Friday, July 31, 2009

Rough night?

Because of the heat, we left the house wide open last night.  Normally the cats are inside by dusk with no option of escape, but last night we couldn’t bear to close the windows and doors and they had their freedom until the wee hours of the morning.

Like a good little girl, Bailey came in around 9:30 and promptly fell asleep on our bed, as she normally does.  Boo, however, swaggered home around 4:3o AM from god-know-where, and this is where he’s been – position unchanged – for the past three hours:


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Seattle Heat Wave (as experienced by Sadie Pup)

I looked up “Seattle heat wave” on YouTube and this is what came up:

It’s only had 126 views so it’s anything but viral, but it deserves to be, don’tcha think? ;-)

(Shasta’s a total water dog… EXCEPT for sprinklers and kiddie pools – she’s deathly afraid of both!)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Why I love Facebook

Because a mere 45 minutes after my daughters told me that they’ve been invited for an evening boating excursion on Lake Washington (because on the lake it might be only 95 degrees instead of the 103 degrees the rest of us are enduring) I see this on Facebook:

E and K

Gee, too bad they’re not having any fun. @@

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Hottest day ever?


Dear Cairo, Phoenix, and Baghdad,

Seattle, Washington would like extend its apologies for implying that we’re the center of the universe. We’re red-faced.

And wilting. And whiney. And pining for our comforting clouds and delightful drizzle.

Dear Seattle,

Carol would like to apologize for presuming to speak for all Seattle-ites. She’s red-faced. (Boy, is she ever… red-faced and dripping!)

And wilting. And whiney. And pining for our comforting clouds and delightful drizzle.

Thank you.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dear Bank of America:

I was doing some online banking last weekend when I noticed that one of my kids’ student accounts was significantly overdrawn. 


(No, I won’t say which kid.  Yes, I’m protecting the guilty.  And yes, some of our kids’ bank accounts are connected to ours so we can easily transfer money for things like textbooks.) 

By “significant” I mean six separate NSF (non-sufficient funds) fees of $35 each, over a period of less than a week.  That’s $210 in fees for a kid making just pennies more than minimum wage – a kid who’s attempting to contribute to college expenses, knowing that his/her parents are doing all they can, but that having three kids in college simultaneously and one parent unemployed is difficult, at best. 

Granted, it is my adult child’s fault that s/he didn’t keep an eagle eye on the bank account… and granted, bank fees are a necessary evil and meant to sting.  But really?  $210 in a week?  Ridiculous!

When I called the bank and inquired about fees on a student account, I was told that one solution is to have the student (who, remember, barely earns minimum wage and only works during school breaks) apply for a credit card


A credit card?  At 24% interest?  For a non-employed student?  “Sure,” she insisted.  “It’s a good way to avoid those pesky fees” because the money is transferred right from the credit card account to cover the shortage.

Wait a minute!  Now the non-employed student has a credit card bill – with interestand no way to pay it off! (Does this remind you just a little of banks making home loans to people who didn’t have the means to pay them off?!) 

This is a good idea, HOW?

Ohhhh, it’s a good idea for the bank because now they can collect interest on the charged amount and fees when said student can’t pay the bill!  I seeeee!



I’m no whiz with numbers and I’m no economist or financial advisor, but how’s this for an idea:

How about you (Bank of America!) TEXT my kid when s/he comes dangerously close to overdrawing?  The cell phone never leaves my kid’s pocket/purse and texts are part of his/her life anyway, as are ways to swiftly rectify the problem via online or phone banking.  How’s THAT for an idea, Bank of America?  Everything else is automated – why not automate a program like this? You know the technology exists and would be easy to implement, so what’s stopping you?

teen texting

I know you’d be out gazillions of dollars in fees.  I know you’d probably not be opening that credit card account that will likely be ignored – or worse, abused -- when money is tight.  I know this isn’t PROFITABLE in the short term.

But it’s profitable in the long run.  Remember customer service?  Well, this is a service to a customer you probably want to keep, because at some point s/he’ll have to put that college education-enhanced income somewhere and I’d think you’d want it to be with your bank.

Anyone with me on this?  Let’s start a movement!  (But not this week because Seattle is suffering through an unprecedented heat wave and… well, I can’t move.)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, July 27, 2009

Seattle Heat



Call me a Seattle-ite, but I’ll take rain and cool, gray skies any day!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday morning: Things that warm my belly and my heart

This warms my belly:

 IMG_4272 IMG_4276 IMG_4278 IMG_4281 IMG_4283 IMG_4285



This warms my heart:



(Before today:)


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, July 25, 2009

These are for you

But you really need to crank up your smell-o-meter to get the full impact!

Two summers ago we planted a few little lavender bushlets in a location that, if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know quite well.


This summer the plants have really taken off and they’ve been practically taking over my favorite (cough-cough) steps.


They’ve looked pretty and smelled delicious, as my dear friend Marco can attest to:

IMG_4083_1 DSC_7575

… but they’ve been attracting gobs of bubble bees* (*photo by Marco!) who think it’s funny to terrorize me as I limp down the steps like an unstable toddler (yes, still)… and they took special delight last week when I wore a full skirt, threatening to fly straight up it, sting me but good, and do their part to match my winter break dancing falling with a summer version.

No thank you!

So after a warm summer rain this evening that chased all but one stubborn bee away, I decided to cut a few bushels of lavender.


Before I could cut even half of it, the box was overflowing!


The house smells fabulous – which is surprising considering that the smell reminds me of the faint smell of lavender in Mom’s bedroom during her final week (courtesy of the Hospice nurses).  But today it says LIFE, not death, to me.

So here you go.  These are for you.


Take a really deep whiff and maybe you can get a hint of the heavenly aroma. 

And hey, when will we be able to contain a smell like this on a little SD card so we can share it with our dear friends?  Marco, Mr. Technical Wizard, could you get cracking on that please? 

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, July 24, 2009

The “C” Word

A few years ago, when I was the Executive Producer of a series of DVDs for teens on body image, self-esteem & the media, a member of our production team called me the “C” word.

It was all innocent enough. I was simply carrying a microphone boom to where we were going to be filming the next scene.

“Put that down!” Heather, the Production Assistant, demanded. “Or I’ll have to call you the ‘C’ word!”

Now I know some pretty nasty ‘C’ words and I had no idea why Heather would want to call me any of them.

I smiled at her and kept walking with the boom.

“CLIENT!” Heather squealed, placing her hands on her hips and thrusting one hip emphatically sideways. Then she stuck her tongue out at me and held it until we both started giggling.


“Give me a break,” I insisted. We’re all part of the same team.”

Then Heather handed me the grande-nonfat-one Splenda-latte that she’d picked up for me on her way to the set and I realized that by simple virtue of my label as “the client,” we actually weren’t on the same team.

I’ll be honest: I like being the client. I like that I’m listened to, I like that my ideas are valuable, and I like that people try to make me happy. Hell, who wouldn’t like being the client?

Fast forward a year or so to when I did a relatively short stint as a contract Project Manager at Publicis, a hot-shot advertising agency in Seattle. It was then that I fully came to realize that power of the “C” word.

The pulse of the office and of the work that we did was completely determined by the meeting schedule between our Creative Director and the Client (who was T-Mobile at the time). We were all hyper-aware of when those meetings would occur and we worked at a frantic pace to prepare for them, then caught our breath while the meeting was conducted at the client’s headquarters a few miles away, and then literally gathered around the elevator to immediately receive our marching orders upon the Creative Director’s return.

The Client might as well have been God.


‘Funny,’ I thought, ‘I never felt that kind of power when I was the client!’ But then, the Project Manager at T-Mobile probably had no idea the the kind of power s/he wielded behind the scenes at Publicis, either.

For the past two years, in my work as a Senior Project Manager with an agency that works almost exclusively on Microsoft projects, I’ve found a much more balanced experience around the “C” word, and I’m no longer befuddled by what appeared in the past to be a very unbalanced hot/cold, good-guy/bad-guy client working relationship.

Client t-shirt

Instead, my relationship with clients now is much more of a partnership. The master/slave approach has given way to a much more cooperative relationship in which there’s a give and take of ideas and a genuine desire to work collaboratively.(For the most part, anyway. There are still clients who think they're God and still agency workers who assume they're basically slaves.)

Sure, Microsoft is still the client – and a potentially daunting one at that. When Microsoft says jump, I still ask how high. But I firmly believe that, done right, business IS personal and that the best working relationships are also positive personal relationships. Because when things get crazy (and you can count on that with Microsoft), it’s not the intimidating corporate name or the big bucks that will guarantee that I’ll get things get done; it’s the relationship that's formed and the willingness (and desire, even) to go the extra mile for someone with whom you now have a personal connection.


I’ve completed a myriad of projects for Microsoft since starting this job well over a year ago and without fail, the most successful ones have been those in which positive personal relationships – yes, even (gasp!) friendships – have formed. It makes sense, too. Wouldn’t you rather work cooperatively and in partnership with someone, even if (hmmmm… especially if!) they're essentially paying your salary and keeping you employed? In my opinion, that’s one of the most important relationships to nurture.

One of these days I’ll write a post about my slightly non-conformist management philosophy. (“The most important thing a manager can do is to regularly ask his/her employees what they need to feel supported and to do their job well … and then to make those things happen, because happy, fulfilled employees are productive and loyal employees... ”)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Home Unique Home

My daddy is selling his house and I can’t bear the thought of anyone except one of you buying it!

This is no sales ploy, my friends. (How dare you even think that!) It’s just l’il ol’ me, your friend Northwest Ladybug, asking one of you to buy his beautiful home in gorgeous Ashland, Oregon… so I can come visit you!

And if you don’t want me to visit you, I wouldn’t.

Which, I guess, makes this a sales ploy after all. Fine!

But it’s only because I love you. And him. And all the amazing people who live in Ashland, home to the country’s greatest Shakespeare Festival.

IMG_5913 IMG_5868

So let me tell you a little about this house. It is truly a one-of-a-kind find. Just look!

IMG_5785 Wait! Don’t you dare leave! I’ll grant you “weird” -- but don’t just crinkle up you nose and close your mind. This is a house you need to experience to fully appreciate.

Yes, it’s five geodesic domes put together, with this pond in the middle of the five:


My parents thought it was a little “different” when they first saw it, too. But my mom fell in love with it immediately because the very high ceilings and open floor plan cured her claustrophobia every time she set foot in the place!



How’s THAT for high ceilings?! This dome is over the living room. The other four soar high above the kitchen, the dining room, and two bedrooms. When you stand in this house, your spirit just opens up! I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true.




And if you must see it “naked,” here you go – although these pictures bother me because it seems that all the life got sucked out of the house when it was emptied… and I think that’s why it hasn’t sold – because really, which says “home” more to you – the above photos or these?!



Yeah, me too.

(My brother Chris and I both felt lost walking through this empty house. Please buy it and fill it with love again!)




(Yes, the rooms are huge, not just in height, but in breadth!)

When our kids were little, Opa (my dad) made a loft that looks over the kitchen so the kids could watch Omi cook, and we could all visit and chat, but they were out of the way – ingenious, eh?

Yes, nice. But the ingenious part is this:


See that rolling ladder? It can be tucked completely out of the way in a tiny little alcove next to the built-in bookcase. This way, the kids could go up to the loft (and they often built forts and spent the night up there) only when adults were around to supervise! (Of course Dad installed a railing – and a pretty one, too!)

Yes, the inside is nice (and it’s “the ‘U’ word” too!), but the outside is fabulous! Dad had this black-bottom lap pool put in immediately after he and Mom moved in during the summer of… what was it… ‘91?



Some of my most relaxing memories are of times I spent floating on this pool with the only sounds being birds singing and the wind rustling through the trees.

Damn, I’d love to be there NOW! Can you believe that no one’s enjoying this splendor this summer? It’s such a shame!

As much as I like the house, my heart has a really special place for the cottage that Dad and Mom built in 2001. It’s a few steps down a winding pathway from the main house and I called it home for days and weeks and even almost a month at a time during the years when Mom was sick and I’d travel to Ashland from Seattle to spend time with her and Dad. Everything about this cottage feels like home – the smell, the cozy atmosphere, the open layout (especially for a relatively small space):


This is the view of the cottage from just outside the front door of the main house. Sometimes I’d shuffle up the pathway to sip morning coffee with Dad and Mom and then come back to the cottage to get some work done in the quiet serenity.

This is the pass-through from the living room to the kitchen:


And looking into the living room from the deck:


The kitchen is, for some reason that I can pin-point, probably the coziest kitchen I know!




I know, right? It’s a totally Bavarian kitchen! Hey, did you expect anything different from my Bayerische mutti?!

There’s even (gasp!) a bedroom!


Yes, I love the house (though it’s not as loveable when it’s empty) and yes, I adore the cottage – but you know what I really love?

The town of Ashland, Oregon!

The Plaza and Lithia Park are just a 10 minute walk down the hill from Dad’s place.



If I got to vote for the most beautiful city park in all of America, I’d vote for this one!


Ah, my kids spent many a happy summer day wading in this stream…


…and running on this lawn…


…and feeding the ducks on this pond.


Have you ever been to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland? If not, you’re totally missing out!

IMG_5814 IMG_5818



And even beyond the city (actually, more like town) limits, there’s plenty to do.

Kat and I went river-rafting a few summers ago…


…and our family “pre-union” a few years ago (when the family of Dad’s new love, Lou, met our family) was at Howard Prairie Resort, just 30 minutes’ drive from Ashland.

Copy of IMG_6037

You know, if I could I’d buy Dad’s house because all this reminiscing is making me all verklemmt! But since I can’t, you should! Then I’ll come visit you and show you around and we can stop on Main Street (no really, that’s actually the street name!) for an ice cream cone. Because Ashland really is the best of what America has to offer… and Dad’s beautiful and unique home really is the best of what Ashland has to offer!

Want more information? Did I pique your curiosity and whet your appetite?

Then visit the official real estate page, where they don’t say things like “l’il ol’ me, your friend Northwest Ladybug” and where you can check out the real-estate-ish details, like price and square footage and financing options and the MLS number. And hey, if you’re interested, let me know. Maybe we can meet there for a dip in the pool… or that ice cream cone – once you’ve settled in, anyway!

Stumble Upon Toolbar
Related Posts with Thumbnails