Sunday, February 26, 2006

three days later...

...after a tireless effort on his part and a hell of lot of loss of sleep on "The Wife's" and my part.

A simple "Sauder", drop down desk that was destined to go to a garage sale in the early spring. A perfect project for a bi-polar, manic depressed brother in law with compulsive obsessive and attention deficiency disorders.
Perfect! Better than a box of bolts, nuts and washers...

Except when you might want to get some sleep at night. Except when your tools are within reach. Except... except a whole lot of other things.

The desk, this simple "Sauder" desk had a good life. It had a pretty quality life in our home. I remember our introduction to it. "The Wife" and I went to K-Mart several years ago and bought the desk in the form of a "Sauder" desk kit. I put the pressed board desk together and J had used it up until last year to write letters on, figure out and pay the bills, etc.

I'm not fond of pressed board furniture... I prefer wood... solid wood. Though Sauder does make some pretty sturdy pressed board furniture I'm still not a huge fan. Either way, we had it and it served it's purpose.

When I was smoking cigarettes I used to have an ashtray on top of the desk... in the relative area of where you see the lamp's shaft passing through the top board. Unfortunately, I had a lit cigarette in the ashtray one day and was very pre-occupied with what I was doing. I forgot all about the cigarette until it rolled off of the top and dropped onto the drop down desktop where I was focusing on some "draft" shed plans I was drawing up for a shed I was going to build in the back yard.

I butted the remainder of the cigarette out in the ashtray and noticed the cigarette had fallen from the ashtray and burned into the top board a bit before rolling off. Damn!

I knew "The Wife" would notice it immediately unless I did something real quick. Simple fix... slide the ashtray over the top of the burn... hide it!

That worked for awhile but I knew discovery was imminent. I finally confessed before being "found out". The desk was blemished forever.

As time went on it was replaced by a real wood, antique desk. It's place in our home moved from our bedroom office to the garage... destined for a spring garage sale... blemish and all.

Three days ago I was passing through the garage with some groceries when I saw a sign on the desk that read "Save for Bill. I want this." I thought, "no problem" we can move it into his room later.

Bi-polar brother in law came home a bit afterwards and went straight into the garage without a word. He was obviously in a hurry. J and I looked at one another and I finally mustered up the courage to have a look at what he might, just might be up to.

With him we really, truly never know.

Well, he was dismantling the desk. He had removed the hinges of the drop down top, was removing the handles to the drawers and had my electric palm sander plugged in and ready "to go" to work on the burned spot on top of the desk.

"You know that's pressed board don't you?" I pointed out to him as he removed the last drawer handle.

"Yeah. But the hinges and handles need cleaning" he said.

What his answer had to do with my question was beyond me. I mean, I think I really missed something there. Confused, I thought I'd ask another question for some clarification.

"So, what's the sander for?" I thought that was a perfectly legit question being as the desk is nothing more than pressed board covered with a vinyl, wood grained laminate. Something that really can't be sanded without leaving a mark.

"Oh, I was going to sand out the burned spot."... his answer.

Just as I thought. He was going to sand the burned spot and try to stain the area with one of the many stains I have on the work bench.

"Won't work." I thought I'd try a bit of reason.

"Will too" he popped back. "You burned it. Why?" His tone had gone from "matter of fact" to accusatory... he was upset that I had burned the desk and wasn't hiding his disappointment.

"That was years ago... when I smoked. I screwed up." I found myself trying to explain a mistake I made that blemished a piece of furniture years before. He was genuinely saddened by the blemish... as if he had just had to take his dog (if he had one) to the vet after the nieghbor ran it over.

"You have no business smoking." This was said to me as he took a long draw off of his Marlboro. "You have to be responsible to smoke".

I was staring at him in amazement. I mean, I was being lectured by my bi-polar brother in law for some careless act I had done years ago... lectured!

"What the hell are you talking about? It's a desk! It got burned! I did it! I'm glad I did it! End of story." My patience ran out... what can I say. I turned from him and walked back into the house

"Don't sand it!" I shouted at him from the opened garage door. "DO NOT SAND IT!"

The door closed behind me. J was eyeing me curiously.

"What was that about?" she asked.

"Your brother is nuts... effing NUTS!!! He's pissed off at me for burning the desk. Says I had no business smoking... said I was irresponsible. DAMN, he's nuts!"

J continued to stare at me. Her expression hadn't really changed.

"And your first clue was? Honey, he has paperwork certifying he's nuts." she answered, matter of factly. "And you did burn the desk with a cigarette... which was a bit irresponsible."

My mouth was agape. I was staring at J as the words came out. Unbelievable. A cigarette burn from years ago coming back to haunt me. Something told me I wasn't going to hear the end of that little incident anytime soon.

"It's got to be hereditary. It just has to be" I said.

Just about that time I heard the palm sander start. It's high pitched "whir" sounding out as the sandpaper pressed against the pressed board and vinyl laminate.

I looked at "The Wife", at the garage door, at the sliding back door and decided I'd go prune the pear trees in the back yard.

The sanding went on for hours, days. Sanding, pounding, nailing, drilling... days! All hours of the day, all hours of the night... finally, yesterday at around 5:00 p.m., thirteen and a half hours after I was awakened by bi-polar brother in law's footfalls as he passed by our bedroom door on his way out to the garage to resume work on his project... after three days of tireless labor on his part he completed the restoration project.

The garage door opened.

"Come look at it. I fixed it." He announced to me.

I gave up arguing, was too tired to be angry. I just wanted peace. I went into the garage and looked at his project. I really didn't know what to expect but thought, with all of the hours of labor he was putting into this pressed board piece of crap he had probably created a china hutch or something out of the materials.

Nope. He'd simply mounted a real piece of pine onto the top, drilled a hole in the pine, the top of the desk and in the back then mounted a desk lamp to the middle of the desk. That's it. Nothing more. Three days to do that. Three nights of 3 hrs of sleep for me. Nothing more.

"What do you think" he asked me proudly.

"Wonderful" I answered. He really didn't want to know. "Let's go in and roust up some dinner now."

We both walked into the house. He, his chest pushed out... proud as punch, grinning from ear to ear.

Me... a bit more educated. Another day.

...I'm so damned glad I quit smoking. Sooooo glad!

I'm not responsible enough to smoke.

That was made painfully obvious to me.

health and common sense...'s all relatively simple.

I received the following information in an email today. It all makes sense when you really think about it.


Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?

A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the latter out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer and Whiskey are also made out of grain and Vodka is made from potatoes. Have you ever had a bad Rye Whiskey? Damn... BOTTOMS UP!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one. If you have two bodies and two fats your ratio is two to two, etc. Get the picture? This isn't rocket science we're talking about here people!

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: Exercise = Pain. Pain... Bad! No Pain...Good!

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!!... Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: Are you crazy? HELLO ..... Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets. And remember...

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Merlot in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO, What a Ride"!!

Friday, February 24, 2006

the house is still here...

...and so is my dog.

My dog was a Christmas gift from "The Daughter" and "The Wife" over five years ago. A Chihuahua.

Now I'm 6-01, 225-230 pounds and have lived a very "macho" life. I've been known to "scrap" with the best of them. Five years ago I got this little tiny Chihuahua, not barely six weeks old. I've always been a Labrador Retriever or Springer Spaniel person because I used to duck hunt and because I bought those types of dogs... Labs and Springers.

Well, just before Christmas in 2001 I was looking around in the paper for a Springer or a Lab. Just looking... commenting on how much they were... nothing serious. "The Wife" picked up on my looking and plotted with "The Daughter" to keep me from buying a big and hairy dog. Little did they know that I really had no intention of buying a dog... at... the... time. Right at that moment. Maybe a month or two afterwards... after Christmas but not right then.

So, I wander out to the living room on Christmas morning, we begin opening gifts and I get a dog bone... one of those little rawhide thingys that'll ball up in a dog's intestine and kill them. Yah, one of those. Another gift I open is a dog bowl. A very small dog bowl. Then there's the socks, underwear, jeans, computer game and finally, I opened another box and there were three polaroid pictures (yeah, we still had a polaroid then and we found film for it). The pictures appeared to be of a brown and white bat or rat... I wasn't sure which... staring at me with real, real, real buggy eyes. A tiny labrat type rat. This little thing was sitting in the palm of someone's hand.

"What's this?" I had to ask. I mean, no one was offering up any explanation.

"A dog" The Wife answered.

"Uh, uh!" I shot back, staring at the photo's. "It's gotta be a rat or a bat without its wings."

"It's your new puppy". Daughter now... and she's real crappy about hiding her sarcasm.

"Uh-Uh!" again... it eeked out of my mouth. I truly don't remember saying it but they said I did.

"Yup. All yours. A Chihuahua." The Wife again... now I know where the daughter gets her sarcasm.

I stared at the pictures and drifted back to when I was a kid. I grew up here in Olympia and I remember when the city was really starting to expand. We were surrounded by forests but neighborhoods were beginning to be built. This was in the late 50's and early 60's. I remember us being in one of the first homes built in a new development called "Thompson Place". As time went on, more homes were built there. More people bought the homes and more dogs, family pets were added to our budding neighborhood.

I used to deliver newspapers back then. I was accustomed to outwitting and outrunning dogs on my bicycle as I tossed the rolled papers onto the front porches (or as close as I could get) of each house as I whizzed by, dogs in my wake.

There were German Sheppards (King... he was mean but slow), labradors, Heinz 57's and this one particular dog... the only dog I was afraid of and the only dog that ever bit me... that dog bit me more than once... more than twice... more then ten, twenty times. All in one violent attack. Like a land pirahana he was! Got that taste of blood and wanted more. That dog was SCARY!. Yup... that dog bit me more than a colony of red-headed ants could. And it was all in one attack. Early morning... ride by on my bicycle... toss the paper... miss pretty bad. So I went back to pick it up and made a huge mistake... I got off of the bike and walked over to where the newspaper was laying. Keep in mind this was early in the morning and it was dark.

I heard a "flap". One of those "flap's" that I can identify now... a "pet door" type of flap. I had no idea what that "flap" meant back then though. As I bent down to pick up the newspaper I saw a blur... a white streak charging in from the right, something snagged my hand. It felt like a dozen rose thorns or blackberries or devil's club or something like that. My first reaction was to run like hell... so I did. I heard this gawd-awful high pitched "yap-yap-yap" from behind me and realized it was closing fast... very, very fast. My right ankle got bumped and I got stung again. Something like a killer jelly fish. Damn it burned. Then my left foot, ankle, calf. I remembered thinking I was getting eaten alive by a white blur. I had no idea what was trying to devour me from the ground up... from the ankle up until I heard a woman's voice with a heavy German accent...

"Wookie, Wookie. You get up here and leave that boy alone!"

That went on for a bit until "Wookie" had had enough of me. He turned and trotted towards the pet door.

"Are you okay hun?" The woman asked.

"I've been bit all over by that thing. What was it" I answered. I might have thrown in some rather inappropriate words for an 10 or 11 years old kid back then but damn, I think I earned that right.

"Well, you shouldn't have come in the yard. Wookie doesn't like that" she said as she turned to walk back into the opened door.

"Wookie" was sitting inside of the doorway staring at me, daring me to step into the yard again. Wookie was a friggin' Chihuahua. I've hated them ever since.

Oh yeah, as "Wookie" passed the rolled up newspaper in the yard... he stopped and peed on it.

Another Chihuahua trait.

So, I named mine "Rookie".

And damn he can be vicious if he wants to be... just not with me.

He's my little buddy... a gift from the two women in my life.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

fixing the fire...

...carburetors are meant to mix gas (fumes) and oxygen. They modify the "heavy gasoline" that's found in the gas tank, mix it with oxygen and supply a delicately balanced mixture to an automobile engine that will eventually combust and cause an internal firing engine to "run". It's friggin' art!

So, take a step back to those days when vehicles could be worked on by "us"... those backyard mechanics that were everywhere. I was one of them. I worked on my cars every week... tweaking the carb, adjusting the timing, setting the choke... all kinds of crap. But damn! That was in the late 60's... early 70's. Things changed after that. Cars got electronic, computeristic... dare I say feminine. They got to the point where cars required DAILY attention... the "How are we doing today" stuff and the "What can I do to make you feel better", etc. interaction occurred daily. (I can only imagine the "sexist" label I'm getting right about now!)

Either way, the 60's and early to mid 70's vehicles were so much easier to work on.

I say this only because bi-polar brother in law's vehicle is a late 70's vehicle... if you call a Chevrolet a vehicle.

You see, his quadrajet Holley carb seemed to be a bit of a gas guzzler. Somewhere, somehow he nipped the feeder side to two jets but damn, the "stack fires" caused by the poor gas/oxygen mix were 'effing spectacular!!! I don't think I've ever seen a raised car hood fully engulfed in flames... never!

Now I'm a fire dog too. Among all of the other things I've had to investigate I've been investigating the origins and causes of wildland fires for the past 15 years and I've been investigating arson, vehicle, vessel and structure fires for the past 30 years. In short, I know fire. So you can imagine how excited I got when I was standing at the front of the '79 Chevrolet pickup that bi-polar brother in law owns when, after he pumped the gas, turned the key and ignited the internal combustion engine.

Keyword... INTERNAL.

This altered carburetor was anything but an interactive piece of a well running internal combustion engine. It actually had a mind of it's own. It spewed flame across the intake manifold... up, up, up into the sky! Engulfing the entire carburetor, manifold, valve covers and hood in flame... 'effing spectacular! Singed eyebrows and all... spectacular!

I lost a handkerchief in the fire. One of my favorites. But we saved the house... and the truck.

When I left him he was pulling the Holley quadrajet from the manifold and replacing it with a simple Rochester carb.

"Hey Bill. Roll the truck to the bottom of the driveway and work on it there." I remembered telling him.

We still have our house but the rest is history. He gave up at 01:00 hrs and I have to be "on the road" for the next two days.

I called "The Wife" a bit ago and she's saying he's waiting for my return... WHY???

Why is he waiting for my return home before he works on his truck again?

Ahhh, never mind.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

it's not his fault...

...but he needs to try to help himself too. Am I wrong about that? I mean, medications aren't being taken as prescribed, he doesn't eat regularly, he sleeps very rarely and he's wandering all over the place.

"J" and I are trying to function on 3 hours of sleep each day around here. Bi-polar brother in law is currently needing 24/7 attention. If either of us drops our "guard" around him he's off tinkering on something and destroying those things he's trying to "fix". I know there'll be a day when all three of us look back on this and laugh until we're crying but right now that's not happening... the laughing part.

I have so many stories to tell... so many! They're humorous life stories that involve bi polar brother in law's week at our house. The things he's done, the places we've gone. Little mind fart journeys... we've been taken to the edge and back. We're on our second trip now and everything is getting so much more familiar. That's not good... something just tells me that.

I've been involved with a lot of strange and challenging puzzles over the past 30 years of my job and I've earned a pretty good rep solving them but this one is right up there with the best... and it's so damned close to home! Hell, what am I saying... it is home!

I have so much to learn in so little time.

I talked a bit today with a fellow from the psych ward that bi-polar brother in law was at for several days. The first thing he told me was that "J" and I are just what bi-polar brother in law needs right now. I laughed. I did. I laughed at his words because I feel nothing at all like we're what he needs. I have no idea what he needs. Either way, I asked some questions (I've been reading up on things) and was pretty surprised that he'd answer them. He told me bi-polar brother in law wants us fully aware of his medical condition. In other words, we know what he (bi-polar brother in law) knows, we're told what he's told, etc.

It's not a pretty picture.

He's got Attention Deficiency Disorder (ADD), he's afflicted with compulsive obsessive behaviors, he hallucinates, he fabricates, he's bi-polar and a bit schizophrenic... go figure.

Isn't that a mix.

"But" psych doc tells me "He's one of the brightest people I've ever met!"

Now that's really not a good mix.

Doc wants us to "work with him" a bit to get bi-polar brother in law "back in check"... somewhat productive. He told me it's a horrible thing for anyone to go through... what is happening to bi-polar brother in law. He likened it to several minds trying to run one body.

Anyway, we're going to have to "keep on keeping on" here. We're all he's got so I guess we've signed on for the long haul but damn... when he is able to help himself he's gonna hear some stories...

Some damned funny stories!

I apologize for sounding so "down" earlier... it's just so darned difficult to keep "chipper" when the gas tank is running on fumes.

Monday, February 20, 2006

it's not really funny... really isn't.

I mean, this bi-polar crap doesn't seem to have any end to it. I actually think it's contagious because now I'm feeling a bit "bi-polar". I've been living on two- maybe three hours of sleep a night. I go to sleep at 23:30 or there-abouts (11:30 p.m.) and I'm awakened two... maybe three if I'm lucky... hours later . Bi-polar brother in law is hanging pictures in his room, running the garbage disposal, playing music, calling people on the phone, taking a shower or simply coming into J's and my room... our SANCTUARY... to "chat" with us. This isn't going the way I thought it would.

Today my son dropped by early in the morning... though not early enough to have awakened me... I was "up" by 03:30 A.M... bumps in the night, holes in the wall, music through the heating vents. Either way, I was "up"... very "up" at 03:30... soooo, rather than seek an amorous moment I went to the kitchen and made a pot of java... STRONG java. Bi-Polar brother in law stays in his room until around 05:00 hrs. (5:00 A.M.). It's not good. Things around here are not good. He's digressing and we're working to make things work... not good.

If I don't post in the next five days or so then we're fried.

It's one thing to help a person that needs help and is willing to help himself, it's another thing to help someone who simply relies on the help and has no desire to move on. I guess I'm at wit's end. I'll help people who strive to move forward. I can't find compassion or identity (however slight) for people who won't TRY to improve... TRY to move foreward... TRY to fix things.

I can only do so much...

Friday, February 17, 2006

J's soul type...

You Are a Dreaming Soul

Your vivid emotions and imagination takes you away from this world
So much so that you tend to live in your head most of the time
You have great dreams and ambitions that could be the envy of all...
But for you, following through with your dreams is a bit difficult

You are charming, endearing, and people tend to love you.
Forgiving and tolerant, you see the world through rose colored glasses.
Underneath it all, you have a ton of passion that you hide from others.
Always hopeful, you tend to expect positive outcomes in your life.

Souls you are most compatible with: Newborn Soul, Prophet Soul, and Traveler Soul

This is right on the mark!!!

the edge...

On the edge looking…
Into the abyss… the chasm, wondering
why? how? me!
He waits… he waits…

Hands outstretched… overhead
seeking help
guidance, direction… freedom from
his bi-polar Hell!

No way out. No control.
Understanding, comprehension does not happen
will not help him… save him.
Will not take him from his bi-polar Hell!

So he stands tormented
on the edge of sanity… He waits, he waits
in need of help… in mental pain he waits to be led
from the edge... of his bi-polar Hell!

He waits…

It's been quite awhile since I wrote any verse... quite awhile.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

it's only about 40 miles...

...a bit over 48 miles one way. 48.6 miles to be exact. Almost 49 miles one way. About 98 miles 'round trip... approximately 6.53 gallons of gas total... 3.2 gallons one way.

That's alright though, the scenery's worth it. Well, on the way there it was worth it. On the way back we really didn't get to look at too much of the scenery.

Everything started out okay. I mean, once we got the van to quit backfiring and belching out black smoke it seemed to run okay. So we drove off. Bi-polar brother in law in the van... driving the van in front of us. Us following in our white Ford F150.

Throughout the trip we were looking at the back of this very big, ugly, garbage filled Chevrolet van with it's two rear windows busted out. We watched in awe as the van's bi-polar driver drove at least 50 mph down a narrow, wet, winding and wooded county road... digging through the assorted debris piled in the van around him... looking for nick nacks... in search of lost relics... treasures buried in the garbage.

Just about the time we thought he'd bought the big one... taken out a tree he'd look up, jerk the wheel and pull the van back into some semblance of control... making sure the van was heading the same general direction as the road before he'd resume his treasure hunts.

Simply put we were criminals. I have to confess. Come arrest me and take me away now... PLEASE!!! This whole trip... whole journey was a premeditated ploy designed specifically to circumvent the licensure and taxing system of the state of Washington... much like a mini "Boston Tea Party"... influenced by our obvious greed... and led by our bi-polar mastermind. We were not going to pay any more taxes!... at least, not on the van.

We were behind him because the van's license was expired. We were using the back, back county roads because the van's license was expired. We were, in essence avoiding the prying eyes of the county deputies and state police, the city cops and the town marshals. We were blocking the van's expired license plate with our truck. Using these backroads... driving at warp speeds... avoiding the law all so we could get this van to where it had to go and get that damned transmission out of it and into the truck... his truck... his big, yellow 1979 1/2 ton Chevy truck. From this big, brown and yellow and other colored 3/4 ton 1985 Chevy van into that 1/2 ton 1979 Chevy truck...

I remember my mind getting a bit clearer as I tried to keep up with him... 1985, 3/4 ton Chevy Van... 1979, 1/2 ton Chevy truck. Transmission??? I honestly don't think anyone bothered checking to see if the transmission would "match up". I know I didn't! I was just so damned happy and excited to be on this little adventure with my lovely wife and my bi-polar brother in law that I didn't even want to think any rational thought. It was the furthest thing from my mind. I started this trip not thinking rationally... that would ruin the whole experience. Why would I want to ruin it now... why would I entertain any rational thought on the return trip???

So, as we flew down a network of county roads... flew down them! I had these fleeting thoughts that this transmission might not... just might not work. Bi-polar brother in law was too busy digging through the stuff in the van looking for those hidden treasures... and occasionally looking back up to the road, let's call it driving, of sorts... to be thinking rationally. He was simply too busy, too pre-occupied to have any ANY rational thought. And actually, when you think about it he has an excuse to not think rationally... obviously. Moreso with each passing second.

We managed to make it to a gas station... a small country store type gas station. Bi-polar brother in law wanted to "gas up" the van. I had to convince him that he didn't want to fill the tank being as he's going to be getting rid of the van once he gets the transmission out of it anyway. It took a bit of discussion but I did convince him. So, it's one of those "Pay First" stores. He headed inside. I manned the pump waiting for the pump to start.

Nothing... I peak around the pump towards the store. He's at the counter. They're looking out at me... he and the owner.

Nothing... I wave my hand for someone to start the pump. They wave back.


I hang the hose back and head towards the store's entrance. Bi-polar brother in law steps away from the counter and meets me at the door.

"Hey. We have to pay him first before we can pump any gas" he told me as I walked in.

I tried throughout this whole... journey... to keep my patience. To keep myself from saying or doing something I knew I'd regret later. But you know, sometimes it's just too damned difficult! Sometimes it doesn't pay to keep things inside...

But I did. I kept my thoughts to myself. I held back. How I did it is beyond me. I would have never done that in the past. Besides, he can't help the way he is... at least, that's what I've been told by everyone who has anything to do with this bi-polar stuff. If I ever find out differently I'm going to make up for a lot of lost time!

"So pay him" I told bi-polar brother in law. I'm sure my teeth were clenched but I think that's acceptable given the other alternatives.

"Oh" bi-polar brother in law said as he put a twenty on the counter. "yeah. Sorry".

The clerk-owner-worker took the twenty and put it in the opened drawer... no change... less than 30 miles from the van's resting place and no change.

"You pump. You pump now" he said, nodding at me... motioning me to leave, waving me outside with his left hand.

I looked at him, looked at bi-polar brother in law and went back to the pump where I belonged. At least the pump was sensible. Bi-polar brother in law wandered through the store. He loves nick nacks.

As I pumped the eight gallons of gas into his tank... the $20.00's worth I couldn't help but wonder what life was like in a normal world. I remembered being there once... at least, I think "the wife" and I were there once, but that was a long, long time ago... if it ever was.

We're on a journey...

...and we're still not home.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

what type of soul am i...

You Are a Warrior Soul

You're a strong person and sometimes seen as intimidating.
You don't give up. You're committed and brave.
Truly adventuresome, you are not afraid of going to battle.
Extremely protective of loved ones, you root for the underdog.

You are picky about details and rigorous in your methods.
You also value honesty and fairness a great deal.
You can be outspoken, intimidating, headstrong, and demanding.
You're a hardliner who demands the best from themselves and others.

Souls you are most compatible with: Old Soul and Peacemaker Soul
I got this idea off of Cathy's Blog! It's pretty cool. Give it a try if you get the hankering to.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

it was free...

...really, it was!

A free, 1985 Chevrolet "church" van. A big one. A big one with a big motor and a transmission that works. A big, free Chevrolet van. The one whose long name that I keep forgetting starts with a "B". Yup... free. 100% free of charge!

All we had to do was go get it.

This van... well, it seems to have had a couple of prior lives ...history as they say. And a colorful one at that. It started out as a proud "family" van. The family moved up here from California, the family's father couldn't find a job or home so it became a "camp" van. After the Dad found a job and worked a couple of weeks it became a "church" van because the church had taken the family in and helped get them situated in a small (but bigger than the van)... apartment.

This van was evidently quite content shuttling kids around to church functions throughout the state. It lived this life for about 3 years. I think I even had it parked in our driveway once, picking up my mother in law and daughter for one of those functions.

As time went by the van's family moved into a nice double wide home in the country, renting space from a fellow church member who just happened to own 25 acres out in the middle of nowhere... a nice drive but still, it was out in the middle of "nowhere". Pretty country though.

Anyway, the van was retired from it's church status and returned to the family. The family's Dad made the van a "work" van... used to haul construction tools from one construction job to another. This went on for a couple of months until the family's mother learned that the family's father was also using the van as a "pick up" van... as in a van to "pick up" (rumor has it 17-20 yrs. old) young girls and... well... you get the picture.

That's about the time the family's Mom told the family's Dad to convert the van back to a "camp" van. She suggested that he continue driving it around from work site to work site rather than returning home on the weekends. She was undoubtedly a bit more colorful than I was here... but understand, I'm desperately trying to keep this blog below the censor radar.

The family's Dad evidently followed her advice and drove the van around, camped, picked up, visited job sites, camped, picked up... etc. He did this for quite awhile. It was during this period of time I remember seeing the van again... in my driveway... picking up my bi-polar brother in law, his "helper" about six years ago.

A short while later my bi-polar brother in law found his own home, married and lost his job with the family's Dad because the family's Dad never paid IRS any taxes... ANY TAXES over the past five years. WRONG THING TO DO!!!. Oh well, so family's Dad returned home to family's Mom a crumpled, broken, changed man... in the van.

As time passed mother in law learned from her fellow church members that the family's Dad was diagnosed with a "manic depressive" personality disorder... or whatever it is.

Go figure... now that's rocket science at it's best.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say here is that several people are out there living in homes built or altered by bi-polar brother in law and manic depressed family's Dad. A troubling thought.

Back to the van... sorry, I got sidetracked.

The van? Ah, it found retirement, at last. Nice, peaceful retirement on a wonderful little patch of property out in the middle of nowhere parked next to the house... right next to the house. So close to the house that, well as the bags of garbage started to collect out front by the overflowing can... ah, let's just say the van was so damned close, closer than the garbage can so the rest is history.

Over time, the van was recalled from retirement and had become a "garbage" van... history indeed.

The family's father? Eh, seems he's off and running again. This time in 'Vegas or somewhere down that way. The family's mother? Nice. A very nice, deserving woman trying to raise three kids... two of them teenagers.

Yeah, the van was free of charge. It started, drove, had four tires... one good one, is multi colored (some of the colors are even stock), didn't have a current license and was pretty dad-gummed full of garbage when we finally did locate the place.

After airing up three of the four tires, oiling up the engine, putting water in the radiator and siphoning gas from my truck for the van we limped it to a personal shop in the country.

Bi-polar brother in law driving it while I followed... and, at times led. J tagging along with me for the ride.

In the end it looks like the van will serve it's life out as a "parts" van.

It's served it's purpose. Bi-polar brother in law has his transmission... and van... and garbage.

Next post, the ride home! Another gem... if I can only capture the essence.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


(I can't identify who did this one either. That's not a crime, is it? If it is, arrest me and take me away!)

Is being bi-polar contagious? I'm wondering. I really am. I've been trying to keep my brother in law active... well, productive over the weekend after he was kicked out of his home by his really, really, really psychotic wife. It's not like I haven't been through this before. I have. "J" and I both have. Many, many, many times.

When J's mother was alive and was living with us she would bring "bi-polar brother in law" here... to our home... to "rest", to regain his "senses". I was normally assigned the task of keeping him on an even keel... ROFL... it never worked. You know, guy stuff... him being bi-polar and very, very, very annoying (to the ignorant... "me") while I'm carrying around my "matter of fact", "tell it like it is", "do it now and move on", "oh well, kiss off if you don't like it" and "don't let the door hit you in the ass" macho effing attitude. In short... it was water and oil. We simply didn't mix... my brother in law and I. Never did mix well.

Our only hope... only salvation was my dearest mother in law. J's mother. "Bi-polar bro in law's" mother. She was always there to intercede... intervene when things got tense (which they did, quite a bit between dear old bro' in law and I. Almost caused a divorce once!... twice... more than three times, he did! The prick!).

The saint of saints regarding bi-polar children always found a way to make things work. Now, she's dead. My mother in law is dead. Died in 2004. She's passed on and we're left here to deal directly with Mr. "Bi-Polar" himself... up front and personal. I'm not being calloused here... I'm not trying to be funny (because it's anything but funny).

I'm simply setting the stage...

This guy... this brother in law... this son of the saint of bi-polar children has been a part of my past. 28 years worth a part of my past. He's stolen checks out of the middle of our checkbook, forged our signatures, "ripped" us off in oh-so-many ways... he's tested my patience and civility for over two and a half decades, he's insulted friends and family directly, he's expressed his uttermost hate and discontent for me yet he still ends up on "J's" and my doorstep when things get really, really, really tough.

In light of that, we can't turn him away... wouldn't in a heartbeat. No one else seems to understand... this being bi-polar shit ain't easy.

Yesterday (Saturday) we spent the day together... the whole effing day together draining transmission fluid from his piece of shit Chevy truck. 8 hours of laying on cold effing pavement draining... flushing... filling... draining... flushing... filling transmission fluid out of his truck. At the end of the day when our fingers no longer felt attached to our hands, when our elbows and shoulders burned... ached, when our hair was saturated in Chevy transmission fluid, when our knees no longer bent, when every joint in our body ached (CHRIST! they ached!) from the idiocy of two outdoors, back yard mechanic's attempts to fix a wayward 1979 Chevrolet pickup's automatic transmission... at the end of the day when I finally took it upon myself to ask him to describe... "in detail, describe exactly what you did before the transmission failed" type of bullshit. I was rewarded with an answer that was so absurd... so damned annoying that I simply wanted to remove him from this wonderful, peaceful earth.

Several deep breaths and dammit-dammit's later I realized... "this man's got problems". Almost three decades of whooping up on this dude and I finally realize he's got real, real, real big problems. I mean, he's somewhat personable yet he's very, very shallow... up front. He has patterned behavioral quirks that suggest he's unable to keep thoughts much longer than... oh... well... say one to three minutes... then it's off to something else... and you know what? I feel for him. I actually do. I find myself wondering just what EXACTLY is going on in his head. It has to be chaotic. IT HAS TO BE!!!

I'm also ashamed of the way I treated him in the past. You know... ignored, disgusted, offended, ashamed (to start)... This boy needs help. Genuine help! The more time I spend with him the more I can identify with his needs.

I used to say "Give him a box of screws, nuts, washers and bolts. That'll keep him busy for days"... Hell! I was right!!! It would! He's on the edge of being a genius (if he isn't already) yet he's dipped into being "challenged".

I once had a psychology professor who told me the only difference between a genius and an insane person is recognition.


I have a "Chevy van" story to tell in the next couple of days too... Oh yeah, and powerwashing our deck in February. It's all good. Trust me!

And life goes on.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

family, friends and those in need...

(I tried to give proper recognition to the artist who created this picture but couldn't find any name associated with it.)

I've been off of the posts for a bit. It seems "the wife" has a brother who has some pretty serious "issues" in his life. This particular brother and I are not at all fond of one another and we certainly don't share that "family spirit" however, he does have some issues. He's bi-polar (extremely). Is in real need of medication to control it and has a thousand different moods and "worlds" he wanders off to when he's on his bi-polar mood swings. Currently he's in an extremely depressed state. He's 51 years old and is unemployed. He's married. Why he's married is beyond me. I know his current wife (he's been married 4-5 times) has HUGE issues as well. Perhaps that was the attraction. Nevertheless, they're married and yesterday this very strange, very disturbed wife of 2 years has kicked him, this very strange, very disturbed person out of their home.

He has no job, his vehicle needs repairs, he has no friends and he has nowhere else to go so we opened our home to him... again... after telling him many times before the he wasn't going to live with us again.

You see, he and I have history. 29 years of history. Not good history. I don't respect those who abuse drugs, I have a problem with alcoholics and I truly have a problem with thieves and liars. He's had all of these quirks over the years and they're usually associated with his bi-polar mood swings... which he's in right now.

Since his mother died (she lived with us for over ten years) in August of 2004 he's been on long... real long mood swings. I mean, this last one has gone on for over a year. He's been thrown in jail, gone to prison, is on parole and is... quite frankly... really screwed up.

Being as he's "The Wife's" brother we just can't let him wander. He does need help but WOW, this is something else. I just wonder how many other people out there are in these same dire straits that he's in... how many are out there and how many just simply don't have anywhere to go. No one to turn to. No hope for help.

It's difficult to turn anyone away when they're in need... anyone.

So, it's going to be a long ride. I just wanted to vent I guess... to no one in particular, to those who care to read, to the blog... this internet diary of sorts.

Yep, a long ride.

Take care...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

quit our whining!!!

Alright! It's two days past! We have to quit our whining now! We lost. Simple and sweet, we lost!

Let's suck it up and move on. If our 'Hawks had played better we wouldn't be whining. They had the ability to beat the refs and that other team from wherever it was... Detroit??? Where was that other team from? Oh yeah, Pissburgh.

They won. Bottom line they're going down in history as the "team to beat" next year and trust me that'll happen early on.

So, this is my last Super Bowl post.

WE LOST!!!!!


Monday, February 06, 2006

a personal half time announcement I have to share...

Yesterday, at half time at the Super Bowl house "the son" blurted out "Andrea's pregnant!" to "The wife", me, my father, my son's father and mother in law and several friends of the family.

Hmmmm... I heard it! I'm deaf but I heard it... plain as day I heard it. My new (married in September, 2005) "daughter in law" is pregnant with my only son's child! Now that was the capper for the day!!!

Evidently "The Son" had a little bit of a planned announcement but opted for the direct approach... announcing at the half time of the Super Bowl and making it a short and sweet announcement to boot! (Sooooo much like his Dad there!)

"The Daughter-in-law" is a single child whose parents are very, very nice people. Those that you'd most likely befriend in a heartbeat... we did. They're deserving and "son's Mother in law" has been wanting grandkids for some time now. Patience has paid off.

Yah, yesterday was a special day! All of us left the super bowl house winners after all! I'm gonna have another one running around in a couple of years calling me "Poppa" like my two little gems do now.

Speaking of the little gems... "The Granddaughter" had another lovely moment to share with us all the other day. You see, she's in a private, parochial school and is in the first grade. She's learning as she's going but knows there's a subtle difference between right and wrong at times. When they got to our house on Friday night "the granddaughter" announced to us "grown ups" that she wanted to share a story about what happened in her school recently between her and her friend Jason. Of course, we're a bit curious so we encourage her to tell us her story. It seems she and Jason had engaged in a conversation about Santa. "The granddaughter" shared with Jason that Santa had brought her and her brother several nice gifts. According to her Jason was excited and wanted to know more about the gifts so she described them in detail. When she was done she asked Jason what Santa brought him. Jason looked at her, stood up, put his hands on his hips (I know this because "the granddaughter" acts these things out) and told her "Santa's just a big fat asshole!" then turned and walked away.

Oh my God we howled! I felt a bit sorry for Jason and wondered what Santa might have brought his way but those words... those adult type words falling out of "the granddaughter's" mouth with the innocence of youth... not knowing... not understanding their meaning... those words were precious yet precarious. The laughter had to subside and an explanation had to be made. That's where "The daughter" comes in... she took her aside and explained to her that Jason had used some language that is not acceptable.

In the end "the granddaughter" learned a new cuss word... one that she can't use.

Ah, the joys of being a grandparent!

the 'HAWKS lost it... simple as that.

Yep! Our beloved Seattle Seahawks went to Detroit and lost the game they started out winning. The big, bad Pittsburgh Steelers had no idea how to play us until we started shooting ourselves in the foot... well, I think the officials might have helped aim the gun but then that's just me. Or is it??? Go check out one of the official SEAHAWK's blogs.

Here's what I saw...

Early on our 'HAWKS came out on the field taking the business to Pittsburgh. The Seahawks were controlling the game, consistently moving the ball and otherwise "drubbing" the Steelers. In the first half the 'Hawks were bullying Pittsburgh on the field... pushing their backs to their own goal line on several occasions and simply having their way... until Referee Bill Leavy and his wrecking crew single handedly deflated the 'Hawks momentum more than once, ensuring a victory for the Steelers. Leavy and company made a couple of extremely bad calls and called a touchdown that shouldn't have been.

Now, we can't take anything away from Pittsburgh. They are an opportunistic team and they did have the whole world on their side so when they were given the game they took the gift and ran... 75 yards they ran... to the Seattle end zone. And why not? Why wouldn't they want to win? No, when the momentum was taken from the 'HAWKS and the 'HAWKS failed to get it back the Steelers found it and used it to their advantage.

I'm not crying over spilt milk or anything here... just telling it as I saw it. Seattle was dominating and was walking away with this game early on. They had the mighty momentum going their way and had it robbed from them several times.

As most of us know by now, in the end they lost the game. Seattle did. Seattle lost this game of games, this Super Bowl XL, this North American Football championship that they've been trying to get to for 30 years. Yep, Seattle LOST it... Pittsburgh didn't win it.

It's all logic... Given a few arguably bad calls including a New York Jets Testeverde-ish touchdown, given 3 dropped passes by Jerramy (trade material) Stephens, given an early 4th quarter Hasselbeck interception and given two missed field goals directly adds up to eighteen lost points, two lost first downs and 180 lost yards!

Oh well. I'm looking forward to the draft... a big, sure handed tight end and a couple of other smart players are in order.

While waiting... break out the check book and sign Alexander! (and maybe we can buy a couple of ref's too???)


Sunday, February 05, 2006

it's gameday!!!!

The Seattle Seahawks vs the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 40th championship "Bowl" of North American Football!!!


The best team will win!

GO 'HAWKS!!!!!

...errr, as you can see we "survived" that little storm. It was a bit blown out of proportion by the weather folks (pun intended). I'll see everyone after the game!!!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

it's not that bad...

Well, that little Pacific storm has blown onshore. We're half way through it and so far our Olympia gusts have been right around the 30-40 mph range... not really that bad! So far... (knocking on wood) far the power has stayed on. According to the weather folks the biggest part of the "storm" has passed. Now, I guess they are getting hammered up north, around Everett, Bellingham and those areas. And the coast is dealing with a pretty good surge that's causing a lot of coastal flooding and extremely high "tides" but we're kind of lucky here in our little neck of the woods... so it looks like THE GAME WILL GO ON!!!!!


Friday, February 03, 2006

no generator...

Active Advisory: Flood Watch / Flood Statement , High Wind Advisory (US Severe Weather)

Now they have the expected wind gusts up to 70+ mph. Wonderful.

I did... I went, I looked, I asked... no generator... anywhere! The rentals were sold out, Costco had 1 left and I couldn't convince "the wife" that the $550.00 price tag was worth it (GO 'HAWKS!!! didn't work)... besides, it was a pipe dream. I only had $21.50 left in my pocket of the money I've had over the past two, maybe three weeks. Either way, calm minds, cool thoughts prevailed... "The Wife" intervened. It's my passion to see the 'HAWKS play... scratch that... WIN the Super Bowl! My friggin' passion! "The Wife" God bless her, I love her soooooo much! "The Wife", she knows this... she knows this and dug deep in the closet... pulled out something I haven't seen in at least a decade. Pulled it out and suggested I "use this" to monitor the 'HAWKS!!! progress on Sunday, February 05, 2006 whilst they whoop up on those P-burgh Steelers.

So now, if the power goes out... actually, when the power goes out I'm resigned to listening to my beloved 'HAWKS!!! on a radio much like I did my HUSKIES and COUGARS years ago when I was growing up in the 60's. Yah. I went out and invested in a bunch of batteries. Batteries to live by and batteries to punch into my 20 years old AM/FM Cassette radio (hey, it still works!).

If push comes to shove I'll sit in a closet and listen to my 'HAWKS whoop up! And my grandson will be there with me!

This is totally unbelievable!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

whether the weather influences or not...

I'm looking at this lovely little front that's offshore. I see we had 20 mph winds with 45-50 mph gusts yesterday, last night and today... I see all of this and wonder... WHAT'S THE WEATHER FORECAST FOR SUNDAY????!!!!

Not there... not in Detroit (aka: Pittsburgh. The Detroit mayor turned the city over to Jerome Bettis and family. How nice!). I could care less about the weather in Detroit. It's a covered stadium. For craps sakes you don't get too screwed up by weather in covered stadiums.

No, I was thinking more about what the weather was going to be HERE on Sunday. You see, when we have really rainy seasons in our fine state of Washington... when we have those really rainy seasons "up here" like we are this year, well the rain "loosens up" the soil around the root wads of our magnificent Douglas Fir, Hemlock, Spruce and Western Red Cedar trees (not to mention those oaks, alders, maples and others). Those root wads get saturated, the winds start to blow a bit, the trees are a bit top heavy from all of their magnificent needles and POW!... they become a part of your living room. Either way, when the wind blows during the rainy season "up here" we get one heckuva lot of trees across the powerlines which, in effect renders power to homes ineffective.

Olympia's rather protected... being as we're in the southern end of the "Puget Sound", surrounded by a really young coastal mountain range to our west, the majestic Olympic Mountains to our northwest and the foothills of the grand Cascade Mountains to our east. Because of this unique topography we're pretty protected from those coastal winds. However, the winds we do get, the winds that do blow in and damage things... you know, those damaging winds... well they're rare in Olympia and are usually out of the southwest.

So, to play it safe I go to my favorite weather site Weather Underground(10 bucks a year. I subscribe to it) and I check out the weather for Saturday and Sunday using the zipcode 98503. I see a storm front approaching for Friday night/Saturday that's packing sustained winds in the mid 20 mph's with gusts in the 40 and 50 mph... out of the SOUTH WEST!. Now, that's not a HUGE storm but with all of our record breaking rainfall we've been getting this year well, it wouldn't have to be a HUGE storm... not even a not so HUGE storm.

Bottom line... I've waited 30 years to see our 'HAWKS go to the Super Bowl. It would be my friggin' luck that the day the Super Bowl finally gets here with our 'HAWKS in it (February 05, 2006)... that day... well, because of these little storms... THAT DAY (Sunday, February 05, 2006) our power is off... off because some magnificent Douglas Fir is laying across the lines somewhere, someplace... pushed into those lines the night before by a "passing" Pacific storm.

I'm gonna find a generator!