Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Hilda was not cooperating.
 The house filled up.  It was crowded , noisy and especially after the gifts were opened,  it looked like an episode of Hoarders.  Then it emptied out again.  Well,  Ally is around for a few more weeks but manages to be out more than in.  The dog  wandered around all day looking for her people. I carried out bags and bags of trash and recycling. Cleaned out the refrigerator. Ran the dishwasher, yet again. Scrubbed the sticky counter tops and did a quick mop of the equally sticky floor.

That's the one.
 The recycling can is full of beer, wine and champagne bottles, one testament to the good time we had.  I finally got my picture of the kids together and printed out my annual letter.  I managed to sign and address them while at work, sent in time to be New Year's greetings.

 Feedback indicates the biscotti and chocolate macaroons were the favorite cookies this year.  The Sweet Potato Gratin I made for our big family dinner was a hit.  I am thinking I should toss the Peppermint ice cream Maggie didn't polish off...

Tomorrow I will attack the one remaining mess - the wrapping table in the upstairs hall.  Then I will reclaim the front bedroom for my pile of ironing and maybe put Downton Abbey on the TV while I iron.  The new season is starting up in January. 

So, the holidays.  Fun, exhausting, tasty, familiar, satisfying, worth it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Welcome to our happy holiday shiny, sparkly home!

This is our entry.

A view of the living room.

Some close up details.

These are my little collection from Pier 1.  I add one each year.
The angel is new.

The dining room - hanging light and china cabinet.

A tabletop display.

 I re-used some of my ornament garlands from last year - I liked them too much to take them apart!

This is the den - not too much in here!

All the kids aren't home until later today so the tree isn't decorated yet...  So that's it for us this year.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Lifted from All The Good Names Were Taken.

Friday, December 9, 2011


After I tossed the clothes into the dryer, I heard a lot of clanging noises coming from the machine.  I stopped it to investigate and saw  3 or 4 jackets and sweatshirts with big zippers and figured that must be the source.  Started it again - bang, clang.  I stuck my hand around to feel for something bigger than a zipper pull, I even pulled out some of the clothes to inspect closer.  Nothing out of the ordinary.

Later in the day I went to empty the dryer and fold the clothes.  A jacket for Tom, a couple of his sweatshirts, my red hoodie, new red dishtowels and, what's that in the back?  I reached way in and pulled out an iPod.  "Who the hell put an iPod in the hamper?" is going through my mind as I turn it over and see it is red. 

It's my iPod.  It has been through the washer and the dryer.

Then I remember.  When I was leaving the gym I had noticed it needed charging.  I unplugged the headphones and left them in the gym bag and slipped the iPod in my pocket.  The rest of the story is obvious.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


1.)  It always seems like local towns are fighting against cell towers (while everyone also complains about bad cell phone connections.)  I know the concerns are partly for the unknown health issues , but mostly people are worried about the appearance of the towers causing their property values to be undermined.

 I'm not fooled by towers dressed up like trees, the teal color they take on after time in the sun is just not a tree color found in nature.  I wonder, though, if they couldn't make them look more artistic?  Couldn't they sell them as "public art"?  Maybe they should have a design contest and find ways to make them work properly but look cool.

2.)  The Christmas music was turned on before Thanksgiving in the hotel.  It was an interesting mix this year, more current artists performing renditions of old favorites.  I realized why having the Christmas music in the background bothers me so much more than the rest of the music, actually Muzak.  It's the lyrics.  The rest of the year the music is all instrumental.

I mentioned it to our manager and she said that she hated the tape they had sent, that the hip hop (she called it rap) versions were inappropriate for our environment and she asked for a new instrumental one.  Last night I realized after about 4 hours that the music was different.  Yep, having music with singers is so much more invasive.

A small preview of my holiday decor.
 3.)  I am done with the decorating - except for the tree.  I am saving that for when all the kids are here on the 19th.  I  try to purchase very little new each year and I like to recycle what I have and use it in different ways.  This year I bought some ribbon, 2 new "pine" garlands and some sequined branches.

Jen on the Edge is hosting the Holiday Homes Tour again, and My photos will be included, hope you come by On December 21st.

4.)  I am also almost done with shopping.  I have not been to the mall and I may not even go there!  I have set up my wrapping table and plan to spend a lot of time getting things wrapped and out of the way this weekend.  Next weekend Maggie will want to sleep in the bed currently covered with boxes and bags and a pile of ironing.

 I 'm also starting to plan  meals for the family.  I saw a segment on TV with chef Anne Burrel making Cornish Hens with Pomegranate Molasses.  Doesn't that sound amazing?  And Sweet Potato Gratin is what I am going to take to my sister's house.  How are the holiday preparations going for you?

3.)  I ended up having a one on one meeting with the benefits person for our company (the rest of the attendees are Spanish speaking and they had their own meeting.)  After going through all the options and talking through my thinking and bottom line - coverage with more money in my paycheck - I decided on a High Deductible plan.  That way I pay more than half what I have been paying and get a  tax deductible Health Savings Account to put money in which collects interest and rolls over every year.  So instead of paying Kaiser for a level of care we rarely use, I am paying myself in case there is a catastrophic event.  I can't wait to see my paychecks in January!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I know I have written repeatedly (repetitively?) about my love for books.   I swore I wouldn't go to an eReader because my fantasy home has floor to ceiling shelves full of books, not electronic devices.  (Did you know there is a website  called Bookshelf Porn for people like me?)

 But now I am in trouble.   I have read 4 books on my Nook - and I am ruined for the printed page.  I am stunned to admit this.  On the brightly lit, large fonted Nook, I speed through books tirelessly.  When I picked up a paperback to read yesterday, I struggled after an hour or so.  Again tonight, I read a few pages and started squinting and wondering why it's printed in such pale ink.  I have to stop every few pages and rest my tired, old eyes.

This is such a bittersweet thing for me.  I was thrilled to read the 500 pages of Edgar Sawtelle quickly, effortlessly.  It was such a wonderfully different book.  I was excited to get to a Susan Isaacs book as a fun antidote to the sad ending of Edgar - after just 58 pages I found myself looking at the B&N site to see how much it would cost to download it onto my Nook. 

 I am such a goner.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


1.)  Somehow hearing that Britney Spears turns 30 today makes me feel older than having my 58th birthday yesterday!

2).  The Christmas stuff went up at work on November 21.  We were immediately the stop for everyone taking a stroll down the street.  Our manager really tarts up the place!  I had forgotten how stressful it is to be on guard over all the decorations, ornaments, stuffed toys, nutcrackers and extravagant nativity scene with kids and families swarming the lobby.  But that's why I get the big bucks!

3.)   The Bad News is that a Kentucky Baptist church has  banned interracial couples from joining their church or participating in  their services.  This after the daughter of 2 church members attended a recent service accompanied by her Zimbabwean (Black) fiance.

Following that occasion, the church voted against interracial couples as a measure to "promote greater unity" for it's members.

I guess they don't have to love their neighbors in Kentucky churches.

4.)  The Good News is that Elizabeth Warren is "surging" ahead of Scott Brown in the race for
Ted Kennedy's former Senate seat.  Good news because that seat seems to be such a symbolically Democratic one and also because she is a wise, smart and caring person.  When heckled and called a "socialist whore" by a jobless Tea Party member at a recent speech:

Hours later, she said she wasn't upset with the man himself, but rather with those who attempt to channel his anger in a malevolent direction. "I was thinking more about the heckler. I'm not angry with him, but he didn't come up with the idea that his biggest problem was Occupy Wall Street. There's someone else pre-packaging that poison -- and that's who makes me angry," she said.

Gotta love a person like that!

5.)  Our a post Thanksgiving dinner we were all riffing on the Occupy movement and the Balck Friday shoppers.  Why could they camp out at the mall but not at city hall, etc.  you know, "Occupy Best Buy".  Ally said they could have signs saying "We are the 99% Off!"  Clever girl.

So now I am going out to occupy a few stores.


An article in the LA Times about the declining revenues for dentists caught my attention.  The article is about the new marketing efforts of dentists who are seeing their profits drop as patients are skipping cleanings, fillings and other dental work.

Their response is to seek new marketing strategies.  They are paying marketing consultants to tell them about social media, upgrade their websites and even to add spa like amenities to their practices.

That's why Vines hired Steffany Mohan, a fellow dentist and marketing consultant who says that keeping patients satisfied is as important as persuading them to walk through the door.

Mohan emphasizes personal service: Dentists should offer sedation to patients nervous about pain, and make dental care feel like a trip to the spa with amenities such as scented neck wraps, moisturizing lotions, heated massage pads and video screens mounted on the ceiling above dental chairs.

"People don't necessarily remember what you said or did, but they'll remember how you made them feel," Mohan said. "We're going for giving them an experience they'll remember so they won't go anywhere else."

Vines said he expects to spend $35,000 to $50,000 over the next year on Mohan's marketing strategies.
Okay.  The economy has tanked, 10% of the population is unemployed, even more are underemployed.  Companies are cutting benefits right and left and we all know that having dental insurance is pretty much a joke because , beyond a couple of x-rays and cleanings, the cost of any procedure is prohibitively expensive. 
I have had a broken crown for 3 years.  I finally had a job with benefits and opted for the dental so I could get it fixed.  The difference in cost with $100.00 a month insurance and no insurance?  I would "save" $435. on the crown, making my out of pocket cost $600.00 for the insurance and $985.00 for the crown.  The crown, by the way that the same dentist supplied me about 7 years ago.  I still have a broken crown and am cancelling the insurance in January.
My experience is that dentists are big on price fixing.  Have you ever called around to see if you can get the services for less?  Don't bother. 
If my business was losing revenue, I might look at my pricing, my hours (our dentist was closed on Friday, closed for a week at Thanksgiving and 2 weeks at Christmas - making it impossible for my college kids to see her when they were home.  We now have a new dentist) and better financing options for my patients.  Hey, how about some evening  or weekend hours so people don't have to skip work to have an appointment?  How about offering some kind of discount to people without insurance who are paying cash? 
Personally I would not be soothed by warm scented towels, I would be wondering how much the damned thing was costing me.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I've always liked clothes.  I learned to sew because It made it possible for me to have more clothes on my budget ( not something possible these days.)  I kind of gave up on being fashionable when I got so overweight and underfunded.

For some reason I became interested in buying some boots and trying the skinny- pants-tucked-in-boots trend.  I am concerned that skinny pants on my wide body may be a fashion don't - but I am going to give it a go.

I ordered a couple of tunic tops, some skinny black jeans and then set out to get boots.  That's when the trouble started.  I went to DSW with my coupon and none of the boots would zip up.  I had forgotten about the large calf issue.  Even when I was at my slimmest I had narrow feet, small ankles and shapely but muscular calfs.  Now they are even larger. 

I headed to the computer and shopped and shopped.  No one had my size in a black boot in the style I want.  I had ordered all those clothes with the boots in mind - I have to find boots!  I expanded my search and discovered some different terms for what I need and found a few pair on the Zappos site.  I couldn't tell for sure from the descriptions and review which pair was going to fit best so, due to their free shipping and returns policy, I ordered two pair.  This was on the night before Thanksgiving. 

On Friday morning FedEx delivered a huge box with the boots inside.  Ally was home and helped me pick the right pair, I returned the others this morning and now I await the rest of the outfits.  Hopefully I won't look silly, especially since the boots were quite a bit more money than I would normally spend!  That Ally didn't recoil in horror when I tried them on with my stretchy slim leg jeans makes me think I must have looked okay. 

I am being taken out for a birthday lunch later this week and I hope to fit in with my stylish sisters for the occasion.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Too bad I am not joining my family for Thanksgiving dinner - my nieces would have loved this appetizer!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I just finished Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.  The third book I bought on my Nook, at 352 pages I just flew through it.  It is smart, funny and set in a period of time I have not seen many books cover - the year 1938.

The depression was winding down, WWII hadn't begun.  Women had left their flapper personas behind and were making their way in the world, more independently than ever.  Set in New York, the story is about a woman reflecting back on that year, a turning point in her life,  the people she meets, the decisions she makes (and those that are made for her.)

It is a glamorous and gritty time about Manhattann long before Sex & the City - yet in a way, full of  the same sort of stories. 

Monday, November 21, 2011


You know that saying about Social Security  being the third rail of politics?  Well, the untouchable rail for Kaiser - my HMO provider - is asking how much their services cost!  I can get all kinds of advice on choosing a plan and comparing plans until I ask what the actual costs of the services and prescriptions is,  then they want to transfer me to numbers that don't work and departments that don't exist.

In the past I have always had plans with no deductible.  Now I am considering  plans with a $1000. to $2700. deductible.  I would think asking how much actual care one gets for that much money would be an obvious question.  I am not asking for a  guarantee of costs - just a ballpark.  I'll need a mammogram, let's say 2 office visits per person and a few prescriptions between all of us on the plan. 

I've been on the phone and internet most of the morning trying to dig up this information.  Then I enlisted the benefits advisor for our company.  It took her a while and she seemed very surprised at how hard it was to find someone to give this information, too, but someone was found who was willing to spill the beans.

So now I am crunching the numbers and hoping that, even with the big increases in the premiums for 2012, that I can reduce the cost of my benefits and take home a bit more money each month.  I admit it just kills me to be concerned with out-of-pocket costs on top of paying over $1200.00 a month.

Anybody made the change to a high deductible plan and have advice to share?

Friday, November 18, 2011


1.)  There was an awkward few minutes on The View the other day when the narcissistic Elisabeth went after guest Bill Maher for a joke he made 9 months ago which had her as the punch line.  The joke was tasteless, as Maher often is, but it was ridiculous that the powers that be on the show allowed her rant.

Anyway, I bring this up because of all the things I have heard said about the whole Penn State mess, he had one of the most profound observations.  He said that these things happen in male institutions.  When there are women involved and influencing things, it's different.  Think about it.  The clergy, football and other male dominated sports, fraternities. 

For one thing, women are not so susceptible to hero worship.  And since women and children are frequently the victims of male wrongdoing, the presence and influence of women both makes us part of their consciousness and watchdogs over their darker urges.  This is not male bashing, it is about the yin and yang of male and female balancing things.

2.)  I believe my back has healed to the point of getting back to the gym.  I am going to confer with one of the trainers I know to be knowledgeable about how to get started back into my fitness routine.  When I am being honest with myself - I know that the major reason I ended up with back pain is my slacking off the gym.  The couple of times a week attendance has led to my feeling jiggly and obviously is not enough to maintain my fitness.  I don't need to wait for the new year to make the resolution to get back to the gym.

3.)  I am picking up some extra hours this weekend in a attempt to make up for my tiny paycheck after exhausting my sick days.  Just as well as the whole town is caught up in a pre-black Friday shopping craze.  Tomorrow the stores on our main street are opening up at 7am and everyone is invited to shop in their pj's.  That should be interesting!

In years past I have tried to get all my shopping done by Thanksgiving so I could avoid all the holiday crowds.  Not going to happen this year.  However the benefit of working evenings is that I can go out early and during the week.  Not feeling as inspired as I have for holidays past, but I did come up with a good theme for our family ornaments - not going to reveal it yet because my kids read my blog!

4.)  Hope that Have a gret weekend shopping, working or just hanging out.

Friday, November 11, 2011


1.)  The steroid shot was a success.  I am no longer in pain but still have a sense of tightness and pressure to keep me reminded to rest and be careful in my activity.  One of the things I miss is spending hours on my computer!  My desktop set-up requires more sitting than I ought to be doing!  So I am behind on my blog reading, posting and shopping for holiday gifts!

2.)  I did spend some time on the computer last night while it was quiet on my first night back at work and had to stifle my giggles over Tom & Lorenzo's take on the Victoria Secret Show.  I love TLo and if you don't read them already, take some time to look at this post!

3.)  It is cold and rainy in NorCal - the perfect weekend to continue to rest my back and slip in some online shopping.  Have a good one!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I would make this if I could knit.

Designed by ravelry user Lani-Rae

Monday, November 7, 2011


I chose the needle.  The option to deal with the pain gone wild through my lower back, down and round my leg causing  one or a number of simultaneous combinations of:   numbness, tingling, pins and needles and shooting, searing pain.  

For nearly 2 weeks I have been drugged with little or no effect.  The muscle relaxer I was told to take only at night because it caused drowsiness did not cause drowsiness, nor did it relax my muscles.  If my dose of Vicodin is what "Dr. House" takes I can understand why he pops them so frequently because it did nothing to dull my pain. The fact that I could get high dosage Advil for a 5 buck co-pay was a good buy, though.

I rested 5 days, went to work for 3 and was back to bed for 4 more days.  The nest step was prednisone but the side-effects freaked me out and it would take days for it to knock down the pain.  The other option was the epidural cortisone injection. 

One shot, back to work the next day.  Not healed - I will still have to be careful and rest and do my back exercises.  If this whole drama doesn't get me back to the gym regularly, nothing ever will.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I called my dad to wish him a happy birthday - he is 79 this year.  After we shared some info about our aches and injuries,  he  said how weird it is to be staring at 80.  I reflected that I feel pretty weird being a couple of years from 60. 

He said "You're catching up to me!"

Isn't it so true that we eventually end up in closer in our life stages as we get older!

Monday, October 31, 2011


On a warm evening 24 years ago, after all the trick or treaters had gone home for the night, Tom and I decided to walk downtown to see how the adults were spending Halloween.  We wound up in one of the local bars and amused ourselves people watching. 

As I was nine months pregnant,  I ended up with some tinny tasting grapefruit juice to drink.  Tom had a glass or two of wine.  Some people thought I was in costume as a pregnant woman - I was comically huge with our twins - Tom assured them it was all real and said he had forbidden me to have Halloween babies.

We walked back home and went to bed.  An hour later, shortly after midnight, my water broke.  I always thought it was pretty funny that I managed to wait until after Halloween to have my twins, but research at the Yale School of Public Health has shown that births dip a full 11.3% on October 31.  Not only do women avoid planned c-sections and induced births, but "spontaneous" births, go down, too, suggesting that there is something to a woman's preference for a birth date involved in triggering the necessary hormones.

So Happy Birthday Maggie and Zac and thanks for waiting until November to be born.  Your father would never have forgiven me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I have not cut my hair in over 2 years.  It is so long that I am always putting it up to keep it our of the way.  I consulted with Tom who thinks long silver hair is cool.  He agreed that it wasn't working.  So I made an appointment for the end of the month, vowing I would cancel it if I don't stay on my diet.   I have alerted my stylist that I am cutting off enough for a Locks of Love contribution.

So I am looking at potential hair cuts for inspiration.  I Googled hairstyle for women over 50 and this came up!  I hope I can do better than that.

I think my hair is similar in texture and (stick straight fineness) to Diane Keaton. 

I don't really want to go full out Miranda Priestly.

So then it dawned on me -   "What Would Helen Mirren Do?"

It certainly looks like a basic bob haircut is the way to go - a classic cut which I have gone back to pretty much every time I cut my hair. 

The most experimental cut I had (I didn't manage to get a photo for posterity)  was something like this:

I don't think I'll go there again...

Monday, October 24, 2011


Ally was home for an overnight visit this weekend.  We had a nice visit - got the scoop on her life at college and had a long discussion about her major.

She is currently a Theater major, but she had been having doubts  that she wanted to pursue drama.  I guess her one theater class was all it took., she wants to change her major.  However, like her mom and so many others - she doesn't know what she wants to study or do with her life.

We talked through our own decision making, the impossibility of knowing what skills might be in demand 5 years from now and the Holy Grail of "having a calling."  We talked about ways to go about discovering different options and how to apply her interests to the possibilities.  She is an ENTJ on the Meyers Briggs scale, she is smart, expressive and a little too concerned with her social life. When I asked her what she is the most interested in, she said "sleep."  Okey-dokey.

So I am putting it to you - how did you or someone you know figure it out?  What would you recommend to a confused college freshman?   as a woman in my fifties who has never figured out what I want to be when I grow up - I feel a little help would be handy on this subject!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


This morning I saw a news story about the Great California ShakeOut, our annual state earthquake preparedness exercise.  It occurred to me that we don't have a preparedness kit like we used to.

This afternoon there was a 4.0 quake in Berkeley - about 30 miles from home.  This evening while at work, there was another, slighter bigger one.  I don't get too rattled by the quakes and I have no fear of "the big one" they have said all my life is going to happen.  I think it is a common attitude, not the safest one, I guess.  We don't have quakes with the regularity of blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes and other weather related events, so we get a bit blase.

I reassured a couple of hotel guest that the building was built under strict California building codes and it is a very safe place.  This quake did make me look around for the spot I would move to if there was a bigger, longer shake.  My bit of preparedness.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


The banner which flew around the golf course throughout the game!
The Courage Campaign is a political organization which has been supporting the gay marriage legal process in California, among other things.

This morning I recieved this e-mail from them following adding my signature to a petition for the passage of the new jobs bill:

We wish you could have been with us this morning as 60 of us loudly greeted Speaker Boehner here in Newport Beach for his "golf with the 1%" event. Courage Campaign members and staff were joined by friends from the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), United Domestic Workers (AFSCME), the Orange County Central Labor Council, MoveOn.org, Occupy Irvine, IBEW, UNITE HERE and so many others on the street in front of one of the most exclusive resorts on the planet.

Your signature made all the difference. Know what Speaker Boehner did when we confronted him? He turned his back on you and went to play golf with the millionaire lobbyists from whom he takes orders.

This was one step. With your help, we'll never rest until all 19 California House Republicans and the Speaker vote on the President's jobs bill. Even John Boehner has to realize that the 99% deserve jobs and a chance at the American Dream, not the back of his head.

I love their creativity!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


1.)  I love bananas when they are green and firm.  I only buy a couple at a time so I can eat them before they ripen and get soft.  Lately I have bought bananas that are green and when I peel them I find that they are soft/ripe.  And I have noticed that they just stay green and don't turn yellow.  Are they messing with bananas?  Do I sound like Andy Rooney?

2.)  At last it seems that President Obama is ready to stand up to the GOP and the media  and tell some truth about "bi-partisan" crap.  The Beltway media elite as well as the Tea Partiers an others have pushed the story line that if the president can’t get GOP cooperation, it’s somehow his fault.

In his press conference this week President Obama said:

I’m also dealing with a Republican Majority Leader who said that his number-one goal was to beat me — not put Americans back to work, not grow the economy, not help small businesses expand, but to defeat me. And he’s been saying that now for a couple of years. So, yes, I’ve got to go out and enlist the American people to see if maybe he’ll listen to them if he’s not listening to me.

I am sure that the 99% protests have finally given him a clue that the people are fed up and it is time to come to us instead of pandering to the Republicans!!

3.)  Just a quick episode of my series:  View From The Front Desk.

If your book club, knitting group or business colleagues decide to meet in a bar, like one in a hotel lobby, please keep in mind that you are taking up space and spending time in a place of business.  A place where the bartender earns tips for his or her service.  Walking up to the bar to order your drink does not relieve you of the social norm of tipping. 

Sitting in a large, loud group for a couple of hours requires employees to deal with the noise and then clean up after you, so please don't complain loudly about how much we charge for coffee.  You have already taken advantage of our complimentary popcorn, peanuts, cookies and candy jar!  Not to mention our nice ambiance and WiFi.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


It is too soon to tell if this is true love.  I know that I have loved books since I was old enough to climb the steps of the bookmobile and check out the maximum number of books each time.  I have fantasies of floor to ceiling bookshelves full of books and other special objects.  Ive been lugging boxes of books from home to home since I was in college and have many of them in storage waiting for those fantasy shelves.

I believe I have said the e-readers will never be for me.  I may be wrong.

Tom bought me a Nook Color for our anniversary.  I spent a few days checking it all out, reading the info about all the stuff I can do with it.  I was also reading the new Alice Hoffman book, The Dovekeepers, which runs about 400 pages.  I found myself squinting at the pages and having to put it aside when my eyes got tired.

So I went online and bought the download of the book.   At $14.99 it was about what I pay for  some paperbacks - and this was a new release. (In fact I was the first one to get it from the library!)   I pumped up the font size and got to the place I had left off.  I am so happy with it!  So easy to read and I get tired of sitting before my eyes get  tired.  I am going through the book at a rapid pace (it's really great, by the way) and so now I am thinking about my wish list of books for future downloads. 

I also ordered a couple of real, ink and paper books I know I will want to keep for when I get those shelves...

Friday, October 7, 2011


1.)  I suspect that it has become National news that a patient died during a nurses strike here in California.  What the media has a difficult time relating are the complete facts of the story (why is that?)  The nurses at a number of Bay Area hospitals were bogged down in negotiations about issues related to staffing, scheduling and benefits.  My sister works for one of the hospitals involved so she has the full, inside information.

Getting into the issues at hand is long and both sides have their points.  The problem that happened was when the nurses announced a 1 day strike, the hospitals locked them out for 5 days.  The patient didn't die on the one day - the patient died during the lock out.  The patient died because the temporary worker had no experience working on an oncology ward and there were not enough supervising nurses who had worked on an oncology ward to recognise the problem she related with trying to hook up an additional medication was a serious one.  She was told to use a different method to administer the medication which bypassed the safety measure in place to avoid that very possibility.

The patient died, the nurses' career is ruined, the hospital will be sued and rather than using this as an illustration of exactly what the nursing staff is trying to avoid in their negotiation with the hospital (the overuse of untrained  floating staff which burdens the trained staff with having to do their own work and try to supervise those that don't know what they are doing in that specific area of patient care) the media is focused on the strike as the cause of the patient death.  We need to demand better from our journalists.

2.)  I really like this explaination of the Occupation of Wall Street going on.

3.)   On the death of Steve Jobs:   The reason Jobs comes out ahead of the Wall Street types, Mitchell explained, is because “the Occupy people aren’t calling for an overthrow of the capitalist system; they’re calling for the greedheads, the famewhores and the powermongers to be stripped of their outsized influence over our culture, our government and our economy. They’re calling on us to reshape our values. To have values. To care.” —BF on Truthdig.

Many of my Facebook friends who expressed profound grief over Jobs’ death also have been expressing support for the Occupy demonstrations. It’s really something to witness—the depth of emotion all these left-wingers feel for the head of a giant American corporation. Jobs was one of the most successful capitalists of our time, and yet he’s hailed as a hero by left and right alike. This is because his goal was simply to create products that were Insanely Great. In a world where few people—particularly in business—truly care about what they do, he truly cared. By thinking that way, he became Insanely Rich, and when he died, his company had an Insanely Large cash balance in the tens of billions of dollars. But few begrudged either Jobs or Apple for their wealth, because their priority wasn’t to get rich—it was to achieve Insane Greatness. Getting rich was a byproduct. That’s how capitalism should work. - Dan Mitchell in SF Weekly:

4.)  And I thought this comment by GE CEO and chairman of President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness Jeff Immelt was very truthful.

Congress doing just one bipartisan thing would help build confidence by showing that the political process is not completely broken.  Congress' inaction is restraining growth.

5.) This is our 27th anniversary! Once the anniversaries get up this high, there are no traditions except for every fifth year - so the contemporary gift for 27 years is "Sculpture." Don't think that's gong to happen here...though if I had run into a Beyonce, I may have been tempted.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Take a few minutes to watch ONE's new video "The F Word: Famine is the Real Obscenity" and sign the petition:


 It will make a difference in putting pressure on world leaders to do more to help those in need right now, and live up to promises already made to invest in the things proven to work – early warning systems...irrigation...drought resistant seeds… and of course, peace and security.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I have had readers ask me about my process of making a mosaic project.  So I finally manged to take pictures of a piece while I was making it.

I am always on the lookout for inexpensive ceramic and terracotta pots to mosaic.  Plastic doesn't work because the glue and tiles don't adhere well enough to withstand expansion and contraction and the seal isn't tight enough to withstand moisture.  This is my experience.  Other, more educated mosaic people may have found a way...

for this project I used a ceramic pot I found on sale at the end of the summer season.  I didn't need to seal it because it was glazed.  For terracotta pots, I brush on a concrete sealer to help reduce moisture transmission through the clay. This is also a free form sort of design.  If I am doing a pattern, I will draw it on the pot before I start to add tile.

I buy my tile from lots of places.  The tile on this project was from a tile outlet that has since closed.  I get it at hardware stores, online sites and sometimes pre-cut from e-Bay.  For this whole tile, I am using my smack with a hammer technique!

 I lay the tile on a piece of cloth, cover the top and smack it with my hammer.  (Lay the tile face down and the hammer will not damage the finished front of the tile.)

I use a lot of my used jars to store tile and cleaned styrofoam meat trays to hold the tiles which I am working with them.  As you can also see, I use old tee shirts, dish towels, sponges and all kinds of stuff from around the house.  The one thing I didn't manage to get a picture of is my nipper tool.  I use that to cut the pieces I am using down to the size or shape that I need.

The red pieces I used were a pre-cut purchase.

My favorite glue is Weldbond.  I buy it online in the big jug and then refill the smaller bottles for ease of use.

Because you want a great seal between the tile and the thing you are applying it to, there needs to be adhesive on the pot and on the tile.  Another thing to keep in mind as the tiles are added to the piece is the fit.  It is fun to piece them together but you also need to make the pieces as flat to the surface as possible.  I am not so great at this, as you'll see in the finished piece, my tiles tend to poke up and the surface is uneven.  I am ok with it - but it really is not the ideal.

You also want to leave space between the tiles for the grout.  Some mosaic makers leave lots of space and have wide grout lines, I tend to like the pieces to be closer together.

When the tile has covered the surface, let it stand for a day to dry.  Then tape off the areas which you don't want to grout.  I have taped off the bottom pf the pot, but I want to get a good seal around the edge where the tile meets the pot at the bottom and top to help prevent moisture from getting up underneath.

I use grout from the hardware store.  It comes in white, beige, black, and gray.  I also use an acrylic admix to wet the grout.  it makes it stronger and more flexible that using plain water. The grout should have enough liquid to make it spreadable but not drippy. 

Oh, and use gloves for this, the grout is really tough on your hands!  Some people spread the grout using a tool, I am more hands on and scoop the grout onto the piece and then smoosh it down into the cracks.

After the entire surface is covered and all the cracks are filled in, the surface can be lightly wiped down.  After about 10 minutes, use a wet sponge to wipe the surface again, but not so much that it pulls the wet grout out from the cracks. 

I use a dish tub with several inches of water in it for this process.  You should not wash the grout down the drain in your house because it will dry and clog things up!  By using the dish tub of water, I can wash the gloves off, and used the sponge to wipe the pot down without using the sink.  After the grout has settled to the bottom of the tub, I can pour off the water and then wipe out the solids of the grout which remain and toss that in the trash.

After several hours you can wipe the surface again, What you are doing is taking the grout off the surface of the tiles, but leaving the cracks completely filled.  The next day the tape can be removed and all the surfaces wiped and smoothed.  I use a spray bottle of vinegar water to help loosen up any grout from the surfaces of the tiles and a rough cloth and a popsicle stick to scrape tough spots.

The last step is to seal the grout.  I use a spray on sealer from the hardware store. Let it sit for a day and then fill your pot!