Down with the tree!

I always used to mulch my Christmas tree and used the center pole for plants. I have gotten lazy with that, however. I still do as my grandparents and mom and throw my coffee grounds in the flower beds though.

Wednesday was a cold morning, in the high teens, and Stewie and I were in perfect form. Both he and I (along with Mary Kay) had all managed to be sick at the same time. Once again, we are healthy at the same time.

After a somewhat leisurely morning, Mike came over to set up the production of his chicken stock, a good thing since we had attempted to served the grandkids their favorite soup and Mary Kay had substituted College Inn chicken broth. It did not go over well. Both grandkids refused to eat it. MK made sure to contact Mikey and he came over to make some. A huge pot of soup ended up on the stove. The soup meat spent a brief moment in the oven being turned a bit golden. Besides all the chicken and the huge amount of bones was a duck. It is slowly simmering on the stove as we speak.

While Mike was preparing the stock, I was pulling out the Christmas storage boxes from the crawl space and putting things away. I got so far along that I started removing the ornaments from the tree and then I pulled off the lights. The tree somehow seemed to be in great condition despite the fact that it had been up for a while. When I had completely denuded the tree, Mike was done with the soup preparation and he held on to the tree as I released it from its stand and then he took it outside to the sidewalk. Luckily, such trees become mulch in Deerfield.

I then had the job of vacuuming the carpet and putting things back in order, always a good feeling after Christmas. The only real evidence of Christmas is my mother’s ceramic Christmas tree and the Spode Christmas China.

Another Christmas season is over.

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Equality, Education, and Healthcare for all is the answer

Years ago, in a high school history class, Mr. Grodhaus told us of a tradition in the United States, that of undervaluing education. For the life of me, I cannot recall the roots of that but it had something to do with the settlement of our country. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that most of the people leaving Europe were searching for an improvement to their lives and a homeland where there was more upward movement. I know that is what all of my grandparents were thinking. The United States, without a visible royalty might have offered them that opportunity. As an educator all my life, I have felt the disdain and often disrespect from people on high and people less so; I have felt disrespect from my own family members. My own blood uncle thought that once I had a few years of teaching under my belt that I would be set for life and I could just teach what I had.

Whether we like it or not, it is a fact that having an education is an advantage. Yes, there are people who can succeed big time without the piece of paper, but statistics will most assuredly bear out the fact that most of us with an education are better off.

Do all people need to go to the university? No, but for a society that functions well, we need people prepared to do all sorts of things. Think as well, of those migrant workers who do the jobs no one else wants to do and what would we do without them? That is a story for another time.

We have a big job in this country. By showing disrespect for the educators and by paying them little (which is a form of disrespect), we are sending a big message. Although that is an issue, and although this means that we have segments of our country where good educators do not want to go, I really don’t think that is the major issue.

The major issue is equality. There is no reason in our supposedly civilized country that we cannot take care of the entire populace. When I mean ‘take care of,’ I mean to have services that are equal to all. All people should be able to work and that means that people with children should be able to have the means to work and to be assured that their children are provided for…childcare.

Despite all of the silliness of the response of a large amount of our population that a uniform healthcare for all is ‘pie in the sky’ and too expensive, my guess is that it might be the opposite. If we did something as they do in Canada, for example, a country much like ours, we could take care of everyone. I would guess that although startup might be expensive, that in the long run it would end up being way cheaper than the current system and we would have a healthier, happier populace.

Education is the next thing and we need to make changes in the system that would allow for every person in the United States, be it in New York, Alabama, or Puerto Rico, to have access to a quality education from birth through either a college education or some sort of technical or career education and to not have to pay a ridiculous sum for it. Having graduates with diplomas and a lifelong debt is ridiculous. We also need to do a better public relations job and educate the population about its importance so they buy into it.

Finally, I am back to equality, it is time that we latched on to this item with a vengeance and assure ourselves that we are really trying to achieve it. We need equality for people regardless of color, race, gender, sexual preference, etc. Not having this is a mockery of what this country stands for.

If we had more of the preceding ideas in place, we would not be in the dire situation we currently are with our government. Our current government seems to have been elected by a very large amount of disenfranchised United States citizens without an education and with the help of foreign government intervention.

Aren’t we all sick and tired of this cycle? My answer is simple and sometimes answers stare us in the face. What are we waiting for?

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Facing the post party a day later than normal

These are two birthday cards from two of the granddaughters, aged four and five. Priceless!

It is hard facing the post party.

Our usual method is to pretty much get everything in order immediately following the party. Mary Kay did that, I was not capable of it as I was feeling ill, thinking I had overeaten, when in fact it was probably overeating combined with the nasty virus going around which would deck us both (and the dog as well)!

MK got everything done, the dishwasher was loaded and everything washed and the other dishes were drying on the counter.

Sunday was spent lying down, something we pretty much never do. We watched a little TV and I binge read my latest Louise Penny book. The post party cleanup which needed to continue with the put back where things belong was not happening on Sunday.

I finally got smart. Louise Penny is quite the popular writer in Deerfield as the library waiting list is long. I have read a few from there but MK suggested I check out e-bay and I did. There I got used books for a song. I am currently reading the fifth in the series and due to my being forced to vegetate, I am almost done with it. You know it is a good read when despite feeling awful and having sometimes burning eyes, you can still read. Normally, in those instances, I cannot do anything but watch TV.

Sunday was spent that way, sleep coming here and there, to the point that I worried that I might not sleep at night. That was way wrong since I slept like a log last night. I am still not totally right, but I feel a lot better.

Walking downstairs in the morning after an attempt at making myself look somewhat presentable and seeing the full dishwasher and the things that needed to be put away was a bit overwhelming. It was even more overwhelming when I realized that the dog was apparently as sick, if not sicker than we were. I won’t go into the gory details.

We are back on the mend, we had a great party with the family, and we are moving on. Trust me, I am not complaining, my issues are nothing compared to those so many others seem to be dealing with.

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The cake made by MK and decorated by Samantha, aged 9!

We had a wonderful Papi-Fest, a celebration of my birthday a bit after the fact, a good idea since I was born forty-five minutes after Christmas and was always reminded by my mom of that fact. It was not an easy birthday to celebrate.

We had a most wonderful time although not all of us were able to be there. We had several down due to the virus that has been on the attack. I think, at the current count, since MK and I came down with it in the early hours of Sunday morning, after the party, that we now officially have ten out of twelve in the family falling to the illness. I even believe that several of the kids have had relapses.

MK and I had been extremely vigilant with the handwashing and frankly I don’t know how we held off the viral plague as long as we did.

As it now stands, we seem to be on the mend but with absolutely no desire to eat anything whatsoever. Our house has prime rib in it and a delicious cake as well.

So, let’s talk cake. One of the wonderful side moments, besides all of the wonderful photos, gifts, and good food and company, happened to be from the grandkids.

The oldest one decorated the cake after having done some Internet Research, even making roses and leaves on the cake. The two littlest female cousins each had produced a birthday card for me that was pretty much done with no adult help. That is nothing short of amazing.

Thanks to all the Koerners for a wonderful time.

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Chicken Soup and Microsoft Office

The Microsoft Office issue continues, started several months ago when I tried to find a way to access a benefit of being an educator and getting a ‘cut’ in the price. I contacted my favorite IT person at the community college I work at and asked her for info about an often received e-mail in my university account for a good price on a Microsoft Word update. She worked on it and found no answer on that but did receive the answer that they were working on getting the correct Internet address where I could download the new update to replace my 2011 software. That never materialized so well over a week ago, probably two, I contacted the university Help Desk. Well over a week after that they contacted me and said that the e-mail I received was legit. I went online to pursue it and was informed that I needed a university code. I got back to the Help Desk and they have not yet replied. Since I am not on campus that often these days, it is not possible for me to go in and ‘pester’ the Help Desk. Meanwhile, I wait.

Chicken soup is the other half of today’s thoughts. This morning we received a call that one of our grandkids was awake and feeling much better after a long bout with the local virus. This four year old got up, got dressed, made her bed, and was waiting for a way to our house. We picked her up and took her to ‘That Little French Guy’ bakery, pâtisserie, and café in Highland Park. Although her appetite is really not back, she did enjoy our time there as the adults sipped on La Colombe lattes and ate croissants.

We brought her home and we have spent much time reading Usborne (a great name in kids’ books) fairy tales. MK is making a cake to celebrate my birthday. Anna is eating Uncle Bucky’s homemade chicken soup, a staple in this house along with muffins and Cream of Wheat (Farina).

Uncle Bucky is Uncle Mikey, one of the grandkids, and I believe it is the youngest, couldn’t say ‘Mikey.’ He makes a great chicken stock with lots of chicken bones, a bit of chicken, and one duck. The grandkids love it and we serve it with either Italian, Hungarian, or Uncle Mikey’s noodles.

Meanwhile, Anna is enjoying her soup and preparation is underway for a wonderful dinner late in the afternoon.

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