Blog Archive

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hard Times Next Door

Hard times, hard times come again no more
Many days you have lingered
Around my cabin door;
Oh, hard times come again no more

On Monday night I went by Dawn's house to see her mother. Times are very hard there.

Her dad moved out of the house, I think in late January. He couldn't take Dawn's and Julian's problems any more, her mother told me. Apparently mothers don't get such choices.

When I walked in the house, their living room was cold and drafty and the TV and sofa had been moved further inside, into the dining room. They had hung up a quilt between the living and dining rooms to block the draft. Dawn's mom told me there was a problem with the furnace and they were using space heaters. This is a big and very common problem in the neighborhood, and it causes a lot of fires in the winter.

I sat down on the sofa with Mom and little Angelito, who is almost one and a half now. He's talking a little in Spanish, but I don't understand his speech very well yet. Pretty soon Mom was in tears. She hasn't worked outside the home in more than a decade. So far Dad is putting in some money for the mortgage and food for the kids, but she's afraid that won't last. Big Picture is helping her do the forms for food stamps and CEDA, which helps poor people keep their gas and electric service going.

Yesterday? Tuesday? I forget-- Dad was on the street while I was clearing snow. He was dropping off Joey and Angelito after spending some time with them. He says he's still going to do the fence between our houses--he's still waiting for materials from Indiana. So at least he hasn't totally vanished from his sons' lives. Joey has a good relationship with his dad and I'd like to see them keep it together if possible.

I know it was Tuesday that I went to see my friends from St. Joseph's to get some help with the furnace. (The husband in that couple had come out last winter at my request.) This time they thought the furnance needed a real pro. Fortunately, the wife's nephew is certified in furnace maintenance and repair. He was willing to donate the labor; I said I'd pay for parts if any were needed. He was supposed to go there yesterday. Nobody called me so I hope that means it went OK. We can't have their house blowing up--that would be bad for my property values, not to mention my property, life and limb.

Dawn is working after school and weekends in a dollar store in the neighborhood. Looks like she's the main breadwinner right now. She is still going to school. We still haven't had more than a passing phone conversation.

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