Tuesday, 22 July 2008

And The Winner Is

Do you see the two new additions on the left? My dear blogmates mean mom and MOB gave them to me. I am so chuffed (British word) to be thought of by these fantastic bloggers. I would like to say to any of you who reads this blog that because you read this blog you deserve one of these awards. Have a look and choose what you want. You deserve it.

We're off on Saturday to that great big country across the pond. As I did in April by myself, we will fly first to Newark, then on to Salt Lake City where we'll spend the night. Then we will get up and drive 5 hours to my mother's in Wyoming. While there we plan to take a side trip to see Mount Rushmore. I've never been to South Dakota so look forward to notching up another state. My mother will be coming with us and is so excited about getting away, even if it's only to South Dakota for three days.

Then we'll fly to Tampa, where we'll hit a few theme parks, see friends and family and GO TO THE BEACH. Supposedly, we're meeting up with friends from here that live less than a mile away yet never see. I hope we see them because we rearranged our holiday for them, which meant paying extra.

I'm looking forward to switching off from the stresses of my life in the UK (though there will be equal stresses in the USA between my mother and stepfather and my sister).

I'll be looking out for more money-saving trends too. I probably won't have a chance to post before then so adios for now.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Make Do And Mend

Hubby and I have been thinking about what will thrive and/or make a comeback during these difficult economic times. Here's our list, such as it is:

1. Walking/cycling. With the cost of petrol going up and up, more and more people will dig out their walking shoes or dusty bikes.

2. Public transport. See above (though, of course, this is subject to trains actually working).

3. Libraries. Why buy a book or newspaper when you can get one free at the library?

4. Vegetable gardens. Everyone's going to be digging for Britain again.

5. Local shops (if they still exist). You can get your walking in and support your local shops.

6. Charity shops: Why buy new when you can get secondhand? (And walk there too).

7. Dinner parties: Wine is terribly priced in restaurants. You can feed six of your friends for the price of two bottles of wine probably (and have more wine as well). (Don't forget to walk to your local shops for the ingredients, apart from those you've grown yourself).

8. Seeds: Why spend £8 on one plant when for £2 you can get a load of seeds? And you can sell or give away your spare plants.

9. Evenings in watching DVDs (and you can walk to the DVD shop).

10. Appreciation for the truly good things in life. With more and more people losing their jobs every day, this will force the workaholics to sit back and take a good, long look at what they value. Consumerism will, if not completely die, be cut back quite a bit. Couples will have more time for each other. Families will have more time for each other. Being unemployed is no fun, but there can be benefits.

What trends are you noticing?

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Doh! It was Roosevelt who said it.

As doglover so wisely pointed out, I misattributed the fear quote to Churchill in my last post. In my heart I knew it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but in my mind, I heard Churchill's voice say it. It was from Roosevelt's 1933 Inaugural address. Here is an excerpt:

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

Could we have had two better leaders -- Churchill and Roosevelt -- during that time? Certainly in the U.S., Roosevelt turned things around. My dad's parents, on the dole and desperately poor, found employment thanks to Roosevelt. He had his faults, dragging his heels on entering WWII among them, but he did so much for our country too. McCain and Obama would do well to try to emulate Roosevelt (although I recall the Clintons also bringing up his memory).

I can't read the papers anymore without seeing the depressing headlines about the wretched state of the economy. But we're not at the breaking point yet.

Today the weather matches the grey uncertainty of the economy. Raindrops splatter against the windowpanes. The garden looks forlorn, bereft of sunshine. It matches my mood. I worry endlessly about hubby not finding a job. Not just because of the change of lifestyle. I haven't written about my mother for a while. The drama has died down, but the prognosis is not good. My stepfather has been diagnosed with something called progressive supra nuclear palsy. Dudley Moore died of it. Right now my stepfather is responding to levadopa, a Parkinson's drug. But that will be shortlived. Right now he is able to dress himself, get in and out of bed, make his own breakfast. This is the calm before the storm. By next year I expect he will be back in a nursing home. Or even dead.

And what of my mother? The house she lives in is in the names of my stepfather and his two daughters. He built that house with his own hands. I have no quarrel with them wanting to keep it in the family. But what about my mother? Will the daughters tip her out when their father has died? I used to think they wouldn't, but now I'm not so sure. In April I thought perhaps once hubby had found new employment we could purchase something for my mother in Florida, near my sister but not with her. That isn't an option right now.

So hubby's unemployment affects more than just us. I know we are not the first -- or the last -- family to endure this. I know by the end of this period of our lives we will be stronger. And I might even be an expert in shelf stacking by then.

Monday, 7 July 2008

The Fear Factor

We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

That Churchill certainly had a way with words. He managed to calm people down and rally them round while all around them their world was literally being taken apart.

I wish he was around today to keep my spirits up. I haven't posted in a week or so because I'm sort of in a fearful panic. Since hubby didn't get that job, I've gone into worrying overdrive. What if, what if, what if. Yet is my world and life as bad as it seems to me? Or is it bad because it seems bad?

I can tell myself over and over again that others truly have it bad right now. Think of the Zimbabweans. And to complain or even to voice my worries might be an insult to others facing the same or worse. And I don't want to do that.

I have come to the conclusion that I must seek work and have spent a bit of time looking online for jobs. But I haven't worked for 16 years, I am 48 years old, and I have no work history in this country. Those are pretty big obstacles. I will stack supermarket shelves if I have to, but I'm a long way off that. I have concluded that I will have to be creative and lower my standards a bit and think outside the box. Instead of one full-time job, perhaps two or three part-time jobs? Then I worry about the children because I am so used to being the one to have sort them out. But I'm not the only parent at home (though sometimes I think I'm the only useful one).

I must remember Churchill's admonishment most of all. I have allowed my fears to cloud my thinking, to allow me to stay in the same rut. I must conquer them and move on.