August 2010


Now who could argue with the necessity to eat a properly balanced diet? It is essential to healthy living and maintaining a proper weight.

I don’t really care all that much about being healthy, but I do want to maintain a proper weight. I would first have to achieve the proper weight and then I could maintain it.

I really don’t have that much of a problem getting up and out the door first thing in the morning. I can get up and go on my walk without feeling like the world is coming to an end.

But eating right is a whole different ball game. I love chocolate. And potato chips. And all foods that are high in calories it would seem. I know I should eat more fruits and vegetables, but I only really like them fried.

I realize the exercise is important, but the old pyramid was actually about food, as the title suggested

I would so much rather have a bowl of potato chips than a baked potato.

And while I love cherries, I would love them even more in a pie or cobbler. Same with blueberries. Bananas are good by themselves, but taste even better in a bread with walnuts and cinnamon added. Then smothered in butter.

Today, I got myself out the door within ten minutes of waking up. I walked and got home and got ready for work.

There was a seminar at work today. They had Subway trays and so after the seminar, I was told to help myself to a sandwich and so I did. Ham and salami on wheat with onions, tomatoes, and mustard added. And a cookie, of course. I mean, I couldn’t pass up a cookie.

I had already eaten my yogurt and had a bit of dried fruit (I did replace my bowl of M&Ms with a bowl of dried fruit – cherries, cranberries, and blueberries). And I had a few potato chips as I have a can of either Pringles or Lay stacks, I don’t remember which, at my desk. But I only had less than a serving size and so I didn’t do too bad.

Then I came home and instead of eating something real, I sat down with a bag of chips and the AARP paper that came in the mail today. I have no idea how many chips I had, but I know it was too much.

But since they are really just junk food, I had too many calories, but not enough real food. I did buy another bag of cherries and I’ve had some of those. I have eaten more than enough calories, but I have not had anything resembling dinner, yet.

No telling what else I will get into on the food front here. I have such a wonderful assortment of food, and sometimes that is not a problem. I just last night finished off the yogurt covered pretend turtles I bought at Sprouts while visiting my sister in Arizona this past July. I haven’t eaten more than a few of the chocolate covered dried cherries. They will last me a long time.

I can manage to eat just one or two pieces of candy. I can’t manage to eat just a handful of chips. I could, really, if I had actually gotten out a bowl and limited my intake that way. But I didn’t. I sat down with the bag. That had to be the dumbest thing I did all day. So considering all the other dumb things I could have done, I guess it isn’t too bad. But knowing as much as I know about eating right and limiting portions, you would think I would manage an after work snack.

I am stuck living with an HOA because I was stupid a second time. I knew I was stupid as I was buying the house, but with job transfers, moving isn’t an option after you have already said you would move.

That, and I needed to be on a golf course. And so, I live with an HOA which is nothing more than a group of self important power hungry idiots who can’t manage their way out of a cul de sac who now get to tell me what to do.

The only people who actually benefit from the whole HOA scam are the Management Companies who take a huge cut off the top so they can screw with us. They don’t actually do anything quite useful, but they do bother the living hell out of the residents. They have their list of rules that CANNOT be AMENDED, but somehow can be added to at their whim.

I’m not the only person who dislikes HOAs. In fact, only insane people actually like HOAs, if my assessments are correct.

The whole purpose of this was to protect the value of my home. I think any and all HOA institutions who did not manage to protect the values of the homes in the last five years should have to pay restitution to the home owners who were so sorely used, and then disband and be relegated to the trash heap where they belong.

My home lost value in the last five years. Everybody’s homes have lost value. That means HOAs have been proven to be nothing more than scams. They have failed to live up to their stated purpose.

I would like to offer Congress a chance to do something meaningful rather than just keep raising my taxes. They could outlaw HOAs completely. Disband them. Get rid of them. Let private property owners once again own their property.

If only this were true

I found a link to the top seven insane HOA rules.

1. Thou shalt not plant too many roses – some guy in California lived on four acres and had over 14 rose bushes. He fought the HOA, they won and he ended up not only losing his case, but his house.

2. Thou shalt not use “inconsistent” shingles — even after a plane destroys thy house – a man who lost his wife and child when a plane crashed into his house, tried to rebuild. The HOA was against it because he didn’t place the house in the proper spot and horror of horrors, his roofing shingles didn’t match the neighbors’ houses.

3. Thou shalt not post a “For Sale” sign – my own HOA has this rule because if anything lowers your property values, it is having For Sale signs in the yards. It is much better to have houses that have been foreclosed and sit empty with weeds growing in the yards.

4. Thou shalt not offer thy homeless granddaughter shelter – I had read about this one before. Grandparents got custody of their grandchild and the senior community wanted her out. The grandparents couldn’t sell their house even after lowering the price from $250,000 to $129,000. The child is back to being in the care of the courts. I hope these HOA people sleep well [sarcasm font missing].

5. Thou must carry thy dog at all times – a woman who walks with a cane was fined $25 each time her cocker spaniel walked through the community lobby, which she needed to do to get to her condo. The woman was forced to move because her pet’s feet weren’t allowed on the floor, just in case the dog peed. Not that it did, mind you, but it might. I think if I was this woman, I would have peed on the floor myself as I was moving out.

6. No smoking — even in thy own bathroom – really? Not even in your own house? Well, that second hand smoke is some powerful stuff. I wonder if anyone drives a car in the area because that carbon monoxide is just plain safe. And diesel engines, those are really nice.

7. Thou shall maintain a consistently green lawn – some guy got in a whole lot of trouble because he couldn’t replace his sod after his house payment went up $600/mo. Now, he really shouldn’t have had that type of mortgage, but he did. Again, a foreclosed sign would have helped this in what way?

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It is my assessment that HOAs are actually hurting the value of my home. Anyone in their right mind would think sixteen times before buying into a community where a bunch of idiots get to tell them not only what can go on in their yard, but what can happen inside their house. So I’m going to have a tougher time selling this (well, the kids will after I’m gone) because no one wants to hand over all their rights just so their house value tanks along with the rest of the country.

Last weekend I bought several yards of different colored fabric so I could make myself some plain colored skirts in something other than black. I have actually found plain colors in navy blue, gray, and brown but I want some different colors. It hasn’t been easy.

So I decided I was just going to have to make my own.

I got pale purple, pink, pale green, denim, brown, and buttery butterscotch along with two different patterns and eight styles of skirts. I was appalled at what size pattern I’m having to cut out. I realize the clothing business changed the sizes for us all so we wouldn’t notice we were getting fatter. Pattern manufacturers didn’t change a thing.

Sizes are guides but what you really need to do is look at the inches in the measurement portion. So, the latest clothes I purchased were a size eight. But the patterns I’m sewing will be size 14. Just yuck.

I asked Dick to bring the sewing machine downstairs for me because it is heavy and clunky. It is also very old. I bought it used when Joe was little, or maybe even when Craig was that little. It is at least 30 years old, probably older.

Did I mention heavy? Takes two hands for me to lift it. It has a flat sewing base. It does sew zigzag stitches and has a setting for sewing knits.

On Wednesday, I finally got around to using the fabric and was ready to sew. I went upstairs and looked for my sewing basket because there are electric scissors in there. I couldn’t find it. I’m not even quite sure of what I’m looking for. I had this round red and white sewing basket since I got the sewing machine, but I believe I may have replaced that, but I don’t know with what.

I could live without the electric scissors, but I really, really needed the zipper foot. And the attachments are in the sewing basket, too. Dick was nice enough to go into the hot attic and see if the sewing basket was in with the Christmas decorations. It wasn’t. I’m unsure where else to look for the dang thing.

But more than that, I would really like a lighter weight machine. One with a removable portion of the sewing surface so I can sew small things and sleeves easier. One that isn’t over three decades old.

Because who doesn't have two machines? Can you guess which is the old and which is the new?

So, on Thursday after work, I stopped as Sears and picked one up. Next issue, would it fit in the trunk of a Miata? Yes, it would. It is light enough to pick up with one hand. It doesn’t have a whole lot of fancy stitches because I don’t need or want that. It theoretically makes buttonholes without my having to swear at it. The removable arm opens to store the other parts of the machine so I can’t lose them again.

It is also supposed to thread itself which is really great because with my poor eyesight, I have a terrible time trying to thread a needle.

My plan is finish off this, and then go and learn how to use my new sewing machine. I have the purple skirt cut out and ready to begin (because if it is the wrong size, this is the one I care the least about having). I hope it works and I can actually wear the skirt. If so, I also found some older material upstairs while I was looking for the sewing basket. The last thing I made for myself, I made by the size and it didn’t fit at all and so I got mad and stopped even worrying about it.

But I have some really cute material and if I don’t want to sew for me, maybe I can make Frankie and Morgan matching skirts or something. I might even be able to make matching skirts for a girl and her doll. That might be a fun Christmas present. I suppose I could do so many things. All I really need to do is get offline and get busy.

But I still want to find the electric scissors.

This piece is going to be very much lacking in research. I’m going to mention an article I read on Examiner.com, but it is from one of my respected sources. I did not, however, be a good girl and click on any referencing links. I’m just going to spout my opinion regarding the small thing I read.

Here goes. (If you don’t like my opinion, feel free to form your own.)

Some airlines are thinking of having a children section where parents with children will be given their own place to sit all together, leaving the rest of the plane a non-children section. They asked flyers what they thought about this.

Who should sit where?

All the old farts, like me, liked the idea, like me. I would love to have all the children in one place and me as far away from wherever that place is as is possible. Adults without children were totally thrilled with this idea.

Adults with children but not traveling with them were mixed. They were less enthusiastic in their agreement with the idea.

Adults flying with children were the least likely to like it. In fact, if it had been a poll on Facebook, they would have been looking for the [dislike] button.

People with screaming brats didn’t want to sit near others with screaming brats because one screaming brat might make the other screaming brat scream along in sympathy or concert or something.

What? You have a screamer – and if you don’t, your kid isn’t going to just start screaming because someone else is screaming – and so you don’t want to have to listen to it?

I have no idea what the ages for the children section would be but I have a perfect test ground for children unable to sit still, be still, not scream, not run, and behave in a more adult, less childish manner.

Yes, the bus stop in my drive way would make a great scientific study. The high school kids wait nearly silent, partly due to the early hour of the bus pick up, but even if they are engaged in activity, the most they do is stand and talk to each other.

The junior high kids always talk to each other, a bit more animatedly. They are the latest group to be picked up and are more awake. But they simply stand in a group and talk.

The grade school kids, kindergarten through fifth grade, never stand still. They run. They scream. They  squeal. They chase. They were slamming into my garage door today as they ran up the driveway and the two parents there did nothing. When I looked with my frowny face – aka ‘mean mother face’ – the father said, “It’s like herding cats.”

Well, I don’t want to sit next to a squalling, caged, hissing cat on a plane, either.

It doesn’t matter what the mix of kids are at my bus stop. The above pattern has always held true. So it isn’t that I have one hyper kid in the grade school group that is setting all the others off. What I have is kids who love to run and chase and play. They can’t do it at home because of the dreaded fear of ‘something happening’ so they are kept indoors playing video games after school. There has to be an outlet for all this energy and I guess it is better in my driveway rather than in their respective classrooms. I think the teachers should send me a thank you note.

But back to the plane. If you have a well behaved child and are ‘trapped’ in the child section hell, perhaps you can give some parenting tips to the parent of the person who is totally out of control.

If there is a child kicking the seat back behind you, maybe you will be more tolerant and less likely to turn around and either slap the kid or his/her parent. Or both.

If your child is the out of control person, you will be surrounded by what is apparently a more tolerant group, but I rather doubt that. If you have an out of control child, you and your child are being a bother to the rest of the plane.

Most passengers will understand an infant’s cries. They might not understand why in the hell you had to bring an infant on a plane, but they understand the baby isn’t either in control or controllable.

If you have a toddler who is acting up, we all know this is a gray area. However, it is up to you as the person bringing the kid on board, to bring enough snacks, drinks, and entertainment to keep the kid from being both a pest and an actual danger to the rest of the passengers.

If you have a child with special needs, please be aware that the rest of the plane (and the rest of the world) is sympathetic, but we are not responsible. If your child with special needs is going to grow up in the current world, you and your child need to learn the best way for him/her to cope with the world. The world was here first and isn’t likely to change. Learning to be in the world is the task for every child, special needs or not. If your child is unable to cope with a contained space for fifteen minutes, then it is up to you as the parent to figure out something to do other than punish the rest of the plane. We had no choice as to who was on the plane, but you have a choice as to whether or not to torture your child in this manner.

Perhaps rather than have a children only space, they should have a senior citizen space. You have to be a certain age to sit there. You can’t be there unless you are an old curmudgeonly person. That would keep the kids out, but make it look only like we were keeping the crabby people in. Language is everything.

When the first printing press came on the market, it was still quite difficult to produce a book. Ink was expensive, paper was expensive, and the whole process didn’t have much of a market since most of the unwashed masses were illiterate.

Things have changed. While ink is still expensive (just look at the price per gallon of your printer’s ink cartridges), paper is cheap. And most of the unwashed masses in the civilized world can now read. One hopes that last part is true.

Paper intrigues me. It is where the printed word shows up – unless it shows up here on my beloved computer screen. But usually, the print is on paper.

At work, I have an array of paper. I have individualized letterhead for both bosses. I have watermark paper. I have something called “cloud paper” at least by us with a company logo and a pretty background of blue skies and white wispy clouds. Then there is the regular printer paper. And I have several different plain colors of printer paper. I also have some card stock.

Then I have some legal pads, large and small, on which to write notes and I have note pads, Post-It notes in a variety of shapes and colors. I have large, medium, and small envelopes, too. They are all printed with return addresses, the small are personalized.

Then there are cards to send out: blank for any occasion and printed for special occasions. And post cards, some stamped with a company logo used for appointment reminders. As I sit here and picture my office, I think I have covered all the paper. Of course, there is all the used up paper, filing cabinets full of files, preprinted educational materials, and books and magazines, too.

That’s the paper at work.

SOME of my patterned paper. Tons more where that came from. No scrapbooking supplies included.

Here at home, I have all that, except the personalized letterhead stuff, well, I still have some of Dad’s personalized letterhead the grandkids use to draw on, but I don’t have any of my own. I even have some high quality watermarked paper here. I have more notepads in more varieties of shapes, patterns, and colors. I have more note cards, too. I have them in a variety of colors and sizes.

But the part of my paper supply that puts the office to shame is my patterned printer paper. Each year for Christmas, I buy some paper to print out my yearly letter. I have more paper than letters, so I accumulate more as the years go by. I don’t have half the paper left, so I don’t have enough for another run of letters and I usually format the letter itself to accommodate the pattern on the paper. So my drawer just keeps getting more patterns of paper.

I have lots and lots of pretty paper: wine and cheese, golf ball teed up, currencies, beach, sunset, trees, daisies, dragonflies, coffee, and a variety of colors with patterns included. Then I have bright colored paper and pastel colored paper, and earth toned paper.

But that doesn’t even touch the amount of paper I have for scrapbooking. I have hundreds and hundreds of sheets of 12 x 12 paper. And then I have some 6 x 6 paper that I use for accents. And then I have paper that I buy by the pound to use for more accents. And I have pre-printed and ready to punch out pages full of more accents. I just bought two 4 x 6 printed paper for more accenting stuff since they were half priced and that meant I was only buying one. Sorta.

I also have loose leaf paper purchased when my kids were in school. Please note, the baby graduated from high school in 1997.  I have a stash of legal notepads, both sizes, and then I have a stack of spiral bound note books. Each school year starts with a sale on supplies and they can be bought for as little as a dime. I think I have a dollar’s worth. At least.

I also have photo paper (which is great for printing out small pictures for the scrapbooking accents) and address labels, return address labels, and business cards to print. I actually have the mailing labels at work, too. But didn’t think of it until just now.

I use almost exclusively (except for my Christmas letter) white paper to print. I do use the scrapbooking supplies, but I can safely say I have enough for years to come – this will not stop me from buying more, however.

I have no idea what to do with all this pretty paper I have bought over the years. I do use some of it while printing out captions while I scrapbook – something I learned to do to make the books look better than anything I can generate by hand writing things out.

But quite frankly, I like all the paper. In times gone by, it would have been a sign of prestige and possibly even wealth. And in my mind, it still might be.

On Monday, I ate the last of the potato chips. I finished off the bag and it was gone. How sad. They were great while they lasted.

I used to sit with an entire bag of chips, eating mindlessly, while the other hand held a book. I also used to play lots of racquetball, so this didn’t affect my bottom line, as it were. I love potato chips. I love plain, ruffled, BBQ, and sour cream and chive. I don’t care for other flavors. But the ones I like, I like a lot. And eat a lot.

This meant on Tuesday I had no potato chips. I am going to the grocery store today so I didn’t stop for chips yesterday. I mean really, I can go one night without potato chips, I’m not that addicted.

Big Grab bag of chips - 1.5 ounces. Didn't these used to be 2.5 ounces?

But last night, I was looking for something salty to eat and I peered into the cupboard where the potato chips live. Lo and behold, a HUGE bag of chips was there hiding behind the Crockpot. (I have a small kitchen and things are jumbled together. It isn’t perfect, but it works.)

This bag is just a regular Lay’s Potato Chips with a large Pick Any 2 across the top because I got them at Sam’s Club. They are the super-duper large bags of chips. They are 15 ½ ounces.

I used to get one pound bag of chips all the time. For those of you who are math challenged, that is 16 ounces. That was the regular bag of chips. Now, the large bags are smaller.

I noticed my three pound can (now plastic with a really nice handle) of coffee is much smaller. It is, in fact, 33 ounces. Math lesson: three times sixteen equals forty-eight. My three pound can of coffee is fifteen ounces – or nearly one large bag of potato chips – under weight.

My one pound can of coffee, also in plastic, is 11.5 ounces. That is 4.5 ounces short of a pound.

I guess we simply have price points and we won’t buy something if the price is too high. So the makers leave the price the same and just have less product in the package. The price does remain the same, however the price per unit goes drastically up. If coffee is $6.99 for the large canister and that canister holds 33 ounces, the coffee is twenty-one cents per ounce. However, if the canister holds 48 ounces, the coffee is fourteen-and-a-half cents per ounce.

I really can’t complain about paying twenty-one cents per ounce of coffee. It seems just fine when you put it like that. But I’m not sure how happy I would be paying $10.08 for a can of coffee, the price of three whole pounds worth at the $0.21/ounce price.

Maybe putting a two pound can and a three pound can next to each other, and having one at $6.99 and the other at $9.99 would sway me. I’m drinking the same amount of coffee no matter what and perhaps buying it in larger containers would be easier. I don’t really know. I do wait for it to go on sale before I buy it anyway.

Are we really that gullible? Are we really that mesmerized by the package’s contents that we don’t notice how small the package is getting? It is incremental. The coffee companies didn’t go from 48 ounces to 33 ounces all at once. They shaved off a couple ounces here and a few more there and over the span of time, we ended up with 2 pounds and 1 ounce of coffee in our 3 pound cans.

I believe a normal size bag of chips holds about 11 ounces today, unless it is even less. I don’t know, as I only have this extra large bag here.

I guess I should be grateful on the chip front. I do eat fewer chips than if I had the whole pound bags. Just think how much walking I would have to do if they didn’t come in smaller bags.

My walk this morning was beautiful. Great weather, beautiful things to see. All in all, a great walk.

But it ended badly.

Our neighbors across the street have been in their house only slightly less time than we have been in ours. They have been married even longer than Dick and me.

Dick and Bob golf together (along with many of the other men in the area). The wives know each other and we all socialize. We have house parties. We go to New Year’s Eve together. We go out to an occasional breakfast after the guys finish golfing.

Tree of Life

Last fall, Joann was diagnosed with cancer. She underwent a variety of treatments and seemed to be doing very well. The original cancer was in remission and she was last seen at another of the neighborhood parties.

She felt so good, she and Bob had opted to host the next get together. It was scheduled for this past weekend.

But instead, she was taken ill again. She went to the hospital only to find the cancer had spread. It had invaded other systems and she was kept as comfortable as modern medicine can manage.

Bob was outside as I neared the house and I stopped to see if there was anything I could do. Joann died this morning. He was with her, unable to stop the eroding disease. He was unable to do the one thing he most wanted to do. Keep his beloved wife.

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