Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dazed and Confused

This has been the WORST winter of my life!!

This winter has officially been declared the snowiest AND coldest on record. This is highly unusual, as snowy winters are generally warmer. Our normally cozy winter days were consumed with moving snow in subzero temperatures...over and over and over....

I've lost 3 friends and 2 close relatives.

Last fall my Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Last week he was diagnosed with colon cancer. He's scheduled for surgery on May 11th. In addition, Dad's knees have deteriorated to the point that walking and driving have become extremely difficult for him. We've been taking up the slack with his home maintenance chores.

My Mom is showing more and more signs of dementia.

Our economy, which has been sliding into the shitter for the past 15 years, is worse than ever. Instead of desperately looking for jobs for our area, our county and city officials are suing each other over the placement of a stupid ROAD! Guess who's footing the bill for BOTH sides of this lawsuit?

Our beloved nephew has turned to alcohol and suicidal thoughts following a painful divorce. His brother, the blithering idiot, is awaiting trial for his SECOND DUI!

Z has been struggling with depression and sleep problems, on and off, throughout the winter.

Our area has lost hundreds of Red Polls, 20 cats, and several squirrels to salmonella.

Our half-wit, redneck neighbor is slowly encroaching onto our property. A fence, at least on that corner of our property, is becoming a necessity.

We discovered that L is passive-aggressive, and I have been enabling him for the past 30 years. You know what? Right now I'm too overwhelmed to work on this problem. I've had enough head-banging moments this winter.

Do you ever feel like you're spinning your wheels? Yeah, me too!

Remember when I tackled 3 yrs worth of mending in February? The picture above is the new stack of mending that has accumulated since then.

Our 5-yr-old refrigerator died in February. I'm now in the process of trying to get Sears to send us the $75 delivery charge rebate they owe us....VERY time consuming! My next step is to contact our State Attorney General's office.

I really need to start the process of getting us all border crossing cards, so we can get back into our own country when, and IF, we're able to visit SME. I really don't see how this will prevent terrorists from crossing the Canadian border when we have THOUSANDS of miles of unguarded border between our countries. To me, this is just another expense that we can ill afford.

So what am I doing to dispel the funk that surrounds us?

Monday, the day we found out my Dad has colon cancer, our pussy-willows popped out. I immediately grabbed my pruning shears and cut 2 bunches, one for us and one for my parents. This sign of re-birth is exactly what we needed.

Last week Z and I planted tomato and flower seeds. Thursday, sprouts of green in our pots brightened our day.

The past 3 yrs we've worked at the structural, and necessary, repairs to our home. This weekend we'll be starting a purely aesthetic project. That's right, in addition to spending our tax refund on replacing the siding on the back of our house, we'll be "prettifying" our kitchen. Fresh paint will be covering the outdated wallpaper that's visible behind the pussy-willows. Then we'll be laying a lovely new, wood-grained, laminate floor. Sometime, before next winter, I'll be sewing new curtains for our refurbished kitchen. Next summer we'll tackle re-staining the cabinets.

Hopefully the fumes of fresh paint will chase the funky black clouds from my head!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Fever

This is what 123 inches of melted snow looks like. The frost isn't out of the ground yet, so there it sits. It doesn't look like we'll be doing any yard work for, at least, another month. THIS is the part of spring I HATE! The days are warmer, so we feel like being outdoors. BUT, there's not a damned thing we can do out there! Our landscape is nothing but dreary, leafless, muddy, dirty SLOP! Cabin fever is at it's worst now.

Adding to our misery is the epidemic deaths of Red Polls in our county. Red Polls are tough, cheerful little birds that always brighten our winters. They are so tough that our area is their idea of flying south for the winter. They should have headed back to their Arctic Circle breeding grounds by now. I imagine our late spring has kept them here longer than usual.

The past 2 weeks I've picked up 5 Red Poll bodies from our back yard. I feared Bird Flu. This happened about 5 yrs ago with Pine Ciskins and Slate-Colored Juncoes being the victims. At that time, our local DNR office tested the bodies for disease, with no conclusive results. The DNR's theory was that there must have been some kind of fungus in the bird seed that everybody was feeding the birds.

This time one of our local vets tested the bodies and found a salmonella epidemic. Fortunately, we'd already moved Hairry to the front yard, and away from our birdfeeder, when our back yard flooded.

In an article in our local paper, our vet suggests that we all take down, and sterilize, our birdfeeders for the remainder of the spring bird migration. I really hate to do this as the influx of birds to our feeder is the bright spot of our spring. I also hate to deny food to our nesting chickadees. But if this is what it takes to help slow the spread of disease in our bird population, I guess we'll have to comply.

The good news is that our grill is now accessible. L will be grilling the first steaks of the season tonight!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

4 Years

Yesterday was the 4th anniversary of my blog. A LOT has happened in those 4 years!

The picture above is how Z looked 4 years ago. I started this blog 3 months after we started homeschooling. Z was halfway through 7th grade and failing all of his classes. Z's TS, along with co-morbid ADD, OCD, Executive Dysfunction, and dysgraphia, made it impossible for him to successfully learn in a classic high-school setting. At the time we didn't know how we were going to conquer his learning disabilities. All we knew was that we couldn't stand back and watch a kid with a 131+ IQ fall through the cracks of our public education system.

When we pulled Z out of school his self-esteem was shot. Frustration with his ADD and OCD caused him to overreact to his failures. Meltdowns and rages were common. Anxiety attacks and a nervous stomach, bordering on gastritis, further hindered his attention span. There were many times that Z's ever-changing tics prevented him from reading or holding a pencil. At this time learning was excruciatingly slow! Z required constant one-on-one supervision to keep him on task.

I had been constantly researching Z's conditions ever since he was diagnosed with TS in the 3rd grade. Homeschooling required even MORE research, both for learning materials and for methods to overcome his handicaps. We tried hundreds of learning methods. A few methods worked, most didn't.

2 yrs ago, I ordered a book on speed reading and a book on memory enhancement techniques. With all the reading that special-ed homeschooling required, I felt I needed a few time saving techniques. I never got the chance to read those 2 books....but Z did. While I was at work, Z read those books and discovered the breakthrough I'd been searching for.

Speed reading enabled Z to hyper-focus on his reading, which miraculously bypassed his ADD. Up to this point, the only books that Z had ever finished were the first 4 Harry Potter books. After completing his self-taught speed reading course, there was no stopping him. Z BECAME A VORACIOUS READER! The following 2 yrs found Z teaching himself history, science, and english. There was no stopping his quest for knowledge!

The next 2 yrs we will be concentrating on math and filling in a few gaps in his other subjects. We're all confident that Z will breeze through his GED when we finish those subjects.

This winter Z has been researching career choices. Z understands his strengths and weaknesses and is trying to find a good match for his future. Z knows that there are certain careers that he just wouldn't be good at. He also knows that it's hard to find a stable career in our current economy. Z's not alone in his search. It's extremely difficult for our youth to find a way to support themselves right now.
This is how Z looks today....a cocky, know-it-all, mouthy, thoughtful, loving teenager. Z will always have to deal with his disabilities, but I have no doubt that he'll continue to teach himself the best way to handle his life.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Welcome to Spring in Northern MN!

The weekend following our blizzard, we had 4 days of +50F weather, followed by 2 inches of rain. The culverts are still frozen so the water had nowhere to go...except into our yards. The picture above shows the ditch water, level with our yard. Fortunately, it turned cold again so the ditches froze over.

The water on the other side of our driveway had current in it as it slowly drained into our neighbor's too low yard. It couldn't have happened to a better guy!

This is a picture of the standing water, on top of the ice, between our house and garage. All of this water has nowhere to go until the frost goes out of the ground. Many basements and garages were flooding last week.

SW of us, residents are still waiting for the Red River to crest. I can only imagine what a nightmare that is!

This week we got 5 more inches of heavy, wet snow. The forecast calls for snow for the next 5 out of 7 days.

Between our endless winter and the horrendous economy, my mood has been far from light-hearted. Coherent thought escapes me. I need a nap!