Saturday, August 2, 2008

Groceries or Gold?

Bob and I just returned from the grocery store and had a rude shock. We bought just a few things and only one meat. The meat was chicken and guess what? It was $5.99 a pound. Unbelievable! Besides that...that little bit of groceries cost $62.00....25% of our August food budget.

This economy is getting to be a major problem for us. Bob retired in 1985..early at 55. He really had no choice. His company was downsizing. He might have lost his job altogether if he had not taken early retirement. He has worked at something ever since. First it was real estate. That wasn't a good choice since he has no real sales skills.

He stayed with it three years before taking a hearing aide specialist course and selling Beltone hearing aids. That lasted another three years. I was still working until 1997 so it wasn't a large problem except for one thing. Inflation was eating up our retirement. Following the Beltone hearing aid work, he volunteered for the Red Cross for twelve years. Certainly no money in that. Just a lot of good feelings. He went as a SAIR chaplain to 9/11 twice.

Then FEMA approached him about four years ago and he went to work for them. After that began, we slowly paid off all our debt except our house payment. He is 78 now and getting pretty feeble. I don't know how much longer he will be able to work for FEMA. He hasn't worked now since April. He has had cataract surgery and is recovering from that.

I could go to work, I suppose, but doing what at my age? I have been in media sales for most of my career but how many radio stations or newspapers will want to hire a 72 year old woman?

This is going to be a dilemma for the younger generation too. They won't have social security like we have and many of them are loaded with debt and act like they will live forever. They don't save a thing but live right up to their income.

Bill Moyers

Bob and I watched Bill Moyers show last night on PBS. I watch a lot of PBS because I feel it comes the closest to not being biased news.

I admire Bill Moyers because he seems to dig up the stuff we all would miss if we relied on network news. Last night it was about Jack Abramoff and all the dirty tricks he and his group of "young Republicans" pulled to keep slave labor quiet in the Mariannas during the Bush years. It was very interesting. I wonder how many readers watched it?

When I hear of such stuff, I am ashamed that I am a registered Republican.

He talked to Thomas Frank about his new book, "The Wrecking Crew".

Frank said, "There are other forms of corruption that are particular to liberalism, and that occur more naturally among Democrats. But by and large, the particular mode of corruption I describe in this book is a Republican invention. True believers in the free-market way invented it and feel most comfortable in it. Most Democrats can be embarrassed by their relationship to lobbyists because publicly they pretend to be the "party of the people"; most Republicans are happy to say they believe in market-based government.

Moyers asks "Who are the real casualties of THE WRECKING CREW?

It's ordinary working people. Thirty or forty years ago, it was possible to work a blue-collar job and enjoy a middle-class standard of living. In fact, it was common. It was the American way. The reason it was so common, though, was because we decided to make it that way and used government as our instrument. That instrument is no longer under our control. Someone else is at the wheel, and they're steering us in a different direction. So can good little liberals go to bed at night now and sleep soundly knowing the Good Democrats have slain the monsters and reclaimed the castle?

No. Unfortunately, the system I describe is part of the landscape in Washington now. It's structural. It's an industry. It's not going down without an enormous fight. Besides, rather than putting away this very profitable game, a lot of Democrats seem excited to try their hand at it."

Politics...seems to be a dirty game. I am ready for someone honest...if there is such an animal.


Bob and I went out to the church to clean the windows and do some cleaning and found that there had been termites in two of the classrooms. I called the building supervisor (my brother-in-law) when we got home and he will get a termite inspector out there as soon as possible. We will undoubtedly have to have it sprayed to keep them from damaging the building we have worked so hard to build and keep nice.

I vacuumed and arranged the hymnals in the pews and then washed all the windows in the insides. Bob washed them on the outside. He is bushed now. I would guess there's a lot more then 5 years difference in 72 and 78. Bob just doesn't have the stamina he used to have. Of course, this is Kansas and it's very humid today. That undoubtedly played into it.

It will be interesting to see what the termite inspector has to say. Above is a picture of the worker and swarmer. The swarmer has the wings and the wings are what I found in the window sills of two of our windows.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The August 1 Polls

According to the polls today, Obama has pulled out in front of McCain by quite a bit. I think McCain not speaking to the issues and just trying to trash Obama has backfired for him. Obama makes good sense and that appeals to people who are sick to death of the kind of political campaign of the past. The poll can be viewed by going to the site of the Daily Kos here..

You may also be interested in what Kos has to say about the polls.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

T. Boone Pickens

My husband retired from Phillips Petroleum Company in 1985 and after all the problems they had with T. Boone Pickens, I never thought I would ever have any praise for the man. But we were surfing on TV on Wednesday afternoon, and we came upon the town hall meeting he held in Topeka. There he explained his plan to get the country out from under our 700 Billion dollar annual expenditure for foreign oil. He proposed that we do whatever is necessary to end our dependence on foreign oil, whether it’s wind energy, natural gas, atomic energy, coal, or even offshore drilling..

He explained that we use 25% of the world’s oil and are only 4% of the world’s population. He suggests immediately developing wind energy and natural gas, both of which we have an abundance right here in America. He has a plan and it is a very good plan. It can be found at on the internet. Using his plan we could eliminate our addiction to foreign oil almost immediately. He suggests all new government vehicles , state and federal, be powered by natural gas. General Motors already has the technology to produce natural gas driven autos and trucks and in fact, already produces them for sale in South America.

This foreign oil addiction threatens our economy, our environment and our national security. All our enemies would need to do to bring the country to it's knees would be to convince our suppliers to cut us out of oil. They could do this by coercion or by force. It wouldn’t matter how. What matters is that it would work. That makes it imperative that we develop our own sources of alternative energy.

In 1970, we imported 24% of our oil. Now it’s almost 70% and growing. We send 700 Billion dollars out of the country every year and that’s four times the cost of the Iraq war.

The world’s oil production peaked in 2005 and oil production has fallen over the last three years. The simple truth, as Pickens says, is that the cheap and easy oil is gone. We need to develop new sources of energy at home and we need to do it immediately.

The Department of Energy says that 20% of America’s electricity can come from the wind. In one year, a 3-megawatt wind turbine produces as much energy as 12,000 barrels of imported oil. Plus, such expansion of wind power would create jobs.

I challenge every reader to read his plan and support the plan he has developed to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil. The costs incurred in doing this are insignificant compared to the 700 Billion dollars we send out of the country each year to purchase foreign oil.

My Dear Friend

I have a dear friend, Juanita, who is going to be 87 in October. Her eldest daughter was murdered 20 years and and that left her one daughter and one son. The remaining daughter has been living with her for 12 years since Juanita fell and broke a hip. This has worked out fairly well. Seven years ago, Kristi, the daughter, was diagnosed with fourth stage cancer of the soft palate of the mouth. She went to Chicago, where her brother lives, and went through an experimental program at the hospital there that is affiliated with the university. She survived and recovered.

Now, she has been diagnosed with cancer of the brain, hip, and spine. The prognosis is not good. She has returned to Chicago to have more testing done and to get an official prognosis. If it is terminal, and undoubtedly it is, she will want to just be kept as comfortable as possible until her death. Of course, Juanita is devastated. She doesn't know if she can handle losing another daughter or not. Of course, she will have to. She has outlived three husbands but she was much younger at those times.

I met her for breakfast this morning after I had my hair cut and she told me all this latest news. It's bad enough that her daughter is going through all this but Juanita has a non productive cough of her own to deal with right now.

She had a chest x-ray Monday and they found nothing wrong there. This afternoon she is having a CAT scan of her sinus cavities and a lung test. I am anxious to hear the results of those tests too. Juanita is the white haired woman in this picture. Please join me in praying that she has the spiritual resources to get through all this.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Peace Colloquy

I am really looking forward to this year's Peace Colloquy at our church headquarters in Independence, Missouri in October. It is on the subject of Signal Communities this year. After all, that's what we are supposed to be about, isn't it? Building communities of love, hope, peace and joy?

Our little congregation has a "Living the Questions" small group meeting twice a month in the homes. This small group is different though. It is comprised of four Methodists, two Presbyterians, three Community of Christ, one Church of Christ and one agnostic. Of these, three have attended our Peace Colloquy in the past and this year once again three Presbyterians and one Methodist will be attending with us. In fact, they are returning early from a trip to Hawaii just to take in the Peace Colloquy.

The last one the Presbyterians attended was on Peace and Justice through adjudication. The man is a lawyer/judge and he and his wife and sister-in-law attended that one with us..

The picture is our Temple of Peace in Independence, Missouri. You can read more about it here:

Monday, July 28, 2008

My Church

Core Values

Core values affirm what is ultimately meaningful to the Community of Christ. These values express who we are. They are something like a personality profile. Our core values communicate the heart of our tradition. With them we share how God has shaped us and what we sense God calling us to be.

The Centrality of Jesus Christ

Jesus' life, ministry, and teachings; his death, resurrection, and living presence are the foundation of our movement. Our scriptures and worship point to him; the kingdom he preached energizes our desire for transformation in the world.

Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

—I Corinthians 8:6

"Connected in Fellowship"

This describes the sense of belonging to one another we experience as a people. It is evident in the kinship we feel with church members we have never met. We recognize that we are a worldwide community knit together by the Holy Spirit.

We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

—I John 1:3

The Experience of the Prophetic Spirit

The Holy Spirit's power inspired the prophets, anointed Jesus at his baptism, and empowered the church at Pentecost. The church affirms that the Spirit of God continues to call, challenge, change, and direct us today.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets.

—I Thessalonians 5:19-20

The Worth of Each Person

Christ's death is for all people. This means that every person is loved by God, no exceptions! The church is called to affirm the worth of people, to be an inclusive fellowship, and to work for human wellbeing in every setting.

So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

—Matthew 10:31

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

—John 3:16-17

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

—Romans 15:7

The Ministry of All Members

We uphold that each member of the community has been called to share in the church's ministry. The Spirit blesses and empowers each one (no exceptions) with gifts that are needed to bring about God's purposes for the world.

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate in cheerfulness.

—Romans 12:4-8

The Consecration of Our Whole Life

We yearn to offer the whole of our life to the cause of Christ. Experience and scripture testify that how we treat the world's people and resources, our gifts and talents, our strengths and weaknesses, our possessions and time, matters to God.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

—Romans 12:1

The Transforming Impulse

In our church's experience, the Christian life is about working with God's Spirit to transform the world into God's kingdom on earth.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

—James 1:27

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

—Titus 2:11-14

Expectation of New Things

God continues to surprise us, leading us into new paths of service and revealing new truths about the world, ourselves, and God's work.

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

—Isaiah 43:18-19

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

—John 16:12-13

Letters to the Editor

I write letters to the editors of our local newspapers whenever I have a concern. These have been over many topics over the years. I used to write directly to our congressmen and always received a reply so I assumed my concerns were being noted.

I have a young friend who served as an aide for Al Gore when Al Gore was vice president. He told me that I was wasting my time by writing to the congressmen and women. He said one of the responsibilities of the staff was to read and answer mail using what he called a "position book". Then the name of the congressperson is stamped on the answer with a signature stamp. I should have known!

I asked him about the best way to get their attention and he told me to write letters to the editors of the local newspapers. He said, they had a clipping service and kept track of those expressed concerns because the letters were reaching thousands of their constitutes. That's what started my letters to the editors.

I used to write a lot about the war and our need to get out of it. Both my sons have served in this war. My eldest, 53 years old, was in the National Guard and was activated and sent to Iraq. Our youngest, in regular army as a career, has been deployed three times. Actually counting Bosnia, he has been deployed four times in five years. Both men's marriages were destroyed. Keith's was a marriage of five years but Scott's was a 24 year marriage. Keith has remarried now but Scott is still single and very unhappy about it.

Lately my concerns are different. They concern my hometown. This used to be a charming little town of around 10,000 - 20,000 people. After Urban Renewal in 1969, it began to go downhill. Urban Renewal installed tile awnings over the buildings that would have been appropriate in Phoenix but were not at all appropriate in Kansas. The pigeons roost there and drop their droppings on the sidewalks below. Urban Renewal also made several one way streets which were not necessary in a small town. Over the years, the buildings downtown were allowed to run down and business, what there was of food, mainly, moved to the highway.

Little by little the retail business disappeared. It is a shame.

A year ago, two historic things happened. We were granted a "Main Street" status to help spruce up the town and we had an historic flood that completely wiped out the east side of the community.

The worst part was that the sewer plant from Independence, up river, was inundated in the same flood and their raw sewage washed down to Coffeyville. Besides that, one of the tanks full of oil at the refinery here was inundated and oil washed over the entire east side too. Between the refinery and the FEMA program, the east side has been involved in a buyout and over the past year, demolished. Now we will have a gigantic park on the east side of town that will have to be constantly mowed to keep it neat.

Nothing much has been done with the Main Street designation. There has been a lot of talk but no action that is discernible. So that is the topic I have addressed lately.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Great Party

It was a great party. There were 11 of us that came to the party. It was Karan's 66th birthday. She and Bobby did the hamburgers and the rest of us brought the trimmings and the side dishes...salads and baked beans. I brought the baked beans. We ate and then watched the video "Living the Questions" before the discussion. Afterward, Marilyn and Joyce went to the deli at the market and bought ice cream and cake.

Scott called this evening too. That's our younger son. He is looking for the woman of his dreams and so far there have been many of them. But he's looking for someone to marry and live with the rest of his life. They must be few and far between. Most just want to date.

But back to the party. There was Gary, Keith, Bob, Bobby, Karan, Joyce, Marilyn, Judy, Jack, Karan and me. Eleven of us for dinner. Afterward Bobby and I did the dishes.

Bob and I got home at 9:00 and Bob was very tired and went on to bed. I stayed up to finish this post.

Good Sunday

This should be a good Sunday. We have already gone to church and come home for dinner of leftovers from yesterday. Then Bob took his nap and I printed off and prepared to send out my "We missed you at church today" notes.

Our congregation is providing school supplies for the low income families at the elementary school just west of here. We took them to the church today where we will collect them and I will get them over there before school starts. I included reminder notes about that project.

I baked my beans for the group tonight. We are having a birthday dinner for Karan before our "Living the Questions" group tonight. We will take food and birthday cards for the occasion.

An old friend from my radio station days contacted me this week to ask if our "Living the Questions" group was still going. I told him it was and invited him. He is a reformed agnostic and should fit right in to our varied group.

We have five Methodists, two Presbyterians, three Community of Christ, and one agnostic in the group already. I am looking forward to it.