Grandpa Dad’s On Holiday

Rouse the sleeping family by opening and closing doors. The front door a bit of stomping on the porch and then the door to the wood stove.  Sort of complaining with energy. Found him in the dining room working the new 1500 piece Ravensburger puzzle laid out two days ago.  I took the bait and got out of bed to see what’s going on and making a pot of coffee and turning on NPR for background noise slowly waking up the house.   He asked me to tow a truck with him and make a space in his garage to work on my daughter’s car.

Woke my oldest son and asked him to help Grandpa Dad on holiday. We shifted everyone’s cars and trucks around for a while and took turns on the puzzle sometimes speaking to each other, mostly listening to This American Life and giggling quietly to our selves.  This is our second puzzle. Our first was one of the Christmas gifts we finished in one night. That was just 500 pieces.  This one will take days. Our tree has been taken down and we are quietly feeling the newness of the open space in the living room.

Just as we got my daughter’s car in the garage it began to rain and snow.  Our Grandpa Dad has now had his coffee and conversation and is content with waking us all up and then disappeared into his garage leaving us to ourselves. The puzzles are a wonderful thing for him. Now he will be busy all day back and forth between working on his cars and stopping to sit and work on the puzzle. The puzzles are a wonderful thing for all of us. It is something to sit with each other in silence with such focus.



Rj’s Christmas Present to Jonny 2016

Dearest Jonny,
Rj asked us to give you his Harry Potter books. He is still with us… and with you. He is your guardian angel. He can do more to help us on the spirit side than he could do here on earth. Please know in your heart and remember that he loves you. Be the strong warrior he wants you to be… Be proud of who you are and who you will become. With Love, Ramon, Judith and Rj
“I believe if we have the ability to help someone in any way large or small then it is our responsibility to do so” Rj Ontiveros

In Memory of Rj Ontiveros 2016

It was three years ago that Rj was with us for Christmas, 2013. He brought Settlers of Catan. He played with our youngest son and lifted him over his head doing push ups up to the ceiling. My son’s face was touching the ceiling and Rj called out, use your arms and push back!  It was so special a moment of laughter and joy. Rj was so strong. It was his last Christmas as he died in Oct 2014.  Today was Time to visit him. My first visit. It was all waiting to happen. There was the gardener of the church just happened to stop by and gave me permission to plant some crocus from my garden. We were met by Abbot Tryphon for support. Who knew this would also be the year that Rj’s dad would pass on a gift to our son. Rj’s collection of his Harry Potter books. Those are Rj’s Grandparents handprints and Rj’s in the center, all passed and laid to rest together. Somehow I feel better. Had to wait until I could do it without falling apart, our last Christmas was so special. That he took the time to come over and play on Christmas Eve, when he could have celebrated anywhere.  He felt at home with us and we will always remember him in beauty. He Walks In Beauty.


Happy Return of the Sun

Feeling tired, hoping as the minutes change bringing the light it will recharge my batteries.   Sleeping so much. Upped my prozac to daily 20mg.  Takes a few weeks to recognize the difference. Happy to be on these meds, the gabapentin seems to be making the most difference.  Might be the drug that makes me sleepy. Also keeping me off marijuana, a good thing. I was totally self medicating with the marijuana use. And then the klonopin also sedating. Taking them faithfully. Staying mellow and dreaming of spring.  Going slow adjusting to the drugs. Adjusting to being a non smoker and laying off the alcohol.  A sober holiday. A sleepy holiday. Very thirsty for the sleep. My family is making the holiday happen, the tree, the cookies and they redesigned the living room. Sweeping up all the dust bunnies, giving me a well needed rest.  Not turning out any art. Too tired. They managed to turn the baby grand around, when I go downstairs the keyboard faces me. Actually sat down and played some scales. It’s funny I love to play but when the kids are on the xbox they ask me to be quiet. So I do. Doesn’t happen over night or even in a course of weeks or months. My husband says each episode of panic and anxiety holds me back four to six months. So be it.   7 weeks post hospitalization for suicidal ideations, a terrible set back into clinical depression.  Part of it was the wellbutrin- to quit smoking. It was actually causing panic attacks and quiet lurking side effects. Was on it for eight weeks.

Recovering slowly.

Wasn’t long ago that Rj came by on Christmas and brought his board game, settlers of catan to play with us. He did push ups with Jonny over his head pushing him up to the ceiling with Jonny giggling and Rj laughing and asking him to push back against the ceiling. This year we’re playing cards against humanity, poker and long games of monopoly, the national park version.

Still haven’t been to the site where he’s resting.

Looking for a grief group.


Cookies and Frosting and Colorful Sugar Glitters

The kids made them to send to their grandparents.  Home on winter break from school and I just stayed out of the way. Sugar cookies, Trees, Snickerdoodles and my childhood favorite, the peanut butter cookie with hershey’s kiss.  The smells are yummy and so are all the scraps we scarfed up. Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom, shaking the crumbs from my warm sweater.  They go with hot cocoa and coffee and milk and will probably make me very fat.


Breaking The Ice

Went outside and all the little winter birds were at the pond, which had an inch of ice over it. Broke the ice for them so they could get to the water. Poor things, it must be like that everywhere.  (Now I’ll have to go out and break the ice for them every morning for a while.)

And then like yearly clockwork that night began the scritchy scratch noises in the ceiling above the piano.

The kids were thinking rats which made me laugh. I thought so too the first time I heard it and I banged the walls with a broom so many times I actually left marks on the wall cracking the plaster. Then I went outside and with my camera and when I saw them I gasped and felt so sad for all the banging.  A flock of wrens flying back and forth in the corner of the roof. Probably flying off everytime I banged the wall and then flying back when I stopped.  I’ve stopped and I don’t do that anymore and I don’t mind when they visit. They only stay until the ice on the pond melts completely.





Even More Good News!

“The way government is organized signals what its priorities are,” the commission wrote in its report. “To truly give all children the great start in school and life they deserve, our state needs a comprehensive agency dedicated to the social, emotional and physical well-being of children, youth and families.”

More Good News


Vashon Youth and Family Services receives surprise matching funds!

The Cedarwoods Foundation, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, read about our loss of funds from United Way and decided to offer to match the funds you give during our annual Holiday Appeal – up to $10,000! The grant from Cedarwoods will target at risk youth programs, ensuring continued support to the Island’s most vulnerable youth.

The matching funds from this grant will be allocated to fund VYFS programs for at-risk youth on the island, including mental health counseling at no charge.

We have already raised $5,000 through this Island’s generosity. You can ensure we get all the way to $10,000 (which becomes $20,000, thanks to the Cedarwoods Foundation) by giving now.

Anyone can go to to give online.

Thank You Governor Inslee

What else to do with the booming homeless population? Not to mention the sane residents who let this collapse of mental health care in Washington State happen. American Horror Story could have been filmed at right here at Western State. This is a step in the correct direction. Let the healing begin. Haven’t heard much about mental health care for children within this, but as far as I know, Seattle Childrens has a very long wait for beds. So now these kids are set back need 504’s and around the wheeel spins back to education.  It’s like watching the wheel of fortune, with a special section for early childhood education and for children suffering with depression. Spin the wheel again for housing and we’re looking a bit like India. Open air defecation in the park at the courthouse downtown Seattle, mixed with needles and women and children with no where to go and then the sweeps. Take the homeless tents and blankets, that will show them we mean business. Having a great football team means nothing when the city is suffering such cold poverty.




Our First Holly

My son went out and found a beautiful Holly tree.  We have several stands of them in our yard. It called out to my son and it’s beautiful. He took it from the roots and planted it in a bucket so we can replant it and the birds can have all the berries.  It’s already decorated with all those berries. There is something magical about bringing in a tree from our own yard.  We have several tall stands of Holly and it’s true,  they are competing for space. The younger ones could be replanted in other places. We’ve been researching and read that  Holly trees were actually the first Christmas and Solstice trees. Other stories, having a fun time with it.

The Holly King and The Oak King



Sunday Night Football

It was Awesome for Green Bay.  Watched the amazing game at a friends.  Came home to 3 family members from Wisconsin.  They were getting by with social media posts when I walked in.  So I gave them some highlights they can be proud of.  Like when a packer slammed a seahawk onto his back, there would be a pat on the chest and a hand up back to standing, allowing the seahawk player a small measure of human dignity.  There is nothing else to say.

(On that same day, my son’s girlfriend was driving to town in her wisconsin plates and was pulled over by a seahawk fan local sheriff who laughed when asking her about being from WI and visiting WA and then wrote her a ticket for driving 10miles over the limit. you mad bro?)

Big Dreams

So much for prazosin and trazodone. Um, they worked great the first night and for several weeks. For several weeks have been having big dreams.  Saw my counselor yesterday, will see my doc on Monday about it.

The kind of dreams that make me wake up tired as tired as when I went to sleep 8 hours ago.  Full sound and color. Sometimes I paint in my dreams. Can’t supress creativity, that part of myself is very active.

These dreams were about this dark and negative building in Tacoma.  A building that I have been in and that the updates to the building seemed to solidify the patterns of bad feng shui. Water problems, electricity issues, sewer flooding. While there a woman ran from the bathroom screaming she saw a ghost and would never step foot in that restroom again, she said that after calming herself. We were literally in the building to the right of that parking lot in the photo, I mean to say, today it’s a parking lot that looks the same as in that photo but updated, paved.

I went into the restroom and lights were blinking and there was water all over the floor. Right out of a horror film. Long line of mirrors and the blinking lights on the ceiling casted weird shadows in every direction. No ghost.

Tacoma like Seattle has an underground city. Tunnels where Chinese slaves were transported from the ships through the tunnels and up to the surface through certain places.  So these places have become like ley lines, I think.  Some people will get it, energetic situational awareness, most won’t notice.

In the dream, the street in front of the building crumbled into a sink hole 8 to 10 feet down that revealed another street paved in cobblestone.   Dreamt of this place twice, the night before there was a bus stop there. Last night the bus fell into the sinkhole and landed level.

Wrote all that around 1030am.  OBTW, my son’s friend dropped in last night, surprising us all after a long drive across the country and arrived before the snow.  At 1pm asked them all what they are up to and they said adventuring in Tacoma.  I told them about my dream and asked whose driving, the friend. Asked what he’s driving and he said a vw bus and it made me giggle.  Asked them to please stay away from the waterfront, just to go with it and be careful today.

Sketchbook 2010

Lost for five years.  A study of the lower body.  Came home and  there on a shelf was sitting the other half. Another study of every bone and muscle of the upper body.  Not as detailed, I can fix that, together they make a set. Called my husband today, don’t you have a skull on your desk?  Will you bring it home for me?  And the study begins…






Vashon Weird Accidents   Too soon to suggest it was a bad idea to build a very expensive two story glass high school one block from a propane company?  How stupid.  Now that the worse case senario went down, a propane explosion, or series of explosions. what a wake up call.  and this?  who goes below deck while driving through a ferry lane, with a ferry in it? It’s not just a ferry lane, it’s a shipping lane,  huge container ships.  Too soon to say stupid?

All undone by the Seahawks last night. First play of the game to the end.  They could have really tromped them if they wanted to. I think it was just so weird, even the injuries. Those two guys flying in the air and crashing mid air. Was that guy taken out by his own team mate, yes.   All the weird turn arounds and stuff. What a weird game.  Was that real? And they kept scoring. So unpredictable.

Meanwhile downunder…




The Bunny Is Dancing.

I so want to take it outside so it can sprint around in the woods. But for the owls.  It’s actually very entertaining watch it jump and practice hide and seek. It likes the dog, but the dog goes crazy sitting still. So many chew toys. He’s not quite sure.

This rabbit has designed his own little race course in this room.  Round and round, faster and faster. Jumping over stuff that just a few weeks ago it couldn’t reach. It’s a funny bunny. Time for a trip to the vet. No babies.


Something Wicked This Way Comes

My big black lab has been working overtime tonight. Runs out barking then comes back to slam the screen door. He basically demanded people to come outside and take action.  Woke every one in the house and has probably disturbed all of our neighbors, the alert bark had been going on for nearly an hour. Had to go outside with a flash light. He was pacing up and down a trail and pointing. He’s still on it. There is something out there, unusual. When I went out he even marked his teritory in front of me at the top of the trail.

Spoke to my oldest son who is a pro hunter and he had already been outside . (The dog is currently growling with his big boy growl.) Asked my son what he thought and he said that he turned off his flashlight and stood for several minutes so he could listen and feel it and he didn’t like it. Not a deer. Felt like a stalking predator.  He said good dog, let him be, he’s just doing his job. Instinct.

The other thing is that all my cats are hiding.  We agreed to allow his incredible alert until he feels safe.  We’re surrounded by forest. We’ve had a big black bear, he took off, disoriented from coming out of hibernation. The coyotes bark and bark back and make noise. This is different. This feels like a mountain lion.  Guess we made enough noise for it to give up. I even drove my car back and forth up the driveway, parked it blocking the bottom of the trail. Same trail the bear was, btw.

Finally peace and quiet, it’s been 10 minutes of silence.  Seems the coast is clear. I never trained the dog to do that. In fact I’ve discouraged barking during his 3 year service dog training. So I’m really freaked out. Crate trained him from 8 weeks so he loves to sleep outside in covered places and he protects the cats, that’s cool. This wasn’t cool man.  What a fuss. 15 more minutes of silence and my family has all went back to sleep. I’m going to need a minute and for the first time on island I am considering bear mace.  Bear mace and keeping a supply of fireworks. Couple of m80’s and a big morter full of lights.

One Month Post Hospitalization

Thankful for the groups, the staff and mostly the space to stablize my crisis state of being.  Spent my time doing tons of art and studying music theory. My family is warmly supportive. We’re glowing again. It was totally worth it.  November 1st arrived and with it came panic, anxiety and a slip backwards from depression to major depression.  But we had been working on a safety plan and spent four months on it.  I was behaving strangely. Packing up art supplies, like I was moving out.  Cleaning my space.  Looking for places to live for disabled people, feeling like a burden upon my family.  Like I had no way out of the way I was feeling.  My meditation practice flew like a bird out the window. It was intense.  Signs, symptoms, behaviors, all listed on my safety plan which includes a no harm contract that myself and three of my friends signed.  See, that’s powerful. I may let myself down, but would never hide this from my friends. I was struggling hard core.

Part of it was rebounding from a medication I had taken for a while to quit smoking, Welbutrin.  In people like me, it actually causes panic attacks.  I had been on it a while so it took a while to clear from my system, then a break for a clean slate to try other medications, INPATIENT under proper supervision.  I just wasn’t myself.

Results:  The panic attacks came to a full stop. Quit smoking cigarettes and quit smoking pot and quit drinking, giving the meds the chance they needed to work effectively.  So this required many behavorial changes.  Lots of sleep. It was the groups inpatient that helped the most with that.  Sometimes I wish I could have stayed a bit longer, but I missed my family too much and at the end of a week, was wanting to be home more than ever. Plus they don’t let patients sleep very much, between waking me up all night to check my vitals and the discipline of being up and showered and dressed for groups and visits with doctors and social workers. Still wishing for groups, wishing it was as normal as AA.





The owl let me take the photo

Heard one or two of them in the yard at 4:30pm.  It’s dark but I went out with my camera just in case. For a while I realized how pointless it would be to find the owl and take a photo.  Then I saw it float across the back yard.  I’m tromping and snapping sticks and almost about to cry over it because even though I saw where it landed I couldn’t find it.  So I’m standing there and started talking.  “I know you can see me but I can’t see you. I’m holding a camera not a gun and it would be so nice if you would let me take your picture before all the light is gone. Then I heard a sound directly over my head and there it was looking at me.  So I said, Hi.  Wow. Hi. The first photo, no flash, didn’t work out. so I said outloud, ok, gotta use my flash, I’m sorry-it’s the only way.  It’s head was cocked to the side and its big eyes were staring at me, but when I clicked the button, the owl looked up. Still caught the photo.  Have you any idea how difficult it is to take a photo of an owl at night? Let me tell ya, it’s tricky.  This owl, under the magnifier has a rainbow aura.  So supernatural.

Improving Critical Behavorial Health For All.

I recently discovered that Washington State ranks near the Lowest in the Nation in terms of inpatient psychiatric capacity.  The national average is 26.1 beds per 100,000 residents.

(assuming patients are adults, there is also a terrible need of services for children.)

Washington State averages 8.3 beds per 100,000 residents.  The situation in Pierce County (where I was voluntarily hospitalized for one week) ranks at the bottom of all counties in Washington with 2.8 beds per 100,000 residents.

My source for the numbers is from an article published by CHI Franciscan Health.

2.8 beds per 100,000 people?  That’s it? I’m AMAZED I was able to stay for a week. Feeling pretty grateful and appreciative.

How I got in I do not know, must have been a miracle after reading those stats. How I got there is a different story. In short, I live on the south end of the island, walking distance to the Tacoma ferry.  In my crisis it was faster to catch the south end boat.  I wasn’t a CHI patient, but a Multi-Care patient, so I didn’t stay at Franciscan. That’s an insurance issue.

The Good News is that Alliance is building a new hospital and it seems that they are sharing the Multi-Care Campus and will draw staff from both Multi-Care and Franciscan.  The new behavorial health hospital is planned to open in 2018, with 120 beds.

Along with inpatient services providing both voluntary and involuntary treatment, the hospital will provide crisis stabilization and outpatient services.  Oh and a new program to meet the needs of active and retired military service members. Above all, these services will be provided in a safe, therapeutic environment of care that is compassionate and family centered.  What great news.

” CHI Franciscan Health’s Prevent-Avert-Respond (PAR) Mental Health Initiative and the new joint-venture hospital will serve a critical need for many people in our communities.  We are committed to help meet the behavioral health needs for residents through innovative initiatives and partnerships.  Proactive recongnition and prevention of mental health crisis is a critical component of delivering the right care, at the right place, at the right time.  Philanthropic support ensures us the opportunity to serve our most vulnerable community members as we work to fulfill our mission to create healthier communities.”  Greg Unruh, Franciscan Foundation President

For information about how to support this initiative, please call the Franciscan Foundation @ 253-428-8411

For now, I hope to  be commuting to Seattle for my outpatient care. It’s going to cost a lot more money as the program is a year long and the wait list is currently 3-6 months long. Making due with weekly counseling and monthly check in’s with my MD.