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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Further Along: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Well, Its been quite a long time since I updated the blog about what has been going on in my life. When last I wrote about the bigoted, transphobic and inexcusable hatred directed by my daughter in law and stepson towards me and towards poor Patty who did not deserve the treatment she received from them, I knew that if I did not take positive action to help us both, we would both fall into despair. The real victim in all of that episode was Patty. For her to essentially lose the relationship she had with her son for things that have nothing to do with her directly was a terrible and unjust loss. We really didn't expect anything else from our daughter in law. She never liked me from the day we met over 20 years ago and it was clear to Patty as well that she didn't like Patty either. Nasty remarks she had made about Patty to another of our children's spouse came back to us,so being cast out of her life was no real loss to either Patty or me.

While I thought that my stepson and I were very close at one time. He had told me that I was like a father to him as his father had left the family when he was very young. Two years ago when my own father died, he never even lifted the phone to offer any kind of support or comfort to me during one of the most difficult times in my life. After the initial shock of my step daughter's bad behavior, his refusal to talk to me about my being transsexual was no surprise to me. It was a reflection of the weakness of his character. My daughter in law had verbally attacked Patty about me, she was too much of a coward and a bully to speak to me about this. she saw Patty as an easy target. So this loss of family, while painful, was not nearly as hard for me as it was for Patty and my main concerns have been for her. Not visiting on Christmas or other occasions was actually a relief for me as I am glad I don't have to see them anymore. when I have known for years I really wasn't welcome at their home by my daughter in law.

To watch Patty suffer through this was heartbreaking for me though and I knew I had to do something to be here with her more and spend more time with her that our daily lives generally do not allow us to be together as much as we both long for. I also knew that with my own history of depression that I could not allow myself to fall back into depression. Truthfully, I can say I have not had a depressed day since I transitioned, but I have a real fear of ever becoming depressed as I was the prior 6 years before I did transition.

So I made a decision to take an extra day off from work each week. I am fortunate to work a four day work week with every Wednesday off. That has allowed me to play golf and attend to business matters that can't be taken care of on the weekends as well as having more time during the week with Patty. I was fortunate to be able to take Tuesdays off for the summer months giving me two days off in a row during the week and of course my two day weekends.

We decided to start doing home renovations that were long over due and to take more time for each other. I was also able to play golf more often as my back allowed, which I find is good for my spiritual condition. Our house is over 130 years old and my father had bought it in 1969. He remodeled it then and it was time to renovate again, but I never seemed to have the time to make any big improvements. We had also inherited two estates over the past 20 years and much of that stuff had been cluttering the house for years.

So what we did was rented a construction site sized dumpster and began decluttering, and getting rid of the debris from the renovations that we did! By the summer's end we had filled the dumpster completely which was my goal!

As far as the house was concerned we came up with a two year plan to upgrade and repair the house. I also had a lot of help from a good friend all summer long. I couldn't have gotten done all that we accomplished without his help. Patty and I enjoyed his company and he would bring his dog over to play with Jack which was good for Jack as well. After a hard day's work, Patty or I would cook him a wonderful meal and enjoy his company and friendship. It was truly a reflection of the depth of his friendship to be so generous with his time and energy to help us get so much.

First we emptied out the utility room and scrubbed down the floors, walls and ceilings. This probably had not been done in 20 years as because of Patty's and my physical disabilities we were unable to do much in the way of heavy work, but I have been blessed to have had a wonderful recovery from my cervical spine surgery and can do a lot of things I thought I would never be able to do again (like play golf!). We got rid of the accumulated clutter in there as well and got the room organized.

Then we started pulling up old tile and carpet downstairs and upstairs, The tile wasn't too bad for the most part, but I never realized that when you take up old carpet, then you have to pull up the various tack boards and staples out of the floor that holds the carpet in place. That was tedious work!

We bought ourselves a new refrigerator and had new energy efficient windows installed downstairs. I felt ambivalent about replacing those old windows because of the antique wavy glass which added a nice touch to our old house, but the need to be energy efficient made the decision necessary.

Then we began the project that took up over half of the summer and into late fall. We painted the lower portion and the larger part of the metal roof. We decided to not paint the high part of the roof because it needs to be replaced and that is part of next year's project. We just got done with that by the time it got too cold to paint outside as it took much longer than we thought it would. The last time the roof was painted, the people I hired did a very poor job and it began peeling in months after it was painted. First we had to scrape down the roof removing the old paint. I think that the people I hired didn't do that and that is why it peeled. Then we primed the roof and after that painted it. This year, I will have the upper roof replaced and touch up the roof that we painted from whatever damage the winter has done.

I have been a coin collector since I was 7 or 8, but never organized my collection in any meaningful way. So I really didn't know what I have in my collection. I spent many enjoyable hours organizing and cataloging my collection on a spread sheet so I know what I have. I enjoy identifying and organizing my foreign coins as much as my American coins, Its also fun to find out the history of what was going on when the coins were first struck and circulated as some coins were struck due to historical circumstances and there are some very interesting stories behind the images on some coins.

One story I will share is about the "flying eagle" once cent coin which was only struck and circulated for two years in 1857 and 1858. It was used before the Indian head penny. The eagle lived at the Philadelphia mint. It was a wild eagle and not captive, so it would come and go as it pleased. The men who worked at the mint considered it as sort of their pet and named him "Pete" So it is Pete the eagle who was the model for that coin! Sadly, Pete met an untimely and tragic end. Somehow, Pete got his wing caught in one of the coin stamping presses and despite doing everything they could to try to save Pete, he did not survive the injury and died from his injuries.Another reason I didn't write here for so long is that I have spent a lot of time on creative writing this summer and fall. Patty is a quite talented poet and is a published author. I have also written poetry over the years and featured my favorite poem that I wrote from the 1980's called the Tao of Fishing earlier on this blog.

We have been fascinated with the Japanese form of poetry called Haiku. True Haiku is written only about nature and follows the form of three lines with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third line. I have written in the past that I can see that even though born male and raised male that I had a girlhood growing up, albeit a very unusual one, mainly in my inner life. I decided to write a long form poem using Haiku poetry structure as the format for each stanza. When it is ready for publication, I will post it here.

We are getting ready to have a new back door installed which will be stronger and better insulated as well. I have also been preparing to paint the upstairs hallway and bathroom, which we will do in two weeks.

This summer I'm planning to take an extra day off each week again. We have the upstairs windows to replace and more decluttering to be done so that we can have those windows replaced, as well as removing the old tile in the bedrooms and bathrooms. We need to have the down stairs bathroom redone and then we can finish painting the upstairs. After that we will repaint the downstairs as well.
We have some minor painting to do outside on some outbuildings too.

So the lesson I would leave you with from my experiences this summer is that in the face of such adversity, it is important to focus on the blessings in your life. Find positive things to do that will enrich the quality of your life and do not dwell on what cannot be helped.

In the end, who really lost from my stepson's and daughter in law's malicious attitude? Patty certainly did and to a much lesser degree I did as well, but what did they lose? They lost our love and generosity. They tried to turn my stepson's brother and sister against us and that failed, largely due to my daughter in law's nasty treatment towards them which they are aware of and now my stepson feels totally alienated from his whole family. He has no one left there for him in his family due to his wife's actions.

In the future when it is time for me and Patty to leave this earth, they will not benefit from what we could have left them, nor will their children be helped to go to college or get their own start in life as we are not allowed to have anything to do with our grandchildren. In the end, they will have been hurt more by their own bigotry and hatred than they ever hurt us when the inevitable hard times we all experience in life come along. This has to do with the time I have spent in prayer asking for my anger to be taken away and to forgive them, not for their sake, but so that I will have peace in my life. To be frank, it is a way to become indifferent to what they have done to us. I have found that engaging in that spiritual discipline always works, but it doesn't work immediately. But it has always worked for me.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

On the Occasion of the Seventieth Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

On Tuesday January 27th, the world observed seventieth anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German death camp Auschwitz in Poland by the American army. Approximately 300 Jewish survivors of this nightmarish extermination prison were able to attend on what to me was one of the saddest and most somber occasions in my memory.

The memory of the liberation of this death camp in the last days of World War II is quickly slipping from our consciousness as fewer and fewer survivors of the Holocaust survive to remind us. With their passing, the reality of man's inhumanity to man appears to have diminished as well as the world's resolve to never let such an atrocity to occur again.  Perhaps the world has never learned the lessons of such sadistic oppression and annihilation of a people based on race or religious beliefs or ones' identity. I base that statement on observing many genocides that have been perpetrated on races of people and various peoples of faith and identity all over the world that have occurred in my lifetime as the world community looks on and turns a blind eye.

Presently, we have seen a resurgence of antisemitism in Europe the Middle East, Africa and here in the United States. We see daily reports of terror attacks by Muslims on Jews and Christians in the name of Allah, both by organized military groups and by individuals all over the world. We live in a climate in which our President Obama is unwilling to name violent acts by Muslims for what they are: Islamic terrorism. Nor is Mr. Obama willing take any real effective action to end the violence and oppression of Jews, Christians, women and other minorities.

Whether this is due to a position of sympathy for Islamic perpetrators of violence or outright fear of naming and condemning the perpetrators of violence as Islamic extremism has yet to be determined. We may never know his true motivations for many years to come, as it is only the passage of time before history allows the truth to come to light about what is happening now. Will it be too late or will it ever happen at all?

There is a profound failure of the good people of the Islamic faith to confront the radical violent elements of their faith and take a stand against them. It is no different than the failure of the good people of Germany who would not take a stand against the violence perpetrated against Jews, Gays, Gypsies, and people with mental and developmental disabilities in the name of racial purification by the Nazis.

 It is no different than the good people of the America who turned a blind eye to the terrible and horrific violent oppression of Black Americans in America after the American Civil War was settled and the institution of the enslavement of Black people was ended, yet their institutionalized suffering, oppression and disenfranchisement continued through the late 1960's.

It is a failure that will end in more instances of genocide and the oppression of people of all races and faiths and identities. If allowed to continue, it will result in the same end for us that Nazi Germany came close to accomplishing against others who were not of the Aryan race.

While the American Left appears to be apologetic and quite tolerant towards Radical Islam, they ignore the threat to their own cherished values. They will not be spared as the rest of us will not be spared. Our President Obama seems to harbor an animus towards the Jewish people that is palpable and he seems to tacitly embrace the culture of violence and destruction towards all those who are different or believe differently than Radical Muslims do.

As a woman of transsexual experience, I am fearful of the policies of the White House. While the Obama administration has done more to promote the civil liberties and freedoms that I enjoy because of legislation he has enacted, the policies he pursues in the international arena will lead to the violent oppression of Jews, Christians, women, gays, lesbians, and transsexuals. Even their lives will be sacrificed simply for being who they are or for their religious beliefs.

The passage was written during the Jewish Holocaust by Pastor Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
It is as true today as when it was written. What will you do when they come for you because of your identity or your beliefs? Who will stand for you?