Saturday, March 19, 2016

the ENOUGH generation

Generational labels have been assigned throughout history to the prevailing group of citizens in our society.  From the rag tag dirt scratchers of the Depression, through the Baby Boomers and the Yuppies, and continuing on through the Millennium with Gen X, Y, and Zs.  There are teenagers and tweeners, golden girls and old farts, and every iteration possible on either end of the spectrum.


I have come to think that my contemporaries might well be labeled the ENOUGH generation.  Coming along after the Depression and the Dust Bowl Days, few of us were born into privilege.  Most of us were hatched into nests that were not particularly well feathered but there was ENOUGH comfort there for us to be happy.

We didn't enjoy steady diets of egg white omelets, designer coffees or even steak.  There was not an over abundance of places to "eat out."  We ate a lot of beans, potatoes, cornbread, bologna (baloney), and yes.....Spam.  But, there was usually ENOUGH to ensure we didn't go to bed hungry with our stomachs gnawing at our backbones.  Our dads worked hard and were proud to do so and we were the beginning of the start of mother's who began to work outside the home.

There were no specialty beers or micro-breweries to tickle our taste buds for a forbidden "taste."  We instead made do with labels like Lone Star, Coors, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Schlitz.  Our tastes were hardened by the times and who could blame us if some of us never seem to know when ENOUGH is ENOUGH in the alcohol department.

Almost every dad I knew was in constant possession of a cigarette either in between two fingers or dangling from his lip.  If it wasn't lit and burning slowly it was part of a group residing in the chest pocket of his shirt or neatly rolled up in the sleeve of a t-shirt.  We were all subjected to car rides with wafting cigarette smoke rolling over the back seat in ENOUGH clouds to make today's society shudder in horror.  Some of those dads (like mine) paid the price for that but I was lucky and I have not.

Many of us only got department store clothing for special occasions like Christmas.  But, we heard the clickety clacking of our mothers' sewing machines well into the night as they transformed a piece of raw material into something cute for us to wear.  Boys might very well be decked out in overalls from the Farmer's Co-op or simple jeans and white t-shirts.  And to have more than 2 pairs of shoes was a rarity. Nothing fancy........but..........ENOUGH. 

We were not continually busy with extracurricular activities but we were engaged ENOUGH that we were usually pretty tired at the end of the day and most of us stayed well out of trouble.  We wanted to because we were just as likely to get a talking to from a random stranger as we were our own parents....and one "I'm very disappointed in you" talk was waaaaay more than ENOUGH.

But on those rare occasions when we did step in a fresh one, we were reminded in very short order that our parents had had ENOUGH and we better be getting our ball of yarn back in tidy shape.  Because if we didn't, one or both of our parents would rain down destruction on us until we were absolutely positive that we had MORE THAN ENOUGH.

Town was somewhere you went on Saturday and you made a day of it.  Because we were not continually running to the store for forgotten items, we were still simple ENOUGH to enjoy going.  People watching and the ever hopeful thought that you MIGHT get something in town was more than ENOUGH to keep us excited about going.

I am relatively sure that I was aware that what we had in our lives was ALL there was.  I never had the feeling there was anything being help back.  It was a day to day existence and probably one that was very difficult for my parents, but I was insulated from the worry of it because to my reckoning...I had ENOUGH...and I was grateful.
Because I had ENOUGH and not exposed to excesses, I still have the ability to get excited about things.  At 66 I am not jaded by "stuff" - little gestures mean everything and I am genuinely grateful for even the smallest thing.  And for the most part, every day, I am blessed in my life and the people who choose me to be a part of theirs.

Maybe the fact that mine is a generation defined by ENOUGH is a large contributing factor in explaining why, right now in our country some of us, have.had.ENOUGH.  We are sick of being lied to, we are weary of the entitled attitudes of some, we are frustrated with the over bearing personalities of people in authority who treat us like we are stupid.  And, quite frankly, some of us are getting really tired of being told to hold our tongues because what we say "offends" someone.  Someone offends me every day.  I get over myself.  Everyone........EVERY danged ONE has a right to their opinion and the right to express it if they choose.  But if you expect me to listen to your opinion with courtesy and kindness you have to give me the same expectation.  You do not have the right to shout over me, block my access to hearing someone speak or in general behave in such a fashion as you have been complaining about yourself.

We are not the sheep you think us to be.  Nor are we as dumb and unwashed as you would like to believe.  Our experiences have formed the people we are and what we are is the backbone of a great nation.  And....we know full well what ENOUGH looks like and we are content with it.  What we are not content with is watching our ENOUGH turn into too little while what we have worked our whole lives for is handed to someone unwilling to work for it at all.  The silent generation stands and growls its displeasure.  You may ignore it, laugh at it and even try to squash it.  But what made us content with ENOUGH will also stand us in good stead in taking back what is ours.
While many of you worry that we are so dumb we are sitting here lapping up sound bites and reacting to them let me assure you that for the most part we understand the undercurrent at play.  We also recognize sarcasm when we see it and hear it - most of US excel at it as well.  Contrary to popular opinion we are not ignorant - most of us are very very smart..........and we are smart ENOUGH to know that WE.HAVE.HAD.ENOUGH.  What a pity you can't see it as well.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hopelessly Devoted To You

Can't you just hear Olivia singing.........?  You can't?  Then you are obviously either too old or too young to have your heart strings plucked by the message in this song.

Every day, from the chair in my office, I see pure hopeless devotion at work.  And, I marvel again at the lessons to be learned from God's creatures as they go about just living their lives.

I've watched Miss Dovie building her nest in the saddle of my cherry tree, depositing her precious cargo, and then settling in for what has proven to be a very wild ride.  Her timing could have been better, but something tells me it just wan not hers to choose.

Since taking up residence, she has endured gale force winds, pounding hail, and buckets of rainfall.

And yet...........she sits.

She remains ever vigilant, ever patient, and I assume ever hopeful of a positive outcome for her tenacity.

She bears her challenge silently and will tolerate a noisy human invading her space to "check" on her, which it seems I MUST do, even though there is nothing I can do to help her.

To further emphasize the depth of her devotion, it occurs to me....not her....that she will never enjoy the fruit of her labors.  She will never know her grandchildren, never receive a Mother's Day card, and never have a houseful of happy kids coming home for a holiday visit.

Instead, her lot in life is a whole lot of work with little reward at the end.  Once she has worked her beak to the bone feeding and protecting those nestlings, they will one day go careening out of the nest, never to be heard from again.

I was pretty put out with the good Mister who left her sitting all alone in the elements but he turns up now and again bringing her nourishment while she is nest bound.  Good job Mr. D on living up to your job as head of the household.  You, will also never know the joyous gifts of ugly neckties and needless golfing notions.  But for a also are hopelessly devoted.

Watching nature teaches us a lot about things we would do well to learn.  In nature, creatures don't pander to and enable their offspring until they render them helpless.  Instead, they are all about successfully raising up some "chillun" to be self-sufficient productive member of their society.

Sadly, they lose a few along the way and in that regard I am quite happy to be human.  But I confess that I love the thought of doing one's parenting job so well that you can enjoy you kids, instead of continuing to have to pull them along with you through life.

Maybe nature's instincts are to equip their young for survival because they never know how long they will be around to be responsible for those "kids."

When the dovelets fledge the parents will spend a final few days carefully patrolling the area where they teeter on branches or squat on the ground.  And each day, the babies grow stronger, more confident, and eager to see what else is out there.

Soon the need for their parents is gone and they bob along in the grass looking for their own tidbits, cocking their heads at a sound and peering at you with those bright gentle eyes.  And, for some, next year they might decide that saddle in the cherry tree looks like a great place to do it all over again.

Since it is said that Mourning Doves mate for life I can't think of a more fitting example in nature of hopelessly devoted.  Can you?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Inconvenient Truths As I See Them

**WARNING** This is a political opinion and you can read at your own discretion

A great part of our society today seems to be leaning in their thought processes towards a Socialistic form of government which is not an alternative economic system. It is instead a program for consumption. Furthermore, Socialism is the wedge which opens the door wide and invites Communism inside. Why? Because after Socialism gets through with you, Communism looks like a Democracy. Knowing my own limitations as a "political" person, I decided to do my own research and this is what I found for myself.

Admittedly, equality rings in the ear for people and they want to incline themselves toward Socialism. Here are a few of things to consider before you all hold hands around the campfire and go all Kumbaya on Socialism.

The politicians in America who are spouting a Socialist platform will raise taxes on the rich. Ooooh, doesn't this sound exciting? News flash.....the rich already do pay taxes and a lot of them. But... do we, you say. Yes, we do, and perhaps we might want to concentrate our efforts on the fact we have allowed our government so much control over us that we don't notice when we are the 5th owner of a "beater" of a car and in certain states are paying sales tax on it again. In spite of the fact that some poor schmuck paid a boatload of sales tax on it when it was new, a vehicle eventually has more tax revenue invested in it than it is worth, or the gas it takes to power it. Some will say that taxing the crap out of the rich will build the middle class. News flash.....our current administration has taxed them and the middle class is actually shrinking. That doesn't mean we are doing better, it means due to the things I'm about to list much of the middle class is sliding over into the lower class - aka poverty.

When the rich are faced with ever burgeoning taxes, this is what happens. Because they are usually the backbone of our infrastructure they are forced to make changes in how they do business. Employee lay-offs, pay cuts, or price increases on goods they produce. Let's take these points one by one.

1)  Employee layoffs: now there are more people forced onto the rolls of unemployment which ultimately trickles down to higher taxes on the middle class (you and I that is.)  Or....more and more companies will simply move their operations out of the country and continue on leaving the American workers behind and on Welfare.

2)  Pay cuts: now there are more people forced to take welfare, food stamps, etc. from the government. Who pays for this? Again, the middle class. Please remember our government produces nothing of monetary value - it is instead a giant sucking machine of American dollars via tax revenue and when they take over all the manufacturing and production how long before each segment of our society fails...and falls. After all, has not time proven them incapable of handling or managing ANYTHING? Most (not all) of our current politicians are what I call "silver spooners" who were breast fed on the sweat of someone else's brow, grew up to become highly paid professionals who entered into politics because, let's face it, it's a cushy gig, and then sat on their ever increasing backsides raking in payoffs from lobbyists and special interest groups and getting richer by the day. Please know that those Washington Fat Cats will find a way to avoid the tax increase on the rich (them) and suddenly the definition of rich will be something a little more familiar to us - say $40 to $100 k. Are you seeing a trend here? And politicians feel they have a moral imperative to spend money they do not have and did not make. After all, aren't you seeing the increase in those in the political limelight explaining how dumb we are and how much we NEED them to make our decisions for us and take care of us.

3)  Price increases: In order to pay those higher tax bills, prices have to go up. I don't know about you but I can't afford for things to get any more expensive than they already are and given our government's woefully lacking understanding of what a real American dollar is and buys I'm pretty danged sure we can't look to them for any real answers.

I have a lot of sympathy for the poor - good heaven's I grew up the spawn of real Americans. The people who pulled cotton in the hot Texas sun, or scratched out a living in the dry Oklahoma red dirt, and worked 10 - 12 hours a day at hard labor in oilfields. I have no rich relatives. I do have hard work, grit, sweat and tears in my core. But as much as I feel for the poor I have never gotten a job from someone who doesn't have a little cash in their pocket. And jobs is what it is all about. Jobs that pay fairly and give you a hope that if you do well, you will increase your own value.

I also hear people say "if you don't believe in Socialism, then give up your Medicare, your Social Security, and all your other "hand outs." Well.....unfortunately those are benefits granted to Americans through good old fashioned capitalism. From the fact that they worked and EARNED THEM. There is a huge difference and if you can't see it then no one as dumb as I am is ever going to be able to explain it to you. But, by the Socialist mindset it would entirely okay for me to hand someone $100 for no reason, and I would be inclined to agree. However, if I handed someone $100 it would because I worked for it in a Capitalistic system. And they could take it and be grateful........or not. They could thank me.......or not. They could pay me back when their circumstances change......or not. However, in Socialism....the only entity with the means to give someone $100.00 would be the government and they WILL expect something in return. Like your vote....maybe involuntary inscription into their military....or maybe your children to be sent away to be taught their propaganda instead of your own core beliefs.

I hear stories about all the tremendously successful Socialist countries out there and just for shits and giggles I read up on them. In the opening paragraphs for each country they mention their Welfare and Unemployment programs. Not much about jobs. Just programs. Therefore I would invite you to read this article which I felt more accurately sums up Socialism. If you don't want to read the whole article please take at least this excerpt away with you to think on.

"Socialism will not work, whether in one country, a multi-state region such as Europe, or the entire world. Ludwig von Mises explained that socialism is not an alternative economic system. It is a program for consumption. It tells us nothing about economic production. Since each man's production must be distributed to all of mankind, there is no economic incentive to produce anything, although there may be the incentive of coercion and threats of violence. Conversely, free market capitalism is an economic system of production, whereby each man owns the product of his own labors and, therefore, has great economic incentives to produce both for himself, his family, and has surplus goods to trade for the surplus product of others. Even under life and death threats neither the socialist worker nor his overseer would know what to produce, how to produce it, or in what quantities and qualities. These economic cues are the product of free market capitalism and money prices."

I would encourage you as well to study the country of Greece which has spent itself into national bankruptcy because they blindly accepted the bill of goods called Socialism they were being sold by the EU. My husband was stationed in Greece when he was in the Air Force and he has told me that there is nothing quite as sobering as to be sitting in a little cafe on a beautiful day surrounded by people laughing and enjoying themselves, and then watch them fall furtively silent when the government's police force enters the building. Remember if you are entirely dependent on someone for your existence there is an expectation you will do as they tell you. You won't be free to spout your opinions against things that rankle with you on social media. You will be afraid to disagree. Socialist countries are ripe for a coup a someone I agree with, tomorrow someone you agree with and next week, someone neither of us agrees with. This is counteractive to a growing and productive society.

Just remember, if it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. Nothing worth having in life comes easily. For me...I want to work, work hard, take care of myself and have a few dollars to buy what you are selling so that you can continue to work, work hard, take care of yourself and continue to produce what you make by purchasing your materials from someone else and so on and so on and scooby dooby do. That my friends is Capitalism and it works - it works every time it is given a chance to flourish.

We have real problems in America and we have work to do, but throwing the baby out with the bath water will not fix what is broken here. Big government needs to take a step back and let the common man succeed and thrive. Try not to be swayed into starry eyed submission by all the "free" stuff and the "feel good" stuff. Government's job is to protect our borders.....period. It is not their job to own us like cattle and if we don't break out of the herd mentality soon, the slaughter house will be stinking with our blood.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The EYES Have It - The EARS..........Not So Much.

The so-called "Golden Years" are a bit of a lie some days.  I think most of my contemporaries can agree that we are in complete amazement that we have reached mid-sixties so quickly.  Inside, our minds are mostly still young and vibrant.  We don't consider ourselves old fuddy-duddies.  We still like good music and good food.  Every now and then we still get that nice warm tingling feeling in spite of the fact it offends the younger set.

But no matter how much you try to take care of yourself and do the right things, your body is working on its own little blueprint for life or something much much darker.

I still vividly remember the day it dawned on me I could not see to thread a needle without a very bright light and a magnifying glass.  This affliction has now moved to requiring me to wear one of those not very attractive headbands with the Coke bottle lenses in order to sew or read.  Learning how to increase the size of things on my computer monitor was one of the best days I've had in a long long time.  The fonts on my phone are very large and if you drop anything smaller than a quarter around me, you are on your own for finding it.

I now understand why my mom always complained about not being able to use a bathroom away from home.  We'll not belabor that one any further.  But, I understand, mom, I really really do.

As annoying for me as all these little aging challenging are, they only annoy ME.  But the last one is one that seems to amp up the annoyance factor for the world in general.

Probably the worst thing that has happened to me in my later years is the loss of a great deal of my hearing.  I wear hearing aids that are very helpful and I am so grateful for them.  Without aids, I still hear - but it is like seeing the world in only black and gray, there is no vibrance in sound for me.  In short, everything "sounds" gray.

As I have dealt with this for over a decade I thought it might be good to help others understand the world of diminished hearing people and hopefully dispel a myth or two that I have encountered along my journey.

1)  "You just don't try hard enough to hear"  Well, exactly how hard should I try to hear when I am often having to resort to lip reading because you speak in very low tones or do not properly enunciate your speech?  I've cranked the hearing aids up to the max setting and I am still unable to tune in Tokyo so help me out here.

2)  "If you have difficulty hearing why don't you wear hearing aids?"  Ummmm, actually I do.  Bummer for you that they now make them where they are more attractive than an ear bugle and are discretely hidden for my own vanity's sake.

Mine are similar to this except mine are much smaller and hide nicely under my hair

3)  "You aren't wearing your hearing aids today are you?"  Right.  I'm not.  Because all the crap in the air that is making you sneeze your head off and your nose run and your head ache is also making my ears itch like crazy.  It's all connected people that is why there are EAR, Nose and Throat Specialists.  Spring and Fall do not hearing aids like.  And, yes, some days I just want things to be quiet and telling people to shut up is not a viable option.  Pity.

These are just a few of the questions and statements I get to deal with pretty routinely.  But believe it or not, these are not nearly as bad as the attitudes of other people.  Rolling your eyes because I have asked you to repeat yourself for the 3rd time hurts my feelings.  Please refer yourself to number 1 and think about how YOU might help me a little more.

Turning away from me while speaking (aids or not) means your sound just went from me to the other part of the room and I'm not going to hear you.  I realize how annoying it is for society as a whole for me to be hearing impaired- I really wish I could spare you that.  It's a freaking picnic for me, wish you were here.

Talking to me in a crowded room or any group setting is going to be "iffy" at best.  If I'm wearing my hearing aids I am having an overload of sound.  I might hear the guy 25 feet away and not hear you because the aids are not able to think out which sound is the most important.  And if I'm not wearing them it is because I just cannot deal with the overpowering sound of so much stuff.  I hear clocks ticking,  road noise is deafening in a car, slamming doors make me think you are furious with me, and dogs barking?  Please.  Think about it for a minute.

Those bothersome captions on the television are a necessary evil for me, and yes, it annoys me as well when they are directly over the weather warnings.....again, not my fault.   But I do this mostly for others because I feel it is less problematic than the TV volume being at a super sonic level.  And I do confess, I have been known to have the volume cranked up AND the captioning on, all at the same time.  I get tired of reading.

Needless to say unless you and I are alone in a room, I am now incapable of conspiratorial speech.  But, one thing you won't have to worry about, if I don't hear it I can't repeat it.  In short, whispering is lost on me.  I truly miss those sweet they are merely nothing.

Here is the upshot of MY hearing problem.  My world becomes smaller and smaller because I try to protect myself from things I don't think I can manage well without ultimately causing annoyance in someone else.  Trying to figure out what they are saying on the announcements in an airport is challenging.  It isn't their fault, they know what they need to say and are used to spilling it and they proceed on their merrily efficient way doing just that.  So, I can't understand and since there are no digital read outs that tell me what they said,  I am forced into the annoyance of other people by asking "what did they say?"

I have a lovely church with enormous high and beautifully crafted ceilings and a very good pastor who truly loves his flock and wants to be among them.  This means he stands on the floor of the sanctuary and speaks over a wireless mic.  He is by nature a very soft spoken man and sooooo..........most of the time I cannot follow the sermon at all.  I am hoping God gives points for presence.  That being week I am swallowing what is left of my pride and trying out the churches hearing system to see if that helps.  I've promised I would.

Just in general I find myself becoming more and more reluctant to interact with people because of the probable questions or easily identified signs of frustration with me because I can't hear them.  I think it has dimmed my well known over exuberant personality to a large degree.  I am still able, willing, and need to work and can in almost any setting except a busy call center or the drive through window at a fast food joint.  I have an impressive resume and all of my skills are intact.  And, with a minimum amount of accommodation I manage beautifully.  Convincing potential employers of this fact is proving difficult.

In closing, please note - I do not consider myself DEAF.   To do so would diminish the truly amazing people in the world who deal with the true deafness that makes my issues pale in comparison.  I do hear, just not well.  The deaf community are truly heroic amazing people who don't view themselves as handicapped.  I hope, they instead view themselves as truly special and wonderfully unique.  I once attended church with a deaf lady whose children were the most beautifully behaved kids I'd ever encountered.  The mere sight of her lovely fingers signing "hush", would  paralyze them in their seats much more effectively than parents who were continually having to talk to their children about their behavior.

I am lucky, very lucky, and I know it.  What I also know is that this issue is one that hearing people don't completely understand.  I believe it is easier to understand the completely deaf  than those of us on the fringe with a mild to severe impairment.  For some, a silent world is all they have ever known, but for some of us, the silence is growing by the day - and quite frankly, we are frightened.  We still want to be what we've always, engaged, and productive but a lot of that is going to depend on you to help us adapt, adjust and feel included.  I still remember my husband's dad sitting in his chair while the room resounded around him with laughter that he recognized.  But, since he hadn't heard what was said to precipitate that laughter, he felt left out.  I recognized and sympathized with his isolation in those moments.  Been there.....not heard that.

And, at the end of the day, make sure that this is a sign we all know and use a lot.  I. Love. You.