Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I had my visit with the Gynecologist today.  I am now on a three year rotation for Pap Exams, so it has been a while. When the doctor asked me why I made the appointment I said I was doing my duty - she liked that.

I found it interesting that there is now a whole speech that the doctor gives about cervical cancer and the  Human  Papillomavirus Virus (HPV). 

Just last week I heard that a young woman I worked with years ago (who had been infected with HPV by a
wandering former fiancee and has been fighting cervical cancer since she was 26 years old) just found out for certain that she would not be able to get pregnant.  Such a shame and so sad. 

When Kaiser first started offering the HPV vaccine for girls I jumped on board and had both my daughters vaccinated and tried really hard to get them to vaccinate my son, too.  They wouldn't then and by the time they offered it for boys they said he was "too old" at 22.

I know I have written about this before.  I just want to keep putting it out there that the vaccine is safe and it is the only vaccine against cancer that exists.  Our sons can be infected and they can spread that virus to their sexual partners without knowing it. Healthy men who contact HPV usually don't have side effects and the virus passes through their system without creating health problems.  However, they can get genital warts and in about 17% of the cases, they can get cancer of the penis or anus (this is most likely for gay men engaging in unprotected sex but can occur in straight males, too.)

So I am continuing to do my duty by passing on this important message to vaccinate our kids and grand kids and try to eradicate this cancer which is causing so much pain and misery.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


We were out on the bikes early today because it is supposed to get very hot - we are having record setting temperatures this month. I had Tom take a photo in front of the mustard plants because they shot up over my head in the past 2 weeks since we rode this trail!  Last weekend we went a different route so I could get some hill climbing practice!

I am loving my new helmet, it's so cool and light.  I can see from the photo that I need to hem the sleeves of my shirt.  (I got it on sale at REI and just lopped off the long sleeves.) Another thing I see in the photo is my need for a better sport bra!  Very uni-boob and low here. Photos are so enlightening...

Anyway - I am amazed at how much stronger I am getting on the bike.  I am using the higher numbered gears a lot more and Tom measured our average pace at 12 mph this trip.  Next weekend is our bike "event" along the Sacramento River. I am confident of the distance, just a little worried about how crowded it might be as I get nervous with other people riding close to me! 

In other news - I am loving my new job!  It is  amazing how fast the day goes by and I am having fun helping put the design orders together for the stagers. The new employers are happy with me and how quickly I am catching on to everything which is very validating.

Monday, April 22, 2013


I've been pretty dissatisfied with my current job for some time so I have kept an eye on Craigslist and other job sites.  I have also been working at an alternative to a regular job by signing on with Rodan and Fields Dermatologists as a consultant.  I really enjoy representing the skin care line and I know I could build it up into a more lucrative business and will continue to work on that.

In the meantime, I have done a couple of interviews and this weekend I was offered a new job!  I am really excited about it - more money, better benefits and I will be working with a bunch of creative woman again.  It is for a home staging company which also does furniture and accessory rentals for stagers.

They are crazy busy and I look forward to being in a busy job again.  Time just drags when there is nothing going on and that has been the case with my current position for months now.  Between that and the "boss with no boundaries" I am glad to be moving on.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


1.)   All of these gun people and all their excuses proclaimed as "protecting their rights" at the peril of
everyone around them are just making me sick to my stomach.  It is clear that they want to go back to the Wild West and have everyone armed and brandishing their weaponry and shooting it out in the streets.  They are thugs.  And don't  even go there about the "hunters." An excuse for archaic, bad behavior.

2.)  I understand from Time magazine that the gourmet cupcake industry is collapsing.  I have never managed to have a gourmet cupcake.  I have missed the trend completely. We don't seem to have cupcake shops out where I live - the closest we have is Nothing Bundt Cake.  They have tiny bundt cakes which are frequently served at my book club meetings. Maybe the news is premature and I will still get my chance.

3.)  I admit that I use my status as a cranky old bag to honk, wag my finger and otherwise attempt to discourage people I see driving and using their cell phones. And I don't even care about getting flipped off - which happens.

The reason I do this is because my son and my husband spend a lot of time on their bikes on the road - they have close calls pretty much every time they go out because of distracted drivers.  And statistically it isn't teens who are the worst culprits  - it's adults.  In fact, 78 percent of mothers with children under age two acknowledge talking on the phone while driving with their babies; 26 percent say they text or check their e-mail.

There have been previous studies that show that texting while driving is six times as dangerous as driving drunk. The fact that 39 states have recently banned texting while driving does not seem to be helping the problem at all.

If we're living in a world where 50 percent of the drivers around you might be texting as they drive, that puts everyone around them at risk.  People interviewed who admit to driving while texting and using the phone seem only to focus on their own safety. I am much more concerned with the lives they seem to have forgotten about - the lives of the people they will mow down.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Last weekend Tom and I went on our longest bike ride so far - 33 miles.  We were back on the Iron Horse Trail for most of it, but rode from out from our house to the trail on the streets.  I am getting much more comfortable with riding with cars.

Killer Tree Balls of Death
At a couple of points Tom had me riding in front of him because I was wearing dark colors and he felt he was more visible in traffic.  He reminded me that the lead rider is supposed to point out road hazards.  So I was pointing out the sights - like poppies, graffiti and dachshunds in addition to potholes and "killer tree balls" which, fortunately are falling in fewer numbers in the past weeks (hit those things with your bike tire and be prepared for a fall.)

Then I got a call Saturday afternoon about a job I applied for.  Had a nice phone interview and was scheduled for an interview - hurrah.  So, of course, I had to go shopping for an interview outfit. I headed over to JCP, coupon in hand.

Aren't these cute?

I told Tom I would only be out a short while.  I got there and had pulled about 10 things to try on from the plus size department and they were all too big.  So I had to start over, figure out where to go and start pulling things to try on all over again. 

Tom thought this was hilarious when I explained why it took so long.  I know I am much smaller but I guess I am still plus size in my mind. I actually bought a pair of pants in a size 14!  Strangely enough, another similar pair by the same designer fit me in size 16.  So I really had to try 2 sizes of everything and made several trips in and out of the dressing rooms. 

Sheer with a Cami underneath - goes with 2 pairs of pants I own.
I managed to buy 5 tops and 3 bottoms for about $125.00 - all of them in the Liz Claiborne department.  I wore a lot of her clothes back in my college days - just love that the designer who has taken over the line, Isaac Mizrahi, is still doing such great, colorful and classic clothes.

Now I just have to figure out which outfit to wear for my interview today!

PS - The interveiw went really well - I should hear by Friday...

Monday, April 15, 2013


Tuesday means we are doing the Time Warp - hosted by Jenn at Juggling Life; a chance to show our family photos and tell the stories behind them.  Come by and see who is playing this week.

This was taken on our last Spring Break trip in 2001, back in the days when we had much more disposable income!  It was also the hey day of Las Vegas promoting itself as a Family Fun Destination - before they gave up on that concept and let the hookers back onto the streets.

We stayed for a couple of days at the old school Caesar's Palace and then 2 more days at the Mandalay Bay where the wave pool and lazy river was big fun, even though it was a bit cool that week. This photo was taken the night we went to New York, New York and rode the rides and played in the arcade.


Remember this?  His money is offshore, too.
 Tax day news:  Looks like the rich are sheltering up to $32 TRILLION DOLLARS in cash in the British Virgin Islands... but now we'll be finding out who they are since a leak has revealed their names and emails.

Now this is not just Americans, the list includes tax cheats across the world. It adds up to almost half the world's GDP.  It is staggering to think what could be done if that  money wasn't hidden away but paid in taxes where they are owed.  Poverty and disease eradicated, education elevated and made available to all. Just think of all the good that could be accomplished if there wasn't so much greed.  And don't get me started on all the alleged charitable donations these wealthy people say they contribute - most of them are write-offs which don't come out of their pockets secret bank accounts.

I say that as someone who paid over $50,000. in taxes this year.  Not exactly small change for anyone and a huge burden for us.  We know that there are all kids of ways we could lower our tax bill but that would involve misrepresentations, otherwise known as cheating. A risk we are not interested in taking but more importantly it involves moral turpitude, which we are not interested in, either!

Friday, April 12, 2013


1.)  I watched the movie Hope Springs last night.  I heard contradictory reviews from friends so I wasn't sure if I would like it - I didn't.  It lacked credibility that 2 people in their early 60's would be so uptight and closed off sexually throughout their marriage

Because it wasn't just about drifting apart; much of the focus was on the narrow experience they shared (and the woman's efforts to resolve them.)  I am not saying that all of us who came of age in the 60's and early 70's were into sex, drugs and rock & roll as the myth goes, just that we were generally much more enlightened than these characters. 

2.)  And speaking of age.  The website IMBd, which has information on actors, is being sued by an actress who says she lost work when they reveled her age.  She had tried to falsify her age when she signed up, but they fact checked it, change the listing to reflect her actual age of 41 and she sued.

The most interesting thing about the suit is the judge's determination that ageism in Hollywood could NOT be introduced as evidence for the plaintiff.  I can understand that is not the direct issue - but it is the real issue, isn't it?

3.)  I have been having bouts of insomnia.  Most times I just get up and read until I feel sleepy.  I try not to watch TV but last night my Nook needed a charge so I checked out the TV options at 12:30am.  I ended up watching The Right Stuff  for probably the 7th time.  What a great movie - and a great book by Tom Wolff, too. 

Speaking of books - just finished our book club selection:  What Alice Forgot. Wonderful book.  Funny and thought provoking.

4.)  On my drive to work, right before Easter, I noticed that someone had put out some ceramic pumpkins on their porch.  The bright orange caught my eye.  They are still there and this morning I noticed that they added a fall foliage wreath to the door.  There is a story there...

Monday, April 8, 2013


Time Warp Tuesday and I am prepared this week!  Hosted by Jenn - a chance to show our favorite photos and tell the stories behind them.  Check out the other participants here.

It is softball season here. Every time I pass by the sports park and see all the kids there I go back in time. We spent many years on those fields and fields all around the Bay Area with the summer traveling teams.

Zac played baseball for many years, too, until he was diagnosed with Osgood Slaughter disease making his knees too painful to play. Maggie played from first grade (on a Little League team because there was no softball where we lived) until she discovered rowing as a junior in high school. The last year she played the regular season in the league (before playing for her high school) her team came in 3rd in the Western Championships. We got to go to Santa Fe New Mexico for that tournament. Ally played until middle school when she switched to soccer 2 seasons a year.

Ally during her first season of tee-ball.

Maggie playing summer ball at a tournament in Tahoe.

Tom and I got very into photography during those years and took hundreds of photos which we made into memory books for the girls on the teams.


Shadow Cliffs Regional Park
 This weekend we rode our bikes to Livermore - the next town over.  We are connected by a busy 4 lane road which has recently been done up with new landscaping, a barrier between the cars and the newly paved trail and the removal of all the overhead power lines.  

It could be a lovely ride if not for the very loud and constant traffic.  The new trail covers about 5 miles and is nicely done; there are much better views of the Regional Park which we pass by at the start of the ride and eventually when the landscaping matures, the gravel works on the other side of the road will be better obscured.  Some years from now the gravel works will be expired and the plan is for all of the pits remaining to be converted by the regional parks system into a "chain of lakes" park.  One of the original pits is already part of the park and a popular fishing spot due to frequent stocking. There are some nice hiking trails and the park is used by the local high schools for their cross country meets. In summer months it's also a popular swimming beach and picnicking location - so seeing it expanded would be a huge plus for the area.

Downtown Livermore
 Once in downtown Livermore we stopped at Tom's favorite spot, Panama Red's.  We had a drink and sat outside to people watch.  We are having a stormy week - or at least the threat of storms, so not too many people were out.  We rode back into the wind with obvious rain ahead of us over the foothills, but we lucked out and the rain moved west. 

We covered about 18 miles and worked on a 10 mph pace in preparation for our bike event next month.  I did fine and even better - I wore my new bike capris and jersey for the first time!

Thursday, April 4, 2013


1.)   Had a discussion about fraternities before our book club meeting got onto the book discussion (those packs organizations.  I was very happy that my son, actually, I was also glad my daughters had no interest in "Greek Life."
of you in a book club know how THAT goes...) and there was agreement that the boys act like tools when they get together in these

It seems like the kids in those groups fall into negative and sexist roles at a time in their lives when they should be opening up and looking at each other as individuals and equals. 

But of course we can't get away from the sexism even as "grown-ups."  Witness Bloomberg's Businessweek:  the magazine's website recently asked readers to vote on which business school had the most attractive female students.  Geez.

The good news is that they were shamed into taking the poll off their site after a few days.

2.)  I was in REI to pick up an order and there was a mom with 1 little  boy strapped to her back and another one, about 4 or 5 years old by her side.  I didn't catch the whole interaction but the boy was asking (probably for the umpteenth time) about where his backpack was. 

Mom turned to him and said "Look at my eyes.  Now calm down.  Let's take a deep breath together."  He looked at her and they both took a deep breath.  Then he said "Let's take a deep breath together." And they did.  She finished the transaction and off they went.  Wow.  What a great lesson she is teaching her son.  So much better than drugging him up.

3.)  Speaking of sons, I want to say how proud I am of mine. He is going through a difficult time in his personal life which has caused him such heartache and thrown his plans for his future into turmoil. He is handling the situation with a grace, thoughtfulness and kindness that just amazes me.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


1. What were you doing 10 years ago?

In 2003 I was a stay at home mom.  I had 3 kids in school; 2 of them involved in multiple sports and another involved in volunteer activities.  The twins had their learner's permits and wanted to practice driving all the time.  Hilda, our little dachshund was still alive then, too.

We owned our own home, about 3000 square feet I kept clean and maintained. I had a very large vegetable garden and had just started making mosaics as a hobby. 

 It was the last year I got to be a full time homemaker before Tom started his law practice in our garage and I went out into the world of low paying work.

2.  What 5 things are on your to-do list?

I need to buy a new lock for the gym because Ally accidentally took mine with her when she went back to school. 

A pedicure. 

There are 3 bags and a box of donation items that need to make it to the curb tonight. 

The taxes are almost done but I need to print them out for Tom to review.

My sewing machine needs to go in for service.

3. What are 5 snacks do you enjoy?

I have to maintain a low carb diet:

Roasted almonds
Sunflower seeds
Dark Chocolate covered Almonds (sugar free)
Pink Grapefruit sections
Celery stuffed with peanut butter

4. Name some things you would do if you were a millionaire:

A million isn't much money anymore, so if I only had 1 million -  I would pay off the student loans and our tax debt, buy a house, quit my job and bank anything left over to pay for my health care benefits which is the only reason I work.

If I was bringing in a million or more a year - all the above plus the long desired trip to France with Tom,  decorating our house, paying for grad school for the kids, buy Tom a new car and a custom bicycle, plastic surgery after I reach my weight loss goals and repay my friend who paid for my surgery.

5. Name some places you have lived:

I was born in Moscow, ID and lived in Boise while my dad was away in Korea.  When he came home, I grew up in Stockton and Walnut Creek here in CA.  I lived in San Diego through school (except for 1 semester in Washington DC where I had an internship) and grad school, then moved to Oakland where we lived until we bought our first home in Benicia.  We moved to Bellevue, WA and lived there for 5 years, then back to the Bay Area to Pleasanton where we live now.

6. Name some bad habits you have:

Procrastination in a few areas including keeping up scrapbooks - I am about 10 years behind.  I occasionally don't pay bills on time which costs me a lot of money and trouble.  I make too much food and then have to throw it away - I need to get used to the empty nest.

7. Name some jobs you have had:

As a student I did lots of things like address envelopes for mass mailings and telephone soliciting; I have worked in and managed student dorms,  restaurants, the library and as a research assistant. My most interesting job in those years was answering phones for an "escort service."

After graduations I was a restaurant manager and did legal compliance and  marketing for a nutritional supplements company. 

Now I have crap jobs because I am over 50 and spent 16 years home with kids and I know I am lucky to even have crap jobs which offer health insurance!

If you are suffering from a lack of inspiration - steal this prompt!

Monday, April 1, 2013


Tom and I took Friday off to spend a little extra time with Ally before she went back to school.  We hit the outlet mall and had a grand time with Tom's credit card! Then we went over to our favorite wine bar for refreshments and some great bar food.  They served Ally which made it even more fun!

We were worn out from shopping and had a little buzz so we went home and got comfy and watched some TV.

The next morning we hauled Ally out of bed and all went to Zumba class!  So fun. 

I bought about 5 bags of groceries to stock Ally's kitchen and drove her back to San Francisco.  Got back, changed into some of my new clothes and went out for a great time with my sisters and their husbands.

Sunday we made it to the gym again, ran some quick errands and then we collapsed like the old farts we are.