Poverty Is Not an Accident

Poverty Is Not an Accident
Nelson Mandela

Monday, December 20, 2004

Winter Solstice

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Her plane should be departing for Oakland, right this minute. It's about a 2 hour flight. Then, she'll board a plane for home.

Two of the boxes of her things she shipped here arrived today. I've already put everything away.

The meatloaf she requested is already baked and cooling in the refrigerator.

My new curtains and quilt arrived today.

So did the flute: over a month late, dirty, damaged, with parts missing, stinking of mildew. Jees. I've wanted a new flute for twenty years, and got this?

I'm still waiting for today's mail. There may be other packages in it, too.

She has an entire new wardrobe, from socks on up. I'm waiting for earrings and some other jewelry, a few items of clothing and odds and ends.

The floors are clean. We're stocked up on everything. I took the trash out this morning. The dishes are washed. The animals are fed and watered.

Her bedroom is wonderful. I painted pink, Mexican-looking flowers on the corners of walls, up by the ceiling. They match the 4 flowers on the 4 panels of her lavendar, folding door, which is hung. 4 Chinese silk, embroidered panels are on the side facing the living room.

I made pink, tissue paper flowers to hide the hardware on the bracket I made to hang the door. The door way is festooned with pink flamingo party lights.

I got her lots of toys and models, too. She has a book, a movie I already sent to her sister's. She has jewelry boxes, new razors, hair gel, a huge lot of lipsticks.

She has pretty camisoles, to wear under the more sheer blouses I bought. She has three new dresses. She has about a dozen blouses and sweaters. She has three new vests and four new pairs of trousers.

She already got her Cashmere scarf, which I hand embroidered with her name in purple silk and real seed pearls.

Her room is cheery and bright, well-organized.

I bought her a radio-controlled, rollerscating doll.

She has a dozen pair of socks, with pretty designs woven into them.

She'll be here in seven hours.

I'm wearing my poodle skirt to the air port. I'll wear my pink sweater with silver sequins. I'll wear my white cotton bloomers and slip, plus my black tulle petticoat. And my pink high heeled sneaker/boots, of course.

I'll be wearing a Santa hat and carrying mistletoe.

The cab will be waiting outside baggage claim.

I'm planning to blind fold her and guide her into her room. I'll close the door, so she'll get the full effect before I remove the blind fold.

The Christmas tree in the front room is gorgeous.

This will be the first time in about ten years when I won't have to spend the Solstice, Christmas and New Year alone.

I have no plans. I'm just grateful to have this wonderful home, and her for my family.

I'm hungry and tired. I got busy, attending to last-minute details (plus the unexpectd and very large boxes to unpack). I forgot to eat breakfast, which I'll do when I finish here.

After the mail comes, I'll shower and attend to my hair (which I trimmed yesterday).

I have plenty of money left in the banks. I'm thinking of stopping for some little token to take to the airport with me.

I'm spending the majority of this day stretched out on the sofa, resting up for her return.

I'm very happy.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Two, more nights...

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I finally stumbled out of bed, for real, at about ten 'til five this morning.

I got up once, around midnight. I was hungry, so I went in the living room to finish the cheese and chicken I'd left in there. Also had a handful of cashews.

I had no problem getting back to sleep. The covers were so warm. And I had 3 cats and Porkchop with me.

I just lay there and meditated awhile and finally drifted back off.

So, I slept about thirteen hours.

This happens; it's nothing unusual.

Periodically, I need to "hibernate."

Usually, it happens after several days of pretty serious, physical activity, such as digging gardens or building things.

And it rarely happens two times in a week.

Since living with you, I've napped for an hour or two on occasion, but haven't had to hibernate for half a day.

I guess I just haven't let myself. I'd have dinner to prepare, etc., and didn't want you coming home to a dark, foodless house with me in bed.

While I have been physically active, I haven't really been pushing myself. So, I guess I just need the extra sleep for healing.

But the house is warm, well-stocked and cheerful.

The kitchen got a good cleaning, two weeks ago, and won't be that difficult to straighten up now, since I haven't been cooking all that much.

There's just not much left to do, before you get back.

I know what movies I want to watch on TV today. Tomorrow, I want to video tape the last time Bill Moyers appeared on "NOW." I slept through it last night.

There will only be 2 more opportunities for packages to arrive before you do.
Several things are still pending, and I'm curious to see what will get here before you return. Something I very much wanted to be here when you came home is waiting for you. I'm pretty excited.

I've sent some presents to Sonia, too.

I got 2 sets of African American dolls for preschoolers, for her daughter. And there's a poet, named Sonia Sanchez. She ran with Malcolm, back in the day. And she's both Black and Latina, like my Sonia. One poetry book is already being shipped to Sonia; I need to bid on the other tomorrow.

I'm going to thaw some turkey for us.

May start thawing some hamburger, too, which would be ready about Tues. or Wed, if I take it out on Mon.

Sure wish hams would go on sale!

There's also vegetable soup with pork in the fridge.

We'll need to get you some more juice soon. And I'll need eggs and butter.
Sounds like we need to go to that discount grocery up on Central.

It's almost 6 now: still too cold and dark for the chickens, but two cats and a dog have already gone out front with me for a cigarette and coffee.

Two, more nights. Two, more nights...

Friday, December 17, 2004

dead of winter

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This is the hardest time of year for me, biologically.

Morning comes so slowly. It's almost 6:30am, and there's only the faintest blush of sunrise in the sky. It'll be more than an hour, before the sun's really up.

And the cold! Even in a heated house, my feet and hands are stiff with cold. It hurts to walk; it hurts to grasp things. I have to wait for warmth, so I can work.

Evening comes too quickly now. I have to plan to come in early enough, so I won't be stuck outside in cold and dark.

And it starts getting too cold by 3pm, which is normally the warmest time of any day.

This house is large enough that I don't, at least, get my normal cabin fever. Most places I've lived are so small, I have every inch memorized and feel so shut in, so trapped, so confined.

I feel myself waiting for Solstice. I feel myself waiting for The Longest Night to pass. I feel myself enduring the dark and the cold, waiting for it to be over, waiting to be on the other side, climbing slowly back to light and warmth.

I stand outside at night, bundled but still shivering. I look at the sharp stars, blink the cold from my eyes. I feel how thin is the membrane between us and Deep Space, eternal night, eternal cold.

It's in the dead of winter that I feel most that we're on a planet, dependent on a mote of cosmic dust.

Winter makes me realize how fragile we all are.

Fragrant soups, creamy mugs of cocoa, fuzzy slippers, thick socks... these all give some comfort, some cheer to the existential nightmare of floating on a ball of dirt in nothingness.

But, just outside the sparkling windows and amber lights, the Universe looms over us. It is Kali: mother destroyer, killer and bringer of life.

I feel like a mouse, burrowed in fur and grass straw, huddled in my tiny hole as wolves howl outside, shivering and silent.

I know it will pass.

Yet, every year, it surprises me: so brutal, yet indifferent, yet beautiful. I admire and fear deep winter.

I'll shuffle out to take little peeks at it, acutely knowing how easily it can kill me. I'll shiver my way back inside, glad for heat and light and very aware how tenuous it all is.

I count off the approxemately ninety days I'll have to wait until it would be safe to live outdoors again.

I throw a blanket over my chilled, aching legs and sigh.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Oatmeal Carrot Cookies

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In my continuing effort to cook without either sugar nor wheat products, I've decided to try the following recipe.

The local grocer is giving me all the culled produce, to feed my chickens. He includes "people food," too. today, I got a pound of broccoli, several pounds each of carrots, zuccini and squash, bell peppers, a bunch of parsley, 2 cucumbers and 2 red cabbages.

I'm making a "lasagna" from the squash and peppers.

I'm making pickled cabbage and cucumber salad.

I'm making cream of broccoli soup.

And I'm making these cookies:

Oatmeal Carrot Cookies

1 c. mixed, bean flour & spelt flour
1 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. margarine or butter, softened
1/2 c. honey
orange, grapefruit, lemon and/or lime juice, to taste
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1/2 c. chopped nuts and/or dried fruit
1/2 c. shredded carrots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease cookie sheets.

Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off.

In a large bowl, combine first 8 ingredients at low speed until well blended.

Stir in nuts and carrots.

Drop by rounded teaspoonsful a couple of inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown.

Immediately remove from cookie sheets.

Makes 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies.�

Saturday, December 04, 2004

warmer, please!

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Oh, I wish it would warm up already!

We've had a week of below-freezing nights and very cold days.

I'm getting cabin fever.

There's a lot I'd like to do outside: paint the door for Ma's room, build a chicken roost from the scrap wood my neighbors gave me, wash laundry, finish putting the also-scrap plywood roof on the coop.

The car's not working. I'm using Ma's cart to push for errands. The other day, I found a neighbor is throwing out 6 huge bags of leaves and pine needles. I've managed to drag home 4 of them. I want to put them in my compost pile. I can only haul home 2 at a time, but I'll get the last two on Monday.

Washer hose and discharge tubes freeze over night, so laundry's fun. I do have a waterbed heater element I submurge in the full tub over night, to prevent freezing. And the chickens roost over it, so that helps keep them a little warmer.

But the chicken shelter isn't warm enough, so I need to nail together that scrap wood and insulate the "box" with old blankets. They need to sleep warmer.

It's sunny out, and not too miserable: hovering around freezing, with sun and no wind. But I can't change freezing, and must wait 'til the hoses thaw to finish laundry.

I've been buying Ma a whole, new wardrobe on EBay. It's really fine stuff. New things are delivered every day.

She bought me prescription glasses before she left, and several nice new pairs of shoes. She needs new clothes, and this is payback. I THINK everything I've gotten so far is stuff she'll really like to wear.

She's been wearing bleached-out, thread-bare, stained old crap. She didn't want to buy clothes 'til she lost weight. Well, she's already lost a ton. And we've committed to eating healthy and exercising. We think it's realistic to plan to drop 20lbs. each by April.

The clothes I got her are loose fitting, anyway. She rides her bike to work; she needs comfortable stuff.

But this stuff is also very pretty, tailored, neat and feminine. And it's all in her favorite colors.

It's nice, being able to afford to do this for her. Oh, I still need a minidisc, a mic stand and a bunch of other stuff, but I have confidence now that I can afford those things. I can now earn some money. And my living expenses have dropped to nearly nothing.

And, if anybody deserves some pampering, spoiling and dressing up, it's Ma.

We email now, just about daily. We talk on the phone almost every day. Doesn't mean I don't miss her, of course. She MAY come back a little early, so we can just hang out together. But she's not sure.

So, I'm working very hard to be a good sport about probably spending yet another Christmas alone.

My neighbors gave me an artificial tree. I put it up immediately. It's decorated in red and gold metalic bead garlands, red velveteen bows, blue glass balls. I also put some small ornaments, shaped like toys and teddy bears.

So, in a quiet way, it's nice and snuggly and christmassy in here.

I have lots of projects to keep me busy.

But I sure wish it'd warm up about ten, twenty degrees, so I can work outside!

The animals are keeping me company. There's no end to the entertainment they provide.

But it's too cold to go out much. And, because it's the holidays, I'm not calling anybody to come visit.

So I'm feeling the aloneness a lot. I got spoiled, living with Ma. We talk about everything together. And we do a lot together, too.

So, I'm rattling around in this house, feeling a little lost.

Yesterday, as I was putting the plywood up on the chicken roof, I had an oops. There was a big chunk of ice on the plastic sheeting up there. I tried to push it up, over the edge, onto the ground. I didn't realize how BIG it was, though! It slipped back down and smacked me, hard, in the nose! My nose bled, inside and out. I couldn't see for a few minutes, 'cause my eyes were watering so bad. So, I couldn't get down off the ladder. Just had to stand there and hurt for a bit.

My nose turned bright red and swelled up. But it went back down in a few hours. It's very tender. I may have disconnected part of the cartiledge, from the way it feels. ANd my upturned nose now has a temporary hump on the bridge.

Won't be able to pick my nose for awhile; hurts too bad.

other than that, I'm doing ok. It was pretty rough for a little while; there's a personal crisis that's just ending, about which I can't write. It was pretty devistating, for awhile. I haven't been that scared and frantic since my baby died.

But it seems to be passing ok. Nobody died; nobody is permanently injured, I hope.

But I got left out of what was happening, and was just FRANTIC for information, which responsible parties not only wouldn't give me, but used to torture and abuse me.

It was a nightmare.

It's all going to be ok, it seems. But my old heart took a bruising in the process and I'm recovering from the shock.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Jees, it's COLD!

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Dear Ma,

It's down in the mid 'teens at night and doesn't get near fifty during the days.

I was just out, feeding the chickens. I'm wearing thermal, long underpants and my heavy, denim skirt, but my legs still got cold!.

Porky and I are going to the Pueblo Center in about an hour for cigarettes. I always swing by the Walgreen's up there, too, to see if anything is marked down.

I think I'll have to wear my new, cotton petticoat, too. Otherwise, I'll freeze out there!

Sun's up now, soon to be over the mountains.

There is jackfrost inside my little green house, even with the lamp on inside and a blanket thrown over it at night.

I'll have to bring in my rose bushes.

There's jack frost all over your car, too, and it looks just beautiful!

Porky still wants to go out front with me when I smoke, but he sure wants to come IN quick!

I cooked the brisket yesterday. I'm making myself some burritos and enchiladas. Aren't you jealous?

I should be back from the Pueblo Center by about ten, my time.

It's too cold to work outside, really, so I'll be working on my Big Project today.

The homeless shelters are over filled and turning people away! It's unseasonably cold, and no sign of relief.

The sun's bright, though, which helps midday. But the cloudless nights expose us to Outer Space, and we lose whatever heat we got during the day.

By about two in the afternoon, if it's not windy, I can walk around outside without a coat, but only for an hour or so.

I'm very grateful to have this snug, cheerful house.

I miss you.



Tuesday, November 30, 2004


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Dear Ma,

In all this panic about what I didn't know, I went too
crazy and called you "selfish," because I didn't get
some information I'd needed.

Well, we dropped the ball. Not just you: both of us
screwed up. Yeah, you knew more about what was going
to happen, but I didn't press the issue and make sure
I was informed.

I'm very sorry I called you selfish.

I was standing in the kitchen just now, blowing
cigarette smoke out the back door. It's seriously too
cold out there to go outside. It's already below
freezing and may get below zero tonight.

Most nights, this house is cozy. This sofa is RIGHT in
front of a heater.

But tonight, it's so cold, I'm shivering. I'm not
cranking up the heat because that just seems wasteful.
Even though I've weatherproofed the windows, doors,
etc., it's just a really cold night and my heavy
sweater vest, sweats and sweater just won't do enough.

The only solution is to get under the covers with a
pile of cats and dog and snuggle myself to sleep --
just as soon as The Simpsons is over.

Well, I was standing in the kitchen and thinking. I
have a big chunk of brisket, thawing on the counter. I
plan to make burritos with it. Today, I ate cooked
chicken I'd thawed.

It's nearly the end of the month. My food stamps don't
come for ten, more days. Usually, by now, I'm down to:
potatoes, pasta, bread and cereal. That's all.

The freezer's still full of food, honey. I was
thinking yesterday that, even when the food stamps
come, there's nothing I really need, except some fresh

All I've bought since you've been gone is 2 bottles of
soda pop. I have everything I need here.

The reason I could embroider that scarf for you is
because I have glasses now. I haven't been able to
embroider for nearly fifteen years. Now, I can see.

The pets have food.

I have what I need to start independent radio

I'm not going without anything.

In fact, I bought myself a treat this month. You know
I'd been looking at pad and cork "tune up" kits for my
flute. Well, they cost about seventy dollars. Hiring
someone to actually tune it for me would cost about
two hundred dollars.

I found a real, concert flute on EBay. It's a
Gemeinhart: a concert, rather than a band, flute. I
bid on it, last minute. I got it for eighty two
dollars, including shipping. It's on its way from

I will be able to play along with the holiday music
specials on public tv. I'll be able to play to my
records and tapes.

So, here's the thing.

You've been very good to me. And I do understand and
appreciate that.

Now that I'm not panicing anymore, I can see beyond my
terror and see how much you've changed my life for the

I mentioned the tangible things. But there are dozens
of intangibles, too. Just the warmth of your presence,
the silly jokes, your nerdy fussing, your glee at the
simplest things.

I felt so seperated from you during this present
crisis. I was in deep grief.

But, now that the ickiest part is past, and you're
coming through ok, I can feel you again.

The cold binding I felt in my chest is loosening. I
feel warmth around my heart again. You put that there,

I was literally disabled by my fear this past week. I
went back to a survival mode of bleak isolation. I
became bitter and vicious.

Like I was before you ever met me.

It was familiar, true. But it was miserable and small
and hard.

Now that I can feel you again, I'm relaxed and calm
and hopeful and happy again.

I may not be lost without you, but I sure got confused
there, for awhile.

Ma, you're the best thing to come along in my life in
a very long time. And I love you beyond reason.

Now, take very good care of yourself for me. I need
you back here healthy and ready to resume this
ridiculous dance I got you mixed up in with me.

Please: be well.

All my best,


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

hunkered down

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Well, Ma's been gone for a week now. She'll be back at the end of December.

I made us a whole Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner before she left, all from scratch. I baked a turkey. I made wheatless stuffing. I made fresh cranberry relish. I made cheesy mashed potatoes. I made flourless gravy. I made sweet potato/orange casserole. I even made pearl onions in cream and butter.

It was great! I froze some. But we ended up eating most of it before she left.

Since then, I've bought two, more turkeys on sale. One's frozen. The other, I baked with pineapple, apples and oranges for a friend of mine who came to lunch. I fed him all the side dishes, too.

Turkeys were only thirty-nine cents a pound, so why not? Cats and dogs are eating, too.

I'm building my radio recording studio while Ma's gone. It's really looking good, too.

I hope to sell a story or two by the new year.

I got myself all psyched out, thinking I couldn't do it.

But Ma bought a software program for her computer. It records phone calls in .wav format, so I can transfer them to the digital audio program to edit. Easy as pie.

I still have a "loaner" minidisc recorder and two microphones. I can do field work and live interviews with them.

I'm looking at microphone stands, minidisc recorders, etc. over at EBay. By the first of the year, I should have some nice stuff.

I've been secretly saving up money to buy Ma some new clothes, accessories, etc. I've managed to save about three hundred dollars in three months! Living here is saving me a fortune.

So, clothes from Pakistan, India, China, Ireland, England.... are arriving almost daily. I'm washing stuff up. Then, I'll wrap each item in pink paper and lavender ribbon roses, hide them around her room in the places they belong, and let her discover them all when she comes back.

So, I'm alone again over the holidays. But I'm very busy.

I talk to her every day by cell phone and, soon, she'll be able to email.

I do miss her, though.

I don't need a dang thing. I'm cozy and warm with a ton of food and supplies.

Tomorrow, a guy from the radio station is picking me up to go to their house for Thanksgiving. And I've got a return invitation to Christmas dinner at another friend's place.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

how to save apx. 6,000 gallons of water per year

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Dear Ma, I THINK I've had a brilliant idea.

We're saving about 15 gallons of water when we each shower; that's about how much the tub holds that we stand in to shower. Each of us only bathes every other day, which saves, too.

And we've been saving our dish rinse water, also. That's about another gallon or so.

All that gets used to flush the toilet.

So, we're saving about 120 gallons per week, doing this.

BUT: I've been using fresh tap water, through the garden hose, to run the washing machine. And, even though that water gets discharged into the garden, it's a lot of water. Each washer load is about thirty gallons: wash and rinse.

Well, we usually have leftover water from our showers. We often have a LOT of it: about ten gallons. We just don't need to flush the toilet that often.

So, this morning, I added a few drops of bleach to the last tub of shower water. I filled three of those --what? maybe three gallon? -- buckets we use to flush the toilet.

I put them in the WASH cycle of the washing machine!

Why not?!

So, I can take a shower later today, and the tub won't be half full of cold water from your shower!

I've still got enough left to suppliment another load of laundry.

And here's the beauty part!

We can keep water in the washer tub and emmerse that water bed heater overnight, so the pump and hoses don't freeze and break! It'll keep the whole thing above freezing! And the machine will already be partly full of warmish water, next load of laundry!

I'll only use the waterbed heater when temps. fall below freezing, though.

It'll also conduct heat down the garden hose I use to fill the washer, to keep that from freezing.

So, we CAN keep the washing machine on the back porch, recycle the water into the garden, keep the clothes clean, recycle water and live happily ever after!

Not bad, huh?


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Faith in [U.S.] America

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If you don't vote today, I have nothing for you.

Paul Krugman: 'Faith in America'
Date: Tuesday, November 02 @ 10:04:42 EST
Topic: Election 2004
By Paul Krugman, New York Times

Florida's early polling was designed to make voting easier, but enormous voter turnout swamped the limited number of early polling sites. Over the weekend, people in some polling places had to stand in line for four, five, even six hours, often in the hot sun. Some of them - African-Americans in particular - surely suspected that those lines were so long because officials wanted to make it hard for them to vote. Yet they refused to be discouraged or intimidated.

Here's what a correspondent from Florida wrote to Joshua Marshall, of talkingpointsmemo.com: "To see people coming out - elderly, disabled, blind, poor; people who have to hitch rides, take buses, etc. - and then staying in line for hours and hours and hours ... Well, it's humbling. And it's awesome. And it's kind of beautiful."

Yes, it is. I always get a little choked up when I go to the local school to cast my vote. The humbleness of the surroundings only emphasizes the majesty of the process: this is democracy, America's great gift to the world, in action.

But over the last few days I've been seeing pictures from Florida that are even more majestic. They show long lines of voters, snaking through buildings and on down the sidewalk: citizens patiently waiting to do their civic duty. Those people still believe in American democracy; and because they do, so do I.

In truth, I wasn't sure what would happen in Florida this year. After all that has gone wrong with voting in that state, it seemed all too possible that many people would simply give up and stay home.

But it's already clear that the people of Florida - and, I believe, America as a whole - have refused to give in to cynicism and spin.

Far from being discouraged by what happened in 2000, they seem to realize more than ever - and better than those of us in the chattering classes - what a precious thing the right to vote really is. And they are determined to exercise that right.

And it's not just in Florida. Similar stories are coming in from across the country, wherever early voting is allowed: everywhere, huge numbers of voters are coming to the polls, determined to exercise their democratic rights.

Of course, most Americans won't get their chance to vote until today, but I have no doubt that they will turn out in record numbers. I don't think the rain that will blanket some parts of the country will deter them. Regardless of their politics, most Americans understand that this is a crucial election, and that never before has their vote mattered so much for the nation's destiny.

The talking heads on TV will no doubt frame all of this in partisan terms: light turnout favors one party, heavy turnout favors the other. True enough.

But this isn't a zero-sum game: the more people vote, the more vital is our democracy.

By coming to the polls, citizens are literally giving a vote of confidence in American democracy. And in so doing, they are proving themselves wiser than some of those they elected.

Those who govern us seem to have learned little from the 2000 electoral debacle: voting machines are still unreliable, voting officials are still unforgivably partisan.

But the public seems to have learned a lesson. Instead of becoming cynical, people seem to have become motivated.

After an election in which a few hundred votes determined the fate of the nation, after four years of an administration that has demonstrated, for good or ill, that it matters a lot who becomes president, citizens know that their votes matter. And they are determined to cast those votes.
What will happen when they do cast those votes? I don't know; neither does anyone else. That's how democracy works.

Regular readers won't be in any doubt about who I want to win, though New York Times rules prevent me from giving any explicit endorsement. (Hint: it's the side that benefits from large turnout.) Above all, though, I want to see democracy vindicated, and the stain of 2000 eradicated, by a clean election in which as many people as possible get to cast their votes, and have those votes counted.

And all the evidence says that's what the American people want, too. May all of us get our wish.

E-mail: krugman@nytimes.com
Copyright 2004�The New York Times Company
Reprinted from The New York Times:

This article comes from The Smirking Chimp
The URL for this story is:

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Disenfranchising Black voters...again

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New Florida vote scandal feared
By Greg Palast
Reporting for BBC's Newsnight

A secret document obtained from inside Bush campaign headquarters in Florida suggests a plan - possibly in violation of US law - to disrupt voting in the state's African-American voting districts, a BBC Newsnight investigation reveals.

Two e-mails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign's national research director in Washington DC, contain a 15-page so-called "caging list".

It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida.
An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told Newsnight: "The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day."

Ion Sancho, a Democrat, noted that Florida law allows political party operatives inside polling stations to stop voters from obtaining a ballot.

Mass challenges

They may then only vote "provisionally" after signing an affidavit attesting to their legal voting status.

Mass challenges have never occurred in Florida. Indeed, says Mr Sancho, not one challenge has been made to a voter "in the 16 years I've been supervisor of elections."

"Quite frankly, this process can be used to slow down the voting process and cause chaos on election day; and discourage voters from voting."

Sancho calls it "intimidation." And it may be illegal.

In Washington, well-known civil rights attorney, Ralph Neas, noted that US federal law prohibits targeting challenges to voters, even if there is a basis for the challenge, if race is a factor in targeting the voters.

The list of Jacksonville voters covers an area with a majority of black residents.

When asked by Newsnight for an explanation of the list, Republican spokespersons claim the list merely records returned mail from either fundraising solicitations or returned letters sent to newly registered voters to verify their addresses for purposes of mailing campaign literature.

Republican state campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker Fletcher stated the list was not put together "in order to create" a challenge list, but refused to say it would not be used in that manner.

Rather, she did acknowledge that the party's poll workers will be instructed to challenge voters, "Where it's stated in the law."

There was no explanation as to why such clerical matters would be sent to top officials of the Bush campaign in Florida and Washington.

Private detective

In Jacksonville, to determine if Republicans were using the lists or other means of intimidating voters, we filmed a private detective filming every "early voter" - the majority of whom are black - from behind a vehicle with blacked-out windows.

The private detective claimed not to know who was paying for his all-day services.

On the scene, Democratic Congresswoman Corinne Brown said the surveillance operation was part of a campaign of intimidation tactics used by the Republican Party to intimate and scare off African American voters, almost all of whom are registered Democrats.

Greg Palast's film will be broadcast by Newsnight on Tuesday, 26 October, 2004.
Newsnight is broadcast on BBC Two at 2230 BST every weeknight in the UK.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/10/26 17:06:30 GMT

Saturday, October 23, 2004

And they call this compassion?

You are reading http://livinginthehood.blogspot.com

Christopher Brauchli: 'And they call this compassion?'
Date: Saturday, October 23 @ 09:59:25 EDT
Topic: Economic Policy
By Christopher Brauchli, Boulder Daily Camera

Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.
� Hubert Humphrey

...During each of the last three years Mr. Bush has said he wants to end certain programs that provide money to states to help provide money for those without health insurance. In an apparent flip-flop, in 2004 Tommy Thompson, secretary of health and human services, announced that the department was awarding $11.7 million in grants to help 30 states set up programs to provide coverage to those people. If Mr. Bush is elected, he'll have a chance to flip-flop and eliminate the program in future years.

According to a recent report in The New York Times, Mr. Bush wants to reduce the value of subsidized-housing vouchers received by participants in the Section 8 housing program for the poor. Michael Liu, assistant secretary for public and Indian affairs, and Cathy M. MacFarlane, assistant secretary for public affairs, explain that the drop is occasioned by data from the 2000 census and a new way of determining the rents.

Housing secretary Alphonso Jackson has a simpler explanation. He says the Section 8 program was growing too fast and taking money away from other programs. He also thinks that it disadvantages the working poor. In a piece written for The New York Times he explained that most of the vouchers "go to families making less than 30 percent of a given area's median income. This has had the unintended consequence of shutting the door on men and women who are working hard and raise their income above a quota level, but remain too poor to afford a home."

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out that a full-time minimum wage worker earns $10,700 a year, whereas 30 percent of the median income for a family of four nationally is $17,250. Someone who works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, for the minimum wage will not reach the poverty line and those are the people for whom the compassionate conservatives want to raise the rent.

Mr. Jackson does not think the lack of affordable housing is a big problem. In a speech at the National Press Club lunch on June 17, he said, "Rental housing is affordable and plentiful."

He'd apparently not read the "State of the Nation's Housing" report issued a week earlier by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, which found, among other things, that almost 2 million households live in units described as severely inadequate.
HUD's own "Worst Case Housing Needs" says 5.07 million families have worst case housing needs, meaning they are very low income, face severe cost or quality problems in their homes and don't receive housing assistance. Had those statistics been seen by Mr. Jackson, they'd not have troubled him.

In his first appearance before the House Financial Services Committee as Secretary he said: "being poor is a state of mind." Realizing that poverty is a state of mind makes it hard to get upset about the fact that those with a bad state of mind don't have nice places to live. They don't need housing � they need attitude adjustments.

Thanks to compassionate conservatism, if Mr. Bush is elected that's what they'll get.

Copyright 2004, The Daily Camera and the E.W. Scripps Company.

Reprinted from The Boulder Daily Camera:

This article comes from The Smirking Chimp

The URL for this story is:

Friday, October 22, 2004

the hood, Halloween and humiliation

You are reading http://livinginthehood.blogspot.com

I decorated the house for Halloween yesterday. It's really nice. But I noticed two people who passed, scowling. One lady passed 3 times, slowly, blatantly staring at me. The man looked angry.

I told Ma I didn't know whether they were just confused by the goblins hanging in our tree, whether they thought I was having a yard sale, or whether they disapproved.

"Why would they disapprove?" Ma asked.

Well, I explained, in the 'hood, the fundamentalist preachers tell the flock Halloween is Satanic.

In fact, I told her two stories of preachers who tormented and hounded me, calling me Satanic. One followed me down the street with a bull horn, shouting I was demon possessed and queer. The other preached against me from his pulpit, because I was taking in the kids from the hood.

Either could have gotten me killed by the ignorant, angry neighbors.

I told Ma stories about the second to last apartment building in which I lived there. Just remembering the constant horror, filth, danger and ugliness made me cry.

I sobbed inconsolably.

I went to that radio station as a volunteer. I walked, many days, the three miles, round trip. I went malnourished, under fed, in pain. I worked hard and tried to be useful.

When I offered my services for grass roots fundraising, not only was I ignored, but the person went to the Volunteer Coordinator AND the Station Manager, to complain about me! I only wanted to help. I had no idea this person would see my offer as a THREAT to the person's position! To this DAY, that person refuses to acknowledge my existance, yet persists on complaining about any possible thing to my 'superiors.'

When I worked as a reporter--without pay, I may add--I was constantly harrassed about my: food, dress, mode of transportation, work style, voice, private conversations... ANYthing, to make an example of me in front of others. I was constantly baited and humiliated.

When someone does something odd or against the regulations, such as bringing a dog to the station, it is I who am questioned, as though it's my doing.

I volunteered in the phone room during this pledge drive. I filled in the gaps for many more shifts than anyone else volunteered to cover. I was never thanked for helping in a crunch. I was barely acknowledged. People gossiped about me and told phone captains to shut me up.

This is a "community" radio station. I am the community. I am being told to SHUT UP at a free speech, public venue.

I thought about what my being banned from the newsroom really means. I no longer have access to equipment I need to be an independent producer.

I was earning a bit to compensate for my meager social security insurance --not WELFARE: INSURANCE!-- by selling my little stories elsewhere.

I've struggled, for months, to set up an independent recording studio in my new home. I've lost a minimum of a thousand dollars' income as a result of this "ban" from the newsroom.

The "ban" could have condemned me to return to the hell of the War Zone. They don't understand how hideous things are there. But the scariest part, for me, is that the people responsible for this decision don't CARE what could have happened to me as a result. Hell, the person who wanted me banned didn't even have the fortitude to do the dirty work; it was pawned off onto the Volunteer Coordinator to give me the bad news!

The next day, I was suicidal. Truly.

All my life, I've struggled to write, to publish, to broadcast, to perform. I've struggled to speak my truth as best I could.

And here it was: one more time, I was being told to shut up and go away.

Not because I'd done anything harmful, dangerous, unethical, unprincipled, irresponsible, etc.: I was being banned for speaking my truth as best I could.

Free speech isn't free.

Now, this "ban" happened, what? Three, four months ago?

I asked Ma, "have you ever seen me cry about it before?"


"Have you ever heard me express my humiliation about this before?"


No, I was a good soldier; I sucked it up. I went through the motions and pulled myself out of my suicidal ideations and walked BACK into that station that never misses an opportunity to let me know how inappropriate my white trash butt is and I CONTINUED to volunteer! I held my head up, put a smile on my face, and acted like their contempt, their abuse, their suspicion, their arrogance didn't phase me--like I didn't even notice it.

I did not renew my pledge to the station this year. As they waxed poetic about how this is YOUR station, broadcasting YOUR neighbors (none of MY neighbors attend poetry readings in Santa Fe, buddy), free speech, community oriented programming--I cleaned my chicken coop, hung my Halloween decorations, washed my dishes and began work on my recording studio.

I contacted a radio news director from a network I've worked for in the past. She assigned me three stories, immediately.

I'm editing a Radio Theater piece nobody else wants to work on.

I sat in that phone room nearly twenty hours of the fund drive. I take it back: the Volunteer Coordinator thanked me.

But the people most obsessed with acquiring money in that station continued to refuse to acknowledge my existence, and one continued to complain about me!

I'm not going away. You might as well get used to it. It's not YOUR station; it's OURS!

Middle class people pretend anger is a "negative" emotion. Bull crap! Anger can save my life! Oh, they're angry, alright. But they don't yell. They stab in the back, manipulate. They're quiet and lethal and sick as hell.

And they call ME crazy, because I won't stoop to their level and employ their tactics!

uh, huh.

I'm never going to let that insanity make me cry again!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


You are reading http://livinginthehood.blogspot.com

Well, the chicken coop needs modification. Plastic sheeting, sandwiched between plastic fencing and chicken wire, is just not a sturdy enough roof, as evidenced by the effects of a freak hail storm the other day. Chicken wire is flexible; it "gives" under the weight of several dozen pounds of hail. Could have been several HUNDRED pounds, as my girl and I could NOT lift it up and off.

So, we've decided to invest in some corrugated roofing: either tin, or translucent plastic. We'll start with the portion which serves as our new back porch, and do other sections over the next, few months. It should cost about thirty dollars/mo. that way.

Besides, I worry, having too many building materials, lying around the yard. Don't want the city after us.

I built a storage unit from old pallets, covered in plastic sheeting and chicken wire. The roof peaks at about seven feet tall. It's about 5x5. Holds LOTS of stuff, and the cats and dog love lying on the little "porch" I made on the front for foot wiping.

The back yard's shaping up.

I'm almost done unpacking the things stored on the side of the house now.

Most rooms are about fully furnished and decorated.

But, if I don't clean these floors soon, I'll lose my mind. They've got over a month's worth of leaves, animal hair, dirt, goat heads and assorted feathers on them. It's rather like camping: never walk through the house without some sort of foot gear; you could get hurt.

I'm waiting for yesterday's rain to soak into the ground. The back yard has been flooded twice now and needs time to dry before I clean the floors.

I have two chicks left; they're damn near chickens now and ready to live in the coop, once I roof and door the remaining section.

I have enough chicken wire and pallets left to cover our clothesline and one side of the house for them, too. Since cats, dog and chickens will share the same space, the more space, the better.

I can finish it after she leaves in November.

Right now, I'm concentrating on finishing the inside.

We bought a small freezer, so I'm planning sugarless/ wheatless foods to freeze. I've researched how to make: yogurt, cheese and tofu.

She's severely allergic to gluten; it makes her VERY sick. So, I'm learning to cook everything with nonwheat flours. Some work; some don't. I'm just experimenting right now. I made a decent pineapple upside down cake the other day, though. And I can make wheatless/sugarless pancakes that taste like the real deal.

When I can make a "passable" loaf of wheatless bread, I'll know I'm comfortable with wheatless cooking.

She loves my cooking. And she's eating much healthier with me than she was alone. Cheaper, too.

Which brings me to finances. She earns apx. 3xs what I do. We've broken the expenses down to: my entire income is spent on food, household needs, auto, discretionary and misc. Her income is split into: savings, loan payments, rent and utilities.

This gives me a very generous budget for household expenses. I'm working to save at least a hundred dollars/month toward dentist copays, etc.

This month is harder, because I'm paying for deposits and setup fees for phone, etc. And I've only borrowed a hundred on that predatory loan this month. So, our expenses budget is less than three hundred, out of which I've paid 2 months telephone and phone deposit.

We have plenty of food and supplies. The car's ok.

We enjoy puttering around here so much, we rarely spend any money out, anyway. We occasionally go to dollar movies and a snack, the total for wich is less than ten dollars for the two of us.

We've hit garage sales and flea markets pretty hard, furnishing this place. But that's done now.

So, I'm anticipating saving a great deal of money while she's gone in Nov. and Dec.

By the time she returns in Jan, I should be able to go to the dentist & doctors and get eye glasses, too.

We did indulge in one thing, though: I'm getting an MSNTV2, the newest Little Black BOx...which isn't little, and is white.

It has problems: no cut & paste; no alt.discuss usenet groups...and something else I use regularly.

But it's broadband capable, has ethernet, sees Java, Flash, MediaPlayer and....RADIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The service is ten bucks a month, just like mine is now, with NetZero and Cirt as our ISPs.

When I got the email from MicroSoft, I literally cried. We've waited for a fast and capable WebTV for SO LONG!

Now, they're done beta testing, and are offering it to current customers first.

They SAY I should receive it by the end of October, but I ain't holdin' my breath; it's MicroSoft, y'know?

That way, my girl can take the old box on her adventures, as it'll plug into any tv she's at. She already has her little account set up.

The new box costs less than two hundred dollars, and comes with two month's free service, plus a twenty five dollar rebate. So, we splurged and put it on her already-groaning credit card.

So, I'm paying my webtv bill and phone bill, to compensate, even though those are supposed to come from her budget.

We eat well. We have everything we need here, mostly. We're comfortable and safe.

I have more to say about the interpersonal aspects of living with her, but those will go in Viri Diana. But not today.

Right now, I need to shower. She'll be home for lunch and a nap soon. Then, I'll go to her workplace with her to help with some projects for the evening.

Besides, it's cool and damp, and I'm achy and sore from working so hard all weekend. So, I'm taking it easy and being a potato today.

Speaking of potatoes, I'd better start some lunch, too!

Monday, October 11, 2004

Soylent Green

You are reading http://livinginthehood.blogspot.com

I've been thinking like this for quite some time:

Color my future Soylent Green
by Kurt Nimmo, Another Day in the Empire
Oct. 11, 2004

Here's the real deal for the American worker: No pension, no Social Security, jobs exported to India and China, welfare long gone (thank Clinton), a future of endless war and an old age of dumpster diving.

If we are to believe the folks who rail against the NWO crowd, our rulers want to get rid of us, or a whole lot of us through forever war, bioengineered disease, and orchestrated starvation.

Hell, the way things are going, Soylent Green looks like a distinct possibility. In Harry Harrison's novel (and the lame Hollywood movie), people started eating each around the year 2022. Mmmmm. Baby Boomer Fricassee with (GE modified) mushrooms. I'll take seconds.

But seriously. If you read the news you will discover all manner of depressing facts and figures. For instance, US Airways told their employees they will not pay their pensions. But that's not the startling thing. Now it surely is a bummer for US Airways employees, but there was something even more disturbing in the article -- the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a government agency that supposedly guarantees traditional defined-benefit pension plans, is severely in the red -- to the tune of around 11 billion dollars.

In other words, if Joe Free Trade -- the guy who wants to send your job to a Chinese labor gulag -- defaults on your pension there's no money to make sure you don't starve to death when you retire, or are "let go" because you're too old and sick to flip burgers or stock shelves at Wal-Mart.

Most of us should realize by now there will be no retirement. Or Social Security. It will be work until you drop. Just like those sweatshop workers in Indonesia or Vietnam. Just like it was in the good old days of the Industrial Revolution in merry old England and right here in the US of A. Look on the bright side: At least your kids don't have to work 12 hour a day, 6 days a week in a garment factory. Not yet, anyway.

Remember, John Kerry voted for NAFTA, and Bill Clinton said it would be a great deal for the American worker. Never mind that all those factory jobs that went from Indiana and Pennsylvania to the Mexican maquiladoras are now going to China. Maybe you'll want to think about that in couple weeks when you go to cast your vote at the local school the Ministry of Homeland Security tells us al-Qaeda wants to attack with dirty bombs.

Best hope you have family to take care of you in your dotage -- that is if they can afford to take care of you -- otherwise it will be homelessness. I don't know about where you live, but around here the police don't take kindly to homeless people, even grizzled homeless people with Alzheimer's. Looks bad to the real estate investors. Besides, it scares the crap out of the middle class folks driving around in their SUVs because it reminds them what could happen if they lose their jobs (sent to Shanghai) and bank accounts and homes. Nobody wants to be reminded they are a paycheck or two away from homelessness, especially when they are supposed to be casting a fly rod on Golden Pond.

Consider what William Poole, president
of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, suggested the other day. He wants to edge up the eligible retirement age for Social Security. Of course, as the president of the Federal Reserve Bank, Poole doesn't have to worry about dumpster diving in his old age as he waits to hit 100 or whatever the eligible retirement age will be by the time this Baby Boomer is too old and enfeebled to work.

Of course, it doesn't matter. Because there will be no Social Security by the time I hit 70, let alone 100 or whatever the rich people who rule us decide it will be. According to the so-called experts, around 2018 or so existing payroll taxes just won't cover all the benefits going out. Note: 2018 is precariously close to 2022, when Harry Harrison has us dining on each other.

Good old Alan Greenspan, that former Ayn Rand Libertarian who sold his soul to become a central banker. Greenspan provided us with a glimmer of our collective future (or those of us not members of the Fortune 500 millionaire and billionaire club) when he said a few weeks ago: "If we have promised more than our economy has the ability to deliver to retirees without unduly diminishing real income gains of workers, as I fear we may have, we must recalibrate our public programs so that pending retirees have time to adjust through other channels. If we delay, the adjustments could be abrupt and painful."

Translation: Bush and the neolibs have decided the rich do not have to pay taxes and have no obligation to be socially responsible in any way or form to those they have worked to the bone all these years.

In the meantime, we (the non-rich) will have to pay even more to foot the bill for those now lucky enough to retire.

And when our time arrives the "adjustment" could be "painful" -- in other words, if we are lucky, we'll be allowed to queue up in a faith-based soup line. If we're not lucky -- and luck is rarely on the side of the working class -- our rulers will simply let us starve or bioengineer another "La Grippe" influenza pandemic like the one that killed between 20 and 40 million people in 1918-1919. Or maybe our rulers will start handing out Jack Kevorkian pills by the truckload.

Remember, it was the Nazis, who loved their kids and who were civilized and sensitive enough to listen to Richard Wagner and Johann Sebastian Bach, who condemned millions of "useless eaters" to starvation, and not just Jews.

Dubya's grandfather helped them do it.

Please excuse my cynicism. But we have to be realists here. Bush wants to "privatize" Social Security -- that is to say turn it into a sort of casino where we all take our chances on the stock market. How many people lost their pants a few years ago when the stock market "bubble" burst? I don't mean the Big Boys on Wall Street -- those guys rarely lose anything -- but average and gullible people who foolishly believed all the bull[language] pedaled about fortunes to be made.

Remember what our fearless and Supreme Court appointed leader said: "There's an old sayin' in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee, that says, 'Fool me once, shame on, shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again.'"

Unfortunately, due to incessant brainwashing -- instilled by families, schools, and television -- far too many Americans are fooled over and over again. Is it possible they will be fooled into surrendering their Social Security check to some sleazeball investment banker? Count on it.

If you think otherwise, consider the government bailed out looted Savings and Loan banks in the '80s. That scam will ultimately cost us around $1.4 trillion dollars. With the money lost from the S&L scandals, the government could have provided prenatal care for every American child for the next 2,300 years. Dubya's brother, Neil, ran one of those S&L banks into the ground.

Guess what? He never severed a minute of jail time. Do you think anybody will serve time after these same criminals squander your Social Security money? Or is it more likely the brother of one of those criminals will be appointed CEO of America, Inc., by a senile Supreme Court?

Enough questions. I have to stop now. I have to get back on Monster and CareerBuilder, to look for a job that is not there. Earlier today I went to a web development corporation's web site. I was searching for the "Human Resources" contact number. Guess where that was? India! Maybe in my next life I will come back as an Indian -- or Chinese or Indonesian.

It may be better to come back as a cockroach because, as the scientists who understand these sorts of things tell us, the cockroach is tough and resilient and will outlast us all.



Wednesday, October 06, 2004

failure notice

You are reading http://livinginthehood.blogspot.com

From: MAILER-DAEMON@maillist.michaelmoore.com Date: Wed, Oct 6, 2004, 6:59pm (MDT+6) To: rriverstone
Subject: failure notice

Mail Delivery Notification

A message you sent earlier with the subject "Declining Michael Moore's Invitation" has been returned to you because it could not be delivered to all of the intended recipients. Here is what the remote mail system said the problem was:
User's Disk Quota Exceeded.

Sorry, your intendend recipient has too much mail stored in their mailbox.

Declining Michael Moore's Invitation

You are reading http://livinginthehood.blogspot.com

Dear Mr. Moore,

I am writing on behalf of Maria C, who is unaware of -- and will not be attending -- your "Slackers Uprising Tour," when it comes to the UNM Pit this Sunday. Ms. C is also unaware that I'm even writing to you, as we've lost touch, since her eldest daughter, Sonia, became pregnant at the age of 16 and left home for parts unknown.

Although Ms. C has the right to vote, she has never exercised her franchise. She is, by your definition, a "slacker."

Ms. C snuck into this country with her five-year-old and infant daughters nearly twenty years ago from Juarez, Mexico. Her family couldn't afford to send her to school beyond the third grade and, although Ms. C appears to possess above-average intelligence, she has been stuck in menial labor ever since.

Her eldest daughter, Sonia, has told me childhood memories of stealing shoes, living in cardboard packing containers and fleeing armed attackers in the streets of El Paso.

Ms. C comes from a long and honorable, family tradition of professional thievery. She has: shoplifted, prostituted herself, sold stolen merchandise and drugs to support her family. Her girls are always well-fed and -dressed. Ms. C married Sonia's father in order to attain citizenship and, therefore, subsidized housing, food stamps, Aid to Families With Dependent Children, Medicaid and other benefits for her girls. Voting was the fartherst thing from her mind.

When I last saw Ms. C, aproximately ten years ago, she was working as a housekeeper to military officers on Kirtland Air Force Base. She worked forty hours per week at minimum wage.

She brought home discarded: chicken wings, beanie weenies, mini tacos and other, catered fare from officers' parties and social functions. This was necessary to suppliment the thirty-seven dollars' Food Stamps she received to feed her girls. I've seen her, on several occasions, feed these leftovers to her daughters, without eating anything for herself.

Instead of eating supper, Ms. C frequently consumed four "tall boy" cans of "Red Dog" beer. She was attempting to self-medicate from the physical and psychological pain of her stressful job, and her long walk there and home.

At the suggestion of her supervisor and coworkers, she had begun a pretty serious crack cocaine habit, in order to work fast enough to fulfill the demands of her job, without getting fired.

Ms. C will not be attending your event because of the costs. True, a five dollar charge at the door seems reasonable. But there are extenuating circumstances which neither you, your event's organizers, nor the Democratic National Committee have taken into consideration.

The event will be held at the Pit, several miles from Ms. C's last known address on North East Tennessee, in the heart of Albuquerque's so-called, "War Zone." The last SunTran bus on Central Avenue suspends Sunday operations at approximately the same time (6:00 pm) as your event begins. Ms. C would have to pay a family member five dollars per trip, in order to attend. Otherwise, she'd have to arrive early and pay for a taxicab ride home.

In addition, based on her circumstances of ten years ago, Ms. C would have had to pay at least five dollars per hour for child care for her girls. Otherwise, she'd have to bring them, which would still cost an additional ten dollars in tickets.

If this Sunday was Ms. C's day to take care of Abuelita, the grandmother, she would have to arrange to pay someone for elder care, as well.

All factors considered, Ms. C's potential, financial outlay for your event could well top fifty dollars for approxemately three to four hours.

Ms. C speaks broken English. I doubt she'd understand most of what occurred, and would have little interest, therefore, in attending, anyway. She can neither read nor write English. Her eldest daughter, Sonia, served as translator for all social services', medical, employment, legal and other, official appointments -- even though most of these services boasted signs in their waiting rooms that translators would be provided. They seemed never to be available for any appointments to which Ms. C was required to attend.

Hence, Sonia missed much of her substandard schooling. And Sonia, and her sister, Michelle, quickly learned that school was not a high priority to survival. Sonia has, therefore, dropped out of high school, out of sheer boredom, frustration, and need to be self employed. Of course, when she became pregnant, she stopped working, moved back in with her mother, and is now subsisting on "welfare" to support herself and her child. Sonia, who is now old enough to vote, will not be attending your event, either.

Ms. C was severely battered by both her husbands (one of whom, ironically, is stationed as an Army sergeant in Germany, with a commonlaw German wife and two kids) and a boyfriend. The boyfriend broke Ms. C's jaw with a cordless telephone receiver, in front of Michelle, who was six at the time.

Ms. C has endured decades of verbal and physical abuse, trying to keep a roof over her daughters' heads. She doesn't need you to call her a "slacker."

I know of no other person for whom this election is critical than Ms. C and her daughters. Ms. C has: a husband, a brother, three cousins and four nieces and nephews in the Army, some of whom are now stationed in Iraq. She works for the military. She relies on social "services" for her children. She knows families in Juarez whose daughters have died in the mass murders there. Current political issues affect Ms. Carter more directly than any of the middle class voters to whom Mr. John Kerry is pandering.

I see no provisions, at your website, for: transportation, child- or elder-care, "scholorships" or "sliding scales," etc.

Therefore, Mr. Moore, I respectfully have to decline your invitation on Ms. C's behalf, and on behalf of the thousands of single moms in New Mexico and this nation. They will neither be attending your event, nor voting in this election, or any other election. They have been more effectively disinfranchised by the neglect of both the two "major" political parties, and most of the "minor" ones, than fire hoses, dogs and jails could ever have accomplished.

Thank you for your time.


Rogi A. Riverstone
(who won't be attending, either, out of protest and solidarity with my sisters)

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Fortunate Son

You are reading http://livinginthehood.blogspot.com

Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
Ooh, they're red, white and blue.
And when the band plays hail to the chief,
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, lord,
It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son, son.
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no,

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand,
Lord, don't they help themselves, oh.
But when the taxman comes to the door,
Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yes,
It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no millionaire's son, no.
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no.

Some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
Ooh, they send you down to war, lord,
And when you ask them, how much should we give?
Ooh, they only answer more! more! more! yoh,
It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no military son, son.
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, one.
It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate one, no no no,
It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate son, no no no,
� Creedence Clearwater Revival Lyrics

Thursday, September 30, 2004

I'm becoming a wife

You are reading http://livinginthehood.blogspot.com

I don't want to; please, understand. It's her job: she's on call, 24/7. We'll be eating a pleasant, Thai supper when the pager goes off. We'll be napping or working or even driving TO her job.

Things there are chaos right now, due to a big remodelling job. Nobody can find anything. Lots of equipment doesn't work properly. People can't get where they're trying to go, or do what they're trying to do.

So they page her.

When she's at work, other departments haven't finished their tasks, so the unfinished stuff falls on her to handle. Department heads come to her at the last, possible minute to ask her to fill in or take over stuff others should have been assigned.

Last night, she came home exhausted, after only four hours of work there. She was angry, frustrated, burned out and bitter.

I had tested our broken washing machine. It hadn't been spinning. So, in order to do laundry, I've been agitating clothes and then lowering the discharge hose, so they'd drain and letting them drip until they were dry enough to agitate in rinse. It was exhausting.

Laundry's been piling up. She'd talked of going to the laundromat down the street, but there's never time. When she gets home, she has her computer to set up, a printer to clean and adjust, stuff she still hasn't had time to unpack, email to answer...and that damned pager to attend.

The other day, she couldn't ride her bike to work, because she's run out of clean bicycle pants.

We'd agreed to go scratch-&-dent washer shopping yesterday evening, when she got off work.

We'd spent the morning shopping used furniture stores so she has some shelves and cabinets to unpack her things and store them. We got everything set up in her room and she unpacked a lot of stuff.

It's been hard on her, having most of what she owns in boxes for over a month.

We stopped at her old apartment. The landlord wanted to refund her deposit. He's selling some furniture and appliances. I'd said, if he sells that old dresser on legs, the one with the mirror, offer him twenty-five for it, but don't pay more than fifty. She offered him thirty; he took fifty. He also had a small, upright freezer. I'd have offered fifty, but he said eighty. We didn't argue; she gave him ninety on both, the rest to be paid on delivery. later this week or early next.

I took her to work. When I picked her up, she was insane. She goes in to her "work mode," and I have hell to pay to get her to relax and just enjoy being home. She worries over details, calendars, deadlines, schedules... and she transfers that worry to our home. Suddenly, every detail of the operation of our home and our lives is under scrutiny, criticized, found wanting.

She hates chaos and unpredictability. She needs order. She wants solutions and predictable outcomes.

I can understand, but life isn't like that.

So, anyway, I decided to wash 2 loads of her work clothes in that funky washer.

Lo and behold, the washer went through two loads of laundry perfectly. It spun. It didn't overheat and shut off.

I know I must elevate the washer onto a pallet. I've been collecting them for the chicken coop. The washer has no feet. It can't bounce on springed feet when it spins, so the "tilt" switch shuts it off. ANd the spindle to the drum extends down and rubs on the concrete pad on which the washer stands.

I think I just did so many loads when we first moved in, I overheated its pump and spin motors.

If I'm nice to it, it'll be nice to me.

So, she has clean work clothes; we didn't need to buy a washer; we didn't go to the laundromat.

I sat and listened to her analyse the problems at work. I offered her ideas and suggestions. I sympathised; I know those people and how that system disfunctions.

I fed her "rubbed" porkchops and my special baked beans. I fried an old banana in bean flour, sesame & flax seeds and millit.

She ate a slice of my sugarless, flourless cheese cake.

She fell into her bed, lifeless.

In October, there's a big project that will demand all her attention.

And she must tie up loose ends and prepare them for the fact that, mid November, she disappears for two or three months.

When she returns, she'll work full time and also take classes at the university.

I'll never see her again. She'll be tired and occupied all the time.

So, I'm diligently preparing our space.

I'm building the chicken coop. I'm unpacking, not only my stuff but hers. I'm doing most of the cleaning and maintanance of the house. I'm preparing the gardens and planning for the animals.

I haven't even unpacked the computer I use to do radio. My studio languishes, while I kill myself with heavy construction, hauling materials, doing heavy housework.

I fall. I drop things on my feet. Stuff falls off ladders onto my head: heavy staple guns, hammers, etc.

My legs hurt fiercely. My shoes are bad for ladders and heavy lifting.

But, every day, I work and work and work.

I'll be alone in here for three months. I'll have her car, but don't plan to use it much, without a license.

I'll have all that time to produce radio.

In the mean time, I'm keeping her bandaged, fed and clothed.

And working my butt off to make a home and work place for us.

I'm afraid my typing here just woke her; she just got up to use the restroom at 5:30am. She'll probably stay up. That'll make today a long one for her.

I've got to put up the new, folding door we bought at Home Depot. It covers the arch between her room and this living room, where I'm typing. I already painted her side pink: her favorite color. The side that'll face the living room will have Chinese murals on it; I'll paint them myself.` She already fixed the printer we bought at a yard sale, so I can print the murals from the internet to copy onto the door.

She needs a door. I need her to have a door, too. Light and sound from in here wake her. That ain't cool.

But, her clothes are clean; I've gotten in plenty of groceries; she has enough furniture now, for which she paid less than $200, incl. the new freezer.

I'm taking today to edit a Radio Theatre piece and to declutter this place and clean the floors.

I didn't mean to turn into a wife, honest. But someone's got to do it.

She's going back to bed now, thank gawd.

Nope. here she i

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

email to muh gurrl

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Well, that thing I saw in the trash, as I drove you to work, turned out to be a lucite "house." It's big enough to hold about ten gallons.

It was a pennies-for-the-homeless bank. Apparantly, a homeless person broke in and stole the pennies!

I lined it with gravel, filled it with dirt, planted all my herbs in it, ran a light fixture through the "chimney" with a 25w bulb for cold weather.

It's about 1x1x1'.

If I'd bought it, it would have cost me over a hundred bux, I know it!

Best damn herb greenhouse I ever had!

It's got: chives, rosemary, basil, catnip and sage in it. I'll plant some parsley and some cilantro, too. I may even put in some garlic!

Wait'll you see! I worked on it all morning!

Sorry about your yogurt/banana crisis.

I'll bring it, and a piece of that tiny cheese, when I pick you up.

Monday, September 27, 2004


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I'm tearin' myself up, building the other half of my chicken coop. It's dang near ten feet tall, on the side by my bedroom.

It's going to look great.

Except for the plastic dropcloths to waterproof it and the chicken wire, the rest of the construction materials is all garbage I've found. Particularly, old wire from the KUNM remodelling, demolition on a house remodel, salvaged seconds from a lumber yard and old pallets.

I've even salvaged door-sized screens and hardware.

It'll be a big, comfortable space for multiple animals of various species.

I'll make nesting boxes of old, wooden fruit crates.

Soon, people will be raking leaves and bagging them for the garbage. I'll collect as many as I can to insulate the floors and boxes of the coop, to compost and to mulch my soon-to-be garden.

Now, I'm resting.

I'll either finish tonight or tomorrow...

Friday, September 24, 2004


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I'm watching my chickens grow up. I remember those New Yorkers, dazzled and thrilled by the progress of falcons, nesting on an apartment building near Central Park. They'd ooh and ahh at every step in both the parents' and the chicks' lives. I'm feeling the same way.

I was happy to see the first flight feathers emerge from the down. I laughed when they discovered bugging. I note who's the best scratcher, who is flapping flight muscles the most, who stands IN the water to drink...

I came out the other night and found them, cold and miserable, on top of the bird cage I'd set up for them. They're learning to roost. Instead of going IN the cage, they'd flown on top of it. There they stood, cold and miserable, trying to sleep.

I cut a hole in a cardboard apple box, threaded tree limbs through the vent holes and covered it with a towel. Their "hot rock," an electric, heating rock used for reptiles, sat in the bottom on newspaper. I went out to see them, under the table on which it stood, crammed in the corner of the porch, all trying to roost on the coaxel cable, stapled to the house. So, for two nights now, I've had to gather them up and put them inside the box.

They'll figure it out. I'll probably have to add some branches to climb on the outside of the box, though.

I've put them in the front yard. The cats and dogs prefer the back, so it reduces the potential for chicken killing. The red died last week, of suspicious causes.

They run that front yard like security guards. They cover every inch. And they leak through the neighbor's rabbit fencing and our chain link gates to gossip and explore the sidewalk in front of our houses.

They rather prefer the neighbor's driveway. It's lined with privit hedges and vines. It's great for scratching and bugging, and it's shady and damp.

Our yards were just hot gravel and weeds when we moved in. I've planted a few things already. And there are some things set out for shade in the back. But nothing beats scratching under bushes, if you're a chicken.

Eventually, of course, the back yard will be garden. They'll have plenty of hunting and adventuring places next year. But winter's coming, so I'm not planting there yet.

I have my iris and roses to plant before the roots freeze in pots, but that's not much.

They're already out of their box this morning, hunched up against the cold, chattering and circling on the front porch for food and water. Soon as the sun lights the sky, their circles will expand into the yard, and they'll be off for the day.

They work all day: eating, scratching, bugging, pulling grass blades, chasing insects... They talk to each other constantly. They don't like not being able to see each other and will scream when lost from the other two.

The cats just watch now. The chicks are large enough now to look potentially dangerous, and not worth attacking. They still, barely, fit through chain linking, but that won't be true much longer.

By the time I finish my chicken coop, which ought to be by the first of next week, I'd think, the chicks won't fit through the chicken wire.

I had a slight detour in my construction yesterday. I took my girl to work and stopped at the store. On my way out, I noticed some cabinets, discarded in the ally, across Lomas from the parking lot I was leaving.

They were under bed cabinets, made of pine. The finish was bleached off and they had lots of dirt, leaves, weed seeds, spiders and junk all over them. THey had no drawer pulls or other hardware. THere were 2 of them, six feet long, three drawers each. ONe had a drawer missing.

But the wood wasn't warped and they were solid.

So, I threw them onto my girl's bicycle rack that I'd found in a dumpster near the University. I tied them down and slowly drove them home.

I brushed off the dirt and painted them with pink, latex housepaint. My girl likes pink.

I drilled 1" holes in the hardware screw holes. I threaded satin tassled curtain ties through the holes for drawer pulls.

I cut chip board to fit as a base.

I dragged it all into her room, moved her bedding off the floor, placed the bed frame and made her bed.

She sleeps on her Judo exercise mat, which is an odd 3x8 feet. But I got the sheets, blankets and mattress cover beaten into submission.

Now, she as 5 more drawers to unpack into. Her room's already less cluttered. And her standing lamp, with the gooseneck reading light, works better with an elevated bed.

I think she was quite impressed.

I'm quite impressed with how much my arms hurt from doing all that in a single day.

She'll be leaving for a couple of months this November. I want things ship shape and organized before she leaves.

I also want this house unpacked and decluttered so we can have a house warming party at the end of October.

So, today I'll resume my construction of the chicken/cat/dog coop. It's very nice: tall enough to walk through, water proof, cozy and decorated in cowboys, Indians and Mexican touristy tacky stuff. Cute as a bug.

It's almost seven in the morning now. It's time for me to brew tea, warm coffee, and start breakfast.

I'm the domestic side of our alliance. She's more the geeky breadwinner...for now. Once my studio's operational, I may end up outstripping her in the bacon department. Who knows?

I'll tell you what, though: this is the best partnership I've ever had.

And, the other night, she said it again: "As long as I have a job, you'll never be homeless again."

And I believe her.

Monday, September 20, 2004

"God Help The Outcast"

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I don't know if you can hear me, or if you're even there.
I don't know if you will listen to a humble prayer.
They tell me I am just an outcast, I shouldn't speak to you...
Still I see your face, and wonder, were you once an outcast too?

God help the outcasts, hungry from birth.
Show them the mercy they don't find on Earth.
The lost and forgotten, they look to you still.
God help the outcasts, or nobody will.

I ask for nothing, I can get by.
But I know so many less lucky than I.
God help the outcasts, the poor and downtrod.
I thought we all were the children of God.

I don't know if there's a reason;
why some are blessed, some not.
Why the few you seem to favor --
they fear us, flee us, try not to see us.

God help the outcasts, the tattered, the torn.
Seeking an answer to why they were born.
Winds of misfortune have blown them about.
You made the outcasts, don't cast them out.
The poor and unlucky, the weak and the odd.
I thought we all were the children of God.

Friday, September 17, 2004

I'm in

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Well, everything I own is here now. I've returned the keys to the slum apartment to the "management" company.

Lots of stuff is stacked under plastic tarps on the side of the house now. The piles in the driveway, which were driving me mad, are gone. All that's in the driveway are pretty containers of plants.

I moved all the residual in one day. I couldn't sleep on the morning of the 15th, the day the rent's due. I got up at three in the morning and began moving things from the driveway to the back yard.

When the sun came up, I stored and stacked everything under the plastic on the other side of the house, out of the way, barely visible from the street.

It took me about seven hours.

I was completely and utterly exhausted when I was done. It's two days later, and I'm still in a LOT of pain.

I've been doing light repairs and chores here, since. Mostly, I'm resting and healing boo boos.

I was having nightmares of being evicted: not yet unpacked, but with police watching me to see if they could arrest me for trespassing if I didn't pack quickly enough.

It's all based on the trauma of losing my boarding house in the War Zone. I've never fully recovered from what happened to me there.

I freak out at the merest possiblity of homelessness.

I scared my girl to death with all this, of course. She can't know. If we DID lose this place, she'd land on her feet; she'd be ok.

But I'd lose everything.

She's hurt and grumpy and so am I.

But I told her last night, as we ran, yet again, to Home Depot for more stuff to fix other stuff:

I know married couples, been together for years, who would have divorced or killed each other, under the stresses of this move we just completed.

We've only been together two months. Except for about 3 days of relatively-minor bickering, we've been very supportive of and helpful to each other.

Even when we're mad as hell at each other, we can still talk and work stuff out without major acts of hostility.

It scares her more than it does me, of course: she likes her life neat and tidy, easy to manage.

I've never had the luxury, really. I pay attention to details, like she does, to protect against any eventualities I can foresee.

But with limited resources/income, there's only so much I can do. So, I've learned to tolerate a certain level of confusion, crisis and chaos without totally freaking out.

Some of what's tolerable to me is on the boarder of major crisis, to her, and it makes her uneasy.

Add to that the fact this is the first time in many years either of us has lived with anybody, let alone had a lover.

Add to that this is her first love affair with a female.

Add to that my stuff.

Etc, etc....

We're doing very well.

So, I'm on the black, iron futon frame we drug here from the neighbors' trash. I covered it with old couch cushions and quilts. It's soft, pretty and comfy.

I'm in my purple African caftain.

I just finished cleaning and installing the shower massager. I still have to pick up the tools in the bath and her room, and reinstall the access panel to the shower on her bedroom wall.

I may put the new spring on the front storm door. I may not.

I have more lumber to cut to frame the chicken coop, but that'll wait 'til the cool of the evening.

I have a piece of cheap brisket to slow cook in Carne Adovado sauce, potatoes and veggies.

Animals are fed and watered and I watered the garden last night.

She'll be working all day tomorrow, too. So I can putter more then.

But I don't want to get too tired. Sunday, we have tickets to see "Embedded" up in Santa Fe.

She gassed up the car last night.

We're going to make a day of it, wandering the town, eating, watching the movie, etc.

Oh, tomorrow's the yard sale at the Peace and Justice center. I'm looking for a larger, Asian-style pot to put her bamboo in. I will do that, after I drop her off to work.

May swing by the Pueblo Cultural Center; I'm running out of cigarettes. It's right up the street.

May buy a few more chickens; the red died the other day. I don't know why.

Mostly, I'm recovering from the physical trauma of moving, though.

It's not supposed to rain for about another week yet. I have time to get my delicate stuff in from under the tarp.

Today, I'm just recovering.

So's she.

It's nice here. I really like our home. She does, too.

My arms are so sore, it hurts to type.

So, I'm signing off to watch soap operas and nap 'til she gets home and we eat.

Then, I'll work on the chicken coop, in the cool of the evening.

Monday, September 13, 2004

outta da slum

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Lordamercy! My girl & I went back over to my old place. We got everything except a few tools, cleaning supplies, dishes, step ladder and coffee maker.

While we were there, the Satanist scizophrenic out front threw the Tirade From Hell. I'm gonna miss that place like a toothache. jees.

And, one, more time, someone had broken in. This time, they opened the window and came in the apartment. freaks.

So, knowing the entire contents of my apartment are pretty much moved to our new house is a tremendous relief for me.

I just cleaned out the fridge here to make room for pickles, sauces and some frozen meats from over there.

I've hurt myself, working so hard and fast to get the hell out of that nut house.

So, I'm trying to take my girl's advice and take it easy today.

But the driveway's piled up with things that need to be unpacked, and I feel icky, like a white trash hillbilly, with all that stuff sitting out there in this tidy, neat neighborhood, where people bring their trash containers back in the minute the sanitation trucks leave.

I bought four, chicks: 2 aracona, 1 Rhode Island red and one black rock.

Porkchop, it turns out, is a chickenherd. He guards them from cats all day, as they scratch in the yard. He loves those chickens to death.

I bring them in, inside a bird cage, at night.

We bought some chicken wire and I've located lots of free lumber. So, my next big project is building a large enclosure for them, and for the cats and dog, when we're not here.

I want a nice shelter, waterproofed with plastic, before winter sets in. The walls will be lined with clear plastic, the rooves with black.

We're also talking about getting a goat. My girl's sister raises pygmy goats. She's going out there for a couple of months this winter. Maybe she can bring one home on the plane? I could give her my dog carrier, just in case it's possible...

Our front yard is quickly becoming a Zen garden. I bought 2 tiny boxwood trees, some petunias (for color, 'til winter), some herbs and 3 sale rosebushes. The neighbors really like it. I have the circular rounds from a cable spindle. I'll cut them in half and make Chinese style "moon" bridges out of them, painted white.

Our living room is rather Asian, too. My girl's into martial arts. She's a black belt in Karate. She has a full set of Kendo armor and all her belts. She also has several practice swords. I'll be displaying them all in the livingroom. I'd like some potted bromiliads and orchids, too. We have a small bamboo in here already.

I'd like to plant some tall bamboo outside the living room window, for privacy and shade, as it's on the south side.

Our kitchen's huge: two refrigerators, three tables, including the dining table which comfortably seats six.

My bedroom's off the kitchen and is decorated in rather a juvenile, cartoonish style.

Each of our bedrooms opens into the bath. It's decorated in heart-shaped baskets and decorations, wigs with hair ornaments in them, feather boas...just really girly, like a Hollywood dressingroom. It's big, too.

My studio's sort of a mess right now, but is shaping up slowly. Soon, I'll be able to produce radio in it.

We got broadband internet. So, I can FTP stories anywhere in the world from my girl's computer. I'm saving my borrowed computer for mostly sound editing and dial up.

And, of course, I have my trusty WebTV, from which I'm writing this. Bless the WebTV!

We'll have a huge garden in the big back yard. We're talking about ducks and a pond, too.

All in all, even though the move has been exhausting, frustrating, confusing and just nasty, everything's coming along very well.

And I'm away from those nasty, filthy, drunken, drugged, raging freaks in that hellhole I called "home" for over a year!

This place? This is home. I have my girl, my dog, my cats, my chickens, my fish, my garden, my studio....it's awesome.

I am the LUCKIEST girl in the WORLD!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

well, I guess I CAN blog from WebTV!

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It was very incompatible, after Blogger "Upgraded," and my old browser just wouldn't work.

I haven't blogged since the end of August, because I didn't have the borrowed PC to use.

well, hell.

SO, you've missed the gory details of my move.

And you've missed the grisley details of my girl, being knocked down by my Evil Dog, Porkchop, and landing on a rock, on her back. gawd.

But, I'll get you all up to date soon, now that I know I CAN blog!

My girl's ok; she could be better, of course, and is walking like either John Wayne or a very femme Frankenstein monster. But she's back to work and she's whining, so I think she's feeling better, if stiff.

She's saying she's always stiff.

ONly at work, usually.

She's actually pretty soft and fluffy, most of the time.

I made her wear a house dress the other day, cuz they're easy to put on and take off when one is miserable.

SHe got caught, outside, in her housedress, fanny pack and Sensible Shoes, by our neighbor across the street.

She knows him professionally.

I just stood there, quiet as a mouse, scratching a cat's ass, while she and he both pretended she wasn't dressed in that ridiculous get up.

It was quite amusing.

But she's been seen in sleeveless, flower print, seersucker housedresses on several occasions in public now.

I think I've lowered her standards.

We're turning into hillbillies.

Next, it'll be Kool Aids and Velveeta grilled cheese sandwiches on the front porch.

She's correcting me: she thinks it should be "Kool Aid," not "Kool Aids;" She says it's not plural.

See if I EVER blog again while she's watching me. Persnickity bitch.

Don't call me a slut, you whore!

I'll show you a skank; bend over.

This is how we spend our evenings now: insulting each other and complaining about our war injuries.

I love her very much.

Now watch: this one won't post.