The little guy

It didn’t take long for the decision made on the other side of the country to reach across the miles and time zones. Today, the small town where we sometimes work announced that agencies operated by the community government will be impacted by the federal government shutdown. Beginning this week, employees are cut to 32 hours per week, and if the shutdown is not resolved in two weeks, layoffs will begin.

This is a community of Alaska natives, and a significant portion of their town budget comes from various government agencies. The clinic we work in is operated with funding from Indian Health Service (IHS), a federal agency. How ironic that in a government shutdown focused on a fight over national healthcare, healthcare is already being affected with clinic hours cut; patient referrals cut (with the exception of patients requiring medevac); and a freeze on numerous social and peripheral services.

At the moment, I’m not interested in placing blame. Really, I believe both sides in the debate have made mistakes and used poor judgment. But as usual, the little guy will pay the price, literally, with hours cut from pay, limited services, and stress and anxiety over the whole episode.

If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send one hundred and fifty lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour?  ~ Thomas Jefferson

As I hear about services cut throughout the country, I wonder what the real price is for this impasse? I’m sure the crisis of the moment will be resolved. But what does it do to the national psyche when small town America, through no fault of their own, is at the mercy of politicians a continent away?

The little guy is usually the hero of the movie, coming through at the last minute to save the day. We need leaders with vision. I think the ones in office have lost their way.

We could use some little guys right now. Sure hope they make it before the end of the movie.

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.  ~ Mark Twain

I’m home!

Ah, the pleasures of coming home! After a week away, working, it is good to be in my kitchen again. Rob says I’m a nester…he says even when we were doing an extensive RV road trip a few years ago, I was gathering twigs for my nest at every stop. Well, not exactly true! But there’s probably some reality there.

The only negative thing about coming home today is that I came home by myself. Rob is working an extra day, so he’ll be here tomorrow afternoon. That’s nothing, really. We’ve spent lots of time apart at various stages of our lives. But we’ve been mostly joined at the hip for a while now, so a night alone seems a little quiet.

Still, it gives me a chance to catch up. Catch up on some reading, catch up on my blog, catch up with blogging friends whose posts this past week I’ve mostly saved to read later. It’s become a regular pattern for me. In my “normal” routine, I read a bit every day, and can even find time to write a bit most weeks. But when I’m out and about, traveling and working, I fall out of my rhythm. But I’m coming to terms with this. It’s the best I can do.

This past week I was working in Metlakatla, Alaska. There’s a beautiful health clinic there that is operated with funding from IHS (Indian Health Service). Rob worked there for a time when we first lived in Ketchikan, but now he just does an occasional week or so. I’ve picked up some projects that I’m assisting with (always in a non-clinical role, thank you very much!), so we spent the week together at a little apartment that the organization keeps for visiting providers. The small community is on an island about 15 miles from Ketchikan, but there is no road, no bridge, so you have to ferry over, or fly over. I took the car and ferried since I was spending the week.

The island is very small. Less than 2,000 people…I think it’s more in the range of 1400…live there. There are a couple of very small mom and pop restaurants, a convenience store that sells burgers and chicken strips…that kind of thing. There is a basic grocery store. That’s pretty much it. Locals come over to Ketchikan to go to Wal-Mart or some of the other retailers here. To people who live on other small islands in this area, Ketchikan is “town.” This is where you come for any kind of health care that requires more than a clinic or urgent care visit. This is where you come to give birth. This is where you come to connect to Alaska Airlines, to see a movie, to go to McDonald’s. And yet, in so many ways, Ketchikan itself is just a small outpost. Well, it’s all a matter of perspective, I guess. After being on a really small island for a week, Ketchikan looked pretty big and busy this afternoon.

Well, I did bring something else home with me. Guess what’s for dinner this weekend?

Alaskan King salmon, caught this morning, in my fridge tonight!

I mentioned to the Director of Nurses at the clinic that I was hoping to get some fish while I was on the island. Just before I left this afternoon, I got these beautiful steaks. And about 15 more to go with them. I love shopping on the docks! Well, actually, these came to me in a cooler, I just paid for them at the front door of the clinic and did a quick transfer to my car. Most of this bounty is going into the freezer. But I’ve picked a couple of these to eat this weekend. You can’t freeze it all…you have to enjoy it when it is fresh!

So, home again, routine again, and fresh fish. Nice nesting!