Poverty Is Not an Accident

Poverty Is Not an Accident
Nelson Mandela

Monday, December 12, 2005

Psychodelic "Mop" Roosters

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

This is my post in Craigslist.org

Psychodelic "Mop" Roosters - No Cock Fighters! - $10

Reply to: sale-115476933@craigslist.org
Date: 2005-12-03, 8:17AM MST

I have 3 mop roosters for sale. They're all less than a year old. Various and totally beautiful colors! These are not fighting roosters.

Goldie: Golden mop and hood, very bossy.

Pearl: Dark black and rust with white & black mop. Very shy and reserved.

Fink: Asymetrical mop of black & white, dark black and rust.

I may be willing to part with Red, as well. He's a Rhode Island Red. I rescued him from cockfighters. I don't know how old he is.

The mops are all avid ...cough... breeders. Will even mate with plush animals. Kinky.

Bring your own container. I don't have a car and cannot deliver.

this is in or around NW Albuquerque

no -- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Monday, November 28, 2005

:"Starting Over:" Dangerous

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

Posting to the official web forum:

"this show is dangerous"Posted by rriverstone on 11-28-05 at 01:07 PM
Today, we're to believe that shame and guilt are to be eliminated from our lives? Then, why was Jill presented with "charges" of guilt? And WHY was a Black woman mug shot and fingerprinted?!!
Why is her "life coach" calling her, "lazy?" The woman is anemic. She's carrying a forty-pound tumor. She TRIED to climb an enormous tower on the first day. She carried dozens of pounds of "luggage" around with her for -- what? -- a week or more? Her doctors have ordered that she not exercise.
Is her "life coach" the "house" servant, while Jill is the "field" servant? How dare a Black woman dump such judgmental accusations on a sister?!
WHY weren't the contestants on this show required to take a medical, physical examination, as a prerequisite to their participation?! These "life coaches" could have KILLED Jill! The blood vessels, connected to her tumor, could have ruptured and she could easily have died of internal hemmoraging!
HOW is it OK not to have regular, group therapy: a place where people could offer SUPPORTIVE feedback to each other. Why has a situation of gossip and resentment been allowed to fester for months, with no intervention?
The contestants are constantly provoked, shamed, ridiculed, verbally abused and threatened BY THE "LIFE COACHES!" I suppose this makes for more photogenic television, but it is destructive.
This show is EXTREMELY irresponsible. Following the "advice" on this show, as portrayed by these "life coaches," is dangerous.
I could well say that, were anything to happen to Jill's health, she could sue the show off the air. For one thing, they've, in effect, practiced medicine without a license, in their requirements of unreasonable and unsupervised extreme, physical exertion.
This is a VERY anti-woman show!

I looked at my post. The forum had placed the label, "attention whore," beside my name. They also added American Cancer Society, for some reason. I guess that's supposed to be funny??

I replied,

rriverstone 2 desperate attention whore postings DAW Level: "American Cancer Society Spokesperson"
11-28-05, 01:13 PM (EST)
1. "RE: this show is dangerous"
I am NOT a "whore;" I am concerned for the mental and physical health of not only the contestants, but the viewers. I'm hoping this forum will be viewed by someone involved in the show's production.
The fact that a show about women "starting over" subscribes to a forum which calls its participants "whores" says it all.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

more on LaSardo

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

I kinda/sorta got a "fan" letter. It's actually for LaSardo. Here's my reply:

At first, I was angry with him for portraying a stereotype of a Latino thug. It's old news on GH; Sonny's one, too, essentially.

I wanted to know what makes a guy like LaSardo tick. I DID find a good interview with him, in which I felt reassured that LaSardo is actually a thoughtful, well-spoken man.

And his role on Ghost Whisperer (a show I'd never watch, otherwise) confirmed for me that he's a multidimensional actor, as well. It was quite touching, actually.

I'd like to seem him in a role for which they never cast Latinos, let alone skeletal guys covered in tattoos. I bet he could play Hamlet. How about a remake of "They Call Me Mister Tibbs?" A story in which he played Jesus or Buddha might be very interesting. Stuff like that.

Glad you found the blog. I haven't been writing enough lately. I've GOT to get back to it!
LaSardo is an interesting guy. He deserves more attention to his career. He could put up his OWN website! Jees...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Email to "Ellen" show

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

I have, of course, no idea if this email was even received, as their website has too many bells and whistles and doesn't function properly.

Here's what I wrote.

Gentle People,

I've been doing a little research on Robert LaSardo, whose new job is recurring character Manny Ruiz on General Hospital. He's not even listed in ABC's GH website credits.

He's a fascinating, intelligent and perceptive man. He plays a sadistic "bad guy," which worried me, as he's Latino; I was concerned about stereotypes in mass media.

I believe it would be educational and fascinating for your viewers to hear an interview with him, including clips from his indy films. He's not at all like the characters he has portrayed.

I'd LOVE to sit down and ask him lots of questions: discuss the state of commercial film vs. indy film, have him discuss the motivation for his body art, ask him about his writing and producing career and generally perceive him as a "nice guy."

My visceral response to his physical appearance is instant terror. But I KNOW there's more than meets the eye. I'm busting myself on my own racism, every time I see him!

Monday, November 07, 2005

not writing is dishonest

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

Ma and I saw the movie, "Capote" the other day. It was at the fancy multiplex, where I seldom go. The Movies 8 dollar theatre is my speed; they're not new releases, but new enough, for a dollar. And it's across the street from the Goodwill warehouse, for cheap shopping.

I was sitting on the porch this morning, sipping coffee and having a smoke. It's not light out yet: just the vaguest hint that this planet orbits a sun and that it might roll that way soon.

I was thinking about death. I was thinking how people don't REALLY write about death. I was thinking how people make death into a personality, a being, and how dishonest that is. I was thinking how people don't write about the universal experience of death: the breathing, the twitches, the reduction of a loved personality to a series of biological reactions to shut down.

I was thinking people don't acknowledge, discuss, write about this universality in much detail very often. I wondered why. Maybe we're just too in denial of death, so we'll have the gumption to live? After all, if you are constantly conscious of the fact that everything you do makes little difference in the end, why strive?

Or, maybe, especially in this modern, middle class, American life, we just aren't exposed to much death? Maybe we know a handful of relatives and friends who've died. Maybe we didn't experience their deaths firsthand. They probably died in a sterile hospital. Maybe only certain professions -- slaughterhouses, hospitals -- see much death anymore. The rest of us are no longer witnesses, as we'd have been a century ago, or in another, less affluent country.

Ma and I saw James Whale's "Frankenstein" and "Bride of Frankenstein" recently. We also watched "Gods and Monsters." And PBS had a biography of Mary Shelly for Halloween. Now, THERE's a person who witnessed death first hand. Her very birth killed her mother. 3 of her four children died...or was it 4 of 5? Her lover died; her sister died....friends died. No WONDER she wanted to reanimate the dead! I need to reread that book...

When I moved to Louisville from Los Angeles, I was frequently struck by the cemetaries, usually family plots or old church yards, sprinkled throughout the neighborhoods. One could easily live next door to tombstones. I remember thinking it was healthy. In Los Angeles, the dead are segregated to the outskirts of communities: out by the oil wells, self storage units and industrial parks. We never see their markers, think of their lives, think of our mortality. There's that one, old cemetary we pass as we drive on the 405 freeway. We tell each other stories of who's buried there: Jack Benny, Valentino, Al Jolson. We don't know, for sure, if any of those people are actually buried there, of course. We never pull in and have a look around. It's all just celebrity gossip.

So, between the hospitals, EMS, funeral parlors and segregated cemetaries, we really aren't exposed to death much, or dying. We make up stories about heaven and peace, without understanding how PROFOUNDLY people of past generations NEEDED to believe the dying, the suffering, might have some Great Reward, some Final Justice, at the end of the ordeal.

I was thinking, this morning, how death isn't so much a personality as an experience. And then, I realized DEATH isn't an experience; by the time you get there, you're DEAD. DYING is the experience. And we don't write about it, not really. I've seen so many creatures die. And the physical process is so similar, despite the circumstances. One watches a being one loved, with whom one has distinctly individual memories, reduced to a series of rather violent and frightening reactions, as the body struggles to maintain life. It's pretty horrifying, really.

I remembered "In Cold Blood," which we rented, along with "To Kill A Mockingbird," after viewing Capote. I remembered the hanging scene. The jerks, the twitches. In "Capote," at least, they were honest enough to say the hanged person's heart can keep beating of nineteen minutes, more or less. One wonders the experience of the hanged. Interesting, isn't it, that we place a hood over the condemned prisoner's face, so we don't have to WITNESS the facial reactions? They were hooded in "The Green Mile," too.

We don't WANT to experience it. We don't want to witness it.

Capote never wrote another book after "In Cold Blood." He squandered his remaining years on alcoholism and shoring up his porous ego. He couldn't write because, in my opinion, he could no longer be honest. He had nothing more to say that could be considered authentic.

I was angry with him this morning for giving in, being coopted by his witness of the executions of Perry and Hickock. I was angry with him for using that as an excuse not to write.

And then, I reminded myself, "Rogi, YOU're not writing, either." Oh, yeah. I've many excuses, but no reasons, why I stopped writing in these blogs. I'll discuss some, I'm sure.

But I just wanted someone to know that, in the predawn chill of my front porch today, I caught myself in the act, came in and started writing. Gotta let the cat in.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Mental "Health" Industry Exploits Disaster for Profits

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

From: CCHR [mailto:news@cchr.org]
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 6:37 PM
To: CCHR Int
Subject: Beware the "Grief Police" Taking Advantage of Katrina Victims

Topic: Beware the "Grief Police" Taking Advantage of Katrina Victims

Mental Health Industry Exploits Disaster for Profits

The mental health industry is descending on the Katrina-ravaged gulf region in massive numbers expecting to reap large government appropriations for psychiatric treatment of hurricane victims and relief workers. Self-interested mental health practitioners and psychiatric front groups, warning of dire mental health consequences for victims, relief workers, and society at large are lining up in droves for their anticipated bonanza.
Sept 4 Atlanta-Constitution Journal article.

Insight Magazine, a Washington Times publication, published an expose' in January 2002 on the mental health industry's blueprint for financial gain following such disasters as the Oklahoma City bombing and September 11. Profitable tactics included mandatory mental health screenings, involuntary commitments and forced drugging - beginning with police, firefighters and volunteers working at the disaster site. Click here to access the full text of the Insight Magazine article,
"The Grief Police", by Kelly Patricia O'Meara.

Psychiatrists are already promoting the use of mind-altering drugs for victims and relief workers, which carry strong warnings of suicidality, hostility and violence from the
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its European equivalent, CHMP. September 6 Forbes article.

For interviews with investigative reporter Kelly Patricia O'Meara and other experts, call Ben Williams at 800-869-2247


Katrina Jobs

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

If you are an evacuee who worked in the tourism and travel industries in affected areas, people are looking for you to give you a pay check. In addition, the travel industry is launching a web site, opening September 15, to help you locate employment in your new locations.

Go to Katrina Jobs for further information.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hurricane survivors

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

Hurricane Katrina Survivors a blog. If you're missing someone, check here.

Katrina Housing If you have housing to offer, or if you need housing, check here.

Saturday, Sept. 10: No Gas Day

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

September 10th, 2005 - purchase NO GAS!







Remember: September 10th, 2005 - purchase NO GAS!

Laura Bush: Poor benefit from Katrina

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

NEW YORK Accompanying her husband, former President George
H.W.Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in
Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the
poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated, "This is working very well for them." . . .

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."


Refugees---gramatically wrong??

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

Subject: Re: [KUNMIDEAS-L] Refugees---gramatically wrong??

I think the people who resent the label, "refugee,"
are reacting to the pity factor in popular culture and
mainstream media.

I think they're afraid they'll be lumped in with
refugees from other countries' natural and political
disasters. I think they resent the notion that they're
not tax-paying Americans.

I also think this need to distance oneself from
so-called "third world" peoples is a reaction to right
wing propaganda, such as talk radio.

People don't want to be associated with the
mythology/urban legend/propaganda archetypes of
welfare cheats, bums, mooches...ad nauseum.

It's a dang shame, in my opinion: with Katrina --as
with 911-- we had another, perfect opportunity for US
citizens to begin to identify with the global
community. We had an opportunity to raise our
consciousness, break out of our privileged
isolationism, and begin to identify with the masses of
most of the Human population.

There are communities of millions of people on this
planet who NEVER have electricity, running water,
secure food supplies or sewage. They live in
deprivation daily, for generations.

We had a chance to learn something about deprivation
in this crisis.

And we had a chance to break those myths and urban
legends wide open and reveal them for the manipulative
lies they really are.

I wondered, when Mayor Chavez bragged that the city
has a thousand apartment units in this city which are
currently vacant: why are so MANY children here
HOMELESS then? Why aren't those units already and
always filled to capacity?

I see homeless families all over this city, all the
time. Why don't we raise money and donations for them?
Because we blame the victim? Because we buy into the
lies of the propaganda spin machines?

Why didn't the panel guests for the Homelessness
Marathon get pate, shrimp and roast beef--as the
donors did recently?

So, "refugee" is a not US distinction? Ah. not us

Sounds like internalized class-ism, to me. Just my opinion.

Rogi Riverstone


Subject: Re: [KUNMIDEAS-L] Subject: Re: [KUNMIDEAS-L] Refugees---gramatically wrong??

Vince said, "Just like we can't feed and clothe (and
house) our own downtrodden, but
if we get Katrina Evacuees (and the national media) we
can move the
damn Sandias!"

You've explained a great mystery to me, Vince. For
years, I wondered why the "Peace and Justice" Center
was located in cushy Snob Hill and not in the "War
Zone," where it's desperately needed.

Easier to feel sorry for Guatemalan kids, five
thousand of miles away, rather than risk tuberculosis,
from Guatamalan kids, five miles away.... sigh.
Mustn't dirty the hand that feeds...

Rogi Riverstone


NM Town Hall on Katrina

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

Subject: Re: [KUNMIDEAS-L] NM Town hall on Katrina?

May I suggest this town hall provide specific,
practical information and discussion about what we can
do, right here, to circumvent the experiences of New

I was just thinking, this morning: I need to build a
solar generator for electricity; I need to get some
iodine and some charcoal for water filtering and
purification; I need to expand my rotating stock of
preserved foods; I need to think about battery-powered
light, radio and other appliances, etc.

Can our city immediately activate city and APS busses,
to evacuate EVERYBODY? Can we store and rotate
emergency water, food, medical and sanitary supplies
in city facilities, such as the Pit and the Convention
center? Can we supply city facilities with solar or
wind generators, so our buildings are self-powering?
Can we educate our population on how to leave? If we
can't evacuate, can our population be educated on how
to survive here?

Can we supply medicines, such as insulin, to those who
need them?

How can the citizens of Albq. prepare ourselves for
disaster? How do we avoid the violence we see in the
Delta? How will we provide for the rural communities,
who will be cut off far longer than urban areas? What
alternative forms of communication, such as ham radio,
can we utilize to stay in contact with the outside
world (I'm also seriously considering building a ham
radio, myself).

If we DON'T depend on government (which seems to be
helpless in the face of real catastrophe), how do we
provide for ourselves, so we will be survivors, rather
than victims?

I suggest that, if we put the needs of our children
first, we'll have the resources necessary to take care
of ALL of us! What's good for the kids is good for the community.

Rogi Riverstone


"War Zone?"

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

Subject: [KUNMIDEAS-L] "War Zone?"

When I first moved to the La Mesa neighborhood, I,
too, resisted the label of "War Zone" to describe my

I soon realized that it was the property owners, north
of Copper Street, for whom this term is the most
problematic. They're VERY worried about their property
values, understandably.

But it is THEY, and the APD, who have declared war on
those of us, south of Copper, who rent.

We can't function, as a result. We're constantly under
the most miniscule scrutiny. Yeah, we're poor. We work
on our own cars, and sometimes, those are on concrete
blocks in our yards. Selective enforcement sees to it
that it is only OUR cars that are cited as
nonoperating vehicles.

Selective enforcement of ordinances, laws and
legislation torments us. Things that are considered
"Quaint," things tourists snap photos of in other
neighborhoods in Albuquerque, are considered
indications of insanity and slovenliness in the War
Zone. I specifically am thinking of the Aztec Hotel,
covered in wine bottles, stuffed animals and plastic
flowers. If you "decorate" like that in the War Zone,
the city will use the "nuisance" abatement ordinances
to get you EVICTED and get your property condemned!

I have called the police, only to have them stand in
my yard, screaming and cursing at ME! If you live in
the War Zone, you MUST be up to something, or must be

I was stalked by a mental patient. He was robbing me.
He beat me. He tried to rape me. The police did
NOTHING. In fact, they used the fact that I'd called
the police so many times as an excuse to get ME
evicted by the "nuisance" abatement ordinances!! If
there are too many calls to the police about a
specific address, they can enforce that law!

NOBODY would help me. I was instantly homeless, and my
neighbors broke in and robbed me blind.

Apparantly, stalking laws only apply to middle class,
heterosexual women.

Now, I suspect my stalker was this guy, Hide (Hyde?),
who just killed five people, including two cops!

The neighborhood association, which, poetically, calls
itself the La Mesa CIA (community improvement
association) played a MAJOR ROLE in getting me thrown
out of the neighborhood.

I had marched with them in antidrug rallies. I had
attended their meetings. For years, every child in the
War Zone was welcomed in my home for sanctuary,
instruction, food, clothing, etc.

But the CIA blamed ME for criminal activity of these
kids, when they were NOT at my home. I, of course,
said, "Those kids are at my home from 3pm-9pm (just
before cerfew), weekdays. They're at my house for up
to ten hours a day on weekends. Imagine, then, how
MUCH trouble they could be causing, during those
hours, were they not with ME! And what are YOU doing
to improve their lives, save them from incest, educate
them? Have you ever given any of them one pencil for

As a result, I was made homeless, treated as a
criminal, and banished from the neighborhood.

It all happened in FRONT of the kids. So, they got the
clear message, "If you TRY to improve conditions in
this slum, THIS is what we'll do to you!"

I had sent copies of my emails about the stalking to:
APD Chief, AFD Chief, Mayor, Abq. Tribune and the
Governor's office. An animal control officer, present
the day of my eviction, HEARD a fire marshall say,
"the mayor wants this house bulldozed to the ground,
and that bitch locked up."

People are DYING of neglect, prejudice and selective
enforcement in that community. There's no rehab.
There's on social outreach. There's no job training.
There are NO JOBS!!! And our CARS get towed, in
selective sting operations -- ostensibly looking for
no seat belts, broken lights, cracked windshields --
when we're pulled over for unannounce road blocks that
fill city coffers and leave us without transportation
to our DISHWASHING jobs in the far, North East

SLUMLORDS, in the University area? PLEASE!! WE have to
stockpile water, because our landlords leave for
vacation without paying water bills! Our CEILINGS
collapse in the monsoons! Our electricity and gas go
out more than WE do! It's not safe to walk two blocks
to the grocery, for all the punks vending crack
outside the Philadelphia Ministries "Half Way" house,
which is really just a SCAM for the so-called
"Minister," who holds the residents hostage as forced
labor for his CONTRACTING business!!

We walk through human feces, daily. Our kids have
asthma. We have rats. You can't drink a beverage at
night, without leaving a light on, because the ROACHES
will climb into your glass AS YOU DRINK IT!

NOBODY cares about us. We are FORCED to be criminals,
in order to just survive.

La Mesa means "The Table," yet there's no room at the
table for US!

WE didn't declare war; THEY did.

Rogi Riverstone


Friday, September 02, 2005

"Vote" Image

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

For reasons I can't explain, people have been visiting the composite image I made called, "vote." It's an online jpeg, taken from a real newspaper photo. No, I didn't remember to cite my source, dang it. I also added the caption, "Vote," in red. I created it for the 2004 elections in the USA.

Here's the image, since Google images search seems to have issues: http://rriverstone.com/images/vote.jpg

Hurricane Housing

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

Dear MoveOn member,

Hurricane Katrina's toll on communities, homes and lives has devastate= d the nation. Now victims must face the daunting question of where to go next—and= we can help.

Tens of thousands of newly homeless families are being bused to a stadium in Houston, where they may wait for weeks or months. At least 80,= 000 are competing for area shelters, and countless more are in motels, cars, or w= herever they can stay out of the elements. The Federal Emergency Management Agenc= y and the Red Cross are scrambling to find shelter for the displaced.

This morning, we've launched an emergency national housing drive to= connect your empty beds with hurricane victims who desperately need a place to wait ou= t the storm. You can post your offer of housing (a spare room, extra bed, even a decen= t couch) and search for available housing online at:


Housing is most urgently needed within reasonable driving distance (ab= out 300 miles) of the affected areas in the Southeast, especially New Orleans.

Please forward this message to anyo= ne you know in the region who might be able to help.

But no matter where you live, your housing could still make a world of= difference to a person or family in need, so please offer what you can.

The process is simple:

You can sign up to become a host by = posting a description of whatever housing you have available, along with contact information. Y= ou can change or remove your offer at any time.

Hurricane victims, local and nationa= l relief organizations, friends and relatives can search the site for housing. We'll do everythin= g we can to get your offers where they are needed most. Many shelters actually al= ready have Internet access,=20 but folks without 'net access can still make use of the site through case= workers and family members.

Hurricane victims or relief agencies= will contact hosts and together decide if it's a good match and make the necessary tra= vel arrangements. The host's address is not released until a particular match is agreed on.=

If hosting doesn't work for you, please consider donating to the Red C= ross to help with the enormous tasks of rescue and recovery. You can give online = at:

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3D= 859

As progressives, we share a core belief that we are all in this togeth= er, and today is an important chance to put that idea to work. There are thousand= s of families who have just lost everything and need a place to stay dry. Let's do what= we can to help.


Thanks for being there when it matters most.

—Noah Winer and the whole MoveOn.org Civic Action Team
Thursday, September 1st, 2005

the view from Air Force One

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

From History News Network.

Save the Big Easy!

Thursday, September 01, 2005


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

Is my credit card information secure?
My donation was denied. Why?
Can I cancel a donation?
View All FAQs
American Red Cross Emergency Vehicles respond to disasters nationwide.
Did you know... The American Red Cross provides assistance to people in need... free of charge... every single day!
Donate by Phone Donate by Mail Donate Spare Change Donate In-Kind Products Donate Airline Miles Donate Stock Latest News
Privacy Policy

Dear Rogi,

Thank you for your generous gift to the American Red Cross 2005 Hurricane Relief Fund. This fund makes it possible for the Red Cross to help nationwide Hurricane disaster victims of 2005 with critical needs such as shelter, food, clothing, counseling and other assistance. It's because of the 2005 Hurricane Relief Fund that our response can be immediate regardless of its location or the community’s ability to financially support our efforts.

Your generous support means the most to the families who rely on Red Cross to help them through some of the most difficult times of their lives.

Please continue to visit us at http://www.redcross.org/ to see how we’re using your 2005 Hurricane Relief Fund donation to make a difference, and for the most current disaster updates and stories about the people being helped.

Together, we can save a life.

American Red Cross
To verify that your company participates in a matching gift program, please contact your human resource representative.

Please print or save this message for your personal records.

Donation Information
Donation Form:
Hurricane 2005 Relief and other Related Events
This organization's tax ID is:

This letter serves as the tax receipt for your gift. The American Red Cross is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization as described in section 501(c) (3) of the IRS Code for 1984, as amended. Our tax identification number is 53-0196605. Adequate records will be maintained and made available to the IRS upon request. In accordance with IRS regulations, no goods or services were provided to the donor by the American Red Cross as part of this contribution.
Your gift may be recognized in future Red Cross publications. If you prefer your gift to remain anonymous, or have questions about your gift’s designation, or would like to learn more about the services that the Red Cross is committed to providing, please call 1-800-797-8022.

The American Red Cross is not a government agency and all Red Cross disaster assistance is free thanks to the generosity of people like you. The value of your donation is increased by the fact that the ratio of volunteer Red Cross workers to paid staff is almost 36 to one.
Contributions to the American Red Cross, a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, are deductible for computing income and estate taxes.

© Copyright The American Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

They ain't chicks no more

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

It's dark again at 5am; Summer Solstice has passed. It's still hottern hell all day, though.

I was just out in the back yard, with my coffee and cigarettes (I'm not allowed to smoke in the house).

The duck, Lucky (who can see in the dark) had come out of the chicken pen. The chicks (who can't see in the dark) were huddled around Lucky, peeping nervously. They follow Lucky because she's the biggest (I'm assuming Lucky is a she; I have no evidence, either way).

Everybody hovered around outside the chicken pen. Finally, the eastern sky muddied with sunlight just enough I could distinguish the grape-and-slate, stepping-stone clouds from the atmosphere. Chickens began moving. They tend to move together in a flock. But each bird has a seperate agenda, so they seperate into a ever-larger organism.

They sat on the long strips of wood I'm using to frame a roof for the back yard compound, to TRY to keep cats in, so they won't go over into The Crank's yard next door.

Some preened. Others scratched the dirt. Some preened others. Most just sank down on their haunches and dozed.

I got them just after Easter, newly hatched. I have several breeds. I guess they're about three or four months old now.

I have five "mops." They're full-sized birds. Based primarily on their appearances, they're named Tina (Turner); Pearl (cuz it looks like he's wearing white earrings); Fink (cuz her mop is lopsided and she reminds me of a friend named Sue Fink, who had punked-out, moused hair, back in the 80s); Goldie, who's primarily black, with a cape/ruff of long, thin, golden feathers, striped in black; and Fido, who's white, whose mop is dotted with black feathers (guess I should have called him "Spot," but I just wanted a chicken named Fido).

Among the bantams: I have a white, Japanese silkie; her name is Suki. I have a long-tailed, brown speckled Asian chicken (can't remember the breed off hand) named Sake. I have two frizzles: white rooster named Harpo and black hen named Oprah.

Their voices are changing from shrill peeps to cracked but distinguishable clucks.

Several roosters try to crow. For the most part, it's pretty pathetic. Suddenly, somebody will stand erect, stick his head out, cock it at a right angle (it really looks like they've broken their necks, when they do this), and let out the most anemic, breathy, half-hearted wheeze.

They can hear the other roosters in the neighborhood, so they know WHAT to do; they just don't know yet HOW to do it.

But Goldie. Goldie truly cockadoodles. It's not loud, but it's perfectly sincopated, has the right tonal qualities, and carries a BIT of a distance. Fortunately, with the bamboo fencing and tarps that face The Crank's house, I don't think the crow carries over to her. Besides, with so many roosters crowing in the neighborhood, she'll never figure it out.

I'll try to photograph my flock for this blog. They're something to see.

The other roosters seem to have pretty much given up on crowing. Some did it earlier than Goldie, but none do it as well. He's the official homing device for my flock.

It's only when I realized chickens can't see at night that I began to understand the purpose of crowing. The rooster stands up high on something, so he's visible and his voice carries. He gathers the scattered flock from hunting and gathering as sthe sun sets and visibility decreases. Everybody follows his voice to evening perches or cover to sleep.

In early morning, he crows again so that any chickens who didn't gather with the flock the night before can find everybody else for the day.

It's not so much about declaring "this is MY territory," as it is with other birds' calls. It's more about keeping the family together in blindness.

The sun's up high enough for everything to be well lighted now. When I go back out, everybody will be foraging around the yard. Lucky will probably be negotiating whether or not she wants to bathe in the pond.

They're not babies anymore.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

back again

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

I'm getting LOTS of complaints, from loyal readers, that I've disappeared off the face of the earth.

While it's not entirely true, I have neglected blogging for off line adventures.

First, the crank next door.

She complained to City Zoning about our yards, front and back. A few months ago, a guy with a clip board showed up in my driveway, saying, "we've received complaints that your yards are full of trash." I was watering the garden at the time. I looked at him with total frustration, threw up my arms, and shrugged my shoulders.

He blinked and said, "I don't see any trash...."

I explained about some construction materials in the back yard; I'm building an animal kennel. Parenthetically, I'm DOING this, primarily, to shut UP the crank next door, who threatened me (with very salty language), saying she'd start throwing rocks at my cats. Well, I've since discovered it's the cat BEHIND our house who comes into her yard and leaves doody bombs in her flower beds. But it, as is one of mine, is a black cat. They, of course, for multiple and, I suspect, racist reasons, are considered Bad Luck. The Crank is always on the look out for threats to her mausoleum/garden, so a Black Cat must really freak her out.

The guy from the city actually apologized to me for troubling me. Guys from the city don't DO that.

Well, about two months later, my sissy, prissy landlord sashayed his narrow behind into my yard without announing himself, in order to snoop. Seems The Crank had called him, whining about the Hillbilly Holler I'm building on the property, complaining about my ducks and chickens, and generally trying to get me thrown out on my ass and homeless -- again.

He told me "the livestock" would have to go. He told me only one dog and one cat would be permitted.

When I explained he'd caught me in the middle of chores (Obviously fresh-swept piles of dog poo, sitting right next to a trash can, dust pan and broom; items moved from under the new, tin porch roof Ma and I just finished building, etc., Prissy gave me NO slack and said the back yard was...this is a quote...."scary."

He gave me TWO WEEKS...that's all...to find homes for critters and make changes in the yard's appearance.

I promptly got to a big box store and bought a few hundred feet of six foot, bamboo fencing. I contained a good portion of our back yard, off the house. The par

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Are You A Republican?

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

I am:
"You're a complete liberal, utterly without a trace of Republicanism. Your strength is as the strength of ten because your heart is pure. (You hope.)"

Are You A Republican?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


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

I just discovered a reason why I haven't been writing in my blogs much lately. When I first started, I was writing from a webtv: turn it on, log in, type "blogger" into my "goto" function, hit "new post," start writing. It was pretty fast.

Now that I'm using Ma's computer, it's harder. Turn on computer; wait for it to load. Type in password; wait for personal settings to load. Click on NetZero; wait for ridiculous, hiccuping commercial to finish, click on "connect;" click on "favorites;" click on "Rogi;" click on "writing;" click on "blogger dashboard;" click on "hood life;" click on "new post;" write.

EACH of these steps can take upwards of thirty seconds, sometimes more. I'm not too with it, first thing in the morning. One morning, Ma woke me with, "I couldn't sleep, so I put new tires and tubes on your bicycle..." I said, "don't say anything complicated." She loves bicycles, and could spend at least an hour, describing the blow-by-blow details of this procedure. She understood.

But computers don't understand. Sometimes, it's all I can do to sit in this chair and watch that damned hourglass spin, as I wait for this and that to load. It's Ma's computer, so I can't exactly throw a brick through the monitor. So, sometimes, avoidance seems the best tactic.

Oh, sure, I find things to do so I don't have to just sit here and stare: let chickens out, got to bathroom, pour coffee to warm in microwave; feed dogs; water cats; water garden..... I'll do all these, between steps on the computer, as I wait for things to load.

I guess that's multitasking: going on with your REAL life, while you wait for the damned computer to percolate...

The heat wasn't so bad yesterday, not until around 3pm, anyway. I transcribed another Peace Talks for http://paulingles.com Paul Ingles. I puttered with some minor chores.

Ma and I walked to the store for filtered water (they have a vending machine; we have our own, 3 gallon jugs) and assorted groceries. I scored a 99 cent-per-pound brisket. I'll throw half in the crock pot today and freeze the rest. Makes great tacos, taquitos, burritos... But you have to cook it for a loooong time, so it'll fall apart. Otherwise, brisket is meat chewing gum. And floss: it always makes strings that get caught in teeth.

Memorial Day is coming. Ma has the day off. She wants us to go to a movie on bike and scooter. Busses don't run on holidays. We live near the museums, Old Towne (an affected, English spelling of an ancient, Native and Spanish area of the city), the Biological Park, Zoo, Aquarium... lots of touristy things. I've never been to any but the Zoo and the free parts of the museums. I'd kinda like to go. We have a planetarium within walking distance, too; we walk past it on summer evenings all the time.

I had an old bike I'd found in the dumpster, next to my last apartment. The handlebars were crooked; the gear chain had derailed; the tires were flat. Ma fixed it up for me. I think it's actually for little kids. It's a VERY small mountain bike, eighteen speeds. It's in almost-new condition. And, since it's so small, I can dismount without killing myself. Hell, my feet actually tourch the ground.

So, it's her mission in life to fix it up so I can ride bikes with her. Oh, she thinks the scooter's ok, for long trips, but she's absolutely tickled that I might actually ride bicycles with her. No, I don't know why.

But bicycle people are peculiar. It's like a religion. But it's a private religion, for the most part. Yes, I see gangs of spandex people in melon helmets, their skinny hipbones jutting with each peddle, speeding along on weekends. But that's rare. For the most part, I only see individuals riding on errands or to work. Many are alcoholics who've lost drivers' licenses. Many are Mexican and other immigrants, earning minimum wage, just trying to survive. Mostly, the white, middle class people have the religious aspect to bike riding; everybody else is just trying to get to a dead-end job on time.

It's also like a drug addiction. Ma and I went into a bike shop, near the Guild Cinema (we'd seen a double feature Orson Wells, the week after seeing his "The Trial," written by Kafka--which is the story of my life, actually...). Anyway, that bike shop had the damdest wastes of money I ever saw: every contraption you can THINK of to cherry out a bike, a bicyclist, or anything remotely related to bicycles. Ma bought one, little part: a bike seat shim. It cost TEN DOLLARS!!! Paraphenalia.

Ducks and chicks, dogs and cats, gold fish are all fine. When my strength returns, I must line my pond and fill it.

Right now, though, I'm about conserving my strength, keeping my animals and garden alive in this heat, and laying low.

The heat really knocked me off my feet. And, yes, there was a fire in the bosque (Spanish for forest) yesterday. It was small, thank heavens, but still....

I'm sewing some sun dresses for Ma and I. Hers is lime green with lemons printed on the bodice. I got some chickens; I'm making a pinafore from them. I got some cats, too. Haven't decided on those yet... But some new dresses were in order. I guess I could finish the straps and hem on Ma's today. Maybe...

I got the sewing machine working again; it's poorly designed and the thread can wrap itself around one of the take up clips. I finally bypassed the clip. I got the tension properly adjusted. I oiled everything. It's a crappy machine and doesn't do much, but it keeps things sewn up.

So, if the damned thing doesn't drive me bonkers, being finiccy and breaking threads, I'll work on dresses today. Maybe...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


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

Two times, during the year, I'm reminded how far above sea level I'm living.

One is the dead of winter, especially on a cloudless night. I feel only the thinnest veil of atmospheric protection from the infinite, bitter cold of outer space.

The other time is summer, about mid afternoon, when the sun is much too close and much too strong. Plastics disintigrate in a season. Plants struggle for air and water.

We're having a too early, week-long heat wave. It's been over ninety fahrenheit, every day. The evening temperature was dropping enough that my fans could pump in some cool air overnight, which I would trap behind closed windows and doors for the day.

But last night, it never really cooled. The collected heat in the earth radiated out all night. The air was still. I literally whimpered as I tried to go to sleep.

It's dawn now. The thermometer reads over seventy, which is an ideal daytime temperature. But it's not enough to collect inside the house to keep it cooler than the outside air at midday.

It's going to be miserable in here today. And forget working outside.

I'll keep the fans on high speed for a couple of more hours. Then, I'll turn some off, to save electricity. The others will work at minimum, just to stir the air.

The ducks are nearly adults now. The chickens are dwarfed by them. The chickens have their feathers now, but they're only a quarter the size of the ducks.

The ducks have their fat pads, for floating. They feel the heat worse than the chicks do. They pant. They spread their breasts and bellies in any shaded, especially damp, ground.

I water every night. This heat came way too early for my sprouting garden, and for the clover seed I sewed in the front yard. Tiny sprouts struggle, just to stay alive. I shredded old newspaper in my cross cut paper shredder. I sprinkled it on the parts of the garden that are most exposed to the heat. When I water, the paper absorbs the moisture and releases it overnight. It shades tender sprouts. It reflects sunlight. Some mornings, I find the ground still damp until nearly noon.

I need to finish the duck pond soon. I'm drying it out in this miserable and indifferent heat. Then, I'll layer it with old sheet plastic for insulation from sharp rocks, twisted metal, broken glass and other debris in that back yard. I'm planning to line it with a swimming pool cover I bought on eBay.

I've stacked large slabs of our old, concrete driveway. The city subcontracted street renovation. I asked the guy with the jack hammer to save me the slabs. Ma and I dragged the heavy monsters into the back yard. I built lawn chairs, a table, and the base of my pond's waterfall with them.

I'll cover the stacked slabs with plastic, and cover that with pretty, pink flagstones I've collected from the neighborhood. I'll run a swamp cooler pump hose up the stack. The pump will sit in the water, at the base of the "fall."

It should look nice, be a good home for my gold fish, and provide swimming space for the ducks. Digging the hole was miserable, but we loosened the earth with the rototiller we rented, back when it was cold enough I was rototilling in a hail storm.

The heat is taking its toll on me. I'm weak and dizzy. I'm drinking fluids all day, to stave off dehydration (about three litres per day). But when it's this hot, my aging, sickly body just can't cope.

Yesterday, it just gave out. I napped for four hours. It wasn't restful. I battled heat in unconsciousness and woke dripping with sweat and weak.

I only hope the forcast for next week provides some relief.

We had so much spring rain that weeds have grown to outrageous proportions. They'll dry in the heat. A passing car, a thrown cigarette butt, and the whole city could catch fire.

It could be a bad wild fire season, if this week is an indication of the summer to come.

I've let all my ducks and chickens out into the yard for the day. I have fifteen, collectively.

Now, I'll go hoe away some of the piles of dirt from around the pond, so I can lay the plastic and then hoe the dirt back to weigh down the edges.

All I can do is wait for this to pass. But the misery makes patience difficult. I'd kill for an air conditioner.

Monday, May 09, 2005


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

This has been a difficult period of adjustment for me: the idea that I have a stable, safe home that won't disappear overnight, due to the whims of forces I can't negotiate with, let alone control. So much of my life has been devoted to hustling to keep a roof over my head. I've had to placate landlords, dodge crazy neighbors, sell plasma for rent money, guard my place with crowbars and baseball bats, cajole cops who assume I'm suspect because I live in a bad neighborhood.... blah, blah, blah.

I still freak out every month when the landlord comes for the rent. He's a prissy, snotty, negative closet queen. He lives with his mother. He has a chihuahua, which he treats like a fragile jewel. He's a devout catholic. He REAKS of overpowering aftershave. And he's a bimbo. I can barely stand him. And he always has something negative to say. Last month, he sneared because I've planted marigolds. Go figure.

I'm always sure I'll have to pack to move, every time he's coming for the rent. I let Ma deal with him, mostly. The best I'll do is put in a guest appearance, so he'll know I actually live here. Most months, I hide in the back with the sequestered cats, dogs and chickens.

Once the ducks are big enough, there will be no hiding their quacking, of course.

The baby ducks & chicks are doing fine and growing like weeds. Soon, they'll be big enough to let run free. I'm waiting 'til they can't squeeze through chain link.

Anyway, my point is: we've lived here nearly a year now. I'm just now getting my head around the concept that this is my home, that I have every right to be here, that "they" are not going to bust in here at any moment and order me to move on.

Because I'm starting to relax, to trust my security, old traumas are surfacing: crises that demanded my clearest thinking and wit. These were times when I just had to solve the problem of trying to keep myself, my stuff and my animals safe and alive. I couldn't afford the luxury of freaking out, crying, getting angry, being scared, etc.

Now, I'm remembering those times and feeling the emotions. It's pretty difficult, but I figure it's healthy and healing, in the long run: no sense trying to avoid it, anyway; it'd take too much energy.

The same is true of Ma, of course. I'm starting to understand how she ticks, and she I. We still have some rough patches. I often feel cheated of her time and attention; her job drains her something awful.

I'm alone here a lot. When she gets home, I'm full of things to tell her. And she just wants to get her clothes off, throw on a bathrobe and slippers, and veg out in front of the tv.

I don't want to socialize. I don't want to drive around on my scooter. I don't want to expose myself to other people's damage. I want to stay home.

But it means I try to dump all my stuff on Ma, who can barely handle her own stuff.

I'm trying to be patient, both with her and with myself.

I have a very active mind, and a lot of ideas.

Which is why, of course, I should be writing more.

I've been putting in the garden. Last weekend, Ma helped me cut corrugated, metal sheeting into panels and assemble a roof on our back porch/animal kennel. Looks very good. And it's more substantial than the sheet plastic I put up last year.

And I found a game I bought: Speedy Eggbert and Speedy Eggbert II. They were bundled by egames.com for twenty five bucks. Yea, it's a lot of money for a silly game, but I just LOVE it! I come in from working hard outside and try to solve the colorful, noisy puzzles. It's a series of mazes, with booby traps and treasures. Nobody gets killed. There are weapons, of a sort (if you can call glue bombs weapons). But nobody dies -- not even the adversaries. It's cartoonish and clever. I can design my own mazes. And it's challenging for memory, logic and precision skills. I'd buy it for any kid. It must be relatively easy, as I can do it -- with great difficulty. By the time I'll have finished II, I'll have forgotten most of I, and can go back to play it all again.

It's a catharsis, really: my whole life resembles Speedy Eggbert: I'm just trying to go from Point A to Point B, without getting clobbered on the way.....

Anyway, I have a back porch to organize now, and plants to water, and laundry to finish. The sun's finally up, so I'll be starting now.

Y'all have a good day.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

baby day?

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

Well, my order of chicks and ducks was, presumably, mailed out yesterday from a hatchery in Texas. They could be here as soon as this morning. I hope so. Two days without food & water is hard on babies. Whenever they come, I plan to take a water dish and some baby crumbles with me to the post office to pick them up. My postal carrier says he'll try to bring them here, if he can. The PO will call when they arrive. The latest they should be here is tomorrow.

I have a small "chicken shack" built already. The two ducklings and the chick are already in it. They're getting too big already. The duckies are half grown already. The chick already has flight feathers. They'll be moving out in a couple of weeks, I'm thinking.

Been working my tail off in both the front and back yards. I was out front, watering flowerbeds in the driveway, when a guy with a clip board came up to the fence yesterday. Seems the city has had a complaint about "trash, in both the front and back yards." He looked around at all my hard work and said, "but I don't see anything." I explained that I'm working on an animal kennel in the back yard and that there are tools, tarps and lumber back there, but that's only temporary. We finally decided the complaint must be about my container garden (all pots are disguised in tall baskets and I've planted in a wheel barrow and 2 zinc washtubs) and about my compost piles in the back. He was satisfied that I had done nothing wrong, so he made some notes, took down my name and phone number, apologized for troubling me, and started to leave. I thanked him and told him I'm grateful that he was so mellow about it all.

People can see me out there, every day, working all day. The yard's rototilled. I'm climbing ladders, shoveling, raking, hammering....all DAY in the sun! I mean, if there were old car parts or beer cans or fast food wrappers or tall stands of weeds, I could understand. But someone actually narced on me FOR WORKING IN MY YARD?!?!

No, I can't afford a gardener. And I don't have any able-bodied men to help me. And this is HARD work: man's work, I'm doing.

I'm so mad, I can't see straight!

If you see a decrepit, old lady, huffing and puffing in her yard all day, OFFER TO HELP HER! DON'T call the CITY on her! ...and I bet they think they're "christians!"

bite me!

So, my tarps came last night, via UPS. I can cover the chicken/duck house I've built out back. I can begin covering the roof over the back porch. I can line my pond, once I'm done digging it out (I'm pretty close, but it rained on the loose soil in the bottom, and I've been letting it dry before I try to haul it out of the hole.

I'm ready to plant the back garden now, soon's I have time.

Well, sun's up. I should be heading out there....

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


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

While the yuppies fret over their fancy dinner parties, someone at the SF Chronicle wrote something cathartic. I wish it were true, not just humor.

I posted it here http://dailyrogi.blogspot.com/2005_04_01_dailyrogi_archive.html#111331097853276901

I have reservations about posting it, as military and "intelligence" bots sniff my blogs for signs of validation for the Homeland Insecurity paranoia. I could be in deep doo doo for posting this, y'know.

But I've been a Unitarian for a long time. And, except for the ridiculously improbable names of the brothers & sisters portrayed, find it quite plausable that a group within the UUA could cook up an activist group such as the one described.

More likely, they're forming committees to decide whether to donate funds to relief organizations. Anything to keep one's hands clean and one's arms distance the closest encounter.

Which is why I'm not an active UU. Well, I'm an active UU. But I'm not involved with any congregations/fellowships.

The sun's bright this morning. My first daffodil will probably bloom today. The pond's almost dug out. I've removed the old, torn plastic sheeting from the chicken wire enclosure I made off the back porch. I'm waiting for my tarps to arrive so I can fashion new waterproofing, both for the roof and for the pond, which is nearly done enough to fill.

The baby ducks are almost half grown. The chick, who is a Polish Mop, has silly tufts of feathers sprouting from her head. The other babies will be shipped from Texas tomorrow, and the postal carrier has been alerted to their arrival. He'll TRY to bring them, but the USPS may be calling me to come pick them up. He told me where I'll be going to get them. It's not far. And the scooter's all gassed up & the carb's adjusted for warmer, spring weather.

In a couple of weeks, the whole back yard will be planted.

About my teeth: several people have emailed me, suggesting dental colleges. The local university has none. My only option is a clinic, at $25 per visit. I'm screwing up the courage to go this month. Plus, I'm awaiting my payment for the Kicked Out Queers broadcast, to pay for the visits. I have to go this month, before that payment appears, and they actually think I earn a lot more money than I do.

It's warm now. A six am ride on the scooter won't be as uncomfortable as it would have been a month ago. I have to be at the clinic that early. At least, the first time.


I don't know how people are supposed to get there, if they don't have cars, etc. No busses run there at six in the morning. I'm lucky I live relatively close by and have the scooter.

My food stamps were halved this month, for no reason. So I'll have to call, go in, straighten that all out. Can't afford to lose my medicaid for a red tape reason.

Well, Ma has the tv on in my room, listening for weather reports. I guess it's safe to start breakfast now.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

dying of neglect

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

Ma & I are making noises about going down to Mexico, so I can get my teeth fixed. 'course, the Dept. of Homeland (in)security is going to make that harder soon; I'll need a passport to get back into the US. jees.

Medicaid no longer pays for prescriptions. This surprises me, as the pharmacy lobbies in this country are very powerful and make good bucks off of us.

Ma sent me this article:

Life Without Health Insurance Gets Costly
Wed Apr 6, 8:41 PM ET Health - AP
By MICHAEL P. REGAN, AP Business Writer
NEW YORK - When Arnaud Durieux needed to get his teeth fixed about six
months ago, the freelance Web designer caught a flight from New York to his
native France.Since he has no health or dental insurance, he figured this was his best
option to get good care at a good price, even factoring in the cost of the
airplane ticket. The French dentist charged him about $500 for the crown,
compared with the $2,000 he says it would have cost him in New York.

"I usually go back (to France) about once a year. So while I'm there I get
my medical checkup and any dental work I need," said the 37-year-old
Durieux. "It's still cheaper for me to get all that work done in France than
getting insurance here and doing it the American way. It's unfortunate, but
that's how it is."

Durieux's is one of many unique strategies that the 45 million uninsured
people in the United States employ in an attempt to keep themselves healthy
without going broke, as medical and health insurance costs have soared in
recent years.

Premiums for family coverage in employer-sponsored plans rose 59 percent
between 2001 and 2004, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, compared
with a 9.7 percent growth in consumer prices.

The escalating costs are expected to keep the ranks of the uninsured growing
for years to come. A study by researchers at the University of California,
San Diego, published Tuesday by the policy journal Health Affairs, predicts
that 56 million people in the U.S. — more than one in four American
workers — will be uninsured by 2013.

For many younger people who are uninsured, the good health that usually
comes with youth makes the risks tolerable. But as middle-age and the aches
and pains that come with it encroach, so do fears of huge medical bills from
a catastrophic illness or accident.

"It worries me all the time. It doesn't settle well with me," said C.J.
Holm, a 42-year-old New York woman who is looking for a part-time job that
offers health benefits until her new catering business brings in enough
money for her to afford coverage.

She beat ovarian cancer in the 1980s — but has had to skip regular checkups
because she can't afford them."When I think about it, I feel really guilty," she says.

For Nancy Twigg, a 38-year-old author and newsletter publisher in Knoxville,
Tenn., being uninsured means looking up her symptoms on the Internet when
she gets sick, peppering friends who are nurses and pharmacists with
questions, and treating whatever she can with over-the-counter medicines.

If disaster strikes, she has faith she'll be covered by a service called
Samaritan Ministries, a group of Christians who send money each month to
members of the network with high medical bills.

"We are happy to know that it goes to a family in need, rather than a large
insurance corporation," she said.

When doctor's visits become unavoidable, she has found a doctor who offers a
discount to self-pay patients and recently gave her $1,000 worth of drug
samples to treat a case of shingles.

"Had she not done this, I would have just had to tough it out," she says.

Such toughing it out is an all-too-common phenomenon for people with no
insurance, according to Stuart Schear, director of next month's Cover the
Uninsured Week campaign, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Research shows that uninsured people usually put off care for as long as
possible, Schear said.

"If they are having a health problem, they try to see
if they can wait it out. Often that is to their detriment," he said.

"It's estimated that nearly 18,000 people in the U.S. probably die each year
because they do not have health coverage," he said.

Experts say most of the uninsured population is composed of people whose
employers don't offer benefits, but who make too much money to be covered by
public-health programs and not enough to afford their own coverage.

High medical bills are the second-leading cause of personal bankruptcy,
Schear said.

Yet there is a significant number who simply gamble they won't incur medical
bills high enough to justify the soaring costs of insurance.

Paul Keckley, a health-care economist and director of the Vanderbilt Center
for Evidence Based Medicine, says research shows this group of gamblers is
about 15 percent to 18 percent of the uninsured population and is definitelygrowing.

For some, "I think there's maybe a suspicion that modern medicine, quote
unquote, is like modern food: There's a whole lot of chemistry and
technology involved and if you can get natural in your approach, perhaps
you're better off," he said.

He said other people for the most part are structuring their own benefits.

"Some will tell you 'I think I can negotiate directly with the doctor or
hospital and get a better deal.'"

That's how Bonnie Russell, a legal publicist in San Diego, looks at it.

"You gotta look at this stuff pragmatically," she says. "I knew that when I
was younger I would be betting against myself. That's what insurance is
about, betting against yourself."

But after being diagnosed with skin cancer recently and paying for the
treatment herself, she said she had "one of those gut-check feelings" and
was looking into insurance policies.

"After I got this I thought that, as time marches on, you gotta rethink it,"
she said. "But I had a good run."


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

Go over to http://rriverstoneradio.blogspot.com/ and read my comments. I'm just sick.

Monday, April 04, 2005

time change

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

Well, I was confused, yesterday morning, when it wasn't light out at 5am. Took me awhile to get oriented.

We tried leaving the dogs out for the night last night. I dragged their dog house, with blanket inside, around to the front porch and had them get in, so they'd know it was there.

At three this morning, Porkchop was barking, running from the very back fence all the way up to the front gate. I finally pried myself out of bed to shut him up. Taz was sleeping meekly on the hassock by my bed. She'd pushed her way through the chicken yard gate to come in through the dog door.

I figure Porky found himself alone and got nervous. So he was barking at any sounds, trying to scare away monsters.

I went out and barely mumbled, "Porky!" He came immediately. So, he's sleeping on the dog mattress, beside Taz on the hassock.

Not bad, for a first night in the wilds of Old Towne.

But I can't go back to sleep. And Ma needs all the rest she can get; this week's going to be all-consuming, at her job.

My job is to keep her fed, with packed lunches and hearty breakfasts. It's also my job to keep her in clean clothes. At home, her entire time will be consumed with recovering from -- and resting up for -- work.

She'll have next weekend off, but will need to sleep for a good part of Saturday. Sunday, she'll be preparing her taxes.

So, I'm on my own this week. I'll be responsible for all the household chores. And there's the garden planting, of course.

And the pond: it still needs the loose soil dug out and shaped. I'm thinking I could use one of my large tarps as a pond liner. I was going to use sheet plastic, but the UV will rot it quickly under water. So, I'll use the plastic as a liner with a tarp on top.

When the tarps come, I'll also need to climb up on the back porch roof and attach those. But I'm sure as hell not doing that unless someone's here to haul my broken butt to the emergency room, if I fall off the roof. Jees...

Most of the front yard is planted. I have two yard-square patches, on either side of the sour cherry tree I planted in front of our living room window. I can't afford to buy bamboo, which is Ma's preference, based on previous discussions. So, I'm planting an ornamental, red corn I have. It's one of those miniature corns they sell for Thanksgiving. I'm growing minipumpkins out there, so why not, right?

Today, I'll probably start around the perimater of the back yard. I want the entire garden lined with marigolds, to ward off bugs. And I'm planting tall stuff: amaranth and sunflowers for gourds to climb. It'l help keep wind down and dust out. And it'll hide us from the neighbors better. Or hide them from us?

I want to start planting the real vegie/herb spaces (apx. 40 sq. ft.) in about a week. That way, by the time the baby poultry is out there (about sixty days), the seedlings will be too tall or big to eat. I want my poultry to run in the garden. They can bug there and the poop is fertilizer. Plus, ducks are really good at eating weed seedlings.

I'm leaving a large patch of wild, volunteer grasses. The grass grows nearly a foot tall and is great for poultry to sleep in during the day. They'll feel sheltered. And it's cooling on those hot river rocks everybody out here seems to think makes good ground cover. It's actually very hot and hard to weed. I'm covering every inch of that damned gravel I can. That's why I planted melon/pumpkin mounds out front: the vines will umbrella those hot rocks that heat the house all summer. That's also why I want to plant tall plants around sun-exposed walls: keep the heat out.

I made a batch of blueberry icecream last night, with Ma's help. I got a freezer on eBay. I'll churn it today. Smells really good.

I also cooked a cheap pork butt roast yesterday. I'm thinking pork tacos. I'm also thinking pulled pork barbeque.

My main goals this week, beyond chores and yardwork, are to not kill Ma for being thick-headed from fatigue. It's going to be like living with a person with dementia. The Ma I love and remember will be overlaid with exhaustion and won't be thinking right. It'll be frustrating. She won't hear half of what I say and won't understand most of it, when she does. I take it personally when I think people aren't listening to me. She won't be able to listen.

My food stamps will be here in about 5 days. I'm looking forward to a grocery marathon at the cheap grocer's. I've pretty much given up on our local grocery: meat's horribly over priced and poor quality; they never mark down produce, dairy or bakery. The selection's poor. They're fine for a few things, but it's worth my while to scooter to that discount place.

Cats are out in the mild darkness. I'm about to pour my second cuppa and sit on the porch to watch them sneak around the garden like spies. I think they like the adrenaline rush of pretending they're getting away with something.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


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

Well, I planted a twenty five foot bed, next to the neighbor's wall. I don't like her, peeking out her window blinds at me. So, I'm growing ten foot tall amaranth, eight foot tall sunflowers and morning glory vines & gourds, to climb the tall stuff. I also sewed some marigold seeds in the bed.

I moved my planters out to the driveway. My neighbor's devil grass is taking it over. I already rototilled, lightly, over the area, to loosen most of the roots. I raked it out. I covered it with black sheet plastic, to kill the remaining roots. I'm disguising, and weighing down the plastic, with my planters. In a year or two, the devil grass ought to have died.

I built a "chicken shack," for my baby birds. I had a large, wooden packing crate I was using as a brooder, but it's a little small for the babies to walk around in. They need to exercise a lot, or they'll get spraddle legged. I turned it on its side and nailed a plywood "porch" to the front. I nailed an old dog blanket around it for insulation, covered with a sheet of plastic. I built a chicken wire and wood frame to front the box, like a little porch. It has no bottom, but has a chicken wire and plexiglass "roof." Their water is out there, away from where they sleep. They're out back, in my chicken yard, in the straw. I keep them warm with an old waterbed heater, which has a thermostat, sprinkled with hay, in the back, bottom of the box. They also have a red flood light I bought cheap after xmas one year. I put their crumbles food inside a cat food dispenser, so they can't get it too dirty. They're comfortable back there. My next order of poultry chicks is scheduled to be sent out on April 13th. So, by the 15th, they ought to have lots of company in there.

I'm getting a lot done, but I always have the nagging feeling of so much more to do. I haven't begun to plant the back yard yet; it's too early. I'll wait 'til after April 15th, the frost danger deadline.'

I've ordered a BUNCH of plastic tarps off eBay. Theyr'e pretty big: 10x10 and 5x7. The smaller ones will cover the back porch I built. There are ten of those. I'll also use them to cover our outdoor tent area, where I'll be barbecuing. The bigger ones, I'll use to construct a larger storage and sitting area. And I can use one to cover Ma's car in the driveway. They'll last a couple of years or so. The sun eats everything here. And what the sun doesn't rot, the winds tear up. So, I know they're not permanent, but they're going to help a lot. I want all my gardening, bicycles, tools, etc. covered, protected and out of the neighbors' sight. And I want shade: for people and pets.

It's nice to have a budget. True, all those tarps, sixteen or so, only cost me about forty dollars, but, a year ago, it might as well have been four thousand. I just couldn't have justified the expense.

My tools have rusted from exposure to weather. I keep them oiled, but there's only so much one can do without a shed or garage.

So, tarps aren't a luxury to me.

I haven't been writing, because of the Bed Crisis. The mattress pad came undone. I pulled it out from under the bottom sheet. But the springs poked me in the hips and I couldn't sleep. So, I moved out to the living room and slept on the futon couch I assembled. Ma slept in her room, which is where the good computer is: the one I use to write blogs, etc. I get up too early and would have woken her, writing. I get so busy during the day, I don't want to stop to write.

The bedding's washed, the featherbed is on top of the mattress, and clean linens are on. So, we're back to sleeping in my room, together. She's asleep, so I can write.

I'm going to have a yard sale soon. Probably in a month. I often buy stuff in "lots" on eBay, so we have extra curlers, sun hats, lipsticks, etc. And we both have stuff we don't need that we can sell.

But, first, I want my garden in. I figure, if I do about twenty feet by two feet, per day, I'll have it done in about two, three weeks.

We have lots of rain barrels. And we flush the toilet with our collected shower water. So our water bill for the garden shouldn't scare the landlord. I even flush the laundry water into the garden.

And, in about 2 months, the back yard will be full of young poultry, including about six ducks with their own pond. It'll be nice. The garden will be grown enough that the chicks and ducks won't eat the seedlings. There will be shade. It'l be quite pleasant, I hope.

I guess that's about it for this post.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

yard work

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

I got on my scooter yesterday, hunting for marked-down Easter candy. No luck. I did find some towels for the kitchen cheap; they don't look like easter, but were labeled that way and so marked down.

I went to our local pet store. In the past, they had colored chicks during Easter. I was hoping they might have some marked down. Nope.

Well, I got really brave, screwed up my courage, and took off down Isleta Blvd, deep into the south valley, all the way past Rio Bravo, to a bait and feed store I know. I got two Pekin ducklings, colored pink. I also got a Polish mop chick.

On the way back, chicks in a paper sack with holes punched that I put in the plastic bag hanging from my handlebars, my chain popped off. Pretty scary: I thought it was broken, at first. I fixed it, worrying about the babies who might be too cold or thirsty.

I made it home, driving hell bent for leather: faster than I normally do. The bumps and vibrations hurt my feet and lower legs something awful.

I got the chicks in. They live in a wooden crate, lined with sheet plastic and an old dog blanket. I have a water bed heating pad on the bottom, covered with metal grates. I rested a plastic box over this, sprinkled shredded paper, added food and water. It was a bit too warm, at first. But I finally got the temp. below ninty five degrees and all are well.

I take them out so they can nuzzle me and imprint on me. The ducks bite my lips, ears and eyelids. The chick just snuggles. She's only a couple of days old; the ducks are a week, today. They're stronger than she.

Antonio, our neighbor across the street, got a new drier. His old one's timer is broken. Since his kids do the laundry, they often forget to shut it off. Ma and I dragged it over here last night. I'm removing a table and stuff I had sitting next to my washer on the back porch. I'll put the drier there.

I'm also looking through the crates and bottles of seeds I was storing under the table. That's this year's garden, if I can remember what everything is. I probably won't. Often, I sew seeds with no idea what they might be. I'm always pleasantly surprised by what takes off.

I gather seeds while I'm out walking or scooting. I bring them home in my purse, wrapped in whatever works. Often, I have seeds all over my back packs, fanny packs and other bags. I tuck them in the crates with the other seeds all winter. By spring, I have no recollection of what I got and from where.

I'm working on the part of the yard I've enclosed in chicken wire, an attempt to keep Grace from throwing rocks at any of my cats which might go in her yard. It's gotten cluttered and disorganized over winter, as I just set things outside, but found it too cold or wet to really do anything beyond the basics. So, things need straightening. It's a nice space, when it's not disorganized. I'm finding the damage minimal. I should have it together in a day or two.

Of course, I just heard wind howling outside. The sky's dark now. It could rain. That would mess up my plans.

As long as the drier's in, out of sight, and I rake up some dog poop and bring in some laundry on the line, I'll have a good start. There's laundry in the machine to do. Ma's running out of work clothes and is wearing the oddest outfits. I'll have to take care of that. I'm the only one who can work our stubborn, beat up washer.

Ducklings are peeping; they're awake now.

I'm tired and hurting from the rototiller still. But, in a few weeks everything will be ready for planting. It already is, but I'm waiting til after April 15, when the danger of frost is, presumably, over. I'll sew some frost resistant stuff sooner, of course.

It'll be nice, having a drier for bad weather days when the clothesline is a problem. And it'll help with lint on towels and blankets. Other than that, I could continue living without it. Seems stupid, having a clothes drier in New Mexico. There is NO humidity, most of the time. Clothes can dry in minutes in the sun.

Well, Ma will be up soon. There'll be breakfast to make. And I need to lug the drier in as soon as she wakes. Don't want to wake her now.

If the sun comes out this afternoon, I'll let the ducks and chick come outside for awhile. I turn a laundry basket over them in the yard. They can paddle in the pet drinking bowl, chase bugs, nibble grass, eat gravel. It's good for them, in small doses. Ducklings can drown as long as they still have down. They get water logged and sink. But the pet drinking thing has rocks in the bottom; they can touch their feet to them, stand and hop out.

It'll be nice, having a duck pond, when the little varments are feathery enough to swim unattended....

Monday, March 28, 2005

glorious morning

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

Well, sunrise was marked by a fat, waning moon which drifted through a turquoise sky and tangerine mists.

The whole yard's dug up with the rototiller. I have a "truck" garden patch that's about twenty five feet square, at the back, west corner of the property. I have a triangle, apx. 12 feet, on the opposite corner, for ornamentals. Ma dug my pond. It's horseshoe shaped, apx ten feet long, three feet wide and about two to three feet deep.

We dug flowerbeds along the driveway: against the house, to shade it from summer sun and against the neighbor's wall, because it freaks me out to see her staring through her blinds at me when I'm sitting on the porch, smoking a cigarette. So, I'll be planting sunflowers, gourds, morning glory vines and anything else tall enough to block the view from her windows.

I also dug along her fence, in the front driveway. Her devil grass has taken over almost half the driveway there. I'll rake it out as best I can and cover it with sheet plastic, weighted down with lumber and tubs of plants.

We worked in spitting snow, hail and rain Saturday. Paul came by for a couple of hours. I fed him steak and baked potato. We were mostly done by then; we had little to do yesterday. Paul and Ma dug flowerbeds in the front yard, too, plus two pumpkin/squash mounds. I want to cover the rocks out there with umbrella leaves. The rocks heat quickly, and all day. The heat transfers to the living room wall and makes it uncomfortable all night. We're either planting bamboo or sunflowers against that wall, to shade its southern exposure.

My neighbor, Robert, gave me three sour cherry seedlings that volunteered in his yard. They're just about ready to bloom. I've planted them around the front yard, too.

I'm sore and tired, of course. Wrestling a rototiller around that hard, rock infested mess was a real job. But, I figure: two days of intense pain is worth not having to hand till and weed that mess all summer.

I got drunk yesterday afternoon. I got a deal on Corona beer; we had limes from the marguritas I made for the writer and his wife. I even threw back two shots of Cuervo. Ick!

I put on my witch's hat, with the grey wig, and sat on the porch in my satin night gown and red, terry bathrobe. Ma thought I was quite amusing. I'll try to find the jpeg and post it here.

Stu's talking about coming next weekend, with plant starts and some compost, to help me plant. I'm going ahead with the "spite fence" this week. Sunflowers can stand frost. I'll go ahead and plant them, the amaranth and a few, other things.

We started the day with a scooter and bicycle trip to Rowland's Nursery. I got some pansies, some lobelia, and a pretty, lavender daisy-like thing Ma liked. We also got heirloom yellow pear tomato seeds and some interestingly-shaped radish.

We moved on to Walgreen's for Ma's vitamins and a brace for her wrist; she pretty much hurt herself with the tiller, and it's hard for her to ride her bike without wrist braces.

Then, we hit the cheap grocery by the river. I got some real, rib eye steaks for supper.

We came home and started digging. I loaned the tiller to the next door neighbors when I finished. They've been really nice to us, as has the guy across the street. He helped pick up and will drop off the tiller.

I served just the steaks for supper, with horseradish and sour cream. Just perfect!

I collapsed into bed early and slept fitfully. The muscle and joint soreness was, of course, exascerbated by the oxygen deprivation from alcohol. Middle of the night, I finally got up to hunt down b-complex and some asprins.

Now, I'm fine. Tender, weak but fine.

All the weeds are gone. The rocks are in piles in the yard and will decorate the pond. We still need to scrape out the loose dirt there with the hoe and shovels.

I'll have the pond ready before the ducklings lose their down and can safely swim in it. And my gold fish will be thrilled...if you can thrill a gold fish...

Very satisfying, all in all. Shows you how secure and safe I feel: I could let down my guard and get snockered, for the first time in a long time. I really got to celebrate our home, the spring, our relationship, the hopefulness of planning our lives together...

All my planters have flowers in them now. It is already looking quite lovely out there.

Here's the jpeg. As you can see, that front tooth finally fell out.


Friday, March 25, 2005


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

Well, if it just drizzles for a few hours this morning, then quits, I should be OK with the rototiller. 'course, if the back yard turns to mud soup, it'll be challenging...

It's 4:30am. Porky and I have been out on the front porch already, having a cigarette and coffee. It's a gentle rain, barely wetting the concrete on the porch step.

All the weeds are chopped. Ma and I did it by hand, using the neighbor's hoe as a scythe. I've raked most up and have them drying in the driveway, so I can seperate out the large rocks for landscaping around the pond I'm building.

Some parts of the yard can't be tilled: there are just too many large rocks. But these areas are small. One is a slight mound. I'll put a table and chairs out there, facing the pond. There are natural paths, too.

So, I'll work with the land as it is, rather than try to force it to be as I want. Wherever grasses and weeds have grown well, I'll plant. Barren ground will stay that way.

I was laughing: as I chopped weeds yesterday, I heard neighbors' weed eaters in other yards. All that wasted gasoline and electricity! And, later, they'd be complaining that they never have time to go to the gym to work out.

Now, don't get me wrong: it's hard work and my arms are sore. But it's meditative work. It's wholesome. Weed eaters are so loud and obnoxious, they're more like an assault than a garden chore. You can't think! Your arms buzz and your head rattles. A hoe just whispers and swishes through the weeds, occasionally chiming against a rock.

Even with all their lawn equipment, my neighbor's yards are, for the most part, more overgrown than ours. Interesting.

I'm starting to get excited now. I can visualize the corn over there and the gourds in that tree and the ducks in that tall grass and marigolds.

It'll be fun to have dinner guests sitting out there. And the cats will love having a shady jungle; they'll never want to hop the fence to poop in Grace's funeral home yard.

I can imagine the bees and wasps and lady bugs and mantis.....

There's a sense of real satisfaction from being self sufficient. It's a pleasure to gather eggs in the yard. Feels good to take a load of sweet smelling cloths off the line.

I have a juicer, I found in someone's garbage. Ma drinks fruit juices every day. It's nice to make it for her. I use the pulps in other cooking, too.

Ma had some guests over the other day. He wrote a play she's working on and his wife is a retired teacher, as is he. I made "Navajo" tacos. I made everything from scratch. Since Ma isn't supposed to eat wheat, I made the fry bread with reduced wheat (you need only enough gluten for it to swell like a balloon in hot oil) and spelt flour. I cooked a cheap chuck roast, marinated in beer, cumin and cilantro. We made pico de gallo (a form of raw salsa, made of tomatoes, onions, garlic, lime juice, jalepeno peppers and cilantro) and guacamole (basically the same, but with avacado). I made a bastardized tortilla soup/posole (pork/hominy stew).

I even made flan, Mexican almond custard, covered in caramel sauce. I accented it with dried: rose petals, lavendar, safflower and sprinkled it with almonds. Now, THAT was GOOD!

Those guests are STILL raving about the "feast" they had here! I even served marguritas. Oh, they were tickled! They said it was the best meal they had while they were here.

I almost killed Ma as I made the meal: she's slower than I am at chores. She's a bit clumsy. And her head is so full of details about her job, she can't retain new details about preparing a dinner party. I began to understand why Martha Stewart is characterized as a perfectionistic bitch. It has to be done RIGHT! And one has to be able to count on one's staff to do their jobs...

Well, although we left each other that morning, exasperated and grumpy, by the time Ma brought the guests home on the bus and I met them in the street, the meal was fabulous and waiting cheerfully for them.

I, of course, was tired. Yet, I charmed the pants off of them, even Ma. And, after they all left, I even put the food away and washed all the dishes.

I just wanted everything RIGHT, y'know? I burned a steak and a roast and made 2 experimental flans that came out horrible in the process, but that's just extra pet food in a situation like that...

The writer asked me how many days it had taken to prepare it. I replied honestly: it had taken 3 days. He said, if I do this on an ordinary occasion, what on earth do I do for Thanksgiving and Christmas? I grinned.

Even though I spent them alone here this year, I still cooked a spread. I go all out, when good foods are marked cheap during the holidays.

Well, it's almost 5am. I want more coffee and another cigarette. Should be light soon. Hope the rain slacks off. I still have weeds and rocks to rake up; it'd be easier if they weren't wet.

My arms are sore....