Thursday, March 31, 2005
My return to work went well, although it did take me about a day to get back into the swing o' things. My supervisor, Matt, practically screamed my name in welcome when he came in on Wednesday morning (Well- there's no 'practically' about it- he did scream - sort of. Well, it was more of an insane squawk.) because apparently, it had been a really wild house while I was gone. I mean- SUPER bad. Worse than I have ever experienced...and I dodged the bullet! I am SO LUCKY! I guess God's timing is pretty good, huh? A snowstorm AND the Shelter in bedlam while I'm away; I know it's mean but I just had to smile and say, " YES!"
We got a letter at work from a former resident of the Shelter. She had been with us for 90 days- an exception to our 60 day rule and she had become very dear to all of us. She sent her report card with the letter and she made the honor roll! I was so happy to hear from her and find how well she's doing in her long term placement. Here, paraphrased, is a sentence from the letter which I found pretty funny. ( Just so you know, Randa, the program manager at the Shelter, brings her dog Red in to work almost every day. And K---- refers to another former resident of the Shelter who is now in the same long term program as this girl.) The girl wrote something like this, " I really miss Red a lot. There are no animals here but K---- is my roomate." That just struck my funny bone...as if to say, No animals - but, hey K---- is my roomie, so...close enough!
Did I mention it's good to be back home again? As the old song says - and again, I paraphrase
( & change a word) : "...sometimes, this old apartment feels like a long lost friend..."
Monday, March 28, 2005
I finished the book I got at the Danville Library called “ Out of the Kitchen - Adventures of a Food Writer” by Jeannette Ferrary. She talks about growing up in Brooklyn in the 50’s with a limited scope of foods and a decided disinterest in cooking. “ At a very early age, I made my only truly firm career choice: cooking was the one thing I wasn’t going to do until absolutely necessary.” Funny- that’s how I felt too…so I felt like I could relate to her and I appreciated her non-elitist approach to high-food life. I think it would be fun to be a chef, really into fancy foods, but it takes so much time and dedication …and how do you find some of that stuff…? But she didn’t just write about food - she wrote about her life….somewhat of a misguided feminist, but then, we can’t all be perfect. You can get an idea of the unboringness of the book from some of the chapter titles: “ The Feast Made for Giggling”, “The Voice of the Turtlenecks”, and “ The Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow.” She talks about meeting and interviewing Julia Child and other famous foody people. She described Julia Child’s voice: “ the metallic music of her voice pitched halfway between some kind of horn and a reed instrument not yet invented.”
I’m also reading “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” but I’m FAR from finished.
So…the second lawyer visit is over, as of this morning, and now we just need to do some laundry, go grocery shopping to stock Grandpa up, and return our books and CD’s to the library. It’s been WONDERFUL to sleep in every morning. I don’t know how I’m going to adjust back to normal life -getting up at 5:41 a.m. Oooog. But it will be good to get home and back to busy-ness. Vacation is good but sometimes a lot of time on my hands can make me feel structure-less and gives me too much time to think…
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Wow…talk about breathtaking - in more ways than one. The scenery was amazing, unbelievably round, green hills, deep valleys…and the lack of guardrail + stunning drop-offs= my eyeballs bulging. At every other hairpin turn, it felt like I was completely hollow, having left all my innards at the last hairpin turn. The weather was really nice - not totally clear but clear enough to barely see the Golden Gate Bridge…and the Sierra Nevadas. There were lots of other people going up and down…mostly on BIKES! Oh my word - my heart was palpitating enough with us being in an SUV…I can’t imagine being on a bike. We even saw a couple on a tandem bike! No, thanks - not for me.
We walked around at the top, and took pictures. The view is absolutely fabulous. My favorite part was the stone house/visitor center at the top because the stones it was made from, taken from the top of the mountain, had SHELL fossils embedded into them. It was the most fascinating thing. For some reason, seeing those fossilized shells on the outer walls of the house/tower thrilled me in the most bizarre way. I wanted to jump up and down and point them out to everybody. LOOK! Fossilized shells - at 3,000 ft. above sea level! How do you think they got here? Needless to say, we got pictures.
The top of Mount Diablo was going to be the place that Brad proposed to me…when I was out here in December 2000- January 2001...but the time wasn’t right and so it never happened. I guess it was a good thing because it would have been an inauspicious place to get engaged - the Mountain of the Devil! Heading down the mountain, I was taking pictures like mad. I felt like an old lady taking useless scenery pictures…and pictures taken from a car, at that - the height of photographic excellence. But that’s the joy of digital - you can take all the dumb, blurry pictures you want and you - or your husband - can delete them later, but once in a while you get a neat shot. You can’t just sit there in the car and let these gorgeous vistas go by without TRYING to capture them somehow.
We pulled over on the way down, and got out to take pictures in a field of poppies. I think if one were to eat a Californian poppy, it would taste like an orange creamsicle. But this hypothesis will probably never be tested…because it’s illegal to pick them…so I imagine, eating them is off limits too. Sigh.
What a heavenly place - I could have stayed there all day and been perfectly happy.
Thursday a.m. I was dropped off at a mall, to search in vain for various things, including an Easterish looking thing to wear because it looks like we are actually going to attend church on Easter Sunday. Funny - it’s one of the most commonly attended church services in the year, and here we were, thinking we weren’t going…but now it looks likely…and I’m stuck with extremely casual clothing. Rgh. I mean, casual could probably pass in most churches on most Sundays…but I’m afraid this isn’t one of them. Well, suffice it to say, I failed utterly to find ANYTHING…but as I spent my time fruitlessly searching the mall, Brad had a good contact with an accountant who gave him some good advice re: the house etc. but that’s all boring stuff and none of your business anyway so let us move on. After Brad picked me up at the mall, we proceeded to drive up to Sacramento in the Tigermobile and descended upon Aunt Glady’s house. ( Even with MapQuest, we managed to do a little repeat of last year’s unplanned detour routine - I.e. getting lost - …which served to give us a nice little sightseeing jaunt among the streets of the Capitol. ) WELL! Aunt Gladys seemed glad to see us and we were duly informed of ALL her latest news…which was QUITE A LOT, let me tell you…She has been through more upheaval in the last month than I would care to ever experience…including a hilarious story about one morning when she thought her water heater was exploding. She thought she heard cannons and was scared out of her tree…but it turned out that some air had gotten into the pipes or something and the water heater was working it out of the system. Anyway - the way she told it, I was practically crying, I was laughing so hard. So pretty much all we did was talk, eat a feast of a dinner, talk, and then go to bed, sleep, and get up and talk some more. She had a lot of good things to say, and encouragement and advice to give…and then we were off once more. Nate and Penny, we stopped in VACAVILLE on the way up for lunch and nearby it on the way down. COWTOWN! And we duly yelled, “ The NUT TREE!” as we passed by that esteemed establishment.
We came home, hung out and talked to Grandpa for a little while. Brad and Grandpa drifted off to talk in the carport and I sat on a stump in the backyard, soaking up the sun and doing NOTHING. And then BAAAAAAP. The bell of the middle school went off and you would have thought all heck had broken loose. One moment there was relative peace and quiet, and the next - bedlam. When poets wax lyrical about how children laugh and chatter, I guess they’ve never been privy to Friday afternoon after school gets out. The only thing I could hear was SCREAMS. Good grief! All I could think about was that verse in the Bible that talks about the calves being released from the stalls. And then, lo, there was a boy climbing over the fence, and apparently crossing the creek, and POP- here he came up into our back yard. He sauntered up the bank quite naturally and when he looked around and saw me sitting there just watching him, I think it gave him a little jolt. It reminded me of my own grandfather’s back yard, which he jealously guarded against just such occurrences - I.e. school kids using it as a shortcut. Grandpa Sawtelle was a sign painter - among other things- and he made signs that he stuck up in his yard like, “ NO CUTTING THRU!” Grandpa Pass is a different breed of Grandpa. He doesn’t really care and in fact, probably welcomes the kids to come through.
Anyway, I am way dragging this out. We popped into Walnut Creek where Brad had a good talk with the lawyer - more stuff that isn’t any of your business, and if it IS, then you’ll hear about it at another time…and I perused Barnes and Noble…and then we picked up some groceries, picked up a couple pizzas, and came home where we had dinner and watched Father Goose. Good old Cary Grant. There’s all the news that's fit to print.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Well, the bad news is, it's sorta rainy. The good news is, that makes everything all the greener. I thought as we descended from the clouds that we must have made a mistake and ended up in Ireland; ever since the first glimpse, our winter-weary eyes have been feasting on the luscious green! And then, a second later, I thought, no, this isn't Ireland - it's heaven! It was as if we had heard all our lives that there was this beautiful color- green- and yet, never really seen it before. All our lives, we had to just believe that there was such beauty..and suddenly, faith gave way to sight. The hills, the trees, the color - it all feeds a hole in my soul and a part of me that had been stifled can breathe again. That's what I think heaven will be like - a beauty that we have only dreamed of emerges out of dark clouds...
On to more ordinary things. The trip out went very well...for me. Poor Brad suffered from airsickness during the flight but fortunately didn't throw up. We had a couple layovers- one in Denver...Colorado is such a weird state. It's like a bunch of flat, cement-like looking squares all different shades of brown and then suddenly - BANG! The meringue peaks of the Rockies. I was dazzled by the Rockies. The other times I've flown over them, it was either at night or too high to see much detail but, since we took off from Denver, we were low enough to really see them. I CANNOT fathom how the pioneers made it over them. They seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see north and south, and just kept on rolling out under us to the west. I think I would have been one of the pioneers who gave up and died along the way.
As happened on our trip out here last year, the rental car place caused us some hassles...but it was tedious enough to experience, much less to retell and inflict on you. BUT the up-side was, WE GOT UPGRADED to a fantastic vehicle. The Buick Rendezvous. I LOVE saying rendezvous phonetically. So Much Fun. It's the SUV-ish type thing that Tiger Woods advertises. We are riding in style with the Tigermobile and we love it. Now we can transport Grandpa and several large goats, if we want.
You know you are in California when you're in a sub shop and everybody else in the place is speaking Spanish except for you. Huh.
We were pretty zonked from getting up around 3:20 a.m. and so we went to bed before 7:00 last night! Of course, our Eastern Standard Time bodies felt like it was 10:00...
So we haven't done a whole lot yet. I realized that I didn't really pack appropriately - no jacket- it is kind of chilly, unfort.-( I am wearing aprox four layers of clothing right now to keep warm - and I'm INSIDE) so we went out shopping today to get me a new fleece or something equivalent but failed to find anything that Brad and I could agree on. ( He loathed a jacket I picked out so we are back to square one.) We had lunch at QUIZNO'S and Brad is now converted. And we went to the library and got more books...and we drove around in this absolutely fantastic housing development, where it looked like another slice of heaven, or at least where they keep all the houses that appear in magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, Architectural Digest, and House Beautiful. It almost made me want to cry for joy - the houses and landscaping were unutterably gorgeous. We nearly got lost in the development and had to live there forever because it was so winding and confusing.
There's a middle school across the creek in back of the house and every once in a while, you'll suddenly hear this woman's voice over a PA, as clear as a bell, announcing something. It's a bit unnerving and yet, kind of funny.
Oh, yes- and we took Grandpa to get his hair cut this morning because he was looking a little wooly and he said he had tried cutting his own hair but botched it up rather badly; one side was sticking up, with a distinctly DIY-ish look. So now he looks like a freshly shorn lamb.
Further bulletins as events warrant!
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Along with chickens, sheep, a dog, and a cat, our landlords (who are the best landlords ever) have a gaggle of geese. I won't get into the lengthy "discussion" Claire and I had when we first moved in about whether they were ducks or geese. Apparently Claire was out sick the day her kindergarten class learned the difference. (Correct me if I am wrong, but technically she was right, because geese are part of the duck family. But don’t tell her that.)
These are no ordinary geese, however. They seem to think they are roosters. Often at the crack of dawn they can be found outside our bedroom window worshiping the sun with a chorus of ear-splitting honks. They also like to honk explosively at other times of the day or late at night, for no reason at all. It seems very random to me.
I think they like us but just don't want to admit it. They are usually hanging around our door as if waiting to be invited in, but as soon as we come out they can't get away fast enough. They honk and hiss (yes, geese hiss - at least these do) and fall over each other trying to get away. At night you can slowly peel back the curtain covering our glass door and often see a goose inches away, peering inside. They also have the alarming habit of pecking on our door in manner that sounds EXACTLY like someone knocking. They don't do this incessantly, but only enough so that each time they do it we stop what we are doing and yell "come in." I don't for a minute think they are unaware of how this affects us. They know the perfect moment in a movie when a series of sharp thumps on the door will startle us the most.
Even though they can be annoying, what with having to zigzag our way to our cars to avoid their prodigious offerings, we like having them around. Although Sarah our landlady told us when we moved in that if they ever bothered us too much we could just have ourselves a "goose dinner."
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Yes, I will talk about the bright spots in my day. The first one was in response to a fax that I had to send to my old alma mater Calvary Christian School about a resident who, it turns out, had attended their venerable institution for a shocking total of two days... I got a phone call with this information from Kim, a very dear friend of mine who works in the office there, with whom I had lost touch...and it was such a joy to talk to her again and exchange email addresses.
And then there was the happy occasion of SILAS- alias, contender for the title of Cutest Baby Ever- ( son of Matt- my supervisor- and Jody, his wife) coming to visit us and brightening our day considerably. Silas is a charmer; when you scowl at him, he mirrors your face back to you in the most hilarious way, but then he'll burst into smiles.
And then another bright spot: Marci- who cooks at the Shelter. Her story of certain dying piglets, whose demise she had apparently witnessed, plus her imitation of their final sounds and last movements, plus her own hysterical laughter, was hugely entertaining. It involved hurling herself into the air - sideways- and making short, strange, wild squealing noises. A true kindred spirit, a woman after my own heart.
Oh, look- the sheep are out in our backyard. Spring can't be too far away. So, you see, it wasn't THAT bad of a day...
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
There was one story I wanted to share but wasn't sure if I could do it justice b/c I couldn't remember the whole thing very well...but I talked to some people afterwards and they reminded me of a couple more details...This exemplifies Mama's thorough nature and the way she truly cares for others more than herself, letting no obstacle deter her.
Last fall, Andrew was starting classes at UNH and one day he took a sandwich with him that contained some sort of meat product. Mama is a great stickler for COLD PACKS and apparently, she realized during the day that Andrew's sandwich was not protected by the necessary temperature to keep the meat UNQUESTIONABLY SAFE. Seeing the need, she did ALL, and i mean ALLLLL, in her power to rectify this dire situation. She took it upon herself, the all caring and all loving mother that she is, to call UNH, and tried in vain to contact him. Somehow, the University did not seem to think that this matter fell into its purview. A mother's cries fell upon calloused ears. Well, maybe not calloused - but powerless. Suddenly, she remembered that Andrew was heading to Sears ( in the Mall of NH) that day to look at shoes. A new lead! So she called the store, talked to the shoe department lady, described Andrew...and at this point, my memory fails me. I should have asked for more details tonight after meeting...But she either told the woman to tell Andrew to call her or to just tell him OUTRIGHT, " DON'T EAT YOUR SANDWICH! IT COULD CONTAIN DANGEROUS BACTERIA!" Either way, it's a hilarious MAMA story which epitomizes her quest for complete sandwich safety...and, more to the point, illustrates her mother-love which is always thinking of others and will do anything to help the beloved.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
All right, folks. I repent in dust and ashes. For a fleeting instant there was something about the way her hair looked that reminded me of what I thought Judy Dean's hair looked like. I did a quick search on the internet to find a picture of Judy Dean, and behold the first website I clicked on began with this sentence: Judy Dean is an ugly woman. I don't agree, but I admit it was unfair (not to mention highly inadvisable) to compare Claire to her. I maintain, however, that it was nefarious of Claire to post it on the blog. I have created a monster.
My apologies to Howard and Judy, for while I gag at his politics, he nevertheless has admirable chutzpah. (Claire read that and asked if I meant he had chutzpah to marry Judy, and I said no, to run for president. And to howl like a drunken cowboy after the
Friday, March 11, 2005
Claire is brushing her teeth. Brad, standing nearby and looking at her, says, " You look like Howard Dean's wife right now." Claire makes a frothy, incensed noise. Brad swiftly continues, "...who I have always said looks very nice." Claire makes the digging shovel motion, ( indicating that Brad is trying, in vain, to extricate himself from a yawning hole of his own creation) and moves towards the sink, with a bloglike twinkle in her eye: the ultimate revenge.
I should probably stop now as it is late Friday night and I am very tired from dealing with the inexhaustible craziness of 12 girls...not to mention the silliness of my husband.
One of the worst parts of my job is when people bring in their broken cameras for repair. Seldom do they expect the steep repair costs they will find. They usually reel back in horror when we tell them the camera is often more expensive to fix than to buy another one brand new. One of the ways we combat this, of course, is our version of the ubiquitous extended warranty retail stores try to foist on you. Our claim to fame is that our policy fixes the camera no matter what you do to it, as long as you sweep up the pieces and bring them to us.
People find many amazing ways to break their cameras, and with the large number of inherently fragile (and expensive to repair) digital cameras being sold, we have had some interesting cases. We had a camera that was dropped from the back of a motorcycle driving down 89. It was then hit by a couple of trucks. Then there was the woman who managed to break her camera three times within the first few months she owned it (yes, we kept replacing it.)
On Wednesday I had a gentleman return with a camera for the second time. A few months ago, according to his story, the camera was "knocked into the toilet". Since it was covered under our plan, we took care of it. This had become one of our favorite sales pitches when trying to convince customers that our policy covers stupid things you do to your camera. But wait, there's more. Without the slightest bit of embarrassment or apology, he calmly informed me Wednesday that this time he managed to drop the camera into a glass of wine. I was barely able to keep my jaw from dropping and calmly filled out the paperwork, as if we received wine-soaked cameras every day. As I finished filling out the forms, I began to wonder if I had heard correctly, so when I came to the part on the form where we describe what happened to the camera, I said, "so you spilled some wine on it?" He replied in a confident voice, "No, No, I dropped it right into the glass." If I did something like that, I would quietly creep into the store and confess my idiocy in hushed tones. So we bundled up the sticky little camera and sent it off to the repair department, where no doubt the techs will have a good laugh.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Come now, surely it isn't that absurd? Think of what confidence and self-assurance someone named Thor would certainly have. He would go through life with his mighty chin held high, what with everyone having to call him Thor. Although with my luck he would be a nerdy little kid going around introducing himself with a nasally voice, "Hi, I'm Thor. Will you be my friend?" That doesn't exactly seem befitting the god of thunder.
We differ slightly sometimes on types of names. For instance, I like to come up with quasi-cutsie names like " Baron Von Munchhausen" or "Basil." But for Brad, it's either totally bizarre, like " The Bull Mastiff" or something so ordinary that no one would ever consider naming their cat. For instance, he thinks something like "Gary" or "Phil" would be hilarious.
Another, more exotic, name Brad seems obsessed with lately is Thor. This is not something he has in mind simply for a joke of a cat name, however. He insists that this would be a suitable name if we ever had a son someday. ( No, I am not expecting.) Somehow, all I can see is some sort of Norse warrior, or semi-god. Thor Pass? Doesn't it sound ridiculous? Everyone who thinks this is ridiculous, please leave your comment after this entry. Thankyou.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
I called Claire from work this afternoon and asked her what we were having for dinner. Being the good wife that she is, she was planning on a healthy lentil barley soup (which tastes better than it sounds). Normally I go along with whatever she has planned, for as she will attest, I am not very finicky. Nevertheless, I had waffles on the brain and I entreated her to make them. She made no promises, but I was pleased to discover upon coming home that she had heard my cries.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Should I write about my job? Of course, I would have to use false names to protect the innocent. Or maybe no names at all. I don't know if I can write about the girls...I don't know what the Shelter's policy is on blogs. They probably don't have one. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to mention that there is a girl there who has one of those "Baby Think It Over" dolls and has to carry it around with her all day...supposedly for a class? or something at her last school. It's a device used to simulate what it would be like to have a real baby so that young girls can see how difficult it is and use this information in their decisions about having children. The doll has this little detachable box embedded in the back with batteries and you can set it on different things like "normal" where the baby cries every ninety minutes or so. And then there is the "crabby" setting where the baby cries every three minutes. Oh my word. I almost laughed. I was called upon to insert the battery and re-set it b/c one of the second shift people had removed the battery so the baby wouldn't wake up all the girls at night. ( The first sign that this "training device" was being used at less than its full potential.) The first time i heard that unearthly wail, I almost dropped the thing. The only thing that makes it realistic is the fact that it has an approximately accurate weight...and makes noise...but as for producing smells ( and corresponding matter), being floppy ( the doll has no moving parts and is permanently sitting up), becoming sick, smiling, requiring food and needing changes of clothes, it is sadly lacking in realism. The mother decided that it was a girl and had named it something reminiscent of a product with which women wash their faces. It was interesting to watch the "mother" deal with things like carrying a diaper bag and other accoutrements (I like that word) around...and note how she felt the inconvenience of it all...Yet, she actually asked that the setting be changed so that the baby cry more often, because as it was, it was" not teaching her much." I inwardly groaned with wordless frustration. She failed to grasp the fact that most mothers do not take their infants to class with them and attempt to raise them with 11 other teenage girls....Needless to say, the baby's cries were very disruptive to the class. I think it's been a teaching tool for more than one girl. There are more parts of the story I could tell but for the fact that I don't know what the policy is on this kind of thing...I will remain discretely vague. Ah...just another day at the Antrim Girls' Shelter.
Friday, March 04, 2005
Yesterday morning I bought tickets for us to go to
Nate and Penny won't be going with us this trip, which will be sad, but I am sure we will still have a good time. We will be there for about a week.
Maybe we can use this blog to post our activities whilst traveling rather than e-mail individual people. Claire seems to think she might be interested in that idea. She also likes the blog I chose. Now all I have to do is show her how to use it.