Wednesday, December 31, 2008

when the ball falls

Thanks to the time difference we'll be able to watch the celebration
in NYC tonight. We are preparing a special dinner of expensive
roast beef for just the two of us, and if you play your cards right
I'll have a photo to share with you when 2009 dawns tomorrow.

Happy New Year and always thanks for reading and commenting
on da blog.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

overdue book report

This was a great bus book, almost causing me to miss one of
my stops the first week at the museum. Songs Without Words
is basically a story of two women's friendship, with lots of juicy
subplots and a satisfying ending. I tried (and failed) to read
Ms. Packer's The Dive From Clausen's Pier, but maybe I'll
give it another go now. I do believe that men (straight or gay)
will not appreciate this book, not that I'm sexist. Not me.

Monday, December 29, 2008

one brave lunatic

We watched Man on Wire before bed and I had to use my mental whisk
broom to keep this image out of my pathetic head during the night.
Back in 1974, the Frenchman Phillipe Petit walked between the two
World Trade Center Towers. This documentary shows the planning
involved (all secret, of course) and then the triumphant and exceedingly
dangerous walk itself with some stomach-turning views of the crowds
that gathered WAY below. Lordy. Fine interviews with his friends who
helped him and how they feel now with the wisdom of their years.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

little girl with big leg!

It's been too long since you've seen RR, our 5 year old beauty in
Pumpkinville. Here she is enjoying their Christmas feast in her
beautiful fur-trimmed red dress.

Yesterday I spent the day in the YSL shop and it was busy, but
not crazy like some retail establishments. One thing is crystal
clear to me, and I mean crystal. At the big box our payroll hours
are so tight that when the sickies call in/out it is a mess and every
person in the store suffers. At the museum they always have more
than enough people, so if someone is sick the boss just takes one
of the "restock" people and sends him/her to whichever shop
needs another body. No panic, no irritation, no problem. I love
built-in solutions, don't you?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

all questions answered

I sort of like this daily Round Robin write from the past. It refers
to the death of Christopher Reeves' wife ~ leaving their boy without a parent.

IN THE PALM OF MY HAND (the prompt)

I have the answer here, ladies and gentlemen. Give that man over there
your $20 and I'll tell you the purpose of life. Have you been wondering
how a just God can take away both parents of a 13 year old boy? Well,
now you'll know. I have been told and I will reveal the truth.

Step right up and ask me those difficult questions. Even the ones
that start with "how come?" Like how come the days/weeks/months
go by so fast as you get older? We need long quiet days of reflection
instead of getting up and going back to bed in about an hour. But
I now know this and much, much more.

Yes, I have the answers here in the palm of my hand. I know why some
people are born into a life of wealth and ease and others into total
and abject poverty. It will make perfect sense to you too, but first
I need you to talk to the tall man in the top hat in that ticket booth
to your left.

Of course I can explain mental illness and tragic accidents too. I wish I
had found these answers earlier in my life, but my purpose now is
to pass them on to you. You will never again wake up at 3am and
wonder what the fuck you are doing here. Those fears will vanish
and you will be as calm as that handsome man in the tuxedo
over there on your left.

Many people just like you have benefited from the answers which
I hold here in the palm of my hand. Step inside my golden tent
and you'll be amazed and delighted with all that I will tell you.
Money back guarantee if you aren't completely satisfied.

Friday, December 26, 2008

could we save this one, please?

Our Christmas was one of those that should be wrapped in a durable
see-through bubble to bring out, hold and spin around during the more
difficult times in life. But first someone will need to explain to me why
the hated canned holiday music in my two workplaces drives me up
the wall and why it was so glorious on the radio at home yesterday.

Husbando and I cooked and cleaned all day and we were "in sync" and
relaxed. Our middle son, John, and his wife, Kathy, arrived at 3pm and
we ate and ate, talked and talked. The four of us agree on everything,
especially politically, so it was exceedingly pleasant. Of course our
feast was magnificent, so I have a turkey sandwich to make now for
my day at the museum. With chunky cranberry sauce, of course.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

so much to celebrate

More candles and more crab last night at Neti and Frank's...and then~
The news that their daughter and her partner are expecting twins!
Double the excitement ~ a fun year awaits us all and we were asked
a few times if they are ALL still invited next year for Thanksgiving.
Yes, and yes again. Happy holidays everyone and be careful in this
less than perfect weather storm we all seem to be enduring. Stay warm.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

bouncing back and forth

Yesterday was my Best Day at de de Young because we were busy
and I worked with some fun women up in (ahem) the jewelry
store and I faked my way through that. I am using my 15
minute breaks to go and gaze at one piece in the museum.
"Good for the soul", as my friend Ginger (East Bay) says.

Today I'm back at the 6 to 3pm at the big box and what a huge
contrast these two work places are. From chaos to serenity
and back again. Oh, and the red tray has returned.

Yesterday the California Science Academy was packed and I
think that helped our business. I bought a yearly membership
for Husbando over there and that will help their business.
The day before Christmas is fun even at the big box because
even the most clueless of all customers realizes that perhaps
they could have shopped a bit earlier, and I won't even have to
raise an eyebrow when they are shocked that we are out of
something. Life is so much better this year for me!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

i could write a book

Well, I spent far too much time yesterday on the project of searching,
cutting and pasting for the boss gift. Sheeeeesh, I sure gave a lot
to that job, but I also benefited, so let's not start the day with a
whine, OK?

I have 15 single-spaced pages and that is only 2003, 2004 and 2005;
with a promise for the next 3 years. It will be fodder for Tiapos and
maybe for the eventual book. At least it will be somewhat organized.

A sample from the past: 12/15/03 ~ I work in a washing machine. I am whirled around inside this place of insanity and there is no escape until January. Customers complain about the bathrooms, the lines, the clerks, the prices and the selection. One day last week all 14 cash registers broke down at the same time and of course we all have colds or the flu. Our customers sneeze and cough too. Happy holidays.

Monday, December 22, 2008

the gift of words and memories

My boss is being transferred to another store ~ it's one of the reasons
that I resigned. Politics. Instead of lunch and tears I have decided to
gather some snippets from our lives over the past 5 plus years from
my daily writes. As you know by now, I keep hard copies of all my
writing in 3-ring binders. Here is an example from Nov. 2004:

Dear Mr. Customer:
You were completely out of line yesterday when you kept calling
Sarah a clerk who makes $5.00 an hour. By the time I finished
the transaction with you she was down in the break room crying.
How dare you talk to people that way?

You said I smirked when you threatened to contact your lawyer. Well,
I was more than smirking. I had trouble keeping my mouth shut and
really letting you have it. Fortunately or unfortunately, after years of
retail management I have learned not to engage with lunatics. All
I kept thinking was, "hurry, finish the sale and get him out of here".
I did quietly let you know that you are welcome to shop at other
bookstores, but then you interrupted and said, "don't tell me where
I can shop!" and I really, really hope you never darken our door again.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

it's been 50 years!

Ironically, I'm reading more since I left the big box as a big
deal manager and this is my current bus book. It's the special
50 year anniversary edition of Breakfast at Tiffany's (which we
are out of, of course, as we are most books) and I must say
I don't remember reading it before. For one thing, it's a love
song to NYC as well as to youth and hope. Then I'm blown
over by the writing and I'll give you a dollop this morning:
Here is Holly talking about why she goes to Tiffany's ~

"You know those days when you've got the mean reds?"
"Same as the blues?"
"No", she said slowly. "No, the blues are because you are
getting fat or maybe it's been raining too long. You're sad,
that's all. But the mean reds are horrible. You're afraid and
you sweat like hell, but you don't know what you're afraid
of. Except something bad is going to happen, only you don't
know what it is. You've had that feeling?"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

ginger and spice

I didn't have to start work yesterday until 11am, so I met our
other Ginger at the Glen Park BART station and we both hopped
on the now famous #44 and headed to the park. We had lattes
and a nice long chat at Cafe Muse (not great coffee, but it was
warm and welcoming) and then I was able to show her around the
de Young for a little while. The above photo is a sculpture by
Al Farrow ~ it's made out of guns and bullets and he also has
a synagogue on display using the same deadly materials. They
are fascinating in their design and message.

Yesterday for several hours I worked up in the gift shop on the
9th floor Tower. So very beautiful, but I'm going to have to
learn the names of a lot of SF buildings. Or make them up...
I'm going to enjoy being a part-time docent.

Friday, December 19, 2008

look, it's bright and shiny

I've never been a woman who is interested too much in jewelry ~ I have
some pretty rings and things left from my mother, and a couple that the
blogmaid has loaned me, but I'm not a drooler. Once in a while I'll
buy silver hoops, but I've never been known to tarry at any jewelry
counter for more than 10 seconds. My wedding ring was created by a
friend who worked for a dentist, a beautiful gold one-of-a-kind band,
made from people's cavities, or whatever. I love it.

The museum has five gift shops and yesterday I worked in the one with
the jewelry. I have a lot to learn. Not about human nature, that I learned
in Retail 101, but I don't know a tourmaline from a ruby. There is lots of
printed information for the customer and the sales person, but it can
be a scramble to find it when we are busy, as we were yesterday.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

ginger and garlic

Our Santa Barbara Ginger stopped by yesterday afternoon on her way
down from Eureka, and she brought us our first fresh crab of the
season. As you know, we serve it on newspapers so we can toss the
shells with abandon. I don't like the cold crab on a chilly day, so
Husbando cooks it this way. (Be sure to adjust to the number of
crabs, we only had the one and it was more than enough.) Lots of
sour dough bread, needless to say.


6 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
4 Dungeness crabs (cooked, cleaned and cracked)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped parsely

Preheat oven to 500ยบ
Heat butter, olive oil and garlic in a v. large oven proof saute pan
over medium high heat until hot.

Add the crab and toss well.
Transfer to the oven and roast until the garlic turns light brown
and the crab is heated through ~ about 12 minutes.

Toss half way through.

Pour contents into a large warm serving bowl, add the lemon juice and
parsley and toss well. Serve immediately. (Try to find an old serving
bowl with at least 4 chips ~ it's an SF tradition.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

drop this in your queue

Something the Lord Made is one of those special HBO movies
that I think you'll enjoy. Alan Rickman is an egotistical, brilliant
doctor and Mos Def is his lab technician. It is worthy of two
Kleenex® even though one wants to choke Dr. Rickman along
the way. Based on a true story.

I had Best Day Ever at my museum yesterday. It gets easier
and more enjoyable as I learn the little nuances and peculiarities
of cultural retail.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

i wasn't going to do it...

I dashed down to Floorcraft on Bayshore Blvd. for a door wreath
yesterday and ended up with the sweet little slanted tree too.
The smell of evergreen (or maybe evergreen spray) made me
want a tree, despite the fact that I said, "not this year, too much
going on!" The blogmaid has seen a children's story entitled The
Crooked Christmas Tree, so that makes me feel better. The
combination of less than perfect trees and wrestling with the
tree stand means we always seem to end up with an only-we-
could-love-it kind of tree. Thankfully I wasn't dog shopping.

Monday, December 15, 2008

a sweet little xmas movie

Well, finally we watched Tropic Thunder last night. Fun stuff
and a lot of acting talent in this film that makes fun of Hollywood.

I've been trying to learn to sleep in. After 8 years of waking
up at 4:15am (3:15 on the bad nights), my goal is to still
be in bed until 5:30am or so. It's going to take some time. It
does help if I go to bed a little later, but that isn't always so
easy to do. How wonderful on a Monday, however, not to worry
about closing the store at midnight tonight. Ick.

Today I'm off and I will try to put a little red and green around
the house because (eeeeeeeek) it's almost xmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

every 25 years or so...

The headline/title refers to the fact that yesterday morning I used
my Muni Pass and hopped on the overpriced cable car to ride 3
blocks up Powell Street from Market. I could not stop smiling.

OK, this When Did You Last See Your Father? is pretty good, but
a little sad as death tends to be from time to time. Jim Broadbent
is in every movie lately, but he does a fine job as does his son,
Collin Firth, and they actually look like they are related. The son
had issues with his father, now there's a family surprise for you...

Back at the big box yesterday and today ~ busy and fun!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

tree topping angels

A Christmas Story for people having a bad day (thanks to
Dancing Jen for this):

When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones, and Santa began to feel the Pre-Christmas pressure. Then Mrs Claus told Santa her Mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more. When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two others had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where. Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered. Frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drank all the cider and hidden the liquor. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom. Just then the doorbell rang, and irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great big Christmas tree. The angel said very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't this a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?" And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.

Friday, December 12, 2008

love and friendship

I need to do a quick review of this movie which we rented solely
on the recommendation of The Fevered Brain. We both enjoyed
it, and I want to thank Susan, my old (in the best way) fellow-
copy writing friend from back in our Capwell's days. Feast of
Love is adapted from the Charles Baxter novel and demonstrates
once again that love is a strange creature filled with ambiguities
and a fair share of heart break. But perhaps you've noticed that...

Because of the internet and our e-world, Susan and I have re-
connected this past year. Her blog is always terrific, but now
that she and her husband are back in Mexico, it's extra colorful,
and I can feel the soft sea breezes now and send her a special
hola from a very cold San Francisco this morning. Take a nice
South-of-the-Border read in The Tonsil War.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

the end of an affair

OK, so much for the Muni-love bullshit. Yesterday the #44 was packed
and I had to stand on the way to work. Me, with a book to read! I do
feel sorry for the mothers with children and all the paraphernalia, but
lordy they do take up a lot of space. Maybe there should just be buses
for parents and children under 4. Another observance ~ people call
Muni all the time and ask where their bus is. The "next bus time" is
posted electronically in most of the little bus stands, but oddly enough,
it's usually about 40 minutes off. The callers do share their information
with all of us and that's pretty nice ~ nothing like a group grumble.

Yes, DAK, I did have to walk home from 29th and Mission, but last
night Husbando parked Ken the Toyota at the Goodwill on Valencia
and I could just hop in and drive on home. I saved a few minutes.
The #26 is problematic. Muni is problematic, but you anticipated that.

But wait, I worked too! Had another very pleasant day and this time I
did spend my afternoon break up with Yves and his glorious fashions.
I'm gradually getting to know my fellow employees and, like book
people, they are exceedingly bright, funny and helpful. Lucky me!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

a day in the park, day #1

Thank you everyone for your comments and emails of support. I
never do re-writes here in commano and I know already that this
post will need one (or many), but I'll just spew forth as the thoughts
come to me.

Photo above ~ the new Academy of Science, I had my lunch across
the way on a bench in front of MY museum. The #44 drops me off
right in front of the Academy. I have free admission there now and
will pop in soon to check it out.

Retail ~ so different from what I am used to. After B&N and Borders
and a quick stint at Spirit Halloween, I'm used to constant chaos,
never a moment to think or stand or gather my thoughts. Yesterday
was so mellow! Of course it's the quiet time of year and things
will change when Warhol and then King Tut come to town. I have
never understood why book customers are so demanding, but
they are. "How could you POSSIBLY be out of this specific book
that was published in 1933?" That kind of unreasonable annoyance.

The Hours ~ somehow I think that even if the stores are ultra
busy, the very idea of closing at 5:15 instead of 11pm or midnight
makes it all seem so very civilized.

How big? The de Young building is much larger than I thought
and I have been there quite often. Several hours were spent on a
tour yesterday (do you call this work?) and I saw so much more
than I have before. Plus I got to see the secret hallways and
offices and the employee break room that has two free computers
with internet access. What the?

YSL ~ the most popular exhibit now. Hundreds (?) of elegant
fashions from the Yves Saint Laurent collection. I will work in
that shop the Saturday after xmas. By then I will be more
comfortable on the cash registers which are just different
enough from the big box to cause me to fumble a bit.

The Buses ~ everything was smooth and everyone seemed
friendly and helpful. I took the 26 Valencia home after the
#44 dropped me off at Glen Park. Already I helped two
women tourists in GGPark who wanted out of the dark
park and were clueless about bus life. I'm an expert now.

Restrooms ~ fresh flowers. Clean. Not like the big box.

Schedule ~ this will change every week and the blogmaid
suggested that I post a calendar over here under the moon
with my life at de de Young and the big box. Good idea!

Today I'm 9:30 to 5:30 ~ off tomorrow. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

the 44 O'Shaughnessy

I know, this is the 38 Geary pictured, but yesterday Husbando and
I did a test run on the #44. I envy the people who move to the city
without cars and are forced to learn the bus system when they are
young and flexible. Everyone criticizes Muni, but try living in a small
town without public transportation, where everyone is car-dependent.

Huge success! It took 20 minutes from Bosworth and Diamond, in
the heart of Glen Park, a really delightful little community in SF,
to MY museum. Faster than car, at least it was yesterday. A pretty
trip too, over Woodside around the huge Laguna Honda Hospital.
Areas of SF that we don't really know or have traveled heretofore.

So I'm 10 to 5:30pm today. Probably lots of paperwork and questions
from me. I'm excited, as you can probably tell, and I want to see YSL
on my coffee break.

Monday, December 08, 2008

precious teen years

Wow, what a play! We were both overwhelmed by Evie's Waltz
down at the Magic last night. It's another tense one act drama
and the angry young woman (superbly acted by Marielle Heller)
in the combat pants, is either making us gasp or laugh. One of
those very funny/not-so-funny plays that builds so much tension
that I couldn't wait until it ended. Then I was really sorry it was
over because I wanted more.

My first bookselling day? Surprise, I loved it! So nice to be able
to concentrate on books and customers and not care one whit
about broken toilets, escalators, staff members, charity gift
wrappers or God knows what else. The day flew by. Yeah!!!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

a bouquet of best wishes

These gorgeous flowers were delivered to me at the big box yesterday,
thank you so much, Dancing Jen! It was a busy day and I didn't have
time to think or feel much sorrow. I cleaned out my desk completely
and wondered again why I saved things like "how to handle the Harry
Potter party, 2005" and worse. Phone lists with names that are no
longer familiar to me, emails from Corporate with their usual sense
of urgency, lacking logical thinking in some cases. Most cases...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

retiring the red tray

This is my last official day as a manager of the big box. When the alarm
went off at 4:15am, that was my first thought. For 8 years I have put
this tray out in the kitchen, along with my very fashionable clothes-
of-the-day, so I don't bother Husbando who gets up about 7am. If
you know me, you realize that being a Good Wife is my Number #1
priority. (If you know me, you know that's a joke.)

As bad as the 6am openings were, the midnight closes are worse.
I find that without that dread of Monday night, my whole mood has
changed lately. Tomorrow I'm just a bookseller, going in at 7:45am.

Friday, December 05, 2008

italy by the bay

I hope you can see that it was another gorgeous December day and we
went to the small Italian museum down at Fort Mason to see the
exhibit about the Jews in Italy. Some exceedingly interesting photos
and artwork, including many of the ghettos in Rome and Venice during
the 1930's. I learned (for one thing) that in ancient times, Jews were
assigned the role of money changing, it wasn't a God-given talent or
anything. Sometimes one wonders about the Christians, even though
I was raised as one. And yes, I want to return to Italy, maybe after
the Depression '09 is over.
The exhibit is only open from Noon to 4pm. Free parking, naturally.

Last night Tiapos met at our house. Here is your recap:
  • Karen ~ helping disabled kids and herself at the same time.
  • Will ~ Day Two on the road home from the East Coast
  • TGP ~ actual CDs from his musical, "The Perfect Pitch"!
  • Eric ~ the automakers destroy the earth and want money too
  • Me ~ memories of my youth ~ not glowing
A very fine day and evening for this almost ex-manager.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

of trains, buses and gourds

You can avoid this bleak and unrealistic movie, Transsiberian,
with Woody Harrelson and some other people covered most of
the time with snow and ice. Blood is so dramatic in winter.

Yesterday I used my new Muni pass and took the J Car to 18th
and Sanchez for lunch (again) at Samovar with my friend Gini.
The last time it was packed, yesterday it was empty. Weird.

What's a gourd? Is that squash? Is it seasonal? I think it is
art, pure and simple. The clever housewife might want to
paint eyes on it and Crazy Glu® some precious ruffles and
lace around its non-existent little legs. I should move to the
burbs where my talent would be appreciated...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

wednesday catch-up

We had to wait a l-o-n-g time for The Promotion from Flix®.
I think every person who ever worked retail had it out on a
loan. It's very true-to-life with all the experiences (including
strange customers, the employee break room, etc.) in a busy
grocery store as these two guys vie for a newly posted manager
position. John C. Reilly can do no wrong, right?

And here, especially for our blogmaid, is a cut-and-paste from
the blog of our food critic (of all people) Michael Bauer:
To me, pumpkins are like white shoes after Labor Day: they are a symbol of a season and should be banished from counters and doorsteps the day after Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

what I will miss least...

The big box is now open until midnight ~ too early in the season,
in my opinion, but they want to entice the late night shoppers.
(Even the ones who have been drinking and will return the item
the next day when they sober up and say, "WTF?")

My final close last night and the only problem was a young
man with orange hair and 3 huge back packs. He had a big teddy
bear stuffed in one and he talked loudly to himself. But, guess
what? He bought some CDs! Only after I trekked up and down
the escalators (miraculously none were broken last night) from
the 4th floor to the cash registers on the first floor. Up and down
for four hours, stopping only to pick up books and magazines
and grumble about how messy people are.

I'm an early morning person and the only redeeming quality of
the Monday night closings was that I always had 3 or 4 hours of
office time before I became Service Manager. That was my
catch-up time, no interruptions except for the occasional little
emergency. The closing crews are terrific and need no guidance
from me or the other managers. But it takes its toll and I was
and am VERY glad to put those crazy late hours behind me forever.

Monday, December 01, 2008

what I will miss most...

We are so lucky to live in a city that's healthy and prosperous, even
during bad economic times. When I compare SF to dead cities that
we have visited (Memphis, for example) I rejoice once again that
we chose to live here. When I first started at the big box, I vowed
to get to Union Square everyday, as soon as the re-mo was over
and the ropes were removed. The square is a huge success ~ always
filled with people, well-guarded at night. A wonderful oasis, which
of course I now take for granted.

Yesterday I went out with my camera right after sunrise to take
these photos. Only a few tourists were with me, appreciating the
lovely quiet moments in the square. The tree is extra beautiful
this year and when I went back during my lunch hour, the ice rink
was filled with laughing people falling down, grabbing the rail
and smiling as they skated. SF is more than livable, it borders
on perfection. But perhaps I'm just a little prejudiced...