Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mostly I do NOT want to talk about yesterday

Seriously. Okay, in truth there is only one part of yesterday that sucked, and sucked deeply, painfully. Suffice it to say that I was cavalier about the universe's goodwill toward me, too hopeful. The universe laughed at me and charged me a few hundred dollars that I do not, repeat do not have for such things. That money was for for things like, I don't know, groceries, gas for the cars. You know, the luxuries in life.

Anyway. Yesterday was my first day doing independent contract work at Stars 'r Us (I signed a confidentiality waiver, which doesn't mean I can't name but still). Apparently agent types come in later in the day so the place is mostly quiet and not very populated in the mornings which is cool. I'm filling out my paperwork and Iris (not her name, but close. Keep guessing, go ahead) hands me back my driver's license. I decide to just throw in the rear pocket of my shoulder bag. As I reach in I feel something soft and fabric like. Hm, I wonder, what is that... Oh my so tacky. It's my underwear from spending the night at Jennie's last week! Wow, it's like back in my youth when I never knew where I'd be sleeping, when I'd need fresh underwear and carried all sorts of things with me. However back in those days I cleaned my bag more frequently so I would not have had a pair of underwear from a week before sitting in there funking it up. Ugh.

Watching the few people talking, seeing folks at their desks there was a part of me that thought maybe I should just get myself a cute little office job that paid my bills and give up this scheme of incurring debt, creating nightmares of perfectionism which is hindering my schooling, and becoming a therapist. It's still under debate. I promise to inform y'all if I drop out of school. (I can hear TGF and Sunny saying, each in their own way, "Hell no!")

The work itself is pretty simple though it has it's oddball moments which I'm sure I'll learn quick enough. Yesterday was just about 4 hours but I should have a full day on Monday. The special project that ate most of those hours on Friday was very speedy, for me. Apparently I did about twice the data entry as someone else in a similar time span. It seems clear that if I can figure out to work that micro MP3 player that TGF gifted me with I can slowly catch up on Brenda's podcasts which are so enjoyable while I work. I've listened to three or four and there are over forty of them. Since there is no way I can knit and do data entry at the same time (unless I can learn to type and mouse with my toes!) the podcast is as close as I can come to earning money and indulging my fiber habit.

In the meantime I continue to haunt the halls of craigslist for more lucrative options. In other cool beans sorta news, TGF has decided to go with the name I came up with for her business. When the website is up (it will be small so don't get too excited) I'll link it here. Looks like she likes the colour scheme I thought of too. Yep, I'm feeling pretty proud of myself about this. Oh, I sent out an ad to lure in, er, I mean, um cajole, or uh, attract clients. Yeah draw folks in to hire me for postpartum doula work. Got one bite but it's for August. Well it's a start.

Okay back to knitting Secret Blue Project.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Apparently ranting creates change in the Universe

So that job listing TGF found in a section I never, ever look at on craigslist?
I got it.
In fact rather than starting Monday the one day a week that I will be working usually, they have extra work so I start tomorrow.
The job that requires the least amount of my skills, that I get.

- Is the Universe is trying to tell me to aim lower so I can focus more on school?
- Or is it that being honest and telling potential employees that I have an academic commitment in June for six days and a long stretch away in late August isn't doing me- any favours?
- Or it is that the Universe knows I have the attention span of a flea and shouldn't be trusted with a real job?

Seriously the only I need for this job is to be able to type - straight data entry. After taxes based of four days a month this will pay a small cell phone bill (we never, ever use our minutes or text or anything with the damn things) and pay for beasts of Casa de Cedar to eat. Not us mind you, but at least our babies will continue to be well fed.

The good part:
- I don't have to worry if I need to quit because I get a better job
- It is in Emeryville, so if I can learn to work the gears of my bike (I've never ridden anything but an ancient 3-speed Schwinn, and that was a thousand years ago!) I don't even need my car
- It will take very little brain power
- I don't have to wear nylons or anything hideous

Now I have to come up with a good nom de plume for the place....

Feeling a bit beaten and defeated, but there is still hope. Right?

This is a post where I mostly complain, wildly, about being unemployed. Consider yourself warned.

As you may have deduced, my fair reader, though I plug away and even get interviews there has not been an offer of a job no matter how mundane or measly. Where did we last leave off.... There was the two part interview for Casa de Vida in Oakland, a transitional program for folks with a lot of time in the mental health maze. Received my "thank you but no and by the way if you want relief work" letter while Sunny was here.

Then there was the absolutely lovely interview at Title Nine. No really, it was great. I really thought I had a solid chance there and beside they have a gym on site, she says longingly. Not even a quick email from Anne. I finally wrote her a witty one where I said it was lovely to meet her and blah, blah, blah.

Last Monday I had an interview with Family Stress. It seems like a fabulous agency and I really enjoyed the woman who interviewed me. I can't say it was a fun interview but I appreciated her quick and discerning manner. The entire time I was thinking, "She'd be a hard but fantastic supervisor." I interviewed for two positions, the one I said would kill me but pay my bills that I knew about, plus another one with few hours and thus doable but bills would still be a problem. The upside to few hours one would be the ability to plug in other work. In today's mail came a letter {sigh} however she did say that she was sending my resume onto human resources as she thinks I have a lot to offer the agency. The job on Treasure Island (no useful public transportation) with Swords to Plowshares was a job I could do in my sleep. Seriously. Not one word since last Tuesday. The silence is deafening, you know?

Monday I interviewed at This Little Piggy Wears Cotton. Adorable clothing. Lousy pay. Close enough I could walk. All doable. But the stuff there? Really, shop there even if they don't have the sense to hire me.

This morning TGF forwards me a listing from craigslist that was under Gigs/Computer, a place I never look and she for obvious reasons does. One day a week, data entry. I whip off a clever little email joking about needing some funds while racking up scads of loan debt but forget to attach a resume. For some reason I thought they didn't want one. Luckily immediately after sending the email I check the ad again. In a classic V-8 le duh moment, I shoot off another email with a resume. Within 30 minutes they call! So I am marching down for another interview at 2:00 today.

Almost everyday I send at least one application somewhere in the vast universe of employment. Hell I sent one to a job in Palo Alto (about 35 miles which means an hour of driving)- talk about inconvenient location! But at this point I figure the net has to be the size of a small nation to land a job.

Can I just say it burns my butt big time to see the House o' Sperm advertising for the position I interviewed for back in November? Seriously they have been running the ad for awhile now. They coulda had me! I have some background in the position, personal as well as professional, but nooooooo. Apparently no one wants to, or can make HoS believe they will commit to two years - for a freaking part-time job in an unstable market.

Okay, enough ranting because seriously I could go on about the places I see advertising that either never called me or didn't hire me. Alright there really are very few, but any at all make steam come out of my ears.

The positives right now are TGF and I are talking about hard stuff without fighting about it. What hard stuff you ask, you nosy bumpkin you? Money, or rather the alarming lack of it with little prospect of getting any. About that we are a bit of out of sync. Hm, could the aforementioned mind numbing job searches and bill pile have anything to that? Naw.

This week I have worked out , albeit briefly, every morning. I have a bit of a routine going. And school? I turned in one of the six overdue papers on Sunday. It's a piece of rot gut and I sort of warned the professor so I won't be surprised if he sends it back for more work but I hit the freaking send button. The last three days I have actually spent 2-3 hours each day on school work. Actually reading chapters, organizing my work, reading my online discussions, piping in here and there.

Twice in the last 5 days or so I actually cooked. I mean something other than making boxed mac & cheese, or throwing a frozen pizza in the oven. Really chopping veggies and everything. Two dishes from Moosewood Cooks at Home, one of my favorite cookbooks, ever. Cauliflower Paprikash one night, and Fragrant Noodles (with my own crispy tofu) the other. The first dish I've made before and TGF likes this one so that was easy. The other, let's just say I'm enjoying the leftovers.

Oh and I've been trying to knit, at least a little at night. One of these years I will finish the secret project. It's lovely, easy and not that huge but it's a bit endless at least for me right now. After a lot of fidgeting I have T'Mane's Swing Top started and it's looking decent so far but I only done about 2 inches of it.

So that's most of the news from Casa de Cedar where all the animals are good looking and above average.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Creating a creative process

Recently I read a post by Elspeth (who shares a name with a beloved great aunt whom I miss a great deal) on her knitting process. Her step one is much like mine - Oh my that's beautiful....but would kill me to do that much garter stitch, or would look horrendous on me, or more likely, that would be perfect to make for so and so.

Unlike her, I do buy yarn just because it's pretty, a good deal, or it tells me to. Having a stash does come in handy for small projects (like Calorimetry). She claims it makes her more productive to buy specifically and not randomly so perhaps I should take a cue from her. Reading the pattern intensely, and scrupulously as she suggests makes lovely sense but I am often attempting something new so it is hard to visualize some of the directions. This results in a more zen approach of being in the moment with the pattern and letting it show me w
ant happens as I go through the steps of the pattern. Zen, yea, well it sounds good doesn't it?

I'm with her about the mis en place, which I do with my cooking frequently. In fact in preparing for Sunny's introduction to (our) society party I incorporated that technique since I was making nut-mushroom pate, a Waldorf salad, chickpea curry (in which I cooked the beans myself as well, thank you very much!), lemon rice, and pistachios macaroons. The curry and rice dishes each had a huge list of ingredients, here are a few of them. Where was I? Oh yes, my other creative outlet, knitting. I do like the idea of photocopying the pattern and I do this some of the time, other times carrying around a magazine permanently primed to open to a specific page, gradually looking more tattered and worn.

It is rare that I am making a pattern that has raged like a wildfire through the blog world - I am not sure why that it, perhaps it that I choose very basic patterns from the tabloid version of knitting magazines, though I am readying to step up to Interweave-level patterns. Elspeth's "just the facts ma'am" section is completely baffling to me, leaving once again alone on this island of the neophyte knitter.

Knitters all have drilled into their heads to swatch or test their gauge. It is rare that do this because for most of my patterns it hasn't mattered much however that will change in time. I do swatch, don't get me wrong. Especially for Tigger and Kimono, I definitely tested things out first. The current pattern I am making for her resulted in quite the math project (another post).

I definitely ponder long and hard. When I decided to make a sweater for T'Mane (The Most Adorable Niece Ever), I spent hours pouring over patterns, taking into consideration I had only made the Baby Sweater from Hell as practice (E. Zimmerman baby surprise sweater pattern here's a link to a nice photo of someone else's knitting) and thought such items beyond me.'s pattern of Tigger was a great find, though I obsessed endlessly, asked silly questions of myself and others before and during the process. Sunny's socks were another endless search and ponder mission. I created a stumbling block of being convinced that I could never make a "real" pair of socks. Foolish now, of course as I ponder more socks in my near future (there is gorgeous Trekking XXL ball sitting in my stash).

Apparently this a huge part of my process, decide on an item for a specific person and ponder endless on the patterns and yarns (which usually require a purchase because in truth my stash is not that big (yet). My secret project (which is underway) was another example of knowing the type of item I wanted to make for my friend and in my mind's eye I visualized the colour palette I wanted. I found the pattern before I found the yarn in this case. Hours were spent looking at yarns over the internet and in person. I found the yarn spoke to me the most but when it arrived it looked nothing like the image. Every time I work on the project I say "thank you" to Deb of Fearless Fibers who had the perfect yarn. I am in the middle of such a journey for another friend. I know the item I want to make but have no idea of exactly the pattern or the colourway I will ultimately choose.

It seems clear that my process could use some fine tuning. Even though I am a beginning knitter, without much skill, I dream of designing things. Recently I found Nicky Epstein's Knitting on the Edge for about 30% and I can see using it to begin to create my own designs. Knowing me, I will start small, too small which means I'll be about 80 before I actually design anything more than a hat or scarf but life is a journey not a destination.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Scents of the Past

My dear friend Jennie decided to treat herself to an expedition for a GLBT Knit Camp (okay, non-fiber folks, please stop laughing before reading on). This meant arranging for care for her son, The G-man. Since she was leaving at the butt crack of dawn (TM by GadgetGrrl), she needed someone to spend the night on Wednesday in order to take G-man to school Thursday morning.

Jennie put G-man to bed. We chatted (haven't done that in person in FOREVER!) while she finished packing and I perused some issues of Vogue Knitting. She declared it bedtime and I headed to her bedroom to slumber on her new bed. The bed is supremely comfortable but I had a hard time letting go enough to sleep so I propped myself up with my knitting (I have casted on for T'Mane's Summer Swing Top) and listened to Will & Grace on the television. At about midnight I decided I really had to attempt to sleep, trying to dispel thoughts of undone school work and the oddness of sleeping without TGF next to me.

At about 2am The G-man came a bit teary looking for his mom so I told him she was in the living room. Around 4am I heard Jennie up and about, clearly tending to last minute thoughts we all have before traveling.

Concerned about waking up in time for getting The G-Man I tossed and turned more, checking the time frequently. I had set my mobile phone for an alarm but evidently did not finish it however great luck Jennie's alarm was set and woke me in plenty of time. Love that "slumber" button! Just after 7am The G-Man stumbled in, looking awful sleepy so I reached my arms out toward him and he came up on the bed and we cuddled for a bit. For a brief moment he got a little weepy, stating he missed his mother. I told him I knew that he did but he was going to be so busy and have so much to tell her when she got home. Reminded him that he was going to have a great time with his godmothers. The moment passed.

In between getting dressed, brushing teeth, and eating cereal we played three rounds of "Don't Break the Ice" a present from his recent seventh birthday. (Okay how did he get to be SEVEN! I remember so clearly meeting them in May 2001 when he was 13 months, yes months, old.) Finally it was time to take him to school. We chatted about directions and I quizzed him about how ever would I get there if I didn't have directions.

I parked just behind another woman dropping off a child. Before departing I asked him if he wanted me to walk him in or not, because frankly I did not know what the appropriate protocol. We walked in silence and just as we passed into the center courtyard the bell rang. Children began racing to form lines assigned by classroom in the yard. Immediately I flashed on doing this though in later grades at P.S. 29 in Brooklyn NY. The G-man is in first grade but I have few memories from that time period so I don't know if I too lined up in the school yard to be marched to the classroom by an assistant teacher way back then. What I do remember from that grade is having two teachers, or perhaps a teacher and her assistant. The other big recollection from that grade is various adults being concerned at my reading skills, or lack thereof. A few years later, in fifth grade, they told me I read at a twelfth grade level, so obviously any concern was for naught.

After leaving The G-man fidgeting on his line I headed back to the car but before ducking out completely I peeked into his classroom and was filled with sense memories of being that young though I have little recall of that time. The room was so orderly, each desk had sitting atop a hard plastic case which I suspect held pens and pencils. Remember the days of little soft plastic cases that you were responsible for bringing each day? Just past the door was the little closet are for hanging coats and jackets, each hook marked with a student's name. I tried to remember if my school room cubbies were so organized. At the front of the room was a carpeted area that I suppose is used to "story time". I racked my brain to see if I could conjure an image of my first grade classroom. I am pretty certain I had no such accommodations. In fact in sixth grade my English teacher had a deconstructed kind of classroom which included things like bean chairs. Her name was something like Ms. Redman, a little tiny woman, maybe five foot tall married to a blond haired guy who had to six foot if he was an inch.

I think it was the smell that brought back the invisible, though I cannot believe there was much in common with that classroom and the one at P.S. 94 in the Bronx (at least I think that's the school, I just did a search to figure it out). But yet there was a sense of something so elementally familiar that I could feel it in my body, as if transported to a place I cannot bring to mind any other time. I know I was doing Miss Jennie a favor but thanks to her I was moved in an unexpected way which recalled a sweet but still unknowable piece of my past.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Socks! We have socks!

In actuality I don't have socks, not anymore because they were being made for Sunny and she, like Elvis, has left the building. Over a year ago I made these little footed things which incorporated a short row toe and heel. The pattern, Loulou Socks were a nice introduction, though as you can see I had some difficulty with the heel having gaps. I considered these a tester version as I used Cleckheaton's Country yarn (a gift of leftover yarn from Jennie (In a colourway they no longer make, a shame IMO) and I believe size 6 double points. Given the size of the needles, the thickness of yarn, these babies flew off the needles as they say.

Some months later I found a good deal on Regia Surf yarn, a cotton/wool blend for socks in purples that I knew would delight Sunny. But then the fear set in of making "real" socks (thin yarn and size 1 needles!) and the obsession for just the right pattern. A plain stockinette leg was too dull but what could one do with striping yarn that would not be too busy? Months, months I tell you went by before I finally cast on which I did in late February. I did Wendy's figure 8 cast on because I wanted to make toe-up socks but wanted to learn something different from the short row that I had tackled before. The first had to be ripped and restarted but still has an obvious error in the toe. My short row heel was perfect on one side and a little less so on the other leaving me happy enough.

The feather & fan pattern (also from Wendy) of the leg is exceedingly q
uick to knit and was a lovely bit of frill for the sock.

The second sock's toe went much smoother but the heel, oh the heel. Let's just say that there wasn't patience or time for ripping and restarting the heel. Creative weaving helped the sock look a bit less awkward. I did also take care to try to match the striping as closely as possible.

This pair of socks took less than one ball of the Regia so I still have two more complete balls but I don't want to make more socks from this, at least not adult socks, as I over the striping, lovely as it is. I know several young girls (under the age of 7) who would probably love these colours and dang that would be a quick knit, even using size 1 needles.

All in all it was great fun and I am plotting my next pair of socks, in a more subtle colourway (still searching for the right one) as a gift for a friend. I think maybe Pomatomus, Falling Leaves, or maybe Anastasia.

In the meantime I am still trudging through my other secret project which is a lovely knit, I just am not meant to be a monogamous knitter. I have swatched for T'Mane's Summer Swing Top and have been eying my stash for other things to start. Interweave's Clementine in this varigated mystery yarn (I think it's a rayon mix) is calling for swatch. I suspect I have enough of this yarn, but need to measure and weigh to guesstimate, then see if the colours or the pattern get lost when combined.

A related note, I have meant to create a scrapbook using photos of my projects, yarn labels and sample for some time. This weekend, on a splurge I bought a small scrapbook album to start such a project - eventually. I even reorganized my knitting photos my computer. From here I am certain the project will languish in a corner for some time to come but in theory I could begin anytime now!

Late afternoon in the yard (photo heavy)

This morning there was a nice strong rain but as often happens here in the Bay Area is that on rainy days there is still beautiful sunlight at some point in the day.

We have a fair amount of potato vine that has died off but we have quite bit that is full of life. This stray vine is cascading down from the overhead arbor part of our gates, almost hitting me (who is quite short) on the head as I pass through.

We have one lone blueberry plant put in by our blessed landlady o
f perpetual patience (BLPP). Last summer it did better with fewer weeds around it, and this year she's larger with many more blooms but I have doubts about jam.

Here are some of the dozens of native California poppies we have sprouting everywhere. Our yard spaces have a large number of native plants, again put in by BLPP, which is great. As lovely as "foreigners" are there is something nice about having flora that is geared to our seasons of rain and drought.

We also have an abundance of roses, something I have never had before and struggle to keep them well and blooming but yet...

Our garden also has a selection of iris, wild, deep purple bearded and a handful of these lovelies.

Hope you enjoyed this small tour of some of life in our garden space.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

In which our heroine hunts a job

Yet again, or rather still I am searching for work. Ideally it would be great to get something that would give me hours towards licensure but frankly I do not much care at this point. I have not worked in months, since I terminated with Miss Spawn of Satan. Given various issues, like a barely working vehicle, my ability to work for The Agency has been limited.

A week before Sunny arrived I had a very odd initial interview with a gentleman who is clearly embedded in this local agency, he rambled on and on and on. Seriously I was there 1.5 hours. Apparently my responses were on target because I made it to the next level. Two days later I had part deux of the process, going to the house where I would potentially work. This interview was much more focused and quite enjoyable. While Sunny was here I received the "Thank you so much but..." letter. Now I knew when I applied there was a small chance I'd even get a call but it stung nonetheless. The money would have been quite good. I had applied to three positions that day and got one call. Pretty good response right I think.

Monday I spent something like three hours on searching, expanding my range of jobs to outside of those that are directly related to my future career. I applied to six or seven, I couldn't have even tell who, what, where, anything. Amazingly on Wednesday I received a phone call from Title 9 for an easy sort of job, not particularly lucrative but a convenient location, part-time. I had the interview today and it's not fabulous pay but it's the kind of work environment that would be really nice and best of all, when I go home it's over. Huge bonus points - a gym on the property!

Later on Wednesday another phone call came in for a job as "mental health parent consultant" for an agency that is on the other side of the hills in Contra Costa County. From what the ad says the month of July will about kill me between what they would want, DNE, and school but I'd have money if I get it. I'd be dead but bills would get paid. That interview is on Monday bright and early.

While having a lovely time at Title 9 another call came in for an office job for another non-profit agency that works with veterans.

Oh yeah, recently I also got two emails from women looking for doulas, one got back to me and I had that interview last night. Whew! Something has got to happen soon. Right? TGF has also been working hard at applying for things even while she works on completing the 24 page application (no I am not exaggerating) for a job with the city of SF that has about eleventy hundred steps. Seriously this has been a dangling participle of employment in front of our drooling mouths and hungry bellies since November. Yes, November! So send lucrative & flexible employment thoughts over to Casa de Cedar, please?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Time flies when mother visits

Wow! It's been forever since I blogged. Sorry about that folks. Wish I had something terribly witty for my return to the blogsphere. So about my absence.

First there was the flurry of activity getting the house in order for Sunny's visitation. Much dusting, clearing of out the garage, a run to the dump following said clearing out of garage. No Sunny wasn't going to be staying in the garage, in point of fact she barely went downstairs but her visit was great motivation to get things done like the hell hole that was our garage.

In addition I spent at least 12 hours gardening. By gardening I mean clipping dead things and pulling weeds, a tiny bit of laying the meager amount of mulch I could afford to purchase. I also swept, rearranged the "patio furniture", and hosed down the cement in the back yard area. Did we sip tea back there during the visit? No. I don't believe she ever even went out the back door. Again, it was a good push. After pondering it for months I hosed down the walls and ceiling of the front porch, and actually scrubbed the porch and steps.

There was also the furious attempt to finish her socks, which I did but just after she arrived. She gleefully received them and I hope she wears them often. They came out quite lovely (details and photos will be in a separate post - okay GWF?).

Being the good daughter that I am, I checked her into her hotel room before heading down to San Jose to pick her up. This included stocking the room with the groceries she requested, nice silverware, paper plates, and a small bouquet of irises.

It was a total whirlwind of eating out (what a treat I tell you!), shopping, showing her various local sites. There was also a party (more details in a separate post as well) to introduce her to (our) society, as it were.

Some of the places we ate at, and thus recommend:

Meal Ticket (Wednesday breakfast)TGF thinks this place is so so and expensive. I really like it and the coffee makes mine taste weak. 10 points just for that. Sunny like it a lot.

Gilman Grill (Thursday breakfast) TGF loves this place, thinks the food is good, price is right. I like just fine but the coffee lacks. Sunny seemed to like the food just fine.

Doyle Street Cafe (Monday breakfast) We both adore this place, though I honestly cannot remember the last time we were there. Lunch here is quite tasty as well. Sunny loved this place. Though it's been a long time the head guy recognized me, which is a touch bonus.

Filippos (Friday lunch) Sunny and I lunched here at their College Avenue location. She loved the decor and since two of the colours were similar to our bedroom colours I enjoyed it as well. She was delighted to see that their menu specified a gluten-free pasta substitute. Made the decision quite easy. Sunny was very happy with her spaghetti alla bolognese, though technically it was penne. I enjoyed capellini vernazza (with shrimp, asparagus & tomatoes with a garlic wine sauce).

Cafe Colucci (Thursday dinner) My favorite Ethiopian restaurant. During Sunny's last visit to the area (April 2004) I took her here and it was on her list of places she wanted to go to this time. I got the Veggie Combo, Sunny ordered her favorite - begue tibs, and TGF was very brave, ordering a chicken dish which she found too spicy but she liked a couple of the veggie dishes on the platter. As Sunny said, TGF went beyond the call of duty. If you are a newer reader TGF is not the most adventurous of eaters and I very much doubt I would have gotten her to this place had it not be for Sunny. She actually ate enough that she did not come home and gobble some Jif on Wonder.

T-RexBBQ (Monday dinner) We had been here once before and greatly enjoyed it and thought Sunny would as well. Their macaroni and cheese is an absolutely unctuous, decadent side that is a meal in itself. Sunny declared their burger perfect.

Pyramid Brewery & Alehouse (Saturday lunch) We attempted to go to Jimmy Beans, a place we like a lot but it was terribly crowded. TGF suggested this place to the great enjoyment of Sunny. A comfortable but noisy place. Basic pub fare with some California flair here and there. Sunny greatly enjoyed soda sampler, made her day.

Gregoire's Takeout (Friday dinner) We adore this place but haven't gotten food from there in forever. Absolutely some of the best stuff. Really. Everyone should go there. Nuff said.

I am probably forgetting one more place (like Wednesday night?!) but there you go, a quick guide to some good to excellent food options here in Berkeley. TGF definitely scored bonus points with a number of her food suggestions, adding to the success of this visit.

I am grateful that there was a pleasant enough hotel across the street from us so that all of us were able to get space and that she had enough room to spread her nest. I am happy that she was comfortable coming over when she wanted and seemed relaxed in our home. The animals and Sunny had a huge love feast which was lovely to see, she made up songs and rhymes for several of our beasts - quite fun.

Overall it was a successful visit even while stressful. It was good to see her, for her to get a glimpse of our life here (she has visited once before but my life here was very different at the time), and to chat at will.