SCRATCHING MY HEAD

  • Living in an earthquake region, authorities state the importance of keeping shoes near you while you sleep. You don’t want to jump calmly out of bed, barefoot, to scream and wave your arms wildly while trying to run and hide to protect yourself while the floor is buckling under your feet and there is broken window pane glass all over the place. But no one has ever attempted to explain how one is supposed to keep shoes near the bed. Won’t they be covered with said glass, and debris like your once beautiful armoire? Or, won’t they be jumping around the room with the motion from the quake?
  •  Now here’s an email I really can’t wait to open — It’s from the Democratic Headquarters and the subject line reads, “doomed.” People! Is this the best you can do?  If the ship has sunk, why would I throw anything other than flowers at it?
  •   I’m surprised I haven’t read this yet: An upscale tea shop and nationwide chain has filed papers to change its legal name to “Business Selling Water Infused with Weird Smelling Leaves and Fancy Herbs” after sales plummeted because people associated the store with a political party.
  •  Tax dollars at work: Between 11,000 and 17,000 tickets are issued to the homeless in San Francisco each year. I’m sure this helps.
  •  Neighbors walk dogs at a local high school field every day. Last week we found a little ibuprofen bottle in the grass, and we immediately removed it because these pain relievers can be fatal to dogs. Phew. Good thing we only found pot inside instead of ibuprofen.
  •  At the warm water pool where I like to exercise, there are three walkers in Lost and Found.

Kathy Galgano

October 29, 2013

WRAP IT UP!

By this time each year, most of my Christmas presents have been bought. They would still be unwrapped, though. To tell you the truth, I loathe wrapping. And with Christmas presents, wrapping is a double whammy. Each gift first must be placed in a tissue-arranged flimsy white box that needs assembly, and I spend so much time on this tissue paper business that inevitably I shred or tear it and either have to bury that piece at the bottom of the box or start anew, again attempting to approximate it “just so.” In other words, when the gift is opened, I pray the recipient doesn’t think a preschooler prepared it. Next, I wrap the present in the pretty paper, trying not to get my hair in the tape, and I have no idea how this happens, or twist the tape, and struggling with the corners. I tie a ribbon around it and this may take a few tries, and affix the label so everybody knows which gift is theirs, and write “fragile” on the box and “perishable” if I’ve included my trademark chocolate brownies. Then I head to the garage for a bigger shipping carton, which to me is a euphemism for box. I find the bubble wrap or those dreaded peanuts that get all over the place, and I need a ton of packing tape. Sometimes I have to wrap the shipping box in brown paper, so then I cut up paper grocery bags and tape them together, and remember to put the box against the printed side of the paper so the unmarked side is on the outside. Out comes the Sharpie and I can finally address the big carton, again, writing “fragile” all over it because I was foolish enough to buy breakable things, and scribbling “perishable” next to all the “fragile” markings. I place the completed, double-wrapped and addressed box on the stairs near the door. Phew. That’s one. There are lots more. Then, hours later, I make several trips to the car, and drive to the Post Office. It takes several more trips to the counter, and I lock the car each time I walk away from it. Finally I get to swipe a credit card and go back to the car and think, Why, Oh Why didn’t I just buy gift cards?

Well, sometimes I do buy a gift card or two, especially for family members who love boating or photography and who are purchasing a new widget for their avocation, but usually, I go the traditional route. I might be on a trip, or at a crafts fair or a market, or just “out” and I find that perfect something that just yells the recipient’s name. And as my brain is not wired to cut me off, and does not scream back to me, “No. Don’t buy that! It’s a weird size and will never fit in a box. It’s going to break! Are you crazy? You will need two miles worth of packing rolls to get that across country. It’s way too heavy. Shipping will cost you double the gift amount. You will need a refrigerator box to mail it and where are you going to find that? No. No. No!,” I bring the coveted item home. Then I put it in a safe place for months, and come December, I tear apart every single closet in the house to find this stuff. This is my annual personal holiday routine that drives me to consume most every green, red and silver-wrapped Chocolate Kiss in the house.

But I love it. Not the wrapping, I enjoy the hunt of finding something that a friend or family member might consider “on the mark” and with luck, “just right.” I’m sure I’ve been off that mark, but I hope not too many times. I have come across beautiful jewelry, theme-inspired and artistic scarves and neckties, and loads of interesting books at shops in museums or historical sites, and I have also bought autographed books after attending lectures. I’ve walked into CD shops on my travels and asked about the local sound so I can purchase the music of a new group or an up-and-coming voice. I’ve bought colorful batik purses, beautiful needlepoint works which I’ve framed for the recipient, and earthen-toned hand woven placemats and runners, all for Christmas presents. In the Southwest, I found that pair of cuff links one family member requested, fashioned from silver by a Navajo jewelry maker. I buy soaps, homemade jellies, lotions and wines from a local area when I travel, and love the hand fashioned wax candles I bought last year at my own farmers’ market. Of course, I do go to the big stores on occasion, but usually that is where I feel most overwhelmed. One year I bought most of my presents at a hospital gift shop; all the proceeds went to fund the care of underinsured or uninsured pediatric patients. I buy from small businesses and craft fair booths, and have loved items I’ve selected from vintage stores and even recycled fashion stores. I’ve framed collectors’ stamps and once bought a Roman coin for a family member. Like I said, it’s all in the hunt.

Yet, every season, when we have put away the wrappings and taken the ornaments off the tree, I am afflicted by this deep sadness. I know it is a direct result of my gift giving. It’s not that I’m unhappy with my choices because I know I had a blast shopping for these personal gifts. It’s not that my gifts arrived broken; my packing is usually more than adequate. Well, except for the time I listened to a clerk at the Post Office who said it was unnecessary to reinforce each seam and side with packing tape, even using the word “overkill,” I believe. So I didn’t purchase more tape while at the counter and did it her way. Naturally, that box was delivered exposed to the elements, and rain water soaked through to the gift. Now I tape everything and never accept another word on this topic. And lastly, it’s not that the recipients hated the gifts; au contraire, people seem to enjoy them.

No, what really gets me is that after each year’s holiday buying frenzy nationwide, when every news source announces the long-awaited retail shopping consumer statistics, those very numbers that predict whether businesses are going to have a good year or a subpar one, I know the data are not accurate because they fail to include my January through December year-round gift-buying sprees. Either I have shopped too early, or in the “wrong” places, (think “non-mall” shops) or both. And naturally, I take this personally.

Ah well, this doesn’t stop me from relying on entrepreneurs and shops that support good causes for my Christmas presents, but I’m hoping the government will come up with some kind of new category to represent the folks (I know I can’t be the only one doing this) buying throughout the year and in non-mall stores. In the meantime, I have to be happy that I’m doing my part for the shipping industry. I buy so many rolls of packing tape that you could re-roof your house, and still have some left over to make the garage roof watertight, too. And of course, I know I do my part for the hair product industry; you have no idea how many products I buy each January to repair my tresses after using all that tape!

Kathy Galgano

October 28, 2013

MOMMY BLOGGING

  • Instead of saying, “I love you this much!” my little kids taught me to say, “I love you this much plus a googol plus infinity.”
  • Yes. I really do have eyes in the back of my head and if you poke your fingers in my hair trying to find them, it’ll hurt, so don’t do that.
  • When you come home from school today we are going to walk to the polling place. You can come in the booth with me and watch what I do and even fill out your own practice ballot. Yes, there will be stickers.
  • Every time you tip your chair back, my hair turns grayer.
  • No, Dears. Mommy’s not yelling at you. Mommy’s yelling at the silly men who don’t know how to play baseball.
  • No, these men are not playing baseball. They are playing hockey. Yes. Mommy is mad at the hockey players. Yes, they are in trouble.
  •  What do you mean your friends don’t dance through the house with their parents? Of course they do!
  • Please say the three magic words when asking for anything: “Gimme, Gimme Now.”
  • No, you can’t have chocolate for breakfast. That’s for your mother.
  • There are two things you must do before you go to college. Number One: Learn to cook. Number Two: Take ballroom dancing lessons.  You do not want to look like Elaine in Seinfeld when you’re invited to a wedding. Number Three: Study at least one language. Yes, even Latin is fine. No, Pig Latin is not fine. Number Four: Learn everything else you’re going to need to know. Number Five: Start calling home all the time now so you’ll know how to do this when you go to college.
  • You have it so easy. And stop rolling your eyes. Back in my day, when I wrote a research paper, I’d visit the library and lug these dense, soft-sided books with ridiculously small print to the table. I looked up key words in the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature. These volumes indexed just about every article written. I jotted down publication names, dates and articles of interest, but usually, the library didn’t carry the magazines I most needed. Finally, I searched the rack, hoping to find a few things on my list. There was no Google.
  • There was no “printer” either. You typed everything and if you goofed, you used a typewriter eraser and tried not to rip the paper.
  • Even though you are mortified that I still repeat the rhyme you made up when you both were little, I’m going to do it anyway.
  •  “Bye. I love you. Have a good day. See you later. Hey! Hey! Hey!”
  • Mothers always get in the last word.

 

Kathy Galgano

October 24, 2013

 

I JUST KNEW I WAS ADOPTED

One of my first cousins on my dad’s side was adopted. Our families visited each other every few weeks; my aunt and uncle lived in a different city, but either they or we would make the drive on a Saturday or Sunday. We didn’t go anywhere when we visited – not out to dinner or to a store to shop or to a museum – we just went to visit. The parents would perk coffee and sit around the table and talk about all the important stuff and I would hang out with my cousin and her dogs and my sibs. Well, the dogs really belonged to my uncle; a mother and daughter French poodle duo. They yapped and jumped on you and were wonderful.  Sometimes my dad and uncle and another uncle, would watch football on Sunday afternoons together, while the aunts and my mom would talk in the kitchen with the coffee pot on the table. While my uncles were yelling at the teams on the television set, we kids would play with the two French poodles and hang out together.

My beautiful cousin had the most fabulous pair of white, lace-up, boot roller skates with quiet wheels – you know, the kind you wear at rinks. I had a great pair of skates, don’t get me wrong. They were the kind you attached to your shoes and tightened with a key. I won them in a radio contest for writing a good letter to Santa Claus. I didn’t even know there was a contest, but some official person must have liked my letter and I won! When my parents drove home with the prize, my brother and I took turns roller skating on the kitchen floor. What a thrill. My family had a bunch of skates in the basement and they all worked, but these were shiny and new without a speck of rust. I used them all the time, but my cousin’s skates were special. You wore them at a rink. I didn’t even know where there was a rink – certainly not in my town. Who went to a rink, anyway? Well, rich kids must have gone to a rink, rich kids and adopted kids. Anyway, these skates were really something, and my cousin and I wore the same shoe size so I could put them on and try them out in her house.

And it wasn’t just the skates. This same cousin went to this summer camp once that was like heaven. You didn’t sleep in some musty-smelling, hot and gunky canvas tent. Oh, no, you slept in one of the wonderful cabins with walls and nice bunk beds and you could pick the top bunk and climb up it and touch the ceiling. This camp had a trampoline. Who had a trampoline? Not the Girl Scout camp I went to once. Well, there was this one hotdog stand in town that had a trampoline and go-carts to drive, and you had to pay to use them. But that was it. Nuns ran this camp; my dad used to do some plumbing for them once in a while and I learned not too long ago that this one rocking chair I love and actually have in my home today was a gift to him by the nuns for helping them out. It wasn’t a new chair, but they just said to Dad that he could have it if he wanted. These nuns were nice and smiling and happy to see the kids and they let them jump on the trampoline.

Now my first cousin on my mom’s side was also adopted. Like my other cousin, he had his own room. And he had a dog, too. Being a boy, he probably didn’t want a pair of white boot roller skates, but he did own a full set of Dr. Seuss books. Can you imagine having your own set of Dr. Seuss books? I remember bringing home The Cat in the Hat from the library and my mom loved it and laughed when I read it. I never asked her to get me my own set of Dr. Seuss books; it never occurred to me. But when you’re an adopted, only child, things like that happen. The mailman did bring Highlights and Humpty Dumpty magazines when we were kids and that was great. I loved that we read the same magazines the dentist displayed on the table in his waiting room. And one time when I was in Kindergarten my mom bought me this book of holiday stories with fabulous illustrations, and I loved it. I found the exact same book when my kids were little and I bought it for them, too.

Now don’t get me wrong. I loved my sibs. My sister and I made doll clothes, and my younger brother and I played army in the back yard. My older brother and his friends would come over and sit around the kitchen table and once they helped me with my science experiment to make a volcano, but I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to add to the vinegar to create the “molten lava” erupt.  We tried sugar and flour and all kinds of stuff, and then finally we realized it was baking soda. My cousins from town would pop in all the time with my aunt, and we would play records and make music and sing and talk about good stuff, and one cousin always styled and “teased” my hair. Never, ever once did my older brother and sister and cousins shoo me and my younger brother away because we were the younger kids. Never.

So in my daily search for my Adoption Papers (I KNEW there must be something called “Adoption Papers”), I have to say that I never once wanted to negate my own sister and brothers.  Frankly, that just never occurred to me. Why would I want to do that? My thought process was simple; if I were adopted, I, too could have cool things like fancy roller skates and Dr. Seuss books and go to a camp with a trampoline and always wear really new clothes. So nearly every day I would enter my parents’ room and go in their closet, heading for the left side where there was the most marvelous and deep cubby space cut into the wall.  It was a perfect storage area for luggage. Scattered among the luggage was this one old red small suitcase, the kind with a little mirror inside and women can pack their toiletries in it. Come to think of it, I don’t remember anyone ever using this case, but I knew it was important. I was convinced my Adoption Papers were in there. In actuality, there was nothing in there but the mirror and a smooth,  silky-fabric lining with a gathered pocket, and space. I always checked in there, though, and in the other suitcases in the cubby hole because I knew that this would be the perfect place for Important Papers. My mom also had stashed a few little keepsakes like my big brother’s projects from Boy Scouts in the cubby, and I loved looking at those. I never found my Adoption Papers, but I always enjoyed the hunt. I t never occurred to me to look in other places, like under the bed or in the desk drawer, or even ask my mother where the papers were located. I had to find them for myself.

One day my mom found me in her closet, searching the cubby and the red little suitcase, and asked me what I was doing. “I’m looking for my Adoption Papers,” I told her. She went into my brothers’ room and gathered my younger brother and in one movement, set me and my brother next to each other in front of the full-sized mirror on the back of the door. “Don’t you see the resemblance? You LOOK LIKE YOUR BROTHER!” Then she left.

I wasn’t adopted? Was this true? My brother and I walked out of our parents’ room, not even stopping to tip up all the handles on their dressers so that they would make a great clicky sound when my parents touched them and flipped them back down again.

What a disappointment. After that day, I didn’t search so furiously anymore for my Adoption Papers. I didn’t tell anyone how sad I was, but I sure felt bad.

But wait a minute! I had heard the grownups say that lots of times parents don’t want to tell their kids they are adopted. The grownups said this makes the kid feel bad. I never knew why kids would feel bad when they found out they were adopted; that seemed silly to me. There was an orphanage in Hartford that we used to drive by on our way into the city for a special day out, and the orphanage looked nice. Those kids would know they were adopted; how could they not? One minute they would be living in a pretty orphanage in Hartford, and the next thing they would be adopted and living in a home somewhere with a family. The grown-ups couldn’t hide the adoption from these kids. And my two cousins knew they were adopted and they didn’t feel bad.

But perhaps my mom just worried that the truth would make me feel bad, just like they always said. It didn’t matter that I looked like my brother; she was just trying to make me feel good about my situation. That was it! So when I did search for my Adoption Papers, I made sure my mom was really busy downstairs, like when she made dinner, and my dad was at work. I planned it so when I found my papers, my parents wouldn’t know, and then the grown-ups wouldn’t have to talk about it when they drank coffee at our house or my uncle’s house on the weekends. When I found my Adoption Papers in the pretty little red suitcase in the cubby in my parents’ closet, then I would get my very own set of Dr. Seuss books, and  I could go roller skating at the rink with brand new white boot skates, and my sister and brothers and cousins could all skate, too. That would be a blast.

Kathy Galgano

October 22, 2013

Coffee Pots and Radios

Dinner guests used to smirk when I pulled out my electric percolator. I had finally upgraded from my old beat-up stove-top metal variety that my parents used when we were kids. But finally, when my own kids were small, my mother insisted I get with the times. In fact, she even purchased the electric percolator for me. I felt a little guilty, like I was giving up on an old friend, and I had never understand why she no longer cared to use that dented ancient stove-top classic. It made a great cup of brew. The only thing was that there was a little trick to it; you had to keep an eye on it.

For those with no idea of what I’m talking about, let me explain. A percolator is brilliant in its low-techness. After adding water, you put this metal straw-like tube thing which is attached to a base, at the bottom of the pot. The coffee grounds go in a metal perforated “basket” which is inserted on the straw-like tubey-thing. The basket’s covered by a little perforated lid. Then, the cover of the pot with a clear glass bulb goes on top. That’s it. Put the pot on the stove or campfire and grab it with a potholder when it’s ready. In Westerns, cowboys always brewed their coffee this way. The principle behind making coffee is simple enough. When the water boils, droplets are forced up the straw-like tubey-thing and fall on the little perforated basket cover. From there, the drops spread out and drip into the basket, then through the grounds, and back into the pot. Watch the clear glass bulb on top of the lid and you can tell when the coffee is done. The water turns coffee-rich.

When I consented to retire my wonderfully “well-seasoned” Stone Age pot for this pretty and shiny new-fangled thing, I figured I was done with the jabs. Wrong. The good-natured ribbings continued, though I don’t remember anyone complaining about my coffee. Why wasn’t I using a drip machine? Like I had room on my counter for a Mr. Coffee! I just tossed my silvery percolator in the cupboard. And no cowboys ever sat by the campfire looking for an outlet to plug-in their Mr. Coffee. Of course, the closest thing to me and cowboys was that we both like coffee, although I do enjoy my half-and-half and sweetener. But I had my pride, and I didn’t have to buy filters, either.

People are always surprised when they walk into the kitchen; they expect it have a “high-tech chic modern” look because I like to cook. I prefer the tried and true gadgets, and particularly ones I don’t have to program. I must say, however, I do draw the line at rust. I had to chuck my nice hand-cranked pasta maker because it rusted. I have an electric one but am afraid to use it. There’s a video tape to watch; I wonder if the VCR is working? When my food processor from the 80s died, I was not sure how to proceed. Buy a new one and have it fall apart in a year or two? A friend came to the rescue and gave me hers.  It’s the same brand and make and I don’t have to program a thing on it. The microwave is 26 years old and still going strong. One friend threatens to buy us a new one every Christmas, but I try to explain to her that just because mine takes several minutes longer than hers doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it.

But laugh they do! And that’s before they see my radio. I love my radio; it’s one of my most valued and treasured possessions. It belonged to my Great Aunt Effie, and she gave it to my mother when she bought a new one. When I moved out of the house, my mother thought she was mailing me my radio; it was about ten years newer than my Great Aunt’s radio. But she grabbed my Great Aunt’s instead, and so there you have it.

This is your basic AM/FM countertop model featuring a faux wood finish with fabric covering the speaker. It’s called a “Realistic MTA 8, and here’s what it looks like.

It’s not an antique; it’s just old and worn. It has three knobs on it and they all work fine. Over the years I’ve splattered cake batter, spaghetti sauce and coffee on it. No matter — the thing just wipes off. Like the old battle-scarred coffee pot, it’s seasoned. The value is beyond sentimental, however. The radio just works. Think “Energizer Bunny.” I bought myself a nice HD radio not too long ago, and that lasted for a year before it quit. Not this baby.

I’m a radio junkie and this thing is always playing. It produces a nice sound. Sometimes I have to wind the cord around a cabinet door to make an aerial antenna to get better reception, but that’s okay.  I listen to baseball and hockey games on it, and news and music, and Car Talk on the weekends, and sometimes I carry it around the house with me, like when I’m painting a room. Usually, though, it just stays in its spot on the counter, and I just turn up the volume so I can hear it all over the house. No, I’m not deaf; I just don’t want to miss anything. There are times when I talk to it, well, not to the radio so much as to the person I’m listening to at that moment. I might be chuckling at a funny bit, or cheering, responding to the play-by-play announcer at a game, or presenting my humble views to the players and coaching staff in a calm but firm way after a particularly harrowing play, or perhaps quietly and oh-so-gently I’m offering my considered opinion to the politician being interviewed. Or I might be yelling and screaming, but I try not to let the dog hear me swear too much.

I’m thinking about buying one for every room, and so I checked on ebay and there they were, for fifteen bucks apiece! I think my Great Aunt would approve. Heck, it’s probably what she paid. Perhaps I should pick them up for the kids as Christmas presents, too, if there are enough to go around, because then they can boast that they have a Great Great Aunt Effie radio. That’s just cool.

With that problem solved, I’ll just have to find out who wants a dented coffee pot.

Kathy Galgano

October 20, 2013

Bruised By Shutdown, But Still Chuckling

I’ve been having a little trouble jumping into thoughts of whimsy these past few days; the shutdown has left me tired and bruised. Yesterday I nursed a headache, and today I tried to write something humorous, but it wasn’t forthcoming. This isn’t to say there hasn’t been humor – on the contrary, there have been many a smile generated by this mess. I’m still shaking my head in disbelief that political pundits barraged my Inbox with requests for contributions, for instance, while each passing day, things just worsened. Was this a joke? I was supposed to hand over money to a cause supporting a politician when the politicians got us into this mess in the first place?* It’s a sad commentary, I grant you, but there’s humor in it. Nope, nice try! My purse strings stayed closed. You have to give ‘em points for shameless spunk, though, right?

Here’s another one. On the morning after the shutdown ended, I read a request by an organization under President Obama’s name to petition Congress to get to work on the immigration bill because, the request said, “my voice counted.” Naturally, the request was followed by the customary appeal for money. Now I had just heard the President on the news, twice!, say: “… all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict.…”** Had somebody not turned on the news that day? The irony of it continues to make me shake my head in disbelief. No problem. Sure, I’ll support an important issue through an organization where people are paid to stir-up reaction and create action under the President’s name right now! Oh, and I’ll send you money, too! I’m so happy the President wants you to do this, even though he just said that nobody is to listen to this kind of thing. The image conjured to mind was the scene from The Wizard of Oz: “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Here’s the person who is really going to laugh – the one who is hired by political groups to write memos to tell them what’s in the news!

 

*NOTE: Yea, I know what you’re thinking. It wasn’t all the politicians who drove us into this, right? Well, the fact remains that the 113th Congress is comprised of two full chambers of elected representatives and so, ultimately, it’s the 113th Congress’ combined fault.

**Read the President’s remarks here: http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/10/obama-hits-bloggers-radio-talking-heads-who-profit-175330.html  “Obama hits bloggers, radio ‘talking heads’ who ‘profit from conflict’” By Dylan Byers, October 17, 2013

Kathy Galgano

October 19, 2013

WELL, THEY’RE BACK. DO YOU WANT AN APOLOGY, TOO? – DAY AFTER SHUTDOWN ENDS

We’ve been locked in a fight over here, trying to bring government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told a Cincinnati radio station. “We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win.*

With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, you not only “just didn’t win.” Your sixteen day experiment caused great damage. Your sixteen day experiment caused us to lose, and to say, “We fought the good fight” is disrespectful, patronizing and the poorest choice of words possible. How about an apology to the citizens of the United States for starters? It’s as though now that this “inconvenience” is over, there’s an “Oh, well…” attitude, with perhaps a moment to let the end of the shutdown sink in, and then it’s on to business as usual.

And in the meantime, the rest of the country is looking at the new date just after the holidays, and one can’t help but wonder if a shutdown is going to happen again, right when the holiday bills are due. So, do we spend generously this Christmas, or worry that another shutdown looms?  From the same Washington Post article quoted above, we have this recap of the bill that was passed last night:

“Meanwhile, federal agencies are funded through Jan. 15, when they might shut down again unless lawmakers resolve a continuing dispute over deep automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.”*

And then there’s the default issue again. From the same article:

“Enforcement of the debt limit is suspended until Feb. 7, setting up another confrontation over the national debt sometime in March, independent analysts estimated.”*

The thought remains in the forefront of our collective mind, “Is the United States of America going to partake in these shenanigans again?”

While I write, and all this swirls in my mind, I hear President Obama on the radio.

 “Now that the government is reopened and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do — and that’s grow this economy.”**

“Need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers….” I’m a blogger. Hey, the President is talking about me! At first, I was incredulous. Do I understand this statement correctly? President Obama does not believe that my concerns are legitimate because I represent them in a blog? It’s okay for me to write a letter, but just not publish my thoughts?

Then I had an amusing thought; I had no idea that my individual campaign to draw attention to the ramifications of the government shutdown, including my pleas to elected representatives to tell me what I can do to help, is in a class of activism that precludes anyone from focusing on growing the economy. And just for the record, the only profit I’ve taken is a bit of personal satisfaction that I have done something, but clearly not enough, to bring attention to this shutdown and to end it, to contact my government representatives, to talk about the problems and the positive points, and yes, the negative ones, too, to attempt to remain civil in tone, and to try not to lose too much sleep with worry. Oh, and I also derived satisfaction when my “Stats” page indicated that somebody else, somewhere, read my posts. It’s strange, of course, but I had no idea the President believes I wield so much power.

My point is that ramifications to the shutdown continue; there are large economic issues at stake, and personal ones. Plus, I don’t think the government can expect everybody to forget what they’ve been subjected to because Congress members got to work and struck a deal. Frankly, I feel that collectively, we’ve been put through the wringer. I feel that way, anyway.

But you may not want to pay attention to anything I write, because, well, I’m a blogger and the President says you should stop focusing on me.

*The Washington Post, “Obama Signs Bill To Raise Debt Limit, Reopen Government,” by Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman, Published: October 16, 2013  http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/house-effort-to-end-fiscal-crisis-collapses-leaving-senate-to-forge-last-minute-solution/2013/10/16/1e8bb150-364d-11e3-be86-6aeaa439845b_story.html?hpid=z1?wpisrc=al_special

**Here’s a link to the President’s quote, (although I heard it on National Public Radio news): http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/10/obama-hits-bloggers-radio-talking-heads-who-profit-175330.html  “Obama hits bloggers, radio ‘talking heads’ who ‘profit from conflict’” By Dylan Byers, October 17, 2013

Kathy Galgano

October 17, 2013

To Hell In A Hand Basket – Day Sixteen of Shutdown

“So, the mortgage [or rent] is due, but for sixteen days, nobody’s worked. Hmmm. What happens if I can’t pay?

You really don’t want to be the doc telling your patient the devastating news that he or she has cancer. There is a bit of a bright spot, however, because at least there’s an appropriate clinical drug trial that just might help. But oh yeah, even though the cells are multiplying like crazy, the treatment’s off limits because the government says so.

Federal courts have enough funds to continue until the end of this week. Then each Federal court will have to decide what’s essential; most likely, “essential” doesn’t cover civil cases at all. And, if you’re in the jury pool and actually serve, don’t expect to be compensated until this mess is over.

If you have been waiting for your green card, you better dig in your heels because the wait just got longer.

It’s Okay, Kids. Mommy’s not worried that our WIC money to buy food will go away in a few weeks. Everything’s going to be fine. Just fine.

Oh well, most of the people who inspect the food aren’t working anyway. And in case you’re wondering, yes, the government has stopped U.S. food inspections overseas.

But the little one may not be able to go to her Head Start school.

Here’s some more non-essential stuff “With two-thirds of personnel sent home, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks such as the flu or that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East. The FDA has halted the review and approval of new medical products and drugs. Nearly all staff at the National Science Foundation has been furloughed, and new scientific research grants are not being issued.” (NY Daily News, October 14, 2013*)

In case you like to get ready for Christmas and Hanukkah a little early, here’s an uplifting bit: “The Consumer Product Safety Commission is no longer screening products at ports of entry to prevent potentially dangerous ones from reaching store shelves, such as children’s products containing excessive levels of lead.” (New York Daily News, October 13, 2013*. Merry Christmas.

Just in case there’s a problem with the car, auto recalls are on hold. You can still file a complaint, of course, but don’t expect anybody to look at it.

Here’s something that really instills a lot of confidence. The Guardian** reports: “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission closed most of its operations on Thursday, though on-site inspectors will remain on the job and the government says it will handle any immediate safety or security issues.” Are they kidding? We’re expected to trust that the NRC will be able to handle problems while employing a skeleton crew, and that the government is going to keep us safe? Has the government been paying any attention at all to what it is doing? I’m speechless.

Oh, but here’s something that’s still working: “The more than 12 million people who requested automatic extensions on their spring tax return must still file their returns, which are due on Tuesday.” (The Guardian, Monday, October 14, 2013.)**

I can’t make this stuff up. You know what they say, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

Here are my sources:

*New York Daily News, AP, October 13, 2013, SHUTDOWN IMPACT: 13 Days after the federal government closed, affects are felt across many agencies: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/shutdown-impact-13-days-federal-government-closed-affects-felt-man-article-1.1484061

**The Guardian, October 14, 2013 by Amanda Holpuch, “US Government Shutdown: which agencies are next to run out of money?” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/14/government-shutdown-closures-money

Kathy Galgano

October 16, 2013

Letters to Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer – Day Fifteen of Shutdown

(NOTE: I emailed this letter to both Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer representing California, and I also emailed a similar letter to Representative Lofgren.)

Dear Senator:

I realize I have written numerous letters to you. As long as this shutdown continues, I will continue to work from my vantage point in my kitchen to end it.

Is my kitchen grassroots campaign having an impact? To a few readers, perhaps it is, but to the country and our elected representatives, probably not. However, I must do what I can because this shutdown is utter madness. And in a broader perspective, I am trying to prove to young people that one person makes a difference, that one vote matters, and that there is still respect in the world (though I admit that yesterday’s blog posting was much stronger in tone.)

Here is a letter I just sent to Vice President Biden. It contains my message to Congress, and a plea from me.

Kathy Galgano

Dear Mr. Vice President:

I have been posting a daily blog about the shutdown. Yesterday I implored my readers to send invoices to Congress for reimbursement of money Congress has denied them, such as salaries and lost business revenues.

What causes me the most angst, however, is the collective attitude of Congress. (I have stopped calling congressional members “leaders” or “officials,” as I do not believe they are embodying the qualities inherent in leaders representing constituents in a democratic republic. I invite you to read my post.

https://kathygalgano.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/there-is-no-distinctly-american-criminal-class-except-congress-mark-twain-day-fourteen-of-shutdown/

Mr. Vice President, I urge you to relay to this body that I, as a voter, am most ashamed of their behavior and their collective attitude, because not only is the 113th Congress failing to do the business of the United States, it is failing to responsibly represent the United States in a global economy.

Thank you, Sir.

Kathleen Galgano

Letter to Vice President Biden – Day Fifteen of Shutdown

Dear Mr. Vice President:

I have been posting a daily blog about the shutdown. Yesterday I implored my readers to send invoices to Congress for reimbursement of money Congress has denied them, such as salaries and lost business revenues.

What causes me the most angst, however, is the collective attitude of Congress. (I have stopped calling congressional members “leaders” or “officials,” as I do not believe they are embodying the qualities inherent in leaders representing constituents in a democratic republic. I invite you to read my post.

https://kathygalgano.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/there-is-no-distinctly-american-criminal-class-except-congress-mark-twain-day-fourteen-of-shutdown/

Mr. Vice President, I urge you to relay to this body that I, as a voter, am most ashamed of their behavior and their collective attitude, because not only is the 113th Congress failing to do the business of the United States, it is failing to responsibly represent the United States in a global economy.

Thank you, Sir.

Kathleen Galgano

Kathy Galgano

October 15, 2013