Thursday, January 24, 2013

Short Term Disability Musings

Well, I am a terrible blogger, and haven't updated since last January.  I "blog" on Facebook - put all my thoughts and opinions there.  I guess I should start putting them here, and just link to it from Facebook when I update, so folks who so desire can come look.

My brother, Bill, once coined a term for how our (his and my) minds work.  He called it "mind laps".  No, not mind lapse, but "mind laps".  Our many simultaneous thoughts run around and around so quickly that sometimes different thoughts overtake one another, hence "lapping" one another.  It's scary at times, especially for those trying to keep up, but it's also delightful for those of us who have the gift of thinking a million different things at once.

I've been off work for 7 weeks after plantar fasciitis release surgery on my foot.  Foot is improving daily, I've had time to read a few books, completed several crochet projects, some new and some that have been UFOs around the house for a while, watched lots of movies, surfed the web for color schemes for new bedroom decor (in 6 years), etc.

I have 6 more years of full time work before I can retire at age 59 1/2.  I cannot wait!  When I worked at Hermiston High School (1984-2004), I wasn't sure I'd want to retire when I hit my 30 year mark, because I loved my job, loved the interaction with teenagers, loved the teachers, and felt like I made a genuine contribution to the school, the kids, the teachers, and the world in general.  I left there because of a change in adminstration that was unbearable to me (and many others). 

PGE is good to me.  I make more money and get more paid time off than I ever did working for the school.  Better benefits, etc.  But....  I'm not in any way, shape, or form an integral part of the workings of the Boardman Coal Plant.  I'm off for 2 months, and I'll have a million e-mails and a pile of work to catch up on, but nothing that couldn't have just as easily been handled by a temp or a substitute.  It's boring, it's unfulfilling.  But it's a paycheck and I'm not being made miserable by my boss every day of the week, so it's a means to an end.

So, I work to make a living, and I'll be happy to retire when the time finally arrives.  Meanwhile, I take comfort in knowing that I have a REAL life outside of work, and work is just work, whereas REAL things like grandbabies and kids and husband and mom and friends and music and books...  yes, so many pleasurable things...  are what it's really all about.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Music in my life

I had a blessed childhood. We were not well off by any stretch of the worldly imagination. My mommy was very frugal and very talented with money and sewing, cooking, etc. I never felt deprived. I felt safe and loved and protected - always.

As I am digitizing some old albums that were hand-me-downs from my mommy, I am reflecting on how very especially blessed I am that I was raised with music. Not just music when we were in church, but music in every aspect of our lives. As far back as I can remember, there was music in our lives. In the car, radio or no radio, there was music. Many of the songs we sing in Sweet Adelines are songs my mommy and daddy sang in the car when I was little. I don't recall when we got our first record player at home - Mommy must have had it before I was born. But I do remember the records, and many of my memories are triggered by particular songs.

We heard George Beverly Shea, Anita Bryant, Burl Ives, classical piano, Sing Along With Mitch Miller, and a host of other and hugely diverse music. I credit my mommy for my love of music, for my insatiable thirst to hear it, make it, analyze it, absorb it, and live it.

My son, for a school assignment, once had to ask several people if they had to give up either their sigth or hearing, which they would choose. I hesitated not one second: I'd keep my hearing. I love to see beautiful things, I love to see a smile on a loved one's face, I love a beautiful quilt, a breath-taking mountain view. But without music, my being would surely shrivel up and die.

Thank you, Mommy, for exposing me to every type and style of music, and for teaching me to love it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Why do we have to be nice those who are nasty?

One of my biggest struggles in life is being nice to those who don't deserve it. I'm fairly good at ignoring them and pretending they don't exist. But when I am forced to interact with those so clearly controlled by the powers of this world; the selfish, hateful, self-serving, back-stabbing... well, you get the idea. Returning kindness for hatefulness feels to me like rewarding their bad behavior. It feels like weakness to me. I am a fighter by birth, nature, and culture. I was raised to think independently, to defend myself and those I love from injustice and unfairness. We Walkers are the first to give each other a hard time, but when "outsiders" come at us, we are a cohesive force with which to be reckoned. So, as a Christian, I understand all of the Scriptural admonitions to treat others with love and compassion. I understand about giving someone my cloak when they ask for my shirt. I understand about going a mile when forced to go half a mile. I get all that, I do. But when I am not being persecuted FOR my faith, but in spite of it, simply because I allow it in an attempt to be the bigger person... It's hard to swallow. And I have to wonder, am I helping this person? Is my apparent acceptance of her hatefulness and downright meanness reinforcing her bad behavior? I feel it is. When I confront her and draw my line in the sand, I am free of her nastiness for a short period. But because I choose not to be confrontational on a daily basis, I (and many around me) endure her tirades,tantrums, and hatefulness. I just don't see how this is for the greater good. Jesus confronted those who were wrong, did he not? I'm not so sure it's Christ-like to see someone on a daily basis so blatantly mistreating others and cheating the system and not take any action at all. Is it wrong to pray for her to find work elsewhere so she can torture someone else?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When rules are stupid

I saw a post on FB today about someone being #89 at the DMV when they were only on #45. It reminded me of my experience recently at JoAnn Fabrics.

JoAnn's has gone to the "take a number" method of cutting yardage. So, I walk up, there are a couple people ahead of me, I take a number. I'm number 26, the big lighted sign hanging from the ceiling in view of the entire stores says they are on number 20. There are two cutters. One cutter finishes, looks up at the lighted sign, walks over to the microphone and shouts into it, "Nimber 21, now serving number 21!" One of the people in front of me steps up and hands over her number and several bolts of fabric. A gentleman standing in the waiting group steps up and says, "I want all the velcro on this roll, I just need it measured so I can have a ticket to take up to the cashier." #21 looks at him like he's begging for spare change and tells the cutter how much she wants of the first fabric. The second cutter finishes and calls #22. Number 22 steps up with several items to be cut. The gentleman again mentions that he only wants that one piece of velcro measured. Same reaction. The man looked at me in frustration. Without lowering my voice I said, "Sir, if I had a number ahead of yours, I'd trade you, but I'm behind you in this line." Numbers 23 and 24 look at us and quickly look away so we won't expect them to do anything of the sort. Cutter finishes and shouts on loudspeaker that she's now serving number 23. Poor gentleman tries again to ask the cutter if she can just measure out that velcro before starting another pile of fabric. Cutter ignores him and asks how much fabric #23 wants. By now, I'm thinking how ridiculous this is....

Poor man waits his turn. Cutter 2 finishes number 23 and calls over loud speaker for number 25 like he hasn't been trying to get in line the whole time. Finally, cutter 1 finishes with # 24, I'm the only one still standing there, I step right up and say, "I'm number 26, you don't have to yell it over the loudspeaker. She looks up at the sign, which says 25, pushes a button to change it to 26, walks over to the mic and shouts that she's now serving number 26! I am flabbergasted. And, being me, I cannot help making a point of just how ridiculous this is. I start jumping up and down, shouting, "Oh, it's me! It's me! I've got number 26! It's me!" Both cutters stop what they are doing and look at me with their mouths agape. The man with the velcro starts to laugh, picks up his measured velcro and walks to the cashier. The second cutter, who has a tag claiming he's the manager, says, "We have to call out the numbers, it's company policy." I say, "Will you at least admit how silly it is to shout it over the loudspeaker when you know I'm standing right here?" Nope, he wouldn't. It's company policy and number 27 might be out there in the store somewhere waiting to hear that they are on #26 so she can hurry over. Hurry over? The store isn't that big that she won't hear #27 called in time to get over there, and the big red lighted sign is visible from all over the store, as well as the audible buzz when the number changes.

Sometimes, rules are stupid, and the managers who enforce them are even more stupid. Just sayin'.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Help

I went to the theater to see "The Help". I read (actually listened to - audio books while driving - can't be beat) the book a few months ago, wanted to see the movie.

I enjoyed the movie, although of course the movie is never as good as the book. But I was somewhat perplexed by the reactions of those around me in the theater. I felt that they completely missed the point. They laughed when I wanted to cry, they snickered when there was nothing funny, and they cried and/or sighed at times, but I just felt it was for the wrong reason. They should have read the book before they came to the movie - or maybe they did and they just plain don't get the point.

I tried to unobtrusively check out who was in the crowd - it seemed the inappropriate (in my opinion) responses were coming mostly from groups of younger women, perhaps in late twenties, early thirties - perfectly made-up and coifed blonde "real wives of Eastern Oregon" types. This bothers me even more. Are they that oblivious to what truly went on in our country before (and after) the Civil Rights Act? Yes, I grew up just at the tail end of that, but lived in the south for 5 years as a child, and certainly was not, even at that young age, unaware of the distinctions and complete acceptance of the inequality of the races.

I'm disturbed. It frightens me that perhaps they really don't get it.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." ~ George Santayana

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On having a granddaughter

Two years ago, I was subjected to an experience that taught me many things, not the least of which was that I'm not sure I like girls very much. Well, let me qualify that. After almost two years of time invested in a young woman who definitely needed our help, but whom we learned was beyond any help we could give her, I am gun-shy, especially when it comes to "princess" girls.

I grew up with brothers - my sister was much older and didn't bring as many friends around the house as did my 3 brothers. I raised three sons and was second mom to several more. I've been (over)exposed to boys - I know how guys work, I understand them. I never liked the drama queen sissy girls in school, and I don't like them now.

When I recently learned that my second grand-child will be a girl, I had a few moments of panic. Everyone thinks I've been "deprived" all these years by not having a daughter. Pffftttt - I thought I wanted a daughter - right up until my third son was born. From that point on, I do not recall ever feeling like I was missing out on anything. I love being the mom of all boys. I love being the baby sister of 3 boys. I love my crazy, ornery, awesome nephews. I dearly love being the Nana of a rough and tough all-boy grandson.

But I'm starting to get used to the idea of a little girl in our lives. As Chad so wisely stated, "Mom, Sam isn't a drama-queen kind of girl - she's not going to let her daugher be a drama-queen kind of girl." He's right. My beautiful daughter-in-law Samantha has been nothing but a blessing from day one. I trust her completely to give me a granddaughter who will be a wonderful blessing as well.

I'm kind of (nervously) looking forward to experiencing a little girl. I'm hoping for curly auburn hair and brown eyes. And of course hoping she chooses choir and basketball over dance-team and cheerleading.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I've been receiving lots of spam and seeing lots of FB "copy and paste this" posts about the government and how they spend money. I find it rather ironic.

DISCLAIMER: I do not read a newspaper, nor do I watch the TV news - I hate CNN and FoxNews and long ago determined that there is no such thing as unbiased journalism - in fact, I'd go so far as to say that no one even TRIES to be unbiased any more.... So when you read this, read this knowing that I don't know all the details or ins and outs of the most recent government spending issues. And I am most assuredly biased.

Here's what I do know:
The government of the US is WAY in debt.
The US senators and congressmen apparently get to VOTE on their pay raises or cuts.
We have MILLIONS of folks living on welfare, ADC, food stamps.

Here's what I think:

I see the posts about how disgusting it is that the government is so far in debt and how something needs to be done about it. Then I saw all the posts about the soldiers possibly not being paid, then most recently, my mom said she might not get her SS check or her government retirement check because of some decision being made in congress.

Don't get me wrong - I definitely think the government officials are overpaid and I think it's odd that they get to VOTE themselves raises. I think it's unfair that they take no pay cut but consider cutting the pay of soldiers who are on missions determined by this same government. I think it's unfair that anyone who has paid into SS for their whole working life or worked in civil defense all their lives should be threatened with no checks.


Isn't it true that (I learned that little turn of phrase from the lawyer who questioned me as a "hostile witness" when I testified in an unfair labor practice hearing many years ag0 - anyway)... Isn't it true that we all only care about our own pocketbook? Why should be expect congress to be any different? I haven't heard even one of these people who are protesting so loudy volunteer to give up some of THEIR income to fix this debt. I'd even go so far as to say that most of us whine and cry and have fits if we find out our taxes have gone up.

I have a solution. See all those friends, family members and neighbors sitting at home, not going to work - not even at McDonald's or Walmart? How is it they are still paying rent and eating...and smoking and drinking? Well, I'll tell you how - I pay the government out of MY paycheck, and the government gives it to them. I have no problem with a struggling young family getting food stamps to help out when they are both working and doing their best to make it on their own. But when I see able-bodied and slightly disabled young people sitting around collecting welfare and food stamps and not even trying to find a job... I want to slap them. There are LOTS of jobs one can do, even if one has some mental or physical disabilities - but it's so much easier for some people to just sit home and let ME pay their bills. Oh, and just in case they are bored, they make more babies to play with, and for me to pay for! I pay their hospital bills, I pay for their food, their clothing, their housing. Heck, I pay for them to go to college! But I couldn't afford to send my own boys to college - and because they are middle-class, white, male, both parents have always worked for a living, and they haven't manufactured any "disabilities" that qualify for a free ride.... we couldn't get any government help at all.

So I have a solution. If you are able to think and move, you don't get food stamps unless you have a REAL job - even if it's at McD's or Walmart. If you are able to think and move, you don't get Social Security unless you have PAID IN to Social Security for the years prior to your disability. And NOBODY gets any government aid at all without a monthly drug screen. I'm not ok with paying your bills while you sit at home and do drugs.

And I just learned that Oregon has 50,000 people with "medical marijuana" cards. Really? Give me flippin' break. Thankfully, I also just learned that Oregon passed a bill that every "medical marijuana" card holder must pay $200 a year to retain the card and the suppliers must also pay $200 a year to maintain the license to sell. I do not for one second believe we have 50,000 Oregonians with such severe pain/nausea that they have to use marijuana to control it. And since they can't pass a drug screen, I reckon most don't have jobs.... so guess who pays for the marijuana - and now the $200 fee...

I'm tired of it. I'm tired of working, but I can't afford to retire yet. But I see many who sit at home and enjoy the good life on MY MONEY!!!!

Government - take a clue from FDR - instead of handing out money, hand out jobs. Create them. No work, no food. It's Biblical.