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Thursday, November 9, 2017

MyKatrina Cookies

As is often the case, it started out simply enough. I woke up on a gloomy, chilly morning in a room that was dark because of cloudy skies, and chilly because of the fall weather. Blah would have been one of the words that aptly described the day and what it was trying to do with my mood. And then suddenly things changed. 

I received a text from our friend Sharon. Her daughter Megan had told her that she was probably going to make Katrina Cookies that day. Sharon thought this was especially sweet (pardon the unintentional pun) since Megan had told her just a few days before about wanting to lose some weight. Knowing that Megan was going to use my recipe and technique to make the cookies she loves really warmed my heart. Maybe the day wasn't so gloomy after all.

Early that evening, I was notified that Megan had posted something to my social media timeline. Along with a photo of a pan that had a few cookie bars remaining was Megan's admission that it "might be what was left of my Katrina cookies." With that simple statement, just like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that day.

Now, Megan knows that a lot of people like to eat my cookie bars. The ones she makes are the chocolate chip bars, which fight with the oatmeal-chip bars for top honors in the popularity department. I have no doubt that some of my sly friends would say, with a studied look of innocence on their faces, that I should probably let them taste a batch of each side-by-side so that they can decide which they think is better. Ha! I can see right through that ruse! 

Something that Megan doesn't know is the power of the words my Katrina, or MyKatrina, as I like to write it. Megan does know that there are a lot of dogs who absolutely adore me. Her own, now departed, Buster was one of those dogs. He was a Cairn Terrier, like Toto, and he would get very excited when I came to visit. I'd sit on the sofa and Buster would jump up to the back of the sofa and excitedly rub his face and neck against my face. When prompted by Megan or her dad Mike, he would "get my nose" by grabbing it gently with the side of his mouth. I loved his excitement and exuberance, but I didn't realize how special this treatment was. After some time of knowing him, I was told by the family that he only did the nose-grabbing with three people - Megan, Mike, and me. Wow. 

Another dog who loved me immensely was Bowie. I used to joke with Marie and Thayne (we miss you, man) that to Bowie I wasn't simply Katrina, I was MyKatrina. In fact, when I was massaging his human brother's neck, Bowie used his paw to literally pull my arm away. This was followed by the dog equivalent of a dirty look that said, "Buzz off! That's MyKatrina!"

When Marie saw Megan's post, she remarked that Megan had called them My Katrina cookies, and that Bowie resembled that statement. Of course when I saw the original post, that was one of my first thoughts too. Both of Marie's (adult) children chimed in about loving Katrina cookies, and soon another friend was asking for the recipe. I was, as I said, definitely feeling the cookie love. Because of all of this warm, chocolatey atmosphere, I've decided to share it with all of you, my dear readers. Enjoy!

MyKatrina Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (1/2 pound) butter, very soft
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 or 2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup to one 12 oz. package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

The method:
Using a hand-held electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars in a large bowl. When fully blended, add egg or eggs and vanilla. (One egg will result in a crispier cookie bar. Most of the time, I use two.) Mix well. Add the baking soda, again mixing thoroughly. Finally, add the flour and chocolate chips, mixing until the flour is all incorporated. Press the mixture gently into a 13 x 9 metal pan with a spatula, and let the oven do its magic. Check at about 18 to 20 minutes for a golden brown color. Let your taste in cookies determine what's brown enough for you - that's the done-ness test. Let cool thoroughly before cutting into bars of a size that pleases you. I always bake late in the evening and let them cool overnight. 

Some important tips:

I always use salted butter. Also, some people say making them with margarine tastes exactly the same, but I do not agree.

Please don't use a glass or ceramic baking pan. The pan won't cool down as quickly, and the cookies will over-bake after you remove them from the oven. This may result in the cookies being too dry as well as losing that delightful baked-but-still-seems-like-cookie-dough texture.

I have made these with numerous variations, including substituting chopped Andes mints, chopped chocolate-toffee bars, and other flavors of chocolate morsels, as well as adding nuts to the basic recipe.

Have fun, and happy eating! I think the ones on the edges and corners are the best. :)



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The Tip Jar:

As always, I am happy and honored to write for you. It brings me great joy, and I hope that it gives you joy and/or food for thought. If you'd like to support the cause, please visit:

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Brutus vs. The Lunatic

Some days are very...interesting. Not all good, not all bad, but certainly eventful. Yesterday was one such day for me. One of the major players of said day was the occasional jerk, Brutus D. FatCat, pictured here on his mom Liz's bed.



I have just begun covering up with a blanket at night in the last week or so. The nights have been mild and thanks to hormonal changes, I often find myself basking in the fires of my internal central heating. Early yesterday morning I stirred a bit in my sleep and pulled the sheet and cotton blanket a bit higher over my shoulders. That was when the blanket caught the straw on the uncovered drink on my bedside table, spilling it on my leg, the side of the bed, and on the floor. 

I stumbled out of the room and grabbed a large towel to blot the soaking carpet. Naturally, when I sat down on the edge of the bed to start the drying-up process, FatCat was right next to me, thinking it was a good time to ask for demand some attention. I told him to go away as I was entirely too busy to be petting a cat. I must say that despite having been awakened by this cold drenching, my mood was still positive. I soaked up one towel, laid another on the carpet, and decided to go back to sleep.

Naturally, Brutus saw my reclining as a sign that I had absolutely nothing to do - after all, I was just laying there. He began slowly and painfully walking his way up my legs to stare at me, ending up between me and the edge of the bed. Now, I have heard and even said many things over the years about how cats seem to routinely defy the rules of physics. There was just one thing I didn't realize until Brutus moved in with The Lunatic and company. Somehow a 13 1/2 pound cat can put enough pressure on the blood vessels in your legs that you are convinced that a small van, or maybe even a large tour bus, has run you over and parked on your broken body. I'm serious! After a couple of pats and a stern reprimand telling him not to screw around with the vertical blinds, Brutus moved on and allowed us to get some more sleep.

In usual occasional-jerk-cat fashion, Brutus was right there in our faces and plates when we started to eat our breakfast. Another stern talking-to and he moved down to the foot of the bed. (One of the reasons for his terribly forward behavior recently is undoubtedly that Liz was away from home for a few days and therefore not around to distract him.) Breakfast being done with, the FatCat went back to his bedroom.

About mid-day I decided I wanted to eat a container of my favorite yogurt, and Fatso was right there, trying to muscle his way into my yogurt container. More chiding, more laying at the foot of the bed, and I sat down the empty yogurt container, telling him that he could help himself, per Liz's telling me how much he loooooves yogurt. So Brutie-Patootie licked the jar for a few minutes, left, returned to lick yogurt for a few more minutes, and left, and then IT HAPPENED.

Trent was sitting on the throne of meditation when Brutus arrived for the third time. As he turned around, affording me a view of his backside (Why are cats so convinced that everyone wants to see their heinie-hole, anyway?), I was greeted with a horrific sight. The cat who was on my bed, on the sheets and blanket that had just been put on the bed the previous evening, had a trail of diarrhea still attached to his rear, along with some down one of his legs. Blech.

All I really thought was that there was no way I was allowing cat sludge on my fresh bed, or even one with soiled linens. I automatically grabbed the cat while I scanned the area for a paper towel or napkin. Poor Trent! I starting calling for help while Brutus yowled and growled at the same time as he starting chomping the living daylights out of my hand. Hey, it's not like it was an important hand. It was only the right hand of a right-handed human, no big deal. I gave up and let go of the cat when he scored an incredibly painful bite, and set out to wipe the offending cat tush.

The good news was that when Fatso jumped off the bed to escape, the stink lava that was hanging off his behind fell on the carpet. I know this because I found it with my foot. Going as fast as I could while walking only on the toes of one of my feet, I was in hot pursuit. When he saw that I had followed him to his bedroom, instead of hiding under the bed, he glared boldly at this human who had forgotten her place. Acting on instinct, I distracted him by giving him some treats and wiped his furry behind and legs.

After dousing my bloody hand with copious amounts of hydrogen peroxide and finally stopping the bleeding, I was able to remove the carpet bomb from both the floor and the bottom of my foot. I sat down and looked at all of the bite marks on my hand. There aren't that many. Less than 20. Okay, 19. I showed Trent the back of my hand and commented about how close the deepest puncture had come to a vein. Close call.

A much closer call than I had thought, actually. As the day progressed I came to realize that Killer Cat had actually nicked the vein with his fangs of death. I gradually developed a lump which kept growing (this is one of the moments when life with anticoagulants gets a bit too exciting) until my hand was hurting something fierce. Brutus had exacted his revenge, and the bleeding under the skin got increasingly uncomfortable. I know there's nothing to do now but wait for it to heal, but I had to share this crazy wild-feline insanity with you, my dear readers. I hope you find it as funny as I did in spite of the discomfort. Oh, and to prove that I really did get an owie, here's a side-by-side of a Katrina hand and one that looks like it's not quite standard equipment.



Cats. What can I say? Stay away from the pointy ends, of which there seem to be about three dozen? And when things just get ridiculously out of hand, or out of paw, sometimes you just have to laugh.


p.s. And to think that I totally skipped the part of the day during which I took a package of chicken out of the fridge and it leaked all over the kitchen floor, as well as my former poop-foot...



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The Tip Jar:

As always, I am happy and honored to write for you. It brings me great joy, and I hope that it gives you joy and/or food for thought. If you'd like to support the cause, please visit:

https://www.paypal.me/TheLunatic

Monday, September 25, 2017

Eight Days Ago

Eight days ago, I was a bit worried. It was Sunday, and for a few days I had definitely been feeling like a person who has lupus. I was exhausted and achy and several other things that made me worried about my least-favorite f word as a lupus patient - flare.

How would I find the energy to get ready for our upcoming weekend in the mountains with our friends? We would just have to pack our bags a little at a time. I could ride in the car with my head resting, and probably feel okay.

Meanwhile, the friends we were going to be with on the weekend were arriving home from a trip to Hawaii. They had originally planned to go to Florida, but hurricane Irma convinced them to change their plans. Thayne, Marie, and Thayne's sister Julie enjoyed several days in Hawaii, and Thayne was excited about his experience swimming with sea turtles. 

On Sunday night, all of us were in our respective homes. Thayne told Marie that his feet were really swollen post-travel. As is usual for me, insomnia was my companion that night. When the phone rang at 8:00 am on Monday, I was still half asleep. I said I couldn't answer because I was too groggy. Trent picked up his phone and saw several missed calls from both Marie and Julie.

While I struggled to get fully awake, Trent called Marie to see what was going on that would require several calls to both of our phones. "Thayne passed away this morning," Marie told us. He had left home at 6:00 to pick up his son-in-law and carpool to work. Kevin waited on the street as 6:15 and 6:30 came and went. He called Marie and they both got in their cars to see if Thayne's car had broken down on the way.

Not far from home, Marie saw that traffic was blocked because of an accident. Thayne's car had run into a light pole. She pulled over in front of the emergency vehicles, ready to give him a piece of her mind for texting and driving and wrecking his car. It was Thayne's death that caused the accident, though, and not the other way around. (Miraculously, no other people or vehicles were harmed.) Despite the valiant efforts of emergency personnel, he was gone. The coroner's report won't be ready for several weeks, but it appears that Thayne had gotten some blood clots in his legs from the long flights home, and they broke loose and went to his heart.

Trent and I went to the hospital to provide support for Marie and her family. When I saw him laying on the gurney, covered with a sheet up to his chin, I kept expecting to see the sheet move, rising with his breathing. I gave him a kiss on the cheek and Trent and I brushed away the final tears that Thayne had shed. I told him he was a turd for leaving without saying goodbye, and all of us gave a chuckle knowing that he would have found it funny.

Instead of packing for a weekend getaway, we experienced being with the family as they planned his funeral and mourned the loss of a vital 57 year old man. He was able to give some last gifts - his corneas and some of his leg bones and tendons went to people who needed them. The empty spaces he leaves in so many hearts will be difficult to heal, but we will try to do so with laughter and joyful memories. Thayne loved to laugh, and sharing our funny memories will honor him.

On Saturday, we returned Thayne to the earth that nourishes us with both food and beauty. Geese will graze on the grass that blankets his resting space, a beautiful and bittersweet reminder that life goes on in spite of our losses or our victories. Nature flows along with the seasons, just as it did eight days ago, the day before our friend was gone. We miss you, Thayne.  


A note from The Lunatic: There are two things that I think we can learn from Thayne's death. Our bodies are fragile. Please try to walk around periodically when you fly or take long trips by car, or consider using compression socks. Second, let the people you care about know that you love or admire or like them. Tomorrow has no guarantees, and we can never share our hearts too many times with the ones we love.


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The Tip Jar:

As always, I am happy and honored to write for you. It brings me great joy, and I hope that it gives you joy and/or food for thought. If you'd like to support the cause, please visit:

https://www.paypal.me/TheLunatic

Monday, August 14, 2017

Midnight, and Not so Special

It was a hot late-July day and my sister was trying to tie up some loose ends before having her third hip surgery (one hip replacement, two repairs) on the last day of the month. She had various appointments to schedule and/or go to, and got on the phone to schedule another. Liz mentioned that she needed to try and squeeze in (pun intended) a mammogram, also known by many as a "boob sandwich." I think that calling it a panini is more fun, but I digress.

I wasn't paying much attention when Liz got on the phone to see if she could schedule the appointment, at least not until she told the person on the other end of the line that she had to schedule an MRI. I thought it was odd; she hadn't mentioned anything that would necessitate such a major test. But hey, what do I know? While she was on hold being transferred to the scheduling desk, she turned to me and asked, "What is the thing with an M for the boobs?" When we established that she needed to schedule a mammogram rather than an MRI, she disconnected and called back.

Liz managed to charm her way into an appointment before her surgery date. After going over the times and actually scheduling the appointment, the scheduler wanted to make sure that Liz knew the basic rules for the test, like no deo for B.O. and no perfumes and such. Liz tried to beat her to the punch by saying that she knew what to do to prepare - no deodorant, no perfume, no underwear. I guess that scheduler finally had something out of the ordinary to talk about after work that day! After she quit choking from laughing so hard and told all of her co-workers first, that is.

In the time leading up to the surgery, Liz forgot to tell us the name of the hospital where the surgery would be performed. She had a last-minute test on the morning of surgery which would determine whether the surgery would be performed or not. (She had an irregular-looking EKG at the doctor's office, but everything turned out just fine.) She drove to the hospital for the surgery and spent two nights in the hospital before we brought her home on Wednesday.

Wednesday was a quiet evening. Liz was pretty tired and the pain pills and muscle relaxers helped her drift off to the land of sleep. So far, so good. Until Thursday. We actually had a nice day on Thursday. Of course, the time from the surgery on is pretty fuzzy for Liz because of all of the medications. Sadly, Trent and I have no such memory shields in place.

When I am acting as a caregiver, I try to make sure that the person I'm helping has settled down for the night before I go to bed. I fall asleep listening to an audio book, so I want to make sure that last-minute needs like beverages and potty excursions are all done. So on the first Thursday post-op (after surgery on Monday, mind you) I went in to check on Liz before I went to bed. Liz was sitting up in her bed with a drawer next to her, going through it and sorting stuff in piles and generally making a mess and making Nurse Lunatic a wee bit concerned. And then the show began. 

In the space of perhaps thirty seconds, she told me that she fell when she pulled the drawer out, that she took two Ambien and it didn't help her sleep at all, and that she had to pick someone up and drive them from our northern suburb to a courthouse in a southern suburb the next morning. Let's call her Friend 1. I calmly reminded her that she had only had surgery three days before, and wasn't supposed to drive for four to six weeks. She was undeterred. I suggested many alternatives, including an Uber or Lyft bringing her friend here, and her friend driving Liz's car from here. My suggestions fell on deaf ears, but I still remained calm.

She kept saying that she promised, so she had to give a ride to Friend 2. And that she might have to sit around and wait for a ride home. She explained it to me like the idiot I was when I said I was getting confused on who she was talking about and why she might have to wait. And I remained calm. Then she said she had known Friend 2 since before she knew Friend 3. And that she needed to get dressed.

I kindly but firmly told her that she needed to put away the drawer and get some sleep. When I went to make her some super-strength chamomile tea (rather that the "either coffee or hot chocolate" she requested, and told her that no, there weren't any burritos in the fridge ) she partially pulled out two more drawers and rifled through them. I talked her down off that ledge and told her that I wanted to go to bed. Liz's response? "Is Trent going with you?" What??? "Is Trent going with you where you're going?" I told her I was going to bed because it was after midnight. And then she got up and got dressed because, as she said, that's just the way she is. And I remained calm.

After telling her numerous times that it was after midnight and not 7:30 a.m. (because her clock battery had run out at 7:30) I was hoping we were done. Then the drive discussion recommenced. I once again quietly explained why she shouldn't drive and was told she is rebellious, to which I kindly replied that it was more like self-destructive. More discussion about driving and I was told not to act like her mother. I gently replied that I was acting like a caring sister. I finally got her to get into bed.

After I gave Trent a run-down on the events and relaxed, I was eager to sleep. About ten minutes after I entered Snoozeville, Trent nudged me awake. Liz had left the house at a little after 2:00 a.m. When I finally managed to reach her, she said that she realized what time it was and that she would turn around and come home. An hour or so later, after a botched visit to Taco Bell and lots of driving around in circles, Liz came home. She was in a huff about the food she didn't receive before she left the drive-through window, and I offered to make her something to eat. She went to her room, and we ours, and a few minutes later I texted her and again offered to cook her a meal. I got her response about an hour later, just as I was once again dozing off. 

I cannot tell a lie - since I didn't get to sleep until after 4:30 Friday morning, I was pretty grateful that Liz slept like a stone all day Friday. I think I may have managed to get a nap, but I can't remember. Liz was stunned when we told her what had happened the night before, and probably more than a bit worried since she couldn't remember anything except the Taco Bell part. 

I have now seen one of the unusual side-effects of sleeping pills firsthand. Some people will get up and drive somewhere or prepare and eat a meal, all in the middle of the night and with no recollection of doing so. And Liz had taken a double dose. And I have learned that when I am the unimpaired caregiver in that situation, I can still interact gently and remain calm. Until I leave their presence, that is!


An important note from The Lunatic: Please exercise the utmost caution with sleeping pills, whether prescription or over the counter, especially if you are taking other medications. Luckily for all of us, nobody was hurt and we had a happy ending. But we all know that things could have gone much differently.

Be well, be safe, and be calm, my friends!


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The Tip Jar:

As always, I am happy and honored to write for you. It brings me great joy, and I hope that it gives you joy and/or food for thought. If you'd like to support the cause, please visit:

https://www.paypal.me/TheLunatic

Thursday, July 27, 2017

For My Women, My Ladies, My Girls (Also brave and enlightened men, if they wish.)

Recently Trent and I were watching something on tv, a program I can't even remember at this point. It wasn't that it was lousy or boring, it's just that remembering what it was just didn't happen to be very important. As we were watching this scintillating television program, a commercial break arrived, as they inevitably do. One of the commercials was the inevitable feminine hygiene sales pitch.

Now, I wasn't paying very close attention because:
1) I was playing a game on my phone while watching the telly, AKA multi-tasking, and,
2) I have seen and heard way too many crazy feminine hygiene commercials in my lifetime.

You won't be surprised that I could tell you the gist of this advertisement without even looking at the screen. You've heard it too. If you use Brand X Tampons, your life will be full of sunshine, daisies, laughter, and white trousers or skirts. Yes, if you use this brand, you will be able to conquer the world. Seriously, even if you have no desire to do so, you will conquer it because you'll be That Confident.

You will also become a champion-level participant in any number of sports, you'll be smarter, you'll be more social, you'll be awesome. All because you use Awesome Tampons. So get some Awesome Tampons, put on a white swimsuit, and jump off that diving board into the pool at the party. Mm-hmm.

Well, here's the reality as I see it, my Sisters of the Menses. It is certainly a possibility that I might attend your pool party even if it falls during my Moon Time. However, I will not be jumping off the diving board into the pool. Hey, I can't swim. But even if I did, I wouldn't be jumping into the pool on that particular day. I would not be wearing a swimsuit, nor would I be wearing white shorts, skirt, or trousers. 

I would be wearing darker-colored bottoms because they are best at camouflaging leakage. I would be wearing my Awesome Tampon with a Super Pad as backup. In my entire life, despite purchasing numerous brands, I have yet to find tampons that absorb fluid on both sides. I have, however, found many that absorb on one side only, hence the Super Pad for the inevitable leakage. While I am at the pool party, I will be checking the situation Down South every hour at a minimum, and sometimes even more frequently. It is a given that if I laugh heartily, sneeze, walk, eat, or breathe, I will likely need to check sooner.

When I retire for the night, armed with a super-absorbent tampon and a super-long pad affixed to my undergarment (AKA The Bedtime Diaper), I will be restless. The chances are high that when I wake and sit for a moment before rising, I will inadvertently create a crime scene. After taking care of myself, I will be laundering the sheets, my undies, and my jammies. And guess what? It might happen again tomorrow!

I'm actually quite lucky because Trent is very understanding and sympathetic. He knows that he will never fully understand, but he is always willing to listen. And sometimes he surprises me, like he did during the commercial that I completely ignored. He turned to me, and in a voice full of surprise and a bit of disgust, he exclaimed, "There's not a single woman of color in that entire commercial! That's ridiculous! It's not just white women who have periods!"

Yeah, that's my guy. I love him. Maybe together we can conquer the world. Even during Moon Time. 



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The Tip Jar:

As always, I am happy and honored to write for you. It brings me great joy, and I hope that it gives you joy and/or food for thought. If you'd like to support the cause, please visit:

https://www.paypal.me/TheLunatic

Friday, July 14, 2017

Freedom Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. I am not sharing this tidbit in a passive-aggressive bid to have you, my treasured readers, rush to shower me with birthday greetings. That you look at my Ravings at all is a gift that I get to enjoy whenever I put words on the page and you read them. But yesterday being my birthday is a central point of the true tale I am now going to relate. 

I've mentioned my sister Liz on several occasions in my posts, and this story is about Liz, Trent, and The Lunatic. My sister was married for a number of years to a man who was not the best person he could be. He wasn't a drinker or a carouser or a chaser of women. He was a cruel and abusive man. Many people have commented over the years, and likely still do, that the fact that his nickname was Dick was not a mere coincidence. 

I tried to like him because he was my sister's husband, but he made it very difficult. On the day that I met him, he turned the garden hose on her in anger because there was a splat of bird poop on her car. I forgot for many years that on one occasion shortly after I met him, he grabbed my arm very roughly and made it clear that he wanted to physically harm me (Liz was not in the room). By this point, I had been through some severe illness and had been diagnosed with lupus. As I once said to someone else, I had looked death in the face, why should I be afraid of him? I looked at his hand which was squeezing my forearm, looked in his eyes, and very calmly said, "Go ahead and hurt me if you want to. But I have to warn you that I bruise easily, and I will call the police."

He never physically hurt me, buy made it clear on many occasions that I was many variations on a theme which included a certain word that rhymes with ditch. As is common with abusers, he often did whatever he could to keep we sisters apart. And he heaped abuse on her, both verbal and physical, time and time again.

For a very long time I, along with many others who cared about Liz in varying ways, kept thinking that she should "just leave." If life was such misery, why didn't she simply move on? As a child whose abusive father killed her mother, I have always had particularly strong feelings about partner abuse. So it ate at me to think that history could potentially repeat itself.

One day in late winter or early spring of 2016, I had an incredible moment of clarity that hit me out of nowhere. I realized that if I were in Liz's situation, I couldn't "just leave" because I might not have a place to go or the means to do so. I said this to Trent and without even blinking he said, "She'll come live with us." Hey, we're apparently together for good reason. So we took the plunge and I texted Liz, telling her that we were going to make a place for her in our home for whenever she was ready to leave her husband.

Liz began to spend entire days with us, sometimes just sitting quietly stringing beads, or folding laundry for us (something she enjoys and I could gladly live without). From time to time, she would spend the night on the twin-sized pullout bed in the living room, sleeping more peacefully without her abuser at hand. Trent and I were pleased to see the changes in her. Just knowing that she had a place to go seemed to give her an extra bit of strength and confidence.

And then my birthday rolled around. Dick was notorious for making any holiday or birthday miserable for Liz. When any of these special occasions were on the horizon, he'd go out of his way to find some reason to be angry with her. At the very least, there were no birthday or holiday wishes. At the very worst, there was more verbal or physical abuse.

So on my birthday last year, Liz came over to have dinner with us after spending the day at work. We were relaxing in the living room after dinner when he called her in a rage. Even though she had her phone up to her ear, I could hear all of the vile things he was screaming at her. He informed her that when she got home she would have to spend the entire night cleaning the house because it was too dirty. Mind you that Liz has had a hip replacement and had additional surgery on the same hip early last year. She had also worked all day on her feet.  
She told him she couldn't because she had to go to work in the morning. And that's when things began to get even uglier. He said if she wasn't going to clean, she might as well stay with her sister. Then he asked her where she really was, because he knew she wasn't at her sister's. Who was she insert crude terminology for engaging in sexual intercourse with someone-ing? She told him again, truthfully, that she was with me and Trent. I offered to speak with him. When I got on the phone, he started screaming that it wasn't me, it was still Liz talking. So I asked if he wanted to speak with Trent to prove that Liz was with us.

Dick said that yes, he would like to speak with Trent. When Trent got on the phone, Dick started to tell him that he was glad that he could tell him what a horrible person he was married to and what kind of family she came from. My wonderful husband said, "This conversation is over. Katrina is my wife and I love her, and I will not listen to you saying nasty things about her. I'm done." I was overflowing with love and pride for my dear husband!

Liz was again on the phone with her husband. He told her not to bother coming home. She said that she had to come home for her pills and some clothes, and that's when it got even worse. His screaming and threats were insane. He told her that if she came home he would f-ing kill her, using the full word, of course. When she replied that she'd call the police, he said to go ahead - when they saw that the house was dirty, they would be on his side. He also threatened to "just throw all of your stuff outdoors." If she even thought of bringing me or Trent along to keep her safe, he'd throw us out or kill us as well. It was the stuff of a made for television film, only real. And nobody could ever make up something that horrible and insane.

Liz got off the phone and said she had to at least go home and get her pills. We made her promise to park about a block from her house, dial 911, and wait for the police before going into the house. The last thing Liz said through her tears before she left was that she was afraid she would end up like her mother. And then we waited.

At about 10:30 I got a call from a number that I didn't recognize, so I didn't answer. They immediately called back. It was a police officer wanting to get my statement as a witness to the phone call and threats. The officer told me that my statement matched up with the one from Liz, and that Dick was being arrested. He insisted that he would never say anything like what she claimed because he is such a nice old man. He spent that night and another couple of days in jail, while Liz was able to remain safely in the house. A protective order was in place until Liz could see about making it permanent. He showed up to one hearing with a walker, claiming that he couldn't even drive. An hour later, he drove his truck to the doctor's office and arrived fully mobile and without the walker.

A couple of weeks later, Dick's daughter (an apple that did not fall far from the tree) had her friend serve divorce papers to Liz while she was working. Liz had already started packing up her possessions. In true fashion, Dick engaged in lies about what his assets and expenses were, even stating that his monthly grocery/eating expenses per month were equivalent to what Trent and I spend in about four months. In January of this year, Liz moved in with us, the divorce became final, and the house was sold. 

Liz is finally able to breathe freely and spread her wings. She's a grown woman, and as such, she can go where she wishes and see her friends and do as she likes. When she gets home, nobody will scream at her or ask her who she was with or what she was doing or why she's home late. She finally has a chance to live a more normal life.

Last year, before Trent and I went to bed on July 13th, I remarked about the battle zone that was my birthday - happy freaking birthday to me. In retrospect, that weird birthday ended up being a gift. It enabled a woman to end an abusive relationship. It set her free.



A note from The Lunatic: It's no secret that because of my background, I have strong feelings about domestic abuse. If you are being abused, please seek help from any source possible. It could be a trusted friend, a community program, a religious advisor, and most especially your local law enforcement and county government. Liz was given help through the county's victim's advocacy programs. They help with things as varied as no- or low- cost door lock replacements and funding divorce attorneys. There are many people who care and are eager to help you.

If you know someone who is being abused, please do not try to force them to adhere to a timetable that you'd like them to follow. The changes and challenges involved in exiting the relationship can be as stressful as the abuse, and sometimes even more so. Sometimes the best support you can give is just being there. Researching local resources will help both you and your loved one know that help is out there.

Finally, we must always think of the children who may be affected by domestic abuse. Even if they are not abused, they may learn behaviors and expectations based on what they see every day.



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Monday, July 10, 2017

It's a Front

I frequently refer to myself as The Meanest Woman in the World. I can be opinionated and stubborn, and have been known to speak my mind. It's mostly a combination of self-preservation and a cover-up. You see, I'm really very...sensitive. Okay, it's out there, I'm done for.

There's debate in the Psychology/Psychiatry fields over whether personality is something one is born with, or something that comes from learning and environment. I think it's a mixture of both. What's the body of research that has led me to this conclusion? Well, my life and experiences, of course.

Some months ago, we were headed home from an appointment that Trent had at University of Colorado Hospital. It's more formally known as University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, but that's too long and makes it sound like a giant experimental maze full of people looking for cheese. Not delicious and wonderful cheese, mind you, but some ghastly low-fat, low-sodium cheese-reminiscent abomination. So I call it University of Colorado Hospital. I told you I was opinionated!

Anyway, we were headed home and drove past an area beside the highway that is home to a moderately sized colony of prairie dogs. The sight of prairie dogs next to traffic often reminds me of Gram. In this case the memory tumbled around and took me somewhere else. Even though it might be embarrassing, I thought, I need to write about the thing which will briefly be a mystery. I jotted down a note in the terrible printing associated with being in a moving vehicle, and left it to grow in the back of my mind.

This made me think about the fact that I have always been on the sensitive side. That doesn't mean that if someone says something rude to me I will burst into tears. In fact, it's more likely to get me heated up. It just means that I have the ability to be deeply moved by many things, especially the various things suffered by others. It is perhaps a contributing factor to my protective nature. Be rude to me, so what. But be rude to someone else who doesn't deserve it, and you may get an earful from The Lunatic.

One of my few memories from my life in Chicago with my parents and siblings is of a very sensitive moment. Peter Pan was being broadcast on television, and it had gotten to the part where Tinkerbell was possibly dying. When the call came to clap your hands if you believed in fairies, I did so. I did so weeping buckets of tears. I didn't want Tink to die. I didn't want Peter Pan to lose his friend. You get the picture.

The abuse at the hands of the terrifying Alice, along with the war zone that is children and childhood, helped me to learn some ways to cope. Although my tears certainly didn't mean I was weak (a weak person could never have survived some of the things I experienced), they could be viewed as such by the less-sensitive and sometimes more cruel people around me. A bit of emotional detachment can be a great survival tool if you don't want to be eaten alive by the people around you.

A couple of weeks ago Trent and I were at the drive-up ATM waiting for our turn. Trent pointed out the beautiful yellow butterfly that flitted by our car. This is of some personal significance and will be in a blog post on another day. I turned my head and saw something flying around my open window, thinking that maybe it came into the car with us. Sure enough, there was a ladybug sitting on my shoulder. I gently lifted it up and gave it a puff of air to send it flying on its way. (I had to chuckle when I saw what it had left on my shoulder - a teensy little spot of ladybug poo.)

A few days later I told Trent about a memory of Gram and me and a ladybug. A day or two after we had gone to the supermarket, Gram got a head of lettuce out of the refrigerator. As she separated the leaves, she said, "Oh! Look at this!" Nestled in the cold leaves was a beautiful ladybug. Now, I was probably in high school at the time, but I felt so sorry for that poor ladybug. I took her in my warm hand, hoping that she could somehow survive her ordeal. And she began to move sluggishly, starting to recover from the cold she had endured for several days.

I told Gram that I knew ladybugs ate aphids, so I was going to take her out to the rose garden. Of course that wasn't enough for me. I began plucking aphids off the roses and feeding them to the ladybug. She ate slowly at first, but perked up fairly quickly. After eating several bugs, she was feeling much more lively. She walked around on my hand for a bit, and then took to the air. As she flew away, my heart soared with her. Yep. Sensitive.

I've decided just now that the mysterious thing I mentioned earlier is something I no longer want to write about this evening. Suffice it to say it was an expose of greyhound racing training and involved live rabbits. Gram was in the kitchen on the phone when I came into the room weeping.

So that's another piece of The Lunatic's puzzle. I can often sometimes occasionally be trusted to watch emotional videos or read stories about Santa visiting terminally ill children without losing it. Don't expect me to be able to talk about them or read the stories aloud, though, unless there is a handy supply of hankies or tissues or even the bottom of my shirt. I am still the person who can find unbearable beauty in nature or film or writing. I've finished more than one book with my shirt damp from the tears that have rolled off my chin and left evidence of my softness for anyone to see. I am The Lunatic. I am Katrina. I am sensitive. Yes, I claim to be The Meanest Woman in the World. But some of it is a survival mechanism. And some of it is just a front.

Oh! I almost forgot! Why did the prairie dogs remind me of Gram? After I began to drive, I would take Gram, on holidays or special occasions, to visit her daughter's home some 30 miles away in a more rural area. An area that we would drive by happened to have a large prairie dog colony, and still does these many years later. It's just a few minutes' drive from where we now live. On this occasion, we saw a fat and sassy prairie dog getting ready to cross the expanse of the road. What made it delightful and memorable is the way he prepared for his mad dash across multiple lanes. He was literally running in place, his little legs going so fast they were almost a blur. As we drove by, he quit revving his motor and made his move. I'm glad to say that he made it across this busy street unscathed while we had a good laugh at something we'd previously only seen in cartoons. I still think of it after all these years whenever I go by that area, hoping I'll see another prairie dog revving his motor. 



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The Tip Jar:

As always, I am happy and honored to write for you. It brings me great joy, and I hope that it gives you joy and/or food for thought. If you'd like to support the cause, please visit:

https://www.paypal.me/TheLunatic