Lunch at the FYG’s workplace

The FYG is in Estonia, but Jenny, Cherub, the HM and I went to lunch at the little church lady run store where she works anyway. I’ve mentioned it before, but I thought I’d take a few pictures to show you all what it’s like. There’s also a giant blackboard on one wall that always has a seasonal illustration and a Bible verse, but I couldn’t taken an unobtrusive picture of that because two couples of ancient and venerable age stood between me and that wall while they were catching up on the latest farm and family happenings. I would have liked to have taken a picture of them, too, because they just don’t make that kind of home-grown adorable old people outside of farm country, but that would have been awkward, so I didn’t.

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Seasonal decorations, dried flower arrangements, candles- the display on this old kitchen cabinet in the center of the store changes regularly.

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They carry a nice line of Doug and Melissa toys, and they may be the only store in the county with reasonably priced toys that I actually like.

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Home made hair bows, five dollars.  My phone camera is a little fuzzy.  I wish I’d gotten sharper pictures, because these bows are adorable.

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Burts Bees stuff galore, mason jar soap and lotion dispensers, candles, cookie cutters, other lotions

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Dried fruit and nuts, pickles, jams, baking supplies, candies, cake decorating supplies, grains, specialty sauces.

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I covet this oven, and I love all the baking supplies they have.

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There’s a great little deli, and they bake their own bread and goodies so you can buy soup and sandwiches, cinnamon rolls, pies, and fudge and take them home or eat them in the shop.  They do a lively lunch trade with local farmers and workers from a small local factory.

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Those hanging brown things are beef sausages- the longest one there is around 20 dollars.   I forget their ingredients, but as summer sausages go, they were surprisingly healthy.

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My favorite- the freshly ground peanut butter.  They also have freshly ground almond butter.  Freshly ground peanut is so different in flavor from the natural peanut butter at the grocery store. Yum.

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the dining area- full of old farm tables and rustic or primitive decor

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Chicken salad sandwiches on home-made sour-dough bread with pickles, onion, and lettuce was on special for 3.00 each.  The chicken salad is so thick I preferred eating mine with a fork.

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Even the bathroom is decorated.  At least, the women’s bathroom is.  I presume the men’s is, too.  I should have asked the HM to take a picture.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Free Kindle Titles

books border black and whiteThis one is interesting to me because I was taught growing up that satan was specifically NOT a fallen angel, there was really not much scriptural support for his origins one way or the other, the most common text used to support his notion being taken out of context:

Massive Deceptions in Modern Christianity (The Christian MythBuster Series Book 2)

But you know, it may be a lot of hooey for all I know. I haven’t read it. If you get it, read carefully and with discernment, as you should do with all your reading.

Blurb: Did Jesus and the Apostles teach the Satan the churches today teach or have the churches made another serious error? If we are correct that Satan and Demons are not fallen angels – and we think we are – then this will cause a hailstorm in Christianity, like never before. Giving power to something that does not exist is nothing short of idolatry!

Remember, truth is usually not the most popular, nor the best rated by the MANY scoffers, and those who have a lot to lose by admitting they are wrong. Jesus said the few would accept truth. So, because a book may even have many good reviews is not an indicator it is truth. You need to think for yourself! Evidence of the revelation of these things shows God is illuminating His Word in our age of enlightenment, to those that will listen, study and think.

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Shift Tense – Red Flags

Blurb: What’s the first rule of a gunfight? Bring a bigger gun.

Hired to end a vicious civil war, Eshu International’s job is simple: infiltrate the rebel SPLM army, kill the radical commander, Professor Harun Abdul Hamid, then get back to Belfast to enjoy the payday.

But nothing is ever that easy. New enemies stalk the battlefield while old ones seek revenge. Tam, Jace, Poet9 and the Triplets face Somali pirates, child soldiers, rival mercenaries, killer drones… and it’s just the beginning.

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31 Days of Letting Go: A Prayer Journey to Freedom

Blurb: This 31-day prayer journey will transform you as you move toward the abundant life Christ offers. As you let go of the strongholds and lies and grab hold of God’s truth, you will find complete freedom at the feet of Jesus.

We all have a very real enemy and he is prowling around like a lion to see which one of us he can devour first. Beloved, we must stand strong on the Word of God, armed with His truth, so we can not only defeat the enemy, we can rise higher and higher to the life God intends for us–a life of victory and freedom!

What lies are you holding onto? What deceptive thinking has crept in and replaced the truth of God in your life? What is it that you need freedom from?

It’s time to let go!

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Alabaster Cross

Blurb: A compelling novel that addresses a rising issue and tragic statistic of young men in America being raised without fathers. A captivating story that will stay in your heart, long after the book is back on the shelf. Trapped in a world of anger, 29 year old Bryan Whittaker cannot move on with his life until he takes a journey into his past a dangerous journey that will lead him into the heart of the Amazon Rain Forest. Instead of the revenge he seeks, Bryan finds redemption and in the process makes peace with his past. The only clue he has that will help him know if he’s reached his destination is his memory of his father’s most treasured earthly possession a beautiful alabaster cross.

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Far Country

Lots of positive reviews.

Blurb: Steve Williams had intended to propose to his girlfriend, Sarah, at their high school graduation party, but on the way to the beach his car swerved out of control on a curve and rolled down an embankment. Although injured, he was able to crawl out of the wreckage. Sarah, was not so lucky. While the doctors were able to save her life, she never awoke from the coma. In one careless moment Steve had lost the love of his life and destroyed his lifelong friendship with Sarah’s brother, David.

Five years later, Steve has graduated from college and is working as a park ranger at Hanging Rock State Park. Although he loves his job, he is still struggling to accept Sarah’s fate and overcome his own guilt for what happened to her. Angry at God, and wary of letting anyone get close to him again, Steve is blindsided by the arrival of a young ranger named Deborah at Hanging Rock, and the events that her arrival set in motion. As Steve is forced to come to terms with his own guilt and David’s increasingly volitile anger, he discovers that God is far from done with him!

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Children of the After: Awakening (book 1)

Blurbs and reviews:
It has been six months since their father locked them in the security vault with a promise to return. But he never came back. With supplies running out and vital life support systems failing, Jack, Samantha, and Will have no choice but to ignore their father’s warnings and leave the vault. With no knowledge of what befell the world outside, or what they might expect once the door is opened, they find themselves in a world they do not recognize.

Thrust into the remains of the world they remember, how will they survive on their own, not knowing what or who else remains amongst the ruins?

“The author of this novel skillfully brings characters to life. Three children are placed by their parents in a high rise apartment’s “safe room” to survive the equivalent of a nuclear holocaust. Weeks later, when they emerge amid the wreckage of a ruined Chicago, they are forced to rely upon each other to survive in a strange new world of predatory alien creatures. The strength of this novel is the relationships of the three siblings as they try to survive a hostile and unfamiliar new world…”
-Publisher’s Weekly
“From the first line of Children of the After: Awakening by Jeremy Laszlo, we know we’re in for an exciting adventure. A master story teller, Laszlo brings the reader right into the action and keeps us engaged throughout.”

-Amazon Reviewer

“Be prepared to have your imagination run wild. A truly new twist on the apocalyptic thriller!”

-Amazon Reviewer
From the Author
Thank you all for your support in this endeavor!

As many of you may know from reading my bio, or from social media, I am the proud father of five amazing children. They are often the inspiration behind scenarios and even characters in my books, and it was for them that I wrote this series. Although the vast majority of my fans and the readers of this series have been those who are well into adulthood, I wanted to make sure that this particular series was safe for children ages ten and up. So far, the feedback has been overwhelming. All age groups seem to be enjoying the series and I want to thank you for your emails and stories about sharing my work with your kids.

Bless you all and Semper Fi!

-Jeremy Laszlobooks border black and white

The Organic Life: How to clean naturally, eat organically, and use aromatherapy to enhance your life

Blurb: Fads come and go, but certain things are here to stay. The Organic Life encompasses beneficial and practical ways to change your eating habits, practice natural green cleaning, and utilize the soothing techniques of aromatherapy. All of these approaches bring a closeness between you and organically produced foods and products. Learn how these methods can enhance your life by embracing all that is natural. Fit organic foods into your food budget with our helpful tools and tactics, rid yourself of harmful toxins and expensive cleaners with our natural green cleaning tactics, and be prepared to learn how natural ingredients can bring your piece of mind and sheer relaxation, for starters. Join the organic revolution today and download these tricks of the trade in one amazing box set!
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How to Beat Anxiety: 100% guaranteed. No gimmicks. Only courage required

42 pages

Blurb: I wrote this so you could be free like I am now. Lose your fear and gain your life back.

I am a mental health professional. I see patients with anxiety nearly every day. They are desperate to be cured of this anxiety and they will do anything except what really works. Because of this they fail to master their anxiety and go on suffering for years and even decades as I did.

In this short book, I am going to tell you how to beat anxiety and I am going to promise you that if you do what I tell you, it will work. 100%. You can achieve this in a matter of months.

Whether you’ve suffered for years or for decades, whether you’ve tried everything else – the good news is that you can still be cured. Once you develop the skills, you will be able to fight any resurgence of anxiety, whatever life throws at you.

What’s in this book is practical, usable advice that is distilled from everything I’ve learned from my training, professional experience and personal experience.

I know it works because following this advice cured me too.

Download now to begin a journey that will lead to you being free to live in months if not weeks. No special tricks, no gimmicks, no equipment – only the courage to do what I say. 100% guaranteed if you do.

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Fight or Flight No More: The Solution to Anxiety

Blurb: I personally suffered from an anxiety disorder during my first and second years of University. It made my life a living hell.

At the time of writing this, it has been a little over two years since I’ve last had an anxiety attack.

Within this book, I briefly tell my story of living in the hell that is anxiety. I then go in detail about the solution to anxiety that saved me and continues to save me.

Nothing would make me happier than knowing that I helped even one person to overcome their anxiety.

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Panic Attacks: No More Panic Attacks: The New Drug-Free Panic Attack And Anxiety Therapy Techniques That Can Change Your Life Forever

71 pages. no reader reviews.

Blurb: No More Panic Attacks Is An Indispensable Guide Book For Anyone Who Is Plagued By Worry And Is Sick And Tired Of Always Being Worried Sick

This ultimate guide to stopping panic attacks teaches you fast-acting techniques that may be more powerful than medications

If you don’t read this book, you’ll miss out on the amazing simple and effective techniques to help you overcome panic attacks, every kind of anxiety, and intrusive thoughts.

This book will show you:
What it’s like to live a life free from worrying and self-doubt
How to put an end to persistent worry, once and for all
How to never again worry yourself sick about your health, money, phobias, relationships, your job or your family
How to banish crippling fears, panic attacks, that constant knot sensation in your stomach and overwhelming shyness
How to sleep like a baby, relaxed and peaceful
How to overcome the fear of losing control
How to have fun again
How to put an end to your fears and distorted thoughts for immediate relief
How to restore hope and a brighter outlook on life
Fast-acting techniques to quickly stop a panic attack in its tracks
Say “goodbye” to anxiety, panic attacks, persistent fear, sickening worry, stress, low energy, and lack of motivation, and say “hello” to inspiration, happiness, self-confidence, peace of mind, calmness, a zest for living and more gratitude for the many joys that your new life has to offer.

Don’t wait! Scroll up and click the orange “buy now” button at the top right of this page to immediately read this book on your Kindle device, laptop, desktop, tablet or smart phone

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Paleo Freezer Recipes and Paleo On-The-Go Recipes: 2 Book Combo (Caveman Cookbooks)

Welcome to the Caveman Cookbooks!
A series of Paleo Cookbooks for home cooks and food enthusiasts!

Looking For New Paleo Ideas That Actually Taste Great?
Explore the world, and make cooking an easy task with Angela Anottacelli, as she takes you through different cultures and cooking techniques all carefully designed to please the avid Paleo follower!

Busy Moms Listen Up!
Angela delivers delicious recipes for the entire family. She was a working mother when she decided to write these books, she understands the constraints that come with the territory.

Hungry? Excited? There’s More!
You’ll never have trouble coming up with meal ideas again. The Caveman Cookbooks provide you with everything you need to go Paleo, stay Paleo, and LOVE PALEO:

Vitamix Recipes – Soups, Smoothies, Juices, and Sauces – don’t have a Vitamix? A blender will do just fine!
A Collection of Your Favoruite Foods (All Paleo Style) – miss the pasta, pizza, burgers, and desserts from your diet? It’s all one click away!
Italian, Indian, Greek, Mexican recipes, and many more!
Always on the go? Check out the On-The-Go Recipe Book or the Freezer Recipes Book to save time!
On a budget? Paleo doesn’t have to be more expensive than it already is – check out the Quick and Cheap Paleo Recipes – with every recipe taking 10 minutes or less!
Slow cookers, pressure cookers, and baking galore – you’l find it all with this amazing set of cookbooks!
All recipes are family-friendly, and Angela goes a step further by providing her very own set of Paleo Kids Recipes – great for the whole family – even better for the little ones!

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50 Cheap Healthy Meals – Easy Vegetarian Recipes On a Budget (Vegetarian Cookbook and Vegetarian Recipes Collection 2)

Reader Review: You read the words “Cheap”, “Vegetarian”, and “Budget” and instantly you wonder if any of the recipes in this book taste good.

Surprisingly, every recipe in Pam’s new book Cheap Healthy Meals – Easy Vegetarian Recipes On a Budget (Vegetarian Cookbook and Vegetarian Recipes Collection) [Kindle Edition] will impress any one who loves to cook. Skip the introduction and go straight to trying out the recipes which are particularly helpful for busy people like me. With the use of simple yet flavorful ingredients, the book offers great dishes and really easy to cook recipes for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner which would appeal to kids and adults alike.

Starting with the “Quick Mushroom Quiche”, I found myself reading the entire book from cover to cover like I was reading a suspense/adventure novel excited to find out what’s next.

If you have these basic ingredients in your kitchen like onions, peppers, potatoes, mushrooms, or broccoli, you are on your way to making “Roasted Pepper Salad”, “Garlic Broccoli Soup”, “Potato Skin Casserole”, and “Mushroom Parmesan” which I would definitely try this weekend.

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Clean Meals On A Budget In 10 Minutes Or Less and Raw Food Recipes: 2 Book Combo (Clean Eats)

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Overcome Insecurity Forever: How to Overcome Shyness, Overcome Fear and Stop Anxiety (Shyness and Social Anxiety, Insecurity)

Just 20 pages.

Reader review:

This was a very easy to read and well written quick guide on how to overcome your insecurities. It shows you how to better appreciate yourself for who you are, accept it and live it. It teaches how you can turn those negative thoughts into positive outlooks about yourself. Highly recommended for anyone with insecurities, shyness or anxiety.

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The Way (The Terran Empire Series Book 1)

Blurb: In 2693 humanity has ventured out into the stars, colonizing a large portion of the galaxy and forging the Terran Empire. In response to the Great Religious War, all religious faith and expression has been banned. Seeking to preserve their faith, some have ventured out beyond the boundaries of the Empire and its anti-religious zeal. Others continue to practice religion illegally within the very heart of the Empire, spreading their beliefs and smuggling their scriptures from planet to planet. These religious renegades are hunted down by Commander Rigel Simon, an imperial officer tasked with eliminating the threat these criminals represent. But when disrupting a routine smuggling operation brings Rigel face to face with a messiah long-thought to be dead, will Rigel discover that religion is not the threat the Empire fears or uncover a plot more sinister than anyone could have imagined?

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The Good News of Jesus John, Matthew, Mark, and Luke Combined: The Good News Of Jesus John Mathew, Mark, and Luke Combined

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The Right Time: Trials

Charlie, a second year college student learns that her fiance is a lying manipulative child. Breaking off the engagement after she overhears his plans to lure her into the bedroom, Charlie puts all her energy into her education. Swearing off men for her own safety, she returns to college determined to graduate in three more semesters instead of four.
With the unexpected death of her mother, her only relative, Charlie finds herself befriending an older woman who shows her that strength to stand alone in a world that contradicts your beliefs only comes from one source. Clara, the ultimate matchmaker has her work cut out for her because her handsome neighbor Zane has also sworn off relationships.
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Defending The Apostle Paul: Weighing the Evidence

There are a great range of views of the Apostle Paul. Just as an example, a book ‘Four Views on the Apostle Paul’ has just been released in which four notable biblical scholars argue for four significantly different takes on who and what Paul was. These very different views still see the Apostle Paul as an advocate for the claims of Yeshua/Jesus as the Messiah.

There are an increasing number of voices though that dispute even this; that argue that the Apostle Paul was out to discredit the religion of the Jewish people, that he was really a liar, a hypocrite, an egocentric and dishonest preacher who only sought to promote his own status and views which were very contradictory to the Jewish religion of his day. Some question whether he was even a Jew and argue that he was a Roman!

Add to this the very strong evidence for the corruption, of some parts of his epistles; including some of the quotations of the Tanakh (OT) being clearly different and even contradictory to the original text they quote!

The number, breadth and variety of divergent views is ample proof that the Apostle Paul’s letters can at the very least be ‘cherry-picked’ to argue for very different and opposing views. Many who do this would appear to do so in a diligent and most sincere manner, and yet still end up with very different understandings.

So, with such divergence (and confusion!), how can we hope to approach this question and bring even a little clarity and resolution to the enigma that is the Apostle Paul?

I would like to suggest what is essentially a scientific approach. In this book I use a scientific method from the historical sciences to try to find the ‘real’ Paul.

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A Thankful Heart in a World of Hurt (Joni Eareckson Tada)

It is hard to be grateful when you are looking into the jaws of mind-bending pain. Chronic illness, a heart attack, a terrible car accident, caring for a developmentally disabled child, facing betrayal and loneliness. These tough times make you want to give up and throw in the towel. You try to overcome, but the exhaustion destroys your energy and hope. You try to pray, but the pain interrupts your concentration. You want to give up.The topics of fear and hopelessness, depression and suffering, loneliness and worry are issues that author, Joni Eareckson Tada, can speak to personally: A diving accident in 1967, when she was 17, left her a quadriplegic. She has lived 45 years in a wheelchair and she has experienced her share of ups and downs. But,she says, oh, the difference the grace of God has made in my life.Let Joni tell you her secrets to peace and joy, in this full-color 14-page pamphlet

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PARENTING THE GREATS: Teaching Your Children To Stand Out In Their Christianity

Reader Review: It’s easy to find books that are touted as “biblical” or “Christian”. Turn on a local Christian radio station and the majority of what you’ll hear is pop music with the word “Jesus” or “Heaven” thrown in every once in a while but very little if any gospel. For that matter, walk into Lifeway Christian bookstore and you’ll see that they’ll sell pretty much anything semi-religious if they think they can make a quick buck. So, when you see a book about Christian parenting, I don’t blame you for being skeptical.

However, Kevin Butler has written a wonderful book about how to raise kids from a gospel centered perspective. He’s not a PhD, having a high school education, nor is he the pastor of a mega church. Instead of someone who writes from an ivory tower dropping pearls of wisdom to the unwashed masses from on high, Kevin is a down to Earth guy that has practical experience raising kids and has great observations about what the Bible says about how to raise children to stand out in their faith.

The book isn’t long. I was able to finish it in about a week. In reading the book, I was convicted several times as Kevin showed from God’s word what “greatness” is as defined in the Bible and how we as parents should point our children to the God who loves us enough to send His Son to die on the cross as our substitute. Using humor and biblical truth, Kevin challenges the reader to rethink their priorities as parents and to focus on helping their children grow in their faith.

Probably my favorite section of the book was when Kevin talks about how often times we teach the story of Noah’s ark as being about the cute little fuzzy animals and the ark they rode in like some sort of floating zoo when in fact the story of Noah is the story of God’s wrath against sin. I think the part that convicted me the most is the chapter about family devotions. Personally, I have probably started family devotions more times than I care to count and had them “peter out” because of my lack of consistency.

In short, this is a good book and I highly recommend that any Christian parent, or any parent for that matter, buy it and read it.

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Sometimes when you click on a link, for some reason it won’t finish loading. Just hit refresh and it should work.

Subject to change without notice:  Deals were reduced prices at time of listing, but these prices generally don’t last more than the day they were listed.


Shameless money grubbing: I thought this was common knowledge, but it turns out it’s not- these are affiliate links. If you click on a free title and download it, I get….. nothing.  If you click on a free title and while you are at Amazon also buy something else, I get….. something.  Depending on what you buy, it will probably be somewhere between 4% and 7.5% of what you spend (I don’t get a percentage on penny sales) but I don’t pretend to understand how all of that side works.

Also, Swagbucks remains my favorite source for free Amazon gift cards. And if you haven’t joined, please click on the link and join so that I can keep getting free Amazon gift cards because I am still shameless.

Don’t have a Kindle? : You don’t have to have Kindle to take advantage of these offers. You can read them on various free reading apps. I often read mine on my laptop if they are short enough books, even though I have two kindles.  That’s because my kids keep taking off with the Kindles to read their school books and they don’t remember to recharge them before returning.  I wouldn’t say I’m bitter about it, but I might be a little disgruntled. If you’re curious, this is the Kindle I have, and I have used others and mine remains my favorite. Mine has Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi and I don’t have commercial screensavers.  The second Kindle is actually one I was given in exchange for some writing work, and I gave it to my two teens.  It does not have 3G, which is why it’s their Kindle.  Personally,  I don’t like Kindle Fires because I am a crank like that.

If you like these listings, you should also like my Facebook page, because I usually list free titles there several times each week.

Yes, my Kindle gets slow because I stuff it too full. You can left click on a title on your Kindle and delete it from your device, while still keeping it in your list of titles at Amazon in case you want to add it back to your Kindle later without paying for the title all over again. Don’t delete it from folder at Amazon unless you want to rid yourself of it permanently. You can also just add another device from which to read, which I did last week when I got my new and first droid type phone. Her name is Lucy Locket. Here is her dress: OMIU(TM)Popular Vintage Style Eiffel Tower Bird Pattern Premium Wallet Flip Magnet Design Stand PU Leather Case Cover with Credit Card Holders for Motorola Moto G(Black),Sent Stylus
I have already lost the stylus while sitting on my bed not moving or doing anything (other than losing the stylus. I think there’s a black hole that just follows me around sucking up my stuff).

Blurbs and book descriptions above are not mine, but come from  reviews on Amazon’s page.

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Interesting Sociological Note on Ferguson

In the wake of the Michael Brown shooting and all that has been going on in Ferguson, a photograph purportedly showing the injuries Officer Darren Wilson suffered  made the rounds on social media.

The photograph was not Officer Wilson.  It’s a late motocross rider and the injuries in the photograph are from an accident he had at a friend’s house.

Another photograph purportedly of Michael Brown showed a black kid with a wad of cash in his mouth and a gun pointing at the camera.  The person who shared that photo said, ““I’m sure young Michael Brown is innocent and just misunderstood. I’m sure he is a pillar of the Ferguson community.” The picture wasn’t Michael Brown (doesn’t even look remotely like him)- it’s a murder suspect from another state.

Now, fake stuff goes all over the internet all the time, so that’s not real surprising.  What is, or ought to be, deeply disturbing is the source for each of these two deceptions.

The second photograph and dishonest caption was circulated by Kansas City Police Department Officer Marc Catron.

The man responsible for the first hoax is Chicago firefighter Kevin O’Grady.

More here.


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The Simple Life: Chickens Are So Dumb

chickens are dumb

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Home-made flavored coffee creamer

2014-09-06 10.29.29 This isn’t particularly healthy, and it’s not sugar free, but I’ve been making my own flavored coffee creamers for a few weeks now, and this is one of my favorites.

In a large mason jar, I put:
1 can sweetened, condensed milk (I think the can is about 14 ounces)
1 can Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk, 13.6 Fl Oz- Thai kitchen is the only one I use. I tried two other brands a year or two ago, and I disliked them so much I have been afraid to branch out any further, and I am very happy with Thai brand.
Here’s the tricky bit- I didn’t really measure it. I used DaVinci Gourmet Sugar Free Syrup, Kahlua, and I just poured it over the top of the cream and coconut milk, probably a little over about an inch of liquid in the top of the mason jar.
Cinnamon- I like cinnamon. I think I used a scant tablespoon.

Blend well.

That’s all.  Put a lid on and refrigerate.

About that blending:  I put the blender apparatus to my blender on the mason jar and blent the stuff until all the cinnamon was well mixed. You could use a stick blender, too. You can’t really just stir or shake with the Thai brand of coconut milk because it’s too thick, and then you will have tasty but very unattractive clumps of coconut milk in your creamer and it looks like curds of sour milk and your husband will be horrified. Just trust me on this.

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Where my babies were this morning


in the air over...

in the plane

They have safely arrived in Estonia.

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Discretion, for the Commonplace Book

“I couldn’t seem to stir up any of my usual cutting comments in response.  I was discreet, I suppose.  Really, I didn’t care, and I see now that it amounts to the same thing.”

 The Thief (The Queen’s Thief Book 1)

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Home is Where the Frugality Is

home is where the frugality isOne of the best ways I know of to save money is, of course, not to spend it in the first place. And for me, the best way to do that is to stay home. It’s easier to stay home if you keep your pantry stocked with the basics- those things that send you running to the store when you run out. Sometimes, it’s actually more frugal to use a more expensive substitute than to run to the store- and not just because of the gas you save (assuming you would need to drive instead of walk to the store).

The more simple your tastes, the fewer things there are to run out of. Drink water. If you are not used to this start with water with a bit of lemon or lime juice and/0r peel. Then gradually reduce it until you can drink straight water. It’s healthier for you, too.

Learn some basic substitutions so that you can make do without a special trip to the store. Instead of running to the store, run to the computer to look up substitutions. HEre are some I’ve used:

Brown sugar: put a Tablespoon of molasses in a cup of white sugar and mix well

Dish soap: A dab of laundry soap or even shampoo will work when you are out of soap for handwashing dishes.

Bar soap- a dab of shampoo on a wash cloth will still get you clean.

Window cleaner: Vinegar; ammonia; or the windshield cleaner you use to refill your car (this is sometimes cheaper than the purchased kind anyway)

Scouring powder: baking soda and salt

Eggs: For pancakes you can substitute cottage cheese, which is only more frugal if it saves you that trip to the store and you needed to use up the cottage cheese. But it actually tastes pretty good.

Here are some other egg substitutions- they will all change the texture of baked goods a bit, but they work:
1 tsp cornstarch plus 1/4 cup water, combine first (this is for one egg)
or just use 2 Tablespoons cornstarch right into the dry ingredients of the recipe for each egg.
2 tablespoons arrowroot flour, same as above
in cake recipes you can mash up one banana for each egg, but this will change the flavor.

WE use this flax seed substitute for the eggs:

Grind about 2 Tablespoons of flax seed (your coffee mill will work, and you can try your blender. You should have about 1/4 cup of ground flaxseed. Whisk this into 3/4 cups of cold water and continue whisking while you bring the mixture to a boil and boil it for three minutes longer.

It keeps in the fridge for about two weeks if you want to make it up for a different recipe. Flaxseed egg substitute binds like eggs, but it won’t, of course, add the lightness that real eggs would. That doesn’t matter for a poundcake- a poundcake is supposed to be dense, heavy, rich, and sweet. But I wouldn’t try to make a light white cake with this.

Sour Cream or Butter for a baking recipe: These will also change the flavor a bit, so it depends on what you are making- an equivilent amount of apple sauce, canned pumpkin, or cooked, mashed pumpkin/acorn squash/sweet potato- depends on what you have in your hand.=)

Or this, which also works on baked potatoes- Makes 1 cup
1 cup of tofu, drained
1 Tbsp. olive oil (or other)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. white rice vinegar (or apple cider, though it will have a stronger taste)

Put all ingredients except the oil in your blender. When this mixture is smooth, gradually add the olive oil for the creamy texture.

You can use this in baking or as a topping. Of course, not everybody has tofu ‘on hand.’ We usually do.=)

Pancake syrup:

You could top the pancakes with fruit on hand, corn syrup, thinned honey (here the idea is simply to stay at home) or you could make this very frugal version, which for years was the only syrup we used:

1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed (or more packed if you want sweeter)

3 cups water

5 teaspoons cornstarch

Cook in a saucepan until slightly thickened- use a whisk to break up cornstarch if needed.


1 teaspoon maple flavoring for best pancake syrup flavor. But I’ve used vanilla, because I always have this on hand. I’ve used orange extract and cinnamon because I usually have those on hand and we love those combinations.

The above recipe is the cheapest version I know. You can also do this one:

1 3/4cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup water

boil, cover, and cook one minute. Cool slightly

add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring

Both these receipts are from The More With Less Cookbook- as is this other syrup:

Combine in saucepan:
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups water
bring to boil, stirring constantyly
2 cups fruit- if the fruit is canned, reduce the sugar and use the canned juice to replace the water. Frozen fruit also works.
Simmer until fruit is done, remove from heat and add
2 Tablespooons lemon juice

Serve hot over pancakes, waffles, or French toast

We also sometimes make our own salad dressings in a pinch- some recipes are posted here.

And it pays off to be a bit daring sometimes. This Basil Walnut dressing is wonderful as a salad dressing, but it’s even better as a toasted bagel spread- and Our Jenny-Any-Dots made a substitution I never would have dreamed of trying- we were out of walnuts, so she used almonds instead. Had she asked me, I would have told her not to bother, but she didn’t ask and I did not know until later. Later we made it with walnuts, and we actually vastly prefer it with almonds- so it’s a ‘basil-almond’ dressing and bagel topping.

Those of some of our stand by substitutions- here are some suggestions from others:


6 Responses to “Home is Where the Frugality Is”

Mama Squirrel Said:

Thanks for all the reminders, dear DHM!

I have found that having a box of commercial egg substitute on the shelf is also a good way to keep from needing to run to the store. Not as cheap as some other methods, but still slightly cheaper than fresh eggs (where I live, anyway).

I’ve also substituted a cupful of tofu when making pancakes or waffles–basically the same as using cottage cheese.

I’ve found that gluten-free websites, allergy-cooking websites, and vegan websites often have very creative ideas for substitutes. When we make our Sloppy Joe recipe that originally called for a can of tomato soup, we now use a can of tomato paste topped up with enough milk to make a cupful–and adjust the seasonings a bit. (It’s a good substitute if you have the tomato paste and not the soup.) I tried making tomato-paste-plus-milk tomato soup from the Tightwad Gazette and didn’t like it much; but mixed in recipes it seems to work.

I often substitute one form of tomatoes or other tomato products for another, depending on what I have or what needs to be used up. Our chili might be made with all canned tomatoes, all fresh, or a combination.

You also learn substitutions when you have picky eaters or there are other things you know you just can’t serve. I have a cucumber-hater who will eat zucchini, so we have zucchini in the salad instead.

Uncommonadvice Offered a good idea:

Great advice. How about putting vinegar in the tomato ketchup bottle so we can get the last of it out?

imagine offered:

I have always loved these type of things, even more so now that our grocery store in our small town has closed. Not to mention the price of gas.

One of our favorites is a real money saver. Mix ketchup with worcestershire (sp?) sauce. I do not measure, so it is just to taste, it makes a great steak sauce so comparable to A-1 that most people do not taste the difference!

DianeScraps Shared:

Not a food thing but conditioner is great for shaving and also works for handwashing clothing items


How about you?

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This isn’t the PTSD post I wanted to write

PTSD bad dayFor a change of pace and in a bit of balance, I wanted to write a post about what it’s like to live with somebody who has PTSD, because of course, that is certainly no picnic at all. In fact, I’ve been wanting to that from the beginning of publishing the PTSD stuff.  I tried, about half a dozen times.  I think I wore out the words ‘backspace’ on that button.   It turns out,  I can’t write that post. It would be secondhand at best, and I’m not objective enough to do it anyway.

On the one hand, I do understand it’s hard, it’s not fun, it’s unpleasant in just about every way, it’s another kind of trauma, and it means you totally lost in the spouse/mom lottery, but on the other hand, those with PTSD do not have it by choice. It’s not like they can just walk away from PTSD. Those who have to live with somebody with PTSD have that option of walking away, and they mostly take it. Even those who stay can walk away at least momentarily- they can escape for hours and hours at a time. Yes, they don’t go through it unscathed, and  at the back of their minds there is always that regretful, sad knowledge that their family member is not like the other ones and many things in their lives will never be like other people in many sad, bitter, frustrating, and unpleasant ways because of the PTSD, but there is still at least momentary relief and escape not offered to the one who actually has PTSD.

OTOH, if you have a family member with PTSD, it’s also a convenient scapegoat- you can blame every disagreement, every single clash of opinion, everything that annoys you, everything they say and do and most of the things you say and do on the crazy person and everybody else sympathizes with you.

See, I can’t write that post.

I can only write about what I know about PTSD, and that is what it is like to have it.

I haven’t been detailed about it, but I have been clear enough, I think, that the first of the traumas contributing to my PTSD stem from childhood as far back as I can remember and no doubt at all before that (have I mentioned the scars I still have on my face from the abuse of my very first first babysitter who started watching me when I was six weeks old?  yeah.  I think I was doomed from the get-go).

But I don’t talk about the more recent trauma, and I still just can’t imagine what it would be like to be in a place where I could type it, let alone say it out loud.

Not too long ago while cleaning up parts of my inbox, I stumbled across something I wrote shortly (as in within a year) after that of which we do not speak. Here’s part of it- it was part of a prayer request to a small email group I was on, and pretty much everybody in that group knew what had happened to me.  I wrote:

“I am so tired of being so needy, so much of a downer, and bringing grief to other people’s lives again and again. But I really need prayers. I never have a good day, but most days I can fake it better than others. The last few days haven’t been that way, and there are far too many of those days anyway. I also do not open up well, it hurts to do that, and it is hard for me. I have been a private person all my life, keeping my griefs and pains to myself, seldom crying in public, a coping mechanism I needed to survive a very painful childhood, so that is hard too, and once the floodgates are loosened, I do not know how to close them again…. People say things that are helpful and encouraging, but I cannot hold onto those things. Please forgive me for not being stronger, for not being more supportive of others….”

Most people wrote back with loving, supportive comments and promises to pray, and they were lovely and encouraging and came across as sincere.

Two people sent me scathing rebukes, one in particular stood out in a ‘seriously? I can’t believe he said that’ sort of way- he fixated on the ‘most days I can fake it’ comment and rebuked me for being a dishonest hypocrite.  Christians should never ‘fake it.’ That’s being dishonest and a sin.

One sweet, wise, generous-hearted soul who had some searingly painful stuff going on in her own life at the time wrote back telling me she thought I needed to go see a doctor or a therapist and consider medication. I wish I had listened to her then. Actually, even then, it wasn’t that I was unwilling as much as I was seriously unable to pick up a phone, make that appointment and drive myself to the doctor (who at that time was a 45 minute drive away).

She also encouraged me not to fake it, not because it was a ‘sin,’ but because she just felt it was healthier at that point for me to quit pretending I was okay when I was quite palpably not at all okay.

I wrote her back:

“I [agree with you that I] am probably clinically depressed, whatever that means (does that sound ugly? I don’t mean it ugly. I mean ‘who am I to self-diagnose?), As for ‘faking it,’ quite often I just have to so we can function. We are really busy. We have houseguests constantly- we have had an average of one family each month come and stay with us for anywhere from one night to a week, and we are having at least four more sets of houseguests between now and the end of the year (by groups, in this case, it’s two families of three, one single guy, and one married man who is coming without his family on a business trip. We did have a family of 12 last month). There will probably be more. We have company every Sunday afternoon and every Tuesday night, at a minimum. We’re having company tomorrow night, too, and last week we had guests three nights in a row in addition to our usual Sunday afternoon/Tuesday evening rotation. Most of our houseguests are friends and Christians, but some of the overnight guests and nearly all of our other company are people we are trying to… help… to reach out to in some way. I really can’t just sit and cry in front of them. Some of them I have only met in the last year and they don’t even know [about that of which we do not speak]. It’s hardly the sort of thing I say when introducing myself. I have to hold up. And sometimes I just can’t hold up anymore, I need a venting space in order to keep on holding up the next day.”

She wrote back pointing out what seems totally obvious now- maybe, she said,  we should stop having so much company. Of course I couldn’t just sit and cry in front of houseguests, she agreed with me about that, but, quite reasonably, her solution was that maybe we could put a halt to having all those houseguests.

We didn’t.
Instead, my husband signed us up to be foster parents, in addition to the regular company we continued to have.
Well. I couldn’t even imagine myself capable of doing that, I couldn’t travel to the classes, sit in them for hours, get my house safety proofed and presentable (besides my own personal issues, we had THREE large dogs at the time, one of whom was not exactly child-friendly), but I thought it would be a reasonable compromise to bring the Two Little Boys into our lives more than we had been.  So we did that.

And we continued to have company.
I also continued to participate in activities that psychologically are known as (even though I know this is a word that has gotten much rightly mockable over-use recently) triggering. Some of them have actually always been triggering, I just didn’t know that word, and I didn’t know that some of the things I did which I considered character flaws were actually useful and necessary coping mechanisms, and I had always gone right ahead and done them even though I had never gotten anything but stress and anxiety out of them and nope, not gonna tell you what they are.
And we continued to have company.

Right up until I just took to my room, locked the door, and quit coming out to greet the guests that other people invited over.  I actually did this two or three times before the flood trickled down to a thin little rivulet.

As I continued to try doing those other things that had always been triggering and not just because of that unspeakable trauma (as well as a few new ones stemming from that Thing), I started in on a whole new batch of symptoms.

I had dizzy spells so serious I was terrified of passing out in the shower because obviously the most important worry if I were to faint there would be that paramedics would see me naked.

(actually in this small town my biggest and a quite realistic fear is that the paramedics on call would be the two grandmothers who wouldn’t be able to lift me out of the tub and onto the cart, or that it would be that one guy my age who turns out to be a courtesy cousin because my step-grandmother was his grandmother’s cousin, and I am not making any of this up)

I had heart palpitations and ended up sweating through my clothes in a number of activities that shouldn’t have caused any of that. I had back spasms so severe that sometimes just walking a store started them off and I would have to double over my shopping cart, or a shelf, trying to get them to stop.

I had thinning hair, and other symptoms so serious sounding my doctor sent me to have my thyroid checked and checked again because he suspected cancer.

I didn’t tell anybody until the results came back normal, because it’s totally rational to keep that possibility a complete secret from everybody.

I couldn’t remember things and I used to have the memory of an elephant.

I had absolutely no energy. I had blinding head-aches. I had random aches and pains, I woke up in more pain that I had been in when I went to bed, sometimes my joints ached like I’d been beaten (I wondered about fibromyalgia), other times they burned. I hurt so much- it hurt to make the bed, to bend over to pick up a piece of paper, to carry a laundry basket, to walk any distance at all.

I’ve never been the most patient person in the world, but my fuse pretty much just disappeared, as in, I no longer had a short fuse, I had no fuse. I attributed it to the constant physical pain I was in.

I got hives, in particular connected with two or three specific activities that were, I now know, ‘triggering.’  I scratched the skin off of my itching hands to the point where I carried band-aids with me everywhere I went because my hands would be bleeding by the time we were done with whatever it was.

In short, faking it in an attempt to soldier on was just not working for me.

In the meantime, I did three family weddings, six grandbaby births, stayed with my daughter in the NICU when Striderling was born for nearly all of December,  took my kids to camp, interpreted church services (a stressful and incredibly mentally taxing activity I am ill equipped for that was supposed to be temporary but apparently I was the only one who thought so), and cooked, cleaned, had company, and went to bed for longer and longer periods in between those things.

I quit doing more and more things- sometimes not exactly voluntarily.  If I was getting ready to go somewhere and suddenly found myself hyperventilating and sweating, my ears ringing, my mouth dry as sawdust, seeing stars or some horribly sick-making flashing dark and light pattern in front of my eyes, I went back to bed until I recovered, and didn’t go, but I thought there was some undiscovered physical cause.  When I fought through and tried anyway, I always paid for it later, and recovery times took long and longer to the point that life was a recuperatory, invalid like experience.

I’ve always had a low tolerance for noises or for being startled, and my startle reflex amped itself up to impossibly ridiculous levels.


It was like I once stood in a vast and open space, and like a CGI scene in a movie, that space was evaporating around me, closing in until  the space safe and available to me was enclosed by the walls of my room and bathroom, while the distance between my room and the front door felt like a thousand miles.

All of it, once I started looking up PTSD, was pretty much textbook PTSD, even the physical symptoms.   There was just nothing I could do about it on my own because I couldn’t get anywhere on my own.  Shasta actually made the first appointment for me with a therapist because I could not make the phone call.  he is generally the one to take me to my appointments because he’s the only off work in time to do it, and I can’t get myself there.

And there’s more I would or could say but I don’t know that I should say or how to say it, so I will just end with this:

I didn’t write all this to whine, to enlist your sympathy (although I will certainly lap it up if offered) or pity, or simply as an exercise in public exhibitionism. (Is there private exhibitionism?).

I wrote it for this- if anything I have written here sounds familiar to you, get help.

Get help.  Especially if it sounds like somebody in your life who has been breaking your heart, hurting your feelings, leaving you woefully confused about why they are seemingly pushing you away, and driving you crazy and making you say unhelpful things like, “But if you would just….” or “Isn’t it time….” – please.  That’s not helping.  It’s making everything worse.

Get them help.  Get you help.  Get on the internet and google all the things that have been annoying and frustrating you. Find a good therapist.  Educate yourself (and you know, maybe it’s not PTSD. Maybe there’s something else going on. You probably won’t find out or fix it by staying at home getting annoyed with each other).  If you have kids, you have a serious parental responsibility to be informed and to inform them.  Knowledge is power.

A lot of people mock self-diagnosing, but pretty much everybody I have read about or talked to who has PTSD got help first because they googled and learned something about what they might be dealing with.

And if it is PTSD, once you’ve made sure you understand that it is a brain trauma and not a series of bad choices willfully made, figure out what the triggers are and what the particular specific symptoms are and stop urging the PTSD person to just go right ahead and shoot themselves in the head with those activities that are triggering and relive that trauma all over again and again and again.

But mostly, get help, get information, get knowledge, get wisdom- not just for the person in your life with PTSD, although I have to say I do think they deserve to have somebody love them seriously enough to LOVE them with all the unconditional warmth and devotion possible as well as to be informed,  but for you, too.

Because you deserve attention and sympathy and understanding, too.

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citizens as cash cows for local civic authorities and law enforcement

This is a long and thoughtful read, not just about Ferguson, but about poverty, racism, the court system, the financial incentives courts and police have for adding charge after charge, fine after fine, fee upon fee.

I’m not all that sympathetic about the speeding tickets.  I am sympathetic about the way they are handled, about the fees for registering your car, the fines for not registering the car, the cost of being poor, and the complete lack of sympathy or any bureaucratic heart for the situations they create in the first place, and exacerbate in the second.

The Little Boys’ mom went for help to get out of a dangerous, horribly dangerous, situation.  The help included moving her to a nearby state to a town where she knew nobody, had no resources of her own, and no transport. She got a job while still in the battered women’s shelter and walked to that job and to her doctor appointments.   But the state in its mercies, moved her again, this time to a second story apartment in another small town with no public transport.  She could no longer make it to her job, or anywhere else on foot, except a local convenience store and a fast food restaurant.  She did get another job she could walk to and the state in its mercy docked all her wages to pay for a situation entirely of the state’s own making.  She quit, and I cannot blame her.  I hate the situation the state created for her.  It’s unjust, inhumane, and it’s insulting to then force her to pay for it.

She got a car eventually so she could drive to the grocery store, to doctor appointments, to school field trips.  But she cannot always afford the registration.  She says locally, the cops have actually been sympathetic to her circumstances and they don’t ticket her. But there are other areas where she knows she’d be pulled over.

Essentially, a lot of our regulations and fees and fines are basically fines for being poor or powerless.  They may not necessarily be intended that way, but that is how they function.  I have written before about how churches unintentionally burden the poor. The state does this, too, only there’s no escape at all because the force of the state is a FORCE.  The state makes it impossible for people to get a job, to earn money from home working in cottage based industries, and then increases dependency by offering welfare.  The state gives the disease and then forces the sick to trade their independence for treatment of the disease- but the cure is not without dreadful side effects.

I do believe there is institutionalized racism in the system.  I’m fairly certain if the Little Boy’s Mom and I were both pulled over for the same infraction in most of the towns in my state, I’d be more likely to get off with a warning than she would.   But there’s also just an inherent authoritative, ‘because we can’, us-vs- them mentality in the police force itself.

My son just got done paying off a 250 dollar charge for gravel that supposedly scraped a parked police car when he drove by it on his riding lawn mower.  Nobody who has heard of it really thinks that was an entirely fair situation.  Most of us don’t even believe he actually did that much damage to the police car, and since the car was parked on the side of a road with no shoulder, we think that’s a bit of a stretch to blame him.  He also tells us that the officer in the car who came to talk to him was rude and belligerent and unnecessarily bullying in his demeanor.   He was polite enough to me when he came, but I could see he had a chip on his shoulder- there was the swagger, and the mirrored sunglasses that he didn’t take off even though he was standing in the shade with the son behind his back.

We played the game. We all were polite, civil, compliant. We didn’t argue.  My husband took my son to the police station and talked to them about a payment plan.  It makes me angry, and I feel very strongly that by submitting, we only enable further entrenched self-interest on the part of our police force. But the alternative was an expensive and probably futile act of lawyering up, and making a name for ourselves, and worse, for our 16 year old son,  as uncooperative cop-bait in a very small town.

So my son paid.  He refers to it as extortion.  It did not increase his respect for local law enforcement or police in general.

Again, the really interesting thing to me about all this is that *everybody* we have told the story to doubts the cops- even when we don’t tell the story that way.  We say, “The Boy was driving the lawn mower on the gravel road and kicked up some gravel on a parked police car and scratched the paint, so he had to pay 250 dollars.”  That’s all.  And the first response is always something along the lines of , “I bet the damage was already there, and they just found a way to get somebody else to pay for it.”

This is from even our nice, law-abiding, middle class, very middle America, law abiding, white bread and pasta acquaintances.   All of them understand, too, that we really had no viable alternative but to just pay off the charge with smiles on our faces.

How bad must it be that even they are this skeptical of local law enforcement? And what would a family whose son had not been able to find a summer job (because we did not have the surplus cash) have been able to do against the injustice?

And how much worse would it be to live in a town where this sort of thing happened on a regular basis to you and all your neighbors, but you didn’t have the job, the time, the cash to make it go away?


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