To receive or not to receive

You know — well, maybe you don’t. It’s not easy to decide to continue to receive help.

On one hand, you feel like a mooch.

Sure, everyone else is working as much as they can, some, just to survive — without being a “burden.”

Plus, there are the inevitable times when you want to do something. Anything. For instance, we’ve been invited to my brother’s stepdaughter’s wedding in April. It’s being held in New York, on Long Island.

In order for Jim and I both to attend, we would have to find a kennel for Dougie, our beagle coonhound. Our cat Smokey could stay home and our neighbor can watch and feed him. He doesn’t need to go for walks outside. But she could never handle Dougie. He’s a sniffer and when he gets on a scent, you’d better prepare to get pulled along.

I don’t always let him wander all over following his nose, but that’s the kind of two-year-old dog he is … that’s how the Creator made him. He’s got to follow scents. It’s inbred in him and reflexive, just like eating. It’s something he just has to do.

Either find a kennel, which isn’t cheap, or we must take him with us and try to find a hotel that will accept dogs.

Mind you, finding a decent hotel on Long Island that you can afford is hard enough. But to add the extra burden of finding one that accepts pet? THAT really limits a person’s choices.

And it’s the same premise with finding someone you know that you might stay with — Jim has no one he could beg from there and I have two people, both of whom I know will NOT take Dougie even for a day. (He’s a needy kid and has separation anxiety. I cater to him and his anxiety at home as much as possible – after all, we chose him to live with us.) I cannot expect others to like or put up with his idiosyncrasies.

Another thing to consider is Jim’s ability to be able to sit in the car long enough to not extend an eight-hour drive to more than is necessary. And he wouldn’t be driving, so it would all be up to me. Plus, I drive to get there. I eat while I’m driving, drink while I’m driving, listen to the radio, smoke… whatever I can do to stay awake.

Driving sometimes can hypnotize me. I remember one trip, with my kids when I was a single parent, driving from Daytona Beach, Fla., to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to see my parents. Heck, I wasn’t even one hour into the trip and had to pull over to try to catch a 15-minute cat nap. Ugh. It was awful. I knew that would be a long ride. (It normally took around 6-7 hours and that was pedal to the metal.)

Other trip considerations include: should we take his motor-scooter, best time of the day (or night) to drive, how many days can we afford (including the kennel if that choice is made), what gas is costing – here and there, and many more little decisions.

That’s a lot of cons to ponder for just a wee weekend trip.

As for pros in the decision-making process, I can come up with only one-off the bat. Being there for my brother.

It’s a long and involved story as to why I feel that it is necessary to be there for him. But to me, it’s important that he feel like he still has his extended nuclear family getting his back.

So for that reason alone, I will be driving to Long Island, by myself.

Jim doesnt’ think he could handle the ride, plus with Dougie’s neurosis, we don’t want him to be stressed over our “disappearance,” or stuck in a hotel room for hours by himself.

I haven’t yet asked my girlfriend if I might stay with her, but am planning on it. She has her own tribulations going on, so I don’t need to impose upon her, but also, we are Sisters in Spirit and maybe spending some time with her, will help her a little too.

Heck, maybe she’d be my date! Ha ha ha haha!

Before I totally digress on what I was posting today, let me regroup and come to the reason for the post in the first place: Jim and my working part-time, which leaves us having to collect SNAP benefits.

For the last week or so, a mail-order pharmacy that delivers Jim’s MS medicine, copaxone, free on a monthly basis, has called a couple of times to check on refilling the prescription.

I’ve reminded Jim a few times to call them. This morning I asked again, had he called them.

Nope. He’d forgotten.

And he didn’t have their number. I do. But it’s also on his box of shots. Yay!

He couldn’t see it. I pointed it out and he finally called to set a delivery date.

But he also took out the remaining doses (one prefilled shot per day). He pulled 15 doses out!

He was nowhere near where the pharmacy or I thought he should be!

Why? Because he keeps forgetting. And then forgets to employ a system of remembering.

“That’s women’s work,” he always says, jokingly.

But yes, it is, my work. Either I have to “continually” remind him (“nag”) or do it myself as I’ve been doing.

I guess my experiment in letting him handle some important stuff failed.

This is why I work part-time. Plus, I don’t see anyone else stepping up to handle our “business.” Someone has got to do it and that someone is me. It is my responsibility to somehow get it all done.

This is why we accept SNAP assistance.

Thank you, to whomever came up with SNAP. (ha ha! Another post idea!)


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SNAP embarrassment

I was trying to think of what else I could tell you about living on SNAP. 

It’s really pretty basic: you apply for the benefit, you fill out paperwork and send in copies of requested information, which could include tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements and more. Your case worker goes over the information to determine if you qualify, which it seems that mostly it goes by your gross pay, not your net pay.

Of course, since we’ve been on SNAP since last year, we haven’t had medical insurance that was deducted pretax or after taxes for that matter. So for all I really know, that might have some sort of influence on SNAP benefits. 

But there is one thing I was thinking of today at the grocery store. We actually shop at a big-box store because they’ve come to handle most services we need, such as prescriptions (they are the cheapest around!)

Anyway, in preparing to swipe my SNAP card, I remembered back to the days when food stamps was handled with actual paper tickets. You would get booklets of so many of certain denominations of paper tickets – like the kind you would buy if you were buying a book of raffle tickets.

You would tear out what you needed, in ones, fives, 10s and I think 20s were the largest denomination I ever received.

Yes, you’re correct. I was on food stamps one other time, back in 1997. I was a single mom with two children and I had returned to school full time. I believe we received them for one or two months.

Why such a short time?

Well, that was during the Clinton years. I think I’ve mentioned them before. You know the time period when supposedly our country was flush with money and people were making money hand over fist. 

I must’ve gotten in the wrong line or something, because I wasn’t. I’d been making $6.50 an hour as an administrative assistant trying to care for my kids and bills and it was a constant struggle. 

In fact, about a month after I stopped getting food stamps, because I refused to go back to work for at least 20 hours a week while I was also attending school full time, my car’s transmission stopped working.

Luckily that was in May of 1997. School was out for the summer for me and we lived close enough for the kids and I to ride bicycles to and from their schools or grandmother’s house for visits. (She thought I was crazy riding bikes with them all over the place).

But hey, I didn’t have the $1500 to get the transmission replaced until my father helped me out. All in all, we basically rode bikes to get around, go grocery shopping and visiting, maybe for two weeks.

Anyway, back to those paper food stamps …

What I was thinking today was about how embarrassing they were… if you did major grocery shopping, it always was a hassle to have your various booklets handy and to count out the proper amount in a timely fashion. All the while, people behind you in line staring at you and wishing you would hurry up and finish. Then after you paid what you could for food, if there was anything else in your buggy that was not covered by food stamps, you would have to pay with a credit card, check or cash.

No – we did not have atm cards at that time 😦

So, it could be a time-consuming process.

Today though, we get a debit card and you just let them know you’re paying with the SNAP card first and then you pay with whatever else you might have after that.

So, if the people behind you in line, cannot see the front of the card, it just looks like you’re paying with two credit cards.

Does it matter if people behind me know I’m paying with a SNAP card? Sure it does!

There are all kinds of nosey-bodies around, always thinking they know better than you on anything. Heck, you hear it in the news all the time.

Let me give you an example: People who live on SNAP, shouldn’t be buying expensive brands; People who live on SNAP, shouldn’t be smoking, doing drugs and whatever else comes to their nosey minds.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful our government decided that it was a good thing to help those in our country, who were not able to help themselves. Very thankful.

The government already tells me what I can buy with the benefits: food – and I do. But they don’t tell me what kind of food I can buy, how much of an item or what brands I can buy.

We all know that the price of food has been increasing steadily. And for the most part, when I buy food, I buy store brands. You know, the cheaper generic brands – the ones that were always thought to be lesser quality than name brands.

But there are somethings I will not compromise on, for example, sliced American cheese. I buy one name brand and that is the only kind I will buy. My husband on the other hand is not picky about his sliced yellow cheese. I happen to have tried his “lessor” priced and quality brands and to tell you the truth, I’d rather eat mud than some of the items he’s brought home.

I buy generic when I know it tastes good – and the only way to know that is to try the various brands. But if they just don’t measure up, I go back to my good old choices.

Whoever said living on SNAP had to taste bad? It’s as if embarrassment is just not enough for some people.

As far as I’m concerned, my husband and I have paid into our country’s welfare programs for many years. Not planning to use them ever. But now that we are in circumstances that enable us to use the benefits we have paid towards, we have no reason to feel embarrassed at all or feel like we need to lower the level of our eating anymore than it already is. 

People don’t have to be kicked when they’re down already, do they? I don’t believe so.

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Valentine’s Day Red Velvet

I’ve never had red velvet cake. 

But I did have a red velvet cake mix that we got from the food pantry.

So, what better day to make it on? That’s right: Valentine’s Day, though I didn’t have a heart-shaped baking pan.

Oh well. I made cupcakes instead that could be shaped into a heart.

Boy, were they ever RED! 

I slathered cream cheese icing on them. Not bad for a spur of the moment idea.

Sorry, no pics though. Cupcakes have been disappearing … 😀

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