Sunday, May 20, 2012


I consider myself to be middle class and, at 61years old, a new recruit for the Senior Citizen corps. I look at many people my age and see anxiety, even desperation in their financial lives, and think I'm pretty fortunate. Still, I know a major illness or disaster could destroy all that my husband and I have worked hard to secure.

I'm clipping coupons this morning, cutting out a coupon for 75 cents off mayonnaise.  Keeping a close eye on the budget is always on my mind.  I wonder if I should take Social Security early when I turn 62 this year.  I make a calculation on that, wondering if a reduced monthly benefit next year is worth losing $500 a month more when I turn 66. Even if I take Social Security early, I will continue to work my part-time job because my medical insurance premiums and co-pays now exceed $800 a month.  I hope the Affordable Care Act will be upheld by the Supreme Court  because I cannot leave my current high cost insurance plan because of pre-existing conditions.   If the Affordable Care Act survives the politics of a divided Court, then in 2014 (when I will be 63),the insurance companies can no longer discriminate against me for "pre-existing conditions" and I can shop around for an affordable plan.  I am grateful for a good union contract that I receive a pension after 27 years of work at my company.  Although I got laid off when I was 54 years old, I was able to receive a reduced pension at 55 years old.  I'm luckier than most people I know because I have a pension.  I willingly paid union dues for many years for that benefit and good working conditions.

Contrary to the conservative politicians' assertion that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was ineffective, the Middle Class benefited a lot from the Stimulus Bill.  In 2009, my family was helped by "cash for clunkers" , the credit for my state sales taxes and a reduction in taxes for working people.  In 2010, we bought a wood stove and received an income tax cut, plus we lowered our electric bills. We were able to re-finance our home in 2010 and get a 100% loan-to-value government-backed loan and not pay PMI.  These provisions of the Stimulus Bill helped us to have more cash on hand to pay our bills, buy some things we needed, and take an annual vacation.  Like most middle-class people,  most of our wealth comes from our house, Social Security and Medicare. These three things constitute the basis of our financial security.  For those who have lost a home in this housing crisis or do not own a home, they will depend on Social Security and Medicare even more for financial security as they get older.

My adult daughters struggle financially, they both have expensive college loans to repay.  After a rocky start out of college, they are now working full time and have health care benefits.  For different periods between 2007-2010, both of them returned home to live with us when they needed a helping hand.

Why am I sharing with you the details of my personal life?  Because there is discordance today between facts and rhetoric.  And there is a discordance between the presumptive Republican nominee for President and the actual lives of the vast majority of the American people. Mitt and Ann Romney, I'm sure, never clipped a grocery coupon for 75 cents, although I'm sure they regularly "clip coupons" for bonds they own.  I think that a man who earned $21 million in 2011 from investments doesn't understand how the rest of us try to balance a monthly budget where every penny counts. I'm certain that a man who established a $100 million trust fund for his children doesn't understand how hard it is for an underemployed college graduate to pay $146 a month for student loans.  A man that owns four mansions doesn't worry about mortgage rates and PMI and whether he'll qualify for a home mortgage for a roof over his head.  His homes are part of an investment portfolio, not his major source of wealth in his golden years. A man who owns four cars that don't fit in his garage so that he needs to spend $12 million in renovations to his La Jolla, California house to include an elevator for his cars doesn't care that some of us really appreciated saving thousands of dollars on a new car that is our primary source of transportation.

I feel a discordance with this man, Romney.  Our values and our lives seem so different.  I've never insulted a host who generously placed food in front of me. 

I've never beat-up a person who looks or acts differently from me.  I've never treated an animal inhumanely because I didn't want him in my car.  I've never advocated the destruction of unions whose very existence provided me with a good living, justice on the job, and a retirement pension.  But then I never derived an income from destroying companies, workers' jobs, and pension plans.

Discordance is what I see when I hear other middle class people like me say they think they might vote for Mitt Romney for President.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Choosing a Political Party When You Register to Vote

I'm a Voter Registration Agent in my state.  These days, most new voters choose "No Party" because they like to think they are independent thinkers.  I think a lot of times new voters just don't know what the difference is between the Democratic and Republican Parties, so I've devised a little test to help them decide on what Party best represents their social views and cultural preferences.  Take the test - and see if you're a Democrat or Republican.

 Starting with the first line, choose a word from column 1 or column 2.  Don't think about it, just select the word that first appeals to you.  Go down the entire list until you're done.

OK, there are a few ringers in there. 
Now add up the total number of your selections that are 1's and the total number of your selections that are 2's. 

If you have 10 or more 1's, you are a Democrat. 
If you have 10 or more 2's, you are a Republican. 

Hope this helps you select a political party so you'll stop thinking that you are an "independent".


Democratic Party

Republican Party

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

I got to spend the day with family,
a delicious brunch and flowers!
My daughter, Mary, and I

My daughters, Mary and Amanda

Matt (Mary's fiancee) and Finnegan

Finnegan and Jack got to run and play
To all the mothers I know, may you be honored on this day and respected always!

Here are just a few of those wonderful mothers:

Maria Susana, Santo Domingo, New Mexico

Linda, Sandia Park, New Mexico

Anne with daughter, Milla, Chaska, Minnesota

Diana, Sandia Park, New Mexico

Margaret, with son Max, Davenport, Iowa

Cathy, Sandia Park, New Mexico

Emma, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Cha Cha, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Takako, San Diego, California

Chizuko, San Diego, California

Renata (with daughter, Trinty), La Mesa, California

Hermalinda and granddaughters (and me), San Diego, California

Socorro (with husband, Ernie), San Diego, California

Janet (with children Andrea and Neal), Waynesboro, Virginia

Bonnie, Raytown, Missouri

Laurie (with husband Page), Poway, California

Anna, Albuquerque, NM and Valrico, FL

Sharon (with husband, Bob), Berwick, Maine

Susan (with husband Ed), Edgewood, NM and Paula, Sandia Park, NM

Masha (with husband Fred, and son, Mark), Newton, Massachusetts

Barbara, Denver, Colorado

Jeanne (with daughter, Tracy), Jackson, TN and Salem, Oregon

Chris, San Diego, California

Debbie (with Chris), Poway, California

Judy and Enid, El Cajon, California

Deborah (with daughter), Grand Terrace, California
Flowers for you!

Cane Cholla

Blue Flag


Wild Hollyhock

Striped Coralroot

Red Columbine


Protect women's security by protecting Social Security.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Super Moon Shot

On May 5th, there was to be a "Super Moon" rise with the full moon to be at it's closest point to the Earth for 2012.  Always up for an excuse for a party, we called neighbors and my daughters to invite them to a "Howl at the Moon Party" for Saturday night.  We cooked hamburgers, hotdogs and chicken.  Neighbors brought tortilla chips, guacamole, salsa, deviled eggs, cheesy potato casserole, and dessert. I put up my "sun and moon" patio lights and made sure the hot tub was ready for soaking. Presto! Party time in no time!

When the moon began to rise about 8:30 or 9PM, I got my camera out but could not find my tripod!  After two margaritas, I think my hands were not too steady, either.   Anyway, here are the photos from Sandia Park, New Mexico -just east of the Sandia Mountains and the bright city lights of Albuquerque .

Moonrise from my deck

If you want much better photos from other locations in the world, here they are.

Quickly losing interest in photography, my daughter and I got out our djembes and began beating our drums to the consternation of our neighbors. 

Cathy and Amanda hit the hot tub and the landlubbers relaxed on the deck or inside.

Kathy after a relaxing soak in the hot tub

Linda texting her thoughts

Diana and Matt and Jack (the pug)

My neighbor Diana and future son-in-law, Matt.

Hooray for spring and the coming summer!