Tuesday, July 1, 2014

color me red

i am angry....they have taken the pledge of allegiance out of schools and eliminated any reference to god. i am a christian...ok, i do not attend service in any church--well, i did make that christmas pageant three years ago--and i prefer sleeping in on sunday mornings...but i believe in god.

i am angry...they are building and assembling wind generators on the hill across from me and obstucting my view...yes, i have a television and a computer and electric fans and....those cars in my garage? yes, they are mine. i prefer my gasoline is manufactured somewhere remote because the catastrophe on the gulf was terrible.
i want my gas cheap, affordable and from....somewhere far away...because i want to keep the environment (near me) clean.

i am angry....at the illegals crossing into our country...yes, the ones who clean your houses and take care of your children and work in your meat packing plants...because i blame them for the high crime rate and the swine flu and food stamp fraud.

i am angry at those outraged by the supreme court ruling in favor of hobby lobby...if hobby lobby doesn't want to cover the cost of contraceptives under their insurance because it  is an affront to their religious beliefs, so what? that they don't pay employees well, that most of their merchandise is imported from china...china, noted for their stellar human rights activity and open-mindness to religions...and that women's contraceptive healthcare is eliminated at will...so what?

i am angry at people who leave their dogs in hot cars....inhumane....unlike the humane way factory farming treats chickens or beef or pigs....so i'll protest for the poor dogs as soon as i eat my fastfood hamburger...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

happy birthday to me...

today, i celebrate sixty years of life. sixty sounds ancient but i don't feel ancient. i have moments when bones ache, when i discover new wrinkles or new age spots...when hair color doesn't seem to cover my grey roots very well...but aging is an interesting journey.

1. find your faith. nurture your faith. believe in something.

2. you can never be too kind or too compassionate.

3. be grateful...for everything.

4. make peace with your past...but live in the moment. worrying about the future or agonizing about  what happened yesterday is a great waste of time.

5. find your passion.

6. don't take life too seriously.

7. more friends, less possessions.

8. adopt a pet. plant a garden. grow a houseplant.

9. be responsible for your own health.

10. happiness is a choice.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

i feel a bad moon rising...

today, i met the lawyer from legal aid who has been assigned my brother skip's case.  my brother, bob, and i accompanied skip to springfield. skip is being evicted from his subsidized apartment for smoking, something he has always done for the 20 + years he has lived there. i learned from jacob, the very young lawyer, that property owners in vermont can impose no smoking policies.

i wish that my brother, skip, was not the hardheaded, stubbborn person he is. i wish that emotionally, he had the maturity of his 69 years, not that of a 12 year old boy. i wish he could listen to opposing opinions gracefully and resolve issues logically. but he has always bullied his way through a hard life by arguing and fighting. he argued that he only smokes cigarettes in his apartment at night, when the other tenants are sleeping. with his window open. you cannot smoke in your apartment at all, i replied. he didn't want to listen to me so he left the meeting, left bob and the lawyer and me at the table and went outside, probably to smoke a cigarette.

there is a very slim chance that i can find a psychiatrist who will diagnose skip with post traumatic stress disorder. he was attacked in his apartment by an intruder in 1997. since then, he sleeps in a recliner in his living room. he is unwilling to smoke outside, especially in the darkness. he feels vulnerable. a ptsd diagnosis from a respected therapist might allow him to smoke in his apartment.

if skip would agree to smoke those electronic cigarettes i bought him when indoors, and not his pall malls, jacob might be able to overturn the eviction. there is one subsidized community in brattleboro that still allows smoking. but there is an 18 month wait for a one bedroom apartment. and brattleboro is too far for my sister, dee, to continue her wednesday night suppers with skip, too far for bob to pick him up and take him grocery shopping. here, he is centrally located to his bank, the post office, the grocery store, the rite aid that fills his perscriptions.  i wish the 69 year old man who is my brother would realize the hardship this eviction could create. but the adolescent boy who controls skip's reasoning wants to live in a remodeled boxcar or in an rv and smoke freely, ignoring the copd issues, the advair and the inhalers, the coughing.

part of me is still so frustrated with paul stewart, who bought skip's building and 5 other buildings in the village. and in 15 other vermont communities. and 4 other states. all subsidized by the government, and refurbished with grant monies. he has made a lucrative business from what he learned when he worked for hud.  he doesn't care that his policies displace people. he doesn't feel he needs to respond to my emails or my letters. i'm sure that he isn't concerned about jacob, our young lawyer. what he does may not be illegal but it is unethical. it is greed-driven. it is wrong.

there is a storm brewing.

Friday, April 12, 2013

rice pudding...

i love rice pudding. my mother used to make this amazing rice dessert with cooked white rice, cherries, crushed pineapple and sweetened whipped cream. my grandmother (her mother) didn't cook much but she made a great 'hard sauce' that she served over cake, she made floats with vanilla ice cream and ginger ale, she made egg custard and she made rice pudding. her rice pudding was baked, had lots of raisins and a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon. mom's rice pudding was festive...nana's rice pudding was comfort food.

white rice and i parted ways in the late 60's, when i discovered brown rice. it was healthier. nuttier. and took forever to cook. i only ate white rice at asian or indian restaurants. and at family functions, where  i consumed bowlfuls of mom's rice pudding, although the sweetened whipped cream gave way to whipped topping in a box and, eventually, fat-free kool whip. boil-in-the-bag rice  (or minute rice) replaced the regular kind. and, after my grandmother died, her baked, cinnanom-y rice pudding vanished like the dinosaurs. the pre-packaged tubs at the market tasted horrible, as did the canned version. once, in the 80's, as i passed through memphis, i had a dish of rice pudding at a truckstop that tasted so much like nana's that it stunned me... i never did find that truckstop again or found a pudding like hers anywhere else.

i am in vermont, it is cold and i have decided to make mom (who is almost 90) some rice pudding. i don't want the cherries/pineapple one so i search online for something similiar to my grandmother's recipe. no luck. but i am intriqued by a recipe i stumble across, a recipe that seems to date back to the 1930's. before fat-free milk and gluten-free brown rice and heart-healthy margarine. i make this rice pudding and it is phenomenally good. first, nana's baked rice pudding, followed by my mother's cherry-pineapple rice pudding...and now it's my turn. i have a rice pudding recipe, too.

in a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to boil. add 3/4 cup of long grain white rice--not instant or parboiled rice. simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

in another pan, measure 1 1/2 cups of the cooked rice and add 1 1/2 cups of milk (i used 2%), 2/3 cup of golden raisins and 1/3 cup of sugar. cook for 20 minutes, until thick. add 1 beaten egg, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/2 cup of milk. cook for 10 minutes more. serve warm or cold. my mother added a squirt of canned whipped cream, i did not. we both agreed the pudding was yummy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

i shall be released...

i am at odds with the department of education regarding a student loan. after repaying $17,000.00 (the original loan was $10,000.00) i stopped working in 2003 and took a disability. and i called them about the thousand or so they claimed i still owed. i was informed that, because i had this brain disease, the remaining amount would be 'forgiven.' they sent me lots of forms...my neuro signed some, my employer signed some and i signed some. somehow, a form from my employer was not filled out correctly. somehow, i was not 'approved.' somehow, i missed that information.

fast forward to this past year...my father died, i fractured my pelvis, i broke my hip and i was hospitalized with heart issues. and a collection agency for the department of education sent me a letter (and called so frequently, i stopped answering) saying, with interest, the amount due was now  somewhere in the ballpark of 6 grand. huh?

so i contacted the department of education. again. i filled out new forms (they recently revamped their system) and i had my neurologist in new hampshire fill out a form, too. i received a letter saying my monthly social security disability check could be garnished after april 20, 2013...i called on march 14th. the lady was nice. she gave me addresses to send the forms to. she told me how to apply for a financial hardship status, so that my social security wouldn't be affected. but, i explained, i am receiving disability. i haven't worked since 2003. legally, isn't this loan is supposed to be discharged?  again, huh??

today, the department of education withheld almost $200.00 from my april social security payment. i called them. i no longer talk clearly when i am stressed...i slur. but i tried to have a conversation with some clerk who talked to me in such a condescending manner that i finally demanded to speak to her manager. the manager told me i should have asked to stop the garnishment when i called in march. i told her i did. well, we show that you called on march 14th but the clerk you spoke to did not initiate the procedure to clear your social security payment from garnishment. hmnnn. how do i get my $$$ back????  i'm sorry but you can't. huh??????

the paperwork is in process to discharge the loan...well, actually, i repaid the original loan. but that new amount needs to be discharged. my social security may or may not eventually be returned. and my social security may be garnished again next month, too. michelle, the manager,  didn't really have any answers. i am in vermont and things will have to wait until i am back in texas, where i have a folder of notes concerning this student loan and that elusive discharge.

but i have been thinking long and hard about debt today. and about wealth. i listen (and grumble) about welfare fraud. about unemployed people buying cigarettes and alcohol and young women having babies as a career choice and food stamp abuse and all the illegal aliens getting benefits from the government. but  i ignore the huge amounts lost to political scandal and corporate greed. trust me, it makes the welfare fraud pale in comparison to the white collar corruption occuring as i write this.

i don't own property, unless you count the double gravesite my family owns. my vehicle is a tired, old pick-up with a faded body and no air conditioning. and i live in el paso, where it gets really hot. by some standards, that i do not own a nice car or a big house means that i have somehow failed. to that snooty clerk at the department of education today, i was a deadbeat, a defaulter of student loans. but we all die. cars, houses, bank accounts and all that glitters does not define us, either here or in the afterlife. :)))

Saturday, March 9, 2013

a few of my favorite things

i am sorting through my stuff because i am visiting my daughter tomorrow and i plan to pass things on to her. i have so much stuff. i had no idea. the wooden chair i bought for dominic when he was two...he's now nine. the dolls for my granddaughters, makenna and riley, that belonged to their mother. a plastic frisbee, compliments of the walpole band concert i attended a few years ago. perfect for grandson, andrew, now four. and dishes. silverware. glasses. towels. a quilt.

i thought my bedroom was fairly clean and neat until i began to look at my shelf above the computer...a small, black plastic poodle i won at an arcade with my aunt ruth when i was a child. i gave it to her because it reminded me of her poodle, cheri. and she kept it until she died. and i reclaimed it after her death because i couldn't bear to see it tossed away. i remember how many tickets i collected at the arcade to buy that poodle, how many balls i rolled playing skeeball, how much fun i had that night...the summer evening, the ocean breeze, the boardwalk laughter...

there is the wooden submarine that dad brought home from one of his subvet conventions, the one i rescued from the recycling bin, after his death. the poem he wrote, in his shaky parkinson's handwriting, that won him free ice cream at the walpole creamery in 2008...i have it. the framed photo of the four sisters, from pam...when we were four sisters, before cheryl's death. a picture my little brother, aj, drew and mailed to my aunt..her boston address scribbled in his first grader's hand. probably the last time he wrote to aunt ruth. he was struck by a car and died that summer. aj was seven.

i used to laugh at people who saved everything. now i understand. it isn't the things we value so much as the memories attached to those things...how do you part with your memories?  i can't.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

finding aj's grave

i left cape cod yesterday morning with margaret, headed for vermont. we had barely left the cape behind when we came upon an exit for bridgewater. 'i used to live in west bridgewater,' i announced.  margaret  asked if i wanted to see my old house again. i said 'yes.' i love advcentures with margaret.  soon, we were negotiating through lunchtime traffic around the rotary in the center of bridgewater. where was west bridgewater?  i struggled to recall landmarks. 'i remember hockamock farms,' i finally said. it was a grocery store i would pass on my way home. margaret laughed. "hockamock???'

suddenly, margaret shouted excitedly, 'hockanock plaza!' the grocery store had been replaced by a tired old strip mall but it had kept the funny name. we drove past a shiny new market basket shopping center and a few more strip malls, and there was the old white church...i recognized that church. we had found my old neighborhood. the little neighborhood store that once handed out free gallons of ice cream when hurricanes threatened was now a pizza restaurant. our house with the huge forsythia bush on the front lawn was gone, demolished for the pizza patrons. they pave paradise and put up a parking lot. my heart sank.

i was 8 years old the summer of '62 and visiting my nana metcalf in boston. on july 13th, my 7 year old brother, aj (alan jay), was hit by a car in front of our west bridgewater house. he died two days later and he was buried in a cemetary on the road to brockton. 'would you like to visit aj's grave?' margaret asked. i didn't attend the funeral but i had accompanied nana and aunt ruth to the cemetary once or twice. i went once with mom. and margaret and i had stopped there 25 or 30 years ago. yes, i did. something in me needed this moment...

the cemetary was not hard to find but it had expanded to the point where, there were so many graves, nothing looked familiar. margaret and i started wandering around, in search of aj's marker (he didn't have a headstone), and the longer we searched, the more dejected i became. the cemetary was huge. finally, i wheeled my walker onto some grass and margaret and i looked around. i told her i felt that we were close, that the grave was near.  she took a few steps and paused, glancing down. 'deb,' she said softly, 'it's aj's marker.' we looked at each other and both burst into tears.

the marker was partially covered so we pulled grass and cleaned the marker. we placed a small gourd on top and we lined the marker with acorns margaret had retrieved from the trunk of her car (they had decorated her niece's wedding reception). it looked presentable. i smiled.  finally, i felt a sense of peace. i had connected with my little brother. time had passed, everything had changed but i had not forgotten. thank you, margaret, for sharing that moment...