Sunday, November 20, 2005

Getting Schmoozed.
We took a trip to Palm Springs last weekend. I know, you ARE supposed to be over fifty years old to enjoy the city. But there are other ways. I recommend going to a time share presentation. It is educational, an adventure, and you will usually walk away with something. We went to a fairly painful one in Tarzana a few months ago, and the "90 minute presentation" turned into about three hours of getting passed from person to person in an effort to wear down our resistance, while the price seemed to get more and more reasonable. We obviously didn't buy anything, but walked away with vouchers for two tickets to Disneyland and hotel accomodations for a couple of nights in Anaheim and more for Big Bear. There are a lot of conditions that make these difficult to use, but they were free, and I think we'll make it hapen.
Then they called us and invited us to "try out" one of their resorts in Palm Springs. Two nights accomodations would be fully paid for, and we would recieve $60 in vouchers we could use at various places, including a gas station and a few restaurants. Unfortunately, we booked at a pretty busy time and got moved to a so-so "resort." But it was absolutely free! We attended a practically enjoyable tour of the other resort, and they really stuck to the promised ninety minutes. We were kind of amazed. They really didn't try too hard to make the sell, and if we had been trying to get the price down by waiting, we would have missed our chance altogether. I was thinking about how nice our salesguy was, and have a theory that the difference in presentations may have been cultural. The LA experience was almost theatrical, most of the staff there were pretty pushy and kind of creepy, trying so hard to make that sale, to get ahead. In PS, our "tour guide" was pretty interested in who we were, where we were from, found lots of common ground, and seemed to really enjoy himself. In the end when we said no, he kind of nodded and said, "It's probably not the right timing for you too, huh?" Almost makes me WANT to move to a retirment city. Not really, but I think you understand.
Anyway, we had a very nice, relaxing time. Plus, we were able to look forward to getting away for a while, which is part of the fun. Oh, we also walked away with another voucher for five nights accomodations in Oahu. No airfare, so that is a bit impractical, but the company proved themselves properly thankful for our time. Anyone else have any good stories about one of these?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

On the Move...
So we are moving to Whittier the first weekend of December. The apartment Daniel and Bethany used to llive in opened up, and at about the same price of our current place, only with two bedrooms and plenty of other perks, and we are going for it. I am looking forward to knowing people in my neighborhood again, and having people over for dinner without asking them to drive for a an hour or so in return.
The other big reason is... that we’re having a baby(!) in June, and really want to be closer to friends and family for such an important and probably very challenging time. We were planning to move to Oregon this summer, but that will just have to wait another year. It has been really nice to be out in our own neighborhood in South Pasadena for the first year of our marriage, and it is hard to close that chapter. We LOVE it here, but community is more important now, and we are thankful to have one in Whittier-- so many friends and family members that enrich us so much. Here’s to more frequent and sustained enrichment!
A paid culinary education.
More gratitude for my job. I am really being challenged in my cooking skills. As implied earlier, this was a pretty tough job at first. I have felt pretty confident in the kitchen previously, and am not shy about cooking for other people. It came as a big disappointment when I realized that R and M were not exactly amazed by my kitchen skills. Cooking is a big way that I like to bless and give to people, so it was hard for me to not take this personally. I don'’t think I was making BAD food, but I do think that we have pretty different taste buds. Then there is the limited diet: no gluten, no grains besides rice (but not too much of that, or it could trigger an allergy,) no dairy, no sugar of any kind, including fruit, no eggs, no soy, and then some random items like mushrooms, kidney beans, etc. I recently decided to start cooking almost strictly from recipes, rather than experience, so that when something bombed it was the recipe that failed, instead of me. That has worked out pretty well, and I am enjoying branching out and trying new things. The other fun part is working with someone else'’s (quite ample) food budget. I am preparing lamb and cornish game hens, buying fresh coconuts and kafir lime leaves. It feels good to learn to cook new things, and to get paid to try them out. I may not cook as enthusiastically at home these days, but, honestly, I probably cook better.
A change of heart at the roll of the dice...
My job has vastly improved in the past month. A big part of this has to do with Yahtzee. At lunch every day that I work now, R., M. and I sit down and eat together over a game of Yahtzee, with a new tournament each week. We play two rounds,which takes about an hour or so, the second round requiring some of our “secret weapon"-- some dark chocolate. My scores go up right away. Another bonus is that if I made enough food, I also get to enjoy a very nourishing lunch with them (otherwise, it’s plain old yogurt.) I think it is wonderful to have an outlet for my competitive love of playing games, and I can’t believe I actually get paid for this! I was really having a hard time with the job for a while, but the turning point was the first day we played Yahtzee and R. offered to pay me overtime (yes, time and a half!!!) to stay and play one more round. I realized, “This is a good job. A ridiculously good job. Ariana, no more griping." And that was pretty much it. I am quite content.