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.