Friday, December 31

Thanks twenty-ten.

2010 was awesome!

Life will always have ups and downs, but this last year was incredibly wonderful to me.

January: Started working with coffee again, and got connected to Carbondale. I turned 27 - woohoo!

February: I started sewing more seriously. There were some projects that made me money. (!)

March to April: Took over managing for Alec at Common Grounds. Coffee FTW!

May: Opened my Etsy account and was happy to have orders in the first two weeks. I also got to travel to Spokane to see my parents and sister, which was especially important since she moved to Turkey that August. Oh, and I flew home with her cat Comma. Three cats in the house!

June: Three cats in the house...whoa. Also, the heat in Carbondale does not agree with me. I make plans to do some more travel but first...

July: I go to Guatemala! Dan, his parents, and I go to Antigua and have a wonderful 11 day vacation. I get to see coffee first hand, on the plant, still green, and tour a finca to see it's processing works. Dan almost kills himself because I want to hike the farm (read: steep cliff side with vines to climb up). We watch the world cup, we eat wonderful food. We still like each other by the end of it.

August: My Etsy account explodes as I get featured in their email newsletter, and I try to make the best of it and still have time to go...To Juneau! I work the last two weeks of August in Juneau as the Operations Supervisor for HAP. My sister moves to Turkey (mixed emotions on this one.)

September: More Juneau! Work is awesome. I love the city. I hike, climb, and eat (and drink!) in parts of the city I've never seen. I fall in love with it so much I start to think about living there permanently.

October: Back to coffee and back to Carbondale. Back to sewing and life with Dan and three cats. I interview for a job in Juneau.

November: Dan finds out he got the internship in Springfield, so I start pack up the house to move to Bloomington. I take the cats and my things there in the last week, and start working at Barnes and Noble again.

December: Moving the rest of Carbondale to Bloomington. The holidays were amazing in Chicago, and I'm now the happy blogger of a new computer that doesn't require me to hold the power cord in the back jack. And it has a camera so I can Skype with my family. I found out my brother and his family are moving to Boston in July, my other brother is getting married and moving to Florida, and my Dad will be rolling through the country to help him move there.

Already 2011 has a lot to live up to, but I am so happy to be where I am, be with whom I'm with, and do the next part of this together.

Happy new year everyone and thanks to you friends for all of the support and encouragement in this last year. I really couldn't have made these huge steps without you!

Wednesday, December 29

Coloring books

I've mentioned my book cases before, but this is the first photo that shows what I've done. Color organized bookshelves! I've see this done on several websites and the idea has stuck hard with me. I understand that to some this looks neurotic, but it makes me so happy to have them grouped in such a way. I've tried alphabetizing them, using genre, author, story theme, and title as an organizing style. I've never really been satisfied with it. But this - this I love!

Selling my sofa

Hello world. With Dan moving in and doubling our furniture stash, I am selling my cute little sofa/bed. You can see it's listing on Craigslist here.

What I've been sewing

Now that all of these wonderful gifts have been given to their people, I am happy to share them with you! This top bag was made for Caroline, a spunky freshman girl. When we talked at the dessert party on Christmas, she explained how great it will work for school, as it's a fairly large bag and she doesn't have time to go to her locker in between classes. Sorry there is no inside picture, but it is lime green with navy tree buds.

This purple bag is a bit hard to see. The bottom is a pretty purple with a green leaf pattern, both of which seem to disappear in the photo.
These two little clutch bags were so fun to make. I played with a smaller frame for the bag - these are 7 inches wide and only two inches deep. I've been making fabric flowers for some time now, but this is the first time I've put them on a bag or used buttons for the center. I think they turned out really great :)

This last picture is the latest pouf I've sent out. You'll recognize the polka dot from above :) I'm happy with how efficient I've gotten at these pillows. I have changed the design from the original - I use only 11 panels now instead of 12.

There you go. Consider this a pre-view of what's to come in my Etsy shop. I'm getting set to order more bag frames, and I'm always on the lookout for fun buttons. If you know of any fun sites, feel free to send me their info!

Sunday, December 26

Christmas recap for the family

Merry day after Christmas! It has been a great holiday here in Chicago. Yesterday was a whirlwind of good cheer and tasty food. It seemed like it was almost non-stop festivities, well into the 26th.

The day started at 9:30am, with directions from Dad Swift to be ready for stockings and in our seats. It was a nice crowd. Myself and Dan, Azusa and Adam, Lolade, Nora, and Dan's parents were all circled around. After stockings and one present, we broke for breakfast. Every year on Christmas Eve, Linda and whoever is available will make pecan sticky buns to be enjoyed on Christmas morning. They are warm and gooey, with huge pecans on top. Coffee, sausage and scrambled eggs kept us energized as we laughed and plowed through the bounty that was under the Christmas tree.

We went all the way up to 2pm with activity, then broke again for naps, or play with new gadgets, or in Gus's case, got dinner going. Even though it seemed like we had just had a mound of delicious things for brunch, we sat down again at 4:30 to roast, green beans and my favorite, mashed potatoes!

Linda's family gets together every Christmas night at one of her cousin's homes, so about 6:30 we all met and enjoyed dessert of cookies and coffee. The Erf's are a warm and happy bunch with kids ranging age 4 to 20 (ish). There is lots of catching up to do. This year was particularly fun for me as one of Linda's cousins, Erica, had ordered one of my pouf pillows for a friend a few months ago, and I got to hear first hand how she liked it. It was Erica's first experience with Etsy, so I felt a little additional pressure to make sure he liked both her pillow, and the process for buying it. All went well! Linda also asked me to make some hand bags for the younger girls, and all of them were extremely happy with what they received. It was nice to share something of myself with this part of the family I only see once a year.

After getting home from the family events, Dan and I went off to a bar called Club Foot to meet his friend Josh for the holiday. We all then went over to James's house and I got to hear some wonderful stories of yesteryear. They were all animated in retelling their version of each tale, and somewhere in the middle the truth came out.

And as if that weren't enough fun for the weekend, today, some friends of Linda and Gus came for brunch and we got to have Sticky Buns 2.0! The conversations were animated and refreshing, and just now, a moment ago, the Bears won their game against the Jets. All around, it's been a great Christmas in Chicago!

I'll drive back to Bloomington tomorrow for work and hopefully get the rest of the boxes unpacked and the house set up. Just before leaving I got a package from my dad full of my sister's tasty jam and a new cookbook for the holidays. I am looking forward to going through it again, now that the holiday rush has calmed down. I can start the plan for next Christmas!

Thursday, December 23

I promise, promise we will have Internet soon! More regular posts after the New Year.

The newest addition to life in Bloomington is a pretty big one. Dan and I moved all of his stuff in this last weekend in a marathon of boxes and driving. I took the train from Champaign to Carbondale, we packed it all the next morning and drove it to Bloomington Saturday night, unpacked it all Sunday morning, drove to Champaign to get my car, then drove both the truck and car to Chicago so we didn't miss the wonderful Swift Cookie Party.

Whew! We are still tired!

We have been wading through boxes and moving furniture around to make our lives fit in the apartment. The cats have been loving it - all of the nooks and crannies. And holy cow, we have a lot of cooking utensils!

Happy Christmas all! Enjoy the festivities and those specials people you get to spend it with. And to all of my family I won't get to see, I love you all and wish we were closer!

Saturday, December 11

Sew good.

I am so proud of myself! I've gotten so many sewing projects done in the last few days. My one huge failure is that I haven't taken any pictures of them as I was rushing to get them mailed off, but they are done!

The biggest, has been one that I promised to do for a regular customer from my days at Common Grounds. She has an old mission style rocking chair and wanted her cushions recovered. She brought in the old covers, and after a few hours of stitch ripping and measuring, and remeasuring, I was able to put together two beautiful new covers for her. I salvaged the old zippers and old trimming cores. It was the first time I'd made something with pipe trim, let alone sewn something for someone without being able to measure the chair or the cushion innards.

Dan was up last weekend when I was completing one of the sides, and I knew I did well when he said, "This is something my parents would have in their house." I was worried they looked amateur and unprofessional, but it all came together beautifully.

I'm making gadget covers, pillows,hand bags, and more pouf pillows. It has been great to see these things start, finish, and get in the mail.

ISU print sale

Yesterday I got to go to the ISU print sale. If you are a student in the print making classes, this is an opportunity to make a little money and get your art out into the world. I went to the sale two years ago and love the items I purchased there (still) and I was happy to go this year when my friend Alex told me it was going on this week.

We met at 8am on Friday and saw some really great things. I set a pretty shallow spending limit, as the times are what they are for me, but I was happy when I came across the picture above. It is odd, maybe even morbid, but I love it. It is a mermaid skeleton with the subtle outline of the actual mermaid around it. It is printed on think cotton paper, and it is #5 of only 6 printed. The artist's lines are very fine and the work around the bone joints is amazing. Best part, it was $10.

I have plans to have it framed much differently in the future, but for now I'm happy just to see it on the wall in my bathroom.

Here is another I picked up for a steal. It reminded me very much of some black and white figures my mom had painted sometime ago. With the contrast being so intense, It is a nice balance with some of the other things in my house.

For a dose of cute, here is Comma in her cozy new hideout. I have shelves above the washer and dryer, and I put her sheep skin insert from the carrying case up there to let her have some alone time. The boys leave her be, and usually the front is closed off with the curtain, so she has made this little corner her snooze room.

And here are the three amigos checking out the new digs. Three curled tails and noses out the window. This was probably the last day of the year with the window open. We had to make the most of it.

Friday, December 3

Home Office!

What a wonderful Friday! I'm excited to celebrate Dan's birthday this weekend - the big 3-0! He, however, is not excited to celebrate, so I'm trying to get all of my glee out before he arrives. He doesn't want to talk about it, he doesn't want to do anything special. I'm trying to be understanding, but I can't not acknowledge it. So there will be dinner (at home) and a little present (nothing extravagant) and possibly a movie (something we do together on many occasions, not just special ones.) He might bring up the Wii, so maybe we will have fun playing Mario Bros. or some other silly game. And by silly game, I mean totally awesome.

I get to meet with my wonderful friend Trish today to look over my fabric. She is hoping to have some things made up, and I know it will be fun to put together. Her wedding is next September, and one of her endearing qualities is her ability to plan ahead and get details out to those of us (me) that need a lot of time to do projects.

I was looking though one of the books my friend Audrey gave me- I forget the name but is by Sark - and in it the author explained how she overcomes her affinity to procrastinate. She uses "micro movements." I have found the same process works well for me, but I hadn't put a name to it. So in many micro movements, or small goals that take about 5 minutes to complete, I get all of my projects done. Even if the micro goals all happen in a connected span of time, usually in my brain, I have deconstructed them and felt the excitement of having completed my (many) goals.

It is already December 3rd!

Thursday, December 2

Happy Hanukkah!


I have been negligent in my postings for lack of Internet and well, because there has been a lot going on.

My holiday was lovely and full of wonderful people, as Dan and I were in Chicago with his family and friends. I met Alice for the first time, after hearing plenty of stories of her from Linda, who has been her friend for sometime. Linda also took me to Andersonville, a portion of Chicago I'd never been to before. The shops were fun and the cafe where we had lunch is just the type of place I'm excited to take my mom or my sister if/WHEN they visit me.

Ben Saller turned 27 on the weekend, and he is such a warm hearted person that it was no surprise there were loads of people in his house for his celebration. Near the end, there was a spontaneous walk to to a taco joint a few blocks away. Warm Mexican food at 2am with friends is such a wonderful thing. While we were waiting for our food to be done, we were serenaded by about 20 people singing karaoke in Spanish.

Dan is back in Carbondale going through his finals. I have most of my things moved up, but there will still be a truck load with Dan's things. There is already stuff all over for lack of storage. It will be interesting to get his things in as well.

I'm on the job hunt still here in Bloomington. In the mean time, I'm working part time at Barnes and Noble and sewing all sorts of projects that need to be done for people before Christmas. I'm busy. Word has come back that the Alaska job is a no go. They found someone who will be a better fit for them, possibly one who didn't say openly in the interview that she wants to open a coffee shop with in the next five years. I don't regret being honest. And really, I am happy to not have to make the choice to leave or stay. There is always the fun of working in the summer there. And really, that isn't a bad option.

I hope to have pictures soon, I haven't been carrying my camera in Blono and I don't usually remember to bring it when I come to a cafe for internet. Sorry! I'll try harder! You can see the chaos of my place with the cats and fabric all over.

And tonight marks the beginning of Hanukkah. I hope you are all with loved ones.

Saturday, November 20


I feel my interview went well. Last I spoke with 902, she made the impression that I was the candidate they were hoping to hire, and final arrangements would be made when 901 returned from vacation. When they (three people around a conference phone) and started saying, "We will start the formal portion of this interview now" I got a bit nervous, as 1) I didn't expect the switch from casual to formal in such a direct move, and 2) I was under the impression there would be no formal interview. In fact, at that last phone call with 902, she said, "As far as I'm concerned, the last 6 weeks in Juneau seems to us to be interview enough."

I know I interview fairly well. I don't get exasperated, I don't have awkward silences, and I have a wide variety of experiences to draw from. Had I realized this would be such a formal occasion, I would have done what most interviewees do and take a minute to think about that question that everyone asks: What are 3 strengths of yours? What are 3 weaknesses? Realistically, my answers were honest and strong, with the exception of my last weakness - I wholly admit it should have had a better answer (no, I won't tell you what I said.)

The interview lasted an hour, with a total of 12 questions. I talked about my ease with change, being able to relate with a large variety of people from different backgrounds and age groups, and knowing my skills to problem solve, think rationally in stressful situations, and work ethic would be a good match for working in tourism. I admitted being a part of such a large company after working the past year in a staff of 6-10 people would mean my propensity to accomplish tasks on my own (ie: I need to work on delegating) would need to be reevaluated if I were to be selected for the position.

There was good discussion at one point where they asked me what I felt the company needed to do now that they have a full year of being merged as HAP (formerly Holland America separate from Princess.) I suggested marketing themselves to the local community as being a transportation company instead of being available solely for cruise ships in the season. It seems HAP hasn't found it necessary to brand themselves outside of new letterhead and fliers, and more attention should be paid to that. Most people don't know what HAP is. 901 admitted that was a main discussion point at the end of season meetings this past September.

The hour went by very fast. It seemed at some points that 902 was interrupting my answers to add some comment or clarification, and I don't know if that was good or bad. I'm sure if I listened to myself I would cringe at some things, but overall, I am happy with it. There was the usual, "what do you see yourself doing in 5 years/10 years?" and I honestly answered I would be starting my coffee shop and in 10 being a successful business owner and active member of my community. Their follow up question asked how it would be beneficial for a large company like HAP, who tries to hire for long term growth of their business, benefit from hiring a person who was so pointedly looking to leave at some point. I was direct in saying something in the lines of - having a goal to be a business owner does not mean my talents will be in hibernation in the years leading up to that point. If I were to stay with HAP for the five years proceeding the start of my venture, only good things would come of it for HAP. I would hope that in those years, the management staff would have a solid team of well trained problem solvers, who grew to make the Juneau division the most successful port in Southeast. Recruiting would benefit from increased positive word of mouth and other divisions would have people who would want to transfer to our shores. Being in a place for a limited time doesn't mean that change can't happen and the company won't benefit. In fact, I think there are positive side effects to knowing there is a set end date. I ended with, I know Juneau would be a better division with me as a part of it - cocky, maybe, but clear.

So, who knows. I wish I would have recorded the interview. Jacob and I used to talk about how great it would be if employers used interviews as a learning tool instead of just a selection tool. Can you imagine if instead of being told you didn't get the job, they could reference specific answers as to why you didn't get it? There can be mock interviews, but nothing really compares to that moment, where your mind is pumping and you have to be on. Regardless of the result, I am happy to have more experience with formal interviews. I should have some word with in two weeks.

Friday, November 19

So I'm out of the drug biz

Today was my last day at the coffee shop. Thanks to everyone that made a special trip to say good bye and to all the regulars that wished me well. I have flowers sitting on my table from Terry and cupcakes from Frank. Lots of hugs and "I didn't know it was your last day!"

Mackenzie was great - she knows I don't like a big to-dos with goodbyes, so I left the shop with a see ya later and she said the same. I then realized I forgot to clock out, so I went back in...arg! I always forget something!

Packing more stuff for Bloomington. I'm staying there between now and the end of semester instead of hanging around Carbondale. There will be a final trip to move things once D is done with class, but for the most part, I'm out. Thats the plan. I'm pretty excited.

Wednesday, November 17

To infinity...and beyond!

I have three cats in bed with me.

My interview is tomorrow.

I think the purring with triangulate and knock all of my stress and uneasiness out to space.

Tuesday, November 16

Took a little break

I've been away from Carbondale, and the internet.

I drove up a load of my belongings to Bloomington, and had a great weekend with friends. Meryl and Renee had a birthday gathering, I got to brainstorm with Audrey about Sweet Pea's Treats, and coffee with Kristy was long overdue. I talked with the BN peeps about working again, and it seems I am welcome still.

I am running out of juice. I expelled a load of energy last week with confrontations and plans for a quickened escape from Carbondale. Monday and today I'm sluggish and unsettled. My computer is dying won't hold a charge or work while it's plugged in, so with being out of town and sharing D's computer, I'm not all that connected...and it's nice.

Packing and reading, playing with the kitties. Pretty simple.

My HAP interview will be Thursday or Friday.

I'm ready to be out of here.

Wednesday, November 10

Talk it out.

Today was awkward. Having yesterday's conversation looming in all things, working with the S (the new girl) and J (the boss) was delicate. Trying to keep in mind that it is work, and not my coffee shop, I put on my big girl pants and I get my stuff done. Drinks are made. Chats are had. I start S working on dosing shots.

I love training new people. I get really excited to take apart the process of making coffee and help someone see how much variation is involved, and at every point, how there are very intricate things that can make the beans' full flavor come out. It's the little things that will make a mediocre place become a great place, and when the shop uses old beans to begin with, every shot can use all the help we (as baristas) can give it.

Tips were mentioned again, as I asked S to tell me what she thought the process of collecting/documenting them was. There was confusion still, and when J came back in, I asked him to (again) try and explain the process to S. This time I stood there and listened. This time I waited until he was finished talking and asked S come questions so J would understand how his message was coming across. This time, he actually used the words "tip wage." S made some excellent observations - such as, if the tips were being documented, how to the tips get split when there is a credit card? How does the computer know to give that to two people.

There are still questions he can't answer. One night isn't going to make his plan change. Today J said that he needs to think about changing his system. S asked what that system would look like. J explained it as a typical restaurant set up where tips are claimed, tips are taken home at the end of a shift, and it would all be reported as such on pay stubs.

I hope it is clear that this isn't about the money. If I wanted to be rich, I wouldn't be working in coffee. I hope at the end of all this (the next 9 days) the people working for J will see that they are being exploited and misled into thinking that they making more than they are. Hiring someone at tip wage is different that hiring someone at minimum wage. Yes, that person will still make minimum wage (either from tips, or from their employer's pocket). But, what would patrons think if they knew their contributions to at tip cup weren't exactly what they thought it was? What if Jim, Melissa, Joe, Frank, and the other wonderful regulars knew that they were not giving their barista a little extra, but instead were doing nothing but throw away money?

Again, this shop is a small coffee shop. For a two week period, the average total for all of the workers collected tips are between $450-475. That isn't a lot when it's divided by the hours worked. But from an employer's point of view, that is a lot of "free money" that (in this case) J doesn't have to come up with. He doesn't have to calculate that expense into his cost of goods. The customers are paying that portion of the labor wages. Again, the customer's are paying that portion of the labor. How would they feel knowing that?

If everyone stopped tipping, J said yesterday that $450-475 is enough "to reconsider having a manager on staff." I don't know if he was saying I would lose my job if I pushed for ending the tip cup. I told him he was going to have to figure out what was going to work for the shop, and whether or not he had a manager was none of my concern.

If $450 is enough for J to be freaking out, his business plan needs to be reevaluated.


Sorry about that. I can't help but get expressive about this situation.

I'm happy to say that S is smart and all of the girls who have heard of my leaving and have read yesterday's post (hey girls!) have been wonderful. Everyone is supportive and most have said they knew something wasn't quite right with the situation. A person I trust (who also use to work there) said I was going out with a bang, and it's about time someone called J on his shenanigans.

I really will miss all of you.

Now, I'm going for a walk, clear my head, will return with groceries, and enjoy the evening with a beer and movie 5 of Harry Potter. A side story - D brought home a flier from (gasp) another coffee shop in town and they are having a Harry Potter dinner. Do I dare ask to go? :)

Tuesday, November 9

Tip Wage Rant in a Small Coffee Shop

*Today I go on a rant. You've been warned.*

I had a rough conversation today with my boss. I finally got up the guts to confront him about something that I completely disagree with, and with Carbondale soon to be in my past anyway, today was as good as any other.

Tips. They make someone working in service feel so good. It could be a quarter, or five bucks, but it is worth so more than face value. In a coffee shop, usually a tip cup (or jug, or bowl, or cheeky vessel) sits there encouraging you to help with someone's college fund, or selflessly lets you restore your center by donating to a Karma cup. Where I work is no exception, only ours isn't in your face. It is chipped and blends in with the counter, and is small.

Anyone out there ever been a waitress? Your relationship with tips is different. You bust your a$$ for your tips - breaking into a sweat to get drink refills, extra ranch, more drinks, a new steak to replace the one that wasn't quite right only after your guest ate 3/4th of it. Waitress, you probably make tip wage, less than the rest of the minimum wage workforce, because you have the potential to make a great deal more, and your state wants to give your boss a break. Yeah, you make $4.95 an hour, but you end up making $15/ hour after all the theatrics you go through on your shift. And your patrons acknowledge this. They know they are "supposed" to tip you.

Now, have you ever heard of a person in a coffee shop making tip wage? Would you take a job making coffee for $4.95 an hour?

And this is the confrontation I bring up with my boss today.

In the world of tip wage, if a person doesn't make enough in tips to cover the difference between the tip wage and minimum wage, the employer is required to make up the difference - hence, the person makes minimum wage no matter what.

In Illinois, the law says any person making a minimum of $30 a MONTH in tips is in an industry which can pay its workers tip wage. The basic run down is this:

1) The worker must be told they are making tip wage
2) At no time may the employer hold the employees tips unless there is a stated tip pool
3) the employer must make up the difference if the tips are less than the difference between tip wage and minimum wage

**You can reference the Department of Labor website here if you are interested in reading up on this. Illinois specific fact sheet is here.

Right now at the shop I work at, there is a tip cup on the counter. At the end of a shift, the money is counted, put in a bag with all of the deposit bags, and each person is responsible for reporting the money at the end of their shift. At the end of the pay period, the money is totaled for each person. There is a report generated and all of the credit card tips and cash tips are totaled, and if the total is more than the total amount needed to supplement a tip wage to minimum wage, that employee is given their extra money on that period's pay check.

Here is my problem. When people are hired at the shop I work for they are not told they make tip wage. They do not get to take their tips home at the end of their shift. Most don't understand what happens with this cash once it is put in their tip bag. Most employees think they make minimum wage and never make tips.

It LOOKs like the money is taken by the shop and not given back. Some people make enough tips and are given, what he calls "*bonus checks."
*I won't tell you the amount effort I went through to get him to admit he didn't actually calculate the wage difference, then get the report so I could calculate the wage difference, then get him to give the "bonus checks", then get him to do all this himself.

Today, when my boss was explaining his system to a new employee, I hit my limit. I asked to talk with him and called him out on taking advantage of working group (ironically, students) uninterested in researching this system, and told him I couldn't work for someone that was openly dishonest with his employees. I pushed up my last day to November 19th, and asked him to be honest with his current employees, and rethink his methods when hiring new employees. He claims he has spoken to someone who has authority in this matter, and claims he is doing his reporting correctly, but I won't go into how I know this is untrue.

I hate having waited so long to do anything about this. I hate knowing the main reason I didn't do anything was for my disinterest is working in a hostile environment or looking for a different job. I was lazy. If any of the people I work with are reading this, I'm sorry it has taken me so long to do anything other than have him re-explain, and re-explain in hopes that I missed some little thing that would make his method make sense.

So, now I've made him think about how he is going to change his system. He needs to be upfront when hiring and let applicants know they would be making tip wage. He needs to report tips, and wage, correctly. He needs to let people take their tip money home with them. This is, if he wants to keep operating on a tip wage scale. He could be like every other coffee shop I know of (including one you may have heard of: STARBUCKS) and let his employees make minimum wage (or whatever wage above that) plus their tips. I don't think he will find many people interested in working for tip wage + tips. How can someone make more in tips when they aren't a full service establishment?


So, I put it all out there. I told him all of my observations. I called him out on his hiring practices. I told him he was being sneaky and inconsistent. I told him it appeared he was stealing from his employees. I wish I would have busted out the big word - fraudulent - but it didn't come to me. I told him I would be leaving the shop sooner rather than later because I wouldn't train people thinking they would be getting money that they weren't getting. I hope he takes me seriously.

Thursday, November 4

Happy birthday Dad!

Happy birthday Dad! Love you!

Midweek vacation

I got to see my family this week! Josh and Krista rode the train up to Bloomington and from there it was a great two days of family. Wednesday we met up with Miah, Jessie and the kids and enjoyed the afternoon together. I let Ben run about with my camera, and these first shots are his point of view. :)

Josh shared with us the video of the show he and Krista are working on right now. Micky's Talent Show has a huge variety of characters, of which Tigger and Buzz Lightyear are two. The blue shirt Ben is wearing - it's a Buzz shirt, if that tell you anything.

Cecilia is walking all over the place and was very interested in the salad dressings from the fridge. It took her a while to participate as she, like her aunt, does not like to get up after a nap.

We all had dinner together and then Josh, Krista and I went back to Bloomington for the night. We explored some thrift stores and book shops before making the trek to St. Louis, then I drove solo back to Carbondale. Lots of driving but totally worth it. It's so rare that we all get to see each other. In fact, this time last year was the last time Josh made almost the exact trip.

Josh and Krista showed me the inside of the tour bus they live in between cities, and I was impressed with how they were able to convert a 45 ft. coach into a home for 12 people. Sleeping nooks, two lounges, and satellite tv and internet. Not like any bus I've driven!

Sunday, October 31

Happy Halloween!

Instead of getting a costume, going out, and being a part of the Carbondale community last night, I watched (a little) of the Oregon v. USC game and read The Girl That Kicked the Hornet's Nest again. I sat in the chair with sun on it for as long as possible, then got into a pile with Kodak, Baxter, and yes, even Comma, for afternoon reading/napping. Not much going on - other than reliving the mental kung-fu Lisbeth pulls out on Sweeden's legal system.

Out of the blue, I got a call (I heard her voice!) from my sister in Turkey! She skype-dialed me and she told me all about her next mind-stretching project: NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. I am excited to hear how it goes for her. It was a short call, but it was 11 pm where she was and sometimes that's just how it goes. I got to hear a bit from Adam too, as he piped up in the background. I miss you C!

I also received a phone call from my brother, Josh, and we talked details of our get together this week. I get to see both of my brothers! Josh and Krista are working in St. Louis this next weekend and they (as per usual) beat the truck with all the stuff so they get a few days to bum around. We'll meet in Bloomington, hang, go spend time with Miah, Jessie and the kiddos, and then on Wednesday I'll drive them back to St. Louis. I am really looking forward to meeting Krista and I don't see Josh near enough.

Thursday, October 28


I would need to be an engineer to know the exact amount of damage that was the aftermath of my last post. But, I'm not. I just got a lot of love and a lot of calls/texts about it. Wowzas. It's nice to know people are still reading my posts!

Thanks for the support and messages everyone. You can be sure I'll let you know what's going on.

Right now, however, the only news I can confidently share is Carbondale will be in the past as of December! Dan was accepted into the Springfield internship, and that means a move to the condo in Bloomington. Yay! Yay! No more Carbondale! Friends, space, stuff...all good.

Tuesday, October 26

Move to Juneau?

Here is some news: I want to move to Juneau.

Before leaving Juneau this last time, I was playing with the idea of moving there. I let my mind wonder around the fun things, and the not so fun things (like snow, and dark, and snow, and getting stuck in snow), and before leaving I was okay with all of that. I talked with some friends who made the move and how it differed from their estimations. Once getting back, I started looking into it more. It didn't help that it was still in the low 90's in Carbondale, I'll be honest.

It was good to be back home, but I couldn't/ can't stop thinking about getting back there. Have you been? Have you seen the mountains and smelled the rain? Bald eagles hanging out like it's no big deal. Black bears are part of the downtown night life. Friends, community, fish. It's my kind of place. I like walking to work. I like drinking beer. I like hiking mountains and living with rain.

Before leaving Juneau a job was mentioned to me. When I got home, I forwarded my contact info to the boss lady, and along with her reply she brought up the position again. I decided to talk with her about it. I liked what we talked about. I'm now waiting for the Big Boss man to return from vacation so I can talk with him.

I've looked at ferry tickets. I've thought about what to do with my condo. I'm looking at apartment listings.

Nothing is decided and no papers have been signed.

I don't know if this is something that will be short term or long term. I'm not putting all my chips in, but part of me is hoping that it all works out. Part of me is freaked out if it all works out.

I moved to Illinois in 2005 freshly graduated from college and married. It's 2010 and I'm no where nearer to being ready to open my shop and I'm divorced. Illinois has a certain amount of baggage associated with it. Maybe I need more time. Maybe I just need to get over it, but the things I hated about Illinois in 2005 are still things I struggle with. Heat. Humidity. Heat. Flat. Land locked. And, of course, the heat. The summers I've passed in Illinois since 2007 (the time of The Deciding - more on that another time) have been: 2008- working 80 hours a week in an air conditioned restaurant; 2009 - I was in Juneau; 2010 - working the coffee shop until I couldn't take the 105 degree heaumidty (heat + humidity) and I went to AK for 7 weeks.

Good things came from all that inside time being camped in front of the air conditioner: I started sewing. I don't know what took me so long to bust out my Bernina, but Carbondale set that to motion. Thanks Carbondale. But a girl can't sew from April to October, all the day long.

Does living in IL mean leaving every summer to keep my sanity, not to mention regain any ability to act as something other than a cool air zombie? Maybe.

I don't know what will happen. I'm thinking about all parts of it pretty much non stop. All parts. Non stop.

Saturday, October 23

The sleeping house.


We're having a fuzzy morning here in Carbondale. The kitties look like road kill - splatting themselves all over the house. "What happened here!" I can imagine a detective saying. "We loved them to death."

One of the last farmers' markets was this morning. One more week then it's kaput. We brought home apples and cheese. Yum. I whipped up some pesto eggs and biscuits for breakfast, and now I'm off to sew. It will be a blue pouf for an order on Etsy.

The work space is looking a bit rough, but I figure, soon everything will be boxed up and sent either to Bloomington or Juneau. It can be messy a little longer. Besides, messy = creative! Right?

Thursday, October 21

Sweet Pea's Treats

My friend Audrey is amazing! She has been a fantastic baker for quite sometime, and now is starting her business. At this point she is loaded with orders in the Bloomington/ Normal area, but now anyone can have her treats! She put up an Etsy page, and was featured, and here is her link: Sweet Pea's Etsy

Last weekend when I was visiting her, she let me eat a roasted banana cupcake with honey and maple butter cream frosting. I am pretty picky on banana flavored things, but these were the perfect combination of moist and firm, with an unexpected natural sweetness mixed in with the smooth calm of the frosting. So good. Yum.

And isn't the whoop-de-do on the top wonderful!?

Wednesday, October 20

two new pillow orders and a kitty

I had some scraps, so the other night I tried making a cat doll. It was a good first try, but I'll need to revamp the pattern if I decide to make more. I made the head completely separate from the body, and because of the quick stitching to see how it looked, it is incredibly floppy.

These are the next to orders I've put together for some Etsy customers. One wanted purples in a 24 " pillow, and the other wanted purples and pinks in the 18". I'm excited to see them puffed up and finished!

And this is Comma getting set to get on her perch. I had to take her collar off this morning, as I saw it had rubbed the fur off her neck underneath it. It wasn't tight and had plenty of slack to rotate on her neck so I don't know what to do other than keep it off to let her fur grow back, then keep a closer eye on it. She is a super happy kitty, and I think she is finally fully adjusted to life with the boys. Even in the feline world, it's hard to live with boys! She's a trooper.

Tuesday, October 19


Kodak helped me feel better yesterday by being super cute pretty much non-stop. Happy Tuesday world!

Monday, October 18

Couple of cute ones of the couple

This last weekend I had the pleasure of taking a few photos of my dear friends for their engagement. I've been going through them today a bit, and am getting ready to send them up to Trish and Crissy. Here, take a peek!

I had a little extra time today to play with the files, as I caught The Sickness and worked only as the register girl and delivery driver. Home by 11:30 is nice!

Tomorrow I hope to share the two custom pillow orders I sewed together, and maybe a cute pic of the kitties. Thankfully, always something going on!

Sunday, October 17

Trish and Crissy

Trish and Crissy are getting married next September. The 3rd of September, to be exact. They unveiled the date and their wonderful blog Serendipitous Soulmates at their engagement party last night. In T & C fashion, the food was wonderful, the venue was fun and festive, and their friends and family were a fun bunch to hang with.

While taking their photos yesterday morning, T & C were explaining some of the events for the evening and the "games" they would be playing. All the guests were encouraged to come up with a new last name for them, as they are hoping to come up with something that would blend both of their current names. It was a hoot! Heffren and Malott were twisted and rearranged and the things that came out made for some great, infectious laughter.

To get the crowd mingling, they also had a human scavenger hunt. There were descriptions of people with things about their life or a fun trait. My clue, for instance, was "sews with a cup of joe." One other that stuck with me was "deflects with carrots." The idea was a friendly way to learn something that might not come up in a mingling conversation, and in fact, was quite detailed info of stranger. Brilliant!

I'll post some photos from the morning's shoot after I get them cropped and sent off to the ladies. It wouldn't be fair to share them with the world first.

The weekend has been super fun and rejuvenating. I love my friends and have had the distinct pleasure of giving and receiving support. How do people make it in the world without friends? I hope I never have to find out.

Thursday, October 14

Couple things

The Beast is all clean and oiled. The dust bunnies and cat hair that piled up in my 8 weeks gone. Pieces are cut and ready to sew. I have an order. I'm happy to be getting organized and to be use my hands.

The world seems to be spinning fairly fast in Carbondale. All ready it is the middle of the month. Dan is neck deep in mid terms and I'm trying to stay out of his way - keep the cats from annoying him, trying to be quiet.

I had a phone call yesterday with HAPA about a year round job in Juneau. I have time to think about it. I've got pro/con lists all over the desk. I'm trying to separate my certain dislike of Carbondale from the equation - as next semester will hopefully be in Bloomington regardless.

I need to keep my hands busy or the thinking will start me into crazy.

This weekend I'll be in Blono and with friends.

Monday, October 11

Kristy ran!

Kristy ran the Chicago Marathon! Yay Kristy!

Dan and I went up to Chicago to cheer her on this past weekend, and Chicago put on a good show. The weather was warm, the breeze came out, and most were in good spirits.

We drove through Champaign and made a jam drop at my brother's. Six huge jars of Ciara's homemade jam from the stock pile at dad's house to his. "How long with this last you Miah?" "Six jars? Probably six weeks." My brother loves jam.

My weekend was rounded out with a trip to my favorite fabric shop - The Needle Shop - and a special treat of meeting Alice, Gus's sister and Dan's aunt. I happen to think aunts are pretty cool, being one myself, and Alice was no exception. She is a wonderful story teller, and hearing about how she met her husband on a 2 week long steam ship voyage from New York to Athens was both hilarious and a trip through time.

There was a lot of fun crammed into the weekend, so I'm tired today. I got sun burnt while cheering Kristy on (ironic as she was running to raise money for skin cancer research), and for some reason my body hasn't liked the weather since leaving Juneau. I can't seem to drink enough water, and lotion just gets sucked into my skin. I'm hoping everything calms down. Or it rains. Both would be preferred.

Wednesday, October 6

Back to the Grind

I'm home.

I started back at Common Grounds yesterday, happy to be pulling shots. People kept coming in with, "hey you're back!" Everyone thought it had been three months since I left. Did it really seem that long to them?

The sink is broken, the lights aren't fixed, and things I used to deep clean seem to have been a bit neglected. But that's my job - cleaning the underbelly of the shop.

We were working long days in Juneau. Really long days sometimes. But I can take those types of hours way better than working a counter for 8. The morning rush was great - keeping me energized and working out the cobwebs in my barista parts. But once the midday lull started and crept to the afternoon... painful.

Spokane was a great stop on the way back. It was short, but much needed. My parents are really great people - my dad time and mom time was relaxing, and I was able to work out some ideas I've been rolling around in my head. Phone calls aren't anything like real face time. I also got to see my dear friend Rena. Rena! I love Rena.

The cats are happy to see me - Baxter in my lap right now in fact. Comma has totally mellowed out in the six weeks I've been gone. I think the heat had her stuck in a funk, but now that the highs are in the 60's and the nights are downright chilly, she is down right snugly. This is much more like her hometown Portland weather.

Thursday, September 30

Out of Eden

I left Juneau yesterday. The 10:20 milk run had me landing in Seattle at 4pm, which was irritating when Lauren booked it, but the drawn out retreat from Southeast ended up being a good thing. I got to see a snippet of Sitka for the first time. My window seat was just over the front of the engine, and when the ground crews were doing their bit with the luggage, I was happy to see so many boxes filled with fish.

Next was a stop in Ketchikan, which gets more rain than Juneau, and it was pouring. Rain. So much rain in SE. We flew up over the cloud bank and for the next 90 minutes to Seattle it was all blue skies and bright sun. It was shocking to be in so much grey then so much blue.

I really love Juneau. I am going to miss it. Last year I didn't think I would be going back ever, but this year I'm not going to fool myself - I don't think it's possible to stay away from Juneau.

Sunday, September 26

Last week in Juneau

Only one more ship day. The Zaandam was supposed to come in today and the Star on Tuesday, but the heavy storm that came through SE made it delay it's docking until Tuesday also.

With the last ship day in sight, it seems like the whole town has been going out to celebrate. It seems like everyday is someone's last, and who knows when I'll see them again. Downtown is packed.

Today I got a call from Dan saying Violet broke while he was driving her home from Chicago. Water pump? Busted Radiator cap? Fly wheel? We'll see. Dan is staying an extra day in Chicago, hoping the car will be fixed tomorrow.

Saturday I will be home.

Wednesday, September 22

Taku lodge!

I got the unexpected pleasure of going on the Taku Lodge tour today with Lev and Wes. You can see the adventure if you visit my flickr set here.

Monday, September 20

Monday Football

Oh Monday, I don't think you're so bad :)

It was another wonderfully sunny day in Juneau. I walked to work and stopped for a cup of coffee. The A team was in the office: Lauren writing the schedule, Lev on the Ops board, Wes rounding up the dock reps, and me running between the dock, the office, and the occasional small transfer. We all had a blast down at the Zuiderdam, sending tours off on time and with happy guests, and making the best of the crazy shuttle madness that happens every time a ship docks at AJ.

For about two weeks, the ops team has been having trouble getting our act in gear to finish up the day together, without leaving anyone hanging out to dry with loads of work to do. We have all been getting reamed by 902, drivers are dropping like flies, AC is broken, people upset with tour distribution, too many hours to work in a day and not enough play; the burn out is running wild.

Maybe it's because today was the last Monday that we'd have a ship. Maybe it's because we were all jazzed to watch Monday Night Football, or maybe we finally remembered we are good at our jobs and those that don't think so can shove off. Maybe it's all of that.

Sure, we had to scramble when the Mountain Zip and Glacier tour over sold their max by 6 and we didn't have enough seats on the bus for the tour that was supposed to leave (what's that?) five minutes ago. Sure, when 281 broke down on the side of the road an hour after the shop said it was good to go, it took a minute to get another vehicle out to transfer the passengers to their Whales & Trails Adventure. But even with the awkward phone calls to the tour operators explaining the delay, there was no blame being thrown around. No rivalry to fan the flame.

Now is also the time where Year Reviews are being written and handed in to our bosses, telling them what we would like to see changed for next year. I've only been here 5 weeks, but those kinds of things (finding ways to make operations run better) gets me excited! I got an offer last week for a year round position up here, and even though I'm not taking it, I can't help but put my mind to work on things that will make next season better for whomever they find to work here. However we got here, today was a good day in the HAP office.

Or - maybe I'm so freaking happy because my fantasy team won (again) this week with 129 points to 78.

Here's hoping the last week is a good one!

Saturday, September 18

Another sunny day in Juneau

Today was the real mark of the end of the season: our first no ship day! With no ships in port, we all had the day off, and what a day off. Tressa, Ericka, and Hobbs (first name Andrew, but we never call him that) and I decided to hike Mt. Jumbo.
The trail is well marked, but steep in most points. After we cleared the tree line we got a view of the top, and from the spot in the picture below, we had 45 minutes of hiking before we got there.

At the top we had a feast of PB&Js, summer sausage, cheese and crackers, and bananas. That dog in the photo is not our. From the moment we started the trail head, this dog was right there with us. She continuously hoped we would throw her a stick, but with the climb, we weren't good for a game of fetch until the top. Half way down the mountain, we met up with her owner and got them reunited.

And then we were at the top! We could see all of downtown, but our motivation for this hike was a view of Admiralty Island, the one on the West side of Douglas.

There were some awesome small snow melt lakes.

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