Saturday, October 21, 2006

Feelin' Groovy (All Apologies to Mssrs. Simon & Garfunkel)

I'm batching it last night and today. It's a break from the kids. Nothing special going on. The song just says it all for me today:

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy.

Ba da, Ba da, Ba da, Ba da...Feelin' Groovy.

Hello lamp-post,
What cha knowin'?
I've come to watch your flowers growin'.
Ain't cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in' doo-doo,
Feelin' groovy.

I've got no deeds to do,
No promises to keep.
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.
Life, I love you,
All is groovy.
Ah. Now to do a little housework out of the way so The Wife doesn't stake me out over an ant hill when she gets home, and then maybe a little vegetation in front of the TV.

My tastes in how to spend my free time have certainly changed since I was in my 20s.

Friday, October 20, 2006

More "Josie" Trouble (of course)

Josie's supposed to be with us tonight. No, she's supposed to stay with her mother. No, strike that, with us again. No, her mother again. No, wait, sounds like her mother took off to the bar and she's at her grandma's.


Last night she stayed with us, and it was a fight every step of the way. Some boys showed up on our doorstep and she had it in her mind that she WAS going to go outside and talk to them. We of course had it in our mind (not to mention in our instructions from the girls' home) that she WOULD NOT spend time with friends. We already were breaking that rule by letting "Melanie" stay over, and we weren't about to break it any further.

She just doesn't seem to realize that this is for keeps. If she screws up bad enough, not only may she not get to go home, she may not get to go to a foster home again.

Aargh! I can't take the jerking around I'm getting.

Of course, that's a foolish statement. I can and will take it, and most likely will ask for seconds and thirds before all is said and done. That's why I'm a foster dad, after all.

It reminds me of "Animal House". "Please, sir, may I have another?" Or maybe when I was a kid and Rubik's Cube came out. I drove myself bugshit with that thing until I figured out how to solve it in 1-2 minutes (a talent I've completely lost now).

Fostering: perpetually testing your tolerance for the intolerable and being pathologically unable to do the sensible thing and quit doing things like this to yourself.

Anyway, "Josie" goes back to the home tomorrow, which is not a day too soon. They clearly have more work to do on her before she's street legal.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Problem with "Melanie"

(See previous post for info on "Melanie")

"Josie" is home for a 2-day visit and "Melanie" is staying over tonight with us. We were having dinner and talking, and catching up with her, since we haven't seen much of her since "Josie" left. It turns out she's been getting into a relationship pretty heavy...and now she's having second thoughts.

See, her boyfriend asked her to marry him not too long ago. Apparently they thought they were, as my godmother used to say, "a little bit preggers". Oops.

Well, as it turned out, they actually weren't pregnant, and I never heard that she had ever said "yes" to his proposal, so I can only guess that she said something like "not yet", since I blieve they're still together.

The creepy part is that she revealed tonight that he's gotten very controlling, and he's started to do things to try to "cull her from the herd", so to speak. You know, isolate her. Make her dependent on him. Check up on her frequently whenever she's not right with him. Like that.

She's in a pretty vulnerable state right now, trying to figure out what she wants to do and be. The Wife has this vision of her staying with us and going to school. I have no idea what she should do...but getting into a pre-abusive relationship would not be tops on my list if I was wearing her shoes, and I wouldn't be against her staying with us for awhile if she was good about helping out around the house.

And so it goes. One more little drama woven into the edges of the tapestry that is our lives.

Character: "Melanie"

"Melanie" started out as one of "Josie's" best friends, but has evolved into a pretty good friend of the family over the last year. When "Josie" is around she's usually not far away. She recently graduated from high school and is in that part of life where she's trying to figure out who she is and what she's going to do with herself.

She's had a rough home life and seems envious of "Josie's" position in being able to be in foster care with us. We love having her around and we feel a little protective of her.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Man Who Loved Women

That's me. I've always been a sucker for most females.

Oh, sure, there's always the sexual attraction to females around my own age. I won't deny that I like to look at a pretty woman. Any man who denies that is either gay or a liar. But by no means is my love for women confined to sexual attraction, or to women my own age.

When I was a kid, I usually felt more comfortable hanging out with my female cousins than my male cousins at family gatherings. When I was with adults at such functions, it was usually aunts more than uncles.

When I was at college, I enjoyed hanging around with girls, though that was probably back to the sexual attraction thing.

Now that I'm a foster dad, I'm absolutely entranced with my foster daughters...and tonight was a perfect example. "Jenny" wanted to go and get a wig for her halloween costume. She sweet-talked me into taking her. She's very good at that, and as I've said I'm a sucker for a pretty face.

The dollar store was closed when we got there, so we went to Pamida instead. They didn't have the kind of wig she wanted, so instead she sweet-talked me into going back to look at the toys. She eventually picked out several toys.

When we got up to the cash register, SUPRISE! She didn't have enough money. Big, brown eyes looking soulfully up at me, begging me not to make her take a toy back. Sigh. Did I say I was a sucker?

I said "well, you're broke now, aren't you." The girl behind the cash register helpfully piped up with a big, knowing grin: "Aw, that doesn't matter honey, you got what you wanted from him, didn't you?"

The girl clearly has suckered some guys in her time herself. She knew what it was all about.

Ah, well. I used to swear that I'd never be such a sucker for women that I'd let them walk all over me. Then I realized that who was I kidding, they could already walk all over me if they wanted to and I wouldn't say boo. So then I started just trying to only hang around with the girls/women that wouldn't take advantage of the fact that I loved them and/or was otherwise entranced by them. That seems to have worked for quite awhile now, especially since I found The Wife who appears to understand this affliction of mine and take it in stride.

Aside from Willy, I live in a house populated entirely by females right now, and I couldn't be happier.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lack of Tolerance

We had another training this weekend. It was actually pretty good. I've mentioned my distaste for things "politically correct" before, so I WAS NOT looking forward to our seminar on "diversity", expecting a preachy lecture on how we just need to love black people and gays and other minorities and all the world will hold hands and buy each other a coke.

What we got was a black man who had a sense of humor, was an excellent speaker, and engaged us in a constructive way rather than the usual blather. In fact, one of the foster moms there was the one that annoyed me this time.

This woman seems to be a person of some note in our organization. She was one of the instructors at one of our previous trainings, and from the things she said there I know she's got a lot to offer the kids. She does things other people aren't willing to do...and she's a unique individual. She's a Native American...and a Muslim. That's not a combination I think I've ever heard of.

But several times during this session she vocally and repeatedly made sure that everyone there understood clearly and without doubt that without ever meeting a person, she would strongly dislike and avoid that person if she knew they were a Christian Republican.

Now, I've made it known previously that I'd like not to get into my politics (or anybody else's, for that matter) in this space, but I will go so far as to say that I consider myself a strong and practicing Christian. Evangelical even, at least by the technical name of my church's denomination. I guess that makes me a "capital-E" evangelical, though I don't think I'd ever be termed a small-e evangelical.

I'd instantly share what I know about Jesus if anyone ever asked, or if they were a friend and seemed like it might help them. But I'd have a very hard time going to people's houses and knocking on their door to share the Good News, or accosting people on the street to let them know that my beliefs are right and theirs are wrong, and that they'll go to Hell if they don't convert immediately. I don't know very many Evangelicals who actually would do such things, regardless of what you may have heard about us.

So I'm an evil Evangelical, and to top it off I'm both white AND male. Triple damned in this lady's view, no doubt. I'd only have to say something that indicated to her mind that I didn't think George Bush was the antichrist and she'd probably vow never to contaminate her mind by having a conversation with me. I suspect that if she ever saw the list of blogs I read, her head would explode.

But wait...I bet if you asked her what precisely it was that she so disliked about "Christian Republicans", she would tell you that it was because they were so "intolerant" of other people. That they judged people before getting to know them.

In short, all the sorts of things that she seemed to be doing, repeatedly, in a class that was supposed to be showing us how to avoid prejudging people.

Interesting. This seems to me like an absolutely classic case where a good, giving, nurturing person can have things about them that are repellant to me. I guess that was the main lesson I got out of the class, though I did enjoy the speaker.

As an aside, he seemed amazed that I, a white guy, was a fan of Run DMC. When I said their name out loud when he was asking the class what black people were probably listening to in the 80s, he assumed that the black guy next to me (the only black guy in the class) had said it. Seems he had his own preconceptions about white people. Heh.

Sweet 16

"Josie" was visiting her parents this weekend...apparently she got a special visit for her 16th birthday, which was today. We met her at a town a short distance away to visit and have breakfast together this morning. It was really, REALLY cool to see her again, and I think she thought so too.

Of course, she's still quite the airhead. My folks sent a present along of a pillow and a pair of halloween socks. She immediately made use of the socks, since she had neglected to actually bring any from the girls' home. Heh. We also gave her $20, which I half expect her to get stolen by the other girls in the home, but I guess it's the thought that counts plus we won more points with her. That could be important later, because I still have a very strong feeling that she'll screw up if they send her back to her mother's, and she'll be back with us again. We'll need whatever goodwill we can muster to get her to actually TRUST us when we're making unpopular decisions.

She's slimmed down quite a bit, too. Don't get me her heaviest she was still a boy magnet, but now she could be a model or something. That's maybe more trouble than it's worth, but it was good to see her looking fit.

I miss her. Hope she's thinking of me sometimes and not cursing. Heh.

I See Dead People!

Hoo, boy. Here's an interesting one. Apparently people from beyond the grave are visiting "Jenny". This strikes me as a not-unusual phenomenon (her claiming to see them, not dead people talking to children)...but I'm gonna throw the situation out there in case anyone has any pertinent comments or observations.

I was standing out on the deck admiring the stars tonight during a break in the football game. "Jenny" came out and started talking frenetically about anything she could think of, which is her normal state this late in the day after her ADHD meds have worn off. Suddenly she said matter-of-factly: "I see dead people sometimes."

Me: "Oh, really? How much?

Her: "A lot. One of them was sleeping in your spot."

Me: "Wow. What did he look like?"

Her: "He was a giant big fat guy, like 5,000 pounds. He looked like that guy in 'Austin Powers'."

Me: "That's pretty big. Do you see a lot of these people?"

Her: "All the time."

Me: "Do they talk to you?"

Her: "Yes."

Me: "What do they say?"

Her: "They threaten me."

Me: "That sounds kind of scary. Do you see them when other people are around?"

Her: "Sometimes, but not much. They're afraid I'll say something about them, and they don't like that."

Me: "You should let me know somehow the next time you see one when I'm around, but just don't let them know you're telling me."

Anybody have any idea if I should be worried about this? I'm not really right now, but I do think a thing like this bears watching.

Monday, October 09, 2006


7 years ago: I was a drunk. My marriage was in the toilet, my family didn't trust me (nor did I deserve any trust), my career was plateaued and wasn't going any higher because I'd fried my brain.

6 years ago: I had gotten my DWI. I was in a state of physical and mental flux as my body washed the poisons out of my system. I wasn't yet awake, but I had started the long journey.

5 years ago: as my mind cleared from a decade-long hibernation, I was beginning to face facts and it was rapidly dawning on me that changes were necessary. I started running and that was helping my physical well-being. The hurts I had suffered many years ago finally were being faced and conquered, and I was almost ready to really begin shaping my life in a positive way.

4 years ago: I began to realize that my marriage was hopeless. I confronted my ex with that fact, and she convinced me to try one last time.

3 years ago: Nothing had changed for months and my ex and I split. At this point in that year she was simply marking time getting ready to leave the house, and I let her live on there as a personal favor. The Wife and I had already begun to see our longstanding friendship deepen into something that was clearly going to be much, much more.

2 years ago: It had become much much more. I was happily married for the first time since the first year or so of my first marriage. I had to quit running because of mild arthritis in my feet (YOU try running with any arthritis at all in your feet) but I was feeling fine. I was, however, feeling the bio clock ticking and realizing that my life no longer lay in The Big City.

1 year ago: The Wife and I had made the move to the country and were ramping up our ambition to be foster parents and, hopefully, somehow, real parents. Life was on an upward trajectory, though I was beginning to have reservations about my new job.

1 day ago: After many months of fostering and writing this blog, I feel I'm about as on top of my game as I'm likely to get. I was preparing to start my new job, which looks right now to hold a lot of promise for the future. I had two great "daughters", a great wife and it was another NFL Sunday. What more could you ask for?

1 hour ago: I sent "Jenny" to bed with a hug and a kiss. Monday night football was on, Willy was laying by my feet, I was digesting a spaghetti dinner and life is good.

If ever you are in a position where you don't see any hope in your life, think of this post and realize that nobody knows what wonders the future might hold. If a drunk like me can turn his life around and get it hitting on all cylinders like this, just think what might be waiting for you.

I LOVE my life.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I just got back from three days of shingling with dear ol' Dad at the lake cabin. For once, all went mostly according to plan, with no trips to the emergency room, very little bleeding and actually quite a bit getting done.

I'm bone tired, being the sort of person who types for a living and, as evidenced by the post you're reading, also for fun.

I have only one observation about the job that seems worth sharing right now. A few cabins down they were doing something with the septic system that involved heavy machinery and necessitated a backhoe and a dump truck. When I'm at the lake, I go for regular walks up the road, and I watched their progress with a little interest. Machinery is cool.

On one of my walks, I noticed a sticker on the dump truck. It read: "There's nothing like a good dump!!!" It bothers me that I don't know whether to be offended or amused, and am probably both.

Discuss amongst yourselves. I don't feel like typing any more right now.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Meeting on "Tammy"

We had a staffing meeting today regarding "Tammy". She was originally scheduled to be with us only about 30 days or so...but her family has been, shall we say, "not enthusiatic" about making the changes necessary to support her in her efforts to break from longstanding family tradition and become an actual human.

Okay...that's unnecessarily unkind. Still, they've been dragging their feet, and The Powers That Be have actually noticed not only this, but the fact that she is, in the words of her teacher, her counselor, her caseworker and others, "blossoming" since she was placed with us.

Well, duh. She doesn't have to deal with screaming adults AND kids all day and all night. Somebody actually makes her go to bed at a decent hour. She sits down to a good meal each evening and has decent food to eat. She has two adults in the house who honestly make an effort to know what's going on in her life.

That's pretty much all there is to parenting folks. Right there. Oh, it's not as easy as it sounds...but it is that simple, and don't ever let anybody tell you otherwise.

I almost cried today when she told the whole group that one thing she liked best about living with us was that she had a good mother figure. And I'm glad The Wife was there to hear it, too. She's the greatest, and she doesn't hear it near enough.

Anyway, it sounds like "Tammy" will be with us at least a little while longer while her family gets it together, and it sounds like if they don't start making the effort pronto then the court will be petitioned for an order to make it so.

Reading between the lines, that sounds to me like she could be with us a LOT longer. On the order of 6 months or more...but she misses her family and I don't have the heart to tell her that that's what it sounds like to me. Plus, I may be wrong.

But having her here is just fine with me. She's been no trouble at all...and her history of cutting has not been continued since she's been here. We've been keeping an eye on her hands and arms, and they're pretty much clear, and just about healed up from a bout she had just before coming here.

One other thing about "Tammy"...I've discovered she likes poetry. Reading it and writing it. She's also a little on the shy side...but she has a nice voice. She's got a creative mind. She also has a little trouble making friends, though she's really pleasant to be around and seems to get along with most anybody, when she can break through her shyness.

I was in Declamation (or "Speech" or "Forensics" or whatever you want to call it) in high school and college, and I remember there being both a poetry interpretation division AND a "creative expression" division where you could write your own poetry and read it. I do believe if she is still here when the speech season starts--usually around late February if memory serves--I'm going to strong-arm her onto the team.

That would be PERFECT for her.