Posts tagged: Christmas

Help! Congress Is stealing Cupid and Santa.



Digitize the Mail?


Ahh, the computer…text it, email it, or send one  of the cute little cards on the silver screen…without the little quote: “Because you cared enough to send the very best…” Course it is hard to press this digital card in your album, hold it, prop it up on the window sill, or on your desk, but what the heck, who needs the post office?

rose heart

Take the town of Valentine in Southwest Texas near the Mexican border, population 217, founded in 1882 by the Southern Pacific Railroad as a whistle stop and shipping point for area ranches. The railroad construction crew landed on the town site on no other than February 14 thus, as the story goes, these burly guys, being unsuspected romantics, named the town after the third-century saint, St. Valentine…or if you are more of a cynic, after a John Valentine, President of Wells Fargo and a major stockholder in Southern Pacific.

But “Cupid” is the choice story as history shows.  The Valentine Post Office opened in 1886 when the trains began to roll.  It is still there  today managed by Postmaster Leslie Williams who has been doing her jobValentineTexasPostOfficeJP01 for 22 years,  runs the one-room adobe PO.  Not only does she serve local residents, ranchers and businesses, but also the thousands of customers worldwide who mail batches of their valentines to her each year. Why?  People around the world send their pre-addressed stamped valentines to be re-mailed  bearing  Valentine’s special postmark.  Starting Feb 1st Ms Williams starts posting the sometimes up to 40,000 valentines to their special recipient.  All this on top of her normal workload sometimes with extra help or volunteers at no extra charge, just 49 cents.

Adobe Photoshop PDFIn 2011 when the USPS came to Valentine to announce the shuttering of their esteemed post office…a fiscal necessity to save $60,000 a year, the Valentinians came out in force.

“Where will we announce the new babies born?, or the lawn mowers for sale, or that Minny’s divorce is final?”  they wanted to know.

“Where will we buy stamps and money orders  and…”

“Well, Marfa is only 36 miles away,” the USPS fellow said

“And who will stamp the Valentines?”  He looked blank.  “The almost 40,000 valentines we get and post mark every year.”

“Oh, not a problem, we could do that at Midland..who’s to know the difference?”

“She will!” And they pointed to Ms. Williams.  What did he care that the post office was the physical and emotional force of gravity that pulled their community together.  Valentinians were not about to take the closing of their  post office sitting down so they joined a nationwide rebellion against the shutdowns, standing up and speaking out.  In 2012 USPS had to suspend its wholesale closure plan and the doors to the Love Station remains open today in its proper 79854 home (albeit with its hours reduced to six a day, an no Saturday openings.

Our own experience of what a post office means to a community is in Crested Butte, Colorado where my husband has taught skiing for years.  The post office is the hub of young drop outs, old, gray-bearded escapees, young women in snow boots, long skirts and ratty fur jackets carrying their babies on their hips as their mothers and grandmothers did.  The bulletin board advertises everything from ski equipment, baby sitting, free puppies, seances, back mountain skiing, snowmobiling…It is the core of the village.  How many of the over 31,000 post offices provide the same “Heart” of a community.  “Priceless” as the ad states.

The post office is not merely a thing, though it is composed of many things–buildings, touch-screen postage machines, delivery trucks, mail boxes, etc.  The post office is also an idea, an important concept and mechanism for making real our people’s Big ideal of a democratic, egalitarian, one-out-of-many society.  It is worth all of our efforts to keep it alive. Check out the democratic movement that needs and wants you:

(Author’s note:  information from “The Hightower Lowdown)

Pictures from the internet.


More Christmas cards than Valentines?

If the government and corporate lobbyists have their way,  your mailbox along with Santa and Cupid will disappear.

 What is happening to  “The Mail Must Get Through!”?


A_Colorful_Cartoon_Pony_Express_Rider_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_100518-003891-087053       dog postman  postman with bag


The United States Postal Service (originally called the U.S. Post Office Department, when it was completely managed by the U.S. government before 1971) also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Postal Service, often abbreviated as USPS is an independent agency of the United States federal government responsible for providing postal service in the United States. It is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution. The USPS traces its roots to 1775 during the Second Continental Congress, where Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general. The cabinet-level Post Office Department was created in 1792 from Franklin’s operation and transformed into its current form in 1971 under the Postal Reorganization Act.

The USPS employed 617,254 workers (as of February 2015) and operated 211,264 vehicles in 2014. The USPS is the operator of the largest civilian vehicle fleetpostal truck in the world.[2] The USPS is legally obligated to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, at uniform price and quality. The USPS has exclusive access to letter boxes marked “U.S. Mail” and personal letterboxes in the United States, but still competes against private package delivery services, such as UPS and has part use with FedEx Express.[3]

The USPS has not directly received taxpayer-dollars since the early 1980s with the exception of subsidies for costs associated with the disabled and overseas voters.[4] Since the 2006 all-time peak mail volume,[5] after which Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act,[6] (which mandated $5.5 billion per year to be paid into an account to fully prefund both employee retirement health and pension benefits, a requirement exceeding that of other government and private organizations [7]), revenue dropped sharply due to recession-influenced[8] declining mail volume,[9] prompting the postal service to look to other sources of revenue while cutting costs to reduce its budget deficit.[10] The USPS lost US$5.5 billion in fiscal 2014, (approximately the amount of its required prefunding mandate from the PAEA.) Its revenue was US$67.8 billion.

One stipulation of the PAEA has caused controversy. It stipulates that the USPS is to make payments of $5.4 – $5.8 billion into the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund, each year, from 2007 to 2016 in order to prefund 50 years of estimated costs (for employees not yet hired) This requirement also explicitly stated that the USPS was to stop using its savings to reduce postal debt, which was stipulated in Postal Civil Service Retirement System Funding Reform Act of 2003.[4] This is in addition to deductions from pay for federal contribution to social services.[5] This pre-funding method is unique to the USPS. In June 2011, the USPS had to suspend its weekly payment of 115 million into the fund because it had reached 8 billion dollars in debt and the retirement plan had a surplus of 6.9 billion dollars.[6] The Postal Service has not made any of the pre-funding payments since that time.[citation needed]

  (Information From Wikipedia)

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: In the fall of 2006 (Bush-Cheney) and lobbyists for postal corporatist pushed a lame-duck session of Congress to ram through the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.   This outlandish requirement of artificial, government-manufactured debt of more than $5 billion a year to fund retirement for ‘future’ employees is effectively closing down the one non-discriminating service in our country.  The Post Office not only provides us with middle-class income jobs but it delivers to all:  to the old, the poor, the black, the white no matter where you live.  (I ask again, ” Who is behind this preposterous requirement?”) 


$$$$ ‘s.  The US Post office is Losing Money…Over $5 Billion a Year!

So some would have you  believe. The fathers that be  are closing down post offices and firing in order–so claims Congress (The same people who voted in the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act,” a possible Morris–guarding–the–tuna probability) and the postal service’s top bosses all claiming necessary steps to keep the Postal Service alive.  Far from being “broke” as the anti-government crowd ceaselessly claim,  the Postal Service’s annual revenue greatly exceeds its operating costs these days generating an impressive operating profit of $1.4 billion!  Yet from all appearances, the Post Office appears to be sinking in red ink Why? 

All of these cutback, job losses are done under the pretext of  the “keep–the–service–alive” hoax?”  The only thing that keeps the postal Service alive is its  SERVICES.  Kill off the community facilities and the dedicated workers who deliver and what’s left of the PO? Yet there are those who keep chanting the “shrink to survive” mantra?  How about the Orwellian title of “Retail Access Optimization Initiative” which the postal hierarchy is either contemplating or is already implementing with such “shrinkage” as:

SHUTTING DOWN ABOUT HALF of the 487 mail processing centers thus slowing delivery.

REDUCING HOURS  in more than half of America’s post offices

CUTTING 1/3 OF POSTAL JOBS (The largest reduction in the PO”s 223-year history…there goes more of our middle-class jobs)


The solution to the problem is not to “cut, chop, cancel, contract out…corporatize”  but to bank on it.  Millions of Americans in low-income neighborhoods and rural areas are victims of predatory lenders and check cashing chains that rip them off.  In a January report titled “Underbanked and Overcharged,” United for a Fair Economy (UFE) documented that  over 68 million adults–more than a fourth of US households are being ripped off to the tune of almost 10 percent of their income by rates charged by predatory financial stores.  Both the Inspector General and UFE pointed out the obvious solution:  Postal Banks.  Already the PO is in the “money” business with the sale of money orders.  The facilities (31,000 post offices) are already in existence throughout the entire country.  Some of these communities have no local banks.   Expanding into banking makes sense for USPS, in fact, until the banker lobby got Congress to kill the business in 1967, post offices had been offering saving deposit accounts for more than half a century.  Even today the Postal Service provides international money transfers, and sells more money orders than any other entity.  The Inspector General estimates that postal banking can bring nearly $9 billion a year in revenue for the USPS. (Oooops out come the banking lobbyists)

“Retail Access Optimization Initiative” is in essence CORPORATIZING THE MARKETING OF THE POSTAL SERVICE,  of the most popular and (most profitable) mail products by letting Staples and other such business run boutique PO kiosks in its big box stores, now even in our grocery stores… staffing them with their poorly paid, minimally trained, non-union workforce.

My personal experience with one of these ill– trained individuals:  I wanted to mail a newspaper clipping to my son–a 3×5 envelope, light weight.  Our nearby post office closed its official office and was  opened in the next-door, small beverage store run by hard working immigrants…long hours, convenient.   “How much for first class?” I asked this bright-eyed, young woman.  She places it on the scale, punches several buttons,


“How much for 4th class?”  I wasn’t in a rush to get the information to its destination.  Again the envelope went  onto  the scale followed by an amazing numbers of buttons being pushed.


Needless to say I knew there had been an error.   “Why does it cost so much more for fourth class?”

She didn’t even pause, “Because it takes six days and that costs more.”

Of course,  you know that your post man and people in the post office are civil servants who must pass a written exam to get their classification. Us oldsters all remember the old western movies with the horse riders fleeing from Indians waving tomahawks, defying incredible odds, with the cry, “The mail must go through.”pony-express-rider-historical-americana-painting-desert-scene-walt-curlee

Our post man is one of the few individuals in this day of digital invisibility who we know by first name, who walks up our steep driveway to deliver our packages rather than just hanging them on the mailbox.  Who makes sure no mail is delivered during our six-month snowbird migration, who collects canned goods for the local food pantry,   He/she is “community”.  And they perform miracles…

They are the ones who handled my sister’s Christmas letter…the one addressed to a home in Florida that we had sold fourteen years ago.

Scan 2

That letter arrived at our present residence with no forwarding address sticker, no extra postage.  There it was in our mailbox with its holiday greeting.   How it got there remains a mystery to me but DEDICATION  to the, “mail must get through” is alive and well.    The same old fashioned letter to santadedication that handles all the Christmas cards to Santa, who delivers the packages through USPS to your door, your mailbox.  These people are dedicated professionals who are losing their middle-class jobs because of greed and corruption by our wonderful political professionals who are bought and paid for by the lobbyists of our big corporations.

We need your help to relieve our Post Office of  the fictitious debt.
















cloud angel

Cloud Angel

(Photo by Nicolas Raymond)

Scan 2


I pulled the Christmas cards from the mail box not paying a lot of attention to them–multiple colored envelopes, some hand written, some stamped.  This one caught my eye.  I noticed it was from my sister, Bev who just turned 84 and has been known to get things mixed up now and then.  So?  The address on this card is where we lived FOURTEEN years ago. Yes, I have written to her, called her the past years–she has even visited us here on Tidy.  The envelope showed no  “return to sender”, no “forward to” with our present address.  Nothing but the address written as shown.

How many hands did this card go through from its Arizona launch?  How many wings flew it across country? How many people/machines sorted it?  How did it get onto the right truck to be delivered to Tidy Island?

Computer wizardry?  White pages?  Of course, but why wasn’t there the usual change–of-address  sticker applied by the kind person who took the time to find us so that  the next person handling it would know/or the machine would know, or…ahhh, sticker probably fell off.  I examined the letter closely, no tell tale sign of dried glue.

I’m a sucker for “miracles.”  Had a lot of them in my life so this is my Christmas Miracle.  By the way, I’ve written to my sister, Bev, in LARGE FONT to update her address book, and for you who don’t believe in miracles, never, I mean NEVER complain about the inefficiency of the U.S. Post Office.

Christmas at Our House

Charlie brown Xmas treeChristmas at Our House

When I was very young, my two sisters and I would cut our own tree.  Now this was a long, long time ago when we lived  in the foothills of the Cascade in Oregon. No tree farms.  We would traipse around ours (or our neighbors’) back forty looking for the perfect tree.  What we usually ended up doing was climbing a tree and sawing off the top (crooked, of course) drag it home, get out the two by four stand with a hole drilled in it and try to stand it up…not an easy task.  It usually ended up looking a bit like this.  No matter.  Our ornaments generally consisted of crayoned chains cut from construction paper, strings   of  popcorn (some burnt kernels included) and maybe a very bedraggled star that would not stay upright on the top branch.  We’d step back to admire our handiwork–beautiful.

Our presents were wrapped, no scotch tape in those days, and tied with yarn if we were lucky enough to find some.  When presents arrived from distant grandparents, we would open them without parental knowledge, and try to re wrap them so we wouldn’t get caught…ruined our surprise, of course, as skullduggery often does.  It was the anticipation, the wonder of possible gifts, the inevitable disappointment in the practical gifts received.  Next year…there was always next year.

Christmas Eve was our big celebrations.  Our three children, so close in age, were always as thrilled with the holiday as my sisters and I were.  Cutting our own tree was a continued tradition but now it was on tree farms.    The five of us would brave rain, snow.  Their father,  saw in hand, would wait patiently for us to find the perfect tree which could never be the first one (although we often returned to it after a thorough hunt).  Why is it that the tree looks so small in the field and is so big we can’t get it through the door?  We’d move furniture to accommodate our trophy.

christmas-tree-pics-0111Tradition: colored lights, garlands. tree ornaments with pictures of growing children glued to bright, shiny balls.  Christmas Eve was family exchange but Santa always left his gifts Christmas morning.

Ghosts of Christmas Past:  Granny, Ron’s mother was the best mother-in-law a person could ask for.  I hear you, Granny, playing the old, familiar carols on your organ.  Although we were incompatible in the kitchen, you measured everything and never had a failure, I’d say… a bit of this and maybe some of that…some success and lots of failures.  Remember you bought my first bikini?  My complaint?  It covered everything I had!  You gave me my first car, a tan Chrysler with velvet seats, a piano when you heard me say I would like to learn, ( it was washed away in the flood along with everything else,)  and my first “original” oil  painting, an ocean scene far too expensive for our budget.  Thank you for accepting me and thinking I was good enough for your only son.

LJ, my only daughter who loved me beyond words.  Remember that time when you and I were left to pick out the Christmas tree, LJ?  You always had grand ideas.  It was so big that it covered the entire car with just enough sight through the branches to see our way.   There we were,  a Christmas tree driving down the road!  We barely got it in the house and had to put the star on the top from the second floor.

Your Christmas would start months in advance as you created your lovely wood sculptures, your ceramic,  loving figurines, special gifts to each of us. Where did you get that beautiful voice?  Certainly not from your father or me who can barely carry a tune.    I listen to the music you left me, voice echoing and you are here, celebrating, cajoling, your “get-tough, Ma!” call echoing as I compete in that marathon paddle tournament.

Our loved ones are never gone, they live in the depth of our hearts, in the folds of our memories, a part who we are, with us for all eternity.

Our two sons married incorporating their spouses’ Christmas traditions into their own. Although we did not raise our children within any religious framework, each seemed to find their own “religion” with their spouses.  One has become Catholic, the other  a more “fundamental” approach.  We celebrate with nine grandchildren from age six to twenty-five. The  Christmas Eve celebration remains at our home, packages piled, grandchildren performing their songs, and poems, always reading the Christmas story from Luke. And when we gather around the table there is an Agnostic (me) an Atheist (Ron, who has softened that to a ? being a scientist he needs proof!)  a Catholic family of seven, a Fundamentalist family of six.  We begin our repast with Hail Marys, and end our prayers singing five Amens (the five great religions of the world.)  SO BE IT.

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