Saturday, January 21, 2006

Just Say No, or, How Do People Come To This?

I've gone through one of my dry spells lately. Aside form posting photos of some fun stuff, I really haven't felt like writing lately. My life has been quite busy, but also quite mundane, dealing with the everyday problems and issues that come up in life.

Helping my parents. Driving the kids and their friends around. Work. Nothing out of the ordinary, really, therefore nothing worth commenting on.

Yesterday, however, I got a call from my sister. She's been staying with my parents for the last couple of years, since her divorce, fulfilling (in my opinion) a childhood promise to "live at home and take care of" our parents.

She's a spitfire, though, my sister. I would hate to go up against her in any sort of confrontation. Well, verbally anyway. I'd kick her butt mano-a-mano, but you guys know what I mean.

She called me last night quite concerned that my older brother's x-wife and her daughter were at my parent's house.

See, by brother's ex-wife IS an ex-wife for a very good reason: drugs and gambling. Since the divorce she's blown through quite a lot of money, and has wound up essentially homeless and destitute, along with her very sweet but co-dependent daughter, and HER little 4 year old boy. Yeah, quite a sad situation all over.

My mom, being the kind, loving, nurturing and controlling person she is, she has lent/loaned/given/lost a fair amount of money helping this lady and her kids, since this lady essentially had no one else to turn to (her own doing, but that's another matter). It's money my parents have not missed, so there's no issue with my parents being shorted by my mom's generosity. It's just the issue: the woman has lied to my mom, cajoled, begged, and done everything else she could to get money to survive. Often my mom would take groceries out to them, take the woman to welfare appointments, etc, etc, mainly for the sake of the 4-year boy in the picture.

My mom would give the shirt off her back if it helps a child. She's just that way.

So, my sister calls me, rightfully concerned that my brother's ex and her daughter are at the house, talking to my mom. My sister is just certain mom is going to give away the farm, or something close to it, to a couple of druggie drifters who don't deserve a dime (her opinion). So she asks me to call mom in a bit, check on her, and see if she will talk to me about what's going on, because by now mom has had enough of my sister, and isn't telling her anymore about what's going on!

I talk to mom. She's gonna buy them a bus ticket to Utah so the ex can go stay with her brother. Fair enough. The bus leaves at 2:00am.

What?? 2:00AM??

Now, my mom is 77 this year, can barely walk some days, and has horrible night vision. I know she will drive them to the bus station, though, no matter what it takes. She's just that way. So, I tell her don't drive, I'll come down and pick them up and take them to the station. Mom says she's coming too, since she's buying the ticket. Fine. I'll be there about 1:00am.

Mind you, I work at 6:00am. Sigh.

So, I go down to my parents, and the ex and her daughter are ready with the 4-year old boy to take the bus to Utah, taking only what they have on their backs. Again, sigh. Did you know it's cold in Utah this time of year? My brother lives back there, and he said they are having highs of about 18-20 degrees right now.

Freaky cold.

Oh, did I mention my brother's ex hadn't called her brother back in Utah to tell him they are coming? They're just gonna pop into the bus station, call him and say "hello!".

By a small coincidence, one of my other brothers (I have 3) works at Hill AFB in Ogden with the ex's brother. My brother gave her brother a call to give him a head's up. Again..... sigh.

So, my mom and I left a crying 40-year old woman, her 23-year old daughter, and 4-yr old son in the Sacramento Greyhound bus station at 2:00am with a one-way ticket to Utah. I went out to my car and got my old leather jacket (I never wear it) and gave it to the ex. It's gonna be cold, I said. You can use it more than I can. She gave me a big hug.

The last thing I hear as my mother and I were walking out of the bus depot was the ex's daughter telling her "stop crying, mama. Quit being such a baby."

S I G H .

It's all very sad. The sadder part is that, although this story is somewhat personal to me, it happens time and time again, all over the country. I talk to people on a daily basis that have no hope, and no place to turn.

It left me with a very hollow feeling in my gut. I don't know how I would handle having nothing, and no hope. I don't know how people live that way, but they do.

The worst part is, some of them you can't really help. They have to find their way, "hitting bottom" as they say, on their own, and climbing out of the hole all by themselves. You can give them a hand, a leg up, a stake, whatever.... some people just don't know what to do with it. They have no clue how to stand on their own two feet until they are forced to.

And some never, ever learn.

On that depressing note, I'd like to direct you to something much more uplifting and fun! A fellow blogger that I read is posting a very entertaining, and enlightening, "Ask Nic" forum on her blog. She challenged readers to ask her anything about herself, and she'd answer (within reason), and she's taken on some tough questions, and been quite honest about herself. She's a very good writer (one of the more clear and concise I've seen), and I enjoy reading her stuff very much. I encourage you to go take a look!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Snowday 2 - Highway 50

I came home from work early on Sunday. The day was absolutely gorgeous; one of those days with blue skies and crisp breezes that you just can't waste indoors. So, I got home, and told my youngest daughter, Camie, that we gotta go someplace.

So, we headed up highway 50 from Sacramento toward Lake Tahoe. I wasn't sure if we'd make it all the way, what with lots of snow in the mountains, but I figured it would be a nice drive either way. We hit snow at about 3000 feet, right around Apple Hill, about 6 miles east of Placerville.

We stopped at Bridalveil Falls, a small natural waterfall that runs year round about 15 miles east of Placerville. Camie slipped on her snow boots, and out she went. Snow!!!!

I decided to get out and take a look too. Bridalveil Falls is one of those things that I just have to stop and look at each time I drive up highway 50. Right now, it's just a trickle, seeing as that a lot of the water is tied up in the snow, but just wait until spring when things thaw! It becomes a raging torrent!

Except for a few clouds around Placerville, the weather in the mountains stayed clear for us, all the way up to Lake Tahoe. It was fun, following snow plows, skidding around (just a little) on the icy roads, and generally just being amazed at how different the snowy mountains are from my warm valley home. My window washers froze up on me, so I had to suffer with a dirty windshield, which drives me nuts!! This photo is Ceasars Tahoe, as seen from the 5th floor of the Harvey's Casino parking garage. Camie and I stopped in at Harvey's for dinner before we turned around for the drive back home.

Most of the parking garage was covered, but there's always some parts that are exposed. This part, on the 5th floor, was covered with a pristine white blanket of soft powder that Camie just had to get out and play in. We fiddled around in the powder for a while before leaving. She was understandably, a bit chilly right here. The temperature outside at the casinos was about 15F.

After we left the casinos we started home, and Camie asked if we could find one more place to get out and play in the snow. Mind you, it's 9:30pm now, and Sacramento is 92 miles away, but I'm a sucker for my daughter's when they ask nice, so we found one of the beach access streets for Tahoe's shore, and got out to play. The staircase is a beach access for a dock. Where the snow stops behind Camie is actually the shore of Lake Tahoe. All that black area is the lake. It so cold you can see my breath in the photo, hanging like a fog. The moon was full, the air was crystal clear, and in the darkness (this was a few miles away from the casinos) you could see the entire lake in the moonlight, with the snow-covered mountains towering above the water, granite silent. I've been in the Sierra's a lot, and this was one of the most impressive sights I've seen. Too bad the light was too low for any photos to turn out.

This was the last photo before we piled back into the car and turned on the heater. We'd brought our snowboots, jackets, and gloves, but Camie hadn't really planned on getting... you know... IN the snow. She tripped and realized that her jeans really don't offer much protection from the truly freezing cold. If it was a balmy 15F degrees at the casinos (what with all the lights and machinery running on the strip), my car said it was 10F degrees here at the lake. As we drove back home, passing through Meyers just prior to the Echo Summit, my car's thermometer said 6F degrees! That's the coldest weather this valley dweller has ever been in!