It was 3:30 in the morning and a chill had come over the room, as it often does out here. I awoke with a start to see that the propane space heater wasn’t on. In the cobwebs of my thinking, I hadn’t remembered until I got up to check it that it was I who had earlier turned off the valve to conserve precious fuel. Otherwise, I would have been down to my last tank, a day before schedule.
Living on Social Security isn’t easy. My budget allows for few luxuries, requires Spartan discipline, and supreme patience. For nearly a month now, I have been waiting in the darkness of 17-hour nights without a generator (“free” shipping!), until the sunlight restores enough power to commence 7 hours of daily computer time. I have just a week’s supply left of the prescriptions which are supposedly forestalling another stroke. Two or three days’ dog food. Thankfully, the coffee hasn’t run out yet—though I am on the last of that, too. Just five days to wait until my next monthly deposit.
I don’t know what is going on for most people in the outer world—though my son, who makes it his avocation to observe the world of retail, says the shopping center scene is grim: “I went to the only large enclosed mall in Daytona Beach to return and exchange items and attend a special private event at a prominent department store to which I was invited. I had missed last year’s offering (the first time I was invited) so I wanted to check it out and I had other errands to do at that same location.
“There seems to be a general lack of joy in the air and it was painfully obvious yesterday at an event that was advertised as festive. It’s supposedly Christmastime with all the requisite decorations, music, and tugs of emotion on your heartstrings, and while people weren’t grumpy or angry, none of the feelings of anticipation and happiness that I remember from years past were present.
“Crowds at the mall, if you can call them that, were rather sparse. For a weekend afternoon in December, it looked more like a generic weekday evening in September. At one store, the employees were helpful but didn’t seem to want to be there (a comment I’ve read by others from their travels over Thanksgiving weekend). One of the other large department stores where I made returns was open 3 hours longer than usual, but at 7:00 pm I saw only about six people who didn’t work there.
“The store that hosted the special event has three locations in that mall and the men’s and home store was nearly deserted. The person serving refreshments said they had expected more people and half the snacks were still left at closing time.”
I do know that contributions to the Redemption Project have slowed to a trickle—just $50 a month for the last 2 months from one regular contributor. All the others have fallen by the wayside.
I haven’t tried to do anything about it for a couple reasons. First, over the last few months I have experienced a dramatic loss of energy. I can’t even seem to get it together to keep up my correspondence with the young people who are incarcerated. I don’t feel as if I am “earning my keep.” Second, until Derek King, Lone Heron, or some other parricide actually comes here to help, I have been feeling like Estrella Vista is becoming more of a future goal to be realized—and fundraised for—after circumstances change. The failure to raise enough money for Travis Montgomery’s defense really took the wind out of my sails and convinced me that I don’t have much of the old fight left in me.
In the meantime, I am doling out commissary funds to the most needy and vulnerable, and trying to periodically cover other accounts and needs out of my own pocket. But that has been spotty. I have begun seeking freelance writing assignments, which is something I can do by phone and Internet, and without travel. Somehow we are going to get through this tight spot. Also, I am finally within sight of paying off the remaining debt on this property—and after that, it is a whole new story.
If you care to make a year-end contribution to the Redemption Fund, I would be most appreciative. If you are already corresponding with one or more of our young inmates, nothing is preventing you from contributing directly to their commissary accounts through JPay. I’m sure they would be most grateful to you for helping pick up the slack.
To make a contribution to the Redemption Project, please use the link at the top of this page or click here. Thank you!
65° Hazy in the morning and Clearing later