Friday, July 31, 2009

Vacation Dilema

In these tough economic times, it's necessary to juggle finances, plan expenditures and schedule appointments in a timely manner so as not to blow the budget all at once. Throw in a little vacation and well, things can go very wrong, very quickly, with the checkbook.

For example, my upcoming vacation to Ohio. I've been planning it for six months but I forgot one very important component, and that component is Botox, eyebrows and a haircut! Okay, that's three things but they're all in the same category-- Vanity! And I am guilty as charged.

With five days to go, I looked in the mirror and asked myself, what the hell happened here?!?! Seriously, I said those words out loud!

For starters, I've been stretching my Botox injections a few weeks longer apart and frankly, I'm running on empty! My crows feet are flying at full mast and it looks like my face has melted. Dang!

Even if the too-ridiculous-to-report-amount-of-money was available for a Botox touch-up, five days is not nearly long enough for the full effect of the injection to take place. Contrary to popular belief, your face is not "immediately frozen" after an injection. It take 7-10 days to see it's magic-- At least on my very deep crows feet. But, it's out of the question right now so c'est la vie.

A haircut is doable thanks to Godson's mom. She's a former hair stylist and can snip a bit off the ends to hold me over until I get back.

But that leaves me with the eyebrows. Let me preface this by sharing a little secret with you. I swear my eyebrows grow faster than weeds after a rain storm thanks to some lupus medication I take. My nails grow like crazy too but the brows-- I've got the Andy Rooney eyebrow gene and it's... it's... it's... well.... 'Nuff said.

Never in million years did I ever think I'd need someone to tweeze and trim my eyebrows for me. And I'm not being a high maintenance prima donna here. I seriously need someone to do it for me because my middle-aged eyes have gotten so bad that I can't do it myself anymore!

Did you ever try wearing reading glasses while looking into a lighted magnifying mirror? I'm telling you it is not a good way to go about the task at hand. Brows come out cock-eyed and uneven. You can look up, but not down, to tweeze or trim, plus the frames leave blind spots. Take my word for it, blind spots are not good when you have scissors in hand, near your eyes!

So I'm off today to get my brows done. I will admit, it's probably the best spent money of the above because after my brows are done I feel like I've gotten a momentary face lift. Really! "Liz the Brow Lady" is a miracle worker. I don't know what she does or how she does it, but for one day, life is good and I look awake, and rested, and not nearly as melted.

How do you see things?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Almost Vacation

The piles for packing have started to form around the bedroom. Next Thursday, Godson and I take off for our annual summer trip to Ohio to visit my family. This will be our 6th summer to my hometown and everyone is very excited.

Godson is a "city boy" and my family lives in "the country" so it's a night and day experience for him. Plus, my family all lives within six blocks of each other, so they are literally next door and there is always something fun for him to do with all my nieces and nephews.

As we prepare for the tip, my pile are things like tee shirts, flip flops and sun hats. His pile consists of...

--His favorite brownie mix to make for my folks. Sweet huh, I couldn't argue with that even though Duncan Hines is sold back home.

--Balloons to fill for a giant water balloon fight with his "god cousins". This is an annual ritual that leaves the entire family soaking wet on a hot August night.

--Five pounds of See's Candy, because California See's Candy is better than the See's Candy sold in the kiosk at the Cleveland Airport.

--A enormous amount of Legos, dvds, games, books, snacks and the likes to keep him "occupied" on the 4 1/2 hour flight. I've been told that I'm not all that entertaining on a plane and these are vital for a successful trip.

--Pool shoes, goggles, a bucket and net, rubber gloves and a large plastic shovel for walking in the Chagrin River and catching frogs. The rubber gloves are apparently for me since I won't touch frogs barehanded. Um, I won't touch frogs at all!

--Several toys for my folk's new cat that he's anxious to meet for the first time. Godson wants to be a Veterinarian and is all about the animals. He wanted to bring bags of carrots and apples for the horses too but I convinced him long ago that the cousins had that covered for him.

--A firefly/lightening bug "catcher" that he got on our very first visit. We don't have fireflies in LA and these are a highlight of the trip, no matter how old he gets.

We have a week to go before we take off. As you can see, we'll be traveling light!

How do you travel?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An Apology

As I approach my first 100 posts-- and the Giveaway I've been promising you, it dawned on me that first, I owe many, many of you a great, big, apology.

Before I started blogging, I bought a bunch of "how to" books on the subject-- mostly the yellow and black books in the "Dummies" series-- you know the ones for dummies, aka ME. The whole idea of blogging was intimidating and since I'm very much a Type A personality (translation: freak) and obsess about doing things right, I wanted to be sure I started off on the right foot.

So I read the books, pink highlighter in hand, making notes and folding pages for all the really important blog stuff I should know. I think I actually spent a month just studying "keywords", not that I've ever once checked a keyword ranking, but I have several pink highlighted chapters in various books to prove I studied it.

I read books about Blogger too-- several times. In hindsight they were pretty lightweight but, it was enough to get me started, sort of. Eventually I "designed" my blog, if you could call it "designed", and wrote my first rant, I mean post. It was pretty lame but I kept writing and hoped people would be interested in what I had to say.

What don't I remember reading about in the books? Blog etiquette-- The does and don't of blogging, beyond using capitol letters is the equivalent of shouting at people. I really could have used a little Emily Post or Miss Manners advice on the etiquette front as I navigated my way around the blogosphere.

Last February, I finally started posting. It took a while, but eventually I figured my way around the basics of Blogger. And, I made a few friends, and then a few more friends. I swear the first time I had ten comments (that weren't SPAM), I nearly fainted! When people started to actually follow my blog-- As in leaving more than one comment before bolting to another blog never to be seen again, I was thrilled.

Thank you so much. There aren't words to possibly describe how much I appreciate your support, friendship and kindness, not to mention-- patience.

So that leads me to the apology part---

First, in the beginning, I'm pretty sure I stalked some of you. I found a few blogs and lurked until I got my nerve up to comment. Then I'd read your older posts, and commented on even more-- As in about ten older posts at a time. In hindsight, I think I was like the dinner guest that just won't leave. Sorry about that. I hope I didn't scare you.

Second, the whole "word verification" thing-- It's just not working for me. I'm certain, that once I finally found my reading and commenting groove, I started typing faster and comments started to disappear without me knowing it. So please know that after all that stalking, I didn't drop you like a hot potato. I know I left about 75% MORE comments than actually appeared because I didn't realize I needed to wait around for some of the word verification boxes to appear before exiting the Comments Section! And, I often didn't wait for the Comments to load onto your page so they were dropped. Who knew all that was part of the process? I sure as heck didn't, and I don't remember the "waiting" part being mentioned in the books. I promise to do better.

I've learned a few other things in the past 6 months of blogging as well....

1) Blogger software can be a little bitchy sometimes, when you least expect it, then poof, just when you are ready to throw your computer out the window, Blogger is back and happy again.

2) Blog friends are an interesting and fabulous group of people. Wit, humor, kindness and great insight are the first things that come to mind about all of you. Some of your comments are funnier than anything I could ever write. Your memories for past posts, people, situations, etc. is amazing. And there are even those of you who have mastered the fine art of reading between the lines and offering support when I least expect it. I am humbled by your generosity. Thank you.

3) My husband still asks me if I'm writing about him! Yes I have, but only on a few occasions here and here, but that's about it. I'm pretty sure that's not going to change, much to his chagrin. (He's available to sign autographs, by the way.)

As for the promised GIVEAWAY-- Honest, it's coming on August 4th. I'm going on vacation soon for a five day weekend in Ohio and don't want the Giveaway to end in the middle of the trip causing a delay in picking the winner and shipping the loot. So hang in there. It's coming!

A million thanks to all of you-- the readers, the lurkers, the followers and the one-stoppers, I appreciate all of you so much. Please keep those cards and letters coming!

What have you learned about blogging?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna

Sunday, July 26, 2009

House For Sale

Guess who I found? Remember Betty in Paraguay from Wiens World who recently "retired" from blogging? She missed us and is back with a brand new blog called A Glimpse Into Midlife Please stop by and say hello!

There is a stunning house in our neighborhood that recently went on the market. I've admired it for years on my regular walks through the 'hood and I was happy to finally have a look inside. From the mobs of people at the open house it, I wasn't the only curious one.

It's a big, lovely, English Tudor, not your typical "California" house, on a double lot with a grand Jacaranda tree in the front. The garden is perfectly manicured by the older gentleman living in the house. In Southern California, the land of gardeners, he stood out, but he seemed so happy, I assumed he enjoyed yard work.

His wife was lovely too and had a very cute white poodle with her all the time. She'd walk the dog around the block multiple times a day and I'd see the dog sitting on her lap when she'd drive the car.

Many times I tried to strike up a conversation with the couple, who looked to be now in their 80s, but they never engaged, instead offering a smile or a wave and then immediately getting back to their business. This went on for the 15 years that I've lived in the neighborhood. Then one day, the you know what hit the fan!

There was a very angry man yelling at the older couple, the poodle yapping at their feet. All this was in the front yard and surprising for our quiet neighborhood. Then a police car pulled up-- Not something we see everyday! The yelling man was escorted back to his car by one of the cops while the other police officer talked to the older man with his wife sobbing by his side. This went on for about 20 minutes and then the angry man and the police were gone.

Days passed and the woman continued to walk the poodle around the block, but now her husband was always with her. The yard was starting to look a little less maintained and I often saw them carrying boxes from the house to their car. There were no more smiles or waves. It appeared they were moving out.

There as definitely trouble in River City folks and neighbors were starting to talk amongst ourselves-- Okay we gossiped. Turns out, we had a celebrity in our midst-- sort of.

The house was actually owned by an old silent screen movie star. It was his "second" home so to speak, where his mistress lived. The mistress was a blonde bombshell, with a beloved white toy poodle. Life was good and her every need was met before and after the movie star died. She also had a live-in cook and a gardener/caretaker that lived with her until she passed away at a ripe old age. Nice gig if you can get it, huh?

The movie star, knowing how much his mistress loved her poodle, also provided for the dog. Yes, the dog was in the Will too! The white poodle was to live in the house until it died, along with the cook and gardener/caretaker looking after it-- all expenses paid. Bow WOW! Once the dog and the mistress were both dead, the house would be sold and the cash would revert back to the movie star's estate.

The angry guy in the car was the grandson of the movie star. Apparently grandpa/movie star had loooooong since passed. The mistress had passed away too, about 20 years ago! The movie star's son had either forgotten about the house or chosen not to acknowledge his father's mistress and the estate automatically paid the bills.

Along comes movie star's grandson who realized the house could be sold once the poodle croaked. You now, the poodle that would be about 30 years old by now!

The mistress was no dumb blonde, no siree, neither were the cook and gardener/caretaker-- who also happen to be the above mentioned couple living in the house. The mistress lived extremely well in the big Tudor, all expenses paid by her Sugar Daddy movie star, for decades. When dementia started to set it with the mistress-- and the poodle would start to show its age-- the cook and gardener/caretaker simply replaced the pooch with a younger version. After the mistress passed away, the cook and gardener/caretaker carried on the dog switch action until grandson got a whiff of the dog pooh, so to speak.

Seriously! I am not making this up. Every now and then, one of those "Star Tours" buses rolls through our neighborhood pointing out the house. I've never caught the movie star's name but since our neighborhood is sandwiched between 20th Century Fox and the old MGM Studios, I'm guessing he was under contract with one of them.

So my question is, given the opportunity, would you pooch switch to live large if no one was looking? Does that even tempt you a little bit?

Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
PS Don't forget to check out Betty's new blog
PSS Coming SOON - My first GIVEAWAY!!! Stay tuned.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Unexpected Gifts

Some days are simply exhausting, it's when life slows and there is nothing I can do about it. Other days, something in the house breaks, bad news is delivered or the heat combined with a never-ending hot flash threatens to wring me out. I feel sorry for myself and have a great, big, pity party-- And then I move on, or at least as best I can at the moment.

I recently had "one of those days-- A. Day. From. Hell. Nothing life threatening, just a whole lot of drama all lumped into one very long, very hot, day. But around 10 o'clock that night, five gifts appeared within about an hour's time, and I couldn't help but feel better. Okay, six gifts appeared, and one of them was a Xanax, but you'll see why my spirits lifted if you keep reading.

The first gift was a post by my dear friend and "Sister in Snark", Holly over at Your Mother Knows But Won't Tell You. And if you didn't read this post, grab a cup of coffee or a big ice tea and settle in for a great read. Then pass the post onto every single, unattached, person you know. Believe me, they will thank you for it! If you don't know Holly you should, so please pay her a visit! You'll see why I love her, why the post kept me hanging on every word and why I think she should write a book!

After reading Holly's hilarious and informative post, I checked my emails and found this picture!
Two of my favorite love birds were recently married and put "their motto" on the top of their wedding cake. "The peanut butter to my jelly", is what the bride and groom always say about each other. Can you see the wedding veil and the tuxedo bow tie? It made me smile.

I checked the front door for mail well after 10pm and found gift number three, my tres chic new indoor/outdoor rug, courtesy of Christy at A Lil' Welsh Rarebit's Giveaway a few weeks ago. Cool, huh? It will look great on my patio!
Christy is a self proclaimed "trophy wife and stay at home mom" with a beautiful baby girl! And, she's training for a triathlon! Please stop by when you get a chance and cheer her on.

And then, I found gift number four-- A bowl full of these left for me by Godson's Mom.

They are tiny tomatoes-- Think smaller than a pencil eraser, and the sweetest tomatoes I have ever eaten. And they smell wonderful! Of course these are the remaining few that I haven't eaten-- yet. But I stopped long enough to take a picture to show you because, well, just because they are perfect.

I finally sat down around 11pm and thumbed through Real Simple Magazine and discovered gift number five-- An Essay Contest titled "When did you first realize that you had become a grown up?". I read the short blurb with details and folded the page to read again later.

Over the past six months of blogging, I've tried to figure out what I want to do with myself. I don't like retirement, which is one of the reasons I started blogging, but honestly, I'm not up for another 60 hour a week job either. What I have figured out is that I enjoy writing, something I never did before in my "previous life", so I think I will write more and have less of "those days".... Or at least try to.

Before the Essay Contest gets buried in my "to-do" pile, I'm going to sit down and take a stab at it. I've never written one but I definitely feel like a grown up-- And I remember the first time I realized my childhood was behind me.

I'll enter it in the Real Simple Magazine Essay Contest. Deadline is September 7, 2009 so I have time work on it-- And you have time to work on your essay if you so desire!

What unexpected gifts have you received?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna

PS Be on the lookout for my first ever GIVEAWAY. Coming soon!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wiener Warning!

It's a slow news day when the front page of the Los Angeles Times Business Section has a big, full-color, "wiener warning" story! No, Loraina Babbit is not on the loose again, no the Playboy Mansion is not having another wild party and no, this is not about sex offenders living too close to neighborhood schools. It's about hot dogs! Who knew wieners were breaking news and at the top of our "worry" list these days?!?

Seriously, today's Business Section has a top of page story, with a 5" x 7" color photo, and the headline "They want warning in the wurst way". I'm sure the Oscar Mayer company really appreciates that picture of their dogs too.

The article reports on a vegan group in New Jersey seeking a court order for a "Warning Label" on wieners stating that "Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increase the risk of cancer." You know what I'm talking about--The kind of label you see on cigarette packages. That's what they want on hot dogs, although this claim is yet to be proven.

I think it's a bunch of dog poop.

We're talking about hot dogs folks-- the All-American food, that's literally been around for more than a hundred years! For crying out loud-- What's next, apple pie, potato salad, milk, and ice cold beer? Give me a break!

Yes, this article has me smoking mad, not "smoking" enough to have a "Warning Label" tattooed to my forehead, but mad as hell, nevertheless. This potential class action suit is a waste of time, money and perfectly good frankfurters-- I'll take mine, by the way, with ketchup, relish and sour kraut please.

With all the mess in the world-- the wars, the economy, poverty, AIDS, violence, you name it-- There are at least a million other things to protest about then friggin hot dogs eaten in New Jersey that possibly, maybe, potentially could, cause cancer. Yes, today New Jersey, tomorrow the world!

I get that vegans eat animal-free food, so they shouldn't eat hot dogs or the likes, but a class action lawsuit? Are hot dogs really the most important thing vegans can protest? Doesn't, oh say-- global warming and the impact it's having on worldwide crops rank a tad bit higher on the vegan protest "to-do" list then say, Dodger Dogs?

Before you say it, I'm NOT picking on vegans. To each his own. What I am calling this vegan group out for is the insanity of a court case about hot dogs. Seriously, is that the best they could do to raise the awareness level for their "eat animal-free" cause? Do they think this approach is going to get new followers to dump their dogs? And don't get me started on the huge waste of tax payer's money to hear this non-sense in court. Grrrrr!

As I write this rant, I've read the above noted story several times and each time I'm more and more disgusted. First, by the Los Angeles Times for giving the story such high profile press, and second, for the obviously transparent attempt by this group to garner attention for an unproven claim only to help boost their "vegan message" in the media.

Yes, this post is playing right into their hands-- I'm talking and writing about it. But what I'm also doing is BUYING MORE HOT DOGS, Hebrew International are my fave, and I'm serving them to my entire family this weekend with no concern about giving them cancer!

I'm also hoping the New Jersey courts laugh this lawsuit right out the door-- and onto the curb-- where several hot dog vendors are standing by to feed the hungry attorneys.

With this kind of "lawsuit mentality", we'll have black box warning labels on everything, not just the real and important products that can actually harm us. I say enough already with the over-the-top labels and ridiculous lawsuits! Be informed and make your own decisions and leave the courts for "real" cases.

What do you think?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
PS Coming soon, my first GIVEAWAY! Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Shopping Spree!

Someone has been shopping up a storm-- big time, and it wasn't me. But it was with my American Express card!

I got the dreaded call this morning from Amex asking if I was in Arizona buying an unusually large amount of electronics equipment on Monday. Definitely not. I was at home in California being a domestic goddess-- and I have the folded laundry and homemade banana bread to prove it. Then they asked if I was at WalMart (apparently, gleefully running through the store yelling charge!) or at two different gas stations trying to fill what appeared to be, an extremely large vehicle today, before returning to Los Angeles, in record time, where I picked up a prescription at the pharmacy and chicken at the supermarket. Those last two, really boring charges, were mine. The WalMart shopping spree, gasoline for the masses, and race back to LA-- not even close.

While I was on the phone with the oh so sweet Amex rep, I learned the genius using my stolen card number also paid his cable, electric and phone bills too, then ordered, what looked to be, a year's supply of "reading material" (wink*ahem*porn*cough) to be sent to the same address as his utilities!

Call me crazy, and maybe a tag bit judgmental, but isn't alerting the credit card company to your home address a little stupid? Clearly this was not a smart thief, then again, is there such a thing-- a smart thief, I mean?

As we talked, I was sweating bullets and frantically rummaging through my wallet looking for my cherished, and too oft used, Gold Card. Phew! It was right were it belonged-- Which made me angry and even more stressed. Someone get me a Xanax stat!

This is the third time this has happened to me! What have I done and where have I gone that resulted in my credit card number being stolen, reproduced into new cards and used? I hear all the news reports about the scanners attached to gas pumps collecting card info, the over-the-shoulder password thieves, and lord help me, bank computers being hacked. Then of course, all the online shopping I do, to avoid leaving the comfort of my own home, raced through my mind. Yikes! This could really put a crink in my shopping-- Not that I shop that much. I'm just sayin'....

The nice Amex lady put my anxiety to rest and told me they would take care of everything. Seriously, it took less then ten minutes and, poof, it was gone-- My American Express Card that is, but a brand new one will be delivered to my home tomorrow with a new number. (Insert big sigh of relief.) The charges are gone too or at least they are not my responsibility.

In these desperate times, would I fell better if I knew the thieves were at work to put food on their table, a roof over their head or even paying medical bills? Maybe. But in this case, not so much. Porn, electronics and a WalMart shopping spree is just plain greed. No one is doing their part to "boost the economy", they're just ripping people and businesses off.

So that makes three stolen card numbers so far with total charges in the near $17,000 range! First was about seven years ago at an expensive jewelry store in California. The second was two years ago by someone in New York City dressing head to toe in Armani, and now the third is a bunch of electronics and porn in Arizona.

What's next?

Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
PS Thank you American Express. You rock!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dating: Chapter Four

What is it about guys and blind dates?  Either they want no part of them or they think they are the master of "hook-ups"!

Case in point-- my husband.

We'd been dating for about six months when my husband/then boyfriend proposed a double date with my BFF and his long lost work buddy-- Who'd just gotten dumped by his too young, too hot, too gold-digging, huge-boobed, girlfriend.  Yes, that should have been my first clue that this guy was a few brain cells short of quality dating material, but nooooo, I made the arrangements for the four of us to meet for drinks at an oh so chic restaurant bar.  "My guy" assured me that "her guy" would be terrific for BFF, whom he'd never met by the way.  Red flag number two went right over my head. 

BFF had recently broken off her engagement to a longtime beau and was still not quite sure of her next step in the dating world, but figured since I'd been gushing about how fabulous "my guy" was, his friend should be fabulous too.  Right?  Note to self when arranging future blind dates:  Do not make assumptions of this nature.

So there we were, the three of us waiting for "her guy" to show up.  He was running late but it gave BFF a Cosmopolitan head start for her first foray in blind dating since the teen years.  Might I add, BFF's HOT and very hip.

We quizzed "my guy" about "her guy" and discovered he was a divorced accountant with two kids in high school. He lived in a geographically desirable radius of BFF's apartment-- an important factor when considering Los Angeles' nightmare traffic, and he was "a really nice guy". 

BFF and I kept our eyes on the front door, checking out all the men as they walked through-- All in the appropriate "age range", all reasonably attractive, all appearing to be from this planet, if you catch my drift.

And then, a full thirty minutes late, "her guy" appears at the table.  We'd seen him walk in but dismissed "Grandpa" at first glance.  There was a painful pregnant pause as he was introduced.  BFF and I shot inquisitive looks to "my guy" asking if "Grandpa" was indeed the blind date.  

Sure enough, they started reminiscing about the glory days as junior accountants together and lord help me, I thought BFF would kill me right then and there.

It had never dawned on me to ask "my guy" if "her guy" was, um, how can I say this delicately, um, err-- Well-- I never asked if "her guy" was older than Moses!  Nor did I ask if he had a pocket protector full of pens in a rainbow of colors or, if after discussing the glory days, he'd have anything to talk about other than his ex or how filthy rich he was.  Oh yeah, and I never asked if "her guy" would do anything other than stare at BFF's boobs all night. 

BFF kicked me under the table until I was black and blue.

"Her guy" was completely oblivious as he proclaimed his great wealth and told stories about how much money he'd thrown at his recent ex-girlfriend, as if that information would seal the deal with BFF.  Oh yeah, this guy was already picking out China patterns for the two of them! 

I was half sick to my stomach and half trying desperately not to laugh-- The situation was that bazaar!  All I could think was, it must have been a while since "her guy" had been on a date or he'd forgotten the golden rule of dating-- Don't talk about your ex-girlfriend to a potential new one.

BFF ordered her second Cosmopolitan while I tried desperately to find some enduring qualities in this guy.

Ninety painful minutes after he arrived, "her guy" left for a business dinner.  Good-byes were awkward, as he asked her name again, and no phone numbers were exchanged. But, I got the feeling he was very confident love was in the air as he patted her on the tush.  "Her guy" made a lot of assumptions and knew absolutely nothing about BFF, because he was the only one talking-- about himself-- the entire time!

The three of was watched, in silence, as "her guy" left the restaurant and disappeared out of sight.  As soon as the coast was clear, I turned to "my guy" and blurted out...

"Are you kidding me!  He's older than my Grandfather!!!  What were you thinking?!?!"

To which "my guy" answered--  

"What are you talking about, he's my age!"

OMG, again!!!

Bartender, another round please.

BFF sucked down her third Cosmopolitan faster than you can say "I'm not touching this one with a ten foot pole." and left the building.  Her message on my home phone that night summed it up for all of us perfectly--

Never again!!!

It's a miracle BFF is still my BFF twenty years later.  All I can say is, I learned my lesson that night and have never, ever, set up a blind date with or without "my guy's" help.  
And my husband still can't believe it wasn't a love connection! 

What's your track record with blind dates?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor  -  Joanna

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Evening News

When I heard Walter Cronkite passed away today, I thought about all the news he brought into our home over the years.

My folks were always glued to the television when he was on CBS and us kids were expected to sit down, be quiet and pay attention to events around the globe, because, as he always said, "That's the way it is."

As a kid, I felt really comfortable watching Walter Cronkite.  He reminded me of a nice grandfather type and he talked slowly and deliberately, and a lot of the time, I actually understood what he was saying.  Or rather, I realized how important the news stories were based on his emotions.  If Walter Cronkite's voice cracked, or on the rare occasion, his anger showed thorough, well, I paid attention.

I remember vividly the Apollo 11 Mission reported by Walter Cronkite.  And I remembered his reporting when John Kennedy was shot.  Later, when I was older, I remembered the Iran Hostage crisis because he counted the numbers of days, every night, starting at Day 50. And, I still remember the hostages were freed after 444 days because of his count.

The first time I ever saw a man really crying, tears pouring down his face, was David Brinkley when he reported Chet Huntley, his long time partner on the NBC Huntley-Brinkley Report, had died in 1974.  I was about 14 at the time.  I'd seen tears of joy and excitement but never tears of grief.  My heart broke for him.  

Whenever I'd hear the Walton's "Good night John Boy", I thought they'd borrowed it from Huntley and Brinkley-- "Good night, David.  Good night, Chet.  And good night night for NBC News.

Now all three are gone and I'm sad.  I feel like old friends have passed.  My heart is with their families and friends. 

Do you have memories of the evening news?

Welcome to The Fifty Factor  -  Joanna
PS  Check out Lulu's Giveaway - See sidebar's top right button!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Overheard in Los Angeles

You just never know what you're going to hear...  

I was a busy girl this week, running all over town doing errands, shopping, schlepping and the likes.  In LaLaLand, aka Los Angeles, people say and do the craziest things.  And often times, they are totally obvious as to how loud they're actually talking!
Although I didn't mean to eavesdrop, here's what I overheard in my 'hood this week.  

"That ice cream will make my butt look fat tomorrow."
Twenty-something woman outside Cold Stone Creamery

"It's never too early to shop for Christmas!"
Hallmark card salesperson pointing out their Christmas ornament display to me-- in July

"Your tree is dead.  I hope it doesn't kill mine too."
Next door neighbor worry because the leaves on our tree are turning brown

"At @#$%^&! Disneyland?!?  Why aren't you at work?"
Mother in Macy's talking on her cell phone to teenage son

"It's so slow at the office, after lunch, I'm going to go sit in a stall in the men's room and take a nap."
Thirty-something business man waiting in line at Panda Express for lunch

"I've got to get my boobs done before the Emmy's-- I want to be a seat filler."
Woman talking to her friend in the changing room at Nordstrom

"Nice veins, I like your shoes too."
Nurse at hospital lab drawing blood from the person in the cubicle next to me

What have you overheard in your 'hood?

Welcome to The Fifty Factor  -  Joanna

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In The Spotlight

I’m fresh out of blog ideas to write about and thought this might hold me over until my brain kicks back in. Thanks to Green-Eyed Momster who stole this meme from Unknown Mami.  

Here are the rules:
1. Respond and rework, (or not); answer the questions on your blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your invention, add one more question of your own.  2. Tag other people (or not). Sounds simple enough, right?

Here are my answers...

What is your current obsession?
Let’s start off with a shocker—I’m obsessed with the reality show Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood on Oxygen.  I’m a freak, I know.

What are you wearing today?
 I'm sitting in the yard so I'm wearing a hat the size of a circus tent. It's been around the world with me, and yes, everyone laughs when they see me in it.

What’s for dinner?
 Baked beans are slow cooking in the oven and we’re grilling hot dogs.  It’s 90 degrees today so it made sense to heat up the kitchen and stand over a hot bbq.

What are you listening to right now?
 The neighbor kids screaming in their pool.

Which language do you want to learn?
 Spanish, living in America, it would really come in handy.

What do you love most about where you currently live?
 We have a red-tailed hawk that flies the skies over our back yard.

What style is your current home decorated in?
 Contemporary and comfortable, but we have a lot of old architectural fragments as artwork on the walls.  I figure if I can’t live in an old farm house, I’ll move one into my current house, one piece at a time.

If you were a time traveler what era would you live in?
 Back to the time when round, chubby women were all the rage.

What is your favorite color?
 Periwinkle blue (like hydrangeas)

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?
 I never met a pair of shoes I didn’t like.

What were you doing ten years ago?
 Working my ass off in advertising and marketing and never imagining I’d hate retirement!

If you had $300 now, what would you spend it on?
 A trip to Baltimore with Holly, Queen of the Universe, in late summer or early fall for Blue Stone Crabs.

When was the last time you cried?  I don’t cry, this explains it.

What are your favorite films?E.T. is the only film I've ever paid to see twice.  And I love foreign language films.  But pretty much anything with Daniel Craig, Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep or Russell Crowe flips my switch.

Your favorite books? Grapes of Wrath wrecked me.  And I'm reading Writing Home by blogger Cindy LaFerle, it's terrific.

What was the most enjoyable thing you did today?
 Today I took 90 minutes of Pilates, it makes me feel so tall-- Then I took a 2 hour nap to recuperate.

What are the things you would never blog about?  If I have an "issue" and haven't discussed/said it with/to the person's face, I'd never write about it.  I don't blog to "send a message" to others.  But believe me, with the stories I could tell, it's VERY tempting sometimes!

How did you build traffic to your blog?  I found blogs I liked and started making comments.  Then, if a blogger I liked had a list of blogs she/he liked, I’d check those out as well. Eventually I found a collection of blogs I enjoy reading, and comments and traffic flowed back and forth.  Plus Lilly featured my blog as a “guest writer” and she introduced me to lots of great people. But how people build huge traffic and huge comments remains a mystery to me.  I'd love to know!

What makes you follow a blog?
 Good writing and/or great photography always captures me.  And I love to laugh!  Plus of course, a "Follow" button makes it easier.

What advice would you give bloggers? Add your blog URL to the signature block on your email so it's easy to figure out who you are when/if you email other bloggers.  (User names and blogs are usually very different.)  And, it's a great teaser to remind the people you email to check out your blog.

Ann's Question: What makes you comment on a blog?  It’s my way of staying connected to the blogs and blog friends I’ve made.  I like to show appreciation for their work.

Amy's Question: What is your favorite thing to do when you have some free time?
 What's "free time"?

Tonya's Question: What is a talent you wished you had?  I’m a good cook, as evidenced by the above mentioned *ahem* baked beans, but I would love the time and skill to be a Julia Childs type cook.

Kyooty's Question: If you could be any other animal other then Human, what would you be?
 My mother’s spoiled rotten cat.... or an elephant, then I'd never have to worry about my weight or wrinkles again.

Carrin's Question: Rush just told me that by 2042, white people will be the minority. Do you believe that? Would that be a big deal to you?
 I don’t believe a word Rush Limbaugh says, but I have no problem being a minority.

Melissa's Question: Would you want your blog to be as popular as Dooce? What would be some of the pros and cons?
 Oh yes, I would love to be that popular!  She types, the world reads, and the paparazzi doesn’t stalk her.  Hmmm, I wonder if she gets good tables at restaurants.

Unknown Mami's Question: What do you admire most about yourself? Don't be modest.
 Probably my ability to laugh at myself.

Green-Eyed Monsters Question: If you could be anyone else, who would you be?  I’d like to be rich and anonymous but no one like that comes to mind at the moment. 

Joanna Jenkin’s Question:  What's surprised you about your blog?  I was surprised and happy when guys started reading and commenting!  

As far as tagging goes, I tag anyone who wants to do it-- NO pressure!  And, you don't have to include any links, if you don't have time.  Let me know if you play along!

Since this is all about me, (isn't it always?) is there anything else you’d like to know? Ask away, I'll answer your questions in another post!

Welcome to The Fifty Factor  -  Joanna

Photo Credit 

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bag Lady On A Mission

My husband started it. He came home from work one day with a reusable shopping bag (Where he got it, I have no idea.) and vowed to carry it with him for evermore, never to bring a plastic grocery store bag home again! He gave me a big speech about saving the planet, how plastic bags are not biodegradable and how we need to start doing our part at the supermarket. He was very excited, very sincere, very *ahem*cough*over-the-top*cough*, about it and he meant every word. This was about three years ago, way before the current trend in Los Angeles to “bring your own bag” shopping.

As I stared at him blankly, taking in his latest revelation, I wondered if my husband even knew where our local supermarket was. Grocery shopping is "not his thing”, if you catch my drift. I wished him good luck on HIS “plastic bag-free mission" and went about my business. Then I called my friend to have a good laugh about it.

Little did I know, my friend had a few "save the planet” ideas of her own. She was knee-deep in the book Omnivore’s Dilemma and was now on HER own mission-- That mission was chicken! My friend wanted better food choices to feed her growing child and was willing to make the added effort to find, and the added expense involved, to make it happen. After all, we live in Southern California, how hard could it be?

After extensive research, she found a truly organic, cage-free, roam around in the sun, chicken, to feed her child-- You know, a real chicken. It’s not as easy to find as you might think-- which, come to think of it, is shocking. But finally, after searching high and low and racing cross-town, in Los Angeles rush hour traffic, to pay a ridiculous sum of money, for a raw chicken, my friend found her chick-o-dee and was thrilled…. Right up until the butcher put her beautiful “pure” chemical-free, Sunshine State chicken into a plastic grocery bag. Talk about a buzz kill.

We discussed it, half laughing, half frustrated, and hands-free of course, as she drove home with her bird in the backseat. That was our “tipping point” as they say, and we both pledged to join my husband and swore off plastic (and paper) bags at the supermarket.

The idea of being “ahead of the curve” was appealing to us, although San Francisco, at the other end of the state, was really the mother of reusable bags (in the U.S.). And we liked the idea of “making a difference", all be it a very small one. We found some pretty cool shopping bags too-- Eye-catching and just the right size for large or small trips to the market.

The bags were just the start, as I expanded MY "Mother Earth mission", learning about more things I could improve on. I joked about tracking my carbon footprint as if it was the shoe sale at Nordstrom’s, but knew it was important. My friend and I also explained reusable bags to her child and the commitment we were making. She was all for it and anxious to join in. Big time!

In fact, early in the learning curve, gung-ho child busted both of us, on multiple occasions, for mindlessly taking a store's plastic bag. That resulted in carrying groceries out of the market in our coat pockets and purses. You learn fast not to forget your reusable shopping bag once onion dip is in your coat pocket-- Try explaining that to the dry cleaners! It can be a messy proposition but a commitment is a commitment-- especially in front of an impressionable 9 year old.

Fast forward a few years later and I’d estimate at least half of the shoppers at my local supermarket now bring their own reusable bags. My friend’s child ALWAYS does-- I only wish my memory was that good. I’m forever running back to the car to get my bags. But-- Not once in the last two years have I brought a plastic grocery store bag home with me! I’m pretty proud of that.

And yes, my husband takes total credit for it, although he’s yet to step foot in a grocery store!

Are you “saving the planet”?

Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna

Photo Credit: © Willee Cole -