H 46° L 30°
Cloudy | 7MPH

Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

What's with that?

It isn't easy, job hunt, Snarky

The kids have gone, leaving a too-quiet house and a nearly empty refrigerator. Our Thanksgiving was warm, loving, and caloric: I hope yours was too. And for possibly the first time, my driveway is the cleanest one on the block. Unemployment has to be good for something.

Still, my best Zenish-Quakerish lovingkindness seems a little depleted. I'm feeling cranky. So I invite you to join me in listing the what's-with-that irritations in your life.

What's with the couple in the matching outdoor bathtubs in the Cialis ad?

Vista. I have three words for you, Microsoft: control - alt - delete. Those Mac ads are so right.

Added Headline: Dow plunges as recession is declared. Erm, HELLO?! Where have you been?

Women's retail. This is Wisconsin, people. It's 60 degrees indoors and 20 outside. Semi-nakedness just doesn't work here this time of year. And the purpose of hats and gloves is to keep a body warm. I asked the clerk at Kohl's why we had to scavenge in the men's department to find something that might protect us from the elements. She smiled and said, "Oh, we get that all the time. But it's not fashionable." What's not fashionable? Having all your fingers left at the end of the day?
And if you "get that all the time," wouldn't you think there might be a market for it? If you aren't selling your stuff, could it be that it's not the right stuff? Listen to your customers: you can call it "market research," since "customer service" is mainly about illusions for most companies.
Finally, what's with electronic job applications? It sounds like a good idea, but most programs don't have a good way of letting applicants know where they stand. I found out that one of my applications hadn't made it to the department that was hiring, and since it was a job for which I was well qualified, I called the human resources department. An answering machine took my messages, but no one returned my calls. So I showed up in person to ask if there'd been a mistake. 

Read more

What a crock!


 I came late to the joys of crockpot cookery, but I'm a complete convert. Did you know you can make a passable carrot cake in one? Yep.

 Anyway, today is a crockpot-and-cupboard cleaning kind of day. Sendik's on North has angus beef stew meat and mushrooms on sale, so guess what's simmering right now? I'm heading out to walk the dog, but I thought you might like a stew recipe reminder. Nothing is more forgiving than stew, as long as you cook it long enough. So get creative: use what you have. This recipe started out as Mom's Beef Stew in the Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, which I got for $5 and change at Half Price Books in Brookfield.

Read more

Me and the Big Three

Big Three Automakers, Economy, job hunt

Actually, when we stop being totally US-centric, or even if we stay that way, it's Big 6 automakers, soon to be Big Mystery Number. But I digress.

The Now sites are asking how the "downturn" in the economy, aka big honking recession or worse, is affecting us. You can read (and weigh in) here.

Read more

White Christmas, green

Economy, Environment, job hunt, Kids

Coming in from shoveling (and I do mean shoveling, as opposed to walking behind a snow blower), I found a pleasant surprise. Liz, home for the weekend, had chocolate chip buckwheat pancakes, strawberries, bacon, and coffee waiting. With the exception of the strawberries, which were of the frozen variety, and the chocolate chips, a consession to modern taste and decadence, it was a moment my father and grandfather might have  recognized. (Their wives worked hard, but show shoveling wasn't part of the divided-labor routine for women.)

I ate happily, knowing that for once, I'd earned the hearty meal.

Read more

National security priorities


As long as some of us are talking about congressional districts in Louisiana, I thought I'd weigh in on serious national matters that get as close as Waukesha. Normal 0

It’s a comfort to know that despite its lame duck status, the Bush administration is taking care of some pressing last minute business: making sure that people won’t have to put their concealed weapons down even when taking a stroll in 387 of the 391 national parks.

Read more


Snow, Wauwatosa

Tuesday December 9: it seems like only yesterday that I was bragging about my new-found fitness hobby, shoveling snow.

I just finished the second round of the day, the first being around 5 am, this one ending at noon. And I am whimpering

Read more

A really good week

job hunt, Wauwatosa


Read more

Buy the paper. . . and read online too

newspapers, Wauwatosa

The other day I was grappling with bill paying, and one of the envelopes I'd been ignoring drifted to the top. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel home delivery invoice arrives quarterly, and sometimes I don't get around to paying it right away. I know they'll keep delivering for awhile, and someone will call eventually to remind me. Then I sift through the piles, find the statement, add in the tip, contribute to the education fund to get papers to school kids when I'm flush, and write out the check. Or go online to pay: more about that later.

Without a job, I question every penny I spend. Why buy the paper when I can get the electrons for close to free? I check daily, and I can do the same with the online version of the Journal Sentinel.

Read more

Single--and simple--tasking for the holidays

Christmas, Kids, Wauwatosa

Driving down Watertown Plank Road on the way to the dog park Saturday, I noticed the driver of the car next to me reading Pick 'n Save ads. While he was driving.

Read more

Baby, it's cold inside

This and that

Writers look so glamorous in their dust-jacket photos. I guess a few really are, like Danielle Steel, who has a gazillion children, 74 books to her credit, homes in San Francisco and Paris, and still lives the high-fashion life of one of her undaunted heroines.


Read more

Longest night, beautiful night

Christmas, Kids, Solstice, Spirituality

Sunday, a day Quakers call “First Day,” was winter solstice. The arc of the “standing-still-sun” is lowest across the northern hemisphere, and the night is the longest of the year. It’s a magical time of transition, when the veil seems thinnest between hope and fear, joy and sorrow, this world and the unknown. It’s no wonder Christians decided to celebrate the birth of Christ at this time of year.

Read more

Sorry, Oprah

Children, Christmas, job hunt, Oprah, Walking the dog

Following a phone interview on Tuesday, I got another "sorry, not what we are looking for" e-mail from a no-longer-prospective employer.

I wasn't surprised: the interview hadn't gone especially well. For one thing, I just could not bring myself to say "why yes: there is nothing I want to do in life more than cold-call people on the telephone all day long, every day." I managed a "well, I'm passionate about customer relations, and I'll do whatever it takes to build those," but that wasn't what they were looking for.

Read more

Page Tools