A Letter to Congress

Feel free to send this to your congressmen as well.

In light of recent events, I felt the need to reach out to my congressmen. In my case, these are Representative Adam Smith, Senator Patty Murray, and Senator Maria Cantwell. If you agree with my statement below, feel free to send it to your congressmen as well, either by letter or by e-mailing them a link to this post, as long as you give me original credit for the idea.

“First of all, thank you and all your colleagues for being public servants in these trying times. Your service should never put your life at risk. The insurrection in our nation’s capitol was unconscionable and should never be repeated.

“In light of that, I humbly request that the first paragraph of the preamble of the Democratic Platform should be changed. This paragraph should reflect a moral compass that all rational human beings can agree upon. This or a similar paragraph should always be included in every party’s platform.

“My suggestion is as follows:

“’As Democrats, we believe in the rule of law and the constitution. We believe that violence and terrorism are unacceptable, and that our democratic process should be inviolate. Anyone who disagrees with any of these tenets does not, and never will, speak for the Democratic Party.’

“I hope you’ll consider putting forward this suggestion, and as a fellow Democrat, I would encourage you to suggest that this should be made the first paragraph of the Republican platform, and indeed, any other party’s platform, as well. (If every party made this change at the same time, it would show unity and strength, and no one would have to feel that he or she is copying a political opponent.) It is high time we disavow the lunatic fringe. They do not deserve our endorsement in any way, shape or form.

“Thank you for your consideration, and, again, thank you for your service.”


Barbara Abelhauser

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Why I Love the Primaries

You can make a bigger impact in the primaries than at any other time.

Recently I had the privilege to attend a Bernie Sanders rally at the Tacoma Dome here in Washington State. Yep, that arrow, pointing to the blue smudge amongst the 17,000 other attendees in the picture below…that’s me! It was exhilarating to be among so many like-minded people.

I imagine it would be even more exciting for someone who was still on the fence about who they intend to vote for in the primaries, but I’ve been for Bernie since the last presidential election, so this was more of a confirmation of my beliefs in what he stands for. I will definitely vote for him in the democratic primaries.

But I’m not here to convince you to do the same. Make up your own mind. Seriously.

No, this is a post about primaries in general, and why I think they’re so critically important. It drives me insane that so many people skip the primary process altogether. The voter turnout is always much lower.

I’m a democrat, but here lately, it’s mostly by default. I would sooner die than vote republican, because they represent everything that I DO NOT stand for. But I’m losing faith in politicians in general, if I’m honest, and that’s heartbreaking.

I do believe firmly in the democratic process. I think voting is the most patriotic thing a person can do. When you vote, you’re helping to decide the moral shape of your country, and that’s important.

In a way, though, I think you have more ability to make an impact in the primaries than at any other time. When you vote in the primaries, you’re telling your political party what values you hold, and what direction you want them to take in the future. Even if your person doesn’t win, they’ll think, “Wow, that person stood more radically for women’s rights (for example) than any other candidate, and got 30 percent of the primary vote. Maybe we should take women’s rights more seriously, moving forward.”

I see primary platforms as my wish lists. If my person gets elected, do I actually think they’ll achieve everything they set out to do, given our obstructionist two party system? No one can, regardless of party, the way things stand these days. Not by a long shot. But even if they get partway to where I’d like this country to go, it’s better than the alternative. And if your party learns what truly matters to its constituents, then it will start putting up more candidates that hold those values. And then if that person wins… like I said, baby steps. But steps nonetheless.

So don’t skip your party’s primaries, folks. Don’t skip any election, for that matter. Vote! Vote! Vote!

Me at Bernie Rally

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It Took a Village, but I Got an Affordable Mattress!

I had been thinking of getting a new mattress for quite some time. Mine was 19 years old and it no longer provided the pleasant slumber experience it once did. In fact, it could be rather excruciating, if I’m honest. I’m a stomach and side sleeper, and I knew every spring in that bed by how it scraped against my rib cage.

But I’m a Capricorn, so I don’t take these major purchases lightly. I asked my brother-in-law, who subscribes to Consumer Reports, to send me the latest info on bedding that they have. He printed it in late December and mailed it to me.

A note about my brother-in-law. He’s an engineer. He’s as straight as an arrow. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wears a pocket protector to work. I might not invite him into a mosh pit, but I would trust this guy with my life. So when the report didn’t arrive after two weeks, I was rather shocked. But the postmark after it arrived proved it wasn’t his fault. He was prompt. Our steadily declining postal system can’t make similar claims.

This was to be only the first hurdle I’d encounter in my pursuit of bedded bliss. (Sorry. Had to.)

Reading the consumer report, I was sad to see that they had yet to review the Purple mattress. I absolutely love their commercials, and am intrigued by their product’s unique construction. But I wasn’t about to lay down a thousand bucks with no reliable recommendation.

Which leads me to a note about mattress reviews on line. Don’t believe everything you read. I know that’s hard, but mattress reviews are often paid for by the manufacturers, and there are also a lot of false negative reviews out there by competitors. It became painfully clear that I was either going to have to test drive a mattress myself (so much for ordering a bed in a box), or rely on Consumer Reports, which is the only reviewer with integrity that I know. And yeah, a lot of mattresses have a return policy, but let’s be honest: who is going to go through that hassle? Not me. And I’m sure that’s what they count on.

Just as I was about to take a leap and make a choice based on Consumer Reports, my brother-in-law calls me to tell me that they just put out a new report, and this time Purple mattress was included! Well, shoot. What’s a few more days, right? So he mailed another report off to me. This one actually arrived in a decent amount of time.

Meanwhile, I read somewhere that mattresses accumulate 10 pounds of dead skin every 8 years. Ewwww. A friend pointed out that that sounded like one of those unprovable “statistics”, like you swallow 8 spiders in your sleep every year. Well, yeah… but no. You could actually weigh a mattress when it’s new, and then weigh it periodically thereafter to come up with this information.

So, I’ve had my mattress for almost 20 years… that comes to 25 pounds of dead skin. Oh. My. God. My dead skin weighs more than my dog. It weighs more than a small child! Suddenly, I was so grossed out that my desire for a new mattress became urgent. Get me away from this dead skin!!!!!

Up-to-date consumer report in hand, after all that waiting, I decided against the Purple mattress. Don’t get me wrong, it got a really good review, but my eye kept going back to a mattress that had an even better review for half the price. I’m way too grown up to shell out double the money for a mattress just because it comes with a cool name and cool commercials.

So the mattress I settled on was the Serta SleepToGo 12” Memory Foam Luxury Queen Mattress, which you can only get through Sam’s Club. But for that price, it was worth getting a membership, even if all their brick and mortar stores have pulled out of Washington State. (And while looking up the link for this mattress, I’ve discovered that the price has gone down another hundred and fifty bucks, to 399.98, since I bought it! That’s an excellent deal! I wish I had waited! I bet they’ll sell out quickly.)

The thing about these newfangled gel foam mattresses is that they don’t come with box springs. They don’t even need them. But they do need a solid platform of some sort, not a metal frame or slats or metal mesh. So I had to get one of those, too. More homework.

It took me a while to find a platform that was affordable and yet did not look flimsy. I chose a South Shore Holland Full/Queen Platform Bed With Drawer, for 197.38. (And dag nab it, I’m seeing that the price for it went down, too! To 186.28. FML.) It’s one of those dealies where it comes in a box and you have to assemble it yourself. I was willing to live with that for the savings.

I placed both orders on Valentine’s Day, and the irony was not lost on my lonely self. If you build it, they will come? I live in hope.

Sam’s Club and South Shore were both great about keeping me in the loop. Even though I placed the orders at the same time, my mattress was scheduled to arrive a few days before the platform. How annoying.

But then, much to my delight, the 130 pound platform box got there early! Yay! I dragged it into the living room, and knew that I was going to need help assembling this sucker. So I called my friend Cris. He said he’d come by that night.

So now I had to wrestle my ancient king-sized bed into the guest room. (If you’re wanting a free place to crash, friend, you’re just going to have to accept the 25 pounds of dead skin. Sorry.)

The way my little house is set up, in order to move something from my room to the guest room, you have to first slide it into the bathroom, then k-turn it into the living room, and then sort of angle/bend it. And this bed was freakin’ huge. And uncooperative. Between the heart attack factor and the being crushed under a heavy object factor, suffice it to say that it was a near thing. I almost didn’t live to write this post.

So, now my bedroom was clear to go, and my friend came over, and we opened the box… only to find that 3 essential parts were freakin’ broken. I wanted to cry. I mean, seriously? I sent Cris home. (If I owe this guy one, I owe him half a million, but he’s never one to ask for help.)

The next day I called the company and ordered the replacement parts, but they said it would be two weeks before they arrived. Two weeks. And I had already moved my bed into the freezing, overcrowded guest room. And it made it abundantly clear that it was not going anywhere, ever again. Great. Just great.

So I dragged my former guest room bed into my bedroom. It is, essentially, a three inch thick foam single mattress that one puts on the floor. (This is probably why I rarely have overnight guests.) And I camped out like that until my new mattress arrived.

It, of course, showed up 10 minutes after I left for work one day, in a city where packages are stolen off doorsteps with lightning speed. Fortunately I have good neighbors, and I told them where the spare key was, and they were kind enough to slide the thing into my house, risking near certain death via my Dachshund who thinks he’s a Rottweiler.

I came home to a surprisingly small, albeit 75 pound, box. I don’t even think I could have fit in it. And there was a queen-sized mattress in there? My heart sank.

When I pulled it out, it was folded and rolled and vacuum packed. I rolled it out on the bedroom floor, cut the plastic, and, whoosh! It expanded! Glory be, I just love the modern world sometimes.

So that night, and for about a week afterward, I slept on my new mattress on the floor like some college student. And I have to say, it is the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever slept in in my entire life! I had no idea what torture I had been putting myself through for the past decade. I feel like a new human being. Another note about gel foam mattresses: it’s recommended that you don’t use heating pads or electric blankets on them, but that’s fine by me, because there are a lot of complaints that they’re hot to sleep on. Well, it’s the dead of winter, so I haven’t noticed. And I can use all the heat I can get at this time of year. But ask me again in June.

I’m getting too old for the mattress on the floor thing, though. Every time I had to stand up, I’d sort of have to roll my fat butt onto the floor and flop around like a dying carp for a minute or two. That got tedious. So I was happy when the replacement platform parts arrived.

That, too, had its story. According to FedEx tracking, the box was supposed to arrive on a Tuesday, which had me rather chuffed, as that’s my day off. So I waited around all day long, popping my head out the door every time I heard a truck drive down the street. That morning, it had gotten as far as Oregon. By the end of the day… it was still in Oregon. Again, I nearly wept.

On Wednesdays I work swing shift, so I stressed out all morning, worried it wouldn’t arrive before I left for work. Fortunately it showed up at noon. Knowing my pseudo-Rottweiler, I waited until the FedEx guy was back in his truck before I opened the door to retrieve the package. Unfortunately, this did not sway Quagmire. He bolted out the door and chased the delivery truck down the street. So I was forced to chase after him. In my pajamas. Barefoot. In the cold, windy rain.  (The thing that people don’t tell you about Dachshunds is they almost never come when called, unless you are holding a Porterhouse steak. So it took me a while to get his evil butt back in the house, and then drag the box inside.)

I called Cris again. But like I said, swing shift awaited, so we wouldn’t be able to assemble the thing until Friday.


When Friday arrived, Cris came, bearing pizza, and thank goodness for that, because it took more than 3 hours to assemble the thing, which came with wordless, cartoon instructions that were enough to make a sane person beg for a straight jacket. He made the ordeal fun, though.

And then, just like that, last night I slept in my fully intact, elevated bed for the first time. It didn’t even collapse under me. And I actually remembered that it was no longer on the floor when my alarm went off, so I didn’t fall out of bed and break a hip. And now that the bed is back at window height, Quagmire can make goo goo eyes at the female dog who lives across the street again.

All’s right with the world.

I tell you what, though: I will never take this bed for granted. Ever. I’ve earned this bed. Just try to kick me out of it. I dare you.

Oh, and it gets better. Since my credit card had purchase protection for 90 days, I was able to submit a claim since the price of the bed has gone down, and I got reimbursed for the difference. A queen-sized bed for $399? Woo hoo!


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