Simply ordinary observations from an ordinary person - sometimes having to do with health care issues, sometimes not. Topics will change as my attention wanders. Yours probably will too....

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Coughin' the night away

Have you tried buying over-the-counter cold medicine lately? If not, here's a piece of advice. Pretend like you're going to the airport instead of the drug store and take your photo ID!

Because of really, really bad luck I've been sick for the past 10 days. I know it's 10, because I've been counting each one. In order to get through the Christmas celebrations, I needed heavy duty cold medication. So far I've consumed one bottle of cough syrup, one dose of Nyquil, one package of Sudafed, and one large package of throat lozenges. The coughy syrup was useless, the Nyquil turned me into a zombie with nightmares, and the Sudafed allowed me to breathe through Christmas dinner. I'm sucking on a throat lozenge right now.

But buying that stuff was not easy. I had to show ID each time and provide my signature. The Sudafed was the most complicated - I had to get that from the pharmacist and sign a ledger book like notary publics' use. Apparently I did not appear to be a meth-head because I was allowed to buy it. Whew!

Yesterday, out of sheer desperation and low oxygen levels, I purchased a "neti pot", upon recommendation by my wholistic health friend. The helpful sales clerk offered a demonstration but I declined. How hard can it be to pour water up your nose? Anyway, I will save you all the gross descriptions but I felt like I was undergoing self-induced waterboarding! I haven't been brave enough to try it again today and I don't see any huge improvement in my condition either.

I just turned down an invitation to go out for cocktails tonight. Now I really am feeling miserable.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Two Thumbs: Up or Down?

I walked out of a movie this afternoon, which I haven't done anytime in recent memory. I'm a rather careful movie goer and most of the time make good picks. But this one caught me by surprise.

The critics said "Best Audience Picture of 2008", "A Soaring, Crowd Pleasing Fantasy", "A Movie to Celebrate", and more. I'd seen the director and the actors interviewed on TV, watched a trailer, read the reviews, and thought I understood what I was going to see. Wrong!

Slumdog Millionaire has an R rating for "some violence, language, and disturbing images." A more accurate description would be "scenes of torture, debilitating poverty, deliberate mutilation of a child, murders, abuse, and extreme neglect." That was only the first 45 minutes. I couldn't take it - I'm not naive about third world countries and slum conditions but this was brutal. It just seemed wrong to be watching it during Christmas vacation and my friend and I agreed to cut it short.

The really nice theater attendant said about 4 people per showing have the same reaction, and that the film is lighter and more positive in the 2nd half. I will have to wait for the DVD. Maybe on a smaller screen, where I can skip thru entire scenes, it will be easier to watch. I'm not sure.

But it felt very good to walk out onto an American street surrounded by clean, well-cared for children enjoying the freedom of their winter break. Ironically, I suppose the effect the movie had on me is indicative of great film making. I will take a deep breath and try it again, but not on a big screen. Not to discourage anyone else, but make sure you're prepared!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry merry merry....

My goodness. Looks like my blog went on Christmas vacation while I was playing hostess, tour guide, and party goer. I'm feeling a bit licked clean - sort of like my mini-trifle dish here which was once filled with a Gingerbread, Toasted Almond, and Lemon Curd trifle. (My own invention and it was awesomely delicious as you can see from the dish. Ooops. I typed crud instead of curd. It was lemon curd!)

Things are almost back to normal now. The crumbs are vaccuumed, leftovers wrapped, wine glasses washed, bathroom restocked, recycling bin filled, and tree skirt straightened. The out of town visitors have departed, and it's just me, the cats, and new Sony Bravia flatscreen TV in the house tonight. I plan to light the new lavender spa candle, put on the new cushy socks, open one of the bottles of wine, and watch a DVD. Sounds nice doesn't it?

But what the heck - the credit card statement arrived today. Party poopers.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Heavenly Posts

I was without my computer for three nights this week, which felt a bit weird. How dependent I've become on my internet hobbies! However, it also gave me time to finally look at the manual for my new digital camera and play around with it. So here are more (better) angel pictures!

NOLA gets featured again - her first shot was not as flattering.

Now you get the full effect of her "do"!

This one is Battenburg lace. Very pristine.

She's a Country Girl - made from patchwork quilt scraps.

Hand painted wood, with lace accent. She looks Russian or Eastern European to me.

A definite favorite. She always hangs front & center on the tree. Painted wood with metal wings & stars.

An Obama girl - her banner says "Vote for Change, 08" Just kidding - it really says "Joy to the World". She's lovely.

Another one of lace - pleated top to bottom this time.

A group shot.

A forest angel - she's painted to look like a birch tree.

Very pretty for something made of string and ribbon.

Serene and old fashioned - she's a bit Edwardian.

Haute Couture of Heaven: thin, rich, and elegant.

OK, there's 12 - one for each of days remaining until Christmas. That's probably enough angels for one site!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Droppin' Shoppin'

I shouldn't be allowed in the stores right now. I took today off from work and drove 35 miles to one of the nicer malls in my area. The goal was to find something festive to wear to the company holiday party, which is this Saturday night. I've known the date of the party for 9 months, but still, it always seems to creep up on me and just like every other year I'm scrambling for an outfit again. Anyway, I had very good intentions.

But after 3.5 hours at the mall I had 2 lipsticks, a miniature Noel pitcher, a holly print tablecloth, spiced cedar foaming bath wash,and 3 pieces of Analon cookware! (These were not gifts either - all for me!) Everything except the lipstick was on sale. According to the store, I saved well over $100.00 on the cookware alone. However, if you noticed, I seem to have been in every department except clothing.

So I took my purchases to the car, stopped for a bite to eat because by then I was starving and then began the clothing search in earnest. Nothing fits right after lunch - I know that. In the end, I bought a cool black & white scoop neck cotton top, on sale for $29.99. But unless I can channel Scarlett and get creative with a tablecloth, I still have nothing to wear Saturday night. Aaarrggggh!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Angel Baby

Well it took 6 hours but the tree is up and looks very beautiful, if I do say so myself! Actually, I could say it looks downright heavenly since it is covered in stars and angel ornaments.

Thirty years ago, before angels became trendy and new-agey, a friend gave me a beautiful little porcelain angel ornament. The next year I bought another one. Then I started collecting angels on a casual basis. Now I have over 100 -- more than enough to do an entire tree. Each one has a story. Some were gifts, some were handmade, some were purchased on my travels. Here a just a few pictures:

She started it, with her porcelain perfection!

Bringing Tidings of Comfort & Joy

She's from New Orleans, LA. Her pigtails don't show well, but they're angelic.

She's Latina, from San Diego/Tijuana and is hand cut,hammered tin.

A Native American Angel, from Cody WY

This beautiful baby is afraid of hot water. He's all pasta, even the tiny little stars on his (wooden) head. I've had him 25 years, with only one little chip!

Hand crocheted by my sister, around a wooden clothes pin. So sweet!

Ribbons and bows - so simple!

Ginger's from the Great Smoky Mts. in TN. She's the only one who came with a name.

Nature Girl - she's a fir cone from the beautiful Pacific Northwest

Animal Kingdom - an angelic cat is an oxymoron. She's more likely to have horns than a halo.

I have about 80 more - but isn't Christmas fun?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Viva Las Christmas!

Either the Christmas season or the Las Vegas mob has arrived on my block. I'm not sure which. Three of the younger dads in the neighborhood appear to have an informal "my display is bigger than your display" competition running and the houses are lit from the curbs to the roof tops. Truly, they do resemble miniature Vegas casinos!

There are inflated Santas, snowmen, elves, candy canes, trains, and gift boxes. There are moving, grazing white deer. There are cone shaped trees and icicles and Noels and Merry Christmases. There are hedge covers, lawn stakes, wreaths, garlands, and stars. If Home Depot sells it, it's here!

This will give me an excuse to try the night time feature on my camera. But it's too cold out tonight. I'll try it on Saturday, just in case the guys install a few more features over the weekend.

Sometimes I wonder tho - aren't children getting confused about Christmas images? When I was little, we only had the Nativity scene and Santa. One year Macy's in SF had Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Pluto. That just did not seem right.
Anyway, the season has started. I hope the energy grid in my neighborhood survives the next 4 weeks. : - )0

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Don't have time to visit the gym right now? Here's an easy, fool proof way to increase your heart rate without ever leaving your car. 1) Drive to San Francisco to take in the holiday sights and atmosphere. 2) Cross the Bay Bridge and take the 5th Street exit. Proceed to Taylor and turn right. 3) Get ready now. Proceed up Taylor and turn right onto Sutter. 4) Feel your heartrate jump instantly into The Zone. Because Sutter is a one-way street and you just turned onto it going the wrong way!

That's what I did yesterday and realized my mistake immediately when all I could see was the front end view of 3 taxis approaching at taxi speeds. "Sh#t, sh*t, sh#t,sh*t" was my articulate response. But the amazing part was that the taxis were 3/4 of a block away, since they had been stopped at a red light. I made a Steve McQueen worthy U-turn across 4 lanes of Sutter and shot out of there like Santa going up the chimney. My friends (who may never let me be the driver again) said, "Let's not talk about this."

But I knew you'd all like this aerobic tip. Just try to time the red lights properly. Whew....

Thursday, November 27, 2008


OMG, my house smells incredible right now. I just finished my Thanksgiving dishes:

Green Beans with Mushrooms, Bacon & Caramelized Onions ,

Honey Roasted Yams with Cayenne, Cinnamon,& Lime Juice,

and Gingerbread with Crystalized Ginger & Lemon Zest Whipped Cream.

I walked outside and almost swooned when I came back in - that's how good it is. If I could bottle it, I'd never have to worry about my 401k again. But I can't so maybe that makes it even more special. This is going to be good for my car too, as I drive across town in about 30 minutes.

Happy Feasting Everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanks Full

Wow, it's only about 36 hours until our very special day of Thanksgiving, where we publicly celebrate all the wonderful, nice things in our lives. I try to do that in small ways everyday, but the holiday is so much more official. In addition to all the big things like family, friends, good job, good health, good health insurance, a home, 2 pets, adequate food & clothing, pleasant neighbors, and a generally enjoyable life here's a (very) random list of things I'm thankful for:

  • iPod. I love my iPod!

  • TV remote control - I can switch between House and Dancing with the Stars without disturbing the two cats on my lap.

  • My Kitchen Aid mixer - responsible for my reputation as baker of killer brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

  • Q-Tips. Useful for lots of tasks, not just for ears.

  • Rotary fabric cutter. I still have a quilt I cut with scissors and a cardboard template, but that was so primitive. The rotary and ruler, like rules.

  • An car with an automatic transmission. Especially when driving in San Francisco.

  • Fast Track for the bridge tolls. Especially when driving to & from San Francisco.

  • Hot water, bath soap, and deodorant. Makes public gatherings very pleasant. Without those, I would probably be a hermit.

  • Netflix. Absence of those red envelopes can spur minor anxiety attacks.

  • Supermarket grocery carts. Imagine trying to get all the Thanksgiving ingredients without one!

  • Disposable soft contact lenses. I can wear sunglasses, ski goggles, and snorkeling mask, look better, and pretend to not need reading glasses.

  • Black, 100% cotton, stretchy, elastic waist, comfortable sweatpants which are going to come in very handy over the next 5 weeks.

There's an even dozen. Have I forgotten anything important? Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Literary Smackdown

Pssssstttttt...... that's the sound of a rapidly deflating ego. Mine.

It started a couple of weeks ago when a friend forwarded a website link for amateur writers. It's an interesting site. Anonymous authors submit essays which are reviewed and ranked by anonymous readers. High ranking, ie popular, essays are awarded cash prizes. My friend likes my writing style and said "go for it!

So I did. I cut and pasted one of my blog pieces and spiffed it up a little bit. Then I waited for the anonymous reviews, assuming they would be impressed with my talents. Hah - I had a rude awakening. The reviews were less than complimentary. One said the piece "needs a lot of work". One said "story doesn't really lead anywhere special". One said I was "lacking in compassion" and another said "oddball. no heart." I'm not sure if they meant me or the essay!

My ego went down faster than Cindy-the-blow-up-doll when she was accidentally punctured with a nail file at my cousin's wild & crazy bachelorette party. I moped around the house for a couple of hours thinking about what a cold, heartless, insensitive, mediocre writer I am. Then I started to get irritated. So I logged back on the site to read some of the prize winning essays. Then I got really irritated. For the ones which had the most reviews and highest ratings were not all well written, but they are all very sad or emotional - tear jerkers about trauma or drama or painful life experiences.

I'm onto them now. I am going to resubmit. If they want emotion, I can do that. Nobody is going to say "needs a lot of work" about my next piece. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Global Warming

Seasonal change in my part of California is very fluid. It see-saws back and forth, rather than sliding smoothly across the calendar. For example, last weekend the sky was overcast and gray, temperatures were in the mid-50's, the furnace kicked on every 45 minutes, and I made a big pot of chicken chili. The season was late fall, sliding into early winter.

But this weekend? Not a single cloud, temps in the high 80's and at 8:30 p.m. last night I had windows and doors open to let the house cool off. I had grilled salmon and green salad for dinner. On November 15th. The season was early fall, sliding backwards to late summer.

I'm not trying to say this is a problem - but it is disorienting at times. The trees where I work do not seem confused tho - they definitely know it's autumn!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Please Don't Tell Michelle

OK, now I KNOW this presidential campaign has melted my brain. Obama was in my dreams last night, and it wasn't a Martin Luther King "I have a dream" theme. More like a Bill Clinton "I am a dream boat" kind of theme. Thanks goodness all I did (in the dream) was reach out and touch his fingertips. Those long, slender, sensitive looking fingertips. Geez Louise! He's a married man with two kids and he's ten years younger than I am. Besides, I hate politics.

This could be an interesting four years. I'm turning off CNN. What happens in the subconscious should stay in the subconscious. I swear to all my fellow Americans - that is NOT why I voted for him!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Country First

Several members of my family have gone beyond patriotic slogans and gestures. They've served in the military and given precious years to their country. This post is for them.

  • My Dad: US Army, WWII, South Pacific

  • My Oldest Brother: Infantry, US Marine Corps., Vietnam

  • My 2nd Brother: US Navy, USS Coral Sea, Vietnam

  • My Oldest Nephew: US Marine Corps, Desert Storm, Kuwait

  • My 2nd Nephew: US Marine Corps, Desert Storm, Kuwait

  • My 2nd Nephew's Wife: US Marine Corps, Desert Storm, Kuwait (romance in the desert!)

  • My 4th Niece's Husband: US Marine Corps Reserve, Iraq

  • My 11th Nephew: Oregon National Guard, Army Reserve, slated for Afghanistan June 2009
    • Thank you soldiers and sailor. Mission Accomplished.

      Sunday, November 9, 2008

      This Little Piggy

      My Missouri Grandmother had a folk-art plaque in her kitchen which read "Never wallow with a pig. You'll both get dirty but the pig likes it."

      Gramma, I've been wallowing with the pigs. Our local newspaper has an on-line site, of course, where readers can leave comments on items of interest. This was heavily used during the election and the most commented one right now is the "what will Sarah Palin do next?" article. There seems to be a small, but adamantly devoted, ultra-conservative faction here in town and they post frequent, repetitive, negative & under-educated opinions. I've been drawn to it like a fly to pig manure.

      But the thing is, it's way too easy to get them ruffled and riled. I'm guilty of manipulation because I recognize the hot buttons and know how to express some things in ways guaranteed to stir up the stye. I'm swearing off it tho. It's not a good use of my time and not a productive way to move our country forward. So, I'm making a virtual vow - no more intentional pig prodding or slop sloshing. I'm pulling my boots out of the muck and retreating to drier ground.

      The rest of the little piglets can keep snorting but my snout is out. (and no, I'm not trying to insult anyone with the pig reference - it's just a literary expression.) Oink.

      Saturday, November 8, 2008

      My head hurts this morning. I went out with friends last night to celebrate two birthdays. After we finished our thin-crust wood fired pizza and wine, we decided to go take a look at the new resort hotel which has just opened in our town.

      It's lovely, in a spare, modern kind of way. Lots of stone and metal surfaces, minimalist artwork and avante garde floral pieces. The courtyard has a combo gas fire pit and fountain, adjacent to a large pool and spa. The pool and spa were both empty. There were a few young, hip, upper income types sitting around the fire/fountain. Water, fire, and alcohol: a recipe for instant companionship.

      But my friend and I sat at the chic bar inside. Here's the interesting part. You can't just order a G & T or marguerita on the rocks. You browse thru a liquor menu, similiar to a wine list. When you find the premium brand you'd like - vodka, gin, tequila, single malts, etc. - then the bartender comes over and discusses how you'd like it mixed. It was a bit intimidating and all I wanted was a little nightcap. My friends are more savvy than I so I just said, "I'll have what they're having."

      That turned out to be one of the most delicious cocktails I've had in a long time - fresh ruby red grapefruit juice with a premium vodka. I don't know what else was in it, but it was sublime! Smooth, sweet, tart, with just a little tiny hint of the vodka. It tasted so healthy and fresh that we all had two more. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

      But now my head hurts. And I just checked my wallet and realized how much those little designer drinks cost me. Ouch. Hand me the Tylenol please! My weekend entertainment budget is shot. Looks like it'll be Netflix, Panda Garden Express, and the couch for me tonight.

      Thursday, November 6, 2008


      The winery where I work provides custom crush facilities for very small producers. This year, for the first time, we have kosher wine being made on premise. It's been an interesting cultural experience but also a bit stressful. Only the 2 rabbis and their Orthodox winemaker are allowed to touch anything involved in the process: grapes, yeast, tanks, pumps, filters etc. If the equipment stops working, we have to call a cell phone #. If the power goes out, we can't turn it back on. If we accidentally touch the tank, the wine cannot be labeled kosher.

      And I am an awful person. Because each time I walk by the tank with big Caution signs on it, I want to reach out a fingertip and touch the stainless steel. No one but God would see me. No one else would know that the wine had been contaminated by an unbeliever.

      But I won't do it. Maybe it's my Catholic guilt. Maybe it's because I don't want to get fired. Or maybe it's because sacred is sacred, even if, as an outsider, I can't really believe fully. Still, it will be relief when the wine is bottled and removed from temptation.

      Tuesday, November 4, 2008

      Thrill, Baby, Thrill!

      America, I am so proud of you! We can, we did, we will. I'm a 57 year old white female and I'm very happy for my country tonight. We chose hope, not fear. We're looking towards the future, not pining for the past. Congratulations. Let's work together now.

      Sunday, November 2, 2008

      Sinning on Sunday

      I'm sure there are people who use their extra hour in the fall to be productive or useful. I'm not one of them. I cherish my extra 60 minutes and look forward to it each year. I never set the clock back at night. I do it about 15 minutes after I wake up and then spend the next hour in a state of the easiest deadly sin: sloth!
      Here's what I've done so far:

      • Curled up in bed with the two cats, a cup of Lady Grey tea, and a new library book: 25 minutes

      • Added extra time to my morning shower, trying out the Vanilla-Apricot body scrub I got as a gift: 10 minutes

      • Cooked and ate breakfast, SITTING DOWN at the table with another cup of Lady Grey and the newest issue of Cooking Light mag: 15 minutes

      • Logged on to the NY times and read this column and this column: 10 minutes
      That's it! 60 minutes of pretty much nothing but it felt so I have to leave, run 4 errands, clean up the garden a bit, and complain when it's dark at 5:30. Happy Autumn Everyone!

      Saturday, November 1, 2008

      1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

      I have just discovered that I'm getting old. I've been alive during 11 US presidential terms now. I was planning to write on my memories of all the Presidents until I looked up the names/terms and realized the post would have to be 11 paragraphs long. Like anyone would stay awake through that? I don't think so.

      I've always thought that Eisenhower was president when I was born, but I was wrong. When people started pinning"I Like Ike" buttons onto their tweed coats, I was already toddling around throwing temper tantrums. (I don't remember the buttons or the tantrums, but I've seen pictures of the first and been reminded several times about the second. Thanks Mom.) Harry Truman was in the Oval Office when I arrived. Followed by Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II. Whoever is elected in 3 days will make my list an even 12. I would very much like it to be 'that one" - a young, energetic, intelligent, calm, inclusive, pragmatic, articulate, contemporary man. But it remains up to the American voters.

      Over the course of eleven terms, I have never seen a US President in person, but I've seen one assassination, one resignation, and one impeachment. (On TV I mean) The assassination and resignation were national tragedies. The impeachment seemed like a stupid and expensive political vendetta to me, although I know not everyone saw/sees it like that. So I won't write about that situation - it is much easier to set aside than the other two.

      I was a 7th grader in Catholic school when John F. Kennedy was shot. My parents were both devout Catholics and staunch Republicans so his election was met with mixed emotions in our house. The day of his death, I was in class with 30 other tweeners passing notes and resisting education when there was a knock on the classroom door. Sister Angela, the Vice Principal, was in the hall and when our nun, Sister Mary Frances, actually left us unsupervised in the room we knew something was up. She came back in with a face as white as the wimple under her veil and with tears running down her cheeks. We were stunned. She told us the president had been shot, school was cancelled, parents had been called, and we were being sent home until further notice. We gathered up our homework in silence and left the building. I rounded up my younger siblings and we walked the 4 blocks home, conflicted about being free from school under such horrible circumstances.

      My mom had the TV on when we got there, something that was normally forbidden during daytime hours. We watched as Walter Cronkite told America that JFK was dead. We watched as Lyndon Johnson was sworn in with Jacqueline Kennedy at his side in blood stained clothes. We watched as John John saluted the casket and a nation mourned. We watched as Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. We watched over the next several years as the nation plunged into the chaos of Vietnam, civil rights, summers of love, and two more assassinations: Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.

      Barack Obama was 2 years old when Kennedy was shot. Sarah Palin had not yet been born. Perhaps that explains why Governor Palin has not responded more forcefully to the angry voices at her rallies who call out "terrorist" or "kill him" when she mentions Obama's name. Having never seen the results, I think she truly doesn't understand the implications of encouraging anger and hatred toward a political figure. We will never know why Lee Harvey Oswald felt the need to kill Jack Kennedy, but we understand the results of his actions. When I ate breakfast on November 22, 1963, John Kennedy was our President. Shortly after lunch 5 hours later, Lyndon Baines Johnson was in his place.

      Nixon's resignation was not as heart rending or dramatic but it too was a national tragedy. By 1973 I was a young adult, attending a community college and working just enough to eat, pay tuition, and buy textbooks. I didn't have much interest in politics but it was impossible not to be aware of Watergate and the ensuing uproar. We weren't as cynical and suspicious then and my friends and I were truly shocked to be told that an American president had lied, cheated, and spied on his fellow citizens. His decision to resign was a relief and ironically, gave him a way to exit with a tiny bit of dignity and sympathy.

      I was working as a sales clerk at J.C. Penney's and was on my way to the employee break room on the evening he resigned. I had to walk thru the electronics department to get there and I noticed the President's face was on each TV screen, with clusters of silent shoppers standing near. I watched the speech, then ate my tuna sandwich and returned to the floor. That was it. No long discussions, no prolonged grief, no long lasting psychological effects. One dishonorable president was gone and his neutral, affable VP finished out the term.

      So my conclusion from all this reminiscing is that I need to just stay calm and accept the results of the upcoming election. Our nation has survived many things - good presidents, bad president, mediocre presidents, and tragedy - and we will survive another four years with our new leader. And if not, I guess there's always Scotland. See Hit the Road Jack.

      Monday, October 27, 2008

      Say What?

      This political campaign is burning my brain cells. Tonight on the treadmill I heard Larry King say, "Stay with us. We'll be back after the break with moron Sarah Palin." Geez, that seemed a bit harsh. Then I realized what he actually said was "We'll be back after the break with more on Sarah Palin." Whew.

      Right after that, the man in the commercial complained about being "nipple and dimed" by his phone company. I think its time for new ear buds.

      Thursday, October 23, 2008

      Hit the Road Jack

      There's nothing like a down & dirty presidential election to make me want to leave the county permanently! I've been mulling over an exit strategy in case the votes don't fall where I think they should on Nov. 4th. So far, tho, I haven't come up with a viable alternative.

      Canada? Too cold, eh? Plus I'd be living next door to an obnoxious neighbor.
      Mexico? Can't eat raw salads. And, same neighbor problem as above.
      Brazil? Are you kidding? I'd need general sedation to wax certain body parts!
      Chile? Nice wines. But I'd be lost at night if I couldn't see the Big Dipper.
      Australia? Kangaroos make me nervous and I hit myself with a boomerang once.
      Japan? Earthquakes, raw fish, suffocating subway cars. Guess not.
      China? I'm not sure they eat chocolate. That would definitely be a problem.
      India? Snakes. Large snakes. Large poisonous snakes.
      Africa? But where in Africa? What if I forgot which country I was living in?
      Russia? Hey, I saw Dr. Zhivago. Canada would be tropical compared to that.
      Italy? Divine art, food, & wine. Heaven on earth except for the lunatic drivers.
      France? Divine food, wine, & architecture. I'd look stupid in a beret.
      England? Possibly, but I'm not to the manor born. More like scullery maid.
      Scotland? Bingo! It's cold but beautiful. They almost speak English, but not quite. There's a bookstore on every corner and men wearing kilts. Food could be tolerated with some home cooking and avoidance of haggis. Aye, I'd be returnin' to the homeland. Bring on the tartans! If they will let me in, that is.

      It Was a Crime of Fashion

      Hey RNC, you should have called Stacy & Clinton! They could have done your candidate's hair, makeup, and wardrobe makeover in New York for only $5,000 and saved you $145,000! Oh well, too late now.

      Was your decision fiscally responsible tho? I lost $40,000 from my 401k last week. If there's anything left in your checking account on Nov. 4th, would you consider a small donation to my wardrobe budget? Just asking.....

      Tuesday, October 21, 2008

      Boo! Hoo Hoo

      Boy, oh boy, oh boy! I am SO guilty of blog neglect. I haven't been short on topics. In fact, I've started a list of potential posts, because there's some great material out there right now. But my head has been spinning between the political campaigns, the economy, some problems at work, and life in general. So, I will address a major problem tonight, something which comes up on an annual basis: Halloween Candy!

      It might not seem like a major problem. But if you're trying to follow a healthy diet it is! I end up having the same conversation with myself each year: Granola Girl pushes for fruits, veggies, and whole grains while Sugar Baby pulls for chocolate, caramel, and nuts. The conversation goes something like this:

      Granola Girl: "Halloween is 2 weeks away. You don't need to buy the candy just yet."

      Sugar Baby: "You might as well get it now and save another trip to the store. Besides, what if they run out?"

      Granola Girl: "The store is not going to run out - there's a million bags in here!"

      Sugar Baby: "Yes, but it'll probably go on sale and everyone in town will be getting their supplies. Remember the time you waited until Oct. 30th and there was nothing left but those weird sour things that nobody wanted?!"

      Granola Girl: "OK, I'll buy 4 bags and keep them in the cupboard for 2 weeks. Get the Butterfingers because I don't like those."

      Sugar Baby: "Kids don't like Butterfingers. They won't want to come to your house. Get the Milky Ways, Snickers, Kit Kats, and Reeses PB Cups."

      Granola Girl: "The candy is going into the cupboard. Do not even get the Halloween basket out."

      Sugar Baby: "But it looks so festive and cute. It doesn't mean you have to start eating the candy or anything."

      Granola Girl: "Why did we buy 4 bags? Last year only 40 kids came to the door. Guess that means there's a few extra bars here right?"

      Sugar Baby: "Maybe I'll just have one while watching Dancing with the Stars."

      Granola Girl: "How many of those candy bars did you eat?!"

      Sugar Baby: "Three."

      Granola Girl: "Then why are there six wrappers on the couch?"

      Sugar Baby: "Three of those are from last night."

      Granola Girl: "We didn't even HAVE the candy here last night!"

      Sugar Baby: "I don't think 4 bags is gonna last until Oct. 31st. You should have bought at least 5."

      Granola Girl: "OK, next year we're ignoring the holiday. You have zero self control and I'm tired of enabling your chocolate problem."

      Sugar Baby: "Whatever. Here try a Kit Kat."

      Granola Girl: "Thanks."

      Wednesday, October 8, 2008

      Stop, You're Scaring Me!

      Hmmm, I'm trying to decide between two different Halloween costumes this year. My first idea is to dress in heels, with a pencil skirt, colored v-neck sweater blouse with pendant, wear an ear bud and carry a large microphone. I could pop out the door and ask misleading, confusing questions like "When do you think we should bomb Pakistan?" or "My mortgage is a bit high - when can I expect my bailout check to arrive?" Can't guess what that's supposed to be? How about a GOTCHA Journalist!

      But the other idea might be better. I need a calculator, laptop & printer, dark trousers, white shirt, and tasteful jacket. And a brand spanking new Lexus - I might have to forgo that prop. I could just paint my house windows instead, "Interest Only Loans! No Credit Checks! No Income Verification! Low Payments! Free Money!" Figured this one out already? Yes, it's a Predatory Lender!

      OK, so the kids probably won't be thrilled - but I'll bet the parents will feel like screaming. Hehehehehehehehe!!

      Sunday, October 5, 2008

      Make Mine a G & T Please

      Senator McCain was interviewed by NPR last week, which I listened to on my morning commute. At one point, he was asked about a distortion of fact in one of his approved political ads. He responded by saying disdainfully, "well, that might be something discussed at a Georgetown cocktail party"... or a phrase very close to that.
      I had been a bit bored up until that point. But then I remembered, hey, I've BEEN to a Georgetown cocktail party! Granted it was about 25 years ago, but still... it qualifies as a genuine experience.

      I was a tourist tag-along with an ag group which my Then-Significant-Other was actively involved with. I don't remember now if it was grape growers or vintners or farm bureau business but there were about 15 members who traveled to Washington DC one May. Because it was my birthday month and because I had never been to the capital, I convinced him that I really, really should be included. Hence, I accompanied the group and while they were stuck in hotel banquet rooms and meeting with (gasp) evil lobbyists, I got to roam the Mall and see the sites of our nation's capital.

      I visited the monuments and stared at the White House from the front fence (pre 9/11, so security was much less obvious.) I wandered through the Smithsonian buildings and saw really cool things like Dorothy's ruby slippers, moon rocks, and inaugural gowns of the First Ladies. I cried at the Vietnam Memorial and JFK's grave, but not at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - probably because it's hard to cry in front of Marine Corps dress blues. I walked alone through Arlington cemetery and found civil war tombstones - rounded on top for the Union and pointed on top for the Confederacy. I saw panda bears at the zoo and US Senators in the Capitol Bldg. And then, on our third night there, the entire group was invited to a Georgetown Cocktail Party!

      It was in the beautiful brownstone home of the (evil) lobbyists and was very cool! I remember a baby grand piano, a lovely urban garden beyond tall french doors, trays of champagne flutes and tasty hors d'ouevres, men in suits looking more handsome than normal, and entertaining social conversations. It was all very cordial and relaxing and, of course, I felt sophisticated and fortunate to be there - even tho describing myself as "sophisticated" is as inaccurate as most of the TV political ads! I would guess none of the other guests remember that evening, but it was my one and only Georgetown cocktail party.

      So thanks, Senator McCain, for reminding me of that evening. If I ever get to visit Washington DC again, I'll take the subway to Georgetown, order a G & T, and reminisce about younger, more carefree days when the workings of Washington were respected and admired. Personally, I still think we have much to be proud of, even if it sometimes takes place with a cocktail and shrimp puff in hand!

      Tuesday, September 30, 2008

      Wall Street, Main Street, Side Street

      In 1973 my favorite college professor told her class of disgruntled 19 year olds "Life is not fair and the sooner you learn that, the sooner you can start thinking and behaving like adults." I don't remember anything else about the class, only her statement. It has stayed with me for 35 years and I've even found myself repeating it to one or another of my nieces or nephews.

      But right now, I am complaining bitterly about the unfairness of life. It's not fair that I have paid my mortgages on time for 15 years and am now paying a very heavy price for those who don't/can't pay theirs. It's not fair that people bought houses they can't afford and took out loans they didn't understand and that, due to them, my house has lost over $100,000 in value this year. It's not fair that my 401k dropped 20% in value in 4 hours yesterday and that I will be looking forward to a Tuna Casserole Retirement. It's not fair that the company I work for is being sold and that after working there 20 years I have no guarantee of a job in 2009. It's not fair that I try to stay healthy - eating right, exercising, using moderation, limiting alcohol, chocolate, and delicious fat stuff - but my health insurance premiums keep rising because other people are dreadfully unhealthy. It's not fair that I pay my bills on time, put a little bit in the bank, invest in my retirement fund, do repairs and maintenance, try to be a good neighbor, friend and citizen and in the end - I'm not even on Main Street, I'm on some crummy little side street or run-down, grimy back street.

      IT IS SO FREAKIN' UNFAIR I CAN'T STAND IT! So sorry Professor Lutz, but I guess even at 57 I'm not completely an adult.