Poverty Is Not an Accident

Poverty Is Not an Accident
Nelson Mandela

Thursday, April 14, 2005

baby day?

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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


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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

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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."


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

Monday, April 04, 2005

time change

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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


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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.