I'm the other mother - or Momma Deb. Our family is pretty much like every other family in suburbia. The girls go to school, one mom is on the PTA boards of elementary and middle school. The other mom goes to work, paints, writes, and tries to just have a good time raising kids with her partner. This is my third attempt at blogging...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Last Day of the Year

On a personal level, it has been a tough year. Getting laid off from a job I thought I would retire from upset my equilibrium. I didn't think I could survive this a second time around. But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another door opens. That was certainly the fortunate case for me. It was rocky going for a while, but fortunately, my skills are needed, but experience and skills are in very short supply, and that saw us through. The support of our friends has been the key to coming out on the other side. Still, given the hideous economy, I still have a tendency to hold my breath.

My children are well. Katie's Juvenile Inflammatory Arthritis (JIA) may have gone into remission - or may even disappear entirely. We continue to be vigilant and grateful. Megan is happy and thriving.

All the same, it's been a tough year for a LOT of people, and I'm afraid the troubles are no where near subsiding any time soon. The mortgage debacle? Puleeze. For years, as the prices of homes went higher and higher, and they were actually being sold for asking or better, I wondered aloud to Kandy, "How do these people buy a home at these prices? What kind of money are they making that they can afford a $750,000 mortgage on a track home?" Well, I guess we all know now. Unlike the media, I can fault most recipients of those "creative" mortgages. You've got to have your head up your ass not to know that the BIG bill would come due just around the corner. Now many of them are pleading ignorance.

Yes, some people
really may have been ignorant. Some may have been led down a winding path, but there are way too many people in this situation to have not known what they were getting into.

Just the same, the lenders are just as much at fault. Not to mention the house of cards within the industry creating and interleaving monies as if tomorrow would never come.

Okay, I just realized I have been ranting. This isn't what I intended for this post. Please forgive me.

I will raise my glass to you and to the New Year, wish you all wellness, love, and happiness. I love reading your blogs, and am sorry I haven't participated much this last year. That will change.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day - Now where is the storage space?

Merry Christmas to you, too, Z! And, thanks, T, for the visit and encouragement. I have so much to say, but it stays locked up inside. I am not sure why, nor what has happened. More of that in another post. Blogging used to be easier...

Kandy and I are lying in bed. We're supposed to be watching TV, happily resting after a long day of family togetherness. Instead, the TV is on, but Kan lies next to me softly snoring, and I have my laptop perched on a pillow, while a STTNG Marathon is on in the background.

Megan is out in the living room on the couch, Katie snoozing, snuggled up against her as she plays a video game. Everyone is sated and happy. The house
glows with winter lights, the winds have subsided, and there is no more rain for now.

I am the happy owner of a new, bright red Artisan Kitchenaid Mixer. This is
something I have wanted for a very long time, but just could not ever lay out the money for it myself. I just couldn't do it. Oh, I'd buy the kids or Kandy this and that, but I could never get around to getting that mixer.

Kandy knew that, she's known it for many, many years - I've always drooled for one. Even told her not to spend the money, we cannot really afford the expense. But, since she has, I am a happy camper.

Tomorrow - bread. After that, the sky is the limit!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Once Upon a Tme in Winter

There is a little Elf named Kandy. She scattered cheer and lights and love wherever she roamed... through the house.

In a cove, or over the door...

And when her work was done, she rested by the Merry Tree. I am so lucky to have such a talented wife.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Beginning... It's a Job!

So, I started my new career at ESnet this Monday. Today is Wednesday... I love the people (so far), I'm okay with the office (no window), I get lots and lots of very cool toys - can you say "technology is good to Deb?" The commute sucks rocks, but I've joined a carpool which makes that much easier. Berkeley is, well, Berkeley. I like to call it Berzerkeley - my pet name for the place. Getting here in the morning is not much of a problem, but leaving the campus and avoiding pedestrians of all sorts in the afternoon is trying.

I'll be taking pictures of the heavenly views - from here you can see San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, the old and the new Bay Bridge (under construction), the bay islands, plus all kinds of lovely things from just outside my building. It's gorgeous. I'm told that on a very clear day you can see the Farallon Islands beyond the Golden Gate Bridge. Not a thing like where I worked before. That, alone, makes the commute worthwhile.

Eventually, after I pick up on what my job is going/supposed to entail, I'll be able to work in Livermore one to two days per week - starting sometime in November. They have an office there with a server room, and a bunch of cubicles where my phone will ring in one of them there, as well as here. I love that. About ten or twelve others work there 1-2 days/week already.

Not too shabby!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I won! I won! I finally won something!

I'm one of those people who never wins anything. But, you know what???? I finally won something.

And, it's really cool, too. Something that is frivolous, but fun. Yummy, but something we'd never do for ourselves.

And, it won't include kids!

I'm all over that. Heh. I won two tickets to "The Monterey County Wine Experience." Four succulent hours of wine tasting and ordourves.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I've Lost Count

Don't know how many times I have tried to blog... I don't want a post to sound like a Dear Diary entry. I want to entertain, share, marvel, and commune with my fellow bloggers.

Instead there are frozen fingers on a keyboard.

So, maybe to get the ball rolling again, I'll make a list. Maybe it could be meme? I love lists. Make them all the time. A list helps me to stay on track, to know where I am in the scheme of things.

  1. On the job front, I am still working a contract for BofA. Can't say I'm all that impressed with the company. The building where I park my butt must be over 50% vacant. They had some lay-offs last week in the mortgage department. Bad times for banks.

  2. Let's see, what next?

  3. Finally had a few good interviews for a permanent position. One at ESnet, and it went swimmingly. I had the interview on Monday, and they called me with an offer on Friday. Still mulling it.

  4. Meanwhile, after the interview with ESnet, a "well-known high-tech compnay in Silicon Valley" contacted me four times for four different open positions. Jeeeze, when it rains, it pours. I hear nothing of substance for four weeks, then they're calling me all over the place. Boggling.

  5. I think the reason I had no contacts during the previous four weeks is because the new quarter begins in August. Everything freezes until a company is assured of direction and funds.

  6. So, with a generous and substantial offer in my hip pocket I will go into the Valley tomorrow to interview for another very interesting position.

  7. Logistically, I think I'd prefer a job in the Valley, but interviewing is a very odd thing. You might think you'd fit into a job quite well, but then they ask you questions that, if I was sitting at a keyboard I could answer lickety-split - I don't commit obscure commands or clauses in config files to memory, for god's sake.

  8. Oops. I'm ranting.

  9. Daughter #1 just came in and says her computer "is not working." "What do you mean?" asks I. "I can do anything in iTunes." Oh, then the computer is working, but not the app.

  10. Gotta go before the whining starts.

  11. I can't stand whining.

  12. Can you?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Back from the Beach

We're back from sand in cracks we knew not we had, back from pelicans and wet dogs. Back from collections of sand dollars, crab shells, gull feathers, and late night bonfires.

A Good Times were had by all.

More later...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Off to the Beach!

I have been gainfully employed for 3 days, and I've had it!


No, we have had a beach house get-a-way planned since January with 2 other families. So we're off to the coast today for 3 days and 2 nights near Capitola. So, when I took the job, I stipulated that these days I wouldn't be hanging around - turns out that worked out quite well, since things aren't moving too quickly on the project I'm on.

I'll try to have some pics to show y'all when I get back. Don't you have too much fun while I'm
away, 'kay? Heh.

Oh, and Terroni? Sure you did. Uh huh.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Cubicles As Far As the Eye Can See

This is not a picture of my workplace... it is a representation. (And, as you can see, this is a dated picture, since there is an actual tube monitor for a video screen.)

Today I began a career as a consultant in a hive. The place is downright BLAH. And as quiet as a tomb, except for the occasional conversation stray conversation drifting over the shimmering air above the cubicles.

Saving me is the fellow I currently report to - he is amiable and smart and he's also going on 2 weeks vacation starting next Monday. That's okay, I is a professional. I are technical. We'll be just fine. Heh.

The members of my team are all over the place. They're still coming on board. While at my desk today, though, I got two head-hunter calls. Can't let a moment go wasted.

More later. Must go be with the family...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Rewiring For Sound and the Heart of the Matter

Isn't it amazing what medical science promises to do for us?

Way back in the dark ages (circa '91?), while I was working for a company called Teradyne, in my capacity as resident guru I had reason to drive over to the offices of PacBell. (Later to be gobbled up by AT&T.) PacBell was your typical corporate mega-venue. Lots and lots of cubicles, youngsters pushing mail carts with inter-office mail, and loads of suits and pointy high-heel shoes. It looked to me like the offices of IBM-wannabes.

This California Casual Girl in Birkenstocks was completely out of her element. I may have gloated.

Anyway, while at PacBell I had the pleasure to meet a nondescript, balding, but genial man. His name was Scott Adams. Yes, the Scott Adams. The creator of Dilbert had not yet left his corporate environment and still worked for PacBell. We chatted for a few minutes, passing the time. I have always remembered the vanilla encounter, but I'm sure the memory of that occasion died a quick death in Scott's memory.

All the same, I have followed his career from afar. He lives about 10 miles from us, although our paths have not again crossed. He co-owns a restaurant near us, as well as another further away. I read his blog. And that brings me to the first subject of this post.

The local newspaper did a feature on Scott a while back and that was where I learned that he has been suffering from brain disorder, Spasmodic Dysphonia, that won't allow him to speak in certain situations. I think he cannot carry on a conversation with someone in person, but can speak on the phone, or in rhyme, or if he pinches his nose (How Annoying!). He goes into remission, at times. I think the disorder has been quite fluid in its symptoms. He also can no long draw the cartoons with pen and paper, but has to use a computer to generate the cartoons.

Well, today in his blog he reported that he had surgery to re-wire the nerves to his vocal chords. That must have been delicate work! I find it truly and wonderfully amazing that our body can be so manipulated to by-pass these devastating problems. I wish him the best in his recovery.

And, secondly, to the heart of the matter, in Seattle my 34 year old niece had heart surgery yesterday in an effort to control rapid heart beats resulting from too-rapid nerve firings. The effect of which has been seizures, sometimes landing her in the ER and the need to use the defibrillator paddles to shock the heart into rhythm. The surgery, cardiac ablation essentially destroys the nerve bundles that are causing the irregular and rapid heart beats.

We are all rejoicing in the success of her surgery. She's going home today to Olympia, and her husband, her Mom & Dad (my brother) will be doing their best to keep three, small, energetic children occupied as she recovers with bed-rest.

Life is good.

Speaking in Non Sequiturs

Nearly 13 year old Daughter #1 just loves to tell anyone who will listen, or even who isn't listening, about anything that crosses her mind and strikes her fancy.

It could be about the cat attacking her toes, the plot of a TV show, something that struck her funny, or even a friend's hang-nail (yes, true). It could be anything.

Now, I do want to encourage her communications skills. I love it that she wants to talk to her Moms about anything that occurs to her. But, she speaks in non sequiturs. The girl wouldn't know the point of a story if it bit her nose. Riding along with her on this verbal journey is an exercise in being lost in a litany of words whose content makes no sense to the listener. Or, at least no sense to me.

I find myself being impatient with her and imagine myself screaming in exasperation,

"Daughter! Is there a point to this story? Is there a plot? Why have I been standing here listening for 20 minutes and I still don't know what you want to tell me?"
So, she attempts to quickly finish up. For 5 more minutes. By the end of the next series of non sequiturs, the conclusion is never satisfying enough for me to think that my listening has served a successful purpose.


I have tried to gently guide her story telling, to no avail. I am hopeful that she will figure out the art of a short story on her own. It would be nice to listen to her and actually be able to follow where she's going.

Do any of you have experience with this? What have you done? Do the get less ditsy?

Please tell me they do!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Family Recipe - Mmmmmm... Cookies!

Back in the olden days, before kids, when I could eat anything I wanted an not gain a pound, I used to make big batches of cookies. I'd take them to work and share with anyone who wanted to munch the delicious morsels.

Eventually, all good things shall pass. All I need to do is look at a cookies or cake and the pounds start multiplying - right onto my hips.

But, now we have two growing girls who love to bake. So I dusted off my recipe book where I wrote down my own modified recipes for future reference. The recipes have origins that may be well-known, or not. The fact is, I don't remember where the original recipes came from. I claim the modified food algorithms as my own, but who knows? If you see a recipe posted here that you recognize, please kindly let me know in the comment section. I will gladly give credit where credit is due!

Here is one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes. I am not one for pancake flat chocolate chip cookies. I like my cookies to have a bit of a chewiness and some substance. I'm the only one in the family who adores nuts, so if I want cookies with nuts, I usually make a 3rd of the recipe with them, and the rest is nut-free (unlike the inhabitants of our household).

Deboo's Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 c. butter5 c. blended oatmeal
4 c. flour1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda2 tsp baking powder
2 c. sugar2 c. dark brown sugar
4 eggs2 tsp vanilla
12 oz. chocolate chips12 oz. white chocolate chips
3 oz. chopped macadamia nuts

(Recipe makes about 112 or so. Lots and lots of cookies. Freeze some dough for later... if you like.)
  1. Measure oatmeal, then blend in food processor (or blender) until the oats turn into a fine powder. This is a must. If it's not a fine powder, you'll have oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. This is not what we're going for. Got that?
  2. Cream butter and both sugars (you may substitute margarine for butter with no degradation in flavor or texture. It just works. )
  3. Add eggs and vanilla to creamed sugar and butter mixture in previous step.
  4. Now for the hard part: Thoroughly mix together flour, oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Done mixing? Rest your arm for about 4 minutes.
  6. Now mix in all the chocolate chips. Once the chocolate chips are mixed in, and if you're going to divide the batter, this is when you do it, before adding the nuts. Divide and conquer - add the nuts to the batter and mix.
  7. Roll into balls and place about 1-2" apart on the cookie sheet. I like to use baking parchment paper rather than greasing the pan. No muss, no fuss. Unless you don't have parchment on hand - then grease the pan with your favorite pan lubricant.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
  9. Cool and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

DP Benes and North Carolinia

Now I know that some of you may live in or near North Carolina. I have never been fortunate enough to visit that fine state. I am certain it has a beauty all its own.

But I am so glad that we do not live there. We are so lucky to live in California where our family is accepted so readily that there's nary a blink of an eye. I like it that way. We're nondescript, not all that different from most anyone else on our suburban street. Even in business, or dealings with the medical community, it's nothing to get worked up about.

So, it came as a jarring reality to me that outside of California there are millions of people who do not enjoy the rights we enjoy in the Golden State. Yesterday I spent half a work day filling out forms, compiling copies of forms, getting signatures notarized and finally sending everything via FedEx to my new employer in North Carolina. All was well until they noticed I had neglected to send along 3 of 6 items requested to "prove" our Domestic Partnership.
NC has a law banning same-sex marriage, but hiring outside the state, they do allow that there are Domestic Partnerships. I haven't had to prove this for at least 10 years, other than by stipulating our partnership, etc. They won't even accept a California DP certificate, and of course they don't recognize same-sex marriage in California.

We sent our co-registered car registration, copy of a Power of Attorney dated 1994, and a copy of our joint checking account deposit slip. If that verifies our domestic bliss, it seems to me anyone could comply with items such as these and claim benefits.

If states would just see the legal light and give us the same right to marriage as strayt couples, the states would benefit, they could claim to be going "green" by eliminating unnecessary paperwork, lawyers might have to find another revenue stream to support their accustomed lifestyle, and we could all just get on with the business of living.

As a side note, I noticed that the wedding industry in San Francisco has experienced a lot of growth in the last month. All those new gay weddings require flowers, invitations, dinners, suits, dresses, wedding planners, cakes... the list goes on ad infinitum. At least one industry is having a boon!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Honey, You Just Have To Go On

A black cloud hangs over the house. Or is it just me? Every day I get up eager to meet the day, and then I stumble over things left in my path the preceding days before this one.

Getting laid off from a job you thought you'd have until retirement is devastating. Being too young to retire, and too old to start over is a most jarring reality to face head-on. I am getting so tired of functioning at this high level of awareness. I want to rest. I want to spend my days fishing, or writing, or reading.

But, I have a family to support. We have a home to pay for - the investment which we hope will someday appreciate again in value instead of decline. We have two children to see into their adulthood. We may not be able to afford to put them through a four year college, but perhaps we'll get them through a community college.

And then? And then I'm done. We're scaling back. I cannot go on living my life this way. I want to slow down and find the inner self I once knew in my earlier years. I want to find and walk a different path into my later years. I don't know what form that will take, nor where that might lead us, I just know that we must find that path.

Kandy wants to go to New Zealand. I wonder if that would work?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Yummy Dinner for Four (minus one)

Tonight's dinner should have been yesterday's Sunday Dinner. It was waaaaay too hot yesterday to cook. So I didn't. Not inside. I took out some pre-home-made hamburgers from the freezer (leftovers from the last couple of times we had them) and grilled them outside. Quick. Easy. No Fuss, no muss. Everyone satisfied. But. Slightly forgettable.

The local fish monger had some alaskan salmon filets on sale - making it affordable for us. Salmon is one of our fave fishies. Probably because we don't have it very often.

Tonight's salmon was out of this world. Here's our menu:

  • White rice:
    • 1.5c. rice to 1c water + 1c. chicken broth,
    • all mixed with 1/4 chopped onion
    • Steam 40 minutes
  • Snow peas - steamed aldente
  • 4 Salmon Filets:
    • Sprinkle liberally with lemon pepper or seasoning of choice. Let seasoning sit on filets for at least 10 minutes before grilling
    • On stove, coat non-stick pan or grill with olive oil or favorite non-stick spray oil; thoroughly heat to pan to medium heat
    • Put filets onto grill skin-side up and grill until filets look about half-cooked from the side
    • Flip to other side - grill to desired doneness; drizzle fresh lemon juice over fish as it cooks (Do NOT use that nasty lemon juice in a bottle. Too bitter!)

Serve warm and enjoy!

As I was fixing above Yummy Dinner, we got a call from a neighbor where Megan has been playing all day. She's doing an over-night now, so will be missing her absolute favorite dinner. ::sigh:: I guess I'll have to somehow save her salmon for her... If someone doesn't snatch it before she gets home!

(Sorry, no pictures. We ate it before I could think about taking a picture!)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Well, it's a Job

Last week I got a call from out of the blue. As in, what the heck is this 704 area code on my cell phone? Hell, I don't know anyone in North Carolina, do I? General rule of mine is to not answer unfamiliar numbers calling me. However, this one went through my Grand Central service which is a number I only give out under special circumstances.

Like, um, job hunting.

So, I went online and listened to the voice mail - it was from a head-hunter job recruiter in North Carolina. She said she had found my profile on LinkedIn. In case you're not familiar with it, LinkedIn as business-oriented social networking site, mainly used by technical professionals. It has actually been quite instrumental and fruitful in opening the doors to quite a few businesses in my job search. Can I say it again? I love the Internet!

The recruiter is working for Bank of America who is looking for people of my ilk to perform technical feats of wonder. Essentially, they need talent to install Linux servers here and there. They're hiring in California, Virginia and North Carolina.

So, I interviewed with BofA's powers-that-be. They liked me. Made me an offer I couldn't refuse. The downside is that it is a short contract - only goes to September. The upside is that it could pan into a full-time position, or at least a longer contract.

The Big Upside is that it brings money into the sorely depleted reserves. I start July 21st. It's a 30 mile drive each way. At least it'll be mostly counter-commute.

I'm just grateful to be working again... and making the most of it!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Musings on Homelessness from the Reluctant Blogger

Wow, it's been a while, hasn't it? Blogging seemed like such a non-essential task when compared to the monumental task of finding a job that supports our current lifestyle. So much so that I just couldn't bring myself to be here. All the same, I've been of two minds about it - I should use the blog to blow off steam, bounce ideas around, even use it to explore new ideas. Yet, getting to doing it, to blog ... well, it just didn't happen. I always felt guilty somehow, that I wasn't doing enough in the job search. Plus, there was the Big D to fight off. You know. Depression. Kept rearing its ugly head

So, no blogging. Until today.

Last week found me taking BART into the City. Why was I doing this? Earlier in the week a slightly annoying SF gay-boy-head-hunter had latched on to me because my talents fit a position for a client he was working with. The boy just kept calling and calling me. Nothing wrong with persistence - I should know. It's just that no matter what I said in the course of our conversations he'd reply, "Oh, of course!" at the same time stepping onto my words. That is just so annoying. Makes me wonder if he is really listening in all that eagerness. At any rate, he set up a phone screen for me with the client. That went well, and then the client wanted a face-to-face interview. Rather than driving into the City - gas is nearing $5/gallon here - I opted for a BART $10.50 round-trip - gas costs would have run me more than twice that.

Nice thing about our particular BART line is that I pick it up at the beginning of the local line. This means that getting a seat is no problem and I get to do a lot of people watching en route to the City. A real cross-section of the local population rides the train. At one point a seemingly homeless woman sat next to me. Her clothes were disheveled, nothing matched, her hair a bit unkempt. All the same she was as nice as anyone else on the train... except that she was in dire need of a bath. Being next to her I contemplated what it must be like to be without personal resources, resources that are plainly hygienic in nature. A daily hurdle to overcome - and perhaps one that is not easy to overcome, especially for a woman.

As it turns out, this was just a small taste of what I was about to experience.

I got off the train at the Civic Center station on Market St. in San Francisco. Believe me when I tell you that this is not the finest part of the City. Thanks to Google Maps, I had an idea what the street would look like, and I was actually going to a business that is located one street over and parallel to Market St. Well, "street" is too good a word for it. It was an alley with a street name, so I guess it could be called a street.

I was a bit early for my interview, so I looked around for a coffee shop or diner where I could park my bones. There were quite a few run-down hole-in-the-wall kind of places. None with a place to really sit. I think they are discouraging loitering. It was a bout 10:45 in the morning, and the street was alive with people walking about. Not business people, but very poor people. Mostly people of color. Many colors. I ended up walking around the block, checking everything out. I passed people talking to themselves, people scurrying, people who looked drunk, people plainly with all their belongings in whatever would carry them. I saw very few people who seemed to have personal resources.

Finally I came back to Market and 7th street and spied a donut and coffee shop. I went in and purchased coffee and something to nibble on. I decided to sit next to a window that was right in the corner. From there I could observe the intersection of Market and 7th as I ate.

During the time I sat there I must've seen over a hundred down-trodden folk wander by. Some purposefully, some not so. I saw one Asian woman with a tattoo on her face, dragging a roller suitcase behind her. What drew my attention to her was that she had stopped and pulled a nearly empty can of beer out of her baggy purse which sat atop the suitcase, and quickly bent down and put it upside down under a nearby blue U.S. mailbox to drain its dregs. Then, she pulled out of her coat pocket another can of beer, opened it, and slid it down into her purse, careful to keep it upright, replacing the one that had been there before. While her back was turned from the mailbox, another homeless person came along and grabbed her now empty can from under the mailbox and walked off.

I'm not sure she ever really noticed.

Then off she went.

There was a tall, middle-aged, very anorexic white woman who wandered by. Grizzled black men. Young black men with attitude and pants riding their lower butts. For every twenty five or so seemingly poor individuals I saw, there was maybe one or two more affluent people quickly walking through. There was an Asian family of a father and 2 or 3 pre-teen kids - they made their way very fast through the area. There was an office-worker girl with one of those plastic U.S. Mail boxes piled high with pre-stamped manila envelopes. She quickly unloaded the envelopes into the blue mailbox and then quickly slid off down the street.

Finally, it was time for my interview. I left the shop and headed up the alley to the address given me. I walked past Salvation Army. I got to the door and the signs there said "This area is under 24 hour surveillance cameras" and "Press button to announce yourself." I did this and was buzzed in. It was like stepping into another world - high tech, clean, even familiar.

The interview went well, but they needed occasional 24x7 support. Needless to say, I was a little leery of that, given the location.

In the end, I declined to work for them - it just made this suburban woman a little too nervous... Unfamiliar territory.

Do you think I was being judgmental? Do you think I should have stepped out of my element to learn about a different world?

All things considered, did I do the right thing?

Monday, June 9, 2008

An Event Worth Seeing

If you have ever had a secret...
If you have ever wanted to TELL your secret...

You might want to check out the very poignant Post Secrets website. This YouTube video was recently posted there, but I put here for your convenience:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thanks for ALL the Kind Comments!

Hey there, everyone. Thank you so much for your comments of support. You all really help me center on what is important.

It has been an awful week, but I'm feeling better today. And, as of today, it has been one week since the lay-off. It really is a grieving process. What I hate most about it is that I've been there, done that - all ready! I certainly wasn't prepared to start all over yet again.

I'm gearing up. Dusting off and updating the resume. Not a pleasant thought, but there it is. I've got an iron or two in coals. Got some feelers out. Gearing up.

So, I hope to bring a few pics to the blog, a little commentary, a little progress on things as time moves forward. Gee, I probably will have a lot more writing time on my hands, eh? :-)

Good vibes, right?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Laid Off

Work Life sucks right now.

I'll be back when I'm able.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Maybe Three Time's the Charm?

So, unless you're living under a rock, or just plain don't care, you've probably heard that the California Supreme Court has overturned a gay marriage ban in a ruling that would make the nation's largest state the second one to allow gay and lesbian weddings. Click here to read the full article, and click here for the full text of the opinion.

Wow. This could be big. Many of my friends are jubilant. I am happy, but I cannot be jubilant. I'll be jubilant when the rug is no longer pulled out from under us. Kandy and I have been "married" in the Lutheran church. Oh, it's not legal, but the pastors married us - in our eyes and minds. Then, 10 years later we were married again in San Francisco at City Hall. But, again, the Governor took it away, and it was not legal.

Now, maybe it will be. I wonder if this decision could be retroactive to our marriage in SF? That would be cool, and justice served, I think.

We have some friends, Erin and Sam, who have worked tirelessly for this to happen. Today Erin wrote an email to Andrew Sullivan at TheAtlantic.com, and her email became his "Email of the Day" on his Daily Dish. You can see Erin's email here. I am so proud of her and Sam, living in the Southland.
It is people like them who get these things passed, change people's minds. I so admire that they work so hard on these issues, doing things I don't or cannot do, for all the people like me in California who will benefit from their efforts. We are so lucky to have them. What a wonderful gift.

Other bloggers have posted their take on this today. My blog friend Tara Dharma has a good 'en here:Victory.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Is It Friday Yet? and Moms Day and Pics

Today was a tough day - almost as bad as yesterday. I'll just briefly say that my Linux cluster lost it's mind, and I'm still mining its depths trying to locate it again. If RAID5 means anything to you, and a bad controller, then you understand the work that has been occupying all my waking hours since yesterday at 08:52AM.


Other work things, people are really nervous, if not downright depressed at work. The lay-offs are going to start on the 22nd. What is that? Next Thursday? This is just so unreal. Working for the government, in a very high security field, has a whole set of unique issues involved when there are lay-offs. Talk about feeling screwed over - a universal feeling among my cohorts.

Okay, I can't think about this anymore. How 'bout something good?

Lori asks if we got
"two - count 'em, two "AS SEEN ON TV" gifts?" Well, Kandy and I split up Mother's Day - we don't do it together. You see, it's actually easier that way. The girls and I celebrate Kandy's Momness in May, and then in June (on that other day), Kandy and the girls celebrate my Momness. It was really my idea, because that way we can help the girls while celebrating our partners. It works for us. That way the girls can pull off surprising one Mom or the other more easily. Of course, as they get older, this won't be as hard to do. By then, we'll have carved out a family tradition.

The girls and I prepared breakfast in bed to order. Kandy wanted poached egg on toast, French Roast coffee and orange juice. The girls went out in our rose garden and each picked two roses for a small vase to complete the tray. Unfortunately, we didn't get a photo of the pretty tray. Bad Deb.

Later, since it was a lovely day, we trekked up to Morgan Territory and spent the day hiking in the hills. (As always, click on the picture to see it better... okay?)

My favorite part was a little watering hole where there were thousands of tadpoles. It almost seemed like they swim in schools. Who woulda thought that?

How could an outing be complete without some Mom and Kidlets photos?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

(Click on the picture to see a larger version)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Embarrassing Kidlet #2 with Pictures

Another Blog Topic: My kids. How do I love them? Let me count the ways....

I have talked bragged a lot about Kidlet #1 (Katie) here, sometimes mentioning Kidlet #2 (Megan) along the way. I wouldn't want anyone to think that I'm neglecting our Kid with a Thousand Expressions in this blog.

So, let me tell you a little about Megs. She and Katie are full sisters, and look very much alike. At least, you can certainly tell at a glance that they are sisters. But, that's about where their similarities end. I like to say they are two sides of the same coin - opposite, and often opposed.

Megan has refused to wear anything approximating a dress since Grandma sent her a beautiful Easter dress in 2001. She looked like a miniature football player walking around in it. She was not amused. We have a picture of her in that dress, and her lower lip is sticking out about 6 inches. When I dig it up, I promise to post it here. (Don't say anything to her, 'kay?)

In the mean time, I have another precious picture to share. Megs was about 4 years old, and she was posing for her school picture at Myrtle Farm Montessori School. The photographer wanted her to hold a flower, and look sweetly at the camera. She tried. I think. Her chin looks like it was quivering.

So fast forward to the present. It's a rare moment when I can get Megs to sit still in front of the camera. She usually takes off and hides, or if trapped, gives me a silly, posed grin. I got lucky about a week ago. She was patient with me. She knew I was desperate, and she didn't dash my hopes. She gave me a genuine smile not generally seen in any of her pictures. I really like this picture. Then, I told her I wanted to take a picture of her eyes. I was amazed that she didn't going flying down the stairs. She didn't lock herself in the bathroom.

She let me take the pictures. In this first picture, you can see just how long her eye lashes are! They're incredibly long - longer than a half an inch (ie. greater than a centimeter). And they curl. She says they get "tangled" all the time.

We should have that problem, eh?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Where Do I Start?

Where do I start? I've got so many blog posts in my head, I think it's gonna burst. A long time ago, in a field far, far away...

I went wandering around the ranches nearby. I just had a need to get out of the house, away from everyone, and maybe do a little lone exploring. I took my camera with me to record any tidbits I might happen across. About half a mile from the house there is a ranch or two, as yet unt
ouched by developers. It's a wonder they haven't grabbed bought all the land yet. Seems that developers just keep on wearing down the owners of these old ranches, until either no resistance is left, or the original owner dies off and the heirs just want to dump the land.

Sorry, I digress. The ranch land which is not far from the house has cattle and sheep, or the land has been converted to vineyards. Some of the land still has the remnants of buildings too old to know their original purpose beyond what you can now make out.

There was an old gate that would have lead into the property, but it had rusted mostly away a long time ago. Someone had tried to do repairs, but the metal was pretty much eaten away from neglect and time.

I am really very fascinated by old, decaying buildings. I want to know more about them, the people who once laughed and lived in them. Falling back into the earth, they seem sad, yet not. It's as if they belong to earth, and really, they're just following the circle of life.

What is really sad to me is when these old "eye sores" are finally razed and a strip mall or an asphalt car lot is placed there in its place. All in the name of enriching city coffers. The inevitable result of malls and car lots is more traffic, more cement, more people, more noise. The bucolic existence that we love and embrace, disappears once again.

Wanting to follow a road I'd never taken, I wandered south and then east on that beautiful, warm Sunday. There was a small breeze and the "windmills" were turning in the distance. As the road wended around, I came to a driveway into yet another ranch, and this one had the windmills set very close to the road.
The windmills, in case you haven't got them around your stomping grounds, are used to generate electricity. The owners sell the electricity back to the local utility. Even homeowners who have solar panels or other means to generate electricity can sell power back to the utility.

Funny, while I was taking this picture, I heard some odd noises behind me. From across the road. Sort of a chewing noise. A whooshing noise. And ... a rustle. I turned around... and there they were. Cattle. Hanging out under the nearest oaks. Probably the only oaks they can find.

Another quarter turn, and I spied the rancher's home. You can always tell you're in California. The palm tree on a dry ranch is a dead give-away...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Uptown Girls

How quickly they grow up.

Katie is our girly-girl. While she has always disdained dolls, the color pink, and other accouterments of pink-girlhood, she is still through and through a girl extraordinaire. She runs with a girl-waggle, and she says she can't help it. She is so creative with her hair - and it always looks fabulous, for a twelve year old. She was born with beautiful nails - nails I would have killed for as a teen. I still would, if it mattered to me any longer. When she and her friends try on make-up - she seems to have an in-born skill to putting it on.

I am telling you, my friends, she is a force of nature. This is in-born. This is not from either of us, and certainly not from Kandy. Ahem.

So, when our neighbor Lori let us know that she and another Mom were trying to get a few of the girls together to go to a Team Glamour Class at
UpTown Girls, downtown today, Kandy and I thought, "Hmmmm... this would be right up her alley - AND would give her some skills that we certainly do not have!"

So, she pranced out the door, skipping down the stairs to Lori's car, already brimming with twelve year old girls. Off they went to learn how to make the most of what they were born with.

While none of us puts a lot of stock into appearance, it is a fact of life that how you present yourself to the world has a huge effect on how you're perceived and received. I think a warm, sincere smile can go a long ways. It doesn't hurt to enhance your other features, either.

She came home, her eyes all a-glitter, her hair curled. To tell you the truth, I do not think she looks all that much different, nor do I think she learned a lot about applying make-up. But, she did have fun.

I asked Megan if she wanted to go to a glamor class. Her reply?


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spotting Spot

Sometimes we lose track of Spot. So, then we're off trying to spot Spot. He is not always easy to find. Especially at night. Unless you happened to have a flashlight (or camera?).

Why is Spot named, "Spot" you might ask. He had a brother named "Bandit" whose similar markings made them hard to distinguish at a distance. Both had white socks, but Spot was so named because of a spot on his foot that could be seen from a distance. It's actually shaped somewhat like a heart.

∴ His name be "Spot."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Long Time, No See, Hear, Write...

I've been absent of late from the blog-o-sphere. When that happens, I always feel a little unfinished. Like, when dropping off to sleep there's a little nagging feeling that there was just one more thing I should have done today. But then, I am so exhausted and sore that my weariness overcomes that nagging little voice and I'm off to La-La Land. (No, I do not mean Los Angeles!)

The Powers That Be at work have sent out notification that they're laying off 500+ employees. I just don't know what we would do in this economy if I got laid off. I'm over 50, female, and I do NOT want to start over again. What I really want to do is my best work, and eventually retire. I don't need the added angst of trying to sell a house if I can't get work, what will I do about medical care, my kids, money?

Just seven years ago I weathered the dot com layoffs. I was laid off, but was able to get gainful employment within a couple of months to where I am today. It seemed quite safe until late last year. Then the wheels of change tossed everything I had worked for out the door. It certainly changed my UC retirement package. And, now, with the upcoming layoffs, I am really scared - mostly because it is completely beyond my control.

So I work hard, very hard. I try to make myself valuable and indispensable. All I can do is hope that will be enough.

And, as Lula points out in her comment on this post, at the same time, there are 500 people at risk. Just like that. If not me, it will be someone else. That hurts so much. I do not want to imagine. I can't imagine. Reality is too close.

This post is a bit on the down-side, I admit. It won't become a habit, I promise. I just had to lay out the fears so I could banish them.

Thanks for your support!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

So, Tax Day has Com & Gone. What's Left?


I hate this time of year. Filing taxes shows you all the money you make, and then how much you give to the State and then to the Fed. After mortgage (yes, we live in suburbia), bills, car payment... Well, let's just say there ain't a whole lot of scratch left for having fun.


It is time to re-visit the financial planner. The price of fuel is driving up the costs of driving (who knew?), food (have you priced a gallon of milk lately?), and even clothes. And anything left over?
Property taxes are killing what little we have left.

I feel a deep depression coming on, and I'm not talking about the stock market.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Coins: The Verdict


Thanks to eb and Lula for providing me with links and possibilities! eb's links got me hooked up with Tom Oberhofer, at Eckerd College, who pointed me in the direction of Spanish coins.

Lula was kind enough to point out that there was a lovely gold coin Escudos at website called, → Wake Forest Coins. It looks remarkably like my copper coin. Afterall, the side with the cross is just about identical. The other side was pretty similar, but not exact.

I wrote an email to the site's owner, but have yet to hear back. I also found a site called, All Experts, and I wrote to Brad Swain. He wrote back this morning:

Hi Deb, it seems to be a modern reproduction of a Peruvian silver 8 reales or gold 8 escudos coin.
You may find similar pieces on Ebay.com for comparison.
A reproduction?!?? He's kidding me, right? :-(

Well, I still haven't found anything definitive. I'd love to see another reproduction. Sometimes I have seen that they can be worth a bit of money in their own right... but not like a gold piece, doncha know. ::sigh::

Ultimately, I would hope that this is some kind of genuine coin, (ie. not a reproduction). But, I have a feeling I'll be disappointed...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What Kind of Coin is This?

A few years ago an old family friend passed away. Her name was Suzanne and she was French, and during WWII she had been in the Resistance. Somewhere along the way she married and American soldier. In the 1960's, she and her husband moved into the house next door to us, and she became a good friend of my Mother's. When she died she had been in a Catholic retirement home/facility in San Francisco. Surprisingly, she left me a lot of jewelry, clothes, coats and miscellaneous things. Among the items she left me was a lot of coins and paper money from Europe and Japan (where she and her husband were once stationed).

Among the coins is a very interesting piece (pictured above). I have not been able to figure out what it is, or even how old. I don't know if it is valuable, or just something cool. I believe it is copper or bronze.

If, my readers, have any idea what this is, would you please let me know? It would scratch that curious itch I have...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sappho: Back When the Internet Was Young

Way back "when," I worked at UCSB in the 80's, the Internet was young and wild. For most people, it didn't even exist. I mean, it certainly didn't become a successful commercial entity until the mid-90's, as an extension of ArpaNet.

I was in the Electrical Engineering Dept., building digital laboratories for engineering students. I brought in a few HP mini's of the day, and in the mid to late 80's it was these kinds of tasks that got me interested in UUNET. There weren't well-defined email protocols out there yet, and my email was sent via UUCP to cooperating computers. At the same time I had pulled down news feeds from UUNet, which was your basic bulletin board-like way of communicating via email lists... or something like that - very public, and not at all private.

I was interested in connecting with other lesbians - something very daring for me. After all, in my twenties, I was most certainly not out at that time. Matter of fact, I was pretty damned closeted. It's a sad truth, I know. I am almost ashamed to admit it. But, facts are facts, and there you have it. So. Where was I? Oh yeah, connecting with others of like mindedness. Well, it's lost in the bowels of my memory axons, but somehow I came across an email list called, "Sappho." I think this must have been after the first version of Majordomo list software was released.

O. M. G. There must have been 500 women subscribed to that list from all over the world. At that time - what a concept! There was an incredible amount of email flying back and forth and all over the place. There was a LOT of inane email and one-liners interspersed with some real gems. It was like a hunt to find those gems in that high noise to gem ratio of an email list. In a way, it was a precursor to the blogs and comments of today. It is interesting to see those of like-mindedness seeking each other out to share and exchange. Somewhat like those email lists of old.

After being on Sappho for a few years, it got tiring that so much trivia flew around, and it seemed like there were sub-conversations going on between some 10 to 20 members. We split off into another, more private list. The premise for this list was that we all loved writing and were interested in sharing our writing and ideas with one another. That focus never was very keen. Eventually, there was a rift among some list members, and again we had a split.

This list has (about) 12 women on it now. We have been "together" from the beginning - I'd say about 1988, or so. None of us has met all the members of the list. Some of us have met only one or two members. I think I have met all but two of our list members. We span the continent from Vermont to Texas to Wisconsin and out to California, and more. We have grown close over the years, surviving cancer, partner deaths, new partners, child births, job loss - everything life can throw at us over twenty years.

It's a lot like having a coffee circle of friends. A resource that we each hold very close to our hearts.

I thought to share this with you as a way of commemorating the longevity of such bonds. They seem tenuous, but they are really strong.

It is somewhat like the fibrous bonds that bloggers share. I know bloggers that have met and felt very close to their new friends. It is a lot like that.

Our world is indeed getting smaller. Our world can be our community.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

(click on the picture to see it really, really big!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lesbian Family dot Org

I am proud to say that this blog is now listed on LesbianFamily.org under their "Non-Bio" and "Big Kids" blogrolls. I'm jazzed. The website has had its ups and downs as it has picked up a following, but I think it has picked up some momentum now and can be a very good resource for other Lesbian families.

I must admit that they put my blog there after a little prodding by yers trewly. Hey, this blog doesn't rock and roll waving the Lesbo Flag, but, we have our own contribution to make, just the same.

We have never been the lesbians that shout out our allegiances. All who know us would agree that we are pretty low key people. We do enjoy living and contributing in our community as open, partnered lesbians with two children who are working for inclusiveness and understanding. It is the way we live, how we live, and what we contribute to the community on the daily basis that makes our family matter. It makes our community notice us, acknowledge our presence, and by so knowing, we are not unknown.

Our presence makes this community a safe place for other lesbian and gay families. We wish to make our mark by being who we are and not hiding that.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday Monday...

This Monday and next Monday morning are each being devoted to Team Building for the team I am on at work. This borders very close on the touchy-feely thing that I so dislike at work. While it gets close to that, it is actually a useful use of our time in that we learn more about each other, how to interact with one another in order to attain our team goals.

I am not particularly fond of this – I feel so - exposed. But, this time around I have a bit more vested in the process than in previous times where I have done similar work. I have been asked to be the technical lead of our infrastructure team, and the wallflower in me cringes while my ego swells.

Can you say, “Conflicted?”

So. Perhaps some of you are aware of a Personal Profile System. The front of the workbook says that this system enables you to:

  • identify your behavioral profile,
  • capitalize on your behavioral strengths,
  • increase your appreciation of different profiles, and
  • anticipate and minimize potential conflicts with others.
The participants answer a bunch of multiple choice questions and eventually come up with a DiSC score and graph: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness are graphed to give you a profile. My profile, a 4355 = Perfectionist – high S and C, but not real high. I’m actually quite middle of the road, but I need somewhere to hang my hat, I guess.

Okay, all this mumbo-jumbo does have a use. When working with people on your own team, sometimes it helps to know how the other person processes information. It also helps to know if they are more of a driver, or if they’re a follower. Someone might be an influencer, loves being around people, while others (like me) finds it hard to be around a lot of people and tends to work alone. It’s useful to have this insight into others, if in fact you care enough to get past a stumbling block to get to a common goal.

We also filled out a worksheet which helped us to figure out how we prefer to process information, visually, audibly or kinetically (see, touch, feel). I scored equally high on visual and kinetic input, audible being a little less. However, I was surprised to learn that a co-worker scored near zero on audible input, and very high on visual. She also happens to be quite hyperactive, and has learned to channel her energy quite well. She has a very hard time sitting still, and is constantly moving (I try not to sit next to her in meetings as she can be quite active…).

Now, I have been through two other DiSC sessions in my 7 years here, and I have noticed one constant. There is always at least one person in the group who feels that his or her time is being wasted, and “all this matters on your mood” when you take the test, and “if I took the test next week, my answers will most likely be different,” ad nauseum.

IMHO - what these people fail to understand is that it is a tool, a means for getting past obstacles, forming working groups, group structure, etc. I have often heard this person lament that he cannot understand why "no one listens to me." I wonder if perhaps it really just the opposite – he is not listening to them.

I think that new dimensions, new stretches are what keeps a person alive and active. The same would hold true for the day-to-day work and achieving short and long term goals.

So I put it to you all:
  1. Have you ever had training of this nature?
  2. What did you think about it?
  3. Did it help you?
  4. Did it help your fellow workers?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Meme for a Sunday Afternoon

I thought I might escaped being tagged, but Lula tagged me for this one. I thought Zirelda or Maria did this one, too, but I can't find the pertinent posts. I think it's a conspiracy. They're hiding those posts from me. They must be. My memory can't be that bad, can it?

Okay here it is (brace yourselves):

1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 (or more) pages.
Oh boy. This is not exciting at all. I can't help it if I'm a nerd. It is who I am. That said, the nearest book here at my desk is "Unix Power Tools." This is a reference that I use at work occasionally. It is over 1100 pages, and I don't need it very often any more, but it does come in handy when I have a brain freeze.

2. Open the book to page 123 and find the 5th sentence.
Uh-oh. Again I'm in trouble. Page 123 is actually just a title page for Part Two of the book, "Let the Computer Do the Dirty Work." There are less than five sentences, but the last one reads,

What is it they say? "Time spent sailing is not subtracted from your life." I don't know about that, but I do know that time spent learning the intricacies of the shell is seldom wasted. - Tim O'Reilly
Please don't ask me what that means, I have no idea. Yes, we're in trouble now.

3. Post the following 3 sentences
Okay, I must apologize in advance. The next three sentences are going to put you to sleep. It's not my fault, really. I can't help it if I'm a nerd. You know that, right? Okay, here we go. Hang on to your hat:
As we've said, the shell is just another program. It's responsible for interpreting the commands you type; there are three or four commonly used shells, and several other variants kicking around. Interpreting your commands might seem simple enough, but a lot of things happen between the time you press RETURN and thie time the computer actually does what you want.
Please don't turn me in to the blogging police. I really didn't mean to torture my readers. I suppose I could have lied and found a decent book with something succinct or witty to say. Maybe I should have. I am not sure there is a purpose to this meme except to maime and humiliate the blogger who consents to do it.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Show Must Go On!

Last night was opening night to Katie's Middle School musical, "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown." (Click the link for a video of the opening number by the company.) For her first foray into the dramatic arts, Katie chose to be in the crew backstage rather than try out for a singing/acting part. I think that she made a wise choice. She's not a jump-into-the-deep-end kinda girl. She has enjoyed the whole experience. She has made a lot of new friends, learned most of the lines of all the actors, and has pretty much had an overall positive experience.

Opening night was a wonderful, adrenaline filled evening for all the kids. The performances are being given at our Livermore High School, where there is a
theatre available for these venues. Not just some stinky multi-purpose room. There is even an orchestra pit. These middle school kids pulled off a pretty wonderful performance. Of course, being a musical, they all had to sing and dance. There were some very good singers, and some not so very good singers (kinda hard on the ears, but oh, well - they're just kids!). It all evens out when sweetened by the fact that these are kids in our community. We saw our elementary school principle and her partner there, as well as many, many parents with whom we have become acquainted over the past school year.

Katie's middle school PTA sponsored the event providing the money for costumes, props and any other expenses associated with the production. Kandy, my partner, is VP on the PTA, so she was quite thrilled to see their support come to such fruition.

Afterward we went to Stone Cold Creamery to celebrate with scoops of creamy ice cream or sorbet. Yummy! It seemed as if everyone in the cast and crew were there with parents in tow. We kept them open about an hour after closing time, and happily, if wearily we made our way home.

This morning Katie woke up complaining that her stomach hurt. No fever. Hmmmm... Thinking that perhaps the daily doses of Naprosyn were having a detrimental effect on her stomach, i gave her some Mylanta to try and see if it helped.

It didn't help.
Can't this girl catch a break???

Becoming more concerned, but not knowing what was going on, we decided to wait and see.

Didn't have to wait long. Everything came back up. The kid has a stomach virus. So much for tonight's performance. By the time we called the director and others involved, we heard of 3 others coming down with the same thing - including the girl who plays Lucy, a central character, next to Charlie Brown himself.

No under-studies, either. Ack!

I can' t wait to hear how the show goes tonight. I hope Lucy (Jenny) can pull it off. Knowing that Katie is feeling better tonight, I hope Jenny feels well enough to sing and dance and stay upright while doing so!