Friday, September 16, 2011

September 2011 Update

Hi to all my many fans!  LOL.  I've been dealing with my one hour per day computer time limit at the library, so have not posted since May.  Yikes!

Since last time I posted, I have been up to the following things:

1)  Moved to HUD group housing in a fabulous new neighborhood.  No shootings since I've been here.
2)  Graduated from a Domestic Violence Survivors Support program.
3)  Made a lot of jewelry.
4)  Made an arrangement to rent two shelves at the Elk Grove Fine Arts Council starting Oct. 1st.
5)  Had a group show of artwork at a downtown Sacramento gallery as a fundraiser for My Sister's House.
6)  Donated a mixed media piece for the Art Bra Show 2011 for the Sacramento Food Bank and breast cancer research.
7)  Got my second denial from SSA; hired a good lawyer.
8)  Became a member of the Women's Wisdom Art Therapy program at the Sacramento Food Bank.
9)  Drank a lot of coffee and ate a lot of candy.
10) Made a lot of mixed media pieces.

Goals for next post:  Learn how to upload photos and postings from my phone!

Happy creating!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Omnihomeful Chronicles Part V - A typical day

A typical day for me lately:

5:30am Awaken to the sounds of pots and pans banging and bad singing in the kitchen right outside my door at the shelter.

6:00am  Give up trying to get back to sleep.  Have a steamy cup of bad coffee and do the crossword puzzle in the newspaper before anyone else gets to it.  Spend the next two to three hours trying to wake up all the way.

9:00am  Take meds & vitamins, vie for the shower, hopefully get a chance to brush teeth but have gum if needed.

10:00am  Go to a doctor appointment, a support group, government benefits offices, or other similarly fabulously fun appointment.

12:00  Go to the grocery store to buy something for lunch that doesn't need cooking and that qualifies for food stamps.  Mmm, strawberries and cottage cheese and a dinner roll.  Good thing they have spoons and napkins over by the in-store coffee shop, otherwise, I'd be eating like a puppy from a doggie dish.

2:00pm  Try to get some computer time at the library.  Oops, no change for the durned parking meter, got to drive to another library with no meters but must use precious gas.  Whew!  60 minutes to check all my e-mail, facebook, blog, do research on housing and SSA benefits. 

3:00pm  Please god, I need a nap!  Try to snooze through kitchen pots, pans, bad singing.

5:00pm  Dinner at the shelter.  So much "man" food, meat and potatoes or chicken and rice.  Please give me some vegetables!

5:05pm  Do daily chore at the shelter, after dinner clean-up.  Man, those guys sure eat fast!  Wash many dishes and GREASY industrial-sized pots and pans.

6:00pm  Nightly shelter support group.  I'm feeling a little support grouped out.  But I do love the Monday night "Here's what your meds mean" meeting.  Who knew how truly complicated the brain really is?

7:00pm  Watch TV.  Hope to god the guys let the gals watch a sit-com or American Idol instead of sports or
crime shows.  So much fun trying to watch what you want with 21 other people trying to watch what they want.

9:00pm  Relax with a book from the library.  No, wait, roommate is already asleep.  She can sleep through anything, lucky girl.  Try reading in the dining room.  No, too many pots and pans and bad singing in the kitchen.  Try the TV room.  Ok, at least I can tune out the endless crime-solving.

10:00pm  Fall into bed exhausted.  Able to sleep through banging pots and pans and bad singing.  I need another nap after I wake up in the morning.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Omnihomeful Chronicles Part IV - A Word About Food Stamps and Welfare

Lately, there has been a lot of news about modifying what types of items recipients are allowed to buy with their food stamps and welfare benefits.  There seems always to be a concern about people buying sodas and candy with their food stamps and about buying liquor and cigarettes with their welfare cash.

I admit, I have bought some candy and cookies with mine, but for the most part, I buy healthy food.  Is it wrong for people down on their luck to have a Butterfinger or a bag of Frosted Circus Animal Cookies?  I say no!  One thing that people don't think about when they think about food stamps is that a large percentage of recipients are homeless.  There are lots of rules about what you cannot buy, including any hot food or fast food.  Because homeless people rarely have stoves or microwaves or refrigerators, this puts a huge limit on what they can eat.  They have to buy expensive pre-wrapped prepared sandwiches, salads, and other cold items available in the deli section of the grocery store.  You know those hot rotisserie chickens you like to buy for an easy meal tonight?  Homeless people can't buy those with food stamps.  That's why the store also carries cold ones.  Some stores, like Target, won't let you put any deli items on your food stamps.  This is where the welfare benefits come in handy.  Welfare in Sacramento County is about $200 per month after the $40 deduction for Indigent Medical Care and the $10 deduction for a bus pass (whether or not you need one).  $200 is not a lot of money to buy all of your personal care items like shampoo, toilet paper, deoderant, wet wipes for those necessary spit baths; your occassional need for hot food not covered by food stamps; your cell phone bill so you can stay in touch with friends and family, doctors and creditors; and for those lucky enough to own a car, gas and insurance.  Seriously!  Could you make $200 stretch that far?  So, yes, sometimes people just gotta have their cigarettes, and some desperate souls must have their alcohol, but for the most part, welfare recipients are buying things that you buy everyday without batting an eyelash.

Okay, I will step down from my soapbox now.  Just wanted to give the folks concerned about misuse of welfare a little reality check.  Please remember this next time you bite into a Snickers or have a glass of cabernet with dinner.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quick Check-In Tuesday April 26, 2011

Thanks Starbear and M for your sweet words and offers of support!  The Universe is so full!

In the last few days, I have had to stand up for myself in the face of a very uncomfortable situation at the emergency shelter where I was living.  The response of support I received from several different crisis lines and case workers was amazing.  No matter what your situation, you do NOT have to accept unacceptable behavior from those in authority positions over you.  Hmm, if only I'd learned this lesson years ago, LOL!

A quote from my favorite zen osho, Sokai of Haku-un Ji Zen Center, "Carry on, little soldier."

Love to all and gratitude for the beauty of life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Omnihomeful Chronicles III - Help and Hope Are All Around

This week I discovered the most awesome resource for homeless people in Sacramento County.  It is called The Guest House, sponsored by El Hogar Community Services.  It's in "the circle" at 1400 A Street next door to the VOA shelter, a few blocks away from the Loaves and Fishes street of clinics and resources.

It's not fun to get the initial appointment, but it is so worth the very early morning shivering wait.  Right now, people are starting to line up around 5:00 am, and only the first two to four people will get an appointment.  I made the mistake of thinking 6:30am would be early enough for the 8:00am opening time.  Wrong!  I was lucky enough to get a stand-by appointment and met with a wonderful in-take advisor yesterday.  I was completely wowed by the thoroughness of the assessment questionnaires for mental health services, SSI help, housing assistance, and the compassion and enthusiasm of the staff.

I continue to be amazed by the interesting stories I hear from all the homeless people I meet at the various agencies, clinics, and other resource places.  Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Jeanine while waiting for The Guest House to open.  She lives in a tent nearby, but you would never know it if you saw her walking down any other street.  She is clean, well-groomed right down to her neon green nail polish, dressed in normal cool weather clothing that is like new.  Jeanine takes it upon herself to spread good cheer and helpful reminders to keep the attitudes good.  She kept all the "waitees" laughing and amen-ing like we were at a fun church.  Seriously, I think she needs her own talk show, "The Jeanine Chronicles".

My big question for Jeanine was, "How do you stay so clean and where do you go to the bathroom?"  She goes to Mary's House for a weekly grooming package that includes soap, shampoo, deoderant, a comb or brush, one or two new pairs of socks, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.  There is no washing machine there, but they let her wash her clothes in a big sink.  There are a few places around where she can shower or she can get a quick sink clean-up in any bathroom close by.  Cleanliness is next to godliness for Jeanine.  Jeanine's advice is: for goodness sakes, people, always have a clean pair of socks and keep your feet and other smelly bits super clean!  There's no excuse for not taking basic care of yourself.  She doesn't want to smell you walking down the street!

That's it for now.  I've been taking photos with my cell phone of upholstery of the chairs in various waiting rooms around town.  I will be posting them as soon as I figure out how to get them from my phone to this blog.

Big hugs to all my followers.  Keep smiling!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Omnihomeful Chronicles Part II

Hello all my lovely friends and well-wishers!

There is so much to say and only 40 minutes left of library computer time!  Yikes!

The good news is that I have a room in an emergency shelter!  Thank you Freda Walker of Sacramento Self-Help Housing!  If ever there was an angel walking on this earth, it's her.

I have learned so much in the past two weeks.  The most important thing I've learned is, truly, you cannot judge a book by it's cover.  I've spent almost every day at the welfare office.  There are so many steps and so many different sets of paperwork you have to fill out and in-take interviews to go to and group meetings to attend.  It's truly daunting.  Anyone who is willing to go through all that, especially when they have a chronic illness or two or three is deeply committed to their future.  Every day is a lesson in NOT losing hope.  I have met so many nice people at the welfare office, both recipients and workers.  People that I would have judged harshly in the past after a quick glance are now friendly people down on their luck willing to help others in similar situations, giving newly disadvantaged people little bits of information that will same them hours of frustration.  A simple thing like which line to stand in for what type of benefits can save a person big disappointments and tears.

One of the people I met on my second trip for General Assistance was an older woman named Maria.   We'd been sitting next to each other, waiting, for a half hour when we heard the name Willie Brown called out.  We glanced at each other and started laughing.  "Do you think they mean the former mayor of San Francisco!?"  That broke the ice and we started chatting about our situations.  She confessed that she had lived in her car for a long period of time and that she had gotten to like it.  She spent everyday going to rest stops and parks where she would have a barbeque or picnic, meet lots of interesting people, relax and enjoy nature, and then run through the sprinklers at night to get clean.  She seemed to enjoy the sprinklers the best because it made her feel like a kid again.  She felt a little guilty about how much she enjoyed the whole experience, about how free it made her feel.  She is now living with a daughter and helping out with the grandchildren.  She had become homeless by unexpected circumstances.  She had been an apartment manager for 15 years in a stable, well-kept complex.  Her employer passed away and the heirs sold the property.  The new owners let her go in order to bring in their own people.  She had been making just enough to get by and had no savings.

Waiting in line to have my picture taken and my fingerprints digitally recorded into the county welfare computer system, I met two very nice couples who had all lost their jobs and had been unable to find new work no matter how hard they tried.  Both couples were in the age group not yet ready to retire but not as desirable to employers as younger people in the labor pool who cost less in wages and health premiums.

Another couple I met in line for food stamps looked shell-shocked and repeatedly complained about potential employers telling them that they were no longer current in the latest developments in the field they worked in for 15 years and had only recently lost their jobs.  This couple was also in the over 50 crowd.

Despite the dreariness of this process, most of the people I meet who are in the same boat do everything they can to try to stay positive and to treat everyone they meet with warmth and compassion.  We're all in this together and it feels better to hold each other in esteem than to give up.

I only have 8 minutes of library computer time left, so will sign off now.  Stay tuned for interesting developments. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Omnihomeful Chronicles Part 1

I have been officially homeless for the last three days.  I've been staying at a temporary address with some relatives for 13 months.  And now I am on my own and living in my car for three days.

A wonderful friend was able to provide a soft comfy bed for me the last few days and tonight will be my first night sleeping in the car.  Last night, I was laying in that soft comfy bed completely freaked out about my plight.  I kept thinking to myself that tomorrow would be the scariest day of my life.  Boy did that make me completely hopelessly depressed.  And then I asked myself a question.  Is it true that tomorrow will be the scariest day of my life.  Have I ever done anything scarier than sleep in my car?  Doh!  Of course!  I've done a few vision quests for which I stayed on a desert mountaintop by myself for three days.  That was a lot scarier (on the first night only) than sleeping in a relatively comfy relatively warm locked car in a secure location.  Then I thought of all the times I've been camping.  This is even safer than that.  There are several gas stations and fast food places nearby, so I have a place to deposit my daily excretions.  There's a Wellness and Recovery Center not too terribly far away where I can shower and do my laundry for free.  I have food stamps.  I have several free support groups I can go too.  I think I'll be OK!  I'm not homeless, I'm omnihomeful!

I will be posting frequently from the library computer in between appointments at the welfare office and the Social Security Office.  I'll keep you updated on this labyrinthine process and pass on resources as I find them.  I have more time for arting, so I will be making things from supplies I have left over from my salary days and from things I find.  I'll take pictures with my cell phone and e-mail them to myself and then post them here.  Fun!!!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Forgive me, muses, it's been two months since my last post.

So much has been going on.  I've been arting and fretting and pushing and crashing a lot!

On the art front, since my last post I've submitted to two calls to artists for POSSIBLE inclusion in books:

Lunaria Financial's Wild Money:

and Seth Apter's The Pulse from my favorite blog The Altered Page at
Getting some work in this book would be a total dream come true, but just creating the pieces to submit was reward enough.  Here are some sneak peaks, can't show the full images until the editors have made their final choices.

Took the Strathmore Art Journal Workshop Online:

made jewelry for my niece for her birthday (sorry, no pics of the jewelry):

tried out another zentangle:

and made a project for Artellaland's Mystery Mentor first annual trade!

Whew!  And all of this in between naps.

On the fretting front, I have been hanging on to my temporary housing arrangements by my fingernails.  I've been pushing and crashing about how to have an income through this transition time with the disability claim pending.

What an interesting couple of months of uncertainty and the joy of creating.

I received two major rejection letters this month.  The first one was very exciting!  I received the kindest letter from the Creativity in Motion Grant committee that I was not chosen this year, but to please submit again in the future.  It's my first official artistic reject letter, and I couldn't be happier.  This letter is evidence that I put myself out there in a bold way that I wouldn't have believed five years ago.  So here's a big pat on the back for me.  For any of you who have not applied for grants, I highly recommend it.  The process of writing a grant is a wonderful clarification, focus, and motivation tool.  Even if you don't submit it, it is worth the time.

The second reject letter was from...drumroll please...the Social Security Administration.  According to them, because I've had responsible jobs and a high level of education and had the ability to fill out the claim and drive myself to the appointment, I couldn't possibly be unable to work.  I should be able to work at least six hours a day including walking and standing.  I can't even stay awake for six hours in a row and get dizzy if I stand up for more than a few minutes.  A very good attorney advised me that I won't be able to successfully appeal without a doctor signing a letter saying that the various health conditions I have keep me from working, and I no longer have health insurance or any way to pay a doctor, and the doctors I did go to in the last few years all have policies against writing disability letters.  Nice!  I was very depressed about this for a few days.  But there is a silver lining!  It's time for me to set up an Etsy shop and start making some money doing what I love.  It's a job I can do in between naps and nothing makes me happier than making stuff.

Today, I had a kismet miracle.  I am taking SARK's Dream Boogie teleclass, something I can do while laying down.  We break into small groups each class and practice using the tools we are learning.  At tonight's class, there was a woman in my group who does work related to the non-profit resource center I have been needing to check out for support to help me through this whole health ordeal.  She said the perfect words to me that helped me drop my fears about it.  She simply said, "I can assure you that it is a place of hope."

So for everyone out there dealing with huge life transitions, I salute you, and I know we will get through this.