Imagine

Imagine you live in a small town.  Imagine your child’s school district is going in the toilet.  Imagine there is an election coming up for three new candidates for the School Board to be voted in by the community.  Imagine the current president of that same school board, who comes across to the community as sweet and innocent is really a back stabbing, paronid bitch.

Imagine this scenario.

Said president of school board is also on another board for a company that hires local community members.  One community member and parent, who attends school sports functions for child, as does said president of the school board, sits with school teachers because they not only know each other but are friends.  Said president is paranoid so thinks parent is talking trash about her to the teachers.  Said president then calls up parents boss and complains about her, trying to get parent fired from her job since she also sits on that companies board.  Parent/employee is now not allowed to sit with  friends at child’s sporting events because the school board president is a back stabbing, paranoid bitch.

Imagine this scenario.

Because of the poor performance of the school district’s board, a recall was enacted and put into place.  The organization leading the recall is meeting at a local community church and paying for that meeting room.  A call is placed into the minister of that community church and he is threatened.  If he continues to rent out a meeting room to the organization, they will be reported to the IRS for getting involved in local politics.  The organization must find another meeting place.  The call was placed from someone on that school district’s board.

Imagine this scenario.

Members of the community signed petitions for the school board members to be recalled.  County clerk, who is against the recall, decides to give the petitions to the school board members so they can call members of the community who signed the petitions, and tell them they were lied to about the school board’s performance.  They are then given a form to fill out to remove their names from the petition.  Most of the people are members of the school board members Christian churches.  Names are removed from the petitions which saved 3 members of the board from being on the recall ballot.  The current president of the board then resigns and the vice president of the board becomes the new president, the back stabbing, paranoid bitch.

Imagine this scenario.

You’re a teacher at the middle school.  Been there for six years.  At the end of last school year, you are asked to resign.  You refuse.  You are then threatened with not having your contract renewed.  We all know what that does to a good teacher’s reputation.  So you resign, under duress.  The reason for the resignation you’re told is to “save money.”  And yet, Colorado is in desperate need of good teachers.  Makes no sense.  The teachers in our school district are running scared.  Fearful of losing their jobs even after many years of service.  High school teachers, majority of them, decided to give it one more year knowing there was an election coming up of new board members.  See, the old board members are bullies.  They feel their power and rather than work along side teachers, they use their power to bully them.  Their hope is that a new board will back them and their needs.  And if the right candidates are voted in, then this will happen.  However, if we stick to the old ways, we will lose many more teachers when the school year ends.

Imagine this scenario.

The Chamber decided to put on a meet and greet of the new candidates running for the open positions on the board.  One of the politically fueled members of the community, who doesn’t attend the meeting, decides to bash some of the candidates by posting on a community outlet that he hopes the community hasn’t fallen for the “fake news” and “lies” that some of the candidates, who “wanted to tear down the school district with the recall and now wants to run the school board.”  This is a man who wasn’t even in town for the meeting and has no idea what was said!  This is what he wrote:  “I’m in California at the moment but I hope nobody bought the fake news of the PACE liars. There were a lot of questionable “facts” and dubious articles. Hard to support those who tried so hard to tear down a school district and now want to try to run it, all to get Rim Watson back in town.”

Sorry to say, this is old news, water under the bridge.  Rim Watson is happy where he is, we are not happy with the current school board who doesn’t seem to have a clue on how to keep or obtain good teachers, keep or obtain new or current students as enrollment is declining more and more each year.  Students here can attend any school district they want in the State of Colorado so many parents are pulling their kids out of this school district and putting them in the better school districts.  Numbers don’t lie, most know the school board that has to depend on dirty politics to try to fool the community.

Imagine this scenario.

Of the six candidates running for the 3 positions, only 3 of the 6 have agenda’s that will save our school district.  The old guy, a former teacher at the elementary school has the support of the person who wrote the above quote.  Seems to me, his agenda is to keep things going the way they have been.  The firefighter is friends of one of the current board member’s husband.  His agenda would be the same.  And the back stabbing, paranoid bitch is running for what she called “re-election” which truth be told, is really not a re-election, since she was never elected to the school board, ever, she was “appointed” without community input.  So, the only viable candidates would be the one’s who are on the watchdog committee, the one’s who are truly concerned about the state of our school district, the one’s who really want to make changes to keep the good teachers, to keep the students or attract new students and who have kept the current board and superintendent on their toes so they can no longer keep pushing important issues under the rug.

Imagine this scenario.

The rug being pulled out from under all the corrupt, back stabbing, dirty politics this town has seen for many, many years.  Yes, it’s time for a change and I, for one, will back that change.

Everything happens for a reason….

“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” ― Marilyn Monroe

 

Would Marilyn really believe those words today?  Maybe in her drug induced, Hollywood world, things happened for a reason but for the ordinary folks, trying to build a life and sometimes that life knocks them down, for no reason, we’re left scratching our heads and wondering, WTF!!!

The Las Vegas Shooting

September 11, 2001

A diagnosis of cancer.

Hitler.

HIV.

Ebola.

Murder.

Deadly accidents.

Genocide.

Evil.

World hunger.

GMO’s.

Poverty.

 

The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking…. A. A. Milne
If the lessons of history teach us anything it is that nobody learns the lessons that history teaches us.—Anon
One cannot and must not erase the past merely because it does not fit the present – Golda Meir
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life:  It Goes On – Robert Frost
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ― Rob Siltanen
I, for one, do not believe that things happen for a reason.  There is no good reason that there is evil in this world.  Does it change things, sometimes, but the human mind tends to forget horrible instances with time.  The old saying, “how soon we forget” rings true because we do.  I started writing this piece two weeks before the largest mass shooting in modern US history where 57 people were gunned down and 500 injured by a lone wolf while attending a country music concert.  However, we forgot about the massacres of the American Indians.  The Battle of Bear River in 1863 where over 490 men, women, and children were killed by US soldiers.  Or how about the Battle of Wounded Knee where, in 1890, approximately 150 American Indian men, women, and children were again slaughtered by US soldiers.   Senseless murders, all of them.  What could possibly be the reason?  Perhaps we will never know…but…
How soon we forget.

Gigi Saves the Prairie Dog Town

My almost 8 year old granddaughter and I wrote this story after seeing a Prairie Dog Town next to a residential construction site.

By Geralena Ahl & Lucy Ahl

Once upon a time in a little prairie town outside of Boulder, CO, there lived a large family of prairie dogs.  Gigi, was the older sister to Penelope and Celeste.  And Bennie was Gigi’s older brother.  They all lived together in a huge hole in the ground with many different tunnels.

prairie-dog-burrow-system

Mom, Amanda, Grandma Lucy and Grandpa Dana also lived with them along with Uncle Daniel and Aunts Jojo, Meme, and Angela.  Gigi’s dad, Carson, had met with an untimely death when a ferret came through town, devouring any prairie dogs who had been out after dark.  Though the family mourned his absence, he was never forgotten.  They all loved each other with all their hearts and they became more protective of each other and their home.

Very early one morning, Gigi was awoken by a large rumbling.  She jumped out of bed and ran to the opening nearest her bedroom.  She popped her head out and looked around.  There was a large yellow monster with big teeth pulling up dirt and moving it around.  She gasped and ran back down the tunnel to alert her family.

“Mom, Grandma, Grandpa, there is a big yellow monster outside digging up our town. Quick come see for yourself.”

Everyone in the household peeked out the hole to see what Gigi was talking about.

family of praire dogs looking out hole

Gigi’s mom said, “We should go and talk to the mayor to find out what is happening to our town.”

By this time, most of the town’s prairie dogs were up and looking out of their holes.  Most had a puzzled look on their faces and some were running around in a panic.

The mayor was running around yelling, “Oh, no, oh, no what are we to do?”

Gigi ran over to the mayor and said, “We should gather everyone up and have a town meeting.”

“You’re right, you’re right,” said the mayor who was relieved that someone came up with a bright idea.

Gigi went over to Bob the sentry dog and asked him to announce the town meeting.  Everyone listened to Bob because his job was to warn the town of any dangers.

It was decided during the town meeting, that all the sentries would be on 24 hour service.  If the monster got too close to the wards, they would need to move the town to a safer place.

Stanley who is Bob’s brother, would take the evening shift and Bob would take the day shift.  The warning bark would be 2 short and one long winded barks which would warn the town that the yellow monster was getting too close to their town.  In the meantime, everyone should go about their daily business but to be on alert just in case they had to move right away.

As the days went by, the rumblings continued and the big yellow monster seemed to stay away from the prairie dogs town.  Gigi and her sisters and brother went about collecting seeds and roots during the day to store for the upcoming winter.

Prairie_Dogs_Hank_Bentlage

One day, Gigi decided to go and do some collecting where the big yellow monster was digging.  It hadn’t moved for a day or two so she thought it was safe to check it out.  Crawling close to the ground she inched her way over to the monster.  She was amazed at the big teeth.  She would run over to the teeth, touch them and then run away for cover in case she woke up the monster.

crawling over to the yellow monster

But the monster didn’t wake up.  Maybe the monster died, she thought.  This is great news for the town.

digger-1954715

But the next morning, Gigi awoke to the ground rumbling once again.

heavy-equipment-work-1300468

There must be a way to get rid of the big yellow monster.  As she lay in bed at night, she continued to think up clever ways to get rid of the monster.  But the monster was too strong and too big for anyone in her town to tackle.  Then one night, Gigi came up with a super good idea.  During her exploration of the yellow monster, she saw black strings that seemed to hold the monster together.  Since the monster seemed to sleep peacefully at night, she would gather everyone in the town to come out at night to use their teeth to bite through the strings in hopes of disabling the monsters teeth.  Now she knew prairie dogs did not like to come out at night because they faced many predators who liked to eat them, so they had to be especially careful.  They would need to rely on Bob and Stanley to keep watch, while they worked away at the black strings.

Bob on duty

It was a full moon night when they decided to make their move.  Gigi was in charge of placing each prairie dog and their teeth on the black strings.  Since Penelope and Celeste were so young, and their teeth were super sharp, she placed them on the thicker strings.  Grandma Lucy and Grandpa Dana, since they were so old and their teeth weren’t as sharp, were placed on the skinnier strings.  The rest of the town prairie dogs were situated throughout the yellow monster’s body and they chewed and chewed all night long.  Just before sunrise, they had managed to chew through all the black strings on the yellow monster.  Exhausted, they all headed home to their tunnels for some sleep.

As the day progressed, the ground did not rumble, not once.  Along with the prairie dog town, the monster continued to sleep.  The next day, a large silver monster with even bigger teeth took the large yellow monster away.  The prairie dog town watched in awe as the silver monster moved away from their town.  They all started to bark with joy and were forever thankful to Gigi for saving their little town.  And they all lived together happily ever after and never saw the yellow monster again.  The End.

Bob the sentry

prairie-dog-houses-412x270

Outer Limits…

No matter how hard I try these days, my mind seems to draw a blank as to what intelligent subject I should write about.  What would a reader be interested in reading that would be Creative Nonfiction?  Twisted versions of the truth…well not really versions, how about twisted truths?

Boy, have I got some good ones for you…it seems never a dull moment.  No matter how hard I try to keep drama out of my life, it always seems to find me.  Maybe it’s because I don’t back down from a fight.  Never have, not sure if I ever will.  I go on principles. And truth.

Most people in my life know about the Desert Devils.  Back in 2006, I landed a job with a residential construction company in Palm Desert as a Purchasing Manager.  My boss was a real dick (and yes, his name was Richard).  Total asshole in my book.  He insisted I move out to the desert to be closer to my job so stupid me sells the mobile home I owned and was living in that I had just fixed up inside and out only to have to rent someone else’s home.  I’ve made some dumb mistakes in my life but this one turned out to be the dumbest.

I’m going to give you the short version because I promised the Desert Devils I was going to write a book about their escapades and how they rip people off, continuing onto this very day.  I really want as many people as possible to know about them because as I had written about them once before, they are like herpes.  Once they are in your life, you can’t get rid of them.

I met the female devil where I worked because she was a landscape contractor.  She was short, bleached blonde, Italian girl (which is how she befriended me), who got collagen shots in her lips to enlarge them, (if you ever saw the movie, “First Wives Club” when Goldie Hawn couldn’t get her lips big enough, yep, that’s what it looked like), tons of plastic surgery and hair extensions.  She was totally fake.  She liked to fuck younger boys because she could control them.  And she was an attention whore.

One story she told me was that she ran an escort service with both men and women.  One night she had invited me to walk the Palm Springs Farmers Market.  She was so arrogant, she parked her Humvee in a restaurant owners parking spot, clearly marked.  Her remark when we left the vehicle was “Whose gonna tow an 8 ton vehicle?”

As we walked along the main street, we came upon a guy who was sitting on his Harley.  She knew very well and she had asked him how business was.  He replied it was booming.  She introduced us and I didn’t give it another thought.  They continued to talk about different things and then as we were leaving, the guy handed me his card and said, “If you ever need anything, give me a call.”  I took his card and when I looked down at it, I about peed my pants.  His business card was a picture of him, wearing chaps and nothing else, with a hard on and a smile, sitting on the edge of a bathroom counter.

As we walked away, she told me he was one of her employees.  We stopped at a local restaurant and ordered a margarita and then walked back to her car.  It was gone.  She was in a panic and ran to find a cop.  I went into the restaurant and asked what tow service they use.  I explained that my friend’s car had been towed from their parking lot and we needed to contact them.  I got the name and gave it to her.  She was asking the cop if he could drive us to the tow place.

When I say, she was in a panic, I had never seen her so unnerved.  As it turns out, she had a wad of cash in the middle compartment of the vehicle and I think she was afraid the tow guy would find it and steal it.  She reminded me of someone in the mafia.  Collecting cash from the different businesses she owned.  We ended up catching a cab to the tow place and as we waited inside the office for her vehicle to show up, she began talking to the biker looking dudes sitting behind the desk.  It was the first time I had ever heard the he devil’s name mentioned.  She kept asking these guys if they knew him.  They just sort of looked at her as if she were crazy.  No, never heard of him, why? Well, she explained to them, if they ever needed any legal advice, he would be the one to go to.  He was a lawyer, she told them and someone who was like a brother to her.  If they mentioned her name, he would be sure to take good care of them.

She tried to get the tow guys to lower her fee but they wouldn’t budge on the price and she had to pay cash.  When her vehicle finally made it back to the yard, she told them her cash was in her vehicle and they allowed her to retrieve it.  I never knew anyone who carried that much cash around let alone in a vehicle they believed would never get towed.  No wonder she was in a panic.  That evening I found out she was a “madam”, she always carried lots of cash with her, she had a partner who was supposedly a lawyer, and from what she said, he would make these guys lives so miserable, she would be getting her money back from the tow.  Arrogant.

I won’t be using their real names in this true tale because the last time I wrote something about both of them on the internet to defend my name, the he devil filed a lawsuit against me for libel, libel per se, and god knows what other charges he came up with.  Fortunately for me, the judge was a smart cookie and saw right through him.  He was awarded nothing because what I wrote about the both of them was all true and I had the proof, so the judge basically dismissed the case.

So, for the sake of this story, she devil will be Jaycee and he devil will be Moses.

As I had told you in the beginning, I was working for a real dick.  After selling my house, moving to the desert and taking a one year lease out on a house, this prick laid me off after 5 months.  I’m not sure if it was the desert heat or the after affects of chemo brain, but he was the first person whose life I wouldn’t mind seeing snuffed out.  I mean my mind thought up all kinds of ways to dispose of him.  He was a cruel, heartless man.  And the way he went about my job loss, will most likely end up in one of my books.  I was so surprised and shocked, I never saw it coming.

After packing up my desk of my belongings, I was driving home and my phone rang.  It was Jaycee.  Not sure how she found out so quickly but she invited me over to her place for a drink.  She figured I’d probably need one, but she also said she wanted to talk to me about something.  So I pulled a U turn and headed over to her place.  She had made a pitcher of margaritas and was sitting outside on her patio when I arrived.  After pouring me a drink, she said she had a business idea she wanted to run by me.  She proceeded to tell me she wanted to start up a dog day care and free range kennel and wanted to know if I would be interested in running it for her.  I was very specific about asking questions because what she said next made me sit back and scratch my head.

She said she wanted me to manage it and that she would put up all the money.  I told her she would have to because I didn’t have any money.  She wanted me to go with her to find the perfect place as well as go and look at other places that were doing the same thing.  One place in particular was run by a couple of friends she knew.  She wanted us to go there and ask questions without telling them what she was doing.  In fact, she wanted me to tell them I was thinking of doing the same thing.  I found this rather odd.  I mean this girl had other businesses, what was the big deal in telling them she wanted to do the same thing?  She wanted it to look like it was my idea and my business.

She found a realtor to look for places.  A place came available that had fallen out of escrow and the realtor told the owner of what our plans were for the house and property and she was in agreement as long as she was paid $2,500 per month rent.  I shook my head.  Pretty high rent for a business just starting out, but Jaycee seemed to be in agreement with it.  This is when Moses came into the picture.  A rental agreement was drawn out with Jaycee’s name on it and it was faxed over to Moses, her attorney, to take a look at it.  I received a phone call from her that afternoon.  She and Moses were looking over the agreement and they needed me to come over and just take a look at it.  So, I drove over to Moses house.  I had never been there before and was again surprised to see him working out of his house.  But never did I question it.

It was while I was sitting at his dining room table, reading over the rental agreement, when Jaycee said she didn’t want her name on the rental agreement.  I said well whose name are you going to put on the rental agreement?  She told me she wanted only my name on the rental agreement.  I said, no, I couldn’t do that.  It wasn’t my business, it was her business.  And what if we don’t bring in enough money the first year during the months to pay the $2,500?  I couldn’t come up with that kind of money.  I was still paying rent at my house that I had signed a one year lease for.  She said not to worry, we would draw up a separate agreement between the two of us stating she was the responsible party.  I still said no.  She then came up with an outlandish story that because she owned so many businesses, the IRS told her she was not allowed to own any more businesses.  I had never heard of anything like that and told her so.  I also told her I would need to speak with my tax account to see if that was true.  Moses then piped in and stated no matter what, the agreement that would be drawn up between the two of us would cover anything that may go wrong.

I said the only way I would sign the rental agreement is if a clause was put in there that if after 3 months the business wasn’t making any money, I would be able to rescind the lease with no penalties and the landlord could keep the $10,000 deposit that Jaycee was going to pay her and that I would not be responsible for anything per the written agreement between Jaycee and myself.  Moses and Jaycee agreed to this.  So the realtor wrote it up and sent it over to the landlord, who wasn’t really happy that Jaycee’s name wasn’t going to be on the lease but she was happy with her $10,000 check.  I wasn’t very comfortable myself about this change in plans because I was just the manager but now my name is on a $2,500 one year lease for Jaycee’s business.

A business account was opened up and again while in the bank Jaycee only wanted my name on the business account with her as a signer.  My gut was telling me to just walk away, cut my losses, move away.  But I had no where to go.  I had sold my house.  I had a lease I had to stay with until January and it was only June.  It was a job and Jaycee said she was paying me.  That same day, Moses gave me a camera and sent me over to the house and told me to take pictures.  The landlord had not finished moving out yet and had lots of stuff in the garage.  Jaycee met me over there and started going through this woman’s stuff.  She started taking things and moving them back into the house, artwork, small furniture, things she said that this person wouldn’t miss.  I couldn’t believe how arrogant she was about this.  I was very uncomfortable about what she was doing since my name was on the lease and not her’s.

It didn’t take long after that for the landlord to call me and accuse me of stealing her stuff.  I told I did no such thing, that Jaycee is the one who went through her stuff.  Well, she wasn’t dealing with Jaycee since her name wasn’t on the lease.  I called Jaycee and told her that I was being accused of stealing this woman’s things and that Jaycee would need to call her and give them back to her. Jaycee called Moses and told him this woman was harassing her.  So Moses, the evil man that he was, called this woman and threatened her.  The woman then called me and said she would never speak to him again that he was evil and nasty and if he ever did call her again, she was going to get her lawyer after all of us.  At this point, I was done.  I didn’t want any part of this arrangement any longer as I started seeing what type of people I was dealing with, people I didn’t want to be associated with, let alone work for.

I went to Boston for a week and while I was away, Jaycee purchased all kinds of furniture for the business.  She had work done on the 1 acre parcel, and put up a chain link fence.  She said they were favors she called in because she had done work for them.  When I got back, she had the place pretty much set up.  She had painted the garage walls, she had cut out the garage door and put plexiglass in place of where she cut out the garage door so the dogs could see out.  Oh boy!  She never asked the landlord permission to do this yet she did it anyway.  She also put up a wall with a door in it to separate the front door from the kitchen so dogs couldn’t escape.  This all worried me but it was her business.  However, I still had not gotten that written agreement we were both supposed to sign so technically, it looked like it was my business.

We opened the doors to the business for Thanksgiving weekend.  I ended up taking the three dogs I was caring for back to my house because there wasn’t a bed at the place for me to sleep in.   Jaycee wanted me to bring my bed over and I told her no, I had a home and the only time I would need to stay overnight is if we had dogs to care for.  She wasn’t happy about that but I wasn’t moving into the center, it was her business and I was the manager.  She needed to get that through her head. I was her employee.

We still didn’t have our permit from the city either.  They kept coming up with other things we had to do in order to get the permit.  The landlord had put in stadium lights in the back one acre parcel but of course it wasn’t permitted, so the city wanted the lights permitted by a licensed electrician or they wanted them removed.  Removal wasn’t an option and the landlord refused to pay for anyone to permit them.  As the manager, I helped put the waste disposal plan in place as well as all the paperwork that clients had to fill out.  Files had to be kept on each dog along with their shot records.  The insurance company gave me a list of dogs that absolutely could never set foot in the center.  Jaycee came by about once per week and I called her daily to give her updates as to what was happening.  I also always mentioned the written agreement we needed to work out.

Three weeks after opening the center, Jaycee came by the center (I had a few dogs that would just come for the day care portion) and she proceeded to tell me, she was no longer going to be putting any more money into the business.  I said, so are you closing it down?  She said no, you need to step it up and take as many dogs as possible to make this thing successful. I informed her we still didn’t have our permit from the city and they were only allowing us to have six dogs.  That would be illegal of me to take in any more than six and we could get fined a very large fine if we got caught.  She didn’t care.  So for Christmas, she wanted me to take as many dogs as I could handle.  First off, it isn’t easy running a center like this.  You do have to watch the dogs, almost like kids.  You have to entertain them, make sure everyone is getting along.  Then come meal time, you have to make sure everyone eats and doesn’t fight over food.  Clean up all the dog poop, sanitize the floors at least 3 times per day, wash the dog beds on a daily basis, make sure you have plenty of fresh water, answer the phones, check in new clients, do test runs with new clients to make sure their dog gets along with other dogs.  The only rest you get is when they bed down for the night.  I had beds all over the family room all occupied with sleeping, very tired doggies.  When I didn’t have any dogs, I had to go out and do marketing for the place.  And when I asked for my pay check, Jaycee told me she never told me I was going to get paid!

So, just before Christmas (business not even opened a month), I started looking for another job.  My lease on my house was going to be up in January and I hated living in the desert.  I wanted to move back to San Diego.  I went to an old head hunter who had found me jobs in the past and said I specifically want a job in San Diego, no where else.  I told Jaycee I couldn’t work for free and told her I would help her find a new manager.  I placed an ad on Craigslist and the resume’s started to flow in.  Jaycee insisted on being in on all the interviews.  I had no problem with that, it was her business, she would have the final say anyway.  For Christmas, I headed out to San Diego to be with my family.  I was to be gone Christmas Eve and Christmas Day returning late morning the day after Christmas.  Jaycee was going to be dog sitting the twelve dogs at the center.

When I returned back to the center, Jaycee was already gone.  She had placed all twelve dogs in the garage.  She left them with no water and when I pulled up into the driveway, they were all staring out the plexiglass wagging their tails.  I couldn’t believe it!  The potential of this turning into a disaster was beyond my comprehension.  I had no idea what time she had left and had no idea how long the dogs had been alone with no water. One golden retriever had melted wax all over her coat.  I was devastated.  I immediately called her.  I was pissed.  She didn’t want to hear it and hung up on me.  That evening, after I knew she would be home, I called her again.  She told me then she never wanted me to call her again after 5:00 pm.  I reminded her this was her business not mine to which she replied, “prove it” and hung up on me again.

In between all of this happening, her and I were interviewing people for the manager position.  Jaycee couldn’t make up her mind who she wanted but she would take a copy of their resume home with her after each interview.  One night, the business phone rang after hours.  I happened to be there and answered the phone. It was a young woman we had just interviewed that day.  She said to me,

“I don’t know who that Jaycee woman is, but she just called me and told me that if I were to take the job, that I would not be getting paid for the work I would be doing. She said you were trying to rip people off and it would be best if I just found something else. Did you know she was doing this?”  I couldn’t believe it!  WTF was she doing?  It was then it finally sunk in that I had been scammed into this business.  My name was on everything and it appeared from the lease to the bank account that this was my business and my responsibility.  She had never gotten the agreement written up and it was obvious she was avoiding doing it.  My persistence just made her angry.  She never intended on signing any such agreement.

Well, if that’s how she wanted to play, then let the games begin.  I started with calling a locksmith and having the locks changed.  The next day, I went to the bank and withdrew all the money from the account, a total of $2,100, my pay for the month is how I looked at it.  A friend of mine drove from San Diego to help me pack up the few things I had over there and bring them back to my house.  I hired a girl to come in and look after the remaining dogs so I could go back to my house and start packing up for my move to San Diego.

I contacted an attorney because now Moses was calling me and threatening me with a lawsuit, stating I had committed fraud and he was going to get their $35,000 in cash that they had given me to start this business!!  What???  I had never received a dime from them with the exception of the money that had been left in the bank account, I had never received any money.  I told him he had no proof of ever giving me any money, he said they had receipts.  Receipts from what?  Receipts of the paint, the furniture, the computer, the fencing, the work that had been done on the land.  All the stuff that Jaycee had done while I was in Boston!  And because my name was on the lease, it would appear that I was the one who had this work done and who told her to purchase all this other stuff.  I was fucked!!  My only recourse was to close down the business.  There was no way I could afford to run her business.  I contacted the landlord and told her I was exercising my right on the clause to close the business and give her back her house.  She could keep the $10,000 of the deposit.  I also called up a garage door company to get quotes for the garage door.  I got it in writing and taped it to the inside of the garage door.

Prior to closing down, one night the doorbell rang at the center and it was the sheriff.  Standing behind him was Jaycee.  She pushed passed the sheriff and started walking into the living room towards the computer.  I grabbed her arm and told her to get out.  She said it was her computer.  I told her when I leave, she could come back for it.  The sheriff then explained to her that this would be a civil case and since her name wasn’t on the lease, she would not be allowed to go into the house/center.  I told her once I vacated the premises, I would call her so she could come in and get whatever was her’s but not until then.

The movers arrived at my house to pick up my belongings on January 10th.  My dining room table was being used as the office desk so I had them make a run over to the center to pick that up along with the washer and dryer and a few large potted plants.  I left the rest in the center along with the computer.  As the movers were following me out of town, I called her and left her a message.  I told her the landlord had the new key if she wanted to pick up the rest of the stuff in the house.  I didn’t hear from her again.

Several months passed and I was getting along with my new job as purchasing manager for a general contractor.  A process server came in one afternoon asking for me.  When the receptionist called me to tell me someone was up at the front desk to serve me papers, I told her to tell him I wasn’t available.  He left the papers anyway.  I was being summoned to appear in court and was being sued for fraud and several other things (when Moses filed a suit, he made sure he included not just one but several reasons for the suit whether they were true or not).  In the papers, they stated that Jaycee and Moses were business partners (he was a silent partner who had given Jaycee money).  That I had come to them crying that I needed money to start up a dog daycare business and they both felt sorry for me and gave me $35,000 in cash to start up this business.  I had squandered the money and when I was unable to keep it going, I just left town, stealing the remainder of the money and property, including the computer.  I had committed fraud by leading them to believe I was running the business when I was actually looking for employment in another city.  OMG!  They had copies of the lease attached to the suit, as well as receipts (all of which I had never seen) from all these different people who had supposedly did work for me!  They also said in their declarations that I had killed the two puppies who had lived next door with parvo because I had no records of the shots from any of the animals I was taking in.  Of course, I had kept all the business files so I had proof the dogs had all had their shots.  They had a list of people who were going to testify to many different things and when I looked at the list of people, the landlord was one of them, the neighbors, and one of the guys I used to work with at the construction company along with some of Jaycee’s other friends.

I had to hire an attorney.  When my work got served to release my employment records, my new attorney told them not to release anything to these people.  Moses was a paralegal and he was representing Jaycee and himself in the civil suit.  They had already served the bank where we had the business account for all my personal information and the bank gave it to them.  My attorney called the bank and told them we were going to file a lawsuit against them for releasing that information with a fake subpoena never having gone through the courts.  Moses filed a lawsuit against my employer for not releasing my employment records.  So now my employer had to hire an attorney to which my boss regularly gave me copies of the attorney’s bill so I knew how much money he was spending on me.

Because the lawsuit was filed in the desert and I was living in San Diego, as was my attorney, our drive time was a little over 2 hours each way.  Moses inundated my attorney with paperwork.  Each time my name appeared on a fax, it added up on my bill.  He was relentless.  Every day, he sent over at least 10 documents, some were senseless.  Moses started to threatened my attorney.  Moses called my place of business and would threaten the receptionist, the office manager, once even threatening my boss.  He would fax personal documents to my work fax so everyone could view them.  When Moses set up a deposition, my attorney and I drove out to the desert to the place indicated on the paperwork.  When we arrived there, the receptionist asked us what we were doing there, we told her for a deposition.  She checked her books and there was nothing on the books for a deposition.  We called Moses and of course, he didn’t answer.  The deposition was never scheduled.  From then on, whenever Moses would request any type of meeting, we required it to be recorded because he couldn’t be trusted.  Moses would record any conversations he and I would have whenever he would call my work.  The receptionist would just transfer him to me whenever he would call no matter who he asked for.  He called so often, she knew his voice.  One time he called and she transferred him to me and I just cursed him up one side and down another.  Every other word was fuck.  He was recording me without my knowledge which is inadmissible in California court.  When my attorney went to one of our hearings out in the desert in front of the judge, Moses played the recording back in the waiting room where everyone waiting to go into the courtroom was able to hear it. When he got into the courtroom, the judge said he wanted to hear it.

It was shortly after that hearing that I received a tentative bill from my attorney, who at this point just wanted to quit.  Moses was wearing him out.  He is an evil person and my attorney had never run into anyone like him in all the years of him practicing.  He had offered a judgeship and wanted to take it but felt obligated to me.  After seeing his bill, I relieved him of his duty!  $90,000 had been run up from Moses little game.  They were suing me for $35,000 and now my attorney bills were $90,000.  Well, looks like I would be representing myself from this point forward as I could not afford to hire another attorney.  I got all my files from my attorney and I began the work of representing myself.

Funny how all the faxes stopped now that it wasn’t going to cost me any money.  I asked my attorney for one more favor.  I asked him how I could get out of this mess.  He believed me when I told him the outlandish story of how I got mixed up with these two.  He knew I was telling the truth.  So, he told me to file bankruptcy knowing he wouldn’t see a dime for all the work and aggravation he put up with from Moses.  He said I would have to include their dollar amount in the bankruptcy.  I told him I didn’t want to admit guilt when I wasn’t guilty but that I just could not afford to continue to let this go on any longer.  He understood.  So he hooked me up with a great bankruptcy attorney and I filed.  The bankruptcy went through and I thought for sure these two snakes would show up to refute it.  They didn’t.  We kept looking for them but they never showed up.  In fact, there were several hearings I had to attend out in the desert in front of the judge and again, neither one of them showed up.  One time in front of the judge, he asked me why I had not shown up for one of the hearings, and I told him I had filed and was granted bankruptcy and was told I didn’t have to show up.  He told his clerk to fine me $250 for no show as well as Jaycee and Moses.  He then called me back up and asked me when my bankruptcy had been finalized and when I told him the date, he told the clerk to strike my fine but to keep Jaycee and Moses’s fine.

After that I never had to appear in court again.  I kept checking the court case via the internet and the case was eventually dismissed.  Through some research, I found out Jaycee went on to open a marijuana shop out in the desert but again, her name wasn’t on any of the documents but her fat ass and big lips showed up on one of their videos to promote the business, she was acting as if she were a customer.  As for Moses, I’m sure he continued to harass as many people as he possibly could.  I tried to put it behind me but it had ruined me financially.  In 2008, my employer didn’t renew my contract and I was laid off from work.  Since it was the beginning of the great recession, I was unable to find full time work in my field or any field for that matter.  I started my own business as a professional organizer and did quite well for several years.  When I decided to go back to work in the corporate field, I started sending out my resumes.  I was on a phone interview one day, and the owner of this one company was doing an internet search of my name.  He started reading something back to me and asked, hey is this you?  I said I didn’t know what he was talking about and he said grab your computer and google your name.  I did.  I couldn’t believe what came up.  Moses had written a short paragraph with my name in it.  It stated that he and his business partner had loaned me money to start up a business and that I had stolen it and left town.  That they had filed a civil suit against me for fraud and that they had won a judgement against me for $35,000 in which I had then filed bankruptcy so I wouldn’t have to pay it!!   I was so embarrassed!  I tried to explain to the guy that it wasn’t true but hey, he didn’t know me from a hole in the wall.  Of course, he didn’t hire me.  I was a thief in his eyes.

He did give me some advice.  He said if it wasn’t true than I needed to clear my name by writing a rebuttal to his post.  So, I did.  I wrote a rebuttal, a long one something similar to this blog post, and I used their real names.  I wrote a review of both of their companies, her landscape company and his arbitration company.  During my research, I found out the attorney that Moses worked for, who was as crooked as he was, had his licensed revoked by the bar because he lied about representing a client.  Birds of a feather.  I warned people to stay away from them, to not do business with them, to run as far away from them as possible.  I told people he was a felon because he was.  Moses had spent 10 years in prison for armed burglary.  He studied the law while he was in prison and because he was a felon, he was not able to be an attorney so he became a paralegal and a PI.  However, I feel if you are a felon, you shouldn’t be able to be a PI because you have access to people’e private information.  Everything I wrote about the both of them was the truth.  I didn’t have to lie.  And I had proof.

It has been seven years since the original lawsuit had been filed by Moses and Jaycee.  My mom had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and since I was still unable to find a job, I decided to move in with her so I could care for her during her treatments and doctor appointments.  I had just moved in, not even 4 days, on a Saturday.  I had gotten up early and was making coffee when the doorbell rang.  I looked at the clock.  It was 8:00 am.  I opened the door (she had a security screen which was locked).  A young, long haired boy was standing on her porch and he said to me, ‘I just live up the street and this is for you’.  I glanced at the paper in his hand and I saw Moses’s name on the front sheet.  I said, “oh, hell no, go fuck yourself” and I closed the door.  This kid kept ringing the bell and knocking on the screen door.  I yelled through the door, “if you continue to do that, I’m calling the police.”  He left.  He had pushed the papers up through the bottom of the screen.  Once I knew he was gone, I opened the door and retrieved the papers.  Sure enough, it was another civil lawsuit filed by Moses for libel, libel per se, and a couple of other things.  Like I said, he likes to cover all his bases.

As I’m reading his declaration, he writes that I cost him money because of what I had written about him on the internet.  He stated that what I had written were all lies and because of that, he wanted compensation for the business he lost due to my statement.  He had attached to the papers, a copy of my cable bill which he had apparently stolen out of my mailbox and he also mentioned the previous lawsuit.  He wanted over $100,000 from me.  I couldn’t believe it, the herpes was rearing its ugly head once again!  He filed the papers in San Diego and I was now living in Riverside.  Which meant I would have to shag my ass 1.5 hours each way every time I had a court hearing.  Wonderful.  However, this time, I refused to hire an attorney.  I would represent myself this time from the beginning.  I hired a paralegal to help me with the paper work but her name never appeared on any of the paper in fear he would harass the shit out of her.  And so it began again.  Friends who had known about the first lawsuit couldn’t believe he was after me again.  I wrote out my response and filed it with the court.  I showed up to the first hearing in San Diego, he didn’t.  He called in.

The second hearing, I called in and he didn’t.  He didn’t even show up.  The judge was kind enough to talk me through some of the things I didn’t really understand.  I’m sure they just love it when a person represents himself especially if they don’t know the system.  Oh well, I couldn’t afford to hire an attorney knowing Moses’s MO.  The next hearing was one where we both had to show up.  I know this because I called the service I had used previously and they said that hearing had to be attended.  So I trekked down to San Diego and when they call our names, I stand and go in front of the judge and Moses, low and behold, is on the phone, his cell phone no less, driving in his car.  He didn’t use the service he was supposed to use in order to speak to the judge when you do get to call in.  The judge asked him where he was and he told him he lived in Riverside County.  The judge asked him who told him he could call in, he told the judge, he had called a clerk and they told him he could call in.  I raised my hand.  “Your honor, I live in Riverside County and I called to find out if I could call in and I was told I had to show up for this hearing.  Plus, the system states you have to pay a service to patch you through to the court room and he is clearly on his cell phone.”  The judge then said, “you live in Riverside county too?”  “Yes, your honor.”

“Mr. P. (Moses), you filed this lawsuit in my county when you both clearly don’t live in this county.  I’m going to make a suggestion, and I strongly urge you to follow it.  YOU filed this lawsuit.  If I don’t see you physically here in my courtroom at the next hearing, I will be dismissing your case.  You are wasting the courts time with your games and I won’t have it.”  YES!!!  Music to my ears.  Judge set another court date, two weeks out.

It was the Friday of Mother’s Day weekend, and again, I make the trek down to San Diego alone.  I was actually counter suing Moses this time asking for the same amount of money for the libel he had done to me.  I didn’t recognize Moses as I had only seen him maybe twice and that had been over seven years ago.  And he didn’t recognized me either as I had lost a lot of weight and my hair was now blonde not brunette.  When the clerk called our case, we both stood in front of the judge.  Moses asked the judge for a continuance.  The judge looked a little surprised.  “Why do you need a continuance?” he asked.  “Well, your honor, I haven’t had enough time to prepare after her response.”  The judge checks his computer, “Her response was filed back in February, it’s now May. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t have had enough time to prepare?”

“Well, what she wrote in her response I was refuting and thought the court would have agreed so I didn’t have time to prepare my rebuttal.”

Silence.

Meanwhile, my heart is beating out of my chest.  I’m so angry.  He’s playing his fucking little games again.  Costing me time and money and playing with the courts time as well.

Then the judge speaks up, “You want a continuance, Mr. P.? Tell you what, I’ll grant you your continuance. You have until Monday, where I will see you back in this courtroom prepared for me to hear your case.”

Oh, for God’s sake!  This is really playing out well for me!  He has annoyed the judge with his little games.  Where his games may work on the corrupt judges in the desert, but he’s dealing with a real judge now who for all intense and purposes, is seeing right through him.

As I’m leaving the court room, I head towards the elevator.  I see him in front of me and I do not want to be stuck in an elevator with this pig.  So, I u turn it to the ladies room.  I have a smile on my face so big, it’s hard for me to conceal my enjoyment.  It’s finally going to be over, Monday, this nightmare will be behind me.  Now I’m excited.

Monday morning and the courthouse is almost empty.  The judge and his clerk came into work just to hear this case.  There was no one else in the courtroom, just the four of us.  Moses had three 4″ binders.  He gave one to me, one to the judge and kept one for himself.  In it were copies of the things I had written about him along with some other papers, bullshit as far as I was concerned.  However, as I leafed through the back of the binder, I saw an email from a potential client.  They had done some research on him and his fellow cohort and because of what I had written about him and her, they decided not to hire him, in fact, the email was from the clients daughter warning her father.  Ha ha!  Good.  It worked.  He had suffered as I had only my words were the truth.

I was called to the stand where I thought I would be nervous but was oddly calm.  I was no longer afraid of this piece of shit standing in front of me.  He started off with bringing up the old case.  To which I objected.  I told the judge the old case has been dismissed and therefore wasn’t relevant.  Moses stated that it was because of the old case that the libel had taken place.  The judge told him to make it quick that he would hear a summary from the both of us about the old case.  When he came to the part about being an ex felon, Moses told the judge that he had not been in prison for 10 years but had only been in prison for 2 years.  The judge said regardless of how long you were in prison, Mr. P., you are still an ex felon, next.  But your honor I am in the process of getting that expunged from my record.  Good for you, however, that hasn’t happened yet.  Next.  And of course that went on for a good hour where he would bring something up, and I had the proof that I had written the truth.

It was then the judge started to read some of the stuff I had written.  One thing I had written was how the both of them were like herpes, once they were in your life, you could never get them out.  The judge asked me if I had written that.  I told him I had.  He asked me why.  I said because I’m a writer and that is how I was able to convey what it was like for me to be involved with them.  I then got to tell my side of the story about how they had bankrupted me, how I was scammed into the dog business when I was promised pay for my work and how I was supposed to get a written statement about the business arrangement which I never got.  I told the judge that Jaycee had in fact told me about running an escort service (prostitution ring) and about the guy with the business card.  I had the proof about all the lawsuits that Moses had filed in the desert area and that I had done research on the cases.  There were several in there about “loaning money to open a business and then foreclosing on them and suing them.” About the harassment of my attorney during the first trial and the threats that we both received.  How they had ruined me financially on purpose and if she was a so called multi millionaire (words that Moses used while he was cross examining me, in front of the judge) how did $35,000 ruin her?  $35,000 that I never saw and had the bank statements to prove I had never received any $ amount that came close to that.

The judge then asked me why I wrote all those things that I wrote and I told him, I was defending myself.  It was in retaliation for what he wrote about me.  I told the judge that prior to me writing this stuff, Moses had put copies of the last court case on the internet by using his last place of employments website.  I had called to have them removed but they refused.  However, when that attorney lost his license to practice law because he lied to a client, and they removed the website, that’s the only reason they were no longer on the internet.  I felt this was why he wrote what he wrote.  Plus, people now have to pay for copies of court case documents, they just can’t pull them up any longer.

The judge made his decision.  Moses didn’t get what he wanted and I didn’t get what I wanted, monetarily that is.  I only counter sued Moses because I could.  I wasn’t expecting any money, however Moses was, so it was a huge disappointment to him.  In fact, he was so disappointed, two weeks after the judge’s decision, I received a letter in the mail.  It was addressed to the Superior Court in San Diego from Moses P. requesting a retrial.  He claimed he didn’t receive a far trial because the court was bias towards me.  I immediately called the court clerk and asked her what I needed to do.

“Nothing.  It’s up to him to prove he didn’t get a fair trial and the judge has to approve it.  So, you don’t have to do anything.  The ball is in his court, so to say.”

So far, he has done nothing.

Herpes.

 

A Taste of Italy…Part 2

June 4, 2017 – Sorrento, Italy

After our full day of flight to Italy and a full day touring Pompeii and then eating and drinking wine, it was time to relax!  Sunday found us in bed, sleeping until the maid opened up our door at around 12:15 pm.  She was shocked to see us still in bed!  We did ask her to leave and that we would let them know when we needed her services.  She apologized profusely but after explaining about our long flight and time difference, she left still apologizing. Wide awake now, we decided to shower and dress and head out for something to eat.

The weather was perfect.  The sun was shining and there were so many people walking around the town.  We found a restaurant across the street from our apartment, La Fenice.  They were actually just opening up and they had a display of different fresh fish packed in ice. We were given the option of sitting inside or outside, we choose outside.  I also went up to the display case and ordered the sea bass.  We ordered a bottle of white wine and sparkling water.  The waiter was so nice and easy on the eyes!  We found out later he was one of the owners.  When we left, he insisted on taking a selfie with me!

The sea bass had been cooked in olive oil and lemon.  It was delicious!  The meal came with bread (their bread is out of this world and didn’t upset my stomach).  No butter is put on the table unless you ask for it.  The two guys sitting at the next table were locals.  They looked Mafia type, eating their afternoon meal before picking up their security check!  They both had the spaghetti and clams, which looked amazing.  After dinner, the waiter brought each of us a shot of limoncello.  We were pronouncing it “lemon cello” and we were corrected as it’s really called “LE moncello” the “i” has a long “e” sound.

We walked around town for a few hours exploring the different shops and checking out other restaurants as to where we wanted to have dinner.  Yes, eating and drinking were the priority and of course relaxing.  We walked down to the beach, which was wall to wall people and umbrellas.  The sand is black and because it isn’t very wide, like the beaches say in San Diego, people were literally crawling over each other!  There are shops and bars along the coast line and we stopped in for a beer and sat outside, enjoying the view.  Seriously, you would be a fool to plan a vacation in Italy and stay on your diet.  The food is just so flavorful, it’s hard to have a bad meal here not to mention the wine, every bottle we purchased was delicious.

Because Sorrento is a tourist town and a stopover for cruise ships, the streets are usually packed with people.  It’s a great place to people watch.  We discovered the weekends are not the time to enjoy working on your tan.  After walking down to the beach, we decided to follow the stairs back up.  Along the way, the view was extraordinarily beautiful.  From the different vantage points, we could see Capri Island, the Bay of Naples, and the plethora of umbrellas from above made for some awesome photos.  I will post pictures later after I figure out how to download everything.  All in all, it was a great day of people watching, exploring the town of Sorrento, and getting a little shopping in.

Italians are very hard working people.  The shops would change out their window displays on a daily basis.  The waiters and owners were always present so if you frequented a place, you actually got to know them and they would greet you warmly.  That evening we took Umberto up on his suggestions.  We ate pizza, again, at Ole Sole Amio where the proprietor, Maria, was just a doll.  She greeted us warmly with a buongiorno, and a kiss on both cheeks!  Imagine that!  She was also the head chef and her pizza was oh so good.  When we left, we told her we would be back.  We then walked up the road and stopped at a gelato shop where we both got a gelato to go and then walked around the main street.  Families, tourists, couples were gathered in many of the local bars, the street was closed to cars, so we were able to enjoy a beautiful summer evening slowing walking in the middle of the road, eating our gelato’s and taking in the sites.  There was entertainment along the way, a woman who was painted all white and stood like a statue, an invisible man who was wearing a hat and sun glasses, and musicians playing for change.

I had been here only two days and was falling in love with Sorrento and her people.  We went back to our apartment, full and happy.  We planned our excursion for the following day, a train ride to Meta to find out information on my grandfather and his family.

June 5, 2017

Another beautiful day in Sorrento.  I opened up all the shades and drapes in our apartment and walked out to our balcony to greet the day.  If I looked to my left, I could see the water.  I looked below and there was a produce truck delivering fresh produce to the restaurant that was just below us.  The sounds of traffic and people was music to my ears.  I couldn’t wait to set out to the train station and explore Meta.

The train ride to Meta was a quick one, 3 stops between Sorrento and Meta.  We even got live entertainment on the train.  A man with an accordion and his assistant who played the tambourine.  It was lively and fun and when the girl came around for tips, we gladly contributed.   When we got to Meta, we walked a few blocks and came upon the church where my grandfather had been baptized.  There was scaffolding  surrounding the building but it was open.  We decided to find the municipal building first and by mistake, we walked into a school.  We thought it looked like a government building and it took one of the teachers to explain, in English, that we were actually in a school!  We had a good laugh!  She directed us as to where we needed to go.

After walking what seemed like miles (my hips were killing me by now from all the walking we were doing) we came upon the municipal building just before noon.  In Italy, many businesses and government offices close at noon until 2 or 3 each day so we had just made it in time to put in our request.  The woman behind the counter took my information about my grandfather and told us to return the following Thursday.  Good thing we weren’t leaving until Thursday afternoon or I would have been out of luck!  We thanked her and left.  We walked around a few more streets exploring Meta, which sits on the water and is not as busy as Sorrento.  In fact, it was pretty quiet.  We decided to have lunch there (breakfast isn’t a huge deal in Italy so most times we didn’t eat breakfast).  We ate at a restaurant called “Good Times” that had seating inside and out but again, it was so beautiful out, we chose an outdoor table which was along the sidewalk.  The only downside to that was the barking dog in the apartment upstairs from the restaurant.  He was guarding his street and barked constantly.

I ordered spaghetti and clams this time and as an appetizer, we got steamed mussels.  All of which was, again, so tasty.  Two pints of beer came in very large steins but we managed to drink it all.  We walked back to the train station without stopping at the church.  I figured when we came back for the birth certificate, we could stop into the church to take pictures and see what information they had.

When we got back to Sorrento, I happened to walk by a clothing shop and proceeded to go and purchase some clothes and a new leather purse.  We were also scheduled to take a gelato making class that evening so we actually found the place where that was going to take place, it happened to be on the way to the train station.  We stopped by the grocery store and bought some salt.  Let me tell you about Italian salt.  It is what makes all their food so delicious.  It isn’t salty but seems to bring out the flavor of everything.  I had to bring some home with me!

Gelato Class

We took a gelato class that evening from Dave’s Gelato, of course we did’t make gelato, we made a lemon sorbet.  I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to make gelato but the sorbet was delicious.  I was chosen to do the measurements of the lemon juice and sugar water, which was in metrics, which I know not how to convert without a computer.  The class lasted about 45 minutes.  We left with a certificate, recipes, and two free scoops of the gelato from his store.

June 6th was another free day for us to do whatever we wanted.  Those free days were a little dangerous for me because I always wanted to go shopping.  The shops had some great stuff in them.  So I brought home some spices from a spice shop, and then we had to purchase Italian leather, so I got a soft, black leather jacket for “spring time” use.  We got all the grandkids Italian watches and t-shirts.  I saw these balloon pants that were popular in Italy and so because they were so comfortable, I got 3 pairs along with some shirts and blouses.  Hubby had been wearing this vest with all these different pockets and seemed to be weighted down by what he was packing into the pockets.  I suggested he get a “man bag” so we went to the leather purse shop and we got him 2 new man bags for him to carry all his stuff in.  I think I created a monster with those man bags!

June 7th – Capri

We got up early to meet the van that was going to take us down to the dock to our boat and captain.  As it was, there were about 24 people taking this tour with us but only 12 per boat.  We got the last boat and I’m glad we did.  The captain and his first officer were so nice!  We left the dock about 9:00 am and headed out towards Capri, which was about an hour away.  The weather was perfect, again with temperatures around 80.  Our first stop was the blue lagoon.  Some said it was a tourist trap but we didn’t care.  We wanted to experience Italy and this is how these men support their families.  We paid extra to board a small row boat which took us into a grotto under the mountain.  It is said that the Roman’s would come there to swim inside.  When the sun hit the water from the small opening, the water was a beautiful shade of deep turquoise.  Our steer person began to sing in Italian which echoed off the walls!  It didn’t last very long but the experience was well worth the money.  We boarded onto our speed boat again and the captain took us into the port of Capri.   We had four hours to spend in Capri to explore the island and try out their restaurants.  We stayed in the small town and found a restaurant were we had lunch and a nice bottle of wine.  We then walked around the small town and purchased some souvenirs, and found out about the legend of the bells.

“Years ago, there lived a poor shepherd on the island of Capri, the only son of a widow. The two lived in a rough shack and their only possession was a sheep that the shepherd would take to graze on the slopes of Mount Solaro.
One evening, the young shepherd stopped to gather flowers and lost sight of his sheep. He was petrified and wondered what would become of him and his mother without their precious pet.

Just then, he heard the distant sound of bells and ran toward it until he got to the the edge of a gulley. There, he was suddenly blinded by a bright light and Saint Michael appeared to him on the back of a white horse and told him, “My son, take this bell and follow its sound; it will protect you from harm”.
With these words, the saint gave the boy the bell that had been hanging around his neck.

From that day on, the shepherd’s life was one of abundance and joy and he had everything he could wish for.
The famous “Villa San Michele” was later built on the spot where Saint Michael appeared and the lucky bell became a symbol of Italy’s island of Capri…” (http://www.capribell.it)

I was exhausted by the time our captain showed up to pick us up.  In fact, we had walked over to where the boat would dock and I took a little siesta on one of the benches.  When we boarded the boat, the captain then cruised us around the entire island.  He showed us where the coral came from.  It grows on the sides of the mountain rock in the water and as the waves lapped up on the rock and pulled away, you could see the orange/red coral.  It was pretty spectacular.  He anchored so the one’s who wanted to swim in the Mediterranean could and we stayed on board drinking wine with the captain.  Well, the captain didn’t drink because he was driving, but he kept our glasses full!  When everyone was back on board, we went through the natural occurring arches and tradition has it that when you pass under them, you must make a wish and kiss the one you love.  The Italians are just romantics at heart.  We passed by Sophia Loren’s house which sits into the mountainside and was massively impressive.  We then headed back to Sorrento.  It was a full day filled with great experiences, one’s we will never forget.

The next day was another free day.  We went to Bougainvillea’s again for lunch and while sitting there eating yet another pizza, I just had to ask the owner, Rosa, about the recipe for the dough.  That’s when I saw their brochure about their pizza cooking class.  I asked her about it and she told me the class was usually on a Thursday but they moved it to Friday for that week, (which was tomorrow).  How lucky were we?  We signed up and paid for class.  I was excited!  I love to cook so anytime I can take a cooking class that is going to teach me something new, I’m all in.

Friday was a lazy day for us.  We slept in and then walked over to the market to purchase some lunch meat and fruit.  I made us lunch at the apartment and we pretty much just lazed it all day watching Netflix.  I know, we were in Italy and watching Netflix!  But we’re old and needed a day of rest!  Plus, we were going to be cooking and eating our pizza that night and I wanted to be sure I was rested up for it.

The pizza class was amazing.  The chef and Theresa (the owner’s daughter) were a delight to listen to as she explained everything in Italian and English.  There was a mother/daughter from Rome along with another couple from Michigan (who showed up late) and then my husband and myself.  One thing that Theresa had said referencing the mother/daughter team “A man should watch the mother and then marry the daughter”  So I had to tell her that that is exactly what my husband did.  He had known my mother before he knew me, so when we were introduced it was only logical that he marry me since he loved my mother so much!

So, the pizza dough was what I was most interested in learning to make.  Their dough is made 4 days in advance from using it.  They use two types of flour, 0 and 00 flour.  Of course, this was confusing for me because I know flour by white, wheat and gluten free.  So, it had to be explained as to where can I purchase 0 and 00 flour.  Come to find out 0 flour is our regular flour and 00 flour is pastry chef flour (thinner less coarse).  The yeast is not dry yeast but live yeast that can be purchased from a brewing distributor, beer brewing that is.  Once you knead it to the consistency it needs to be, you place it in a plastic container with a lid and place it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  If you don’t use it within 4 days, you can wrap it individually in plastic wrap and freeze it for a later day.

We were told when we are shaping the dough, never touch the middle only the sides.  The dough can be shaped into an individual pizza pie just by stretching out the sides by moving it around and around constantly.  If you touch the middle, it becomes too thin and may cause the pizza dough to have holes in it.  My nails were long and kept breaking through the dough and we all got a good laugh when they saw all the nail holes in my dough!  Chef fixed it for me and then we got to add our toppings.  I used mushrooms, smoked cheese and mozzarella, sauteed onions, prosciutto (parma) and tomato sauce made from basil, garlic, olive oil and plum tomatoes.  It went into the fire oven and it took about 5 minutes (the fire oven uses lemon and orange wood to give the pizza a little citrus flavor).  And then Bon Apetit!!  Damn, it was good!  We left with our recipe, a certificate, full bellies, and a plan to build us a pizza fire oven!

Saturday and Sunday were more free days to relax, eat, explore, and drink.  While we were there we purchased red coral, a case of limoncello (as of this writing, we still haven’t received it, reason being it supposedly got caught up in customs.  When we do finally get it, I wonder how many bottles will be missing!?) Wine, spices, leather, t-shirts, clothing, and I wish I had been able to bring home some bread!

Every morning we stopped in at Bougainvillea’s for Cappuccino’s.  Rosa made the best one’s.  Walking down the street, we had people calling out to us because now we had been there for a full week and were getting to know people.  We checked out real estate there because frankly, I would love to move to southern Italy where my DNA started and experience it year round.  It’s doesn’t snow there.  I want to learn to speak Italian which was such a beautiful sound when I would hear people speaking it.  I want to go there and write.  And who knows, one day we may just do that as my husband loved it as much as I did.  The Italian culture is so simple yet so exquisite.  Family oriented and friends are also welcomed into that circle.  I miss it every day since we left.

Monday evening we had another cooking class!  Yes, as I stated earlier, I love to cook and I wanted to learn everything I could about my ancestors and their cooking.  This time it took us a while to find the place and I’m glad we spend a good part of the later morning looking for it.  We walked, and walked, and asked directions and finally we found it.  We arrived a little early that evening and we were cooking with another couple from Manhattan.   They had been married the same amount of time as my husband and I only they were much younger.  They told us they lived in Manhattan for the experience.  Bravo to them!  We were working with Chef Antonino Aiello and he started us off with Italian meats and cheeses.  I learned that Parmesan cheese should not be used on pasta but used as an appetizer along with capaciola, salami, and parma ham.   He then served us Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine.  The menu was gnocchi, tomato sauce, and chicken cacciatorie and for dessert, tiramisu.   Of course the ladies got to do the cooking, which believe me, I had no problem with, and the guys got to write down the recipe as the chef dictated it to them.

Let me tell you, I was in heaven!  The chef was knowledgeable and funny!  He had worked at some of the 5 star restaurants all through Italy and then decided he wanted a simpler life. He opened his cooking school so he has more free time to go to the beach as he put it.  He’s also single ladies, so he’s looking!

Dinner was delicious!  Not only did I learn some new recipes which I’ve used many times since our return home, but found out one important fact about olive oil and EVOO.  We used a cup of EVOO in the chicken recipe and because we heated it up first (you throw a slice of onion in the oil and when it starts to brown, the oil is ready for the chicken) when every thing is ready, you still have a cup of oil in the pan.  The food doesn’t absorb the oil, it just gives the food more flavor!  Chef wants us to use EVOO but EVOO here in the states is much different than the EVOO in Italy, so I use my olive oil instead and I’m finding it tastes like the EVOO in Italy.

On our walk home that evening, we came across a very old stone structure that sits down into a grotto between the roads.  I couldn’t make out what it was so a friend had sent me a picture of it and had asked if we had come across it yet.  At the time we had not but as I said on the way home that night I happened to look down and boom, there it was.  I sent him a picture and asked him if he knew the history as we were unable to find out what it was.  Turns out it used to be a flour mill and when buildings started going up in Sorrento and the population increased, it caused more humidity which wasn’t good for the flour so it closed up and moved.  The structure is still there overrun by plants and trees and crumbling rock but standing there serene and full of history.  Oh, if those walls could talk.

The rest of our stay, we continued to visit the restaurants and markets we loved.  On Thursday, we went back to Meta and sure enough, they had my grandfather’s birth certificate and the address where he was born.  Kids were born at home in those days back in 1891.  When we asked where the address was the guy told us just down the street!  So we took a walk and found his street and his house!  I took pictures and my imagination started running wild.  What it must have looked like back in 1891 and that it was still standing!  It was bittersweet because I really did not want to leave.  I wasn’t ready to go home but alas, we had to get back to the apartment and pack up the rest of our stuff.  We stopped in at the church and went through the mound of books the priest had and walked around the church in awe.  It was so beautiful.  I purchased a cross to wear around my neck, though I’m not a practicing Catholic, it was a token that my relatives had been baptized here.

Our last night in Italy was spent in Naples to be closer to the airport as our flight left at 6:00 am.  Much too early for me but with an 8 hour difference from Colorado, it was really the only feasible option.  As we drove to the airport at 3:00 am, the streets were deserted with the exception of a few loose dogs running the streets.  It reminded me of the street gangs that would roam the streets while everyone else slept.  I could see where my relatives, who had settled in New York, continued the Italian tradition of markets, butcher shops, and ware wagons.  How family and friends would gather around large tables with an abundance of food and just talk over wine, beer, salami and pasta.  Oh, how I was going to miss Italy.  This is where my roots were, this is where my DNA started.  Yes, this was the life I had grown up to know.  All the memories came flooding back into my mind all at once, the family get together’s every Sunday, hanging with my cousins who were really my first friends.  My eyes filled with tears but they were happy tears.  I was grateful for the childhood memories and more proud than ever to say, yes, I’m Italian and proud of it.  And though this was my first visit to Italy, it felt like I had been there before.  With my last name of Cafiero, it seemed everyone I came in contact with welcomed me home with open arms.  And yes, I felt more at home in Italy than I have anywhere else I have ever been.  I’d say there is something to that….so much so, I have vowed I will be going back.  Until next time….Ciao!

I would like to thank my husband for making this trip possible.  If it wasn’t for you babe, who knows when I would have been able to have this experience.  I love you!

 

A Grandmother’s Wish

It’s been over a year since I’ve seen my grandchildren from my son.  Not because of anything I did because trust me, I would love to be talking with them at least once per week to find out what’s going on in their little lives.  After moving to Colorado, it seems communication with my son became rare.  After all, he is just way too busy to spend a few minutes dialing a phone.  Of course, that wasn’t the case whenever he wanted a babysitter when I lived close to him.

What is wrong with children today?  As a single mother, when both he and my daughter were living with me, it was not an easy task.  I may not have been the most attentive having to work two jobs to support them because of dead beat dads not wanting to pay support.  But they had loving grandparents (my parents) who helped me out tremendously.  In fact, I couldn’t have done it without their help.  Funny, how soon they forget the difficulties of trying to afford rent, food, utilities, clothing, extra curricular activities when you are trying to accomplish it on your own.  I didn’t have welfare to fall back on because I owned a vehicle, and I couldn’t get a college degree because let’s face it, I didn’t have the time between working two jobs.

I was resented when I tried to have a life for myself.  They never liked any of my boyfriends so I basically stayed single after 1990.  I had a few long term relationships but ultimately, none of them ever worked out.  Hindsight is 20/20 and when I think back on it now, I’m glad they didn’t.  I wasn’t a perfect mother and I will never claim to be but I did do the best I could.

My son now lives next door to his father.  A father who always made up an excuse as to why he couldn’t take his son for a weekend.  I divorced his father because he was cheating on me.  Of course, today, he tells our son, that I was the one who was a cheater.  He told my son I would always bring a “change of clothes” to work with me.  Yeah, because I would hit an all women’s gym after my 8 hour day.  He would hit a bar with his buddies and come home drunk almost every night after I picked up the kids from day care.  Most Friday nights he wouldn’t come home at all because he got too drunk to drive home.  When he lost his job, he decided to become Mr. Mom and I was the one who brought home the pay check.  Now that would have been fine and dandy with me if I was a CEO of some company but I wasn’t.  I was a secretary for an airlines and though I made good money, it certainly wasn’t enough to support a family of four.  He, on the other hand, would go fishing or spend hours in a bar with his buddies after he dropped off the kids to my mother’s.  When I insisted he find a job, he found a job that paid $5.00 per hour telling me it was the best he could do.

After six months, he landed a job that took him to LA every day.  He made decent money, finally but he was never home.  I was still working so it was like I was a single parent.  I had all the responsibility of taking care of the home, the kids, and working full time.  One Friday night I asked him to try and make it home before 11:00 pm and he said he would try.  At the time, I wasn’t aware he was getting into San Diego at 7:00 pm and then hitting a bar until 11:00.  Until that night.  When he came home smelling like a brewery, I knew then he could give a rats ass about his family.  Prior to us getting married, he had come home one night with a hickey on his neck and then he was bragging to his brother and sister how some “Navy lady took advantage of him in an elevator”.  Unfortunately, these are the types of men that seemed to attach themselves to me.  My bad.

Well, my thoughts were, if I’m going to live like a single parent I may as well be one.  We decided to separate and two weeks after he moved out, he was living with another woman.  Now where to do you suppose he met her?

Life got a lot tougher for us now a family of three.  After he was living with this other person for about 9 months, he came to pick up our son one day and in his hand he had flowers for me.  It was our wedding anniversary.  He explained he missed his family and wanted to come back to us.  Here I was alone for these past nine months and he was playing house with another woman and now he wanted to come back?  I don’t think so. Mind you, he had also quit his job so he had no income and of course, he wasn’t paying any child support.  I received a phone call from his girlfriend that evening, crying.  She wanted to know why I would want him back after throwing him out 9 months earlier.  I told her she was crazy, it was the other way around.  He wanted to come back.  So, he had lied to her too.  Didn’t surprise me.

Several years passed and frankly, I was tired of him not paying child support so I started up a support group of other single parents unable to collect child support.  An attorney heard about my endeavor and he offered up his services for free.  We met at his office and he counseled us, about 20 of us showed up for the first meeting, about how to go about getting what our children deserved.  I wrote several articles and had them published in the local newspaper and came up with the saying of “deadbeat dads” and “not paying child support is the same as child abuse.”  At one point, he had bragged to me about renting a hotel room to attend “over the line” and the mound of coke they had dumped on the table.  But you can’t afford to pay child support?   I hired the attorney to get all the back child support and to get him to start paying for his son on a regular basis.  It was a fight, and he fought us all the way but in the end, we won.  Meanwhile, he had remarried, purchased a condo and was living high on the hog.  He took me to court to get his child support reduced however the judge increased it instead.  I became his #1 enemy and I didn’t care.  My concern was for my son.

When I was living with Kent, a boyfriend of 4 years, my son hated him.  Like I stated earlier, my children never liked anyone I dated.  Kent had gotten a job in Montana and asked me to go with him.  My son was in high school now and getting into trouble with smoking MJ and drinking.  I felt the move would be a good one for him.  We would be living in a small town and I was hoping to get him away from the bad element he seemed to be hanging out with.  My ex called and said he was going to report me for kidnapping.  Really?  I guess my son had called him and said he didn’t want to move to Montana even though I had sent his father notification that I was moving out of state, he was going to call the DA and have me arrested.  I called my attorney and he stated as long as I had given him notice and he had not replied, I could move him out of state.  So I did.

My son told me one day as we were driving our trash to the dump how much he loved living in Montana.  He had made friends fast because he was funny and he was good looking.  All the girls loved him.  I was a substitute teacher in his school and I remember one of my fourth graders came up to me and asked me if I was his mother.  When I stated yes, she told me I was so lucky because I got to live with him!

Kent and I didn’t last long up in Montana.  I bought my own house in town, I bought my son a 4 x 4 truck so he could continue going to his school and we settled in our new home without Kent nicely.  My son had his own little studio apartment down in our basement, which was finished and he had good friends to hang with.  Little did I know he was still smoking pot and drinking with his new friends but hey, that’s what some teenagers do and he never got in trouble. (I didn’t find this out until he was in his 20’s).

When my son graduated from high school, I asked him if he wanted his father to fly out and see him graduate.  He said yes and I allowed him to stay at my house.  Still a drinker (I had quit drinking) he would fill up a cooler every morning with his beer and continue to drink all day long.  He wasn’t working (again) because he had hurt his back so was on SSDI.  We got along during that visit.  He explained he was too old to stop drinking and I told him, you’re never too old to stop drinking.  My son then went into the Navy (another story for another time) after graduating high school and when he graduated bootcamp, his father and I attended his graduation.

His father had gotten the hotel room where he slept in the bedroom and I got the pull out couch.  He rented the car and left it with me because his flight out was before mine.  When I got to the airport (I hit a ton of traffic on a Sunday afternoon in Chicago) I didn’t have time to stop and put gas in it.  As it was, I had left in plenty of time to get to the airport but I wasn’t expecting the traffic I hit so I almost missed my flight. In fact, I would have missed my flight if I had stopped to put gas in the car.  Well, the wrath that began after that was unbelievable.  I was called every name in the book for not putting gas in the car and for him incurring the extra charges.  I had full intentions of paying him back however his reaction was uncalled for.  That’s when I started thinking about all the medical bills and dental bills this jerk never paid his share for and was ordered by the court to help with and he never did.  $3,000 for braces, my monthly medical costs that came out of my pay check, he never paid a dime towards.  So I said screw it.  And I never did pay him for it and he has held that against me ever since.

On that trip, I remember us sitting in the hotel bar one night after taking my son back to the base.  His father cried over his beer telling me how he wished he had been a better father to our son while he was growing up.  I told told him it wasn’t too late to start being a better father, that our son still needed his father.  How soon all this is forgotten.

So now the story is that I was the cheater, I was the bitch, I was the reason my son never got to have a relationship with his father while he was growing up.  Amazing how the story has changed.  Now I’m the bad guy and he’s the good guy.  He was the poor soul that was refused a relationship with his son because I was such a bitch.  So, now my son has it out for me.  The person who has always been there for him no matter what.  I supported him not only mentally but financially his entire life.  I have lent him money for attorney’s, for purchasing a new vehicle, for airplane tickets, for whatever he needed or wanted.  Silly me.

And now, he and his ex wife are refusing to let me see my grandchildren.  Grandchildren I babysat for, kept overnight, read bedtime stories to, walked them in the park, spent lots of time with when I lived closer.  And as I did for my son when he was younger, I am doing for my grandchildren now, fighting.  Since I can’t seem to get any where with either of them, my son or his ex wife, very ungrateful people, I have to take it to court.  I have to exercise my grandparent rights through the courts because they refuse to allow me to see my grandkids in the state where I live.  My grandchildren have the right to see me and spend quality time with me in my own home.  They have the right to get to know their cousins in this state, their aunts and uncles.  They have the right to know I did not abandoned them because I moved away.  It is selfish of their father, my son, to not allow us to continue our relationship because of reasons only known to my son for his sudden hatred of his mother.  This is the thanks you get when you give up your life for someone, for loving someone unconditionally.

Ironically, the attorney I hired is the same attorney that went after his father years ago for back child support! No one seemed to have the ex daughter in laws new address as she blocked me via phone and facebook.  My son wouldn’t give up the information either.  Which I really don’t understand.  Someone who cheated on him and broke up his marriage and he is protecting her?  That’s okay, I was born at night but not last night.  I found her and now she can be served and we can finally get down to business.  The business of letting my grandchildren know I love them and miss them and will do everything in my power to let them know I will fight for them no matter what.

UPDATE:  8/11/2017

Court was on Wednesday and the judge decided to side with the parents, my son and ex daughter in law.  No visitation in Colorado because they both did not want it.  Understandably, however, I still can not get over the fact they both lied to in court after swearing to tell the truth!  To say I was not a substantial part of their lives, that I had only been with them a total of 15 days throughout their lifetime, to say when Matthew would act up “What’s wrong with that kid?” were all lies…I have always been on Matthew’s side and would never speak about any of my grandchildren that way…but you know what they say, the truth will prevail.  When they are older, they will know the truth.  Those papers with their mothers declaration on it, will be attached to my last will and testament.  They will see exactly how their mother spoke about me.  As far as my son goes, he’s dead to me.  From now on, we do not purchase anything for these two grandkids.  What they will get though is a savings account, in their name, and every holiday, every birthday, we will deposit money into their account until they are 18 years old.  I will send them a card and let them know how much I have put into their account for them.  I will also be writing them weekly letters and keeping them in a box.  If I happen to die before they turn 18, these will also be given to them.  This way when they are older, they will be able to read about their Nana’s life and how much I thought about them and loved them.  So, even though I will no longer be a part of their lives and get to see them grow up and mature, they will eventually find out just how much I loved them and missed them.  In the end, it will be my son and ex daughter in laws loss, and one day, the same thing just may happen to them.  I am in the process of writing another blog post detailing everything that happened and everything that was said in court.  I am waiting to get a copy of all the paperwork so I can give direct quotes.  Oh, yeah, and now the ex daughter in law wants me to pay for her lawyer fees and lost wages.  Gee, wonder how she is going to squeeze blood from a turnip…I have no income..good luck with that one…you money hungry bitch!

A Taste of Italy…Part 1

I haven’t written in awhile because so many things have happened in May and June 2017, I just couldn’t keep up!  So many dreams came true for me, one’s I had been hoping for for a very long time.

May, 2017

I finally graduated from college with a BA degree in Creative Writing/English.  I graduated Cumma Sum Laude, which for me, was a very big deal.  It was a goal I had decided upon when I first enrolled in college back in 2012.  I was going for a 4.0 but ended up with a 3.96, close enough in my book. My husband and I flew out to New Hampshire so I could walk.  I didn’t have to walk but I felt the need since I had worked so hard and gave up so much of my free time in order to achieve this dream.

My friend, Carolynne from New York drove out to celebrate with us and even though we really didn’t do much sight seeing, we enjoyed the time we had with each other.   Both her and my husband cheered me on as I walked up to get my diploma.  My daughter watched it live on computer and was able to snap a picture of me as I was handed my plaque from the President of the college.  I had four honor cords around my neck and my cap was decorated with “Finally” and “It’s Never Too Late”…all blinged out!

When we got home, it was time to prepare for our honeymoon/60th birthday/graduation trip to Italy.  Yes, that’s right.  It was really my 60th birthday present from my husband however because I was still in school at the time, I had to postpone it.  I made all the arrangements in January and then just before we left, I booked the tours we wanted to take.

June, 2017

We flew out of Denver on Thursday evening June 1st.  The airline was Lufthansa and the flight was a very pleasant one with the exception that our seats were in the middle of the plane.  It was one of those planes that had two seats on either side of the airplane and then 4 seats in the middle.  I was a little scrunched but was able to get a little sleep.  They fed us dinner and breakfast and all the wine we wanted to drink.  The flight took 10 hours to Munich, Germany where we then had a 4 hour layover.  We drank beer and did a little shopping waiting for our flight to Naples.  We finally took off and the plane was packed with weekenders going to Italy for the weekend!

Once we landed in Naples, we didn’t have to go through customs which was a little disappointing because I wanted an Italy stamp in my passport book.  But since we didn’t have anything to declare and we were both exhausted, we went looking for our driver.  Found our driver who was standing holding a sign with my name on it.  I felt so honored!  He was happy to see us and guided us to the car.  Once in the car and on the road, it became very obvious why my husband did not want to drive in Italy!  More about that later!

It was a holiday that day, Republic Day, which is like our 4th of July, so traffic was heavy. We had to go through several tunnels to get to Sorrento, which was our final destination and about an hours drive from Naples.  During the drive our driver made light conversation which was nice because not only were we exhausted but we were also excited.  I was finally here.  The place where my DNA started.  I looked around at the old apartment buildings, the groves of citrus trees, and all the people on motorcycles or scooters.

We had rented an apartment because we decided Sorrento would be our home base and we could venture out from there.  The place was called Corso Italia and the girls in the office were super nice.  They spoke English, thank God, and we went down the street to our apartment.  We were on the first floor and the big, heavy wooden door and old fashioned lock was a little difficult to maneuver but my husband got the hang of it.  We unpacked our suitcases and decided to find a restaurant to eat before calling it a night.

Bougainvillea’s

The first place we ate at was called Bougainvillea’s.  It was on the main strip, right down from our apartment.  We had no idea at that time that this restaurant would become one of our favorites, not just for the food, but for the people who worked there.

As you walk into the restaurant, to your left is a huge selection of homemade gelato which had so many flavors I’m not sure how one could decide what they wanted! Then also to the left as you walked further in, was the pastry cabinet which housed Italian cookies, pastries, cannoli’s, pies and cheesecake.  The coffee bar was after that and then a huge room that opened up with tables and linens.  In the very back was a fire pizza oven.  On the right of the walls was a fountain of water which was very calming to listen to while you ate.

I ordered a pizza (of course) that had roasted veggies on it and my husband ordered a meat pizza.  In Italy, everyone gets their own pizza which is about the size of a dinner plate.  My first bite, I was in heaven.  The flavor of the sauce, cheese and veggies were out of this world and the dough was very light but the flavor is one I just can’t describe.  I had to have the recipe!  I did not finish mine and ended up taking it back to the apartment.  But as I looked around at the other customers, each were enjoying a bottle of wine, and eating all of their pizza!  There was no rush to eat and get out as it is in American restaurants.  In fact, we had to ask for our check.  In Italy, they want you to take your time, enjoy your conversation and food and whenever you are ready, then you can leave.  The waiter was very accommodating and friendly.

When we got back to our apartment, I crashed.  I don’t even think I changed into my PJ’s, that’s how tired I was and we had to get up early the next day to meet our guide who was driving us to Pompeii and Herculeanen.

Saturday, June 3rd

The alarm rang way too soon but I was excited to finally get to see these amazing sights first hand.  We showered and dressed and walked down to Bougainvillea’s for a cappuccino to go.  They weren’t opened yet, but the owner, Rose, said no problem and she made them herself.  The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too humid.

We walked down to the property management office to wait outside for our guide.  A young man pulled up in a Mercedes Van.  Umberto was our guide.  A young, Italian man who lived with his girlfriend and they were both raising their 18 month old son, who was named after one of the men in the family.  He was so full of knowledge and planned our trip well.  He took us to Herculeanen first where he gave us 90 minutes to tour.  Remember, it was about an hour’s drive to the place so we were able to converse the whole time.  He asked us questions about America and we asked him questions about Italy.  He gave us some very good advice about the food and how to decide what to order from which restaurant.  Like, only get pizza from a pizzeria and only get gelato from a place that only sells gelato.    He asked how we felt about Trump which I found amusing because most Europeans get their information from their news, which, if it’s CNN, then we all know most of it is made up shit!

When we got to the sight, we were going to hire a guide to take us through but after waiting 15 minutes for the one we choose, she decided to do the tour in Italian because most everyone there spoke Italian.  We decided to go it alone but as we walked closer to the entrance, we saw a kiosk that was renting iphones and headsets.  We soon found out that for 12 Euro, we could get a tour by renting the iPhones.  She showed us how to use the devices and we went on our way.  What a huge savings that was…the guide wanted 100 Euro to take us on the tour and this only cost us 12 Euro.  Please if you decide to do this tour, just rent the iPhone tour, it’s cheaper and you can go at your own pace.

The sight was amazing.  I was floored by the depth of ash that had covered that small, rich town.  Bones were still in place of the people who tried to escape into these, what looked like garages, to escape the ash but ended up burning to death.  The structures were built with such precision, that the walls were still standing as were the fresco’s still painted on the walls.  Fountains, tables, urns, cooking holes, and art work were all still intact.  The sea today was much further out than when Mt. Vesuvius  erupted.  The sea had been right up to where the city started but so much had been eroded.  The tunnel we had to walk through to get to the city was huge and you could still tell it was made of ash.  I can only imagine the effort it took to excavate that entire site.  We left in awe of it.

Our next stop was Pompeii, which was much more extensive than Herculeanen.  We, again, rented the iPhone guides to take us through this city.  It was amazing to see the town square and the justice center, where the columns were still standing.  The streets, which at the time the city was prosperous prior to the volcano erupting, you could still make out their water/waste system.  The streets were very narrow and I’m guessing only horses could fit through there.  Again, buildings, walls, frescoes, courtyards, fountains, pottery, tables, were all still in place.  This sight was one that took a little longer to go through but Pompeii was a very large city with not just rich Romans but poor ones as well.  All the while, visible at both sights, Mt. Vesuvius sat in the background.  Today, just a hole in the ground but laying dormant until she decides to awaken again.  The last time she erupted was back in the 1940’s and people still talk about it today.

When we finished up with Pompeii, Umberto gave us an option.  Did we want to go visit the hole in the ground or did we want to do a wine tasting?  Hands down, wine tasting and lunch!  He made reservations for us but we got there a little early, so he gave us a tour of the winery.  The wineries vineyards were extensive and in between the rows of grape vines, the owner was growing vegetables.  All in the Vesuvius dirt which was very fertile.  The vegetables were used in their restaurant and all GMO free and pesticide free.

Our table was by the window where a nice breeze flowed in.  The restaurant was hopping with conversation, groups of people, couples, speaking all different languages.  It was a five course meal with different wines accompanying each meal.  The food was fantastic and the wine was superb, so good, we purchased a case of it to be delivered to our home.  The Tears of Christ (Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio) a very popular Italian red wine went well with the pasta dish we were served.  I can’t even remember all the names of the wines we tasted I just know we loved them and so we asked if they could ship them to us.  Thankfully, they could!  When I receive them, I will be sure to update this blog with the names.  If you are a wine enthusiast, you will appreciate the update.

On the ride home, we were tired and satisfied.  Umberto entertained us with more tales of Italy.  I didn’t realize when he was talking to us, that I would say “gotcha”.  In fact, I said it way too much after it was brought to my attention!  Umberto said to me, “If you please, what does gotcha mean?”  I told him it meant “I understand what you’re saying.” We both started laughing.  He had never heard that expression before and he kept repeating it, “Gotcha, gotcha, gotcha!” See? I told him, you learned a new American slang word!  He was impressed and said when I write my review to please put that in there!  So I did!! Umberto dropped us off at the apartment and in parting we told him if he ever wants to visit Colorado, he was more than welcome to stay with us!

Part 2 – Taste of Italy – coming soon!

 

What in the World….

I have come to the conclusion there is no pleasing many people in this world.  Though we all would like to think living in peace and harmony would be the ultimate, it seems many go out of their way to disrupt this way of thinking.  Let me explain.

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind in my family.  Last Tuesday while I was lounging in bed early in the morning drinking my coffee, a news bulletin popped up. The headlines “Home Invasion turns deadly.”  The screen then went to an aerial view of a house and they mentioned the street.  Hesitating for just a second, I yelled down to my husband, who was feeding the dogs, to come up and see what I had just seen.  As I played back the news story, he informed me it was his sister’s house that was now showing on the screen.  Continue reading

What in the World….

Social Media

Heart of Gold

The other evening as I was perusing my social media account, Facebook to be exact, I came across a rant someone had posted from our local community.  Apparently, a neighbor is installing a fence around their property because their neighbor has an aggressive pit bull dog and they don’t want them on their property.  Understandable.  The person who was offended doesn’t own the home they are living in and decided to post a nasty comment with a picture of someone who was walking the property.  In the picture all you can see is a man in camouflage clothing walking on a large piece of property.  You can’t make out the face in any way, shape or form nor is their a company logo that is visible.

The renter is upset (not sure why) that a fence is going up and claims the fence is being installed on their property.  Fencing is a very big issue up here in this small Rocky Mountain town.  It prevents wildlife from grazing and it breaks up the scenery.   Plus, I don’t think many people who live up here have ever had their land surveyed unless they plan on putting up a fence.  My reason for bringing this up isn’t because of a fence, it’s because I was appalled at all the nasty comments being flung at this person who is a part of this community!  One which was surprising to me was the director of a children’s center who apparently is leaving the community and feels she has the right to tell someone to F… off… (hate to say this honey, but reputation follows you).

This has happened to me in the past from people who don’t know me.  I remember twice posting something in a few community pages.  Once I had purchased a ring on a community garage sale site and the poster had lied to me about the ring (the size, the stone, the setting).  I asked her for my money back, after I took it to a jeweler, and I would return the ring.  The person blocked me, called the police on me (saying I threatened them and then that my husband had threatened them) neither was true.  I simply asked her for my money back.  I got attacked from several people in the community that I should just suck it up and keep the ring (which didn’t fit because she lied about the size).  I basically told them to mind their own business.  Because this woman was a single mother and from what I could guess had already spent my money on something else, the people who were not involved in the transaction came quick to her defense.  This surprised me because I was now out $50.00 for a fake ring that the “silver” was peeling off the band!  I wrote a note to the admin of the community page and because she and the person I was trying to get a refund from were friends, she too, told me to suck it up and then proceeded to block me from the page.  And exactly what was it that I had done to deserve this type of treatment?

I found the woman’s address and mailed her back her ring.  I told her to keep the money, karma would get her in the end and that it was apparent she needed it more than I did.  It was the first and last time I purchased anything from anyone in this community.  I saved all the Facebook posts, all the nasty comments just in case the police decided to come to my door (which they didn’t).  Here I made a simple transaction, and the community came down on me like a pack of wolves.

The second and last time I was attacked by community members is when my husband had done a favor for a community member who later posted a nasty, unappreciative post on the community page about how things weren’t done “her” way.  She’s a control freak and a man hater, so why would I expect anything different from her?  The point was that we had helped her out on several occasions and this was our thanks.  So I posted a vague post about how we had been very helpful with not only our time, but money to help out many community members and she was one who wasn’t appreciative.  Basically, she shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and maybe this was one reason why her life wasn’t going like she wanted.  Negativity breeds negativity.  She was always posting shit like “love and light” and I told her (without mentioning her name) she should practice what she preaches.

The admin on the page posted how my post wasn’t boosting positive in the community. I told her to move along if she didn’t like what she was reading, to by pass it, change the channel.  I didn’t care that she was an admin.  My post wasn’t negative it was stating a fact and life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.  She didn’t like that.  So her “god” power came out and she kicked me off the site.  No big loss.  I went to the uncensored page and reposted it.  And reposted on another community site where all the holier than thou’s came out in the droves.   I was called everything under the sun, attention whore, if you are a true giver you don’t need to boost about it, etc. etc.  Nasty, vile people who live in my community who feel real brave behind their computers.  Challenging them I said, let’s set up a meeting in a public place so you all can say these things to my face, I’ll even buy the beer.  No one, of course, took me up on it.  Scared, gutless, little punks.  I deleted myself from all the community pages because I no longer care to know these people.  And what a relief it has been!

Which brings me back to my point.

The original poster, who was the owner of the fence company, posted, “This bitch is crazy and got her post removed because she is psycho! Mind you own fucking business, you white trash renter. Who fucking cares if your neighbor is putting a fence in to keep his dogs safe from your aggressive pit bull.” Not only were other people’s comments just as nasty but all the wanna be lawyers came out of the wood work too.  How it was illegal to post a picture of someone on social media without their permission (as I stated earlier, you could not see this person’s face).  How a woman who raised a disrespectful teen is ranting about how disrespectful everyone else is being towards her, oh and the one I really liked “the normal angst of a teen saddened to see a fence and dramatic because it reminds her of a wall. Keep in mind that the executive parts of the brain are not fully formed until 22-24 years old, plus she has been in the public schools and might not understand why she has a problem with fences and walls.”  Yes, not just the wanna be lawyers, but the wanna be therapists!!  Small town people at their best.  There was only one sane guy who thanked the mom for explaining the situation and doing the right thing, one out of over 100 comments.

What does all of these things have in common?  They all happened on a Friday night.  That’s right, nothing to do in a small town on a Friday night except sit in front of a computer, drink and hopefully some unsuspecting community neighbor will voice their opinion on whatever and being just a little buzzed enough, someone, who would argue with a fence post if they could, decides to cause a ruckus.  From my experience, there are plenty of people in this community who love to fan the fires.  I wonder if it makes them feel good about themselves?  How many sit in church every Sunday?  How many own businesses?  It is painfully apparent, these people have no life.  They have no one to talk to, to keep them company.  They are lonely, sad people.  They are so dissatisfied with their own lives, they have to try to bring others down with them.

Inquiring minds want to know…which community member will be trashed on social media next Friday night? From what I’ve been told, they pick them at midnight every Wednesday!

The Unloving Mother

When my husband and I became engaged, his mother was not happy.  I’m not sure why my soon to be mother in law hated me so much as I had done nothing to deserve her wrath.  In fact, prior to meeting her, my husband gushed about how we were so much alike, that she would just love me.  He was wrong.  The day after announcing our engagement, we received a phone call from her.  She was on speaker phone so my daughter, who was visiting at the time, got to hear the hatred in her voice.  Rather than congratulations, the first words out of her mouth were, “Why are you marrying THAT woman?”  My daughter was dumbstruck as was I.  My husband calmly told her because he loved me.  Of course, this wasn’t good enough for her.  So rather than her be happy for us, she condemned the union and continually condemned it up to and after her death. Continue reading