Yes, I Fly Helicopters

But come on, get real.

Yes, I fly helicopters for a living. Yes, the red R44 parked out in the dirt is mine. Yes, I bought it new and paid every penny of the $346K it cost, plus interest on the 8-year loan I needed to finance it. Yes, I am aware that’s more than your house probably cost. It’s definitely more than what my house cost.

I’m sorry, but no, just because a friend of yours introduced you to me in a bar tonight doesn’t mean I’m going to take you for a free ride. So don’t waste any more time telling me that you want me to fly crazy and swearing that you’ll sit still while I do so — as if that somehow matters. I have no intention of taking your creepy ass for a ride and would likely find an excuse not to do it even if you did offer to pay me. Which is unlikely. How much do I have to rudely text one of my friends while you jabber about the movie set you worked on 20 years ago in a failed attempt to impress me? How long before you realize I want nothing to do with you? How long before you just go away?

Thank you, yes, it is a beautiful helicopter. You should see it when it’s clean! But no, flying it is not a hobby. As a matter of fact, I have found a way to get paid for hovering. Imagine that! How else do you think I could afford to fly it? Do you think I’m independently wealthy? Or that I’ve got a sugar daddy paying my bills? Amazing that a woman can build a career flying helicopters, no? That someone is actually willing to pay me to do it. Amazing.

What’s that you want? The pay for a commercial helicopter pilot? The “lowest to highest salary and the average”? I’m sorry, but no, I don’t have detailed information about the pay scale for helicopter pilots. I’m an owner/pilot, not a career counselor or headhunter. I know what I make but that’s none of your business. I can tell you this: people who fly helicopters for the money are usually disappointed.

Four moronic men in four days. Just a sample of the kind of idiotic assumptions and questions I put up with from complete strangers. Don’t they think before they communicate? Don’t they realize how rude they’re being by making their assumptions about me and my life? By asking their questions in such a demeaning way?

Yeah, I know I get cranky about things like this. But seriously: four in four days?

PSA: Don’t Kill the Bees

You think people would know better by now.

I’ll keep it short, but it’s not sweet. In fact, it breaks my heart to write this.

I’ll also keep it simple for people who might have trouble understanding the facts of life. Yes, I’m talking about the birds and the bees — mostly the bees.

Why Bees are Important to Protect

Bees being Moved
This Wikipedia photo by Pollinator shows bees being moved from South Carolina to Maine for blueberry pollination.

The production of food throughout the world relies heavily on pollination, much (if not most) of which is accomplished by bees as they gather pollen and nectar from flowers. Bees are so important for agriculture that it’s common for farmers and orchardists to have bees shipped hundreds of miles to their farms — often at a huge expense — to pollenate crops.

Colony Collapse Disorder

is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, … the syndrome was renamed colony collapse disorder in late 2006 in conjunction with a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of Western honeybee colonies in North America. European beekeepers observed similar phenomena in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, and initial reports have also come in from Switzerland and Germany, albeit to a lesser degree while the Northern Ireland Assembly received reports of a decline greater than 50%.

In other words, the world’s bees are dying.

I can’t stress how screwed the world would be if we lost the bees. I can’t even imagine it.

What Stupid People Do

Last night, when I returned home from a great day out with my dog and friends, I had an email message from someone responding to a Craig’s List ad I posted about wanting bees. He was reporting a swarm in Malaga. He’d sent the message at about 5:30 PM. It was now 8 PM, but still light.

I called him about it. He said the swarm was on a piece of scrap lumber only 2 feet off the ground on a lot with a home under construction. It had been there more than 24 hours. It was easy to reach and probably easy to catch.

Although I sorely wanted to capture the swarm myself, I didn’t want to drive the 40 miles (each way) to Malaga. So I called my friend, Jim, and told him about it. I gave him the address and even looked up directions on Google Maps. It would only take him about 15 minutes to get there. He was psyched. He said he’d throw on his shoes and try to get them.

I heard back from his wife about an hour later.

Dead Bees
Dead honey bees.

Jim had found the bees, dead, along with a few cans of Raid.

The bees are dying well enough on their own, but some moron has to go at them with a can of pesticide?

Dozens of beekeepers who live in the area are willing — and eager — to remove a swarm of bees for free, but some idiot has to kill them?

The stupidity of people amazes me.

Don’t Kill the Bees

Please, people, don’t kill the bees.

If you see a swarm, remain calm. Swarming bees are generally not dangerous. They’re just relocating. They’re like you in that big U-Haul truck, parked at a rest stop on the freeway, taking a break.

Call for help.

Your best bet is a beekeeper, if you can find one listed in a local phone book or online for your area. Try Craig’s List; search for “bees” or “swarm.”

The next best bet is the local Humane Society or Animal Control Department of the town or city where you live. They often have contact information for beekeepers.

Next choice: the police, but not 9-1-1. (A bee swarm is not a police emergency.)

Last choice: a pest control company, but with the request that they send someone to remove the bees without killing them. If they won’t do it for free, ask them to find a beekeeper who will. They should have this information handy.

I will concede that if the bees get into the walls of a building or some other place where they can’t be reached, extermination might be necessary. But if you call for help as soon as you see a swarm, you can usually prevent it from getting into that unreachable place and save it.

As the person who contacted me, and my friend Jim tried to do.

Expensive Delusions

When verifying the reality of a delusion gets expensive — and makes the deluded people look like fools.

I have to blog this. It’s the funniest thing that has happened since my divorce turned ugly last August.

The Back Story

As many readers know, I’ve been planning to buy and build a home on a lot in Malaga, WA. What some readers may not know is that back in July, when I thought there might be a chance of reconciliation with my estranged husband, I took him to see the lot I wanted to buy.

I envisioned us building a summer home there where I was making 80% of my income during three months. I envisioned him opening the bicycle repair shop he’d talked about on more than one occasion, possibly with bike rentals, along the nearby 11-mile bike trail in Wenatchee. I envisioned us living back in our paid-for Arizona home during the winter, taking it easy with a semi-retired lifestyle that would leave him plenty of time to fly his plane and build skills for his retirement career as a certified flight instructor.

I really thought that if he saw the land and the view that he’d envision the same life I saw for us. A life that didn’t include him being a slave to pay for a condo he didn’t need and I hated. A life with new, fun challenges in a beautiful place that wasn’t overrun with cheap retirees and rabid conservatives. A life with lots of recreational opportunities and a sunny future.

I didn’t realize then that he was already under the thumb of a desperate old woman who had seduced him with 30-year-old lingerie photos. I didn’t realize that he had stopped thinking for himself and was only doing what his new mommy told him to do.

That’s the back story: I found a 10-acre view lot in Malaga and I showed it to my future ex-husband, foolishly thinking he’d like it, too. Then I waited until the divorce was finalized and I got my settlement to buy it.

Fast Forward, May 7, 2013

My husband and his girlfriend/mommy managed to drag the divorce process out to April 2013. Other factors dragged it into May. On May 7, we had the first of two half-day sessions in front of a judge.

I was on the stand most of that time. During the cross-examination, their lawyer — I can’t really call him my husband’s lawyer since his girlfriend/mommy has been giving most orders to him since at least November — asked me a curious question:

“Isn’t it true that you own a home in Washington state?”

The question really took me by surprise. Me own a home in Washington? If that was the case, then why would I be living in Wickenburg, AZ, in a home filled with memories of a life I’d lived with the man I loved? The home I’d been locked out of by the man who obviously now hated me and had been harassing me since my return in September?

I answered truthfully: “No.”

He pressed on: “Isn’t it true that you have been living most of the past six months in Washington?”

I might have laughed. “No,” I replied. Other than a few short trips to Washington and California and Florida, I’d spent most of the past six months stuck in Wickenburg. Packing.

Afterwards, I talked about that question with my lawyer, family, and friends. It had seemed so out of left field. Did they honestly think I was living in Washington? If so, my testimony, under oath, should set them straight.

At least that’s what I thought.

Another Court Date

After another delay, we had our final appearance before the judge on May 31. My future ex-husband testified. Although most of his testimony was irrelevant and complete waste of time, he did manage to convince me that he’s become quite a liar. Or he’s more delusional than I thought.

My favorite piece of fiction: That during the six years of our marriage, he’d helped me with my helicopter business at least 100 times. That’s quite a feat for someone trapped in a 9 to 5 grind who uses his vacation time to visit family in New York and spends most of his other free time watching television. I was able to get back on the stand and insert a dose of reality for the judge’s consideration.

When we left the court, we all let out a sigh of relief. Now that it was in the judge’s hands, it was finally over. They’d finally stop harassing me.

At least that’s what I thought.

The Abuse Continues

The first indication that I was wrong came the day after the court appearance. He transferred the the balance of our joint checking account, which has always been equally contributed to and used for household expenses, to his personal checking account.

It’s not the money that bothered me. Frankly, it isn’t worth spending time worrying about the $445 that was my share.

What bothered me was the fact that the account was being used to pay our sole joint liability: the home equity line of credit. When the automatic payment came through, the payment would bounce and the account would be charged $35.

I knew this for a fact because I’d been watching my husband’s old checking account, which I could see when I logged into Bank of America. He’d drained that, too, but had stupidly forgotten to stop automatic payments from that account. Since September, he had bounced five checks and had been hit with a $35 fee for each one. (I knew because I still got low balance alerts for that account with all the others I monitored. That’s how I found out immediately about his withdrawal from the house account.) Some people just can’t manage their own finances. Good thing I was in charge of paying the bills all those years.

So by removing the money from that account, he’d set us up for bank fees and a possible hit to our credit scores for late payment of a loan.

And let’s not ignore the fact that he had no legal right to remove any funds from that account without the permission of the court unless it was to pay for house expenses. This money was true joint funds used for a specific purpose. Half the money was mine. He was stealing from me.

What a freaking idiot.

Amazing that it took him less than 24 hours to prove again how stupid he could be.

And Now for the Funny Part

On June 5 — still less than a week from that final court date — I was sitting at an outdoor restaurant, having lunch. I’d just spent the morning traipsing all over that 10-acre lot in Malaga with two surveyors, identifying property corners and the northern property line. I wanted to make sure I could visualize what my future 10 acre lot looked like. I wanted to see what land I had to work with.

(I was very pleased with the results. The lot appears about three times the size I’d visualized, working from incorrect corner markers.)

As I sat eating lunch, I checked my email. And that’s when I saw the latest bit of nonsense from my husband’s side of the divorce: They were insisting that I had already purchased the lot. In fact, they insisted that I had closed in January and that I was already developing it!

I really didn’t have any idea where they’d gotten these specific details. Although the email communication I’d been forwarded — from my husband’s mommy/girlfriend to their lawyer to my lawyer — mentioned tweets, I can’t remember having ever tweeted anything about having bought the land. Why? Well, I’d never bought it. So how could they have information about a closing date? And what made them think I’d started developing the land?

An earlier email message answered one of those questions. Apparently, back in early April 2013, they’d hired an “investigator” to snoop around the property I planned to buy. He’d photographed an RV (not mine) and cargo trailer (not mine) on a lot with a view a lot like the one I’d soon have. He’d provided details about septic system takeouts and obvious earthwork. The investigator’s report and some of the photos were included in the email forwarded from my husband to his lawyer to my lawyer. This was their proof that I’d lied in court — that I owned a home in Washington and was building on it!

Click play to cue soundtrack for this hilarity. (Many thanks to Facebook friend Dean for offering up this very appropriate music track.)

The only problem is, the photos showed the lot next to the one I was planning to buy.

You cannot imagine how hard I laughed when I realized this. My husband and his girlfriend/mommy had spent hundreds of dollars hiring an “investigator” to photograph my future neighbor’s property!

How they screwed this up so badly is beyond me. Who gave the investigator the address? Where did it come from? That has to be a story in itself.

How Delusions Become Costly

You realize that to find out what property I own in Malaga, all a person has to do is go to the Chelan County Assessor’s Office website and do a parcel search for my last name. If my husband or his girlfriend/mommy or their lawyer or the investigator had spent about 5 minutes doing this, they would have concluded that I didn’t own any land in Malaga or anywhere else in Chelan country. And if they thought they got the county wrong, they could have done the same for Douglas and Grant countries.

But the trouble is, they weren’t interested in reality. They were interested in producing evidence to back up their delusion.

They were convinced that I owned land in Washington. That was their delusion.

Maybe they did try a property search. They would have come up empty. But in their deluded minds, they knew I had property in Washington. They would have made excuses for why the tax rolls didn’t reflect their idea of reality. Perhaps they hadn’t been updated lately. Perhaps I’d bought the land in someone else’s name. Perhaps the Chelan County Assessor’s office was conspiring against them to hide the truth about me and my vast Washington real estate holdings.

Hey, anything is possible when you don’t rely on facts.

So they hired an “investigator” and told him where to take photos. Maybe they told him approximately where the lot was and he did some “investigating,” coming up with the only lot on that side of the road that was being developed. Having an RV on it must have sealed the deal that it was my lot, even though the tax rolls said it was owned by someone else.

Never mind that the RV on the lot wasn’t the one I owned, the one he claimed in court to have installed $5,000 to $9,000 of improvements in. (Another lie.) It wasn’t even the same make and model. And even though the “investigator” took photos of the Washington state license plates on the RV and the cargo trailer, no one had the idea to run those plates and see who they were registered to? If they had, they’d see that they were registered to someone other than me. Probably the people who owned the lot.

But that would shatter the delusion. Can’t do that. Delusional people only want evidence to support their delusions.

And apparently, they’re wiling to pay to get that evidence.

What Now?

Well, I’ve informed all parties that they investigated the wrong lot. I made it quite clear how amusing I think this is and how incredibly stupid I think my husband, his girlfriend/mommy, their lawyer, and the “investigator” are. I haven’t heard anything more about it.

But I suspect they don’t believe me. After all, they are delusional. I said in court, under oath, that I did not own a home in Washington. I said this on May 7, 2013. I did not lie in court.

But they obviously didn’t believe I was telling the truth then, under oath. So why would they believe me now?

Packing Up, Getting Out

I’m finally free.

I’ve been living in my Arizona home since September 15, 2012. That’s the day I returned from my fifth summer work season in Washington and found the locks changed on the home I’d been living in for 15 years and the hangar I’d been leasing for my business for 11 years.

Apparently, my husband thought that keeping me out of my only home so he could move his girlfriend in was as easy as changing a $15 lock. Needless to say, he was wrong.

He’d been away when I returned that September day. He moved out in early September — or possibly before that– forwarding all of our mail to the Phoenix condo, turning off the water heater, and unplugging many appliances.

September 15 was his mother’s birthday and she was 90. I knew there would be some sort of party for her back in New York and that he’d go. I later discovered that he used that opportunity to introduce my replacement to a collection of stunned family members and friends. Because he spent the next few days with his girlfriend at Niagara Falls — how quaintly romantic! — I had plenty of time to get the locks changed so I could secure my home and hangar and have his airplane removed from my hangar and tied down on the ramp.

For the record, if he hadn’t changed the locks on the house, I probably wouldn’t have, either. At least not right away. And if he hadn’t locked me out of my hangar, I definitely wouldn’t have moved the plane. But since he went on the offensive, I went on the defensive.

The next eight months would be more of the same.

His First Visit

Fish Tank
This fish tank was an early source of harassment. Although it was mine, purchased before marriage, they claimed it was his, that it was worth over $1,000 and contained “exotic” fish. When I gave it away, they used it as evidence in court that I was disposing of my husband’s assets.

He showed up at the house with a police officer on September 18 — the same police officer I’d spoken to only days before when I was concerned that he might do something to hurt me or my possessions when he returned home. He was angry and it showed as he stalked around the house with his camera, taking photos per the instructions of his girlfriend or lawyer.

He didn’t want to talk to me. When I asked him why he locked me out of the house, he replied, “You weren’t supposed to get back until October.”

I said, “And what were you going to do then? Meet me at the door with a bunch of friends to keep me out?” He didn’t reply.

When he left me, he went back to Scottsdale, back to the house he was living in with my replacement, the 64-year-old woman who had become his mommy. The same home where our poor dog, Charlie, was confined in a small, walled-in backyard.

His Delusional State of Mind

Soon afterward, he made his only settlement proposal. According to him, I should hand over my half of our paid-for house (worth $285K), pay the $31K balance on the home equity line of credit (which was mostly borrowed by him through automatic overdraft protection withdrawals), and give him $50K cash. In return, I could leave with everything else that was morally and ethically mine — everything I’d worked hard for my whole life. He’d keep the house, the condo, the furniture, and so many other things I’d bought for our home over the years.

Basically, he was demanding that I pay him so he could move his girlfriend/mommy right into the home I’d made for us over the 15 years we’d lived there.

He was convinced that I was so desperate to leave Arizona that I’d give up what was rightfully mine and simply go away.

I honestly don’t know what gave him this idea. I only had one home — my Wickenburg house. Where did he think I was so anxious to go? What did he think I would do with nothing to rebuild my life elsewhere? I still don’t understand what was going on in his head.

It was around this time that I realized he’d become delusional.

I Settle in for the Long Haul

When I didn’t accept that proposal and the judge awarded me exclusive use of the house and my leased hangar in Temporary Orders — giving him exclusive use of the Phoenix condo — he and his girlfriend/mommy went on the offensive with a series of actions and demands that showed just how little the 29 years we’d spent together meant to him. I had somehow morphed from his loving wife to an evil entity that he needed to destroy. All within four months.

It’s amazing how a weak man can be manipulated by a desperate and vindictive woman.

Because that’s really what it was all about. My husband’s girlfriend/mommy felt threatened by me. The only way she could possibly secure her future with my husband was to paint me as the bad guy any way she could. So when I came home from my summer work early, she likely told him I’d done it so I could steal things from our home. When I moved his plane out of the hangar, she likely told him it was because I wanted his plane to be stolen or damaged. When I won exclusive use of my only home — when he had another place to live and was actually living with her in Scottsdale — she likely told him that I’d moved back just to keep him out and prevent him from being happy.

Everything that I did to defend what was rightfully mine was twisted into some kind of offensive move to prove how hateful and evil I was.

The thing she feared most: that the two of us would get together and talk and possibly reconcile our differences. After all, on the same September day I’d returned home, he’d told a mutual friend that he still loved me.

So she did everything she could to convince him that I didn’t give a damn about him. That all I wanted was to manipulate him and prevent him from achieving his goals. That I was just using him as a tool to achieve my goals.

When I think about how easily he swallowed this line of bullshit, my heart aches. All my friends tell me I’m better off without him and I know they’re right. But I also know he’s not better off without me. And because I still care deeply about him — yes, I still love the stupid bastard — I can’t help feeling sad about the path he’s chosen and the kind of woman he’s chosen to take it with. The man I knew deserved so much better.

But, as usual, I digress.

Community Property, Misunderstood

My Crate
I got this nice wooden crate in college from a boyfriend. For years, it was the table in the den of our house. Oddly, it was one of the first things I packed. (The TV was joint property that I left behind; the Klipsch speakers and stereo equipment was his.)

I discovered that even though we’d only been married six years and I’d acquired many of my assets prior to marriage, he thought that he owned half of everything we owned. He had crazy high numbers for the value of my assets and his quick math had come up with the insane settlement proposal he kept trying to push on me.

The reality of the situation was that he only had a claim to half of everything acquired during the six years of our marriage. That took many things off the table. But he refused to acknowledge this. I’m not sure why his lawyer didn’t set him straight. Or maybe he did but his girlfriend/mommy convinced him the lawyer was wrong. Who knows?

Even when we went to mediation, in December 2012, he was working with inaccurate information. We spent three hours in separate rooms, each of us with our attorney, while a mediator went back and forth. There were 14 items on the equalization list — it would benefit both of us to clear as many of those items off the table as possible. In the end, we agreed on four or five items and I was ready to sign off on them. But he suddenly got stubborn and refused to sign off on anything. All or nothing, he said.

I wonder to this day whether he called his girlfriend/mommy to get that advice. I can’t imagine his lawyer advising him to take such an idiotic stance.

Putting Off the Inevitable

Soon afterward, they asked the court to continue the trial date — originally scheduled for January 2013 — because they supposedly wanted to get a formal evaluation of my business. The court rescheduled for April 25, 2013.

This was a huge mistake on their part. For some reason, my husband still believed that I was in a hurry to leave Arizona. He apparently believed that if he dragged out the proceedings by pushing back the court date and turned up the heat on the harassment, I’d give up and go away.

Again, this boggles my mind. We were together 29 years. You’d think he’d know me better. But he really was delusional. He believed what his girlfriend/mommy — a woman who had never even met me! — told him.

I know this was their plan because they did absolutely nothing to get a formal evaluation of my business and they did indeed turn up the heat on the harassment.

To make matters worse (for him), he failed to deliver the discovery documents my lawyer had requested. After waiting two months for them, we had to take him to court to get him to comply. The judge awarded me legal fees for that action. And even then, he still didn’t submit all the documents on time. We had to subpoena all his bank and credit card companies for the information we needed. It was as if he didn’t think he needed to comply because he was so sure I’d just give up and go away.

Thanks, Honey

Meanwhile, I was glad to have the additional time at home. After all, it was my home — my only home — and it was comfortable and cheap to live in. I had no place else to go. By pushing back the court date, he did me a real favor.

He didn’t do himself any favors, though. The longer I stayed, the more of my possessions I packed.

Keep in mind that I lived in that house at least 9 years before we were married. I had incredible success in my writing business during those years and was making a lot of money. I bought many things for my office and the house — from office furniture and shelves to a hot tub to a wine fridge to kitchen appliances to decorative items like silk plants and curtains. These were all my things, my sole and separate property.

When I first got home in September, I concentrated on packing and storing my most valuable possessions: my antique lamps, my Navajo rug, my Lenox china. But as I remained in the house, day after day, putting up with the harassment they dealt out via threatening letters to my lawyer and other actions, I packed or discarded more and more of my possessions that I probably would have left behind if we’d settled sooner: books, CDs, DVDs, everyday dishes, pots and pans, about half the crystal stemware, kitchen linens, bath linens, bed linens, kitchen gadgets, and so much more.

Kitchen
The microwave looks as if it’s built into the wall with the oven, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t. It’s gone now and there’s an empty shelf in its place. I look forward to using the microwave in my new home. And, for the record, I threw away those curtains. What a bitch they were to sew.

I clearly remember the day I pulled my Sharp microwave oven out of the wall in the kitchen. He’d sent the police to our house to interrogate me on a charge of harassment after I’d made a one-minute visit to him in his condo the day before. The police officer was incredibly kind as I sobbed over my husband’s betrayal and his use of the police to harass me. He agreed that my husband didn’t have a case and even apologized for bothering me before he left. But my anger over this most recent offensive move convinced me to counter it. I got out my tools and pulled the microwave my parents had given me as a housewarming gift back in 1986 out of the wall. I put the shelf that had been there when we moved in back into the wall slot and cleaned it up with some Pledge. The next day, I boxed the microwave up and put it into storage.

I started using the fireplace every day. I managed to burn nearly all the firewood before it got too warm to have fires.

The more my husband fucked with me, the less I’d leave behind for him and his girlfriend/mommy.

Hell, I had nothing better to do than pack anyway. And I had plenty of storage space to put everything. The local thrift shops got all of my things that I no longer wanted. Things I might have left behind if we’d settled sooner, on better terms, without all the pain and harassment. Books, decorative items, luggage, games, electronic equipment.

As they began challenging my ownership of items, I began looking for receipts. That’s when I found the receipt for the telescope and additional lenses. I packed that up in late April and put it in storage. When I resettled in Washington, I’d have it fixed up and put it to good use.

Another Failed Attempt to Settle

Guest Room
I left behind almost all of the guest room furniture. But I did take the linens and, of course, the curtains. The curtains might work in my next bathroom; the rods are really nice.

When I got a new lawyer, his lawyer said they were interested in trying to settle with me. I was all for that. I had already presented him with a counter offer that was very generous. I was hoping he’d come to his senses and accept it. I agreed to attempt mediation again but only if we both sat in the same room and discussed it like adults.

It came as no surprise that he refused. He was afraid of me. He was afraid to be in the same room with his wife without his girlfriend/mommy there to advise him. Poor baby.

We attempted to settle the personal property with correspondence between lawyers. My proposal offered to give him almost all the furniture in the house and condo in return for just a few items that I wanted. We’d each keep whatever vehicles and other property was in question and he could even keep the condo. The net effect was that he’d come out at least $30K ahead for these assets on the table. I asked my lawyer’s assistant what she thought of my proposal and she said she thought it was extremely generous. “Let this be your bellwether, then,” I told her. “If he turns this down, it’s proof that he’s being unreasonable.”

Of course, he turned it down. It had gotten to the point where they — my husband and his girlfriend/mommy — didn’t want me to have anything that I wanted — even if that item was a piece of furniture worth $100 at the garage sale prices the court used.

They sent us a list of property in the house that was obviously prepared by my husband’s girlfriend/mommy. She referred to our upstairs den or TV room (as we called it) as the “mezzanine.” (Jeez, why didn’t she just sign her name to the list?) The list included many of my sole and separate assets, including my antique lamps (no, they’re not “Pierpont Puffs”), Navajo rug (a “woven tapestry,” according to her), and china (yes, it’s Lenox, but she got the pattern wrong). When they added the value of all these items, it came out to more than the value of the empty house. Apparently, she was just as delusional as he was.

Of course, by this time, most of my things had already been packed and moved out of the house. Most of the stuff that remained was either his — like the stereo equipment and his dad’s old bookcase — or the jointly owned furniture items or the items I needed to live comfortably.

Somewhere along the line, they said I could keep the bedroom set but neither sofa and nothing from the condo. They demanded that I leave behind the ceiling fans and curtain rods in the house. Like I was going to remove six southwestern style ceiling fans and take them to my future home in the Pacific northwest.

My lawyer and I pretty much ignored them, although my Facebook friends and I had a good laugh at their expense.

More Packing

I started taking down curtains, beginning with the ones I’d made not long after moving into the house. The curtains and curtain rods were mine. I would have left them behind if my husband’s girlfriend/mommy hadn’t made an issue of them. I dropped off most of the curtain rods at the local thrift shop. Hell, it wasn’t as if I wanted them.

By this time — April — I had pretty much run out of things to pack. I was eating off paper plates. I’d brought a countertop microwave and pots and pans down from our vacation property so I could still prepare meals.

I had a string of house guests to keep me company. We ate out a lot.

Hot Tub
When I couldn’t sell the hot tub, I gave it away. I certainly wasn’t going to leave it behind. (I’ll get a new one when I settle down.)

I gave away the hot tub. Its new owner picked it up while I was out on a day trip with friends.

I brought my helicopter back from California, where it had been parked on a frost contract. I did a bunch of flights for my big survey client — the one who had finally made my company profitable back in 2008. It was work I wouldn’t have had if my husband had settled sooner and I’d left.

I guess I need to thank my husband and his girlfriend/mommy for that extra revenue, too.

Finally! An Agreement!

I tried one more time to settle the personal property after our May 7 court date. I still had the list of items I wanted and the items I was willing to leave behind. We removed any mention of the vehicles and condo and RV in an effort to keep things simple. And because my lawyer was on vacation, his very capable assistant handled the communication with my husband’s lawyer.

I was shocked when they suddenly seemed to agree to my proposal.

The letter his lawyer drafted up said I could have the items from his condo that I wanted if I left the house by June 1. I asked about the other items on the list. I was told that they were agreeing to the entire list. We went back and forth a little. My lawyer came back from vacation. He dealt directly with my husband’s lawyer. The adjusted the language in the agreement to include a reference to the list so there would be no misunderstanding. I told them I needed until June 2 to finishing packing up and leave.

Meanwhile, my husband refused to allow me to be present when the items were picked up at his condo. More harassment. They had to do everything in their power to make everything difficult for me. I began to suspect that they’d damaged the items intentionally. I demanded photos. They sent them. Everything looked okay.

I still couldn’t understand why they were suddenly being so agreeable. Had their lawyer finally talked some sense into them? Or were they just that eager to get into the house I couldn’t wait to leave?

The Final Move

I made arrangements to send movers and a friend to act as my representative. In all honesty, I was glad I wouldn’t have to make that long round-trip drive to Phoenix — 90 minutes each way! My friend lived in the area and it would only take an hour or so out of her day. It would have killed half of mine. And frankly, I was pretty sick of driving between Wickenburg and Phoenix.

The pickup was set for May 30.

Bedroom
I took everything you see in this picture — except the ceiling fan. Seriously: the ceiling fans? What the hell did they think I was going to do with them?

A friend helped me move the jointly owned items I wanted from the house — the items on the list that he’d agreed to: our bedroom set, the chair in the bedroom, the lamps in the bedroom, the leather sofa in the TV room (AKA, mezzanine). We put it all into storage where the movers would pick everything up at once.

The furniture pickup went as planned. My friend inspected everything before it was packed. The movers brought it to my storage place and unloaded it. The furniture move was remarkably affordable and easy to take care of.

The movers made some comments about my husband’s girlfriend/mommy that got us all laughing. One of them said her clothes were too tight for someone her age. The other one said he thought my husband was gay.

Whoa.

I went back to the house to finish packing up the few things I had left: mostly clothes and scattered odds and ends.

And of course, the rest of the curtains and curtain rods.

The long distance movers will pick everything up this morning. (I guess I’m not the only one who works weekends.) They’ll load it into their truck, close the doors, and head north. I’ll turn over the hangar I’ve been renting for 11 years to my landlord, who has already parked a bunch of vans in the area formerly occupied by my husband’s plane.

I expect my possessions to arrive in Washington by the end of the week. A nice, secure, climate-controlled storage unit is waiting for them in a friend’s storage facility. With luck, I’ll be able to start unpacking in my new home by the end of the year.

I’m glad to be out of my Wickenburg house — more glad than anyone could possibly imagine. Although it was comfortable, it was full of reminders of a life with a man I love — a man who not only now hates me but is anxious to install his girlfriend/mommy in my place. It was a prison, of sorts. The only thing that made it tolerable was the steady stream of house guests and trips I made to visit friends and family members. Even when I was ready to leave, to go to work in Washington again, I couldn’t let it go because it was such a valuable bargaining chip.

A chip that paid off in the end — by enabling me to settle the personal property out of court and get what few jointly owned items I wanted.

Unfortunately for my husband and his girlfriend/mommy, there’s a lot less in that house than there would have been if he settled in September when he claimed he wanted to. Their stubborn greed cost them thousands — money they’ll have to spend to replace the items I packed while waiting for them to stop harassing me and reach a reasonable settlement.

Communication Breakdown, Part II

How could he not understand?

I wrote a a post back in September about a breakdown in communication between two people who had been living together for a long time and the breakup and heartbreak it caused. Obviously, the story was not as hypothetical as it was written. Twenty nine years is a long time. I still can’t understand how he could throw it all away — especially when things were finally getting good again.

I think he tried to communicate with me today. How? Well, we had to swap trucks. Despite the fact that he told me I could keep his truck in the divorce settlement — both verbally and in writing — he changed his mind. I fetched the truck from Washington a while back. Although my lawyer offered him the keys, he ignored that and took his demand to the court. (I did mention that he had a problem with communication, no?) The result was a truck swap this afternoon. He got his Chevy back and I got my Ford back. Whatever.

I didn’t notice his attempt at communication until I got home. I was taking my things out of the truck and noticed some papers folded up under the center console. I opened them up and found an odd collection of email messages from me, as well as a tweet I wrote to @MikeTRose yesterday in response to one of his replies to me:

The emails may have been his attempt to explain why he hated me. That’s the way I saw it. But when I read the emails, I could see no reason to hate. All I could see was my attempt to communicate the level of frustration I was feeling from his actions. I loved him but he was driving me nuts.

It seems that every time I pointed out a problem with our relationship, he took it personally and just sulked about it. He kept all those old emails and printed them out and left them in my truck when we swapped trucks today. Who keeps emails from four years ago? Why the hell didn’t he just talk it out with me then? This is what I don’t understand.

We had such a freaking good life together — an enviable life. He was — note the use of past tense — a great partner. What the hell happened to him? When did he forget that life is for living?

For example, back in 2008, when I was doing helicopter tours at Lake Powell (making really good money, I might add), he scheduled a trip back to New York to visit his family. Not only did we have a dog back home that needed to be cared for, but his aged horse had become seriously ill. He expected me to drop everything and return early to watch the dog and care for the horse. My email response summarized why I thought he was being unreasonable. After all, couldn’t he have scheduled that trip for another time? I’d be home in a week or two anyway.

Is that worth hating me for? I don’t think so.

(He wound up leaving anyway. Our neighbor was present when the vet put his horse down. I came back from Lake Powell for a few days to take care of things at home. But I don’t get any credit for any of that.)

In another message, which also showed part of what I was replying to, we both lamented about feeling alone while I was away, working in Washington. Yet for years, he’d spent a full week (or more) every single month in New Jersey, leaving me in Arizona to care for the house, dog, horses, and chickens. Add that up and you get three months a year — about the same amount of time I spent in Washington that year. Later, he spent four days every week living in his condo in Phoenix — that’s more than half of his time — when I was home in Wickenburg. Yet back in 2010, he apparently expected me to sacrifice the business I was building to keep him company. I complained that I wasn’t interested in staying home to watch the animals and cook his meals, just to be rewarded with an evening of television every night.

Is that worth hating me for? I don’t think so.

The rest of the messages were in the same vein. I was working hard away from home, building my business — a business he promised to join me in. I spent a ton of money buying an RV that was big enough to house him, me, and our dog when he turned 55 (last year) and hit the road with me for half the year. I built up my cherry drying contracts and brainstormed for ways we could work together to make money. He even got his helicopter rating so he could ferry the aircraft while I drove the trailer when we were in transit.

But when the time came, he made excuses not to join me. I waited, hoping he’d change his mind. Instead, he waited for me to leave this summer, got a membership on Chemistry.com, and was sleeping with another woman a month later.

Yes, I trusted a man who let me down, cheated on me, and then lied to me. Yes, I’m a chump. Hell, I trusted him. Wouldn’t you trust someone you’d lived with for 29 years?

Is that worth hating me for? I don’t think so.

But what I still don’t understand is why he thinks he should hate me for wanting a better life for both of us. For working hard to make it happen.

And I can’t understand how he could give up on us — especially after asking me to see a marriage counsellor to help patch things up — when we were on the verge of getting everything right again. He finally had his dream job with travel for two of us and a work-from-home schedule. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel he’d been in with a long string of unsatisfying jobs. I could see blue skies and smooth air ahead.

But I guess he didn’t want the woman he’d spent more than half of his life with. The woman who’d taken care of him and made a home for him all those years. The woman who had introduced him to motorcycling, horseback riding, flying. The woman who shared her things with him — horses, trailers, jet skis. I guess it was time to dump the woman who spoke out when she wasn’t happy in favor of the first new woman who slept with him and agreed with everything he said.

Yes, baby. Whatever you want.

That’s not me. And the man who wants that is not a man I want to live with.

I just wish he’d been more of a man when he ended our relationship. A real man would have done it in person, before he started sleeping around. This man is a lying, cheating coward who can’t even talk to me, face to face, when he’s alone with me in person. Instead, he leaves old email messages hidden away in my truck for me to find and read when he’s not around.

And who hates me for reasons I still don’t understand.