Family Expansion

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While my Mom was staying with us, we had some household changes – it grew!

We had gone shopping in town and when we were preparing to come home, a little girl in the parking lot got our attention.  She was almost in tears, so we obviously stopped everything.  She relayed that her dad’s dog (a purebred Blue Tick Healer) had gotten out of the yard and later come home pregnant.  Her daddy was very unhappy about it.

The puppies were born and now about 7 weeks old.  The sire had clearly NOT been another Blue Tick Healer.  Her dad intended to give the pups to a man who operated a dog fighting ring, but she convinced him to try to get them adopted.  He gave her one day, and so, she was at my car. 

After I stepped out of the car, the teary, little girl (about 10 years old), ran to the pick-up, grabbed one of the puppies and handed it to me.  She advised that one was the most sedate and loving.  As I held it, I saw it was covered with ticks and fleas, the puppy didn’t even try scratching, and looked up at me with the sweetest, sad little eyes.  Well, guess what.

Meet Popcorn.  These are the pictures of the sweet thing after we bathed and de-bugged her.  She was so tiny and sweet.  Although we already had three dogs, there was no way I was able to resist a misty-eyed little girl and that cute puppy who was in a dire situation. Mom insisted on holding her on her lap as much as possible, she too had her heart stolen by that little bundle.

Here she is today — about two months later.  Gadzooks – she is a bundle of energy with a never-ending appetite  Still not sure what breed(s) her papa was, but I’m guessing she has a little pitbull.  She has some faint spots starting to show on her floppy little ears.

We named her Popcorn because she is forever popping up and down.  Once all the ticks and fleas were gone, and the welts and bites healed, she became the perpetual bouncing machine. 

She’s so smart and funny.  Dear heavens, she won’t stop growing.  We have fallen in love, and Popcorn fits in well with the rest of our brood.

Domestic Triumphs

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Its still a bit too cold to do much outside, so we’ve been focusing on acquiring items to prepare for the thaw as well as items for inside. Our favorite “shopping mall” are local thrift stores, and the treasures we find sometimes amaze us.

Here’s one of our found treasures — an oil painting that is perfect for our dining room. I was absolutely thrilled.

One of my kitchen challenges has always been my dish rack. I felt like I started playing Tetris, then evolved into a leaning tower of disaster. With breakable dishes and cups, the tower of freshly washed dishes really became interesting. Jim surprised me with a double-decker dishrack, which I now love, love, love.

Maybe if I bought instant everything instead of making food from scratch I wouldn’t be so overjoyed to have a double-decker dishrack. Makes washing and stacking my dishes so much easier!

My pantry was starting to get nightmarish, so I decided to get some of those racks for canned food. We live so far from town that we shop once each month, which means we buy in bulk. Sounds easy enough until we get home and try to organize it all in the pantry. I opted to get commercial-quality racks that had to be ordered from a restaurant supply. They arrived and had to be assembled.

This is what they looked like when I finally figured out how to translate Chinese-English instructions.

Stacks of boxes piled on each other that took a lot of room were converted into an organized dream that is space efficient and makes getting ingredients really easy to access.

We hope as the cold is starting to ease that we can do some real work soon. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying finding ways of maximizing every inch of our future home.

End of Insanity

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Its amazing how relieved I am that this year is almost over. In fact, I think this picture best sums up how I feel about 2021.

Finally got to see the opthomologist and learned my problem started as a normal side affect of cataract surgery, but since the pandemic meant all eye clinics were closed for 14 months, something that would normally be easily addressed became a nightmare. Long/short: Minor laser surgery was done to correct the problem, am now off of the horrific mass of meds with all the debilitating side affects, and am now able to function “normally.” I will need eye drops every day from now on, but that is no big deal.

The huge cysts in my elbow have also been surgically removed, the cast is off, and am now able to use my arm again. Am still doing the final healing from the surgery, but I have full use of my arm, so I am thrilled.

As a result of being functional again, we have started working on the house again. Before getting to the home project, we spent a few days cruising thrift shops. The treasures we found are so thrilling! We found a wonderful electric washing machine that is also able to do dry cleaning. At a different thrift store we found the perfect sink and cabinet to replace the set in the bathroom. Lastly, we found a few things I thought I had lost forever.

Several years ago (when I still lived in Albuquerque), my apartment had been broken into. Jewelry was stolen, some of my suits, and my hand-crochet pillows (set of 4). I actually was able to find two of the four pillows! They said they don’t know who donated them, but I was more than happy to give them $5 to get these two back!

When we went and reviewed the property, we decided to focus on the bathroom. Again, what we thought would be a one day project to replace the tiny sink and collapsing cabinet became a week long mess. We discovered the plumbing was done wrong, so the piping had to be redone before we could install the new cabinet and faucet. The picture below shows a corner of the tiny bowl-sized sink and collapsing cabinet. Here’s the result of replumbing and installing new.

We decided to keep the old clawfoot tub, but we could see we would be having some issues there. Little did we know!

Not only does the wall require massive rework and repair, but the plumbing was the biggest surprise. The fixtures are going to be replaced with fixtures made for a clawfoot tub, but we found out the plumbing from the floor and up was done with swamp cooler hoses, not pipes! This means poor Jim is going to have to tear out the wall in order to redo the shower as well as redoing all the other plumbing. We now know why the water never had any significant water pressure.

The beautiful old tub also needs TLC. After we moved it out of the corner we discovered that the legs, the underside and the side against the wall are rusted. We’ll patch the wall first as a joint effort. Thereafter, while Jim works on the plumbing, I’ll be sanding and cleaning the tub, coating it with Rustoleum and then spraying it with paint. All I have to do is remember to buy a wire brush the next time we’re in town….

Detour & Disaster

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In June we were finally able to take a trip to Michigan to help my Mom clean out her basement and garage. We had planned to do this last year, but COVID happened. So this year, we hit the road and brought our little trailer along. What a mess!

It took three over-flowing trailer loads to the dump yard to empty enough to make it possible to say we made a difference! The moldy, rotted garbage and useless stuff was amazing! Mom’s basement had flooded and all the stuff down there had obviously not survived very well. The roof on Mom’s garage had leaked, so stuff in there had not faired well either. All I can say is, there was no way for Mom to have been able to do this by herself!

Then the fun of packaging everything else for the Salvation Army to pick up, at least what she didn’t want or need. If Jim and I were to load up the trailer and transport it, there was enough to make at least four trips with everything left! Amazing how much more there was. In total, it took 10 days of concentrated work.

On the last Sunday (Father’s Day), Mom, my brother (Mike) and I took a trip to the cemetery to visit my Dad’s grave. It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 30 years since he left us. We teased Mom that its time she start dating, but she said if we could find someone at least one year older that could “get it up,” she would — Mom is 94!!!

Our trip home was relatively uneventful unless you consider that the main highways were closed due to high winds in excess of 70 mph so we had to take side roads. Our little trailer was loaded up with items that Mom had been saving for me, like my old drafting/art table and peddle sewing machine, canning jars, and some of Dad’s tools that Mom gave Jim.

Now to explain the disaster. Some time ago I had cataract surgery. Everything went fine for the right eye. The left eye had “minor” complications, but the MD said everything turned out fine.

Shortly thereafter I started developing headaches and severe earaches. Allergist said I was allergic to dogs and cats and prescribed mild antihistamines to take daily. Headaches and earaches not only continued, but started to accelerate to at least a couple times each week.

By the time of the trip, the pain would last for a few hours each day and caused the loss of sight in my left eye and loss of hearing in my left ear. By the time I got home, the pain was unrelenting and I ended up in an Emergency Room.

They ran all kinds of tests. Thankfully, no tumors, brain bleeds or anurythm. A neuro-opthomologist was called. After a quick examination he said that a quick cursory exam looks like the surgery was okay but it was obvious something went wrong and that a thorough examination would need to be made in order for repairs to be made. The pain was caused by the fact that my eye ball was completely drying out which caused nerve damage, which affects the nasal passages, which also affected the ear drums and jaws — hence, the debilitating migraines.

Well, due to COVID, I had not been able to see my opthomologist after the cataract surgery, but a follow-up appointment had been made in November 2020 for August 2021, so next month I’ll hopefully be able to begin to see the end of this tunnel. Meanwhile, I’m on tons of meds to try to control the migraines, I sleep about 18 hours each day, am unable to do much more than sit, go potty, and drink coffee, and poor Jim is stuck taking care of everything. I want to nominate him for sainthood.

This, of course, means that absolutely nothing is getting done on the house. My poor critters are getting fed, but barely tended to otherwise. My patience with myself is running thin, and I am praying that my doctor has a solution to all this that will not take too long. The only other option that I can think of to enable us to be able to move into our home this fall is to win the lottery so we can pay someone to do the work for us or if the Walmart family thinks we are a worthy investment and finances our endeavor…

Yeah, yeah, maybe my meds are making me delusional..

Improvise, Improve, Invent

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Have been so busy I haven’t had a moment’s quiet, so haven’t been able to post the latest and greatest. Sorry about this minor delay in updates! I will now give the highlights.

We finished repairing the walls and ceiling of the dining room. Jim took the extra coral paint we used in the kitchen, mixed it with white paint and managed to come out with a pastel coral. I am absolutely thrilled with the results!

I also finished and put up the crochet curtain for the French door. It puckers in the center, so to insure that the finished work actually fits the door, it was taped in place. Now the challenge of figuring out how to make it lay straight all the way down. If anyone has any suggestions, I sure would appreciate it!

To continue the work, especially in adding a walk-in closet for the bedroom and redoing the roof, we are going to need wood. Have you checked out the price of wood right now? Just for basic materials we would practically have to take out a mortgage. After the shell shock wore off we brain-stormed. The decision was to remove the porch on the trailer we are presently living in — the wood is in almost perfect shape, so the tear down has begun.

After tearing down the roof and sides, Jim pulled out our hot tub, which he is going to install later at the house. We were able to acquire a lot of reusable materials!

In this picture you can see the old, non-functioning hot tub that was there just beyond ours. The spot of the old hot tub will one day be my utility room and our tub will be installed after we put in new flooring, plumbing, etc. Yeppers, too much work to consider right now, but one day our dream will be a reality.

Our old and fully-functional hot tub — a future installation project

I also am sad to report that one of my favorite chickens, Drama Queen, passed away. I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but she was over nine years old and had not been laying eggs for quite some time. We have several “retired” hens that continue to teach the younger ladies and live a relatively pampered life. My Drama Queen was particularly affectionate and was always doing something to make me smile. So, I sure do miss her!

Drama Queen, gone but not forgotten!

Warm Weather Begins

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It’s no longer a mild Arctic region — temps in the 70s & 80s most days. I’m loving it! On one of the warmer days we were using the hoses to start softening the soil in preparation of gardening efforts. Well, one of our porkers (Wilbur), who is solid white with a few black spots, pulled a Houdini and got out of the chicken/pig run. Not a problem, except he wanted to cuddle after finding those great wet spots …..

Anyone want to cuddle?

We finished sealing the dining room ceiling and have painted it white (versus dark colors). The room looks so much bigger, the drafty feeling is gone and it now echoes in there!

The debate has begun as to what color to paint the dining room walls. Really kind of funny. I jokingly suggested lime green with flourescent orange trim. My poor hubby. Thought his eyes were gonna leave the sockets. I’ll take pictures to show the end result later!

Our other big challenge has been installing a door on the bedroom. To my delight, Jim put in a French door — am so excited about it. I’m almost done crocheting a curtain for it, which I’ll proudly show off when done!

Almost done installing!

Next on the agenda is finishing up the kitchen, then the living room. By then it should be warm enough to do the roof. In between all that, prep and plant the garden.

I keep telling myself to not worry about the shopping list of to-do’s but focus on one thing at a time. Anyone have hints on how to productively exercise patience?

The Work Goes On

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With things being as they are (virus protocols), we will not be having family coming out to visit this year, nor are we planning on anything extra for the holidays. Instead, we continue to work at getting the house livable and we intend to make next year’s holidays super duper!

So what are we doing now? Focusing on the ceilings. The crawl space under the roof has little to no insulation and the ceilings are lined-up planks with space between them. Guess where the heat goes! So we are giving the ceilings one quick base coat of paint, sealing the cracks, then finishing up with a second coat of paint. We have almost finished the dining room and have already noticed a BIG difference!

Base coat being applied
Base coat plus grout filling

We plan on replacing the entire roof in the Spring/Summer, so we’ll be putting in plenty of insulation then. Meanwhile, sealing the numerous cracks should help (we hope).

We also are having a large propane tank installed to fuel the dryer and stove. Before the tank could be delivered, we had to provide a flattened area for the tank to sit. Jim did a great job leveling a spot in the location the propane company specified. While the roof is removed, we hope to install piping for a couple of propane heaters in a few rooms as well. We are determined to be prepared for living in our home next winter!!

Last big development — we have a new family member! Meet Lady Bird (she tries to talk and it sounds like bird chirping). She’s a lab mix and about 4 months old. She will be our “outside” dog one day to guard our property. I know, I know, labs are not vicious. But, we don’t want vicious — we want protective and noisy.

Lady Bird helping Daddy dig

She is surrounded by Chihuahuas, and at this time, our smallest Chi (named Princess Peaches & Cream — Peach, for short) is her bestest friend. Cracks me up how they play together.

One thing I’ve seen however, Lady is almost as bad as my pigs. She’s always on the prowl for something edible. Anything laying around is going to get chewed on (including cords, shoes, pens, etc.). And, she loves to run. Even when she trips over her own feet, she covers the entire acre in seconds flat! Lady is so lovable and cuddly.

That’s it for December. Here’s hoping and praying everyone stays safe for the holidays, and please, please — wear your mask until the dangers of dying of this awful disease has ended! Hugs to all.

Never a Dull Moment

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We have yet to recover our Jeep or have any word whether it has been found, but we continue to hope.

My surviving tomatoes are soaking up the sun

With the change in weather, some of the work has slowed down and the few tomato plants I was able to save were put into the sun room. I knew outside they would freeze at night and the sun room has great windows! After squirrels attacked everything, I was not sure I would be able to nurse these few survivors into fruition, but there is hope!! My efforts have been rewarded! I have some tomatoes.

Just look at how big they’ve gotten. They are heirloom purple tomatoes, so are super sweet and meaty (knowledge from past experience). The first three tomatoes that I’ve harvested I’m saving for seeds — I have high hopes for next year. The remainder I stroke, murmur to, and wait in anticipation of being ready to pick. Although I won’t have enough for canning this year, you can rest assured that they will be lovingly sliced and appreciated with plenty of lip smacking!

One unforeseen occurrence — it actually snowed here last month. Broke all kinds of records for our area. I know, I know. Snow in October is not headline news in most of the world, but in this little corner of New Mexico, it was extraordinary. Snow flurries here means everything shuts down, including roads and highways. We got a few inches of snow, so the shut downs were for a couple days before the sun was able to melt everything.

A leaky roof is NOT good for adobe!

Well, as the snow melted, the roof leaked, and soaked the walls in the sunroom. This happened when we weren’t there, so when we were finally able to get to the house, we found a huge section of the wall by the ceiling had collapsed onto packed boxes. Such a mess!

Look at all the broken up adobe!

We have been using the sun room for storage of boxes while the rest of the house is being worked on, and to put the tomato plants so they get plenty of sun. I am sooooo grateful the part of the wall that collapsed missed my beloved tomatoes.

With almost all the holes that exposed the inside to the outside being repaired, the difference inside is amazing. We heat up the house and within a few hours (after the adobe walls warm up), the house is so toasty and comfortable! I am soooo looking forward to being able to live there. We just have to fix the roof next spring!

The World Got Crazy

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So much has happened in the last few weeks, I don’t even know where to begin. I guess I will backtrack with events, then I’ll go over some of the progress we’ve made.

First off — Chicken Disaster

I had about 9 roosters and 85 hens. They were all so loving and tame, and so many different breeds since I have almost had a chicken rescue. I now have about 14 hens and 4 roosters. We were invaded by rogue dogs, coyotes and a few grey fox.

We, at first, couldn’t figure out what was going wrong. Sometimes I would just find a pile of feathers. I was frantic. My two pot-belly pigs had scratches and bite marks, and they were skittish and never left each other’s side, always ready to declare war on anything but me. Jim decided to stand stood watch one evening with his rifle and discovered what was causing the havoc.

These predators had found a hole in our fencing that is now fixed, but in early evening they were having themselves a feast. No more! After a week of peace the chickens and pigs have settled down and are mellow again, but it was crazy for a few nights.

Second Disaster — Theft at our House

We don’t maintain a schedule of when we went to our house to work — sometimes it was every day, sometimes we stayed overnight, sometimes we would not go for a week. Every time we go we load up either vehicles Jim is working on (his hobby is repairing/restoring vehicles), towing our other vehicles down, or loading up materials, tools and packed boxes.

About a month ago we drove down in two vehicles — our pick-up truck loaded with stuff and Jim’s white Jeep Wrangler with black soft top. He had just finished fixing it up with new tires, stereo system, rebuilt motor, etc. We had plans to use it in the near future to take a fishing/camping trip and were excited that it was finally ready to roll. This picture was taken just before the new tires and hubs were put on – Jim put on some heavy-duty black hubs when replacing the tires.

Well, one night when we were not there, someone cut the fence, drove over the fence posts (pretty much destroying them), and towed the Jeep away! They had to have destroyed the steering column in order to allow the wheels to turn because the wheels froze when not started, and the thief certainly did not have the key. We are crushed! After years of working on it and slowly saving up money for parts, etc., we were actually going to be able to use it.

So, obviously, if anyone sees it, I ask that the Socorro Sheriff’s office be called immediately (575-835-0941).

Household Progress

I’ve been painting, Jim’s been working on improving the lighting in the house.

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This is the new fixture in the bedroom! The ceiling is a pastel mint green, the trim is mint green and the walls are white. It has turned into my favorite room at this point!

In the kitchen, there was one very dark corner — not any more! This hanging light is now going to grace what will one day be my “Coffee Corner.”

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Then outside, we decided something had to be done before winter hits to try to save as much of the wood as possible. So, I tested the blue we acquired for the trim. What do you think?

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Then with a simple white base coat I started to paint the wooden ristras (see the dark brown, weatherworn wood above the window?). The blue trim paint will be done later.

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Last bit of progress — the alternate section of the kitchen was equally dark, so I painted the door of the pantry. Its amazing how a little bit of paint brightened everything up! Here’s the before and after:

Spooky!

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We had a little bit of fun since our last blog.

Jim bought a pumpkin, scraped out most of the meat from the inside and made a great Jack-o-Lantern. I loved it! As it slowly caved in, it got even scarier. Finally, it collapsed and we gave it to the pigs. They thought they had died and gone to heaven!

We had a few weeks of almost continuous, daily rain. No great deluge, but a steady drizzle that took a toll on our future livingroom. Just look at the scarey results of that roof leak!

So, Jim went up top and discovered the previous owner had smeared some stuff called SnoRoof on top of old tar paper. Well, it leaked. So, Jim put up some repaired propanel and sealed the cracks with silicone. We will have to redo and replace the entire roof, but hopefully it can wait until next spring! On a day that is too nasty to work outside, we’ll fix the ceiling.

Meanwhile, it was decided to get the chicken/pig run ready for the critters, plus the critter house. We are going to use the old trailer that had been left.

Jim and I patched it up somewhat and spent two weeks doing nothing but cleaning it out. What we did not bag up for the trash was thrown out the door. Just look at the pile we will have to sort through later (in our ‘spare time’).

Inside the trailer we found some rotting carpet pieces that hid rotting floor boards. So, we will have to put down wood on the floors before we can put up some poles for roosting. The old tables we found in there we will be keeping and making them into tiered laying boxes. Before tackling this project, we turned our attention to the future “animal run.”

After some deliberation, it was decided to allow the old dying tree to remain. We opted to clean it all up to give the critters a personalized jungle gym. Just cleaning up that mess meant another week of daily work, plus using the bobcat to move the piles of rocks and boulders. When that project is done, I’ll post pictures of our masterpiece!

Using the old trailer as the critters’ house means making sure they don’t crawl under it to escape, right? So, we piled as many rocks as we could under it and then Jim started piling dirt around it.

We took one day off to attend the Albuquerque Youth Pow Wow. That was so much fun! It was Jim’s first, and I managed to get him to dance one All Nations Dance. Those kids were wonderful and the food was incredible. The Native chef that prepared the public feast is working on a cookbook, and judging by the eats we had, its gonna be one I’m gonna want!

Looks like the weather is starting to seriously change, so we hope to kick it into high gear in order to finish up all the outside work. We can then focus on moving in. That will mean we will be living in a construction zone, but we continue having high hopes. Can you believe Turkey Day is almost here?

Elder Care – Mom Needs Me

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I was notified by Protective Services that my Mom (95 years old) needed help, so I dropped everything and flew out-of-state. Ended up staying for almost two months trying to help get things straightened out.

My brother moved back to Michigan to stay with Mom a year ago because he felt Mom needed help. In that year (during the pandemic), she lost her two closest friends, had a minor heart attack, was in an accident that totaled her car (she was driving) and developed an ear infection that cost her hearing. Although she is somewhat familiar with computers and the internet, all her community meetings were being done via Zoom, which presented her with new challenges she was having difficulty with.

One of the items in Protective Services’ complaint stated my brother was “verbally assaulting” Mom. They did not realize that Mom had lost most of her hearing, so he had to yell in order for her to hear him. She insisted she could hear just fine and didn’t need the hearing aids the doctor recommended.

After arriving I learned of numerous other issues she was having, so I did everything I could to fix as much as possible. One major obstacle was opening a new bank account to centralize her finances. Then, making sure unnecessary expenditures were eliminated, i.e., numerous monthly car warranty payments with various companies when she didn’t have a car anymore.

Thanks to a community organization Mom had been involved with for decades, LA SED (Latin Americans for Social & Economic Development), a lot of hurtles were quickly dealt with and the Protective Services complaint was dropped when all the issues were resolved. Then LA SED financed our train trip back to New Mexico. The hope was that she would be willing to stay with me, and every effort was made, but in the end she wanted to go home.

While in New Mexico, we shopped, relaxed, she reviewed what we had done on the house and presented some great suggestions and ideas, and saw some sights.

During the time with me and Jim, I found that besides her hearing issue, she was now easily confused, had lost most of her short-term memory, and tired easily. Jim and I tried to cater to her every whim, but we saw she was having numerous issues.

Despite strong objections by us, she strenuously insisted she wanted to go home, so we finally relented and she took a train trip home. One major accomplishment was that she acknowleged she had become hard-of hearing.

My brother has since started working nights so he can be with her during the days, and the challenge to find someone to stay with Mom from about 4 pm til she goes to bed is overwhelming. Her short-term memory has had her burning things on the stove and her balance is not up to par. With stairs in the house, her tenuous balance is concerning, so we don’t want to leave her alone too long.

Mom wants to buy another car, but being almost completely deaf, she would not be able to hear a car horn or a siren. Coupled with her lack of depth perception and the tendency to become easily confused means it would not be safe to drive again.

So the challenges continue. Most of the time I can address issues that arise via telephone, but the time is quickly arriving when, despite her objections, she will have to move in with me. She is a strong, independent woman with profound intellectual prowess, so the physical limitations are driving her crazy. My big-hearted, wonderful Mom is now facing new challenges that require outside help, and she hates that. God help us all!

Death by Narcissism

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The last several months have been insane, to say the least.  So, I shall summarize everything for each development in successive posts.  If nothing else, it will make things so much easier for me to keep straight and not repeat myself! 

This spring my youngest daughter returned to New Mexico in her escape from a very abusive narcissist.  I never really knew about narcissists, so much of what I learned was stark revelation. 

Fortunately, she happened to find a video on-line by an individual named Lee Hammock, who is diagnosed with narcissism, but wants to help others to understand (https://beacons.ai/mentalhealness).  What was described that was causing her so much misery from the man she thought she loved was precisely what Dr. Hammock was describing.  After more research, she knew she had to get away. 

So much has been learned, and I thought it would be good to share some of the highlights.  First, this is an area of psychology that is relatively new (less than 20 years), this branch of specialization is sociopathic.  Sociopathic specialization means studying the mental disorders that lead to killing others without feeling or remorse, which covers major psychological diseases, including extreme narcissism.  Turns out, Hannibal Lector (by this specialization’s criteria) has two types of sociopathy – psychopathy and narcissism. 

Symptoms may vary from person to person. The most common symptoms include: 

  • Being overly boastful, exaggerating one’s own achievements 
  • Pretending to be superior to others 
  • Lack of empathy for others 
  • Looking down on others as inferior
  • Monopolising conversations
  • Impatient, angry, unhappy, depressed or has mood swings when criticized
  • Easily disappointed when expected importance is not given
  • Always craves for “the best” in everything
  • Has a very fragile self-esteem

Anyone can have 1-3 of these symptoms and be considered normal; 4-5 symptoms means they are a narcissist.  However, when it hits six or more of these symptoms, the individual graduates to the sociopathic realm of disorder.   

The narcissist does not kill people like a psychopath does (i.e., Ted Bundy), but rather draws their victim close to them, undermines the victim to the point of break-down, then inspires and encourages suicide.   

The narcissist derives absolute joy and satisfaction from seeing an otherwise healthy, vibrant person begin to tear down and degrade to the point of suicide; this gives them satisfaction and a feeling of power.  In fact, the narcissist is incapable of empathy, love or other positive emotions.  The only time they feel satisfied is when others are praising them or when they can influence the destruction and death of someone — in the narcissist’s mind, this is the ultimate power.   

Even before the “success” of a suicide, the narcissist will practice behavior that is very destructive to those close to them, i.e., cheating on their mate, syphoning money from an account, telling “tales” that are false.  If caught and questioned or confronted, a narcissist will go into a blinding rage.  Why?  It is a very successful tactic that forces others to question and/or disbelieve the information regardless of the proof’s validity.  Once the victim is forced to backdown, the victim usually apologizes for presenting such atrocities to a narcissist.  This is a great reward for a narcissist – the power to control another and the joy of watching the obvious destruction of the victim by forcing them to deny truth and question their mental capacity. 

After a narcissist’s inspired suicide, the narcissist derives deep personal satisfaction, and will use the victim’s death as a tool to acquire sympathy, support (money, resources) and admiration from others, plus possibly zero in on a new victim.  As in, “poor me, how I suffer because they did that, so feel sorry for me and give me your [support/money/admiration] for being able to overcome what they caused.” 

So why give this topic so much attention?  Because I have come to the realization that narcissism is incredibly pervasive in America, because I now have a deeper understanding of the cause of so much of the abuse suffered today, and because I hope to help others see and protect themselves from becoming victims. Especially since a narcissist makes every effort to present a wonderful person to the public and their nightmare is created behind closed doors. 

There is so much information available regarding this subject on the internet right now.  If you think you may be in contact with a narcissist, check it out.  If not, check it out anyway.  Knowing the signs may very well keep you alive! 

Involuntary Multi-Tasking

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Maintaining our present residence while simultaneously preparing the future permanent homestead seems to present unexpected extra duties. So, besides working on the property to prep for gardening, working on the chicken run and house, fixing and working on the house, and the work involved in seasonal needs, we are also trying to gauge what can be packed and moved versus what needs to wait so we can continue having access to things (i.e., cookware and tools).

One small detail we had misjudged was seasonal clothes. Wow, have you ever tried working in 80+ degree weather with sweat shirts? Jim can work without a shirt, but not an option for me! Took a few days just to dig out the boxes of summer wear and before we could swap the contents. After winter stuff was packed up, we decided to keep off-season clothes in one spot versus scattered with everything else. Can’t believe this simple detail could make things so “interesting.”

We had a nice pile of firewood to move and split that was left over from this last winter. So, Jim began splitting up some of the logs. This makes it easier to stack at the house. So, Jim split half the logs, piled split and unsplit logs onto the trailer, moved it to the house, and made a nice stack for next winter.

Had a fun blessing in the midst of all the work, though. Mother’s Day. My oldest daughter gave me a gift certificate for my favorite body wash. My youngest daughter made a wonderful dinner for me at the house.

Her friend and Jim were put to work grilling some steaks, and Carol prepared all the side dishes. As a fun treat, she even had a bowl of Cheetos on the table (one of my weaknesses). Such a wonderful day!

Moving Heaven & Earth

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Weather was yucky for most of March, so we focused on things indoors. My big job was cleaning an original oil painting that I’ve been lugging around for decades. Cleaning an oil painting means working with a Q-tip and swabbing/cleaning one spot at a time. Since the painting is 5’x3-1/2′, it took most of the month. The first picture below somewhat shows midway the difference in the colors. The second is the final result.

The painting looks drab in the photos, but the colors are actually subtly vibrant.

Now that it’s finally warmer and non-wet, we figured out where our garden is going to be this year. It will be a 40′ x 20′ area for our first year.

I’m working the soil in the way my grandfather taught me — and the way his grandfather taught him, even though its a lot of work. Instead of attacking the area with a rototiller, this old method means digging in with a shovel and manually pulling out the weeds and sifting through the dirt, breaking up the clumps, and eliminating all roots from the soil.

Leaving the roots (whole or broken up), invites weed production later.

After the entire area is cleared of the weeds and their roots, then I will throw on top all the compost I’ve been making all winter and rototill everything together. Then let it rest for at least four days or until the next waxing moon (whichever is last) to begin planting. Here’s the before and after of one tiny corner.

I will be planting the Three Sisters together in the traditional manner, but all the rest of the veggies (onions, tomatoes, etc) will be more-or-less in the modern rows. I’m debating whether to plant perenials like garlic in the garden area or in the herb bed or in a separate area near our planned barbeque area. What do you think?

Hate to admit this, but after cleaning that one little patch (shown above), I felt like I had been run over by a steam roller. Gads, I am soooo out of shape! Of course, my aches have nothing to do with the fact that I’m almost 70 years old — it’s just that I’m out of shape!