Memory: Forest Street (Bellingham) – First place in town

What now exists on 1020 N. Forest in 2017

It is funny, I can’t remember the exact date we arrived in Bellingham. I believe it was sometime in late winter/early spring of 1987, all I can be sure of is that it was cold outside. We had just moved away from our Lora Lane trailer and a series of motels right after that, and then finally into our place here.

My dad believed we were safe to try and find a place to live. The contract that was out on us had been rescinded from what we could tell. He had spent a few weeks contacting his old friends and for the first time in almost two years he seemed to breath. I suspect that everyone else involved knew the guy who put it out was full of shit and refused to do anything about it and Mike was heading back to California.

We were put up in temporary housing, at 1020 N. Forest. It was a three story house, divided up into different apartments and we lived in the top for couple of months.

Sadly I don’t have many memories from there. I do remember an incident where my dad was cutting his own hair, but the razor tool used to blend hair was sharper then he expected and had cut too closely, and he was so pissed about it. That was a sore subject for a couple of weeks.

Another memory was taking my sister who was 12ish at the time and my brother who was 6ish and walking down Forest and then State streets. At the time it seemed like a huge distance we were covering, but it was probably only 8-10 blocks out and then back. We were exploring the area, and we had never been in Bellingham before. I think we got as far down as Ellis St as a cross street. It was a grayish day, overcast and it was a weird relief to not be in a car again. It was also the first time in years my parents didn’t get anxious when we went off to be kids without their supervision.

The other biggest memory I have from living there, other than watching Trapper John M.D., was the food co-0p. The Bellingham Food Co-Op was a tiny hole in the wall store at this time. It was the one place within walking distance that would take food stamps, and it wasn’t very expensive (unlike what its like now).

It was probably the only time as a kid we could afford to eat at a co-op. For some reason I really remember the Pina Colada juice they sold. I tried drinking it a few years ago and it seems so much more watery now. I can’t be sure if that is just my memory fooling me, or if it really is a lot more watery.

I also remember that we had a view from the living room windows of Bellingham Bay. The house is set on a hill, and while there was lots of buildings down hill, it wasn’t until long after we lived here that tall enough buildings were built that may block the view. It was a nice view though.

Within two-three months of living there, we ended up moving over to the house on Virginia street and this place became a memory.

I went back in July 2017 to get pictures of the old house. It has long been torn down and the apartments replacing it (I am assuming college housing). I hadn’t looked for the house in about 20 years, so I suspect it could have been done even before we moved away from Bellingham. I figured I still wanted a picture of the spot now, just to go along with all the other places.

Link back to a listing of all homes I have lived in.

Food Security and Emotional Issues

I have always had a weird love/hate relationship with food resulting in some issues. I do emotionally eat, counting calories freaks me out and I have the hardest time leaving food on the table.

I grew up extremely poor (living in a car poor). This meant from the age of 8 or 9 on we were on food stamps. Contrary to what the DSHS people said back then (and the conservatives) they do not give you enough food stamps to feed a family. Nowadays DSHS  just say its only supposed “augment” someone, not be the sole food support. That is all fine and good if you are a single or adult couple, but anyone who seriously thinks its ok to only “augment” feeding a child is full of shit.

Living large on those augmented food stamps under that park bench in the state park. We even upgraded to a tent a couple weeks later.

We ate well at the beginning of the month (no, it wasn’t all steak and caviar, fuck you conservatives). By the middle of the month the food was running out and we were living off of food bank contributions. By the end of the month there was donating blood and whatever other ways to scrounge up the money. All of this meant I had stretch marks on my hips and belly.

Coming back from the food bank. I have learned since then how to photograph better.

You heard me right, as a teenager I was skinny, and the weight fluctuations between the beginning of the month and the end of the month left stretch marks on my sides and belly that were there until my early 20s. The girls I was intimate with were usually disturbed by it. Even Wolsey commented on it when we started dating. I didn’t understand that stretch marks weren’t normal. I had just assumed that was normal.

We might have lived in a car, but it was a stylish car.

Food was a big deal in my family. If there was a holiday, or if some emotional trauma occurred my parents would beg, borrow or sell things to buy us something special. On the super rare times, we went out to eat, we finished everything brought to us. Hell, we finished everything at home for the same reasons. You never walked away from your plate with any food on it.

Things have been weird now for 25 years. I have always been ok with food security since I moved in with my husband, I have been in a stable relationship and within a few years my stretch marks left. We have always made enough to cover our bills and groceries and this scarcity hasn’t been an issue.However, I still fight with the following:

  1. I literally have to force myself not to eat all my food on my plate, especially when I am in a restaurant. It freaks me out that it is a waste of money (which it isn’t, and I can afford easily anyways). The thing is I logically know this even if it bothers me a lot.
  2. I can afford to emotionally eat. While it was a great internal relief as a child/teen because it was a rare occurrence, nowadays if I am upset I crave sugar, especially something like jelly beans and licorice I can buy it at will (and I do some of the time).
  3. The worst part is counting calories. I don’t know why, but it makes everything else in my life just explode. I can follow a regimen, eat the same thing every day, but I then get compulsive in checking. Then I just get aggravated, then the hubby gets my venting. We have tried it off and on for years, but counting calories, and diets in general do not work for me. The panic attacks are not worth it. I still can’t tie out why this bothers me.

I thought I would just ramble about this because I am looking at working out more. I would like to build up my stamina (and hey, losing fat isn’t a bad thing). I know that diet is more effective, but I don’t see myself changing my eating habits by a lot. So, I guess I am just explaining why a diet isn’t part of my future conversations about working out. I will try and eat a bit better, but no calorie counting, or crazy (e.g. stupid) diets.

Today was a sharing day.

Dates

YAY
May have been poor, but I was pretty happy.

I was looking out the window tonight and was feeling a little maudlin, maybe even a little anxious. I didn’t understand why I was feeling that (well besides just getting back from training for two weeks and still working out the losses of last year). That is when I realized today is February first and it got me thinking about things, especially about dates.

Dates are a funny thing. I don’t mean holidays like Christmas, or dates like a person’s birthday, wedding or some other special occasion. I mean specific days of the month.

For me the first of the month has always been an important day. True, it is important to others so they can pay their rent, or to mark the passing of a new month, but for me, for so much of my life, it meant more than that.

Unless you grew up in absolute poverty like me you wouldn’t really understand. When your family’s entire ability to eat, sleep and have electricity rely on a specific date that the check would come, you developed coping habits. The 1st was something all the poor families around us sort of focused our attention on it. It was something to look forward to, almost some sort to “savior”. It was a time when things would be ok for a short while.

I remember growing up and being hungry at the end of the month. Watching my parents not eat for a week at a time and our electricity had been shut off, hoping for the check to come. Things were extreme enough that I had stretch marks on my abdomen because I gained and lost weight so much that lasted for years after I moved out. When Wolsey first dated me he would run his fingers along them, I think they bothered him.

The money showing up would be like a godsend, and for a few days at least you would eat food, the lights would be on and maybe you could go to a store.

It was also a time of anxiety. My parents were heavy alcoholics and the first of the month meant they would drink, which brought its own issues. I was fortunate, they would try to quit for weeks or months at a time, but alcoholism is very difficult and it would return. While I would hope for the first to come quickly, I also dreaded it.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t had stretch marks for a long time. I have eaten fairly well, even when Wolsey and I were poor. The only time we had a repeat of this was when Wolsey and I were going to school and we would wait for our quarterly student loans, then divide that money up and budget for the next three months.

However, even  for the last twenty years the first of the month still had a big meaning. My parents never got better financially on their own, by the time they had sobered up their bodies were too broken to work. We were able to step in and help, but I watched every month as they tried to keep things going with not enough social security and food stamps (no family of two can get by on $850 a month between the two, especially when rent itself was $675).

This meant Wolsey and I would help out at the end of the month. We went out of our way to not ever get paid back. We didn’t mind helping them, and the last thing we would want to do is make it harder for them by having them pay us on the first. But even up until last July, the 1st of the month carried a lot of meaning for my family, and in turn for me.

It has been weird the last six months since Mom passed. We have been able to focus on our own bills and for the first time ever in our relationship we didn’t have to consider my parents and how long until they got their check on the first. I know we are better off financially and worry wise now that we aren’t helping support them, but I still can’t stop from being maudlin occasionally, and even now, the first of the month is still an important date.

TT – Oregon Sea Lion Caves 1986

Of course I forgot to post this yesterday.

At age 15 we inherited a little bit of money, sold the mobile home we lived in and started our years long journey here at the Oregon Sea Lion Caves. It was the start of our strange trip that encompassed most of my teen years. My brother Derek on the left, my sister Jackie in the middle and my arm is in front of my mother Mary’s face.

TT-Sea Lion Caves

Memory: Boy Scout Trip – Lake Ozette

We were talking on a different thread so I thought I would post this about Boy Scouts.

My most memorable boy scout moment was when we went on a four day three night campout on the ocean. Let’s begin this by saying my family was too poor to own a camping back pack, I had to use a suitcase and a bag (damn I hated being poor as a kid). The events started when we arrived at the parking lot (on the coast) and realized we had forgotten our tent polls. This resulted in us having to sleep under park benches (with the tent strung across it) after walking five miles to the beach.

The first night we got there we buried our food because we were too tired to want to hang it (me and two other scouts, the rest hung their food, we should have followed suit). The bears ate the food except for top ramen and grape kool-aid that night. Needless to say the Scout Master was pissed at us. That is what we subsisted off for the next three days.

Next evening we got caught out on a spit with a huge hill that extended into the ocean (I am sure it is a hill now, but at that age it felt like a small mountain) so we spent a cold night with no tent huddled for warmth.

By the third night we ended up sick with a stomach bug and was puking. The pic is of me (in the yellow raincoat) on the fourth day, the meal we were eating before we were hiking out. My assistant scout master gave me some oatmeal, since I had been stuck with Top Ramen for three days.

Our full scout master was a good guy, but he had us live off what we brought as a lesson… Ya it was like that

Though this was 30 years ago or so on the ocean side.

http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/lake-ozette.htm

boyscouts