Showing posts from September, 2012

I went out for ice cream and came back with a homeless woman - Part 6

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Tuesday night, while the kids were getting ready for bed, April appeared again. She was making a trade, her bike with the busted tire for one that worked. The guy she traded with waited nearby at a distance for her to bring the bike out to him. I asked her what time she wanted to leave the next morning for her appointment. "I'm not going to go," she told me. "I got a bed at the rehab place, I go in on Thursday. So I'm just going to call them and let them know I'm doing what they told me to do first. There are some things I have to get together to take though, before I can go in. Could I come over tomorrow so you can help me figure out what I need and where to get it?" I had given her $10 the night before to get minutes on her phone which is how she got the news. "I'd be glad to." I told her, really happy that she had a bed, already mentally rifling through the linen closet so I knew what I co

I went out for ice ceam and came back with a homeless woman - Part 5

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 While it was still daylight I started to pack up April's things. I did my best to be respectful of her property, just putting things in paper bags rather than sort through or look at anything. In 4 nights she had really moved in and had things everywhere. I put the bags with her things at the side of the house, along with her bike, still broken. We hadn't been able to find a repair place yet. Then I packed up the tent and all the gear and put it away. When I told my mother in law about the day, and that I didn't know if she would have a guest that night she was concerned. Especially about how angry she got in the car. She told me to call Aaron's brother and ask him to stop by on the way from work. If she wanted to go stay with them tonight, he could give her a ride, and if she was upset, well, he was around. (When your husband travels a lot it's nice that he has 5 brothers around to lend a hand when needed. There are always a f

I went out for ice cream and came back with a homeless woman - Part 4

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 After the first day or two, whenever April was awake, she was rifling through this gigantic stack of cards that she had and writing in them and addressing them to her kids. She put in photos she had of herself with the new baby as well. She asked if I had any stamps. The first time I asked her, "I thought you didn't know where your kids were. Do you know how to reach them?" "They are in Escondido with their dad," she said. "I'm not allowed to see them though." She claimed to have 10 children. I think it might have been true, judging from how many cards she wrote and the different names on them. Sunday morning she had gone out for a while, to mail cards. There was an entire container of leftover brownies that disappeared about the same time she left as well. Not that I cared much about that. But the container did belong to someone else. Monday morning, we were back into our regular routine, me making breakfast for

I went out for ice cream and came back with a homeless woman - Part 3

Part 1 Part 2 Soon after I returned home the police had let April go. However, she had by then forgotten my address and had wandered a while trying to find me. So I invited her inside, and offered her something to eat. While I heated leftovers she sat at my dining room table, across from Aaron working on his laptop, and admired my house and asked how many kids I had. You must understand as I tell this that her story changed daily, with the same elements, and I believe that each iteration got us closer to the true story. That night she told me about the kids she had, the brutal attack she endured in her home, the way she was afraid to testify against her attackers because they threatened to harm her children, and how her former husband had moved away with them to keep them safe. At the first telling she didn't know where they were and she stayed in this neighborhood hoping they would come back to find her. I let her talk, she was comfortable talking that night, her mann

I went out for ice cream and came back with a homeless woman - Part 2

Part 1 April is far from the first homeless person I ever tried to befriend. My dad used to invite people to stay in our basement. For several years in college I lived in his big old house downtown as he filled the rest of the rooms with alcoholics, drug addicts, gambling addicts, etc. all in some stage of rehab. Many transferred there out of halfway houses. The first guy he invited to stay was living on the street before he knocked on my dad's door asking for change so he could buy beer at the liquor store 2 doors down. Dad invited him into his kitchen for a burger instead. I've volunteered at soup kitchens and passed out sandwiches in parks, been part of Christmas celebrations for the friends outside with my church, shared a dinner in a pub with an older man who gave me a teddy bear from the vending machine, and sat on cardboard mats talking and being friends as the cold settled into our bones. I've known some to be very, very protective of their stuff, the few thin

I went out for ice cream and came back with a homeless woman.

I would never have seen her if I hadn't gone to get ice cream. Aaron was doing that thing he does at night after the kids are in bed where he wanders the kitchen, opening and closing things and then walking away. So I asked if I could get him anything. With Bam Bam strapped into the car we headed to the store and she was sitting there on a corner, 2 blocks from my house, huddled over, next to a bike. I drove on. She was still there as I drove home, and looked a little longer as I went by again. It wasn't until I got home and parked that I realized I had left the grocery bag in the cart outside the store. So I drove back. It's not that far away, and this was ice cream we're talking about! There she was again. She looked as though she was trying to hide, on the brightest corner on the street. I drove on. The bag was still where I left it and we drove back home again. By this time I was starting to get that feeling, you know the one, deep in your gut, that sa

Some More Thoughts on Poverty

In my last post On Having Stuff I talked about the type of mental poverty inherent in holding onto stuff you don't need, because you fear you might need it later. In this post please bear with me as I put on my professional hat. As a person who works in the area of poverty relief in the third world, [see ] I want to come at this again from a different angle. As I said last week, being poor really isn't simply tied up in how much stuff you do or don't have. An assessment of the degree of poverty based on how much stuff someone has misses the fact that poverty is more of a mindset than a condition . Poverty is manifested by the inability to find a way out of an untenable situation. Put Bill Gates, with all his knowledge and business experience in a rural village in Thailand with the exact same resources as all of the other villagers and it would not be long before the village was different, and he was running a successful business t

On having stuff

I was talking to a friend on Sunday about how tight our finances are. It's at the point where I know exactly how many days grace period each company we get bills from allows before they charge a late fee, because there is nothing in reserve, and Aaron's payment schedule has changed so I almost never have what is needed in time. I've been lagging in the grace period for months now, and I'd rather not talk about our credit card balance because it's just depressing after not carrying a balance for years and years to have so much on it now. Yes I'm whining a little. But that's not my point. My friend kindly asked if the kids had everything they needed: clothes, books, toys, etc, and I surprised her, and myself I think by responding "Absolutely not. I'm still trying to get rid of things. They have too much stuff." Which felt silly to admit. Here I am going on and on about the difficulties of living on a reduced income when my kids have

The shorter version

It's been a crazy week. I have this one idea for a post that I keep trying to write in the wee small hours of the morning, and falling asleep over. I had an unexpected guest and spent a lot of time trying to find her the care  she needed. And there's school starting and schedules and curriculum to work out, and work and stuff... But I did manage to hang with my kids this week. And Brenda and Bug came to visit for a day and do some crafty sorts of things. It was awesome to have time to visit in that unhurried, finish your wine sot of way. Here's the recap in pictures in case you aren't following me on instagram or facebook . (why not?) went to get ice cream which led to this She slept for almost 3 days, aside from waking to eat. Waiting at government offices sucks, but this one had climbing trees. wine, goat cheese, mango ginger chutney, a friend to share it with Then Brenda came painting happened we sorted a lot of clothes and e


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