Archive for May, 2014

Doin’ the Spider Dance at Midnight

I suddenly realized about midnight that my White Rock hens were not locked up and, more importantly, I had no feed in the pen for when they wake in the morning. After the eggs are laid for the day sometime in the late afternoon (these girls are late layers rather than early layers), I open the gate to their pen to allow them to roam free and dine on weeds and bugs. I forgot to lock my hens up safely for the night a couple weeks ago, and one disappeared. All that was left was a few white feathers. Since a red fox lives in the wooded patch directly in front of us, I fear that my large, gentle hen was the dinner guest of honor in a fox den.

I grumped my way outside to get a scoop of feed. Inside the pen, three ducks had decided to spend the night as well. The three of them would eat as much as a whole pen of White Rocks, so I was chasing them around to try to get them out. They didn’t WANT to go out. They wanted to stay inside and eat. As I was chasing the ducks out, I ran face first into a spider web.

Did I mention my spider phobia?

I went into my full rehearsal for Dancing With the Spastics. I was jumping around, brushing off my face, waving my hands, and screaming “getitoffmegetitoffmegetitoffme”. The chickens started squawking loud distress cries because whatever scared me, they wanted no part of. I can see their point. If, for example, I was being held captive by a giant human-eating T. Rex that suddenly, in the middle of feeding my village their rations for the next day, started doing a frenzied screaming dance all over the food, I’d probably be perturbed as well. Then the beam of light from the flashlight that I still held in one hand crossed my vision at about chest level, and I saw it. Apparently this spider was some sort of Special Forces golden orb spider, for it was grimly and determinedly climbing that web attached across my face, and was heading straight up to my nose. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!! That spastic dance with weird gesticulations got shifted into overdrive. I added leaps and pirouettes. The spider fell almost the ground, then started climbing again. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! More leaps, pirouettes, and waving motions. I nearly took my own nose off with the flashlight as I was slapping at the spider. Eventually the spider decided that maybe it should abandon the biggest fly it had ever caught in its web, and make its way to safety.

I suppose I better go strip, burn my clothing, and take another shower just to be sure its gone.

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Two More Weeks to Granddaughter #3!

Tuesday was a wonderful day! It was the sort of spring day that made you happy to be alive. It was the sort of day to run nekkid through the yard chasing butterflies in the breeze. You’ll be happy to know that I resisted the urge to run nekkid through the yard out of consideration for the neighbors, but it was difficult. Plus, the yellow flies are beginning to buzz about, and there are places where I’d prefer not to have the painful, itchy bites. That was actually more of a deterrent than the neighbor sensibilities, come to think of it.

I washed laundry and hung it on the line to dry. I fed livestock. I washed breakfast dishes, then vacuumed the house. After all those chores were done, I allowed myself to have fun. I went to the beach. I went to thrift stores looking for clothes for granddaughter #3. I tried calling a friend to meet me for lunch, but she was still in Germany. (How long can you stay in Germany, anyway? Come home so I don’t drink Margaritas alone! Geez! Why do I have to be the poor friend? Oh, right. Unemployment.) I met another friend when I was at a nursery looking at things to plant and kill, and we talked right there between the plants for over two hours, taking up real estate and parking, and finally each of us ended up buying a couple bags of of dirt that was on clearance for half off. DEFINITELY chalk that up to a loss in the retail column for that establishment.

I called my husband to find out what type of dead meat he’d like to have charred on the grill that night for dinner. “I’b so siiiiick! Just get me sub soup from the Chinese place.” Well. That was easy! Then I realized that I hadn’t talked to my daughter about her after-work doctor’s appointment, so I called to see how that was going.

“I guess you haven’t talked to dad!” she said. “But when I called, he sounded like he was out of it.”

“Yeah, he has some kinda near lethal killer cold virus. Probably MERS!” I told her. “I’m trying to avoid being in the same room with him if at all possible because I don’t want to be sick when Lila is born.”

“Then he didn’t mention I was in the hospital?”

“WHAAAAAAAAAT?” I dunno, you would think that he would mention such a thing about his only daughter, but I suppose he was too busy contemplating his own mortality and the prospect of dying from a cold virus four days before school was out for the summer. Don’t get me wrong, that would suck, but still. I’d have to speed over to the other side of town to care for Zoe, Dylan, and Jacob should she get an emergency c-section, too.

“Yeah, I was having contractions that I didn’t even feel at the doctor’s office so they put me in the hospital. Hopefully they’ll stop because I need my paycheck plus I get five paid days off over Memorial Day weekend (including the weekend) AND I WANT MY VACATION, DAMNIT!”

So, the contractions stopped. She went home. People where she works are scared to death the baby is just going to rip its way out of her tummy and start screaming something like “FEED ME, Seymour!” because her belly, after five pregnancies, needs its own zipcode. She intends to work through the day before delivery, but I dunno.

So, today I’ve been sitting inside near the phone for half the day, waiting to see what happened at this doctor’s appointment. They’ll do measurements and guesstimate her (Lila’s!) weight and gestational age again. I was getting alarmed that I hadn’t heard anything because it’s nearly 11:30 a.m. I was worried about going outside to hang up another load of laundry to dry in case I miss her call. I haven’t even vacuumed or ran the dishwasher. Then I realized that this is THURSDAY. Her appointment is FRIDAY.

D’oh.

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Just a Few More Doctor Appointments

I’m sitting around in the house waiting for the results of daughter’s latest obstetrics appointment. I don’t want to get too far away from the phone.

During her first pregnancy, toward the end, I was to meet her for some last-minute shopping and to go to lunch. She had a morning appointment, so I was to wait for her at her house. An hour past the time we were supposed to meet, I went to her doctor’s office, because I figured that she had a long wait because the doctor had an emergency, but she wasn’t there. I went back to her house. She wasn’t there. She didn’t have a cell phone. I went back to the doctor’s office to ask about her. “Yes, she had had an appointment this morning, but she left.” I raced back home and checked the answering machine there. Nothing. I raced back to the doctor’s office before they closed so that I could find out exactly what time she checked out. They wouldn’t tell me anything. Patient privacy. I got back to the house again and SwampMan was there. “I was just on the phone with SwampDaughter’s employer!” he announced before I could say anything. “She was admitted to the hospital from her doctor’s appointment, and she couldn’t call long distance from the phone. She was finally able to call her work and they called us.” Preeclampsia. She was pretty sick, but Jacob arrived in good shape via C-section.

So you see why I have a tendency to freak out toward the end of her pregnancies.

Dylan and Zoe arrived over the course of time without too much drama. Then preeclampsia re-emerged with her fourth pregnancy, and baby boy died over the weekend of her grandfather’s funeral.

This (fifth) pregnancy is being followed as a high risk pregnancy, with doctor visits twice a week during the last month and careful baby monitoring.

She had an appointment this morning before going in to work, so I watched the clock. When I hadn’t heard from her, I called her cell phone to make sure she was okay. No answer. A few minutes later, she called from work. “Hey, you called?” “Yeah, I was calling to see if it was safe to go work outside!” I told her. “How’s the appointment this time?”

“Uh, not until tomorow.”

Blink. “I thought your appointments were Monday and Friday!”

“Well, not this week. This week, it will be Tuesday and Friday.”

“Okay. I’ll go outside then.”

“Mom, seriously, you need to stop worrying!”

Yes. I’ll get right on that “stop worrying” thing. I would say that I’d stop worrying right around when I drew my final breath, but somehow I expect that I’ll be a ghost hanging about anxiously just out of visual range shouting “No! Do NOT hold anybody’s beer and watch that! Stop that this very minute!”

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Interviewing Attorneys

My son is being screwed by the state about child support AGAIN. What is he doing wrong? He’s complying with his court order.

Apparently the state now wants all child support to be funneled through them. They’ve seized his bank account and all the (considerable) funds in it. They seized his $4,000 tax refund and gave it directly to his ex-wife. “But he’s not behind!” she protested. “Take the money and keep your mouth shut!” she was advised. She did. Son was pissed, because he was planning on putting a new roof on his house with that money. He was also pissed because she was complaining about extra expenses with her husband and THEIR three children, so he was paying extra. And she took his $4,000 and didn’t bother mentioning it to him. Or me. Or her husband, who found out and was quite angry about it. He called my son and told him, which is how he found out that the state had seized his federal tax return. He didn’t bother filing his taxes this year.

His court order says that he must pay her the stated amount weekly. He does. He usually pays more. He has it direct deposited directly to her account every Friday because he works 12 to 16 hour days, often seven days per week, and he no longer has a banking account to send her checks from. He’s never gotten a court order to do otherwise, like pay the state a weekly fee to administer the child support, plus the child support, plus pay the company a fee for taking the child support out of the check.

Now they’re taking away his driver’s license and all his permits and registrations.

“You better call them!” I told him.

“Mom, I can’t! I’ve tried and tried. Nobody ever answers the phone. It’s all automated, and it cuts you off.”

I tried to call them. It was automated. It told me all agents were busy. It told me to go to a website. It cut me off. I tried to call several times. I spent over an hour doing it. I never got to speak to a person about why they were doing this and what legal basis there was for it since my son was in compliance with his court order. (If he wasn’t, I’d hear directly immediately from the former DIL.) Son does not have access to the internet. He used to, but he is home so little that he cancelled his land line and internet access. For going online, you need a case number. He doesn’t have one. He’s screwed.

The last time he went through this with the state of Florida child support enforcement, he told them to send the order to his company to get child support payments taken out. That was over a year ago. His company can’t take out child support payments because they have no order to do so and nobody to pay it to.

I told son I tried to go online, but I got nowhere because I had no case number. I told son that that was fruitless as well. “Welcome to my world!” he sighed.

So, I’m currently interviewing attorneys. A consultation starts at @ $250 but the ones that I’m talking with do not have any openings for two weeks. How messed up is a system that requires a person who has done nothing wrong, who is complying with court-ordered child support payments as per the court order, to spend thousands of dollars to prove that he is doing exactly what he’s supposed to do? This is not right.

Son called me again. “Mom, I guess I’m going to just have to lose my license. The day I’m supposed to meet with child support enforcement and pay the money that I don’t owe to keep from losing my license and truck registration and anything else they can think of, I’ve been ordered by my company to be on the other side of the state.”

I looked at the phone. “Son, you drive their company truck.”

“I know.”

“Are they aware that, if you do not show up, that they will have an unlicensed driver hauling their employees around?”

“They know.”

“Well, okay then.”

*sigh*

They’ll probably also put out an order for his arrest.

His girlfriend drives his truck when he’s out of town to keep the battery charged, etc. And he’s always out of town. I hope that they don’t arrest her for driving a truck with a suspended registration.

In the meantime, I’m sitting here waiting for a call back from an attorney’s office in town. I think I’ll go ahead and take him off my list.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

I will be spending Mother’s Day with my mother and brother. We (brother and I) had planned to take her out for dinner, but she told me to be early because she had a little shopping to do first. At Walmart. And Lowe’s. And some other stores.

My mother will price compare at 25 stores, then come back to the one with the best deal.

Pray for my brother. He has been working with the flu this week while undergoing hepatitis treatment, and he REALLY hates shopping. Poor baby.

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Glasses Repair Kits

I always recommend that people such as myself that are blind as bats without eyeglasses keep a glasses repair kit on hand for the inevitable glasses emergencies that always, ALWAYS occur when the optometry shop is closed. Plus, since I have to navigate via echolocation when my glasses are broken, it wouldn’t be a good idea to drive there to begin with. That whole white cane tapping out the window for the curb would probably be off putting, and I would have to go through some traffic lights.

Unfortunately, glasses repair kits are SMALL. When they’re urgently needed, I either can’t find ’em, or SwampMan has repaired a grandchild’s toy with the screws. Off to the pharmacy with a temporary glasses fix, aka “scotch tape” holding them together. So, here I am, eyeglasses repair kit in hand, and not one single damn screw fits my glasses. Gawdammit.

I hope SwampMan’s breakfast, made without glasses, was okay. I used either cinnamon or Cajun seasoning on the French toast this morning. They’re both in the giant restaurant-sized containers sitting side by side in the cabinet where I keep the spices. Oh, well. He had a meeting this morning, so likely he ate his food so fast he wouldn’t notice either way.

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Price Points

I reached for the Raspberry Kefir in my Winn-Dixie store, then recoiled when I saw the price had gone up. Again. I bought it at Winn-Dixie for convenience even though when it was $3.50 there, it was $2.75 at Walmart. Last week, the price at my Winn-Dixie was $4.39. Today, the price was $4.55. I walked out without it. They had passed my price point. It isn’t something I need but, with my frequent stomach upsets with celiac disease, I like to try to repopulate the gut with happy, friendly bacteria. I want happy bacteria that are having a group hug with my intestines, not the hostile thug bacteria with tattoos that are threatening my intestines with a switchblade. However, I can substitute with yogurt, probiotic tablets, or kimchee. I can make my own sauerkraut for that matter.

I didn’t get milk, either. Winn-Dixie’s no-name milk (that was probably milked out of radioactive cows from North Korea) is $4.19 per gallon. Milk that comes from a dairy with name recognition (whose cows are probably not radioactive mutants) is much, much more expensive. It is in the “have you lost your freakin’ mind?” range of expense. Milk, cheese, and butter are things that I now buy on sale only.

I imagine a lot of people are reaching their own personal price points of one kind or another now. After all, you decide that you will accept a certain amount of money for doing a particular job, and you will not do it for less. As an employer, you have an amount that you can afford to pay for an employee.

President Obama has decided that $10.10 an hour is the least amount that people should be paid. By this, of course, he means that the sorriest excuse for an employee that can be scraped up out of the alley is worth $10.10 an hour. “Well, excuse me all to hell!” says the person that does more skilled labor that used to earn $12.00 an hour. “I don’t get much more than that, I’m a good employee, and I had to have training for this job, unlike Mr. too hungover to get out of bed on Monday morning. If that person gets a big raise, I deserve one, too!” President Obama has no knowledge whatsoever of economics or job markets. Or working, for that matter.

Of course, to pay all those increased wages, the prices that you as a business charge for your goods and services must go up. You go to your customers and tell them that you have to increase the prices due to new wage laws. You go to your suppliers and tell them that they have to sharpen their pencils and cut prices because you don’t have the cash to pay them as much as you used to because you have higher expenses. So your customers all say “Why yes, we’ll be overjoyed to pay 50% more for your services!”, right? Uh, no. They’ll say “Sorry, buddy, I have wage problems of my own, and I can no longer afford you. I’m going to go with either Ramon’s Truck of Illegals where there is no insurance or minimum wage, or outsource to a very cheap labor country.” Your suppliers will likely say “Sucks to be you. Sorry to lose your business. If that will be all, I have a meeting with Ramon in 20 minutes about a large order.”

At this point, you, the owner, have to decide whether it is in your best economic interests to shut down the business, radically downsize the business so that you and family members are the only employees, whether to substitute machinery for labor, or whether to go to cash only, not keep records, and escape all regulation. You could decide to keep on losing money in the hope that everything will eventually work, but math is a real bitch, and you’ll end in bankruptcy.

Doctor’s offices are facing the same dilemma for they are independent businessmen whose prices have radically increased via government regulation, and whose compensation has drastically declined. This is not good news for you. There will be fewer suppliers of medical care as many will opt to go out of business and retire. Others will decline to enter the market. Existing physicians may decline to take any insurance at all. The ones that do enter the market may not necessarily be the best and the brightest, but the dumber and lazier. You might want to start thinking about alternatives for medical care.

“But I thought this was about Winn-Dixie’s high prices!” you may whine. Well, you were right. It is, but it’s also about how people have a range of prices that they are willing and able to afford for goods and services but, once that ceiling is breached, they will no longer be in the market or will seek out competitors. Will Winn-Dixie earn more money from me by increasing the price of the Kefir? No, for they will earn no money from me, since I’ll just drive down the road to a competitor which is less convenient but where the prices are lower. If I’m in pain and the price of (legal) narcotics is too high, I’ll substitute illegal products. If taxes are too high, I’ll reduce my taxable income partially or completely.

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