Friday, July 30, 2010


1. The job interview went very well.  It was pretty informal and was apparently the screening before the more formal interview with the higher up management person.  So I think I might be asked back for another interview.  I seemed to hit the right notes with the two women who interviewed me.  Thanks for the good wishes and I'll keep you posted...

2.  Since some have asked.  The business my sister and I are starting is a Home Staging business for people putting their houses on the real estate market.  My sister Polly is an interior designer and has been doing some staging and wants to expand that part of her business, but with 3 youngsters at home she is really busy - I am not so busy and have the marketing skills - so it is a good fit! 

I am building a website, a blog and writing marketing materials.  If I get a full time job, I will not be able to do what I would like to help the business, but I will do what I can evenings and weekends.  If I don't get a full time job, I will make the business my full time job and help with the staging and the face to face marketing to Realtors.  I will also market my organizing abilities on an hourly basis for people who don't have time to clean closets and cupboards before selling their homes.

3.  I went to the doctor about my knee pain and had x-rays.  As my sister predicted it is osteo-arthritis, which is the pre-cursor to the cartilage  breaking down which leads to the knee replacements which run in our family.  I spent time with the physical therapist working on exercises and talking about whether glucosamine really works, she takes it, so I guess I'll keep on taking it, too.

We talked about the new study using stem cells to grow cartilage which they are hoping will mean we can grow our own knee replacements!  Someday...

4.  Ally is done with summer school so I am going to see if I can haul her to off to the gym with me.  Then I need to fortify the fence around my tomato plants because the critters keep stealing my crop.  The dog needs a bath and I have a pile of ironing.  Oh the glamour! 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


My sister Polly and I have decided on a name for our new company.  I have registered our domain name, started designing our website and blog.  I signed up for an e-mail account.  We are deciding on fonts and colors and styles.  I am writing, writing, writing for brochures, website, price lists.  We are planning how to organize our inventory.  We have been interviewing people in the field to learn more for our marketing plan.  We are very excited and jazzed up about our new venture!

And what happened?  Out of the blue I got an e-mail from a company to come in for a job interview.  I had a great conversation with the HR woman a couple of months ago, but my test scores didn't qualify me for the position they were filling at that time and she kept my resume...

A job interview is not a job offer, as I well know.  Tom, however, is expecting me to go after this job opportunity because it comes with full benefits.  Considering that I just paid $365 for a filling for Ally (she needs another filling done and I have been putting it off because, well, no dental insurance for the past 7 years...)  I can't say as I blame him for his insistence.

So, I finally have something I am excited about doing  AND I must go into an interview tomorrow afternoon and be convincing that I want to become an Insurance Verification Specialist.  Friends out there in blogland, please send out your positive thoughts.

One way or the other would be fine.

Monday, July 26, 2010


I have been busily writing a business plan and helping my sister finish her mosaic before she leaves on vacation so I have not posted...but Maggie sent me a link to this darling and not to be missed site.

Take a few minutes and enjoy the cuteness of  Mila's Daydreams.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


My sister Nancy has been coming over to work on her first mosaic project.  She's been very ambitious and is working on two projects at once - a small birdhouse and covering a large concrete globe that is part of a fountain in her backyard.

Working on a large round object is very time consuming because you can only do a bit at a time and then you have to wait for it to dry before you can shift it to work on another part because the tiles slip and slide around.  So she has been coming over for a few hours here and there for a few weeks - which is fun for me to spend time with her!  I have to be more careful though - today I hit my thumb with a hammer because I was yakking and not paying attention - ouch.

Now she has gotten the mosaic bug and has been spending lots of money on tile and stuff - so my brother in law may not be too happy with me.  Oh, well.    Good for the economy, right?

I have been busy finishing a few projects and starting a new big pot.  I finished a new birdbath for my yard because I gave the first one I made to my sister Polly.  I finished the pot I made to match the umbrella, and planted it with geraniums.

I am happy that I have been spending more time away from the computer, up in my mosaic area and enjoying the summer months.  I was so stressed out last year about my joblessness that the summer went by without much enjoyment.  This year I will have lots of nice projects to show for it and will have spent some quality time with my sister.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I realized the other day that this problem with the dog barking when I am out of the house has had me on edge to the point that I stay home all the time.  I go to the gym and hurry home.   I wait until someone is home before I run to the store.  Finally this morning I decided to get out of the house!  The dog will survive in her crate and I have a long list of things I need to do.

I noticed more and more women wearing gloves while driving their cars.  I think most if not all of them were Asian women, but I didn't see all of the drivers faces.  Is this a new thing?  I assume they are keeping their hands from freckling in the sun.  Sunscreen isn't enough?  Has anyone seen this?

They had completely changed Target around.  They have some cool new shopping carts!  It was quite an adventure trying to find things.  Who knew that the garbage bags would be in the pharmacy rather than with the cleaning supplies?

And why is Target turning into a grocery store?  This particular Target is right across the street from a huge Safeway, so it isn't like there is nowhere else to buy groceries.  Plus, the stuff they are selling is the processed, frozen and junky food that people are better off avoiding.  Convenience over quality, I guess.

On the plus side, I found something I have been hoping existed.  We now have a green waste can, so instead of putting food things down the disposal, we  save them for the green can.  But all those veggie scraps and tea bags and fruit pits get wet and slimy in the little can under the sink before I carry it out.  I have lined it with paper bags, but they break through.  Glad now has little compostable and biodegradable bags to line the can with and they aren't expensive.  Hurrah!

I finally broke down and bought a pair of "Spanks."  It sort of defeated the fact that I scored a nice polo style dress from Lands End for $20.00 to spend about that much on an undergarment to make it look better on me, but I am likely the last woman of my age group (any age group?) to own some.  My sister assures me that no matter what size, all women over 45 need these things to smooth out the indignities of aging.  And I constantly hear these skinny celebrities claiming they owe it all to spanks - yeah, right!

I hit Home Depot and stopped in to the bike store to get the special nutrition thingies Tom likes and then I went to Sweet Tomatoes and had a salad bar lunch.  I have not been there in ages.  I enjoyed my lunch out and then picked up a few groceries and headed home.

Hilda survived and I  enjoyed being out and about for a change. 

Friday, July 16, 2010


1.)  My son is an old hand at leading summer camps, but this year is different.  In the past he has worked with teens, now each week he has a different age group.  The week he had 4-6 year-olds he was really out of his element.  He commented on how fun they were, how open and excited they were about everything.  The only problem was that there was this one kid who cried when his mom left in the morning.  It was always a scene.

I told him that was pretty common for that age group.  He just grumbles about what a pain this kid is.  I said "Zac, just remember the next time you have one of those kids... YOU were that kid."

2.)  After all the worry and gathering of statements from neighbors and preparation for the hearing about Hilda's barking citation; the man who complained got up and said it was all much better now and please drop the fine.  I still had to get up and give my spiel, which I edited down considerably and it all ended with the Judge commending me for our efforts and the City Attorney recommending the fine be dropped and smiles all around.

3.)  I have been helping my youngest sister, Polly, with a couple of her recent home staging jobs.  She is an interior designer, but with the economic downturn, she has been getting calls for these jobs to prepare homes for sale, rather than for homeowners looking to spend a bunch of money decorating.  We have enjoyed working together and she has proposed our starting a business together.  I am researching the possibilities.  Tom wants me to get a job with benefits, though, so he is not happy with the idea.

So my dilemma is whether to pursue this idea without his "blessing" or just keep plugging away at the job market that doesn't seem to want me...

4.)  On the weight loss and fitness side.  I crossed my legs this morning.  Just like that.  Sat down with my cup of tea, put on the Today show and crossed my right leg over my left.  Please realize that I have not been able to do that in YEARS.  When you have big thighs and a big tummy, you cannot do that.  I didn't even realize I could do it, and I did it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


When I am restless and not wanting to clean something, read my book, and there is no good TV (hurry up Mad Men!) I find myself spending more time looking around at sillier and sillier websites.

This is from a site called "My Food Looks Funny" there are some amazing things there. Some are creative like this melon shark, some are natural phenomenas:

Some have been helped along by someone with a creative eye:

Then there are always the baby zoo animals which will make you feel better on any day, no matter how crummy.  There is frequently video, as there is of this baby otter.

Then I go over to The Sartorialist to see how the tres chic are dressing these days:

Then I might jump over to  Brand Freak to see what the corporations are up to when it comes to new products and marketing.  We have this to look forward to hearing about on all the news shows with a tie in to the war on obesity.  Maybe someone needs to talk to the fast food chains about that war...

And a good surf would not be complete without a stop in to There, I Fixed It.

And then there is Poorly Dressed People.  The photo is suggested as a good screen saver for an unsuspecting co-worker!

Well, enough of my wandering the web.  What have you found there lately?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Just when you thought we were all getting the messages about healthy, fresh foods comes the Candwich!

Yes, a sandwich in a can. It has a "long shelf life" and requires no refrigeration which makes it perfect for emergency food storage in case of natural disaster! Also great for soccer moms and outdoor enthusiasts!

Can you imagine your kids popping open one of these canned PB&J sandwiches at school? Your husband prying out the BBQ Chicken Sandwich at his desk?
Can you imagine the preservatives in play to keep those things from going bad?

Monday, July 12, 2010


I live in a moderate sized suburban city near the old downtown area. Which is basically the several original city blocks with some of the fist building still preserved and filled with restaurants and boutiques. The real business of the city goes on in the business parks scattered around the neighborhoods which grew around downtown.

It is quiet here. We have the train going by, the occasional siren, dogs barking. We can hear the loudspeaker in the high school football stadium if the wind is blowing the right direction. Sometimes when driving around there is a young man with one of those booming sound systems in his car. On Friday nights in the summer there is a free concert in the park, but they have to shut the speakers down by 8pm.

So this morning when I stopped in to the ATM outside the bank and hear a car horn honk I was so startled I jumped. Not a sound I am accustomed to hearing! No one honks in Pleasanton!

It appears the person in the fourth car back from the line at the light was not happy with the speed with which the first person at the intersection had moved when the light changed.

He must be from out of town, I thought.

It reminded me of when my sister came back from a trip to Boston. She and her husband rented a car and were mystifyed by all the horn honking going on. They couldn't figure out if there was some sort of signal you were supposed to give when entering an intersection by honking. When they asked about it, the question was answered with with blank stares.

I have noticed all the honking when I am in Philly, too. So maybe it is an East Coast thing. We are not much into honking in California, at least not in the 'burbs.
How about where you live?

Friday, July 9, 2010


I am having a tough time emotionally with the job search thing right now. I keep thinking about what I could have/should have done differently in my life so this would not feel like such a disaster.

Should I not have stayed home with my children for 16 years? At the time I knew I was lucky for the opportunity so perhaps I should have been more aware that it might not last... and I should somehow have been preparing to go back into the job market.

I didn't get married until I was nearly 31 and had the twins when I was 35. I worked until 2 days before their planned C-section delivery. I had a nice solid resume going. Management experience, graduate degree.

After they were born I planned to go back to work on a part time basis with the support of the family owned and operated company. In fact, they were in negotiations to sell their company, which they did a month after the birth!

The new company hired me as a consultant - long story - but I worked from home mostly and made some money for about a year. By then, Tom was making a good salary and working very long hours. We decided I could stay at home, which I was very happy to do. It was 1988.

When the twins were 3 I went to work for a friend starting up a children's wear line. It involved regular hours but a long commute. It took a toll on our family and when we decided to have another child, I left that job and had our youngest when I was a couple of months shy of 40.

Tom made good money, I was busy with kids, we moved to a new state and back. The years went by. The economy was changing, corporations were being acquired and broken up and all kinds of nastiness as happening. Through a number of really difficult things that happened with Tom's corporate employers, we found ourselves without much savings, and Tom out of work. He just couldn't see going back into corporate life again and really wanted to be a practicing lawyer.

So he set himself up in our garage and started hustling for work. By that time our oldest kids were in high school and driving. The youngest was in school not too far from our home and Tom could easily take her to and from or she would walk, if necessary. So I started to look for work, too. It was 2004.

The last time I had a corporate job, there were one or two computers in the building. I had a secretary to do my typing. I sent telexes to communicate with European companies.

In the years since I had worked outside my home, I had used a computer to shop on e-Bay and help the kids with homework, do banking and put together photo collages for the sports teams. I had a passing familiarity with Word and had used e-mail. I had never even opened up Excel. I had seen the kids use Power Point. I used Quicken for my own finances.

Is is a surprise that it took 8 months to get a job? And that I was not ever once called for a management position I applied for? I was lucky that a woman with a small company too a liking to me in a phone interview and her first choice candidate declined the job. I was there for 5 years. Loved the work though it was administrative and customer service and, as far as my husband was concerned, far beneath me. I was really good at the job. I was an asset to the company. I worked hard and was on time and devoted myself to being a good employee. I was an idiot for leaving.

His practice is busy and he has been out of the garage for a few years now. He wanted me to work for him. I knew in my heart I could never work for him. I have a hard time living with him...but that is not the point of this post.

The point is, now I am even older. The economy is much worse. Employers are much more picky and paying less and less. No matter how high or low I apply, I can't break through. I can't figure out how to become employed. And more important than that:

I don't know what lesson to teach my daughters.

Should they not stay at home with their children? Keep working, even though I think it is best to be home if you can?

I have advised them about kinds of careers, like my sister's in nursing, which is so flexible and always in need, but they are not interested in that.

My parents said to delay marriage and children until we had lived more life because they had married and had children so young. Yet my mother had a wonderful career which started after I was gone to college - she was only 38 then!

I am awake at night worrying and upset and feeling that I have made wrong turns and bad decisions. How will you advise your daughters?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010



Dear Applicant ,

We got your resume on craigslist for the job posted, but right now the
position is filled and we thought you might be interested in this
part-time job offer. Here's your chance to get paid for shopping and
dining out. You'll be paid to shop and dine out, plus you can also get
free meals, free merchandise, free services, free entertainment, and
free travel. This opportunity includes great pay, enjoyable work,
flexible schedules, and no experience required. If you can shop, you are

Spies in Disguise is a company that conduct surveys and evaluate other
companies, we get hired to go to other peoples companies and act like
customers in order to know how the staffs are handling their services in
relation to their customers, once we have a contract to do so, we direct
our agent / secret shoppers to the company or outlet to carry out the
evaluation, and you will be given the money you need to do the job(
either purchase things or require services), after which you will write
a comment on the staffs activities and give a detailed record of your

Examples of details you would forward to us are

1) How long it took you to get services.
2) Smartness of the attendant
3)Customer service professionalism
4)Sometimes you might be required to upset the attendant, to see how
they react to clients when they get tensed.

And we then turn the information over to the company executives and they
would carry out their own duties in improving there services. Most
companies employ our assistance when people give complains about their
services, or when they feel there are needs for them to improve their
customer service. your identity would be kept confidential as the job
states (secrets shopper) you would be paid $200 for every duty you carry
out, and bonus on your transportation allowance, and funds would be
given to you if you have to dine as part of the duty.

We currently have a contract to evaluate a local western outlet in your
area , your first assignment will be to run a survey on this western
union outlets within 6 miles of your area ( which will be disclose to
you in our subsequent email as soon as you accept the responsibilities
to carry out this assignment).

The Western union location was reported for evaluation for the following

I) Customers has file report for unprofessional customer service
ii) Slow services
iii) Unbalanced exchange rate
(Iv) Poor services
(v) Rudeness to customers
(vi) Excess charge
(vii) Late opening time and Closing before time.

Your Secret Evaluation would be

1) To make a transfer of fund from this western union location to our
Mystery shopper and the funds would be picked up by our based mystery
shopper at the other location. ( Note : the money you will be needing
for this services will be provided in advance by our company before you
carry out the assignment)

2) You would have to record your time of arrival, departure and how long
it takes to get the transaction done.You would be sent funds in form of
money orders which will cover your commission for the duty and the
amount you will be sending at western union.

4) You will also provide me with the name of the cashier that attended
to you, you will have to keep a comprehensive report on every activity
that happens within the time you are carry out the transaction.

As soon as you reply back with your mailing address and information
below, the funds you will be needing to carry out the assignment plus
your commission , will be sent to you in form of money orders
, the
Western Union outlet address will be disclose to you, and also the Name
and address of the other Mystery shoppers you will be sending the money
to , will be provided .

If you are still interested in this job opportunity, reply this e mail
with the follow information and your readiness to carry out this assignment.

FULL NAME ..........................
MAILING ADDRESS (no P.O.Box please) .......................... CITY.......................... STATE.......................... ZIP CODE.......................... CELL PHONE.......................... HOME PHONE.......................... GENDER.......................... MARITAL STATUS.......................... BEST TIME TO CALL.......................... PRESENT JOB STATUS/POSITION..........................

As soon , as you get back to us with this information, then we can
proceed to the next step.

Best Regards
Mark Cadozo
HR Manager
Spies in Disguise


Monday, July 5, 2010


It has been an uneventful weekend. A bit lazy in fact. I have drifted from a bit of gardening in the cooler part of the day to a little housekeeping. Some reading of my new book club selection "The Irresistible Henry House" which is pretty irresistible.

I have almost finished a new mosaic pot which is an homage to the new stripy umbrella for my mosaic area. In fact I sat right there, under the umbrella to read my book, iced tea at my side for an hour or so yesterday. Anyway, you can't see it well in this picture, but there is a purple stripe and a creamy yellow and the green in the umbrella isn't quite as foresty as the one I am using on the pot, but that's what make it an "homage" I suppose! I will grout it black and plant it later in the week.

Ally spent the weekend in Tahoe with friends and Tom has been either riding or working on his bikes. I had to go rescue him this morning when he had a break down while riding many miles from home, he wasn't hurt, unlike some of the riders on the Tour de France which we have been watching a bit.

I finally watched "It's Complicated" last night. I am probably the last woman in my age group to see it - it was fun, but so much of it had been revealed in the previews and promotional clips that very little was a surprise. That is the problem with waiting so long to see things. I promised Ally that I would save "Nine" to watch with her when she gets home. Which should be about 3 hours from now...
Hope the long weekend was as restful or activity filled as you wished!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Department of Transportation "Secretary LaHood believes that distracted driving is a dangerous and growing problem that threatens the lives of Americans," said DOT spokeswoman Olivia Alair. "We are doing everything possible to combat talking on the phone and texting while driving and others who care about safety will join our effort – not undermine it.”

But that is exactly the mission of certain lobbyists in Washington who see an opportunity in the national distracted driving "debate" and have prepared a pitch to cell phone companies, car manufacturers, insurance and public safety groups to fight against what they say could lead to a full ban on cell phones while driving.

In other words - these communications and car companies have, to date, allowed states to pass laws, education programs to be directed to drivers, celebrities and non-profit groups to organize to save lives. But the lobbyists see an opportunity to make money on this issue and in the interest of making money, they have developed a pitch to fight against these efforts to save lives.

They identify Secretary Lahood and Oprah Winfrey as the biggest threats to the cell phone, automobile, GPS, and insurance industries that stand to lose (money?) from regulations that would prohibit the use of devices while driving. It seems like the insurance companies would be winners from these bans, and I am not sure why they include GPS devices, I have not heard of those being an issue.

Most states are banning the use of handheld phones only, although it has been shown that it is the distraction of the phone conversation, not just holding the phone that can be an issue. So, as usual, they make these things sound so much more dire and dramatic than they actually are, claim losses to their business (because drivers have to wait until they park to use the phone?)

“With industries remaining silent, national transportation authorities and media celebrities have hijacked the debate, a dire consequence to reasonable regulation,” the lobbying firm wrote in its proposal. I SAY BULL TO THE SH*T. And I hope the companies who they consider potential clients say the same thing. It is time to realize that we do not need to be in constant communication at the risk of people's lives.