Posts Tagged With: hunger


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Continuing the saga of my homeless brother Norman, here he is with his little dog and his bike. He lost the dog the last time he was arrested.  He had taken over a condemned house. With a house address, he was able to get a bank account and begin collecting his social security which amounted to about $1,200 a month. He dug a new sewer line, fixed leaks on the roof, put in new flooring, a toilet and new plumbing. Over time,  he put in a washer and dryer and television set. He made friends with the neighbors.  He lived in this place for three years and invited a couple other homeless guys to live there too.  Then, he decided to plant a garden with veggies and marijuana. A neighbor reported on him and the police came to “his house”, knocked on the door, arrested him for growing marijuana. (The other two guys vacated the minute the cops came to the door.)The cops would not let him secure the house nor make arrangements for his dog.  Directly to jail.

In court, Norman could make a deal with the D.A. but he refuses. “If you do, they own you. They can just pick you up at any time and slap you back in jail for looking cross-eyed at someone.  Probation for me is useless. I can’t get anywhere on time. I don’t have a watch or a calendar. I often don’t know the time of day or what day it is.”

While in jail, another brother picked up his mail and deposited his checks and paid for his storage building.  Without family help, he would have had to reapply for Social Security all over again, and wait for it to clear, from 6 weeks to  3 months.  When Norman returned to “his house”, the place had been stripped of everything he owned. His dog, gone.

He made his way back to a homeless camping area under the freeway in San Leandro. Someone told him  about a mobile home park in Hayward with vacancies.  It was a run-down place. He walked up to apply. The woman took one look at him and turned the sign around and said she had no vacancies. He was scruffy and dirty again, by this time.

Norman is personable. People like him.  He makes it a point to befriend the storekeepers he must depend on so they know he doesn’t steal. He manages to fend off depression through his Bible and his faith.

Desperation is the most common ailment of the homeless. It sucks away any sense of well-being, hope or strength. It is naive to think that homeless people, single men especially, who can’t afford housing and basic necessities, should somehow be kind and sweet. Homeless people can be scary, full of tattoos, drunk and offensive, druggies, often panhandling aggressively. They don’t want to be dirty and stinky and loathed by all who see them. So called normal people with homes and traditional lives suffer from depression, drink too much, beat their wives, and kick the dog.  They can live their messy lives behind a locked door. But the homeless are treated like trash and we expect them not to be depressed, hungry, angry, criminal and ill?

It kind of reminds me of the old debtors prisons. You go prison for stealing a loaf of bread because you are hungry. You can’t get out until someone pays your way out, but you have no money to make that happen. Are we that medieval?  The way some cities treat the homeless, the answer is yes.

Everything has changed again for Norman. He is in a burnt out house that he is slowly fixing for the owner using his carpentry skills. He is not paid. With housing, he is stable, relatively sober and upbeat. The owner buys materials and arrives with his tools, one or two days a month. The owner takes the tools with him so no one can steal them while he is gone. (Not exactly the best neighborhood.)

At this new place, he has something to love-a stray cat;  He has a place safe from young street punks who steal his bike and shove him around, just because they can. Here guys on the street have offered him friendship and marijuana. He doesn’t trust them and so far has refused any involvement with them. It is easier to do when you have a locked door.

The owner, (to remain unnamed), is a guy Norman built a house for about 10 years ago when he was homeless but still working for food and booze.  It was before he had his stroke and before he could collect his social security. This man allows Norman to use his address for his mail when he is living on the street.

Norman has a throw away phone for which he buys minutes so he can communicate with me. He has a know it all attitude about some subjects and can be irritating at times.  I listen as patiently as I can.

Currently, his Social Security has been  reduced to $780 a month.  Social Security is on auto deposit now, and they promptly deducted Obama Care from his check.  He has no way to get to a hospital, or establish a relationship with a doctor. He recently had a toothache and was in considerable pain. But, he couldn’t get to a dentist either. His income and ability to find a place to live is further from reach then ever, when this house is finished.

His bills are few without rent. He has to pay his storage fee. When on the street he has electricity in his unit and he can cook in a crock pot and sit in a chair and write his letters. He has a place to keep his papers safe and dry.  But, no shower, nor place to sleep.  Still, it is a refuge of sorts that the manager of the storage building allows because he likes Norman.

Meanwhile, in this house, he can shower and keep himself clean.  He is stable and has a sense of purpose. He writes letters to public figures like Elizabeth Warren, President Obama, Governor Christie. He writes long letters to major newspapers and sends me copies of them.  He is a bit mentally impaired in that he thinks he is part of the political scene and is influencing others for a better America with his letters.

I feel he needs to know that he has some self-worth; that his opinion is worth something to someone. That someone cares about whether he lives or dies.  Isn’t that what we all need?  A sense of self-worth with some dignity?

In one of his letters to the editor, he wrote:  “A fox has his den, a bird has her nest, but the son of man has no place to lay his head.”

So, what is the answer? More tomorrow.


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Today is play day. Jim and I are taking a day off to take pictures of an “endangered species”, old barns and miner’s cabins. I mistakenly thought yesterday was Saturday. We both worked in the motor home kitchen. yesterday. Thinned canned goods, tossed stuff we don’t use, etc.. I did the wash and worked on mending a rug and some paperwork and pictures, etc. Jim received an email from our friend Al Penta with a list of charities  that you DON’T want to support. This is the biggest “giving” season of the year. Be wary.

How many ways can you spell G R E E D?
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT BEFORE YOU MAKE CONTRIBUTIONS: As you open your pockets to do a good thing and make yourself feel good, please keep the following facts in mind:

The American Red CrossPresident and CEO Marsha J. Evans’

salary for the year was $651,957 plus expenses

MARCH OF DIMESIt is called the March of Dimes because

only a dime for every 1 dollar is given to the needy.

The United WayPresident Brian Gallagher

receives a $375,000 base salary along with numerous expense benefits.

UNICEFCEO Caryl M. Stern receives

$1,200,000 per year (100k per month) plus all expenses including a ROLLS ROYCE.

Less than 5 cents of your donated dollar goes to the cause.

GOODWILLCEO and owner Mark Curran profits $2.3 million a year. Goodwill is a very catchy name for his business.

You donate to his business and then he sells the items for PROFIT. He pays nothing for his products and pays his workers minimum wage! Nice Guy. $0.00 goes to help anyone! Stop giving to this man.

Instead, give it to ANY OF THE FOLLOWING


The Salvation ArmyCommissioner, Todd Bassett receives a small salary of only

$13,000 per year(plus housing) for managing this $2 billion dollar organization.

96 percent of donated dollars go to the cause.

The American LegionNational Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

The Veterans of Foreign WarsNational Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.

Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

The Disabled American VeteransNational Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

The Military Order of PurpleHeartsNational Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

The Vietnam Veterans AssociationNational Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.

Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

Make a Wish: For children’s last wishes.

100% goes to funding trips or special wishes for a dying child.

St. Jude Research Hospital

100% goes towards funding and helping Children with Cancer who have no insurance and cannot afford to pay.

Ronald McDonald Houses

All monies go to running the houses for parents who have critically ill Children in the hospital.

100% goes to housing, and feeding the families.

Lions Club International



Please share this with everyone you can.

I would like to add some information to the above. During our recent rim fire, the Red Cross performed poorly according to volunteers who worked the fire. They brought inadequate and moldy supplies, treated volunteers as though they were stupid and gave conflicting orders to volunteers who were on the scene working two days before the Red Cross even arrived. Most of the supplies came from local businesses. The Red Cross did very little. (Not every member was callous and arrogant.) I’m also reminded when we burned out, the Red Cross refused my dad a loan, not a handout, a loan.

Locally, our food bank is in desperate need of food this year in both Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties. They don’t have enough to give turkeys to needy families this year.

For international and local charities, Oxfam is one of the best. International Heifer, is another. (I hope I have that name right.) It is about supplying money to buy goats, chickens, a calf, etc. to enable people to help themselves, rather than handing them money or rice or wheat.

Finca makes small loans to people to allow them to start small businesses to become self-sufficient.

Covenant House provides food, clothing and housing for people in need. Not as big a  problem where the weather isn’t brutal.

Solar Cooking International supplies solar devices for cooking and pasteurizing water in countries with plenty of sun and not much money for fuel.

Our local Elks Club supports abused children.

Hope you’ll dig deep this year since childhood hunger in the United States is getting more serious with cuts to food stamps. Don’t wait for the holidays to open your wallet. Americans, by the way,  are the most giving, charitable people on earth.


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I’m a bit behind in the pet food arena since I haven’t owned a cat or dog in about ten years.  My upstairs neighbor was sick and she was out of cat food and asked me to pick her up a box of Indoor Cat Food. Indoor Cat Food?  I’d never heard of Indoor Cat Food. “My cat doesn’t like any of those stinky, fishy, beef, or strong chicken cat foods,” she explained.

Huh? I always thought meat and fish were what all pets liked the most. All of this explanation comes as I’m remembering an article I read some years ago by Robert Wieder, who decided to taste all the popular cat and dog foods to see what tasted the best. His point, at the time, was that seniors and some families were subsisting on Dog Food.

Hmm!  I’ve never been brave enough to try it but I had a friend who was mad enough at her husband for coming home drunk she fed him a can of dog food and told him it was hash. He ate it without complaint.

And, while I know people who feed their pets human food, scraps, and treats under the table along with their kibble, I probably know an equal number who don’t feed their pets human food.

But if you read the labels, its all human food. We’ve been sharing the same food for a long time, corn, wheat, fish, poultry and meat of one sort or another.

So, if dog food stocks went up during the latest depression, as Weider says, you might as well know which is best according to Weider,  a pet food gourmand:

ALPO- …taste is something on the order of coyote a__holes. The farts can clear four rows in a stadium.

Milk-Bone-Tasty nuggets just like doggie Beer Nuts. Magnificent snack with a couple tequilla sunrises.

Gaines Burgers-We would rate this somewhere between wood shavings and peat moss. Dog shit is more like it.

Chuck Wagon-Their commercials are nauseating but you get more nutrition than a Big Mac. Splendid with chopped onions.

Ken-L Ration. They ate better at Buchenwald. We wouldn’t feed this to a dung beetle.

Little Friskies- Unpresumptiuous, a favorite with teens and tykes. But it sets your sphincter free.

Dr. Ross- Checkers ate this crap. It showed.

Recipe- A celebrity item with Lassie on the label. Judging by the texture maybe inside as well. The raw egg makes it a passable but high priced breakfast item.

Purina Dog Meal- Four stars, especially the High Protein variety. You’d be hard pressed to eat this well at twice the price. We recommend eating with beef bouillion or cream of mushroom soup, bleu cheese salad dressing. If you are eating hamburger instead of this, your dog should be doing the shopping.

Friskies Sauce Cubes- Not bad if you serve in tacos, on pizzas or hidden in a casserole. Kind of harsh and pukey by itself.

Gaines Biscuits- Zesty, tasty, nourishing, but certain enzynes create a problem in the human biocheistry that, uh, well…listen, how do you look in a flea collar?

Purina Dog Chow- Not like mother used to make but one of our staffers is a big booster despite a recurrent compulsion to mount a Doberman once a month and some other petty side effects.

Well, you are now in the know about pet foods and know what to pick in a pinch. I think I’d go for the Friskies Cubes and maybe I’m gonna try the Indoor Cat Food with a touch of greens.

Thank you Mr. Weider.

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We celebrated my son, Ken’s birthday last night with his favorite cake, home made German Chocolate, and his favorite dinner, home made burritos.
Family traditions differ, for sure, but it was fun to go back in time and fix his favorite dinner. That is, I made the burritos and his wife made the cake; with five candles and the big O.

Funny how a fancy dinner doesn’t appeal, but the old, down home, staple foods are what we enjoy the most. Meaty burritos and refried beans.

Daughter Kristanne always chose for her birthday, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and cheesecake.
Ken received a couple really funny cards,  this one from “the dog”

A half century. We talked about age and Ken made an interesting comment; “I’ve never known hunger.” You can be over the hill but if you have never been hungry you are on top of the hill. We are lucky as well as happy to celebrate. Happy Birthdays.

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A bounty of Christmas catalogs wend their way to my mailbox. Retailers are hoping to have a better Christmas season this year than last. And, there are signs all around that the economy is picking up. I always loved the Christmas season, except for the shopping. Shopping for my kids was fine, but for siblings and various friends or special aunts and uncles, it became a chore. Its the type of gift that is hard to choose, something you can afford but still likely to please. A hassle, to put it mildly, especially when funds were short. When my kids were college age, they couldn’t afford buying for each other and we decided collectively to stop giving gifts. Instead we donated a set amount to charity. It turned into a form of freedom that we enjoyed so much, we’ve continued the process to this day, with one exception.  The new younger set, the grandchildren, that still have sugar plums in their heads, are still entitled to gifts. It was kind of fun to reveal to each other what charity we chose and why, no matter how meager the donation.
For several years we read poetry. One year the kids sang the rock song that annoyed me the most when they were growing up and I loved the tease. We know the best part of Christmas is family, sharing food, and each other.Which brings me back to the catalogs.

Our economy may be shaky, but this is still the land of plenty. Two charities stand out in my mind because they do so much for others. One is:
They are on the ground in every country, including America, for every disaster, for every kid who is hungry, finding solutions. And the other is Heifer International.
They make it simple to make a difference. Buy two chickens and supply plenty of eggs and protein for a family. A goat provides milk. A sheep, milk, meat and wool. Help dig a pond for  fishing and a couple of  ducks. Or buy fruit trees, a sack of seed, or life saving mosquito nets.  925 million people are hungry when they go to bed at night.
Heifer International is also partnering  with project POTICO, a NewPage paper manufacturer cooperating to save virgin rainforests.
You can find a very basic, very satisfying way to make a gift that counts.

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I received two inspirational messages, one from a self described #1 fan of mine by the name of Jerry McClellan, and the other from an old friend, retired Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy, Ron Heinsma. And, I continually admire the wit and wisdom of my gypsy friend, Randy Vining.

Methinks people don’t like to be reminded of the homeless among us or those imprisoned. It sets up a bit of guilt we’d just as soon avoid. I should know, I have a homeless brother who is 62 years old. He’s been in and out of jail. He worked as a carpenter all of his life until he had a stroke.

At a doctor’s appointment in Sacramento, Friday, I walked by three homeless guys with their baggage and a shopping cart. They didn’t ask for money, but I avoided eye contact with them just in case they would.  I don’t feel safe, stopping, opening my purse in front of three obviously needy men. But it struck me that among themselves, all caught in similar circumstances, was a small community. They clung together, eating their breakfast of sweet rolls and coffee on the steps of a closed building.

My friend, Randy Vining, engages homeless people on a regular basis in his full time gypsy lifestyle. He states, and I concur, “It is a self-righteous and hateful spitefulness that… denies… minimal comforts to our fellow human beings. Needless suffering is a scandal to all who allow it.”
He makes that claim after speaking to the manager of a Mission in Eugene, Oregon that provides a secure locker, a day room to lounge and watch TV, with free magazines, haircuts, showers, food and a bed. The manager claims it costs a pittance to serve the homeless.

In my view, even if just the locker, showers and haircuts were supplied, it would provide a bit of dignity and hope to those looking to better themselves, or get a job, or a chance to volunteer to help others, or just relief from the downturns of life, whatever the cause.
Our cities and counties have the capacity to organize this community into a contributing group.  Don’t each one of us have an inalienable right to place our weary bones on a section of earth without being chased away, no matter our circumstances?
People given a chance to contribute, can and will.  Please take a couple of minutes to watch the video Ron Heinsma sent me:

Many years back,  someone suggested building rudimentary street shelters and French style street toilets in San Francisco to help out the homeless.The powers that be decided the shelters looked too much like dog houses, “embarrassing”. The French style street toilets, a few anyway, did happen, if you have the change. Not free.

But, consider this bit of the milk of human kindness that operates under the radar, a heartwarming story sent to me by Jerry McClellan:
Certainly if we have the capacity to provide businesses the means to earn billions, we should have the wherewithal to provide dignity to those who can no longer contribute. It is truly a scandal for a country as wealthy as ours to have people, including children, go hungry. And, to disenfranchise so many locked in jail, a wasted potential.

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