The Marijuana Sitter

For the past few years, I’ve had the honor (?) of living next door to a trailblazer in the now legalized marijuana grow industry. While HIS grow has never been legal, because he exceeds by at least 20 times the number of plants he can legally grow and operates across the street from a daycare, we have had an uneventful and symbiotic relationship during that time. For the past two years, because he and his wife grew their family a bit, he has been renting out the house. This most recent set of tenants has been by far the most interesting, and in particular, a man I will call Louis, who is by trade, a Marijuana Sitter. This is my term based on the description of his job duties, he refers to himself as a “Roadie.”

My acquaintanceship with Louis began about a week before he officially moved out of the house next door. For about two weeks, I had noticed a new truck in the driveway, which was there consistently. There were always many cars parked in and around the house, but this truck kept returning. Sitting at the front of the truck at the top of the driveway, there was often a tall, thin man with thick, wavy, longish black hair and an unkempt beard, who smoked endlessly. Sometimes, I would sit at the bistro table in front of my house while he smoked in the driveway not more than 20 feet away, but we wouldn’t exchange anything other than a head nod. Had the backyard of the house next door not been continuing to fill with smelly trash wrapped in black plastic bags, we might not have ever spoken.

When the heat climbed to the mid-90s, the backyard started to smell, and the landfill next door became a problem for me. On my way to work one morning, I pulled over and walked up to Louis and introduced myself. We spoke briefly about the trash in the backyard and he begged me to call the city about it. He was eager to move the other tenant, a woman who was in the prostitution business with underaged children who smoked weed, out of the house as soon as possible. And he wouldn’t be able to call the police himself because he didn’t want to draw attention to himself (translated: outstanding warrants).

As Louis’ story about the happenings around the house over the past several weeks unfolded, I was quite surprised that it was only 9 months worth of trash stashed in the backyard that had caught my attention. Most fascinating was probably Louis’ job though. He is a marijuana sitter for a living. He travels around to grows and stays to help care for the plants through certain phases of growth. He gets paid quite a bit too. He also makes deliveries to parties and festivals. He gets antsy when he has to stay in one place too long, and in particular with a woman who would often take off and leave her underaged children at the house by themselves while he slept in the next room. His truck had Texas plates, but he explained that he couldn’t really go back to Texas because he has too many felony warrants there, but for crimes that are only misdemeanors in Colorado due to legalization of marijuana. He referred to several other acquaintances who were in the same situation, running from Texas and relocating in Colorado to avoid being charged with felonies. Having worked as part of the criminal justice system for the better part of the past 25 years, I found this an interesting unintended consequence of legalization. He was also thankful for the fact that he could carry a gun in Colorado since his crimes were not felonies here.

We had a good conversation. I decided that he was somewhat attractive except for the awful state of his teeth. He encouraged me to call the city and even the police, that I shouldn’t have to deal with all the garbage in the backyard, having two young children and all. After speaking with him for about 45 minutes, I thought that maybe the garbage in the backyard might have been the least of my concerns for the past several months, had I been wiser.

Now, both tenants are gone, and the owner of the house has pulled up a dumpster and the dirty work has begun. My other neighbor informed me that the owner would be removing the grow from the house permanently, as he had had Louis remove all the plants and equipment, and that he might even sell the house. At first, I was hopeful. Maybe a nice family would move in next door and I wouldn’t have all the constant car and person traffic, as well as the really smelly period just before harvest, when, before a few weeks ago, I thought hundreds of skunks were being slaughtered each summer. But then, isn’t there a saying about familiarity or the known versus the unknown?

Can He Be Our Dad?

We were headed off to the Dinosaur exhibit at the zoo last night, meeting a coworker and his wife and son. I received a text from him saying they were running about half hour late, so we stopped at a BBQ restaurant not far from the zoo. After a failed dinner – my kids ONLY eat hamburgers and french fries and tender shredded meat covered in tangy sweet BBQ sauce is abhorrent to them – we hopped back in the car to head to the zoo.

As we were pulling out, my daughter noticed an older man, dressed head to toe in camouflage, surrounded by backpacks, with a long, gray beard and wraparound sunglasses.

My daughter says from the backseat, “Momma, can he be our dad?”

“Who? That man with the long beard?”

“Yes. He looks nice.”

My heart broke in two right then. Like it always does when I’m overwhelmed by the crushing “you are less than because you are a single mom and your kids will wind up wounded” feeling.

“Honey, I think he’s homeless.”

“Well, then we can bring him home. He can live with us. He can be our dad.”

That put the cherry on top of my already feeling insecure parenting sundae. At the zoo, she reveled in the attention of my male coworker, begging us to each hold each of her hands and “jump” her.

We have a good life. Sometimes things can eat at you though. I’m still working on my heart of steel.

neelah-boots

 

When You Can’t Sleep…

My mind is racing and I can’t seem to quiet it. I’ve been up late these past few weeks focusing on exploring and expanding my two new businesses and I find it hard to shut off my brain at bedtime.

This evening, while purchasing 3 burger combo meals, I stumbled into the life story of someone who was dealing with a lot of pain. She was watching my daughter spin around a hand railing. My unique child, wearing knee-high black gladiator sandals with a pink leotard, tutu and tiara. The woman asked what my job was and I blurted out “I work for the State.” Brilliant. I clarified what I actually did “for the State” and she proceeded to share with me that her daughter had been murdered by the babysitter who cared for her nearly 30 years ago. She lamented that, despite the fact she had joined several support groups over the years, seen therapists, etc., she still found herself dwelling on it and talking about it even after so many years. That made a lot of sense to me. How could one forget or “put to rest” the death of their child?

At the end of her story, she started to tear up. She thanked me for doing the work I do. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone from the general public thank me for my work. I thanked her for sharing her story. And now it’s nearly 1 am and I can’t stop thinking about her. ❤️

Dog Days of Summer

I just googled this to find out what it really means as the phrase has become relevant to our current situation. As I type this, I’m watching a large, hairy, German Shepard lounging across my pleather love seat, chewing on her leg.

Ms. Naughty Pants, not her real name, is staying with us for two weeks. She has 11 nights left to be exact. She has by far been the most trying dog we’ve watched so far as part of our new pet sitting business. While her ears are the biggest part of her body, she doesn’t use them for listening. They are more for show, perched on the top of her head, always swiveling.

Physically, she reminds me of someone who may have a drug problem; thin, always scratching, and kind of anxious and jumpy, sometimes leaping off the ground several feet in the air to avoid a rock or a wrapper on the sidewalk. When I tell her to do something she doesn’t want to do, like to get off my bed or stop chewing on my daughter’s head, she talks back to me. Argues, really. The first time she did this, I responded. Like engaging a teenager who is trying to reason with me about why she should have an extra half hour on her phone. She would debate with me, at times matching my tone, and other times, escalating the argument by yelping at me or sending me a low growl. Now, I just give her “the look” and she usually turns around and storms off, only to return moments later to start all over again.

She is constantly trying to escape from my home and she tracks my daughter like a large rabbit she is trying to take out. When the kids are getting ready for school or for bed, or eating dinner, I have to tie her up in the kitchen so they can have a few moments to collect themselves. When she is tied up, her personality changes. She relaxes, stretches out across the floor and stares at us quietly as we move around. It’s almost like having the run of my tiny house boggles her mind. I really hope she settles in soon, otherwise it is going to be a long two weeks.

A few months ago, I learned about this business from a coworker. Kind of like a dog (and cat) bed and breakfast. The idea was appealing. I had run up several thousand dollars in veterinary bills trying to save our Whippet and since we have been living pretty much paycheck to paycheck, I haven’t had any extra money to put towards bills beyond the minimum monthly payment. Taking care of other people’s dogs while they are traveling seemed like a fitting way to restore our finances.

So here we are. My son, who loves most animals without thinking, and my daughter, who fears most animals other than bugs and worms, promoting ourselves on the website Rover.com as a one-dog family who treats our customers’ pets as if they are our own.

We’ve been pretty lucky so far, even with Ms. Naughty Pants, and after a day or two, our guest usually fits right in. We send tons of pictures and updates via the website so the dog’s family can see what they are doing during his or her stay. When it is time for him or her to leave, we have already grown attached and I feel a little anxious when I realize we may never see each dog again. All of the owners we’ve met have been exceptionally nice as well.

I am currently thinking through creative ways to attract more clients so we can keep a somewhat steady stream of guests. I’m thrilled that we happen to have a great yard and not very fancy furnishings. And since the large, illegal marijuana grow next door shut down this month, we no longer have guard pitbulls chained to the front of our neighbor’s house, which have be distracting for our canine guests. But that is another story for another time….

 

Micro-moment: My class

I just finished my second session of a class I decided to take this summer at the local rec center. My teacher approached me afterwards and said she was happy to see me come back, she wasn’t sure if I would after last week. I told her this was my special hour once a week all for me and I wasn’t giving it up, no matter how silly I felt.

As I left, I teared up. I love learning and I haven’t taken a regular class for me only in 7 years. I feel good but also really emotional right now. I love the safe space of my new class and the ladies I’ve met there.

Thursday’s Tomfoolery

I happened to open my phone’s internet browser this afternoon. Titles of the opened windows follows below. Who opened all of these windows? Who has been on my phone? When did this happen? Where are my children right now?

The Biggest and Largest Spiders in the World

World’s Biggest Jumping Spider

14 World’s Largest Spiders – YouTube

19 Most Unusual Houses in the World – YouTube

Fattest People Ever on Earth – Top 20 Heaviest People

Largest Jigsaw Puzzle – Most Pieces

The biggest organism on Earth

The World’s Tallest Tree is Hiding Somewhere in California

THE WORLD’S LARGEST FRUIT

Largest Sticker – Guinness Book of World Records

Who built the first building ever on Earth?

Earth House – Wikipedia

Watch the Age of Earth Clip – How the Earth Was Made

Is this 179-Year-Old Indian the oldest man alive?

World’s Oldest Child – Top Documentary Films

WEIRDEST PLANETS discovered by NASA’s Kepler Satellite

The Surprising Benefits of Being (Slightly) Crazy

(Admittedly, the last title is a window I opened recently.)

 

Immunity to Competence: Mothering at its Most Rational

So…my workplace offers coaching, and it’s available at no cost by a competent individual. I couldn’t say no.

We’ve been walking through this process – Immunity to Change – based on the book Immunity to Change: How to overcome it and unlock the potential in yourself and your organization, by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. Although I’ve never read the book, the coaching process I’m undergoing has introduced me to some fundamental principles around removing barriers that impede my potential. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of overlap between the personal and the professional when it comes to these, shall we say, challenging behaviors and belief systems. When I left off with my coach, we were testing some beliefs I have about myself. The primary belief system that I’ve honed in is my overwhelming and total sense of incompetence. To test this belief, my coach and I decided that I would engage in a baking project (not on taxpayer time). Based on my tastes, I think I’m a fabulous baker. I like experimenting with gluten-free ingredients and natural sweeteners. I was pretty confident I could carry off the baking project successfully, the first step in challenging my belief around my (in)competence.

If I were rational, I could look to a lot of tests in my life that would probably show that I’m competent, at least in a basic, getting by sense. I have raised two children, by myself, since their birth. They have made it 5 and 7 years in the world and they are still living. I own a home. I have a job that is probably as secure as they come categorically – we will probably not see crime go away during our lifetime. So what has gotten into me that makes me think that a baking project will provide me with proof that I’m a competent person? How ridiculous can I be?

Pretty darn ridiculous, and based on cupcake mastery, totally incompetent. I left out a MAJOR ingredient and forgot to set the timer on the oven. But thankfully, my mortgage payment left my bank account on Monday. What does this all mean?

I make dozens of decisions in a week – large and small – in response to life situations. Some recent examples:

“That repair is going to cost you $1,800. Do you want to schedule it?”

“Will that be whole milk or skim in your latte?”

“Momma, I hate you. Can I have a piece of candy?”

“If I do my homework, can I play Minecraft?”

“Momma, which boy should I marry?”

My burden is that the possible consequences of all these first world decisions weigh the same in my mind. If I repair the car, will it still break down, forcing me into more debt and leaving me homeless?

If I opt for the whole milk, will it put me on the path to unstoppable weight gain until I am too large to even leave my house for coffee? Will I go broke paying for coffee delivery and not be able to pay my mortgage and be homeless?

If my daughter is telling me that she hates me now, will she burn my house down at age 6? Will the cavities that this one piece of candy cause result in her being toothless? Will the dental bills leave me homeless?

If I let my son have 20 more minutes of screen time, will he be arrested for violating curfew at 10 years old and then progress into theft, vandalism, assault and finally murder? Will repeatedly bonding him out and paying his legal fees leave me homeless?

If my decision making leads to homelessness in every scenario, it is no surprise that my biggest fear revolves around my competence. And WHAT IS WITH my ultimate consequence of homelessness? My coach only has so much time and relevant expertise.

Just before I hit the “publish” button to expose my craziness to a handful of readers (who probably already knew I was off), I reread this, laugh uneasily and think, this is all really silly, isn’t it? I mean, I’ve never read about anyone whose child hated them, and then bang! Child burns house down and family is homeless. From what I know about people serving life for murder, their tipping point can’t be traced back to when their mom agreed to 20 more minutes of video games.

In any case, I need to get back to helping said child with his homework. He has a sort of capstone first grade writing assignment and he has chosen to write a story about a rabbit and a glue stick. He is so normal…

 

 

 

 

Was Mona Lisa a Momma?

I think it was her picture on the side of Cinzetti’s, an eat-til-you-die Italian buffet restaurant north of Denver, that sparked an intense conversation about the Mona Lisa on the way to church this morning.

Daughter: “Momma, I just saw the lady from my school! I just saw the lady from my school! Her picture was on that building!!”

Me: “I’m sorry, love. I didn’t see her.”

Son, flatly: “That was Mona Lisa.”

Daughter: “Momma, I saw Mona Lisa on that building! She was at my school!”

Son: “Mona Lisa is dead. She wasn’t at your school.”

(My son the buzz-kill.)

Me: “Honey, the Mona Lisa was painted in the 1500s, that’s like 500 years ago. She was painted by a famous artist named Leonardo da Vinci.”

Daughter, to her brother: “We learned about her!” Then, to me: “Is she still alive?”

Son: “She’s dead.”

Me: “No, in fact, no one was quite sure who she was, she was a model for the painter.”

Daughter: “Did she go to heaven when she died?”

Me: “Hm…I don’t know…”

Son: “Nobody knew if she knew Jesus.”

(My son the theologian.)

Daughter: “I’m going to find out. Momma, when you die and go to heaven, can you ask God if Mona Lisa is there?”

Me: “Um…sure. How will I get the answer back to you?”

Daughter: “Just tell God, and he will put it in me (exact words) whether she is there or not. Then when I get there, we can see her together. Was Mona Lisa a momma?”

Son: “Who knows. When you look at her painting, her eyes look at you wherever you are.”

(My son the smarty-pants.)

Me: “Just like Momma’s do. I see you wherever you are.”

I adjust the rearview mirror, gesturing with my fingers to my eyes and back to the mirror, where my son was looking at me.

“I’m watching you. Don’t try anything naughty.”

Both kids erupted in giggles and my son ducked out of view.

Love those stinkers.

This is Why Everyone Calls You Failed Head

Girl child hands me empty juice cup.

Me: “Can you take this to the kitchen, please?”

Girl child: “You take it. I’m not your servant.”

Me: “What??!!!” (Feeling like some guy is about to jump out from behind my couch with a camera and yell “You’ve been punked!”)

Me: “But this is YOUR cup!”

Girl child is gone. She returns momentarily with a ladder, yoga mat, skate board and a blanket, stating “You failed baby. That’s why everyone calls you Failed Head. Even I call you that.”

This is a pretty typical evening in my house after dinner. Boy child plays nearby on iPad and I stare listlessly into space while Girl child chatters. Sometimes I have a little energy left to play a game or run to the store or go for a walk with them. Sometimes. Chatter continues.

“Momma, what does ACPKTI spell?”

“Momma, tell me how much weight this baby doll can lift?”

“Momma, what’s after 19?”

Whispers, “Momma when are you going to fix her?” Gesturing towards doll. “She has blood all over her and she doesn’t know it.”

Walks back over where her dolls are laid out, surrounding various sized hand weights.

To the dolls: “Ok, who wants to go first? Do you want to die?”

To me: “Momma they are getting backtized [baptized] tonight at the workout gym.”

And then she yells “Hosanna!” as she runs through the house.

I would be the first to participate in some kind of experimental energy transfer clinical trial.

😑

Watching My Battery Drain: Microblog Monday

Picture this:

It’s my day off. My car’s check engine light has been on eternally and it is in the shop, being diagnosed. I am armed with my laptop and a coffee, ready to jump back into writing after months away. I could write enough to fill a book. And I forgot my power cord. It’s like someone took my brain and emptied it on the floor at Starbucks, the corporate Satan of coffee. So much to share, and only 31% battery remaining – no, 30%.

29%.

28%.

I can’t take the pressure!