Tag Archives: #Recession

Grandma Heads Off To College: A Recession Era Tale

ImageGRANDMA HEADS OFF TO COLLEGE

A RECESSION ERA TALE

               I drove through the quiet, manicured suburban Roseville neighborhood I would no longer call home this morning. My swollen eyes and red splotchy face were the affirmation that I had made the right decision not to put on make-up after my morning shower. That was the last shower I would take as a permanent resident in my daughter’s home. At one point, my daughter knocked asking, “Are you OK Mom?” which I answered, “Yes” though I didn’t tell her I had been in the bathroom for an extra-long time this particular morning because I had been balling my eyes out while writing my two little grandchildren, Hudson (4) & Dayton (2) their good-bye, I will miss you cards. I also didn’t tell my daughter that the first time I walked into a drug store to buy a Thank You Card for their family, I started crying so much that I just had to leave!

Yes! Today is the day I headed off to college! Yet, unlike the eighteen year-old, I am leaving behind six of my eight grandchildren, two of my three daughters, my roses, the vegetable garden, most of my belongings (in storage), my two son-in-laws (who probably aren’t crying) and Baxter, my daughter’s ten year-old pug that may not live to my next visit. (I just realized that in my blubbering, that I forgot to say goodbye to Baxter!)

The impetus for my unstoppable fountain of tears is because I am leaving my youngest grandchildren whom I have lived with for most of their little lives. How will I get along without anyone to share with when I see a magnificent bird, an egg shell from a nest or a giant caterpillar? Who will be there to be just as amazed at the sunset as my little 2 year-old granddaughter Dayton, who asked me to pull the blinds up last night so she wouldn’t miss the “set-sun?” Who will care about whether or not the “owie” on my finger has healed yet? Who will be there to never tire of playing card games, like my three oldest grandsons?

Regardless of the monumental suffering these daily dilemmas and others will create for my aching heart, I had to leave! I had to leave for the very reasons my eighteen year-old granddaughter, Elora left her friends and family behind last year to head to college. If I didn’t leave, I would have the pressure of a poverty-stricken or very family dependent retirement looming large over my loved ones. I had to get my rear-end to graduate school quick!

This was never my plan, yet it was always an unspoken dream cast away after decades of repetitive mental reality checks every time I saw those enviable titles after someone’s name that I knew I could never compete with, no matter what I had accomplished in my life: MPH, PhD. EdD. MSW, etc…

If I listed the journeys I have taken to get to this moment, I would never get through this post, so I won’t. Briefly, after losing my home, my retirement, my marriage and with wages plummeting, I only had the hope to work for $12-15 hr. with little chance for benefits, if I worked in the field I Ioved, without those three initials. My daughter and her husband and 2 babies took me in and we have helped each other for the last 2 ½ years. I am so grateful for them and what they did to bring our family together. Truly one of the better outcomes of this recession has been the return of the extended family experience.

Grandiose plans to be a famous author and “child expert” six years ago were quickly dashed during the recession after I self-published my first book, The New Physics of Childhood (IUniverse, 2009).  Not only was it rejected by many because I did not have a credential behind my name like, PhD., MSW, EdD., etc. I realized that the tone of it (due to a lifetime of pent-up experiences) was somewhat arrogant and harsh. I began the rewrite immediately, along with edits by several professionals. Then the publishing industry took a dive and so did my income. It was time to set idealistic dreams aside and make way for Plan X.

Foreclosure, bankruptcy and divorce (in that order) were juxtaposed to my extinguished author dreams. I knew that the once well-paid work I had done earlier as a caregiver was a very temporary replacement and sabbatical to my teaching career, yet this job title had lasted for over a decade and seemed it was my only real option for earning income forever, unless I had a Master’s Degree! With a Master’s, I could finally earn the respect of my years, since wrinkles don’t show well on a resume. After researching and allowing the dream to simmer, I knew that a Master’s in Public Health was the only way for me. It would allow me to focus on my passion for Preventive Health Education, while also giving me incredible opportunities to influence public policy and the health of communities. It would also provide me with the potential for a real income and benefits so I can rebuild my life and my nest egg before I allow myself the luxury of retirement in my mid-70’s.

I could have never imagined that when everything was gone, save my beautiful family, that the only option was actually the dream I had so wanted, yet had never uttered or allowed myself to think of. This dream also occupies the same space as my dream to be a well-known and respected author one day. *

For now, the reality is one dream at a time! I prepared for two years by taking brush-up courses and using the time to finally become fluent in Spanish. All of my experiences and preparation in the last two and a half years got me accepted to the 3 programs I applied for! In August, I begin my journey in San Francisco State University’s MPH Program in Community Health Education. Yeah!!!!!!

I am saving money by couch-surfing for a month, while I work in my field of choice, in preparation for grad school. I am not thrilled about taking any student loans out and am hoping my second year in school is funded solely by scholarships and part-time work. I have a lot to accomplish professionally, and am committed to being a full participant in my graduate school experience.

During my undergrad career, I was a single mother raising three daughters. I had no time for friends or campus activities. All I wanted to do was race home to my daughters every day after school. The 3-hour commute to higher education ate up many precious hours with my daughters as it was. Now, I am one mile from campus and by myself to focus on school work, etc. Maybe I will even make some friends, something that hasn’t really been a part of my life with every second going to family. Though I am realistic enough to know that I won’t really have time to do much of this or to sit around and play cards while I am in grad school. However, I am already looking forward to visits “back home” to indulge my inner card playing junkie.

Yes, this day, this life, this new chapter is the perfect description of a bitter-sweet moment. I will miss my family in Roseville, but I will actually have more time with my youngest daughter and other grandson, now that I am closer to them.

Beyond the tears and tugging of little heart strings, life is good! I even received a $1,000 scholarship by a wonderful organization that felt compelled by my personal journey. Perhaps there are more angels like this in my future. I sure hope so, because as this Grandma heads off to college, I need all of the angels I can get, yet nothing will take the place of the beautiful family I have waiting for me when I return home after I receive my Master’s in Public Health! It will be the 1st. Master’s Degree in our family, just as my AA & BA were when I received them, years ago. I hope one day I can be an inspiration for my grandchildren so they know that it is never an option to give-up or give-in and that it is never too late for your dreams to come true!

*CONFESSION   – In the middle of preparing to leave for grad school, the writer in me just had to get that one last lick in! I formatted the 30+ years of my children’s stories and printed them out for my grandchildren to read in my absence. More on this project in future posts.

Hasta Luego!  Got places to go, things to do, people to see!

Christina Ivazes

aka Granny Pants

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Filed under Banks, Barack Obama, children, community, Education, Elders, foreclosure, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Granny Pants, health care, jobs, mother, Parenting, prevention, teaching, The New Physics of Childhood, Writing

Want to become an Instant Chef? Just Add Booze!

For decades, my daughters, friends and family members have been asking me to write down my recipes. I just can’t do it; at least not yet. This is because I don’t measure, I splash. In Julia Child fashion, I add a little brandy here or a little white wine there and voila’, instant savory dishes!

Instead of a cookbook and the labor involved, I have been assessing the simple techniques I use to make quick and easy entrees with whatever libations happen to be on hand. What follows are some of my standard recipes. Hopefully, you will get the idea by the end that this is not brain surgery; it is amazingly easy and the meals taste amazingly delicious! Feel free to add your booze laden recipes in the comment section too!

SOME BASIC RULES FOR BEST RESULTS

* Whether it be fresh fish, chicken, tofu, beef, turkey or pork (not prawns because this process will just make them tough), the key to flavoring the meat, fish or tofu is to first braise it, brown it in a little oil (oil type depends on primary flavor of the meal) in a pan on a high heat. The crisper the outside before cookinG on the inside and the drier the pan, the faster the meat will absorb the flavors of the alchohol and other flavorings.

* Have other meal sides, table set and all other ingredients cut and ready to go and set aside beforehand and make sure there is a cover for the pan handy (or cover/tinfoil if this is an oven cooked meal).

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1. SALSA CHICKEN-Beer & Salsa

Mix equal parts of red salsa of any type, beer and 2 fresh garlic cloves. (about 2/3 cup salsa & 1/2 beer)

*Optional-Monterey jack cheese or other mild white cheese, grated.

If you have time, marinate chicken pieces in salsa/beer mixture; if not, no worries.

Brown chicken pieces in a pan with just enough hot vegetable oil to keep from burning.

When chicken pieces are brown on both sides and pan is hot, pour salsa/beer mixture over, turn to low, cover pan and let chicken absorb flavors and cook for about 15-20 minutes (depending on whether it is boned or not).

Just before serving, sprinkle jack cheese on top of all, cover and let melt.

Serve over a bed of cooked brown rice. If there is too much liquid, you can turn up the heat for the last few minutes before you add the cheese, take off cover and cook over some liquid.

Yummm!!!! This is a recipe I have used over and over and over and everyone loves it!

You can substitute salmon and white wine or just use beer for a slightly different, yet equally tasty and very fast meal! (I always make sure I have some type of salsa around either fresh or canned, and of course beer, so you always have this meal available.)

2. ROAST TURKEY or CHICKEN (whole, leg, or breast)- Brandy & Apple Juice ej

In a hot oven (450 degrees), brown turkey, uncovered with nothing else in baking pan. When skin is darkly browned, pour a mixture of 1/2 brandy & half apple juice over browned meat and instantly cover pan & meat with cover or tinfoil so no steam can escape.

Adjust temperature to about 350 degrees and cook for about 1 hour until meat is tender ( or longer if it is a whole turkey).

*You can also add onions and potatoes to pan when meat is browning initially so they also get brown before the liquid is added.

This is a very easy and so tasty meal and you don’t need to wait for Thanksgiving to eat it.

3. MUSHROOM CHICKEN-Beer or white wine & mushroom soup

This can be done with chicken or meatballs, canned mushroom or chicken or celery soup and a handful of fresh thyme or oregano (though dried can work too.) * I often use a few fresh ingredients and booze to a canned flavoring to make it taste homemade. A few fresh herbs and some fresh garlic will also help create a ‘fresh’ flavor.

Brown the meat in the hot pan with a tad of vegetable oil. When meat is browned, turn heat down to simmer and add the 1 can of mushroom soup, water down with beer or wine. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of fresh or dry chopped thyme or oregano and a few chopped garlic cloves if you want.

Stir gravy mixture in pan and scoop over meat. Cover and simmer until meat is tender. Add more beer or wine if it is too thick. Serve over a bed of brown rice or pasta.

4. SPAGHETTI SAUCE-Fresh, jarred, or canned spaghetti sauce & red wine

Add red wine, and if you can, a few fresh garlic cloves and some fresh herbs to bottled or canned sauce. It will make the difference between a processed or homemade flavor.

5. CHILI- Chili Beans & Beer (Dark, Microbrewery Beer is best!) nmn

Add beer to chili recipe and some honey if you want.

6. SPECTACULAR SOUPS- Just add booze!

For minestrone, add red wine; add white for lighter soups.

7. SUPERB, SODIUM FREE BALSAMIC GRAVY-Red Wine, Balsamic Vinegar, Maple Syrup

Braise whatever meat or tofu in a pan until cooked inside with a bit of oil, sprinkle with pepper. Add about 1/4 c. of red wine, 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 2 tsp. maple syrup. Cover and let simmer for just a few minutes. Serve over rice or pasta or potatoes.

6. SAVORY TOFU- White wine, soy sauce

Brown small squared pieces of tofu in a pan with hot oil (sesame oil if you want an asian flavored meal), when all sides are browned, turn down heat, but before pan is cooled down, sprinkle a few cloves of chopped garlic, and douse tofu pieces with soy sauce and cover pan so tofu soaks up soy sauce. (Take care not to let pan get dry.) Add white wine as needed, but don’t let it get too watery. Add fresh vegetables to the pan, mushrooms, onions, etc. using soy sauce and white wine as needed.

7. FRENCH TOAST, CREPES, PANCAKES, WAFFLES WITH FRIED BANANAS-Firm Bananas, Brandy, Butter, Walnuts, Whipped Cream (vanilla).

Okay, this is not a dinner entree, but it can be a dessert or special Sunday Brunch and is just as quick and super scrumptious!

Make french toast or pancakes and keep warm. In a separate pan, 1 tbsp. butter. When pan is hot and butter starts to brown, add sliced bananas on high heat to brown quickly so they don’t get mushy. When browned, add chopped walnuts, and a bit of vanilla. Then add a big splash of brandy (watch for fire) and shake pan (cover for a moment). Pour over french toast and top with whipped cream. This all takes about 2 minutes so make sure everything else is already done!

*You could also use mangoes in season, peaches, apricots or other fruit instead of bananas.

Bon appetit! I will share the other recipes. I hope you enjoy this and remember that

oldAny booze you have lying around is best suited for creating that fabulous meal while gaining rave reviews and clean plates from those you feed! 

*** As long as you cook the alcohol 2-3 minutes, the alcohol burns off, leaving only the flavor.

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If Bush Tax Cuts are so great, Where Are All of the Jobs They Are Supposed to Create?

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THE LEGACY CONTINUES

The short term memory of the American public often needs a jolt of history and there has  never been a more important moment than now to exterminate our amnesia. I would like to offer a view of the situation as I saw it evolving during the last administration.  People on Main Street were suffering from the toxic effects of the Bush administration’s economic policies much earlier than their radioactivity hit Wall Street and other investors.

For people on Main Street it went something like the chronological list below combined with imagined (though probably not too far from the truth) conversations among President Bush’s string pullers and other Republican power players:

• 1999-2000 The economy continues to soften after the dot-com bust.  
• Wages flatten
• September 11, 2001
• Voila’ a distraction from our economic woes
• A great way to capitalize on this American rally & create more profit for our wealthy base is to ramp up the war machine
• Anyone who opposes war becomes unpatriotic
• Go to war & keep the American public in a state of fear
• Don’t let the public see the real cost of the war by creating tax cuts for everyone
• Make sure the public believes that the tax cuts for the wealthy will stimulate jobs
• When this doesn’t work, hide the fact by lowering interest rates
• Promote “It’s patriotic to shop.”
• As Americans get a little more money in their hands & a lot more credit available to borrow, everyone experiences the illusion of wealth.
• Even the poorest Americans are swept up in the moment with credit they never had before!
• Poor people in America have big, shiny trucks, SUV’s & Hummers & own homes for the first time. Magically, many first time homebuyers even qualify for homes big enough for 3 families, complete with 3 car garages.
• Regulators turn a blind eye so a building boom can further disguise the true cost of the war and real weakness of our economy, just until the elite & savvy base can quadruple their wealth.
• All that matters is whether housing starts & the DOW are up; just hide the rest.
• Tax breaks for the rich are tasty as regulators sleep. The real clever rich hide more money in Swiss banks so they don’t have to pay taxes at all. This party looks like it will never end.
• Deficit grows further (but the true cost of the war still is not disclosed in the Bush budget; private contractors create an unknown factor that works to the advantage of the Bush policies).
• Let’s distract further and go after Saddam Hussein; we can buy a few more years from this one and no one will notice whether or not we find Osama Bin Laden if we catch Saddam Hussein.
• People protest
• Interest rates drop further.
• Let now become the best time to buy a house.
• It’s the best time to buy a big, new car.
“An Inconvenient Truth” is released.
• Consumerism starts to wane as conservation efforts multiply.
• Economic woes continue as the bubble starts to burst & consumers realize that too much debt & waste is not the key to happiness.
• Bush administration ignores the economic warnings, just until they get enough of that wealth stashed away.
• Election of 2008 takes place.
• Let the Democrats deal with this & let’s make sure they fall flat on their faces by depending on the American short-term memory.
• Obama reveals the true cost of war.
• Obama continues to shed light on the true American problems, removing the veil of illusion. (Of course, Obama cannot help but have some of the problem makers work with him to untangle the mess they made.)
.• Republicans find the best strategy to channel the anger at the true devastation to the American economy is to again, use distraction by igniting the witch hunt against Obama.
• Let’s make Obama the problem; let’s hide what really went on by allowing the Tea Party voices to drown out the truth once again. Fox News will help, which they do!
• Damn- we’re good!
• The perfect storm for the 2010 election now that the Democrats have been successfully characterized as the problem.
• And on and on and on………

So, my question is:

IF THE BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY ARE SO GREAT, WHERE ARE ALL OF THOSE JOBS THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO CREATE ?

They never were meant to create jobs as much as they were meant to extend the free ride for those at the top in an act of  The Base self-preservation, protecting  investments with no strings attached. These tax cuts encouraged investors to seek haven outside the U.S. and outsource to increase profits.  Instead of job creation, tax cuts for the rich that are still in effect today continue the lifestyles of these rich and famous, like personal luxuries shown on the Today Show recently where $75,000 a pop did not seem to make these tax cut beneficiaries think much about job creation: “Gone in 180 Seconds” is how Neiman-Marcus  the run on 100 specially outfitted 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertibles from the luxury department store’s annual Christmas catalog.

So, for anyone on the fence about a candidate and all others, including  Tea Party candidates and Republicans who think that trickle down really works, think again! These policies have not worked. If they have, WHERE ARE ALL OF THOSE JOBS?  Perhaps the Fair Tax is what we need!

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