Sunday, December 31, 2006

12/31 I'm a clumsy dork

Yesterday I stepped into a hole in the parking lot at the mall and down I went. Landed on my left kneecap. Yowwwww! It swelled up right away. I kept ice on it all night and took some pain pills, so it wasn't as painful as it could have been. Today it's a bit better.

A bunch of us went to Friday's last night and in the process I lost a movie we'd rented from Blockbuster. Don't ask me how, but I guess it falls into my dorky clumsiness. We went to Blockbuster today and tried to pay for it. But someone had picked it up in Friday's parking lot and returned it to Blockbuster for us. Hooray for Quincy. Love it.

Tomorrow is our big game day. We'll start with a visit to the cemetary where we'll have a beer with Mom and Dad. Then we'll return to our old home and play games the rest of the day (after eating copious amounts of food). My game tomorrow will be poker...Rob advises me to play tight. We'll see how it goes. He and Beata are playing poker with Tom and Janae tonight. They're the ones who own the pregnant yellow lab. Yay again.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

12/30 Presents, presents, and more presents

My secret Santa was my nephew Cody. He is a funny guy and bought me huge oversized sunglasses (at least 10x too big) and ugly fake teeth. Then he also got me a very nice gift certificate to Bath and Body Works. Yay.

At Jane and Pete's we opened presents last night. Sarah gave me a beautiful purple chunky necklace and bracelet that I just love, a breast cancer angel pin, and a breast cancer coffee mug. She is such a sweetie.

My godson Jordan gave me an attachment that turns my iPod into a radio also. Jan and Tim gave me some gorgeous and comfy pajamas. Jane and Pete gave me pajamas, a beautiful shirt/sweater, and a book.

Then Jane and I watched her favorite movie--Simon Birch. I love it too. It's based on the John Irving book, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and I keep meaning to read it, but haven't yet.

This morning I got up at 6:45 AM, after a great eight hours sleep. Everyone else slept in. Really slept in. Finally Jordan woke up and I took him out for breakfast. I enjoyed having some time with him.

Today I have to fax something to the Red Cross, and also buy the food for the minestrone I'll make for New Year's Day. There will be tons of food there, but I wanted to make sure there was a vegetarian soup. Soup is a perfect dish to have on a cold winter day of games and silliness. (Hope it gets a little cold. I haven't even worn a jacket yet.) Every year I salivate at the chili Joe and Cindy make, so this year decided to do something about it. And this soup is good enough that carnivores will like it too. At least Rob and Beata did, and Rob hates soup.

It's nice to be around my family, except poor Sarah is sick. I really miss Jan and Tim. They will return tomorrow night from their trip.

Guess that's enough for now. Nothing exciting, just feeling good to be in Quincy.

Friday, December 29, 2006

12/29 More from Quincy

Jane's family and Kris went to Gem City Pizza and Mexican last night. It's one of those places everyone returns to when they visit their home town. Yum. Besides fantastic cheese pizza, I had three margaritas. Yeah, me. Went to bed at 9 (would have been 10 in NC, doesn't make it sound so early), and woke up at 7:30 AM, so I sure can't say I didn't have enough sleep.

Today I'm going shopping for a new suit for the interview. Yes, I didn't expect I'd need dressy business clothes, so they are packed up with my "stuff" in Milwaukee. I also need to buy a few more Christmas presents. I'd left my list here in Quincy, in the box with presents. That's what happens when my Christmas gifts and moving happen at the same time. I did well though and just have three more things to get. Unfortunately one of them is for someone in this house, so we couldn't open presents here last night. :)

My allergies are bothering me this morning. Don't know why it only happens at certain places--Jane's and Kris's, but not at Jan's or Rob/Beata's. All have pets. But there's something here that's killing me. I'll need to leave soon so I can start breathing. :) Okay, it's not that bad. And I do love both the pets here. Sunshine is a calico cat that is so wonderful, well-behaved, and cool--in other words she thinks she's a dog. Those kind of cats are my favorite. Baily is the dog and she's a chow-rotweiler mix and is a sweetheart. Didn't even bark when I came in the house.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

12/28 Quincy

Just arrived in Quincy a little while ago. My niece Sarah helped me unload the presents from my car. Can't wait to give them out.

I drove through St. Louis earlier today and had lunch with my friend Faye. She and I were roommates when I lived and worked in St. Louis. It was fun, we hadn't seen each other in quite a while.

While I was driving I got a call from Betsy in Austin. I'm flying there on January 7 and will come home on January 9. The closer it gets, the more excited I am about it. She also emailed a copy of the job description. That will help me as I formulate my questions for the executive team.

I have a few more presents to wrap, but before I close I must say that this drive was so wonderful. Other than the two hour delay in the mountains, I enjoyed it so much. Even that wasn't all bad. The weather was good and the view was superb--not a bad way to spend a few hours when you're not in a hurry.

Tonight I think we're going out to dinner with my niece Kris. More later.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

12/27 On the road again...

I'm at a Holiday Inn Express in Indiana. Left NC about 8:15 this morning. Other than a two hour traffic jam in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the drive was excellent. Even that problem gave me time to catch up on my email.

The day was gorgeous. I absolutely love driving through the mountains. The view was superb today.

Now I'm catching up on computer "stuff" and will finish the drive to Quincy tomorrow.

Oh, I got a call from the agency in Austin and will go there January 7th for an interview on the 8th. Am looking forward to it.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

12/26 Fun with Beata

Beata and I did our "day after Christmas" shopping. I usually do this with my sisters Jane and Jan, but B took their places for me. We had fun and really enjoyed our time together. Went out for lunch, then came home and played poker with Rob. Tonight we watched Office Space, which always guarantees some laughs.

Tomorrow I head to Quincy. Will stop at a motel tomorrow night....

Oh, did I tell you I'm going to buy a yellow lab? Should be born in March.

Monday, December 25, 2006

12/25 A wet Christmas

It's raining buckets and buckets here in mid NC. That's the closest thing to snow that Beata will get.

Last night was so much fun. R and B gave me a gorgeous pink scarf and hat that I'll wear in Quincy. It's so soft! I'm wearing my new pink house slippers with a pink ribbon insignia on the side, a symbol of the fight against breast cancer. That also adorns some new socks and a coffee mug. So sweet and thoughtful. Beautiful necklace and earrings (that I'll wear today), plus another set of earrings in my stocking. I received some purple house socks and some athletic socks (no cotton) for my Avon Breast Cancer Walk. Rob gave me a poncho liner. I'm so very grateful because the one I have is very old and the loft is gone. I'm keeping the old one to take when I'm deployed--lightweight and dries so fast. The new one is different insofar as the camouflage pattern is digital. So cool. Then Rob printed some great photos and put them in a triple frame for me. I love the pictures and the frame. My fav pic is one of me on the couch with two or three dogs on me.

Then of course the gifts I received earlier--a holiday coffee mug, necklace and earrings (from St. Nicolai), and of course this portable computer desk. I am so very very grateful. Rob and Beata not only gave me tons of presents (and more in my stocking), they also have made me feel so very welcomed--almost as if they'll be sad when I move to Quincy.

Last night's dinner (Wigilia) was a superb as I knew it would be. All day long these delicious smells wafted through the house...and when we finally ate, it was worth the wait. Beata will have to talk about the dishes...I just know they were scrumptious.

Right before the meal they have a symbolic communion--I forgot the Polish name for it. But you share pieces of a wafer, similar to a communion wafer. You tell people around you what they mean to you and what you wish for them in the future. It was beautiful.

We called Quincy and talked a bunch of the family, and also called Jill's house and spoke to them. We'll call them again today to find out what Santa Claus brought to Kayla and Hunter. Last night Kayla said she was happy and exhausted. :)

Love to all. More later. We're preparing for company for dinner at 2. I made Grandma's Holiday Salad and a sweet potato casserole.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

12/24 No cussing on Christmas Eve

That was our plan. Beata said in Poland everyone is nice on Christmas Eve. It's called something special in Polish, but I can't write it. So we decided not to cuss all day. Rob lasted until a little before noon, but that's because he got up at 11. Beata cursed three times in five minutes, but she was cooking all day long, so we understood. I made it until 12:15 and lost it when Rob beat me playing Racko.

I did win at the "no cussing" game, and even though we all messed up we still tried for the rest of the day. I just heard Rob cussing in the office with the door closed, and he yelled, "Sorry." I think I like this idea.

We're just about to eat the glorious meal that Beata made with such love. Rob and I helped with the pirogi, but that's it. She did everything else herself.

We'll eat very soon; then we'll open some presents and play games or something. Tomorrow Tom, Kathryn, and Judy will come over at 2 for dinner. So in the morning we'll have a special breakfast and open a few more presents and our stockings. Should be wonderful.

But I do miss those of you in Quincy who are gathering now for dinner. God bless us every one.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

12/23 A fun night

After the excitement of yesterday afternoon, it was wonderful to host a party. We played poker with friends here at the house, and it was such fun. Again, the Dufresnes were the last ones standing. Rob, Beata, and I were going strong. But I made a fatal error--went all in when Rob had a higher kicker than I did. Tough move. It's cool though that we're keeping the money in the family. :) Our friends don't care for it much. Mike suggested we move the poker party from house to house. That's what we've been hoping would happen. It's work setting things up, although we love it. But it would be great to rotate homes every now and then. I'd love to set up a game weekly, or every two weeks.

We also did a little Secret Santa thing. Everyone brought a wrapped gift--a $5 to $10 value. The first person out got to choose first. That just added to the fun.

And the rule is that whoever knocks out the person who won last time, gets ten dollars from the pot. Pretty cool, because Rob beat me and got to keep the money.

I honestly hope someone else wins next time so they don't think we cheat. :)

Most of the people we play with are new, like we are. But Rob said it's well worth the time teaching people because we're building a cadre of players, and he's right. Last night it was the first game for Jason, Mickey, and Mike. Everyone did okay, but Mickey really caught on fast. She's a smart cookie anyway, but has a good card sense. And as an accountant, she counted the chips quickly when someone went all in. :) It's a good skill to have.

All in all, a great evening. Can't wait for the next time.

And today will be fun too. Going with Tom and Katherine to Judy's house for the dessert party. Which reminds me, I better get ready. We're leaving in a half hour.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

12/22 I love my son

Here's how things change. The boy who, as a teenager, made me want to check out the exchange policy on adopted kids, well, he almost saved my life.

I was choking--not because anything was in my throat, but because my esophagus was going into a major paroxysm. This happens to me at night in bed normally, and I know to stay calm and that shortly I'll be able to breathe again. But this time I was standing and talking and I put a piece of chocolate into my mouth without thinking. Chocolate is the one thing that can make my esophagus tighten up immediately. Yet, I've learned to stay calm and know I'm just seconds away from breathing. (Yes, I know I could give up chocolate, and I almost have--but damn, it's hard at this time of year.)

Anyway, I was wheezing and choking and suddenly that stopped because no air was able to get through. I put my arms up in the air--nothing. Rob said, "Are you okay?" and I shook my head no. He jumped up from his chair and did the Heimlich on me. Even though there was nothing blocking my airway but my own closed esophagus, the maneuver shocked my bod enough that I could breathe immediately.

I looked at him later and said, "You would have done a tracheotomy if you'd have had to, right?" He said, "Yep." I knew I was with the right person.

I think I would have been okay after a while, but I was absolutely panic-stricken. That's so unlike me. I'm still a little shaken.

All I know is I couldn't breathe, and after Rob helped me, I could.

God, I love my son.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

12/21 Today

I'm at home with the zoo today. Rob and Beata are on post and also running errands. Just made reservations to go to Los Angeles in January. Hope it doesn't conflict with the Austin trip. But I had to make reservations because it's been so long since I've seen Kayla and Hunter, they must have grown a foot. It'll be a belated Christmas, but Christmas nonetheless.

Today I have more presents to wrap. I'm bummed because I made a Christmas list and can't find it. There are still a few more presents I need to buy for Quincy, and I'm bummed. Maybe I'll just buy some lotto tickets and give them to folks I didn't buy for. Wish I knew who they were. Ah, the joys of aging. :)

Spoke to my friend Gerri again yesterday. She sounds just like she did in college. Hope we can get together sometime soon.

Also, a high school chum (JC) lives in Charlotte and we'll see each other after New Year's. That'll be fun.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

12/20 The phone call....

I talked to the Senior VP of Disaster Response in Austin. He explained the specifications of the job, and it's a lot larger than I realized. It sounds so very interesting--even more so after our conversation. If everything goes as planned, I'll go to Austin in January for an interview. The only thing that will stop it is if the Red Cross position suddenly becomes more lucrative.

As I always say, "We'll see."

I made twice-baked potatoes for dinner, and for dessert we ate cookies and fudge that Katherine made for us. Yum.

Tonight Rob finished his voice-over work; but first he watched An Affair to Remember with us. It stars Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr and is one of my favorite romantic movies. Rob seemed to enjoy it as much as we women.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

12/19 It's looking like Christmas

uner the tree. Yep...more and more presents keep arriving. Yesterday a big package came from Jim and Karen, and we had instructions to open it today. Beata had no problem with that. :) I'll let her tell what the presents are. Jill and Todd's gift to R and B arrived today too. And so did a present from Rob's dad and step-mom.

And tonight R and B had me open one of my gifts. It's a really cute coffee mug--all white with a red fir tree on it. I love it.

Today I received a call from the Senior VP of the company in Austin. Unfortunately I couldn't get to my cell phone in time, but he left a message. I called him back and left a message too. :) He'll call tomorrow to speak to me and see if I'm interested enough to go to Austin for an interview. I still don't know how I feel about it all.

More tomorrow.

Monday, December 18, 2006

12/18 Broadway, here we come!

Linda made a fantastic brunch for us and we all ate too much. Plus we got to bring some extra food home with us. Yay.

The funny thing is that Linda lives in a small town called Broadway, NC which is about 8 miles from Rob and Beata's home. She has a nice condo there--really an attached home--like a duplex. A lovely place. There are five more being built and we drove by them. They are on Cats Street in Broadway, NC. How cool is that--Cats on Broadway!

Then while watching the Survivor Finale, Rob made a snack/dinner. We wanted just a snack but he made so many that it was dinner. He made awesome nachos with the addition of homemade guacamole. Then he presented us with strawberry shortcake. I don't think I'll be able to eat anything at all today.

Yeah, right.

I've got tons of stuff to do for the Red Cross. Here's hoping I get it done.

Rob is on leave and we're all working on a project together. He and Beata are goin on errands today, while I work at home.

Lots of fun things coming up...on the 22nd there's poker here, on the 23rd a lunch at Judy's (another of Tom's sisers), the 24th our own little Christmas Eve party with a traditional Polish feast (can't wait), and the 25th we're having Tom, Katherine, and Judy over for dinner. A few days after that I'll be heading to Quincy for New Years with the extended family. I'm really looking forward to all this.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

12/17 It was fun

Last night was fun at Rob and Beata's friends' house. Jason and Mickey are nice. Jason reminded me that we'd met before--at Ft. Lewis, Washington. There were a lot of guys there that Rob served with at Ft. Lewis, went through Special Forces training together, were in Okinawa together, and are now here at Ft. Bragg. Even though they don't all work together now, it's still cool they can visit.

Rob is inviting some of the guys over on Dec. 22 for poker. Should be fun. Rob said that Beatka and I are legends now, and the word is all over the place that we're good at poker. I don't know if that's true or not...just know that I've been really lucky lately.

Right now we're getting ready to go for brunch at Linda's house. She's Tom's sister. Tom and Katherine are picking us up in a few minutes. Gotta run. Hope your weather is as perfect as it is here.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

12/16 Off for fun...

Rob and I ran errands today and it was fun for me to talk philosophy with him, in between listening to a book on CD in his truck. Beata stayed home and earned money on eBay. She's good at it.

We're leaving in a few minutes to go to their friends' house--Jason and Mickey. Mickey just graduated from college and Jason is throwing a party for her. They're about 45 minutes away--good thing Rob doesn't drink, he's always a great designated driver.

More later.

Friday, December 15, 2006

12/15 Still lazy...

I'm really looking forward to working regularly. This sleeping in every day and staying up late every night is getting to me. I know. This sounds crazy. But I enjoy working.

I'm hoping that the Red Cross calls me in to work in the DOC as soon as possible. Since my boss is gone after the end of January, I could go there as early as February 1.

The Red Cross job is the one I want. I really don't want to move to Mississippi.

(Rob, Bea, and I played poker tonight and I won. We only played for one dollar this time, but it doesn't matter...I love to play. Beata is getting bored with the game now. Maybe she's losing her street cred as a Bozarth boy.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

12/14 What to do...

Today I had a conference call with the other Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Managers. It was interesting, and I was told my boss would contact me soon about coming in and working in the DOC for a while. That will be cool.

But I emailed my colleague about the other job, told her I was only a little interested since I'd just joined the Red Cross. And as everyone who reads this blog knows, I love the Red Cross job except for the fact that it's not full time, and I don't get benefits. Anyway, my friend said I should come to Austin for an interview anyway, and see what I think after I talk to a bunch of people.

I'm in a quandary. I'll sleep on it, I think. (Yeah, a brother will be sure to make fun of those sentences.)

So I'll email my friend tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

12/13 Lots of birthdays

December is filled with family birthdays. Have a great one, Cindy and Sarah. Joe wrote eloquently on his blog, so I won't try to replicate, but I love you both tons....

Today was fun. Beata and I went to town for her to get her eyes checked. She's as blind as a Bozarth boy. I told her that her uncles would love her even more. She's at -6.50 with both nystagmus and astigmatism. She said she's proud to be a Bozarth.

I got a very interesting email tonight. A business acquaintance from Texas invited me to apply for the job of Disaster Services Coordinator for the state of Mississippi. (She's with a huge not-for-profit that encompasses several states.) The offer is certainly tempting, although it doesn't bring me any closer to Quincy. It would allow me to pay my bills however. I'll have to think about this for a bit.

Beata and I started watching Breakfast at Tiffany's tonight when we got home. We quit for a few minutes so she could make pancakes for Rob. He just got home, and she's making some comfort food for him. He does feel a lot better today though.

He said he had one of the best jumps ever. Everything was perfect. He jumped with some German paratroopers and they gave him some German jump wings. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

12/12 Hell froze over

Hell must have frozen over because I cooked another dish with meat in it. Since Rob has a cold I made homemade chicken noodle soup. R and B seemed to like it. I also made a pot of vegetarian noodle soup for me, and it was good too. Rob and Beata think I'm going to stop being a vegetarian any time now. Bea said I'll probably run into a Burger King screaming for a burger.

Today was also a day for running errands. All three of us had to go into town, but to different places, so off we went in three separate vehicles. Seems silly, but it's the only way to do it. We're far from town, and everything is so spread out.

Monday, December 11, 2006

12/11 The laziest day ever

I could get used to this. Worked on my computer and also caught up on everything I'd recorded while in DC. Lazy.

I did do a little work--researched some classes I have to take for the Red Cross, and looked around for other job possibilities for when I'm not deployed. But Rob was at work all day and Beata left for several hours to run errands, so somebody had to hold Chilli. I swear that dog is the most spoiled animal I've ever met. But he's a cutie.

I have taught him one thing. I won't pet any of the dogs unless they sit. The two big ones (Bobby and Bella) don't need to be reminded. They come up to me and sit, and they know they'll get an enthusiastic head scratch and lots of "good doggy." The dachsund isn't quite there yet. He gets really excited and his bottom wags with his tail. But he finally gets the message and will sit. As soon as I start scratching he starts dancing again.

He's learning though.

I cooked dinner. One of my specialities--grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup. Beata is so impressed with the way Rob makes grilled cheese. I don't think I lived up to his cooking, but they both said they enjoyed it. I'm a real gourmet cook.

And tomorrow--I'm working all day.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

12/10 A good Sunday

Katherine and Tom, Rob and Beata's neighbors, invited us over for a wonderful dinner today. Pork roast, homemade mac and cheese, peas, and a super vegetable salad that everyone wanted the recipe for. Additionally, Katherine made a pecan pie. It was so good. And that little kupka, Beata, ate two pieces.

Earlier today my friend Gerri called me from Georgia, and it was great to reminisce. We had to cut it short because I was late for dinner, but we'll talk again later this week.

I have SO MUCH WORK to do for the Red Cross. Will write more about that tomorrow.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

12/9 Poker and more

I saw Senator John Edwards at the Raleigh Airport. Couldn't believe it at first. He's quite good looking in person. And nice.

Rob and Beatka picked me up and we went to a great Thai restaurant for lunch. Omigod, we ate way too much, but it was so delicious.

When we got to the house, Bea reminded me that St. Nicholas had left something under my pillow. It is a beautiful necklace and earring set with lavendar tones in it. It's hard to describe, but I wore a lavendar shirt tonight and the new jewelry went great with it. (Thanks, St. Nick--aka Beata and Rob.)

Poker tonight was so much fun...especially because I won again. Yep. I can't believe it myself. It came ddodwn to Beata and I, and I finally won. There were 12 of us, so I ended up with $120. Bea said if I keep winning they will start charging me rent. :)

I know there's more but I'm tired. More tomorrow. (Oh, happy birthday to my brother Jay, son-in-law Todd P., and ex-hubby John D.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

12/8 I'm tired and...

happy birthday to Joey, another one of my great little brothers. Check out his blog for some cute pictures.

I'm beat, and have overdosed on information. There's so much for me to read, and classes for me to take. I hardly know where to begin. But I'm still very excited about everything, and look forward to serving on my next DRO.

Tonight I'm staying in and relaxing. I'll leave tomorrow morning for NC, and I look forward to that too. More tomorrow.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

12/7 Another interesting day and...

Happy birthday to my brother John. I won't go into detail because our brother Joe did it so well on his blog, but I'll just say, I love you, John, and hope you have many more happy birthdays.

Today at work I went into information overload. I have so many hundreds and hundreds of pages to read, plus classes to take online. Luckily it's so interesting to me that it won't be a horrible chore.

Also the presenters today were very talented and held my attention. Plus the subject matter today and tomorrow is totally in the field I'm in. The first three days were more generic, and today we broke into smaller groups. I learned a lot.

Tonight our activity lead took us out to dinner. The name of the place was Oceanum (or something close). It's a upscale seafood place. I had a salad and some sides...sauteed spinach, green beans almondine, and potatoes augratin. Delicious. Then we all split two huge desserts--baked alaska and creme brulee. The alaska wasn't so good, but the creme brulee was fantastic.

Tony Blair went to the White House this morning and traffic was horrible. Tonight they lit the White House Christmas tree and traffic was horrible. See a pattern here?

Lots more to talk about, but right now I'm tired.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

12/6 Another day in the DOC

Went to bed at 10 and woke up at 4:30, couldn't get back to sleep. So I worked on the computer awhile but by 6:45 was ready to go to work. I walked again and it felt good. This time I took a different route and was only two blocks from the White House. Also, last night I noticed that on the corner of the block of my hotel sits the Peace Corps building. Cool.

I do love this part of Washington. There's an electric quality to downtown.

Got to work at 7:15. Training didn't start until 8:30 today so I walked across the street to Starbucks for coffee, and then had breakfast in the Red Cross cafeteria. There were some people I knew, so that was nice.

Today there was a huge sale in the staff gift shop, so I bought myself a few items using my poker winnings. Yay, poker!

We all learned how to sneeze correctly yesterday, and I realized that the strange thing Beata and Rob have been doing--sneezing into their elbows--is absolutely the right thing to do. It's to stop the spread of erms and to keep our hands away from our faces. I admit it looks funny, but our staff health lead said we should do it, so I will. We'll see how many articles of clothing I ruin.

The bad news is that a factory had a major explosion in Milwaukee. My friend Tony emailed me about it, and I saw it on CNN in the DOC. If I were still a volunteer in Milwaukee I'd be called in to work there, but as a staff member, I still need to finish my training.

Something was pretty cool. We got a tour of the DOC and there are so many technological marvels that my jaw dropped. One room looks straight out of James Bond. But to run an operation this huge, you have to be technologically advanced.

I'm loving this.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

12/05 National Headquarters

National Headquarters (NHQ) is so beautiful. And huge. It's near the Mall, and no I don't mean the kind you shop at. So that makes it near the White House and the State Department. And Starbucks. :)

The Quincy Hotel is about three blocks from Faragut Park where we can catch a free shuttle to NHQ. Or we can walk 10-12 blocks. Yesterday I took the shuttle to and from work.

Today I walked both directions and it was super. Very cold, of course, but sunny (this morning) and lovely. I walked through parts of George Washington University. Ended up walking with Maria from Puerto Rico. Delightful and interesting woman.

Last night I went to dinner at Luigi's with three mental health Managers (a step above my supervisor role). Judy, Jim, and Bob have many years experience with ARC and are so helpful in passing information to me. Susan Hamilton is a national staffer who is our "group leader" aka my boss. She said I should find a mentor because I have a steep learning curve. Judy agreed to mentor me and I'm so glad. She's energetic and fun, as well as being very experienced with a good reputation. Susan said I chose wisely.

This morning Susan said she thought I'd do a good job and would soon get a promotion to manager. She's going to bring me to work for a week or so to the DOC (disaster operation center). I'm eager to do that. The DOC is where I sat as I wrote this. The place is hard to describe, but it's a warren of cubicles, many of them quiet at the moment since there's not a major disaster going on. Throughout the area are TVs turned to various cable news channels and the Weather Channel. At one end is a large room that is two stories high to accommodate huge video screens. There's a very large oval table configuration. On it are computer screens and microphones. This is the DOC's heart during disaster operations.

Am I surprised at the level of sophistication? You bet. I know I shouldn't be because the Red Cross is the largest provider of disaster services in the world. I'm proud to be working here. And a little awed.

Tonight I went to dinner with Judy, Jim, and Peggy. We ate at a great Indian restaurant. I ate so much that I was grateful I've been walking a lot. Just got home a little while ago, and am incredibly tired. It was a really long day. More tomorrow.

Monday, December 04, 2006

12/4 So much to write about

The biggest news is that my best friend from college emailed me. She found me on Google. I can't believe it, because just recently I tried to get ahold of her too, but wasn't able to find her anywhere. She lives in Georgia and works as a real estate agent. I called her right away and we chatted for a little while when I was on break. It wasn't nearly long enough though. I told her I'd email sometime tonight, and will.

Again, I just can't believe it. Her name is Gerri and mine is Jeri, so we were known as the Jerrys. (I just spelled it in a generic way since we spell it differently.) Gerri and I were so close that after I got married and moved away she lived with my family for one school year.

We had so much fun together and I have such fond memories. I'll post some of them later. Yay!

In the meantime I am meeting some Red Cross folks for dinner soon. Will post later about my work experience today. It was cool.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

12/3 In DC

Again, the flight was uneventful, my favorite kind.

The Quincy is a neat hotel in downtown DC. The desk agent told me that the manager said all the Red Cross people were to get the best rooms. We have newly redecorated ones. How thoughtful. Each room is a mini-suite, with a kitchenette. But the guy have me one with a full kitchen. It's a very nice, small suite, which is really nice since I'll be here for a week.

The location is good too. There are plenty of places to walk, but not much time to do so. I could have walked today but took a nap instead. Didn't get enough sleep before I left NC.

While waiting for my room to be ready I spoke to a few other Red Cross Mental Health folks who were also waiting. Jim and Judy live in different parts of the country but have worked togehter many times over the years. It looks like not everyone will be new like me. I guess all disaster reserve staff have to go through orientation together because new rules and guidelines have been implemented. I'm looking forward to it.

Only bad news is that I'm going to miss the South Landing Christmas party with Rob and Beata. I thought it was Saturday night, but it's on Friday night and I don't get home until Saturday. Ah, well...

When Beata called I told her we can play poker on Saturday night then. :)

12/3 Off to DC with new money

Yeah, I won at poker last night. Hooray! Now I have a little bit of money for my trip; that's always a good thing.

Need to check the weather and if there's a flight delay. If all goes well, we'll leave here at 8, so I need to get busy. I'm really looking forward to this trip, and am so excited about finally beginning my new career.

I'll write more after checking in at The Quincy.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

12/2 A Christmas Carol and more....

Last night we drove to Fayetteville to watch Tina perform in A Christmas Carol. She did a really good job. When she was on stage I watched her and listened to her, and enjoyed her performance. However throughout the rest of the show I became a judge--yes, judging people's British accents, or lack thereof. I found it entertaining.

But the show itself was fun. I dearly love community theater. There's an energy and commitment entirely different from a professional performance. We even smile at mistakes--if they're made by our Aunt Jo or cousin Jonathan.

And the ride home was even more fun. I discovered that I can take a voice recording and make it my ringtone on my phone. So when someone calls me, my phone now says, "Don't be crabby, it's Christmas." I'm sure I'll change it today, because I recorded it in the car on the highway (no, I wasn't driving). There's a lot of background noise.

Then I figured out how to do the above, but assign it to different phone numbers. So a call from Beata has her voice saying, "Mom, pick up. It's me. Beata. Pick up the phone." And Rob's is similar. We had a fun trip making this happen. When I go to LA in January I'll have the kids record their ringtone.

This morning Rob and I are going shopping. I need a few more pair of slacks for next week in DC. Can't wear jeans to National Headquarters. Then we'll come home to clean because tonight we're having friends over for poker. Can't wait.

Friday, December 01, 2006

12/1 Lunch with friends

Tom and Catherine (Rob and Beata's neighbors) invited us out to lunch today, along with Linda, Tom's sister. We went to Renaud's in Sanford. It was a delightful restaurant with tons of different sandwich offerings. Mine was a grilled sandwich with pimento cheese spread on pumpernickel and rye swirl bread. Delicious. Rob had a bologna, cheese, and tomato sandwich that was also grilled. He loved it. But the best was when Beata said, "I love my crap soup. It's so full of crap."

Okay, it was crab bisque, but sure sounded like crap when she said it. We all laughed at it. Then people ordered dessert. I wasn't going to have anything but Beatka ordered Bread Pudding for me because she wanted to try it. In fact she tried everyone's dessert but Tom's--and only because he wisely kept it out of her sight.

Now she's going to decorate the tree. It's a beautiful tree that Rob got last night. But I've never been in a home where tree decorating was a solitary endeavor. It's always been a family thing--when there's family there. So I'm going to stay in my room and sulk, I think.

(All her life Bea has been the only one available to decorate the tree, so now that's a habit. And it would be a hard one to break. I do understand it. It's just difficult for me. And I can't see me watching someone else decorate a tree. So I'll just stay in my room and catch up on either sleep or recorded TV shows...or maybe both.)

Lunch was a wonderful treat for all of us. Next time we'll take them out! And tonight we're going to Fayetteville to watch Tina perform in A Christmas Carol. Should be fun.