Friday, October 30, 2009

Pick on Matt

Matt, my cube mate, made the mistake of telling Rachel (a super smart, fun gal in our unit)  that he wanted in on all the "top secret" meetings the Admin Picnic planners have or rather had (back in the day before horrific budget cuts when we had an annual admin picnic.  Even though we paid for the picnic, we did have it on state time. Can't do that anymore!  It was wonderful.  We learned more about our fantastic state parks and renewed our dedication to them.  We refreshed. It was a morale building, bonding experience.  My only complaint was that families were not invited - Parks employees only.)

Almost any meeting Rachel is involved with is 'top secret.'

Rachel is certain that one happy day  the budget will balance and we will have an Admin Picnic again.

Rachel told Matt that in preparation for that glad time he had to prove himself by planning a Halloween Party.  I don't know if she meant for our unit, but it became a whole section Halloween Party planned by the mentor Rachel and apprentice Matt with help later from Cynthia and Catherine. 

Lots of top secret meetings and whispering in the office.

The party was today and it was great.  Lots of people in costumes, judged by our 'celebrity' judges - one of them our deputy director, Manuel.  Awards to the Cashiering unit who all dressed as black cats with feathered pink boas and to Carrie the incredible California Happy Cow. Matt was a great Friar Tuck.  Rachel a cute cowgirl. I was in Fancy Nancy mode.  Lots of great sandwich fixings, chips, dips and treats.  Word search, Bingo.  Visiting. Including a visit by the Department Director Ruth.

A week or so before the party, our section head called for a Christmas Party committee.  Matt got volunteered. 

Yesterday, an email came down from on high asking for someone / unit to spearhead the annual departmental (ok, headquarters) Food Drive. 

Rachel emailed that Matt said he wanted to do it as he is really getting into this kind of thing.

When Matt read that, he replied that while he would be honored to work on it, the job was too much for one man so we should work together as a unit.  Turned that around, didn't he?

Either naive to the sarcasm and teasing or taking advantage of it,  our boss, Liz,  sent the word up that our unit would do it.  nice.

You do not know how disappointed I was to get the email this afternoon breaking the news that another unit volunteered before us.  Matt was quite heart-broken, let me tell you.

Now Rachel is talking about getting me on a committee.

I did suggest a Stocking Stuffing contest for the Christmas party.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday Morning

Monday, Monday!

First the weekend was just TOO short.

Then I started Monday morning with a back flat tire. The good news with that is that I learned it was a valve stem issue. Must use more care when putting everything back together because those things slip and then they tear easily. Another good thing is that I discovered it immediately upon returning home from dropping Benjamin at Seminary when I went to do my regular weekly pump-me-up. My fairly hard tire just when whooosh!. There went my bit of morning home time.

First thing at work, I discovered a stupid little mistake I made Friday that will cost me a couple of hours of work. Then the printer messed up an automated check – TWICE. I finally fooled the computer into thinking it was going to print the check, feeding scratch paper through, and hand typed the check.

All before lunch. At least, thought I, “I should get a letter from my missionary any minute.”

I did:

I was just wrapping up a long Email I was writing when the window suddenly closed! DDD=
No time to rewrite! D=
I'll have to try and fit it all in next week. =(
But, other than that, life has been wonderful. ^^ Thanks for you gift suggestions. Those that haven't sent in requests yet, please do.
See you next week! ^^
Your loving Missionary, Elder Andrew Robarts”

I always wish his letters were longer, but really!
After that, MY internet crashed.

Time Change

When I wake up on Sunday morning, I have to decide what to do first. If I get ready for church and start dinner, by the time I am ready to go on the computer, somebody else is. Yesterday, I felt that I really needed to get to it. I know we are not supposed to work on Sunday, but I had a small stack of bills I had been unable to get to. I didn’t even do emails or my Christmas shopping on-line - things I have waiting in ‘shopping carts’ but I didn’t want to use my credit card from my work computer. Just paying bills and doing some bookkeeping. I was feeling pretty relaxed and I did blog, but I didn’t go on Facebook. I thought I had another good hour or so to get ready. I left the computer to put the roast in the oven . As Ben might say, *Le Gasp!* the clock in the kitchen said 11:30 NOT 10:30 like the computer clock! Apparently, the ancient computer automatically did the Fall time change, but the time change has changed and the computer is too old to know it. I had to quickly throw on my clothes and take my make-up to put on in the car while Benjamin went to choir practice. Tense tummy. But it worked out.

Later that evening when I moved to the chair our Home Teacher had recently vacated, I realized that the poor man had probably stayed much later than he intended/or realized, but the clock he was facing was wrong, too.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

only one Saturday?!

It wasn't bad working on Friday ; ), but only having one 'Saturday' sure wasn't great.  Furlough Fridays stress the budget, but oh! the time is wonderful.  There just isn't enough time and energy for life outside of work!

I keep reminding myself that the 40 hour work week is a fairly modern blessing.  How my heart aches for all those who worked 10+ hour days and were lucky to get a half day off on weekends.  Worse, it is still that way for some even now.  Inhuman. 

I am blessed to have a job I like under circumstances that suit me so well. 

Saturday - took Benjamin to meet up with the other Scouts from our ward to go to the Capitol March.  Cub and Boy Scouts met up at Raley's Field in West Sacramento, then led by police cars and a marching band, marched along police-lined streets to the California State Capitol for speeches and ceremonies, back to Raley's Field for lunch and activities - all in celebration of BSA's 100th Anniversary in 2010.  

After leaving Ben, I did a quick shop at Raley's Food Store - mainly to get a couple of more things to put in Elder Robarts' Thanksgiving box (that I couldn't find at Winco).  As Canada's Thanksgiving is Oct 12, he will have a regular working day when we Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving.  I am sending him some  traditional Thanksgiving food - Hormel's Complete Turkey and Dressing with Gravy (the boys and I tested one just for fun - not like home, but pretty good), a little pack of instant mashed potatoes, small cans of green beans, corn and cranberry jelly, and instant cheese cake mix, some decorative napkins -  so he and his companion can have their own little Thanksgiving dinner.  I might add some little decorations and ? We'll see. I intend to mail it by Halloween.  Then I need to get going on his Christmas package.  That is supposed to get to the mission office by the end of November, too. 

I didn't do much housework - just a few dishes - before heading to Costco to get my tires rotated.  While waiting, I tested samples - contrary to what I have been told by someone I love,  Morning Moos does NOT taste like real milk - maybe like fat free milk which does not taste like real milk. I know, it IS real, dehydrated, fat free milk. And it tastes fine with cocoa!  I read "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" because I have been hearing about it alot lately.  It is aimed at the tween boy and I am not one.  It was ok.  I did some hunting (again) for something on someone's wish list, but without success. Their wish list mention is old, I fear, and Costco is always changing.  Also, I actually did a little shopping - bought real milk.  Milk is so good!

By the time my car was done and food put away, it was time to clean up and fancy up for the Ward Activity.  My go to Halloween costume now is 'Fancy Nancy's Grandmother'. fun (and fancy)  - my long black skirt with purple lace overskirt, 3 or 4 necklaces and a pink feathered boa (show your passion for life. fight breast cancer), a floppy hat with lots of flowers, and more make up than usual. - I am going to wear it again Friday at work (but not while biking - if biking.  Do I have the nerve to wear it on light rail if the weather is not bike friendly??)

Setting up for the activity was frustrating because it was out in the back parking lot and a slight breeze kept blowing the tablecloths off the tables until I started sticking them down with rolled masking tape.   Also, I find my heart is just not in it like it used to be when I was Activity Chair.  Holly, is a great chair and does a terrific job.  I don't have the time and energy to put in like I once did and she does.  I am glad to be in a supporting role now, but it just doesn't mean as much to me as it once did.  We ate good chili and corn bread, admired each other's costumes, visited with friends and family and handed out candy in our Trunk or Treat. One of the most popular activities of the year.

I don't like Halloween being such a big deal.  There are certainly other days more worthy of attention. I think it odd that we tell children to be wary of strangers and certainly not to take candy from strangers, and not to beg or eat too much candy, then make a whole holiday out of doing just the opposite.  But dressing up (when you have a cheap or better yet free costume idea)  and visiting is fun.

The ward activity and next week's work pot-luck and party are plenty of Halloween for me.   I don't plan to do much Oct 31.  We might decide to give out candy during the early little kid hours. (We saved some just in case, but I am sure we can find other uses for it.  Except not so much me, as my numbers have been bad lately - despite all that bike riding!! grr) 

Well, my one busy little Saturday is gone.   Next Friday we work, too, and have another 2 day weekend.  After that... we don't work on Friday until January!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I know you breathlessly await my biking to/from work stories

(Originally posted - in error- on The Armor of God - Thank you, Debi for showing me the error of my ways.  Thank you, Debi, for visiting.)

I did it! I actually repaired my flat back tire. I opted to patch rather than replace the tube. Found and removed the end of a thorn. And put it all back together. Thank goodness for quick release! Bicycles are so much easier than they used to be.

Thank goodness also for good bike lights and reflectors on gear. It was pretty dark before I got home.


I may have done something not quite right. There's a new funny minor little something going on in my already worn and beat up gear system. Rideable. But there is just the slightest hesitation and maybe a little noise.

Hard to tell about the noise though, as my over the back tire rack which holds my much used basket and bike bag is missing a screw (or whatever) that holds a brace. So that thing is rattling around a bit. I think it is a "special" screw, too. But I will visit my friendly hardware store soon and see if they can help.

Also, apparently you guys won't appreciate this because my son says he grabs the cross rod, but I frequently grab the back of my bike seat when I need to swing the bike around or shift it over, say when locking or unlocking up in a crowded rack situation. As I grabbed the seat last night and hefted, the seat came off. The seat has a shaft that goes into a post that goes into the tube of the frame. Some little thing on the seat shaft screws onto the threads of the post locking them together. I tried to put them back together, but could not get the bike seat shaft far enough into the post, Finally I just set them all back together and rode home to ask my boys to help.

I was really glad that my formerly loose handlebars that randomly shifted left and right, up and down had been secured. Riding a slightly swivel seat with loose handlebars would have simply been too much.

But I cannot face hoisting my bike and all the gear I carry on and off a bus and/or light rail even if I could find one with room. And from light rail, it is still two miles to home. Ride, woman, ride.

When I got home, the middle post was GONE! They wanted to know if I had left it at work! No, I had put it in the tube and the seat shaft in the post. How could it fall off with me sitting on it? Where could it have gone?! Only one place, deep down the frame tube. We tried turning the bike upside down - shaking and pounding - to no avail. Ben tried to dig it out and came out with a spring and a couple of other unidentified parts. Where did they come from? Probably inside the middle post, Benjamin said. I was pretty discouraged, but Benjamin is a detemined and resourceful young man. I thought it a bit much when he tried to get it out using a pencil! He refused the use of my screwdriver. He took apart a wire coat hanger and sent it up. (I think that's how he fished out the spring.) If you know Benjamin, you will not be surprised to know that he got the thing out and put my bike back together. (I do not know for sure that he put the spring etc back, or if he did, back correctly.) But the bike is rideable. We forgot to put the reflector back on the seat post, but it is hidden behind the rack, the cable lock, etc. I need to remember to use my flasher lights.

Benjamin said something like "I did you a favor. I got rid of a lot of useless parts." ; )
Another first. One thing I dislike about biking to work is that I prefer wearing skirts rather than pants. I have a "concert black" (that's what the label says) skirt of very forgiving material that I keep in a drawer at work, so I often change upon arrival. Today, I rode wearing a skirt. One of my plaid a-line skirts, not a long flow-y skirt that I like so much. The skirt is long enough to stay down below my knees instead of riding up embarrassingly. It worked out surprisingly well.

Now it is time to earn money for bicycle parts.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I just had to say something, didn't I

Remember Friday, I mentioned that I had been flat free for over a week?  That was stupid, wasn't it?!

This morning when I went out to go to my Gov Auditing class (3 hours after a delightful ride to work today), I found my tire completely, sickenly flat.  My BACK tire. 

Now that I am reaonably competent at changing my front tire, I get to see if I can manage the back.  Hoo-ray.  On a day when I work late to make up time for school.

Don't wait up for me, boys.

Ride into the Rainbow

Monday, October 19, 2009 with Tuesday inserts

The morning weather report was for a few scattered light showers
clearing up to sunny, mild weather. I biked in under light sprinkles
and mist – refreshing, not really wet, riding towards a beautiful
bright rainbow with a lighter double. It seemed so close; I almost
thought I would bike under the arch. However, they faded one after
the other before the illusion was corrected. ... My more scientific
sons tell me that the rainbows faded to me because I rode nearly under
them, changing the angles so I could no longer see them. To someone
further east, it might have appeared that I rode under them. Cool!

Rainbows remind me, once I cast from my mind the symbolism pre-empted
by modern groups, of God's covenant with Noah and His promises in
general. They remind me that some people say their pets have crossed
the Rainbow Bridge when they die. People, too, I suppose. They
remind of me of something I heard, but have not chased down, that
Joseph Smith said that the year one sees a rainbow is not the year
that Christ shall come. (would that be next 12 months or remaining
calendar year? I don't even know where I heard it, therefore I do not
know whether it is true that he said anything like that.) I used to
ask God to delay the Second Coming to give me time to repent as I am
burning stubble material. But I am not making the progress that I
ought to while so many innocents suffer, that now I am more likely to
pray for the Millennium to be hurried in, too bad for me. Oh, to see
that great day when the Prince of Peace rules and there is no more

The weather report changed. Apparently, the sprinkles increased to
light rain and are going to stay the day. My poor bike is out in the
rain, along with a dozen or so others. I put a plastic bag over my
seat, so it should not be sodden. It appears I will be biking home in
the rain. I brought my rain jacket and light gloves, but not my rain
pants and warm gloves. As long as it is not windy, it should not be
too bad. I am so glad that I have my (optionally) flashing lights and
reflective leg wraps! ,,,, The rain cleared in the late afternoon
and the bike home was actually quite pleasant.

Sunday was a long and busy day. Best things first. The guys and I
visited Hinds' ward, Gerber Ward, because it was their Children's
Sacrament Meeting Presentation. The first delightful thing was the
program covers each had a child's drawing of himself or his family. I
got Jared's self portrait! The children all did well. They sang and
spoke clearly, so we could easily understand the sweet message of the
importance of families. Esther was one of the few children who had
memorized their parts well enough to give it without help. Most of
the children needed a little prompting, but said their parts
charmingly nonetheless.

After the presentation, the guys and I went home for an hour before
heading off to Benjamin's choir practice followed by our usual
meetings. Another brief hour at home before we all returned.
Benjamin had Missionary Prep, which was to have been followed by a
meeting with a merit badge counselor which got postponed until
Wednesday, and a Youth Fireside. Joseph met up with his Home Teaching
companion. I had Scout Committee Meeting followed by a visit with my
Visiting Teacher as well as with passers through the lobby. We talked
about Pilot Light Testimonies. Quietly burning in the basements of
our souls. Sometimes seeing others with their flaming testimonies, we
wonder if we even have one, but it is there. Some people get prayers
answered with drama. Most of us just have quiet warm feelings or small
events that we might almost not notice. "Coincidences". The Lord
quietly opening and closing doors for us to guide us - if we will go
through the doors He opens and not try to barge through those others.

We re-scheduled our Home Teacher's visit, because that was enough for
one Sunday. It was a good day.

Friday, October 16, 2009

just becaue I haven't posted in a week

The biggest excitement about my posting today is I changed to fall colors.

I spent most of this beautiful day inside at the computer - paying bills, trying to figure out how much money I have, thinking about Christmas and the graduation celebration(s?) I want to have for David and Teresa.  I feel like I have been working hard, but I don't have much to show for it.

Maybe, I will join the Single Adults on a hike tomorrow.  Up near Lake Clementine (wherever that is) near Auburn.  Should be a lovely day.  Although, there is always so much work to do and Christmas is coming faster than my present gathering. Still thinking about it.

After my spate of unexplained flat tires, my bicycle has been flat free for over a week (knock on wood. ouch! my head hurts). I haven't been having to pump it up every day either - couple of times a week, but not daily.

Tuesday, we had a big wind/rain storm.  I did not bike.  I even drove Joseph to work and light railed from Mather.  I saw over half a dozen bikes parked outside our building, though! (Who knows how many bikers with bike lockers rode in.)  I did wonder as I waited for over half an hour in the wind and rain waiting for light rail which should have come soon after I got out there whether that was any improvement over bicycling.  However, my main concern is the safety of riding in gusty wind.  Storm over and back on my bike, biking past all the storm debris in the road is a bit exciting sometimes.

Must fix dinner. The boys are going to their sister's this evening to watch "Ironman."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

not what I expected

Came in to work early hoping for a little personal computer time. The computer wouldn’t boot up, so I called IT. They got it working just in time for my workday to begin.

Went to my Government Auditing class with some tremulation (there is no such word) – anxious to learn how badly I had done on my mid-term. Benjamin and I had ‘decided’ that the percentage I got on my exam was how likely I would be to stay in the class. Amazingly, I am 89% likely to stick with it. Even more surprising, the teacher must be grading soft because anything above 88 is an ‘A’!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Long Week Already

My first conscious, or rather semi-conscious thought when I heard the alarm this morning is, “That’s not supposed to go off on the weekend. Oh, it must be a weekday. What day is it? I think it’s Wednesday.”

Of course, when I checked, I learned it is only Tuesday.

Monday morning as soon as I returned from dropping Benjamin and his bike off at Seminary, I got my own bike out ,wondering if there would be any air in that pesky front tire. Yes! I did the (semi)regular pump’em up to target range and was pretty happy. Good ride in. But did you guess? It was flat when I went out to go home. Grr. I pumped it up and rode on it.

Benjamin and I checked everything again and I put a second patch on the tube – not in the same place. Ben found a tiny thorn stuck in the tire. Hooray! A reason eliminated. Maybe now the flats will stop. We pumped it up to 100psi.

This morning the tire had air, but was spongy again. Sigh! I pumped and rode. Not bad time for on incompletely inflated tire.

When they tell you that bicycling is good exercise, they don’t mention that they mean all the pumping air into tires, not pumping the pedals.

More fun for your friend.  First mid-term for Governmental Auditing today in about an hour.  To say that I have not adequately studied would be an understatement.  He has emailed us reams of "hand-outs" which we should know.  Did  I tell you that I had not planned on taking any classes this semester, but a co-worker persuaded me so she would have a study buddy - then she dropped the class! 

Saturday, October 3, 2009

trying to do a quick catch up before heading off to conference

First, a deeply felt, whole-hearted Amen! to Sariah's post Have you ever wondered..?

now, back to my story  ; ) -

By the time I got to work Wednesday, the tire was spongy again and, of course, flat by the time it was time to head home.  I simply pumped it up as best I could and rode on it.   Back home, I took it apart again and looked in vain for pokies.  The hole was in a different place.  Tuesday, it was against the wheel; Wednesday on the side.  Could not find a cause!

Tom called wanting to go to Lowes - ready to begin working on venting the attic!  So I left my bike in pieces in the front room, spent a hour or so discussing educational theory  with Tom - he brought it up - he's been reading something like Thomas Jeffersonian Education and now thinks that we did some things very right in our attempts to home school. We agreed that too often public education sucks the joy out of learning whereas the key to success is to learn to learn , to learn to learn,  reading skills, and a key thing to him - mentoring.  I am not sure what he thinks I did right, except encouraging you to take some theater at SCC - something you were interesting, but I could not help much with.  Spent $400 plus.  Invested, I say.  Came home and put the bike back together.

Thursday morning, to my dismay, Ben decided there wasn't time to get his bike out.  I was not happy. But he came out of Seminary more quickly than usual and I still managed to bike in.  ; )  The patch held and I did not have another flat. 

That night (after my bedtime) Tom came over after one of his meetings. He and Benjamin did some preliminary work in the attic.

Friday morning soon after Seminary, Tom was back.  He and the boys - Ben until his Psych class - installed four attic vents and a solar fan.  Hopefully, the  whole house fan will work better now!

I spent most of the day shopping and prepping food for conference.  Miriam changed the menu, making things simpler for me.  She is bringing pulled pork and buns, so I am just bringing PB and jam sandwich fixings.  She talked me into Stuffed Eggs instead of egg salad sandwich stuff.  I did the layered dip and a veggie tray.  Plus grapes, bananas and oranges.  She is bringing brownies, too.   Costco didn't have the ice cream sandwiches I like to get for the missionaries.  ; ( 

Now I had better finish loading up and get going.

Off to sit at the feet of living apostles and prophets!