Dec 28, 2009

Magenta isn't a color.

I'm in Florida right now. My sister's family and mine (minus my daughter and son-in-law) are here for a week of golf, snorkeling and lounging on beach blankets. It's always a nice break to get away from the gray skies of Michigan in the dead of winter.

Our families travel together a lot. A few years ago we did a two week driving trip out west. Chicago --- Mount Rushmore ---- Yellowstone ----- Mt. Zion ----- Bryce Canyon ----- Vegas ----- Grand Canyon. It was the best trip of my life. Amazing sights are even better when seen with so many people you care about.

We have a few tried and true family traditions when we travel. We usually have a puzzle to work on while we sit around in the evening. The kids blaze through the assembly, never leaving any of the fun for us.

The one thing we do no matter where we travel is play the color game. Every person gets assigned a color, red, blue, orange, etc. The object of the game is to not say your color out loud. Once you do, you're out.  The last person standing wins. 
Elaborate schemes and plots are devised to get people to say their color. Even funnier is when somebody says their color with no prompting from anybody else. It's hard to constantly keep your guard up. Color words are more prevalent in day to day converstaion than you realize. You use them to describe things, to draw people's attention to something, they are used in figures of speech and idioms. The game can last for days. Even after you get knocked out you still try to get other people out.

We have developed some rules along the way. We used to let people pick their own colors we learned quickly that silver, gold, magenta and lilac are not uttered in common speech very often. Now we use only basic colors and we put them all in a hat. One thing that is heavily debated is whether you are out if you say your color and nobody in the game calls you on it, either because nobody was around or they didn't notice.

My color this time is red. I have to be careful to not say anything about red skin from sunburns, or traffic lights turning red or to say that I am red faced with embarrassment. My son already has made a few stabs at getting me to say red. Ruthless, this family is ruthless I tell you.

Dec 22, 2009

You're all so sweet.

I made Christmas cookies. I usually do. I have a few standards that make an appearance every year. Nutty Nougats, which are like Russian Teacakes, only nuttier.  I usually make some form of peanut butter cookie. Lately it’s been PB Blossoms, with a nice big Hershey’s kiss stuck in the middle. I usually add two new cookies every year. Four is my limit though. A woman can only bake so much you know.

This year my new additions are Ginger Cookies (a classic) and Peppermint Meltaways. I chose the Peppermint cookies because they look so pretty in the picture. Buttery little button cookies with pretty pink icing and candy cane sprinkles. I decided to bake these last as my pièce de résistance.

First up, the standards which met with the usual approval….. “Mmm, these are my favorites.”……. “Now it feels like Christmas.” Then I made the ginger cookies, they were a big hit, chewy and spicy.

Time for the Peppermint Meltaways. What’s in these? Flour, butter, powdered sugar, peppermint extract, corn starch…. Corn Starch?? Really? OK, I won’t question it. The cookies came out of the oven golden brown and smelling good. Time for the butter frosting, tinged with peppermint and colored a festive red. Get out the icing bag and decorator tips and top the whole thing off with some crushed candy canes.

They’re beautiful. Let’s try one. Buttery cookie with sweet frosting and nice crunch from the candy canes. But something’s not right here. These don’t taste right. Cookies shouldn’t melt in your mouth. Cookies need substance, whether it’s chewy or crunchy.

It was then that it struck me that cookies are like people. You can dress them up to be all pretty and flashy but if you don’t have the basic ingredients in the right proportions, they just aren’t right. People need compassion, honesty, humility, humor, love and kindness.

So my friends and family, take it as high praise when I say that you are all like a nice, big, chewy peanut butter cookie to me. Simply divine. If you get a few of the peppermint cookies on the plate I send to you, it’s OK to not like them. They’re just there for show. Go for the good old standards, they never disappoint. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Dec 14, 2009

Christmas Wonders

Why does everything happen on fast forward these days? One minute I’m complaining about Christmas music starting too soon and the next I’m woefully behind on my Christmas shopping. I have a few gifts purchased but still need a few more, plus all the stocking stuffers. I have the most fun filling the stockings, finding that mix between practical and whimsical.

We put the tree up yesterday. It was very strange to do it without the kids there. Every year each of kids would pull their favorite ornaments from the box and hang them carefully on the tree. Somehow we always ended up talking about memories from Christmases past. This year it was just me replaying those memories in my head. The husband is a bigger fan of Thanksgiving than he is of Christmas. Tinsel was always the last step. My daughter thinks she is the best tinseller in the family. She is probably right, being so precise and particular comes in handy for tinsel. Too much is gaudy and too little is not noticeable.

Last year we bought a beautiful fake pre-lit tree. I had always been one of those holier than thou “Only a real tree will do” type person. But like so many other things, practicality begins to overtake aesthetics the older you get. (This phenomenon also explains the popularity of the comfortable, yet ridiculous looking, Snuggie.)  We have a burnt out bulb that has blacked out the lights on the mid section of the tree.  Ugghhh.  Going to have to pull out bulb by bulb til I find the culprit.

One thing that stayed the same was the dogs being underfoot while the tree is being put up. Even though it’s an annual thing, they never know what to make of all the commotion. This year was especially confusing for them since we moved the tree to a new corner of the family room.

So here I sit, wrapped up in my Snuggie, looking at my beautiful, half lit tree, adjusting to the changes in my family this Christmas and fighting the urge to buy the dogs some presents to go under the tree. If I thought they’d care the urge would be irresistible. I wonder when this will feel normal.

Dec 6, 2009

Not going to say "Told you so." Well, maybe.

I have never liked Tiger.  I hate the fist pump most, followed closely by the childish temper tantrums he throws after making a bad shot.  I admire his golfing talent but have always thought the man's character left something to be desired. 

I once sat through a speech made by Tiger's Dad at a conference dinner.  It was a rambling speech that seemed to have no other point than "I am an awesome father as evidenced by my awesome offspring and you all suck as parents so go home and focus on your kids."  I am not exaggerating.  The man was an ass.  It became crystal clear to me why Tiger is such an arrogant jerk.  I am not surprised in the slightest that he has slept around throughout his marriage.  The whole thing reminds me of Prince Charles marrying Diana to produce his offspring while he carried on with Camilla as usual. 

Even us non PR consultants know what Tiger needs to to do here.  Apologize for his indiscretions in a very public way.  Be sure to look genuinely contrite and try to get your wife to stand by your side while you are doing it.  Why hasn't he appeared in public?  Two reasons I think.  First he has to wait for the steady stream of tramps that he has slept with to die down.  What's it up to now?  Six?  Second reason,  humility is not in his nature. 

Oh and Mrs. Woods.... way to go with the golf club. 

Nov 27, 2009

Too Easy

My primary reason for purchasing the BigEasy No Oil Turkey Cooker was to free up some much needed space in my oven.  Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is challenging.  It's no easy feat to get 15 things prepared and on the table at the same time.  Figuring out how to shuffle food in and out of the oven around the turkey is an annual routine.   When I heard about this cooker thing I thought maybe I had found the answer to this problem.  The no oil thing sold me on it.  A big vat of super heated oil just seems like a disaster waiting to happen.  

My secondary reason for purchasing this cooker was to get the husband to cook the bird.  I heard about this cooker from one of the guys at work.  He went on and on about how juicy the turkey is and how he uses it to cook other things all year long.  This was a guy bragging about cooking the Holiday turkey.  Men love to cook meat so long as it's not in a kitchen.  It's a caveman thing.  I figured it was worth a shot.

I found one of these contraptions on sale, made the purchase and brought it home.  My husband was skeptical.  My sister expressed fears that this radiant heat cooking might be cancer causing.  My daughter, the vegetarian, said a turkey lives a miserable life until it is slaughtered for our Holiday meal and it doesn't really matter how we cook it since we shouldn't be eating it anyway.  (Spoil sport).

The cooker sat in the living room for 4 days.  Yesterday morning, when he couldn't put it off any longer, he cracked it open and assembled it.  There were pieces and parts strewn across the living room floor.  He grumbled a little but I know he loves that sort of thing.  When he was done the assembled cooker innards and turkey basket were placed on my kitchen counter.  He informed me that I had to oil the thing up generously to make for easier cleanup and easy removal of the turkey.  I could tell from the tone in his voice he was thinking "I done my part now you do yours."   He almost figured out my ulterior motive when I cracked a tiny smile at that.

Since I was busy preparing the other holiday dinner delectables I ignored the cooker.  "I'll just oil this thing up for you." he said after waiting for an hour or so.   I thanked him, careful to keep my back turned so the tell tale evil smile would be hidden.    I did help out when it came time to put the bird in the basket.  But that's only because I didn't want salmonella spread all over my kitchen.

As the bird was cooking he would check on it periodically.  Our family members were invited to check out the new bird cooking gizmo.   The bird was done in an amazingly short 2 1/2 hours.  I helped him (notice who the helper is) get the bird onto the plate.  It was a beautiful golden, crispy brown.  Bonus, it tasted delicious.  It was truly the moistest turkey I have ever eaten.

If I hadn't sealed the deal by then the adulation of the dinner guests was the final nail in the coffin.  I was careful to say the "The turkey was all Jim's doing."   Luckily for me he doesn't read my blog and I know I can count on my sister and daughter to not tell him how he was played.  Next year, I predict he will be itching to get at that bird.  That was too easy.

Nov 19, 2009

The Good Old Days (puff) (puff)

MSN has informed me that today is the “Great American Smokeout”. I would argue that the “real” Great American Smokeout is at my father’s house every other Saturday when he and his cronies get together to play poker. It’s loads of fun to play poker with them but if you’re bothered by second hand smoke you should steer clear. A two block radius would be best.

It used to be worse. A few years ago six of the seven regular players smoked. These days it’s down to three out of seven. My husband and I are two of the ex-smokers. We both quit a little over two years ago.

The Great American Smokeout doesn’t make me want to extol the virtues of being a non-smoker. It just reminds me how much I miss smoking. I loved smoking. Nothing compares to the first drag off of a cigarette. Light it up, inhale deeply and exhale the smoke along with a satisfied sigh. It was like a reward. (Yes, I know it was that insidious little drug nicotine that made it so nice, but there’s no arguing that it WAS nice, drug induced or not.) It also kept me 20 pounds lighter than I currently am, with no effort on my part. I’m all about effortless.  (I'd love to lay the other 20 additional pounds at the doorstep of my quitting but that just wouldn't be fair since I had those before I quit.)

I know some of you are thinking to yourselves... If you loved it so much why’d you quit? The biggest reason was the constant grief I got from my children. I didn’t like looking weak in their eyes. I also hated feeling like a rat looking for a hole to crawl into every time I tried to light up in public. It was an expensive habit and was getting more expensive every year. I had a bad smoker’s cough that I wasn’t able to get rid of. Friends and family said they could find me in a crowd just by listening for my cough. Combine all these things with watching my mother-in-law die from emphysema and it was enough to make me quit.

The thing that keeps me from starting again is not wanting to go through the battle of quitting again. I quit once before back in the 90’s. Then I got a new stressful job so I started smoking one or two a cigarettes a day just to calm down at the end of the day. In no time at all I was back to a pack a day. Then it took me eleven years to quit again.

For now I am content to be a non-smoker. But I have plans to take it up again when I’m in my 70's. By that time I’ll be retired and hope to be all sassy and “I’ don’t give a damn!” about everything. How can I play bingo and sit at the blackjack table without a cigarette in my hand? When I do take it up again I will buy my first pack on the Great American Smokeout day.   Just to mess with 'em.

Nov 17, 2009

You can't win, so don't try.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you can’t please everybody. Once you truly embrace this truth you experience a whole new world. Suddenly you are free to do things based on what you think is best. Not controlled by what all the naysayers might say….. naysayers are always saying nay, it’s their job.

And naysayers are divided into at least two different camps. This is to ensure that no matter what course of action you take one of those camps will be rolling their eyes, tskking their tongues and just being very surly and disagreeable. Accept it, ignore them and move on with what needs to be done.

You know what else? Naysayers thrive on being the fly in the ointment. When you don't care, it de-motivates them. It's actually kind of fun to watch. Kind of like a balloon slowly losing it's air.

Nov 15, 2009

Retirement Plan

Even though it's horribly unoriginal, I'm thinking I may push for retirement in Florida.  That way I could be close to the cousins.  They came up from Florida for the wedding. Those of you who know me or who have read my blog know about “the cousins”. I can’t remember not knowing them or not being close to them. With the distance between Michigan and Florida I consider myself lucky to have that closeness.

The first memories I have of them are when I was five and I went to stay in Florida. It was 1967 and my mother had just delivered my sister and needed to have surgery to repair a heart valve. It’s hard to recover from heart surgery with a five year old running around so my aunt graciously agreed to take me in. She already had seven kids and must have thought one more wouldn’t make that big of a difference.

My sister was sent to stay with a couple who attended my mother’s church at that time. I later used this to my advantage, trying to convince her that she wasn’t really my sister. I explained that we had found her in a garbage can, asking why she thought there weren’t any baby pictures of her around. (I was a cruel big sister).

I have sketchy but vivid memories of my time in Florida. I remember walking to the school right down the road. I remember my kindergarten class was on the second floor. I remember having my first school Valentine’s party there. I remember the big open field with huge Georgia?? pines across the street from “the cousins’” house. I clearly remember a nightmare I had when I was staying with them. I was being chased by dinosaurs. In true horror movie fashion, I tripped and fell. I woke up in a cold sweat just as the ravenous dinosaurs were about to pounce.

I remember how awesome it felt to be part of that big, boisterous family, even if it was for just a short period of time. My experience up to that point had been that of an only child. I was precocious and I was used to being the center of attention. I had to make rapid adjustments in Florida. When I say the cousins I mean the girl cousins. I care about and have memories of good times with each of the four boys but it was the girls who took me in and made me feel part of the family.
I am close to all of "the cousins". But just as they are unique and different from each other, my relationship with each of them is different too.

Scarlet is the planner, the organizer and the leader. She is an eternal optimist and a can do type person. She is creative and imaginative. As the oldest of seven, she has perfected the mother hen stance. She is a pragmatist and a no nonsense person who tells you like it is. I admire Scarlet's drive and energy. I also feel a special kinship with her since each of us is the oldest.

Bonnie is the wild child and the free spirit. She is the originator of grand schemes that break with conformity. She is accepting of people as they are, valuing their strengths and weaknesses. Bonnie lived with my husband, kids and me for awhile during a failed attempt to become a Michigander. We all enjoyed it and were sad to see her go back to Florida. But we understood how strong family ties are. I feel free to be me when I am with Bonnie. To laugh, or cry and to say exactly what is on my mind.

Diana is silently strong. She is willing to sacrifice for others without hesitation. Other people do that to be the martyr or to get sympathy. She just does it because that's who she is. You don't notice it. Diana feels every emotion deeply. She loves nature and animals and is always up for a physical or mental challenge. Diana is comfortable with silence. Not many people are. I admire Diana's strength. When I was young I wanted to be just like her.

Every time I see them it's like no time at all has passed since the last time. We have that special brand of fun that comes from being family and friends at the same time. Thanks so much you guys for coming. The help you gave is much appreciated but, more importantly, your presence made it special because each of you is special. 

Nov 9, 2009

Home of the Brave

If it weren’t for my aversion to heat, humidity and most seafood, I would move to New Orleans just so I could cast a vote for Representative Joseph Cao. He was the lone Republican voice casting a vote for much needed health care reform in this country. His reason for voting with the President in the face of outright threats from his party was simple. It’s what was best for his district.

"I have always said that I would put aside partisan wrangling to do the business of the people. My vote tonight was based on my priority of doing what is best for my constituents," Representative Cao said. Amen brother!  You see, he comes from New Orleans, where skyrocketing healthcare costs are just one more problem heaped on his constituents, along with high unemployment and their continuing struggle to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

This was done despite this very real threat from Michael Steele, Chairman of the Republican National Committee. “So candidates who live in moderate to slightly liberal districts have got to walk a little bit carefully here, because you do not want to put yourself in a position where you’re crossing that line on conservative principles, fiscal principles, because we’ll come after you,”

Wow, you’ve got to love the simplicity of it, an elected official who believes his sole purpose is to represent the interests of his constituents. He voted the way a majority of his constituents wanted him to vote. Representative Cao may be onto something here. If only the other members of Congress were less apt to follow their party’s marching orders and instead followed their consciences.

I'm not naive.  I will grant you that when Representative Cao cast his vote he was most certainly considering his ability to be re-elected.  His next run for office won't be against a federally indicted incumbent. But it still took guts. Will he actually suffer consequences from the Republican party? Some, but when it comes right down to it they need him in New Orleans, a predominantly African American and Democratic district, as much as he needs them. Leave it to a recent immigrant to show us what being an American is really about, standing up for your principles regardless of the consequences.

See post below for some wedding pics.    It's a bonus two post day here at WAATGBNT.

Long Overdue

The three weeks since the wedding have flown by.  Here are some wedding pics, as promised.

Here they are at the Law Quad of University of Michigan.  This is an architecturally beautiful place and it has significance for them because they met at school.

Lots of Bubbles

My handsome son.

Dancing with her father, who cried more that day than I did.

A little bit of "Souljuh Boy" but Miss Erica always ended up leaning the wrong way.  That's my two nieces she is dancing with.

Rehearsal Dinner:  Me and my husaband on the left and the groom's parents on the right.  Awesome people.  It was like we were destined to be family.

Family photo.

Beautiful Bridesmaids

Handsome Groomsmen.

Happy Ending!

Nov 3, 2009


It’s a German word but it translates pretty well. It’s the itch to go somewhere new, somewhere different than you’ve been before. You can try to explain human migration through the ages as the need to find food and shelter. But ask yourselves, who was it that struck out there into the unknown? It wasn’t the homebodies. It was the adventurers.

I have spent eighteen of the last fifty five hours in a car, traveling with two of my Japanese co-workers. Japanese pop music as a back drop for nearly the whole trip. We did have a brief respite with a Beatles CD. (Thank you, loveable, mop top Liverpool boys for your world-wide appeal.)

I amused myself by playing with my new phone, doing some Sudoku puzzles and a little bit of reading. But the majority of my time was spent staring out the window. We drove through several states that I rarely visit. Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Your mind sharpens when you see and experience new things. You try to take in all the details. So many questions pop into your head.

During her recent visit I teased my cousin Scarlett for taking a dozen or so pictures of Canadian Geese. They are so commonplace in my world that I just don’t register how beautiful and unique they are. As a resident of the Sunshine state, Scarlett rarely has seen autumn leaves.  She asked me in what order the colors change. I hesitated. Not only had I never thought about it, I wasn’t able to answer because I had paid so little attention to something witnessed every year of my life that I honestly couldn’t say for sure. (It’s yellow/red to orange/brown by the way.)

I think wanderlust is ingrained in the American mentality. Don’t most of us come from a long line of wanderers? Whether it was the Native Americans crossing that long ago land bridge or the immigrants that started coming hundreds of years ago and continue to come to this day. We aren’t afraid to wander into the unknown and see what’s what.

Oct 30, 2009

No Laughing Matter

Happy Halloween everybody. I love Halloween. It’s the day before my birthday so as a kid it was like having a two day birthday party. That’s me in my costume this year. I am the swine flu. I debated whether to wear this costume.  As the lead HR person you don't want to appear to be making light of a serious situation.  But then I figured, "What the hell...."  Which is one of the principles I strive to live by.

Ironically, while dressed in this costume I got word that we need to postpone my birthday party because my sister’s whole family is infected with some wicked virus. When she called her kid’s pediatrician, he said he was too swamped to see anybody and informed her that H1N1 testing is only being conducted on people who are hospitalized. He advised her to stay home and to stay away from people.

On a much brighter note…. I was giddy at the news this morning that Sarah Palin is engaged in public mud slinging with the white trash father of her grandson. Nothing she does is understated.  A few weeks ago I saw a “Palin 2012” bumper sticker. It sent a shiver down my spine. I wondered if anybody takes her seriously anymore. Good old reliable Sarah never disappoints. She makes a fool of herself every time she opens her mouth. She doesn’t realize that the more vehemently she disparages this kid the worse her parenting skills look. It was only a year ago this kid was being trotted out as the dutiful future husband of her pregnant teenage daughter. God help us if this lunatic ever actually gets in the White House. If she can’t gracefully handle criticism from an eighteen year old kid how does she imagine she can handle leading this country.

Oct 26, 2009

Will wonders never cease?

Whenever I wanted to illustrate to my children how things have changed I pull out the tried and true shockers….. we only had three stations on TV….. we didn’t have computers (or video games)….. we didn’t have ATMs, you had to go to the bank on Friday afternoons and get the cash you thought you needed and once that was gone you were out of luck…. They were awestruck at how we managed to survive in such a backwards reality.

We did manage and some would argue that it was better back then. But that’s only the old and curmudgeonly among us. Most agree that things get better as technology advances. It’s exponential and I find myself amazed at the immediacy and ease with which we can do things these days.

Within one day of my daughter’s wedding I had at my fingertips a myriad of digital images from all her Facebook friends. I have copied them all onto my computer and will send quite a few of them off by email to relatives that couldn’t come.

Her wedding photographer will be loading the professional photos to a website so that she can select them using a web browser instead of the proof books we used to get in the old days. Friends and family can select photos of their own using the same website

I had an IM chat with my daughter while she was in Spain on her honeymoon. She also emailed me some digital shots of the sights they are seeing, (like the one above). It was nice to hear from her and know that everything is OK. I know she’s a grown, married woman now but I’m still her mother. I reserve the right to worry about her until the day I leave this earth.

I recently purchased a TomTom and am happy to report that I can find the nearest Starbucks from anywhere in the United States. I sometimes wonder how we managed to get anywhere before we had mapquest and navi systems. I’m sure that they have freed up a lot of time for gas station attendants.

I finally got a Smart phone this weekend. All the conveniences found on my computer at home are now on my phone. It’s so very Start Trek recorder. The thing I am most excited about is to have google at my fingertips. Good for practical purposes like – How much do you tip a wedding photographer? ($40-$100 depending on how long he/she was there). Also good for the whimsical questions – Why do leaves turn colors?

The world is zipping along at such blinding speed it’s hard to imagine what will come next.

Oct 19, 2009

You just let me handle him.

Occasionally I come across something that makes me feel as if I live in a bubble. Case in point, an article on titled “Increasingly wives earn more than husbands”. Seriously?  Is this really a problem?  I don’t even have to read the article to know that it will raise my blood pressure by a few points.

According to the article, 65.3% of women and 61.2% of men agreed strongly that they are comfortable with women earning more than men in a household. This means there are 35% of women and 39% of the men are not comfortable with the idea. Why not?

A clue lies in this quote from the article. This is from a gentleman who lost his job and now has to rely on his wife’s income. “We’re Christians, so for me to not be the breadwinner…… it’s not the easiest thing.” I scratched my head for a minute wondering what on earth his religion had to do with it.

Does that mean that non-Christian men like Buddhist, Jewish and Muslim and your plain old atheists are all fine with their wives making more money than them? I'm thinking it has more to do with how "fundamental" you are. And by fundamental I mean old fashioned, antiquated and not in step with the realities of today. A lot of religions keep people locked in that mind set.

To make matters worse these families are struggling because the wife's wages are usually lower than the husband's.  In 2007 only 33.5% of women were making more than their husbands despite the fact that the number of women in the workplace has been steadily growing to the point that we now have about half of the jobs.

Why? Well it's that nasty little pay difference that exists between men and women. Women only make 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns. Additionally, only 77% of women primary breadwinners have health insurance benefits while 91% of the men breadwinners do. Guess the powers that be didn't forsee that the gender gap would come back to bite us in the ass. Who knew that we would have to actually rely on women to provide?

Census Bureau Earnings Exact Numbers 2002
Current Population Survey 1996-2002
Reporters/Editors Men-$41,003 Women-$33,363
Accountants/Auditors Men-$49,042 Women-$33,275
Insurance Sales Men-$49,555 Women-$31,550
Financial Managers Men-$59,871 Women-$39,795
Lawyers/Judges Men-$83,530 Women-$62,635
Physicians Men-$93,740 Women-$69,303
Teachers Men-$35,822 Women-$30,830

I remember back in 1989 when I was first promoted to a management position, my boss sat me down to give me the good news. New title, new office, nice raise. As an afterthought my boss asked. “Will you be making more than your husband?” I didn’t answer right away because, frankly, I thought it was a very rude question. He must have thought my hesitation meant that I was in fact worried about my husband’s reaction. He then asked, “Will he be upset?” I finally answered him, “No, you go ahead and pay me as much money as you want to. He’ll be fine with it.”

I mean, why on earth wouldn’t he be? I would really worry about him if his sense of self worth was damaged by me making more money than him. More money meant a better future for our family, no matter who brought it home. Why would he not want that?  I was right of course, he was ecstatic and has been for every raise and promotion that has come since.

I suppose I should be thankful. The big debate used to be whether women should work at all. Now it's just about fragile men maintaining their egos while their wives work to keep the family afloat.

Oct 18, 2009


Eight months of planning over in one day.  But oh so worth it.

Isn't she beautiful?  And can't you tell how much they love each other. 

My daughter is now a wife and we have a new son. 

Oct 12, 2009

It Ain't Just a River in Egypt

In Blue: MSS - Ms. Say-It-Ain’t-So – She is the part of me that is hitting the reality of my daughter moving out like a brick wall.

In Red: FGG - Frau Get-a-Grip - The pragmatic side of me. Notice she’s German? That’s because that’s where that side of me comes from.

MSS: What is she doing in there?

FGG: She’s packing up all her things to move out.

MSS:  Really? Even the stuff on the walls? I mean, it all seems so final. It’s like there’s no turning back.

FGG: Well it is final, stupid! She’s getting married. She’s off to start a home of her own. Isn’t that what you planned all along? You, with your big talk of raising your kids to be independent, self confident adults, able to take care of themselves. Didn’t you realize that this is what that leads to?

MSS: Well, yeah. But it’s much easier to deal with as a concept than as a reality.

FGG: Sheesh. What do you want? Your kids to live with you until they are 30?

MSS: No… I never thought so. But now that I think about it can’t we just have her husband move in here. We could be sort of like an extended family. Lots of cultures do that you know.

FGG: Quit your sniveling. You have a wedding to put on. You make me sick.

Oct 7, 2009

Warm Fuzzies

By the time the guys came back from golfing on Sunday the festivities were over. The men had vacated the premises in order to avoid the “Bridal Shower”. They planned and hurried each other out of the house so determinedly that you would have thought the shower participants were all carrying the H1N1 virus.

I tried to explain that there really wasn’t anything to be afraid of. All we do is play games, eat food and drink punch. The fear of girl “cooties”, first introduced in kindergarten, is hard to get over.

You ever have one of those moments when everything seems right with the world? It’s like you’re feeling one of those base emotions that goes back to the beginning of humans as social beings. A feeling that washes over you, making you feel happy, safe and secure. I had three on the day of the shower:

1) My mother coming into the kitchen to help me get the shower luncheon on the table. Everybody else was playing the shower games in the living room. She didn’t ask if I needed help, she just silently slipped in next to me and started working.

2) The guys all tromping in after golfing and fixing themselves a big plate of the leftover food from the shower. There is something very satisfying in providing a meal to an appreciative, hungry man. Seems sexist and silly, I know. But base emotions run deep and are not controlled by modern things like political correctness.

3) The sense of calm that came to me as I sat in the aftermath of the shower with my family and close friends.  I realized that no matter how crazy things get between now and the wedding I have the most awesome group of women to help and support my daughter. The constant has been my sister. She is amazing. We also have reinforcements coming next week from Florida in the form of my three cousins. I’m about as close to the three of them as you can get without being sisters. They are awesome.  Besides being there to  help, the party just wouldn't be a good party without them.

I admit that the pending wedding has made me emotional. Maybe that emotional state intensified the feelings of well being. I don’t know and I don’t care. I just know it felt right. God, won’t you all be glad when these endless wedding blog posts are over with.


Oct 4, 2009

The Aftermath

This is what my dining room table looked like after Wedding Wednesday this week.  Click the pic to enlarge if you want to really experience the chaos.  There were 8 of us from three generations with an age span from youngest to oldest of 47 years.  We each had our assignments.  Some assignments were more glamorous than others (like my sister wrapping the ribbon around the flower stems of the chuch pew decorations) but all of them bring us one step closer to being prepared for the big day.

We got quite a bit accomplished.  Those candles and white pumpkins you see are for the centerpieces at the reception.  There was some debate over the placement of the ribbon.  But if there's one piece of advice I have for those helping prepare for a wedding its.... "The bride's opinion prevails."  That's as it should be.  It is her day after all.  The fairytale day that we all dream about, whether we admit it or not.

The centerpiece will be beautiful.  See the little discs of wood.  The centerpiece will be big blocks of wood like that with three candles of varying heights, white pumpkin, falll leaves, acorns and a big spider mum with no stem.  I'll post pics after the wedding.

The small discs of wood are for the name card holders.  That's the reason we needed the wire cutters you see pictured there.  Copper wire got wrapped around that pen to form a circly thing to stick the cards in.  The wire got glued into a tiny drilled hole in the discs of wood.  Very rustic.  My thumb was numb for four days from wrapping wire. 

The basket on the table will be the card holder.  I'm going to make a box with a slit in the top, cover it in pretty ribbon, place it in the middle of the basket and then put real apples all around it.  Struggling a little on dressing this basket up without making it gawdy.

The "Dollar Tree" receipt you see there is from the fall leave garlands that will be placed on the railing around the room.  They will have little white twinkly lights twined with them too.  Oooooo..... pretty.

The clothes pin is for a bridal shower game.  The bridal shower is today.  I really should be off doing something shower related. 

Sep 30, 2009

Taking the Good with the Bad

half storm, half sun, all gnat
Pros: The boost in your confidence because all the fat bulges are smoothed out.
Cons: The uncomfortable, sausage-like feeling you get from being encased in tight lycra.

Pros: Crisp, cool air that makes you feel alive. Beautiful fall colors everywhere you look. Football and hockey season are starting up.
Cons: Winter peeking around the corner with it’s grey clouds, ready to blanket Michigan for the next 6 months.

Pros: The boost to your energy level from getting the heart pumping. The weight loss.
Cons: Fumbling around trying to follow the instructor which is really difficult for you because you couldn’t dance if your life depended on it. Sweating profusely.

Being busy at work
Pros: The productive feeling you get from accomplishing things. The day goes by faster.
Cons: The constant, nagging feeling that you are dropping the ball on something important.

New outfits
Pros: Feeling all sassy and kicky in your brand spankin’ new work outfits.
Cons: Your old outfits feel frumpy and dumpy in comparison.

Two weeks and 3 days until the wedding
Pros: The big day is in sight and it involves a big party with all our friends and family there. Spending time with the family to plan and do all the little tasks that need to be done before the wedding. Get to meet both the fiancé’s parents.
Cons: Two weeks and 3 days until your little girl goes off to have a house and home of her own. All the crazy, little details we have forgotten that keep popping into my head in the middle of the night.

Making your blog public
Pros: Making lots of internet friends.
Cons: Strangers being led to your blog by creepy google searches like "pretty boys in dresses". pretty-boy  This type of search has now by-passed the former leader "good blog names".  Yes, I know repeating it will  only make it worse.   I guess the more time they waste here the better.

Sep 28, 2009

Compromise is Old Fashioned

Some of my fondest memories growing up are the discussions held at the Holiday dinner tables. The fun started after the dishes were cleared and the adults were sitting around drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and discussing politics. We had the full political spectrum represented. My father is about as far left as you can get and my grandfather was his polar opposite. Discussions got heated and somebody usually ended up pounding on the table.

I find that now I tend to agree with my father’s way of thinking in most things but I recognize my grandfather’s influence in some of the opinions I have formed. Dad and I sometimes have heated discussions of our own. But I love and respect him even if I don’t agree with everything he says.

The table pounding didn’t alarm me, it fascinated me. It taught me so many important lessons. I learned that often there are no easy answers. I learned that passion about ideas is important. I learned that it’s important to hear both sides of an argument before you make up your mind about something.

I fear that thoughtful consideration of the issues isn't a common practice these days.  Subtleties and nuances are lost.   We want the quick fix and the easy answer.  We've been trained that way by the idiot box.  Everything is about the sound bite and the gotcha.  The shock factor has become the barometer for coverage.  It all gets wrapped up in nice little 60 second packages with enticing graphics and no need for thought.

This is the reason we have become so intolerant.  Opposing points of view are rarely presented side by side in any rational way.  I worry about this country's ability to make good collective decisions.  Common sense flies right out the window because of some poorly chosen words.  Especially if they play upon fear.  Isn't that how George W.  got his second term? 

Have things really changed or was I placing too much faith in the American people all along?

Sep 22, 2009

Tick Tock

Been busy lately.   I have been traveling quite a bit for work.  Today I was in Boston, (love the accents).  I am currently on a train heading to Stamford CT.  New England is beautiful in the fall.  Tomorrow on to Kansas City and finally back home to Detroit on Thursday only to leave again for Friday and Saturday for an event at the factory. 

All of this traveling is occurring right in the middle of wedding crunch time.  T-minus four weeks until go time.  Looming over us like a shadow.   We have been spending a lot of time making all the little decisions.  The big stuff was decided ages ago.  Some of the decisions we had been putting off:

Menu – Happy to report to the carnivorous guests that it will NOT be a vegetarian menu.  We went with a standard beef choice, chicken choice and of course, the Midwest wedding staple of mostaccioli.

Alcohol – We had three levels of bar service to choose from.  The planners fell into one of two camps.  Those that wanted the upgraded bar service which adds top level alcohol and those who wanted the premium bar service which also added specialty liquors like Kahlua and Bailey’s.  I was in the latter group but I lost out.  We are going middle of the road.  Personally, I think the bar is one of the things people notice most at a wedding.  They like being able to order whatever they want.    Sad to find out that the reception hall has a “no shot” policy.  What fun is that?  NONE.  We must have at least one relative get rip roaring drunk and embarrass him or herself to the delight of the rest of us.

Chairs – No, it’s not a decision about whether we will have chairs.  It’s about what kind of chairs we will have.  Cost was the deciding factor on this one.  Standard banquet chairs…  Chairs covered in satin with a ribbon tied around them…… $3.50 per chair.  Fancy cane chairs in either gold or white …….. $9.50 per chair.    I nearly choked on that last one.  We went with the free chairs.

Decorations – Finalized our plans for the head table, the guest tables and the room in general.  Think autumn leaves, trees, and apple harvests….. sounds awesome doesn’t it?  It will be.  My daughter and sister are very creative. 

I have had to give up on a few things that are considered old fashioned by my daughter.  She will not allow us to do the “Chicken Dance”, the “Hokey Pokey” or the "Macarena".  Guess I’ll just have to be happy with the “Hustle”.  I need to practice though.  Otherwise I will be the relative that embarrasses herself, no alcohol needed.