Thursday, September 30, 2004

First Debate

The first presidential debate was interesting, from Bush's scowls to Kerry's poise. I liked that the two wives were wearing pink suits that were almost identical. I think that Kerry came across as a good orator, while Bush seems to have lost focus towards the end and gone off into unscripted remarks.
I joined a group of Kerry-Edwards supporters calling voters after the debate, to see if they had watched, what their thoughts were, and most importantly, if it influenced their decision of who they would vote for. I called about 30 people, found most had watched it, and of my small sample, there were a few more Kerry voters than Bush voters. I had one rude hangup, but, notably the undecided folks were still undecided. One guy told me he wasn't voting this year as the choices were not good. What could I say? Well, I told him to keep watching the debates and maybe he would find one candidate he liked. The calls were made on campaign cell phones from a restaurant; the noise volume made it hard to hear; someone asked if I was calling from a bar.
There were several volunteers who had never done any campaign work before, and they were really brave starting with phone calls to voters of unknown variety. I admired that they came down and joined in the process -- to me the most exciting thing of all is to see people get involved and excited.
Round 2 and 3 of the debates will be interesting, as will the Edwards-Cheney debate. I hope Edwards shows his true courtroom skills and really demonstrates his style.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, which means breast cancer and all its reminders are everywhere. Tonight we are attending a Susan B. Komen event, "Lighting The Way" dinner for survivors (4 years and counting, I hope!) It will be energizing to be with other survivors, but emotionally draining at the same time. My husband is attending with me this time and he deserves to attend as he was wearing a "Superman" cape during the nine months of treatment. Only fitting that the wearer of the cape could possibly get to see the Jerry Seinfeld show in Las Vegas on December 26.
But, back to the breast cancer -- I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones, thanks to the deft hands of my surgeon, Dr. Laura Esserman. The first October I noticed Breast Cancer Awareness month was in a magazine, while waiting for my initial consultation with my fantastic Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Francine Halberg. She told me each October would be interesting, as each year I would be feeling differently than the year before. Each year, so far, I am thankful to be alive and healthy for this month. I also acknowledge that each October that I am healthy is another year that science can find answers and new treatments.
October is also my birthday, celebrated two days before my husband's birthday. Our traditional celebration is the day between. I have already started buying (and hiding) gifts for both of us!


Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. We have talked alot about bullies with my daughter, as she encountered some really mean girls, and we have an extensive bullying book collection. But I myself hate being bullied, as I am generally a very easy-going, and probably, easily manipulated, person. I tend to let people be as they are, and often get taken advantage of by those who seek their own outcomes.
A recent situation with synchronized swimming is one example; there are those in my family that bully alot in their own way. I find that my reaction is to back off, and do the opposite of what they are intending to achieve, as my way of standing up for myself. In that case, no one wins, as they don't get their way, and I get stubborn and unhappy.
The worst bullies are those that come in sheep clothing, appearing to be nice and really have their own agendas. Maybe, by being more passive, I am also a bully.
Hmmmm, food for thought.

Monday, September 27, 2004


I am feeling lethargic, getting started after the holiday respite. Aside from coffee, there are things that can get me moving -- a good exercise class with just the right music. Or some wonderful hot tea, custom blended daily for each day's needs by my husband from his vast supply of teas. A great sale on something I want, though usually just thinking about it is as good as buying it. Or an email about George Bush campaign signs going up without the required permits in our area -- that is a mere microcosm of what they are probably doing everywhere. Or planning a creative red, white and blue menu for our debate-watching (and probably foul language) party on Thursday night.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The Holidays Have Come and Gone

The Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement have concluded. The services were tiring, yet good; the most important thing is the time to think and reflect. My husband was heroic and battled hurting feet to attend the Concluding Service with me. It was especially heroic as that service is done mostly standing, in front of the open Ark. That service gives a sense of closure to the time of pausing and reflection, noting that "the sun is setting, the gates are closing"and the year is beginning.
I have a very powerful memory of the colorful, late afternoon sun coming through the spectacular stained glass windows (one for each tribe) at Temple DeHirsch Sinai in Seattle, during the Closing Services. My sister, brother and I would return to the services to find my parents after the Memorial Services. Sadly, so much has changed and my father is the one we remember at the Memorial Services now.
I hope that I have gained some insight and motivation to make this a wonderful year. I am blessed to have been here to attend yet one more Concluding Service, and to again feel the chills and tears welling up at parts of the service "as the end is nigh", when the holiday is ending. The sun comes through the stained glass windows, with various colors of light. That light is precious and, hopefully, is a gift for the year ahead.

Friday, September 24, 2004


Thanksgiving is always a challenge, with where to go and what to eat if one is allergic to turkey. But, now, with a Seinfeld special announced on TV for that night, we are set. I am glad I did not buy tickets on the Grand Canyon Railway as we planned, though it sounds so much fun that we will be doing sometime in the next year. I must begin menu planning now, with the theme being "Seinfeld" of course --eating all the foods mentioned in show. "Big Salad" comes to mind first; chicken salad on rye; lobster omlette; tuna sandwich; apple pie; some kind of duck that Poppy made; crab bisque or muligitawny soup ..... a topic for days to come, I am sure!

P.S. Add-on foods from my husband -- marble rye; chocolate babka; Snapple; mango; special peaches; olives; gum; cereal; make-your-own pizza; pastrami; huckleberry pie; eggrolls; sausage; chocolate cream pie; jujifruit candies; kreplach; kasha; wine in a box; rigatoni; muffin tops; mutton; Junior Mints, Drake's coffeecake; Pez; calzone; frozen Milky Way bars; pizza bagels; banana splits; deli meats; Entemann's cakes; wedding cake; Ovaltine; Postum; BBQ sauce; chips (double-dipped, of course!); salsa; maple syrup ....we have probably only just begun. This year, however, I will not be struggling to create a menu for Thanksgiving.

P.S.S. Don't forget paella and clams casino!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Foods of Color

Foods of color have proven to be very healthy -- blue and purple foods (like blueberries and related berries, eggplant, grapes) have many known properties. We eat a rainbow of foods at each meal when possible, including lemon, red peppers, something green (endive, olives, greens). We did this even before we knew how the various color foods added more value to our diet. I cannot bring myself to eat a lot of the orange squashes, but sweet potatoes are great for orange foods.
Cranberries have been a favorite, but we had stopped eating them as we thought they were high glycemic. Turns out that, when served unsweetened as we eat them, they are low in carbs and high in fiber and other nutrients (one half-cup has 3.6 carbs, lots of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium). It is common knowledge that they are helpful for the urinary tract, preventing infection. But they are also being studied for their role in fighting heart disease. Cranberry growers are seeking to make the berries more scarlet colored, creating darker juices, as most people consume cranberries as juice. I think that the cranberries are a perfect combination with Splenda, and will be experimenting with them in our nightly fruit compote, along with lemon, ginger, and fruit-flavored vinegars.
I had the opportunity to participate in a cranberry harvest at a bog in Long Beach, WA. The berries are very fragile, and subject to changes in weather. The farmers work very hard for small amounts of crops, as they are very seasonal and extremely price sensitive. I wonder if the news about the cranberry and its low carb status are coincidental with the fact that the season peaks between now and Thanksgiving?

I Still Hate GWB!

I still hate GWB, and am supporting Kerry/Edwards, even though I find the campaign dialog to be inconsistent. I admire Teresa Heinz Kerry, but do not think the average voter will accept tax policy rhetoric from someone personally worth $300 Million. But GWB is disgusting. We all know that he did not complete his service obligation like every other citizen, so no matter what documents surface in what files, he lied. That is the truth. And, since when does anyone think that Dan Rather does his own research and newswriting?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Iceberg Lettuce

A few years ago, a local station carried Dr. Gabe Mirkin's radio show. Sadly, he stopped doing his radio show -- it was so interesting and I learned a great deal about diet, heart disease and exercise. He is the doctor that takes care of Larry King, and he has a practice in the Washington, D.C. area. They now send out a weekly online newsletter ( It contains his facts, gives links to his radio show excerpts (also available online) and his wife, Diana's, amazing recipes. Their latest book "The Healthy Heart" is also full of facts and recipes. Today's email had the answer to the following question. I was interested, as I can get my daughter to eat iceberg lettuce, but my husband always says it has no nutritional value. I have always figured it was better than eating no lettuce, and it turns out to be true. Also a lettuce wedge with 1000 Island dressing is often a great change of pace!

Dear Dr. Mirkin: Is it true that iceberg lettuce is completely devoid of nutrition?

It's not devoid of nutrition, just a less concentrated source of nutrients that the darker green leaf lettuces, spinach and other leafy greens. Lighter colors in vegetables mean they contain more water and therefore fewer nutrients "per cubic inch." Here's a comparison of one cup of iceberg lettuce to romaine lettuce: The iceberg lettuce contains 11mg calcium, 11mg phosphorous, .3mg iron, 88mg potassium, 19RE vitamin A, and 2mg vitamin C; while the romaine lettuce has 20mg calcium, 25mg phosphorous, .6mg iron, 162mg potassium, 146RE vitamin A, and 13mg vitamin C. Both have 7 calories, 1g protein, 1g carbohydrate, 1g fiber. So iceberg lettuce is a perfectly good food, but darker lettuces are even better.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Eagles (This time I mean the kind that fly)

Eagles winter in Arizona (who wouldn't?) and hatch their eaglets. The local neighborhood paper always has info on rescued eaglets, and their progress. There are a few families of eagles that live in the wash and desert around our house. The other day I actually had to swerve out off the road to avoid hitting a large eagle (it was balding, had yellow claws!) that misjudged its takeoff distance before I drove by. There is talk about taking the eagle off the endangered species list --one of the articles stated that there is only a 40% survival rate, due to a variety of situations, one of which was running into cars. I felt sad about that as, close up, it was magnificent and huge. Some of the eaglets raised in captivity are tracked with transmitters upon release, and often show up in Minnesota and other rather distant places for the sumer. They really are remarkable to see in flight. I would vote for keeping them on the endangered list so crazy people don't start doing things like hunting or stuffing them, and depeleting the population for future generations to behold.

Clipping Coupons

Every Sunday my husband gleefully grabs the coupon inserts and religiously cuts them. He loves this routine. I love using the coupons, as I get a thrill as the coupon totals mount up (not to mention when they are doubled or, dare I say, triple coupons.) I feel naked when I shop without them or forget to bring along stacks of recycled paper bags which have been known to knock over an occasional store wine display. But,the real reason he clips coupons is the fact that he is watching for new products or trends. He always previews them in search of something new, or different, and considers how the products will impact the life of consumers.
He has spotted so many trends over time -- tea, flavored bottled waters, flavored vinegars and others I cannot even remember. He delights in the coupon cutting experience, and when he is away, I stack up the inserts for him to do when he returns. Usually, it is one of the first tasks he will undertake. How nice that something so simple can give someone so much pleasure!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

SportsCenter in Kuwait

The other night we watched SportsCenter from Kuwait, where they were doing a portion of the show from a U.S base. There were soldiers in the background cheering, as well as interviews about how they watch sports to feel connected to those folks at home watching the same game. There were stories about the football and basketball games played on the base, including some play-by-play action. It provided a glimpse into the days and nights of those stationed over there, giving me a closeup of a life that is impossible to even imagine. Needless to say, those brave folks and their families were in my Rosh Hashanah prayers today.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I've Got A New Attitude!!!

"Scare Wear" is being advertised for Halloween, obviously this year's term for Halloween costumes. This year, unlike previous years, I have a new attitude towards Halloween. The energy and effort that people put into their elaborate decorations, inside and out, and towards planning and executing their costumes is to be commended. It is a creative use of energy and, even though it is a Pagan holiday, represents an effort to do something positive and will make people smile. What a great excuse to have a party for your friends!
I will probably still not like opening the door on Halloween night, but will try to acknowledge all the cute costumes that make their way to our house. I will encourage my daughter to bring home all the "Good 'N Plenty" and "Three Musketeers" bars that she can. Imagine, that today, which is only September 15th, the first Christmas catalog arrived from L.L. Bean. The same thing goes for those holiday decorations as well -- the creativity is unlimited, though I cannot help but think about the power consumption created by holiday lights and those new animated decorations.

The End And The New Beginning

The year is ending, as symbolized by my last cactus flower of the year closing up. I am thankful for everything this past year, and am hopeful for the year ahead, beginning at sundown tonight. I pray for our health and well-being and the hope that the goodness in people will prevail over the bad. I wish for many more cactus flowers, baby quail, and heirloom tomatoes.
I hope that my daughter continues to grow into a kind, caring person that can make her way in this unpredictable world. As I attend a seminar "College 101" this morning, thinking ahead for her, I also hope that I will be here to guide her through those years. At this point, the decision is out of my hands, and will be written by a higher power.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

"It's A Jungle Out There"

The backyard is so busy, with all kinds of activity. Last night's single cactus flower is closing up forever. There are birds of all sorts coming and enjoying the scraps of angel food cake and sourdough rolls. Cactus wren are perched on the cactus, poking at the ripe, red, cactus fruits. Hummingbirds, and the occasional butterfly, are hovering over the shrubs covered with yellow flowers. Woodpeckers come and tap on the side of the house. A sole dragonfly circles overhead. Lizards scamper across the gravel. Lots going on out there...just the way I like it in my little world.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Butterflies Are Back!

In the past few days, I have noticed that the butterflies have returned. There are Monarch butterflies fluttering over the yellow blossoms in the yard, the same ones that the hummingbirds love. Some kind of big, bright yellow butterfly is also passing through. They are all on their annual fall migration to the mountains of Mexico, where the Monarchs gather to winter each year. They pass through our area on the way. It appears our butterfly population will peak between Sept. 24- Oct. 11 as we are at Latitude 33. The butterflies instinctively reach their wintering grounds, making the trip only once. In the spring, they return from Mexico, and this year's southbound butterfly's great-grandchildren make the fall migration next year. So if I do the math right, they live about 3-4 months.
They are beautiful, graceful and have been symbolic throughout history. They have been used to represent freedom, increased environmental consciousness, the after life...I even saw a butterfly rancher offer to release butterflies (safely and appropriately) as part of a wedding or B'nai Mitzvah ceremony. I look forward to enjoying the many butterflies that will pass through our yard in the next month, and wish them a safe journey as they go along their way.

Sports Parenting

Soccer moms is the generic phrase for mothers that support their kids in sports. This usually conjures up the image of a mini-van, from which the mom takes the kids, the gear, snacks, friends, neighbors, chairs, coolers, etc. to and from soccer games, smiling all the way.
Really, it is actually the fine art of "sports parenting", which includes encouraging and supporting the athlete emotionally and financially, to actually just driving them places. There appears to be a fine line of positive reinforcement vs. expecting too much from your athlete, ultimately using the carrot of money invested and/or wasted. You want your child to feel good about themselves from a positive sports experience, but at what cost to the family in opportunity cost -- missing meals, fast food on-the-go, interesting meetings or classes forsaken, feeding a carload of kids that don't say thank you, buying gas and sitting in traffic jams or just waiting in pick up or dropoff lines. This does not include buying those portable foldup chairs, or sitting in the hot sun or rain to watch their events.
All the evidence indicates that these activities reward your child many times over, with their self esteem and body image enhanced, and maybe, for a few, a college scholarship, the Olympics or a lifelong fitness activity. Does all that make the late nights or early mornings worth it? I try to convince myself that it does, as my daughter has finally found a sport she wants to continue. In the end, our love for her, and her well-being, are more important than anything else I could be doing (even sleep!). I cannot make an excuse, however, for the parental politics involved in running the team and favoritism displayed by the coaches.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Barry Bonds

We cheered Barry Bonds as he tried to break the home run record on Saturday. There were many Giants fans in the audience, and even the Diamondback fans that started out booing him, ended up booing the Diamondbacks for not pitching to him. As if they were going to win the game. I mean, really, let him hit the balls, break the record and then focus on breaking the records for most losses. Or becoming the team with the crowd with the most tattoos, most bellyrings, most boorish fans (one guy got pulled out by Security for bad language, and proceeded to buy beer for the whole section afterwards.) Even a few of the players' wives benefitted from his generosity. Where else would a player's wife wear a tank top with "Nice Rack" on it? (not in reference to my favorite shopping destination)

Apples And Honey

Apples and honey are a symbolic part of the Rosh Hashanah meal. The honey represents the wish for sweetness in the coming year. The apple is round, and therefore, a symbol of continuity. It is part of the recognition of the cycle of the year, continuous, yet starting over anew. I would have thought it was because it was a fall fruit. The use of a round challah on the holiday also acknowledges the continuity, with each year starting fresh and clean. As I get older, the holidays sure come round and round faster. You wonder where you will be inscribed for the coming year, life, death, rich, poor, grounded, wandering.
Speaking of wandering, it is fitting that this time of year celebrates the arrival of the first Jewish immigrants, leaving persecution in Brazil. "They were only "23 souls, big and small," exhausted after surviving storms and pirates on the high seas." It has been a long time since they arrived in 1654. But the continuity and hope of the new year, with the opportunity to start over, have
continued all these many years, as started by our ancestors preceding us.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Holiday Dinner

Creating the menu for Rosh Hashanah dinner has always presented a challenge, balancing food allergies with dietary preferences. We start with vegetable broth and matzo balls, but it gets difficult from there. I usually eat chicken, prepared by my husband in a festive way, with dried fruit and wide-ranging flavors. For my husband, I usually make a meat dish, often lamb in a Middle-Eastern style with spicy overtones. Our daughter does not either one of the entrees. This year, we are thinking of having a fish entree for the holiday, but we are nearing the end of the season for fresh halibut. The dinner is an important kickoff for the holiday, though food is clearly not the focus of the upcoming observances.
As the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur approach, you spend time reflecting on your life, the people around you and all that you have and could have done to make the world a better place. I, for one, always look foward to the upcoming introspection.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Primary Election Day

Working at the polls is revealing, in that you can see, firsthand, the good and bad in people. The good is that people come out to vote and exercise their rights; the bad is that they are often rude, impatient and unpleasant to the election day workers. Who are you going to get to work a long day, for little pay, mid-week? So, they are elderly, disabled, confused, or all of the above, but they are also well-meaning and showing their patriotism.
I admired the parents that brought their kids to show them how the process works. They all earned stickers at our polling place. Some of the local Republican races hired pushy people to harrass voters outside the 75 ft. limit, and they had to be told to stop their aggressive tactics after several voter complaints. I was not sad to see today that those candidates lost.
For the people that are registered and don't vote, shame on you. With early ballots so readily available, no one even has to be inconvenienced to vote. And, for those who are not even registered, you are a disgrace and should be ashamed to be an American.
One highlight of the day, for me, was the fact that many couples come to vote together. No matter the age of the couple, they came together to vote. That was so sweet. Since I could not vote with my husband, as we have always done, he brought in both our early-vote ballots and a big cup of hot tea.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Labor Day

Today is Labor Day, and I don't really know the exact reason for the holiday, except to recognize the laborers. Many laborers were working, as the newspaper inserts make it into a big shopping weekend. The yard workers in our area were working. Most of them probably are not even aware of the holiday, as when they don't work, they are not paid. I worked since I always teach on Mondays and the health club I work at is open on Monday holidays. It makes the day really uneven and not very holiday-like. And grocery stores are busy, promoting Labor Day barbeques.
Really, this is what I think the day is about:
1. it officially signifies the end of summer, and in most areas, the beginning of school, and
2. it is definitely the last day you can properly wear white shoes. I am of the age that I remember that white shoes and purses can only be worn between Memorial Day and Labor Day. And I think of it every time I see someone wearing white shoes any other time of the year (except weddings, of course.)

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Many moe to come

Yesterday was our 21st anniversary, and the beautiful roses my husband sent had a card with a wonderful sentiment and typo we will enjoy for years -- "many moe to come." We had a day doing what we like to do, wandering stores, reading menus, napping, eating and doing a bizarre outing to the Wiener Nationals (wiener dog races). In past years, we did wine and pickled vegetable tours, in Eastern Washington, Sonoma and Napa Valleys, and sometimes just wine stores. As we don't really drink wine any more, our tour now is more pickled vegetables, vinegars, herbs and tea.
But, whatever we are looking for, we like unstructured days that flow from one activity to another, semi-planned, flexible - and annoying to others, including our daughter who did not get a good view of the hilarious wiener races or the choice of restaurants for dinner. The dachshunds didn't really race, but came out of the door and wandered about, much to the delight of the crowd. The monies went to rescued greyhounds, who are so gentle, sweet and very loving. Just the perfect blend for an anniversary celebration. We are already planning on attending next year's races.
We returned home to find a big cactus flower, in honor of our special day. This day was made more precious by wondering if, during breast cancer treatment four years ago, I would be here for the celebration. In my prayers, every day, I am thankful.

Friday, September 03, 2004

"In Your Permanent Record"

When they threaten that something you do at school will be in your permanent record, they're not kidding. There is a permanent record for each kid at school. I know this for a fact as I put on new file folder labels, while volunteering at my daughter's school yesterday. These files, of varying thickness depending on how many time you transferred schools, have it all!!!
The information is confidential, but I did look inside a few just to see what is there -- your first school registration documents with birth certificate; a chronological photo of each year; all year-end grades; particular medical or mental health documents; some art work .... and probably every bad thing you ever did. So, if you cried in gym class to avoid gymnastics, or dug your fingernails into a student on the bus, or behaved badly, lied or whatever, it really is in your file.
Yikes! So, the question is, what happens to your permanent record when you leave school? Perhaps it is given to the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, or worse than that, your parents. That could give you that infamous "first day of school" stomach ache.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Charges Dropped Against Kobe Bryant?

I think that Kobe Bryant is a disgusting indivdual, using his notoriety and huge ego to get away with a crime. How badly did they badger, harrass or threaten this poor woman who was blinded by his celebrity momentarily? He is an animal, talented or not, and I hope he has to make a huge settlement in the civil lawsuit. Hopefully, the Court of Public Opinion will punish him, if the legal system will not.