The coffee mug–my keepsake box

Well, been a long time, hasn’t it? I’ve done a lot. Went to a Supernatural convention, meant to write about that. Started fostering kittens, meant to write about that. These events were always followed by “Hey, I should write about this.” Should is such a terrible word. Yes, it tells you when something needs to be done, but there’s not an absolute deadline with it, so you can just kind of waffle in the realm of “should” for as long as you want. That spits you out into the “should have” zone which dog legs right into “regret” where the toll is your will to do the thing you “should” have done.

But I’m here now. I’m in a place where I am ready to let go of the past to make room for the future. A lot of that letting go is going to be of objects that belonged to family members, or in some cases, to me. Things I’ve been holding on to because I felt they kept certain feelings and memories alive. I’ve often felt that it would be disrespectful of someones memory to let go of things. However, time has passed, and with that I was clubbed in the head with the “but what do YOU want” stick. What I want is not in these items. But these items do hold strong memories for me, good or bad. So I’m going to share them here, creating a kind of keepsake album on the internet. Because the internet is eternal, yes?

My dads coffee mug. I don’t remember exactly when I gave it to him, except I believe I was under the age of 10. I have a vague memory of getting it at some sort of pop up holiday shop where kids could go and shop for things for their parents. I could be mixing it up with something else, though. Where it came from is cloudy. The one thing I do remember about this mug was my dad used it every day until the end of his life. My mom would point to it as a way to that my dad showed his love. “See. He always uses the mug you gave him because he loves his little girl.” Was she right? I don’t know. Was it just that the mug was a convenient size and always there? I kind of think that was more likely. But every time we moved, the mug went with him on the trip. Maybe I’m not giving myself credit, or really giving my dad credit, for the impact I had on his life. It was a rough relationship. I never felt close to him. I never felt like his little girl. I didn’t have the bond with my dad a lot of other girls my age had. But that mug made it through the journey, used and unbroken.

I guess in some ways, I AM the mug.

I’ve been holding on to it as a last “good memory” of my dad. Its been sitting on the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet, unused and only occasionally glanced at. I think its time for that mug to move on and find a new dad to serve.

Christmas and stuff

I don’t know if its just me, but December has felt extremely long. Maybe its because I got the decorating done so early, had gifts wrapped and under the tree at the beginning of the month. Maybe its because its been so damn hot so I’ve been spending most of my time inside avoiding the weather. Perhaps its because I’ve only been sleeping in 3-4 hour burst for the past couple of weeks. Not sure, but it just feels damn long.

This year I at least did some things to take advantage of the holiday season. Zach and I went to the tree lighting in Winter Park, I did some holiday time shopping that wasn’t just online. We drove out to Moss Park to see their lights. We baked cookies, and I watched way too many cheesy made for TV Christmas movies with the same predictable plot. Still, I feel like I left a lot on the “wish I’d done it” list. I should probably make a note for next year to do those things.

Our tree, 2015
Oh Christmas tree, so sparkly

Today we exchanged gifts. Zach seemed to like what I picked for him, and I got way more than I feel like I deserved. The cats went crazy for their catnip toys, and we had people join us for a delicious dinner. For all intents and purposes, this was a good day.

Maybe I just make expectations too high for myself that I end up feeling like things didn’t really go well. There are things that I did this year that I didn’t get done in previous years, and Ziggy did not climb, eat, or knock down the tree, so I guess there’s that. Still, Christmas fills me with a bit of sadness now, especially with my parents gone and Zach growing up. I feel like one of these years I’m going to blink and be all alone. I’ve been extremely emotional (and tired) all week and part of me is glad that the year is coming to an end so we all get that proverbial “clean slate.”

Merry Christmas, everyone. Time to watch Harry Potter!


Valley of the hell dolls

The house organization/purge/clean-up continues. I’m making progress, even if it is slow progress.

I remember hearing my mom and grandmother mention “the dolls” from time to time, especially when they were talking about storage and space. There seemed to be great concern and reverence for these dolls. I don’t recall ever being shown dolls when I was a child, so there was this kind of air of mystery surrounding them. I wasn’t even sure where they were to be honest.

I imagined they must be antique dolls, rare and beautiful, so imagine my excitement when I was cleaning out a cabinet and finally came across some dolls! I literally gasped with excitement, and quickly started to place them all in a box so that I could look at them later, research them, find out what was so important about these dolls.

The doll that ended up in the top of the box isn’t that impressive. Her hair is messy, doesn’t look that special, so I’ve hesitated to go through them. Well, I’m sick of all the crap stacking up in the living room, so I started looking into the dolls, hoping that deeper into the stack I would find something special. Not so much.IMG_0147 Aside from having porcelain heads, they’re just dolls, and some of them are frankly just a bit creepy. I’ve been trying to do some research, and what I can find, these aren’t all that rare. Sure, some people are selling them on eBay for a nice price, but that doesn’t mean they are actually moving them at that price, especially with the numbers that are out there. But still, these are the elusive dolls! How exciting! They deserve respect because they were so loved.

Then today, it occurred to me–I’m not the one who loved them, bought them, or cared about them (then stuffed them away in a cabinet and never looked at them). It was the people that I loved most that loved those dolls, or coveted those dolls, or whatever. Those people are gone, and the dolls, or any money I could get from them, is not going to bring them back. Its not going to tell me where these dolls came from, the memories that they hold. These dolls can’t talk (thank goodness), and nothing that they do are going to bring back my loved ones to tell me those stories. The best thing I have of my mom, my grandmother, grandfather and dad, are the memories in my heart. That’s what’s going to keep them alive and with me, not some random dolls, or 34 freaking sake/tea cups (don’t even get me started).

I know to be happy, to make those around me happy, I want this house to be clean, uncluttered, and inviting! Its time to make the most of what I have now, and what’s ahead. I need to stop worrying about upsetting my mother or grandmother and just let stuff go. If that means donating something that could be valuable, so be it. Sure, the money would be super useful, but there’s no guarantee I’ll get much for any of it. The here and now and the people that I love and live with are what matter to me, along their happiness and sanity. I’ve never seen Frozen, but the title of that song everyone knows sure is resonating with me now.

Love and light, people. Enjoy the moment, the people you choose to surround yourself with, and enjoy the new moon tonight! New moons mean the beginning of something, so make something happen!


My house, at the beginning of the street

Ok, so the house is not legally in my name yet, but I have a meeting with a lawyer tomorrow to get the ball rolling. Here’s hoping its a smooth process.

The household has changed a lot since my dad passed. I’ve come to realize what a sad presence he was. Whether it was because he was ill, or depressed, most likely a combination of things. But the constant worry over him really brought things down. Yes, I miss him, but I know for sure that he’ much better off now.

Jon (and his cat Ziggy, who is currently having a psychotic meltdown on my bed over a hair tie) moved in at the end of January, and Zach moved into my parents old room. Zach’s room was painted a pleasant shade of blue, and I painted the smaller room he had occupied a calming gray, or at least I think its calming. I hope its not depressing.

Anyway, he moved in to help us out while we transition into living as a smaller family unit. He’s helping greatly with the bills, and maintenance type things that need to be done around the house. The thing is, he’s in the small bedroom, and I feel really bad about that! There’s plenty of storage space in there, but I have yet to clear it all out, as I didn’t have the time to do so before he moved in.

I know this is stressing him out, and I’m doing the best that I can to change it. Thing is, my grandparents (who originally owned the house, purchasing it while it was being built in 1961 for $20,000) had SO. MUCH. STUFF! Some of it is junk, for sure, a lot of it is stuff I don’t need and can donate. There are items that I want to hold on to, and then there are items that I don’t really want to keep, but they are old and I want them to go to a place where they will be appreciated for what they are. I’m trying antique stores, but some stuff is just really hard to move.

I’m trying to make the house a brighter, happier place, but at the same time, I’m creating piles of stuff that I have no idea what to do with, which makes for clutter, which makes for not happy rooms. I’m trying to mitigate that by making small changes here and there that make spaces feel better.

Living with someone we’re not related to, who is used to a different lifestyle, has been an adjustment for all of us. Its something we’re still fine tuning, and will continue to work on, but generally, the company is nice. Even if the cat is insane.

A little public service announcement

I’ve been threatening, in my head, to start blogging again. This was not the subject that I planned on leading with this, but I need to get it out there. Sit down and relax, because this may get long.

Just a friendly, yet mildly morbid reminder, dear readers: if you lose a loved one and have to plan their final rest, or you are looking to pre-arrange your own, or know someone that is, PLEASE AVOID BALDWIN FAIRCHILD AND DIGNITY MEMORIAL!! PLEASE!! I IMPLORE YOU!! DO ALL THAT YOU CAN TO AVOID THESE COMPANIES.

Making final arrangements for yourself, or a loved one, can be a stressful time. You need a funeral director/planner and cemetery that are ON. THE. BALL. to make your life easier. You’ve got a lot of decisions to make, and you need support, love, and options. When you call you need a friendly voice to answer the phone. You need people willing to work hard to provide you with what you need in a timely fashion. Trust me. I’ve done four of these so far.

I’ve dealt with Baldwin Fairchild for my grandfather, grandmother, mother, and more recently with Dignity Memorial (whom they’ve merged with) for my dad. I have had SO many headaches, as I’ve shared in the past. I do not wish this on any of you. For instance, and this may seem small, but my dad was a veteran. I was told that if I provided a copy of his discharge papers we would receive a flag in his honor. I supplied those papers at the end of November of last year. Its occurred to me, several times, that we never got that flag, which I know was something that was important to Zach. I made a phone call today, stated my case to a receptionist, and she, not the funeral director,  made a phone call and located the flag. This is a good thing.

If you followed my posts at the end of last year, you know about the difficulties and frustrations and flat out anger I was dealing with at my dad and the cemetery. After my mom passed, I set up, what I thought, were my dad’s final arrangements. I thought that I was planning for cremation, an urn, and placement in the niche with my mom. Turns out, all that I paid for was the cremation. Maybe some of the blame falls on me, I didn’t ask enough questions. I was just thinking back to my grandmothers pre-paid where everything except death certificates and an obituary were paid for, and thought I was getting the same thing. Of course, I was also still in mourning at the sudden loss of my mom, so asking all of those questions was not at the front of my mind. I am still glad, however, that my dads cremation was pre-paid, because in just over three years, the price of cremation through them more than doubled, nearly tripled.

Anyway, there turned out to be a space issue in the niche FOR TWO that they sold me in 2011, so I was given the dimensions for an urn that would fit, and was told to search for something on my own. I voiced my displeasure, so they searched and rooted around, finding an urn for his ashes (oddly the one I thought I’d chosen and paid for) and gave it to me for free.  However, we still cannot lay him to rest because they want $685 dollars to do so. To open the niche and place the urn inside. No ceremony, just placement. We did ask that his date of death be placed on the marker, since the marker is paid for and that would be done at no cost, providing us with a bit of a memorial for him. This was at the beginning of December 2014. I went to the cemetery to take flowers on Sunday (May 31) and it still has not been updated. I placed a call to, lets call her June, who has handled everything at the cemetery for me for my parents (and set up my dad’s cremation), today. She said she was surprised and would look into it.

This does not surprise me though. It took nearly four months to get the plaque placed when my mom died, but seriously. This is just adding a date. Five months, and nothing. Now, June is a very nice person, probably one of the nicer people I’ve dealt with. She’s also very forthright, which can be helpful when you’re making decisions, but also comes off as a bit brash. However, I’m beginning to question why so many problems have come up when I worked with her. I don’t know if its her, or the company, or both to be honest.

So if you can, save yourself the trouble and don’t use these companies if you can avoid them. There are other options out there. I wish I’d looked for someone else when my mom died, but since that was who I knew, that was where I went. The company has definitely gone downhill a great deal since 2008 when my grandmother died, and at that point they’d even gone further downhill from 1997, when my grandfather passed. And Dignity? They don’t deserve that name. They have been the least helpful and compassionate of all. You would think they would help families of veterans, who are sometimes entitled to compensation from the Veterans Administration, figure out the process. Instead, they just tell you to “check into it.” Its a MESSY place, and I really would have liked help because I still haven’t been able to wade through all their red tape and whatnot.

Also, please do consider pre-planning your final expenses if you are in a situation where you know what you want and can afford it, because the prices just keep getting more and more astronomical. Also, make sure you’re family and/or friends know what you want and make sure they will agree to honor that, pre-paid or not. Also, make a will. Please and thank you.

Love and light. Enjoy tonights full moon! Be bold and spontaneous!


Either karma decided to come kick me in the ass after that last post, or Murphy and his law moved in and has overstayed his welcome.

That Friday, my kitchen line backed up. The plumber came and tried to plunge it, leading to the fairly much anticipated death of the disposal. So there I was, looking at a nearly $500 plumbers bill to fix everything, and there was no way I was going to be able to pay for that until the following Tuesday. Luckily, I have really good friends and I bought a disposal and had it installed for a lot less than what the plumber was going to charge, cutting my plumbers bill by over half. We still had to have them come out Tuesday to clean the line because that had to be done through the roof vent, and I was not having friends climb on the roof with a heavy electric auger to try to do it themselves. The sink drain works beautifully now, so yay.

Last Monday, Zach and I went to the cemetery to discuss what we were going to do with my dads ashes. We ended up putting the decision off for a few more days, but ultimately we had him placed in the urn they were giving us (which is exactly like the one my mom is in, go figure) and we brought his ashes home. Hopefully I can get some money from the VA for burial expenses and we can place him then. Otherwise, not sure what we’ll do.

But Monday. Zach had a final after we went to the cemetery. He called me on the way home because the car overheated. Luckily, friends to the rescue again. Jon was able to troubleshoot with Zach over the phone, and Zach got the car home. Later that night Jon came and found the problem was a crack in my radiator. Instead of replacing it, its been JB Weld-ed for now. However, there is still a coolant leak, and some sort of gasket has to be replaced. Plus some other gasket was leaking oil. The oil leaking gasket was replaced this past weekend, and the other gasket will be replaced this weekend. Again, its a good thing to have friends because its only going to cost me parts instead of mechanic expenses too. Also might cost a few home cooked meals, and a few beers, but I’m glad to pay that.

I remained on high alert, waiting for something else to break. The first thing was me. I came down with a nasty cold and pretty much lost my voice for a couple of days. Then the pool pump wouldn’t prime. That is hopefully going to be resolved today. I’m still congested and have a bit of a cough, but I feel much better than I did.

People have really come through for me and been major helpers. I’ve got names and numbers for estate lawyers, I have Mr. Fix-its on call, and friends who will talk me off of a ledge. I am so truly thankful for all of them. And especially, I have Zach, who started decorating the Christmas tree himself because I was sick. Now its beautifully decked with much love and Christmas spirit.

Rage, anger, and swearing

This week has been fucktastic. Fucktacularly fucked. A fucking nightmare, if you get what I’m saying,

I found out that since I am not a beneficiary on my dads life insurance policy, I have to go through legal channels to get the money. My moms estate was never settled thanks to my dads reluctance, neither one of them left a will, I’m basically fucked, because I was going to use the life insurance money to settle the estates. Now I may have to hire an attorney even though I probably can’t afford a retainer. I really don’t know what’s going to happen. I half expect them to come throw us out of the house because we don’t own it. I don’t know if I can sell furniture that I wanted to sell because its probably property of the estates.

Then there’s Baldwin Fairchild/Dignity. Please, do NOT EVER use them. For anything. I beg you. When my mom passed, I set up prepaid for my dad, and that was paid in full a few months ago. I thought I set up to pay for cremation, an urn, and placement. Apparently, only cremation was covered. I had to pay for death certificates and cremation license, no biggie. However, the death certificates contain incorrect information and its going to take at least six weeks to get new ones. Great.

When I picked up the death certificates, I inquired about my fathers remains. The lady told me to call the cemetery to make sure he hadn’t “slipped through the cracks.” What does that even mean? I call there, they know nothing, I call the funeral director. Two hours later I still hadn’t heard back so I called again. Apparently the ashes are at the cemetery. I’m not entirely convinced they didn’t have to scramble to find them.

So, since I didn’t have an urn in that deal, I thought I was going to have to buy one. However, there was a problem–the niche for two? Well, there was a problem with space for the second urn. They had to do some hunting to find one that would fit. Luckily, I guess, they found one, and they are not going to charge me for it. However, if I want to place him in the niche, which means removing four screws, removing the small marble plate, placing the urn inside, and replacing the plate and screws, is going to cost $685. Up front. No financing available. What the actual FUCK is that? I can’t pay that, so I’m not going to.

At this point, I don’t know what I’m going to do with him. I go to the cemetery Monday morning to fill out paperwork and make a decision. My heart is telling me to finance a new plaque for the niche and leave my mom in their alone, even though it would cost a lot more than $685. As for my dad, maybe we could stash him in the garage. I do recall when I was pregnant he did say “You get bored with everything and stash it in the garage. You’ll do the same with that baby.” Well, I’m not exactly bored with him. More like LIVID. Perhaps the trash is a better option?

Rest in peace, fucker.

At a loss

Its been quite a while, hasn’t it?

For New Years, Jon and I drove to the west coast of Florida to see the sun set, then to the east coast for the sunrise. It was cloudy, so it was really more watching the sky get brighter, but it was cool, and windy, and the waves were crashing. It was beautiful. However, as I sat there, I felt a real sense of dread. I almost wanted to cry at the idea of having to face another year. I just had a bad feeling.

Things were up and down most of the year. Then in the beginning of July, my dad got sick and had to go to the hospital. We found out he had prostate cancer that had spread to the bones. The doctor rattled off numbers of values in the blood that I only understand were really high. He made a few more trips to the hospital for weakness, falls, and breathing difficulty. Finally, at the end of October, he came home from his last hospital stay with hospice care.

I didn’t know what to expect. They say people admitted to hospice generally are expected to live six months or less. He was weak when he got home, and I was so scared we weren’t going to be able to take care of him. He settled in and did a bit better, but then came the landslide. He had frequent falls, it didn’t seem like the medication we were giving him weren’t helping. On November 12th, his nurse decided that he should go to the hospice inpatient center so they could get his meds straightened out and get him stabilized. It took a few days but they finally got him settled, and he stopped waking up in the middle of the night agitated. We thought about bringing him home, but didn’t because he was so well taken care of and comfortable. We didn’t want to cause him stress.

On November 20th I got a call that they could not find a blood pressure, and his breathing had slowed. Due to kind of a freak thing, Jon was there when I got off the phone with the nurse, He took me down to the hospice center, and Zach followed shortly. We said our goodbyes to him. He was an intensely personal man, and it was my belief he would rather pass alone than with us hanging around him. He made it through the night, Zach visited him on the afternoon of the 21st. That evening, I got a call that he had passed quietly.

My dad and I weren’t terribly close. He felt weird having a daughter. He was an alcoholic. After his first fight with throat cancer and the laryngectomy, he could no longer speak, so he would just write to us when he needed something. The more time passed, especially after my mom died, the more withdrawn he became. Frankly, there were times that it was really difficult to be around him. He was angry and depressed, and you could just sense it. I know he was probably in a lot of pain from the cancer, and this past year that may have colored his attitude a bit, but he never asked for help. He was ready to go, so we helped him along as best we could, trying to make it a comfortable trip.

I miss him terribly now. The call from the nurse felt like the floor dropped out from under me. It felt, no, it feels so unfair to have lost both of my parents before I even turn 40. I know a lot of people have it worse, but right now I’m a little wrapped up in my situation. This has driven a couple of people away, it seems. People that were really there for me when I was anxious and unsure. I miss them. They know who they are.

I’m so blessed to have Zach. He’s been very strong for me. I just don’t know what to do, or how to feel. I’m so mixed up. I don’t want to face the holidays. I’m scared as hell about dealing with his and my mothers estates. I don’t feel like I have much to look forward to, and its making me a bit of a bitch I guess. A whiney, weepy one.

The stuff keeps rolling in

So last I posted, my dad had been taken to the hospital because of his arm. It turns out he broke his shoulder pretty badly. They wanted to admit him and do surgery the next day. He declined, left AMA, and came home in a sling. He said he needed more time to think about it. He was/is also rather mad at me for calling the paramedics. Honestly I figured they’d come, look at his arm, make a recommendation, he’d refuse, and they would leave. It just didn’t happen that way. He’s managing in the sling, and is doing most of his usual stuff. I just don’t get why he has to be so stubborn.

I’ve been all kinds of tense. Had my back adjusted at the doctor yesterday but now I’m having shooting pains through my lower back. Went in for a massage today, which helped a bit. I should have tried to book a 90 minute session. My blood pressure was a bit high yesterday too. Could be from stress, but it could also be from a medication that I’m on. Guess I’m going to have to monitor that.

My neighbors were having a garage sale today. I was about to leave for my massage appointment when some guy parked his jeep in our driveway. I went out and yelled for the owner. The guy says to me “That’s mine. Just a minute.” Um, excuse me? I yelled “NO. I am leaving NOW.” He came and moved his jeep. Its not like there wasn’t room to park in the street. Not sure what that guys malfunction was. I know what mine was–stress!

Hoping for a relaxing weekend. Would be nice to get in the pool or something. Something easy on my back would be nice.


Last Monday my dad was out “helping” Zach in the yard, and in his drunkenness he fell and hurt his arm. Initially the arm was bruised but then it started swelling. He wouldn’t let me take him to have it looked at. He was soaking it in hot water and epsom salts, not sure what that was supposed to do. Last night he started talking about his impending death. I guess he’s having trouble swallowing, so its possible the throat cancer is returning.

He was given kind of an ultimatum last night that we either take him to the hospital or call 911. He said give his arm one more day because it was getting better. Obviously it is no better today, so I called 911 knowing he would refuse to go, but at least if something happened to him and his arm looked like that there would be something on record  that I didn’t ignore the problem. The paramedics talked to him and he refused. They told him his arm was infected and if he didn’t have it treated he would go into sepsis and probably die. He said that was what he wanted and still refused treatment. They called out the people in charge of the unit, he still refused. They talked to a doctor who said bring him whether he wants to or not. They had to call the police to threaten to Baker act him to get him to go, but he finally went.

I imagine they will treat his arm. If the cancer is back, I seriously doubt he’ll want to fight it a third time. He’s depressed and ready to just die.

I’m just kind of beside myself with the whole thing. I feel like I shouldn’t have gone against his wishes. He’s not going to forgive me for this, and honestly I’m a bit frightened he might get violent with me. I feel like I should hide every knife in the house. Luckily the only gun we have is a really old rifle that is buried and hidden in the top of my closet. He doesn’t even know about it as it was my grandfathers.

I just feel so confused and stuck right now. I don’t know if I should even go to the hospital or if I should just send Zach.