Monday, January 31, 2011

With love and thanks

Today I lost my mother-in-law, my husband's mother, my daughter's "Mimi". Although it may be a few days before you read this (out of respect for the rest of the family and friends who deserve to hear and absorb the news personally, not on my blog) I had to sit down to write this tonight.

Writing is my catharsis, you see. Always has been, always will be. To me, there are things that can be said through the written word that few people can express adequately, vocally. Yes, I know, there is often no replacement for the cadence of someone's voice but, for me, I feel my writing comes straight out of my heart more than the, often inelegant, words do via my mouth.

But I digress.

It is not my job to eulogize Rosemary, or "Rosie" as we all knew her, because I only knew her for a relatively short time - about 10 years - but I wanted to write about what she meant to me.

More than eleven years ago now, I met Rosie for the first time. Back then I was just friends with my now-husband. She came down to Southern California to visit her son and, since me and her son worked at the same place and we both worked for her step-son, I naturally got to meet her.

I loved her instantly. She had this air about her that said she was above all the bullshit of life; that she'd been there, seen that, done that, bought the t-shirt and now had no interest in wearing it. She cut right through it all just by who she was. She was who she was and she wasn't going to apologize for it. I so got that.

Not long after, my "friend" became my "boyfriend" and Rosie took on the role of my U.S. mother. (Remember, my own mother was 6,000 miles away for the first 13 years of my time in the U.S.)

I remember the first Thanksgiving I had up in Foresthill, where she lived and where my husband was raised. She picked us up from Sacramento airport in her green pick-up truck. It was raining hard and I think, typically, she had originally missed the freeway exit. She was lousy with directions.

Although it was the first time I had visited her house, Rosie made me feel like the place was "home" right away.  That 1,000 square foot house was her sanctuary, for sure, but she shared it willingly and lovingly with everyone who entered. She talked to me like she'd known me her whole life, like I was already family, and I never once felt like an outsider. It felt warm and natural and wonderful to be there.

Not that, as it turned out, we didn't have our differences. In fact, we couldn't be more opposite at all.

I don't think I always understood why she did the things she did or the choices she made, or visa versa. We lived totally different lives with totally different goals, completely different backgrounds, and thoroughly different expectations. But we had a mutual respect thing going.

Rosie never once asked me to be someone else. To act a different way. To say something differently. To make different choices. When I made choices that were not always wise (which I did, often) she never blamed me nor scolded me. She only offered her ear and her support. Next to my own mother and father, she remains the only other person in my life to have never demanded that of me in any way, shape or form. That level of love and acceptance is priceless, especially when your own family is 6,000 miles and a culture away.

We had great chats. I loved how she would always say something left-of-field. Something you were not expecting. Sometimes it came in the form of a question that would make you think. Sometimes it would just be a thought expressed out loud that would make you smile because it was so quintisentially "Rosie". But always I came away feeling "heard" and loved, never judged. I took that to heart and continue to try and pay that lesson forward.

At the end, we talked about dying. It was not a sad and tear-filled conversation but a down-to-earth one that, I feel, represented the straight-up relationship we have built over the years. I thanked her for everything she had been to me and for raising such a wonderful, smart, and compassionate son that I was now lucky enough to have as a husband and father to my daughter. To have a caring sister-in-law and an amazingly smart brother-in-law... that was all her, I reminded her. It was no small feat, given the obstacles she had faced in her life. It is not exaggeration to say that I owe much of the love in my life to her. I told her that. I'm glad I had the chance.

To think of her as gone is just odd....wrong. She was like the acres of trees in her yard. She had a permanence, a quiet strength, and a resilience that just made you think that she would always be there, no matter what the storm.

And so it seems fitting that this is what I told my daughter this weekend about her Mimi: that she has gone away to live in the mountains and the trees and that every time we go up to the hills, we should think about her and know that she is watching over us.

Thank you Rosie.I love you and will remember you, your compassion, and your strength every day of the rest of my life.

Mother's Day 2010 124

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Something new

Recently I have had to admit that my workout "routine" (or lack thereof) is no longer working for me.

Getting up at 4:15 in the morning and driving myself the 10 minutes to the gym where I stare longingly at all the machines I can no longer use for fear of throwing something or other out and being incapacitated for days or weeks on end, is nothing but pure torture. There used to be a day, before hip and back injuries and prior to being exhausted mummy to an active toddler, that the gym was my "place"; my mental space for working stuff out and my place where I felt physically strong and in control.

Yeah, well, like I said, things have changed.

Not just circumstantially but in a lot of other ways too. For instance, my definition of strong has definitely evolved into being more about balance and resilience and support rather than muscle tone and the numbers on a weight stack. Also, I was given a series of exercises I can do pretty much anywhere from my physical therapist and trainer last year - no fancy equipment necessary. And, finally, since I've never been one for the whole group routine thing (it kills me that 90% of the overly amped-up teachers teach improper form and provide little instruction for their students who are yanking their backs around) I decided that the era of gym membership is, at least for now, over.

So, this morning I got up at 5am (a 45 minute sleep-in), put on my sneakers and walked outside to this.

Cold and foggy but also beautiful and serenely quiet. I soon woke up and the mental space that the deserted streets gave me was wonderful, although I did have NPR's Morning Edition playing through some ear phones.

I did my warm-ups, walked and jogged for 20 minutes, and then came inside and did some floor-work while my coffee brewed in the kitchen.

Right next to my office is my spare room where my Total Gym awaits for 15 minutes of strength training at some point in my day.

So, who needs a gym? I've canceled my membership, am saving $550 a year, and I feel great about it.

Woohoo to a new era of RantyPantsy-fitness!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A brief and random train-of-thought post: Sacrifices

Today I met a friend for lunch. She's a smart cookie this chick. Business-savvy of the entrepreneurial, go-getting kind. We haven't seen one another for a while, in fact since I became a mother. She recently (as in the last 3 years) adopted a young boy. Our lives have been forever changed, as we finally admitted, despite our protestations to the contrary prior to parenthood landing on our doorstep.

Anyway, the topic of sacrifice came up. It's been on my mind a lot lately. I'm a cake-and-eat-it kind of girl, not much for sacrifice, I'll admit. I'd prefer to think I'm smart enough to figure out how to do it all, have it all, and pay for it. Yeah, I know, denial 101.

So, we talked about the things you're willing to give up to get where you want to go in life. How much are you willing to let the "here and now" suck in order to make the "there and later" everything you ever wanted it to be?

I don't know the answer to this question right now - I've been pondering it for quite a while now and haven't come to any sort of conclusion, probably because I'm convinced I'll find the "have it all" solution sometime soon - but I do know what I'm afraid of and it's not poverty or failure. Nah, neither of these don't even warrant pause. It's missing out on enjoying today in the endless pursuit of the greener grass.

What if I dropped dead tomorrow? What if someone I love did? What if something happened in my life that prevented me from enjoying my daughter, my marriage, my family, my friends, and my little daily luxuries? What then? Would I regret the sacrifices I made today for a goal that may or may not be achieved tomorrow?

Motherhood has made me much more philosophical this way; has made the choices harder, with greater consequences, the weight of responsibility heavier.

Like I said, I have no answers, no solutions, although I have many choices. Clearly, none of them are "perfect" or "easy" or there would be no contemplation necessary.

Yes, this random stream of consciousness but that's what you get today, folks. I'm too busy and too in-limbo to elaborate.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ms. Ranty Pants recommends

One of the things I love is to see good people, good friends, trying something new and succeeding. And I like to do anything I can to promote them to anyone and everyone I know.

Recently, a number of friends have forged ahead and put themselves out there in new ventures. 

That's why I'm starting: "Ms. Ranty Pants Recommends..."

In this first post, I'm going for a left-brain, right-brain mix.

Trancefusion Dance Company and Fusion Fit

My friend, Mala, is originally from India and, in addition to being a talented graphic designer, she is also an awesome dancer and choreographer. She started Trancefusion Dance Company several years ago and now she is adding a new string to her bow with Fusion Fit.

Mala says, "A year ago I looked into the mirror and was absolutely enraged at what I'd done to myself. I decided it was time to change and started watching what I ate and exercised regularly. No pain no gain became my motto. While at it I realized music and group classes were big motivation factors as was incorporating the fun factor to it. I also enjoyed doing a variety of exercises especially yoga, zumba and the boot camps offered at my gym. Adding variety helped get rid of the boredom associated with working out. So I wondered what if there was one class which was a fusion of all styles and could be done to my kind of heart pumping Bollywood music and voila...FusionFit is born. It will have something for everyone and I hope I can keep folks motivated to stay healthy and fit while having loads of fun and provide some "me" time for all - since we know how easy it is to skip that in our daily lives."

All my mom friends reading this can identify with what Mala says, I'm 100% confident.  So, I'm so proud of Mala. She looks fantastic in her new, svelte body and, more than that, she seems comfortable in her own skin.

FusionFit  launches March 5th, 2011. Here are details of the opening event which you should definitely attend to learn more.

3/5/11 - from 5:00pm to 7:00 pm at the Indian Community Center, 196 Blue Ravine Rd, sute#150 Folsom CA 95630.

Come to the opening event and you can even enter to win prizes and special class discounts

Class rates start from $35 per month with a drop-in rate of $15, so you can check-out a couple of classes before you pay the lower, monthly rate.

Fusion Fit can be found online here:

Five Beez Technologeez

My friend, Bobby, has started a great new service for all of those nightmarish PC issues. Man, I wish I had known this when I was dealing with my new computer issues several months ago. Grrr.

Bobby has 20 years of I.T. experience and he couples this with being "not your typical computer geek." He's fun, friendly, and prompt. I work with him at our "day jobs" and he's just one of the best IT peeps I know.

With FiveBeez, Bobby is offering low flat rates for those of us who can't afford our own IT department; guaranteed work; and if by chance there is no resolution you will not be charged a penny! I'm not kidding. What a deal! This also means no "visit fee"... ever! Other companies charge you just to ring your doorbell. Score!

His service area is a 60 mile radius of Sacramento and he can even offer remote assistance, so you don't necessarily have to wait for him to negotiate rush-hour traffic to reach you!

To learn more, go to

Moonberry Rain

My friend, Meghan, is a star with a needle-and-thread. She created the apron above for my daughter, Daisy (hence the D monogram.) Also seen below being put to good use.

I bought seven or eight of these adorable things for the daughters of my friends at Christmas and they were hits all around.

Daisy Month 22_Jan111 (18 of 18)

Her etsy store, Moonberry Rain, has lots of other gorgeous aprons for sale and her main focus is creating super-cute frilly, yet functional aprons for the little ladies. However, there are also lots of no frills, no nonsense cover-ups for the little boys too!

In addition to the items listed in her online store, she will make various types of custom orders. For instance, if you'd like to stick with a special theme or color combination (like I asked her to do), she can work with you to make that happen. Also, she can make pretend-play matching pot holders to go with the apron.

Please stop by her store here:

Please, as and when you can, go out there and support these great new business ventures. I wouldn't promote them if I didn't feel they were good people doing great work.

And to confirm, none of them approached me to do this post. It was all my idea and I was not compensated by any of them in any way.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My birthday weekend

That's right. A whole weekend. My self-absorption knows no bounds.

As you know, I threw myself a party on Saturday, with 15 of my favorite ladies.

I have built an amazing and diverse group of friends in the past few years. It was wonderful to have them all (with a couple of notable exceptions) in the room at one time, no kids, no husbands and MIMOSAS! (Of course, mimosas.)

Birthday Brunch 2011-19

Birthday Brunch 2011-23

Birthday Brunch 2011-24

See more pics here

There was also A LOT of food. Since it was a pot-luck brunch, I got to sample all kinds of yummy foods from bacon scones to egg bakes to baked brie and coffee cakes - two different kinds. Yes, the top button on my jeans was threatening to pop open by the time we were done.

Birthday Brunch 2011-6

On Monday, which also happened to be a day-off for me (score!) Mum, Dad, Daisy and I headed up to Nevada City, a little old town in the foothills. It just so happened that the weather was doing a thing called "inversion" (all weather-girl job offers welcomed) and so it was foggy and dreary in Sacramento but warm and sunshiney 2,500 feet up in Nevada City. (Double-score!)

I had fun taking pictures.

Nevada City Jan11-6635

Nevada City Jan11-6645

Nevada City Jan11-6643

Nevada City Jan11-6600

Nevada City Jan11-6565

Nevada City Jan11-6560

Nevada City Jan11-6576

Daisy had fun running around with Nan and hamming it up.

Nevada City Jan11-6494


And we had ice-cream. In January. In short-sleeves. I. KID. YOU. NOT.


Nevada City Jan11-6578

You can see more pics from Nevada City here.

On Tuesday, my actual birthday, I had to go into the office for a meeting. Boo Hiss! But in the evening we all went out for dinner at Paragary's in mid-town Sac and tempted fate with a two year old in a fancy restaurant. She did ok, by the way, although making it so is getting to be harder and harder work these days.

And thus ended my first day one year younger.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

11 hours on the 11th day in 11

A peek into my scintillating and incredibly glamorous life, as gleaned from scratched notes on a pad throughout the day. Enjoy (if you make it all the way through without falling asleep!)

8:00 am
Check my work (the one that pays) email. Meh... nothing remotely motivating. Reply to some new inquiries that will never go anywhere. Stomach grumbles. Realize I didn't eat breakfast. Run downstairs to grab a bowl of Fiber One cereal (you know, the stuff that isn't supposed to taste like cardboard, but kinda does.) My daughter, Daisy, and mother are at the bottom of the stairs. Listen to mum regale stores of how Daisy was blowing snot bubbles during breakfast. (Momentarily reconsider that bowl of cereal). Stand in front of the tv rapidly shoveling in my cereal and watching an interview with Paul Giammati about his new movie. "Barney's Version." Realize I will probably never get to the theater to see it. Mentally tune out and listen to my mother trying to teach my daughter correct pronouns (she still talks about herself in the 3rd person.) "When Daisy talks about herself she says 'me'. You say 'me', not Daisy." Think that it's likely that Daisy will be 21 before she gets that one. (No offense, mum, I'm not doing any better!)

9:00 am - check my calendar for the day. Bliss! No conference calls or webinars. Feeling of excitement lasts only a minute after I remember I have a list of to-dos that are less than exciting, including follow-up calls to people who never return them. Try to check my personal email but the site is down. Momentarily irritated before realizing I'm not supposed to be in personal email anyway. Decide to have a quick (as in jump-in-soap-jump-out) shower first, in the hopes it will boost my enthusiasm for the day. Realize fleetingly that my throat STILL HURTS after what seems like months of being sick. In a matter of seconds, debate and dismiss need to go to doctor. Don't want more antibiotics.

10:00 am - While writing away on a promotional piece, am continuously distracted by my mother losing temper with Daisy's Thomas the Tank Engine Mega Blocks play set, which my daughter repeatedly dismantles throughout the course of the day in toddler-temper (and which nobody can seem to fix except for her Dad.) Train set is called "Stupid!" (use English accent - "stewpid"  - and through mother's gritted teeth) at least ten times. Then, as my mother frantically tries to put the train set back together, Daisy begins to whine "Pleaeaaaase muuuuuuum! Mummy help you! Mummy help you!" which does not go down well. (And further illustrates the problem with the pronouns, since she means "Mummy help me!") Husband attempts to promote my photography Facebook fanpage. All goes terribly wrong. Redeems himself quickly.

11:00 am 
English elevenses - cup of tea and a home made fiber muffin (Yes, MORE fiber. Let's not go there.) Realize that, despite having run and emptied the dish washer just yesterday afternoon, we are already out clean tea spoons. How does this happen? Back to writing... Have an idea for an article for a real estate e-zine and so dash off a quick synopsis email to the editor. Smell of orange Pledge I used to polish my desk yesterday is giving me a headache and so light my tangerine candle. Citrus overload.

12:00 pm -  My mother left the dogs outside while she went out for a walk and my eldest dog, Frankie, has not stopped barking for... forever. They should use him in Afghanistan instead of water-boarding. Much more effective. On the other hand, it's payback for the neighbors. If they are home. (Fingers crossed.) Am I wicked? Talking of wicked, keeps sending me Daily Deals Alerts. I need to unsubscribe. Unless it's free right now, I aint buying. (Hello post-Christmas-poverty!) Had someone recommend a blog about "The Happiness Project". Is someone trying to tell me I'm a miserable shrew?

1:00 pm - While simultaneously writing a puff piece about the products I sell, I told my husband (as feedback to one of his marketing pieces) that no fancy marketing words could replace sending a prospect "something of value". Stopped writing puff pieces. Changed tactics. Duh. One thing I do love about my job: I can do that. Switcheroo, just like that. Of course, I just negated almost a whole morning's work. Sigh.

2:00 pm - Listening to my mother try to put my daughter down for her nap without the binky. Daisy used to fall asleep in Nanny's arms when we had the b-thing but now she kicks and screams and fights and is not so cooperative. Of course, mother won't let her cry for a second. No sireee. So she reads her 6 books and shhhhes in her ear like a steam train. Sigh. Grandparents!  Got requested contract revisions from a new potential client. Sigh, again. (Lots of sighing goes on during my day.)

3:00 pm - Got an email about "What your toddler should be drinking". Had a moment of "OMG, I bet Daisy isn't drinking as much as she needs and is probably drinking too much juice!" and then paused with hand on mouse and, instead, deleted the email. In fact, I unsubscribed to the emails forever. So tired of hearing what my daughter should or shouldn't be doing. She (and I) are just fine. GO AWAY! On subject of drinking, randomly realize I have not had a martini in... months? A friend recommends I start drinking right away, and keep it up, for fear of developing an intolerance. Ack. An intolerance to martinis!? "BARTENDER!"

4:00 pm - Finishing up work and trying to tell a client-to-be that the whole purpose of a 12 month contract is that they commit to 12 months. Because, you know, if you have the option to cancel with barely notice at any time, then it's not really a 12 month contract. Ahem.

5:00 pm - Linoleum shopping with the hubs and Daisy at Home Depot. For my birthday we're re-doing the laundry room. (I know, it's like getting a toaster for your anniversary but it's what I wanted so, whatevs.) I want black-and-white tile-type linoleum to replace the original flooring that is 70s and just plain icky. See below. Apparently black-and-white linoleum is next-to-impossible to come by but we found what we need for $45 in the remnants section. Woot! The walls will be hot, hot orange, btw. It's gonna be RAD. As to whether it will actually result in me being any more timely with pushing laundry through? That's going to remain up for debate.


6:00 pm - Stop for a hot-dog at Urban Dog & Sausage. Ughh... no day ever seems right to start my diet. Ok, really, I know: every day is right. But it's a sausage! So, tomorrow then?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Who is responsible...

... for the AZ shootings. Is it, as some might suggest, Sarah Palin?

I don't like the woman, her politics, or pretty much anything she stands for one iota but my answer to this question is: oh come on! Of course not.

Aside from the sick feelings I have after hearing about the 75 year old husband who took a bullet for his wife; the 9 year old who was born on 9/11 and whose life was cut short while she was trying to learn more about her government; and the judge who survived potential asassination by the Mexican drug cartel but wound up dead because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time - aside from feeling completely sick to my stomach about these tragedies (and more), I'm also feeling pretty sick about some people's reaction to them.

On the one side, we have Boehner and the political right jumping so far away from this incident that they're practically in-line for an Olympic medal in the long jump. On the other side, we have folks like Credo Action who are trying to blame Palin for motivating the shooter with some crosshairs on a map that, until this weekend, nobody blinked an eyelid at.

I have no idea why the shooter did what he did or why he targeted Congresswoman Giffords. Was it because she was Democrat? Was it because she was a representative of the government, period? Was it because he was a tea-partier on the rampage? Was it because he forgot his meds that morning? Was it because his local government was so underfunded that nobody was even around to recognize or treat his mental health issues? Was it a symptom of the general breakdown in the fabric of our community, where troubled people are everybody's problem but nobody's responsibility?

I. DO. NOT. KNOW. And neither does the media, nor John Boehner, nor Credo, nor the the Tucson police, nor the FBI, and possibly not even the gunman himself. Not that's stopping people from speculating and finger-pointing. Just as some of these same folks complain about a hyperpolitical Washington and a hyperbolic media fueling the cultural fire for such a tragedy, it seems they are content to throw their own brand of fuel on the fire.

None of this helps, of course. It's all a part of the same machine of absent responsibility and virulent finger-pointing that keeps us all so polarized in the first place.

Here is what I do know, however. That the shooter, who was turned away by the Army in 2008, walked into a gun store in November and easily purchased the 9mm pistol he used in his rampage. The bullets? Bought in a Walmart.

Apparently, we care more about how someone might use a gun on our enemies than we do how they might use it in our own backyard.

That's something we all are collectively responsible for.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

I'm doing it

I'm going backwards.

No, I don't mean like walking backwards (I'd probably fall down and break my hip.)

Nor backwards mentally (although that's a matter for discussion. See here.)

I mean backwards in age. As of this year, I'm heading back to zero. Which means that, by the time I'm 70, I"ll be ready to be born again. (Literally, not spiritually.)

And in true Ranty Pants style, I will commemorate this momentous decision by throwing myself my first reverse birthday party. Two Saturdays from now, fifteen friends and I will eat deliciously fattening brunch-type items and toast the wondrousness of me with sparkling mimosas.

No husbands. No kids. What!? I know. I am sooooo kewl.

Of course, there are a few small details that I conveniently chose to overlook (or more honestly, block out) about hosting my own party:
  1. I'll have to clean my house...
  2. ... and decorate it myself.
  3. I don't have a dining table.
So, I'm thinking my Happy Birthday gift to me will be a cleaner and my dad will need to bring furniture.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

11 words for the first of 11

Last year we were puking, this year we were shopping. Holla!


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