Vote early and vote often

I am a bleeding heart liberal and proud of it.  I don’t say that so you will try to change my mind or agree with me.  I can’t change the fact that I’m left-handed and I won’t likely change my opinion over the issues that are important to me.

Since I’ve known him, Bob hasn’t had a voter ID; he has, however, espoused political opinions that make my hair stand on end and cause hives to appear.  I think he got tired of my saying, “If you feel that way, you should vote.”  His answer to that was “It doesn’t make any difference anyway.”  And my answer to that was “Well, you’ll never know because you don’t vote.”

This year Bob registered to vote.

Dang it.  I can’t slide on my voting rights.  My vote is necessary to cancel Bob’s.  For Texas registered voters, early voting starts today.  If you don’t know where to early vote in Texas, the state has a website that lists most Texas counties:  http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/links.shtml#County

San Patricio County isn’t listed so, Bob, here’s the list of Early Polling Sites near us–http://tools.cira.state.tx.us/users/0137/docs/Elections/Nov.%204,%202014%20EARLY%20VOTING%20LOCATIONS.pdf.

10155051_287206601475205_8886555406390966401_nI’ll race you to the polls.

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Things I do for fun

My definition of fun has changed over the years.

There was a time when it involved Strawberry Hill and psilocybin.  I am too old to use ‘shrooms to describe cow patty mushrooms found off South Texas country roads.  Later, fun involved anything with country music and beer.  Lots of beer.  Or wine.

It’s been many years when “just add alcohol” were the directions necessary to change regular Margaret into party Margaret.  Today, family and friends are usually involved and the memories are in clear focus.

Part of our walking team on Sunday's Walk to End Alzheimer's

Part of our walking team on Sunday’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s

I spent last week-end participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  We couldn’t have had better weather.  Even the misty rain that fell for 5-10 minutes didn’t dampen our spirits; it cooled us off instead.  I had time to visit with my sisters and when asked, “What’s new?” reported that I’d enrolled in the H & R Block tax course.  And that it was fun.

“Fun?” my younger sister asked.  (Fun.  Really, really fun.)  

I am truly enjoying my class.  I have been doing the same kind of work that I do for 30 years.  It’s rare for me to meet someone new who has lived in the south Texas area and worked in civil construction.   I’ve known most folks for many years.  It isn’t that large of a community.

So maybe it’s the chance to do something new and meet different folks.  There’s a mix of people in our class.  We started out with 15 students and have 7 survivors as we pass the halfway mark of class time.  Our instructor predicted that we would become friends by the end of class and I thought, “I don’t think so.”  The truth?  I look forward to seeing everybody in the class.

My companion on most days recently

My companion on most days recently

It might be the fact that accounting work has a beginning and an end and everything comes into balance.  With estimating there’s a certain amount of guess-work.  Who am I kidding?  There’s a reason why we call it “guestimation.”  Those tax returns aren’t like that.   In fact, I understand that the IRS frowns on guessing on tax returns.  They taught that on the 1st night.

It doesn’t hurt that Bob and I started a business this year.  RM Weaponry provides an outlet for Bob to sell the rifles he makes and perhaps provide us with a side income when we retire in a few years.  I am getting some good information about self employment and what we can and can’t write off.

RM Weaponry is a partnership which would normally require us to file a Form 1065 (U. S. Return of Partnership Income).   I learned last week that since Bob and I married and live in a community property state, we can file as a sole proprietorship and just add our income or loss to our standard income tax form.  The two of us count as 1 entity.

Interesting.  When we married, Bob and I became 1 in the eyes of God AND the IRS.

 

Posted in Family, H & R Block, Humor, Relationships, Sober Life, Texas, volunteerism | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Find rest, my friend

And when you wake up,
Everything is going to be fine.
I guarantee that you’ll wake up in a better place, a better time.  Tomas Kainoky
 

But that’s not what happened.  My friend woke up, got dressed, walked into his bedroom closet, and shot himself.  Everything people say about losing someone to suicide is true.  There’s no end to the “should have’s” and “if only’s.”

On Monday, I texted him, called him, and checked in at his office.  (Oh, he called in sick this morning.  Can someone else help you?)  I felt uneasy.  He’d told me at lunch last week that he wanted to die.  (Really?) (No, but I feel nearly as bad as I felt when I first got sober.  Why would God make me go through this?)

I met him about a hundred years ago and worked for him for 7 years before the company he and his partner owned went belly up.  The 4 months of shutting down were concurrent with his first 4 months of sobriety.  We had mini-AA meetings, said the Serenity Prayer together, and took care of the legal business of closing the company.  Daily, he remarked how God was giving him the strength to keep going, how he couldn’t believe the miracle of walking through this trouble and staying sober.

I moved on to another job and my friend went home for a few months.  He started back to work for a small construction company just before Christmas that year.  (I can’t believe I’m working for someone else.  I thought I’d always be the company owner.)

It took awhile to adjust, but he did, bringing his calm and steady ways into the new job.  I was a little jealous of his new staff.  My friend was such an easy boss, conscientious about making sure that everything went out correctly but never micro-managing or critical.  After a few years, though, the company began to struggle.  Bills were late paid, creditors filed liens, co-workers left to take other jobs.  (I can’t go through this again.)

“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.”  Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story
 

After my 4th or 5th call, I went to my friend’s house.  I saw his truck parked in the driveway, the garage door open.  I knocked, rang the doorbell, and called, letting the phone ring until it rolled over to voice mail.  I tried the doors.  Locked.  I roused his dogs but not him. (Fine.  I will leave you alone if that’s what you want.  Call when you want company.)

An hour later, I got the call that he’d been found dead.

I cannot reconcile the thought of his goofy smile and gentle ways with the black desolation that poisoned his thoughts and brought him to the place where ending his life was better than going on.  I am sad for all of us who couldn’t somehow snatch his life from the edge.  There’s a chasm in our lives that was occupied by him.  Our love wasn’t enough to shield him from his anguish.

Grieving, like being blind, is a strange business; you have to learn how to do it. We seek company in mourning, but after the early bursts of tears, after the praises have been spoken, and the good days remembered, and the lament cried, and the grave closed, there is no company in grief. It is a burden borne alone.”   Ursula K. LeGuin, Gifts 
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My Happy Birthday Walk

happy birthdayI wish I were the kind of selfless person who says their birthday’s just another day.  I am not.

I love my birthday!  Our mother woke us on our birthday morning with the story of her trip to the hospital and first view of us in the delivery room.  As kids, she told us the tale at the breakfast table; as adults, we got an early morning phone call.  We got to pick our birthday dinner, whatever we wanted. We weren’t epicures so Mother wasn’t challenged beyond tacos or fried chicken.

Birthday gifts usually included a new Sunday dress that Mother made while we were at school so it was a “surprise.”  I usually got drawing paper and sometimes a box of charcoal.  That’s not the birthday equivalent of lumps of coal.  We used charcoal sticks in Mrs. Triplett’s art class.

I’ve enjoyed 61 “Happy Birthdays.”  Maybe, enjoyed them all is an exaggeration. Some stand gloriously out in my memory.  One that is inglorious is my 40th birthday.  It was the last landmark birthday before I got sober and my alcoholic selfishness made my family an exhausted wreck by the end of the day.  Talk about a season of our discontent; that day was the beginning of the end and I didn’t even know it.  Thank God for my inability to see the future.

We will really be "match-matchy."

We will really be “match-matchy.”

This birthday we will spend the week-end  at GE’s house.  We are participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease in Austin on Sunday.   Dave’s Girls is a reality and we are walking together in memory of our dad who was released from this disease to go home finally on May 8, 1986.

That means all three of us sisters with our children.  Everyone except Georgie the 1st’s Aley in Virginia who will be walking in spirit.  Getting together like this is unusual for us.  We are busy and independent women with busy and independent daughters so the idea of having us all together is crazy exciting.

Can’t resist getting in a donation plug so if you want to support Dave’s Girls in body, come to Camp Mabry in Austin to walk with us.

If you want to support Dave’s Girls and Alzheimer’s Association with $$$, click http://act.alz.org/site/TR/Walk2014/TX-CapitalofTexas?team_id=224169&pg=team&fr_id=5433 and donate away!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Aging, Family, nostalgia, Sisters, Sober Life, Texas, volunteerism | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Middle Child Day…it isn’t much but it’s what we’ll have to settle for

Middle childLast week I got an email from the Corpus Christi Hooks announcing that August 12 is Middle Child Day and that they were discounting tickets to the game by $1.  It’s probably not enough to compensate for the pain suffered by those of us caught in the middle.

I heard about Middle Child Day last year on August 14.  Of course, nobody had publicized it so nobody acknowledged it.  Nothing new about that.  Why would anyone care?  We middles aren’t as clever and poised as our older sibling or as cute and funny as our younger one.  We’re just there. The schwa of the family.

That’s me with the curly blonde hair wearing my older sister’s dress that Mother shortened and widened for me.

If you ask my older sister, she will say that I had it easy coming after her.  Our parents had waited years before her arrival.  Years of accumulated expectations cascaded on her from birth.  By the time I came along:   meh.  I got side notes in my older sister’s baby book.  The parents didn’t even use a different colored ink.

When my younger sister was born, my older sister got me instead of a Chatty Cathy doll.  She was not amused.

There are charts and books written about birth order and how it affects us.  If you ask either end of our sibling triad, they think their lot in life is worse.  But that’s just like them.  Grabbing all the credit.

Giant Eyeore sigh.

353b3826dfa17ecda92670bf28449bf0The truth is that I wouldn’t trade my place in the birth order if I could.  I am in the middle of 3 sisters so I’ve been blessed with relationships with both of them.  My older sister is incredibly smart and defied every rule.  Openly.  She made it easy for me to break all the rules under the radar.  She was a high achiever so our parents had already gotten the recognition they deserved for great parenting.  When I came along, they certainly weren’t looking for lightning to strike twice in the same uterus.

Were they disappointed?  Possibly.  That’s why we middles are flexible, secretive, easy-going, and generous.  If we can’t con our way into your heart, we buy our way in. Best of all, there were few barriers for me.  If my older sister got to do it, I did too.  I know because, being the family schwa, I am a great observer.   Life might be unfair, but I have scapegoats on either side of me to shift the blame to.  keep-calm-deal-with-your-middle-child-syndrome

 

 

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Walk to End Alzheimer’s 2014

Origin of the term Alzheimer's disease dates back to 1906 when Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German physician, presented a case history before a medical meeting of a 51-year-old woman who suffered from a rare brain disorder. A brain autopsy identified the plaques and tangles that today characterize Alzheimer's disease. (WW II Dave)

Origin of the term Alzheimer’s disease dates back to 1906 when Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German physician, presented a case history before a medical meeting of a 51-year-old woman who suffered from a rare brain disorder. A brain autopsy identified the plaques and tangles that today characterize Alzheimer’s disease. (WW II Dave)

We have two good parents who were about as opposite as you can get.  They were older when we were born;  Daddy was in his 40’s when they had my older sister and almost 50 when my younger sister was born.  Both of our parents were smart and treasured education with great expectations for our academic careers.

Mother was precise and viewed us with a critical eye.  If she praised us, we’d done something remarkable. Our dad, on the other hand, thought that we three girls were the most amazing creatures that had ever drawn a breath of life.  Mother said things like, “If you have 2 good friends in your life, you are lucky.”  Daddy thought everyone was his friend.

When they retired, they moved up to the wilds of Montell, Texas.  It wasn’t long before Mother started complaining about Daddy being confused and forgetful.  In my arrogance, I thought Mother was just being Mother.  Nothing else to distract her and scrupulous to a fault, she had become hyper focused on Daddy.  I would listen patiently to her and think, “She just needs to complain.”  It was after she had a breakdown and I temporarily took over care of our dad that we realized things had to change.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain's nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes.  (Principal Dave)

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes. (Principal Dave)

In the early 80’s, Alzheimer’s disease wasn’t as well-known as it is today.  That was Daddy’s diagnosis along with its terrible prognosis.   We grieved as he descended deeper into the sickness.  Nearly 30 years ago, on May 8, 1986, death freed him  from the disease’s bondage.

It took me years to stopping wincing when I thought about him.  I blamed him for getting sick, for passing that legacy to us.  Daddy’s few years of sickness overshadowed a lifetime of his humor and patience, kindness and compassion.

It was when I put his name on a resentment list as I worked the 12 steps that I realized it wasn’t him I resented.  It was that dang disease.  Over the years, I’ve contributed to the Alzheimer’s Association and intended to, one of these days, participate in a Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraising event. My intentions are always good; my follow through isn’t.

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Team Dave’s Girls (missing Alizon!)

This year I decided to participate.  I checked dates for walks in south Texas and found one in Austin on my birthday, October 12.  It’s a 70% chance that I’ll be with GE in Austin anyway on my b’day. I text-invited my sisters, nieces, and daughter to join me.

After I got a few “I’ll walk with you,”  I registered our team:  Dave’s Girls.  I started sending out “formal” invitations yesterday and got our first team member, my older sister.

It isn’t a long walk, only 2 miles, but I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our dad than with his girls being together.

To donate to our team, go to http://act.alz.org/site/TR/Walk2014/TX-CapitalofTexas?px=5535143&pg=personal&fr_id=5433

10450927_10152306397074355_3046813850674158380_n

The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are still unknown. Current research indicates that Alzheimer’s disease may be triggered by a multitude of factors, including age, genetic makeup, oxidative damage to neurons from the overproduction of toxic free radicals, serious head injuries, brain inflammation, and environmental factors.

 

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Days for Girls

The title makes me think about spring days playing with my daughter and granddaughter at the park.  It does not remind me of “the curse” or “that time of the month” or “periyuks.”  Menstrual periods.

Poster at Las Colchas quilt store

Poster at Las Colchas quilt store

I had a chance to hang out at Las Colchas quilt store in San Antonio last week.  While I waited for a turn at the material cutting table, I saw a sign:  “Days for Girls:  What if not having access to feminine supplies kept you isolated during menstruation every month?”

I thought it was a joke at first.  Some kind of silly PMS humor. In my mind, EVERYONE has sanitary napkins and tampons.  I googled http://www.daysforgirls.org, the website shown on the poster.  What I found is that every female does not have access to clean feminine supplies.

The “Days” in the title refers to days lost from school or work, days spent in isolation by women and girls in more than 60 countries across 6 continents.  Women in these countries lose income, education, and dignity, unable to leave home and forced to use whatever they can find to stay somewhat clean.  According to their website: It turns out this issue is a surprising but instrumental key to social change for women all over the world. The poverty cycle can be broken when girls stay in school.”

 Girls who have sanitary hygiene are​ more confident in school and more ​likely to graduate.​​     For every year of education a girl receives, her future income increases.     ​When a girl has 7 or more years of education, she marries 4 years later and pass on her knowledge and strength.​​     She will speak up for herself & others​ and contribute to her community.

Girls who have sanitary hygiene are​ more confident in school and more ​likely to graduate.​​ When a girl has 7 or more years of education, she marries 4 years later and can pass on her knowledge and strength.​​

Days for Girls was founded in 2008 when a woman working with Kenyan orphanages asked the assistant director of an orphanage what the girls did about feminine hygiene.  The answer was: “Nothing. They wait in their rooms.”

 The conditions were cramped, unsanitary, and would leave girls without food and water for days unless someone brought it to them.  This sparked awareness of how vulnerable millions of women and girls are every month simply because of this basic biological function. These women and girls suffer in silence, due to cultural ideas and taboos surrounding this issue.

The Days for Girls organization proposes to provide sustainable feminine hygiene kits to these women and girls by partnering with nonprofits, groups, and organizations. Las Colchas, the quilt store we visited in San Antonio, has a once a week meeting with local sewists to make these kits.  A kit consists of a drawstring bag which holds soft flannel tri-fold pads, PUL liners, travel sized soap, a wash cloth, and Ziploc bag.

thankyouIt is humbling  to think that scraps of materials can provide independence and that these kits are so valued that girls use them for up to 3 years.  Three years gains 180 days of education, health, safety, and dignity for these women.  It is definitely worth a few hours visiting and sewing with friends to assemble something so simple that has such an impact.

 

 

 

 

 

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