Sunday, October 17, 2010


Not sure we’re quite ready for THIS yet, but it’s something that fascinates me.  Tiny homes!  Tumbleweed Tiny houses, to be precise.  Mike and I toured this one in Sebastopol, CA., last weekend.  It’s even on wheels in case you need to move! 20101009_0118Jay Shafer owns Tumbleweed Tiny homes and this little beauty is his personal residence.  He’s lived in it for about 6 years now.20101009_0120This is the second time I’ve seen this particular little house, but Mike’s first.  He was pretty amazed at the size. 20101009_0119 Two comfy chairs in the living room with an eensy pellet stove in between.  Across from them, on the other side of the room is a built-in desk just big enough for a laptop and writing surface, where Jay does all his work and runs his business.

20101009_0123Every inch of space is used: built-in shelves hold office supplies and kitchenware.


A ladder, which can be tucked away when not needed, is the only way up to the sleeping loft.  Lovely!20101009_0125 The tiny, two-burner stove (probably propane).20101009_0122 The crock hold Jay’s water for cooking & dishwashing.  Gravity-operated ;-)20101009_0129More storage just outside the tiny bathroom which has a shower and a composting-style toilet.   Sorry, no photo. 20101009_0127

For better photos visit the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company’s website.  You can also check out all of Jay’s other designs.  My fave is the Epu.  I’m trying to talk Mike into helping me build one of these little beauties in our backyard.

Wouldn’t that be fun?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Keepin’ it Real – in Cubicle-World

Back by popular demand, this post was originally published on:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Keepin’ it Real – in Cubicle-World

I’ve been feeling a little guilty about my last post.  True, I still believe that cubicle-world sucks.  And I’d rather not have a day job but, at the same time, I am incredibly lucky to have it, in this economy, when so many people are out of work, and have been for weeks, months, or a year or more.  THAT sucks!

And now that I’ve complained and whined about the stuff I don’t like at my new job, let me tell you about some of the stuff I DO like about my new job.

The people.  As a group they are great.  Very nice – the biggest wig will say hello to you in the hall, and make sure they introduce themselves to new employees.  I haven’t seen it yet, but I hear the OWNER of the company shows up from time to time and treats everyone the same – because we are all important.

I know!  You hear about that kind of attitude, but you rarely see it.  I was skeptical at first until I put that in context with some of the things that have happened in the three short months that I’ve been there.

For example, on the 3rd of July an email came out from Human Resources telling everyone to go home after they’d worked just 6 hours instead of 8.  And that the entire next week, following the Monday off, would all be casual days – jeans and tennies!  (And if you work in corporate America you know how we worker bees LOVE casual days!)

Then there’s the walking club.  The owner and the Big Wigs (and I use that term affectionately ‘cuz so far I haven’t met one I don’t like and who has not treated me with kindness and respect) are all very concerned about their employees’ health and fitness.  We have a walking club, anyone can join, we walk as a group (for safety, mainly) on Mondays and Fridays.  You keep track of how many times you walk and when you’ve got 20 walks you get a $25 gift card (I forget to where but am sure it’s somewhere cool) OR when you’ve got 40 walks you GET A DAY OFF!!!

A day off!  That’s why I don’t know where the gift card is good for - because I’m so focused on getting that extra day off!  WOOT!

The company also put on an awesome Health Fair this summer where we got free cholesterol screenings, body fat checks, blood pressure readings, and lots of swag from local businesses like a direct-to-you produce company, Weight Watchers, Jamba Juice, and so on.  And there are on-site Weight Watchers meetings for anyone who wants to join that group.  Yep, they meet right in our conference room twice a month – how convenient!

Also, there are giveaways.  On my first day I was given, in a reusable tote bag made from recycled materials (because the company is making every attempt possible to be “green”), a Paula Deen signature skillet.  It’s very cool.

Twice since then I’ve won stuff – cookware, of course, since that’s what we do at this particular company, manufacture and sell cookware.  I won some Rachael Ray products in a raffle (yep, we make her stuff, too) and then, at a tailgate party in our parking lot (where the executives did all the cooking, and they even had veggie-burgers!) I won more stuff.  Within a year or so I figure I’ll completely replace all the old stuff in my kitchen with brand new stuff!

Oh, and I guess some higher-ranking person or another is a big A’s fan because during baseball season there are free tickets every other day for every reason you can think of and sometimes for no reason at all.  AND, get this: if you win tickets and it’s an afternoon game?  You get the afternoon off.

You read that right.

You get the afternoon off to go to the baseball game.  PAID time off.  AND a free parking pass.


Birthdays are special.  Cubicles are decorated with balloons and streamers so everyone in the building can go by and extend birthday greetings, special coffee is brought in for the birthday “kid,” maybe a gift or special bakery treat, and always a card.

New babies are HUGE.  Even the male employees get baby showers (whether they like it or not) with duck-shaped cakes and gifts.  Employees who move on to jobs at other companies are sent off in style and wished well and – missed.

So, in spite of my initial complaining and the feeling-sorry-for-myself attitude, I’m quite happy at my new job.  If I have to work - and until Mike and I are old enough to collect our Social Security, and until Obama has issued us our “free health care” cards, I do have to work - well, I’m glad I work there.

Oh, and I have pictures in my cubicle now.  :-)

Cubicle World Sucks, Comrades!

Back, by popular demand, this post was originally published on:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

“Cubicle-World Sucks, Comrades

I couldn’t very well say that while I was smugly self-employed because, well, it just seemed cruel, not to mention just plain mean.

But now that I’ve re-joined the ranks of the employed, and am again spending my days in a cubicle like so many of you, I’m just gonna come right out and say it:

Cubicle-world sucks, Comrades!

Not only do I occupy a cubicle again but someone besides me now controls every hour of my workday.  No more lunch in the garden with my cats.  No more tossing a load of laundry into the washer anytime I want, and then taking a blissful 20 minutes to hang it on the line, outside, where the sun shines and the birds are singing.

No more sitting on the patio in the mid-afternoon to watch the bees coming and going, enjoying their busy humming.  No more naps on the daybed in the front bedroom sharing the sun spot with two cats.

Now I sit sit in a 4 foot by 4 foot square with 3.25 walls, two work surfaces, a shelf and a cabinet surrounded by metal and plastic and industrial-strength carpeting, everything in shades of brown, grey, or black.

I’m still new there so don’t know all the little idiosyncracies of the company yet, but I have already noticed the lack of decoration in the halls separating our little cubies.  Seems there’s some kind of managerial decree against posters, flyers, or anything else.  The hard outer walls are quite plain, too; not even a clock to be seen.   The lack of clocks forced me to bring in a tiny clock of my own because I stopped wearing a watch years ago, and I refuse to start again.  I depend on my Groupwise calendar to remind me of meetings, and I use my little clock to let me know when it’s time to go to lunch, or home.

Employees ARE encouraged to decorate – a bit – in their own cubies, with family photos and a trip souvenir or two.   I have noticed a few cubicles that are quite crowded with its occupant’s personal treasures but those same people have mentioned that they’ve been called “packrat” or told that their cubicles are “messy.”  Yet they keep everything anyway.

I like that bit of rebellion. 

So far I have not taken in anything personal except a tote bag that my mom got for me on her recent trip to  visit my sister in Australia.  It’s bright greens and purples and has a kangaroo on it.  I keep my walking shoes and socks in it and hang it from my coathook.

It’s the one bright spot in my little cubie.  So far.  I do plan to eventually take in some photos.  Really.  Every morning as I’m getting ready to go to work I think about quickly printing out some photos to take in and display but then I leave without doing it.

I’m just not reconciled to cubicle-world.

Not yet anyway.