Monday, December 30, 2013

Real World, Real People, Real Problems

I don't remember how it actually happened since it was months ago, but I believe I had posted on Twitter something to the effect that my youngest brother lived in Monroe, Louisiana. I then was asked if I had ever watched Duck Dynasty by someone who lives in that area and knows the Robertson family. I had and hadn't been impressed. She convinced me I needed to give the program a second chance and I discovered these people were silly and likable. So, we watched the program on a marathon day and laughed our fool heads off.

For a couple of months we watched it at every opportunity and then I started noticing how Duck Dynasty was taking over society. At first it was a sign outside the Walgreen's drugstore I pass everyday. Sign was advertising a sale on Duck Dynasty posters and T-shirts. That lasted maybe 2 weekends and then Walmart took over. Suddenly there was Duck Dynasty everything all over the store, even in the bakery section. There were Duck Dynasty sugar cookies being purchased by guys with long hair and long beards wearing camo clothing and Duck Dynasty T-shirts. I had a *stop the Duck Dynasty world I want to get off* moment and haven't watched the program since.

I wasn't the least bit surprised at the GQ interview, nor at the reversal of Phil Robertson's A&E suspension. The program gives new meaning to the words *cash cow*. And the idolatry of the Robertson Family by their fans is unheard of in my lifetime.

The most popular TV shows in my lifetime were programs like "I Love Lucy" and M*A*S*H. None of us went around dressed in scrubs carrying IV bottles filled with booze as they did on M*A*S*H, but the swag generated by the Robertson family is in just about every household here in central NY. The entire concept of this brand of idolatry makes me uncomfortable, but it seems to be what's normal these days. I'd prefer it otherwise since, in my opinion, it borders on crazy.

It appears to me that we no longer just like things like celebrities, TV shows, politicians and some bloggers, we love them, we worship them. If they've done something to disappoint, there is a rush to defense that totally discounts the damage that person does. We do this in the name of our Constitutional right to "freedom of speech" which we don't truly understand or in the name of Jesus. And that puzzles me beyond measure since the message of Jesus was one of love and redemption, not hate and condemnation. I believe that and even I don't get it right all the time.

I know from personal experience that hate and condemnation is easy, it's the love and redemption part that's hard. It takes a lot of work and self awareness to achieve. We talk a good game but when the chips are down the masks slip and the Phil Robertson moments come out. Sometimes the outrage displayed is far more than the situation has earned and we give up and let the outrage win. Dialogue not poisoned by outrage would be a better way to handle it, but that's a personal opinion and not the popular way to do things. I'm going to take the unpopular path and let the Almighty sort things out in the end. I've got other things to work on.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Morning

It's quiet here for awhile. Hubby was called out on an emergency and I am enjoying the alone time. We'll be going to Oldest's for Christmas Dinner and then on to Youngest's for the last of the gift giving. Sometimes it's actually more tiring to travel to family on the holidays even when the mess is left for others to clean.

My aunt and uncle hosted the Family Christmas Eve as they always do. It was a joy to see them since they have new babies in the family. Allison and Emily are growing fast, and they have a new baby brother Liam. Sarah has also had a baby boy. Mason is a little older than Liam, and seems not to like other babies. Mason's sister Riley is 4 now and quite sure that Santa's only job is to bring her gifts once a year. She'd order him more often if she thought it would work. Got the biggest kick out of her walking around to each of us to wave goodbye because she was leaving now so Santa could come. Grandpa Raymond kept asking her where she was going and then broke her heart by telling her she had to wait for the rest of them. The tears didn't last long since there were exciting gifts to open.

Cousin Sean had a heart attack shortly before Thanksgiving. He's a jogger and since there were no warning signs of a blockage, they believe the jogging shook loose the plaque that builds in all our veins and arteries and it created a blockage. He's out of work for awhile and has to pinch his pennies so he asked his Mom to call me and tell me not to buy them anything for Christmas. I made jars of Brown Sugar scrub to give because I don't have that much money either.

Each jar had a label listing the ingredients: Brown Sugar, Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil and Love. I also added a Shut Up Sean, it's Christmas to the card included with the gift. He doesn't understand that for me the joy, the spirit of the season is in my giving, not receiving.

The only unpleasantness happened when my aunt gave her granddaughter one of those Exploderz battle weapon sets. It's a plastic launcher of squishy slime type pellets. The child appears to be a budding gun nut but she may grow out of it by the time she's old enough to discover boys. My aunt gave her the message that if she aimed her guns at any living thing, animals, birds or humans she'd take them back. I thought that was a good warning until she added that Emily could aim at the Amish.

My first reaction was to crank the outrage and demand to know how she could say something like that. My second reaction was to ask Hubby if he was ready to leave. I decided that neither was worth it in the long run, took a deep breath and started a conversation with my other uncle.

I don't know what her issue is with the Amish, I find them to be delightful people even if I don't agree with some of their beliefs or ways of doing things. I agree it would be nice if they'd clean up after their horses when they travel on the roads. It does get messy, but eventually everything will wash away in the rain we have here. Eventually everything will be the way it's supposed to be which isn't necessarily how we want it to be. In the meantime, I'll just breathe and enjoy Christmas. Merry Christmas Everyone!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dispatches From Bluesville? I Don't Think So

When Blogstream closed a few of us came to Blogger to continue with our habit. One of them, a gentleman named Wayfairer started a blog named Intratequaredeum. He was engaged in a spiritual journey as a Taoist who discovered he believed, after all, in God. Wayf was a fine poet, had a penchant for Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and no matter the situation was kindness personified.

He was absent for a time, came back briefly, changed his blog title To "Dispatches From Bluesville". I'm assuming to share his love of blues music although it never happened. His blog has been abandoned now for almost 2 years until today. Whoever is now posting on it, doesn't appear to be Wayf. Unless he's changed his name to firhza dian and has a developed interest in hard core porn.

The blog posts, complete with some pictures has shown up on my dashboard with entries happening about every hour or so. I've searched as much as I can to find a way to unfollow the blog and there doesn't appear to be one. I'm not a prude, but to have my entire reading list occupied by pornography every time I check in is more than I care to deal with.

I thought that if I could get to the widget with the follower icons listed in it, I could unfollow it that way. Apparently the blog squatter planned ahead for that and only shows his Google+ followers in his widget. Also, he adjusted the html to take the "flag this blog" option off.

I admit I am assuming it's not Paul (Wayf) on the blog now. I suppose it could be, people aren't always exactly who we think they are online, but this is too far a stretch in personality change for me to accept. I don't know what to do about getting this stuff off my Dashboard, if anyone has any ideas, please feel free to share.

Update! Going to Manage Reading List and logging into Google friend connect gave me a setting that included a "stop following this blog" feature. I used it and it's GONE! I keep forgetting everything works through Google here. Not always for the better either!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Takes All Kinds To Make A World

The first of my many, many Christmas gifts was given to me last week in the form of a new client. If you saw her on the street you wouldn't think there was a thing wrong with her. First impressions can sometimes be deceiving.

She's 67, stands close to 5'8" and weighs around 200 pounds. She obviously suffers from arthritis, and she actually does have a valve in her heart that doesn't quite close, but to hear her tell it, she's about to die any minute. On the whole she's actually fairly healthy and we couldn't figure out why she was given 6 hours a week coverage when others can only get 2 or 4. After spending 8 hours with her, doing my thing, I can tell that I'm there to observe her state of mind.

She has a son, I think. At least his name is on her paperwork as emergency contact, however, there appears to be zero contact between them. Some of the things she tells me about his wife might be the reason why. At least she blames his wife, when she's not telling me he's on the verge of divorce due to the many flaws he's discovered his wife has. I've no idea how she knows that since she hasn't heard from him since shortly after he got married. I'm checking the box on that one titled "wishful thinking".

She has no friends because they become somewhat irritated with her prevarications. To cover the loss, she claims they're cousins and no family ever gets along 100% of the time. Unfortunately I happen to know some of her "cousins" and they aren't any relationship to her at all. Nor are they willing to have anything to do with her ever again.

She's done everything in the world there is to do, been everywhere. She's a retired nurse, medical transcriptionist, bank manager and district manager for the convenience stores she actually was a cashier in. She used to have a band, she rode motorcycles, worked construction, and was a mafia hit woman. She's a miracle woman since she's had knee, hip and open heart surgery and no surgery left a scar on her.

In the past week I've heard so many ludicrous stories from her that are so obviously lies that I've found myself wondering if she's delusional. The stories are so constant that if she tells me it's snowing outside, I look because I don't trust a single word she says.

All I know is I'm keeping my head down and spending time biting my tongue because the extra money every week will come in handy. I'm just hoping that I'll be able to continue to act as if I believe everything she says. It's a tough job, but I'm a tough woman. If anyone can do it, I can.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ghosts Of Christmas Past

I took a long walk down memory lane last night. It started with my total satisfaction with my decision to use lots of multicolored lights on my little tree. One of those whims that come out of nowhere that seem silly but work well. My small tree is pre-lit with clear lights and it's nice, but lacked something for me this year. It took me awhile to find the string of lights I wanted and I simply wrapped it around and around the tree until I was happy. Pine cones, red berries, snowmen and all those multicolored lights. I'm sure a decorator would tell me I have too many lights for the size of the tree, and I would smile and makes me happy.

I was remembering Christmases of my childhood. All those big heat producing lights that made the bubbles run up to the tips, and the regular lights that you added metal stars to in order to reflect the colors. Grannie had these coach lantern shaped ornaments with little spinners in them and when set with a bulb under them the heat would make the little spinner whirl like crazy.

The ornaments were glass and much more interesting than the ornaments of today. They had shape, color and texture not found in the bags of ornaments one buys today. We always stored them in the boxes they came in and would pray we did a good enough job of storing them so they wouldn't break. It took many of those ornaments to decorate the big trees we used to have in our homes each Christmas.

Dad was a bit anal about how our tree was decorated. My job was to separate the strands of tinsel that had managed to ball up in the old shoebox it was stored in and put it on the tree one strand at a time. Back then tinsel for Christmas trees was made out of a very thin aluminum. A bit like cheap aluminum foil that rips every time you touch it. By the time the tree was up and fully decorated my small hands would be sore from the friction of tree branches on them. Dad insisted each branch of the tree be tinsel adorned beginning at a point closer to the trunk and brought forward strand by single strand. Mom would get mad at him and when he wasn't looking she'd grab what was left and toss it in a ball onto the back part of the tree where he couldn't see it. Then there was always hot chocolate with marshmallow fluff. Real cocoa made from Hersheys with milk and sugar cooked in a pan on the stove.

There was always snow on the ground and in the evenings the week before Christmas, Dad would drive us around the city to the neighborhoods where people decorated their homes with Christmas lights. Mom and Grandma were active in the American Legion auxiliary and we would go caroling at all the nursing homes and at the county hospital on the Sunday before Christmas. We baked cookies, made popcorn balls and drank numerous cups of hot chocolate with marshmallow fluff.

As a child, none of the work involved in Christmas was apparent. As an adult, much of that work and worry tended to take the joy out of the season. At least it did for me these past few years. For some reason, this year I have joy. This year the pine boughs outside my windows are decked with snow, there are multi- colored lights on my tree. I have a smile on my face and a cup of hot chocolate within my grasp. I did skip the marshmallow fluff since I didn't really like it anyways. This year it really is Christmas, it makes me happy.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

When You Live With Your Head Up Your Ass, You're In The Dark.

Almost every Tea Party Conservative that I know has backed away from the ideal due to the damage their elected representatives have caused in Congress. I should say the intelligent ones have. Which makes me wonder about my own family. While I can get my step-mother to see my point on occasion, she always returns to her original ways as soon as I'm out of sight. I'd say out of mind, but that would indicate she has one.

Latest of my family to enter the political opinion arena is an aunt. I've always given her credit for her liberality, however, it appears that as we age we really do become our Mothers. Her Mom was a Tea Party Conservative before there was a Tea Party. Totally, without any warning at all, I found myself listening to her "opinion" that all people who don't work are on Welfare and we need to drug test them before we pay them. *sigh*

By all means let's totally ignore the FACT that we still have 10% unemployment where I live. While we're at it let's ignore that we have a welfare to work program that only allows people to be on Welfare for 5 years. I admit that mathematics wasn't my strong suit but it does seem to me that 5 years isn't a lifetime. Which makes me wonder where we get the idea that Welfare is a lifetime income.

Around here the "opinionated" call them Wellies. They are, for the most part, on SSI rather than state welfare. Some of them are bi-polar, some have other mental health issues. Some are learning disabled. Quite a few of them can't read. None of them have high school diplomas or skill sets that make them employable as anything other than janitors and even they need to read and write.

My aunt, in her infinite wisdom now that she has become her mother, has decided that these wellies need to be drug tested and if they pass we need to hand them brooms and force them to sweep streets for their checks. These people get checks, food stamps, health insurance and rent subsidies all of which bring them UP to poverty level. I don't believe any of the ones I know asked to be bi-polar or learning disabled so that they could spend their entire lives living in poverty. Nor should they be treated as anything less than the human beings they are. Last time any group of people were "forced" to labor I believe we called them slaves?

Her sister lives in Florida, where they do that. Her sister is so fixated on it being the right thing to do that she apparently has ignored the FACT that drug testing is costing Florida taxpayers more, since they aren't finding the volume of druggies they thought they would, than it would have to pay these people the benefits they're asking for. Of course, creating jobs that actually pay people to work seems not to be on any agenda that I've heard of. Jobs, which pay people enough to support themselves on would reduce the need for welfare programs now wouldn't it?

Since I have stopped watching cable news and have limited my online time to a few minutes a session, I'm avoiding the hyperbole we seem to think is news. I read what the Pope has said about trickle down economics. He's right. It effects our ability to make a living and contributes to the climate of fear that allows people to hate those who are worse off than we are simply because they buy the things every one else does. "On Welfare and you have a cell phone? Oh no, my taxes are much too high, you're a pig or scumbag" say the Tea Party

Which brings me to another thought that Walmart and other big box stores should be paying attention to. At some point if people aren't making enough money to support themselves, they won't be buying much no matter how cheap you make your price. Since Walmart keeps cutting it's employees hours to hire more people, it's own income has been slipping. Food stamps, which your employees need due to your cutting hours back to 18-20 when the whim hits you, means they have enough for rent, utilities, telephone, food and nothing left for toys, games, clothes, etc. Nothing like trickling down on your own employee/customers ability to have enough money to shop with is there?