Katrina's NonSoapy Journal

By Katrina Rasbold

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September 10, 2002

I am about to go write the Bible.  : - ) 

Or the dictionary…or War and Peace…I’m not sure which.  It’s the (very) annotated history of Katrina Rasbold and Company from a Social Services perspective.   It’s interesting all of the stuff they want to know.  I understand the reasoning behind it, but it’s wacky to see so much of your life laid bare for strangers.  

I guess the weirdest thing is about Delena’s paternity.  She was a delightful surprise of a wacky rebound relationship I had after Paul left us the first time.  Michael was totally carefree, completely self-absorbed and a rogue of the first order.  I used three different kinds of birth control and kabam!  The baby fairy flew by and ignited my oh so fertile ovaries after a 10 year draught of being ignored by my ex-husband’s vasectomy.  I was…amazed.  I was thinking the other day about the day I found out I was pregnant.  I worked as a front office manager in the OB/GYN (think of that) clinic of the George AFB hospital.  I submitted my own pregnancy test slip (hey, I write those suckers up all day) and told the lab tech that I was just confirming that I wasn’t.  I was only a day late and I really thought I was just being paranoid.  When I went back for the results that afternoon, Frank, the lab tech, thought I’d said I was confirming that I WAS pregnant and announced across the crowded lab, “Congratulations!  You’re knocked up!”  I was beyond stunned. 

The relationship, if you could call it that, was long past done and I moved away shortly afterward.  My ex and I remarried when she was under 2 and I never bothered to get into any child support issues with Michael because for the time we were married, Paul treated her as his own and had no interest in involving Michael in our lives in any way.  God knows he almost never works and lives off of whatever woman he’s with at the time, so there wouldn’t really be any money to get.  It was just never an issue.  Now, ten years later, I’m looking at this stack of paper, wanting to know her paternity, wanting his social security number, wanting his address when I don’t even have a clue.  Guess I’ll fill it in just to be honest (Eric was only 15 when she was born, so I can’t really pass that one off), but it’s strange to walk back down that long overgrown path.  I’ve always been such a staunch advocate of the crusade against deadbeat parents, so it’s ironic that I never gave this a second thought.  He was someone who came into my life, gave me a beautiful daughter, then left just a few minutes later than I would have liked.  He wasn’t someone I’d ever want to see again in a billion years.  He was just a crazy part of my life that was the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of my life.  He was a wild and crazy and really mentally-challenged moment in my life that came and went and gave me a princess.  

Next comes the work history, the work capabilities and I’m seeing that under the part for reasons why you haven’t worked lately, there’s nothing to indicate that you chose to stay home with you children while your husband worked and made enough money to support you for five years, but now you have gone from making $60,000 annually a year ago to $200 a month, which is Eric’s VA disability. 

Eric has been unemployed since August 21 and it feels like years.  We’ve been through layoffs before, but this time of unemployment feels different.  I’ve been able to maintain faith the whole time.  I guess I’ve just had a lot of practice.  It’s been my experience that if you believe that things will work out, they will and in my past, they always have, even if it’s been at the 11th hour.  

We’ve never had it come this far before.  There has always been the promise of something on the horizon or an idea of how the miracle might manifest.  When the first came and went with no rent money for the property managers, I had total faith that the $1200 (good old California!) would show up by the 5th, the last day we could pay with any kind of dignity.  Now that the 5th is long gone and we’ve spoken to the property managers and have learned that there’s not really much lee-way to be had in this.  Staring down the barrel of a loaded 3-day pay or quit with no first and last for another place is a new experience for me.  I’ve been close to it before, but not quite this far.  In researching the situation, I’ve found that we should have almost a month once the eviction process begins, so that’s another month for a miracle to happen.  If we can’t stay here, we’ll have a home elsewhere.  We’ll be together as a family.  We’ll dance together under the full moon.  We’ll find better times later and take comfort in the strength we had during the tough times like this. 

Both Eric and I have been scrounging for jobs.  He is a well-credentialed telecom engineer and a licensed bartender and it’s just absolutely bizarre that he isn’t able to get work.  He’s attractive and motivated and personable and super intelligent and quickly masters whatever task he’s given.  I’m a little less marketable having been out of commission as a mommy for 5 years.  I’ve developed some kind of freaky keyboard dyslexia that causes me to mistype about every 3-4th letter.  This coming from a former medical transcriptionist who could type over 100 words per minute.  

I try to stay focused on today.  Today, we have enough food.  Today, we have a roof over our heads.  Today, my beautiful children are safe and healthy.  Today, we have lights on.  Today…all is well.  Today…you’d never know there is even a problem.  Today is good. 

Tomorrow, we’ll meet with a bunch of other poor people at 7:45am and have an orientation and then wait our turn to take our Big Book of Answers to a case worker.  I never imagined that at the age of 41, I’d be on welfare or “Cal Works” as it’s called here.  I have no idea what all is entailed, but I’m willing to give it a try if it keeps the family fed.  Meanwhile, we still look for jobs and take one day at a time and count the good things and bless the bad.  We have so many wonderful things in our life.  We have dear friends, a wonderful marriage, really great kids and a strong faith.  When our car goes away, we’ll still have those things.  If our house goes away, we’ll still have those things.  They endure.  We have an old ’69 bus and it has beds in it, so really, we have a house of sorts where ever we go.  

I really appreciate all of you who have written to ask how things are going.  I apologize for not getting back to everyone yet, but keeping the family mentally and emotionally stable and job hunting has taken nearly all of my time.  Just know that I am so grateful that you took a moment to think of me and write to wish us well.  I have not lost my vision that if we continue to hold strong and not give up, pay attention to the signals the Universe gives (although It’s been awfully doggoned quiet for a while!) us and believe that whatever happens will be the best, everything will be OK.  Funny.  What I think about a lot is the scary idea of losing my computer or connection!!  Yikes!  You guys keep me sane!  

The next move, after the appointment tomorrow, is to start selling things.  That will help give us some cash to go on for a while. 

Far from wanting this to be whiney, I wanted to let everyone know that dammit, I’m still in this ballgame and I refuse to be subdued!!  This WILL work out in time and I refuse to accept less!  

Thanks so much to everyone for their support and if you get a chance, light a candle, say a chant, offer up a prayer, swing a dead chicken or kiss your finger and hold it up to the sky to wish that we get a break soon!  Since this all seems fairly surreal to me, it’s kind of interesting to watch the degree to which things can appear to go wrong.  I just won’t believe that it’s anything but actually going right! 

I’ll keep in touch!  Just be gentle with me for a while when it’s hard for me to get the soap columns done.  It’s a little hard for me to focus on the problems in fictional towns when mine seem so competitive for attention.  Normally, they’d be a welcome distraction, but lately, I just can’t get into them. 

Love ya!

Sept 8, 2002

Amazing.  A really, really special person did an incredible thing.  On Friday (I know, I'm late with this), in the early morning around 9am, my doorbell rang and I couldn't imagine who it would be.   It was the Fed Ex guy and I heaved a big sigh and my heart fell because I knew it was some sort of special delivery letter informing us of impending court action or some other equally distressing thing.  Instead, it was a special gift from a special friend was did something really, really thoughtful and loving and generous that she didn't have to do.  I want to take this opportunity to give a very public and heartfelt thanks to my hometown buddy, Linda, who made a potentially dark day start with love and gratitude.  I barely even know her...just on warm net terms, but she gave me hope and made me feel loved and appreciated.  She renewed my faith at a time when I was about to stumble.  Even though I barely know her, I'll never forget her.

Thanks, Friend,


Sept 3, 2002

Got my monkeys back.  I flopped down onto the couch tonight to give the boys a cuddle and felt something jabbing me in the back.  Sure enough, it was the See No Evil monkeys poking me from under the couch cushions.  Just below the SNE monkeys was the mama with her little baby.  Don't know how they got there.  It's not the modus operand of either of the boys, but hey, I got my monkeys back, so I don't care.

I spent 4 hours cleaning the garage today, which is remarkable in and of itself, but is even more so when you consider that I spent 3 hours on Sunday cleaning it as well.  Every box has been gone through and repacked, sorted and considered for disposal.   Tomorrow is "Neighborhood Clean Up" day which means people put a huge pile of crap on their curb and the city comes along and picks it up.  You aren't supposed to put anything out until the night before, but people start piling up about a week in advance, so by the night before, it's like driving through an obstacles course in our residential area.  The combers are out in force all day long, driving at 5 miles an hour, visually evaluating the stuff in the piles, stopping in the middle of the street (not particularly mindful of whether they are blocking traffic or what direction they are parked in the street) to wrangle a resin chair that still has some life in it or a dresser with replaceable knobs out of the pile and into their trunk.  There are people driving around with pick ups full in the back from stuff they've scavenged.  Like Christmas, in one day, it will all be over.  We've got a sizable pile and it was about twice the size before people got to it.  I wouldn't mind so much if the stuff didn't get strewn all over the street and down the sidewalk.  I mean, at least they could put it back in some kind of order instead of trashing it all out.  I managed to score a pretty decent rattan (that's right, rattan) desk chair.  I can tell it's going to need a pillow for my back, but it's better than the resin porch chair I was using before.  I'm dying to go out "shopping" tonight, but Eric would be mortified.  He's forever fussing about me bringing more crap into the house, plus I'm pretty tired from my afternoon and evening of cleaning.  The garage looks so much bigger.  I could get a very small car in there, I think.  I'm quite a packrat and I've got about 25 years worth of crap in there.  It's considerably less now, but lots of boxes, nonetheless.  It's been the bane of every husband I've had so far.  Pffft.  It's my stuff.

Anyway, the Monkeys are on their altar and all is, again, right in the world.  Peace reigns.


Sept 3, 2002


What th’???  Today is definitely a walk in bizarro land.  In my living room, for about a year now, I’ve had a monkey altar.  It’s just a simple bookcase, books in the bottom and a monkey altar on top.  There a large statue, maybe 18” or so tall, of a puzzled looking monkey, sitting on a pile of books (one of which is titled “Darwin”), contemplating a human skull.  It is most arcane.  To the big monkey’s right is a lovely little statue of a mama monkey protectively cuddling a baby monkey.  To the big monkey’s left is a wonderful little group of “See No Evil, etc” monkeys.  In front of the big monkey is a square votive holder with the inscription, “Destiny is a matter of choice, not chance.”  

Or at least that’s what WAS there when I went to bed at midnight.  The front door was chained.  The lights were out.  All was right with the world.  When I got up at 6:30, ***ADOING!!!!!*** the small monkey statues and the votive holder were GONE!  I’m…AGOG!!  The monkeys are nowhere to be found.  I have been all through the obvious places (behind the shelf, in the kids’ room) and the obscure places (the fridge, the bathtub) and…no monkeys.  Just my lonely big monkey, who, like me, was just wondering what happened to the other guys.  Perhaps he SAW what happened to the other guys and is too terrified to speak.  

Where are my monkeys? 

In honor of my little missing primate comrades (not to mention my damned favorite votive holder), I am submitting a favorite literary work titled, “I Like Monkeys.” 

I like monkeys. The pet store was selling them for five cents a piece. I thought that was odd since they were normally a couple thousand. I decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth. I bought 200. I like monkeys.

I took my 200 monkeys home. I have a big car. I let one drive. His name was Sigmund. He was retarded. In fact, none of them were really bright. They kept punching themselves in their genitals. I laughed. Then they punched my genitals. I stopped laughing.

I herded them into my room. They didn't adapt very well to their new environment. They would screech, hurl themselves off of the couch at high speeds and slam into the wall. Although humorous at first, the spectacle lost its novelty halfway into its third hour.

Two hours later I found out why all the monkeys were so inexpensive: they all died. No apparent reason. They all just sorta' dropped dead. Kinda' like when you buy a goldfish and it dies five hours later. Damn cheap monkeys.

I didn't know what to do. There were 200 dead monkeys lying all over my room, on the bed, in the dresser, hanging from my bookcase. It looked like I had 200 throw rugs.

I tried to flush one down the toilet. It didn't work. It got stuck. Then I had one dead, wet monkey and 199 dead, dry monkeys.

I tried pretending that they were just stuffed animals. That worked for a while, that is until they began to decompose. It started to smell real bad.

I had to pee but there was a dead monkey in the toilet and I didn't want to call the plumber. I was embarrassed.

I tried to slow down the decomposition by freezing them. Unfortunately, there was only enough room for two monkeys at a time so I had to change them every 30 seconds. I also had to eat all the food in the freezer so it didn't all go bad.

I tried burning them. Little did I know my bed was flammable? I had to extinguish the fire.

Then I had one dead, wet monkey in my toilet, two dead, frozen monkeys in my freezer, and 197 dead, charred monkeys in a pile on my bed. The odor wasn't improving.

I became agitated at my inability to dispose of my monkeys and to use the bathroom. I severely beat one of my monkeys. I felt better.

I tried throwing them away but the garbage man said that the city was not allowed to dispose of charred primates. I told him that I had a wet one. He couldn't take that one either. I didn't bother asking about the frozen ones.

I finally arrived at a solution. I gave them out as Christmas gifts. My friends didn't know quite what to say. They pretended that they like them, but I could tell they were lying. Ingrates. So I punched them in the genitals. I hate monkeys.

Except that I love my monkeys and I want them back.  Been trying to figure out the message of the missing monkeys…or perhaps that should read, “The Message of the Missing Monkeys,” so that it sounds more like a Nancy Drew book.  All I’ve been able to come up with so far was my first response, which was “If we can get to your monkeys, we can get to YOU!”  Realizing that although this could be true, it was also quite paranoid, which isn’t my style.  Next was to evaluate what the monkeys represent to me.  The biggest one represents paving one’s own way intellectually and academically, refusing to accept the written and proven word as absolute fact and opening the mind to the possibility of new facts and new realities.  THAT one is still there.  The little mommy monkey cuddling the baby was so loving and protective.  It made me feel warm and cuddly.  The See No Evil Monkeys were all about narrowing one’s focus toward the positive and rejecting nonproductive and painful stimuli.  

OK, so with that evaluated, I am no further ahead and I still want to know what happened to MY MONKEYS and my votive holder.  



Took Dylan to school today and noticed something I hadn’t seen before.  There were 2-3 very young moms, like late teens/early 20’s.  I’d seen them before, often there with their mothers (who are younger than I am), but never with daddies, their own or their children’s.  Hey, no judgments there!  I’ve been a single parent for many of my 24 years of being a parent.  I also had my third child when I was 20-years-old, so no criticism of teen parents either.  I know it’s a tough road to walk, having babies when you think you’re grown up but you really haven’t even started yet.  What struck me this morning was the way these young women carried themselves.  Their shoulders were bent, as though they were carrying a heavy load.  Their faces were sad.  Their walk was labored.  I wanted so much to teach a seminar right then and there.  (Not that anyone would listen when they feel that way)  I wanted to tell them that they are waaaaay too young to be feeling that defeated.  I wanted them to know that the breath of life has, in the big scheme of them, only just been breathed into them and that these beautiful babies are a magnificent accent to their life, not a burden or a hindrance.  I know I’m arrogant to presume I know what is going on in their world, but whatever it is, I want them to know that it’s transient.  It’s going to be OK. 

I’ve been reminded of that so often in our current situation…no jobs, rent coming due (wow…that month went SO fast!!), other bills due, Nathan’s birthday on Sunday.  We got out of the military (and the protective hand it holds you in…just gotta be ready to be a widow at any moment in return!) with such high hopes.  Eric had a job offer on the table for almost $30 an hour in the lucrative telecom field.  He was and is so vastly well trained with obscure certifications that there was no way he could lose.  The world was his for the taking.  Then the bottom fell out of the telecom field almost immediately and he’s been not working almost as much as he’s been working ever since (two years ago).  During the working times, we get caught up and start working on putting a bit back and as soon as we’re above water, he’s unemployed again.  We keep hearing how “telecom is on the way back!’ but here, it’s not.  I get a job or gear up for a job hunt and he gets hired again.  This time, we didn’t even get so far as to get on top again before the bottom fell out.  

But each time we have made it through and I know that we will again.  This time, I’ve had to consider that since I was a military wife or poverty-stricken single mom for the past 24 years (I was married to a different military man for 18 years before we divorced and I married Eric a while later), my life has never been one of wealth or permanence.  We were a poor family when I was growing up, so I’ve never known what it was like not to live from one payday to three days before the next or not have to think about the balance in my checking account before I make a purchase.  I’d love to live like that, just for a while, but I’m having to strongly consider the possibility that, since I’m about half way through my life in theory, this might be the way it just *is* for me.  If I spend the next 40 years worrying about that or thinking that somehow defines me, I will have missed everything else in the world that ISN’T money.  

I really wish I could have told those gals that whatever happens, it’s true that it will pass and there will be peace if you let there be peace and refuse to succumb to the drama.  If you search out and find even the tiniest slice of joy in your life and make that your focus, then the like energy of the Universe will be attracted to it and it will grow.  If you focus on the fear and the drama and the pain, that is what will grow.  At worst, you will have averted a great deal of stress.  

I wish I could tell them that circumstances do NOT define them and that they are constantly in the process of re-inventing themselves into whatever THEY say they are, not what events and situations decide they are.  Every moment is swelling to the bursting point with potential to do or be something different than in the moment before.  Gary Zukav says that the most powerful words in the English language are “Until now…” for within those words hold all the possibilities for the future.  “Until now…I have been or done or represented or believed this…”  Therein lies the defining moment of change.  Therein lies the seed of our own empowerment and our refusal to be a victim any longer, either to others or to our own expectations and limitations.  Those words give every moment an explosion of magic and a promise of an exciting new life that is whatever you want it to be.  

I wish I could tell them that they still have every opportunity available to them.  It all depends on how much they want it.  Sure, they have a vulnerable new person with whom they have been trusted.  Sure, they have to show that little pliable being that the world is an exciting, beautiful place and not a place of fear and danger and threats.  Sure, they have to be responsible for showing that little person every minute that they are worthy and important and precious and vital and that’s a huge responsibility, but it’s so easy when you really believe it about them rather than seeing them as a rotting albatross you’re dragging around tied to your neck that is keeping you from being or experiencing or knowing.  It can happen together.  I know this for fact because I’ve done it.  It takes more work and it takes greater focus and you have to be determined to make it all fit, but you can.  

I wish I could get those girls to stand up a little straighter, to proudly take up more space in the world and embrace the fully respectable job that they have accepted in being a parent, as well as the courage to look forward to what is actually out there in the world for THEM as well.  I wish I could ease their faces into a gentle smile when they see their child. I wish I could get them to interact with their children on the way to school and take those minutes to see the world through their 5-year-old little eyes and to hear their little thoughts and precious perceptions.  That’s something I didn’t do as a young mom that is so dear as an old mom.  I would have liked to have slowed down a bit and enjoyed that with my first set of children.  I’m grateful for another chance before it was too late.  

I wish I could get these girls to be so fiercely mindful of the world that they are creating with their words, their environment and their attention for this little soul that they have been entrusted to shape and teach.  I wish they could know how a cross word that means nothing to them could sear into the child’s mind for the rest of their lives.  How many of us have a carelessly voiced phrase from our childhood that is one of our “defining moments?”  Most of the times, the person who said it has no memory of it at all, yet it was an overlay to our thoughts for our lives.  For me, I was six-years-old and my mother sat me on a three-legged stool by out giant old cook stove and said, “Honey, you’d better learn to cook cause you ain’t much to look at.”  If my mom said it, it must be true.  To this day, she denies saying that.  Maybe she was joking.  Maybe she didn’t know it would hurt.  I was, in fact, a lovely little girl.  But I’ve always carried that image with me.  Another came when I was 25 and my husband said, “You’ll always be the dumb little fat country girl that I pulled out of Kentucky.”  The thing is, that one didn’t just imprint on me.  He also believes that and to him, I never, ever will be more.  We can always say that another person’s words are just their opinion, but if words said when you’re 25 can resonate for the rest of your life, words said to you when you’re a child can create you. 

I know I’m talking to myself through these girls.  There’s so much I wish I could go back and tell my young mom self.  I’d tell me not to EVER let someone hit my child while I looked on aching.  I’d tell me to never stand by breathless, wondering what to do, while another person took away my child’s dignity by telling them they are stupid or retarded or by giving them labels they may believe for life.  I would make sure I understood that I should NEVER let a man put his hands on me in anger and let it be overshadowed by the love and apologies that come afterward.  I’d make sure I was better at claiming what is mine when the time for parting comes.  I’d tell me how powerful I am, despite what I’m told by people who want power over me.  I think I’d be a little more like Fae… a little more like Miss Nettie.  All those things I’d tell those girls at Dylan’s school about, I’d tell me and I’d love me and I’d drill into me until I believed it. 

Shit.  We’re back to that again.  Obviously, all of this talking aloud to you guys has illustrated one key point, which is the same as it was a few months ago.  I need my mom.  Not MY mom, who I love, but who never had a clue how to be a mom, probably because no one talked to her about all those things above, but A mom…a real mom.  I need someone as cool as I am to be my mom (chuckle).  Maybe because things are hard now and because I am flying so high on faith…I need a mom to reassure and hold me and be as wise for me at my stage of life as I could be for those young girls.  

Right now, though, I’d just settle for my goddamned monkeys. 

Thanks for listening to me ramble.

Aug 30, 2002, 5:30am

Doggone it.  I thought I was going to be able to sleep (finally, it’s 4:15am), but I just can’t seem to bring it on.  I have some Alluna that a buddy sent me, but I don’t want to take it this close to when I need to be awake again.  I’m going to be dead tomorrow/today, whatever.  I just can’t seem to get the sleep train moving.  That’s totally unlike me.  I’ve always been able to sleep under any circumstances.  I’ve slept standing up, sitting up, on planes, buses, the back of a motorcycle...just about anywhere, any time (no prior lack of sleep required).  Just give me a place and a second and I’ll be snoring thunderously within a few minutes.  Tonight, it just ain’t there.  

I watch my life like some glorious, fascinating, blaze of glory train wreck right now.  I feel very detached and I know I should be terrified and if I blink wrong, I go into the real world and yeah, it’s pretty nutty in there.  I can honestly say that it hasn’t been this bad or this scary before...at least, it should be scary.  I refuse to give up the faith long enough to feel the fear because if it gets me, we’re all done for.  I’m so tightly wound up in the believing, that I’m just not willing to let go of the life preserver and sink.  It’s so hard to believe that two weeks ago, I was eagerly awaiting my trip to LA and while things were in Code Yellow, they were still do-able.  If we tightened our belts and walked the tightrope very carefully, we’d be OK in a month or two.  Then Eric’s job went away...just like that.  This was the one that was NOT a contract job and was supposed to be so stable and *Poof*, just gone.  It all felt so holy, so divinely driven that we were almost excited to be thrust in a different direction, especially at the time of the harvest when all of the good stuff comes in!  Now it’s a little over a week later...a week ago yesterday, in fact, and we can hear the crickets and treefrogs chirping and otherwise...silence.  Got food!  Got lights!  Got DSL!  Everything is turned on, so I try not to think about rent being due in a week and wonder where the hell THAT’S going to come from.  

Eric has been manic about following any and all leads.  Last night, he dreamed that we were driving onto a military base, so today, he contacted a recruiter about going back in, this time into the Navy instead of the AF.  It looked like a go, so he went in to further discuss things with the guy, but it turns out that because we have 3 children at home (Josh would not be going with us), we are considered to have too many dependents, so they won’t take us, plus he was in for six years and three months before and on a second enlistment, you can’t have previously been in the military for longer than six months.  So with those two strikes, it wasn’t going to work.  Also, he would have to volunteer (“have” to “volunteer” just seems...wrong) for a year of submarine duty.  (!)  So I guess it's not that.  Hey, it was a thought and at least he doesn't hesitate to follow up on any and all ideas and options. 

He’s going in tomorrow to take his exams for Bartending College, written and practical.  He has to make something like 15 drinks in 5 minutes and pass the written test.  He’s extremely nervous.  He is so much the personality and look for a bartender that it seems almost wrong for him to do anything else and he very much wants out of the telecom field, so I hope their placement service can get him into a job soon.  If he doesn’t have anything by the end of next week, I’ll go out looking again.  If it’s like last time, he’ll get a job the day I’m supposed to start mine with a schedule that will wreck my work times.  

I just try to take one day at a time, be thankful for the things that we have and believe that whatever we need will be there when we needed it.  This is the worst that it’s ever been, so when we come through this, we’ll know we really accomplished something!  Even if we go up in smoke, I want to do it with dignity and not crying and wailing and acting like an idiot.  Worry is the antithesis of faith and I definitely know how worry affects my health, so I’m not buying into that one. 

I’ve been having terrible hot flashes again and it correlates perfecting to an increased carbohydrate intake (hey, that faith has to come from somewhere and everyone knows that potato skins, cookies, donuts and candy are chock full of faith!!), so tomorrow, I’m going back on hard core low carb.  

But enough of that depressing stuff!!  I was thinking today about how cool it is that I’ve known so many fascinating people in my life and that I get to sit here and tell all of you about them to kind of give them immortality.  Like when I was I little girl, I lived in a town called Livia (In Kentucky, we pronounce that Liv-ya) and because it was a small town, absolutely everyone knew absolutely everyone.  There used to be a bar just over the Daviess-Ohio County Line (Ohio County was a dry county, so you had to go into Daviess County to drink) called The Black Cat and our nearest neighbors, Faye and Warner, who were about 3-4 miles away, had a problem.  Well, Faye had a problem.  It wasn't much of a problem for Warner until Faye decided to do something about it.  Every Friday after work, Warner would go into The Black Cat and cash his check and proceed to drink it up.  He’d come home soused, rough up Faye a bit and there’d be no rent, no groceries, no nothing except a nice Friday night for Warner.  Faye got a little fed up with this and when Warner came in the next Friday night, Saturday morning, he fell over into the bed with his clothes still on and was snoring before he hit the pillow.  Faye took the sheet he was laying on and doubled it over him on top, then sat there for what must have taken a few hours (Warner was no lightweight) and carefully hand sewed the bottom side of the sheet to the top of it with Warner inside, making little perfect, tight stitches all around his body.  She then tied it off nice and neatly when she was finished, and I imagine the sun was just about coming up by then, so she, by her own account, called his name a couple of times to get his attention, then when he opened his eyes and asked her what the hell she wanted, she reached over and grabbed the broom handle she’d unscrewed from the broom head and proceeded to beat the shit out of Warner with it, all the while explaining to him exactly how things in life, particularly things that happened on Fridays, were going to go.  Warner acquired a broken nose, a couple of busted ribs and a whole new outlook from the experience.  Faye was able to stop taking in laundry and ironing, which was nice for her. 

We also had a road in Utica called Parks Road (we did NOT call it that because Mr Parks lived back there...we called it that because that’s where we’d all go to park and make out) and as you’re going way back over Parks Road, which goes back into blue blazes of country that no one should probably ever see, you go across an old set of railroad tracks.  From the time I was about 8-9, the trains didn’t run that track any more, although the used to.  The tracks took a funny turn just beyond Parks road, kind of a gentle sway over to the right.  I always thought train tracks had to be perfectly straight, but these weren’t for as long as I lived there.  About 500 yards (the closest I ever saw a human lived to train tracks, I think) there was a huge old rambling farm house that set back away from Parks Road not far from the little curve in the tracks.  In that house lived the first real Witch or rumored Witch that I ever heard of and she lived there as long as I can remember.  She was an old spinster woman named “Miss Nettie.”  I never knew her last name or if that was even her first or last name.  She was just Miss Nettie.  I will say that I don’t know that Miss Nettie was really a Witch, not as I know them anyway, but that’s what the Utica grapevine said.  

Miss Nettie was definitely eccentric, about that there is no doubt.  She lived alone in the big, rambling, house...except for the livestock.  Animals came and went freely in Miss Nettie’s house.   My mom used to go over there to buy big brown eggs from her for a quarter a dozen.  I guess she made enough money to keep herself in what little groceries she needed that way because a lot of people bought eggs from her, plus she made her own cheese and sold that as well.  I never had any of the cheese, but a lot of people liked it.  When I say that animals roamed freely through Miss Nettie’s house, I’m not talking about just cats and dogs and such.  She only had a couple of dogs that I ever saw, but there had to be 20 or more cats around there at any given time.  Chickens roosted all over the furniture, (beautiful antique stuff from what we could tell), the lamps and the kitchen cupboards.  Each morning, she’d open up her front door and her back door and whoever was inside could go out and whoever was outside could come in.  She had a couple of goats (and I believe it was goat cheese that she actually sold), some rabbits, two or three glorious peacocks that she claimed just showed up one day, a pond in back with some ducks who also would sometimes wander inside and more than once, I’d actually see her old milk cow stroll through.  I could not possibly imagine what the woman’s bedroom looked like.  We only ever saw the downstairs of the house, which was fairly well kept under the circumstances, although there was always a good amount of chicken poop everywhere. 

My Aunt Betty used to buy eggs from Miss Nettie, but they kind of hit the outs when Aunt Betty said something about how maybe all the animals shouldn’t be in the house and Miss Nettie just stared at her really hard and said, “Betty Frances, the animals LIVE here, YOU’RE the guest, so you best watch yourself and not be allowing as to where the animals aught to be and aught not t’be,” and Aunt Betty, Goddess love her, never would go back. 

Miss Nettie herself looked like she belonged in the mix.  She was a tiny little bird of a woman, with quick eyes and a laugh that was just as fast and contagious as all get out.  She was bone thin and looked like she’d blow away in a stiff wind.  Her hair was grey and wiry and always stuck out in every direction around her tiny little weathered old head.  Her movements were quite spry and she talked to herself quite a lot.  

One day, we heard that the train had wrecked out by Miss Nettie’s and Mom got Dad to hurry her out to check on her (Mom didn’t drive until I was about 15 and even then, she’d close her eyes on EVERY bridge she drove over and couldn’t roll up or down the window without turning the steering wheel exactly the same way as she was turning the window knob – some people are just never meant to drive).  Miss Nettie was OK and the accident area was all cordoned off and quite a crowd had gathered.  This was in the 1960’s and trust me, not much happened in Utica in the 1960’s.  Miss Nettie was in her rocker on the porch with her dogs and other wildlife round her, in the height of glory.  People pieced together what she told them with what the reports said and figured they had the story pretty close to what happened. 

Seems somehow or other, Miss Nettie’s cow got out on the tracks when the train was coming and the train hit it.  The train didn’t derail then.  It just booted the cow off the tracks and kept on going.  The cow didn’t fare so well and much as she loved her Bathsheba, Miss Nettie was a practical woman and called in a few of the men in the area to butcher up Bessie, giving them a generous portion of her good old friend for their trouble.  Lord knows Nessie couldn’t have handled the cow by herself.  Woody Dame told us that the cow had still been alive when he got there and he had to “take care of her,” but was scared to death to do anything until he got Miss Nettie’s OK.  He put Bathsheba out of her considerable misery and he and some friends got to work on her.  

Evidently, Miss Nettie was not only a practical woman, but also a vengeful woman because word is that she took a few bricks of lard out to the railroad tracks and greased them up on that funny little curve, said a few words in honor of Bathesheba’s untimely passing and cursed the train.  An hour or so later, the train derailed there. 

Miss Nettie didn’t face any charges.  They could see the lard on the tracks and knew about what had happened to poor Bathesheba, but an expert from the Railroad company came out to investigate and said that there was no way that a little lard on the tracks would cause a train to derail and that people needed to stop believing such nonsense.   The final decision was that the curve in the tracks had caused the derailment...the day after Miss Nettie’s cow was hit...an hour after she larded up the tracks and said a little wish. 

I do so wish I could know Miss Nettie now. 

She was probably a nutcase, but what a great memory she is! 

I’ll be back around again soon.  I’m feeling chatty lately.   Five thirty in the a.m.  Sure hope I can get an hour's sleep before the kiddies wake up!


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