Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Random Ameranthness


Ameranth just got up to yell at the dogs who are outside barking madly. Or so she says. If they're outside, I have no trouble ignoring their shenanigans, but she frets and complains and finally calls them inside. It's obvious she is not a parent.

She had the day off and I didn't. That is so unfair of the scheduling computer, who is making me work 6 days and Ameranth only 4 days this week. I am older and need the downtime. She is younger and needs the money. (I need the money too, but she is still younger).I must say she did do the dishes and make waffle batter between lolling around all day.

I neglected to mention a milestone passed last week. Ameranth won her first Scrabble game- at least she said she had never won before, and why would she lie about that? She had the game well in hand the whole time, and I noticed that she was very quiet as we got closer to the end- I think she was afraid of jinxing herself. She also pointed out that there could be no excuses- it was morning, no one was tired, etc.

I forgot the ibuprofen this morning- bad mistake. Live update- J dramatically exclaimed "You always have tablets here! Why can I not find one?"  Since I had just written 'ibuprofen', I immediately thought he wanted pills of some sort, though I had no idea why. He came in and explained that he wanted a notebook to which Ameranth replied " Tablet, Dad? What, are you living in the 14th century? Do you want a quill to go with it?"   You know, we really do have civil conversations sometimes.  Sometimes.

This was supposed to be a Random Tuesday post, but it ended up being all about Ameranth. Which is apropos since she is very often pretty random herself.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holy Moley Mackaroly!

My apologies to anyone whose blogs I follow-I am still reading but haven't had the time or energy to type a nice comment for you. Happy Thanksgiving, wow, snow already? and those were some nice mustaches grown for Movember.

The good news is that my feet and legs are getting used to the walking (anywhere from 5.5 to 7.5 miles per day according to Ameranth's pedometer) but the bad news is that, starting Monday, I will be working 6 days a week. Yuck.

J was concerned last Monday when I went to bed at 3:30- he wanted to know how long I wanted to nap. When I said all night, he said I couldn't sleep 12 hours!  Oh yes I could, and did. Mmmmm mmm, it was nice.

Oh and I do have news- Ameranth found her old music thingy and showed me how to use it. What a difference that makes! I did have to restrain myself from singing out loud (though I did whistle that part of "look at the bright side of life" from Spamalot) but it makes the time pass more quickly while not distracting me from checking stock, size and color details. Then, even more news! Ms. M gave me a new MP3 player -this deserves the correct terminology- for an early birthday present. I spent some time today transferring music from CDs to my little jewel of a toy. Plus I have new ear buds in a shiny metallic green. I am stylin'.

Ms. M, Mr C. and Sectaurs joined us for Thanksgiving and we had a lot of fun, eating, talking, playing Wii, Scrabble and Scattergories. We checked out Sectaurs brand new car, which is very nice, and hid the dog food and garbage can from Mabel again. After an intense reunion growlfest, the 4 dogs behaved nicely.

My sister, #5, had an excellent idea about having our family email members send a picture of their holiday gatherings since we are spread about the country. We are only missing one from my brother since his dinner was this weekend not on Thursday. It was nice seeing faces that go with names on our family emails, faces we haven't seen in years or, in some cases, never have met in person.

In fact I think I will post them all here again for all the family members (and friends) that read this from time to time.
First us in ME:
Shoeshine and Ladyslipper in CO last month:

My parents, #3 and her family in RI:

# 4 and family in RI:
# 5 and family in RI:
My aunt and friends in FL:
A cousin and family in CT:
A cousin and family in ME:

A cousin and family in MT:
An uncle and aunt with one of their granddaughters in CT:
A cousin with more of their grandchildren in VA:
An uncle and family in CT, toasting an old friend who died earlier this year:

A lot of people and pictures, right? Good thing J's family didn't do this- there's twice as many of them! But even though they don't do email as well much as we do, relying on phone calls instead, they are a close family too, and  J and I count ourselves blessed with relatives that we like, as well as love.

*edit- just got this photo of #2, his wife, and niece and her husband in TX:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Maybe I need a music thingy, too

It's surprisingly quiet working in the warehouse.  Of course there are fans and belts and loudspeaker announcements and cardboard cartons hitting the floor, but the people are pretty quiet overall. I'm used to hearing the hum of voices talking to customers on the phone.

Mostly the people are quiet because they are listening to music players. Ameranth has one too, and she sometimes takes her laptop with us to upload new selections to her player on the drive in. I don't have one ( and wouldn't know how to work one if I did) so now that I have gotten used to the work, my mind is free to wander a bit, tap dancing away from reality and singing my own happy songs. (Not aloud)

Today I kept running in to the same lady as we turned in work and got new assignments, then we chatted a bit during stretch break. We picked stock in the same row once and as she was leaving, I stopped myself from saying "See you on the flip-flop" realizing in time that she was nowhere near my age and would probably not recognize the quote from "Convoy" .  Then I amused myself awhile picturing us all in a line with  a hopper convoy crashing through stacks of empty cardboard boxes. 

The assignments have 12 items on a page and a full one has 10 pages. We fold them in 3 strips of 4 sticky labels and peel off the matching label for each item as we pull it out of a carton. I knelt on the floor and started pulling shirts out two at a time, labeled and threw them in my cart. Turning the page over, I realized that I had more and more of the same shirt, and as it dawned on me that I was going to empty that carton, I found myself saying " You're going in the cart, you're going in the cart and you are all going in the cart!!" in an Oprah voice in my head. Simple mind, simple amusements.

My job coach (this year's term for seasonal leadership) asked me how I was liking the 5AM start time. I paused long enough to make sure I replied politely and said it wouldn't have been my first choice. Later he asked me what time I went to bed and laughed when I said 6:30, 7:00.  When I found out he lives 7 minutes away, I remarked that he didn't have to get up at 3 to get here on time. No, he said, I get up at 3 to run with my dogs. Yikes!  I work with crazy people! Maybe it's a good thing they have earbuds and don't talk.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Worky McWorky

I thought I would tell you a bit about my seasonal job but Google failed me in the quest for an image of the carts we use in the warehouse. There are dozens of them lining the main aisle when we come in at 5 AM, but they soon disappear in the stacks only to come back to be emptied down conveyor belts. (They don't do this on their own- if they did, there would be no use for such as I to be hired!)

Ameranth and I are up to a full 8 hour day now in our work-hardening process. Thank goodness they have the progression they do, I think most of us would have quit the first day if we started off at 8! My feet are not complaining as much and I hope my back shuts up pretty soon too.

Getting back to the carts, I am forced to draw one myself, which I did in a hurry and not in hopes of praise for my abilities, as you can see.
(I did take some artistic license in that I really don't move fast enough to leave little dust whirls behind me. And I don't smile that much.) 

But the cart does have that nifty little ladder that you use to get to the 4th and 5th shelves. When you step on it, it goes down a few inches and little rubber feet hold everything still. When it's full you line it up with the conveyor belt and release a latch and shove the whole top part out over the chute. There is no bottom in the moving part so the items drop out- unless the belt isn't moving then you have to leave the cart there to empty on it's own and find another one to start all over again.

This is me with a full hopper, and overflow on the bottom shelf and pushing empty cartons in front of me down the aisle. (I really don't get that annoyed though, at least not since I mastered the art of turning a corner with the boxes)

I find the whole warehouse operation to be fascinating. Who thought this stuff up? The belts circling the building, bringing items to be packed; the other belts taking cardboard boxes to be recycled; and the location system. There is no fixed place for each item- the stacks are numbered and when a carton is placed on a shelf and scanned the computer knows where it is and creates assignments. We get a list of locations and the item that is supposed to be there. They are listed sequentially so you could find all of your 120 items within a single 35 foot row, with someone in front of or behind you. Or there could be no one in sight until you climb up to the 3rd little step and you see someone else popping their head up too, 2 aisles over. It's like being a prairie dog. 

Twice a day we have stretch breaks where we all meet in the center and do group stretches. (Not like Twister, but all at the same time) All these people come out of the aisles, stretch, then melt away again in every direction. It gives me a little "Children of the Corn" feeling.

It's after 4 now and I only have two hours left to shower, eat and go to bed, so this educational post is now done.I must say though that I am enjoying this experience so far- I've never worked in a warehouse environment before and the time does pass quickly when you are busy, busy and moving all day.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sometimes the Crazy spreads

This was the email chain from my family yesterday, starting with a typo from my dad.

(Source): Tis the last day of L and K's 'practice' work week with LLB, while Steve wanders the Little Belt Mountains in Montana in search of freezer filling elf and/or deer and Sal sits in the sunshine admiring her Blue Angels - known here by a different name.

(Steve's wife): I hope he doesn't bring home an elf!  :D

(Source):Godfrey Mighty!  Mine eyes must be failing or mine finges misbehaving!  But....wouldn't an elf be handy around the house?!!

(me): Like a house elf in Harry Potter?

(brother):Be careful though I think they have laws against mounting an elf in most states.

(uncle):Our elf season doesn't start in CT till after 12/25.

(sister): good thinking!!! cover all bases!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Still remembering

I'm not writing much today, just pointing you towards two blog posts that I think worth sharing. Cid is one of several Canadian bloggers I follow and I really liked her post today about the Highway of Heroes.  Check it out, I'm sure you'll like it too.

Then, because I am not Canadian, I just had to Google that and find out more details about this grassroot tradition that has grown over the years.  I found this interesting column and another video. Watch it- it's good.

It reminded me of our troop greeters in Bangor Maine, and how the unofficial salutes to troops of any nation  can often be more moving than official tributes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

Thank you to all veterans and the folks serving now, especially the ones in my family. J, Shoeshine and Mr. C of course, several brothers-in-law, cousins and uncles, J's Dad and uncle are/were veterans. One nephew is a captain in the Army now and several more are reservists or National Guard. And thanks to all of the families as well. It's tough when a loved one is in the service.

Here's my two Army guys- I wish I had a picture of Mr. C in his Navy uniform!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November Birthdays

I had to wait for Ameranth to upload the pictures from her camera, making our birthday pictures  a little late. J's is on the 1st and 30 years later, Ameranth was born on the 7th. As you may know, Rosie ate J's original cake last week and then I was busy learning how to work again, so they shared the spotlight last Saturday.

I found a bottled glaze for the Boston Cream Pie, which worked pretty well. It heats in the microwave, was easy to apply and tasted pretty good, so that turned out okay. Ameranth's cake was a layer filled with bananas and pudding and topped with more pudding mixed with whipped cream.  Both were yummy.

There was a little discussion about eating them on Saturday, when Ameranth's birthday was not until Sunday, but I told them I wasn't waiting until then to have a piece, so start singing.  Neither wanted the song, so I got ready to cut the cake. What an uproar!  No candles???! Alright already. Sheesh.
                             I sang to them anyway.

And then nearly caused another riot when I unthinkingly went to put out the candles. Hey there! Step away from the cakes, we'll do the blowing out around here!

And here's Ameranth modeling her present.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A chip off the old Crazy

I overslept this morning-went back to sleep after my alarm went off and got up 20 minutes late.  Slammed through breakfast and complained to Ameranth that I don't rush well in the morning. Says she: "I don't spend time well in the morning. If I get up early, I'm going to be late."

Gotta go.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sunday Sunset

This came much too early, but it was pretty.

And speaking of too early, it's 3:45 AM and I am off to work in five minutes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up

Well, I lived through the training week, although you can't convince my feet of that. I knew I was out of shape and yes, a lot of few pounds had crept onto my frame but my feet think I must weigh 500 pounds! (Which is not the case)

I did pass my skill check on the first try, but I am slooooow compared to the 20-something boys in our group. Okay, so I would be slower than 20-somethings  doing anything, except maybe dialing a telephone or spelling, but I feel old.

And short. I realized this week that I have mostly functioned in a world where I am not significantly shorter than others around me, but that is not true anymore and I don't like it.  When I was working full-time, it was mostly with other women, and the ones I worked closely with happened to be either my height (5'5") or shorter.  J is 5'7 5'8, so we're pretty close to even too. Both sons are close to 6 feet, but they don't live here anymore. This week, I was surrounded by tall(er) people and I didn't like it. Just sayin'.

We could only work 4 hours on the warehouse floor this week, 6 hours next week, then full time. It's called work hardening.  The dogs have not been happy with being put outside at 4 am and have made that abundantly clear when Ameranth got home around 10. (Since she was a rehire, she only worked 4 hours- I had the actual picking as well as training time) Little do they know that later they will be outside until 1:30 and have to wait for their dinner until then. Ameranth pointed out that this is their work hardening period as well.

 I am so looking forward to sleeping as late as I want to tomorrow, then we get an extra hour on Sunday, thanks to Daylight Savings Time. Or is Daylight Savings Time that is ending now, and we are on Standard Time? I could Google that, but I really don't care.  I will however turn the clock back to Halloween for another cute picture of Ladyslipper.

Ok, so it's two pictures but I had to have her face in one!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The front steps have color!

Finally, I have stained the steps! One set anyway.  After more than a year of naked wood, the front of the house looks finished. Actually we had to wait for the pressure treated wood to age, so the procrastination is not as bad as it may seem.

I got out of training early today, as we were up to actually picking orders and there was not enough work to go around. It was sunny, and the temperature was 43 at noontime, so it was warm enough to stain. Barely. Today is probably the last chance I had to get this done so I am happy, but it took soooo long to do. Because we wanted two colors, and I already have roses on the darn trellis.

So here is the finished product. Ta da!

The door will some day be green as well. Some day.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Photos of a cutie

Ms M visited Shoeshine while he had Ladyslipper for the weekend and got some wonderful photos. At least we think so!
I'm sure he appreciated Ms M's support for this first solo visit!

Hmm. I saw J walking outside a bit ago, and figured he was feeding hens or such. I just now saw him again, carrying a long silver tube, and leaning forward to look further, I saw his iron wheels now have an axle.  I fear he is making a cannon.

 For show only, I am sure.