16 Mom dies. Claudia Joy Patterson Teare April 23, 2015

My name is Steve Teare. I’m the eldest of the four Teare children. In 1957, my family lived in Indiana. West Lafayette is on one side of the Wabash River. It’s home to Purdue University. My Dad was attending Purdue to get his doctorate degree in Agronomy. We lived in the university’s married-student apartments. That summer, I turned four-years-old. My brother Brad was not quite two. The feature-length, Disney animated film, Bambi, was re-released in theaters then. I imagine my mother took me to see the movie for my birthday. It was a shock to my young mind and heart. I learned a new thing I never even considered: Mothers can die.

In the film, the deer fawn, Bambi, grows up very attached to his mother. He spends most of his time with her. Bambi is curious and inquisitive like all children. His loving mother cautions him about the dangers of forest life.

One day at the end of winter, Bambi and his mother go to the meadow and discover a patch of new grass. It’s finally the arrival of spring. As they eat, Bambi’s mother senses a hunter and orders Bambi to flee. As they run, gun shots ring out. When Bambi arrives at their thicket, he discovers his mother is no longer with him. He’s unaware that the hunter killed her.

Bambi wanders off in the forest calling for her. But she never answers. His father appears in front of him. He tells Bambi “your mother can’t be with you any more”, revealing to Bambi that his mother is dead, then leads him away. The death of Bambi’s mother was so dramatic and emotional the movie writer’s had it occur off screen. Reviewers criticized the film as a “horror story.”

Even Walt Disney’s own daughter Diane, then 24 at the time of this showing, complained that Bambi’s mother didn’t need to die. She felt Disney could have taken creative license and altered the story.

For me, in the darkness of the theater, I was overcome with a panic and anxiety I’d never felt before. I was afraid. I began to cry. I plead with my own mother to know what happened to the doe. “Where is she?” My mom reassured me that everything would be all right and that the mother deer had gone to heaven. I trusted and believed my mother then –and I believe her still today. All children reunite with their Mothers who love them.

I’ve gradually overcome my natural fear of losing my Mother because I learned from her there’s a life after this one. We’ll be together again. Our love is not broken.

When I was born, my mother’s wish was that I’d become a preacher someday. We were Methodist’s then and a preacher could sustain himself and his family by charging fees for his services. When I was 12, our family joined the Mormon Church — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since Mormon ministers are volunteers, they receive no pay. This ruined my Mother’s dream for my vocational future. She told me this story when I left to serve as a Mormon missionary in Argentina. For her, my mission fulfilled her desire. I would preach of Christ’s love.

So I tell you what she told me those decades ago, “Don’t be afraid. Everything will be all right.” Our mother is in a safe and good place.

Even though I can’t be with you today, I’m glad I get to “preach” to you of things my Mother taught. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He died that all mankind might rise again. My mother knew it and I know it. It’s true. When you examine your heart, you’ll know it’s true, also.

15 Life after Decagon

Three years ago, in the summer of 2011, I could sense I was the subject of not-so-secret meetings at Decagon. They had a new web developers on staff. He was getting all of the toys he desired and running free reign. I suspect this is because they felt they got a $120,000 per year employee for around $60,000 (or less). While that may seem like a bargain, he didn’t last three years. He left to get married and followed his new wife to her new job location. I don’t know what Decagon did for a new web person. But I read the job advertising and it was a good description for Superman.

But this guy wanted me out. He saw me as an obstruction. I was also locking horns with Scott Campbell who I had once rehired in his teenage years after he was fired from production. We had too much history. I had been too close to him. He was now the soon-to-be president of Decagon. I was doomed. All my old credibility didn’t matter diddle to this young generation of Campbell’s. They had forgotten all of the magic tricks I had done in my earlier years.

It’s always sad when you wake up one day and your business allies are gone. I was alone. I grieved for a long time. But I had started studying User Experience in earnest in spring of 2010. Or better said, I was heading in that direction for a long time and finally discovered that “discipline.”

Low-fidelity Branding was a blog I started about that time. http://ultraspeed2.blogspot.com/ Judicious beauty for advanced front-end optimization techniques.
When I first read about UX, I felt the Holy Ghost tingle inside of my chest. It was such a strong match to what I had been originally thinking. It seemed like the right path to follow. I needed to reinvent myself because designers were losing jobs right and left. The dawn of mobile devices like iPhone and tablet computers had changed the landscape. Plus CMS (content management systems) were the rage. It was a new DIY (do-it-yourself) web world. I was still hand-coding. But I didn’t like CMS because it was so bloated and slow to load. Lots of overhead code.

I had coined a phrase “web hospitality” and “web habitat” prior to that time which were about the same thing as UX. It probably was incubated before 2009. I registered PagePipe in February 19, 2004. So that was probably about the earliest time I got started. UX is about how people feel when they use a website. But that definition has gotten way out of hand and overblown into a mess of philosophies and cross disciplines. I now call UX a pseudo-science. It was idealistic beliefs but not practical. And research based, design is not a science.

At the end of August 2011, was when my Decagon contract expired. We had come to an agreement. They would pay me $40,000 plus one-years insurance as my “severance gift.” They would also pay for travel and retraining for UX certification. I got an additional $1,800 for that. And they paid, one last invoice of $1,700 which I claimed I needed to buy floor covering for our house. We did need floor covering — but after some thought that isn’t what we used it for. Everything went into savings. Or as much as possible.

I then finished up some pre-paid jobs for them through December and that was the end of it.

I didn’t attend any UX certification classes as I found out it was pretty bogus. Anyone can hang out a sign saying they are a UX professional. No schooling or certification required.

Those were wise decisions.

I was aware of a satisfaction survey idea that could be automated. I wasted a year and a half on that idea. No reward. But no debt. Just opportunity cost. It wasn’t a complete waste because it got me closer to the next step.

I was creatively lonely. Before-and-After Magazine, to which I subscribed, started an online forum called, “The Grid.” I started hanging out there and writing about my experiences and knowledge. I was soon their number one content writer. But it became boring as so few actually participated. It was like the same thing every week. I copied all of my entries and moved them to http://kat-files.blogspot.com/ for storage.

UX is what graphic design printed brochures have always been about: making people feel good about your product and business. Nothings changed just the media is electronic and onscreen. Big deal.

Anyway, I had worked at Decagon for 22 years. I saw the death of print on the horizon and Decagon had kept me boxed into that area. They wouldn’t let me do much in web work. I don’t know why. I guess they didn’t want me to be more than I was. No clue. I’d been lead to a dead end.

When the testing software venture went belly up, I had $1,000 left from it. I had only put in very little money less than $100. But I was heartbroken and had no idea what to do next.

Before that time, I’d gotten to know an interesting character from The Grid named Christian Nelson. He lived in Minnesota. I had started evaluating websites and publishing my results. I showed the stuff to him and we started talking about evaluating WordPress websites.

I also met Katrina Newman around this time. She was an inspiring kindred spirit that helped get me thinking creatively again.

I was opposed to using WordPress because of my prejudice against heavy CMS websites. But Christian convinced me that I could probably still customize WordPress. Soon, I was bitten and as I learned more I found I could obtain one-second load times. That was something I thought was impossible before.

WordPress is still growing but certain aspects of the market are mature. We’ll see how it goes.

Christian and I had an on-again, off-again creative collaboration. We were both pretty head strong. But I couldn’t tolerate him badgering me. A crime he always denied. Basically, he thought I was too sensitive. And maybe I am. So what?

14 Sleep Disorders Discovery

After my departure from Decagon (the first time!), it soon became apparent I had sleep disorders. They weren’t all discovered at once but here’s what we found with time: 
 
I was not only a rapid cycler but my Circadian rhythms had been suppressed by long term use of antidepressants. This meant I slept 3 or 4 hours in the afternoon and then was up all night until about 4 or 5 in the morning and then slept again until around 10 or noon. This is how my sleep cycles have been for 14 years or longer and I just started living with the body’s natural backup clock – the Ultradian rhythm.
But being nocturnal didn’t solve everything. I was still tired all the time. Sleep studies at Gritman hospital showed I had sleep apnea pretty bad. So I became a hosehead and have been ever since. Getting oxygen to my brain improved things quite a bit but something else was still wrong.
After three years of chronic diarrhea, the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong. My blood levels were all normal, etc. I started weaning off the Lithium and the symptoms started going away. I had lithium toxicity. So I was switched to Depakote and that helped. But neurotoxicity has continued and I can’t feel my feet any more. It’s getting worse so I’m going to a neurologist in Spokane soon. All they can do probably is assess the damage. But maybe there is something else I am not aware of.
There was nothing from the Spokane doctors except further classification that I have small-muscle neuropathy. Which is supposed to be less debilitating. I cannot tell the difference between heat and cold. My hands have started having synesthesia –essentially “false sensory readings” mainly textural weirdness. So I continue to worsen.

In 2014, after three years of observation, my physician in Pullman has admitted that all evidence points to my medications for chronic fatigue and worsening symptoms of neuropathy. The doctors for awhile seemed to think I was on the edge of diabetes. That has never proven true. I now walk with a cane when out of the house.

13 Fire at the Grange

I mentioned we don’t live far from the Grange building. It’s only two houses up the street. One summer Daniel and Nathan were visiting. Daniel and Tyler were about the same age. Daniel was 13 and Tyler 12. They went down town and bought some lighters at the store. They tried to light the bridge on fire. I had to look at that damage for a few years until the city changed out the planks. Then they went to the Grange and lit some pine needles on fire right up against the Grange. It was afternoon but I was asleep. Then I heard fire engines and police cars. The older boys Nathan and Derek tried to lie to cover for the younger boys. But it was soon evident that our boys had started the fire. In the end, the two boys were convicted of a felon which would be expunged if they had no more infractions by age 18. They both made it –barely.

There was $15,000 of damage to the Grange. Fortunately, our homeowner’s insurance covered it because of the boys young ages. They then canceled our policy. I don’t blame them.

Tyler had to do public service. When he wasn’t compliant, they put him in jail for a night. He did pretty well after that. And I had to take him into “Fire Classes” in Pullman. It was for a few weeks but was like salt in my wound. I couldn’t believe they could be that stupid after all the lessons on fire safety. It was a very dry summer and could have been much worse. The whole fire experience was a nightmare for me. It was the last summer we had the boys up from Logan. They were all getting raunchy and rude. The fun was gone. They were trying to prove who was the most macho and it was disgusting to me. It was a sad day. We had to fly Daniel back for the trial. I don’t remember seeing much remorse in those boys.

Tyler later told me when he was about 27 that he and Daniel bought the cigarette lighters at the store so they could smoke pot. Tyler was 11 at that time. Daniel supplied the marijuana (which he probably got from Nathan). So they were both high when they started the fires. Stupid.

Daniel later added this tidbit:
“Tyler had told me he found the lighters on the bank steps. Also I had never smoked pot till I was 15 and it was in Providence with a friend behind a old shed. Later learned I am allergic to the stuff. Haven’t been near it since I was 20. So the fact that Dad heard it from Tyler just seems like Tyler is trying to cover his butt about having started the fire. Just thought it was weird about the pot.”

Steve again: I guess we’ll never know the truth. Does it matter? Nope.

12 Studio and Storage

I then wired and insulated the studio. For electricity, I just tapped into the box outside that was right next to the studio. Technically, if everything in our home was on at the same time, we probably would have blown the main breaker. But we’re duty-cycling, essentially. There was never a circumstance where that occurred. Most of my energy draw was at night when everyone else was asleep. But there have been times when I wish we had more power amperage service than 200A. I installed a ceiling fan, heater and air conditioner. This was a great place to work and during my super-fatigue sleep apnea period I slept out there when I was tired (almost a year and a half.) Those were hard times. I made a platform bed with a single-size mattress. The other shed was bought by Terrie from a Church stage production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” It was part of a “set” and she bought it for $300. Her Dad came up and assembled it and put a steel roof on top. I had salvaged the galvanized steel from Max Huffaker’s chicken coop roof when they tore it down in 1989. It was good to see it finally used. It’s open to the air but keeps things dry. A haven for yellow jackets. We also added a slant roof to the house to cover an outside freezer and refrigerator on a cement slab. By now we’ve gradually exceeded the legal limit of sheds but no one has noticed or complained –so we’re okay.

11 Small House Alternatives

The house being so small, Terrie came up with the idea of leasing a portable storage unit. We had space with two lots. This was a good way around the city codes. Since we didn’t own the unit, it was not prohibited and required no building permits. All of our payments were applied to ownership conversion. After a few years, no one of authority was concerned about who owned what and it’s never been questioned. Two other small sheds were added. One was the studio, a 10 x 12 foot chicken coop-style metal shed we bought for $500. Again, no permit is required for this size shed. It is the maximum allowed. I then removed the garage door and filled that with a window and a wall and a regular steel door. I also installed two other windows on another wall. The doors and windows Terrie had found as salvage from someones remodeling so we paid very little for them. She has always been good at finding these kind of bargains.

10 The Remodeling

When I bought the house at 100 East Bluff Street in Palouse, Washington, my intent was to tear out many walls and open it up. I wanted it more studio-like. I wanted it to be more like my “parrot” self and chose pastel colors for the palette. The parrot totem is whimsical, brilliant, and colorful. So I wanted to reflect that in the décor. And I had one piece of furniture, my chaise, and it was modern.

From my library studies, I knew I could remove up to 8 feet of non-load-bearing wall without structural danger. You can tell load bearing walls by looking in the crawl space or basement. If there is no wall underneath the one above, you’re usually okay. I also knew, because of the 4-sided pyramid-shaped roof, the roof load was primarily on the outer walls. So I began demolition around June of 1990. This is a railroad house brought in on the railway around 1900. It’s very strong and built of pine lapboard on all walls.
Nathan and Daniel were still young and they came up and helped. I documented everything with before-and-after photographs. The house has always been changing as our needs change. It’s been nice to have that freedom to “take down” and “put up” as required. Of course, being who I am, I never got a license to make these changes and no inspections. The home always has had a homemade crafted look since I am no carpenter. But I’ve always felt competent with electricity and Terrie has taken care of our plumbing and auto needs (repairs and new installation.) I’ve kept the computers running.
Palouse has been a good place to live. Especially this location. We are close to the Grange. And the footbridge is close across the Palouse River. And there is a nature trail close by. There’s a library branch downtown and a store and a gas station. And a couple of mechanic shops. And a high school.

09 Small is Relative

Many people have asked Terrie and I how we could raise so many kids in such a small space. My answer is one of relativity. It tell them how much this little area is worth in downtown Tokyo, Japan. And that there in Japan, we could never own it but only rent it at about $8,000 per month. This puts thing in perspective. We are rich. And having all of us crammed together forced us to learn to be polite. This house by comparison to my Grandfathers generation is a castle. It has running water and central heat and a toilet in the house. We have machines to do our laundry, heat our water, and clean our dishes. We are very fortunate.

So even though I was penniless in 1988 (or so I thought), God made provisions for my protection many years before. I do not feel I ever really owned the land. It belonged to God as the Native American people believe. No man owns the earth. So I wasn’t horribly hung up on it being the “land of my inheritance.” But my family members saw it as a “sell out” I’m sure. I did what was needed and never returned to see it again. The land was only a stepping stone and provided a way to return to health and make a home where I could live the remainder of my days. I bought the Palouse house in the spring of 1990 –after wintering at Granny’s house in Viola. (Grandpa Dick had passed away the summer previous.)

08 Timber Money = car + house

A Utah state employee, supervising Nathan and Daniel’s case who was responsible for collecting the money, told me if I would contest the judgment, it would be reversed. I never did that. I never wanted to see Ruth Ann again. She was boiling with toxicity –an obsessed person to truly be feared.
Meanwhile back in 1989, the price of timber had gone up and I was approached by some fellows to harvest trees off my land. I had forgotten about this asset. Grandma Teare had told me they needed to be harvested when she gave the land to me at around age 17. So I decided that was a good idea. I got two “tree” checks. The first for about $5,000 and the second for about $12,000, That is a guess. I then bought a $2,500 car and then a house in Palouse.
I knew I couldn’t qualify for bank home financing. But this house in Palouse ($25,000 in 1990) I could “cash out” the owners with one $7,000 check. The city would carry me on the government loan balance at $185 per month without anything more than proof of employment. That worked. To me it was a “steal.” The house was two bedrooms. 800 square feet on the main floor (small) and 300 square feet of attic that could be converted into living space. I saw the potential immediately even though the place was dumpy. I immediately could see how the house could be opened up and made nice on the inside. It had been renovated in the 1970 or 80s on a special loan for the elderly at a low 4% interest rate. The city was the holder of these mortgages. They were anxious to get out from under it. So everything went pretty smooth. The renovations included new double pane windows, new steel doors, new furnace, and other energy saving improvements like insulation.

07 A chapter closes

My mom had called Max Huffaker to come out and check on me in spring of 1989 at the cabin. It wasn’t long before Joe Harris and Max came looking for me –but I wasn’t there. They wanted to hire me to work at Decagon. They had just lost one of there key guys. I worked for them until August of 2010 –23 years.

It was then April of 1989. Not too long after that, Ruth Ann sued for divorce. It was official in August of that year. It was the most difficult piece of paper for me to sign. I had a lot of guilt about abandoning my sons, Nathan and Daniel to live with a witch. I had asked my former family to come up and live in Pullman but Ruth Ann was set on staying in Utah. And the money I was making wasn’t much but above minimum wage. I was paid on an hourly basis of $10 per hour. I sold all my electronic stuff to Decagon for $5,000. That allowed me to pay child support for almost 10 months or so. I wasn’t under any court order but I sent $400 per month. The divorce decree was for $400 per month but was increased to $600 per month when Ruth Ann sued again in 1997. I didn’t go to court but just let her win. The fight wasn’t in me. The extra was about $10,000 in billback which I paid in monthly amounts after paying off the child support. I made her wait but she got it all. She tried every trick to get that money accelerated including complaining to my Stake President and Branch Presidents on several occasions. She wanted a church court to settle by forcing me to pay or taking away my membership or temple recommend. She was THE biggest mistake of my life. The Church leaders refused to do any of her bidding although they questioned me several times since they had been contacted by her bishops.