Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 wrapup

having read my cousin's blog where she actually THOUGHT about what happened to her this year, and her last line What about YOU? I suppose a little retrospective is a good thing.

Well it sure was not the year of the garden. The new crimson daylily has great promise, but the irrigation systems are still in disrepair and the new slate walk to show off said daylillies is going to be at least 2 years in the making, I predict. However the paver path next to the new roses may actually get done sooner since I can do much of that work myself with a bit of engineering guidance I got yesterday. Those @#$! pavers are heavy, and getting them from the car to the back will be a project. On the other hand, the tomatoes were better than last year, and now I have 2x as much veggie garden space. We will in fact have a carrot from it in our soup tonight.

I dropped $50K on the house, including new roof, retaining wall (ouch), paint, slate porch and walk, shored up garden. And it does look fine, I shall say, if you don't look at the tile cutting station in the middle of the front lawn. Actually, don't look at the lawn at all, I'm not a grass kinda girl.

I acquired a J & P Coats wooden thread cabinet with a lovely desk-top and drawers for things. We are designing a wooden cabinet to put it on for my birthday (which birthday, exactly, remains to be seen, but I am optimistic).

Probably not too surprisingly with all that going on, my productivity in the sewing room was limited to a couple of tops, a necklace from parts and stoppers etc from work to wear to trade shows, a jacket (except for button holes) from gorgeous hand-loomed fabric, and not a whole lot else that I can remember.

Oh, and I survived my rookie year as a sales specialist near the top of my group - proud of that, I am.

What's the list for 2009?
Get the blood pressure down. Lose 10 pounds and see if it helps. Exercise. do it!
Find something easy enough I can do it for a half hour in the evening with out making mistakes - even if it is to knit a plain stockinette scarf with the new bamboo needles!
Continue to bead and knit with my friends, and teach L how to read written knitting directions.
I would say eat better and drink less, but that is a lost cause. Just lose the weight some other way.
Keep my job. Don't bait the boss. Important, that one. Good luck to us all on things to do with money.

Having publicly affirmed my good intentions, I am going to replace a zipper and clean up after myself.

What about YOU?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Saturday

A week. I've been home a week. Reading the paper, Science, a Jeffery Deaver novel from the library. Not too much tea. Christmas was lovely, Santa was very generous, and the bamboo knitting needles a delight. We had friends and neighbors Christmas Eve and Day, the smoked game hens were divine, and all the bottles of wine excellent. I shall finish my jacket today, the green hand loomed wool is so lovely to work with.

The rains a week ago has all the weeds germinating, and it is going to be a big job to get them all cleared up. I put out the granules that are supposed to keep seeds from sprouting, but either too early or not enough, and I have a lot of work in front of me this spring. Ah, well, good exercise scrambling on the side of my hill. Took out more tomato plants, tore down the beans and planted peas and beets. I put in the new Pink Promise rose and the queen Elizabeth grandiflora, and worked on the path for the stone walk next to them. Off to find asparagus! What a luxury to work outside in just a shirt.

The old Mercedes has, I hope, belched its last clouds of blue smoke. A fine bargain for the new Fusion, $9 grand cheaper than when we looked at it in November. How prosperous the house looks, with a new roof, new walk and 2 new cars! An auspicious beginning for 2009, 2 new cars and 2 jobs. Who would guess we both feel so lucky to get a pay cut?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve tidings

well the stockings are hung (or laid out), Glen's gift is on the TV in the bag from the store (men!), the cookies are made and iced, the kitchen is clean. I get to prepare the rest of the dinner, go watch the National Weather Service show where Santa's sleigh is on the evening news (my favorite part), and then entertain friends and neighbors. Oh, and I still have to get my jams to the neighbors. What a luxury, to have a day to get dressed in my new Christmas apron from my friend, cook and bake and clean, and then get to eat, drink and be merry. I hope where ever you are and however you celebrate, these blessed days bring you peace and love. And presents, of course. the knitting needles came yesterday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

a quiet day at home

I'm enjoying the chance to be working in the sewing part of my office, instead of the office part of my sewing room. The house is picked up, I got a few things mended, the piles of mail have been sorted, I had the capital loss discussion with my broker this morning (yikes. it had been weeks since I looked at my stocks). I'm ready for Christmas - more about the Christmas project after it no longer needs to be a suprise. I'm online researching a new iron. I have 2 bareroot rosebushes to plant, and the sun is shining. What a nice Tuesday.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

fauna on Cliff Drive

I have had a request for a photo of the boys. According to the hunting pages, the fluffy feather on the breast is the trophy, and longer and fuller is most desirable. It is fall and they walk about in full glory in case a female shows up. The girls live on the next hill over and I have not seen them here this year. Presumably the ranges overlap.

Did you know there are multiple tortoise rescue organizations in CA, including one here in silicon valley? Well, there are, and today I mailed my application to adopt a rescue tortoise to join my 2 rescue Siamese. Hey, why not? If it eats too much in the garden I can fence it off. I think I need to do some work on my yard fences to 'tortoise proof' the yard and keep it inside, but that should not be so hard to do, and one supposes I can get some advice on this. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

three disconnected thoughts

I have finished packaging my Santa Shipments. Louie helped by rummaging in the Styrofoam to make sure everything was in place, and then by sitting proudly on top of the taped boxes to send his love to the recipients. Holiday helping hands (paws) are so welcome and cheering!

I have spent a couple of times rummaging on the Internet for a set of single-pointed bamboo needles. I cannot locate a set in smaller sizes (containing size 5 for my current project, for example), only in big sizes that I rarely use. However one can buy them singly in small sizes. Huh. The rosewood ones are loverly - I went to a yarn store to browse, and caress. I may go to another store later today. But expensive!

The company has cut our salaries to reduce overhead before things get worse. There are reports daily of my customer's companies laying off and cutting back, so the action, while unwelcome, was not unwarranted. Then I read about bailouts for the auto companies citing the network of other companies that support GM. So the government is going to spend how many million to bail out last century's technology, and how many millions to bail out science and biotech and pharmas? We are just developing personalized medicine, which would be such a blessing for people with genetic screw-ups causing autoimmune diseases and cancer. How can the government propose to invest less than a million $ in science, with a $500M jump start for the tattered economy? Come on, bureaucrats, look forward! Think of science as an integral a part of the infrastructure as bridges and buildings, for it is upon the scaffold of knowledge that industry and environmental custody can build for the next century, not the last.

Monday, December 15, 2008

the other shoe

It was a great weekend. A friend has bought an architecturally charming 5th floor condo with city views of San Jose for a good price. Two of us helped her pack Sunday until our various muscles would lift no more, then we went out for a grand Moroccan dinner. Yum! However, bad karma clung to me in spite of spending a day being generous.

The BlackBerry refuses to communicate. Spending the day in South San Fran with no phone was like not wearing shoes. The electronic leash certainly tethers the thinking. When I finally got home to get in touch with the wider world, there it was. The company has cut our salary 10% again, probably for the rest of the fiscal year which is just underway. Better than layoffs, yes, but it will be a bit harder to be cheerful this holiday understanding that things really are as bad as they seem. Yikes.

Friday, December 12, 2008

the last good perk arrived yesterday

New car day at last. Nice bright blue. Sirius radio! A whole station devoted to classical Christmas carols for my 2 weeks of Christmas! Back-up beep-beep-beeps so I won't back into the bumper behind me! Digital auto temp control! BlueTooth sync for the BlackBerry that comes out of the car speakers. Now if I can just figure out to use the audio commands - my requests to DIAL! are met with an electronic 'Choose Help or Other Options', so there is a bit of a learning curve here. All just for me to amuse myself as I drive up and down and up and down 101 for at LEAST 5 hours a week. Thanks, John (manager of the US sales force). Let me finish the mileage bookkeeping and get back to dialing for dollars here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A new lab to visit

Occasionally I get to do something new and different, and today it was to visit Kaiser's clinical lab where they run all the blood, urine and clinical tests for the Bay area. I have never been in a clinical lab. Lots of automation, lots of ice chests on conveyor belts, lots of vials of bodily fluids lined up with different colors of caps, piles and stacks of test tube racks. Lots of tracking systems and piles of print-outs. Identical instruments in rows, and then more rows of another kind of instrument. Machines to do stuff that people do in other kinds of labs I visit. I was at the State of CA forensic lab a couple of weeks ago, and that manager told me the cops run a drug panel on everyone stopped for a suspected DUI, in the event they are driving under the influence of something other than alcohol even if they are not legally drunk. My client today had a row of instrument that run opiates in urine from people in rehab. I didn't know they tested people in rehab, although it makes sense. This was a pretty big lab as labs go, about the size of an averagely large grocery store. I now have 2 jobs on my list from hell - working at an environmental testing lab and working at a clinical lab. No fun to run the same thing over and over and over and over and . . . Life could be worse, Lenore.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

knitting needles

I'd like to take a public opinion poll here. I have both polished aluminum needles which aren't as nice to use as the brushed aluminum needles. Mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told her I've always wanted a nice set of needles. Go buy them, she said. So, anyone used wooden ones and are they worth the upgrade? What would you buy if you got offered such a fine present?

Monday, December 8, 2008

9 more business days to Christmas

Our company is closing for 2 weeks and I can hardly wait. I have more stuff stacked up to do than I could get done in 2 months, and I am really looking forward to not working. It's dark so early, I feel holed up inside the house. You want to hear the list? Finish digging the sidewalk by the new roses, buy sand and walk blocks, and lay it in. Get more plants in the winter garden. Knit on my thingie. Finish the jacket I started last summer with the lovely hand-woven fabric. Finish my Christmas presents and get them mailed (maybe this weekend would be good). Weeds are growing in the yard, so time to rake leaves and de-green the dirt places. Exercise, lots of it every day. I bought some retro cherries fabric for an apron - it would be nice to wear in my ranch kitchen for the days I actually cook. Clean the walks and driveway the next time it rains. And if I actually get through all that, there is MORE fabric in my project baskets (as opposed to the stash, which is to have but not actually have a plan for).

By the way, anyone have a gift suggestion for G? He must be so tired of getting clothes, which I tend to buy because he needs sprucing up once in awhile, but it ain't fun.


The good thing about having the discipline to hang up the Christmas lights is the light itself. It is dark for so many hours, and not even very sunny the other hours, that the extra light is so cheerful. My father died a year ago this week, and I find myself in mourning again. My mother has done very well, and I'm really proud of her. I need those little twinkles this week.

My neighbor found a fox in her yard yesterday morning, in convulsions. We speculate it has been poisoned, for the animal control people tell her that rabies in foxes is not a problem in Santa Clara County. Very disturbing. I shall keep the cats in for a few days to give the fox time to die or move on. How can people be so cruel?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

the buck stops here

I don't have time for a few days to return phone calls, but just a short financial note. Every 6 months we get variable pay, and it comes this month. It will be my last big check for awhile, and will cover both fall and winter taxes and may have to stretch as far as income tax time. I am just flat out of cash, a position I have not put myself in for years. After a new roof, new paint, new fences, new walk, new garden wall, more dirt and surely other things I have forgotten already, all the $$ in the bank I put there for those purposes are gone, gone, gone. A has changed how the commission payout works, and there won't be much of that until the end of the fiscal half. Humph. One supposes in the current financial situation it is good discipline for me to watch every dollar, but I am finding I can no longer add in my head and have to use a calculator. Humph. getting dotty, I am.