Sunday, May 31, 2009

Public Art

It is amazing how public art can change the entire feel of a ordinary place.
This was the store entrance to Macy's in Newport Beach. The Bells were as tall as the three story building and were gently ringing in the light breeze. Beautiful.

Friday, May 29, 2009

It only took one cookie

The other night, I rushed in Trader's Joe's to get fresh produce, milk and bread. My intentions were good - honest they were.

After coming home from vacation I had been eating healthy. (I refused to say I am on a diet). A Lifetime of experience has shown me diets don't work.

In Trader's Joe's, I pick up extra fruit and veggies. I didn't go up and down all the isles as I knew there is too much temptation. I was a woman on a mission.

An employee approached me and ask, "Are you finding everything alright?" Yes, I replied, trying to decide on which kind of apple to buy. He smiled broadly and said, "you should try these cookies, they are killer!" They were plain looking boxed cookies, except shaped like a maple leaf. He handed me a sample from the tray.

I took a bite. Like an alcoholic, taking the first sip, it is a slippery slope for me to have a little. I wasn't going to stop at one sample cookie. He was right, they were really good. I bought a box - just so Jim can try them, I kidded myself. Jim tries one and is not impressed. He can have a few and stop.

The cookies continue to call to me throughout the evening. I went to bed at 10:00. At midnight, I am still awake and give into the insistent call from the kitchen. At 2:00 AM, I think heck, I've blown it now, what's a few more.

Thank God the box is now empty.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tired sense of humor

Does your sense of humor change as you age? I am not talking about aging from teenager to adult. I think my sense of humor must have changed through the last two decades.

This comes up in a when I am having trouble sleeping. I have been watching Jay Leno's last week on the Tonight Show - a program I used to enjoy. While it is still the best of the late night shows, I hardly ever crack a smile - and who are those guests?

I can't imagine the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brian. He is so immature and his humor is just dumb. Did people feel this way when Jay Leno took over from Johnny Carson?

After the Tonight Show, there is Late Night then Late, Late Night, or whatever it is called. Unrecognizable hosts do a lot of physical comedy, jump around on stage during the 'monologue' and seem to continue the monologue instead of interviewing whoever it is sitting in the chair.

I need to get some sleep - I am feeling way too old and grumpy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I need this book - seriously, sleeping should not be hard.

Falling asleep is not an issue. It's staying asleep that is difficult.
Maybe there should be an insomniac group on Facebook.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I am not ready to give in

For the last couple of months I have been struggling with the decision about not coloringCheck Spelling my hair any longer. I know it would be better not to put chemicals on my hair. The picture to the left is the top of my colored head.
My grandmother had such beautiful white hair, it would love it to be like that. But I don't think I am quite there yet with the ratio of white hair as the middle picture shows.

I have let it go several weeks past the time I should have colored it. The temples are are definitely white, but white enough? I don't think so yet.

I love the way Jamie Lee Curtis' hair looks on this cover of AARP. Of course, it is not just her hair which gives her that confident look.
The decision is made. I an not ready to look 10-15 years older. Tomorrow I am going to the store and getting some hair color. Or maybe I should go get my hair trimmed and she how it looks after cutting off a an inch of color. My hair is only several inches long anyway.
Help! why is this such a big decision for me?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Make Memorial Weekend Memories - Free

One definition of the word, vacation is "leisure time away from work devoted to rest or pleasure." You don't have to go somewhere to have a vacation. Making memories with our children or grandchildren is rarely about location. Just because the budget is tight doesn't mean you can't have a fun family vacation.

The first step is to decide that this is a vacation day. That means no laundry, no chores and ignore the phone or let the answering machine take messages.

Next, grab sleeping bags or blankets and define a 'camping spot' either inside or outside. Pitch a tent or make one with a sheet over table or two chairs. If outside, build a safe campfire in a portable grill or hibachi for roasting marshmallows or making S'mores.
However, special food is not needed, just take the food outside or have the kids help fix it inside - yes, I know it takes longer - but it is the EXPERIENCE that will be remembered.

If you are outside, you can watch the stars come out and find the Big Dipper, Little Bear and other constellations. Teach the kids a silly song from your childhood. Ask them to sing their favorite song to you. Tell ghost stories to older children. There is something about being in the dark that is safe for asking questions, telling stories, being silly.

A favorite childhood memory of mine was sleeping out in the backyard with my brother and sister one night. I only remember doing it one time. My mother came out in the early morning and told us the story of the Princess and the Pea. Now that had to be over 45 years years ago. I am not sure if Larry or Dennie remember it, but when I think of a pleasant childhood memory, that's the one that pops into my mind.

This weekend, I suggest young families take "leisure time away from work devoted to rest or pleasure" and make some memories with your children.

I would love to hear how you spent your holiday weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Retirement Vacations

When one is retired, vacations are very different from those 1 or 2 week vacations - crammed in around holidays, work and school schedules. They are cherished just as much, but the flavor is so very different for a number of reasons:

1) You can go whenever you want; as much as I love children, we tend to avoid spring and summer breaks when places are crowded with families.

2) The weather. We don't have to travel during high demand periods for beaches or mountains so we can enjoy mild weather instead of record highs or lows or worse, when there is muggy weather.

3) We no longer have have manic vacations. I can remember a time when we were snorkeling in Catalina with the kids. Jim and Laura lifted their heads from the water, took the snorkel mouth pieces out and started discussing what we were going to do next! I wanted to scream - ENJOY THE MOMENT NOW!

4) While we don't work, we can do things on vacation that we feel guilty about doing at home - sleeping in, reading trashy novels, avoiding cooking or not doing the laundry.
5) We are more flexible. We rarely make a schedule for vacation other than check in/ check out date. If we see an interesting sight, we have time to stop and look, or change plans or visit with new friends - Life is good!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Internet Dates

I had an Internet date this evening. I am actually getting pretty good at them and I can see why so many people now meet on the Internet.

This time, the date was with Bill and Donna from New York and Janet, from Hope, Whales. I met them on the Internet several days ago. We were all going to be staying at the same place this week in Newport Beach and thought it would be nice to meet in person.

We met tonight for drinks by the pool. Jim and I were easy to spot with Bailey at my feet. It was fun.
`Janet gave us a new appreciation for how lucky we are to be able to drive here. She and her family flew 22 hours to spend their 'holiday' here. She spent last year here and is planning on requesting this same week next year.

Bill and Donna said how impressed they were with California drivers. They related the story of driving out of the parking lot of Costco and another driver actually waved them ahead to merge in front of them. They were astonished! I suggested they would really like Northern California.

The last time we had an Internet date was on a cruise to Mexico. For a full year before the cruise, we talked to people - online - that were going on the same ship ( By the time we sailed, we had a group of wonderful friends that made the cruise extra special. We still have friends from that cruise and keep in touch on Facebook.

With an Internet bulletin board or forum for every group or hobby, it is so much easier now to meet people with the same interests. Isn't technology amazing?
photo: google images

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Every girl deserves some pampering!

When I am out and about with Bailey, I am often asked if I have trouble clipping her nails. No, she actually loves having her nails done weekly. See for yourself. She appears to enjoy it as much as many women enjoy having a massage.

After her bath, she gets in my lap, flips on her back with all four paws in the air.

Next, I use the drummel drill to file down the nails. She literally falls asleep during this process.

She stays asleep 5-10 minutes after I am finished with her nails. I rub her tummy until she wakes, then she jumps off my lap and goes to the kitchen for her reward treat. Bailey takes such good care of me, she deserves pampering!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Look, Risso Dolphins!

What a day on the ocean watching the dolphins play with us. Here are some pictures of them playing alongside the boat. We saw many pods with dozens of dolphins. Captain Dave explained that they were Risso dolphins - normally very shy. This day, they were so playful he attributed the frolicking to the young age of the dolphins. They would swim alongside the catamaran putting on a show for us.
My favorite 'act' was the large white dolphin that swam between the two pontoons of the boat while we were traveling at a fast clip - almost as if saying, "follow me for a great time."
I am not a photographer. It was hard to get pictures of the dolphins. By the time I saw them, focused and took the picture, they had gone back under the water. The
top two pictures are mine, however, the one below, of the Risso dolphin, is from Wikipedia. It shows the whale-like shape of this dolphin and the coloring. It was a day to treasure.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Remember the earthquake in Redding, Thanksgiving day, 1997? I sure do. We were stopped at the traffic light at Court Street and Eureka Way and the car started shaking. I told the kids to stop fighting, thinking they were wrestling in the back seat. They were innocent - that time.

The earthquake we experienced last night also sounded like kids - wrestling on the floor above us. We were on the first floor of a three story building. I was enjoying the cooler weather of Newport Beach and talking on the phone to Dennie when the shaking began. My attention quickly left the subject of our conversation, when my chair started moving. Jim looked up, said, earthquake while Bailey jumped up with a puzzled look on her face. It took a couple of nano seconds for me to interrupt Dennie, repeating the word, earthquake, EarthQuake, EARTHQUAKE!

By the time I thought about what we should do, the quake was over. That's why I would rather live where there are earthquakes rather than where there are hurricanes or tornadoes. At least earthquakes are over before one can really panic. At first, it was reported as a magnitude of 5.0 earthquake, but they later downgraded it to a 4.7. There was only one aftershock of 2.7 that we noticed.

The biggest earthquake Ive ever experienced, was a 7.1, in 1992, in Eureka/Ferndale. Doni and I were in an old, wooden, two story import store in Eureka. The store was packed with merchandise - I didn't see how it could possibly meet fire code. The glassware started shaking, the hanging merchandise was swaying, and it sounded like people were running upstairs. Doni looked at me and I mouthed 'Earthquake'. Since the building sat right by the water all I could think of was, if we did make it out of the building, a tsunami would probably get us.

Since a tsunami didn't overtake us, we drove inland to the cute little town of Ferndale. We walked past a Victorian (pictured at left) that had been shaken off its foundation. We continued into town to shop and have lunch. We were sitting in an old building, looking out at main street while having lunch, when a pretty big aftershock struck. Doni looked at me, I looked at her, we looked around and everyone else didn't seem to notice the shaking. So, not knowing what else to do, we calmly ate our food while we watched the buildings sway. People walking the streets and in the shops also acted like nothing was amiss during the numerous aftershocks.

The only other earthquake I can remember being in, was in San Diego. I was at a state-wide convention for my job. It was close to midnight when a big earthquake struck. Many of the women (and a couple of men) attending the conference ran out of their hotel rooms - with little or nothing on. The problem was the doors locked behind them. It was an hour or so before security could get to everyone in order to let them back in their rooms. Needless to say, some of those people still have not lived it down - luckily, I was not one of them.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Graduation celebrations

Today is a very special day. Our son, Jeff, earned his bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering! I want to do a happy dance. I want to celebrate with him, laugh, tell stories of his journey and look proudly upon him as he receives his diploma. But this will not happen as he has chosen not to "walk" (participate in graduation ceremonies).

This isn't unique to Jeff. Our daughter, Laura, did not walk when she graduated from UC Davis (with a BS Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior). She will complete her Master's degree in Public Health (MPH) in August and she will walk then - but only because it is a requirement of the school.

I can understand why people choose not to participate in college graduation ceremonies. I didn't walk when I received my bachelor's degree, neither did Jim. By the time students finish years of coursework, checks and double checks they have met all requirements, completed all the projects, and taken final exams, it is time to move on with life. Like Laura, they made me walk when I earned my MSW degree. They did not require Jim to walk for his MBA, so he didn't. I guess there wouldn't be any graduation ceremonies if it wasn't required.

The problem with not participating in graduation, is it denies family the opportunity to celebrate the achievement. Now that Jim and I have the perspective of being parents, not students, I see the benefit in walking. As parents of the students, we have much invested in our children's future and we feel like 'stakeholders" too. I want to shout from roof tops, Hallelujah - he did it!

I will miss not seeing Jeff walk across that stage - but I respect his decision and understand why he made it.

Up to now, I could fool myself into thinking that since my "baby" was still in college , I wasn't finished mothering. But I know I was just kidding myself. Our children are wonderful, giving, productive, members of society and they have their own lives. I acknowledge and celebrate that fact. I have done my job.
I am so very proud of of them!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The scale game

Am I the only one out there that plays the scale game?

Game one goes like this: before I shower in the morning, I step on the scale. That first number doesn't 'count' because we have a digital scale and the the numbers can change - or not - so I step off. I know the scale is in the exact same place each morning as we have 18 inch tiles in the bathroom and the scale is moved so the edge of the scale is even to the same grout lines.

So, step on, doesn't count, step off. Step on, different number, step off. Step on, slightly different number, step off. Step on.... this will continue until I have two numbers that are consistent. Once I have a number twice I can stop (I know, OCD).

The the results of this ritual will determine if I start the day in a good mood or mentally beat myself up. Why do I give the scale so much power over my happiness? Why can't I remember the night before (when the cravings hit) how I will feel in the morning?

I have tried weighing daily, weekly, monthly and not weighing - that last one was a BIG mistake, at least for me.

I am working hard at getting healthy and not letting that stupid scale dictate my mood; I know giving an inanimate object that much power over how my day begins is NOT healthy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

TV Converter boxes - who needs one?

When the original deadline to convert TV reception from analog to digital was April 16th, we purchased a converter box for our old TV in the bedroom. We don't watch much TV, but I would like to get the local news (okay, so now I am hooked on Southland too).

I think it is obscene how much cable and satellite companies charge just to watch TV; which is suppose to be already paid for by all the commercials. The programming stinks, there are so many commercials it is not enjoyable and I hate that TV seems to have become the focus in homes. It takes away from conversations with family and is often blasting away just for noise or to keep someone "company." We do not have a TV in our living room. It surprises me how many guests ask about our (lack of) TV. Did they come over to watch it or visit?
Sorry, back to the converter boxes. The box worked just fine. We were able to get the local news and the major networks. What the converter box didn't do was improve my eyesight enough that I could watch the old TV across the room. We finally broke down and bought a bigger, flat screen, digital ready, TV. No need for the converter box.

The digital conversion deadline was extended to June 12th. Our local news talks about the conversion nightly; they even have a call-in center to ask questions.
Since we no longer need our converter box, I called the 'help center' last night. I asked, is there any program that accepted donations of converter boxes and passed them along to folks who may need one? No, replied the volunteer. He said he had worked there over a year now and never heard of such a thing.

How simple would that be, to have a drop off center for converter boxes and make them available to the public? In these times of everyone watching their budgets, and trying to keep things out of landfills, this simple program could make a big difference in supporting both efforts.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quest for the perfect table

College students and retirees often have small spaces in which to live. Finding functional furniture on a smaller scale can be a challenge. We downsized from a two story, 4 bedroom 3 bath home to our current home which has two bedrooms and is about 1300 sq feet about a year ago.

The house has plenty of room for two people. We have a small round table that seats 4 people in the kitchen nook. That is fine 90% of the time, but when we have guests for dinner it just isn't big enough.

I have been searching for creative solution since we moved. Obviously, I could get a larger dining table and put it in the open living room. The counter bar separates the living room from the kitchen. However, I really didn't want to take up that much space for a table we would only use when we had company.

We had many recommendations to checked the small space specialist, and college students best friend, IKEA. I had never been to an IKEA store, so I felt like a kid on a field trip. We had an enjoyable morning touring the big IKEA warehouse in West Sacramento. I did love how they had displays labeled with the square footage. For example, they had a tiny, but workable, two bedroom apartment that was a total of 640 sq. feet. Nice kitchen displays for studio apartments or lofts. We really had fun looking at the creative use storage and furniture. Here I would surely, find the table I had visualized for the space-nope.

The Internet came to the rescue again. After looking for almost a year, I found a wooden table that folds three ways. First, it is a console table (top picture) that we have under the window towards the entry way. Pull it out, and fold over the top, it expands to a square table that seats four (perfect for playing games or cards). Pull it out some more, drop two leaves in it and it expands to seat 6-8. I was also impressed with the folding chairs that look more like regular chairs than folding chairs. I love creative solutions to lifes little problems.It is perfect - once again I am shown it pays to be patient.

Monday, May 11, 2009

This blog is for the birds

I rarely think about birds, unless they are singing or leaving me a present to clean up. However, this last weekend birds kept coming up in conversations.

First bird conversation - Dennie, my sister, took her two grand kids to Turtle Bay. They thought the main attraction would be Sue the Dinosaur, but they liked the bird house the best. I had not even heard of the bird house. The kids were able to feed them seed on a stick and some birds even landed on shoulders. Dennie reported they stayed in the bird house for almost an hour. The kids were fascinated. Of course, they liked seeing Sue and enjoyed the butterfly house , but the bird house was the hit of the day.

Second bird encounter of the weekend: A big white Egret had landed in our very small back yard and was eying my koi for breakfast! Jim chased it off, but it just flew onto the roof of the house behind us (where he could still see my koi). So far, it hasn't been back. I am so happy, all three koi are still in the pond. It was weird to have that big of a bird in our tiny backyard.

And last but not least, have you seen the Caltrans eagle cam lately? When the triplet chicks hatched, 0n March 17th, 19th and 22nd, there was a lot of excitement. There was also some speculation that since triplets are rare, and difficult to feed, they may not all survive. I had marked the website as a 'favorite' but had not checked on them in weeks. According to the website, they are doing well. The parents are doing a good job of feeding them and they "are anticipated to begin fledging in mid June."

I think it always takes mothers by surprise how fast their chicks go from being dependent, to flying off and surviving on their own - but there is also a great sense of satisfaction is watching that transition.
Top photo: by Dennie
Egret: stock photo

Friday, May 8, 2009

"That's so gay" - words can kill

I know a newly blended family. I was totally shocked to hear the step siblings taunt their new brother, age 6, calling him, 'gay' and 'fag'. There was one instance where he was learning how to work a new birthday toy, smiling and laughing. The joy was sucked out of him, like a popped balloon, when one of the sibs said, "That's so gay"! This is not about sexual orientation, this is about bullying.
This happened quite a while ago but it keeps haunting me.
a) it was allowed by the parents (were they worried about disciplining his kids her kids?)
b) I was so shocked - I didn't do anything! I am so ashamed of myself
c) Recently, there have been mulitiple sucides by children as a result of bullying

I did talk with the little boy later, there was no question he felt bullied by the others. We talked about the words and why people bully. But I didn't do enough and I am so sorry for that. At the time, I was trying to welcome someone new into the group and I didn't feel it was my place to correct someone else's children - especially when meeting them for the first time. That is so wrong. Children are vulnerable and need adults to protect them.

This month there have been highly publicized suicides of two 11 year old boys (how many have not been publicized?). They had been bullied to death.
They were harassed at school - in front of teachers.
For more information see here and here.

There should be a zero tolerance for bullying in every school. Actually, there should be a zero tolerance for any kind of harassment. Just like the definition of sexual harassment, the person being harassed knows it when they feel it. That should be enough! But students are reluctant to report it or minimize the extent of the harassment. They think it will stop on its own. Parents tell them to ignore it. That might have been good advice when I was growing up but it is not in today's world.

Speaking up and stopping this behavior will not only protect the harassed, but may help the bully turn into a better person - before they get older and it escalates into anti-social or criminal behavior.
I am prepared now -bullying will never happen around me again!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dinosaur Sue - a real attraction

When I lived in Redding, I appreciated Turtle Bay and the ever changing exhibits. Even though I knew it was suppose to be a tourist attraction, I questioned if people outside of Shasta County would travel to Redding as a destination.

So, I was quite surprised today to hear a new friend, who lives in Elk Grove, talk about taking her grandchildren to Turtle Bay to see the new dinosaur exhibit.

In addition to Dinosaur Sue, she was interested in seeing the butterfly exhibit and letting the grand kids play at Paul Bunyan Forrest Camp.

I proudly gave her website for Bruce's slide show of Sue and other community information to use in preparing for her Redding vacation.

edited 1:08

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bailey spoils me

Bailey is my medical alert dog. But, she also performs mobility tasks, like helping me walk straight (by defining my left side boundary) and assists with depth perception. She will alert me if I have drop something. Bailey monitors my stamina which prevents me from stumbling. She will bark to alert others if I fall.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a check up with my new doctor. Bailey had not yet met her and so I took her to the appointment. It is hard to explain all the things Bailey does for me as each day is different in the way I can function. The appointment was late in the afternoon, (why do I even schedule them at that time?) of course, the doctor was running late.

By the time the doctor came into the exam room, I had little energy left. The doctor was in the middle of talking about medications, when Bailey put her paws on my shoulders. That alert action tells me it is time to slow down or rest. The doctor asked about the signal and I told her the meaning. She said, well, lets just listen to your heart for a minute. She listened, then immediately ordered an in-office EKG - later followed by an Echo and Stress test. The good news is a change of medication should help with the heart issues.

I was so proud of Bailey! It is hard enough to explain what Bailey is capable of doing for me, but to have her actually alert with the doctor there - and the doctor to be able to confirm her alerts -was amazing timing. I am sure the new doctor will not have a problem completing the form I need to take Bailey on a cruise in September.

Last Saturday, at the Frugalistic Flea Market, I was very tired after the morning onslaught of bargain hunters. Bailey was curled up under the table but jumped up on me, twice , to alert me to take a break. So if you saw a tired looking women, cuddling a dog on her lap, she was spoiling me - not the other way around.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Retirement mode

There is something that happens to the way you schedule appointments when you retire. When I was working, I would have 3 or 4 meetings before lunch, do grocery shopping or errands on my lunch hour and finish the workday with afternoon appointments, followed by completing all the paperwork generated from the appointments.
Then it seemed the second part of the day began with after school sports, homework, dinner, household chores and planning for the next day schedule.

The first year of retirement, the schedule drops down to 2 or 3 appointments or errands per day. At first, it seems boring. Soon enough, it is as busy as one wants to be ; especially since it takes so much longer to get going in the morning.

Lingering over coffee while reading the online news, checking email, and taking a stab at crossword puzzles, Sudoku or Free Cell takes precedent to rushing out the front door at 7:15.

In the second year of retirement, having one a appointment a day seems like a busy schedule. Then slowly it changes to a busy week is having 2-3 appointments in the WHOLE week.

I am busy. There is always more things to do in the house and yard than there seems to be time to do it. Activities and events in our community are numerous and keep us going. Those mandatory appointments are just a pain - and worth avoiding!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Old Singer Sewing Machine

I used a picture of my sister, Dennie's, old Singer sewing machine yesterday in my blog about the Frugalistic Flea Market. The funny thing is she she really didn't know what to ask for the sewing machine and thought it was made "sometime in the 30's." Some one at the flea market said it was worth about $300, so Dennie asked $100. It didn't sell at that so she brought it home.

Once home she did some research on the machine. Here is what she found:
The the sewing machine was made in 1926 in Elizabeth, NJ. She found a couple that are similar on Ebay, a couple of 1928's (but not a single 1926 or 1927). She is going to an Antique dealer for an appraisal. Apparently there were a lot of copy cats made in 1928 in Germany, England, and Egypt but hers is a true Singer made in NJ with the manufacture date.
So what do you think it is worth?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fantastic Frugalistic Flea Market

There is one more day at the Fantastic Frugulistic Flea Market at Cypress School in Redding!

Today, Sunday, it will be open from 8 -2; but things were selling fast. It is inside the Gym, so it it a perfect rainy day activity and don't forget to get one of the best hot dogs I have had in a long time.
Yesterday, I helped my sister, Dennie with her table. She was downsizing from a large ranch house to a smaller house in town. She actually made the move 8 months ago but has had a storage unit filled with boxes. The difficulty is always what to keep. Is it needed? Have you used it in the last year? Are you going to use it in the next year?
It seems obvious to me, but so many people have trouble deciding what to let go. She fits the latter category. Dennie remembers the story of how she acquired every item or who gave it to her. She had a paperback, "How to feed a family on $16.00 per week" she got it in 1972. (Okay, that didn't sell, but we gave it to someone with a sense of humor!)

I am so proud of her. Not only did we sell out most of the stuff by mid morning, she went back to her storage unit and brought more boxes.
We gave away the few things left and she did take back the old Singer Sewing machine and will sell that separately. So, while we won't be there today, there are still plenty of sellers and wonderful bargains!