Sunday, November 27, 2005

California winter

Here I am kicking myself for not bringing a camera everywhere I go, especially after seeing all of the great pictures Flash put on his blog.

The last two nights have been quite cold, and the stars are brighter than ever, because the cold air makes for clearer skies around these parts. Also today, the horizon was the furthest I can remember seeing. Usually there is a bank of fog or haze that sits out at sea and makes a crisp, well-defined horizon impossible to discern.

Last night, the hubby and I saw the new Harry Potter, and it was ok. I am not a big fan of the series, but for what they are it was worth the admission.

Today was more entertaining in my mind though. We went to some friends who host a yearly craft show at their glass blowing workshop. I am always fascinated to watch them do some demos, and today was no exception. The culmination of the show, was a piece made conjointly by 5 artisans. It was designed by one of them, and was a rooster, sitting on an egg in a nest. It took them a good hour to put together, and I just loved every minute of it. As the temperature dropped outside, about 35F the last two nights, it was great to be in the workshop, near the roaring kiln that melts the glass, enjoying wine, and banter between the small audience and the artists. I love watching the glowing glass as it is shaped and reheated repeatedly, while the artist coaxed shapes out of it. I also noticed how the outside shape often does not change when the artist blows in the glass. The bubble inside the molten glass reaches the outside shape of the substance. One young man made a vase and was fascinating to see work as he added colour to the shape, then twirled the amber ball in the air to give it an elongated shape. It was great. It started the shopping season for the holidays, as I need to send items across the border to canada to my family.

It was great walking to the car in complete darkness as there was no moon or streetlight to take away the beauty of the stars, crisp and twinkling in the inky sky. Very pleasant.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving dinner

As usual, we had a good crowd of about twenty, if we count the Soccer Coach, who arrived at about 9 PM. He had to help a friend who had car trouble and could not get to the house earlier. We were all glad that he made it even though he missed a lot of the merriment. Everyone brought some food that was out of this world. Here are some pictures. Mystic, if you like sugar, you would have been in heaven!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Radmilla's meme

This one just was interesting to me, so I decided to go ahead and do it.

Name 3 people you absolutely miss right this moment that you haven't seen in some time.
1) My Brother
2) A friend I met this summer
3) The Travel Agent

Name 3 things you miss about home during the holidays (be it people, smells, foods, whatever).
The snow
Ogilvy's decorated Christmas window
Red and white fish candy (can't find them in the US)

Name 1 holiday memory that you have from childhood that you will never forget.
Opening my present of a panda bear, the first time I went to midnight mass at the age of 5. I still have a picture of my family from that year where I am clutching that bear.

Name at least 1 favorite book or movie that always reminds you of the holidays.Magoo's christmas, we watched it in french and just laughed, it is so funny.

Name your top 3 favorite holiday songs that get you in the mood to celebrate.A lot of religious songs, not because I am religious, but because of the memories associated to them: silent night, les anges dans nos campagnes, Bruce Coburn christmas cd and A very Special Christmas cd with various artists.

If you could go anywhere other than home for the holidays, where would you choose to go and who would you want to bring along? This year, since it has been a while, anywhere there is snow, so probably the nearest mountains (Kings Canyon or Yosemite), and I would take the family.

The Grinch or Rudolph?Definitely the grinch, he is so much more interesting and he has that cute dog too!

Formal holiday dinner or casual get-together food?
We always had salmon for christmas, since we lived in a landlocked area (Montreal) and it was special to my mom. I do that a lot or sometimes a goose or duck, and it is usually informal.

Name the best holiday gift you ever received and why.
A crystal pendent from the hubby, because I did not have to ask this specific piece, and he got it!

Describe the funniest holiday moment you've ever had.
Having a new year's party at my cousin's church because he was on-call and ending up singing show tunes in the church, while he played them on the organ.

Name a holiday memory that truly warmed your heart.
Several agencies I have worked for get presents for kids during this time of year and one year I delivered all of the present that had not been claimed and would not otherwise make it to the families they were collected for. One family had a slew of kids, all living in a trailer. They mostly spoke spanish, and the oldest brother, about 10, took charge of making sure the present would not be opened until parents returned home. The exitement in those kid's face was very heartwarming. Another teen girl, who had been in all kinds of trouble, just was so exited to get anything from our agency, and came to the car with a friend to pick up what had been collected. In that moment, she was just a young girl, wanting to be treated as such, and expresing her thanks for what she received. Those moments are precious to me because they highlight the human bond we all share.

Name your top 3 favorite TV specials that frequent the airwaves during the holiday season.
1) How the Grinch Stole Christmas
2) The Santa Clause
3) Jim Hanson's river otter special (I don't know the title as it has not been shown in a while)

Sledding, snowball fight, snow angels or building a snowman?
All of it, especially for just the holiday season! Just the smell of the snow is so great.

Eggnog, hot chocolate, or hot cider?
Hot cider

Candy canes or fruit cake?
Candy Canes

Favorite holiday cookie:
Just sugar cookies, with candied fruits on them. That is what my mom used to make. Now I make some with chocolate drizzle too, but I don't bake a lot for the holidays since then you have to eat it all!

Now it's yours turn if you are so inclined!

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Moon Rising over Morro Bay

Today I have begun the training of a new worker, and as usual it is sort of a drag. What makes it worse is that this chicks asks tons of weird questions and keeps going on about what her old job was like. The wierd questions are of the order of wondering how much I will micromanage her. That worries me as in should I micro manage you girl? At my agency, and I assume most agencies, since those I have worked at, even as a field worker, we pretty much do a lot on our own and when needed ask for supervision from others who are available. We have two hours of weekly supervision schedule and either myself of the "big boss" are there for any other questions, doubts, concerns, check in, etc. This woman is asking questions such as: "will you come to my meetings at least once a month?" and "How will you verify that I am fulfilling the hours I put on my timecard?" Now would that make you suspiscious, or am I just strange? Why would she ask that? She stated that her previous supervisor would require her to submit a schedule, and would call at any time to verify that she was where her schedule said that she was. Since we work primarily in the field, I assume all workers are out there doing their job. I am just naive? I'm sure from time to time folks may cut a corner, but I also know that due to the nature of our work, there are other times when we work extra, make that way extra because a family is in crisis and require extra attention. How about other social workers out there? Do you expect your managers to "spy" on you throughout the day? I have never experienced that.
She also would interrupt me with questions about deadlines and regulation rather than to let me get to my points. It just felt a little weird. I hope she works out, but right now, I have some doubt.

The funny thing was that in the interview, I did tell the "big boss" that in my guts, I felt that she was not the right candidate. My boss does not like to interview, so he tends to be eager to pick folks, and I did not have anything specific other than I just "felt" she was not the right candidate. Spanish Beauty (spin and HC, you know who I mean) always validates my gut feelings, as they have been more right than my brain many times! I hope my guts are wrong this time, because I just hate training! Well especially when it is not going well and taking much longer than it should because you get interrupted every two minutes to compare to what someone's previous job did! AAAGGGHHH!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Week in and week out and week-end!

Thanks to the war veterans we get an extra long week-end that started yesterday. I am grateful for the day off, but I am unsure of what I think of the reason for the holiday. I somehow cannot think that being willing to go kill other folks, for whatever reason, is such a great thing. I always thought, simplistically, that if no one volunteered to go to war on any sides, then there would be no war. I know, how naive! But that is where my heart stands in the matter.

Here I am listening to the Duhks, my favorite group as I write. It has been a busy week-end so far. I started by going dancing with friends from work on Thursday night. We went to two bars, after a lavish sushi dinner. The first bar had some friends' boyfriends' band, and they were ok, but not great and we left for the ever popular Mother's Tavern who advertize their "live DJ" with great pride. How oximoronish can that term get? How far from live music is a DJ and would you want a dead DJ? I think not. Anyways, we had fun dancing at both venues. Straight and Narrow had forgoten is ID and Cutie Girl used her fresh stamp from the bouncer and "stamped" him. He was so worried he would get busted. We were all laughing. The music was funny because they had lots of Madonna and Prince. What a flashback! We had a good time. On the way home I saw the huge, reddish, setting moon, and tons of stars. The night sky was stunning.

Yesterday I had and oil change and while I waited for the car, spent a good deal of time composing a very short message in czech for my friend who lives there. I also wrote a letter to another friend the Artist, from Quebec. Then I did some shopping, but did not buy anything. At home, I printed a bunch of pictures to send to the Artist along with the letter. Later, the hubby and I went to Blue, a very nice bar to see "Kravitz" from our summer trip perform. They were very good. They had a bass, guitar, sax, voice, and drums. the place was full and other friends from the trip were there.

Today, I worked out, watched some tennis, wrote up captions on the photogradphs I am sending to the Artist. Then we went to see "Christmas in the Clouds," which is very sweet. Sort of a modern American Indian "Much Ado About Nothing." One of the secondary character and narrator is a local man, and he did a very good job. Graham Greene is very funny as the vegetarian chef.

Then tonight there is supposed to be a very good band in Los Osos with a Brazilian musician, which I might still go see.

Tomorrow I have some cleaning to do. God I hate cleaning! Who will invente a self-cleaning house? I'll gladly become their slave! (Well maybe not, because then they are sure to make me clean something!) I also would like to get my computer set up to have Itunes which is still not getting installed right.

Photo of the Duhks in action at the "Quack off" at Strawberry last September.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Mystic's Meme

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being able to travel all over the world whenever I want a break from work.
What is your greatest fear?
To become senile or somewhat incapacitated.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Not really any, Don Quichote comes to mind, but he's not historical now, is he? (že?)
What is your greatest extravagance?
Buying closes that I can't really afford.
What is your favourite journey?
All the trial and errors of my life.
What do you like most about your appearance?
I guess my hair, although at times, I hate it most too!
Which living person do you most despise??
the prez, of course! (samozřejmě!)
What is your greatest regret?
Not going back to school earlier on, but then my journey would be different, and I would miss all of the folks that are on my path.
When and where are you happiest?
In the company of my friends, in good discussion, enjoying life.
What is your current state of mind?
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
Being more assertive.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Raising the "Kid!"
What is your most treasured possession?
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Hatred and selfishness.
Where would you like to live?
Many places, Pacific Island (particularly Fiji), Europe (Czech Republik or Switzerland), Quebec, Portugal, Brazil, Australia, Africa, and many other places.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Ability to learn languages, desire to reach out to other human beings. (that is sort of tied in together, I guess).
What is the quality you most like in a man?
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Who are your favourite writers?
Jacques Prevert, Marge Piercy, Octavia Buttler (thanks Spins!), John Irving, Amelie Nothomb, Isabelle Allende, et j'en passe, et j'en passe.(more, and more)
Who are your heroes in real life??
I always hate that question, I was at a training last week where we were asked to share that with other folks. I guess my mom, my daughter, my brother, myself.
What is your motto?
We all live under the same sun. (Don't anyone steal it for a book title, I have witnesses!)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Test week

This week, oh joy, I have a pulmonary test. That means that on Thursday, I get to blow in a little tube that will tell me that I am at 20% or so of what should be expected for my age, lungwise. Yeah! On top of it, it means that I cannot use my meds for a couple of days, which always scares me. I am feeling fine right now and on my home test, I fared better than I normally do. ???? So, do I really need all the meds my doc think I do? Well, I do know that if I was to try and exercise, I would not feel so great right now. I will see by thursday what is up and how well I breathe, since it takes a few days for all of the meds to clear our system.

I am also anxious to hear the result of the California elections tonight. I'm surprised that none of the channels are giving any info at this time. I will see if I can find something online. On the bright side, Bush made a fool of himself in south america. That is always refreshing to see that others in the world align with my viewpoint.

I have been working a lot today as one of my co-worker is ill. She is at home and sounds aweful. So I get to sub for her on all of her meetings with families. Double the work for me! And to top it off, Dept of social services will be eliminating their unit that is our sister unit. That means that instead of always dealing with the same folks, we will have a bunch of folks, who for the most part, do not believe in families living together, and come from a one-up view of the clients we serve. By this I mean that they see themselves as more knowledgeable than clients and are very reluctant to let client be partners, which is the focus of my program. I am such a feminist theorist, it is not even funny. But many of the folks we will now interface with come from a very punitive standpoint, and I fear that our program will go to hell in a hand basket. One of the partners that has been wonderful is so upset. Her job is basically on the hocks (sp?) and she is very worried as she does not want to be just another line worker. It's a lot of politic-ing, and I hope the folks we serve do not have to suffer too much.

This seems to be a theme for me. That of equality. I have difficulties with hierarchy, and this new change definitely stems from one. Also at my own agency, there definitely is more signs of this, and I always have problems with it. There is also a lot of hegemony, as the big boss has three sons, all of which have worked for us at one point or another. I'm sure my kid would get hired anytime, but I'm not sure she would want it. Some folks have been very dissatisfied and I hope we can regain some momentum soon. Overall we have a great crew, many of whom I count as friends, even after they have left the joint.

I guess I'll surf for a while and then read and study some Czech while soaking my feet (that is my little treat to myself, feels so good) and then go to bed.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Long time

It feels like I have not blogged forever, and I'm not even doing Nanowrimo! I don't know how those guys do it! I found it enticing to try and sign up for it, but I just don't know how I could write that much. Although I find myself writing in my head whenever I drive somewhere. I have done that for as long as I can remember. One of these times, I'll have to put some of it down on paper. Or I was thinking that I could carry a tape recorder and transcribe it later because when I try to remember it, it just does not work.

I've had a busy and great week. I spent two days in dismal Fresno, CA at a multicultural summit. That was great. Not the town, but the conference. They had a huge focus on the Hmong culture as there are many in that region who emigrated at the end of the Vietnam war era. We also heard Victor Villasenor speak as a Keynote and he was great, very passionate. He wrote "Rain of Gold" a very touching and truthful account of the lives of mexican emigrants in the US. Then I had a chance to talk with the big mucky-mucks of changes at the state level who are trying to bring patient's rights to the forefront as spelled out by prop 63 which passed last year. It was great. There are some wonderful folks working on that. There were many mental health consumers in attendance and they bring a lot to the discussion, especially in reminding the presenters to be less linear and more openminded. It is very refreshing. I think the co-worker that came with me really enjoyed it.

I also went to dinner with a woman I met this summer during our European adventure. It was great to see her and catch up. She is a teacher and has a son about the Kid's age. So it was fun. Then the two and a half hour drive home, but good music made it work out.

Last night I went to three shows! First, there was a concert at the theather the Hubby runs. The local jazz singers, who still need a little work, and then this amazing group from LA called M-Pact. They are six acapella singers who are out of this world. It was very hard to sit still to the great music that they were making. One of them made sounds so amazing you would have thought that there was a full drum set on stage, a flute, someone spinning LPs, and all kind of instruments. Another guy went completely Soprano, and then would go way down in Bass range. They were amazing.

After that I went out with some friends as the Spin Doctor was bringing a group to the area. It was some techno funk something that was tolerable. "Push button music" one of the girls we were with dubbed it. Then the club had dancers in skimpy clothes get up on this box with a column in the middle, doing some pole dancing. That is when we took our cue to leave. One of the young women I was with was really offended. So we went to this other pub "the Frog and Peach" (I kid you not, it is the name of the place) who had a great Raggae band and we dance for a good while. I saw lots of folks I know and overall we all had a good time. Unfortunately, my friend the Drummer was severely intoxicated and became very interested in one of the young woman I was with. I think he freaked her out a little as he started to follow her around too much. He is a nice guy and usually he has a retinue of women as he is somewhat of a celebrity in our area as a well-known musician. That was a side of him I had not seen yet and wish I still had not seen. There was also a other guy who was trying to cop a feel to the same girl, but we all took turns to send him on his way. Then some of the singers from the Euro group came in and it was good to see them out here. They are such a nice group. One of them was very surprized to hear that I saw his mom on the previous night. I also had some guy pursuing me and dancing with me that made me think, boy you must be desperate if at 20 something, you need the FIFTY year old chick in the joint! I just did not expect that. I have had other young men dance with me when I go out, but this guy was more persistant and more touchy-feely and it was a little wierd. Of course, I also dance wildly with guys I know, and that is always fun.

Also this week, I received an e-mail from my friend in Czech Republik. I was very happy to see that, as I worried we would lose touch. It was a while since his last e-mail. That was a nice boost to my week as that guy is just very sweet, and I would very much like to count him as a friend. I like having folks throughout the world to I keep in touch with. That sort of brings me back full circle with the begining of this post about multiculturalism. I think that if we all had more friends throughout the world, we would take a lot more time before accepting prejudice and starting wars of any kind. That is one plan of Jacques Cousteau that I wish had seen the light of day. He wanted to start a program where children would be sent to other parts of the world for several years, a massive exchange student program. Wouldn't we learn to love one another then? I don't know why this is such a hard lesson for mankind to learn. My concept of spirituallity is that once we have learn all there is for us to learn in one life, we die. So I guess once humanity learns that one, it will be time for an ice age, or solar wind to start a new specie and get this one off the planet. The dinosaur must have learned all that they could and then became extinct!! ;)

Peace march, San Luis Obispo, March 2002.