Saturday, November 27, 2010

Can I Rant For A Moment??

I guess I just need to vent for a moment, so if anyone is not in the mood, feel free to skip this post!!  It won't take long. I try not to be political in my blog, and this isn't blatantly political, but some might feel it's hedging on it.

I don't know if most of you know, but I'm self employed and have a private practice as a mental health therapist.  When I lived in San Diego, I made pretty good money and since people generally have money in that area, I didn't have to deal with insurance companies and took cash pay clients only.  But, I made a decision to move to a more rural setting on my little 5 acres where I was happier and took a chance with private practice in an area that was socio-economically depressed and has a low population.  My days of cash pay are over, and I happily decided to apply to all the insurance panels and jump through their hoops to receive much lower pay with a lot more paperwork. 

The last 6 months have been hard.  Really hard.  Some clients up here can't even make their copay.  Some clients, because they are in  a lot of chaos in their life,  no-show on me/their appointment and then don't return calls when I attempt to collect the fee for them cancelling without notice.  I see some people for a very low fee or almost no fee because I like to have a couple pro bono spots and like to help those who are in need when I can. 

A disturbing part of my private practice are on some kind of public assistance or trying to get on public assistance.  I have nothing against this when needed.  I've had people come to see me just because they wanted me to fill out paperwork so they could get disability.  Most of these people that I encounter, with some exceptions, are cheating the system.  They are able minded and able bodied people who just don't want to work.  That, too, is frustrating.

So, I'm doing my best to keep my financial head above water.  The last 6 months have been tougher.  So, here's my real rant.  I got a summons for jury duty last week.  "Oh, my", I thought.  "There is no way I can go to jury duty - I can't afford to lose any time working".  Keep in mind, as a therapist, I can't hire anyone while I'm gone and it's just money I don't earn and I have no way to recoup it.  I'm mean, I'm scraping together the mortgage these days!  It's tough.  So, I fill out my form the county sent me and under the excuse section, I apply for an excuse based on the fact I'm self employed and am on the edge myself financially and am not able in my work to have someone fill my spot.  I got a card back from the county yesterday in the mail and it read, "SAN BERNARDINO NO LONGER EXCUSED THOSE WHO ARE SELF EMPLOYED".  What?  In this economy?  Are you kidding me?

It really seems like those who are trying to make it on their own (not just self employed, but anyone) have it harder.  Sometimes I just get frustrated and pouty and feel like those who don't want to do much get a lot back from the almighty government, but those who try and be self sufficient are having a much a harder time.  So, what am I supposed to do?  Here I have to give up a day of work which is REALLY going to hurt me (I haven't taken a vacation in over 6 years aside from an extended weekend), and with Christmas, property taxes, quarterly self employment taxes approaching, this is not good.  And, I would most likely not make my mortgage payment if I got picked for a jury!  I know that if I were myself, I would be picked for a jury.  So, do I go in there and lie to preserve my financial state?  "Hi, I am trying to move out of California because I think the system sucks here (well, that part isn't a lie) and I think the problem is all the Mexicans, blacks and gays and white trash."  Well, that would cover most groups up here, I think and would most definitely get me out of jury duty.  But, how creepy is that?  I can just imagine it then - the jury person (the court is just a few miles away) goes around telling the locals that the mental health therapist in town is really a bigot.

So, I'm angry and scared right now.  I'm angry at the system that they don't make exceptions for those who are self employed and can't work otherwise.  I'm angry that in this economy they recently CHANGED their policy and only now don't make exceptions for self employed.  I'm angry that I pay a lot of taxes and don't ask my government for anything and when I really need some understanding, I'm not given it.  I'm scared cause financially I'm in a tough spot and this is gonna make it really tough. 

So, that's my rant.  Am I out of line here?  Any thoughts?  Argh....!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!!

No picture today, no story.  Up bright and early and gotta make that apple pie to bring down to the family dinner.  It's about 5am right now and I'm baking, getting ready and then have a little over 2 hours to drive.  Not bad!  I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving and to some of you who are out of the country, just have yourself a great all around day!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

After 9 Years, He Has Earned It!

I gave in tonight. I chalked it up to him "earning it" after 9 years of "dog stellarness". After all, Sherman the Boxer has never chewed up or destroyed ANYTHING except when he broke a pen in two and even then, no ink came out. He occasionally will find a shoe and bring it to his bed, but never any teeth marks. He doesn't bark unless it's to tell me someone has driven up or a coyote or dog is on the property. He doesn't run off. He doesn't jump up. He's just a stellar dog! He was rescued from a backyard situation about 9 years ago. He was about 3 months old and half the weight he should have been - 12 lbs. instead of the average 25 lbs. for his age. He was emaciated, dehydrated, had infections and sported the fresh consequences of a horrible butcher job of someone trying to dock his tail at way too late of an age. He has eternally soulful eyes and always looks somewhat sad but it's really quite the contrary. He lives to play. He lives to run! He'll chase anything and is always up for a run or a walk. He is friendly to all and looks out for his little dog brothers well. Oh, one other thing he doesn't do... he doesn't get up on the couch. Well, he has never been allowed up on the couch. Somehow, the small ones managed to stake a spot on it. Maybe cause they're just small and I really don't notice them as much? Perpetually covered with a sheet, the couch sits two people and two small dogs most of the time. But, poor Sherman has never been allowed. I've spent many nights looking at those pitiful sad eyes as he envied his smaller brothers snoozing away while he's been the only mammal on the floor. Well, tonight I said no more! Rules have changed and after 9 years of being such an awesome dog and good friend, you deserve it, Sherman! Live it up! And, with the winds blowing cold outside, he did just that.

Sherman, Vagabond Troy & CJ the Pug (yes, Sherman eats plenty and is healthy - he has just always been very thin since being rescued)

Sherman & Vagabond Troy

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My First Homemade Apple Pie

Today was cold, windy with sprinkles off and on in the desert.  Definitely too windy to ride Mickey, so I took a day off of horseback riding and went in early to the farmer's market.  Got some Granny Smith Apples and pickling cucumbers (for bread & butter pickles tomorrow cause it's supposed to be cold and windy again) and came home baked my first apple pie from scratch!  It's an experiment to see if it's good enough for me to bring to my parents' home on Thanksgiving.  I went on and looked for a good pie crust recipe and liked the recipe that got great reviews and was handed down by someone's great grandmother.  I got the filling recipe from Better Crocker's website.  I wish I had my Mammaw's recipes, but they were all in her head and went away when she passed away.  BUT... I do have her southern apricot "fried pie" recipe as I asked her to walk me through the process.  As she added "a little of this" and "a little of that" from her memory into bowls, I measured them out beforehand and wrote the recipe down.  I'll share that before too long.  So, the pie turned out great!  Super flaky delicious crust and the filling is awesome.  The only thing I'll do differently for Thanksgiving is baste it and sprinkle some sugar on top to give it that something extra.  Looks like I'm having pie for desert tonight and I ran over a couple big pieces to an elderly couple that live not too far in their 5th wheel.  They were happy to get it!  Tomorrow, I'll give the rest to some other neighbors and I'll be ready for pie making on Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Beer, Boots & Buttermilk

Okay, it's the simple things in life that put a smile on my face.  And, today, it was beer, boots and buttermilk.

I don't drink much at all, but most nights I love to have one beer after work.  Maybe I'm a beer snob.  Or, maybe it's because I only get one and I want it to count.  For whatever reason, I like my beer to be a good one.  Life's too short to drink cheap beer!  This time of year, I can't wait for my favorite brewery to come out with their holiday "Celebration Ale".  If you like beer and haven't had it, I highly recommend you try it!  Brewed in Chico, California.  Comes in a pretty box with an even prettier taste and I found my first batch of the year.  Um, um, good!

For my birthday, I was given a new pair of Ariat Fat Baby riding boots since I finally wore my other pair out.  They were the wrong size, so this week I just made it down to San Diego to exchange them for the right size.  (After I picked up the good beer!).  So, I'm like a kid and want to wear them all around the house with my pajamas.  Yep, puts a smile on my face and can't wait to wear them on Mickey this weekend.

Buttermilk?  I have decided to lax my strict vegan principles that I've ascribed to for almost a decade.  I don't stray much, but I am indulging in some organic raw goat milk cheeses I score at the Co-op in San Diego, the fresh eggs from my chickens (when they are cooked with something else as unfortunately, I still don't like the taste of straight up eggs), and some occasional raw, organic butter.  And, this weekend I have decided to give myself a real treat: buttermilk.  Buttermilk has always been a favorite of mine, but I haven't had it in almost 10 years.  While at the Co-op, I found some organic buttermilk and decided to splurge.  Tomorrow there will be some hot corn bread around here and I can't wait to break the buttermilk out!

So, there you have it.  Three simple things that are leading me to smile and feel good about life today!  Beer, boots and buttermilk.  What are your favorite simple things?  What little things put a smile on your face?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Did Jack Lay This Egg?? WOW!!

A couple of days ago, I went out to collect our eggs and there was a HUGE egg in the nesting box!  I had been teasing Jack the rooster because I have caught him in the nesting boxes several times, so we have concluded it must have been Jack who layed this enormous egg.  ha ha.  But, kidding aside, I have never seen an egg so big!  The egg carton will barely close on it.  It's 3 inches long!  So, I just like to look at it in amazement and so far don't want to use it.  Keep on laying, Jack!

A biggy, huh?
Next to a regular sized egg!

Pretty easy to spot.  Jack is a super star!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Babies Get Day Play

Yesterday, I was starting to feel bad for the two young hens that aren't big enough yet to be mixed with the older ones.  They do have a nice, safe area in the back of the coop where the older ones can't get to them, but, I hated that they don't get sun and more space.  So, I grabbed a few pieces of cut rebar I had lying around and several feet of 2 foot chicken wire behind the shed and sectioned them off an area on the corner of the run.  I put their food and water out and boy, did they have a great time!  They pecked around and scratched, took long dust baths, and I gave them 4 grub worms I dug up from my pathetic attempt at a garden last spring.  They also got some fresh pomegranate and treats.  So, weather permitting, they will get day play regularly until they are big enough to hold their own against the older ones!  I feel better, and I'm quite certain they do also!

day play section
the dust bath begins

Theodocia checks the young ones out

Pretty Barred Rock

More dusting

Ah, feels good!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sherman meets Jack & the Girls

The hope for Sherman the Boxer being a protector for my chickens is not on my horizon, that's for sure!  But, I have been impressed with his going up to their run and not charging them.  So, today, I brought him in on the leash to introduce them.  He was much better than I thought he would be!  He only lunged for them once when Bokie took flight after he got too close for her comfort.  Sherman backed down when Jack approached him all fluffed up.  Very funny.  Too bad he wasn't able to be raised with them - he protects his little dog brothers like crazy.  But, nevertheless, he did alert us to a coyote this morning that was about 15 feet from the chicken coop.  He left his scat right outside the run fence, so he's definitely casing the place.  But, I still feel my "underground" work will keep a digging coyote out and since the chicken wire is wrapped again with 3 foot box fencing, he can't break through and it's covered on top.  The two young chickens are doing well.  I take them out of their segregated space every day and let them have more room to really run around.  They still can't be integrated with the older birds because the two times I tried did NOT go over well.  As some of the pics show below, they are still getting their feathers in on their lower back.  It's fascinating to watch them come in.  5 eggs yesterday and NONE today so far (it's 3:20).  What?  They think they can take a day off cause they were stellar yesterday?  I don't think so!  :)  Also, not crazy about the picture of me, but kept them cause of the chickens.  It looks like I'm trying out for chicken model or something!  Oh, well.

The first intro with a little assurance from mom

Talking about a short leash!

Jack could care less

Had to hold Jack for a quick photo op

Jack takes better pictures than I do

Jack is saying, "that's close enough, bud!"

Eunice took flight and Shermie took a lunge - instinct kicked in!

Holding the Easter Egger - she's real skittish

Easter Egger feathers growing in

Barred Rock (name coming soon) - She is taking a real liking to me!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Two New Gals & First Night Alone

The area I made under the roosts with the 2 new girls inside
I got two new hens. Well, I first got one new hen and didn't know I was gonna get a second. I really didn't know I was going to get a first! I went to a different feed store to pick up grain for my horse and they said they had chickens 3 to 4 months old out back. They had one "Easter Egger" left which lays green or/and blue eggs. That was one I wanted at some point so couldn't resist! She is about half the size of the other gals so knew it would be touch and go whether they accepted her. I kept her in a roomy cage for a day where the others could see her and then let her out supervised, but it was ugly. Poor thing... she would have ended up dead probably. So, I made a section in the back of the hen house underneath the roosts, covered with plywood so she doesn't get pooped on at night where she can have her own area for a while until she gets bigger. But, she was continuing to be anxious and just wouldn't calm down after 2 days. So, I figured she would do better with a buddy. I also read that chickens are very social and do better in pairs and she will always try and pal up with one of the others but may not be accepted. So, on my lunch break yesterday, I drove out to the feed store again and got her a friend. They were out of Easter Eggers so I got a Barred Plymouth Rock. I put her in with the Easter Egger and she instantly calmed down. So, I'll keep the two newbies (haven't named them yet) separated until they get bigger and then introduce them to the flock.  Sorry the pictures aren't that great.

Barred Plymouth rock (left) & Easter Egger (right) with Eunice giving stink eye

Barred Plymouth Rock
Easter Egger
Today is also the first day/night alone for the hens.  Every other week, I have to drive to San Diego for work for one day.  I'm gone about 27 hours.  So... the girls will have to be in their hen house for that stretch of time because I can't chance coyotes discovering them at night with an open coop door!  I'm sure they will be fine.  the coop is plenty big - 60 square feet.  At some point in the near future, I hope to find a neighbor who can let them in and out for me.  So, hopefully all will be well with the girls!  Wish them luck.  Everyone have a great Tuesday.  I'm packing up the dogs, going to vote and then off to San Diego.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vegetarian Chorizo & Eggs - Um, Um, Good!

Well, I guess I can't say I'm truly vegan anymore, ha ha.  My whole life I have disliked eggs.  My mom said she tried to make them every which way to get me to eat them, but I just made faces and refused.  Except there was one dish I loved that she made.  Chorizo & Eggs served with flour tortillas.  I remember the family having it for a late weekend breakfast.  It was one of my favorites and conjures up memories of weekends full of play and the worry free feeling many had as a kid.  Plus, we always got a treat and had Dr. Pepper with our chorizo and eggs.  You really can't eat it any other way.

Well, I bought vegetarian (soy based) chorizo and it's excellent.  And, Sunday, I cooked it up with eggs (instead of my standard tofu I've had for years) and I'm happy to report I liked it as much as when I was a kid!  I did skip the Dr. Pepper (have to admit there was a little something missing!) and I wasn't quite as worry free as I remember at age 7, but hey, it was a great meal and a great Sunday.  And, guilt free as I know my eggs came from cruelty free chickens in my own yard!!