Location: Oregon, United States

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Omigosh! It's October! Update

October! The burning bushes are bright red, and the leaves are beginning to change on the trees. The weather has turned significantly cooler, with one last week in the low 80's. Rain threatens to be a few days away. I frantically finished painting the patches of bare wood outside left by the previous owners dogs. I feel like yelling, "Batten down the hatches! Stock up on the Gore-Tex! Book a room for February where there is guaranteed sunlight!" It is soup weather, wool sock weather, campfire weather. Except it hasn't rained significantly yet, so no campfire. Around here, that could mean wildfire, especially with my beloved barkdust covering the entire region.

But we have had soup, and chili. And, thanks to a new oven, cookies, shortbread, and whatever else I can dream up. Did I write about the oven? Short version is, it broke, but not completely enough to be covered by the insurance plan that came with the house. But we got a nice discount on a new one and an additional discount covering the amount it would have cost to fix it. So we got a new oven and we LOVE it! For the first time in our married life, we have an oven that is properly insulated. You can actually touch the glass door and not blister. What a novel idea.

A path! I ordered more gravel (to be delivered this time). So yesterday, I laid the path in the garden and placed the gravel. It barely made a dent in the pile. I have more area that I wanted to make into paths, but not quite yet... Oh, well - I've got something to do, anyway, and I'd certainly rather have too much than too little.

Let's see, I'll update you by individual:

Stephen: Stephen seems to be having a pretty good year. He isn't coming home upset every day from school like he was toward the end of last year, and is making friends. He is much less angry this year and able to cope. But, he's spending a LOT of time on his homework, even with me there to make sure he stays on task, so I asked for a meeting with his teachers. It seemed like a good time to check in re: how we could accomodate his dyslexia and attention issues. The meeting was the strangest thing I've ever been to. I literally thought they had mixed him up with another child. They have him in the "middle" reading group and the "higher" math group and according to them, he's keeping up. The math teacher showed me a test he had just taken that was 60% correct and said that was fine (fine? Almost half wrong is fine?) The majority of the problems he'd missed were word problems. The teacher that has him for all his other units characterised him as "bright, but distracted, off-task, and daydreaming" but seemed to feel that these were character problems vs. related to any disability. No mention whatsoever about how we could accomodate him.

At first, I was so confused by the meeting I didn't know what to think. Should I be proud that he is doing so well or really ticked because I'm getting the run around? The next day, he brought a test home that he had left 3/4 blank. I asked him what happened and he said he'd run out of time. So I wrote the teacher and asked for her version. She said he'd been given extra time (during recess) and that she felt he "could have done better". I asked Stephen for more information a few days later and he said, "I had the answers on the tip of my brain, but then they would fly away. I don't know what happened." From my reading, this is a typical problem with dyslexia. So now my dander is up and I'm figuring out how to best go about getting him services. Roar!

Thomas: Thomas is doing well. He is enjoying his classes and making do with the creepy building. He's found a few friends that have mutual interests and hangs out with them at lunch. He is acclimating.

William: William is doing well in school. (!) That is a really cool thing to be able to say! He enjoys most of his classes and tolerates gym. A girl walked by him last week and said, "Hey, cutie". He doesn't know who she is and wouldn't be able to pick her out of a line-up, but still... (By the way, no teasing about this, or I will have to delete it from the record.)

The downside with William is that his Crohn's is acting up a bit so he's been cramping and miserable for the last few days. I spoke to the doctor the other day and we will be changing his medication in hopes of getting it under control.

Sasha: Sasha is shaping up nicely. A couple of weeks ago, I was this close to bringing her back. Things have to be pretty bad for me to think like that. At that point, I had decided that she was Obsessive-Compulsive about tennis balls because she would NOT give me a moment's peace unless we were playing ball. I mean every minute, every day. We started obedience classes and the instructor had no idea what to tell me to do about it. (Super!) Then she (Sasha, not the instructor) started growling at the ball if she couldn't reach it, usually when it was under my chair, and I started dreaming that she was going to bite me. I looked up growling on the internet and decided that I needed to establish my Alpha position in the pack and tell her to cut the crap. Which I did, and she tried to stare me down so I stared back until my eyes dried up. She finally backed down, came up and 'apologized' and has been the best dog ever since! Amazing!

Paul: Well, let's just say Paul is holding up under the circumstances. Last week, I got totally fed up with him because it didn't seem like he was pulling his weight around here. After a completely pointless 'conversation' about it, I reflected on possible causes for his behavior and decided it must be stress. Then I used an online stress measurement tool to determine how bad it really is. He scored three times higher than the "danger" zone with my conservative estimate. Okay, then, I'm backing off, and we are looking at ways to ameliorate the stressors.

Lydia: Okay, so my stress index is two times the danger zone. But I thrive on a certain level of change so I'm perfectly fine! Until someone crosses me, that is. And if I learned one thing doing my master's degree, it was the importance of self-care. So bring on the herbal tea and massages!

I have another interview scheduled for next Monday. True to form, (as in, isn't that just like God?) this one could be PERFECT. It involves outreach to the homeless population in Washington County, where we live (handy!), and is part-time (handy!). The same agency is opening a shelter in our area in January and there is the possibility of more hours/responsibility as time goes on (handy!). I submitted my resume at night via the internet and got a call from them at 8:30 the next morning. So I'm guessing we are mutually psyched. In addition, Home Plate, where I've been volunteering, is looking into hiring me to do some outreach as well. So hour by hour, piece by piece, I may have work.

Sidenote about homelessness/mental illness: Within the last month, there have been several stories in the newspaper regarding incidents between the local police and people who are either homeless, or mentally ill, or both. It is really unsettling, especially when you look at them all together. I feel like cutting out the stories from the paper and collecting them, formulating a conspiracy theory. But that would make me look a little crazy and then I might end up dead - shot or beaten by a platoon of officers because I was sighted in the house holding a pair of scissors over the newspaper. Here is a sample:
  • A 'transient' (Does it matter that he was transient? Would it have made a difference if he'd had an address?), thought to be camping out in back of a WalMart was shot and killed by an officer. The man had refused to show his hands when asked but when he finally did, he was holding a gun. A toy gun. Okay, this would be on the list of things not to do to a police officer. But around here if you do something like that, it seems like you end up DEAD. What ever happened to just shooting them in the arm to make them drop the weapon?
  • A 57 year old man walked into someone's home and said, "I live here, this is my house. Don't you know who I am?" The homeowner was somehow able to convince the man to leave. He then went to another house, walked in, and sat on the couch. The family freaked out, ran next door to a neighbor, and called 911. After "trying unsuccessfully to communicate with the man", the police called the SWAT team. They evacuated the neighborhood, burst into the home and found him in a corner of a room talking to himself. He has a history of mental illness.
  • An 18 year old came home drunk one night and started talking suicide. His mom called the police, frantically asking for help, saying he was suicidal and possibly homicidal. He left the house with a knife in his hand and was in the driveway by the garage when the police arrived. The police told him to put down the weapon, he didn't, they shot him with rubber bullets, he reeled and headed for the door to the house again. The police thought he was going to hurt someone in the house so they shot and killed him. Some of the bullets passed through the house, barely missing the grandma sleeping in her bed.
  • Police came across a 42 year old man acting erratically and possibly urinating in public. He ran from them, they chased him, witnesses say they pushed him to the ground, kicked him and beat him in the chest and head repeatedly. Then they tasered him and he went unconscious. The medics were called, vitals were normal, so the police shackled and hog-tied him and brought him to the station for resisting arrest. The nurses there said he needed medical attention. He was put back in a police car and brought to the hospital but he was dead on arrival. Autopsies indicated his left chest appeared to be 'flattened', he suffered from 26 broken, splintered or crushed rib bones, multiple contusions and abrasions to his head, chest and abdomen. No trace of any alcohol or drugs. Long history of mental illness. A brilliant, gifted man struggling with schizophrenia.
These stories sicken me. There is something very wrong with the way the police force handles people with mental illness. I don't know if their training is outdated or if they even have training in this area. Honestly: The SWAT team? Three officers yelling at a drunk teenager, shooting him with rubber bullets and expecting him to - what? I would have headed for the house to get out of the firing line! And finally, kicking and beating a man most likely in the middle of a psychotic episode. To death. There has got to be another way. I hope they are trying to find it.


Blogger Potus said...

It is so good to hear news from you guys! February seems like so long ago, and so much has happened since then. We love you guys!

10:15 PM  

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