Monthly Archives: December 2015

Chapter Nine is up but here’s also something on Domestic Violence Counseling class

Here’s the next chapter of A Stranger’s Blood at this link–  Chapter Nine

But in the meantime, why am I so late in putting this chapter out– well, errors happen, but I have a better reason. I just finished completing my certificate (a forty-hour class,) in Domestic Violence counseling, so that I now have met the “requirements of a “domestic violence counselor” pursuant to evidence code 1037.1 (a) (1).”

Why did I chase down this course? Well I have tutored a number of students and listened to a few families, and so I have had a little awareness of some situations that worried me. Then a family of a past student I tutored (is that a tutee?) asked me for advice about an abusive relationship their teenager had entered, bad enough that the police had been involved. I felt like an idiot. My first violent response was clearly totally inappropriate and destructive, so I figured that since I hate being ignorant, the solution was to call the Domestic Violence hotline and learn. But the hotline wasn’t enough and I ended up at this fascinating course.

Any of you who may be interested in doing so as well, will find similar courses available where you are. I was fascinated to learn that among other details a person who wants to get information on options may call even from another country (if they are sure that their abuser does not have the ability to track their calls.) Domestic Violence counseling has evolved into a far less judgmental approach than I had realized and I was struck by how much there was offered in resources to those who may be in a dangerous or simply difficult situation. Options, but not direction, support but no pushing. The individual who calls is in charge of what he or she chooses to take and decides to reject. Every situation is different, with complex interplay between risks and losses. The fact that the greatest danger to a client is after they have left the situation, shocked me. I had not thought. Now it makes sense.

I am stuffed with information right now but will restrain myself and only add that on average it takes seven attempts for a person to be able to successfully leave a negative or threatening intimate situation. Do, please, even if you are the least affected person on the planet, find out what you can about this issue– it is surprising and troubling how widespread the problem is, and how it crosses all lines of identity, education and income.

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Another chapter

rmg #1432

Here’s the next chapter for you at      http://www.robinwinter.net/chapter-eight-to-whose-end/

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next chapter

The next chapter is up on my other blog– http://www.robinwinter.net/chapter-seven-the-tides-of-death-and-the-ferryman/

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Fireplace dangers

I read a news item in our So. Cal paper yesterday that made me sit up straight and sweat. Been there, survived that. Or rather, my family did. Thanks to my father, Fred.

I put this memory aside, believing that it was something that didn’t happen to other people — that rules and permitting processes had eliminated this kind of danger and the event in our own lives was out of date. But no, when our local paper reports the same type of problem in 2015, that in my case came close to making me the sole survivor of my immediate family back in 1985, it’s time to tell a story.

We bought an old house in New Haven Connecticut about thirty years ago. Built in the 1850’s it had been refurbished for yuppie appeal in the late 1960’s. A small narrow house, fitted in apparently by crowbar (less than four feet between its nearest neighbor on the East side), it was a working man’s home. Inspected, cleared for use.

First Christmas of our ownership, husband and myself went to Massachusetts where his parents lived, and left my family in the New Haven house. My parents recently come from Nigeria, my older sister and husband from Princeton, my younger sister from her school in upper New York State. They found our thin-walled old structure flimsy and full of drafts and happily used the first floor fireplace to heat the central rooms for all.

Very early morning of their third day, about 2:30 by my best guess, my father does his classic Fred thing. He smells something. He gets up and prowl the house, and he doesn’t like what he scents. Now let’s be honest. My father was always smelling something. We grew up with him smelling something. So my older sister rolls over with a groan when he pokes at her and says “Do you smell something? I think something’s burning.”

Her husband is no more interested in smelling something than she is.

Our father goes down to my younger sister. She is even less interested in smelling something, groggy in her bed, so he disturbs our mother, who mutters something like “Freddy, you always smell something.”

Back to my older sister who finally rouses enough to put her feet on the floor and yawning, stands up to indeed find that the air at standing level is thick and smoky. Choking.

Everyone is roused, the fire department called, arrives in flaring lights and sirens and finds that a central beam of the house is deeply engaged in smoldering. Five to fifteen minutes from the whole structure exploding into flames, is their best estimate. Five to fifteen minutes  away from gutted.

So my family was saved by Freddy’s nose. His inconvenient nose. And the source? The builder who renovated for the yuppies laid that ground floor hearth in quarter inch slate and mortar on plywood. Do you know how little heat it takes to crack mortar laid that thinly? An adventurous ember slips into that crack and smolders gently away, excavating a space that draws oxygen in, sufficient to the cause. The fire moves gently along, under the surface of that hearth of slates, moves along until it finds a well-aged beam. Settles in for the long burn.

Now a neighbor in 2015 in Southern California has just escaped immolation from the same kind of renovation. Check your hearths, my friends, check the rebuilds. Do be careful– I still love a fire in the fireplace but my house has a floor of cement these days, and I know the hearth is brick and tile over that deep cement. I checked. These are good days, when I know we don’t need Fred’s nose to save us. Make sure, please, that you don’t need Fred’s nose either.

 

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