Thursday, February 28, 2013


Fancy names confuse me. Au jus always sounded silly to me. Just say some meat juice on the side. Bucolic is another word that makes me laugh. Just call it a pretty countryside.

Sequester is another word that has entered into my vocabulary and mind lately. Originally a legal term, it refers to the act of valuable property being taken into custody by an agent of the court and locked away for safekeeping. What it refers to as of late, are automatic spending cuts. Sequester sounds better than stating what it actually is. Cuts. And here, in my house, this will be a big deal.

My husband will be furloughed from his job. Another fancy word. Furlough. It sounds like your going somewhere. And really, you are. Just not to your job. He will lose a day of work once a week. That's four days a month he wont be paid for, which equals a lot. Food, gas. I would say that will surely take a hit. I like the actual definition for the word. "Leave of absence, esp. that granted to a member of the armed service" Granted??

What do these spending cuts mean outside of my house? Well, fellow Pennsylvanians, hold onto your seats. Here is the Cliff note version of what very well may go down for all of us.

If, and that's a tricky word, because let's face it, Congress will probably not get it together for the good of it's citizens, if the sequestrian were to take effect, here are just a few examples of who and what will feel the impact, this year alone.

Teachers and schools. (Always the first to go, I mean why not, right?) PA will lose around $21.4 million in funding for primary and secondary education. That translates into teachers, and aides jobs being at risk, and 29,000 fewer students being served and about 90 fewer schools being funded. Children with disabilities...eeks. They will feel it too. Funding will be cut for them, resulting in less teachers and aids who help them. Head start would be eliminated. Eliminated for about 2,300 children. Yeah, sorry kids. No more school for you.

Protection for clean air and clean water. How 'bout that! I mean, who needs clean air and water, right?

Military readiness is the doozy that will effect my family, aside from the teacher, school thingy, and water and air risk. 26,000 civilian Department of Defense employees will be granted that furlough. I am sure they are all excited about this. I know we can just sacrifice some pay. (that would have been written in sarcastic font if there was such a thing)

Oh enforcement and public safety...they are going to lose some funds. That shouldn't be a big deal, right? Job training, Child care, Vaccines for kids, STOP violence against women program, Nutrition Assistant for Seniors, I mean cutting food assistance for older people seems logical to put on the chopping block, as well as Food safety. Yes! Food safety! 2,100 fewer food inspections could occur. I guess I'll skip the au jus.

Cuts to mental health in the form of leaving 373,000 seriously mentally ill adults and emotionally disturbed children could go untreated, but who's counting? FBI and customs, border patrol, aviation safety, Emergency responders, FEMA,medical research programs, small business assistance, Veteran services, Special Education, WIC, Homeless programs...the list goes on and on.  All on the chopping block. Be it cuts, or reduction in funding. Who needs WIC? It stands to reason that women, infants, and children should be expected to do without. All 600,000 of them. And lets not even mention the job loss. All of these programs have grease in the wheels. They will go if the wheel stops turning.

BUT! Here's the but. It's a big one! You ready? Loopholes will not be closed. Loopholes for the well off and the well connected. For hedge fund managers. Oil companies. Corporate jet owners. They are all going to be OK. I know you probably were getting concerned after seeing all that is on the chopping block as of 11:59 tonight. But rest assured. The well off, the top earners in this country, are going to be just fine.

It won't even be a bump on the bucolic road for 'em.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Apron strings

I attempted to work in a restaurant when I was in my 20's. OK, my late 20's. I had reached the point of a sort of crossroad in my life. One too many nights eating Captain Crunch in my bed alone for dinner, in my NYC apartment made me fearful of a future alone. The city is a hard place to live some days, and I was getting to the age of not being able to recover as quickly from late night partying, and carrying on. I actually went to bed at decent times, in anticipation of my work day. I was in a rut, and decided to cast it all aside, and head out to the beach for the summer, and sublet my apartment. I felt that if things were going to change in my life, I had to shake it up a bit.

My friend was managing a restaurant in Southampton, and gave me a job. I had no experience. Just a tremendous amount of retail management, which I assumed would translate seamlessly into being a great waitress. One of my first brunches, as I took a tables order, the man at the table behind me pulled on my apron string, and said, "Doll...get us the maple syrup". When I didn't respond quick enough for him, he did it again...this time..harder, and dropped the "Doll".

 I knew at that moment, I wasn't cut out for waiting tables, and so did my friend, the manager. I was quickly put upstairs, into an office, where I sat over piles of bills from liquor distributors, and stared at Excel spreadsheets, until my eyes blurred.

My stint in the restaurant world was short lived, as I was quickly recruited to manage another high end store, and did so for a few more years to come, until I married, and had my first baby. I literally worked up until my first labor pains, and looking back, I could really kick myself in the shin. Why the heck didn't I take a week or two off before delivering?  Did I not know I would never have a peaceful moment to myself EVER again??

So, fast forward a decade. My late twenties are a distant memory. Here I am at 41 (gulp) three kids later, and struggling, like lots of us are. My husband and I both work hard, and yet have nothing to show for it. When my friend suggested waiting tables, the man tugging on my apron string quickly flashed in my mind. Could I? Would I be able to? Would people laugh at me? I was never insecure in my twenties. But here I am, a whole lot smarter, yet feeling not so adequate.

I read something a few years back. It was an essay and I wish I could recall the author, but it was suggestions for a good life. One of them was to learn how to waitress. You will always work, it said, wherever you go. So I put my fears aside, and have given it a try.

 And you know, I learned something about myself. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Here I am, working with all these perky twenty somethings, and trying not to screw up too badly, which, trust me, I have...that computer system...ugh!...but I actually look forward to the nights I work at the Glen Brook Golf Club.

 I like talking to people, other than my kids. I like when it is busy, and I leave tired, and so very ready for bed, but knowing I have money in my pocket. I like not panicking when Charlotte lost a tooth last week, and I actually had singles for the tooth fairy. I liked saying yes to signing up my girl for softball, because the fee was a little more in reach this year, than it was last year. I like bills being paid, and not being afraid we will go without, because I have a couple of extra bucks to cover gas, and groceries.

Sometimes, life takes some funny turns. It doesn't always go as you had planned, but that can be a good thing, and really keeps things interesting. Sometimes, you have to shake it up a bit.

 Just don't tug on my apron strings.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

That voice inside of you that tells you it isn't right. It knows. It isn't right.

The feeling in your gut that something isn't as it seems. It isn't.

The doubt you feel, the questions you have, the sheer feeling of are correct.

Never silence that small voice. It is right.

 Every time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hurry up Spring

In a fit of frustration over snowfall, last week, I marched out of the house in my snow boots, and hacked off some forsythia branches that line my property. The girls were all home from school, yet again, because of the weather. I am longing for warmer weather. Literally yearning. When I came back in the house with my arms filled with branches, Olivia smiled and said how she loves that I force the buds to open every winter. She adores a little bit of Spring in the house.

 Grape hyacinth bulbs in a mason jar on the kitchen table have also added a bit of desperately needed color. So have the daffodils that David brought home for me, for Valentines Day. I dislike roses. They are pretty, but not my thing. Bring me daffodils, or daisies, and you have my heart. David knows this, after many years together, and always gets it right.

Even Molly is sick of the snow. Sick of the cold. Sick of bundling up. She gets herself dressed, proudly, every day, and as of late, she keeps putting on bathing suits. Yesterday, she came out in her cherry one piece. The other day, it was her monkey bikini. She keeps asking if today is summer. Ugh..I wish it was baby. 

The dry air in the house is killing my nose. And the sound of the heat, running, makes me stressed. I just want it off for the season, and the windows open. I know it won't be much longer, and last winter, we really were spoiled around here, but some days, the winter seems to drag on and on. Heavy sweaters, and one too many dinners including gravy makes me dream of days outside, grilling, and sitting in the warm sun. Sleeping with the windows open. Listening to my windchimes.

So, we wait patiently for the first signs of Spring. Molly asked me if the trees were going to get their leaves back. She was worried about them. I assured her that they always do. Every year. And the birds come back, and all of the bugs, and our sweet little chipmunks too. Our pretty daffodil bulbs that I planted so long ago, have begun pushing out of the soil, beneath the snow, as we speak. 

We can't see them yet, but soon enough they will be here. 

Soon enough.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

First shots

I am determined to teach myself to master my new Digital SLR camera. It was given to me. Someone GAVE it to me. Never would I have been able to afford such a camera.

 I am so very grateful.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What's in a number?

Did you know that a full time worker, making minimum wage, which is $7.25, is paid $14,500 a year? Did you know that to raise a family of four above the poverty line, it takes an annual salary of $23,550?

That is a sobering number, considering so many of the so called "lazy" people on welfare, and using food stamps, are actually, working. Full time to boot, or at least close to that, so their employers don't have to offer them healthcare. 

Here is another interesting fact. There are 40 states in the U.S., where welfare pays better than minimum wage. How about that! Here is another good one. Welfare pays more than the average salary of a U.S. teacher in 9 states! 9!! That almost seems unacceptable to me. It should to you. 

Here is the thing. The total number of Americans on welfare, is 4,300,000. This is a big number. I kind of get why that may be happening. The cost of living goes up weekly it seems. Add gas for your car, and that number can fluctuate daily. Yet peoples pay isn't. Unless of course you are part of the teeny tiny percentage enjoying record corporate profits. The profits your hard work is producing. The same profits not being shared. When life keeps getting more and more expensive, some days, and believe me, I know this all too well, it is hard to fill the refrigerator. 

Which gets me to my next number. The amount of Americans receiving Food stamps, you know, the ones that actually help kids eat, are 46,700,000! You read that right. In a country, where corporations are reporting record profits, people are having the hardest time just feeding everyone. There is something so very wrong with that. 

Raising the minimum wage should be something that is adjusted annually. Just like the price of gas makes us adjust our travels, so too should the hardest working Americans receive compensation. It could mean the difference of getting off food stamps. Getting off welfare. I am a glass half full person, and certainly, many will disagree with me, and insist the poor be kept poor, but I say, raise a person's pay, and watch simple math and economics happen right before your eyes. 

I am tired of people looking down, to the families on the lowest rungs of our society, as what is wrong here in America. Look up." Follow the money", if you will.  Haven't too many people "laughed all the way to the bank" on your back? 

The top 1% of households by income captured 121 percent of all income gains between 2009 and 2011...the other 99%? They got poorer. 

What President Obama said at the State of the Union address on Tuesday seems impossible to disagree with. "Let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty".

Makes sense to me.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Molly is excited for Valentines Day. She has this idea in her head that this is a big holiday. So does Charlotte, for that matter. She wanted to know why there is school on Valentines Day, and when David told her that it wasn't really a holiday over dinner the other night, she shot him quite the look. 

When I was growing up on Tulip Grove Drive, my bus stop was at the end of my driveway. When the bus came, it was literally door to door. I remember getting excited every year, looking out the bus window upon my arrival home at the appearance of the big red cardboard heart taped to the inside of the storm door window. Every pink heart and doily made me anticipate the big day. Maybe I would have a secret admirer. Maybe a box of chocolates would appear in my desk at school. Or flowers, in a long white box, with a giant red bow tied around it. How great would that be!

I made Valentines for all of my classmates. I still remember the year that I signed "Love, Erin" to every one's cards. I was accused of having crushes on every boy. I was mortified, and knew from there on in, I would simply sign just my name. Never again would I use "Love" so frivolously. 

I was always a romantic. Even watching The Love Boat on Saturday nights, when there would be a moonlight kissing scene, I just gushed. I would watch the woman's lip glossed mouth, and the way the lovebirds would gaze at each other, and dream of the day, when I too would be in "love". Would I be presented with a box from a jewelry store along with my giant heart of candy, and long stemmed roses? A fancy dinner, perhaps, in a red checkered table clothed restaurant? 

I did give my love frivolously as I got older. I fell for the wrong men, exactly twice. A few Valentines Day spent alone, waiting for a flower delivery that never came. A few really good ones in between, but just not with my true love. Like when I was younger, I still knew he was out there. He just had not arrived. 

Before kids,David and I shared many great Valentines Days. I got my fancy dinners, and flower deliveries, cards and even a box from a jewelry store. After know how that goes. Dinners home, complete with kids begging for a bite. The boxes of flowers replaced with a supermarket bouquet, which really, I prefer. They have been the best of my life. 

 Now, my girls get excited when they see our red cardboard heart taped to the door. Helping them fill out their cards now replaces my own Valentines Day planning. 

With a strict insistence they just sign their name.

 Don't use that word "Love" so frivolously.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I haven't visited this writing space lately. What once was my respite, is now a diary, that maybe, I revealed too much in. I said too many personal things, and put it all down in a spot that I thought nobody would ever see.

But now I feel gagged. I feel the words that once felt so good to put down on the virtual page, have been read. My safe place has become almost a place that I avoid. The words are all still there. Stabbing my finger tips like a million little pin pricks. Dying to get out of my over crowded head, and away from my heavy heart.

I would tell you how bad things seem to me right now, if I could. I would tell you how terribly down, and worried I feel, but I can't. I would explain to you that what I have and what I want are so very far apart from one another, it seems they will never join forces. I would tell you how very hard we have worked to get absolutely no where, and the frustration that has become all consuming, but I can't reveal the nitty gritty of it.

I so want to, but then my phone rings, or the lady at the supermarket questions me, and I just don't want anyone to really know how terribly badly I am failing right now.

Because I know I am. And I don't want it pointed out to me.

I know I am.