Sunday, October 22, 2017

Next Phase



Sometimes I can just feel myself at the sink in my new kitchen in some suburb looking out a window into a green yard. I see myself sitting on a deck where I can feed and watch the birds away from the sirens and funeral home deliveries. When I walk with our students on the city streets, the garbage swirling everywhere offends me and then I come upon a little patch of brick sidewalk and think of Frenchtown or Lambertville; places I wanted to live in my younger days. I’ve always preferred the city up until now. I feel safer in a diverse place. I like walking even though I hardly do it with the soccer and the bus drop off time. Usually I’m exhausted after waking at 5:00 AM, getting my grandson to the bus stop and myself to work, picking him up, making dinner, taking him to soccer practice twice a week and the games on Saturdays. I am sure, now, that I want to move. The house is too big for us. We barely use the first floor. It’s a lot to clean. I need a change. But where to go from here?

I realized a little while ago that once Medicare kicks in I’ll be freer than I’ve ever been to go wherever I want to. I have the pension and Social Security and I can get a job somewhere, especially if I get my license. I can go wherever I want to go. I have to consider Eddie, though so it probably won’t be too far. Still, the feeling of freedom is nice. As long as I don’t get sick, I’ll be fine. As long as… Always a worry. Always a worry.

I could use a few years without worrying about things. That would be nice. This move will be my last so it has to be the right one. I don’t want to disrupt Eddie’s life so I want him to stay at the same school. Thank goodness it’s a charter school so I can be in any neighborhood in almost any town in the area. Arts are a big thing in the Lehigh Valley. The Arts Academy is good for him.

I’m trying to dream about where to go next. I found a nice area in Palmer/Easton. It’s about 20 minutes closer to New Jersey. It’s only one exit over the border on both 22 and 78. Taxes are reasonable. Houses were built in the 60’s so they have hardwood floors. Yards are a good size. I don’t hear traffic. I’m just not sure about the suburbs. I’d like to see more of nature. A lake or something. We’ll see. We’ll see.I see myself at the sink, in the kitchen, but I don't see myself in a neighborhood, in a particular town.

There's so much to do, too. Thirteen glass carboys, oil lamps, tools, wine making supplies, books, the remnants of a life to dispose of. It's a big job. Then I have to paint and clean and install a new fence and kitchen appliances. It's a little overwhelming. Lately I've been in a creative phase and am making retro inspired jewelry for my Etsy shop. You have to work while you are inspired. When it comes, you have to take advantage of it. That's all for now. Up to the bead room to create.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Recycling

What can you learn from my recycling bin?
The crushed cans of flavored seltzer, 
an empty cardboard box that held Vervain eau du toilette,
an occasional bottle of vodka, lots of Gatorade and yogurt containers,
Saturday and Sunday newspapers, still folded and unread.

Can you tell that my heart has been ripped from my body along with half of my memories?
Can you tell that all I see before me is an ocean of loneliness with no land in sight? 

My husband is dead.
The memory of all he was swirls around me.
It lives in the spices in my cabinets,
In the plates and cups,
In the teapots on their shelf
In the library books and the wood that holds them.
The wood he cut and planed and stained.
In the half empty bed, one side never unmade
Like Tally's sandcastle in the Ray Bradbury story. 
But my husband is not caught in the weeds of a summer lake.
He is gone. 
His ashes sit in an urn on my work table waiting to be incorporated into stones that we will wear around our necks/
A stone to grasp.
A stone to fondle.
A stone to be warmed by our living bodies that have no choice but to go on without him. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Worry

I don't usually park in back of the daycare center, but the few spaces in front were full so I drove around to the parking lot. The view past the chain link fence and the playground is of the south side of the city where we lived when we first moved to Pennsylvania. The mountains in the distance were softened by fog. It was humid, but there was a breeze and some sun after days of rain. The birds were singing. It was Friday. I was feeling happy and then as usual, I began to list the possible disasters that could befall me this weekend. I thought of two: 1. something could happen to the house in the Poconos since I had to turn off one of the circuit breakers to the baseboard heat due to over heating. 2. Something could happen to my daughter who is a heroin addict in and out of treatment for the last seven years. I had turned off the circuit breaker to the offending unit and turned the heat down to 50 degrees, so I was not particularly bothered by the house issue. It has been warm all week so not much heat would be needed. I know who I can call to fix it when I am up there next. There is nothing I can do that I haven't tried before to help my daughter who will be 40 on her next birthday. I'll keep trying when I can, when I see her, but for now there is nothing I can do. So I dropped my grandson off at daycare and went to work happy that it was Friday and it was sunny and warm and I had the weekend before me.I realized that my anxiety level has decreased significantly since my husband died. The daily worry about him falling, or getting cancer again or just waiting, waiting for that day to come when it would end is gone. The worst thing that could happen has already happened. The worst thing that could happen has already happened. The chores that I have set for myself-the painting and cleaning and de-cluttering and rearranging-will pull me through the next months and maybe over a year as I prepare to live the rest of my life without him after 42 years. The worst thing that could happen has already happened.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Loss

Cleaned up the back garden today. It's a small yard with just two strips of dirt on either side of a concrete slab. The terracotta tile stenciling is fading. I cut down the dead plants and sawed off the branches of the nuisance Rose of Sharon that is growing between the raised bed and the neighbors fence. I was getting annoyed trying to pull out the deep roots of the bronze fennel that is taking over my little gardening space. I turned to look at the back door and suddenly I started crying. He will not come to that door anymore to see what I'm doing and then go back in to fetch the correct tool for the job or a cold drink urging me to take a break. I don't know if I can live here anymore, facing season after season of the same place without him. I cleaned off his desk yesterday and found so many things: little Soviet clock in a box; our late dog, Sandy's picture ID with the note I wrote for him to give to the vet with her symptoms and the bill for the euthanasia and cremation that he had to face alone since we had no warning that she was so ill; cancelled checks for our rent on Vine St and for Orchard Park Nursery School; the credit card bill for the tile we bought in Union for the living room in our first house on Moravian. I thought as I made each room my own by moving things and storing things and painting things, I might be able to handle it. I moved my things into the top drawer of the bathroom vanity, but I keep going for the bottom drawer, still. We lived here for 17 of our 42 years together. I don't know if I can stay. I am dreading next Christmas already. It's been 15 weeks since he died and the knowledge that I will never see him again is becoming more and more real.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The "Stuff" I want.

Bill O'Reilly's statement that the Americans who voted for Barack Obama did so because they want "stuff" that Obama can give to them, was so obviously racist that it's hard to believe he still has  job. His obvious shell shock that even with all the money and power harnessed by the richest and most powerful people in the country, people came out and stood in line for hours, sometimes in the dark, to vote against the corporations. As a woman who has worked full time for most of my life, who was laid off three years ago and spent the last two years getting a master's degree in social work, but have yet to find a job, and who voted for Obama, I just want to take this opportunity to talk about the "stuff" I want and the stuff I don't want.. 

The “stuff” I want:

  1. Meaningful work at a living wage.
  2. Safe and decent housing.
  3. Education, free and true.
  4. Help not incarceration for substance abusers.
  5. Freedom to marry the person you love.
  6. Social Security from birth through death.
  7. Healthcare for all
  8. Sustainable agriculture
  9. Sustainable energy policy
  10. Expansion of mass transit.
  11. Expansion of locally grown organic food.
  12. Expansion of cooperatively owned local businesses.
  13. Equal pay
  14. Freedom for women to control their bodies.
  15. An end to war.
  16. Reparations
  17. Clean air and water
  18. Respect for our elders
  19. Love your neighbor as yourself
  20. Community
  21. Public television
  22. Funding for the arts


The “stuff” I don’t want:
1. Drones.
2. Nuclear energy.
3. Racism
  1. Sexism
  2. Homophobia
  3. Bailouts of banks.
  4. Bailouts of corporations
  5. Corporate funding of paramilitaries
  6. Oil
  7. Killing sharks and gorillas and tigers and wolves and anything else
  8. Cutting down the forests to grow palm oil
  9. Fomenting unrest in sovereign countries.
  10. White “political commentators” announcing the end of the world as we know it because democracy worked in spite of all the money and dirty tricks that were used to try and stop it.
  11. Americans who hide their money to avoid paying taxes.
  12. Mobil Masterpiece Theater
  13. Young people dying in wars.
  14. Poverty
  15. War
  16. Hate
  17. Fear
  18. Mendacity

Monday, November 05, 2012

The Election


I recently saw the movie, “The Hunger Games.” The defeat on the faces of the townspeople as they trudged to work or lined up for the lottery reminded me of something I read about the Homestead strike in “The War on Labor & the Left” by Patricia Cayo Sexton. In 1892 the striking workers at the plant owned by Andrew Carnegie and Henry Frick successfully fought the Pinkerton strike breakers who arrived by boat on the Monongahela River for thirteen hours, the governor of Pennsylvania, Robert E. Pattison, and a Democrat, sent 8000 National Guardsman to Homestead and declared Marshall Law. The Guardsman protected the strike breakers and the plant was reopened with scab labor. The company then pressed charges against the strikers for murder and conspiracy although no charges were pressed against the strike breakers. Although the juries would not convict the strikers, the union crumbled under the costs of the trials and the presence of strikebreakers in the plant. Strike leaders and the Mayor of Homestead were blacklisted and lost their homes. The returning men had their rates cut in half and the 12 hour, seven day week remained the standard for the steel industry. International reaction overwhelmingly condemned Carnegie and the use of government forces and mercenaries against the workers. The workers who remained in the broken down town were described as “discouraged and sullen” in 1894 by the American writer Hamlin Garland. (Sexton, 1991.)
            Multiply this scenario through the years of labor history before and after the Homestead strike. Multiply the poverty of the workers contrasted with the wealth of the owners. Multiply the dead fallen in battle against mercenaries and military and then add in those killed in industrial accidents, disease and hunger. Combine the workers dead and defeated with the enslaved human beings who built much of the wealth of the wealthy and the Native Americans who continue to be denied their rights while the scraps of lands they are allowed to keep continue to be polluted with toxic waste. Add in those who died fighting prejudice and racism and those who are victims of racism today. Aside from the enormous human cost, how much money-government money, tax dollars- is spent on our own repression? How much money is spent to keep us down? We are unarmed for the most part, mostly untrained in the art of violence. We have nothing but our minds and bodies to fight with and yet, millions if not billions of dollars are spent to make sure we do not stand up like human beings.
            In the October 16-31 issue of CounterPunch, there’s an article by Daniel Kovalik called, “The Blood Toll of Plan Colombia.” In speaking about the presence of multinational corporations in Columbia, he writes, “the rise of right wing paramilitaries in areas designated for multi-national exploitation is a common one…the best documented example of this grim phenomenon…involves North Carolina based Chiquita Banana which actually admitted, in a criminal case brought by the US Justice Department, to paying paramilitary forces $1.7 million and running them 3,000 kalishnikov rifles between 1997 and 2004.” Who was the defense lawyer for Chiquita? Eric Holder.  Also from this article are the following facts from a report by Peace Brigades International, “Mining in Columbia: At What Cost?”
  • “In the past 10 years 40% of all Colombian land has been awarded to or solicited by mining and crude oil companies.”
  • “80 % of the human rights abuses of the past 10 years were committed in mining and energy producing regions.”
  • “87% of Colombia’s displaced population originates from these areas.” (Kovalik, 2012.)
According to a BBC article, the US has spent $6 billion dollars allegedly trying to stop the drug trade with Plan Colombia. (BBC, 2012)
            All over the world, through centuries common people have been subjected to inhuman violence. Most of us in the US have not seen or experienced this violence but it is coming closer and closer. I do not believe the Democratic Party or Barak Obama will change this course, but I do believe that if Romney and Ryan win the election with their attitude of corporate entitlement – everything that contains life, anything than can be exploited for personal and corporate gain belongs to the corporation – things will get worse faster.
            One man does not run the country and one man or woman cannot change or stop the evil that is so intertwined with racism and sexism to the point where the cradle of civilization is being routinely bombed, where the birthplace of all human beings is being routinely and violently exploited, where the bountiful earth is being raped and polluted with chemicals, where the waters are filled with toxic and nuclear waste, where the diversity and uniqueness of our planet is being destroyed by the madness of men who want everything to be tasteless, odorless, colorless and dressed in a three piece suit. They’ll keep a stable of women. They’ll look out over the dying planet with puffed up chests and smile at their metal and plastic world.
            We can at least slow that down. Voting doesn’t stop anyone from doing anything more. We’ve already seen so much evidence of voter suppression over the past few elections that it’s clear that those who are suppressing the vote do not believe in democracy. We may not have actually existing democracy and Barak Obama may not be bringing it along, but voting for those who openly express contempt for the majority of Americans is irresponsible. Some people want to be on what they think of as the winning team. They want to stand next to the important person. They want to be rich and brush against fame. But most of us are not rich or famous, we are the majority and we can make a difference if we recognize who we are and act together for our own interests instead of against them.
References
BBC. Q&A Colombia’s civil conflict. August 28, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12447532
Kovalik, D. CounterPunch. Vol. 19, No. 18. p 2,3. October 16-31, 2012.
Sexton, P. The war on labor and the left. Understanding America’s unique conservatism. San Francisco, 1991, Westview Press, p 80-84




        

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Real Election Fraud


While voter fraud by individuals is rare, preventing legitimate registered voters from casting their ballots has become common. Studies by the California and Massachusetts Institutes of Technology found that 4-6 million votes went uncounted in the Florida 2000 Presidential election.

2000
  • 36,000 newly registered voters were not added to the rolls. 
  • State Troopers search voter’s cars, delaying them from getting to the polls on time. 
  • Ballot boxes went missing or were uncollected, particularly in African-American districts.
  • Polling places close early in some Democratic districts.
  • Legitimate voters were purged from the rolls.

2004
  • Tens of thousands of voters were purged from the rolls.
  • In Ohio, particularly in African American neighborhoods, people waited for 4-7 hours to vote due to insufficient number of voting machines and breakdowns.
  • In one Ohio precinct, the polls never opened because the key to the office with the voting machines was lost.
  • In two Ohio counties there were more votes for Bush than registered voters.
  • In New Mexico, there were more votes counted than cast in half the counties.
  • In New Mexico, John Kerry lost in all precincts utilizing touch screen technology.

2006
  • A Democratic candidate in Florida lost the election after 18,000 ballots were lost due to glitches in touch screen voting machines.

            The voter ID law comes from the bowels of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a collaboration of legislators and corporations that incubates “model” bills and uses elected officials in state after state to peddle a corporate agenda. There have been no documented cases of voter fraud in Pennsylvania. The bill is a diversion. Its sole purpose is to stop historically democratic voters from being counted and bring “our” country back to a time when only white men of property could vote.

References:
Parenti, M. (2007). the stolen presidential elections.http://www.michaelparenti.org/stolenelections.html

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