Saturday, August 25, 2007


As I approach another birthday, I am getting one year closer to being able to retire. There are so many decisions to be made. Do I wait for full retirement (a little over three years), wait for Medicare (a little over two years) or say the hell with it, take my chances and pick a date? I thought about checking out of the full-time workforce at 62, but that 25% cut in Social Security was impossible to deal with. The other alternative is to keep on going. There is some benefit to that. Besides the obvious, work keeps me busy, I actually enjoy going to work and it keeps me from being the neighborhood "cat lady".

I began to simplify several years ago. A lot of things went to the curb to become someone else's possession. I recently gave away most of the "dress clothes" (I kept the little black dress and the little red dress that has never been worn). There is all that calculating to figure how much money is needed to continue to live in the fashion I have been accustomed to - certainly nothing fancy and my tastes are simple. I have no burning desire to leave a monetary legacy for the kids - they already have best legacy - values and principles that have made them responsible adults - anything else they will have to get on their own. No fancy funeral - after all usable parts have been donated, the rest of me turns to ashes.

I would love to have the kids take the ashes up in a hot air balloon and release them over a lake or river somewhere. But heck, they can bury them in the back yard for all it really matters! Enough of that, I have no intention of being morbid at this point in my life. Life is good. I am healthy and have plenty of loving housemates. All four legged (with the exception of Libby, the three legged cat). I don't think I was cut out for two legged housemates. Too many complications!!!

Who knows what I will end up doing, I sure don't. I guess I will know when the time is right. I wonder if most people who reach "near retirement" age go through these internal arguments about the ultimate decision regarding retirement or is it just me? I am sure Me, Myself and I will have this discussion several times over the next couple of years. May even become a heated argument!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Deja Vu

Here in Peoria, Illinois, it seems like we are stuck in the 60's. There have been 15 homicides since the first of the year. This does not count a questionable shooting by Peoria's Finest. This situation has deepened the racial divide that has plagued the city for years. Any progress that may have been made, seems to have been wiped out. Negative steriotypes have replaced common sense. "Blame the victim" is the name of the game. Doesn't seem to matter if there is any reason for the blame.

The local "news rag" allows comments to be posted. These have often turned into vile slurs, veiled threats (some not so veiled) and White Supremacy rhetoric. Families of the victim are ignored, to a great extent. I, for one, hope they never read the posts as they would serve to be knives to the heart of a grieving family. Eventually, some of the posts are pulled, but not before the damage is done.

The cold-blooded murders in Newark, NJ points to the fact that the problems are wide spread and not limited to one race. Every death is sad. Death due to violence lends the additional sadness of the dark side of racial unrest and the impact of gangs / drugs on our daily lives.

There aren't enough police anywhere to stop someone who is determined to perpetrate violence. Line the street with officers and someone will get shot in the alley. Parental responsibility - only works when the parents are actually responsible and the youth is willing to listen.

Eventually, personal responsibility must become an issue. It is tempting to offer solutions, but to do so is ridiculous. If there were a single problem, it might be possible. There are many problems and each violent situation involves a diverse set of problems. My responsibility is to become involved, to report what I see - from truancy, curfew violation to "man with a gun". I understand the silence, but without a community wide voice that says, "enough is enough", no change will happen. Let us rise together to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, then let us take the the personal action that says we mean it! There are many agencies and churches that have programs that could make a difference. It doesn't always take money, but it does take time!