Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Monday, December 29, 2014


This week my husband and I initiated what we would like to call The Great Purge of 2014.  For those of you that like to collect and save things, you know what I'm talking about.  But for those of you with children in your family, you really know what I'm talking about. 

Neither my husband or myself are collectors.  We used to collect all sorts of things but after the 7th move in 8 years we decided that collecting anything was a nightmare that had would have to be moved yet again and so we stopped collecting stuff and started giving that stuff away.  I also learned that stuff is exactly that, stuff.  It doesn't contribute to our lives in any way and only causes me a headache because it has to be dusted or moved across the country so that was the end of our collecting.  I got rid of things that I thought were so valuable, a VHS copy of Breakfast at Tiffany's that I had watched 1000 times, a Casio watch that was one of the first things I bought with my first real paycheck out of college, my first Coach handbag. 

Anyway - after watching the amount of stuff that my kids unwrapped on Christmas (and I did not buy all that stuff, I know I didn't) I realized that if we didn't purge it was going to be a really cluttered 2015.  So this week while my kids were in W. Virginia visiting their Aunt, Uncle and Cousin we sorted, cleared, cleaned and donated 9 bags of stuff, one food processor that wasn't being used, a box of books, a huge bag of paper bags from the grocery store and even a table.  I even found things I didn't know I had like a crock pot - and thank God I found it because I was getting ready to buy a new one!

My 2015 resolution is to buy whatever I need at our local thrift shop.  We have 2 great ones one of which I volunteer at several times a month.  And every time I work there I am shocked and alarmed at how much Americans buy, save, collect and throw away.  And I'm right in there with them.  I just got rid of 9 bags of stuff, 9 bags of crap that at some time in my life I or my spouse or my children needed, wanted or thought we needed or wanted.  Of course our groceries I am not buying at the thrift store but all the other stuff I'm going to get there.

First up, all our ski gear that we will need for a ski weekend we are taking in January.  I need snow pants for 2 McKeon's and goggles for 3 McKeon's and some warm turtlenecks and gloves.  What resolutions will you be making?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bok Bok no longer

I called En Vivo Radio this morning and got through.  I understood everything they said to me and I only had to ask "Excuse me?" once.  I got really flustered and sounded like a dork but I did it!  Not as much of a chicken as I thought I was. 

To catch up on the original post about calling into a Spanish radio station click here:

Monday, December 22, 2014


This is one of those stories that will make parents laugh, and cringe.  I have a child that collects all manner of things including pieces of paper and things that most people consider trash or recyclables.  I am constantly taking things out of her room and recycling them or throwing them away because they end up on the floor or in the closet or stuffed into toy houses or purses.  If I am throwing something away this is the child that will run up and ask "Mama, can I have that" and then cherish it as if it was the best thing they got in their entire life, until the next day when I find it on the floor or the dog has eaten most of it.
Last week she came into our bedroom and found a small bottle of Astroglide on the bedside table.  It wasn't supposed to be there it was supposed to be in the small basket that hides things away from nosey kids but she picked it up and told me that it was exactly what she wanted for the longest time.  I told her no and asked her to put it down hoping that it wouldn't turn into a big deal but of course she didn't take no for her answer and begged saying that she always wanted a small empty plastic bottle that said Astroglee-day and why couldn't she have it?  I told her that the e was silent and she responded that she really really wanted some Astroglide of her own and what did Astroglide mean?
I stopped in my tracks because I knew that if I told her it as lube she would then ask me what lube was so I told her it was hand sanitizer and so she did what any 7 year old would do, she squirted some into her hand and rubbed her hands together.  And then she made a face and said, "Ew it is all sticky and gross" and dropped the bottle and went to wash her hands which allowed me to quickly pick up the bottle and hide it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I haven't worn heels for more than 5 years because something terrible was wrong with my right foot and it didn't allow me to.  But lately I've noticed that my foot is fine and I'm not sure if that is because I'm getting older and I don't notice it because of all the other stuff that is broken down or in disrepair or if it has healed but God forbid I go to a doctor and figure out what is wrong. 

Lets get it straight - I have insurance but this state is so messed up that the insurance costs a fortune and quite honestly I can't afford another co-pay and some lame explanation and then a bill for $250 or $500 dollars that isn't covered by the lame insurance I have.  I have never had such problems with an insurance company until I moved to N. Carolina.  And that is the Gods Truth.

Anyway - back to the heels, I recently discovered that not only can I wear heels, I can wear cute heels and they don't have to look like Keens or clogs which I was so sick of wearing after having owned every pair that Lands End has come out with in the last 10 years.  So I have bought some heels and I wear them to work and every time I do, I feel like I'm hitting a runway, and not the airport kind.  It is fun to be a girl sometimes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Secret Snowflake

So this year at my new job I am participating in what we call a Secret Snowflake.  It is basically the Secret Santa idea, you leave little things for the person you whose name you picked out of a hat and at the end of 3 weeks you reveal yourself and everyone says "Wow, I had no idea who was giving me presents"!!!  It is a way to break up the monotony and make people feel good and spread some holiday cheer.

Well my Secret Snowflake is a now show.  I mean that since I am only a part time-er, my Secret Snowflake only has to worry about me Monday through Wednesday.  But we are on Wednesday and my Secret Snowflake hasn't left me anything.

I did write on my detailed list of things I like to get as presents as being diamonds but I guess I am not really expecting someone to buy me diamonds for a present at work.  I have to say that whenever I fill out paperwork I try to really ham it up.  So this could also be all my own fault.  For example under favorite food items I listed 20 cheese food items but then under the things I'm allergic to question I put cheese.  See?  I actually made buying a gift for me really fun to myself but really irritating and annoying to my Secret Snowflake. 

I am hoping my Secret Snowflake shows up before the end of business today.  Or else I am going to feel like maybe I need to start learning how to play by the rules of the game.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bok Bok Bok

I listen to XM radio in my car to and from work and I almost exclusively listen to a Spanish language morning program called "Tu Manana live" out of Miami.  I love it!  They talk about music, food, politics, social networking, what is going on in the world, gossip, sports and so much more.  They have a great team of 3 radio personalities, a lady and two men and they rif off each other, crack jokes and keep the show going through discussions, arguments, games, jokes and more.

I have wanted to call this show for some time now to participate in a game they play on Thursdays and Fridays.  They play a song and then they stop the song and the caller has to complete the song.  The songs are all in Spanish but since I listen to Spanish language radio almost exclusively I know many of the songs they put on this program and I love Spanish popular music but for some reason I've been too chicken to call in.

Well Tuesday morning I called in.  They were talking about racism and stereotyping and I called in to comment about being bi-cultural and what that means to racism and stereotyping and to me.  The screener asked me some questions (in Spanish) and then placed me on hold until the song was over and the program continued.  I sat there on hold for 2 or 3 minutes with my heart in my mouth and on the verge of a nervous breakdown and then I hung up!


Saturday, November 29, 2014


So when we moved to Silicon Valley from Davis I swore I would never step foot in a Walmart again.  Mostly because I spent so much time driving to Dixon from Davis to save money and pinch pennies but also because I got so tired of the lack of customer service and the sloppy attitude and the rude employees.  But there are no Walmart's in Silicon Valley - so it wasn't really a problem and I got used to shopping at Target.  It turns out it really doesn't matter which big box store you are giving your money to, they are all big box, Costco, Walmart, Target, pick your destroyer of the Mom-and-Pop store and get crazy with that credit card.

I remember my neighbor Joanna always telling me that in North Carolina the Walmart's were better, cleaner, the employees friendlier and the quality of the items being better.  I now believe her.  For some reason in California the Walmarts look like a bomb went off and then black Friday happened all at the same time.  

Walmart has started a program that allows their shoppers to save additional money while shopping at one of the cheapest places on earth.  You just go to and register.  And every time you shop there you enter a code on your receipt and if they can find a price out there in Consumerville that is lower than the one they have at Walmart, they credit you the difference.  And you watch your money grow.  And once it gets to the amount that you want to use or spend, you can print up a gift card or voucher and go into Walmart and buy something.  It is pretty cool.  

One day I was asking a lady who works there who talks to me every time I stop in to get peppermint patties or Ghiradelli Chocolate bars or Coke Zero, what is stopping me from entering every receipt I find in the parking lot or the abandoned shopping carts.  She said that she isn't supposed to say anything but she guessed that nothing was stopping me.  I looked down and there was a receipt for $150 laying by my foot.  So I picked it up and entered it that afternoon.  I got $2.75 back from that receipt.  

Flash forward to today - the family stops at Walmart to get rat bedding and return some useless crap and I find 5 receipts just laying around.  The last one I had to ask Gabe to slam on his breaks so I could jump out of the car and salvage a stray receipt flying through the parking lot but if other people refuse to save their receipts to enter them to get free money back, why shouldn't I?  And while I was chasing down the stray receipt my child groaned to my husband in the car, "My mother is a hobo!".  And we all had a good laugh, actually they all laughed at me.  She has made me promise to not chase stray receipts while she is with me.  I told her I will try my best but I'm not promising anything.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Big Apple

I went to New York City for my birthday, actually it was the day after my birthday.  The last time I was in New York to visit a friend was when I was 26 years old, I had gotten an insurance settlement check for an accident I was in and instead of fixing my car or my back, I bought a plane ticket and headed to the East Coast to celebrate Thanksgiving.  I remember stepping out of the terminal and it was so cold I opened my suitcase and put all the clothes I had brought on.  It was freezing.

It was just as cold last weekend but I packed well and brought many layers.  For those of you familiar with New York you know that even though it is freezing cold outside you will go inside and be sweating in 2 minutes because the heal is cranked up so high.  The friend I stayed with has these old radiator heaters in her apartment so the temperature was not controlled, it was HOT.  So you alternated between bundled up like a snowman and naked.  And it wasn't even that cold - I have heard it can get colder.

We walked around the city and I got a massive blister.  I made a rookie mistake of bringing cute shoes not comfortable shoes.  When will I learn?  And then instead of switching to comfy shoes I continued to wear the cute shoes.  We went shopping.  We went out to eat.  We talked and talked.  We went shopping some more.  We went for walks in Central Park and around the Reservoir.  We had brunch.  We drank really good coffee and ate really good croissant.  We stopped in a place I had been in 20 years ago for a beer.  We met friends.  We met new people.  We slept.  We bought shoes. (plural)

When I was 26 I thought that living in New York City would be quite possibly the coolest thing anyone could ever do and don't get me wrong, it is pretty cool.   I love the ethnic diversity.  I love the food.  I love the shoes.  I love the vitality of it all.  But at 46 I can say that while it was fun and exhilarating and totally different from my life in North Carolina, I wouldn't change my life for anything.  Thank you Julie and New York City for a wonderful weekend, can't wait to come back again soon.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sell Out

I have sold out - I have added ads to my blog in the hopes that I can write a bunch of stuff that only makes sense to me and I can get paid for it.  So click away - click on my ads and I promise that I'll dedicate my first hard copy to you.  If I ever get the book published.

And since we are on the topic of the book I'm writing, I will be selling everyone out in my book, friends and family, if we have something juicy and good and worth writing about it will be going into a chapter somewhere.

So please for the love of God start reading my blog every week and click on the ads.  Especially the one for the vacuum and the shoes.  They are really good shoes.  Happy Shopping.


I hate a love/hate relationship with the selfie.  I think that taking a picture of yourself is wonderful - something to remember yourself by - something to mark the passage of time.  But for those of you that are on social media know that there is an occasional selfie and then there is the selfie addict that posts selfies all the time.

They also have a signature thing, whether a peace sign sideways, or the tongue stuck out, or a wink, or wearing a bikini in every picture or showing off those newly purchased boobs.

The only thing worse than the selfie is the picture of every meal you have eaten, home cooked or otherwise.  I don't care about what you had for breakfast, lunch, dinner and stoner meal.

So in response to the selfie I have started taking a picture when I wake up in the morning, the first look, the head shot.  And then post it.  Here is the latest:

Saturday, November 8, 2014


I like to think that I am frugal.  I discount shop.  I shop sales.  I hardly even buy full price.  I have even started recently to thrift shop.

We have a thrift store here where we live called the Chatham County PTA Thrift Store and if parents go and help clean up the store, hang clothes and vacuum, they give a portion on the the money to the schools to help the PTA offset the deplorable conditions of our public schools and how little money our moronic
republican state officials think it takes to provide quality education now-days.  But that is another blog post.

 So after we are done straightening and cleaning and organizing and hanging things at the thrift store we can 'shop' for items and we get them at an even sweeter discount that they are already being sold for.  And I can tell you that I've found some amazing stuff.  Leather boots, sweaters, jeans from Anthropologie, Free People brands, Ralph Lauren bedding, and the list goes on.  Last school year there was a pair of Jimmy Choo boots that were black leather and very cute but they were size 6 so I could not wear them.  (sob)

So you can imagine my delight and giddiness to be told last week when I was at the Rack that the cream colored dress pants I was buying were 1 cent.  And if you don't believe me I've included a picture of the receipt.  I couldn't believe it either.  What deals have you found?


Last week we went to the girls school for Parent/Teacher conferences.  When we got there - the teacher was in another conference so we hung out in the hallway and waited until she was done.  There were kids in pairs sitting in the hallway waiting for their parents too, so my kids weren't the only ones there.  There were at least 6 other kids there and each child was either on a tablet or an iphone or an ipod or some kind of hand held technology device.

I hate technology and what it has done to children and eventually the people that these children will become.  I hate the fact that you have young men and women breaking up over text message.  I hate that people will actually say to you, don't call me, I never answer my phone, just text me.  I hate that I will be talking to someone and they will pick up their phone and start texting while we are talking.  I am angry that people think that technology teaches children so many wonderful things that they are willing to throw all kinds of tablets and hand held devices at their children but then all they do is watch videos and play games and avoid the "educational" parts of these items.  I hate that homework can be done online and that 5th graders are being taught social media "etiquette".  Whatever that means.

Don't get me wrong - I had a tablet and I took it on the treadmill to exercise and I got really clumsy and threw it in the air and it shattered all over the garage.  I have a smart phone but I handle text messages like I handle phone calls.  Take them when you can and sometimes you just set it down and have a nice time.  And sometimes (when the kids aren't around) I text a lot.  But I get to do that because I'm a grownup.  And someday when my kids are grownups they can have their own smartphones and do whatever they want with them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


There is something that happens to a woman who has had some children and has reached middle age - we become somewhat invisible.  By invisible I mean that no one looks at our legs or asses as we walk by.  No one whistles.  No one hits on us.  No one flirts.  So when it happens that a man I don't know strikes up a conversation with me or compliments me out of the blue I am always surprised he isn't asking for loose change or for directions. It never occurs to me that it is because he finds me attractive or even ravishing.  I usually attribute it to something is going wrong.  Or maybe I'm wearing my doughnut shirt and he thought it funny.  Except today I didn't have my doughnut shirt on.

There is a store near here called Harris Teeter.  It took me a while to say that without giggling because for a grocery store it sounds kind of dirty.  Say it out loud.  See what I mean?  Anyway - at Harris Teeter for some reason I have been hit on by men 3 separate times in a year.  Strange men, unknown men, middle aged (50 to 60 year old) men.  Yes, I am pushing middle age back.

At first I thought maybe it was because there are only 3 Asian people that shop there and so I'm something like an albino tiger but whatever the case, I love it, as would any other woman in her mid 40's!  I would do all my shopping there except it is frightfully expensive.  So ladies, - if you are feeling frumpy and a little run down, or the color has come out of your hair or you have had on your stretchy pants now for 2 weeks, head on down to Harris Teeter - you'll have them humping your leg too!

New Job

I am heading to work next week!  After 10 years, lots of volunteering, lot of blogging, lots of cooking meals, lots of cleaning house, lots of dog walking, lots of babysitting, lots of talking about going back to lunch I am finally heading out the door, dropping my kids at before school care and getting on the freeway and walking into an office somewhere to do work which I will be paid for.  I am so excited.

First of all, I'm excited to have a job.  It sounds like something that is well suited to me and something that I know a lot about and something I will get to use my language skills at and that makes me happy.  This will only be the second thing in 10 years that I'm doing that is just mine and not my husband's or my kid's.  It is just mine.

Secondly, I have had a chance to invest in some new work clothes.  About 5 years ago, I finally threw away the last suit jacket that I'd hung on to thinking at some point I would go back to work.  But when I tried it on I realized that it was so out of style that I would never be wearing it again.  So buying slacks, trousers, dress shirts and even a pair of heels or two has been so enjoyable.  And trying them on and modeling them for the girls has been super fun, "Oh Mommy, you are so fancy!" is my favorite comment so far."  I have promised several times to save the new shoes for the kids to wear someday.

Lastly, I am going to get a paycheck.  I have done tons of volunteer work in the last 10 years but none of it has come with a paycheck.   The thought that I will be contributing to my family financially makes me want to jump for joy!

Of course there are things that make me a little nervous.  For example my children will be going to not only before school care on the days I work, they will also be going to after school care.  And regardless as to what other people think about daycare or babysitters or nanny's, I was not able to put either of my children in any of them, I had to care for them myself.   I also am going to have quite a lengthy commute having tested the drive twice to see how long it will take and how to avoid traffic jams and accidents and gauge the flow of traffic in the morning rush hour traffic, but nonetheless there will be a long haul in the car.

But weighing all the good stuff and all the bad stuff, I am joyfully going to be headed out the door to work on Monday and cannot wait!  Stay tuned for updates!

Monday, October 6, 2014


I have not been writing much lately.  I have not been inspired.  And I have not had the internet connection to support a new blog post.  Outrageous I know but that is just how it goes.  So today I've had to head on down to the local Pittsboro Library and I'm taking up space at one of the computer tables and banging out a few blog posts to update my faithful readers (GABE) on what has been going on in Joy-land.

I am working on getting a job and have had a solid phone and in person interview.  I've also decided to head back into the classroom and applied to be a substitute teacher at the girls school, but while all that is clicking into place I find myself losing interest in this blog and in writing in general.

We have had interesting and fun stuff going on - I just haven't felt like chronicling it.  We got a new puppy by the name of Ivy which we quickly changed to Buzz Aldrin McKeon and she is a handful.  She is one of those puppies that wants to go out to pee 4 times a night and as soon as you take her out to pee and let her back in she pees on the floor.

And the girls are playing soccer this fall which is a first.  It is fun to go and watch their games and I love watching them learn new things.   And i get to go with them and chat up everyone at the game which is my favorite thing to do.  They exercise their legs, I exercise my mouth.  Let me just clarify - I don't need soccer to exercise my mouth, I can do that anywhere/anytime.


There are a couple of things that I do when Fall rolls around and one is that I start reading like a mad woman.  I can put away 3 or 4 books a week if I really put my mind to it.  The other thing I do is I start knitting.  And I also get a good, solid head cold.  So today I find myself at home, making minestrone for dinner, reading and knitting at the same time, sniffling and trying to listen to Diane Rehm.  If you don't know who she is, you are missing out.

I love fall in N. Carolina.  I never thought I would say that but it is beautiful here.  And it is sunny and cool and the kids can finally play outside without dying of heatstroke and I can walk without collapsing.  And the leaves are now just starting to change color and everyone has their mums on their doorsteps along with their pumpkins and Halloween decorations and thanksgiving themed windsocks.  (let me just clarify, I will never have a windsock)

And I've applied for several jobs and had a great interview and hopefully soon I'll be headed out to work.  But in the meantime I will be reading, knitting, sniffling and making great soup.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Turkey Vulture

Here is a story I recorded earlier today.  Something new and something fun to listen to!  Click on the Turkey Vulture Story below and wait for the story to load and then click on the story once downloaded and let me know what you think!



I read an article recently about asking parents when  your kids are headed over to their house for a playdate if they have guns and where they are located and if they are locked up and who has access.  And then you have to decide if you want your kids playing at the friends house based on their gun ownership and gun rules inside their own house.  Holy Toledo and I thought we were supposed to ask whether or not their parents were home or if their let them surf the internet unsupervised.  

When you live in a rural community you learn new things and recently I learned that November kicks off hunting season out here.  And today when I was dropping my kids off at school two little first graders were walking past and one said, "are you talking about the AK47 or are you talking about another gun?"  And I had to do a double take and confirm that yes, they were first graders.  

Just for the record I only hunt bargains and good Korean restaurants.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Calm down, I'm not having plastic surgery.  Now that I've gotten that out of the way lets get down to business.  I've been in a blogging slump lately.  I'm not sure if it is because school is back in swing and so I find myself back at home alone doing stuff that makes me happy and sad at the same time.  Happy because I get to exercise each day and take the dog for a walk and write letters to my sister and make homemade pasta sauce and sad because I want a job and a career and I keep pushing away the thought that maybe what I am doing is my job and career.

I've decided to give my blog a face lift as you can see by my flashy and always fashion forward picture that is new.  Those of you that have been fortunate to see me at 7:00am in my lifetime will know that my hairstyle is something that miraculously happens between the hours of 11:00pm and 7:00am magically and with only the help of a pillow.  It is a force to be reckoned with.  But I've also tossed around the idea of adding a podcast to my blog and doing some interviewing and maybe someone will listen to it?  What say my faithful readers?  Will you spend the time?  Will you tell others about it?

And finally we had adopted a new baby PUPPY!  Her name is Buzz Aldrin McKeon and she is a pure delight unless you have to take her outside to pee at 3:00am in which case she is a nightmare.  But it is 2:13pm in the afternoon and so far she has had zero mistakes in the house.  Our family of discoverers is growing, we now have way more animals than we do people, Calliope the outside cat, Lloyd the indoor zombie cat (yes, he is still alive), Marcko Polo and Buzz Aldrin the dogs and Scabbers and Muggles the rats.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


We are on a 2 week vacation in California and it has been really nice.  I was able to complete my goal of swimming 20 laps without stopping or using the kick board, I was able to sleep alone in the guest bedroom and stay up late watching all sorts of fun shows that I've never seen before;  (Naked and Afraid, Naked Dating, Silicon Valley) I have been out to some of the yummiest Thai food, Vietnamese food and hopefully soon some Korean food.  I've seen friends and family and friends and can't wait to see more.  The girls have played and stayed up late and swam, played with cousins, had too much sugar and we are only one week into our time here.

It is funny that now we own our own home my mind keeps going to our home and I keep thinking about how much I love our home and how I can't wait to get back and get back into the swing of things and school and chores and lessons and pets and friends.  Isn't that funny?  I really love not having to cook or clean or work but the thought of getting back to MY own space beckons to me.  Hang on Pittsboro, I'll be back soon.

Food Shame

When I was about 12 or 13 and started to go through puberty I started to put on weight.  It wasn't a lot of weight but in my memory I was about as fat as a cow or a large water buffalo.  I remember one morning being told that as a family we would now be running laps at a local field before school or breakfast.  I remember it starting out as a family affair and the just whittling down to me and my mom pretty quickly.  No one else in the family needed to do laps I guess.  I also remember being asked or told to leave the table after one helping of dinner while others stayed.

Whether or not this was a smart dietary decision on the part of my mom, I can tell you that all it did was make me want to cry and I felt like a cow or large water buffalo as I picked up my plate and headed to the kitchen.  To this day I do not being told what to eat or what not to eat.  When people say, "try this it is delicious" I tend to think they are lying.  After all, if you have to tell people it is delicious instead of letting them decide for themselves, most likely it tastes like ass.

The other day I was at the table eating chips and chatting and the bag of chips was taken away from in front of me and I was told that they were too full of salt and to save some for other people.  I got up and walked away.  I got weepy.  And I felt like I did when I was 15 or 16 and I was told to leave the table after one serving.  I can't shake that feeling that I am a fat little kid that doesn't look like any of my brothers or sister and that the only way to get me to fit into whatever mental picture my mother has as ideal for her daughter is to shame her away from the food.

I'll shake it off - I know i will because that is how i am.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


I went to the doctor last week and I got a letter today and it goes like this:  "Dear Mrs. McKeon:  Your lab work from your last visit has come back and indicates the following:  You do not have diabetes, Your thyroid function is normal and your FHS level shows that you have entered menopause.

Entered?  My first thought was how long before I can exit?  The good news is that now I know why I have sweat beads that pop out of my knee caps when I'm wearing jeans and when I stand up a look like my knees are weeping.  But the bad news is that I have sweat beads popping out of my knees when I'm wearing jeans and you get the rest.  And it makes me a little crazy.  And it makes me a little anxious.

But . . . at least I know now where the insomnia, headaches, crazy person and freakish behavior comes from.  And yes, I am blaming everything on the menopause.

Friday, July 25, 2014


I went to the doctor last week and I got a new blood pressure medicine to accompany the one I currently take which does nothing for my blood pressure in my opinion.  And since I started taking this new pill I have had nearly a week of insomnia, hot flashes and irritability.  I have to back up.

About 2 months ago I started having night sweats.  For anyone out there who has gone through this, it is the nasty habit of waking up at 2am and feeling like your head is 20 degrees hotter than your body and is drenched in sweat.  It is not fun.  About 6 weeks ago the hot flashes started and they literally are what they sound like.  You are sitting there one moment enjoying your cappuccino or your latte and the next you are trying to figure out why you have sweat beads popping out of your forearms.  I had sweat drops dripping out of my hair a couple of days ago at a PTA meeting.  It is not pleasant but better than a mammogram on the list of uncomfortable things that women have to go through after a certain age.

Anyway - I have had these bouts of insomnia before but this one is particularly kicking my ass.  I'm tired.  I'm tired.  I'm tired.  But when I lay down and the lights go out, I'm wide awake.  I am also exercising a lot lately and it has been swimming so I don't get why all the fatigue until I'm in a laying down position.  Very confusing.

But the good news is that in a week I will be in Sunny California with my ladies and we will begin a 2 week whirlwind of visiting friends and family and Asian restaurants.  I texted my brother and told him that we had to meet up for some coffee and to catch up to which he replied, "Coffee and Ketchup, yummy".

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Real conversation between two 10 year old girls

Ever wondered what 10 year old girls talk about?

Friend:  I don't like to go to Katie's house because her Mom smokes and it smells bad inside.  And Katie's 16 year old sister smokes too and there is all this beer all over the place and in the kitchen and all they do is smoke cigars and stuff and drink beer even the 16 year old.

My kid:  That is smelly isn't it?

Friend:  Yeah and when you open up the dresser drawers there are all these ashes and all these pretty plates all over the place full of ashes and cigars.  And she asks me all the time to sleep over but I don't know what to say.

My kid:  Why don't you tell her that you don't like it?

Friend:  I don't want to hurt her feelings.

My kid:  You can die from cigarettes.  Michael Jackson died from taking too many cigarettes.  (No matter how many times I've told them that this is not how he died they ALWAYS say this and it drives me crazy)

Friend:  And it is really hot in their house.  She got a divorce and she doesn't have money to turn on the air conditioning and since she stays home all day she just leaves all the doors and windows closed and smokes and drinks beer.  Across the street is Katie's step-mom and she has a big house and air conditioning.  And she goes outside to smoke her cigars.  That way the inside stays nice and clean and smells good.

My kid:  Susan at school started crying because her mom and dad got a divorce and she hadn't seen her dad in a long time and she found out she was going to see him and she started crying because she was so excited.

Friend:  Well Katie's mom and step-mom were best friends but then the dad stopped being married to the mom and moved across the street to be with the step-mom.  He said he was working all the time but he was really smoking cigars across the street with the best friend.

My kid:  That is really sad.

This is when I jumped in the conversation and gave them a lecture on second hand smoke inhalation and the effects of absenteeism parenting.

Why I am loving this place

Tonight I stopped on my way home from the store because a woman had her flashers on and was stopped in the middle of the road.  I leaned my head out as she was getting back in her car and slowed way down and asked "is everything ok?" and she smiled broadly and replied, "Yup, just helping the turtle cross the road".

This is why I am loving Chatham County.

Friday, June 27, 2014


I have had a difficult time coming up with something interesting or uplifting to write about.  As a writer I would like to pick my own topics and write about what I want to write about but as a writer I have found that if it includes sensitive people, family members, relatives, people that are unable to read something written about themselves or anything less than positive then I might get the cold shoulder or the silent treatment.

Human beings are really strange.  We love to judge and tell others what is not working, what they are doing wrong and what we don't like about them (to others, not to their faces) but we don't want anyone to know we are doing that.  There is this human component that keeps us from blurting out what we do or do not like about other people.  We only tell them the good things.

If a dog runs up to another dog and sniffs and doesn't like what they see, they don't play nice-nice until they walk away - they bare their teeth, growl, bark and snarl and sometimes attack the animal they do not like.  If we act like dogs we are called (and I refer to women) bitches, snarky, catty, opinionated, judgemental, grating, confrontational and all sorts of other not so nice words that are not very complimentary of women.

I have found that when I was in my 20's I could be a real bitch.  When I was in my 30's I could be a real bitch too.  But having children has mellowed me some.  Partly due to not wanting to invest a lot of energy in stuff that I think is stupid and not wanting to get sucked into dysfunctional family stuff and staying out of it.  But when that dysfunction lands in my living room and stays here for a pretty lengthy period of time it is really hard to ignore it. (have I mentioned that I do enjoy complaining at length instead of being a bitch?)

I will say this:  the dysfunction isn't welcome back.  Somehow and sometime soon I will have to address that but it isn't welcome back and it isn't something I want anything to do with.  I've been in therapy for years to work at identifying my problems and fix them and so should you.  If you are not willing to do so - I'm not willing to be around you. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


I was watching a movie with someone I love very much.  During a particularly moving part of the movie two men who were very much in love kissed on the lips.  The person I love made a disgusted sound of distaste and it shocked me and upset me. And for a minute I got really angry.  And then I got really sad thinking that someone I love so much could be so bigoted and closed minded.  And it made me not want to finish the movie.  But then I realized that we can love people a whole lot but not love the way they are or the way they think.  And I was able to finish the movie and still love the person I was watching the movie with. 

I guess that makes me a grown up.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Today I got to watch my youngest child dive into the swimming pool over and over over.  She was so careful about the placement of her feet, the way her hands were held, one on top of the other, the way the other foot was out to the side to steady her and how close her feet were to the edge of the pool.  It was amazing to watch.  Both of my children swim really well and enjoy the water as much as they can.  I usually have to force them to leave the pool even if their eyes are bloodshot and their feet and fingers are raw from the bottom of the pool.

It took me a really long time to learn how to swim.  Of course my siblings learned really quickly so it seemed even longer.  I'm not sure if the reason it took me so long was the trauma of my father drowning or the even bigger trauma of being thrown in the deep end of by family members who would say that they were sure I would learn how to swim once I could no longer touch the bottom.  Regardless as to the reasons why I was slow to learn to swim, my kids were fast to learn as they were not hampered by any pool or water related trauma as children.

And I am a strong swimmer now even if I prefer to sit by the side of the pool with my floppy hat, stylish coverup and sipping my drink while I chat it up with my new N. Carolina pool friends.  Hey ya'll!

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Tomorrow is my last day at the little job I do.  I started freaking out a little a couple days ago because I thought about my last paycheck and I wondered what I was going to do when next month came and I didn't get a paycheck.  I realized that no matter how agonizing, how painful, how mind numbing the job, I am willing to do just about anything for a paycheck. 

One of my first jobs was the summer after my freshman year in high school, I worked at the housekeeping department of the local college in my town.  I cleaned the dormitory rooms and bathrooms, made beds, vacuumed, emptied trash, a total disaster.  The only real saving grace was the manager that ran the housekeeping department, a lovely lady by the name of Nancy Morgan.  She was a hardcore bible thumping, preaching, hellfire and damnation kind of lady and I decided in every way I was going to be her black sheep.

Every morning before we were allowed to clean rooms we had to sit through one of her worship ceremonies that included reading a devotional and having a lengthy prayer.  I informed her early on that I was an atheist and opposed to all things that had to do with religion and religious observance.  I would roll in to work 5 minutes late, act hung over (or at least what I thought hung over would look like) and pretend I'd been out all night partying, dancing, drinking and more (remember I was only 15).  She could not have had more fun preaching to me and I could not have had more fun getting her goat.  The work was terrible, the pay was miserable but the interaction with Nancy was heavenly.

It has always been a big priority to me to enjoy not only what I'm doing but who I'm working with.  And because of that I have been able to turn some of the worst jobs, (custodian, dishwasher, cleaning houses) into some of the most fun.  The jobs might not be that fun but I'm the girl to make them fun.  And with that in mind; I'm not sure where I'm headed after this Friday but whatever I find to do I am going to make sure I enjoy it as much as I did that summer I worked with Nancy. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Yesterday we were trying to decide if we were going to scrap our internet service and sign up for satellite TV service.  My FIL found a great deal and spoke to someone and it looked for a few hours like we were going to be spending the summer watching the Real Housewives and the Food Network.  I had all these questions about installation and cost and where would they put the dish and then my FIL said, "You can put the dish wherever you want because you own the house" and it hit me - I still have a house rental mentality after 6 months of owning because I have rented for ever.

One of the joy's of owning is being able to put a garden in wherever you want.  And being able to landscape your house.  I have done both.  It has been hard work and back breaking work but it has been totally worth it.  I have a pretty decent sized garden that is thriving thanks to being in the sun and also being fenced to keep the pesky deer out.  And the landscaping is so beautiful and makes my house feel so inviting and pretty.  The final touches were a couple of banana trees flanking the driveway, I can't wait for them to grow tall and give my driveway a plantation feel.

And the only downside to the garden is everytime I go out digging in it I seem to bring ticks back inside.  But now that I'm practically a local I don't care.  I really don't care.  I'm totally over it.  My friend Karen is going to get a tattoo of a tick and I think I might join her!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Road Kill

Today I fell down walking to the mailbox.  I was wearing clogs but I wear clogs all the time.  And I'm not very clumsy although I certainly feel clumsy now.  I was walking along and not paying attention to where I was walking or what was in front of me, walking down the driveway and watching a neighbor walk her dog and the next instant I was face down in the driveway and my letters were scattered all over the ground.

I jumped right up and my left knee was smarting pretty good and the palms of my hands were scratched up but mostly because I didn't want that neighbor to look over and think what a lousy klutz I was.  And also because my skirt was up around my shoulders and that is not a good look for me.

I limped carefully back up the driveway after getting mad enough to cry but not letting myself and came in the house and put in my notice.  Sometimes you need perspective in life and I felt like that fall was the perspective I needed.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Secret Garden

There is a housing community not far from where we live.  It is one of those communities that exist in this part of N. Carolina for people who want to live in a rural setting but they don't want to feel like they are living in a rural setting.  It would be like taking our old neighborhood in Cupertino and airlifting the whole thing to N. Carolina and setting it down.  They cleared out all the trees (no small feat) and all the houses are very very close together - think San Francisco close and then throw in a foot or two.

When we were house hunting we stopped there to visit the community and see what it was like.  The girls said it was like the movie The Lorax because they had bulldozed all the trees and there were only bare open spaces.  I loved the brand new homes and the open floorplan and how modern they were until I looked out the window and could read what the man next door was reading on his Blackberry as he stood outside in his yard, shirtless, smoking a cigarette.

I went walking the other day with a friend who lives in this area and we strolled past a community garden and I commented on how lovely it was and did she have a little plot in the garden?  She launched into how there is a gardening group and you have to be a member and it is tight knit and you have to be friends with the gardening group and only a few people have a key to the gate and no one else is allowed.  She has lived in the community since it was built practically and she has been shut out of the garden. 

I don't know what makes us do this.  I find it more common with women than men but too many times I hear that women have formed a group and the group won't include others and this woman is excluded because of something she said or because she is friends with another woman or because the kids had a playdate and didn't get along.  It is really quite foolish and it annoys me more than anything else.  I listen to first grader and fourth grade girls and I know where they learn most of the types of conversation that they have - they learn it from listening to their parents and their parents friends, and then they repeat it.

I remember once hearing a woman discredit two boys that her boys liked to play with because she didn't like their mother.  They might as well have been rapists, drunk drivers or convicted felons from the way she attacked the character of a 4 year old and a 6 year old.  Needless to say, I was speechless.  At first I thought she was joking and then when I realized what she was saying all I could think of was, "Oh My God, how can I get out of here this woman is crazy."  

I'm no parenting expert - and yes, parenting does come with books, entire shelves of them at bookstores and libraries.  And I know that parents read books about sleeping through the night and feeding the kids the right amount of fruits and vegetables and how to potty train painlessly but why aren't they reading about how to teach their girls to be supportive and kind women?  Why aren't they reading the part of the books where Dr. Phil locks them in a room and forces them to admit they are shitty parents and need to go to therapy?

I'm glad I don't live in their community because when someone tells me I can't be part of their group, the first thing I do is I figure out a way to get into it.  I do not like being told I can't do something.  I do not like not being shut out.  And if it means destroying the way they do something and recreating it, that is what I will do.  I am woman!

Friday, May 2, 2014


When we moved here I spent 6 months feeling very grumpy.  I just felt sad and grouchy about being so far from my friends and family.  I wished that we had moved to Oregon or Washington which was our original plan in the first place but as you know life doesn't always follow a plan - at least not my life.  I was weepy and cried easily.  I withdrew and spent a lot of time in my bed.  I slept a lot.  I guess from a certain perspective you could say that I was mildly depressed. 

Last weekend we went camping with friends and as I sat around the circle and looked at all these people that we've made friends with since we've moved here and all the kids that my kids have made friends with I realized that we have our own community here, 3000 miles away from our community that we left.  And while I still really miss our old community - it is nice to know that we are building that here.  It made me happy for myself and my kids to know that we have people here we can count on and we can reach out to and that can reach out to us.  And after a year and a half I realized that leaving this place would make me sad. 

And I never thought I would say that. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Round Up

Our Sally Tomato died about a month ago.  I haven't wanted to write about it because it has been so sad and hard to talk about.  I talked about it several weeks ago and broke down and sobbed and then overshared about some other stuff.  That is how grief works - you get sad about something and you bottle it up and when it spills over all the other shit in your life spills out with it.   It doesn't matter that Sally was old, it doesn't matter that Sally was not going to live forever, it doesn't matter that Sally was a dog, he was a part of our family and I'm getting older and grief affects me differently and I bottled it up and the other day I fell apart. 

When I come home I miss the sound of "tic tic tic" across the hardwoods as he comes to greet me.  I miss his classic pacing.  I miss him laying down hard on the floor because he was old and laying down sometimes wasn't gentle.  I miss his furry head and how he would lay it in my head.  It will take me some time to stop looking for him when I come in and when I leave.  He was such a big part of our lives.

 And then I got physically sick for a week and I think that somehow it was all tied together.  Mind is wearied, body is wearied.  I got strep and it was terrible and I was laid up in bed for days and I struggled with feeling terrible both inside and out.  And I felt like I was able to shed my physical sickness when I said goodbye to Sally and embraced Marcko.  Call me a crazy Dog lady or a psycho animal freak but I was very connected to that dog.

This weekend we take the family on a camping trip, our first NC camping excursion.  We are going to go with 4 or 5 other families which is the best way to camp.  We used to do family camping in California all summer and it is one of the things we missed the most last summer, that and Uncle Jack's Shamrock Rose Ranch.  The success or failure of this camping trip will dictate whether or not we take more in the future.  The weather here is so different than the Bay Area, we had to time it right, not too hot and not too cold, not too rainy and muddy and not too windy or blustery.  April and October are supposed to be the ideal months.

I have put in a garden.  I found a sunny spot and Gabe built me some grow boxes and I put some chicken wire around it and I hope that in some months I will have fresh tomatos and basil.  I'm not holding my breath because I realize that I'm still a gardening rookie in the state and I hear it takes great skill.  So I gave a bunch of small plants I had started from seed to a friend who helps me with landscaping and gardening who lives behind us and if mine all die, I will go and eat their.  Because he has a gardening gift.

And finally a shout out to my San Jose Korean girl Helen who went to Kyo Po Market and bought up all sorts of stinky Korean items and packaged them up and shipped them to me.  It was like Korean Christmas here yesterday as I opened this box and ripped into the seaweed like a hungry kid rips into a bag of doritos.  My Korean cup runneth over - thank you Helen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Sometimes my kids will ask me what "nationality" they are and I will try to explain what the "Caucasian" means and fail.  I know there is Irish and English and Scottish and German and French but I try to not fall back on what we used to call it when I was a kid which was "white".  My kids are only a 1/4 Korean which to them means nothing at all.  They were born in this country, they speak English fluently and they have little knowledge of the country of the morning calm besides the stinky food their mother craves and inhales at an alarming rate.

There needs to be a creation of a half "nationality" because those of us that are half don't get to fit into anyones category.  People always say how cool it is to be half because you get to be two things at once but in all honesty it isn't so cool because you are denied a group by either of those groups for being only "half".  When people refer to the President they always refer to him being half black instead of mixed race or half white.  When people ask me what nationality I am I always reply that I'm half Korean so that explains  that ethnic look I carry around all the time.

I went to Korea for a wedding in my 20's and I was excited to visit my birthplace and see where I came from and what my people were like.  I was totally freaked out.  Not only was everyone there Korean (don't ask me why I wasn't prepared for this) but I didn't look like everyone else or fit in with my people, I was only half.  They looked at me as strangely as I looked at them.

It would be so much easier to just say I'm Korean which isn't true - I'm only half Korean.  And it would be so much easier to say that I'm white which isn't true either and not easy to carry off since I don't look like I'm white.  When we lived in Cupertino being half Korean wasn't so special but since moving to North Carolina I find that talking about my ethnicity has become more interesting.  Hawaiian?  Polynesian?  Mexican?  Philipina?

I think that I'm going to start telling people I'm half Caucasian when they ask and see what kind of reaction that gets. I'll let you know how that goes.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Favorite Easter Story

Everyone must have a favorite Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July or Easter story.  Here is mine:

One year in the early 90's my Korean Aunt and I were travelling around Europe.  It was April.  It was Sunday.  We were trying to travel on trains by night and do our sight seeing during the daytime to save money on hotels but it was hard on me and after 2 or 3 days of doing this we would have to get a place to sleep because I was falling apart.  It was after 2 or 3 days of this type of travel that we ended up in Rome.

I got a map at the train station and we hoofed it to Vatican City because that is where you are supposed to go to see stuff although at the age of 21 I pretty much didn't want to see anything that had to do with paintings, sculptures or chapels that had famous paintings on the ceilings.  As we came into the open area in front of St. Peter's Basilica we couldn't help noticing that there were thousands of people.  It was a madhouse.  And there was some type of program going on, some dude in a white robe with a funny hat was talking.  He was tiny - at least from where I was standing.

As the speaking ended and the crowd began to disburse I tapped a woman on her shoulder and asked her if it was a concert or something?  She looked at me like I was the dumbest person she had ever seen and she said "it's the Pope giving Easter Mass!"  I answered, "Oh, cool." 

Friday, April 11, 2014


Today is the last school day before Spring Break.  I feel like this year it is really late - last year we had it in March and it was so cold that we didn't do anything remarkable other than try to stay warm in a drafty and uninsulated house.  This year it is sunny and beautiful and since I know what is to come by way of weather we have to live it up next week and enjoy the sun and the N. Carolina weather before June, July and September roll in and it is so hot that you can't breathe outside.  Although I must say that even with that level of heat, I still prefer hot to cold.

We are going to go to the beach, go shopping, go to the movies, go to parks, play with friends, go swimming, and all sorts of fun local stuff.  But the best thing to me is the sleeping in, lounging around and taking a break from school, lessons, classes and schedule.  I need a schedule break!

Happy Spring Break!

Monday, April 7, 2014


When we moved to Jamaica the kids called me two things, "Ching Chong China-girl" and "Fattah" which was the Jamaican way of calling someone "Fatty".  I remember as a young child in the first and second grade I tended to cry at the smallest thing and I was painfully shy so any unwanted attention would send me into tears.  But by the fifth grade when we moved to Jamaica I was no longer a cry baby and so I either ignored what they said, fought back by calling them something more insulting or I turned it into a joke or laughed it off.  But I didn't like being called names.  And I always pointed out to the name caller that I was NOT Chinese.

We never talked about bullying when I was growing up, at least not like we do today.  We never had presentations on how to be accepting of all kids and all people and we never worried about who was a bully and who was not.  Skip to today and public elementary schools and there is no end to the ongoing dialogue about bullying, bullys and how to stamp it out and bring an end to it.  "Zero Tolerance" is a term that is thrown around liberally. 

I remember a boy in high school that was bullied quite a bit by more than one boy in the class.  I remember this kid was the brunt of all the jokes, bad behavior and mean spirited name calling or trickle down and he is a registered sex offender with a repeat history of incarceration.  Do I think that his being bullied in school has something to do with where he is now?  I definitely think that he has little to no self esteem and it affects his every day and every moment of his life, I do think that. 

I spend a lot of time in the classroom and I see behaviors that are appropriate and behaviors that are not.  I see kids that get targeted and I see kids that do the targeting.  I see the kids gang up on other kids and watch as they destroy a kids self esteem as young as the first grade by continually letting him/her bear the brunt of all the anger, frustration, name calling and isolation because of weight, clothing, sexual orientation, and other distinguishing factors that I'm not going to go into because they are too hurtful to list and because those of you reading this know what the list contains.  And I don't blame the teacher most of the time because she or he has 24 or 28 kids in the class and has a hard time focusing on each child and what is being said or done.  She is just trying to get through a list of stuff that has to be done today so that we can move on to tomorrow.  And she is bombarded with tattle-tailing, crying, sniffles, vomiting, sick kids, bathroom breaks, my pencil needs sharpening and on and on and on.  And I don't blame the kids because if you watch them - they only want to avoid being on the receiving end of that kind of behavior - they want to be in the "in" crowd and not the "out" crowd. 

I do however seriously question the home environment and the parents though and what they are creating at home.  Since the school's motto is Zero Tolerance and the bulling continues why can't we make it an individual motto?  Can we teach the kids that are being bullied to fight back?  Can we arm them with the physical and verbal tools to at least defend themselves to their peers? 

I don't condone retaliation but I will tell you that once in high school an underclassman called me "Fatty" or "Fatso" or something insulting and laughed loudly and looked around for validation.  I ignored her but hated her silently for the rest of my life I mean year.  Several days later I climbed up on the hood of her and her brother's brand new car and draped myself across it with all my weight while a friend took my picture.  We had it put in the yearbook.  Revenge is a dish best served cold but how do we translate that for first graders?

Sunday, March 23, 2014


I walked into my knitting group on Friday at the library and found it taken over by children.  Until this last Friday the group leader and myself have been the youngest members of the group but on Friday we were visited by a woman and 4 of her 6 children.  At first glance I could tell that the woman was a fundamentalist Christian and that her children were home-schooled, ask me how I know that?  Without a lengthy and person anecdote lets just say that I have some experience in this arena.

At first I wanted to leave - I have no time for religious zealots that thumb their nose at public schools, force their children to dress strangely and teach their children to be probably some of the most judgemental on the planet by hammering it home to them to base everyone they meet on outward appearance only.  Again, without having to insert a lengthy and personal anecdote on how to filter through the righteous and the non-righteous based on whether or not they have on nail polish or have earrings, this is something I know a lot about.  I always like to preface conversations with "I tend to be the most judgemental person I know" but I'll save that story for another post.  I felt irritated that my knitting group had been overrun by these people, didn't they have other fundamentalist groups they could knit with?  But as I had not been to my knitting group in over a month and I missed this fun I decided to stay and sat down to knit with my friends Holly and Nancy.  And that is how I came to also sit by a young man of about 10 and I turned and said hello.

What a treat to discover that this boy was very pleasant and outgoing.  Not the tongue tied awkwardness that usually accompanies home-schooled fundamentalist kids that are not supposed to brush shoulders with sinners or that quite honestly don't have the social skills needed to make friends outside of their guarded religious boundaries.  We started to chatting and by the end of the two hours of knitting he had really started to pick up casting on and knitting.  His mother sat on the other side of the table and not once did she give me the "eye" or shoo her kids away from the lady with the arm tattoo, nose ring and black nail polish.  And when the knitting class was over he thanked me warmly and left.  And I believed him.

And about 2 minutes later I felt a tap on my arm and he was back and he said, "did you say your name was Miss Joy?  I'll see you in 2 weeks Miss Joy so you can help me some more" and I smiled and said that sounded good.  And I realized that I really need to do something about being so judgemental.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Winter Blues

I have the winter blues.  It is March and people are posting pictures of the beach, flip flops, shorts and sunshine.  We are expecting freezing rain today and tomorrow and everytime we have a day with warm weather it is followed up by 4 or 5 of very cold temperatures.  And in keeping with the odd weather patterns in North Carolina my youngest child has a spring cold that is the result of all the germs passed around at school by snotty first graders.

My mother-in-law is here visiting and she has brought a ray of sunshine with her as well as a 6 month supply of extra sour sourdough bread from Bordenave's in San Rafael as well as Raymonds from her local Molly Stones Supermarket.  I have it inventoried and packaged in the freezer and ready to be pulled out and made into toast, french toast, croutons and garlic bread.  I'm not sure what makes San Francisco sourdough bread the best in the world but it is.

Yesterday in protest to the terrible weather and the cold we loaded up the kids, snotty ones too and got our toes painted and decorated and scrubbed and loofa'd in preparation for flip flop weather even if it never happens.  I picked "Big Apple Red" because I needed a pick me up until the sun decides to stay out permanently. 

And today we will make Irish soda bread and stay inside, warm and dry.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

3 Nipples

And now to the bizarre, the macabre, the wild, the scandalous and the outrageous.  I met a lady the other day, no names because that would not be nice, who recently had a baby and is nursing.

She told me she has 3 nipples to which I told her to stop lying, it was not true.  She pulled her shirt down and showed me, it is under her arm and when her milk lets down she drips milk out of her 3rd nipple.  I saw it myself otherwise I would not have believed it. 

And when her milk comes in, it makes it hard and uncomfortable for her to put her arm down against her body.

Carry on.

Eating Disorder

We got this puppy about a month after moving here.  I personally feel like I rescued her from a life of dog fighting, breeding, worms, puppy prison, missed meals, doggy abuse, cold weather and more.  Anyway she is now a year and a half and overall a very cute and smart dog.  I always say that she is smarter at a year than Sally is at twelve years but that is because she has thirty five dog breeds in her and he only has one.  And she is a great puppy the only bad thing is that she is food crazy.  She can eat and eat and eat.  When she was really little she would pass out eating her food because she would stuff all her food into her mouth and it would catch in her throat and she would retch and gag because she wanted so badly to eat but she couldn't breathe.

About a year ago I came home and my beautiful ficus plant had no leaves on it.  Not a single one.  They were all gone - it was like the poltergeist of houseplants had sucked every single leaf off the plant and ate everything down to the stem and left nothing behind.  I found no leaves on the carpet no leaves on the floor and nothing that would indicate where the leaves had gone.  They were just gone and only a stem left.  It was really odd.  Marcko was lethargic for the rest of the day but then she bounced back and was fine.  I wondered if she had eaten them but I found no evidence.

Today I came out of my bedroom where I had been working on the computer to take a break and to vacuum the living room (did you get that?  a break in my day involves vacuuming the living room) and the avocado tree that I had started from seed and that was now 3 feet tall with big lush leaves (maybe 6 or 8) was shredded.  Not a single leaf anywhere and Marcko was laying in her crate with a very guilty and sick to her stomach look on her face if dogs can have sick to their stomach looks on their little furry faces.

I can't be mad at her - I should have put the avocado tree somewhere else like up on a high shelf since I know that she likes socks, squinkies, zinkies, erasers, pens, pencils, paper, stuffed animals, glasses, houseplants, dirt and other things besides food.  I'm tempted to send her to the Betty Ford Center but I don't think they accept dogs.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Gabe bought me a tablet for Christmas a year and 2 months ago.  I didn't really like it at first and I thought how interesting that he bought a tablet for me that was really a present for himself in disguise but after moving to Pittsboro and living in the woods I came to love that tablet like a child.  I caressed it, I talked to it, I nurtured it, I slept next to it, it was the first thing I saw in the morning and the last thing I saw at night.  I also used it all the time. 

Then we got a treadmill.  And I started using the treadmill and I dropped the tablet while on the treadmill and broke it.  It probably had something to do with my clumsiness or my agility, I'm not sure which.  But it is broken and cannot be fixed because we already tried.

I have mourned its loss now for 2 months but cannot bring myself to buy another one.  I wonder why?  One more chapter in my love/hate relationship with technology.


Every year around this time I try to write something in memory of my sister and the time she is serving in a medium security facility in Oregon.  I use the month of March as Angela month and I dedicate a lot of my time and energy to her and working on behalf of her and toward her release at some point in the future.  And if there is nothing to do toward helping her I try to write her her more and write about her more and focus a lot of my time and energy on her and her cause.  I believe in her and I believe in her being able to serve her time and make it out of that hideous place called prison.

I have a lot of happiness this year because in June she reaches her half way mark which means she crests the hill and starts down the other side which is the last half of her sojourn.  And while it may seem like a lot of time to be away and locked up and discarded by society, friends and family, the truth is that the second half of anything is always faster than the first. 

When she first went to prison I remember her calling after about a year and a half and sobbing uncontrollably because her cellmate or "cellie" had told her point blank that eventually everyone would stop writing and calling and sending books and money and that she would be alone.  She told her that it was just too hard for people to remember to stop to take the time because of where she was and what she had done.  Of course at that time my sister had a huge outpouring of letters, cards, books from and many people who had her on their thoughts and minds. 

But it has been 8 years, 8 long years.  And even the best intentioned of friends and family find it hard to continue communication when faced with 8 more of the same exhausting situation. And even though we have email now and can email her and even though she can still call out and even though we can also have face to face conversations that cost $18 for a half hour visit, she gets very little mail and even less email.  She has had to harden her emotions to accept that what her cellie told her was true - people did forget or move on.  It isn't that they didn't care about her, they just had to pay the mortgage and they had to replace the sink in the bathroom and they had to take the kids skiing and there was that trip to so-and-so's graduation and the pedicure and pictures to upload to Instagram and the Oscars were on and there was never enough time to write.

And the amazing thing is that she is not bitter or angry at those that have forgotten her.  She realizes that life moves on, and that people get busy and that she is not going anywhere.  And she has a very healthy approach to even immediate family that cannot be bothered to give her any time or energy.  She has learned how to forgive.  I only hope that we as a society can learn to forgive her in the next 8 years so that once she gets out she can move on with her life, just like we've moved on without hers.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Before I write about our neighbors I have to show off the most kick ass tshirt you have ever seen that I wore yesterday with pride.

As you can see I love donuts.

And now on to our neighbors.  We have neighbors with kids, cue the Hallelujah chorus.  They have a little boy and a little girl and they play and play and play with our kids.  And when our kids come home they show up happy and say, "where were you guys?" and when they come home our kids show up over there and say, "where were you guys?" and then they play some more.  And the funny thing is, we don't even really know the neighbors very well - we just know that our kids love them and their kids love us and that is all that counts.

And they get muddy and dirty and scream and yell and run around some more and ride bikes and scooters and skateboards and play in the drain ditch and throw rocks and it makes me so happy to watch!  I wish upon you all, neighbor kids to play with and no crazy property managers that shut it all down or helicopter parents that can't stand letting kids just play or nut job dirt freaks - you know who you are.

Yet another reason to love owning your own house and property surrounding your house! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Its SNOW joke

Yesterday, after 3 or 4 false alarms about gigantic snow storms that would dump tons of snow and ice and make things miserable for days, the girls and I headed out to the grocery store in Chapel Hill because we hadn't seen a single snowflake and I was needing to get out of the house because one of my kids was getting squirrely.  At the last minute I decided to detour to a thrift store to buy some books.  As we were getting in our car to go to the grocery store the first flakes started to fall but they were tiny and small.

Fast forward to 4 hours later and we are still in the car and now trapped in a long line of cars that were inching about 50 feet every hour or so.  We had gone literally 2 miles in 4 hours.  It was terrible.  So I took a detour and hoped that my gamble would be worth it.  And did I mention I had very little gas in the car and after 3 hours I started to worry that I might not make it home.

I don't usually get rattled by Mother Nature but she really had it out for someone yesterday because there were abandoned cars all over the roadway from people who started to slide, just got out and left their car and walked home.  There were cars in ditches and sideways and I even saw one that was fallen on its side.  Don't ask me how that happened. 

I had some really nice young men push me twice when my car wouldn't get up a steep hill but finally I made it out to a main thoroughfare and after 5 hours I made it the 10 miles or so to my house.  Luckily I had 2 pieces of pizza and some soda water in the car so the girls had something to eat.  And luckily they were dressed warmly.  and luckily we had bought books at the thrift shop so they had something to do for 5 hours.  And I kept my cool - and I made it home by going slowly and not braking too fast and sticking to the middle of the road.  And a kind neighbor picked up Gabe and they came out to find me and followed me home.

Next I'll tell you about the day we decided to head out to get flu shots on the day of the tornado warning.  Crazy West Coasters!!

Monday, February 10, 2014


I have a proper job interview today.  The kind where you put on the crisp white shirt and your pressed black pants and you wear tasteful but professional earrings and not too much black eye liner and you wear the flats that are both comfortable but dressy.  No perfume but a little extra deodorant for the flashy sweats that can come in waves due to nerves that haven't been exercised in a very long time.  A little lip gloss but no lipstick because you don't want to get it on your teeth.  Not too many "You Knows" and no "Yeahs". 

I used to interview people.  I used to do it a lot.  I knew all the right questions to ask and all the wrong answers to give.  I knew what was allowed by law and what was illegal.  I loved meeting the people that wanted to work for my company and seeing what they looked like, how they brought their A game and how they failed miserably.  I knew all the right things to do and all the right things to say.  And I hired people based on whether or not they knew the right things to do or say.

But now the tables have turned.  The last time I sat in an interviewing chair was 2002 and I was fleeing a terrible job working for a crazy person and just hoping anyone would give me a job and that no one was crazy.  And now I'm looking for something that will ease me back into the working world and take me away from my 9 year Stay-At-Home-Mom stint.  It is all very exciting and exhilarating but in a totally different way that being a SAHM was exciting and exhilarating.

And I'm so happy that I got to spend 9 years with my kids - helping them grow, helping them learn and teaching them things that they will rely on throughout their entire lives.  I just wish we hadn't had chilli last night.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sugar Sugar

If you read my last blog post you saw that I started a 21 day sugar fast.  That lasted 6 days and while I appreciated the efforts of the people participating to get me back on that horse, it turns out that THAT horse had already galloped away.

As a rule I don't eat a lot of sugar anyway but faced with the prospect of not being allowed to eat any sugar for 21 days and my inner reserve crumbles and crashes to the ground and disintegrates. Oh, And, I do not like being told what to do.  So, typically when that happens I do exactly what I want to do.  We can analyze the reasons why I failed at the 21 days sugar fast - after all I was a vegan for months and was a vegetarian for at least 18 years but in the end, I wasn't able to hack it and so my record is 6 days.

What it did do was renewed my efforts at watching what I eat, how much I exercise and getting through February which in my opinion now that we live on the East Coast, is the worst month ever.  Now I know why people bail and go to Florida and the Caribbean out here.  It is just to see the sun.   Our winter starts earlier and lasts longer and the entire month of January and February feel grey - and it gets oppressive.

And while I can't do anything about my tan or lack of tan, what I can do is stay in fighting shape so that when that sun starts to peek out and the weather heads back up to warmer temps I will be sundress, shorts and tank top ready.  Because lets face it, bikinis are for other girls. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Odds and Ends

I am a reading fool.  I have been plowing through books like a mad woman and enjoying most of them.  I have also been knitting like a maniac and will soon post some pictures of some really great socks I've been working on.  Turns out that practice really does make perfect.  I used to be terrible and give gifts that were super terrible but I've gotten really good - if you are grading on a curve - and can follow most patterns unless I buy them from the UK or New Zealand.  They have interesting abbreviations in those countries that take me a really long time to translate for some reason.

I am kicking off a sugar fast today that is supposed to last for 21 days but we will see.  I already had bread for breakfast from Whole Foods.  And while it was whole grain with tons and tons of seeds in it, after I ate it I looked at the ingredients list and realized it did have 2 grams of sugar per slice.  Bummer.  3 hours in and I already screwed up.

We have had some brutally cold weather lately, it has been so cold that I've struggled to go into the garage and get on the treadmill.  Any suggestions?  I'm too vain to bring it into the house. 

As of yesterday we are no longer renters.  We are now home owners only!  I would celebrate by having a glass of wine or some champs but I can't because of the sugar fast I'm currently on.  I am going to check the sugar content of liquor because maybe I can celebrate with something else.

A friend of mine had a baby last weekend and I got to hold him and watch his little face cloud over and cry every time I held him or tried to rock him.   It was by far the smallest baby I have ever held - he was just 5 lbs but totally perfect except for not wanting me to hold him.  Only 5 lbs and already he wanted just his Mom - nature is perfection.

And finally in political news - the girls and I have posted several video clips to Google Plus so that when Obama gives his State of the Union address next week - maybe he will answer us on our questions.  (If you don't know what I'm talking about click on and then click on Ask the President a Question.)   And as a teaser - I'm posting one of them here.  Hard to imagine someone as trendy and good looking as me as not having aged one bit right?  Don't those little girls look more like sisters and less like my kids?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Happy Birthday!

Last night we hosted a kiddie birthday party for a little lady who is turning 7 tomorrow.  She had a bunch of girls here to run around and scream and eat cake and scream more and do a craft and watch a movie and scream and run around.  In the course of 2 and a half hours there was a lot of pizza consumed, popcorn was made and eaten, beads were spilled all over the floor which Marcko tried to eat and some little fingers were smashed in a door.  But all in all it was a good party and I had a great time but even more important, the young ladies had a great time.

At one point I went to see how the movie was going - if the girls needed more drinks or popcorn and there were 3 new little girls that had arrived late.  One of them I knew and two of them I'd never seen before.  These are 6 and 7 year olds so I thought it was weird that someone had just dropped some kids off - without me really knowing who they were or what their kids names were but I guess their rationale was that it was a kiddie party, what better place for kids to go on a Saturday night than a kiddie party and since they were dropping off one kid, why not drop them all off?  And just for the record, I don't even know if these kids were related.

So at the end of the night after the 3 girls were picked up by 2 ladies that I've never seen in my whole life, I went back in the kitchen where the grownups were hanging out and I said, "who drops their kid off at a party where they don't know anyone and drops off 2 other kids that I've never seen before?" to which our new friend Dave says, "people in Chatham County do that" and I realized that he was probably right.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Waka Waka

We came back to the United States when I was 14 years old, landed in Florida and my Mom and Grandma bought a pop up camper and a Caprice Classic Station Wagon, Burgundy, and we travelled across the US until we got to California where we stayed put.  On this trip across the United States we camped in many KOA campgrounds and we discovered arcades.  I cannot tell you how many quarters were squandered between Florida and California on Centipede, Millipede, PacMan, Star Wars, DigDug, Frogger, and my absolute favorite Ms. Pac Man. 

And so I offer to you, the arcade style game which I play to unwind and I will tell you that I can get to level 15 without breaking a sweat.  If you can get higher - I want to hear from you.  I want to worship at your feet.  I want to drink staring into your eyes, I want to study your every move.  And then I want to challenge you and beat you!

Waka Waka

Thursday, January 9, 2014


People do funny things when they sleep.  I do this thing sometimes where I take my nose ring out - completely out and I am completely alseep and then when I wake up I have to find it.  It isn't an easy thing to do because it has a twist at the end of it, the part that is inside my nose so that when I sneeze or when I blow my nose it doesn't fly out of my nose.  So in order to take it out, I have to turn in ever so carefully and then at a certain point I have to tilt it at an angle and then it slides out.

Sounds gross right?  Not really - no different than earrings - because if you think about it, your ears produce weird stuff too - just like your nose.  But back to the nose ring - when I wake up I will find it imbedded in my leg or in my arm or stuck to my cheek.  Once I had to strip the bed because it was really gone only to find it under the bed.  Once I had taken it out of my nose and I woke up and I was holding it clutched in my fist.  Another time I had taken it out asleep and laid it on my bed side table and then gone back to sleep.  It doesn't get too far though - I usually have no problem finding it the next morning.  But I've often wondered what would happen should I accidentally swallow it . . . while sleeping.

Anyway - this morning I woke up without my ring on.  In all fairness it is a silver band I bought in Mexico last summer so it isn't really that valuable, only that I've been wearing a ring for over 10 years so I feel kind of naked without it.  So I stripped the bed of all bedding and crawled around under the bed and then I cleaned under the bed because I realized how gross that part of the house gets but I still couldn't find it.  I hope I haven't swallowed it, because finding it - now that IS gross!