Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

May the New Year bring new joy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year

2009: A year I don't want to repeat.
I'm glad for what the year brought. Closer to my Master's degree. January 17th my divorce will be final. Numerous changes at work, changes in healthcare, changes in my household. No way do I want to repeat this year.

I'm grateful for what Tom brought to my life at the time. I felt desired, sexy, and had a lot of fulfilling times. I'm disappointed that so much of that has been discarded, but it's not my call. I surely don't want to repeat that again. Not only does the whole ending not represent how I choose to treat people, but I learned a very hard lesson. I'm still learning the lesson bit by bit, and it's not been a fun one to learn. I may be an old dog, but I can still learn.

I'm so grateful for my kids. Both are extraordinary in their own way. Jon in his seriousness, in his wry humor, and his daily gratitude. He says thank you and really means it and its a delight to hear it, because I know he really means it. I've driven him to school on rainy days, having been woken up far too early from a warm bed, and he'll tell me thanks before we are even out the door. He knows what I'm giving him on a daily basis. What's even more astonishing is that I'd continue to give him my motherly love and support without the thanks, but his words make it all that much more rewarding.

Ben is a totally different boy. They have different body types. Where Jon is lean and muscular, Ben is built like a linebacker. He's two and a half years younger, but is the same height and outweighs his brother by 30#. I worry that Ben has a tendancy to the stocky side, and he's a very picky eater, but boy does he have a good attitude! Ben finds humor in almost anything. He is wise beyond his years, and he is such a flatterer. He also knows the benefit of a good hug. I love his wit and his way with words. He's my charmer and I fully expect him to make me a grandmother within the next 12 years.

The love a mom has for her kids is amazingly powerful and pure. I don't want anything from them. Well, maybe a homemade card for mother's day would be nice, and help with the household chores, but I don't expect anything else from them. I love them totally and without limit. I often tell Ben that I love him higher than the sky and deeper than the ocean, for there are no bounds to the love I have for me kids.

I also know I have to make them do things that aren't fun in order to become decent adults. They must share in chores. They must participate in the household. They must work hard at school. They must be honest with their parents, wash daily, and brush their teeth before bed. I cannot say how much I hate parents that make their kids the center of their world and let the kids control the family. Makes me think of what wimps the parents are and what a horrid childhood the kid will have. No one wants a boss at work who acts like a 5 year old, so why would someone want a home-boss who provides all that a 5 yr old has to offer? Grow a backbone!

I'm looking forward to 2010. It is a year full of promise.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I meant to write this yesterday, on the solstice, but I was simply too busy. What is it about life, where it's either feast or famine.

I love this time of year. The end of the shortening days and the beginning of the lengthened days. Spring is just around the corner. From the day the clocks fall back to this day, when the days become longer, is my least favorite time of year. Thankfully, the sunsets are generally marvelous in the autumn, which helps to make it bearable, but I really can't begin to say how horrid it feels to go to work when the sun is low in the sky and the night seems to go on forever.

Oh, and dad is here. He's a true European. He's been here for two weeks and he's taken just one shower. He doesn't stink, really, he just doesn't smell good. Much as I love him, I'm looking forward to his week down south with my other siblings.

To the Solstice.. to the march of time.. to March and Spring!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I went to a Kairos Choral event last week. The theme was about angels. One part of the production, the kids passed out baskets that hand "angel words" on them. The word was to be your theme for the day. Mine was *acceptance*. Yes, I do need to work on that. Some things, though, I just don't want to accept. I want to know that friendships actually mean something, that people aren't disposable, that good deeds will eventually bring their own rewards.

I do accept that people move on, that not everyone's thoughts will mesh at all times, but I prefer to maintain the hope and expectation that people can talk to each other to gain understanding and that not much is solved by silence.

Do I choose to accept no healthcare for all? Do I choose to accept that people are still going to war? Do I choose to accept the things that shouldn't be accepted? No, I choose to change what I can, bit by bit. As they say, even water will eventually wear away stone.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The waiting game

Hospitals, these days, try. When a loved one is having a procedure done, there is now an electronic patient tracking board, which lets the people waiting know just where the patient is at all times. The board is limited to display 25 patients, in alphabetical order. Unfortunately, there are about 30 patients that need to be listed, and, of course, my family name is at the end of the alphabet.

I've been waiting patiently. I went to my local cafe to have some toast and a coffee while I waited. I was told the procedure would take less than 30 min. I arrived at the cafe before 11 am, and left at 12:15. No call. No ability to see where Mom is on the electronic board. I had to wait to ask for assistance. Please, can you just scroll down on the e-board, so I can see if my mom's procedure is completed?

They can't just tell me, they need to call PACU. They tell me it will be at least 30 minutes before she's taken to the surgery day center. I hate waiting. I was going to take a new photo today with the webcam, as the lighting in the waiting area is very nice. I'm sitting by a window, with filtered light from the plantings outside. I look like a wreck. As if I didn't sleep. No shit.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I've always had the ability to see patterns when my eyes are closed. If I shut my eyes, I get a little light show. The patterns vary. Sometimes I see swirling colors, sometimes it's geometric shapes. It is never very clearly focused, but it is always somewhat entertaining. I've been told that this is rather unusual, as most people don't "see" things when their eyes are closed. This morning I had a new phenomenon; I saw textures. It was as if I were looking at a lizard skin up close, seeing tiny scales, with color. Today it was yellow. I've never understood what causes these images, but they are cool to watch when I can't sleep.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


I've been thinking a lot about what a friend is and what it means to be a friend.  To me a friend is someone you share your life with; your joys and sorrows, your doubts and revelations.  A friend is someone who cheers you on and who receives your own cheers when the friend needs support.  A friend is someone who knows all the nitty-gritty about a person and doesn't judge.  A friend speaks the truth to you and isn't afraid for the repercussions because a real friend knows that the friendship will remain intact through the truth.

Friends don't ignore each other.  Friends stay in contact, though periods of quiet can happen, too.  Friends make each other feel better when they are together, not worse.  It's a give-and-take relationship, sometimes one gives much more than the other, but eventually the roles get reversed.  Friendships, generally, are for life.

I'm still trying to figure out who my friends are. I'm also surprised by who some are turning out to be.

I like Wikipedia's definition very much:
Friendship is the cooperative and supportive relationship between two or more people. In this sense, the term connotes a relationship which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, affection, and respect along with a degree of rendering service to friends in times of need or crisis. Friends will welcome each other's company and exhibit loyalty towards each other, often to the point of altruism. Their tastes will usually be similar and may converge, and they will share enjoyable activities. They will also engage in mutually helping behavior, such as the exchange of advice and the sharing of hardship. A friend is someone who may often demonstrate reciprocating and reflective behaviors. Yet for some, the practical execution of friendship is little more than the trust that someone will not harm them.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I could do the standard list of this for which I am thankful: my health, my good fortune to have been born in SF, my education, my two delightful sons, my job, my parents, etc.  Of course, I am thankful for that.
I'm now also thankful that T is being such an un-friend that leaving him behind is easier.  He barely holds a conversation with me, he leaves questions asked unanswered, he says he will do things and doesn't (like the yogurt container tops and the 13 mirrors scan), he leaves conversations mid-stream and logs off without saying a good night.  Formerly when asked about giving *hugs*, he responded with, "it's just a hug" and yet I haven't gotten one in a month.  What the heck happened?  I'm noticing that he's not even a friend anymore.  A friend would say that he's happy my son did well.  A friend would want to see my new glasses.  A friend would bother to say g'night.  A friend would say Good job! when seeing how my jeans fit now.  A friend would return my stuff to me, like my DVD and bathrobe.  If you think its possible to be friends, T, then act like one.

1 pm update: Well, nice surprise. T called and we had a nice conversation.  I'm pleased, as the things that I liked about him are still there and I would enjoy him as a friend.

Also: got our contractor contract! I need to read it and sign, but *finally* progress!!
And!! I got a great comment on my final project in the last class. The instructor even said "wow!". I was very honored.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Proud momma and other things

From NCS

My son. I'm so proud of him. He's shaved off 30 seconds from his mile time to run his personal best at the NCS last Saturday.

I also feel better. I know what I'm thinking and feeling. I'm not sure I want to share it. It's not all good thoughts and butterflies. I'm just glad I feel better.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I miss my friend

It's been almost 4 weeks now. I used to play games in the evening and have some relaxing times with my friend. I'd get a good night message from time to time and comments about things that I bounced off my friend. Now all I hear is a dull thud when my messages don't get answered.  We've played ONCE in the 3 and a half weeks.  Yeah, I miss him as a lover, but I also miss him as a friend. Sad thing is, I don't think he misses me at all.  Or I don't think he realizes how different things are on this end. Does that make the last 3 years of our friendship worthless if he doesn't realize how much its changed?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

stages of loss: anger

I'm finally at this stage.  I keep hearing from T, "I never wanted a long-distance relationship."  My answer is, you may not have wanted one, but you DID have one.  I still can't understand why, when I told you on more than one occasion that I loved you, that you didn't tell me you had other thoughts and feelings WHEN YOU COULD HAVE DONE IT IN PERSON.  I think you are taking an easy way out by using the excuse that you never wanted the long-distance thing. I had believed in the old saying, "Actions speak louder than words."

I also think that you wore blinders if you didn't see that I was generous with you;  more so than would be expected of just a friend.  You saw how long it takes to make a quilt. I worked several days in front of you, cutting and sewing and ironing and yet the quilt was not still done. You have two of them. How could you not see that making something for you was a gift of love?  Port club; also a gift of love. Yes, I cancelled that, so no more shipments will be coming to you. I cringe to think that I may have been supplying the beverage you and your new date are drinking.  A washer? Why would "just a friend" give that to you?  Sewing machine? Couldn't you see that maybe I thought I'd be there again and again, and I'd want to sew. Scrubbing the deck... I have been kicking myself for not seeing that you just weren't that in to me, but then I realize you didn't bother to see just how much I was in to you, and you did nothing to stop it.  You called yourself my boyfriend. I didn't put those words in your mouth. You used them freely.

Yes, I am pissed off that you didn't have the where-with-all to handle the non-relationship with more understanding, and the cold indifference you seem to have now.  Sure, you are a bit sad to give up what you had with me, but only because you didn't have "it." I beg to differ. You had it, but it just wasn't convenient for you anymore.  I realize that I may be nailing the coffin by writing this here, but I also know that you deserve to see yourself the way I perceive things. I also don't think you read the blog anyway.  No one does.  People are not to be used and then disgarded. People, other than you, have feelings worthy of recognition.  I have real feeings for you. It is called Love. It's very sad that you never recognized that.  You know what? I still do.  It sucks.

I've also decided that it's really not in me to sustain anger and hurt.  I'm pulling through this unexpected situation, and I wan tto do it with grace and dignity.  Bitching and moaning won't get me there. I think I do it because I've tried numerous times to have this discussion with T, but it never seems to get off the ground. I can only bang my head so much before I realize that it only hurts more to do that.

On a positive note, I bought some art today. I'm going to hang it when my part of my home becomes mine alone. I'll put up photos soon.  In the meantime, check out , as what I bought is from this collection.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I've always loved a good quote.  Of course, this one has to pop into my head:
Mark Twain "Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth."

Last part of this post was deleted by me.  Having written it, I felt badly. I'm better than what I wrote, thus, it's gone.

Now I know why people drink

I am so totally devastated. I haven't felt this bad in decades. I'm still not sleeping. When I finally fell back asleep a few hours later, and then I dreamed.

In my dream I was at the beach, and I was walking with T and we were kissing. I wake up and I'm back to square one. I WANT MY LIFE BACK! I want to stop thinking of him. I want to stop dreaming of him. I want to sleep. I want to eat because I want to, not because I'm feeling faint at the gym. I want to stop crying. I want to have fun again. I want to enjoy playing a computer game. I want to sew because I like it.

I don't want to feel destroyed and devastated any more.  Wanting something and having it are two different things and most things I can figure out how to get.  I surely don't know how to do this. I only know how to get through one hour, one day. Step by step. One foot in front of the other.

I need to pack up his quilt and put it away. I don't feel like making it any more. I don't want to give him something he and his new date will sleep under and fuck on. Consider me selfish. I might feel differently if other gifts had been appreciated. I feel like an old grandmother with her grandchildren, "if they don't send thank you notes, they didn't appreciate the gift, so no more gifts!" I hate feeling like this, but its how it is, so there ya go. :(

Friday, November 13, 2009

Knowing it's the end

I've finally had it sink in.  Several things recently happened that demonstrates this to me.  The first was a very heart-felt email that was never answered.  The second was not receiving any sympathy for a hand injury I had.  The third was when I wasn't even asked about my daily message, which stated I had hurt my ankle the night before and hoped I could walk in the am.  No mention of this the next day when we chatted.

There are several things that get to me.  One is to be ignored.  The other is to feel unimportant.  He's done well to do both.  Thanks, T.  By being an ass, you've finally shown me, unequivically, that I don't matter to you.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

All I need to know I learned in Kindergarten

I remember reading this book ages ago.  I really enjoyed the premise back then, and I still enjoy it now.  The author's premise is that what is taught in kindergarten really are just the things we need to continue to do as we get older.  We need to say "please" and "thank you." Personally, I think this simple point has been all too long forgotten.  We need to wash our hands after using the toilet.  We need to get enough sleep, eat a snack mid day, and make sure to not only work hard, but to play hard, too.

I got into an epic fight with a friend of mine a few days ago. Or I should say, yet another fight. This friend is unstable so I tend to give him a bit more slack than other friends.  I've lent this friend a significant amount of money and I've also sent him needed goods in order for him to have gainful employment (such as waterproof pants and jacket, panniers, tires and liners for his bike). I've even purchased his groceries a few times when he was very down on his luck.  Okay, fine. I have received a thank you for this. A verbal one. I've yet to receive one cent of the loan back, and I honestly don't expect to, but I haven't forgotten it, either.  So the fight: this friend begins to tell me of his favorite gift to get friends and how his friends just love his gifts.  He's told me of other things he's gotten for his friends, too. T-shirts and other small items.  This is also a friend who DEMANDS attention on his birthday and is mortally hurt if his birthday is overlooked or forgotten, but who has done nothing for my own birthday.  During the conversation, I ask this friend if he considers me a friend. "Oh yes, a very, very good friend!" was his answer.  I'm wondering to myself if I should be bothered that he's telling me about these gifts he's gotten other friends, but that he's never bothered to get me a gift. Oh, wait, let me correct that. After another "birthday fight" where he chewed me out for ignoring his birthday and I came back with "why should I bother, you never do anything for my birthday? I might consider doing something if I got the same consideration back" he got me a gift certificate to REI which I used towards buying a new bike helmet.

     Long story made shorter: I got pissed that he was telling me about all these gifts he got for his friends when he's done nothing for me but give me headaches.  This reminded me of the kindergarten learning of if you invite someone to your birthday party, you have to invite the whole class.  Don't tell me what a wonderful gift giver you are if I've never been the recipient of one of your gifts. It's rude and hurts people's feelings.  If I give a person a gift, I expect a thank you. I expect a spontaneous thank you and perhaps, if the gift was especially nice, I'd appreciate hearing how much you have enjoyed it over the years.  This request is nothing out of the ordinary. It's what we all learned in kindergarten, just some of us need to return to class for a refresher once in a while.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

when will this torture end?

My mind and my soul are in direct competition with each other. As I've mentioned previously, my mind comprehends certain issues which my soul has yet to accept.  I go to sleep feeling okay. In the pre-dawn hours of semi-wakefulness I roll over in my bed without awareness, seeking the warmth of T's body, which is not there.  My earliest thoughts, every day, are of T, despite my not wanting these thoughts. I come to slightly more wakefulness and realize my stupidity. He's not there. He won't ever be there. My mind then begins the slow torture which keeps me from returning to sleep.  Today it was images of him having sex with another woman.
Please, I ask, how can I make my subconscious mind in line with my conscious mind? I want the torture to stop.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

January 17th, 2010

As of this date I will be divorced. I just got notice from the court that my divorce petition has been accepted by the court and has been entered as a decree, with the date of finalization of January 17th. I don't know whether to be happy or sad.  I think I'm a bit of both.

They say one door closes, another opens. I feel as if the door in front of me has a deadbolt on the door, and the key is hidden.

I've also been pondering the meaning of "test".  A test is to demonstrate one's ability, one's status, or one's accomplishment in an area. One passes a test and moves on to the next level, as in final exams, or swimming tests.  When one has been offered a test, is it inherent that passing assumes a movement to the next level?  I don't think it is so wrong to have that assumption.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

They took our what??

I live in a neighborhood where I've been fortunate enough to return home from a day away, having left the garage door open and the house unlocked, to find nothing disturbed. No one has stolen bikes from the garage, nor cleaned out the belongings from my house.
Imaging my surprise to find that the halloween pumpkins that my kids picked out were missing
from my front porch. Someone took our pumpkins!
Note, they didn't take the cooler that was drying out from the XC meet we attended.
They didn't take my bulbs that have been sitting there for over a year. They didn't take my metal witch standing watch over the soon--to-come trick or treaters.
They took my kids' pumpkins. How sad.
Note: my kids pumpkins were orange, but I photographed these cool looking ones at the place we picked our pumpkins up from. they look snow-kissed and kinda pretty. enjoy. I think I'm going to make pumpkin bread later today.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Soulmates; as a kid I believed in them. I believed that people were made for each other and all one had to do was find their perfect match. You know, then life would be happily ever after.

Then I started dating. I realized that people I liked didn't like me back, or that people who liked me didn't get their affections returned.  Things seemed out of whack.  When I did meet someone and we got along, we tended to stay together for a long time, though I had my share of only-a-few-date times, too.

I started to realize that some people I knew, who were in arranged marriages, were doing rather well. Others, in marriages for love didn't always fare so well.  How could an arranged marriage be one that could find a soulmate?

I began to realize that there are things one's parents know about a child that might actually be key to making a lifetime relationship work.  A parent knows a child's moods, a child's way of understanding the world, what intrigues the child and what totally disgusts a child.  A parent would look at an arranged marriage as one that is beyond the intial chemistry, but rather one that is based on similar values and the-things-that-makes-one-tick.

I have often wondered, if my parents had to choose my mate, just who they would pick for me. Would they do a good job knowing just what I need in a partner? Part of me thinks that they would get it horribly wrong, but part of me thinks that maybe they would have done a good job. They would have taken the initial sex appeal and chemistry attraction away from the whole process and would have chosen someone who would compliment me.

Back to the idea of the one and only soulmate - no, I don't believe in that. There are over 6 billion people in the world. How could I possibly find just ONE soulmate out of all those people. Say half are female and 1/10th is gay, that still leaves 2.5 billion or so as potential soulmates, and I have to find just one? I don't think Nature is so cruel.

What's left? To find someone with whom one is compatible. A person with interests somewhat similar, but different enough to keep things interesting. Also with different interests, one doesn't end up being competitive with one's partner, which is probably a good thing, given my latent competitive nature.  Finding a person who compliments one's sense of the world, one's take on life in general. Complimentary humor also helps, as does similar needs for affection and intimacy.  Nothing could be worse than being a person who craves physicial affection and being paired with someone who hates to be touched. That would be torture.

I love the idea of a soulmate. The idea that there is one person out there who matches my needs and wants perfectly and that if we find each other, we will both be fulfilled. I've looked for 50 years and haven't come close.  Both have to find it, with each other.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This is much harder than I thought.

This is definitely much harder than I thought. I read T's blog mentioning about the guided communication process, so I know he's actively looking for someone to date - locally.  I know logic says I'm here and he's there and I know my brain says that it's totally rational to want to date someone closer to where you live.  My brain seems to not be communicating much with my heart.

So I've been trying to figure this out.  Why is my heart so "stuck" on Tom? He's not perfect. Well, no one is, but he's comfortable.  I understand his humor. I know some of the things that are important to him. I won't ever really understand everything because my experience in life doesn't match his. I can't begin  to fathom how religion and his parents' beliefs have played out in his life.  I could go on and on about him, but I won't, cause this is about me figuring things out.  So why am I stuck, especially since I don't want to be?  I care about him enough that I want him to find what he needs.  Even though I want this for him, it's so much harder than I thought it would be.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dating Sites - It's a laugh

As several colleagues at work recently were married to their matches from, and since my friend T signed up for another dating site, I thought I'd check them out. I did a profile at eharmony and at match to just see what these services are like.

You'd think during the free period, the sites would bend over backwards to make them seem appealing.  They are not. One spends about 10 min or so filling out a questionaire. Things such as : friends describe me as _______.  When people first notice me they see  that I'm __________.  I wish more people would recognize this about me: _____________________.  One is also asked about religion (NOT!) and if one wants kids.  Another question is regarding how far a diameter in distance one wishes to seek a date. For me the answers are "No" and "30 miles".

Why the fuck am I getting matches from people in Wisconson? Why is my "perfect match" someone who writes about walking with God along His way?  What total fucking idiots!  Is there NO WAY that a match program can't identify that Wisconson (and Huntington Beach, and North Carolina...) is more than 30 miles away.  When I've written that churches are only places filled with the evils of humankind, why does the stupid match system link me to someone who needs to have God in his life? Give me a fucking break.  Maybe these sites work for people who really do want a match and who are willing to sift through all the chaff to get to the few nice grains of wheat.  I'm not there yet. Not by a longshot.

Odd that the person using the service can't rate the importance of various "must haves".  My god, even one guy's profile talked about his wanting "his guy" to be something special. I get matched with a bisexual (or gay?) person. Can't that be a selection, too??  I've got enough fucking idiots in my life, I don't need to be matched with more!  Oh, and it's not just women who read "Eat, Pray, Love"  One of my matches is currently reading that now. *rolls eyes*

Trust me, I can find idiot guys on my own easily enough. If I were to pay for a service like this, I'd want the damn service to WORK! Oh yes, and spelling does count.  Nothing worse than hearing about "anywhere matrue people hang out."  Dont "matrue" people know how to spell?  How about this description of self, "American African, American Latino, American white, Native American?"  Hmm, Every other ethnicity is capitalized but White.  Maybe that's a subtle message?  Not only is "Eat, Pray, Love" a killer, but so is "The Secret."  Doesn't anyone remember reading "the Emperor's New Clothes" when they were little?

There are so many things that are laughable.  Take this person's profile picture:  he's an okay looking guy, but why the heck put a dumpster in one's profile picture. It makes one only think the logical thought.. he's trash!  Sheesh.

This started out as a short post. Really it did. I just keep looking at my matches and the material kept coming.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The right tool for the job

My son is running cross country. The poor team doesn't have a banner, nor a shade shelter when spending all day at events.  As a decent sewer,  I decided to take matters in my own hands and create a team banner.  It took all day to trace and cut out the letters. The red background I originally purchased was too small, so I had to get a larger cut.  Everything got laid out nicely (with one small exception, which I will show in a moment), so I ironed down the letters as I used a heat and bond product that assures me I won't have to stitch down the letters.
The kids attend a meet. The banner is a huge success.  The banner gets folded up and I notice some of the letters are just starting to peel away. I guess I get to sew down the letters.

This is where it's important to have the best of tools.  I pulled out some nice, shiny thread I have had for a few years. Madeira thread. It's supposed to be good stuff. I got a selection of it when I got my sewing table.  I generally don't go for shiny, so I've saved it.  Now's the time to use it, as its what I have available.
Fill up a bobbin. No problem. Especially after I bought new bobbins, as the metal one's I had purchased previously (and despite them being advertised as Pfaff bobbins) really didn't play nicely with my machine.
I start sewing. I get through one letter, fiddling with the tension. Thread keeps breaking.  I sew down another letter and get through that, with a breakage or two. I persist. I'm stubborn that way. I get the "B-Town" sewn and I'm stopping every 30 seconds to deal with thread breakage. I can't figure out what's wrong. Is it my tension? Is something getting caught? I trouble shoot and sew some more. Still breakage. In a stroke of genius, I test the thread itself. I pull on the thread strait from the spool. Slight tug - snap. I try again.  Slight tug and snap.  SNAP! the thread is old and not good any more.

After a trip to the local fabric store (and $60 later, as I got a few other things I needed there, such as a wool batting for my latest quilt) I sew again. I'm thrifty. I keep sewing with the same bad thread in the bobbin. More snappage. I finally finish the bobbin and thread up with the entirely new spool. Not a single break!

It is always best to start with quality tools and materials. I know this!  When will I finally start practicing this?

As for the layout: My kids' father said he'd help with the layout when I was at work. I got home at midnight, just wanting to get this done, so I ironed everything out, without double checking the work. I know he's anal retentive about spacing, so I thought it was all okay. It looked okay to a bleary eyed seamstress.  It wasn't.  Not until I took this picture I thought everything was a-okay.  It was then that I re-discovered just how dyslexic he is.  I've subsequently fixed it, but there is some adhesive residue left on the banner. Anyone know how to get that off?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

George Mark House

This is the first hospice for children. Through my work we have sent several children and their families to this facility for end of life care. I can't say enough good things about this facility and I ask that anyone consider making a donation to this facility in order to help it to continue to run. I just did. Via their blog, one can discover other, non-financial ways in which to help the facility (see

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

WARNING: Long post

I thought I'd post my paper for my Public Health Class. It's long, like 2400 words, plus references, so if you dont' feel like reading a long essay, skip down to the next one, also posted today.

Health Campaign: Access to Healthcare in Alameda County, CA
            In part I of the Health Campaign Study (Wittstock, 2009) the topic of access to healthcare in Alameda County, California was reviewed.  In part I the realization was made that the simple provision of health care clinics open to a population regardless of the ability to pay does not equate to equal access to healthcare.  A population must do more than provide a safety-net of healthcare providers to eliminate healthcare disparities within a population.  Studies have shown that the proffered health services are lacking from accepted standards when the patient is non-English speaking (Cheng, Chen, & Cunningham, 2007).  The hours a clinic is open affects the working poor’s ability to obtain any healthcare services.  Even being covered by an insurance plan doesn’t guarantee that a person can afford the co-pays for medical treatment or pay the cost of prescriptions.  Equitable access to healthcare involves offering extended clinic hours so that working people can access both preventative and treatment healthcare for their families; making neighborhoods of equal safety and allowing all inhabitants equal access to healthy foods and safe recreation areas; making sure that the air quality is the same for all inhabitants of an area; and ensuring that all have equal access to education and employment opportunities.  Despite these findings, access to healthcare remains one of the prime indicators of a population’s health.  For this reason, access to healthcare was chosen as an initiative for Healthy People 2010, as evidenced by 17 core measures (Proctor S. , 2004).  A comparison of Alameda County, CA to the national progress towards these health goals will be the focus of this analysis.
            The 17 core measures are divided into four general topics of care: preventative care, primary care, emergency services, and long-term and rehabilitative services. The core measures are:
 Clinical preventive care
Persons with health insurance
Health insurance coverage for clinical preventive services
Counseling about health behaviors
Primary Care
            Source of ongoing care
            Usual primary care provider
            Difficulties or delays in obtaining needed health care
            Core competencies in health provider training
            Racial and ethnic representation in health professions
            Hospitalization for ambulatory-care-sensitive conditions
Emergency Services
            Delay or difficulty in getting emergency care
            Rapid prehospital emergency care
            Single toll-free number for poison control centers
            Trauma care systems
            Special needs of children
Long-term Care and Rehabilitative Services
            Long-term care services
            Pressure ulcers among nursing home residents (Healthy People 2010, n.d.)

Understandably, in an analysis of limited length, all 17 core measures cannot be examined. A closer examination will be made of two health indicators; persons with health insurance and having a usual source of medical care.
Definition of the indicators. To have apples to apples comparisons, the population in which these indicators are studied must be defined.  The Healthy People 2010 initiative defines “insurance coverage” as the percent of persons under age 65 who report health care coverage by any type of public or private health insurance (Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). Having a source of ongoing care is defined by Healthy People 2010 as the percentage of people who report having a specific source of ongoing care.  Specifically, this question asks, “Is there a place that you usually go when you are sick or need advice about your health” (Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). This indicator is reported in three age categories: all ages, children and youth ages 17 years and younger, and adults aged 18 years and older.  Finding data that allows a direct comparison at the local level to the national level is challenging. Of particular note is that two of the indicators for Healthy People 2010 were dropped (these are the ones listed in italics) due to the inability to identify data sources on a national level (Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.).  Data for the first of these two indicators is collected from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the NCHS on the national level.  At the state level the data is obtained from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the CDC, and the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) (Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). Data to support the second of the two indicators is obtained from the National Health Interview Survey at the national level (Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.), while at the state level the information is obtained from the California Health Interview Survey via an online query system called AskCHIS (California Health Interview Survey, 2005).
            Comparison of the populations.  Alameda County, California is not a representative snapshot of the rest of the U.S.  This county has a large immigrant population made of both Hispanics and Pacific Islanders/Asians.  African-Americans make up a larger percentage of the population than in other parts of the country, as well.  The following table shows some of the demographics of the population of Alameda County compared to the U.S population.
Table 1: Population Characteristics
% of population in Alameda Co.
% of population in California
% of population in the U.S.
American Indian and Alaska Native persons
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
Two or more races
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin
White persons not Hispanic

Language other than English spoken at home
High School Graduates
Bachelors Degree, or higher
Median Household Income
Median Value of owner occupied housing unit
Home Ownership rate
Persons below poverty
Persons per square mile
(U.S.Census Bureau, 2008)
% of population in Alameda Co.
% of population in California
% of population in the U.S.
Source of ongoing care
(California Health Interview Survey, 2005)(Healthy People 2010, n.d.)

Clearly, Alameda County is a far more diverse, well educated, and financially well off area than the remainder of the U.S.  Despite the education and wealth in this area, residents of Alameda county suffer from urban living, crowded living conditions, expensive housing, and the assorted crimes associated with urban living.  Alameda County is also performing slightly better than the remainder of the U.S on these two target measures to assess access to healthcare.  Unfortunately, one target is met. The goal set by Healthy People 2010 is that 100% of the population is covered by health insurance (Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.).  On the other hand, the second target has been met in California. The target for having a regular source of ongoing care is 85% (Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.).  Both Alameda County and the State have met this target, with both having rates that approach 90%.

            Community based response.  Despite Alameda County having an overall improved rate of health insurance and a source of regular care among its population, health disparities continue to exist. Drilling down in the data a bit further, huge inequities exist for health insurance coverage when examined by race. Figure 1 demonstrates the disparities in health insurance coverage, by race.

 (note figure one shows that whites have the insurance coverage, hispanics the worst. blacks and asians fall inbetween)
(Sutocky, 2008)
Figure 2 demonstrates the racial disparities in having a regular source of health care.
Figure 2
(figure 2 is similar to figure one, showing whites have more regular care, hispanics the least, blacks and asians inbetween) Refer to Sutocky on the web (in references) to see the original graphs

(Sutocky, 2008)
Alameda County sees these disparities as a serious concern. Although overall health indicators are improving for the entire population, the disparities between the races and socio-economic status are growing larger (The Alameda County Public Health Department, Office of the Director, Community Assessment, Planning, and Education (CAPE) Unit, 2006).  The county recognizes that health inequities are the result of larger social problems of “inequitable policies that continue to systematically deprive the residents of these neighborhoods of access to critical social goods such as good schools, better jobs, safe recreational space, clean air, and less crime” (The Alameda County Public Health Department, Office of the Director, Community Assessment, Planning, and Education (CAPE) Unit, 2006, pp. 4-5).  Alameda County has joined a larger initiative, the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII) to help the cities and counties of the San Francisco Bay Area region to address health inequities in a systematic fashion, using city planning, legislation, and infrastructure change to improve health disparities in the population.  BARHII has published a guide for Public Health Departments and Planning Departments to refer to when planning strategies to improve the health in a community (Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, n.d.).  The California Health Policy Reform, a division of the Center for Health Improvement, has suggested 6 policies for cities and policymakers to follow to address health inequities:
1.       Embrace the concept of health in all policy
2.      Provide funding to encourage and support work across multiple sectors and disciplines
3.      Measure and monitor the impact of social policies on health
4.      Give voice to groups that are the most impacted by social and health inequities
5.      Develop policies that will reduce stress on individuals and families and interventions to help individuals cope better with stress
6.      Strengthen the social fabric of neighborhoods by connecting and supporting residents (Center for Health Improvement, 2009).

At all steps in health planning, the public is invited to comment at public hearings and other community events held at community centers; at community gathering spots, such as churches and recreation centers; and schools.  Without input from the people affected by the inequities, the suggested solutions may only add to the problem.
            Economic Factors. Naturally, economics plays a big factor in health equities and in health insurance provision.  In former times a majority of working people received health benefits through the employer.  Economic times have changed. In California over 90% of the workers are employed in firms with less than 50 employees.  Of this 90% of the workforce, only 24% have employer based health plans (California Healthcare Foundation, 2008).  Providing one’s one health insurance is very costly. Single-person health plans cost $4906 annually, on average, while family plans cost $13,427.  In order to save on initial costs, 8% of the population nationally have chosen high-deductible health plans with a health savings spending account option across the nation, but only 4% of the population have chosen this option in California (California Healthcare Foundation, 2008).  California is also leading the way with domestic partner benefits, which are offered by 57% of firms that offer health benefits.  Oddly enough, not every employee eligible for health benefits chooses to accept the benefits. Of the workers eligible to receive health benefits, only 83% elected to enroll in a health plan.  One factor affecting this rate is the rapid increase in health plan costs, which have doubled since 2002. Employees are expected to pay a portion of premiums and higher co-pays with most of the plans offered (California Healthcare Foundation, 2008).  The high cost of healthcare both in the purchase of insurance and the purchase of healthcare services has driven many employees to drop insurance coverage and do without.  Contrary to popular belief, 60% of the uninsured in California have incomes over $50,000 annually and hold down full-time jobs (California HealthCare Foundation, 2008).  
Alameda County has invested in supporting health clinics that provide services to its population regardless of a person’s ability to pay. Fully 31 health or dental clinics provide services to the community without regard to a person’s ability to pay.  This financial burden is supported by federal funds via Medicare and Medicaid payments to the clinics, from state income taxes, local sales taxes, and Proposition 10 funds (a sin tax on cigarette sales). These health clinics do not function as traditional health providers, rather they attempt to provide a “medical home”; a place where a regular source of healthcare may be obtained for the entire family.  The clinics try to provide “a culturally competent, high quality care [that] includes support services such as transportation, child care,[and] interpreters” (Alameda County Public Health Department, 2008, p. 126).  The county recognizes that having a healthy population improves the quality of life for the entire population and is willing to finance these beliefs.
Social Marketing.  A moderate investment in social marketing has been made by Alameda County to promote its health clinics and its provision of healthcare to its entire population. The predominant medium is found in small billboards placed at bus stops that are visible to both patrons of public transportation and to other users of the public roads. These advertisements promote calling a toll free number for health services if a woman finds she is pregnant and without healthcare.  Truthfully, this author has never seen another piece of social marketing by Alameda County promoting its public health causes aside from the bus advertisements.  An improvement certainly may be made in this area.
Conclusion.  California, and Alameda County in particular, has made progress in attaining two of the Healthy People 2010 objectives. 89.1% of the population of Alameda County is covered by a health insurance plan and 89.7% of the population can identify an ongoing source of medical care.  Of interest, 30% of the users of Alameda County safety-net clinics are holders of private health insurance, who chose to use the unique services of the Alameda County clinics despite having other choices for care.  The clinics provide care that is culturally sensitive, which is attractive to the multicultural population of this geographic area.  Simple access to healthcare, however, does not equate to health equities.  Many factors determine a person’s health status. Unfortunately, those who are not born White suffer many impedances to good health, including having access to healthy foods, recreational areas, lower crime rates, and overall higher stress levels. Until the other determinants of health are addressed, the population of the U.S. may never enjoy real health equities.
Alameda County Public Health Department. (2008, August). Life and Death from Unnatural Causes: Health and Social Inequity in Alameda County. Retrieved September 20, 2009, from Alameda County Public Health Department:
Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative. (n.d.). Healthy Planning Guide. Retrieved September 21, 2009, from Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative:
California Health Interview Survey. (2005). AskCHIS. Retrieved October 4, 2009, from California Health Interview Survey:
California Healthcare Foundation. (2008, December). California Employer Health Benefits Survey. Retrieved October 5, 2009, from California Healthcare Foundation:
California HealthCare Foundation. (2008). Snapshot: California's Uninsured. Retrieved October 5, 2009, from
Center for Health Improvement. (2009, July). Calfornia Health Policy Reform. Retrieved 5 2009, October, from Center for Health Improvement:
Cheng, E. M., Chen, A., & Cunningham, W. (2007). Primary Language and Receipt of Recommended Health Care Among Hispanics in the United States. Journal of General Internal Medicine , 22 (2), 283-288.
Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Healthy People 2010 Operational Definition. Retrieved October 4, 2009, from Center for Disease Control:
Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Healthy People 2010 Operational Definition. Retrieved October 4, 2009, from Center for Disease Control:
Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Midcourse review Healthy People 2010: Modifications to objectives and subobjectives. Retrieved October 4, 2009, from Healthy People 2010:
Healthy People 2010. (n.d.). 1: Access to Quality Health Services. Retrieved October 4, 2009, from Healthy People 2010:
Healthy People 2010. (n.d.). Access to Quality Health Services. Retrieved October 4, 2009, from Healthy People 2010:
Proctor, S. (2004, October). Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Selected Healthy People 2010 . Retrieved October 4, 2009, from Center for Disease Control: National Center for Health Statistics:
Sutocky, J. (2008). Healthy People 2010 Leading Health Indicators: California Update. Retrieved October 4, 2009, from California Department of Public Health: Center for Health Statistics:
The Alameda County Public Health Department, Office of the Director, Community Assessment, Planning, and Education (CAPE) Unit. (2006). Alameda County Health Status Report, 2006. Retrieved October 4, 2009, from Alameda County Department of Public Health:
U.S.Census Bureau. (2008). Fast FactsAlameda County, CA & U.S Fast Facts. Retrieved October 4, 2009, from U.S. Census Bureau:
Wittstock, S. (2009). Health Campaign Study- Part I: Access to Healthcare in Alameda County. University of Phoenix, Healthcare Sciences, Phoenix, AZ.