Weekend Update

I haven’t done any weekend round-ups in awhile!  We have been super busy trying to get everything unpacked and organized in the house, which is going slowly because there are so many other things going on at the same time.  We took time out to finish fixing up the apartment and cleaning it top to bottom because we might have some people staying in it in a week or two.  Man, I am telling you it is really a lot of work to get a place spic-n-span for strangers to stay in.  You know how your family might give you a pass if there’s a little bit of dust on the furniture or the oven isn’t quite sparkling but it’s not the same story when you don’t know the people who are coming.  We’re thinking about doing Airbnb or a similar business eventually but we just happened to hear of a need through word of mouth so this will be sort of a test run to see how things go.  Still needs a little more decor but here you are:

Meanwhile the garden is coming along okay; we had to pull up some cabbage plants that were infested with bugs and dying in the ground and we had a freeze the other night so we are hoping we can still harvest more goodies.  We did cut a bunch of greens before the freeze and have had several delicious salads — everything sure does taste a whole lot better straight from the Earth!

I went to an orientation to volunteer with a refugee organization; it was very interesting and there were quite a few people there.  The trainer said they’d had a lot more volunteer inquiries since the election, which I can understand because part of my reason for contacting them was to give my own personal middle finger to Donald Trump. 🙂   \I found out that Texas receives more refugees than any other state and about 1000 a year come to Dallas.  There are needs every week from picking people up at the airport to shopping and making their apartments homey and welcoming before they arrive to transporting people to their many appointments to mentoring to helping with English classes and so on.  I learned that they are immediately eligible for employment and have to pay back their plane tickets and take over their bills pretty quickly. So those who are worried about refugees being a drain on our society, that’s just not the case. Anyway, I am looking forward to getting involved.

And now for a few interesting reads from around the web:

Wish I’d been there for this.

I’ve barely started reading but the stories are really interesting.

Great idea  right here in Dallas.  Unfortunate that there’s a need for it but at least people are willing to help.

Beautiful (and haunting) photos. We can’t let this happen again.

A thoughtful piece.

980,000 in Texas, including Rich and me.

Rich and I watched “Suffragette” last night.  It was infuriating.  I will never understand why (some) men think that they are superior to women, that they have the right to control our lives and our bodies, and that they can treat us any way they wish.  Thankful for those women who came before me, and worried that we still have more of a fight ahead of us.

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Back to work.  Have a lovely week ahead, friends!

Moving Day (again)

The kids moved into the main house today and Rich and I retired out to the back apartment for a few months.  Sarah and Miles are building a new home and it’s not quite ready…but their current house has already sold.  It would be tough to find a short term rental for 3-4 months with 3 kids and a dog,  so we offered to share our space.  I think it will be fun to be only footsteps away from the kids and grandkids and it will certainly be convenient when we want to get together or when they need a last minute sitter.  We’re looking forward to time spent together and helping each other out.  They’re paying rent so that definitely helps us financially when we are trying not to take a lot of money out of our retirement savings yet.

Rich and I finished moving our last minute items this morning, then cleaned house for the new tenants before they arrived around 11:30.  We’d taken the cats to the apartment so they wouldn’t freak out with the movers coming in and out and lots of extra people around.  When we moved some of our furniture from the house to the apartment, Ajax scooted by and ran back into the house. Can you spot him hiding in the fireplace?  Silly kitty.

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Tomorrow’s Sarah’s birthday so Rich is cooking dinner for all of us as we celebrate.  Then Sarah and Miles are going out of town for the weekend so we are keeping the kids.  A few days later, their whole family is going on vacation so we will probably hang out in the “main” house while they’re gone.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how fortunate we are to have a home of our own.  So many people can’t afford to own a house any more, or even to find a place to rent at a reasonable price.  Many of those I meet at my volunteer job are struggling to get by and I hate to think about the conditions they are living in.  Others come in who are homeless or  on the verge of homelessness with an eviction notice in hand and there is nothing we can do but to give them some food.  It keeps them from going hungry but it does not solve the systemic problems that our society perpetuates.  As I count my blessings, I wonder what it is about us as a people that keeps us from serious efforts to make structural change.  Too many of us are comfortable in our own situations and can’t see what’s going on all around us.  Or we don’t know what to do or where to begin.  I hate to think that people just don’t care, but I think there is some of that, too.  I was reading an article about how few landlords will accept Section 8 housing vouchers  in the “nicer” zip codes in Dallas.  This means that most people who get a voucher have to remain in the “not so great” areas of the city because they can’t find anyone who will rent to them elsewhere.   In my “if I had a million dollars” dream, I would buy up a bunch of good houses and rent them to people with vouchers just to give them a chance to experience a better life.  How come I never win the lottery?!  🙂

Choose Nonviolence

We’re still unpacking and dealing with various issues that have come up in a house that has been rented out for two years…and I am discovering the down side to having renters.  I guess I should instinctively know that people don’t care about your house as much as you do.  However, I have to say that I have always been a conscientious renter and have tried to take care of the property and leave it in good condition any time I’ve lived somewhere not mine. Maybe that is uncommon.  Anyway, we had a property manager since we lived far away in Alaska but between the property manager and the renters, not too many f*$#%s were given, apparently.  Excuse my language or implied language.

We’ve had a pool guy out to get the pool back in shape all week, an HVAC guy and a plumber today to look at the systems and see what else is failing because the house smells musty and mildewy and we want to nip any further problems in the bud.  The good news is that the plumbing is okay. The bad news is that the air conditioning unit has had a clog in the line, which has led to a steady, apparently long standing, leak. The filter is soaked, the subfloor is ruined, there’s quite a bit of standing water, it needs a new coil, we need a mold specialist to come out, and the dollar signs keep adding up.

While ruminating over these issues, we were struck upside the head by the terrible violence in our new home city, Dallas.  Absent-mindedly turning on the TV and sitting down to chill for a little while, we saw a screen suddenly full of sirens and images of people running and a “breaking news” banner announcing that shots had been fired at a peaceful protest and police officers were down. At first, I think I just assumed it was a small incident and hopefully no one was hurt and it was under control.  I was wrong.  We stayed glued to the TV till 2 AM when there didn’t seem to be much more information coming out.  In bed, I couldn’t believe we were right here, right in the same city where a shooter or shooters killed 5 police officers and injured several more. It did not seem real.

I’ve been saddened and outraged by the recent police killings of two black men named Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile; it seems that we cannot escape the institutional racism and jump-to-conclusions tragic actions that sometimes take place when police and black men intersect in American society.  Protesters in Dallas were exercising their right to speak out about this violence and to say “enough.”  From all that I have read, the police department coordinated with the activists for the march and it was peaceful all around.  The police department even tweeted photos of officers interacting with the marchers. The protest was not directed toward DPD, but toward systemic violence; I think the officers there must have understood the difference.

There’s not a lot I can say that hasn’t been already said, but I just want to make the point that one can be opposed to violence from police officers at the same time one is opposed to violence toward police officers.  I wish for a world where violence is nonexistent, or at least rare, where people treat each other with respect and dignity no matter the color of their skin or the circumstances of their life.  Here in Dallas, I hope we will move forward toward that goal as we mourn and heal.

 

On the Road Again–Homeward Bound

We could not take as leisurely a trip home as we did on the way up because we had to move into our house as soon as we got back.  (In case you haven’t been following along, we moved to Dallas from Alaska back in October; we already had a house we’d bought in 2014 but it had renters in it so we lived in an apartment till their lease was up June 30).  Don’t ask me what I was thinking to schedule a vacation right before we had to move.

Deciding to bite the bullet and make the first day a long one, we pushed on to Colorado where we met up with Bonnie and David and kids for the night.  The kids were excited to have adjoining rooms at the hotel, which we could walk back and forth through.  How much fun is that?!

After dinner and wandering around, it was too late to swim in the hotel pool so we let the kids have a morning dip after breakfast.  Then off to Amarillo to spend the night with Bonnie and Dave.

On the way, we decided to stop at the Capulin Volcano National Monument in N.M.  When my girls were growing up, we stopped at the volcano a couple of times when we were traveling to Colorado.  Susan was small and was very worried that the volcano would erupt while we were in it. I can remember her sitting in the back of the car, almost in tears, telling us that her hands were very sweaty.  🙂  I told Aidan and Ally this story about their mom and Ally said, “My hands are kinda sweaty, too!”  She was also somewhat concerned about the volcano and what might happen while we were there.  We tried to explain that it erupted long, long ago and there was virtually no chance of it happening again.  Then when we got to the visitor center, we were warned to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes and mountain lions!

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