Friday, December 24, 2010

Nana Celebrates Christmas

I write this several days before Christmas.  It has been snowing off and on for several days.  I have ventured outside only as far as the hot tub...and if anyone had been watching, that would have been a sight!  Stark naked I picked my way through the snow.  My bare feet sank through the powder to the underlying ice.  It's probably less than 10 feet from the patio door to the hot tub and each time I made this trip over the past few days I worried about falling.  Even though I am officially a senior citizen, I don't wear a panic button.  If I went down, my naked, lumpy body would be found frozen in the drifts.  What a Christmas memory that would make for the unlucky family member who found me!

We planned to drive to San Diego to spend Christmas with my brother and his family.  Our children and grandchildren will all meet us there.  The snow made us rethink our plan.  Although I was looking forward to a road trip, we decided to replace bad roads and holiday traffic with the chaos of air travel.

So, Christmas day I will have everyone I love under one roof...or, we'll be stuck in various airports across the country!
Our granddaughters, who live in Texas, have never seen snow.  We've planned a trip to the mountains to introduce them to snow angels, sledding, and numb fingers.  Nana has purchased a complete snow wardrobe for each of them.

We last visited our grandchildren at Thanksgiving.  Several times we watched our youngest granddaughter, who is three, play "beach party."  She has never seen the ocean or a beach, so her concept of a beach party is to put a blanket on the floor and drag all her toys out to share a snack.  When asked what she was doing, she replied "It's a beach party,"  as if it should be obvious to anyone with half a brain.  This next week we will go from the snow covered mountains to the sandy shore and show her what a real beach looks like, and we'll probably have a snack on a blanket in the sand.

The last time that my family was together at Christmas was four years ago when my mother died.  We all gathered in San Diego to be together and to clean out her house.  So again this year, this time under joyous circumstances, everyone I love will be under one roof for Christmas.  I will sleep knowing that everyone is safe and warm. 

Merry Christmas everyone.  I hope you and the ones you love are safe and warm this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

WTF: Nana Comments on Shopper Style

WTF Wednesday is a semi-regular feature of this blog. It documents the things that have made me pause, slap my forehead and say "What the f**k!" Well, that and I just like saying WTF. I'm retired. I don't have to watch what I say anymore. I'm not any one's role model.

I went Christmas shopping last week.  Mid-week the mall, while not deserted, was considerably less crowded than on the weekend.  At least many of the small kids were in school so the high pitched wails were limited to babies crying.  Macy's was having another one-day sale, selling the same stuff that was on sale yesterday and would be on sale again tomorrow at "the best price of the season!"  People were carrying around huge bags of purchases.  Cashmere sweaters were on three get 50% off.  Even jeans were an additional 30% off.  Judging by the amount of merchandise leaving the store, we should have the best dressed population in the state.

As I looked around the customers at the mall I thought that all the purchases must be for mailing to out of town relatives.  The crowd isn't dressing up to the standards of the clothing shown in the stores.  Why is this?

People spend a lot of time shopping and there are lots of cute styles in all shapes and sizes.  Why then, when I look at a crowd in the mall, is it hard to find anyone who is well-dressed?  I sat in the food court and watched the shoppers stroll by.  There was lots of flannel, torn jeans and sweatshirts...and these were not the stylish versions of those items.  What happens to all that fashionable clothing once it is paid for and wrapped in tissue for the trip home.  Is it all sucked into a black hole, never to reappear?

Does everyone save their "good" clothes for some special event that I am not invited to?  Perhaps it is time to break out the good clothes anytime you go out in public.  What if you were to run in to Oprah or George Clooney and you weren't wearing your best outfit? 

Sometime back I wrote a post about the website People of Walmart.  The site shows photos of shoppers at Walmart.  The  mall shoppers weren't quite as outlandish as the people of Walmart, but they were sloppy.  When did it become appropriate to wear pajamas and slippers to the mall?  When is it ever good for an ample woman to show bare midriff?   Why spend so much money on fashionable clothing and not wear it out in public? 

If you see me in the mall during the holiday season, I'll be the well-dressed one in the classic, tasteful holiday sweater.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nana Looks Back to the Future

I found this piece of writing while cleaning out an old flash drive.  It was written when I was assistant principal at the high school.  Now that I have been retired for over a year, it is fun to look back and remember what I looked forward to in retirement. It's every bit as good as I hoped it would be!

Occasionally, on cold, dark mornings when I wake before the 5:45 alarm, I stay curled up between my cozy flannel sheets and entertain the fantasy that I have the power to call off school. Ahh, to remain in my snug nest, at least until the first glimmers of sunrise appear! To spend the day, snowed in, with a cup of tea, a novel with no educational value, and a cat curled at my slipper-shod feet would be heaven. I might even make time to watch “The View” or check in to see who joins Reggis as the inept guest host du jour.

This, however, is a fantasy that doesn’t last long.  In reality, when we have a snow day I’m awakened with a phone call from the principal long before my alarm is scheduled to go off.  I leave my flannel nest even earlier than usual to start making calls to staff to notify them that school is cancelled. I arrive at school well before first light to start answering phone calls from students and parents.

I know, better than anyone, that I don’t want to have the power to cancel school.  It is truly a thankless task.  Regardless of the decision that is made, 50% of the population will be unhappy. When school is cancelled, the parent in town will look out the window at the plowed and sanded city streets and complain that those school people will use any excuse not to work. When school goes on as scheduled the rural parent will look out at the snow blown landscape and complain that those school people don’t care about the safety of kids. No matter what we do, we can’t win.

The general public doesn’t realize how carefully the decision to cancel or delay school is made. Our assistant superintendent and the bus company representative actually drive the bus routes starting at 4:00 A.M. to decide if it is safe for the buses to be on the road. Even if it’s safe to travel, the assistant superintendent must then consider if the school sites are safe for students once they arrive at school. Consider how many feet of sidewalk must be cleared at each of the seven Hermiston schools just to get kids safely from the buses to their classroom. Then think about clearing parking lots so staff can park. All this is done by our regular school maintenance staff.  There is no special SWAT snow removal team on standby ready to spring into action.  An early morning snowstorm doesn’t leave much time for maintenance staff to get a school ready for 500 elementary students.

Snow days aren’t much fun for me now. On our last snow day I spent the morning answering the same questions over and over again.

“Yes, school is cancelled.”
I was actually still getting this question two hours after school should have started.

“Yes, the roads in town are clear now but rural roads have not been sanded and the bus company felt it was unsafe to send out the buses.”

I still have the fantasy. Maybe when I retire I’ll enjoy the snow days more. Or, better yet, I’ll enjoy sleeping late, trashy novels, and mugs of tea everyday!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WTF Wednesday: Christmas Kitties?

WTF Wednesday is a semi-regular feature of this blog. It documents the things that have made me pause, slap my forehead and say "What the f**k!" Well, that and I just like saying WTF. I'm retired. I don't have to watch what I say anymore. I'm not any one's role model.

Christmas Kittens 460-0825

I saw this sign posted on several street corners in a residential area in Kennewick, Washington.  I'm not sure why it struck me as strange, but I was almost overwhelmed by the urge to call the number...
hmmmmm  Christmas kitties.  I have so many questions for them...
Yes, I'm calling about your Christmas kittens.  How do you usually prepare them?
Ugh, yes, how long would I need to cook these Christmas kitties?
How many people will a Christmas kitten serve?
What do you suggest I serve with Christmas kitties?
I promise this blog feature has not turned into an anti-animal rant!  I do like animals...especially kitties, but not deep fried!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nana Breaks Out the Holiday Sweaters

My daughter hates themed clothing, yet I am drawn to it like a moth to a flame.  I am a teacher.  It is practically required for teachers to own seasonal clothing.  Even now that I am retired it is difficult for me to pass up a sale on Christmas sweaters.  Last year when I was shifting my wardrobe from winter to spring, I actually tossed several holiday sweaters in the Goodwill bag in an effort to move my wardrobe to retirement wear.  Remembering this, it was a surprise to me to find that I still had at least five Christmas sweaters when I opened up my sweater storage box last week.  Unlike some of those hideous sweaters that you see on the Internet, I like to think that my sweaters are tasteful and classic.  My daughter rolls her eyes and says "Mom, are you trying to look like a teacher?"

As I searched google images for a picture to go with this posting, I began to rethink my daughter's position on themed clothing.  Page after page of red and green sweaters adorned with reindeer and sparkly stars assaulted my eyes.  Maybe my daughter is right?

But, there's something so festive about wearing red during the Christmas season.  And, if there's a few sequins...even better!  I didn't buy any new seasonal sweaters this year.  I did, however, find a turtleneck with a small, tasteful, candy cane embroidered on the neck.  It will be perfect under one of my red sweaters.  So I guess one of my adjustments to retirement is transitioning my wardrobe to non-teacher style.  I'm cutting back on holiday "professional" wear and adding more jeans. 

As I curb my dependance on gaudy sweaters, I can always embellish with accessories.  Teachers also have accessories, usually in the form of chunky wooden jewelry.  I have quite a collection of seasonal themed pins daughter hasn't said anything about not wearing seasonal jewelry.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WTF: Nana is Surprised By a Hairy Baby

WTF Wednesday is a semi-regular feature of this blog. It documents the things that have made me pause, slap my forehead and say "What the f**k!" Well, that and I just like saying WTF. I'm retired. I don't have to watch what I say anymore. I'm not any one's role model.

Last summer I visited my brother in San Diego and one evening we went to downtown San Diego for dinner.  We found a great Italian restaurant and decided to be seated at the outside tables.  Downtown San Diego is lively at night and we were enjoying both the food and the people watching.  A couple walked by pushing a stroller.  That's when I said "What the f^&k?"  There wasn't a baby in the stroller, but a hairy little dog.  I remember thinking at the time something unkind about those crazy Californians.

Last week I'm in Macy's in the midst of hoards of holiday shoppers.  An older couple (yeah, Nana's still in denial...they were probably my age) passes me pushing a stroller and I think "How nice, they're out with a grandchild."  Nope, it's a f^%king dog!  The aisles of the stores are jammed with people and they're pushing around a huge stroller with a dog.  Give me a break!

Now, before you start sending me hate mail, please understand that I don't dislike animals.  I think a working service dog has every right to be in Macy's, but at the height of Christmas frenzy, I think that precious little Fifi could be left at home or at doggy daycare.

Why are people compelled to drag their dogs everywhere these days?   It can't be fun for dogs to be exposed to the noise and crowds at the mall during the Christmas season.  What is wrong with people that they can't leave a dog for an hour or two to go shopping?  To tell you the truth I feel the same way about small children in the stores at Christmas...but you have to hire a babysitter for a child!

Call me old fashioned, but I think dogs belong in backyards, and parks, and running free in the fields not in the shoe department of Macy's.   

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nana Reaches a Milestone: 100 posts

When I started to blog in January, 2010, I made a commitment to myself to blog for at least three months.  It is now 11 months later and today I celebrate reaching my 100th post.  So here are a few things I learned while getting to this milestone: 

  • I like to write and even though I have periods with no original thoughts or absolutely nothing to say, I still like the process of writing.
  • I like finding exactly the right words.
  • I despair that just about every other blogger writes better than I do (especially Mr. London Street , Bruce and Legacy.)
  • I wonder if I sometimes share too much.
  • I wonder if sometimes I don't share enough.
  • Does anyone really care about my silly little stories?
  • I worry about maintaining a theme and then I say "f^&K it" and post whatever crosses my mind at the time.
  • I anxiously scan my blogger reading list waiting to read the next posting of my blogger buddies.
  • I throughly enjoy the cyber friends I have made through blogging.  I worry about Mrs. Midnite and her psycho neighbor's vendetta against her dogs, and  Kate and her marriage problems, and my heart aches for Sally as she grieves for her daughter, and I learn from the experiences of others how to adjust to retirement.  Linda, Rosaria, June, and DJan have all provided insight into the next step in my life.  I love the glimpses into the lives of others (Dan, Uncle Skip,  and the Brighton Pensioner ) even though I've never met them in person, I feel like I know them. 
  • True confession...I am so darn envious of the bloggers with followers in the triple digits.  What am I doing wrong?
  • I am grateful to the followers who faithfully read and comment on what I have to say.
I thought about sharing links to my favorite posts, but 100 posts were a lot to sift through!  It is interesting to me that the posts that are most meaningful to me are frequently the ones that get little response.  I think my most frequently read post is the one about getting a Bag of Crap from Woot.

So thank you to all of you who have read this blog and followed me on this journey.  I look forward to the next milestone, completing a year of blogging, in January.

Jann aka #1Nana

Friday, December 3, 2010

Nana Tells the Truth About Gastric Bypass

I had mentioned in a previous post that I had had gastric bypass surgery and one of my regular followers commented that she didn’t know that about me…yes, Nana has a few stories that haven’t been told!

Eight years ago I weighed 285 pounds, maybe more. I had stopped weighing myself and didn’t look at the scale in the doctor’s office. I delayed trips to the doctor because I wanted to avoid the lecture about weight that I knew I would receive. My irrational thinking had me delaying appointments with the doctor for a week, then two weeks, and then months had gone by. By the time I finally made an appointment I was due for two lectures…weight and not making my regular appointment.

I had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and was taking the maximum dosage of oral medication. My doctor warned me that I had to lose weight or start taking insulin.

I tried every diet. I did Optifast, the liquid diet that Oprah once had some brief success with. I tried Nutrisystems. I did Atkins. I was a Weight Watchers repeat offender. I never managed to stick with a program long enough to drop the significant amount of weight that I needed to lose and as soon as I fell off the diet wagon, I gained the lost weight and more back.

My doctor casually suggested gastric bypass and without doing any reading or research, I made an exploratory appointment with a surgeon in a neighboring community. I had to have a lot of pre-op tests; there were lots of hoops to jump through, and mountains of paperwork. My insurance at the time, Blue Cross of Oregon, wouldn’t cover the surgery even though I had significant weight related health problems. My husband’s insurance, Blue Cross of California, did cover it. I think California is more body conscious; they’d pay to get rid of fat!

A few weeks after the first mention of gastric bypass, I was stripped down in the surgical ward at Kennewick General Hospital waiting for my turn to go under the knife. I remember wondering if it was too late to back out. Everything had moved so fast and all of a sudden I was having surgery. I didn’t worry about dying. I worried about having a tiny stomach and a huge appetite and driving myself crazy because I always wanted more.

The surgery was brutal. I spent three days in intensive care and came home on day six. At first I could keep nothing down, not water, not soup, nothing. I worried about how I would be able to sustain myself once the excess weight was lost. How would I ever consume 1,500 calories a day? For the first few weeks the only thing I could keep down was Slurpees. Gradually I learned how to eat. I could only manage two or three bites of solid food. If I had more, it would come right back up. I learned that I could have food or I could have a beverage; I couldn’t have both. I was used to having a glass of milk with dinner, not anymore. If I have a glass of milk, I have no room left for food. The response to over-eating is immediate and forceful. I learned to immediately recognize the signal and I learned the consequence of ignoring it…and then I finally learned to honor it.

Gastric bypass surgery changed my life. For the first time in my life I have an off switch. Prior to the surgery I had a bottomless pit. I could eat and eat and never feel satisfied. I have learned to make choices in what I eat because I can’t have it all. Sometimes I make good, healthy choices and sometimes I only have room for dessert. I’ve learned to eat the best part of the steak first. Those four small bites of tenderloin are all I have room for. If I eat salad and bread with a meal, I won’t have room for the main course. I have to decide what I really want and eat it first, because there’s only room for that first choice. I have to make better choices because my capacity is limited.

Over time my capacity for food has gradually increased. I still can’t eat a three course meal, but I can have a little salad, a little bread, and a little bit of a main entrĂ©e…but there’s never room left for dessert. I’m living proof that it is still possible to gain weight after gastric bypass. I can’t eat much at one time, but I can eat a little all day long. I need to pay attention to what I eat and resist grazing. I still need to make healthy choices. The gastric bypass did not cure my sweet tooth.

A lot of the fat melted away, but the skin doesn’t bounce back to its pre-fat form. My surgeon said I would be back under the knife for a tummy tuck to remove the belt of sagging skin around my middle. He was wrong. For me the gastric bypass was about getting control of eating, not vanity.

It has been eight years and I am at a healthier weight. I could stand to lose a few pounds, but my doctor is no longer lecturing me. I am on a minimal dosage of medication for Type 2 diabetes. My blood pressure and cholesterol are under control. The long term impact of gastric bypass is still a topic debated in medical journals, but it has been successful for me.

Sometimes when I am out shopping I see grossly obese people and want to tell them about gastric bypass. It is not an easy answer. It is painful and expensive and carries a medical risk. But, it worked for me.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

WTF: Along the Highways

WTF Wednesday is a semi-regular feature of this blog. It documents the things that have made me pause, slap my forehead and say "What the f**k!" Well, that and I just like saying WTF. I'm retired. I don't have to watch what I say anymore. I'm not any one's role model.

Several years ago I began noticing bottles along the side of the highway.  I remember thinking that people were drinking a lot of Mountain know, that yellow colored beverage.  Later, after seeing many more bottles with liquid of varying colors from sunshine yellow to amber tinted brown, I realized the roadside was littered with bottles of urine.  That's when I thought "What the f^*k!"

This morning I drove I-82 north to Tri-Cities and noticed many bottles along the side of the highway.  Soon our weather will change and snow will cover the containers.  Little hills of human waste will lie in wait for unsuspecting roadside wanderers. 

I snapped this photo by the side of the on-ramp on I-84. The liquid was of the pale yellow variety.

This is a disgusting practice.  What the f**k are these drivers thinking?  I can understand peeing in a bottle in an emergency, but why not dispose of it appropriately.  Or, here's a hint, plan ahead and stop at a rest area! 

 Read more about this problem at

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why Nana Won't Be Joining the Paparazzo Any Time Soon

After facing a blizzard, cancelled flights, and hoards of holiday travellers with screaming children, the spouse and I arrived in Austin, Texas to spend Thanksgiving with our daughter and her family.  Today we headed home.  When we arrived at the Austin airport there was security staff clustered around two dark sedans and an SUV parked in front of the entrance door.  The security staff were dressed in dark suits and had ear pieces with those squiggly cords running down their necks into their collars.  Obviously someone important was arriving.

We checked in at Delta and discovered that our flight was delayed.  So I decided to hang around the entrance and find out who the important person was.  I asked one of the members of the protection detail who was arriving.  He told me that he wasn't allowed to say.  I asked him if it was worth waiting to get a picture for my blog.  He said he thought so.  So....I hung around and a few minutes later several of the protection detail came out the door with a tiny, white haired, elderly woman.  She looked familiar.  I'd seen her before, but I didn't have a clue who it was.

She walked by me and was ushered into the car...and then I remembered to take a picture.

I went and joined the spouse in the TSA screening line.  After having my water bottle confiscated because I had a half an inch of liquid left in the bottom, we made it through security.  I asked one of the airport security cops who the woman with all the security was.  He said that since she had left the airport he could tell me.  OMG...Sandra Day O'Conner, the first female Supreme Court Justice!!!

And that is why I will never be a paparazzi; I don't recognize a celebrity when she is two feet from me and it's a terrible photo!  I promise I'll do better if I ever run into George Clooney or Brad Pitt!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Nana Comes to Terms With Never Owning a Barbie

When I was a kid I remember really wanting a Barbie. My budget minded mother bought me a cheaper knock off.  It was a "Jan" doll.  Yeah, my name is Jann, but I still lusted after a real Barbie like my friends had.  With my Jan doll I had a little pink metal trunk, complete with tiny plastic hangers, to keep her clothes in. It even had a drawer to hold those miniature plastic shoes and accessories.

I don't think I ever owned a real Barbie. I've made up for it by over-indulging my granddaughters.  Much to their father’s dismay, they have naked Barbies all over their house. For some reason Barbie just can't seem to keep her clothes on. Occasionally we find her unclothed in a compromising position with one of the princesses: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or Tiana, to name just a few of her conquests.  That Barbie gets around. 

In my last Bag of Crap from Woot! I got a Brother in Arms figure.
For Thanksgiving we're going to visit the granddaughters and I’m taking the Brother in Arms. I think it's time that Barbie had a manly influence in the house!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WTF Wednesday: If You Can See the White Pieces, You're Following Too Closely

WTF Wednesday is a semi-regular feature of this blog. It documents the things that have made me pause, slap my forehead and say "What the f**k!" Well, that and I just like saying WTF. I'm retired. I don't have to watch what I say anymore. I'm not any one's role model.

Have you seen the commercial for Charmin where the bears claim to be bothered by specks of  toilet paper left behind after a wipe.  I saw the commercial and thought "What the f**k?" 

With all the problems in the world, why did Charmin feel the need to solve a "problem" that doesn't exist. Were consumers protesting in front of corporate headquarters demanding a solution to an age-old problem?  Who, besides gynocologists and porn stars is looking that closely?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nana Faces Reality

I got into one of those stupid war of words with a youngster on a blogger forum.  She was complaining about not getting a check for her junior college financial aid and having to fill out a form to receive it on a debit card, and after clicking a button to "complete later" the money still wasn't there and it's just so unfair!  I told her to get a grip and jump through the hoops to get her free government money.  Okay, I also said that anyone who couldn't figure out how to fill out the forms might not be college material.   

There was a time that college kids were grateful for scholarships and financial aid but now they treat it as an entitlement.  She wrote back that I was OLD and college has changed and adults just don't understand how hard it is now.  Like I said, it was a stupid little exchange.  But, it did make me stop and question...Am I that OLD?

I don't feel old.  The reality is that I have an AARP card in my wallet and I qualify for the senior discount at many stores.  I have grandchildren and I collect a pension, but not social security.  I'm still learning new things every day.

It has been less than 10 years since I last took a graduate level college course.   Have things changed that much?   I think that you get out of college what you put into it.  So much of the value of a college education depends on how much the participant invests in the experience.  I've known some  uneducated people who went to college...and four years later they were just as dense as when they started.  On the other hand, college can be a life altering experience if the student is open to new ideas and experiences.  I've also know some highly intelligent and wise people who had little formal schooling.

A college education is not just about what is presented in a classroom.  It is the exchange of ideas with other students from diverse backgrounds.  It is living on your own and accepting responsibility for your own learning.  For many students, college is adulthood with training wheels.  And one of the things you learn how to do is jump through the hoops to get what you want. 

So, yes, I guess I am old and I have a wealth of experience that isn't much valued these days.  But, I do have a graduate degree and my student loans were paid off long ago...and I'm smart enough not to get into anymore of these online pissing matches with kids.   I didn't learn that in college.  I try to learn from my mistakes.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nana Has Facebook Friends

I’m a fairly recent participant in Facebook. I joined to keep track of my grandchildren. My daughter posts the funny little things that they say and do, and I feel more a part of their daily life. I’ve also enjoyed keeping in touch with friends and co-workers from my pre-retirement life. I have reconnected with old friends and even “friended” a fellow blogger who I only “know” through the internet.

Sometimes I will see a friend out in the real world and will wonder how they knew about something that is going on in my life…and then I will remember that I wrote about it in the blog and the blog posts to Facebook. The world is becoming a much smaller place.

I’m not one to post the minutia of my life on Facebook, but I may be in the minority. I continue to be surprised by some of the content that others post, but, on the other hand, there are probably people surprised about some of what I’ve written about on the blog. Several of my Facebook friends post a daily “message from God.” So far God has not asked to friend me. That’s probably just as well because I find the “On this day God wants you to know…” messages a little creepy.

Bristol Palin was back in the news this afternoon apologizing for racist and homophobic slurs she and her sister, Willow, made on Facebook. I found it interesting that the news media labeled her statement as an apology. What she really said was that she and her sister "shouldn't have reacted to negative comments about our family. We apologize." She wasn’t really sorry for using the homophobic slurs, just sorry that she posted them on Facebook.

I don’t have a relative who is a potential presidential candidate, but I won’t be making any racist or homophobic comments.  And, I guess I won't be apologising for anything either.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WTF Wednesday: Didn't We Burn Our Bras in the Last Century?

WTF Wednesday is a semi-regular feature of this blog. It documents the things that have made me pause, slap my forehead and say "What the f**k!" Well, that and I just like saying WTF. I'm retired. I don't have to watch what I say anymore. I'm not any one's role model.

...and while the men and equipment are working the little women are all at home eating bonbons.

I passed this sign and the workers on my way to the freeway this morning.

In 2010 shouldn't these sexist signs be a thing of the past? 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nana Finds Common Ground With The Tea Party

On November 3rd the San Francisco board of supervisors passed legislation forbidding giving away toys in children’s meals unless the meals met strict dietary criteria. Today San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom vetoed this ban. I do not closely follow San Francisco politics, but Mayor Newsom has been in the news before. He was the official who authorized issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.

I’m a believer in a healthy diet for children, but I don’t think an occasional Happy Meal will kill them. Like most things in life, it’s all about moderation. In the interest of full disclosure I should let you know that my grandchildren had never crossed the threshold of McDonald’s until Nana took them there. They loved it, and every time I visit they want to go out to lunch. They also ate very little of their meal. They had a few sips of the chocolate milk and went right for the toy. Nana ate their french fries and most of their chicken nuggets while they climbed the structure in the playground.

In vetoing the ban on the sale of toys with Happy Meals Mayor Newsom said, "Parents, not politicians, should decide what their children eat, especially when it comes to spending their own money."

I have to admit that I’m developing some respect for this Mayor Newsom. In the recent elections many candidates campaigned on a platform of limited government, especially the Tea Party candidates, but too often these same politicians are the first to sponsor legislation to address some perceived flaw in society. Our first response should not be to create new laws. It is not the role of government to save us from ourselves.

There’s not much about the Tea Party that I agree with, but I do believe that government officials need to use better judgment in creating new regulations. I want a government that trusts me to make my own decisions about what is good for me and for my family. Protect me from the real evils of the modern world, not the ones made up for political hay.

Happy Meal toys are still in danger; the board of supervisors may vote to override the veto. Gavin Newsom, Democrat, is moving on to a new job. He won the election for lieutenant governor of California on November 2nd.

I’m going to visit my granddaughters next week. I’ll probably take them out to lunch…the toy is still their favorite part of the meal.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nana Swims in a Small Pool

Lost in the crowd

It is hard to be anonymous in a small town. While it is nice to know our neighbors and feel a sense of community, there are definitely times that I wish I could go unnoticed.

For eight years I served as the vice principal at our local high school. I left that job six years ago when I was promoted to a position at the central office. Now that I am retired from the school district, I occasionally substitute back at the high school. The students who knew me as assistant principal are long gone, but around town I am still occasionally recognized. There was a time that I couldn’t go through the drive through at McDonald’s without being recognized. I was known by name at most fast food establishments, not because I was a frequent customer, but because many of the workers attended the high school. It always made me nervous, wondering if I had sentenced some fast food worker to detention and if they were exacting revenge by spitting in my food.

I had gastric bypass surgery the last year I was at the high school. Over the course of the school year I lost about 100 pounds. Recently my husband and I were eating dinner in a local Mexican restaurant. The waitress asked me “Didn’t you used to work at the high school?” I told her that I did and asked her when she had graduated. She shared a little about what she had been doing since leaving high school and then said “I thought it was you, but didn’t you used to be fat?”

Being a public figure in a small town presents some challenges. I used to be a little uneasy taking my pop and beer bottles back to the local Safeway where it might be one of my students counting the mountain of beer bottles accumulated since my last visit. I could hear the talk in the hall at school. “Yeah, Mrs. T brought her beer bottles back on Saturday. She had $12.00 in beer bottle deposits!” I’ve known fellow teachers who made all their alcohol purchases out of town. There are certain drug store purchases that you wouldn't want to make locally if you live in a small town. Imagine parent teacher conferences and facing the parent who was the checker at Rite-Aid when you bought those fancy colored condoms…or even worse, the little blue pills!

A former band teacher at the high school had the best story about his run in with students outside of school. He had scheduled sick leave to have that test that we all hate…the colonoscopy. He checked into the local hospital early in the morning and was prepped, gowned up and wheeled into the exam room. Imagine his surprise when a group of students were led through the room. They were excited to see him and all chimed in “Hi, Mr. P.” He had chosen Career Day to schedule his test and hordes of his students were touring the facility.

Retirement has given me some anonymity and it’s safe to drive through McDonald’s. Now that I’m not employed I don’t have to be a role model and I can return all the beer bottles at once. I could even have a beer at lunch…too bad I don’t drink!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Top 5 Things I Wonder How I Ever Lived Without

I could fill this list with just technology. How did we ever live without cell phones, computers, the internet? But, once in awhile, in the middle of an every day task, I will stop and recognize satisfaction or a little burst of pleasure…delight in the ordinary.

1. Pizza cutter: I had never owned a pizza cutter until I bought one recently at the dollar store. The nice thing about the dollar store is that if the item doesn’t work out, you’re only out a dollar. I threw caution to the wind and tossed a pizza cutter in my shopping cart. For years I have been cutting my home-baked pizza with a large kitchen knife. Now my dollar store pizza cutter slides across the crust and I cut it into even slices with a minimum of effort. Luxury for just a dollar!

2. Underwear that fits: I suppose most people have underwear that fits. Several years ago I had gastric bypass surgery. I lost a lot of weight. Little by little I had purchased a whole new wardrobe, except for underwear. My old underwear was still serviceable; why waste money to replace it? One day I went shopping with a friend and she caught a glimpse of my bloomers and burst out laughing. I bought new underwear. I don’t know why I held on to the oversized undies for so long. Perhaps I was resisting letting go of the old self image, perhaps I’m just cheap. Undies that fit are a good thing.

3. Heated leather seats in my car: I love, love, love heated leather seats. I splurged when I bought my car back in 2004. I had never had heated seats and now I will never buy a car that doesn’t have them. As the weather grows colder this fall, I am looking forward to driving with a warm butt.

4. Slurpees: I love them. If there were a diet coke slurpee, the world would be a better place.

5. My blog: I’ve gotten so much pleasure from writing regularly and getting responses from my blogging buddies. My blog opened a whole new world to me and I have enjoyed “meeting” new people and learning about so many new things.

 Once I started making a list it was hard to stop. There are so many simple, everyday things that I enjoy. One of the great things about the slower pace of retirement is having time to reflect and take a moment to enjoy the simple pleasures of every day life.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WTF Wednesday: Halloween Pimps & Hos

WTF Wednesday is a semi-regular feature of this blog.  It documents the things that have made me pause, slap my forehead and say "What the f**k!"  Well, that and I just like saying WTF.  I'm retired.  I don't have to watch what I say anymore.  I'm not any one's role model.


I spent Halloween in Austin, Texas with my granddaughters.  At three and five they anticipate in each holiday activity with such joy.  They had a hard time waiting for it to get dark for trick or treating.

The hardest part is waiting for it to get dark!

Still waiting...

WHEN is it going to be dark?
  When the sun finally set we circled the neighborhood, ringing bells and remembering to say "Trick or treat," and sometimes remembering without prompting to say "Thank you, Happy Halloween!"  The girls went to about a dozen houses and were thrilled with their haul of candy.  We were back home and had them in jammies and in bed at their regular bedtime.

But the knocks on our door continued, and I got to see what the rest of the neighborhood was wearing for Halloween.  That's when I said "WTF!" 

When did it become appropriate to dress pre-teens and children as pimps and hos?  There were at least three pre-teen boys dressed as pimps and several pre-teen girls in whorish costume.  I get that a high school aged kid might find it funny to dress as a pimp, but a pre-teen?  Some nine year old's mother had to think "Gee, wouldn't Junior be cute as a pimp" and then drive to K-mart to buy the costume.  What does it say about a parent who would think this type of costume is suitable?  I can't imagine a parent saying to a little girl "Honey, why don't you be a whore this Halloween," or to a son "Junior, why not portray an exploiter of women for Halloween."

All I can say is "What the f**k!"  and be grateful that the granddaughters still want to be princesses.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nana Panders to Seniors

A week or so ago I wrote a post about adjusting to being a senior citizen.  I wrote the post using Windows Live Writer, a free program that I am just learning how to use.  I heard about it reading the blog of technogranny, one of the followers of this blog.   I thought that Live Writer might have enhanced capabilities and I'm sure I'll be dazzled as soon as I figure out all the features.  When I posted the piece to Blogspot the type was different from my usual postings and I couldn't seem to adjust the typeface.  I wound up just using the "Large" font size.  A reader commented that he enjoyed finding larger print on my blog. 

Light bulb moment....  

...if I'm writing a blog about adjusting to retirement and becoming a senior citizen, then maybe I should publish this little blog in a typeface that most of us of a certain age appreciate: LARGE PRINT!

And you younger readers, get used to it.  Trust me, there will come a time when you will really appreciate good lighting and large print.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nana's Money Saving Tip for Buying Books

My books had been boxed up in the garage for several months since we dismantled the old bookcase. I finally purchased new bookcases and hauled the boxes back in the house. Opening the boxes and shelving the books was like visiting with old friends. I love books. I have the hardest time getting rid of them. I even found myself debating about keeping copies of the 2008 Consumer Reports Buying Guide and  Investing for Dummies that was published in 2001.

Several months ago one of my blogging buddies, Linda over at Thoughts from a Bag Lady in Waiting, wrote a post about getting a book from  This website turned out to be the perfect solution to my book hoarding problem. I collected a pile of books that I was willing to part with and listed them on the website. For every book that I mail out to another member, I receive a credit that can be used to receive a book of my choice. The only cost to me is the postage to mail off my books to the members who request them.

Knowing that sending one of my books off will earn me a credit good for a new (to me) book,  has made it easier for me to let them go. Of course, the one flaw in this is that I’m not actually cutting down on the number of books I own, only retricting their multiplication. Well, maybe there are two flaws. No one has yet requested the Investing for Dummies book. There are just some books that have to be tossed!

I now have a comfortable credit bank for new books. I love shopping in all forms, and paging through the book lists has been a great way to feed my shopping addiction and not spend any money. As I adjust to retirement, it can’t be all senior meals at Denny’s and bus tours to the casinos. (And if you really believe that is what I've been doing with my time, you haven't been reading the blog!)  Seniors need creative ways to live on a fixed income and works for me.

If you decide to check it out, you need to register. Each household receives two free credits with a completed registration. On the registration there’s a place to list who referred you. Tell them MissNana sent you!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

WTF Wednesday: The Pepto Bismol House

WTF Wednesday is a semi-regular feature of this blog.  It documents the things that have made me pause, slap my forehead and say "What the f**k!"  Well, that and I just like saying WTF.  I'm retired. I don't have to watch what I say anymore.  I'm not anyone's  role model.

I was driving in to town on my regular route, north on SW 11th and then east on Hermiston Avenue, when out of the corner of  my eye I catch a glimpse of this house and I think "WTF!"

Who in their right mind paints an entire house the color of pepto bismol?  Was there a sale on hideous paint colors that I didn't hear about?  I can understand mixing up one gallon of this color before realizing that it was day-glow PINK,  but they had to mix up gallons and gallons to paint this entire house.  This color does not come pre-mixed, you have to request this color be mixed!

When I took this picture there were three bright red cars parked in the driveway.  Did they purposefully decide to buy cars that clashed with their house?

I suppose there are positives to chosing this paint color.  It must be easy to give directions to visitors...They are the only pepto bismol house in all of Hermiston. 

"We're the pink house on the left.  You can't miss us." 

The pink probably cuts down on the cost of exterior lighting at night.  I'm sure it's radioactive and glows in the dark. 

"Just follow the glow on Hermiston Avenue.  You can't miss us."

...And as you approach the house, you'll find yourself saying "What the f**k!"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nana Adjusts to Being a Senior Citizen

My new AARP membership card came in the mail last week. This Saturday I will turn 60. Sixty! That’s three score! Where did the time go? It seems like it wasn’t so long ago that I wasn’t trusting anyone over thirty…and now I’m twice that age.

Sixty is a benchmark, the gateway to the senior years. The junk mail from the Scooter Store and flyers on low cost burials are filling my mailbox. I imagine that I’ll start getting coupons for Depends and Assure any day now. I am already enjoying some of the benefits of reaching my golden years, delicious meals in smaller sized portions at fine dining establishments like Denny’s and a 10% discount at Ross Dress for Less on Geezer Day (known to the younger set as Tuesday.)

The spouse and I took a cruise in September. The boat was filled with older people. It came as a shock to me when, in a brief moment of enlightenment, I realized that they weren't older people, they were my peer group. I am a senior.

After a year and a half I still haven’t fully adjusted to retirement. I’ve gotten used to checking “retired” on the employment box on forms and I no longer get out of bed in the morning when it’s still dark, but in the back of my mind I still feel like this is a temporary state,  an extended summer vacation.  I can’t really grasp the idea of never working again.  It’s not like I’m knocking on doors looking for work; I actually quite like not having any responsibility. But, I still read the want ads and I have a closet full of suits that I can’t bring myself to get rid of.

I recognize that I’m in the leading edge of the baby boomers. So many of us are moving into retirement and our senior years. Does everyone struggle with adjusting to the changes that come with age and retirement?

Sixty! One more year and I’ll have to change the name of this blog.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Writing Topics

I’ve been pondering writing topics, trying to get back into the routine of writing regularly. By pondering I mean sitting on the couch with my laptop and eating snacks. So far I’ve had two apple turnovers and a diet coke and no inspiration.

I thought that perhaps I should have a themed writing day on my blog. If every Monday I wrote on the same topic that might get me into a routine. Since it was Monday, I was inspired to start with Money Saving Monday. Every Monday I would write tips for retired folks on how to live well on a fixed income. Now that’s a blog I would read. Although  I’m pretty good at living cheaply, that's because I'm a recluse and rarely spend money.  That's my only tip...don't spend money. So, I wrote nothing but a catchy title.  Perhaps I need more snacks to help me figure out money saving tips.

I’ve noticed that all the themed writing posts on other blogs are alliterative. So I started making a list:

Tuesday Tips, Trash Talk Tuesday, Tuesday Travel

Wednesday Wonders, WTF Wednesday

Thursday …what goes with Thursday?

Friday Fun, Fashion Friday, Friday Fads, Friday Features

…and none of this is very inspiring. The things that I am an expert in, like grant writing and shopping, don’t really hold my interest any longer. What the F**k Wednesday is the most appealing topic and how pitiful is that?

It’s a good thing that I’m going to visit the grandchildren this week…they’re always good for some heart-warming blog stories.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sister Wives


I hate to admit it, but I love reality TV.  From The Real Housewives of New Jersey to Hoarders, I eagerly grab the opportunity to peer into the lives of other people. 

Last week Oprah had the cast of Sister Wives on her show.  Sister Wives chronicles the life of a polygamous family in Utah.  The father, Kody, has three wives and on the last episode he got engaged to his future forth wife, Robyn.  The family lives together in a sort of multi-plex house with all their children.  The fiance lives a few blocks away in a separate house with her children from a previous marriage.

I originally tuned in to Sister Wives because I was curious.  Sometimes I have a hard time just getting along with my one husband.  I couldn’t imagine having to deal with a husband and other wives, not to mention more than a dozen children.  What I saw in the episodes that I have watched is a family that is a lot like other families.  Everyone works, they take care of each other, and they squabble just like most families I know.  All that being said, there is still a weirdness factor…he has three (now four) wives!  He kisses one goodbye and then goes to bed with the woman in the next room. 

My fascination is with how the wives deal with their jealousies, and they quite openly discuss this, and how they manage to make it work.  And I still wonder if they are being truthful.  Are they really as content as they say they are?

Kody is being investigated for felony bigamy in the state of Utah.  If he were charged and convicted, he could face a jail sentence of five years. Oprah asked the wives and Kody what they would do if he went to prison.  They said they didn’t even want to think about it.

This makes interesting food for thought.  With all the focus recently on gay marriage, here’s another nontraditional marriage under fire.  Is it appropriate for the state to restrict the rights of adults?  I am a supporter of the right of gay couples to marry.  I don't believe that the state should interfere in decisions made by consenting adults, regardless of their genders.  Why isn't it then equally as intrusive for the state to outlaw polygamous marriages?  

The married individuals in Sister Wives  are all adults.  Unlike the families who were prosecuted in Texas, there is no question of children forced into marriage or of sexual abuse.  The family is self-supporting.  What is the interest to society and to the state to limit the rights of these adult individuals to live and love whoever they please?

It's not for me.  I don't think I could ever accept a plural marriage...and I hope my children and grandchildren don't make that choice either.  But, it is their choice.  It is time for the state to leave these very personal decisions up to individual citizens.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nana Substitutes in Spanish Class

Today I substituted  at the high school.  I like to substitute in Spanish because it gives me an opportunity to practice speaking Spanish.  Today was something of a challenge because the teacher left a note on the electronic sub notification that said “Use yesterday’s lesson plan.  The classes are the same.”  The high school is on an every other day class schedule.  The problem was that the previous day’s sub didn’t leave the lesson plan.  Another Spanish teacher across the hall found a copy of the lesson plan that the teacher had emailed her…whew, saved. 

The relief at having a lesson plan in hand was short lived.  The lesson plan called for watching a movie about the Incas and a worksheet.  The first period bell rang and I still hadn’t located the video.  The students were very helpful.  They wanted a video.  They had visions of getting an extra hour of sleep in a darkened classroom.  We finally located the tape in another classroom.  I never did find the worksheet. 

I put the tape in the VCR and pushed the play button…that gives you an idea of how old this movie was.  Can you even still buy a VHS movie?  I flipped off the lights and for the next hour we were enveloped in darkness as the tape droned on about the Incas.  The scenes of “modern day Peru”  showed streets filled with cars from the 1970’s. I don’t know for sure because I couldn’t see in the dark, but I guess that at least half of the class was probably asleep before the introduction was over. 

During the prep period I ran out to pick up a sandwich for lunch and some teaching supplies.

I watched that movie three times today.

Here are two notes that students left me:

sub letter 001
sub letter 003

Now this could be a heart warming story of bonding with students and successful teaching, but I know the truth.  The “lesson” was horrid.  Oh, those “teaching supplies” that I picked up on my prep…tootsie pops.  You’ve got to have snacks for a movie.  And that’s how Nana became a favorite sub.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Nana Confesses

The Portland evening news is reporting that a high school in the valley has banned swearing. Students who use profanity face suspension. The newscast is asking viewers to vote in a poll if students should receive a suspension for swearing at school. I’ll have to tune in at 11:00 and see how viewers are voting.
Have these people not been around a teenager lately? Have they not listened to music that wasn't purchased at and censored by Walmart?

I have to admit that I use an occasional profanity myself. Okay, I’m waiting for the gasps to die down. Yes, Nana swears. I’ve even been known to use the “F” word. Sometimes there’s nothing that does the job better than a carefully chosen profanity. That was one thing that I really enjoyed when I first retired…I was no longer under any expectation to mind my mouth in public. I enjoyed being able to call bulls**t, bulls**t. And restraint was one of the things I had to relearn when I started occasionally substituting at the high school.

If you’ve been around teenagers, you know that they don’t always monitor their use of vocabulary. Some kids liberally use profanity when talking to each other. When I was a kid my mother would chastise us for using “shut up.” She cringed when we used “bitchin.” As in, “Wow, that’s a bitchin pair of madras shorts you’re wearing.”

Perhaps the difference now is that some students, and in some cases their parents, don’t see the line between using profanity in a casual conversation with friends and in using it in a more formal environment such as a classroom. When I was an assistant principal I had parents in my office say things like:

“What the f**k is wrong with that bi*ch teacher? Why is she picking on my kid?”

“Why did I have to come down to this f**king school?”

“What’s the f**king problem now?”

…and we wonder why their kids have problems understanding the boundaries. 

I don’t get the vapors when I hear a kid use profanity in my classroom. I do remind them that using profanity in the classroom isn’t appropriate and for most kids that’s enough. The kids who push it are the ones that are looking for a fight. They’re testing to see if I’ll enforce the rules. I will.

I’ll be thinking “Shut  up you little as*wipe.” But, instead I’ll just give them the golden ticket to the office. It what they wanted anyway.

I’ve had conversations with kids about how disrespectful it is to call each other bitch. They don’t get it. They will; they’re young. It’s another reason why public education is so important. So many kids aren’t learning these lessons at home. I’m their role model…it’s why I don’t use profanity at school!
Related Posts with Thumbnails