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,, 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!