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Sunday, March 28, 2010

GONE TO THE DOGS : )

                 CHARLIE'S NAP TIME.

*Big Sigh* Ahhh... Sunday. It's the day before Monday–one day after Saturday and quite possibly the best day of the week. A day to rest up, relax and re-charge for what one can only hope is a productive week ahead!  

I'm neck deep in edits and used last week to move a few short-story pieces forward with the intent of entering them into some literary contests that I've come across. Contests–if a writer can place in one, are an almost sure bet to getting an agent's attention. 

The competition is stiff as well-established literary journals receive thousands upon thousands of submissions, but you never know, some lucky writer has to win, right? So last week and the week forthcoming that's what I'll be busy doing, but today, I will push away from the computer keys (after this post, that is) and I will re-charge  : ) 

Sunday. Is there any better day? I think not, and my pal, Charlie seems to agree! 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Boy Who Cried "Hawk"

Yonas, my gregarious eight year old came running in the house the other day. His eyes were big and his face animated. He said, "Mom! This giant bird like thing–looked like a owl or something- just crashed into my head and almost carried me away!"
Now, you have to know my Yonas. He's been known to stretch things a bit to make a story really good, so in my mind I'm thinking it was maybe a sparrow that sort of darted across his path, right?

"No Mom! It was really BIG!! And it attacked me!" He grabbed his head and yanked his hair. "I think it wanted to eat my head!"

I started to laugh at his silly antics.  I smiled wisely and patted his head.  "Yonas, now what have I told you about exaggerating the truth? Don't you remember that story about the boy who cried wolf?"

He nodded his head. "Yes, he didn't tell the truth and when he did nobody believed him."

"Right. Now come on, let's forget about the giant "attack" bird that tried to carry you off and let's go make some lunch, how about it?" 

He shrugged."Sure mom, okay...but I'm not joking, really, the bird tried to eat my head." He looked up at me with sweet, brown eyes. "Can I have salami?"

"Yes, Yonas, you can have salami." And that was about the extent of it...until about a week later when there was a letter from animal control in my mailbox that went as follows:

RE: Red Shoulder Hawks

We have received several phone calls about a pair of very aggressive hawks roosting in a tree near the creek along Blank Drive.
These hawks have a nest with eggs in it. That is why they are being so aggressive. The eggs should hatch very soon, then the parents will be busy feeding the baby hawks, and hopefully not have time to attack people walking by.

We suggest that you avoid the area for the time being. If that's not possible, then wear a hat to protect your head, and carry an umbrella. The birds will hit the umbrella or you can swing it to defend yourself should they attack.

The letter went on to say about what hawks like to eat (mice, rats rabbits, snakes, frogs) and that they probably wouldn't carry off any children...

Well, if Yonas was the boy who cried wolf, then I'm the mom that ate crow! I showed Yonas the letter and we told Dad and everybody ended up having a good laugh. "I told you so, MOM!!" He laughed.
I raised my right hand, "Yonas, I promise that I will never doubt you again!"
And I won't! The next time Yonas comes to me with a big whopper of a story, you can bet that I'll believe it! : )



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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Health Care Costs and HIV


One of the most daunting aspects of having HIV today for me is not the virus itself, if you can imagine, but the worry that I could lose my health coverage and access to the life-saving medicines that have enabled my children and I to stay healthy and productive–driving the virus so low in our bloodstreams that the virus is rendered almost uninfectuous. I cannot imagine what would have become of us had it not been for our having health insurance. 

We did come close to losing our health care once, years back, when my husband was laid off at work and the health care that was provided through his employer was in danger of expiring. Had we not been able to secure an individual health care plan within the allotted time given, we would not only have lost our coverage, but also our ability to secure another policy due to mine and my children's pre-existing illness (HIV). I don't even know how to describe how helpless and frightening that was. 
 
HIV medicines and health coverage are very expensive and many people here in our own country cannot afford it. Each and every year the cost of our insurance goes up by the hundreds. There are no caps and no competition to drive the prices down. We have no choice but to pay it as without the medicine, we would die. I don't want to say that our health insurance carrier has tried to price us out of the game, we're fortunate in many aspects just to have it, but how many middle-income families do you know who have to pay  $1,900 dollars each and every month for their family's health care? On top of that, there are still the doctor and prescription co-pays that run anywhere from twenty to fifty dollars. There's a lot of money being made off of an illness that is now manageable–yet still incurable.

We've all heard the old adage, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it." The problem though, is that our current system for health care isn't working for many American people. I'm hoping that the new health care bill passes today as it not only gives people like myself security and options, but also creates the necessary incentives for health-care companies, and big-business pharmaceuticals to grow more competitive with their pricing, as well. 

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Apples


Last night I'm flipping through the pages of The Saturday Evening Post when I come across this old-fashioned recipe for baked apples on the grill. First off, let me shamelessly admit that I am not, nor will I ever claim to be, the apple baking, pie crust rolling type, but sometimes life warrants that you step out of your box and try something that you otherwise would never EVER do. That said, my girl, Alee and I are taking a totally out-of-character, off the charts big chance by baking apples today. There's nothing chancy about baking apples, you say? Well, then you haven't seen Alee and I together in the kitchen before. This could get very messy VERY quick. Stay tuned, friends...
We did it!! : ) Okay, so the apples have been in the oven for about fifteen minutes now and I'm not kidding when I say that my whole house is smelling crazy, happy, wonderful good! Which is a welcome thing because this weekend did not get off to the greatest start. Friday began with a hail storm and it's been drizzling rain ever since. With no outside play, the boys have been glued to the PlayStation for hours, but I've got a feeling "the apples" may bring them out of their cave very soon.  In fact, I think I hear them coming now : )

I was right... Happy apples, happy kids! A great rainy day recipe, for sure : ) 
 
(Pre-heat oven 375 degrees)
 
4 medium tart apples, cored (I like honey-crisp)
1/3 cup raisens
1/3 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*Boil 1/2 cup of water and pour into bottom of pan and bake for 30-40 minutes (until tender but not mushy) or, if it's not raining, wrap in foil and stick on the grill for 20!

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

                  Hilbillie shack somewhere in  KY

There's no place like home. Sun's shining in Kentucky–laundry's going–the songbirds outside are singing, and I just finished up with a couple carefully selected agent queries and hit the send button. Life is good...verging on great, even. I have to admit though, that this time every year I get the itch to travel. I'm sure that it has something to do with the long, cold winters. There's just so much that I want to see and do!

This desire to hit the open road may also have something to do with my upbringing. My mother was a bit of a "Gypsy," and growing up we never stayed in one place for very long. This had its drawbacks, but the experiences and adventures we had I wouldn't change for anything. It was very exciting as a child to whiz across a state-line marker at sixty-miles an hour. "Welcome to Nevada!" or "You are now entering Utah" We'd dine in roadside eateries and stay in rainy night hotels while we were in transit. What struck me the most, though, was how the minute we'd cross a state line, everything changed. It was like some invisable shift. The weather, the terrain, and especially the people, just like that–changed. Not only did they look differently, but even the way people talked was different. Yes, beautiful Californians you too have an accent!

Born in Pocatello, Idaho I lived in five different states and went to more schools than I care to count, all before the age of seventeen. It wasn't until I met and married my husband of now twenty-two years that all that changed. We moved to Kentucky when our oldest daughter was just four and we've lived here now for fifteen years! I guess you could say I've grown roots. It was very important to me that my children have stability. I wanted them to have a sense of community and belonging. Most importantly, I didn't want them to have to change schools multiple times as that had proved difficult for me. Roots. They are a good thing, but so is adventure and exploring the world around you. I'm grateful for every experience I had growing up, and as winter drones on I find myself eager for warm weather and opportunities to hit the road, but no matter where I go or what adventure in life I seek, it's nice to know that I will always come back to where the laundy's going and the songbirds are singing; the place where all my dreams were born...that place I chose to raise my children, no matter what, will always be home. 
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Monday, March 1, 2010

"Girls Day Out"... Plus a Boy Or Two.

From about the time my oldest, Alee, was four or five we began having what we called our "Girls Day Out." We'd usually go hang out somewhere fun, catch a movie, or go have a fancy lunch somewhere complete with white linen napkins and decadent desserts. Whatever we did–the only for sure thing was that it always ended with ice-cream.

I have to add here that I've adjusted pretty well to my girl being away at college. I'm actually down to one box of tissue which is way better than my usual four! : ) Still, heart of iron that I am, I do look forward to seeing little glimpses of her on the weekends. Last weekend we'd made fabulous plans to go see a play, and then as luck had it I came down with a lousy cold that nixed our day. The weekend before that Alee'd had plans with her friends, SO, I was counting down the days for this Saturday to roll around.  Finally, it was the weekend and my college girl was home! And then one thing happened after another. First, Clay was now down with my rotten cold, and no way could I ask him to watch Yonas. Big brother, Mitch was a no-go because he had a movie date, and needed a ride... Our "Girls Day Out" was not looking good. 

And then we got an idea. We revised our "G-D-O" to include a boy, or two. Hey, why not? Yonas certainly enjoyed the attention, Mitch made it to the movies, and we girls still got to end the date with–you guessed it–ice-cream! And in the end, a good time was had by all : )



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