Friday, November 27, 2009

Merry Christmas - It's that time again.

A very happy Thanksgiving to all. I hope it went very well for everyone.

I want to say that I hate Christmas. I mean I seriously used to. I hated the idea that when Christmas came, my kids would want something that everyone of their friends would normally expect, and I wouldn't be able to give it to them. I know that sounds so shallow, but the fact is every mother wants the best for their children. I hated disappointing them. And I couldn't stand the idea that my kids were teased about not having what other kids have. Plain and simple, kids are cruel.

Life has changed since those days. We've been involved with our Angel Group now since Becki was 4, so that makes about 15 years. Almost immediately we realized that as bad as any of us thought we had it, we were really very lucky. We figured this out by reaching out to families who had insurmountable problems, more than just 'Why can't I have this special gift for Christmas," type of problem. None of us have cancer or other illnesses, and we should be around after Christmas.

I tell the story year after year about the 8 year old who requested a blender for Christmas one year. He wanted it because his mother had throat cancer and all her food had to be pureed. Then there's the story about how the woman who escaped an abusive marriage. She called a number she found in the Penny Saver for a moving company. The people showed up, loaded all her furniture into a van and skipped town. They even took her bird. To make matters worse, her son had diabetes, and she had to take him to the hospital daily so he could get his shot. I can't remember why she couldn't give it to him, but that's the way it went. And there were a couple of years when we helped families who were about to lose members. One young man was going to be forced out into the real world prior to finishing high school because his father was about to lose his life to cancer. His mother had died the year before.

After hearing stories like that, I can't feel sorry for my children, or anyone else's because they weren't going to receive the new hot toy. Life is just too cruel at times.

I held the second 'sort' party of the year tonight. When Becki graduated last year, I was afraid I wouldn't have any help sorting canned goods. Each year I've depended on my kids' friends. As the boys graduated, their friends have gone off in other directions. I thought maybe Becki would make new friends at her new school. A lot of the kids she is meeting are from out of town, and they live on campus, which is Downtown. Getting from there to here and back again would be a problem. Anyway, I was confident that I wouldn't get much help. So I told all three, 'Make some calls. Get me some help.' So tonight, all three called friends. Louis, who is always there for me, came again, as did Mikey, Ed D., Stephen, Mel, Chris, Matt, Matt, Yellow, Gloria, her friend Vickie, and Leon all showed up. We had so many people, we blew through three pallets of food in no time.

Just as I think my days are numbered or my resources have dried up, someone steps in to help. Each year five local schools have completed drives for me. This year I lost three because the principals have changed. As I'm wondering how I'm going to make up for them, three cemeteries, an office and a township office have stepped in to take their places. One more time, I am overwhelmed. And thankful.

Merry Christmas. It's really not a bad time of the year.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Veteran's Day and Fort Hood

I wanted to offer my thoughts on both Veteran's Day, and the tragedy at Ft. Hood. I've been feeling so crappy lately, I haven't done half of what I think about doing.

It's just that we can never say thank you enough to our vets. What I find unsettling though is the fact that they are fighting in Congress about benefits. This should be a no brainer. We are stretching our military as thin as we can, and we are over using each and every person we can. The thought that any man or woman serving in the U.S. military should ever have problems finding help, whether for a physical disability, a stress issue, or even help with education and loans, is unconscionable. How can we ask so much of so few and then turn our backs on them?

The bill before Congress has to do with veterans needing continuous care and support for their caregivers. I don't have a bill number, and I believe it is in the Senate now. The only thing I am aware of is that one man is holding up the vote because he wants to know how it is to be paid for. I could understand that if it weren't for the fact that he didn't think twice about voting for the war that put our military in this position to begin with. Shame on you, Mr. Senator.

Okay, I've expelled that, and I apologize because I hate allowing myself to form an opinion without having all the facts at hand. Too many politicians have voted on bills with less information, and look where it has gotten us. I don't believe in hunches unless desperate.

As far as the incident at Ft. Hood is concerned, I can only offer my condolences to family and friends. I can't imagine how it would feel to think my loved one is out of the line of fire only to be shot at home. There were two individuals from this area who died. It was hard to watch the coffin of the young man's passed by his high school on the way to the funeral chapel. It was like reliving the death of the Captain Ed wrestled with in high school. The Captain's loss touched this entire community. I can only imagine how hard it would be to know there are 13 communities suffering through this loss.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

H1N1, Birthdays, Cats, etc.

It's been a long week. I swear most of us have dealt with H1N1. Bill and I are still sick. It seems where one thing feels better, something else feels worse. I've had colds before, but this is worse than that. It has to be a flu. All last week I had swollen tonsils. That turned into a just a sore throat, a cold, stomach problems, etc. Right now my sinuses are draining, but my head is killing me and I'm constantly coughing. Bill isn't doing much better.

We told Ed to take a bus to the UCLA main campus this morning, and he begged. Bill finally relented. He got sick on the way home. I wouldn't have made it. I haven't been sleeping right. When I walked in the door after dropping Ed at the Uptown campus, I sat down in Bill's chair and immediately fell asleep.

This past weekend was Becki's birthday. I tried to make a big deal out of it. I made lasagna, and I bought a cake. We had presents and the whole deal. The thing is we were all so sick, no one said much of anything. Chris was worse than all of us. He looked gray. Gloria's birthday was also Saturday, and she was suppose to join us. We had gifts for her, too. (She and Jon are back together.) She had to work late, which is no surprise. It was really kind of a sorry affair. Where we are usually boisterous and loud, we were very quiet. The only good thing is that no one brought up this weekend last year. That's when we lost Pizza. (I still see her now and then. As my new friend, the ghost hunter said, cats have more of a tendency to return more often than other animals do. Oh, and we've seen Blacky around, too.)

After the party I had to run Uptown. The paper was holding a wine and cheese fundraiser. I wasn't asked. I was told. Which was fine. It was a very nice affair. It was held at an art gallery. I wanted to visit before and never got a chance. This time I had an excuse. I will say that some of the amateur artists in town are very good. I felt good. I told the lady about the school that Becki attends. "Oh, that's one of the best art colleges in the country. Have her bring her portfolio in, and I'll see what I can sell for her." Becki hasn't got anything to sell yet.

Which brings up two other things. First off, you can't count on male cats. As much as I love my two, they don't do their jobs. I hate mice. We had this one. It ran out of the weirdest places at the weirdest times. Always inconvenient. We'd be sitting quietly, watching TV, when suddenly Becki would scream. She'd grab a cat and throw him in her room, and he'd run out as fast as he could. It wasn't that they wouldn't hunt, it's just that they'd play with the mouse for a while. Then they'd get bored and wander off. J.J. finally finished it off and dumped it in someone's bed. Okay, gross. You have to understand cats. I love my cats. It's just that when they kill something off like that, they have to brag. What better way to see it than to put in bed with a loved one? I honestly think they take secret enjoyment out of the scream and cursing that follows the discovery.

So anyway, Becki came home one evening. "Did I tell you Lisa's cat is having kittens?"

"No more cats!" I told her. "It better be a female. No more males."

Well, you get the gist of the conversation. Now we're arguing names, and we haven't even seen it yet. A few weeks from now.... I think Rosey is a great name. Becki and Jon insists I need to see it first. Now how we're going explain why this kitten is wandering around the house to Bill, I don't know. I guess he'll deal with this when it happens.

Next thing we're hiding from him: Ed and I are talking about opening a coffee house. We are researching now. Hopefully this will work better than the last money making scheme we came up with.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Bitch Session

There are a few things I really want to get off my chest.

1. Big headlines yesterday! Kate Gosselin was ticketed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. She drove 15 miles an hour over the speed limit and had to pay a $107 fine.

My bitch: Who cares? And why would anyone waste the time to report it?

2. Vice President Dick Cheney and Daughter, Loopy Liz, claim that President Obama is 'dithering' on sending more troops to Afghanistan. Fine, they have a right to say anything they want to. So do I. In my humble opinion, Cheney and Bush should have 'dithered' a little longer about going into Iraq. Maybe, just maybe, if they had, the war in Afghanistan would be over now, bin Laden would be in custody or dead, and we wouldn't have lost 4,000 men and women in Iraq. Maybe they would have thought this through and not just played it by someone's under educated gut. I also don't appreciate the fact that two men who actively avoided going to war themselves had the absolute gall to send others off to fight. Afghanistan was one thing. Iraq was quite another story.

No, I'm not a liberal. I am a moderate. Sarah Palin is an idiot, and Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Rielly and the like are liars and hate mongers. Their behavior is immoral.

3. I disagree with several of President Obama's policies. I think he should press Congress harder about the public option. My teeth hurt and I can't afford to have them pulled. And it irritates the hell out of me to hear people like Congresswoman Foxx claim that health care reform would be worse than Al Qaeda. Ah, obviously she didn't lose anyone at the World Trade Center, or she wouldn't say something that stupid or heartless. But then again I never received any campaign funds from health insurers, and I never received so much as a Christmas bonus when I worked for AIG. I resent giving money to banks and insurance companies that are too big to fail. Why were they allowed to get that big?

My biggest political bitch of all of this is simply that it took years and years of abuse to get us into this mess. And here we are 8 months later. The economy is beginning to come back. Health care reform is almost a reality. I just pray health care reforms comes with a public option as I truthfully can't see how we can force competition and reduce premiums otherwise. We need to reform the financial system, and we need to replace a lot of the regulations the Roosevelt Administration placed on the financial industry so that we will never again go through another near meltdown. To finish that thought, though, my biggest bitch of all is simply that change doesn't happen over night. To expect everything to be running the way it was before we all went broke is dumb. It took time to get into this mess, it will take time to get out of it, too. Of course when someone is out of work, waiting is nearly impossible, especially where creditors are concerned.

4. Citibank raised their credit card rates to 30%. That's frickin' usury. For the love of God and Country, that has to be stopped.

5. Now my biggest bitch: I saw someone in my yard last night when I took out the trash. It had robes on. Not cool.