Friday, February 27, 2009

How'd that happen?

Lu, just moments before,  was heading in a straight line down the street. And then, within seconds, ended up looking like this. She thinks she's a snow shovel and runs her face along in the snow. But there's that pesky leash...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Some Last Thoughts

It's clear from some of your comments, that this is a subject people are thinking about. How about this: The mind is something that does not age. Those little old ladies you see walking with their walkers - are thinking the same way you are. At least, they are thinking the same way they always thought. The mind does not have a "little old lady" version of itself. It was the same as a child, as it is as a retiree. I don't know about you, but that came as a shock to me. As a young woman, I viewed aging as something that happened to every part of self. It is true of the brain, and all other bodily parts. But the mind stays the same.

Think about it. Do you "think" any different now then you did ten years ago? (I know you are probably wiser, and more mature, but I'm talking about the "voice" in your head - is it ten years older?)

So if the mind is an interaction of the brain and the spirit - is it our soul?  

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our Reptilian Overlord - Part 2 of 2

Many parts of the brain evolved after the "reptilian". And to keep it simple, I will just say that the "mind" is the result of the functioning of the brain. I believe that we are spiritual beings, therefore I am of the "Dualist" school of thought, i.e., the mind is the interaction of brain and spirit. 

I think of the mind as the "drama queen" of friends. You know the one. She often overreacts to information, dramatizes, and disses. She never lets go of a topic, even if it is hurtful. She talks, talks, talks, long after you wish she would just be quiet. (Especially when you are trying to go to sleep.) She can be repetitive and scary. She has some really terrifying stories to tell of what could happen to you. On the other hand, when she is feeling good about herself, she is a best friend. If you can let her know when she is out of line, she calms down, and does what you need her to do. But she's not easy to control.

So how does that relate to the "reptilian overlord"? 

When our senses detect something as dangerous, such as the loss of our retirement, or a desirable woman your husband notices, or that scary man in the alley, it sends signals to your brain that interacts with your friend, getting her all worked up. As she goes into full-on drama mode your body responds with appropriate hormonal activity. Now here is the catch, the brain doesn't know the difference between something made up, (imagined), and something that is actually happening. But that's another story. Suffice to say, when the more basic part of our brain is activated, we can respond in ways that our more reasonable parts are quite shocked at, mainly because our "dramatic" friend is egging us on. The trick is to know when she is right and you better listen, when she needs to calm down and be quiet, and when to run. 

Our Reptilian Overlord - Part 1 of 2

I have been re-immersed into the world of the mind. I studied "The Mind" many years ago, but have found so much new information, now I feel compelled to take another look. It's a fascinating subject.

Did you know most decisions have already been made about most things before the conscious part of your brain gets the message? Our, once-called reptilian brain, or ventral palladium, has already made the decision, before you have time to think about it.

Did you know that unconscious goals are often stronger than our conscious goals because we have no way of moderating stuff we are not conscious of ? Think about that. We have unconscious goals that are stronger than our conscious ones.

Did you know that we can be "primed" to react a certain way by a smell, or object? (And, no, by the way, the old story about the movie theater that flashed a subliminal message to buy popcorn and coke, never happened. The theatre operator admitted he lied to increase sales of coke and popcorn.) Nonetheless, test subjects that had a briefcase in their hands acted differently than those that didn't. They were more competitive and selfish. Could the Wall Street debacle have been different if all the bankers wore shorts and flip flops? 

All of these things have one thing in common - our most primitive part of our brains. It controls our breathing, body temperature, sexual behavior. It is instinctive and automatic. It has remained unchanged by evolution and it sits in the middle of our brains. It tells us when to flee, fight, and eat. It's motto is "might is right."

But how is it connected to our thoughts? 

Cheese & ADD

I have two major struggles going on right now. I have not finished one book I have started, and they now number four and rising, and I want cheese on everything. It is almost like I have ADD. My attention is easily diverted. It can go from thinking about one thing and then flip to another channel. As for reading, it is near impossible to read for longer than a few minutes before I find my eyes looking out the window, thinking about the exercise I should, and am not getting, or better yet, the housework that should be done today. In the meantime, everything I eat, I want cheese on it. From the breakfast omelette, with Swiss or Gruyere sauteed with tons of veggies, to a casserole that only seems complete with lots of melty cheese, to a snack of  low-fat (now that's a hoot) triscuitt and  sharp cheddar cheese (melted, of course).

I am well aware that cheese is not low-calorie, and should be used in moderation. But it is comfort food. And for most of us living in the US, we really want to be comforted. My daughters are both trying to not eat any cheese. That's probably what I should do, too. Cold turkey. But along with salt, cheese is a too big a part of my diet. If I must, it will need to be in stages. I wouldn't want dt's from cheese withdrawal.

As for the reading, I am going to put off any blogging, reading of bloggs, or mining of the newspapers until I have read at least one chapter each morning. (Ummm will have to start tomorrow as I am already blogging...) I think I will start with my book that has a spiritual bent. Let's start off on the right foot, then onto the book teaching me how the "tipping point" in society works, followed by "The Bridge of Sighs" which is a "happy to go along" book. In the evening I can read my psychological thriller. It is always best to read those when you can reach over and touch your husband. Maybe my ADD will be cured with a little discipline. Then again, maybe my ADD is just cabin fever, and the only cure for that is Spring.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Am I The Only One...

Am I the only one who doesn't care about the Oscars? The self-congratulatory and aggrandizement in Hollywood has never been remotely interesting to me. I, like most women, enjoy beautiful people in beautiful clothes. But you get plenty of opportunity to see these ensembles in magazines, news programs, tabloids, on-line aggregate blogs, etc. It never occurred to me to have a party, dress up in my finest and drink champagne while watching the Oscars. In fact, it seems kind of sad. How many Americans can actually afford the $25 for two people, plus maybe a small popcorn, drink and a movie, these days? Let alone all of the movies up for Oscars? Our Hollywood actors, along with our steroid-induced athletes really do not deserve our adulation. They give each other plenty of it themselves, along with ridiculous paychecks. Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good movie and have many actors and actresses that I really like. But not so much as to watch constant awards. How many in just the last month or so? 

No, lets start putting our enthusiasm behind those that are truly making a difference in the world. Maybe have an award for the best clean-energy idea, or for those scientists working on a cure for cancer, HIV, Hep C, Lou Gehrig's Disease. Now that's a nasty little bugger. If someone was to come up with a cure for that, I might just get dressed up, invite a few friends, cook my finest, and watch that award being made.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A New Obsession

Worrying about the economy, environment, children traveling out of the country, jobs, etc., can drive a person to drink. Since alcohol is not my thing anymore, (racing heart at this altitude), and the loss of my beloved exercise room (in storage), I needed something that was warm, comforting, and non-caloric. Enter: Tea

During a brief sweep of Willams Sonoma after the holidays, I came across a great find. A beautiful wooden box with four different loose-leaf teas. Included was a silver tea-leaf strainer. I couldn't resist. It had been marked down to the same price as a box of English Breakfast. This little box has started a new obsession, with all things tea, in our little corner of the universe. My husband and I have at least two or three cups per day. It will range from English Breakfast to Earl Grey in the afternoon to, my favorite, Darjeeling. It is said that having a hot beverage after meals (think Asian), helps keep the fats moving through the digestive track. By all means, lets keep those fats moving.

I have a little corner of my kitchen now that is our "tea station". It has Truvia sweetner for most of the time, but also La Parruche rough cut natural sugar for when I am being indulgent. Milk and small lemon rinds round off the new obsession. We just ordered a pound of English Breakfast( loose leaf) from Harney & Sons, and will experiment with Indian and Asian teas next. All in all, this new obsession is relatively inexpensive, healthful and fun. It must be my English ancestors speaking to me because it feels very comforting. For those of you hooked on good teas, perfectly brewed, I know you know what I mean.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Better put...

Thanks to Susan, a fellow blogger, for directing me to this article, which articulates exactly what I was trying to say in my last post. Thank you, David Korten, for understanding our issues perfectly. Isn't there a place for you in the Obama cabinet?

Cleaning House in the World

I came across an article today that gives me hope that maybe things are going to change after the fallout going on in the world today. Forever, really, the rich have done exactly what they want to do. They evade taxes, steal from the working man, build their gilded worlds on the backs of everyone else. Our elected government has helped them do it with a tax system so complicated they find loopholes, lobbyists that have the inside scoop because they worked for the government once (usually just before taking big-paying jobs for the companies they were supposed to be regulating), banks that hide their money from the IRS. The list goes on and on, and becomes ever-more complicated, when we hear how these so-called pillars of the community crumble as their sand castle businesses and lifestyles get swept away in the tide of their own greed and malice. Each day we hear about another one - Stanford Financial - with their offices in Antigua was the latest. Now why, exactly, are our senators and congress people, including Pelosi, McCain, and others receiving funds from some guy who has his offices and headquarters in Antigua? Why not here in the USA? What was he trying to avoid? Taxes maybe, or our laws? All the while having dinner with our lawmakers, giving them money, playing the part of a wheeler-dealer. There is no doubt, our entire system is broken. Completely and utterly broken. We will need a complete overhaul of all of our institutions and checks and balances, because each and every one let us down. Which brings me back to the story I read today in the NYT.

UBS, under extreme duress has capitulated into giving the US names of its American depositors, and will pay a $780 million-dollar fine for all the taxes they helped these Americans avoid. And while the money sounds kind of piddly in this day and age of payouts in the billions, what is really newsworthy is that it is the end of the "Swiss bank account" where money can be shielded from the prying eyes of the IRS. An end to an era that dates from the middle ages. So if we can break open that piggy bank for the rich, maybe, just maybe, we can ream out our own system of catering to those who have avarice as their only motivation. But it will take holding our elected officials responsible for everything they do. There is no better time to put the spot light on all the cockroaches, of which Washington has plenty. But we also have to take responsibility ourselves for letting our society become so out of control. We too, have to change how we see things. We need to keep our eye on companies that want to have off-shore headquarters - require our regulators to make sure they are not using off-shore laws and accounts to cheat the American people. But we need to look at things from a global and environmental perspective. The world is finite and it's people are vulnerable. No longer can we just view things through the American perspective. We should invite new world views, new perspectives, new ideas, as we redefine our system of governing. Synergy may be an over used term, but it may be a good one for right now.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

America's Inner Child

I think that the you-tube video of the woman pitching a fit (posted below) is how a lot of us feel. In our home we called it "The Elvis", and my older daughter had it down. How relaxing would it be if all of us could just pitch one! We could fall to the ground yelling and screaming and kicking our legs. We could shout at Bush and Cheney what total incompetent freaks they were, and then we could pound our fists on the ground and call all the bankers a-holes. We could head-butt, (like my 14-month-old grandson does), the regulators and the car executives that flew in their private jets to the congressional hearings. We could scream until the spittle flies at the executives at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, until they realized we mean business and that yes, that means no more $400,000 get-a-ways with taxpayer money! We could hit the SEC and the rating agencies right in the face, and kick the shins of Rummy. We could take a big stick to every person in Congress and the Senate that let all this happen right under their noses while they had their finger up them. Then we could, just maybe, relax. A good fit goes a long way, after all. (I feel better all ready.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

An Award!

I received an award! Wow, how very nice. A big thank you to California Girl. I have enjoyed her thoughtful and provocative blog for some time, especially her beautiful pictures. The idea is to send it on to eight other bloggers. The spirit of the award is as follows: 

These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbon of these prizes are cut, even more friends are propagated. Please give attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight more and include this cleverly written text in the body of your awards.

After careful thought I have decided to send this award to the following blogs because I find them in the spirit of friendship. If I were to meet any of these individuals, I feel sure we could become friends. They are smart, thoughtful, intelligent, and most of all ... interesting, and they very often teach me something that I didn't already know.

So find eight bloggers that fit the spirit of this award, include the text, copy the award itself, and send it on - Happy Valentines Day!
(I know some do not like to have awards, but I want you all to know how much I really enjoy your blogs. Even if you do not care for awards, keep writing!)

Friday, February 13, 2009


I just received a call from friends that they were happy to join us for dinner tomorrow night. That's wonderful. Wonderful, except my husband forgot to tell me he invited people for dinner. Oh well, time to drag out the cookbooks, and spiff things up a bit. We already determined they may have to spend the night if it keeps snowing. But then, that could be fun, too. Sleepover!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Where I live

One of my favorite blogs recently asked her readers to talk about where they live. The comments were so interesting. She has tons of readers, so she received tons of interesting comments. People responded from all over the world. So today I thought I would talk about what Lake Tahoe means to me. It is a special place and for those of you who have never been here, I hope that someday you are able to see what I love so much.

I grew up in Reno, Nevada, just a short 25 miles from Lake Tahoe. If you lived on one side of town, people went to Pyramid Lake for recreation. That lake is not clear, a bit salty (as it is what is left of Lake Lahotan, which was actually an ancient sea.) and does not have any trees. It also has it's own monster and other trivia I will save for another time. That lake was about 30 miles from Reno and had some great parties during high school where the tribal police (it is mostly on an Indian reservation) would just take every ones keys until morning. But if you lived on the other side of town you went to Lake Tahoe, which was about 25 miles up the Mt. Rose highway. You climb to around 8,000 ft above sea level, and then drop down into the Lake Tahoe Basin at around 6,200 ft. This lake was absolutely clear. When I was a child you could see 100 ft down. It is clear now to only about 25 feet. Unfortunate, to say the least. So even though I grew up on the Pyramid Lake side of town, I caught a ride to Lake Tahoe every chance I had growing up. I loved it.

When my husband and myself were raising our children, we lived on the Mt. Rose highway, and therefore was closer to Tahoe than Pyramid. We lived in a home without air conditioning, for most of our 16 years there. But in Reno, because it is considered high mountain desert, in contrast to desert like the Mohave, cools off as soon as the sun goes down. Reno is a mile high - same as Denver - above sea level. Air conditioning is nice, really nice, during the day, but most evenings are pleasant. So I would pack up my babies, make sandwiches, ice the capri-suns, pack the chips, toys, towels, etc. and head for the lake during the day. Now that I look back, minus your basic "motherhood exhaustion", they were magical days, and well worth the effort. 

After hauling all our chairs, plus all the above, we would get to the beach early, in order to get a good place right next to the water, and spend the morning looking out on one of the most beautiful views in the world. The sand was cold from the night before, few others on the beach, the girls with their terry robes still intact, staying close. It would have been around 10:00 a.m., the sun behind us, the beach shaded. Cool before the heat and sun of the day. The water is cold and lapping lightly on the clean sand. (When you come home from a day at Tahoe, you don't really need to immediately shower - the water is clean and so is the sand.) The mountains encircle the lake with a forest, old and lush. Tall ponderosa pines fight for space with granite, pure grey granite. (Which is why the sand is so clean.)

As the morning progressed, the beach would fill up. People from all over the world would visit our little beach. Foreign languages mixing with mothers, fathers, grandparents, children, babies, all soaking in the sun high in the mountains. Soon the sun would be overhead, time to re-do noses and shoulders with sunscreen, a time for the "hat fight". 
Most mothers remember the hat fights. You put it on, they take it off, you remind them to put it back on, they misplace it.. 
At this altitude the air is thin, sunburn can be had in a very short period of time. Bad, bad sunburns. (I remember blisters growing up -  during pre sunscreen days.) I was insistent and annoying with the sunscreen.

Late mid-day the little cove would fill up with people playing in the icy-cold lake. The surface water warms up a few degrees in the hot sun, making the water tolerable, just barely. But it is heaven, once you make that first unpleasant plunge, and get used to the water, to swim in perfectly clean water. You open your eyes and you can see while you swim, and the water does not sting, or obliterate the view. You can see crawdads between the rocks, and tiny schools of fish, but never have to worry about sharks. (A biggie for me.) You swim from boulder to boulder, each one determining how far out of the water you could stand, with it's size. Some days you could stay in the water most of the day, some cooler days, only a few swims. Lunch was usually consumed hungrily, after all the swimming and play. Drinks are very important at high altitude. I always had plenty of drinks, with one to save for the ride home. Dehydration is not good.

Late afternoon, and the sun is in front of you. If you wait until sunset, it is stunning. But with small children it was time to pack up. Break up fights. Insist the youngest carry something, keeping your eye on them while you pack the taurus station wagon - to the hilt - I might add. Really, why, does going to the beach require so much stuff??
Get everyone in the car, pass out the drinks, head down the mountain. By now it is probably around 4:30 p.m., Dad will be home soon, dinner to start. It is a stunning view of the valley floor that I never get tired of, no matter how many times I drive it. When people are impatient with other drivers that are going too slow down the winding, two lane highway, I always think they should just look up. Look up and see, really see, where they are! Can't they see how beautiful their surroundings are? Why are they in such a hurry? Where do they have to be that is better than this?

Home is hot, even with the house closed all day. Need to just get through it until the sun goes down. I head up to the shower with a cold beer. I deserve that beer! Let's see, what are we grilling tonight?

Next time I will tell the story about how we ended up living up here. But, please, leave me your stories, too. I would love to hear something about where you live, and how you feel about it. Even those of you that I know. Do we ever really think about the small, wonderful things about where we live? Or do we just not see it anymore?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

People are acting strangely...Part II

Okay, so yesterday, during the full moon, I had two rather strange encounters. One, was the hair salon receptionist who thought she needed more information about why I was canceling my appointment than I was willing to give her. The other was a Macy's furniture saleswoman who, on first pass seemed obtuse. But after giving it further thought, maybe was just not very with-it. Or maybe it was me being obtuse. You decide.

I called to see if the price for a pub-height table, bookcase that rolls under one end of it, and four stools were actually the price given in the flyer. It was quite the bargain, marked down from $999 to $399, and was exactly what my daughter needed for her kitchen. The lady was very nice, said yes she could see the one I was talking about in her flyer, and said she was shocked at the price. She said there was an additional $25 charge to get the furniture from the warehouse in California to the Reno store. I asked her what was the charge to get it delivered and she said it was $80 for the first piece and $20 for each additional piece. At that point, thinking I was being helpful, I said many people are actually starting to order directly from on-line vendors, as most companies now seemed to not have much in stock, and require a wait while the item was ordered. I said why pay two fees to get something that can be shipped directly to you without paying the middle-man. She said there was only ONE fee - the $25. I said there was two fees - the $25 to get it to Reno, and the fee for delivery. She got angry, said she tried to help me and there was only one fee. So I asked if the item could be sent directly to me for the $25 fee. She said no, it needed to go to the store and then I could either pick it up or have it delivered for the $180, etc. So, trying to understand, I asked if this was the same in Portland, OR, where my daughter lived, and she said she had no idea. 

Now, if I order something on-line and have it sent to my home, I pay shipping. For furniture this could be high, so I don't really think I would ever order furniture on-line. Not to mention a truck and movers to get it to my home. But my point was that many stores are now only showrooms. You actually pay more for an item when they add all the additional charges to get the items to their stores. You are paying a middle man. This is pushing more people to go on-line instead of to their local retailers. I was trying to help her understand why some people are not shopping locally anymore. She saw it as an attack. She did not see the charges to get something to one's home as a charge. She never did say what she thought it was, only that it was not a charge - only the $25 was a charge. She could not see the big picture - what the total amount would be to a customer to get a piece of furniture to their home. (I might add that we recently bought a big item from RC Willey, who also had to get the item from their warehouse elsewhere. They did not charge an additional fee for this, and they only charged $45 for delivery, and that charge was good for the entire year if we bought more furniture from them. Good customer service. They told me what it would cost to get the item to my house, didn't charge extras, and understood that most people cannot get these big pieces of furniture into their CARS.)

So you tell me - was I just being dumb in thinking she would want to know why people might be going elsewhere, thinking she could pass this on at her next sales meeting? I know when I ran my wellness programs, I always wanted feedback from my nurses. That was the only way I could compete. Or was she just not thinking in a big-picture sort of way - like from the consumers point of view? Anyway, daughter passed on the item, and I just came away from the experience feeling weird. I was not trying to be difficult - honest!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

People are acting strangely...

I don't know if it is just me - but people seem to be acting strangely today. First off, I woke up not feeling very well, so I called my hair salon and canceled my appointment for the afternoon. I know the hairdresser does not come in to the salon until after noon, so I felt my 10:00 a.m. call could save her some time. The receptionist was very nice, asking if I would like to reschedule. I said yes, but probably later in the month, and I would call. Then, she asked me if I minded answering why I was canceling.
Since when do you need to provide the REASON when you cancel a hair appointment? I would never cancel just for the heck of it. I do understand that their time is money. But I have never been asked that personal of a question from a receptionist of a hair salon. I know the salon is hurting. It was totally empty when I was there a couple of months ago. This once thriving enterprise with at least 20 hairdressers, full-on salon with massage, nails, facials, etc. Empty. In fact, they had called and offered me a special just last week. Free haircut with color, for this month only. 
I know the hairdresser is going through difficult times. A recent long-term relationship with a man ended, a move from California to Nevada, (away from children and grandchildren), etc., etc. She was trying to re-build a new clientele and life. The haircut - not so good. But everyone can have an off day, right? We'll give her another chance. We scheduled, taking advantage of the special. 
So the cancellation was not taking a spot that could not now be filled by a waiting list of clientele. Why did they need to know why I was canceling? I had already said I would reschedule,  so it was obvious that I was coming back. Anyway, I answered with "personal reasons" and left it at that. Maybe I should have given detail; like my stomach is churning, eyes burning, and I ache all over. I wonder if she would have wanted to hear the details after all. Or maybe she would have said too much sharing!

The second incident involved a Macy's furniture saleswoman. But I'll save that for tomorrow. Enough, for one day.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad

I made the most wonderful dinner tonight. And the whole dinner was tomatoes. And, I am ashamed to say, I ate the whole thing! First off, I have to tell you my favorite chef is Ina Garten, of Barefoot Contessa fame. If you have never watched her on the Food Channel, you are missing out. She reminds me of, well, ME. Some people imitate Angelina Jolie (unnamed mother of 14), but I emulate Ina Garten. She has the perfect kitchen. Not too big, not too small. Her stove has double ovens, and every quality ingredient is within a few steps. She has the most exquisite garden, and only uses fresh herbs, which she grows herself. I have most of her cookbooks, but they are in storage in Minnesota. (Many of the recipes have too much fat for everyday use, but are wonderful for entertaining or special occasions.) So the other day, at the bookstore, I decided to treat myself to her latest cookbook. (After all I am cooking at home more, right?) I think it just might be her best, because all the ingredients are simple. They seem to be healthier, too

Anyway, on to tonight's dinner. It was nothing more than 12 roasted plum tomatoes (I did six) with  1/4 C olive oil, 1 1/2 Tb balsamic vinegar,  2 garlic cloves - minced, 2 t sugar, kosher salt, fresh black pepper. Cut the tomatoes in half, drizzle with the olive oil mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake @275 for two hours. Bring to room temperature. You can then put them with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and have a caprese salad. Orrrr do as I did and just put the tomatoes with french bread and call it good. It was just wonderful. My husband, happy to have "Every Man For Himself Night" chose a hot dog sandwich over my roasted tomatoes. His bad.

I should have taken a picture of them before they were devoured, but I had no idea they would be so good that I would want to blog about them. I am trying new recipes, building myself up to a party. Yep, I think it is time - no excuses - we are near enough to lots of friends to invite, the remodel is finished (well mostly), and it's time to chase the winter blues. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Something really dumb...

I did something really dumb the other day, and it has been haunting me.

We have decided to use all the small merchants in our local area, as much as possible. We know they are all hurting. Lake Tahoe has more than enough tourists, but this winter has not seen much snow, thus fewer skiers, a mainstay for merchants. Not to mention the economy. We all know what is going on with that, and how it is affecting everyone but WalMart. Anyway. We headed out the other day to run some errands, and as usual, I didn't have lunch before I left. Let's just say I am having a hard time with schedules. So we stopped at a little bakery we have passed many times to grab a sandwich for me and a cup of coffee for my husband. The bakery was empty but the shelves were fairly well stocked. I ordered my sandwich, took a cup of coffee to my husband, and then did a dumb thing. Or was it? You decide.

I noticed whole wheat bran muffins and thought that sounded healthy - I should grab a couple for the next morning's breakfast. Then all hell broke loose, and I ordered six of the bran, six of the fruit, and SIX of some other kind of muffin. What was I thinking? EIGHTEEN MUFFINS? Need I remind you that it is just my husband and myself? He is diabetic, and of course, does not eat sugar. These muffins obviously had sugar! What had come over me??

As the nice man was counting them out and bagging them, and I am furiously trying to figure out why I needed this many muffins, I noticed he did not take ATM cards. So I dug for cash, found a twenty and a five, some ones. Surely this will cover it. 

Ummmm no! The bill for these muffins and the sandwich was $53! Embarrassed, I asked if he was sure he couldn't take an ATM and he said, sorry, no, but I could write a personal check. Who in this age takes a personal check over an ATM card? He also said if I lived nearby, I could pay for the rest the next time I came in. Now, how nice was that? Of course, I would never do that. I ran out for the second time, got more cash from my befuddled husband, and ran back in to pay for them. 

My question to you ... why in the world did I pay $53 for a bunch of muffins we won't eat?? Why didn't I just say that was more than I expected to pay, and have him put them back? Because that was exactly what I was thinking. Was it my ego? Or was it something else? I don't believe in coincidences. Could it have been possible that we stopped right at the moment in time, at that particular place, for a reason? Did that $53 make a difference to that man, right then? Or am I just being silly. Looking for a cosmic reason for a really dumb thing? You decide.

P.S. I thought the "Thought For The Day" still applied.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My New Favorite Thing

No after taste!  Zero calories. Yum.

Reality Check

One of my favorite blogs is EconoWhiner. It is the blog that allows me to whine about the state of our economy without constantly blogging about it here. It is an outlet for angst, if you will. Which brings me to a blog today from a young woman, wife, mother, who recently went through a layoff scare. This scare ended well. Her husband found another job, with a promotion, and all is well. It was as I read her rendition of the chain of events, and their view of it, that lead me to make an observation regarding our children's generation. 

We spent our adult lives making sure their lives always had a happy ending, if we could. Our children have never seen anything like what we are dealing with right now in our world economy. Nor have we, for that matter. But we have been through downturns that were scary. I remember my father not being able to find a job, at different times, in the sixties and seventies and on into the eighties. He worked construction, and it had more than it share of downturns. In fact, many blue-collar jobs are the first to feel the pain. I remember looking for jobs in my early twenties and not being able to land one that paid enough to live. I remember eating only veggies - not because it was cool, or part of my world view, but because it was all I could afford. And I never felt deprived - all my friends were in the same boat. When my husband and I married, we had many many years of living paycheck to paycheck. But we always shielded our children from worry. We made sure their lives were not affected by personal and professional downturns. 

Which brings me back to the Econo-Whiner story. I felt in reading it, that the person writing it saw a happy-ever-after ending. She had cut back spending, acknowledged all the things she already had. Determined to enjoy her time with her husband as he was unemployed, sure it was just a short-term problem. Her husband landed a new job - with a promotion - end of story! They broke out the champagne. But, here's the grab. Her husband is in marketing, which is directly related to buying. America, and the world, is not buying. So yes, he has a job for now, but what about in another six months? Do they really think this thing is over? The Happy-Ever-After syndrome? I think we have raised a generation that is not prepared for long-term struggle and difficulty. We were raised by parents that knew scarcity. They didn't spoil us as much as we have spoiled our children. They certainly would never go into debt to do it, as we have. So what is my point? 

We failed in not preparing our next generation for deprivation. 

Deprivation is not all bad. Economizing is good for the soul. And not every ending is happy. Such is life. But it goes on, even without all the extras. We find joy in the little things, and we appreciate the things we are able to buy even more. I remember lamenting the hand-to-mouth upbringing I had to my father one time, and he responded by saying - "we always ate good, didn't we?" Now I understand what he meant. He didn't always eat well. He was on his own at 13, struggling to make a living in the 1930's. He made sure his children always had enough of the two essential things we needed for survival - food and shelter. And now we need to make sure our children understand the things that are necessary for survival. Food, shelter, and the understanding that life is hard at times. It does not always have the happy-ever-after ending. But it is wonderful, anyway. It is full of joy that has absolutely nothing to do with houses, cars, status, or money. Once the essentials are met - the rest is gravy. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mea Culpa

My very hip daughter said I was way off with the Railroad Earth song. I guess it may have morphed into Long Way To Go, and "Todd's" OLD band was called All Good. So I have no idea what that song's name is at the moment, or why that festival was named after his old band (their festival?) - just that my grandson loves it. It calms him right down. I like it too. After reading all the bad stuff in the news lately, it calms his grandma right down too...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

ALL GOOD 2008 -

Long Way Home - My grandson's favorite song by his favorite band. This was a festival his aunt would love to have attended, as she hits any they play on the West Coast - could that have anything to do with his liking the band, do you think? She is a Railroad groupie, of sorts. Including taking her parents to see them at the Crystal Club in Tahoe in April. We're looking forward to it! Maybe we'll become groupies, too. (It does tend to bring back some pretty great memories - these guys would have fit right into the 60's.)