Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Athlete Of The Year

I was an athlete when I was younger. I had sponsors. Free racquets, shoes, clothes. I didn't get paid to win, but sports companies would give me free stuff because I won racquetball tournaments on a top amateur level. I didn't really love competing, but my significant other had a Tiger Woods gig going, and I thought that if I was a top player, that I could keep the home team home, if you know what I mean. Although he never won a state, regional, or national championship, which I regularly did, he would consistently tell me that I wasn't an athlete ... like him. You see; "Athletes are born. They're natural. They don't have to work as hard because it's just natural." For years, as I won tournament after tournament, he continued to try to convince me that I wasn't really an athlete. I either won by luck, or because everybody else played bad. I might not have been a natural athlete, but I won while I was raising a small child, teaching aerobics, and managing a large athletic complex. Now, to my point;

This week, Tiger Woods was named the BET Male Athlete of The Year, and Serena Williams was named AP Female Athlete of The Year. Whoopie! Seems like the "Athletes" just became more elite than ever. I get it now. They're either "born" cheaters, or possibly "born" to lose it and tell a tournament official that you'll stuff a ball down their throat! It all makes sense to me now. This is why so many athletes fall along the wayside for bad behavior, drug addiction, and sex scandals. You're just "born" that way. You're special. We bow down to you. No matter how you behave.

I'm not saying that Tiger or Serena don't deserve their new designations, nor that they didn't work harder than me. I'm just saying ... If their behavior is what wins you the title of "Athlete of The Year," then my X was right. I'm not an athlete. Nor, will I ever be.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Turn Off The Lights!

I've heard people say that Realtors are low life. Dirt you-know-whats. I've worked for realtors, even some nice ones. I've recently passed the Oregon Real Estate Licensing exam, so I might even be one someday. I've never really thought negatively about them. Until now. That is, I've got my house for sale, so different Buyers Agents have been showing it. My Agent is the Seller's Agent. She sets up the showings. But then ... The Buyer's Agent, who has never met me, and knows or cares nothing about me, comes in and tries to sell my house and my style to someone else.

I DO believe in Global Warming. We are very conscientious about how much power that we use. When we leave a room, the lights get turned off. If for nothing else, to conserve our own hard-earned money. Now, here's my problem. On Saturday, whoever the realtor is that showed my house, turned on EVERY light switch on the wall. If there was a switch for the light and the ceiling fan, they both got turned on. In the garage, there's a switch for the garage lights (two), in addition to the outside driveway lights (two). Then, in the bathrooms, there are light strips with 6 vanity bulbs each. That's THREE bathrooms, 18 bulbs. We don't even use those fixtures when we're using the bathrooms, let alone walk away and leave them on!

That's my problem. How does a complete stranger get the authority to come in to my house, turn on lights, then have the BALLS to walk away and LEAVE THEM ON? Don't believe in Global Warming? Then, believe in the INVOICE that you're about to receive.

I can't affect what these types of people do in their own home, but I sure wish that I could. Don't think that I should send an invoice? I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good-Bye 2009!

It's coming on 2010 and I can't think of any year that I've wanted to end as much at this one. I'm a glass-half-full type, and will continue to be, only if the next year will come on a little more softly than the last. 2009 started on a positive note. We had two rental properties leased up with great tenants, a brand new house to live in, Al had a great job with benefits and retirement, and my Equine Programs were going well. Then ... The BIG clobber! First, one tenant lost their job and moved out, then the next. Then, with both units vacant, Colorado laws changed where I was no longer able to teach Animal Therapy, and AL GOT LAID OFF! OUCH!

With two vacant rentals, 3 substantial mortgages, and no buyers in sight, the prospect of living on unemployment with no health insurance became a very frightening reality. Wow. There we were, in the same boat as most Americans in the middle of a recession. Screwed.

As we do, Al and I sat down and hashed out a plan. First, we distributed 200 resumes to every possible employer in our area. We were busily running on empty worrying that we would lose it all and end up in a tent city. We hired a Realtor to list the rentals, but she was so depressed herself that it was difficult to talk to her. She was nothing but gloom. Every time I'd see the tent people on TV, it would scare me to death. This was soon to be us.

I listed every extra item that we owned on Craigslist. EVERYTHING. Whatever made me think that we were going to sell our brand new "Fun Finder" travel trailer to someone in the middle of a great recession was beyond me. Especially since the going price was thousands less than we owed. But, we persevered. We did have several people look at the trailer, but they didn't want to pay much for it. Eventually, we made the sacrafice and ended up taking $2,000. out of savings to contribute to the highest offer. We paid it off, and sold it.

Next, we shaved down every possible expense. We cut our TV services to the bare minimum. We cancelled our land line service with Qwest. We lowered our car insurances to liability only. Fortunately, we had re-financed the house for a lower payment BEFORE Al got laid off, so that was as low as it could be. Since we were coming into the spring, I planned the biggest garden that I had ever planted. This year, however, would have to come from seeds rather than the previously purchased seedlings from a local nursery. As opposed to the previous year, all flowers and vegetables were grown from seed rather than seedlings. Ha! This was the difference of about $20.00 for the entire landscape as opposed to over $1,000 the year before. And, what a garden we had, I might add. We saved thousands of dollars on food that summer!

In March, Al was hired by a Plumbing Company that's been around for a while. A small company, but busy nonetheless. $3.00 less per hour than his previous job, no company car or gas, no retirement, very expensive insurance for me, but a job. All in all, around $1,600. per month less than before. Even so ... Yay! Since things appeared to be turning positive for us, I decided to try to find a more positive realtor who eventually sold both rental units to first time buyers under the governments first time buyer tax rebate.

Where are we now? When things eventually turn around, we'll be the most efficient household in the country! Our expenses are carved down to the minimum. Our mortgage is as low as possible. The garden is in place for our next spring planting (seeds, no matter how much money that we have), and our house is for sale. We haven't lost any equity in the house because of it's location in Colorado. We both published books which had been labors of love sitting on the shelf when we were busy, and now they're on Amazon!

Having lived in Oregon for many of my younger years, I know about the simple lifestyle there. Most people grow their own vegetables. There are community co-ops for bartering many services tax free, and prices are much lower than Colorado with no sales tax on purchases. I've recently passed the Oregon Real Estate Exam, and applied for a non-active license until I can get back there. Even though unemployment is high in Oregon, Al and I are very positive about our plans. We've made it through the toughest of times. We've got an emergency fund in the bank. COBRA is expensive for me and will run out this year, but we're grateful that we never ended up in a tent, we're both healthy, and the future can only be brighter than the recent past.

God bless us all. We Americans are a resilient people. We will get through this. Jobs will come back, money will flow, and we'll all be talking about 2009 for years to come! Happy Holidays, everyone. Please take a breath and do something nice for yourself, or for someone else. We have a lot to be grateful for, believe it or not. Good Luck on your job hunt, and I hope that 2010 brings positive changes for us all! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pure and Honest

It's rare that one is willing to show vulnerability. Especially those of the male species. This recent youtube posting is just so darned honest and pure that I couldn't help but post it here for all to see. This is a talented little Ukelele plucker with something special. Too cute!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTCzJWrgFbE

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sarah Palin must be high on lipstick!

Sarah Palin must be high on lipstick! In her piece in yesterday's Washington Post (NOT written by her, I believe), she claims that the summit in Copenhagen this week is based on agenda driven policies that won't change the weather and will merely drive up debt. She further claims that future climate research should be based on sound science and not political agendas as it is now.

Sarah, aren't YOU the one with ethical issues? You’re like the pot calling the kettle black, or the rat that smells the cheese first. You eat too much red meat, woman. Pit bulls do get aggressive when they eat raw meat. Back off and do your homework. You're fortunate to live in Alaska where you can look out on miles of fresh, green terrain.

Of course, it's hard to believe that there are parts of the world where people can hardly breathe because of the pollutants in the environment. Don’t you read the news? This is a global problem, not a Wasilla trailer park issue.

Palin also writes about how the Climate-Gate villains would not allow their critics to speak their minds in "Peer-reviewed Journals." Ha ha ha. I think that was her dig at Katie Couric for asking her what she reads. That would make a good answer in future interviews. Question; "What do you read to keep up on world issues, Sarah?" Answer by Sarah: "Mostly peer-reviewed journals." There you go. Check that off of her 2012 campaign list. She’s got one answer prepared already.

Read Sarah Palin's "Piece";

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/08/AR2009120803402.html

Thursday, December 3, 2009

High unemployment? DO YOUR JOB!

We've made it through a recession, sort of, but lots of people still out of work. The thing that shocks me is the people who have jobs that just don't appreciate them. I've had recent problems with a lazy gal in the doctors office who just didn't want to see my new insurance card, let alone make a copy of it. Consequently, my doctor bill and the resulting lab bills were all denied. Why? Because the lazy @#$%& didn't want to take the time to do her job. Okay, I made it past that one by getting on the phone and taking three hours of my time and lots of paperwork to get it right. Okay, that one's behind me.

Another problem that I had this week was with a speeding ticket that I got about a month ago. FOUR points on your record, or only two points if you pay it on time. I rushed down to the court house to pay my $162.00 fine (before my utility bill, I might add) just to get the points lowered. What did I receive this week? A WARRANT and 4 points on my license. Why? "Oops, my mistake." The court clerk lost or didn't credit my payment. By mistake! Okay, cool. I keep every receipt. I took it back to her, and so she says that it's been taken care of, but that I should call the DMV in a couple of weeks to follow up. You mean the 800 number that puts you on hold for 30 minutes or more, then hangs up? Wow. She's as lucky as the gal in the doctors office to have a job!

Those are just mistakes make by people who are lucky to have a job. This last complaint, however, is to wish BAD Karma on those people lucky enough to be employed delivering mail. I'm not going to slander the post office, because I know that there are a lot of mail delivery people that are contractors for the post office. I am going to state the facts about my mail delivery experiences lately ...

I ship a lot of books. Say ... 25 a week, at least. In the beginning, when people started telling me or commenting on EBay that the package was opened when it arrived, I couldn't believe it. I ship a tightly taped package! It's hard to believe that it would arrive opened! So, I started taping everything in both directions, all the way around. The next report that I received was a package that arrived empty. Cut with something sharp. Who would steal my books?

Just this week, I've gotten two comments from people who received books from me triple taped in both directions, both of them opened. So, what's the deal here? Are you BAD ELVES in the mail system looking for money? Are you sub contractors who think that you won't get caught.Why are you cutting my packages open? Don't you thank God every day that you have a job at all? Who are you and why are you doing this? Are you looking for checks?

If you are indeed employed people ravaging through people's mail, I wish you Bad Karma. I hope that you lose your job and your home. We've all been through a tough year. Stealing is a crime. You're not only violating me and my customers, but you're violating the laws of man during really hard times. Bad Elves. Bad, bad Elves!

People, be sure to tape and track your packages. There are some bad elves out there. I hope that their families aren't the ones to go hungry when Karma strikes, because it will!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Meal Was Spectacular!

Happy Holidays everybody! Wow. Our vegetarian Thanksgiving was really good. It wasn't necessarily a health or spiritual decision, just something that we decided to do. It had a little to do with running the stove all day for two people ... and the foil that you use, and the grease in the gravy, and the cost of raising a turkey, and, of course, the death of the turkey. It was just something that we did.

My biggest fear was making a gravy without meat. I started by chopping, then really browning some mushrooms. I cooked them for a while longer than I normally would. Then, I made gravy as I would have with grease, but used fresh herbs and spices. The rest was a breeze. We had dressing on the side, mashed potatoes, green beans, homemade cranberry sauce, cheese enchiladas, rolls, salad and pumpkin pie.

This was a memorable Thanksgiving for us! We've decided to do it this way from now on!

Our house is still for sale. Not a tire kicker in sight! Notta one! We're actually enjoying the warmth and comfort for now. It's kinda scarry knowing that if someone came along and bought it and wanted to be moved in by Christmas, we'd have to go to Oregon and buy a house ASAP. Kinda scarry, allright.

I sent the final application off for my Oregon Real Estate license today. Had to wait for the background check after I passed the exam, so it's finally done. Now, I guess we'll just keep moving forward with our business plans for the future.

Happy Holidays!

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