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Friday, October 26, 2012

Concerto for Can and Shoe Box

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for ear plugs

My husband was soon to celebrate his 72nd  birthday.  The children were huddled up assembling the carrot birthday cake they had decided to make for his birthday. The topic then turned to birthday presents.  The seven-year-old declared presents weren’t necessary, “Because love is the best present… and that doesn’t cost anything.”  If he had just left off that last part, I could have basked in the glow of superb parenting.  The tween-ager, thinking more of her upcoming birthday I’m sure, declared presents were an absolute must, but since  I’m sure she was also thinking of her limited cash flow from the Trump Chicken Condo business venture, she was thinking I would have to provide the money for any gifts.  From the office where Dr. Hubby was wading through pages of credit card charges, I could hear rumblings and then very clearly   “No presents.  I can’t afford presents.”

“Well, you can’t have a birthday party without some kind of present,” declared the Tween-ager.  I have always been a proponent of giving something of yourself, something that cannot be bought or given by anyone else.  With this in mind, the seven-year-old declared, “We will give him a concert.”  Some of you may recall from past blogs the Summer Concert for Plastic Barrel and Galvanized Pipe that lasted three hours and caused dogs to howl and hearing aids to squeal.  Since this did not require the Tween-ager to delve into her egg money, she agreed.  “A concert is the perfect gift.”

Immediately they abandoned the carrot cake, leaving me to finish up.  Since I had been paying for violin lessons for three years and started the seven-year-old on guitar lessons this summer, I foolishly assumed the concert would involve, you know, actual musical instruments….and maybe a recognizable song or two.  Ha!

 “Where is an empty shoe box?”

“I can’t find the rubber bands.”

“I need two pencils that have not been sharpened.”

“Are you going to use these empty cans for anything?

“What are you guys up to? “

“Recycling! Who needs real drums when you have cans?”

“Multi-tasking.  I’m checking out the science project on sound and vibrations while making a shoe-box guitar.”

“We need coke bottles filled with different levels of water.  Not chemical bottles because you are going to have to blow on them.”

While I watched the cake and washed out coke bottles, rubber bands were stretched over the shoe box and various sized cans became the Tween-ager’s version of steel drums.  Soon the “rehearsals” began.  The seven-year-old strummed his “guitar”, the Tween-ager kept the tin can beat going, and I blew till I was light headed.

A few deafening minutes later, Dr. Hubby slipped me the credit card.

Happy Birthday, Honey!  Hope you like your presents.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Minus Quarter Pounder X 30 = Negative 8

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for MIT School of Weight s, Measures, and Economics

No I have not had a brain transplant, although that might not be a bad idea.  And I haven’t been struck by lightning that suddenly made it possible for me to do quantum physics, calculus, or sixth grade math, but there has definitely been a change in our lives.  Let me explain.

For the past seven years I have made the twice daily trip from our semi-thirty-five-acre-mini-plantation into town delivering and picking up kids and passing Wal-Mart and McDonald’s a minimum of four times a day with frequent stops at both places.  Over this period of time, the clearance aisles at Wal-Mart have slowly made their way to our barn, the shop, and every closet in the house.   Ballet, gymnastics, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, violin lessons, church activities and a tight schedule resulted in fast food becoming a necessity as it was too far to go home and eat and get back in town in time for the next activity.  Those quarter pounders, happy meals, and caffeine/calorie loaded mocha frappes have found their way to my backside resulting in double digit stretch jeans.  Our credit card statement required extra postage.

At the beginning of the school year our children enrolled in a new school.  It is the same distance from our semi-plantation as their old school, but in the opposite direction.  In fact, there is nothing between our house and the new school except pine trees and speed limit signs; no gas stations, no McDonald’s, no Wal-Mart…not even a Dollar Tree. 

Now, because I no longer pass by and stop at  Wal-Mart’s two or three times a day, the clearance items are now more equally available to people who only come to Wal-Mart once or twice a week and our clearance aisle inventory is dwindling.  Since time, distance, cost of speeding tickets and gasoline have increased, we have dropped gymnastics, Girl Scouts, and one set of ballet lessons. 

The biggest change has come in the form of meals.  McDonald’s does not deliver so we have had to rely on my cooking.   Since I am not the World’s Best Cook (I am, however, in the running for Worst Cook Title) we have resorted to more natural foods….bread, peanut butter, honey, apples, bananas…natural foods that require no ovens or forgotten pots on the stove.  Also, because there are no longer four pages of credit card charges to McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, our credit card statement covers only two pages and one stamp.

And that, in a convoluted manner, leads us to the title of this week’s post.  During the first six weeks of school minus Happy Meals, quarter pounders, and mocha frappes, I have lost eight pounds.  The credit card people did call and asked if I had been ill or kidnapped.

I said, “Nope, just going in a different direction.”

Thursday, October 11, 2012

There's No Business like No-Business

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for non-writing lessons

The tween-ager seems to have grasped the fundamentals of current 21st century American economics.  If she continues developing such business acumen, I can just imagine the conversation we will have when she is a teenager.

“Mom, I have a new idea for a business: The No Fish Fish Farm.”

“But dear, starting a fish farm requires financial backing.”

“That’s ok.  Because I am under age 30 and female, I can qualify for a low cost business loan to get started.  Also, because my heritage cannot be established, due to sealed court records, I might be part American Indian, in which case I can qualify for all sorts of student grants to attend school to learn about underwater no fish fish farming.”

“Yes, but you are still a tween-ager.”

“No problem.  Age discrimination is a federal offense. "

“Yes, but fish farming is such an unstable market.  What if your fish go belly-up?  Need I remind you of the gold fish incident of a few years ago?”

“No need to worry.  I have studied my history.   Remember that program Cash for Clunkers?  I figure there will be another one like Cash for Crustaceans or Funding for Fish Flops or Credit for Crappie.

“Yes, but…”

“And because I might be part Inuit, my ancestors could have been denied their fishing rights due to great White Sharks so I would be getting more money from the government.   Plus, don’t forget I am adopted.   During the adoption process in court, I was a ward of the state for approximately twenty seconds so that should be good for more entitlements as I am sure I suffered physical stress”

“You were a baby.”

“But I could have had a wet diaper and the State failed to change me in a timely manner.

“For twenty seconds?”

And I’m not forgetting about you.  You could help me a lot.”

“I could?”

“Yes.  You are way over 60, you were a teacher so that puts  you just above the  poverty line,  you are living on a fixed income with  two children under the age of 18, and you started working before Title IX went into effect.”

Thinking I would get her to slip up, I asked “So how much would you pay me to be a non-worker in your no-fish fish farm?”

“That depends on whether or not you left Louisiana because of political persecution.  If you did, then the federal government will give me money to hire and train political refugees to work in my non-business. You did spend a lot of time in Shreveport at the boats… I mean on a boat…right?   And they were definitely against you, right?”

“I, uh, well…yes.”

“Perfect.  I just need you to do one thing for me.”

“Would you do my homework?  I don’t have time.  You know how the government is.   I have a ton of paperwork to do for my No Fish Fish Farm. “

I used to worry about how she would manage as an adult, but she will be fine. It’s America I’m worried about now.   Is there such a thing as a Non Country?

Friday, October 5, 2012


It isn’t a Faberge, but it could be!

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved to explain the national debt

This all started with a business our tween-ager got for her birthday; actually it was the promise of a business.  Really it was to be a hands-on business opportunity to explain how economics works and to provide her spending money.  Together we would build a chicken pen, purchase some chickens, sell the eggs and make a fortune.

Our first mistake was purchasing 12 chickens on the Clearance Aisle at the local feed store.  They were labeled as black and white speckled domineckers, the kind that is featured on country style dish towels and wallpaper.  After a month of living in the barn and losing their cute yellow fuzz, none of them were black and white. They appeared to be the illegitimate chicks of some Rhode Island Red and “a visiting rooster”.    

Our second mistake was in underestimating the amount of space they would need.  As they grew, so did the plans for the Trump Chicken Condos (see previous blog).  Finally the TCC was ready for chickens.

All 12 chickens were transferred to Trump Condos.  The tween-ager bought a clip board, calculator, pens, and a ledger to keep track of expenses.

April 2…..  12 chickens @ $3 each                                                                              $36

April 3….. l sack of chick starter                                                                                                 $ 7

April 17    2nd sack of chick starter $8.50                                                                  $8.50

May 1      50 feet of chicken wire, rafters, 24 2x4, tin, screws                        $489

May 2      3rd sack of chick feed $9.00                                                                        $9.00

May 14    Expanded Trump Chicken Condos, chain link, mortar, doors,      $598

May  20   Additional feeder and waterer                                                                               $25

June 1      Covered antique brick porch, rafters, tin                                           $289

June 2     4 bags chicken feed @ $10                                                                         $40

June  16  4 bags chicken feed @ $12 each                                                              $48

July 6     `5 bags chicken feed @ $13 each                                                               $53

July 30  Discovers one chicken is a rooster (don’t ask)  

Aug. 1 Adjusts projected income based on a dozen eggs a day to 11 eggs a day.

Aug. 2 Applies for Federal Disaster Relief based on loss of 365 eggs per year.

Aug. 3 Turned down as rooster is considered an asset capable of producing more chickens

Aug. 4 Reapplies for projected Federal Disaster Relief as future baby chicks could also be roosters.

Aug. 5  Turned down as Federal Government does not discriminate based on sex, same or opposite

Aug. 6  Advertises Rooster on E-bay.

Aug-Sept.  10 bags of laying mash @$13 each                         $l30

Sept.  11  The first egg laid at a cost of                                     $1,740.50

Oct 24, 2077   Projected date when business will show a profit

Sept. 12 Files for Chapter 11

Sept. 13 Federal Government authorizes a bail-out of $2,984.00 based on number of persons who would be unemployed if her business failed.

Sept. 14 Files suite against chicken hatchery for mis-sexed birds

Oct. 1  Punitive damages of $3,894.22 awarded, lawyer takes half

Oct. 5  GOP pays $1,740.50 NOT to raise chickens in the future.

Oct. 6    Throws big party serving  Sunny Delight, deviled eggs, and FRIED CHICKEN!

And that, my dear, is why America is in debt and no you can’t start a gold fish farm!