I don’t like to take medicine. Or vitamins. I was never a good pill swallower and I think my mom was still crushing up St. Joseph’s aspirin for children in applesauce when I was twelve. (A little off-topic, but I’ve always sort of liked the way that particular brand of children’s aspirin tastes.) Anyway, I take my medications reluctantly. Sometimes I get a prescription filled and never take it at all. If John lays out the calcium and vitamin pills, I’ll get to them, although I might postpone it by a day. He always praises me after I choke them down. Yeah, I still need positive re-enforcement when it comes to pills.

Today, I had a positive medication experience. I have been wheezing now for a little over a month. Mostly I’ve just been waiting for the asthma to go away. It comes in the fall with the change of weather and sometimes it goes away by itself. So, as a stubbornly non-medication taker, I do not want to use the little inhalers that wheezy people use. Well, I’ve decided that breathing may be a good thing and I’m tired of people treating me like I’m about to infect them with something awful. But all my prescriptions are too old! And I like going to the doctor less than I like taking pills. Enter the internet.

No, this isn’t about how I found a drugstore online or bought drugs from Canada. As a member of Kaiser Permanente I have access to the members-only section of their website. Scrolling through the choices this morning, I see that I can send a note to my service provider. So I write and say that I need new prescriptions. In less than 2 hours he write backs to me that he’s sent the prescription along to the pharmacy, that I should call him if I don’t get better or have to use the inhaler too much and tells me to take care. He also uses “Hi, Mary” as a salutation and signs the note “BB.” It’s like my doctor, who really wouldn’t recognize me on the street, is my friend!

I didn’t have to go to doctor and pay the copay. I didn’t have to wait endlessly on hold to talk to someone. Better still, I didn’t have to talk to anyone. (I don’t like talking on the phone.) I got a fast, personal response. So, yay, for Big Health Care. It’s not your friendly old family physician but it worked really well for me.



Last January, I was making a phone call from my sister’s house. I was trying to track down a bridesmaid dress for Ryan. My brother-in-law, Gary, was in the kitchen when I made the call to the bridal shop. He burst out laughing when I asked to speak to Marius. “What a perfect name for a guy who works in a bridal shop! Marius! (Marry us) So in honor of my brother-in-law, Gary, I present the list of all-time great job names. (As you can see, John and I have waayyy too much time on our hands.) John’s favorite is Manuel, the tech writer while I like Hy, the doorman.

I’m sure there are more. If you can think of any send them on.

Abby, monk
Ace, tennis pro
Allen, mechanic
Allie, bowler
Amy, riflery instructor
Asa, card sharp
Axel, mechanic
Adam, accountant (say it slowly)
Art, painter
Barney, farmer
Bart, transit worker
Bentley, luxury car salesman
Bernie, arsonist/fireman
Betty, gambler
Blaise, firefighter
Bob, hairdresser
Bill, cashier
Billy, goatherd
Birdy, golf pro
Bitsy, computer programmer
Boris, lecturer
Brad, finish carpenter
Bruce, maker of beer/fighter
Buck, loan officer
Bud, tree surgeon
Candy, nutritionist
Carol, singer
Carrie, porter
Castor, rolling chair designer
Chad, poll worker
Chester, thoracic surgeon
Chip, electrical engineer
Chuck, butcher
Claude, cat breeder
Cliff, mountain climber
Cody, cryptographer/programmer
Colin, proctologist
Connie/Connor, grifter
Daisy, florist
Dan, judo instructor
Dawn, dishwasher
Dean, college administrator
Dee Dee, bra fitter
Delia, croupier
Dick, detective/pornstar
Dolly, furniture mover
Don, mafioso
Doug, retired backhoe operator
Dustin, housekeeper
Earl, English lord/webmaster
Ed, teacher
Elmer, arborist
Emmy, television actress/coroner
Esther, organic chemist
Fanny, ventilation consultant
Flo, hydrologist
Frank, hot dog vendor
Gail, meteorologist
Gene, microbiologlst
Gil, fisherman
Glen, forest ranger
Grace, minister
Grady, teacher
Hank, ropemaker
Harmony, marriage counselor
Harold, town crier
Harry, barber
Hector, (metric) surveyor
Herb, gardener
Hiram, personnel director
Holly, Christmas elf
Homer, baseball player
Honey, beekeeper
Horace, male prostitute
Hy, doorman
Jack, car mechanic
Jenny, mule driver
Jim, physical education teacher
Jimmy, locksmith
Joe, espresso guy
John, plumber
Josh, comedian
Kitty, veterinarian
Lee, sailor
Les, mathematician
Lou, British plumber
Maddie, psychiatrist
Manuel, technical writer
Marius, bridal shop owner/J of P
Mark, teacher
Marshall, law enforcement officer
Matt, wrestler
Melody, composer
Merry, comedienne
Mickey, pharmacist
Midge, exterminator/entomologist
Mike, announcer
Miles, surveyor/trucker
Misty, meteorologist
Monty, male stripper
Morry, mathematician
Mort, undertaker
Nat, entomologist
Nelson, wrestler
Nettie, fisherwoman
Nick, British prison guard
Norm, behavioral psychologist
Oscar, movie actor
Pat, masseur
Patty, short-order cook
Pearl, knitter/jeweller
Peg, woodworker
Penny, numismatist
Pete, coal miner
Peter, urologist/pornstar
Phil, gas station attendant/dentist
Randy, pornstar
Rashid, dermatologist
Ray, nuclear physicist
Red, librarian/dyer
Reed, oboist/librarian
Rich, banker
Ricky, soda jerk
Rob, burglar
Robin, ornithologist
Rocco, geologist
Rod, surveyor/pornstar
Roger, airline pilot
Rose, florist
Ruby, jeweler
Rudy, Don Rickles impersonator
Russell, cattle thief
Rusty, pipefitter / metallurgist
Sadie, speech teacher (say “D”)
Sam, missile technician
Sandy, lifeguard
Shelly, beachcomber
Sherry, winemaker
Sonny, meteoroloqist
Spike, hairdresser/volleyballer
Stu, cook
Stewart, cabin attendant
Sue, lawyer
Sy, respiratory therapist
Terry, bath attendant
Teddy, lingerie designer
Toby, Shakespearean actor (Toby or not Toby)
Tom, turkey farmer
Tony, stage actor
Tracy, detective/bounty hunter
Trip, travel aqent
Ty, haberdasher
Van, mover
Vinnie, sommeilier
Wally, builder
Wanda, bread maker (as in the bread with the baloons on the wrapper)
Ward, politician
Warren, policeman/rabbit breeder
Whit, comedian
Will, estate planner
Winnie, horse trainer



Rather than post-Thanksgiving, perhaps I should have called this the Thanksgiving post. Anyway, Thanksgiving was quite fun and very yummy. The biggest hits of the day would be the “death by broccoli” (always a winner), the apple-rutabaga soup (made by Sarah), the incredibly lump-free mashed potatoes (cooked and riced by Jon), the creamed onions and the turkey gravy (lovingly attended to for days by John.) Actually, who am I kidding, it was all great.

Here’s a funny thing that happened. Sarah called and asked what we were wearing. We said casual was fine. This usually means jeans in our family. John and I put on jeans hoping to make everyone feel at ease with what they were wearing. Sarah shows up in a lovely long slim skirt with matching turtleneck. She looks great! I think, oh, I must change my clothes. But Sarah says Jonathan will be wearing jeans so don’t worry. Then Jon shows up and he has on a nice shirt and a pair of dress slacks. Abashed, John and I scurry into the bedroom and change into something more presentable.

So I guess this just goes to show that we are becoming our children and our children are becoming us. Or maybe it’s that we feel that we no longer need to set example and they have internalized the example we tried to set for so many years. It was a mighty strange role reversal.



I think you’ve probably heard enough about all we are planning on eating. I’ll let you know the results in my next entry. For those of you who haven’t eaten yet, here’s a good site for folding napkins.

Happy Thanksgiving! Like the pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving, we should reach out to potential enemies, learn from our friends, and be thankful that we live here.



I’ve been so busy getting ready for turkey day that I really haven’t been paying too much attention to the news. This morning, in my early morning off and on again dozing, I heard a piece on NPR about tonight being the last night for Ted Koppel on Nightline. Host Steve Inskeep talked with Tom Bettag, senior executive producer of the show. The two discussed the changes to television journalism over the last two decades and the commercial pressures that confront reporters, editors, and producers.

Bettag said that there was a hard drive in the broadcast media to attract target audiences, specifically the 30-somethings whose pocketbooks make advertisers happy. The older demographic (I guess that includes me) just doesn’t stay up late enough to watch Nightline. So they have to change the type of story they report on and the way it is presented.

I looked to see who is taking over for Ted Koppel and found that they are three attractive news correspondents. Perhaps younger people get bored with only one talking head. Terry Moran is the ABC chief White House correspondent and formerly covered the Supreme Court. Cynthia Mc Fadden has served as ABC senior legal correspondent and is known for her news documentary series, “In the Jury Room.” Martin Bashir, an award winning journalist, brought “Living with Michael Jackson” to TV. Twenty-seven million Americans tuned into that. He also interviewed Princess Diana and Louise Woodward, the au pair who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

So what it looks like to me, is that ABC is going with three proven correspondents but may want to err on the side of sensationalism. It’s a pity that the news is driven not just by the events but by the advertisers’ desire for a younger audience.

As far as we old folks are concerned, yeah, we go to bed early. But has ABC ever heard of TiVo?



In the comments on my Turkey Lurkey blog entry, Mike said that she wanted to simplify her celebration. It made me think about why we do what we do for Thanksgiving. In many aspects I am all in favor of the simplification of life and probably for most people our dinner is totally over the top. I think what drives it is a desire to recapture something of my own Thanksgivings and a hope not to embarrass our kids from a culinary point of view. When I was growing up we always had the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, rutabagas, creamed onions and Indian pudding. As far as I can tell, John had no traditions. So it was important to me to continue my own set of culinary memories plus give John a sense of family and, I don’t know, for lack of a better term, food warmth.

As our children grew, it was apparent that they were definitely foodies. Some of my food became a little naïve for their tastes. Obviously, I had grown up in a season-driven, East Coast household. As my kids tastes developed, they were a part of a 90’s, fusion, West Coast kind of gastronomy. So I’ve tried to incorporate foods using traditional flavors plus modern twists. The chipotle sweet potato gratin is a new one I’m trying this year. It’s based on an incredible side dish we had at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill in Las Vegas. It’s really tasty and a new interpretation of an “old” ingredient. Last year, we had the Apple-Rutabaga soup from the Inn at Little Washington. It’s a great way to use traditional ingredients in a new way and definitely a winner.

I think Jon is doing something new with potatoes this year. Maybe next year we can try something new with the green bean casserole. The “death by broccoli” comes from a friend from the mid-West. It was an instant hit with the family when we had it nine years ago. The ingredient list (except for the broccoli) is totally evil but it’s so delicious that we allow ourselves to eat it once a year. Indian pudding is an old New England recipe that comes from a mouldering cookbook that my mother gave me many years ago.

So you can see every part of our dinner has a story. Tradition for us is the evolution of experience and experimentation. It would be so much easier if it were intelligent design but not nearly as much fun.



Thanksgiving is approaching and I’ll bet you have a turkey lurking in your refrigerator or freezer. I’ve always been afraid of frozen turkeys. What if you don’t get it thawed in time? Or what will happen to your friends and family if you leave it out on the counter to defrost? My mom always left it out to thaw and, horrors of horrors, even stored it in the fridge with the stuffing inside. We all survived.

At our house, though, turkey is not the main event. It’s really the sides that are the stars. At the barest minimum, we must have 2 greens, 2 oranges and 2 whites. And, of course, cranberry relish and crescent rolls. For a dessert, Indian Pudding with ice cream is a must. So this year to complement our sausage stuffing stuffed turkey thighs and gravy, Sarah will be making apple-rutabaga soup (Thank you Aunt Peg for this delicious new addition to our Thanksgiving), crescent rolls, and cranberry relish. Jon will be making green bean casserole and potatoes of some sort. John and I will be making the turkey, death by broccoli, creamed onions and chipotle sweet potato gratin. Oh, and the Indian Pudding and maybe rutabagas because we love them so much.

It’s really impossible to take more than a spoonful of everything without exploding but the leftovers are wonderful!

What’s special dishes do you have on Thanksgiving?



After I got hacked, I said to Sarah that maybe my time as a blogger was over. I actually have a month or so to go on my year’s present,but perhaps the hack was a cosmic sign that it’s time to quit. She vehemently said no. A person’s blog is supposed to have legs, as they say. So I guess I’ll keep on thinking up things to write about. Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with a topic but, in my opinion, given the current life and times of the U.S., sometimes it’s amazingly easy.

Before marymom.com was violated, I had a few things on my mind. One was an adventure that John and I took on Sunday. It was just a short way from the house here, but amazingly beautiful. We took a dirt road and climbed a hill and, voila, an amazing vista of pink, red and white rock. What a picnic site! Then we discovered Cedar Pocket which is akin to a small Grand Canyon. Here’s a few pictures. It’s impossible to really capture the scale.

Second, I see that the United States Postal Service is raising the first-class rate to $0.39 in January. They are just not making enough money. Of course, the higher they raise the rate, the more people will email and the more they email, the less money USPS will make and so they will have to raise the rate. Maybe they need to figure out where they can cut costs instead.

Third, I see Target’s financial prospects just took a hit. After many successive quarters of doing well, they are seeing a slowing of revenue. Could this be because in October, pro-choice women were notified about Target’s refusal to fill an emergency day after birth control pill? It was suggested that we send letters of protest and boycott Target. Maybe it had an effect.

Finally, in the let’s stick it to the taxpayer realm, a politically connected Alaskan-owned business received a $40 million no-bid contract for portable classrooms for Hurricane Katrina damaged areas of Mississippi. The classrooms cost FEMA nearly $90,000 each, including transportation, according to contracting documents. That’s double the wholesale price and nearly 60 percent higher than the price offered by two small Mississippi businesses dropped from the deal.

So I guess I still have things to write about.



Someone hacked into my site. They put up a picture of people in the street and said that it was too bad I didn’t have security. I manuevered my way around this by going into administration and it looks like everything is still here.

Why would anyone want to hack my site? Certainly if you want to impress lots of people with your hacker message, marymom.com is not the way to go.

So sorry for the inconvenience and I’ll try to get things back to normal tomorrow.



Earlier today my daughter, Sarah, alerted me to the fact that Bill O’Reilly had made some very unpleasant remarks about San Francisco. In the recent elections, San Franciscans had voted against military recruiting in public schools and to ban handgun ownership. O’Reilly thinks that SF should no longer receive federal funds over the military issue and perhaps just become its own country. Further, he suggested that every other place in the U.S. is off-limits to al Qaeda but that San Francisco is fair game.

Truly, many of us in northern California have thought about at least divorcing ourselves from southern California, but, be totally out of the U.S? Hmmm. Definitely we have an economy what with Silicon Valley, wine country and agriculture. And of course there’s the whole tourism industry. Perhaps we could really jack up the price of SF logo sweatshirts that the visitors need when they think it’s going to be warm here in the summer. Maybe we could get Oregon and Washington to go along with us. We could be our own little smug tolerant country out here on the west coast. But, of course, this will never happen.

O’Reilly speaks with hyperbole. The more outrageous the comment, the better. Just like we know that Jon Stewart doesn’t really believe that Vice-President Cheney is a emotionless, bloodsucking robot (yeah, I know, questionable), O’Reilly just wants people to react, maybe even think. I’m not saying that this is a guy worth listening to, just that when it comes to over-the-top comments, you always have to consider the source.