Monday, October 13, 2008

Poverty in the Land of the Free & the Brave – Thoughts about Challenges

My generation has had its’ challenges. There are those of us who have cruised through life with a sense of entitlement; the world owes them a living, damn it, and bring it on! There are those of us who have lived pretty “Chinese Curse Exciting” lives, and we’ll have stories to tell in the rocking chair days, let me tell you! Some of us have been rigid and some of us have been flexible. Some of us are going to make it come hell or high water. Some of us will drown.

I’ll bet many of us think about “someone else” when they think about –IF they think about—poverty. Poor people are “somewhere else”. They can’t be your neighbors, or God forbid, yourself.. I’m just “going through a tough stretch”, just “behind a few years on bills”, “just struggling a little”.

Well, it’s time for me to admit that I’m poor, not struggling. Wolfdancer Creek is in the Poverty Zone. My Grammy would be rolling in her grave, if she had one. My mortgage is going up, PG&E bills are rising, food costs are rising, gas prices are already through the roof, I’ve had to drop my trash service, I’m 2 months behind on the electricity bill, one month behind on the phone & DSL bill, (and considering dropping it, too, but since I decided to choose the Net over television five years ago, I would feel so lost & disconnected without Net access..) one year behind on my property taxes… And forget about Health Insurance, I haven’t had health insurance since the mid 80’s at AT&T. God forbid I break or get sick. I’ve got four more mouths to feed (the new kittens, you know) and still the animals need feeding, need shelter repairs… Wages are stuck in a time warp, employers are scared to death and cutting hours and jobs. I’ve taken on 2 side jobs, and tomorrow I am applying for a part time job at a Doggie Day Care center. In addition to working as close to full-time as I can beg at the Garden Center.

These collections of facts have made me think about what I have done, what I can do, and what I’m going to do. This being An Election Year with several capital letters, we have plans to make. Back-up contingencies to consider. Panics to attack. I have got to make Wolfdancer Creek work. I’m going to expand the gardens. This year, what with produce prices going through the roof, even with the very LIMITED bit of vegetable garden I was able to put in, we ate better. Not MORE, mind you, we actually ate less … but “better”. More healthful. I have to learn to can stuff, so I can put up the bounty for the lean times to come. This year, with the help of my Pal Mr. Lee, I made spaghetti sauce, and Mr. Lee canned it, and we split the resulting pints. Next year, I will harvest more regularly. Next year I make a promise to share the bounty with the Senior Center.

Wolfdancer Creek is going to become more self-sufficient. More renewable. More resourceful. More sustainable. The apple trees should be in better shape next year, and I have NO IDEA what I am going to do with that many apples. Make apple sauce? (& can it?) Make apple cider? Apple Jack? Apple pies to distribute to every single Senior in Estacada? Maybe. Maybe I’ll set out a U Pick sign. Maybe I will trade them for oranges & avocadoes from my Pal Michael-from-Mountains, from his Organic Farm in San Diego County.

So I am poor. I am living on the border of Poverty. And yet, I am rich beyond imaginings! Rich in friends, rich in beauty and wonder, rich in wildlife, rich with opportunities. Rich beyond measure with dirty hands, dog-kissed, cat-licked, goat-sniffed, duck-watching, snow-flakes-falling-on-my-nose-and-eyelashes wealthy.

This election should prove to be .. interesting. Interesting like the Chinese Curse “May You Live in Interesting Times.” “I am asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington, I’m asking you to believe in yours.” I am Voting for Hope. Something I have not experienced politically in a long long while. I wonder if I can sell my lettuce to Sarah Barracuda?

Gardening is alot simpler than politics. Next year, I want to help someone have enough food. Poverty is curable, methinks.


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