Sunday, January 28, 2018


Yesterday, Magnum, Meego, and I went on a little field trip to the local  Asian Pacific Market.  We weren't really looking to buy anything pacific... erm... specific, but we'd never been and wanted to check it out and had nothing else going on.

As expected, there was lots of stuff.  In addition to Asian foods and sauces and other accompaniments, there was a lot of cooking equipment - rice cookers, knives, woks, woks, and more woks, etc.  It was a fun little excursion.  I managed to not buy a cute little tea set, but we did we did get a lot of noodles to try along with a bag of dried squid... because squid jerky!

While there, I walked along the fresh fish area - several piles of recently dead fish varieties - and some live crabs in a tank, awaiting their demise.  There was a bed of ice advertising blue crab, but nothing left save for a few small blue legs that got left behind.  This week's prompt at Illustration Friday is "blue", so to honor the dead...

Speaking of Meego and fish, he's managed to land a sweet TA job at school this semester.  Seniors and some Juniors who have enough required credits completed can sign up to be TA's for half credit per semester.  Typically, they get tedious assignments that the teacher doesn't want to do - filing, etc.

This semester, Meego got matched with one of the science teachers, but she seems like more of a mini zookeeper.  Her classroom is literally crawling with all kinds of things and also includes a large saltwater fish tank  as well as a few freshwater tanks.  Meego showed me a video he made while walking around the room. I wonder where the teacher finds the time to teach school AND take care of all her fish and reptiles. Good thing for TAs.

Readers here might recall that my aquarium underwent an apocalyptic event a while back.  I'd  had a thriving community tank with happy fish, snails, and plants when one fateful day, I brought home three supposedly community-tank-friendly fish.  Everything but the three "friendlies" died within a couple of weeks.  Now I'm down to the last of the evil fish, who lives alone in the otherwise dead tank.  We wait. 

Meego told us that the science teacher/zookeeper has a separate tank where she puts "mean fish". 

"Ah", I realized, "I should have had one of those"

"We have one", Magnum reminded me, "It's called a toilet".

Coulda shoulda woulda.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

we bought a condo

We've been thinking about it for a while, but hadn't gotten around to actually doing anything about it.  So finally today, we put down the cash and bought us a condo.

Well, not really "us", it's for whats-his-face.  The cat.

Nothing ridiculous, only a basic thing to climb on and scratch and lay around on while peering out the window.  My online shopping showed me that one can really get ridiculous with the cat condo.
Fur example:

So no.  We're not doing anything like these.  He's getting this igloo type thing:

The advertisement photo shows it with a teeny cat, to make the condo look bigger than it actually is, I guess. Still, it's got a cozy bed, a private room, soft sides...

I want one for me.


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
2. Write about your most recent purchase.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

stuff I've learned at school

I've been at my school cooking job for two weeks now, and I think I'm pretty much up to speed.  Our manager was out sick with the flu on Thursday afternoon and all day Friday, and the kitchen ran like a well-oiled machine, so I guess that's a good sign.  Of our crew of eight, there are actually four of us who are relative newbies thanks to a recent shake-up.  Other than me, however, the new people are part-timers.

Here are some of the things I've learned from being in the school kitchen:
  • The recent turnover was partially the result of an employee who "had issues".  An example was when, during a school fire drill, he frustratingly announced, "This is a f***ing waste of time!"

Lesson:  (1) Monthly fire drills are a fact of life in a public school, and (2) Saying "f***ing" in a public school is heavily frowned  upon.


  • Giant whisks actually exist! 

Lesson:  When making soup for eight elementary schools, it's best to speak softly and carry a huge whisk.

  • Kids must include a protein, a grain, and a fruit or vegetable to have their meal count as government funded lunch
Lesson:  Tater tots count as a vegetable (really?)

    Poll:  would you eat it?
  • Our current kitchen manager is retiring after this school year, and her job is up for grabs.  Two of my coworkers are vying for the position.  In my opinion, they are both equally qualified for the job, but have different skill sets and management styles.

Lesson:  (1) I'm not going to vie for the job, and (2) I'm glad I don't have to be the one to decide who gets the job.

But I do have one question at this point:

Why are chef coats WHITE?

Maybe I'll learn the answer someday.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


This week's prompt at Illustration Friday is The Number 5.  Hmmm.  Okay, so here's my answer.  Get it?  Do the math...

This was a rather busy week, so it's nice to sit and doodle a bit.  It's a busy time of year for P.E.O. and it's all good, plus I'm enjoying the new full-time job.  I wouldn't mind another couple of hours each day.  Can we increase the 24-hour standard to 26 or so?

Yesterday I went to get my allergy shots, and there was a kid in the waiting area that I had as a student last semester.  Darn if I could remember his name!  And he wasn't one of the under-the-radar kids, but he was actually one of the silly but enjoyable kids I bantered with regularly.

But I saw him sitting there when I walked in and could NOT remember  his name.  I sat down and opened my kindle and pretended to read while I went through the alphabet about five times trying to jog my memory.

Eventually, the injector called my name and I had to get up and walk passed the mystery kid.  When I emerged, I just said a hopefully face-saving greeting, "Hey, I know you!"

We had a little chatty chat.  I asked him if he was getting allergy shots too, but he was actually there with his mom - a new old person!  She just started her shots and mystery boy was driving her around amassing hours toward his driver's license.  I now remember his mom's name and probably will for all eternity.

Monday, January 15, 2018

the reveal

I didn't really expect anyone to find Waldo *er*  Meego and the Panda.  But since there was sort of interest...

Sunday, January 14, 2018


I once tried to learn to play the guitar.  Nothing formal, I had a cheapo guitar and a book and a video (days before YouTube).

I learned a few chords, but eventually threw in the towel because I wasn't willing to put in the time to get good.  I appreciate that people who play the guitar well can manipulate their fingers the way they do.  It was a struggle for me.

This week's prompt at Illustration Friday is "guitar", and I'm remembering my inflexible and uncoordinated fingers.

Wolfgang and Meego can both play guitar, so I really can't blame my fingers, though.  Neither of them has exceptionally big hands or long fingers.  Maybe I should give it another try.  Or start with a ukulele.

Speaking of music, we went to a high school basketball game this week.  Meego plays bass guitar in the pep band, and they always get the crowd good and peppy.  This particular game pitted Meego's school against the school I'd worked at last semester, so I knew several of the players from the visiting team as well as a couple of coaches.

Major bonus for anyone who can spot Meego, who is not  holding a bass, but rather eating Panda Express...

I thought I might feel some loyalty to the visiting team, because I like the kids/players and knew the coaches quite well and liked them too.  But  nope.

It was a close game, and I found myself really hoping for a home team win, and I don't even know ANY of those players.

But I know the band.  And thanks to them, of course, the home team got a win.

After the final buzzer, I recognized the entire security team from the visiting team as well as some administrators on the floor.  There to curtail any rivalry activity, I suppose.

Magnum asked if I was going to say "Hi" to any of them.

I didn't.  We're still in the awkward post-breakup window.

And the hometeam won.  Nanny nanny poo poo.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

the late starters

Have you seen them?  The Resolutionists? 

It happens every year at the beginning.  All these new faces "out there" - running, going to the gym, power walking...  But, strangely, I didn't notice ANYone.  I'd even avoided the gym the first few days of the year, assuming it would be teeming with newbies for a while.  Then one day during that first week, I forgot and went on in.

And it was... less crowded than usual?  Plenty of room to move around, plenty of available equipment, what was up?  I thought maybe it was the time of day I was there - late afternoon - which isn't peak hours.

But I asked Wolfgang, who goes in the evenings which are peak hours, and he said the same thing.  Not only was it not crowded, it was actually less crowded than usual.  We were flummoxed.

HOWEVER, it seems they are just late.  This week has brought a noticeable increase in unfamiliar faces, both at the gym and on the walking/running paths.  Better late than never, I suppose.  But every year, the same thing happens. The increase in traffic lasts a couple of weeks, and afterwards, it's like it never happened.  Will that be the case again this year? 

More power to 'em, I say.  For the people who decide to take up running or walking or bicycling or some other outdoor activities, this is actually the worst time of year to start in North America.  Maybe that's a reason why the numbers drop off so quickly. 

I didn't make any resolutions - well, other than the one I make every year to cook better - as in healthy and balanced - meals. I'm doing okay.  We'll see where I am in a couple of weeks.  Frozen pizza, anyone?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

"A" is for apron

So it turns out, I enjoy cooking.  Who knew?  Probably not the family 😕

I started the new job last week, and so far, I really like it.  I'm not quite ready to say "I love you" just yet...

I left my job as a study hall overseer that, frankly, was for me, like watching paint dry.  The school district food service provider had openings, so I signed on.  We discussed my background and blah, blah, blah, and I'm on track for a supervisor position.

The original plan was for me to hop around to various sites and eventually land somewhere, but the boss lady called a couple of days before the kids went back to school and asked if I'd take a position at one of the base kitchens.  Of all the sites they manage, there were four I was mainly interested in.  This school was at the top of my list, so I said, "Yeah, okay."

I wasn't really looking forward to the vagabond life anyways.

So I'm there and it's creative, and fast-paced, and highly productive, and with a fun bunch of coworkers.  The crew is mostly made up of others like me - moms who'd had some career that they'd left to raise the kids.  Now we feed about a thousand of 'em.

Plus, being a base kitchen, we cook a buncha stuff for the elementary schools too and ship it out.  My professional background is in manufacturing, and there are a lot of similarities.

And I'll say that school lunch is a lot different than from when I was a school kid.  All the choices! And the food is appetizing!  It's like a freaking food court!

Now they get the grill, the "fiesta bar" (Mexican), the "upper crust" (Pizzas), the build-your-own subs, and the daily special.  There's hot breakfast too.  Sheesh.

When I was a schoolkid, all the way through high school, we had two choices:  tray or no tray.

For Illustration Friday, the prompt this week is "The letter A".  I wonder if we're going to work through the whole alphabet.  Should I study up for "X"?

Thursday, January 4, 2018


Last year, around this time, I was glad to be finished with grad school and wondering what the future held.  I was updating the resume' and perusing job sites, updating the Linkedin account...

I'm now into my second job since then.  I've learned that I should take a job where I can say, "I would enjoy doing that" rather than, "I can put up with that for a year".

In all, it's been a good year of, at least, thinking about and discovering possibilities.  During the process, I read plenty of articles that pertain to me and the job search.

"Soft skills" are valuable assets for job seekers and something someone like me - whose been out of full-time work for quite a while - can play up.

One soft skill I'd say I'm pretty good with is being attentive to people.  I've mentioned here before how my name is often mispronounced.  My last name is Barker, and for some reason, people don't see that first "R" and I'm referred to as "Baker".  Like nine times out of ten! Even from people that kinda know me!  Any stranger who reads my name and says it correctly the first time gets automatic points from me.

Since it's been happening for as long as I've been married, I think I try harder than the average bear to get people's names correct.

And since I do have that Linkedin account, they send me articles and links meant to be helpful for such things.  They often try to get me to sign up for classes they offer, and this week another such offer was in the email.  It was addressed to me, but...

Who is Steve??

Maybe the Linkedin autobot needs to work on its soft skills.

At least it didn't call me "Baker".

Linking up with Mama Kat this week for the prompt:
6. What were you blogging about a year ago? What has changed since then?

Monday, January 1, 2018

out with the old (ladies)

Happy New Year!  A lot of hype around turning a page on the calendar, but there ya go! Now we get used to writing/typing 8s instead of 7s. 

I managed to get a race in this morning by doing the annual New Year's Day Rescue Run.  I hadn't done this race in a few years, so it was fun to go freeze my buns and do it this morning.  It's a 10K through the HILLS of Palmer Park.  There was also a 5K, but I get better bang for the buck and do the 10K.

It was a fun time of it, a bit of a cold start, but sunny and calm.  The tagline for the race is "Rain, Snow, or 20 Below", so we were well within the limitations.  Proceeds benefit the local county search and rescue.  As usual, my goal for the race was to not put the search and rescue to work for my sake.

The first mile of the race is all uphill, and it sucks, to put it vaguely.  But then we run around the top of Palmer Park looking at gorgeous views of the city and surrounding mountains and it seems the perfect way to start the year. 

I ended up with a time of 50:57, finishing 85th overall, 12th among the females, and first for my age division.  Two ladies in the age division OLDER than me beat me. 

But I know of them, and I've eaten much of their dust before.  In fact, both of them beat the previous record for their age group!

So it was fun and chilly, but not real slippery as in previous years.  We are hurting for snow around here.

So a new year begins.  I left my high school job at the end of last semester, and I feel relieved that I won't be going back to work there tomorrow.  I did enjoy the kids, however.  In fact, I had a total of 250 kids in my rosters, and I can honestly say that there were none who I disliked.  Some just kept a very low profile, and many I truly enjoyed having in the classroom, but none who I disliked. 

I'll mostly miss lunchtime, though.  Those teachers made for good lunch companions.  Maybe I can go back just for lunch?

The district sent me an online exit survey.  At first glance, it didn't look like much, but once I got started, it contained good questions and I feel good about my answers and reasons for leaving.  It was mostly the ol' "It's not you, it's me" story plus the "I got a  better job" story.

So, Happy 2018!  Looking forward to more blog reading in the new year!