Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Sunday, March 23, 2014


I walked into my knitting group on Friday at the library and found it taken over by children.  Until this last Friday the group leader and myself have been the youngest members of the group but on Friday we were visited by a woman and 4 of her 6 children.  At first glance I could tell that the woman was a fundamentalist Christian and that her children were home-schooled, ask me how I know that?  Without a lengthy and person anecdote lets just say that I have some experience in this arena.

At first I wanted to leave - I have no time for religious zealots that thumb their nose at public schools, force their children to dress strangely and teach their children to be probably some of the most judgemental on the planet by hammering it home to them to base everyone they meet on outward appearance only.  Again, without having to insert a lengthy and personal anecdote on how to filter through the righteous and the non-righteous based on whether or not they have on nail polish or have earrings, this is something I know a lot about.  I always like to preface conversations with "I tend to be the most judgemental person I know" but I'll save that story for another post.  I felt irritated that my knitting group had been overrun by these people, didn't they have other fundamentalist groups they could knit with?  But as I had not been to my knitting group in over a month and I missed this fun I decided to stay and sat down to knit with my friends Holly and Nancy.  And that is how I came to also sit by a young man of about 10 and I turned and said hello.

What a treat to discover that this boy was very pleasant and outgoing.  Not the tongue tied awkwardness that usually accompanies home-schooled fundamentalist kids that are not supposed to brush shoulders with sinners or that quite honestly don't have the social skills needed to make friends outside of their guarded religious boundaries.  We started to chatting and by the end of the two hours of knitting he had really started to pick up casting on and knitting.  His mother sat on the other side of the table and not once did she give me the "eye" or shoo her kids away from the lady with the arm tattoo, nose ring and black nail polish.  And when the knitting class was over he thanked me warmly and left.  And I believed him.

And about 2 minutes later I felt a tap on my arm and he was back and he said, "did you say your name was Miss Joy?  I'll see you in 2 weeks Miss Joy so you can help me some more" and I smiled and said that sounded good.  And I realized that I really need to do something about being so judgemental.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Winter Blues

I have the winter blues.  It is March and people are posting pictures of the beach, flip flops, shorts and sunshine.  We are expecting freezing rain today and tomorrow and everytime we have a day with warm weather it is followed up by 4 or 5 of very cold temperatures.  And in keeping with the odd weather patterns in North Carolina my youngest child has a spring cold that is the result of all the germs passed around at school by snotty first graders.

My mother-in-law is here visiting and she has brought a ray of sunshine with her as well as a 6 month supply of extra sour sourdough bread from Bordenave's in San Rafael as well as Raymonds from her local Molly Stones Supermarket.  I have it inventoried and packaged in the freezer and ready to be pulled out and made into toast, french toast, croutons and garlic bread.  I'm not sure what makes San Francisco sourdough bread the best in the world but it is.

Yesterday in protest to the terrible weather and the cold we loaded up the kids, snotty ones too and got our toes painted and decorated and scrubbed and loofa'd in preparation for flip flop weather even if it never happens.  I picked "Big Apple Red" because I needed a pick me up until the sun decides to stay out permanently. 

And today we will make Irish soda bread and stay inside, warm and dry.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

3 Nipples

And now to the bizarre, the macabre, the wild, the scandalous and the outrageous.  I met a lady the other day, no names because that would not be nice, who recently had a baby and is nursing.

She told me she has 3 nipples to which I told her to stop lying, it was not true.  She pulled her shirt down and showed me, it is under her arm and when her milk lets down she drips milk out of her 3rd nipple.  I saw it myself otherwise I would not have believed it. 

And when her milk comes in, it makes it hard and uncomfortable for her to put her arm down against her body.

Carry on.

Eating Disorder

We got this puppy about a month after moving here.  I personally feel like I rescued her from a life of dog fighting, breeding, worms, puppy prison, missed meals, doggy abuse, cold weather and more.  Anyway she is now a year and a half and overall a very cute and smart dog.  I always say that she is smarter at a year than Sally is at twelve years but that is because she has thirty five dog breeds in her and he only has one.  And she is a great puppy the only bad thing is that she is food crazy.  She can eat and eat and eat.  When she was really little she would pass out eating her food because she would stuff all her food into her mouth and it would catch in her throat and she would retch and gag because she wanted so badly to eat but she couldn't breathe.

About a year ago I came home and my beautiful ficus plant had no leaves on it.  Not a single one.  They were all gone - it was like the poltergeist of houseplants had sucked every single leaf off the plant and ate everything down to the stem and left nothing behind.  I found no leaves on the carpet no leaves on the floor and nothing that would indicate where the leaves had gone.  They were just gone and only a stem left.  It was really odd.  Marcko was lethargic for the rest of the day but then she bounced back and was fine.  I wondered if she had eaten them but I found no evidence.

Today I came out of my bedroom where I had been working on the computer to take a break and to vacuum the living room (did you get that?  a break in my day involves vacuuming the living room) and the avocado tree that I had started from seed and that was now 3 feet tall with big lush leaves (maybe 6 or 8) was shredded.  Not a single leaf anywhere and Marcko was laying in her crate with a very guilty and sick to her stomach look on her face if dogs can have sick to their stomach looks on their little furry faces.

I can't be mad at her - I should have put the avocado tree somewhere else like up on a high shelf since I know that she likes socks, squinkies, zinkies, erasers, pens, pencils, paper, stuffed animals, glasses, houseplants, dirt and other things besides food.  I'm tempted to send her to the Betty Ford Center but I don't think they accept dogs.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Gabe bought me a tablet for Christmas a year and 2 months ago.  I didn't really like it at first and I thought how interesting that he bought a tablet for me that was really a present for himself in disguise but after moving to Pittsboro and living in the woods I came to love that tablet like a child.  I caressed it, I talked to it, I nurtured it, I slept next to it, it was the first thing I saw in the morning and the last thing I saw at night.  I also used it all the time. 

Then we got a treadmill.  And I started using the treadmill and I dropped the tablet while on the treadmill and broke it.  It probably had something to do with my clumsiness or my agility, I'm not sure which.  But it is broken and cannot be fixed because we already tried.

I have mourned its loss now for 2 months but cannot bring myself to buy another one.  I wonder why?  One more chapter in my love/hate relationship with technology.


Every year around this time I try to write something in memory of my sister and the time she is serving in a medium security facility in Oregon.  I use the month of March as Angela month and I dedicate a lot of my time and energy to her and working on behalf of her and toward her release at some point in the future.  And if there is nothing to do toward helping her I try to write her her more and write about her more and focus a lot of my time and energy on her and her cause.  I believe in her and I believe in her being able to serve her time and make it out of that hideous place called prison.

I have a lot of happiness this year because in June she reaches her half way mark which means she crests the hill and starts down the other side which is the last half of her sojourn.  And while it may seem like a lot of time to be away and locked up and discarded by society, friends and family, the truth is that the second half of anything is always faster than the first. 

When she first went to prison I remember her calling after about a year and a half and sobbing uncontrollably because her cellmate or "cellie" had told her point blank that eventually everyone would stop writing and calling and sending books and money and that she would be alone.  She told her that it was just too hard for people to remember to stop to take the time because of where she was and what she had done.  Of course at that time my sister had a huge outpouring of letters, cards, books from and many people who had her on their thoughts and minds. 

But it has been 8 years, 8 long years.  And even the best intentioned of friends and family find it hard to continue communication when faced with 8 more of the same exhausting situation. And even though we have email now and can email her and even though she can still call out and even though we can also have face to face conversations that cost $18 for a half hour visit, she gets very little mail and even less email.  She has had to harden her emotions to accept that what her cellie told her was true - people did forget or move on.  It isn't that they didn't care about her, they just had to pay the mortgage and they had to replace the sink in the bathroom and they had to take the kids skiing and there was that trip to so-and-so's graduation and the pedicure and pictures to upload to Instagram and the Oscars were on and there was never enough time to write.

And the amazing thing is that she is not bitter or angry at those that have forgotten her.  She realizes that life moves on, and that people get busy and that she is not going anywhere.  And she has a very healthy approach to even immediate family that cannot be bothered to give her any time or energy.  She has learned how to forgive.  I only hope that we as a society can learn to forgive her in the next 8 years so that once she gets out she can move on with her life, just like we've moved on without hers.