No matter what the day brings, deep down I know it really is a good day because I have the man of my dreams, a kitty who loves me, a roof over my head and I live in paradise.

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Into the Land of Ice and Snow
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Quote of the Day:

“When a cowboy gives you a key to his truck, you know you’re close to winning the key to his heart.”
-- “Never Ask a Man the Size of His Spread: A Cowgirl’s Guide to Life” – Gladiola Montana

Before I begin today’s entry, I have to give a chuckle to this quote. This is a true quote because the day Michael gave me the key to his Magical Blue Truck, I was in heaven. I loved riding with him in the truck. Blue was not set up on BIG tires just regular ones but I felt I was on top of the world. By the way, Blue was a 1972 Chevy with a short bed. Just the right size as far as I was concerned.

Although, the first few times I went out in Blue by myself, when I would get to where I was going, I would lock the door. But then, when I came back and tried to unlock the door, Blue would not let me in. I eventually did get into the truck but I’m not to sure she thought I was up to the task of driving her. Michael told me if it happened anymore just to get in from the passenger side. Blue never let me get that far. Man, Blue was a fun truck to drive!

Anyway, into the land of ice and snow:

The first day of driving wasn’t too bad. The U-Haul was not a fun ride according to Michael. The shocks were so stiff that we felt every bump in the road. Up along the Continental Divide there is a lot of frost heave on those highways.

Again, it is me, Michael, Max and Bailey in the cab of the truck. I have the litter box at my feet and food and a little water on the seat. There sure wasn’t a lot of room but we made do.

One funny story about Max, I decided to take him for a walk to some grassy area at one of the gas stations. I had him harnessed and leashed up and out we go. I am taking my time because Max is not at all happy about being on a leash. Half way across the parking lot I realize I have a heavy pull on the leash. I look back and there is Max on side allowing me to pull him over the asphalt. Oh my goodness!

I was so shook up and worrying about what people were saying. “Look at that gal, she’s dragging her cat.” Oh the stuff our fur children can get us into. I quickly picked up Max and went over to the grassy area but he was not interested in it at all. He sat down and looked at me with his superior look, “Like now what?” Okay then, I picked up him back up and we went back to the truck. The not so fun part was as he was dragged along the parking lot, he had picked up dust and grime and now it was on my shirt. Oooooh. That was the last time I attempted to give Max some air and green grass.

As the day went by, the clouds were coming in. One of the radio stations we could get was predicting snow. Hmmm, this does not sound promising. By late afternoon, the snow begins to fall. It’s not too bad but as night falls, the snow is coming down faster and heavier. Pretty soon, Michael cannot see the center line.

I suggested he keep his eyes on the taillights of our friends’ car and I would watch the edge of the road from my side. Now we are going down hill on a twisty road. Then we smell something burning. Yup, the brakes are heating up. We call ahead on the walkie talkie and let them know what is going on. The suggestion is given that Michael shift down a gear and to try to stay off the brakes as much as possible. Okay, we can do that.

By now Michael is becoming a little freaked out what with the darkness, snow and the smell of the brakes. I can’t say I blame him as I would be too. Then the next disaster strikes: the lights of the dashboard and the headlights go out. Oh this is too much for a family to bear. Again, we call ahead and let them know what is going on. They find us a place to pull over. Michael is stressed now and in his stress, when he went to leave the truck, he forgot about the step and stepped out into nothingness until his left hip hit the road. Ouch!

This was the icing on a not very fun cake let me tell you. We all kind of figured that a fuse had blown but in the dark it was hard to tell. At this point, our so called friends – the husband – said they would leave us and for us to get down the mountain as best we could and they would head for home so they could pick up their dogs. Thanks to us the dogs had been with the vet’s living facilities two extra days than they should have been. Oh thanks a lot. This should have been our first clue that things in Eden were not as they should have been.

Our argument was that we did not know where they lived. Michael also stated that he was ready to quit for the night. With stress, fatigue and now aching joints from falling down, he was ready for a hot shower and a good night’s sleep. The other two had a discussion and finally agreed and we found a cheap motel and slept the night.

The funny story here was there were two rooms left. One had a king-sized bed and the other a queen-sized bed. The couple said that since they were stopping for us, they would take the room with the king-sized bed. Well, that was okay with us. Our room was small but it was cloud nine to us. Michael got his bath, the kitties got to have an extra share of food and a fresh bowl of water. Me, I was just happy to be out of the cab of that U-Haul truck.

Come morning, we were sort of grouched at some more because the room our friends chose had no heat nor did it have hot water. Oh well.

Calls were made to U-Haul and over the phone they were able to tell the guys what to do about the lights and restoration was made and off we went into the veritable winter wonderland.

Seeing all that snow was a bit much for two California people. But by late afternoon, we made it to their home.

The dogs were retrieved and we were enveloped in a mass of barking, bouncing dogs. We soon came to dislike yippy, yappy dogs. Would you believe it? These dogs also pooped and peed all over the carpet.

My first morning in Colorado, I wake up to a sunny day but the window in our room had frost crystals on it. Looking outside, it was nothing but new snow. I begin to cry. My depression setting in and I knew I had made a big mistake by not talking more to Michael about moving here.

In this household there was lots of drama and chaos. I stayed in our room with the two cats. I found out not long after that our friends’ cats would come into our room and eat our cats’ food. I began keeping our door shut.

During this time, I learned my grandfather had died in December. This was hard to bear because I could not get back to Maine. Thank heavens for the cards and letters from Lady C sending moral support and encouragement to me. Next to her and Michael I don’t know what I would have done.

We found storage up in the mountains outside of town and got the U-Haul truck unloaded and returned. That was a big relief. We brought some things home with us but with such a small space most of our belongings had to stay in storage.

Things went from bad to worse. I spent more time in our room. Actually Michael and I had a pretty good time to ourselves. We would sing “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” and other songs that we knew.

Finally things came to a head and Michael and I decided to move back to California. Between our living situation and the snow, we wanted the sunny skies of what we called home.

Issues of money came up, issues of not helping about the house came up and issues of our cats pooping and peeing came up. Oh what did not come up?

To our surprise, they held Michael’s motorcycle hostage in their garage. We had to call the police to get them to release the bike. The cops also talked them into letting us stay one more day because a storm was coming in and it would be in everyone’s best interest that we wait until after the storm to move.

So what did they do, opened the garage door and told us to remove the bike out to the street. Fast thinking Michael went to Wal-Mart and purchased a tarp and bungee cords. He tarped the bike as best he could and we road out the storm. On our last day with them, we called AAA to come and they towed the bike to the storage unit and that was the last in the land of ice and snow.

In April, we rented another U-Haul truck, packed up our belongings and headed for California.

Oh it was a joy to be coming home. We had made arrangements to stay with friends upon our arrival for two weeks. Our belongings went back into storage. Our friends were troopers in listening to our tale of woe. They fed us, shared their home and eased us back into California living.

After two weeks, we went to stay with Michael’s brother for a couple of months. Once more, we are in a room sleeping on two sofas. One or the other cat would sleep with us or both would be with one of us. We went about our business. Still we could not find a residence we could afford.

Luckily for us, I had heard on the TV or the radio that the county housing authority would be taking applications for Section 8 housing. I got on-line and checked out the questions we were going to be asked. I had the answers down and was ready to make our call. It was going to be tight; the housing authority was taking 500 calls on a Saturday and 500 calls on a Sunday. Once the 500 calls were reached, on either day, they closed the cattle call. Then on that Saturday I began calling. I so love redial. I made it in, answered the questions and was given a confirmation number. Now it was a matter of waiting.

At the end of July 2010, we needed to find somewhere else to live. Not having a place to go, we slept in the truck for one night. Nope, this was not going to work. On top of that, in our tiredness, we never heard the raccoons in the back of the truck tearing into the bag of cat food and pooping all over the place. What is it with all this pooping?

From having worked at the newspaper, I was aware of a homeless shelter in SLO-town. We drove into town and went to the shelter. It was at the right time as they were open. We were assigned a case manager. She was a dynamo. She had everyone on speed dial and if she didn’t know an answer, she knew someone who did.

During this time, Michael became sick from kidney stones. He was in the hospital for a week. Because the stones had blocked the tubing for his urination the toxins built up in his blood and he became septic. This was not a fun time but we got through it.

It was hard going into the shelter at night because we had to leave Bailey and Max in the cab of the truck. We tarped the back of the truck; and, said prayers that no one would bother our belongings or the cats. Our prayers were answered.

Living in a homeless shelter is what I think living in a large dysfunctional family would be like. Thank heavens for my medications to keep me calm and the tools of the Al-Anon program. I would get my dinner and sit with friends to eat. Next I would go get myself cleaned up; nothing like reliving the high school locker room experience. Then I would go sit on my bunk and listen to music from my portable CD player that Michael got me the year before and I would journal. I just stayed out of the way and let life take its course.

Also during this time, Max began showing signs of kidney failure. After many trips to the vet and prescribed medications, Max was not getting better. We so worried about him. I am glad he had Bailey in the cab to keep him company. Finally, we had to make that very hard decision to send Max over the rainbow bridge. Just thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes. Max, our little aloof, feline; who was a gentle cat and did he love his bananas and other fruit. We said our goodbyes and he went to sleep.

After Michael was discharged from the hospital, our case manager had arranged two meetings for us. One was for the Section 8 program and the second was to meet with our current landlord. We were shaking our heads and wondering what was happening. We had not filled out any paperwork. We had not made any phone calls. And yet, the world was shifting course for us.

Thanks to Michael being a Vietnam vet and me being disabled, we were able to get into a two bedroom apartment, since I had my prescription for a fur child; there wasn’t a problem with having Bailey. Yea!!!! We were able to live in the town we wanted. We were within walking distance of the library, the post office, the pet store, the hardware store and the grocery store. Life just doesn’t get any better than this.

We love our neighbors. We are having more contact with them than any other residence we have lived in. I have a small back patio. I have a postage stamp-sized piece of earth which I am growing tomatoes and other flowers, I have potted plants even and I have not killed anything all season. My neighbors have been good to me with sharing of cuttings, pots and other things for gardening. I also have a hummingbird feeder, I put out bread crumbs, and I have a suet feeder that the blue jays have taken over.

With all the bird activity, I have created cat TV for Bailey. When the blue jays are talking to the neighborhood, Bailey crouches down in front of the slider and chatters back at them or he will sit in his chair and just watch.

Life is good. We may not have all the money in the world but we are happy.

Mz. Em

Currently Reading:

“Cry Wolf” – Tami Hoag


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