Friday, November 30, 2012

The downside to the holidays.....



Any questions?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Cheer

I am hilarious, therefore I have hilarious friends. 

Every year, for the last seven, I've been invited to a particular friend's Naughty or Nice Secret Santa Party, which basically ends up being a drunken, gift stealing, free for all where we all talk at each other at the top of our lungs, at the same time.  The evening inevitably degenerates into us all very sloppily telling each other how pretty we all are and how much we love each other.

It is everything, about girlfriends, that is good and right.  It's only a week away!

This, therefore, seemed apropos:


This blog is written by a friend with whom I went to college:

She was a very funny and creative girl in college, and the years have only enhanced that.

It's worth adding to your list of reads, I think, because she is funny and honest and that's a combination I hold in very high esteem.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Changing Gears

It was a successful Thanksgiving holiday chez nous.  Not without it's drama....the oven died 30 minutes into the turkey roasting process (yes, like some horrible episode of Friends), but, with uncharacteristically minimal amounts of flipping out, the Head Chef crafted a very suitable Plan B, involving the gas grill, and dinner was on the table within an hour of it's originally scheduled time.  The sous chefs, however, had a bit of a spat over the sanctity of the dessert leftovers that resulted in this ominous signage (which seemed to do the trick).

Because it was balmy shorts weather here the day thereafter, I managed to get ALL of the Christmas decorations done (photos to follow) and now it looks like the Pier One holiday section threw up all over my house.  Fabulous.  So happy!  Bring it on Santa!!!

When I say ALL the decorations I'm probably lying.  I get everything up each year which is totally my gig, solo, because I am SUCH A CONTROL FREAK.  Of course, the kids decorate the tree, but once they lose interest and wander away, I always come back and do a "minor" readjustment just to ensure balance, and double check that none of the irreplaceable ornaments got mistakenly hung below the tail wagging line.  WOUND UP LABRADORS + CHRISTMAS TREE ORNAMENTS = SADNESS AND CRUSHING (literally) DISAPPOINTMENT for control freaks like me.  Learned this one the hard way.  In any event, my inside shtick is pretty much set (the house is not that big) but every year, once I get all the lights up, I invariably decide that I'm just not quuuuuuuiiiiiiiite there yet, and add something new to the collection.  This year it was two strands of blinky white snowflakes (about 6" round) that I strung to the bottom of my Bradford Pear tree (which STILL has leaves, hello?  clearly it hasn't gotten the Mother Nature Memo). For the record, I draw the line at anything inflatable so I do have some pretty well defined quality standards, but this whole "not quite done" thing is a problem and explains the ever expanding number of Tuppertotes I seem to need just to house the collection.  And for the record, to differentiate myself for single celled amoebas by remembering something I previously said here, I do fully acknowledge and admit that even HAVING a Chrismtas "collection" in the first place is totally and completely a first world, 1% percent, self indulgence.   While the baby Jesus might have stared in wonder, I'm pretty sure the grown up Jesus would not be so happy with me.  (I did just make a donation to the Food Bank that exceeded the amount I spent on decorations this year, just to help assuage my guilt).

Anyhoo.  There's the context of my week, more details to follow.

The real reason for writing is that my office is preparing holiday cards that we send out to colleagues (docs) here at the hospital.  I think the list is like 180.  Of course, we're not all Christian here at the hospital, so we have to default to "holiday" cards, which, in a word, according to my daughter, the Shiite Catholic (who keeps slipping copies of the catechism into my bag, my dresser, my bedside table as a not so subtle hint that she's worried that I'm going to hell, which is kind of cute, in a slightly disturbing way) is "EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD."

I did manage to find some cute ones.  One just says "Seasons Greetings" all over it.  One says "Peace on Earth" which I think is a great message, regardless of the time of year.  But then the cards start to go south...."Warm Holiday Wishes Festive New Year Celebrate the Season" yes, all on the front of the card.  I think the only thing missing there is the "Don't Drink and Drive"slogan.  Sheez.  The winner thus far, however, are the cards that have a picture of snow covered trees (outlined in glitter, natch) and the word "Peace" on the front.  So far, not so bad, but the message inside reads "May the peace of the season fall gently upon you."  Really?  I don't know about you, but I don't want anything falling on me, gently or not.  I flipped the box over.  "Hecho in CHINA for Kmart Corporation."  Sigh.

Focus on the tree.  Focus on the tree.  Focus on the tree.  (Which I got, by the way, and it looks super fun!)  Ho Ho Ho.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Be Thankful.....DAMMIT!

Nothing like the Holidays to totally zap your Holiday Spirit.  People.  Really?  I'm so irritated by the incredibly self centered, ungrateful, entitled, bullshit behavior that I have experienced in the last 24 hours that I feel the need to have a little Thanksgiving related rant.

I am truly thankful for everything I have.  I recognize, on a daily basis, my incredible good fortune.  I am healthy, my family is healthy, we have a safe, warm home, good jobs, and access to a multitude of resources.  None of this is a foregone conclusion and I know, on a cellular level, how blessed we are.

Much of the world lives like this:

This Tanzanian family looks pretty good, actually.  Clean clothes that are in good shape and everyone is wearing shoes.  This appears to be their house, and they have a goat (also looks pretty healthy) which they clearly are very proud of since it is front and center in the photo.  Kids look quite healthy.  By their own local standards, I suspect they are fairly well off and probably grateful for what they have. 

My family lives in a house too.  It's safe, and warm.  We have clean water to drink here in my town, and you know what?  It actually comes straight into my little house, so that we don't have to risk our lives walking to a well somewhere.  There is so much water that comes into my house that I can just turn the faucet on and let it all run down the sink...all day long!  We have jobs here.  Good jobs, that pay really well.  There are a lot of jobs that are inside.  I don't have to make anything or even get dirty doing anything.  I just sort of talk to people all day long, which, of course, is exhausting.  But that's okay, because I get paid a lot of money. (A lot more than Tanzanians get paid, as it turns out, as 60% of them live on $2 a day, another 20% have to make do on $1 a day.  Good grief, my daily latte costs more than that combined!!!)   I can use some of my money to buy food.  Our food is all in big stores.  It's organized, and refrigerated.  I don't have to grow or kill any of it.  I can just go in and buy it and take it home and either cook or just eat it, it is clean, and safe and delicious.  We have so much food, in fact, that we have special storage rooms in our homes, just to keep extra food.  In my town you can tell that people have lots and lots of food, and that they eat as much of it as they can.  All the time.  Sometimes though, we don't even get around to eating all that food, and sometimes we just throw it away in the trash.  A nice man comes to my door and takes my trash away, I don't have to throw it in the yard.  Which is a good thing, because there is so much of it.

In spite of the clean water and all that good food, sometimes we get sick though.  Fortunately we have a hospital in my town.  In fact we have TWO and they are both really big and super nice, and clean.  We have over 1,000 doctors working here, just in my hospital alone.  That is 200 more doctors than there are in the entire country of Tanzania.  No wonder only 64% of that country's population lives over the age of 40 (this is kind of funny, actually, as the mortality rate in my country is on a downward trend....turns out eating all that food can kill you.  If that isn't the definition of "irony" I don't know what is.  I wonder what the Tanzanias would think about THAT.)  Turns out about 40% of the people in Tanzania can't afford to pay for medical services, and that same amount couldn't even get to a doctor (if they did have the cash the doctor required up front to see them) because there is no transportation.  I have to pay cash to see my doctor, too, fifteen dollars!  But if I forget to bring it, that's okay, they'll treat me anyway and just send me a little reminder in the mail. the lady in the brand new mini van with the 99% bumper sticker, with the two kids in the back seat watching t.v. as she backed out of Whole Foods this morning with her $350 worth of looks like the joke's on you.  The amount of money you spent on that bumper sticker alone could have fed our Tanzanian family for an entire day.  Your 3 bags of groceries?  That could have fed that family for half a year.  Turns out its the Tanzanians that rightfully belong to the 99%, not you.  (Guess where that leaves you?) 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Worth the watch

I caught part of Ken Burns' documentary about the Dust Bowl on PBS last night.  Growing up here, you cover some of that stuff in history classes along the way, but certainly not in the kind of depth that you get in this documentary. The thing that struck me (and I only watched the first part) was how LONG it lasted.  You would think people would have given up and moved on a whole lot sooner than they did having to live in those kinds of conditions, but they were tough...or stubborn...or just didn't realize (which seems typical of human beings...the inability to look for solutions to a bad situation when you're right in the middle of it)...I don't know.

My father was born in Okarchee, OK in 1930.  He was a Dust Bowl baby.  He was the youngest of six kids (that I'm aware of, there may have been more, but that side of the family's history is spotty at best, and he's no longer around to quiz about it.)  After watching this, I'm amazed they survived, and I'd give anything to pick his brain about it.  His father was a share cropper, and the family eventually left Oklahoma and moved to California (hello, Grapes of Wrath) when things became untenable.  I wonder, after watching this, how bad it was before it reached the breaking point.  This picture is from a day in April, 1935 when they had the biggest and baddest of the Dust Storms.  Woody Guthrie, born and raised in Okemah, OK, who would have been 14 years old on this day, credits this horrible storm as the inspiration for his song "So Long It's Been Good to Know Yuh."  As that storm approached, he said, people were sure it was the end of the world, and they all started their goodbyes to one another.  Hard to imagine.

My uncle, a few years older than my father, met Woody at some point.  I'm not sure about the details, but they certainly would have had a few things in common. 

Probably not a great documentary for little kids, but middle school and up would be appropriate.  Ken gets fairly graphic about things like the wholesale slaughter of cattle, and jackrabbit round ups, not to mention some very sad and tragic stories about the loss of human life.

I need to watch the rest of it, and then ask my uncle a few more questions before he's no longer around either.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Thank you Lord, for F R I D A Y!

I am particularly exhausted, it just seemed to be one of those work weeks.

Good news:  Our dishwasher works again as does the toilet in my bathroom.  Not that flushing with a bucket wasn't SUPER FUN or anything, but I have to say that both of these little fix-it jobs dragged on long enough that I actually found myself a little gleeful about being able to push the buttons and handle finally.

That being said, there are some big things going on that are not so fun, like this nonsense in Gaza and Israel.  I have a new friend who is Israeli, he's here in the US for two years doing training, and the rest of his family is home, just south of Tel Aviv.  Needless to say, he is very concerned for their safety.  Because he is my friend, suddenly I, too am concerned for their safety.  "It's okay, you know" he said, patting my arm after my eyes got all big and watery when he told me that his mom had to end their phone conversation yesterday because of the air raid sirens, "I mean it's bad, and it's scary, but we grew up like this.  There's never really been a time when we (as a country) weren't worried that someone was going to try to bomb us."

How crazy is that?

Kind of puts all of my plumbing woes in perspective. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A long time ago

In (what now feels like) a galaxy far, far away.... we rented this cabin in a place called Gid Brown Hollow, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It was a very special place, and we had a really, really, good time there. 

Here are some more (and more current pics) of that area that some of you may enjoy......


I LOVE THIS TREE.  This tree makes me feel all warm, and toasty, and sweater-weather-comfy just looking at it.  I am buying this tree. 

It is bigger than it looks, at four feet, so I'm not sure exactly where I am going to put it, but I think in my front hall, so that when I come home from work (IN THE DARK) it will be sparkling at me from inside my home. 

Because we are all travelling for Christmas this year, I am fast-tracking the decorating process so that we can actually celebrate the day before we leave for the warm, sunny Caribbean.  (Totally spoiled, yes, I know.)  I'm fairly traditional when it comes to celebrating carols before Thanksgiving, no tree before December 1st, but, given the compressed nature of our schedule this year I'm moving forward with reckless abandon.

Anyhoo, I am very proud of myself, because before I clicked "PAY" I thought, hmmmmm, I wonder if there are any coupons out there.  Sure enough (than you Google) I found an online code that permitted me to purchase the tree AND have it shipped, ultimately, for less than I would have paid for it regularly.  Yay!  Now, off to buy some eggnog.  mmmmmmmmmmm

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Carpe Diem

On Wednesday this week I attended a lecture at my hospital, a nursing "grand rounds" the topic of which was Nurse/MD relationships. That topic is irrelevant to my post which is more about the speaker, a nurse, Theresa Brown, and the book she has written, called Critical Care - A New Nurse Faces Death, Life and Everything in Between.   Briefly, she was an English professor at an Ivy league university who went back to school and became a cancer nurse.  Kind of an odd career progression, which gives her a bit of a unique take on the profession.  Coupled with her obvious talent for writing, this short book reads like a series of essays, jumping around and digressing here and there, but I found that forgivable because of the engaging and honest nature in which she lays it all out.

I think everyone should read this book. (Yes, even you, my doctor friend, because while you have similar experiences of your own and will not find the topic to be new, I think you would appreciate the humor and prose at least). For the rest of us health care neophytes, however, it softly and gently brushes us up against the shocking, but unarguable, reality of what happens when you get really, really sick and have to rely on complete strangers to save your life......or to just be with you when saving your life turns out not to be in the cards.  In truth you are not unlikely to die looking into the eyes of some nurse, who you've never actually met, while your loved one is downstairs in the cafeteria grabbing a coffee or parking the car or calling your family to give them an update. 

Her experience is drawn from her first year in cancer care and I appreciated her final take away which, essentially, is "rent the jeep." You know?  When you are planning for that vacation.....and you are staring at the list of rental car choices and while the thought of driving around that tropical island in the convertible, top down, hair flying behind you, is enticing for a few seconds, you inevitably settle on the mid-size economy choice because, after all, you should save your pennies for later.......  Her point is one we all know. Later turns out to be sooner for many of us, and at that point, the memory of that day in the convertible is more valuable than the money saved.  

I live with a cancer survivor who walks around in a perpetual state of carpe diem. Life with someone like that can be very frustrating for someone like me who lives to plan and plans to live.   My bank has lots of pennies in it which I will one day apply to all the things on my life "to do" list. His bank has fewer pennies, but he's already checked off pages and pages worth of things he has already done on his list.   I know what Theresa Brown would say about my strategy.....banking on time is penny wise and pound foolish. 

Monday, November 5, 2012


Yipes!  Full frost on my car this morning.  It is a double cashmere kind of day out there.  (Sweater AND scarf....shout out to Goodwill for keeping me in cheap cashmere.  Here's a trick, folks, if you're a little feeling daunted ....just walk the length of the sweater aisle at Goodwill, and run your hand across all of the sleeves.  You can FEEL the cashmere, after a little practice.  There are some older acrylic sweaters out there, posing as cashmere, but a quick peak inside the label will confirm or deny your suspicions.  Also, make sure you check the MEN's sweaters, too.  Men wear cashmere, and, if it's an XL and you would swim in it, contemplate taking it home and washing it.  This experiment as worked well for me.  ALSO...moths seem to zero in on cashmere, so plan ahead for that!)

Anyhoo.  Kids have school off today, and my daughter came in with me to work a few hours at her part time gig here at the hospital. 

As I squeezed my little sedan into its parking space between two monster vehicles she said "Ugh!  I just can't imagine a sport that really needs THAT much utility!"  Ha ha ha.  Love her. 

Stay warm out there.  My heart goes out to everyone on the coast who has neither shelter nor electricity.  May help arrive for them soon.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thank You

Dearest Universe,

Thank you. 

I am overwhelmed with gratitude.


Thursday, November 1, 2012


The eldest of my two babies got her first college acceptance letter today.


This may explain the unemployment problem

I have a vacancy in my office.  It is an administrative position, in a fast paced, occasionally high pressured environment.  It is not, however, rocket science that we do here.  Therefore, and because it is with a major academic institution and because it is an administrative role, I felt confident that the posting would generate some positive response.

Sure enough, I have just waded through 123 applications for said position.  Great, right?  Wrong.

Of the 123, I found 5 that I was willing to interview.

I have a couple of general comments I would, therefore, like to post to the unemployed public at large that might assist them in keeping their resumes out of future circular bins:

  • Do not apply for positions that are not relevant to your experience. 
  • There is a fine line between an appropriate amount of "distinction" in terms of your resume design aesthetic and letting your 4th grader create it in power point.  
  • Spell and punctuate your address correctly.  If you abbreviate the word "drive" as "dr" in your address, or you spell any part of your name/address incorrectly, or in lower case, I am not reading any further.
  • Tense.  Tense.  Tense.  And I am not talking about how I felt after reading all these resumes, I am talking about your narrative in reference to activities you "done did".  With me? 
  • Do not list "fluctuating price of gas" as your motivation for leaving your current position and moving to mine.
  • Do not list "running errands" as one your primary job functions.  

I do have to give a shout out, however, to the applicant who made my day in telling me that they were seeking a "changeling position within my organization."