America.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

First Puppacino

One of my greatest stressors lately - in a life that has plenty at the moment; work, H., etc. - has been that we planned a trip to Europe in October without confirming first with our kennel.  Unluckily, our kennel is closed the last few days of our trip.

If H. were able to drive and lived at home, it would be no big deal.  He'd go get her and bring her home and he'd dog sit for a few days.  We'd even pay him the same daily rate since she is a dog and by definition, not low maintenance.  She's also diabetic and has insulin injections a couple times a day so compensating him seems fair.

Except he doesn't live at home and he can't drive.  He would be at R.'s mercy and lately?  That's about as reliable as...I can't think of a metaphor but she's not reliable.  At all.  Ever.  The fretting and worrying about what we were going to do has been heavy on my mind lately.  H. has sworn he would be able to take care of it - and if I could rely on just factoring in him and him only, I think we could leave with relative confidence.  But he has no way to get to Ripon and back home that's guaranteed and I just can't risk it.  I don't want to create any stress for our kennel owner who is an amazing person and has been so kind to us.  She watched Chloe during H.'s entire hospital stay in 2014 and wouldn't take a dime from us for it.  She said 'from one cancer survivor to another'.  Bless her heart.

On the subject of blessings, I've got a couple super dear friends at work who said they would take care of Chloe - and one of those people is someone who hasn't always been someone I would consider a friend so that's really saying something.  But I really don't like to impose on people and that plan still involved them assisting in getting H. and the dog here - and I picture H. keeping them waiting at the apartment forever.

J. mentioned to his best friend R. (the guy we jokingly refer to as 'J.'s other wife' because they do things together all the time - the two of them are concert junkies and the wives are happy with that arrangement because they like to go to shows a lot and we'd rather not.  It's a win-win) that we had an issue with the timing of our kennel in October and he mentioned that they take their dog Patches to a home in Livermore.  Two vet techs.  They only take small dogs.  In home care - not a licensed kennel.
We took Chloe to Livermore for a meet and greet and she was a happy puppy.  There were three other dachshunds there this weekend and Chloe fit right in.  The couple are two older women and their home is tucked away right behind Livermore high school.  I think it's about an acre - plenty of land and room.  They've got everything double fenced and have chickens, a huge koi pond and foster feral kittens for adoption.  Really nice people and the lady D. said 'I know within the first 30 seconds if it's going to work out or not' and then 'Chloe is going to be very happy here'.  Whew!  I felt like I did the one time I tried to join a sorority - I didn't get in which was probably a blessing - but glad we 'passed' the meet and greet.

Chloe did her usual super whining the whole way there but was pretty calm on the way back - with a big smile on her face. We stopped at the Starbucks coming back in to Tracy and treated her to her first Puppacino - whip cream in a cup.

I think we're going to try to go for a drive more often.  It's late in her life for this but maybe we could get her more used to the car - she seemed super fine once she realized no needles would be involved. No pokes or sticks or anything else.  Just out with her family for an afternoon drive.

We're set for our vacation in October and I'm super relieved.  Haven't told H. yet - haven't seen him today but might later - and I know he might be disappointed but oh well.  I just can't risk it.

H. texted J. at 11:30PM last night asking if he had any money in his checking account or savings. Um...we have no idea because your account is no longer linked to ours....and by the way, you haven't had a savings account in forever.  Something was 'wrong' with R.'s account and they appeared to be 'stuck' somewhere.  J. went back to bed.

Small victories.  Love our son but we're moving past the constant drama.  There will be hard lessons for him to learn but oh well.  It's life.  Time to deal.  Choices and decisions have consequences.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hello, August!

I can't believe it is August 17th.  Holy crap...where does the time go?  I've had so many planned posts....and the days just whiz by.

August 1st was the 15th anniversary of my career change to education.  I started at Las Positas College on August 1st, 2002 - and haven't looked back since.  I've loved every minute - well, there've been some minutes that weren't so great - but I love working super hard for the benefit of kids vs. a corporate bottom line.

At our annual Welcome Back Breakfast, I received my 10 year service pin from my current district. It should really be my 10.5 year service pin since I started in January, 2007, but the process is to award pins each year at the breakfast.  Ten years.  Long time in any job.  A lifetime in my job.  The days blur together and I'm happy to be there but wow.  It feels like a long time in one job lately.

Drama has become the norm with H. - and we're working hard at trying to step off the constant cycle of feeling compelled to check in with him.  He frequently doesn't respond to us - and while he implies it's related to her controlling nature and having his phone, lately I wonder.  He was here one night this week - repeatedly said he was staying the night - and after I arranged to be off part of an afternoon to spend time with him and called J. to tell him I'd be home early - J. told me 'he's not here.  He left sometime in the night'.

I called H. the next morning from my office - me crying - not a great thing - and told him 'H., that decision - the decision to leave with her after you told me repeatedly you were going to be here the next day and I would see you - that was all you.  She had nothing to do with it.  It was you.  You decided to leave knowing that I was counting on you to be here - looking forward to seeing you the next day'.  He says nothing.  Wait...that's not true.  He was whispering on the phone (so she wouldn't hear) that 'we had a huge fight and I'll talk to you about it when I see you tomorrow - I'll be back tomorrow'.  It's tomorrow - and he's not here.  No contact today.

It's hard to be worried sick about him constantly...from so many perspectives....his emotional well being and his missed appointments which have left him (again) without a counselor.  A psychiatrist who is prescribing medications for him and insisting he go to counseling - and he is precarious about appointments with her, too.  His general health - his weight issues and stomach issues that are constant.  Hard to cope with all those worries while dealing with extremely limited contact with him because he's in a controlling relationship with someone who appears to believe that her control of him is what the relationship is supposed to be.

It's sad that she's alienated his parents 'cuz we might have been more supportive than any of her family - but we'll never know.

I happened to catch an episode of the show "Bull" .  The main character is a psychotherapist who works on jury selection.  The episode was about a relationship between a female teacher and a male student.  Bull ends up meeting up with the couple at a restaurant - very 'wrong' from a legal perspective - but he talks to the teacher.  He points out that she has no 'balcony people' - no people in her life that root for her; are her biggest fans; support her no matter what.  And that she was removing all the balcony people from her boyfriend's life - primarily his parents.  It is the same scenario playing out in our real life - a needy, insecure woman using her relationship with a younger, emotionally fragile young man to shore up her self esteem while she simultaneously shatters his relationships with his family and friends.  The boyfriend is heartbroken and Bull tells the 'boy'/man 'you wouldn't have been enough.  Her husband wasn't enough.  Her job wasn't enough.  There will never be anything that's enough for her'.

Real life moments happening in our family that are very similar.  I can't pretend that I am 'for' this relationship - I'm not.  I don't trust her.  I don't like her.  She's DONE things that have led to those feelings - specific things that she has neither apologized for nor taken any responsibility for - and whatever I've done as a parent that might be considered a fail (and there are plenty, I'm sure), I've never been a mom that can 'pretend' with my kids.  I am up front and honest and real 24/7.  If I'm pissed, you'll know it - and if you are the cause of me being pissed, you'll know that to.  And the easiest way to solve it is to make it right - own what you did, make amends and we'll all move on. She's not doing that - and she appears to be convincing H. that not having any thing to do with us is the best approach.

I am heartbroken one minute and fricking pissed the next.  Back and forth all day - it's exhausting. Absolutely exhausting.

I am afraid for H. a lot of the time - afraid of what his future will be if he stays in this relationship.   He isn't taking care of himself and she isn't making taking care of him a priority - she's got her two kids to worry about and all the logistics of being a 50% custody parent with custody changing every three to four days in two different towns. Her life is complex on it's own and I understand that she's got a lot of things to work through for herself....much less making sure a 24 year old gets to/from where he needs or wants to be.

I wish I could just chalk it up to transportation issues - I wish it was as simple as 'it will get better when he's able to drive again someday' - but I'm not sure that's true.  I don't think it will ever be 'better'.

Moving to Reno seems like a really good plan - and I am keeping my eyes open for possible jobs 'cuz maybe we could move sooner vs. later.

Monday, July 31, 2017


For months, there's been a super tall plant near the hose connection in the backyard.  It's at least 3 feet high and it's grown from a very small start.  We've been debating about it for weeks.  It's a weed. Maybe it's not.

J. was convinced it was a weed - he had me so convinced that last week, I tried to yank it out - but I couldn't budge it.  Added 'soak ground near weed and pull out' to my long list of things I should be doing when I'm on Facebook or other websites avoiding the list of all the things I should do.

Saturday, on one of the many trips outside with our dogirini, he sent me this.

This small space was between the shrub (on the left) and the compost bin - which was on the right until we removed it.  It was specifically selected for that space because it grows tall and narrow!

It's really super pretty and I'm so glad it didn't budge when I tried to yank it out of the ground.

Winter is Coming

Up early this morning and it's approaching 6AM and it's still super dark outside.  Winter is close. Hard enough to get up early on days when the sun is out - watching the sunrise is one of the best parts of an early morning.  But already, it's just dark.  

The sun will arrive shortly - guaranteed.

J. and I enjoyed a sublime, lazy weekend.  We didn't really do much and it was lovely.  We did do a lot of planning for London and he's busily sketching out our daily itinerary and trying to get the most value out of our London pass.  I'm realizing that there's no way to travel all that distance and not plan. Too many things to do and see and putting careful thought into how to structure our days is a part of taking a trip like that.  We're getting excited - a few months away but it will be here before we know it.  Planning for Paris will be in process soon as well. 

H. had planned to come over on Saturday but car troubles cancelled the visit.  He had planned to come over yesterday as well but that also didn't happen.  I fret about it but then I let it go 'cuz it is what it is - and the two of them are pretty much the definition of 'count on nothing and be pleasantly surprised'.  Guess R. is going to start looking for a new car 'cuz hers has had a lot of issues lately.  

We happen to have a car that we're prepping for sale but it's not nearly big enough for 2 adults and 2 teens.  Yep, we're selling the Focus.  We're going to proceed with getting the damage repaired from the last accident and then put her up for sale.  No point in keeping her because when H. can finally drive?  He won't be able to afford anything but liability coverage on whatever he drives.  And that won't be a fairly new, good condition sedan in our name. 

A house in our neighborhood sold for close to $600K - smaller than ours!  That's a very great thing and makes me wish we were ready to list.  I looked at the pics online and marveled at how tidy everything was - not a single thing on any counter in any room.  Holy crap, we are so far from that here.  I am overwhelmed with where to start - and once I've started, it's just so hard to literally toss stuff in the trash.  I have no idea how to begin decluttering 17 years of stuff - and two of the people who's stuff needs culling don't live here anymore.  

I've got time.  It's not happening tomorrow by any stretch of the imagination.  

I'm heading to Reno for one night this coming weekend - a player appreciation event with a free play offer that makes it worth driving up.  It may be the quickest turnaround ever - but it will be fun.  My last jaunt north for awhile as year-end is here and it's time to close the books on another fiscal year.

There's a little light outside and a jay is 'clucking' to her the day is officially beginning.  

Patriots Day

I don't know when this anniversary became Patriots Day but it did and is, apparently.  Guess I'm behind but it's super appropria...