Archive for January, 2010

Adult Problem Children

January 27, 2010

What to do about Adult Problem Children

            Today was a very tough day. I took my youngest son to his court date. He’s been going to hearings for six weeks now. They keep putting off a disposition on revoking his probation. My son didn’t follow through on all aspects of his probation. I do think he needed a wakeup call, but I’m still in shock about the judge’s decision. My son will be in the county jail for six months, probably in tent city. Our famous “toughest sheriff in America” Arpaio has a permanent county jail that is really tents. Two meals a day are provided, one of which is ostrich meat. At least he’ll have to stop using cigarettes as the ban on smoking is enforced by the gang leaders.

            It was hard to take it in. I immediately went into “project” mode so I wouldn’t have to feel anything. I called my friends and my other two sons for help with clearing out my youngest son’s apartment before I left for California tomorrow morning. I quickly cleared space in my garage to store his stuff.  I called the apartment management and found out it was too expensive to break the lease. It will be cheaper to pay the rent for the remaining three months of the lease. So I don’t need to clear it out tonight. I called everyone back and cancelled the project. Still in project mode, I called and cancelled his utilities.

Now I’m starting to feel, and it’s lousy. My stomach is bouncing and my anxiety is high. I know that he will have to join a gang in jail, the white one. I hope they don’t figure out he’s Jewish. Will he use his time to take the drug course and make some use of the experience? I hope so.

            In spite of what happened today, I still think of myself as the lucky one. My son has been sober from his heroin habit for sixteen months. I have friends whose adult children have severe mental illnesses. They will have a lifelong situation to deal with. One friend has a son who goes in and out of institutions. When he’s out, he stops taking his meds, which makes him dangerous. I have other friends whose adult children are still addicted to alcohol or drugs. The lucky friends are those with merely unemployed or divorcing children. I’m feeling cynical. It must be time to remember that I have two older sons who are doing well. They have happy marriages and the oldest is a great dad. Count your blessings.

Sparky as a Judge of Men

January 25, 2010

Sparky as a Judge of Men

            My dog Sparky is a shihztu-poodle. I bought him eight years ago when he was so small he fit in the palm of my hand. He was supposed to grow to eight to ten pounds. He’s twenty-one pounds and not fat. Breeders lie big time because they know people are looking for small dogs.

            I crate trained Sparky. We only lived with my second husband for a few months, but they never bonded. My ex called him “rat dog.” After I moved into my own house, I let Sparky sleep on my bed. He’s well trained. He knows I’ll pet him in bed, but when I fold my arms, that’s his signal to retire to the end of my double bed and sleep there. The first five years I dated, my son and my mother lived with me. I never had a man over my house. I always stayed at his house.

            Sparky is not a tough pet to take care of. He has a doggie door so I take him out on walks when I feel like it. He has food out all the time and an automatic fresh water feeder. I can stay out overnight and he’s fine. He just insists on lots of attention when I get home.

            By the time my son and mother moved out, I had moved to a smaller condo and wasn’t dating. When I got back into the game, a few fellows did stay over. None of them was enamored of Sparky. They tried locking him out of the bedroom, but Sparky whined and scratched at the door. The guy I dated for fine months pretended to like my dog. Pet owners and parents know what I mean. You can spot a dissembler far away. They speak in a weird tone to kids and pets. He would toss Sparky from the bed, even in the middle of the night. I think Sparky got up on the beau’s side just to bug him.

            During the summer I live in Munds Park, which is near Flagstaff, Arizona. I don’t have a doggie door there because the skunks and raccoons would come in. I do have a fenced backyard but I tend to take Sparky for more walks. That’s good for him and me He can’t stay out overnight due to coyotes and such. And it’s tough to stay away overnight. So my dog seriously impacted my love life. The one man I had a summer romance with did like Sparky. We took Sparky on a hike at the guy’s suggestion. Sparky did like that guy. But summer flings end.

            So now I have a new Mr. Right Now. He genuinely likes Sparky and the feeling is mutual. He invites my dog into his lap and pets him. He thinks it’s funny, not disgusting, that I have to tilt my bar stools when I leave the room or Sparky will climb on the table. Maybe Sparky is a better judge of men than me. Time will tell.

Valentine’s Day and The Single Senior

January 21, 2010

The Single Senior and Valentine’s Day

 

     Valentine’s Day was always an important holiday for me. It meant candy and cards. When I was in elementary school, my mother would buy me an oversized cardstock book illustrated with cupids, flowers, hearts, and birds. I punched out the Valentine cards from the perforations and agonized over which classmate got which card. Candy hearts with the printed messages would be included in the envelopes. I would receive a card from almost everyone in the class. These were delivered to a special Valentine’s Day mailbox that we made in school. It was unmitigated bliss. It was all about friendship and crushes.

     Valentine’s Day was ruined for me in 2002. My husband decided that was the day to tell me he had rented an apartment and our marriage was over.

     The first few Valentine’s Days after that, I was without any date or beau. It was very lonely. No flowers, no dinner out, no candy, no occasion to wear a new skimpy nightgown. The next few Valentine’s Days I was seeing a fellow, but we weren’t exclusive. He lived in Scottsdale and worked half the month in Chicago. Naturally he was always out of town for V Day. No card, no flowers.

     There were a few more years of V Day alone. I’d learned to buy an engrossing mystery book or do a complicated craft project.

     Last year I finally had a beau who lived in town. We’d been going out for seven months, so I was excited about celebrating with him. He had told me about hiring singers, when he was married, to serenade his wife in a local restaurant. Nothing like that happened, but it felt good to be with someone who wanted to be with me. That relationship has gone by the wayside. I found out that sincerity is in the eye of the beholder.

     This year I again have a beau, but he got lucky. He doesn’t have to worry about coming up to my unrealistic expectations for Valentine’s Day. I’m going to be out of town at a writers’ conference. I think we both lucked out.

 

Mr. Right Now

January 17, 2010

 

Mr. Right Now

            If you’re a bit prim and proper, don’t read this blog entry.

 I’ve found a Mr. Right Now, namely Mr. Liberal Democrat. I’m not looking around for anyone else, and he isn’t either. At least that’s what he says. This morning he asked me if I wanted an omelet like the one he’d made me last week. It was awkward to tell him that he hadn’t made me an omelet last week. Last week when I stayed over, I wasn’t hungry. It was so much easier to keep everything straight when we were younger because there weren’t so many experiences that mirrored each other and because our memories were better. I know I’m an optimist to think this way. Is this misspeak of his a warning sign that I miss every time? Or is it a mistake and I should give the man some slack?

He already told me that he’s messed up the past three relationships after ninety days. So I figure I’d better make the most of the next sixty days. One cannot underestimate the power of regular sex from a source other than Mr. Buzzy. I like the feel of his arms around me and his body near me when I sleep. I didn’t even have to wear my socks last night!

Rats!

January 14, 2010

My neighbor Donna saw a rat in her house. She freaked out and tried to keep it contained in her guest bedroom. The rat chewed or clawed through some of the carpet in the room. When she saw the destruction, she opened the doors and hoped it would leave.

She thought I would be shocked. I wasn’t. I had lived in the Arcadia area of Phoenix where the roof rats first showed up, about ten years ago. A pair came on a moving truck from California. They loved the citrus on the trees in Arcadia, a former orange grove. The telltale sign of a roof rat is the shell of an orange with a hole in it. The roof rats suck out the insides. We had thirty-two orange and grapefruit trees, so we saw the evidence. When we drained our pool, I was horrified to see them congregate at the bottom. Roof rats do not carry diseases but they can chew through wires in attics.

When I was divorced, I moved to another home in Arcadia. I had only five citrus trees, but I saw the signs of roof rats. One day, as I was getting into the shower, I saw a dark blob in my toilet. I thought, who used my bathroom and didn’t flush? I looked a little closer and screamed! It was a rat! I closed the lid of the toilet and put a humongous and very heavy bottle of mouthwash on the lid. My son Max was about fourteen and he was pounding on my bedroom door.

I threw on a shift and opened the door. He thought I had hurt myself. I told him there was a rat in the toilet. He wanted to see. I carefully removed the mouthwash and lifted the toilet lid.

“Can I keep it?” he asked.

“Absolutely not!” I said. “I’m calling the exterminator.”

I got an answering machine when I called the exterminator. I called the county and the city. They said to call a private firm. I looked in the yellow pages and found critter removal company. The dispatcher said they would be overjoyed to rid me of the rat for $75.00. I considered that a bargain.

By this time Max had phoned a few friends. Every time one arrived, he had to be shown the rat. My bathroom was becoming famous in the neighborhood. I got out my camera and took this picture for posterity.

roof rat in toilet

The critter removal guy showed up with a tall plastic bucket and a tool that looked like tweezers on steroids. He quickly plucked the rat from the toilet.

“Don’t let him out!” I said, not realizing I had a bloodthirsty streak.

“Oh, this rat isn’t going anywhere,” he assured me.

“How do you think it got in?” I asked.

“Do you have a fireplace?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Do you close the flue after you use it?”

“I never thought about it,” I admitted. As soon as he was out the door, I closed the flue in my fireplace.

So when Donna told me about her rat, I didn’t panic. I told her to get some rat traps. She caught a mouse the next day, but no rat. She’s borrowed her daughter’s cat. Maybe that will convince the rat to move on. Probably to my house.

Night Noises

January 12, 2010

 

Night Noises

I mentioned a few weeks ago that there was an attempted break-in next door to me. My neighbor Donna across the way and her boyfriend were quite concerned and changed our locks.

Last night I awoke at one in the morning. I sat up and cleared my head. It sounded like the doorbell. I did what you should NEVER do, I jumped out of bed and opened the door. No one was there. I realized that this was the way to invite an intruder in. I quickly closed and locked the door. I looked out my kitchen window. No one was at the front door and no one was at the outside gate. That gate was unlocked anyway.

I was feeling uneasy. These are the times, which happen infrequently, when I wish I lived with someone. I wasn’t going to call my neighbors and wake them, so I tried to go back to sleep.

 I was just falling asleep when the doorbell rang several times. I ran to the kitchen window but saw nothing. I was feeling very unsettled. If I called the police, what would I say? Someone was ringing my bell?

After about an hour, I fell back to sleep. At three I was again awakened by the bell. Now I was frustrated and angry as well as scared. Again I saw no one in my patio or by my front door.

I didn’t want it to happen again so I did the easiest thing. I took the batteries out of the remote door chime. It took another while to go back to a troubled sleep from which I awoke at 5:30 a.m.

Now it’s the next afternoon. I have no clue what I should have done or what to do tonight, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep the batteries out of the door chime. Sometimes the single life is just weird.

A Night Out

January 10, 2010

A Night Out

            I now know where all the guys my age hang out.

            Last night I went out with MLD (Mr. Liberal Democrat) for a nice dinner and a concert by Robben Ford. You are forgiven if you do not recognize the name. He is a guitarist famous to people who know music. He used to do mostly jazz but now he’s branched out to the blues and rock.

            MLD had told me that he didn’t dance unless he’d had some beers. I offered to be the designated driver and he accepted. When we got to The Compound, a new venue refashioned from a chain steak house in North Scottsdale, there was a short line. We were admitted on the strength of the previously bought tickets, given a wrist band and set loose. The show was supposed to be at eight and we arrived a little after seven. There were no seats left. We asked a couple if we could share their table and they readily agreed. Thomas and Diane were a delightful pair who had been together for almost forty years. At eight it was announced that the show was a sellout and would start at nine. A few minutes later the staff made us, and everyone else, give up our chairs and tables to clear the floor.

Thomas and Diane went to stand by the bandstand and we followed. By this time the crowd that was in line around the building was allowed in from the cold, sixty degrees being cold here in Scottsdale. The staff never put up any chairs! WE were expected to stand for the wait and the concert.

As the place filled up, I realized that the crowd was eighty percent men. I mentioned this to Diane, and she said that the people who attended concerts like this were guitar geeks, and that her husband had repeatedly thanked her for coming with him.

The band started about quarter after nine and played for two hours. I enjoyed the music. It was rocking and MLD and I danced in place. I happened to look around and saw that only one other person, a woman, was making any kind of dancing moves. A few of the men were doing the head shaking thing, but most were still. So it must really be true that most guys don’t like to dance. Here was a big room of musicians and no one was bopping out. Lesson learned!

Sports Fan

January 7, 2010

Sports Fan

My neighbor Donna is a true football fan. She’ll watch the home team Cardinals by herself, yelling and screaming. When we walk our dogs in the mornings, she wants to discuss plays and critique the coach’s strategies. I don’t do football. I don’t like it, I don’t understand it, and I don’t want to learn about it. Guys smashing into each other and getting hurt is not my kind of game. Of course I went to my sons’ games when they played. Luckily two of three dropped out of the sport before high school. One son played during his freshmen year but recognized the idiocy of politics in the sport. He was the best kicker and receiver, but didn’t play much on the freshman team because another guy was the brother of the star of the varsity team. Thank goodness!

Baseball is okay but not my favorite. When the Diamondbacks franchise started up, husband #2 bought four season tickets in the upper deck. He took me a few times. It was mostly boring because I don’t get the inner workings of the sport. I liked it because it was three or four hours when my husband or sons couldn’t avoid a conversation. I got a lot of information during those games! And I got to see the World Series when we won. I had to buy my own tickets for one of the home games to take my son. Husband #2 was taking a client. I found out months later it was his girlfriend. So the shine is off that sport.

What I LOVE is basketball. I’m tall and in pre Title IX times, I played some intramural basketball in junior high school in the days when the guards couldn’t cross the center line. The game is fast and you can seeoin the faces of the team members whether they’re playing with heart. I went to my high school games and college games. When I moved to Phoenix many years ago, I lived for a time downtown, not far from the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, where the Suns played. I went to games occasionally. I loved it. When I married husband #2, we went a little more. Then the Suns got hot. I was a principal of a primary school at the time and seized on the community enthusiasm to build spirit and morale at my school. We created and solved Suns math problems. We wrote letters to the players about specific plays in games. The school counselor had season tickets and we went to some games together. And I got season tickets. My first pair were for the 1993 playoffs and I was in the last row of the upper deck and I loved it. I upgraded myself to “club seats” for an exorbitant $75 a ticket to get into the lower deck.

Fate smiled upon me. My husband’s golfing buddy, an original Suns season ticket holder, had an extra seat for the entire season he was willing to sell me. My husband figured I was nuts enough to go to the games by myself. In the first row!

It was a bit hard to sell the seat when I couldn’t go. Going alone was a harbinger of my single life to come. But I loved it. I got to see just how huge Shaq was. By the middle of that first season I noticed that different people from out of town sat next to me. I found out that the seat was owned by a ticket broker. I went to his office and we agreed to trade tickets so we each had a pair for half of the games. That began the golden age of my sports fan career. My husband rarely wanted to go. My older boys weren’t into it and had their own activities. My friends were not interested and also didn’t have the hundred dollars for the ticket. So I took my youngest son, who was six. The players would come over and talk to him and sign his shirt or cap or give him their used sweatbands. It was a great parent-child activity. Of course I had to be willing to leave in the middle of a game even when the score was tied, but that didn’t happen very often. My son developed a love of basketball and still plays pickup games. And I could sell the games I didn’t want to attend.

When I got divorced, I kept the tickets for a year. The Suns started playing poorly and the ticket broker told me he was not renewing. I’d never be able to sell my one ticket, so I gave it up. The school counselor and I were still friends, and she agreed to share her tickets. I’ve been there in the good times and the ugly times for the Suns. Sometimes I have to beg people to go with me. I thought if I listed my season tickets as an asset on match.com I’d get some dates to the games. A few times that worked out, but mostly men had ticket envy but wanted to buy them form me to take their own dates. Phooey!

Two years ago we took on a third person to share the tickets. We now have seats in row 12. But finances are different. This is the last year I’ll have the tickets. I’ll have to buy individual games next year. I’ve been priced out due to competing interests for my fixed income. Phooey!

I’m still a fan. Go Suns!

Friends

January 3, 2010

Friends

You gotta have friends…that’s what gets us through the days. Linda, whom I’ve known for more than fifty years, visited for the holidays. I didn’t get the usual holiday blues this year. We ate out, shopped, saw movies, went to Suns games, and talked.

Security is an issue when you live alone. I live in a small condo complex. My next door neighbor is about thirty. She caught a guy breaking into her house this week! This was truly shocking as I often go across the way to visit another neighbor (Donna,) or walk the dog, without locking my door. No more.

Donna’s boyfriend was worried enough that he hired a locksmith to install new locks on all of her doors. While I was out shopping, having dinner with one of my sons and his wife, and going to the Suns/Celtics game, Donna decided to get new locks for my doors as an early birthday present. She called to tell me that the new key would be in the usual place in my front patio area. When Linda and I returned, about ten p.m., from the great game (Suns rule!) we couldn’t get into the house. Donna had locked the front gate and the locksmith had locked the dead bolt on the door from the garage to the house. What to do?

I called Donna on the phone but she didn’t answer. I went over to her house. The lights were still on but I couldn’t get up to her door because her patio gate was locked. I called and called her name and her dog’s name, but to no avail. She tends to keep the television at high volume, so even she was awake, and I doubted she would hear me calling to her. I telephoned several more times, but no answer.

What to do? Of course we would have to figure out a way to get into the front patio. The gate is six feet high. Linda suggested that we upend the pink recycle bin and one of us scale the wall and get the key. As I tried to climb on the plastic bin, I could feel the middle start to cave in. Linda volunteered to try since she is inches shorter than me and pounds lighter. She was able to get on the bin and climb on top of the wall. Unfortunately there was a large clay pot with a huge plant in front of that part of the wall. She was able to move the plant but not the pot. I handed her the bin and she threw it down inside the patio. It was off center and wobbly because the pot was in the way. She managed to land without breaking or spraining any part of her body and to retrieve the key. Success!

This morning Linda and I went in the complex’s spa. The outside temperature was forty-one degrees, but we didn’t freeze walking down to the pool area in our suits, I had on my fleece bathrobe. A vision of beauty, I’m sure. The spa is heated and I turned on the jets. What relaxation! We took our hot tea and coffee with us. Total relaxation. I’ll have to do this more often. We were so heated up from the spa water that it wasn’t cold getting out or walking back to my condo. I’ve made a resolution to do this more often this year.

I was sad to drop Linda off at the airport. She thought a week might have been too long a visit, but it wasn’t. I feel honored and lucky to have good friends here in Phoenix and far away.