Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rainy, rainy Thursday morning

It doesn't rain a lot here in Southern California - there's even a song title to that effect for heaven's sake - but every once and awhile we do get a wonderfully gloomy, gray day.  Today is one of those days.  55 degrees and rain.  The garden and lawn will be happy for the moisture, and I'm happy for a day to be cozy.

We're going to be taking a road trip to Nebraska soon and Zac decided at the last minute that we needed to get the headliner fixed on the car before we left.  The headliner is that fabric that covers the ceiling(?) of your car.  Ours has been slowly peeling away over the last year and for some inexplicable reason Zac decided that it needed to be fixed within 24 hours of us leaving on a three-day road trip.  Never mind that we still need to do laundry, pack and take the dogs to our friend's house.  (Which is a 1.5 hour round trip in and of itself.)  This is on top of the fact that I was given a work assignment a few days ago that takes a fair amount of time.  I had been working on some short, sweet assignments for the preceding few weeks and I figured, what the heck, I'll ask for one more before I leave for Nebraska, figuring I'd get another day or two of work in before we left.  Of course instead of one of the nice six to eight hour assignments of the last fortnight, I got one of those good 20-25 hours beasts.  My original goal was to have it completed by tonight, so I could upload my work and focus on enjoying the drive and the time in Nebraska.  That isn't going to happen, meaning I will have to find the time to work either on the way to, or in, Nebraska.  Hopefully I'll be able to get it done in the two nights on the way there so I can upload the work while I'm still at a hotel that has internet access.  (Zac's folks have dial-up.  I love my in-laws, but in many ways having dial-up in 2012 is almost not like having internet access at all.)

Having dropped off the car at the auto upholstery shop, I am sitting at a Starbucks looking out at the rain and sipping on a hot chocolate.  I applaud their choice of the Nutcracker for our listening pleasure. It's classical, which is soothing and makes my neurons fire better.  But is also familiar so I find myself happily bobbing my head along with the music as I plunk away on my keyboard.  I've been here for an hour and a half already, and I'm trying to figure out the appropriate frequency of purchasing beverages to justify my sitting here.  I don't think a tall hot chocolate is going to buy me four hours of favor from the baristas.  

I don't know how people can actually work or study in a busy Starbucks.  (Though I claim to be working, obviously I'm blogging, an indication of how hard it is for me to focus in here.)  I had the option of staying at the auto upholsterer, but their shop wasn't exactly designed for waiting customers.  Their reception area was a desk with a phone and shelves stocked with hundreds of rolls of fabric and leather.  There was an old, worn seat from a car on the floor in one corner of the room and a miniature step-ladder in the other, but neither one looked like something I would want to sit on for multiple hours while balancing a laptop.  I needed some place more customer-friendly.

So here I sit, looking at the rain, sort of working.  I think it's time for some tea . . .

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I love this time of year

I am one of those end-of-the-year junkies who loves, Loves, LOVES the time between Nov. 1 and Jan. 2.  This was even true back in the days of working at B&N.  Some folks working retail do not enjoy the chaos that envelopes stores these last two months of the year, but I thrived on it.  I looked forward to it.  It was like a triple shot of espresso every time I clocked in.  I loved the phones ringing off the hook, the lines of customers following me through the store as I fielded questions left and right and deposited them at the location of their answer.  I enjoyed the playlist that the music department played, especially the Christmas album with the Muppets and John Denver.  That one was pretty awesome.  I even enjoyed it when the parking lot got covered with enough snow that people didn't have any clue on how to park, and it turned into a terrifying exercise in navigation.  The Christmas season was the only time of year that I actually bought into Big Corporation's goals, and I eagerly looked forward to finding out how much business our store did on each Saturday in December.  I felt it was a badge of honor - "Yeah, I survived that much business on Saturday. Gold star for me."

I don't get to enjoy the same rush of the season now that I'm out of the retail game, but I do have enough other holiday activities to make up for some of the adrenalin loss.  For example, this year I was able to covertly sneak back to Minneapolis to help my mom with our church's annual Holiday Boutique.  I purposefully didn't tell any of my friends that I was going to be in Minnesota for almost a week.  I knew that almost all of my time on this trip would be devoted to helping my mom, and I didn't want to feel bad for saying no to people who might have wanted to hang out.  The Boutique is a large undertaking and my mom was going to be a little short handed this year in terms of help.  (The number of church members is dwindling and the existing members are aging.)  I was happy to be home for a few days, feeling like I was contributing. Often times I feel like I don't carry my weight in my family.  I'm not home to help out my sister or Grandma, I'm not there to babysit my nephews.  It felt good to help out my Mom, and have her, my sister and I working like a well-oiled machine at the Boutique.  I'm happy to report that this was the church's most profitable Boutique ever.

This time of year also brings holiday music on the radio and Christmas lights through the neighborhood.  This is our second year celebrating Christmas in San Diego, but last year we were still living in a (mostly) empty house in military housing.  There were no decorations, no lights, no tree.  This year I am sublimely happy.  The house is cozy, the tree is up and adorned.  We have stockings hanging by the fireplace.  I've got a list of cookies and candies that I'm going to undertake for the first time this year (I'm looking at you krumkake) and my freezer and fridge are stocked with voluminous amounts of butter.  I believe I have all the flours, sugars and extracts that I will be needing, so on any given day this week you will probably find me elbow deep in pantry staples as I make holiday magic happen in the kitchen while being serenaded by Bing, Perry and Nat. It is the most wonderful time of the year.