Monday, October 27, 2008

Talking life more than politics.

This election year has fascinated me.

i must admit to being pretty uninterested in years past. Partly that was a function of the party going on in my head, filled with parental voices and doubts that i could indeed live a viable adult life. i couldn't hear myself over the noise until my 3rd round with a mental health professional. (i view this process of understanding myself as peeling off the layers of an onion. It appears i'm a slow peeler, still peeling after 55 years.)

This year i have finally been able to watch and learn and listen to the issues. i have people around me voting opposite sides for various reasons. Problem is, i've been unaware of so many of the issues it's been a huge undertaking to try to understand even a portion. Foreign policy, wars, environmentmental issues, pro-life, pro-choice, issues of the economy as it heads for the Big Flush, and much more. i "get" more than i did, but i still understand merely a crumb from the cookie.

Foreign policy: i know little of foreign policy, other than the fact the U.S. has apparently ticked off a lot of other nations with our adolescent superiority. Not a good thing for getting along with the rest of the planet.

War: i know only a tiny bit more about war--and only from a personal-life basis. Between the war's effect on my father and the imbalances of my mother, my siblings and i grew up in a domestic war zone. i never heard of my father's training time in Australia, i only knew the horrors of combat in Korea. i knew the man who sat us down in the living room with a gun and threatened to put us all "in the ground." My sister tells me he was a bright and accomplished student. i'm sorry i never met that man--that would be a good memory in the mix.

Environmental issues: Again, a tiny bit. i grew up in the lush beauty of Portland, Oregon. When i see the green of a forest or woods my soul sighs with happiness. i'm pro-happy-environment. Now, at 55, i have many things floating about in the attic of my head--one is the childhood memory of building a snow woman (complete with breasts) in our front yard, another is the Snoopy on his doghouse i snow-sculpted one winter. i could honestly think i'm losing big chunks of brain cells, because now if i talk about the snow of my childhood, people act as if they should humor the crazy lady--it doesn't snow in PORTLAND. So my personal experience says the environment is changing. i don't know much other than the junk in the air bothers my asthma, AND IT DID SO USED TO SNOW IN PORTLAND!

The Economy: Experience tells me it's hard to get by. Partly because i'm not willing to give up satellite tv and other niceties, admittedly. Partly because our adolescent country is in that "I want to learn it the hard way!" stage. Two hundred years plus is pretty young as countries go, but the bad part about that? What takes a teen 4 years to learn takes a country decades. The me-first mentality hasn't been curbed in our adolescent economy. People are suffering, and not just the big guys who have to make do with two vacation houses instead of three, but the regular folk who just need to see a dentist but have no coverage and no extra money beyond their day to day costs of living.

Pro-life, Pro-choice--always an issue for me. i know my sister dealt with a childhood that was far less than affirming. Mine wasn't so great, but i was the baby and skated by more easily. But having grown up in an environment filled with the toxicity of cigarette smoke and anger, i still don't regret having the chance to live. i'm thankful i've been on this earth long enough to go to school, make friends, give birth, adopt, do foster care--and oh yeh, marry a really good guy.

Though formerly a girl who thought marriage was for suckers and child raising frightening, i had the chance to meet someone who changed my view on marriage. Then i learned i loved the nurturing-growing-teaching-loving parts of child raising. i know that none of them have found the path to adulthood a peachy-keen-no-sweat road. But they're all amazing, and make my soul sigh with pleasure, almost as much as those forests and woods. (KIDDING!) i'm beyond thankful for the opportunities i've had to nurture those lives.

i'm grateful for the chances i've had to care for foster babies and teens in distress, hopefully giving them some sense of self-worth by being loved without condition. Our son, now 20, was born nearly 3 months premature to a cocaine addict. 28 weeks gestation, a big 3 pounds, he fought for 5 months before being released from the hospital. He was the age of pre-born children some would still consider disposable. He's a tender-hearted boy with learning disabilities and his share of difficulties. And like my other children, i cannot imagine my life without him. i do worry about some of the changes in the U.S. Some have been a long time coming, but i do worry about the issue of "choice." Whose choice, the baby's or the mom's? i'm thankful, even with the difficulties i've faced, to have had a chance to live and grow.

Anyway, if you've made it this far through my mental life/political purge, congrats. If you had to skim a LOT, just read below.

Skimmer's recap: i'm glad i had the chance for this life of mine. i don't understand a whole lot about world issues, but i've gotten to do some pretty great stuff. And that includes building snowmen in Portland. Seriously!! i can show you pictures!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

i'll give you a hint: it's a cookbook and i've been using one.

i've been cooking lately. Purposely. And enjoying it.

Anyone who knows me well is aware of my many kitchen casualties. i've eaten the burned cookies/burned toast so often over the years that now if it doesn't taste like carbon it doesn't taste right. My children will not be gathered after the funeral saying "I only wish I'd learned to cook like Mom--"

But lately i've been cooking, making meals, trying new things. i've always loved cookbooks and recipes in magazines, and have ripped out more recipes from magazines over the years than there've been days in my life. i've thrown away piles of recipes i've never tried. But like i said, "lately..."

i've organized my recipes (again) and tossed a pile of them (again.) But i'm feelin' it, i'm feelin' the cooking vibe. It may be the season--the change to autumn brings visions of hot chocolate and pot roast with gravy (well, not together.) Possibly that's inspired me to look for new cold weather dishes. i actually made a pork tenderloin roast with a lovely orange and honey glaze with its accompanying chunky homemade applesauce. Don't remember what i served with it, i'm just so impressed with myself over the roast. Twice that week i cooked from a real recipe and twice it was good!

i refuse to discuss the other meals that week.

Monday, October 06, 2008

When credit cards amuse.

i received one of those "Important Notice of Change in Terms" papers in my credit card bill.

i must admit that sort of thing is usually filed without reading. What compelled me to read it this time i don't know. But what i now realize is that had i known how amusing these titillatingly titled missives could be i would have been reading them all along.

Paragraph 1 included many Boldfaced and Capitalized words along with this friendly statement: "Please see below for the Summary of Changes and your right to not accept the changes to your APRs." Oh! A choice! How very American of them.

Paragraph 2 gave the rundown of rediculously high rate changes for Overdraft Advances and Cash Advances. This included the invitation to accept their graciously offered rediculously high new Default APR with its new variable rate. Hmm. Such an offer.

Paragraph 3 told me of my "Right to Opt Out (not accept) the changes in the APRs." Very decent of them! All i need do is write them a letter politely declining: "As tempting as your offer for unbelievably higher and unpredictable rates sounds, I think I'll stick with your previously merely laughable rates."

Paragraph 4 clarified "What it means if you choose not to accept these APR changes." Ah! Let us see what provision has been made for this: "These APR changes will not apply." Cool. My letter changes everything. i'm pleased. Next sentence: "Your account will be closed and your card will no longer be available for use."

Huh. So much for "Options."

Skimmer's recap: When a credit card says you have options, it really means you have none.