Saturday, January 24, 2015

I Can't Afford My Life

Alice has made a startling discovery.  She can’t afford the life she is living.

Her income changed severely after the legal wrangling of last year, followed by the associated drama with her car.

When her 10-year-old car blew a head gasket, she had to get another one.  Car to Alice is spelled with a capital C.  While her newer 5 year-old car brings her much pleasure, the monthly payment is hard to swallow.
 
Other necessities include things that make life more fun.  A designer handbag.  Pretty rings.  The annual trek to the Oregon Coast.  Presents for her grandchildren.

Let’s not forget fingernails!  Alice still has pretty hands, so she has her nails “done” once a month.  She has pretty hair, too.  Left on its own, it would be tinged with grey … which can be such a drab color.  So she pays big bucks to have it trimmed, touched up, foiled and styled.  But one can hardly get out of a Caddy with ragged nails and bad hair!

Then came the dog, rescued from a bereft life after her person died.  And with the dog came the Groomer, the Vet for check-ups and shots, healthy food, leashes, bed, car seat, and the must-have first photo with Santa.



Staying healthy is the cornerstone of getting older, so Alice has periodic appointments with a variety of medical professionals.  Her insurance premium went up this year.  She didn’t get any additional benefits; she just pays more.
Then there are, of course, the tiresome things:  fixed bills for mandatory living expenses; along with discretionary expenditures for tasty crab and lobster tails, boneless short ribs and cage-free eggs, Grey Goose, organic salads and veggies.  All a source of both healthful necessity and pleasure.

 
Alice views life as finding the balance between quality and quantity … with far more emphasis on the quality of her life rather than how long she hangs around the planet.  If she can’t walk on trails and beaches, fish and crab, read the latest books, have fun with her family and friends, and drive over Stevens Pass in a car that “corners like it’s on rails” … then, for Alice, what’s the point?


Quality of life also means doing special things once in a while. This year it is immersing herself in the music, drama, and emotions of “The Phantom of the Opera” one more time. 
As soon as the tickets went on sale, she bought one for a great seat in the Loge of the Paramount Theater. Since this would no doubt be the last time she saw that glorious chandelier plunge from the ceiling, no point in skimping on her view.

 
The bottom line is Alice’s income is fixed and her outgo is on an upward trajectory.  She knows from Business 101 this is not the ideal situation.  Yet it is here that she finds herself, along with a dwindling IRA.

Thankfully her financial advisor understands YOLO … You Only Live Once … and sends the “bail-out” funds when she needs them.
 
Alice is now trying to calculate how long she can afford to live, given her current lifestyle.  There’s no doubt that one day she will be forced to cut back on the French perfume, foiled high-lights in her hair, and buying “simply must have” art.

In the meantime, we leave Alice with a spring in her step and a smile on her face, walking faster and farther as the money dribbles out of her pockets.
 

 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

DOG is MY Copilot

Alice finally gave up on men and got a dog.  Then wondered why she hadn’t thought of that years ago.

She rescued a 9-year-old Pomeranian from Furbaby, a local group that rescues small dogs.  www.furbabyrescue.com/  This particular little fur baby had lost her person, and was all alone in the world.
 
It was love at first sight for both of them.  Since Alice never had a dog before, the little Pom took charge of their relationship and showed her the ropes.  In no time at all Alice learned more than she ever wanted to know about picking up dog poop, along with the other key aspects of having a canine companion.
 

Alice had collected all sorts of bunny paraphernalia over the years.  So it was only natural that she had to now acquire dog stuff:  a car seat for safe riding, a soft bed for resting during the day, little bowls and dishes for her food, and LOTS of special “healthy” dog food that cost $3.50 a can. 

The dog’s favorite is Duck with Sweet Potatoes.   Alice would have made the same selection had she been a dog … except for the CAN aspect of moist food.
 

Alice and the little black dog, Chessie, bonded instantly and within a day or two became inseparable.  That meant the dog needed to be able to go to all the places Alice visited on a daily basis:  grocery stores, the mall, medical offices, restaurants.   Everywhere Alice went, the little Pom was glued to her side. 

Fortunately, on the artisan website etsy (www.etsy.com) Alice found a way to get Chessie authorized as an Emotional Support Service Dog.  She doesn’t wear a little green vest, but has a special ID card that gives her entrĂ©e to Alice’s world.

To ensure the dog’s acceptability everywhere, Alice had her little pink halter embroidered with “Service Dog” at a local embroidery shop after showing Chessie’s Emotional Support ID card.
 

Fortunately for everyone, Chessie is a well-trained, quiet, friendly, sweet, adorable, loving little black fur ball … who leaves joy and smiling faces in her wake as she strolls through the mall … or rides in Alice’s grocery cart in the local food stores.
 

 

Chessie came into Alice’s life two months ago, but neither of them can imagine life any other way.  They whiz through town with Chessie as canine copilot.  Breeze through the stores in the mall … little black feet churning to keep up with the Asics-clad walking feet beside her.  Sprawl out on the couch with their respective blankies when Alice reads.  And of course the two of them sleep together … bodies pressed up against each other in security and love.

2014 was a difficult year for Alice.  So she is convinced the Goddess brought Chessie into her life as a reward for making it through intact.  The people who operate Furbaby Rescue called it “a match made in Heaven” and both Alice and Chessie agree.
 

There is absolutely no substitute for unconditional love.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Say You Say Me

This song by Lionel Richie was written for the 1985 movie “White Nights” … yet the lyrics still speak to us today.
Wars, genocide, brutality, a new break-out of Ebola.  Kids in blankets lined up like burritos on the floor of a holding pen at the border.  War planes thundering in formation headed for Syria.
 
More wide-eyes newbies, all dressed to match, headed somewhere hard to pronounce.  Knowing some will not come back.  And those who do, indelibly marked for life.  
The rest of us watch, unable to do much, or even convince anyone to listen to our side.  We write, protest, vote … while those in charge ignore our pleas and implement plans to slay this latest dragon.  
There never seems to be a shortage of dragons.
  
It all reminds me of Frankie -- a classmate when I was nine or ten.  He wore braces on his legs; struggled to walk, let alone run.  We played games with teams where players were chosen.  Frankie was always the last one picked.
How cruel are kids?  How sad that so many of them grow up to be cruel adults, always bullying someone who is weaker.
 
Sooner or later, we’re all like Frankie:  picked last, dropped from the team, violated by someone bigger and stronger.  Wounded in one way or another.
Caroline Myss tells us there is a silver lining in this otherwise bleak picture:  “Wounds are the means through which we enter the hearts of other people.”
So once in a while, when you’re sure you’ve lost your way, someone comes along who takes your hand and whispers:  “ … believing who you are:  you are a shining star.”
On that note, Skagit Leeks is taking some time off to savor the peace and harmony of the Oregon Coast … where there are no dragons.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Man's Best Friend

**Note:  Some pictures are SEAL dogs posted by Chris Hagerman (http://navyseals.com/2163/the-dogs-of-the-navy-seals/).  Others from facebook:  DoD MWD Breeding Program; Donna Culpepper Evans **

So much war, pain and suffering in the world at large.  Too much to take in and make any sense.  More fun to find distractions; focus on pretty words; savor sweet images.

It’s easier for us who have no skin in the game.  When we don’t even know the men and women fulfilling their missions, following orders for someone’s Game Plan.  The people who enlist have their own reasons.  They make a choice, knowing little about what they’re signing up for, but still … making a choice.
 
But then there are the dogs that are part of the rank and file.  They did not choose.  They are there to work.  Loyal, trustworthy, talented, with super skills and senses, and tireless energy and stamina.  Ready to serve.



The latest favorite canines for battle are the Belgian Malinois, smaller with more stamina than their predecessor the German Shepherd.  With short hair and intelligent faces.  Unlimited energy.  Amazing strength and endurance.
Even as puppies, the faces of the Belgian Malinois are so intent, eyes lit by intelligence, probably expecting there will be sheep to herd when they are older.



If one is a non-violent pacifist, with no personal investment in what has been decided, it is hard to be touched by the remoteness of it all.  Troops all dressed the same in deserts or rocky mountainous terrain, fighting enemies who all look alike.  It is hard to become engaged.

But then … the dogs.  They are another matter.  Those sweet intent faces.  Those willing spirits, filled with unconditional love for and trust in their human handler.

Searching out danger fearlessly, tirelessly.  Dropping from airplanes at unimaginable heights.  Never asking why.  Never doubting the importance of the “work” they do.
 
I cannot relate to the camaraderie among buddies in this group or that one.  Sharing stories, smokes, snacks sent from home.  Have no idea what goes through their minds as they travel on roads riddled with IEDs, closed up in armored vehicles.
But animals are different.  They know not what the ultimate mission is or why it matters.  They trust … protect … out-run, out-last … eyes open, ears alert, senses on high.


They fearlessly lunge into battle:  into the water; into the crowded marketplace; even falling through the sky attached to their handlers.  Without religious convictions or political opinions, their devotion to their handler and the assignment is pure.

And like their handlers, only some of them come home after a job well done.
 
"I wish that I could make you see that Heaven indeed is real.
If you could see me run and play, how much better you would feel.
But our loving God has promised me that when the time is right,
You'll step out of the darkness, and meet me in the light."
 
Last 4 lines of Poem written by Maureen Bauer
 
 
 

 

 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Got Pain? Get Mary Jane!

It turns out that “Pain” is the magic word in Washington State these days.  Just like with the duck on the old TV Show, “You Bet Your Life.”  Back then you got $100.  Today you get ever so much more.


So … Alice called the magic number (866 306 3210), made an appointment with the Verde Clinic, and showed up in Bellingham the next day.

“I have pain!” she said with a tremor in her voice when she walked into the room.
 
An hour later, she strolled out with her first prescription for medical marijuana … plus approval to grow 15 plants.  $95 and good for a year.  Less than the deductible on her MedAdvantage Insurance Policy!

Apparently her spiritual journey was taking a detour through Cannabis Country.
 
Since the abode she shares with Heinrich is still for sale (no doubt setting a record for # of days on the market), the Realtor nixed the growing of the plants inside as planned.

Instead, Alice will sign her approval to grow over to a licensed grower, called a “Budbroker.”  That exchange involves some kind of promising business proposition that she has yet to enter.
 
This little detour was turning out to be a lot more interesting than searching for the Path to Righteousness.



With prescription in hand, Alice perused the products at Top Shelf Medicinal Collective with the help of the owner, Jeff Clark.  He is knowledgeable, and his store is impressive, professional, and private.  And the new store is even located in Burlington.
 

 

Jeff explained how cannabis cannot only help with pain, but also nausea from chemo, depression, seizures, and a host of other ailments.

Alice told him she didn't smoke, and  has not had even a tiny toke in decades.

 
Fortunately there are a plethora of alternatives.  “Patients” can can eat it, rub it on, and even drink it.  So now, Alice has fearlessly plunged into collecting data and recording her research results.  The products below were purchased a week ago.


The deep muscle rub (pictured on the left) is a thick salve, and is an alternative to the creamy spray (pictured on the right).  Alice prefers the spray for her back and sore muscles and joints from aerobic walking.  The smell is pleasant and it works!

The Agave Tincture is another matter.  The taste -- said to be “earthy” – seems to her more like something grown in pig poop.

 
Alice had to mix it with some OJ and Sambuca just to get it down.  So far the results are questionable.  She much prefers a rub-on stick called “The Remedy.”

She also acquired edible forms of marijuana:  a brownie and some cannabis butter.


Alice ate the brownie over the course of a few hours.  Bottom line:  it gave her a headache ... but she didn’t much care.
Some of the butter – which also tastes vile -- will be used this weekend to bake biscuits.  So you’ll have to stay tuned for the results of that culinary effort.


The message Alice hopes to communicate at this point -- especially to senior citizens who have any kind of pain -- is give this stuff a try. 

It’s legal.  It’s safe if you start slow and assess tolerance and results along the way.  And it works!
 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Law of Attraction

There is no scientific basis to the Law of Attraction.  But then there is no scientific basis for the benefits of a Gluten Free diet.  However, if you’re allergic to wheat, the benefits of eating gluten free are enormous and quickly evident.

It is something that has always existed.  If you believe ... then it works.  If you reject it out of hand because of the absence of scientific evidence … you won’t get to see it. 

The best part is that it’s always there when you are ready.

This concept -- recently popularized in the bestselling book and movie “The Secret” – goes back to James Allen’s book “As a Man Thinketh” and Napoleon Hill’s books, especially his mega best seller “Think and Grow Rich.”  The genesis of the law can be traced back to ancient times, with references to it over the centuries.

Trusty Wikipedia says:  “The Law of Attraction is the name given to the belief that ‘like attracts like’ and that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results.  This belief is based upon the idea that people and their thoughts are both made from pure energy and the belief that like energy attracts like energy.”

 
Here are some examples of how things can happen: 

Let’s say that Alice wants to live in a private place that feels good, where there are trees and deer and a view of distant islands, water and sunsets.  She wants it with all her heart, but it eludes her no matter how hard she tries to make things work.

Then … when seeking advice at a local CPA Firm, she lucks out by getting an appointment with a partner of the firm, whom she does not know.  But they get along famously, have much in common, and the CPA tells Alice about the new place she is renting.

One thing leads to another, and within a few days the owner of the CPA’s property – whom Alice has never met -- writes and tells her he has the “perfect home” for her.  How could this be? she thinks, but goes to look anyway.  And sure enough … it is perfect in every way!


As Alice goes about her everyday business, she is still searching for her spiritual roots.  Searching for the answers to the questions:  Who is it that guides her life and seems to protect her?   Who makes the “angels” appear when she has such a need for their love and support?


Then … out of nowhere … a wise man appears.  One who makes more sense than most of the others.  One who has asked the same questions and found different answers.  Answers that don’t fit into the everyday view of “how things happen,” but they resonate with Alice.


The friends, who abandoned Alice as she journeyed through the Dark Times, left empty spaces in her life.  But soon, new friends are found who are different and daring and fun!

Her life is now filled with provocative issues to ponder; new books to read; life enhancing experiences; and much happiness.


Alice feels her life opening like a delicate white trillium ready to bloom.  The rare plant sits on the mossy bank of a creek filled with crystal clear water colored by shards of sunlight cutting through leafy branches that line the creek.


This is the Law of Attraction ... for just one person ... in a single segment of time.


 

"You are what you think ...
not what you think you are." *

 

* Bruce MacLelland’s Prosperity Through Thought Force.

 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Around Town

What’s wrong with this picture? 

Earlier this week, a couple of members of Familias Unidas por la Justica (i.e., outside agitators) showed up in front of the Sakuma Farm Office in a BMW.  They spent much time sitting on buckets playing computer games … while the people they were “representing” were bent over working in the fields in the heat.

 
Oh Rosalinda Guillen … your band of Bright-Eyed Idealists need more information and training when representing the “down-trodden.”  At least tell them to leave the Beemers at home!

Sheriff Deputy patrols area Friday at noon.  No protesters intimidating workers coming to get their pay.

Sheriff Will Reichardt gets my vote in November.

 

Sakuma Market Stand … Still Standing!

Berries and products from Sakuma Market Stand remain best deal in town for “just picked” freshness and taste.  All their berries are fresh, fragrant and wonderful.

 
Ignore silly protesters standing on Cook Road like lost sheep.




Curly, Larry and Mo Breaking Up


 
Sharon Dillon not running for re-election in November.  Skagit Leeks is sure Larry and Mo will follow suit.

Skagit County needs intelligent, educated Commissioners to run our county.  No more Good ol’ “Boys” who know more about getting milk from an udder than how to represent the citizens of such a growing and diverse county.

Growth Plan on BayView Ridge bungled beyond recognition and repair. 

Phony “retirements” of key county managers for petty reasons.  (Henry Hash snapped up by City of Tucson and Peter Browning courted by Bill Gates.)

Bay closures trump millions of dollars spent on Clean Samish Initiative.

After Dillon bites the dust, Ron Wesen and Ken Dahlstedt have to go.  Ryan Walters … we need you!


Munks Stops Padding his Pension


Skagit County Assessor, Don Munks not running for re-election.

As citizens recall, Munks was awarded the spot over the highly qualified heir apparent, Dave Thomas.  The night before the Public Hearing, GOP Big Wigs gathered in the basement of local funeral home.  Sniffing too much formaldehyde perhaps?

Now that his pension has been maxed out, Munks steps aside so Dave Thomas – the experienced professional we’ve needed for years – can rescue the shambles left in the wake of Munks’s blunders.  Assessor’s Office will operate in an honest and competent manner.  Keep your eye on Don's Clean Water Tax, Dave.

Dave Thomas has my vote in November.

 

Quality Drops … Customers Flock

Family owned Haggen Grocery sold out to Comvest, Florida investment firm, in 2011.  Took less than 3 years for Comvest to run it into the ground. 

 
“We will find a place for Andy Haggen,” I was assured by CEO John ... from Bellingham on July 1. 

Andy Haggen was recently fired after he closed yet another Haggen store.

All that’s left are some special employees, great Paninis and best butcher in the county.

Even the seafood manager bails out and joins the Safeway team after quality of Haggen seafood drops to new low.

 

New Manager at Mt.Vernon Safeway

Although Craig is sorely missed after 15 years, Mike gets two thumbs up so far. 

Store is full of people who put the Customer First. 

And Seafood Department is top notch!

 


Olive Garden Brings Back Favorite

Menu in Olive Garden in Burlington once again has to-die-for Braised Beef with Tortellini and Creamy Marsala.


Ladies, leave Hubby at home and ask for GQ to be your server.

 

Bob’s Burger and Brew has best deal on Martini and Fried Prawns!


 Sapphire Martini is huge!

 

 




Fried Tiger Prawns are outstanding

 

 
Place is noisy, but food is great! 

 

 Shopping is like Putting Money in the Bank!

 
Christopher & Banks / CJ Banks in Burlington Outlet Mall.  Great deals on fabulous clothes.  Ask for Debbie.  She’s better than having a personal shopper!