Sunday, May 29, 2011


In 1994 we moved our family from a house I loved  by the water in California to Bellevue Washington.  The house we bought was large and we had a view of Lake Washington in the distance.  The house needed a lot of work.  It was full of, I kid you not, pink and blue wallpaper featuring ducks, sheep, flowers, stripes and flowers with lacy stripes. Each and every room was pink or blue or both with the exception of the one room which was completely paneled in dark wood.

Over 3 years time I stripped the wallpaper, painted, re-carpeted, put up some more neutral wallpaper on walls which would have needed to be refinished otherwise, bought  new furniture and accessories.  I also ordered a custom bedspread for the master bedroom with coordinating window coverings.  I found a fabric I loved and never could find a ready made spread that compared to it - so I went for the extravagant purchase.  About a year later the employer who had lured us up to Washington with many promises of stock, bonuses and advancement decided to sell the company, making himself very rich and completely screwing us.

It went from an being an exciting time, building our nest and settling into a new lifestyle to being jobless in a dark, wet  state far away from home and family.  Lawyers were hired, the house put on the market and eventually we made our way back to California.  I took the bedroom drapes with us.

On left the faded part, on right the original fabric.
In the new master bedroom, the bedspread went on the bed and I re-made the old curtains over to work with the new windows.  And when we moved to another, smaller house I did it again.  And when we sold our house and moved into a rental house, I made over the last remnants of the window treatments again to cover a valance above the bedroom window.

So here we are in 2011 and the bedspread is still on our bed.  The once bright and vibrant fabric I fell in love with is now dull, the quilting stitches are coming undone, there are holes in the fabric.  Each day when I make the bed I feel sad that it is no longer bright and pretty.  Now and then I look at new bedspreads but I think "I shouldn't spend the money on that" or "I'll buy a new one when we get our own house again" or
"there are more important things than a bedspread." 

But it always bothered me.  I don't mind not having expensive things but I don't like living with shabby things.

I realized that this had become symbolic.  My feelings about the bedspread reflected much more than just feelings about a bedspread.  After all, each time we went through a change, a move, I had taken the remnants of that lovely room and made them over to fit a new room and making over myself to fit our  new circumstances, too.

Maybe I needed to break free of this largely self-imposed stalemate.  Time to do something that is important to me.  Time to feel free to do something even if it is self indulgent because it will simply make me happy and give me an opportunity to finally let go of what once was.  Time to stop worrying what my husband or anyone else might think of what I am spending on now that our circumstances are so changed. 

 So I started looking for new bedspreads again.  I knew it had to be a certain kind of fabric - I don't like shiny and satiny.  I like a nice woven cotton.  And not too thick and puffy but not too thin like a coverlet.  And the colors should be similar to the original spread because I don't want to have to replace the valance I had covered, too. And I could not spend more than about $100.

And after looking on and off for about 5 years - the first place I entered (a Tuesday Morning store!) I found the right thing.  The fabric, the color, the price!  It was a king and I needed a queen, but I bought it. 

The new bed spread in the back of my car.
 I took it upstairs and put it on the bed - too big, but it looked pretty good.  So I found a store with a queen and set off to do an exchange.  I got lost getting there.  When I finally found the store,  I could not find the receipt which I had carefully placed in my wallet.  I really wanted the $40.00 price difference back in my checking account - but wound up with a store credit.  I got even more lost on the way home.

Please believe me when I say I do not get lost.  I have a great sense of direction and this was a huge aberration.  I was feeling such remorse about the purchase, the "loss" of the $40,  the apparent karmic overtones of getting lost.  By the time I got home I just went inside and left the bedspread in the car.

I left it there for about a week.

Eventually I got past the negative feelings again and brought the bedspread into the house.  I put it on the bed and while I don't love it the way I did the other one, I am happy to have something clean and bright in the room and it looks great with the valance.  My husband has not said one word about it.  I suppose I could ask but I am not going to.

When I put that faded old spread into the garbage I felt sad about leaving that last part of our old lives behind.  I enjoy having a fresh bedspread to make up the bed each day.  When we get the opportunity to move out of this rental house, maybe I will design a room around it - paint the walls and get some new pictures.  In the meantime,  my next bold step?  Replacing the raggedy towels and bathmat...

Friday, May 27, 2011


1.)  I understand that this makes me a cranky old bag and I accept that.  I am sick of adult women putting on a pair of heels with jeans* and calling it dressed up.  It is not dressed up.  Very few women look better in jeans than in slacks.  It is time to be grown-ups and go back to nice pants.  You will look better and more appropriate for the places you are currently trying to "dress-up" 

And by the way, that goes for all the chefs on Top Chef too.  Sloppy, sloppy, grow-up.  (I am making that my my personal version of "Get off my lawn.")

*To clarify, I am not talking here about nice fitting, dark demin.  I am talking faded, saggy kneed, frayed hem, well worn everyday jeans.

2.)  I am going through a bunch of "last times" right now with youngest child  finishing high school - like last time I'll be making vats of mac & cheese for the drama kids on  rehearsal nights.  Wednesday night was their last performance as a group.  I had to miss it due to my work schedule, but my faithful delivery of mac & cheese for 4 years got me a "ticket" to the dress rehearsal!

3.)  Please read this wonderful essay by Marlo Thomas about bullying.  I agree that we all have to start talking about this problem and not stop until all our kids are safe in school and at home.

I also think that we need to take a long look at what we consider entertainment.  Those women on the Real Housewives shows?  Bullies.  Those coaches on Biggest Loser?  Bullies.  In fact, the behavior most glorified and egged on on most reality shows is bullying behavior.  Those shows are full of people shouting, name calling, cursing, fighting and putting each other down.  And if we are watching those shows with the kids around...

Is it any wonder they think that is an okay way to behave? 

4.) Saw this tub online and my first thought was about keeping it clean.  Based on the comments many others had the same thought - they were also worried about how they would look in it if someone were to come into the bathroom while they were in the tub!

5.)  How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes! ~Maya Angelou

At some time this long weekend, remember those we have lost.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Zac & Maggie

Our daughter Maggie came home for the first time in 2 years!  We have not seen her since her graduation last May.  She saved up her days off and came out to attend her twin brother Zac's graduation and little sister Ally's Senior Ball send off.

We have been having a lot of fun shopping and lunching and visiting.  We 3 girls even went to see the movie "Bridesmaids" and had some major laughs. 

 I squeezed in a few days of work between events and now Maggie and Zac are off on a camping, hiking and beer tasting trip before Maggie has to go back to work in Philadelphia and Zac back to Monterey to pack up his school apartment and move into staff housing at CSUMB prior to starting his new role as a post-grad staffer.

Zac showing us his rope bridges.

While we were in Monterey we attended an ceremony where Zac received an award recognizing his  contributions to the Service Learning program.  We also attended his Capstone Presentation where he showed the documentary he made of his teaching project incorporating cultural awareness and math with 15 high school students who built rope bridges like the ancient Incas.  He was mobbed by teachers in the audience wanting copies of the documentary and his curriculum! 

Family dinner following awards ceremony.

My parents came for the events and then left to drive up to Idaho for another grandchild's high school graduation.  They will visit with some friends then make their way back to us for Ally's graduation in mid-June. 

I agreed to rush back from the ceremony on Saturday morning to work my shift in the hotel in the afternoon with the provision that Ally and her friends could meet at the hotel for the pre-Senior Ball photo session.

Ally & Christian
There were 4 couples and therefore 8 sets of parents - it was like a paparazzi storm!  My camera did not do well in the low light so I am hoping to get some copies of the group photos from the other parents.

The kids had fun and so did the parents.  They brought snacks and had drinks from the bar before they caught the bus to San Francisco and the boat which cruised the Bay all evening.  It sounds like they all had a really good time. 

I am pooped out from all the activity - good thing I have a few weeks to re-group before the next big event!

Thursday, May 12, 2011


In the news yesterday is the story that the cost of tuition at the California State Colleges will  be $7,400 which is more than double the $3,523 in tuition and fees in 2007-08.  So in the first year of her college education, our youngest daughter's tuition cost will double that of her brother who is graduating next week. 

And really, what is the surprise there?  The cost of everything is going up, right?  We run around refusing to tax the wealthy, allow corporations to avoid paying taxes because we are afraid they will continue to send jobs overseas, we hide our heads in the sand and sing la-la-la when anyone talks to us about raising our taxes and so we pay, pay, pay in every other way.

The problem we are also not addressing is that in addition to the cost of everything going up - is that our compensation for our work is going down.  According to Robert Reich: 

In order to keep the jobs they have, millions of Americans are accepting shrinking paychecks. If they’ve been fired, the only way they can land a new job is to accept even smaller ones.

The wage squeeze is putting most households in a double bind. Before the recession, they’d been able to pay the bills because they had two paychecks. Now, they’re likely to have one-and-a half, or just one, and it’s shrinking.

On the on the other hand:

The biggest irony is that the Street is doing wonderfully well right now, in contrast to most Americans. Corporate profits for the first quarter of the year are way up. That’s largely because corporate payrolls are down.

Payrolls are down because big companies have been shifting much of their work abroad where business is booming. The Commerce Department recently reported that over the last decade American multinationals (essentially all large American corporations) eliminated 2.9 million American jobs while adding 2.4 million abroad.

So no matter what the politicians say, those jobs are not coming back.  As long as we continue to support big corporations with tax  write-offs and loopholes, that money will continue to flow overseas.  In the meantime, businesses continue to find ways to cut wages, automate and delete employees and threaten to remove any bargaining power employee unions have, safety measure supported by government agencies and  civil rights protections.

In the past business had a big stake in education.  They needed their future workers, their capable leaders.  Now - they skim the cream off the top and get the rest overseas.  The top folks can afford whatever kind of education and lifestyle they want  for their families- so these issues don't touch them.  Gone are the days when American companies cared about contributing to their country.  They only care about what their country will contribute to them.

My family has personally experienced multiple job losses,  lower earnings, rising tuition costs, the inability to graduate from college in 4 years because of cuts to classes and faculty, the lack of government services due to budget cuts, threats to retirement and other union negotiated compensation, loss of earnings due to corporate malfeasance and other problems related to the economic crash.   We have all educated ourselves, are working hard, raising good kids and we are wondering what the hell the future holds for us and more importantly - for them.

Friday, May 6, 2011


1.)  Ally and I had a girl's night out and saw Water for Elephants.  I read the book years ago and loved it, she read it more recently.  I was skeptical of the casting and I am always wary of move adaptations of books I like but was willing to spend the money to see it in the theater and I am actually glad I did.  It was enjoyable and as good an adaptation of a book to film as I have seen in a long time. 

I realized that the reason so many books I love are so terrible on film is the issue of  time - there just is not time enough to tell the complex layers of story and character in the 2 hours or less that we are willing to sit in the theater. I still think that the book was much richer and more satisfying but it was worthwhile - and not just because I had a nice night out with my daughter!

2.)  It was predicted that after hatstrvaganza of the royal wedding that the ladies of the US would start strutting their bonnets more frequently than Easter and Derby Day.  Apparently there were a number of them at the Metropolitan Gala this week in New York.

Of course, the most talked about ones are those worn by Fergie's girls.  I did take a look at some of the other hats worn by Beatrice and I found that the one worn to the wedding was far from the wackiest - and the fact that her coat and shoes were so nice sort of took the edge of the GaGaesque factor.  No such excuse for young miss Eugenie - both dress and hat were really bad.  To think of having all that money and no taste...or at the least no advisers with her best interests at heart.

3.)  In the Bay Area we are paying $4.19 a gallon for regular gas.  Ten days ago when I last filled up it was $4.12.  I am lucky that I normally don't need to drive much, I can go about 3 weeks on a tank of gas.

I just read in the paper that high gas prices have caused consumers to cut back on their driving and that after 6 weeks of dropping demand, the oil companies are concerned that less driving by Americans (read less interest in buying their high priced gas) is going to undermine the economic recovery

Okaaay.  The oil companies are taking 4 billion dollars of taxpayer subsidies a year and Exxon Mobil reported Thursday that its profit rose 69 percent to $10.65 billion during the first three months of the year.
When the President made a speech on the ridiculous Republican stance on the subsidies, Exxon responded calling it “predictable political positioning but no action to actually help bring down energy prices.”

Uh.  Bringing down oil prices seems to me to be in the power of the guys making 10 billion dollars every 3 months.

4.)  The hotel plays the same recorded acoustic music every day for months on end. ( I was about out of my mind by the first of the year from the Holiday Mix.)  Since then the mix is quite eclectic.  Some new age sounding stuff, a few jazzy tunes and a jarring little number that is sort of gypsy music on steroids.  The one that cracks me up though is the strings version of the Amy Winehouse song Rehab.  Bet she never thought she'd earn residuals from Muzak!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


On Saturday April 30 they closed off the streets around the VFW Hall in my town for a memorial service.  A young man from my town, Army Specialist Jameson Lindskog, was killed in Afghanistan on March 29.  He was 23, the age of my son.  A young man under his command flew in from the Middle East and was hosted by our hotel while he attended the service.

On Sunday May 1 a guest came into the hotel and asked if I had heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed.  I spoke out loud my first reaction - it won't change anything.  He seemed surprised by my reaction.  I have been surprised by the reactions of many Americans considering the fact that they call the people of other countries barbaric and sub-human for celebrating American deaths.

And, really, what have all these deaths gotten anyone?  And why are they continuing?  And it isn't just death, is it?  There are nearly 200,000 disabled vets now.  Two Hundred Thousand young people whose lives are forever altered, whose families lives are forever changed no matter how happy they are that their soldier survived.  The suicide rate of vets from these wars is occurring at a rate of 18 per day

So we managed to kill Bin Laden.  Hurrah.  What does that change?  We went to war in two countries and he was sitting around in a

third country to which we have been sending millions of dollars that our vets could really use to try to put their lives back together.  Not to mention the people of this country who need jobs and education and health care.

So really, what is it we are celebrating?  Are the wars over?  Is everyone coming home?  Will the military budget be shifted from the industry of war to the needs of those who have served?