Friday, July 21, 2006

You Don't Work? You Don't Eat.

That's a saying by one of my idols, Judge Judy Scheindlin, and I've been wanting to say it to my clients all day long.
I have 50 clients on my case load, most of whom receive a rent subsidy from the City of Chicago or HUD. The clients are required to pay 30% of their take-home pay toward their rent. Most of my clients are on disability and receive $604 per month and, therefore, pay $181 per month in rent (which includes all utilities). Pretty nifty.

Well, they all got a notice today that in order to keep receiving the subsidy, they had to go to Section 8 office and re-certify that they're actually eligible to receive the subsidy. It's something they have to do once a year.

Well, of all the whining and complaining! Imagine, having to walk four whole blocks and fill out paperwork! Oh! The injustice of it all.

I kept telling them, "You'll feel better once you realize that it takes some work to receive a subsidy." I finally told one angry client, "You know, I work forty hours a week to pay my rent. It takes some work to get your rent paid."

I keep having to remind myself that my little lambs are really mentally disabled and have had some pretty horrific backgrounds. And that the amount of tax dollars spent on such subsidies is a tiny drop in the bucket compared to what Bush is spending in Iraq doing his presidential batting practice.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Our Next President

John Edwards.

Wow, I can't wait for him to be our next President. How refreshing that would be!

This guy knows affliction like the rest of us. His son was killed in a car accident as a teenager. He put everything on hold while his wife recovered from cancer.

He's from the South. He's got great hair. Everyone loves him.

I'd do just about anything to make his life better.

That's what a presidential candidate needs to invoke.

Can anyone say that about Bush?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Portia to the Rescue

Portia's daddy, Steve, is a veterinarian so she's the healthy daughter of a doctor. (Portia is my "foster dog" since she stays with me whenever her daddies are out of town or on vacation). She really is THE most loveable dog that has ever walked this happy planet.

Portia really loves people and doesn't like to be alone, so on days when Steve has to work a long shift she often accompanies him to the clinic and stays in his office. She usually gets a bath there, too, since it's equipped with bathing facilities and drying cages. (Portia loves the drying cage).

It turns out that Portia is a universal blood donor. Since she's often there, she's been called upon to donate blood for a doggy in need; about a dozen times so far. She's so used to it by now that she doesn't even have to be held down on a table. She just stands on the floor, Steve pets her, telling her what a good dog she is while the blood is taken.

A couple of days ago, a little dog almost died after surgery and needed blood. Portia was driven to the clinic, she did her thing, and the next day the little dog was jumping into her owner's arms. Steve said that all the dogs who have received Portia's superb life-force have done very well afterward.

Is that a good dog, or what?!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Ten Things

Ten Things I can do:
1. Play "Flight of the Bumble Bee" on the piano
2. Put my left foot behind my neck
3. Write in Russian, printed and cursive
4. Speak with an English accent
5. Name the capital cities of every state and just about every country
6. Remember numbers
7. Make free-throws in basketball (nine in a row is my best)
8. Pull strudel dough
9. Ice skate
10. Spell "diahrrea"

Ten Things I cannot do:

1. Roll my R's as in the Spanish word "perro"
2. Play volleyball (I fall down every time I move forward to hit the ball)
3. Smoke weed
4. Allow tongues in my ear
5. Remember names of people
6. Eat food with my fingers (this includes popcorn)
7. Bowl
8. Watch the movie "Babette's Feast" without crying
9. Go hiking in the Pacific Northwest (because of Bigfoot)
10. Vote for a Republican

Ten Things always in my fridge/freezer
1. Anchovy paste
2. Carrots
3. Lemon grass
4. Leftover wine (frozen, for cooking)
5. Soy Moo
6. Dehydrated limes way in the back
7. Dehydrated ginger way in the back
8. Chili paste, Tabasco, pickled jalapenos (well, that's really three things, but get over it)
9. Gallon container of Aquafina (but it's really tap water)
10. Starbuck's Italian Roast

Ten Things never in my fridge/freezer
1. Milk (comes right back up if I drink it)
2. Cheese (doesn't come out if I eat it)
3. Eggs (what for?)
4. Ground turkey (gag!)
5. Batteries
6. Beer
7. Ice Cream
8. Frozen dinners
9. Coke (ca-Cola)
10. Fake meat (soy sausage, etc)

Ten places I'd love to visit:

1. North Korea
2. Russia
3. Iceland
4. Faroe Islands (look it up)
5. Canadian High Arctic
6. Greenland
7. India
8. Budapest
9. Finland
10. President Bush in prison

Ten Places I've no desire to visit:

1. South Korea
2. Hawaii (too touristy)
3. Any cruise liner (way too touristy)
4. California (it's just not "real")
5. Florida (the humidity)
6. Australia (the accent really bugs me)
7. Rome (too Catholic-y)
8. Grand Canyon (I just don't "get it")
9. Mount Rushmore (okay, now that we've seen it, we're in effing South Dakota)
10. New Orleans (because the oysters all died)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Trip to Texas

It's been ten years this month since I moved away from Texas. Every time I go home for a visit, Texas seems a little more foreign to me and I'm a little bit more amazed that I grew up there.

I was there for eleven days on this trip. I flew in to Austin and rented a car for the 100 mile drive south which is my usual plan. Near my home town is the small town of Luling, Texas, the Watermelon Capital of Texas. They had just finished with their festival, the annual "Watermelon Thump". They've recently painted their water tower to look like an oblong watermelon. See the pic? That a round water tower.

Luling also has a gazillion oil pumps all throughout the town which has always looked really tacky (they smell bad, too). So, the good citizens got together and decorated them all, (probably after they finished having the water tower painted) in order to disguise them. Here's a pic of an oil pump decorated as Snoopy doing the Red Baron thing. I'll leave the judgment up to you.

If you think that town is strange, just go down the road a bit and you'll arrive in my home town. Turkey production is the main industry there, so naturally, there's the annual Turkey Fest. It used to be called the Turkey Trot because years ago, the local turkey farmers would herd all their turkeys down main street to be processed, sort of like the Running of the Bulls, but with turkeys. Hundreds of thousands of turkeys. I'm not making this up! (See the photo, circa 1956). They later attached a parade to it. I remember marching in the Turkey Trot every year when I was in the high school band. They don't feature turkeys in the parade anymore, but they do have turkey races which are called the Great Gobbler Gallup. There's also Turkey Bowling where contestants bowl with frozen turkeys. A real hoot. The high school mascot is, naturally, the Gobbler. My sister was a cheerleader; a Gobblerette. I'm not making this up!

My Dad is truly a Texan, very Republican, but we get along pretty great and I really admire the guy. He had recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C. where he did some politicking and was pleased as punch to have met George Bush. (Pic attached). For some strange reason, he wasn't as pleased to have met Nancy Pelosi which I would have much preferred over the former. For some other strange reason, Dad neglected to inform Bush that his eldest son is a member of the Illinois Socialist Party. I don't know why. Dang.

Just to tell you how Republican my Dad is, when I drove up, he'd just finished washing and waxing his new riding lawn mower. That's how Republican he is! Ya gotta love the guy. Many people do.

Like I said, we get along just fine. Dad got a good laugh from the look on my face when we were watching TV and he changed the channel to watch Bill O'Reilly. (We watched something else).

Things I like about Texas:

1. The speed limit was just raised to 80 mph on Interstate 10. Pretty cool. Watch out for deer and loose moo-cows.

2. Blue Bell Ice Cream. Only sold in Texas and it really is The Best ice cream you've ever tasted. You can have it shipped to you - - - four gallons for a hundred bucks. Really.

3. Tex-Mex food. Mexican food might be served all over now, but Tex-Mex is way different. It's spicier, greasy, bold, and big. Just like many Texans. So good, "It'll make you fall on the floor and just holler," as my grandmother used to say.

4. Friendly people. Every time I go home, I notice right away how friendly everyone is. It's not something I really miss and I don't think people are un-friendly in Chicago, but the easy way people will just smile and chat a bit is pretty refreshing.

Things I don't like about Texas

1. The Heat and humidity. God! It's just amazing. From April through October, the temps and humidity are usually above 90.

2. The bugs. I'd forgotten about all the bugs down there. Giant mosquitoes, wasps, locusts, and chiggers. They also have these flying cockroaches that jump really high and then fly up in your face.

3. High School Football. Why an entire town will turn out every Friday night to watch their youth to assault each other is beyond me.

4. The Heat and Humidity. Did I mention that?

Raised from the Dead

Perhaps that's a bit dramatic, but I am feeling better and went back to work today after seeing my doctor. If anyone you know gets the shingles, you have my unalloyed permission to feel really sorry for them.

It also made me really appreciate the fact that I have medical insurance. Sitting in the emergency room with a temperature of 103 and counting the moments until a doctor could provide some relief is just about the most unpleasant thing I've been through in a long time. (I only had to wait 20 minutes). I cannot imagine having to go to a public hospital and wait for six hours in that condition, or worse, have a child who would have to suffer that long.

If I were King of the U.S., I'd mandate that all insurance CEO's, medical lobbyists, and George Bush be required to spend six hours in a public hospital waiting room with a temperature of 103 (give 'em diahrrea, too). We'd have Universal Health Care in no time.

Hey, on the bright side, I lost seven pounds. I should write a diet book.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sick Puppy

Yes, it turns out I really was sick. Saturday morning, about 1:00 am, I awoke with really bad chills. During the next hour, the fever went from 101 to 103. At that point, I hauled myself into a cab to the nearest emergency room. I really felt terrible. Still do.

Whine. . .

Ready for this? I've got a case of the shingles. That's what the pain on the side of my face was. I saw four doctors at the emergency room, was given an anti-viral Rx and something for the pain. I woke The Healthypants up in the middle of the night just to let someone know where I was.

So, I'm stocked up with lots of Progresso clam chowder, minestrone, and I made a pot of split pea soup. Talk about comfort food . . .

Thanks for the well-wishes. I'll post more about the Texas trip with some really funny pics when I feel better.

Whine . . .