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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas

Today I decorated the tree. I've been bringing all my decorations into the house for the past two days and decided it was time to decorate, starting with tree.

As I unwrapped each ornament, I started remembering all the past Christmases. When I moved into my new house, I made a mistake by listening to a cousin who suggested that I start new in my new home. I had a new tree and bought maroon and silver balls for it. In my mind, it was beautiful.

It was, or should have been. As I started to go through all my old ornaments, I realized that I couldn't stop using them. There were so many memories, both new and old.

There were the ornaments my parents had given us for our first Christmas together and the ones that my husband and I bought for our first tree. There were the plaster trees, bells, animals, etc. that my boys had painted when they were 6 and 3 years old. Not professional, but priceless. There were the yarn dolls and pipe cleaner candy canes I made the year I became a mother and the balls my sister-in-law gave my second son for his Baptism. As I went further into the box, I found the ornaments painted by the boys in nursery school and cub scouts.

I even found some of the old glass balls and teapots from my parents' trees. They brought back the memories of playing colors with my cousins, Rita, Claire, Rose and my brother Frank. All but Claire are gone now, but those memories are fresh as ever. I look at the tree and think, "I see the colors green, pink, blue, white and gold." They someone would guess it was the multi-colored ball that I was looking at. Such fun, such good memories.

I have managed to collect almost so many memories over the years that I have expanded to three trees - the main one in the living room and one in each of the bedrooms.

How could I have possibly left them packed away for a showcase tree. A tree full of memories is the perfect tree.

Friday, November 25, 2011

WARNING! SOAP BOX

I see that our fearless leader in Washington has decided, in the interest of his reelection campaign, to put off a decision on the proposed pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

This pipeline would have created thousands of jobs here in the United States and would have reduced our dependence on oil from the mid-East.

The fear of the environmentalists is that THERE MAY BE A LEAK which could affect the ground water. This almost makes sense until you realize that there is only a possibility of a leak. Using that logic, should I stop crossing the street because I MAY be hit by a car, should I stop using stairs because I MAY fall? There are so many possibilities in life, does that mean that we should stop living?

There is also the possibility that this pipeline will perform perfectly, that we will reduce our dependence on oil from the mid-East, that our unemployment rate will go down. Those possibilities carry much more weight in favor of the pipeline than the fact that it MAY leak.

Canada has suggested rerouting the pipeline, but that is not good enough for the candidate in chief. AND, Canada is now mulling the possibility of selling the oil to - you guessed it - China, thereby helping China's economy even more.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Point of Manufacture

Recently some friends and I were discussing the recent Solyndra scam and GE's sending jobs to China. We decided that we would rather support our own economy and buy things made in America.

I went to Target the other day to buy some toys for a Toys for Tots collection being taken in the community. I checked out several toys, particularly my favorites like Matchbox Cars and Hot Wheels Cars. I put them back because they were all made either in China or Malaysia. Every toy I checked was made overseas. I finally settled on a set of Leggos which are made in Denmark.

Then I decided to get some children's books at Barnes & Noble. So many were manufactured in China. I did manage to find a few like the Clifford series, Winnie the Pooh and Snoopy. I hope the children who get these books will enjoy them as much as my sons and I enjoyed Clifford, the Big Red Dog and Winnie the Pooh and of course Snoopy.

Unfortunately, I wasn't as careful when buying two cookbooks to add to my collection. I bought a Kitchen Aid Baking Basics and a selection of Holiday appetizers, dinners and cookies. After I got them home, I checked and you guessed it. They were "Manufactured in China". Next time I'll be sure to check.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Forgotten News

This morning I decided that Crash and Burn deserved a treat. I felt guilty that I left them for
2 1/2 days with only enough food to last 4 days.

As I was wandering around Petco, I met a woman who was there with her dog. I forgot to ask the breed, but he was big and a beautiful shade of gold. He was fairly well trained, it only took 3 or 4 tries to get him to sit, but he was quiet and didn't jump (which is what I like).

We got to talking and she mentioned that he's 6 years old, but she only has him for 2 months. He was a rescue because his previous owner lost her home in the Pennsylvania floods and then had to go to assisted living. This woman also mentioned that her parents also lost their home.

How quickly we forget about the floods and the people who lost their homes through no fault of their own. They just happened to be living in an area which has had too much rain too quickly and the ground couldn't absorb it.

There's too much emphasis given to those who might have over bought or over spent and now face foreclosure. The news lately has also focused on the story du jour, like the Wall Street Occupiers instead of those who were victims of weather or the economy.

I'd like to see more stories on those who lost homes and businesses because of the crazy weather we've been having lately.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

I'm sitting here watching all the news reports on the occupy Wall Street protesters. The mobs are trying to shut down the subways, blocking the streets, trying to basically shut down the city.

They claim to be for the 99% who they believe are the downtrodden of our country. What they either don't want to know or are too ignorant to believe, they are hurting the working people. They almost succeeded in shutting down a small restaurant on Wall Street. Business had gotten so bad that the owner was forced to lay off half of his staff. Eventually the barricades were removed and his business improved slightly. I wonder if it will ever recover.

I feel for the people who are just trying to make a living. They go to their jobs every day doing the best they can. And yet, they have to contend with closed streets, unruly mobs, the stench, the threats, etc. And the people who are paying huge rents to live in downtown Manhattan have had to contend with the crowds and noise 24/7. Don't they have rights too?

Things may be looking up though. Mayor Bloomberg finally grew a spine and ordered that once beautiful Zucotti Park be emptied and cleaned out. He SAID that the protesters would not be allowed to stay there overnight (I'll believe that when I see it). Today a stock trader and his brother got together with others, made signs saying, "Occupy a desk", "Get a job". I know that unemployment is high now, but there are some companies hiring. It just takes a little work and maybe taking a lesser job for the time being.

When asked how he would have handled the occupation, former Mayor Rudy Guliani said, "There is no sleeping in the park, end of story". This would have ended in the first week. Rudy, we miss you. Come back Rudy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Travel

I've decided to take a short trip out to Long Island. I'll only be away for two days, but it seem like I have to take as much for two days as I do for two weeks. Of course, I don't need as many clothes, but all the extras add up.

I still need my make-up, lotions, comb, brushes, hair clips, shoes, slippers, etc. Even though the hotel has a hair dryer, I need my curling iron. I'm so glad I have a Kindle, if not, I'd have to bring extra books in case I become disenchanted with the one I'm reading and need a sub.

For my first night, I'm meeting my niece and her daughter for dinner. Tomorrow, I'm having lunch with a friend and on Friday, I'm going to be visiting Teddy Roosevelt's home in Oyster Bay. That visit will bring my total to three presidential homes/libraries I've visited. I'd like to visit them all. I wonder, does visiting the White House count?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

Thank you to all veterans who have served.

I was pleased to see that those "evil Wall Street people" observed a moment of silence at 11:00 AM to commorate the Armistice which occurred on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11:00th hour. There aren't too many moments of silence observed any more and I was glad to see it today.

It reminded me of the time my mother and I were in a department store in Brooklyn, I guess I was about 8 years old. One of the employees came over and told us that at 11:00 AM there would be a moment of silence in commoration of the event and would we please join them, which we did. That moment sticks in my memory.

If only the mayor of Richmond, CA had that much respect for our veterans. As of a report last night, she was planning on attending one of the protest rallies at 11:00 AM instead of attending a memorial for our veterans. Shame on her.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Do Cats Think?

Often when we talk about our pets, we give them human qualities. I know I do. I think of Crash and Burn as a sister and brother. Crash is the proper older sister and Burnie is the pesky younger brother.

This has made me wonder if cats are capable of thinking and plotting. Burnie has started doing little things that seem to be done to annoy Crash. Crash has always liked sitting next to me on the couch, but lately Burnie rushes to the couch as soon as I sit down. When Crash is keeping me company in my office, Burnie always has to go over and bother her until she gets up and walks away. Then he just lays down in her spot and goes to sleep.

It seems like Burnie's whole purpose in life lately is to annoy Crash. Isn't that what little brothers do to big sisters?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Snow

Here's our big weekend snow. As you can see, it doesn't take much to make me happy.

While I enjoy the snow, I feel for the people in the rest of the northeast who lost power. They are suffering now.

It seems that old large trees are a mixed blessing. In the spring they signal a return of life after winter, in the summer they provide shelter from the sun and sometimes the rain. In the fall, they offer a world of color before the bare branches of winter. Because so many trees still had their leaves, the wet snow was too much for them. They collapsed under the weight onto the power lines.

I hope those people affected get their power back before too long.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

WE HAVE SNOW!!!!

Winter has arrived. It's a little early, but I'm not complaining.

After a day of rain and some flurries, it's snowing now. If my mother was right, I'm going to be very happy this winter.

She had an Old Wives Tale or superstition about snow. She said that the date of the first snowfall predicted the number of snowstorms we would have. Since today is October 29, it looks like we will have 29 snowstorms this winter. I'm so happy. Let me enjoy today before you hate me for wishing all this snow on us.

Now maybe October 29 will be remembered for the first snowfall (a record) and not the big crash in 1929.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Firsts

Today I had my "city fix". The community organized a bus ride into the city. It's a great arrangement. We get there around 11:00 and have time to do whatever we want as long as we meet the bus by 5:00.

I made arrangements to meet a friend downtown for lunch. I had hoped that we could have a longish lunch, but she had to get back to the office (poor working girl who's too young to retire). It was raining and I had forgotten how windy it gets downtown. The wind was so strong, even I had trouble walking and at one point, it even nudged me a little. Anyway, we had a very pleasant lunch, I caught up on the latest office gossip and her family.

After lunch, I had about three hours to kill. If it had been a nicer day I would have wandered over to Zucotti Park to see the protesters, but by then I was a little wet and my hair had been blown straight by the wind.

I went back to midtown to kill the time for the bus. There's a nice hotel in the area, so I decided to go and sit in the lobby for a little while and maybe get a cup of coffee. Well, there were seats, but no coffee. I sat for a little while and then I saw the bar and decided to get a glass of wine.

Here's where the firsts come in. I had never in my long lifetime sat at a bar by myself. Whenever I've gone to a bar, it's always been in a group and usually, we get a table. Today was different. I got up my nerve and ordered a glass of wine which I didn't pay for right away (I don't know the proper protocol, probably should have paid as soon as I got my glass). I soon realized I was in trouble when a man came up and ordered two beers and paid $20. I then paid my bill and stayed a while eating the complimentary peanuts. I don't want to say how much my wine cost, but I will say I could have bought a good bottle of wine for less than the cost of the glass. Needless to say I only had one glass.

So there you have it. For the first time in my life I went into a bar (although at those prices, it's probable more of a cocktail lounge) by myself and the first time I ever paid more for a glass of wine that I would pay for a good bottle of the same thing.

I don't think I'll be doing that again any time soon. But I do love to get my "city fix".

Monday, October 17, 2011

Finding the Good in a Job

Last week when I was doing my monthly food shopping I met a young man, probably a high school senior. He was working the register. That's his job now, but I believe if he keeps the attitude he has now, he will be a success in his chosen field.

He was friendly, we started discussing cats, since I bought about 20 cans of cat food and six bags of Temptations. He also has two cats, their names are Thelma and Louise, but I think my names are better - Crash and Burn, but I digress.

After he finished checking all my purchases, he stretched out my receipt. It disappointed him though, he was hoping it would be a record as the longest he had ever had. It came in a close second.

I was impressed by his willingness to find something good and interesting about his work. Checking out purchases in a supermarket can get pretty boring, yet he did it cheerfully while looking for something different or unusual. I predict that he enthusiasm he has shown in his job will take him far in his chosen career.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chauvinism

I was born and raised in New York and moved to New Jersey six years ago. I still consider myself a New York and nowhere has that been more evident than this afternoon.

I was speaking with one of my friends when she got a notice on her cell that there was breaking news. She checked and saw that the Governor had endorsed one of the candidates for President. Fortunately I kept my thoughts to myself as I wondered why Gov. Cuomo (NY) a democrat was endorsing a republican candidate. It dawned on my a few minutes later that the report on the New Jersey news was that Gov. Christi had decided to endorse Mitt Romney.

I guess I'm still a New Yorker at heart. Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What Day is It

Happy Monday!

This morning I did what most retirees do. When I woke up, I had to lay there and try to decide what day it is.

At first I thought it was Saturday, but remembered that I had just seen As Time Goes By. Then, I thought it was Sunday and I had better get up for church. No, I had just been to church yesterday.

Voila! It must be Monday.

To add to my confusion about the day, I had trouble publishing this and my last post through Explorer. I finally accessed it through Google Chrome and it worked.

Have a good day, whatever day it is and however you access the internet.

The Last Prejudice

I'm ashamed of those running for the Republican nomination. I truly thought they were above that.

So Mitt Romney is a Mormon, so what. Grow up folks. I have never heard in any of his speeches that he intends to convert the country to his religion. We should listen to what he says and how he has lived his life. I admit that I don't know too much about the teachings of Mormonism, but I do know that they don't advocate killing non-believers.

What really saddens me is that way back in the day when his father was active in politics and attempted a run for president there was no mention of his religion (at least as far as I can remember). And that was back in the dark ages of the 60's.
Why have we become so afraid of one person's religion. Shouldn't we judge him on his record, how he has treated people?

Now for the disclaimer. I am not a Mormon, I am a Roman Catholic and I haven't made up my mind on my favorite Republican candidate, but this week I prefer Herman Cain.

It's time for all those Republican's who want to be president to stand up and denounce any religious prejudice that is so prevalent now.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Computers, TV and Control

Over the past few months I've been having computer problems. I had to replace my old computer and that resulted in having to reinstall several programs and solve other technical problems. So many times I've had to give permission for the tech or my son 3000 miles away to take over control of my computer.

Each time, I remember an episode of Criminal Minds where several women were murdered after (as the investigators eventually found out) working with a tech who had taken control of their computer. That does make me a tiny bit nervous.

Giving control of my computer also reminds me of that old TV series, The Outer Limits, where an unseen voice announces "There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We can reduce the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... The Outer Limits." It is a very strange feeling to be sitting there watching programs open and close while I do nothing.

Fortunately, after all this my computer is working beautifully. Thank you all.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Who's the Boss

Last week I was sitting in my office when I heard a dog barking. Usually, the dogs here are very good, they don't make much noise, so I just had to look out.

Two of my neighbors were out walking their dogs, one is, I guess mid-sized, I'd guess a Lab and the other is a small dog. I don't know too much about dogs, but I've heard that the smaller the dog the more he barks. What really got my attention though was the larger one. As the small dog kept barking, the other went to stand behind his owner. I guess he was looking for protection from his owner, not the other way around.






Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why is Crash Unhappy?

Why is Crash disturbed?
She likes to sit next to me on the couch. Sometimes she sleeps other times she just wants to be adored. Today though she couldn't lay in her usual spot.

She tried to get some sympathy by laying and trying to sleep on one of the scratching cardboards.

She barely fit and didn't look at all comfortable.
Then she tried squeezing between me and the arm of the couch. She still wasn't comfortable and tried pleading with me for more room.
Here's the reason for her problem. Burnie took her spot, something he has started doing lately. He keeps trying to take her favorite spots all over the house and she is not at all happy.

Eventually Burnie woke up and found another spot, probably another of her favorite. She quickly jumped up on the couch and was happy.
She doesn't look it, but she really is happy.















Saturday, September 24, 2011

I don't like help when I entertain

Whenever I entertain I don't want any help. It's not because I'm a wonderful hostess or want to be a superwoman. It's simply because I have my own routines and also because I don't want my friends to see my sometimes messy and disorganized cabinets and refrigerator.

Monday I had some friends over for dinner. Later, while my back was turned they decided to help me by clearing off the table. I tried to intercept, but I missed one thing - my butter.

I use whipped butter because it's easier to spread. It's even easier if it's kept at room temperature so I keep it on my counter all the time. I've been doing this for years and have never had a problem. It doesn't get all runny the way a stick of butter would. It's my unscientific belief that it is the constant chill to room temperature back to chill, etc. that causes butter to get rancid. My container of whipped butter has never gone bad.

Today, I was looking all over the kitchen for the butter (I said I was disorganized) and couldn't find it. Finally, I remembered that I had company on Monday and looked into the refrigerator and there it was, hard and unspreadable.

Now, if I can only find the stainless steel cup that held my utensils at the Christmas party. That's been missing since someone "helped" my clean up after that party.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

More on Taxes

Today I heard yet another millionaire say he would be glad to pay more taxes. I'm tired of hearing the likes of Warren Buffet, Jerry Springer, Hollywood personalities, et al say how it is patriotic to pay more.

Never in these interviews have I heard the interviewer remind these people that there is no law AGAINST paying additional taxes. They can always just send a check to the IRS for whatever amount they deem fair. OR, they can simply file and take no deductions. Wouldn't that be more fair?

After all, shouldn't people be allowed to keep the results of their hard work and sacrifices? Otherwise, what is the incentive to study hard, get a good education, work long hours, live within your means if you can't enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TAX THE RICH

Tax the rich! What a wonderful catch phrase. Who wouldn't agree with that? Aren't the rich evil? Don't they hold onto their money and count it every day? What do they contribute to society?

After listening to the president's plan to tax the rich (whoever they are), I've decided there is no incentive to be successful.

To begin with, his supposition that Warren Buffet is paying less in taxes than Buffet's secretary is comparing apples to oranges. Warren Buffet's salary from Berkshire Hathaway is $100,000 per year. From my experience in the corporate world and knowledge of executive secretaries, I'm sure his secretary makes more than $100,000. The bulk of Warren Buffet's income comes from interest and dividends on his holdings. Therefore, raising the income tax on the salaries of millionaires does not change anything and is not fair and raising taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains takes away any incentive to invest and save.

Why should a person work hard, save money, invest and then see the results taxed heavily, in some cases doubly taxed. It's much easier to show up at your job for eight hours a day, collect your salary and then spend that salary and more. If you run into trouble, you can always file bankruptcy and start over again. I once worked with a woman who did just that and saw nothing wrong with it.

I have often cynically said that in this country at this time we punish the successful and reward the lazy. It seems that this is becoming more true every day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Taste of Fall

Today we got a taste of fall and for someone who hates the heat and loves the cold, it was wonderful. I turned the air conditioner off and opened a few windows. It felt so good to cool down and smell the fresh air.

As I passed the guest room, I looked in there was Crash lolling around on the floor in a patch of sun. She looked so happy, just luxuriating in the fresh air and sun.




She just rolled around and even posed for me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11

Today 9/11/11 is a day of remembrance of that beautiful turned ugly Tuesday. It seems at times like it was only yesterday and other times that it was a lifetime ago.

At that time I couldn't get enough of the news reports that replayed the attack over and over again. I had thought/hoped that time would change that. Still, today I sit in front of the TV watching a replay of the attacks, collapse and escape of the survivors covered in the toxic dust from the buildings and victims.

I was working downtown at the time and when I returned to work at AIG a week later, Hank Greenberg had arranged for an interfaith prayer service for the two employees who were killed. There was a Rabbi who spoke and he said something that has remained with me. I don't remember his exact words, but the idea was that 3000 people didn't die, one person died 3,000 times. That made an impact.

Yesterday, Governor Christie in New Jersey said something that brought the number of those who died into perspective. He said that if we had a moment of silence for each of those who died starting at noon on Saturday, we would be sitting in silence until midday on Monday.

There were so many lives lost, we must never forget what happened. And we will surviv.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

READ THE SIGNS

I can't say how many times I heard my mother say that.

When I was growing up, we never had a car so, we always took the subway. My mother always reminded us to read the signs before we got on any train.

I should have taken that advice this morning. I washed my hair using a new shampoo which comes in a tube, the same as the conditioner. I did my usual wash and rinsed the shampoo out. I then picked up the conditioner and applied it to my hair. When I was combing it through I was surprised to see that it seemed to be foaming. As I rinsed it out, I noticed that my hair felt very different. It seemed very coarse and knotted. I couldn't understand it.

Then I looked at the tube. I had used shampoo for a second time. Once I found the conditioner my hair felt much better. It was smooth and not coarse. Problem solved.

I guess I should be more careful when showering and read the names on the products I use. Mother knew best, "Read the signs".

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Memories

Flooding in the northeast, fires in the west, tornadoes in the midwest. It seems like everyone is feeling Mother Nature’s wrath.

All these tragedies have gotten me thinking. I’ve been very lucky; I’ve never had to face the loss of everything. How do these people cope? We’ve heard from some of them who say they’re thankful that everyone survived, that homes can be rebuilt, furnishings replaced but that people can’t be replaced.

This got me thinking. Yes, we can't replace people and we can replace THINGS, but so many of those things are a physical representation of our memories. Are our memories only ours because of some photo album or gift we received? Or are they part of us and therefore always with us no matter where or how we live? Do we place too much emphasis on things that really have no effect on who we are and how we live our lives?

When I moved from my home where I started married life and raised my two sons I felt that all my memories were not in the house, but of the house and my life there. I still have those memories where ever I am. I can bring them back if I’m here in my new home or even when I take a vacation across the country or across the ocean. I can still see their first steps or first day of school, all their firsts.

Sometimes I wonder if I feel this way about memories because I chose to move and replace my old furniture, or would I still feel that way if those physical THINGS had been taken away from me. I hope I never get the opporltunity to find out.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness

Have you heard? We on the east coast are about to be hit with a Cat 2 hurricane. Preparations are being made all over.

It's times like this that I'm glad that I only shop once a month. I have enough food and water to last a few days. I'm even storing pots of water on the stove and will fill the bathtub tomorrow. I'm waiting to do that until the last minute because Crash likes to jump in and run laps around the tub and I don't want to be awakened in the middle of the night by a splash and a wet cat running around.

While I was filling the pots with water I remembered the blackout back in 2003. One of my co-workers lived in downtown Manhattan and offered to let me and a few others stay. As soon as we got to her apartment, I told her to fill pots of water in case the power was out too long and we couldn't flush. The only problem we had that night was a result of dinner. She had used the stored water to cook the pasta. The next morning there was no water to flush. This time I'll know better.

I'm an optimist and can see the silver lining in this cloud. One of the items on my weekly to do list is to clean my patio. I've been looking at the pots of dead plants and telling myself that I had to do something about them. Well, today we were advised to batten down the hatches and remove anything that could be caught up in the wind. I tied the chairs to the table and emptied all the pots of dead plants and brought the rest in. As a bonus, when I was checking and removing the dead stems of basil, I found some new sprouts. What a pleasant surprise.

My next project will be to make ice cubes and store them in the freezer in case we lose power. The extra ice will keep the freezer cold. Guess I better grind some coffee beans. Can't be without my coffee.

I've started packing a bag in case of evacuation and this has Crash and Burn a little upset. They think I'm leaving them. If I have to leave, they're coming with me.

I think I'll be able to ride this storm out.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Panic in New Jersey

Today, while I was sitting at my desk in the clubhouse, it started shaking, seeming to move from side to side. Not knowing what was happening I started to wonder what was wrong with me. Was I going to pass out? Was I dizzy? Then I looked at my water bottle. The water was sloshing from side to side. Then I knew I was OK.

Immediately women came rushing out of the various rooms asking if I felt that. What was it? They were all upset. Cell phones weren't working. They wanted me to call the police to find out what happened. I told them that if there were a real emergency, the police would be too busy to take my call and besides they have a reverse 911 system which calls everyone in the town and warns them about problems.

We finally found out that there was an earthquake in Virginia. But it's the talk of the community.

For me, it was my first time.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Shopping

Last week my latest toaster oven broke down. It still works, toasting one side at a time, but the thermostat doesn't seem to be working so I can't cook my dinner in it. This was my 3rd toaster oven in 10 years. I promised myself that I'd never buy another toaster oven again. I do go through them quickly, but I must admit that I use it about once a day, if not for breakfast, then for dinner.

I stopped into Bed Bath & Beyond this morning to buy a new toaster. While there I decided I needed a new mat by the kitchen sink. Can't buy the gel since it's a horizontal cat scratching "post" for Crash. I got a nice one, then decided to look at mattress pads and skirt/pant hangers. Got both. Then I saw the foot cleaner for the shower which I simply "had to have".

I went to look at the toasters, but didn't like their selection. I decided to give toaster ovens one more chance and bought one. Let's hope this one lasts more than 3 years.

Why can't I just but the item that brought me into the store instead of picking up so many other things?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Business Failure

Back in 2007, the state of Massachusetts gave Evergreen Solar about $58 million in subsidies and tax breaks including a $1/year lease on land at the Fort Devens military base. That was four short years ago.

Now, after closing the Devens factory in March and eliminating 800 jobs, they are filing for bankruptcy and laying off an additional 65 employees.

This company was given all this money and other benefits in exchange for promises of green jobs. They manufacture solar panels. Now, they have discovered that it's too expensive to produce these panels here in the United States. Where was their research into costs? Surprise, they are moving to China. In China it will cost $1.10 per watt to make these panels as opposed to $1.80 here - a difference of 70 cents.

It seems to me that governments, federal, state and local, are too free with our money and giving aid to companies. There should be some strings attached - maybe a promise to continue the business in the same location for at least 10 years or all the money and tax breaks must be returned before a plant or office can be closed and employees laid off.

This company must have had a poor business plan or poor leadership to fail after only four years. Companies are only too quick to take government (taxpayer) money and then much too slow to return it to their benefactor - the government (taxpayer).

I wonder how many more companies took our money and then moved their operations to China. Maybe Donald Trump is right, we should put a high tax on Chinese imports.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I can't Believe It

I can't believe myself. I'm actually agreeing with the ACLU. Most of the time I find them so wrong, but today I think they're right.

This case involves several sex offenders in Delaware. They are being evicted from their safe house which is within 500 feet of a day care center. The law they are being accused of breaking says that they cannot be within 500 feet of a school. I guess you could say that the day care center passes for a school.

I definitely believe that children should be protected from sex offenders.

My objection to their evictions is the fact that their safe house was in the neighborhood BEFORE the day care center opened. The operators of this center should have checked out the neighborhood before deciding to locate within 500 feet of a safe house for sex offenders.

If the situation were reversed, I would say that they should move, but it is not. Their home was established BEFORE the day care center. There's no way I would defend their crimes, but as much as we would like to deny it, they do have rights. One of them is the right to a home.

Again, I can't believe that I'm siding with the ACLU. There must be a full moon tonight, or the world is turning upside down. Or something....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Memories...

This is fundraising week on PBS. Last night they took us on a trip down memory lane via music and the songs and performers of the 50's.

Tonight, they featured the comics of the Ed Sullivan Show. What a treat it was to see Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks with the 2000 year old man. I laughed with Red Buttons and Alan King. They brought us a very young Joan Rivers and Carol Burnett and Phyllis Diller and her stories about Fang. Who could forget Flip Wilson and Geraldine who misbehaved because "the devil made me do it", and George Carlin and Richard Pryor. I could go on and on and on.

My all time favorite was Victor Borge and his phonetic punctuation.

I think what made this show so good was the memories it brought back. Not so much the comics, but the general mood of the times. The whole family, sometimes aunts and uncles, would sit in front of the TV and watch the whole show. The comedy was gentle and clean, you weren't embarrassed to hear or laugh in front of your parents. And parents didn't have to shoo the children out of the room either.

We may have only had one TV and seven channels, but we had a good time all together. Ahh those were the days.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Faithful Companion

For the better part of this year I have had a number of back problems, some very painful, some just annoying. After a month of therapy and an MRI that showed no major problems I started to feel better.

I started feeling like my old self. Yesterday we had a luncheon in the clubhouse and I was a member of the committee. Since I'm the youngest and probably in the better shape, I did a lot of the lifting. I also spent a long time on my feet. Today I'm paying for it.

This morning, I couldn't get out of bed. Burnie was hungry (he's always hungry) and was meowing and meowing. Finally, Crash couldn't stand it any longer and she went over and slapped him. Every time he meowed, she slapped him. Then she would climb into bed next to me.

Eventually I got up and fed the hungry beasts. After a good breakfast, Burnie found his spot on the windowsill and took his morning nap.

To avoid moving and walking around too much I decided to use my office chair. It has wheels and I don't have to get up, I can sit and rest and still get around. Of course, Crash is terrified and runs away. But as soon as I settle in one place, she's right by my side. It's almost as if she's watching over me.

And they say cats are independent and uncaring!

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Most Unusual Party Favor

My niece and her husband have a moderately sized home and lot. They make good use of the available land and plant vegetables. They have corn, peppers, zuchini, tomatoes and various herbs.

Yesterday, they celebrated their 25th Wedding Anniversary. They started their day with a mass where they renewed their vows.

Then we went to their party, where we had a delicious meal followed by a wonderful dessert - a three layer white cake with chocolate mousse between the layers and a vanilla cream topping.

When it was time to leave, she brought out the favors. She had a bumper crop, so was sharing her bounty. My party favor was two zuchini and two cucumbers.

This was much better than a dish or chocolate.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Books

Today was the day to spend the afternoon working in the clubhouse. I enjoy this, I get to see my friends and make new ones. If it's really slow, I get to read which I've been very lax about since I retired.

Today a woman came in with a shopping bag. She told me that she cleared her plans with our activities director. She is collecting paperback books to send to our armed forces and will be taking some of those in our library. What luck! I've got a bunch of paperback books just collecting dust and cat hairs in my office. All I have to do is call her when I've got them all together and she will even pick them up. How lucky is that?

Now, what can I put on those shelves once the books are gone?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Compromise vs. Party

I'm sure you've all heard the president's recent statement that he couldn't guarantee that social security checks would go out on August 3 if an agreement couldn't be reached on raising the debt ceiling. He also added that veterans, the disabled, etc. wouldn't get their checks either.

Quite a threat/promise. Try to scare the folks so they will get after their representatives to agree with the president.

But, what he didn't say was that he is planning to celebrate his 50th birthday on August 4 with a special birthday party. He's asking people to bring a gift of $35,800 a couple. Now, I don't know about you, but the only people who can afford that kind of gift are the very ones he wants to tax - the fat cats, the Wall Street barons, the oil company executives, the best selling authors, not the parents who are struggling to find the money for college, seniors, wounded veterans, the unemployed.

I really don't understand why any couple would pay $35,800 to celebrate with someone who is constantly telling them they how bad they are for not contributing their share to spread the wealth. Maybe the president is planning on using the gifts he receives to pay down the deficit. Yeah, that's what he is going to do. He'll serve coffee and cake (if Michelle allows it) and send those checks to the treasury to pay down our debt.

Everyone deserves to celebrate their 50th birthday but not in such a public way when, as he said that the checks might not go out if no compromise is reached? Will Obama have the nerve to party while we default on our debts?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Yesterday, I had an example of how true that statement is.

I went to lunch with two friends from grammar school. Unfortunately, we had lost touch after graduation, but were fortunate to reconnect about 10 years ago. It's so good to have friends who knew you when and have the same background and know the old neighborhood.

We sat down to eat about 1:00, took a little time out to sit on the deck before dessert. The next time I looked at my watch it was 6:30. I couldn't believe how fast the afternoon went. We chatted, we laughed and had a wonderful time.

I can't wait until we do it again.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Acts of Kindness

I was speaking with a friend who has had a terrible year with illness and death. She mentioned the comfort she got from friends who had come to visit with her.

Most of us do what we think is the right thing and don't think anything about it. We don't think anyone will notice. We just do it automatically. We call or visit during times of trouble, but we never realize how important that call or visit really is.

That conversation led to my mentioning a friend from my old job. Every morning, Esther would find something nice to say to me. Sometimes she would say my hair looked particularly good, or my earrings were nice, etc. You get the picture. She made my day and how I miss her since I've retired.

I guess what I'm getting at is this. It's the little acts of kindness that we don't even think about that can have the biggest impact on someone's day. It really is the thought that counts.

I'll have to work on that.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

We Are at War

I really wish I could write about more pleasant, non-controversial things, but there's too much going on.

I've been thinking for a long time that we are in another war. The frightening thing about this war is that it is on our soil. It is a form of class warfare. This president seems to think that it is important for everyone to have a share of our wealth. I agree with this point, but it's his method of ensuring this that I disagree with.

He seems to think that the wealthy should pay more taxes to support those not as fortunate or ambitious as CEO's and COO's. I've seen the work ethic of major executives. They do not work a 9-5 day. It is more likely an 8-9 day and this includes their secretaries. What he doesn't realize is that it is the wealthy who create jobs. When was the last time that a poor person had the ability to hire staff.

From what I heard, one of the reasons for companies not hiring is the uncertainty in the market. These companies don't know what their tax bill, health care expenses will be next year. Most companies plan their operations two or three years in advance. They also now have to worry that the National Labor Relations Board will interfere with their expansion into states where employees are not forced to join a union.

The president's latest kick is to tax corporate jets. This tax could cause the companies to move their manufacturing facilities overseas resulting in the loss of another industry and the resultant layoffs.

If the president thinks the wealthy should pay more taxes, he should go after his friends at GE. This company took full advantage of tax loopholes and paid no taxes for 2010. There is no law against wealthy individuals paying extra if they feel the country needs more money. The president, himself, took advantage of deductions while telling everyone else to pay more.

I feel very sad about all this class warfare. When I was young, many, many years ago, we wanted to succeed at our jobs so we worked hard at whatever job we could get; we saved our money to buy our homes, we didn't buy what we couldn't afford. The current thinking seems to be that the government (we taxpayers) should take care of us. If we buy a house we can't afford, we can try to readjust our mortgage or just file bankruptcy and walk away from our debts. We just have to have the latest car or gadget and then we have to have the most elaborate vacation. No wonder so many wives HAVE to work.

I worry about our country if this class warfare takes off.

Maybe tomorrow I'll have something good to write about.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4th

I hope everyone had a very happy and safe July 4th.

This morning I checked out some events of July 4 in the past. I'm sure you all know that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826. Did you also know that James Monroe died on July 4, but in 1831. It is also the birthday of Calvin Coolidge.

This is the day that the Statue of Liberty was presented to US in Paris in 1884. "America (My Country 'tis of Thee)" was first sung in Boston in 1831. On this day in 1845, Texas voted for annexation to the United States.

It's also the birthday of several other people including Stephen Collins Foster, George Murphy, Louis Armstrong and Mitch Miller.

And, of course, the reason for all the celebrations, we declared our independence from England.

Monday, June 27, 2011

First Harvest

Every spring I plant herbs, especially basil, on my patio. Every year it's the same thing. The plant doesn't look full enough and I don't want to completely cut it back. I wait a week or so for more leaves.

When I finally decide it seems full enough for me to cut some leaves, I look and see that it has started to go to seed and blossom. No basil for that year.

This year, I had a lot of plants in one pot and they were doing quite well. It started to look as if the blossoms might be starting. On Friday, I went out and cut quite a few stems. I really didn't feel like cooking, so I decided to make some pesto. I harvested enough basil for two cups of pesto which I froze.

Now, when I feel like my favorite, shrimp and basil pasta, I just have to reach into the freezer. Speaking of the freezer, I wonder how basil ice cream would taste.

I also have a lot of oregano and mint out there. The strawberries haven't been too productive this year, but the sage is doing quite well.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What do they Know?

I just heard someone from the administration state that they (the administration) are just 1/4 of the way through their plans for our country.

Correct me if I'm wrong. The term of a duly elected president is four years. The election was in 2008, this is 2011. According to my math, we are a little more than 1/2 way through Obama's reign.

It looks to me as if the president and his administration know something about the 2012 election. How can they be so sure that we will be "blessed" with another four years. What sort of plan do they have? What kind of October Surprise will we get next year. Will the unemployment rate suddenly drop to 3% and housing values raise? Are they going to "fix" the election, or do they truly believe they will be reelected next year.

I shudder to think about it. We can't afford four more years.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Glad She's not my Neighbor

I volunteer once a week at the desk in our Clubhouse. It's usually very quiet and I get a chance to read. My main job is to take reservations for various events, then I get a chance to visit with friends and neighbors.

Today was a little different. A woman came in complaining about a lack of response to a complaint of hers. She went on and on because no one was available to take care of her. She had complained about this several times before. After a while, she stopped complaining and started talking.

Then she went on to complain about the solar panels some residents have put on their homes. They're ugly, they look like space ships, etc. She heard about a new company who had a better idea. They were putting thick aluminum, similar to astronauts' suits, in the attic which would block the heat and cold from coming into the house. She insisted that it's not insulation, but very thick aluminum.

From there we got into a discussion about she and her husband (poor man) use only natural products around the house. Her daughter also uses only products, they are "going green". She was so proud of that, and said we should all "go green". It's better for all. Then I reminded her that solar panels were also a way of going green. Since she was no longer complaining about conditions in our community I felt comfortable in gently arguing with her.

From living green she jumped to all the "junk" the stores sell especially around Halloween. The stores shouldn't sell that, that is just poison for the children, those poor children. I reminded her that the parents didn't have to buy it, they could say "NO" to their children. If no one bought it, they'd stop making it.

I'm a firm believer in the parents' responsibility to their children and I kept reminding her of that. The children don't go to the supermarket, they don't buy the food, they don't pay for it. The parents don't want to say "no" to their children, it's not the manufacturers' or the stores' faults or responsibility.

I told her that I never had a problem saying "no" to my children. At Halloween, they were allowed to have 3 pieces of candy each night. After about a week or so, they got bored and forgot all about all that candy.

Then she went on and on about being invaded by ants that must have been in a bag of potato chips one day, and even the next day after she had disposed of the bag. It seems that she has a problem with stores, management of our community, chip manufacturers, etc.

I had such a good time gently arguing with her. I love a good argument, but I'd hate to live next door to her.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How Hot is It?

The east coast is going through a heat wave. Temperatures today are expected to hit 97, and it's still early in June.

This morning I read an interesting piece in the New York Daily News by Michael Daly. I was surprised at one of the points he made. He explained why the NYC subway stations were always so hot in the summer. It seems that for every good thing, you have to give up something. Since the subway cars are air conditioned, the heat from them is expelled into the tunnels and stations. Mystery solved.

The main point of this article, though, had more to do with a comparison beween our conditions here in the east and that of our forces in Iraq and Afganistan. There, the daytime temperature may go as high as 140 degrees. If it ever got that hot here, I could wear shorts and sleeveless tops, go shoeless or jump into a pool or even take a nap. There, our forces have to wear body armor and carry an automatic weapon, ammo and gear, all the while staying alert for their own safety and that of their buddies.

It must be discouraging for our troops that while they are suffering in this heat and risking their lives for us, our Congress is worrying about the costs of the wars in terms of dollars and cents and not lives. In the past few days, 13 Americans have been killed in attacks in Iraq and Afganistan.

After reading this article, I think I can manage to get through a few 90+ degree days with all the conveniences I have - air condioning, fans, pool. I also don't have to worry about stepping on a bomb or being shot at. Yes, we have it good.

Thank you Michael Daly for putting our little heat wave in perspective.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Food

Never go food shopping when you're hungry.

How many times have I heard that? How many times have I ignored that simple rule? On Monday I realized it was time for my monthly trip to the supermarket. I had two cans of cat food left, so it was time.

The store had some good deals. If I bought one package of split chicken breasts, I could get another package free. That was a good deal. Along with the chicken, I also picked up several freezer items. When I got home, I faced the challenge of fitting it all in the freezer. There was room for everything but the Lenders bagels. Oh well, they'll make a good breakfast.

I really went overboard in the produce aisle. All the fruit looked so good, and I just love all the summer fruits. Because I'm trying to eat more healthfully I bought peaches, nectarines, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. The plan is to make a fruit salad, which I haven't gotten around to yet. I also have a good recipe for a spinach and nectarine salad.

All my good intentions went out the window when I looked at the peaches this morning. I didn't think I'd get around to eating all those peaches, so there was only one solution. Bake a pie. Which I did.

It was delicious. However, just before it was quite done, some of the juice dropped down to a pan I keep in the oven for just such times. Suddenly, there was this ear piercing squeal throughout the house. Yes, I set off the smoke alarms. After I opened a window, all was quiet. But, it was so embarrassing. I hope none of my neighbors heard it.

At least I know that after six years my smoke alarm batteries still work.

Friday, June 3, 2011

BROOKLYN

There's a group in our community called, "Gals on the Go". They plan all kinds of interesting events and trips. Yesterday, we went to Brooklyn.
I spent a lot of time in Brooklyn when I was younger, but never at most of the spots we toured. The main part of the trip for me was a stop in Brooklyn Heights. This is a very, very expensive neighborhood and I've always wanted to visit, but somehow never got around to it. It is an historic district, some streets are closed to commercial traffic. It is the one of the earliest suburbs of NYC, many of the homes were built in the 1820's, some even before. Most of those homes also have wonderful views of Manhattan.


The above is a view of downtown Manhattan from the Promenade in the Heights. This next photo shows a building slightly to the right of center with what looks like two candles on the top. This is the new Freedom Tower which is being built on the site of the World Trade Center.

From the Promenade, we walked to the Pilgrims Church. This was Henry Ward Beecher's church and was a stop on the Underground Railroad. It's still an active church, some of the buildings house schools for the neighborhood children.

This statue of the Rev. Beecher shows him holding a mock auction of children as slaves. The local residents would "bid" on the "slaves" and the money paid would be used for their transportation on the rest of the trip to Canada.

After Brooklyn Heights, we rode around Park Slope, another affluent neighborhood. Back in the 50's and 60's you could have bought a brownstone house for about $15,000-$20,000. Now, you might be able to buy one if you had a few million dollars.

We drove past the Brooklyn Museum which has a very large collection of Egyptian artifacts. After the museum, we saw the Botanic Gardens which has more cherry trees than Washington DC. Then, we caught a glimpse of my high school, which wasn't part of the tour nor was it of interest to anyone else except me and another lady.

Then it was time for lunch at Juniors, another Brooklyn landmark. Yes, this is the Juniors of the famous cheesecake. And, it was delicious.

After lunch we visited Greenwood Cemetery, the final resting place of such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Miller and mob boss Albert Anastasio and regular people too. There is still room if you want to spend eternity there. It only costs $25,000.

This cemetery was established in the 1830's and is also the final resting place of more Civil War casualties than anywhere else in the US, even Gettysburg. This is the entrance.

Many of the masoleums were built into the hillsides and many of them were very elaborate.

There is a non-denominational chapel on the grounds. Since our visit was just after Memorial Day, there were many Civil War artifacts inside.

I guess this is the only place where a canon would fit, but I found it a rather odd spot for one, right in front of the altar.

There are three glacial lakes in the cemetery which comprises 478 acres. This is one of the lakes.

There are now plans to identify the graves of the Civil War casualties. There is a group of volunteers who go over the records, then try to find the original tombstones which may not be
easily visible. They then arrange for new headstones in the same place. Here are two that were found. They are two brothers who fought on opposite sides and didn't see each other until their final battle. They were both wounded and met in the hospital tent. They had a brief reunion and then died and were buried next to each other. I don't know which was a Union soldier and who was the Confederate soldier. I'm sure someone knows, but our guide didn't.


There is such an excitement and energy in New York and all the boroughs, that at times during the day and even since that I've regretted leaving New York. If I ever win the lotto, maybe I'll go back.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

There's Always a First Time


I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later and I just got complacent and careless.

This afternoon as I was about to go out to collect my mail, I hesitated at the door as I checked the weather to see if it was raining hard. There I was, the storm door open just a little when the black flash whizzed by as fast as his three good legs and one arthritic leg could go.

As soon as I realized that Burnie was about to make a run for freedom, I screamed and pulled the door shut. Unfortunately, Burnie was almost halfway through the door. I opened the door a little and pulled him back into the house. I felt terrible all afternoon. I checked him out and he doesn't seem to be hurt.

He spent the rest of the day sleeping which isn't at all unusual. I've never seen a cat sleep as much as he does. I've heard that lions in the wild sleep 20 out of 24 hours a day. Burnie seems to sleep more than that. He only wakes up to eat and check up on Crash and sleep in one of her favorite spots.

He does like to see what's on the other side of a door. In fact, that's how we got him as a kitten. The door was open and he just walked in and made himself at home. I really never thought he'd try to make a run for it. I'm usually very careful, now I'll have to be extra careful.

Maybe I should put a collar with his name and address around his neck in case his next attempt at escape is successful.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Question

There's something about today, Memorial Day, that I don't understand.

It's always been my understanding that the purpose of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was first known, is to remember those who have died in the many wars we have been involved in. Originally, the day was used to decorate with flags and flowers, the graves of those who died in the Civil War. Since this is a day to remember the dead, how can so many people wish a "Happy Memorial Day".

If a friend or relative died in a war, any war, and you are remembering him or her today, how can it be a "happy" day. Maybe, if you really stretch the meaning, it can be a happy day if you remember and thank the casualties of war for their efforts in preserving our freedoms, otherwise we should remember and thank the members of our armed forces, past and present, living and dead.

Maybe the day should be renamed Memorial Thank You Day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Frasier Trivia

Today I've spent a lot of time watching reruns of Frasier. I've always enjoyed that show, so much so that I actually laugh out loud. During the show, the announcer gives us some little bits of surprising trivia about the show and the actors.

I was surprised to hear that Eddie (the dog) got more fan mail than any other members of the cast. They also said that, in order to get Eddie to lick John Mahoney's face, a discreet layer of liver pate was put on John's face.

Prior to appearing on the show, David Hyde Pierce (Nils) had absolutely no interest in either wine or opera. He was taught to appreciate these things by none other than John Mahoney.

But, the biggest surprise and one that I didn't hear tonight was that the actor, Anthony LaPaglia, who played Daphne's brother who was always drunk and chasing women, is the same Anthony LaPaglia who appeared in Without a Trace.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Complainers

Some people have too much time on their hands.

We have a community blog. The person who started it is a complainer, I don't think there's much that goes on that he approves. I think it stems from the fact that he lost election to the Board way back in the early years of our community.

The blog does have its good points. Many people use it to get recommendations for car service, plumbers, painters, etc., but then there are the others.

Some of their complaints make sense - dog owners who don't pick up after their dogs and let them relieve themselves on other's property and drivers who seem to speed. The complaint that led me to write this started yesterday.

So many people started commenting on the fact that our lawns are growing quite tall. They felt that the landscaping company should have been around mowing the lawns. We've been having a lot of rain lately, a shower or two every day. The ground is not dry. I'm not a gardener, but even I realize that you just can't mow wet grass, it won't cut. Personally, I don't see what the big deal is, so what if the grass is "as high as an elephant's eye" (slight exaggeration). It's not that important. I did get one call that I enjoyed yesterday when I was working at the Clubhouse. A woman asked when the lawns would be cut because she has a very small dog and is afraid it will get lost in the grass. I told her they were starting to work on it and she was happy.

Unfortunately, most of the other residents weren't. My feeling is that if they don't like it, they should get out and mow the lawn themselves.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I'm a NY Chauvinist

Listening to the news coverage of the launch of the Endeavor this morning, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my son when NASA announced the sites that would be getting one of the space shuttle.

As he rattled off the names, the Intrepid, the Smithsonian, Kennedy and several others, I was speechless. For just a short while I couldn't understand why a shuttle would be going to the Intrepid in Manhattan and another going to Kennedy Airport in Queens, both locations in NYC. I was puzzled, but proud.

Then it dawned on me. The shuttle was going to the Kennedy Space Center, not Kennedy Airport. I guess we New Yorkers feel that everything revolves around New York.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hoarding

I spent most of today glued to my TV for a marathon of TLC's Hoarding: Buried Alive. I find this show fascinating for two reasons.

First, I can't understand how people can let themselves go so far and live with such clutter. Second, it scares me because I'm afraid that I could be like them. My garage is full of clutter and my office is strewn with paper. The rest of the house is fine and I'd like to keep it that way.

However, after watching an episode or two, I started making a list of things in my house that I have no use for and can easily live without. I went through my scarf drawer and decided to donate half of them to a charity. When I was working, I often wore scarves to dress up a plain blouse. I also have some old Corningware that I no longer use. I'm sure someone would put it to good use.

I'm inspired to clean up my act before I reach the point where I can't even sleep in my bed or eat a meal at the table.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Social Security Fix

I've been under the weather the past few days. Nothing serious, just a cold that is keeping me home in front of the TV and getting me on my soapbox.

I've been doing some thinking about Social Security and doing the math and have come to the following conclusion.

I think that a $5.00 cut in monthly SS benefits would be affordable and would result in annual savings of $2,210,447,160. After all, I think we could all cut $5.00 from our monthly expenses. That's a little more than $1.00 per week, about the price of a newspaper, ice cream treat, cookies, coffee, etc. Monthly, it's even less than a pack of cigarettes. Here's how I came to that conclusion.

The population of the United States is approximately 307,006,550. Of that amount, about 12% or 36,840,786 receive social security. If everyone's check were reduced by $5.00 per month, that would result in a savings of about $184,230,930 per month or $2,210,447,160 per year. Please feel free to check my math and let me know if I'm wrong.

While we're on the subject of social securiy, I have another thought that, while seemingly cruel, might save some money. There is no question that benefits should extend to workers who become disabled. I'm sure the payment procedure is the same as it was years ago when I first became aware of disability payments. The worker receives the full amount, each dependent child receives half of the worker's amount. I know of two cases of workers who were receiving disability payments who added to their family. One was a woman with a chronic illness who was discouraged from having children, but had two anyway. Naturally each child received half of her payment. The other was a man who was married with one child. He injured his back and couldn't work. That didn't prevent him from having another child who then received half of his payment. That just doesn't seem right. If you're too ill or disabled to work, you should not be adding to your family. If you want additional children, pay for them yourself. That was not the original plan for social security.

I have some thoughts on the tax situation, but I'll save them for another time. This was enough of a rant for today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Memories

This year my son celebrated a milestone birthday. Besides going out to Seattle to celebrate with him, I decided I really needed to find a very special present.

After much thought, I decided to make a video which I called, "This is Your Life". I had been scanning our old family pictures for a while so I went through them and selected some very old pictures of his grandparents, childhood and young adult pictures of my husband and me, and, of course baby, school and adult pictures of him.

I used Windows Live Movie Maker and assembled the pictures. Because I'm so impulsive when I get a good idea, I never took the time to correct some of the snapshots or clean up the very old pictures.

I decided to add music and initially chose Mantovani's "Long Ago andFar Away", then decided to add Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are". Unfortunately, Mantovani didn't want to go away so I had both songs playing simultaneously. Not a good mix. Back to the drawing board. I finally chose "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair" which I had never heard of but was in the music library on my laptop.

I forgot to mention that in the middle of the project, my computer crashed. Fortunately, my work was backed up by Carbonite, a true lifesaver. When I tried to save the work on a CD, I got a message that the CD was not valid. I had no choice, I had to ask for help from my son. I lied that I was doing something for his cousins. Eventually I got it saved and onto a DVD, or so I thought.

I gave him the DVD for his birthday, but was very disappointed the next day when he told me that he couldn't see it. Now, I could be honest with him and get the help I needed.

With his guidance I was able to burn a new DVD when I got home, then sent it out to him. He received it last week and enjoyed it.

In spite of the problems I had creating this video, I'm so glad I did it. I really surprised myself and my reaction. Sometimes, I just sit back, watch and take a trip down memory lane. I was very lucky, he was a very good baby, a good student and is a wonderful son. Those were the days my friend, such happy days. Sometimes I wish I could go back and do it all over again.