Saturday, December 5, 2009

Family and Holidays

For over 40 years my mother has hosted Thanksgiving dinner at her house. My entire family would be invited. My mother is one of six children and I am one of seven. The entire extended family would be invited to the festivities. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends would all gather and share a great meal. Mom would begin her day at 4 a.m. and continue until about 11 p.m. This year she passed the baton to my sister. Did my sister know what she was about to undertake? I spoke to her the day before Thanksgiving to see how things were going. She appeared to be pretty stressed out so I asked her what time the heavy drinking would commence. Just joking with her seemed to relax her.

On Thanksgiving day the horde descended on her home. All told 28 people (adults and many children) assembled for the festivities. The food was excellent. We all sat and ate a traditional meal. Over pie and coffee we reminisced about holidays past. It was a wonderful day. Thanks MB.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fiscal Tsunami

Mike Jarjura recently won re-election as the mayor of Waterbury, CT. During his campaign he promised the citizens of Waterbury that he would not raise taxes in 2010. It appears that he will keep that promise, but look out for 2011.

The local paper today reported that Waterbury faces a rather bleak fiscal future. Budget shortfalls in the amounts of 28 million in 2011, 47.9 million in 2012, and 68.5 million in 2013. The taxpayers could face tax increases in the amounts 6.7 mills, 3.5 mills, and 3.2 mills respectively. An alternative to these tax increases would be to cut spending.

The paper reported that Mayor Jarjura is developing a target list to identify areas to be cut. He will no doubt place organized labor at the top of his list as these groups are his usual scapegoats. The hard working men and women of the City of Waterbury will no doubt have to shoulder the burden of balancing the city's budget.

Mayor Jarjura should target the system of cronyism that exists in the city. Influential individuals who own property should be taxed on the value of that property (Drubner). Those who were hired to oversee economic development should be doing the job they were hired for (Rowland). I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. If we look hard enough we would find other examples of backroom deals occurring. Neither the taxpayers nor the city workers should have to pay the price to solve the problems created by the Jarjura administration.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Dog is an Addict

When I started this page I wanted to talk about my home town, Waterbury. However, I just keep writing about my pets. The things they do is just so funny I have to share it.

Several days ago I noticed the cats (Kiwi and Crystal) needed food. Kiernan was getting a bit low on his supply also. Having the day off I decided to visit my friend who recently opened a pet food store. So Kiernan and I loaded into the truck and off we went.

Arriving at the store we were warmly greeted by my friend Heather. I haven't seen her in several years, although she insists that she saw me at a fire not long ago. We talked while Kiernan enjoyed a treat. What is that I inquired? She answered foie gras for dogs. Seeing my quizzical look she explained that it was duck. Oh. Duck for a dog. Ok.

I explained that I needed food for the dog and the two cats. She recommended a food called Taste of the Wild. She told me that it had no grain and was very nutritious. It was a little bit more expensive than the Purina food that I was feeding him but he apparently wouldn't need to eat as much. She gave me some samples to take home. Some for the dog and some for the cats.

Arriving back at home I fed some to the cats and put the rest into the cabinet. The cats tried some but didn't seem to care for it. Then dinner time came for Kiernan. I took a sample bag from the cabinet and poured it into his bowl. He tried a bit, and then gobbled the rest of the bowl. He then walked over to the cabinet and just stood there staring at it. That's it dog, no more until tomorrow. I took my cup of coffee, went into the living room, and sat down to watch the news. I wondered where the dog was. He was way too quiet which usually indicates that he is getting into some kind of trouble. I return to the kitchen and see him sitting there, staring at the cabinet wagging his tail, as if he could will some of that wonderful food out of it. What is in this food!

I return to the living room I am accosted by the cats. Not liking the food they were hungry and were sure to let me know, jumping on me meowing. The dog came in and decided to join in barking and howling like the hound that he is. This was going to be a long night. They finally tired themselves out and went to sleep. Thank God! I was losing my mind.

The next morning, it starts all over. I try to give Kiernan some of his regular food, but he won't eat it. The cats are still hungry and still meowing. I escape and head to work. At lunch time I pick up a bag of cat chow. At least they will be happy. When I get home I feed the cats. They purr like mad and begin eating. Kiernan lays near his bowl (still full) and stares at the cabinet. I relent taking out another sample bag. I am going to trick him mixing some of his regular food with some of the other stuff. He is too smart for that. He ate the good stuff and left the dog chow in the bowl.

The same scenario played out for several days, until I ran out of the Taste of the Wild. Today I purchased a 30 lb bag of the good stuff for the damn dog. He is quite happy sleeping with a full belly. Now what am I going to eat hot dogs or mac and cheese? There aren't many options until pay day rolls around again. I just hope my dog doesn't need more food.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kiernan takes a walk

It's getting colder. Time to bring the boat to Wolcott for winter storage. My friend Mike's father has some space, so I typically store my boat there for the winter. I hook the boat up and ask Kiernan if he wants to go for a ride in the truck. This is a big deal for a dog I guess, so he starts bounding around. I load him into the truck and off we go.

When we arrive in Wolcott I unhook the boat, and see Kiernan standing next to the truck. How did you get out here I say. He looks at me, thinks its a big game and starts running around. I call him, but being off the leash he feels he doesn't have to listen anymore. Off he goes running towards the woods. Freedom! Into the woods he goes.

My attempts to catch up to him prove fruitless. I quickly lose sight of him. Wandering around, calling his name for about an hour I get a sinking feeling. Mike tells me of a pack of wild dogs that lives in the woods, the stress level isn't getting any better.

I couldn't find him. Mike and his neighbor tell me they will keep an eye out for him, and I head for home. Driving down the road pretty miserable, my cell phone rings. Kiernan (now known as Psycho) has come back, but he won't come to them. I had better get back there pretty quick.

Did you ever notice that when you are in a hurry, everyone drives the speed limit. Don't these people realize I have to go save Psycho! I pull into the dirt road with dust and dirt flying everywhere. Mike and his neighbor tell me Psycho has just run back into the woods. They say he has only cruised back in about two minutes before I arrived.

I call his name. There he is! He sees me and comes running. Food guy is back, thank God! He runs right over to me and jumps on me. Apparently he found the swamp, and is covered with mud. Its ok, I give him a big hug and hook up the leash. He is more than ready to go home. he jumps into the truck and curls up on the seat. Psycho, and now my truck, smell of a swamp.

So now I am waiting for Kiernan (I gave him his old name back) while he gets a bath. Its amazing how attached you get to your pets. I am going to finish my cup of coffee and go pick up Kiernan. When I get back maybe I will throw the ball around the back yard for him. It doesn't matter, Kiernan is safe.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I am not (expletive deleted) crotchety!

Recently I created this blog to blow off steam. People's reactions were varied. Some said they liked what I had to say. Others had very different reactions. One firefighter that I work with said, "I saw your rant. Wow, you are angry. No not angry, crotchety." Crotchety. Me, CROTCHETY!! Now you listen here kid... I am not ***** crotchety. He looked at me as if to say I had just proven his point.

Perhaps my previous post was a bit negative. There are far more good things about Waterbury than bad. I shouldn't let my ranting, as it has been called, make people think that I am really down on my home town. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Perhaps my favorite thing about The Brass City is the many, and varied groups and associations that make up it's population. There are neighborhood groups (both formal and informal). Groups of people that work for a common cause or just get together to socialize. There is not a day that goes by that I don't run into someone from the neighborhood that I grew up in, from the schools that I had attended throughout my life, people that I was in the Boy Scouts with or whom I played little league baseball with.

Church groups, ethnic groups, musicians, artists, and so many more make this vibrant city what it is. Waterbury is where I grew up and where I live now. I am proud to call it home.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Not enough room on facebook to vent.

I decided to start this blog because facebook did not allow me enough space.

Today, while training with the fire department, one of the firefighters commented on how nice one of the homes we were training at probably was several years ago. I agreed with him and really started looking around. There were some beautiful homes in the area that had fallen into a state of disrepair. I remembered visiting some of these homes as a child as some of my relatives had lived in the area. It was heart breaking to see the condition of some of these buildings.

As we drove to our next evolution we passed by the house that belonged many years ago to my fathers Aunt Eileen. I couldn't believe it! It was very well kept! Right next door however, was a vacant house in very bad condition. Why is it that some people take pride in their homes and others do not. You could blame the economy. The economy could possibly be blamed for not undertaking some major repairs. The bad economy doesn't explain refuse of all kind strewn everywhere.

Arriving at home this evening, I looked at the newspaper. On the front page was an article regarding unemployment in Waterbury. The unemployment rate was 10.9%!! The seven town Waterbury area labor market had the worst unemployment rate in the State for the 105th time in the last 106 months.

Is there a connection, other than economic, between unemployment and the deteriorating infrastructure of our city? I believe there is. If we developed a sense of pride and cleaned up our neighborhoods we might attract some new businesses to the area. New businesses mean new jobs. Come on people, lets make the Brass City great again!!