Monday, July 28, 2014

Mortgage Stuff, Honest: "Hello Governor"


Fannie/Freddie Mortgage Future?


Jaret Seiberg, Guggenheim Partner’s first rate DC financial analyst, invited me to join Michael Bright—Tennessee Senator’s Sen. Bob Corker’s principal Banking Committee staffer--and him in NYC last week to discuss with GP’s clients and others mortgage finance reform, the variety of proposed alternatives and the many remaining business and political hurdles facing the eternal question, “What to do with Fannie and Freddie?”  

Double thanks to Jaret and Michael for the opportunity and their flexibility, when at the last moment I had to cancel personally attending and they let me join via conference call. 

Michael discussed the many substantive issues surrounding the Senate’s Corker Warner cum Johnson Crapo (CWJC) legislation and some of the history which generated it.

Yes to F&F in Some Form

My task was to make a case for why F&F should not be abandoned because they still add value and offer smooth and steady operational hope to the nation’s primary and secondary mortgage markets. 

I argued that virtually all the legitimate issues people had with F&F have been solved via regulation or easily could be going forward. Most people who still opposed the two, largely, were swayed by a false narrative. 

As Michael spoke about his* legislation the 2008 “Conservatorship” events and offered explanations for the policy results which evolved, I imagined a bunch of well-meaning Treasury people, operating under immense pressure, trying to build a lifeboat during a hurricane using a variety of hasty figurative patches to get them over. Some of the fixes worked and others are now being challenged both in court and in the policy arena.

(*Behind any major piece of legislation are one or two staffers who shape it, meet with affected interest groups, the Administration, quietly lobby, build support, shoot down opponents, occasionally substitute for their “boss” and then synthesize for and strategize with their principal on developments. Bright did and does this for Corker.) 

The case I made for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was simple.

They successfully produced voluminous amounts of mortgage financing, for a variety of income groups, and worked well before the post 2005 PLS debacles. Since being put into “conservatorship,” they still are spectacularly successful—buttressing the nation’s mortgage market-- when their regulation was tightened up post-2008. 

I suggested, with some regulatory relief and little legislative head knocking, they could be revived and permitted to play a principal role in the mortgage market before any of the various F&F alternatives could be operational.

Stayed Away From Political History

And “no,” I didn’t go into the role of the 2004 GOP trying to destroy certain Fannie execs with sham charges of “securities fraud,” possibly ushering in the PLS debacle when replacement Fannie officials to those deposed started buying the private label garbage.

One item I hope I established was my oft stated belief that no massive change in the nation’s mortgage finance structure—especially which abolishes F&F--can effectively be governed by federal regulatory officials because of competing institutional regulatory agendas and turf wars.  

I thought that was a vulnerability in the CorkerWarnerJohnsonCrapo bill (where Senator Corker, to his political credit--with Bright’s help—clearly was a driving force).

Why F&F in the Future Makes Sense

The current bank regulatory regime (Fed, FDIC, CoC, Treasury) and now CFPB—before you would even add CorkerWarnerJohnsonCrapo’s (CWJC) contemplated  Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation (FMIC) apparatus--largely remains reactive, meaning the bad guys do their evil deeds and only get caught after the fact when and if the regulators catch them. 

I’ve written about other CWJC problems, including the fact that no lender, anywhere, was mandated to make lower income housing finance available, despite a special housing trust fund set up for that purpose. It was in the statute but absent any language requiring banks/lenders to use the fund made it near useless. 

Also, several Banking Committee members expressed concern over handing the mortgage market to the nation’s biggest banks, which had not earned that reward, especially just 7 years after they had ravaged the system with their own—not F&F-- private label securities (three or four times more damaging than whatever F&F errors were and what the GSEs cost). The banks’ flawed mortgage bonds carried ersatz or fake ratings provided by their friendly rating agency business partners. 

We talked that the next iteration of the CWJC or even a perpetuation of F&F could, in fact, get overtaken—or heavily impacted--by legal proceedings before Congress ever acts.

Major Unknown, the Court Cases

Bight and I agreed the “Third amendment” court cases were beyond our ability to analyze and predict content or timing, only that it likely won’t stop with Sweeney’s final opinion and that Congress doesn’t like to screw around, legislatively, where major court action is pending. 

A Judge Sweeney decision for the “takings” plaintiffs could have major financial as well as possible structural consequences. 

Hypothetically, if a conservative GOP president is in office when a decision is rendered, he might not appeal to the SCOTUS and even side with the investors; while a new D president could appeal or if convinced of the GSEs value may to use that decision to build a financial/capital revival. 

Among other possibilities, in my pitch, I suggested since F&F now have repaid all that they were given in 2008 (with a growing surplus), the Treasury Department could let them keep some of their earnings to build capital. I further suggested, the two under certain conditions would be able to fund themselves, without Uncle Sam’s red, white and blue gilding. (It’s Important to note that Jaret doesn’t agree with me.)

Congress Listens to Financial Stakeholders

More importantly, the industries which bring home ownership to Americans know F&F and like working with them—as they have for almost 40 years—there always some exceptions, but not many. I’ll repeat my belief that some of the nation’s largest institutions want a F&F option in the market to securitize their product and reduce bank portfolio risks.

As they’ve just shown, those financial interest groups do speak to Congress in major ways, including making significant political contributions. 

Operational familiarity and continuity are important virtues in an $11 Trillion US mortgage market which can’t afford a “time out” or lengthy transitions (CWJC had five years but most people believed that it would take 10 or 15) where the future is uncertain at best, because legislation left open so many key issues.

Folly If Hill Ignores GSE Regulation


Fannie and Freddie have been tightly regulated for the past 6 years and—assuming that regulation stays in place—there is little chance of a repeat of the subprime debacle for reasons everyone knows (the primary one being F&F cannot touch low quality mortgage loans). 

With QM mortgages now the rule, F&F as principals in a mortgage finance system offering common products, common prices, competition among primary lenders, efficient operations, and with their own money at stake, would be far better at regulating their customers (most of which are banks or bank affiliates) against consumer and systemic abuse than any federal agency.  

The nod goes to the GSEs because federal agencies can’t ever have real “skin in the game,” meaning revenue at risk (except in a very indirect way) and therefore can’t have the same incentives nor employ the operational policing, with consequences, which F&F would possess. 

A further benefit—if one is worried about a future real estate collapse--with the nation’s banks of all sizes, mortgage banks, credit unions, and other lenders upstreaming a lion’s share of the nation’s mortgage loans through the two securitizers, if any prospective market threat evolved, the nation’s mortgage markets and tax payer risk would be quarantined with two easy to reach and heretofore strongly regulated firms.

GSE Myths, Just Hang On 

I contended to the GP audience the major case against F&F is based on a faux allegory, people blaming them for the 2008 financial meltdown and more. These fables were successfully generated and sold by their former business and political enemies--most but not exclusively on the Right--some of whom persist today and beat the same tired drum.  

Faux F&F allegory complements their use of air brushed bank history, since I’m still waiting for anyone in the GOP to admit, in 2006-2007, the major banks and investment banks—outside of the F&F systems—created and sold well over $2 Trillion in poorly underwritten MBS, with tainted ratings and only the institutions’ fast plummeting names backing them.

Those PLS securities, which their originators sold worldwide, are what made a domestic US real estate downturn an international dilemma. 

Again, I believe that only a new president with both congressional chambers controlled by his (or her) party will set the stage for any omnibus mortgage reform  legislative proposal with the soonest that can occur is 2017. 

This Administration could move via regulation to make it easier for F&F to produce for the country. 

Maybe if Sarah Palin suddenly spoke ill of F&F, the President might react and vigorously support them. It’s worth a try. 

“Operator, can you get me former Governor Sarah Palin in Alaska? Tell EssPee its Bill calling.”


What Others Are Saying 

Military Help for the Ukraine

NYT article on military assistance to help the Ukrainian government.

Hillary Discusses Putin

Hillary Clinton talks about Putin in a CNN interview. (Mr. President, please remember, don’t trust Putin or his regime.)


 NYT marijuana legalization editorial.


Maloni, 7-28-2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Maloni Offers Foreign Policy Advice to President Obama



President Obama, Go Get ‘Em,
Go After Putin and Russia Now 


Vladimir Putin and the Russians created this horrible debacle in the Ukraine and have lied through their teeth ever since, starting the crisis with the phony Crimea invasion on which you and the world gave him a pass. 

The Russians provided the Ukrainian “separatists”—many believed to be masquerading Russian soldiers or thugs--with sophisticated weapons, political cover, incentive and rewards. 

Their Russian patrons either poorly-trained this posse or helped them operate the technologically complex Buk missile system that last week brought down the Malaysian jet, murdered 298 people, and generated untold sorrow for hundreds of families. 

Russia’s Ukrainian separatist proxies reportedly looted the crash site, like so many ghouls picking over the dead, and may have turned over the plane’s crucial black boxes (which aren’t colored black) to their Russian overlords, like ignorant little acolytes. 

Putin’s militant surrogates have slow walked allowing civil and NATO specialists near the crime scene. They have denied prompt analysis or access to crucial evidence—and the likely identity of the perps—or the identification and humane and proper treatment of the dead. 

The world knows Russia will continue to prevaricate and deny any evidence which points the finger at them or their Ukrainian allies and will attempt to bluster and blame others. 

That’s hardly civilized behavior but predictable given the Russian gestalt (remember, "kourve and gonniff"). 

So far, President Obama has counselled patience and placed some financial/economic sanctions on I-always-will-be-KGB Russian leader and his cronies.

Neither of which will do squat to slow down this Stalin wannabe (one writer this weekend described Putin as “rat faced” and he’s right). 

There is a haunting question asked in most every “alternative history” book written about European events occurring 80 years ago, implied either in the story or specifically asked in the prologue. “If you had a chance to stop Adolph Hitler in the early 1930’s, would you?” 

Today, I would treat Putin like a rabid dog that requires literal or figurative extermination. Help him chop wood, shirtless, in purgatory. 

President Obama, you should man up and hit Putin now, while much of the world gingerly berates the Kremlin; smack him and his gang while they are  befuddled and confused by the multicountry outcry; don’t give the Russians time to reinforce their natural “It wasn’t us” defense and fabricate information indicting others. 

Start immediately, sir, announce the sending of financial, economic and military support to the Ukrainian government and demand like behavior from Germany, England, France, and every other European country which has gorged on Uncle Sam’s goodwill and treasury since World War ll ended. 

Smack the Putin bully in the nose and then hit him again; don’t coddle the Russians and don’t seek to mollify them with understanding words. 

Build on your sanctions, President Obama, but show the Russian people—or more likely the Russian oligarchs who control the country’s economy--that Putin is a disaster, not worthy to lead, and dangerous. His behavior can cost the elites their ill-gotten fortunes and their faux western lifestyle. Then hope that internally, some Russians, abandon, stop him, or otherwise remove Putin before he plunges the world into a nuclear war.

You want a legacy, sir, here’s one for you. “The leader who led the world and backed Putin down!” 

International respect has to be earned, even if it means rattling Uncle’s sabers. 

If you need extra incentive Mr. President, here it is. It’s reported been reliably that Vladimir Putin is a big Sarah Palin and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fan; with the latter he makes Ackman and Berkowitz look like greenhorns and novices. 

(Oh, oh. Look out Moscow, here comes a PO’d “Barry Obama!”)


Maloni, 7-20-2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Putin, Judge Sweeney, Bad Banks, Fiderer and Dowd


“Kurve and Goniff”* (*Yiddish for “Whores and Thieves”) 


Yes, that is what Putin and his cabal always have been and nothing more. Watch as their noses get longer lying about what little Russia had to do with the downing of the Malaysian passenger jet and the brutal deaths of all of those passengers and the crew.


Judge Sweeney Rules, Again, for Plaintiffs


It looks like Judge Margaret Sweeney, once again, isn’t buying the government’s line that FHFA is above the law and can act with impunity with regard to the “Third Amendment” or “takings” cases. 

She just ruled that discovery must go forward with some limitations, which she established in her judicial order which is linked below. 

The court cases brought by hedge fund investors in F&F preferred securities and others is a “wild card” in the entire “what should do with Fannie and Freddie debate, because the judge can make a major plaintiffs’ statement—in regards to financial awards—which would impact virtually all of the legislative schemes, no matter what stage their status, i.e. introduced, pending, discussed.


Fannie and Freddie 2Q Earnings?

Sometime in the next few weeks Fannie and Freddie will announced 2014 second quarter’s earnings. Management in both entities already made clear they likely won’t be blockbuster bucks and won’t contain much—if any—income from lender  fine payments, but I still think both sets of numbers will look good to most people.

Let me quickly establish that my comments are based on instinct; nobody in either company talks to me about quarterly/annual revenues or even when earnings will be announced. 

I just suspect that because each had healthy second quarter mortgage volumes, their net earnings—which we all know go directly to the Treasury and not to shareholders—will add to the bonus overage amount F&F already have paid the taxpayers for use of funds extended to them in 2008. 

That arrangement can end if the White House decides to remove its head from a reportedly, anatomically impossible body location—in which it currently appears to be stuck--and let F&F accumulate some working and protective capital from their market efforts.

Working for the Big Banks (Who Doesn’t?) 

I have no idea if the Urban Institute’s Jim Parrott also shills for the big banks—as an Inside Source article linked below claims-- but it merely would be a simple/logical extension of his work for the Obama Administration where he championed the legislation which became CWJC and which would have richly rewarded the nation’s biggest banks. 

The fact that Parrott may be earning income from the banks is not as offensive as the fact the Admin is working so closely with the big banks, a group which disdains it and fights the Obama White House on any financial service issue that would curtail aberrant bank behavior. 

And then there is the fascinating and lengthy “big bank perp walk”---”Hey isn’t that Citi and will it soon be BoA? Nice butt, Citi”---as the financial institutions parade through DOJ meetings, admit guilt to violations of Treasury rules and other bank regs, pay hefty fines, while some WH butt kisser simultaneously thanks them for their support to dismantle Fannie and Freddie.
Invariably the banks go right out and engage in new mandate breaking actions or more edgy ways to do business as usual. Nobody should be shocked because that’s what banks do. 


I am speaking in NYC next week and one principal thought I hope to leave with my audience is that any new regulatory financial arrangement to oversee the son of CWJC or any other new mortgage market idea, which doesn’t have Fannie (and Freddie)—or the equivalent--in the picture as principal, can never be as successful as a system where the major stakeholder has financial skin in the game.

No federal financial regulator will ever be as attentive or as invested in their regulatory role as would be a senior investor, i.e. Fannie Mae, which stands to lose money when the bank lenders inevitably play fast and loose with consumers, trying to squeeze them for additional cash or otherwise manipulate them exclusively for the lender’s benefit. 

The CWJC’s jumble of new regulators and conflicting regulatory relationships, overlap, and duplication was one of the reasons it fared so poorly in Senate Banking. 

There just are simpler and better ways to do certain things. 

David Fiderer Writing About Maureen Dowd

I like the NYT's Maureen Dowd’s work. I think she’s caustically funny, pinions the appropriate characters, and writes with a certain passion. 

I like Hillary Clinton, whom I think is smart, successful, and able to lead and for whom I likely will support for President, if she runs. 

I like David Fiderer, who discovered my blog about two years ago, and then kept in constant contact (it went both ways) as we discussed his analysis of all matters F&F over the years and provided me with some of the best and pithiest columns which I link as often as I can. 

Last week, Dowd wrote a snide column about Chelsea Clinton Mezvinsky, Hillary and Bill’s only child who works for NBC as well as the Clinton Family foundation. 

Fiderer that morning sent me a HuffPost column he wrote six years ago, making me aware that Dowd often has written negatively about Hillary and Bill Clinton, which frankly I hadn’t known. 

I still enjoy Maureen Dowd’s writing, but I am linking DF’s work because I suspect NYT readers will encounter more Dowd columns like last week’s and might benefit having read Fiderer’s Dowd “analysis.” 

(BTW, if you think DF is accurate or full of hot air, tell him through this blog.)

What Others Are Saying 

Josh Rosner has some sharp disagreements with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) on her suggestions to CWJC in this HuffPost article. 



BTW, some juicy rumors are circulating about Sen. Warren looking at a 2016 presidential run, which would make for a fascinating Democrat convention and primary. 


Poor David Steven’s, MBA’s top honcho. He can’t even convince his daughter to become a mortgagor and buy a house. That’s not good a good reflection of his advocacy skills when his job is pitching mortgages to the nation, including young people like his progeny.


Maloni, 7-17-2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

When the Going Gets Tough....


Tread Lightly or Risk Nation Damaging


I know that readers don’t turn to this blog seeking just my political babblings, they want my opinion on mortgage finance and F&F stuff. That’s the blog’s mission, although when there is little fresh mortgage finance material around (I’ll get to some later), it behooves us all to think about matters which are important and clearly related.


Hating Obama at a Great Common Cost

After supporting Hillary in the 2008 primary—who then might not have beaten John McCain—I twice voted for Barack Obama.

Candidate Obama in 2008 seemed to be fresh and invigorating, but in hindsight he didn’t have the seasoning for the job nor backbone, at least beyond the struggle of anyone who is black and quickly becomes politically prominent.  

He wasn’t an alley fighter in a town which demands and respects the same. As engaging as he is/was, President Obama wasn’t as embracing (the fabulous Bill Clinton skill), meaning he had trouble reaching out to R’s and D’s. That hurt him.


In his second term, Obama's accumulated shortcomings have wounded him. Better to be a wolf than a sheep, but he’s never measured up to being a true predator no matter what the Right claims are his dictatorship aspirations. 

Barack Obama has been abused more that Jimmy Carter or George W. Bush on their worst days. Sure, there is a racial component there, which his vilest antagonists swear isn’t the case, showing me that it is. It also suggests that it will be a long time before we, as a people, are race neutral. 

Every generation thinks their challenges are greater and different than the previous generations, but the domestic and overseas threats and challenges we face are  worrisome and gut wrenching. 

With Middle East chaos, China throwing its weight around Asia, Russia meddling in the Ukraine, and major domestic unhappiness, we could be on the brink of a downward spiral that benefits few US interests. 

Nobody should curtail their freedom of speech, but thinking about consequences of comments and actions should be the primary responsibility of each of every American and those who would be citizens. 

Obama’s GOP opponents continue the “Beat up Barack” assaults with no let up, thinking it’s the best way to win the Senate this year and maybe the White House in 2016. That noise is taken up by their foot soldiers who turn it into personal, racial, and familial slurs. 

They don’t even pretend civility, which may have worked in the 1940’s when we could be “Fortress America.” But, as 9-11 proved and many lesser setbacks since then, we retreat to our own borders and dare anyone to come after us at our own peril. 

What ever happened to “My President, right or wrong, he’s still my President,” which accommodates situational disagreement but still supports the office and the nation’s elected leader. 

That obligation doesn’t cease with, “Well, I didn’t vote for Obama.” 

Remember when we would pound our younger brothers, but if anyone else in neighborhood dare touch them we would be defend and pulverize the transgressor. 

As a nation, we are better speaking with a single voice and safer engaging the “enemy,” united, where the enemy lives and works, which near term seems to be much of the Muslim world, Russia, China, North Korea, etc. 

Each of those nations is more aggressive in their anti-American actions because of the President’s weaknesses, for which he and we all share some responsibility. 

For the next two years, President Obama will be demonized and worse. If a Democrat does win the presidency in 2016, Obama’s name and legacy just will fall into the epithet category. 

We belittle this president and his allies—and his supporters do the reverse—at our own jeopardy imperiling our status as a legitimate world leader, the country strong enough to take in “the yearning masses,” appreciate differences, and be a big tent nation. 

Most of us feel a loss of US world leadership in that regard and to underestimate the new and old bullies on the block—who seek to exploit our divisions-- is foolhardy. 

Right now our “big tent” is leaking and sits on top of squabbling and contentious partisans, who respect little and that’s a huge mistake. 

Some stalwarts (are there any?) on the Right and Left should assume the adult responsibility that Richard George Kopf, the Nebraska federal judge—appointed by George W, Bush—did this week, when—bravely--he called out the five Catholic male justices who control the Supreme Court to “STFU” and consider the damage their judicial decision bias are causing the nation. 

We need more bipartisan “adults,” like Judge Kopf, offering Americans better models for accepting and accommodating our divisions and diversity rather than using them as bludgeons. 

No matter how some may yearn for it, demo-graphically the United States isn’t getting any whiter, just more brown and black. But that doesn’t mean it will be weaker or that our ideals are not worth preserving or angrily should be jettisoned. 

So, like previous American generations, build on our differences and employ them for a better tomorrow for everyone.

Senate Approves Castro for HUD  

The Senate has approved President Obama’s nomination of Raul Castro to be the next Secretary of Housing and Urban development (HUD), generally a backwater job in any administration. 

The charismatic Castro, former San Antonio Mayor-- whose identical twin brother, Joaquin--is a sitting Texas Congressman, is reportedly a possible VP candidate for the 2016 D ticket.
In his nomination hearing, Castro wisely stayed but he suggested that the F&F status quo  wasn’t acceptable.
Here’s a reader comment I posted to the Politico story, which reported the Senate vote and the issues Castro may encounter as HUD Secretary including a reference to Fannie and Freddie.

With regard to Fannie and Freddie (and his political aspirations), I hope Secretary Castro stays out of Director Mel Watt's way. He's making a mistake if he thinks that diminishing Fannie and Freddie is any sort of political winner, since the big banks don't want the job unless heavily subsidized by taxpayers. This soup doesn't need a second chef stirring the pot.


Bill Issac and Fannie and Freddie

Former FDIC Chairman Bill Issac never was a fan or supporter of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. So, I found it a little surprising that he took such a strong op ed stand in the Hill newspaper “Roll Call” suggesting how F&F have been—and their investors—abused by the Obama Administration Treasury and its regulators.

Not uncommon for a former GOP regulator to criticize Democrats but—unless he’s drawing a pay check from one of the “takings” plaintiffs—I thought Issac’s position quite helpful to their cause.


3 House D’s Team Up; F&F 2.0

Reps. John K. Delaney, D-Md., John Carney, D-Del., and Jim Himes, D-Conn, all members of the House Financial services Committee announced they will reintroduce a bill they’ve been working on since January, which seeks to bridge the ground between the GOP Hensarling (R-Tex.) “Path Act” and the CWJC, Corker (R-Tenn.) Warner (D-Va.) Johnson (D-SD) and Crapo (R-Idaho), both of which barely got reported by their respective chamber banking committees and now languish. 

The new House bill would keep F&F alive, but not in full form, and would hold open the hope for some payoff for investors.


Commentary on Peter Wallison

The AEI’s Peter Wallison, a week or so ago, penned a repeat of his allegations that Fannie and Freddie were the cause of the 2008 financial meltdown, ignoring, once again, the role of the major financial institutions who went outside the F&F systems to create and sell worldwide more than $2 Trillion of worthless private label mortgage backed securities (PLS), which their broker network created. 

A friend offered this pithy description of Wallison‘s work (aided by Ed Pinto’s equally vapid research). 

“Wallison is housing policy's version of a Creationist: ignoring mountains of hard evidence that refute his ideological convictions, while positing a mythologized story that falls flat without a willful suspension of disbelief.  Yet, like Creationists, he has a ready audience for his material.”


Frank Raines Lives and Builds


There's life after the mortgage wars.

Frank Raines, who has long predicted there would be no swift resolution of the future of Fannie and Freddie, moved into venture capital investing nine years ago. 
This week the latest firm he co-founded, Xappmedia ( held a party celebrating the launch of their interactive audio ad service at the headquarters of its launch partner National Public Radio.   

This continues Raines’ interest Raines in technology enabled business since his days at Fannie.  

After reducing Fannie’s own approval time—and therefore that for primary market lenders market--Raines observed that, “It’s sad that it once again takes a month or more to approve a mortgage after we worked for many years to make that process more effective and efficient.”   

His new company creates audio ads that allow people to respond to the ads with their voice.  So a Geico ad might say “if you want to talk to an agent, after the beep, say ‘call now.' ”  

The technology would recognize what you said and then place the call for you.  No more trying to remember 800 numbers.
Good luck, FDR!


Maloni, 7-10-2014 

(The 21 days of “Camp Maloni 2014” soon will end as three west coast Maloni’s return to their home and three east coast Maloni’s retreat to theirs. Three weeks of: swimming, bike riding, Folk Life Festival, Imagination Theater, multiple fireworks events, berry picking, baking pies and making ice cream, road trips to other cousins in Pittsburgh, fishing and catching bass, creek hunting for crayfish,  tent camping and bear/deer sightings, days at Rehoboth, tie-dying, library visits, boxes of popsicles, one call to 911 for lost bike hikers (canceled shortly after they were found by a helpful elderly neighbor), July Fourth face painting and parades, crab and shrimp feasts,  toys and games, sleeping together, fighting, hassling, chasing “Cat,” our dog, and lots of fun which makes families stronger, are behind us for another year. Thanks to Grammy Heidi for being the linchpin that made everything work. Everyone is tired, especially Grammy.)