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
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