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.