Three Days In Sanger

Preparing to head to Sanger, CA for a three-day job with the Ex later today.  We do lead paint inspections for property management companies with HUD subsidized Section 8 apartment complexes build prior to 1978 to insure they are in compliance with lead safe regulations and practices.

We’ve been up and down California this last year from Marysville/Yuba City to San Diego, Chula Vista and Santa Ana –  to Richmond and Hayward – West Sacramento and a bunch in Sacramento – and now to Sanger for our (approximately) 12th or 13th job. I’ve never been to Sanger (which is actually about 20 minutes southeast of Fresno).

I will be doing a travel blog on it about our Airbnb and local eateries at my other site The Barefoot Boomer, but this is just about impressions as we go through the work process.

Sanger appears to be a bedroom community to Fresno on the way to Sequoia National Park, maybe someday I’ll make it there!  As of 2010 population probably around 24,000 – small town.  Reasonably diverse across cultures and ages.  Median income around $48,000 – median house about $179,000.  At least as of a few years ago.

I am sure Sanger is a lovely little community and I am excited to go somewhere I haven’t been – and that being said when we received our confirmation from Airbnb, one line struck my brain –

It said “Three Days In Sanger” – and I laughed.  My weird brain was immediately  hoping this isn’t an omen – or a scary story – Three Days In Sanger – or “I spent a week in Sanger one day”  … I guess I’m grateful we are not staying at the Hotel California where, as you know, you can check in but you can never check out.

And all that being said – the second week of September, we are off to HONOLULU for a week to inspect a HUD subsidized apartment building there!  Hard work … but someone has to do it.

Yeah – these are my ordinary days right now and we’ll talk more Sanger, CA later.

I’ve recently discovered snapchat – having fun with it right now – as an old lady! I’ll outgrow it soon I’m sure!






Grandma Ford

Do you ever have a flash on someone from your past?  I do – my Grandma – my dad’s mother.  Maria Ojeda Holguin Ford.  We were driving down a street near where I live the other day and (I cannot recall what) something triggered it – her smell – her always sweet, warm, special unique smell.  It wafted by me in an instant and was gone.  When it happens, I know she is still with me – always.

grandma ford

I remember her house in Monterey Hills in Los Angeles – high up on a ridge that overlooked the city. It was a beautiful Spanish-style house – pink adobe and a dark red tile shingle roof.  It had a detached garage with a studio apartment over it – and a tiled courtyard between the garage and the house.

I don’t remember the bedrooms, but I do remember the huge sunken living room that faced the front of the house with  amazing deep green wall to wall carpet, heavy overstuffed furniture and elegant heavy drapery.   At the back end of the living room, two steps took you into the large dining room with dark hardwood floors and a huge dining room table.

Swinging wooden doors lead to a massive kitchen with a dinette set.  I remember the smells of Mexican food – always beans – and daily home-made flour tortillas.

I remember staying with her over one Christmas break when I was about ten years old – it was  heavenly.  She was so sweet and kind – so loving.  My grandfather owned a manufacturing plant – JC Ford Mfg Co – that made the first (or very early) automated tortilla making machines back in the 1950’s.  I remember him as always matter of fact and distant – cold.

The one thing that is always in my memory is cuddling with her on the overstuffed couch in the evening , sharing hot chocolate.  Simple nothings – just cuddly warm time together. I think it was the only time I ever actually stayed with her as it was normally my parents and I passing through town and visiting.

I never saw her again – she died a few months after that – took her own life with an overdose of medication.

I learned later that she was a very lonely woman – my grandfather gave her a life of near luxury but never his time.  I have always felt great sadness for her – not only for her death, but for the reason.

But I know she loved me – she tells me every so often.


On and On

Time sure slips away at times.  I think daily about the need to set down a post – my need – not “the need” to blog effectively.  If I simply followed “my need” there would probably be daily posts!

Part of it is probably that I seem to have so many boxes I’m attending to at the moment, both personally and professionally.  Maybe if I do a bit of a recap I can get all this out of my head and continue forward.


Son is still homeless, though on a medicated assisted treatment (MAT) for his substance abuse program – methadone makes him ill, so his outpatient program has him on Suboxone.  He has already been on the waitlist for a 90-day inpatient program for three months – and there is yet no end in site.  There are only three men’s facilities in our county – each with a small number of beds.  We are hopeful.  I am hopeful he will stay clean and make it to the inpatient program.

He wants badly to work – but is in the catch 22 of being homeless, looking for work and then how do you work and be homeless?  I suggest to him he could find a place to stay easier if he had an income.  He sadly reminds me his every day effort is finding a safe place to sleep (or hide at night) where he won’t get mugged or have his belongings stolen. I’m subsidizing him with food every month to supplement the $88 he gets in EBT funds. I bought him a simple, cheap one-burner camp stove and mess kit so he can prepare meals from non-perishable foods.  When we are going to medical appointments, I buy him a meal.  I pay for a cheap fitness club membership ($15 a month) so he as access to showers.

One of my great heart sadnesses is that I can no longer support him – he cannot stay with me.  But I know I must at this point take care of myself, dig myself out of the debt I’ve incurred taking care of him, and move on with my life as best I can.


So I am now “renting” a room from my ex.  Oddly many say – we are best friends – each other’s emotional support. I help him with his business and that up to a certain amount converts into paying rent – and I happily attend to most of the household activities.  For the time anyway, we are both comfortable with the arrangement – separate bedrooms and all.

My small pension and social security retirement keep me going every month – barely right now as I am focusing on bringing down credit card balances.  I contribute to food and my half of utilities. There is also my MediCare and supplemental insurance, car insurance, etc.  It’s amazing how quickly it gets eaten up.


I am working on supplementing my income over the next month or so by interviewing for a “task forcing” position at a hotel in San Jose.  That means “sitting in” as a sales manager while the hotel takes time to do a search for their ideal permanent candidate.  I get a daily fee, accommodations/meals and mileage.

I would never go back to work full time at this point, but two or three opportunities like this would be a nice addition.


I help the Ex with his business – we do lead paint inspections on HUD subsidized apartment complexes.  We’ve spent a fair amount of time in San Diego and LA – in the San Francisco East Bay Area and now – excitingly – have been hired to do a building in Honolulu (I lived in Hawaii for 15 years, it is my heart)!  The second week of September we will be there – 2 travel days, 3-4 work days and a day or two of play.  (and my airfare and hotel are covered in the contract)

October 19th my grandson is getting married – I get to officiate their vows! and then October 21 we leave for Kauai for 16 days for a real vacation!  Ex’s sister/brother in law are joining us for a week, and friends are joining us the rest of the time.  A lovely three-bedroom condo at Plantations in Princeville!   Again it’s the generosity of Ex – I paid for my air fare – hopefully the task force side hack will come through so I can chip in more.

Hanalei Bay at Sunset – 10 minutes from Princeville – my photo from last October

So what’s going on in your life?  The good, the challenging, the despair, the joy? It seems to always be a combination of all – right?



February 10, 1910

Through my move over the last month, and the forced sorting of what I can reasonably keep close to me and what I need to put into storage, I have once again been sorting through boxes.  My favorite ones are those that contain the old family photo albums and mementos.  When my mom passed away the family legacy (photo boxes) came to me.

I always stop and think about one memento in particular – and speculate on what the “back story” truly was.  You will understand.

My Great Grandfather Sigmund “Siggy” Oppenheim and Great Grandmother Mary Elizabeth “Polly” Smith were married in 1897.  They had a daughter Olive Vere (nicknamed Babe) in 1906.

Whatever their relationship was, it did not end well.  The sadly cherished memento is the letter that Polly wrote to Sid:

Thursday 9 P.M. February 10 – 1910


I suppose you spent a restless night, and be surprised when you get this letter, but I have made up mind that we have lived long enough together this way, cat & dog life.  We have lived as man & wife in name only for nearly four years.   

I don’t care for you and you don’t care for me.  I only regret leaving Babe but as soon as my wages increase I will try to have her with me oftener.  I am not far away and will see her nearly every day.

I had no intentions of going to the theater with Etta so don’t go and bother her for she knows nothing for when I left yesterday I made preparations.  So good bye for ever.



Sig never saw Polly again from what I understand.  She moved from San Francisco to Marin County – Sausalito area across the Golden Gate Bridge.  She never interacted with her daughter Babe (my grandmother) again.

From my mother I know that Siggy was a loving, affectionate grandfather.  She adored her Grandpa Siggy.  I never met him.

Sad as it is, I treasure this snippet of my history.




Some Hope

It’s been another six weeks since my son reached out for help with his addiction.  Through the Sacramento County Department of Health Services he signed up for assistance with substance abuse.   In six weeks this is what has been accomplished:

  • He went to an intake appointment and was qualified for a 90-day inpatient program.
  • He did orientation for that program that puts you on a waitlist for a bed. And we learned it could be MONTHS for a bed in one of three facilities for men.  Months in like – if you don’t get a bed within 90 days you have to basically re-apply.  It’s more of an update than re-application.   He has to check in once a week by phone to indicate he is still interested.   The waitlist works like this – when a bed becomes available, the intake person starts at the top of the list.  He calls the first name – if they take the bed, it’s done.  If they don’t answer, he leaves a message and goes on to the second name.  If the second name answers and takes the bed, it’s done.  If not, he leaves a message …. and so on.  If the bed is not taken on a phone call, the first person to respond to a message and take the bed gets it.  There is no way to know if there are 10, 50 or 100 people on the waitlist.
  • He entered a suboxone program.  It is used to treat adults who are dependent on (addicted to) opioids (either prescription or illegal). SUBOXONE Film (a sublingual dose) is indicated for treatment of opioid dependence and should be used as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support.  Unfortunately there is no counseling and psychosocial support until he is inpatient.
  • He has had a TB test and a physical.
  • He is awaiting an appointment for a psych exam for monitoring his bi-polar meds.

No call from the waitlist yet.

As long as he is true to the suboxone program (weekly clinic appointments to monitor his compliance) I have purchased a $15 a month gym membership (Planet Fitness) so he has access to a shower.  I take him to a laundromat once a week to do laundry.  I still will not give him cash.  He is still homeless.

I also moved over the last month – from the 2-bedroom townhouse we shared to renting a room from my ex.  Being on social security and a very small pension and not having the shared rent support from my son as it was suppose to be left me with no choice but to further minimize my living expenses.  It also made my son realize that he truly does not have the option to “move back in with mom”.

As I am looking back over the last three months or so, from when I finally made the decision to stop enabling my son, I think on the range of emotions I have gone through:

  • Despair – the acceptance that he was not going to change as long as I made life so easy
  • Anger – at myself for letting him take advantage of me for so many years and, yes at him despite knowing he suffers the disease of addiction, for his anger at me for turning him out
  • Fear – at not knowing where he was, if he was safe, if he was eating, or lying dead in a park somewhere
  • Hopefulness – that he reached out for help and (unless I’m really missing something) appears to be earnest and following the plan
  • Acceptance – that the ultimate outcome is out of my hands
  • Reclaiming – reclaiming my life that I gave up five and a half years ago to take care of him, which I came to realize was the big mistake here.

It’s a process – a time of personal growth even in my late 60’s.

There is some hope.


Time Flies –

Gosh I didn’t realize it’s been over a month since I last posted. It’s been busy of course – working (my retirement side hacks), preparing to move into a more affordable situation, and worrying about my son.

Helping my ex/dear friend with his business has been a blessing. In emotionally trying times it’s essential to keep our minds busy. He is also providing me with a more affordable living situation – since I have accepted that my son contributing to our joint living expenses is not going to happen any time soon, I am moving into the ex/dear friend’s spare bedroom.

It seems odd I know – but we do still care very deeply about each other, just realized with my son’s mental health problems that we had some intrinsically different approaches to helping adult children. It’s ok – I understand we were raised in two totally opposite environments – he with no nurturing and me in a very nurturing environment. And yet with that being said, he is one of the most caring people I have ever met.

My son is still homeless after six weeks. It’s been six weeks of mostly sleepless, worrisome nights for me. He is I believe finally realizing he cannot fight his disease of addiction on his own and has started reaching out for help. I have in the past offered him links to resources for addiction help – which he did nothing with. I keep reminding him that when he is ready to get help I will do anything I am capable of to GET him to help … drive him to a rehab facility – drive him to meetings every day if necessary – anything it takes.

Then yesterday I received the following text from his ex-wife – I am starting to wonder (albeit tenuously for I have hoped beyond hope before) if there is some hope!

“I hope you are enjoying the holiday weekend. I am reaching out because I heard from (son) last night. He texted me and I learned that he is homeless. I believe he’s in trouble and I know he is scared so I called the National Drug Abuse Hotline and they gave me referrals to treatment centers who offer transportation services (meaning they will pick up people and bring them to the center). I sent the info to (son) and he agreed to go to this one: Napa Center Point   2100 Napa Vallejo Highway Building 253M1-M2, Napa, CA 94558 Type: Substance Abuse Tel: 707-225-8001 Website: This information was provided by SAMHSA’s National Helpline (800-662-4357) They have a men’s rehabilitation program in Martinez so I emailed the center and left a message. I assume that the center is closed over the holiday weekend but I will follow up on Tuesday. I just wanted to share the information. I know this is very difficult and painful so please know that you and (son) have my support. like you, I want (son) to be healthy, clean, and safe. Much love, (ex wife)”

So my words to you out there struggling with a family member who suffers the disease of addiction, do not entirely give up hope. I know it’s hard to not give up at times. And it’s hard to keep holding on to hope through all of the empty promises and lies. But don’t give up.

And if you are suffering this horrendous unforgiving disease of addiction, do not give up hope of escaping it. There are people out there who truly love you and want to help when you are ready. Those who truly love you, not love you for what you can do for them, will help you when you are ready. Reach out – there ARE resources.

The Hardest Thing …

It’s been a week since the locks were changed on my doors. It’s been six days since I saw him or talked to him. Him – my lost son. My one-time golden child now lost in a world of Bi-Polar Disorder and drug addiction. The 43-year old who six years ago was employed in the New York financial world as a hedge fund accounting manager at $100K a year after having put himself through college for an accounting degree – is now homeless, destitute, and selling drugs to support his habit.

How could a mother turn out her child I ask myself – how could I do that? I am not sleeping. I cry every time I think for more than 10 minutes. I wonder if he is okay (except I heard he was staying with a friend at a motel downtown). Is he eating? Is he safe?

It took me five and a half years to get to this point. Five and a half years of providing him with a safe place (my home) to get clean, to recover, to move on with his life once again after a divorce and losing everything because of his drug use. Five and a half years, two minimum wage jobs he lost because he couldn’t show up on time. Five and a half years of never knowing what I was coming home to after work or what time he would wander in or out – of finding drug paraphernalia in his room. Five and a half years … and too many empty threats of “throwing him out” if he didn’t clean up his act to be taken seriously.

Then last week I discovered (confirmed?) that he is selling and that was my end. Within forty eight hours he was out with a back pack and his bicycle and the locks were changed. I am not mad or angry with him – I ache for him and his disease he cannot seem to recover from. But I cannot enable him any longer, I cannot let his disease put my life in jeopardy any longer. I have never done this before and it terrifies me.

It’s been a huge emotional battle between wanting to know he has a safe place, and realizing on the other hand that I have simply been enabling him. I know the decision to stop rests on his “hitting bottom”, “being sick and tired of being sick and tired” – and I know he is not taking his Bi-Polar meds regularly, if at all. I know the pull of the cocaine and opioids are controlling his thought processes. Telling him lies – but the lies are winning.

And I know I can’t control or change it.

And my biggest nightmare is getting that phone call or knock telling me that my son is one of the 150 people a day who die from overdoses. A mere statistic.

And I search my mind wondering – no, knowing – how we got here – a father who had Bi-Polar Disorder when it was simply called manic depression and not really treated. Growing up in a home where rages from dad appeared as instantaneously as they disappeared. Both my adult children have BPD and PTSD as a result. And I own that I wasn’t strong enough to walk them away from it.

My daughter dealt with it openly and directly with mental health assistance and “the rooms” from the time she was nineteen. My son buried his feelings and never dealt with them until about six years ago. He never grieved his father’s death in 1992.

And the stark reality is that because he is on MediCal (California medicaid), while he has access to his meds, he has no access to mental health care – the intensive therapy or inpatient rehab he needs. He can’t afford it and neither can I. And so I watch to see that he is active on Facebook (he isn’t communicating with me) so that I know he is still alive. I cringe at every siren that goes by. I lie awake a night waiting for that phone call from hell.

Are you a parent who has gone or is going through this? How do you cope with it?

Yes, I am In Search of an Ordinary Day!