Thursday, November 30, 2006

Unemployment Guilt Made Me Do It!

...Well, unemployment guilt and an impending mother-in-law visit (she'll be here next month). And the fact that we all just kept shoving food into the fridge, pushing harder and harder -- with an ever-bigger anticipatory cringe, wondering what we're about to spill -- until we could push no further. Somehow we've all been able to ignore spilled blueberry syrup, pear nectar and catsup. Actually, truth be told, *I* was able to ignore it; the rest of family probably wouldn't see it if it flew up their noses.

But today, a good refridgerator cleaning was in order. Yes, I took every last morsel of food out of both the fridge and the freezer, wiped all surfaces with hot, soapy water, cleaned the drawers and shelves, tossed the fuzzy, unrecognizable creatures, and put it all back... only to anticipate/dread the same event next year.

I'd say next month, but you might as well know the real me. Sorry!

Tomorrow (after a follow-up phone call to my "skyscraper interview") I think I'll attack the linen closet. You don't want a picture of that, too, do you?!

Yeah, I'm thinking the same thing you are: "That woman needs a JOB!"

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Feedback Required! (OK, Graciously Requested?!)

Good morning, faithful readers! (All six of you...)

Lookie what I got for my birthday! I've been at it for about two hours now and I've selected and uploaded maybe 150 songs. That's about a gazillionth of the capacity of this gem!

At first, I was searching for music at a frenetic clip, fast and furious, entering all my favorite artists and eagerly watching the file expand. Kid in a candy store definitely comes to mind...!

But it's very late and my mind has gone blank and turned to mush... and I can't think of my gazillion other favorite artists! And that's where you come in.

Can you recommend a song or five for me? I'd love to discover some new tunes! What kind of music do I like, you ask? Well, here's a small sampling of the artists I've downloaded so far tonight:

  • Jack Johnson
  • Ben Folds
  • Dixie Chicks
  • Evanescence
  • The Eagles
  • Stamitz
  • Death Cab for Cutie
  • Mozart
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Billy Joel

So... what else should I put onto my new toy?

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Gaggle of Kitty Cats

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Facing It

So I just changed my masthead description from "approaching the Big 5-0" to "just hit the Big 5-0." I knew I'd have to do it eventually... and actually, it wasn't as horrendous as I'd feared. (OK, Tom's right -- I am dramatic!)

What's really bothering me right now is that I had to postpone my massage and facial till next Monday because of the snow and ice, so today will be spent like any other -- looking for a job, cleaning toilets and sinks and maybe finishing a few scrapbook pages.

I think we should just forget the whole Big Day thing and move on. Jeeeze, it's just another day! Do I think I deserve a medal or something?! I should stop sulking and grow up already!

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Today is Dedicated to Mom

Fifty years ago today, when she was young and strong and vibrant, my mother birthed me, probably in much the same way that she climbed the Alps in her homeland of Bavaria, Germany: with determination and resolve... and hopefully with some of the joy that comes with new adventure.
And what an adventure it's been!

Thanks, Mom. I miss you. I love you.

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Snow and Ice Bring Seattle to a Stand-Still

I don't think anyone predicted how sudden and severe this storm would be.

At about noon yesterday, Elisabeth and I decided to head into town for lunch and a few errands. Although there had been some snow and more was predicted, the weather when we left was clear, cool and non-threatening. As we sat in the restaurant, the snow began coming down, gently at first and then quickly becoming more and more dramatic. I mentioned something about hurrying and she razzed me for being a scardy-cat and worrying about "a few snowflakes." Admittedly, I'm a California girl who has never really learned to drive in snow -- and certainly not on ice!

As we left the restaurant (Q-doba, our favorite Mexican grill), the plan was to head across the street to get some German stollen at World Market (which we tore into in the parking lot in order to send some home with her), and then she'd head to Seattle across the 520 bridge and I'd quickly pick up a few scrapbooking supplies at Target before I headed home. There are no windows in Target, so I immersed myself in shopping bliss, completely oblivious to what was happening outside. When I stepped out about a half-hour later, I was struck immediately by how cold it had suddenly become and how thick the snow was, both on the ground and falling from the sky.

I was driving the Honda Accord that we bought in April, so I had no idea how it (or rather, its tires?) would handle in winter conditions. I assumed that, being a Honda, it would perform beautifully. Wrong! Even before I left the Target parking lot, I was slipping and sliding -- and scared! I was immediately greeted by gridlock on a street that rarely has many cars on it. Assuming there was an accident ahead, I took a circuitous route... and was greeted by more gridlock -- and more sliding! I called Tom's cell, but it rang and rang -- and really, what could he do for me, anyway? I called Kat and Aleks and told them to stay home and not to even consider going anywhere in "these blizzardy conditions," but they thought I was nuts because at home, just five miles away, it was dry and clear.

Somehow over the next hour I managed to make it up the two main hills without mishap and from there I literally inched my way home. Lo and behold, about a half-mile from our house, I drove out of the blizzard and into clear skies and dry roads! But the storm had followed me and within 10 minutes of arriving home the snow was falling fast and furiously. It was only after I walked into the house that I felt a cramp come on and I realized that I had been tensing my left leg for a solid hour!

At home, I managed to get a hold of Tom on his office phone (he had forgotten his cell that morning -- turned out to be a very bad move...) and told him about my dramatic adventure on the roads, imploring him to leave work immediately and head home. I tend to be dramatic anyway, though, and Tom knows it, so he assumed I was being my dramatic self (especially since he had just been to the gym across the street from Target a few hours before, and all was clear), and he insisted on staying at work. As the snow continued to dump and the temperatures continued to plummet, I called Tom back three more times, each time begging him to head home. Damn my normal drama; he didn't beleive me and thought I was "being cute."

Suffice it to say that he should have listened to me! Tom's adventures are chronicled in my previous post... and he's one of the very lucky ones! When we watched the news at 11:00 (after watching the final episode of The Bachelor -- dang-it Lorenzo, you chose the wrong girl!), the ice-slicked freeways were still completely gridlocked and people were abandoning their cars left and right, and just walking to the nearest hotel or restaurant -- or just heading in the general direction of their homes, as Tom had done.

The challenge this morning seems to be removing all those abandoned cars on the freeways and side streets. Fortunately there's no real commute to speak of, as all schools in the Puget Sound region are cancelled and employers are being urged to allow employees to stay home unless absolutely necessary.

I can assure you that no one in this family will venture further than the nearby sledding hill today. As I write this, the skies are bright blue, the sun is out, the tress are covered with fresh-fallen snow, and it is absolutely gorgeous. Maybe I should have waited to snap some pictures, but I'm not about to head out again now. You'll just have to put up with some photos I shot earlier this morning as I was accompanied by some curious pets.

OK, that last one I just took in our newly landscaped front yard as I ventured out in my slippers... it's just too beautiful not to capture!

Kat's snowman must have started to lean down the hill (yes, there actually is one there) and then frozen! We can't get Shasta to come in the house; she just wants to play in the snow all day!

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Monday, November 27, 2006

A Kat and a Seattle Snowman

And the forecast is for more snow... way more!

I'll start really enjoying this once Tom gets home (he left over an hour ago on a commute that normally takes 10 minutes -- and he forgot to take his cell phone this morning!), once I hear from Elisabeth (she drove from our town into Seattle this afternoon and I haven't heard from her since), and once Peter gets home from a work shift that ends at 9 PM (it's now 7)... though he has a 4-wheel drive so I'm not quite as concerned about him.
I inched home from some errands on very icy roads this afternoon, caught in a sudden, very isolated storm. Seattle drivers are used to rain, but snow completely throws us! And the fact that it's coming so early in the season is very disconcerting -- global warming and all.
How's YOUR weather?

Addendum: Almost two hours after he left work, Tom called from a grocery store in town (about 6 miles from our house), saying he's heading out to walk home in the snow because his truck was sliding everywhere on the ice and there's no way he'd make it up and down the hills between there and our house. According to the news and the local police department, he won't be alone. It seems that, unless there are injuries, people are being adviced to just abandon their vehicles and try to get a hotel room or an alternate method of getting home. (The freeways, it seems, are filled with abandoned cars and accidents.) When he called from the store -- what a day to forget his cell... grrrrr! -- I begged him to stop at TJ Maxx in the same shopping center to buy a heavy coat, but he's stubborn and says just the walking will keep him warm. I think I'll have a hot toddy ready for him when he walks in the door, poor man!

Elisabeth called from her home in Seattle. She got home just before the storm hit there, is fine and warm and loving the snow. Having been at Cal for the past four winters, she's missed this and is enjoying the excitement.

Aleks and Kat are home, thank goodness. They're relatively new drivers, so once they drove home from school I insisted that they stay. Kat normally volunteers at the hospital on Mondays and has basketball practice on Monday nights. No way! Good thing neither of them were scheduled to work today!

Peter's still at work, 5 miles away. I'm gonna assume he'll be fine. He's one of those resourceful guys who would be fine in a blizzard with just a t-shirt and a Kit-Kat bar. He'll figure it out... but I'll call, just to check -- mommy that I am!

Addendum to the addendum (Blogger, why don't my hard returns work?!): Tom walked in the door long before I expected him. Turns out that about a mile into his winter trek, a woman known only as "Rose" pulled over and offered Tom a ride! Now there's testament to both how severe this storm is and to how completely harmless my husband looks (and is) -- a lone woman picks him up on a dark snowy road and feel perfectly safe!

And now I'm gonna send an e-mail to the local paper, thanking this unknown woman. Sometimes the kindness of strangers puts a lump in my throat.

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Reflections on Aging

While I've always accepted the idea of getting older (in fact, there was a time when the thought was downright titillating!), I'm having a hard time accepting the idea of aging. And today, two days before I turn a monumentous 50 (fifty... five-oh), I'm really not liking the idea at all.

Nothing hurts, I take no medications, and "chronic" hasn't weaseled its way into my vocabulary much. But still. Chronologically speaking, I'm over-the-hill. When I was five -- and fifteen, and twenty-five -- fifty was just plain OLD. A fifty-year-old was gray, hunched over, smelled funny and said things like "deary" and "sonny."

And yet, my father, who is approaching 80 (eighty... eight-oh), and is -- I swear -- reverse-aging since falling in love, says that the decade from 50 to 60 has been his favorite so far because he was old enough to be wise and young enough to feel great.

If I'd move more and eat better (dang Thanksgiving leftovers!), I could feel great! It is entirely my own fault that I'm relatively out of shape and feeling dumpy. (Now there's a word I never thought I'd relate to!) So maybe one of my birthday resolutions should be to fix that. Earlier this year, my mantra was "150 by 50" (as in pounds and years), but I didn't achieve that. And it's my own damn fault.

Having beautiful, vibrant, active daughters makes this whole "aging" thing that much weirder. My mom was always very vain and she fought getting older with a vengeance that I couldn't muster if I tried -- because I've never been as beautiful as she once was. When I was in high school and Mom complained about aging, I suggested that she "get over it and accept it." I just couldn't fathom why it even mattered. Age was stupid, just a construct, and irrelevent. Why was my mom even wasting time worrying about something that was inevitable? Was I wise then, or what?!

Maybe the hardest part about this getting older thing has been the age discrimination that I've experienced as I've looked for work. I'm in a young, high-tech, fast-paced industry and there are lots of young twenty-and-thirty-something whippersnappers applying for the same gaming jobs that I am. The pattern has been that I'm called back for umpteen interviews and that I'm one of two or three finalists for the job. But ultimately the job has always gone to someone younger, someone more recently out of school, someone who's "more of a gamer." The discrimination isn't anything overt, but it's very obvious. And it's part of the reason that I've decided to focus on jobs that emphasize lower-tech educational media, rather than gaming. The gaming industry just seems to be too young for me. My husband, who is an artist for a gaming company is (at 50) the oldest person (of over 200 employees) at his company... and he knows that he could never land his current job if he were looking today. Age discrimination might be illegal, but it is still very much a reality, one that I have to confront every day as I look for work -- hopefully for the last time in a good, long while! I'd like to settle down somewhere and retire from my next position.

So I'm complaining and sounding crotchety. How completely appropriate!

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Snowy, Sleepy Sunday Morning Spa in Seattle

...and evening!
(It's really coming down now -- no school/work tomorrow?!)

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

When I Have Money, I Have No Time...

... and when I have time (like now), I have no money!

So this year, family and friends will receive homemade gifts from me -- around the "paper and photo craft" theme, of course! Fortunately, I already have lots and lots (and lots) of supplies (that's my scrapbooking corner): papers, craft scissors, ribbons, medalions and trinkets, stickers, and a huge variety of pens and such... and photos around which to build.

I'll make my mother-in-law a small scrapbook and for my brothers and sister-in-laws I'll "dress up" a photo and frame it. So in the next few weeks, before we leave for Hawaii on the 13th (a trip for 7, "purchased" almost completely with frequent flier miles!), I'll have to muster a LOT of creative energy!

Here are photos of a few of the pages I've already created.

Laura, if you're reading this, do NOT scroll past the Europe, 2004 album or you'll ruin your (very belated) Birthday present!

From the album I made Elisabeth for her graduation from Cal:

The opening page...

Elisabeth, my mom ("Omi") and me... in 1985 and 2002!

Elisabeth and her dad through the years...

The four kids through the years.

And from a trip to Germany with my twins and dad in 2004 (my first scrapbook):

Opening page...

Our day in Nordlingen, where we met Thomas.

And from the scrapbook (no page descriptions necessary) I just sent to Laura, my "third daughter," our German exchange student (2005 - 2006):

And finally, here's a sympathy card (and short poem) that I made for a dear family friend:

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Friday, November 24, 2006

This is what I'll be doing on my 50th birthday next week!

(From my daddy!!)
11:00: 90 minute Swedish massage
12:30: 30 minute facial
1:30: Lunch with hubby?

I won't feel old till the next day!

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Woke up to this:

It makes the 4 days of prep, 22 bags of groceries, 6 dishwasher loads, $250 grocery bill, and (probably) 2.5 gained pounds all worth it! :-)

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Thankful for...

Family!! Around the table, left to right: Elisabeth, 22; Danelle (Peter's girlfriend), 19; Peter, 19; Kat, 17; Tom (older than me!), Lou and my dad; Aleks, 17; and... not pictured, me (50 this coming Wednesday -- GULP!)

We had three kinds of pies: pumpkin chiffon, raspberry cheesecake, and apple.

The theme was fall harvest. I love these colors!
The hors deurves filled us up even before the main feast!

Aleks started the yeast rolls, while Lou peeled potatoes and Opa (my dad) peeled baby onions.

Dad and I form the rolls. "Ulli's rolls" have been a Thanksgiving tradition in our family since my parents -- and aunt Ulli -- first came to America!

Elisabeth tells Opa all about her job. "I'm in the OR with the surgeons, basically helping them use our instruments..." Note the kitten asleep in her hood! :-)

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Rainy Tourist Day in Seattle

As dismal as the weather was, our spirits were sunny and we had a great day in Seattle!

This post is dedicated to LAURA!!

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