Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Blues

Have you noticed how many people are feeling down right now? It is amazing how many. Blogs, friends, acquaintances, all talking about how they are just not feeling right this holiday season. I don't feel alone, that's for sure.

But who can blame us for feeling a little blue? Our economy basically quite working in September, our homes are not worth much and falling, our retirements have been gutted. Not to mention global warming, Maddow, stupid Bush, jobs, and the list goes on and on and on.

So what is a person to do? Well, if you want to know what works for me, it is to either do something for someone else .... cook, call a friend that needs me, etc., or practice "cognitive behavior therapy", i.e., stop the sad thought in mid sentence and replace it with a positive thought. Keep practicing it over and over. Your brain loves to get into sad little ruts. If you have enough sad sentences going through your brain - it actually doesn't want to do anything else! That's why it is so important to nip these thoughts and feelings in the bud. Acknowledge that it is a sad day and list all the reasons why. Let it soak in, if you will, then move on. It takes a massive effort sometimes to change your thoughts. But remember, the mind is similar to a computer - it only knows what you put in. It does not know the difference between something that is actually happening , and something that you are only thinking. It merely sends the message on to your brain, that sends it on to your body, to respond appropriately - to release hormones, adrenaline, etc.    -   It can be tricked, however.    -    If you use happy, peaceful, thoughts, and "creative visualization", imagining wonderful scenarios in minute detail, it thinks that is what is happening ... and releases the appropriate information to the autonomic nervous system. It does take practice, however. If you cannot think happy thoughts or scenarios, then start counting your blessings one by one. The mind can only think one thought, in any given moment;
  • I am so blessed to have a warm home. (look around you - feel how warm it is compared to outside)
  • I am so blessed to have this soft sweater. (feel the sweater with your hands - feel how it feels on your skin where it warms you)
  • I am so blessed to have food to eat today. (look at your food, smell it, be thankful for it)
  • I am so blessed to have a sweet child. (look at your children - they are so sad when they think you are sad - what would life be like without them?)
You get the picture.

So you do have control. You may not have control over what is going on in the world. But you DO have control over how you respond to it. Go ahead, try it. Be persistent though, your mind is a cagey little bugger. It always wants to go back to what is easy - it hates to work hard at being happy when it really wants to just WALLOW in it. 

So go ahead and give yourself some time to wallow - and then take control. You are the only one that can make yourself feel better. The only one.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I can honestly say I have not actually felt like screaming during this renovation until TODAY! We are at the tail end of stuff. It should be going smoothly and the finishing touches should put the shine on the massive amount of work that has been done so far. But instead of it being a "Ta Da!" moment, I feel like screaming and crying at the same time. I really need to get a grip, I know.

But the doors do not fit. My contractor has been left with additional responsibilities because his partner is gone for a week or so, and left him with all the problems he was dealing with - so he is not calling me back. In the meantime, the tile guy is taking the week off and is not available to seal the shower, or grout what he chose to not grout last week. My daughter is coming on Thursday and she doesn't have a door to her closet - and it is not pretty - not in the least. The stove does not fit the counter top - a full inch too tall. Now we are trying to cut holes in the hardwood floor to lower the stove. The guy at the hardwood shop forgot to reorder the trim my contractor had asked him to do two weeks ago. It goes on and on. Why can't people just plan ahead? Why can't they just do their job? If you run out of one kind of moulding - shouldn't you automatically reorder - especially when you are asked to? The only thing my contractor had to order was the doors and trim and moulding. I did everything else! What are we waiting for? Doors, trim and moulding. GHAAAAAA!

Since I am ranting ... is there any store that is stocking it's shelves? Throughout this holiday season, and before, I have had to order most of what I wanted. I think the retail stores are going to do themselves in, if they don't find a way to stock what they have for sale. It is just too easy to not go shopping, and just order everything over the internet. You get better service, too. Okay, end of rant.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Warm Boots

In case you haven't noticed - I have been watching a boat-load of movies lately. That is partly due to the new television that came with the remodel, but mostly because we are somewhat snowed in. We were able to get to the grocery today, and I did manage to exchange some boots for my younger daughter. She called, stating that she is dreaming of warm boots, and had been shopping for no-longer-existing-boots in Portland (all sold out with the current glut of the white stuff there, too.) It just so happened one of her Christmas gifts was a pair of warm UGG boots. Since she was unable to get here for said Christmas openings, she did not know this during our boot conversation. This brought me to a dilemma. The boots I had bought were really not the ones I wanted to get for her, But I took the advice of the sales lady, going with the ones all the young girls seem to want. After our morning conversation, I realized I should have gone with my own instincts and bought the ones that were taller. Especially after discussing this with my older daughter, who has been totally appalled with her younger sister's lack of fashion sense - cheap Rite Aid boots, worn short, (one pair already worn out in three days), with leggings not quite reaching inside the boot. Should I add that my daughters could not be more different? One is a fashionista and one is NOT. After a conversation with the local retailer (we tried to utilize local retailers as much as possible this shopping season), I knew I had to forge down and exchange for the last pair of boots in her size, in the shape and color that she wanted.

Which brings me to something I feel pretty strongly about. I believe buying one thing, of good quality, and using it for many years is preferable to an ever-changing quantity of cheap things, that end up in the landfill. I would rather pay more for these boots, getting her exactly what she wants and needs, and have her wear them for more than one season, or year, than buy more boots that are thrown away at the beginning of Spring. With these changing economic times, I think we are going to go back to that way of thinking. No longer should we buy lots of stuff. Period. We should buy those things that enhance our life (warm boots certainly fit this category), with an eye on reduce, reuse, recycle. It is going to be a big change for all of us. But maybe being stuffed into a small bedroom for two months gave me a new perspective. I have been very spoiled in living in large homes, even having two homes. What I learned in that bedroom is that we can be happy with a lot less. Just being downstairs in this small condo feels like living in a mansion. I realize I need less space than I have always thought I needed to be happy. I think we all will realize that we need less of everything, and those things that we do buy should be of a quality that is sustainable. My in-laws have the same furniture that they have had for most of their 60+ years together. It never occurred to them to throw away their furniture when it just needed to be re-covered. We need to get there, too. As for me, this small space is lovely, and it will not be done again in my lifetime.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Did we have Christmas?

We've been told that time moves with more rapidity as we age. But it is now bedtime on Christmas Day and I have no idea how it can already be over. I never did get with it. For the first time in my life, it was if I just skipped the holidays. Weird.

The day was excruciatingly beautiful. Two feet of snow on top of about six inches. I don't remember a more beautiful Christmas Day. But in all other aspects - it was just another day. We did not have our traditional breakfast, complete with my husband's family Christmas coffee cake. We spent the day hanging pictures, putting stuff in cupboards, washing the construction dust off of just about everything in the house. We fought over where the pictures would be hung. For some reason, my husband HATES change. God forbid that the cabin picture go over the fireplace, and not behind the table! I think he needs something more to do... good thing ski season is starting. Our dinner was a normal dinner, even though I had planned a really nice chicken marsala. By the time it was time to cook, I went with something I didn't have to read the recipe. No Christmas china, no silver, no centerpiece and crystal. No loud, happy family asking for the potatoes to be passed. It seems without the kids we are not as inclined to "do Christmas." Or is it just this year? The economy has tanked, shopping is no longer fun, the kids couldn't make it due to the weather, and we have no idea what to expect in 2009. Our country has been let down by so many. My husband has a job interview first week of January for a job he is not excited about. Hmmmmmm - I wonder why we don't feel all jolly.

I have felt extremely grateful for all that I have, however. I am thrilled with the updated 30-year-old condo that is currently our home. I am soooo grateful that my daughter is still here to enjoy her baby's first real Christmas. (Even though half of Christmas Day was spent in the emergency room with ongoing post surgical issues.) But I worry about everyone that is so much worse off than we are. I worry about our friend that just lost her husband of almost 40 years. I worry about our friends whose business is failing, as is the health of the man of the family. I worry about the workers that have made this transition in our home, and whether or not they will have work in the new year. It is something on their minds, that's for sure. I worry about my brother who told me today that he knows he is going to get a cut in pay, as he is the last one in his company without one. So maybe rather than beating myself up for not getting with the Christmas spirit, I will just skip this one. It seems I'm not the only one feeling less than happy today. Happy Birthday, baby Jesus. And Merry Christmas to everyone!  

Monday, December 22, 2008


Wow! Where is all this snow coming from? Portland is socked in, we had snow last night here in Nevada, and expect more all this week! I would be loving this if I was assured my daughter could fly out of Portland on Thursday. This may be our first (but probably not last) Christmas without our family. Not sure how I feel about that!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Wizard of Oz 1939 (Trailer from the mid-50s)

Does this ever get old? It is still as wonderful as it was when I was a small girl.

A different Christmas

This season is turning out to be a Christmas different from season's past. Our country is realizing that shopping till you drop is not working. Most of the people we know, including ourselves, are cutting back. One family is making each other's gifts, others are just not shopping as much. And while I agree with the changes, we need to change, the little traditions seem even more important. I have always tried to keep the little important traditions alive, in spite of my girl's declining interest in them. What was once an exciting day of decorating cookies with friends, is now me pushing them to show up, hoping for some enthusiasm. I have to admit, they usually have fun. 

The other little traditions; Christmas music starting December 1st, silly holiday movies, trimming the tree, Christmas Eve candlelight services, making cream puffs for friends, driving around looking at lights, have gone by the wayside this year. Our home will not even have the tree up until Christmas Eve. Finding the stereo for music has been impossible, and without a kitchen - forget entertaining, baking, or even having a home-cooked meal! Our daughter, son-in-law and grandson will stay home, where my daughter can continue to heal. I worry about my younger daughter getting caught in the storm due on Christmas day, when she will be flying in. The lights are not as plentiful this year, it seems. I think everyone is feeling a little blue. 

So an empty nest requires new traditions. I'm just not sure where to start. I guess the first thing would be to NOT remodel anywhere near the holidays. Maybe look for friends in the same boat next year, and start designing new ones. They need not be child-centered anymore. My girls will need to start their own. We will be together when we can, and I will look to them for the lead as to what they want their holidays to look like. What about your families? Are you changing, and if so, what are you doing to fill the holes once filled by excited little children?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


This is what it looks like from the window of my bedroom, here in Tahoe. It could not be more Christmasy. I arrived to snowfall and all the quiet that comes with it. My daughter is healing in Portland. I stayed a few extra days (should have stayed more). She has her husband home, and help from her sister and mother-in-law. I am grateful this holiday season that my girl is here with us, and we are not grieving a tragedy. I will deal with the doctor later...

It is looking to be a quiet Christmas. Our daughter and her family probably will not be able to join us for the ski holiday they had been planning. But that is okay. This season is a time to be grateful for what you have, not what is missing.

The remodel is coming along. We are now in nail-biting time to finish before Christmas Day. I am pushing for Friday. The contractor is doing his best with last-minute problems like the stainless sink that was damaged just when the granite guy needed it to install. We have had problems getting some of the doors, a common occurrence with mountain living in the winter. So my little home will be workable for the holiday, if not perfect. Much like life, I guess.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Flutter of Butterfly Wings

It was like the flutter of butterfly wings. That feeling. That feeling that something was not quite right.

My daughter and I headed to the hospital yesterday for her to have a routine procedure in the out-patient surgery center. All was on time and went well, I was told two hours after they wheeled her down the hall, tiny in her overly large hospital gown. We would be home by 9 p.m., they said. I felt something akin to unease. But my logical mind said all was well, the doctor was on top of things, and seemed very competent. The surgeon assisting was also very professional and asked all the pre-surgery questions adequately. I smiled at her, reassuring, telling her she would feel better soon... 

But something went wrong.

How often have you heard about a routine procedure turning into a loss? Everyone shakes their heads, and asks - can you believe it? He/She was so healthy - what could go wrong? But the reality is, many things can go wrong. Surgery, is still surgery. It comes with risks. And my little girl could have died. Right there in that ordinary surgery center, on a ordinary day. 

The flutter of butterfly wings.

When they didn't bring her up to the room two hours after the first surgery, I knew something was wrong. Finally I get a call from the doctor - they think she is bleeding internally -  they are going back in. Bleeding internally? Not wanting to hold him up, I kept my questions to myself. Two more hours of waiting. All the normal programming driving me crazy. Finally the doctor comes up and tells me the routine procedure was anything but. They transfused about 5 pints of blood. FIVE PINTS OF BLOOD???? WTF???? She's tiny. Five pints of blood is about all she has...

It was an artery that they missed during the procedure.  (A #@*&%$# ARTERY!) Her blood pressure dropped, pulse went up - trying to keep herself alive while the blood spurted into her abdomen, FOR TWO HOURS, while I waited patiently in her room. 

The flutter of butterfly wings.

Our friend died today. A dear friend, and a great guy. Dead in his 50's from a devastating disease. For him, it was the end. Death, so close to all of us, came knocking. There comes a time when the flutter no longer passes. It will happen to all of us eventually. But it doesn't make it any less welcome.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


One really good thing about being busy with a grandson and daughter needing you for the moment, I have taken a respite from all the political websites. This, gratefully, has given me a little more upbeat feel for our current economic plight. Knowing full well that what we focus on becomes a physical and mental zeppelin, reading Mother Jones, Huffington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast,, EconoWhiner, etc., gives you an idea just how informed I am at any given moment. What it also does is give one a very pessimistic view of all that is happening. It wasn't until my daughter commented on the possibility of not having more children, that I took pause. I needed to tell her that the world has never been perfect, and yet humanity has continued. There is always the possibility of things getting better. And I really do believe things are going to get better. Much better. The reason for this belief is all the incredible energy going into solving the world's problems. Nothing like hitting bottom to get every one's attention. The economic meltdown in the U.S. has affected the entire world. They now know that when we go down, they also are very negatively affected.

Sixty Minutes did a portion of their program on how Saudi Arabia is now putting their extensive wealth behind finding alternative fuel sources. While denying the end of oil based fuel sources, they are also preparing for the future with solar, wind, etc. This is just one country working on alternative energy sources. Obama, and many others believe the U.S. needs to lead this effort. No denying this would be a boon for our economy. No, in fact, other than a few really difficult years, I see our world finally coming into the new century. We're talking an infrastructure that is befitting the twenty first century, clean fuel and energy sources, a world populace educated on their effect on the planet. All in all, not a bad future. Certainly not one that should exclude another grandchild.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Whew! You forget.

I have spent the last two days taking care of my little grandson. He is one year old and very active! In addition, he does not sleep through the night, just like his mother before him. Which brings me to the topic of children sleeping. Both of my girls did not sleep through the night. My oldest would go to bed at her bedtime and sometime during the night mysteriously appear at the side of my bed and scare the bejesus out of me, or cry from her room to be saved from whatever scares us in the middle of the night. Four years later my younger daughter was born, and since it had already been four years without sleeping through the night, you would have thought I would have been used to it. This daughter had asthma. But we didn't know that until years after we should have actually been doing something about it. Thank you, Dr. Dumbass. She would wake in the night and we would either bring her to bed with us, or try multiple themes of trying to get her to self-comfort and go back to sleep. We tried many means. We had her sleep in her sister's room, which only woke her older sister up, so I had two to deal with in the middle of the night. We bribed with different beds. There was a pretty day bed, bunk beds (she begged for), twin beds with her sister, you name it. Word to the wise ... it's not the bed!

I don't think the professionals really know what makes some babies sleep through the night and other babies turn their parents, and household's, into walking zombies. But that doesn't stop everyone, and their grandmother, giving advice on just how to accomplish a restful night sleep for all. Some well-intentioned friends said to just make them stay in their bed until they eventually go back to sleep. Just be firm. That may have worked for their children, but mine were either way more determined, or they worked themselves into a full-blown coughing, gagging, and eventually throwing-up, fit. Do I let them die of an asthma attack? Would that have given us a better night's sleep?

The point I am trying to make, is that all children are unique. What may work for one, probably will not work for all. So I try not to pass judgement on my poor, sleep-deprived, daughter and son-in-law. I try to resist the urge to tell them to try again the "Ferber Method", which is actually based on sound principles. Instead, this week with my daughter and grandson, I keep the monitor in my room and stumble up the stairs to try to get him to fall back asleep with a pat on the back, or walk him so his mother can sleep a bit longer. But, of course, it is not me that he wants, and she ends up getting up to calm her screaming son. It all brings back memories - not to mention burning eyes. All of which is forgotten in the morning when his sweet face gives me a smile. Just like his mother before him.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

New Economy

One of my favorite blogs, EconoWhiner, made a couple of points on one of her blogs, regarding what to do if you find yourself unemployed. She suggests, among other things, taking this time to really think about things you might want to do, other than what your last job might have been. Since my last job was five years ago working in the medical field, and had nothing to do with all those years of education I struggled through, I began to think ... maybe now is the time to write that book. It has nagged me for years. Many possible topics have come and gone in my imaginary book. Should I write about losing my mother at age six? How about my friend, Mike, who is a one-man anomaly? What about families? A work of fiction? It goes on and on.

But it was that particular blog topic that got me to thinking. She suggests honing skills you may need in this new economy. And it will be a new economy, believe me. I do not see us in the next decade doing the same things that we have done over the last two. For one thing, credit will not be available the way that it has been. That doesn't mean that people won't have jobs, or that we will all turn into roving bands of misfits. But it very well could mean that people will live in a reduced economic environment. I predict that conspicuous consumption will go the way of the dinosaur. It will no longer be as cool to tote your Prada bag, drive your BMW, and flash your bling with the same flare as you once did. It is going to take this economy a long time to rev back up, if it ever does. Many people have been living like millionaires, on salaries way below that level. They have used credit cards to look and act like Paris Hilton, and I think this is going to change. Consumerism, on the scale we are used to, is on it's way out. This meltdown has proven that it cannot, and should not, be sustained.

On that note, back to the blog that got me to thinking about writing. There is no better time to hone skills that could take you into the future. Whatever they may be. My husband and I are thinking about writing books. They may never get picked up, but the mental exercise will not be lost. For you, maybe it is starting a business out of your home, or taking a computer class, or going to cosmetology school. I don't think what you do is as important as taking this opportunity to try new things, especially those things that have always been in the back of your mind. I believe we are all here for a reason. We are born into this world with a task to complete. What is yours?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Book

I think I have found the premise of my book. I have messed around with different ideas, and today, while talking with one of our workman, it dawned on me. What am I good at? What really makes me animated and involved when I'm doing or discussing it? In other words - what really engages and excites me? This has been the question I have been messing with for quite some time. It was during a conversation with one of our workers on how to attract the right mate, that it came to me. The information I gave him was based on years of education, and lots of living. In other words, I realized that I have lots to offer in this way. I KNOW what scientists say about attraction between men and women, I KNOW what goes into attraction and what really works long term. I've been married for 28 years and still love my husband. Hopefully he feels the same way - he appears to. But most of all, it came easily. And that, my friend, is when you know it is what you were meant to do in this world. It flowed. And that is what I should have realized long ago. I am going to write a book based on how people need to look at where they are in their lifespan and where their potential mate is in their lifespan.  For example; men who look for women in their 30's, when they are in their late 40's, are always shocked when the women they are dating put their children first, or change their mind and want children. But that is exactly what they are supposed to do. It is where they are in their lifespan. The man is not going to be the most important person in her life, and he is NOT SUPPOSED TO BE. But how many men do you know who are always shocked and dismayed, when push comes to shove, and their girlfriend takes her children's side over theirs? Anyway, I think I am ready to start really getting down to business. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


We are now in the final race to the December 22nd (when the kids arrive for Christmas) deadline. It is really going to be close! What is amazing to me is the lack of specialized tradesmen available in this economy. Aren't they supposed to be begging for the opportunity to finish the fireplace with stone? Oh yeah, THAT guy is available, but can't do the stone until the WOOD guy puts in the shelves, mantle, and hearth - and he is not available until next week. The TILE guy is available for the kitchen back splash, but he can't do that until the GRANITE guy puts down the granite and he can't do that for TWO WEEKS. Now, may I remind you, dear readers, it is now the third of December? We are talking three weeks until Christmas! In that time they still need to do the above, AND the hardwood floor, AND lay the carpet, AND do the finish painting, AND cut, stain and place doors and other woodwork!  In the meantime, we had to order specialized cabinets for a portion of our kitchen because of a soffett that is not quite plumb - (please Gob, come in on the December 15th truck.) Oh, and I need to be ready for Christmas between the 20th when the carpet is laid and the 22nd when they arrive. Insert nail biting here. 

I think the worse part is just sitting and waiting for these guys. I want to be doing something, but I am stuck in the bedroom. There is nothing I can do to help. Ghaaaaaaa