Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here again, seems that the years fly by way too fast. I am thankful for friends and family and the memories of Thanksgivings past. This time of year I really miss my mom and dad; my mom made a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. We would always dress in our best and either spend the day at our house with one set of grandparents, or we would travel to Detroit to be with everyone. My aunt would host Thanksgiving in Detroit. Later after I moved out of the house my parents would come to my house and Mom and I would make the meal in my apartment. The last Thanksgiving with my dad was bittersweet because it was the last time that we were all together as a family. And we all knew that it would be the last time that we would all be together. Later we would repeat the scene with my mom. Her last Thanksgiving with family was 3 years ago. I miss her so much. This year I am grateful to be spending Thanksgiving with good friends. Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends. I hope that you find yourselves blessed and that you have much to be thankful for.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Vel' d'Hiv Roundup - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vel' d'Hiv Roundup - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I am reading a book called "Sarah's Key" which is about the roundup of Jews who were living in Vichy France during the Nazi occupation. On July 16, 1942, 13,000+ Jewish families where taken from their homes in Paris by French police and sent first Vel d'Hiv, a velodrome in Paris where they remained for several days with no food or water, forced to live like animals in unsanitary conditions. I had never known about this terrible piece of French history. The mothers, fathers and children were forced from their homes. Later they were taken to a camp outside of Paris where the families were separated from the fathers, the mothers and children were allowed to remain together briefly before being separated so that the parents could be shipped off to Auschwitz for extermination. The children were left, starving and without their parents in the camp until they too were relocated and sent to gas chambers. I am appalled by this awful, horrendous piece of French history. I cannot believe that the police would round up innocents at the behest of the Nazis and willingly starve them and sentence them to death like they were no better than animals. This is a part of history that we must never forget so as never to repeat it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Deja Vu All Over Again

July 1, 2005; Minnesota state government partially shuts down. I am out of work for 10 days. Fast forward to July 1, 2011. Another government shutdown. This time government shuts down fully with only critical services remaining open. I was laid off as of July 1. Budget talks are at a stalemate, the Democrats want taxes along with budget cuts. The Republicans want to cut everything including the number of employees in the state work force. I'm tired of being a political hostage, yet I agree with the governor who would rather not throw the most vulnerable citizens of the state under the bus. He prefers a budget that mixes cuts with a tax in the wealthiest Minnesotans. I cannot reconcile my values with a party that only wants to hurt the most vulnerable citizens by making cuts to badly needed services while letting millionaires continue to pay less than the rest of us.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Living Within Our Means

"Living within our means". That phrase has become a mantra for politicians in this day and age. They say that government must learn to live within it's means, like families have learned to live within their means. When families need to live within in a budget, they learn to make cuts, like shopping for groceries more efficiently and cheaply, cutting down on expenses and saving money where ever and when ever possible. Politicians think that this same scenario should work for government, and to some extent that is true. However, they way politicians are going about making cuts and lowering the budget is draconian. Families would never sacrifice a family member, such as an elderly parent, disabled child or ill family member in order to 'balance their budget'. Politicians seem to think this is OK; they choose to balance the budget on the backs of society's most vulnerable, the poor, the elderly, children and the disabled, by making cuts to government programs that are lifelines for these families. A family would find a way to raise their revenue, either by taking on additional work or increasing their revenue some other way. Politicians have been cutting and cutting to the point where there is no more to cut. It's time to look at a new source of revenue, and that is to raise taxes on those Americans who can well afford to shoulder the burden. Over the last decade Americans have paid the lowest taxes in generations. A report out recently indicates that wealthy Americans paid the least amount in taxes than they have in generations and some Americans paid no taxes. Meanwhile the US government has been engaged in two wars. Money that could have gone to health care, education and entitlements such as Medicare was instead spent in Iraq, where our brave soldiers put their lives on the line, but did their efforts and bravery do anything for Americans? I'm not saying that their efforts were in vain, but I do question the decision to send them into war. Meanwhile, back home in the US, we are preparing to fight a different kind of war, the war against Alzheimer's. The silver tsunami that is about to engulf the US health care system as baby boomers age, could quite possibly bankrupt this country's healthcare system. Paul Ryan has proposes changes to Medicare that would drastically cut benefits just as we are embarking on this war. Patients, medical professionals and caregivers are already stressed beyond limit. Can you imagine what it will be like in a decade or less? Alzheimer's is predicted to increase many-fold. We are being short-sighted if we think that cutting Medicare to balance the budget is a good thing. It's time to bite the bullet and understand that we need our priorities straight if we are to remain free.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Remembering Sam

When I moved into my first house, the first thing that I did literally after getting somewhat settled, was head to the Humane Society to adopt a kitten. I'd had a cat as a very young child; I was so young in fact that I barely remember my kitten Muffy. Anyway, I adopted Sam, an 8 week old kitten who was quite possibly the cutest kitten ever. He was a brown and white tabby with the cutest markings and the sweetest face. The first thing that I did when I got home with him was call Mom and Dad. My dad was a huge cat lover so he of course needed to meet Sam as soon as possible. He and Mom drove down to visit three days later and promptly fell in love with Sam. That night Sam pestered Dad, wanting to play instead of sleep. Sam was a rowdy little kitten who would leap onto people's shoulders and attack them. Later, when Dad was in his last few months of life, Sam would sit on the back of his chair as a way to try to comfort Dad. Two years after I lost my dad I lost my Sammy to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged heart. It was a sudden death; I came home from work one day to find my darling kitty dead at the top of the stairs. We assume that he had been running to meet me at the door, as usual, and that his heart just stopped beating. I was beyond devastated to lose my dear kitty so soon after losing my beloved father. I remember calling my mom in hysterics. She dropped everything and came to my house to comfort me. She was an unbelievable mom who would do anything for her children. Two months later I visited a friend whose cat had had kittens. I adopted my beautiful Lily exactly five years after adopting my Sam and she has been my best friend ever since. Olivia joined us five years later as Mom's cat. She too is a wonderful friend.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Foreclosed

Thursday when I came home from work there were auction signs at the entrance to my neighborhood. A home had been foreclosed on and was now up for auction. I followed the signs to a home kitty corner from my own. My heart breaks for this family. It is an older couple who had moved out nearly a year ago, their house, a beautiful two story condo end unit, had been for sale for almost a year. The housing market is just not getting any better.

I'm also worried. I work for the state of Minnesota as a computer IT professional. Our legislature has decided to take aim at state employees by placing the burden of balancing the state's budget, which is in deficit by billions, on the shoulders of its employees. I have not had a raise in four years and unless I receive a cost of living raise or a promotion to a new grade level, I will not see a raise in the near future. I know that many workers are dealing with this exact scenario. I'm a union member, something I never thought I would be, and something that would make my father and grandfather roll over in their graves. I love my job; I feel like I'm making a difference in the lives of Minnesotans. I rarely felt that way in private companies. I see my coworkers and the difference we all make. Nearly everyone I work with has, at the the very least, a bachelor's degree, many have master's degrees and doctorates. I'm nervous about myself and my coworkers who also have families and mortgages and health conditions. We are all living on the edge; one push and who knows where we will land. I know that's no different than most families have dealt with, but if we continue to do this to families, we are just going to dig us deeper into a recession. The services that are provided by government workers don't go away, so cutting workers will mean less workers screening newborn babies, less workers making out checks for unemployment and less workers plowing roads, fixing potholes, inspecting bridges, researching food-borne outbreaks, testing samples for tuberculosis, testing water samples from flooded wells, staffing state parks, inspecting nursing homes and restaurants. These are just some of the jobs that public workers do. There are many, many more.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

eBay Addict

I'm addicted to eBay. I know, where have I been. I can't resist bidding on collectibles like Department 56 snow village pieces, Longaberger baskets and Waterford Crystal. The deals on these things are phenomenal. I fell in love with a Waterford crystal pattern called "Ashling" when I was working at a jewelry and gift store during college. I was the weekend gift wrapper so I was able to handle all of the beautiful things like china and crystal. I figure that if I ever were to get married, I would register for the "Ashling" pattern. Well, I've never gotten married so I figured, what the heck, I'm going to get some pieces. I found 3 cordials on eBay and I won them. After that I was off and running. It's the ultimate way to recycle! The first few auctions were so easy and I won them hands down. Then I bid on a basket that I liked. Someone was bidding against me and they seemed to have pretty fast fingers. No sooner would I up my bid then they were putting in a higher bid. I couldn't believe how fast the were able to type. I thought, what the heck? Then I learned about something called AuctionSniper, a website that submits bids automatically for you. Aha! that's how they were beating me. Here is how AuctionSniper works; you connect your eBay account to Sniper. It imports your auctions from eBay and you set your limit. When you are outbid, Sniper submits bids until you either win the auction or the bid is over your limit. Fascinating! You only pay AuctionSniper when you win in a bidding war. And they give you 3 free Snipes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Winter Roars Back

It's snowing again. We are having a storm that promises to dump 12-18 inches of snow on us, making this a record breaking winter for snowfall. Which also means a record breaking spring for flooding.

But I have spring fever. I'm ready to start planting my containers and I'm especially excited to see the tiny pink blooms on my flowering almond bush. That is, if the rabbits that snacked on it all winter long haven't eaten it into oblivion. I'm beginning to think that I am cursed never to see those beautiful blooms; my first flowering almond was weed-whacked, came back to life in time to be sprayed with weed killer. So I bought a new one, a taller one. This one has been munched on all winter. The rabbits also munched on my Double Pink Knockout Rose, but I'm told that they need to be pruned in the spring so I'm hoping it will survive and thrive. I've ordered miniature roses that I plan to place in containers on my patio. And new solar lights for my walkway. I put seed out for the birds yesterday. Thanks to the recent 50 degree temps I was able to finally get out and do so without sinking into snow that was thigh deep.

Even though Mother Nature has other plans, I choose to dream of spring today.