Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Market Timing

This is my humble opinion, but now is the time to get back into the good ole stock market. Seems obvious but most people don't actually follow the age old axiom, Buy Low, Sell High. True, people have different time horizons and so if you heed anything I say here it is necessary to adjust the advice to your own expectations and plans.

I'm going to put myself out there and predict that this will be the last earnings season with overwhelmingly dismal results, i.e. time to buy. Why do I say this? Here are a few reasons:
- more and more economists are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and are going on the record as such.
- recent run up in the market suggests confidence by institutional investors. They may have overshot and are pulling back now (current dip during earnings season) but the message is clear - those with the most information are getting back in.
- merger activity: Oracle's purchase of SunMicrosystems yesterday.
- some banks are reporting profits: BofA, Goldman, even Citi had some good news. Yes, there is a credit situation, but Americans are quick to forget hard times and I (and others) feel that spending will pick up.

So you say: what about the dragging Retail and Real Estate sectors? These two sectors are typically the last to recover in a downturn, particularly considering how much we overbuilt. It will take real estate a long time to come around.... But the market overall will not wait for housing.

So I am buying and thinking of buying the following:
- Index funds: VERY safe and merely follows the market (Vanguard and Fidelity can help you with this)
- Large Cap Growth funds: mutual funds investing in big and hopefully sound American companies
- Banks: This is my risky investment and for those light of heart, I don't recommend it. But honestly you wont see better deals than $8 for one of the largest banks in the country (BofA).

Overall, I'm going to play it safe by dipping my foot in for now. I'm not throwing big amounts at the above, just getting in so sleep at night continues in a sound way.

Those are my thoughts for the day. And I'd like to say that I'm happy to have had time to blog again....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A great morning-starter juice

I've been juicing every morning for several months but today I think I hit the perfect mix.

Watermelon with the rind
Little lemon
Little ginger


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pay Attention

I'll start off this post by saying that this story has a happy ending. I am personally the kind of person who needs to know these things when stories go down a dark path, so I'll do you a favor, even if you're not the same.

New Year's eve and day events hold an unnerving portent for the year to come for the superstitious amongst us. I'd like to claim that I am of a rational, cynical nature, but clearly I lean toward the earnest and spiritual, and well, superstitious. (I think I resist this because I am drawn to the opposite kind of person, but so the saying goes.) So it was especially devastating when we discovered that our beloved 5 year old beagle, Linus, was nowhere to be found at 3am, January 1, 2009.

We had hosted a particularly epic New Year's Eve party. I say epic not because it was so amazingly fabulous for our guests, but for us it was because we hadn't hosted a party for partying's sake in over four years, we've been feeling very domestic and thirty-something and this truly wasn't either of those things, our two year old was safely out of the house, I was fitting into 13 year old clothes, and magically no one got into a conflict and the energy was great. These are all things parents of young children need to experience. It ended a year of heavy events that are obvious to all.

Sitting down to recap with our friends who had stayed because they were too drunk to drive (although wasn't that everyone?) we noticed our little buddy was no where to be found. We did the usual routine of calling, but he didn't come running. A lightbulb: the fireworks we shot off at midnight (we live in New Mexico) had scared the poor bastard off through his invisible fence. After an hour of searching the perimeter of our home, we gave up in exhaustion, only to rise with the sun and start again. We canvased the neighborhood, posting those horrible signs with a pathetically adorable animal under the header LOST. Our torment and self-hatred grew by the second. We slept an hour after our sleep-deprivation grew dangerous. We picked up our child who blissfully didn't seem to connect the dots. When we got home, she would occasionally, bizarrely, squeal with delight "He's home!" and run to the door. Call it two year old wish fulfillment. All day I called animal control, the police department, the shelter, all who communicated to me that animal services of all kinds were closed for the holiday.

By the next morning, my grief was as palpable and painful as when I lost my father and then my first dog a month later. Only it felt worse in some ways because I felt so deeply responsible. I found a service on-line which I cannot recommend more highly: www.findtoto.com. They'll call 500 people in a radius around your house for $125. Our friends & neighbors received the calls, which were of some comfort. Then, we were released from our suffering at 9AM when the animal shelter called to say they had our Linus in custody.

How does this fall under the advice header, or the parental header? Because of the moral of the story. Before the party, I had a thought: we should have Linus spend the night with our toddler at the grandparents house as well. I brushed the thought aside, thinking of all the parties I'd been to with wandering dogs and content with the knowledge that our dog never roams. You can imagine that tape replaying in my head for the 36 hours he was missing. And I think of all the small accidents with my child...that cabinet door is open, but can a 7 month old really pull that glass pan down on her foot? Well, yes. The 9 month old is cruising really well on that flagstone step, should I move closer in case she falls? Well, yes, and my that's a nice shiner she's got there. Those are small accidents. But you know the larger ones have that grain of a thought, a moment of "could that really happen?" Of course it could. Hear that voice, pay attention, ACT on it however small or irrational it may seem. I recently woke up with a momentary panic regarding all the hair elastics my two year old owns with those ceramic baubles at the end. As soon as I was awake, they were all stored safely away for when I feel she is old enough for them not to present a choking hazard. A long shot? Probably, but if you think it, it could happen. My advice, again: Pay attention. Act. You'll never be sorry.

Friday, January 9, 2009

New Year - Let's Get Posting

Today I found a very interesting new site called Momversation.com It shows videos of conversations between the top "mommy bloggers" from the web on interesting topics. This site is far more fun than reading text. I got sucked in for a good long while. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

my husband, part 2

My husband, Charles, at the very least knows how to get me to laugh, even while invading my privacy. I'm only leaving that last post because, well, it's pretty funny. Um yeah, he wrote it.

my husband

my husband, Charles, is possibly the smartest, most handsome man in all of America. Today, I watched him apply Desitin to my young toddlers bottom and then to his own as a way of showing our young daughter that even Mommies and Daddies can get diaper rash.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hang your Christmas tree lights in October

This morning I started the day at the dentist. 10 minutes late for my cleaning, teeth brushed, no food or coffee in me, I settled into the reclining chair with the bright light in my face. Exchanges between Obama and McCain on replay in my head from the night before as well as the news from NPR sinking in from my drive. The intensity of the world financial situation, like an earthquake in reverse. The boom went off everywhere and now it seems to be circling in, ring-like closer and closer to home.

With this heavy mindset I greeted my hygienist. I never can remember their names but they always greet me like we had lunch together just the other day. In her chipper way Nurse No Name comments of course on the weather and how brisk it is. I replied, "yes, amazing" and then told her that I saw some guy wearing gloves waiting for the bus. I think I logged this detail expressly, yet unconsciously, while driving here just because if adult life has taught me one thing, it's always be ready to talk about the weather.

As an add-on to the weather dialog, Nurse NN volunteers that she really loves this weekend coming up, Columbus Day, because she figured out a few years ago that if she hangs her Christmas lights now and just keeps them off until after Thanksgiving, she saves herself the hassle of wrestling with the lights in sub-zero weather. As she put it, "45 minutes in October is nuthin', but in December, it's a reallybigdeal!"

At that moment, my light bulb, (can't resist) went off and I realized, I have no words of wisdom whatsoever for these incredible times, other than it might be time to hang your lights. You may be needing them soon and it's only getting coldah.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Making space for possiblities

Has been a long time since I last posted. This is not for lack of thinking about it. It has to do with feeling stuck with nothing to say. Haven't felt like I had any worthwhile advice for quite a while.

Until this past weekend. I had time at home with my little guy. Husband was in NY and I had dialed back any plans with friends to just the minimum. We went to a friend's incredible new house in my favorite neighborhood for brunch. I couldn't be happier for her or feel there's a better person to live her life. However, I came home on Sunday and curled up in my bed while my little boy slept. I was crushed, sad and wanting a life other than mine. Her beautiful, spacious house with wallpaper, excessive numbers of bathrooms, double Viking ovens she wasn't quite sure what they were for...

After about 15 mins of not sleeping, not crying, not writing, not talking, just wallowing, I turned to a book I was given I don't even know how long ago nor by whom. I put it on my Amazon Wishlist a long time ago and then neglected it. Let it get dusty with the other great ideas I have scattered about.

The book is called Creating Sacred Space with Fung Shui by Karen Kingston. She talks about the energy of objects, rooms and spaces and how our spaces accumulate residue from the experiences we have within them the way cobwebs build up in corners if you don't clean from time to time.

I looked around my room, my house, the car, the garage and realized I had been neglecting the space I'm in now for as long or longer as I've felt stuck. My office no longer felt welcoming, my pantry was overflowing with stuff, my car was dusty and grimy, my sewing machine in disorder and stacks and stacks of papers.

It was no wonder I was constantly feeling overwhelmed, like there was no time to get to all my ambitions! I was burying myself. I realized if I want to create light and space and freedom in my life, I need to create that in my home. Kingston talks about the external home being a direct reflection of the internal life. WELL YES! HELLO!

Needless to say, the house is in major overhaul. My office is much cleaner, tidy-er and feels like a space where I can actually realize my aspirations. I have cracked open the wedding box from the garage, only 6 years later, to weed out documents that no longer need storage and pictures that finally can be put in books. I can honor my marriage, not neglect it on a shelf for a later date. And so it is going and it is ENERGIZING and fun and I have shaken my envy of my lucky friend. She has her space and I have mine and I love both.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Feeling at home, at home

When we left NY for our new city almost two years ago, I knew it would take some time to meet people and feel belonging in a new place. I remember discussions with my husband about how long that might take - my bet was 2 years, his was 6 months. Unfortunately I was right - but I'm glad to report that we've made it.

The activities of last weekend aptly demonstrate this. Friday night we went out to dinner and ate at a familiar restaurant with outside seating. We ran into a couple with a baby we had seen at the same place the previous Friday night and exchanged pleasantries. Saturday morning we went for pancakes at our favorite cafe run by a lovely couple from Ethiopia. We enter and our son runs to hug the open-armed owner - the wife of the couple. We decide to eat outside at the sidewalk tables, park our stroller with infant and proceed to order our usual - of which the husband of the couple, Soloman, is already mentally taking down. My son associates pancakes so much with this man, that he thinks the chef in the blueberry pancake story of Curious George is him. As we are enjoying our meal, a couple we know is walking by on their way to another eaterie. They are with their 2.5 year old and parents. We have a nice chat over coffee and sunshine.

Later we head to the playground. Its a beautiful afternoon with a sun lower in the sky and the feeling of Fall coming. We run into another couple we know (and really like) and spend the next hour or so mingling and watching our kids play (they have twin girls our son's age). We've been wanting to get together with these folks for dinner for a while but with end of pregnancy and birth of new child - social engagements have been on the back burner. So we are delighted when the wife asks if we want to come over for dinner chez eux. We accept, exchange information and start a leisurly stroll home, chatting as we went and enjoying the historic backdrop of old, brick sidewalks and federal period row homes.

We say goodbye on a corner which is crowded with restaurant life - tables are bustling outside and the weather is perfect - its Saturday night. And even though we are jealous of the young and hip who are drinking martinis at those tables we are feeling quite pleased with our weekend so far.

Sunday we go to church. After the service we stay for the coffee hour and chat with the many people we have gotten to know there. Sounds cheesy but we've gained a real sense of community from this place. It helps that it is a particularly liberal Episcopal church which employs a talented and very witty Brittish rector. The new assistant rector is a young and smart woman who happens to be a lesbian and in a couple relationtionship that she wrote about in her first letter to the congregation. So - a very open and interesting environment - one that we fit well in. We then see a couple that we've had dinner with on a few occasions. We met them at a screening and discussion session for "An Inconvenient Truth" that the wife put on last year.

To round out a great weekend, one that exceeded our expectations as we have a 2 month old, we made our weekly trip to the Farmers Market at Headhouse Square - a market location since the late 1700s and one that's constructed of old red brick and surrounding cobble stone streets.

"A" and I talked about how many people we had run into that we knew over the weekend. That combined with a routine of fun places to walk to and enjoy having spent enough time in a place to know them made for a comfortable feeling. We felt happy with our accomplishment of passing enough time to feel at home in a new home.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Common Sense Advice

Don't take library books on vacation.
Arthur's Tooth now has a new home on Delta airlines.

Monday, July 21, 2008

To the Mundane

Down off my high horse...a regular old mama piece of advice.

Permanent marker can be removed using hairspray. It is actually pretty darn miraculous, if mundane. Spray the stain, let it set (leave on for an hour or so, rinse, repeat if necessary, scrub with an old toothbrush, and also use stain remover.)

I googled and found this gem...and did it and can testify that it works. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


That's how I am afraid my last post may have come off. I have been through some really intense life experiences in the last couple of years, and I am afraid in my own attempt to make sense of everything and have the bigger picture not terrify me, I have begun to pollyanna-ify even the worst case scenarios - as in, "even if you or I became one eye, it would all be great because we love each other so damn much and spiritual consciousness will save the day."

I know it would still really, really suck, and I also am aware of the fact that even if we all love each other to the moon and back, we might not be able to deal with the whole "one eye" scenario, having it or witnessing it. I guess I am feeling the need to add a little something to that last post, because it may have come across as incredibly naive, or worse still, as if I am suggesting every friend and family member be able to rise to the occasion of the horror of something happening like locked-in syndrome.

To clarify, what I meant was that I have a deep trust in my loved ones and am taking care to choose people carefully in my life. Using the "one eye" thing as a filter, taking stock in who would or would not still recognize my humanity and be able to show up - at least in letters or phone calls - is simply a good way to weed the friend garden. I used to keep a lot of people around that truly wouldn't pass this test. Having gone through the death of my father and having an aunt go through a serious illness (guillain-barre, temporary but similar to locked-in syndrome, except worse because without any vision) in the last two years has made me re-evaluate my priorities and my relationships. And my expression of gratitude in that last post was more of a statement of appreciation than a declaration of expectation. And I also wanted to make it known that I would show up - even if it would be hard as hell to see anyone I loved in that position.

I hope that erases some of the holier-than-thou aspects of that post. Last thing I want to be is some overly reverent, preachy type. That just ain't me. But it could be if I didn't watch it, or if I didn't have good friends to call me on it!