pen rainbow

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sunday—Why I'm #StillWithHer

I was with her in 2008, and I'm still with her


Since 2008

It's very unlike me to express my political views.  

It's not something I do very often, mainly because a discussion about politics usually leads to a flaming argument.  I am a firm believer that no one has the right to harsh my mellow because he or she feels the need to vent his or her own personal brand of political frustration.    

The bumper sticker mentality of posting political memes on Facebook is lazy and cowardly.  I don't do it, and I think that anyone who does, should be ready and willing to explain exactly what they mean.  I'm not talking about cute kittens and inspirational sunsets.  I'm talking about graphics that express an extreme political point of view in an in-your-face and often oversimplified manner designed to provoke a response. 

If you post bias, then be ready to defend it.  Elevate the dialogue to a thoughtful exchange of ideas, if at all possible.  Something more than, "If you agree, then share this!"  

Otoh, I like talking about laws and how they are made.  I enjoy the long, arduous process that brings people together and forges agreement out of raw and frequently divergent discourse.  I love the determination, the skill, and the willingness to work in an imperfect system.  It is civilized government in action and an opportunity to affect change for the better.

I am drawn to leadership when I see it.  It is a personal quality that resonates with me, especially in women.  Based on my experience, it is simply harder as a women to get past all of the labels assigned to strong women.  It's an impossible situation.  Express your strength as a man, and those qualities are generally perceived as positive.  Express your strength as a woman in exactly the same manner, and those qualities are guaranteed to be perceived by more than a few as threatening.  

Now that I'm 58, I understand the familiar dynamic.  Smile more.  Soften yourself.  Assert, but don't assert too much.  Read the room; figure out how much to say before they start to hear nagging.  Keep it short and sweet, like an old family friend.  Turn down the emotion, but exude nun-like devotion.  Frankly, this is a skill that I admire because it does not come naturally to me.  I run my flag up the pole and see who salutes.  If no one salutes, then I go back and figure out a new approach.  I am task oriented, which takes away from the niceness factor when I'm focused on planning and doing.

"I get it that some people just don't know what to make of me."  ~Hillary Clinton

This was an interesting statement in her acceptance speech at the Democratic convention.  It's a pretty fierce declaration coming from someone who has spent her entire adult life in public service.  That was her saying, "I know that some people don't like me.  But, judge me by my accomplishments, on what I can do."  

She's right, some people don't know what to make of her.  It is hard to communicate ideas when your audience is thinking about how frumpy or how stylish you look that day.  Or, how much makeup you have on.  Or, the tone of your voice as you present ideas that may not land squarely with everyone.  

Sure, everybody noticed the sleeping opossum draped over The Donald's head and Bernie's Stay-Off-My-Grass, curmudgeony style.  But, those less than complimentary attributes became part of their overall personas, and the public embraced them.  If Hillary had shown up with even the slightest hint of a wild animal on her head or a touch of Bernie's political rancor, she would have been perceived as unfit for the office of the presidency.   

It's exhausting and frustrating, and she's had to put up with it all of her adult life.  But, as her party's nominee for President of the United States, she publicly acknowledged that she is not the most popular girl at the dance.  It was a risky move, but quintessentially who she is.  

It does not matter if she's cute or not.  It matters that she made the choice to spend her life in the arena of community service doing work that is mostly thankless along the way.  I dare anyone to spend a year doing the kind of work that she has done.  I'm pretty sure that most of us would say, "To Hell with this!  I'm going back to my cozy life."  And, she never had the option of walking away from failure by declaring bankruptcy.  It simply did not apply to the type of work that she was doing.

#StillWithHer because she has always been an advocate for families and children, and she has devoted her life to this cause.  She recognized decades ago that the rights of children need protection from a system that fails to meet the needs of all children.  It is something that she is passionate about, among other things that affect all of us.  

#StillWithHer because she has spent her life in public service.  It's not fun, and it's not nice.  It is the kind of work that most of us choose not to do.  She is driven, and she never gives up, even when others tell her that she should quit and go home.  

#StillWithHer  For every little girl who has ever been told to be quiet and stop causing and listen, girls.  Hillary's a pretty great example of how to get things done when the odds are against you.

#StillWithHer because she chose a running mate who is a civil rights lawyer.  Tim Kaine is the right man to stand up to the insidious wave of bigotry and racism that has managed to sneak back into our lives.  I, for one, am sick of it.  Tim Kaine is the right man in the right place at the right time to help lead by example and give people the courage to speak up against intolerance and bigotry.  

#StillWithHer because she was part of the team who got Osama bin Laden...and she has the experience to deal with future terrorism.  This job alone would keep most people awake at night, but she has the knowledge and the experience to manage the responsibilities of the presidency, as well as the personal fortitude and the diplomatic skills to deal with global terrorism.  Donald Trump is cracking under the pressure of the campaign trail, and he is an embarrassment to our nation.     

#StillWithHer because she has the best resumé for the job.  Bottom line, she is the most qualified candidate.   

• Clinton • Kaine • 2016 • 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

#TBT—Nauvoo Nelsons

Steve's grandmother on his father's side

Verna Hohl Nelson

We think that her name was Americanized from "Vernet" to Verna.  Her high school name card is Vernet. 

Verna was the daughter of Louis E. Hohl & Odille N. Nicaise.  They were married in Nauvoo, Illinois, on 17 June 1890.

Louis E. Hohl was the son of John Hohl.  John was born 14 Jan 1815 in Zimmerschrode Dorf, Hessen, Germany

—and Elizabeth Rhuland, b. 22 Nov 1822 in Schoenstein, Hessen, Germany  

Odille was the daughter of Gabriel Nicaise.  Gabriel was born  25 Dec 1823 in France (as were his parents)

—and Rose Brunot, b. 30 Aug 1832 in France.  

Gabriel & Rose married on 2 Nov 1853 and arrived in Nauvoo in 1854 by way of New Orleans.

The name "Rose" was passed on to our daughter, Caralee, from my great-grandmother, Rose Moser, and from Steve's great-great-grandmother, Rose Brunot. 

• know • your • history •

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wednesday—Good forYou, Good forThe Patio Furniture

This was part of the repairs we made after our neighbor's oak tree smashed our gazebo last March & landed on top of our patio set.  Miraculously, the glass top survived!

I used Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch 2X Ultra Cover Paint + Primer_Kona Brown to give the table & chairs a new look.  

I like this paint because it is a primer + paint in one, and it has a gloss finish.

I used 3 cans of spray paint, about $5 a can from Home Depot + $5 for the adhesive = $20 cost of restoration.


The rim of this table was knocked loose from the glass & the legs underneath.
The glass top was not removable because the rim was soldered around the glass for a tight fit. 

I masked the glass top-side and underneath


The entire surface of the glass top was sprayed underneath.  I decided to spray the underside of the glass because the leg struts were slightly warped, and it was impossible to spray evenly between the struts and the tabletop.  The glass top of the table was reattached to the rim with outdoor silicone adhesive.  A 30-year old patio set looks like new!  

Available at Home Depot

• restore • reuse • revive •


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tuesday's Cupboard—Roasted Summer Veggies

When toms & squash is plentiful

Roasted Veggies

ready for the oven

Set oven to 450°F

In a large bowl, toss...

2 pints of heirloom cherry toms
one large, cut-up yellow or zucchini squash
and 1 T. of chopped garlic with a couple of splashes of extra-virgin olive oil.  

Season with 1 tsp. each of dried or fresh thyme, marjoram, oregano & rosemary

Add 2 tsp. of cracked black pepper & 1 tsp. kosher salt; toss until well coated

Distribute evenly in a single layer on a Silpat-lined cookie sheet.  

Roast for 20-25 minutes until tomatoes are bursting & veggies begin to brown.

Remove & toss with hot whole-grain spaghetti.  Top with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Bon Appétit! 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sunday—Tahoe Summer

A quick weekend trip to the condo

Northstar in July

Martis Meadow

Lots of wildflowers!
Wild daisies

No neighbors & no bears

Coming home on 80
Lots of traffic after Sacto

• keep • tahoe • blue •

Thursday, July 21, 2016

#TBT River Hill Soliloquy

by Clarence Mitchell © 1986

River Hill Soliloquy

A gift from the author & family friend, Clarence Mitchell

to Steven...

The "M" Club:  Lifelong friends, the Mills, Manns, Mitchells & McNetts
They met for breakfast regularly at the cottage on the farm.

"I do hope that you will find enjoyment and escape from some of the harsher realities of contemporary life as you read River Hill Soliloquy."  

--Clarence Mitchell

11 jan 1907 - 12 jan 2009

• share • history •

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Good for You, Good For Your Canning Supplies

For home canners

Colorful Canning

Check out these colorful limited edition canning jars & lids from Ball!

Lavender, blue & red lids & pretty blue half-pint jars!

Keep an eye out for these at Safeway, Target & Ace Hardware

• joyful • canning •

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tuesday's Cupboard—Banh Mi Dogs

Hot dogs with a Vietnamese twist

Banh Mi Dogs

Adapted from Bon Appétit July 2016

Caspers footlong hotdogs in steamed buns
with homemade peanut satay sauce, pickled carrots, fresh cilantro & harissa red pepper sauce

Equipment:  Large pasta or soup pot with a shallow steamer basket *

*  If you don't have a shallow steamer basket, zap the buns in the microwave or wrap them in foil & heat them in the oven for about 8 minutes on 350°F.


peanut satay sauce 
  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup lite coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 2 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. Thai fish sauce (available at Safeway)
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

In a 1 cup glass measuring cup, mix together all ingredients & set aside.

pickled carrots
  • 1  10-oz. bag of shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 T. fine white sugar
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

In a small bowl, add rice vinegar, sugar & salt to the carrots.  Toss & set aside.

  1. Put the hotdogs in a large pot with an insertable steamer basket & cover with water.  Place buns in the steamer basket & cover.  It's okay to layer them, as long as the buns are not too squished by the lid.  As the hotdogs cook, the steam will heat the buns.  
  2. Over medium-hi heat, bring the pot to a boil with the lid on.  Turn off the heat as soon as the pot starts to boil & remove from the heat.  Don't overcook, or you'll have squishy, wet buns.
  3. Remove the hot buns & open them up on serving plates.
  4. Drizzle 3 T. of satay sauce on the inside of each bun.  Add the hotdogs.  Drizzle a little more over the dogs.
  5. Layer on pickled carrots & torn cilantro.
  6. For heat, glop on a couple of teaspoons of harissa red pepper paste, or add sliced red bell peppers.  
  7. Drizzle a little more satay sauce down the middle of each hotdog & serve immediately.

bon appétit!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday Finances—When to Stop Giving Money to Adult Children

I'm not an expert.  I'm just paying attention.

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be; 
for loan oft loses both itself and friend, 
and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry."  

~Polonius to his son, Laertes — Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3

lifelong financial management

Empty Nest & Beyond

  • Only 21% of workers are confident that they'll have enough money to live comfortably in retirement.  Employee Benefit Research Institute's Retirement Confidence Survey 2016 
  • 26% of workers have less than $1,000 in savings & investments that could be used for retirement (not counting primary residence and workplace benefits, e.g. pensions).  —EBRI RCS 2016 
  • 54% of workers have less than $25,000 in savings & investments that could be used for retirement (not counting primary resident and traditional work benefits. —EBRI RCS 2016 
  • Fidelity's Benefits Consulting Services estimated that the average healthcare cost for a couple, both age 65, who retired in 2015 would be $245,000, up from $220,000 in 2014.  (Based on life expectancies of 85 years for men & 87 years for women.)
  • Less than half (48%) of workers report that they &/or their spouses have ever tried to calculate how much money they will need in savings to live comfortably in retirement.  That means that more than half of us choose not to address the issue. 
  • The proportion of workers, including spouses, who have saved anything at all for retirement is now at 69%.  —EBRI, RCS 2016

Sources & Discussion

Craig Copeland, Senior Research Associate & co-author of the EBRI Retirement Confidence Survey — Comments

Matthew Greenwald of Greenwald & Associates — Comments

To Give or Not to Give to Adult Children?

That is the question.  Here's the uncomplicated answer:

It's up to you as long as the financial support that you provide for someone else does not impair your own financial well being.  

It's as simple as that.  

Other important things to consider...

1.  Bailing someone out financially does not provide them with the experience and the expertise needed to manage their own financial affairs and live independently for the rest of their lives.

2.  Parents are not a bank.  Advise adult children to consult with a financial advisor to review their finances and come up with a realistic financial plan going forward.  Redirect them to professionals who are qualified to give sound financial advice.  Allow grown children to step into their adult roles and make their own private financial decisions.

3.  A promissory note or other legal document is no guarantee that a loan will be repaid.  Money matters are emotional, especially between parents and children.  Stay out of the crosshairs and refer them to a loan officer at a bank.

4.  Give love and support.  Not money.  Being indebted to a parent not only skews the value of earned money, but it blurs the line between love and obligation.  Money is not a substitute for love.  Banks dispense currency, employers dispense paychecks, and aging parents dispense memories, home cooking, and concern.  Go to the right place for money.  

• manage • your • money • wisely •

Thursday, July 14, 2016

#TBT—BC Condo Then & Now

1981 & 2016


My gramma's new condo under construction
Her brother-in-law, Vern Stockall & one of Vern's daughter's boyfriends

Back yard next to the parking lot
Before the balcony was built
That's my dad's sailboat sticking through the parking cover

Front yard facing the street

Gramma walking around in her new yard


35 years later

front yard facing the street

"Museum" palo verde planted in March 2016

French lavender

white rose in memory of my dad & gramma Pearle

front porch

 Original white pom tree...
This tree was a Mother's Day gift in 1982 to my grandmother from my
cousin, Bryant Hess.  He was a student working in the botany lab at UNLV,
and this was an experimental plant.

• remember • your • history •

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tuesday's Cupboard—Lemony Spiked Sweet Tea

Inspired by Martha Stewart online

Lemony Spiked Sweet Tea

Original recipe from "Emeril at the Grill"
by Emeril Lagasse


Brewed ice tea maker
2 quart-size canning jars
2 straws
2 bags of ice

For summer evenings on the porch

  • 6 bags of Stash orange-spice tea
  • 2 cups Safeway Signature Orange-Peach-Mango refrigerated juice
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 4 shots Bacardi 151 golden rum
  • sugar to taste
  • fresh mint sprigs
  • cinnamon sticks
  • sliced oranges & lemons

Orange spiced black tea

make it!
  1.  Brew a pitcher of iced tea using the 6 tea bags of Stash orange-spice tea.
  2.  Fill 2 quart-size jars half full of ice.
  3.  Fill each jar half full of ice tea.
  4.  Add 1/2 cup of fruit juice to each drink + a splash of lemon juice (about 1/8 cup).
  5.  Add 2 shots of rum to each drink.
  6.  Top off with fruit juice & tea.
  7.  Taste for sweetness.  Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar, if desired. 
  8.  Add sliced oranges & lemons.  Stuff a sprig of fresh mint into each drink.
  9.  Swirl with a cinnamon stick & serve with a straw.

There is no substitute for freshly brewed ice tea!

Also great as a non-alcoholic summer drink!

• long • summer • days •

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday—Have a Constructive Week!

We are building a new handrail for the gazebo that was squished by our neighbor's oak tree in March — our first weekend of construction


Putting up the posts

set in steel brackets

center posts are up

frames on two sides

We will add the posts next weekend

Rose of Sharon next to the gazebo

The pink flowers turn blue as they age

• build • something • wonderful •

Thursday, July 7, 2016

#TBT—National Park Vacations

Visiting the national parks 1993 & 1995 — pix from our travels


photo by dsmp




photo by dsmp


a sacred place

south dakota

zak & steve 95

idaho, montana, wyoming

old faithful

south dakota

washington, jefferson, roosevelt & lincoln
photo by dsmp


cliff houses


jimmy  steve  zakky  troi  caralee  catherine  2otherkids  1993

• celebrate • nps • 100 • years •