Friday, December 31, 2010

CHEERS FOR A BETTER NEW YEAR

I spent the last day of this year shopping with my sister for a big staging job we have later next week.  We overflowed  3 shopping carts at the Home Goods store.  Others in line guessed that we must be staging a home - that or just having way too much fun!  We then re-grouped to a restaurant to have lunch and gather our thoughts about what we have and what we still need - this job is a big house with a mother-in-law unit downstairs which we decided to stage with a man cave/party room theme.  And yes.  It is fun!

We are certainly hoping that these two jobs are a signs of a busy new year in our new venture - the shopping is enjoyable, but expensive and it is hard to know what to keep and what to return when we are unsure of the number of jobs we may have at any given time and how long the homes may remain on the market with our inventory inside! 

My "day job" may go full time soon, too.  As I know I have mentioned over and over, Tom wants me to be the one to bring in the medical benefits so we don't have to fund them through his business.  The hotel offers benefits for 4 shifts per week and someone has left - unfortunately, she is the other Saturday/Sunday person.  We are trying to figure out if there is a way to make me full-time by working double shifts every weekend for the time being.  Crazy, but I would do it...

As for the New Year's Eve happenings - we are home, I am cooking and I can't say if I will see the ball drop as 2011 is welcomed.  I will say that I am much happier and healthier going into this new year than the last.  I wish the best to all my friends!

Monday, December 27, 2010

HOLIDAY FAST ONES

1.)   Hilda keeps going over to the packages Maggie sent and sniffing them.  She has shown no interest in the gifts until Maggie's were put under the tree.  She can smell her missing person.

2.)   My sister and I got another call for a staging job - who knew the holidays would be our busy season?

3.)   At our company holiday party there was one of those gift drawings where people can steal the gift you got. I opened a 15 pound box of See's candy!  I had no idea they even made them that big.  I felt very sure someone would steal it and it would not cause a temptation for me or a sugar coma for Tom and Ally.  And what did I end up with after it was stolen from me?  A scale!!  Much more appropriate.

4.)  Zac and Maggie cooked up a plan to have Maggie home for Christmas!  She visited us live via Skype on Christmas morning.  We got to share our usual morning of oohs and ahhs and thank yous while we opened each other's gifts.  It was really great!

5.)  It seems that all my hard work and thought going into gifts for the family paid off.  Everyone seems to be happy with their stuff and there is only 1 size exchange necessary.

6.)  With Maggie across the country, Ally took on some of the "Santa" duties (meaning filling my stocking which was empty for many years as my hubby is not up to dealing with it.)  She remarked at how much work it was to come up with stocking stuffers.  Bit by bit they start understanding the amount of work that goes in to making the "magic" every year!

7.)  On to the New Year's festivities and taking down, putting away all the decorations and new things.  The house always seems so plain for a few days after everything is packed up...but it is a good start to the new year to clean up and organize.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MY BLOGGIE FRIENDS!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

HOLIDAY DECORATIONS I COULD HAVE USED

Christmas tree options wall sticker.   Can you imagine how easy?  Just peel and stick to the wall, stack the gifts underneath and done!



I think a small flock of these flamingos would be very festive on the front lawn.  Beats the heck out of those deer...



Or maybe this creepy ornament for the tree?






I love this bunny doorstop which comes unadorned in simple white ceramic.  He comes with a pair of boots and the Santa hat beard combo to be added during the holiday season!



A non-traditional gingerbread house for those on the skids...





A wreath decorated with obsolete computer parts - we all have obsolete electronics around the house.  This might be my DIY for next year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

WORK, WORK, WORK - THEN THE FUN

I am feeling my weekend today.  My sister and I  had a staging job which we completed this weekend because of her hectic schedule during the week.  So I spent most of the day Saturday and Sunday moving furniture and making beds and running out to various stores for things ( light bulbs, plants, bathmats, etc.),  and then came home, changed clothes and went to work from 3-11 at the hotel.  I am pooped. 

I have 4 days to recover before our big family dinner on Friday night.  I hope that we have as much fun during our get together as these folks in this story my mom sent me:



This is an article submitted to a 1999 Louisville Sentinel contest to find out


who had the wildest Christmas dinners. It won first prize.


*Christmas With Louise*

As a joke, my brother Jay used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace before Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them. What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Jay's kids' stockings overflowed, his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty. One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don't sell those things at Wal-Mart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown.

If you've never been in an X-rated store, don't go. You'll only confuse yourself. I was there an hour saying things like, "What does this do?" "You're kidding me!" "Who would buy that?" Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section. I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane during rush hour. Finding what I wanted was difficult. "Love Dolls" come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I'd only seen in a book on animal husbandry. I settled for "Lovable Louise." She was at the bottom of the price scale. To call Louise a "doll" took a huge leap of imagination. On Christmas Eve and with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life. My sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning hours. Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling pantyhose with Louise's pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. I went home, and giggled for a couple of hours. The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more.

We all agreed that Louise should remain in her panty hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner. My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door. "What the hell is that?" she asked.

My brother quickly explained, "It's a doll." "Who would play with something like that?" Granny snapped. I kept my mouth shut. "Where are her clothes?" Granny continued. "Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran," Jay said, to steer her into dining room. But Granny was relentless. "Why doesn't she have any teeth?" Again, I could have answered, but why would I? It was Christmas and no one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, "Hang on Granny, hang on!" My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said, "Hey, who's the naked gal by the fireplace?" I told him she was Jay's friend. A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting. It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home.

The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the mantel, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa. The cat screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants.

Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car. It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember. Later in my brother's garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the cause of Louise's collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh. Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health.

Friday, December 17, 2010

HOLIDAY HOME TOUR 2010


Welcome to our home, all dressed up for the holiday season.  This year I rested some of my usual decorations and bought aand made a few new things.  I decorated with red, green and silver. 





I was inspired to make this garland by a magazine photo.  I found a big container of these mixed ornaments at the hardware store back in October and started planning my theme back then!






This is a close-up of one of the ornament clusters made with the mixed ornaments.  The mix even included stars, snowflakes and bells!  It was a real find.  I purchased the red and silver garland from the same store.







I found some red snowflakes to add to the mix.







The view from my kitchen.









A close-up of the china cabinet.






The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, except for Maggie's which is spending Christmas in New Jersey this year.







My little collection.








A tablescape.




So that is it for this year.  I hope you enjoyed touring my little house and all the holiday sparkle.

Enjoy the holiday season and have a Happy New Year!

For more home tours, join our hostess  Jen on the Edge here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DOGGIE LOVE

When we  were putting ornaments on the tree we put one for our dear little dachshund, Hilda right up front and center.  I think Hilda being 14 and a bit blind and deaf makes us all the more aware that our years with her are getting limited.

This summer we had to get rid of the area rug we had in our living room because she spent last winter using it when she didn't wait to go out to the yard and when the grass in the yard was wet and she didn't want to walk on, much less squat in, wet grass.  Believe me, I tried everything to dissuade her from that practice and to clean up after those episodes.  I really liked that rug. 

Once the rug was gone, she could no longer get enough "purchase" on the floor to jump up onto the furniture.  Which is fine,  better for her back, actually.  Except that we have never forbidden the furniture so when we were around she is constantly pestering us to pick her up, then she jumps down and wants back up, then jumps down and on and on.  We have grown tired of this.  So I have been looking for a solution, other than those cheesy, yet expensive, carpeted steps they sell for pets.

I ended up, at least for the time being, with a cat scratcher thingy.  It is the perfect size ramp for Hilda.  She climbs up and onto the ottoman and then can choose whichever seat she wants.  Usually the one most recently vacated by someone and therefore pre-warmed.

And speaking of pre-warmed, the bed there in the photo?  It has a heating pad under it which is switched on all winter...Spoiled?  Not our doggie.

Friday, December 10, 2010

FRIDAY FAST ONES

1.)  NOW the Democratic caucus decides to, as the vernacular goes, GROW A PAIR???  They had two years, a forward looking President, the backing of the American public and they couldn't get off their thumbs long enough to keep the promises made to roll back tax breaks for the richest 10% of the country.  But now that the President has been shamed and bullied and has come up with a compromise which will allow the jobless benefits to be extended...NOW they stand up and say no tax cuts for the wealthy?  Really?

2.)  Got all dressed up Thursday and went down to the hotel for the employee holiday lunch...except they had postponed it until December 22.  The peril of working only 2 days a week is being left out of the loop...that and a wee small paycheck.

So - all dressed up an nowhere to go?  I went to the mall.  I usually avoid the mall in December but I headed for one store only with a mission in mind.  Me.  I splurged and bought myself some cute tops suitable for holiday festivities.

3.)  I have the house decorated and now I am working on my photos for the Holiday Home Tour hosted by Jen on the Edge.  Come visit next Friday to see homes all over the country all dressed up for the holidays!  If you are still looking for inspiration she has linked last year's tour.  If you want to join in, sign up by December 13.

I don't really get the angle - but the background tells the story!



4.)  Maggie had a wonderful time on her trip to France with her boyfriend and his parents.  She was not able to do all the things she would have liked since the trip was planned around fine dining and wine tasting - not that she didn't enjoy those things!  She is just ready to go back to see more sights and museums and do the shopping she didn't get to do.  I volunteered to be her travel companion!

5.)  Since Maggie took time off from her job - she will not be able to come home for the holidays this year.  I am actually feeling okay about it,  I am more worried that she won't have a nice holiday than I am about missing her. 

But Ally is having a hard time.  When I hung the stockings and Maggie's was not there she was very upset and wanted me to hang it - but she understood when I said I was filling it and mailing it to Maggie.  It has always been her favorite part of the gifts - the little goodies in the stocking.  So I wouldn't think of making her go without!  Now if I could figure out how to ship Monkey bread so it was hot and gooey on Christmas morning I would feel a lot better about things...


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

ONE OF THOSE MEMORABLE DAYS


Photo taken the day John Lennon Was shot.
 I don't remember the date until it comes up each year, but the day John Lennon was killed is one of those days which I will always remember.  I was living in San Diego - I had recently moved back there to an apartment in Pacific Beach because I was preparing to start law school.  I was seeing a guy then who was a few years older than me.  He called - stunned by the news.  We shared our thoughts, feelings, memories.  Both of us recalled the feelings we had when Bobbie Kennedy and Martin Luther King were shot.  Those tragedies which marked our teens still left tender places in our hearts.

Whenever I think of this day I also think of the impact The Beatles had on my life.  My first boy-girl party in 5th grade where we listened to Meet the Beatles over and over.  The albums marked my growing up years - the years of change and evolution in my life and in the world. 

 As a suburban girl, I was introduced to a larger world by the travels and experiences of the Beatles which they shared in their lyrics.  I am thinking of the Magical Mystery Tour and the references not just to drugs but to meditation and spirituality.  I received the coveted White Album for Christmas when I was 16.  A double album.  I had the song "I Will" from that album played at my wedding.  I am not a music critic or at all knowledgeable about these things except for my feelings and memories all tied up and connected with the songs of Lennon and McCartney.

I think John Lennon was a genius.  I think The Beatles was the best and most important music group ever.  I wish John Lennon had been allowed to live longer so that we could all have experienced more of what he had to give - and so his children and the woman who loved him could have shared their lives with him.

Maybe it is partly my current mood about our politics right now - it just seems like so many who had so much promise have been taken from us - those of us in my age group feel it especially keenly because we were so touched by these men.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

DEMS FAIL TO KEEP PROMISES AGAIN

 I have been reading a bit on the analysis of the reasons the Democrats in Congress did not push ahead to keep the promises to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy when hey had their chances earlier on during the Obama administration.  As usual, it was a failure of intelligent, gutsy leadership.  Instead of taking advantage of both their majority and the backing and support of the majority of the American people to let the tax cuts for the wealthy expire, they decided to put off the discussion until after the mid-term elections for fear they would be painted by the FauxFox News brush as anti-American tax and spend liberals and not get re-elected.  Well, they didn't get re-elected anyway and now they have lost their advantage, nerve and opportunity to bring billions of dollars into our coffers.

Now that the Republicans have refused to extend unemployment benefits ( and are threatening not to ratify the START treaty with Russia to prevent nuclear proliferation) they have the Dems over a lame duck barrel.  We all know that those benefits must be extended.  We can't have an unemployment rate of 10% and 8 million jobs gone and no safety net for those living inside the nightmare of those statistics.

Obama, who was overwhelmingly elected on a platform to extend only the tax cuts for income below $250,000, maintains that the estimated $670 billion difference between his plan and the Republicans' is unaffordable given our long-term budget deficit. He also notes that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has found lower tax rates to be the least effective economic stimulus proposal of 11 ideas it considered.  But that will not stop this proposal from being passed.

Makes me wish there was a viable alternative to being a registered Democrat.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

BIRTHDAY MONEY FROM MOM!

My mom and I were talking a while back about our efforts to economize.  She said that dad wanted her to stop sending birthday checks to everyone but she wanted to continue with that tradition.  I must say that with 5 children, 4 spouses and 14 grandchildren - those are a lot of checks to send out every year.  But I am always so happy to see that check tucked inside my birthday card - even at my advanced age!

So what did I spend my birthday money on this year? Do you even need to ask? Shoes, of course!


I don't know why but I just wanted some oxford style shoes.  I think I just have so many cute little flats that my shoe wardrobe needed an injection of menswear style.  One of the comments on the Zappos site where I found them said that they were much better looking in person than in the photo - and they were right!  They are actually kind of dainty looking, and so soft.  Thanks Mom & Dad!!



I also had a credit at DSW and with my new job requiring me to be on my feet, like my old job did, I knew that some new Merrels were in order.  The ones I have now are about 7 years old and scuffed up.  I wear them around the house  but they are not suitable for wearing to work, so I have a new pair of these, too.

Friday, December 3, 2010

FRIDAY FAST ONES

1.) Had my birthday this week.  Ally took me to breakfast and my sister took me to lunch so I couldn't kvetch much about making dinner - though Ally was incensed that Tom wasn't interested in taking me out!  The waiter at il Fornaio where we had lunch brought some ice cream with a candle.  I won't say what I wished for...but you can't win if you don't buy a ticket.  And yeah, someone else is going to have to wish for world peace...

2.)  Ally and I were talking about healthy foods and she told me that a girl in one of her classes was going on one day about how much she liked brown rice.  Ally said "Really?" to the girl (I have never been able to get her to eat it) and the girl said "Oh, yeah, I always order it when we get Chinese food."  Ally suggested that maybe she was talking about fried rice?  The girl said "It might be fried but it's brown."  Ally continues to be amazed by the cluelessness of her classmates...

3.)  I was looking through some Etsy gift Guides for some stocking stuffer ideas for Tom and Zac.  Men are so hard to buy little sticking stuffers for, compared to girls anyway.  Most of the stuff featured was way too metrosexual or hipster or expensive.  Then I found  this list "What He Would Like for Christmas."  Since the women wearing the lingerie don't come with it - I'm not sure my guys would appreciate it!  But a lot of it would certainly be small enough for a stocking stuffer.

4.)  Again I am working a job which takes me out of the house during the dinner hours.  My husband tends to fall apart if hot food isn't served on a plate to him each night.  Even though I leave instructions about what is in the frig to eat, he will make a sandwich or eat cold things directly out of the containers rather than go to the trouble of heating it and putting it on a plate.

 Last night I made his favorite Goulash in the crock pot.  I cooked the noodles and left them on the stove with instructions on how to warm them and serve up his dinner (Ally was working, too.)  I got home at 11:15 pm and the crock pot was still on - the goulash simmering away.  I guess I need to leave instructions about how to turn off the appliances and put the leftovers away, too.  Geez.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

MEN LOVE RED LIPS

There are two things I must do before I leave the house.  Put on some mascara and lipstick.  And even if the fashion is for pale lips - mine are painted shades of red.  I love bright lips and apparently, so do men.

In a recent study by Manchester University, men are most drawn to a woman's lips over any other facial features.  Dr Geoff Beattie, who led the research said   "The research suggests that red lips and perceived attractiveness are still inextricably linked, with red lipstick proving to be the most powerful attractor and significantly increasing visual fixation."


Manchester University carried out the research by tracking the eye moments of 50 men as they were presented with images of different women. The research concluded that if women wore lipstick, the men gazed at their lips for an average of seven seconds. Research further showed, he would spend just 0.95 seconds looking at their eyes and 0.85 seconds studying their hair.  Men spend 6.7 seconds of the first ten staring at women with pink lipstick, while red lips attracted 7.3 seconds of the first ten, the study found.

For all the natural beauties - when women wore no makeup, the male attention was spread more evenly among all the facial features.

My current favorite lipstick is Korres Wine Red.  Second favorite is Burt's Bees Fig.  What's yours?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

WHAT'S UP

I am just completely without any writing inspiration these days.  I am tired of politics and all the complaining and excuse making.  I would talk about my new job but it is probably boring to anyone but me (training is going well and I like it!)  I am itching to start decorating (just for something new and different) but will wait until it is December, at least.

Had a fun Thanksgiving dinner with my sisters and families.  Lot's of champagne and silliness.  The kind of silliness I am a bit embarrassed to print here!  Although I am not the one who was biting or squirting whipped cream - I did participate in the penis game with all the females in attendance including my young nieces.  Ally started it...  We had to explain to my sister Nancy that we learned it from the movie "500 Days of Summer", which we loved.  However, it may not have been the most appropriate thing for Thanksgiving with a couple of girls under the age of 12.  Ah, well.  The menfolk just watched football and shook their heads whilst drinking expensive microbrewery beer.

So now we move on to December.  I have my birthday on Wednesday which is nice, although I am not thrilled with how much closer to 60 I am getting.  They say something about "sixty being the youth of old age"  so 57 must be the old age of my youth!

Oh well,  this is why I have not been writing much.  I have been wandering around my head.  Soon I will be writing about what I had for lunch...

Friday, November 19, 2010

FRIDAY FAST ONES

1.)  Have you seen the story about the man who is suing the family of the boy he killed?  The 14 year-old  boy was riding his bike on a busy street with a 45 mile speed limit and was not wearing a bike helmet.  The man was driving his car at a speed of 83 miles an hour.  He was convicted of manslaughter and is currently serving 10 years in prison.  He is suing the parents for $15,000 for causing him "great mental and emotional pain and suffering" and inhibiting his "capacity to carry on in life's activities." 

I think it is pretty clear that a bike helmet would have done very little to save the life of this child and I hope that the family does not have to spend very much in attorney fees before a judge tosses this case out as a frivolous waste of the court's time and for the additional pain it puts on those parents.

2.)  The more attention we focus on the TSA touching or looking at our "junk" the less is focused on the fact that it doesn't make us any safer in the first place if they are not doing more to check the luggage and freight going into the hold of the plane.  We are a country of 6th graders when it comes to this stuff. Completely focused on our junk and oblivious to what could really be a problem.


So little media time and attention was given to the actual bombs in the computer printers that could have brought down planes in comparison to showing these titillating pictures of  body scans and people being patted down at the airport.  On the other hand...maybe when people get fed up with stripping down and getting felt up, they will get wise and demand that the TSA get busy  looking at the freight and baggage as carefully - than we will really be safer in the air.

3.)  Ally was accepted to San Francisco State University.  She is thrilled.  It was her first choice.  She is shopping for her sweatshirt and window sticker.  We are all very proud of her because her test scores surely helped with the early acceptance.

4. )  I managed to score a very part time job at a lovely little boutique hotel in our lovely little downtown.  Just working 2 evenings a week at the front desk.  It may work into something full time and it may not.  At least it gives me some new and more recent experience (heaven knows I can't use the last place!) and some income.

Something else new to try.  I'm looking forward to it!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

HARRY POTTER FANS FOREVER

Ally has been shrieking every time there has been an ad for the new Harry Potter movie for the last  month or so.  She has had her tickets since the first day they went on sale.  Each time Rupert Grint appears on a talk show or other appearance she informs us she plans to marry him and have ginger babies.


Ally and her friend are all dressed up in their Harry Potter tees and ready to go sit in line for the midnight showing of the latest epic movie.  Ally is taking her Hogwarts snuggy to keep warm.


And her wand to keep entertained. Can you tell they are drama  kids? 

Monday, November 15, 2010

AT HOME WITH A TEEN

I came downstairs last night to find Ally writing her essay on "Lord of the Flies" while baking cookies to take to school.  I guess she was too tired to get up and move from room to room...or to sit up...

Friday, November 12, 2010

FRIDAY FAST ONES

1.) I have decided that I need to give up on buying the generics and store brands.  I keep ending up with products that are so inferior that I feel ripped off even though I saved a bit of money.  I think the days are long gone when the big companies just packaged their goods under store labels.

2.)  I think I have PTSD of sorts.  Except it is "Post Election Advertising Stress Disorder".  Every time a new ad comes on when I am watching TV I have a gut reaction to mute the sound.  I started doing that about 10 months ago when I got so tired of hearing Meg Whitman's voice...

3.)  Don't hate me but I am  about 85% done with my Christmas shopping.  A combination of keeping the lists short, using my final paycheck and having time to shop.

4.)  On one of the many sites I read occasionally I ran across this post by a woman in my age group who resorted to starting her own business because she needed income and found it difficult getting hired - sound familiar?  Then I saw what she is selling - even more familiar!  But I have looked very closely at Etsy and e-Bay and mosaics just don't sell well. I also had a booth at a local crafts store.   For some reason people like to look at them, admire them, but don't buy them.  So I wish her luck.

5.)  And what will I be doing this sunny and surprisingly warm and dry weekend?  finishing a couple of mosaics!  Perhaps I will post pictures on Monday.  Hope you are happily engrossed in pleasurable activities, too.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

THANKSGIVING FOR A SMALL PLATE

It's a layer cake.  But it isn't dessert.  It's dinner!


 
The layers are made of turkey and stuffing. It's frosted with mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. The turkey is ground, and mixed with instant oatmeal. And the coupe de grace is — wait for it — a topping of mini marshmallows.
 
Think it's a good idea?  Get the recipe here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

FEEL THE FALL

Even though the stores are full of Christmas, it is just starting to feel like fall here.  Now that the kids are older I like decorating for Halloween with a fall look that can stay put through Thanksgiving.

Have you seen  smelled those "witches brooms" they have at Trader Joes and other floral departments?  I love the scent of cinnamon bark!  I bought one and tucked it in behind the scarecrow and the porch smells great.  I also bought one and put it up on top of my china cabinet.  It gives the room a really subtle scent.

Friday, November 5, 2010

FRIDAY FAST ONES

1.)  I love to watch Rachel Maddow because she is so smart and her stories are well researched.  She is polite and professional with her guests; she asked tough questions but does not pander or put them down.  Sometimes I watch Keith Olbermann, too.  I think he is also very smart and his stories have a lot of punch, but I have always felt that he is too bombastic in his style of reporting (okay, I'll just say it, too much like Fox.)  It makes me uncomfortable.  So I was really please that he decided to stop doing one of his nightly segments called Worst Persons in the World.  In response to the Jon Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity,  Olbermann said "the overall message that the tone needs to change, that the volume needs to change, was not lost on any of us. The anger in this news hour was not an original part of it, nor was it an artifice that we added to it."

Good for you Mr. Olbermann!

2.)  My son has made a big decision.  He was very reluctant to share it because he was concerned about our response.  He called it his "early mid-life crisis."  He is 23!  He has realized that although he has planned for many years to become a high school math teacher and is currently finishing his math major, that it is his minor that has taken over his true interest.

He has a minor in Service Learning.  He has been involved with the Service Learning Institute at CSUMB since his freshman year and has been a student teacher for the past 2 years.  (If you click the link that is Zac in the photo!)  So he has decided that he wants to pursue a Masters degree in Equity and Social Justice in Education.  I have been helping him research degree programs as he is incredibly busy completing his senior  capstone project and teaching and getting his butt kicked by Analytical Algebra.

I can't tell you just how proud I am of this guy.  He is a caring, giving young man and he will be a wonderful teacher. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

IS BUSINESS ALWAYS THE "BAD GUY"?

I was really disappointed with some of the things President Obama had to say in his post election press conference this morning.  As usual, the administration is acting like the changeover of some congressional seats is some kind of mandate from "the people" that everything has to be different.  It makes me mad.

One of the reporters asked an excellent question.  He asked what the administration was going to do to get business on board with job creation when they are just holding on to big profits and not spending or hiring, at least not in the US.  Which is true according to an analysis by Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor.  Reich points out that the Fed's "job program" is designed to keep interest rates low so businesses will expand, exports will increase and consumers will refinance their homes. 

But what is really happening is that businesses are sitting on nearly 2 trillion dollars of cash.  They are not using the cash to add jobs because they know consumers can't afford more goods and services.  Businesses are using the cash to  expand capacity abroad, acquire other companies and invest in labor replacing technologies.  Cheaper money allows them to do more of the same.  So the profits of businesses are higher, they are paying lower and lower taxes, if any, and they are not boosting US employment.

 And what is President Obama promising?  To be a bigger booster of American businesses.  He said he thinks business is too often being painted as "bad guys".  “The most important thing we can do is to boost and encourage our business sector and to make sure that they’re hiring.”



Now I don't mind at all if this means small to mid-size businesses who don't have the influence and write-offs that the big guys have.  But it is clear that big business and banks don't intend to be good citizens.  They are out for short term profit and the country be damned.  They say they can't operate profitably within regulatory guidelines, then spend billions on lobbyists and experts who find ways to get around them.  They soak their customers, provide shoddy customer service and more and more of them are treating their employees poorly.

So pardon me for not having sympathy for big business feeling like they are being painted as the "bad guys"  because, quike frankly, for a lot of years now, they have been working hard to earn that reputation.  It is time for that old label of good corporate citizen to come back into play.  And for American businesses to step up and play their part in the recovery of the economy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

DOODLES

Examples of my actual doodles.
I have spent a lot of time on the phone lately.  My 16 year old had her identity stolen, I have been dealing with Comcast, my Quicken account is double charging me and I have been dealing with insurance and dental stuff.  I have scrap paper I use for notes next to the phone and when I was going through all my notes and deciding what I needed to file or toss I noticed all my doodles.

 
I doodle.  I make arrows and put boxes around things.  I make circle after circle and square upon square.  So, being a curious and unemployed person with time on my hands, I looked up what all of that doodling means. I found this interesting article in Time that ties doodlers with fidgeters - HEY!  I'm a fidgeter, too.  The assumption of other, non-doodle/fidget people is that we are bored and not paying attention.  In reality -
doodlers actually remember more than non doodlers when asked to retain tediously delivered information, like, say, during a boring meeting or a lecture.  This according to a new study, which will be published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, psychologist Jackie Andrade of the University of Plymouth in southern England.

Why does doodling aid memory? Andrade offers several theories, but the most persuasive is that when you doodle, you don't daydream. Daydreaming may seem absentminded and pointless, but it actually demands a lot of the brain's processing power.  Doodling, in contrast, requires very few executive resources but just enough cognitive effort to keep you from daydreaming, which — if unchecked — will jump-start activity in cortical networks that will keep you from remembering what's going on. Doodling forces your brain to expend just enough energy to stop it from daydreaming but not so much that you don't pay attention.

So - is there symbolism in doodles like dreams?  Some think so.  It isn't as decisive as handwriting, but it can indicate something about personality and state of mind.  Here are some of the interpretations my usual doodles:

Arrows represent direction and ambition. Drawn aggressively, they represent a desire for action. Drawn in careful outline, they indicate a desire for progression or advancement, especially if pointing upwards. Arrows traditionally have masculine associations.


 Drawing the same shape over and over indicates patience, persistence and the ability to concentrate. After all, how else would you be able to do all this drawing and still understand the English lecture?

Regular patterns from geometric shapes tend to indicate an organised and efficient mind. Triangles are a geometrically stable shape but also suggest direction and sense of purpose.

The circle appears in every culture as an archetypal form representative of the eternal whole. With no ending or beginning, it revolves in an eternal cycle and is linked to the sun-disk and the attendant concepts of the yearly cycle, the moon, and the wheel. In some symbol systems it also represents the universe.

The square represents the formal, mathematical, scientific order of the universe. The square represents earthbound matter, and correspondingly, with its two sides delineating a two-dimensional surface, may symbolize the earth or ground, or a field, especially in eastern pictograms.

So I guess I am organised and purposeful, persistent and desirous of action.  Whatever.

What do you doodle?

Monday, November 1, 2010

GOOD REASONS TO VOTE

This is a good reminder of why it is important for all of us to vote in every election.



And this is the one I wish my parents would follow...

Friday, October 29, 2010

FRIDAY FAST ONES

1.)  I have harassed my daughter living in Philadelphia for having no interest in attending the Jon Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear being held in Washington DC this weekend.  She has shown little interest in DC at all in the years she has lived there despite my constantly professed love for the city and it's museums.  Sigh.

My son and I would go to the rally in a heartbeat.  We would get ideas for cool signs here.

2.)  I admit that I don't watch baseball all the time.  But I have attended a number of Giants games over the years and will call myself a fan.  So- GO GIANTS!!

3.)  Ally got her SAT scores and was surprised to find out that she scored higher than all of her friends.  Why is it you can tell a kid all her life how smart she is and she just fights the idea? 

4.)  If we can believe the polls, it looks like we are going to vote to keep Boxer in the Senate and put Brown in the Governor's office.  Not that they are going to be able to do much to fix California.  We are in a big mess.  At least we won't have amateurs in office with questionable agendas.  And a big bottom line for me is the pro-choice issue.

I like the political sentiment I read somewhere that said something like:  Ok, vote the bums out of office but don't replace them with idiots.

4.)  The upside of losing my job is that I can go to Monterey on Sunday and take my son out to breakfast for his birthday.  What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

TERMINATED

Today I had one of the most humiliating experiences in my life.  I was let go from my new job.  They did not think I was a "good fit".  I did not enter information fast enough and have not learned to do the job to their requirements.  There was more, very non-specific stuff that he said - I was so stunned that I didn't really take it in.

I am so embarrassed and trying hard not to feel like a complete loser.  I am not quick on the keyboard, I never really learned to type.  I had not realized it was causing  problems.  Apparently I was not communicating things properly or to the right people or in the right way - it was not made clear with any examples and no one had corrected me at any point.  So I guess the statement that I was not a "good fit" for them is apt because I did not see this coming.

Is it just possible that I am not employable?  That I don't have the skills and mind set to operate in today's workplace?  I know I am very good at the customer/client interactions, but that is not enough.  I have a lot of education but few skills called for in the workplace now.  I am outdated and feel very uncertain of my future.  Actually, I have felt that way for a long time.  Getting this job seemed so lucky and now I have lost it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

FRIDAY FAST ONES

1.)  I think that it is interesting that an entire generation entered the work place with legal protections from sexual harassment on the job, primarily due to the groundbreaking efforts of Anita Hill to keep her harasser off the Supreme Court.  The Tea Party Activist wife of that man is stirring things up 19 years later looking for an apology.  Anita Hill didn't actually seek to go public with her accusations, her confidential statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee was leaked to the press which unleashed a storm of publicity, hearings and public debate.  Thomas used the race card and managed to squeak by and be affirmed to the Court, but the way that sexual discrimination was viewed from that time forward was different and we have all benefited from that.
 
Anita Hill has nothing to apologise for.  She is a hero in my book.


2.)  Have you tried to buy a pound of hamburger lately?  At least here in CA I am finding it difficult to buy just a simple pound of ground beef - the packages are always somewhere between 1 and 1 1/2 pounds.  So for a recipe which calls for a pound I either have to use more than it calls for or find something to do with this little bit of meat left.  I think I will go back to buying the frozen ground beef from Costco which comes
 in 1 pound "chubs."   I don't use it very often, but at least I will have the amount I want.


3.)  Did you hear about the next trend for Halloween "tricks"?  Scarrots!  Yes, Give a mini bag of mini carrots to the trick or treaters when they come to your door...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

MORE ON BEING A PARENT OF A SENIOR

Beware parents of young children.  You not only need to be saving for college, you need to save for your child's Senior year of high school!

As I complained  posted about before, the escalation of each event in the lives of our kids has gotten ridiculous.  The "Senior Picnic" was held, not in a park with Frisbees and BBQed burgers, but at Waterworld and cost a whopping $85.00.  The payment form for the Senior Grad-Night  presented to me at registration in August was $175.00.  Of course there were other add-ons including a t-shirt stating that I am the parent of a senior for $26.00! 

Now, in October, I am required to pay for the graduation "materials."  After I waded through all the class rings and class hoodies and class memory book and senior jewelry and "bling charms" for the tassel - I am getting closer to the bottom line.  They hide the cost of the simple cap, gown and tassel choice.  It isn't even on the individual items order form!  They are pushing their "packages" so hard that they make it near impossible to compare the prices for what you really want or need.  They have thrown in so many little charges for this and that and require that you order a minimum of 25 of everything.

Finally I located the cost of the cap and gown (which we buy now, not rent like in the olden days.)  That is $24.00 and is required by the school.  To order just the 25 announcements it is $27.25.  ((Last time around, I needed maybe 10 announcements, maybe I can find someone to share a package...)  So to get the minimum it will cost me $51.25.  The "Value Packages" start at $116.10. 

I might not be so outraged  irritated by the whole thing in March.  But they insist on the payment for this now - 8 months before graduation.  And it appears to have nothing to do with the actual graduation items, because they are shipping the "senior celebration" items in 4-6 weeks.  They don't even say when the actual graduation items will be sent.  So they are forcing us to pay for his stuff now in the hopes that we will buy a bunch of other stuff.  Why not just send out a catalog of the other stuff as "holiday gift giving ideas"  and leave the grad stuff closer to graduation? 

Right now I can afford this.  I finally have a job again and my husband is having a good year, too.  I think of how hard this would have been to take last year and I feel for those families who are already wondering how they are going to handle the holidays. 

No one wants to cheap out when it comes to our kids.  My daughter already feels like she is the only one of her friends not "spoiled" by their parents.  But I'll be darned if I am going to give in to this money grab.  I am buying the minimum and no more.  I'll make it up to her in other ways.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

THE LONG NIGHT

Last night at work it was like the pet apocalypse.  We had one case after another come in the door with life threatening problems.  I would up staying until 4 am because it was just so busy at 1 when I usually leave that I just had to stay and help. 

I am learning a great deal about what kinds of things pets can get into which are toxic.  Rat poison is obvious, but did you know that untreated the animal may seem fine for a week or so and then start bleeding internally?  Yikes.  The other new one last night was black walnuts, especially if they are in the husk and moldy.  This time of year the squirrels are carrying them around and storing them for the winter - if they choose your yard and your dog tries to eat one, it can be cause tremors and seizures.  And did you know that Xylitol the artificial sweetener used in gum and candy is very toxic for pets?

The Costco sized bag of Halloween candy consumed by one dog was a sight to see when it (er) came back up with the help of the vet!  A gorgeous standard poodle ate so many cookies that she, too, needed help getting rid of them...'tis the season, I guess.

We had 3 dogs came in which could not be saved, that it so sad to go through with the families, especially the old dogs that have been part of the family for so many years.  Cats, too.  We had one come in that was 22 years old!

Some people had to wait a long time with their less seriously ill pets, with so many critical pets coming in the door (which everyone can, of course, see)  they were so patient and understanding.  I really appreciated that.  Late last week I had my first really obnoxious client.  She was rude and abusive, demanding and selfish.  I was very disappointed to hear her say something about being a teacher.  With people like that you wish you could expose them, but...that's not for me to do.

Thank goodness my dog has been so healthy all these years;  now I see how many thing could have gone wrong.  And oh, how I wish I could nap.  I woke up 5 hours after I went to sleep!

Friday, October 15, 2010

FRIDAY FAST ONES

1.  As the election grows closer and the political ads dominate the airwaves, I have the strong inclination to vote against whatever and whomever have the most money to spend.  You can't trust anything they say, and time after time we find that the big money behind the propositions comes from special interest groups and corporations pushing for their own gain.

2. There are 71 days until Christmas.  This year I have to get used to the idea that all my children will not be home with us.  The practical part of me knows that is to be expected with a daughter on the other side of the country with her first job.  The  rest of me is wondering how I can get her to move back to California so I don't have to be practical.

3.  Ten years ago I got Lasik surgery and I have been happily without glasses for most of those years, but aging eyes continue to require help, so I am getting a new pair of glasses for computer use and distance, I can still read pretty well without glasses.  Finally glasses have gotten cool and it was fun to chose frames with some flair.  They are red wire with little cutout designs on the wings.  The bottom part of the lens is wireless, which I found blends in with my face better and distracts from the wrinkles and crinkles.

4.  We are late to the party, but have discovered "Dexter".  Anyone watch?  We have almost gotten through all the previous season's episodes and will probably start watching the current season next week.  The only other new show I am watching is the HBO series "Boardwalk Empire."

5.  Ally has sent out her first college application.  She is struggling a bit with others and trying to decide where she would like to go as back-ups to her first choice.  I have put my foot down and said I would only pay the application fee for schools she would actually attend if accepted!  The California schools are so broke that instead of allowing multiple school choices on one application, we have to pay and apply to each.

When are we going to wake up and recognise that we are going to pay one way or the other?  If we refuse to pay higher taxes, we are going to be hit for fees and rising costs for everything to male up for the shortfall.  Are we all so brainwashed that we think all these things we rely on from the state and federal government are going to continue without being funded somehow?  It is fine for me to pay for each college application, but we all have to contribute for the roads, the teacher salaries, the parks and yes, even the "welfare" programs like childcare subsidies.

We all pay - be it in lost services, reduced availability of education, enforcement of civil rights, enforcement of laws and regulations, increased personal miseries of homelessness, lack of medical and psychiatric care ad the despair and lawlessness that follow.  We all pay. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

WORK, WORK, WORK

I only work 3 nights a week.  I have pretty much the whole day before I go to work to get things done.  In reality, I am only up working about 3 hours more than I would have been up watching TV or reading at home.

Why does my life feel so different? 

I am more tired.  Getting off work at 1 am does not mean I am asleep by 1:30.  I need time to unwind.  This does not mean that I sleep in every morning, however.  I am not one for sleeping once the sun fills the room.  I close the blinds, but somehow my body knows.  Sleeping until 8:30-9 is the best I can do.  And I can't nap.  Tried all my adult life, just doesn't happen.

I am feeling selfish about my time.  I don't want to spend all day cleaning and taking care of everyone when I know I have to go to work at 4:30.  I want to have some energy for work.  When I used to come home from work I was tired and did stuff for everyone, but then I could drag myself off to bed early.  The other women who have the same job say they sleep all day and do pretty much nothing on workdays.  Compared to them, I do a lot, including making dinner for my husband and daughter before I leave.

Work is hard.  I still have a lot to learn to do my job well.  I have made mistakes big and small.  Sometimes I feel I am not up to the expectations of the company, sometimes I am bored and sit with nothing to do.  Sometimes I really miss my old job.  It is stressful and tiring, and I do realize that it will be easier in time, it already is.

All in all I know I just need to give myself some time to get into the groove and find the right balance of activity and rest.  The work can be very fulfilling - helping people gives me a great deal of pleasure, the staff is caring and professional.  After a year and a half of unemployment, these are not insurmountable problems!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

WHAT'S GOING ON

My computer crashed and it looks like it is a goner.  Getting a new (used) one soon - meantime, I am without access.

Also, we are going off to the beach for a few days to celebrate our 26th anniversary.  Hope to be up an on line when I get back in town.

Friday, September 24, 2010

WALKING WITH HILDA

I took Hilda for a walk yesterday.  I don't do this very often because of her advanced years and back problems, I wait until she has days when she is especially active and interested in something other than occasionally adjusting her napping position.

Because she is getting a bit blind and quite hard of hearing, she is paranoid when outdoors in wide open spaces.  Her nose works, so she can smell other dogs and things, but she does not trust her other senses to know the proximity of the things she smells.  When we walk, her normally non-stop wagging tail is tucked in and her head swivels from side to side taking in the possibility of ambush.  Sometimes she slows and takes a long look behind her.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I am not torturing her by taking her for a walk, she LOVES going out.  She just trots along happily.

Usually I go to our Sports Park because it is a nice 2.5 mile loop, away from traffic noise and a pleasant park.  But lots of people walk their dogs there and I think it might be more stressful for Hilda.  So I found a new trail that I walked yesterday.  It is in a more rural setting and we were the only ones there.  I usually wear my iPod, but I decided not to.  It was a beautiful cool morning and there was a breeze and I enjoyed hearing the leaves scuttling around.  I saw lizards and squirrels (fortunately Hilda did not see them.)  I love the smell of the dry grasses. 

On the return loop back to the car I was really into the whole experience.  The blue of the sky, the smells, thinking about the changes the Fall would bring soon.  A huge hawk took off from one of the oak trees and was gliding across the open field.  It was such a perfect finish to our outing to see this elegant creature. Then it dropped the longest, whitest spray of bird poo I have ever seen as it soared off.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

NEW STUDY ON OBESITY "COSTS"

Have you read he latest study on the "costs" of obesity? There are many interesting statistics which have been pulled together from a number of other studies and put into a report by George Washington University researchers. Most of it we have heard over and over about the health care costs being higher and work productivity being lower. This report even adds in the cost of clothing and gas - guess what? Higher.


One thing that makes me mad is that they report that wages for overweight women are lower than wages for overweight men. Men are not penalized for their weight in the workplace, at least when it comes to salary, but women are. Dig deeper in the study and you see that you are less likely to even be hired if you are overweight and white. The highest number of overweight women working are African American.

They do not examine the attitudes behind the lower salary and hiring decisions. I am sure they want it everyone to think it is all about the numbers. But it is well known that working mothers miss more days of work than working fathers because that is how families traditionally handle sick children. If the woman happens to be overweight - she is counted for this as being related to "obesity." Thus overweight women have higher absenteeism. These studies don't scratch the statistic to find the reality underneath and that bothers me.

In the study they suggest more research needs to be done on the reason health care costs are lower for obese African American women. They also admit that more needs to be done to break out the gender related medical costs. You think? Women, by virtue of our biology have higher medical costs, what with child birth and all. Tossing all of that together and calling it obesity related is very misleading and self serving.

Just as misleading is assuming that every medical intervention has to do directly with one's weight. My skinny sister has sleep apnea and so do I, but I am sure mine is "related to my obesity" in some statistic somewhere.

I know I am pretty sensitive on this subject. I am very healthy. I missed one day of work for sickness in five years. My health issues do not relate solely to my weight. (ie: I know that my knees will be happier when I lose more but my bad knees are genetic and I am in my mid 50's.)   I do not have heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.


I am tired of feeling like I am the scum of the earth, the cause of our societal problems and that I deserve all the trouble I had getting a job because I am fat. I am tired of being a scapegoat along with the smokers, welfare cheats and  illegal immigrants. Even the bankers are treated more nicely...