Monday, November 30, 2009





IF IT WALKS LIKE A DUCK....










If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Tomorrow we file for bankruptcy. I just finished E-mailing our attorney last minute information he requested so he could draw up the final draft on our paperwork.

So far
all seems well there.

But, I digress. Let me back up just a bit and explain what is leading up to my anxiety.

As I may have mentioned in previous posts (or not--can't recall at this moment), we have an open door policy to all of B's (our son) friends.

They are an extension of our family, and are treated as such.

We have several who visit daily who are loved and welcome.

Most of the time.

Our 'oldest son', J (whom I have mentioned before--there is a picture of him and his wife on my side bar) just got back a few months ago from 'Wyotech' in Wyoming where he graduated with honors. J and his wife, 'C', live with C's parents nearby.

With J came 'N'. N is a friend J met in Wyoming and brought home with him. N fits in well with us and our little group and he was immediately embraced by us all.

Then there's 'V'. A good friend of B's from high school and who frequently stays over on the weekends.

Typically, I don't mind this as we love them all.

We have a tradition: every Sunday I cook breakfast for all of them after J and C get back from church. I truly enjoy this. This past Sunday (yesterday) was pumpkin pancakes--I will post the recipe later in this post.

So, Wednesday night, before Thanksgiving, I made dinner for myself, Ed, B, V and N.

I wasn't planning on feeding V and N, but, they were here and I just happened to have just enough.

On Friday, I fixed leftover Turkey sandwiches for Ed, B and V.

Again, had to stretch the leftover Turkey to make more for V.


Saturday night they were all here for dinner--this time at my invitation. It seemed one of those 'let's stay together' nights. We watched a Christmas movie ('Love Actually') and we had a nice fire going. I also decorated for the holidays that day. Snowmen as far as the eye can see in my home.

Then Sunday I did my weekly breakfast for everyone.

After a while, as usual, J and C left and took N with them. They had things to do of their own and came back later on that day when they were finished, which was fine. No problem there.

The problem was that after breakfast when most everyone else left, one remained. And remained. And remained.

This was Sunday afternoon now about 2:00. I fixed Ed and B sandwiches for lunch and then realized; "Oops! V is still here!" So, I then proceeded to fix sandwiches for him, too.

He didn't ask for them, mind you--but I knew it had been a while since breakfast and that Ed and B were hungry so it seemed the right thing to do (which is how he ended up here for dinner Wednesday and Friday, too).

At that point--I was huffy. Persnickety even if you will.

That's right--I said it. PERSNICKETY.

I didn't say anything, but I really got myself worked up in a tizzy.

I was ready for a little time with just Ed and B.

At that point I figured I fulfilled my food obligation of the week/weekend (and again, I enjoy doing the breakfast thing on Sunday and Saturday evening was my idea, as well) but then I was ready for EVERYONE to go home for a while and let me have what little time I get to spend with B now-a-days.

It's getting harder and harder to nail him down--he's always busy with school, friends and his ex-girlfriend, whom he still spends much time with--and I would have liked V to go home when everyone else did so I could breathe and just be with Ed and B.

That didn't happen.

Then after several hours--lunch is now done--V is still there and then the rest come back for a while.

No problem since V was still there at that point. J and C then left again to go eat dinner and this time, N stayed behind, and, yep--you guessed it, V was still here at dinnertime, too.

Well, guess what?

I made B and Ed their 'Hamburger Helper'. I ONLY had just enough for the two of them and had already thawed just enough meat for that.

Again, I fulfilled my food obligation and while a part of me felt guilty, we had no choice but to just go ahead and eat with V and N there (I fixed myself a quick stir-fry while Ed and B the ate their 'Hamburger Helper').

N, by the way, was sprawled out on my sofa asleep so that no one else could sit down in my very small living quarters.

I was INCENSED.

INCENSED I tell you.

No doubt they were hungry but they didn't ask for anything and for once, I didn't offer.

Even if all I have are hot dogs and bread, I would normally offer to make those who are here something--but, I didn't this time.

Everyone knows if I have it, I'm happy to share, and typically, I DO.

But, I was too pissed for words.

Evidently my slamming cupboards and not talking to anyone didn't make it's not so subtle way into their consciousness.

Hmpf. Go figure.

Again, this isn't directed and J and C, who know when to come and go.

Although, while I'm at it--J could wait a little long before coming by in the mornings--ha! I'd like to unwind with at least ONE cup of coffee first. ;)

But he knows he's always welcome and he knows when it's time to leave. I never have to tell him.

So, only when B leaves for the night to go stay at his 'girlfriends/not girlfriends' house--ONLY THEN do V and N leave. By now, of course, Ed is sound asleep on the sofa.

Nice spending this day with you guys.

Truthfully, I kinda felt like our Sunday was taken from us.

So, then today, V texts me and asks if he could use my computer and that it won't take long--indicating when he's done, he'll leave. Naturally, I say no problem. I know he needs to check on his financial aid for junior college, and we know what it's like to be computer less.

An hour goes by--he's still not here, so, I text him. He comes right over. Takes him ten minutes to check on his status, then he sits down and stays--for three hours.

B is still at school.

I should mention that J is here at this point 'cause we're going to watch a Christmas movie--but I'm so agitated by now that I wander around the house aimlessly while he and V finish up the movie, with my only catching bits and pieces.

My apologies to adorable ten year old Macauley Culkin for abandoning you in your time of need while you're running away from crooks in New York. Glad you made it back to your family safe and sound.

So, Ed calls me from work to give me the information I needed to send to our attorney via E-mail for pre-filing.

While he calls, I walk to our mailbox and find that he's received a ticket for allegedly running a red light. A claim both he and B vehemently deny, since B was with him that day in the car going to the L.A. Kings game.

Did I need this the day before we file bankruptcy????

I thought; 'Wow. It's all going to be alright. Tomorrow we file and we'll be free and clear to live life again...' and WHAMMY! Not so fast, Jo.

So, I had a meltdown that had been about 24 hours in the making.

I'm talking to Ed on the phone when V comes running over and rifling through the paperwork in my hand as I'm trying to gather my bearings and explain to Ed about the ticket he just received in the mail (via traffic light camera that he was unaware of) and wondering how much THIS is going to cost us.

I'm still paying $30.00 a month for a speeding ticket he got earlier this year and really cannot afford any further financial setbacks.

Anyhoo--V, meaning well, was just on my last nerve and I was already in meltdown mode.

I didn't need an audience as Ed and I yelled at each other.

This was a private matter that should have remained private at that moment.

Never mind that I'm now sharing this with you all (ha-ha)--it's just a little bit different when ones emotions are raw with new information and a lot of stuff is going through my brain at that moment with everything else going on, too.

An audience I did not need.

I needed to wind down and decompress.

I don't know what to say or do that wouldn't hurt anyones feelings--I don't want them to stop coming over, just to know when it's time to leave.

I likely don't have that many Sundays left with a busy, always on the go 19 year old son.

So, this news of a ticket today floored me and got me thinking; "That's what I get for getting my hopes too high that 2010 would start off wonderfully for us after nearly two years of this bulls&!*."

I repeat; "If it walks like a duck...'

I'll update my blog tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday as to the bankruptcy filing.

Now, onto the recipe I mentioned earlier. Yes, these are vegan and nobody can tell the difference--no one is missing the eggs or milk because they are truly delicious and fluffy.


PUMPKIN PANCAKES (makes about six pancakes--double the recipe for more):

~1 Cup Flour

~1 Tablespoon Sugar

~2 Tablespoons Baking Powder

~1/8 Teaspoon Salt

~1 Cup Soy Milk

~2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

~1/2 Of A 15 Ounce Can Of Pumpkin

~Cinnamon And Nutmeg To Taste (Or 'All Spice', Or 'Pumpkin Pie Spice')

*Mix all ingredients together until it looks and feels like cake batter. If it's too thick, add a little more soy milk.

Make them as flat as you can on the griddle so the middle cooks through--do not flip until you can do so without uncooked batter drooping on the spatula.

Serve with maple bacon or sausage.

Enjoy.

Sunday, November 29, 2009







DO YOU FAKE IT?










We seem to fake a lot in our lives sometimes...




Fake Interest. Fake Smiles:




















Fake boobs (yes, I'm speaking to you, Pam Anderson--put her next to a radiator and she melts!):


















*Disclaimer: no offense meant to those of you who may have had such a--eh hem--'procedure'. You know who you are.

People do different things for different reasons--whatever ones reasons, they are personal and their own. No judgements.


We also have fake meats and dairy (of this I am PROUDLY guilty in partaking):


















As well as fake leather and fur (again, I'm proudly guilty):

















Fake haircolor and nails:


















But one thing I will never do, if I can help it, is fake a Christmas tree.

















I understand why people do it. It's money already sitting in their garage rather than going out and spending additional money every year on something one throws away anyway.

But...I like the real ones anyway. I just do.












I like the smell, the tradition of picking one out every year, trimming the branches to make it fit where it needs to. I like watching it all come together.

I used to work at 'Yankee Candle' several years ago. People would come in during the holidays and ask me if we had a candle that smells like a real Christmas tree because they, too, fake it.

And we did--we had several 'outdoorsy' scents.

So, here's an idea for those of you who fake it:










But, I gotta tell ya: As much as I LOVED working at 'Yankee Candle' and adore their candles (I still occasionally buy their tarts for my tart burners--although, not for a while), we were wayyy too over the top expensive. So, if you're going to spend $25.00 on a candle anyway, just take that money and invest it in a real tree this year.

Whatever you do, enjoy the season--your way or my way, it doesn't matter. Just be safe, be happy, take it all in and Merry Christmas to you and yours.






Peace, love and happiness now and always,
~Jo

Tuesday, November 24, 2009






LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL










Do I dare? Do I dare spook it?

I don't know, I think I'm gonna have to...

For the first time in the year and a half since we lost our home and began this nightmare--I feel...wait for it, now, here it comes--HOPEFUL.

After a very kind phone call from our attorney, I feel uplifted. We are meeting with him on Monday, Dec. 1st at 9:00 a.m. (EDIT: I meant Tuesday, Dec 1st--not Monday) He is ready to knock this out! He needs the fax number for the payroll dept. at Ed's work so as we can immediately get the $1000.00 a month garnishment stopped.

Ed gets paid on Thursday, Dec. 3rd--we're hoping it won't be too late to stop it on that paycheck, but...if not, the next pay check (on the 17th) will be $500.00 less anemic. That means we can actually buy a Christmas a tree and a few gifts....

Not only that, but he offered to reimburse us the $45.00 we paid for our mandatory on-line credit counseling as a show of good faith. $45.00 is GOLD to me--I'm elated.

I've had this perpetual gnawing in my stomach for well over a year now--a dull ache. And then, just yesterday, a knot formed in the base of my lower back. You can actually feel it there--like a softball just settling against a fence, with no breeze or movement to get it to shove along...

Ed and 'J' (our 'oldest son') both tried to work it out but, it remained unmoved.

I've lost weight, gained weight, over slept and not slept enough.

We haven't eaten out, we haven't gone to movies (unless it was courtesy of a gift card through a vendor--which has been months now) and we certainly haven't traveled.

We haven't been living and have confined ourselves to our own little corner of the universe. Well, truth be told--more myself than Ed: ignoring phone calls, not making any and having people come to me instead of me venturing out into what I have come to perceive as the 'big, bad world' and all who inhabit it.

My dirty little secret? I'm borderlining 'agoraphobia', mostly keeping company with my prized Pez dispenser collection.

Pretty 'effing' pathetic.

I've cried more times than I can count and had given up hope of ever having a life resembling normal again.

Could it be that hope is resurfacing?

I feel like crying again--only this time, they're happy tears--and I'm holding out hope for hope.

I may even have to change the title of my blog--whoda thunk it?

Should that be the case--if, in fact, I'm not hoping too much here--any suggestions?

Monday, November 23, 2009






WHAT I'M THANKFUL FOR...AND WHAT I'M NOT








Upon reading a few blogs today, I see a lot of 'Thanksgiving' posts going up. This is the time of year where people seem to realize just how much their lives--and the people in it--truly mean to them.

I'm no exception to that.

I have been on 'Blogspot' since June. Not a very long time.

I am, admittedly, a work in progress. I don't know the in's and out's per se of 'blog etiquette'. As I've stated before, I only post what I know, what I think and what I feel to be my truth in my moments here.

Too many times, I have been accused of 'whining'--so much so that I have lost some followers and, as I discovered today, one even wrote a post about me on her blog.

In trying (but not succeeding) to be 'subtle', she excluded my name and the name of my blog. However, she repeated word for word what she blasted me for on here.

Subtle as a train wreck.

I stopped by in the hopes of 'damage control': to wish this person--who once was so kind as to send me a handmade item as a sweet gesture and reaching out--a 'Happy Thanksgiving", 'no hard feelings' and such.

Upon reading that, all my 'peace and good will for mankind' seemed to fly right out the proverbial window and my heart feels positively deflated coupled with very hurt feelings.

She said that I really don't have it that bad and that I should 'stop whining'.

Then she got personal--and putting me on full blast--mentioning my cable and Internet service that we pay for, insinuating, of course; 'How bad can it be if you have money to pay for those things?'

First of all, we have one of those deals with our cable provider where we get phone, cable and Internet for X amount of dollars per month, as a package deal instead of paying for them separately.

We also downgraded our cable to meet our new financial requirements. Now, I am not going to sit here and tell you, her or anyone that I don't enjoy my Internet. I do--more on that in a moment....

But with a son just starting college, Internet is handy--darned near mandatory--for his many projects and homework.

I do financial handstands every month to make sure everything gets paid. We're not starving, but nor do we eat like we did before. Long gone are the days of 'Swiss Steak' and Chicken breasts--but we have food on our table, although not fancy by any means, we're making it.

I've had to forgo my vegan items such as: 'Veganaise' and 'Smart Balance' margarine, not to mention faux breaded chicken breasts, soy ice cream, etc.

Other personal items I'm missing are: My 'Clean And Clear' facial cleanser and moisturizer, pumice stones, and Miss Clairol hair color--just to name a few.

We prioritize so we can have things like Internet, etc.

As I've said before, if it gets to the point where we cannot, then we will downsize once again.

Everyone does what they have to do--we're not above doing so nor do I feel I have a sense of entitlement--to these things nor to anyone's empathy.

I began this blog when I looked around and realized it was getting harder and harder to take that first step every morning. Getting out of bed was becoming a chore and with Ed working so far from home and B in school, I realized I spent an awful lot of time by myself.

Sometimes 15 hours plus...

I keep company with my Mom by phone several times a week (and the occasional lunch/dinner date with her--but she likes her privacy and alone time)--but mostly I felt very isolated.

I also started this blog when B was back east for the summer with his girlfriend.

I was missing him terribly and the camaraderie of his friends who would frequently stop by.

I joined 'Facebook' to reconnect with friends and family--but, truth be told, the camaraderie and closeness of some of my family members--accompanied with pictures of their good times--made me feel even more isolated.

My loneliness at times felt palpable and I could feel a depression coming on.

I had no outlet--enter 'Blogspot'.

Losing my job and home all in one year (2008) was much to bear. Not just for myself, but for Ed, as well.

No doubt anyone who has gone through the same thing, can empathize (again--not to be confused with sympathize).

Now, to put it in perspective--I read a lot of blogs where women have husbands deployed overseas, and a new blog I'm following has this woman's husband gone (for work) for about ten days at a time with only a day or two in between to visit.

These women truly deserve my empathy and respect and I in no way compare myself to them--many of whom have young children.

So, I started this blog to share my stories of bankruptcy and loss and how we cope--to try and find some hope and light at the end of the tunnel and to read others' experiences.

Do I whine?

Probably.

This is my outlet--the co-title of which is; 'Confessions Of A Bankrupt Life'.

People can choose to read it, agree, disagree or move along. I can't control any of that and no one person can please everybody.

However, let me be clear that I did not start a blog so I could say; "Hey, I think I'll whine on here. Sounds like a groovy plan to me."

Again, it is hard to convey emotion through here.

But for people to be so downright personal and ugly is something I cannot fathom.

I'm paraphrasing here but this person stated something along the lines of (in addition to my 'whining') that I 'can dish the shit but I cannot take it'.

The ONLY time I can recall me dishing out 'shit' in my blogs is when I posted about no longer following someone.

I did NOT mention their blog name, nor their name--nor did I write them and make a big stink.

It's their blog, they can certainly write what they please. I'm very pro-honesty. I may not like it or agree--as others may not like or agree what I write--but it's their blog to do with as they wish.

I saw no reasoning in writing them for the sole purpose of humiliation--therefore, I did not humiliate them on their own blog as this person--and her friend--did to me.

That serves no one.

I simply let it be, stopped following them and asked others, on my blog, if they had similar experiences.

I am flesh and blood and bones. I have a heart and I have feelings and today, those feelings got hurt.

My life is made up of a myriad of mistakes and bad choices. I have to live with that--and I pay for it every day. I don't always react well or say and do the right things. Again, I'm a work in progress.

But I know my heart.

All I want to do is give--and receive--enlightenment.

For those of you who are still with me, I thank you and wish you a happy holiday.

As for my 'Thanksgiving': it's my least favorite holiday--for many reasons (see my 'Thought Or Quote Of The Day' towards the bottom of my sidebar for more) but it provides us a chance to be with what little family we have--usually only seven or eight of us--but that's seven or eight more than many people have (like my friend, Jo--see post two below this one) or my friend, Scott (see post below). I'm thankful for the family I do have.

I'm also very thankful for the donation we received today for the 'MS Walk 10' (for my friend, Scott)--it's the first donation this Walk season! :)

So, in spite of what some may think, I'm thankful for what I do have and don't take any of it for granted.

Saturday, November 21, 2009





I WALK FOR SCOTT


Hi, all. Happy holidays to you and yours.

I am embarking on my third MS Walk in Scott's name and honor.

Scott is 53 and has MS (Multiple Sclerosis). He was diagnosed in 1989 at the age of 33.

Scott was a newly engaged man at the time of his diagnosis and 'forwarned' his then fiance` that he didn't know what was to come nor how his MS would progress, therefore, giving her an 'out'.

She vowed to stick with him through thick and thin but after 13 years of marriage, when his MS did indeed progress to the point where he was wheelchair bound, she left.

They had no children.

Scott's father was a physician and his mother a nurse--but neither could heal their son for there is no cure for MS, nor even a definitive cause.

Scott was a 'Hospital Administrator', working hard for years in school and his profession only having to retire early on disability.

After his divorce, Scott moved back in with his parents in 2004. Shortly thereafter his Mom passed away from cancer and his Dad followed two years ago.

Scott has two older siblings who are very loving but neither having the facility or space for Scott's needs as he is in a powerchair.

He moved into Assisted Living--where I worked at the time--in October of 2007. From there we became fast friends and he got me involved in the MS cause.

This will be my third annual MS Walk.

For a little more about Scott and his great attitude, please go to the website towards the bottom of this post....


It's no small thing to give a donation--regardless of the amount. I am not impervious to today's economical crisis and the bearing it has on everyday, hard-working families.

So, it is with great humility that I ask you to find Scott and the MS cause worthy and to please donate only what you're able.

I would never want--nor expect--anyone to go beyond their means. You'd be surprised at how much a $5.00 or $10.00 donation can make a big difference and add up quick.

The previous two Walk seasons, I was grateful to be able to raise nearly $10,000. Everyone truly came out in generous support and the total well exceeded mine and Scott's expectations.

Again, it all adds up.

Here is the information on how to donate to the MS Walk '10 if you're so inclined.


Please give--for Scott and others to have hope for a future without MS.


I walk for Scott.



To make an on-line donation:

1) Go to www.walkmssocal.org

2) Click 'Donate/Pledge' on the left hand side in the green column

3) Then click 'Donate' on the next page

4) From there click 'Search For Participant' and type in my name: Jo Anna O'Hara

5) You should then be led to my participant page where you follow the directions to donate--this is a secure site.

*If you have trouble navigating the site (it happens!) and/or prefer to donate by check, please E-mail me at: ejcbtheshamrock4@aol.com (please identify yourself in the subject box so I don't delete it mistaking it for spam) and I'll give you my address.

Make check payable to the National MS Society and in the memo portion of the check write: 'For Jo Anna O'Hara's Walk Page'.

From there I send it to the MS Society--or feel free to mail it in yourself to:

NMSS - Southern California Chapter
869 E. Foothill Blvd. Ste. I
Upland, CA 91786

*Again, just make sure to include my name in the memo portion.

100% of the proceeds go to the NMSS.

It's perfectly understandable if you're not able to donate--all good wishes are equally welcome and deeply appreciated.

Much thanks!
Peace, love and happiness,
~Jo




For Scott.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


A More Courageous Jo Than I

Jo was the very first friend I made on here months ago on blogspot.

She reached out to me at a time when I felt very much alone--with little or no connection of 'sisterhood' to call my own--and told me; "I'll be your sister." I have never forgotten that....

Today I dropped by her blog: 'Jo's Corner'.

http://jomoseleysblog.blogspot.com/

Jo is battling cancer and, as a result, has lost part of her leg.

She is struggling with raising money to buy a new wheelchair and has little or no family to speak of. What family she does have has forsaken her, leaving her virtually alone to deal with her illness.

Thankfully, she has a neighbor to help feed her cats during her multiple and long hospital stays as well as a "sister in Christ" who has reached out and shown her the kind of love, friendship and kindness that her family hasn't.

Jo has set up a paypal button on the left sidebar of her blog to purchase a wheelchair suitable for her to maneuver.

Please read Jo's story and join her on this journey--she will break your heart and lift your spirits simultaneously.

I know, as I always have, that there are people out there battling so much worse than I--but to put a face on it and read her own heartwrenching words puts it all in perspective....

Jo has over 70 followers but, thus far, no donations. That will change as of today--although, I am able to do very little. However, as with 'Ezra's Mommy' (see her blog button on my side bar), I felt very compelled to bring this to others' attention in the hopes that people can give a few dollars and a 'domino effect' can take place to help a fellow blogger in much need.

Visit Jo's corner and please do what you can, if you can. Donations and/or prayers welcome.

Blessings and thanks.






BLOG LOVE











I picked up today--quite belatedly--two lovely 'Blog Awards'!



One from 'Ekan' from November:

















And the other from Kelly of 'Kelly's Idea's' from way back in September:













They are now posted--proudly--on my side bar under 'Blog Awards'. :)


My apologies for my extreme tardiness in retrieving them.


I want to thank you both for thinking of me and how much I have appreciated your support--and everyone's.


Am still trying to get caught up on visiting everyone's blogs after a long absence....

Those of you who are just stopping by--please see my blog from yesterday titled; 'It's Alive!' for an update.

Love and thanks to you all for the continued blog love and support!

















Peace, love and happiness,
~Jo

Taste The Rainbow

Okay, so the heading has nothing to do with my post.

Just wanted to let everyone know that I'm trying to get to everyones blogs today but keep getting interrupted on my end with a houseful of young men.

I know, I know, most women should be so lucky, eh?

But alas, it is merely B and his loud friends--ha!

Not to mention phone calls and E-mail's about Thanksgiving that need tending to.

Personally, I'd like to skip Thanksgiving (my least favorite hoiliday for several reasons...) and go straight to Christmas!

Anyhoo, what I can't finish today--I will do so tomorrow.

Just wanted everyone to know I'm thinking about you all!

Much peace, love and happiness,
~Jo

Wednesday, November 18, 2009






IT'S ALIVE!










Good morning and a warm hello to all my blog friends whom I have missed dearly.

After six weeks of no computer--we are now back in the grand 'ol swing of things. A guy at Ed's work charged us only $60.00 to fix our PC and said we could pay him in increments.

He basically just cleaned everything out and reinstalled Windows XP, as well as installing a new virus protection program. We had 'McAfee' (which we paid $80.00 a year for!), for all the fat freakin' good it did us.

Nothing is fool proof so all we can do is hope for the best--I'm just tickled to be back on-line.



"WHAT'S HAPPENIN', HOT STUFF?"











We file bankruptcy on December 4th--and are waiting for the other shoe to drop as nothing about this process has seemed to go smoothly thus far.

Yes, I realize that makes me a 'glass is half empty' kinda gal; after having the rug pulled out from underneath us one too many times--we come to expect the worse while always hoping for the best...

I know, I know....let me just beat my critics to the punch right now and say 'Waaa! Waaa! Waaa!', 'Boo-hoo!' and 'Oh, woe is me!'.



See? Who says I don't have a sense of humor????

















Sheesh.





This post is brought to you today by the word 'Poop'.
















Last week we nearly lost our beautiful and much beloved sweet tempered black lab mix, T.J. He's ten years old and suddenly became very lethargic, not eating nor pooping!

I tried homeopathic methods first trying to get him to stabilize his system (a.k.a. poop!) such as blending a concoction of flax seeds with boiling water, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup (as a sweetener attempting to make it more appealing) to lubricate his bowels. Nada.

Then we put him on a bland diet of rice, chicken and chicken broth--nothing doin'! So, I blended it and fed him with a turkey baster several times a day to get some protein and energy in him. Nothing.

Finally we broke down and took him to the vet where they took an X-ray and found he had an enlarged kidney. From there they wanted to do an ultrasound to find out why his kidney is enlarged, however, that was an additional $200.00 we did not have, so, sadly, we had to pass on that. As it was, this visit cost $218.00 for the X-ray, antibiotics and a bottle of pain pills (he has a bad back due to his his size and age). B put the vet visit on his credit card--and we paid him back with our income tax return (which Ed filed late--thank God).

So, I give T.J. six pills a day, switched him from Pedigree adult dog food to Pedigree rice and chicken flavor and he has not only got back to normal (eating and pooping) but is better than before.

Something indeed to be thankful for!

We weren't ready to lose him and, for a while there, it looked like we might.



Random fact of the day: B and I saw a roadrunner in our front yard! You couldn't have surprised me more if if you rolled me over, stapled my head to the carpet and colored me silly!

















In other news, I thought I would share some of how we eat on a tight budget--none of this is particularly original, mind you, but perhaps someone somewhere can get something out of my experience:

I scour the ads every week for each supermarket looking for eggs for .99 cents and ten pound bags of potatoes for the same as well as ground beef, veggies, etc.

I recently got eight pounds of onions for $1.00 (which will last a while) as well as eight pounds of cabbage for the same. I look for hot dogs on sale (usually an eight pack for $1.00) and 'Cup 'O Noodles' which you can typically find four or five for $1.00. Pair the 'Cup 'O Noodles' with grilled cheese for a casual dinner night.

Sometimes I have to go to four or five different places to get all I need but it is so incredibly worth it when one has less than $100.00 for two weeks (including toiletries, household items and pet supplies).

With the hot dogs, I make a poor mans version of 'Wienerschnitzel's' Polish sausage sandwich:

I take one hot dog per sandwich, slice in half length wise and grill in a frying pan with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. I place them between two slices of bread (I get loaves of wheat bread for .88 cents each at 'Food-4-Less') with mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce and tomatoes. The boys love them!

I also divide a pound of ground beef for each recipe (I only buy ground beef if I can get it for $1.00 a pound or less). When there are only two people who eat meat (I'm a vegan so that excludes me, naturally), ground beef can be stretched a mile.

For example, I use only 1/2 pound ground beef for a package of 'Hamburger Helper' (store brand, of course, but sometimes you can find a brand for $1.00 at 'Fresh 'N Easy' for example) instead of the recommended full pound it calls for--and it proves to be plenty.

I save the other half pound to make meatballs for Ed and B to go with the next nights pasta (again, 1/2 pound is plenty and they're big guys, too) or I use it for the following:

Top Ramen with veggies and ground beef:

~Cook one or two bags of Ramen noodles per person (depending on their appetite)--do not add the seasoning to the noodles (Ramen noodles typically run about .20 cents each)

~I brown 1/2 pound of ground beef and don't drain it. The juice from the meat helps the noodles serve easier, which are normally dry and stick together once drained

~Take all the seasoning packets from the noodles and add to the cooked ground beef

~Add two cans of veggies (usually .50 to .70 cents each) with the juice, don't drain

~Drain the Ramen noodles and stir in with the ground beef/veggie mixture.

This is one of their favorites and only costs about $3.00--or less--to make.

We also discovered that rice and dried beans in the bins in the markets are so much cheaper than buying them in pre-packaged bags.

So, one of our favorite (and vegan friendly) meals has been for me to cook up a big pot of beans, make some rice and then pair it with an easy stir fry of cabbage, onions and jalapenos (peppers courtesy of a friends garden).

One night Ed said: "Too bad we don't have tortillas to go with this". No money to go buy any so I got creative and took some unbleached flour I had in my cabinet, tossed in some water, vegetable oil and salt. I rolled it out (put some flour on the rolling pin and the counter) flattened it and fried it in a pan with about a tablespoon of oil per 'tortilla' to make a quick, easy and quite yummy flat bread to go with our beans, rice and cabbage. No specific measurements--I just played with it until I got a dough-y consistency.

We pile the beans, rice (sometimes I cook the rice in vegetable broth, if I have any on hand, for even more flavor) and veggies in the flat bread/tortillas and top it off with 'Tapatio' or 'Valentina' hot sauce (about .99 cents a bottle and will last a long time)--OH MY GOD!

We could be wealthier that Bill Gates and I would still make this meal twice a week!

So, that's just a few of my 'tricks' and ideas--again, nothing earth shattering I know, but it sure has helped us out.

Well, my 'oldest son', 'J', is now here and has waited patiently for me to finish this so we can watch a movie--so, for now, I'm off like a dirty shirt!


I'll be back later today or tomorrow to visit my blog friends pages and spread the blog love--can't wait to catch up with y'all!
















Much peace, love and happiness,
~Jo


Thursday, November 5, 2009





ADDRESSING MY CRITICS AND REFUSAL TO BE CENSORED


Good morning, all. My 'oldest son', 'J', brought over his laptop for me to do my finances, as I do every two weeks: is that called bi-monthly or bi-weekly? Well, whatever it is, it blows--ha!

Before I get to my bankruptcy update, it seems I am, once again, in the proverbial 'hot seat'--not a fun place to be.

Why can't I simply ignore the ugly comments? Apparently my being a cruel, ungrateful and insensitive daughter isn't my only flaw--the fact that I cannot let such criticism and opinions roll off my shoulders, especially when it is indeed so deeply personal, is yet another failure on my part.

My 'diatribe' about the day with my Mom at 'California Adventure'--since it clearly needs to be spelled out so as to further avoid any ugly comments or misunderstandings--was satirical.

It should go without saying how deeply I love my Mom. Is she a pain in my arse at times? indeed. As I am in hers.

I think it sad that I have to, once again, defend my post and to say that no, I really did not want to throw my Mom off the ride.

To convey ones emotions through writing is a difficult task--and one I obviously failed at--especially when the reader does not know me nor my personality personally (dry, facetious humor), especially if my post came across as anything other than in jest.

Mothers and daughters are an interesting dynamic and whether in good or bad times, the love is always there. Always has been, always will be.

A little history:

I'm the youngest of nine children, five are my Mom's, including myself: I'm a 'yours, mine and ours baby' with my Mom having three sons and a daughter from her first marriage and my Dad having three daughters and a son from his first marriage--I'm the youngest and the only 'product' between them both.

I'm also the only one who calls my Mom weekly and when she was evicted from her rental home ten years ago (courtesy of her oldest son--my half-brother...long story there), it was Ed and I who picked up the pieces and took her in. Ed and I, out of my siblings, were the ones least financially capable of doing so. So, she lived with Ed, myself and our two young children at the time in our small three bedroom house for six or seven months before getting her own place. She now lives about 5 minutes from us.

Truthfully, I thought nothing of it but did think it kind of shameful that no one else thought to help her out financially.

Before things got really bad for us financially, I would bring my Mom groceries, take her to the movies and to lunch or dinner once or twice a month.

Unfortunately, I can't do those things right now.


Now, for her birthday this year, she received only one phone call from my other siblings (my mid-west brother), although, my brother who lives closest to us (about 45 minutes to an hour) did come and take her out to dinner the week before.

No card or gift from any of them (excluding the one who took her dinner--that was her gift; it was thoughtful, well received and appreciated by my Mom).

We did our 'California Adventure' thing with her and I got her a paperback book of her favorite author (Nora Roberts) and a pair of warm pajama bottoms. I couldn't do much but I do talk to her at least two to three times a week, while the others only seem to call her on national holidays. However, the brother that took her out to dinner is making more of an effort to do those things now--he lives about 45 minutes from us and so, I do give him credit and am appreciative.

The other three live out of state: one has nothing to do with the rest of the family (since he caused my Mom, and us, so much grief by removing her from her home he rented for her after previously taking out a loan on her house up north, which he then lost and thus, she was twice evicted), the other brother lives in the mid-west and did treat her to a plane ticket to attend his daughters wedding earlier this year but both my Mom and my brother say that the whole trip was disastrous and neither will ever do that again. My Mom's eldest lives back east and, again, only calls on holidays--not even a call, nor a card, from her for my Mom on her birthday last month.

Also, I lost my Dad three years ago--kindly do not speak to me as if I don't know what it means to lose a parent or how valuable my Mom is to me. You're making leaps and bounds of assumptions.

In addition to being called a 'bad daughter' by the two bloggers in question, I was also accused of too much 'whining' and not enough volunteering nor helping myself.

I think that's how it went.

Whining?

You betcha. I set up this blog for the purpose of nothing but. Guilty as charged.

This is my place to vent by exuding brutal truth about bankruptcy and it's daily effects on an average working class family.

Do I think we're the only ones who are, or have, gone though this?

Of course not--most of the whole damn country is going through this and I am in no way delusional about that.

I attempt to get through this whole demeaning process with a little grace and dignity but, sadly, grace and dignity do sometimes fall to the wayside for the commiserating and whining I have been accused of.

Let me just state for the record that there is no handbook for this--I can only write about what I think, what I feel and what the day to day financial struggle is like.

This is simply my story. No one else's. It's told through my eyes only.

I do not pretend to speak for others.

For those of you who have written in support, telling me that you have gone through this, that you have survived it and that it does get better--your encouragement has not gone unnoticed.

It brings me insurmountable comfort and I thank you.

Onto volunteering.

Apparently, my MS (Multiple Sclerosis) fundraising and volunteering hasn't sunk in--maybe I haven't written enough about it.

It's an odd predicament: not wanting to preach nor to 'tally up' ones volunteering time, efforts and monies raised.

For the record, and simply to silence my critics, which I hope will be once and for all, here is what I do and why I do it:

I am about to embark on my third consecutive MS Walk. In two walk seasons, I have raised $10,000 for the NMSS (National Multiple Sclerosis Society) in the name of my friend, Scott, who has MS.

Scott introduced me to the plight of the MS cause and got me proactive.

Scott is 53 and lives in the assisted living where I used to work. That's how I met him. I will write more about Scott and our quest for a cause and cure for MS in an upcoming blog.

Prior to that, I volunteered in my kids school for years and years, winning the school districts award for parent volunteer of the year as well as Ed and I both managing our sons baseball teams for nearly ten years--all volunteer positions.

When I worked in assisted living (which was a bi-product that came from a need after my fathers death--again, please don't tell me that I don't understand the value of our elders...it's insulting) my son came in and volunteered in everything from moving furniture for residents, calling bingo and putting up holiday decorations.

He's also worked in soup kitchens.

But apparently, none of this is enough for some of my readers.

Again, I will be back in December to talk about the upcoming MS Walk '10.

I'm sorry to have lost some followers, truly I am. I acknowledge fully that I am not everyone's cup of tea and that it's easy to be misunderstood in writing.

With that said, you're all perfectly entitled to how you feel. Thank you for your previous support. No hard feelings and I wish you well.

Moving onto the bankruptcy update:

It has been postponed until December.

A new law was apparently placed in effect November 1st claiming Riverside County (where we live) to be in a lower cost of living bracket: 'they' claim (seriously, who are 'they' and do 'they' have a freaking clue???) that the cost of living has gone down.

Let's see: gas is still $3.00 a gallon. Groceries have gone up. Our rent hasn't gone down nor has our utilities.

This is almost laughable.

The way it works is this: in order to file bankruptcy you have to show six months of low income. So, we were starting in May to November, which is when we were to file.

Now, with this new law, we have to wait another month.

So, we just have to hang in there a little while longer--we have an appointment with our attorney on Friday, December 4th, to put this in motion. The day after we file for bankruptcy, the garnishment stops on my husbands wages, which by the way is $1,000 (one thousand) a month that's being taken out.

And to my critics who say I'm not helping myself: I have done a tightrope act worthy of 'Cirque Du Soleil' (sp?) to keep us fed and in a house with working utilities as well as pulling money out of my rear for Ed to get back and forth to work every day: he works in L.A. county, a good thirty miles from our home in a job he's been at for over twenty years.

Secondly--I am unable to work because my wages would also get garnished and we would be ineligible to file for bankruptcy at all due to 'too much income'.

We are $30,000 plus in debt from the second on the house we lost.

Without bankruptcy, it would take years to pay that off and we, quite frankly, cannot keep going like we are.

I have about $200.00 a month to spend on groceries for three people--and when I say 'groceries', I mean EVERYTHING: laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, dish liquid, toilet paper, napkins, etc. Not just food.

We have two beloved pets we've had for over ten years: a beautiful lab mix named T.J., who is ten years old, and a feline named Priscilla ('Prissy') who is eleven. Both are, of course, also part of our clan and are a priority and need to eat as well (twice a day).


The $200.00 naturally includes their care as well as ours.

So, it's a battle but we're hanging onto the end result and looking forward to that silver lining.

We hope it won't always be like this.

Time for me to pay bills and run through our finances. I'm going to try very hard to come back today if I'm able (not sure what time 'J' needs his laptop back) and visit my blog friends on 'their turf' as I've missed seeing all that's going on in your lives.

Thank you all for your never ending support.

Love, peace and happiness,
~Jo