Maybe We Should Have Been Paid Better From The Start

March 26, 2020

I hope everyone is well out there. We’re doing alright here. Kids are driving me nuts, as the oldest seems to have gone off the rails a bit and the 5 year old has decided that sleeping is optional. Then there is the newborn… . But that’s not what is on my mind.

If you’re from the US, you’re aware of the recent stimulus passed by the senate and likely to be passed by the house. I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty of that.

Instead, I just want to touch upon what I have in the title.

This money is going to be a godsend for a lot of folks, especially those who aren’t able to work right now. Who are trying to make ends meet where one end isn’t even there any more.

It’s also going to be a godsend for a lot of folks who are working through this. I am very fortunate to have an income that is likely to stay pretty stable through these next few months. We are probably not going to have to worry about making the mortgage or putting food on the table.

But we’ll still qualify for that money from the government. And it is still going to be of massive help to us.

And we have family and friends who are either working or are retired (and still working, in more than a few cases) who will be even happier to see some extra cash roll in.

Which has me thinking that maybe spending the last forty plus years devaluing the American worker, stagnating the minimum wage, and tearing apart unions have become chickens come home to roost.

Maybe, just maybe, this financial windfall the government is handing out wouldn’t be quite so necessary if we had made it a goal of this country, a priority, to make sure that the majority of people made enough money not to just sustain themselves but to thrive. To pay off their bills. To save for tomorrow. To also have some sort of wealth to pass down.

Instead, as we have become a society of service jobs rather than manufacturing, we have chosen to devalue that work. To say it doesn’t deserve to be paid more. It’s cheap labor.

So we have a growing number of people living paycheck to paycheck. Who rack up credit card and loan debt. Who accumulate a mountain of college debt because we are led to believe a degree is necessary for anything (and it’s not entirely wrong).

When this is over, when we can finally start looking forward as a nation again, maybe it’s time to go over our values a bit. People complain about government, but they keep electing the same people. Who do the same horrible things. Who accrue a bunch of debt on the backs of our kids, while eroding social safety nets to pay for it.

Maybe our priorities have been a bit skewed. I don’t know. This is just off the top of my head. Maybe I’m wrong. Stay safe out there, folks.  Stay healthy.

She’s Only Five For So Long

March 16, 2020

Well, this is pretty damn lousy.

Like most folks out there, life has taken a turn for the surreal with the whole corona virus pandemic. Schools have been closed. The Wife is working from home. Restaurants have now been closed. Grocery stores have been hit by shoppers working like locusts.

I’m hit by the same worries I’m sure most have right now. I don’t want to get sick. I really don’t want my kids to get sick. I’m most concerned for my parents, who are in that big at-risk area, getting sick.

still, the whole self-quarantine, stay-at-home thing has seemed more  a nuisance than anything. Then my daughter’s dance classes were canceled.

I know that sounds trivial. A bunch of tiny girls with their hair up in buns running around in something vaguely resembling harmony. But she was looking forward to it. She thought the costumes were so pretty, and she’s been doing her shuffle step all around the house. It was going to be one of those moments as a parent and kid, with all of the pictures and memories.

A touch stone of experience.

And now it’s likely just gone.

Is it going to scar her for life? Of course not, but it still hurts. While all of us begin to acclimate to living a bit more constrained of a life, I think these are going to be the real sacrifices. Yeah, we can’t go to the bar or restaurant like normal. we can’t go to the hockey game. That sucks.

Other people are not going to have high school or college graduation ceremonies. Weddings and funerals may be more sparsely attended. Dance recitals will be canceled.

The corona virus isn’t just stealing our time or our convenience. It’s not just disrupting our lives.

It is stealing our memories.

A Little Empty

March 8, 2020

It’s been a rough week.

Our dog has been sick for a couple of weeks. She wouldn’t put her weight on one of her rear legs and she threw up some bloody bile. We took her to the vet, got some pills for he stomach, and the vet couldn’t feel anything wrong in the leg.

A couple of weeks later, the dog was refusing to eat her dry food and was getting more ginger with her leg. we went back to the vet, the vet did some xrays, and they didn’t come back with good news.

she had abnormal bone growth on her leg. There was a slim chance it was fungal, in some way, but it was almost certainly cancer. We opted for palliative care, got some pain pills. we hoped for a month.

we got two days.

Our dog’s health just slid away. Her bowel movements became just…liquid. And then there was blood in it. Or it was maybe just blood. She nearly quit eating entirely. We had to strongly encourage it, I fixed her chicken and rice. And she still lost nearly three pounds between our appointment Tuesday and Thursday. This was after losing over seven pounds in the two weeks between the prior appointments.

Our dog could no long lay close to us because she couldn’t stretch out enough to be comfortable. She just looked sad all of the time. She seemed to be in constant pain regardless of the meds.

so. We put her down.

Now the house feels so empty.

It feels so odd to not have her poking her head out from under the table. We’ve had pizza the past couple of days and the kids don’t eat the crust, but now there’s no one to give the crust to. I don’t have to take the dog for a nightly walk before going to bed.

There is now a hole in this home.


March 4, 2020

I’ve tried to disconnect from politics a bit, as I’ve said in the past. at times it just sort of gets shoved up into my life, though.

There is a fairly popular and well-known Polish bakery in my town. It’s Polishness isn’t exactly hidden, the name is…well, Polish. The people who run it are Polish. They offer up Polish pastries and paczkis,

I was there to get paczkis, they have a reputation for them. Authentic, old world recipe, etc. I don’t know, I can’t vouch for their “authenticity,” whatever that is worth. Their apricot paczkis are just crazy good. So I go.

I’m leaving and I pass a guy getting out of his truck. Nod hello. Nods back. Seems nice enough.  I have to walk around the back of his truck to get to my car and I notice a bumper sticker on his truck.

“No Shithole Immigrants.”

now, I know the argument will be that they only don’t want immigrants from “those” countries, but they’re walking into a Polish bakery, a bakery opened by immigrants selling pastries made by immigrants and in a style particular to said immigrants…maybe you should get a damn clue.

and it’s not like immigrants from Eastern Europe were always viewed favorably, either. I’m pretty certain that at different points in history Poland would have been lumped into a “shithole” country list by people like our president. They came here, they made a life, they have become fixtures of the community.

I don’t know if the person was just ignorant of the hypocrisy of their selective anti-immigration, or if they are fine with just being blatantly racist in their views. I’m not sure it matters which. Just…took some of the fun out of going and getting my paczkis.

I’m doing this for a certificate?!

February 4, 2020

My oldest is on an IEP. It stands for Individualized Education Program.  He has had some social and development issues that have demanded a bit of extra understanding in his schooling; really, just a bit more time and reiterating of directions and reminding of due dates. Prompts to focus. etc. In the realm of things handled under IEPs he is very high functioning, so it’s always stood out a bit among his peers. Which has always been a bit of the issue, too. The kids in the classes he is typically in are also kids who don’t have any issues doing well at school.

All of that said, his ability to go off to college, live in a dorm, handle the work and everything on his own…well, as parents we have been really concerned. It’s also pushed us to hedge bets a bit.

Fortunately, our oldest is also into computers. He started to talk about having a career in them in some way (he’s currently saying he wants to be a “programmer.”). Which was  great, because we think it’s a career that would work well with his skill set and temperament.

Also, his school had a program that worked in conjunction with the local community college that allowed the student to take classes for two years and graduate high school also with a certificate in this field that would give the kid a leg up on getting work after high school. It also offered internships the last semester to further get these kids in the door somewhere.

This was a god send to us. Our oldest wants to go to college, but if he can’t here was something that would give him a viable career path that wasn’t retail/service industry jobs. Something that would stand a bit better chance for him to move up and be able to adequately provide for himself.

He’s almost a year through the program right now.

We went in to renew his IEP for the last time yesterday and we found out that the school had decided to do away with the program. They were replacing those courses with four electives including a graphic design course that seemed pretty similar to a graphic design course they already had and a class that basically taught kids how to use Google. I kid you not. it’s called something like “Optimizing Google Experience.”  Because of this our school is also losing the teacher they had who ran this program, a teacher our kid really likes.

We’ve been led to believe that our oldest will be able to finish his program next year by going to the community college’s campus for part of the day. Our boy, being who he is, doesn’t want to go because he’d be at his school then for only a couple of hours every day. At some point, it was mentioned that he needed to finish the program for the certificate, which led to the sentence you see as the title of this post.

We think we have him understanding why the certificate is important and why the classes the school is replacing his program with are a joke. We hope so. But his school just pulled out the safety net that we thought we had safely erected beneath him. It’s frustrating.

Never Slowing Down

January 30, 2020

…but I keep growing old.

It feels like I have been bouncing from one thing to the next quite a bit already this year. Trying to get things sorted, start an exercise thing (which I still need to do today…at 1030 at night…), and just find a productive positive move forward.

I’ve been meaning to make a post about my attempts to make my own bread. I keep forgetting to take pictures, though. Or I’m just really busy and I barely have time to make the bread let alone to document it.

What pushed me towards this I’m not quite sure. We go through a lot of bread and store bought bread just isn’t that great unless. Maybe the stuff that costs $2,$3, or $4 a loaf is better, but I get the store brand because I’m going through two or more loaves a week with the lunches I’m packing, snacks I’m making, and toasts I’m toasting.

Yesterday I was fighting the idea of supper. I couldn’t come up with anything I wanted and if I don’t want it I extrapolate that out to no one else wanting it. I was going to do 15 bean soup, but it feels like we’ve been doing that all of the time lately and I just didnt feel up to another bowl of 15 bean.

so, it got shelved.

And off the shelf came lentils.

I googled lentil soup recipes, found something whose ingredients I could match up with and went with it. what would go well with a bowl of lentil soup? A big loaf of warm home made bread.

The soup is going to together. The bread is coming together. Both are stewing in their own warmth. The Boy gets home, signalling that I have a half hour before I have to leave to pick up The Girl. I get the soup on a low simmer. I put the two loaves of bread in the oven in 330 as I’m going out the door. Everything is perfect.

Until I get home. The oven has warmed to…225 degrees. The bread is…warm? Not hot. not done. Not baked.

My oven has quit working.  In the middle of making bread.

I don’t have pictures of it.

I Need My Energy

January 24, 2020

I have become pretty blah about life the past few years. I have a house I’m supposed to be renovating, a family I’m supposed to be caring for, etc. and a lot of days I want to just go back to bed.

I’m not entirely sure what to trace it back to, I lean towards it being just an accumulation of decisions that has sort of left me directionless outside of what I have to do for others. Which isn’t the worst thing, but I have found that I do very little for myself that gives me long term satisfaction.

Trying to reverse this course isn’t exactly easy. But I’m trying. I went to my first wellness visit in maybe six years.  I have a third (and final, thank you vasectomy) kid coming soon, and I’ve realized that I’m going to have to make it in this world a few years longer. Or at least make an honest attempt at it.

So, I’ve got to get my cholesterol in control. it’s not crazy, but it’s a tad high. I need to get off my butt more often, and stay off it. I need to eat more veggies and fruits and less pastas and carbs. And less chocolate. damn, I like my chocolate.

I also have to find a way to redirect my energy towards things that will actually make a difference in my life and not just waste it. So, I’m trying to care less about politics. Maybe more accurately, I’m trying to remain informed while also not attaching too much of my personal time and energy towards fruitlessly worrying/griping/hating on it.

I need to devote more energy towards my family and my house. I want to start writing again. I’ve kicked around the idea of doing lit reviews here again. Or a cooking/baking blog. Maybe both because it’s my blog and why not?

Politics definitely deserves less of my energy, regardless of what else I do. I care, I have my values, and I vote.  At some point, it just is what it is and I think it’s just healthier to accept the limitations of what I can do and change. Maybe when I get some other ducks in their rows I can come back to this and be more effective in my political caring, but I’m just not there right now.

Alright, I have to take the dog out and get to bed. Sorry for the only moderately coherent thought splatter here but I just have this mess in my head that I’m trying to suss out, and right now this is the place where the sussing is happening.

Be The Change

January 3, 2020

There is a cookbook I like called BTC, so I’m just stealing it’s title for my blog post because I lack originality right now. Like most people the new year sort of shoves me in the direction of wanting to change myself in some way. Though, to be honest, they are just cemented versions of changes I have been eyeing for days/months/years.

So, my new year’s resolutions are often recycled from year to year. Resolutions is really just another way of saying goals. I set end points, destinations I want to arrive to at some point in the near distant future.

But I never have a path. A process. I don’t have a personal GPS to plot the way for me to easily, mindlessly follow.

this year I think I am going to try to set my goal as making the process to be, well, better. I over complicate my life by just being too damn lazy, such as not setting menus for the week and instead trying to just throw suppers together from night to night.  I want to be more productive, but I’m not entirely sure what that means. I think part of it is trying to start writing again. Some of it might be learning to play a musical instrument or just how to braid my daughter’s hair.

she’s starting to notice how inept I am at getting her ready for school in the morning.

Part of it is taking better care of myself, being healthier, etc. and that’s started by making the first wellness doctor’s appointment I’ve had in years. The last time I was there the doc wanted to hack something off my leg. I still have the thing on my leg. I’m curious if she’ll still want to cut it off (she clarified that she would use a knife. well,yeah. I hope so).

I’m trying to eat better. And less. got a jump start by being sick for the last two months. I eat all of the time. In a weird way I’m coming to grips with the idea that I’m probably going to live for at least another twenty years, and because I’m having another kid, I will need to also be relatively healthy and mobile and well-adjusted for those years. I can’t just let all of my shit fall apart.

I know that sounds strange, but the idea of living to a ripe old age has always seemed weirdly foreign to me. Which is probably a focus for another blog post.

Anyway. Here’s to a new year, and hopefully a positive one.

Don’t Give Up Until, True Love Will Find You In The End

September 16, 2019

It’s funny how some things click home. The passing of Daniel Johnston has bothered me. For any who don’t know, he was a musician from Texas who was…different. Other musicians loved him, but his peculiarities likely prevented him from ever catching on in the mainstream.

I came upon Johnston probably ten years ago. Maybe more. Then I sort of lost track of him. Seeing that he passed away last week sent me back down a youtube memory hole, pulling up his songs and people covering his songs.

Mostly I’ve been listening to Love Will Find You In The End. It’s been strangely devastating, partly from what I put into it from my end, partly from what I know of Johnston’s life.

Lately, I’ve been having a hard time finding some sort of over arching purpose to life. I’ve sort of heaved it upon my kids at this point. Why do I do what I do? Well, because I try to make things slightly better for my kids.

For myself? I don’t know. The Wife and I have lately been talking about moving. Sometimes I’m up for it, lately I’ve been digging in my heels. The soonest we’d move is when our oldest is out of high school, so it would still be at least 18 months off. Not exactly a pressing decision to make at any rate. But it’s something I still think about it quite a bit.

Because that is sort of what I do. I latch onto something and dump far too much energy into it, far beyond what it deserves at the time. Probably as a way of putting off dumping that energy into something more pressing. self-sabotaging to a degree.

The Wife thinks we’ll be happier elsewhere, that we might just be an ill-fit for the area we live in. I’m leaning harder towards the idea that I might just not be happy anywhere. Listening to Johnston singing about love finding you in the end, but that you have to make yourself available to it, you have to step into the light.

I wonder if I am capable of stepping into the light of life. Of finding that happiness or at least contentment regardless of where I am living. Or if I choose shadow. I’m trying to work on it.

Here’s maybe my favorite recording of Daniel Johnston singing True Love Will Find You In The End. He’s older here, his health seems to not be the best. I’m not sure why. But it lends something to the song. I wonder what or who he is thinking of at the end of this song. is it the one woman who he seemed to fixate on so strongly that it powered him to write, iirc, a thousand songs, or better? Or is it something else, something more private, maybe less defined. We can guess, but I don’t think we can know.

I hope he has found a better place, and that all of us can make the best of this place.

You’ve Been A Bad Mom

September 16, 2019

So, Felicity Huffman was sentenced today. She apologized, again. She set herself upon the pyre. The prosecuting attorney was a hypocritical twit. The judge seemed to have played the role allotted.

I don’t think Huffman should feel bad at all.

Yeah, it was unfair. Yeah, it sucks. Yeah, it’s wrong. But for everyone to run around and act like the wealthy haven’t done whatever they could to keep and pass down the privileges and status our society affords them is ridiculous. What Huffman and others are being prosecuted for is not being wealthy enough, for not being connected enough.

A bit more money. A bit more status. The rails would have been greased quietly and more efficiently. Their kids would have gotten in to whatever schools their parents plied with their status and money.

Nothing about this case will make it any more fair for the next group of students. Those truly connected and with more money will still get favors done for them. Their kids will still get in regardless of how much they deserve it. It’s just the way it is.

And the way it will continue to be unless something foundational is changed in our society and our education system. It’s broken. She’s just a symptom of the breakage, and putting her in prison or making her do community service or anything else isn’t going to change that. And it’s not going to deter the folks who are better from throwing their influence/money around to get whatever they want because they will almost certainly get away with it and reap the benefits of it.

Maybe this is overly pessimistic of me, but I don’t think she or the other parents really need to apologize for anything other than finding such a lousy middle man to peddle their influence.