Thursday, December 29, 2011

Jobs

Socrates said, "An unexamined life is not worth living." And who am I to argue with a fellow Greek? There are SO MANY WAYS I can bore you, my dear readers, so let's get to it, shall we?

It's time for a list of the jobs I've had over the course of my life. I have not had to write a resume in over 20 years and most of these positions were not included on it anyway.

  • Babysitting, Sonoma, 1976: I started when I was 14, babysitting my cousins Xenophon and Socrates. Their parents ran a restaurant so they needed me to work on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I made a whopping $1 per hour but this was enough to cover my small needs, mostly purchases of record albums and singles. If I recall correctly, albums were priced about $4.99 so one night of babysitting paid for an album. I only did this job for a year because by sophomore year in high school there were football games and dances to go to on Friday nights.
  • Little League snack bar, Sonoma, 1977: I sold candy, drinks and hot dogs but this was a volunteer job that lasted only as long as my brother was playing Little League (one season?).
  • Arnold Field snack bar, Sonoma, 1978: I think I did this a couple of times during junior year of high school. I think the junior class was responsible for organizing the prom (?) so snack bar money went towards that. I remember this as a lot of fun because you were with your friends and you knew most of the customers too.
  • Community Infant Center, San Mateo, 1980: The summer before I began college I lived with my grandmother, aunt and uncle and got this job taking care of babies and toddlers as part of  CETA (Comprehensive Employment & Training Act, defined in an article I just Googled called "CETA: A '70s Government Jobs Program that didn't work"). This is probably about the time I decided I probably didn't want children of my own, although I changed my mind eventually and even then I only had one!
  • Kresge College Office, Santa Cruz, 1980-81: My first financial aid work study job was here. I started by filing papers into student files and progressed to making posters and serving appetizers at the college provost's party. The women I worked for were really nice and we shared sorrow the day after John Lennon was killed.
  • Porter College, Santa Cruz, 1982: My first janitorial position! This two week job involved cleaning all the dorm rooms after everyone left for the summer. Best part: working with Lady Chardonnay and finding things people left behind: a 1959 version of Risk (wooden pieces!) and a stack of hilarious porno novels. Sample line: "She stoked his lust furnace." They were AWESOME (I still have a couple of them.)
  • Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, 1982: I worked in food service, selling chocloate dipped ice cream cones, popcorn, nachos, hot dogs, pizza, and other carnival stuff. I could also sell beer and wine because I was over 18 (most of the workers were not) so I was assigned to the pizza place quite often since that was where the booze was sold. By the end of the summer I could hold 5 or 6 cones rather than just one at a time. A solid skill which should go on my next resume.
  • Stevenson College, Santa Cruz, 1983: Another 2 week dorm cleaning extravaganza. I have no real memories of it other than getting up early and walking across campus to get there.
  • International Relations Office, San Francisco State, 1983-85: Another work study office job where I answered phones, sorted professor mail, typed up and made dittos of tests (remember those?!, and acted as receptionist. There was a big deal made, security-wise, when Rabbi Kahane was to make a speech on campus via the International Relations department. Scary to consider because he was eventually assassinated in 1990.
  • San Francisco State dorms, SF, 1985-1986: I put all that great UCSC dorm cleaning experience to good use and did the same job at SFSU, cleaning Mary Ward, Mary Park and Verducci Halls. It was hard work but so much fun too. You really bond with your coworkers and blithely disdain the other work crews (cafeteria, reception, painters, etc...). Summer #1: A guy named Bill became obsessed with me (he later made a film about his obsession which I never saw but my friend Ruth did). Summer #2: I liked a guy named Joey who would completely ignore me when I paid any attention to him but then would vie for my attention if I ignored him. Whatever, Joey. Plus I was a supervisor this summer so I had keys to the roof and spent a bunch of time atop Verducci Hall with my friends. Sadly this dorm was damaged in the Loma Prieta quake and was pulled down via implosion.
  • Westamerica Bank, Novato, 1987: I got a starting position here processing checks into statements from 3 to 11 p.m. I had one of those counting machines and I would verify that the amount of checks to be included in the statement were all there. At Westamerica you couldn't apply for any in-house position until 6 months had passed. I had free days and used that to find a new job here...
  • Redwood Credit Union, Santa Rosa, 1987-91: In succession I was ATM Coordinator, Accounting Clerk, Junior Accountant and Senior Accountant. But the big thing about this job is that it introduced me to CPA Boy who got a job as a part-time teller even though he coveted MY job. Luckily a couple of the supervisors were already involved so they didn't harass us but it meant CPA Boy could never get a job in accounting because I couldn't supervise my boyfriend! So Redwood Credit Union led to my marriage and my son, HUGE parts of my life. (I think this is also about the time my two good friends from SFSU, Uncle Mikey and Modesto were working for financial institutions too. Ironic since I think we three ALL planned to be writers of some sort, not banking personnel! Uncle Mike and I exchanged some credit union promotional items; his cover letter is HILARIOUS. I may need to share that someday with my dear readers!)
  • Bank of Petaluma, Petaluma, 1991-99: I started here as Accounting Assistant and finished as Controller. I basically did the bank's bookkeeping. I liked the work but not the stress from my boss and his boss playing me against the other. In any case, BofP was about 2 years from getting gobbled up by a bigger company. Then that company got gobbled up by Wells Fargo. I would have lost my job anyway by 2001 because they moved the accounting to Palo Alto. The trouble is that there are not very many small banks anymore so there was really nowhere for me to go after this! My experience is not exactly "too big to fail" level!
  • Boy Scout Troop #74, Treasurer, 2005-11: I started this volunteer position for a mom out on maternity but it became (practically) permanent. I gave it up once my son aged out of scouting this year. I can't believe it's already been 6 months since I handed everything over!
Time will tell what future jobs I may hold (writer?!). All I know is I have all the work credits necessary to snag Social Security, assuming it still exists by the time I turn 67.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One day you're 50 and thus halfway to 100

Here's a list of 100 people born in 1962. They will all be turning 50 in the coming year.
  • Adam Baldwin - actor, "Chuck" and "My Bodyguard" (No relation to Alec & his brothers)
  • Al Unser Jr - race car driver
  • Alison Arngrim - actress, Nellie Olsen on "Little House on the Prairie"
  • Ally Sheedy - actress, "Breakfast Club" and "War Games"
  • Alton Brown - food guru, "Good Eats"
  • Amy Chua - writer, Tiger mom
  • Amy Yasbeck - actress, John Ritter's widow
  • Andre Braugher - actor, "Homicide" and "Men of a Certain Age"
  • Andrew McCarthy - actor, "Pretty in Pink" and "Weekend at Bernie's"
  • Anthony Edwards - actor, "E.R." and "Top Gun"
  • Anthony Keidis - singer, Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Axl Rose - "singer", Guns N' Roses
  • Baz Luhrmann - director, "Moulin Rouge"
  • Billy Beane - Oakland A's manager, Moneyball guy
  • Bob Odenkirk - actor, "Mr. Show"
  • Brandon Cruz - actor, "Courtship of Eddie's Father"
  • Cary Elwes - actor, "Princess Bride"
  • Cheri Oteri - actress, "Saturday Night Live"
  • Chuck Palahniuk - writer, The Fight Club, Choke
  • Clark Gregg - actor, "New Adventures of Old Christine", married to Jennifer Grey
  • Clint Black - country musician, married to Lisa Hartman
  • Corey Hart - singer, "Sunglasses at Night"
  • Craig Ferguson - host, "Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson"
  • Craig Kilborn - host, "Late, Late Show"
  • Daphne Zuniga - actress, "Melrose Place" and "Spaceballs"
  • Darryl Strawberry - baseball player
  • David Fincher - director, "Social Network" and "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
  • Demi Moore - actress, "St. Elmo's Fire" and "G.I. Jane"
  • Dina Lohan - "mother" to Lindsey Lohan
  • Doug Flutie - quarterback
  • Eddie Izzard - comedian, actor, "The Riches"
  • Elizabeth Vargas - journalist, "World News Tonight"
  • Emilio Estevez - actor, "Breakfast Club" and "St. Elmo's Fire"
  • Eriq LaSalle - actor, "E.R."
  • Evander Holyfield - boxer
  • Felicity Huffman - actress, "Desperate Housewives", married to William H. Macy
  • Flea - musician, Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Genie Francis - actress, "General Hospital", married to Jonathan Frakes
  • Gina Gershon - actress, "Showgirls" and "Bound"
  • Ginger Lynn - actress, adult films
  • Grant Show - actor, "Melrose Place"
  • Hector Camacho - boxer
  • Hunter Tylo - actress, "Bold & the Beautiful"
  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee - track star
  • James Marsters - actor, Spike on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" & "Angel"
  • James Michael Tyler - actor, Gunther on "Friends"
  • Janine Turner - actress, "Northern Exposure"
  • Jasmine Guy - actress, "Different Worlds"
  • Jeff Garlin - actor, "Curb Your Enthusiasm"
  • Jeff Probst - host, "Survivor"
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh - actress, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "Single White Female"
  • Jerry Rice - wide receiver for S.F. 49ers
  • Jim Carrey - actor, "Truman Show", "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
  • Jimmy Baio - actor, "Soap"
  • Joan Cusack - actress, "Working Girl" and "Toy Story 2"
  • Jodie Foster - actress, "Silence of the Lambs" and "Nell"
  • Joe Queseda - comic book writer, Marvel Comics editor-in-chief
  • John Hannah - actor, "Four Weddings & a Funeral" and "Sliding Doors"
  • John Slattery - actor, "Mad Men"
  • Jon Bon Jovi - musician
  • Jon Stewart - host, "The Daily Show"
  • Karen Duffy - host, MTV, cancer survivor
  • Kelly Preston - actress, married to John Travolta
  • Abdullah - king of Jordan
  • Kristy McNichol - actress, "Family" and "Little Darlings"
  • Larry Wilmore - senior black correspondent, "The Daily Show"
  • Laura San Giacomo - actress, "Just Shoot Me" and "Sex, Lies & Videotape"
  • Lou Diamond Phillips - actor, "La Bamba"
  • Marcia Cross - actress, "Desperate Housewives" and "Melrose Place"
  • Mary Kay LeTourneau - sex offender
  • Matthew Broderick - actor, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "War Games"
  • MC Hammer - rapper, "U Can't Touch This"
  • Melissa Sue Anderson - actress, "Little House on the Prairie"
  • Michelle Shocked - musician
  • Mike Judge - creator, "Beavis & Butthead" and "King of the Hill"
  • Mike Rowe - host, "Dirty Jobs"
  • Miss Cleo - psychic, "Psychic Friends Network"
  • Nia Vardalos - actress, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"
  • Nick Rhodes - musician, Duran Duran
  • Patrick Cassidy - actor, brother to David & Shaun
  • Patrick Ewing - basketball player
  • Paula Abdul - host, dancer, "American Idol"
  • Ralph Fiennes - actor, "Shindler's List", Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter films
  • Rob Morrow - actor, "Northern Exposure"
  • Roger Bart - actor, Broadway star
  • Roger Clemons - baseball pitcher
  • Rosie O'Donnell - host, "Rosie" and "The View"
  • Sebastian Junger - writer, The Perfect Storm
  • Sheryl Crow - singer, "All I Wanna Do"
  • Star Jones - host, "The View"
  • Steve Carell - actor, "The Office, "40-Year Old Virgin"
  • Terence Trent D'Arby - singer, "Wishing Well"
  • Thomas Gibson - actor, "Dharma & Greg" and "Criminal Minds"
  • Tom Cruise - actor, "Top Gun" and "Risky Business"
  • Tom Kenny - actor, Spongebob Squarepants voice
  • Tommy Lee - musician, Motley Crue
  • Tracy Austin - tennis player
  • Victoria Gotti - mobster's daughter, "Growing Up Gotti"
  • Wesley Snipes - actor, "Blade"
  • Kelly Smith - writer of this blog (we can't all be celebrities)
There are a handful of people who were born in 1962 but have already passed away: Steve Irwin (Crocodile Hunter), Manute Bol (basketball player) and David Foster Wallace (writer).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Kinda glad it's over

The things I liked about Christmas:
  • Seeing my brothers, Everest & K2
    • Also special recognition because they helped clean and cook!
  • Seeing my in-laws
  • Opening presents
  • Having scrumptious meals (prime rib was particularly wonderful!)
The things I didn't like about Christmas:
  • The fact that this was our first Christmas without Mom
  • Ev's wife, F Bear, couldn't make it up because she is doin' poorly (Get well, F Bear!!)
  • The rush from place to place over the 2 day period
  • Overeating

But now it's over and time to turn to other things, namely, I am turning freakin' fifty in less than two months. Ugh. Double ugh.

I'm trying to think of some way to commemorate this via my blog so stay tuned. I don't think it will be as mundane as a "50 years, 50 accomplishments" type thing because I can't even imagine how I'd come up with 50 accomplishments.

In the meantime, I will clean up my office and plan for the rest of the week. This will include taking down and putting away Christmas decorations, having lunch with an old high school friend, and figuring out more topics to write about on this blog. Books? Movies? All that and more!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Well, crap!


I bought a new bathroom scale today because my old one is so wishy-washy on our uneven floors. I try to weigh in the same spot but I'm not sure it makes much of a difference. The new one is digital and weighs in increments of .2 rather than just .5. And I am like 7 pounds heavier on it!

Grrrrr.

So now I don't know what my weight REALLY is. I do know that I have still lost 17 pounds. But I was so close to getting into the next "decade" of loss (when the middle number goes down, that is) and now I am UP to last month's decade. Crapola.

In exciting yogurt news, the Trader Joe's Organic Vanilla definitely earns an A+ on (real!) vanilla flavor but a D- because I can POUR it onto my cereal. I just don't like my yogurt to be runny. I KNOW it doesn't really matter; it's just that I don't like it to immediately run to the bottom of the cereal bowl. I'm a wacko, what can I say?

My brother K1 arrives tomorrow (at my dad's). My other brother, K2, arrives Thursday evening. I may be picking him up at the airport.

A million more gifts to wrap so this is short!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Are you whelmed?!


December is one of the months of the year when I feel most unappreciated by the men I live with: CPA Boy and The Boy. (The other months are January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and November. Ha!) (Our seven male rats all appreciate me but only for the morsels of food I serve them. Still, it's nice to be...well, you know, appreciated.)

I don't quite know why that is, or why it seems to annoy me more NOW than at other times. I guess it's a combination of A) time passing and B) them just not caring about the things I care about.

As for A, The Boy is now, technically, a grown-up. He is over the whole miracle of Christmas (like Sally Brown he really just wants cash from Santa, preferably in $50s and $100s) and if there are decorations or festive treats, fine. If there are aren't, that's fine too. Meanwhile CPA Boy is all partnered up at his firm and that means that he works way more than he did a few years ago when he was just a minion. I think he would probably agree with The Boy about the decorations and treats. (Plus he needs to get minions of his own at work!)

And B, well, do men really care one way or the other if the house is decorated? If left to them to do the decorating I know it wouldn't get done. Or would it? Since they assume I will do it then there's no need for them to worry about it. Would they plan festive treats? Maybe they would if I wasn't here to do it.

For example, CPA Boy and I use to write the Christmas letter together. One of us wrote it and then the other would edit and it would go back and forth until it was perfected. (Funny aside: my family always assumed *I* did all the writing; his family always assumed HE did all the writing. But we always did it together!) Once he was too busy to do this I soldiered on. I think I did it for one more year. And then stopped.

When you are in charge of everything but buying your own presents it gets pretty overwhelming.

Not once has Christmas season been whelming.

I shop for almost every single gift, wrap gifts, cook, decorate, plan the social calendar (granted, not that tough since it's almost always the same), and spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day trying to make sure that my husband and two brothers don't get irritated or lose their tempers. I am pretty sure this is why I have loathed Christmas for the past several years. It's EXHAUSTING.

Now I am plunging into the season not caring one iota (or any other Greek letter) whether the menfolk get irritated or not. I can't prevent it nor is it about me. (Thanks, therapy!)

I am not sure if what I am after is thanks. I don't think that's it. I guess there's some sort of intangible validation I'm after and I can't even define it to myself. All I know is that I'm ready to hit the road (maybe tag along with my bro to go hang out in So Cal with my sis-in-law for awhile) and see if any one even notices I'm gone.

I love CPA Boy and The Boy anyway but not the excess load of work that December brings. Ugh.That's what this is REALLY about: I'm a lazy being and December is MORE WORK and I don't really think it matters to guys!

Plus, we aren't even religious and I guess I think it's weird that we use Christmas as a time to buy stuff for each other (I really am all about the birthday!).

I have lost 17 pounds overall and there's still not a shred of difference except my wedding ring is no longer tight. THAT is good news. In general I am focused only on the next pound but I think it will probably be at least another 25 pounds before any real noticeable difference will occur.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Time....is weird.


I was thinking about time last night. WHILE I was trying to fall asleep. One thing leads to another in my crazy, racing brain and it takes FOREVER before I actually get to sleep.

I was thinking: I will turn 50 in a couple of months. (And it's starting to kinda freak me out a little, btw.) Which means I have about 25-30 good (I hope?) years left. Sounds like a reasonably lengthy period of time, right? Then I subtracted, to see where I was 25-30 years ago. And, obviously, the answer was 20-25 years old.

How can this be? I remember being 20 as if it were yesterday! The last 30 years have FLOWN by. I don't like it.

For example, it seems like I worked my summer job at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for quite a long time. Nope, it was only 2 months. And again I thought, How can this BE? But it was a mere two months. I started July 4th weekend and finished on Labor Day weekend. But I remember that particular summer so very well and it seems impossible that it was almost 30 years ago!

Example 2: In May of this year, the week my mom was in the hospital seemed to last forever as I was experiencing it. Once she died that week seemed to have flown by. And now 7 months have passed. So quickly.

Example 3: My grandparents are all gone now. I never got to know my dad's dad as he passed away a few years before I was born (which really sucks because, by all accounts, he was a gentle, wonderful man and I would have LOVED to have memories of him!). But the other 3 died in 1984, 1987 and 1992. And I can see and hear them so clearly in my head that I don't understand that it could be 27, 24 and 19 years since they've left us.

Last example: I was thinking about my son, who is now 18. Let's say he gets married and has kids about the same time I did. I will be in my 60s when any of this happens. Weird. But right now I still think "60s" sounds old. And yet it's just over 10 years away. And that time will pass so fast!

Ugh.

So it comes back to one thing: you just need to make the most of your time NOW.

Okay, two things: don't freak out about these things as I try to fall asleep.


YOGURT UPDATE!!! I am trying out Trader Joe's low-fat organic vanilla bean this week. It list "vanilla bean" as an actual ingredient so that's something. Generally I try to avoid things that are organic, only because sometimes I think it is just an excuse to jack up the price. Is "organic" even regulated by the FDA anyway?! Review coming after I eat it for a few days...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Books and Other Important Things

I use a web site called Paperback Swap and I love it a LOT. I list the books I no longer wish to keep and mail them out (via inexpensive media rate postage) as they are requested. Then I order books I want and they get mailed to me.

For each book I send out I earn a "credit" and for each book I order I spend a "credit." Sometimes members of PBS talk about how the books are free, but other members will correct them and say they are not free because it costs an average of $2.50 to mail a book and there is a side market where people can buy and sell excess credits.

Right now I have about 20 credits sitting there waiting for books on my Wish List to come up. For example, a book like The Help currently has 2183 wishers! I actually have that book but I am not sure I want to give it up without reading it one more time. Anyway, as books get mailed out one moves up the Wish List line and books come at random times. Sometimes I have waited for over 2 years for a book!

Once I receive a book it's mine to keep. I can read it and repost it or keep it forever. Mostly I repost. I find it handier than checking out books at the library (although I do that too) because when library books come up you pretty much need to read them in that 3 weeks you have them checked out (and maybe a renewal of another 3 weeks). New releases can only be kept for a week and can't be renewed so I ended up returning books I had been waiting months for without ever reading them!

Now I have a shelf full of books waiting for me to get to them. I have been a member of PBS for almost 4 years and I find that my reading habits have changed because of it. I think I am saving money in some ways because I used to buy books (mainly at Borders or Amazon), read them and then put them in the giveaway pile. Crazy! But that meant that I actually read fewer new books overall and still had tons of time to re-read my favorites. Now I don't seem to re-read much at all since I have so many new books to read on my shelf. It's an embarrassment of riches in books but there just aren't enough hours in the day to get to them all. Not with magazines thrown in and the regular TV watching I do! Oh well. I will get to them as I can!

I was annoyed today though because a PBS member to who I had mailed a book on November 17 sent me a personal messages asking if I'd mailed the book. Yes, I replied, on November 17. (The PBS system gives it 4 weeks because Media rate can be slow since it's the last mail to ship and now the holiday season is here, so some books sit for weeks before getting delivered.) Today I get another PM saying, "I still haven't received the book." I didn't even answer this one because what could I say? I mailed it but I don't know how long it will take to get to Maryland! Sheesh! Then tonight I checked and the book had been marked "received". Much ado about nothing. Three weeks for a Media rate package is about right this time of year.

Meanwhile, my favorite TV show of the moment is going on some sort of vague hiatus on NBC. I LOVE "Community"!!! Tonight was the Christmas episode and they parodied "Glee" (apparently the two shows film next door to each other). I'm so sad it (and "Cougar Town", a show often mentioned on "Community") won't be back on TV any time soon.

I am really starting to love "Once Upon a Time" though so there's that. Some of the shows I watch are finishing up their seasons this month: "Boardwalk Empire", "American Horror Story", and "Terra Nova" (which is finally getting interesting). "Dancing with the Stars" is done until March, and "Survivor" will come back in February. Then "Mad Men" and "Game of Thrones" will start up again. And maybe even "Community" and "Cougar Town"? I can hope!

Tomorrow I will pay all the bills related to the stitches I had put in my pinkie finger in September. It has cost about $3,000!!! That's $750 per stitch, ridiculous! Next time I said I will slap a Band-Aid on it and walk it off! Until I pass out from blood loss. Then, hey! Ambulance ride! I bet that's inexpensive.


I am a pretty good Christmas present shopper. My family calls me The Present Whisperer sometimes. All you need to do is pay attention to what people say and then use it to choose gifts. Easy.

But what I really like to do is BUY STUFF FOR MYSELF so this time of year is always hard to get through. I have to make lists of things I want (again, easy, because I always want lots of stuff) and then WAIT. And maybe I get some of the list items for Christmas, which is nice of course, but then I get to WAIT again until after my birthday in February. It's just too long to go without buying stuff for myself!!!

And to clear up something I mentioned in the "eyebrow" post: I might like buying makeup if it wasn't SO FREAKIN' EXPENSIVE!!!! I actually love the Sephora store but just to buy simple items and you've spent over $100. So I tend to get bath gel or nail polish (I bought some spiffy purple polish for my toes but I still haven't put it on!). Since my dear BF Lady Chardonnay enjoys the whole makeup whirl (and can probably steer me to some affordable items!) I am hoping she will shop with me next summer during our Fabulous 50 (though she'll still be a youthful 49 at the time) trip. Are we still on, Lady C? I need help!



Monday, December 5, 2011

Good Vanilla Yogurt is Hard to Find!

I'm on a mission! I eat my very yummy Trader Joe's Vanilla Almond Clusters and Trader Joe's Vanilla Almond Just the Clusters mixed with vanilla yogurt for breakfast most mornings. I use the two cereals mixed together because it turns out I like the basic cereal more than the "just the clusters" one. Mixing them together is a sensible way to get through the box.

In any case, vanilla yogurt always seems to be hard to find at the store. I tried Yoplait's French Vanilla and it was okay. I then tried the Raley's Sunnyside Farms brand and it was very generic. Then I tried Trader Joe's Vanilla Yogurt and I don't really like it that much. It doesn't have real vanilla and it's kind of goopy. But I have one or two more containers left to eat my way through before I buy more.

I didn't think to check the ingredients on the first two brands I tried so I don't know if they had real vanilla in them. As I searched the Internet for vanilla yogurt taste tests the consensus seemed to be to just add vanilla extract to plain yogurt. I am not a fan of plain yogurt so I am not sure if this will work for me. Plus I really don't want to "make" yogurt in the morning! Yes, yes, I realize we're talking about adding a spoonful of vanilla to the plain yogurt and stirring, simple. But it's one more step I shouldn't need to make! So the Great Vanilla Yogurt hunt begins!

Meanwhile, most of the decorations are on the Christmas tree. I still need to finish up and do the rest of the decorating. Because our new little tree is so small (only 4.5 feet tall!) I have several strands of snowman garland left. I put some on the stairway banister so far. I'll see where else I can use the rest tomorrow.


But first up tomorrow is driving with my dad to see my aunt at her assisted living home down in San Mateo. That takes up the bulk of the day because we always stop at her house first so Dad can get the mail my cousin has collected. Then we usually get lunch at McDonald's and then visit with my aunt for about 45 minutes. It's getting harder because she can't remember things too well anymore. But my cousin took her to a neurologist and they made some changes so she's moving around and walking. Last month she wasn't doing hardly any walking on her own.


My dieting is going well so this is the time it's easiest to avoid temptation. When you make no progress it is so easy to say, "Well, I'm not losing weight anyway so I may as well eat...." I have been very good when shopping for Christmas goodies (stocking stuffers and the like). I usually make several baked goods before Christmas and I'm trying to figure out the ideal strategy so I won't be tempted. One way might be to make things I'm not crazy about. Say, peanut better fudge instead of regular fudge. Or lemon bars. I like those things okay but I can do without them. My fave thing I always make for the holidays has a brownie base, topped with marshmallows to get all melty. Then you put on a layer that includes melted chocolate chips, rice crispies and peanut butter. YUM! So if I make this, maybe a small batch or not at all. Like I said, if the weight loss is showing signs of life it is much easier to say no to things. Time will tell.

I guess my goal is to actually be able to wear blue jeans again. I haven't worn jeans since before I was pregnant in 1992! I think this will be a good thing to shoot for!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New Ratties!!


We have babies! Four itty bitty baby rats each only slightly larger than a walnut. They are absolutely adorable. We have named them after characters from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine": Quark, Rom, Nog and Brunt. We are still trying to calm them down so I didn't want to startle them with the camera flash just yet so pictures of our new ratties will be forthcoming.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

I got crabs! (No, not that kind...)

Yesterday was the first day that fresh Dungeness Crab was available in our neck of the woods. The season was delayed by the usual impasse over the price setting between the crabbers and the wholesalers. Anyway, I got 6 of these to pick clean tomorrow!

Some will be dinner and some will be frozen for crab cakes/crab dip later in the month. Yum!

Then tomorrow afternoon CPA Boy and I are driving to a Sonoma pet shop to choose some new rats to add to our family. We may get 2, 3, or 4, depending upon my husband's tender heart when it comes to baby rats.

Once we know how many then we can start picking out names. For a pair I thought of Wiggins and Tudball but apparently I'm the only human in the world to get the reference! I referred to a couple of our current rats as Heckle and Jeckle and CPA Boy extrapolated Heckle, Jeckle and Hyde.

So, yeah, the names are a work in progress! Our current babies, who are currently quite elderly in rat years, are Kirk, Ernie & Burt. Sadly, Spock died young. Past ratties were Fred & George, Calvina & Hobbie, Wallace & Gromit, and Cocoa & Puff. I thought Calvina & Hobbie were boy rats but they turned out to be girls. We prefer the boys because they will explore some but then they like to settle down and nap on your lap. The girls NEVER stop moving and they leave pee trails as they go. Yuck.

Meanwhile, in surly teen news, The Boy got a speeding ticket last month on his way back from his astronomy lab in Lake Sonoma. He was going 95 MPH and no, NOT a typo. I don't think I've EVER gone that fast in a car!

Don't know what the deal is with him these days. A mother worries but she is also ready to kick his butt out! In the meantime (due to the "mark-on-wall/lying") he does not have use of my car anymore. Time will tell if that privilege will return... In the meantime he has a $480 ticket and he is not eligible for traffic school because he was going too far over the speed limit. Ya think?!

Off to bed!


Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Time to Light the Lights!


Ooooh, blog titles with DOUBLE MEANINGS! A combination of a line from "The Muppet Show" theme song up next to the plan I have to put up the Christmas decorations today! I am a clever girl!

So why Barry, Kermit and Shaun? My brother awesomely volunteered to take these albums and digitize them for me! None of the three are available on iTunes (or anywhere else I'm aware of) digitally. The only trouble is he has to listen to each album as it plays so he got to "enjoy" TWO of my old Shaun Cassidy albums ("Born Late" is the other one). I haven't listened to these for about 30 years myself. And as Lady Chardonnay points out, "Other than 'That's Rock and Roll' and 'Hey Deanie' I don't remember a single other song." There's also "Da Doo Run Run" but that's it. Still, I remember listening to these albums with much fondness so it will surely be a nice addition to the old iPod.

The Muppet album is another gem I've missed. Looking forward to that one! And for some reason, that particular Barry Manilow album --- "Barry" --- has never been released on CD or digitally. Does Barry hate it for some reason? It's got some lovely songs if I recall, including a cute duet with Lily Tomlin making fun of the other popular duet songs of the day (Barbra & Neil, Barbra & Barry Gibb, Barbra & Donna, Lionel & Diana).

All of the Christmas stuff is downstairs waiting for me to get the decorating done. I bought a new tree which is small (4.5 feet tall) yet ample to place presents around. In preparation for putting up our tiny tree, I made CPA Boy and The Boy help me clean out and rearrange the garage (they had to DVR the Raiders game for later: what good guys to make Momma happy!). We went through the decorations and pared down a lot. Last year we didn't even have a tree so it had been 2 years since I've seen the ornaments.

Our front yard is huge and would be ripe for extreme decorating but after decades in apartments or houses which were not visible from the street we never got into outdoor decorating. And now it just seems like too much work! But I do have red and white ribbon to wrap around the 4 trees in front to make them look like candy canes so that's a small step...as long as the ribbon doesn't leach out color and all the ribbons look white and pink instead. Festive either way!

In dieting news, I was very good over Thanksgiving, having a plateful of dinner on Thursday and Friday with no second helpings. Even so I was uncomfortable on Thursday night, feeling stuffed to the gills but I also drank TWO Diet Cokes so I assume that didn't help matters. I ate no pumpkin pie but on Friday I DID eat the last Mrs. Field's cookie from the guys trip to Fairfield and Chick-Fil-A Wednesday. I was completely satisfied by my plateful of food which was comprised by a spoonful of each item and minimal gravy. I really am used to eating less overall.

I weigh myself about once or twice a week and nothing has changed for WEEKS! I have been exactly the same weight for weeks, I tell you! Then, on Sunday morning, movement! In the right direction too. I was suddenly down by 5 pounds! A miracle! And I weighed this morning again to see if it was a fluke and it wasn't! That means I've lost a total of 15 pounds and NOT ONE IOTA OF DIFFERENCE is actually apparent to me. I'll need to take stock of my wedding ring fit later: it had been getting snug this year. I don't wear it around the house, mainly because it was snug, so maybe it will fit better again and I can go back to wearing it all the time.

It has been very difficult to have cut down what I've been eating and then not show any weight loss whatsoever! (Actually, now it's not difficult at all because I'm used to it and also able to say 'no' to several former staples of my diet! Except for an occasional cupcake!) But maybe it takes metabolism a while to catch up? Like my metabolism thinks, "Okay, she's eating less food, trying to starve me, so I better hold on tight to everything." Weeks pass and now it's thinking, "She's still eating less but we are surviving just fine so maybe I can ease up on a few fat cells after all."

Christmas decorating awaits!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

No one told us ANY of this!


So my eyebrows have always been a little more "Brooke Shields" or even "Audrey Hepburn" than "Edith Piaf" or "Greta Garbo" and I have never been one to pluck them (or use an eyelash curler --- I think it may be a latent phobia --- those gizmos freak me out and I have never owned one). I think this stems from the way in which I rebelled as a teen.

I was never a drinker nor did I ever try any kind of drugs. (When I was about 19 my acne medication made me kind of high: I felt like I was floating as I lay on my bed. My doctor told me to halve the dose and all was well.) I never wore trampy clothes nor did I run around with a "fast" crowd in high school or college. Instead I refused to wear makeup. THAT'LL show my mother! Did I mention the acne I had starting in high school and WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?


Anyway, back to my eyebrow story. My mom was a child of the 1940s and 1950s. She had attended modeling school and learned how to do her makeup according to the standards of those times. Among other things, this pretty much meant plucking out ALL of one's eyebrows and drawing them in again with eyebrow pencil. My mother's eyebrows never did grow back except sparsely and every day for the rest of her life she had to draw them back on.

I am very surprised that my mother never held me down and plucked my eyebrows. I am pretty sure she wanted to since she used to slap makeup on me for all occasions she could manage. Her makeup was Max Factor pancake, another thing she used all her life. When I finally started wearing makeup (about age 19 or so) I also used pancake makeup. As a child of the 1970s, however, this was NOT the right thing to use, but it was all I knew! By the time the 1980s rolled in with its big hair and bigger makeup I missed that train too. My hair stayed small and my makeup routine stayed 1950s.

I never did anything to my eyebrows though. They were thick and dark and natural. I liked them, probably because I knew my mother did not. SUCH a rebel was I. About 5 or 6 years ago I did have them "shaped" which is basically waxing off the stray hairs above and below the main section but I only did it that one time.

Here's what no one ever tells you: your eyebrows go gray too! (Intellectually I knew this but now that it's happening to me at a fast and furious pace I am shocked, SHOCKED!) Oh, and they also grow more wildly than ever. I have a few that are super long and need to be trimmed. I have so many more strays over and under the natural arch that I think my eyebrows will start to look like the late Andy Rooney's. And the gray ones! (Actually, mine are white.) They stick up and out just begging me to pluck them! So I do but this is a no-win scenario as they will ALL turn white and then I'll be eyebrow bald.

So it looks like I will need to resort to an eyebrow pencil after all. Blech. I hate shopping for makeup.

Sigh. I guess older women DO tell us these things but we, in our perky-breasted glory, think, "Naah, that'll never happen to ME." And years later there we are, looking for a bra with way more support.

And don't even get me started on the chin hairs. Guh.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

...Sometimes you don't...

Last night I ate a Mounds Bar. I haven't been eating sweets lately (not really counting the dark chocolate-covered edamame or cherries because the chocolate is so bitter to me that I can't really eat them for real ENJOYMENT, ya know?) and the Mounds tasted really good. I have found, however, that whenever I eat something rich it makes my stomach feel kinda, dare I say, queasy. Just a little bit though. But that little bit is enough to keep me from chowing down on large quantities of rich foods.

In the most educational novel I read in high school, Scruples, the heroine Billie starts out chubby. While staying in Paris she slims down. Later in the book another character who struggles with her weight, Dolly, is talking to her and Billie says not eating chocolate is easy for her because it is the color of poo. So she just imagines that it IS poo and she can easily refrain from eating it. I HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO DO THIS. But give me a hint of a stomach cramp and it's a little easier to avoid it!

I think the other thing that has helped is that I DON'T SNACK. Before September I would go through candy bars, cookies and so forth quite often. I would shop at Cost Plus for the usual stocking stuffer treats for CPA Boy and The Boy and I would also buy a bunch for myself. Then I'd eat them all before Christmas. This year I only bought a package of Toffifay because I really like the hazelnut/chocolate combo. That was it! I am impressed with my fortitude!

And yet, I lose no weight. But I am sure my pancreas thanks me for giving it a rest from all the sugar/carbs I was taking in. I am still hopeful that my metabolism will kick in at some point and start spewing out the pounds!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. I was going to prepare some foods today but there is no room in the refrigerator for anything. But once the turkey is in the oven I can get it all done. For right now I am totally Scarlett O'Hara-ing: I'll think about it tomorrow. But I am looking forward to yummy turkey. And my pop will be coming over to eat with us so he can pass judgement on how well I follow his stuffing recipe!

And it was a good week for girlfriends! I had a great chat with my sis-in-law, Francine Bear; made plans for Saturday with CPA Michelle; and had TWO phone calls with my best friend of all, Lady Chardonnay!! Granted, we called each other because each of us reached a low ebb this week but we still had some laughs. For whatever reason (mainly a bad habit from the days when long distance phone calls were out of our budgets and a 3 hour time difference doesn't help either!) we just don't talk much on the phone. We e-mail usually, and lately I think our respective blogs are actually smoke signal communications to each other even though other people read these blogs too. Which really works because now I feel like I really know what's going on daily in her life and she knows what's happening in mine. Cool, right?

I bought a new Christmas tree yesterday. It's tiny, only 4.5 feet tall. We just wanted something to decorate that doesn't entail the rearrangement of an entire room. I will need to purge some ornaments though. That's next week's task.

I watched "Never Let Me Go" and it was a fine adaptation of the book. I have recorded "Inception" and "Ocean's Eleven" (trying to make up a bit on my fundamental George Clooney deficiency but I will really need to be in the mood to follow through and watch it). I also have "Ship of Fools" on the DVR but it always seems to be a movie that I record, don't watch and then delete...until the next time it's on! I like Vivien Leigh though and would like to watch the movie eventually!

Happy Turkey Day!




Sunday, November 20, 2011

Random Comments


Last night I made it through TWO movies which was cool. I finished "Let Me In" which was a little slow, but interesting. I read the book last month and had made thought about 15 minutes worth of the film over the past week while dinner was cooking. Then I started "Up in the Air" which I really liked. It's odd but I don't think I've ever seen any other George Clooney movie. I just ran down the list in IMDb and the only exception was his voice work in "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut". I just don't get to the movies very often. One of my current goals is to see more movies at the theater. We'll see.

I am recording "Never Let Me Go" this week. I read that book too earlier this year. And "Gidget" is still on the ole DVR, so I hope to get to that soon too. It is stunning how much I know about movies yet how few I've really seen!

I got a few things purchased for Christmas today. And CPA Boy and I went grocery shopping for Thanksgiving stuff. Raley's is never super busy so it wasn't bad for a early afternoon Sunday. I'm sure Safeway was packed; it always is. That's why I don't like shopping there!

Here's a weird thing I like to do while I'm watching TV: I fold paper. I will take a stray magazine subscription card and then accordian-fold it. Once it's folded I just play with it for a few days and then I start tearing it into little pieces. Then I throw that away and start again. I really like doing something with my hands while I'm watching TV. Like I said, weird. Anyway, I bought a package of origami paper because it's IN A PERFECT SQUARE already. And the colors in the package are fun. I only know how to make 2 actual things with origami: a balloon or a cup. I can also make a fortune teller thingie. I guess I could learn more origami patterns and actually use them to decorate bu then the tearing-paper-to-bits part would be missing!

Last night I finished a book too: TTYL. It was cute and I will definitely read the next 2 books in the series. TTYL is more for a high school audience while The Mother-Daughter Book Club seemed to be aimed more towards the tweens. That series continues so I am interested to see whether the reading level will increase once the girls reach high school age.

I really must get bored easily when it comes to book types. I find that I really must vary the genres of books I read because there is a certain sameness to each category. For example, in the junior high/high school girl (and college-age girls too, I think) stories, there are 2, 3 or 4 best friends (is it ever MORE than 4?? I can think only of The Group as an exception), they are introduced and a story is told over the course of the school year. Problems arise, they are overcome and the cycle begins anew in the next book of the series (even Harry Potter books follow this basic format).

Mysteries are the same way. And romances. And almost every kind of fiction! I have to vary what I read so each type of book seems fresh when I pick up the next!

The other thing I do when I read the junior high/high school/college books is decide which character I relate to best and which character suits my best friend, Lady Chardonnay. It's almost never a perfect match (not until she and I get around to writing our Chastity Castle series!) but there is almost always a reasonable approximation or a combination of one or two characters' traits.

I always find it odd when a group of 3 or 4 girlfriends all profess their "best friendedness" with each and every other main character. In my life I have always known it to be a group of friends but the dynamics generally favored PAIRS of girls who were the actual "best friends". In high school this was always rotating so that my BEST friend in our group of 7 always changed from year to year. This makes sense because your interests are generally in constant flux in high school. And the "boy craziness" stage never seems to arise in every high school girl at the same time so there is always maneuvering among a large group (it's hard to be best friends when you BOTH have crushes on the same fella!).  In college, almost immediately, it was me and Lady Chardonnay who were true blue BFFs although we had other close friends who rotated in and out over the years. NEVER were we best friends with every single girl in our circle of friends. I guess this makes sense too in that we know a bit more where we stand in our taste in guys. It's ALWAYS a good thing if you and your BF like different types of men! Lady C and I RARELY overlapped here!

In other important news, the inexpensive space heater I bought is keeping my office so toasty warm! Yay, no frozen-on-the-keyboard fingers this winter!!!

UPDATE: I watched "Gidget" tonight and I think it might be the kind of movie you love only if you see it for the first time as a kid! Sandra Dee looks anorexic (I think she actually was at the time and her shoulder blades are QUITE prominent!) and she must have looped ALL her dialogue because it's so obviously dubbed, even the indoor scenes. And her scenes with Cliff Robertson are kinda creepy because he is so much older than she is (he looks a mature 35-ish and she looks 14-ish). Oh well. I doubt all the "beach" movies I watched when I was a kid would be as enjoyable to me now. At least Annette and Frankie look the same age!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Aaaarrrggghhhhh!!!


Yesterday was not a good day.

I got some tasks done: organizing kitchen cabinets, coloring my hair, doing CPA Boy's laundry, and other things I am forgetting about right now.

But still so much to do: shop for Thanksgiving groceries. I HATE grocery shopping but I am looking forward to eating a Thanksgiving dinner I'VE cooked. I actually put together a pretty good meal, simple though it is. Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing (Dad's FABULOUS recipe!), glazed carrots, cranberry sauce: this is all I need to make me happy. CPA Boy will make the pumpkin pies and candied yams, neither of which I plan to eat. I do not care for yams. I don't know why. They are actually kind of sweet but I just don't care for the taste. (Same goes for sweet potatoes.) I like pumpkin pie but I don't love it. I don't want to waste fat calories on something that's just okay. For the record, CPA Boy makes FINE pumpkin pies!

I invited my dad (last year I had both Mom and Dad over and my mom ate and ate and couldn't stop raving about how good everything was, sigh) and he'll be here. I also invited my various in-laws but they aren't coming. Part of me is relieved: no cooking for a zillion people. But part of me is irritated because their reasons indicate they will NEVER come to my house for Thanksgiving.

Moving on...

I was cleaning house yesterday and as I walked past the front door I noticed marks on the wall. They were about 2 feet from the floor and looked kind of like a wall would look if 2 small doorknobs had been slammed into it. The paint was gone and the surfaced was pressed in and smooth. I question my son and he's all, "I'm shocked, SHOCKED. I don't know how that happened." (This is not what he SAID but it captures his attitude pretty well.)

Yeah, well. I said it looked to me like an XBox controller had done it. My (supposedly brilliant) son responds, "I could never have hit the wall with the controller from where I'm sitting in front of the TV." Now I hear things getting thrown in that room all the time as well as cussing and fist slamming on the coffee table. His response then is ALWAYS, "What? I didn't hear anything." Like I'm a moron. I KNOW something has been thrown. And it has: an XBox controller. Turns out it BOUNCED into the wall after he threw it. We're talking about 12-14 feet here so a pretty big throw.

He's all, "So if you knew I'd done it why'd you come and ASK me?!"

I'm all, "The first words out of your mouth SHOULD be 'I'm sorry. How can I fix it?' not all defiant and snotty."

It only got worse from there. There were F-words and other awful phrases used by both parties. It ended up with me taking away use of my car. (Says he: "Fine! I'd rather take the bus anyway. It's easier!" Uh-huh, right.) I may also have told him to pack a bag and get the hell out of my house. It's all a kind of blur. He hasn't budged from his room though (no wheels, heh!).

So: AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

I am drowning my sorrows in books. I have finished Ball of Fire (Lucille Ball bio) and Book 2 of the Bartimaeus trilogy (The Golem's Eye) and also read The Mother-Daughter Book Club last night (Lady Chardonnay mentioned one of the sequels in her blog so I ordered the first book in the series via Paperback Swap and got a practically brand-new copy on Tuesday!). The Bartimaeus books take a few days to get through so I may put off reading the last one for a bit. I also started TTYL this morning while I was waiting for my hair color to do its thing. It's written entirely in instant messages among three friends so it takes a bit to get into the rhythm. It's really good though. And it has at least two sequels to follow.

Entertainment Weekly is here to read as well but it has Kristen Stewart on the cover which means lots more pix of her inside as well. I draw mustaches on all her pictures so I will need a full pen this week. She just irks me. Last week Miss Piggy was on the cover. I love her. She's more my idol than KStew will ever hope to be!

Speaking of, I really want to see "The Muppet Movie"! I think I would also like to see "The Descendants" starring George Clooney. Maybe tomorrow or next week.

And to top off a bad day/week, two of my very favorite TV shows are MIA on the Winter?Spring schedules: "Community" and "Cougar Town". Guh.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Frozen shoulder???

So my shoulder pain has been getting worse in the last week or so. I'm thinking I have Frozen Shoulder, which is what my dad had several years ago. He had surgery and lots of physical therapy.

It's my right shoulder that hurts. I cannot reach into my right back pants pocket (if my pants had one, that is) nor can I reach my bra strap with my right hand. Sleeping on my right side makes it hurt worse. Ugh.

I told CPA Boy that he needed to help me do "physical therapy". What I pictured happening: him gently cradling my right arm and helping me stretch every day. How it happened: him grabbing my right arm and trying to crank it upwards while I yelled and criticized. (Our marriage in a nutshell, I guess!)

One website said that a frozen shoulder starts out slow and then ramps up to excruciating very quickly. I think I am in the ramping up phase, dammit! The "frozen" part comes when people have pain so they stop using their arm thinking this will help heal it. Instead the arm just settles into an even more frozen position. Sheesh, I really don't want to have surgery!

In other news, I received 3 books in the mail today (TTYL & TTFN by Lauren Myracle and The Pig Came to Dinner by Joseph Caldwell) and picked up one at the library (Five Fires: Race, Catastrophe and the Shaping of California). These will join the other 50+ on my to-be-read shelves. It's somehow always more exciting to delve into the newly received volumes. Plus library books always need to move to the top of the pile. The Pig Came to Dinner is book 2 in a trilogy and I am still waiting for book 3.

Dad & I went out for errands and shopping today --- Sears, Cost Plus, Costco, library and post office --- and then picked up lunch. We were chatting and I brought up my Facebook friend from Mandeville who was on last night's "House" episode. He makes several connections closer for me. Dad knew Kris Kristofferson in high school (he signed Dad's yearbook!) and Dad's sister was in the same class as Merv Griffin. And CPA Boy met Harrison Ford's brother earlier this year. And Lady Chardonnay has a good friend whose sisters are actresses. I am thus connected pretty quickly to many people! My eye doctor's last name is Bacharach so he may be related to Burt Bacharach (I refuse to ask because I don't want to be THAT person and it makes no real difference to me). And my former gynecologist's girlfriend is an actress.  And there must be other connections I am forgetting.

I don't think I actually know anyone famous though. But I don't care. I like to think I would be "cool" if I met someone famous, AKA not make an ass of myself! I have met a couple of authors at book signings and managed to act like a normal person.

I did not get to most of yesterday's to-do list so I guess I know what my plan is for tomorrow!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Household to-do lists are no fun!

Another banner day in the life of a housewife....

Leak in the roof, what do you do? Call at least two places for estimates (3 or more is just asking for a stay in the loony bin) and make a choice. Then schedule the chosen firm to do the work. Easy, right? WRONG.

Roofer One was out the next day and the estimate came via e-mail report (with photographs!) two days later. It was pricy ($$$) though.  Roofer Two kept promising that the estimator would call. Then, nothing. I would call the office to see what the problem was and they told me they had no record of my ever calling! I persevered, however, because you just need TWO crummy estimates for comparison's sake. In any case Roofer Two's estimator guy came over two weeks ago. Still no estimate.

I called them today and now I'm waiting for the estimator to call me back. Yeesh. (Sorry CPA Boy, we're going with expensive choice; CPA Michelle recommended them too!)

Meanwhile, I bought some new storage things and I need to put them into place. I need to transfer food from the freezer in the kitchen to the freezer in the garage and vice versa. I need to thaw meat for dinner. I need to bring in the case of vitamin water because my upstairs fridge is empty. I need to do laundry. I need to organize the piles in my office. I need to buy more Christmas gifts. I need to plan my Thanksgiving shopping list. I need to vacuum. I need to exercise. I need to color my hair. Aaarrgghhhh!

All I really want to do is direct read! Although I am between books and I must decide what to start next. But I have a book in at the library and 4+ others on their way via Paperback Swap! In the meantime, magazines! I got Time, Oprah, and Real Simple to keep me going for today.

I had a horrible nightmare a couple of nights ago and I can hardly wait for it to fade away. This happens every few months: a dream so awful that I wake up petrified (I don't scream though; take lessons, CPA Boy!) and keep picturing the terrible images over the next couple of days. ::shudder::

Better get to work.....


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Genres, genres, genres...


I found an image that had a chart of book genres that I really liked but it was almost too small to read the categories! So here they are, listed for your convenience:

  • Mysteries
    • General
    • Noir/Hard-boiled
    • Police procedural
    • Hobby
    • Cozy
    • Historical
    • Paranormal
  • Romance
    • Contemporary
    • Paranormal
    • Gothic
    • Regency
    • Western
    • Historical
    • Romantic suspense
  • Fantasy
    • Traditional
    • Horror
    • Comic
    • Historical
    • Weird
    • Contemporary
    • High/Epic
    • Slipstream/Interstices
    • Urban
  • Science Fiction
    • Dystopian/Utopian
    • Space opera
    • Alternate history
    • Cyberpunk
    • Steampunk
    • Military
    • Romantic
    • Hard
    • Soft
  • Thriller
    • Environmental
    • Supernatural
    • Historical
    • Medical
    • Psychological
    • Legal
    • Espionage
    • Political
    • Technological
    • Military
Obviously not all genres are presented in this list but good enough. I can't come up with examples of each of these but I am pretty sure it corresponds to what I like to read or at least have tried.

I do not care for thrillers in general and I've read very few. I loved The Bourne Identity, for example. I read The Hunt for Red October and it was okay (LOVED the movie!) but cannot face another Tom Clancy tome, ugh. This is CPA Boy's favorite author though.

I am not a big mystery fan either but I have read a handful. I read Sue Grafton's A is for Alibi, liked it fine and decided not to pursue the alphabet series any further. I think they would be entertaining but there are too many other books I'd rather read. I read a scrapbooking hobby mystery series by Laura Childs which is cute but not well written. I read them because they are short, feature a scrapbooking shop, and take place in New Orleans (my hometown). The "mystery" is serviceable at best but I like reading about the French Quarter (where the heroine lives) and other New Orleans stuff (food, Mardi Gras). I like the more unusual mysteries like the Flavia de Luce novels; she's 11 years old. I also adored a book I read called The Victoria Vanishes in the Peculiar Crimes Unit mystery series. It was very funny. It turns out to be the 6th book in the series so I need to go back and read the earlier volumes.

I know everyone's taste is different but I really don't understand how people who delve into just one genre do it. In other words, how does one read every "cozy" mystery to come out? How do you stand one more romance novel, especially when that's all you read? I get too bored reading the same type of book!

As for romance, I have read exactly 2 Harlequin romance novels in my life; that was plenty. Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" books are considered romances (among other genres) but she has pretty much made her books more historical in recent volumes. There should probably be another category under Romance: Vampires. Ugh.

Of these categories, the ones I gravitate towards are Science Fiction and Fantasy. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE dystopian  novels! Just read a teen book from the 1970s called The House of Stairs. I can thank Mr. Frank Levy and his Speculative Fiction class at Mandeville High for the genesis of this love!

Alternate history is great too Robert Harris's Fatherland is a good example). I haven't tried steampunk yet but I have a series on my Kindle to get to at some point, so we'll see. In the fantasy genre, I guess I would be a reader of Horror (Stephen King, for example), Comic (Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker's Guide, Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books), High/Epic (Lord of the Rings, Narnia, George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series, etc...), and Traditional (I think this would cover children's series like Harry Potter, Septimus Heap and Bartimaeus).

I also read books that aren't categorized on this list. Literary fiction, I guess?? Where should a book like Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides go? Or even something like Catcher in the Rye? Where does Historical Fiction (Edward Rutherfurd's Sarum) go, assuming it wouldn't be considered a Historical Romance (Gone with the Wind or Kathleen Winsor's Forever Amber)? So this genre list is incomplete.

I like a lot of non-fiction too and that's a completely different animal. Subjects I like reading about:
  • The Tudors: Henry VIII & Elizabeth I specifically. I like non-fiction AND historical novels almost equally. I didn't watch "The Tudors" though because we don't get Showtime.
  • RMS Titanic and other shipwrecks
  • Serial killers: real ones, not necessarily fictional characters
  • Lucille Ball, Katharine Hepburn, Jean Harlow, Great Garbo: fascinating women
  • Marie Antoinette, Cleopatra, Queen Victoria and her descendants (especially Nicholas & Alexandra)
  • Language, specifically the history of English
  • Earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other related geology/meteorology
  • World War II, especially Hitler & the Nazis and the Holocaust
I know I am missing a few topics!

Time to go read!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lunch, Pie and Chat

That's right, I had a mini chocolate cream pie at lunch!

CPA Michelle and I had lunch today at the Petaluma Pie Company (appropriate music alert! "Michelle" by the Beatles is currently playing on my iPod!). I really liked the chocolate pie. For the main meal I had the Mushroom and Goat Gouda savory pie. While it was tasty, I discerned NO cheese flavor at all. That made the pie a disappointment; I live for cheese. CPA Michelle's Spinach & Feta was also devoid of cheese flavor. In any case, it was a nice --- and inexpensive! --- lunch with lots of chat.

You'd think we'd run out of ways to complain about our family members but no, the topic is never-ending. And generally features us planning to run far away and see how our families would manage without us. Alas, we think they would barely blink and would learn to do without all the little things we do to keep the family machine a-runnin'. And it's expensive to run away, dammit!

CPA Boy and I caught up on some TV last night, watching Jeopardy, Terra Nova, The Simpsons and House. I am excited because next week's House episode features a Facebook friend of mine! He is actually friends with my brother from Mandeville High days and I haven't met him in person that I remember (my days in Mandeville are a blurry memory; not happy times for me). This puts me 2 to 3 degrees from Hugh Laurie! Cool.

I've got pork chops thawing for dinner and that's easy enough but I haven't a clue what to serve with them. Well, I think I have a can of baked beans that'll work. Eat up, Boys!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


We saw "Weird Al" Yankovic in concert last night and he was great. The crowd definitely encompassed all ages. Anything I know of current music is due solely to Al who parodies those tunes. BONUS: We got out of the parking lot FAST. I'm a pro! CPA Boy and The Boy had to run to catch up with me. Ha!

Today Dad & I went to The Container Store (LOVE!) and then to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. I didn't get my usual: Crispy Chicken Costoletta which comes with mashed potatoes and asparagus --- YUM! Instead I ordered the gumbo. Now I have leftovers to serve to CPA Boy for dinner! Bliss!

Oh and for the record, when CPA Boy became a partner we checked for CPA Man but someone else already had that personalized license plate, so Boy it remains!

I also brought home some cheesecake for the Boys. I didn't get any for myself because, while I like cheesecake just fine, I don't LOVE it. No sense using up calories on something sweet I don't love. I will, however, regret this about 9 tonight...

I plan to (maybe?) use the calories tomorrow when I go to lunch with my dearest friend who is not Lady Chardonnay. We'll call her CPA Michelle. I am hoping she will want to try a new local restaurant called The Petaluma Pie Company. Besides sweet pies they offer something called Savory Hand Pies. Some flavors include: Mushroom and Goat Gouda, Samosa (Indian flavors), Hamburger Pie, and Spinach & Feta. I have high hopes for this place. Plus I might be willing to taste a bit of chocolate cream pie. We'll see. Lately, since I have basically stopped eating much sweet stuff, I just don't have the taste buds for sweets like I used to. But savory? Count me in!

I am hours behind on my TV watching, due to Mona Lisa Smile and Weird Al. And I remembered yet another show I watch: Cougar Town. Once you get past seeing Courteney Cox as Monica Geller from "Friends" and once the show ditched the actual "she's a cougar" premise, this show turned into a bunch of people sitting around drinking wine, making snarky comments and doing stupid stuff. I love it lots.

The shows I watch, in no particular order: The Simpsons, Once Upon a Time, Boardwalk Empire, House, Terra Nova, Dancing With the Stars, Unforgettable, Mad Men, Modern Family, The Middle, Suburgatory, Community, American Horror Story, CSI, Game of Thrones, Survivor, Jeopardy, The Soup, 30 Rock, Cougar Town, The Daily Show, and lots of QVC & Turner Classic Movies.

Ugh, it's almost 5 o'clock and it's dark! Another thing I loathe: Daylight Savings Time changes. Pick a time, America, and stick with it!!

Okay, that's a wrap for today. I want to change the comments section so they will post without moderation but I haven't figured out where to do that with Blogger's new look. I'll keep working on it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dear Diary


My dearest friend, Lady Chardonnay, has been blogging daily about her weight loss progress. I think I would like to make this more of a general diary of what's going on with me!! (Yes, I am TOTALLY copying my BFF as she is setting a SPLENDID example!)

Speaking of weight loss, I have lost a total of 11 pounds over the course of 2 months. I am eating better and I am definitely forgoing all the sweets I used to substitute for breakfast and lunch. I am not a huge lover of breakfast. Oatmeal never really appeals although I actually LIKE it. Weird. I am also weird about cereal: I do not like eating it with milk, preferring it plain. I got some yummy cereal at Trader Joe's and it was too crumbly for plain eating. My solution was eating it mixed in to a serving of vanilla yogurt! Perfect!

So I am eating less crap but the weight is really going nowhere. My assumption is that if I do nothing else, while eating my new healthier diet, I will lose about 5 pounds over the course of a year. Since I need to lose a zillion I will need to ramp up my efforts: less food, more exercise!

Time will tell....

Meanwhile, my son (let's call him The Boy) has had his driver's license for a month now. It took him about 3 weeks to start referring to MY CAR as "my car". Guh. He does not have a car of his own because his father (let's call him CPA Boy) is waiting for the model he wants to buy to arrive at the dealership. CPA Boy wants a 2012 Hybrid Toyota Camry. The Boy will then get the 2005 Toyota Corolla while I will wrest back control of my 2007 Toyota Prius.

As you can see, we are a Toyota family indeed.

We used to buy new cars all the time. We had a rolling system where we would buy a new car every 3 years so that we each kept a car for a total of 6 years. Then we'd sell the 6 year old vehicle. Now we have decided to stick with our cars for as long as possible. Plus CPA Boy got screwed out of the last deal, as he got my 3 year old Corolla and I got the new Prius!

In any case I will be so happy to have my car back in my complete control. I do not like anyone driving my car. (I also don't like to be a passenger in cars either, by the way.)

I had a huge pile of magazines to go through thanks to some new subscriptions. I get National Geographic, Entertainment Weekly, Time, and Real Simple, all of which I love and read religiously. We got free subscriptions to Oprah, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Money, and Smart Money. I was DROWNING. So this weekend I took Saturday night to polish them off. This involved NOT READING some of them. It feels good to have the pile GONE.

I counted the books on my To Be Read bookcase next to my bed. There were exactly 50!! And I have new ones coming every week thanks to papaerbackswap.com!!! I just ordered a teen book series by Lauren Myracle apparently written in instant message form. They were on several challenged book lists so I must check them out!

And my TV programs keep recording. Thanks to my newer, larger capacity DVR I have actually been able to watch a bit MORE than normal. This involves watching movies in pieces: perhaps 15 minutes while I am cooking dinner, another 10 minutes while I wait for CPA Boy to finish showering and then join me for our regular TV, etc... But last night I finished "Mona Lisa Smile" instead of watching "Boardwalk Empire" or "Once Upon a Time" because practically every actress in it was of note: Julia Roberts, Julia Stiles, Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhal, Ginnifer Goodwin, Marcia Gay Harden, and a couple of others, including a tiny part for an actress now on "Boardwalk Empire". I loved the movie, by the way. A distaff version of "Dead Poet's Society"??

I was making a list of TV shows I watch this morning to share with Lady C and I now realize I forgot one: American Horror Story! Oh, and sometimes The Daily Show!

Well, this is cool. I didn't think I had much to write about and here we are. LOTS written! Yay!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fears & Loathings

Almost every person has things they are afraid of. Perhaps they have a phobia about people ending sentences with a preposition.

And there are nouns (persons, places, or things!) they loathe, as they say on forums and message boards, with the passion of a thousand burning suns.

Here are my fears:
  • Cockroaches, grasshoppers, crickets, many other insects and arachnids
    • When I was about 4 or 5 we lived on Dixon Street in New Orleans. There were two specific incidents I remember:
      • I have a memory of being outside at night and seeing a roach crawl towards me, climb up my leg, travel over my head and down my back and leg. I have to assume this was some sort of nightmare that seemed so real that I came to Ibelieve it really happened.
      • The second incident was real though. My brother and I were playing in the backyard (was there a swingset?) and I felt something on my tummy. I lifted up my shirt, saw a caterpillar and took off screaming into the house, "Get it off me! Get it off me!" My mom stripped off my shirt and got rid of the caterpillar. I had red marks where it bit me. And DON'T tell me they don't bite. They do.
    • Living in California I don't see the huge roaches that proliferate in tropical Louisiana so I am not confronted with the actual creature anymore. I do have nightmares if I actually see one on TV or in a photograph. They had some on display at the San Francisco Zoo when we went years ago. They gave me nightmares too.
    • My bug nightmares usually take the form of me dreaming I am waking up and then feeling as if insects (usually ants) are crawling all over me. I will wake up for real and turn on the light to check. No bugs. Sigh.
    • Crickets/grasshoppers creep me out because they JUMP and you never know where they'll land: on ME presumably. ::shudder::
  • Being caught in a fire
    • I think a lot of house/business fires happened when I was a kid in the pre-sprinkler age. The houses in our town all had brick shells and after a fire you would see the black scorched brick around the windows. There was one down the street from my aunt's house.
    • We had fire drills and bomb scares at school all the time so perhaps I was so constantly on alert it became more than a fear.
    • Then there was a terrible fire in downtown New Orleans in November 1972 in the Rault Building. They showed footage on the news of the women (in a beauty salon on the top floor I think) leaping from the building rather than burn. I watched it before my mom could turn it off (I don't think know if it was live coverage or not, but they certainly didn't warn viewers about disturbing footage in those days). I was only 10 at the time.
    • Two months later in January 1973, there was a sniper who set fires in the New Orleans Howard-Johnson Hotel and he shot firemen as they climbed ladders to help. It was a Sunday and we usually went to my grandparents' every Sunday but for some reason we didn't go that day. (Dad doesn't remember why either.) The thing is, we use to pass by that HJ every Sunday. The following Sunday you could see the scorching of fire on the outside of the building.
      • The coverage was on TV all day long. The sniper was killed late that night but the news people said there must have been accomplices who escaped (there weren't but I never got the memo). My stupid 10-year-old self assumed they escaped into our backyard and I began to hate going to bed. I only felt safe when it rained because I reasoned bad people stayed home when it rained so they couldn't be in our backyard. I still hate going to bed and I still feel safe when it rains at night.
      • I bought a book a few years ago about the sniper (his name was Mark Essex) and it turns out he had suffered terribly before he snapped and started killing people. It was no excuse, of course, but after reading the book I felt unburdened somehow. 
  • Airplanes
    • We live close to a small airport so the sound of planes landing and taking off can be heard quite often. After September 11, 2001, when they grounded all the air traffic, it was so quiet! But once the planes started up again I always seem to tense an itsy bit. The odds of a plane crashing into our house are minimal, of course, but we live in the actual landing zone (it's on the disclosures!). 
    • I haven't flown anywhere since 1999. I am not thrilled about flying anymore. When I was younger, in my 20s, I loved flying but didn't have the money to do it often. Now I have the money but not the will. Weird. This will need to be a fear I confront. Can't drive everywhere I want to go! Like, Massachusetts!
Here are my loathings:
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts
  • Certain celebrities rub me the wrong way
    • Kristin Stewart (irritates me just to type her name!),Lea Michelle & Zooey Deschanel are current examples
      • Nope, no good reason, they just irk the living crap out of me. Okay, KStew always looks like she's constipated and hates everyone. That's reason enough. I draw mustaches on her now whenever she's in a picture in Entertainment Weekly. Which is pretty much weekly.
  • People who criticize your choices regarding pregnancy.
    • I cannot tell you how angry I was during my pregnancy. People felt the need to tell me about there horrific delivery stories. They told me I should breastfeed. They called playpens "baby jails". Just SHUT UP people! Whether I breastfeed or not, whether I incarcerate my baby or not, it's NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! Hmm, my son is actually 18 now, maybe I should get over this.
    • I NEVER tell a pregnant woman what to do or how my birth experience went. Unless she asks. And, really, no one ever has. Hmm, they're probably tired of people telling them what to do too.
  • People who criticize, period.
    • Just keep it to yourselves, people. No one likes a critic. That's why we have BEST BUDDIES. They are the people we go to when we want honest critique. They know us, love us and will not try to destroy you by burying you in criticism.
    • Just because it worked for you child, pet, boss, TV, whatever, doesn't mean it will work for me.
  • Windchimes.
    • 'Nuff said.
  • Non-centered personalized license plates
    • It is remarkably easy to center the words on a license plate. I hate seeing them when they are left-justified for no apparent reason. Or there's room for a space and there isn't one so it all runs together.
  • Spitting
    • Ugh, just gross in every context.
  • Canoeing
    • Before we were married my hubs and I went on a canoe trip down the Russian River with his brother and his girlfriend (they're married too so now they're my in-laws!). A horrible day:
      • I got sunburned where the sunscreen didn't cover.
      • My muscles were so sore after paddling 10 miles that I could barely move that night.
      • My boyfriend was mean as he told me how to paddle: "Which way do we want to go?" "Left." "Which way do we want to paddle?" "Right." "THANK YOU!"
        • It was the "THANK YOU" that made me want to whack him out of the canoe with my oar but I was afraid of capsizing. Which we did anyway so in hindsight I should have whacked him.
    • He did ask me to marry him two weeks later though, from guilt, I'm assuming, for making me suffer through the canoe trip.
  • Dogs
    • I was terrified as a very little girl by a very big dog. Since then I loathe the big dogs and tolerate the smaller ones.
  • I know I have more so I will need to compile and continue later...
What are YOUR fears and loathings?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ch-ch-changes

So. Over a year has passed since my last entry. Oh well, let's move on...Several changes over the last year.

My mom died on May 7, 2011, somewhat suddenly and out of the blue. She was 75 and died about 1/2 hour before Mother's Day began. She had been feeling unwell for a while but with Mom that wasn't unusual. Like her own mother, who had been a registered nurse herself, Mom hated to go to the doctor. She put it off as long as possible. When she finally went to her appointment on Monday, May 2nd we figured the doctor would prescribe an oxygen tank and she would breathe more easily and go on for several more years. But the doctor discovered something called atrial fibrillation and sent her to the emergency room. Mom was admitted to the hospital and given tests and oxygen. But from the first day she went downhill fast. My last real conversation with her was on that Tuesday night. By Wednesday she was mostly sleeping and couldn't really converse anymore. She knew Kevin, Keith and Francine when they arrived on Friday but she couldn't really talk anymore by that time, which was heartbreaking for all of them.

Turns out her carbon dioxide levels were rising fast and this was shutting down her system. Her breathing problem wasn't just that she wasn't getting enough oxygen but that she wasn't exhaling enough carbon dioxide. Once she started getting lots of oxygen she started building up lots of CO2. And that was pretty much it. Mom never wanted a breathing tube so while they might have been able to extend her life with breathing apparatus she woke up enough to fight them when they tried to put the mask on her face. Once we knew there was no coming back for her, we let her go, all of us (Dad, me, Michael, Kevin, Francine and Keith) spending the day in the hospital's special room for terminal cases. We alternated between crying, talking and laughing and Mom slept her way peacefully into the next world. One weird thing to me was that when the end came none of us cried at that moment. It was all so calm. And so sad.

Meanwhile, all the rest of life goes on: you still need to make dinner, do the laundry, keep the family going, etc... But you do it with a different spirit. Nothing is ever the same and yet it is.

My son, a grown-up 18-year-old, is just starting out on his life's journey. That journey hasn't taken him from our house yet, as he attends the local community college and lives at home still. And now he's driving, having received his license last week. I am a nervous Kelly, but all will be well.

My years of active motherhood are over right about the same time I lose my own mother. One of those cosmic coincidences. Now I need to figure out what the next years of my life will be...stayed tuned for further developments on that front.