I really enjoyed my birthday. As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to take the day off, so I had off from Friday to Wednesday - so nice! It was hard to come back to work, but having a short week makes it a little easier.
I had a number of grand plans for my birthday, but I ended up frittering the day away. The Bead Gallery was having a sale on crystals, so after I got up and around, I headed over there to pick up some pieces for a mother's bracelet for my step-mom and since the sale was so good, I decided to make one for my mother too. I did stop by the office for just a short time to drop off some stuff and check the mail. After I ran a few more errands, I went back home and made the bracelet for Kim:
It looks kind of Christmasy, but it's my brother, my sister and my birthstones.
I included our initials on one end and a "made with love" charm on the other end. I think it ended up being pretty.
Friday evening I went over to Bill's for a little birthday barbeque:
We ended up eating pretty late, thanks to Bill's somewhat-to-be-desired organizational skills, but it was nice to celebrate the day and the food was delicious when it was finished! I received some very nice gifts, but the most spectactular was from my very dear and talented friend, Kerry:
Isn't it beautiful?! I absolutely love those colors and the mohair is amazingly soft. I don't have any stoles, only triangular shawls, and I've been meaning to make one. I love it! Unfortunately, it's incredibly hot so I haven't had any opportunity to wear it yet. I brought it with me to a movie in the hope that the theater would be cold, but no luck. I guess I'll have to make plans to go to Minnehaha Coffee for knitting - I can depend on that to be nice and chilly! Now to just find the time...
Saturday the dogs and I hit the road to visit my family in Sioux Falls. I'm glad we waited for Saturday because I heard the traffic was pretty nasty on Friday afternoon/evening. It wasn't bad on Saturday. Here's where we stopped for a potty break:
That's about the halfway point between the Twin Cities and Sioux Falls. It's a fun place to stop, but I wouldn't usually stop there. Usually I would stop at the Blue Earth Rest Stop because they have a nice little hiking trail which Finbar really enjoys exploring. Unfortunately, this is how all the rest areas looked in Minnesota:
Thank you, Governor Pawlenty. As many of you may have heard, the government of the State of Minnesota has shut down since the legislature cannot come to an agreement on a budget. That means all the rest areas were shut down since providing bathroom facilities for travellers is not an essential government service - tell that to my bladder! Ok, I did stop at Dairy Queen to use the restroom (there was a big line, by the way, so apparently I wasn't the only one using alternative facilities) and felt obligated to buy a treat to pay for my use of said facilities.
Anyway, this budget thing is so irritating! Our governor pledged not to raise taxes when campaigning for office, and since we all learned from George Bush what happens when you say "No New Taxes" and then raise taxes, he's sticking to it, no matter what the consequences. Well, sort of. Raising "fees", like the cigarette "fee" he favors, is apparently vastly different. Whatever.
Last year in order to stick to his pledge, everything was slashed to the bone last year. Things have been pretty hard around these points if you aren't wealthy and in big business. So, there's really not much to cut THIS year, so you gotta bring in more money. But you can't raise taxes. So our governor proposes financing our essential government services with a cigarette tax and opening a casino. So, we're going to finance government on the backs of people who smoke and gamble. Wow, that sounds like sound public policy. IF YOU'RE ON CRACK!!! The democratic legislators propose raising income tax for the wealthiest Minnesotans, but that maybe makes too much sense. Oh, I forgot to mention the key point. Our governor is very, very interested in seeking the highest office in the land. And it's hard to get the Republic nomination if you're a governor who raised taxes after pledging not to (or even if you didn't pledge, I'd guess).
In the mean time, I have several friends who are out of work because their jobs aren't "essential" enough. And services aren't being provided. Like rest areas. Or driver's licensing.
In full disclosure, a good portion of my income is a result of gambling revenue, which makes me not completely objective about expanding gambling. I do not favor gambling. I feel uncomfortable that I am able to live comfortably thanks to gambling. But I'm not quitting my work, which I hope contributes more good to society than the revenue takes out. But even if I took a completely new job tomorrow, I would not favor financing government through gambling.
More on my trip and my fun mail in my next post!