Saturday, July 23, 2011

Journal of a Living Lady #402

Nancy White Kelly

The Journal of a Living Lady started out as commentary of my journey with serious metastatic cancer. Though currently stable, it is a battle I am still fighting. My body has had all the recommended radiation and chemotherapy that exists. The only reason I am still alive is that God still has purpose for my life.

Many years ago, during the Vietnam War, I wrote a weekly column for another paper. It wasn’t at all like this column. It was a personal analysis of American problems and especially the war.

I was and am no authority on warfare, economics or injustices, but the column gained a following. One of the essays won a top journalism award from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge. I appeared on television to receive a very nice medallion which is stored away somewhere.

Why do I tell you this? To garner a little credibility for what I am about to write.
In the last three decades I have purposely avoided writing negatively about the state of our nation. As a diversion to the depressing headlines and national pundits, I try to use light humor to depict everyday life of an almost ordinary family

But, today, I want to take this newspaper pulpit once and point out that which is happening before our eyes. What the government says and what I see are entirely different.

No doubt you have noticed the escalating prices of groceries and gas. Our waffles, pop tarts, cereal, and pasta have lost weight? So have baby food, potato chips and candy.

My brand of coffee has risen 22% just this year. Beans, eggs, onions and milk have risen 18%. The jar of peanut butter I normally buy has shrunk 9%. Fresh fruits and vegetables have gone up 18% as well as meat.

Yet, our government denies inflation or minimalizes it at 2-3%. In reality, it is more like 9.6%. At that rate, if you had $100,000 today, lucky you, in ten years you would have $39,985 remaining.

The Consumer Price Index, which is the U.S. measure of inflation, began disguising the deceitful statistics by no longer including food and energy in its calculations. How can you dismiss gas and food in the cost of living? Stay home and eat nothing?
With a little fluctuation, gas has risen $1.19 in seven months. If this escalation remains the norm, we can expect to see $7 a gallon in the not so distant future.
In the numismatic business, gold has reached its all-time high. Why? Because nobody has confidence in the paper dollar any longer.

When I was in Israel last year, one vendor didn’t want my American dollars. The day is coming when our paper money will no longer be the premier currency of the world. That is one reason people are flocking to precious metals for investment. Gold and silver will always be accepted anywhere in the world.

Did you know that our government has long been able to print paper money anytime it wants? What a double standard. If we individual taxpayers printed money anytime we needed it, we’d be in jail. Our government can do it at will and does. We are no longer on a gold standard. There is nothing to back up our currency but faith in the U.S.

Uncle Sam needs to know that when it comes to faith, my faith is exclusively in God in heaven and not the czars with their cigars blowing smoke in Washington.
If you study the economic history of the Philippines, Turkey, Taiwan, Austria, Brazil, Russia, Japan, Hungary, Argentina, Germany and Greece and you will see that they all succumbed to the economic travesty America is parading.

I don’t like to present problems without solutions. Space does not allow me to write the sensible ideas that I believe would get us on the right track, but number one would be a religious and consequently a moral reversal from the Capitol to Main Street. That wouldn’t solve our current financial dilemma, but it sure would be start to the revival of the America I used to know.

Economically, I say take care of America first. Except for legitimate humanitarian needs, bring our resources back home. Who in debt gives away money it doesn’t have, especially to those that despise us?

Give this Granny a gun and I’ll gladly engage anyone who dares to attack our land of the free and home of the brave. I’d rather die in battle than linger on in stupidity.
There is no humor in this column. Just the facts. Just the cold, hard facts.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Journal of a Living Lady #401

Nancy White Kelly

It’s that time again. The crops are coming in.

Buddy and I learned many years ago that we need to lock our car at church. Once a well-meaning friend loaded up our back floor board with vine ripe tomatoes and forgot to tell us. It took nearly a year before the family car quit smelling like home-made vegetable soup. As for fresh tomatoes I just don’t like them. Never have and never will. When the slimy innards of tomatoes enter my eye-gate, my esophogate reacts.

The only way I’ll eat summer tomatoes is if they are fried. No matter what, squirrel or squash, if you flour it, add a little salt, fry it in hot oil, the whatever inside morphs into a southern delicacy that tastes so GOOD.

For the record, I don’t eat citrus fruit either. I am allergic to it and break out in hives. I never liked citrus anyway. Maybe it is the texture or the smell.
Buddy used to make fun of my food finickiness. After he saw that documentary about human fluids and contaminating germs on lemon rinds, he too requests his tea or water without that yellow wedge.

The family car was jokingly sabotaged one other time with cantaloupe. Nothing in my personal repertoire of food smells worse. Cantaloupe is in a category by itself. Occasionally Buddy buys one for himself, but keeps it in the shop. I know because I see the rinds in the chicken yard. Is that love or what?

Buddy will eat about anything. He likes liver and onions. I don’t. He has two friends who like it too. Their wives don’t care to cook it at home either so they occasionally go out for a man’s lunch out.

One delight Buddy and I do share is banana pudding. That is my secret weapon when I want to buy something expensive or have really messed up.

We both have valid private pilot licenses obtained years ago. Imagine calling your husband and telling him you just ran the airplane into a telephone pole? I admit to not being good at parking.

Buddy was an aircraft mechanic by trade and it was just a tiny dent in the wing. Nevertheless, I made so much banana pudding for a pardon that I called him Chiquita and bought him a monkey. Really.

Journal of a Living Lady #400

Nancy White Kelly

Finally, after filing for an extension, our taxes are done and in the mail. Keeping records for a coin business is tedious. Uncle Sam wants to know how you acquired each numismatic item, when it was bought, what you paid for it and, if sold, how much it brought. Try cataloging thousands of coins, some as small as a penny, and others as large as a British crown.

Quite often I don’t know how I acquired a certain coin as it is common in the antique and numismatic business to purchase a large number of items in a bulk sale. More often than not, these coins were formerly owned by somebody’s deceased relative and the seller doesn’t have any idea how it came into their dear departed’s possession.

Identifying a single coin, especially an obscure world coin, takes hours of research. It is discouraging to find that the piece of metal is worth less than a U.S. dollar. Then try to find somebody who would like to buy a schilling or a Grecian drachma.

Time is a commodity and there is never enough of it. I am always attending to the tyranny of the urgent. In the meanwhile, store receipts for buying and selling pile higher and higher.

The fear of fines or worse, prison, eventually forces me to sit down and sort it all out. Poor Buddy has learned to tread lightly around me during this stressful time. Every year I promise myself I will stay current with my bookkeeping and each year I fail. I am sorry to disillusion you. The Living Lady is not an entity of perfection.
Back in the 70’s it was required that I take a vocational aptitude test for my new job as a state Head Start Administrator. This was during the early days of Affirmative Action. For the first time, my superior was a nice, but inexperienced young black man also new to his position. He had to take the test too.
After the scores were returned, he suggested we compare our results. He probably regretted it, but even he laughed at what the test said about his aptitudes. Among other quasi-titles, he showed high ability for manual labor and would excel as a “trash collector.” I chuckled too at my chart. It stated that I would be a strong candidate for the astronaut program.

Apparently the test had a smidgen of validity. My report also stated that I was particularly suited for educational administration which turned out to be true. I was a school principal/administrator for a large portion of my professional life. I enjoyed the classroom tremendously, but was continually solicited for chief honcho positions. One of my evaluations said that my strength is being able to see the big picture, break the job down to manageable tasks and assign them to responsible people. How hard can it be to delegate? Anybody in a suit can do it.
Ask me about management styles and I can talk hours about what I have learned. My leadership style changed significantly over the years. At first my Type A personality destined me to be an authoritarian driver with high expectations of those around me. And, yes, it is lonely at the top.

With each school change, I mellowed. At the end of my administrative career, I think I could better be described as a team builder and cheer leader. I surely hope so.
While both leadership styles got the job done, I wish I had exhibited more confidence in those around me early-on. They were most capable, but I was weak on trust. Now, many years older and hopefully much wiser, I know that an enthusiastic team, with admirable goals, can accomplish so much more than one who leads alone.
So why was I adept at running schools, but am now woefully lacking in self-discipline? Keeping business records organized and reports filed in a timely manner isn’t that difficult. The answer is simple. I have nobody to delegate the task to.
It’s just me now, accountable to and motivated by the Infernal Revenue Service. Thankfully I have a husband and a dog who still love me during and after tax season. Now that the taxes are done, Buddy is ready to hang a sign: Beware: Wife is experiencing taxing PMS…Post Mortem Syndrome. Properly interpreted, that means I am taking a long, over-due nap.