Monday, 2 February 2015

One Year later

Well, what a difference a year makes.
Mark, Monti and I have lived in Missoula for almost a year.
And for the most part, we really do love it here. True, there is still the adjustment of going from living in a city in the South, to the valley/city of the West. But I have to say, it is coming.
I can't say we really fit in. Mostly because life has remain crazy.
For one, no sooner than we got settled that Mark's knee surgery date was moved to early July. This meant our summer was spend with Mark recovery from his surgery and the PT that goes with it. More about that later.
And then there is the ongoing battle with the VA to get me added to Mark's claim as his wife. You see, according to the VA, Mark is still single. Despite all of the paperwork and hoops we have jumped, he is still being paid as a single man.
But of course what made his recovery go so well, was not just the love and prayers of family and friends, but the love of one special little dog, Monti.
 The knee surgery was needful for not only was his ACL tore, but son was his PCL. The damage was far worse than even the doctor had thought. But we thank G-d for the amazing surgeon Mark had, for an amazing PT staff as well as living in an apartment that made Mark's getting about so much easier.
To be honest, it was a trying time. Like many men, Mark hated laying around. For the first few days, total bed rest. Then, going from a wheel chair to crutches, to walking on his own. It was tough on him, having to lean on me, instead of being able to take care of himself. But within a few weeks, slowly, he began to allow me to just care for him, realizing it wasn't a burden, but my loving him. it began a special time we cherished. Sometimes, G-d puts us in a place where we need to receive.
Today, my beloved has been released from doctor's orders and walks without a cane. He still needs PT to strengthen his knee, but it is getting stronger.
Thanks be to G-d for His Healing touch.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Home, Sweet, Home. Part 1

First, thank you to all who send messages of love, support and prayers to Mark, Monti and I. Especially those who continued to donate to penpal, despite the post here and there, but knowing all we have gone through.
The beginning of February, we lost internet usage where we lived. This alone almost pulled the plug of this blog, but Mark found various cafes that had free Wi-Fi, so I could keep it up somewhat. We were also in the middle of looking for an apartment. Thanks to the VA, we had a Section 8 voucher in order to get us a place of our home.
While we received it in October, we began to hit walls when we learned that, even with a voucher that means, the land lord would receive their rent, because of the eviction in October 2012 still on record, no one would rent to us.
And then the middle of December, a dear lady from Missoula, the city that the VA wanted to move us to, stepped in and began to help us break down walls. So many people say "support our veterans," but this lady came beside us and began to kick in door. It was this dear lady who went to very door of the Missoula Housing Authority and asked the director to consider helping is get a apartment, to be willing to give us a second chance.
Bless her sweet heart and the director of Housing, they did meet us, talk to us and was willing to work with us.
Mark and his VA social worker wrote a letter to our former landlord, asking if he was willing to work with us as we began to off the past-due rent. He was not only more than willing, but gave us a very nice recommendation, saying we were very good tenets and the only problem was that we couldn't pay the rent. A  copy of this agreement was send to Housing, so they could see we were indeed working off the eviction. But the progress is slow and it meant a long wait.
The beginning of January was a dark period for us. We really needed a place of our own and yet we could not find a place that would overlook the eviction. Mark and I worked hard not to take our black mood out on each other, but sadly angry words would be exchanged. But more often than not, we hung on to each, and to G-d.
There were so many times we wanted to give up, but we knew there where wonderful people praying for us as well as with us. Having not heard from Housing, we were beginning to think this application had also had been turned down.
Thus, I began once again looking for Section 8 apartment that would take the voucher and overlook the eviction.
But renewed hop came the second week of February when, after many teary phone calls, we finally began to get answers. There were a few forms (back ground checks from Virginia, etc.) that Housing was waiting from. But Missoula had indeed approved our application and was willing to give us a home.
Finally! Our own home.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Fire Tower Coffee House

It has been a few days since I'd been here. And we are without internet, so I whenever we are about, I grab a few minutes.
The nice thing about going to coffee cafes is Mark and I are beginning to meet people in Helena and in Butte. While we are still planning to move to Missoula, it is nice to have friends in other cites.
Such as Fire Tower Coffee.

Right in the heart of the downtown Helena area, Fire Tower is an excellent coffee shop in downtown, with super friendly folks behind the counter. Wide variety of options. Mainly a coffee house, but good breakfast and lunch items. We have enjoyed the amazing grilled cheese sandwich, chicken soup with wild rice and my personal favorite, the tomato-basil soup.
And you have to understand; I can't stand tomato soup.
Mark and I found Fire Tower about two months ago and it has become our favor coffee house.
Pity we can't take Fire Tower with us to Missoula.
Locality own and run, it has a laid-back, down-to-earth warmth, reflects its owner, Nord Johnson, who is as warm and inviting as the coffee house itself.
So now, whenever Mark has an appointment at the VA hospital, I hang out at Fire Tower, enjoying a bowl of soul (one of Nord's special coffees) and either work on the blog or now even paint.
Fire Tower in many ways is a slice of Montana, the warmth and openness of the people Mark and I have been blessed to meet.
Montana still doesn't feel like home.
But Fire Tower has gone a long way in making us feel welcome and wanted.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

I am So Over Snow

Well, I can at least report, that since my last post. There has been no more snow.
But it is still March.
Yes, the snow is beautiful, but all you look at after day, after day....for weeks on end, it grows old rather quick.  
The past few days, we have actually had almost Spring type weather. We are even walking about without jackets, though they are always handy. This afternoon, while driving home from an appointment, Mark and I actually spotted Elk.
Have to keep my camera handy.
Here is Montana, that is a clear sign of Spring; the Wild Life coming out once again, looking for food. Which includes Bears. So now I have to add a can of Bear Mace to warn off any attack from tall, furry beings.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

March 2; Snow, Oh Joy

Every once in a while, in my declaration that I hate snow, I am reminded that I now live in Montana.
Snow Country.
This is the snow fall this morning, as I was on the phone with my sister in Boston.
Who reminded me she and her husband will be out to visit us around August.
When there is no snow.
I understand fully.
And it is hard on this Bipolar human, I can only imagine the thoughts going through my little guy's mind....
This picture was taken a few days ago. The snow would cover him now.
I am blessed with friends and family who ask how I am doing, referring to my mental state. The dark, snowy months of Montana are crude on those of us who suffer from any form of depression and there isn't enough vitamin D in the world to counteract the depression. For me, the added stress of waiting for Section Housing as well as not getting out much, only adds to my dark moods.
Dark moods I fight full-time to keep under control.
Mark is great. He gets me out of the house as he cans. He allows me to vent when I feel the walls close in.
And then there is the love of our little dog.
I have also started a daily reading from "GateWays To Torah," by Rabbi Russell Resnik. Mar and I had the honour of meeting Rabbi Resnik several years ago and when the book was release, he not only gave us a copy, but signed it.
I shall share from the book in the days to come.
Soon it will be time for me to go upstairs and make Mark's lunch and send him off to work.
In the snow.
Oh joy.

March 1, Memories and Snow

Well it's March 1.
Not really; I write my post on a Word Document and cut and paste it to the blog when I get a chance to get on line.
I just looked outside my bedroom window and it is snowing.
But this is Montana and snow is part of the course here.
However, the state of Montana hasn't had this much snow in five years, so it is somewhat of a record.
We literally have to clear a patch for Monti to "do his business." It is so cold, he has to wear a Parka outside to visit his little Out House.
Harder is spending Mark out in this stuff to go to work. Not only does the temps drop, but the roads are slick.
I am thankful Mark has a job, but I will be even more thankful when he doesn't have to work nights, let alone travel in this weather.
Today was a quiet day, my thoughts on my dear friend and big brother David Walton. He would have been 57 years old today if he had lived. I give thanks for the memories I have and rejoice he is in heaven, his suffering over. The pain is less, but it still hurts.
Last week, we looked at an apartment. It was an "Green Apartment" everything recycled. It took a few minutes for it to grow on us, but we came to really like it. It is dog friendly and has several doggie walk paths as well as parks to take the little guy.
It's small, yet cozy and welcoming. Once it passes inspection and we sign the lease, I shall post pictures.
But until then, we still live in a small mountain town, waiting to hear if this place will be ours or not.
I am so thankful to those who opened their home to us, but there is nothing like having a home of your own.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Black History Month: Emily Jazmin Tatum Perez

The story I share today, comes from Brown Girl "Herstory" on face book. I love this site. So many wonderful, inspiring stories of women of colour. Some stories I know, many I don't, but each has encouraged me in some form.
Today's Brown Girl 'Herstory is about  2nd Lieutenant Emily Jazmin Tatum Perez was born on February 19th, 1983.

Perez was born in Heidelberg,West Germany. The daughter of African American and Hispanic parents in a U.S. military family, she graduated from Oxon Hill High School in Maryland, where she was she was wing commander of Junior ROTC.  the first female of colour Cadet Command Sergeant Major in the history of the United States Military Academy at West Point, she was wing commander of Junior ROTC. 
From what I have read about this remarkable young lady, who only walked amoung us 23 years, she was the apple of not only her parents, Daniel and Vicki's eyes, but to her big brother, Kevyn, loving known to her as Bubba. It seems that little Emily was Bubba's shadow.
She also had a love of G-d at an early age. Loved attending church and at age six, was baptized along with her family. She sang in the children's choir and then the youth, helping with ushering and even tutoring. What an shining of a g-dly young woman. This g-dly spirit extended to her turning her attention to the suffers of the HIV-AIDS virus. 
 In 2000, while in high school Emily focused her passion on the ministry of HIV/AIDS due to her love for Mr. Teddy, an extended family member.  She met with her godfather to discuss the need for a HIV/AIDS ministry which resulted in the beginning of the Peace Baptist Church Shekinah Ministry.  She also became an HIV/Aids peer educator with the Alexandria Red Cross Chapter and the Red Cross National Chapter.  In 2001, she was honored by the Red Cross Board of Governors for her endeavors and contributions to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
As one who use to be a Care-giver to those with AIDS, Emily is truly one of my heroes.
Upon graduating from high school, Emily entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, where she was an exemplary student and talented track athlete. 
Following her graduating from West Point, she was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the 204th Support Battalion, 3nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division of the Untied States Army.
 Emily would be deployed to Iraq in December 2005 as a Medical Service Corps officer. Sadly She was killed when a makeshift bomb exploded near her Humvee during combat operations in Al Kifl, near Najaf, in September 2006.
Lieutenant Perez's military awards include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and the Combat Action Badge. She posthumously received the NCAA Award of Valor in 2008.

For one so young, she touched and inspired so many lives, so many who mourn her passing, but give thanks for her life.
Mark and I both gave a quick prayer of thanks for this remarkable young woman and pray G-d's comfort to her parents, big brother and his family as well as those who knew and loved her.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Black History Month: Bill Clemons

I had planned another post for today. However, a few hours ago, I learned of the passing of a dear friend,

Captain William (Bill) Melvon Clemons, Retired, US. Marines.

Bill was proud to be An American, and served his nation in the Marine Corp. A Sax player, he also had an amazing voice. I loved hearing his stories about his days as a Marine band officer. However, I also loved hearing the stories of how he met his beloved Trish and stories about their family.

We attended the same church for years, I watched his children grow up, loved watching Bill with his wife Trish. We were in choir together and he was a role model to many a young man coming up in the church. Bill and his children often sang together, my favorite song the family sang was "G-d Bless the USA."

I am getting teary in memory….

When he retired from the service, he went on teach music at the Governor's School in Virginia, where he continue to touch lives with his gift of music.

However, the most important thing about Bill, next to his love of his wife, children and grandchildren, was his faith. A humble, sweet man, his love of G-d and His Word was not only well known, but an encouragement to all who known him. Perfect by no means, there was a Holy light, the Light of G-d that shone in his eyes as well as his smile.

By the time I married Mark, the Clemons had moved out of state. There were so many people I wanted Mark to meet; Bill and Trish were close to the top of that list. Sadly, it was at the funeral for Bill's mother that I was able to introduce my husband to Bill and his family. What a proud moment to introduce "Captain Clemons" to "Captain Reel." Even in his own moment of sorrow, Bill took time to pray with Mark before his upcoming deployment.

On 4th February, there was a fire in the Clemons home. A neighour manage to drag Bill out of the house. Suffering burns about 70% of his body, the doctors fought to save his life. However, despite their efforts, G-d saw fit to end Bill's suffering and take him home. 

I was at a coffee café, just getting online when I saw the post about Bill's services and dropped my coffee cup. It wasn't the news I expected. However, I rest in the fact that he is not in pain and with the G-d, he loves and encourages others to know.

"I am proud to be an American. In this country, we have the freedom to marry the one we love." Bill Clemons.
I mourn the death of my friend and spiritual big brother. One of this nation's heroes, husband, father, grandfather.
Faithful man of G-d.