More vs Less

Since Ray was employed by the airlines, we traveled a lot. We took advantage of the flying privileges. So we had at least three major trips a year. Back in the 80’s we visited Sweden. No computers back then, so I actually used travel guides and magazines to book hotels, apartments, etc. In my reading I came across a retired guidance counselor from NJ who arranged for Americans to hook up with like-minded people in Sweden. Just my thing! I love meeting new people, conversing about their culture, social issues, lifestyle, etc.

I had booked a hotel in Stockholm and prior to our trip the arrangements had been put in place for us to meet with a couple on our second day there and we were invited to their home for dinner. Wilhelm worked for SAS Airlines and Ingrid worked as a journalist. Ray worked for the airlines and I was an aspiring writer and RN. (I had indicated either nursing/medical or writing for my career/interests) It was a perfect match! They picked us up at our hotel on Sunday afternoon. We felt like we’d known them forever. They were warm, friendly and very informative about their country. They drove us around first to various “must see” sights/places that normal tourists don’t experience. Then we went to their home for a lovely traditional Swedish dinner. And we got to meet their teenage children, Per and Anna. 

Over the course of the evening, we learned about them and Sweden. The topics that made the most impact on me was the national healthcare in their country and their social programs.  I constantly heard whining and complaining in my own country about taxes. Not so in Sweden! Quite the opposite! At that time, 52% of their salary went to taxes. Yes! FIFTY-TWO percent! And not only did they not resent this………..they welcomed it. And when we found out why, I completely agreed with them.

They are covered cradle to grave. For healthcare. For social programs. For education. And probably even more that I can’t now remember. They were mystified by us Americans. WHY, they asked, would we want to pay the high prices that we paid (and that was about 30 yr. ago) for daycare for our children, education for ourselves and then our children, hospitals, doctor visits, testing, etc. I had NO answer for them. Because I have always felt if high taxes covered all that Sweden provided for its citizens………not only provided, BUT proved it works……then I absolutely would have no qualms on high taxes. 

Over the years we’ve made many wonderful friendships with people in France, England, Canada and Denmark. And it’s always the same……..yes, they pay much higher taxes than we do, but they have a sense of security that most (unless you’re independently wealthy) of us do not have in this country. They do not have to worry about losing their home or going bankrupt because of unfair and exorbitant drug costs, medical costs, education costs, etc. They can focus on LIFE.  On enjoying life. On savoring the days, their friends, their family, their SIX weeks vacation each year! 

And so…..at age 70………I have to agree with Europe about paying more taxes.  For an average, middle class family? I can’t say this country has done you any favors with less taxes . Just my opinion.

See you here next time………….

 

 

 

70 plus 9 days ~

Thank you so much for your birthday wishes. My birthday week and visit with my daughter was wonderful. And for those of you coming up behind me……turning 70 was quite painless!

On the evening of my birthday we had dinner at The Garlic, in New Smyrna Beach. One of my favorite restaurants. And the dirty martini’s are superb!

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Susan and I had a fun week. We went to St. Augustine one day. Walked around, browsed the shops and had lunch there. Weather couldn’t have been more ideal!

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Another day we spent on the beach here in Ormond Beach. Again….weather was just perfect!

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And on her final night here we went to the local Greek restaurant for dinner.

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And Susan flew back to Boston wearing the beautiful knitted poncho that my mom made for me over 40 years ago. Obviously, I haven’t worn it much over the 30 years I’ve been in Florida. So it was time to pass it on as a family heirloom. I have no doubt Susan will enjoy her grandmother’s treasure on those chilly New England days.

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It was a fun and enjoyable birthday week. Susan and I had some quality mother/daughter time with lots of laughing and making new memories. Oh, but………I’m not finished celebrating yet! Nope! I have a trip planned for May with my BFF, Alice. Details on this will follow.

See you here next time…………….

Baby Boomer Turns 70 ~

Wow! The big 7-0 today! I don’t feel any different. 

Ten years ago I was in Paris celebrating my 6-0…..I blinked and here I am, ten years later. 

But it was a good ten years, for the most part. I have lots of thoughts and reflections, which I plan to share over time. 

But today, we’re headed to the airport. My daughter is flying down for the week to celebrate my birthday with me.  So I’ll be off the radar till next weekend. 

See you here next time ……….

Busy ~

Whew! Yes, I’ve had a very busy week! After the candlelight vigil last Saturday, my week was consumed with one event after another.  Tuesday was International Women’s Day. Various groups, etc. around the world chose different ways to celebrate/protest. A large group of us locally got together on Tuesday at Sweet Marlay’s Coffee Shop in Daytona Beach. It’s a woman owned business, so we were supporting her and doing some activist work at the same time.  A few women spoke and then all of us did postcards to our Rep and Senators to vote NO on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. After we got those done, all of us marched down the street to the Post Office to get them mailed. Oh, and OF course, we ALL wore red!

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We have nine, yes nine, Indivisible groups in my area. One of which, Ormond Beach Action Group, met this past Thursday. We discussed policy issues, upcoming events, etc. and we always make a donation to Planned Parenthood. 

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And….just in case I wasn’t busy enough, I have co-founded a healthcare group with another activist. A fellow I met at a previous event. We are both on the same page as to what we want to accomplish. We’ve formed our group with the Indivisible guidelines, but our focus is on health care. ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, mental health and prescription drug prices. We have accomplished a LOT just since Thursday! We have a page set up on Facebook for our group……6th District Healthcare Action Group. Our first meeting is scheduled for March 30 and we have lots of plans in the works for upcoming events, etc. So I’m pleased with what we’re accomplishing.

And then yesterday I attended my first town hall meeting with our Rep, Ron DeSantis.  Perhaps you’ve seen him on CNN? Yeah, he’s the ONE who told Erin Burnette that if people don’t have healthcare, well, “they can just go to the ER.” Ahhh, no, they CANNOT! How could a cancer patient go there for chemo or radiation or any treatment? Obviously, he’s a Republican, and after the fiasco I attended yesterday, I left with my biggest goal being we MUST unseat him in 2018!

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It was my first town hall and will probably be my last. I didn’t feel unsafe, although I DID stay aware. But there were cops, a lot, both outside and inside and there was even a rescue unit outside. However, it was not monitored as far as questions. My groups came with some excellent questions. There were no mics for those asking questions. So it resulted in a lot of booing if the trumpsters didn’t like the topic of what was being asked, with a lot of yelling and screaming.  As I said, it was a fiasco. And as far as DeSantis answering said questions…..he skirted the issues, avoided an acceptable answer, etc. When a woman asked if he thought a special prosecutor should be appointed in relation to Russia, etc. the trumpster crowd loudly booed, followed by DeSantis giving a VERY emphatic NO! THAT was when I walked out. I have no tolerance for such a waste of time. I will take my time and energy and put them toward other worthy endeavors……protests, marching, phone calls to Rep and Senators, etc.

So that was my week……..and today and tomorrow are my chill out days. Staying balanced is everything!

See you here next time…………….

Free Speech ~

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Saturday evening I attended a candlelight vigil for free speech with my friend, Sherry. This was organized by our local Indivisible groups. It was peaceful, silent and we had about 250 attending. We all dressed in black, placed masking tape over our mouths and carried candles.

Free speech is the very core of our democracy. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of press and freedom of assembly.  I value these freedoms. But I’ll also admit, over my lifetime I’ve pretty much taken them for granted. This IS America, after all! I mean, really, how could we possibly lose these freedoms? Hopefully, we never will. But yes, as I’m about to turn age 70, I understand more and more to never take anything for granted! Because NOTHING is free. 

All of our freedoms have come at a cost. The loss of lives of our military.  The loss of lives during protests for voting rights. And the loss of lives of journalists.

So for those of us who have these freedoms, we must pay attention. We must be aware. And we absolutely must speak up and speak out whenever we can, in whichever way we can.  Because it IS our right.

See you here next time……

Happy March!

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It’s hard to believe it’s March already! Yes, I love the month of March. Probably because it is my birthday month. But when I lived in the Boston area, I knew spring wasn’t too far away. Flowers were beginning to bloom, the days were getting a little warmer, the birds were louder and I’ve just always loved this month. Even in Florida. 

We’ll be changing the clocks soon and I like that. I’m noticing the mornings are light earlier and also it’s staying light later in the evening. There isn’t much of a change in climate here but we do have spring flowers and bushes blooming.

Well, it’s been quite the week news wise. Things are breaking fast and furious and it’s all a good thing! Our very democracy is at stake and we must get to the bottom of it. Russia had NO business in our politics or the running of our country. Period. What I’m totally confused about is how even some Republicans can argue with this! So it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Free speech has been in the news also. And if you know me, then you know how I feel about our right to free speech! Without this, we are not a democracy. So I’ll be protesting this coming Saturday with my Indivisible group for a candlelight vigil to mourn the possible/potential loss of free speech. Details and photos will follow here.

In the meantime, enjoy these beautiful days of March. Hopefully, you’re enjoying a good novel or knitting project. I’m reading Paris Time Capsule and I’ll do a book review here when I’m finished.

See you here next time………………