"Commentary from the Countryside"
Thoughts on current events,
history, homesteading, preparedness, real food, and anything else I find interesting, from a cranky, middle-aged woman's common-sense perspective.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Another Rant

Got my paycheck on Friday.  Since I only work a couple of days a week, it's not very hefty.  What's that old joke?  "I get paid weekly....very weakly"?  Anyways, I looked it over carefully like I always do, and noticed that union dues were taken out again.  Bah, humbug!

I understand the concept of the unions, and why they came into being.  I've read about the "robber-baron"  times when the Carnegie and Rockefeller types had no care for the workers that toiled in their plants.  I've learned about the horrid conditions and seven-day work weeks and the terribly hard times folks had then, and I'm not selling it short.  Indeed, the place where I work unionized some years ago simply because so many people needed protection from an unethical boss.

But, like so many things, unions have grown from a necessary, Helpful Thing, to an over-blown, unweildly, money-sucking Bad Thing.  (Sort of like the federal government!)  Without fail, union dues are taken out of my check, yet the money does not seem to provide the reality of the promise - efficient contract negotiations, protections against unfair treatment by bosses, or the access to proper tools to do the job safely and effectively.  What I see, instead, are propaganda magazines, brightly printed on heavy paper, filled with photos of smiling politicians and shrill rhetoric espousing every liberal cause on the planet - in my mailbox! - how embarrassing.  I see the union emblem prominently displayed on the websites and facebook pages of America-hating left-wing pundits and talk show hosts.  And then to read a an article saying the union plans to spend a hundred million dollars in an effort to re-elect the current Pretender in the White House, and well, it just makes me furious and sick.

Now if the unions would have put all that time and energy and money into promoting American made products; into working with companies to establish fair wages for honest work, (no rewards for incompetence or laziness!) and keeping jobs here instead of outsourced, into producing goods that are so high-quality that no one wants the cheap Chinese stuff anymore; well then I'd be on board and happy to support the union.

But as it is, If union membership were not a requirement on this job, I would quit the union in a minute.  I deeply resent my money being used to support un-American behaviors and certain political philosophies that I find abhorrent.  The unions have lost their way and their purpose.  Instead of being a vehicle for employees to negotiate with employers for fair wages and safe working conditions, they have become involved in politics and greed.  It seems as though the union bosses are more power hungry and corrupt than any of the cruel big company bosses that caused people to unionize in the first place!

I am not alone in this; I know other union members who feel as I do, yet are forced to maintain membership.  We do our best to distance ourselves from the rhetoric, but it is still a burning humiliation that our money is used in such shameful ways.  So, please, remember, when you see a bunch of placard-carrying, slogan-shouting union people supporting a liberal at a political rally, there's an equal number of union members looking at the issues with a clear eye, and voting as their conscience dictates, not as the union bosses demand. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Of Time, and Seeds, and Plans

I vividly remember a time when I was ten years old, when I felt secure in my little world, my parents still largely between me and cold reality.  It was early December and the magical first snow had fallen, that fluffy, delicate kind that still had the blades of grass sticking up through it.  The school bus bounced and squelched over the muddy back roads on the endless ride home, while I tried to keep my paper snowflake from being damaged by the knocking about - so anxious to get home and have Mom tape it up in the window, the start of our decorating.  All I could think about was the coming of Christmas and I wanted so badly to put up the tree, I was probably a bit of a pest about it.  My Dad told me I had to wait, and my response was pure frustration: "but time goes so sloooow!  Christmas will never get here!".  I've always remembered how he said it was coming so much faster than I realized, and that the older I got, the faster time would go.  While I was still puzzling on that one, he went on to say that he would give almost anything to be ten years old again.  Well, that one I just couldn't swallow.  Ten year olds didn't get to do anything, except what they were told, like picking up toys, feeding chickens, and helping with little brothers.  It was grown ups that had all the fun!

Now...ah, yes, now as a late middle-aged adult, understanding has finally come.  My Dad was absolutely right.  Not only did that Christmas come and go in a moment, but the decades since have flown by.  It puts me in mind of the flight of a barn swallow, a series of rapid swoops and glides, with brief hesitations in between.  I've decided to describe this change in the relative speed of time as the Barn Swallow Relativity Shift.  (Yes, I watch a lot of Star Trek).

I've been a victim of this Shift a lot this Spring.  It seems that one moment I'm babying my little seedlings under the grow lights and the next I have a ton of plants that need to be in the ground - now!  One minute the flowerbeds need a little extra mulch, the next they're choked with weeds, making my home look like a HUD house or something.  One minute I'm vaguely wondering where I stowed my mitt, the next, softball season is in full swing!  It makes me wonder, when I'm 85 or 90 years old, will the days flicker by, lightdarklightdark, like the time lapse photography one sees on television?

We have managed to accomplish a few things around the homestead.  Some new blades on the mower deck, the garden plot tilled and raked and planting begun, plans made for moving the garden shed and some insulation work in the basement.  With the possibility of maybe some full-time employment this summer, I have drastically scaled back the number of tomato plants in the garden.  I've also made a wonderful barter, exchanging some of the plants I raised for home-grown, drug free chickens due to be butchered in August.  I even purchased a second used pressure canner so canning will go more quickly this year.  I found one identical to the creature I already have, so hopefully I won't have such a large learning curve when using it.

Another experiment was taking some of my plants and home-made jams to the opening farmer's market on Memorial Day weekend.  The market is held in a small local town, but I swear that the entire population of the Lower Peninsula was there that day.  The whole experience was rather nerve-wracking, starting with waiting in line in the dark, a mile away from the market site, watching the sun rise while inching along.  Once it was my turn to pull into the marketplace, it was a matter of threading my way down the alley, trying desperately not to hit someone as they bustled about setting up their wares.  Don't know how I got through with both mirrors intact.  Then the fellow in the bright vest throws up his hand and before I'm completely stopped, a dozen more people appear out of nowhere and begin tugging at the door handles.  At this point I'm about to lose it so I open my door and demand to know what's going on - "c'mon, unlock, unlock!  We have to get you unloaded!!!"  Ok, fine, but a little communication would really help, guys!  I popped the locks and doors swing open and hands grab everything that isn't bolted down and throw it in a heap on the sidewalk; doors slam and I'm being told "move it move it!"  I'm glad Daughter was with me, as she began sorting out the mess while I went in search of a parking spot.  And so it went, watching the people around me for a clue as to what to do, and struggling to keep my little table and umbrella from being overwhelmed by all the huge canopies and professional displays all around me.

Two hours later I had made some sales and answered some questions and was doing all right, though completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of people.  Wow.  My friend who talked me into trying the farmer's market came by and did a little hawking for me and helped break the ice, so to speak, but it seems that 'salesmanship' gene is missing from my make up.  Now that I've had the experience, I may try to go again, though I'm planning on a non-holiday weekend that maybe won't be quite so overwhelming.  And maybe I can get my friend to stay at the booth the whole time!

After several days of rain, we have some sun and a nice breeze today, so I'm off to finish planting the garden.  Until next time, may God bless you and keep you, my friends.