Sunday, October 26, 2008


"A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." -George Bernard Shaw

With all the economic problems our country is facing, I'm amazed that most people still don't GET it! People believe that their presidential candidate will magically turn everything around, when they're elected, by implementing the programs they have promised in their campaigns. Umm...where will the new regime get the MONEY to make good on their campaign promises? We need to pull ourselves out of the hole we're in before we take on any new programs!

Our local elections are no different. The candidates for school board promise to push for a referendum for new schools if they're elected. HELLO!! Declining enrollment has forced us to close, and sell, two of our school buildings in the last 5 years. We need to worry about getting jobs here to keep young people, and their school-aged children, in our area. Our school system can't afford necessary items like special ed and textbooks. Do our candidates honestly believe that the majority of voters, who are senior citizens and working poor, will vote to have their taxes raised for buildings which will soon be empty?

Our current school board recently voted to fund a study on a "Safe Route to School". This study came about as a result of our school system deciding to eliminate many in-town school bus routes to save money. Students, who live a mile or less from school, will now have to walk to school. Oh no, not THAT! Whatever will our school board do with all the money they're saving? Pay a firm to study where the students will walk on their way to school, of course! WTF?! Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but shouldn't the PARENTS be responsible for teaching their kids the safest route to school?

Another MN election issue is the amendment we'll be voting on. This amendment will raise our sales tax by 3/8% to fund nature projects and the arts. I'm all for funding both of those projects, but...what happened to all the lottery money that was earmarked to preserve our "natural heritage"? Our politicians appropriated(stole) the lottery money to finance their own pet projects, like professional sports stadiums. I don't trust our politicians to keep their sticky fingers off the money this amendment will create, so I will be voting NO on this amendment.

On a personal level, I've often heard the teens that work in the restaurant discussing their finances. Many times the phrase, "It's only $100.", has come up in their conversations. ONLY?! $100 will feed my family for 2 weeks! I'm afraid these kids have a rude awakening coming their way.

I don't know about you, but I discovered that the price of turkey burger rose $.20, and cheese rose $.50 in just one week. A 5# bag of whole wheat flour is almost $5 now. Yet I still see most people's shopping carts full of pre-fab meals and snacks. Individual servings of pudding and jello, for pity's sake!! Who can't add 2C of boiling water to a package of jello, AND throw in some fruit for some nutritional value? There are a LOT of spoiled, clueless people who have no idea how to feed their family for less than $200/week. It will be interesting to see how buying habits change in the coming years. Will the majority of our citizens ever get a clue?

BTW, does anybody believe that oil prices won't rise following the election? I'm grateful that I'm not heating a 4000 sq ft house, how about you?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"school refuses tourette services"

To the person who arrived at my blog via the Google search: school refuses tourette services...

I don't know if you'll come back here, but don't let the school get away with that bullshit! Tourette's Syndrome is a recognized disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The school is required, BY LAW, to cooperate with the special services your child requires.

I realize that this is easier said than done. We know that our small, local school system simply doesn't have the resources to provide our son the help he requires. That's one of the reasons why we homeschool him. You may live in a bigger area with more choices. Large cities usually have professional advocates(usually a lawyer), who will attend IEP meetings with you. Click on the TSA link in my sidebar to see if there is help in your area.

Good luck!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The View

It's been raining here all week, so we haven't been able to get any of our outdoor chores done. I grabbed the camera and ventured outside when I tired of indoor chores. The picture above is the view we get from the kitchen window over our sink.

This is the view from our bathroom window. The reddish bushes on the left surround our back yard. They make a lovely, impenetrable screen all summer long. In the spring, the bushes grow bunches of delicate white flowers that develop into white berries. The birds, deer, and squirrels love to eat the berries! My Dad says they're bayberry bushes. I should really look that up one of these days.

Here's the silver maples in our back yard.

For Cherie: Here's a picture of the baby birch that sprouted up in our front yard. We discovered it last year, after we trimmed the brush around our shed.

Here's a shot of our own, personal aspens. In MN, we call them poplars. They're pretty much "junk" trees up here, but they sure are pretty in the fall. You'll notice that our ash trees have already lost their leaves. By this weekend, most of the rest of the trees will be bare too. Fall color is such a short-lived treat. *sigh*

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Music Meme

I found this fun meme over at Suldog's blog. I thought it was time to lighten the mood around here, so here goes....

The rules:

A) Go to Music Outfitters.

B) In the search function, enter the year you graduated from high school. Get the list of the 100 most popular songs of that year.

C) Bold the songs you like, strike through the ones you hate, and underline or italicize your favorite. Do nothing to those you don’t remember or don’t care about.(I don't do HTML, so the songs I hate will be in red. My comments follow the song titles in parenthesis.)

THE TOP 100 OF 1974
1. The Way We Were, Barbra Streisand(Meh. I've never been a big Babs fan.)
2. Seasons in the Sun, Terry Jacks(Wishy-washy and repetitive.)
3. Love's Theme, Love Unlimited Orchestra(Love of WHAT?!)
4. Come and Get Your Love, Redbone(This one was OK, but I'd never buy it.)
5. Dancing Machine, Jackson 5(One of their better songs, but that's not saying much)
6. The Loco-Motion, Grand Funk Railroad(I've played this so much over the years that my kids hate it.)
8. The Streak, Ray Stevens(Ya gotta love a little silliness. "Don't look Ethel!")
9. Bennie and the Jets, Elton John(My boyfriend and I wore this song out on the jukebox at our Community College)
10. One Hell Of A Woman, Mac Davis(Not a country fan.)
11. Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do), Aretha Franklin
12. Jungle Boogie, Kool and The Gang(Didn't do a thing for me.)
13. Midnight at the Oasis, Maria Muldaur(I don't understand how this made it to the top 100. Everyone I know HATES this song!)
14. You Make Me Feel Brand New, Stylistics(More wishy-washy pablum!)
15. Show and Tell, Al Wilson(Keep it to yourself Al!)
16. Spiders and Snakes, Jim Stafford (I LOVE 90% of Jim's songs!)
17. Rock On, David Essex
18. Sunshine On My Shoulder, John Denver(I LOVE my John, especially the early stuff!)
19. Sideshow, Blue Magic(No clue.)
20. Hooked On a Feeling, Blue Swede(Beats the hell out of the B.J. Thomas version!)
21. Billy Don't Be a Hero, Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods(The rhythm of this song sets my teeth on edge!)
22. Band On the Run, Paul McCartney and Wings(I love the bridge in this one!)
23. The Most Beautiful Girl, Charlie Rich(Makes me retch!)
24. Time in a Bottle, Jim Croce(I'm a HUGE Croce fan, and this one's my favorite!)
25. Annie's Song, John Denver(One of my favorites!)
26. Let Me Be There, Olivia Newton-John(The only Olivia fans I knew were guys, and I don't think they liked her for her music.)
27. Sundown, Gordon Lightfoot(I like a couple of Gord's songs, but this ain't one of 'em.)
28. (You're) Having My Baby, Paul Anka(Nice sentiment, but overplayed!)
29. Rock Me Gently, Andy Kim(Yet another repetitive, overplayed song!)
30. Boogie Down, Eddie Kendricks
31. You're Sixteen, Ringo Starr(Stick to your drums Ringo!)
32. If You Love Me (Let Me Know), Olivia Newton-John(See above.)
33. Dark Lady, Cher(Cher is my 2nd favorite female singer.)
34. Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me, Gladys Knight and The Pips(I like some of their stuff, but not this one.)
35. Feel Like Makin' Love, Roberta Flack(Killing Me Softly is the only one of her songs that I like.)
36. Just Dont Want To Be Lonely, Main Ingredient
37. Nothing From Nothing, Billy Preston(Blech!!)
38. Rock Your Baby, George McCrae(Double blech!!)
39. Top Of The World, Carpenters(The only Carpenters song I liked was Close to You, and that was because of the hot, blue-eyed boyfriend I had at the time.)
40. The Joker, Steve Miller Band(How can you go wrong with a line like:"Really love your peaches, wanna shake your tree."?)
41. I've Got to Use My Imagination, Gladys Knight and The Pips
42. The Show Must Go On, Three Dog Night(I was a huge 3DN fan, but hated this song.)
43. Rock the Boat, Hues Corporation(More wishy-washy drivel! Where's all the GOOD songs from '74?)
44.Smokin' In the Boys Room, Brownsville Station (This song won by a landslide as our class song, but the school admin wouldn't let us play it at graduation. What a bunch of stick-in-the-muds!)
45. Living For The City, Stevie Wonder (I'm not really a fan of Wonder)
46. The Night Chicago Died, Paper Lace (This one ranks right up there with Billy Don't Be a Hero!)
47. Then Came You, Dionne Warwick and The Spinners (Pretty sappy.)
48. The Entertainer, Marvin Hamlisch(Don't shoot me, but I actually own the soundtrack from The Sting. I'd never listened to ragtime before and found that I enjoyed some of it.)
49. Waterloo, Abba(No Abba; NO WAY!)
50. The Air That I Breathe, Hollies(It's OK, but I'd never buy it.)
51. Rikki Don't Lose That Number, Steely Dan(I like Steely Dan, but not this one.)
52. Mockingbird, Carly Simon(Carly Simon is my favorite female singer! However, this song will never be found on my MP3 player.)
53. Help Me, Joni Mitchell(I can't stand Joni Mitchell!)
54. You Won't See Me, Anne Murray(My Dad likes Anne Murray...'nuff said.)
55. Never, Never Gonna Give You Up, Barry White(I realize that Barry White albums are supposed to be an aphrodisiac, but he never had that effect on me.)
56. Tell Me Something Good, Rufus(Meh!)
57. You And Me Against The World, Helen Reddy(She fits into my Anne Murray category.)
58. Rock And Roll Heaven, Righteous Brothers(I like their old stuff better)
59. Hollywood Swinging, Kool and The Gang
60. Be Thankful For What You Got, William Devaughn(Never heard of him, or #61 and #62!)
61. Hang On In There Baby, Johnny Bristol
62. Eres Tu (Touch The Wind), Mocedades
63. Taking Care of Business, Bachman-Turner Overdrive(LOVE BTO! Let It Ride is my favorite.)
64. Radar Love, Golden Earring(Yeah!)
65. Please Come To Boston, Dave Loggins
66. Keep On Smilin', Wet Willie(Who?)
67. Lookin' For Love, Bobby Womack
68. Put Your Hands Together, O'Jays
69. On And On, Gladys Knight and The Pips
70. Oh Very Young, Cat Stevens (I LOVED Cat Stevens right up 'til the time he became Josef Islam.)
71. Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress), Helen Reddy
72. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John(I'm a HUGE Elton fan, especially his older stuff!)
73. I've Been Searchin' So Long, Chicago(The only Chicago song I like is If You Leave Me Now.)
74. Oh My My, Ringo Starr(Give it up already!)
75. For The Love Of Money, O'Jays
76. I Shot The Sheriff, Eric Clapton(Yeah, yeah. I know Marley did it better, but I like Clapton.)
77. Jet, Paul McCartney and Wings
78. Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Elton John(My least favorite Elton song.)
79. Tubular Bells, Mike Oldfield(Nope!)
80. Love Song, Anne Murray(I LOVE this song when it's sung by Loggins and Messina!)
81. I'm Leaving It All Up to You, Donny and Marie Osmond(Pardon me while I puke!)
82. Hello, It's Me, Todd Rundgren(Too whiny!)
83. I Love, Tom T. Hall(This song makes a better poem than a song.)
84. Clap For The Wolfman, The Guess Who(This song was claptrap from a GREAT group.)
85. I'll Have To Say I Love You In a Song, Jim Croce
85. The Lord's Prayer, Sister Janet Mead(I liked Desiderata better.)
87. Trying To Hold On To My Woman, Lamont Dozier(Who?)
88. Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing, Stevie Wonder
89. A Very Special Love Song, Charlie Rich
90. My Girl Bill, Jim Stafford(A cute play on words.)
91. My Mistake Was To Love You, Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye
91. Helen Wheels, Paul McCartney and Wings(Catchy, but not one of my favorites.)
93. Wildwood Weed, Jim Stafford(I'm just "wanderin' around behind the little animals".)
94. Beach Baby, First Class(Pure drivel!)
95. Me And Baby Brother, War
96. Rockin' Roll Baby, Stylistics
97. I Honestly Love You, Olivia Newton-John
98. Call On Me, Chicago
99. Wild Thing, Fancy(Is this the same Wild Thing the Troggs recorded? I don't think you can beat the Troggs' version. Am I right Pam?*giggle*)
100. Mighty Love, Pt. 1, Spinners

This was FUN! Like Suldog, I found that most of my favorite songs from my era were recorded before '74. I don't think the top 100 of '74 was too representative of what our generation listened to. I'd rather be known as the generation of Led Zeppelin and Steppenwolf!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Lubrication For the Economy

"Lubrication for the economy"; that's what the news media is calling the bailout. An alternate title for this post is: Bend Over and Smile Taxpayers!
All I have to say on this matter is: it's a sad reflection on our gov't when they unconstitutionally use taxpayer's hard-earned money to reward irresponsible behavior!

I have ZERO faith in the greed-driven, fantasy world of Wall Street, along with their lackeys on Madison Avenue. MARK MY WORDS, this bailout will fix nothing for "We the People" of this country. To the thousands and thousands of you that contacted your Senators and Representatives about not voting for the bailout; stick to your threat! Don't vote for these people ever again! The next politician that screams "socialism", when referring to exempting the insurance industry from our health care system, is likely to wind up with my foot down his/her throat!

Nothing will change after the presidential election, no matter who is elected! Our next president will be unable to implement his plans, because there won't be any money for them. Our tax dollars are tied up paying for wars and corporate bailouts.

I've got news for our politicians. Rural America is WAY past recession. We're quickly falling into depression! Property values, in our county, fell 20-25% this year. Our local banks are solvent, because they didn't jump on the sub-prime bandwagon. Will they be rewarded for acting responsibly? I doubt it. We live in the forgotten netherlands of "outstate". Our citizens struggle to pay their bills, while all our tax dollars go to big city development.

We no longer have a retirement fund. We had to cash it in, 2 years ago, in order to stay eligible for our state's health insurance. Next year we'll probably have to cash in our whole life insurance policies in order to be eligible. We TRIED to be responsible by living within our means and stashing away a minuscule nest egg over the last 30 years. Were we rewarded for this behavior? Nope; we were penalized! We re-invested our money in the only place we could: our home. Did this raise the value of our property? Nope; the value dropped 20%!

In the last year, my tips have dropped by 25%, while our cost of living has risen by 15-20%. L's hours will more than likely be cut by 30%, or more, for the winter. Our roof/porch project wound up costing us $2800 more than we planned. L lost 2 weeks and I lost 3 days of pay to get L's eyes fixed. On the bright side, we're debt free, with the exception of the $3700 left on our garage loan.

So what's my plan for surviving the winter? Pare down our budget...again! When L's place of employment closed 6 years ago, the first thing I did was knock down our budget. The first thing to go was the cell phone. Next, I didn't renew any of our magazine subscriptions. Then I reduced our cable and phone bills by $20/month apiece. We struggled through the following year with L working a series of part-time jobs, while collecting reduced unemployment benefits. When L landed a full-time job, it was still 25% less than he had been making at his former job. BUT, during this time we managed to keep paying our bills, and finished paying off our home and truck! That freed up $800/month from our budget, which became our salvation.

The following 5 years have found our small-town economy sliding further into the shitter, so we've been forced to make further cuts in our spending. The last vacation we took was 4 1/2 years ago. Last year we cut out the 6-10 meals/year that we ate out. We also cut the 2-3 movies/year that we watched at the movie theater. This year we cut all travel, including the 300 mile trip to visit relatives and weekend camping trips. Now we try to limit our 2 mile trips to town to one/week.

Next month, I won't be renewing our $125/year subscription to our local paper. I will buy the Monday paper for the grocery ads and read the news on the paper's website. We have limited our remaining home projects, for the season, to the materials we have on hand. This means that our old porch will remain in our yard until next spring, when we can afford the dumping fees. I will make it through the winter with my 6-yr-old jacket and 4-yr-old boots. We just turned our furnace on, for the night, this week, when our temps dipped into the 20F range. We will try to keep our furnace set at 65F until the weather dips below zero. We will be eating more pork and chicken, and less beef. Turkey burger casseroles and homemade soups will be our mainstay. I'll be cruising the internet for inexpensive, tasty, new recipes. The 2 light fixtures we use the most have been switched to fluorescent bulbs, and the rest of the lights will be OFF as much as possible.

We'll survive the winter with what we already have. Board games, reading, photography, and creative cooking will be our entertainment. We have food, shelter, water, and LOVE. What more could we ask for? We are truly blessed.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Virtual Barber

Z made me try this out. This led him to look up the auditory functions of the brain. Fun AND educational, you can't beat that!
Click HERE to try this out.
Be sure to wear headphones.