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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Car Repair

Last week I took my car to the body shop for repairs. When I went to pick it up, I was told that the repairman had a very hard time with the work. My first thought, with my New York background, was that he would add to the price, but I was wrong. He charged me the same as the estimate.

Of course, now I have to go through all those feelings you have when you drive a car off the lot. It looks as good as new. Whenever another car gets too close, I get nervous. I'll feel this way until I get my first scratch.

I'm almost tempted to put a scratch somewhere just to get it over with.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fundraiser

Last night I attended a fundraiser for St. Jude's Hospital in my community. It was a well attended night and we must have raised over $2000.

The added attraction for the evening was a trivia game. I've always thought I was pretty good at trivia, after all, don't I get most of the questions on Jeopardy right? There were 18 teams and I was the captain of our team.

My pride received quite a blow last night. There were so many questions I couldn't answer that I'm glad we had a team of 10. Out of a possible total score of 800, we scored about 560. Obviously, we didn't win, we didn't even show. We came in 9th out of 18 teams. At least we weren't last.

The organizers used questions from Trivial Pursuit, or at least the same format - television, music with numbers in the title, everyday products, etc.

It was a fun evening and, even though we didn't do that well, as they said in Brooklyn, "Wait'll next year!"

Friday, March 27, 2009

Flood Control

Every Spring it's the same thing. Some part of our country is faced with flooding. Usually, it's the area around the Mississippi. This year, it's the Red River area, particularly Fargo, ND.

Every year I ask the same question, but have never gotten an adequate answer except that it would too expensive. In the long run, would it be more expensive than losing so many homes, relocating families and rescuing those who didn't have time or means to evacuate the area?

This is my plan. Maybe the Army Corps of Engineers could work on it. I propose a series of underground pipelines from the offending rivers. These pipelines could be kept shut off until there is a threat of flood. The lines could be opened, relieving the water in the river. Additionally, these pipelines could be directed to areas of the country that are subject to droughts. Once these lines were opened, water could flow to the farms in the drought areas. We would be saving cities along the rivers and providing much needed water to towns in drought areas.

I know this would be expensive, but wouldn't it create many jobs thus stimulating the economy and reducing the unemployment rate for construction workers, engineers, etc. There also would be a need for people to maintain these pipelines, giving long term employment, not just a one time job. It would also avoid the trauma of packing up your family and leaving your home and business to the forces of nature.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Blogging Shattered my Fantasy

What a wonderful way to start the day! Fresh eggs and milk for breakfast. The scent of freshly baked bread or biscuits. Down covered ducks, sweet yellow chicks, puppies, kittens and goats running around. Growing your own fruits and vegetables. Doesn’t it sound like a wonderful life? I always thought so.

Then I started blogging and following several blogs about farming. While these women do live enviable lives in beautiful surroundings, they work very, very hard. They have to watch the weather reports to make sure all the animals are warm and safely tucked away in their barns. They have to make sure there is the right mix of water for the plants. They worry over droughts and floods. They worry about coyotes and other wild life. And I'm sure they wouldn't want to give it up for an easier life.

Before they can have freshly baked bread and biscuits, they have to milk the cows and worry if they will receive a fair price for their milk and produce. After having a tease of Spring, they must worry about the seedlings and the frost that is sure to follow in March. Then there’s the worry about the ice dams in the stream.

The sheep have to be shorn, the wool either cleaned and spun on site, or sent to a specialist for processing. The eggs have to be collected and separated. The non-fertilized eggs can be sold or used for eating or baking, the others sent to the incubator and hope there will be no power failure that will chill the incubator and ruin all the eggs.

During the growing season, the vegetables and fruits must be harvested. Some will be preserved for winter, some will be eaten and hopefully, some will be sold (if the harvest is good).

I’ve been following several farm blogs such as Life on a Southern Farm, Hidden Haven Homestead, Northview Diary, A Cowboy’s Wife, Tylerfarm Homestead, Ash Lane Farm and then there others where I just drop in. These women work very hard, I wish I had their dedication.

I still envy these women, but I now have a new respect for farmers. I guess, for me, farm life will have to remain a fantasy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm one of those people who are content to stay in the house for days at a time. I'm very comfortable with myself and my home. All that comfort goes away when for whatever reason I'm forced to stay home.

Today I took my car away to have some work done. I expect to get it back on Friday. All afternoon today, I've been thinking about going out to the supermarket, pet food store, or even taking a ride. It was a beautiful day. Then the reality hit. I don't have my car.

Maybe tomorrow I can take a ride. No, wait, no car.

I hope the weekend is good, I need a road trip.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cookbook

I did it again. Our Singles Club has decided to edit a cookbook for the community. I offered to be on the committee and help with this venture.

The chair of the committee used one of the oldest tricks in the book and asked me to my face to be her co-chair. How could I refuse? So now I'm going to help put this book together. So far, she has done the initial work of finding a publisher and getting prices. Hopefully, I'll just be involved in collecting recipes and testing them.

If we make a decent profit, we'll use the money to buy something for our Clubhouse.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Back and Fiesty

I'm back and still feeling fiesty. I've reread my rants and I still agree with them, and I must elaborate on them.

I'm not defending the bonuses paid to AIG executives, but I am condemning the singling out of AIG. They are not the only company to pay their executives such bonuses, but the media has chosen to single them out. My big worry is the fact that somehow the home addresses of these executives were released and busloads of protestors visited those homes. It had the look of pitting the have-nots against the haves, or in other words - class warfare. I hope that no family members are hurt as a result of these demonstrations.

I'm still trying to figure out how the government can pass laws retroactively and selectively.

I did realize one advantage of living along, except for the cats. While I was feeling poorly, I could just rest. If I didn't feel like cooking, I didn't. I could sleep all day if I wanted to. That's the first time in a long time that I have felt so free. Now if only I could teach the cats to open their can of food.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rants

For the past few days I've been feeling poorly with chills and fever. As a result, I've been parked in front of the TV watching the news. I have a few comments.

Congress has been busily singling out AIG on their recent bonus payments while receiving our bailout money. This would be acceptable and fair if AIG were the only company that has made bonus payouts with our bailout money. When you watch the news channels for hours on end, you learn that bonus' were paid by other bailed out companies. Some of them are Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Wells Fargo, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. I haven't heard of any of the CEO's of these companies being told to appear before congress. Where's the outrage at these companies.

During this time when our deficit is constantly growing, our jet-setting president is off wasting how many gallons of fuel on yet another rally that could have easily been done via the internet which he seems to use to his advantage. I'm also tired of hearing that he "inherited" this mess. Yes, our problems did start before inauguration day, but the democrats were in control of congress for the previous two years. The president was a senator then, and if he had spent more time in the senate and less time campaigning for this job, maybe things wouldn't be so bad.

I've just heard that 13 companies who received billions of bailout money owed US millions in unpaid taxes. They were supposed to have signed a statement that they didn't owe any taxes, but they either lied, or no one followed up to check. This accusation has been made by a democrat congressman.

One last rant. It's payback time. I heard that ACORN will be involved with the 2010 census. I saw the head of this organization on TV this morning. He claims they will not be knocking on doors and counting and recounting people. But their record on registrations makes me doubt his words.

Thank you for your patience if you've gotten this far in my rant. If you disagree with me, just chalk it up to my fever. If you agree, thank you.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bernie Madoff

Today, I'm going to speak about Bernie Madoff. Don't get me wrong, please read to the end. I hope both he and his family are stripped of all their possessions.

What bother me is the fact that "victims" are claiming they lost everything. How does a person who amasses a fortune of 5 to 20 milllion dollars not know enough to diversify. I don't have anywhere near the amount of money that was lost, but I learned from Enron. I don't have more than 100 shares of any one company, I do business at several banks, staying well under the amount insured by the FDIC.

Maybe they were caught up in the lure of 8% return on their investment. Maybe they thought they knew more that the experts on Wall Street. We'll never know, they would never admit being caught up in the idea of guaranteed fast money.

I'd like to repeat what I said earlier. I hope Mr. Madoff and his family have all their money taken away and used to make restitution to all the "victims".

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hairdresser

Back in the mid to late 80s my friend gave me a home perm. She had done this 10 years earlier so she knew that my hair was very thick and took a curl very quickly. She used a very gentle formula and left it in my hair for half the recommended time.



It was a disaster. It was so tight. I had to live with it for a week since I couldn't get an appointment any sooner. I went to Toni's beautician Connie and she did a wonderful job without cutting too much. I've been going to Connie ever since, following her ffrom shop to shop. Even after I moved to upstate NY, Connie was my choice. I' ve since moved to New Jersey, but I still make the 120 mile round trip to Woodhaven. I used to stop in and visit my friend Grace, but she died last winter, a few weeks short of her 89th birthday. I still make the trip every 6 to 8 weeks for my touch-up and trim or highlights.



I have now found another reason for this trip, There is this deli in Woodhaven, Manor Deli, a few blocks from Connie. This deli has been in the neighborhood forever and is the best. They are a little pricey, but so worth it. Yesterday I bought some clam chowder that was so thick, it was a meal. I also bought some shrimp salad where the shrimp pieces are about 1/2 inch. I remember Arthur Godfrey's commercial for Lipton's Chicken Noodle Soup. He said there were actual pieces of chicken, they didn't just walk through the soup. But I digress, the shrimp didn't just walk or swim through the salad, there are actual pieces.



Of course, I have to get my two cups of coffee for the ride. Yes, I must confess, I drink and drive. Another friend suggested that I use a straw. That way I never take my eyes off the road. I just reach for the cup, bring it up to my mouth.



Of course, there's another reason why I stay with Connie. I've had saleswomen compliment me on my hair. My friends do too. She gets the color right and the highlights are perfect. The only problem is that sometimes I wait too long before appointments and the gray is too obvious. But she does a great correction. She will often make styling suggestions.



In addition to being a good hairdresser, she's also a good person. She had gotten a new tenant in her house during last summer. In the fall, the tenant was laid off. Connie and her husband reduced her rent and when they go away, Connie pays her tenant to walk Connies dogs. She also works once a week at a nursing home and styles the patients' hair.



How could I give up such a great hairdresser. I've had my share of bad haircuts. I think the worst was when the girl cutting my bangs told me always gets nervous cutting bangs. She was afraid of poking me in the eye.



Connie is a gem and as long as I can drive, I'll make that 120 mile round trip every 6 to 8 weeks.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hypocracy, Not

I'm really not a hypocrit.

When my boys were young, I would let them pick out one box of cereal each. Naturally, they took the box that offered a toy of some sort. Because it's natural for children to take the toy and leave the cereal, then go off to another box and toy. I made the rule that they couldn't open another box if there was still cereal left in the first box. That way, no cereal went to waste.

Now, I'm in the same situation. No, I didn't buy a box of cereal for a toy. The last time I went to Costco, I bought huge boxes of Cheerios and Corn Flakes. I enjoy Cheerios and finished them very quickly. Then I started on the Corn Flakes. I had forgotten that I really didn't care for Corn Flakes. Now, I have to eat them until they're gone.

I think they will last for a very long time. And, I can't open another box until they're gone. But, I never made the rule that you can't have toast, waffles, bagels etc. so I'm varying my menu - cereal one day, toast the next, or maybe bagels the day after. I should be done with that cereal in about a month.

But at least I haven't violated my own rule.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Desk

I just heard today that my missing desk parts will be delivered tomorrow. It will be so good to have the complete set-up.

Because the desk I'm using isn't big enough, I can't use my speakers or my external drive. And, believe it or not, I'm anxious to do some filing. I have this fantasy that as soon as everything is completely assembled my office will be magically transformed.

I know that now I'll have room to set up my scanner and then I can scan all my old photos and maybe organize them into folders. I can dream, can't I?

My timing was perfect. Yesterday was our scheduled bulk pick-up day. Monday night I dragged the old desk out of the garage, down the driveway and when I got within three feet of the street, it collapsed. I wonder how much longer it would have lasted. I know my chair was creaking every time I sat down and that definitely wouldn't have lasted much longer.

I can't wait for my complete desk set-up.

Monday, March 9, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BARBIE

Happy Birthday Barbie!

She turns 50 this year. I never had a Barbie doll, poor me. I guess that would be because I was much too old for a doll 50 years ago. I did see all the commercials for Barbie, her town house, her job, and of course, Ken. She has had several careers as an astronaut, paleontologist, teacher, surgeon, veterinarian, dentist, fashion model, flight attendant, etc. In fact, she has done it all.

Originally, she was just a doll from Malibu. Then came the women's movement with pressure for Barbie to have a career. The people at Mattel came out with new Barbies covering any career you could imagine. Of course, all the accessories were extra.

Little girls loved her And they knew she wasn't real, she was a toy. That's why the proposal of Jeff Eldridge, a delegate in West Virginia is so ridiculous. Mr. Eldridge would like to ban the sale of Barbie in West Virginia because the doll tacitly urges its young owners to place undue importance on physical beauty to the detriment of their intellectual developments. That would put West Virginia in the company of such countries as Iran and Saudi Arabia which has banned Barbie for her revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools.

I wonder about Mr Eldridge. He has also introduced a bill that would legalize tournaments featuring mixed martial arts - kicking, punching, elbowing, wrestling, kneeing and slamming - to bring more revenue into the state. If Mr. Eldridge thinks Barbie influences girls, how does he think mixed martial arts will influence children?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Crash & Burn

I have two cats. Crash is a calico and Burn is a tuxie. Separately, they are wonderful pets, very loving and gentle. When they're together it's a completely different story. I used to think that Burnie was the more aggressive and that he intimidated Crash. It's not quite like that. Crash seems to be afraid of Burnie and when he wants to play, she lashes out and hisses and growls.

The other night we had the makings of another episode. Crash likes to drink from the faucet and since I have a double sink in the bathroom and I live alone, she has her own sink. As you can see from this picture, she also likes to hang out in the sink.



The other night, Burnie was just hanging out on the bathmat in the bathroom and Crash wanted a drink. I turned the water on for her, but she just sat by the door. She looked from Burnie to the sink, back to Burnie, then to the sink. Burnie just ignored her.



I didn't want to waste water and I knew she wouldn't walk past Burnie, so I picked him up and put him in the shower and closed the door. It was so cute to see him behind the glass, trying to figure out what happened. When Crash saw him locked up, she came into the room and jumped up onto the sink and had her drink.

When she was finished, I opened the door to let Burnie out. He just sat there looking around. It was so cute, but by the time I got my camera ready, he walked out.

Then we could all go to bed. Her on one side, him on the other, but I think she sleeps with one eye open so she can watch him.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hyacinths

Last fall I decided that I really should plant some bulbs in front of the house. Since I love the scent of hyacinths, I bought a couple of packages.

I should say that I really don't enjoy digging in the dirt. I like flower gardens, but only if someone else plants and takes care of it. I do like growing things though. I have no problem with my house plants, that dirt seems different, although I don't know why. Anyway, I just couldn't find the right time to plant the bulbs. They were put aside and forgotten.

I recently decided to look at them to see if they were OK after all this time of neglect. To my surprise, some of them are starting to sprout. I planted four of them in pots and am keeping them in the house. It's still too cold to put them outside in the ground.

When the ground warms up, I promise I'll plant them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Sign of the Times

Twice a year, usually February and August or September New York City celebrates restaurant week. During this week you can get a three course prix-fixe dinner at the top restaurants for $35.00. My friend Jane and I usually try to get into the city for dinner.

Unfortunately, because she's away on vacation, we couldn't make it in February. Today I got an email stating that restaurant week is continuing through March 20. It looks like restaurant week is becoming restaurant month. Maybe she'll be back from vacation and we can make it for our annual dinner.

I guess people have been cutting back so much that even the $35.00 for a wonderful meal is too much money.

The recession seems to have hit the fine dining establishments of Manhattan.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Burn Here

What a morning I had. Mom bought a new desk to go with her great new chair. They came to deliver it very early so Crash and I were locked up. First she had to interrupt my 8:00 am nap to lock me up with Crash. Then Crash just yelled and yelled and I couldn't get any sleep. It took forever for them to finish the job.

Then they discovered that the manufacturer sent the wrong legs for the desk. And they have to come back to do it all over again. That means that Crash will be yelling again in about a week. I better stock up on my naptime again.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Diet

BREAKING NEWS! I'm going on a diet. No, not a food diet, that's not news. I start a new food diet about every other day. No, this time I'm going on a money diet which may actually help my food diet.

I want to cut back on my spending before congress and the president decide (in the interest of spreading the wealth) that people like me, who saved for retirement (although those savings have lost a lot of their value, the Dow is down yet again) and worked in the private sector and receive a pension, do not need or deserve the full amount of social security they now receive. I don't doubt that they will try, at some future date, to reduce social security payments to private pensioners, all in the interest of "saving" social security.

Of course, this is not fair. I can only speak for myself in this case. I was not an executive on my job. I was a Secretary and then at the turn of the century became an Administrative Assistant. I worked hard, was a good assistant and was rewarded for my efforts.

Now I'll get off my soapbox. Back to the diet. When we were first married, my husband and I bought cheaper cuts of meat, took lunch to work and generally watched what we spent so we could save enough to buy a home. (What an unusual concept). Then when I was home taking care of my children, I continued cost cutting.

In the '70s and '80s I learned to buy a whole chicken and cut it up myself using all the parts. A whole chicken is much cheaper than buying the breast, legs or wings separately. I also loaded up on sales. At times, I had boxes and boxes of pasta in the pantry, extra soap and shampoo, extra boxes of cereal and vegetables that I froze. The freezer is a big help in times like this. I guess now I'm back to buying family size packages of meat, fresh vegetables and fruits and freezing some.

Clothes for the family were bought at the end of the season. I was able to buy some really good clothes for less than half the original price. I was lucky because my boys wore a uniform consisting of navy pants and light blue shirts to schoo. There was no peer pressure to wear designer labels.

In the past week, I've been looking at my behavior and found many ways I can cut back. I'm looking forward to the challenge. I really don't have to have all those lights on all the time. That's one of my biggest vices. I often leave lights burning in empty rooms simply because I'm going back soon. I don't use the energy saving lights because 5 or 6 years ago I replaced all my bulbs with them and there was no change in my electric bill and they take too much time to reach full brightness. Sometimes I was finished in the room before they became bright. I could turn my computer off occasionally. Maybe I could join the library and stop buying books. Unfortunately, I still have to drive. There are few sidewalks, so I have to drive everywhere I go. However, I do keep my thermostat at 69 during the day and reduce it to 62 at night. The upside from this lower nighttime temperature is that I've been sleeping much better. I now get about 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep, except for Burnie.

I can make the biggest cuts in my food budget. I really don't need to eat all that meat, especially beef. Right now, I've got a large pot of chicken soup simmering on the stove. I bought the chicken wings in a family size package (20 wings) which I split in two and froze half and the supermarket gave a $3.00 discount on the package (final cost $8.99). Since I live on my own, I should get at least five meals out of this. Last week my local supermarket had a sale on cat food, so I bought 20 cans, enough to feed them for almost three weeks.

How can you cut back? Are you up to the challenge?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Am I Addicted

As I've mentioned many times before, I'm finally getting a new desk for my office. This new desk will give me a lot of workspace and will take up almost the whole wall on one side of the room. I'll finally be able to take the scanner off the floor.

Today I decided that, since delivery is expected on Tuesday, I should start rearranging the furniture. Some of it I'll be dismantling and throwing out, the rest may find a home in another room, even though I should get rid of all of it. As I was about to move my printer stand I thought, "what if I have to print something before Tuesday evening?" Maybe I should wait until Monday night, just in case.

Of course, I can't turn my computer off and disconnect everything else until Monday night either. What if someone sends an important email? What will I do without my computer, spreadsheets and email. Of course, I can always use the computer at the clubhouse, but there's nothing like the convenience of your own.

I should add that my computer is purely for personal use, I'm retired. Am I addicted? Could you go 24 hours without internet access? No email, no news, no Word, no Excel and worst of all, no games. Whatever will I do?