Saturday, January 31, 2009

We didn't want to leave you

Many people (including myself sometimes) thought we were crazy to leave our Redding home for a house in a Del Webb community 200 miles away. We didn't know a soul in the community- which is now about half built-out with 320 homes.

It was scary leaving the community we love so much. It meant moving away from our daughter and my sister. We wanted to stay in the area - honest we did.

We wanted to move into the proposed Del Webb in Tehama County. We wrote letters, we attended planning commission meetings and we spoke about the need in the community for a 'active retirement' community for 'local' people. (The meetings were interesting in that somehow the commission and the speakers kept talking about all the "outsiders" that were going to invade the community). After a couple of years of planning and another couple of years of getting approval from various govermental agencies, lawsuits and negotiations with Cal Trans for I-5 improvements, the development stalled. Last we heard in 2007, Del Webb -Tehama MAY break ground in 2010 - depending on the market. The phase when pigs fly comes to mind.

Not good enough, we needed to move. The house that had served us so well, the one where we raised our children , had family reunions, laughed and cried and provided us with 25 years of memories, suddenly became a burden. We didn't need four bedrooms, we didn't need a pool to maintain and we certainly didn't need stairs to climb.

So, we did it. We moved. We wish we could have stayed, but we may be gone before Del Webb in Tehama is built.

Friday, January 30, 2009


This is Bailey working in the Read 2 Rover program. We go to the library once a week to find children lined up out the community room door. About twelve dogs (with their human partners) are scattered about the room. Sizes range from a little Yorkie to a big Collie and everything in between.

The children sit next to the first available dog with a book they have picked out. They tell the dog what they are going to read and sometimes what happened in their day or what kind of dog they have at home. Then they start reading. The reading levels range from letter recognition to reading adult books.

If it is the child's first time to the program, they are given a bookmark with one of the dogs pictures at the top. For every book they read out loud, they receive a paw stamp on their bookmark. When they collect 10 stamps, they are rewarded with a free book to take home.

Bailey is very patient and likes to put her head on the reader's lap. She never rushes them or laughs if they stumble on a word. The humans are told to just be there and not interact unless the child asks for help. It seems that 90% of the time, a child struggling with a word given enough time, will sound it out themselves (okay, I can't keep quiet then, I have to say something like, good job or you're right!). I am surprised how much improvement there is week to week.

RX Pets is starting a similar program called R.E.A.D. at the Redding library.
All dog are registered Delta Society® Pet Partners®. The dogs have been well screened and are insured. For more information about RX Pets, contact :
Donna Conrad 276-9164 /

Top 10 reasons to be on Facebook

Top 10 reasons to be on Facebook

I must have been asked a dozen times in the last couple of weeks, Why be on Facebook? I am just a novice at it myself. I joined Facebook on Christmas day when our daughter entered my profile information into Facebook's huge data bank.

In a little ove a month, here is my countdown of what I have learned:

10) You can connect with people you may not email often or at at all.

9) You get to see little snapshots of their day - things they may not tell you about otherwise.

8) You see who the friends of your friends are .

7) It is educational -after all, that is how I found out about our daughter buying a scooter!

6) You get to know people; people I wish I had spent more time getting to know when we lived in Redding.

5) "Pokes" and virtual gifts can make me smile.

4) I like looking at pictures friends post of their families and events.

3) I do NOT want a virtual pet or a virtual plant- Facebook takes too much time as it is.

2) Why can't I figured out how the virtual gift egg is suppose to hatch?

And the number 1 reason I am still on Facebook is..........drum roll, please.....

There, I said it and I feel better.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

7 Day cruise to Alaska $399*

This opportunity landed in my inbox this morning.
Cruise to Alaska this May for $499 round trip from Seattle -BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE- a shipboard credit brings it down to $399 for a 7 night cruise. You can't even stay in a decent hotel for that price - not to mentioned all the meals are included as well as entertainment!
Must book by 1/30/09 see details here:
Source: CruCon Cruise Outlet

We have used CruCon Cruise Outlet and were very happy with the service.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Laughing babies and one monkey

This site it so cute you can't help but laugh with them!
Which is your favorite?

Post stroke bidding dangers on Ebay

I had been wanting to purchase a particular item for over a year. I had searched many Internet sites in my quest. Then I saw it listed on Ebay with the auction ending the same day.

This was a big purchase for us, so I had done plenty of research to determine a fair market value of around $3,000. Of course, I am a bargain shopper so I wanted to get it for less than fair market value. I also know people tend to bid in even dollar increments. (I was visualizing the contestants on the Price is Right when they bid $1.00 over the previous highest bidder to win the item.

So I entered my maximum bid of $2,751.58. I felt smug. It was set as the maximum so I didn't have to worry about getting caught up in the moment and bidding higher.

It just so happened I was on the computer at close of auction so watched the last few minutes of the auction. The banner of "congratulations you are the highest bidder" was at the top of the page as the bids were:
.$2,600..... $2,650...$2,725..$2,750...$,2800 what?
how could I still be the highest bidder. That was over the bid I submitted!

The auction ended and I get an email saying congratulations you just won item # with a winning bid of $2,800. How can that be?

I immediately went back to the page where I had entered my maximum bid. OMG, my heart starts pounding and I start sweating (I know, some women glow - I just sweat). The actual maximum bid I had entered was $20,751.58!! I am so thankful it did not go any higher!

One of the residuals from my stroke is my brain does not correctly encode what my eyes see -especially when I am tired. This results in pinpoint blind spots - usually on the left side. I have read real estate prices to Jim excitedly, "Look at the amazing deal; a wonderful house overlooking the ocean for only $500,000!" He would look and patiently point out that I had missed a digit and the house was listed at $2,500,000.

When told Jim what had happened happened on Ebay, he responded in his dry English humor,

"Hey, if you are going to miss seeing a digit in a price, could you make it on the right side?"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Love can be sweeter with age

I attending a lovely wedding yesterday of two former residents of Hilltop Estates.

The groom, age 79, was supported by a cane, wore a smart black suit and maroon tie. His son was the best man.

The bride, age 82, walked down the isle in a stylish maroon dress with silver shoes. She was supported by her cane wrapped in white taffeta. Her daughter served as her matron of honor.

They both wore radiant smiles.

The happy couple will make their new home in the retirement community of 'Happy Trails' in Surprise Arizona.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Weekly chuckle

Uncle Jay explains the news is good for a weekly chuckle. Some weeks it is good for a belly laugh. If you have not seen Uncle Jays videos they can be found on the home page of The link is located about half way down on the right side in a box titled FUN AND GAMES.
He changes his video every Monday to review the news from the previous week. Check it out!

About Uncle Jay
Uncle Jay thinks it’s really, really important for today’s news to be understood by today’s innocent, ignorant and immature minds.
Also children.
“Uncle Jay Explains the News” began in 1995 on a local TV station. It even won an Emmy. Today, Uncle Jay continues his mission on the Internet.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Did the women's movement do a "disservice" to our young women today?

Did the women's movement do disservice to our young women today?

By way of background, I am having an interesting online conversation with the wife of one of my nephews. She is 37, Hispanic, has two children, a bachelor's degree and works part-time in a law office.

She added the following paragraph to an email where we were discussing another issue. I had previously mentioned that I felt one side came from a point of fear. Then I added, " I do remember when we were fighting for women's rights, they said if we let women out of the kitchen, the world would go to hell in a hand basket. Gosh, if we let Blacks or Mexicans have rights who knows where it would lead; a Black or Mexican President?! Oh, no, lol".

She responded to that with this paragraph:

"And one final note, I just had to laugh when you mentioned the women's movement and how 'they' said the whole world would go to hell in a hand basket if they let women out of the kitchen. Because I think that it's TRUE! I don't think you realize that most young women of today, especially young mothers, think that your generation of women actually did a disservice to women everywhere with your women's movement. Most polls today show that young women do not identify with the women's movement at all and they don't consider themselves feminists. I know I sure don't!"

Do younger women really feel that way?

I don't "identify" with the feminist movement anymore; but we still have a ways to go regarding equal pay and women in management positions.

Do they take for granted some of the things that were not common during our time?
Things like:
      • Fathers helping out more in parenting, managing the house, cooking, shopping, etc.

      • Women, like her, going to school and becoming educated, not just going to college to 'snag a husband" or go into traditional jobs such as nursing, teaching or working as maids, cooks or housekeepers.

      • Single women able to purchase homes

      • Women in law enforcement and other previously male dominated careers.

      • Women able to get credit in their own name-even if she was married.

      • Most of all, it should be acceptable for women to have choices in her life, not just the expectation that one would either be a wife and mom , a nurse or teacher. A woman could have options for both, or choose to be a stay at home mom. I believe raising children is one of the most important job in the world. Unfortunately, not every woman as the financial ability to have that privilege.

      All I have to do is watch a movie or a TV show from the early 60's or 70's to know how far we have come.

      But maybe these young women are so far removed from those times that they don't really understand how it was for us.

      What do you think?

      Where were you when.....

      some days I have far more questions than answers, for instance;

      Where were you when............

      Apollo 11 landed on the moon?
      President Kennedy was Assassinated?
      Robert Kennedy was assassinated?
      Martin Luther King was assassinated?
      Space Ship Challenger blew up?
      The planes hit the Twin Towers on 9/11?
      President Obama took office?
      Why are only two of these events positive?

      Thursday, January 22, 2009


      I was thinking about how important rituals are for making transitions. This is on my mind after spending much of Tuesday watching the Presidential Inauguration festivities.
      No, I was not one of the very lucky to have traveled back to Washington D.C. but I was sure thinking of them. Rather, I did what millions of other Americans did and watched it on TV.
      The funny thing is, I can never remember watching another president take the oath of office live. Oh sure, there have been coverage of the event on the evening news but I just never remember it being significant. I have talked to other people that say not only do they not remember watching the swearing in but also have no memory of the parade, concerts or so many balls. It could be that our memories are faulty; but I don't think so, at least not this time.

      Okay, back to the subject of rituals...
      I think this President, one that few had heard of two years ago, and was elected primarily from a grass roots movement, deserved to have a celebration. Heck, it was really more important for the supporters to have this celebration. The entire country needed a ritual to help in this huge transition.

      That is really what rituals are all about -transitions.

      Think birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries and yes, even funerals.

      I used to be a medical social worker. I worked with dying patients and their families. It would sadden me when a patient said they did not want a funeral. I believe a funeral or a memorial service is needed for the family and friends of the deceased. It is a ritual that marks a transition. Family and friends are able to share memories and take solace in each other's grief. It is the start of moving on and change in the lives of the survivors.

      Rituals help us get ready for change.

      I am so ready for change.

      Wednesday, January 21, 2009

      A Great Movie Experience!

      Several weeks ago, I wrote about my feelings on going to the movies. I hate the crowds, the loud audio, flashy scenes, people kicking the back of my seat, cells phones going off, people talking loudly, etc. etc.

      I will have to eat my words and take it all back, as tonight we had the most enjoyable movie going experience. We drove up from our new home in Elk Grove to Redding to see the Dinner and Movie presentation of Babette's feast at the beautiful Cascade Theatre.

      First, There were very welcoming ticket takers and ushers. The concession stand was selling popcorn, drinks and candy but since we had just come from dinner and knew we would be treated to chocolate truffles (more on that later) we gathered our will power and made it to our seats.

      Second, The seats were very nice and after getting a chance to greet some old friends, the movie started. I was expecting subtitles with this foreign film but they had English audio, and, get this, it was at a very appropriate level! My ears were not ringing from the volume when we left the theatre.

      Third, no one kicked the back of my seat, and there were NO distractions from the audience during the movie. What there was was laughter, and joint reactions to various scenes. It was truly an experience of old - I enjoyed the entire ambiance!

      Fourth, and the best part was after the movie, Doni Greenberg and Nancy Matthews (of Chocolate de Nannette's) came on stage to do a cooking demonstration. Carmona's appliances transformed the stage into a set worthy of the Food Network. Heck, they even had cameras pointed at the stove and counter tops so the audience could see what was happening as the two of them taught, talked, joked and laughed; just like they were in their own kitchen. Nancy started with chocolate melting over the stove. They then moved onto preparing truffles. Doni demonstrated her chocolate lemon leaves and apricots dipped in chocolate. It was fabulous.

      Fifth, WE ALL GOT SAMPLES OF THE TRUFFLES AND CHOCOLATE DIPPED APRICOTS. Yes, everyone in the audience received samples. The chocolate was amazing, but anyone who has ever savored one of Nanette's chocolates already knows how fantastic they taste. Nancy even shares her recipe for French Style Dark chocolate Truffles with the readers of

      Sixth, it was so nice to be back in Redding for the event. I was able to see old friends and meet new ones. People milled around after the demonstration and caught up with their friends and neighbors. I heard laughter and saw people hugging each other.

      My only regret is that with my limited stamina and vision, I missed some people and found it hard to focus on conversations by the end of the evening.

      What a wonderful community event.

      I love our new neighborhood but once we are out of the actual neighborhood, I haven't got that sense of community that we had when we lived in Redding.

      I do miss that.

      Tuesday, January 20, 2009

      Travel Zoo

      I love Travel Zoo. Look at the deal that just came in my email today:

      (1 hour ago)
      The Travelzoo Newsdesk has found this outstanding offer fromBritish Airways:
      SAN FRANCISCO--JANUARY 20, 2009-- This morning, BritishAirways slashed nonstop fares to London from San Franciscoto $203 each way. Plus, you'll get 2 FREE HOTEL NIGHTS* at a3- or 4-star London hotel!

      Not only are these the lowest nonstop fares in the market,but the hotels can go for upwards of $200 per night.

      This sale is available for travel Jan. 27 - March 22. Youmust book by Jan. 29.
      The total roundtrip price with tax comes to approximately$550. If you register and book online with British Airwaysyou'll receive an additional $20 OFF.
      *Offer is based on 2 people traveling.

      To book tickets through British Airways, click below:

      Monday, January 19, 2009

      Being Gay is a Gift from God

      Last week on Oprah, two minister's said being Gay was a gift from God. This lead to much discussion and questions on various blogs and Internet sights. In claifying the comment, The Ask Yahoo site chose this as the best:

      "Best Answer - Chosen by Asker
      What you have to remember is that Spirituality and Religion are not necessarily the same thing. You can have one without the other. You can believe in God, without believing in the dogma, the rules of a particular church.As was stated on that program, it isn't God that gets hung up on the name, it is the humans. It is the humans that insist that a particular religion is 'the one true religion', that the words in a book are the 'inspired word of God' that MUST be followed. It is humans that hate in the name of God.I believe that we are all made in the image of God/Spirit, and we will all return to Spirit when we die from this earth. God doesn't make mistakes, we all have gifts, whether we realize those gifts or not.It might be that we have to go through some trials in our lives in order for our gifts to shine through, to others it might come easier. Just think of all of the famous gifted homosexuals throughout history, Michelangelo, DaVinci, William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Leonard Bernstein, Rock Hudson, and so many more (and that's not even mentioning the lesbians or the bisexuals).Of course it is a gift, just as every life is a gift.
      Lately I have been thinking about letting my hair go to its natural color; which is pretty much the color it is now minus the the gray. My grandmother had the most beautiful white hair. There are a few women in Redding area with that striking silver white hair. To me it looks so chic and sophisticated. I have always admired MJ's hair.

      It would be such an easy decision if I would just go totally white over night. But no, I started graying at the temples then in the middle of my head.

      So how long does it take to go from brown to totally white?
      If I just go to salt and pepper, forget it; I will keep coloring my hair.

      Another thing to consider, is coloring my hair a want or a need? Does it matter if I buy the coloring on sale at the drug store?

      How do I know if my hair is white or gray when I color every six to eight weeks?
      The obvious answer is not to color and let it grow out enough to see what the true color is now.

      Yeah, right, like that will happen.

      Sunday, January 18, 2009

      Parenting today is sure different..

      We had a wonderful visit with my niece and her new blended family. It was good to see the great- nieces and nephews. We really like our much smaller house - it fits the two of us just right. We did notice however, that it was a little small for our niece's family of 5 children (the oldest wasn't even here) and four extra adults. We even brought in outside lawn chairs to have enough seating.

      Luckily, I finally found our toy box,-complete with wooden toys, which managed to make the move with us. I also had a 26 year old recipe for play dough from when our children went to Redding Co-op Preschool. The children were amazed you could actually MAKE play dough. They each picked their food coloring and controlled how many drops when into their ball of dough -and they picked out a little container for taking the dough home.

      The play dough activity was great and kept them busy for about an hour. When that lost their interest, we went to a nearby park. The park is called Constellation Park and it obviously has a space theme. When looking at the model planets, one of them pointed out that Pluto was no longer a plant. I assured them the city would want to correct that oversight as soon as possible. They loved all the equipment and were able to burn lots of energy before the long ride home.

      I asked their dad if it would be a difficult ride home with them being tired and the baby crying. He said it would be a piece of cake. One movie inserted into their Excursion's DVD player and the kids would be either watching the movie, asleep or listening to their Ipod.

      My how times have changed since the Redding Co-op preschool days. As parents, we learned how to play games to keep the kids occupied on trips. Reading games, playing car bingo or I spy, and then there was the inevitable "Are we there yet?"

      Still, even with all the new devices, I would not want to be a parent today -- it is so much more difficult.

      Thursday, January 15, 2009

      Learning Mah Jong

      I am trying to do all kinds of brain exercises in order to recover from the stroke.
      Today I had a lesson from a very gracious Chinese women on how to play Mah Jong. This is the real deal with tiles -not the computer game. Some people said that I shouldn't try Mah Jong as it was too complicated and has many symbols to learn along with Chinese words.

      I was worried I would embarrass myself or get so frustrated I would do something stupid. Since the stroke, I am what my family calls "unfiltered" - I have trouble with impulse control and I just blurt out what comes to my mind; not always good in social situation. But this is the year for me to try new things and go out of my comfort zone. At 1:00 PM I showed up at the clubhouse with three other people to learn the game. Interestingly, it was not hard for me to pick up the basics. I had to learn numbers and word spellings again after the stroke so it felt like the same kind of exercises.

      I was so pleased, it was fun and it was good to be with three other people learning the game at the same time - I almost felt normal.

      Wednesday, January 14, 2009

      What an amazing day

      Many children struggle with reading. Yet if they do not master this skill early, they struggle through school and later in life. Studies have shown that children who have difficulty reading in front of teachers, parents or their peers feel comfortable reading to a dog. The dog doesn't judge them or make fun of them if they stumble over words.

      Today, Bailey (my wonderful service dog) and I went to the Carmichael library and had the most incredible experience. Six children read books to her while I sat near. The librarian had a table with dozens of books
      Photo: Read2 Rover file copy about dogs with reading levels from 1st to 5th grade; the children chose a book from the table.

      When we arrived at the library community room, there were already three dogs with children next them quietly reading. I quickly took a spot on the floor next to the back wall. There was a line of little chairs with children, book in hands, swinging feet, waiting for their turn to read. When a child finished reading their book to the dog, they would excitedly return to a volunteer to receive a paper stamp of a dog's paw on their special bookmark. The next child would take their place.

      The children that read to Bailey proudly showed me they had between 1 -10 paw stickers on their bookmarks. All recognized Bailey as a new dog. After introducing Bailey, explaining she was a whippet and answering any questions about her, we got down to the task at hand.

      It was amazing to watch the process. One child, about 5 years old, was a very good reader; the others struggled with some of the words. Our job was just to listen and only help if asked. It was interesting that most got the word they were struggling over - given a little time. I wondered how many adults rushed in to correct them or lose patience listening to them read. With a hand stroking Bailey, or her head resting in their lap, they knew she was not going to rush them or make fun of them. They forgot I was even there, they talked to Bailey as if she were involved in the story.

      Studies have shown that not only does reading to a dog motivate the child to read aloud, but their reading levels increase dramatically. Each dog is tested and insured under Delta Society and has been temperament tested to ensure the dog’s comfort and reliability in a variety of settings and situations.

      In Redding, Prescription Pets is starting the Reading Assistance Education Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program in the library. Prescription Pets has visited hospitals and skilled nursing facilities in the area for many years with their wonderful therapy dogs . Redding East Rotary, through the Ducky Derby ticket sales, has provided seed money to start this literacy program.

      I feel incredibly blessed that I was able to share my amazing dog with the children - I will be back next week.
      *photo is a file photo from the Read 2 Rover program

      Tuesday, January 13, 2009

      The worst kind of spam

      Gmail has a pretty good spam filter that catches most of the junk in my in box. It routinely filters out the scams claiming I won lotteries, the requests for me to help someone get their money out of country, and the male enhancement ads.

      This one just really pisses me off; it appears it comes from the IRS with an official looking header and reads:

      "After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a Stimulus Payment.Please submit the Stimulus Payment Online Form in order to process it.A Stimulus Payment can be delayed for a variety of reasons.For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.To submit your Stimulus Payment form, please download the document attached to your email.Note: If filing or preparation fees were deducted from your 2007 Refund or you received a refund anticipation loan, you will be receiving a check instead of a direct deposit"

      Gmail also filtered this and placed a red banner across the top identifing it was from an unknown sender. Still, I worry about all the people that might receive this, and give their personal information to these scammers.

      Monday, January 12, 2009

      Found Treasures

      This morning, I got the most wonderful surprise. Doni and Bruce had been going through some old pictures and found some of our children playing together at their grandparent's ranch.

      The pictures caught the four of them just being young and carefree. In one picture, all of the children were sitting down with their arms over each other's shoulders. Our daughter, Laura, is holding a large toad. All of them have different expressions on their faces. It was not a fancy photo. I bet I didn't even like it that much at the time. Back then I would have worried that our daughter's bangs needed trimming and our son was not smiling.

      Today, friends sent me a wonderful treasure; a perfect picture. It's funny how 20 years can change your vision.

      Sunday, January 11, 2009

      Have you seen any good movies?

      We watch movies from Netflix. I love the ease of going to our mailbox and having a movie there. We don't have to worry about driving to or from the video store or late charges. Sometimes it is a few days before we get around to watching the new arrival.

      We have not had cable or Satellite TV for a couple of years now. The main reason we have been 'disconnected' was the lack of quality programming and the over abundance of commercials. So we have been pretty much out of the loop as far as TV shows of late.

      We have been catching up on a few TV series by renting the entire season and watching a episode or two at night. Here are a couple of movies and some TV series that we have enjoyed in the last year.


      Boynton Beach: Having recently moved into a retirement community, this movie hit home and made us laugh.

      Tortilla Soup: This would be another good choice for dinner and a movie at the Cascade.

      Mamma Mia: I am glad I didn't go to the theater to see this movie. I did enjoy the music. Good movie to watch while folding laundry.

      The Visitor: Directed by Thomas McCathy of the indie hit The Station Agent.

      TV Shows

      West Wing: we are starting at season one. Even though this series was critically acclaimed, we had never seen before.

      Weeds: What can I say, I like quirky characters.

      Sopranos: It was nice to be able to watch several episodes then progress through the seasons.

      Dexter: Strange plot and graphic but well written and addicting.

      Damages: Can't wait for the next season.

      If anyone has suggestions for other selections it would be appreciated as our Netflix Queue is getting short and we still have some long winter nights ahead.

      Money Saving Tip # 2

      If you haven't had a chance to check out you could be missing out on saving hundreds of dollars on products.

      For example, they have a FREE version of TurboTax Business. This is the exact same software that's sold for $109.95 in stores and elsewhere online. But through slickdeals, there's no cost or obligation. They say they are giving away TurboTax Business completely free in hopes that you'll keep coming back to TurboTax year after year. Slickdeals has coupons, forums even a free stuff category: Check it out.

      Saturday, January 10, 2009

      Learning Tolerance

      We often hear that we are shown what we need to learn. I didn't need to have a stroke to know I need more patience.

      My tolerance for other people varies depending on their known ability and skills. For example, if I was working with a client with dementia or reduced capacity, I would have all the patience in the world. However, I hate inefficient systems -especially when it causes hardship for the person it's suppose to be serving.

      When I had to change doctors due to relocation, it was explained to me that the new medical system was all computerized, in real time, and every doctor within the UCD system would have immediate records, charting and medication changes. Hip Hip Hooray! That was such welcome news to someone who now has difficulty filling out forms. I can't read the small print, I can't write very legibly (thank goodness for computers), and I certainly can't seem to keep the printing within the boxes.

      My excitement for the new system was short lived. I see a number of specialists (all within the UCD system). Each office gives you a clipboard with the same forms on it. List medications on the form? They have got to be kidding! There are too many and the names are too long to fit in boxes. Isn't the information on the form the same information that the fancy computer system was suppose to have available for every doctor in the system? Then, after the forms are fill out, they take you back to the exam room and ask the exact same questions again. Can't they read? Why fill out the forms? I want to explode!

      It really can't be that hard to have a universal intake form. Please, let me make a dozen copies of my form and I will promise to take one with me to each doctor's appointment, sign it, and hand to the receptionist. What is so hard about that? I am going to take a typed sheet of my medications. I will print SEE ATTACHED in the little box. If they don't like they can fill in those itsy-bitsy boxes themselves!

      Please don't give me any more opportunity to learn tolerance. I am still working on the lessons presented at doctor's offices.

      Friday, January 9, 2009

      Money saving tip # 1

      Pssst, do you want to save money without even trying? Do not go to stores or the mall! Take a list to the grocery store and only buy what is on the list.

      Are you an online shopper like me? CLEAN OUT your email subscriptions.
      When we moved, I did a vast amount of shopping online to set up our new house. Everything from bedroom furniture and a fireplace to kitchen dish towels and trash cans.

      Daily my inbox has exciting sales. They scream TAKE 80% OFF; TWO FOR ONE; ACT NOW, LIMITED TIME OFFER. It is hard not to look at them and think "but it is such a good deal" maybe I should order it. The solution; I have unsubscribed to all vendors. If I need something in the future I am sure I can find them again.

      A secondary benefit from cleanng out my email box. It takes AT LEAST 50% OFF the time it takes me to go through email in the morning - now that's true savings!

      Thursday, January 8, 2009

      Just say -Thank You

      Why is it so hard to take a compliment?

      Honestly, while I am always surprised and pleased to receive one, I am also so embarrassed by compliments. My face turns red, I want to say "ah, shucks, it was nothing."

      I have been working on this for years. I have not made much progress.

      I still still feel compelled to explain why I don't deserve the compliment by adding things like, "oh, this? I got it on sale; or I've had it for years." I feel better when I can at least deflect the compliment by adding something like "that is so sweet of you to notice" or "how kind of you."

      But when I am the person giving the compliment, I want the receiver to know it is genuine. If a clerk goes out of their way to help me, I always tell them how much I appreciate their help.

      I absolutely hate it when they respond with "no problem" that seems to negate my appreciation!

      Simple words but so meaningful - Thank you - You're Welcome.

      It is not my job anymore

      I know some people think that I just like to be in control, but that is not the reason I feel compelled to offer my "help".

      I have lost so many bits of myself in the last few years, it is just hard to figure out who is left.

      It is not all bad, some roles are lost because of success, for example, raising children. The goal of every mother is to prepare her children to be productive, independent adults. Success!

      Losing my career was different. I loved my job. I believe strongly in the purpose of the organization where I worked and felt I might have even been helpful in contributing to the mission of the agency. But there comes a time when new energy is needed and your heart tells you it is time to move on - even though it is hard to let go. For 30 years I had been a social worker, helping people experiencing crisis. I provided support, referrals, resources and tools to enable clients to better themselves or their situation. It is not easy to turn that off, but it is even tougher to be the one needing help.

      I have to learn I am no longer in the role of social worker and just listen. I didn't think that would be so difficult for me - or others.

      Wednesday, January 7, 2009

      Please, sir, more.........

      Prednisone is a wonder drug, there is no question about. It can make a huge difference in your health - and a HUGE difference in your appetite!
      My first experience with Prednisone was when I came home from the hospital after the stroke. So weak I could not stand without assistance, I was reliant on others for my meals.
      Those meals were truly the highlight of the day I would spend hours wondering what I was going to be served with my stomach rumbling the entire time. When meal time finally came, I was always disappointed with the serving size. A cup of soup and crackers to me does not mean exactly 8 oz. of soup and 3 small crackers. Please sir... more. I was hungry all the time!
      I am recovering from a wicked bout of flu that decided to settle in my lungs. Sure enough, one of the three medications prescribed was prednisone. EEEK, and at the same time as all my New Year resolutions of healthy eating and portion control. It was exactly the same hunger pangs. I would fix a nice healthy dinner with appropriate potions. I was satisfied - for 10 minutes. Then I would start thinking, gosh, what can we have tonight for a snack. But the reality for me on Prednisone is there are never enough "snacks" to make me feel full.
      I took the last Prednisone dose today. I am feeling so much better. It IS a wonder drug, and I am so glad to be finished taking it - now, about those New Year's resolutions....

      Tuesday, January 6, 2009

      Oprah and Me

      I feel a kindred spirit to Oprah. I am sure thousands of people do. But I have good reasons!

      1) Not only were we both born in 1954, on January 29th, but we were born within the same hour.

      2) In 1986, I went on a liquid fast and lost 70 pounds. I started the same time Oprah did; but of course, I didn't know that until she came out on stage pulling her little red wagon with 67 pounds of animal fat. Like Oprah, I swore I would never shop in plus size stores again.

      3) We are both very intelligent women. We usually feel in control of our lives- with the one exception of weight.

      4) Like Oprah, I have gain and lost that same weight over and over - interestingly, when I look back over the years, when her weight has been down I tend to be down. Right now, we are both pushing our highest - again.

      5) Like Oprah, it is no longer about how I look. It is my life and the quality of my life.

      6) I too, changed doctors (however, mine was due to moving) and have a calendar full of doctor appointments for complete physicals and check ups.

      7) Oprah stated today on her TV show that it doesn't matter how much money, fame or materials things you may have; If you don't have your health you cannot enjoy life. I speak from personal experience when I say that is so true.

      She is doing a "Best Life Week with Dr. Oz this week. I think I will join.

      Sunday, January 4, 2009

      Unauthorized Pay Pal Charges

      Internet shopping is wonderful- especially for those of us that are unable to get out all the time. I have shopped on the Internet since there was a physical "yellow page book" of Internet stores. Seriouly, I wished I had kept it!

      When we moved this summer to an unfamiliar city, we purchased some new furniture, window coverings, and even a kitchen island; all on-line. It was wonderful, no lines, I could view literally thousands of items without trying to drive in traffic or navigate a bazillion new stores. Up to this month, every Internet transaction has been perfect.

      This month, when our bank statement came in, there was a large transfer to Pay Pal. Shopping for both our move and the holidays has been over for awhile so I didn't expect any withdrawals. Immediately, I went to my Pay Pal account only to discover to my horror there was not one , but TWO large transfers.After filing a dispute, I learned that the same person accessed our account to order a large number of pre-paid cells phones delivered to an address in Ohio - they even included their apartment number. Add them to the list of dumbest criminals.

      After being reviewed, Pay Pal has determined the withdrawals were unauthorized and has refunded the entire amount. But the funds were not in our account for the 30 days it took for their review. Here are some things I learned from this experience:
      *Don't link Pay Pal to your primary checking account - used a credit card to link or a small bank account that would not impact your household budget if it was compromised.
      *Change your password - often.
      *File disputes immediately.
      *Get a 'security key' from Pay Pal. It is free if it goes to your phone , or $5.00 for a physical token key- I didn't even know this was available.

      I guess if I consider the thousands of things I have bought online - including my last two new cars (in '98 & '04), it was bound to happen sooner or later. The nice thing was the customer service and how Pay Pal stood behind its security and 100% guarantee.

      Saturday, January 3, 2009

      The changing experience of going to the movies

      It is interesting how the decades change our movie preferences and how we enjoy watching movies. In high school, we all knew every movie that was out and when a particular movie might be coming to town. Somewhere in that time period they started dividing up the theaters into 4 plexes, then 6, then 8 plexes. The closest theater to us now has 16 screens. Today, I usually have no idea (or care) what is playing at the theater.

      One would think that with several mega theaters all within a 10 mile radius there might be a movie that I would like to see -all the time. Not so; it is rare that I want to go to the theater. The cost, the crowds, the rude people that answer or make cell phone calls, text, talk loudly, kick the back of your seat; the LOUD audio, 20 minutes of previews/ads, bright flashes, and manic scene changes. The surround sound, bright colors and special effects were the very things that made seeing a movie in a theater more exciting. Now it is usually just uncomfortable.

      Nevertheless, on Christmas Day, the family decided we would like to see Marley and Me. We have never considered going to a movie on Christmas day. But it was a nice relaxed day with only four adults that agreed it would be fun. I had no idea what to expect on Christmas Day. Would the theater even be opened? would it be empty or crowded?

      We knew it was open and crowded approaching the parking lot. But, there are 16 other screens and we were there as soon as the box office opened, so decided to take a chance. Three of us went to the theater line while the other went to get tickets. He came back shaking his head, SOLD OUT! How can that be? We were there when when the box office opened. Apparently, everyone else knows to buy tickets online or the previous day.

      So, we will wait until after the Holidays are over and the kids are back in school to see Marley and Me. Then we can go on a Tuesday for the BARGAIN price of $7:50 instead of the regular adult price of $12.50. Or maybe I will just add it to my Netflix and wait. Sigh, I didn't think I would sound like senior citizen so soon.

      Friday, January 2, 2009

      Getting Orgainized

      I have always been somewhat organized. Okay, it may have looked like a mess to an outsider but I always knew where to find my stuff. This was true for work and home environments.

      Early on in our marriage, we agreed I would write the checks for the bills and take care of the household paperwork and Jim would do the taxes. I always felt I got the better end of the deal!
      At work, I was often complimented on my "organizational skills". Skills? What skills ? It is just just common sense, I thought.

      It has been 3.5 years since I have felt organized or had common sense. This is not just one of those New Year's resolution of "oh, I must get organized" this is a vital skill needed to live independently.

      Does that sound overly dramatic?

      Trust me it is not. It took this long after the stroke to even think I might be able to be responsible for taking on some of the tasks of managing our household paperwork. I am ready to try again. I have been taking baby steps; and I mean baby steps.

      When I awoke after my stroke. I was able to talk and while I found it hard to think of words or use some words appropriately, I was very blessed to have my speech. It wasn't until I tried to play a game of Free Cell on the computer -a daily ritual before the stroke- did I realize I had no idea what the symbols on the cards meant! I could name a 3 of hearts or 5 of spades, but was a three higher or lower than a five? I literally was going back to pre-school math. Thank goodness there are more home school children; it has resulted in a large number of self paced tutorials and coursework available free online. At the end of the second year, post stroke (PS), my goal was to be able to handle money and make change. Which leads me to coping skills.

      At this point in my life - PS, and a baby boomer- I need all the coping skills I can get. For example, before I could count money, I could pay for things with a credit card. I didn't have to worry about giving the cashier the right amount of money or getting proper change; just verify the amount and sign my name. Baby Steps.

      The first thing I realize when trying to get the household business organized is I don't know where to find everything I need. The stamps are in the junk drawer, the envelopes are on top of the desk; in, get this, AN ORGANIZER. The mail (read bills) are on the counter and every time I need a pen or pencil I can't find one. Then because of my memory, I have to write myself notes. So I have a To Do List; Grocery List; family birthday list - oops did those get moved over to 2009 calendar.
      Oh wait, did we get a 2009 calendar?

      Thursday, January 1, 2009

      Happy New Year!

      This New Year FEELS different. It is not just a new page in a calendar. It really does feel like a new beginning, for me for our families and our world. I sure hope I am right.

      One of the things that is different this year was I am not doing the standard lose X pounds by X date scenario. Life is so much more than that and I miss so much when I am obsessed by scale numbers (besides in my 54 years, it hasn't helped!).

      So, I am going to take this time of my life as it comes and try to live every moment. I feel the need. I need new ways of working on my cognitive rehab and improving myself. Maybe this blog will help. I have no idea where it will go. Do I keep it private or let it out there? I don't want to be 'exposed'. One the other hand, my best friend lets herself - just be herself -and is willing to go outside her comfort zone to grow. I admire that. Maybe it is my time to take risks in order to move forward.

      Songs often pop in my head to describe my feelings: This is the song I named my blog after. It feels like where I am today:

      Time Of My Life by David Cook
      I've been waiting for my dreams To turn into something I could believe in
      And looking for that Magic rainbow
      On the horizon I couldn't see it
      Until I let go
      Gave into love and watched all the bitterness burn
      Now I'm coming alive Body and soul
      And feelin' my world start to turn And I'll taste every moment
      And live it out loud I know this is the time,This is the time
      To be more than a name Or a face in the crowd
      I know this is the time
      This is the time of my life Time of my life
      Holding onto things that vanished Into the air
      Left me in pieces
      But now I'm rising from the ashes
      Finding my wings
      And all that I needed Was there all along Within my reach
      As close as the beat of my heart
      So I'll taste every moment
      And live it out loud
      I know this is the time, This is the time to be
      More than a name Or a face in the crowd I know this is the time
      This is the time of my life Time of my life And I'm out on the edge of forever
      Ready to run I'm keeping my feet on the ground My arms open
      My face to the sun