Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Sad Day Indeed; A Rant About the System

It's a sad day today in more ways than one.  Our sister program, CDT (Continued Day Treatment) is closing.  We've worked side-by-side for the five years I've been with the organization, and I will miss all the staff who have been a part of my life for five years.  Thankfully, they have not lost jobs.  The organization is the largest in the city with 28 programs so all staff will be placed elsewhere.  I can't blame the organization for the closing.  There is no money to be made in day treatment programs anymore.  They fought to keep it open, but finally had to give in just like all the others here in the city.  Medicaid has decided that there is no merit in such places, and they will no longer pay.

I will miss the workers, yes, but they will be okay.  For some, their new position is a step up with a hefty raise.  It is the clients who I am feeling for.  Continued Day Treatment is/was a program for mentally ill clients.  They spend their day at the program coming for breakfast in the morning, then attending various groups throughout the day.  And unlike my program in which groups are geared toward substance abuse, their groups are designed  to teach them how to survive in the community, how to take care of themselves--cooking classes, daily living skills, making a budget, hygiene, dealing with mental illness, etc.  So, it not only gets them off the streets, it also teaches them how to live.

And, although they are being referred to other places, it is not the same.  Clubhouses are just that...a clubhouse.  Oh, there are some that offer some kind of life skills training, but not to the point where the client learns to become self-sufficient.  Other clients are being referred to the programs Medicaid WILL pay for...a program where the client meets with the psychiatrist, gets his/her prescriptions, and whoosh, they are back on the streets.   

Where does it all end?  I mean, it's not the clients faults that Medicaid has been mismanaged for so many years.  I remember back in time when addicts would spend all their money on drugs, check themselves into a detox, check out when their money arrived, and then do the same thing when their money ran out....over and over a cost of over $1500 a day. When patients are discharged — typically after about five days — the needed transition to an outpatient treatment program rarely or never occurs. And, rather than encourage clients to enter long-term treatment, Medicaid continued to pay the hospital's exorbitant fees.  Addicts know this and take full advantage.

That's only one way Medicaid has been mismanaged over the years.  There are far more, but this is one I know of personally as I work in the field. And all of us are going to end up paying for it.  Not only will the mentally ill get the care they deserve, but homelessness and crime is already on the rise.  Why close down programs that help to prepare  the mentally ill and homeless to survive in this challenging world while Medicaid quacks are out there charging a small fortune to write out scripts?

And, it's not only the mentally ill who are suffering.  It is happening to the elderly, as well.  Senior centers are shutting down all over the city, and despite the fact that we 'baby boomers'  are producing the largest generation of elderly folk ever, housing and other services for the oldsters is down to a minimum.  As a woman nearing retirement age, it truly frightens me.  

Where does it all end?  By 2018 Medicaid is requiring that all people who work in my field will need a Master's Degree, or they will not be able to find a job.  My question is, who is going to pay for it?  That is six years from now.  By then I will be 70.  Let's hope I can retire by then.

Thanks for letting me rant.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Home Song

I am a bit at a loss for words today.  I guess that happens to all of us at one point or another. I know I am a bit burned out.  Sure, I had a four day holiday, but most of that time was spent sorting and packing.  Can't believe I am not done yet, but I am almost there.  The biggest problem now is trying to figure out what to do with the love seat and sofa, the cocktail table, and my son's bed which we are not taking.  Here in the city, it's not so easy to get rid of unwanted furnishings and one has to be careful not to get a ticket.

Have to get my son in gear, as well.  He's got tons of things to pack.  He's not coming with us, you know.  Two bedroom apartments are sky high,  and he really has to grow up and get out there on his own.  He's becoming quite the mama's boy, and that's not something I ever wanted for him, so at this point, my letting him live with us and taking care of him is not in his best interest.  He's feeling bad about it, and so am I, but it's time.   I  see the son upstairs, close to fifty, at a loss of how to take care of himself after his parents passed on because he lived his whole life with them and never learned how to stand on his own two feet. I don't want that for my son.  I want to know that, if anything should happen to me, he'll be all right.  And,  it's not like I am putting him on the streets.  He's going to share a place with a friend...and I know that one day he will thank me for this.    Personally, though, I think I am taking it a lot harder than him. 

And, with that being said, I'd like to share the following wonderful poem with you.  To me, it is oh, so appropriate for my life right now.

I read within a poet's book
A word that starred the page:
"Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage!"

Yes, that is true; and something more
You'll find, where'er you roam,
That marble floors and gilded walls
Can never make a home.

But every house where Love abides,
And Friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home-sweet-home:
For there the heart can rest. 

--Henry Van Dyke--

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Little This and That

Isn't this a gorgeous shot of the sky?  I'm pretty amazed at myself, but all the credit goes to the camera.  Actually, this photo was taken from a Smart Phone.  Hubby and I went to look at some living room furniture out in Queens, and my son had asked if I would stop and pick up his phone at his friend's house to save him a trip.  On the way back I started fooling around with it, and the above was taken as returned to Brooklyn on the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway).  This phone takes better pictures than my you can see below. 

Saturday afternoon there was a knock on my door, and my first reaction was, "What now?"   It's been extra quiet around here lately.  My landlady has stopped harassing me 3 or 4 times a day for the same nonsense.  Should have had hubby call her a long time ago.  I'm a wimp, and she knows it; he's not.  And the son upstairs has not been knocking with his nonsense either.  All I wanted was a little peace my last month here, and I am pleased to say I am getting it.

The reason he was knocking was that he had the above package that I'd won at my dear friend, Jo, over at  My Grama's SoulThe gift included everything one needs to pamper oneself...a delightful shower wash, a magnificent handmade journal which I cannot wait to begin writing in, a fleur de lis bling ring, a pretty little votive holder which is going to take center stage on my planned 'welcome table', a pretty print, a wonderfully smelling grapefruit/mint soap, a sensational little book "Anyway, Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World", and a wonderful little hand made card. I only wish I had a little more talent with MY camera so you could really get an idea of the special meaning of the gift.

On Friday, with only four days left on my Norton virus program, I decided to renew, and as usual, it turned into an annual stressor.  I began trying to log in at 8 pm and by 8:30 was just about climbing walls.  Took me 25 minutes to find a phone number and even longer to get a live voice on the phone.  Had to listen to Live Voice #1's sales pitch for 20 minutes until I finally had to get rude and ask if he speaks English.  "I've told you umpteen times that I am happy with the program I have, and that is all I want."  After that, he asked me if my computer ran slow and offered me a technician who would log onto my computer and straighten it out.  And, all for $39.99.  By now I am sweating, shaking, and ready to scream.  Finally, he gets the message and passes me onto a tech who will help me to renew.  

Four times I have to repeat my email address to this tech.  Four times until I had to do each letter separately--m as in Mary, x as in Xray, t as in Tom, etc.--and ever so slowly.  Finally, he gets it.  Then, he informs me of the program that I have.  I KNOW what program I have.  I've had it for 4 years now, and this is the fourth year I am being tortured by these people when I try to renew.  Finally, we get to the good part, the part where I am going to pay.  Now, I have to repeat the debit card number almost as many times and as slow as my email address.  We go through the whole ritual, and he announces that the card is invalid.  "What do you mean it's invalid?  It is not." And so, we once again go through the card number...extra, extra slow this time.  This time he tells me that their system will NOT accept a debit card.  

Now, I am seeing red.  I paid last year with a debit card.  Oh, but that was Chase, a well-known bank.  This card is from TD Bank which is not so well known.  "What difference should that make?" I reply.  "I come here because I want to PAY money to you, not get money from you.  Before I can even begin I am given a liturgy of upgrades that Norton feels I should have.  Why doesn't Norton practice what they preach?  This is the only company who has refused to honor my debit card."  It is now exactly 10:49 and I have accomplished nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, and boy was I furious.  Well, he did give me an extra 30 days to give me time to go to the store and BUY a new Norton to install since I told him I do not plan to change banks or obtain a credit card just to satisfy Norton. Any suggestions on a virus program as good as Norton?  Personally, I love their program, but hate their system.

On a happier note, I had to go to the office this morning to resign my lease.  When I first got the message asking me to come and resign, that there was a problem it was like, "Oh no,"  Turns out that the legal rent had been figured wrong, and I was being overcharged.  Here in New York, in rent stabilized apartments, the rent can only be raised by so much percentage...even after a party leaves.  They cannot raise to exorbitant rents to the new tenants....not that my rent was so high.  $1150 is not bad in this day and age, and now it is even lower...$1114.73.  And, the lease is for two years, not one year.   

What fantastic weekend this was!!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Buy Nothing Day: November 25

The safe way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket.  -- Frank Hubbard

A little late today, but I just got to the computer.  Had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday.  I have some pictures of the food which still have to be uploaded or downloaded...whichever...I still don't know the difference.  Surprisingly, it was my youngest who was the most melancholy about  the last holiday in our home...and he doesn't even live here.   He's looking for an apartment, and I really had to talk him out of this one.  A crack addict with $60,000 is not going to be able to hold onto a home for long.

Today is the 9th annual Buy Nothing Day an international holiday that protests consumerism and is now celebrated on Black Friday.  Buy Nothing Day, which falls on Black Friday, is a 24 hour moratorium on holiday shopping.  Granted, there are some pretty good deals on Black Friday which makes it the biggest shopping day of the year, as well as being considered to be the first day of the Christmas holiday season. The point is to get people to stop and think about how much stuff we buy that we don't really need.

We don't need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants.  Not wanting something is as good as possessing it.  --Donald Horban

I have never shopped on a Black Friday.  Cannot take crowds.  I guess you might say I suffer from panic attacks.  My heart begins to palpitate and I break out in a sweat.  Usually leave the store in tears.   And shoppers looking for those sales can be downright dangerous, and I've read many a tale of violence erupting, the worst being the death of a  Walmart worker  in 2008; he was trampled to death after an "out-of-control" mob of frenzied shoppers smashed through the Long Island store's front doors.  Was the almighty sale really worth a man's life?

So, what I like to do  on Black Friday is relax and do nothing, except may boiling the turkey bones for soup. I just say no thank you to the insanity that occurs the day after Thanksgiving.

Have a wonderful weekend. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

To Grandmother’s House We Go

For me, no Thanksgiving would be complete without the following:

Over the river and through the woods,
To grandmother’s house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh,
 Through the white and drifted snow, oh!

Over the river and through the woods,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the woods,
To have a first-rate play;
Oh, hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ling!”
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day-ay!

Over the river and through the wood,
Trot fast my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting hound!

For this is Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river and through the woods,
And straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go extremely slow
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood –
Now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Over the river and through the woods,
To grandmother’s house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh,
Through the white and drifted snow, oh!

Over the river and through the woods,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

 -- Author unknown --

Such wonderful memories of Thankgivings long, long ago. Blessings to all on this special day. May your day be filled with family, good friends, joy, peace, and love. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

Tomorrow will be our last Thanksgiving in this home, and at first, I'd thought about only having a small meal with hubby and my sons, but after ruminating on it, I've decided I want this to be a special family get-together...with turkey all of the trimmings.  Things here have gone downhill since the man upstairs passed, but it wasn't always that way. The purpose of Thanksgiving should be to give thanks for all those gifts and blessings that we take for granted every day, and I know that each of us  has plenty of good memories here as well, and this is what I want everyone to remember which is why I am going to ask everyone to share one of their favorite moments.

Too often we go through our lives finding things that are wrong in our world.
I could sit here now and write about all that went wrong here, but I chose not to. When we gear ourselves towards negativism, we overlook the obvious blessings that we enjoy.  Thanksgiving, or Harvest Home, as it was known in Europe, even before the first colonists came to America, was a time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and give thanks for all the bounty that you received throughout the year. I
t was a time to gather together for a purpose other than work, to eat, visit and celebrate the day one of the most precious holidays one can celebrate.  Here are some of the things I am thankful for. 

....I am thankful for the ability to choose how I want to live my life. I've made plenty of mistakes, yes, but I've learned lessons from them which have helped me to grow.

....I am thankful for my family who  loves me at my  best and accepts me at my worst. 

 ....I am thankful for my beautiful new home as well as the one I have lived in for 15 years. 

....I am thankful for Mother Nature, for all of the trees, flowers and animals which add beauty to my life  and show me new wonders everyday.

....I am  thankful that I have the ability to pay my bills, even if it means that I have to give up some things that I want.  Having those basic needs met is a luxury for many people

....I am thankful for the food that graces my table.

....I am thankful for the sun rise each morning for it means another day of life. 

....I am thankful for the moonlight which guides me at night.

....I am thankful that all of you, my dear friends, have come into my life.

Blessings to all of you. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Wind's Song

O winds that blow across the sea,
What is the story that you bring?
Leaves clap their hands on every tree
And birds about their branches sing.

You sing to flowers and trees and birds
Your sea-songs over all the land.
Could you not stay and whisper words
A little child might understand?

The roses nod to hear you sing;
But though I listen all the day,
You never tell me anything
Of father's ship so far away.

Its masts are taller than the trees;
Its sails are silver in the sun;
There's not a ship upon the seas
So beautiful as father's one.

With wings spread out it flies so fast
It leaves the waves all white with foam.
Just whisper to me, blowing past,
If you have seen it sailing home.

I feel your breath upon my cheek,
And in my hair, and on my brow.
Dear winds, if you could only speak,
I know that you would tell me now.

My father's coming home, you'd say,
With precious presents, one, two, three;
A shawl for mother, beads for May,
And eggs and shells for Rob and me.

The winds sing songs where'er they roam;
The leaves all clap their little hands;
For father's ship is coming home
With wondrous things from foreign lands.

--Gabriel Setoun-- 

Last night I was doing some research on the computer, and I could hear the whistling of the wind in the back yard.  It wasn't windy or cold outdoors, but from the back bedroom, the slightest bit of breeze sounds like a major gust of wind.  I've always loved the wind, the feel of a cool, crisp breeze brushing across my face, or lying in a cozy bed on a  cold winter's night and listening to the howling winds as they echo through the air.
   Air is the element of the East; it is connected to the soul and the breath of life. Birds of all kinds belong to this element.   The element of air is associated with movement, thought, communication, inspiration, and wisdom. It corresponds with the mental plane. It is associated with the east. Thus it represents the power of beginnings. 

Sylphs are the elementals of Air; they the spirits of the four winds, and like wind, sylphs move quickly and suddenly, and can travel great distances.  They are delightful, pure, innocent, playful creatures who dwell in the etheric elemental substance of Air, a spiritual medium contained within the atmosphere. Although they represent life-giving breath, they can also bring with them the menace of storm clouds or the mystique of fog. They are very beautiful creatures who are often seen as silvery sparkles dancing in the air. They are always invisible, though a sylph that wishes to be seen may pick up loose dirt or incorporate smoke into its body to make itself visible

Sylphs can be called upon by burning incense or fragrant oils. They respond well to music.   Contemplate the element of air. Take a deep breath and feel the power of wind in your breath.  Let the element of wind bring clarity to your mind. Feel the wind on your face. Feel the caress of the breeze as it passes over your skin. Its gentle touch is comforting and warm You may see faint flickering lights or feel a shift in the air around you as they come to you.

Wishing you all a wonderful day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Friday Rant

I had vowed to myself that I wasn't going to post anything about the Occupy Wall Street protesters, I am sorry but enough is enough. In the early days of the protest, I was all for them, but now I don't see them as accomplishing anything, and lately, it seems as if most don't even know what they are protesting anymore. At this point, they have turned into a mob, and a  me, me, me, attitude.  The 1 % that they are supposedly protesting against are getting a good laugh out of them.  It's us,  the REAL  99 %,  those of us who work for a living who are being hurt.  In fact, many of the 99 % they are supposed to be fighting for are  becoming what one would call collateral damage. 

Small businesses in the Wall Street area are hurting and are being forced to lay their workers off.  For example, not too long ago, 21 restaurant workers lost their jobs  because  the disruptions caused by the Occupy Wall Street protesters was making it difficult for patrons to get to the restaurant.  And, yesterday they decided it was in 'everyone's' best interest to literally shut the city down.  Who made them judge and jury?  Who gave them permission to speak for me?  I'd like an answer to that one.  What gives them the right to hold up trains or to try to stop people from going or coming home from work?

As time goes on, whatever support these idiots had is dwindling away.  No longer a group of protesters speaking for the good of man, they've now become a mob force infringing on the rights of the very people they say they are fighting for.  The very fact that they threatened to hold up the trains was proof to me.  The 1% they say they are rallying against don't ride public transportation; it's us, the working man/woman who does.  There was an article this morning about a man who put in his day's work and was trying to get to the babysitters to pick up his children, but 'they' were holding the doors.  When he yelled out and asked who was going to pay the babysitter for his lateness, one of the morons responded, "He's so misguided.  We're doing this for him."  What a laugh!!!  

You are doing this for 'you', to make yourself feel important.  You are doing this to gain notoriety for yourself.  Please don't insult me by saying you are doing this for me.  I went to school, too, and I worked in a bar, flung burgers, and handed out fliers to make do until I got the job I wanted. What have you done?  Have you ever worked a day in your life?  Yes, I know, there are workers out there protesting with them, but the original 99 % are a bunch of college educated morons who want everything handed to them.  The funniest thing I heard was about those who had a job, quit the job, and now are out there picketing because they don't have a job.  Go, figure!!!!  Perhaps we should thank them for giving up jobs so somebody who REALLY wants to work can find one. Heck, it's not even Wall Street they should be picketing.  It's the politicians.  They can't even get that straight. 

The morning I got up for work and saw on the news that they had been chased from the park, and it was being cleaned up, I breathed a sigh of relief.  With flu season arriving, and who knows what else, that park was a health crisis waiting to happen.   I was a child of the 50's, and in the 60's, I, too, fought for rights, but not in this way.  We marched and picketed, yes, but we never hurt the ones we were supposed to be fighting for.

I agree that there is a huge gap between the rich and the poor, and it breaks my heart to see the homeless living out there on the streets.  I agree that something has to be done, but, how is stopping people from going to work to earn a living going to help anything?   It has to start at the top.   We all have to get out there and vote, speak up to our politicians.  Closing off Wall Street is going to accomplish nothing, absolutely NOTHING, because the rich made it to work yesterday, didn't they?

It hasn't really affected me yet, but I know in the long run it will.  Someone is going to have to pay for all this overtime paid to the police, and who do you think that will be?  Your average Joe, your working person.  It will hit us in higher taxes.  Enough is enough. 

After two months of this, I've had enough.  It's getting old to say the least...

Thanks for letting me share.   I know some of you may disagree with what I said, but controversy is allowed.  If we all agreed with each other, where would we be?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Preview of My New Apartment

Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. --Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.--

Hubby went over to the new place yesterday and took some pictures for me.  It actually looks better in person than it does in pictures.  The above is the living room showing the entrance into the bedroom.

The above is a shot of the bedroom.  The walls are actually a cream color.  Not sure yet if I am going to repaint or leave as is since it has already been done.  Right now I am still trying to think of a color scheme for curtains, etc.

The bedroom leading out to the two walk in closets and the living room.

One of my challenges, the kitchen with little counter space.  The other side is completely bare so I am thinking of a long table for microwave, coffee pot, and extra counter space. The cabinets are all brand new, as well as the stove which still has the tape on it.  Notice the square below the window.  That is the original old stove of the house.  It opened up and was filled with coal, and the lady of the house cooked over it.

 Another view of the kitchen...sink and small cupboard.

Brand new refrigerator and view of entrance way.

Hubby got the bathroom sideways, but it is small with a big old-fashioned oval tub with legs.   The shower knobs are actually in the center of the tub and not on the ends.  I am eagerly awaiting a long, leisurely bubble bath with scented candles.

I can't wait to show you all the finished product. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Love Rushes In

I release any unpleasantness from the past and let it sail away.
I envision it going through the mists of my memories,
over the horizon, and out of sight. Love rushes in to fill
any empty places within my heart or mind. Now I am free
to do what is before me and free to do it better than ever
before. I am free to enrich my life and everything concerning me. 


Found the above while going through some papers last night.  It helped me through some pretty rough times, so I thought I would share it with you in case you can use it.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

There Go I

Although the world is very full of suffering,
it is also full of the overcoming of it.
-Helen Keller-

There's been something eating away at me all week.  I've been trying to brush it aside with good thoughts, but it keeps coming back to haunt me.  There is a park around the corner from my home, and although adults without children are no longer allowed sit in the park due to fear of pedophiles, there are benches surrounding the outer park, and this  is where the homeless sit,  day in and day out.  It breaks my heart to see it, outreach teams have tried to bring them in off the streets, but they choose not to go.  And one can't force them to go, not until the temperature outdoors becomes extremely cold.

At one time it was only a group of men.  Now I am noticing women sitting there as well. This past Saturday there was an elderly woman who was white-haired and appeared to be in or close to her 70's.  The poor thing was eating an ONION.  That was obviously all the food that she had.  I had money in my bag, but I learned along time ago that that only goes to buy  alcohol, if not for her,  the men who were milling around would find a way to get some out it, so I figured when my food delivery arrived at home, I would take her some of the fruit and treats I had bought.  I did bring her back some food, which she refused to take from my hand, looking at me with distrust, so I just set it down on the bench next to her and went back home.  She obviously wasn't used to kindness, but I have to wonder how her family could allow this to happen to her or does she have no one? 

There is another older couple who live from the back of their old station wagon.  Each day they move to a new parking spot and take out a couple of lawn chairs and sit.  She has a cane, and he helps her along.  I've given them the number to our family shelter, but people are so distrusting of the New York shelter system, and from the horror stories I hear from my clients, I can't blame them.     This city is in a bad way right now, and the homeless situation is out of control.  There is not enough affordable housing, especially for seniors, so more and more people are ending up on the streets with no place to go.

What has been sticking in my mind when I think of that lady  is  the saying, 'There but for the grace of God, go I.'  Perhaps this woman and her husband worked all of their lives and lost everything.  Perhaps, like me, every time they got a little bit ahead, something came up that ate away their savings.  Homelessness is something that can happen to any of us. I , myself, am only one paycheck away from sitting next to her on that park bench, and , to be honest, it scares the heck out of me. What if something happens and I can no longer work?  I've worked all of my life, but the amount I would get from social security wouldn't even pay my rent.  Ironically, clients of mine who never worked a day in their life, sold drugs for a living, are being paid more than I would...but that's another story, and I am not going to go there today.  Suffice it to say that if I retired tomorrow, I would barely make $900, but a lifelong drug dealer is bringing in $1700.   Where is the fairness in it all?

But, as I sit here at my desk today, I  cannot help think of that  poor lady on the bench and wonder what her story is.  How did she arrive to where she is at today?  And I wish someone would come along and whisk her off that bench and offer her a safe, warm place to stay.  But would she go?  I think not for, what I can see, she has lost the ability to trust.  And all I can do is sit here and say 'There but for the grace of God, go I.' 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Remembering the Good as Well as the Bad

 The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.

-Oprah Winfrey-

This weekend as I did my bi-weekly food shopping, I began buying some of the non-perishables I will need for Thanksgiving, and it struck, this will be the last holiday we spend in the home that has been ours for 15 years.   Hubby had said to make only a small meal since much of our things are packed, but I want to go out with a 'bang'.  This will be a very special Thanksgiving for us. 

It is an uncomfortable place to be right now, but it hasn't 'always' been this way.  I have to remember that.  It is so easy to focus on the negative. because the negative is where it is right now.  Yes, the battle between families has gone on since Day One, but it was bearable.  Usually, it was the old gent upstairs who would be knocking at my door complaining that my landlady was late paying the oil or water bill.  (As co-owners, they shared payments).   And that I learned to deal with, usually with a chuckle, especially when he would tape the bill to the front door, because I 'knew' she was going to pay; she just wanted to see him squirm.  And my landlady?  Sometimes I didn't hear from her for years.  Aside from not having to pay the bills, for many years, it was like I owned my own home.

So, at this time of Thanksgiving celebration, I have to remember the good and not only the bad.  I have to remember those long, hazy nights when I couldn't sleep and wandered out in the yard and felt such serenity being close to nature.  I now will be giving that up.  My budgies , who gave me so much joy, are buried back there under the bush, and I will have to say my final good-bye.  I smile even now as I think of them, and they have been gone so long.  Their joyful voices were the last thing I heard before I went to work and the first thing I heard on their return.  My sweet little Abbott just loved Spanish music , so hubby would put it on, and Abbott would immediately start bobbing his head and dancing.  And I have to stop here because I can feel the tears starting to well, and this is not the time to cry.   This is truly a time to celebrate the new and unknown.

Life is a celebration of awakenings, of new beginnings,
and wonderful surprises that enlighten the soul.


Some of you are probably wondering, How can she not have curtains?  The truth of the matter is, I have had no need for them because I have no windows. Space here in the city is scarce, and most homes are attached to the house next to them.  I have no windows in the kitchen, bathroom, living room, or dining room.  I only have two windows in the front bedroom and two in the back.  I do have a door in the kitchen, but there is no screen, so to keep it open is to invite the flies or worse yet, have my cat get out and be poisoned by the neighborhood killer who thinks she is doing the animals a favor.  This was one of the reasons that I was craving a home with windows and light.  I can't wait to start my herb garden in the kitchen window.  It's been a dream of mine for so long now, ever since I left the home with my magical garden.

And so it is that I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, both for the new and for the old.  We were a family here.  We laughed, we cried, we mourned, and we loved, but it is time to move on, to say good-bye.  Hubby and I often drive by our other home and stop, to share our memories, but I don't think I will do that here.  Too much insanity has made it so painful to be here. December 15th will be good-bye, and I will not look back...but I will always have my memories.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

World Kindness Day: November 13th

When you receive a kindness, remember it;
when you do a kindness, forget it.

-Greek proverb-

In our competitive and all too often violent world, kindness is not the most frequent response.  Today, November 13th,  is the date that was decreed for World Kindness Day in 1997 when a Japanese group called the Small Kindness Movement organized a conference that brought together members of kindness organizations from around the world.  World Kindness Day encourages us to be kind to others, helping to create a nicer, better world. The result was the World Kindness Movement. Its goal is simple...create a kinder world.

How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it!

-George Elliston-

Kindness reaffirms our connection with each other.  When someone is kind to us, we feel blessed.  And being kind to another doesn't take much effort on our part....a friendly smile, a kind word, takes less than a minute and gives so much joy.   Many people here in the city are so locked into their own little worlds that they have no time for kindness. I can't count how many times I have been lost and gone up to someone to ask directions, only to have them ignore me as if I am invisible and walk right past. No matter what, I always stop to respond...even if it is just to say 'I am sorry,  I don't know how to get there.'  Or, how many just brush on past the pleasant young man trying to make a living by handing out New York's free newspapers at the subway station?   How much does it take to say 'No, thank you' rather than just scowl at him? Or taking that extra minute to hold the door for the next person rather than letting it slam in their face.

Use today as an opportunity to be kind to family, friends, neighbors, and others. You will find kindness rubs off on others, and generates even more kindness. 

We restore the holiness of the world through our loving-kindness and compassion.  Everyone participates. It is a collective task. Every act of loving-kindness, no matter how great or small, repairs the world.  All those ever born have shared this collective work since the beginning of time. --Rachel Naomi Remen

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hallelujah !!!!

It's mine.  It's really, really mine.  The nightmare  that my present home has become is almost over. Got the call late yesterday.  "Congratulations, you've been approved."  "Are you sure, I asked?  Are you sure someone is not going to come out of the background and say they rented it already?"  "What?" he asked.  "Never mind, I say.  That's a long story."  Hubby was a bit 'iffy' because there is not too much counter space in the kitchen and continued hitting real estate agents, but when I got home I showed him all the things we can do.  "We need to get creative." I said  It will be fun. I've already lots of ideas in my head.

Hubby and I are not doing so well financially at this point.  Remember, I am the only one working right now; he is on unemployment.  We definitely need a living room set and lots of little items...curtains, throw rugs, bath set, etc.  I just can't see spending the money on an over-priced kitchen  utility table when I can be creative, and it will look much more homey.  I've a small stand which would be perfect for the coffee pot, and a rather heavy duty metal television stand we don't use.  My thought was to measure and get a square of wood, sand, and paint both the stand and the wood in a brownish color.  I'd thought of fall colors such as orange and gold, but don't want to lock myself in with a certain color scheme.  I love changes.   I also saw something called an over-the-sink cutting board which can act as counter space when I cook.  Oh, I can hardly wait for the 1st to get started. 

One thing I did learn from my experience is how manipulative and conniving real estate agents can be.  I do understand that they are out to make a living, but please, don't treat your customers as if they are stupid.  I know a good con when I see one.  After all we went through, even these agents tried to pull a fast one.  Originally, they had said the rent was $1150, but once they had us, they tried to raise it to $1200.  Not a big difference, but that $50 could come in useful someplace else...and I want what you promised.  Don't go back on your word once I sign the dotted line.  They knew hubby and I meant business and would pull out of the deal, so they got us the lowered rent. Anyone looking for or planning to look for a home or an apartment, be on guard.  They are out there to get you.  LOL!!! 

Wishing you all a wonderful, wonderful weekend.  Thanks so much for all the positive energies.  I know that you all had a lot to do with this.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Falling of the Leaves

Autumn is over the long leaves that love us,
And over the mice in the barley sheaves;
Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us,
And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves.
The hour of the waning of love has beset us,
And weary and worn are our sad souls now;
Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us,
With a kiss and a tear on thy drooping brow.

--William Butler Yeats-- 

Well, it's finally beginning to look like Autumn here in the city...although it hasn't been much feeling like it.  It's my favorite time of the  year, and it is not supposed to be THIS warm.  I long for the days when the leaves are tumbling about and a cool breeze cool breeze which brings the welcome relief not having the scorching heat and soaked clothes. There is something about waking up in the morning to the cool fresh air in early morning.  If ever I wished a time could stand still, it would be during the Autumn season.

Last night was a spectacular more ways than one.   It was a rare foggy night in the city, and above the silvery fog a full moon had risen, and its light made the mist luminous.  If there wasn't so much traffic and people around, it would be downright spooky.  Personally, I loved it and didn't feel much like going indoors.

"Fog in November, trees have no heads,
Streams only sound, walls suddenly stop
Half-way up hills, the ghost of a man spreads
Dung on dead fields for next year's crop.
I cannot see my hand before my face,
My body does not seem to be my own,
The world becomes a far-off, foreign place,
People are strangers, houses silent, unknown."

- Leonard Clark-

We also went to see another apartment.  I got a good feeling about this one.  There is a great aura surrounding the building, and the apartment is everything we have been looking for.  The building  is old, but is obviously well kept, and from what I saw while playing 'peeping Tom' outdoors, the tenants all seemed down-to-earth.  I also liked that in the summer the courtyard in the back is used for barbecues which tells me that the people are friendly, family-like.  The kitchen is brand new...stove, refrigerator, cupboard, counters, tiles...everything.  The bathroom has one of those big old fashioned tubs, and I can already picture myself lounging there, surrounded by scented candles and bubbles.   My cat is welcome which is super  important for me.  Shopping is nearby and the subway for work a block away.  And all for $1150 a month, less than what I am paying now. I do hope this one goes through.

I'm tired.  We've only been looking a few weeks in earnest, but it's wearing me down.  I work hard all day at a stressful job and this running home and going to see apartments is getting to me.  Last night I worked til 7, got home at 8, was at the new apartment by 8:30, at the real estate office at 9, and eating dinner at 9:30.  Whew!!!!  Do I ever need a breather.  So, please, send positive thoughts my way.  Let this be the one.  This will be the one.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What a Bummer!!!

"Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow - that is patience."
--Author Unknown

Greetings on this day that feels more like the beginning of Summer than the entrance of Autumn.  Personally, I'd much prefer the cooler weather. Took off work yesterday to meet with another real estate agent.  I never realized it was going to be this draining.  When we find a great place, they don't want pets.  Hubby says just sneak Minga in, and in the old days that might have worked, but in her old age, not only has her cry become louder due to hearing loss, but she has taken to howling in the middle of the night on occasion because she wants someone up with her.  (Yes, she is very spoiled.)  It's been 15 years since I last moved, and real estate took us to one home, this one, and here we are. 

The first stop, of course, was to the incompetents who sold us on an already rented apartment.  They owed me the $500 I had put down to hold the already rented apartment.  They really didn't want to see us go and tried real hard to sell us on the first apartment they had shown us this past Saturday. I don't think I told you about that one.

On first glance, it was just what we were looking for.  I loved the view of the Verrazano Bridge and the water.  The price was definitely in our range, cats were welcome, lots of windows, closet space...all seemed so perfect...until.  The kitchen was long and huge.  I'd checked out the  counter space, cupboards, stove, refrigerator, etc.,  but then before leaving went in to check out the view from the two windows.  Needless to say, it is a good thing I ventured further inward because  the ceiling and wall above one of the windows was covered with black mold.  Immediate turnoff.  

"The landlord is going to take care of it." the agent said.  Hubby replied, "How, by painting over it?  That won't take the problem away, it will only cover it up."  To which I piped in, "Black mold is dangerous."

"Come," he said, "I want to show you the laundry room."  Of course, hubby and I both knew that he was trying to steer us off the subject.  What follows could have been in a comedy show.

One of the male tenants was down there doing his laundry.  "Are you planning to move in here?"  he asked.  "We're thinking of it" to which he replied, "Do yourself a favor.  You can get a lot better than this at a cheaper price." The agent, face reddening, put on the spot, could only say, "Let's go back to the office and talk about this."

Hubby and I didn't see anything to talk about.  We weren't going to take this place, but the icing on the cake came when we got on the elevator with the super who was boasting about how great the building was.  And, before the elevator door shut, the gent with the laundry entered and immediately asked the super, "When are you going to come and take care of my bathroom?  I put the requisition in 3 months ago, and you haven't even looked at it.?  Then he looked at us, "Black mold.  I've taken pictures of it and sent it to the city."  Oh gosh, if I had only had my camera so I could show you the agent's face at this point.

This man's apartment was on the first floor in the front of the building; the apartment we looked at was on the 5th floor in the rear.  The entire building is obviously infested with black mold.  And they continue to try to push this apartment on us...even yesterday when we went to pick up the money we had left with them to hold the already rented apartment.  Tried to tell us it was just from the steam.  Yeah, and I was born yesterday.  .

Meanwhile, when we got home, the son who lives upstairs came knocking on the door to announce that he is now half owner of the house and went on and on...And I want you both to know that I am going to go before the judge, and tell him that she (my landlady) doesn't pay her bills and has done nothing to improve your apartment, so I am going to ask him to have your rent money handed over to me, and I will start doing the fixing up on your apartment that she never did. I'm not my father, and she's soon going to learn that I mean business.  She's sending a couple guys over to check out the basement on Saturday.  Don't let them in.   You can stay as long as you like. Sounds dandy, doesn't it?....but...a judge will never award him our rent when she owns our half of the house...and secondly, and probably most importantly, how is he going to pay all the bills on his $68.50 every two weeks from welfare? 

I know some of you may be wondering how I lasted 15 years here, but it wasn't always this bad.  When the old man was alive, it was mainly little nuggets about her paying the bills, etc.  He'd nag me to pay the bill rather than the rent.  I got to the point where I'd chuckle when I saw the oil bill hanging on the door  with a late fee. I rarely heard from her and sometimes a year or two would go by before I got a call, and it was always about what they were doing and how hard they are to live around. And both would always talk about how much they disliked each other and try to get me on their side. You know, pesty little stuff, nothing really stressful... 

...But now the war has finally begun in earnest, and I continue looking.  Already I am being placed in the middle, and I refuse to become their collateral damage.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Beauty of a Woman

The beauty of a woman,
Isn't in the clothes she wears,
The figure that she carries,
Or the way she combs her hair.
The beauty of a woman,
Must be seen from in her eyes,
Because that's the doorway to her heart,
The place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman,
Isn't in a facial mole,
But true beauty in a woman,
Is reflected by her soul.
It's the caring that she cares to give,
The passion that she shows,
And the beauty of a woman,
With passing years,
Only grows.
--Author Unknown--

The other day I was looking over some old posts of mine and found the poem above.  I've always loved the poem and thought it would be nice to share it again.  To me, it says it all.  Sadly, there are many out there who still view the older woman as the hag, the Crone, the one whose days of beauty by society's standard are behind her. I find it here at work.  One of the younger male clients once asked me when I was going to retire, and I told him I  'not for a few years.'  He began to laugh and said, "You'll be the oldest person out there working."   

I came to terms with the aging process years ago, but when this was said in front of others, I felt my face redden.  I guess that, for a moment,  I had been transported back to my childhood when the other children used to taunt me.  Although, knowing him, I am aware that he never meant to hurt my feelings, I found his comment was totally inappropriate and I told him so.  These are the kind of things some of us oldsters run into.  In their limited manner of thinking, old age means wrinkled skin and chronic disease and they cannot  the wisdom, serenity, and self-knowledge that represent the harvest of a long life experience.  She is perceived as being jealous of young beauty.  We see this in the tale of Snow White  and Sleeping Beauty as well as with the Halloween witch.  With images like these, is it any wonder we see women racing to the beauty counter at the first sign of a wrinkle?

Fortunately, the Crone is not always portrayed as a hag, but also as the beautiful Lady of Wisdom, as seen with Sophia. She the wise crone, the grandmother who knows all and passes her knowledge on.
The crone was a voice of wisdom, an elder, a healer, a counselor, and a teacherOne type of beauty replaces another beauty. The elder is valued for her age and makes no apologies for her appearance. She is the traditional crone, the  grandmother aspect of the Goddess, a present-day manifestation of the ancient mother goddess who appears as the Trinity of Maiden , Mother and Crone. 

Menopause is a time of great change in a woman's life. That is why it is referred to as the Change of Life. It can be our time of power with renewed self-confidence, energy, and inner beauty. It brings a new freedom for individuation and insight. Outer beauty is never enough for such beauty fades with time.  Only inner beauty remains...the beauty of the heart...the beauty of the soul.

To enter Cronehood is to experience a true rite of passage. Go within and feel the inner strength that you possess. Acknowledge your wisdom, your love and your beauty. You have earned this respect,  from others as well as  from yourself.   No one will ever honor us more than we honor ourselves.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Update on This Morning's Post

I'm trying to look at this as something that wasn't meant to be, but I have to say, I am so, so disappointed.  I was approved.  Tomorrow I was to pick up the rest of the monies at the bank and complete the process.  The apartment was mine....until an hour ago.  Then, I get the apologetic call that the apartment had already been rented...a week ago.  This after I gleefully told everyone on the job that I had it.   Wondering if this is  really true or did someone else came around that is willing to pay more.  He DID take two of us to see the apartment Saturday.  Makes you wonder what really happened.

So, I guess it's back to the drawing board. Thanks so much to all of you for all your support.

Feast of the Stolen Fire

The beautiful fables of the Greeks, being proper creations of the imagination and not of the fancy, are universal verities. What a range of meanings and what perpetual pertinence has the story of Prometheus!-- Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Essays"

On this day, the ancient Greeks celebrated the 'Feast of the Stolen Fire' in honor of the old Titan god, Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and presented it to mortals, thus saving the human race. For this, he was bound to a mountain and punished for centuries. Many lamps were lit in his honor on this day. 

Fire is a very powerful symbol, human progress did not begin until we established fire. The gift of fire opened the door to so many things such as  cooking our  food, melting metals, and providing  warmth in the winter. It represents the start of civilization, consciousness, new ideas,  and symbolizes man's development of art and technology with its promise to better our lives, but not without respect for it and the gods.

This was a busy weekend for me.  On Saturday, we were apartment hunting the entire day, and I do believe I may have found the place of my dreams.  Now, I just have to wait for the credit check.  I'm now on pins and needles.  I know I passed the last one, but this is a different kind of place.  It's both condos and regular apartments, and they are gorgeous...and hubby decided that it would be best just putting the lease in my name since he is on unemployment.  That way, they only needed my check stubs.  Big mistake, in my book, but I couldn't talk him out of it.  Not only is there still a stigma about renting to women, except for those who are wealthy, but also I am getting up in age, 3 years from retirement.  I have to wonder if they will look at those things.  I think it would have been best to have two incomes on the application.  Even if one is unemployment, it still beats my one salary. 

At any rate, I'm locked into a move date, which is both good and bad.  It's good because there is no backing down now and bad because, 'what if I don't find a place by then?'  What do I do?  This weekend I spoke with my landlady, and she actually got quite angry that I didn't file a police report the other night.  See, she has been harassing me to call the police on the brothers and get reports every chance I get.  This is all a part of their family feud, and I am just tired of it.  She has no concerns over my welfare and safety...absolutely no concerns that I work some late nights and don't want to have to be looking over my shoulder.  No concerns that hubby has a car which they can easily have one of their cohorts vandalize.  No, it's all about her and this feud which she keeps going.  Wish I knew what started it in the first place because the end seems nowhere in sight.  But soon, it won't be my worry anymore.

I'll be sure to let you know as soon as I hear one way or the other.   Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Home Should Be a Place of Peace

Weekends are a bit like rainbows; they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them.  --John Shirley

Have a busy weekend lined up.  We've decided to go the real estate route rather than what we have been doing...riding around looking for 'For Rent' signs.  So, this weekend we have appointments to see apartments both on Saturday and on Sunday.  I have to remember to stay focused and keep a clear head about what I want.  Don't want to rush into something just because I am so desperate to get out of here, and now I am more desperate than ever.

Wednesday night we had to call the police.  The two brothers were 'drunk as skunks'.  One was upstairs tearing the house apart.  It sounded like furniture was being tossed across the room.  The other was trying to break down the outside door to get in, and a few times I was sure the door was going to come down.  And, since it was my late night, I'd just gotten home from work and was trying to quietly eat my dinner while watching 'Criminal Minds'.  I began to shake and tears began to well in my eyes.  Hubby dialed '911' and tried to settle me down.  "This is between them.  They're not coming after you."   I know that, but needless to say, I couldn't finish my dinner once all this began.  You work hard all day, you're tired an hungry, and then just as you kick your shoes off to relax, the storm begins...and that's not what a home is about.

Home is a shelter from storms - all sorts of storms. --William J. Bennett

All was quiet by the time the police finally arrived...two hours later.  It was obvious they were both shocked when they discovered what time we had actually called.  Now, that is kind of frightening in itself.  Someone is trying to kick down the door, and takes the '911' operator two hours to report the call.  You'd best believe I reported this. 

I'm going to be 65 in a few months, and I just cannot handle all this stress. I have to get out of there.  Told my landlady last night that this was the clincher.  She was hoping I'd hang for awhile, but, no, I can't sit around waiting for another bomb to fall.  Sooner or later it will take its toll on my health.

So, dear friends, keep your fingers crossed that something turns up for us this weekend.  I'm not going to jump into something, just to have a place to go.  I want something that I will be comfortable in, something that has a good aura about it.  As a loner, I am not interested in what my neighbors are like, but I do want to have a good feeling when I enter the building.

Wishing you all a weekend filled with joy and peace.

Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other.  It is the place of confidence.  It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defense, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts.  It is the spot where expressions of tenderness gush out without any sensation of awkwardness and without any dread of ridicule.--Frederick W. Robertson

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Woman's Work

Always one more meal to get;
one more train which must be met;
one more hopeless sock to men;
one more invalid to tend;
one more salve for one more knee,
one more visitor to tea;
one more future bruised and scarred;
one more drop of spikenard;
one more problem, one more doubt;
one more mood to be smoothed out;
one more smile and one more kiss—
Ah, but ministry like this
will outlast the radiant sun.
Woman's work is never done.

- Fay Inchfawn -

Housework and raising children are jobs that have no end, but who really wants it to end.  Not me.  My sons will always be my babies no matter how old they are, and I will always feel a sense of accomplishment and comfort when my house is clean.  No one can clean it better than me; at least, that's what  I like to tell myself.  It's just so hard for me to delegate jobs that I feel can only be done right by me.  But, this is my choice, and I am lucky to live in an age where I have a choice. 

The Women's Group I run at work is my favorite group; it is also the most difficult.  These women have been beaten down so low, it is hard to instill a sense of empowerment in them.    Convincing them  that they are in control of their lives and that things that happen to them  only happen because they have allowed it, is a big realization.  When a woman becomes empowered, she gains considerable strength and  courage. 

Historically, women have always been viewed as the weaker sex.   In the Middle Ages, a woman's place in society was determined by her husband, father, or brother's standing, and when she lost her male protector, she often lost her identity as well.  Choices for women were very limited.   The noble woman had it much easier than her peasant counterpart.  Her main concern was coordinating the work of her many servants and overseeing the upkeep of the manor.  Her great value was her dowry, and many marriages were founded on economic gain and not to please the lady.  Very few marriages in the medieval times were made because they loved each other, but they were marriages made for gain.  I have to believe it was a terribly unhappy and unfulfilling life. 

The peasant woman, on the other hand,  worked alongside her husband in the fields and for supplemental income would take up other jobs in shops or in nobles' homes as domestic helpThese women often worked in the fields just as hard as the men, but because she lived in a male dominated society,  she earned significantly less than a male counterpart. She was also personally responsible for the maintenance of her household.  Aside from labor, her other  main role was bearing children, and with poor medical care, women often died in childbirth.  Women of the past led difficult, painful lives, and it is not surprising that they had such a short life to live...from twenty to forty.

As a modern woman, I take pride in  my accomplishments and  am truly grateful for all of my life’s blessings, that I live in an age where women, although not equal to men,  have choices in how they want to live their lives.  I also have a loving family and a supportive husband who has always encouraged me to be the best that I can be. I wear many hats... I am a counselor,  a teacher, a  caretaker,  nurse, writer, daughter,  mother, wife, lover and friend. I take pride in everything I do, and I am blessed to live in an age where, although women's work may  never be done, it is done out of love and not because I am forced to do it.

The most common way people give up their power
is by thinking they don't have any.

~ Alice Walker ~