Posts Tagged With: mail


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Continuing the saga of my homeless brother Norman, here he is with his little dog and his bike. He lost the dog the last time he was arrested.  He had taken over a condemned house. With a house address, he was able to get a bank account and begin collecting his social security which amounted to about $1,200 a month. He dug a new sewer line, fixed leaks on the roof, put in new flooring, a toilet and new plumbing. Over time,  he put in a washer and dryer and television set. He made friends with the neighbors.  He lived in this place for three years and invited a couple other homeless guys to live there too.  Then, he decided to plant a garden with veggies and marijuana. A neighbor reported on him and the police came to “his house”, knocked on the door, arrested him for growing marijuana. (The other two guys vacated the minute the cops came to the door.)The cops would not let him secure the house nor make arrangements for his dog.  Directly to jail.

In court, Norman could make a deal with the D.A. but he refuses. “If you do, they own you. They can just pick you up at any time and slap you back in jail for looking cross-eyed at someone.  Probation for me is useless. I can’t get anywhere on time. I don’t have a watch or a calendar. I often don’t know the time of day or what day it is.”

While in jail, another brother picked up his mail and deposited his checks and paid for his storage building.  Without family help, he would have had to reapply for Social Security all over again, and wait for it to clear, from 6 weeks to  3 months.  When Norman returned to “his house”, the place had been stripped of everything he owned. His dog, gone.

He made his way back to a homeless camping area under the freeway in San Leandro. Someone told him  about a mobile home park in Hayward with vacancies.  It was a run-down place. He walked up to apply. The woman took one look at him and turned the sign around and said she had no vacancies. He was scruffy and dirty again, by this time.

Norman is personable. People like him.  He makes it a point to befriend the storekeepers he must depend on so they know he doesn’t steal. He manages to fend off depression through his Bible and his faith.

Desperation is the most common ailment of the homeless. It sucks away any sense of well-being, hope or strength. It is naive to think that homeless people, single men especially, who can’t afford housing and basic necessities, should somehow be kind and sweet. Homeless people can be scary, full of tattoos, drunk and offensive, druggies, often panhandling aggressively. They don’t want to be dirty and stinky and loathed by all who see them. So called normal people with homes and traditional lives suffer from depression, drink too much, beat their wives, and kick the dog.  They can live their messy lives behind a locked door. But the homeless are treated like trash and we expect them not to be depressed, hungry, angry, criminal and ill?

It kind of reminds me of the old debtors prisons. You go prison for stealing a loaf of bread because you are hungry. You can’t get out until someone pays your way out, but you have no money to make that happen. Are we that medieval?  The way some cities treat the homeless, the answer is yes.

Everything has changed again for Norman. He is in a burnt out house that he is slowly fixing for the owner using his carpentry skills. He is not paid. With housing, he is stable, relatively sober and upbeat. The owner buys materials and arrives with his tools, one or two days a month. The owner takes the tools with him so no one can steal them while he is gone. (Not exactly the best neighborhood.)

At this new place, he has something to love-a stray cat;  He has a place safe from young street punks who steal his bike and shove him around, just because they can. Here guys on the street have offered him friendship and marijuana. He doesn’t trust them and so far has refused any involvement with them. It is easier to do when you have a locked door.

The owner, (to remain unnamed), is a guy Norman built a house for about 10 years ago when he was homeless but still working for food and booze.  It was before he had his stroke and before he could collect his social security. This man allows Norman to use his address for his mail when he is living on the street.

Norman has a throw away phone for which he buys minutes so he can communicate with me. He has a know it all attitude about some subjects and can be irritating at times.  I listen as patiently as I can.

Currently, his Social Security has been  reduced to $780 a month.  Social Security is on auto deposit now, and they promptly deducted Obama Care from his check.  He has no way to get to a hospital, or establish a relationship with a doctor. He recently had a toothache and was in considerable pain. But, he couldn’t get to a dentist either. His income and ability to find a place to live is further from reach then ever, when this house is finished.

His bills are few without rent. He has to pay his storage fee. When on the street he has electricity in his unit and he can cook in a crock pot and sit in a chair and write his letters. He has a place to keep his papers safe and dry.  But, no shower, nor place to sleep.  Still, it is a refuge of sorts that the manager of the storage building allows because he likes Norman.

Meanwhile, in this house, he can shower and keep himself clean.  He is stable and has a sense of purpose. He writes letters to public figures like Elizabeth Warren, President Obama, Governor Christie. He writes long letters to major newspapers and sends me copies of them.  He is a bit mentally impaired in that he thinks he is part of the political scene and is influencing others for a better America with his letters.

I feel he needs to know that he has some self-worth; that his opinion is worth something to someone. That someone cares about whether he lives or dies.  Isn’t that what we all need?  A sense of self-worth with some dignity?

In one of his letters to the editor, he wrote:  “A fox has his den, a bird has her nest, but the son of man has no place to lay his head.”

So, what is the answer? More tomorrow.


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It is a marvelous feeling to look back on a year and find good things among the inevitable sorrows. I can say with certainty that good health is a giant totem along with grandchildren who live and learn well that life is what you put into it, brings me great joy. Grandchildren are the frosting to match the silver in my hair. Friends are gold without which life would be tarnished. I can truthfully say my cup runneth over.

I will toast all of you tonight as I hoist a glass with my son and daughter-in-law, even if the end of this year was a bummer and a lesson learned.


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I received this packet from the postmaster with ruined Christmas cards and bills ransacked for checks, then tossed on Sheep Ranch Road, found there, and returned to me. It is a federal offense to steal from a postal box and I will contact them this morning. Don’t know if they will bother to lift  a print from paper. I’ll let you know. What I learned, is never to put checks in my mail box at Christmas time. And, I’m grateful they were found so my friends don’t wonder why they didn’t hear from me. It took over two hours at the bank to get my account changed. If they hadn’t been found, I wouldn’t have known and my account information could have been sold to some professionals.

But on to the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, but never in want. (Traditional.)

I love toasts and here are a few fun ones:

As you slide down the bannister of life, may all the splinters point in the wrong direction!

Here is one bottle for the four of us. Thank God there’s no more of us.

Bless oh Lord, these delectable vittles

May they go to your head and not to your middles.

Here’s to the bottle that holds a store of imprisoned joy and laughter,

Here’s to the bottle, many more bottles, and others to follow after. 

(But, don’t rack up too many.) 

Happy New Year

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Today I’ll go take my drivers test and get my car damage bid for repair, again. The body shop that was supposed to fix my car while I was gone, went out of business. I actually tried to reach a body shop in Hathaway Pines and road work prevented me from getting into their business. Things don’t always work like we planned. So, today, short shrift. I still have plenty of mail to take care of, and I have a file of mailbox pictures. Just for fun, hope you enjoy them:



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I read over all of  the messages, and some new ones,  and had another cry this morning. I guess it is cathartic.  It has helped Jim to be able to vent and talk through his experience over and over. He has struggled with guilt feelings about Dr. Crowe’s death, thinking that if he hadn’t shouted “We’re going over”, maybe he wouldn’t have jumped.  On the other hand, maybe it helped save others worse trauma to have been warned, he also reasons.  There is no answer I tell him, and no one can make rational sense of  what they did during an event that lasted about five seconds and forever changed all of our lives.

I laughed at him yesterday as he wanted all of his bruises and mine, photographed.  Yesterday he went back to the clinic.  They wrapped his chest tightly and explained to him that he had held onto the chair leg so tightly, that the power of the wreck really wrenched and tore that muscle and that is why he is in so much pain. Every move, breath and burp.   He slept really well for the first time last night. It doesn’t matter how severe your injuries are, the emotional trauma can be debilitating, as we all know.

I keep thinking of Sara Dailey’s words,  Walk In Beauty. They resonate constantly in my mind and I try to keep them foremost. Also the words of Carolyn, Richard’s sister, “…we look through a glass darkly…”   How true, and then we must move on.

I also heard from Stuart Koch, the father of a young officer with the Sheriff’s Department, Zach Koch, who loaded my pictures from the canyon and the accident into his hard drive, two days back.  We gave a lengthy recorded statement as well. Stuart, from Chicago,  said he was so proud of his son and seeing the pictures gave him a perspective of what his work entails at times. (Pretty gritty.)  Zach spent time with Mrs. Crowe and was very much affected by the families trauma, as well.  Being in law enforcement does not make you immune to suffering.

I’m getting restless and feeling  kind of trapped in our tin can.  Many of  you know we are in a motor home in the camp ground for Canyon de Chelly.  As travel bloggers, we are used to getting out and doing things.   We discussed maybe driving  the South Rim overlook that we had to quit because the wind nearly blew us  off the ridge. That happened the day before the accident. In fact, I took pictures of the dust that seeped into the motor home even with the windows closed that day.

This is the window closest to the dinette table. I drew my finger through the dust on the table before taking the photo.  Of course, I wiped the table but the window sills throughout are heavy with dust.

This photo is of the bedroom window sill, again with my finger run through the dust.  I’m hoping today I have the energy to haul out the vacuum and get rid of most of it. The road of life is a dusty one,  Jim keeps telling me.

Because the accident has kept us here, we had our mail rerouted from our expected destination in Durango, Colorado. I drove to town, and Jim got his new credit card after it was skimmed. And I finally got my absentee ballot for California. The time was short, I marked my ballot, put it in an express mail envelope and went to send it and I had driven to town without my wallet and didn’t have a dime to pay for it.  It was late in the day. I drove back and tossed it on the dashboard. The first time I have ever missed voting in an election since I was old enough to vote.

A lot of firsts happened to us this week, the least of which are the small irritations like missing my vote.  Last night, I loaded all but one of the accident pictures into an album if you have the need to look at them.  You can see them at this link:

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