Not Dead Yet (The Brief Announcement of my most recent disappearance from the world.)

death_oldwoodcutNot Dead Yet    (The Not So Brief Announcement Of My Most Recent Disappearance From The World, And The Adventures That Occurred.)

By Brenda Ann Eckels, aMGC


Anytime I vanish from my online community,, or from my blog,, Twitter, Google+, or any other of the various social media channels I habit, for the first several days no one notices. Practically all the Facebook friends I have, whether I know then in real life or not, know that I am seriously disabled with multiple sclerosis and a host of other problems.

I always imagine then that it takes at least a week for anyone to sit up anvictorian_telephone1d say “Hey, where is that half nun writer with all the opinions that make Republicans shudder and the ability to throw out questions on Catholic life that start entire pages long discussions?” A few might, and do, then send me private messages, emails, or if they know it, call or text me.

soundthealarmDisappear for going on three weeks? Then things get serious. Distant family wonder whether to cash in life insurance policies, close friends decide to call hospitals, and finding I am not at any of the ones nearby, begin pelting me with private messages along the lines of “Where are you? Are you ok?”, and my boss at Convergent Streams adds “find Brenda” to his 22 item code green To Do list (his church, his wife Dana, and his kids get all the code yellow and code reds).

A few really, really close friends (consisting of those who were standing nearby, propping us up in the hurricane that hit our lives last year from August to October) basically make one last effort to get me on the phone, and then just show up.

And this time was not much different than the others. I not only got sick, I got hit with an extraordinary amount of unpacking and sorting of over 125 boxes that arrived from storage the same day my furniture from a wonderful charity called Operations Blessings did.

Soon, I was dragging my wheelchair from box to box, desperately trying to find the things one needs to live with like pots, pans, dishes, clothing, shoes, and bathroom towels. I have yet to find my measuring cups.

In between this unpacking, I discovered even more boxes packed in the most malicious manner by those who assaulted, harassed, and slandered me (and Brian and Jamie) last year. Each one of those was like a sucker punch to the gut, making me once again feel that queasy fear that if my mere possessions could be handled so roughly, what might happen if I unwittingly bumped into one of them at Walmart?

In some ways, the boxes Brian had packed were worse emotionally – every box carefully labeled, sometimes in 2 inch high letters on multiple sides, the contents inside swaddled like tiny babies in newspaper, cloth, bubble wrap. He was so sick…his thyroid goiter alone made him look like he had a spare tire under his neck, and so much else was wrong. The dichotomy of how the boxes he packed had been done with so much care and attention, where the others had been treated as if my precious things were nothing but rancid garbage brought me to tears or my knees in prayer or both many a night.

Then of course, there were the boxes, bags, and totes from what should have been the happiest day of our lives – our wedding day August 16, 2014.

So, you can imagine me, a year later, still waiting for explanations and apologies, trying to start over in a new apartment, sick, sore, exhausted, wheeling to an unlabeled box or tote, terrified of whether it would hold:

  • a happy memory,
  • more of items damaged beyond use,
  • or a memory of incredible pain

Pretty much everything you see here from mouth and tongue to bowel and bladder has something wrong with it. This is what my insides will look like if I fail to keep my weight, proteins, and other nutrients up and have to have a g-tube put in to eat ensure the rest of my life.

I was doing this mostly alone,  while at the same time barely able to eat from gastroperesis in my stomach, heartburn in my throat, and IBS symptoms in my intestine causing pain in my throat, stomach and colon. At times I was literally bent over double as pain from uterine break though bleeding escaping my broken and prolapsed uterus, and the vertigo and dizzy spells of MS were aggravated by the anemia I had been battling since March took their toll. The pain “cocktail” that would allow me, Cinderella like, to walk and lift and move for up to 48 hours (albeit with braces on many parts of my body) had the most awful symptoms when they wore off, leaving me a prisoner in the bathroom for hours.

Except for my case manager, my friend Niki, Niki and her husband Mike and whatever kids they could scrounge up, my adoptive parents Ma and Dad Johnson, or Brian, I was by and large alone.

A government glitch meant that my chronic health care had been caught in the bureaucratic machine. I have had a case manager, a weekly home care nurse, and from 10 to 17 hours a week of personal care attendants or LNA’s since 2006 until the final brutal threats, lies, and institutional assaults against us in October 2014 to help keep me as healthy and active as possible. When I lost those supports, I nearly lost my life more than once, and I have lost track of how many hospital trips I had in addition to the 2 ½ day stay in the cardiac unit.

For 7 years, I had all kinds of personal care, nursing, and professional help. I had a large circle of friends and my bio family was not yet emigrated to California.

This time, My bio family is mostly either in California or scattered to the wind, my finances are ruined, my health is in shambles, the supports are missing, and I don’t even have a reliable car.  

My case manager, though a separate agency from the chronic illness program, is amazing and drives me to appointments when I need to because I can’t afford the para transit van for wheelchair users for all of them. She has helped me sort boxes, take out trash, and keep at least some semblance of a schedule. But her caseload is huge.

There is no nurse, and while I try my best I frequently make mistakes trying to fill my complicated planners.

There are no aides to help relive some of the burden, or at least prompt me that it is time to eat, to cook for me, or to shower me. Except for Niki and Brian to help with showers and so on, it is just me. Brian tries his best to make sure I get a shower at least once a week.

So for day after day, I would drag myself out of bed, into the chair, and take my temp. If it was under 100 degrees, I checked how bad the bleeding was. As long as I was not soaking blood through a depends within 2 hours, I went to work.

I worked on unpacking, sorting, putting things away, and trying to make sure there was a path to the patio door. Every other place I had lived, your first floor bedroom window counted as your second egress in the case of fire. It was one of my worst mistakes that I hadn’t double checked, as the type of development I joined requires there be two doors available – and I had stacked a month’s worth of boxes in the way of door #2.

This is one of the official engagement photos, a glimpse of who Brian and I were before the final attacks against us in the week prior to and the day of August 16th.

This is one of the official engagement photos, a glimpse of who Brian and I were before the final attacks against us in the week prior to and the day of August 16th. At the time, I was suffering sleep deprivation and exhaustion, but was walking without a cane and was on a very moderate program for pain control. I also still could smile with an open mouth as I still had all my front teeth. One reason I avoid being photographed now.

The first bad night was when I opened a tote and found myself staring at the “I her Mr” and “I’m his Mrs” signs that had decorated our places at the head table. I cried there curled up in a ball on the floor for hours. I am not sure when, but somewhere after midnight I finally got the strength to get back in my chair and wheel into the bedroom, collapsing on the bed with Booker. I suddenly realized I had cried right through his dinner time. All I could offer him that night was peanut butter crackers I had in my nightstand. He seemed to understand, and curled up against my aching cold knees instead of at my feet.

Another bad night was when my temp was 99.9, my body alternating between freezing and sweats, and the blood soaked depends needing to be changed every 3 hours. The pain was indescribable. But the next day was an inspection of units. I kept cleaning, being too weak to unpack any boxes. (I passed by the way, although they had to shut off the water to part of the development for half a day.)

The best day was when I opened up a random box and discovered the Laura doll my mother had made for me when I was a child.  Originally, none of the wedding attendants were going to carry flowers.  Instead each was going to carry one of the 41 dolls in my collection, all of which had great personal meaning to me.  We had torn the cabin apart trying to find Laura, and had only found one of the dresses from her wardrobe.  I had thought she was lost forever.  Now she sits proudly on the quilt rack my Grandpa Watts made right over me as I sleep.

By October 1st I was covered in the yellow, green, and newer blue bruises from trying to walk and list, carry, unpack, move, hang things up, and all the rest of the parts of setting up an apartment entails.  I had suffered four borderline bowel impactions which I had to treat at home, alone.

This past Saturday, Mike and Niki had not only gotten my business phone working and my desk organized, Mike had fixed my speakers on my pc, and had gotten my backup drive running. He gave a great try to get one of the two printers I own working, but wasn’t able to. He did however help me move 5 big totes and boxes to my storage unit I rent in another town. Niki sat and unraveled and organized one entire large tote of wires, putting the useful ones together, and the tossing the broken ones.

Sunday night…maybe about 4:30pm, I was walking (against doctor’s orders) trying to lean on and push my wheelchair with a basket and bag of laundry to take and put in the washer in the laundry/mail room in another part of the building.

I never made it too the door. The fatigue hit me suddenly, along with a dizzy spell and another attack of uncontrollable burping, my knees buckled, and down to the floor I went. It surprised me, because I had slowed down enough I wasn’t having the breakthrough bleeding anymore, and a recent CBC had showed the anemia now under control. Why can’t I stand up? I wondered.


In addition to the things broken inside me, and the things wrong caused by MS, these areas have been in various levels of constant pain inside sometime in the early 1990’s. In 1995, after escaping a brutally violent first marriage, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

I didn’t even have my cell phone with me, and that same bureaucratic snafu that had some how held up my hone care had also held up my life alert button. I curled up on the cold floor of my entry hall and cried myself to sleep. Honestly, I think it was just exhaustion. The week before I had told my case manager “I can’t keep up this pace. You can only push a mule and work it so hard and it just collapses. I have trouble getting up, I fall asleep during the day if I sit down and don’t keep pushing and working. Is there are word on when my aides will get set up?”

Sunday night, when I finally awoke, I was able to drag the basket and bag off the wheel chair, and to wheel myself to bed. My bills for the month lay half finished on my desk. I felt like my entire body weighed three times what it really does.

I recognized that feeling. It is Fibromyalgia, the feeling you have just run a marathon, all your muscles feel overstretched, pressure points hurt, and you are fatigued beyond belief.

The bills I didn’t finish included the net 10 cell card, and overnight my service was shut off.

By Monday October 5th, Niki had come once, Brian had come with them the day we had the van, and Niki and Mike came this past weekend. Brian had come Monday to do housekeeping, laundry, and shower me, and had come Tuesday to help me get to an appointment. The place was looking more like a home, less like a dirty storage unit.  I was able each day someone came to rest in the wheelchair or the bed at least a little. However, my body was loudly crying “uncle.”

Brian went to call me in the morning, and when he got the message my phone was disconnected, he knew something had gone very very wrong. He was my Personal Care Support Professional, you know..  Even though he had lived with and managed disabilities since birth. His time as my PCSP was way back in our story, before his doctor had told him it was time to stop working part time and apply for SSDI in December 2011.

A_Knight_totherescueThat same morning, Brian decided to just drive down and find out what was going on. He found me, exhausted, still in bed, obviously having not had more than a wash up for days. He found stacks of laundry, piles of dishes, and boxes and totes with labels saying “needs to go in outside storage” “need to sort this” along with my planner with 10 other “To Do’s” while I could barely lift my head off the pillow.

Just like Mike and Niki had done Saturday, he was another of my knights in shining amour.  He cleaned and sorted, like they had done. He did laundry, and cooked me lunch, bringing it to me in bed. Just like Niki had two weeks earlier, he went through boxes and got the items sorted into what rooms they belonged in, and then wheeled me from room to room asking me where this went or that went. By the early evening he had helped me get dressed, and taken me to the credit union, and helped me get one more bill paid.

Also on Monday, Brian played with Booker, and made sure I got into bed early. Yesterday, Tuesday October 6, 2015, Brian helped me on and off the para transit van, on and off the bus, and after my doctor appointment, the reverse, making a 5 ½ hour day to a specialist much easier to manage. He got called away by an emergency, but left me with enough energy to do some light putting away for about 30 minutes before I got into bed to rest and write most of this entry.

None of the three during the times they were here were able to do much about my appetite. Ma and Dad ohnson somehow get me to eat more, but I had no way to get to them, or them to me the past two weeks.  The other help I have gotten from all of them and my case manager has been invaluable.

I tried to work on things today, after sleeping from exhaustion until 11:30am.  I took the Cinderella cocktail, strapped on my braces, and went to work.  I made lemon almond bran breakfast bars, which Booker loved.  Trying to lift the top of the hutch back on the base, about 2:30, my brace encased knee, and then my brace encased shoulder gave out, and I fell, hitting my shoulder in the process.

I am done.  While the floor is strewn with tools, the dishes are not all finished, and the floor never got mopped, I am bed bound now except for about 20 minutes tonight I made Booker dinner, and got myself a drink.  It is 4pm, and I am still in too much pain to sleep, but  it seems to be better.  I finished the edits to this post and added today’s events.  (I had written it yesterday.) I scheduled it to post overnight.

Will I finish everything the landlord wants done by Friday AM?

I doubt it.

I will try my best.

Brian is going to try to come back on Thursday afternoon.

A new agency with professional organizers is giving me a quote for services on Thursday, and might have some last minute tips.

In short I will do my best, and take what help I can get.

But I will not push so hard again that I start bleeding or I collapse.

Even if it costs me this place, which I like very much, I am going to start right now resting more, staying on bed rest as much as possible, and somehow it will have to be enough, because I have very little energy and ability to give.

I will be back on Facebook, Messenger, Google Plus, Good Reads, and all the social media channels I write for or run as soon as I can. But first I need a few more days for me to rest.

In the meantime, please say a prayer for me, and if you can contribute to my fundraiser at so I can get a smart-phone with a big screen to accommodate my MS related vision problems and also use the medical tracking apps that were on my now battery-less tablet.

Yes, I can still use the 4 year old heavy laptop to read email, but a lot of the medical tracking software is Android only, and Text messaging is getting quite hard on my eyes, especially since the handset I have has a 4″ cracked screen.

For those folks from family to Facebook friends who have sent messages,  thank you for caring ,for praying for me, my medical team and Case Manager, my volunteer caregivers Ma and Dad Johnson, Mike, Niki  & their family and school aged friends, and for Brian. I am very grateful for the messages and prayers, even if too exhausted to write back.

It is Wednesday 5pm. I have to sleep. This will post sometime this week, I hope, and let everyone know that although I suffer and battle…


To see more by this artist, click on the picture. (c)

I survive still. God is with us…

my favorite prayer being the Glory Be: 

Glory Be To The Father God, The Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. 

As it was from the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.


The Divine is in the air we breathe and the people in our lives.

The Divine is within us, and in the person of Jesus Christ, he is strong enough to carry our battered bodies when we can’t stand.

Take care,


Leave a comment

Filed under Catholicism, disability, Domestic Violence, Family, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis and other Neurological Diseases, Religion and Faith

Phone Calls and Automobiles

Last Weekend In August, 2015


a call from a friend can make a cold bed rest day just so much better!

You know who you are, and yeah I can’t wait until we are both healthy enough to get together too!victorian_telephone1

On a sadder note, I think my indoor thermometer is broken. It says 70…but feels more like 50, except twice when I wheeled to the kitchen. Those two times it felt like it was 85 in there. I have checked the ovens, the burners, and yep, both are off.

Now trying to find thermometer. Did my coldness come from anemia and relief from menopausal hot flashes, or do I have an infection somewhere I don’t really have feeling and I have a fever? The joys of having multiple disabilities.

Hopefully it is nothing.These are the kind of things that occupy a mind of a home bound diasabled person as soon as the phone call is over.

And while I was glad to hear from that friend, I am praying earnestly for one I didn’t talk to today.

My best friend, who has been so sick, has now had a preexisting problem with his left foot become much worse, and who has a condition that makes it hard for his medicine to work, which makes his TBI so bad it’s not safe for him to cook, drive, make good decisions, or operate machinery.

Not that he has much issue with that as he, too, is holding a beat up car together with band aids and victorian_automobile2bubble gum.

So, prayed an entire St. Francis Peace Seed chaplet for him and his car, and going to try and fix his favorite Roman Dominican short rosary for him so he can have it to hold. He lives in a town with no mass transit, and spent all last winter home bound.

Prayed also for friends Joyce and Richard, who unless they take a bus or get a ride are home bound like I mostly am. Amazingly, I got to talk on the phone to them today also. To talk to two friends in one day is..well for me it is amazing.  Between MS and Anemia, I am not concious often enough.

So Joyce and I traded notes about the folks over there and the folks over here, and had a shorter, but very nice chat. Her husband, her, and I all miss the days we used to go shopping together, or take turns having potlucks at each others homes.

old fashioned automobile

old fashioned automobile

The friend who called me this morning is just barely hanging on to her car. My best friend’s car is falling apart. Joyce and her husband just made the mistake of being disabled and old. I don’t have a car, and doubt if I will ever be able to afford one now that it would need to be somewhat wheelchair friendly..

It gets worse. Those of us who are often home bound and who have home care aides shudder at what some of these hardworking medical professionals are driving because the pay is so low.

So many of us elderly, disabled, low income working folks, and single parents just can’t afford decent cars. Even those who can, often have to choose between gas to get to the job or the doctor and heat, lights, food.

How do you get to the doctor or the pharmacy when you are home bound? How do you get to the grocery store? Or your brother’s funeral two towns over?

How do you pay for repairs, or a car payment and insurance on a fixed income that hasn’t even been risen to cover the outrageous gouging by Kraft, Nabisco, and General Mills?  I still can’t believe that if your adjusted income after rent and taxes is even one penny over $973, you don’t qualify for food stamps.  With the typical car payment being close to $300, insurance being at least $100, heat and medical – what’s on earth is left to buy food with?

How do you afford a car payment for a reliable car, that as a home care worker you will spend at least 3 hours a day – not reimbursed – driving from client to client, when the pay is so low you can’t pay a payment, insurance, and gasoline?

Today was a good day in being able to talk on the phone with three friends, and to do some praying for my best friend even if I didn’t get to talk to him today.Open air Old Fashioned car

But even those good things come tinged with the realization that:

  1. before the cuts triggered by the Tea Party shutdowns,
  2. before the gas companies were allowed to charge outrageous prices in poor neighborhoods, while rich folks with fat checkbooks get special “club discounts” because they don’t have to check the balance each time they gas up,
  3. back before states started dismantling social safety nets, and
  4. before the 1% stopped hosting and going to gala fundraisers for homeless shelters and food banks,

We – all of us that talked today, and even my best fried….we all might have spent the day together in person, and had a BBQ. Chances are we would have bought charcoal and some chicken, maybe some BBQ sauce and contributed to the economic growth of our community.  We would have laughed and shared our sufferings, and we would have had a good healthy meal, eaten slowly and savored.

Lack of decent, affordable transportation robbed us today of our Pursuit of Happiness and our Freedom, and contributed to the continuation of the economic depression.

Things need to change.

woman_victorian_webBrenda The Writer

Leave a comment

Filed under disability, Family, Human Rights, Life After The New Depression, Mental Health, Multiple Sclerosis and other Neurological Diseases, politics, poverty, Religion and Faith

Tales over Tea

colored_victorian_lady“Well, don’t just sit there like a bump on a log,” demanded the old woman, as she adjusted her hat to keep the offending rays of the sun off her face. She continued, impatiently,”It was even more boring around here than usual. I kept hoping someone would break a hip or streak out the bedroom!”

Sally smiled, as she removed the tea ball with a flourish that contained  direct from china Jasmine Tea. It was just about ready to drink, but she knew Irene . The next part was to carefully add just exactly one miniature spoonful of honey, to gently stir, and then to present it to Irene as if presenting a gift of gold to the Christ Child.

“I am sorry, that it seems to be rather dull here.” Sally began. “Perhaps, if you were to try one of the Activities they have displayed on the board…” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under disability, Slavery, Steampunk Fiction

Paris 11/13/15


Arabic word for “Peace” : Salam

frenchflagThere were so many words about Paris, about the refugees, about all of it going through my head…In the end, other than a fb discussion about the difference between ISIS and Islam, none of the words could come together in a way that encompassed all my feelings that we have just experienced the same event that in my grandmother’s time started WWI. Then I saw I didn’t have to write anything, for a far better writer than I had already taken my thoughts and captured them. Thank you so much David Concepcion, my friend.

arabic word for peace

Originally posted on Theology in Action:

I think we are all reeling from the late night attacks on Paris that have only recently been claimed by ISIL. When these attacks happen, I’m not sure what people think. I know I feel numb at how senseless all this violence can be, the damage it causes and the recriminations and violence it can spur from then on. While I know this blog talks about spirituality and theology, at times like these it feels like prayers are not enough. Keeping Parisians in our hearts are good, but I feel like I want to donate blood and mail it overseas. The situation is compounded with the refugee crisis in Europe. We need to hold all of Europe in our hearts, and take a long range look to see how we may tackle the root causes of terror and war.

I offer this poem by Karuna Ezara Parikh seen a lot…

View original 5 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Life After The New Depression

A Little Extra Mercy

This Sunday, I thought I’d share a favorite quote…and decided to make it a freebie you are welcome to download, save, share, and enjoy. 

It’s not a Catholic quote at all, but a Christian one.

When God calls you for something difficult, He tucks a little extra mercy in between the Grace and the peace.  paraphrase of quote by Rick Renner

The easiest way to save this in Windows is to right click and go down to Save As…Sorry, but I don’t speak Apple.

The quote is from the Charismatic (and Apocalyptic) Christian leader of the self titled Rick Renner Ministries.  Pastor Renner’s book “Living In The Combat Zone” has all sorts of dogmas and beliefs I, as a Catholic and as an individual, would not endorse. But, like all humans, every so often, he gets it right, and this quote was one of those times.

I learned about Charles de Foucauld (who IS Catholic – Roman denomination) at the same time I read “Combat Zone” by reading “Cry The Gospel With Your Life” a biography of him.  There were a lot of days when I felt like I would end up like Charles, who feared at one point feared that he was a total failure, because he had not attracted one person to his religious life or made one convert. Today he is (to the Vaticanites) Blessed Charles de Foucauld . (As a martyr, I consider him to already be a saint, as was the case in the early church when there was no Vatican or special stamps or papers.)

By the time he died, he had founded the Roman Catholic Association of the Brothers and Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in France, even though he was in the Sahara, and after his death his writings inspired the creation of Roman Catholic religious institute The Little Brothers and Little Sisters of Jesus and other organizations.  It was wonderful to read of how deFoucard’s ministry turned out, but the biography, although helpful, did nothing to give me a concrete way of thinking about the environment I was in right now. 

My first hint came when I found Prayer Before Battle in a little book written by then Monsignor Fulton Sheen for soldiers to carry in the war.  Sheen acknowledged in the book that the prayer had been found in a soldier’s prayerbook, and that Sheen himself did not write it.  It rang so true to me, it has been one of the most frequent morning prayers I pray for almost a decade.

The overall tone of “Living In The Combat Zone”, the way of thinking about being a minister to human beings in a very dangerous and difficult world – In my case the world of the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the GLBTQ, the forgotten, and the lonely – was of great comfort to me when there was no “Tender Mercies Ministry”, no 501c charity, nothing more than me by myself, going out everyday and trying my best to be an example of Franciscan Independent Catholicism by my activities, not by preaching. 

It filled out the thoughts expressed in Prayer Before Battle”, and gave me inspiration to get up, haul my MS ridden body out of bed, and go out and BE.  Guess what?  There is no more Tender Mercies Ministry, no staff, just me mostly in my wheelchair going out as often as I am healthy enough and trying my best to be an example of Franciscan Independent Catholicism by my activities.  Life is a circle sometimes…

It often works out that God may pick someone you completely would never expect to for one moment to come out with one sentence, or one book, that can change your entire day.  Since God is all-powerful, I saw no reason why God couldn’t be allowed to have picked this on-the-edge preacher from another far-away part of the garden to send me a message.  The message I got was that God knew I was down in the trenches of a very bad war, that  I was not walking this lay Franciscan thing by myself, that Jesus was walking with me. 

woman_victorian_webThis quote, based on Renner’s interpretation of Timothy 1 and 2, stayed with me through the years, and I hope that it brings the reader as much comfort as it has brought me.

Take Care,


Leave a comment

Filed under Religion and Faith

Heartache (Poem)


Each minute that goes by
Alone in a cold bed
Is another minute I dive for
The sleep medicine
And my heart aches to curl up next to him.
Each hour that goes by
Without his voice
Is another hour I try to stay so busy
I will not notice
But my heart aches for the sound of his laugh.


Each day that goes by
Without his arms around me
Is another day I feel I am closing down
To human touch
And my heart aches to nuzzle into his chest.


I dread what it will be like
Should it come to pass
That I measure in weeks
How long he is away
And my heart trembles in fear at the thought.


How do you tell a heart
That the one it loves above all others
The one it has been true to for years
Is lost and wandering again, and
You are not sure when, or if,
He will find his way back this time?


My love was the most valued thing
I could give him.
My heart was like silver shining bright.
My friendship was, is, everlasting.
My care for him the sweetest ministry.
But most of all, the vow I made
that Valentine’s Day
Never wavered,
and never will.


Every hour that passes
I can do little more than
What I have done every other time
He has thrown me away, gotten lost,
or chosen someone else’s tin charms.
So I pray, just like the other times
But while I pray, I am bowed over in pain
Because my heart aches…that…much…


I love you. Come back soon, I miss you so…
my heart aches for you.

(C)11/6/15 Brenda Ann Eckels, aMGC

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, poetry

Let Me Tell You ABout Our First Harley

Source: Let Me Tell You ABout Our First Harley

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Let Me Tell You ABout Our First Harley


I could fill a hundred blog posts about the 2005 Harley Davidson RoadKing that Brian and I bought together.  I could fill at least one about the day we bought her, and all the pomp and ceremony that makes buying a Harley at a HD Dealership fun and exciting and a once in a lifetime experience.

I had grown up on motorcycles.  My Dad had a Bridgestone and my Mom had a beautiful Yamaha.  I loved sitting on the back of a bike, going up and down the back roads of New Hampshire with my Dad, and everyone loved to tell the story about how my Mom was riding her Yamaha around the yard one day and ended up climbing a tree with it…(she did hurt her wrist, but that was it).

To me, a motorcycle was even better than a snow machine because you could drive it a lot longer, you could go on regular roads, and to a kid like me they were just unbelievably cool.

I hadn’t been on one however, since my trips to Graham Texas, where I got the chance to drive (badly) on country dirt roads (and fell) but loved it.  My love affairs with Harleys started when I was in Amway, newly divorced, and my “upline” leader suggested I needed a new “dream” from the one my ex had picked out for us.

Brian had never ridden a motorcycle, never mind driven one, but had looked on with jealousy when one of his uncles had one.  When we were together, he got a chance to see my brother’s Harley, and after the big scare when I was critically ill with pancreatitis, Brian and I both decided that live was to short, and for us with our disabilities, to full of unknowns to wait for our retirement dreams.

We were also being choked financially by the transportation demands of his ex, that had us making sometimes 8 or more Somersworth to Milton trips every time we had Jamie for a weekend. Our vehicle was a huge V6 attached to a car that could have been a limo.

55 mpg?  A payment that was the same as what car dealers were offering us for cars that were older and not in as good a shape?  Get decent boots, an all weather suit and a full face helmet, and in New Hampshire you can ride a Harley from March to November…with global warming, perhaps even later.  It was a deal.  We were the happiest couple that day!Brenda_ridingBlackCherry_Virginia_2013

Now here we are in 2015, and the abuse, assaults, harassment, stalking, female relational abuse, and all the other horrible thing that happened when Brian had the nerve to put an engagement ring on my finger without securing the permission of the “sisters” (bio, in law, and ex-wife) are still hurting us, and this time it is Black Cherry that is at risk.

We almost lost her last fall, as Brian, while we were apart, was so sick with a thyroid goiter he was taken advantage of by people who in some cases had been hired to care for him, and none of them made sure he paid his bills.  Having decided that since we were apparently done as a couple, I was getting ready to leave New England, become a celibate religious, perhaps even a cloistered one, when he first contacted me.

I spent thousands of dollars between December and July on late charges, extra interest fees, payments, insurance, storage fees, oil, and more.  And I did it under the most difficult circumstances of my life, a series of events that are carefully saved in hours of raw footage that someday may be a documentary.

But eventually, I got hired as a freelance writer.  I got an opportunity to have an apartment of my own in a complex with high security to protect me from those who last fall had done me so much harm.  But there was no way I could continue to pay for my bills, Black Cherry, and the assorted other bills of Brian’s I was helping him with.   This was a wheelchair ready apartment and the landlord would finally allow my medical comfort dog Booker and I to be together.

Literally something had to give.  We spent one whole day talking about it, and Brian agreed to take over the payments.  Knowing that I was facing two surgical procedures, we estimated that it would be six months before I would be settled healthy and earning extra as a freelance journalist to take the payments back over.

I was nervous, but also excited when I found a shop who promised a lower repair bill for the damage caused by Brian’s two accidents.  The owner had a relative with MS, and also offered to design, and install the wheelchair sidecar with hand controls I now needed because of the damage to my health from everything that had happened to me last August through the winter.  He even offered to help me with the grant applications and fundraising.  I was all set to have him start this month.

But, I fear it will not be.  Unexpected bills come up, especially when you have a 12 year old.  Money doesn’t stretch as far as it used to, and for a variety of reasons, Black Cherry is again in danger of being repossessed.  I had one day I went up, straddled her like a horse, and just laid my head down and cried against the gas tank, apologizing to her for not making sure that she went off the road after the first accident, for not being strong enough to fix her myself, for her being the the latest victim of chaos and damage caused by people who just refused to accept that Brian and I , like many 40 somethings, just wanted to ride, live our lives, and ride off into the sunset happily married.

blackycherry_loaded_onourwayhome_2013I cried again the other night, missing her – the strong, capable bike you see in these photos – even as I wracked my brains trying to think how I might yet save the banged up, knocking engine, broken clutch, torn and scarred saddlebags wreck We have now.  Her V engine is still (I think) somewhat sound, her mileage still low enough, that if I can pull off a miracle, she could get fixed, get that sidecar, and I would finally have a vehicle to go places instead of having to spend almost as much as my rent paying for the para-transit wheelchair van and other mass transit.  But it would be a big miracle…

Let me tell you about our first Harley…She was a beauty named Black Cherry, and she was the bike I had always dreamed of having…..

woman_victorian_webTake Care,


1 Comment

Filed under disability, Domestic Violence, Family, Life After The New Depression, Multiple Sclerosis and other Neurological Diseases

So…What do you think of my new “living room curtains” idea?


Just pinned up…for about the 1000th time…

Why am I awake at half past midnight?


When I found my new home, I went right back to bed after the showing. However, I now had rooms to plan out, and I could think of exactly which pair of curtains or what fabric would make curtains. My bedrest boredom went way down!

I loved the apartment. Except for one, tiny thing.

The living room’s oversized glass sliding windows.

Dear God! I thought. There is nothing. Nothing in the vast storehouse of family heirloom curtains and fabrics that even comes close to being enough to cover this monster!

I was wrong of course, because the burgundy and green paisley custom designed swag scarves that my biological parents had over the custom blinds in the living room of the house they brought from my Grandfather were still there. For more, see my post “Why We Keep Things”

But I refuse to use the fabric that was covering the head table the day Brian and I attempted to get married that also matched one of the over-skirts on my Steampunk/Victorian style wedding dress for something as mundane as curtains.

I hit my knees. Not literally of course, because by this point I was only out of the wheelchair or the bed for short little periods no longer than 48 hours arranged by the pain clinic that I called “Cinderella Hours”.

I prayed and prayed.

“God, I have nothing that I can use as curtains. I have no money to buy blinds. I also have a clause in my lease that says I am not allowed to use blankets, newspaper, or – strangely – aluminum foil to cover any windows. God, why did they need to add that?”

Every night, I prayed.

“God, I love the way the sun shines down and the view when I look out, but I am really not sure ‘live on display in a fishbowl’ was part of my Franciscan vows. Help me God. I don’t even have enough money to buy the fabric I would need! What should I do God?”

When I moved in I took the largest curtain I had (the deep blue satin and polyester Victorian knockoff in the photo) and put it up. Fully stretched, with pushpins holding it to one wall, and a string pinned on and stretched to another tack on the opposite wall, it covered about 2/3 of the slider. I couldn’t keep it that way, as the sliders are the fire escape, so for most of the time I have been here there has been only half the glass covered. Guests learned quickly that they had to put on a bathrobe if they stayed over and wanted to get to the bathroom.

God, of course, takes an immeasurable amount of pity on me, if only for the simple fact that I screw up more things just from the hand tremors than most ordinary humans.  If you close your eyes and imagine a kindly old Jewish guy who once in a while likes to pull your leg, you have a pretty clear idea about how God sometimes is with me.

I went this month to the community food pantry, having exhausted most of the stuff I had gotten at the one run by my adopted parent’s church. The community pantry has big tables set up, and whatever fresh or not-so-fresh but still edible vegetables, bread, and such they get is put out in boxes that you can take as much as you like.

This month, I was able to get 3 white, only a little bit soft, White Eggplants. I am hoping you can cook them in spaghetti sauce anyway.

As I was wheeling around the big square made by all these 8 foot tables, I saw a box that was filled with fabric, and that is when God answered my prayer with his typical sense of humor.

Brown, dark, thick, and striped almost like a corduroy but not so heavy and stiff. And there was a LOT of it, one great big gargantuan piece. It took my attendant and I standing about 6 feet apart to untangle it. Surely, there was enough here to make curtains.

“Ok, God. Brown? Yeah, I know I have ALSO been praying and talking with you about making my profession vows and stepping up from third class to straight Franciscan, but really?! This is how you tell me?!”

I am still waiting on God to get back to me on the vows thing. The fabric was, of course, not enough. I needed to add at least 15” to the top or bottom or something.

“OK God, now what?”

God answered my prayer about that today when my doctor appointment got canceled at the last minute and I decided to steal away on the bus and go to Joanne’s Fabircs. Thanks to 50% off solids and a clearance find, in the photo you can see a pinned mock up of what the finished curtains will look like.

I think.

I sat in my armchair (early 1980’s, bought by my bio parents for the house where I spent my childhood.) and just stared at the print squares and solid blue, got up, unpinned, rearranged, and re-pinned for what Booker was sure was two hours tonight.

This is a huge decision. God picked the fabrics, but I came up with the design. This is unnerving because I realized as I ate dinner that these will probably be the very last pair of living room curtains I will ever have.

My great grandchildren might be one day using these curtains.

So, now you can understand why I am up past midnight, with my measuring tape around my neck like a priest’s stole, pins and bits of fabric scattered around on the floor, and Booker sitting on the couch in his sweater wondering if Mommy is ever going to bed.

This is huge. Is the spacing right? Is the decision to place the color at eye level for the walking humans right? Is it too little of the lighter fabrics? Should I add a stripe of blue along the top of the print?

Are they too modern for me? I mean it is true that I now wear skinny jeans, a little black dress by that Itzach whatever guy, and have an entirely different sense of style, but…can these curtains coexist in the same home with a dining room awash in Victorian roses, porcelain dolls, and a gold edged framed museum print?

What would my daughter Trina think if she someday moved and had a huge fishbowl slider and the only curtains that were on hand were these? Would they be ok for her to hang up that first day to hide all the boxes and furniture that just got unloaded?

And so, I went back and forth from the rocking chair to the curtain for hours tonight. In the end, I realized that the best thing to do was to engage in the same pastime as a lot of my friends who sew and craft.

So…what do you think of my new “living room curtains” idea?

woman_victorian_web*holding her breath*…Brenda

©10/26/2015, Brenda Ann Eckels, aMGC

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Home Improvement, Life After The New Depression

Why We Keep Things

“Why do you keep that?”

“Oh God, you still have that? Why?”

Gather ’round my little chickens, I will tell you!

My bedroom décor is all designed around 3 things: A beautiful sort-of-Indian-or-Persian armoire I inherited from one of my kids, Leah, the sewing machine table, and the white eyelet full bed ensemble, complete with matching eyelet trimmed scarves for the armoire and pretty much any other flat surface in the room not devoted to sewing and crafting.


One Billion Chinese Sweatshops Can’t Be Wrong…The Invincible 301 can last as long as cars do in Cuba!

The armoire? Well, it is now in the process of being fixed up to replace the missing pull knobs and eventually stained to match the cherry / mahogany color of the wood on the sewing machine table and, well, virtually every othe

r flat surface in the room. I got it a year ago, and Lord knows how long Leah had it.


My Grandparents Watts bought the white eyelet bedding when they finally admitted that it was time to stop climbing up and down the stairs to go to bed. We are talking at least a decade old.

The sewing machine is Gramma’s Singer 301 she got sometime when my mother was in grade school in the 1950’s.

One of the knickknacks is a “Tiffany Store” blue satin box with a ribbon trim that my Grandma Watts had for….well, I think I was 5 when I noticed it. It holds my long bead necklaces.

All my life, until she died, the satin box held the pink ribbon with the baby doll’s head in the center that was was wrapped around one of my grandmother’s new baby gifts when she had my Mom in the 1940’s. That – the ribbon and doll head – is decorating a shadowbox that contains some of my doll collection.

My bio family – well, at least the ones like me and my grandparents – we think in terms of decades when it comes to deciding what to make or buy. This is partly because, as we are experiencing now, Great Depressions happen. You might as well be ready for the next one by already having that thing you will need or want during it. It was also partly because all my life, the things we used or hung up and treasured weren’t always the expensive things. They were the things that had been handed down to us by Aunt So and So or made by my Great Grandmother.

I spent a lot of time praying and working to get a place to live without roommates that allowed me to have my dog with me this past year. Needless to say, a LOT of my time spent on bedrest this summer was devoted to thinking about what I was going to do for curtains, bedding, fabrics, dishes, tools, and whatnot that I had either in storage or at the cabin with Brian, or with me where I was.

I was seriously hoping to never, ever, ever have to move again. In my mind, I would mentally go over the list of curtains, bedding, etc, dreaming of storage space and carefully and slowly unpacking and arranging the memories of my family, friends, myself. When you are in bed 23 out of 24 hours for weeks on end, trust me, you will do anything to occupy your brain.


Home Sweet Home…

It has been a few months, and the place is starting to really feel like home. The curtains for the bedroom are finished, for example. They are a lovely seersucker white fabric with all over floral design, trimmed with the white eyelet from the dust ruffle whose center had rotted away from age and use. The fabric is perfect, adding just the right amount of color to the deep dark mahogany wood and the stark white bed. That print fabric was from one of the twin beds that were set up in my Grandparent’s second floor bedroom when they moved downstairs. Not quite as old as the white eyelet, but close enough.

See? Not only do I now have the most perfect curtains for my bedroom, but I still have one twin bedspread left just in case I ever get tired of the white eyelet! In the middle of a Great Depression! For free, leaded with wonderful happy memories!

woman_victorian_webThat is why we keep things.

Take care, Brenda

Leave a comment

Filed under Arthritis, Family, Fibromyalgia, Home Improvement, Life After The New Depression, Multiple Sclerosis and other Neurological Diseases

The Waltons Strike America Again…

Walmart strikes again. *sigh*

But first …a freebie for you to copy and enjoy, as I had time on my hands

and decided to play with transparent coloring in GIMP:1percent35percent_victorian1Thanks to The Graphics Fairy for the Victorian images…

Walmart was awful to work for in the early 2000’s, and they are awful to work for now. Check out this latest thing they are doing to make employees lives miserable.

Every story you ever heard about Walmart – women not getting promoted, illegal aliens working the janitor jobs thru shadow companies set up by Walmart,waltons35sidebar Bullying of suppliers with ridiculous demands…it is all TRUE.

In this latest fiasco, Walmart skirted the law requiring companies to pay for uniforms by creating a “dress code” of items that , gee are sold at Walmart….and then added a “Uniform” Vest.

So, after avoiding the law and burdening already low paid workers, Walmart decides to go a step further in the Creating Misery Department and paid a company in Jordan to make the new employee vests. 

The problem? well, they don’t get treated better in Jordan either…the workers making those vest complain of 20 hour workdays, not getting paid for months….you know, typical sweatshop “let’s see how many workers we can kill today” stuff.

prounionmemeHere in America, thousands of brave men and women fought battles to establish unions to stop that kind of stuff from happening here…well, at least until Regan and the GOP began a decades long attack on unions, moved millions of workers to either non-union salaried jobs, moved the jobs overseas to torture Jordanians, or just flat out threatened the workers they would be fired  for even thinking about having a union.

Not long ago, the GOP and the 1%-ers who own big stores like Walmart just got the supreme court to declare corporations were people, and then took the profits they made and bought elections.  And they are not the only guilty party.  (HI Target Stores!  Yep, You got caught bribing a candidate with $150,000!)

Walmart’s excuse?  Americans workers couldn’t produce the proper amount of vests in a fast enough time.  false_wordmapWHAT AN INSULT!  American Garment workers are dedicated and very good at what they do.  Walmart just insulted thousands of US workers! 

Worst of all, the US workers and suppliers could have easily have had the vests made here in the US. IF Walmart had been willing to pay a decent fair price!  Walmart JUST DIDN’T WANT TO PAY US American Workers DECENT WAGES!  If American Apparel can make ONE MILLION garments a week in ONE factory in California, I think they could have handled your measly Vest problem, Walmart.

So, long ago, after being totally fed up with how the Six Waltons, Target’s owners, and  the other 1%-ers, to treat us Americans as if we are nothing but mules for their bidding and hard labor, I decided to change.

Yes, it costs a bit more, and yes, they are not perfect, but I am silovesearsticking with KMART and SEARS when I have to buy new, thrift shops, pawn shops, and flea markets when I can, and MARKET BASKET for my food, thank you very much.

ilovekmartKmart isn’t perfect but:

lovemarketbasketAs for Market Basket…well you have to read about the amazing takeover by employees, customers, and Arthur T. to get the true historic sense of how the company runs.  According to a 2013 study by Consumers’ Checkbook, Market Basket’s prices were on average about 20% lower than their competitors. The employees at the 74 stores start off with a wage over the minimum, as much as $12 an hour.  They have had a profit sharing plan forever, and employees also receive benefits, including healthcare and paid sick leave.

nowalmartANYONE who walks into a WALMART and buys anything other than the double marked down clearance is getting ripped off, and is making America’s problems worse.

The Waltons, Target, and the other 1%-ers  need to start being taxed on their fortune.  In The case of the 6 Waltons who daily make a mockery of everything their father stood for? They should pay for every food stamp, every medicaid bill and every other welfare benefit that is paid to the workers! Let’s just make it simple. And if your “dress code” happens to be legal, that doesn’t make it right to make low paid struggling workers shell out money for certain clothing that you just happen to sell.

They and all the other 1%-ers making over $1 Million a year, flat income tax rate of 35%, no deductions except for charities NOT owned or controlled by them!

STOP The Waltons. Go To Kmart, Sears, Thrift and Pawn Shops, ANYWHERE else.

If you have to go there because they have killed all the other stores in your area, only buy after they double mark down.

Let those stores fill with unsold merchandise until they CHOKE AND PONY UP THE MONEY!

woman_victorian_webTake care,

Brenda The Writer Fighter and Voter

Leave a comment

Filed under Corruption, Election, Greed, Human Rights, Life After The New Depression, politics, Welfare