Monday, September 24, 2012

Count Your Blessings

It was volunteer time today at a makeshift food giveaway. More people are showing up and the same or smaller donation is being divided into smaller portions.

On the plus side people are opening up about their needs. Met a man today who moved into a storage shed which he and friends furnished with others cast offs. He works 24 hours a week for about 7.45/hr and has a $40/week child support bill and no vehicle. Fortunately, he can walk to work and the weather here is better than trudging through a snowstorm.

I asked him if there was anything else he needed because we have things in our storage shed destined for a yard sale. He looked at me and said, "A friend or two would be nice."

He wasn't whining about his circumstances and doesn't look like he just came off a month long drunk in the gutter.

Another couple overheard us and they joined the conversation. A few minutes later they were inviting one another to sit by the campfire some night. One plays harmonica and one an old "gee-tar."

George came to the food give away with me just to meet a few people and get out of the house. He was quiet driving home and I asked, "what's on your mind."

He said, "I see now why you volunteer. I also see that we're better off then some and more like others."

When we arrived home he began pulling things out of the shed and said next week we'll just open our trunk and ask if anyone needs any of it.

Imagine, the poor helping the poor.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Making More Connections

The food "pantry" I volunteer at meets in a church parking lot. Over time I've made a few aquaintances and it's beginning to pay off.

Two weeks ago we stood around waiting for the food to arrive & talked of how we're getting by; what we've changed in our life and, if not native to Florida, how we wound up here.

One man is from France and spent his life here as a long haul trucker. Another man worked in the same business after leaving the Air Force. A couple were factory workers until that closed. One was a drug dealer until he got sober and found God.

The thing that struck me was how we all adapted. Everyone downsized and most said they wish they would have done it sooner. Many have created multiple streams of income, however meager they may be. Bartering is big and we're beginning to exchange phone numbers.

Last week I brought a few things from our pantry that we weren't using. This week I spread the word about a loveseat we're giving away. Today a woman's picking it up and hauling it all the way to Tampa for a family who just go into Section 8 housing and have two chairs and a mattress for a family of five! She lives here but travels to Tampa for a weekend job that pays well enough to make the drive worthwhile.

Another couple raises chickens so I'm saving egg cartons for them. Talking to him yesterday I discovered she needs some mending done. I bartered sewing for eggs.

The subject of Christmas came up and I said I don't participate in the traditional "shop 'til you drop" way. Just as the delivery was arriving we'd decided to do something for one another this Christmas. No firm plans yet but it was refreshing to see community building in action once again!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cougar Country

We've had a Florida cougar/puma/mountain lion in our back yard at the fence line, laying in the bushes for two nights now. Neighbors hounds are going crazy when it appears and both nights we've been woke up by a cat screech unlike anything we've ever heard.

As daylight glow first touches the branches, the big cat leaves.

George figures it's taking advantage of the animals that appear at our compost pile: coon, armadillo, skunk, moles, groundhogs, boars, etc.

Wish we owned a game camera because the show would be interesting.

In other news my Dad arrived in Bradenton in one piece but a bit confused as to why he was there. He didn't recognize his youngest nephew who was there to pick him up and, according to his 95-year-old sister, slept for 14 hours after his flight.

He called here the next morning to tell me about everything he's done in the past month that he would now spend 10 blissful days with his sister. I told him to have a great time. His sister got on the phone and asked when he was coming to our house. I said I hadn't been told he was coming to her house, let alone mine so it was up to him.

She turned to him and asked him when he'd be seeing me & he said, "I just talked to her."

Gotta love family.

Have a great weekend all!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Obstinance of the Elderly

I dearly love my 84-year-old father. Make no mistake.

But there are times...

Like now, when he is planning to step board a plane; make two changes and arrive in Bradenton, FL. unannounced at his 95-year-old sister's Sarasota home.

Sometime during the next 10 days he plans to travel 3-1/2 hours north and visit us.

His sister lives with her son, his wife and his 78-year-old mother-in-law - who can't speak English.

This behavior is not unusual for my father. However, he barely walks anymore, is steadily losing weight; is forgetful and getting ornery by the minute. No one in the family has been able to reason with him and he refuses all suggestions like someone driving him or flying with him. To top it off, his flight is full so no one can hop on at the last minute unless th.
ey want to chance standby and hope they continue to catch a standby flight the rest of the way with Dad.

Furthermore, he refuses to call me & say he's coming to Florida! I ask about it and he laughs & changes the subject.

Meanwhile, no one up north seems willing to stop him.

So, if you're the type to pray, please do for his safety and my sanity.

I have snacked all day, paced the floor, wrung my hands and fielded phone calls about this "crazy old man's trip."

Just when I thought I'd write a column about doing laundry in my wringer washer and making laundry soap, I get sidetracked by family drama.

Moving nearly 2,000 miles away didn't keep it from us.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Thoughts While Not Sleeping

I hit the hay each night hoping for sleep and a clear mind when I wake up.

So, is it any wonder, after recent rains have brought my old nemesis Arthur Itis to visit? I hate taking medicine because there's always a side effect, but when the pain gets to the point I'm nearly immobile and crotchety to boot, I curse those pills and down a few.

They haven't done their magic yet but the gray matter is still functioning. I think.

As I type this, random thoughts flutter by and once in awhile I catch the essence of one. For instance: How much of our pain is self inflicted?

In my case, if I were more active, I'd have less pain. The worse thing for Arthritis (and many ailments) is being sedentary. And if one is not constantly medicated (the first option for most people IMHO) then you wind up riding the pain roller coaster. Too tired because you're in pain; too much pain so you sit; move around to remain flexible and you start to feel better and overdo it!

Of course, some people love pain! You know the kind. They whine to friends and family; are forever being doctored for their various ailments and have convinced themselves they need assistance for their plight. And run for cover when their short fuse is lit!

How dare someone suggest they need an attitude adjustment by way of weaning themselves off their drug of choice!

I witnessed this while waiting at the post office, of all places. In shuffles an obese woman whose cane seldom hit the floor - being draped over her wrist like it was.

Five people were in line in an 8'x14' waiting area with a counter in the middle for customer use. First, she announces she can't bear to wait in line. A kind Southern gentleman steps forward (3rd person in line) and says she can take his spot.

He walks to the end of the line while she bumps into everyone and everything to the third spot. And then drops her cane! And whines again. Seems the two people in front of her knew her. Poor souls. Or wise souls as it turned out.

"Well Sissy, I see you're walking around now," says one woman.
"Hmph! Not like I have a choice," Sissy spouts as she begins her litany of grievances with a family member.

While the rest of us glance at one another with knowing eyes, Sissy has the floor and becomes more animated - and flexible - as her plight is explained.

By the time she left the rest of us in line were shaking our heads. A little small talk ensued and wouldn't your know it, we all had ailments and pain. Arthritis, MS, Parkinsons, a prosthetic leg, a steel pin and Shingles!

Like I told the postal clerk, Drama must be her middle name and #1 Poor Me Street her address.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Community Building a New Income Stream

Yesterday I joined the local women's club which supports not only the local elementary school, scholarships and the food pantry but maintains the local library as well.

I've spent five months here primarily sitting at home and not getting to know very many people. I knew I needed some type of involvement that would be beneficial both ways. In this group, I've definitely found it.

Our library is the ONLY remaining library in the U.S. owned and operated by a woman's club. We maintain the building, equipment, grounds, and pay salaries, etc. A library board handles management, policies, supervision, material selection and programming. I would have nave known the library was NOT supported by taxes.

One reason I agreed to move to this area is because it offered two of my favorite things, a thrift store and library. Both are owned by the womens' club. Today I did my first four hour shift as a volunteer at the store. I have not spent four hours on my feet working in awhile but it was fun, relaxing, informative and made me feel like part of a great community.

Of course, working there, you get first dibs on donations! I came home with four items. One long prairie skirt was free because a ONE inch piece of the waistband was coming apart!

I said I'd fix that in no time. Next thing I know people were asking if I was a seamstress or did mending. I can't fathom that no one here does such a thing but these women had never heard of anyone so I have a new income stream. The said to make up some business cards & run an ad in the weekly paper. "You'll be swamped!" Not sure I want to be so for now I'll see what develops via word of mouth.

As the club president said, "Now that we know we have another volunteer, you'll be busy."

That has its plus side, like hearing about items for sale before they're advertised or where to buy the best pizza or what repairman to avoid and who raises chickens and sells eggs and what to expect at the next Seafood Fest in November.

It's those community insiders that hold the answers we would otherwise develop on our own via trial and error. Not that this is a bad thing, but having the inside scoop does save time and money.

Friday, August 31, 2012

When It Rains, It Pours

The rain from Isaac has moved out & humidity is high. The highways are heavy with holiday weekend traffic and yard sale signs have cropped up like I've never seen here.

Meanwhile, here it is raining mishaps and mechanical failures.

Laundry didn't get done yesterday because no matter what, the washing machine would not start. It sits outside on patio slabs. It's covered in heavy plastic so the tub doesn't fill with rain water and bugs. It's hooked to a heavy duty extension cord which plugs into a standard exterior plug. The problem appears to be one of those push button start buttons that I loathe.

It's an old washer. Replacing the part costs about as much as buying another used washer.

Last night I went to the store for yeast because after searching for an hour - yest an hour! - I couldn't find my yeast. Driver side front end made a strange thrushing sound when I turned corners or went over a bump. I never drove above 40mph as that is the speed limit from our house to the store.

George crawled beneath the car and looked under the hood and swore a few times. I forget what the thing is but needless to say it means spending money. Money we don't have.

This morning we woke up to no water. We had both been up during the night and flushed the toilet & run water in the sink. I ran more water for coffee and dishes. After some investigation we discovered our pump is crap.

So here we are on a holiday weekend with no water, a car that shouldn't be driven and a washer that doesn't work.

I hauled my old compact wringer washer out of the storage shed and spent the morning doing laundry by using a hose connected to the neighbor's house. They had borrowed our hose awhile back while working on the empty house & it so happened that they are next door today. That was fortunate because I skipped laundry last week!
Filled buckets and dish pans with water too. Thankfully we have gallons of drinking water stored.

Life is full of challenges but we carry on. Thank God for preps and good neighbors.

Keep smiling folks. Life could be worse.