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...

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?