Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Doing Windows

What follows is a mostly accurate (I may have forgotten a few things - if it was more than ten minutes ago I refuse to be held accountable for remembering all the details) of several calls received over several days.  Yes, really.
The house phone rings.  I stop washing dishes, dry my hands on my shirt, check the caller ID, and answer.
"Hello?"  A heavily accented, sounds Indian, male voice queries.
"Hello."  My voice is flat - whatever he's selling, I ain't buying.
"Yes, this is Shayne from Microsoft calling about your computer..."
I interrupt - this isn't my first dance.  "Which one."
"Oh, ah, the, ah, the one with windows..."
"Which one?"
"Ma'am, your computer is reporting a problem to Microsoft..."
"No it isn't.  This is a scam.  I will now be reporting the number you called from to the FCC.  Have a nice day."  I hang up.

It IS a scam, by the way.  Microsoft would rather burn their collective hair than actually call you.  They don't even want you to call THEM!  They would rather you simply take a sledgehammer to your current PC and buy a shiny new machine.  I think the computers are actually designed to go kerfluey after a certain amount of time.  Planned obsolescence and all that.  These people calling me?  They want to seize root and make my computer do things, or steal my information, or get me to pay them to "fix" this problem they say I have at a substantial cost to me.

The house phone rings.  I stop folding laundry, check the caller ID, and answer.
"Hello?"  A heavily accented, sounds Indian, male voice queries.
"Hello."  My voice is flat - he's interrupting my day.
"Yes, this is David from Microsoft calling about your computer..."
I interrupt.  "David, huh?  What's your real name?"
"Ma'am, my name is David and..."
"If your name's David than I'm the Queen of Sheba."
"Uh, Ma'am, I am calling because your computer..."
"Which one."
"Oh, ah, the, ah, the one with windows..."
"Which one?"
"Ma'am, your computer is reporting a problem to Microsoft and..."
"Which computer?  In this house we currently have three PC towers, four laptops, a some kind of Mac thingy and a Frankenstein.  Which one is reporting a problem?"  No, I don't really have that many machines in here, but he doesn't know that.
"Uh...your computer with Windows is reporting a virus to our repair center and our technician in your area..."
"No it isn't.  This is a scam.  I will now be reporting the number you called from to the FCC.  Have a nice day."  I hang up

The only way your computer reports a problem to Microsoft is if YOU tell it to.  If it's off, or even in suspend mode, it's not telling anyone anything but "Zzzzzzzzz..."

The house phone rings.  I put down the mop, wipe my brow, check the caller ID, and answer.
"Hello?"  A heavily accented, sounds Indian, male voice queries.
"Hello."  You'd think they'd learn.
"Yes, this is Ron from Microsoft calling about your computer..."  It's always "Ron" or "David", isn't it?  Why can't they at least TRY to be interesting?
I interrupt, because really..."Which one."
"Oh, ah, the, ah, the one with windows..."
"Which one?"
"Ma'am, your computer is reporting a problem to Microsoft..."
"Which computer?  I have several of them."
"Ma'am, your computer, the one with Windows, has communicated that there is a virus in your area and we need to repair it or...
"No problem, I got this."
"Ma'am, excuse me, but you should only let someone from Microsoft make such a repair..."
"No, I got this - it's that sonofabitch roommate of mine.  He's been watching donkey porn again and infected my system, I bet.  Well, me and the Louisville Slugger know how to deal with him AND his diseased computer!  Right after I call the FCC and report the number you're calling from for fraud."

These people prey on the weak, the frightened, the ignorant, the elderly...they deserve to get a little of their own back.

The house phone rings.  I pry my eyes open, awakened from the nap I was trying to take because my head feels like small explosions are regularly being set off somewhere in the middle where I can't reach with an ice pick to make it stop, check the caller ID, and answer.
"Hello?"  A heavily accented, sounds Indian, male voice queries.
"Hello."  My voice is groggy and flat - It's on, now, assholes.
"Yes, this is Bob from Microsoft calling about your computer..."
I interrupt, making myself sound a little older and more feeble.  "My what?"
"Your computer ma'am, it is reporting a problem with Windows..."
"My computer doesn't have windows, it has a screen."
"No, the one with Microsoft Windows..."
"Soft windows aren't very effective.  I prefer the ones made of glass."
He's quiet for a moment.  "Ma'am, your computer with the Microsoft program Windows is reporting a problem with..."
"What about my windows?  I just had them washed!"
"No, ma'am, there's a problem with..."
"You bet there is.  I paid you people to wash all my windows outside and the top ones are still filthy.  Shame on you for taking my money, I'm only living on Social Security and ate cat food for a week to pay you!"
"No, ma'am, we didn't clean your windows!  Your computer has a problem with Windows and we need to..."
"Bob...I knew a Bobby once, shifty eyed fellow who never tied his shoes the right way and always smelled of musty rutabagas, are you THAT Bob?"
"No, ma'am..."
"No, you wouldn't be, I don't think he knows how to use a phone OR clean windows properly.  Are you going to come do my top windows or not?"
"Ma'am, I am calling from Microsoft..."
I'll give him this, he's persistent.,  A lesser scammer would have hung up by now, sure I was having him on.  This fellow's no slouch, though, and he is determined to get to the end of his script or die trying.
"Bob, why won't you come fix my windows?  The one in the second floor bathroom squeaks, too, and the least you could do is fix it since you didn't do a proper job before."
"No, ma'am, I'm calling because there's a virus in your Microsoft Windows which is causing a problem with your computer..."
"Oh, no, that's not possible, I have those fancy, double hung Andersen windows, I don't think a virus could get through those...neither can sunlight since you didn't clean them right."
"Ma'am, Microsoft..."
"No need to get personal , Bob.  When you reach my age, you'll be a little soft, too..."
At this point, Bob gives up and ends the call before I can tell him I'm reporting his number to the FCC.


The next few times they called I waited until they said my computer was reporting a problem and told them "No, it isn't, this is a scam and I will now be reporting the number you called from to the FCC."

I'm working on my next whammy...maybe something along paranoid lines, since i DO have that and why shouldn't I have some fun with it?

I despise people who prey on others like these scammers are doing, and I think a little righteous fuckery is justified.  Who's with me?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Here It Comes

No, not my nineteenth nervous breakdown.  Honestly, I bet I've had enough psychological events to count for at least treble that number!

No, I mean Autumn, Fall, the transition between HolyHellIt'sHot! to OhmuhgoodnessWillItEverBeWarmandDryAgain? that never lasts quite as long as I'd like or grew up with in more northern climes.

Yes, the days are still rising into the mid-to-upper nineties.  Yes, it's still warm and humid at night, humid enough to feel like one is breathing through a wet sponge.  Yes, the AC is still laboring to keep it even a degree or two cooler than outside.



But...there's the light.

It changes.  Stealthily, the shadows alter their creeping courses across the floor, the walls, the yard.  The moon comes around by a different path, and the sun is zealous for shorter hours. It all slowly adds up, and there's a part of my brain that is aware and anticipating the coming coolth.  That part of me is thinking about roasts and soups and making sure the blankets are washed and ready.  It'll be months before we need blankets, but my brain doesn't care - it want's them washed now.

More than any other season, I am aware of Autumn.  It is my favourite time of year.  Too bad it never lasts very long around here - I'd happily shave some weeks off of the Summer and append them to cooler months of vivid colors, leaf piles, harvest, and the inevitable turning of the year.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

And Now? Kittehs!

Sprout has discovered the Youtubes.  She is constantly asking to watch "bideos".  Here's one of her favourites - she laughs like a maniac every time she sees it.

I love the way she laughs at these things.  Makes me smile every time.

What To Do, What To Do...

The morning started like this:

I'm still in bed, just got off the phone with a friend, trying to figure out how my day will go...or not...

I hear shrieks from outside, where Sprout has gone to frolic with the cats.

In the space between breaths I am dressed and have teleported out the door (it's one of the Mom super-powers we're issued when we have kids, only usable in case of emergency or blood-curdling shrieks.  Look it up in the handbook).  Sprout is at the foot of the stairs, sobbing.  She hears me open the door, turns her tear streaked face up to me, and clambers up the steps.

I pick her up, she leans against my shoulder, and between sobs tells me "Mumble garble grubbin dablo fuffle me!"
Me, in reply "Oh, dear.  Are you okay?"
"Mumble dablo warf garble way!"
"Diablo?"  I feel like I'm trying to understand Esperanto that's spoken backwards with a speech impediment.
"Was Diablo in the yard?"
"Did he scare you?"
"He was mean!"
"Did he bite you?"
"Did he growl at you?"
"He barfed at me and then he ranned awaaaa-aay!"
"Did he hurt you?"
"No, her hurted my feeeeeee-lings!"
"Oh...okay, then..."

Seem that the neighbor's dog, the dog that belongs to the cop?  Once again running loose.  He came into our yard, probably to harass the kitties or snarf the food I give them up on the porch.  Since Sprout adores the kitties, she probably tried to explain to Diablo that he shouldn't be messing about with them.  He barked, scared Sprout, and she shrieked, which made him bark again and run away.


I like Diablo.  He's a big old scaredy-dog, can't stand thunder or fireworks or loud noises and will run over here when he's hot, thirsty, scared, or lonely.  He's not a bad dog at all...but he's not my dog and he shouldn't be wandering about like that.  He frightens delivery people and workmen and anyone who doesn't know he's just a big baby.

Much as I may like him, something needs to be done.  I can't sit outside every time the kids want to go out and play, and I am loathe to let them out there without someone watching over them because of this dog.

Because Diablo's human is a police officer, I am loathe to have any dealings with him...which leaves me with animal control...but I don't think a dog should be punished for being, you know, a dog.

What's a gal to do?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

So, How Was YOUR Day?

This was my morning.  While I am angry and tired and disgusted, I have tried very hard not to be guilty of hyperbole.  It may be a one-sided telling, but I believe I have a right to speak my piece, to tell of my experience, and that it should be expected that what I write is colored by my worldview, even when I try to be impartial.
Today the police came and searched my home because some anonymous person complained that there was pot here.  There was not.  The officers searched every room and broke a piece of furniture, made a mess on my bed, left doors open and lights on, messed with things on my altar, even rearranging some of them, questioned my son under the guise of friendly chatter, and left with...nothing.  Oh, wait, that's not true.  They left with, and I quote, "a speck of something that we'll have to test" from a plate they left behind the last time they were here and that I missed when I was cleaning the house after their last visit.

They intentionally waited until Someone was not at home to come in.  They TOLD me they knew he wasn't home, and later I found out one of them had followed him as he left, until he was on the highway.  They had NO warrant.  They would not tell me who made the complaint.  They told me I could not make any phone calls but relented when I let them know I was supposed to be taking a friend to the hospital and she needed to know I may be late or unable to make it. They wanted to know my friend's name and hovered over me so they could hear the call.  They didn't want me to answer when she called back.  They told me that I have no fourth amendment rights because Someone waived HIS when he got his bond and he lives here.  After I talked to my friend, they told me I could not call anyone else, and they didn't want me to move from the couch.  They demanded the combination to MY cash box (it's empty, but still...) and opened and rifled through MY camera case, dresser, closet, and night stand.

They searched places they searched before, places they'd left evidence behind last time but that, thanks to a friend, were now clean.  They never told me, last time, that they'd left evidence behind, and I am fairly certain they intended to come back today, "find" that evidence, and use it to create new charges that would, under local law, mean Someone spends the rest of his life in jail, period.  They were clearly unhappy to have found nothing, taking extra care and spending extra time where they thought evidence should have been.

After finding nothing but a somewhat messy, cluttered, chaotic house, one officer entered my son's room, called me over, and informed me that it was too messy, that he KNEW nothing had changed since the last time he was here, and that I MUST have it cleaned to HIS satisfaction the next time he was here or he would call DFCS on me.  He did not acknowledge all the cleaning the Evil Genius and I have done in the last few days, the difference in the bed and the floor, how much cleaner the rest of the house is, none of it.  He took photographs of my son's room so "Now there's a record", and asserted he knew NOTHING had changed since last time and it had better "look like a catalog picture" the next time he was here "or else".

So now I know they plan on coming back and doing this all again as LEAST one more time.

But it's okay...I'm a deadbeat and a bad mother and Someone is a criminal, so we don't have any rights, do we?  If we were normal people who everyone liked, maybe someone would care, but nah...he has a past, is dealing with addiction, and has made himself unpopular in the world at large, and I'm on food stamps, mentally ill, and worthy of disdain.  We're the ones you tell your kids not to turn into, so it's okay.  The constitution doesn't apply to us, does it?

Spending the Lottery Money

What'd you do if you had a pile of money?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sprout Moments

"Where's Papa?"
"He's in the bathroom."
"Oh.  I go see him!"
And off she runs.
She wants to know where he is, what he's doing, watch him, help him, keep him in sight so he doesn't disappear again.
It is dinner time.  She drags her plate over to Someone's spot, climbs on his lap, and eats with him.  He takes a bite, she takes a bite.  Then she feeds him a bite.  She tells him what's on her plate and which things taste good together.  She leans against him, wraps her little arms around him, says softly "I love you Papa, I'm glad you're back."
She climbs down and scampers off, only to return a few minutes later for some more lap time and a bite or two.
She scampers up to him, hugs him tight, says "I missed you!", then does a little dance and runs off to play.
"Where's Papa going?"
"He needs to run an errand."
"I can go too?"
"Not this time, honey girl."
"He will come back?"
"Yes, sweetie, he will come back."
"He isn't going away?"
"Only for a few minutes, and then he will be home again."
She watches out the window until he returns.
"Papa's home!  Papa's hooooooome!!!" and she dances about.
He is sitting n the lounge.  I smacked her bottom for being rough with the cat.  She is insulted more than hurt, but Papa is a good audience so she is hamming it up.  I turn on her new favourite show on Netflix (Thank you, T, for sharing your account with us) and she lifts herself off the floor and climbs onto Someone's lap, leans against him.  He wraps an arm around her and she relaxes, head on his shoulder, watching the TV, safe and warm in Papa's lap.
He has been home one day shy of two weeks.  In that time, she has been his shadow.  When she isn't tagging along behind him, she is asking where he is, where he's going, what he's doing, when he'll be back, if she can help him, if he'll play with her, read to her, sleep in her room at night.  She is gorging herself on his presence, a glutton for Papa.  If he is gone for too long, she watches for him.  If he's in the garden or the yard, she insists on going out to be with him.  She's getting lots of garden time, tanned skin, and millions of mosquito bites and she is over the moon to have him home.
"Papa, I wanna watch bideos with you."
They turn on Youtube and find things to watch, mostly animals, occasionally music or educational things.  She sits on his lap and giggles, holds his arm, leans against him.
Every morning she climbs over me, plops between us, nestles in, sighs, and drops back into deep sleep.  Sometimes she will lay her head on my shoulder, sometimes on Someone's.  She throws her arm around him, as if to keep him there.  She gets up with him to make coffee - he lets her push the button on the grinder.
We are living in uncertain times.  The court system is slow, grinding along.  We have no idea when, or even if, there will be an indictment or trial.  We just have to wait.

The novelty of having him back will wear off eventually - she's only three, after all - but he will always be her Papa, her favourite, and they are both making up for lost time and perhaps storing some away against future need.  I watch, and wait, and hope for the best.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I've been depressed since six years of age.  Not just a little sad or moody, full on clinically, deeply, sometimes-I-struggle-to-breathe depressed.  I've been suicidal so many times, I've lost count.  I'm still living because of a promise.  I'm not always happy about that, but my word is sacred to me and I won't be forsworn.

Despite the depression, life is beautiful.  Perhaps more beautiful because of the endless sorrow that dogs me.

Every time I hear of or know a person who takes the final step, I am so deeply saddened.  I wish they'd had the one thing that would have helped them hang on one more time.  I wish I could have sat with them in that timeless moment and shown them...I don't know...whatever they needed to see that they were needed, valued, wanted, here.

I am sometimes envious - they're not here, not dealing with it any more.  They are free in a way I cannot be while on this side of the veil.

I've said it before and I'll say it again and again - suicide isn't about wanting to die.  It's about NOT wanting to continue living this way, and NOT seeing any way out.  It is about escaping a life that seems untenable, irreparable, undesirable. It's about being so steeped in misery that it'll never wash away, we'll never be clean, we'll never shine again.

Want another perspective?  Go read this.

Anyone who goes on about how it's selfish and the person doing it wasn't ill but rather made a choice has (I would argue) NEVER actually been in that moment, inches away from the door and so damned ready to step through they would leap.  Because they'd know it isn't about who's left behind...indeed, the one doing the leaving KNOWS they'll hurt the ones left behind, but they often believe, deeply, to the bone, that the people they're abandoning will be better off without them.  I have always thought so.  Even my kids.  Especially my kids.  They'd miss Mommy for a minute, but then?  They'd have a much better life without me being the albatross around their necks.

If depression is a choice, so is cancer.  They do the same thing, don't they?  Eat away at you until there's nothing left?  Eat away at you until cessation of life seems preferable?  Eventually, they can both be beaten, or at least held in abeyance...and eventually, they can both kill you.

It's okay if you don't understand...I hope you never do...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Shadow Play

Robin Williams committed suicide.  Hanged himself, according to early reports.  Damn.

My neck hurts.  It's not one of those my-muscles-ache kind of hurts, nor is it one of those rub-it-and-it-will-feel-better hurts.  It is a sharp, throbbing, stabbing, intrusive, all the way to the top of my head and down to the base of my spine, nauseating, please don't make me move hurt.  My head aches from the back forward, in waves.  It started when I yawned yesterday.  Yawned.  Now I have to stretch and limber up to yawn?

I was sitting on the overstuffed lounge this afternoon, head tipped back, just trying not to cry, because I hate crying just because of a little pain.  I drifted in and out of a light doze, hearing bits and pieces of life going on here at Casa de Crazy.  Someone was listening to a documentary on Youtube, the kids were playing, the cats were happy for me to sit still so they could nest on me.  I woke up fully in the early evening.

I sat looking at shadows before me.  The sun was setting behind me, across the cul-de-sac.  Light from the waning rays filtered through the branches of the Pink Popcorn Tree (aka the ornamental cherry) and into the living room, and the wind set the leaves on the tree to dancing, which made the shadows flutter on the floor, the table, the couch.  The shadows spread as the sun sank further, until there was no light left and only a greyness remained.

I love watching the leaves dance in the wind.

The shadows will spread.  The trick is hanging on to the surety, even through the deepest doubt, that the sun will shine again, behind the clouds, through the leaves, spread its syrupy light across the floor, turn the cats into puddles of fur in the window.

So far, I have not forgotten the sun, despite frequently wondering if it has forgotten me.

I'm so sorry, Robin.  You gave me laughter countless times, and shone through the darkest days.  I wish I had known you, and could have given you shelter through the storm.  I wish you hadn't been driven that one inch too far.  I wish that you could have held on to the surety that the sun would rise again.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Some Day This May Be Funny

This was my afternoon/early evening:

The AC froze up (it does, sometimes) and I had to turn it off, turning Casa de Crazy into something resembling a sauna.

Tried to catch a few winks, but Sprout was offended at the idea of me NOT being tired and grumpy, so she decided to clamber up onto the bed every fifteen minutes or so, just long enough for me to doze off but not get any real sleep.

Got up, went into the bathroom and wondered what the hell was all over the floor, the wall, the toilet, and why was the toilet bowl empty and what the hell happened to the cat box?!?  Ah...Sprout happened.  In between bouts of Waking Mama, she emptied the water from the toilet bowl into the cat box, making a lovely, mucky clay that she used to redecorate a little.  Lucky I'd just cleaned the box...but now I was out of litter and the box would have to be changed.

Went to the grocery store with a reluctant Sprout, spent the last of my money on something for dinner and cat litter because they refuse to use the toilet like civilized people.

Got home, got groceries out of the van and into the house, sent children outside to play.  Got the litter box squared away, cleaned the wall, floor, and toilet, came back out to the kitchen to the wailing of my daughter.  She had fallen into some dirt outside and got it in her eyes.  And boy, howdy, did she ever have some dirt in her peepers!  I peeled open one of her eyes and it was coated in crud.  I stripped her, put her in the tub, and dumped clean water over her eyes to wash them, then used damp q-tips to wipe the crud out.  She cried and hated it, but she kept mostly still and let me get it done.

After Sprout's eyes were clean, she went outside to play again, Evil Genius in tow.  I took some things down to the garage freezer and noticed something...odd...about Rosie, my beloved Astro Van.  After putting the frozen things away, I checked Rosie out.  What the...?  Powdery mildew has attacked the interior, creating a sort of furry coating on everything in there.  There's a black puddle of I-don't-know-what on the garage floor beneath her.  The battery is dead.  One of the rear tires is low.  All this in the two weeks since I last started her and let her run for a few minutes.  So now I'm down to one van running and the other is going to need towing to the service center to be worked on because even if I could start her, I'd be afraid to driver her anywhere.

As I was wiping a little of the mildew way, I started sneezing and wheezing, which, duh, I am allergic so no surprise!  A kitten began meowing piteously at me, so I had to pick him up and love him for a few minutes and I got fleas all over me for my trouble, so I had to de-shirt before coming in the house, risking blinding a neighbor in the process, but luckily he was busy in his truck and didn't notice.

I came inside to find that the living room I'd cleaned up twice already today was once again a mess and a cat had barfed up something slimy and gross right where I would usually put my foot as I was entering the kitchen, but luckily didn't this time, because I may have had to sit down and cry.

I am not a drinker, but I could learn...