A Burned Bridge Haunting

Since my last post, we’ve had:

An igloo built by the kids and Avdi;

A charcuterie/ family meeting, or, how to bribe kids;

Veg seedlings coming up and more seeds planted in the fine new Avdi-built prop extension;

A visit to the Zoo, featuring the all-important sleeping Capybara;

And other stuff I can’t remember.


I usually don’t talk about my personal inner life much, (or post selfies), but here goes.

Throughout all the above, I’ve been going through a very strange grieving process, for someone in my past who it turns out died years ago, and I never knew until recently.  The only way I found out was through a series of ever-intensifying dreams, unlike any others, which led me to look them up online and see the old obit.

It was a blow to my psyche.  I can only describe how I feel as despondent and helpless over the irreversibility and finality of it.  I had distanced myself from them long ago, another of my many burned bridges, so the chance of knowing in time to–what?, express empathy, say goodbye?–would have been slim and awkward.  Yet I feel deeply sad, for them dying in discomfort, probably not surrounded by many loved ones, and for myself.

I can’t go back in time, and I can’t reach closure.  I can’t fix what was broken, and what’s been lost.  It’s an extremely surreal, lonely, and guilty feeling.  Honestly, I didn’t miss them until now.  I think I need grief counseling or something stronger!  Or at least some like-minded peers to talk to.  I’ve lost other people in my life, and grieved deeply, but this one took me by surprise and totally threw me.  I can’t shake it.  I can’t find any meaning in it.

And now back to the dependable, boring programming you’ve come to expect.



Best Birthday and Family EVER

Avdi took me out to Gian-Tony’s on the Hill for a birthday dinner and drinks.  We actually got to sit in quiet ambience and talk and enjoy a meal together.  We even had tiramisu!  Thanks to Jess for taking care of the details and watching the kids.  It was a wonderful evening.  At home, E had baked me a perfect doughnut and made me a bracelet, K gave me cookies, Joyce came over and gave me a cake she had baked, and S offered to be my “servant” the next day!  Then I spent the night.

Erev didn’t quite come together as planned, due to some incidental circumstances, but E came to the rescue and salvaged the situation on their own initiative and insistence.  They even kindly listened as I shared a sorrowful personal discovery that shook me deeply.  A friend I used to be close to but lost track of had died of diabetes six years ago, and I only just found out because of a weird series of dreams.  It felt like a gut punch.  Out of nowhere I found myself crying, which rarely happens anymore.

It actually snowed all day.  The kids were all home for a long weekend, so it wasn’t technically a snow day, but they still enjoyed it.  I ended up just hibernating downstairs all afternoon, trying to process.  Meanwhile, a miracle happened.  E baked their first challot, which were excellent, and cooked a whole perfect dinner of fish, potatoes and salad, which were on the table right in time for Shabbat.  They are an amazing person.  I was so impressed and proud.

That strange cake-looking thing Avdi is contemplating at the restaurant is actually a giant stuffed artichoke…appetizer!



Bad News/Good News Cycles

And I’m not even referring to the actual terrifying news of another mass shooting practically in our backyard, the nazi-esque slaughter and genocide in Gaza, the nuclear space bombs Russia is developing to shoot down satellites, or even the case of Bubonic Plague (?!?) in Oregon.  What century am I still living in?!!  My nightmares are more enjoyable.

No, I refer to a typical mundane day in my life (even on my birthday) trying to search for basic assistance to survive.  Here’s today’s example:

Bad news: ACP (Fed. Affordable Connectivity Program under Biden) is probably ending in April, due to stupid repugs, so millions of poor Americans like me won’t be able to afford necessary internet connections that we depend on.

Good news: I qualify and was approved for Lifeline, a related but lesser internet assistance program.

Bad news: Spectrum doesn’t accept Lifeline (?!)

Good news:  Because I’m still on ACP until it ends, it turns out I qualify for a lower, more affordable Spectrum plan, which I immediately switched to.

If you substitute LIHEAP (the state energy assistance program I was on) and Ameren, you pretty much get an almost identical story.  Once again, stupid repug technicalities disqualified me, as they did with Medicaid, SNAP, etc, and I haven’t found an alternative yet, so I just switched to Ameren budget billing, and keep it even colder.

Bad news: My SSA net income raise, after deducting a higher premium for the essential dental I need, is actually lower this year, so I just break even.  I just keep jerry-rigging a system that will keep me above (or at) water level, and as self-sufficient as possible, so as not to be another burden on my son, who can’t afford it.

Good news: I’m getting medical financial assistance through the Mercy network, so that definitely helps keep the medical bills down.

Bad news: I have leukemia, for which traditional treatments (and some cancer assistance) don’t apply.

Good news: Because I have cancer, my food situation, thanks to a non-profit, Food Outreach, and a family member, is taken care of for now.  And I’m getting free rides to doctors through another great charity, Shepherd’s Center.  The drivers often refer me to yet other local charitable orgs for assistance with needs, or I share my info with them, so that’s a bonus connection.

Last but not least good news: my son is taking me out to a real Italian restaurant on the Hill for my birthday.  Through Jess’s help he was able to free up time.  So I guess you could say the Goods outweigh the Bads every time.

PS–Bad: I didn’t get to play with all the toys in this therapy room, just stare at a huge screen with disco lights while doing head exercises (vertigo treatment).

Good: my orchid is happy it’s my birthday.



It’s (Un)official

  1. The first crocus of the season.
  2. The first indoor seed-sowing .
  3. Erev my birthday.

Yesterday at A’s, I planted the first three flats in the prop. station: leeks, scallions, cilantro, two varieties of broccoli, kale mix, pak choi, collards, and tatsoi (bok choy).

First crocus sighting is always happy.

My birthday, maybe not so much, but at this stage it’s an accomplishment just to keep living.

In less good news, S once again got suspended (from half days!).  Apparently he got aggressive and had to be restrained.  Ironically, at home he’s been improving on self-regulation, voluntarily doing routine self-care he normally goes to pieces over, and playing outside for hours.  He’s less disruptive during work hours and somewhat more respectful of personal boundaries.


Learning the Art of Family

At this point it’s repetitious to say I returned to spend the night at Avdi’s again, because it’s where I spend most of my time.  This time, Avdi and Jess got to go out for a much-needed respite.  The kids and I seem to have found an agreeable, mostly calm accord.  If someone needs to go have a meltdown or be to themself, I take it more in stride, or just wait it out without interfering.  They seem fine with me being a fixture there.

Yesterday (Sunday) was household tasks and organization day.  Avdi and the kids worked on assembling more furniture for organizing their room, so they have more space to work with under their lofts.  Down the basement, I mixed seed starter and filled peat pots in flats.  Avdi assembled some shelving down there for more storage, and I organized the prop area, while he prepared to set up and expand the space for grow lights and heat mats.  Pretty soon it will be ready to begin sowing.

Later we had Sunday evening charcuterie and a family meeting around the table to pick out favorite meals for weeknights, and finally sort out everyone’s belongings that had been piling up.  There was some resistance as usual, but eventually the goals were accomplished, with some amusement.

The days have been warming up a little, and S has been spending lots of time in the afternoons playing outside, with me or the neighbor kids, or alone.  He’s starting to take more initiative to manage basic tasks without meltdowns or resistance.  He even offers to help me sometimes.  It’s encouraging to see him learn to be more functional and appropriate, with the help of tweaking the meds.

Y has been very moody and adversarial (probably exacerbated by hormonal changes), interspersed with manic playfulness.  I try to just be pleasant and sensitive, or just stay out of their way.

I can almost sense the end of winter just over the horizon.  Then I’ll be busier (or deader) than ever!



Spring Tease-and-Freeze

I practically live at The Avdi’s now, hence the lack of updating.  There’s been a whirl of playing outdoors with S, S playing with “the little buds” next door, cooking and cleaning, organizing the growing area, my vertigo therapy, and occasional visits to the apartment.

Thanks to Food Outreach, I now have lots of healthy food, but little time to fix it; in fact, I have so much, I’m donating to the family cause.  Which is fine, since I owe them big time.  I mean, look at that charcuterie spread!

Spring is teasing and taunting, then retracting.  But momentum is building.  I used to hate my birthday being in the middle of February, but now I appreciate it as the seed starting and flower bud emerging month.  Just on the verge of hope.


February Spring Dreams

I spent most of the last few days and nights at Avdi’s.  Shabbat went nicely.  I made an Asian-style salmon, ramen, and spinach frozen from the garden.  The kids got to go to a musical at the HS with Jess.  The next day Avdi and E got to go hiking at Castlewood State Park along the Meramec River.

Some of the visit is lost in the fogbrain of being under the weather, but at least I didn’t break any more body parts.  I went home briefly and compiled a garden schedule for the coming season; I also ordered seed-starting supplies.  Then I returned for another night.  E had baked some of their trademark confectionary.  They even figured out how to make candied pomelo.  Avdi and Jess got to go out together to friends’.

Today E and I reorganized and sorted the laundry room storage areas in preparation for setting up propagation.  We got a lot done.  Then I drove home (Jess’s car) and ordered the rest of the seeds for this year.  Flower bulbs are starting to pop up in the garden already.

My nights have been either sleepless or nightmare-filled for some reason, so I hope to catch up on sleep while at my apartment, then get more done at Avdi’s during the week.



Metaphysical Alchemy

They sent me back to the eldritch chair; here it is in all its lurid weirdness.  Actually, it’s pretty comfortable, except when the crazy disco lights convince you the chair is spinning, when it’s really your brain.  Sometimes you’re in agitation or spin cycle.  It all happens in a pitch black closed compartment with a disembodied voice talking you through it; not for the claustrophobic.  I even get to do homework twice a day online, in case I miss all the dizziness designed to fix my vertigo!  Some kind of metaphysical alchemy going on there…

Thankfully that was the only outing I had to go on this week, since this cold has really put me under the weather.  The good news is, with all the free food I was able to score through the generosity of others, I’m eating a more healthy and balanced diet.  It’s a much-appreciated luxury.

Tomorrow I’ll probably be back to the family Shabbat preps and other diversions.

Cancer, with Benefits

I forgot a couple of photos from Shabbat, so I’m including them here.

Today I received my first monthly free food delivery from Food Outreach.  It’s for cancer and other patients who will benefit from a healthy, balanced diet but can’t afford or access it.  I was overwhelmed by the volume of produce, frozen fish and meats, frozen chef-made entrees and sides, and non-perishable pantry staples.  It looked like enough to feed a village.  I guess having cancer is not all bad!  Between that and the Instacart membership and gift card from Robert and Bob, I won’t starve for at least a year!

As I suspected, I didn’t get away with not catching the sore throat and cold from the kids.  Between my compromised immunity and my vertigo, which can be brought on or made worse by infections, it can be more than just an annoyance.  At least I had a healthy, balanced meal today!  Tomorrow I have the first of seven therapy sessions for my vertigo, probably featuring The Chair, electrodes, and other capital punishments, for which I need to be not sick.  Can’t wait.


Reasons to Not Die

It seems I tell time now by specialist procedures.  Since my last ignominious incident of the fridge fall, I revisited perio for  dental suture-removal.  Now I just heal for a few months for the next steps.  The foggy view from their window was not my brain (or was it?).

Then I spent some more entertaining time with the mob, er, Family.  My gkids are very sharp-witted and crafty, when not having a meltdown.  Y is really coming out of their shell.  I enjoy getting to know them better and watch them lowering their defensive walls.

Shabbat happened as usual.  My challah continues to outdo itself in perfection.  We seem to spend more time just schmoozing around the table each week.  S is learning the hard way that some of his inadvertent inappropriate behaviors can cause painful injuries for others.  He is also learning to do basic tasks like going potty without going berserk.

It’s actually almost February, which besides featuring my birthday, means it’s time to start the spring seedling process down in A’s prop cave.  This will be my second spring in STL.  I intend to be there for it.