Consequences

Today I heard a story that is breaking my heart. I need to emphasize no charges have been filed, and therefore I’m using no names.

A little background: years ago, I became friends with a co-worker and ultimately, even better friends with his wife. When I was struggling, they opened their doors to me. I held their two youngest daughters when they were hours old. They were good friends.

Then, sadly, they got a divorce, and since sides are inevitably taken, I took hers. Without going into details, he betrayed her in a terrible manner.

currency-no-bkgd-smHe started dating a woman who looked eerily like her. She (the girlfriend) moved into his home, formerly their home, and began spending lavish amounts of money renovating the house, buying vehicles for him and the two oldest girls, and numerous extravagant vacations. Since both worked for the government, it was a mystery where all this money was coming from.

Which brings us up to recent events. Three weeks ago, FBI and IRS agents showed up at the offices of the girlfriend, requesting certain records in search of the answers for some accounting irregularities. After allegedly confessing to the crime of embezzling an unspecified amount of money over the last eight years, she was fired.

Whether or not he still has his job with that same organization is unclear. What is certain is that federal agents are continuing their investigation, and any charges will be federal. Which means federal prison. Not a pretty thing to anticipate happening in your life.

upside-down-turtleI’ve never met this woman, the girlfriend, but I want to scream, WHY? Why did you do this to yourself, your boyfriend, HIS DAUGHTERS, the citizens in your community?  I refuse to judge her as harshly as some, but my heart is first with those four young girls whose world is about to be turned upside-down once again.

If you are committing a crime, eventually you will be caught. Your family, friends, co-workers, cats, dogs, and hamsters will all be affected. You may be getting away with it now, but the story is not finished. The future is uncertain, and bleak.

Think twice, then think again.


Unfinished


Photo Credits: (money) Pixabay; (turtle)  © cagan – Fotolia

More Stories Than Time to Tell Them

While my hand is healing, I’m re-publishing some favorite posts from the past. This one has special meaning as several friends have lost their mothers since I first posted it in October, 2015.
home free IIIMy mom called today, and with shaking voice, clearly in pain and a little pleading, said she’s having hip surgery, and asked if I would be there to help her when she came home.

“Of course,” I said immediately. It didn’t matter the day, the week, the month. Of course I’d be there. My mom will be 80 next year, and I’m not going to miss any opportunity to spend time with her. She lives 700 miles away, and if anything were going to truly prompt me to move, shortening that distance would be it.

My boss & friend, Beverly, is planning for her mother’s 90th birthday party later this month. Ruby, her mama, is a wonderful woman, funny, engaging, and almost always cheerful. She’s also lost much of her memory. While she’s been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s, no one’s quite certain if that diagnosis is entirely accurate. Certainly there’s dementia, but so many of the other telling signs of Alzheimer’s aren’t evident. Yet.

Ruby’s excited about her upcoming party. Her oldest son has flown in from Thailand, and until he arrived, she was telling everyone he’d be taking her to Hawaii for two weeks. Now she’s saying Beverly will be the one traveling with her.  Sometimes we hear about a boyfriend, Ray, and his private plane. Truth is, there’s no trip to Hawaii planned (and as far as we know, no Ray). It’s quite possible later this winter we’ll hear tales of her imagined vacation, and her memories of the birthday party may be of conversations and such that never take place. As long as she’s happy, no one cares.

dancersSome of her memories are very real, and she surprises those who love her with the chance telling of them. One friend over & over hears the story of Ruby’s engagement to her first husband, Beverly’s father.

It was the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, and Ruby and her friends were at a picnic (it was the South, so yes, a picnic in December). The food was wonderful, the sky was bright and everyone was dancing when they heard the news of what would be the start of U.S. involvement in WWII. Coy, the man Ruby was dating, told her they’d marry before he left for war so she’d always be taken care of in case something happened to him.

Beverly had never heard this story. She knew her parents had gotten married before he went off to war, but the details about Pearl Harbor and the picnic were new.

She doesn’t want to lose her mother and all the untold stories that will go with her.

The last time I visited my mom, we sorted through some pictures. When we came upon a photo of a particularly beautiful young woman, Mom told me about her best friend, Lee, who was killed in a plane crash when she was only 26.  I knew a little about Lee, but not all I heard that day.

It’s not just the stories, of course. It’s the moms who go with them we don’t want to lose, the sense of endless time to hear what they have to say.

So I’ll be there when my mom has surgery, and every other moment I can make it.

Image Credits: Top: (bird) © Vera Kuttelvaserova; (leaves) © imagincy; (wood table) © MaskaRad; Bottom: (outline of couple dancing) © inga; (starry sky) © yulias07; All, Fotolia.com

For What It’s Worth

I’ve spent a lot of time lately “window shopping” on the Internet, looking for those perfect accessories for the finishing touches in my new place. My budget is limited, although I’m not cheap. I recognize some items have more than simply low-level utilitarian value. They just may be that special touch that turns your bathroom from ordinary to…fab.

The most challenging piece so far has been a toothbrush holder. I’ve looked everywhere, from Walmart to Wayfair, and explored different options, including a cute mug or the glass jar that once held fiery hot salsa. I haven’t hit on the solution yet.

In my explorations, however, I’ve found some wow-factor options. Not “wow” in the design or style, but heavens, the price. I thought $20 was a bit pricey, but I understood it.  Especially when I found I was drawn to so many holders in that price range. If you want your bathroom to look nice, you may need to shell out more than $2.97. So be it.

expensive

Pricey, this one. Very pricey.

But I was aghast to discover the number of options for toothbrush holders — the thing you store your toothbrush in — that cost more than $300. You’d think for that price they’d be self-cleaning or silver-plated, or both. Not so. One such treasure is pictured in this first photo. The specifications only tell me it is about four inches tall, has a chrome finish and weighs one pound, so I don’t know what sets it apart, although a pound is pretty heavy for something this small.

It retails for $359.99. That’s a sale price, by the way.

reasonable

Under $25. 

I took a quick look and discovered another holder, quite similar, on the same shopping site for a mere $22.99.  It weighs about five ounces and is also about four inches tall. The finish wasn’t specified, nor was anything else.

Now you may have a preference for one over the other, but I know of few people who would find the first toothbrush holder — I emphasize, a toothbrush holder, and just think how grody those things can get — is worth 15 times more than the second one.

Is it possible to have more money than you reasonably know what to do with?  Well, yes. You’ve likely heard the term “new money,” almost always spoken in a disparaging manner (that’s the only way I know how to pronounce it) and I imagine that’s one group who wouldn’t hesitate to pay twice the value of monthly food stamp benefits for one person on a toothbrush holder.

Years ago I worked for a man who would have charged up the Visa for virtually any amount if you told him it was how people in Europe spend their money on a toothbrush holder. (Just to be clear, it’s not.) Or if the label read “Ralph Lauren,” he’d pay whatever the asking price might have been. Of course he’d gone through bankruptcy three or four times before hitting 40.

Decorating a home costs money, no doubt about it. Some of us, particularly those on a tight budget, need to rely on creativity, clearance prices, patience and the cast-offs of generous friends with good taste when fixing up a room. We all might be guilty from time to time of spending more than an item is worth to our house, and there’s a point where that’s okay.

But if your toothbrush holder cost you more than my car payment…or even my car insurance payment…or just the cost of gas this month…I don’t know what to say.

 

A Little Less Class, A Little More Kitsch

While my hand is healing, I’m re-publishing some favorite posts you may not have seen before. Here’s a piece from June, 2015:

If we’re lucky our homes will never look precisely decorated, because along the way we’ll accumulate campy pieces of kitsch,  treasured objects that speak to our hearts, and we’ll have to display them.

Ah, FranciscoFor me, it was an ashtray given as a joke by some family member, probably my mom or brother. It had a black plastic base with a hand-painted metal flamenco dancer screwed into the middle. Joke was on them. I loved it.

I don’t smoke, and guests in my home aren’t allowed to either, so instead I loaded it with red cinnamon candy and proudly set it on my coffee table.

No one, but no one, saw the beauty in Francisco the Fleet-Footed Flamenco Dancer that I did. It was frequently suggested I replace him with something a bit, shall we say, classier. I really didn’t see how Francisco fell short. (Okay, I did, but love is kind.)

Then I got a roommate. She was appalled, and went as far as trying to enlist my mother’s help to “get rid of that thing.” Mom warned her it was useless. Thus began a minor battle between my roommate and me.

“People will think it’s okay to smoke,” she’d say.

“That’s why there’s candy in there.” I’d reply.

“The colors aren’t right in this room,” she’d try later, standing in the living room as I walked down the hall.

“It’s so small, it’s an accent piece, it doesn’t matter,” I called back.

I never feared for Francisco’s safety, however, until I came home one day while she was on a business trip. He lay on his side on the coffee table, completely twisted off the base.

“Ooooh NOOOOO!” I cried. She forever denied it, but all the evidence said that woman had hired a damn assassin to do her dirty work while she was away.

I immediately called my friend Bud and asked if he could solder the pieces together. Within hours, Francisco sat upright in his proper place again. But I was resigned to the fact he needed a new home, somewhere safer in the apartment.

My kitschy little ashtray went into a box and stayed there for I don’t know how many years. He resurfaced every time I moved, but never made it onto the coffee table again. Eventually he disappeared.

I miss Francisco. Everything in my living room now is so…classy. It could use a little lesser art.

Image credit: (shadow image) © adrenalinapura – DollarPhotoClub.com

Perfectly Me

While my hand is healing, I’m bringing out some favorite posts from the past many of you may not have seen. This was first posted in December, 2015.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”
― W.C. Field

rollerskating girl

Not me. Not now, not ever.

I can’t roller skate.  Nor can I bowl,  or do a pull-up. I don’t expect to ever be able to do any of those things, and they’re no longer important to me. At one time they were, and that stayed with me for way too long. But I’ve gotten over it and accepted my limitations.

I didn’t stop trying to learn how to bowl until I was in my 30s, when finally someone told me it was acceptable not to have that particular skill.

He didn’t word it quite like that, however. We were at a bowling alley with a group from church, and he was splitting his time between reading a book and talking to others.  When I mentioned what a terrible bowler I was, he shrugged his shoulders and said, with a laugh, “Who cares? It’s not something I want to be known for anyway.”

Okay, a bit snobby. It did lead me to think, however, is this really me? Is it a goal of mine to be a better bowler, or is everyone else in my circle telling me it should be?

There’s a point where you ceaselessly persevere, and there’s a point where you say, is that even a skill I truly want to master? I had no real interest in bowling, I’d just been told over and over not to give up, I could do it if I tried.

But I couldn’t. I tried and tried, and my body would not cooperate. What’s more, I likely never would have gotten to a point where, even if I could hold my own in a game, I would have looked forward to it. I did not want to bowl.

Once I figured out that hanging onto a group of friends whose main activities I didn’t enjoy was fruitless, I was a lot happier. It took some time, but gradually I developed friendships with people whose faces lit up when they talked about doing the same things I wanted to do.

happy dance girl

Yes, I know, this isn’t a waltz!

That’s not to say I’ll always avoid everything I’m not particularly good at doing. I would love to be able to dance, an old-fashioned waltz, perhaps, but it’s fair to say even at my best I won’t be entering any contests. That’s not my goal, at least not at this point. Right now I’d be happy to keep the beat.

(I have learned something about dancing over the years…call it sexist, or call it practical, but as we all know, men lead. With a strong lead, even a woman who isn’t a good dancer looks good. So half my battle will be finding the right partner.)

I’m not limiting myself only to friends who share my interests, either. Some of my best friends (a-hem) are bowlers, and good ones at that.

I don’t have to be the best, or even particularly good, at any given skill to enjoy doing it. I have my expert talents, and I have those I fumble with.  It’s that mix of abilities and experience that makes me who I am, perfectly me.

Thumbs Up!

Sometimes the little things really do us in.

I tore a ligament in my thumb, apparently while moving into my new place,  and now have a “soft cast” to immobilize my hand.  Immobilized it is…writing, as well as buttoning my pants and using deodorant, is downright laborious. The pants and hygiene are necessary, but the writing is slowing down for the time being.

My apologies to all of you for not being as responsive to your blogs as I’d like. Once my hand is free, I plan to spend some time exploring what my fellow bloggers have been posting.

In the meantime, my cats are  thrilled.  Mama can’t write and can’t knit, so what does that leave?  Snuggle time!

adobestock_26421848-converted

 

 

 

 

Image Credit:  © Andrew Adams — Adobe Stock

Drive On, Sweet Wheels

Nineteen short months ago I became the proud owner of a brand-new Prius C (what I call the “baby Prius,” because it’s the smallest of the brand). It gave me numerous freedoms, such as being able to drive outside the county, which I couldn’t before in my rattletrap 1996 Accord. Too risky. “Not if it will break down,” my mechanic told me, “but when. You need friends nearby who can pick you up.”

More than that, it allows me to affordably make the ten-hour drive to my mom’s apartment. That quickly became necessary following her surgery last winter, as well as later to easily attend her 80th birthday party. And a couple of other trips.

This week, I made the drive for my aunt’s funeral. It was important to my mom that I be there, therefore, it was important to me.

I’ve got the radio stations programmed. I know when to leave to avoid traffic in all three metro areas. I plug into weather.com before taking off for the outlook during the entire trip.

Best of all, I load up on Tab for my trip home. Long before Diet Coke, there was Tab, and it’s back. In a couple of states.

Corn field landscape with storm clouds off in the distance

At first, I truly enjoyed the drive. Now it’s something to endure. Especially two of the last three hours, both ways.

Before I left this week I got two audio books from the library. The first had an annoying narrator, but the second I’m okay with. Not a book I would probably read, but easy to follow, even when I drift off.  And a pleasant story. For a few hours.

There’s a part of the drive I love. Don’t laugh until you’ve been there. It’s the Lamoni, Iowa rest stop (northbound). It’s beautiful, and staffed by a woman in their tourist area who’s pleasant, talkative and informative.

Not just a latrine in the woods. This is special.

Of course that’s maybe ten, fifteen minutes, if I’m willing to give that time up. I at least stop in the rest room.

Gifts and acquisitions have their price. In this case, I get over that cost quickly — as soon as I open the door back home and desperately try to keep the cats from running outside. But I no longer look forward to the drive, and I miss that anticipation.

However, I do look forward to seeing that bright red Prius parked in front of my house each morning. So I consider those 20 hours on the road a blessing.

Photo Credit: c Bigstock.com

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