Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas week here

This was a tumultuous week here in our house.

Preparing for the holiday in itself was a stressful enough time but doing so in a house in this condition had its own challenges.

The house has "defects" which I've alluded to in past posts so I won't go into them here.
Its been a rainy week and when you have leaks from the ceiling its an interesting challenge to deal with the leaks as well as continue a normal life as much as possible.

We have been trying to prepare the house to be put on the market shorly in the midst of trying to live here while we do it.

I haven't had a vehicle available to go shopping so I did just about all my shopping online.It was an interesting experiment and I think succesful.

Online shopping afforded me the experience of having the world as one huge mall!
I discovered the home shopping networks as well as all the websites of the major retailers and some of the ones I never knew existed.
As the saying goes, "the world was my oyster".

Its interesting to see the marketplace from that perspective.
Every price point, activity, interest, hobby can be addressed if you take the time to search.
Christmas shopping for me was actually fun this year.

The added bonus to me was all the boxes everything came in are now stacked along the kitchen wall ready to be used for packing! Even the packing peanuts can be reused so its also a recycling experiment.

We chose not to get a tree this year as it would have created further stress to determine where to put it.
I felt we should have something though so one day I went into the overgrown yard and chopped branches from the fruit trees, clipped some of the evergreen bushes and the rose hips from the overgrown rose bushes that were neglected and gathered recently fallen lemons from the ground and fashioned my very own uniquie holiday centerpeice!
The vase I used was one Bob's Mother had made herself in a ceramic class so we had a sense of history within the decoration.

I had ordered some unique tissue paper that in itself made nice wrapping and draped it over our heater which looks like a woodburning stove and placed the arrangement on it.
That was our focal point for the holiday.

The gifts were displayed in front of the "woodstove".
So you don't have to spend a lot of money to create a holiday atmosphere even in dreary surroundings.

Bob's last day to work was Christmas Eve. He is retired now after 40 years on the same job.
That day was a bittersweet day.
We had the anticipation of the holiday and upcoming retirement along with the finality of the last day to do something he had done for so long.

Throughout the day he would text message to my cell phone as he was completing each task of his workday for the final time.
At times it was so poignant; he loved most of his patrons and never considered it so much a job as an adventure.

At one stop a family actually was waiting at their box for him and as he approached the box they had made a sign congratulating him and then apllauded him.
Many left rememberances in their box to commerate his retirement.

A particualry poignant moment for me was when I received the message "this is it- Home Stretch". I knew he was at the last area of houses coming outof the hills down the mountain out of the subdivision.
I couldn't imagine what he must have been feeling at that moment. To know something you did every work day for 40 years was coming to an end must have been an emotional moment.
I didn't know then, he told me yesterday and probably would prefer Ii didn't reveal this, but after delivering his last stop he got out of his truck and knelt down and said a prayer of gratitude.
I reveal this because it shows the character of this man.

He was grateful he had been given the opportunity to do something that long and make a decent living; he was grateful he had basically good health and he was grateful he had me to ride off into the sunset with him.
He said throughout the day he had flashback after flashback of those 40 years.
After checking back in at the office for the last time and changing out of his uniform he removed his postal regulation shoes and tied them together and threw them over his locker door!
Then, he took a picture from his cell phone and sent it to me and some others who are close to him with the message, "I hung 'em up".
And then he left and began his last trip home from working.

Now, we begin the next stage of our lives.
Its funny in a weird way to think about the coming years.

When you are younger "retirement' is such an intangible thing.Everyone talks about it.Retirement funds, Social Security issues, health insurance, time to do what you always wanted, thinking about those who are no longer here to celebrate this time in your life, the new friends they say you'll make, the old ones who claim will stay in touch but rarely do.

And then one day- there you are. you are walking through the gate, a passage of your life that you didn't get to practice,no dress rehearsal.
You look back one last time and see the things you wished you'd done different and reflect; then you turn in the new direction and take with you all your life experiences into this unknown place and begin the next journey.

It was fitting in a way that for Bob it was in the holiday season where we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. We are aware each year of the hope and promise this Child brought to the world and the impact His presence on the earth had for all history.
And through His life we have the roadmap to have a successful life in what is meaningful if we choose to utilize it.

So to me, retirement from a job is the freedom to be what this Child meant each of us to be. We are given the gift of time to make a difference and continue the legacy this Child left us.
That is the best Christmas gift of all, I think.

Friday, December 23, 2005

My Aunt Margaret's house

Yesterday, I needed to go to for the Cincinnati area to see if I could find a house style someone was inquiring about on one of the message boards I belonged to.

During my search I came across a listing for my Aunt Margaret's house.
It was like being taken back in time to see it again.

I am named for her and she was a terrific Aunt; she was actually my great-aunt, My Mother's Aunt from her maternal side of the family.

She never had children of her own and she saw to it that we kids were outfitted for Easter and had other things that were a help to my parents while raising 9 kids.

Aunt Margaret died when I was in the second grade but I remember her well. Her loss was profound to my mother and she was a strong influence and was at all the family gatherings of the Mitchell household.

One of the things I remember so well is she was a true German lady and loved her beer! I can picture her at picnic tables in the summer with her longneck bottle of beer and laughing all the time.
To me, as a little girl, she seemed to be tall and large, just as you'd expect a matronly German woman to be. She wore flowered dresses.I don't recall her ever in one that wasn't.

I always joke about being named after her; her name was Margaret Mary Aufderheide. I am so glad they named me Margaret Mary and not Aufderheide!

She had her beloved dog, Trixie with her everywhere. I think Trixie must have been a Jack Russel terrier or close to that breed.

When I saw the picture of Aunt Margaret's house I went back in time and remembered how the house always had a unique odor that I associated with Aunt Margaret. I would later learn that smell was flea powder but I didn't know it at the time.

The layout of the house was odd. As you entered from the porch you were in the upstairs and the front room and bedroom were on that level.
You went down some stairs to the kitchen and bath and it always had a musty smell that I just associated with the house. Now, I know there was probably always standing water somewhere down there maybe leaking from a pipe or the hot water heater.
The downstairs was painted concrete as I recall and was always cold.

Its funny I don't recall a lot of Aunt Margaret's furnishings which tells me it must have been functional and practical, not Better Homes and Gardens.

During the time I lived in Dayton with Dan and Jennie my sister Mary presented me with an envelope;on the outside was written in someone's hand "For Loraine, to be opened upon my death".

It was Aunt Margaret's will, written in her own hand willing all her possesions to my Mother, the largest being this little humble home.

My sister Pat and her husband resided there for awhile at the time my oldest neice Laura was born.
I remember babysitting Laura as a newborn infant and discovering her hands and feet were peeling.
I was barely 9 years old and really knew little about newborn infants at the time.
I was convinced I was killing her and grabbed her up and ran across the street to the backside of the park and up the hill towards my Mother's home.

I was panicked and distraught, crying, apologizing for whatever I had done and just wanted her to live.
My Mother then explained that Laura was way overdue and overdue babies just peeled at the joints.

Babysitting Laura in that house is my last memories of being inside that house.
I don't recall how long it was after that when apparently my parents sold the house; I just remember it not being a long time.

Finding that listing was like receiving a gift. How appropriate at this time of year.
Aunt Margaret played a large part in our early years in seeing we had nice Christmases and other holidays.

I think of her often and always remember her at this time of year.
Maybe she just wanted me to know she was also thinking of me!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Stanley "Tookie" Williams execution

The impending execution or stay thereof from the Govenor today is the big news today.

For anyone who may not know of this case it is whether the life of Tookie Williams should be spared before his scheduled execution at 12:01 tommorow morning.

Tookie was the co-founder of the Crips gang years ago and in that capacity he was accused and convicted of 4 heinous murders that led him to death row at San Quentin.

In that time he has turned his life around and been an advocate of anti-gang activity.

I think its commendable that Tookie has redeemed his life of crime but it doesn't change that he did lead a life of crime that got him into San Quentin.

He claims he is innocent of the crimes of which he was convicted therefore his life should be spared.

He has been on death row for 25 years; in that time I would think given his notariety he would have been able to put together an excellent defense team to reopen his case if this claim were true.

We hear of cases frequently lately that The Innocence Project has taken on and is able to discover new evidence or overlooked evidence to get a case overturned or reopened.

Tookie is a published author and has become the object of much discussion over the years so it isn't as if no one who could help him hasn't heard of him.

I have to assume over the years someone has looked at the facts and decided he was guilty of the charges.
Its true that especially during that time black men were convicted under some questionable circumstances so this was of a concern to me.

He has shown no remorse for the crimes he was convicted of based on his assumption "he didn't do it" so why should he be remorseful.
He has never once attempted to contact any member of a family whose loved one was killed by the crimes in which he was convicted.

I would think if he were savvy enough to get books published from prison he could attempt to get a leter of remorse out to even one family member.

Even a note of symphathy to say he didn't do it but he was sorry for any role he played in the death would have shown me something.

His contention is HE didn't do it; does he know who did and why haven't they come forward after all these years? Is it the gang mentality again to keep up the code of silence?

Prison officials have stated he hasn't been the model prisoner that he projects to be.
Precautions have been under way for weeks to thwart expected gang violence at the news of his execution.
Why hasn't he spoken out and worked with prison officials across the country to ward off prison viloence much less at his death?

Today it was reported that people living in the surrounding area near San Quentin cannot even park their cars near their homes until this is over because of expected violence.

So, yes its commendable that Tookie took action to get books published against joining a gang and to help children take a different direction.
I give him kudos for that; but it wasn't enough in my opinion.

I see all the media attention; the prominent entertainment stars coming out to revoke his execution.Do they know something more than I know? If so, speak up.

Maybe the real leagacy of the life of Stanley "Tookie" Williams will be that if you commit crime it doesn't pay.
The message may be that if you belong to a gang it leads to destruction and death.

I, of course, don't know if he isn't innocent or guilty.
I can only look at the facts.
I know the Govenor has looked at them as well.
The issue isn't whether he redeemed his past and therefore his life should be spared.
The issue is, is he guilty of the crimes he was sentenced to death for and therefore execution is a fit punishment.

Only Tookie and God can know the final outcome.

I wish you well on your journey to the other side Tookie, sincerely.
And if you did find redemption you can continue the work on the other side.
God Bless.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

taking time to catch my breath

I haven't posted in awhile; I have very busy, at least for me - busy!

There is a lot going on in my life at this time and its ALL good!
I am so happy to be able to report that.

Bob and I went to his retirement board meeting this week and its official- retirement date is Jan 2nd.
This is a big step in his life.
He started with the USPS almost 40 years ago as a part time job until something better came along!
Of course back then mail delivery was different than it is today.
It has become more automated, less personal service, demands on time, and just generally the bigwigs only see the bottom line.

He was called into the "prinicipals office " last week because he was taking 13 minutes longer on his route than they thought he should. It wasn't taken into consideration the extra catalogs, the cards that have started arriving, the packages that are being sent. He told them he didn't know what more he could do since he already was taking no lunch break.

Its time to go.
He has mixed feelings.He will miss his patrons he has grown close to over the years but he is excited to move on to a different facet of his life.

Yesterday, he had to take off early for an emergency dental appointment.
He had come home in a lot of pain and his jaw was swollen. Obviously, he had an abcess which was confirmed.
He is going to need extensive oral surgery it appears; it will be a process that will take months, not weeks or days.

He knew a few years ago that it was getting bad but he felt loyal to his job and didn't want to take the time off work.
He has accumulated over 2800 hours of sick time.

I suppose that was overlooked when it was noted he was taking 13 minutes longer on his route.

We have decided the house will go on the market around january 15th.
Thanksgiving week we made another trip to Oroville and have decided to live at a senior manufactured home park, if they will have us!

The park sits on 80 wooded acres and has views of the Butte mountains.It is not even 10 minutes to Lake Oroville, which we hear has some real good fishing.
Since Bob loves to fish that is ideal.

We met a coupl;e of residents while we were visiting the park and it seems we will fit in. Thye have a clubhouse and activities every day.

If we don't want to do thast we can go to one of the casinos! Or some of the other venues.
Oroville takes good care of its seniors.

We joked because we got caught in rush hour traffic one evening. Rush hour in Oroville meant it took 20 minutes to get through town instead of 10-15!

I have been and will be busy trying to get the house in as good as shape as possible before we list.

I have discovered internet shopping and have had the best fun shopping for Christmas as well as what I need to help me here.

I can't believe its coming up on 1 year I will have lived in California.
It sure has been a whirlwind!

I haven't experienced the depression I usually have at this time of year. I have experienced the pain I have when its gloomy and damp and colder.

I have spent the last year adjusting to not having chaos and confusion in my life.
I have spent the last year in a lot of isolation yet it has been healthy.

Its enabled me to get a clear picture of what was valuable to me and where the toxicity in my life came from.
I have forgiven and moved forward.

Even with the children of mine who choose for whatever reasons to disassociate with me, I have forgiven.
I questioned, grieved and went through all the emotions one goes through when there is a loss.
I have moved forward.

I can't change them; I can only change how I react to them.

The lesson for me was to learn boundaries and to focus on those who have a positive impact on my life.
The same with siblings and friends.

I knew I made major strides when recently Oscar contacted me through e-mail and I felt nothing towards him.
I didn't feel love or hate; just indifferent.

I no longer live in fear of what may happen. Or fear of what has happened.

I celebrate the joy in my life every day and there is much joy to celebrate.

God is good. Time does heal. There is a season for everything.
I think I have left the winter of my life and am entering into the spring.

The winter was cold, gloomy and a time to be dormant.
The spring is a rebirth, a renewed interest in life and all there is to accomplish.

So even though the calendar and weather patterns say its wintertime, in my personal life its sunny and the new growth is budding!

Maybe this is a bipolar moment but I don't think so.
I think its just a moment and that makes me smile to realize there is a difference.

Thursday, December 01, 2005