Saturday, December 27, 2008

EVERYone deserves a Bailout!

If you click on the form, it will open for your better reading. I strongly suggest everyone print it out and send a copy with your tax return. Whatthehell, everyone deserves a bailout - see below for Santa's Bailout hearing!!!

And then of course -
Watch Santa plead for a bailout before actual members of Congress!! Santa's Bailout Hearing

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays...

Sometimes it is hard to keep traditions going. People move, people die, families split up, and different income levels can keep folks apart, wishing for home. But these are exactly the reasons I started or revamped my family's Chirstmas traditions.

Growing up in, and later going to, Mom and Dad's house was always fun; it was a huge house that was open and built for large parties. There was always a crowd of Dad's friends there, making merry, playing pinochle and poker, dressed to the nines, drinking and eating and having fun. Everyone was invited and folks would drop in unexpectedly all season long (he was in broadcasting, and many of his friends worked odd hours.) You might go into a room and see a state official with his arm around his wife, tossing back a couple and laughing in a crowd, and into another room and see an elected official playing an intense game of poker. It was a great and exciting environment for a child to grow up in. Midnight Mass was a requirement for any who were left standing by then; we kids would get out of bed at ten, dress in our best, and join Dad and his friends. When I was older and had married and moved away, I missed them. But the year I came back, divorced, weary, with two small children, my parents had their annual big bash - and out of the blue came a phone call. DH's mother (of course he wasn't DH then, just an old friend from church), asking if we could stand a few more folks at the house, they were a mile away at their Aunt Cathy's. We said, Sure! And thus began my relationship again with DH, an old friend who became a great deal more! But when my parents grew older, retired, and sold the house and moved to a tiny apartment, they stopped their celebrations, stopped doing anything, making anything, decorating, even going out to Mass. It didn't help that the Mass was let go, and became a 6:00 on Christmas Eve 'thing' - more commercialized, less full of wonder and amazement.

I continued the 'open house' theory when we moved away. Any and everyone who wanted to come by, could. Even when we had very little money, there was always food on the table, "snackages" set up on fold-out tables, an iced-down vat of eggnog next to a steaming crockpot of mulled cider, slices of oranges and sticks of cinnamon floating in it, with the bottles nearby for those who liked liquor in their drink.

Devilled eggs were a tradition at every holiday meal, and our secret recipe always won raves and looks of surprise when newcomers bit in. The hardest part was keeping DH away from the plate, as devilled eggs are his favorite! Everything homemade, from the cheese balls to the cakes and cookies. Every year I would introduce something new - rarely a sweet, usually a spicy addition. Before I married DH, turkey was on the table for both Thanksgiving and Christmas; afterward, because of his passion for ham, Ham was the main course at Christmas. We tried and liked the honey baked, cinnamon coated, circle-cut hams - but honestly our favorite is a huge bone in shank, skin stil attached, steaming hunk of salty, peppery, fat-girdled, slow roasted, pink and tender, feast of pork!

Christmas lights had to go up the weekend after Thanksgiving, and could never be taken down until the weekend after the New Year. Even when we just had a small tabletop tree, the order was preserved. Now that we have moved to a place where they can appreciate decorative endeavors, our lights went up the Wednesday before Thanksgiving - only because snow and cold were predicted for the weekend of Thanksgiving! But we still didn't plug anything in until Sunday night...

Many years ago my friend Peggie owned the store at the red light. From one August through November, we created by hand a full ceramic village, sitting in the store and painting in our slack times. We displayed it in the big picture window right on the corner. I made an identical village for my own home, piece by piece. Every year we added to it; streetlights, skaters and ponds, firemen, more people, trees. I love putting it up; a snowy scene of a quaint and happy village, a light underneath each house, casting a glow on the 'snow' from the windows. Oddly, the place where we live now looks rather like it - the bar and grill built in next to the post office with the mailbox and flag out front, the glowing windows of the tiny clapboard and stone church lit from within...

Christmas morning is when we open the presents. I am usually up long before anyone else, to get the pies and ham started early. We would sit around the tree and DH or the kids passed out the presents. There were always clothes and practical presents - but at least ONE thing that each child really really wanted. Our favorite memory is the year when our middle son wanted a drum set - 'a real professional one'. One of our friends in Beaufort owned a 'junk shop', and in November a young man sold his professional, band-worthy, complete drum set to our friend. We smuggled it to the house and hid it in the garage. That Christmas morning, our son came tearing out to look for his drum set under the tree, but didn't see it. He was so sad. His last present was a small jewelry box. We could see him fighting back tears of disappointment as he opened it. All that was in it was a note - "Look in the garage". He went tearing out there in his pajamas, and didn't come in for four hours - and when we did finally get him back inside, we had to run cold water over his hands from where they were so cold, wrapped around the drumsticks! He still owns the drumset, BTW.

We used to invite over the cops and firefighters and EMTs on duty, but that tradition won't go over here - there's only one deputy and he lives here in town with his family, and the firefighters are all volunteers and will be home as well as the EMTs. But we'll still have the cakes and cookies, cheeses and meats, laid out for our Christmas Day evening tradition - that of watching "It's a Wonderful Life" , "Miracle on 34th Street" and "A Christmas Carol" intersparsed with the Claymation stories of Rudolph, Frosty, and Santa. Now DH can have all the devilled eggs he wants. And this year we can finally have a real "Yule Log" in the woodstove, instead of just the decorative one on the table or sideboard!

Friday, December 5, 2008

It's that Time Of Year...

This post is a Christmas wish for all of my friends in the Lowcountry blogworld. I know - everyone thinks I am this mean and small minded person who ferrets out stupid people, and gores them with joy and mean-spiritedness. But what makes me so mad is the people who are determined to not only be stupid, but to be cruel and hurtful simply to vent their own helplessness, their own insecurities, against others. My biggest problem is that I believe that all people, everywhere, have the ability to be good, decent, and productive people - some, too many, simply choose not to. They choose the darker path, the path of stupidity and cruelty, when they would be so much happier if they accepted not only others, but themselves, as who they are. That is and has always been my frustration - that people look down at their feet, or over at their neighbors' house, instead of grasping for their own particular star.

So for the people whom I love and left behind, as well as those who are glad I've gone - here's what my life is like now. Joyous and happy and hardworking and full of glorious days and radiant, silent, amazing nights. Life can really be this way. I finally chose it, and hope that someday, you will too... or at least find something within yourselves that truly makes you happy.

Click to play Merry Christmas 2008
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Monday, December 1, 2008


There's really no other word for it.
That's my house. Yup, right there. And we're not finished yet, TYVM. There's still the six-foot-high, three piece yard card being repainted from the previous owners, and the extra extension cord we have to put up (60 mph winds yesterday, a little difficult to raise a ladder) over the bay window. The arbor by the road is lit, and the front porch is blue with twinkling star lights, to complement the snow family in the front window (also blue) and the dining area and kitchen behind it (also blue, with snowy tablecloth, towels, and decorations). The verandah is multicolored to compliment the entrance into the front room, redolent with red and gold decorations and multicolored lights.

Every single stashed away indoor and outdoor decoration is up and out and glittering. Well, except that I have a string of icicle lights and a looong string of white multi-function lights that work, that I may have to find a place for. Hmmmmm. At least THIS house has 6 outdoor receptacles.

I do love Christmas, and this old house is a decorator's dream. Big windows, many many characterizing features. Waiting to see how and if the predicted snow Tuesday and Friday falls, to get better pictures...

"Trim every blessed needle on the blessed Christmas tree
Christmas comes tomorrow
Trim you
Trim me...."
Now you'll be singing THAT all day...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"It's a - Family Tradition"

I've loved to cook and bake my whole life, and have always gone overboard for holidays. Holidays mean lights of all types, from soft candle glows and kerosene lamps to bright and cheerful lighted decorations. So the dim candlelight flickers off of the china that holds the meats; turkey for Thanksgiving, and ham for Christmas, mashed potatoes swimming in butter, a gravy boat (owned by my grandmother) standing staunchly nearby. Always homemade yeasty rolls, and pies, pies, pies! Pecan, cherry, and pumpkin, with real whipped cream and lots of rich flavors. My Chocolate Rum Balls have been the downfall of many a poor party-goer; they just taste sooo good, melty and sweet, that folks get drunk off of them without even realizing it! A dear friend who writes a column still blames the rum balls for her interesting post-holiday column one year, and an EMT who shall remain nameless had to come off of the truck and be replaced as he dozed happily on my couch, unawakened by the tones that called him to duty, after indulging in the tiny morsels. (They were warned, but, you know....) Another treat is my Drunken Sot fruitcake. It is not the normal fruitcake with unrecognizable "candied" fruit; it has bananas, cherries, white raisins, walnuts, pecans, pineapple, and whatever else is in abundance that year. The fruits are soaked in a mixture of dark rum, French Brandy, and real butter until they double in size, then are added to the dark batter, rich with eggs and honey, cinnamon and cloves. After they are baked, I brush them all with the butter-rum-brandy mixture, and pop them in the freezer. I usually bake them the first week of November, and brush them again every weekend, then put them right back in the freezer, until I give them out over Christmas. Even people who HATE fruitcake ask for this every year. I don't know why.

Then there's the decorating. I have boxes and boxes and BOXES of ornaments, and I like everything to look just so - from the trees in every room, to the tabletop decorations, to the lights inside and out. Every year I add something else. The village I made years ago, with the houses and streetlights and people, was updated last year with a carousel, this year with a train and skating pond/river. Mike rigged my pickup with an inverter one year so that I can have Christmas lights around it, too. (Some folks may recall a certain hayride...) I love the lights, the music, the sights and sounds and smells of Christmas, and am always on the lookout year-round for the "perfect" addition to my ever-growing collection.

We always have an open-door policy at Christmas; friends who have 'no place to go' are always welcome at the table - and with enough warning we make a stocking for them, too.

Our favorite thing to do in the evenings leading up to Christmas Eve is to sit in front of the TV and watch all of the 'old' Christmas movies - and we are constantly adding to that group too. But we are very particular; brainless garbage or oversimplified remakes are not included just because they have a Christmas tree or someone dressed in red velvet. I and my best friend love "It's a Wonderful Life", but there are others... Rudolph and Frosty of course, and "Miracle on 34th Street" (the b/w one of course, the Natalie Wood one, and the most recent one are all in the library here) , and the one that no one else has ever heard of, "A Wish for Wings That Work" with Opus the penguin and Bill the Cat. Yes, we even like Bill Murray's "Scrooged". And as many times as I've seen them, I still cry at all of the 'appropriate' places.

Presents don't mean that much to us; gifts are something we prefer to give when we find something someone else would really REALLY like, or just to send an email card or make a phone call. We didn't raise our kids to require presents and false feelings of being forced to acquiesce to advertising hype. Just this past week, we loaded up our daughter's truck with all of our son's old He-Man and Castle Greyskull toys, and she took them to him. He had reserved a spot on his bookshelves just for them, and reports say he was playing with them as of old! Hee hee. What could be a better gift to an all-grown-up child than a chance to relive one's childhood?

The things that matter to us are things that bring us and others joy; from the groaning tables of food, thru the brightly colored and happy lights, the music and movies, and even down to the silly little button, "HO-3" we wear... Joy is in the ears that hear, the eyes that see, the hearts that share. These are our traditions.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

$10 Steak Dinner?

Umm, well, yes - when you live in beef country, you can go to a fundraiser for the American Legion and pay $10 a head for donated, sweetly tender, grassfed Angus beef, over an inch and a half thick, cooked over an open charcoal grill, plus a baked potato and multiple salads and desserts and bread, even a drink.

I admit it, I am in my element here. No high-priced fancy imported beef - these steaks were, just last week, walking the hills around my town. The potato farm started digging last week; hundreds of flaky potatoes in their skins, not hard and tiny culls and nubbins. Real food, grown and raised by real people who take pride in their work, and who happily donate it to raise money for good causes. But dang, BEEF! Real Beef!! I am lovin it! I could cut it with a butter knife!


Sami's boyfriend shot a deer today, the first day of hunting season. He'll be bringing by the meat tomorrow. .. he just wanted the rack, after all. The wild game this year has been so abundant that each deer or turkey license gets two tags apiece. Sami is so proud of her boyfriend - and so proud too of her Honorable Mention in the District Drama competition. She and the Club go on to compete in the State finals - after, of course, they perform their play for the townspeople next week.

It's not just the food, both wild and tame, here that attracts. It is the people; the openness, the willingness to participate and have fun and share. Over 500 people crowded into the Hall tonight to pay $10 a dinner, chat and visit, introduce and re-introduce, and to just have fun. Paul and Enid joined us in the bar a block away afterwards, and we sat and talked family and hunting and politics and Christmas decorations with Pat and Marty and some other neighbors. Nothing rowdy, nothing obnoxious - Paul taught Marty's kids to shoot pool while we chatted and laughed. Janet came out of the kitchen and sat with us too.

The American Legion now has the money to send some more kids from the high school this next spring to a week-long leadership training, that they do every year in Lincoln for over 400 kids. Since we joined the Legion, we can be a part of sending ditty bags to Iraq, and last week I baked 9 dozen cookies for the Veteran's Day program. There were over 200 dozen cookies donated - more than enough to take to Hay Springs for the Christmas Tour of Lights sponsorship, too. Next week the FFA is entering kids in the Parly-Pro competition - what could THAT be? Why, it's where kids learn Paliamentary Procedure and practice it, and are judged on it. Robert's Rules of Order is practically a religion here; everything is pro forma and run by The Book.

And who provides the funding for all of this? Not some vast government bureaucracy, not the parents, not the teachers, not the School District. But the people that belong to the American Legion and Local Farmer's Union, that teach the children not just books but hands-on, practical, life training. They raise the money from donations and membership fees and fun things like steak dinners and pancake breakfasts and picnics. Everyone participates, everyone encourages, everyone works 16 hour days and still takes time to join in the fun and to volunteer to make life better for each other. No running around with their hands constantly out, their mouths constantly open in a whine, begging for this or that while the kids sink ever more increasingly into mindless stupors of drugs, sex, and hapless, helpless, government dependence. There's 'way too much to DO here.

Man that was an AWESOME steak...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Call of the Wild

Did you ever read it?
Silly question - who reads any more? If it isn't a movie or an audiobook, no one knows it.

It was always one of my favorites. Man against the elements, Man against himself, Man against Man - all of the classic elements in a 'dog' story. The movie didn't do the struggles, external and internal, proper justice - but then they never do.

"Buck" crossed my mind yesterday as I watched my beloved Sasha cavorting in the blizzard. Sasha would have been one of those high-bred, soon-to-die kidnapped dogs, forced to pull a sled until she dropped. Buck would have disliked her immensely - spoiled and fussy, even though her breed was bred for mountains and snow and cold, to take down antelope with a snarling leap like a cougar. She might think she could do it now, but... she likes her sleeping bag and her warm spots far too much. Work? Not my blonde beauty - she would be insulted by the very thought of it. Brush her and snuggle her and call her beautiful, and she laughs delightedly. She can bark, and when she does, it is a deep chesty powerful roar - but it is merely noise. Long gone are the painful, poignant memories of being kept in an 8x10 cage, bred for puppies, starved and broken-tailed and covered in mange.

When I got the email from an old and dear friend about how the black woman told my friend's husband that Barack Obama was going to pay her mortgage and give her free vouchers for gas - and she knew it was true because their preachers had been telling them in the churches for three months - I thought of Buck again.

Spoiled people who have never known hunger, true hardship, true poverty. Spoiled people who have never gone a day without food, or a month without meat, or night after long winter night without heat.

I was on a forum today, reading about a woman whose husband is being transferred, and she wanted to know of a place where: She could buy a house no more than five years old, preferably in a planned community; the schools were excellent; the playgrounds immense and planned activities for her three elementary-age children omnipresent; where malls and boutiques and coffee shops were all close by. I thought of Buck again, shivering in his dug-in hole in the snow in the Alaska wilderness, fighting over gristly meat tossed out to a pack of slavering, starving dogs that had been driven and beaten to put forth their efforts.

No, the three great struggles that forge the human (and canine) spirit are no more. Man against the elements? We whine that someone should house us and pay for our fuel to heat our homes and drive our vehicles. We complain about rain and snow and sunshine, darting from our warm or air-conditioned house to our warm or air-conditioned car to our warm or air-conditioned work, never getting out and challenging the elements, growing our own food or heating our own home by the sweat of our brows. Man against Man? No, everyone has to win a prize, or it isn't FAIR. Competition means a level playing field and fair play and smooth sailing, not overcoming the bumps and swamps and pathos of our lives. If someone gets a little less than they have been told that they deserve - whether from fate, or from a lack of direction and purpose, or from sheer laziness and self-indulgence - why, give them what they want anyway. They DESERVE it.

Man against himself? What does that mean? Why would you want to compete against yourself, why should you feel that you should prove yourself at all? So much easier to strut around and bark loudly and proclaim to the world that you own it, without ever having done anything to gain it or earn it. Turn on American Idol, or Survivor, or politics, and watch someone else pretend to overcome something, from the comfort of our living room recliner, and cheer or cry crocodile tears for emotions we cannot feel and never know. Emotions that we have not earned. For how can you know pleasure without pain, love without hate, fulfillment without despair, passion without ennui? Simply, you cannot. You can argue that you do, even think that you do. But it is false, tissue-paper emotion, ripped swiftly by our tears and cheers, meaning nothing, holding nothing, accomplishing nothing.

Yes, Buck knew what was important.

Survival. Mutual work output for mutual goal accomplishment. Deep trust, deep loyalty, honesty, and deathless love. Fulfillment of the body, use of the muscles and brain to accomplish, succeed, survive, and to do it better than you ever thought possible of yourself; and fulfillment of the soul, the passionate and raw emotions, tempered with common sense and matured with an ever-growing understanding.

Look around you. See that anywhere? Or are you like my Sasha, knowing and believing that the food bowl and belly will always be full, that she will always be petted and snuggled and spoiled and made much of, without ever having to lift a paw?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Whoas

Stopit. Knock it off already.

Any one who has any brain function at all already knows for which candidate they are going to vote - or has already voted absentee. I realize that that lets out about 60% of the population, not counting the ones who are slavering over this candidate or that one, believing whatever rhetoric stirs their hearts and gonads this year, but still.

Doesn't stop the phone calls, the emails, the constant barrage on the TV news of course. THEY have to act as though they are the ones who invented sleaze, political mindgames, and lying as an art. Yawn. I'm not even going to watch the news tomorrow - inevitably they'll have that little town in - is it Maine, or New Hampshire? - that votes first in the country, and the rest of those crappy news stories that pompously pontificate, predict, and prevaricate all the way til poor little Hawaii closes its polls. Ho-Hum. They only thing that matters is the results - and with all of the accusations of voter fraud, the mismanagement of polling places, the failure and susceptibility-to-hacking of voting machines, and the lies, vote-buying, intimidation, and briberies of ACORN, even the certified, sanctified, results will be in doubt. How low is your chad hanging?

Leave me alone. Stop calling me. Go jump up my ass, my state already voted last week by absentee ballot - a necessity in rural communities. Go away. GO. AWAY. DON'T leave a message on my answering machine.

I have a life. You need to get one - and to realize that it isn't the Commander in Chief who will make those all important decisions, but the lawyers in the House and Senate. And unless either side does what the Conspiracy Theorists fear and comes knocking on your door to take you to an internment camp or Gitmo, or to take away your guns, what they decide tomorrow won't change tomorrow, won't affect your job or your life tomorrow, or for the next three months or so anyway. Go away. Get over yourselves. You are not as important as you insist that you are.

Sheer hysterical enthusiasm cannot override pure unadulterated cynicism. I already did my duty - go do yours and shut up already. No! STOP! Not on the LAWN! Too late - another rambling voiciferous idiot did his doody, right out in front for all to see. And it is the rest of us, the cynics, who will have to clean it up. Sigh. What else is new?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Liberal" Women Who Lie To Themselves

Liberal women were all drooling and cheering over Hilary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, but when Sarah Palin arrived on the scene, suddenly they focussed on Obama as their hero.

I could make national headlines if I hung Obama in effigy as a "Halloween decoration" - and back east I'd probably go to jail for a hate crime, get hate mail and death threats. But the news media thinks it's funny that a liberal hangs Sarah Palin in effigy.

You can't have it both ways. Either you really do admire a woman who has worked her ass off (in a "man's world") to achieve all that she has achieved, or you don't. Either you are honest or you are allowing yourself to be played by the liberal angst and fanaticism to only like certain women who fit a certain ideal - and all the others are nonentities, scrap on the man-pile, grist for the man-mill. Women who pontificate about how men have kept them down or abused women are amazingly silent on the Palin effigy. They should be outraged. They should be angry. Yet - they are not. What does that tell you about their real agendas, their honesty, their integrity, and their admiration? That they are all lies. Maybe they truly don't know that they are lying to themselves, but they are.

When it is ok, even FUNNY, to hang a white woman in effigy, but not ok to put a noose in a tree or on a locker, depending on who the victim is, that completely decimates their whole politically-correct mantras, and exposes them for what they are - mouth breathing, media-run panderers to liberalism and falsehood.

Don't talk to me about supporting rights for all, and equality, and fairness. You wouldn't know fairness if it dragged you into a courtroom and prosecuted you for your own stupidity and gullibility. You wouldn't know equality and freedom, hiding behind your support for only 'particular' women whom you are told should be admired. And most importantly, you are living and promulgating a lie, a falsehood, a weak-kneed pathetic attempt at fair play that only separates, not unifies, women... and patting yourselves on the backs for it!

Go play with your other weak minded liberal simpletons, and grouse about how women are STILL treated shabbily, isn't it AWFUL, we need to get behind a woman who is independent and forthright and not only believes in what she says but acts on it. Go pee in your own sandbox and try to cover it up. The grownups are talking. Don't bother us.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Exactly Why

A good friend of mine wrote this week once again that he believes, he KNOWS, that we must return to the gold standard both nationally and globally. However, in his post, down near the end, he wrote, "It would scuttle the grand plans of the political con artists who yearn to get rich by running the paper-money printing press overtime." And that to me is exactly why we will not ever return to a gold standard.

People don't even understand the basics of economics. Not their fault; of course, they believe what they are taught and told by people whom they trust, from teachers to professors to politicians. They don't understand that the stock market is a large imaginary, mutually-agreed-upon loss and profit quagmire. Its promotion solely depends on those who will profit the most from it. In good times, this is fine, it's ok, to be a little bullish, faithful, aggressive. In bad times, bearish times, folks are frightened. But of what? Common sense will dictate your investments, if you understand enough to ignore the hoopla and passion and to determine for yourself where the next boom (or bust) will lie. Never play with money that you don't have, don't trust a certificate but cold cash. Simple - yet all too easily run amok by ugly and talentless American Idol wannabes who know that people, especially gullible uneducated people, will follow hype instead of reason. Nevertheless, remember in the back of your mind that until your stock splits or sells and you have cash in hand, the whole stock market is purely imaginary; betting on products or services that have not even been invented yet. The dot com boom and bust, the Enron debacle, the housing boom and bust - all of these were led by people who knew exactly what they were doing and how money works - and who overhyped their products and seduced the gullible (as well as paid off the politicians) to keep their pockets lined at John Q's expense. They counted on the fantasy and excitement, the get-rich-quick eagerness and swallow-it-whole philosophy of the purposefully, determinedly ignorant. (The top three orchestrators of the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac debacle are now Obama's financial advisors. Hand in glove, hand in glove, follow the money!)

Our dollars are built on the same fantasy, the same false sense of security. They have no grounding in gold, no basis in anything valuable and rare. If you print more dollar bills based on nothing at all, then you are being paid with nothing, are spending nothing. It is for this reason that prices of everything go up and the dollar's worth declines. The fantasy is fine and it works - for a little while - as long as people believe in it. But when it stops working - as it inevitably does, as more and more dollars are printed with no basis for their value - then people start scrabbling around for something that they can trade, or hold, that is valuable.

It is for this reason I believe that, by either force or suasion, the governments of the world will gather up all of the gold held in the hands of individuals. As governments take over banking and finance for their countries, they and they alone must hold the basis of that finance to make a profit or even to stay solvent and stable.

Have you ever known anything run by a government bureaucracy to make a profit or even to stay stable financially? Their attitude of - "If we need more money, will just raise taxes!" or "If we need more money, will just print more!" has gotten us where we are today. And it is a fantasy swallowed whole once again by the American people. There's really no hope for those who insist that they know nothing about economics, but insist on letting, even demanding, that their government or their stockbroker buy them into prosperity.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Don't Bug Me - My State's Voted

OK, well, part of us have.
Several years ago, the State Legislature took into account that they were spending a lot of money to open polling places and keep them open 12 hours. In our very rural areas, it was a huge waste of money and time. So what they do now is - the second week of October, they send out paper ballots to every registered voter, with self-addressed stamped envelopes to the county Election Commission. You fill out your ballot at home, pop it into the envelope, and mail it off. No voting machine expense; no machines to break down or to be tampered with. No poll workers and poll managers to pay. You can take an hour or more to read the amendments and questions, if you want. And no one stands behind you at a machine, no one stands waiting on the porch. Fill in the circles, zip, pop, sign, done.

Our county Election Commission folk are the most laid back people you'd ever want to meet. They'll sit and chat with you for an hour or more - about everything, about nothing. Why not? No stress. No problems. Everyone does what they are supposed to do; the folks who get the ballots can read and write, understand the importance of what they do, and send them back promptly, clean and crisp, just like they received them.

Out in the County, no one talks politics. Well, maybe some local politics - like Joe has seven kids and doesn't need to be on this Board any more, he's tired and wants to quit... no ranting, no screaming, no in-yer-face THIS IS WHAT YOU MUST DO. Every once in awhile a TIC or sharp little comment about Obama, but that's all; eyebrows and shoulders shrugging, no fanatical shrieking. It is a given that the Fed Gov will screw us no matter who we put in; nature of the beast, not as important as getting the calves loaded in the trucks this morning.

You know, in SC this could never happen. Too many emotional people and too much angst and mayhem, last minute 'revelations' that, for people who know how to read and who vote on lasting reason instead of burbling passion, are not revelations at all, but simply examples of what they already knew. Unlike the fellow we worked on in the wreck one Election Day, who told us he couldn't go to the hospital, that he had already voted in Point South, Ridgeland, Bluffton, and Switzerland, and still had to vote in Hardeeville and Savannah before the polls closed, or the infamous Jasper County Election Commission member who showed up to the Election Commission office with three hundred signed and voted absentee ballots in his hand; no cheating, no lying, no posturing for this candidate or that. It's over.

So all of those screaming and hissing telemarketers and pollsters can be ignored with the simple phrase, "Already voted". We have more important things to do now. Go away.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Making New BlogFriends (Who Really Dug the Hole?)

I still get emails from all of my fun Conspiracy Theorist friends. We have great times, sending each other links, ranting about this or that. The other day I got an email from a friend, that had a link to a blog in it to a fella named Ron Smith, a talk show host and fellow ranter in Baltimore. Well, his disgust with Congress and the media were evident. He asked, "Who Dug the Hole?" in which we now find ourselves, and demanded that Congress stop pandering to multibillionaire concerns. So, well, I wrote him an email back...

Dear Ron -

It is so easy to blame Congress for the woes of the economic collapse, and
the media for ignoring and ridiculing Ron Paul. But, as Walt Kelly stated in
his long-ago (but still pertinent) cartoon political commentary - "we have
met the enemy, and he is US!"

WE as a nation have repetitively sneered at people like Ron Paul, while
supporting fiscal irresponsibility and social injustice in the forms of
Senators like Obama and McCain, or Presidents like Bush and Carter. WE as a
nation insist that our children learn black or Native American history and
literature as separate entities, while ignoring economic and uniracial
history. WE as a nation demanded cheap Wal Mart products, even after their
melamine killed our pets by the thousands, and their powdered milk - spiked
with the same plastic - is now killing thousands of children. WE as a nation
demanded housing for everyone, whether they had any inclination or
ability to repay the loans for that housing or not. WE as a nation have
decided that robbing Peter to pay Paul is more than expedient, it is morally
right and cosmically just - as long as we are Paul and not Peter. People get
the government that they deserve.

WE as a nation demanded that news be entertainment, not facts. WE as a
nation refuse to read anything but publications that originate in our
country, never taking into account the opinions or experiences of people in
other nations. Worse, if anyone 'across the pond' dared to comment on what
we did, they were suddenly the Anti-Christ - as if WE were alone the
purveyors of truth, justice, knowledge, and religious fervor itself. WE
encouraged the lack of education in our schools, so that newspapers are now
written on a fourth grade reading comprehension level - those newspapers
that have survived the lack of interest and knowledge of the American
people. WE demanded that our children learn that everyone gets a prize,
instead of the fruits of honest work and competition.

WE elected these pandering, mouth-breathing, vacuous morons to office, and
we keep re-electing them as long as they promise to save us from ourselves.
WE not only dug the hole, we urinated and defecated in it to fill it, and
what sprouted was something not rich and strange, but twisted and unhealthy
and rotten from within. So to hear the blame placed at the feet of the
morons whom WE chose to plant into this pit of excrement is to deny that
they are the fruit of our self-enforced lack of reasoning, character, and
willingness to work for ourselves and succeed on our own. WE are a nation of
pasty-faced, whining, ignorant, emotion-driven slugs, with grasping pincers
in our ever-open mouths, looking for the next 'reality' show to give us
meaning to our empty and worthless lives. WE got what we asked for - why is
anyone surprised, shocked, or even angry about it?

Dear Wiley,

This is one of the best rants I've ever read. Not only is there much truth in it, but the passion is so great and the expression so keen, I can only offer my sincere admiration for what you've written.


It's nice sometimes to communicate with people who still, in spite of everything, can read, write, and comprehend.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

All I can say

Yup, I'm working at the high school across the street.

This is a very weird place.

Yesterday half of the school was gone. To a cattle-judging clinic. Today and tomorrow there are a bunch of kids out - they are showing cattle in Rapid City, or helping their parents move their cattle to another pasture. All of these absences are excused. WHAT? Unheard of! Preposterous!

But why?

These high school kids have purpose and direction. They know what they want to do with their lives, and are - happy. Yes, HAPPY. Not for them the teenager angst, rebellion, drugs, suicides - nope. Their pants are cinched tightly at their waists. There's no graffiti, no gangsign.The bathrooms all have doors. Some lockers stand open, and are not gone into or broken. They know how to wear their hats - and to take them off inside. They are doing what they love and daily learning more about it. The classes they take are classes like marketing, Agriculture research, economics... oh, yes, and literature and history and geometry and trig. Everything they learn relates to the world around them. This weekend we have two kids going to the tryouts for the State choir. We have a band that practices every day after school, and really rocks the football games - and two (count em - two) performing choirs. All in a school of 150.

You could say that it is the smaller classes and personal attention that makes a difference. And that might be true to a certain extent. But the teachers here WANT to be here, love the area, know what they are teaching, and work together to interrelate instruction at all levels. Everything they learn relates to what they already are, and where they are going, what they want to be. Some are going to be lawyers and doctors - some of course vets and ranchers. But all are eager to learn, come to school every day, most early so that they can get a head start on their first class.

Class times and even class change times are quiet; the kids are intent on where they are going and what they are doing next. No one stands in the halls or takes off without signing out - and a good reason. Kids that DO start to slack off or go astray immediately are called in to the principal's office along with their parents, and everyone puts their heads together to figure out how to make this child's life better, how to help him to get what he wants and where he needs to be. Teachers volunteer to tutor kids on their 'planning' - off-time - periods. And the whole goal is to educate children; not to one up each other, not to prove their worthiness, not the teachers, the administration, nor the children. Everyone already knows that they are worthy - so they help each other.

"Feel I'm slippin into the Twilight Zone..." this is reality, not fantasy, and no exaggeration. I could tell you more but I am eagerly looking forward every morning to getting up and going to be a working part of this. And you probably wouldn't believe it anyway...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

commacomma down doobie do down down...

Winter's coming.

Sunday night we're supposed to get snow.

Comma comma down doobie do down down... come on down....

It's been getting gradually cooler here, as each successive low front passes through. If it does snow, it means that winter this year will be hard; and as we go, so goes the country.

But not all snow is bad. Snow is precipitation; and snow provides the water to our river and our underground aquifer. We got so much precipitation this past spring - more than in any recent memory - that the river, normally pumped almost dry for irrigation and cattle, is still running fairly high. There were two hay harvests instead of one, so the winter feed is going to be good, which means that the cattle will be fat. (So will the wild critters.) Snow acts as an insulating blanket if the temps drop below freezing. (It doesn't snow when it is below freezing - it just gets that way after the front passes.)

I'll still be walking to work every day; the high school is across the street and down a block. Part of the reason they hired me is that, on snow days, I can go to school early and call within my snow ring, to tell parents not to bring their kids or let them drive on dangerous roads. That sounds harsh, but I'm looking forward to it. The folks here in town will come in anyway, and make sure that the power and generators are on and that the heat is running to keep the pipes from freezing. The cooks will come in. If it gets really bad, and power fails for a while, the school is the shelter for the elderly to stay warm and fed.

Back at the house, I'm all set. The wood box on the house is full of dry tinder, kindling, and logs; I open the door next to the woodstove and there it all is, ready to start the fires. I can cook on or even IN a woodstove; done it. I can build a fire and keep it going for three days in the pouring rain; I've made a fire so hot in a cast iron stove that the stove turns red all the way up to the pipe. And this firebox is small, which means that I can get it really hot, and it won't take much to get it that way and keep it that way.

My new friends (and some of my old friends)are all very worried about how two southerners will weather the winters here. Cracks me up. We didn't live down south our whole lives, and a couple of places I've lived in the winter didn't have electricity run to them. We've spent the whole summer tightening every air and cold leak in this house; securing the barn roofs from the cold and harsh north winds. We know what's coming. We know what to expect.

I'm looking forward to it, actually. While my friends back east will be sweating in their tree stands, I'll be tracking my deer and antelope through the snow. When I make my kill, I won't be dragging it through mud and skeeters, but sliding it on frozen ground and snow. And the turkeys are fat and pretty on the hill already; we saw them yesterday morning.

This week I have to finish raking the leaves and pile them around my plants and dig my amarillis and star lily bulbs; everything else will be buried under leafy mulch. Finishing up the Halloween yard decorations, and looking forward to the Christmas ones! If it freezes this week, the potato farm down south will swing into harvest, and I'll get a 50 lb sack of potatoes (not the little nubs we used to get back east; BIG tubers the size of your two fists held together) and put them in the basement next to the other food storage.

Winter's coming. And this little squirrel is getting her nest ready for it... and the big devastating financial hits that are predicted to go into full swing this winter will roll over us like the snow. Preparation is always a good thing.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Can you be Saved?

"Something's Wrong in the World Today". And the singer may not know what it is. But I'm thinking that I do.

I was perusing the news stories this morning. I prefer the silence of my computer to the yammering and simpering of the folks on the TV, especially in the morning, before my first cup of coffee is finished. People who know me, know not to talk to me before coffee. My BP is so low in the mornings (about 90 over 60) that communication is a baaaad thing. When I traveled, there always had to be a coffee maker in the room; I would not go out in public, not even to a 'free breakfast', without coffee. So every morning I sit with my cup in front of my computer to find out what happened overnight and see what's going on in the world.

A man in Vermont raped and killed his niece, and convinced another girl that her death was because of a 'termination' organization that would kill little girls for not having sex with him or otherwise misbehaving. A 'mother' killed her foster kids and put them in a freezer. Caylee's Mom is 'now' a suspect. The millionaire adventurer's plane was found in California (weren't they searching in Utah? Whoa. Someone needs Mapquest badly). An Omaha woman, a teacher and a mother of a 9 year old girl, was found guilty of taking a 13 year old boy to Mexico to have sex ("He seemed like a man to me" - granted the kids here are more mature than their citified peers, but WHUT?).

WTF is going on? Well, it seems pretty simple to me. People simply don't feel the need to practice self-control any more. We have become a 'me first' society, where our own immediate desires aren't even thought about, simply acted upon. SOMEone will bail us out, SOMEone will save us. Even the politicians are promising things to 'save' us, from each other, from terrorists, from bad investments, from our children, our parents, our neighbors. There's no need to take responsibility for ourselves any more - there are legions of volunteer, non-profit, and state and federal organizations to save everyone. So no one protects their children from rapists or molesters - someone else will save them. No one takes responsibility for the jobs they undertake, so even foster children, put into the system to 'save' them, are molested or die. Kids are like Doritos, any more - "Go ahead and crunch them - we'll make more". Teachers entrusted with the health and welfare of their students in their care decide that they can be used to satisfy some sick controlling need for sex. The very people whom busy parents trust to 'save' their children in foster care or in the school are the ones corrupting and killing them.

No. One. Can. Save. You. You come into this world alone, and you will go out the same way. No matter how many friends you have, none of them will save you - they are all too busy trying to save themselves. Terrorists? There is no salvation from a crazy person. Child molesters and killers? No one can save your children from them - all you can do is BE THERE to protect them from their uncles or their teachers or the weirdo up the street. But you have to take responsibility, you have to take charge of your own life and your children's lives.

Our daughter is the kindest person, the most giving person, I have ever met. She'll help someone in a heartbeat. Even though she took karate for six years, and will not hesitate to use it to defend herself, she is still soft-hearted and loving. Looking back at some of her boyfriends over the years, I am well aware that sometimes the only thing that kept her from being an abused girlfriend was her ice-cold father's comment to every one of them - "This is my baby. You hurt her, I kill you." He meant it. They believed it. They should have. Now, her dad is a kind and gentle man, normally - but he took and still takes responsibility for his daughter, and makes no bones about it.

No, that song is wrong. There's not "something wrong with our eyes" - there's something wrong with our minds and hearts, that we permit child molesters, abusers, all of the selfish and self-seeking predators among us, to live and perpetrate themselves on others, over and over again. There is something wrong with masses of people expecting "other people" to take their responsibilities off of their backs, out of their hands, and to save them. The choice to abuse drugs, to let drink or drugs control us, to misspend money or time, or to harm ourselves or others is still a choice, and not only indefensible but inexcusable, and should be met with swift and direct consequences. There is something wrong with expecting any politician, government, bureaucracy, or teacher to do what we refuse to do for ourselves or our children. And that's what's wrong, what's missing - our accepting our responsibilities to protect and defend ourselves and our children. There can be no excuse for rescinding our responsibilities to others for our own safety, our own welfare, our own lives, our own children, our own stupid mistakes or selfish actions. We are "livin on the edge" - but it is an edge of our own making, of our own whining refusal to accept the responsibility of our lives and the choices we make, to fob off our lives on someone else, anyone else.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Women on Women

I feel sorry for Sarah Palin. I can commiserate with her.
Women in the public eye get accused of so many things, and the minute it leaves someone's mouth, it's true.

Ted Kennedy could have a cute young thing at his side, and even drown her, and men everywhere applauded that nasty, womanizing creature as being virile, hard-drinking, hard-living, and popular with the ladies. But let a WOMAN be a 'cougar', go after younger men, and have numerous affairs, and she's a slut. And even if she doesn't, she'll be accused of it... by other women. No applause. No "you GO grrrl!" Nope. Lies become fact with just a whisper and a raised eyebrow.

The "strong woman" factor is exactly what the political pundits aren't counting on. Women in public life of any sort, who have been accused of having numerous affairs, or of being gay, or both, will rally to her more and more as the snide and vicious comments pile up. You see, we know what it's like to live a life above reproach, and to go after what we want with an eye on our goal, and yes to occasionally use our femininity to get what we want. Not crossing the line - ever. But a smile or a hug at the appropriate time could get us closer to our goal, so we'd use it, you betcherass. And get accused of much more. Friendships, even lifelong friendships, are suspect. Mutual goals? No such thing - they must be getting it on under the sheets. A "REAL" man putting up with a strong woman, living with her, loving her? Couldn't happen. It's all about the sex. Couldn't be anything else.

I will never - no never - forget the day I was kissing my hubby goodbye in public. A woman (a well-known town gossip) I had known for 20 years drove by with another woman who called herself my 'friend'. The first woman shrieked at me, "stop kissing that man in public!" Hubby had to show her his driver's license to prove to her he was my husband. My 'friend' had obviously never told this gossip that I was married. The gossip's complete shock at seeing my hubby's license told me everything I needed to know - both about her and about my self-proclaimed 'friend'. For 20 years the gossip had assumed I was a single mom - and my 'friend' had never told her any different. So I smiled sweetly at both of them and said, "Guess that ruins a lot of the gossip around here, doesn't it?"


If I had done half of what I had been accused of over the years, I would either have been disease-ridden or the richest woman in town. Why is it so hard for other women to believe that a forceful, aggressive woman can actually be a loving wife and mother? I had cared for some other peoples' children so that even today they still call me "Mom". I took care of the sick and hurt, and succored the poor, and still loved to cook and bake and 'be a mom'. To have Dems question Sarah Palin's ability to run a country and a household, or her fidelity, or her style and substance, smacks severely of the gossip in her incredulity of "You're MARRIED?" and the reduction of intelligent, multi-faceted individuals to two-dimensional, small-minded, and mean, cruel, self-seeking people. And yet the Democrats insist that they are the party for women, the Party that supports women's equality, women's abilities, women's rights.

Well, not this woman. Hurray for Palin - and the more the Democrats act like snide and sneaky gossips, tooling around in their cars and making snide and superficial judgements on surface determinations, the more they expose themselves for exactly who and what they are. And women who have suffered for years, even decades, under gossips and their non-supportive, backstabbing 'friends' might just have the last laugh on all of them. Whatever else Sarah Palin is, she - thanks to the snide comments - is coming out far cleaner, far more competent, and far more adjusted to reality than her detractors.

And that is probably what pisses them off the most. By simply and openly being who and what she is, their own insecurities, their own small-mindednesses, are showing them for what they truly are. And every woman who has ever been or had to be strong, forceful, and determined is, openly or secretly, rooting for her.

SCHMACK 'em once for me, Sarah! And for all of us...

And if they can't disrespect you on a personal level, gee, I guess they'll have to do it on a professional one... which these sneaks and gossips will never learn to do.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Homecoming Friday Updated, wth pics!

Today is Homecoming for the local High School. Actually, it's been an all-week event, and the culmination is today. At 11 AM there is a town parade, led of course by a very hyper-rhythmic school band.
Then there is a town picnic sponsored by the Booster Club; a real social event, $3 for grilled ribs and brats, and potato salad and a drink. Then the game, at 1 PM, and later this evening, the Homecoming Dance that the whole town attends.
Referee Ballet? Who knew?

The winning touchdown, with 40 sec left - final score, 32-30, Cowboys over Longhorns. Go Cowboys!! Go Black!

Yup, I live in a Football Town. Actually I live in a Football State, now - as well as a community that believes in group get-togethers. Pinochle, poker, and bridge nights are Wednesdays at the local Bar and Grill - good food and lots of fun, and they don't play for matches. A good sense of humor. Did I tell you the one about the nervous female pilot who was told to talk to her instructor to relieve her anxety? She asked him why deer pooped pellets, cows pooped disks, and horses pooped chunks, when they all ate the same thing. He said he didn't know, and she replied, "Hell, I can't talk to you - you don't know $hit!" They talk about using caps and dynamite to blow up buildings and blow out land for cellars here as a matter of course. Totally different world - no paranoia about potential terrorists, a lot of good fun, and some seriously crazy folk here. The kids all carry guns - they compete in shooting matches. No one brags about hunting, but everyone does it. (This year with every buck tag a free doe tag is issued, get em while they're fat.) Fun people.

We've been listening to the band practice all week, and the pep rallies yesterday were 'way cool. The horses in our pasture line up near the fence to watch and listen, heads up, ears cocked forward, as the band marches by. Seems like everyone wants to be a part of the excitement!

Yup, this weekend looks to be pretty awesome again. Not for us the fighting to get in the door at some overtouted overblown concert - the casino 40 miles from here puts on concerts regularly, with names like The Oakridge Boys or Clint Black, but they are never crowded. No trying the latest sushi place or Mexican or Chinese place - homegrown beef and pork is good enough.
Saturday night for our anniversary we'll just go down to the Hub and have steak dinners and drinks with friends. Then back to the farm, the peace and quiet, listening to the crickets chirp and the coyotes howl.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Who Pays?

The other day I got an email from my 'almost DOL' - the lovely girl who lives with my middle son. She really is lovely, and the best part is that she has no idea; she works hard and is so good for my son. The only problem is that she is supporting Obama. She sent me the computer-generated link to Obama's video and his economic plan.

Well, out of respect for her I watched the video. Then I went further - and examined Obama's plan. Good. Lord.

Now let me make this point - neither Obama nor McCain have studied economics. They are both in-line Party men, and think that the cure for too much government is - more government. The litmus test for ANY government proposal is - who is going to pay for it? Because the FedGov may print more money than we have gold, but that doesn't mean that we have limitless money available - what that means is that every extra hundred, thousand, or billion they print devalues every dollar all around the world.

But Obama's plan calls for increased government involvement in business - as in they are going to require that all of the American gas companies 'give' $1,000 to every family "out of their profits". Uh-hunh. Yet there is NO call in the 'drill and skim' plan for - more refineries. Anyone who knows anything at ALL about the oil in America knows that no matter how much we pump and drill, Congress has limited the number of oil refineries that can be built. This means that either the oil sits in pipelines, in tanks, or on ships, waiting to be refined, with a huge backlog - or it has to be shipped overseas (where there are no refinery restrictions) to be processed, and then either traded for refined oil or shipped back. Either way, the costs are huge. Until Congress relieves this governmentally-instituted backlog, gas prices will climb - and neither candidate will admit it. So who will pay for that $1000 check? You and I will - at the gas pumps.

Obama says that he will create thousands of new jobs in the 'alternative energy' field. Let me tell you how he and Congress are already doing this. They have instituted a 'green credit' plan (this is not unlike the ones in other countries). Sound good? Let me tell you how it REALLY works. I and my neighbors practice organic and responsible growing and grazing practices; many practice no-till planting or rotational grazing. This makes sense; it does not damage the soil or deplete the grasses and cause soil erosion. However, a 'green credit' brokerage company can come out to my acreage and certify me. They pay me $500 to $5000 a year to 'stay green'. Companies that need 'green credits' pay money to the brokerage company per credit. They get credits for every acre that is under someone else's organic production. Now who do you think is paying for this falsification of 'green credit'? The consumers who buy the company's products! More - all of the new technologies like wind and solar power are being subsidized to the already-established power companies to develop - and we're talking not hundreds of thousands of dollars, but millions! Millions to buy the 'wind rights' over a farmer's property, millions for the production/erection/hookup of the turbines or collectors to the grid. Who is REALLY paying for all of this invention and creation? The American taxpayer.

Oh, there's more, a lot more - and every single 'tax break' or 'rebate' or increase in bureaucratic oversight that Obama's plan indicates will cost taxpayers more money, either on their taxes paying for bailouts and increased bureaucracies, or at their continuously ringing cash registers. More roads, railroads, and airports? Who's going to pay for that, when it costs $1 million to build a single mile of roadway, and $10 million startup (not continuing) fundage for an airport the size of Hilton Head's?

Again, that's not to say that McCain has any other feasible plan, such as reversing the $70 billion dollar trade deficit with China by eliminating the shipping of all of our manufacturing jobs overseas, cutting out all of the trade agreements that deplete our internal cash flow and send our money overseas to buy more and more 'planned obsolescent' goods. But still - neither one is telling America the truth, that they need to hear - because the one candidate who actually DID tell the truth about the economy, and continues to do so, was dissed into oblivion by the hopeful masses and mouth-breathing media alike. And the truth is simply this - that as long as Congress continues to handicap business, blame it for all of the evils in the world, and take its money away to hand to the eager grasping public who think that they 'deserve' it, and then paying taxpayer dollars to bail them out over and over again, we will continue to fall into this sinkhole of fiscal disaster.

I'm through with being Cassandra, telling people truths that they don't want to hear, while they scurry to this side or that, looking for someone to hold their collective hands and tell them that life is fair, that government is the cure-all, and that their friends in government will protect them. They want to be told that Congress is in it's heaven, and all is right with the world - go watch Survivor or American Idol and believe, believe. Good children. Stupid children. I've had enough of soft, assauging, spiritually uplifting, comforting lies - when will YOU? And the answer is, of course, never. Yawn. Go play. Go believe. Go emote.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Getting Stronger by Inches

Today has started to be a busy day... The wild turkey flock was in the back garden until the stray came around to chase them; then they flew up in the trees next to my BR window.

Yesterday I finally finished painting the house's red trim in front, so I started the sprinklers this AM (been pretty dry all week).
Then it was time to feed the horses. Snip (L behind Willie) has a raw spot on his cheek from where his halter was too tight; we treated that. Willie (L) is putting
on weight at last, while Lake (R) is pouting as usual, because she is not the sole recipient of our attention.
By this time it was 8 AM, so we started working on the stovepipe for the woodstove. It wasn't sealed on the roof correctly, and so we have to reseal it - but that's not the worst part. Down below it leaks right onto the stove, and it has rusted out the bottom pipe that goes into the stove. So we had to change it out. That was a real drag. We found a bird's nest in the flue!
I've toted the paint up to my bedroom and will be going out there to paint my window frame after I make lunch.
You know, it takes a lot of effort every day, 6 AM til 11 PM, getting things in order. We are constantly busy - after all, this house wasn't lived in for almost two years, and a lot of things were let go for a lot longer than that. When I first started, I felt so enervated, so exhausted all of the time. My knees hurt, back hurt, head hurt. Some days you could hear my knees like old rusty hinges, creaking and groaning.
But steady exercise and a reintroduction of healthy, not fast, food, has made my body start to repair itself. I don't make my own bread or cook my meals from scratch because I like to (although I do) or because I have to (even tho there is no "fast food" for 40 miles) I do it because we wanted, needed a simpler and better lifestyle. Slowly the pure water is washing out the residual poisons from our systems. We can feel it! The vegies and the real, fresh, local meat are strengthening us.
No I don't think I'll ever be as young and strong as I used to be. But slowly, the days dawn and I look forward to getting up and going and doing and fixing, creating and growing things. I can't wait to get out of bed in the morning. My life isn't getting any easier - but it sure is getting better.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gold and Silver, Silver and Gold

I've got friends who started buying gold and silver 10 years ago. They are as adamant as JP Morgan, who said, "Gold is money. Nothing else."

I watched the "gold rush" in the 80's, when my friends were in a panic, 'getting in' on the gold rush then, buying Krugerrands left and right, bragging about their rapidly increasing wealth, rubbing it into the faces of those who weren't 'smart enough' to get in on the Gold Rush. Three years later I lost a friend when the price of gold had dropped into the basement, and I teasingly asked, "So, Ken, how's yer Krugerrands?" Ouch. It was wrong, even mean, but it still was fun.

I have friends who are buying silver bars, small ones, two a week, standing order, comes right out of their paychecks. They have stashes of them everywhere. They buy the small ones because, they say, they want to be able to buy groceries and have the grocer able to make change - or, if he can't, at least they won't lose much. Friends who are buying jewels, stashing them away, in ornate settings of gold. They believe the combination will help save them, too. I won't even respect the people who are buying worthless scraps of paper; "gold certificates". Sure, they are increasing in value right along with the gold - for now. But what were greenbacks, the old 'In God We Trust" dollars, but once-upon-a-time gold certificates? Who is going to make the ultimate decision as to whether or not they are valuable or worthless? Not the folks buying them.

Maybe it's the Irish in me. I just don't get it. Know what I believe in? Food. The ability to raise one's own from seed, from chicks, from heifers and sows and nannies. Say you've got a gold or silver bar. Say I've got a chicken yard. You're hungry. I'm not. Can you eat that gold bar or Krugerrand or necklace? Nope. Can you trade me? Yup - but I set the price. Law of supply and demand. If I don't want to trade, I'll still eat. And because I know how to preserve food, I can eat in the dead of winter right thru til the next harvest, the next birthing, the next hatching. If you sit on your gold and silver, what will happen to it? Will it hatch out tiny gold bars? If you keep it in a nice barn or pasture, will it give birth to cute little baby toe-rings?

I will of course have bills to pay, so I will be able to trade the necessities of life for the necessities of life. But gold? Silver? that's for people who can't produce. Of course, that's just my Irish coming thru.

What if gold and silver become illegal to have and hold again? Do you think the same could happen to gardeners or animal husbanders? Yes, I realize many local governments have made it illegal to have a garden or a chicken, much less a cow or pig, in their jurisdictions. But as long as one is deep in the country, and gets grandfathered in, getting one's productivity banned is far less likely than having one's gold or silver confiscated.

More - not too many folks will steal something that they have to work to make produce - but they will steal gold and silver. What will happen to my friend with the storage unit full of silver bars, or the one with the safe full of jewelry? What will happen when they take out these things and try to use them?

No, if they really believe that things will get that bad, then they have to know that whenever you have more than everyone else, then everyone else will want to take it away from you. Flashing gold or silver around a supermarket full of struggling folks - maybe not a good idea.

See, that's the thing we have forgotten most in our service-economy mindset - when people need things, they don't look to the drones, the salespeople, the middleman, or the guy with the most gold - they look to the producers. Maybe that's why corporations are buying up ranches and farms out West. You might want to think about that. Which folks are going to be the producers, and which the drones who need?
"Silver and gold
silver and gold
Mean so much more when I see
Silver and gold decorations
on every Christmas tree." (with apologies to Burl Ives for my lousy voice)

Pretty, and bottom line pretty useless, if you ask me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A guest blog

Rebekah Sutherland is a very close friend of mine. With a Ph.D in Education and a Master's in Science, she is well-educated. Our discussions in person and in emails about politics, economics and the poisoning of our water with tritium are always spirited, and she always has documented evidence in her hands to back up her contentions. She is passionate about what happens in the world around her - passionate, literate, and outspoken, which frightens some folks. She sent me this today. Thought you might like to read it.

Rhetoric vs Reality - Financial meltdown ignored
This morning news arrived that AIG is bailed out by the Federal government. Yesterday Leheman Brothers declared bankruptcy because it was refused assistance by the government.
Leheman was a company involved in risk via stock investments.
AIG is a company involved in risk via insurance policies.

Hmm. All companies are equal, but some are more equal than others.
Americans have become desensitized by watching several years of reality TV. They have lost their perspective about reality. They are mentally numb and it is not an accident.

If the recent financial failures had occurred in the 1940s, this nation would have been pouring into the banks demanding withdrawal of all bank accounts. They would have seized control of their local city councils and county councils. They would demand representation by Congress. There would be real political heat burning the toes of those in control.

Today, the people yawn at the recent news. After all, they think, the government always recovers. Right? In the end, everything will turnout okay. That is what happens on reality TV. It does not affect American lives. It is a mirage. It is pretend. One does not shoot the television when the bad guy comes on the scene. Right?

Very shortly, the focus of all that is happening in the financial sector will turn toward those with credit card debt. Student loans, credit card balances, etc. will be called into question and payment will be demanded.

What will happen? Americans will find themselves face-to-face with a financial controller that demands payment. No longer will rhetoric be ignored . . . reality will focus on the balance sheets of individuals.

Americans will cry . . . and the Federal government will be in very tight control over the banks and lending institutions by that time. The plan also includes smashing silver and gold as a means of exchange. We will be paperless . . . and nothing else will be allowed. It will be made illegal.
Make your prediction. What will be in your wallet on that day?

In reality, there are only two parties. No third parties really exist. One party offers Communism. It is in the party Platform. Read it. The other party offers Fascism. Observe the voting behavior and you will see the pattern. America will vote for one or the other. There is no moral option, because those votes will not count . . . the computer will do the dirty work; heretofore, that nasty chore was done by the vote counters.

Time to change the American perception. This is not a drill. It is real. [End]

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mr Potter Wasn't All Bad

I had a standing loan with WaMu for about 10 years. They put our daughter thru college, and helped us pay for things when DH got injured. WaMu was probably the best group I had ever worked with as far as responsive and helpful loan companies.

It all started with a chair for DH's birthday. Most furniture companies don't finance purchases, they farm them out, and we were farmed out to WaMu. We got the loan without a problem, but th furniture company refused to come up with the chair. We went round and round with them for 6 weeks. I finally went down to the WaMu office and spoke to Carol, the loan officer. Within 48 hours, all of our money was repaid and we went elsewhere to buy the chair, with WaMu's hearty agreement. The furniture company went bankrupt, but we hung with WaMu, expanding a $600 loan over time to $4000. We made payments and they made loans; it was simple and direct, the people were friendly and understood money. When we finally paid them out last year, 2 years after our daughter's graduation, it was like we were losing old friends.

We've been customers of BOA for over 27 years, if you count the buyouts of the banks we belonged to - C&S, etc, that gradually became a part of the BOA chain. (New tellers were always stunned to see all of the leading zeros at the start of our account numbers - "Wow, this is a really old account!") They finally acquiesced to refinancing our home 5 years ago, during the big rush, which lowered our payments and put some money in the account for us. BOA even took up our car loans, and were persnickety about on-time payments - not friends, like WaMu, but professionals who sent reminder letters out 10 days ahead of time. Dealing with them was not as friendly as WaMu, but they were far more knowledgeable about money matters, and when DH was hurt, found ways to keep our accounts current. We were quite happy to pay them off and own our cars. They didn't aggravate us or anything - it was just a joy to own our things. Unlike some banks and loan institutions, BOA doesn't charge for an early payoff.

We got used to the professionalism at BOA and were sorry to have to change for our operations out West, but the closest BOA is 600 miles from us. We still keep three accounts open with them, one a small-limit credit card. While the bank here is as friendly and fun as the WaMu folk, they lack the financial grasp of products and their uses as had the folks at BOA. Now I watch BOA use their market savvy once again, to buy out Merrill. (I sneer quietly - Merrill and I had a falling out 20 years ago, and I have watched their young-pup money-grubbing antics, and their wild-eyed enthusiasm for questionable market deals, all this time, waiting for the axe to fall.)

BOA reminds me of Mr Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life" - good market savvy, and following the aphorism, "Don't buy until blood is running in the streets". You may not have liked Mr Potter, or indeed BOA, but their financial savvy cannot be denied; they'd rather deal in money than in confiscated property, etc. And being a customer of theirs for so many years, being able to compare them with other banks and loan institutions, one can see how and why things are happening the way that they are. Unfortunately for those of a Kenyesian mindset, those who base their market dealings on steadily increasing returns rather than friendship - in spite of all of the happy happy joy joy friendly helpful fantasies of the George Baileys of this world - are the ones who survive, even prosper, in fiscal crises.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Smoker and an Oyster Evening

Well, it's true - my friends all know I won't touch an oyster, for reasons I've stated. Except that, last March on a dare from my dear daughter, I ordered a plate of Rocky Mountain Oysters. Know what? They're GOOD - like breaded and deepfried steak fries. Yummers. They are a delicacy here, and are served at every bar-b-q. If you get the chance, I highly recommend that you try them... they're worth the sideways looks and chuckles.

So tonight was the fire department "smoker" - a bar-b-q, poker and blackjack and craps night, too. Oh, you mean they gamble here, too? You betcha. No sanctimonious blue laws or politicians here. Beer poured from four taps, everyone was drinking and gambling and having a great time, talking and socializing. Since tomorrow is "Friend Day" at the Methodist church, three different ladies at three different times came up and asked us to go with them, too.

Church ladies? Drinking?? Gambling?? OMG! Yup, Catholics, Methodists, Episcopalians all under one roof, helping the Fire Department raise money. No one with their nose stuck up in the air, or whispering behind their hands. Everyone cheering the Nebraska Huskers on to their win.

Since the bar and grill is next door to the fire department, and my friend owns it, I went over there and hung out for an hour, too; watching the game and talking about yesterday's high school football game. Football, liquor, socializing, and non-judgemental folk out having a good time and enjoying each other's company. They even raffled off a poker table!
the poker table

Gee, why'd I move? Let me think a minute... musta been the Rocky Mountain Oysters, or simply, 'the nuts'. Yeah, right, that's it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Liberal or Conservative?

A good friend of mine is mostly liberal, and can't understand why I am a "conservative". I take in strays, I grow my own food, I hate Corporate Welfare as much as social Welfare, I am opposed to a war that kills our young men and women while the rest of us simply go to the mall and pretend that the war doesn't touch us at all. My friend knows that I know that the recruitment of Palin to the McCain campaign was a political tactic worthy of Lee Atwater, nothing more, and that I agree that Palin is a "stalking horse" - the horse used by hunters to preceed them into a herd of deer, hiding behind the horse til they get close enough to slaughter. I don't trust or like McCain. But then again, I don't trust or like Obama. I really despise Biden - so far left of center that he does not even register in peripheral political vision.

The point is, I guess, is my political philosophy is laissez-faire - leave things alone. Government intervention in anything is pretty much a guarantee that something will get screwed up. Too many politicians don't read what is put before them - they depend on their friends or their lobbyists to translate for them and tell them how to vote. They have little to no grasp of what life in the real world is like. They run their lives on getting the vote - not on getting the facts. That goes for all parties and all adherents to parties.

I was a Libertarian for 12 years, and rose rapidly in that party's ranks - but still, their failings are that they know what they want, they simply do not know how to get it, and whine and stomp their feet because they can't. They are as ignorant in the difference in what 'should' be and what 'is' as is a five year old. They will never accomplish anything political, simply because they would rather scream - "That's not how it is supposed to be!" than to figure out ways to change things to what they are supposed to be. They will even ridicule folks who show them how to change things and make a difference - because then they fall back on - "that's too hard; we are educational and Constitutional, not political". A political party that refuses to use the political process to make things happen is useless, a mere soapbox for the frustrated. They would rather say, "I TOLD you so!" and be right, than to make things right.

Back to liberal vs conservative - I simply want the right to make my own choices. If I take in another stray, I want the right to do so - or to choose not to. If I grow my own food organically, I want it to be my choice how it is done, not someone else's. If I make a choice, then I want the right to rise or fall on the merits of that choice - be it a lifestyle choice, a financial choice, or a future-determinate choice, without government involvement or supervision. I don't like bailing out with my hard-earned cash the Savings and Loans, Corporations, Welfare mommies, the idiots who got caught buying more homes than they could afford, or the idiots who are now running up billions of dollars in credit, from the White House to the house down the street, or other countries that have gold in their ambassadors' pockets and a lack of food in their natives' homes. I have the right to rise or fall on my own merits - and so do they. People - all people - should pay their own way. The world owes no one anything for simply existing.

So I am a 'conservative' because I don't feel that government is the answer to all of the country's, or the world's, problems. Unfortunately, most 'compassionate conservatives' and those who use all the other cowardly, half-way appellations and excuses for voting to give more of my money away, don't have the courage to say these things, especially when they are in office or running for higher office. I have found that most people really do want a nanny government, a birth-to-death babysitter that doesn't allow them to fail - or, ultimately, succeed; that treats them as helpless and stupid children, and makes excuses for them when they fall out of their cribs. But that doesn't mean that I do. Their pathetic whiny helplessness is not mine. So as much as I despise McCain - and yes, the manipulation of Palin into the mix - I despise the Obama/Biden camp still more. Both the same bodies, hearts, and souls of the two-headed chimera of nanny government that will swallow us, pocketbooks, flesh, bones, regulations, and all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gimme it! It's MINE! (update)

You know, in real life I am a pretty calm and reasonable person, usually happy and cheerful.

The first time FedEx messed up my delivery at 'the new place', I was understanding. All I did was send a nice email to the office, saying that I understood that there were two families with our last name in our new, tiny town, and that maybe the delivery person should read the ADDRESS instead of the name and assume...

But today I got pissed. I've been waiting for something for three weeks, and it finally got shipped out Friday. Whoo hoo!!! FedEx has a cool tracking system so you can see where your package gets scanned in, then out, every step of the way. So I watched it off and on all weekend. This morning it said that it was "on the truck for delivery". So I opened the front door, and busied myself slicing and dehydrating tomatoes, cleaning the bathroom and kitchen, mopping the floors, all within hailing distance from the door. Finally about 3 PM I thought, better check the status, it isn't here.

There on the tracking log it read - "package delivered, put at side door, no signature required".
WTF? Did s/he walk up while I was walking the dogs (even tho I kept the front of the house and the road in view)? I went to the side door - actually the BACK door, but since it is close to the side driveway, maybe... Nope, no package. I went to the verandah on the other side of the house... nope, no package. I went to the front door. Nothing. So I called them and told them. Of course they didn't have a clue where I was, so they are going to send out a note to the FedEx contractor for this area.

Meanwhile, there are supposed to be thunderstorms tomorrow morning, and my package is either at someone's door and they didn't see it/don't use that door, or at a vacant house somewhere (there are a couple here), or - who knows where, with the possibility of getting soaked. The nice thing about this place is that if someone DID come home and see a package that wasn't theirs, they would drop by and deliver it, or at least call. No calls, no visitors.

I guess what really pisses me off is that when we bought this place, one of the first things we did was to get some LARGE house numbers, paint them bright red and white (goes with the house) and put them right on the front proch. You can see them from the road. The houses are numbered sequentially all through the town - and the town only has 10 streets. So it is really really hard to miss an address. Part of what pisses me off, too, is that UPS can find my house, no problem, every time. It isn't like I only order stuff to be delivered once in a blue moon - I am a regular customer of a couple of places. Still another part that chews at me is that I had things to do today, like go pick up a prescription, that I forewent to be home for a nonexistent delivery.

So tomorrow morning some delivery person is going to get a nasty note about their incompetence, and we'll see what happens then. If wherever they left the package has residents who work all day, and who simply took the box inside without looking at it, how will the FedEx person get it back if they are at work again tomorrow?

Meanwhile, somewhere out there, is a very big box with some stuff in it, out in the dark, alone and cold and with rain threatening... and my name on it. And the FedEx courier is sitting somewhere warm and dry, actually thinking that s/he earned his/her paycheck today.

UPdate: well, got a call this AM from the local FedEx guy, trying to locate the package. I told him that I stayed home yesterday and I HAD to go 40 miles to the pharmacy today to get a prescription. Sure enough, he called back in an hour and offered to leave the 'found' pkg at the pharmacy for me. (They are really nice folks there.) This tells me that the pkg never left that town (the county seat) at all - because no one would make an 80 mile round trip to find a package, when they could just take it over to the right house in the same town.

I know what it was, of course. People in my little town are not expected to have enough Internet access or savvy to check up on things like that. Someone got lazy, didn't want to make that long drive for one package, got caught and had to cover their ass really fast.

Don't ever lie to me. Ever. It pisses me off, and some way, some how, thru me or thru karma, it will come back to haunt. If the guy had simply waited and delivered it today, that would have been fine. If he had called and asked if he could meet me in town initially, that would have been fine too. But to put on the log that the package had been delivered when it wasn't - THAT was a blatant lie, and a result of sheer laziness. I really hate that. When you are hired to do a job, you do the job, no matter what a pain in the butt it happens to be.

Monday, September 8, 2008

September 8 on the Farm

Yes, it is coming on to autumn quickly here...

Not much else to say, is there?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Brief Relapse

Well, here it is - A journalist, taping a protest, shot at with rubber bullets and flash grenades by the police - not in Iraq, not in China, but in St Paul, MN at the Republican Convention.
Mass arrest of journalists at RNC

Of course the Democrats are going to scream that it is all a Republican plot, that it is all a show of their evil power. They don't know that 260 delegates inside the convention - good, stout Republican delegates - were detained as well, stripped of all brochures and signs and paraphernalia that supported a candidate other than McCain. Five will get you ten that the same thing happened at the Democratic Convention - a show of unity, a show of togetherness, a show of solidarity, demanded, emphasized, and enforced.

In other blogs this morning, folks are lamenting the downfall of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, saying it has been happening since 2007; lamenting the collapse of the retirement investment funds. 2007? 2007? Where have people been the last 20 years? The artificial, on-paper recovery has been a farce since the 1980's, when dot-coms and Savings and Loans were allowed to fleece the market by government sanction. The artificial growth period was enhanced by the "Out of money? Why we'll just print more!" attitude of the Federal Reserve. When your money is based on a Ponzi scheme of fiat money, it will lose value, and so will everything you buy with it - no matter how many investments you make or how you make them.

And do you know why I don't bother to write political commentary any more? Because there's no point. Folks are more interested in who Paris is sleeping with or who Britney is screaming at now. People will believe what ever they choose; telling them different only makes them want to scream insults, accusations, or vituperations. They don't read, they argue. Alan Greenspan's book is not on their shelves; neither are Milton Friedman's. They read a 250 word blog and think that they know all there is to know about a topic; don't research, don't educate, don't delve into the whys and wherefores. After all, Headline News and text messages tell them all they need to know, why bother?

Sorry. I guess what pissed me off the most was the lament of the journalist who wrote the above story link... His total shock at what had happened, his total disbelief that such a thing could happen in America of all places. Yup, well, I've been seeing it and commenting on it for 20 years, and no one believed me then. No one will believe this now. It will be swept under the rug like everything else; people quietly apologised to or paid off with non-disclosure riders. Keep your mouths shut. Everything is FINE. Dissent with the status quo is unhealthy - whether it is the status quo of the Republicans, the Democrats, or even the Libertarians. Not to mention a monumental waste of time.

OK I'm done. Next blogs will be a return to the pastoral, back to the social commentary again. Pardon my rant - I just get aggravated every once in a while. People who suddenly discover that they've been wearing blinders all of their lives, who gasp in horror at something that has been going on for decades right under their noses, stories and tales that they sarcastically dismissed as being circulated by Conspiracy Theorists and loonies, just irk me a little. Make more room in the fallout shelter and the loony bin - here comes another handful of wide eyed, stunned believers.