Still grateful...

This economic downturn thing has been reminding me of a loose t-rex. At first you only hear rumors that it's out there, and then a few newspaper articles confirm the rumors, and then friends of friends have actually seen it, and then an acquaintance, and then it finally reaches the inner circle-- your own friends and family start coming home with puffy T-rex bites. A high school aqcuaintance had his house foreclosed on, friends are getting downsized, and now immediate family members are trying to change jobs, or suddenly experiencing long stretches of unwelcome leisure.
The landscape reconfigures itself-- it's now a place inhabited by monsters. You can feel the distant footsteps, see the water shaking in the glass.
In the last week, I've talked to four people who are being downsized. Two families who moved here this year for construction projects are having the projects shut down under them. One man had his hours on a road crew reduced by 30 percent. Another family was told on the day before Christmas to take two weeks off and whoever came back would get a 20% pay cut. It's getting ugly.
My friend with three little kids told me that after her husband's paycut, they now qualify for foodstamps. "What happened?" she said. "We both have college degrees! We both work! How did we get to this?"
The state is slashing the budget for education, among other things-- cutting the head start program because, as one play group coordinator put it, "you can't prove prevention." In ten years the state will wonder what went wrong. Even my husbands cozy and firmly unionized state job is seeming a tiny bit more liquid and he's eyeing his annual review with trepidation.
So, I'm still glad that the beach is free and that sunshine is free-- and so are the pigs in the mountains and the fish in the sea.

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