Thursday, June 30, 2011

Better Red Than Dead - by Patty Mooney

Just back from a trip to Michigan to celebrate a few occasions with my family. My mom turned 90 so we threw her a big party at St. Pat's in Detroit, complete with a video documentary about her that I edited, and a couple of sets by The Root Doctor Band, in which my brother-in-law, Freddie, is the lead singer. A friend of my mom convinced her to go red for the big shindig, and my mom, after at least three decades of sporting a silver do, shocked most party-goers by arriving in a short red mohawk.

The Root Doctor Band delighted the crowd of 100 or so people who had come to help Magi celebrate, even soaring on a departure from their normal blues itinerary - one of Magi's favorite songs, "New York, New York." Many of the attendees were family, of course, and friends Magi has known for decades. They all love her timeless wisdom, her unflagging activism and her love for Detroit, the city where she was born.

While visiting Michigan, Mark and I enjoyed a fun-filled weekend, including an evening in Windsor with our friends Michael and Kathleen, and a Tigers game at Tiger Stadium on Sunday. I happened to have a small container of my brother, Joe's, ashes, and after the Tigers soundly spanked the D-backs (scoring 7 points in one inning, and none of them a home run - Wow!) I joined a long parade of kids who after the game ended, were allowed onto the field to run the bases, and I spilled Joe's ashes at second base, while high-fiving the Tigers mascot, Paws.

That's me, after the "deed," departing the field (pun intended.) Joe would have enjoyed the idea of having some of his ashes spread at the stadium for the irreverance (Joe was "Born to Be Wild!") but also because Tiger Stadium is in the heart of Detroit, where he spent a lot of time as a teen growing up into a man.

On the following day, Monday, we interred my dad's ashes at the Great Lakes National Cemetery for veterans in Holly, Michigan. I wrote about it at my other blog, Soldiers Heart in a post called "Goodbye Daddy."

On our last evening in town, the six "survivors" of our eight-member family posed for our traditional family portrait on the porch of our childhood home. Oh family, I am proud and honored to be a Mooney! Love 'n Hugs, Patty

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Exploring Vegetarianism - by Alyssa Johnson

Veterans Sustainable Agriculture TrainingImage by cleopatra69 via Flickr We have a guest writer today, Alyssa Johnson, who has provided this thoughtful piece about exploring the vegetarian lifestyle. Enjoy!

Life as a vegetarian can be equivalent to the dangers of a new, uncharted expedition. Adjusting to the ways of a vegetarian is tough. The world was not made for us. It's like being 7 feet tall, and having your apartment ceiling only reach the height of 6'6''. Along the way there will be various meats, providing more than enough temptation to stray away from the veggies that we love so much. Even if we can abstain from meats, there are always those foods that may or may not have meat inside them. Meat seems to always be at your doorstep, with no escape. Introducing new friends becomes troublesome. I feel a cringe every time I say, "Nice to meet you." Starting out as a vegetarian can be tough, but after you get used to it you will see the benefits almost immediately.

Venturing out into the grocery store can be troublesome. At first it seems easy enough. All you have to do is go to the produce section and pick out the freshest vegetables, right? Every variation of salad for weeks straight can start to get old. Next, things like bread, chips, muffins, and bagels seem to be the next best alternative. But these carb-stuffed snacks are a quick way to gain weight. The best thing I've found was to gather veggie-friendly recipes before you visit the supermarket. This ensures that you know what you are going for, and experimenting with new meals is always fun. What some people do not know is that there are always alternatives to meat for vegetarians. Veggie burgers, hot dogs, sausage patties and even turkey for Thanksgiving. Try them; they all taste great!

Once you have the grocery store figured out, a complication you may come across is dining out. The "dinner menu" at various restaurants is a vegetarian's nightmare. Giant burgers, racks of ribs, and chicken fingers are dotted all over the menu along with pictures. There are usually only a couple of things that you can order to stay true to your vegetarian roots. One of those meals is almost always a salad. They may have one other entree besides a gourmet salad that is veggie friendly, and you may not even like it. There really is no solution to this, except wisely selecting the restaurants where you dine. Beware, because you never know what is going into your food. That is the advantage of cooking at home. Successfully sticking to your vegetarian diet will also benefit your health.

Diving into a plate full of vegetables has endless health benefits. The first thing I noticed was almost an immediate increase in energy. I wasn't feeling sluggish, and I found the will to remain active more often and for longer periods of time. The vegetarian lifestyle also helped me to lower my blood pressure, and aided my digestion, too. All of these health benefits are most definitely worth finding the right foods to eat. The most important health benefit for me was improving the health of my skin. I have always struggled with acne, and the vegetables helped to control the oils my skin produced, clearing my skin in the process.

Vegetarian lifestyles are not for everyone. It is hard to find food in a meat-dominant world. On top of that, dining out can be a hassle. One thing is for sure, the health benefits are there, you just have to stick to the veggie diet, and you will see them. Why not try it? Explore the vegetarian in you if only for a month, and you will see all the things it can do for you!

Here are some of Alyssa's additional articles:

Everything You Need to Know About Cystic Acne

Why Beauty of Your Skin is a Reflection of Your Good Habits

Healthy Menu Selections When Dining Out

Alyssa's business website is: Acne Center

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Monday, June 20, 2011

San Diego, America's Finest City - A Video

After having traveled the world and having lived in about thirteen different places, I settled in San Diego which I personally believe is America's finest city. Of course there are other great places to be, but I always love coming home to San Diego.

This is a video I made recently for a client that shows off some of San Diego's finer aspects.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rattler, Ahhhhhh!

Mountain Biking GirlImage by cleopatra69 via Flickr This is a Haiku that came to me while mountain biking at Cuyamaca a couple of days ago. I did not spot a rattler this time, but when you are out on Southern California trails, you are always aware of the things that can "getcha:" deer flies, sunburn, heat stroke, poisonous spiders, scorpions, and rattle snakes. I was thinking that these dangers probably prevent a lot of urban dwellers from experiencing Nature at Her best. Well, I guess that's okay.... It separates the fearful from the adventurous.

Rattler, Ahhhhh!

A fat and sassy
rattler on the path. Ahhhhh! Ahhhhh!
Rattle, rattle. Ahhhhhh!

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Elegant Octopus - by Patty Mooney

Secretary's Day is officially celebrated in late April. But, like Mother's Day, it really should be acknowledged every day. Every secretary should be greeted by her boss with a rose in one hand, and a latte in the other, as a show of gratitude for the person who makes his work life livable.

I was just leafing through an old journal and found an entry I'd written 30 years ago about how it felt to be a secretary, after I'd left the profession to become a massage therapist (which is what I did prior to entering the field of video production). What's interesting about it is that the role of secretary has not really changed all that much in three decades, except for a more palatable title that now includes males who find themselves in the role of "Administrative Professional" or "Executive Admin." So with no further ado,...

There is no bigger nuisance to me than the telephone. For nearly ten years of my life I plowed the secretarial fields of boredom, redundancy and monotony, ever striving for better, always scheming to get somewhere else, out from behind that desk covered in papers and figures and runny ink pens and telephones. The funny thing about a telephone is that no matter how quiet it has been all day, the moment it begins to ring, two more lines will start buzzing as well. Everyone calls at once. And it's up to me to be the diplomat, the efficient receptionist, the elegant octopus. I have never been more disgusted with any employment as that of secretary, the most thankless job in the universe.

"Here, make two thousand copies of these reports, and copy on both sides of the page," is one directive that haunts me in nightmares to this day. "I will never never never ever find myself in that position again," I retort, and the black dream clouds lift and disperse, but never so far away that I would ever forget what it was like to be a secretary.

A boss is a boss is a boss. Female bosses can sometimes be a little better than male bosses, especially if the woman began her career at the bottom-most rung of the ladder, as somebody's "Girl Friday" - a term which calls to mind a modified Gauguin jungle girl with bared breasts holding a platter of coffee cups and a memo pad. Whatever else a girl Friday must do, the ever present memo pad lends credibility to her position, taking down someone else's notes. Came a time when I wanted to be the one giving notes, dictating into a recorder and having someone else type out my sage thoughts.

For some, secretarial work can be the first rung in the ladder leading up to psychosis, insanity and intense self loathing. I know it was this way with me. I kept feeling that there was something else out there for me. This is not to say that I didn't learn a lot of valuable information regarding filing systems, addressing envelopes, the proper way to answer a (choke) phone, how to write a striking business letter and how to market oneself. But after a few years, the lessons began to boomerang, laughing at me; at what expense these lessons, I began to wonder.

There is one day a year, "Secretary's Day," that was always an embarrassment to me. This is the one time in an entire fiscal year that a boss would remember who he's got out in the front office, minding the telephone and scraping together the coffee every morning. He might buy her a single long-stemmed rose, and/or take her out to lunch, filling that one hour sandwiched between two halves of grueling labor, with more business talk. Secretarying is one job that goes everywhere with you: to any restaurant in the city, to the bathroom when all you want to do is mend your makeup, and then home, to bed. There were times when, after a full eight-hour day of non-stop labor (even a coffee break is laborious), I would come home and dream of undergoing another eight-hour work day. Then I'd wake up and be faced with the same thing again, thus enduring 24 hours of work in a 36-hour period!

I never again want to:

-have a copy machine break down in my presence and begin smoking with the 72 reports that need to be copied and sent (today) going limp in my hands;

- be in charge of making coffee that half the members of the office consider mud and the other half think is like drinking watered-down ink;

- get "dealt on" by the boss. Although this happens in any profession, as a secretary it feels just a little more degrading and one almost believes that it may just be included in one's job duties. Filing, typing and making it with the boss.

Sometimes, between massage jobs, I think, "Well, I can always make some money as a temp typist" and it's a deadly thought. Sure, one can make some money, but think of the price. The new kid on the block is always the most belittled. If you are a new face at the front desk, the older, wiser employees assume they can drop anything into your in-box and you'll do it. You don't know any better. And they always delight to see if you can answer twenty lines on the phone at the same time as rub your tummy and scratch your head. Hello, catatonia!

I want to take this opportunity to thank some of my past bosses for all they have done for me: Thank you, Paul Stein, for teaching me the best method of filing: The boss stands there and hands the secretary each and every piece of paper to be filed and makes up categories on the spot. And thank you for mixing business with pleasure. The vacuuming, cooking and other assorted duties rounded out my meager secretarial existence. Thank you for your astute attraction to me and thanks for the Irish coffee. Thanks for your affection but the pay was not quite up to par. And having your bedroom located in the same setting as your business office was somewhat disconcerting.

Thank you, Nancy Jensen, for being my wisest instructor. You are the one who taught me how to follow my feelings. The times were up and down but I was never happier as anyone's secretary than as yours. You are the one who suggested I look into massage as a vocation, and I have never forgotten how we grew to respect one another for who we were, and for these things I still maintain a deep respect and love for you.

And finally, thank you, Fred Parks, for your business-like approach to business. You're the one who first took me on when no one else would, thus beginning my sweet and sour career as go-fer and go-between, my education in life from a secretary's viewpoint, the "school of hard knocks," as my dad would have put it.

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