Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The not-so-distance past ..........

So .. I'll admit it.  I am middle aged.

OK -- I do have an AARP card!  And I readily accept the senior discount at Hancock and Jo-Ann Fabric stores!

I am middle-aged for my family.  We may be short but we are extremely long-livers!! Three out of four grandparents were almost 90 or older when they past away.  I had 4 or so great-grandparents over the age of 90 when they died. 

So .. I'll be around for a long time haunting you with my actions and beliefs.  (Did you like that segue to Halloween??????  That's the most Halloween you will get out of me!!!  Don't come here for chocolate .... it disappeared!)

So I remember a different life and a different time.

I remember a time when single women could not get birth control with their medical insurance.  That was a benefit for married women only.  If then!!!!!

I remember a time when a married woman could not get a department store credit card without her husband's signature.

I remember a time when a woman's money ... even in a separate account ... belonged to her husband.

I remember a time when women could be dismissed from a job because they were pregnant.  Of course, that was a self-induced illness!!  Oh yes .... and the public really couldn't know you were pregnant!

I remember a time without maternity leave or job guarantee when you returned.

I remember a time when women trained men for a job ... only to see the men make 35 cents an hour more than the woman.

I remember a time when career choices were much narrower ... secretary, beautician, teacher and nurse.  Oh yea .... and the most sought after degree .... Mrs.

I remember a time when a woman wanted to go to a school event ....... they weren't working like a man would work.  But if the man wanted to go to the same school event .... What great fathers they were.

I remember a time when sexual harassment was swept under the rug ... because Boys will be Boys.

I'm old enough to remember that stuff.  And old enough not to want my daughters to go through that again!

So I just have to share my favorite USA-made campaign paraphernalia.

Finally!!!!!  Someone is thinking about me!!!!! 

Works great on those damn hot flashes!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thoughtful Giving ..................

With Tropical Storm Sandy tearing up the eastern seaboard, many of us will get phone solicitation to donate money to relief efforts.

I just received a phone call from the Cancer Fund of America.  Not to be confused with the American Cancer Society.

I asked what percentage of my donation would go to administration costs.

I was told ..... with my first donation ... 5 cents of every dollar goes to individual cancer needs.  Which means 95% goes to administration costs. 

If I would continue to pledge and donate .... those administration costs would go down to 80%.


Be smart with your giving ....ask the questions.  Google the organization.  There are going to be a lot of people that will need your help.  Let's make sure it gets to them.

As we said in the '60s ......... Question Authority.

Friday, October 26, 2012

One done!

OK .....  We will resume our previously scheduled life.

In future days, I will talk about the thrill of giving the field pitch for volunteers at President Obama's visit and rally in Davenport.  But this is not a political blog and I don't want it going that direction.

This is a blog about our lives ... which does include politics and community activism..... but it sure isn't everything in our lives.

So you can take a seat now and enjoy the rest of this post.



You can sit down.

Ta -- Da!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes .... you can applaud now!!!

Honey finished this chair.  My chair is going a little slower.  (I wonder why!)

And here is a close up shot of the binding.

I think he did an awesome job!

We have 12 more chairs to do ... counting the one I am working on..... but we will be tag-teaming them through out the winter.

And next spring ... you will find us in the next caning class at Scott Community College.  Sherill was an excellent instructor and made the process so easy!!!

I'm pretty certain we will not have all twelve done by them.

Oh ... yea.

You can get up from the chair now.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Saying yes ..................

Boy ... the telephone and my in-box have been full of some exciting requests lately.  And most are so good, I had to say YES!!!! to them. 

So much for slowing down!!!!

The first ... has to be one of my all-time favorite events.  I was asked to bake desserts for "Wine into Water".

This is an amazing event that raises money for fresh water wells in Africa.  It is organized by Leslie and Tess and for four years now ... it has been spectacular!  It is November 10th on the 3rd floor of the River Music Experience in downtown Davenport. 

The venue is magical ... the food is delicious .... and the cause is so important.  And I am in awe ... how many lives can be changed forever with so little money.  Watch this and learn.  And then come and enjoy wonderful food, wine and music for such a worthy cause.

Next on the request agenda .... is the Illinois Master Gardener Nursery School.  It will be held on Feb 16, 2013 at the I Wireless Center in Moline.  This is the 17th year for the event. 

If you garden, want to garden, or just like to think of gardening (and in February ... sometimes, we need to think of something green!)  you will want to check out this event.

I was asked to teach two sessions this year.  Both will be the same, so you will only want to hear me rattle on once!!  In the past, I have taught a cooking session. 

But this year ..... wait for it!!! ........ I get to teach a cut flower class! 

Who knew I could do that?????

Then request number 3.  Again from the Illinois Master Gardeners.  The next statewide Master Gardener Conference will be held in Moline at the I Wireless center in September 19, 2013.  They spend a day touring local businesses and venues .... and Miss Eff's is on the list!!!

Which is super cool for me ... since I went to the University of Illinois!  Oske-wa-wa!!!!

And finally .... I got a call on Saturday afternoon from our local Obama for President headquarters.  I was asked if I would be willingly to give the field pitch (for volunteers) at the President's rally in Davenport on Wednesday. 

After I jumped up and down several times!!!!!! ...... I said YES!!!!!! 

My speech has been submitted.  It is currently being edited.  I think vetting by the Secret Service is complete.  (I was vetted in August for the photo opportunity in the last post)  But there are lots of details that I don't know yet.  This may all fall apart ..... so cross your fingers for me!!!!!

I am excited.  I am nervous.  And as you can see by the photo on the previous post ... I must be extremely short!

And regardless of your political beliefs ... you have to admit ... it is super cool to be in the opening act for the President of the United States of America!!!

So some super cool stuff is happening at Miss Eff's .... and that is just the tip of the iceberg!!!  I'll be back with more updates in a few days ... or next week. 

If my heart can take all the excitement!!!! ;)

Monday, October 22, 2012

POTUS and FLOTUS ...............

and Miss Eff.........

Boy! Is that gal in the middle really that short????

I told you my mouth would be open!  I, of course, never stopped talking!

It was a thrill of a lifetime .... the chance to get my picture taken with the President and the First Lady of the United States of America.  A magical day ........

And it happened to an old gal from a little bitty town in Western Illinois.


My life rocks!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Knocking on doors ...................

As most of you know .... I'm sort of political. 

Sort of.

And I have volunteered when I could. 

I've given speeches.  I've spoken at  press conferences.  I've written letters to the editor.  I've done interviews. 

I've sent out persuasion letters.  I've made phone calls.  I've passed out cookies at early voting.  I've hosted events.

But I rarely canvass. 

Yesterday I did.

And it was difficult.

Not the job.  The job of knocking on doors ..... that is easy.

The emotions are difficult.

I cried ........ a lot.

I met some of the most courageous women ever.  Women that were struggling to get through the day, the week, the month.

Every single one of them were struggling with personal health issues.  And the devastation to the family that comes with the fatigue, the pain and expenses.

One family .... the husband has what we would all consider a good middle class income.  Stable job -- has been there over 20 years -- works for a company with good insurance.

But her rare genetic disease has her taking chemotherapy every three weeks.  And that treatment costs $14,000 for each round.  And she has to pay $4000 out-of-pocket ...... every three weeks.  

That is 10% of the median Iowa income.

Every three weeks.

With insurance.

And its not a curable disease ... hopefully, manageable.  This will go on ..... for as long as she lives.

I have no answers.  No suggestions.  No move to action.


Nothing but tears.

Yesterday ... in a little bitty rural area ... I met three women struggling for all the same reason.  Hard-working Americans devastated by medical debt and issues.  And I don't know what to do or what can be done.

But I do know this .......... every politician in America should drive down a narrow gravel road and knock on the door.  Be greeted by a barking dog and a grandchild in their jammies at noon.  Move the stack of magazines, books, and mail off the seat of the chair.  Scoot aside the dishes from last night's supper ... and talk.

Obviously, its not a hard task to do .... its easy to find those people.  I found three families in under 3 hours.

Its far more difficult to walk away.

And I dare you to do it without crying.

We are spending millions and millions of dollars on election ads.  


And for what?????  So the super-pacs can have their say in Washington????

We have struggled with medical debt for years.  We still are.  But we may run out of money two days before pay day.  We don't run out of money on pay day. 

I'll be driving down that narrow gravel road again.  I just wish the politicians would join me.

Monday, October 15, 2012


As many of you may know, I grew up in a very small town.

It was a very stable town.  People didn't move a lot. Not a lot of new people moving in to town.  Not a lot of people moving out.  If you were there .... you stayed there.

So -- the people I went to kindergarten with were the same people that were in my class when we graduated ... 12 years later.

Saturday night was our 40th class reunion.


I know .... I look so very youthful! (Now where did I put that sarcasm font???)

Going to the reunion was a struggle.

Yes, really!!!!

You know, I can do a tv interview in a matter of minutes.  Ask me to speak before 100 people ... I am there!  Meet the President and the First Lady ... easy!!!  Talk to strangers ... never a problem! Host an event for 400-500 people on the farm ... may be a little more juggling but I can do it!!!!

Go to a dinner with 20 people that I have known for 50+ years ..... anxiety sets in big time!

It also didn't help that my barber offered to dye my hair ........... for free. 

But these two wonderful friends ... got me there.  Of course, it did take an afternoon pick-me-up phone call and a glass of wine.  Liquid strength.

And several beers through out the evening.  ;)

I have to confess something .... I had 3-1/2" high heeled boots on.  And I was still the shortest one there!!!

But talking and catching up with old friends was fun ... I did have a good time.

Thomas Wolfe may have been wrong .... you can go home again.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Project Progress .............

If you have read this blog for more than than 2 minutes, you may have discovered that Honey and I are ..... project people.

Yep .... we are those people that don't just do things .... we have projects.

Lots. of. projects.

Seriously .... it is a disease.

We start out the year .... every year .... with a list. 

A very looooooooooooooong list.

Now .... some things .... get done on the list. 

Some things get deleted. 

But other things are added.  We would hate for there to be a blank spot on the list.

So .... here is an update on the list!

Honey's big project is the re-do of the east side of the house.  It includes removing the siding, repairing any necessary gaps, holes or rotting wood.  After that ... he removes and replaces the tar paper.  Then he goes into the rip, sand, prime, repeat mode.

He is also scraping paint off the bay window in preparation of restoring and rebuilding the bay window so we can highlight its decorative features.

I need to be re-thinking the 5 color paint scheme .... we need to highlight the brackets and the sawtooth trim more than I had originally planned.  The bay is the main decorative feature of Classic-L Queen Anne Victorian farmhouses.  It really needs to stand out ... yet be ................... well, classic!

But the main victory this weekend came with the new siding between the second floor windows.

This was one of those projects that I had to ignore the fact that Honey was on the roof of the bay.  He was concentrating on removing the siding, adding the tar paper, putting new siding up in the frigid 50 degree temps ..... all while holding on for dear life!!!!

We may be project people .... but neither one of us like ladders!!!!!!

So down on the ground ....

We decided to tackle ................. chairs.

I have this love affair with .......... chairs.  Old chairs.  Cute chairs.  Just lonely ... one of a kind chairs. 

Some people drag home dogs and cats.  Me.............. I drag home chairs.

We have talked about caning for years.  And we just didn't get the job started. 

Fortunately, Scott Community College has a class in caning and Honey and I signed up.

Honey is working on the chairs with the round seats ..... we have 3 of those.

Then I am working on these ................. there are four of these.

So along with my little nest of knitting, spinning, embroidery projects that fill the vacant spaces around me on the sofa .......................... I now have a chair project!!!!!

At least by the end of the week ................ I'll have some place to set my butt!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Half the Sky ............

It was a hot summer evening when I loaded my 1975 Ford LTD with my two-year old daughter and all my earthly possessions.

My clothes were packed in garbage bags.  Sarah's car seat was wedged between a gigantic asparagus fern and an ancient black and white television set from Kresge's.

It was the day before my 26th birthday.

I was leaving a physically and an emotionally abusive marriage.  I was trying to save my life and the life of my daughter.  If I didn't leave then .... I may never get the chance again.  I had to go.

I had no job.

I had no home of my own.

I had no money.

I was lucky ... I had incredible support from my parents... a place to stay and help with my daughter.  I had an education and a good work ethic.

And I had one good dress.

I can still see it ... pinstripe.  Black and white and I wore it with a black blazer on the cool days when a sleeveless dress wouldn't work.

And I wore that dress everyday I walked the mall ...searching for a job.

I was lucky ... ten days later I was employed and set to go to training.

But I had the dress.  And I felt powerful, strong, smart and capable in the dress.  It must have been magical  because underneath the dress, was a scared and scarred young woman that had no clue what was next for her and her daughter.  She had no idea of the internal pain and self-doubt that resided in her psyche from those  few short years of abuse.  She just knew she needed a job to survive.

If you have watched the PBS series Half the Sky, you saw  what economic freedom can do for women across the world.

My friend Kim is doing something locally.  Here is the invite.....

You are invited:
to a fall sign-making workshop with the fabulous Jen from Onion Grove Mercantile. Her custom, hand-painted signs live in homes and business across the country and have even been featured in FOLK magazine. (And more importantly, one of her masterpieces lives in Henry's nursery.)
At this workshop, Jen will walk you through making a fun, fall sign for your home. We'll start with reclaimed barn board and paint, and you will go home with your own work of art that night. Several autumn designs will be available to choose from.
Fall snacks and drinks will be provided, along with great raffle prizes and goodie bags for all attendees.
In lieu of a cost for the workshop, please consider a donation to Dress for Success Quad Cities. 100 percent of donations go to the organization, which empowers women toward economic stability by providing them with business-appropriate clothing, mentoring and professional development programs.
When: Thursday, Oct. 11, 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: Fireworks Coffee House, 2139 16th Street, Moline
Please RSVP (yes or no) online here. (When you RSVP, you will have the opportunity to donate to Dress for Success online through a secure PayPal transaction. Remember - all supplies will be provided. There is no cost to make the sign, get your goodie bag, or enjoy fall treats.)
Also, feel free to invite your friends and family. Forward this invite to other women you think would be interested in making their own decorative signs, meeting other women and helping Dress for Success Quad Cities. The more, the merrier! (Please ask friends to RSVP if they plan to attend so I can be prepared with enough supplies.)
About One Night. One Mission.
One Night. One Mission. is a new fundraising event. Dress for Success Quad Cities and Dress for Success Des Moines have chosen this one night to spread the word about the good work Dress for Success is doing for the women in the QC's, across Iowa, and in 120+ cities around the world. We have provided professional attire for over 75 Quad City women and with your financial help we will not only clothe more women but also put programs into place to help them retain their jobs and provide ongoing support and guidance so they can become self-sufficient and successful in their careers. The women that come through our doors are transformed by the possibilities they see before them. We see them leave with a smile on their face, a lift in their step, a boost in their confidence and a glitter in their eyes. You can be part of this wonderful experience!

Unfortunately, I can not attend this event but I donated already.  You can, too. 
Because out there ... there is a 26 year-old woman that is scared out of her mind, looking for a job.  

Help her get a magical dress.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Working from home ...........

You know, working from home always sounds like one of those great dream jobs.

You dream of working  in your jammies, drinking coffee all morning, leisurely go to lunch with friends ... and knocking off early for the day.

Or you can come down to reality and face the true music of working from home.  Which I am certain is Ride of the Valkyries'.  You know ... the soundtrack of impending doom because you are trying to cram 16 hours worth of work into 8.

I have talked about this before.  But yet, I still know people that just. don't. get. it. 

I may not have to leave my driveway.  I may not have to wear high heels.  I may not have to pack my lunch, punch a time clock or say, "Yes, sir!" to my boss.

But I still have a job ... I still have set hours ... and I still have projects, to-do lists and customers to greet.

From June until October ... I am here 5 days a week ... hopefully, smiling when you pull in the driveway.  And you expect to see me here ... on the days and times I say that I am open.  And when you drive in after hours .... I greet you and let you walk through the property.

It is October and hours will be a little more variable.  I'm going to have a leisurely lunch with my girlfriends.  I'm going to spend a day with my Honey.  I'm taking and teaching a few classes. We will still have hours in the Summer Kitchen that will be posted on Facebook on a daily basis.

But I will still work from home.  And it is work.

This is my living ....

This is my life ....


I just have a better view out my office window!