Friday, February 26, 2010

In Which I Join the Great Unwashed


Ok, so it’s confession time regarding where I’ve been this week, and why there’s no “Memories of Me Monday” post, or any other post for that matter.

I am job-hunting.

‘Nuff said?

Yes, I’ve had to make the difficult and depressing decision to go back to work. 

And I do mean difficult and depressing.  I was in a total funk for several days (ask Mike, if you don’t believe me).  I didn’t want to do anything, go anywhere, cook, clean, exercise, or even eat.  In short, I was pathetic.

I guess I felt like a failure.

Finally, I realized that bigger companies than mine have “fallen” in this economy.   And there are a lot of people who have NO income right now, and no savings to fall back on.

At least we have some savings, and Mike is working right now, and we have already put away the funds we will need for retirement, so we just need to earn enough money to pay our living expenses (and the “extra” that I need for all the trips I want to take).

So, on Monday I put on my big girl panties (as my mom and sisters would say), pulled myself up by my bootstraps, and started looking for a job.

I got a haircut.  I got out my interview suits and tried them on, and they FIT again thanks to my vegan lifestyle!  I polished up my shoes and my resume.  I set up Google alerts for jobs in my town, and nearby.  I started networking.

I’m in the swing of the job hunt now.

This doesn’t mean I’m totally folding up my business (which, if you don’t already know about it, you can read about at my Webajeb blog) – no, I will continue to design products, and do some custom-designed layouts and albums but, because business is so slow and my employer (me) doesn’t offer health insurance coverage, and the premiums for our individual policies will be going up yet again, and I want to have money to travel, I have joined the huge throng of job-hunters, also known as The Great Unwashed.

But, man, it’s tough out there!

I attended a job fair, the Solano County HirEvent, in Suisun City on Tuesday.  It was PACKED with job-hunters but with fewer than a dozen companies and probably only the same number of actual open positions.  That’s scary.  Channel 7 News was there and I watched as the news reporter spoke into the camera, reporting that the jobless rate in Solano County is 11.9 percent.  Yikes.

I’ve got a tough road ahead of me.  Wish me luck!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Would you like a Donut with those Ants? Memories of Me Monday


{photo from flickr, by kaszeta}

TODAY’S MEMORY JOGGER:  “"Which of the following would you characterize as your taste: sour-crunchy, sweet-sugar,  or sugar-fats?"

Hm!  That’s a tough question . . . because I think I’ve been ALL of those at some point in my life {and for most of my life I’ve been all of them all the time} but, because I’m still focusing these posts on my growing up years, and because I have very limited time this evening to get this post written, I’m simply going to mention a very (and I mean VERY) funny thing that happened when I was about 12 or 13 years old.

There was a chocolate donut involved.

When my family lived in Redondo Beach, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I had my own bedroom (a benefit of having been born smack in between two brothers).  My bedroom was the smallest, because I was the only of the five kids who didn’t have to share with a sibling.  It was located at the front of our house, just inside our front door.  In fact, my louvered window opened onto our front porch (handy for sneaking out late at night, but that’s another story).  The only disadvantage was that my room also held the door that lead from inside our house into the garage, so to go into the garage without having to go outside and open the big double garage doors, everyone passed through my room.

Most of the time it was no big deal.  My mom and dad always knocked first, and I know they tried to minimize the number of times they came through out of respect to my privacy.  Sometimes summer Saturdays were a pain, if the younger kids were home, because they’d be constantly running in and out from the garage and their bikes, to the kitchen to get snacks or to the den to watch t.v., and dragging half the kids in our neighborhood with them.

Still, it wasn’t that big a deal, and they never bothered any of my stuff.

My brother, Mike, however, was another story.  He had sticky fingers. 

For money, for school supplies if he happened to need a notebook or pencil, for notes from my friends which he loved to read and then tease me about, but most of all – for anything sweet.

Candy bars, gum, licorice, Hostess fruit pies, anything with sugar, had to be hidden or the next time he strolled through my room to the garage to get his bike?  Gone.

One evening I had in my possession a chocolate donut with chocolate frosting and liberally sprinkled with chopped peanuts.  My all-time favorite donut then, and still my favorite.  I remember deciding to save the donut to eat the next morning and placing it carefully on a small plate on my nightstand.

Early the next morning, just as it was getting light, I was awakened by my door opening and swinging silently inward.  Someone came into the room.  It was Mike.  He walked quietly past my bed and though slitted eyelids I watched him stretch out his hand to open the garage door. 

His hand stopped mid-reach.  In the dim light he’d spotted that donut.

Before I could say anything or stop him, he’d grabbed it up and taken a huge bite.  More than half my donut disappeared, just like that.

Then he let out yell.  Threw the remaining donut back onto the nightstand.  Spit out what was in his mouth.  Slammed out through the door.

I sat up.  What the heck?

I switched on my bedside lamp and began to laugh.

The donut was a seething mass of black ants.

In the darkness they had been impossible to see.

I got a lot of mileage out of that incident!  Finally, something to hold over my brother’s head, to throw back at him whenever he teased me, something that sent me into endless bouts of hysterical laughter every time I told the story, or even thought about it.

Still does.

I lost far fewer sweets after that.  

{hysterical laughter}

FOR NEXT WEEK:  “Did it snow where you lived as a child?  What kinds of things did you do in the snow?”

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Always a Good Time When Bryce & Bradley Visit

Cousin Laurel had a lunch date last Friday so I she let me keep her boys for a few hours.  Bryce was at school, so Bradley came over on his own first.  We had pizza for lunch and then Brad made a sock puppet.
When it was time for Bryce to get out of school Brad and I walked over to meet him.  Well, I walked and Brad rode in the stroller!  Brad helped me figure out which gate Bryce would come out of.  When we finally saw Bryce he had on a backpack almost as big as he is!

When we got home Bryce made a sock puppet, too.

They put on a cute puppet show just for me.  Then. . .

they discovered my electronic keyboard!
Brad plays so fast his hands are blurred!  Next, Bryce took over the keyboard and Bradley did the dancing.  Check out the video!  (You need to be my friend on Facebook to view it - due to the security I have set up there - so if  you can't view it, go on Facebook and "friend" me.  It's hilarious so it'll be worth it!
Ha ha ha ha ha!!!  Told ya!

UPDATE - My Dr. Oz 28-Day Vegan Challenge RESULTS!

 {one of my fave lunches: vegan chili on a bed of crisp greens, topped with raw sliced almonds}

I first blogged about taking on Dr. Oz's 28-day Vegan Challenge on November 12, 2009.  My intent was to see if a vegan diet would lower my cholesterol, which at that time was 230 according to doctor-ordered lab tests in 09/2009, and I wrote that I would post an update after I'd gotten new cholesterol test results.

Today is February 12, 2010, three months later.  I guess my "update" is a little overdue??!!

I had my cholesterol checked in mid-December, shortly after the 28-day timeframe was over.

It was 201.

A 30 point drop!  In 28 days.

I guess you could say I was sold on the vegan diet!

I have remained on the diet {which I now call a lifestyle instead of a diet} and I feel better every day.  I'll be getting my cholesterol checked again by the end of this month, and will be interested to see if it has dropped more.  I'll only have a total cholesterol number, not a complete breakdown of the HDL, LDL, etc., because to save money I've been getting my cholesterol checked when I donate blood (the blood center currently does a cholesterol check as a courtesy to donors).  I plan to get full lab work done later this year, maybe mid-summer, and at that point I'll be able to do a comparison of my lab work from last year.

I have a feeling my doctor is going to be very pleased with me.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Freckles Rule, Boys Drool - Memories of Me Monday

TODAY'S MEMORY JOGGER: "What is the most outrageous thing you did as a teenager?"

Heh.  I really don't want to go there. Yet.  Not to mention, I did so many outrageous things as a teenager that I simply can't decide which one to write about!  So I'm going to take creative liberty and write about the most outrageous thing I did before I became a teenager.

If you've been following my "Memories of Me Monday" posts you already know that I was very shy as a child.  So shy that my older brother, Mike, was able to tell his friends that I only had half a tongue, which was why I never talked, and they believed him. 

That's why what I did one day at the age of nine really can be called outrageous.  How did I have the nerve??  Why would I have ever thought to do something like that??

But first, let me set the scene:

Just up the street from us, in a large corner house, was a family with six or seven boys, all in a row, all mean, and then finally, a girl, perhaps a year younger than me.  They were the Snedigers.  Like I said, they had a LOT of boys, all older than me, and all mean, hateful creatures.  One or more were probably pals with my brother, though I really don't remember for sure.

I do remember that they were all mean to me.  On the schoolbus or around our neighborhood, whenever they saw me, the taunting began.  At nine years old I had realized that pretty much every kid got teased about something, but I still thought I had more than my fair share of things to be teased about, that I somehow was still less OK than other kids. 

First of all, I was a girl.  That was the Snediger boys favorite topic: "little girl," "girly," "baby," and "crybaby" were among the names I was called.  As you've probably already guessed, I refused to answer back.  I just kept silent.

Secondly, I never spoke when they were around.  Ever.  Fuel to that fire was my brother's claim that I only had half a tongue.  It was endless, the things they tried, to get me to open my mouth and stick out my tongue so they could get a good look at it.  No way would I do that.  Instead I endured what seemed like very long bus rides to school, on the days that I was their target.  Thankfully, this didn't happen every day.  In fact, I think I may have been their last resort tease.  If the Snediger brothers and their friends hadn't found someone to pick on before I climbed on the bus, then I was It.  The best days were when they were already fixated on someone else.

Finally, I had freckles.  Boy-howdy, that was like a goldmine to those boys.  "Freckle-faced strawberry" was something I heard a lot, thanks to the Kool-Aid flavor of the same name.  But more hurtful was just the stuff they made up, like that I had some dread disease that produced the spots on my face, and that everyone should stay away from me or they'd end up spotted, too.

Yeah, those Snediger boys had the goods on me. I remember being relieved when the school year ended and summer began.  It would be three months before I had to ride the bus again and, by then, maybe the Snedigers would have moved away.  Meanwhile, I planned to avoid them all summer.

It couldn't have been more than three weeks later that I saw the youngest Snediger kid, the girl, out riding her bike.  I was in our front yard, just wandering around in the tall grass, swinging a stick at the heads of dandelions.  I think I may have been a bit bored.  Then I saw the girl on her bike; she'd just exited the driveway of her family's home, and was heading down the street toward me.

I have no idea now what was in my head that day, as I strolled toward the street edge of our lawn, my eyes on the girl.  As she reached our driveway, I reached the street.  Our eyes locked as she pedaled closer, until her front tire was just about to pass in front of me.

With one swift motion I thrust my stick between the spokes of that front tire.  As the wheel continued its forward rotation the stick jammed against the frame and the bike flipped completely over, and so did the girl.

She let out a short, sharp scream and then landed with a dull thud in the street.  I just stood there, the stick still in my hand, for about two beats of my heart.

Then I ran.

From the living room window I saw her pick up her bike, get back on, and ride toward home, wobbling a bit.  She looked back, once, at my house.  My heart was in my throat.  What had I done?  And how badly were those brothers of hers going to beat me when she told them about it?

I was terrified.

I was also horrified that I'd done something so mean and hateful, to someone younger than me, and who had never once been mean to me.  Her brothers had, yes, but she hadn't.

Looking back with an adult's intelligence I have to wonder if what I did came from months of pent-up anger against the teasing I'd endured, and that I finally saw my chance at retaliation.  If I couldn't get my revenge directly against the brothers, I'd take it out on their little sister.

Or, maybe I just have a mean streak.

FOR NEXT WEEK: "Which of the following would you characterize as your taste: sour-crunchy, sweet-sugar,  or sugar-fats?"

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy Lasagne to Me! Memories of Me Monday

 {May 1958 - My First Birthday}

TODAY'S MEMORY JOGGER: "Describe at least one family tradition that you remember from childhood. Do you have a favorite tradition?"

EASY!  Definitely, birthdays.

On our birthdays we ruled the day.  My favorite part was not even the gifts . . .

. . . my favorite part was dinner!

The birthday person got to choose what we'd have for dinner that day.  My dad always wanted my  mom's special meat loaf and scalloped potatoes.  He still requests that.  Strangely, I don't remember what I chose for each of my own birthday dinners but I do remember, as I got older, that I usually requested my mom's lasagne.  MmmmmMMM!

Lasagna was a big deal, a special meal, at our house.  It's labor-intensive, as anyone who has ever made it knows.  Especially if you make your own sauce like my mom did (none of that bottled stuff!).  Then the layering of the noodles, cheeses and sauce, and the topping it off with yet more cheese.  Then it had to be baked for an hour or so.  Finally, it came to the table bubbling and fragrant and accompanied by a huge green salad and garlic bread.  Wow!  In my mind it even eclipsed the cake.

{My 9th birthday}

Our birthday cake was always homemade, too, by my mom.  It was usually a round, two-layer cake, carefully frosted, and with the appropriate number of candles.  It's funny, but I don't remember what kind of cake I usually had, though I'm sure I requested chocolate as often as any other flavor, but I sure remember that lasagne! Thanks, Mom!

FOR NEXT WEEK: "What is the most outrageous thing you did as a teenager?"

Uh oh.