My favorite folks ! :)

29 January 2011

I'll be honest -

I'm not thrilled to be awake at 6.20 AM.  

I'm days behind on blog reading.  Maybe will catch up over the weekend.

I just had a funny dream.  I don't remember my dreams often.

Duane was an architect.  He and i were in his office.  He'd told me that he'd agreed to meet a client there because it was more convenient for her.  I guess he normally met clients in some corporate office a few miles away.

She came in and they talked a bit.  His desk (like his desk in real life only a little neater) had a ton of stuff on it, including a couple of dishes that had change in them.  One dish probably had $3 or $4 in dimes, nickels, and quarters.  As she was talking to Duane, she began rifling thru the change and dumping some of it, mostly quarters, into her purse.  She didn't make eye contact with either of us, and we stared at her with our mouths open.  

Finally, one of us asked, "Why did you put Duane's change in your purse?"

She looked up, surprised, and gave a garbled response, the gist of which was lost, but then she rather said, "That bothered you?  I can't believe it bothered you.  Why does that bother you?"

The time with her didn't end there, but i know that somehow Duane and i conveyed to each other that she would not be welcome in his office again, she would have to meet him at the corporate office.  

Then, somehow her grandchildren were there.  They were a boy and a girl of about 8 and 10.  They were totally out of control, running about the office, opening file cabinets and drawers.  I firmly closed one of the cabinets, saying to the child, "That is private."

The woman picked up a mock-up drawing that belonged to Duane and myself.  She began sticking it into the papers she was carrying.  "That belongs to us," i told her firmly.  She acted surprised, but gave it back to me. 

Duane and i communicated to each other that she definitely would never be welcome in his office again.

I decided to ignore the children, and found a pamphlet that was a catalog, but also had some sort of storyline in it.  Or i made one up.  The children asked what i was reading, and i began telling them the story.  It was sort of a morality-tale, about children behaving or mis-behaving, and getting what was coming to them.  

Then i woke up.

I had someone here yesterday to cook for us.  Her name is Holly.  I'm really pleased with what she did and the efficiency with which she works.  She made 3 lasagnas, 2 with meat and one without.  Also there was left-over spaghetti sauce (with meat) that would work for sloppy joes, too.  Also some meat made for tacos that we froze to use in the future.  

I commented on how quickly she worked and how pleased i was with it.  She then said, "Yes.  I work quick.  That's why i'd prefer to be paid by the job, not by the hour.  I could stretch this out to take more time, but that wouldn't be honest."

This really threw me for a loop.  I think what we are paying is eminently fair.  Also, i've since realized, i was comparing her work to the last person who was with us, and who didn't work out and whom we didn't have continue, NOT to the work Rebecca did.  I was very pleased with Rebecca's work, and she would have done about the same amount of work as Holly did yesterday, in the same time.  

I told her i don't think on my feet well, which is true.  Also that i completely understand her point about time.  However, it was my plan to pay her for 5 hours, and seeing the amount of food that she did in 2-1/2 hours (3 hours after clean up), it didn't look to me like five hours of pay.  I asked her if she thought the 5 hours of pay was a fair price for the work she did, and she agreed it was not.  

Duane and i discussed it, also.  We purchase the ingredients for the food, so we can't even compare it to purchasing prepared food at the store.  If i paid $8 for a lasagna from the meat store, they supply the ingredients.  I've been willing to pay her to come here and make the things for me from my ingredients, because i then can control what goes into the food that is made, and i KNOW it is healthier than anything we could purchase pre-made.  Also, it is hard to buy good quality gluten free items.

But also her comment about "by the job" made us look at what we are getting.  It was really probably not a good idea to draw our attention to this, because we realized that if we begin paying "by the job" it will definitely put a price on each meal she makes.  (I recognize that each meal has a price, regardless of how we see it.  However, that was not our thought process before, and i'd prefer not to go there.)  That brings our attention to it, and we said, well then, we might as well begin eating out for every meal for that price.  

This is apples and oranges, i realize.  No quality of food in a restaurant can compare to the quality of what we make at home.  Their ingredients are not grass-fed beef, bison, venison, and their ingredients are not organic. There is no Italian place in town where i can go get GF spaghetti, manicotti, or lasagna.  Also, i know, again, the quality of what they produce is not the same.  STILL, if our focus becomes the price of each meal we consume, we may be tempted to give up and eat out more.  

So, when i see her again, i think i will tell her the following.

1.  I understand her point about time, but when i said she was "quick" i was comparing her to the person we last had working - and she's not working for us anymore.  If Holly began taking more time to do the same work, i'd either have to drop the hourly wage, or stop having her come. 

2.  Because we purchase the ingredients for the food, we can't do a comparison of purchasing these foods pre-made.  If the focus becomes that of how many meals she prepares instead of giving her a fair wage for her time, then we may end up throwing all that out and eating our meals in restaurants instead of having it home prepared.  Because, frankly, it is very expensive to purchase high quality ingredients and then pay to have someone else prepare them.

3.  The hourly wage we pay her for her time is very fair and more than i ever made working hospital with a 4 year degree.  

So, yeah, i was a bit teed off when this came up (after, actually; i don't think things thru at the time very well).  But i'm still very pleased with the work she did, and i think it can still work out.  She's not lived in Big Bear for long, and it is possible that she won't stay long, either.  But i think it will work for while she is here.

The skies are clear, blue, and sunny.  But the weather forecast says we may get some more snow late Sunday and into Monday.


26 January 2011

Dribs & Drabs

Subtitle:  I need a conversion experience.

I'm really struggling with the food issue.  There is what i KNOW and BELIEVE, and then there is what i DO.  

Part of the problem is that when i eat well and healthy, it doesn't really make me feel better.  I don't lose weight, i don't have more energy, i don't have less pain.  However, when i eat junk (which i do go thru phases with) i feel much WORSE.  I'm really struggling with it, and even knowing how bad some of the "food" i'm eating is, at times i just struggle to care.  I need an experience of conversion which will motivate and jump start better habits.  Sigh.

I've found someone who can come cook for me.  So far i'm impressed with her.  I think it will end up being temporary  - she recently came to Big Bear and may not stay - but for now i think it will be a good thing.  She seems to be a good self-starter, and i don't have to hold her hand to have her do what i need.  Even if she doesn't stay long, at least we'll have some food in the freezer.  Also, a friend knows of someone who might be willing to come and help for a while.  Since she doesn't live in Big Bear, it would take some arranging, but that might be fun, too.

The end of December saw the last of the bright orange and reds of the sweet gum trees (in Orange County, in Big Bear the leaves were all gone by mid-to late October).  They are now dropping "gum balls."  

The is ornament on the left is one of the sweet gum balls i painted white and added glitter to use for a Christmas decoration.  I have a handful of these.  Now in Orange County the ornamental trees blooming.  I've never heard what these trees with the white flowers are called.  They look like a crab apple to me, but they never have fruit.  Still, they are very pretty when they are in bloom.

Big Bear has been warmer than normal.  When we left on Tuesday, it looked like the roses were greening.  I hope this fake spring doesn't confuse our trees, because starting to bud out now could do a lot of damage. 

I've long hated shoes.  I don't feel that arch supports are healthy, and now i have a link to prove my beliefs!  It is this (very long) article at New York Magazine:  You Walk Wrong.  So, i've been walking around the office today barefoot (not even those flip-flops on) from the justification of the article.  Still, no matter how strongly i believe this, going barefoot is never going to look professional.  I like these shoes, too, but they will never really look professional, either.

My two year blogging anniversary came and went and i never even noticed.  My first post was 18 January 2009.  Ah well.    

We have been living in Big Bear for almost 4 years now.  We moved the middle of February 2007.  

We've been living at Sugarbear for 3 years now.  We closed on the house and began moving 30 January 2008.  It is a happy life, even if i'm still aching for children.  We love it.  :)



19 January 2011

Just some pics

I'm intending to write.  In fact, if you are interested in some Christmas items, i'm planning a give away in the next few days.   I've just been overwhelmed with all the stuff i've to do at home.  

So, just some pics.  These were a couple of weeks ago.


15 January 2011


It's been a while since i've written, but not for lack of anything to say.

I think i've been eating too much sugar, for the world has taken on a dim quality.  I seem to be discouraged about everything.  (I wrote "depressed" at first, but i know what true depression is, and i really never experience it these days.  I just get discouraged, but that usually goes away before long.)  The shooting in Arizona was difficult.  But i find it even more difficult that that evil "church" group from Kansas plans to "protest" the funerals.  What is the point of protesting a funeral?  What is more, how are you spreading the love of Jesus by telling people that (you believe) their child is now in Hell?  It makes me sad.

Duane is off with some friends from SAR this AM.  He just sent this pic.  This is a view of the East end of the valley.

I also have been grumpy because my ILs have company which means we were bumped to the air mattress to sleep, and i was in considerable pain both Wednesday and Thursday as a result.  I get irritated with myself because i feel like i'm truly the princess and the pea, but i can't help or change that.  I don't sleep well, anyway, and mattress changes make it so much worse.  But Duane didn't sleep very well, either, and he agreed for us to get a tempapedic pad to go on the air mattress.  I didn't really want to spend the cash (they are over $100) because we only sleep on that thing a few times a year.  But he feels the investment is worth it if it will give us a better night's sleep.  I was hurting badly enough on Thursday not to argue with him.  

I was playing with Photoshop Elements yesterday.  I was trying to create a coloring page from a photo.  I didn't do a great job with it, but i thought this turned out nicely.  It is a pic of a doll i have.  I think it does look like an illustration from a picture book.

I got the letter out to all the kids last week.  (Except i mis-addressed one and it was returned, had to re-send it.)  We've gotten 4 responses (out of 14) so far.  We have also decided to do a "tough love" thing, and if any of them don't bother to fill out the paper and return it we won't include them in the 12 days of Christmas for this year.  I find that kind of difficult, but i think it is right.  If they can't bother to let us know that they care or are interested, then i think we should not include them.  I probably will give them one small gift, but i won't include them in the full plan.  Of course, it is kind of hard for me right now because January is half over, i should have one of the projects done, but i may not know for a week or so yet who is going to participate.

I've kind of struggled with what to plan, as well.  I don't want to just give something for the sake of giving an item.  And i'm not very big on clutter/knick-knack items either, so it is rather a challenge.  

The reason i was playing with PE to create "coloring book" pics is that i thought i might do some of the kids of themselves, if i could get it to turn out right.  But i'm finding that more of a challenge than i expected.  

Some other ideas i've had are origami money (a $5 bill folded to look like a heart with a fancy fan-folded center),  soap sculptures, and some small, inexpensive flashlights.  (I LOVE flashlights, and i think most folks do, especially kids.)

So, my project list right now looks something like this:

January project - origami money - 11th Day of Christmas
February project - soap sculptures (i don't know, this is kind of cheesy, might change it) - 7th Day of Christmas
March project - flashlights - 12th Day of Christmas
April project - homemade necklace (for the girls, for the boys???) - 8th Day of Christmas
May project - tote bag or apron - 10th Day of Christmas
June project - book mark (and book?) - 6th Day of Christmas
July project - a calendar of pics of themselves - 9th Day of Christmas
August project - finger puppets - 5th Day of Christmas
September project - ornaments - 1st Day of Christmas
October project - fridge magnets - 2nd Day of Christmas
November project - homemade lip balm - 3rd Day of Christmas
December project - candy - 4th Day of Christmas

With this plan, i can purchase or make all the items for January, February, and March without being "committed."  Meaning, if we end up having to do the tough love thing, making origami money doesn't mean i have to send it.  A piece of soap (if i stay with this choice) can be used by us.  And i can always find a use for another flashlight.  If i haven't gotten a response by then (or even before), i'm not going to, so i won't bother making extras on the other months.

I've also been on a quest to find household help, again.  Sigh.  Kimmy is wonderful for cleaning when she is able to come, but her schedule has been erratic.  AND what we need most is help with cooking.  So i'm looking again.

Same pic, tho i did some "artistic" work to it on PE, and added a white X roughly where Sugarbear (our house) stands.   This pic amazes me, because there are houses scattered all thru those hills, but they really aren't visible from this height. And as you can see, we've been having warm weather so much of the snow has melted off the low lying areas that get sun.  I'm sure we will have more of the white stuff before the winter is over, tho.


02 January 2011

On the 9th Day of Christmas . . .

Happy New Year on this 2nd day of January!  :)

I did take pics of our tree and our new ornaments for this year.  But i've not loaded them from our camera yet.  I tried, but i think the camera battery needs recharging.  

Duane's cold never got much worse and he seems to be back to normal now.  He has some residual cough, but not bad.  We brought N's daughter, Sierra, over on Thursday.  She hadn't been able to come on Christmas day with the rest of them, so we still had her presents here (i'd wanted to send them home for her but her mama wanted us to keep them).  She played some games on Playstation, and she and i had a "tea party."  I'd even bought some small scones (the leftovers i sent home with her) and made her a small tea sandwich.  I bought gluten free waffles for me (which i rarely do these days) and toasted a couple and ate with lemon curd.  

Lemon curd is divine!  I've never cared much for lemon meringue pie, mostly because i don't much like pie meringue.  But lemon curd is just like the pie filling without the crust or meringue.  It is so good!  

Anyway, we then took Sierra home and picked up Kip.  He stayed with us overnight.  The plan was for him to help me in the house some (long story, but he "owed" me some money from a school project gone bad and this was his proposal to pay it off).  Our house is too fascinating to waste time that way, tho!  He did help Duane carry in and stack some wood.  He would have liked to stay another night, and that wouldn't have been hard, but we felt that some limits are important.  He's a really nice kid.  

We haven't taken the youngest, Joshua, out much.  He isn't 4 yet.  The problem hasn't been behavior or anything.  Rather, he still requires a car seat and that has been an issue requiring a lot of planning.  He is big enough, however, that we could put him in a booster seat (made for this, of course).  They aren't so expensive.  We can get one for as little as $20, so we might do that.  Then we won't have to struggle with his big car seat and having to time it with his mama (she's been working a lot and she has the car, so she has the car seat, too).  

If you think i've been re-using pics a lot, it is true.  I've learned that Picsaweb has a limited number of pics you can use before you have to pay for the space.  So i've been trying to not load as many pics as i used to.  Eventually i'll probably use Picsaweb only for the blog, and load the other pics somewhere else like Photobucket or Flickr.  

I've been working on my ideas for the 12 days of Christmas.  I've been looking at a lot of "home made" blog or web ideas.  Here are the things i've thought of so far:  seeds (planter kit?), a calendar of pics of the kids, bookmarks, candy, an ornament, window ornament? - stained glass, dream catcher?, finger puppets for smaller ones, lip balm, homemade lollies?, home made necklaces/bracelets?, hot chocolate mixes, painted tee shirts?, dollar tree toys wrapped like crackers or in crepe, tote bags, apron, fridge magnets

Of course, anything that is baked goods or candy will have to be made much later in the year.  Homemade lollies would be good, and they'd keep for a while, but i don't think i could make them earlier than October or November.  

I've decided that as there are 12 days of Christmas and 12 months of the year, i'll do one project a month.  I'm also going to sent out a letter saying that we are doing Christmas differently this year, and asking for information like their favorite color, their favorite animal, etc.  I don't know any of the kids on our list very well.  

Have you heard the tale of "the old woman shaking her feather bed" for snow?  It isn't very often that i think of that when it is snowing here.  Usually it snows with a right good will.  However, for a little while today we had big, fluffy flakes coming down in such a lazy way that it was reminiscent of feathers.  Made me think of the story.  :)

I had a lot more to say (i always do!) but got interrupted with my "flow."  Think i'll stop here.

Hope each and every one has had a wonderful holiday season and may God richly bless your coming year.