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March 03, 2009

On the Sunny Side...

Emu foot TART INTERRUPTION:  For those of you following the backblogger discussion, here is a photo of the emu foot my dog(s) brought home today. If you click it on you can see it full size. If this isn't an emu foot - and Emu face considering we're in the woods of Vermont, why would it be? - please lemme know. By the way, this face is at the other end of the emu foot.

On the Sunny Side....

By Sarah

Lucky for us, Gwyneth Paltrow has formed a helpful advice website called GOOP (GOOP = Gwyneth's initials) about how to live one's life perfectly since, you know, she is perfect. This, to my mind, is Gwynethakin to the cheerleader/homecoming queen telling the ugly girl never picked for basketball that she could be popular if she had just the right attitude. But let's think positively.

Because, that's the lesson I've taken away from GOOP under the "BE" section about pessimism. Being a pessimist by genetics, it quickly caught my eye, not only because with generations of oppressed Baltic peasants in my background I tend to lean toward gray skies and short lifespans, but also because it has come to my attention that pessimism may be affecting my writing.

Say it isn't so! You might declare along with, she writes? Yes, when I received The Penny Pinchers CLUB back from my editor the first time, she noted there was so much negativity in the book. Why were Penny Pinchers the characters so nasty to one another?

Hmmm. This was an excellent point. In my defense, it was written pre-Obama when the market showed signs of suicide and my IRA was about to lose most of its value. But now, having read GOOP, I realize that all this was the fault of my inner negative energy attracting negative energy floating around in the universe.

New Age stuff aside, this makes logical sense. Two people can attend the same party, meet the same people, eat the same food and come away with opposite impressions. One was bored to tears talking about grass growing with a landscaper, while another found this really fascinating landscaper who had all sorts of stories about demanding clients or vicious weeds and the competition among neighbors for the perfect lawn. You get the point. Hey, you're not dumb.

I know because I'm thinking positively. See? It really works. Here are some other examples of how I've begun to think positively about this depressionrecession, for example. And now, to paraphrase Doctor Strangelove, I've learned to love the economic implosion.


It was a huge bummer when I went to Ireland, saw the most adorable little shack and said to myself, one House in irelandroom, sod roof, I could afford that. Except...it was $350,000. Who knew Ireland had become the artsy Mecca, the boom town of Europe. Come to find out it was all borrowed cash. Now the Green Isle's in the dump along with the Irish economy. Dingle Peninsula, here I come.


With fewer people flying for vacation and business, airlines and hotels are scrambling for customers. That might explain why Jet Blue could not have been nicer when I had to reschedule my husband and son's plane tickets because of the recent East Coast snowstorm that, according to the Weather Channel and the NYT,  was the next step to Armageddon. For some reason, I couldn't change the reservation on line. No problem. Jet Blue was polite, calm, rational and didn't charge a fee. I swear this wouldn't have happened a year ago.


Long lines begone! No one has any money including me. However, like most consumers in January I did need to restock the basics. And what did I find? Empty stores. No waiting. Friendly, eager sales clerks. Now THIS is shopping.


Liberty high As long as I've been conscious, the question of How to Save Public Education has been an issue. What do you do with school districts where the wealthy and knowledgeable yank their kids from the public schools and plunk them in private ones? The answer has been the decline of public schools - like my high school, Liberty, in Bethlehem, PA. Not anymore. Public education is the only affordable option these days and, suddenly, highly educated parents are rekindling their interest in public secondary schools and universities. This truly is a cause for celebration.


Jesus once said "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's," a line that's always struck me as conflicting since isn't what is Caesar's also God's? Anyway, the point is we'veJesus spent so much of our time rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's that we've cut back on developing our spiritual sides. No more. People are flocking to their churches/synagogues/temples. They're actually going into the ministry. And you know what that means? As they turn their attention away from money and toward the plight of their fellow man, they'll become more sympathetic and giving.

I'm sorry, but could you remind me why this recession is a bad thing?

So what are the bad things you're gonna start thinking good about?

Peace, blah, blah, blah,



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I'm starting to think good about staying at home. I used to leave the house for one reason or another every single day. I don't do that any more. I've come to realize that my mail will still be in the post office box on Tuesday if I don't check it on Monday; my library will still have the books I've reserved on Wednesday instead of Tuesday; my bank will give me some of my money on Friday as well as Thursday. Now I make a list of errands and run them all in one afternoon. In my stay-at-home time, I've been able to read a lot more. I've taught my husband to bake a pineapple pie (his favorite) from the homemade crust to the filling, a roast with gravy, and crabmeat quiche. He's taught me how to lay cement board and floor tile, to build shelves for books, and to program the DVD player/recorder thingy.

And, because it seems like a good time to do it, we've challenged one another to see how many days we can go without spending any money whatsoever (cash, credit cards, debit cards, checks.) This has been particularly interesting because it really does help distinguish wants from needs. Our personal record is 10 days. (I know some expenses like heating, water, electricity, etc. go on, but we don't pay them every day.

I've also amused myself by thinking who should marry whom. Wouldn't a match between Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter be made in heaven? How about Arnold Schwartzeneggar and Ariana Huffington? Paris Hilton and Perez Hilton?

Spring. Here. Soon. Please.

To follow up on Janis, I would feel good about a Chris Brown-Ann Coulter marriage.

Today I will feel good about really cold weather. Why? Because all this up and down with the temps has caused many allergens to pop up in a season they should be asleep. Let's hear it for a hard frost!

Josh - love you, man. I'd feel better about a Chris Brown/O.J. Simpson marriage. And don't start with the 'he's young, it won't happen again' crap.

I am giggling at the thought of Rush (the blimp) Limbaugh and Ann (skeletor) Coulter breeding. The kid might actually be a normal size, with a brain, even! The horror!

Uh...Kathy. Scratch the brain part.

Last night, I hardly slept a wink because people were rooting through our garbage as it sat on the curb, waiting for the trash man. This hasn't happened before. Someone made off with a broken snow shovel and all of our aluminium cans (put out for recycling.) I guess this is a good thing---keeping down the amount of stuff in landfills. (See? That's positive, right? Nothing about how desperate people must be go spend a sub-zero night looking through garbage?)

Katie Couric and William Bennett. Just saying.

I caught a headline the other day that said these challenging times are causing library use to soar. Didn't have time to read the article, but if it's true, that's a very good thing.

Our library use is soaring. We're staying home and watching more DVDs and the Broward County Library has a huge stock.

I just can't get the idea of Ann Coulter with...ANYONE out of my mind.

Ann Coulter + OJ seems like a pretty good match to me.

I like the Ann Coulter + OJ match. Maybe Sarah Palin and Rush? Perhaps Chris Brown + Mike Tyson?

Like everyone else, we're thinking before buying. And enjoying dinners in/potlucks with friends. It'll be great if we can finally put an end to conspicuous consumption.

Thanks to my son, I discovered freecycling (freecycle.org)--I've already given twin mattress sets to families that needed beds for their kids. It's a great way to clean out my basement and help people with things they need.

Our dishwasher died. It was the cheapest model the previous owners of my home could find when they put their house on the market 12 years ago. I must say, however, the cheapie dishwasher worked better than the fancy Maytag we had at our old house. I must also say, I hate washing dishes. That's what kids are for, right? Not when one is too short to put the dishes away and the other is too ADD to get four plates washed in half an hour. So, really, I'm spoiled and so are my kids and we need a dishwasher. Need as in prefer.

But, hello, our bank account has been dwindling along with our retirement savings, which is obscene. So we waited until the big appliance store had their "Buy at employee family prices" sale. So did everyone else, and the store was out of stock on just about everything. We bought an ordinary dishwasher, but we're still waiting for it.

And in the meantime, we're washing dishes. Together. And the kitchen is cleaner than it's ever been. Because we're actually washing the dishes instead of piling them up on the counter waiting for someone else to empty the dishwasher. Last night I suggested we return the dishwasher before we take delivery.


Because I'm married to a skinflint--he prefers the word "penurious"--we have always pinched our pennies. Hard. Mostly to our kids' frustration. The only bad thing about that habit is that there isn't much room to go from there. I have stopped buying fabric, but my habit of adding to the stash whenever I saw something great means that I also no longer have to buy fabric, for years and years, if you want to know the truth.

Our kids went to our local public schools, the same ones that everyone in their dad's family attended, and they got a really good education, good enough that the younger two got full scholarships to the colleges of their choice. If this downturn means that taxpayers will now support public education, I'm all for it. I went to all Catholic schools, and feel that my education was as good or better than most, but that was a long (too long) time ago.

Nancy, our home is somewhat near the local racetrack, where there is an annual flood of itinerant workers who work the horses and live six to a room. We've always left things we want to get rid of by the road, like the girls' outgrown bikes. They disappear overnight, inevitably.

Janis, that's an interesting idea. I bet my husband could go six months or more, except for a tank of gas once in awhile. He's a pro!

Sarah, Gwyneth Paltrow has lost me as a fan. That's ridiculous. It's easy to be optimistic when you were born with a silver spoon, and then added to the collection with ease.

Alas, in California the budget cuts have affected the public schools so drastically that -- but wait! Only positive thinking here!

Okay. Um . . . let's see: Today I get my External Fixation Device removed from my wrist via surgery. AND there will be nice drugs involved after the general anesthesia wears off. WOO-HOO! Party at Harley's!

Janis, I love the "no spending" contest. I have to admit that I'm the spender in my family, so the challenge will be on my part -- but hey, anything that helps!

Hubby and I are both working hard to feel good about working hard. Because of budget cuts, both of our jobs have expanded beyond their original boundaries and, between us, we are working the equivalent of 5 full-time jobs (2 for me, 3 for him). But we make enough to meet our needs and we have decent bennies. Both Very Good Things right now.

Once upon a time, we worried that our daughter would become a Navy wife. Nothing against the Navy, you understand, but being a young person married to a sailor is challenging in many ways. Now we could scarcely be happier -- never mind that we love our son-in-law, but the relief that comes from knowing they have a steady paycheck, a housing allowance, and great insurance is a huge blessing.

Great topic, Sarah!

And I would think that SHARING those nice drugs at Harley's party would be another benefit of the depressed economy. Kind of pot-luck-y.

Does anybody really think Rush is capable of breeding? To me, that's being hopelessly optimistic. Or pessimistic, depending how you look at it.

Michele, if there is a God in heaven, that answer will be no.

Very, very bad thing: Dubya and Cheney
Pretty good thing: they're gone

Bad thing: lost my job
Good thing: did not have to go out in yesterday's very bad weather

Good thing: Car payments on the Prius are going down.

Bad thing: Because my wife bought a new one and the "old" one (46,000 miles), 9 payments remaining, is worth a lot for trade-in.

Bad news: Dear Hubby's company stopped production & laid off 2/3s of employees & stock tanked, lost 40% of 401k. Recession proof business almost closed because of bad management decisions.

Good news: The Board of Directors fired the CEO/major stock holder. The "Powers that Be" decided to let them start production again, must jump through hoops to do it. But DH will have a job. Enrollment is up at my CC so my job is safe (so long as I behave myself)

Hi. It's Me, Margie.

Bad thing: The Tarts won't let me buy a fancy new copy machine from this really hot guy. Plus they won't tell you but the reason we need one is because no one changes the toner but me, and every time one of these writer geniuses has a paper jam, they try to just yank out the paper instead of following the directions. They say it's because they're "on deadline". Right. Every day?

Good thing: The copier repair place has a new guy, and he's hotter than the sales guy. Am I the only one who notices that these repair guys have great hands?

As for Rush Limbaugh breeding - have you seen this guy? Unless he is hung like a race horse, he's not getting close enough to impregnate anything. It's called needing 10 to give her 2, people. Wake up.

Good news: This story about Joe the Plumber's book signing in Washington D.C.:



My dog just brought home an....emu foot~!

Josh, don't you seriously doubt that ole "Joe" has zero clue what the word hegemony means? Too funny.

You, Margie, make a very good point about the fat man. There's a reason why he's been divorced so many times, why his last wife did not even live in the same house with him, and why he feels the need to pay for sex in foreign countries. Hello. It's certainly not his charming personality. :P

I find that even with gas below $2.00 a gallon (or at least it was when I went to bed last night), I still do my errands in a circlular fashion. No backtracking or zig-zagging, which probably means I'm more organzied. A good thing :o) On the other hand, we've had two bookstores close in the past month...oh wait, make that three. I forgot the Christian Bookstore in one of the strip malls. That means more people out of work. Being a university/clinic community, C-U hasn't been hit as hard as her neighbors, but the trickle down effect will start sooner or later.
Me? I'm thinking that paying off the credit cards is a good thing. Puts my priorites back in order, especially since I am officially on a "fixed income". And just for the record, I wouldn't wish Ann Coulter on anyone or anything...even O.J.

Margie, not to diss your bosses, but I think those writer ladies are trying to pull a fast one on you. But now I know why you don't invite me to your fancy office anymore. Is this new guy hotter than Steve?

See? Nothing gets past Cousin Rita.

Kerry, I am glad your daughter is happy with her sailor, but there is a new rule in the Navy. They are not allowed to get married, and they can't introduce their girlfriends to their mothers. I know it sounds funny, but his sailor buddies swore it was true. They even gave me the 900 number for Homeland Security to call and check, if I wanted to.

I think Gwyneth is sweet and don't understand why you all are picking on her.

Cousin Rita -

No shit, Sherlock. That's what I was saying. No wonder you're so popular down at the pier. I'll bet those guys don't appreciate subtle either.

Steve? Steve who? I'm mad at him. He doesn't fully appreciate all that is Me, Margie. He's on probation.

And stop telling Aunt Marie that the reason you missed Sunday dinner was because you had to bail me out.

Me, Margie

P.S. If you call that number that Senior Chief gave you, make sure to do it from his phone. Then at least you won't get billed for it. Geezzzus.

An emu foot. The foot of an emu. In New England. In March.

I can't wait for the story on this one.

Margie, I heard that Steve has been seeing that nice young lady who. . . well, I guess I'd better not tell until we have you bail fund replenished.

Josh, how much are you asking for the used Prius?

Josh, how do you like the Prius?

Josh - is it true that the Prius is so small that you can't even have sex in the back seat? I'm sure others want to know but were too polite to ask.

Me, Margie

You know, when gas was at $4/gallon, the Toyota guy said I could sell my old Prius for what I'd paid for it new -- I probably should have done it . . .but I get attached. My friends think I won't be able to set the frog free in the spring, but I think I will . . .
I have been cooking at home more (and eating healthier), and even went to a friend's church for free bread (Paneras -- good stuff!)
-- and the guys & gals at the Apple Store are teaching me SO MUCH!!

We like it. They are giving us something like $11,500. It's a 2004, has a blue book of something like $13,000. It needs some body work that has been estimated at $1200.

I don't know her timing, but the new one isn't in yet. I can find out, though. You can email me if you are interested. (We actually have the title without the loan noted on it, because the dealer never sent it to the lender.

One could have sex in the back seat, although I have not, and I don't think anyone has. Inside, it's about the size of a Camry, I've been told. The back seats also fold down 1/3-2/3, so there's plenty of room if that's your aim. Outside, it's lots bigger than my Toaster.

Sorry for the multiple posts.

My wife says that the new one is supposed to come in today (thus, the disclosure last night, so I wouldn't get home from work and wonder how our car went from sea foam or whatever to navy blue all of a sudden), but she hasn't gotten the call yet.

I love all of you. Really, I do. First, Sarah's blog. Then all of the comments. You lift me up! I lost TWO jobs in 2008, can not afford to live in my apartment any longer. My Dad has been diagnosed with cancer and I am moving to my parent's home while he goes through treatment and I save some money. And I still am a very fortunate person though my live sometimes sounds (and feels) like an old-fashioned country song!
Reading LC every day makes me laugh and I enjoy everyone's comments, in fact, I look forward to it. With everything going on in and around my life I still live on the Sunny Side. I had a great couple of job interviews last week and one coming up next week; the sun is actually shining in Ann Arbor (ok, its 19 degrees but hey, I am inside!). I've got plenty of books to read from our award winning library even though I can not buy any right now. The glass is half full, some days even completely full.

I watched Rush Limbaugh on Keith Olbermann last night. What is wrong with that guy? Rush, I mean. And EEEEUUUUUUWWWWW please do not talk anymore about him pro-creating. I have enough trouble sleeping right now without worrying about that image! Ann Coulter? She is the meanest, nastiest person EVER. She will never be a bad thing that I feel positive about---she is poison! And Gwyneth perfect? Anyone who names their kid after a fruit is just WRONG. She is a princess in a tower with no idea what the REAL world is all about.

Sarah--I am looking forward to Penny Pinchers. Maybe by then I'll have a job and can afford to support one of my favorite writers! And as good old Martha Stewart would say, that's a GOOD THING!

can we get spell check on this? I have to laugh because i said live when i meant life..........but at least i have one. :-)

We paid the vet bill in cash--good thing don't need to owe the vet because with these dogs you never know when you need to go there.

DH's mother is recovering from her nasty fall--good thing. He goes to the rehab hospital to be with her during her PT every day--good thing, it means I can actually get a few things done around here.

The sun is out and all that snow we got is melting. YAY!

Y'all are wondering where the emu foot came from, while I wonder how the hell Sarah knew it IS an emu foot. Don't think I'd recognize one if I saw one, especially if there was a possibility it could come from an ostrich. ???

Lynn, you are a shining example of what all of us need to be.

It could be so much worse for Dear Hubby & I. He could have been laid off & our daughter would be without a lot of money for importan bills for school. We are lucky that my parents could/probably would take care of it for us, but since we are in our 50s it would be rather embarrassing.

You are in my thoughts & prayers & will definately send good vibrations to you for your interviews.

Harley, you need to upload your picture to imdb.com! What's The Red Queen - movie, TV movie, series? You gotta fill us in so we can see it!

I'm liking this blog, because I have a really hard time with all negativity, all the time. My husband is one who tends to always consider every possible horrible ramification of everything, and my sister can go on and on and on and on about all that is wrong or could go wrong. It really wears on me.

With everyone constantly talking about how bad things are, it's hard to consider what could be good about the current situation in the world. I'm loving the Ireland one, since I like to envision myself in a little cottage there someday. I confess I have enjoyed the lower prices these days as stores try to get rid of stuff - my husband had to replace a winter coat the dog ate, and he got a new one last week for $20.

I guess I also hope this economy will make people a little less greedy and materialistic, but that's TOO optimistic.

My first thought about the emu foot was what did he do with the rest of the emu?

Okay, first of all, Lynn - I feel good things coming your way. I DO! And this is what reading's for - to take you away! Let's all just assume Lynn's going to get a job by June and end up happier than she's ever been, especially as her father recovers and she has precious time with her parents as an adult. You'll look back on this period years from now and, though tough, you will have an opportunity few have. Take it from someone who still misses her mother, dead 9 years.

Okay, the emu foot. I looked it up online thinking it was an ostrich. (Sp?) But an ostrich has only two toes. This has three and it's HUGE and scaly.

The only thing I can think is that it is somehow associated with Uli, this guy who, at 3 in the afternoon, fell asleep while driving down our road, smashed into our mailboxes, crossed our driveway and plunged into the field below. I know, weird. When I told him he'd landed in a field between two lawyers he nearly went on his knees and cried. Replaced our mailboxes today.

Somehow - I don't know - the emu foot and Uli are connected. Do they use emus to protect marijuana?

Emu feet bring good luck. Everyone knows that. Sarah, it's your lucky day. Go buy lottery tickets.

You know, my dog had brought lots of items to me and dropped that in my lap, but never an emu foot (or any other type of foot). His proudest moment was, I think, when he killed the mouse that my cat was completely ignoring. But I'm still trying to get my head around even thinking that it was an ostrich foot (not to mention emu foot) to begin with. Have you seen many of those? Do they live in Vermont?

I don't know that "ostrich" would be my first thought, so I'm really impressed.

Okay, I know I'm late to the party, didn't show up at all yesterday, I was in too much pain--back still hurts.

Lynn--keep going strong--eventually something will pan out, and your parents could use your help right now, sending positive thoughts your way.

Karen and Laura--I'm with you, how did Sarah know what an emu foot looked like and if there's a foot, where the rest of the body? Probably saving it for a present for later, pets bring your the sweetest gifts.

As for Rush--I was hoping all that legal drug use did in all of his squiggly-things, but if he's still paying for it, I guess not. He should be on the poster for planned parenthood. They could do a his and her poster, Ann on one and Rush on the other. Great advertising campaign.

When the big recession hit, I lost my job as well, but not before we paid off the credit cards and before we had a chance to use them again. So, we don't have a lot of extra money, but at least we're down a few bills. Now we're thinking that we should have waited to get a new car, but the old one was in constant need of repair, it was 10 years old.

Me, Margie--your right, everyone was probably wondering about the Prius. Come on girls, let her have a new copy machine, the new one would probably break down twice as fast as the old one, which means repair guy cutie could come out twice as often.

Here's a link to a picture of an emu foot from google:


Sarah, I think you found a special treasure.

Sarah, emus, for the most part are very mean. Supposedly they taste good. I know of a couple of emu farms here in MO, one in the northeast part of the state & the other in the southeast. I could see where they might make very good guards for a pot patch. Ostriches can be mean, too (one tried to eat our windshield wiper blade in a wildlife park), they get bored easily. The emu is smaller and a prima donna from what one breeder/rancher said.


We had a Samoyed for a long time & she brought me:

a squished baby robin
a squished vole (the dog dug through his buro and grabbed him)
a dead rabbit (and she had bright red spots on that white coat)
a squirrel skeleton

Dear Hubby dealt with all of it.


If you scroll down, it shows their feet. Looks like you id it pretty well.

Is it hiding your field? :-)

There are many bright sides to the emu foot, but the brightest of all is that it proves how much your dog loves you, Sarah. What a stupendous offering! If I were a dog and found that amazing item, no way would I share it.

Sarah, it's not that I doubt you, but could it be a turkey foot? They're also pretty darned big, although nowhere near as big as an emu foot. And by the way, thanks for the info about the number of toes, ostrich vs. emu. No one here, including the resident bird expert, knew that.

Talk about looking on the bright side, my daughter just left for Paris with her husband, leaving the adorable four-year old with us. Her husband's flight was paid for by the company (he's going on business), but her roundtrip flight from Ohio was a mere $250. I told her I'd be green with envy if there wasn't a sweet little consolation prize left behind for the next five days. ;)

You know what this emu foot is? Really? It's proof of both global warming and continental drift.

Vermont is now warm enough for emus without snowboots, and New Zealand has come to The Green Mountain State (though not in the name of The Great Jehovah or the Continental Congress).

Is this a great country or what?

First, thank you ALL for your kind words, thoughts and prayers. I can tell you for certain that they are working because today I got: An interview with one company and a job offer from another! Woo-hoo!!! So, by the first of April I should have a job, or so it seems.

So then I googled Emus. In Vermont. You have to try it because there is so much to learn about Emus. IN VERMONT! They have farms near Newbury, Mount Holly & North Clarendon. Sarah, its up to you to see if these are close by.....and apparently the oil of an emu has healing powers. After looking at their pictures and stats I can see why you only got a foot. I mean, come on, how could dog drag an entire emu home? My cat loved to provide dead mice to our overnight guests, left them in the hallway outside the guest bedroom when I lived kinda in the country. He was a prince. But seriously, Oil of Emu? Might turn out to be better than botox! Google Emus in Vermont and see what comes up.

Again, thanks for the kind wishes and I am sure I will hijack the blog one day soon with great news. See you all tomorrow!!!

Yeah, Lynn!! They will be so lucky to have you! Have fun with the grandchild, Karen!!
I wish you all could hear my friend Tim's emu story -- it's hysterical!
I had him tell it to my great-nieces and nephews as an antidote to a too-scary story!

Thanks Mary! Ok, give it up, we need to hear Tim's emu story.....

Thanks, Mary.

Lynn! I'm so happy for you! Good luck on having to make a choice on what job you'll have in April.

Lynn, he hasn't recorded it, but if you come to next year's Chicken Festival (3rd weekend in January -- location to be announced later, but somewhere in Missouri or Kansas), I'm sure we could get him to tell it for you. . . It has to do with an unplanned ride on an emu . . . ;-)

One of the storytellers posted some of last year's ChickFest on YouTube -- perhaps more enjoyable if you know the people, but "Waltzing with Bears" always cheers ME up . . .

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