Monday, September 30, 2013


Three days after our third dancing class I came down with a cold.  Reality dictates that dancing with 10 men who are dancing with 10 women  means someone in the group is passing around some germs which someone else is bound to catch.  Oh well, a week of complete physical misery coupled with my co-worker being away on vacation left me pretty wiped out.  I spent only a bit of time online, panic led to some bills getting paid, I cooked a little for Tom,  but really did little more than sleep and work for about 10 days.  

One e-mail got my attention which led to a quick Facebook post.  That was the boycott of Barilla products following the ignorant and insensitive remarks made by the CEO of the company with regard to the LGBT community which he "doesn't agree with" and prefers his products be sold to traditional families.  He and the company have been backpedaling and trying to stem the fallout with some  poorly chosen new comments.

The whole thing came about when the CEO was asked about advertising his pasta with same sex couples as many other food companies have been doing.  He launched into a statement which went far beyond "not aware of any current plans to do that" which would have been the way to answer.  Instead he offered up his personal opinion about not liking "the things that they do."  

Some people have suggested that boycotting companies (or countries) which express this ignorance and disdain for equality or make judgments on their fitness to have families, etc. is some sort of liberal bullying and pushing of a "gay agenda."  As someone who has long refused to do business with companies with policies I find offensive, abusive or unfair, I call BS on that.  How else can we as consumers and members of a democratic society express out opinions but by calling out what we don't like, calling attention to it and avoid financing such behaviors by not spending our money there?

I am well aware that there are a great many businesses which are likely backed by much smarter people who hold much worse opinions - they just have the savvy not to expose themselves the way Mr. Barilla has. When and if they let their colors show I will make a similar determination about supporting their business or products.  

Do I only buy from liberal, left wing, progressive companies - no.  But when I am aware that there are forces behind a company I do buy from which I disagree with - I stop.  I don't have a specific agenda - just a conscience and a pocketbook I can choose to open to some and not to others.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


So the night I hosted book club, my husband Tom went out with his buddy John to hear some jazz.  Turns out the "jazz night" wasn't what they expected.  

That Tom and John found each other is one of those things that happen in the universe - they are both attorneys, musicians, and  funny guys.  They bring out the silly in each other. Tom tried to turn John into a bike rider but John fell off his bike rolling along in a residential neighborhood and broke his hip - so they don't do sports together any more except for going to the local theater to watch football on the big screen and drink beer.
Back to the jazz night.  Turns out that the other attendees of jazz night were a lot of women of a certain age who made it very clear that they were there to dance.  I questioned the dance -ability of jazz but that is not part of the story.  Tom and John spent the evening having cocktails and coming up with a plan to buy "shiny clothing", learning to dance and then going out and offering their dancing services to these women.  When I pointed out that Tom has danced maybe 3 times since our wedding 29 years ago, he shrugged.  Really, it was all about the outfits.  Whether they should do sequins and epaulets and maybe embroider their names on I said.  Silly men.

Of course, when I explained that women do tend to love to dance and that a man who could really dance was a rare and magical creature,  I guess I got Tom's attention because a week or so later we went out for an introductory West Coast Swing dance lesson.  Now we are taking lessons every Monday night.

Each woman I have told about this interesting development says their husband would never voluntarily take dance lessons.  I would have said the same thing.  Something has happened in this second year of our empty nest.  My husband has been so much more focused on the quality of our time together, more interested in developing our social life and expanding our activities.

On the way home from our second dance lesson we had a great time talking about all the other couples in the class and how they danced and partnered (they make you change partners every few minutes so we dance with all the other members of the class!) We will never be that couple who gets into the dance thing and travels around doing competitions, but we can already see that  it is a great activity and opportunity to meet some new people - which is harder and harder to do after the kids are grown.

Plus dancing clothes!


Thursday, September 12, 2013


1.)   Like many people, we are riveted by the last episodes of Breaking Bad - which we have watched and loved since the first season.  Can't say the same about Dexter which is also coming to an end.  It was once as well written and engaging, but is limping to a close.

Don't see anything that is going to take the place of these shows - I'm looking forward to one more season of Mad Men starting next year.  I like Homeland but Tom can't get past Carrie's twitchiness.  He likes Survivor and I won't watch it.  I don't know when Downton Abbey starts up again but will be watching that for sure. 

I don't see anything on the fall lineup to bring me back to network TV, so more time for the internet and reading, I guess.  Or maybe I'll finally watch some of the shows and movies I have recorded on the DVR!

4.)  Tom is thrilled that AMC is going to make a spin off called "Better Call Saul" about Walter Whites sleazy lawyer.  He and his attorney buddy are always talking about going for it and advertising like Saul.

3.)  I grew up at the foot of Mt. Diablo which has been in the news due to a wildfire burning there this week.  I now live about 20 miles south of the mountain and get to gaze at it everyday as I drive to work.  They have controlled the fire and no homes or major structures were lost.  It has been weird to see the smoke, have the helicopters (which scoop water from a nearby reservoir and carry it to the fire) and air tankers flying over us all week in the efforts to put the fire out.  It has been even more strange to read and hear comments from people all over the country talking about the event with so much misinformation and nonsense being spouted. 

The worst part of the story was that 2 fire stations were broken into and personal belongings of the firefighters were stolen while they were out working.  Really.  That happened. 

4.)  Gov. Jerry Brown and the leaders of the California state Legislature have passed a bill that would raise the state's minimum wage to $10 an hour.

“The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs,” Brown said in a statement. “This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy.”
I know a lot of people think $10.00 is much more than businesses can pay - however, the city of San Francisco has had a minimum wage in excess of $10. an hour for several years (it is now $10.55) and while there is complaining, there seem to be few businesses who have not managed to meet the cost.  
Ten dollars an hour is still not a living wage - at least not in this very expensive part of the country, but it will make it more possible for people to pay their bills and maybe have some spending money to spread around and support the local economy.
5.) My Nook is starting to act up - and this is my second one in 3 years.  I am afraid it is going to stop working any time now, right in the middle of the book I am reading.
I am thinking that I may have to give up my ban on Amazon and purchase a Kindle if it happens.  They just don't appear to have the failure rate I am experiencing - and, quite frankly, I really dislike the Barnes & Noble website.  Plus the Amazon e-books are less expensive.
 I guess this is yet another downside of the e-readers - having all these books that can not only be shared with other people but can't be transferred to other devices.  I know a lot of people have tablets they use as readers, but I am not sure I can afford one of those. Time to start researching, because I recognize the signs of Nook failure in the works.

Monday, September 9, 2013


It's Tuesday again - let's do the Time Warp!  Hosted by Jenn this is the chance to share our family photos and stories.  Check into see who else is playing along.

This is Ally on the occasion of her 9th birthday.  She and Hilda are sporting festive Cinderella birthday hats and not so thrilled expressions. This, in part, because we made the mistake of inviting my sister and her family to celebrate with us since her cousin Isabel shares her birthday.  Isabel is a few years younger and didn't mind sharing her party, but we never made that mistake again as Ally likes her birthday to herself.

Ally is 20 today - no longer a teenager, and, I suspect, not wearing a festive hat!

This photo is not a time warp but one taken a few weeks ago when we were in Idaho.  Isn't she a pretty birthday girl?

Sunday, September 8, 2013


We only rode for about 12 miles on Saturday - out along  a residential and vineyard lined road to Starbucks (where I purchased a gift card to put in Ally's birthday box) along with my iced tea enjoyed on the patio overlooking the vineyards and the hills.

It is a nice ride but there is a killer hill on the way back which I always have to get off my bike and walk up - until Saturday, that is! I finally rode the hill to the top.  Whoo hoo!

There was a reason we just went on a short ride - well, two reasons.  It was going to be over 100 degrees on Saturday and I didn't want to be riding in that heat.  Also, we went out on Friday night and wore ourselves out.  Tom got it in his head that we should take dance lessons (long story) and found a place that offered an hour long introduction to West Coast Swing for only $5.00.

Not our class but this is pretty much what it looked like!
After along day of work, a light dinner and a couple of drinks in us, we wet to the dance studio.  There were a dozen people there already dancing, others were arriving and changing into their dancing shoes.  It was intimidating.  Eventually they herded all the first timers into a room in the back and we had a whirlwind lesson
on the basic 6 moves.

The guy directs the type of pass the woman does while she is moving up and back in a "slot" of space.  There were steps to count, hand positions to learn and turns to be done in the proper way.  Oh.  And the "sugar push."  So we practiced the moves, and watched the professionals who looked nothing like the rest of us when they did the same thing!

Then they dimmed the lights and opened up all the spaces for dancing.  We gave it another half an hour when dizziness and sore feet took their toll.  We are going back, but maybe I need to get some of those special dancing shoes...

Thursday, September 5, 2013


1.)  My mother in law died in 1986.  She lived in New York but Tom handled the estate and so her mailing
address was attached to us.  For all these many years and 7 moves, her mail has continued to follow along.  Most of it has been from AARP and other "senior" related businesses but we get credit card applications and other stuff, too.  For 27 years!!

Today I received more mail for her - a postcard for college entrance exam tutoring.  So now that she would be 87 years old, she has landed on a list for college bound students.  I think my children will still be getting mail for the grandma they never met long after I am gone!

2.)  Tom and I braved the crowds and went to the outlet mall on Sunday with all the back to school shoppers.  We actually had fun in the crowds. I picked up more of the Tommy Hilfiger shirts I love (in a smaller size.)  For the first timer in my life I went into J Crew.  The saleswoman may have been trying to flatter me by bringing me a size 8 pair of pants (I bought them in a 12) I also got a cool denim shirt with pearl snaps - now I can't wait for Fall weather!  

3.)  We have been nervous about Zac's job search following the end of his AmeriCorps service.  He has occasional shifts at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a 4 week engagement with SeaLab which is an outdoor ed camp for students - but nothing steady was falling into place.  Then he got a call from REI (part time but they offer benefits!!) and then he got a call from a home brewing store in Marina looking for a part time worker.  They had heard about Zac in the home brew community and got his number from someone who went into the store to buy him a gift certificate!  He is thrilled that he gets to work in 2 stores which involve his hobbies - though we did discuss not spending all his money there...

We are much relieved that he is gainfully employed during this year off before he starts grad school and that he gets to do things he really enjoys on top of it.  (Plus REI discount.  Whoohoo.)

4.)   I think I have complained about the house we are renting and have also complained about still being here long after we expected ( 7 years!!) and have mentioned one of the reasons why it doesn't work for us is the "open concept" floor plan which is inexplicably popular.

 Now I am reading opinions of others who share my distaste for this floor plan.  Having the kitchen open to the living rooms and dining room is noisy and messy and I cannot wait to start looking for new digs next Fall when I am promised by my husband that we will finally move.

5.)  We have had many occasions this summer to enjoy eating meals on the patios and sidewalk  areas of local restaurants.  We have been surprised to find that each restaurant we frequented was allowing people to have their dogs with them in these outdoor areas.

Most of the time it was okay but there were some annoying situations, too.  Has this become the norm across the country or it it just here in the Bay Area?  What do you think about sharing your meal with dogs?

Monday, September 2, 2013


Time Warp Tuesday again - Hosted by Jenn this is an opportunity to share our family photos and stories behind them.  Check in to see who else is playing along this week.

Summer is winding down and I will finish my Time Warp Tuesday summer posts with a photo I captured at the beach in Santa Cruz about 13 years ago.  Tom and Zac were studying the waves and discussing how to use his new boogie board.   I love this father son moment.