Abandoned Blog? I Don’t Think So!

I have not fallen off the planet, I just needed to take some much-needed time for quiet introspection. I was having a really hard time and I tried to get back into blogging and YouTube but it just wasn’t happening for me.

Those of you who know me in real life know that at the end of June I actually got a job! I was thrilled. I was on cloud nine. It looked like my life was taking the turn I needed. And then about two weeks later I was fired. I was devastated. 

I don’t know why I was fired and they didn’t have to tell me because it was during my probation period but, they said it wasn’t my performance. I did very well. I have some ideas of why but nothing that I can prove. I would love to know why because if it’s something I can fix, then maybe it will help me keep a job.

Not knowing why, I felt like I didn’t have a good direction to go. From a comment made during my firing, I know it’s something in my background. I spent time researching my background and ordered a full background check. Nothing. I am a good girl. All I can tell you from that background check is that I move a lot, have kids and a husband, own land in Tennessee, and no one can spell my name correctly. 

But for bettering myself? Yea, I have no idea. That is why I decided to check out from social media (except for family) and really take a good hard look at my life. Like, I really met it face to face. I finally believe the doctors (from years ago) who told me I would never work outside my home again.  I believe them now. I didn’t want to believe them before but I fully do now. 

I am never going to be able to hold a job outside of my house so I need to focus on what I do best. As much as that hurts to say, I accept that. I don’t have to like it to accept it. So I am accepting it.

And now I will focus on what I am best at… Writing. Because I am not letting this depression get the best of me! I set goals for this month to keep me focused.

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I am back!

Goals for this month

My goals for this month are easy so I can get back into my groove.

  1. Each week I will make six posts.
  2. Each post will start with a letter of the alphabet. Nov 1 is A. Nov 2 is B. Nov 3 is C. And so on.
  3. All posts will be about positive things or will be about something that I am grateful for. 

I am hoping to get on YouTube video in each week but we’ll see how that goes for now. I am definitely working on this. 

I want to make it to where this is my full-time “job” so that I make it my habit.

I am looking forward to this. Since I won’t be getting a job… ever… I am back to blogging full-time! WOOHOO!

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I’m Back! Did You Miss Me? I Did!

I have been slightly busy lately. I did get a job for a bit. I worked two weeks before I was fired. I can’t get anyone to hire me so I am considering the fact that, eventually, I may need to move. I dread this idea because Montana is perfect for me. I spent time thinking about it and deciding where to go but I am just not sure yet. 

I traveled to southern California to get away from the smoke of the wildfires raging in Montana. The trip was nice but made me realize how much I really love it in Montana. When I go back, I am going to double down on either making my own money or getting a job. I’m not really holding my breath on either though. In five years, I have not had any luck with either except for a spurt of income here or there.

I was thinking of starting YouTube back up but, I am working on the motivation… I figured, if I started blogging again, I would get motivated to do YouTube. Is it working? We’ll see.

The CV Axle, The Drive, and Why Does No One Listen To Me?

Ever since I started therapy years ago, my big complaint is that no one listens to me. I am not taken seriously. Let’s take this trip as an example.

No to CV – Part 1

Before we left, like a month or so before, my son took the car to a mechanic. He’s a good mechanic and I needed the CV axle changed out. We had the part and everything. He dropped the car off and left for So Cal. I got a call that it wasn’t the CV axle and it was the (forgot which part) instead. I asked if they could change the CV axle anyway and they insisted it didn’t need changed. It was fine. So they got the part, fixed it, even drove it to my apartment. But, they didn’t change the CV axle. Meh. Fine. Whatever.

I drive the car to a few out of town places and I can still hear the occasional sound of my car wanting the CV axle changed. It sounds… off. The wildfires start, the smoke rolls in, and we debate on leaving and heading south. The smoke was pretty thick. I mean, the state was on fire, it was bad.

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Screenshot of the map before we left… or the day we left… or something.

I have asthma but my youngest son has worse asthma than I do. I was starting to feel dizzy just walking through the apartment to use the bathroom. I forgot to screenshot the air quality map but it was pretty bad. It wasn’t the worst level, but it was really close.

We finally decided we did need to leave because we had the doors and windows shut and it was still hard to breathe. Plus, with the doors and windows shut, it was hot as hell in my apartment. So, we finally packed up and left.  I snapped this picture at one of our stops.

Smoke at a rest area
Smoke masks the mountains at a Montana rest stop.

There was so much smoke filtering the sun that I could walk around with no sleeves on and we could stare directly at the sun without solar viewing glasses. Each stop was a quick, “Get out, go pee, get back in, and let’s go.”

Starting to worry

I was starting to worry about the car around Missoula. I could really hear the metal on metal sound. I didn’t say anything to my ex or my older son in Cali because I didn’t want to worry them.

We slept at a rest area near Billings where the sky was clear. It was so nice to breathe again without feeling like I was snorkeling through Jell-O. We were still coughing up crap (and we still are to this day) but it was easier to breathe, we could stop for longer rest breaks, and Jack-Jack was able to run around a bit at the stops. 

We made it to Buffalo, Wyoming for a gas stop. When we were pulling into the gas station, I heard a sound that I am not sure what the hell it was but it wasn’t good. I pumped gas and then tried to drive off. It was horrible. The car was shaking when I tried to move. The only blessing is that we broke down right in front of a mechanic shop. 

No to CV – Part 2

I went over and they said it was the power steering pump, ordered the part, and let us hang out in their parking lot (because, like, where were we going to go?). One of the ladies came to the car and offered to buy us a hotel room for the night and watch our cat. I was really happy about that but we were fine car camping. They were great! I mean, they really went above and beyond… except they wouldn’t change out the CV axle.

At that point, I was just happy they changed out the power steering pump and still happy that they worked to get us in the day the part came in (usually it takes a week to get your car worked on. They were booked.) The next morning, they got the power steering pump changed out, and we got on our way.

We can still make it!

And that is when I really started to worry about the car. I was consistently hearing a clicking sound (for lack of a better description) and feeling the grinding every time I turned. I started having issues with it vibrating when I hit 65 mph so I started driving anything below that. 

We made it out of Wyoming and into Utah. I HAD to drive highway speed through Salt Lake City area (it was a little south of it, I think) because I didn’t feel like being run over. We made it out of the heavy traffic and by then, I was a nervous wreck. The car felt like shit, it was vibrating so bad I half expected to watch a tire run off from my car, and the grinding was worse.

I still didn’t say anything because I thought we’d be able to make it to the Lancaster area without having someone come rescue us. (I was wrong)

I can’t drive 55! No really. I can’t.

So, after Salt Lake City, I found a private/public rest area to take a nap in because my adrenaline rush wore off. They have nice rest areas! It’s at a Chevron station that has a HUGE parking lot. We parked in the back and I slept for a bit. Then we headed off to the next rest area once it was cooler outside. 

The ride there was slow. I could do about 55 mph without it shaking to pieces while I drove. So, to everyone in Utah driving on I-15 southbound… I am so sorry. I know I held up traffic and I apologize profusely… and thank you for not running me off the road.

After rest area #2 in Utah, we headed on with our trip and I knew I was going to have a hard time. I could only go 50 mph without it shaking to death.

We made it to the Moapa exit in Nevada. I slept for a bit because it’s really draining to drive a car that you aren’t sure is going to fall apart while you are driving it down the interstate. I was seriously worried I was going to end up killing someone when the car fell apart.

Then we headed out again. I was dreading driving through Las Vegas but we made it through. I drove at about 65 mph with the car shaking horribly the whole way. I white knuckled the steering wheel. I won’t lie… I was terrified. My chest hurt from the stress.

Once out of Las Vegas, I slowed back down to 50 mph. Then we hit the mountains coming into California.

You shall not pass!

Driving up the mountain pass this time was like trying to bike uphill. I was happy when I hit 35 mph. We made it almost up the mountain when the car overheated and I had to take an exit to let it cool down. We sat there for about an hour… maybe. And then headed to the rest area the was not too far from there. It had overheated by the time we got there.

By then, it was getting hot, we were miserable, and the car sounded like it chewing metal while we drove. We couldn’t go very fast at all. I was updating the guys in So Cal to how bad it really was at this point. I figured it was close enough for a rescue if I needed it.

Eff this! Come get me!

Back on the road, we made it to Barstow where we stopped in a park and parked under a tree for shade. I needed Benadryl from the extreme heat and I was starting to get a headache. I took my medicine and sent messages of how we were staying right there until it cooled down.

After chatting through text about how bad the car was doing, my older son decided to come get me with his friend… and I was totally cool with this idea because I didn’t feel like getting stranded in the desert with no cell signal!  I also mentioned that, oh yea, by the way, no one will change out the CV axle. He wasn’t happy.

They stopped to get some parts to help fix the car and then headed there. I slept for a bit enjoying the shade while we waited. 

And my car is toast

When they showed up, first thing they did was check the fluids. I had already checked all the fluids (except the transmission fluid) and they were good. When they checked, the coolant was low. WHAT?! I was so mad.

Then, I was like, “Hey, let me drive this so you can hear the grind.” Only when I drove it… no noise. I was so pissed at my car I could have spit fire. After a little bit of inspecting, they decided to test drive it. They didn’t make it out of the parking lot before stopping and saying, “Oh hell no! This is getting fixed here!”

We found a parking lot that was flat so they could fix it. They started taking it apart and saw how bad it was and decided to call for a tow. Only, the AAA that we have, only covers seven miles for towing. You gotta be fucking kidding me. Who the hell needs a seven mile tow??? It was going to cost $780 something to tow it back to my ex’s place.

So we debate amongst ourselves on what to do. The meds were all fine by then and my headache was gone, so I said I could just drive the car while they followed. I mean, I drove it this far, right! Right? Hehe.

It’s like slowly driving the car into the ground

We started driving and Oh. My. GAWD. We could safely do about 40 mph… if you want to call it safe. The car was shaking to death. We would pull over to let people pass then pull back onto the highway. And then I hit a railroad track… I could feel the wheel shaking and it sounded like the car was coming apart at the seems. 

My older son had to take over after that. We were safely doing 25 to 35 mph the rest of the way back to his place. The front driver side tire looked slanted and you could see the shaking from the follow car at times.

My car is now parked in a garage awaiting repair. And guess what needs to be replaced…

The CV Axle! It’s the CV axle! It needs changed. Who’d of thunk it!? It was like a huge mystery that no one would have guessed! 

I am not mad at the second mechanic. They fixed the main problem of the moment and went out of their way to get us in ASAP to fix it. I thank them.

But the first mechanic… why didn’t you just change it out? We had the part! I was willing to pay for it.

I am over being pissed off but THIS is what I keep saying. No one will listen to me. It’s like I am yelling into a void. Is it because I am a woman? Cuz I will totally have a sex change if it means someone will finally fucking listen to me! 

Why won’t people listen to me? I want to know. 

Anyway, we are here now. I am making pizza today. I will be working on a YouTube video for my gluten-free flour recipe. We’ll be here for a least a couple of weeks. I’ll keep you updated. we’ll probably be here a couple of weeks. I miss home but this is okay for now because at least my CV axle will be changed out (and everything else we ruined by driving with a bad CV axle)

Spicy Bacon Vegan Cheese Sauce (and it tastes like cheese!)

STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING! A miracle has occurred!

I found a VEGAN cheese sauce that I actually like! I can hear it now, “But Dotchi… Bacon and cheese isn’t vegan.”

I know! That’s why this recipe is so cool. It is vegan but it tastes like Bacon Cheddar spread you would buy for crackers, only it tastes better… and spicier. I should warn you: I like spices. You can adjust the intensity to your liking though.

First the recipe because it drives me nuts when I have to scroll through 40 pages of recipe tales to get to the actual recipe. I am adding links to the stuff I use. I get nothing for this (I wish) this is just to help new cooks and those unfamiliar with some of the ingredients.

Further down I will tell the story of how I got to this…

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Vegan mac and cheese

Spicy Bacon Vegan Cheese Sauce

Ingredients List in order of use (don’t judge it by the ingredients)

Step 1 ingredients

  • 2 cups Sweet Potatoes (the white ones, not yams) peeled and cubed
    • You could use regular russet, red, or golden potatoes.
  • 1 cup Carrot, peeled and cubed
  • Water for boiling

Step 2 Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup Canola oil or Olive Oil
    • Honestly, you can use whatever oil you have on hand. Soy, Corn, flaxseed, avocado… As long as it is an edible oil and not automotive oil or snake oil.
  • 1/2 Cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer
    • You can use whatever creamer you like or use Almond or soy milk. I prefer the creamer because it’s thicker… and it’s what I had at the moment.
    • Water works too if you are out of creamer or milk. It just tastes like it’s missing something.
  • 1 TBSP Honey or, for the strict vegan, Agave Nectar or Bee Free Honee
    • I know some vegans who allow honey and others that do not. Depending on how it was… raised?
    • This is easier to get out of the spoon if you add it after the oil – slides right out. You’re welcome.
  • 1 tsp Salt (I use Pink Himalayan Salt)
  • 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp Ground Chipotle or Paprika (I use chipotle for the spicy taste)
    • DO NOT spend that much on ground chipotle unless you have to. That is a ridiculous price! Hell, you can grind your own for cheaper than that!
    • Use less if you can’t handle spicy foods. Smoky paprika shouldn’t be spicy but will add a nice flavor to it.
  • 1/4 cup White Vinegar.
    • I use white vinegar because that’s what I have but you can use Apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or anything else you like. It will taste a little different. I’ve been known to use any wine I have lying around *cough*.
  • 1/3 C Nutritional Yeast. This is NOT Brewer’s yeast or yeast in the little packets!

Step 1 of Spicy Bacon Vegan Cheese Sauce

  1. Put the potato pieces and carrot pieces in a pot with enough water for boiling.
  2. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat for about 20 minutes or until the food pieces are fork tender. Fork tender means it’s really super easy to stab it with a fork. 
  3. Once tender, drain the veggies and place them in a food processor (or blender. I’ve done both. Either works just fine)

Step 2 of Spicy Bacon Cheese Sauce

  1. Add all the other ingredients into the food processor or blender.
  2. Turn on your food processor or blender and run it until everything is blended and all smooth and creamy like.
  3. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides in between running it. Sometimes I do. Sometimes it cooperates.

It will look like this:

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Serve this over veggies, pasta, potatoes… I really loved it on broccoli!

How I discovered Spicy Bacon Vegan Cheese Sauce

Okay, now for the rambling chatty part.

My friend, Java, is allergic to milk and cheese. One of the things we’ve been trying to find is a cheese substitute. We ran into a few problems… 

1. Some “non-dairy” cheeses have casein, a milk derivative, in them.

  • To me, that is as stupid as putting peanut oil on cashews (even when they aren’t salted!) or putting soy lecithin in almond milk and then declaring it a safe alternative to soy (I think they all switched to sunflower lecithin – another allergen of mine but not as unreasonable as soy lecithin).

2. Daiya has xanthum gum, which isn’t very kind on the digestive system. And I didn’t really care for the taste. It’s been awhile and I haven’t retried it. It didn’t win me over though.

3. Some are impossible to find in the areas we live. I live in NW Montana and shop in Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Java lives on the east coast in a southern state.

4. We needed to avoid Cashew because of dietary restrictions on Java’s end plus, it’s impossible to find it not drenched in peanut oil. 

What we’ve tried…

I tried various alternatives I found, like a box of Macaroni and Chreese. It was gluten-free, dairy-free, and supposed to taste like regular macaroni and cheese. I know what regular macaroni and cheese tastes like. It wasn’t even in the same ball park. It was like macaroni and dirt vomit. 

I tried a few others and they just flat sucked. They didn’t even have a hint of cheese flavor. They either tasted like dirt, vomit, bitter lemons, or something like that. They just were not good.

We also tried whatever store brand we could actually eat. But none of them had a good flavor. 

Mouth feel – It’s not really a criteria, but it does help.

And I haven’t even touched on mouth feel yet! (<- Hahaha, see what I did there!)

I am not a huge “mouth feel” kind of person. I survived on puree mush for quite a while. If it just has the flavor I am mostly happy. Hell, I drank pizza that wasn’t too bad!

BUT, mouth feel does compliment or destroy a food. If it’s supposed to be “melty and delicious” but comes out tasting like ass and having the consistency of curdled milk… nope nope nope!

Alternatively, if it’s supposed to be like pancakes, soft and fluffy, but comes out kind of flat and dense but tastes pretty okay, I can handle that.

But it takes a LOT to make “mouth feel” make or break something for me.

SQUIRREL ALERT! 

A.D.D. is easy as 1-2- OH EM GEE! A SQUIRREL!
Hey Sparky!

My worst mouth-feel story was vegan chocolate pudding. It had maple syrup, avocado, and cocoa powder. I like maple syrup. I like avocados. I like chocolate. So I didn’t think it would be too bad. I thought it might taste a little weird with the avocado.

But, meh, I made it anyway. I have never gagged so hard on something before in my life. It coated my mouth with a goo that felt like snot, acted like glue, and clung to my uvula for dear life. Luckily, the stomach acid helped clean it off as it went rushing by. It was absolutely horrible! 

Vegan Cheese Google Search

The other day, I was surfing around Google looking for something not food related when I found this link… 

Life-Changing Vegan Cheese Sauce

It’s gluten-free. It’s vegan. It’s cheese-ish. It looks like cheese sauce. It’s freaking orange!

She created hers from another recipe. You can find it here. It’s a nut-free, yeast-free, dairy-free, vegan, cheese-like sauce.

I looked at both and noticed that I would not be eating those because they call for soy sauce or coconut aminos. I can’t have soy. The coconut aminos are too expensive for me. Also, I can’t have lemon or paprika. Almond milk is out for us but I could use coconut milk. I altered the recipes to suit my needs and started cooking.

I made the first batch with the substitutions and it was pretty okay. Was it cheese-like? No. Was it a good substitute? Yes. I think it was.

Sharing the cheesy joy – the substitutions

Then I wanted to make it and share it with my older son and that’s when I ran into problems. He can’t have garlic, onion, lemon, or mustard. Also, I can’t have paprika. So there went a lot of flavor.

I substituted paprika for chipotle because I didn’t have any cayenne or mild pepper. I felt ground jalapeno would be too much.  

I added honey instead of lemon (a common substitution for me) because vinegar went in for mustard. I figured the lemon was probably for smoothing out the taste which is why I picked honey and not lime juice (which I am out of).

I think the mustard added zing to it so when I substituted it to share I just added vinegar since mustard is just mustard seed ground and LOTS of vinegar.

I skipped substituting the garlic and onion since chipotle is so much stronger than paprika.

I used sweet potatoes because I don’t react to them like russet potatoes (which is a rather painful reaction I would like to avoid).

I tinkered with the recipe a couple of times. I tossed one batch because it was too… something. It just wasn’t tasty. FINALLY, I came up with the recipe you see above but not with as much nutritional yeast. 

I liked it okay but I decided to add just a LITTLE bit more nutritional yeast. Fun fact: The nutritional yeast lid has two sides. One for sprinkling nutritional yeast and one for accidentally dumping too much into the blender. Whoops.

I decided it couldn’t be worse than some of the other concoctions I have come up with so, I blended it in.  

Vegan Spicy Bacon Cheese Sauce was born!

Then I tasted it. I couldn’t place the flavor at first. Cut me some slack… I haven’t had bacon, real or fake, since August 25, 2010. I had my son try it and I said, “Does it taste cheddary to you too?” He replied with, “It tastes like cheddar bacon spread you put on crackers.”

That’s when it clicked in my head! OMG! He was right! That was the flavor! I made cheddar bacon cheese sauce. Wait! No… I made VEGAN cheddar bacon cheese sauce. I also added too much chipotle. It was setting my face on fire.

I cut back on the chipotle, took out the black pepper I had added to my first batch, and carefully measured the nutritional yeast to see how much got to the “bacon cheddar” flavor. (1/4 cup for mild flavor, 1/3 cup for awesomeness)

We ate it by itself. I ate it with half the nutritional yeast which I think has a less bacon flavor but I like it. We also ate it on rice noodles. Today we ate it on broccoli and that is honestly my favorite way. It tastes so much like cheddar when on top of broccoli that I kind of impressed myself.

I finally dubbed it “Not-Cheese” and added it to the family recipe book.

I am more excited now about trying other recipes of homemade non-dairy cheeses and I’ll let you know when I try them.

My question to you is… 

How do you feel about mouth feel?

 

 

Domestic Violence and Remembering Leslie

This has taken longer to write than I planned. I cried a lot during this. It’s been almost ten years and I still feel the pain of it. I haven’t really dealt with her death. I’m sorry this was late for posting but it was very difficult to write.

WARNING! The picture at the end of this long blog post is graphic.

This is also a 50 Questions post that I have tried to write but I always break down crying and can’t finish it. So I am doing it for Leslie! Question #6: This the hardest thing I have gone through. This may be long.

Background

I met Leslie when I was living in Tennessee. Our children went to the same school and I first saw her at a PTA meeting. She was across the cafeteria getting ready to sit down next to her husband while holding her youngest child at the time. I knew the moment I saw her that we were going to be close friends. I felt like I had known her before somehow. This is Leslie…

leslie
Leslie Bradshaw. Daughter. Sister. Wife. Mother. Friend.

And we did! We became very close friends and through her, I also met Penny. We would get together sometimes to hang out. I had my two children, Leslie had her five, and Penny had her four. We three would play cards while all 11 children played.

We would talk about life and family and food and anything, really. One time we talked about how we thought we would die. Leslie always said she was going to die on Friday the 13th. Mine will have to do with fresh soil. I can see it but there is no explaining it.

That is also how I met the man that doesn’t deserve to be named. He and Penny were married at the time. He was abusive, controlling, and a complete asshole, generally. I witnessed his abuse to Penny and saw how it was behind closed doors. I felt for Penny but really, we all felt a bit helpless as there wasn’t a lot out there for domestic violence victims.

Penny finally got the nerve to leave his sorry ass and took the kids with her. She decided to file for divorce also. He got the papers and it was time for her to take the kids to his house for a weekend visit with the monster.

Domestic Violence 

It was Friday the 13th, October 2006. It was a regular day for us but we had a looming fear following us that day. Leslie and I went to Wal-Mart and shopped and then I would babysit four of her five kids while she rode with Penny to drop off her kids with their dad in another county.

We got back to Leslie’s house from shopping and we talked about the trip to Polk county that was coming up. We heard that he had threatened Penny and we were both worried about Penny going there and never coming back. The police would not escort her to drop off the kids either. We felt a sense of being alone in this with little help or resources to get help.

Leslie’s Plan

Then Leslie had a stroke of genius. She said we should make a plan together just in case. The original plan was, if they didn’t get home by 8 pm, I would call the police. Then Leslie said something that would haunt my ears for years to come.

“No. Wait. Two hours is too long to be tortured.” She was in her kitchen when she said it. I remember the look on her face and the pain in her eyes when she said it. “Instead of that, I am going to call you every 30 minutes to hour and let you know how we are doing. If I don’t call, call 911 and send help. There is no cell service when we get off the highway so I will call you before we got off the highway and as soon as we get back to it.”

I agreed. Although I was worried, I ran through the plan in more details with her. Call no later than 8 pm, call if she didn’t call me, and we had a code for if she called but couldn’t say “send help”. If she said the statement, call 911. If I asked the code and she said yes, call 911.

I had the information of everyone going, the vehicle make/ model, license plate number, Leslie’s phone number, Penny’s phone number, the address where the monster lived, the kids names, birth dates… everything I needed to fully identify every one, the route they were taking there and back… I was set!

At one point I begged her not to go. She told me, “I have to go. It’s my destiny.” We both believed that you don’t mess with someone’s destiny. So, instead, I begged her to be careful and leave immediately if anything looked off. She agreed and stressed that she HAD to be there for Penny. She just knew she did!

We both were confident that this was the best plan. We didn’t know what else to do.

“… if I come home.”

That evening, Leslie left for Penny’s house. In hindsight, some of the things she said made it sound like she knew she wasn’t coming home. Like the destiny comment. At the first check in, we talked for a couple minutes. She told me where they were, how it was going, how far from the turn they were, etc. Then asked how the kids were doing.

I told her they were fine, I was about to get them ready for bed, but they were so cute playing. I told her I was playing with my new camera and took pics of the kids and I would show her when she got home. She got eerily quiet and so I changed the subject. I told her I forgot the package of toilet paper in the back of her van. She said not to worry that I would get it and I said, “Yea, I can get it when you get home. No biggy.”

Then she said, “… IF I come home.” I told her she WOULD come home. She wasn’t allowed to die and I would see her when she got back. she said, “Okay.” not like a “Okay, I believe you!” it was more of a “Sure. You keep thinking that.”

I figured out the time they would turn off the highway and made a note to check and make sure she called. We had discussed this all. I was ready.

Lost Contact

At 6:20 (I think – it was 10 years ago, It’s a little hazy), she tried to call but it didn’t connect. That was right when she should have called for going off the highway so I waited for her to call saying they were back on the highway.

The kids were in bed. Some had fallen asleep, the others were giggling and whispering to each other. I busied myself by tidying up and checking on the kids and obsessively checked my phone every couple of minutes.

I sat outside and smoked a cigarette watching the minutes roll past. I called a friend and said, “I really need to talk to someone.” I think the sound in my voice made it clear that this was serious.

I did a quick run down of the plan and then told her about the check in and the call that was one the right time but I had a feeling… I felt like something was very wrong. It wasn’t time to call yet but I felt like something was seriously wrong. Then I had a moment of something I can not explain.

I was sitting there talking to my friend and explaining and suddenly, everything was black, then all I could see was gravel and I was looking under a car. I could hear muffled crying and a breath. Then everything started looking red at the edges and the red slowly covered everything and it was all black again. I’ve only told a few people this. But I know in my heart that I was seeing from Leslie’s eyes.

It was only a few seconds but it was terrifying and I suddenly knew that I had to call! I heard my friend on the other end of the phone say, “What is your heart telling you?” and I answered honestly and numbly, “I need to call the cops.” She said to call back when I was done calling them.

Calling for help

I first called the Sheriff’s office in our county and explained the entire thing. They gave me a number to Polk county Sheriff’s office and I called them too. I explained to the lady everything that is in this post and more. She said she would have someone go check on them and I said thank you.

I remember after I hung up I tried to call Leslie’s phone, then Penny’s phone. I left a message to call me and asked the code question in the message. Then I waited a minute. Then I called my friend again.

I also remember talking to my heart sister and talking to one of my brothers. It’s all a bit blurry. I can’t remember all that was said… or most of it.

Most of the night went like this: Call Leslie’s phone, Call Penny’s phone, Call dispatch and tell them I still can’t get a hold of them. (She tried too and couldn’t get a hold of them.) Then call someone else or wait ten minutes. Repeat.

Leslie’s husband got home and we both paced and called their phones. We waited and waited. It was the hardest thing to wait through. I began to wonder if I should have called earlier and then I would flop to the idea that I called early just not when I first felt anxiety.

I called dispatch every 15 minutes (I remember looking at my phone log and having a realization that I harassed the shit out of the Sheriff’s dispatch. I wasn’t giving up though! Those were my friends, it was one in the morning, and they weren’t back yet!

Officers Are At The Scene

It was a little after one a.m. when I contacted the dispatch lady for the last time. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and said, “Just tell me SOMETHING! Are we bailing someone out of jail? Looking for them at a hospital? Do we need to contact a morgue? Tell me something!” At that point, I was slowly losing my cool. I wanted to know what happened to my friends!

The dispatch lady told me, “We can’t tell you anything” as she had said in previous calls, “But listen to me carefully. Are you listening?” At this point I thought -okay, she is going to hint… and I suck at hints! but told her to go ahead.

She said, “There are officers at the scene now and someone will be by to talk to you shortly.” I couldn’t talk for a second. She didn’t need to hint. I understood it clearly. My throat felt like it was closing and I started feeling a bit numb. She asked if I understood and I said yes in almost a whisper.

I stood on the porch waiting for “someone” to come talk to me. And then I saw them… The Sheriff’s officer from our county followed by a car from the TBI (TN Bureau of Investigation). My heart sank.

Sheriff and TBI

I immediately ran inside and yelled for her husband that they were there. We both ran back outside and greeted them – half knowing what was coming but hoping for something else.

I remember his face. I remember his eyes. I remember the sadness as he told us, “There was an incident tonight and we’re sorry to inform you but, Ms Bradshaw has passed away.”

Her husband sobbed, I ran around to the back yard and sobbed. I have no idea why I ran there. I came back around and asked the Sheriff, “What about Penny and the kids? What happened to Penny and the kids?”

He said he didn’t have any information on them and I could tell by the worried look on his face that he really didn’t have any information yet. I cried some more saying, “Oh my god! He killed them too. I just know it.”

Her husband wasn’t handling the news well (who would?) and the Sheriff and TBI stayed with us for a little bit. I went inside and asked if I should call her sister and he said yes to please do so.

Just before that, Leslie’s daughter peeked her head out of the hallway door, I looked at her and she asked, “Dotchi, Where’s my mom?” I wanted to tell her and say something and hug her and hold her and tell her it was okay to cry… but I opened my mouth and what came out was, “Go back to bed for now, honey. Okay?” She said okay, closed the door… and I felt like I wasn’t actually the one that said that. I was weirded out by the experience and I felt horrible because I felt like she knew.

Calling her sister

I called her sister at 2:16 in the morning. I don’t know why I remember that time so clearly but I do. I didn’t know what to say when she answered. She sounded like I had just woke her and was a bit confused as to why I was calling at that hour. I finally took a deep breath and just spit it out. “Leslie went with Penny to drop of Penny’s kids with [asshole] and he killed Leslie and I don’t know where Penny and the kids are!”

I stopped because I couldn’t breathe for a second. It’s like my lungs just didn’t work. I couldn’t inhale as I heard her sad voice cry back into the phone at me, “Not my sister!” And I lost it and cried some more.

She said she would come get the kids for Leslie’s husband. She showed up and talked to TBI and the Sheriff (I think…) and then we packed bags of clothes for the kids and we cried in the laundry room together.

She told me, “You don’t know how much you mean to her.” and then I told her, “You have no idea how much she looked up to you.” And then we cried some more. She loaded the kids into her car and I cried as she drove away with them.

I got my kids up and told them to get in the van and I would explain what was going on when we got home.

Not My Leslie

When we got home, we all went into my room and sat on the bed. I told them that Leslie had died. The one who doesn’t deserve to be named killed her. We all sobbed in a pile of hugs and tears. I remember one of them bawling, “NOT MY LESLIE!” and then one of them asked, “Where is Penny and her kids?”

I told him I didn’t know. They didn’t have information on them but to be honest, we should hope they are alive but not get our hopes up yet. And then we cried some more until we fell asleep.

The next morning

Technically, it was the same morning. Saturday, I stood on the porch and cried some more. I went back in and hugged my kids when they cried and then went back outside on my porch and sobbed my heart out. I felt like the whole plan was in vain and the longer it was, the more I was convinced he killed them all.

Finally, my phone rang. It was Penny’s sister, Lisa. She asked me if I had heard. I told her what I knew and snot slobbered and bawled into the phone that I didn’t know what happened to Penny and the kids. She told me that Penny was in ICU in Chattanooga and the kids were in protective custody.

I found out the visiting times and for the first time that day, I wasn’t crying. I packed my kids into my car and sped to Nana’s house. We ran in and I told her I was leaving the boys with her, Penny was in ICU, and that I would be back. Just before that, she had seen the news on what was happening.

Seeing Penny and Realization

She said okay… and to this day, I still feel bad because I didn’t ask her to watch them, I TOLD her to watch them. I think I called her on the way. I don’t remember. But I felt so bad because that is not like me. But this was an emergency.

At the hospital, I got to see Penny. I cried when I saw her. I just knew she wasn’t going to make it. She woke up long enough to say that Leslie tried to call me. I knew she did.

Weeks later when Penny was moved to a room, I got to see her kids too. And that was when it hit me, what I did, I saved lives. That was Leslie’s whole goal. To make sure the asshole didn’t hurt her friend or her kids.

It was weird. That day I came to see Penny there were a lot of people there. Everyone kept asking, “Is that her?” and then hugging me and thanking me for calling the police. It was a bitter sweet moment because I lost my best friend but I saved five people too… No… Leslie saved five people with my help.

When I went into Penny’s room, it was full of people and her children were there. I hugged Penny and then sat in a chair while her kids talked to her. Someone mentioned me and I am not sure how it came up again but it was mentioned that Penny and the kids were alive because of me.

Penny’s oldest daughter turned to me and asked, “You’re the one who called?” I nodded and then she and her siblings came up to me all hugged me and thanked me. Her oldest daughter looked up at me with such gratitude and said, “You’re my hero!”

Oh my. My heart hurt so bad. No child should have to witness what they did or go through what they did. But here they were, alive and hugging me and calling me a hero. All I could do was cry and hug them. I was grateful Leslie’s plan worked and they were safe but it tore me apart inside because I lost my best friend too.

I got to see Leslie’s kids again. I still keep in touch with the older two. Penny’s children are growing up because of Leslie. Penny became a huge advocate for Domestic Violence Awareness. I helped a few other ladies escape dangerous relationships also.

Domestic violence shook my world. I never really dealt with Leslie’s death. I still cry for losing her. But I feel like it is time for me to share her story.

Because sometimes domestic violence looks like this

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Penny Waldroup in the ambulance after the incidence.

But sometimes, it also looks like this.

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Leslie’s headstone.

 

We are Purple for Domestic Violence

For the entire month of October, Crazy Woman’s Journal is going purple for Domestic Violence Awareness. You can read the story here.

If you need help or know someone who does, you can visit this link, 0r call 1-800-799-SAFE(7233)

Java Asks “How Long Do You Rest Between Cleaning?”

I have a question … Let’s pretend that you are having a pretty good day not the best but pretty good. How long do you rest in between chores?

I got this text the other day and thought it would be better to go into details on the blog. I answered in text but it’s a shorter answer. Here it is:

Usually I work or clean for 10-30 minutes then rest for about an hour. Not even kidding. On a good day, I can rest for about 30 minutes.

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My longer answer is this…

When I was younger, I had this cleaning routine. My house looked GOOD! I was on top of the world. Now, not so much. I pick my battles with the house. I have levels of cleaning depending on how bad I hurt.

The Lowest Level: High Pain Day

On these days, I have a few lists I follow. Wake up routine, 420 List, and Before You Sleep.

My wake up routine is pretty simple now. I can do it on most of my horrible days. This is done after I go pee and take Jackjack outside to pee. This is done between the time I get up and 4:20 PM (the next list).

  • Get up!
    • Fold your blanket. I sleep in my recliner so I don’t make my bed. This is what I do instead. It becomes the dog/cat bed during the day. At night, they all sleep with me.
    • Feed Pets
    • Water Bowls
    • Scoop Poop (litter box). I’ll be honest, I do slack on this one. I try but some days my shoulders just kill me (have ever since Physical Therapy. I’ve never been the same).
    • Computer stuff (whatever I need to do that day)
  • Bathroom
    • Run a toilet brush around the toilet (usually done while I am in there)
    • Spray the tub if it needs it. (This literally takes one minute)
    • Wipe up your mess around the sink.
    • Empty the trash if needed. (I don’t empty the kitchen trash can though, it’s way to heavy for me.)
  • Kitchen
    • Did you eat something? (I have no appetite. I forget to eat)
    • Start dinner thawing or start it in the crock-pot. Plan what you are going to eat today.
    • Get someone to unload the dishwasher (I’ll explain later)
    • Load dishwasher.
    • Have someone start the dishwasher. (I’ll explain later)
  • Clothes
    • Did you change clothes? (Sometimes the answer is “Nope.” *checks box*)
    • Gather dirty laundry (on laundry day)
    • Look for dirty dishes and take them to the sink.
  • While you can still bend, tidy up the floor. Do it while you can! It will drive you nuts later!
  • Uncheck the 420 and before you sleep list.

420 Pain List

This list is all about pain management.

  • Have you taken your CBD oil?
  • Vape if you need it. 1 puff, wait 5 minutes. Repeat as needed.
  • Have coffee. How’s the headache?
  • Check the counter and sink.
  • Eat something.
  • Gather dishes and laundry. (This keeps me up and moving so I can’t just sit there and wallow in my own misery)

Before Bed or Sleep

This can be done from 420 on. It doesn’t matter when I do it, as long as it gets done.

  • Rotate dishes (someone empties, I load, someone starts)
  • Clean up the sink.
  • Clean the counters.
  • Set coffee pot
  • Set alarms
  • Scoop Poop
  • One Spot. (Put up shoes, purse, backpack, leash, coat, etc. Have it all in one spot so if you have to leave it is right there.)
  • Plan your meal for tomorrow (This is usually a mental thing. I just think, “bean burritos sound good” and that’s it.)
  • Uncheck the other lists
  • Go for a walk with Jackjack.

A note about the dishwasher.

Where I put (I’ll explain later) next to the dishwasher… this is the explaining part. I can either unload, load, OR start the dishwasher. I can’t do all three or I will be chair bound for days (or a week) from the pain. So, I have one kid unload, I load, and the other kid starts the dishwasher.

If we have a couple loads to catch up on, then the dishwasher stays parked in the kitchen (it’s a rolling dishwasher) and I will pile all the clean dishes on the deep freezer, load it again, and start it. Later, the kid that unloads can go through and put the pile of dishes away.

How I get shit done!

I’ll be honest, lately I haven’t done so well on this. But I am trying. Mostly, struggling. But still trying.

I do the basics first. That’s the three lists above. If that is all I can do that day, then so be it. That is all that gets done. If I can do more, then I use Motivated Moms to get me going and keep me motivated.

Frankly, four years of chronic pain gets to me sometimes. I don’t have pain pills to help the agony. I have marijuana and that is it. Some days, I push that to it’s limits.

I can’t clean like I could before. So using motivated moms makes me feel like less of a piece of crap. I feel like a failure because I struggle with my house. Having a check list that I can see that I am doing these chores and they got done… and it was EXTRA from my lists, that makes me not criticize myself so hard.

The rest breaks

I take rest breaks every 15 to 30 minutes, depends on how bad I am hurting. And then I stay put until the pain dies down some. That could take 30 minutes or it could take two hours. Depends on how horrible the pain is. 

If my pain is just out of control that day, I smoke and then take a nap. Some days, my kids know that I am going to be stuck in my chair all day. It happens. 

What is your cleaning like? Do you have to take breaks?

Photo A Day: E, F, and G

E is for… was specially requested by my best friend, Nikky!

E is for Evil!

Story behind this is that my cat Sweetie hates Nikky with a passion. How much does Sweetie hate her? She would act cute and adorable so Nikky would pick her up. Once she was up near her face, Sweetie would claw Nikky in the face, purposefully aiming for her eyeballs. Sweetie REALLY hates Nikky!!!

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Sweetie is adorable… when sleeping.

F is for… FUZZY!

As in, “Oh darling, I think the girls are drunk. Their faces are looking a little fuzzy.”

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G is for green

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Don’t mind the torn off middle nail.

I even painted my nails for this one!