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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Remembering Mother

20th December 2011
Dear Cassi,

A picture of my mother as she
 would want to be remembered. 
Today I lit a candle in memory of my mother’s death. I observe the anniversary by the lunar calendar so the date changes every year, but the feeling is the same. I spent much of my day baking corn bread for a  mental health group, and I know that my mother would have thought that a fitting tribute. If there is one thing she loved it was to bake and share her baking with the world.
I would think it wrong to dwell like this, but I’ll give myself a few moments. The sun has set and the waxing darkness fits my mood as I sit in the dim light. This is a time for celebration for most, but the air is cold and there is no light labor for a winter.
In this a modern time there is no true season to that strange human animal and we spend our time wondering if retirement will come before our bodies give out. They say youth is wasted on the young, but who does the wasting? I spend my youth in hard labors and will spend my middle age there with little but the dirt on my hands and the perspiration on my cheeks to show for my works.
It is winter for us, Cassi, and the year is born in that winter. So let us hope that spring is all the things they speak of in its warm blossoms. How I would love to fall on to the warm grass and sit sleeping in the sun for a time. I feel as if my body is made of bedrock and carrying that stone has grown so hard.
The will to move on is all I have left to me in this dark place, but it burns like the fires of a great boiler driving me on against the hard currents. One day I will find what I journey for in this cold world. One day I will see the warmth that I once knew blossom again and grow.
Often folk look back and see better times. “The good old days” are things that live in camp stories. If things were always so much better in the past then why do we live for change? I know that things look better as you leave them, that the world of the past looks better than you know, but my honest finding is the future is the only place I have to go.

Stay safe, Cassi.

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What to Do?

22nd December 2012
Dear Cassi,
A man called me today wanting help with his twenty year old daughter. This is not to say that he called me but rather that he called my shelter hoping to find a way to impress upon his child the life of less fortunate folks. He did not tell me what sin she had committed that lead him to this idea, but I could tell he was at his whit’s end full of anger and frustration.
“This behavior needs to stop,” He said over and over. As a payment for this tour of the underworld he said he would buy groceries for the program. Mind that I start my shift at eleven in the evening and so this was the middle of the night. Normally, and by normally I mean during the day, I would refer this man to the donation department but the middle of the night is an inconvenient time for them.
I explained to this man that we can accommodate his need, but that he would need to call back during the AM hours. I told him what kind of program we run and what we do for the homeless. I further put forth that there were much poorer programs with less amenities, privacy, and lower quality food.

He then asked what he should do, and I was stunned by the request but made to answer him as best I could. I explained to this concerned father that he needed to take a stance of mutual respect because people you show no respect to will never properly respect you. He should make it clear that what he wants is not good because he wants it but because he honestly believes it is good for his child.

I told him he should be open to what she says and understanding. Further, I said that he should not expect her to change overnight but only to do better. Without knowing what she did I could only say so much.

In this world things are hard a family mending is tricky. I know this better than most as I have as little to do with my own family as possible. Sometimes we need to be strong and face the ugly truth. I know I did and it was the first real step to a better life.

Stay safe, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, November 11, 2013

Furry Lullabies

15th December 2012
Dear Cassi,
Almost the whole of my day was consumed by sleep and here it is I have work tonight. When I finally got out of bed Hide and Caramel crawled into my arms and made clear that they needed some companionship. These two of my four kittens are the more affectionate fur balls.
Hide with is pink nose and black and white pelt is one to rub against my face. He nibbles at my lips if left to roam around my physique and often finds a place so sit and purr on my shoulder. I often feel the wet touch of his nose when I sleep as he purrs for me a lullaby.
Hide and Caramel also have a love for jumping into my arms through use of my pant leg as a ladder. This action leaves a line of red marks on my legs that itch. I have never look after cats so small as this and it is a new experience but they are happy to be off the street and safe in my arms.

May your lullabies be as sweet as mine,

Richard Leland Neal

Friday, November 8, 2013

Paper and Poop

14th December 2012
Dear Cassi,
Today I donned gloves and took to tossing out the cat’s mess. The little things had pooped on some things I can never replace, but then if those things meant anything to me why were they on the floor?
Nothing helps a fellow to let go of the past more than cat poop. The first yearbook I ever owned from grade school was pooped on and in the trash it went. Paper and poop do poorly to gather, I’ll grant that even poop had a hard time standing up to pee. More than one thing has been trashed as it has been peed on.
I love my little kittles and would spend all the day with them if I could but cleaning up after them is work for healthy folk and my depression has simply got to go. The dark looming issues that stand over me are so strong in nature that they are like chains.

Here’s do being a good pet daddy,

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fish Mouths and Vacuum Bags

27th November 2012
Dear Cassi,
I spent what little free time I had today clearing out my bedroom. For the last few months it has been nothing but a room to store my bed and other piles of junk. Now the detritus is home to fish moths.
The little silver wingless insects are all around the dust and decay that is their food and I can only scrape at the trash that has become so much a home for them. It took hours to make ready for the vacuum as the broom had much work to do, but when the time came my vacuum did nothing.

The old dirt devil’s engine fired but the brush was still as death and the belt that turned it had now long snapped. This is the world of depression, little sister, to find that all things had sat so long they no longer work. The last time I went to use this vacuum the bag had been eaten to shreds by insects.
The bags I had in the closet to replace this had been eaten, holed, and covered in dust. To add insult to injury grocery stores in my area no longer carried vacuum bags. It took more than a week to get the vacuum running that time and by then depression had made me useless. 
How can a simple thing be so large an issue? When the energy of the body is little and the hours few every action is a trial. If I could clean six hours a day for a month without interruption I would have my home passable. Still, every time I start I run into delays.

Stay on top of things, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, November 4, 2013

Our Back

12th November 2012
Dear Cassi,
So I saw the back doctor today and found that once again I am extremely healthy for being a sack of lard. Apparently most people come to the doctor when they are in so bad shape there is nothing that can be done for them and I came to the doctor when the problem was just a nuisance.
My overall point being that the pain was not chronic but simply recurring and so it surprised folks that I was not in pain when entering the doctor’s office. It further complicated things that the doctor himself had some major back issues and had trouble sitting still for our interview.
In the end I thanked my luck that I was better off than him. He sent me home with some pamphlets and recommendations, but the largest change was a new perspective. I’m not all that bad off when compared to that fellow.

Live strong, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Friday, November 1, 2013

Cheap Cold

8th November 2012
Dear Cassi,
Out where I live cold is almost a joke, and the word freezing is applied to temperatures well above water turning to ice. Still, I had to wash the kittens who had rolled in their breakfast and were all a bit brown with gravy. Feeling a chill on my own skin I turned the heater on to seventy and forgot about it as it had to do so little work to keep the house at this temperature.
Pickles had left the house as soon as the cooler temperatures started and so was not home when I turned the heater on. When he came home he told me that the inspector had advised us not to use the heater until the ducting in the attic was fixed. The kick in the teeth here is that one, he broke the ducts, two, he refused to get the heater fixed because he pays the gas bill, and three, we have used the heater for more than ten years with broken ducting.
This I can place as another of his attempts to be cheap. Cheap at the cost of others has always been the Pickles way of living and here we are again. Well, I’ll run the heater anyway and he can get the ducts fixed if it means that much to him.

Never let them grind you down, little sister

Richard Leland Neal