Saturday, July 31, 2004

School starts in two weeks!

The summer has disintegrated into mindless tv watching and vegging (under the guise of knitting) in front of the television. There is a feeble attempt to read periodically under duress and work done on the homework packets for the math tutor. But, the focus is on wondering what school supplies and clothes will be needed. An intermittent IM session breaks up the tv monotony, interspersed with an "I'm hungry. What can I eat?"
Thank goodness there is a few days ahead of being a counselor at a day camp, as we are limping into the school year. And, the fights over getting to bed early in preparation for a new routine have yet to begin. Is she in college yet?

Friday, July 30, 2004

Protein Burgers

I have enjoyed, when I choose to eat meat, the protein-style burger at In 'n Out Burger. It is wrapped in big leaves of lettuce (get the grilled onions!). But I have been delighted to find similar items elsewhere -- Carl's Jr. makes their chicken sandwiches low-carb style (wrapped in lettuce). They are wonderful, if you happen to someone that understands your order and it gets made correctly.
Today I enjoyed the turkey burger protein-style at Red Robin. It was moist and hearty; best of all they forgot to give me the side salad it was to come with and gave me seasoned fries instead. I figure I am entitled to eat a few fries if there is no bun!

Thursday, July 29, 2004

"Help is on the way!"

Slogans abound from the Democratic Convention -- now we have "help is on the way." Kerry gave a well crafted speech, with some definite action plans. I always like the personal stuff - the family interactions, what the wives are doing, celebrities, and it was all there. We were watching during what will become infamous snafu on CNN at the balloon dropping, before switching for analysis to MSNBC. Kerry directed people to the website for info (wow!) and endorsed strongly the need for stem cell research.
I look forward to the campaign ahead if it does take the high road and deals with issues, not focusing on picking apart voting records, military service, past actions. Having the Vietnam crew that served with Kerry on the stage was touching -- was it too much?  As Kerry greeted Edwards after the speech, as they shook hands, Edwards whispered into Kerry's ear, "You will be president." I hope he is right.
From now on, we will go to MSNBC as we like Chris Matthews and Brian Williams. I liked Ashley Banfield, but she seems to be gone now.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Plum  + apricot  = pluot. We have been pluot fans for several years, after discovering them at the Farmer's Market in Marin County. There are 20 varieties;  Luther Burbank was credited with the creation of the fruit in Santa Rosa, just north of Marin County. Our favorites were from one particular grower that handled each one as if they were a precious gem. They have found their way to the grocery stores, though often shoppers don't know what they are.  Flavor is best when they are firm to the touch, but, be careful as they bruise easily.  The interesting fact is that different varieties of pluots are available at different times, some in early summer, and others later in the fall.  These stone fruits are 70 percent plum and 30 percent apricot.  Yum - hooray for Luther Burbank!

"Hope is on the way!"

I stood up and cheered and clapped alone in my living room, after being glued to Sen. John Edwards speech.  He will be president someday -- he is poised, compassionate, unflappable, knowledgable, passionate and overall, amazing. A completely energizing speech! I will never forget a story I saw on CNN earlier showing him speaking, while, in the background, his two young kids were head-butting each other with cheesehead hats they were given. Truly, hope is on the way. At last.
I realized today that I had no recollection of the 2000 Democratic Convention. It was after my breast cancer surgery and during a second series of chemo treatments, and totally passed me by.  I had been working on the Bill Bradley campaign, but he withdrew from the race right before my diagnosis.  Everything else became a blur.  Now, four years later, I am getting enjoy the whole process again -- thankful and appreciative of each and every day since then.

I hate George W. Bush!

The Democratic Convention coverage just reminds me how much I hate George W. Bush. And his stupid brother who has the whole state of Florida rigged in his favor. I mean, give me a break, losing the touchscreen voting data? He and Cheney both need a long time out. Kudos to Ilana Wexler -- you are truly a representation of what we can all do!

Keystone Kops Continued

The transformer, being moved by the Keystone Kops of trucking, moved 50 whole miles Tuesday before getting stuck again. The diagram of the caravan that travels with the transformer contains a catering truck and two sleeper trucks (obviously air-conditioned!).  Now, what reason do they have to rush, with all those support services? They must really think we are all stupid as now they released their travel route (off of I-10) on backroads with a Saturday arrival date.
The entourage for the transformer is larger than that with the tour bus Don Henley had parked outside the concert. And larger than the group accompanying Madonna's daughter, Lourdes, on her first public appearance in Canada. How sad and disgusting for people that cannot afford to go somewhere to get cooled off...

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Eagles Light

The very day the Don Henley show was announced, we bought tickets. It was at a new venue that has great sound and visibility. Sadly, my husband had an out-of-town work obligation and could not attend tonight's wonderful concert. I loved it from start to finish (Don was on 1 hr. and 45 mins.) After the first song, there was something awry on stage. Turns out that, with the air conditioning blasting and the heat outside, it was giving Don chills and he was losing his voice. So he told the audience the air had to be shut off for awhile in order to get his voice back and our money's worth. We got it and his voice progressively improved during the set.

It started with "Dirty Laundry" and his other solo hits. Then he told the story of writing "Witchy Woman" in Feb., 1971. I don't know that I had heard it live before and loved it, knowing the story behind it.  He also talked alot (hoarsely, at that point) about " Sunset Grill", apologizing to vegetarians for eating hamburgers there, made with slabs of Velveeta, by the previous owner, Joe.  The current owner rebuilt the restaurant and bought an illegal gold record (Henley's, of course).  He urged people not to eat there as it is not the real thing any more.

 My daughter fell asleep after the third song, draped across her seat and my husband's empty seat. The warm-up act had the opposite effect on her.  Henley, as I told my daughter he would probably do, did a Linda Ronstadt tribute, with a Randy Newman song from the 60's, asking the crowd to accept each other's differences of opinion with a sense of humor, while visualizing Bush and Cheney doing a soft-shoe dance. Some people left -- not sure if it was to get drinks or make a statement. That was followed by his hit about forgiveness.  Ironically, I figured it was about the same time that Howard Dean was addressing the Democratic Convention.

"Boys of Summer"  and "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" got the crowd on their feet, followed by "Life in the Fast Lane" and more Eagles songs. I held my cell phone up during "Boys of Summer" so my husband could hear part of the song that he likes best. After almost 90 minutes, they left the stage. The crowd wasn't ready; they quickly came back for the first encore of "The End of the Innocence" and one other.

As they came out for the second, and final, encore, I cried. I knew that it was the last time I would be hearing "Hotel California" and "Desperado" for a while and I was sad that it was now over.  "Desperado" was dedicated to his friend, Stevie Nicks.  There was another dedication to fellow Texan Lance Armstrong.  Don never introduced his band, because people came to see him.  I recognized two people from "The Eagles" last tour; a keyboard guy that plays when Glenn Frey sings and this exceptional guitar guy my husband had noticed, playing a two-headed bass or guitar who was spotlighted frequently during the show. 

 I whispered to my daughter during the second encore that we had heard "Hotel California"  and "Desperado" live, twice, two months apart and what a gift that was for me!  She sweetly hugged me and smiled. Then, when it was over, and Don was shaking hands with everyone in the front row, they turned the air conditioning on again.  I smiled and cried all the way to the car.  Can you guess what we listened to in the car all on the way home?


Power Crunch

We are being asked to conserve power and shut off air conditioning, while (as a columnist put it today, "the Keystone Kops adventure of a trucking a giant transformer") a surplus transformer  makes its way to the rescue. The transformer went from Tacoma, WA. to Long Beach, CA. via barge and is traveling to Arizona by truck, in a caravan estimated to go 3-6 mph. In order to avoid causing traffic problems, the Keystone Kops hired to haul it went on some backroads.  So far, it has fallen off the truck, or gotten stuck on a steep, curvy road twice, stopping traffic in Victorville and Twenty-nine Palms. Why did they not take it on I-10, where every other truck in the West travels, and people are accustomed to driving around slow moving trucks.? Yesterday, the transformer traveled 1mph. from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. before another incident delayed it. Perhaps they are trying to get it here for next summer. Meanwhile, we are warm and encouraged to help elect some new members of the Corporation Commission, charged with utility oversight.

Sunday, July 25, 2004


I am an Eck fan and am celebrating his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame today.   I would have liked to attend.   My interest in Eck started after I saw him in the baggage claim at the airport, when he arrived for spring training one year. He was very handsome, in a rugged way, with long hair and I told my husband "he was cute."  Since then, the mere mention of his name sparks a string of negative comments. We saw him play in Oakland and also at spring training games in one of my very favorite stadiums in the red rocks.  I am not really knowledgeable about his stats, but more intrigued by his struggle and recovery from alcoholism.
Apparently, he was very emotional during his remarks at the Hall of Fame induction, thanking his parents for all their support. He acknowledged that his dad made a huge effort to attend the ceremonies as he is wheelchair bound on oxygen. You can only imagine how proud his dad was to see his son at that moment. 
I hope that we will be able to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame someday to see the displays about Eck  and all the other players. We saw Joe Dimaggio in line at the airport the day we flew to my husband's father's funeral, kind of cosmic as he was a legend in his era.

Democratic Convention

Hi, my name is Kathy and I am a political junkie.  I love the concept of the political conventions. I attended mock conventions in high school, but never the real thing.  Maybe someday...
I look forward to it all unfolding. Mostly, I like watching the nomination of Democratic candidates and reading all the interesting human side stories, probably found mostly in blogs this time around.
On the other hand, I will not watch the Republican Convention at all.

She's Home

Our daughter is home. After much anticipation, and scurrying about to get her new bedroom ready, she is here. Transportation logistics had us worried as she was coming home unaccompanied, but we prayed every second the plane was in the air. We missed her and she probably missed us, but is very subdued, quietly matured,  anxious to IM,  nap and regroup after three weeks of being with kids 24/7.  As I predicted, she revealed that she has a boyfriend from camp, and they just hugged.  Life passes quickly; we had a great vacation and now, we move on to face middle school and what lies ahead. Lots of unknowns, for sure, but I do know that we love her with our hearts and souls. I am so glad she had fun at camp and know she is already longing for next year.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

I Knew This Was Possible!!!!

The headline was "Plant Turns Landfill Gas Into Electricity," telling the story of how methane gas taken from a landfill in South Carolina was successfully used to power a nearby BMW manufacturing plant. This is so amazing as there is tremendous potential energy waiting to be tapped. When I was in college, majoring in "Environmental Politics", I participated in a feasibility study for use of the methane gas from the Seattle City Dump, home of the famous J. P. Patches character.  Really though,  the project never got off the ground due to the unions at the City Dump raising a stink (pun intended) about the possibility, despite the incredible logic of capturing the gas and reusing it as a source of power. That is an amazing recycling circle. I always knew it was possible and am delighted it is actually being done.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


I am in re-entry mode from an amazing 10 day vacation. Probably the best vacation is the one where you felt you were gone much longer than you really were and are totally dis-oriented upon return, which I am.  Some amazing highlights of the trip will prompt future blog postings. I will do a few at a time as I like to see what ads come to my site from my postings.
The highlights -- dinner at Morimoto's, riding surreys (no fringe) on the boardwalk, great food (seafood, soups, sticky buns) and, best of all, the ongoing joy of spending unstructured days with my husband. After 21 years, we can just flow from one event or meal to the next, and enjoy being together 24/7. 

Friday, July 09, 2004

Wild Huckleberry Pinwheels and Other Hard Candies

Yesterday I encountered "Wild Huckleberry Pinwheels", a souvenir obviously brought home from the great state of Montana (think "The Freshman"). They were extremely tasty and I plan to order some online. It led me to think about hard candies in general. My husband loves flavorful hard candies, with flavor that pops in your mouth. There were some candies in Uruguay that "exploded with flavor" in his mouth. And one time in Buenos Aires, he followed a woman on the street that was trying to lead us to a leather factory, only because she had delicious hard candies that she doled out as we walked.
We are always in search of new, yummy hard candies. Since he is a diabetic, we cannot go crazy buying large quanties, though the two large bins of varied candies in his office make me a liar. Errant hard candies always end up in my purse, so that I can present a handful of different choices when he wants one. When you only get to eat one, you really should choose something delicious. Peppermints are the old standby, but Cinnamon drops and Root Beer Barrels are always among the first chosen. If only there were hard candies made with Splenda, instead of malitol, saccharin, etc., our collection would have to expand.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Hearing Impaired and Inspired

An empowering story caught my eye - a 56 year old man starting losing his hearing three years ago. He could read lips, but people would turn away when they talked to him and treat him as if he were stupid. His wife created a blue and gold lapel pin stating "Hearing Impaired" and he would point at it. It was the first of many products they developed, in English and Spanish. All products are for sale on their web site ( They travel the country to share their innovations with other hearing impaired folks. Wayne has an adorable service dog, Snow, that helps him do things, including driving. When Wayne gets to an intersection, Snow listens and then puts his head up to Wayne's to tell him the coast is clear. This takes a few extra seconds, so people began honking. This led to another product - a "hearing impaired" decal for the back window, followed by one for the driver window in case the driver is pulled over. A fire in a hotel one night led Wayne to create a doorknob hanger to alert emergency personnel that the person inside is deaf. They have clothing patches, simple guidelines for people dealing with the deaf (don't put objects in front of your mouth, write notes if you need to, etc.)
Wayne and his wife chose to use "hearing impaired" instead of deaf as it is informative, rather than being a negative label. Together they developed these products, and their business, to keep him independent. Talking on the phone was a problem, requiring lots of special equipment. Now, with text messaging, he can communicate just like everyone else. If that doesn't make you smile, nothing else will, except the photos of Snow, a white German Shepard, in a little red vest with a hearing impaired patch sewn on.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The Rainbow Bridge

Our neighbor lost one of their dogs this week. He freaked at the fireworks, escaped, and sadly, was hit by a car on a dark street. I called to say how sorry we were for them and wanted to share the story of "The Rainbow Bridge" if they had not heard it before. Don't read on if you don't want to is the story of "The Rainbow Bridge", taken from the AKC website. It has comforted me in the past when a pet has passed on. I did discover, when searching for it today, that they sell luminaries (candles) for different breeds of dogs that you can light in their memory.

The Rainbow Bridge
Author Unknown

There is a bridge connecting heaven and earth. It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colours. Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge is a land of meadows, hill and valleys, all of it covered with lush green grass.

When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this lovely land. There is always food and water and warm spring weather. Those who are maimed are made whole once more. They play all day with each other, content and comfortable.

There is only one thing missing. They are not with the special person who loved them on Earth. So each day they run and play until the day comes when one suddenly stops playing and looks up! Then, the nose twitches! The ears are up! The eyes are staring! You have been seen, and that one suddenly runs from the group!

You take him or her in your arms and embrace. Your face is kissed again and again, and again and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet.

Then, together, you cross the Rainbow Bridge, never again to be separated.

New Housecleaning Products

The coupon section of the Sunday paper had all kinds of new housecleaning innovations (i.e., Dawn soap wipes). They are certainly more convenient when doing dishes, but I face a dilemna. Yes, there is the convenience factor. But, when it is used up, it is trash and ends up in the landfill. So, does it make it faster to wash the dish, using less hot water and saving energy, while impacting the non-recyclable trash? What about a Swiffer mop wipe? Where do those end up? Will the flushable toilet bowl cleaner end up clogging the pipes or simply wash up on the Jersey shore? I do not know how to reconcile these dilemnas.

In Honor of Moose Everywhere

Moose like to be part of the action. It's as simple as that. There is no surprise for me regarding the story "Two Moose Crash Fourth of July Parade in Utah."
I could have told you that moose love a parade and like being included in all sorts of events, big and small, happy and sad. Moosie, my stuffed Beanie Buddy moose, accompanies me to all medical appointments, procedures, uncomfortable situations and anything that may involve a needle, as well as joining us on all vacations and expeditions. She took all the pain and discomfort for me at chemotherapy, sat on me during the marking tattoos they did for radiation, and even comforted my daughter during her recent ear piercing excursion. Squeezing Moosie's paw, which happens to be just the right size, can get you through anything. So, of course, the two moose joining in on the Fourth of July were wanting to see the fireworks (my moose sure was excited). I toast moose everywhere for their love and support! And I just learned that the plural for moose is moose...

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

"Go The Distance!"

The advance email announcement to Kerry supporters online had the subject slug as "Kerry-Edwards: A New Team for a New America." I could't have said it better myself.
I am elated as I believe they can actually win and, as they said in "Field of Dreams", "Go the distance!" I will be doing my part to make sure that they do!

Airport Security

In my opinion, every day bad people try to do horrible terrorist things. I hope that today is not one of those days (though no day is good) when they are successful, after leaving my little angel to fly solo for the first time. She walked on board with the pilot and co-pilot, carrying her Starbuck's drink. She was happy and didn't even turn to wave goodbye.
Southwest personnel was helpful and pleasant; they xrayed all the bags. The security screen was efficient (they give out little plastic bags for small items and booties if you don't want to walk barefoot), but I hope the bad people chose the option of getting their shoes screened (why is it optional?). I know the machines worked as my daughter's belt set it off.
You just have to have blind faith that nothing terrible will be happening today (or really ever). Needless to say, it was an all Eagles trip home from the airport.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Reading the Newspaper

Today, we took some time and read the newspaper in bed while drinking our coffee. A few items stayed with me all day:
One was a small blurb identifying companies that buy your old, unused cellphones. You can call them, they will send a shipping box and mail you a check upon receipt. Or you can give them to a local domestic violence organization for distribution at crisis shelters. We will be doing the latter.
The other thing that stuck in my mind was Web Eyes, a plug-in software for the Internet Explorer that magnifies the type, kind of like large print books. It must be purchased and installed, but then resides on your tool bar and automatically magnfies any page you call up. Isn't that cool for an elderly person whose only contact could be via the internet or someone with limited vision? Or someone who has trouble finding their glasses alot?

Friday, July 02, 2004

Healthy Foods We Eat

We really do eat these foods -- hooray for us! A recent article stated that a variety of veggies, fruits and nuts battled it out for the top spot on a new list of the 20 most antioxidant-rich foods, ranked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The list of foods "has a relative ranking of the capacity of foods to interfere with or prevent oxidative processes and to scavenge free radicals." (or in plain English, prevent cancer!) So, after reading the list, a multiple bean salad with artichoke hearts on top, and a giant, colorful fruit salad with nuts would do the trick! And you can get all this stuff in one trip to Trader Joe's!

Their Top 20:
Small red beans (dried).
Wild blueberries.
Red Kidney beans.
Pinto beans.
Blueberries (cultivated).
Artichokes (cooked).
Red Delicious apples.
Granny Smith apples.
Sweet cherries.
Black plums.
Russet potatoes (cooked).
Black beans (dried).
Gala apples.

We also try to eat with the colors of the rainbow. For example, lutein with some of the yellow pigments found in corn; orange can be the pigments from the carotenoid family that are found in cantaloupe, butternut squash and mango; red could come from things like lycopene, found in tomatoes and watermelon. And then the darker colors -- the purples, blues, in berries.

Blog Etiquette

I wanted to add some links to my blog, but it was way too difficult to figure it out. I particularly wanted to add my husband's blog but couldn't figure it out and lost patience with the whole thing while he did it.
I am wondering about blog etiquette. If someone comes to your blog and comments, should you reciprocate and put them on as links to your blog as they both had interesting topics (music, homelessness)? And, just because I find something of interest, who would presume that anyone else would take my opinion and check it out? And if you encounter a controversial blog (DES exposure, infertility) and think it could be of interest to others, how do you label it on your site, assuming you could even figure out how to post it?

Do Blondes Have More Fun?

Since I started coloring my hair 3 years ago, I have had many different looks: reddish, brownish, too reddish and, my latest, blondish. Today, when I went to get the roots colored, I decided to keep it more blonde as it had faded. Seems like just the right look for the summer and a beach vacation.
Before chemotherapy, my hair was a funky salt and pepper. When it grew in, it was mostly white and made me look like my father. My exercise class members convinced me that my daughter would be thrilled if I colored my hair to symbolize that I was ok. And she really was...she is the greatest critic and also free with the compliments.
Yesterday, she told me that the blonde made me look younger. I look a bit like a dog I once had, but maybe looking younger, and being blonde, will reap some unexpected benefits. I can't wait to find out!

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Nao Aire Conditionado!!!

The air conditioner is a source of great tension in our house, and actually, also when we are away from home, either in the car or a hotel room. During a trip to South America 20 years ago, we argued all night when some hotels would shut off the air in the middle of the night to save money. In a three star hotel in Uruguay, we alternated with me calling the front desk saying "Nao aire conditionado, por favor!", or my husband calling "Aire conditionado, por favor!". They probably figured "crazy Americanos!"
Twenty years later we still disagree. My default temperature is 78; his is as cool as possible, with cold air blasting. Each time we pass the thermostat, we adjust it to our liking. The checkout guy at Trader Joe's keeps his at 67 and all his guests have to wrap in blankets. He contends the constant temperature is the most cost-effective. Other people lower it to 72 at night to allow them to sleep better, even if it means piling on blankets and wearing flannel pjs in the summer. At our house, we have flannel sheets, no matter what our air conditioner is set on.
When we are away from home, the temperature is only part of the problem -- as the noise is usually very loud. My new earplugs may really do the trick on masking the noise. So, maybe, if I combine them with earmuffs for the cold, I can hope for at least another 20 + years of air conditioner disagreements.

Out and About

Today I was out and about, and was struck by how much easier some errands can be done online or on the phone, without leaving your home -- i.e., banking, registration for classes, buying tickets, etc.
I have been thinking about it, and the breakdown in person vs. the online experience comes down to one thing -- customer service and training for employees on how to interact with customers. I experienced some frustrating encounters, as well as some pleasant, well-trained encounters. However, even the people who were fumbling at their assigned tasks can make up for their incompetence by being cordial. I am developing a growing list of places that I will not be returning to because I felt like I was not treated as nicely as I would have hoped. Thumbs ups to Washington Mutual Bank, Eastwind, Phoenix Theatre Company and Starbuck's. Thumbs down to Compass Bank.
Of course, that is not to say, online endeavors are without their unpleasant outcomes. I also have a list of online vendors I will no longer patronize, for reasons such as difficult ordering processes or no response from customer service. Non-functional telephone systems and mediocre customer service on the phone have also turned me away from other businesses. The good thing about doing your business online is that you don't have to avoid really bad drivers in the parking lots, who are bound and determined to put dings in your car with their doors.