Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 ends with a pheasant

Work is getting back to what passes for normal there. I
was actually able to sit at my desk and work on a few
projects and overdue reports yesterday. It even looks
like I can get to the museum one day next week ~ I feel
guilty when I talk to customers from L.A. who fly up
here just to go to our museums.

Tonight Husbando is fixing pheasant for New Year's Eve.
His daughter sent it to us (I wrote the thank you note)
and I believe he will also serve risotto. I work tomorrow
so we won't be flying to Paris, France or Paris, Texas
today to celebrate the New Year.

I counseled one of my supervisors to use that French
Seven with the line across it in all her hand written
work next year. It is my duty to train the young. I also
taught her to go to Walgreen's on company time and
not to schedule me for Floor Manager the moment I
arrive in Retail Wonderland. She is a fast learner. She
already quickly learned to laugh at my little jokes....

Saturday, December 30, 2006

and the cat box is in the corner

yesterday a customer asked me:

Do you have restrooms for people?

Friday, December 29, 2006

more on xmas, more about women

Thanks to the Blogmaid for this wonderful quote in her
email this morning:

And this from Anna Quindlen's column in the January 1, 2007
Newsweek: "In
1874 a British actress named Fanny Kemble wrote
'Christmas is a season of
such infinite labour, as well as expense
in the shopping and present-making
line, that almost every woman
l know is good for nothing in purse or person
for a month afterwards'."

Odd, only yesterday I told Husbando not to even concern his
pretty little head about writing thank you notes to HIS children
this year, as I was going to take care of that task. He has never
had to worry about this holiday (and
not because he's Jewish)
because it is still, despite some gains in Women's Rights, a very
women-do-it-or-it-doesn't-get-done kind of "holiday". Grrrrrrr.

Yesterday we went to Target and the shelves were BARE. I saw
3 clerks gossiping in the back of the store, pretending to
resticker merchandise, and I refrained from suggesting that
they might want to pick up the pace a bit. Then one suggested
a break and I knew that all was well again in their Retail World.
(Not mine, never mine.)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

a quiet table for two

levi plaza & coit
Originally uploaded by the omster.
Alas, not a great shot from Levi Plaza with Coit Tower in the background, but I wanted you to know that we do venture out of the Mish from time to time. Last night we had a Basque dinner at the extremely warm and charming Piperade restaurant down on Battery Street. Every time we go here (not often enough) Husbando has to go inside the yuppie workout club and ask directions. By now they know him. It was brisk out making for a bracing "where the hell is it?" kind of walk. He had that thinly sliced salty ham and then a fish stew and I the garlic fat shrimps and duck. I told Husbando what is going on at work, not that I really know, and he listened and was once again my Business Advisor. Fortunate woman (me).

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

goodbyes: Ford and big tree

From this morning's email bag ~ a friend writes:

I've just been reading one of the Gerald Ford obituaries
on At the risk of sounding morbid, I do like
Presidential funerals. We don't have many of those kinds of
formal ceremonies in this country, particularly ones
that simply ooze history.

One of the things I think is so eye-opening about Ford is
that he and President Carter (who defeated him in 1976)
were very close. That says so much about both men,
doesn't it? Character transcends politics every once in
a while. And Betty Ford probably did more for women than
previous First Ladies ~ breast cancer and addiction ~ and
she was always so open about her less than perfect life.

Now I need to remove this huge xmas tree and get my life
back to what, for me, is normal.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

dogs don't know from xmas

Originally uploaded by the omster.
Here is our famous bridge yesterday (10am ish) ~ the walk settled my soul and every dog in SF was out here, or so it seemed. I saw a Livvy B. look-alike, an 11 week old Irish Setter pup, 14 golden retrievers and the woman we used to sit next to at the symphony (Mrs. Sphinx). I remembered to breathe and after the walk I came home to read and nap. First, of course, we listened to Jersey Boys (thanks, Dr. J!) and I tucked the Euros from the darling and generous Dancing Jen into my multi-colored striped "Italy Box". Traffic to the East Bay was easy and we were home before 8pm. My kind of holiday.

Monday, December 25, 2006

a day off = glad tidings

Made it! The fireplace is roaring and retail xmas '06 will
soon be just a memory. Yesterday wasn't as busy as the
day before and because we closed early, we had enough
coverage and I didn't have to strap myself to a register
all day long. It was almost a pleasant day.

Our roast beef extravaganza dinner was a huge success
and then we settled in to finish watching "Prime Suspect"
with the always impressive Helen Mirren. Excellent and well
worth watching again because we missed a few lines due
to those pesky British accents.

Today to Crissy Field for a walk and now I stop eating so
many sweets and start taking better care of myself. We
head for Kennsington this afternoon for our traditional
Christmas dinner with the middle son and his wife. I'm
delighted to have made it through another holiday season
with my sanity intact ~ well, that might be an exaggeration.

Enjoy the Holiday, dear readers.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

crabs, roasts, employees, customers

...and not in that order.

Say, just try to picture, that you are a person who waits
until two days before the actual Christmas holiday to do
your shopping. Perhaps you have a long list of specific
books that you would like to buy. Would you become
snarly if a big box mortar bookstore just happened to be
out of one or two of those best-selling books? Of course not.

One cashier was in Sacramento when I called her for her
morning shift yesterday and one cafe worker emailed me
his resignation. Effective immediately. I love retail.

Neti bought scratch-scratch all the way home alive crabs
and steamed them to perfection for our dinner last night.
Husbando probably ate two all by himself. I was able to
nap for about an hour before we drove to Twin Peaks,
oooohing and aaahing at all the good Christian bright lights.

But tonight, in a few short hours ~ a standing rib roast! A
simple yet extravagant celebration dinner and once again I
will say to Husbando, "thank god it's over and I do appreciate
coming home to a clean home and a good meal after work."
Then he will remind me that he also does the laundry and
the shopping, etc. (House husbands rock.)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

two more to go...

Yesterday was brutal, except for lunch with my old friend
the very talented OfficeMate.2001 (Peter), who has his
second book out. He, like so many, hated retail management
and oddly enough, was one of the best at this job. Mostly
managing is something we all learn by observing managers
we admire, but there are a few (Flamface was another) who
are naturals, born to lead. I don't exactly know what that is,
nor do I care. Honestly, all I want is Monday off.

Tonight is the traditional cracked crab at Neti and Frank's ~
we both look forward to this evening and maybe I can stay
up until 9pm. Maybe not...

Please explain to me why people put off shopping until the
very last moment and then get pissy when they have to
stand in line. Any chance one could put down the cell phone
when one finally reaches the poor cashier?

Friday, December 22, 2006

grilled mussels to start

Lunch at Lulu's Restaurant LuLu was just as perfect as we
planned. Husbando had the thin crust pizza and I had a
lamb wich. Warm gingerbread cake for dessert, salad with
baby greens and that scrumptious Acme wheat-like bread.
Parked FREE on Folsom Street and walked a few blocks in
the rain. The staff is always so friendly and professional.
That's one thing you miss when outside of NYC or SF, have
you ever noticed? The worst service we ever experienced
was in Memphis. It's like no one had even bothered to train
a waiter or busboy. Maybe it's different now...maybe not.

Came home to read and nap and I skipped supper and chose
to eat 6 lbs. of Karen's peanut brittle at my writing group.
There were only 4 of us, but it was (as always) a very
pleasant evening.

Driving up and over the Bernal Hill I had to wonder why some
folks want their home to look like the Las Vegas Strip. I can
see one string of lights and a tree, but good god, they do go
overboard. Is it like an addiction or are they making up for
some sort of lack of some inner holiday glow?

Postscript: pardon the glaring Google ad, I will move it down
when I can figure out how. This is an experiment. Following
in One Foot's footsteps. I'd like commano to pay her way
because that was not a free lunch yesterday.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

east of potrero, west of the ramp

"I want fried chicken!", Husbando said yesterday. I checked
out this fabulous review:
"Hard Knox Cafe in San Francisco, CA - AOL City Guide"
and we headed over to 3rd Street. Lunch out on my days
off are BFDs to Husbando and myself. A chance to get
out of our own little workingwoman's Victorian and explore
other nabes and restaurants. And we actually talk about
things other than "how come this faucet is leaking again?" or
"why did that motorcycle out front take up two parking
places?". MundaneLand.

The Hard Knox is the kind of small, inexpensive cafe that
we like. Obviously most of the customers come there
every day and there is a friendly feel about the place,
highlighted by a Dusty Baker signed '01 Giants jersey!

I had 1/2 burger (great) and Husbando pronounced the
fried chicken, "almost as good as the Front Porch". My
cup of coffee had a slight hint of chicory, excellent.
The woman owner said the restaurant was cold because
they loaned the heater to a customer. I love SF.

Here, read this:
The Story of Dogpatch. Husbando (who
reads every local publication ever printed) told me that
22nd Street is becoming the "new Cortland". So we
walked and snooped around and had a very nice time in
Dogpatch. As the fine AOL reviewer points out, the
whole area will change drastically when the long-awaited
3rd Street light rail system gets going. And it looks like
that will be very soon.

Today is a fancy, romantic dress-up holiday lunch at
Lulu's, so tomorrow's post will be quite different.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

marital money talk

I've written extensively about the unusual financial
arrangements that Husbando and I have worked out over
the years. Basically, we have separate and private
bank accounts and savings, then a mutual "vaca fund"
and when times aren't so tight, a "house fund" for
repairs and maintenance of la casa antiqua.

Since I bring home the bacon these days, I write the mister
a check and he pays the mortgage, PG&E, groceries etc. He
bills me for some unusual stuff and yes, it does get petty
sometimes with the "you owe me $2.21 for Wonderbread®
for your work party", kind of silliness. It works for us, however,
because when love was new we tested sharing one bank account
for a full week. My God ~ how DO people do that?

One of the benefits of not sharing our money is that one of us
will take the other out to lunch or dinner, or a weekend away,
or buy little surprises (he loves flowers!) and you get the

Here is our impressive high level financial discussion from
Husbando: do I get a raise in 2007?
Me: a raise? (looking appropriately horrified)
      Why a raise?
Husbando: my expenses have gone up
Me: shit

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

a day of sunshine

It's cold here in the City of Too Many People. We workers
in the big box mortar bookstore face another 40% off any
DVD box set and the assorted people who print 10 coupons
or forget them or want to special order something from
1933 or blah blah.

Yesterday I made the mistake of going down to the big
urban mall to see our sister store 0605 and that was very
stupid indeed. I did find Mr. Black giving some false info
to a customer and he was gleeful as he pointed another
person out the door to the restroom OUTSIDE of the store.
What's a day without a clogged toilet or other unspeakable
messes, I wondered to myself...

But today. Sunshine. The movie. Rent or buy it. Cute little
girl, but it's not a movie for children or sensitive adults.
That would not be you, dear readers.

Click Here: Check out "Little Miss Sunshine"

Monday, December 18, 2006

divine intervention

Originally uploaded by the omster.
I'm treating my faithful (and some faithless) readers to a rare people-photo because it's just so damn cute. I also promise that it is the final and forever last TREE photo of 2006. We had a lovely time last night with this little angel as our star. She decorated the tree (bottom third) with just a little help from her parents and Mr./Ms. Plotnik. TGP played the piano (RR wanted to hear Jingle Bells more than the adults did, I think) and Hubando's pozole with fresh tortillas was a huge hit. Even the picky (not in a gourmet way) eaters in the group enjoyed this rather exotic holiday dish. It was an early evening due to more retail wonderland work today for the hostess, but it was a special evening.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

pre-party, pre-retail

I was exhausted after work (so this is new?) and went to
bed at an embarrassingly early hour with a little 1/2 magic
pill, and am feeling calm and fresh this morning.

The table is set with care and I heard that our 3 year old
guest (RR) dyed Easter Eggs last night, so that will be
very special table decor indeed. I'll get a photo tonight,
depending on the battery situation, of course. I am
looking forward to our celebration.

Sundays are usually gruesome at work. Saturday night
fever and all, so it will be delightful to come home and
be with people we enjoy so much. Bring on the balls and

Saturday, December 16, 2006

as predicted...

I was a little irritable last night after work. If only I could get
my boss (and his boss) and all the staff and customers to
do exactly as I'd like them to do, everyone's life would be
so much easier. But no, it isn't working like that.

The folks under 30 get "food poisoning" and call in "sick"
with gay abandon. (Gay in the old fashioned sense.) I am
a bitch on wheels about this and give them the 3rd degree.
Here are my results after 6 years of questioning the fresh
faced little darlings:
1) Thai food ~ by far the #1 source
2) Mexican
3) Chinese (a distant 3rd)
Oddly enough, they never mention how much they drank or
smoked or partied...always that damn food poisoning. And
my, it's rampant this time of year.

Need I mention that they HATE calling in to me? So of course
everyone gives me their phone ins. Tee hee.....

Friday, December 15, 2006

sick of this tree yet?

with lights!
Originally uploaded by the omster.
I did put these damn lights on this morning and opened the curtains so the poor people driving and walking to work can maybe be cheered for a few seconds. I know I am when I head out in the dark. Of course we know why this time was chosen for the Winter dreary out there. Now I have to make my lunch, dress and fly off to work. I'll be too irritable to post tonight, I betcha...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

big bare ass tree

Originally uploaded by the omster.
Here it is! Husbando is complaining that it's too big, so I trimmed it a little after this photo was taken. It sure smells divine. Now I can't wait for the Tree Lighting Ceremony and Dinner Party on Sunday night. TGP will sing and play the piano and RR will decorate the tree. I asked Husbando if he didn't think it was a guy thing to put the lights on the tree and he replied, "I'm Jewish". Like I didn't know that. So I will "do" the lights when I am morning-fresh. This has been a busy weekend what with baking cookies, lunch at the Moonlight Cafe up on Cortland, this tree, reading and writing emails and going to Costco today for basics. I selected my xmas gift there (a light blue sweat suit) because Husbando is Jewish and this holiday allows him to practice avoidance. We were able to do a little bickering over where to park twice (!) today, so all is well in the Land o' Marriage.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

bouncing off TGP's blog

Well, I wasn't going to get tix to "Jersey Boys" because I
don't really love musicals (walked out of "The Fantasticks"
and that one with the insipid and dreary little French girl,
"Les Miserables"), but after this review I think I'll splurge.
Who can resist?

The Doctor, whose goal in life is to drive me crazy at work,
also reports that the sound track on CD is selling like my
homemade cornbread ~  much better than pancakes at that
overrated Sears Restaurant in downtown SF.
Click Here: Check out "The Great Plotnik"

I'm a sucker for lists...

These are from Publisher's Weekly and include a valuable
description of each book.
Check out "PW's Best Books of the Year

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

tuesday post substitute

I wrote something before work this morning and emailed it, but it didn't "take" and now I'm home and too tired to even write a complete sentence. It was a hard day at the big box bookstore and I did mutter swear words from time to time. The lines were long and the questions even more esoteric than usual. On my lunch hour I walked to Rite Aid, talk about fun. I did check out the cats and dogs in the Macy's windows ~ they are always worth a look-see.

Monday, December 11, 2006

big tree at union square

tree v. pretty, alma too
Originally uploaded by the omster.
Here we are during the day. I try to have my brown bag lunch at one of the little tables in the square, but it usually starts raining as I head out the door. We are very busy and all our time is spent in close customer contact. Nothin' but fun. Two more weekends to go...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

all is calm

before work
Originally uploaded by the omster.
I took this a little before 6am yesterday. I think the downtown lights are more beautiful than ever this year and after the rain the streets were finally clean. Our best selling book in the store is the Iraq Study Group Report and I find that just slightly ironic this time of year. I believe that our customers are better read than our President. Today I will probably strap myself to a cash register again and mutter a few yoga chants to stay sane.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

how could this happen?

Sometimes when we lose a book or a DVD, the clever
and extremely annoyed customer will say in a loud voice
(as if to alert the rest of the world that he is dealing with
a total incompetent and they'd be wise to take their
business elsewhere),
I have learned to stand up straight, look him right in the
eye and say,
"People make mistakes."
...and that usually works. Usually.
officially Be Nice to All Retail Clerks Everywhere time.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

adapting to Italy

Yes! I had several people suggest an adaptor ~ thank you.
So simple. Even Walgreen's has them, or so I was told today.
Once less thing to worry about for my trip.

something borrowed

Originally uploaded by crews.
Here is the Community Thrift Store ~ a photo I think Crews would want me to use. I found it on Flickr and I can never figure out what photos I shouldn't be using...guess I"ll find out someday. My camera had battery problems yesterday so I came home and emailed Olympus and asked them what should I do when I go to Italy? I can't do the recharge thing because of the electricity is so Italian. Do I carry 4000 batteries from Costco?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

treasures on valencia street

Today we had an early and scrumptious lunch at Bodhi
About Us, 211 Valencia Street. This used to be Windows,
and we can't understand why they left because they were
always busy at lunch, not so for dinner. But to our surprise,
Bodhi is just as good and reasonable too, except for the
Vietnamese iced coffee ($3.50). I had the garlic noodles
with shrimp (thankfully not the little cardboard kind) and
Husbando some sort of rice dish. Everyone knows that I
dislike rice, or at least I hope they do. Oh, the iced coffee
was excellent, just expensive. (Bodhi means wisdom and is
the tree that Buddha sat under, or one of them, presumably.)
I just google-gained that knowledge, in case you wondered.

Next we visited the Community Thrift Store at 623 Valencia.
The best of all thrift stores for dishes, etc. Not so great for
clothes, in my opinion. When I was young I was a snob and
would never set foot in a second hand store. Now I find that
almost all of my shop-and-spend needs can be fulfilled for
under $20.00, while I help recycle and reuse.

Today we bought: 12 Pottery Barn turkey place card holders
($6), one butter dish with a festive poinsettia design ($4.50),
a coffee server thermos ($4). I am proud and content after
these sterling acquisitions, even though Husbando doesn't
understand why we can't use the place card holders for the
upcoming Tree Lighting Ceremony and Dinner.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

easy money, easy cornbread

Last night after work I went to a focus group and earned
a cool $100 for less than 2 hours of showing up. Seven of
us talked about a new internet service while we drank coffee,
ate sandwiches and chocolate covered cookies. I enjoyed
walking around downtown looking in store windows and
seeing all the merry lights and listening to the holiday
music. Of course I loathe that same music in my very
own store, but this all seemed fresh and new and just right.

I woke up this morning with a rare (very rare) thought. I
want to cook! So after yoga I made a huge salad for our
lunch and now I am making minestrone soup (using my new
Cuisinart®) and after this I'll make some cornbread. Here
is the recipe that I found in Lucky's blog ~ the best!

Lucca's Grandfather's Cornbread

Two 8.5 oz. packages Jiffy cornbread mix
1 can (14 oz.) cream style corn
Two eggs
1 cup sour cream
(melted butter is optional ~ up to 1/4 cup)

Beat it all together quickly and pour into a lined dish.
(Makes it easier to get bread out and cleanup.)

Bake at 400 degrees at least 20 to 25 minutes.
Our oven takes 40 minutes...why? The bread has to
firm up as opposed to that quivery business.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

you had me hooked

I hate to judge a book by its first page, and yet I tend to do
that. Maybe because I spend so much time wandering around
the big box retail store straightening books, noticing which
authors have been in to sign their work and flipping open the
front cover to read just a graph or two before I'm inundated
with a quick question, or a broken escalator, or an overflowing
toilet. But let's stay positive this morning, shall we?

Ms. Messud was in to sign this book and here is one of the
reasons I brought it home.

"Come in, darlings, come in." Lucy moved behind them and
herded the trio toward the party. The Leveretts' living room
was painted a deep purple - aubergine, in local parlance - and
its windows were draped with velvet. From the ceiling hung a
brutal wrought iron chandelier, like something salvaged from a
medieval castle.

Click Here: Check out "Random House Academic Resources | The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud"

Monday, December 04, 2006

here they are ~ the top 100 books

I was just bemoaning the fact that I haven't been reading
enough to a co-worker today, and now we can all feel extra
guilty.  So I brought home
The Emperor's Children by Claire
Messud. Already I know it's a winner.
Click Here: Check out "100 Notable Books of the Year - The New York Times Book Review - New York Times"

sorry, no such thing...

When the big block box mortar chain bookstore is packed
with people, an anxious customer will often tug at my sleeve
and say, "I have just a quick question." There is no quick
answer in a bookstore, except maybe, "the cafe is on 2 and
the bathrooms on 3." But they persist. I try to explain that
I am helping another customer and have one waiting on the
phone, yet they are persistent. The difference between our
business on Friday (we could manage) and Saturday (we
managed, but ooooooooh-eeeeeee) was phenomenal. And
yesterday they were wall-to-wall from the moment we
opened the door. The good news is that 3 weeks from this
very day I will be walking at Crissy Field after opening a few
low key presents under our merry little smell-good tree.

One time when Husbando and I were young and poor we
bought a damaged tree and our friend John called it the
"Jesus Tree" because only He could love it. That remains the
tree we remember best...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Saturday, December 02, 2006

3 weeks and counting

not rudolph
Originally uploaded by the omster.
Thanks to our blogmaid for this nice reindeer photo ~ see them at the SF Zoo! My own particular zoo is getting busier, but we are all holding up just fine. I have finished hiring now and I guess I've interviewed, checked references and hired about 30 temps since the first of November.

Friday, December 01, 2006

the theme was love

Last night in our writing group, we all wrote about
various aspects of LUV. Without planning too, as so often
happens. It was a glorious evening. Such talent, tears
and laughter.

Karen ~ on finding love through
Jane ~ a lover from the past (so sensuous)
Will ~ remembering a prep school teacher
Sarah ~ her mother and their relationship
Doug ~ his new granddaughter (pure beauty)
Me ~ San Francisco

We force each other to keep on writing, I need that.
A rare meeting when everyone wrote on my piece, "it's
perfect, send it!" And so I shall. (With love.)