Christmas 2011 — Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, giant factories in foreign countries are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year can be different. This year Americans can give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.

It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone – well nearly everyone gets his/her hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages.

Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended recipient isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint? Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line, trying to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy OR gal?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day. So would daughter.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre. Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand foreign-made lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China or India can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

Forward this to everyone on your mailing list — post it to discussion groups — throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in your city — send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations, and TV news departments. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn’t that what Christmas is about?


Corporate Cash Manager


3960 Medina Road
Akron, Ohio 44333

330.419.1911 330.666.0711 x180 330.665.5375

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The message was checked by ESET NOD32 Antivirus.

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Midlife Crisis

I walked into my bedroom and saw my black purse on the bed, along with all the stuff that wouldn’t fit into the brown purse this morning, and thought, why did I bother?

I love my brown purse.  It’s a Coach I picked up at the thrift store for next to nothing.  I changed purses because I was wearing olive green cargo pants and a brown shirt, and I thought it would look nice.

When I got to work, I put my purse on the floor next to me.  I know, I know, “Purse on the floor, you’ll always be poor.”  I don’t have anywhere else to keep it.  The point is, no one saw my purse.

I didn’t go anywhere for lunch.  On my way home, I went to the grocery store but no one saw me.  I saw a cute guy but I was too far away to make I contact.  Hah.  Eye contact.  Freudian slip?  Anyway, it wouldn’t have mattered – I’m overweight now and he’s out of my league.  Sigh.

And now I’m home.  And wondering why I changed purses.

My black purse is really much more practical.  It’s a Coach too, a product of the same, very productive trip to the thrift store.  And it’s just as attractive.  It’s just that I really wanted to have a reason to change purses.

I don’t like being overweight.  Aging I can handle since most people think I’m in my mid-30’s, but the weight is killing me.  I’ve always been the skinny chick, but then I quit smoking.  I feel like a lump.  I can feel my ass following me around, a-RUMP to the left, a-RUMP to the right.  My breasts rest on my stomach when I lean forward.  I have a muffin top.

Actually, the aging thing IS bothering me.  Found my first gray hair today you-know-where.  My forearm looks different, I noticed the other day.  Please God, tell me those aren’t age spots.

I think I’m slipping away.  Little bits of me are leaving or becoming something else.  When some things left I didn’t notice.  Sometimes I did but didn’t care.  Now I care but I feel helpless.  When did I become such an empty shell?

Two weeks ago during the Adopt-A-Thon I went to the Humane Society to help.  When I told my friend I hoped to help with an adoption she suggested helpfully that they needed someone to cut up paper plates for feeding kitties wet food.  That kind of hurt my feelings, I wanted to tell her that my job for a long time has felt like the equivalent of cutting up paper plates but I didn’t, because she helped me get the job and I don’t want to be ungrateful.  Anyway, that’s why I wanted to do something that at least took a little brainpower.  But I didn’t.  I just loved on a bunch of cats and dutifully made notes in the socialization log.  I didn’t cut up any paper plates.

I guess my medicine is working because I don’t curl up in a ball and sleep or watch TV when I get home from work anymore.  My house is clean, the litter boxes are scooped, the dishes and laundry are done.  These are all things that I didn’t have the energy to do before.  But I still think about killing myself all the time.

I saw a video of a guy named Bud Dwyer, he was some sort of government official in Pennsylvania who got convicted on a bribery or corruption charge or something.  He called a press conference a couple days before he was supposed to go to prison and he shot himself through the mouth.

He died so quickly that I started thinking maybe that would be the way to go.  I looked up another video of a guy who got arrested and the police didn’t search him so they didn’t find the gun in his waistband.  After the cop walked out of the interview room the guy sat for a minute and then he took the gun out and shot himself in the temple.  He died right away too.  It looks pretty painless.

I pretty much know I’ll do it someday.  My medication always plateaus and I end up worse off than before.  I promised my mom I wouldn’t so I’ll have to wait till she’s gone.  I don’t know, maybe I won’t have the courage.  The thing is, it takes more courage to stay.  It HURTS.  I am screaming on the inside every day like that Edvard Munch illustration.  I’m just going through the motions, but I can’t keep doing it.   I’m becoming what I was always most scared of being – worker bee, a drone, but I still have my brain.  I can’t turn it off and be a happy little bee.

I know I’m not the only one to wonder if there is a meaning to life.  I know I’m not the only one who feels like I live to work and work to live.  But it doesn’t help to know I’m not alone.  I tell myself that I have to find pleasure in the small things, and I try, but almost nothing gives me pleasure anymore.  My cats, I love them dearly, and they are probably the reason I’ve made it this long – but they don’t really give me pleasure.

Everything that makes me me is gone.  And I just don’t get the point.  Why change purses?

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A Wonderful Day in the NEIGHborhood

It was a nice day to die.  One really couldn’t ask for much better.

It was sunny, which wasn’t unusual for Arizona, but it wasn’t so hot we couldn’t breathe.  Plus we were all sitting under my tree – the tree I later killed when I fenced the yard and redirected the flood irrigation.  That day, however, it was full of soft green leaves that sheltered us like an umbrella from the seemingly innocent rays.

We brought Gitano down as gently as we could.  He didn’t object much – it was hard for him to stand anyway.  His head in my lap, he blew softly and looked up at me with trusting, but tired eyes.  This beautiful, broken black stallion had been in enormous pain for a very long time; but that would be over soon.  As my vet readied the things in her bag that would end his misery, I thought about the day I found him.

That was a nice day, too.  I’d just moved to the ancient (by Arizona’s standards), shabby (by anybody’s standards) rural subdevelopment plopped into southwest Phoenix like an off-center doughnut hole and was eagerly exploring my new/old neighborhood.  A neighbor gave me permission to go see his horses out back in a line of pole stalls.

I petted his horses to my heart’s content and drank in the wonderful smell of hay and manure and leather.  As I made my way down the row, I noticed a dark, covered box stall at the end.  I thought it was empty – it wasn’t.  A horse lay on his side, ribs and hips jutting from his hide like poles under a tent.  I thought he was dead.

He wasn’t, but he had foundered.  He could barely stand, much less walk, and it appeared that when he could no longer reach his food his caretakers simply quit feeding him.  Shocked, and in tears, I ran home, filled a wheelbarrow with hay, and rushed back across the street.

To my surprise, the horse stood up when he smelled the hay and gingerly made his way over to the wheelbarrow.  He could have stayed down and eaten; it seemed he was trying to tell me he wanted out of there, and I was happy to oblige, so I backed up, taking the wheelbarrow with me, and he followed.

The Day I Found Him

It took three days to get Gitano, for that was his name, home to my house; two just to get him down the driveway and across the street to my next-door neighbor’s house.  No one, not even the tenant on the property, dared question my taking him.  I slept in the bed of my pickup next to him at night, and on the third day, I found a vet to come to my house and nerve block his feet so he could walk the last 30 yards up my driveway.

He Was So Skinny

The vet said he weighed about 500 pounds; half what he should.  She called a farrier who trimmed Gitano’s poor hooves as safely as he could, and for the next six weeks, we showered the poor creature with food, water and medicine.  I applied my vet’s special ointment to the bloody pressure sores on his coat, bought special boots to soak his feet, and blankets and fly masks and supportive leg wraps to protect him from the flies that hovered like little vultures.

Gitano was such a trooper.  He put up with everything we did, and he tried to get better.  I tried, my vet tried, my farrier tried, the little kids in my neighborhood tried – everybody tried to get him healthy.  In the end, however, as he gained weight, his ruined feet could no longer support his body; the healthier he got, the more he suffered; the worst kind of Catch-22.

Getting Better

So on that nice Arizona day, I gazed down at this gentle, damaged creature and stroked his velvety muzzle.  I looked around at “Team Gitano,” gathered together to ease him on his final journey.

We were a motley crew.  The tall, thin, blonde racetrack vet, who specialized in elegant Thoroughbreds and the elegant people who owned and trained them.  Me, in pigtails, overalls and work boots; a city girl growing up fast in the reality of ranch life.  And the brown faces of the Mexican and Guatemalan neighborhood kids and a couple moms, perched on top of the irrigation berm in my front yard.  One of the moms, from a small village in Mexico, was surprised to find herself crying.  She and her husband weren’t as sentimental about animals as I was.  Still, she wiped away tears.

My vet asked me if I was ready.  I said yes.

She explained to us that the injection she was about to give Gitano would stop his heart and he would die instantly, but that he might move or make sounds.  She wanted to make sure we all understood that he was not in pain, not suffering.  We nodded, and she inserted the needle into his vein and pushed the plunger.

He hardly moved.  He murmured a little, and then his head seemed to get heavier in my lap.  Everybody was sobbing now, even my vet.  The kids gave him tentative goodbye pets, a little scared by the whole thing.  We closed his eyes.

My vet packed her things, hugged me and told me she was going to find me another horse.  She did, too – a huge bay gelding, a Thoroughbred who couldn’t race anymore but who followed me around like a big brown doggie.

She also remained my vet, taking care of my new horse but, of course, our relationship was more than one might expect of a professional and her client.  We were friends bound together by twin tragedies – the terrible day we brought Gitano home and the nice day we killed him.

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Open Letter to My Friend’s Son

So I talked to your dad last night and found out your trial’s been continued, and you’re both about at the end of your rope. Stressful, I get that. But you’re the stupid spoiled brat who got himself into this mess and now you’re taking it out on your dad, who is not only paying for your not-inconsiderable-legal bills, but also supporting you financially, even arranging for you to have a place to stay.  How old are you now – mid ’20s?

You are a stupid ungrateful fuck and if I was still in Phoenix or if I could get out there for one day I would smack you in the face. Your dad has given you everything and now realizes his mistake. You were the golden boy and had it way too easy, because your dad thought he could spare you some of what he went through growing up – go a little easier on you than your dad did on him.

What did you do? You flunked out of college, tried and failed at several businesses, and then topped it off by getting accused of a crime you may or may not have committed – you were so drunk at the time you probably don’t even know if you did it. You have never really had to face adversity before – how do you react now? By picking a fight in a public place surrounded by your father’s friends, going after him, and then trashing his house.

You are a stupid fuck, and I want to hit you. Grow the fuck up.

(Woke up mad, needed to express myself, started new blog – here I go.)

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Find Your Way Back

I know that’s the name of a Jefferson Starship (or is it Airplane?) song, but I think it’s appropriate right now as I look at the 27 tabs open in my browser. I’m trying to remember what it was I was looking for. Does that ever happen to you?

OK, now I remember. I was job hunting, hoping to land a position as an executive assistant after having been in the legal secretarial field for the past few years. I found a link to The Executive Assistant’s Toolbox, an EA’s blog full of career advice, organizational and time management tips, etc.

After sort-of paying attention to a free 30-minute webinar (actually a webcast, since the webinar was held a week or so ago) about Virtual Meetings, I found a link to Steve Pavlina’s website promoting personal development. This guy was pretty impressive, with a great article about How to Become an Early Riser (aaarrrgh, mornings – my personal demon). I was so impressed with his site I started reading some of his articles about Site Build It!, a business that helps people to start their own websites and helps them every step of the way. Five zillion links later, I was suitably impressed and thinking maybe this is what I need – instead of a job, I should start my own blog. But what to write about?

My friends think I’m a cat whisperer, my critics think I’m the crazy old cat lady, yeah, you get the picture. So I did a couple very preliminary searches to see what was already out there – cat sites, cat help, cat blog – and after wasting a delightful hour reading about Mancat, I’m thinking, OK, maybe I can do this. So I click on the orange “B” at the top of Mancat’s page to check out what is obviously some sort of blogging service and what do I see?

I’m Blondie

My blog. God only knows when I signed up for it, but I already have a blog. Just never wrote one. So here it is. I guess I found my way back.

(2008 – first blog post ever, transferred from Blogger to my new blog)

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