Sunday, August 31, 2014

What To Get?


 Two people I know recently bought houses and I've been casting around for just the right housewarming gift. It's so much easier when the people live close by, but they live on the other side of the country, on the east coast. That is what makes buying the right gift more difficult.

I have an idea about their tastes. If I lived closer the ingredients for Cosmos and some tasty tidbits would be the perfect gift. Not so when the gift must be shipped across the country. What to do?

I've considered stitching something for their homes, something that would be tasteful and creative and something they won't have to hide in the attic or the basement or an unused closet until (and unless) I come to visit so they can trot it out just to prove they appreciate the gift. I do have better taste than an old aunt still living in her glory days at the turn of the century or stuck in the 1960s with  pink or avocado appliances in a kitchen where the linoleum was put down while still tripping on LSD. I do have better taste than that. I would venture to say that few of my gifts have ever been returned or hidden in the basement or tossed out with the trash or given to the church rummage sale to be passed from hand to hand to hand or left on an enemy's door step as a warning to get out of town.  Those kinds of gifts I save for people I don't like, usually the people who gave them to me in the first place because they have no idea who I am or what kinds of things I like (my family mostly, which is why I started giving out lists).

The dilemma is to give a gift that will be welcome and not cost me an arm and a leg, which is usually what I end up finding when I go looking for furniture and accessories for my own home. I can gauge the price by how much I like it at first glance. My approbation cools quickly when I check out the price. Even at clearance sale prices, my taste far exceeds my budget. Always has. What can I say? I have caviar taste on a fish bait budget.

I think I have finally settled on a couple of gifts, which will require a considerable amount of my time stitching them, but will result in gifts that will be welcome when they arrive. I'll save the reveal until after the projects are finished, framed, and have reached their final destination. I'm pretty sure both people are art lovers and would appreciate beautiful and thoughtful gifts.

If not, I still have a few of those really awful gifts to leave on their door steps to ensure they get out of town without delay. I'd even be willing to throw in a poltergeist or voodoo spell for good measure.

That is all. Disperse.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bread, Underwear, and Jodorowsky

The sun is shining right now but the clouds are mobbed by flying fat men in goggles and pillowy piles of cumulus overwhelming the wispy mares' tails that have devolved into seahorses and earthworms humping their cirrus ways across the skies. The view reminds a bit of Alejandro Jodorowsky.

I rented a documentary about his making of Frank Herbert's Dune and how the movie was only made as a storyboard book to get a studio to back it. American studios passed on the movie and David Lynch was chosen by the De Laurentiis production machine to make Dune. Jodorowsky was devastated by the choice, but the team he assembled to make his vision reality individually went on to do great things in cinema, art, and special effects. Jodorowsky's visions for his Dune were borrowed and used in many other science fiction and fantasy movies, and continue to used the seeds he planted in modern movies, like Prometheus, which is the prequel for Alien and its sequels.

I've seen worlds and beings in clouds since I was a child looking up at the sky and dancing in the rain, but the worlds I saw through Jodorowsky's eyes have also seeded my imagination. His vision of a universal consciousness connected through the creative and spiritual death of Paul Atreides lives on. Jodorowsky wanted his vision of Dune to live and, although it didn't live in the movie he wanted to create, the images and the consciousness of his Dune live on. At the end of his movie as Paul dies from Feyd Rautha's blade slicing through his throat, everyone says, "I am Paul," so that everyone becomes Paul whose blood seeds the world and spread throughout the universe. In the real world of Hollywood, Jodorowsky's movie died before being made, but the blood of that movie, his vision and his images, the blood of his Dune spread like seeds throughout the industry to become part of the science fiction landscape. Jodorowsky got what he wanted -- to change the movie business -- and he did it image by image through the artists he changed and the vision he offered Hollywood, a vision that clung to their minds and their souls to become part of them and part of the future.
 Back deck 083014

Okay, so the photo doesn't show the clouds, but the Kindle Fire was charging and the cord didn't reach that far. That is, however, a picture of the view from my chair as I write.

There will be rain again later as there was yesterday and last night. There is always rain here, at least for now, and it keeps the temperatures cooler than normal for the end of August when the dog days should be in full force. I've had to turn on the heat and sometimes use a space heater in my bedroom when the nights dip toward the 40s.

This week has been busy with unpacking more boxes and sorting things as they arrive. I still need to put together the Strathmore chairs I bought for the back deck. The plastic fold chairs were here when I moved in, as was the sun faded piece of carpet that remains on the deck. Kevin still has not come over to measure for the ramp for the back deck or to stain all the decks, which was supposed to have been done before I moved in. Well, He did go to pieces over Forrest being stolen and spirited away to Iowa, only to be returned in the dead of night and left on the doorstep when the thief's neighbors and various friends in Iowa let the thief know they were watching. It doesn't pay to steal a man's dog in this age of technology and Internet connectivity. It just doesn't.

tedwords posted a photo of Corb's underwear drawer and it is artful and creative. All the briefs and boxers are folded neatly and placed in order according to material, color, boxer, or brief. It's the underwear drawer of either a budding serial killer or someone who lines up his toiletries so the labels are easily read. Corb is an exacting kind of person with a creative streak, the kind of person that will either make a tyrant of a director or direct orderly mayhem when the end is near. I can just see him calming people and sorting them by age, height, and useful skills as they board the great ark that will take them out of harm's way, or protect them when the big deluge comes again. He's a good person to know when you're planning a party because everything will be beautiful and organized.

At any rate, here is a photo snapped this morning of my underwear drawer.

UW drawer

I have a fondness for lace and fripperies when I wear underwear. It's mostly for me. I like the feel of silk and lace.

I decided, since I already bought quite a bit of baking and cooking equipment, and had some yeast in the freezer that was about 3 years old, that it was time to see if the yeast was still good. The freezer did an excellent job of keeping the yeast dormant, but active when dissolved in liquid, even cold liquid in the manner of French bakers. I read recently that French bread is so good because the bakers do not rush the process, allowing the flavors to develop. I also wanted to try the semolina flour and a recipe from one of my cookbooks, so semolina bread must be made.

Two days ago, I made the starter. It's like making sourdough bread, but without the white sourdough bread that results. I let the starter sit for 24 hours and, yesterday afternoon before it was time for work, I began making the bread, sifting together unbleached flour, semolina, olive oil, salt, more yeast sprinkled over water, and the starter. The dough was very sticky; I still managed to knead the dough and put it in a lightly oiled bowl to rise, not for the 1-1/2 to 2 hours listed in the recipe, but for 8 hours while I worked. I chafed the dough and let it rest, after punching it down, cut it in half, made 2 rounds, and waited for the next rise while heating the oven. A few hours later, I had 2 perfectly baked rounds of semolina bread. It sounded hollow when I tapped on the bottom and it did not feel like a brick or fall apart, so I hadn't added too much flour while kneading. I could barely wait for the bread to be cool enough to try, so I tore off a hunk, slathered it with butter, and added some marmalade from one of the jars I bought in order to taste test for the perfect marmalade.

Just as a side note, Rose's orange fine cut marmalade is more orange jelly with a few hair fine slivers of orange zest rather than a real marmalade. The zest is barely there and scattered widely through a small jar and is quite unremarkable as far as jellies, and especially marmalades, are concerned. I have 4 other jars to test, but I will use this jelly because I hate wasting money and food, even if it is just barely adequate food.

semolina bread

The above is my remaining loaf beneath the book with the photo of what the bread should look like (and it does) and the Victorinox bread knife I bought that cuts through the crusty crust without damaging the tight, soft crumb inside. The knife does a marvelous job. I cannot understand how I lived without it before now.

Since I know how readers love pictures to go with the writing, I have decided to provide some of my own, taken with my Kindle Fire. I'm actually proud of the photos. Well, except for the photo of the clouds you cannot see because the light is wrong. I'll do better next time. For now,

That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

You Big Ape


I'm a fan of fantasy and science fiction stories, like King Kong and Mighty Joe Young. I've seen the Fay Wray version and the Jessica Lange version and even the Jack Black version of the great Kong and the only version of Mighty Joe Young that was ever produced several times. Well, only once for the Jack Black version. As much as I enjoy Naomi Watts's work, let's face it, Jack Black was the star of that show.

One thing I find perplexing is how every time they show Kong in his native habitat, there are other monsters from the dinosaur age, but the trees and plants are the versions we see all the time. If the world in which Kong and his Triassic or Jurassic pals have been cut off from the rest of the world, the plant life would not be sufficient to sustain vegetarians of such massive size, which may also explain why Kong has lived for hundreds of years without skeletal signs of parents or a tribe of gorillas just like him. I suppose some alien visitors took all the prehistoric animals and transplanted them to their fog-shrouded island where time had moved on after injecting the animals with some immortality serum so that living forever wouldn't be a problem even though insufficient plant life to sustain them would be.

I know. I'm forgetting to suspend my disbelief and seeing things in a rational manner which is definitely not a good idea when faced with a fantasy/science fiction movie where scientific fact has been left out in order to further the story. After all, what difference does scientific fact have to do with science fiction? Pure flights of fancy should never have to face such hard realities as how the monsters got to their world forgotten by time and how they could possibly survive without sufficient food. That's a problem for mere mortals like me. And don't get me started on monster manure and what happens to all the urine they excrete. After all, no one goes to the bathroom in movies or books, at least not for anything as mundane as voiding and excretion. (That is urinating and defecating for the low information crowd.) That just muddies up the waters -- or yellows them to be more exact.

That is the main problem I have with hidden worlds cut off from the flow of time that happens everywhere else on this planet. The plant life does not get cut off as well. The plants get smaller and yet the dinosaurs and big apes keep getting bigger. I suppose the plants could supply more nutrition than their gigantic ancestors did to support such a diverse population of monsters, but there still should be evidence of the monsters' forebears to make it easier to swallow that the current crop came from somewhere other than some source of deus ex machina or aliens with a natural habitat-zoo fetish. I doubt gods or aliens work in quite that way.

One thing we now know is that even the vegetarian dinosaurs were likely mammals as the meat eaters certainly were. So much for the terrible lizards since they were all hot blooded. Natural selection, destruction by comet, and the usual sources that killed off the dinosaurs as did dwindling food supplies as the Earth cooled and the greenhouse effect that nourished giant plants and trees gave way to a much cooler environment north and south of the equator. For all we know, the Earth's axial tilt could also have changed. All we have left are the birds, which are the evolutionary cousins of dinosaurs, which by the way, showed evidence of feathers in fossil form. Hard to imagine a chicken or an ostrich coming from dinosaurs, but that is what happened. I wonder why the adaptation for hollow bones came about, other than to make sure the birds could fly. Dinosaur bones were certainly not hollow and were much heavier to support the massive weight of their flesh -- even when they held their tails up and didn't drag them on the ground as scientists once thought. How far we have come in our understanding of the ancient world, even if in the modern world we still can't get the habitats right, or at least right enough for movies like King Kong and The Land That Time Forgot, among other lost world books and movies.

Yes, I still can't shake the part of me that insists on accuracy and something approaching reality. It's a flaw. I admit it.

Basically, the story of King Kong and Mighty Joe Young is the story of Beauty and the Beast. Instead of the fairy tale version where Beauty saves the beast because she realizes she loves him and has treated him badly, Beauty is the reason the Beast dies. His love for his diminutive blonde mate signals his end of life. As Jack said in the 1976 version starring a fresh-faced, scantily clad Jessica Lange, when Charles Grodin took Kong from his hidden island, he took the mystery, terror, and magic from the people who worshiped and sacrificed their virgins to their god. Modern man destroyed their religion and their god. I agree with Jack, but I still wonder how a black race of people got the idea that a blonde virgin would satisfy their god when they had likely never seen a blonde woman -- or a white one -- even though their rituals prominently featured blonde, white skinned virgins. I guess there is some genetic memory of goddesses with white skin and blonde hair even among a people lost from the natural flow of time, but that touches too closely on the theory that the people that created the black races (or brought them from the Pleiades as slaves) were white skinned and likely blonde. Seems to me the fossil records from the American shores show giants with red hair, and then there are those red-haired, fair-skinned giants of legend among the Asian people in Outer Mongolia. Now we're getting back to facts and reality and that is no good for fantasy. Best stick to the story and not think too much or use the dormant side of the human brain. Such mental exercises might increase the use of that 10% and edge into Einstein territory.

Don't get me wrong. I do enjoy the evolving special effects and men in gorilla suits, and eventually the computerized special effects of the King Kong of 2005, not to mention the acting styles of the Beauty that fascinates and brings down the only living specimen of a giant gorilla as much as the next person. I love to be entertained, and all versions are entertaining in their own special way, even if Jack Black outshines Naomi Watts in the 2005 version despite Miss Watts's considerable acting abilities. I guess I'll have to be content with the fantasy and the blonde beauties as they turn a fond eyes toward the monster that first terrified them and eventually brought them to tears.

It was different for Might Joe Young since he was brought up by  white family in Africa and, through love and nurturing, and one would expect a massive quantity of fruits and vegetables, the little gorilla became a giant among gorillas and as protective of Jill Young (played by Terry Moore in the 1949 version and Charlize Theron in the 1998 Disney version) as Kong was of his aspiring starlets. The Disney version of Mighty Joe Young edited out the heart of the 1949 version in favor of a less obvious morality play and more schmaltz and pretty vistas. I don't have as clear a picture of the 1998 version as I do of the 1949 version. The earlier version remains as clear as the first time I saw it on late night TV. It often seems like harsh realities and the clear black and white of earlier days has given way to technology and a movie that tests well with audiences that are not favorably disposed toward the real grit and dirt of getting down to the nitty gritty. Such is life and, one supposes, and the art of story telling in the 20th and 21st centuries.

I am in the minority with my insistence on facts and reality, but then I have no problem with talking (and singing) chipmunks and anthropomorphized ducks, dogs, mice, and various other animals. Go figure.

That is all. Disperse.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Politics of Manners

I don't know why it is, but my best thoughtful (philosophical) moments come when I'm doing needlework or writing in my journal.

I need a case for my reading glasses because I've reached that age I need them everywhere (grocery store, banks, filling out applications, etc.) and the little reading glasses that fit into a plastic case just isn't cutting it any more. They are small, fall off my nose, and are a little bit too strong. I know. I could buy a pair that aren't as strong, but they have a tendency to fall out of the hole in my shopping bag since I don't carry a purse any more. Why bother? I do not need a bag hanging around my neck or over my shoulder or arm to carry a lot of useless things I won't use; whereas my shopping bag (very stylish, blue, printing about being eco-conscious) is very useful for quick stops, holds my canvas shopping bags, and all I put in it are my wallet, keys, and reading glasses. Very useful and I'm not dragging around a lot of junk. That's what I have a house for -- a place for my junk stuff.

Anyway, I was needlepointing an eyeglass case in the wee hours before the dogs got up and started barking (just minutes before) and couldn't get back to sleep, so I picked up the case and continued stitching. I did get all the color work done and now have only the black background to stitch. Have you any idea what a pain it is to stitch black on black even with a 150-watt light? Getting old eyes sucks, but that's another topic for another time.

As I stitched, the idea of gratitude and manners came to mind. Okay, both are subjects that often come to mind in this mannerless world of rude crudes. There is a difference between gratitude and manners. People with manners will ma'am and sir you and speak with what sounds like respect, but it's like a smile that never reaches the eyes. An exercise of learned response versus true gratitude and manners. I prefer the former. I can handle rude (have you met my family?), but I find it difficult to understand and accept ingratitude.  It's something I see several times a year.

Don't get me wrong. I often donate and give gifts anonymously. I don't need the accolades and I'm not trying to build up points in heaven because I don't believe in heaven. Well, not as a religious concept where people who said the right words in the right religious way, and often with zealous religious fervor. It seems to me that refusing to enjoy the life you're given to build up points to go to a place where everything is all sunshine and light and praising some god is the antithesis of living the life you were given. Mortgaging the present for some nebulous future that may or may not exist and could be taken away if you fail to give thanks or do the right things according to whatever doctrine you follow. Makes no sense. Yet another topic for another time.

Back to gratitude and manners. There is something empty about someone giving the formulaic response to a gift. "Thank you, ma'am. It was nice. I like it." A 'really like it' may be added -- or left out -- but that empty feeling settles in the pit of my stomach when I hear it. I can tell by the tone of voice, the glitter in the eyes, the broad smile, the excited words, and the spontaneous hugging that the gift was well received. That is gratitude. The former is manners -- by rote. A formula for acceptable behavior. It's as flat as last week's 7-Up left open on the counter.

As I pondered the difference, I got an idea to embark on a completely new path. I thought about writing a short story, but something inside me kept saying, "Write a play. Dramatize it." I've done enough plays and read a lot of scripts, so I know the basic format and what I want to achieve. Flitting over the transom in my mind came a memory of Sandra Bullock overseeing the stage settings for one of her character's plays while giving an interview to a reporter. That published interview set the stage for family drama the likes of which I can imagine. Good thing most of my family is either dead or estranged. No one will notice if I put them on the stage and give them sides to memorize.

What it all comes down to is this. Give me honesty emotion however expressed and save me from learned manners without emotion. No wonder the world of Jane Austen has gone the way of historical romance and movies. That kind of socially correct and soulless responses leaves a bad taste in the mouth -- and on the heart. Maybe honest, unguarded emotions (and words) are best. At least in the case of political posturing, give me emotion every time.

Other thoughts have crossed my meditative mind, but this is the first time I've considered writing a play. I like it. I like it a lot. (imagine a big grin full of teeth and the glitter of mischief in my eyes.) Now that is gratitude. Honest gratitude from me to the muse without political correctness and political posturing. Unadulterated. Unexpurgated. Unvarnished. Unfettered.

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Nothing Much

The new chairs arrived yesterday morning while I was still sleeping. When American Furniture Warehouse tells you to expect delivery between 7 and 9 on the scheduled day, expect the earlier time.

Two guys were walking around my yard carrying the chairs over their heads. I have four doors into this house, and three ways to get to the doors. They were at the laundry room door and needed to be on the back side of the house to bring the chairs directly into the living room. They had to walk around the house and down the little hill to get there and they did it in short order. The Saran wrapped chairs were unwrapped and the bigger of the two guys snapped a picture of them in place on his tablet, which is also where I had to sign the receipt with my finger. That was awful since most of it didn't show. I keep my nails short to type faster. It showed.

Anyway, the chairs are sitting next to each other and I'm getting used to them before I figure out where they will be placed. They are just the right shadow of yellow (flax) for the room and not too bright at all. They're also very comfortable. I expect the other two chairs I want for side of the room where the new chairs sit will arrive as quickly and in equally good order.

On a side note, I do not like the way LiveJournal has changed the site. Used to be I could make a comment and click the back button to find myself right where I left the page. Not so now. I have to scroll back down to where I left off and that is irritating at best. Now I point the comment to another window on my browser and close the browser when I'm done. Nothing works the way it should on LJ any more. So much for all the fussing about with the code and the look. It's awful.

Why is it that people want to get into pissing contests with me when I make a comment that their rancor pointed at the way the USA has done completely excludes the fact that their own country, and indeed every country and civilization since the beginning of time, was also founded on atrocities to each other and to the people who lived there before them? You don't fix a problem by pointing out how another country (not your own) has built their greatness on the bodies and blood of others. That's disingenuous to say the least.

This particular person has it in his head that I am telling Native Americans that they should just suck it up and get on with their lives. And why is it always Canadians? His latest broadside was just as pissy as his first attack on me. He said my spelling was atrocious without pointing to a single incident of my atrocious spelling, and all because I noted that nickel was spelled nickel and not nickle. I checked through my comments and there were no misspelled words, which tells me that he made up the atrocious spelling in his own mind. Maybe he shouldn't have mentioned that he was dyslexic when he said he knew how to spell nickel and spelled it incorrectly. He continued to one up me by saying that he had a degree in Business and his mother, 89 years old and still going strong, was still a syndicated columnist, throwing in a little aside that he had an IQ of 152 and had more history under his belt that I could even imagine. I declined to one up him with my higher IQ or the war zones I've lived in, the riots I've lived through, and the history I have seen in my nearly 60 years of life as the daughter of an American soldier. I felt it was more pissing that I was willing to engage in. I congratulated him on his accomplishments and simply told him that I was not born to privilege, but had made my accomplishments all own my own without any help from my family or my background. I have to keep reminding myself that he is another one of those Canadians inhabiting the high moral ground and looking down his nose at everything American while ignoring the rest of the world as he decries our checkered history.

I need to keep away from people like that and stop reminding them that they have no moral high ground because they will inevitably come back to bitch and moan at me while castigating me with their lack of wit and charm. Best to keep out of those my dick is bigger than yours discussions that always end up with them unzipping and hauling out the dick to show just how big a dick can be.

In the meantime, let me add that if anyone sees a misspelling on my posts, please let me know so I can fix them. I usually write these posts off the top of my head and welcome being able to correct them when I'm wrong. I don't see such correction as onerous or unwelcome, but a chance to make what I've written better. Thanks in advance.

Somehow or other my bedside clock got off the time. It's now about 2 hours ahead of what it should be and I don't know how that happened. Now I have some extra time to do the dishes before I wash my hair and clean myself up before trekking down the mountain to drop off some mail and pick up milk and bread and maybe a snack or two. I also have to draw some money out of my account to pay the housekeeper when she gets here tomorrow to wash floors, clean windows, vacuum, and carry away empty boxes after she steam cleans the sofa and chaise. The house will be livable again -- at least for the three weeks before it's time for her to come and clean again. Such is life.

Well, the birds are mobbing my decks again and I need to get going so I can go down the mountain for the mail. Btw, the picture at the top is of flax seeds and the actual color of the chairs

That is all. Disperse.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

This morning was not good, more like my stomach and intestines were on separate amusement park rides -- and I was not and am not amused. Nothing like trying to sleep while both exits are gurgling and jammed with impending spewage. I couldn't even drag myself out of bed long enough to answer the door for Kirk, the UPS hunk, and accept delivery. I was groggy and afraid he might be forced to accept a delivery he wouldn't want and might come to rue.

Just the thought of bitter rue sets my insides spinning on the Vomit Comet.

I did manage to get up and drink some cold chai. Probably not a great choice, but a choice that has stayed down so far. That's a good thing because I have been running on empty and nearly inside out and empty. Then I decided something filling and substantial would be a good choice, so steak, rare. It has so far remained inside and is not making that gurgling about to reappear noise at either end.

I tried doing a little stitching on an eyeglass case, but that didn't last long. Sitting up made me feel vertiginous and unsettled. Then I decided that sitting up would be essential to eating so here I am, ears at the ready for sounds of internal derangement, and typing up something (anything) to keep my mind off my gastrointestinal chaos.

Btw, the above photo is a dog worshiping at the porcelain Idol. I feel his distress.

On the plus side, or at least the side that is less health related, I have gone through almost all the boxes and cannot find my loaf pans. They were good quality metal loaf pans, but they are still AWOL. Since I was feeling nostalgic and remembering my Gram's flannel hash (the pot roast version of corned beef hash), I bought 2 new glass bread pans and a lovely pan just for making hash, which is basically leftover meat chopped fine and combined with diced potato (freshly made or leftover) and some gravy combined and put into the oven at 350 to bake.  The bottom, sides, and top should be crusty (without being burned) and the insides smooth and well melded. Now all I need to do is buy a pot roast, cook it for dinner, and put together my flannel hash. I might even do corned beef hash (with an egg on top) if I can find a suitable corned beef brisket.

Right now, I'm getting ready to bake some fruitcakes. Don't groan. They are delicious, especially when the fruit has marinated for 2 weeks in bourbon (or whiskey if you prefer), added to the batter, baked, and then wrapped in cheesecloth soaked in bourbon for a couple of months. I might even use rum if the bourbon goes well. A really good fruitcake needs to age and successive layers of liquor soaked cheesecloth to get the right flavor and moistness. That's what most people don't get about really good fruitcake, the mellowing, the liquor, and the deft hand with a good balance between cake and fruit. I do so love fruitcake.

I was tossing out some trash from my mail run yesterday when Kevin stopped me and told me, frozen fruit popsicle in a tube in hand, that he was off to Iowa to get his dog, Forrest, back. It seems the neighbors across the street from him left at the same time that Forrest disappeared. Their vacation was over and they were headed back to Iowa, quite possibly with his 7-month-old Newfoundland. I pity the people if they stole Forrest. Kevin is not a forgiving man when it comes to stealing his dog. You can have his fiancee or his son, but not his dog. I don't know if he made it home yet. I'll check later.

Well, this little update has burned through what ragged strength remains to me right now and I'm going to go try some more chai and possibly a few more bites of steak to keep the rest company -- and hopefully keep it tightly packed and digesting properly. I need to go out and get some yogurt to refresh the gut bugs to put the process back on track.

That is all. Disperse.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Is Any Man Truly Free?

Dostoevsky wrote about true freedom, the freedom to kill with impunity. Where Ivan's argument breaks down is in the commission of the murderer. When one is free and that freedom means killing without punishment or regret or fear, then there is no need for secrecy and no need to blame the murder on someone else.

Smerdyakov plans to murder his father and he tells Ivan what he will do. He fakes a seizure to set the stage for his own innocence after going to Gruschenka to deliver the message that the elder Karamazov will give her a gift if she comes to see him that night. Smerdyakov already knows that Dimitri attacked his father when he believed Gruschenka was visiting his father and promised to kill his father if he caught Gruschenka with him the next time.

The whole point is that if Smerdyakov were truly free to kill with impunity, he would not have stage managed such an elaborate frame for Dimitri to take the blame for killing their father. He would simply have killed the elder Karamazov and admitted the act to anyone and everyone because the law did not apply to him.

This same moral disconnect is present in Murder by Numbers when the two rich boys, Richard Haywood and Justin Pendleton, carefully choose their victim and set up their alibis for the time of the murder. The man who is truly free does not need to hide his deed because he fears no punishment. That man, or in this case those boys, would kill their victim in broad daylight in front of witnesses and walk away unscathed and unpunished. They killed with impunity.

Because neither Justin nor Richard was truly free, they must hide their crime and throw the police off the track.

I suppose Justin and Richard covered up their murder because the police would not see them as free men killing with impunity, but that moral hiccup proves that they are not free. They cannot kill with impunity because they are bound by the morals in which they were brought up and which they must follow or go to prison. They can claim from behind bars that they are free men, but they were never truly free nor could they ever be free, just as Smerdyakov and Ivan were bound by the morals and beliefs which inform their actions.

No man can truly be free to kill with impunity unless and until he kills without remorse in the clear light of day in front of witnesses and walks away without being punished. Saying a thing does not make it so. In other words, saying they are free to kill does not mean they are free to kill. It is this fact that nullifies the premise that killing with impunity makes a wo/man free.

When we seek to hide our actions we admit the immorality and crime of those same actions.

The Future of Books in a Green World

Did you know that 40% of all books printed in the United States are destroyed each year? That means of the 15,000,000 (15 million) books printed in 2012, 6,000,000 (6 million) books were destroyed. They are put into landfills and your new house in that new suburb may be sitting on top of all pulped books, books that were printed and sent to retailers who then sent the books back to the publishers' warehouse to be remainder for a short time and eventually destroyed, bulldozed into landfills among garbage and detritus. That is the past, present, and future of all the trees that were cut down and pulped to make the books that were not sold.

Recyclers say they cannot recycle books because of the glue that binds books together along the spine. They have neither the technology nor the equipment to separate glue from paper so the paper can be recycled. I'm going to have to cry foul on that because it would take very little effort to slice off the spine and pulp the rest. I could do it with a paper cutter, but it would be a slow process, and yet I'm certain that a forward thinking recycler could invent or build a machine to slice off the glued spine to recycle the paper and make a whole lot of profit. It's common sense.

I worked in a company a long time ago where I stripped the covers from paperbacks which were then sent back to publishers for credit and the rest of the book was sent to be destroyed. At that time, the books were either fed into the furnace to keep us warm during the winter or later sent to landfills to be bulldozed into the trash that eventually became a new plot of land on which to build hospitals, houses, and businesses. It still seems wrong to me, but I grew up in a land just 10 years post World War II and book burning just did not settle well with me. Nor does building land on top of destroyed books. Don't believe that your green plans for recycling and repurposing books will end up in any other way but the landfill. Only the rare books end up in a dusty shop on the shelves of towering bookcases with little stick-on tags with expensive prices. Few books ever reach that level. Most end up on the dollar and 50-cent table outside some run down bookshop just before they too are sent to the landfill. This cannot be the future I envision and still hope to see. 

In this green conscious age in which we live, I see that as unconscionable, especially when there is an alternative that doesn't waste trees, paper, ink, and books. We all know what it is -- digital books, e-books, The Future.

I received this email this morning from Kindle because many of my books are on KDP. Take the time to read it and then ask yourself this question: When all is said and done, who cares about readers?

Dear KDP Author,

Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.

With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.

Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.

Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers.

The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.

Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.

Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We've quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.

But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books – he was wrong about that.

And despite what some would have you believe, authors are not united on this issue. When the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they titled their post: “Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors” (the comments to this post are worth a read).  A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled “Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages,” garnered over 7,600 signatures.  And there are myriad articles and posts, by authors and readers alike, supporting us in our effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading culture. Author David Gaughran’s recent interview is another piece worth reading.

We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle.

We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.

Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch: Michael.Pietsch@hbgusa.com

Copy us at: readers-united@amazon.com

Please consider including these points:

-          We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.
-          Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.
-          Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.
-          Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.

Thanks for your support.

The Amazon Books Team

P.S. You can also find this letter at www.readersunited.com

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rainy Days and Mondays


rainy days

The Carpenters' song goes: Rainy days and Mondays always get me down. Not me. I love rainy days, even when they happen every single day. I don't even mind the cold that comes with the rain. That's why I have a jacket and sweaters to wear. I usually take them off when dancing in the rain.

I didn't get down to Divide today but I did gas up the car and discovered a new hamburger stand. The food was okay, not stellar, just okay, and it took forever to get. That is probably because there were 2 women working, one taking money and delivering food orders to people eating in the restaurant, and the other cooking the food. It was not a speedy operation, but the ladies were pleasant, amiable, and chatty. It's the main reason I didn't get to Divide today, but I did get home in time to work. Hooray -- sort of.

I finally unsnarled the chaos that comes with a move and dealing with the US Postal Service. I provided (finally) a document that showed my name and current address to their satisfaction. Now all I need to do is go back in 2 days and get the key to open the cluster mailbox that is about 5 miles down the road from my house. The carrier has 4000 people to deliver mail to and doesn't want to have to go to all the houses, so we must go to the mailbox, park, and get our mail from a locked box. At least now my mail won't be sent back to the place of origin and I will have to let everyone know (again) that I have moved and the address I gave them is actually valid. Yippee - sort of. I like the rain better.

As I ate my hamburger and cold sweet potato fries, which I didn't finish (too cold and too gross, but, yes, I could have used the microwave but it was too close to time to work), I heard a cacophony of cawing outside the windows. Once again (yes, this has happened before) a large murder of crows had descended upon my house (no, it had nothing to do with evil or witches) to stalk worms coming up out of the ground because of the rain and a little caramel colored bunny rabbit nibbling the greenery around the base of the steps to the laundry room. The bunny got away and the crows hopped and cawed all over the yard hunting earthworms for lunch. I've eaten earthworms (dried of course and ground up for chocolate chip cookies) and they're not half bad. They are also full of protein. I hesitate to eat them in any form since they break up the earth and aerate the soil, enriching it with their castings. They do the earth a good turn.

It has rained all but 1 days since I moved up here. I don't know what the other residents think about it, but I consider the rain good luck -- and good for the earth and trees in keeping the burn danger down. It's hard to catch a forest on fire if it is wet, and the trees around here are extremely wet. I am amazed how cold it is up here, but rain and wind have a tendency to do that. I'm tempted to close the window, but then I wouldn't get to smell wet pine trees and fresh air and rain-washed everything else. I rather enjoy those smells.

One thing I have noticed is that I will no longer be able to go 6 or 8 months without gassing up my car. Two weeks and I've already gassed up twice. Granted, I moved from Colorado Springs and that took quite a bit of gas, not to mention running around to get the right front tire valve stem fixed, but still. I did the unexpected and filled the car all the way up. I thought it best. Never know when I might have to trek down the mountain to get the mail.

Tomorrow I will try again for Divide to do the grocery shopping since there is nowhere closer to get it done. I might even try the BBQ place across the road from the market on my way home and then it's back to work and meet Kirk, the UPS guy. I haven't seen his eyes yet since he always wears sunglasses. He could possibly be bald, which I wouldn't mind, but can't tell since he always wears his hat. He dodged the question about his wife and I couldn't check his ring finger since he wears gloves all the time. I'll bet his hands are soft though and he has the cutest dimple.

Sorry, folks. No licentious behavior on the horizon. I'm just curious and I deserve to look at a handsome, rugged, tanned, and fit fella no matter his marital status because I like to look at good looking men. I guess I'll have to either ask him the color of his eyes and hair and be direct about asking about his marital status tomorrow if I'm to get any information. Or I could keep flirting and hope it pops up during the conversation after a few months. Anything is possible.

I think I'll leave the window open and put on my jacket and maybe get a cup of hot tea while I type hospital reports and occasionally gaze out at the barely discernible tumbled rocks of the peak next door where a weather vane on a pole perches atop some very rounded and overdosed looking rock formations that just beg to be explored and climbed. After all, my neighbor's horses feel free to meander over to my place, avoiding the fence and coming in through the front gate, to crop my grass. I should be allowed a trip to look closer at his mountain peak. It's only neighborly after all.

That is all. Disperse.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Day Full of Problems

I met Kevin last night. Kevin is the carpenter/handyman that helped build this house and he stopped by to introduce himself. He looks like a biker with a long ponytail rubber-banded at intervals down to the top of his belt loops. He wears a do-rag and is partially tattooed. He has a quick wit and a generous and friendly smile and he is a can-do kind of person as I found out this morning when we went over my very long list of unfinished work to be finished on my house, most of which he disposed of with ease.

The living room door to the back deck now closes and the key works without the lock cylinder coming off in my hand. That is a good thing since it has been unlocked and open for 12 days. Good thing there are no rapists or thieves up here. I don't think they've found us yet -- and I hope they never do. I like feeling safe enough, even with the creaks, moans, groans, and sounds of breathing the house makes as it settles.

This morning Kevin went to work on the deck door lock and eventually got it sorted out while his pup, a 7-month-old Newfoundland mixed with Akita pup he brought with him. The pup, which is nearly up to my ribs, is called Forest, and he is a curious fella nosing into everything and yet a friendly and gregarious almost-horse. Big as Forest is, he tried to climb into my lap so it's safe to say he likes me. I like him too. Since Kevin lives across the road, I'm sure Forest and I will get to see a lot of each other, especially if I get my wish and a ramp is installed on the back deck at the back bedroom side of the deck. It just makes sense really. Kevin even agrees that there should be a ramp there so the house is accessible to all of my friends and not just the ones wiling to climb to base camp one of the Himalayas to get into the house.

On the job list are a drain for the washer so I can actually use it without having to figure out a way not to flood the house, blinds for 2 windows, a screen for one of the office windows, a vent cover for the cold air vent that goes to the furnace, replacing bulbs in the ceiling and master bath, and a mirror and medicine cabinets for the bathroom between the Jack and Jill bedrooms.  I still need to get hooks for the bathroom and closet doors, hang the shower curtains and liners, and do a week's worth of laundry when the drain is installed and functional. Big on my to-do list was getting the router set up, and I needed Skybeam's tech support to get that done since they needed to get the wire on top of the house to recognize the router, and that has been accomplished.

Yesterday, Paul from Glazer Propane installed the new 500-gallon tank and lit my hot water heater again. I do need to ask Kevin about the furnace and adjusting the burners on the stove top, but those will be handled one way or another. Things are moving closer to near perfect, or as perfect as things will be when I get everything put away and the pictures and paintings hung. I think Kevin will help me by getting rid of all the boxes and that will be a big help.

One thing I found out is that the land line was hooked up to one of the sheds on the property, which made no sense to me until I asked Kevin. The previous owner of this land had an RV parked on the lot and the land line was installed on the shed so he would have a phone. Makes sense since this house did not exist then. Now that the house is here, the phone company needs to come out and bury the line.

Now some of the assortment of oddities on the property make sense, like the Dish TV satellite dish propped up against a fence that runs between two pine trees and the clothesline that runs between two pine trees next to the shed that has a weather vane on the roof. I'll add photos later. It could also explain why there is a fire extinguisher in a holder nailed to to yet another pair of pine trees near where there are a few piles of firewood and why there are benches next to the two sheds and a picnic table by the fence. Three acres of land and only an RV parked here seems a little sad and abandoned as if flash floods washed away whatever house once stood here but not the garage since it was built to withstand a nuclear explosion, except there was never a house here until my house was built.

I like being able to talk to someone who knows the area and can help me get up to date on the wherefores and whys and whodunits that come with a small community like this.

There are bound to be lots of stories and gossip floating around, not that I would listen to the gossip, but the stories have to be fascinating, like the man who lives next door with two native American or possibly Latino women and a fat black cat that stalks behind in their wake.

That's life in the country for now and I look forward to settling in for a very long and fruitful life. What began as a day full of problems has become a day full of solutions. I like when that happens.

That is all. Disperse.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Chasing the Truth

In yet another move to change her image, Hillary has reinvented history, or rather herstory. This time around Hillary wants to be seen as a woman of the people, an ordinary American you would meet at Target or Walmart, completely divorced from politics and remodeling/remaking and the scandals that have dogged her from the beginning. What it amounts to is a whole new batch of lies, misdirection, and lily gilding that she has undertaken since she first came to the public eye. Gone are the references to her involvement with the torture and murder of suspects during Black Panther trials when she was in college. Absent is her mishandling of health care reform during Bill Clinton's first term in the White House. Very present are her tales of woe and being stone broke when she and Bill left the White House while denuding their apartments and access areas of everything that wasn't nailed down. I'm sure she and Bill only meant to pawn what they could and decorate their new hovel in Washington, which is what they would have done if they had not been forced to give it all back. In Hillary's latest memoir, written by yet another ghost writer, Hillary marks her climb from the obscurity of her radical left days to her prominence as Bill's loving wife and Chelsea's mom who was more interested in domestic affairs than in her law career in Arkansas, her spearheading reform of the education system, and her stumping for Bill while he sank his first term as governor by raising car license plate taxes. She glosses over the all night strategy sessions and the way she handled Bill through the years before his re-election to the governor's mansion two years later and his subsequent terms in office. Gone are Bill's philandering and sexual redatory habits, and the demonizing and discrediting of the women he used, abused, andt tossed away and Hillary makes scant mention of Monica Lewinsky and what she knew and when she knew it, all in the name of political expedience. What this version of Hillary is supposed to do is make her look less like a rabid bull dog and more like a homebody who puts her family first and politics last, neither of which will wash as she collects $225,000 for speaking engagements where she gives her fees to charities, the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation charity. Hillary has one aim, to sit in the Oval Office as President, the first woman president of the USA, and she won't let a small thing like the truth get in her way. Expect to see more tales of landing in Bosnia under fire and running hunched over to waiting cars as welcoming ceremonies disappear --- at least in her mind. Her arrival can still be seen on YouTube any time you need to brush up on the facts, complete with welcoming ceremony. The truth in a Hillary presidency will always be the first victim of her agenda and play very little part in policy or reality. Keep that in mind while you contemplate voting for the Hillary the Chimera. In spite of her advocacy for women and children's rights, one thing remains obvious. For Hillary, it's about money, power, and celebrity and she will use whatever means necessary to make it happen as she has in the past and in the latest words out of both sides of her mouth at any given moment.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Blame Game

Political pundits and polarized U.S. citizenry cannot make heads or tails of President Obama's style of administration. I haven't been able to make sense of it either, but takin a step back and considering everything from a different perspective has finally given me the answer.

Since taking the oath of office in which he vowed to protect the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and upholding the Constitution of the United States of America, Obama has failed to keep those vows. He has engaged in an international apology tour asking forgiveness for all the wrongs committed to by the U.S. government in every country not an ally while snubbing our allies. He pointed to George W. Bush as the author of all the world's problems and blamed Bush for everything that has occurred since Obama took office.

That is where I began to see the light and uncover the strategy that has kept Obama's supporters loudly supporting him and pointing fingers at conservative Republicans and racists for not accepting Obama's explanations. It is the Blame Game. "S/he did it first" has become the first or second words out of Obama's and his apologist's mouths. It is the panacea for every wrong and every crime, every treason and every addition to the growing list of scandals and misuses of power. "Bush did it first."

I always thought, and, yes, it was naive of me, a person ran for office to show that s/he is a better person for the job than the person currently holding it. Obama promised he was going do to better than Bush, but at what I ask myself daily as we are 5 years down the path and I am often embattled by Obama's supporters. At this point, Obama's supporter will then browbeat me with, "Because the Republicans won't let him." That is the second part of the Blame Game, focusing attention on radical elements and claiming the Republicans are the authors of all the problems with their pesky demands for proof, followed quickly by, "What about Bush's excesses and crimes? How do you defend them?"

Obfuscation, conflation, and pointing the accusatory finger at everyone else is what 5-year-old children do when they are caught with their hand in the cookie jar or with a baseball bat standing in front of a broken window. The conversation goes something like this:

"Who broke the window/took all the cookies?"

"Not me."

"You have the bat/cookes still in your hands."

"I picked them up. Someone else left them here."

"Then why does the ball have your name on it/are there cookie crumbs all over your face?"

"Someone stole the ball/hit me with a cookie before s/he ran out."

"How can you play baseball if someone stole your ball/why are there no cookie crumbs on the floor just on your shirt and all over your face?"

"I saw someone running away and picked up the bat/cookies."

And so it goes as the 5-year-old digs a deeper grave.

Obama and his supporters then begin the chant of, "you're a racist," which is supposed to throw the opposition into defense mode so Obama can scramble for a new line of defense.

It would take too long to go through the myriad excuses Obama uses, but he seems to rely on these above all:

Bush did it first; the Republicans keep getting in the way; the President doesn't create the economy; Bush left this mess and I'm just trying to clean it up. 

None of this passes the initial smell test and yet no one has yet done more than complain and threaten impeachment. That is when the evidence can be tracked down before it is lost, recycled, and/or destroyed, none of which sticks since Obama hasn't a clue what is going on when he finds out about it on the news or in a newspaper. I don't think we've had a president this clueless since Hoover? But maybe I'm being ungenerous. That happens when I see nothing but lies, obfuscation, and arrogance.

Actions that forced President Nixon to resign rather than being impeached are ignored in the news, except for Fox News, and the Republicans grumble and threaten, but that is no more effective than screaming at a child s/he's going to get a whipping when the whipping never comes.

The hallmark of an adult is his/her willingness to accept responsibility for wrongdoings and punishment for his/her wrongdoing. Don't hold your breath. Obama has proven one thing without question. He will not accept responsibility.

a man purportedly as smart as Obama, his excuses have become rote, lame, and laughable. Maybe that is why he has not been impeached, jailed, tried, and thrown in jail before now. He has provided this country and the world with a laugh track worthy of Benny Hill. It's what I call, God's Idiot Factor, and the reason he doesn't obliterate the perpetrator with lightning bolts or fire and brimstone. Even an omnipotent being needs a good belly laugh at times.

Too bad this laugh is on the American people. Even with the bay window in the living room busted and glass all over the floor or a whole jar of cookies gone, the excuses would make you laugh if you weren't so angry. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Art of Credit

My world has turned into a search for credit, good credit, excellent credit, credit that will buy my house. I have lived off the grid on a generous budget for about 20 years, living within my means, and still living well (with a hiccup here and there when money was tight for a few days and food scarce), but that is not good in this credit obsessed world. I must have excellent credit and credit is a trap. At least as far as I see it.

I've been where my bank account emptied because of my ex-husband's inability/unwillingness to pay his debts. No matter what the divorce decree said about who paid for what, all the creditors cared about was money, specifically, my money. An attorney emptied out my checking and savings account without notifying me, which they can do once, and I didn't find out about it until the check for my rent bounced. Then checks for utilities, phone, groceries, and a loan to a family member also bounced. That's when I found out I had NO money and when I decided to go off the grid. That was about 20 years ago.

Now I'm being forced to deal with credit again and it's confusing and complicated and like looking down the basement to Hell and knowing the only way to get where I want to go through is down into the darkness and through Hell.

The first step of my credit plan worked fine. And then things started happening. A bank credit card I had applied for sent me a letter asking why I had not sent the paperwork necessary to prove my identity. I already had, but they obviously had not received it yet. The next day as I was getting ready to call the bank and ask if they had the information yet, I received an email that congratulated me on my brand new credit card, listed the last 4 numbers of the card, and said the card would arrive in 7 business days. That will be the middle of next week. I have no idea what the limit is, but anything over $300 will be beneficial at this stage of the move. That cushion will put me over the hump so that even my most generous estimations will be secure. Better yet, I will soon be the accredited user of a bank credit card, not a debit card, and credit will be established and accruing points.

I already have a plan in place for that too. I will use that credit card instead of my debit card to pay for all purchases, like groceries, and set that amount aside on my debit card until the end of the month, at which time I will then pay off all but $10 or $15 of the balance. The mortgage broker, Ingrid, said I should keep a $10 to $15 balance on the card every month. I've always thought that paying off the whole balance every month was better, but evidently it is not. I prefer the pay the whole balance plan and thus save myself paying interest, but maybe the point is paying the interest. I don't know, but I have an alternate solution. I'll pay the balance off every other month and leave a $10 to $15 balance on the other months.

Now I find out that a bank credit card isn't enough. I should also have a store card, like J. C. Penney (they already turned me down because I don't have a credit rating) or Macy's or Sears (hard to get) or Neiman Marcus (high end, but would look good on the report). I'll just have to decide what store will look best on my credit report and buy myself something small every month or two. Probably every other month if I go with Neiman Marcus. Pay it off like the bank credit card and not leave a balance if it's Neiman Marcus, which will require me to save the money well in advance. I am moving into a brand new house and will need a lot of new things, like furniture, drapes, curtains, curtain rods, patio furniture, throw rugs for those awful commercial patterned rugs, etc. Talk about debt.

I don't want to get ahead of myself, especially not with credit. I'll plan what I need and buy it as I can afford it once the major expenses, like utilities, phone, WiFi, mortgage, and gas for the car, are paid off first. I can still live within my means by using credit as long as I keep my head. Too bad no one taught me that when I was a child.

That's the thing. Parents thrust their children out into the world without explaining how credit works and why it is important and how to write and live within a budget, etc. Children are unprepared for life as an adult, though kids yearn toward the time when they are no longer under their parents' thumbs and able to stay up late if they choose. When a child's dreams are set on drinking alcohol, deciding their own curfews, and choosing who they will and won't allow into their lives, something is definitely wrong. Parents should train their children how to be an adult the same way they taught their kids to ride a bike and swim and do the dishes.

I remember asking to take ballet lessons and to get a membership to the local swimming pool, which was $15 a summer, and being told no because my parents couldn't afford it. That baffled me for a long time. How could they not afford $15 when Mom wore tailor made clothes and formal dresses for Eastern Star every year that made my $15 membership to the pool look like  a tip? A closet full of shoes and blouses and suits, most of which still had the tags on, boxes of makeup, several jewelry boxes full of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and diamonds, but a $15 pool membership was too much to ask. That doesn't even take into the account the first edition books that filled several bookcases, the brand new furniture and carpets every 4 or 5 years with drapes to match, the brand new televisions, and the expensive vacations, but $15 for the pool was too much.

I got a job and paid for my own pool membership, but I still didn't have a clue about credit or how it works or how to manage a budget. That knowledge came after years of debt and marriages to two men who didn't have a clue about the true meaning of joint account and balancing the checkbook.

When it all comes down to it, I still would not have bought a house until now, but I probably would have had a lot more money in the bank for a down payment and excellent credit by now if I had only been taught and had known how important it all is.  I have learned, but the fire walk has been painful and long and it could have been avoided if my parents had taught me how it all worked.

I have learned patience and that I don't have to have something immediately. I have time to buy bedroom and office furniture for my house, time to choose and save for area and throw rugs for the living room and bedrooms, time to buy matching plates and good silverware, time to do it all and time to save for it even with credit. I can wait. I have time.

And now I have credit, but I'm still going to live within the budget that has kept me safe and not in debt to anyone. It will be the best of both worlds and a lesson well learned. Credit is a necessity, but good credit, even excellent credit, is an art.