There is a naturalized Romanian-born handyman who works for me. Well, technically he works at my house, and my brother chose him and pays him. He has been here now about half his life, arriving at the age of 26. He has done everything from hang new doors and screen doors, to plumbing repairs, to replace 65 year old sheetrock, paint, rewire the house, and redo my bathroom. I like him, but he also annoys the crap out of me.
He's a Nazi at heart, loves everything German, and votes Republican. He's racist, sexist, and his work habits are completely unprofessional. On his asset list is that the work itself is excellent. I have told him repeatedly that no self-respecting Republican would continue his employment. Why? he shows up whenever he wants, puts his World Soccer Cup qualifying games, football games, basketball games, and general farting around ahead of his work. We started the bathroom tear-down in mid-July of last year, and there is at least another week's work to be done. He called yesterday and said he would be here at 7 pm and work until about 10.. He showed up at 7:40 pm, let around 9:41. Put on a second coat of paint, bitching about the brand the whole time. It dries too quickly. You see we chose the brand of paint, because we could get it for $20/gallon.
He shows up later and later every day he comes. Used to come about three and stay until about 8 pm. Then it was 5 and stay until about 10. Lately, he has been showing up at 6 or 7 and staying until 1 or 2 am. When we said something about it, he said "IF I come then you're asleep, and I have to wait 30 minutes to get into the house." Well if you would call and say you were on your way, we would be up. Yes, we often have to take naps, because we get up and get going about 11 am AT THE LATEST, and by 3 or 4 pm, we are tired. I have lupus. My husband has heart disease..
This whole project started for two reasons. First, the bathroom cabinetry, was falling apart, not surprising after 65 years, assorted plumbing leaks.over the years, and being cheap plywood to begin with. The second reason was needing to make it more handicapped friendly.
He started the project with the notion that he was designing it. I would tell him what I wanted, and he would argue that I didn't want that. I had found some cobalt blue I wanted. He shows up with some mottled light blue/dark blue/white/gray crap that cost more then what I had chosen. We argued about that. I ended up giving in because I was tired of arguing. I hate it. Totally destroys the look I wanted, which was the effect of rising up out of the ocean into the sky.
I had bought the cabinetry at IKEA on sale. Everything, sink cabinet, tall cabinet, two mirrored medicine chests, additional sink cabinet I planned to use as a vanity, sink for around $300. He bitched about the sink, because the hole for the faucet was on the side. "Who buys a sink like this? It's too small and the hole is in the wrong place. What do you know about plumbing?" I told him that THIS sink puts the faucet on the toilet side of the sink, which is handy for me. "Nah, nah, you don't need the faucet over there." I asked him point blank if he was handicapped, what did he know about being handicapped? The other thing I liked about that cabinet and sink was that it was only 10" deep, which would give us more maneuvering room. A week or two later, he comes in and announces he has now seen a few sinks like mine. Seems they are the newest thing in Europe. DUH! Guess I know something after all.
Then I decided that instead of just widening the doorway, I would have no doorway. "You gotta have a door!" I said master baths in many of the newer homes were not closed off. He argued with me about that, until I showed him a few photos on the web. Comes in a week or so later "Heh, I talked to one of my friends back in Europe. He says they are building bathrooms like that over there now." That of course made it ok, because anything European is good. America sucks.
He argued with me about the grab bars. I wanted 9" at the shower entrance. He thought I should have 18". I didn't want the shower half filled with grab bars, which would get in the way. So he goes out and buys 18" for those places, and where I wanted an 18" on the back wall, he buys a 24" one. The ones I wanted cost about $40, and he spent almost $80. Then I said I wanted a shower slider bar, and I showed him AN EXAMPLE of the KIND of thing I wanted. It happened to be a Hansgrohe model. So he goes and tells my brother I want a $500 shower system, and I get this angry phone call about "why do you always want the top model?" When he calmed down, I explained that I didn't mean I wanted THAT shower, THAT brand, I wanted a set up LIKE that, with the slide bar. Since I had shown that picture, I had found one for about $60 that provided the same facility. I also wanted to put shower mounts on the back slider bar and the one at the left side of the entrance. "They don't make those," says my know it all handyman. So I showed him online that they were available from the local home improvements store. "Oh those are cheap plastic. You don't want those!"
So it comes time to put an edge on the tile. I had chosen from the two he brought me the silver one, in keeping with the brushed nickel trim and bath fixtures. So what does he show up with the day he's going to lay tile? Cheap white plastic. "The other costs five times as much." he says. Now he starts worrying about cost. Heck, if he had gotten the grab bars I wanted, he'd have had the money for that!
When he walks in the door he yells "Obama, Obama." He hates Obama, has often expressed the hope that someone will "shoot the son of a bitch n*****." If we have the television on, he talks over it. God forbid we are watching Rachel Maddow "that ugly stupid lesbian bitch." Yeah, she has a BA from Stanford, and a PhD in Political Science from Oxford, where she was a Rhodes scholar. You have a Romanian high school degree and she's stupid. Riiiiiight.
Last night he was on a tear about Beyonce and her husband being in Cuba, that "commie nation." I guess he isn't incensed about the scientists visiting Cuba to study the wildlife in the Zapata area, or the state department officials who visit the Cuban culture. Beyonce and her husband visited Cuban children in art and dance schools, visited a World Heritage site, and dined in a privately owned restaurant, an innovation in Cuba. Then he bitched that she lip-synced the National Anthem at Obama's inauguration. My response is a yawn. I'm guessing Beyonce and Jay-Z will change Cubans much more than Cuba will change them. Ironic, too that since Cuba modified their travel prohibitions to the US recently, Cuban "commies"can visit the US more easily than Americans can visit Cuba, despite our greater freedoms.
He asked my husband "Has she EVER cooked for you?" He said "Of course, when she was younger and healthier." in an amazed tone of voice. "She's a good cook, but she just can't do it any more." Last night, I told this handyman that when Ron and I finished working in the side yard last evening, he had to bring the car around because I could not walk the 100' to the door. The idiot says to me, after having seen me have trouble standing up at least 100 times, "Maybe you need to get more exercise." I said "The doctor thinks I need 2 knees replacements and 2 hip replacements. The only kind of exercise I can do is swimming. Do you see a pool here?" He knows that sometimes I require a wheelchair. So he says, "I don't understand why you can't walk more." I said "My disease attacks the cartilege in my joints. It hurts me to walk sometimes, really really hurts, because the bones are grinding on the bones." He asks how my muscles attach then. I said "It's the cartilage cushion inside the joints, between the top of my leg bone and the hip socket. My God, I can lay down to sleep on my side and wake up with a dislocated shoulder!"
He hates Jewish people, Hispanics, Blacks, and women unless he finds them sexually attractive (and purty he ain't). He told me that despite my college degree, two Master's programs and PhD program, I don't know anything because I "haven't worked in so long." Totally overlooking the idea that I can still READ about anything and everything I ever studied, and do. I guess my brother and sister-in-law will suddenly become stupid on their way home from the office on their last days before retiring!
We said he has no respect for us, and he said "I never said that." We said "You didn't have to SAY it. You show it in everything you do and everything you do say."
What puzzles me is why this atheist man who believes abortion is nobody's business but the woman's, her doctor, and the man (if he is involved in her life meaningfully), believes nobody needs an assault weapon and gun owners should be registered and screened for mental illness, and talks about how stupid Americans are, and admits he is here only because Germany wouldn't let him in, votes Republican. It's not like he has money, either. He's pretty much living hand to mouth, and as far as I know, my brother and his wife are his only clients. He respects money and people who make a lot of it. He does not respect us. He orders my husband to clean the toilet before he returns it to the bathroom. Now, the toilet should have been cleaned and protected when it was removed. In stead he put out the back window dirty beneath a tree 9 months ago. He throws stuff out the bathroom window, on the street side of the house, has trash all over the front porch. Not one single job he has done here has been truly completed. From the front door needing one of those things that keep it from slamming, to the unpainted brace in the other bathroom (needed he said in case I leaned on it, but really, to support the counter top he chose and put on it) to no latch or handle on the back door screen (which means I cannot open from the outside myself because my arthritic fingers can't grasp the narrow ledge to pull it open.)
Ironically, I know Mexican undocumented immigrants who could have done the bathroom just as well,and had it done in 3 weeks tops, charged less, and would not have argued with me about it all. My bathroom, whatever you want, you are the boss. It's my house. Even more ironically, there is something lovable about him, despite his emotional maturity of about 13. I cannot for the life of me figure out what it is. Except maybe that there's something kind of like a puppy who always wants to be loved My sister-in-law joked that it was almost over, and I could get my Girl Scout badge in Surviving M. She said she has 5 of them.
If you have been reading my blog, or any of my pages, or my Facebook page, you know that I have SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythmatosis). What you may not realize is that this is primarily "a woman's disease," as 90% of the patients are women. Most of them are 15 -45, the childbearing years. For some enlightening information about pregnancy and lupus, please read this study in Japan about pregnancy outcomes and lupus .
Women of color, across the board have higher rates than white women. I once had a former Texas benefits evaluator tell me that "lupus is a made up disease by people who are too lazy to work." To me, it was clear he was referring to Black women. Black women have higher death rates from breast and cervical cancer, higher rates of STD's and teen pregnancies, higher infant mortanlity. SOURCE: Debunking the myth. Black women, Hispanic women, Native American women all have higher rates of lupus. Black women have more severe outcomes more often. Poor women without health insurance have a harder time getting the help they need to treat lupus. SOURCE: Lupus Fact sheet
For some information about lupus symptoms in general, please read this article about two lupus patients.
My diagnosis was originally made by a gynecologist to whom I had gone for a simple pap smear. At the time, I had health insurance. I no longer have health insurance, and my best option for pap smears is Planned Parenthood. Read one woman's story about not affording to go anywhere but Planned Parenthood.
Please make yourself aware of two FACTS:
1. NOT ONE TAXPAYER DOLLAR GOES TO ABORTION. That has been prohibited since the 1970s.
2. Abortions are only 3% of their services FACT SHEET HERE
Finally, let's talk about SOCIAL SECURITY and Disability and Social Security Supplemental Income. I worked from age 15 until about 40. I've been fighting to get SSDI so I can get Medicare to cover my lupus medications. First they told me I ought to be able to work (in 1995) because I am educated. Know many employers who want employees who fall asleep on the job, or who miss work frequently because they cannot drag themselves out of bed and stay awake long enough to bathe, dress, and get to work? Or who catch the flu and the miss weeks because the immunosuppressant drugs they take for lupus don't fight the flu well and leave them with bronchitism pneumonia and a lupus flare in which their joints swell and cause agonizing pain? If so, please send those employers my way! I'd love to work, use my brain again for pay. Of course, it has to be low stress and pretty free of deadlines, because stress makes my lupus worse, and I never know which day I'm going to wake up and be unable to stay awake -- which makes it difficult to meet those deadlines. See this blog for another person's perspective.
The next time I applied for SSI/SSDI they told me my $3000+ savings account made me ineligible for SSI and I no longer had enough qualifying quarters for SSDI. I appealled and they told me I wasn't disabled! NOIT DISABLED? I cannot shop without either my husband pushing me in the wheelchair or an electric cart. Some days my knees hurt so badly the 8' from my bed to the toilet has me in tears. I cannot stand in lines for more than 30 seconds without the knees and hips begging me to sit down. That's not disabled?
Now their story is that we cannot prove I was disabled WHILE I STILL HAD ENOUGH QUALIFYING QUARTERS. THEY have the 1995 records with the doctors names, but OOPS I can no longer get those records because the doctors who made the disagnosis, and who treated me, destroyed the records 10 years after my last visit. I'm SURE those records are in the SS records; they just demand that I produce them, knowing I can't.
So now I'm still 5 years too young for SS and Medicare. What if they raise the retirement age? First how will we tap into our retirement accounts without penalty to pay for medical expenses? I will NEVER see my SS money that I paid into the system all those years I worked (sometimes at 2-3 jobs at a time!). I WILL NOT LIVE LONG ENOUGH!
Let me repeat that I WILL NOT LIVE LONG ENOUGH! I can no longer take Methotrexate because my platelet levels drop too low and I am in danger of bleeding to death internally. The prednisone I have been on for over a year now will, according to my rheumatologist "take five years off your life." It also induced Type II diabetes, which is implicated in heart disease, even if I didn't have the extra clotting factor from lupus. The Hydorxychloroquine (Plaquanil) no longer controls the disease by itself. I also cannot take aspirin, NSAIDs like ibuprofen. So I take ginger and turmeric for the constant pain. Some days it works, some days it doesn't work so well. I need Ben Lysta, according to my rheumatologist, but she's not going to administer it. It's about $2000-$3000 a pop. I think it's once a month. I tried to get onto a drug trial, but the diagnoses (both of which I think are wrong) the county hospital gave me of non-alcoholic cirrhosis and heart failure keep me out of the trial. I need a liver biopsy to rule out the cirrhosis, and an echocarcdogram for the heart failure.
My only hope is Obama's health care plan, because I could not be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. If I cannot afford the private health insurance or the high risk pool insurance, I could, as I understand it, get Medicare without having to be on SS, SSI, or SSDI. So think twice before you pull the lever for someone who wants to repeal Obamacare; that lever pull will be a death sentence for me and many others with my illness or others like it. Of course, it you want to be a good, compassionate Christian, you can send me money at PayPal to help with my medical expenses. Leave a comment on this website and I'll send you my email. They are. or would, if I were seeing the doctors I need to see and taking the meds I need to take run from $3000 in a good year for routine meds and visits and tests to upwards of $24,000 if I had to be hospitalized. My brother is currently supporting us and paying our medical expenses. He's nearing retirement age. He spent years paying for our mother's needs because her SS didn't cover the utilities, food, out of pocket medical expenses. Now he has us, and his own family.
SO please look into your heart and see if you want to pull my plug by voting to kill "Obamacare
Don't get me wrong. Politicians from both parties say idiot things. The reason I'll be talking about Republicans today is that the Republicans are the only party with a Presidential primary this go round, and we are bombarded almost daily with their idiot comments.
The first idiot thing I want to mention is Virginia State Delegate Bob Marshall (R) saying that disabled children are "punishment from God" for earlier abortion(s) by the mother. First, it's pretty clear that Marshall knows NOTHING about the causes of birth defects and disabilities. Many birth defects are in fact, GENETIC, caused by an error in the DNA. Many others, if they are punishment for anything, are the result of drug or alcohol use use during pregnancy or getting the measles! Down's Syndrome is related to the aging of the parents and the physical decaying of their components of the embryo (egg and sperm). Some are caused by combinations of things, including lack of proper pre-natal nutrition, and mother 17 or younger. Still others have not been definitively assigned a cause.
Second, Marshall throws out a statement saying the number of disabled children born subsequent to an earlier abortion has risen "dramatically." Since what year? What is his source of data for this allegation? How does he know the mothers of the disabled children had earlier abortions? I don't know of any study which has asked motehrs of disabled children if they had earlier abortions nor of a study that follows women who obtain abortions to their next pregnancy to see if that child is disabled. If such exists, Marshall should be able to provide the source, and indeed, a responsible user of statistical data would supply the source of data for such an allegation. If there WERE such studies, wouldn't they violate the women's privacy rights? OK possibly someone has conducted such a study on women WILLING to participate. The question then becomes how much self-selection warps the data. What are the odds a woman who doesn't want to tell anyone about her abortion(s) who has a disabled child would participate? And what are the odds women who had an abortion but don't have disabled children would be included, or participate if they were somehow invited to participate As it is, it appears that Marshal is either practicing MSU (Making S..T Up) or he fails to comprehend the basics regarding unbiased research design and statistical analysis, or both. Why would any voter accept this kind of assertion, give no data to back it up? Unless they are intellectually or educationally disabled themselves? (If you suspect you don't understand statistics, or you just don't trust them, please read my "Liars, D***d liars, and Statisticians essay under my The Language of Math page. If that doesn't help, contact me directly and I'll become a Statistics Instructor just for you. :) I did that for years and published in international Statistical journals.
The second idiot thing I wish to discuss is Rick Santorum's call for higher birth rates and his assertion that cjhildren are our greatest resource and create wealth. Is he attributing the US's post WWII growth with the baby boom? More babies means more GDP? Apparently Rick leaps his logic right over the devastated European economies who needed American goods to rebuild, as well as over the shuttered American factories which don't make anything any more. In Research Methodology, this is called confusion of correlation with causality. The classic example is the old joke about "100% of people who smoke marijuana drank milk as infants, therefore drinking milk as a baby must CAUSE marijuana use." Now quit laughing like you just inhaled a doobie! ;) Just because two things happen in order does not mean one causes the other. Let's take a look at some US household sizes over time here. The average US household size has been falling since 1790, even through the Baby Boom. The Baby Boom was also partially an artifact in changes in the timing of births, caused by the war. On one hand, you had couples rushing to have a baby before he left, unmarried women giving birth to children conceived when their intendeds left before the couple could get married, and after the war, couples separated for several years rushing to make up for lost time. Moreover, there may be a causality working in the opposite direction. The prosperity of post-WWII America, combined with the loss of so many American men in the 18-35 age range (prime childbearing years) may have encouraged couples to have more children than they would have without that prosperity. The GI bill made it easier to buy a home and go to college. Jobs, and salaries were plentiful, especially in the eyes of new young parents who had grown up during the Depression when large families often found putting food on the table difficult. Rick Santorum seems to be unaware that the world has changed: unaware of the unemployment rate compared to those during the Baby Boom, unaware of the falling median income, the larger percentage of families living at or near the poverty level, and the larger number of older Americans who will fall into poverty from being laid off so long that they are now unemployable according to many human resources people. Those with children are the fortunate ones, as the children may be employed and making enough to help their parents. If nothing else, they may combine their households, which is happening more and more now. Those without children may find themselves at the bottom of a deep deep pit from which the only escape is death. Just who is going to profit from having more children? Since the Industrial Revolution, when the added hands on the farm weren't a benefit in the city, groups have risen on the economic ladder by having fewer children, not more. China is perhaps the most extreme example, with India not far behind. These are rising economic stars which many economists expect to eclipse the US in the next 25 years. Both have instituted compulsory birth control policies. China opted for mandatory abortion if the couple did not use birth control to limit the family size to 1 child. India opted for encouraging and providing free birth control pills and devices. Both encourage rigorous education in math and science, for men and women. Historically, female education has been the single greatest predictor of falling family size and increased household wealth. I know, I'm not providing the data to back up these statements. However, I have studied these issues since I took my first demography class in 1972 or 3. I encourage you to learn to find these statistics. They are readily available online, easily searchable using the terms I have used here. You will find statistics to support what I have said. You will not find any credible, unbiased design studies to support Santorum, or Marshal. If you do, I'll eat this post. I'll also write a blog entry called "Idiot things Bloggers say and do." Go for it!
This has been a DAY! When I say that, you should understand that it was full and somewhat maddening. It was, however, a gorgeous fall day in Houston! The cooler weather is simply DIVINE...as in a real gift from God to a city that baked, parched, and nervously watched fires for so long. As the sun was setting, I was preparing my front planter box for the beets, carrots and green onions I'm planting in it. Half the box is done..just finishing up the rest. From the pine across the street came the call of what I'm pretty sure was a Great Horned Owl. Peace flooded back into my veins, after having been disrupted earlier in the day by two separate events.
The second of these, which I shall discuss first, involved walking out to hear my neighbor telling my husband that the heavy trash he put out today, thinking it would be picked up tomorrow morning, needed to be removed from the curb "or you might get a ticket." Last month, my husband had put this stuff out, only to discover when the truck came around that last month was the "limbs and yard waste only" heavy trash day. So he hauled the stuff back inside our yard. After decades of living across the side street from this neighbor and his wife, I was immediately suspicious that he had already called the city to complain about this trash. Never have I met a more O-C, anal retentive, appearance means everything, house proud couple in my life. Mind you, they don't like government interfering in their lives, but they're perfect (just ask them), yet they are the first to call the city government when a neighbor offends their sense of neatness of property. What I wanted to say to him was "Oh, so you've called them and filed a complaint already, have you?" I KNOW he has, and that he redeems himself by "looking nice" and "warning" us that we could be ticketed. It makes him "look nice," he thinks.
This I know; they used to regularly call the city and have my widowed mother ticketed when they were first married. Always, they would "warn" us. Now heavy trash for our house can be easily seen ONLY by this couple. The two houses behind mine and his are screened from seeing the "unsightly" pile by a fence on my side of the street and thick plantings on his. So I know it's he who wants to not look at it. Granted, someone might drive by and be so enraged that they actually remember to call when they get home, but what are the odds? After all, the traffic on that street even at rush hour is maybe one car an hour. This month, I fully admit that we got the wrong Thursday...it's the 4th not the 3rd like we thought. What else is true, is that we are allowed to put heavy trash on the Friday BEFORE our scheduled pickup...which would be the day after tomorrow. Did I say "anal?" What the heck is the big deal about TWO days early? DID I say "anal?"
When he went home, I started working on my planter box, and then I got so mad, I went around to the back gate and started struggling with the top mattress on the pile to get all the stuff inside my fence. I got the mattress off the pile and down into the ditch (no culvert or driveway here). When I tried to roll it over to get it up the slope, I folded it and then tried to flip the folded package. The mattress sprang up and hit me in the face, leaving me flailing around trying not to fall backwards into the ditch. Please don't ask me why I tried this same thing twice more before giving up. I think I thought I should be able to make it work! If I were 28 and not dealing with active lupus, I'm sure I could have! However, I realized on the third try I was defining "insanity."
So I called my husband's name and "help" our bedroom being at the back of the house. I figured he could hear me. From down the street , toward my "behind" neighbor's house, a man answered me.
"Who are you calling? What do you need help with?" I could not see him because of the pecan tree foliage.
"I was calling my husband to help me with this stuff." I looked in the direction of the voice, and saw a man who looked like a street person, riding up on a bicycle, a paper bag with a beer can in his hand.
"What's his name? Where is he?" he asks. I told him the name and said that he should be inside this back bedroom, pointing as I answered. I thought perhaps this guy would cycle up there and knock on the window and and tell my husband.
"What are you doing trying to move this stuff, ma'am? Let me do that for you." He got off his bike, and grabbed the mattress and WHOOSH inside the fence it went. Then he spryly stepped back to the pile and grabbed the next item. By the time he got to the third one, my husband came sauntering out. Together they moved the rest of the large heavy furniture inside the fence. I moved the cushions and a lightweight broken chair. It took maybe 5 minutes from the moment the man had called out to me. He kept telling me "Don't worry about those, ma'am, you'll wind yourself."
I asked my husband if we still had any of the beers he'd bought for the carpenter my brother had hired to do some work around the house before my mother died last November. He went inside to get them, and I chatted with this fellow. He used to live two streets over, but then lost his job. His mother had died and he had no family, working as a maintenance man in a nearby apartment complex, and odd job man for some other people in the neighborhood. I asked if he was living rough, and he said he was living at a local motel which he named, and which I know to be cheap and about 4 miles away. I learned he was 10 years younger than I am, where he went to junior high and high school. He's of German heritage and grew up here in Houston. I told him his eyes reminded me of my mother's father, whom I had adored and who died just after we moved to this house in 1957.
My husband came out with two beers for him, and he protested that wasn't necessary. I told him "We can't drink them, and the guy we bought them for quit drinking, and this is the only thing I've got to thank you with." Now I know many would think it was wrong of me to give beer to someone who possibly is an alcoholic. I would think so myself most of the time. What I have learned however, are two things. One, each person has the right to their own vices, and you cannot make them choose not to indulge in them. Second, given the circumstances of his life, those two Guinness dark beers might be one of the few pleasures he has in life. Maybe I learned something else too. Some people who don't look so savory and whose lifestyle might be objectionable to others have wonderful hearts and generous souls. I think I knew that already, but it certainly struck me that my neighbor merely "looked" kind and wasn't, and this stranger opened his heart to help someone without asking any thing in return.
"No need for that," he said
"You were a blessing when I needed one," I said "This is my way of thanking you."
"And this is your thank you!" he said, and smiled, lighting up those those pale ice blue eyes with the glow of heaven. I wonder, might Jesus not return as someone like this? A down and out person living day to day, or a welfare mother who made "bad choices?" Or would Jesus come back as someone who looked and lived like my neighbor -- always neat and tidy but trying to control the behaviors of others? When the Bible talks about "denying Jesus" could it be talking bout passing by someone like my angel of today as "unsavory?"
Having taken so much time and space writing this, I will save the other story for another post. Anyway, I'm hongree! Thanks for reading this. I'll be interested to see if anyone leaves any comments or fills out the form on my homepage.