Category Archives: Archives, 2009

Me, Dud the Rooster and Frances the Chicken, We’re All Noticing the Changes

When I was growing up in rural Virginia, we didn’t name our farm animals. You don’t name animals you might eat.

Once I recall we took an un-named cow with us to town in the back of our two ton truck (us four kids in the front, no seatbelts, hanging out of the windows, chewing gum full of sugar). While we went Christmas shopping, my father took said un-named cow to the slaughter house. When we were done Christmas shopping, said un-named cow came home with us, flash frozen and wrapped in cellophane on Styrofoam trays.

We also had a dog, which we did name, in fact, he was named after my mother’s brother who was persnickety. Mother instilled the fear of God into that Godless animal for he would rather have chewed his front right paw off than come in our house. He knew that to enter the human home was certain death. Father, although he loved William, was fully supportive and kept William’s residence in the yard.

Things have changed over the years…

Now, my father has indoor animals. Not cats and dogs but indoor FARM animals, and indoor wild animals. And they’re named. They’re on the couch. On the bed. In the kitchen. There is:

  • Dud the rooster (named after a favored brother-in-law)
  • Frances the chicken (Dud’s wife, my father’s sister)
  • Ruth the chicken (another sister of my dad’s)

He really does love his sisters. I am thinking he just likes saying things like “Frances, get that bug!” or “Ruth, you did NOT doodle in the house!”

There has been multiple wild turkeys and even a fawn. My dad has dog pillows now… for the two canines that live with him. This is the same man who fought with my mother over whether to buy a mattress for the oldest child or to get a new plow! He wanted the plow.

What’s interesting about his transformation is that my dad laughs more, says “I love you” more, and just generally lives more.

Business is changing too…

I remember when it was normal to work really hard and expect a certain reward. Today, at least for a lot of us, it’s different. Jobs are not taken for granted any longer, business relationships are formed or kept based on a new set of criteria, and budgets are examined like a kid’s head for lice.

And expectations have changed. Buyers want product below net because that’s what their client expects. Well, I have to say, most of this, well, it just really stinks. BUT, like the appearance of the stray giggles from my father and stray animals in his home, I do find I notice some good stuff happening too.

Now, people are assigning value based on, well, value, instead of perceived value created by marketing people like me. (Whoops. That slipped out. Sorry. I fear marketing people will become the new…shudder…lawyer.) Suddenly, people are asking harder questions, wanting better answers, and knowing they have got to deliver answers to their clients.

People are beginning to “see”… beginning to say, “Yep, the emperor is slam buck nekkid.” Maybe I’m being annoying and stupidly optimistic, but that can’t be all bad. Something good has GOT to come from awareness, right?

Still, habit and deep-learned lessons are hard to shake. I still loathe the idea of having an indoor animal. I can’t do it. It’s not because I feel that animals are creatures “beneath” me, it’s because they don’t wear underwear. Don’t laugh! If your brother-in-law came over to your home and wanted to sit on your couch naked, would you really want to sit there after him? Or take a nap on it? Ok then.

But really, in retrospect, I’m still working hard, expecting a normal payout, wearing underwear every day, but, like my dad, I’m becoming aware of things, and placing value on stuff now too. Like laughing, in my underwear, on the couch, while watching the squirrels OUTSIDE the window.

Happy Holidays!

-Katrina

Pickle Tradition and POT Tees – Happy Holidays from Turnkey Promotions

I think the Christmas Pickle is a long-revered tradition. I’ve only known about it for about two years. Here’s how it works:  

  1. Get yourself a pickle ornament for the tree.
  2. After all kids or OPITH’s (other persons in the house) go to bed, hide the ornament on the tree.
  3. Christmas morning the first kid or OPITH to find an ornament gets something special – an extra gift, Santa’s leftover cookies, Bloody Mary…it varies.

My company, being pickle-friendly, is celebrating the tradition by offering the first 25 people to visit our Facebook Fan Page a gift. All you have to do is post a holiday story or wish. It could be about a really fun, cool, “made me smile big” gift that someone gave you, for example. Then, you get a wildly popular Pickle Ornament Tee Shirt. Yes, your very own POT shirt, finally!

As you post, we’ll let you and the fan base know that you got a tee. We’ll get our POT shirt to you before the holidays if you post before December 18. 

Finally, you’ll have something to talk about with the in-laws… or, you’ll affirm the lurking weirdness they have always suspected. You have fun with that.

An Untraditional Story of Thanks

I have been very frustrated this year. My daughter, Anna, turned eighteen in January. She is a special needs person with Down Syndrome and type 1 diabetes. As a special needs adult, my Anna needs Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – our national safety net for the handicapped. It took me several months to let the yeast of my gumption rise to this challenge.

Getting an appointment with the Social Security Administration (SSA) was a challenge. Even though you may know where the office is located and have the telephone number, you just can’t get there from here. You need to call the 800 number and get “on the schedule.” That takes many minutes. Many, many minutes. As many as in the Chinese population sort of minutes. I finally got through and got an appointment.

May: You want me to do what?

I arrived at the SSA office and then got the news: Anna doesn’t qualify for the maximum SSI amount because she doesn’t pay rent. Well, of course, at that moment, while I was sitting there, she began to pay rent! Which I, of course, promptly explained to the office worker. She replied, “I’m sorry you’re going to have to send us a letter.” “But,” I said, “Here I am! I can write the letter on this piece of paper right in front of me and we’re done!” (I was thrilled with my ingenuity and quick wit.) “No, you’ll have to send a letter,” the worker countered. This baffles me. But, with no recourse, I leave, with Anna’s less-than-full SSI benefit in place. This was in May.

July: “Call back later”

In late July I write the letter. (What? I got busy! No judging.) I send it and I wait. Nothing. I call the 800 number. “Yes, it’s in the system being processed. Wait a month and call back if you don’t hear from us.”

September: I’m beginning to wonder, is our government perverse?

In September I try again. I get, “Your letter is being processed. Call again if you don’t hear back from us in a month.” I’m thinking, what if Anna needed this income to eat? What if she was starving? Is this some perverse and clever way to reduce her benefit–let her starve to death?

November: “No benefit for you!”

Then, in November, I get a letter. The SSA has discovered that Anna is rolling in dough. She has her own savings bonds and they are going to eliminate her benefits. Say what? The only savings bond I know about is one that my father bought Anna when she was born, more than eighteen YEARS ago. It was redeemed long ago, so what is the problem? And, wait a minute, you can find a non-existent savings bond but you can’t process my letter?

I get a meeting at the SSA Corral

The Social Security Administration wants to see me ASAP and I am to bring the offending savings bond with me. I consider it a sign from God.

I load the gun for bear and get ready ‘cause I am ripe. Every mommy button I have has been depressed fully and repeatedly. I am like the elevator who, hell yeah, will go faster if you push my button again and again. I am ready to give you a ride to the moon and I am bringing my big gun: Anna.

Anna can melt a heart of stone, make you dissolve into tears with one lip quiver, and can be as handicapped as she needs to be to get what she wants. I know I can’t explain to her exactly what is going on but she knows, and she is on my team. The evil Social Security Administration people are in trouble now.

Ready, set, aim…

We show up at the SSA Corral. We sign in. We wait. I am getting more and more agitated. Anna wants to know what’s wrong with me. We finally get escorted by an armed security guard to our meeting room. (In my mind these guards are logically needed for the protection of the aggressors I am about to see.)

We are seated in front of a woman…with an oxygen tank…and a nice smile…and kind eyes. She introduces herself to Anna just the way nice people do. “Hi Anna, I’m Mrs. Wilson and I’ll be helping you today.” DAMN. She’s nice! She is defusing me against my will! I quickly determine she is clever, wily, and not to be trusted.

Shots fired, and …

Aware that I’m about to cash in on all my Christianity points and I’ll have to reload on Sunday, I explain that Anna HAD one savings bond, but that was redeemed many years ago. The nice lady gently pulled from a file a list of savings bonds. Apparently, for the last ten years, one of Anna’s grandparents has been generous without my knowing.

I fought back the urge to cry at the thought of one of my relatives doing such a nice thing with no pomp, with no notice, without requiring a thank you. Damn, this woman was good. She further defused me by saying, “Oh, if they aren’t in Anna’s possession they aren’t a problem!”

But I wasn’t beaten yet. There is still vinegar in me. I want to talk about the letter. I want to talk about the shoddy service and response time. I whipped out my copy of it with great fanfare and self-satisfaction and I questioned loudly, What about this?” And, with the aroma of victory came the sweet, self-righteous aside, “I am glad Anna wasn’t counting on this money to eat!”

By this time, I even hate me

The ever-clever Mrs. Wilson takes my letter calmly and says, “Oh good, I was hoping we could work on this today.” She proceeded to change the payment amount to reflect Anna’s paying rent, and to arrange for back pay for the lag time in processing the letter. I am FREAKING OUT with HAPPINESS inside…but still maintaining my outward snippy composure. By this time, I even hate me.

I had one more shot to keep her in the evil category. “Can you help me with the Medicaid application? We’re really having trouble. It is so confusing and seems to be made that way on purpose.” Mrs. Wilson said, “Why don’t I give you a form that will eliminate the need for you to do that as Anna is immediately eligible.”

I give. I am without recourse. I am, now, truly thankful.