Monday, September 8, 2014

ON THE MOVE

We finally decided that we are going to take a lease on my sister's house when she moves in September.

We have lived in Pleasanton, for the past 14 years, so moving to a larger city will be interesting.  I grew up in Walnut Creek when it was a sleepy little burb - it isn't like that anymore.  We are accustomed to our quiet little city, living walking distance from downtown.  We don't deal with much traffic or crowds and that will change dramatically when we move.  Plus we will miss our local places and people.

We have been spending a lot of time clearing out clutter: selling, tossing and donating stuff.  We took a truck full to the dump - including poor old Frosty who has seen better days!   Getting organized for the trauma of moving has taken the larger part of the summer.

Isn't moving on that list of the most stressful things a human can do?  If not, it should be.... It is certainly stressful on my back, hard on my sleep and a challenge to our marriage!

The movers arrive 9/20 - more later from our new abode.



Monday, July 28, 2014

ON THE BIKE AGAIN

We have not been out on the bikes much this month.  I managed to hurt my back and spent a week or so babying the spasms, hunched over crab-like during the work days and alternately on heat and ice in the off hours. It's better now, but heat, visitors and life have also filled the weekends this month.

We finally ventured out on a new path this Saturday morning.  We left very early so we could be safely tucked into our air conditioning before the predicted 95 degrees descended.

We parked in Niles and hopped onto the
Alameda Creek Trail heading for the Hayward coast.  The trail is mostly flat and well paved.  We were heading for the coast, so there was a headwind, but at least it was cool.  Others on the path were sparse, friendly and well behaved, which made it a real pleasure.
A hazy view over the preserve toward San Mateo.

The paved trail ends at the Eden Landing Ecological Preserve, a large marsh land which occupies space between the San Mateo and Dumbarton Bridges.  We looked over the bay toward the path we have frequently biked between San Mateo and the SF airport!  It was a bit hazy, but it was fun to be on the other side of the bay, looking over to the side where we have spent so much time.

We finished the 25 mile round trip more slowly than we have in the past - we are out of conditioning!  Hope to be back our on the bikes next week and get those legs back in shape...



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I NEVER

Things I have never done and don't think I will - thought I have always told my kids "never say never..."

1.  I have never seen a Planet of the Apes movie and I will not see the new one coming out - really Hollywood?

2.   I have never taken a selfie.  Maybe the occasion will come up, but I will never buy a "selfie stick" in order to make myself look thinner when taking a selfie.

3.   I have never eaten a funnel cake or deep fried watermelon or Twinkie.

We went to the fair and there was so much food, food, food - some interesting and enticing stuff, though the 90 degree heat made for the longest lines for frozen lemonade and ice cream...  I did indulge in a frozen banana. Yum.

4.   I have never participated in a triathlon -   Except as a Course Marshall trying to keep the cars from hitting the bike riders.  On the way back they had to cross 5 lanes of traffic.  It was just Tom, me and 1 traffic officer.

Nerve wracking!!  But fun.

5.  I never thought Joan Rivers was funny - the fact that she has made herself rich and famous for being  mean and hateful, especially directed at women, really bothers me.  That she can't take criticism does not surprise me.

What do you never?

Monday, June 23, 2014

THE TRIAL OF JURY DUTY

As  I mentioned many weeks ago when I last managed to post, I was summoned to jury duty in Federal Court for a trial scheduled to last for 3 months.  Last Friday was my first required appearance at the courthouse in San Francisco.

I got up at 5:30 in order to get to BART (our mass transit system) in order to arrive by 8 am.  Other than fumbling around like an old lady when I tried to figure out how to pay for parking, that part of the day went smoothly.  I managed to find my way to the courthouse, make it through security and up to the jury assembly room with 10 minutes to spare.

There were about 80 of us gathered, we watched a video extolling the life affirming experience of serving on a jury and the crowd seemed to be pretty pumped up, even more so when the staff took over to explain about being paid $40. a day plus mileage for serving on the jury.  As more details were discussed, we found out that a remarkable number of us had not read the materials we were sent and had no idea that it was a lengthy trial. The mood shifted to panic.  Then we were offered a possible way out!  We simply had to fill out a 50 page questionnaire for the judge and attorneys to review.

After being able to explain the hardship of being unpaid for 3 months and the fact that I would also be required to reimburse my employer the $1800 per month  health insurance premium my paycheck wasn't covering, I felt confident that I didn't need to be too strategic on the rest of my answers.  I was honest: "Would I consider the testimony of law enforcement officers more reliable than other testimony?"  Absolutely not!!  "What is my experience with local police officers?"  I believe they target people of color and especially young men. There were questions on guns, gangs and tattoos - which gave some insight to the subject of the case.  Also various questions about our family, hobbies and education.

When I told Tom about my answers, he was certain I would not be required to return on Monday for the next round in the process.  Not so.  I called in at 5 Sunday night to find I had to report at 8 on Monday morning.  Everyone at work was freaking out,  apparently things had not gone well with me out of the office on Friday...

So up early, back on BART and to the assembly room, then shuffled to another room where we sat for the better part of an hour, then herded down 2 flights of stairs to courtroom only to find it was the wrong room, back up two flights of stairs to the assembly room for another 30 minutes.  The clerk came in and dismissed about 10 of us for unstated reasons.  Another wait, then herded back downstairs to the correct courtroom where they spent 30 minutes lining us up in order and getting us seated.

The judge came in, made some remarks and began the process by speaking with about a dozen of the jury candidates about their financial hardship requests for dismissal - my request was not addressed.  The judge and about 20 of the 30 attorneys in the room had a side bar to discuss who would be released.  They let about 7 more go.  then the judge spoke with people who had other hardship requests - one guy was an insomniac after 30 years on the graveyard shift and he sleeps all day, one woman's husband was being deployed and she was moving in with her family, a couple of unemployed people - that sort of thing.  They side bared again and let 5 more go. I was getting nervous and a little ticked off.

By now it is noon.  My stomach is growling so loudly my neighbors are commenting, we are not allowed to eat or drink (though the attorneys have cups of coffee and jugs of water.)  Finally the judge asked if there was any reason anyone else had for not being able to sit on the jury - my hand went up - along with about 10 others.  They went around the room, heard our explanations and had another side bar.

As I looked around the room I realized that there was 1 African American left, 2 white women in addition to me, 4 white men and the remaining pool was Asian.  If they were making some decisions for the sake of diversity, this may not come out in my favor.

There were clearly going to be multiple defendants and were likely to be a multitude of "counts" against them. Sitting in the courtroom, seeing all the attorneys, all the files and paperwork stacked up everywhere took me back to my law school days - but didn't make me want to toss my life aside  for 3 months and join them.

I was allowed to leave after that round leaving behind about 40 people from which 17 would be selected.  I suspect that it would be a genuinely unique life experience to serve on a jury, and, as I wrote on my questionnaire - send for me next year after I stop working, and I am all in.



Monday, June 2, 2014

STILL HERE #2

The top pf Coyote Point, overlooking SFO - we rode the
shore line trail and up the hill last weekend.
Working, working, working - many hours of overtime each week,  along with the raise  I got (yea!) makes my paychecks  much more satisfying.  Two of the 3 projects I took on are winding down so I may get some breathing room and the opportunity to take a bit of time off.  Or at least stop going in at 7 am!!

Then again - I have been called for jury duty in US District Court for a trial lasting from June 23- August 31!!  I won't know until June 20th or 23rd if I am selected...

Weekends have been nice - lots of bike rides, some outlet shopping, going out for meals and cocktails. Some organizing, donating and packing of stuff for our move in September. Visits with the kids and family.  Reading a lot in the evenings.

Got my mosaic area out from under the tarps and found 3 projects I had forgotten were waiting for grout!
I have ideas for posts I'd like to write - hope to have the time and energy to get back to all the things I enjoy and have been neglecting.

How are you gearing up for summer fun?






Monday, May 5, 2014

LONG TIME NO BLOG

I got tired of being tired and always whining and decided not to post until I had something to say which didn't
include bike riding or complaining.

So, let's see.

My son Zac has been accepted to grad school at Portland State University.  In September he will start working toward his MA in Education, Educational Leadership and Policy with a specialization in Post-secondary, Adult and Continuing Education.  He will also ear certificated in Service Learning and something else I can't remember right now...So proud of him, though very unhappy he will be so far away after all these years of being able to hang out with him in lovely Monterey...  He promises he will come back to California but I know these things evolve on their own.

Our Maggie, being a case in point far away in Philadelphia.  She is being pursued for a new, very exciting opportunity which I will not reveal until it is a done deal.  I will mention that my dear friend and high school BFF was visiting Philly last week, had lunch with Maggie and had lovely things to say about her.  Proud mommy, me.

Allison is a week or so away from starting her senior year - though it looks like it may be more like 3 semesters to finish her degree.  She has already started a challenging internship which she will toil through this summer - but it is actually paid!

I have signed on to Mrs. G's Baby Steps Challenge and my goal is to handle the annoying people I must deal with at work - actually, I need to deal with the way I deal with them better.  My new mantra is something about there always being waves but we can learn to surf.  I searched Pinterest for a nice graphic to go with the pithy saying but came up with stupid looking things written on driftwood with little anchors and crap like that...  So I am visualizing the ocean and taking deep breaths and thinking about surfing waves when people are pissing me off.  That and getting my desk changed to another space away from all the craziness are really helping!  I also got a new computer which actually works efficiently and has a gigantic monitor.  Cool.

Tom and I were cheered to learn while watching 60 Minutes last night that we are doing the right thing for our longevity by exercising, socializing and going to Happy Hour at least 2 times a week.  In fact the suggestion that we have 2 drinks a day may add another couple of cocktails to the week.  Whoohoo!


Monday, March 31, 2014

FOOL NOT ONLY IN APRIL?

I wonder sometimes if I am just a foolish person.  Not in all aspects of my life - but specifically in my work
life.

When our finances made it necessary after 16 years out of the workplace (and while I still had my kids in school,) that I find an income and health insurance, I had one restriction - no commute.  After 8 months of job seeking with poor response and no results, I drifted down the ladder in terms of the types of jobs I applied to.  I found that trying to get directly back to the management level or field I left was not going to happen.  If I applied for management jobs the response was negative due to being out of the market for so long and when I applied for entry level I was questioned about why I would do that work with my background.  Plus I was turning 50.

After nearly a year of job searching, I took the job I was offered,  and was pretty much running the small business after a couple of years.  The only reason I left after 5 years was because of a new hire who chased out a couple of us long time employees in order to rule the roost.  It was an awful experience to go through.  I still get upset when I think about it.

I cycled through  a couple of low pay, dead end jobs.  Now I'm in another small business finding that after a year I am, again, running much more of the business than I was hired for.  I am working a lot of hours, having sleepless nights and anxiety over my workload.

The owners of the business contribute a great deal to my anxiety because they over  promise and then dump a lot of their work onto the small staff on top of our already substantial workload. It's been escalating for months.  In fact we are all looking forward to them taking a week of vacation because it may give us the chance to catch up.  The fact that they get to go to a warm, sunny place for a week, away from the devastation they are causing and we get to clean up the mess is not lost on any of us.  But there it is.

So, today, on April Fool's Day, I  wonder if I am just a fool to care so much, to work so hard, to take so much of this burden to heart for business owners who have the attitude "that's what you get paid for" about their employees who are really working above and beyond our "pay grade."  (I am paid $16.00 per hour,  $4.00 per hour less than the person I replaced and $5.00 per hour less than I was earning 5 years ago.)

I hope to stop working all together later this year - thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I don't have to work for health care coverage.  In the meantime, this fool is trying to find a better approach to getting through the day, be a good employee and co-worker and still leave it all behind when I go home for the night!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

FRIDAY FAST ONES

1.)  What is it about my appliances that makes them stop working in pairs?  First the refrigerator and hot water
heater stopped working within weeks of each other - thank goodness they only required repair which we deduct from our rent...the only benefit of renting that I can see.

This weekend I no sooner plugged in my new toaster oven (and used a magnifying glass to read the teeny tiny symbols on the dials) than I found my steam mop no longer steams. The warranty expired recently. Won't be replacing it with the same model, that's for sure.

2.)  These early days of daylight savings are hard.  I have more trouble getting a move on in the dark mornings and then find I want to do errands and stuff after work because it feels weird to go home and make dinner in broad daylight.

On the other hand, I refilled our propane tank and have already grilled twice since Saturday!

3.)  I have been wanting to write a long post about e-cigarettes, - perhaps I will someday again find the time and energy to write long posts about all kinds of things!

Anyway, my husband who has smoked since he was about 12 is now three months tobacco free.  He is not nicotine free, however.  And that is actually okay.  Tobacco is the carcinogenic aspect of smoking, nicotine the addictive part.  The "haters" of the e-cigarette are not telling the truth on this issue.  I am not an apologist for the use of nicotine.  It is a stimulant and may have other negative effects on health - so does drinking too much caffeine or alcohol and eating too much sugar or bacon. Just saying, when it comes to the health cost of smoking, it isn't the nicotine causing the problem.

I have a husband who is finally not inhaling tobacco smoke into his lungs. He stopped coughing within a week of being off tobacco.  He uses his e-cigarettes and snus packs and plans to decrease use of those over the next year. I consider that a major victory and all the e-cigarette haters can stuff their lies and misdirected outrage.  He has used his e-cigs in all kinds of public places for several months and has never had a negative reaction much less a complaint.

I am really proud of him for making this big effort.  He actually loves smoking and misses his tobacco. He has done this to improve his health.  I hope the anti e-cigarette people don't mange to make them harder or more expensive for people to use - the alternatives are so much worse.


4.) We have been recording the Jimmy Fallon Tonight Show every day and loving it.  His monologues aren't much but the skits, games and general feel of the show is so fun and upbeat.


5.)  I didn't write s biking post last weekend - I am feeling strange about that being the only subject I post lately...

We tried going off road - I have now run into something I am just not up for, even with my "hill assist."  It freaks me out and brings my fear of falling off the bike right up front and center.  So no more of that for me.  However, our nearby regional park,  Lake Chabot, is fabulous! Next time we go we are going to rent kayaks and paddle around.



Monday, March 3, 2014

WET & WILD RIDE

View from the Double Barrel - sunshine!
 It was so windy on Saturday and the forecast for Sunday was for no wind with  0% chance of rain.  When we set out for Livermore the skies were ominously dark, but it wasn't very cold and, after all, a zero percent chance of rain...

We did some errands.  I got a cool jersey at the bike shop - short sleeves, so it will be a while before I actually wear it - and hung out waiting for brunch to start at the Double Barrel. It was getting windy and cooler - but we had a leisurely breakfast and as we left the restaurant the sun broke through.

Rain ahead....
When we reached the path back to Pleasanton, the skies turned dark again, the wind came up and we could see we were riding directly into rain coming down a couple of miles ahead.

We just laughed and peddled on.  What else could we do?

Luckily, the rain didn't come down in buckets, but we were plenty wet when we finally got home.  A hot shower and a cup of tea  took care of the chill.



Hey Maggie!!  The poppies are blooming!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

NEW BIKING SPOT

Crystal Springs water level is very low - but still lovely.
Last weekend we finally got some rain and the weekend before that we just didn't go for a ride for some reason so we made a special effort this weekend to get out on our bikes.  We  wanted to use the new bike rack so we hit the road for a new biking spot -  the Crystal Springs Reservoir near San Francisco.

The day was another warmish, sunny one, the air fresh because we had a small rain storm move through last night. The reservoir is low due to our drought, but the crowds were out hiking and biking.

The Pulgas Water Temple
We finally found a safe place to park and get on the
road.  We lucked out because we ended up in an area that had closed the road to cars for several miles.


We had great views of the reservoir, beautiful scenery and after a few more miles, to some spectacular homes and horse properties.

We rode about 15 miles along that area then put the bikes back on the car and drove over to the San Mateo coastline and got on the bikes again and rode down toward the SF airport.  We stopped for a snack and watched the planes coming and going for a while, then rode back to the car and went home.  I did a few chores and then realized how tired I was and collapsed on the couch for a while!