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feet by holli
i was going to make this entry about changes and changing. but i'm feeling so scattered about the subject right now. all i know is things are changing, in good ways, i feel like i'm changing, progressing, moving forward. which is a good thing. after so many years of sitting still, not going anywhere.

i need to sort through these thoughts some more, and then i'll talk more about it. at the moment, though, just know things are positive and moving. which is GOOD.

(no subject)
feet by holli
I've been feeling depressed lately, and I don't know why. Things are going really great. W is working for that company down in Los Angeles - working for them direct, rather than as a consultant. This is the first time since he was let go from Loral back in 2004 that he's worked for a company directly as a permanent, full time employee. These last 6 years have been a series of consulting jobs, jobs that usually paid well but offered no sense of security and no benefits. This is a true relief, and I don't understand why I can't just relax and feel good now. I'm glad about it, of course, but I don't understand why I don't seem to feel happy.

What a horrible whirl those last 6 years were! I think it wouldn't be so bad if W could ever have felt any control of the situation, for example if he was doing consulting by his own choice. But instead it seemed like the consulting work was completely forced on him, a result of an increasingly chaotic business trend, wherein the various businesses tried to get the max productivity for their least input of both recompense and effort. The last year that he worked, the consulting firm who placed him even went so far as to stipulate that he work under 1099, meaning they treated him as if he was self employed, paid him a flat rate, did not withhold taxes, no benefits, no vacation, etc. (though, as we found out from the state, they shouldn't have, he should have been considered their employee) The idea is that we would handle all the employment taxes ourselves, get our own health plan (yeah, we could afford that for less than a year), we took no vacation, etc. That was, of course, when he had a long term client - most of the time he worked for short stints of a couple months at most, interspersed with scary stretches of unemployment. All leading up to this recession - 13 months of unemployment. I don't want to talk about how close we came to losing our home.

No, I will not miss this period of time that has just passed at all.

So why can't I relax and feel good now? Maybe it's just all the stress catching up with me, finally. I hope so, I hope it will get better. Things seem to be starting to ease up in a bunch of other ways, too. We found that we don't have to move to Los Angeles, after all - the company likes him so much, wants him to work for them so much, they are happy to have him telecommute, working from home, and just travel down there a couple times a month when necessary. I was excited about the prospect of Los Angeles, of a new home and a new city, but I was dreading the moving part - having lived in this house so long, and we are all just packrats, too - we have too much stuff, and moving was going to be downright painful. Avoided!

Soon, we'll have good healthcare insurance again, for the first time in years - I can go have a check up and see a dentist, take care of some health issues that have been concerning me a great deal. Even just paying my monthly bills has gone from something that I have dreaded in the last year to just a chore to be dealt with - no I still don't like giving up money to all these things, but there's no more fear attached to it, I don't worry about not having enough, or wonder how much longer we can stretch it to make it last, or wake up at 4am thinking about it.


Yeah, I read over this and I realize the depression is just a result of all this stress. Time to just shake it all off somehow and move on.

my life
feet by holli
has been a whirl lately, so much going on.

* you know those annoying 'light at the end of the tunnel' hints i was dropping last month? yes! things are going perfectly! wayne is again gainfully employed. actually, gainfully employed x 2! he's working one consulting job at a pretty large company locally. only a 9 week contract, but the best thing about it is that its such a high profile company that it looks so wonderful on his resume, and, given that it is going so well and they like him so much, there is a possibility that it will lead to more work for this high profile company that i don't think i should mention by name. but better still, he's also just started a second consulting job for another company, this one based in los angeles. he did a lot of work for this company in 2007-08, and they really liked him a lot, but with the recession they had to drastically cut back on hiring last year, especially with consultants. now this year, they are, unfortunately, hurting because the person within their company who was taking over for w really didn't know what he was doing and messed up their sox stuff for the auditors. so now it's a big mess and they came back to w to bail them out. what makes this opportunity better for us, though, is that they didn't just give him a consulting job (well, its on a consulting basis for the first 3 months, but then . . .) they offered him the job direct, which would mean benefits and better pay and job security and wonderful things like that. the only hitch is - we have to move to los angeles.
* we're probably going to move to los angeles!
* having lived in this house for so long, and being that everyone in this house is a pack rat, i cannot begin to state just how huge this job of moving house is going to be. i mean, this whole thing about moving only came up last friday, and we spent our entire weekend making up a list of all the many, many, MANY things that we must do. first of all, we have to go through all our personal junk and decide what is worth hauling down to l.a., and then get rid of the stuff that isn't worth it. there is much craig's listing and ebaying already begun. when we have pared our belongings down to a manageable level, we then get to work on a long, long, LONG list of repairs and things we have to do to make this place ready to . .. to . . . . to do whatever we will end up doing. hoping to just be able to rent it out, but we might have to sell. we'll see. either way, there is a lot of house paint in my future.
* i'm actually very, very excited about this prospect of moving to los angeles. when i was a kid, we moved constantly. my family moved just about every year. heck, one year we moved 3 times! it was a very unsettled existence, not really anything i would recommend, particularly if one has small children. but, the point is, i grew up on the move. and then when i married wayne, we settled down pretty hardcore. we've lived in our house for over 20 years. there have been times i felt restless, but i was always able to push it aside and just pay attention to living my life. now, with this looming, i find i'm just thrilled with the opportunity to go to a new place, make a new home, and experience new things. obviously there are things i will miss about the bay area - it is probably my favorite place in the world at this point. but, its not like northern california is going to go away, we just won't be living in it for awhile. also, if we are able to rent this house out, then it will still be here if we are able to come back someday.
* i've also been having some amazing ideas for some art projects so on top of everything else, my mind is just racing with that.
* spring training games start today! huzzah! i have missed my giants soooo much. of course, that is one thing that will be bad about moving to l.a. - dodgerville. booooo. thank god for mlb.tv!

i don't do january
feet by holli
but hey, january is so last month. so here i am.

and can i just say, do i dare say, i think there may be a tiny flicker of light at the end of this big ol' dark tunnel! things are improving but they've been deproving for so long now i'm scared i'll jinx anything good that might soon happen, so i'm just not going to say for sure just yet.

sorry i know that was not the easiest thing to understand.

today i:
woke up with a headache but i refuse to let it beat me;
am working on a collage i started last night after weeks, nay, months of procrastination;
went grocery shopping and fondled avocados;
did some laundry; (my washing machine leaks all over the garage floor. but hey, clothes gotta get clean.)
am watching a new storm blow in;
am alternately wondering and marveling and despairing at people on the internets;
playing with zasu.

and its still early i got hours and hours to do more important things.

10 good things that happen after christmas
feet by holli
1. The clock seems to stop - all the pressure and rushing around ends and time stands still. There is no more timetable, no more due dates, or deadlines. We got nothing but time, time, time! Which leads to item number 2 -

2. My internal alarm clock goes away. That thing in me that makes me wake up at 6:30 every single day, even Sunday, even in the summer, no matter what - it just stops. I slept til 9 this morning! whoo! It's probably due to exhaustion, but whatever. No complaints here.

3. I don't have to cook for a week! Well, not serious cooking anyways. Everyone's happy with turkey sandwiches and leftovers.

4. No more Christmas music! *le happy sigh*

5. Those inflatable santa's and snowmen all my neighbors have on their lawns are left shriveled up on the grass! huzzah! death to inflatable santa's and snowmen!

6. There is a lot more room in my freezer now that the turkey is gone.

7. We still have half a pan of fudge left, and nobody we have to share it with!

8. We got enough dvd's as gifts to keep us occupied for at least another week.

9. The stores have already got rid of the Christmas stuff - and replaced it with Valentine's/St Pat's Day stuff.

10. I am free to redecorate and play with my house again (all the painting and mucking around was put on hold til after the holidays.) First up, paint and do something with my entry.

weekend at two family outposts
Saturday we were at my mom's home in Modesto, visiting her and my brother. It was pretty mayhem-y, but a good time was had, hopefully by all. I certainly can't complain, seeing as how it's my fault the whole thing came about. I had been getting all nostalgic in the last month, remembering the holidays from my childhood. One of our old family traditions was an annual trek to Modesto to visit all the relatives - 2 sets of grandparents, and a multitude of aunts, uncles and cousins. At that time, my mom had been the only one to move far from her old hometown, and we only got to visit everyone a few times a year. Christmas was one of those times for big get-togethers, and, at first, we tried to keep that up when I became an adult. But in the last 15-20 years, it really lapsed. All the grandparents passed away, and an uncle as well. The cousins grew up and had families of their own. People scattered across the country. Even when my mom moved back, the visits occurred less often. Plus, we were shocked to find out that most of the family there were never all that keen on the big family Christmas celebrations anyways - they apparently had only gone along with it to humor my mom! wha? ppflllft Mess with my poignant memories will ya?! Man, was I disappointed to find that out.

Anyways, after I moaned to my mom about how much I missed that stuff, we decided to start our own family tradition, a little late but better than never, to get together at her house for a nice, albeit smaller, pre-holiday dinner. Maybe one of these days we can cajole some of the other family members into joining us, but for this year it was just us and my brother. It's really just as well this time, since we were winging it and made a few mistakes - from which, hopefully, we can learn. For instance, we had way way way too much food. Also, my poor mom was so flustered because she had to work the day before and didn't have time to get a lot of things done in advance, so was last-minuting a bunch of things. Everything was great mind you, but she wasn't able to relax and enjoy it as much as I wish she had.

We still had a really nice time though - everyone was in a good mood, and that's the important thing. I spent some time getting my mom set up with a blog, too. I'm kind of pushing her into it, because I think she'd really enjoy it, and I'm always finding other people's blogs that I think she'd love to follow. She has a great style and loves her home, but these days, she seems, unfortunately, to be bogged down with the business of life and not getting to focus on the things that have always made her happy. Blogging just seems like it was tailor-made for her. I don't know if she'll get into it, though, we'll see.

Sunday we went to my sister-in-law's home in Oakley for a brunch potluck, which is becoming something of a tradition, too. We brought bread - fresh muffins and pumpkin bread. There was also this delicious strata my mother-in-law makes, which I need to get the recipe for, and hashbrowns and lots of fresh fruit, and mimosas to drink. Lovely time! Brunches are neat too, because you socialize and party and everything, but then you still have the rest of the day to recover and you don't wake up the next morning with a hangover =).

white christmas
feet by holli
This year we are not having a big Christmas tree. It just seems too extravagant for our financial situation. However, we are still decorating our house for the holidays. We have several small artificial trees we usually use in various places about the house. This small white one usually goes in our bedroom, but this year I put it in my office window. I just recently painted my office walls a pretty intense blue color, and the white looks really nice with it. I'm just happy to have a way to use my favorite ornaments.

It would be nice to have a real white Christmas with snow, but that really doesn't happen here in the bay area. The most we can hope for is a light dusting of snow up on the hills - which we actually did get Monday, though it's already all melted off. Lots of rain forecast for the rest of this week, though, and it has been abnormally cold here, so who knows, maybe I'll have something to show by the end of the weekend. *fingers crossed*

zasu is a punk rocker
swilling monkey
zasu is a punk rocker

I am unwell.
Woke up around 4am with a headache and it has not left my side all day.  Its the kind that makes you weak and cotton-headed, in addition to the pain.  It seems to be subsiding just a bit now, though this has happened a couple times earlier today and just when I thought it was really going away and started to relax it came raging back worse than ever.  But I hope it really is quitting. I like a headache that's a quitter.

Its really dreary here today, possibly that has something to do with said headache.  Oh, I've heard people say that the weather can't really affect headaches, that its all in your mind, but that's where the headache is, you know - my mind.  And all I know is that when the weather starts to get dreary and overcast this time of year, when the pressure starts to fall, I occasionally wake up with headaches. *shrug*

In spite of pain, I had to go grocery shopping this morning. I had no easy food in the house.  And it's a lucky thing I did go, as I found myself the recipient of a free turkey! Huzzah!  Lovely!  I didn't know anything about this free turkey giveaway thing - maybe they had signs in the store, I don't know.  I wasn't up to reading anything, just following my cart wherever it went, throwing bread, jugs of milk, cheez-its and sudafed in as I crept through those aisles.  Impulse buy of the day: yorke peppermint patties. Mmmmm.  So the checkout person (was it a man or a woman?  I can't remember, I think woman - I remember the voice was annoyingly high-pitched) asked me "and, would you like a free turkey?"  For a moment, just a split second there, I considered saying "oh no thank you i can't deal with that right now." Thank goodness I wasn't that far gone and instead I said "sure."  

So, now I have a nice 15lb turkey in the freezer.  That should feed 12 people.  Thanksgiving is happening with or without me.

feet by holli
I love this time of year.  Autumn always has such a sense of expectancy attached to it. I can see all these things coming in the next months, lots of entertaining for holidays - we're starting it off with hosting my husband's family for Thanksgiving. Lots of chores to be done in the garden, buttoning things down for winter.  We've already started clearing out the last of the vegetables from the garden - carrots, tomatoes, radishes - all done for the year.  Sunset magazine had an article recently about growing winter lettuces, and I was sorely tempted to try, but we've never had good luck with lettuce here.  Frankly, I kind of like when we just let winter take over the yard, anyways, and don't try to produce anything from it.  I have other projects I'm more interested in pursuing now.  For one thing, rain barrels. But that's just the beginning of an idea at this time.  I'll write more about it later if it actually works out.

Also expect lots of downtime, and cold time, too.  So I'm working on things to blunt that chill.  The other day I put together enough bean soup mix to get us through April.  I love 15-bean soup for dinner on winter nights - so warm and hearty.  And very filling, just some good bread on the side and you're set.  I used to just get the little bags of 15-bean soup mix at the grocery and follow the directions on the back, but the last time I did that, the bag seemed to be more split peas than other types of beans.  Also, the recipe seems pretty minimal.  So I went searching for a better recipe and think I found a winner.  Also putting together my own mix of beans so I could minimize the things we love less (like split peas) has worked out really well so far.  It's nice to know that we always have the makings of this on hand.  And, as a bonus, it fills this decorative jar on my counter quite nicely!
bean soup

Also, planning to knit a blanket this winter.  I have a pattern that I made for a friend for Christmas many years ago - it turned out so nice, as soon as it was finished I immediately thought I'd make one for us someday.  This seems like a worthy project for the next few months.  Need to go through my giant box of yarn and see what I have, what I need.  More on that later, I guess.