Monthly Archives: December 2013

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Christmas Past and Present

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Life is changing and for the first time I am planning to send out limited cards and no Christmas letter. I say plan because knowing me I could well change my mind. I find a lot of comfort in doing … Continue reading

Back to Normal…Sort of

Well, after a wonderful week in the sunshine, I’m having trouble getting back into my normal schedule. (Hence the late blog today). Hubby and I wanted some warmth and sunshine, so we headed to the Caribbean on a cruise for a week. We did a southern route, so visited Curacao and Aruba.

Curacao, especially, was interesting. We visited these bat caves and it was 1) claustrophobic, and 2) freaking me out with all these fruit bats flying around. It was pretty cool at the same time, seeing all the rock formations and stalactites (hanging from ceiling) and stalagmites (forming from the floor up). The romance author in me loved that when these two formations were reaching for each other, they called them “engaged”, but when they met and intertwined, they were “married”. 🙂

We also got to taste some authentic Curacao liquor, which was quite good, especially the Rum Raisin flavor. Yum!

Honestly, though, what we did is relaxed. I spent more time than ever before laying beside the pool on board reading. Got through more than 5 books, reading for pleasure. So it was a relaxing and fun week for us.

Then Saturday, we left Ft. Lauderdale in 80 degree weather and arrived home that night to ten degree weather. Our coats were in the car, so we shivered, along with all the Mexico and Palm Springs returnees, while waiting for the shuttle. Brrrr.

Now we’re home and I’m back to a busy schedule. But the relaxing worked. I’m plugging away at things with a smile on my face. 🙂

How about you? When’s the last time you took a vacation and truly relaxed? And where did you go? (I’m looking for future relaxing trip ideas.)
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RHUBARB BREAD

chefpicI had this at a neighborhood coffee last month and loved it. And for the first time I have a rhubarb plant in my yard so will have some readily available.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups brown sugar
2/3 cup liquid shortening
1 egg
1 cup sour milk
1 tsp. baking soda
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1½ cups diced rhubarb
½ cups nuts
½ tsp. vanilla
Topping:
1 Tbs. butter
½ cup sugar

Method:
Oil bottoms of two loaf pans. Blend sugar, shortening and egg. Add sour milk, soda, flour and salt and mix. Mix in rhubarb, nuts and vanilla and turn into greased loaf pans. Blend topping ingredients and sprinkle over top of dough, pressing lightly into batter. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes before removing.

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Black Friday – A Truly Brilliant Invention

Have you noticed how Black Friday, the shopping day right after Thanksgiving Thursday, has crept up on Thanksgiving Day, jumped on it, and gobbled it up like a well-done turkey set upon by a pack of hungry wolves? A few … Continue reading

Cali- The Office Kitty

I’m not sure if I told you all about the cat who came to work – We had this precious little kitty show up over a year ago and make herself at home here. We’re quite sure she has a real family because she’s always warm, dry and clean and has clearly been fixed as there have been no kittens. I think they work all day and aren’t home when we’re at the office. She comes in and usually hangs out in my office in one of the client chairs. We’ve had to physically move her when the paying folks want to come in.

When she first came around, the legal secretary and I named her Cali for Calico and the paralegal said, “Don’t name it. If you name it, you own it.” Now, she is one of the cat’s biggest fans- she even pulled a blanket and pillow out of her car and put it in a sheltered place when it was cold last weekend in case the cat got stuck outside.

Cali has brought us joy and even the clients know her name. I’ll never forget the day my one client asked, “Can I let Cali in, she’s outside the door?”

Did you know that almost all calico cats are female? They are. Isn’t that cool?

I have pics of her here. She’s in my basket where I toss cases to go to the storage shed, on one of my client chairs and under a tree. If you can’t tell, my office is in a mixed-use area. Light commercial (offices) and residential. Makes for fun neighbors!

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The Wonder of Woolies

As 2013 rapidly edges to a close I’m reminded that in the Spring of 2014 I shall reach a milestone birthday and able to have a bus pass. Whilst I will also no longer have to pay for my medications I need to take that have enabled me to reach this grand old age, I am not able to collect my state pension yet, thanks to our wonderful government changing the goalposts on retirement, and I must wait another 5 years before I receive any payments. I am normally a calm and forgiving person but this has really angered me for the simple reason I have been paying into the system since I first started full-time work at the age of 15, and have been working in one job or another ever since. Even more annoying is the fact that had I been born just one day earlier, I would have been okay, but no, it seems I am to be “robbed” of 5 years entitlement thanks to the cut-off date the government has imposed. One flaming day! Okay, rant over, that’s not what this post is about.  Let’s get on to the real thing.

No, what I really was reminded of was my very first proper “paid” job all those years ago. When I was 14, I started a Saturday job as a Woolie’s girl, working in our local Woolworth’s store in Hounslow (for our overseas readers Hounslow is where Heathrow Airport is located). I was still at school so by law could only be employed for a few hours a week but those hours on a Saturday afternoon suited well. It meant I could still go to my dancing classes in the morning and after, walk the 2 miles to the High Street and then be on my feet serving all afternoon before walking home.

Hounslow Woolworth just before it closed down

Hounslow Woolworth just before it closed down in 2008

The store was huge, at the time boasted the largest glass frontage shop in the country (whether this meant the largest Woolie’s or not, I’m not sure) but there were many entrances at the front, and two from the rear for its customers. It was also one of the few in the country at the time to have a customer cafe. The facade had been modernized several times since.

As a teenage in the 1960s, you can imagine the counter I wanted to work on was the most popular: make-up, with its stock of Minors, Rimmel, Max Factor, Coty (which was manufactured locally) etc,  beautiful powder compacts and everything a teenager in London during the Swinging Sixties would want to wear. Other popular counters were the records, and the sweet stand. This was the time of the good old days when each counter (actually a stand of four in a square) had at least one assistant and a till (cash register) – no hunting around and queuing at the Pay Here point as we have today in most big stores. 

Typical store layout at the time

Typical store layout at the time

But no, I was given the hardware counter at the back of the store, along with the furniture stand and the lampshade counter. Big sigh of disappointment as there I was, selling rubber things that fitted over taps to stop them splashing, potato peelers and bean cutters and other kitchen implements, cutlery, washers, plugs, chains – you get the idea. The furniture stand had chairs and stools, rugs, bookshelves and small tables; and the lampshades, well, lampshades and lightbulbs. Most of my time with these latter stands I was running up and down the stairs and occasionally using the lift (hate lifts since once becoming stuck in one) fetching stock as the display items and furniture couldn’t be sold and there was no space to store anything on the shop floor. I enjoyed the work, the staff friendly, and I was never bored.

One day, to my utter delight, I was asked if I minded manning the record counter. Did I mind? I didn’t need asking twice but it was nearly my undoing. You can imagine the joy of this young, vibrant teenager being allowed to play records all afternoon, have plenty of fellow teens gathered around me, chatting, especially the boys. At the time, my favourite record was Goin’ Up the Country by Canned Heat, and I am afraid I played it over and over and over again. I can’t remember how long it was before the manager came over and told me that if he heard that record one more time that afternoon, I would be sacked! I didn’t and I wasn’t. I still love that song and still play it often.

Catch the song  here:

I left Woolworth’s when I left school the following year and took up my first full time job working at Heathrow Airport, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Woolie’s girl in my green nylon overall. It helped me get over my nerves of talking to people, it helped with my maths as I was never good at it at school and back then, tills didn’t work out the change for you or do the adding up – you had to work it all out for yourself. It was also good training for going out into the “real” world of work and becoming a responsible adult.  

What was your first proper job? Do tell.