What is Washboard Express?

Washboard Express is a way for me to express my own opinions, to be a provocative gadfly, by writing a "letter a day" to the President. I may miss a day here and there, because sometimes my family with be my first priority, but my goal is to write a total of 365 letters, representing one full year. To say I have opinions about most things would be to understate the obvious. Those of you that know me, know this is true, those who don't know me, will learn that it's true. The Washboard is a reference to going back to basics and "keeping it clean," so if you would like me to post your comments or opinions on this blog, I only ask that you be respectful. So go ahead, express yourself, and I look forward to an exchange of ideas and opinions.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What February Means to Me

February is one of those months that cause ambivalence in me, and I'm sure many others as well.

The family & friend birthdays are over at the beginning of the month, so the cards are sent at the end of January... I make my notes on the January calendar so the cards don't arrive late.

When I was a kid we used to have two Presidents holidays, one for Lincoln on the 12th and one for Washington on the 22nd. I can't remember when they changed all the holidays to be on a Monday and incorporated two great presidents into one, but for me it wasn't a good sign. Yes, it simplified things, but for who, I'm not sure. I guess it saved money for employers, as they only had to pay employees for one holiday, and I get that. But what about those two presidents? There can only be one First President of the United States, so I definitely think Ol' George deserves his own day. And Lincoln kept this country together, he opposed slavery and knew that a divided country could not stand forever. So I think Lincoln deserves his own day too.

Now in the middle there is Valentines Day... a day for lovers, for couples, but what about all those people who are alone and without a significant other? What day is designated for singles? What's that I hear? Hallmark has discovered how to capitalize on a day designated for single people. Why is that? Do they not think anyone cares enough to send the very best to a person by themselves? Isn't that exactly the kind of person who needs someone to say they care? So I'm blaming and shaming Hallmark for not having a day where we recognize the people who live alone. And for those of you who do care, take time to send them a valentine this year, just to let them know you're thinking of them too.

And finally, February 22nd is not only Washington's Birthday, but it's my brother Dennis' birthday also. I haven't heard from my brother in almost 5 years, I'm not even sure if he is alive or not. That is a terrible feeling and makes me incredibly sad, because the last time I saw him I was putting him on a bus back to the bay area and back to homelessness. What kind of a sister would do that? At the time I believed it was necessary because he was unable to quit drinking and I couldn't continue to support him in his apartment without that condition.

Yes, we helped him after his stroke, we took him in before and again after his heart surgery, and we took him back and forth to his Dr. appointments. My sister Marian and I split the cost of his new dentures and dental work, we bought him cloths, and restored him to a reasonable state of health, which took a little over a year. In that year he did not drink, not even a beer, those were the conditions. We tried to get him into Yountville, a home for Vets, but the waiting list was over a year. So my friends helped me furnish an apartment so he could be independent again, we bought him a TV for his birthday, and set up a bank account with all his saved VA benefits. Dennis loved the apartment, it had it's own little yard so he could BBQ if he wanted to. It had a gym and a swimming pool, and was in a very nice neighborhood... we thought he could manage on his own now.

We were wrong... he started drinking again, and his apartment turned into a pig sty. He was buying things from home shopping channel... things like coins and misc. gems not worth anything. He didn't eat right and he stopped meals on wheels which would bring him food once a week. He was rapidly heading back to being homeless again, and I couldn't stand to see it. So I put him on a bus with everything he could carry and sent him back to the bay area.

I never heard from him again. I still don't know if he's alive or dead... I just know that February is a sad month for me. Sad because I'm not alone and some many others are, and sad because I think my brother is alone and I should have prevented it.

February is not my favorite month.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

You Can't have it Both Ways

During the run-up to the last election we heard a great deal of talk about immigration reform, problems at the border, murders, drugs... you name it, we heard about it, and how much it was costing this country and the taxpayers.

Now we hear how much it's costing our border towns in lost revenue because people are no longer traveling to these "unsafe" towns. Well, you can't have it both ways... if the towns are so unsafe and the immigrations problems so great, then you can't expect people to come there to spend money. So which is it? Safe or unsafe?

A recent article claims that the border towns are actually safer then they've been in years. El Paso, which is directly across the border from Ciudad Juarez, in Mexico, is one of the safest communities in the US. San Diego posted it's lowest crime rates since 1963. Since 1990, the 24 border counties have seen a reduction in crime of 30 percent. The fact is that illegal immigration is down, deportations are rising and crime rates are dropping.

Border patrol agents have risen from 10,00 in 2004 to more than 20,700 today. This increase has also allowed more seizures of illegal drugs and weapons. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano concludes that "this work will only get stronger with comprehensive immigration reform."

In a recent interview with the Editorial Board of the Sac Bee, our illustrious Congressman, Dan Lungren says the increased Border Patrols have helped, but believes that "if you attach the word 'comprehensive'  it dies." Say what? What the hell does that mean? Isn't that just what Republicans has been yapping about for years now... the need for 'comprehensive' immigration reform? Does Congressman Lungren know what comprehensive means? It means, complete; including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something: wide-ranging. Isn't that exactly what we do want?

What am I missing here? Is Lungren suggesting that we continue to put band aids on the problem? He wants to see more improvement in security at the border. Wouldn't a comprehensive plan toward that goal be just what is needed? Somebody help me out here, what is it that I don't understand?

Eight mayors, including San Diego and Calexico wrote that "border cites are some of the safest in the nation." Really? Thirteen mayors have formed a U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association to persuade people to tone down the rhetoric on border violence. Wow! Who knew? To hear our illustrious pols talk you'd think just the opposite was true.

So which is it? Safe or not safe? Is what Homeland Security says, working or not working? Is crime indeed down or are they just upset because the tourist dollars are dwindling? Do we want 'comprehensive' reform, or do we want the band aid approach?

You tell me... I just know you can't have it both ways.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We Blew it!

Last week we were away for a few days for some R & R, and yes, I admit it... we wanted to get out of the fog and go some place warm.

As we always do, we arranged for a pet sitter to come in and feed Koa our 4 pound Yorkie, Kia our 16 pound cat, and Vinny our African Grey Parrot. She has done this many times in the past, lives just two doors down, has a key and knows the drill regarding each completely spoiled pet. We left Monday morning after taking care of their morning routine, and the pet sitter was to come in Monday night and then each morning and night through Friday.

We arrived home just after 11:00 pm on Friday night. The first thing I noticed was dog doody in the garage, which is fine, that's where he's supposed to go when we can't let him out in the back yard. Going up the stairs I noticed that cat litter box was full... I instantly knew that our pet sitter had not come at all while we were away. As soon as I opened the door to the house there were two very thirsty, but happy, animals greeting us with as much enthusiasm as they possibly could. The first thing I did was grab their water bowl and fill it so they could have a much needed drink. There was still a small amount of food in the feeder, so I knew they weren't as hungry as they were thirsty. The parrot was hollering "hello, hello, hello", just as loud as he could. He had a bit of water left but no food. I immediately gave him an almond while I filled his food dish and gave him some fresh water.

We were absolutely sick to think they had been there all week without anyone to take care of their daily needs and provide the companionship they deserve when their people are away. Thankfully they were fine and we lavished extra love, kisses, and hugs with full apologies for a very long time that night.

What a disaster this could have been. What if we'd been gone longer than five nights? What if there water bowl had been a lot smaller and the food feeder not full?

This was totally our fault. They are our pets, we are responsible for their care. We broke two cardinal rules... 1. ALWAYS confirm with the pet sitter the night before. 2. ALWAYS call to see how things are going and if there are any questions. We did neither. I thought about it, but our pet sitter is a very responsible person and dearly loves not only our animals, but all animals. I also knew that if anything had happened to her, that her husband would have made arrangements for our pets care. I'll say it again, it was our fault.

It doesn't matter how it happened, the fact is it did happen, and it would never have happened if we had only followed those two simple rules. The good news is, the animals are fine and like all animals, very forgiving. One thing I can absolutely guarantee... IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What is Washboard Express?

Washboard Express is a way for me to express my own opinion about everyday things or events, and allow others to chime in as well. To say I have an opinion about most things would be to understate the obvious. Those of you that know me, know this is true, those who don't know me, will learn that it's true.  The Washboard is a reference to "keep it clean," if you would like me to post your comments or opinions on this blog. So go ahead, express yourself, be respectful and try to keep it short. I look forward to an exchange of ideas and opinions.

Common Sense ~ Common Courtesy

It's always interesting to see comments that others leave on Facebook, regarding one subject or another posted on someone's wall. Often, they mistakenly believe that only the person whose wall it is can see it. Not so. Everyone that is a friend of that person can see it as well.

Recently my grand daughter posted a quote from Shakespeare, and her boyfriend posted a comment asking what the (expletive) she meant and called her a flake. I then left a comment stating that he should show more respect for her and her friends, and family, by not posting rude remarks and swear words on her wall. My granddaughter posted that it was just a joke, and no big deal. I'm sorry, to me it is a big deal... it shows a lack of respect for her and a lack of common courtesy to those who are her "friends" and "family". If he can't see or understand that, then he needs some education in proper manners.

I only ask that when posting a comment on another persons wall, please keep in mind who else might see it, and yes, as a grand parent I'm particularly sensitive to how my grand daughter is treated... even on Facebook.