Being dumped from the Christmas card list

If love of the Gerdes family was measured in volume of Christmas cards received this year, it definitely went down. As Rog started singing, “someone ‘lost that lovin’ feelin,'” he did so with that bit of twang that only the 70’s slate of bad music can invoke. Even the letters we received were rarely even signed, making me feel like we got the letter itself from an automated service, (which in my book, is seriously bad etiquette, even though I know a number of card service providers are making a killing on this, and even some friends who admitted to using it. Alas, those two women left me off their list this year. Just as well). Seconds after I punched him in the arm and felt a bit of woes-me-I-may-cry-thing, he walked away. No love lost on his side apparently.

2011 Cards = 14 (plus one electronic)

Last night, it being the 26th of December, I went to the post office, picked up the mail that had gathered for the last two weeks and gleefully pulled out each one, read it to my family, we all gawked at the pictures, and then we carefully posted each one up on a new pole in our house. Given that I wrote a post this time last year about keeping up all my Christmas cards, I could very well see we were…well, dumped.

How does that feel? Crappy actually. Christmas parties? One this year (versus four last). “Been a hard year,” was what Rog said, the comment thrown over his shoulder as he concentrated on killing a few virtual badguys on the big screen, his mind and thumbs getting reaquainted with his handheld Xbox device.

That much is true. Several friends elected not to send physical cards, but ecards instead. Of these, I received one. Another major transition was change of schools for my daughter, which dropped off about a dozen friends who we no longer see. We all like one another (I think) but top of mind folks make the list. Added to this, I haven’t even sent out my cards yet, since we left before the cards returned from the printer. For the last two years, I was Johnny-on-the-spot, my cards done in November, patiently waiting to be sent out the first of December. Not this year. Rog and I kept battling over a photo (or rather, taking one at all) and this ‘discussion’ never got resolved. Thus, the 75 people on last years list are probably thinking I dumped them!

“It’s like our Christmas party,” he said to me withouth turning his head. “Did you ever send out the note telling people why we didn’t have it.” Uh-oh. At this point, I knew I was in deep-kimshee (name the movie). Here’s the deal-io. Every 2 years, we have a blowout Christmas party at my house, wherein I lose all sense of reason for 2 weeks as I cook, decorate and prepare to spoil all those we love, who are also brave enough to venture to our home. Due to the effort involved, and for the purposes of keeping my marriage intact, we do this every other yr. This year, however, we were gone on an early vacation. To move it up to November would have been blasphemous, and to have it post Christmas defied reason. Thus, no party.

“I–uh–didn’t get around to it,” I admitted.

“Your bad,” Rog said, zero sympathy in his voice.

Okay, so that justifies about half the folks who dropped us off the list, yet it doesn’t account for some of the others, like my dear aunt who puts together a great letter with pictures and details of her kids and gazillion grandkids. How else am I supposed to keep track of 7 families if I don’t get her letter? Worse, one letter that was signed, by a wonderful Uncle, was so darn depressing, I was sort-of sad after I read it. Unlike his notes of happier times, detailing his kids, grandkids, and travels, this one was full of reminiscing on health issues, retirement and the bad weather.

“Maybe he’s just being real after all these years of making up happy stories for the Christmas card letter,” said Rog afterI read him the letter. Maybe so. I could fill a book w/the bummer things that happen during the year, and frankly, the inner-evil part of me is tempted every year to do this, but I can never bring myself to that point of reality. I just do it here!

Now my big dilemna is whether or not to still send out a card at all, send out a New Year Card (still an option, albeit a lame one. We still have no photo) or do something completely strange and opt for a Valentine card. I proposed the latter to Rog, and you know what he said?

“You did mention a Valentine’s Day party to make up for the Christmas party.” He’s right. I had surfaced the option when I was up and happy, right before Thanksgiving. On the bright side, the list of invitees will be a lot smaller than originally anticipated. I’ll be sending out invites to all 14 people who sent me cards….

Catch the money wave: getting donations for your company, non-profit or product

You probably all read all about Lauren Scruggs, the 23 yr old model and blogger who accidently walked in to a turning propeller. The incident was/is awful, and I was one of the over 350K plus that visited her website to get more information. The site itself is rather basic, and her message of hope intriguing. Most helpful was the easy to find button to donate for medical costs.

This is a must for any non-profit organization that has an on-line presence. Most schools foundations have this in the obvious bulls-eye red, to the upper right of the page where scientists have proven the eye goes first. (If yours in in the bottom left of the page, fire your web designer and move it. Now). A second must is to have monthly newsletters that go out to your constituency that includes photos of past members (alumni), and yes, a link to donate for a specific initiative. A third must is to identify specific uses for the proceeds. Studies from alumni organizations have got to great lengths to determine what motivates a person to donate to an entity that, from the outside, isn’t hurting for cash. Providing a ‘specific-use’ statement is one of the top reasons an individual or entity will donate.

A few examples include:

  • technology revamp (computer equipment upgrade, back-up systems, staff training
  • Infrastructure improvement (path lighting, gate improvement, security system)
  • Internal upgrade (updated lighting, electronic whiteboards)
  • Arts, music or library programs (with specific dollar, or subject focus that is unique and compelling).

Another approach that I’ve seen gain a lot of traction in recent years is rallying a group to support a single cause for a single year. Take a person on Roger’s (spouse) hockey team. This year, one of the players suggested the entire team get around the Ronald McDonald House,(note the button at the upper right, also in red) and that every fundraiser, for the players and those supported by players, all go to financial support the RMH. Rog agreed (as did the others) and so far, the team has raised over $20K for the organization that helps children with all sorts of diseases.

One way this large number was achieved by 15 or so players was that each one sough opportunities for matching dollars. In lay terms, it means if I contribute 1 dollar, I have an entity that will also contribute 1 dollar. Many large corporations do this for employees, but very few small or mid size firms. It is encouraging when an organization of 150 people or so offers a matching program.

Just this last week, my husband and I attended a function for a group have worked with for years. This consulting firm is doing extremely well in this down economy, finding it is filling a niche on the technology and personnel side for larger firms that have been forced to downside. Prior to the event, we received an invitation to donate to our “non-profit of choice” up to the amount of $250.00 US, that the entity, Cascade Consulting, would match. We wrote a check for $250, and thanks to the generosity of Cascade, that donation was $500. Love that.

If you are a part of an entity looking for money, consider your strategy for improving your chances of being the lucky recipient of a donation check. Web site and newsletter are givens while using your alumni to extend their reach for “full-year fundraiser drive” is a sound approach. I’m going to be employing all three for the non-profit where I sit on the board and also work with the alumn fundraising. You can bet that inviting the alumn to join in the drive is going to be on my to-do list for 2012.

Natural cure for Gout

Let’s face it. We, the people, have our freedom to vote, wear what we want and generally speaking, do and eat to our hearts desire. This latter fact can be seen even in countries that haven’t allowed capitalism and free speech to run amuck. The ever-thin Chinese are becoming heaftier, our neighbors to the south are also feeling the pinch belts that are tightening not so much from lack of economic growth (have you seen the recent numbers that Brazil has been posting?!) but from the waistline expanding beyond the last hole in the belt.

Gout in the foot

All this goodness has led to some serious badness. In my immediate circle of friends, two men suffer from Gout, a disguting, vile affliction that is by most counts, highly curable. Despite what the medical journals say, the doctors have told both men the same thing. First, they have been eating too much overall, and waayyy too much red meat for years. The second is that the added weight they are carrying around (between 50-100 pounds) has contributed to lack of movement thereby dramatically reducing the ability of the body to circulate blood. It’s not just the doctors who say this, but plenty of others.

Gout in the fingers

Crud flows downhill, and it all ends at the feet. Both developed, and have had gout now, for going on seven years. The women in their lives are appalled as you can imagine, not just for the horrid notion of having the toes touch them during the horizontal-mambo, but the reality Gout can be cured naturally. The short is that black cherry supplements are recommend and have been proven to work, although the healthcare provider quoted in this article prefers drinking the stuff. It’s not too bad either. I don’t have gout myself (thank heavens) but I’ve always just liked the tasted of black cherry.

Gout in the foot

Sorry to say, neither man has gone the natural route. Both have been taking pills for so many years that each have now developed intestinal problems, side effects of the powerful anti-gout drugs. The singular upside of the stomach pains (and ulcers) is that both have lost weight. It actually hurts them to eat. Not good. Yet the gout remains, nicely thriving underneath their expensive leather loafers.

I liked this Gout diet planner site. When I was with my friend who is the managing editor of four local papers, she was talking about a recent article a reporter had completed on the topic. “It’s one thing that keeps me from eating all that protien,” she said as she eyed the ribeye passing us by.

If you want more motivation to pass up the meat, check out these pictures. Gerrooss. I’ll be having the salad.

Woman on the Errands of Angels

I’ve been writing a bit about visiting women…something I do as a part of our work in my church. Sort of the monthly outreach that says–how are you, do you need anything, what can we help you with etc. This is not unlike the many charities that pay visits to families or individuals in need. I have another woman that accompanies me, and we take turns bringing food or a special thought.

We’ve recently been seeing a woman who, up until a year ago, had what she thought was a perfect life. A husband with a great job at a technology company, five wonderful children who have lived a trouble-free, good great and athletically-gifted lives. She herself was also aesthetically blessed. Tall. Thin. Naturally blond (seriously) and a very sweet disposition. Then her world came crashing down. The husband wanted something different, including a new home sans family, two new cars (one BMW wasn’t enough) and freedom. She handled it with grace, the underpinning value necessary when dealing with going back to college, getting a job and children going in to crisis.

During our conversation, she raised a new subject– him bringing “friends” on activities with their children. They’d discussed this, agreed that it was not going to happen until “it was serious.” That was a week ago and he’s changed his mind. As she struggled to deal with this new development (she admits she’s lagging behind him on the relationship front and is months away from even considering a date), she relied upon friends at her gym, her church and even the two of us who see her far less regularly.

As the conversation turned to the value of friends, those of the same sex and sometimes the opposite, she shared her experience of the value of a positive attitude. “The women at the gym tell me to push one more rep or stay for an extra class” she explained, thankful that they employed positive energy as opposed to bashing on her former husband. Others in her circle have also used optimism as they have provided suggestions to her recent situation. “One told me that it’s possible to deal with his actions but set your boundaries.” One of which was to acknowledge that part well before “it’s serious” the former spouse must actually have his children spend time with a future mate. For “how else will they get to know one another?” It was a valid point, she said, and decided to set a boundary for bringing “friends” along, one that did NOT include their former residence where she still resides.

We were wrapping up the conversation and she thanked us for coming over and all how she valued our time together. Then said something that struck me. “I truly feel that women do the errands of angels, watching over one another, helping one another and always being a presence, even when silently.”

As I drove away and sit here typing, I think many conduct their lives and serve one another as though they are truly on the errand of an angel. Her gratitude certainly made me want to find those wings and use them as often as possible.

Plate returning etiquette: what Ms Manners left out

Mom is divine. Taught me the essentials of good manners, from placing the napkin on my left leg post-haste upon sitting down, what type of stemware to use for all occassions (red stemware for Christmas and fashionable holidays, clear (white) lead stemware for standard Sunday dinners) and only use public toilets in cases of emergencies–and only if death is going to erupt from one’s backside (even then, be sure to use the towletts provided). That said, Mom missed one critical item that has caused more than a few hurt feelings.

Villeroy and Boch Toy Christmas

Plate returning.

What..? you may ask, mystified and thinking of all the topics to cover during this time of giving, why this topic, why now? It’s because if you are on the receiving end of a plate, that means the plate itself if full of something: cookies, gumdrops, brownies, shortbread, Russian Tea cakes, crinkle treats. All the wonderful food provided by those of us to whom food is our love language.

This begets the question…what to do with the plate?

“Return it of course,” is what my mother told me years ago. If it’s an actual bonified plate (not paper or plastic, those aren’t ‘real’ in my mother’s mind, then it gets returned. So of course, what do I do but return it.

“What’s this?” my neighbor asked when I gave it back. I thought it was obvious, but just in case she was momentarily blinded by the cleanliness, I reminded it was hers. “Oh,” she said, a strange look on her face that confused me, but I figured she didn’t know how to get the expression of gratitude out in a way that matche her emotion. A few months later, I gave her a plate of red velvet cupcakes on a nice plate and walla, two weeks later, it came back to me. The difference? It was full of food, not empty.

Hmm. Something was a foot at the Circle K (name the movie). I pondered this phenomena as I prepared a batch of X for a friend.  Yet this time around, I used one of my special New Year’s Eve plates, white china with gold embossed New Year’s Wishes around the edges. I’d show you one but it’s gone. Never got returned. Last night as I rummaged through my many plates, I realized I had several odd-looking plates I’d never buy myself, and yet have more than a few missing. Those are the ones I’d used for gifts.

This, then, is the topic of the blog. What is the appropriate etiquette for receiving food on a plate. Since I was out with girlfriends this morning, I took a poll.

1. Depends on the culture. No kidding. But in America, I say..what culture? We are a melting pot, and it is much likelier to be personality and social strata dependent.
2. “You give it back with a plate of food of course,” said a gal who avoids bra’s like she does processed sugar. “And you want to do it within 2 weeks.” (clearly, she and my neighbor are buds).
3. “You accept the plate as the gift that goes along with it.” Now she was talking my language. I have gone to great lengths to purchase a wonderful plate that matches the personality of the individual. The food is like icing on the cake–a bonus, but not the best part.
4. “You are all wrong. Never, ever, use a real plate. Give it on paper or plastic and then no one has to be worried about keeping or giving it back. Eat the food and be done with it!” This woman, a pragmatic nurse of Asian origin received looks of shock when she spoke such blasphemy. (Though I’m not sure it was because she didn’t give the advice with the caveat of using brown, recyclable plates or the mere notion of using a P or P).

Winter Toile Platter

What about asking? was my thought. When all in the world is confusing and grey, ask a question. That’s what I did later this morning, as I was out with a friend visiting an elderly woman and given a plate of sugar cookies. The plate itself was a small salad plate with Santa’s and his elvish helpers around the rim. It was exactly the sort of plate she might want back, or the kind that I’d pass on to someone else. Taking the direct approach, I asked my friend who awarded me a shocked look.

“Of course it’s yours!” she said, shaking her head. Better to ask than not, I figured, thanking her profusely, telling her I can return it laden with food. She told me not to do that, but I could see that she wasn’t entirely opposed to the idea. After all, good manners says that no one can turn away handmade treats.

The 5 o’clock Friend

Two weeks ago, during a pre-holiday lunch with a girlfriend, she told me about getting motivated, and “reaching her dream.”

being a 5 o’clock friend is a
good thing

“I’ve listened to you and watched your story, but I just couldn’t get going,” she lamented. This coming from a reporter with more awards than she could fit on a five-shelf bookcase and sidewall.

“What are you talking about?” I responded. “You live and breath on deadlines,” which she admitted was true enough. The difference she told me, was ‘getting paid.’

“I know it’s ridiculous, but my dreams aren’t as important as getting a paycheck.” She was half-done with a picture book that’s been on her mind for years. I’ve already talked to Lucas about and he loved the idea. What could be more important than that? (I’d have stopped sleeping to finish my project had a big-time producer given me such feedback).

In the moment, I gave her my usual pep talk, the one I share with anyone who starts the “I’ve always want to…” statement. Just do it. Start. It takes a lot of missed free-throws before one gets to the NBA finals, or even the college ball level. She nodded her head, listened and soon enough, our time was over.

Two weeks later, this last Friday, we meet again. Feasting on a lemon mousse cake, she happily told me she’d completed her book. I smiled, preparing to gloat over my little pep talk as I asked what happened.

“My friend kicked me in the butt.” My level of glee increased and sped up like a rollercoaster going up the hill, then declined just as fast when she continued talking. “I was relating my saga and he just got tired of it and said ‘you need a deadline.’ He didn’t give her time to think, he just told her the deadline. “Five o’clock, Friday night. Get me your manuscript.” No squishy, you-can-do-it-meaningless-mantras. A date. A time. A deadline.

“I blinked and said ok,” she said, as though being issued the order put her on the gerbil-esque treadmill. “Just knowing he was expecting made me not want to fail. How lame would that be?”

As of this writing, she’s one edit round shy of sending it off to my editor, the same one that hooked me up with my agent(s). I’m thrilled for her. My only regret is that I wasn’t the one smart enough to suggest the deadline.

My Monday morning advice? Be around at 5 pm. Your friends will thank you.

Party etiquette for ‘the other person’

“Do you like parties?” my friend-slash-watcher-o-my-daughter asked as I was five steps from the door last Thursday. I gave her a lopsided smile.

“It’s a love-hate thing for me,” I told her. The love part is getting a dress (or in my case, finding one I bought two years ago while pregnant, knowing it was elegant and at some point in the distant future, it would fit), applying make-up three times darker than I normally wear and eating great food. The hate part is that…get ready….I’m sort of anti-social. It doesn’t help that Rog is as well (shocker, I know). It’s not that I don’t like people–I do. I LOVE people. It’s just flitting to one group of strangers to another isn’t my favorite. I prefer sitting at a table or 1×1 and having a real conversation. Speed-getting-to-know-you thing.

My friend rolls her eyes, but gets it. “You should see my sister,” she starts and I know some excellent advise is forthcoming. My friend’s sis is the wife of an executive who had the good fortune to start with Coinstar when it was small, and reap the benefits of the firms’ growth. He’s not in the top five, but the upper eschelon (I think a vp) and thus, she “duly fulfills her roles.”

What?! That sounded like a serf in the English-days of old.

“No, no,” said friend backtracked, defending her sister. “What I mean is she gets on line, researches all the names of the people attending the party–you know, she does her homework.” No. I didn’t know. Furthermore, the very notion was straight out of the first ten pages of The Firm. It never occurred to me to invoke my library research skills for pre-party.

My friend shook her head at my undiluted denseness. “You should try some of these things. You’d have a lot better time at the party.” When I balked, she hit me with this. “You are your husbands best asset. You need to be the asset.” Asset?

At that point, the research-writer in me kicks in and I can’t help myself. I must find out how to properly be an asset. I then learn the secrets of success to be the ‘Asset.’

  1. Dress appropriate to status. It’s party 101 to understand the dress code, and I thought this was enough. Dressing to status means….it’s bad form for the wife/husband/partner of an executive to show up in a too-revealing/tight/tacky outfit. According to a few sources I found on line (and speaking with a number of women at the event that very night), it’s more appropriate for the wife of a partner to wear an elegant slacks outfit than to show too much leg. This sounds a bit old-fashioned, but I’m telling you this: the executives of small and large companies alike check out the partners of their execs and make note. Anyone that tells you otherwise is politely lying.
  2. Know the names, roles and essential functions/contributions of other department heads. Most orgs have Management sections on the web site so you can see faces along with backgrounds. My friend’s sister actually makes note cards pre-party, memorizes essentials (college/sports etc), but also family details 1-3 details per person, 5-10 person max. Apparently, she enjoys this a great deal. Furthermore, her target is invariably flattered that she, a stranger, knows details. I would only augment this by suggesting Google searches on a name, because articles including a person often come up that aren’t in a management bio.
  3. Business conversation starters. This woman has several books on how to start a conversation for any occasion. You can’t use the standard “if you could do something different, what would it be” or “if you were God for a day, what would you do?” Those are interesting but could put someone on the spot. I went through .Conversation Starters for any Occassion and did a randon search. I liked “If you could write a book about your life, what would it be called?” or “if you could bring one person back from the dead, who would it be?” Of course, you have to meld these questions in with each person…..so here’s the trick. Said sister of friend lines up at least 1 question she really wants to have answered for each person on her hot list.

I could go on, but you get the jist. And might I say…doesn’t this sound like a heckuva lot of work for your spouse? With your own life, career, family and obligations, is this fun or is this yet another burden of being married?

“She loves it!” my friend told me when I uttered the words. “It has a direct impact on their salary, his bonus, his promotions.” She then went on to tell me her comment about ‘the asset’ wasn’t some subservient phrase. It’s much more–human in nature. “When she comes off as smart, intelligent and engaging, it makes him look smarter and more intelligent.” The underlying message is that people are attracted to like people. I get it.

We split then, attended the party and came home. The food was great, the atmosphere fine. Thankfully, I dressed appropriately (in truth, my outfit was a bit more conservative than normal, but that was OK. I put on more makeup than normal so it balanced out). I will say though–I had n.o.t.h.i.n.g. to say in regards to the other execs/managers abt their contribution, role, departments etc., and had to fall back on things like “I’m detecting an accent,” which opened up converations about home (Canada), legacy (homesteading a large swath of land), sports (hockey playing since 4), love of speed (skating and cars go hand in hand). In the end, I was talking to an exec that ended up winning a major award for contribution of the year. Perhaps the conversation could have gone a bit better, but not much. In the end, geniune interest, eye contact and thoughtful comments are good manners that are appreciated in any setting.

Perfect Skin Secrets – Products & steps

Over the holiday, yet another layer of my rose-colored classes were scratched. I recently learned that many of the women in my circle have been using products for years, and I had no clue.

Sorry to do this-but you had to see the
skin results–no injections etc etc. a’course,
I’ve since gone back to blond, but the skin
remains the same…43 yrs old

 “No one reveals beauty secrets,” I was told by a female relative as she listened to my story, her voice including a bit of humor for my denseness. When I left San Fran for the netherlands of civilization, I didn’t have a need to apply facial products. Now that I’m older and have gotten a clue, that has all changed. A good moisturizer no longer suffices. From the articles on what men do for their faces, they’ve figured it out as well. Products help, especially those that get rid of the top layers of dead skin. Like every other non-sacred topic in my life, figure I might as well share what I’ve learned about facial products. Heck, I share everything else, so why hold back on the most important–or rather–most visible line of learning I’ve had??

Like other women, I paid a Dr a visit, got a slew of products, handed over my credit card, closed my eyes and followed this regimine precisely.

1.       Neova Herbal Wash, 8 oz. $24 w/out tax
2.       Neova Smooth Gel, (Glycolic 10%), 2 oz, $26.00
3.       Neova Complex HXplus, (Hydroquinone, 4%) Rx only, 2 oz $65.70 (includes tax)- this is the skin lightener for spots (the prescription version above can’t be had except from the Dr. This lower version is available on line).
4.       Neocutis Bio Crème, Bio restorative with PSP, Anti-aging. $109.00
5.       Neova TI-SILC GT SPF 60, 4 oz, $43.00
6.       Neova Retinol ME .30%, 1 fl oz, $49.00 (this is prescription only and I couldn’t find it on line)
7.       Vivite Replenishing Cream, 2 oz $79.00

For the 6 week regime, the routine was different than the one I am now on. During the 6 wk period, where I had dramatic results, I didn’t use the night cream (#7) nor did I use the Bio Crème at night (#4). The whole point of the intensive regime is to dramatically tighten and lift the skin, which it did. I noticed a huge difference after just 2 days. That’s because of the twice a day application of the smooth gel, and then retinol every 2nd evening. For my face now, I am on a maintenance program, and it’s a bit more laid back, and includes the moisturizer.

Here’s the starter program.

1.       Herbal wash (w/luke warm water), pat dry face
2.       Apply glycolic smoothing gel and leave on for 3 minutes
3.       Rinse off w/herbal wash. Apply the #3, skin lightener (if you have dark spots). Leave on.
4.       Apply #4 (restorative crème) then #5 (SPF 60).
5.       Put on make-up as desired.

For the evening:
1.       Herbal wash (w/luke warm water), pat dry face
2.       Apply glycolic smoothing gel and leave on for 3 minutes
3.       Rinse off with herbal wash.
4.       Apply retinol (avoiding the corner of the eyes and the corner of the mouth. It will burn and make wrinkles worse. Also, not on eyelids). Leave on overnight. Remember to rinse off first thing in the morning, as the skin will be ruined if the sun hits the skin and you have it on (burned red permanently).

When you are done w/the 6 wk routine, you modify by:
1.       Cutting back on the retinol to once a week (Saturday is best, since it leaves the skin a bit reddish). And replace with:
2.       #4 restorative lotion followed by
3.       Vivite night cream.

A few tips:

1.       when you use the smoothing gel, you also can put on the eyelids and around the eyes. It’s makes a huge difference.

2.       Go all the way down to mid-neck. If you limit it to just the jawline, it looks freaky. A smoother transition to the neckline is natural.

Perfect gift for the outdoor enthusiast

Bad wk thus far, been sick. Husband tried to help me out by giving me early Christmas presents. Didn’t help, but I was roused from my deathbed long enough to pen this blog so everyone else can benefit from his largess.

First off, put my workout spreadsheet in Dropbox at long last. My post on getting a killer body thanks to to Mr-3rd-place-runner-up-Universe is now in your hands. Open it in MS Excel, modify to your hearts desire and get going. The seams on your little black dress will thank you (or cumberbun for my male readers).

Now on to three amazing gifts for the outdoorsman or woman. The credit for all three go to my great husband, who went gadget shopping and then couldn’t help himself. He had me open 2 already (it’s Dec 8th) and the third I found on top of a stack of cookbooks. (His subconscious hard at work).

1. Goalzero Rockout Speakers. So cool. Now the backstory. I have 4 sets of portable speakers or miniature speakers, all that integrate, plug in to or otherwise help the person who loves music. Two are Sony brand (and the other 2 I can’t recall). Regardless, none are shock or waterproof/resistent, nor are they cool looking. The Rockout Speaker is housed in a soft black case with cool green piping, a wrist handle for carrying (or putting on a belt) and unzips to reveal the plugins for my iphone or my other PC compatible MP3 device (I have both for different reasons, don’t get me started on the whole Apple proprietary music thing. I was not about to leave 5,000 records that’d I’d digitized on the shelf, collecting dust).

2. Goal Zero solar panel recharger kit. So amazing Rog bought one for himself and two business associates. Can charge up your phone in an hour. I think between the music system and the recharger, we can be dancing with the bears in the woods (or become a hermit and retire naked in the woods-name the movie!)

3. ifly indoor skydiving. 2 envelopes were placed on a stack of cookbooks and Rog said “I was going to ask if you wanted to do this before I gave it to you.” Ask, I responded? Does a woman want new purse? A man a new hee-haw truck? A Californian a sunny day? A Russian good caviar? Pulleeeese. Why I love this gift:
a) I get to drop from high elevations in the wind
b) the artificial wind velocity is just like the real thing
c) the replicated feeling of freefall from thousands of miles up is superiod.

All this without danger of actually have a parachute refusing to open. They also have videos. I’m definitely getting this for a few folks next year!

ifly has centers in Seattle, California and elsewhere. Wahhuuu! Gp be Santa for the outdoor-adrenline-enthusiast. (and they note participants are ages “3-103”. So comforting).

A man’s secret pleasure

Isn’t that a dandy title? It came to me as I was driving home last night, all by my lonesome, after switching cars w/my husband, who offered to fill my car w/gas and keep the two girls. It was cold. It was dark. The radio stations weren’t coming in so good. As I’m switching stations, a man singing a quasi alternative-meets-country (not my favorite on either score) and before I can hit the button w/my thumb, the following lyrics capture my attention:

If I wanted someone to clean up after me, I’d hire a maid
If I wanted someone to spend my money, I wouldn’t get paid
If I wanted s (couldn’t make out these words–scratchy station)
All I want is a woman to make it easy

Now, doesn’t that just say it all. How many times has Rog (and previous men before he) told me that message using different terms. As I continued listening to the song. the refrain was modified slightly, and make it easy turned to made it easy. Because truly, isn’t that the promise of every relationship…that the one you are with won’t make life more difficult, but easier?

Of course, I could bore myself and you with the layers of relationship stuff that might accomplish this, but I’m a simple person with simple needs. I must have simple instructions. Thus, I reflected upon the times where I’ve made it ‘easy’ for my partner. (Perish the thought I’d ever make it difficult).

  1. Verbalize appreciation. Thinking is not enough. And no item can be too small. (as in, thanking him for things I take for granted–taking out the garbage, making the bed, changing the lights…you know, the teeny, micro items that I went gaga over when we dated)
  2. Don’t hound. Just do. This is hard for me. After picking up the umpteenth dirty item from the floor, you’d think…. But no. I just do. As in, pick up, put away, carry downstairs, return etc. Hounding don’t win no points (for my readers in Slovania, that’s bad grammar. Never repeat that outloud).
  3. Smile. Hard to do. Dog barking, cat puked on the floor. Or not even that. Just a long day. I recently read a book of fiction where the most lovable character smiles at people. It’s a reward in a sense, a visual that says “I like you” or even “I love you.” No wonder babies respond to a smile with a smile and a frown with crying. I guess we are all babies inside.
  4. Unsolicited hair/scalp and shoulder rubbing. What is is it with guys? This is a beloved act that I’ve been told (by more than one man) it’s the lone reason they go to get their haircuts. They’d pay good money (at least $25 bucks) to have their scalp massaged. But beware, it can cause death. A 41 year old man was in chair, getting his hair done–wshed + scalp massage, and the poor guy was so happy, he fell asleep. Unfortunately, neck sort-of crinked and boom. “Game over” (so said the dude in Alien’s 2). Give an unsolicated massage of love, but beware the falling asleep part.
  5. Offer…. Anything. I suppose it’s easier for me to offer to give service to a charity or make dinner for a shelter than offer to do something for my soulmate. I mean…He’s strong, in shape, moderately young (42 is young to me), capable. Why should I offer to do anything (other than…hey, I’m going to be at the store, need anything? And lest you think I’m a shrew, after 14 yrs w/something, you kind of get in a routine of who does what).

Well, just today, after hearing this song, when he offered to take the kids to breakfast so I could write (and I’m writing this blog vs my novel, bad me!), I offered make a fire (it’s freezing outside). Of course he said no, and said he’d do it when he returned. Of course, since I know better, I’m not going to take him up on that, no hound him. I’m just going to do🙂

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