Thursday, November 29, 2018


For the past few years here, I have been the Family Hermit. 92% of my life involves one or more of my roommates.  Sometimes it's just the dog, but I have made this place a very comfortable Awkward Widow's nest.  

Since I quit the crazy one person HOA Board of Directors (I'm just not a very good puppet), I have moved myself to the background of condo living.  I'm friendly when I meet neighbors, and I'm neighborly when required.  A new(er) friend of mine, who has been clean and sober for 3 years, asked why I didn't accept invitations from friends and family.  I think I have a touch of social anxiety.  

Many of us know the feeling of being nervous or uncomfortable in a social situation.  Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is an anxiety disorder in which a person has an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations.  For me it is large groups where I know only one or two people ... and they have others to chat with.  My friend and I had a conversation about it and he gave me some good advice. He also struggled with it and learned if I continued to hide behind the uncomfortableness, many aspects of my life, not just the social, could start to fall apart. Kate also suggested that I was setting a bad example for the boys and soon they might want to stay home instead of being with their cousins and extended family.

The grandkids were SHOCKED when I told them I was coming to Thanksgiving this year.  (Part of my hesitancy is that Jesse's side of the family are hard drinkers and they used to pressure Kate and Jesse ... oh, just one won't hurt.  They are also "seat of the pants" when planning.  No one really knows who is doing what or where or what time.  In fact, we were an HOUR late as his Mom gave us the wrong time!)

I asked about the Christmas gathering and heard it direct from Jesse's Mom who is hosting (her).  Someone else told me about the $10 gift exchange.  Another cousin said bring an appetizer or dessert.

A former neighbor called to invite me to their church musical on December 1.  I explained I don't drive in the dark (and rain) any more so they are picking me up!  Me?  In a church?  Beware of lightning and thunder!!

Last but not least, I am hosting a dessert buffet Saturday, Dec 15 when the Christmas Ships drive past our complex on the Willamette River.  This tradition started in 1954 when a few boater friends lit up their boats and took friends for rides!  Now there are two fleets, one on the Columbia River and one on the Willamette.  Once or twice they join forces and on the 15th it is the big combo!  I have 26 people confirmed!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


Jesse is a remarkable man.  A good mate, a fabulous father and a great Mr. Mom.

When Deacon was born, they decided to have Jesse be the stay home Dad.  I was invited back when Braeden started Kindergarten.  Jesse doesn't drive and I was concerned about what would happen if he got sick or hurt at school.  The elementary school is about 2 miles away ... all uphill on the way there.  For the first few months, Momma would drop B at school before she went to work.  Jesse and baby Deacon would walk to pick him up at school and they would all walk home.  And then the cold rainy season began.  They decided to let him try taking the school bus.  He LOVES riding the bus.

Jesse does everything around the house.  The never-ending laundry.  It took YEARS for him to allow me to FOLD the clothes.  He hangs most everything except towels, pajamas, sox, jeans and underwear.  I cleaned out both dressers and labeled the drawers.  Now I can help by putting their clothes away and Braeden can find his own outfit and get dressed.  Deacon can almost do it all on his own.

Mr. Mom does 90% of the cooking!  And very healthy.  We go through 3 lbs of broccoli a week.  And carrots by the bushel.  Mr. B loves fruit but Deacon is down to just liking apples right now. We've had sweet potato pasta with herbed cream sauce.  Shepherd's pie.  Spaghetti marinara.  Breakfast for dinner.  Best fried rice ever. 

For years Mr. Mom would clean up the toys in the living room several times during the day.  Now the boys are trained to pick up Legos if they want to play soldiers.  Pick up the soldiers when they want to do art projects.  And so on.  I didn't think Deacon would EVER cooperate with picking up ... he was always "too tired to help, Dadda" or angry that he had to stop playing and have a meal.  I wasn't sure I'd live through his noisy flailing temper tantrums.  And then he turned 3.  Life is so much easier now.

Often the boys have a friend over.  Whenever it was clean up time, the friend would "have to go home".  Our boys were not happy.  Dadda stepped in and would ask the young chap what time he had to be home ... then would arrange clean up time ten minutes before!

Jesse sweeps the hardwood floors EVERY day at least once.  Vacuums every evening.  He does the dishes (very picky about loading).  I rinse mine and put them IN the dishwasher but he rearranges them every single time.

He prepares their beds each night while the boys are bathing, or reading with me, finding their favorite stuffed animals to put on their pillow.  Not always an easy task as Deacon learned early on to hide his Lambie which would stall bedtime for 15 minutes while the parents looked frantically (sometimes in the fridge, under furniture, behind books in the bookcase and once in the freezer!)  Gramma performed major surgery on Lambie and inserted a Tile that we can ring from our phones.

He lights candles every day, dims the lights in order to calm them down at dinner time.  While they eat, he goes outside to sweep the patio, blow the leaves, get the mail, whatever.  Empties the trash cans and does the recycling.  (He's training Mr. B to empty the recycle container into the proper bins).

They get plenty of physical exercise every day, rain or shine.  Ride bikes or scooters or go for a hike.  Walk to a favorite fishing spot even though they've only caught one fish.  When  conditions are really bad, he sets up an obstacle course in the clubhouse or they have a major Nerf gun battle.

The ultimate was just recent.  I visit some neighbors about once a week for wine and snacks and politics and gossip and ideas to change the world.  When I came home at 8pm, he had changed the sheets, made my bed, lit a candle and put a mint on my pillow.

My life is wonderful.

Thursday, November 22, 2018


Grandparents are in a great position to sit back and observe grandchildren.  The good and the bad.  I take my time making a decision whether or not to talk to the kidults about a situation.  Often it's a little bit of "advice" over a long period of time.  Sometimes, though, I must present what I feel should be done. We are a household of procrastinators.

Braeden just turned eight.  He still has a soft /r/ and he is embarrassed by not being able to pronounce it correctly.  He confided in me last summer when we were reading books.  He almost started crying ... "why can't I pronounce WORLD like everyone else?".  Man, I almost started crying.  I explained that children need to learn every single sound in our English language.  His Mom had a soft /r/ for a long time also.

I brought it up to the kidults and they Googled it and for a short time, would practice with him.  He told me he couldn't watch YouTube video exercises ... he just does better when someone is with him.  At the start of school, I heard from another Mom that her son was getting speech therapy AT SCHOOL at no charge.

Braeden's teacher this year is Ms. Orme.  He can't get that /r/ hard enough.  Right before they went to his parent teacher conference, I asked them to ask her if we should have therapy for him ... because he doesn't want to speak up in class "in case people laugh at me".  Oh, the teacher says yes, we have a speech pathologist on the District staff and we'll get him going right away.  Both the teacher and the therapist emailed her what would be happening.

That was in October.  Nothing has happened.  I had to force Kate to email the teacher AND the therapist today (Nov 15).  It's been over a month and they haven't even evaluated him yet!  By the time he gets a once a week session school will be out for the summer.   And we've lost another year!

If it doesn't start soon ... and maybe even if it does ... I'm going to get advice on using a pediatric speech pathologist and I will pay to get him some help.  And they will have to pay me back.

Maybe I should have pushed harder earlier.  Reading online made it sound like it wasn't a big issue until age 7.  Today while playing Legos with Deacon ... I discovered he usually says /r/ words perfectly.  (We practice Girls Rule and Boys Drool and then they love to make it the other way around, of course).

Now it will be rough on the big brother.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


The days here are getting shorter and shorter.  It is pitch black at 5:45 pm.  I have to shut my blinds and turn on all the lights in my Granny Pad to be able to not fall asleep at 7:30!

It’s also gotten COLD already. (This is when I think I shouldn’t sell my Maui cottage … and just live there 5-6 months a year!)  If I could just win the lottery …

Fortunately I have built in company, so I’m never at a lack for conversation.  But since I’ve been spending more time indoors, I finally hooked up Alexa in my room.

I was thinking about putting her in the living room but once you hear little boys asking her questions, you can see I made the right decision.  I doubt I’ll ever use her for very much (there is amazing potential), it’s nice to turn on some music or ask the weather or the headlines.  I might see if she can read me to sleep each night!  Or soothing music for 20-30 minutes.

They ask for jokes.  Poop jokes.  They ask her to fart.  She does.  They ask her to burp.  She does.  They ask for music.  Dance music or Michael Jackson music or relaxing music or elevator music. They come in at night to say Alexa, good night.  She always has something nice to say to them.

Braeden’s second grade class has access to iPads several times a week.  He came home one day so excited about a Math “game” that I promptly researched it online and then downloaded it on my phone and we played it for over half an hour.  It was hard for me to see the game on the iPhone (over his shoulder), so I broke down and bought an iPad for me!  I had given Mr. Ralph’s old one to Jesse when I returned as I prefer a real keyboard. 

They sure have gone down in cost since we bought one for Mr. Ralph.  This one is wifi only so no monthly cost.  (In fact, I have made all devices except cell phones wifi only).  Before we know it, iPads will be mandatory in elementary school!  Even Deacon knows his way around.  (I had to remove YouTube on my devices as it allows inappropriate videos, he doesn’t like YouTube Kids … dat’s for babies, Gramma.) 

And I have so much to learn with Siri!  Since she was invented to work well with Apple products,  she has access to my address book, I can ask her when someone's birthday is.  Or an address while I'm writing the envelope.  I need to use her more for writing emails and texts.

Or maybe this blog!

Thursday, November 15, 2018


I made these for dinner before trick or treat time

I ran out of time to make these

I ended up cutting biscuit dough in strips 
and adding a smoked almond finger nail

Filled these with mac n cheese.  
B dumped out the mac n cheese and ate the pepper!

I've made several variations of a turkey.  This is my favorite!

Thank goodness for Disney!  So easy to make Olaf.

I've only made these ONCE.  Very time consuming!!

I've made these lots of times!

This one is soooo easy!

 Black sesame seeds for the spots.  They fell off pretty easy

I used a curled green onion strip for the tail.

Who says you can't play with your food!??

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


You just gotta love Facebook.  If someone disagrees with your take on things, just call them names!  That'll show them!!  While I have not done a scientific study, it seems to me that the people DOING the name calling are often describing themselves.

Yesterday I was called ALL three of these things ... all from the same person.  Although this time, NOT on Facebook!

Some common signs of passive-aggressive behavior include:
  • bitterness and hostility toward other peoples’ requests
  • intentionally delaying or making mistakes when dealing with other peoples’ requests
  • having a cynical, pessimistic, or aggressive demeanor
  • frequently complaining about feeling under-appreciated or deceived
  • Science does not yet call this a mental condition although it seems to go hand in hand with some illnesses.

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.  Most of the time people just throw out this term when your mood is opposite to theirs.  If I'm having a good day and  Susie's day started off wrong the moment she got out of bed, I'm bipolar.  Since I've been on the wrong side of the bed before, I think today I am just lucky!

For people who have had this illness diagnosed, it seems like antidepressant medication can keep it under control.  The trouble with this disease is often people stop taking their medicine because they "feel better”.

Some signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder
  • Sense of self-importance. ...
  • Lives in a fantasy world that supports their delusions of grandeur. ...
  • Needs constant praise and admiration. ...
  • Sense of entitlement. ...
  • Exploits others without guilt or shame. ...
  • Frequently demeans, intimidates, bullies, or belittles others.
I just happen to think the person who called me all of these, is going through an EXTRA unhappy phase (think Eeyore)  Said person can complain about a sunny day!

It may seem hard to believe, but I think there is a lot of truth behind the idea that happiness is a choice. Even though genetics and life circumstances play a role in happiness, you do have control over a lot of it. If you bring consciousness, gratitude and even frivolity to your day, you'll likely feel more joyful. So, just how can you do that?

Try these five ways to boost your level of happiness:

Reconnect with what brings you joy. From throwing around a baseball to taking art classes, everyone has activities they used to enjoy. Perhaps a busy schedule or aging body got you out of the habit or made you feel like you should quit. Regardless of the reason you stopped, give those fun activities a try again. Reconnecting with what you love to do is a simple way to increase your joy.

Get in the zone. Have you ever been so involved in something that time seems to stand still and your concerns seem to disappear? This is called being in a state of flow. It's a state of complete engagement in the task at hand, and it can boost your happiness. Playing a musical instrument and getting lost in a good book are examples of how you can get into the flow.

Find novelty in everyday life. Your brain is attracted to things that are new or novel. When you are paying attention to something new, you are focused on the present moment, which can boost feelings of happiness. Engage your brain by finding something new or seeing something in a new way. You don't have to go bungee jumping off the Eiffel Tower. Start with something small, such as looking up at the clouds. Although the clouds aren't new, each cloud is different, and be honest, when is the last time you did this?

Put yourself first. There will always be something you "should" be doing. That to-do list will never end. It's up to you to find balance. If you keep a calendar, add something at least once a week that's just for you. Let your family know that this is a priority, so you don't risk canceling as soon as something else pops up. It can be as simple as spending an hour at the library.  Or buying a tiny bouquet of flowers for your night stand.

Immerse yourself in nature. Spending time in nature can reduce stress and increase feelings of vitality, awe, gratitude and compassion. The natural world helps remind people that they are but small beings on this planet and gives them a greater sense of the whole. Nature nurtures and restores. It is one of the greatest resources for happiness.

Walking around, in or out, helps get your heart pumping and your body secreting cortisol ... the anti stress hormone!



Thursday, November 8, 2018


Well, by now people are screaming and yelling and calling foul.  Whichever way the voting went in your area.  I guess it is good that more people are involved in voting.  Each vote DOES count.  I've always voted .... even while living in California and we had to go to a voting place AFTER getting off work and commuting 90 minutes home.

I'm going to try to counteract all the negative stuff going on with a story of brotherly love.

On Thursday, Deacon's preK class held a potluck Fiesta to celebrate the Day of the Dead.  They recited a little poem and did a Mexican hat dance and sang a song, all in front of their families.

I drove over to pick up Braeden at his school (instead of him taking the bus) and we got to the preschool about 10 minutes early.  He was acting a little surly and he'd rather be playing outside (it was sunny and nice!) than spending it with little kids.

Deacon's class (of 9) were outside on their little playground.  As soon as he saw his brother get out of the minivan ... he came running over to the fence screaming "my brubba, my brubba!  Hey guys, come meet my super cool brubba!"

All the other children came running over.  Braeden's chest swelled.  After they went inside to wash hands and get ready, he searched all over my car for a hat and sunglasses ... to build on the super coolness.  He tried to feign disinterest in these "little kids" but soon was up and playing with them and the fun stuff.  He is an alumni and remembered so many of items and dress up clothes from his day.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


In 1952 on May 1, I arrived into this world.  May Day, May Day!  Besides being a great birthday, it is also celebrated in many countries as a traditional springtime festival or as an international day honoring workers  (My husband used to send my Mom flowers on my birthday!)  So far, it's been an interesting journey.

One thing I have trouble with is using politically correct "PC" verbiage.  For the first 40 years of my life, I referred to black people as black people.  Then it was corrected to Afro American.  Now it seems to be black again.  In fact, different groups of this ethnicity call themselves black or African American.  So really, I have to check my audience before I speak.

Unfortunately, I often can't distinguish some Asian races from another.  I used to say Oriental to incorporate all people of Asia.  WRONG.  Must now say Asian so as not to offend someone. 

I don't ask people to call me German American.  Heck, I'm okay with being called "hey you".  So often I hear now, mostly from a younger generation, is that I am White Privilege (said with disdain).  Through no fault of MY own.  My objection to how the term “white privilege” is being used is that it is not intended to try and educate people about real injustices that blacks (or other ethnicities) have historically faced and continue to face currently, but instead it is intended to shame them for their whiteness .... which is problematic. 

The problem isn’t whiteness. The problem is racism and racists. People can’t help being born white any more than black people can help being born black. Judging people based upon their race and assuming negative characteristics because of a person’s race is racism, regardless of who is doing the judging.

My next hot button is everything should be FREE.  It's hard to explain to some people that nothing is free.  While it may be free for you ... someone else's taxes are paying for it.  The cries of "well, Sweden provides over one year of paid parental leave" and many other FREE family friendly assistance.  Their tax rate of 62% ... THAT is what pays for all their free stuff.  Because nothing is free.  Their traffic violations are not just a set  "$100 for speeding" ... it's a percentage of your income!  Yes!  Could be tens of thousands of dollars.

There are so many other terms that mean practically the total opposite of my understanding.  When I look them up in the dictionary, it gives many uses but the FB world screams at me when I am using it MY way and not theirs.

There are so many people on Facebook that say the most vile things, screaming "not my President", reposting misinformation (and when it is pointed out to them, they so "Oh, I didn't know" but do not take down the post) and blaming others for everything that is wrong in the world

I really should just take a break from Facebook and look once a week.  For children and grandchildren and kittens and puppies and recipes.

Thursday, November 1, 2018


WARNING:  This is not a dinner conversation kind of blog.  It’s an intimate and embarrassing topic for women and their doctors.  I have lichen sclerosus.

Lichen sclerosus (LIE-kun skluh-ROW-sus) is an uncommon condition that creates patchy, white skin that appears thinner than normal. It usually affects the genital and anal areas.

Anyone can get lichen sclerosus but postmenopausal women are at higher risk.   People with lichen sclerosus are also at an increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the affected area.

For the past few years, I’ve been itchy and often a bit smelly down there.  I’ve gone to the doctor thinking it was a yeast infection or bladder infection or some such.  Treatment seemed to work for a bit, but this always returned.  It started in Maui so I thought it was due to the heat and sweat and often changed the 100% cotton panties two or three times a day.  To no avail.

This summer it was time for the PAP and general check up in the nether regions.  Lucky for me there was a new Nurse Practitioner at my Doctor’s office who listened to my mild complaints of itching and odor.  Lichen sclerosus. WHAT?  I’d never heard of such a thing and it sounded scary!  Lichen?  Doesn’t that grow on trees?

Lichen sclerosis is a skin condition that exists in an inconvenient gray area between dermatology and gynecology; it isn’t heavily studied.  She prescribed meds for an infection (just to be on the safe side).  She recommended Dove soap for sensitive skin or Cetaphil cleanser.  She also had me use over the counter cortisone cream on the affected area.  The tube says “never apply to genital area” and I had to call her office to ask if I wrote down her recommendation correctly. 

After about a month of that, the itching wasn’t as bad but still noticeable.  She had to do a vulvar biopsy to assure her diagnosis (ouch!).  Next phase of attack was a prescription corticosteroid  cream. 

My pharmacy did not have a generic so my copay was $120!

The following day I received an email from Icon Undies on this very topic!  If I had been diagnosed earlier, I wouldn’t have as many of the gruesome side effects.  75% of patients have permanent scarring or phimosis (yeh, look that one up!  Fusing of the skin around the clitoris).  Another visual diagnosis was “loss of architecture of the labia minor”.  Which means they are disappearing!

It’s a shocking diagnosis and embarrassing to discuss.  But I wish someone had mentioned it to me a few years ago.