“Really, all of this speaks to the broader picture of how the middle class in America is struggling to exist.” ~ Bill Faith, from “Where the Tea Party Rules (Rolling Stone, 14 October 2014)

Saturday afternoon. Sunny, 76 degrees.

Date night tonight, two movies at one of our favorite places to see movies, Cinema Cafe; tonight’s selections—Fury and Gone Girl. Hoping the ones we chose this time are better than Noah and Oculus, both of which were a major waste of time and money.

Anyway, thought I’d share a few tidbits I came across in my perusing. It’s a theme—you know, Tea Party and Rolling Stone. Corey actually forwarded me the article below about his hometown in Ohio. Happy reading . . .

                   

From Rolling Stone article, “Eight Tea Party Morons Destroying America

This guy is my hero. No really:

Steve Stockman
State: Texas
Elected: 2012
Core Beliefs: A fierce defender of the petrochemical industry. Believes “the best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it, oil and gas come out.” Said president’s post-Sandy Hook gun-control push “reminds me of Saddam Hussein.” Invited rodeo clown who dressed in a racist Obama outfit this summer to be an honored performer in Texas.

But this one runs a close second:


And speaking of Rolling Stone and the Tea Party, here’s its article about Corey’s hometown—Lima, Ohio:

Lima Ohio
Abandoned storefronts, empty streets and rundown housing plague Lima, Ohio, once a manufacturing hub. Photo by Geordie Wood

Where the Tea Party Rules

Lima, Ohio, has been struggling for decades – and the GOP’s radical policies are making it even worse

By | October 14, 2014

Dewey Chaffins was 19 years old when he left Appalachia for northwestern Ohio in 1958. The youngest of 10, he’d grown up in Garrett, Kentucky, a hardscrabble coal town where his family had lived and mined for generations. During the 1950s, when the coal industry in eastern Kentucky fell into a steep decline, scores of young men packed up all they had and headed north toward the industrial Midwest. Chaffins found opportunity in the city of Lima, a manufacturing boomtown where there were so many factories, as one retired autoworker recently told me, ”you could walk into a place, get a job without even a high school diploma, and if you didn’t like it, you could quit, walk across the street and have another job that afternoon.” By the time Dewey and his 18-year-old wife, Linda, settled in Lima, seven of his siblings, their spouses and some of their in-laws were living in and around the city, where they quickly found work in the automotive plants or tire factories or steel mills, joined the UAW or other unions, and set about raising their children in a manner none of them had ever dreamed possible.

Dewey and Linda worked for Hayes-Albion, a Michigan-based company whose Lima plant provided Ford with chrome and trim. Their combined annual income was almost $50,000 a year, not a lot but enough at the time to buy a home in the middle-class suburb of Bath Township, just east of Lima. By the end of the 1980s, each of their four children had graduated from high school, and two had gone on to college. There was no reason to doubt that their family’s continued upward mobility was secure.

One recent morning, I went to visit Dewey’s son Scott Chaffins, who still lives in Bath, in a small three-bedroom house he shares with his wife, Lori, and their two college-age kids, Joshua, 21, and Alyssa, 18. Now 50, Scott is a burly guy who meets me dressed in long cutoffs, a blue polo shirt and flip-flops. He shuffles through his kitchen followed by the family’s big brown Lab, Brutus. Stopping briefly to say hello, Scott then excuses himself to lie down. “It’s his blood pressure,” Lori says, apologetically. A chemist and former college professor, Scott’s been out of work for six months. “Stress adds a lot of health issues, as you can imagine,” she says.

Photo: Geordie Wood

A short, round woman wearing a pink T-shirt and shorts, Lori Chaffins sits at a long, rectangular wooden table, drinking Dr Pepper. It’s a Friday afternoon, and she’s off for the summer from her job driving a school bus and working in the nearby middle-school cafeteria. The schedule isn’t bad, she says – working only nine months out of the year means she’s had more time to spend with her kids. On the other hand, her annual income is roughly $25,000, and she hasn’t had a raise in six years. Since her husband’s been out of work, they’ve liquidated Scott’s retirement and drained most of their savings, about $60,000 in total. Still, they have close to $160,000 in debt between their mortgage ($1,200 per month), car payments ($305), health insurance ($300 per month, with a $1,750 deductible per person) and the loans ($7,000) they took out to help pay for Joshua’s living expenses at Bowling Green State. Their home, which they purchased in 1999, along with 20 acres of land, for $170,000, has depreciated by a third, Lori says, ”and we’re still upside-down on our loan.” She shakes her head with the tight, exhausted expression of a woman who’s just barely hanging on. ”I mean, when a family can’t afford to buy steak at seven to 10 bucks a pound, that’s ridiculous. But ground beef at $4.99 a pound? That’s outrageous,” she says, her voice rising in frustration. Last year, their family had $18,000 in medical bills. ”And that was with our insurance,” she says. ”I just get so mad when people say the economy is turning around. Are you kidding me? I’m poorer today than when my husband was in college.”

Lori grew up in the nearby town of Elida. Her father, a nonunion carpenter, made less than $4.50 per hour, when he worked at all. ”We had an outhouse in the 1970s,” she says. ”I mean, we were dirt-poor. I refused to raise my children like that.”

Scott, who has a chemistry degree from Ohio State, was the first member of his immediate family to go to college, which at the time cost him $1,500 per year in tuition. While he was in school, Lori helped pay their bills by waitressing at a Pizza Hut, and she kept working as they moved from Columbus to Bowling Green, where Scott studied for his master’s, to Cincinnati. They had no intention of returning to Lima to live, but after the kids were born, they began to think it would be good to be closer to their families. So in 1999, Scott, then 34, went to work in the oil industry, managing 30 other chemists at the city’s large oil refinery, the longtime anchor of the community. Depending on his bonus, Lori says, he would go on to make between $100,000 and $125,000 a year, a small fortune in an area where most people earn less than $60,000 annually.

That was a good period, Lori says as light streams in through sliding–glass doors and reflects on a series of wall photographs: Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, the Pacific Coast. Scott took those, she explains, back in the days when they could afford to take family vacations. Today, she says, they can barely afford to go to the movies. ”The last movie I saw was Harry Potter, in 2011,” she says. ”We had no idea it would get as bad as it did.”

Click here to read the rest of the article.

So How’s That Project Going?

About That Timeline Thing . . .

It’s Thursdsmall-christmas-treeay and That Means Christmas Cards

Okay, so according to my timeline, I should have the dining room finished, the new table up, the shopping finished, the outside decorations up, and be well on my way to doing the Christmas cards and starting the wrapping of presents. Right? So to bring you up to date, this is where we are . . . . . . . . I would insert the sound of crickets chirping here, but that would take too much time.

The dining room is not yet finished: The fine china has yet to be packed. There is still one corner that has not been cleaned, and the printer has not been moved off the small table to make room to move the buffet out and to my mother’s house and the new table into the dining room.

All of the miscellaneous donations have not been taken to the thrift store; therefore, the house has not been vacuumed, which means that the tree has not been put together. The weather was warm for a day, but the outside lights did not go up. None of the decorations or wrapping paper and bows have been brought down from the attic, so that answers the question on the status of those two items.

flaming-june-by-leighton
"Flaming June" by Frederic Leighton, oil on canvas

I have finished most of my shopping, except for ordering the online items, which should have been done first; however, since I lost my wallet, I don’t know that I’ll be able to do that part of my shopping, which means that one of my sons will have no presents, but the other son will, as will my daughter. Try explaining that one . . . No cards have been addressed. No presents have been wrapped.  And in fact, the house is more cluttered now because I have brought in more things, but we have not taken out anything. Go figure.

This is what I have done since Monday: I’ve had a doctor’s appointment on Monday with my primary care physician at which I learned that I’ve gained weight (hooray, wonderful, let’s eat more holiday food), and I was chastized for letting my two most important meds run out because of lack of funds. They drained vials of blood and made an appointment for me to come back in three months. After that upbeat appointment, Corey and I spent about five hours Christmas shopping, trying to be very frugal with our funds, limiting the stores that we went to, but still managing to spend money. I came home exhausted and fell face first into bed. My entire body hurt everywhere.

I checked up on my friend’s eight-week-old niece who is in the hospital with a lung infection. I have to tell you that this particular situation is really freaking me out. Having a close friend who has a baby relative in the hospital always makes me freak out. It’s just too close to home. I don’t like it. I relive things. Luckily, she is improving, and they (those in charge) are hoping for good changes in the next couple of days.

On Tuesday, I took my youngest son to a doctor’s appointment, and then he agreed to go with me to finish my Christmas shopping. Brett does not usually like to do extended outings with me, so I took him up on this offer. Corey was supposed to finish the dining room while we were out. Brett and I were out for almost seven hours, long enough for a Chick fil ‘a (sp?) lunch and Krispy Kreme donuts for him, Starbucks for me. We found some really good deals, and I stuck to my list, mostly.

We came home to what I thought would be a finished dining room, only to find out that Corey wanted me to come home so quickly because his cigarettes were in the truck and he didn’t have any at home. Dining room unfinished. Entire body hurt. Fell into bed face first, and didn’t write a blog for the first night in December. Hurt too bad to notice or care.

Wednesday saga already written about so not going into that again. Thursday’s schedule: appointment at 9:45 a.m. Friday’s schedule: dr.’s appointment at 9:45 a.m.  Still have to buy Christmas stamps for cards. Still have to mail package to Lima, Ohio for Corey’s parents. Really would like to get it there for Christmas this year so that his parents don’t think that we have completely forgotten about them. But that means finding a box and going to the post office. Yuck. Hate that. Always a line.

Forgot to get all of the stocking stuffers in my 16 hours of shopping. Still have to make a stocking for Tillie. Of course the dogs have their own stockings. What kind of humans do you think that we are that our dogs wouldn’t have their own personalized stockings? I’m not making Shakes wear his Santa hat this Christmas except maybe on Christmas morning. Promise to take pictures and post them. Tillie is wearing a jingle bell collar. She’s not sure she likes it, though.

I’m really hoping that at some point tomorrow, I can get the dining room finished and get started on the tree. Brett has agreed to attempt to wrap the lights on the tree for me this year. Don’t know how I talked him into that, but I’ve decided to shut my mouth and be happy with however he does it because the reality is that I cannot possibly do it without putting myself into traction between the back and the useless arm. I think that he agreed to do the lights since I agreed to use clear lights on the tree instead of colored lights. Usually we use colored lights inside, but I agreed to clear this year.

See, I can be amenable to change. I don’t always have to have things my way. Of course, it’s easier if you ask me for something when I’m too tired to put up a fight. Then I’ll pretty much say yes to anything because I’m not really paying attention, and you can hold me to it the next day. Just preface it by saying, “but Mom, you said last night that you would . . .” or “but honey, you said last night that . . .” and there really isn’t much that I can do because once I’m in this heightened state of exhaustion, everyone in the family knows that I’m like that poker player with a glaring tell: easy to bet against. And I can have a complete conversation with you on the phone while I’m asleep, be completely cogent-sounding, and not remember a single thing. Now that’s scary, not to mention a bit unsettling—for me, that is.

A Few of My Favorite Things

scrooge-coverHere are a few things that I love about this time of the year because you can only find or get them now:

  • Starbucks Christmas blend coffee;
  • Starbucks gingerbread loaf with cream cheese icing;
  • Red and green peanut M&M’s (they’re just cuter);
  • Corey likes the Little Debbie Christmas tree cakes (too sweet for me);
  • All of the Lindor truffles are easy to find;
  • I get to watch Scrooge with Albert Finney while I wrap presents
  • Getting Christmas cards in the mail (I still love to receive them, but very few people actually send them any more);
  • Christmas stockings (everyone in the family has a homemade stocking, and finding out what is in your stocking on Christmas morning is always a surprise);
  • The candy cane-shaped holder full of mini Reese’s cups
  • And best of all, Christmas carols on the radio all day on Christmas day
  • I’ll let you know more later on how the whole timeline thing is going.

    Peace.