Mar 17, 2008

Ice Fishing Redeemed!

That's the days catch right there down below. Three togue and three salmon. That's what we brought home between the four of us. (But I caught the two larger salmon:)This was my kind of fishing! I am now on a work schedule that is good and bad. The great is that I work three days a week! Wahooo! The not so great it that I work a 10hr day, 14hr day and then 16hr day. So, Friday when I got home at 11:30 I was exhausted! Jason had invited three friends up to spend the night and fish the next day. They woke up at 5am. I yelled, "For the love of God it's too early!" and then rolled back over and slept until 9:30. I had a leisurely breakfast and then headed out at 10:00am with Erika, the other sane person that decided catching fish is not worth getting up at 5am for! When we reached the town of Enfield we telephoned the boys and they headed over to pick us up on the snowmobiles and give us a ride to the spot. Just the way I like it. It was a gorgeous day! So warm and sunny that I didn't even need to be inside the shack. And then ten minutes after I arrived,thanks to my snowmobile chauffeur, a flag went up and I reeled in this shiny little Salmon (pictured below). It was like 18 inches or something. A little later there was another flag and Jason thought I was just stuck on bottom but I told him I knew what I was doing and kept on fighting the fishy and reeled in another Salmon almost identical to the first.We ate some snacks, soaked up the sun, played with the puppy love and then packed up. Brian caught another togue when he was pulling up his trap and that made for a perfect end to day as he had just said, "Man, I really wish I'd get one more flag before we leave." The boys then Gave Erika and I a ride back to the car and we sauntered on home. Now that's my kind of ice fishing!

Mar 10, 2008

Jason's Fishin' Trip

Can you believe that this togue, around 8 pounds, wasn't even in the top three!?

This past Friday, Saturday and Sunday Jason went on his annual guys fishing weekend. This was more than just recreational fun, it was also business. It was a state wide fishing derby. You buy a ticket and then you get to enter fish. Only certain kinds of fish count...pickerel, muskie, pike, togue. For each of those four fish categories 1st place gets $1000 bucks, 2nd gets $500 and 3rd gets $250. There are also additional drawings for a four wheeler and other goodies.

Jason and his two friends caught lots of big fish. Unfortunately Jason's biggest, a 10 pounder, was a cusk...not one of the four fish that count :( . But his friend took third place in the togue category. To see a whole pictures synopsis of his trip, click here. If you wonder why all the pictures have the background whited out it's because there are actually people that will figure out where they fished based on the background, and then go plop and ice shack there or over fish it. This is top secret stuff people. You never knew fishing could be such serious business did you?!

More Budget Cut Consequences

Yesterday's post was quite impassioned I know, but I'm fired up about this folks. I encouraged you to hop on over to my friend Esther's blog to learn more about the perils of these cuts, specifically concerning foster care, and keep yourself informed!

Mar 9, 2008

Baldacci Budget Cuts Ruining Lives

This cartoon makes light of an all too well known reality but it's not funny. It's a travesty and people need to wake up to what it going on. I certainly got a wake up call when I went into work on Friday.

I hear about all these budget cuts Governor John Baldacci is laying down, I knew it was going to affect social services, but I didn't know exactly how.

This past Monday morning 20 people in children's services arrived at work and were told they no longer have jobs. One woman who worked there for five years lost her job while another person who had the same job and had been there only 5 months did not get let go.

An unknown number of other people also were let go. One man who was a head supervisor in the adult housing program, who has worked there for 27 years and was three years away from retirement also arrived on Monday to find he no longer had a job.

Another man who has worked at the agency for 12 years and has worked his way up to a higher level position managing caseworkers was also without a job Monday morning. What is he supposed to tell his stay at home wife and three children who rely solely on him for income and health insurance? There is no where else that he can go and start out making as much as he was after 12 dedicated years. What are they going to do?

A job training program where people learned and practiced the skills they need to go out and gain employment in the workforce...Gone. Done. Cut.

So what's going on you ask? What's the bottom line? The bottom line is money. With the budget cuts that came down from Baldacci, CHCS had to cut 600,000 dollars from somewhere before the beginning of the next fiscal year or the entire agency would have to close it's doors. That's how bad it is folks. It was a decision between a comparative handful losing their jobs or thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people losing the services that they need in their lives.

So they cut the biggest dollar amounts higher up. It's easier to cut one manager who makes the biggest salary and just add to the workload of another manager who doesn't make quite as much than it is to cut a number of lower paid front line workers who work directly with the clients meeting their critical needs on a day to day basis. That's the only reason why I still have a job folks.

CHCS is one of the biggest social service agencies in the area. We are in four different counties and have been running since 1883. We do so much more than most people know. There is foster care, children's services, children's residential programs and crisis prevention and intervention. There is adult mental health, substance abuse programs, psychiatry and counseling, job teaching and rehabilitation, residential homes and transitional home for adults, case management, adult crisis prevention and intervention. There are also services for cardiac rehabilitation, and the deaf and hearing impaired and so, so, so much more.

All of these services were in danger of shutting down at the beginning of the fiscal year if 600,000 dollars wasn't cut from somewhere. All of these services would have been gone, all of these people out of jobs, all of these clients out of services and people literally tossed out on the street. So some were sacrificed to save the many. But that doesn't solve it. That doesn't mean everything is fine now. More cuts are to come and grant money is being pulled left and right because it's no longer there. And that doesn't make it any less tragic or devastating for those that lost their jobs on Monday.

I'd like to know how much Baldacci's pay was cut or any of the other people that sit up there and rubber stamp these cuts through. I'd like to know how they sleep at night. I'd like to know what they are doing to balance the budget without cutting vital services! I'd like to know what frivolous spending their doing away with. I'd like to know how much money is being wasted on needless items that are pork barrelled through in bill after bill while innocent, caring, decent hardworking people are losing their jobs over a fraction of the amount of money that those stupid projects cost. I don't care if it seems impossible, there is another way and it needs to be found. FAST.

Mar 6, 2008

Adventures in Snowmobiling

When I think of snowmobiling, the worst comes to mind...smashing into trees, plunging through the ice, getting hit crossing a road, getting decapitated by a wire fence in a field. Admittedly that is because I have no experience with this favorite Maine past time and only have the news reports and my mothers voice in my head to consult about the topic.

Today, we both had the time off, we both wanted to get outside and enjoy the beautiful day, and we happened to have my in-laws snowmobile in our garage. Needless to say we decided to go for a ride. I insisted that both of us have helmets so we went out to our friends house, borrowed an extra helmet from them, and rode the trails behind their house.

The trek started off well until Jason veered left off of the trail. I tapped him harder and harder until he stopped, informing him that he had gone off trail. He tried to head back but dead ended in the midst of some trees. Here's where things got good. Jason became a bit, ahem, upset shall we say. He argued that I was wrong and that he was headed in the right direction when he veered left. I stated that I disagreed but we could check out where he thought the trail was. After a lot of heeving and hoing we got the snowmobile turned around and I hopped back on and we started off on, what Jason thought was the trail. Shortly thereafter we heard another snowmobile in the distance and Jason slowed to see where he was. That is when we saw this other guy trucking along down what I said was the trail (and what Jason said was NOT the trail). I jumped off while Jason turned the sled around, again. At that point the other snowmobile saw me off in the woods and stopped, undoubtedly thinking I was lost or injured. I informed him that we just got off trail. Then he saw Jason bring the sled around, said a few more things and was off. I'm sure he thought we were a couple teenagers "carousing".

The next excitement came up when I screamed at the top of my lungs like a terrified little girl and beat on Jason until he stopped the snowmobile because I was sure he was about to cross the stream that our friend had warned us about and plunge us to our icy deaths. No worries folks, it was just a long skinny field :).

Honestly, after that, we got our groove down. I trusted Jason. We didn't go off trail. We stopped at a store I used to work at, visited and had lunch. The ride home was lovely and I even tried my hand at driving :) Oh, and that picture up top is most definitely not me! I watched and we topped out at a whopping 25 mph!

Mar 4, 2008

A Decorating We Shall Go!

(First, a reading warning for Amy B : The following post could cause covetousness :)

Well, I have a few days off and Jason has a bunch of days off because it's spring break for him. I don't know what got into me, but I've been in a decorating/crafting tizzy the past two days! I get inspired to go on these kicks every now and then. So I shall now explain and show pictures of what I've been up to.

One of my biggest passions is photography. Has been every since I first got my hands on a good old SLR back in high school. I especially love black and white photography. If I had my own dark room I would develop my own too. There's something so restful about being in the darkroom, like my own little getaway. Anyhoo, I decided it was high time to get some of my best work displayed around my house.

We found these shelves I've been wanting forever at Marden's the other day for 8 bucks each! They not only came with the shelf but with three photo frames as well! So I put them up on either side of the armoire and displayed some of my favorite photos on them.

Then I took three of my favorite 8x10 photos and paired them with a new favorite photo I took recently in Vermont and framed them in some beautiful black matted frames. I then hung them gallery style in what used to be the vast, empty expanse above our couch. LOVE IT!

And last but certainly not least, the piece de resistance... one of the old six paned windows I got in Vermont. I stayed up 'till 11:30 finishing it the way I wanted to. I sanded... painted... waited... painted... waited... painted. The finish turned out just the way I wanted it to! It's hard to tell from the picture but there's a translucent coat of black followed by crackle paint medium followed by cream paint dry brushed on in a fashion then ends up looking like old weathered barn boards. Then, I centered a 4x6 black and white photo in the middle of each pane and hung it above our guest bed where before there was, once again, a vast expanse. The result... MAGNIFICENT if I do say so myself!

So there you have it. My crafty decorations. It is so fulfilling to have my favorite photos surrounding me now and quite rewarding to have incorporated them into spaces in my house that I wanted to decorate anyway!

Mar 1, 2008

Midterm Eval...dun, dun, dun.

"Here. Read these. I can't look," Jason declared as he handed me a stack of papers. He went on to explain that he had asked his students to do a mid-semester evaluation of him. He wanted the feedback but was not so confident about what they might say. I began to look through them, looking for positive ones to focus on and negative ones to downplay. But alas, there was no work for me to do. EVERY SINGLE ONE was positive. They scored him high in numerical ranking as well as left many positive comments. The summary is that it was highly unanimous that Jason has a good relationship with his class. They feel that he takes the time to explain things, is approachable and patient when asked questions, and goes the extra mile to help those that need a little more work. The one improvement that a number of students asked for was that he take a few more minutes at the beginning of class to lay a foundation for the group work to follow. And Jason being the wonderful teacher that he is, eagerly takes that feedback to heart and plans to adjust what he does accordingly. One student even commented, "Jason has achieved perfection." Now that might be stretching it a little but I am SOOOoooo proud of him! This just continues to give him the added confidence he needs and confirmation he desires that he has truly chosen the path that God was leading him toward, that he will love this profession and that he is gifted at it! Don't you all wish you had math teachers like him!? I know I do.