Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

2008 is rapidly coming to a close. I have hung the Big Grid 2009 calendar and pitched 2008. Medical appointments for 2009 have been written in the planner. Less than 2 hours until 2009 and I am ready!

All the news programs have done their "Year in Review" programming and New Year's at Time Square is beginning the count down. I have tried to do my own "Year in Review", but haven't gotten very far. It is really hard to look backwards. I do better at looking forward. Each day I can only begin where I am. There is a lot that I look forward to in 2009.

In 2009, I will become eligible for Medicare!
In 2009, my son and his wife will celebrate their 15th anniversary - neither of my marriages lasted that long!
In 2009, my beautiful grand-daughter will turn 4. Time goes really fast.
In 2009, my daughter will make me a Grandma for the second time!
In 2009, I will celebrate 12 years of being cancer free.
In 2009, my old cat, Smokey, will turn 20 years old. I hope he makes it to his birthday. Since I have no idea when that actually is, I just add a year when he goes in for his shots. That will be in September.
In 2009, I will increase my savings a little. With the downturn of the economy and pending retirement within the next couple of years this is important. This is not a resolution, because I never keep resolutions!
In 2009, I will celebrate life!

2008 has been a good year. Friendships have deepened and new friendships are growing. Going to work is still an enjoyable experience and coming home from work is also good. I truly feel that I am in a good place in life. I find very little to complain about - at least not much that really matters.

Happy New Year to All. Make 2009 be all that it can be for you and yours!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bah! Humbug!

I am ready. Ready for January 2nd, that is. From before Halloween, Christmas decorations and music can be found in stores. Thanksgiving - turkey and all the fixings, with too many people forgetting to remember all that they have to be thankful for. Christmas is breakfast with Santa and lots of presents under the tree. Maybe there is a manger scene on display somewhere in the home, but each year it seems that the deeper meaning of Christmas gets lost in the gift wrap.

With no little ones at home anymore, I don't decorate. I tried to pawn some of the old decorations off this past weekend, but they are all right where they were, either in the basement or in the storage closet upstairs. With cats in the house, no tree is safe. I got tired of setting it back up after three or four cats decided to climb the Christmas tree.

I am also rather lazy. I don't like going to all the fuss and then just having to take it all down and pack it away again. I can look out the window and see all the decorations I need to see.

New Year's Eve is amateur night. The safest place to be is at home. Resolutions that won't last until January 5th get tossed around. Mine don't usually last beyond January 5th, anyway.

I enjoy the Holidays. I really do. Seeing Grandbaby's (Angie - now age 3) eyes light up at seeing the tree and the presents, enjoying family visits, seeing a favorite seasonal movie for the umpteenth time, reading the Christmas Letter from people I truly care about and all the other things that make this time of year special. I am just glad to see the Holidays over with!

January 2nd, life gets back to normal. People at work stop taking vacation days. Even though winter just starts toward the end of December, there is something about January that says Spring is just around the corner. After all, there is February and by the end of March, it is Spring!

Ah, Spring - tulips and daffodils, the odor of lilacs in the air.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's Over, Folks!

November 4, 2008 has passed. So, has November 5th. The election is over, but the bitterness continues. Name calling and derogatory comments can be found everywhere. The prognosticators predict doom for the newly elected that were not their choice for office. Swearing in ceremonies have not even happened yet, but from local to state to national, the newly elected are already being counted on to be failures.

We are Americans, citizens of the United States. I am proud to have had the privilege and the right to cast my votes. Some of "my candidates" won, some did not. But the election is over!

We may have different views of the world and what is fair, but that does not make any of us stupid, dumb, non-thinking, lazy, motivated, brilliant, thoughtful or any other adjective one wants to throw in the discussion. There is no broad brush that paints us like any other person. We are individuals who had our personal reasons for voting as we did.

Thank goodness for elections and term limits!

Friday, October 31, 2008


I would really like to meet this "Person" named anonymous. Seems that quite often I will be reading someone's blog and Anonymous has posted a comment. I read the comment and usually think, "why did Anonymous feel the need to say that?" My blog is not normally controversial, so Anonymous doesn't generally post here. And even though there are a number of blog readers that don't agree with me on an issue or two (maybe more than that), Anonymous still goes elsewhere to post.

I have a standard that I hold for myself. Only me, I do not want anyone else to be held to the standard, unless they want to be. I use my "Name" - Ramble On or just Ramble everywhere I post. If I am embarrassed or afraid to attach my name to my words, I don't type the words. I can get testy sometimes and occasionaly fall of into shades of a passive/agressive personality, but I still attach my name. Sometimes I even start a comment and then not post it because I know I would not be comfortable reading it two days later.

I don't know about anyone else, but if I have something to say to someone, my name will be attached. If for what ever reason I can't attach my name, I won't make the post.

Civility isn't dead, it is just wounded a little.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I Ordered Mine!

Launch party for the new CD released by Musique Noire was held Friday night. I really wish that I could have been in Detroit to attend. This is the second group that my daughter, Leah has recorded with. The first being Dannsair's CD release Rias Medias. Great Irish music from a band in Santa Barbara, CA. But now she is in Detroit and a different group and a different genre of music. Jazz and ethno-centric music with strings and percussion. I listened to some of the tracks and ordered my copy. Hopefully it will be shipped soon!

Friday, October 17, 2008

That Time of The Year

It's that time of the year again. The time when the reality of old houses really hits. The storm windows have been closed (at least most of them). The plastic for the windows has been brought up from the basement. This year's supply was purchased late last winter when they were on clearance. I have started putting the plastic on the windows. Good thing vacation time has come and I can finish before the weather really gets cold. I have put insulation around and over the basement window that is near the water pipes and the old coal shute opening.

From the looks of the weather forecast, Sunday may be a good day to get outside to put some caulk and plastic on a few windows. The rest of next week looks like rain and inside work, like sealing off the spare bedroom.

Need to clean up the electric water bowl for the dogs and get a new supply of bedding for them. They become inside dogs when it gets really cold, but they still spend a lot of time outside.

So many little things to do, like flip the switch to reverse the ceiling fans.

I think I will get a new thermostat.

Time to hunker down and prepare for winter and all the glory that is mid-western winter time.

Damn, where did I put that snow shovel?

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Although I have been a Grandma for almost 3 years, I finally feel like a Grandma! I received an e-mail asking if it would be possible for me to come down and watch Angie from mid-day Saturday until mid-day Sunday. Now, I know I have a granddaughter and Angie knows she has a Mamaw, but we live 90 miles apart and don't see each other all that often. She has often been shy when I see her. She warms up, but it takes a bit.

It has been a long time since I have been alone with a three year old for any length of time. I must say, it went well. Even though I watched more Sponge Bob than I care to talk about! We played (rocks and flower petals are wonderful objects), went to the park, went for a walk (actually, I pulled her in the little red wagon), walked again (this time she pedaled the Big Wheel), looked at photographs and watched videos, among other things.

This Grandma business is pretty cool!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Reality Sucks!

Reality brushed against desire and knocked it flat. No more silent discussions between Me, Myself and I. Since I am generally practical and logical, the only decision that could be made is that there is no way I can retire this year. Financially, I could have scraped by or looked for a part time job, but I don't like scraping by. The real clincher was insurance. I have pretty good coverage now and I don't want to be without it for a year.

It is actually liberating to have made a decision. Most days, I actually like my job and the last 12 months have gone quickly. I figure the next 12 to 14 months will fly by too.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thank You

By nature, I am quite shy and pretty much a hermit. It is not that I like being a hermit, I just am. I don't drink, so that has kept me out of the bar scene. I like my job, but have to work at not becoming a "workaholic" because it is my major outlet.

That has been changing over the last eight months or so. Through one local forum I came in cyber-contact with a small group of "liberal thinkers" who were not afraid to voice their opinions and some less liberal thinkers who were tolerant of others. Through a second local forum, a good number of those folks have become friends.

If attending my first Blogger Bash was venturing out of my "safe zone", attending my first Friday Night Happy Hour was a "full steam ahead" leap of faith. From Happy Hours, to breakfast, brunch, lunch, house parties, a ball game, karaoke, a campaign event to a "Corn Boil"; I have been places and done things that I probably would not have done by myself. I could have done them, I just would not have!

A realization really hit yesterday while sitting at the German-American Corn Boil at Hickory Grove Park - my friends add a great deal of pleasure to my life and I would like to thank them for helping me crawl out of my self-imposed shell.

Life is good, thanks, guys!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


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I really like buffet restaurants and wish Peoria had one besides those serving pizza or Home Town. I was disappointed with my last trip to Golden Corral in Washington. That being said, I like the Bonanza in Lincoln. Nothing fancy, just good food. The hot roll and fresh, warm chocolate chip cookies are to die for. It was crowded today. Lincoln was out in full force. It was a little more crowded since we used it as a meeting place. My son and his family came up from Oreana and my daughter, her SO and I met them there. I thought on the way down, I should have called my sisters and nieces who live within easy driving distance. Next time, perhaps.

Lovely day for a drive.

What Fun!!!

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Picked up this idea from a friend and have been playing with it ever since. Such a great way to pass along information. I will take the camera today and see what transpires. Look out kids!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What Are They Doing?

Coming in from putting the dogs in the garage the other night, I saw these slugs (snails with no shells) on the back step. These things were huge! Interesting critters, but they seemed far more interested with each other than with me.

Thank goodness! Carry on!

Darned If I Ddn't Get Tagged

Good grief! I have been reading other blogs and have been seeing folks get "tagged" to give six random thoughts about themself. I was breathing pretty easy until I checked here today and noticed that I had been tagged by Katie! O.K., six random thoughts:

1. I like driving my little, red, 5-speed pick-up during the summer.
2. I mowed my back yard today.
3. Leah will be home next weekend.
4. I will be glad when the national election is over with.
5. I like Schwan's Raspberry Rumble ice cream.
6. Retirement cannot come soon enough.

There I did it! Now how do I get these random thoughts from running through my brain!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blogger Bash Last Night

It was an interesting night last night. The Blogger Bash was well attended. Many of the usually faces, some new ones and some visitors who got caught up in the excitement of the evening. A few photos of the event.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I remember listening to the radio and watching television and being introduced to a woman who was knowledgeable and well spoken. She gave the agricultural news and farm report. Her style made you want to listen. I was reintroduced to Colleen Callahan again this past Friday. Again, I found her knowledgeable and well spoken - on issues much broader than agriculture. The Fish Fry (Walleye) was well attended. The event was quite casual. Lots of jeans and shorts to be seen. The crowd was enthusastic in their support of the candidate. I knew Ms. Callahan had accompanied Ann Veneman (former Secretary of Agriculture) on a trip to Afghanistan and Iraq, but didn't know much concerning her stance on current issues - so it was time to do a little research.

I found video of her canidacy announcement. I watch all four segments and could not find anything she said that I disagreed with.

The links to the video can be found in the side bar on the left at this site:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Well, I was glad!

Temperatue is 84, but the heat index is 92 and it is almost 8:30 PM. The three ceiling fans are on and I just moved the small wind machine a little closer. The big air conditioner is still covered in plastic from last winter and the little one for Leah's bedroom is sitting on the floor in her room. Since I do not have stock in AmerenCilco, I refuse to pay them any more than I have to! Actually, it is not too bad in the house as long as I don't move too much or too quickly. I keep at least one ceiling fan on all night so I can keep Smokey more comfortable. He does not seem to be suffering from the heat, but who knows.

Summer is not my favorite season. I much prefer Spring and Fall. I even prefer Winter to the heat and humidity of Summer. I just hope I remember that thought in January.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Yea, Summer!

The gardens grow and burst into color. I need to find a sunny spot to plant the starts of moon flowers that I received Wednesday. Someday, there will simply be a small path in the front yard with no need to mow at all. The back yard belongs to the dogs, except where I have fenced the flowers to protect them a little.

The front yard belongs to me!

The peonies have come and gone, but almost every day, something new opens to add the the view. I don't plant annuals. I like things that either self-seed or are perennials. I really like the native flowers. Purple coneflowers and black-eyed Susan's being my favorites. Science has messed with Mother Nature and produced some new colors of coneflowers. The white ones and the yellow ones have not bloomed yet. I did not invest in the new orange one. Give them a few years and the price will come down or someone will give me seeds.
Hollyhocks and lots of old fashioned day lilies dot the yard, both front and back.

No exotics!

Mother Nature doesn't need exotics to paint a lovely picture. My theory is that a weed is a flower that is growing somewhere that you do not want it. Even the clover that has taken over the back yard and the Creeping Charlie that tries to take over everywhere.

How does my garden grow? Anyway it wants to!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Taking Charge, Again!

I stocked up on fruit at the store tonight and got the makings for another pot of cabbage soup since I finished off a pot of it earlier this evening. It seems that I have spent my life on one diet or another. I've done T.O.P.S. and Weight Watchers. I tried Adkins and South Beach. I almost did the Zone. Time to go back to what works for me - grazing! Nibbling on fresh fruit and veggies all day and eating something decent at night. But I have to get to that point and a pot of cabbage soup helps. Thank goodness I do not have to cook for anyone but me and I do not mind eating the same thing several days in a row.

People who did not know me 10 years ago may raise an eyebrow at the extreme measures, but at that point of time, the scales screamed 210 and I was squeezing into a size 20. My knees hurt and the arthritis in the hips was getting worse. Mirrors were torture! I didn't start losing weight because I tried. The mouth sores from chemotherapy made it impossible to eat anything with more texture that Cream of Tomato soup. When I was able to eat again, the taste buds had changed and sweet stuff made me sick at my stomach, whether it was chocolate or pancake syrup, it didn't matter. That eventually went away.

When I started eating again, I started Adkins. I still don't eat pasta, white bread, peas or corn. I seldom eat potatoes (except sweet potatoes - yum). Adkins worked, but I wanted more fresh fruits and veggies, so I went more toward South Beach. Eventually, I got too thin (same weight as at the end of 5th grade - 128, bottomed out at 125). I added some carbs and fortunately the metabolism had changed. I gained a little and felt much better. But a problem started.

Good metabolism, weight stabilized, oh goody I can have a donut. And if a donut, why not a handful of cookies, and....the rest is history. I decided to try to fool myself and give myself a "ten pound range". Not more than 5 pounds over or under 130, then 135 and finally 140. Found myself breaking the 145 limit on a regular basis and hanging clothes that would no longer fit in the back of the closet. What was next? Either buy new clothes and deal with the consequences of weight or "get a grip". I choose to get a grip.

Summer is a great time - strawberries, cherries, watermelon, cantaloupe added to the usual apples, oranges and bananas. Toss in a tangerine or pineapple and the eating is good. Not to mention the fresh veggies.

And I really like celery with peanut butter.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Never Thought I Would See The Day

Much has been made of coincidences that have happened throughout history. There is now a new one to add to the list. I heard it briefly on the news last night and had to check it out. I have not heard it again, at least not yet, but I sure find it interesting. No, it is beyond interesting, it actually gives me "goosebumps".

I have never hidden the fact that I am left of center politically and a supporter of Barack Obama. But I really think I would find this coincidence interesting even if I were not.

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and delivered the "I Have A Dream" speech. The last part of that speech has always given me the hope that someday, we as a nation, would move beyond the issue of race.

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."

I have a dream today.
MLK, Jr. 8/28/1963

Forty-five years later, on August 28, 2008, Barack Obama will step to the podium in Denver, Colorado and accept the Democratic Party's nomination as their candidate for President of the United States. Is the dream really alive?

Regardless of how the election turns out, history has been made. Even more amazing is the fact that history would have been made regardless of which final Democratic candidate had won! A woman? An African-American male? Wow!

Saturday, May 17, 2008


As difficult as it is, I am having to prepare for the ultimate demise of "the grand old man", my cat, Smokey. He is getting on in years. It is difficult to remember a time when he was not with me. To the best of my memory, he came into our lives in 1990. One of the clients where I worked brought him inside. He had been roaming the neighborhood and she was afraid that he would get hit. I decided to keep him. I went to pick my daughter up from school and she was thrilled to see him. It was only a short time after her father and I divorced and getting a kitty was right on time. Leah named him Smokey. He was full grown, at least a year old. That makes him at least 19 years old now.

Although he is not sick (may have some problems, but did not run the blood tests), but I took him to the Vet for a check-up. It is still six months until he is due for his rabies shot. There have been some changes. He no longer tries to eat dry food, he no longer jumps up on counters or tables and the pupils of his eyes do not change.

Although she does not know for sure, the Vet thinks that he is now blind. I have been running moist food and milk through the food processor to make a smooth consistency food for him. He eats on the back porch away from the rest of the animals. Today I bought a liquid nutritional supplement to dilute the food. That darn stuff is almost $8.00 for a little can that needs to be thrown out after 72 hours. Good thing it says it can be frozen. I put most of the open can in an ice cube tray to freeze.

He is still feisty. He tried to bite and scratch during the physical (no front claws, but he knows how to use the back ones). They would have had to sedate him to do a thorough exam. He earned the name "Attack Cat" and I have the scars to prove it. Last year, he was sedated to get some mats trimmed and it took him a long time to recuperate from the sedation - even had to spend the night at the Vets.

Smokey has been through the good times and the bad times with us. As difficult as it was to lose Leo and Skyler, I cannot imagine how it will be to lose Smokey. It sure will not be the same around here. Hopefully, he will be around for quite a while longer, but I know the time is coming.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Words are not really needed! We get visitors every now and then. They are a joy to watch. There were actually four of them, but could not get them all in the same shot.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Cards

It is always nice to get a card, but it is twice as nice when you can tell that a "special card" was selected. You know when someone grabbed the first one they saw and when there was a search.

From my Son:
For Mom
From your grateful son
For understanding
how I am,
for liking me
the way I am,
and for helping me
be who I am....
Thanks, Mom.
Happy Mother's Day

From my Daughter:
You did the work
of two parents
with the time
and energy
of one.
I know it wasn't easy
being there for me
the way you always were,
but it still means a lot to me...
And I don't just love you for it -
I double-love you.
Wishing you
the kind of wonderful
Mother's Day
you deserve, Mom.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms!

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Gifts

My last post got me thinking - as proud as I am of my daughter, I am equally proud of my son. Brian struggled through school, he was very bright, but just couldn't get the knowledge transferred to paper. He struggled but he graduated! Give him a clock or anything mechanical and he could take it apart and put it back together with no problem at all. Welding, shop classes - he excelled.

I have to admit that I worried about his being impulsive at times - how about being involved in setting a fire in a U.S. Post Office collection box, climbing a TALL, old fashioned TV antenna at age two (ending up on top of the two story farm house we lived in) or pulling out of a parking lot in front of a truck (he was on a bicycle) and ending up with a broken arm. The list goes on!

He would tease his little sister with no mercy. She could not walk past him without getting poked, pinched or tickled. But, he finally grew up!

He still takes things apart and puts them back together. Assembling sky-climbers and and other large construction equipment. One example was the equipment that hung the Chase sign on the "old Bank One" building. He is in a stable marriage (since 1994) to a great gal and is the proud Papa of an adorable two-year old. It has been a great joy to watch him become a husband and Daddy!

Again, a gift identified, encouraged, supported and appreciated.

I am so proud of my kids!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rant & Rave

Rant & rave? Well no. The rant has been done, and I agree with much of it, but I am not going to rave either. I will just tell my blog a little about a success story. My daughter attended pre-K and Kindergarten at Hines and Franklin. The applications came out for the first classes to be held under the banner of Roosevelt Magnet School. The application was quickly filled out and returned. Leah was lucky. She was one of 47 "minority" students selected from outside the Roosevelt attendance area. She started first grade there the first year that the magnet program opened. They put a violin in that little first graders hands and the rest is history. She had always enjoyed her dance classes, but making music entered her soul - band (clarinet), orchestra and string ensemble (viola), jazz band (keyboard) and Treble Choir. She sang a solo for 8th grade graduation. Right after graduation, the Treble Choir went on a European tour! We got donations and I borrowed money, but music took her to Europe!!!

High school started and off to Woodruff she went. Again, band, orchestra, chorus and Jazz All-Stars. A trip to New Orleans for a band performance, a trip to the White House for a choral performance, strutted her stuff in plays and speech team and a second trip to Europe with the Jazz All-Stars. Heck, I have been as far as Windsor, Ontario Canada when it comes to being outside the U.S.A.

Off to Roosevelt University (Chicago College of Music) after high school. Darned if the orchestra didn't get the chance to go to Japan to perform! Graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree. She stayed in Chicago for another year before finding the teacher she wanted to study with. Only thing was, she had to pack up and move to Santa Barbara, CA to do it!! So she did. She worked for a year in order to establish residency, then started at Univ. of CA, Santa Barbara. Leah completed her Master of Music, Viola performance there. She stayed in California and worked at the university for a year until she decided to move to Detroit (for matters of the heart).

She is still doing music!

Moral of the story - my version. Every child has a gift. It is the responsibility of the parent (most of this time, I was a single parent) and the education system to find and nurture that gift. Whether it is music or math, engineering or plumbing, art or ditch digging, it is important to encourage, support and nurture "the Gift". I spent a lot of time being part of an audience and many District #150 educators and administrators encouraged and supported her efforts. It has not been that long since she graduated from District #150, many, if not most, of the problems that exist today were there then. Was it easy? No! Can it be done? Yes! It is up to the parent(s) to do their part - too many don't.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Me, Myself and I

Me, Myself and I have been holding a discussion, should I say argument? Retire - don't retire - retire - don't retire. The discussion has gone from one extreme to another. I think we have reached a decision (at least for now). The question has gone from "if" to "when". It has to be no later than December 31st. If I wait until January 1st, it severely impacts the number of vacation days that I would get a pay-out for. The discussion now is, do I want the pay-out in 2008 or 2009? I am starting to lean toward a 2008 pay-out. That way, I can pay my taxes and have it over with and it will not impact the amount I can earn in 2009 without losing part of the Social Security. Either way, they take taxes out of it, but it is a nice chunk of change!

Can't retire before November 1st, since I have to wait until the first month after my birthday so the cut in Social Security is not as bad (13 1/2% vs. 20%). I plan to live long enough to more than make up for the cut. There is risk involved. I will be without insurance for several months until Medicare kicks in and COBRA is too darned expensive. I will have to explore a private insurance for catastrophic illness, even though I have been very healthy for the last 11 years or so and take very only two prescriptions and one of them is $4.00 at Kroger's and the other one I can live without until it goes generic.

I will also be looking for part-time employment (something easy and with little or no stress). I can make it on Social Security and pension, but I like to "play" now and then!

Seven months! The countdown is on!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Meet Number 9

One of my older cats died on December 13th. I missed her and could not get accustomed to saying that I had eight cats. I had said nine for so long. I started making weekly trips to PAWS to find another feline that would say, "Take me home, please!" Patience paid off! A beautiful, long haired cat (previously named Moocow) had been surrendered by his owner. Sad for her, great for me. Not sure about his new name, but a friend suggested Zorro - with the mask and cape, that name may just stick. Since most names around here get shortened to something that end in "ie or ey". Zorrey sounds pretty good. I think I like it. He is estimated to be eight months old. He is going to be a big boy.

Right now he is in isolation in my daughter's bedroom until he mends from having been neutered and we are rid of the ear mites that came with him. This evening was the first time I have seen ear mites under the microscope. Ugly critters! I have had an ear mite infestation with the cats before, and with my brood, it takes a spread sheet to make sure all of them get their treatment every other day. I do not want to have to do it again. If I have to, of course I will.

I will have to renew my promise to family members that I will not become the Crazy Cat Lady of the East Bluff! Or will I?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Middle Class and Bitter

Since it is just me, I am middle class, at least I think I am. If I had a kid or two at home, I wouldn't be. Heck yes, I am bitter. I am bitter that funding has not allowed for proper testing of toys and children have been placed at risk of additional lead poisoning. I am bitter that funding has not allowed for proper inspection of meat & other food products and people have become ill and died. I am bitter that so many people are losing their homes to forclosure and thereby decreasing the value of my home. I am bitter that people I care about are facing their companies going out of business or moving out of country. I am bitter when I watch my meager retirement nest egg shrink. I am bitter that I may very well have to continue working long beyond retirement age.

I proudly admit that I am liberal. Not a bleeding heart, but liberal. I believe that marriage is a religious ritual with legal implications and that a religious group has the right to say who it will and will not preform the religious ritual for. I also believe that same-sex couples have the right to have the legal aspects of their relationship recognized through a civil union ceremony. I strongly favor abstinence and adoption, but also believe I do not have the right to stop other women from being able to make a very difficult decision for themself. I do not own a gun, never have and don't plan to, but I have no problem with someone else legally owning a gun.

I am angry and bitter that so many jobs have left the U.S. I am angry, frustrated and bitter that the educational system in our country is lagging behind in math and science. I am angry and bitter that the fine arts and even driver's training are being dropped from school curriculums.

To deny being bitter that my children, grand-children, great-grand-children and probably more generations will be paying off the current national debt would be is impossible. It is time that we take the veil of secrecy (denial) off and deal with the anger, furstration and bitterness that many of us deal with on a daily basis. Recognizing the bitterness is not elitist, it is realist. Catherine Crier pegged it pretty well.

Yes, I am middle class and I am bitter!

Thursday, April 10, 2008


My Field of Dreams

It has not been a bad week at work, nor has it been a good week. As most weeks are, it has been frustrating. Don't get me wrong, I love my job. I just wish the funding was there to do my job! We are in the cross-hairs of disaster. For the last several years, we have been funded at 85% of what it actually takes to run the place and top that off with the wisdom of Congress that tells us we must operate as if we were a private business. We will not know our actual funding level for 2008 until probably October. Again, how many private businesses could function?

On one hand, running as a private business, is an excellent idea. More control (not enough, but more) of the budget, more freedom to experiment with cost-cutting measures, more control of inventory and cost are some of the advantages. I also like the accountability that goes with it. The big disadvantage is starting out in the hole. How many "private businesses" could function; let alone survive, if they started off with 15% less funding than what the realistic budget called for.

Maintenance staff has been cut all the way to the bone marrow! I frequently say that we are holding it together with bubble gum and Band Aids. Furnaces and water heaters need to be replaced. Wood trim needs to be painted. And that is just the beginning of the laundry list of repairs and maintenance I want to do. I would love to replace playground equipment equipment. Thank goodness, the Dream Center and Mission Peoria painted our old equipment last summer. It looks better, but it is about played out!! Their painting of the fence was a great help, too.

I look out one of our office windows at the open space and beautiful view of the Illinois River and dream of what could be. I will be retired long before those dreams become any kind of reality. I know all the comments that are made about Taft Homes and public housing in general. Let me assure you that the view from the inside is quite different from the perceptions. Of course, there are problems, but there are also many hard working families. Just like in other neighborhoods. I look at the development at RiverWest. That development began with the HOPE VI grant in 1997. It is still beautiful and well maintained, despite the calamity that was predicted. I look at the new development at Harrison Homes with envy. Again, the naysayers will make their predictions. I have real hope for that redevelopment; the new school and other growth (improvements) that may very well come as the city develops south of downtown. Time, investment and dedication can accomplish a great deal.

I love my job, I really do.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Opening Gala

What an evening! I just returned home from the Opening Gala of a wonderful art exhibit at the Contemporary Arts Center on Water Street. The artists? Three, four and five year olds from Riverview Gardens, the preschool located at Taft Homes, created the wonderful pieces of art.

Early in the school year, the children took a field trip (walking all the way) to Hardin's exhibit at WTVP. Their amazement was so great, that oil painting has been incorporated into all forms of learning this year - the colors of nature, making letters, telling stories, exploring emotions. From the blank page of one young artist to his final portrait of his mother, the journey has been amazing.

The children and their parents were there. The parents full of pride in their children and in the gala event they had helped plan and set-up for. There was a nice crowd when I left and there was still an hour to go. The exhibit moves to WTVP where it will be on display for a month.

Believe it or not, I find many joys working at Taft Homes, but this was one of the best.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Do I Need to Apologize?

I don't think I need to apologize and therefore, I won't. I admit, I am a Wal-Mart kind of person. My favorite uniform is jeans and sweats. No one has to shop there and for those who think boycotts will help, go for it. Do I like all their business practices? No, I don't. But they are legal actions. Clothes from China or Bangladesh? Check labels at Bergner's or Macy's - you will find them there too.

Reclaiming insurance money? Not nice, but very legal. Would other corporations sue to return the funds? Of course they would, and they have.

Sorry, but an orange is an orange. When my choice for oranges is $.50 or $.88 each, guess which one I am choosing? But then there are other items. I have never bought meat from Wal-Mart - seems like it is more expensive and seldom on sale. Mostly the meat comes from Kroger's. Dog and cat food from Wal-Mart.

I drive a KIA - Enough said.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Oh, How True

Funny e-mails land in the "You've Got Mail" box all the time. Sometimes I share them with a person or two, but this one takes the cake. It deserves to be seen. It helps to explain "Mars vs. Venus. And it made me laugh. That is the best part, being able to step back and take a look in the mirror. Enjoy! (cut and paste the link)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

It's Coming!

March 2nd, a high temperature of 69 degrees. At 7 PM it is still 61 degrees. I know it is just a tease since temperatures fall back into the 30's for the week ahead and some snow is still in the forecast. It was still great to turn the furnace all the way off today, to open a window and let the fresh air come through. The plastic came off four windows - a show of real optimism. Eighteen days until the Vernal Equinox. Yes, today is just a tease, but spring is coming! I think people are ready! I know I am! Welcome Spring!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Milestone Anniversary

I have "celebrated" my 10th anniversary. My life changed, strangely for the better, in September 1997. That is when I heard three very scary words, "you have cancer". Thoughts raced through my mind. The one that stuck was, "How do I tell my kids, especially my daughter?" She was only 17 and had already lost her father to lung cancer. The Radiologist met with me and help me find the right words.

It had been my daughter who insisted I go to the Doctor in the first place. I had not been for twelve years! Everything was fine until I was called back for a second set of mammograms. Then off for sonograms and eventually the dreaded needle biopsy.

Appointments with the radiation doctor, the oncologist and ultimately the final meeting with the surgeon. The Radiologist and the Oncologist had both been quite optimistic. It was with the Surgeon I had a problem. Despite the course of treatment recommended by the first two, the surgeon made the mistake of saying the word "mastectomy". At that time, I uttered words that I couldn't believe I said. I have always had a great deal of respect for Doctors and I guess I felt they were doing me a favor by seeing me.

No more! I said and I quote, "If you want to continue to talk to a rational, reasonable human being, you will not say that word again." I had been told that through radiation, chemotherapy and tamoxifin afterwards that the prognosis was good. I told the surgeon that there would be a lumpectomy and I would follow the recommended course of treatment. If cancer returned, we would talk about more extreme treatment then.

Surgery was October 7, 1997. Three tiny lumps were malignant, but the lymph nodes were clear! Chemo was an experience. Horrible mouth sores, no matter how many ice chips I ate. Lived on tomato soup for a long time. I actually liked the bald look and have pretty much kept the hair short since. Radiation went smoothly, no severe burns. Other than five days in the hospital when the hemoglobin went "south" (thank goodness for blood transfusions and Procrit). Things were good. Don't know if it happens to other women of a "certain age", but the treatment threw me right through the "change of life" with no symptoms.

Afterwards, I have taken much better care of myself. I visit the Doctors when I should, I keep active and the weight under control. I have learned that unless I put myself first, I have no room for others and without others, there is nothing.

Lessons learned:
1. Kids are smart, listen to them.
2. A Doctor is your employee, not a god.
3. Attitude is everything.
4. Refuse to be intimidated, speak up.

Happy belated anniversary to me!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Live and Let Live!

It is all around us, the center of many discussions. Whether it is the political pundits, news broadcasters and common citizens. Can a Mormon be elected President? Creation vs. evolution. Pro-life vs. Pro-choice. A Baptist minister (and Arkansas Governor) making sure the "Religious Right" has their voice heard. Separation of Church and State (or is it church from state). No prayer in schools - but a required "moment of silence" instead. Moslems are feared, even when an individual has done nothing wrong. Hell's Fire and damnation befalls all who do not believe that The Bible is the unaltered word of God.

I choose my behavior, thoughts and deeds. Not because I am looking for the "salvation of my immortal soul" but because I believe in doing what I think is right. I make mistakes and make bad decisions, but the "devil" did not make me do it. Seems to me that the athiests and agnostics are far more willing to listen to alternative views.

Tolerance? Acceptance? Where are they?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Milestone Day!

Most of the groundhogs live outside the perimeter fence at work, but last summer, one decided to move. He dug his burrow under a sidewalk at the office. We had a great deal of fun watching him, especially on warm days when he would sun himself on the sidewalk. The guys at work named him Roger.

By the end of summer, Roger grew tired of humans and moved back to the berm outside the fence with the rest of his family.

The great thing about "Groundhog's Day" is the fact that whether or not the groundhog sees its' shadow, spring is on the way! Right now, the ground is covered with snow, but it will not be long before early daffodils and tulips will be peeking through the earth and trees will be budding.

Mid-western winters make Groundhog's Day is certainly a day to celebrate!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Collected Notes

I grew up in a home where Mother had a saying for almost everything. Some were true words of wisdom, some cliches and some just plain mush. Many of them have worked their way into my mind and heart. Over the years, additional ones have been added. It used to shock me when I would hear myself saying the same phrases to my kids. Now that they are adults, I hope some of the sayings give the same direction to their lives as they have given to mine.

Back in my teen years, I had a trigger-temper. At one point, I lashed out at my oldest sister to the point that she was packing to cut short her visit home and go back to the college campus in Indiana. Fortunately, we were able to reconcile before she actually left. Not long after that, I saw a small post-card like joke card that said, "Keep your temper, no one else wants it!" One of those "Ah-ha" moments. I carried that card for a long time and have not lost my temper like that again. Doesn't mean that I do not get angry, I just deal with it differently than I did then.

Also in the teen years, I found a copy of a poem that has been the guiding light for my life ever since. It is familiar to most people .
"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."
I first saw it as written by Anonymous. I have since seen it credited to a couple of authors. Whoever wrote it, I cannot thank them enough. Those few words have lit my path, both personally and professionally.

Life has good days and bad days. I try not to wallow in the bad days! "No matter what is happening, this is not the worst it has ever been!" I made it through all those other days: divorce, death of loved ones, job loses, career changes, cancer diagnosis, etc. and I can make it through today if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other - sometimes just to keep from falling down!

Pollyanna? Maybe. If so, it is how I choose to be. "How much difference will it make six-months from now?" If it will not make much of a difference, I won't give it much thought and certainly no argument. If it will make a difference, I will do whatever is in my power to address the issue so there is minimal impact on a future reality. I worked in the substance abuse treatment field for a number of years and it is sort of a short version of the Serenity Prayer.

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

One of Mom's favorites was, "There but for the grace of God, go I." Those few words have kept me from thinking that I am better than anyone else for any reason. We never know what hardships and life experiences another has had that causes them to be or behave a certain way. I try very hard not to judge. Take people for who and what they are and if I cannot, leave them alone.

I shared the importance of "Don't let anyone live in your head rent free." in an earlier post. Sometimes it is very difficult not to focus on what someone else thinks. It is so easy to get caught up with what others say or do. It is then that I find myself saying or doing things that I later regret.

Like many people, I find it difficult to ask for help. It is easy to give advice but not so easy to ask for it when it is needed. "You alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone." It manifests itself in so many ways - delaying a trip to the doctor or needing to open a pickle jar and many other other situations, large and small.

The list goes on and on. There is one to fit almost any situation. It just requires that I slow down long enough to figure out which of the pearls of wisdom fits! Slowing down is the hard part.

The hurried I go, the behinder I get!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

An Aluminum Can

What do you get when you add an aluminum can to a bunch of other aluminum cans? You get a loan fund. I have just come in from the front porch where I have been busy smashing cans collected over the last week or so. Cans come from some friends and neighbors, but mostly they come from residents at Taft Homes, where I am proud to serve as manager. We started collecting cans in mid-June. Residents were invited to save cans and bring them to the office. It has really become a unifying community activity. The cans are recycled and the proceeds go into a micro-loan fund for residents. The maximum loan is $10.00, but it is surprising what $10.00 can do when you have nothing! Residents decided not to make any loans until we had at least $100.00 and not to make any loans if the fund gets down to $20.00. The first loan was made in September as it took a while to get people involved. So far, thirty-four loans have been made. Loans are to be repaid within 30 days and there is a 50 cent charge that is due when the loan is repaid. Very few loans have gone beyond the 30 days and no other loans can be given if there is an unpaid loan.

Loans have been used to buy a few groceries, diapers, bus rides, probably a few six-packs and who knows what else. We do not ask. It is just heart-warming to see the level of participation in the can collection by a sizable number of residents, even those who have never used the loan fund. Even with the loans that are currently out, we have about $170.00 in the cash box. I would call it a success!