Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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New Digs

I am now living in Dallas proper, not just in the Dallas area.

I have a room at Shepherd Inn where I am the house manager. Right now that mostly means I cook. I don’t love cooking, but everyone likes my food here so I don’t hate it either.

My ex husband hated my cooking. He is the only person I know who could make the statement “This is like gourmet food” sound like an insult. He liked very processed food and I tend to start with ingredients and try to add veg whenever possible. He didn’t like veg. He wanted meat, cheese and bread. I’m surprised he didn’t have more digestion issues than he did. Anyway.

It’s nice to cook for people who appreciate it. I made crock pot chicken twice now. Banana bread. Egg salad. Omelets. Salmon. I have a crock pot of apple sauce cooking. It’ll be like apple pie filling without the crust. Chicken salad. This week I’ll try for spaghetti sauce. We have a couple pounds of venison in the freezer that I want to use up. Maybe chili later in the week.

We have our first guest at Shepherd Inn. She was an emergency intake, her boyfriend basically beat the shit out of her and she had nowhere to go. We are supposed to get a young single mom later this week. It’s pretty exciting. I really hope we can make a difference in these people’s lives.

V is painting the living room with her mother. I hope it’s done in time to go grocery shopping later today. We don’t need a lot of stuff but we are out of a few things. I’m working on this and on my Patreon today so I’m not painting. I don’t really have clothes to paint in anyway.

I had a job interview yesterday with Texas Workforce Commission, or Work In Texas or whatever euphemism they’re using for the unemployment office these days. I guess it’s not actually the unemployment office because all that is handled through a single office in Austin. The local centers are all about employment. So the position would be helping people get further education to move into a different field and helping with job matching. I was deucedly unprepared for the interview. They wanted to know what I knew about the job, which was pretty much nothing. I did tell them at the end that I knew I didn’t a lot about the job, but a benefit of that is that they can train me their way because I don’t bring a lot of preconceived notions with me. They gave me several scenarios to comment on. V overheard — it was online so I was in the kitchen — and said I interviewed really well. I’m not sure the interviewers share her opinion. But I did my best, what else can a person do?

I spoke to unemployment this week. They called me which was good because I had been trying for ages to reach them and couldn’t get through. I was offered that job at the census bureau but not given a start date. Now census says operations are suspended so I can’t even guess when they’ll need me. I figured I probably qualified for the extra $600 they are giving out, even though I have otherwise used up my benefits for the year. So they are going to update the information and reapply for me. See what happens.

I had several face masks, and now I can’t find any of them. I have misplaced the llama one and the sugar skull one. Sugar skulls might be in the car so I should check there but the llamas, I don’t know. I really need to look for them in case we go out later. We’re supposed to go grocery shopping and we are still social distancing.

Texas is supposed to be opening up starting yesterday. Restaurants are open at 25% capacity to keep distance between diners. Bars the same. But I am hoping for Barnes & Noble or Half Price Books to open. I miss coffee and browse the stacks. So many cool books waiting for me to read them.

I am currently reading Unf#ck Your Brain by Faith G. Harper. It’s a small book but it is taking me forever to read. I really hate that I can’t read any more. Well I can still read, I mean, I know how; but I seem to lack the focus to actually read a book. Even fiction.

I have put in my background check for CK Family Services. Talk about extensive! Ten years of residences, 6 personal references, and oh yeah supply my own copy of my driving record. Even the government didn’t ask for that much stuff. Though I suppose they have a record of my addresses due to filing income tax.

Parkland has been a headache. I am out of my blood pressure meds and I can’t get them. The out-of-pocket price was $108 which I just don’t have. I tried to apply for the Parkland Plan but I didn’t have all the documents I needed. I was told to bring a copy of my latest bank statement. I went back yesterday with the statement and they told me it was supposed to be my last 3 statements. I can go back Monday to finish the process but oh boy, do I not feel like going. But I will. I will feel pretty achy by Monday and be ready to get my meds. I might bring daughter down with me since she needs the insurance too. She would also benefit from the VIP program for abuse survivors. I just don’t know if she’ll live in town long enough to attend it. Her lease is up in August.

So much going on, and I’m feeling a real need to look for those masks. I think I’ll jump off here.


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Last Day in Hutchins

Tomorrow is moving day, tonight is my last night here.

I am definitely ambivalent about it. This has been my home for 5 years now and it’s sad to leave. On the other hand, I’m looking forward to new adventures.

I am almost all packed. I have one load of laundry left to pack. It’s clean and in the basket, just needs me to fold it and pack it. I need to pack the bathroom but I can’t really do that until I’m done with my morning ablutions. I will need access to my toothbrush and contacts after all.

I need to remember to get my laundry supplies out of the laundry room. I also need to remember some of my stuff from the kitchen. That smoothie powder that I don’t like. Maybe V will like it.

There is a chocolate cake for me and milk to wash it down. That will be nice tonight. And I have a chocolate bunny waiting for me.

Yes, I bought bunnies for everyone this year. White chocolate for L, milk chocolate for F, and dark chocolate for me. I think we each believe we got the best of the bunch.

I have turned in my house key and the mailbox keys. L gave me back my food stamps card. I owe F for 2 months of phone bill. I’m trying to think what else.

So about noontime everyone will show up, friend and boyfriend, and daughter and boyfriend. So there will be 5 of us loading up from here and with V there will be 6 of us unloading there.

I wish I had something profound to say. I feel like I should acknowledge the occasion in some way. I’m melancholy and sentimental; I think they call that maudlin.

I have completed the Trust Based Parenting course. I feel rather empowered by it. They advocate a lot of the way I raised E, so apparently I had some good ideas. Of course we will be working with older kids so a lot of the tools they gave us won’t apply, but a lot of the thinking behind it will.

For example, respecting the young person as a person is important. She has certain rights, such as the right to privacy. She’ll come to us with a past, with a story that is her own. It’s not my business to tell her story, even though I am likely to be excited about the new relationship. Is that the right terminology? Because this is a relationship, hopefully a therapeutic one.

This should be an interesting job, challenging and fulfilling.


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The Argument About Selling Seeds

Piggybacking off yesterday’s post . . .

It seems odd to me that seeds are considered non-essential, but here’s the thing:

There are small businesses and mom-and-pop places that sell seeds, toys, pet supplies, etc. which have been told to close because they are not essential businesses.

Here comes the big box store selling groceries and with a bank and a pharmacy, but also selling furniture and craft paint and clothes and car parts and camping supplies and toys and gardening supplies. Customers can go in the store because groceries and pharmacy are essential, but they can buy this other stuff as well.

Small businesses say, if it’s not essential for me to sell, then it’s not essential for them to sell. Or, to put it the other way, if WalMart can sell seeds as an essential business, then so can Ruibal’s. (By the way, Ruibal’s at Farmers Market in Dallas has one of my favorite shop cats. Just saying.) It’s not fair to close Ruibal’s and allow WalMart to do that kind of business. It basically puts the little guy out of business while allowing the behemoth to benefit from picking up the slack.

So in some places — because this seems to be by location, not a federal mandate — you will find big box stores with different departments closed.

I hadn’t really thought how bad this lockdown is for small businesses, but now that it’s come to my attention, I can see it.

And I am a fan of small businesses, I want to see them survive this event.


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Gardening As a Subversive Act

Only certain stores are allowed to be open, they have to provide essential services. So nail salons are not open but grocery stores are. However certain items can only be purchased in stores of a certain size. This means that, for example, Wal-Mart often exceeds the square footage requirement so they can’t sell certain items that are not essential.

Among the non-essential items are seeds. Apparently the seasonal department is closed down and at this time of year, that’s the gardening department.

So growing your own vegetables is considered non-essential.

To me, there is no reason to discourage people from gardening, and in fact it feels like the government doesn’t want us to grow our own food.

Which to me, is the perfect reason to do it.

I used to garden when I was a kid. I grew flowers, mom grew vegetables. I had a flower bed near the house, mom dug up the ground over the septic tank. As a child I never thought about it, it was just the grassy place then the vegetable garden, but as an adult I’m a little grossed out. I’m not invested in gardening very much at this point, but fresh veg is always a good idea.

V is talking about putting in a raised garden at Shepherd Inn. I’m not sure how she thinks that’s gonna work, but we’ll see. She works more than full time as it is at her non-profit. I need to work to cover my other expenses so I feel like I can’t really devote much time to gardening. The kids, maybe?

What would I plant? Let’s see . . . Tomatoes. Zucchini. Carrots. Mixed lettuce. Should I try onions or potatoes? Maybe some kind of squash like butternut or pumpkin. Peas? Cucumbers? Ooh, bell peppers. Radishes. Salad fixin’s. Beets. What, I like beets! Broccoli? Jalapenos?

Possibilities.

I’d have to order seeds by mail. I’d go with Burpee, since that’s the company my Grandpa used. Until I wanted heirloom seeds, then I’d have to look somewhere else.

So, gardening might become a thing in my world.


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Kitten Milk Replacer

Did you know they make formula for kittens? They do. They keep it way in the back of the store, down low, so it’s a little hard to find.

Daughter’s boyfriend has a cat named Pumpkin. Pumpkin has had kittens. They are already pretty developed. They are less than 2 weeks old and they are opening their eyes and at least one boy has visible testicles. I think Pumpkin held off pushing them out until she just couldn’t keep them inside any longer. If that’s possible.

Now it’s a first litter for Pumpkin, and she is a young cat, so daughter wasn’t sure how it would go. It’s mostly gone okay, though Pumpkin has decided that the kittens belong in the center of the bed. Whenever they are moved, she moves them back. Clearly a sign that daughter and boyfriend are part of Pumpkin’s family.

Pumpkin is a little bored of kittens. She gets up and leaves them nested in the blankets pretty often. Daughter has noticed that sometimes the kittens are actively nursing when Pumpkin leaves, and this gave her some concern about them getting enough nutrition. So that entailed a trip to PetSmart today to get kitten milk.

Daughter had no money, so I volunteered what I had. I gave her all my cash, which was about $11, and my PayPal card which I believed had another $5. Turned out the PayPal card was empty so that left her short. However the person at the store wanted kittens to be fed and gave her a discount to make the milk powder affordable. I am now broke. I owe the bank for an overdraft, and I am out of cash and PayPal money. (If you’re feeling generous, I’m taking donations, or check out my Patreon or my Etsy.)

I don’t mind being broke for kitties, though I’m a little stressed about it.

In other news, I am at the point in packing where I’m doing laundry. I have a week to go before M-day. M for Moving of course. I’m getting pretty excited. I have assistance lined up so that’s good. Charli kitty will come with me but Mr Momo will stay here. Charli is attached to me and will adjust to the move. Momo took months to settle down after moving here, and we’ve been here 5 years, so he is also attached to my roommates. He would not be happy to move and they enjoy him, so he stays.

Support groups continue online. It’s not optimum but it’s better than not meeting at all. I feel glad to see my friends, and we are in touch by text as well as Zoom. I’m learning to appreciate modern media. I can’t really call it social media, that sounds like InstaGram and Facebook. But it’s definitely new technology.

Roommate L has made dinner tonight. Wonderful pork chops with an Asian flair, and mashed potatoes. I really love potatoes. I will miss her cooking at the new place. But I am told there are volunteers on a 2 week rotation for making dinners, so we’ll see what happens. I expect a lot of pasta, chicken or ground beef, and rice and beans.

I am thinking what to do with my stimulus money, which I’m pretty sure I’m going to get. I have a large bill that I think I’ll pay a chunk of, like half. I could pay the whole thing, but that leaves me with no money for myself. I need to inspect and register the car, pay car insurance, pick up meds. Plus I need new cat supplies for the new place. So, really, there isn’t a bonus for me with this, it is necessary money.

I am still working out the ShiftSmart app. I have emailed support and I’m waiting for a message back. That’ll be around $50 which would also be nice.

So money money money makes the world go ’round, but everything else is going fine. I’m mostly pretty content and moving into the future, just got to finish packing.


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Hunger Busters

I had the opportunity to work for an organization called Hunger Busters this week. They provide lunches for kids who usually get the free lunch at school. Since schools are closed, many times these kids simply don’t eat. This program provides 2 meals per day per child, Monday through Friday. All you need is the kid’s name and the name of the school, although they like to have a student ID number too.

Now it’s not haute cuisine. I spent my time making ham and cheese sandwiches, and stuffing apples and chips into paper sacks. But for a kid who might not get lunch, this is a necessary meal. Can’t have hungry kids roaming around, so I felt good about feeding the little ones.

I still haven’t got the ShiftSmart app working on my phone. It simply doesn’t show me any shifts. I have emailed them asking for help so hopefully they’ll get back to me shortly. I got one email from them saying they’d reply within half an hour, and then a second one saying due to high volume etc. etc. it would be more like 3 to 5 days. So I wait.

I visited my daughter after working. It was good to see her. What was even nicer, was seeing boyfriend come home. They play together. They joke and wrestle and enjoy each other’s company. It made me happy. I hope it lasts. Just writing this puts tears in my eyes for her. Big mom emotion.

I am mostly packed. Probably about 80% done. I have run out of places to put boxes in my room. I am at the point where I mostly have to do laundry so today I washed my comforter and some blankets. Tomorrow I’ll wash black clothes and underwear. Nothing amazing but it needs to get done.

Packing is both easy and hard. I am excited to find stuff I’ve been missing. I’m a snail mail geek, so I was happy to find some packages of envelopes. On the other hand, I don’t know how to put this things in boxes so I can find it again. That’s the rub. It’s not boxing things up, there’s no difficulty just picking up the next item and dropping it in a box. The problem is doing it in a way that’s at least semi organized so you can find stuff later. But most of it is art supplies so finding any of it at all will be amazing.

I don’t fully understand why I keep getting certain things in the mail. I am out of money and overdrawn at the bank. How can I keep getting things that I haven’t paid for? But here we are, I got a package from my house items today, and I know I didn’t order it. I can’t afford it. So we shall see what happens.

Money continues to be an issue in my life. Shepherd Inn is talking about paying me maybe $500 a month, since room and board is covered. That still only brings me to about $17,000 a year so I’ll need another job as well. Plus I still owe the government for health insurance and for that company card. I thought I had made a huge payment on that card but it apparently bounced out so the amount is a lot larger than I thought. I am very stressed about money.

I found my 2″ circle punch so that made me happy. It was in the car, of all places. I’m thinking, with this punch, I could make pins. I mean those button type pins for novelty items. I don’t know how much the machine costs though so it might not be cost effective. Now if I have a wealthy reader who is feeling generous . . . (I’m sure you’re all in the boat I am.)

So I keep on trucking. Life continues its forward momentum. And really, in this time of stress and blockage, that’s a miracle.


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Moving Forward

In so many ways it feels like life has come to a complete halt but in other ways it’s still moving forward.

It’s spring in Texas. Bluebonnets are out along the highway and I saw a lovely patch of Indian paint brush the other day. I haven’t seen anybody stopping to take the obligatory annual bluebonnet photos that are a Texas tradition, but that is likely to be due to rain as much as social distancing.

Pumpkin the cat has had a litter of 4 kittens. Daughter now has 14 cats in her house: 2 of her own, 1 of her boyfriend’s, and 4 that belong to her roommates plus 2 litters of kittens. One litter is actually old enough to go to new homes but the person who wants them lives in another state and travel is restricted right now.

We had a meeting at Dunbar House with a potential client. She seems like she could really benefit from 3 – 6 months of assistance while she gets her feet under her. And she seems pretty motivated to move her life ahead. The drawbacks are that she has a dog which she simply could not bring with her, and she has a significant other who she would like to stay with. We can’t take in a couple. In fact, I said to V today, we should let it be known that there is no dating within the household. I just see that being a bit of a problem.

I am still planning to move on the 18th. I picked up boxes from a friend today. It was so weird, both of us with masks and afraid to actually chat about anything because of risk of exposure. I just totally appreciate the boxes. I should be able to finish packing now.

I am finding all kinds of cool stuff in my bedroom as I pack. I mean, I knew I had it. I just didn’t know where it was exactly.

I need to do much laundry in the next week. Charli the kitty has been peeing in my laundry again so I need to get that handled and packed. If I can just wash and pack that will be easiest.

I have no idea where I’ll be putting stuff once I move. So much of it is art supplies. I need to actually use art supplies instead of just buying them. I hope to have an opportunity to make some art once I move.

So yeah, things are difficult and strange, but on the other hand the situation is changing even as I write this. Slowly but still shifting. Slow is not staying still, so that’s good. Hopefully things will be different before too long, in a good way.

I feel pretty optimistic today.