Saturday, October 29, 2005

People can be so funny
Should I laugh or cry? In our town, We have a mandate to construct affordable housing. Affordable housing is defined as being affordable by the average salaried person in town. We have affordable housing. It's those little houses that you see developers buy and then tear down. The land is a good location. Maybe they can get two houses on the lot, or a double or an apartment building...I sell each apartment separately, greedy bastard. So the developer tears down the little house that has worked just fine for over 40 years and puts up a McMansion . The house is so big, that there is little land around it. The house is so big that the poor neighbors have this big house shadow thrown over their house. It blocks the morning sun. The builder doesn't care. He gets the house built, sells it for a fortune and disappears.
And the buyer? They take out an "interest only" loan so they can play lord of the manor. The heat bills come in. It is so expensive, they turn their heat down to just above freezing. Their hope is the value of the house will rise so fast that they can turn the house over for a profit. They forgot closing costs. They forget they have no equity in the house. The increase in salary they expected, did not come through. Soon they learn they can't afford to keep the house. The house goes back on the market and the cycle repeats itself.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the state government puts the screws to our town. Build affordable housing. More builders come. They propose to build a high density construct / development that totally ruins the neighborhood. They propose that a percent of the buildings will be affordable housing. Planning and Zoning turn the builder down. Builder comes back with another plan. He has the same plan as last time, only He knocked off a few houses. Planning and Zoning turn him down. Builder sues. Town loses every time. The high density parcel is built and the lovely neighborhood is destroyed , lost. Why can't We just leave the original small houses in place and call them affordable housing? We are losing our Colonial heritage to ugliness.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My childhood friend in Buffalo sent me this via e-mail. Nostalgia is good for the soul once in a while...looking back to measure how far We've come. The following is from someone who remembers life before world war 2: I don't know who wrote it. I've made adjustments to the original.
If you lived as a child in the 40s, 50.s, 60.s or 70.s, looking back, it's hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have. As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a truck on a warm day was always a special treat.
Our beds were painted with bright colored lead-based paint. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cupboards, and we rode our bikes with no helmets.
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. We would spend hours building go-carts and forts and play in the empty lot on our block. We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back home when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. No mobile phones.
We got cut and broke bones from falling out of trees . There were no law suits from these accidents. They were accidents. No one was to blame but us and our stupidity.
We had fights and punched each other and got black and blue and learned to get over it and learned to get along with each other. We played games in the street, drew with chalk on the sidewalk, played hide and seek, mother may I, red light green light.
We are a lot of sugar, bread and butter, and drank soda drinks filled with artificial coloring, but were never overweight because We were always outside playing. We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one died from this. We bought a bottle of pop from the corner store. It came in a glass bottle, not plastic. At the fair, dad bought us an all day sucker. We licked it all day, guaranteeing that our teeth was exposed to sugar for 18 hours straight.
We did not have Playstations, nintendo, X-Boxes, video games, mobile phones, personal computers, internet chat rooms. We had friends, use of the public library, the swimming pool in the park and our bikes.
We went outside and found our friends. We rode bikes together, or roller skated with clamp on skates or just walked. At the friend's home, We knocked on the door, rung the bell, or just walked in. Imagine such a thing. Without asking a parent! No arranged play date. By ourselves. Out there in the cold cruel world. Without a guardian.
We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and junk in the vacant lot.
Ball games had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't , had to learn to deal with disappointment.
Some students weren't as smart as others so they failed a grade and were held back to repeat the same grade. Tests were not adjusted for any reason. There was no social promotion and self esteem wasn't even a concept. We learned the times tables by drilling and drilling. We studied geography and handwriting, current events and history. We practiced writing and our spelling was corrected. We memorized stuff that was required to be recited aloud in front of the class. We dressed neatly in school.Girls wore dresses. Lunch came to school with us in a brown paper bag. Respect and politeness was required in dealing with authority.
Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. No one to hide behind. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we did something wrong, was unheard of. They actually sided with the law. My parents told me that if I did anything wrong and was punished at school, when I got home, I would get it again.
This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years has been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility and we learned how to deal with it all. I am so sorry for the current crop of kids. They missed the real fun.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Rainy day. Dampness and grey skies. A good day for indoor projects. Why are there so many roadblocks? My landscape service mowed my lawn in the rain and did a bad haircut job on the lawn. It looks terrible. Called the people pursuing their mortgage prior to making a bid on my house. They didn't get approved. I am so sorry because they are lovely people, so excited about moving to Orange Connecticut. Well, there is all ways lunch. Wrong. Both girlfriends called and cancelled. No one wants to go out in dreary weather. ...and..... it looks like my across the street neighbors, who said they would be over today....will not be over today.....and....did not call, either.
Continue packing boxes for my move? Don't want to move my stuff in the rain in an open truck. Have half my rugs shampooed. Finish the job? Too damp. They'll never dry. Checked the movies....nothing I want to see. It's a good day for junk food and a cheap "who done it" book. At least my dog loves me.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What a busy day. Moved some fragile stuff in the truck. Got a call from a young lady who saw my ad on Craig's List for the Queen size bed from the in-law apartment. I think I sold the bed. One down.
Then the setbacks: the man who cuts my lawn and promised to do some work in my garden for me, did not show up. Strike one. I called the financial advisor of the people who are buying my house. He tells me the people He represents, have no down payment. They are trying to borrow the entire amount to purchase the house. I suspect this one will not go through. Strike two. The across the street neighbor called to arrange another showing of the house they hope to rent from me. His room mate wants a walk through. No problem. Then C. says He wants to stay in the in-law apartment. Red flag. I showed him the apartment when it had been raining for 7 days straight. There was water on the floor. I was up front to say I would not put anything in those rooms except outdoor lawn furniture because it gets wet down there. He wasn't fazed by this at all. In fact, C. said that he wanted that part of the house for his quarters. From my experience with this house, I know that his personal affects will be ruined by the humidity in the summer. This is one of the trade offs from living on the beach, well, across the street from the beach. I like C. He is a nice young man. I would feel awful if his things get ruined in my house. This situation might be a deal breaker. Strike three.
Some good things did happen. At the Park Circle house, my neighbor came across the street. We ended up going out for brunch. Next chore was to go to the Derby Turnpike house and pull a trailer out of the ground cover. It is not good enough for a restoration, but to leave it there would be a trip hazard. B. came in the car with me. Together We pulled the trailer out and transported it to Park Circle. Junk can be so interesting.
D. called me from Fort Lauderdale. I was trying to get in touch with her to lend her emotional support because of the hurricane. She returned my call. D. has back pain, is scheduled to be hospitalized for a back treatment...right in the middle of the time the hurricane is expected to hit Ft. Lauderdale. She goes through this every year....the hurricane season, I mean. Poor lady. D. is my oldest friend. We've been friends since I was 4 and D. was 3 years old. We lost touch for a while, so it is wonderful that We are back in touch. Her brother, R, has rented her apartment, so she has family near by. R . is an excellent cook. D. told me that R. was making a roast beef and yorkshire pudding dinner for them. I told D. I had just finished a Hungry Man TV dinner and I was jealous of their dinner. Love to all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

My neighbor came to tour my house the other day. The house they are renting is up for sale. The price the owner is asking is rediculous, but it is directly on the water, so sooner or later, some idiot will pay over a million for a piece of property about 40 feet wide with a dump of a house on it. My neighbors have lived across the street from me for about 20 years. They are friendly ....good neighbors. I will hate to see them go.
At the same time, I have a house for sale in the next town. I put a lot of work into it, so it was a hard decision to sell it. It is adjacent to a golf course, on a half acre of trees, with a little stream running across the back corner of the lot. I rented it for a while. After having to go through housing court two times to get the tenant out, I decided it is time to sell this house.
Since the house is not my primary residence, I will have to pay capital gains to the government. My accountant advised me that if I moved into the house for a while, I could make it my primary residence and save, at least partially, capital gains. I agreed it was a good idea.
But what of my real primary residence? I don't want to sell the house on Melba Street. I will never get another chance to have a house on the water...well, across the street from the water.
Eureka, an idea! I will rent my Melba Street house to my neighbors .
Since I have a truck, I will move myself except for the heavy furniture. The appliances stay in place. No moving washer and dryer, etc. The packing of boxes has begun. When I have a truck load, I move the stuff out of the house. Over and over I move stuff out of the house. When I return to Melba Street, it looks like nothing was taken out. Where did all that "stuff" come from? Twenty eight years of living in one place means accumulation of a lot of things.
Some things were saved because of the memories attached. In spite of the sentimentality, some things must be discarded. Do I really need my professional wardrobe, now that I am retired? Do I need that extra queen size bed in the basement? Four work benches? Four desks and a typing stand? How many sets of glasses do I need to drink out of? How many dishes and pots? Three sewing machines? How did I accumulate so many blankets and sheet sets? I have more towels than I can fit into the linen closet.
The extra furniture is the result of marrying a man later in life who owned the other houses. They came furnished. I inherited Bob's furniture, his parent's furniture and by gosh, some of his grandparent's furniture. Over the past 10 years, I've sold off some, gave some away, donated some to charity, and threw out a lot of trash. Stuff sitting around for a long time picks up a lot of dirt. I did a lot of cleaning so things looked OK for a garage sale...and another garage sale...and another one last summer.
There is a bid coming in for my house for sale. They are pursuing a mortgage. Hold the plans to move in. All that work is not worth it if I am only staying a month or two. Plan B says I move into the Park Circle house that was Bob's before I married him. ..and pay the capital gains tax. I don't want to lose the sale of the house to avoid paying taxes.
The moving of boxes continues, but they go into the Park Circle house. I hope the mortgage application goes through all right, because the house location is just right for the applicants. I hope my neighbors decide to move across the street and get out of their dumpy house, yet still enjoy the beach they have grown to love. I hope I survive moving.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Things Remembered: June 9, 2000

When I was little, I could fit under the bushes. I hid under the berry bushes and picked berries. One by one I ate them warm from the sun, ripened on the bush. I ate all I could find. This secret place, safely hidden from the too big world, was just right for a three year old. Safe and cradled in nature's bower. In sun dress with crossed straps and sandles without socks, secure to return to the family which waited my return.
When I was older, I smelled the fragrance of lilacs. How I loved their fragrance. I picked armfulls and put the blossoms in a vase in my room, then closed the door and went away. When I returned, I opened to the scent of lilacs. The lilac season wasn't long enough. I was too big to sit under the lilacs and too busy. Mom wanted housework done, and there was schoolwork. Schedules prevented me from lounging under the lilac bush.
I am dismissed now. My daughters are grown. They no longer need me. No husband, no dog. Both dead. Dismissed from my job. Downsized, they said. I am cut lose from responsibility to other people and to schedules. This takes getting used to.
Retired. Time for a garden of my own. I planted lilacs. (Berry bushes will come next.) After the heavenly wave of the scent, I prune the spent stems and shape the bush, remembering those times long ago when one bush was a house for a child. As I prune, I let the pieces fall. To pick them up, I kneal beneath the bush.
The Road: When I was born, I was at the start of the road. There were many other people with me. They were a little farther up the road. Some were way, way up the road, but they were still in my life. I liked them all. We walk down the road on a beautiful warm summer day. There may be holes and rocks in the road, or perhaps the way is straight, view is beautiful. Whatever we need, We can gather it as We travel. If someone stumbles, the others are there to help. Those ahead, call out to those behind, as a teacher who has learned something that is of value and wants to share it to those traveling behind. We leave legacies by the side of the road for others behind us to find and to enjoy.
Now I am further down the road. Some of the people that were ahead of me, have traveled over the crest of the hill. They are out of sight to me. More and more of them are out of sight. I am distressed to see that there are fewer and fewer people traveling along with me. Even my loving dog, who traveled with me for thirteen years, has gove ahead, over the crest of the hill. Those who have gone ahead, never turn around and come back.
I am thankful that new people travel with me for a little while. They come in from side branches. We walk a ways, talk a bit. Then, their road veers off away from mine and we part ways. The shadows are growing long. The sun, once overhead, is now low on the horizon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I did not write the following editorial. However I was an Early Childhood Educator and raised two daughters of my own. When I read the following, it sounded right on. It is reproduced here because I don't want it to be forgotten. Teens: please read and consider
Advice for teens on parent handling, by Heff Herring in the Connecticut Post, May 21, 2002
Here are seven principles of Care and Feeding of parents along with an application for each principle.
The Truth : Parents have confirmed this with me over and over for more than 20 years: Mom and Dad would rather know the truth about something up front - no matter how horrible it may be - - than to find out later they have been lied to and conned. When parents know the truth, they can deal with what is real, and things don't get as confusing .
Application. Tell the truth, whatever it is. You may have to take some heat, especially if you are coming clean. The benefit is that now there are more brains working on whatever problems you are facing.
Trust : Trust in a family is like tokens in a video game room. In a video game place, the more tokens you have, the more games you can play. In a family, the more trust you have, the more you are able to do. The more deposits you can make into your parent's "trust bank", the more and more you will be able to be in charge of your self.
Application: "Is what I'm doing going to build trust or break trust?" When trust is broken, begin the repair job right away. It's a fair bet that you have lived with these people for a few years and know what they need to see in order to build trust.
Nag, Nag, Nag, : I've rarely if ever seen a situation where one person was nagging without the other person being irresponsible in some way. If you think your parents are nagging you, look for places where you may have been irresponsible in some way. I can guarantee you this: Parents do not sit up late at night thinking things like,"OK, what can I find to nag them about tomorrow?" As anyone who has ever done it can tell you, nagging is no fun.
Application: Pick something your parents have been nagging you about. Figure out how to get out in front of the situation by taking care of it --doing the chore, whatever--before they can even mention it. If nothing else, the shock and confusion on their faces will be worth it.
Perspective : If you're 16, unless you have a very incredible memory and can remember all the way back to the womb, it's a safe bet you have about a 13 to 14 year perspective on life. Your parents, on the other hand, have been watching you your entire life and, if they try real hard, can even remember life before you. That's why it's sometimes difficult for them to see you as a teen becoming a young adult instead of seeing you as a child.
Application: Give them some room when it feels as if they are treating you like a child. Negotiate with them. Remember, they are just showing the love they have for you.
The Ws: The more trust you have, the more you can do. The more of a certain type of structure you have, the more freedom you will have. Parents want to know the Ws: Who you are going to be with. What you will be doing. Where you will be. When you will be home. Instead of seeing this as an intrusive, controlling pain, try looking at it as a ticket to more freedom. If you consistently supply your parents with this information, the more and more you'll be able to do.
Application: When you approach your parents about going out with friends, supply them with the W's - as many as you know - before they ask. Surprising, even positively shocking your parents, can be fun.
A Resource: Because your folks have lived longer than you have, they have had a few more life experiences. They are a wealth of information on how to do some of the tasks of life. They might even be a resource on how not to do some. Use them. Pick their brains. Everyone likes to feel as if they have some wisdome to impart.
Application: As you look for / apply for a job, buy a car, learn about relationships, etc., ask your parents for tips about what to do and not do, say and not say, etc.
Information: For better or worse, parents have this curious little habit of being interested in your life. If you are not sharing much with them, they will ask questions. Which sets up this wonderful little family scene:
Parent: "How was school today?"
Teen: "Fine."
Parent: "What did you do today?"
Teen: "Nothing."
Parent: "Oh, c'mon, you must have done something!"
Irritation, yelling and slamming of doors not far behind.
Application: The way to avoid this unpleasant scenario is to look for something in your day that you can share with your parents. Like the anti-nagging technique, this one allows you to get out in front of something before it becomes a problem.
nuff said.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Guardian Angel Request:

I have made a deal with my Guardian Angel. There are some mysteries I would like cleared up. Now seems not the time. However, after my death, no longer bound by time and space, I want some answers.

I want to go back and look at my family, to see myself as a baby, as a small child and look at my interactions with family. I want to see my her formed the contorted way she is today. What happened to make us the way we are?

I mourn lost opportunities to talk to my elders....people who died when I was too young to know them as peers. I want to see my Aunt Jen and see her life. How did she keep house? What about her school teaching years? Years as a housekeeper for a farmer? What about her private self, her worries and her pleasures? I want to understand the times she lived in. It is too late for me to interview my great uncle Martin Mohr. Perhaps I can watch him paint decorative finishes on furniture and learn how He did it, smell the turpentine, see the house once again as it was long time ago, hear my Aunt Rose play the piano, get her recipe for ketchup.

I want to see my parents as children. I want to see my grandparents as parents, as adults coping with their lives. I want to see them coming and going in their houses, greeting other relatives, baking bread, starching clothes.

I want to experience again, those lovely times when things are new, when my ears worked perfectly, joints moved effortlessly, taste buds were fresh, nose clear. I want to see those summer thundershowers at the lake when worms crawled over the sidewalks to keep from drowning. Once more I want to gather hailstones and watch them melt in a glass.

If I could, I would go back to my world in World War 2. I would review life without television, only radio. There was no insult of noise on the streets, no roar of traffic, lawn mowers, leaf blowers. Wouldn't it be wonderful to hear the man getting off the streetcar, home from work, whistling as He walked home? How nice to see my parents, in complete silence, reading books for recreation. I want to visit the corner store once more for ice cream or a candy bar.

Once more, I, to go down in the basement to see my father grinding crystals for his radio set, watching movies on a sheet hung from the ceilings, listening once more to his explanation about magnetism and astronomy, radio waves, and that there are fossils in the coal bin. Yes there are. I found them.....leaf prints.

Oh, to see my children as babies again, to have those memories replayed. Melanie as a one year old, taking a walk on Matty Ave., saying to herself, "Take a walk. Take a walk."

Beth, in her blue sweater, playing at the front door, squatting down to see a bug. I want to hold them again....pouring love over them....holding them for a long time before I let them go. I want my parents to hold me as I hold me and to hold me, until I have had enough touching. I was never held enough....still hungry for a hug.

Unbounded by distances, I want to visit nebula and star systems, peek in at other cultures on inhabited worlds. I would visit a planet unspoiled by human footprint or human exploitation. I would soar between the trees, leaving no mark, talking to the life forms ther, singing with their birds, swimming with their fishes, delighting in the air and sunshine in perfect harmony with nature. Even the apple blossoms filled with the joy of the manifestation of life, laugh and giggle.

The sorrow of getting older is saying goodbye to people I have loved. My world is emptying, too fast, too fast. My losses are not only people, but of events and circumstances. Which job did I gladly leave? None of them. Each one dissolved under me for reasons outside my control....a transfer out of state, grant money drying up, corporate decision to downsize. It took me 24 years to adjust to leaving leave my little green house and Syracuse Friends anchors in a gray life.

Oh, if my life were longer, I would return to teaching young children, return to the Hartford Loss Control Department, have the same peers, have the same challenges and satisfactions. I would need another life to spend in quiet artistic paint, sketch, make music. Grant me yet another lifetime devoted to becoming a musician and composer for the purpose of gifting the world with musical harmony.

Perhaps this is small of me, but I want those who hurt me, to be in my place and experience what they did to me. Let them feel the terror, fear, stress, shame, hurt, abandonment they imposed upon me. Let them cry my tears of hopelessness. Perhaps in this way, they will learn to be more kind.

Dear Guardian Angel, what shall I do with my time left on this earth? Pray, it shall not be spent waiting to die. Pray this time shall not be spent coping with ill health and reduced circumstances, diminishing financial resources.....would it be spent in the company of nurturing, loving, supportive people, busy with joyful activity.

December 1, 2001