Immigration is the foundation of our Nation! Other than Native Americans, we are decedants of immigrants here.

immigration-girl-flagHad some yard work done that required cutting concrete. My gardener gave me a quote of $150 to do the job. I accepted his bid as fair and equitable and we agreed on last Sunday for him to do the work.

He arrived promptly 8:30 Sunday morning and began cutting our concrete patio. He used a small electric saw with a 4” blade, which I thought odd, since the last guy I’d seen cut concrete had a major power saw that had to be held with both hands and came with a water supply to keep the blade cool.

Gardener struggled to cut a mere 20” of concrete for over 5 hours. He left once, to buy new blades for his little saw. He did not take a lunch break. In fact, he took no breaks at all.

Ninty-four degrees at mid-day when I brought him some ice water. Sweat dripped down his face and cut brown lines in the concrete chalk covering his skin. He gave me a crooked-tooth grin of thanks, took a long drink then wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. “Caliente!” (Hot!)

I nodded agreement and pointed to his little saw. Pequeño (Small), I said, closing the gap between thumb and forefinger. Why so small? Harder to cut the concrete. I spoke in English, as my Spanish sucks, but he got it.

He laughed. You’re right. Yes! Si! Demasiado pequeño (too small). Herramienta incorrecta (wrong tool). He picked up his tiny cutter. Muy caro! Expensive! $100 for herramienta. $35 for blades. Ay, yi yi!

I’m paying him $150 for the job. He’d just spent over that buying equipment to do the work. I was mind boggled. I assumed he had all he needed to do the job when he gave me his bid. He went back to work and I went inside and got the receipt from the equipment rental place I’d visited the previous week. Only $24.99 to rent a jigsaw for 24 hours! At the time I rented the jigsaw, I inquired about renting a concrete cutter. $59.00 for 24 hours. Why hadn’t my gardener just rented the right equipment? He could have got the job done in half an hour and actually made money.

I took the receipt outside and showed it him. Do you know of this place? Just down the road?

He took the receipt and studied the logo at the top of the paper. His expression brightened. Si! Yes! Alquiler de equipos Rentals. Rents. Yes?

Yes! Concrete saw is $59.00 bucks for the day. Taken you 30 minutes to do the job. Why didn’t you rent a saw? Using hand signals and body gestures I somehow communicated.

Ah. No. No rent. Can’t. No license. No seguro (insurance). Not legal here.

Four years running our gardener’s been coming and he is the best gardener I’ve ever had. More than a gardener, he fixes our watering system, landscapes, trims trees, sets fences. He comes every Tuesday around 9:00am, rain or shine, and is on time, every time. He always smiles and waves when we cross paths. He is a stellar model of a dedicated hard worker for our children, and the community at large.

Yet, he can not get a Green Card.
Read more…http://jcafesin.blogspot.com/2012/09/hadsome-yard-work-done-that-required.html

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On Being Human

Angy-Birds-for-PCTalked to an old friend yesterday. We hadn’t spoken for almost 2 yrs. No particular reason. Life took over and we lost touch. The last time we spoke he told me his wife had quit her job as a restaurant manager and was very happy to be home, fixing up their house, shopping, cooking, doing things she never had time to do when working. Two years later, she is still at home. The house is now fixed up. There are no children, and she has no other responsibilities. When I asked my friend what his wife does with her days, he told me she enjoys working out, watching TV, and she plays a lot of Angry Birds.

My mother-in-law lost her husband of 53 yrs a couple years back, a year after they closed the small business they had together for almost as long. With no business to maintain, no kids to care for, and only sparse time with grown grandchildren, I assumed she’d would find her niche in volunteering, perhaps invest time into her community, teach literacy at her local library or maybe the hospice her husband spent most of his last days in. I don’t like sick people, she told me upon inquiry. And she has no interest in teaching, anyone, anything, she insisted, clearly annoyed at my suggestions. I’ve worked my whole life. It’s my turn to do what I want. What does she do all day? Plays Solitaire, or goes to plays and movies with friends and family, when they’re available, which isn’t often. Most elderly folks she knows are helping their kids with the grandkids, or volunteering.

On the phone with my old friend, I intimated his wife was wasting her life. A talented professional, she has too much to give to waste time with Angry Birds, I insisted. But my friend disagreed. She enjoys her days now, no longer under constant pressure to preform, he informed me. She’s allowed to relax, after working most of her life. She’s 45 yrs old, I countered. And has been relaxing for almost 4 yrs now. So? He was perturbed by my observation. They don’t need her income. He makes enough to support them both, so no harm, right?

Wrong…

Read more: http://jcafesin.blogspot.com/2012/05/on-being-human.html

Emerging Authors BEWARE!

I finished my first novel almost eight years ago, and went through the process of contacting agents (before self-publishing was a reality) to represent me. After I carefully researched them, followed all their rules and made sure my query letter was up to their standards, most didn’t bother to respond. The few that did often sent slips of torn paper to “Dear Athor” (no joke, they didn’t even bother to spell check their xerox response), explaining in two lines that they weren’t accepting new clients, or my work didn’t fit their list. The agents who wrote me directly gave me advice on how to make the novel work for them, i.e. take it out of first person, and/or multiple voices, and then resubmit.
 
I spent a year rewriting the novel to their specifications. When I resubmitted, they didn’t bother to get back to me, or sent me a xerox slip of paper.
 
I then submitted to publishers, hoping they’d be a better bet than arrogant agents leeching off of authors. Self-publishing was still years off. I went through lists of many publishers before one of the last on my lists wrote me back with an offer. No advance. No marketing. Author’s cut was 20% for hardcover, 50% for an ebook. Publisher promised one editing cycle, to put on a cover of her choice, and hold the rights to my work from the time I signed the contract until two years after the publication date, at which time the rights would go back to me.
 
I researched her publishing firm and got nothing, positive or negative. I contacted some of her authors (emails she gave me), who all said she didn’t do much, but assured me most publishers don’t. A bestselling author friend published through a major house told me the same about his publisher. I contacted “Author’s Beware,” and asked them if they’d heard of any problems with this publisher. They hadn’t, but told me their information was not kept current for the most part.
 
Three years after I signed her contract, my indie-publisher emailed me to begin the editing cycle. It lasted about a week, where, through Google Docs for two hours a day she went through the novel and “edited” it with me online. She suggested a few minor changes, took out sections I felt important to the story regardless of my protests, and missed most of the spelling errors. When she sent me the proof version she was to publish, she left out chapters so the novel didn’t make any sense. She balked when I protested the cover “design,” done by her niece who was not a professional, but looking to change her career from a book store clerk to graphic designer. She refused to change the cover when I supplied her a new one done by a pro. She released the novel six months later without notice to anyone but me.
 
In the two years the novel was for sale through Zumaya Publications, the CEO never showed me sales records after multiple requests. She never paid me. Anything. Ever. But the worse part—this corrupt indie-publisher continues to sell my novel even though our contract has expired over seven months ago and she no longer has the rights to my work. I have a termination contract, as well as the original contract that states our association was over on December 31st, 2012. There is no clause in our contract that allows her to continue selling my work after our contract is terminated. She is breaking the law, and Amazon and other online resellers are not only helping her, but profiting from this illegal activity…
 

Bird’s Eye View

BirdsEyeViewHawk wanted the rabbit to present to a mate. Megan wanted her husband Mitch to wait and talk to her instead of going to work. Neither got what they wanted, but both Hawk and Megan learned a valuable life lesson…
New one, short story, 9pgs. Complete on Scribd:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/140675150/Bird-s-Eye-View