Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Crying Shame

A couple of Sunday's ago I went in to work. When I got there J, my 24 hour driver for the day, wasn't there. He'd left his girlfriend a month or so earlier and had been couch surfing until he found a place to land, so the boss gave him one. He stayed at the spare room at the office on his 24 hour shifts since he didn't always have a parking spot for the truck wherever he was staying. He stayed there a site more than that but that wasn't supposed to be shared around. We all knew anyway.

His motorcycle was gone and I thought maybe he'd stepped out for a bite to eat. An accident call came in so I sent it to his app and then called him, because he didn't have the truck and needed to beat cheek to get on the road so we could meet the mandatory time frame the PD requires. It rang twice then went to voice mail. I hung up and called him right back and it went straight to voice mail and continued to do so. I got hold of the boss who woke up the only driver not out of town, who had run the Saturday 24 hour, and got him on the road, and then we started tracking J down. It was far easier said than done but we were worried about him and, frankly, he owes the boss money. We finally got hold of him yesterday.

J is a disabled veteran with PTSD. He was single in the military and after a while felt that if he was on the line that meant someone who was married could stay home. 5 years of near back to back tours left him confused, broken, drifting. When he got back he tried to go back to normal living. He got a job, a girl, and a sweet motorcycle. Still, the ugliness was never far away. He started drifting in with a lively crowd who welcomed him with open arms. I guess when you're confused the calm, reliable life he had been struggling to resume leaves too much quiet in your head, and that's a bad thing. Unfortunately we can pinpoint the moment it happened, the boss sent him out to strawberry to haul a cycle for one of them that live in a motorcycle club compound out there. Pretty soon he was going on road trips with them, and when his girlfriend complained his "brothers" said dump the old lady, she's a drag. So he did. Roaming the roads with people who not only excused but encouraged his PTSD moodiness into rages was easier than staying home and learning how to cope with life. He'd always been a good driver, he has the skills and the brains to handle most of what we threw him at, he showed up when he was supposed to, worked as long as we needed him, took on any shift we had for him, if he hadn't been reliable and trustworthy the boss wouldn't have set him up at work like he did. Shortly after the girl was gone they started working on us. We made him work too much, too long, and didn't get him, no one got him but them. That caused a real issue for J, because he knew we did right by him, but they worked on him and got him so conflicted that he just gave in and left.

J came in to the office for a few minutes today. One of his "brothers" was there with him, but he stayed out in the lot. J's not okay. He's been staying out in strawberry bar-tending for the club for free so he can sleep on the couch in the lounge. It's a private club so the bar is open 24 hours and he's constantly on call catering to their alcoholic needs. He's been using his disability money to replace what shows up missing when he passes out in exhaustion because he can't risk being kicked out, but they're his brothers and they're gonna look out for him and take care of him. It's obvious just how good of a job they're doing.

The boss talked to him for a while, and came to an agreement about things that needed wrapping up, and then chased him out to the parking lot to tell him to make sure to keep in contact with us. We have to have a place to send his tax forms to, you see. You really don't want the IRS out there looking for you. That got the brother's attention. J said he'd see what he could do, then climbed up on his cycle and took off, his buddy following him and flinging a one fingered salute our way. I sent him a text this evening, told him to drop me a line and we'd get together and he and Cave could exchange stories about the idiocy in the chain of command. I'll be very surprised if he responds.

I look around me on this Veterans day and I am humbled at the sacrifices, the loss, the suffering that goes on, every day, in the name of freedom, and it curdles my stomach to see that so many throw it away and roll over for a bigger pull on the government teat.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Don't mind me...

A photo that I've asked someone to look at in the hopes that they can provide advice on fixing the problem.

The hinges on the 5 drawer cabinet for my 108 year old Singer 66 are stripped and are getting worse every time I use the machine. I haven't used it in almost a year because I worry about damaging it further. I'm not sure where to start in fixing them, although I remember watching my dad fix stripped out door hinges by drilling and gluing dowels in, but I'm not sure that would be appropriate. Your thoughts?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Laundry Day

BlurredLaundry

This isn’t practice for a grid down situation, nor is it an invasion of helpful mimes. It is my children learning what happens when you are doing your best to irritate your sibling and wind up breaking the washers timing mechanism. This is actually a teaching moment with a t-shirt and some fabric, the real work went on outside in plastic totes and well out of my earshot. Unless a cheap used machine shows up at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store (they sold the only one they had yesterday) I won’t be able to afford a new one for three weeks or more. I’m not going to pay to use a laundromat when the responsible parties are perfectly capable of handling the job. I invested $3 in a new plunger et voila! Meet my new washers. Tomorrow, if I’m feeling generous, they’ll learn how to cut down on the plunging time by boiling the whites. They’ve been snarking at each other all summer so I’ve decided that if they haven’t learned how to work together without antagonizing each other by the time I’ve got the money for a cheap washer I’m thinking I’ll just keep saving until I can get a nice front loader. Of course I’ll need a matching dryer so their weekends may be booked up for quite a while…

Friday, August 30, 2013

Here’s the thing. Bluntly.

Erin has a couple of spare inches. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a few, mine are around my waist. Hers are located elsewhere. My gender, genetics and sexual orientation all match what society, and I, expect to see so I can not truly comprehend what her life is like. I am often upset by what I see in the mirror, so maybe I can understand a fraction of what she feels when she looks at herself, but that’s about the closest I can get. I have a cyst on my face. I lived with it for years until I could afford the removal. I’ve had it removed three times, but it keeps coming back. It was at one point the diameter of a nickel and was a half inch high white waxy lump that stung and tingled. I tended to stay at home because I was so embarrassed. When it was that large I could see it whenever I looked down. It’s located between the edge of my nose and the corner of my mouth. It distorted my mouth and the inside of my lip was raw from being rubbed between it and my teeth. It’s not like that now, most people don’t notice it except for the grayish discoloration and the scarring but for many years I experienced people staring, whispering, and being grossed out, even nauseated, by my face. I know the pain of being rejected and ostracized for something beyond your control, where no one seems to care to look below the surface and see the person that is me. Unless you emerged as a whole, perfect adult you have experience with people rejecting you too.

Erin and I don’t talk. A few times our tweets have crossed and I think I left a comment at her blog that she replied to once. Considering I normally fly under the radar that’s a lot of interaction and I should probably throttle it back. :D She seems like a bit of an odd duck, but I’m an odd duck too. I’m just odd in ways that are easier for society to accept. I’d love to wave my pom pons around and say hey Erin, I think that’s fantastic! It’s so wonderful that you are who you are and you’re great! It’s not in my nature. My nature runs more towards disappointing my friends and relatives who come out by saying uh-huh. I made a friend of mine cry once because she told me that the Joe she had been talking about incessantly was a woman named Jo and that I was the first person she’d ever come out to outside of her immediate family. I said okay. That’s good to know and got back to what we’d been talking about. A little while later she brought up her sexual orientation again, probing to see if there was going to be some sort of delayed reaction. I looked her flat in the eye and said I really wasn’t surprised. You look at some women like I look at chocolate. I didn’t figure it was anything I needed to worry about, and I still don’t. I wouldn’t go up to her (gesturing to a women out with a man and children) and say I think it’s so great that you’re a heterosexual. I’m really happy that you are attracted to and have sex with the opposite gender, that’s just fantastic! Do you think that because I’m not saying similar things to you that I’m not being supportive? If you feel the need to hear me say such things I will, but I feel it’s only fair to warn you that I suck at being fake. I do care. I care because people will treat you badly. I care because I love you and I want you to be happy. I can’t change how the world is going to react, but the way I feel and what I think of you hasn’t changed. To my credit I have great taste in friends, she blinked for a minute then started laughing her head off and gave me a great big hug and then we got back to talking about the interesting stuff. I’m not a totally accepting and wonderful person, but I don’t think it’s my place to dictate to people what they should think or feel.

I don’t love Erin. I like her blog but I don’t know her. I’m not going to become a cheerleader or read her because she has gender issues. I enjoy her writing. She’s amusing. I like amusing. She bumbles around with things she doesn’t know about, and shares it. I bumble too. I’m not going to tell you to like her, dislike her, add or delete her blog. I am going to say that if you have problems because the reality didn’t match your expectations welcome to the real world, where things rarely line up, aren’t as they appear and simply refuse to stay within your boundaries.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Has it been a month? Really?

Goodness gracious. I'm sorry. There's been a lot going on, but nothing much has happened since I last posted. The biggest thing is that I made a quilt. Well, technically I made two quilt tops and quilted them together as the top and the backing of one quilt, but I'm not one to stand on formalities. The one with the black is the backing, it’s a quilt that I began years ago and added to to make it the correct size.

2013-08-16 23.31.28

Colorful, isn’t it? I was aiming for a bright and cheerful coat of many colors look and I think I’ve achieved it. I've made three quilts in my life so far. The first is in Silly E's closet awaiting repair because he loved it a bit too much as a child, the second is slated to be tucked away because the fabric was given to me as a valentines day gift from Cave on the day he proposed to me. It's too precious for me to use every day, and since I used inferior thread for the quilting it’s already showing wear. My newest never seems to be where I am when I want to use it and I'm tired of schlepping it around. Obviously the answer is more quilts. I’m already on it.

 GrandmaGayleQuilts

My grandmothers quilts. On top is one of her own design, in the center are a WWII flag, with 48 stars, my sister’s pinwheel quilt, and on the bottom is a whole cloth quilt with our family tree embroidered on it.

Quilting has a long tradition in my family. We are all makers, although my mother eschewed crafts and mundane activities and put her efforts into oil painting and flower arranging. (Yes, really. She both took and taught classes on arranging flowers and making arrangements out of dried things.) My sister and I have had to teach ourselves the skills mom didn’t care to retain. My grandmother began quilting as a young girl back in the 1900’s and like most quilters she was very frugal about her fabric purchases. She read an ad in the local newspaper for a damage sale on dry goods at a port in a large city two counties over, so my mom drove her. Mom said she was like a kid in a candy store. The fabric had water damage and they were trying to recoop some of their losses. They had big burlap bags that contained lengths of good fabric cut from otherwise unsalvageable bolts that they were selling for a penny a pound. My grandmother stuffed my mothers car full of burlap bags. She spent $1.08 on her bounty, we still have the handwritten receipt somewhere. When she got home she opened up her sacks and started spreading things out. Two bags were all garment fabrics, we still have some of the little suits she made for her grandchildren out of them. Others were mixed with some odd, heavy fabrics that she made into rag rugs. The majority of the rest was good old cotton, perfect for quilting. Some of the bags had been packed when the fabric was still damp so there was a bit of mildew to be reckoned with but grandma was very pleased overall. My grandfather, who was still carrying the bags in from the car, called out Gayle, I think this one has full bolts in it. Grandma met him in the living room, fairly dancing and clapping her hands at the thought of full bolts. Sure enough, it did. Two white and two in pepto-bismol green. Or, what pepto-bismol would look like if it were green. As they unpacked they found more bolts tucked in here and there. All the same green. She wound up with six bolts of the green fabric. They only had a little bit of water damage on the last two or three inches of one end and they were sound after the first few layers. She and my mother spent the next few weeks laundering and trimming away the bad spots on those bolts, carefully packing away the trimmed “scraps” and wrapping the rest back onto the bolts. Grandma and grandpa came from large families with lots of siblings, and the bolts of green were distributed amongst them. That green became legendary among our family, and not a single one of us has ever liked it. The younger generation calls it minty dismol.

That green was in some part of each and every quilt that grandma made after that, except for the pinwheel quilt that she and my sister made. Grandma hand pieced and hand quilted her quilts so she lived with each one for several months. She became heartily sick of that green cloth. She tried everything to use that up, selling it, trading it, giving it away, but she still had more, and she was too frugal to not use it no matter how tired she was of looking at it. My mom told me that grandma, ill with the beginning stages of breast cancer, walked to the neighbors one afternoon to call and tell her that she had made a very generous border and a quilt backing out of it and the green was all gone! Finally! Mom laughed with her and congratulated her in her endurance. When grandma was ready to start her next quilt she asked my mom to help her sort her scraps. Mom pulled all of the scrap boxes out from under grandma’s bed and noticed one tucked way back under there so she fished that one out too. She opened it and discovered the green fabric that they had so carefully trimmed away from the bolts. She and my aunt pawed through it and estimated that there was almost 20 yards of it in there. They spirited the box away to the trunk of my aunts car and she dumped it in a charity donation box on the way home. If your family has a plethora of things made from minty green cotton found at the thrift shop back in the 60’s you are welcome. Grandma passed away before she completed another quilt without the green fabric. She beat minty dismol, but it got the best of her. I wish I’d met her. All I know of her is from stories and her quilts.

2013-08-11 13.40.29

This is the first quilt my grandmother made from her bounty. The block is one that she designed, she took the center from the rolling stone block and placed it on a background variation of the broken dishes block. Rolling stone, broken dishes. The joke tickled her to no end, mom said. She used blue sashing between the blocks, pink corner patches and it had a wide green border. She used white diaper flannel instead of batting inside the quilt because she didn’t have any batting and she couldn’t wait one minute longer to make a quilt. She used the green for backing, and she bound it in green too.

Where is all the green I’ve been fussing about? Therein lies the rub. Look closely at the pink squares. See how they’re shredded, some to the point where everything is gone except for the stitched edges? Anything we had that was made with the green or the pink disintegrated. At my house it happened during spring cleaning. Mom filled the washer with a load of quilts and when she started pulling the quilts out of the washer we heard a sickening rip. The green fabric had shredded itself into strings that wrapped around themselves and the agitator. The four quilts pictured in the beginning are the only survivors that our family has out of all of the quilts my grandmother spent her life making. Grandma gave away more than she kept so I’m sure there are more out there, these are just the ones we know of.

My sister and I have been bonding over quilting. We’ve been having virtual bees each weekend, texting photos of our progress and complaining about curved seams and matching points. We live half the continent away from each other so our contact has been a phone call every few months and one visit in 12 years. I love connecting with her. She hates being tied to a phone so the fact that she spends so much time texting with me on the weekends indicates that she’s been enjoying it too. I asked her the other day how many big quilts she makes in a year, as opposed to little quilting projects like table runners. She said around 12? I think her branch of the family tree will be warm and toasty for a long time to come.

Time to go get ready for work. Monday is our busiest day and we’re usually slammed especially hard as we tow all the cars that broke down over the weekend. Hope your weekend was good!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Blah

Nothing blogworthy is going on, sorry. Just putting shoulder to the yoke and keeping the ball rolling. I’m sure much is the same for ya’ll. I don’t know for a fact because when Google reader went south it took half of my blog subscriptions with it and the new service I’ve been using, which was originally based on Google Reader, won’t let me re-subscribe to them because it’s under the impression I’m subscribed already. Gah!

Technology has been a thorn for the last week or so, actually. It’s great when it’s up and running, but when it’s not it leaves us busting butt to get simple jobs done. Even the boss, who started with only one land line, battery operated radios, two trucks, and a notebook, was having a difficult time keeping up with five trucks today. He may understand the concept of “two is one and one is none,” whether or not it supersedes the “too much redundancy is a waste of money” mindset is to be seen.

In other news I took advantage of a sale at a newly opened local fabric store to pick up a bunch of sewing patterns over the 4th. I’m an indifferent sewer, modern sewing machines with all of their bells and whistles intimidate me and my ability to alter patterns is minimal. I’m fair at using my beloved treadle machine but it’s straight stitch only and most modern patterns require zig zag and other stitches that my machine can’t do without fancy attachments. I’m more than a passable hand sewer but if I’m going to put the weeks of effort into hand sewing clothing I want it to be something extra special. I’ve had my eye on the patterns Claire Shaeffer designs for Vogue. She puts out designs that use Haute Couture techniques with pages and pages of instructions included. Haute Couture is very extra special. Her patterns start at $25 and go up from there. I have wanted them for years, but I couldn’t afford to indulge. When I was at the fabric store this past week I saw that they had all of their Vogue patterns on steep discount and I couldn’t get into the pattern drawers fast enough to see if they had any. They did, and they were even in my size so I won’t have to redraw them. I was able to get all 9 of her current patterns for $36, a savings of $200+. 

 

I have my eye on some beautiful wool crepe fabric to marinate in my stash until I’ve girded my loins for the project.

 

If only I could find such great deals on gold and silver.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sensationalism

Earlier today Cave asked for my opinion on an article at Ms Magazine, authored by Heidi Yewman, titled My Month With a Gun: Week One.

I shall not dignify Ms. Magazine, Ms. Yewman, or their particular brand of journalism with a link. Instead, I shall direct you to PJ Media where Bryan Preston has written a good article dissecting several of the issues that I had with Ms Yewman’s gabbling. Mr. Preston’s article Ms. Magazines’s ‘My Month with a Gun’ Story Shooting Blanks? does such a good job that my writing would be redundant.

I shan’t be watching for the rest of her series, nor do I intend to give it any more thought than I already have. She and her adrenal secretions shall have to jitter on without me as I have far more important things to spend my limited brain power on, such as admiring my new handspun, handknit socks or contemplating my next crochet dishcloth project. Or removing my son’s toy robot half of my son’s toy robot the arm from one of my son’s toy robots from Rhye’s mouth.

In other news, a friend and I attended a gathering of my people at the local National Forest range, spending the day testing out recent purchases (for her it was an AK, an AR, and a Kimber, for me my AR and my vintage Rem Sportsman 58 12 ga) and firing many, many guns that were proffered. The most exotic were a set of pistols chambered in .223 and .308. There was an option for 30-06 but we both felt the .308 was a gracious plenty. After a full six hours at the range we came home dirty, sore, tired, and grinning ear to ear.

As it gets warmer out things at work have been picking up. Being the primary for the motor clubs and dealerships is kind of interesting. We towed a vehicle in to a repair facility Friday morning, transferred it to another facility on Friday afternoon, took it to a dealership yesterday and today we hauled it to the crusher. It didn’t have a stock number attached to it so it likely wasn’t a trade in, the dealership probably facilitated the disposal as a favor to the owner. There seems like there’s a story wrapped up in there, with a few different permutations. It was a ‘74 Valiant with a nice wax job and a pristine interior, according to my driver, so I prefer the tale of a faithful servant and it’s well earned retirement over a fiery evisceration and a crushing disposal of the remains.

The Valiant is frolicking amongst the azaleas, the sun shining off of it’s yellow flanks, sipping unleaded and snacking on quarts of 10W-40, not a welding torch in sight. It Is TOO! Hush Up! MOOOOO-oooo-oooommmmmm!!!!