Friday, January 30, 2009

The Many Faces of Gracie

On Tuesday (Jan 27) Ashley, Gracie and I drove down to Long Beach following a visit from the Strombergs (Ashley, Jim & Gracie) over the weekend. It was a busy weekend with a wedding reception and shower for Rob's sister, Kathy, and a Sunday brunch at Rob & Alyssa's to celebrate my b-day.

And on Friday (Jan 30) Ashley went to work and "Grampy" and I stayed with Gracie and had a perfectly lovely day. These are photos of Gracie "vamping" it up while having her lunch.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Column: Facebook 'R Us!!!

Yes, it's another column. After hearing about Facebook for about the umpteen millionth time and totally not "getting it" I actually found myself on this site. It all starts innocently enough - a couple of questions here, a couple of clicks there and - VOILA!! Suddenly you're networking with the universe! If you're up for a whole column on Facebook craziness, click on this:

Friday, January 23, 2009

Birthday "Girl" Reaches Social Security Entitlement

The bad news is the above-named "entitlement," and hey! I'm takin' it early! But the good news was spending my birthday in Yosemite. We wined and dined at the Tenaya Lodge at the south gate of the park. Although I'd swear to taking a picture of every inch of Yosemite, I still find it necessary to start firing away upon arrival!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Column: Jack is Back!

Yesterday when I opened the Morgan Hill Times and came upon my column page, I had a little surprise. I'd written about one of my TV "faves," the hard-slamming, pulse-racing, nail-biting FOX series, "24." After a year and a half of no "24," thanks to the writers' strike, we Jack-fans were anticipating the return of this show like a teenage girl waits for her date on prom night.

What I hadn't anticipated was the normal picture of me, the column writer, to show up right next to a super-sized photo of Jack Bauer (aka Kiefer Sutherland) himself! Now this was quite eerie, I swear! It was sort of like we were "keeping company" as it were, located side-by-side in the Features section of Friday's paper. My heart sorta skipped a beat like maybe I was somehow ASSOCIATED with this fearless freedom fighter. Yes, I kind of felt like, maybe an older sister or something. Certainly not his mother - oh, heavens no. Just an older sister. Yeah, that's the ticket.

If you care to read the actual column, it's posted here: Or you can just drink in the picture located above this post :)

Bad (Foot)Wear Day Revisited

So last week when admitting to a major style faux pas and making a total fashion victim of myself, little did I know that I was closer than I thought possible to actually making a trendy "Fashion Statement." Here is what happened.

A couple of days after wearing my sandals with socks, the NBC hit "30 Rock" aired. AND, would you believe it, there was mega-Emmy-winner Tina Fey/Sarah Palin clone about to leave on her vacation to the tropics, saying she was going to be hanging out at the beach in her SANDALS and SOCKS JUST LIKE THEY DO IN PARIS!!! That's PARIS, people, as in FRANCE. The Glam Capital of the World!! And ok, Tina was saying "dark" socks and mine were, well, technically, white. But I would just like to mark that day as being "darned close" to being a major fashionista trend setter.

On a related note, I have oodles of pictures of my mother taken back in the late 30s, early 40s, and she was definitely a "babe." Let's just say Julia Louis Dreyfus is a clone of my mother. Yes, she was pretty hot. EXCEPT for (I USED to think) - her sandals and socks!!! That's right - it was an actual trend back in the day and I have pictures to prove it.

So if you want to know what's hot in the world of fashion, just give me a least if it pertains to the whole sandals and socks thing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thank you, Ma Bell

Geeze - I LOVE telephones. Yesterday I received my first "official" telephone call from our little granddaughter, Gracie. Even though her mommy had dialed the phone, the "heavy breathing" I detected issuing forth from the other end of the line could only be from one source: Miss Gracie Elizabeth. Eventually, after a couple of button pushing episodes, I heard "Hi!" although it came out more as "Hah!" - as if she'd been growing up in southern Texas versus southern California.

The preliminaries out of the way, we ventured into territory that I knew would keep the conversation flowing such as "what does a dog (cat/horse/monkey/elephant/birdie/cow) say?" with the corresponding answers (woof-woof/eow/nay/oo-oo/elephant-ish-sound/teet-teet/moo). Eventually I got a big "BYE" or "Bah!" and spoke with Ashley, aka "ma-ma" while Gracie entertained herself with toys and lots of "Oh-ohs" (which is the standard reaction for most traumas in the life of an 18-month old).

I don't suppose I could get her grandpa (Grampy) to agree to let me get Gracie her own cell phone for all those future calls to Grammy???...oh,well, maybe not.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bad (Foot) Wear Day

I've always equated to the "little-old-lady syndrome" (LOLS) open-toed, sling-backed shoes worn with socks of any type. That's why this startling self-portrait of my right foot is big-time scary. Now why would someone of at least average intelligence (me) make such a fashion faux pas by wearing not-so-glamorous but super-comfy SAS sandals with these ankle-high socks? It goes without saying that there were no witnesses to this travesty to trends - so why, then, would I subject myself to ridicule by exposing my tragic foot-attire error to the world at large? I dunno - go figure!

In my defense, this morning was chilly. Hence it was a sock day. BUT - we've had super high temps this week; hence the sandals. Now I was tempted to just hang out in my comfy slippers but I had to work today and by "work" I mean true manual labor: taking down the Christmas decorations - and YES, I KNOW it's January 13!!! So a long day on my feet schlepping around numerous bulky boxes required a bit of good foot support so my back didn't rebel by the end of the day. I know about arch support, I'm afraid. Too many years wearing "cute shoes" (pointy-toed high heels) to work did its damage. So - I confess to this total violation of the footwear code and may possibly suffer ticketing for same by the fashion police. Except ya know what? I'm not really caring right now. Maybe I'm a little closer to the LOLS than I thought!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dog Day Afternoon

Today we enjoyed one of those warm and sunny January days. Our 4-legged "child," Puddin', was in desperate need of a bath and a trim. Since he's gone blind (all kinds of eye problems beginning when he was two years old), I've taken over the bathing and grooming chores since the trauma in taking him to the groomer is extreme, plus he's not supposed to have anything looped around his neck - which is how the groomers anchor the dog into position on the grooming table. You'll note "Mr. P." in the embarrassed position of having just had a bath, appearing to be a bit water-logged. The next picture is when he went onto the sunny deck to dry off - probably in an effort to hide behind the flower pot!

Eventually he dried (by the sun since the hair dryer freaks him out) and I was able to get him groomed - more or less. Let me just say, whoever takes their dog to a groomer, those people REALLY earn their money! This is the 3rd or 4th time I've groomed Puddin' and let's just say I STILL have A LOT to learn. However, the bottom picture shows the finished product, and he looks a little more, well, elegant shall we say than he did in the other two photographs! Hopefully if there are any potential doggie girlfriends watching, they will realize what a handsome guy he is!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

OOPS - She did it again!

Yes, it's ANOTHER new blog, and ok, I've already confessed to an obsessive personality. Or to put it another way, if one blog is good, aren't three just waaaaaay better? Due to a fetish to compartmentalize, I have now created a 3rd blog to deal with my photography habit. Three years ago (or thereabouts) I created a website to store my images, (nature photography and the like) but the "blogosphere" seems a little more fluid - not to mention that the cheap-o down loadable software used by the web host was so not user-friendly. Also not to mention said uncooperative software is no longer available and an upcoming switch to a new desk top computer at home will render my web site un-revisable. So - even though it is in its infancy, "Sweetlight Works" (my photography business name) is officially launched. Here's the URL: It will, I'm sure, grow, and grow, and grow, and...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Column: All roads lead to Diet

It appears everyone has the same thing on their mind these days: the Battle of the Bulge. I devoted my latest column to what happens when you have an obsessive personality (like I do) and you attempt to do ANYTHING in the slightest way normal - but it turns instead into a sort of endurance contest. Oh, well...isn't recognizing your problem the first step in fixing it? At least that's what "they" tell me (that would be the little voices inside my head...) If you would care to commiserate, here's a link to my LATEST BLOG - told you I'm obsessive - which is a catalog of my weekly columns...and hey - thanks for listening :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The "Girls Gone Wild" Slumber Party

As my good friend, Greta, put it - "It's a shame when women in their ??'s and ??'s (and, no, I do not mean their '20s and 30s') have to get together for a SLUMBER PARTY. Of course she was kidding because what better excuse for three "old" (and by that I mean a really LONG association) friends to get together for a major gab-fest. So on Monday evening (January 5), Rosie and Greta arrived at Casa Hammond for a date of dinner and a sleep-over.

It was chilly, rainy and the "hill" was socked over with fog, so I decided comfort food was the way to go. Dinner was Indonesian chicken with coconut rice and pea pods - but the dessert was where the real comfort came in. A few days ago while going through my recipes, I stumbled upon an old one that my mom used to make all the time but I hadn't tasted it in years. It's called "Cherry Delight" cake, is super easy to make and if you like regular cherries, it's delicious. So - following in Alyssa's lovely footsteps - I took some pictures of the cake. PLUS - it gave me an opportunity to use my new cake plate that Alyssa gave me for Christmas. We three "Ya-Ya Sisters" had a relaxing evening of girl talk and TV (Planet Earth in high-def Blue-Ray) and the next morning we picked up the conversation where we left off. I made a "comfort food" breakfast (sticking with the theme) - an apple pancake that went into the oven, the world's biggest blackberries and chicken sausage, which was not only yummy, it had to be more healthy than the pork type - at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

We had great fun - proving that old friends are still just the greatest. Rosie and Greta stayed until around 6pm - and I don't think we'd have ever finished chatting except Hubby got home from golf and it was time to think about dinner again! Shown above are some of the food renderings and the slumber party group - Rosie, Greta and me - along with Puddin' who was the only male attendee allowed :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hooray for Holly-weird and other random thoughts

Last night we watched a REALLY straaaaaannge movie...we traditionally watch a Netflix movie on Saturday night and we often don't know what we're getting into. And last night's pick was a doozie. It's called "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (2007) and while it's a hard movie to "recommend" I do have to say that it was incredibly well done. Not that I am attempting to pass myself off as an expert on movie quality, but it captured the western genre as it must have been and not the romanticized version we often see. If I had to sum the movie up in one word, "haunting" probably best describes it. Brad Pitt starred as the outlaw Jesse James and Casey Affleck as the young Bob Ford who first idolized Jesse James and in less than a year after meeting him, murdered him by shooting him in the back of the head.
If movies were rated by the inability to get it out of your head the next day, this one goes way to the top of the list.
I thought of Rob (aka son-in-law #2) after the movie was finished and his comment after seeing "There Will Be Blood," which I had heartily recommended that he and Alyssa see last year. To say he didn't enjoy the movie is a gross understatement; he said something to the effect that "There's two hours of my life that I'll never get back!" I had something of the same response to the movie last night although - repeating myself - I do think it was beautifully made. And the music? Oh, goodness. Let's just say I'm not going to be purchasing the soundtrack anytime soon. It was, you know, kind of hard to dance to...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Column: A last look back in the rearview mirror

Since 2008 was such a CRAZY year from the standpoint of a nutz-o election (and what an outcome - the nation's first Black president!) Anyway the MAIN thing is - can he get us out of this financial mess?? - nevermind if he's black, white, yellow or purple for that matter. So, because it was such a crazy year and the economy is basically in the tank and who knows what these politicians are doing, nevermind the stock market, my latest column in the Morgan Hill Times (January 2) was devoted to a look back at all the insanity. You can read it here:

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year - 2009!

In the "It's Never Too Late to Try Something New" department, I decided to follow in the footsteps of Alyssa (aka "Daughter #2) and initiate a new blog. Since blogs are now 10 years old, I assume they've "worked the bugs out" - so I'm going to give it a whirl...

Here then, will be the home of my weekly newspaper column - as soon as I learn to navigate my way around a "blog-site"- (my weekly humor/commentary column is now "South Valley Memoirs" - a derivative of my old "Mushroom City Memoirs" column - more about all that at a later date) as well as favorites from my "Sweetlight Works" photos and family favorite photos.

My goal is to create a living journal to observe the goings on in a small town, a big state, and a really great country from the perspective of a girl who grew up in Colorado, moved to California at the tender age of 18, married, had two daughters, one baby granddaughter (June 2007)- and another on the way as we wait for Ashley (aka "Daughter #1) to give birth to Gracie's new baby sister due the first week of April.

Hope we'll all enjoy the ride...and away we GO!!