Friday, December 28, 2007

A New Year

Well, it is almost New Years and It sort of makes me think about things. Things I used to take for granted. There is so much in my life that I have been blessed with. A loving husband, a couple of really good kids, a home, good friends, enough healthy food, and all of us have enough money to get by on. It makes me realize that there are thousands of people who don't have those things.

I think about things like that every now and then. I try to donate to the food bank and homeless shelters when I can. I give any change I have to the Salvation Army when I see them braving the weather outside of a store. Then I got to thinking about what these folks do the rest of the year. Why should charity and goodwill only be at Christmas? Don't they need things the rest of the year too? Why should giving only be a last minute tax shelter?

I am sure they will need things all year. I do. I have to make the effort to do more the rest of the year. I may not have much by some standards, but compared to others, I have everything.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why I hate shopping

I had to take my daughter shopping last night for a Secret Santa thing they do on the Newspaper staff at her school. A small gift every day for a week with a bigger gift ($5) on Friday. The kid she was supposed to buy for has been in the hospital for 2 weeks with histoplasmosis. She doesn't know him that well, and he wasn't there to write down the stuff that he liked/wanted, so she is having to wing it.

So after I drop off my son at scouts, we go to the Mass Merchandiser to try and find something for him. We walk around looking at all of the crap on the shelves, realize that it is all crap, and wind up getting a Pez dispenser and some assorted candy. She will be giving him a can of Pepsi one day as well. We decided that for the Friday gift, I will just make up a candy/cookie tray. Lame, I know, but at least it is heartfelt. For the Monday gift from her Secret Santa, she got a tube of chapstick. Kinda makes you wonder just how seriously these kids take it.

Anyway, there is just nothing out there is in the wide world of shopping that I either want or need. I have what I need already. Looking at the shelves in the stores just depresses me. Over priced, cheaply made, over packaged, and much much over advertised crap.

If someone actually wanted to get me something I would like, get me a side of Beef. That, I could use. Granted, it wouldn't be terribly practical to wrap and put under the tree, but you could always wrap it and put it in the freezer with a note under the tree.

It just seems that merchandisers are trying so hard to get every last dime from consumers, that they over look the need for quality. And the manufacturers that do believe in quality price their stuff so far out of the range of the normal consumer as to be a joke. So again, we are just bombarded with crap and told to like it. Well, I won't do it!

No more cheap, plastic, slave labor, Chinese, mass marketed crap will be bought by me. I will be looking for small businesses that produce American goods from American materials to stock my home. I will not be supporting MegaMart in their efforts to destroy small town America, I will not be supporting the Chinese government in their efforts to infiltrate the United States through our Capitalist greed, I will not bow down to the advertising agencies and spend more than my income for a holiday that is supposed to promote Peace, Love, and the birth of a Holy Child.

This Christmas, I am going to make it about caring, not about money. The few gifts I have to buy will be meaningful instead of pricey. It isn't about how many gifts, or how much they cost, but what that gift will mean to the person who gets it.

I am done with the shopping just because it is Christmas.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

I hate Christmas

You know, Christmas really, really sucks. There is nothing quite like knowing that whatever you give someone for Christmas will be exactly what they don't want/like/need. So as a nation, we all flood into the shopping malls and MegaMarts, picking up things only to put them back, in a frantic search for the "perfect" gift.

I have decided that there is no "perfect" gift. Inevitably it will be the wrong color/style/size/ brand, break the first time it is used, or just be something that they cannot possibly use. Last year, I gave my husband a foot massager that he had been eyeballing every time we went into the store. He would rub on it, and exclaim over it, and wish they made it in bed size. I bought the last one in town. I couldn't wait for him to open it. It broke the first day. I was devastated. As a companion to the foot massage, I got him another massager that would fit his office chair that had heat and massage. Very nice for about a week until it too stopped working. It was at that point I decided that I would never buy anything that plugs into a wall as a gift again.

I gave my dad a bat house last year. As weird as it was, he liked it. He then proceeded to build himself about 5 more. It seems that the stranger the gift I give my dad, the more he likes it. At least he is kinda fun to buy for.

My kids, or at least my daughter, stress over what to give as gifts too. They never seem to have enough cash at hand to give the things they want to give. So the gifts always seem a bit lame. I remind them that Christmas isn't about the gifts, it is about the giving. They look at me like I have grown an extra head or something.

This year, my daughter, bless her pea pickin' heart, has decided to do artwork for charity. She has some talent for cartooning so she has been drawing anime' like pictures of her friends for a minimal amount of money. She said that every dime of it will be used to buy necessities for the teen shelter in our town. So far, she has collected $9 and has commissions for about $25 more. Somehow, I think I did good with that kid.

Then, of course, there is the whole Family thing to do. If you want to see just how much I am looking forward to that, see the Thanksgiving post. It will be all that and then some. At least this year we have managed to make a deal with almost all of the family members on both sides to not exchange gifts. Except for the kids. That works for me just fine. There is no reason for all of us to spend money we don't have just so we can swap crap. We had a small problem in that I had already bought a gift for my step-mom. My dad bought it from me to give to her. Problem solved. He got a gift to give her that he didn't have to shop for, and I got to give her something that I know she actually will like, even if it didn't have my name on the "from" tag on the box.

All in all, Christmas just sucks. I would much rather stay home, cook a nice meal for my husband and kids, watch a movie, and relax.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I really hate holidays

I am thankful .......that Thanksgiving is finally over. It is such a nightmare to drive for 3 hours to get to my mother-in-law's house only to be asked to make part of the dinner. Not that I mind cooking. I actually like cooking and I don't mind helping, but not at 10:30pm. After a 3 hour drive.

Then we have the logistics. His mom's, my dad's, my mom's, his brother's. And everyone wants us to spend the entire weekend with them. So no one is happy. Ever.

We try to get everything worked out before leaving the house. What day we are going to be where and at what time. What night we are going to spend with whom. Who we don't tell that we will be in town because we just don't have time to see them.

Then we have the meals themselves. Did the Mother-in-law actually get the turkey done this year or will it still be bloody like it was last year? Was the pan of dressing the same one we had leftover from last year thawed out and rebaked or is it fresh? Is my step-father going to be so drunk again that he starts making inappropriate remarks at the dinner table? Just how many people are going to show up for dinner at Dad's and does anyone actually know who they are?

And the big question...Just how many turkey and dressing meals can you eat before you pass out? The answer to that is 2. At least 2 in the same day. After that the gag reflex kicks in and even the thought of turkey is enough to make you want to run screaming.

My dad said that maybe for Christmas, we will just have pizza.

Sounds good to me.

Monday, October 15, 2007

100 Years ago in Arkansas...

Most of the roads were gravel. You would generally travel by mule. The main social event on any given week was church on Sunday. Although there would be an occasional quilting bee or barn raisin'. The County Fair was the highlight of every September. Everyone entered their canning and handwork and feuds could be started over who's pickles were better.

Work was hard but life was simple. There was never any question on whether or not a child should be taken from his/her parents. There was never the issue of domestic abuse. If a man hit a woman and any of the family ever found out about it, that man would quietly disappear, no questions asked.

You knew what was in your food because you raised it. There wasn't any tainted wheat gluten added to the preformed meat patties, because no one would eat something like that. Meat was only made out of an animal, not a preformed, chub packed, vitamin enriched, breaded, heat and eat meal that is so popular these days. Every woman knew how to cook. Every one. It may not always be gourmet, and it usually wasn't, but it was filling.

Granted, 100 years ago in Arkansas, we were about to be struck down by the flu pandemic followed closely by WWI. But no one protested outside the White House. No one dodged the draft. And the press most certainly didn't spend every waking moment trying to find dirt on the President, the Cabinet, and high ranking military officers.

My husband's family at this time still spoke German in the home. Louis was bilingual, his parents only spoke German, and we have a very nice picture of him in his American WWI uniform displayed proudly on our den wall. He was the last family member, at least on that side of the family, who was the proper age when a war broke out. Although my late father-in-law did enlist in the Coast Guard at the end of WWII. The war was over by the time he got out of basic but 2 of his future wife's brothers were involved in the fighting in Italy. No protesters for that war either.

IMHO, it would seem that our generation has gotten into the habit of whining about what it takes to be free. We all want our liberties, but Heaven help us all if we actually have to do something to protect it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Going to Hell, and we are letting it

This country, and the principles it was founded on, are going to Hell and the citizens of this fine nation are just blindly letting it happen. We have policed and law suited our way into a virtual police state.

We have regulated all of our small businesses out of existence in favor of mega chains and McFood. It used to be where anyone with a couple of hundred dollars could open a store or a cafe and make a living. Now all of the major corporations have forced regulations thru Congress that make code enforcements, inspections, fees, licenses, and other money grabbing BS mandatory in the name of protecting the pubic. What they really do is limit the amount of competition in the market place and thus protect their own profits.

Our kids can't even be kids anymore. They can't play the games that we played as kids. Cowboys and Indians, Cops and Robbers, even Tag is off limits. Heaven forbid if someone's weenie ass kid gets tapped on the thigh. It would be sexual abuse in the grossest sense of the word.

It is bad enough that a child who is upset about getting in trouble with his parents can call SCAN and claim abuse, but the harassment that parents are put thru over it is just insane. A friend of ours had to discipline one of his kids while in a store waiting in the check out line. A lady that they knew was in the same line and saw the screaming child get a single swat to the behind. She felt it was her civic duty to sic the government on them. It took 6 months and a home visit from a child advocate to get it sorted out. But now they are on "the LIST!"

We are letting the government rule our lives. This is not what the founding fathers had in mind when they started this (once) great nation. The government was not designed to regulate our lives, it was designed to ease trade between states and foreign nations, and to enforce the Constitution. It was not meant to regulate, tax, educate our kids, tax our businesses or our paychecks, tell us what we can eat or feed our kids, or where we could build our homes, or what doctor we could go to, or subsidize drug companies, farmers, schools, or people who's job it is to have babies so they can get a bigger welfare checks.

100 years ago, if you didn't work, you didn't eat. You may not have worked a 9 to 5, but you worked growing your own food and hoped you had enough to sell so you could buy the kids an orange at Christmas. You made do with what you had and nothing went to waste. And the government stayed out of your business...unless your crop was moonshine.

Now we are taxed on the amount of money you make every paycheck, you pay sales tax on anything you buy, you pay property tax on any thing you own, you pay tax again on the money you don't spend (savings accounts, CDs, retirement accounts, stock dividends, college funds, etc) and when you die, if there is anything left by that time, a death tax is imposed. If your kids inherit, then they have to pay an inheritance tax. So that money that you worked so hard to get is actually taxed up to six times.

And we have done it to our selves. We voted for the idiots in congress who think that the government should pay for everything. Nice concept but it has to be paid for somehow. That somehow is taxes. And we voted them into office. We gave ourselves over to the government and now they are paying us back for our trust.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stress, on many levels

I think that now, more than ever, we are killing ourselves with stress. How much easier it would be to only have to worry about whether or not it would rain at the right time. What I want, and I mean really really want, is to have a few acres far enough into the sticks where I can't see a neighbor, no one turns around in my driveway, I can grow a garden and a few chickens, maybe a milk cow, with my husband who works from home, and our children.

Although the kids will be leaving for college in a few years, they will always have a place they can call home. I know that I will miss them terribly. But I don't want to hold them back from their dreams cause I know that my dreams and theirs are radically different. I cannot see my daughter plucking a chicken or my son tilling manure into the garden.

We talked with some friends of ours about buying 20-30 acres, building a couple of houses with a big communal kitchen, and making a commune of it. I can see it now, it would be total chaos. But many hands make light work, you say. That is definitely true, to a point. But the chaos factor, coupled with the destruction of the peace, would negate the goodness of the concept. I still like the idea, at least for a little while.

We have too much stress. Work, kids, money, cars, TVs, bills, taxes...we try to put too much on our plates. That is why so many people have IBS, migraines, high blood pressure, heart disease, road rage, strokes. And we are teaching our children to be this way too. Soccer, Dance classes, karate, scouts, youth groups, play dates, ad nauseum.

Our kids don't understand the concept of relaxing anymore. Or playing. Only the stresses of modern living. Is it any wonder at all that kids are making bad choices as they grow up? Drug abuse, sex, handguns at school, all of these are a mixture of absent or uninterested parenting, mental pressures at home and school, and lack of structure from society. No one wants to do anything to prevent it from happening, but they analyze it to death after the fact and then flood the rule books with really stupid "laws" that everyone has to follow. For crying out loud, it is in my kid's school handbook that they cannot take a doorknob to school. Well, DUH!

OK, enough ranting.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Today's Gripe

Normally, I don't get into the whole political argument, but after Bush made his little speech last night, and the Democratic response afterward, I have to say I am just pissed.

Who was our President trying to impress? Did he honestly think he could get the Dems in Congress to change their minds about our men and women serving overseas? Or is this just another case of CYA?

Our men and women who serve in the military deserve better than they are getting, both from Congress, and the population of the US. These people took an oath to Protect and Defend the United States, from ALL threats. I am sure they would all rather be at home with their families, sitting the their back yards drinking beer before the game, going to their children's ballet recitals, or even just mowing the yard. Instead, they are getting shot at by the people they are trying to protect because some crazy fanatic clergy don't like the fact that we can buy an I-pod if we want one.

Sure we can bring all of our military back to the US. Sure we can leave the Iraqis to stand or fall by their own will. And we can absolutely cut our military budget to the point where we do not even have enough service men and women to fill a thimble. But none of those things will keep another 9/11 from happening.

General Petraeus was asked by a Congressional panel if what we were doing in Iraq was making the US safer. He gave the only answer he could give. He didn't know. Even generals in the US military don't have the luxury of opinions like that. They follow orders. If you are given an order, you make your plans to execute those orders to the best of your ability. You don't question WHY you are given the orders, or if people will like or agree with the orders. You just do it the best way you know how.

The Democrats are trying to make the military look like a bunch of Republican stooges to further their own agendas. And that is just wrong, no matter how you look at it. Those people in US uniforms are doing their very best under the worst conditions for little pay or gratitude just so flaming liberals in Congress can beat their own drums and call President Bush a warmonger.

Why don't we just gather up all of the liberals, fit them with designer organic, eco-friendly BDUs and send them to Baghdad to reason with the Islamists. And then we can see just how safe it will make the US.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Are Americans too jaded to live simply?

Have we forgotten what it is like to just have conversations with each other? Why does it seem that we can't just get together without having to be entertained by something? We have gatherings of friends and family that must have a purpose. A BBQ, a family reunion, a birthday, a holiday of some sort. We just can't take time out of our artificially busy lives to just sit and visit with one another.

Point in fact. For the Labor Day holiday, my family of 4 and some of our friends, a family of 5, descended upon another of our friends, another family of 5, who happen to live full time in a house on a small man-made lake in the Ozarks. This is the 4th time we have been up there this summer. It is the first time in over a year that the other family has made the time to go. Normally, we spend the time talking, playing darts, fishing, or just visiting. For this Labor Day holiday, we played games. Several of them. When we were not playing games, we took turns doing online game turns on the two laptops that made the journey.

Unfortunately, my husband spent most of the weekend in a dark room with a migraine. I managed to only have to play 1 game. Due to the burn ban that was in place, we were unable to conduct the mandatory bonfire the trek to the Ozarks generally necessitates. That was a shame. We always have some really interesting discussions around the bonfire. Usually involving differing quantities of alcohol. Evolution, werewolves, song titles, and dancing naked are some of the past topics. I missed it.

The Lady of the House and I did have an interesting discussion about biblical issues on Sunday. That is our normal religious debate day. Our hosts are Baptists, the other family belongs to the Church of Christ, and my husband and I are rather eclectic religiously. When we are there, we generally go to church with them. This is what leads to the lively debates.

The rest of the weekend was spent sweating, cooking for 14 people, 8 of which are teens or preteens, washing dishes, and gaming. We did watch one movie. But not once all weekend did I feel relaxed. My husband was trying to keep from throwing up, so he didn't relax much either. The kids all had a good time. But hey, kids still remember how to do that.

I still felt like a babysitter all weekend. You know what I am talking about...keep fights to a minimum, keep everyone fed, keep everyone entertained. And it wasn't even my house.

I would have liked to just sit around and talk. I didn't need to keep checking my email or ebay bids. I did sort of keep up with a couple of football games on Saturday, but even that I only paid half a mind to. I was more concerned about my daughter wearing a pair of torn up checkerboard Vanns with her skirt to church because she forgot to pack dress shoes. But you know what, I don't think God really cares what shoes you wear to church.

Anyway, my whole point was that we must be entertained at all times. We can't just sit and talk anymore. We have gotten so used to doing something at all times that even when we are supposed to relax, we don't know how. We have lost the ability to be still.

But sitting on the deck of the Lake House in the still quiet morning, drinking a cup of coffee before the kids get up, looking out across the water and hearing the birds and squirrels in the trees, I think that is about as close to God as you can get. That is the time that I don't need anything else to be at peace.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Missing craft folk

Every year, we seem to be getting farther and farther away from the arts and crafts that defined us as a nation. The few people who know how to make a quilt anymore only do it to make artwork, not as a means to keep warm. Granted, these quilts are beautiful and are treasured by the recipients, but they are put away or displayed and not used. My grandmothers both made me quilts when I was a kid. One had a very simple butterfly cutout on a white block. My Grandma had me draw the butterfly for the pattern without telling me what it was for. My other grandma gave me the last last quilt that my grandpa helped her to piece together before he died. While they are very special to me, they would lose some of their meaning if I just stored them away. My mother even tried her hand at quilting once. She made me a Dutch Girl quilt made from scrap pieces from my baby clothes. My daughter has slept under it since she first moved out of her crib. She will be going to college in a year or two and has already told me that if it is still holding together she will be taking it with her.

Me, I don't have the patience to quilt. I crochet. I have made afghans for all of my family, my friends, my daughter's friends. I even started one for her first boyfriend. They broke up before I finished it. Oh well.

I tried to teach my daughter to crochet. She wanted to learn. It was a frustrating experience for both of us. She doesn't have the patience to sit still long enough and still pay attention to what she is doing. Where I on the other hand, go into an almost Zen like state and can only teach by showing. She didn't get it. She really wants to, but her talent lies elsewhere. I can watch TV, hold a conversation, and crochet at the same time. She can draw, write and play her viola. But not at the same time.

Yes, I know it is easier to go to your local Megamart and buy a blanket if you are cold, or buy one of the thousands of "throws" available with your favorite sports team, favorite holiday, favorite bible verse, or favorite pet. But where is the love that goes into it? An Army surplus wool blanket can keep you warm, but a hand made quilt or afghan is like a hug every time you use it. And that is what you are giving someone when you give them something you made yourself.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Why do we...

Why do we spend thousands of dollars a year on food that we don't even enjoy and that is bad for us?

I have a family of 4, two of which are teens. Last night, I took a whole chicken, removed the breasts, cut them into chunks, skewered them and roasted it. Then I boiled the rest of it with some left over celery and carrots from a veggie tray we had earlier in the week and when it was done I stuck it, pot and all, in the fridge. Tonight I took it out of the fridge and removed the now solidified fat, de-boned the chicken and removed the veggies and made dumplins. Main dish for 2 meals for 4 people for less than $5. And we had leftovers.

A couple of nights ago, I roasted a pork loin that I had gotten on sale for $2.99 a pound. So I got a big one. Needless to say, I had left overs there too. I sliced it all and put the left overs in the fridge. The next night, I took about half of what was left and chopped it up. The rest I put in the freezer. With the chopped pork, I added BBQ sauce and a little bit of water and we had BBQ sandwiches. That is what I will do with the pork in the freezer too. 3 meals for 4 that cost me about $8.

I find that when I try to actually plan meals or make a grocery list, I wind up spending a fortune. My husband has gotten really, really good with the coupons. And a national chain grocery store here ( that doubles coupons) will have clearance prices on some of the more expensive luxury items that we normally wouldn't buy. With the coupons we have gotten some of these things for free. So now for meals, I just kind of wing it. It is cheaper that way.

I really do try to stay away from premade convenience foods. Not only do they have a lot of salt and fat, I can generally make the same thing for a lot less. But then again, I cook. Alot. My kids even like my cooking. My husband says that I don't make Dumplins right, but he has always eaten them anyway, so they can't be that bad.

I am as guilty as the rest of us about craving chips and Little Debbies. But I try not to go over board. I get them only when they are on sale. I generally don't get to eat any of them because of the human vacuum I call my son. He has been known to inhale a bag of chips, 3 or 4 Little Debbies, then ask me when dinner will be ready because he is hungry. Go figure.

Plain folks

Maybe the Amish have it right. Wouldn't it just be better to stop spending so much time worried about the dollar and just make a pie instead? Granted, there are a lot of things that I would miss, like electricity, but if it just came down to it, I could do with out it.

I have cooked full meals for 15 men over an open camp fire back when we were doing the Civil War reenacting. I have even cooked full meals on the top of a fireplace insert when the power would go out as a kid. You just have to watch it a little more closely.

Even when the power has gone out since I have been married, I still have a charcoal grill. I could, in a pinch, use wood and a skillet on that. Although, I can't help but remember the time when the kids were small and the power went out. We cooked hot dogs over a candle for dinner. It was fun, and silly, and kinda weird, but they will remember it for the rest of their lives.

I think most of us would just panic if basic services were to go down. Look what happens every time NY has a black out. When ours goes out, my husband begins to pace the house, waiting for his computer to come back on.

We have lost the ability to just be still. Maybe we should try to get it back.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The way it should be

I just watched a show about a tribal society on a pacific island. They live, every day, by sharing absolutely everything. The entire village will go fishing together and split the catch evenly. The guy hosting the show brought gifts of food and tangible goods to give to the village and the chief very carefully divided everything. He spent almost a month with them, living the same way they do, helping to hunt and fish, even sharing his personal first aid kit with a guy who had a really nasty infection in his foot.

We hoard things in America without even realizing it. I am not saying that we should be communistic by any stretch. What I am saying is that most of us have much more than we need and we should be concerned more about others. How many times have you walked by the guy sitting on the curb asking for a few coins without even seeing him? We are not going to miss that 47 cents in our pockets, but to him, it might be a can of beans.

Once, my family and I had picked up individual meals from a fried chicken place, and on the way home, stopped at Walgreens to pick up a prescription. There was a man there asking for a dollar to get himself a burger. We gave him 2 of the meals and I thought he was going to cry. It wasn't much to us, but to him it was everything.

You never know when you will come across an angel in disguise. Be kind to others because someday, it might be you that has to rely on the kindness of others.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I am living too late

It would seem that with all of the technology that surrounds us every day, driving us all to be busier, that we would all be happpier if we could just slow down and live. The vast majority of Americans are caught up in the idea that more is better...more money, more car, more house, more activities away from the home...I mean, come on! Do we really need to be able to watch tv on our phones?

Personally, I would be perfectly happy living in a modest sized house on a few acres far away from any Walmart where I can grow a nice little garden and watch the birds and squirrels from my window. All of those 45 minute commutes to work every day are bad for us. And I am not even talking about the gas prices. Stress and heart disease are killers. And the bad thing is, we do it to ourselves. Even though my husband can see his office from our front yard, he still telecommutes into work every day. As far as I can tell, that is just perfect.

I grew up out in the middle of nowhere. My mother called it a play farm. You know the kind, just enough acreage and critters to be a pain but not enough to make any money. We had a garden that was about 3/4 acre filled with every kind of vegetable that we would actually eat. My brother and I got to spend our summers off from school picking garden. After we spent all morning picking beans, squash, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, melons, and whatever else caught Dad's attention in the seed catalogs, we got to enjoy spending the afternoons, snapping or shelling beans, canning, feeding the chickens and pigs, gathering eggs, and all of the other assorted chores.

In the fall, it was cutting wood and picking apples. Being a girl, my dad would not let me run the chainsaw, but I did have to pull all of the poison ivy off of the felled trees since my mom and I are not allergic. In the winter, we would kill a pig and a cow and spend 2 weekends cutting meat and putting it in the freezer. (the chickens we did in the summer...Ahh the smell of hot wet chicken feathers!) Dad wasn't the best meat cutter around so we had some really strange looking cuts of meat. If we couldn't tell what it was supposed to be, we gave it a generic label of "steak" or "roast" depending on how thick it was. Any pieces too small to be "steak" became hamburger or sausage.

One of my parent's friends had a milk cow. We had chickens. 2 dozen eggs = 1 gallon of milk. I was in high school before I ever bought a gallon of milk in a plastic jug. I had always gotten it out of a pickle jar and had to shake it up first. Lunch meat came wrapped in waxed paper from the gas station up on the hill and was less than $1 a pound. Bacon always had a rind on it. And pies were always made with fresh fruit. Picking soda bottles off of the side of the road was our allowance.

We went to town once a week and that was to go to the bank. And maybe the grocery store for coffee, sugar, cereal, tea, and if we were lucky, sodas. We almost never bought any of that "Chinese Crap" that my dad was so dead set against.

Like kids everywhere, we griped about having to do chores, but we did them because if we didn't, we got our backsides tanned. We lived without gameboys and i-pods, cell phones, cable tv, computers, and *gasp* we didn't have a microwave oven (called a "Radarange) until I was a teenager.

We didn't feel like we didn't have much. We had plenty of food, a decent house, wood heat for when the power went out, and each other. I really miss it. I griped about it at the time, but ya know, I was a happy kid. I am not mal-adjusted because I got my butt whupped a few times. I don't need a new car every 3 or 4 years. My cell phone is almost 4 years old but it still works so why spend $200 on a new one.

We, as a society, spend way too much time listening to advertising. We don't gotta have the I-phone. Geesh, I don't watch tv at home. Why would I want to watch it on a 2 inch screen while I am riding the non-existent public transit? We all just need to unplug for a day. No computers, tvs, cell phones, conference calls, soccer practice, ipods, or SUV's. Just sit in your favorite green place and watch the birds.

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