Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A lovely surprise

I love older houses. That used to apply to homes built only before 1940, but I've expanded my definition of "older" to include houses built in the 1960s. (And for the right 1970s house, such as the one friend Tammy is eyeing, I could be convinced.)

I love the "character" that abounds in these pre-war homes, though I'm not quite sure how one defines "character." For me, it's the woodwork, hardwood floors, built-ins, and staircases; I love the feeling of warmth and life that exudes from the beautiful moldings and quirky spaces.

Im this house, I am loving the front staircase, the little room that is my office, and the three fireplaces, all with oak mantlepieces. I love the built-in bookcases on either side of the living room fireplace; I love the leaded glass windows above them. I love the oak pillars that separate the living room from the family room (what was probably originally the dining room). I love the hardwood floors, the laundry chute. And I really, really love my little dressing room off the master bedroom.

Unfortunately, someone carpeted over the two main rooms downstairs. The foyer, office, and dining room all have wood floors. But they are new - they've been replaced. We've been keeping our fingers crossed that the living and family rooms have beautiful floors hidden under the dingy taupe wall-to-wall carpet.

And tonight, we decided to find out. The girls and I pulled up the grates and started tearing. We were not disappointed: The floors are gorgeous. They lack quarter round trim, and the threshhold between the rooms will need to be repaired to adjust for the transition between the old and new floors.

But we will have our dream: And old house with stunning oak floors. That's on our agenda tomorrow: Demolition. We'll be pulling up all the downstairs carpet.

I can hardly wait to do it upstairs ...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More moving drama

We are still in unpacking mode. Still.

I'm wondering when - if - it will ever end.

I have total moving amnesia. Which, if I'm not mistaken, I've mentioned before. But it's so true. I have no memory of our move to Houston and how awful the moving-in part was. Though I do have a brief snippet of thinking I was never, ever doing it again.

Yet here we are. Just throw in the added stress of construction.

I know, I know - this is all becoming a bit tiresome. People move every day. People with even more crap than we have move all the time. Why I am such a drama queen I can't say.

But there is progress:

• Gary hacked off part of my desk, so it now fits in the spot where I want it. It's a great desk, and it is - was - huge. A giant work surface. I want it to fit in the little room off the kitchen, which is just perfect for a little office. (I am wondering what it was when the house was built - breakfast room? Morning room?) Sadly, the doorways are not lined up, so the L-shape of the desk was blocking a doorway. I looked at other desks, and nothing looked very substantial. So I had Gary whip out the saw, chop off the L, and it is a perfect fit. The room is tight, what with desk, futon, three bookcases, and two cabinets all in a 10'x11' space. But it's working. I have a fabulous view of the pool and the yard from my desk.

• Sylvia's room is put away. Finally. Her room is small, so it was tough to find a place for all her things. But the addition will mean a bigger room for the Sylvia, so she will be fine.

• Moved Maddie to her temporary digs on the third floor, in a corner of the game room. It's only temporary, while we break into her room for our bathroom, then add on to her room. She was initially a bit put off, but she's fine now. No pain, no gain - truer words were never spoken.

• My room is virtually box free. Of course, we have three rooms in our master lair: Bedroom, sitting room, and dressing room. The dressing room is my favorite part - and it's all mine. Mine. Gary has been relegated to one of the other closets - the charming little room with two closets and shelving is mine. Which is best - if he were to spend too much time in there, he might start counting shoe boxes. And no one benefits from that sort of activity.

• Still need to rearrange the books. We have bookcases in our room, the office, and the living room. So I have to decide which books go where. And haul them around. Gary is, naturally, out of town. How clever of him to arrange business trips in order to avoid helping unpack.

My friend is bringing over dinner, so I need to go make this place presentable. Or something that passes for presentable.

What's the statute of limitations on "We just moved in"?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Still Here

Until my house looks as if it is not the end result of a tornado whirling through, I will be unable to spare time for the computer. Or form coherent thoughts.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Though not one single room looks even livable, much less presentable, the LR, family room, kitchen, office, and at least three bedrooms are 85-90 percent there. My goal is the end of the week. At that point I am hoping to have some real order around here.

And Wednesday is B-Day. As in, the master bathroom construction begins. You have no idea how exciting this is. Updates soon ...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hell's Kitchen

I am making up for my lack of Internet access today, cramming a week's worth of Web surfing into one day.

But I had to take a break to eat. Which required me to then load the dishwasher. And to ruminate on just how substandard my current kitchen is:

• Too small. This is a critical factor. The room is 10'x12' or something - just too small for my lifestyle. (Remember? My small-carbon-footprint lifestyle? Right, that one. It requires a 20'x26' kitchen. Minimum.)

• Old cabinets. My parents had two kitchens from the 1970s. And their cabinets were not this bad. These are painted plywood, and I swear, the inside of one of them isn't even finished. These are the cabinets of no one's dreams. Though perhaps of someone's nightmares.

• Bad countertops. They show every drop, every crumb. The burn mark in one cannot be overlooked; the others stain easily. Do not allow drips of coffee to remain for more than ten minutes, or they are there forever.

- Ancient appliances. The refrigerator is new; the others, so old I cannot even fathom when they were new. The dishwasher is small, and the rackes slide out on their own when the door opens - not quite sure how that happened, but it appears to have been installed on a slope. Not to mention that it's LOUD. Alison will be 17 this fall; I'm guessing the stove and dishwasher predate her by a good many years. I didn't even know they made microwaves that long ago.

• Floor. Made of vinyl tiles that look like white bricks. Not a look I'd recommend.

• No pantry space. Where did these people keep their food? More importantly, how did they stand this? Every day for nine years? I shudder to think.

The lighting is OK (ceiling fan in the middle, lots of spots over the other areas), and I do have a garbage disposal. Though the sink is a problem - it's two-sided, but the disposal is in the little part of the sink (the part that's about three inches deep) and it does not work well for me. Plus, somehow water is always all over the counter.

I am missing my stainless undermount sink, my stainless appliances, my island, granite countertops, lovely cabinets, huge pantry, exposed brick around the cooktop, the wall oven. But all of these will be ours, soon enough.

I'm counting the days ...


I am beat. Beat.

Our Internet access has been sketchy. It would go off, come back, then go away again, seemingly without explanation. I called tech support; you need a new modem, they said. Long story, but we have another modem. Called again to hook it up and was told no, it might be a connection in the house. Why do I get a different answer every time I talk to these people? The tech guy was here this afternoon - modem is fine. It was, in fact, a bad connection. But we're good now.

Internet at my fingertips whenever I want it - what a luxury.

Moving is soooo much work. I hesitate to bore you with details ... but I think I will anyway. We just have so much crap. Not quite sure why. I like to fancy myself as being anti-materialistic, living this green, low-carbon footprint lifestyle.

Apparently, our lifestyle is the antithesis of this image. We have all these sets of dishes, of beverage glasses, that we use on occasion. We do use them - I certainly like to have the proper glass when I drink my Bailey's - but they take up a lot of space.

And we have a lot of books. As in, tons. Hundreds. We had 70 boxes of just books - it's a little shocking. Most, though not all, have been read. So what is it with people and their tendency to hold onto books, as if they are trophies? Are they some testament of the people we want others to think we are? "Oooh, she has a set of Edith Wharton/F. Scott Fitzgerald/JD Salinger/Barbara Cartland - she must be really cool/a total idiot."

Whatever the reason, we store them on shelves, pack and unpack them each time we move. Mostly, they collect dust.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. As in, all the books are unpacked and on shelves - our room has two walls of floor to ceiling bookcases, plus the built-ins in the living room and shelves in the office and game room, so we have plenty of space. Sadly, they are, for the most part, no longer organized. I was lucky to get them unpacked, much less properly categorized. That will wait for another day.


I have been walking mornings - a full hour, 7 to 8 a.m. I am motivated by my BFF showing up here at 7 - I don't dare wimp out. And she is likewise motivated knowing that I am waiting for her. I think I will begin to refer to her as a pain in the ass - the pain that I feel when I trudge up that very long hill from downtown.

But I mean it with the greatest affection - that pain is a good pain. I am lucky she has agreed to do this with me.


The contractor starts our new bathroom next week. As in, Wednesday. I am so excited!

He has drawn up plans for a two-story addition. Out of it, we will get a new kitchen, complete with new powder room (relocated), little sunroom area, eat-in area with island/breakfast bar. Upstairs we are getting an ensuite master bathroom, separate tub/shower (of critical importance), and bumping Maddie's and Sylvia's bedrooms out.

The bathroom will take about a month. Don't know when the kitchen will start, but soon after that, though he has some other work to do. For my friend - I'll need to have a word with her about whose work is more important. I think I know her answer already ... but she's a good friend, so I can let it slide.

Exhausted - truly, I am. But in a good way.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Some good, some ... not so good

I love my "new" house. "New" is a relative term, as the house was built in 1880. But I love historic homes in historic neighborhoods. This one fits the bill.

Yet I am not loving the outdated kitchen. Yesterday as I tried to load the dishwasher, all I could think was, How did they live this way? It is temporary for us - we are doing a kitchen remodel. It is desperately needed. Cabinets are old, floors are yucky, appliances are dated. Kitchen is wa-a-a-a-y too small. Half bath is tiny.

It's OK - it's all changing. We can get by.

But I am loving the laundry chute - it is so convenient. We had one growing up, but as I did not actually do said laundry, I did not realize how very cool it was.

Now I know.

I also love my little dressing room off our bedroom. It is adorable. And I love all the closets - a coup for an old house.

But - on a totally unrelated note - I am missing the Houston Chronicle. Such a great paper. But that's why we have the Internet. (When it's working.)

Mostly, I am happy. All these things that bug me? They can all be changed. The things that can't are small. I am overcome with calm, with a serene feeling that all is right with the world. Tranquility. Contentment.

Zen. Peace, all.

Monday: Off to a good start

Started my day with an hour-long walk through the neighborhood. I have the added motivation of my BFF up the street. We agreed to meet at 7 a.m. to walk. Had we not had this plan, I would have rolled over and gone back to sleep. But no. She was there, and I was ready. We walked down the hill to downtown, crossed over to Sixth Street, walked back up the hill, through Highland Park, all the way back over to Ninth Street, and back home.

Took about an hour. We talked and talked and talked. And yet we are not done talking. This is one of the reasons we are friends - she and I can both talk for-ever. And she is so easy to talk to. The hour flew by - truly.

But the muscles in my rear end are very sore. I am less sore from falling, but still fairly sore. And walking definitely pulled something. But I'm glad we did it.

On today's agenda: More of the same. But not in a bad way. Though Gary left today, so we are on our own. Which means no one to do the heavy lifting.

We'll see how much we can get done this week, surprise him with our efficiency. And take time out to go the fair and see Mamma Mia.

It's an ambitious plan. Must get started.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


(I have sporadic Internet access. The modem is working; the airport signal indicates that it, too should be working. Not quite sure what the problem is. However, I will use this excuse, conveniently, to stop unpacking for a few minutes and take advantage of my Internet access being up.)

I am suffering from moving amnesia. Well, correction: I was suffering from this affliction. I am now aware of my former malady. Painfully aware.

As in, moving is a lot of work. Hard work. We have a lot of stuff. A lot of crap.

However, after unpacking a good portion of the 480-plus items in our inventory (gulp), I recognize a couple of the bigger problems:

Number one: When every single item you own is sitting in the house in a box - not in a closet or cabinet or drawer - it looks like much more than it is.

Number two: Our movers are not always the most efficient packers. I have found more than one box - a book-sized box, roughly 12"x12"x18" - that has contained one item. Such as, a baseball cap. A couple of those can really add to the relative clutter.

Number three: I have a propensity to save a lot of stuff. Unnecessarily. My clothes closets are filled to overflowing. And this is not because I am a shopaholic (though that could be a contributing factor). No, the bigger problem is that I keep way too many items that I no longer wear. It doesn't matter that it went out of style five years ago, or that I would never in a million years wear it again in public. If I liked it once, I tend to hold onto to it.

And would you believe Gary is even worse?

But I'm getting better, and large number of items are destined for Goodwill.

I did make a decision, and all the old cassette tapes are in the garbage. We have piles of them, and I can't even remember the last time one was played - maybe 2001? In our old car? It was a bold move, I know, but I am not feeling any remorse. A few VHS tapes are in there as well - the ones we used to grab and pop into the VCR at the last minute to record a show we might otherwise miss. The DVR cured us of that necessity, so off they go.

Back to work. Who knows what little gems of surprise await me as I try to get our lives back in order.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday morning

The boxes did not magically disappear overnight. Too bad - that would have been a nice treat.

Alas, I'll be back at it today. Unpacking. I don't mind it in some ways. It gives me a chance to go through all the junk we've accumulated in the last three years or so, weeding and culling. It seems as if it would makes more sense to do this before we move, but that has never been my system. To go through every item in our house, making a mental inventory and sifting through it, throwing stuff away, just seems like too much work. I do what I can, then let the movers pack the rest. Not the most efficient way to do things, but it works for me.

The contractor has been to have a look; we are just waiting on the estimate. Since he was here, I've had a brainstorm and now I know exactly what the addition should entail. First floor will be all kitchen/sun room; upstairs we will break into Maddie's room for our bathroom, then add on to both Maddie's and Sylvia's rooms. They could use the space, and the bathroom placement will be much easier. We really need the space in the kitchen - it is very small and outdated. Small was not uncommon in older houses - it was a room used only by servants, so size was not a critical factor. And you wouldn't have eaten there.

My breakfast bagel is nearly ready - we are heading out to the deck to eat. Happy, happy.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Overwhelmed ...

It's been one busy week, let me tell you. I've had Internet access for a day or so, but I've just been too, too busy trying to create some semblance of order around here that the computer has been the last thing on my mind.

The house is fantastic. Truly. And once we've made some changes, it will be even better. The neighborhood is great, and my BFF lives just a few doors away. Things are great!

We are wall-to-wall boxes. As usual, boxes were put in the wrong rooms. My computer desk is too big for the new office. We will be doing some extensive remodeling, so it's tough to make decisions about where things go, yet we have to get stuff unpacked.

And I'm injured. I slipped in the shower Sunday and fell down. Hard. Hit my a** on the side of the tub, and I'm sure I bruised my tailbone. So I can't carry boxes, can't lift anything. Going up and down stairs is tough. But it could be worse.

This is all I have energy for. Plus, I can hear the television on, and I could use a break.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Driving, driving ...

Everything we own - save five suitcases, three backpacks, two totebags, myriad DVDs, and one dog - everything is loaded on a semi and headed north. The swingset is strapped to the back of the truck - either we have enough crap to fill the truck or they loaded it very inefficiently. I'm hoping it's the latter.

We left the Houston area yesterday afternoon around 4.30. There were some tears, espeically for Sylvia and two of her friends. It is always hard to say good bye, even though my feelings are not ambivalent in the slightest: Our quality of life will greatly improve where we are going. But it's still tough to bid farewell to people I genuinely like.

We made it to Dallas last night. And would you believe: the Homewood Suites policy on pets is not universal. In other words, our hotel in Dallas did not allow dogs. However, it was 10 p.m. And we had no other place to stay. So we surreptitiously kept the dog with us. Including two hours this morning while we were out - can't leave the dog in the car. We very stealthily took her up and down the steps, and it appears no one was the wiser. But I did call ahead to Memphis. Just to make sure.

Since we were in Dallas, ths morning we took the time and went to the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository. Well worth a visit, by the way. Walked around outside - took pictures of the grassy knoll, even got Alison in the middle of the road - X marks the spot. And Gary found two guys with a table set up that tells what really happened that fateful day. Gotta love America, where everybody can have his or her say. The girls enjoyed the visit - I love to fill them in on history.

And we drove. And drove. Today was only about seven hours, but it felt longer. Long car rides are d-u-l-l. I can't read in the car, so it doesn't leave for much else to do. Usually we just let the girls watch a movie, but I am armed with three seasons of Arrested Development, so we watched a bit today. Tomorrow will be a marathon.

But tomorrow night we'll be home. Home! Sounds great!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


The house is packed. The truck is being loaded. I am at the library - I need a break.

It's really not been all that bad. I do not supervise, do not even watch as the boxes are packed; I find it less stressful to just let the packers do their job. They've done this a million times before, and in my past experience (six corporate moves) they are over-cautious and generally pack things very carefully. There have been a few exceptions, naturally, but we get compensated for anything that is damaged.

And it's all just stuff, so most of it is really unimportant in the long run. Sure, some items have sentimental value. But the really valuable items - the girls - will be with us, so the rest of it? Material possessions.

I am running some errands today, and I will have more to take care of tomorrow. They will be done early afternoon tomorrow (I'm not sure why we have so much crap - probably because our house is obnoxiously big and we have accumulated/collected more furniture and more possessions than any family really needs). Then we will head to Dallas for the night.

Must finish up some last-minute details, then we are meeting friends for dinner. I am just ready to move on.

Monday, July 07, 2008

One down, four to go ...

Day one is over.

We survived.

The packers are really nice, very easy to work with. Last time, I asked them please, couldn't they delay the kitchen a bit? And they told me, in no uncertain terms, No. Then, after carefully packing the kitchen, the proceeded to the basement, where they treated everything as if it were mere garbage, tossing it recklessly into boxes.

We were not very happy. This time, I thought, those packers will follow MY rules. They will do it MY way.

They are - and I have not even had to get snippy with them. They offered to wait on the kitchen and the girls' bedrooms, starting with the seldom-used dining room and living room. They have been just as nice and flexible as can be. And funny - joking with the girls, the dog, with me. If not for their penchant for bad 80s music on the radio, we could even be friends. (It is totally cracking me up to hear the packer who looks as if he should be a football player singing along to Duran Duran, Thompson Twins or Huey Lewis and the News. And what 80s station is so desperate for music that they play Major Tom not once, but twice in one day?)

It has made me a little less stressed. A little.

It's amazing how little there is to do when the house is torn apart. I am surrounded by boxes and cartons, piled as high as my head. Which naturally begs the question: Just what is all this shit? And why do we need it?

A fair question. I can account for exactly three boxes with just two letters: LPs. And why we still have them, storing them and carting them from place to place, is anyone's guess. But I'm sure we will continue to store them. And their friend the turntable. AS for the rest of it - your guess is as good as mine.

Yawn. I am exhausted. I was up late finishing laundry and up early today. So I should go start the dishwasher, fold the remaining clothes, and go to bed. That way I can wake up and count another day off the list - one day closer to moving on.


It has begun. The week of chaos.

The packers are here. They are very friendly, very nice. As usual, they want to pack the kitchen first. They delayed it until this afternoon, so at least through lunchtime we can have a tiny bit of normalcy around here. And they won't touch the bedrooms til tomorrow.

Having my dining room disassembled is really not that disruptive.

But making my kids get up before 8 a.m. on a weekday - especially after they all three partied yesterday - was rough.

My kitchen tabled is laden with things I don't want packed; I am finishing up the laundry and still need to pack my suitcase, get a few other things together. The important papers, checkbook, bills to pay, those are all accounted for. The girls have a pile of DVDs and some books and games to keep them busy. We have some CDs in the car, and I can grab a few more from up here in the office (why we have two storage areas for CDs is a good question - we never know just where they are for sure, though I can usually guess).

(And did I mention that Gary is out of town on a business? Wouldn't you know ... )

The computer will stay up and running through Thursday, though I'm not sure how much energy I'll have for using it - I am really feeling the pressure. This is what I get for not feeling fazed by this AT ALL until yesterday. But I guess it's better that I was relaxed in the lead-up time - at least I could enjoy myself.

And I plan to enjoy the pool later this afternoon. Movers be damned - I will need some down time.

In just nine days we will be moving into the new house. Then a whole different type of stress begins.

Sunday, July 06, 2008


Went to Austin for the fourth - had a nice time. Toured the LBJ Library, went to the Capital, to the ... well, a center on the UT campus whose name I cannot remember (Ransom Center, maybe?) that houses a lot of papers from prominent Americans - they have a Guttenberg Bible, the first photo ever (circa 1832 - exposed for eight hours to get the print - amazing). They had an exhibit on the Beat Poets that was cool. Missed the bats when dinner went too late, but saw the fireworks from the Congress Street Bridge, which were amazing.

Today Sylvia had her going away party. As I said good bye to the parents of her friends, I was suddenly hit with all sorts of emotions that I'd been avoiding or denying: We are moving. And there are people here I will truly miss.

So, since 6 p.m., I have been feeling panicky. I have a ton of stuff to do, to get together, and I've done very little. I've done a bunch of laundry, and I have a list of details to take care of. Which I'll be doing between before 8 a.m. tomorrow. Some of it can happen as the packers are here - I just have to direct them to start in places I don't need to be - the dining room, the game room, the garage.

It will all be fine. But this week is going to be a mess. Which is probably why I wasn't thinking about it - I knew this would happen.

I just have to make it through to Friday. Then I'll be through the worst of it.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Me and My Gal

Today it was just me and Sylvia. (I'm channeling Judy Garland/Gene Kelly or Dave Edmunds - take your pick. Either one works for me.)

The two of us headed out, ostensibly to purchase a battery for the laptop. Instead, popped into Justice to look for a new swim suit for the Sylvia. Justice "Just for Girls" is less expensive than Limited Too and definitely less skanky than some tween stores. The clothes are brightly colored and seem to feel fashionable enough for the 7-12-year-old set. It's Sylvia's favorite. And we'll have to drive to Indianapolis in the future, so I figured I owed her one last Hurrah.

Macy's still had swim suits on sale, so I took a peek; found two that I like. And a dress for Alison. Turns out it is not the dress we thought she liked last time we were there, but it fits me, so I have a new sundress.

Also found out that the Apple store does not stock the battery for my laptop, so I'll be ordering that online. But we looked at the new iPhone (very cool - do I need an upgrade?!?!?) and I bought some replacement headphones. And admonished myself not to lose this set.

Best part of the day was time spent with Sylvia, one on one. She's a great kid, and I'm lucky to have her around.


We were out late last night, watching the Astros get beaten by the LA Dodgers. Fun enough, though - I love going to baseball games. Plus they had fireworks last night. Good ones. I enjoyed the show, didn't mind some of the music, but felt torn when it turned into a little salute to the Armed Forces. I certainly respect the work that our veterans have done, but on the other hand, I'm not a big fan of war or the military in general. Especially this last war (and at this point, most Americans agree with me). So the paramilitary salute wasn't doing much for me.

This morning, I've been super-unproductive. I made a hair appointment, took care of some e-mail correspondence. Some was even important. Dinked around on Facebook.

And thought about this:

To be a kid in 1976 - it was such fun. I remember the first time we saw a Bicentennial quarter and how excited we were (I have a couple stashed away, along with my $2 bill). It was the ultimate in patriotism, 1976 was. We watched the Bicentennial Minutes on CBS; for Halloween in 1975, kids at my school all dressed at heroes/heroines from the Revolutionary War. (I dressed as Abigail Adams, then when someone else in my class was dressed the same, I introduced myself as Abigail Smith, the unmarried Abigail Adams =- hello, early feminism!)

My town had a Bicentennial Museum; we bought special ice cream - red and white stripes with crunch white stars in the blue. All the fire hydrants were painted to look like Minutemen.

My mom hosted an event in January 1976, and she decorated in a Bicentennial Theme - she bought several of the little dolls (Ben Franklin, George Washington, Patrick Henrt and the like), had dishes with patriotic images, the whole nine yards (red, white, and blue goes a long way). And I remember the big July Fourth parade that year - we watched on National up by the university. It was a year of wonder.

This is one of my favorite childhood memories, those events of 1976. I hope my kids get to see something similar. Even without the Starland Vocal Band or What's Happening, it will be something to remember.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I hate to complain. But.

I don't relish being seen as a complainer.

But I'm old enough now that I am not going to put up with certain things.

I turned in the McDonald's employee who did not wash her hands as she left the restroom.

I pointed out that my library books were only overdue because I tried to renew them using their Website and the site was down.

And I refused to use the assigned fitting room when it was clear there was blood on the wall. (Ewww!)

Today, I did not appreciate the supermarket check-out clerk who yakked with her friend the entire time she rang up my groceries. She had to be motioned back to her register by a manager, but this didn't interrupt her conversation. She asked me twice for my Randall's card - once after she had swiped it. She started to use the wrong bags - again, something we'd already "discussed." And when I gave her a suggestion on how to bag the items I had just purchased (based on past experience) she continued to do it her way. It didn't work. I rebagged them myself while she watched.

I talked to the manager. After telling her to pay attention to her work and less attention to her friend. Maybe they can schedule break time together.

My standards are no unrealistically high - just a cashier who pays attention as she rings up the groceries. I know this is not a highly technical field. But she is getting paid. And it's lesson that will serve her well should she ever get another job.


Don't let us down, Obama

Once again, Anna Quindlen gets it right.

Newsweek, June 23, 2008

Attention Must Be Paid

Senator? Senator! I have gray hair and crow's feet and a lifetime of being underestimated. I'm nobody's sweetie. And I vote.

Congrats, Senator Obama, from one of those middle-aged white women who voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries. Everyone is suggesting you'd better pay close attention to us, especially since we're used to being chronically overlooked, and we're more than a little steamed about that fact. I agree completely, although not for the reasons you're hearing elsewhere.

You've run some race. The coalition of young voters and black Americans has been powerful and inspirational. The turnout among Democrats has put paid to the notion that no one cares about politics. And the estrogen alert that now says female Clinton supporters are going over en masse to John McCain out of pique, spite or rage is way overblown.

The idea that we will illustrate our disappointment by voting Republican is just another insulting suggestion that we're all emotional nut bars. Ever since the GOP sold out to the right wing, which sees women as a service industry for men, it has been no friend to us. This is the party that brought us Clarence Thomas even after Anita Hill testified; tried to neuter the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; held up approval of over-the-counter emergency contraception, and even put a guy on a commission for reproductive health who believes prayer is the way to deal with PMS. (Please, God, deliver him from the reach of my strong right hook.) Senator McCain himself opposes legal abortion and acknowledging the role of women in combat; progressive women's groups have long tagged him as weak on workplace bias and equal-pay guarantees. His likely Supreme Court appointees would mirror all that.

It would be silly for us to blame you for the cable blah-blahgers who were so negative about Senator Clinton. If she'd invented fire, they would have accused her of pyromania. You, by contrast, have been gracious in acknowledging her contributions as she bowed out. But you did have your moments. Along with your giving up cigarettes, may I suggest that you never again refer to a grown female reporter as "sweetie"?

After all, you know what it's like to be stereotyped. When you were accused during this campaign of being elitist—because good old egalitarian America isn't nearly as happy as one might hope when a black man gets a chance to go Ivy League—you could have responded, "Funny, that's not what cabdrivers who won't pick me up at night seem to think." You didn't do that, just as Senator Clinton didn't make much of the pitfalls of gender assumptions. Both of you understood the power-structure rules for the formerly disenfranchised. Push, and you're pushy. Demand, and you're demanding. No complaining allowed.

But here's the great thing about your position now: since you're obviously not female, you can openly complain on our behalf. You can channel your grandmothers, who had no opportunities, and your mother, who had few, and your wife, who because of the newest wave of feminism suddenly had many. You could even acknowledge the anger and frustration that women of a certain age, who have sat in the assistant's seat watching younger men promoted over them, felt when they saw what seemed to be the same thing happening to Senator Clinton.

We are the ones who wind up dealing with health care for our children and elder care for our parents. We are the ones fighting for sexual-harassment safeguards and workplace standards. Those are not issues on which John McCain has been passionate, and gender equity is not something with which he's ever been associated. This is an opportunity for you, not just an obligation.

Don't get comfy because older women are moving your way in new polls. And don't think you can coast on the fact that the Republicans are going to show their true colors by attacking your wife, thereby driving into the Democratic camp every woman enraged by the hands-folded, mouth-shut standard of female behavior. You've insisted you're running not to govern a demographic but to inspire a nation of individuals. Prove it. The real reason you have to reach out to women like us is that it will signal that you really mean to stand for a different America, a nation in which a black man can take up the concerns of white women for the sake of the greatest good.

Sometimes being an older woman at this moment in time can be a bit like one of those dreams in which you're running hard and yet not moving. On the one hand, we've come so far. On the other, there's always that fear of being dragged back to the bad old ways, in which the crust on our casseroles and the size of our breasts were how we were measured.

Most candidates who want the women's vote try to get it without ever really talking honestly about what it's like to be female in America. Instead there are cutesy labels: soccer moms, security moms, minimizing names for political Polly Pockets. Talk instead about equal pay, universal child care, reproductive rights, the women warriors in Iraq, the empty purses of the working class. This is a moment when you and yours will be tempted to run a race just like any other, slicing and dicing the country and then cherry-picking parts. Don't give in to the omnipresent fear of engaging in complexities. A man who can speak eloquently about all the ways in which women carry this country in their arms and all the ways government can help them do so would represent real change. For many American women, Hillary was their surrogate. You have a chance to be their champion. Don't blow it.

Slowing Down, Moving On

Went to IKEA the other day. Took the girls, had lunch (salmon, mmmm) and looked around.

And bought: Nothing. Not one thing.

Which means we are getting ready to go. This house is over; time to focus on the new one.

But I'm not buying stuff in anticipation of the new place, which I could be doing. Because we'll be doing some work - significant work - we are waiting.

It will be different than this move, where we moved into a house that was completely done; all we had to do was unpack and we were good to go. This time, we'll be moving into a place that is not even ready (with the exception of the living room and third-floor game roome and pool) - nearly every other room will be undergoing some sort of transformation, some big, some small.

Sounds like stress. But I'll have friends around to help with that part. We are ready.

Internet Pick-Ups

I got an anonymous post the other day. And rather than be annoyed - even though the poster was clearly not part of my political sphere - I confess: I loved it.

I love getting drop-ins. In my other blog group. I get tons of comments - at five or six every post. But I blog in a blog community, and people are always dropping in, saying hi, and we forge relationships. On this blog, which I allow friends and family to read, I get very few comments and have no read idea of who is reading.

So it's kind of fun when someone drops in uninvited. But welcome.

I confess, I check out blogs that others link. And I just discovered a new one, a very well written and edgy one. Naturally, I pop in to check out the musings. It's like stalking someone, reading about their day-to-day life, a life very different than my own, which lately involves kids and pets and kvetching about suburban nihilism.

Rapid segue:

Tonight we have tickets to the see the Astros play the LA Dodgers. My kids momentarily believed that the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn. Well, not really, but it came up in conversation. We apparently like to live in the past at times, ruminating about all the fun that was, way back when.

There will be fireworks after the game tonight. And we'll get to eat ballpark food, which is not so good for the piles of stuff in my freezer, especially as we are going out of town for the Fourth. I may have to haul a cooler with us to unload some of this stuff.

Blah, blah, blah. That's all I've got today!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

On hold ....

I am on hold .... I am calling to set up utilities in our new house - phone, cable, electricity, water, gas, you name. Thank goodness for the speaker phone.

People keep asking me if I'm packing. Don't be silly, I answer - I don't pack. I haven't packed to move since 1990. People who have never done this think that you must pack your most valuable items yourself. Or that the movers might enjoy looking at my unmentionables.

Well, let me tell you: The movers pack everything the same. One time, they were individually wrapping our plastic stadium cups. They can handle packing my china and crystal just fine - nothing has been broken yet. And they have better things to do than look at anything I might consider private - they generally don't unload all the dresser drawers, anyway.

We did have a Christmas item broken last time - it had been packed properly when we shipped it home from Germany, and I always re-packed it that way. For some reason, the packer (not the main guy, who was actually quite good, but his assistant - to be honest, I wouldn't guarantee he could read) took it upon himself to re-pack it. When we opened it the following Christmas, the Weihnachts Pyramide came out in pieces. But we got a check to pay us for damages. And it is made of wood, so we were abe to re-glue it. I'll just have to remember to remind the packers not to re-pack all our holiday items.

The stress level is actually pretty low around here. Why get all worked up now? We have done this nine times (can you believe it?). Survived every time.

And we are still married. I think that says something about us. Either we are very easy-going, very flexible ... or crazy.

You decide.