Thursday, March 26, 2009


There is an air of entitlement in our society, and it stinks. This is a two-headed monster threatening to devour those of us in the middle. The “haves” and the “have-nots” are very different kinds of people, but both groups feel that they deserve privileges and special treatment the rest of us don’t have access to. I came to this realization the other day when a guy in a new Mercedes pulled onto the commuter lane on I-5 right in front of us. He was alone in his car, and tooled along for miles in a lane reserved for vehicles with two or more people.
The “haves” think they are entitled to bailouts, tax breaks, free checking, low interest, and, like this guy, have no regard for rules that should apply to all. Of course, this a generalization, but it something I couldn't stop thinking about. It led to the question, “Why should I foot the bill for folks who already have so much? “ I certainly don’t begrudge them their wealth, but I struggle with the fact that we, the middle class, are being drained by rich guys in Mercedes, driving in the wrong lane, who have their hand out to the government for another break or bonus or bailout.
On the other hand, the entitlement mentality of the “have-nots” is equally disturbing. We are a great society. Unlike most countries in the world, we care for those who cannot take care of themselves. There should be access to medical care, housing assistance, food stamps, and all the other programs in place to help people help themselves. Theses are designed to be a stepping stone, but in many cases, are stopping stones. Just because someone has medical coupons, it is not a free pass to bring the whole family into the ER or a clinic just because one child is ill. Then there is the prescription drug issue. There are poor controls in place that track the activity of someone with “U and I” insurance as they hop from doctor to clinic to ER and are given multiple prescriptions for narcotics, that are finding their way to the street for enormous prices. More on this topic later. Suffice to say, the abuses are beyond belief, without much watch dogging, and those of us who work hard to maintain health care benefits for our families, and have huge copays and deductibles, I might add, are paying for them (check your pay stub) .
The end result is that those of us sandwiched between the two are struggling with higher costs, fewer jobs, foreclosures, loss of insurance benefits, or increasing co pay costs, and have despaired as our little retirement funds that we worked so hard to accrue, have shriveled away.
It won’t be long before I need a bailout or a handout, but there won’t be anything left. We, the middle class, are shriveling, too. There won’t be anyone left to foot the bill for me. So, I guess it’s a good thing that I don’t think I’m entitled to anything more than what I earn, and that being here in the middle has taught me self-reliance. I am thankful for what I have, I am grateful for adversity that makes me stronger, and I will never drive in the commuter lane when I am alone.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sunshine At Last

I have been outside all morning. What a wonderful, sunny day. It is my first day off in a bit, and I am so glad the sun is shining. I fed the horses, weeded some of the strawberries, cleaned up the little greenhouse to get ready for starting seeds, ran a couple of soaker hoses in the perennial flower beds by the house, planted some ivy starts I brought back from Seattle, moved some big flower pots around, and generally played around in dirt..... I am so anxious for Spring.

The farrier came and we trimmed all the horse and mule feet. I cleaned the Winter trash out of the tack room. I want to get out there and clean up the fields, fix the fence, play with my horses, ride down the road and up into the woods. There is still too much snow for that right now.

I push the season every Spring... I till the garden when it is too wet, I plant too early and lose to a frost. I think it is warmer than it is, and end up with frozen fingers and an earache. I lose track of time and forget to eat. It's been a long winter, but today it became a memory. The sun is shining, I am happy.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Morning

I stood out on my in-law's deck, surrounded by a woodsy overgrowth, the world quiet and still as in an Ansel Adams print; sharp edges in black and grey since it wasn't quite light. A little chilly by coastal standards, not ours. A little damp and misty by our standards, not theirs. It is a mind-picture that will remain in the collection in my brain. Three woodpeckers traded staccato beats from three different directions....nature in stereo, a gift to me, as I sipped coffee, watching the morning bring life and color to the rain forest. The grey slowly became green, and I realised how much I have been needing to see some green. Winter has been too long at the ol' Brand X, and there is still snow on the ground..... but on this Sunday morning, I saw Spring emerge from darkness at the dawn, I felt hope, I felt renewed. It was like Church. A choir of birds sang for me, rays of sun broke through the mist and warmed my soul.
Before the others in the house began to stir, I had experienced something that is hard to explain. But it will stay with me, and continue to encourage and revive me until our Spring mornings can fill me with the same joy and wonder as this did today.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Recession Hits Home

He called yesterday to tell me that he had lost his job. It was hard to hear, but even harder for him to voice the words. It has been a couple of weeks, but it is still so incredibly painful for him to say out loud. It isn't really real yet. This was his Dream Job, the career that he has prepared for all his life, the culmination of years of hard work and study, an uphill climb with as many steps backward as forward..... in an instant it is gone. I hear the pain in his voice, he sounds beaten, defeated. He said he has been suicidal since he cleared his desk and locker out and left the building that held his ego, his trophy, his dream-come-true. Can't eat, can't sleep.

I could see the scene as he told the story, the meeting; a performance review...... talk of budgets cuts, he being the last hired, the so sorrys, and the long, lonely, sad march out to the parking lot.

He has a family to feed and shelter, bills to pay, a need to do the right thing. He sounded empty and lost. There is too much pain right now to even think about what comes next, he's so overwhelmed. He can't receive comfort yet, can't hear that "This, too, shall pass", that when a door closes, God opens a window.....

I am feeling his pain. That which hurts him, hurts me. I cried for and with him. I want to fix it, to go and yell at those bastards that have wounded him so badly. My Son, my pride , my joy.... I want to hold him and make it all better just like I could when he was small. He is an adult now, and the bruises and scrapes are adult sized. I can't fix this one. All I am able to do is tell him I love him beyond reason, and I am so very proud of him. I will be by his side through thick and thin, I am Mom..... that's my job.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Rocky is the Best dog in the world. He's my dog, my pal, my protector. He was a Christmas present from Jim in 2001, a cute little pup in a basket all decorated with red ribbons. Our friend, Del, told me that Heelers and Aussies bond with one person, and the best way to achieve a good bond with my new buddy, would be to keep him with me for the first three or four months. So, Rocky went with me everywhere; to work, shopping, weekend trips to Seattle..... he was my constant companion. He was happy in his crate under my desk or next to me in the truck. As a result of the effort, he is MY dog. He loves the rest of the family, too, but his loyality is to me. He is at my side everywhere I go, sometimes under foot. He looks at me with love, and will crawl onto my lap if I let him, and he gives the equivolent of "dog hugs". He is eager to please, seems to anticipate what comes next; he herds the kids to bed or to the dinner table, loads horses into the trailer, runs the fence lines every morning to make sure we are safe. He is very hard working, and loves his job.
In dog years, he is approaching middle age. It doesn't show yet, he can still jump six feet in the air after a snowball or a spray of water from the hose, and he runs like the wind. We can age together for a while, and appreciate each new adventure. I dread the day that dawns without him at my side. I'll always have a dog or two, but Rocky has set a standard for love and loyalty that can't be matched by another. He really is the best dog in the world.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Manners matter. Opposable thumbs and the ability to be polite are two things that separate us from the "lesser" of God's creatures. I say lesser with quotes because sometimes I wonder. I see examples of disrespectful and rude behavior daily at work, in stores, and on the street.

We need the old Emily Post lessons, a return to decorum and dress codes.

We were raised by parents who stressed good manners; and the behaviors are part of our fabric. Yes, Ma'am; No, Sir, hold the door for the ladies...... Jim's manners are impeccable. He stands up when a woman comes into the room or when she gets up from the table (even it it's just me!), he makes it a point to dance with every gal at the party, opens car doors, helps with my coat, and has a firm handshake. He is ever the gentleman. I really like it.

My daughter wrote a thank you note yesterday for a birthday gift she received from Uncle Chuck. We get thank you notes from his son, Joe, for gifts at Christmas or Birthdays. I'm sure it's because of Mom's voice in our heads and hearts, the same one that chided my brother and me to write those letters or else!!

What has happened to the simple "Please, and Thank you, and Excuse me" phrases. The checker at Safeway always looks at the receipt for my name, and although it is usually mispronounced, he uses it and thanks me for shopping. It's part of the training, but it works. Good manners always work. A smile and good manners can take you where ever you would like to go.

I don't curl my pinkie when I have a cup of tea or wear white gloves like Mom did, but I hope I have inherited her kindness and graciousness, and I hope I have passed them on to my kids, too. Good manners never go out of style...... even if it sounds like "Yo, thanks, Dude!" .

Monday, March 2, 2009

Blogfest 2009

What a wonderful afternoon on Saturday, as we were able to meet "face to face" with many of our fellow bloggers and members of the HBO Family. Capital F in family.... we are a wild and crazy and unique bunch. Maybe bloggers in general are such, but I think this group in particular is especially talented, opinionated, and expressive. The individual blogs that are wired to HBO are in themselves entertaining and thought provoking, but then as we are stirred together in the communal soup, the entertainment (and sometimes the fur that flies) multiplies exponentially.
This is a very powerful group of people. I think we have yet to realize just how much power and influence our combined opinions/thoughts/observations have in this community, and in places far from here when one of us is discovered and leads an unsuspecting blurker to the lair.... where the rest of us lie in wait!! It's like The Hotel California..... check out any time you want; but you can NEVER leave.
We are a family in other respects, too. We didn't "choose" each other, but we love each other. We don't always get along, and Dad will send us to our rooms if the arguing gets out of control, but at the end of the day, all is forgiven and we go off to bed..... " 'Nite Jon-boy, 'nite Grandpa, "nite Mary, 'nite Pa..."
Can't wait for the next Blogfest. I think we will have a mini-fest this summer up on the Ranch, just because a year will be a long wait to see everyone again. This is an amazing group of people, I am proud to be a part of this Family.