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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Two Years

And one week. I totally missed my Blogiversary. I was thinking I started in October 2005 but nope, my first official post was on September 24, 2005. I had two visitors; one was Jen C., a former writer for Parent Dish, who insisted I start a blog and set it up for me. She hasn't been "anonymous" for some time now and she's still up there on my sidebar as a co-administrator (along with several other people who have bailed me out everytime I painted myself into a corner). Hi and hugs to Angela, Andrea, Alice, and Tim.

Thanks as well to all my other visitors who have either emailed helpful hints or have stepped up and quietly fixed some of my glitches. Too many to name but you know who you are.

And to all of you who've supported me over the last couple of years. You've hung in with me through the good times and the not so good. This blog and yours have been lifelines for me.

I think my counter said 1,097 posts. Certainly not one a day but not too bad. I'm not obsessed with my stat counter but I checked just now and it's a little over 66,000. Wow!! I do look at it once in a while because I'm interested in the number of countries and a few other things. Of course many of those hits are from folks who are looking for something else. Still, I have many friends out there. I've met a few of you, I've spoken to others, and the rest? I feel as if I know every one.

Merle had a photo on her blog the other day. She and 3 of her blogging buddies had gotten together in Australia. I recognized all of them and, except for living in a different hemisphere, I would have fit right in.

Two months ago, I was thinking about calling it a day on the blog. So much of my writing was about the girls. What could I find to say now that they're living elsewhere? I changed my mind, at least for the time being. I probably won't be posting as often but I'll be here and I'll still be checking up on my friends who live in my computer.

Take care everyone.

P. S.

To Mary K. in Arkansas. Thanks for signing my guestbook. If you feel like it, drop me a comment or an email. I lived in Jonesboro for 8 years and I always perk up when I see a former neighbor and I'm a little curious about you.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Diabetes - Another Update

If you haven't read the post below this, you should. Otherwise you'll be wondering about this one.

As I said to a few of you who've already left comments or emailed, when the going gets tough, the not so tough (that would be me at the moment) heads out to Barnes & Noble for a hot caramel macchiato and a chocolate chip scone with whipped cream. And, of course, some TLC from son Timothy. He took his break while I was there and quickly demonstrated how to do the shots (without the needle of course). It looks much easier than I had envisioned and from what some of you have said it's not too bad.

By the time I came back home, I was feeling much better.

Ray called right before I left. He was relieved the hospital had already phoned so he wouldn't have to try to explain all of it. I was relieved too and was able to tell him about the Monday discharge (if all goes according to plan), the visiting nurse, etc. He hadn't heard that part of it. It was good to hear his voice. He was reassuring me while I was reassuring him.

Anyhow, while I was at B&N, I picked up a couple of mystery novels from the sale table to get me through the weekend. I've done about as much with the house as I can except for minor daily maintenance (how dirty can it get with one person and a very polite cat?). The pictures are hung, the closets (all 2 of them), cupboards, Ray's dresser, and shelves are organized, and I've found places for almost everything.

I even sorted out his tools which I swore I would never do again. How can anyone possibly use 5 or 6 identical claw hammers, one ball peen, and a tack hammer? The only one we'll ever need is the tack hammer. I won't even discuss the screwdrivers, pliers, Allen wrenches, regular wrenches, crescent wrenches, and miscellaneous tools I can't identify but which must serve some purpose, but I can tell from looking at the assortment that we'll have every size except the one Phillips or wrench we need at the moment. It never fails. Too long, too short, too wide, too skinny. We then pick up another cheap set and eventually end up with 40 of them.

And while I'm ranting, why do we need both slot and Phillips? Plus another I don't know the name of but it's funny looking. And of course, in the USA, we have to have both linear and metric. Why can't we join the rest of humanity with our temperatures and measurements?

When he's home and rested, we'll go back through them together. Right now his tools are taking up 4 small toolboxes in the back of the closet; one just for the hammers.

It's feeling much more like home now and will feel even more so when he's back to share it with me.

DIL Melissa (Jim's wife) was working her last day at B&N until after the baby arrives. She's due November 10th and she's been experiencing a little discomfort. Not surprising; she's on her feet all day. I hope she will get some rest while chasing her toddler all over the house.

I'll try to get around to most of you over the weekend. My eyes have been bothering me a little when I stay online too long. Nothing painful but they start closing, even when I don't think I'm sleepy.

Once again, have a good weekend.

Diabetes? Update

To any of you who clicked on and read only the title, I accidentally hit publish instead of save when the phone rang. - again.

The diabetes expert from the hospital just called to tell me that Ray has diabetes and will be on insulin "for a while". How long, I wonder, is for a while? She didn't say. She did say that before they release him, a responsible person has to learn how to do everything involved with his care.

That means giving shots which I've never done in my life but it's never too late to learn. My friend Reno will drive me and Dawn up there on Monday morning and we'll both (at least Dawn and I) learn how to do it. She's been a professional caregiver but has never done it before either.

I think Tim already knows how. I don't even know where the shot goes so I guess my next stop will be online to find out. I do know it will be 4 times a day unless they're talking about the testing.

I also know that many diabetics live alone and do their own maintenance. I went to school with a girl who learned how to do her own shots when she was very young. I'm not sure if they think he can't or what's going on. Not that I can't do it but I think if I had to be stuck several times a day, I'd rather be the one doing the sticking. I also wonder about oral insulin. Oh well, what do I know? I'm sure I'll find out.

The diet shouldn't be a problem. I hope. He'll probably have to give up his occasional Snickers Bar but we don't use much sugar and now that I'm cooking for only two, I can avoid it almost completely.

They have tested for diabetes on every hospital admission here just as they presumably ran all the heart tests each time. How do these things suddenly appear?

I'm trying not to rant but it's hard. He's been chronically ill for years now. They have never been able to pin anything down except the COPD and possibly congestive heart failure.

So now, on top of COPD (lung problems), the bypass, epilepsy (dormant but he takes Dilantin just in case), and whatever else is going on, we now have to deal with diabetes.

And we will. Somehow.

On a brighter note, he called me yesterday afternoon and sounded good. Healthier than he has in some time. He thought they'd release him over the weekend but now he can't come home until we've done the "training". I'll take his clothes in case they're releasing him the same day - I think he has everything except a clean shirt and he may even have that. I'll ask him - I'm sure he'll call me at some point. The clothes he wore to the hospital were clean, I do remember that. When he was admitted, he ate dinner and cleaned up and changed his clothes before we took him in.

I am grateful it's not worse and I know many families have it much harder. I'm trying to be positive but right now I just want to bang my head against the wall or possibly curl up in a ball. It will pass; it always does.

Thanks to all of you who commented on the domestic violence post. It's a little different than what usually shows up here but it's an important issue and one I know quite a bit about.

Have a good weekend and take care everyone.

Update - right after I hit post again.

Five minutes later. The hospital called back. They're arranging for the visiting nurse from Merced as well as a physical therapist when he's released. I feel much better already. They will discharge him, if all goes well, the same day as our training and they'll send him home with a collapsible walker. It may even have a seat.

The wheels are turning quickly and I'm no longer as panicked.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bloggers Against Abuse and Violence

My online friend Sometimes Saintly Nick has asked his readers to "blog against abuse" today. He has his post up, full of images of the many forms abuse and violence can take.

I often write about the news in my small central CA city. The local paper has begun a series of articles about abuse. This is the first of a series and far from the only incident of violence to occur here. We've had far worse and it sickens me.

I've had personal experience with A Woman's Place here. They're wonderful people, working on a shoestring to do what they can and they're making a difference.

I've heard people say "why didn't she just leave"? This woman did everything she was supposed to do. Sometimes it doesn't matter.

(Personal note: Ray is still doing well and has been transferred from the CVICU to a regular bed. I'm hoping he'll call today. I'd call him but don't want to wake him if he's having a chance to rest between needle pokes and medication times.)

From the Merced Sun Star last week:
Reporter Corinne Reilly

Excerpt from a 911 call made to the Merced Police Department, Dec. 4, 1999: "There's somebody at my house that won't leave and he has a gun. He's standing outside and he's trying to get back in. He's breaking the window right now ... His name is Lucio Rivera ... He's trying to open the door. Oh my God. He's in my room.

He's coming in. He's coming in. Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Stop! Lucio, stop! ... Oh my God. He just shot it. He just shot the gun ... (screams, then silence) ... He shot her! He shot her! Oh my God! He shot her!"

Eight years after Elida Rodriguez's ex-husband dragged her from the closet where she hid and shot her in the neck, they still feel the pain at A Woman's Place.

In 1999, Elida and her two-month old daughter sought refuge at a shelter run by the nonprofit, which provides an array of services for victims of domestic violence across Merced County. Though Elida stayed only a few weeks, those who worked with her say they watched her turn from a battered victim into an independent single mother.

The transformation proved to be her fatal mistake.

A month after Elida left A Woman’s Place, the 23-year-old was dead. Her ex-husband, Lucio Rivera, discovered where she was living. On an early December evening in 1999, enraged by her show of grit and strength, he broke into her apartment through an unlocked window. He found Elida crouched in a bedroom closet, pulled her out by her shirt and shot her at close range with a .22-caliber handgun.

“Hold your baby for the last time,” Rivera told Elida, her roommate later testified.

Eight years after her murder, Elida remains a nonprofit’s call to arms.

AN ICON WITH ONE NAME She is widely known to the staff at A Woman’s Place by just her first name, even to those who joined the organization long after Elida’s death. Her photo has appeared on the organization’s brochures. Its Westside shelter is dedicated to her memory. Her case is cited during most new-hire trainings and her murder revised the way A Woman’s Place evaluates risk to victims.

"Elida changed the way we do business," said Diana Almanza, executive director of A Woman’s Place. “She left us with some very important lessons.”

Along with a photo of Elida, Almanza keeps in her office a copy of the 911 tape from the night Elida died. The tape holds the frantic screams of Elida’s then-roommate, Victoria Beltran. It is played whenever Almanza wants to impress upon someone -- a funder, a newspaper reporter, or a new staff member -- the urgency of the nonprofit’s work.

Almanza can recall many news reports about women in this community who have died because of domestic violence. In fact, about 60 percent of female murder victims are killed by their husbands or male partners, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

But Elida is one of only two clients that A Woman’s Place has lost at the hands of an abuser since Almanza started at the organization in 1991. And her death hit close to its heart. "We all remember Elida,” said Susie Bubenchik, public relations director of A Woman’s Place. "Even the staff who never met her.”

A SISTER’S MEMORIES To Lidia Rodriguez, Elida isn't a poster child. She is a sister. “She loved to draw, and she had a really good voice so she was always singing,” said Rodriguez, 28, who works as an aide at Farmdale Elementary School in Merced. “And she loved her baby. She was so excited about buying her clothes and watching her grow up.”

Elida was born in Hollister in 1976 to immigrant parents who came to the United States from Mexico in search of a better life. She was the oldest of three children. Rodriguez recalls her big sister as a responsible child, always more concerned about the rest of the family than about herself. “She always helped me with my math,” said Rodriguez. “She would stay there with me, showing me until I got it. She never got frustrated.”

Elida moved with her family to Dos Palos as a teenager and graduated from Dos Palos High School in 1994. She met Rivera there, but Rodriguez says the two weren’t friends at the time. “They didn’t like each other in high school,” Rodriguez recalled.

Elida moved to Fresno for a short time after high school, where she took classes to become a dental assistant, though she never finished. She eventually returned to Dos Palos, where she began dating Rivera in 1997.

“It was a relatively short relationship, but it was violent right from the start,” said Almanza.

Twice before Elida came to A Woman’s Place, Rivera was criminally charged for abusing her. The second time, Almanza said, Rivera had pulled a gun and smashed Elida in the face with it because she couldn’t quiet their baby as the family drove to a welfare appointment. “He was ruthless,” said Almanza.

The couple eventually married, though Rodriguez says there was no big wedding or celebration. According to news reports published in the days after Elida’s death, Rivera’s relatives said they didn’t know he’d been married.

Before she died, Elida had filed for divorce. “I think that was the real trigger for him,” said Almanza. “It was the ultimate stand for her independence, and he responded with the ultimate punishment.”

A BATTERED WOMAN SEEKS SHELTER Elida came to A Woman’s Place with her baby, Jasmine, in October 1999. She stayed at an emergency safehouse run by the organization for about a month. She received counseling for the abuse she’d endured and obtained a restraining order against Rivera.

“She made a lot of progress in a very short time,” recalled Almanza. Elida decided she’d go back to school. She hoped someday to become a nurse. While living at the safehouse, Elida kept a journal. In an entry dated Oct. 25, 1999, she wrote that she dreamed of having her own home, a job and of her parents feeling proud of her again. “I feel like I’m ready for anything that comes along,” she wrote. “... He’s no longer in my way. I just want to be who I used to be.”

The following month, Elida moved out of the safehouse and into an apartment on K Street with Beltran, who’d also sought refuge at the safehouse. A month later, Elida was dead.

Rivera, now 30, fled on foot after the shooting and was captured a short time later. His court-appointed attorney argued during his 2001 trial that the gun accidentally went off. A jury found Rivera guilty that December. The following March, a judge sentenced him to 66 years in prison. He remains at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga.

The couple’s child, now 8, lives with Elida’s aunt in Mexico.

“When the call came in that night, all we knew was that Elida had been shot,” said Almanza. The news of her death, which came a short time after A Woman’s Place advocate responded to the scene, struck a paralyzing blow to the organization, said Bubenchik, the public relations director. “A lot of us knew her, and we knew the baby. It was incredibly difficult for the whole agency,” she said.

BREAKING THE TRAGIC NEWS Almanza was among the three A Woman’s Place staff members to accompany a Fresno County sheriff’s deputy to tell Elida’s parents, who lived in Firebaugh at the time, that their oldest child was dead. “We didn’t want strangers to show up at their house in the middle of the night, so we went,” said Almanza.

Rodriguez says she knew what had happened as soon as she saw them at the door. The sheriff’s deputy didn’t speak Spanish, so someone had to interpret for Elida’s parents. The deputy asked Rodriguez to tell them. “I told him, ‘I can’t do that. I can’t tell them that,’” said Rodriguez. So Almanza, who is fluent in Spanish, stepped in. “There’s no good way to say that to a parent,” said Almanza. “So I just said it as plainly as I could.”

A Woman’s Place helped the family make arrangements for Elida’s funeral, which many of the organization’s staff attended. Many also attended Rivera’s trial.

After Elida’s death, A Woman’s Place conducted a “death audit” -- a thorough review of Elida’s case to determine what the organization might have done to prevent her murder.

Among the measures A Woman’s Place added as a result is its now-standard lethality assessment, a series of questions that determines the degree to which a domestic violence victim’s life is in danger.

If the organization had used the assessment when Elida came to them, Almanza said, “she would have been off the charts.” Her abuser didn’t have a job. He’d been in and out of jail. He had access to a gun. And he’d been arrested before for domestic violence. “Those things are all huge,” said Almanza. “Today, we would have probably advised her to move out of the county for her safety.”

Genevieve Bardini, who began working at A Woman’s Place two years after Elida’s death, is well versed in her story. “Our training was saturated with Elida’s case,” said Bardini. “She was always the example that was used. She’s a constant reminder of the need for safety plans and lethality assessments. She’s a reminder that we have to think about things like access to weapons ... and that a restraining order is just a piece of paper.” Camila Cortez, who now oversees A Woman’s Place’s two safehouses, says she’s told Elida’s story to countless other victims to impress upon them the importance of remaining vigilant, even after they’ve escaped a violent home.

Elida’s legacy for Cortez: “To me, she is the answer to the question, ‘Why do we do all of this?’”

Reporter Corinne Reilly can be reached at (209)385-2477 or

About A Woman’s Place

A Woman’s Place is a nonprofit organization that provides a wide range of services to local victims of domestic violence and rape. Among its programs are a 24-hour crisis line, an emergency safehouse, temporary food and housing, counseling, a variety of legal services, transportation, support groups, training for law enforcement officers and treatment programs for batterers. Its services are among the most comprehensive in the state, and they are free to all victims.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Update on Ray

I meant to write this yesterday but I came home and fell asleep. Then I just forgot although I did answer some comments and email.

I was in Modesto by around 10:30 yesterday. He was awake and somewhat alert but still in considerable discomfort (read pain). He was glad to see us though. Turned out he'd been worrying about me while I was worrying about him. Now we both feel better.

I don't know how long he'll stay in the CVICU. Hopefully he'll be transferred soon. I figure about a five day stay altogether if all goes well and then home. Poor guy - he ate two real dinners here (from my new stove) before he went to the hospital and hasn't seen the house at all since I have it pretty much in order. You know more about it from my pictures than he does and I've done a lot more organizing since I took the pics. He won't be able to find anything.

We had our rain on Saturday but not too much. The storms seemed to stop at the Fresno county line. Fresno and Tulare counties, both further south, had flood warnings.

Thanks to all of you for your kindness. To the couple of you without a blog or email address, I'm thanking you here.

Take care everyone.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Good News - At Least So Far

It's around 11:00 a.m. Saturday here. Ray went into surgery around 6:30 this morning. The hospital said to call back around noon. No need - the surgeon called me a few minutes ago. Triple bypass, all went well and he's in recovery.

He'll be out of it most of today. The doctor said it made more sense for me to wait until tomorrow to visit so that's what I'll do.

Thanks to all of you who've responded so far.

Barbra, I did get your comment and thanks. Evidently you don't have a blog so I'm thanking you here. I'll try to get back to everyone else later. For now I didn't sleep a lot last night so I may try for a nap.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Update on Ray

First I googled "stents" and bypass surgery to have a better idea of what I was talking about. The article is from the New York Times and was written in February of this year so it's up to date. If you don't want to register with the NYT (it's free including their archives now) but want to read the article, let me know. I'll do a copy and paste and email it.

Ray went in for the relatively minor stent surgery this morning. Once the surgeon took a look, he reconsidered. They're now planning coronary bypass; probably tomorrow but possibly as soon as tonight.

I did some checking with friends who have lived in this area far longer than I. The Modesto hospital has a reputation of being the best in the area for heart surgery. That's reassuring. It's also reassuring that bypass surgery has become almost commonplace these days and that most patients recover and are much improved.

I tell myself all this but I'm still frightened. We were convincing each other on the phone that it will be fine and that we're glad they've finally put a name to his ongoing illnesses. I asked if he wanted me to come in before the surgery and he said no. They haven't set a time, Modesto is 45 miles from here (probably 50 because the hospital is on the north end of town) and it made no sense for me to sit in a hospital waiting room for a day. He's right of course and I'm glad it's Modesto and not the small hospital here but I wish we were closer. I haven't had a vehicle since June (hadn't mentioned that before) and I'm depending on friends for rides when I need them.

I do have transportation lined up on short notice if I need it; otherwise I'll wait until after the surgery unless the hospital calls to come in sooner.

On a somewhat brighter note, I spent about 20 minutes on the phone with Rebecca right before Ray called me. She was her usual chatty self; telling me all about her semi-permanent grounding. I could tell them grounding doesn't work terribly well with her; she enjoys hanging around the house. Once again, Rochelle was out - at the laundromat this time. Elcie was there.

Oh, if you notice a deleted post it was just a weather report which I zapped because I looked at the post and it didn't publish like it appeared in the draft. It just said rain tomorrow and then a steady rise in temps to the high 80's by the end of next week. Don't they know it's the first day of autumn in this hemisphere?

Not much else going on here. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers and have a good weekend everyone.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Spam Warning

This isn't as insidious as the bank scams but it could be a nuisance if we fall for it.

An anonymous blogging friend (I won't put you on the spot if you're reading this) "invited" me to join an online social group called Quechup. I emailed her to say thanks but the blog and Facebook are all I can manage. I don't even keep up with MySpace except to answer messages. She wrote back and said she was so glad I turned it down and directed me to Here in the Hills written by a funny and interesting woman in Los Angeles.

You'll have to scroll down about three posts because I couldn't find her perma-link but it's worth it. She has a lot to say about Quechup and spam and her graphics are hilarious.

Quechup will use your address book to automatically send out invitations to everyone. Then it covers you and your friends with spam. I'm not sure if she means spam that comes into our mailboxes or those dreadful pop-ups and hijackers which are even worse. I don't need that aggravation and I'm sure you don't either.

Incidentally, Facebook has a similar system but it's not automatic. You can say no or you can restrict the invitations it sends to include only Facebook members. I've never seen any spam attributable to them.


Ray may be the hospital for a little longer and may require some relatively minor surgery which could involve a trip the the larger hospital in Modesto. I'll know more tomorrow when I see him again. Meantime, I'm hanging in here.

Update: I'd no sooner typed this than he called back. They're transferring him at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow and he'll call as soon as he's settled. I've been without a vehicle for some time now but I'm sure friends here will drive the 45 miles if I need to go. It may be a one day stay - I don't know yet.

More when I know more.

Glad you enjoyed the pictures, Pirate meme and Constitution Day. Thanks for the comments and take care one and all.

Pirate's Day - Yesterday but Who Cares?

My pirate name is:

Mad Anne Cash

Every pirate is a little bit crazy. You, though, are more than just a little bit. You're musical, and you've got a certain style if not flair. You'll do just fine. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Monday, September 17, 2007

U S Constitution - September 17, 1787

Today is Constitution Day here in the USA. Parent Dish has an interesting post on teaching the Constitution in our schools.

I posted about this last year - how many of us have ever read the entire thing? How many kids know the first ten Amendments comprise the Bill of Rights? How many know what our rights are?

Here's a start.


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Bill of Rights

The Preamble to the Bill of Rights:

(Ignore that strange little "edit". I don't want to delete any of Wikipedia's code.)

Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.
ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.[27]

[edit] Amendments

  • First Amendment – Freedom of religion, speech, press, and peaceable assembly as well as the right to petition the government.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
  • Eighth Amendment – Prohibition of excessive bail, as well as cruel and unusual punishment.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
  • Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Breast Cancer

My regular post and lots of pictures are below but I wanted to get this in.

I almost let it get past me this year until I received an email from Robyn.

Here's what to do. It's free and it will help poor women to receive mammograms.

Thanks, Robyn, for the reminder.

Please tell ten friends to tell ten today! The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on "donating a mammogram" for free (pink window in the middle).

This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising.

Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know.

Also, M&M is selling their pink candies for breast cancer once again.

Sunday Night Update

You can tell from the five posts below how I spent most of my Sunday. I was ready to throw something but it finally all came together. (You may have to click on "older posts" to see them all but they're there).

First I didn't have my camera.

My camera returned and I couldn't find the cord to upload.

I uploaded direct from the memory chip (didn't know I could do that). It worked but it uploaded to Adobe and when I tried to publish, I couldn't find the directory from the Blogger "browse" windows.

Then I looked at the shelf below the computer. There was the cord so I started over with Kodak software which meant uploading, renaming, captioning, deleting, and editing everything one more time.

I started early this morning with the pictures. It's now past 8:00 p.m. I imagine I took at least 50 pictures and edited down to the ones I posted.

Not that I did nothing else. Ray's been back in hospital since Tuesday (or maybe Wednesday?). Some of you already know that from email. I saw him this afternoon and he's doing much better. He may come home tomorrow. I think some of it was exhaustion. We both pushed ourselves but he did more of the heavy work than he should have, even with all the help we had.

The girls called tonight; mostly Rebecca talking although I did talk to Elcie for a few minutes. Rochelle wasn't there but she'll call soon. Rebecca has always been the chatterbox. It was so good to hear her little voice. I miss them. She had to know all about our little house of course and what we were doing.

Let's see, what else? I had lunch with my friend Janet on Wednesday and then lunch and card playing with my shelf making friends R & L (and Tim) on Thursday. That's unusual for me; usually Janet and I just have coffee and it's the first time the guys, Tim, and I have gone out together. I had enough leftovers from both lunches for dinner on both nights so I didn't have to fix anything for myself.

Other than that, I've kept myself busy settling in here. I have a few more boxes in the side yard to go through (including the videos I mentioned in the picture post). Once we're done, the housework will be nothing. I'll be looking around for something more to do I imagine.

Oh, did any of you have problems with Bloglines the other night? Suddenly it showed 18,000+ posts. Looked like it backed up and updated for the last 3 months or so. I marked them all "read" which closed them all. If I missed some of your posts, I apologize. By morning, it was fixed.

We're getting into autumn quickly now. The afternoon temps are in the mid-80's (around 30C) and are expected to drop another ten degrees by next weekend. The mornings are in the 50's and I've packed my shorts away for winter.

We're expected to do our own lawn upkeep. Friend Dawn found us a used electric mower for $40. Works perfectly and even has the grass collector attached. I bought a heavy duty outdoor 120 foot extension cord and we were set. Dawn's husband tried it out on our lawn yesterday. We don't have much grass but what there was needed cutting. I don't think anyone had watered in some time and of course the summer is almost over. We might try putting some seed down and see what happens and might even try a little gardening next year. Ray wants to plant a rose bush.

And that's about it from me for now. Thanks to all for the comments and the emails.

Hope all of you had a good weekend. Take care everyone.

Too Many Pictures 5 (Ann's Sanctum)

Which also serves as a catchall for storage, at least for now. We have a few things to move in and once that's done, I'll look back over my storage space and do some reorganization of those lovely shelves. There's one higher shelf, out of range of the camera, which also holds knickknacks. The first two are my computer gear, books, cd's, dvd's and videos along with most of our paperwork in a pendaflex setup. Right now, things are somewhat in place but not as much as I'd like. I need to do some more culling although I did a lot when we moved. And I l have videos (all opera and classical which I taped myself) to sort through and decide what to keep. I still have one empty shelf.

I love this room. It's tiny but all my stuff is together and I can do my thing while Ray does his. Before, the computer was competing with the t.v. Not that I'm going to ignore him completely you understand. We'll spend lots of time together.

This is the only room the living room swamp cooler doesn't reach but that oscillating fan draws the cool air in.

So, that's my small but wonderful computer room/music room/t.v. room and library.

Too Many Pictures 4 (Kitchen)

That's a breadmaker in the middle of the kitchen table. I picked it up at a yard sale yesterday for $2. I'm a part of the group putting on the sale and I know who donated the breadmaker so I'm sure it works. I've never used one and I haven't made bread in years but it will be fun to try and Ray loves gadgets. He may be the first to use it.

Too Many Pictures 3 (Kitchen)

The kitchen is at least twice the size of the living room and bedroom together (and possibly my computer/music/library room as well) so I've taken the pics from different angles to show all the storage and how great a kitchen it is. It lacks counter work space but with just the two of us, I can work at the kitchen table. It also has a pullout chopping board at the sink. We'll do fine with that.

The microwave, can opener, and toaster look odd by the sink but we're short of outlets and I'd as soon not use extension cords in the kitchen. I wouldn't do that if we had kids around but Ray & I are careful and everything except the microwave is unplugged when we're not using them.

Those two windows face almost due east and catch the morning sun.

I'm not sure how many kitchen pics I have but I'll split them over a couple of posts and then come back and tell you what's been happening lately.

Too Many Pictures 2 (Bath, Living Room, Bedroom)

And one kitchen picture with Dawn's daughter, Destiny, and the neighbor cat. The other pics speak for themselves. Not much one can say about a tiny living room and bedroom. I did find a perfect space in the living room for my corner shelves though and the bathroom is fair sized. We don't need space in the living room or bedroom anyhow as long as we can sit in one and sleep in the other. Ray has room to tinker with his video equipment too.

Too Many Pictures 1 (Outside and Laundry Room)

The house isn't leaning, that was my lack of skill. This is the side of the house; the main entrance is around the corner. We blocked it off so we wouldn't be tracking through the living room and we needed the space. If we have to use it, it will be simple to move my rocker and open the door. This door leads through the laundry room and into the kitchen.

You can see part of my washer, all of my dryer (faces the washer), and some of the overhead shelves my friends built as their housewarming gift to us. The outside views should have been at the top of the post but we all know how adept I am with pictures. Not!!

Every room except the bath has at least two windows. My computer room has four and the laundry room has three. The only slightly dark rooms are the living room and bedroom and I could open the blinds and fix that.

Spunky, our alpha kitty and the only one we have now, went missing for a few days but is now back to stay. She's made friends with the cat who lives in the front house.

I almost forgot to mention that the funny looking thing hanging above the dryer is a knee high stocking covering the vent. Landlord is supposed to put in a vent but it's not done yet. No problem because I can open the door and the windows and we can get away with washing twice a week now but the stocking keeps the lint out of the house.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bank Fraud Scam - Updated

My friend Krupo, an accountant in Canada, thought this scam was insidious enough to devote an entire post to it. So do I even though I know most of us wouldn't fall for it.

I received one of those notices from Bank of America recently. Somehow it slipped through my spam filter. Interesting since I don't have a B of A account. I have yet to receive one purportedly from my own bank but I'd ignore it if I did.

The "Internal Revenue Service" sent me one just the other day. I don't even know what gets trapped by my filter that I never see. I delete them unread after glancing

Dear Valued Customer,

This email is your official notification from Ba*k of Am*rica.Your online Service has expired on 12-09-2007 ,if you want to continue using our service you have to Renew your online if not your online will be deactivated and deleted
(It goes on to say "click here". I deleted that part for this post.)

Many Thanks and Kind Regards - Bank of America Customer Department

End Quote

And further down the list, was another:


The Ba*k of Am*rica Online department kindly asks you to take part in our quick and easy 5 questions survey. In return we will credit $20.00 to your account - Just for your time!

With the information collected we can decide to direct a number of changes to improve and expand our services. The information you provide us is all non-sensitive and anonymous - No part of it is handed down to any third party.

It will be stored in our secure database for maximum 7 days while we process the results of this nationwide survey. We kindly ask you to spare two minutes of your time and take part in our online survey.

end quote

Here's Krupo's post:

This summer saw a rash of phishing attacks on customers of TD Canada Trust.

Opportunistic crackers suckered people unfamiliar with the Internet into giving away their banking information.

The gist of the scam is like this:

1. "Someone is attacking your bank account."
2. "Please go to our website to confirm your information."
3. "Then you'll be safe."

The scam is as brilliant as it is insidious:

1. Yes, someone is trying to attack you. It's the person who just sent you that e-mail.
2. The website they're sending you to will look identical to your bank's site.
3. They'll take all the money out of your account as soon as they can or they'll extract all the information you give to commit identity theft, opening new credit cards accounts and other financial instruments in your name, ruining your credit card record.

There are at least three things anyone going online should know:

1. Your bank will never contact you by e-mail and ask you to share information or click on something.
* Never ever ever ever. If you think I'm wrong, call them and ask them prove me wrong.
* Don't use a phone number from the e-mail (should a scammer ever get that resourceful!) - print it out and take it to your local branch if you don't know where to call. I'm not sure if your branch is the best place, given the fact you have a bunch of high school kids working the wickets - though I'm probably being unfair, they could likely point out it's a scam better than some folks - but the manager or someone clever there should know!
2. The website address will often have the bank's name. And that means absolutely nothing. Using very basic computer code they can hide any link to a website with 'safe' looking words. Don't assume will take you to Microsoft Live, because I can easily make it go to Google, Altavista, or Microsoft's search pages. I'll add another note regarding this at the end of this post.
3. Read carefully - note the spelling and grammar in the e-mail. Although it may not necessarily prove it's a scam, I'm amused and amazed by the number of typos you'll find in these scams. It's as if the scammer is taunting you - if you fall for their scam, they can laugh at the fact that you believed your bank would send such a poorly written e-mail. I've included a very fresh example at the end of this post. Enjoy the number of letters "e" in the word "speed" and this gem of a phrase: "to combat the fraud from our community."

What? "From our community"? Sadly, it's hard to tell whether it's a case of Engrish, deliberately poor writing, or the sign of a subpar command of the English language from a native speaker.

Either way, take advantage of those mistakes to protect yourself if you forget everything else I just said.

And yes, if you already know this, good for you. I wrote this as a reference material for anyone doing the smart thing, and trying to learn the Right Thing in case they're trying to answer the question, is this a phishing attack? Is this legitimate? Is someone trying to scam me?

Yes they are. This post will be useful if it helps even one person avoid getting swindled - if I got this piece of spam, others also got it.

For the record, the most recent attack looks like this:

Bank of America

Dear Bank of America client,

You have received this email because you or someone had used your account from different locations.For security purpose, we are required to open an investigation into this matter.

In order to safeguard your account, we require that you confirm your banking details.

The help speeed up to this process, please access the following link so we ca complete the verification of your Bank of America Online Banking Account registration information.

If we do no receive the appropriate account verification within 48 hours, then we will assume this Bank of America account is fraudulent and will be suspended.

The purpose of this verification is to ensure that your bank account has not been fraudulently used and to combat the fraud from our community. We appreciate your support and understanding and thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Lastly, extra information concerning point 2 above - note where appears above. See that there's a number in front of the address? That's a dead giveaway that the link is a fake.

Every address on the internet - even actually represents a series of numbers. is but one out of billions. If there's anything appearing in as an address other than the bank's true website name in your address bar, be very wary.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Moment of Reflection 9-11-07

I've Been Trying to Write Something for Days Now

Early in my blogging days, I wrote much more about my love of opera and had some great discussions back and forth with other like minded friends. Lately, I haven't said much about it but I'm still listening and watching my collection of tapes and dvd's.

When I heard about Pavarotti's death the other day, I put on a couple of his cd's and listened while I worked at unpacking and creating order here. For me, it was therapeutic rather than sad. I wanted to commemerate him here somehow but I couldn't find the words. Others had said it all and said it much better or so I thought. I remained silent.

Today, I found the above cartoon in Slate. It expresses how I felt.

The experts can debate endlessly about the greatest tenors, whether he had passed his prime, whether he deserted "pure" opera for the more popular romantic music. I'm happy to let them - I'll keep on listening to my cd's and watching my operas.

For me, in addition to that glorious voice, one of his greatest contributions (along with Domingo and Carreras), was attracting people to opera who otherwise wouldn't have been. Even the girls watched all of my 3 Tenors in Concert tapes. They were fun. He was a great showman and I, for one, will miss him.

The Mean Kitty Song

I spotted this at Thordora's blog, one of my Canadian friends.

Too funny to keep to myself. I've had a cat or two like that.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Getting There Slowly

Our stove arrived on schedule yesterday, is installed, and behaving as a stove should.

Today we brought all our non-perishable food, which had been stored in a friend's garage (not the same friend who store the fridge, computer, etc. - this one lives right across the street) over here. We sorted through it, threw some away, gave some to my friend Dawn who was helping along with her husband and daughter, found space for most of it, and sent the overflow back across the street. It was the job I was dreading most and now it's behind us.

Couldn't sleep well last night so I got up and did a couple of hours worth of organizing. We've cut back a lot but space is still tight so I'm forced to be creative. We've reached the point now where we can peck away at it little by little.

My books and music are mostly unpacked and shelved; I made a better home for all of Ray's medicine rather than jumbled all together as it had been.

I can't remember what else but I know I stayed busy. Looks like we're going to have room for everything we decided to keep.

Now it's not quite 4:00 p.m. and I'm feeling sleepy. Time for a short nap which I hope doesn't cause me to be wakeful later.

Take care everyone.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Back Online as of Today (with new Modem)

And too tired right now to say much except that.

Thanks to all for the comments. I'll try to get back tomorrow with more to say.

Meantime, we're settling in slowly but much more yet to do. Temps here finally dropped below 100° (34C?) so it's a little less painful to be outside sorting. Tim has borrowed my camera - wish I could show you a pic of the disaster that is my side yard at the moment.

On second thought, it's not something I want to remember.

Have a nice weekend if I don't get back tomorrow and take care everyone.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

More From Ann

It's Saturday noon, I've been up since five this morning, and I'm now washing a load of clothes at our friend's place.

We have a home and we've been frantically moving ever since. It came through at the absolute last minute. Angels dropped a tiny cottage in our lap, two doors up the street from where we were living. Kitchen, living room, bath, 2 bedrooms, and LAUNDRY ROOM. I won't have to get rid of my washer and dryer or my fridge and freezer. It doesn't come with a stove but no big deal for now. Between microwave, crockpot, and the electrical appliances I've accumulated, I can cook for two people. Friend Dawn is right around corner too and she has a stove.

It's perfect for us. Sits on the back of a large lot, has security lights which turn on at night when anyone approaches. And it's gated with locks at the back.

My church is part of a coalition called Love, Inc. which helps people in dire circumstances. We had the next months rent but not the equal deposit so they came through with the deposit for us. We picked up the keys Thursday night.

Much of our time has been taken with moving stuff on two dollies (hand trucks?) and a Target shopping cart from one place to the other. Now I'm beginning to wash all the dishes and hose down everything washable before it goes in. Ray's church has already taken one trailer of stuff that wasn't being moved and now I'll move most of the rest of it into our new yard and sort into trash, giveaway, and keep. I hope the keep pile will be the smallest but we didn't have time to stop and think about each thing too hard.

we didn't swipe the shopping cart. It was sitting in our back alley so Ray brought it in to use and then we'll get it back to Target where it belongs. Honest, we will.

We're leaving the landlord two couches and my piano to deal with. I had it mostly for the girls, it's huge, and it won't fit in the new place. If I ever decide to start playing, it will be a small keyboard.

Our Social Worker from Adult Protective Services moved mountains. She got the Building Code people to call me. They have backed off and promised they'd let me know before they were going to come. So it was just our landlord applying pressure, not them. If he'd evicted us, we could stall for 120 days and he knew that. We wouldn't have, of course - I wanted out of that place as soon as possible but would rather have done it in a more orderly fashion.

With the money we're saving by much less rent and not having to rent a truck, we may put a few things in a small storage place for a month for two to give us time to think.

The last I heard, the girls are doing okay except for Rebecca and that may have improved by now.

Ray is still doing fine except we have to keep slowing him down. When I left with friends R & L this morning, we locked the gate to the new house, left him with the t.v. in the old one and told him to stay put.

R & L (I don't know how anonymous the guys want to be) came over early this morning, put up more shelves for me, cut my pegboard down to size and hung 2 pieces of it in the kitchen. I splurged yesterday on two new bath towels, mat, lid cover, and shower curtain - all matching. The rest of the house is still a disaster but the bathroom looks good and now I'm focusing on the kitchen and my COMPUTER ROOM/OFFICE!! The living room will be Ray's and we'll share the other bedroom and kitchen.

They'll pick up Tim after work and get our bed set up and move a few more heavy things. Tonight we'll sleep in our new home. Yesterday Dawn, husband, daughter, Ray and I had out first meal there. Takeout Kentucky Fried. Wonderful.

There seems to be a light at the end of this tunnel. I miss the girls dreadfully; what happened shouldn't have, but I'm now looking ahead more than looking back.

Our cable (with internet) will be hooked up sometime next Thursday so I'll be back on line then. Now I'm going to go read a week's worth of email (already read the comments to the last post).

Thanks to everyone for all the support. All of you in the States enjoy your 3 day weekend and the rest of you enjoy what part of yours is still left.

And please ignore any typos. Once again strange keyboard.

(L) of R & L just brought me a plate of chicken strips and potato wedges. Those guys are so great.

Take care everyone. I'll be back when I can.