Thursday, February 02, 2023

I’m surprised to be about to start reading this ancient Japanese tale, supposedly the world’s first novel. Written by Murasaki Shikibu, born in 978; she was a poet in the court of Empress Akiko.

This is all because I had begun reading, Masks, a novel by Fumiko Enchi. Written in 1958, it’s considered an essential, beautifully written Japanese classic authored by a woman. I was struck by the story’s excellent writing and interesting pace early on. Then, I looked into reviews and discovered that Masks incorporates themes from The Tale of Genji, which is recommended background reading. So, I’ll read the ancient fantasy and then resume Masks.

If I’m aiming to read a modern classic that originated in a non-English language, I should prepare in the best possible manner by doing the background work. Rather than tackling these readings independently, I’d prefer to participate in a literature class with a subject matter expert. But what the heck, I’ll go for it as a challenge.

Dear Friends: I’ll dream about ancient Japanese literature on this beautiful day at work. Diana


Wednesday, February 01, 2023

It’s too early for the Robins. But nevertheless, I’m drawn to this springlike image from my archive. I eagerly await the Robins’ return, signaling that winter is over and livening up the territory. Robins, alert and determined, are the “Border Collies of Birds.”

My times in an orange apron and working in the Garden Department had me averaging 12K steps daily. That includes my steps at home. The Garden Department isn’t even busy right now, so we’re fronting and facing merchandise and filling shelves. We expect the department to become a madhouse in a couple of weeks when the plants start arriving.

For the rest of this week, I’ll have to sit and learn by video again. But some videos should make more sense because I’ve worked on the floor. So that could make them more interesting and less brain-freezing.

After clocking out, while leaving the store, I pick up small missing items at home, for which I’m always searching, like bungee cords, rope, and certain screws and nails. I will avoid large interesting items until I hear from customers about how they work and if they’re worthy. The coolest thing about being a salesperson is learning from customers.

Dear Friends: The videos will end, the flowers will arrive, and the Robins will return. Diana

Deep Freeze

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

This is the last day of this year’s first dark month. And it’s still cold!

Yesterday at Home Depot, instead of watching videos, I spent hours receiving real-time training in the Garden Department. I’d been prepped by my previous job at Wilco, which carries garden and hardware products. So I knew a little about customer needs, the importance of providing service, and how to tidy shelves.

At HD, I will shadow a crew member for a couple of weeks and then follow the department manager for a while. My first day was interesting because we discovered four Traeger Grills mislabeled and “lost” somewhere. My team had to find them, so we walked every aisle. Looking at possible locations meant staring straight upward at aisle shelves’ high tops. A couple of hours gave me a stiff neck but got me near achieving that day’s 10,000 steps. My coworker said that some days while working, she walks 18,000 steps!

As I walked the aisles, employees in all departments voluntarily introduced themselves and welcomed me to the team. The women workers represent all age groups, and most told me they love working at HD. That big store is kind of homey.

Speaking of home, since yesterday was freezing, I let my dogs stay inside when I left for work. Later when I returned, little Mitzvah was first to notice someone entering; her racket woke the other dogs. After letting them outside, I inspected the house; it was clean as a whistle. Great pups!

Mitzvah is as quick as Osix, and sometimes faster, to notice bark-worthy events. Osix has been our earliest town crier, but Mitzvah is an equal. As to the other pups, Miles is our best watchdog, and Ranger is pretty good. And to now, the no-Chiweenie, Chase, is useless, but O so sweet.

Dear Friends: I will give, for free, fresh (and unwashed) eggs to anyone who’ll pick them up. Diana


Monday, January 30, 2023

OMG, how about Zero Degrees! That was yesterday morning’s temperature. It included freezing winds. An incoming gust felt numbing when I opened the door to let the dogs outside. Later, I bundled up to feed horses and chickens, but my heavy wool coat and hat didn’t offset instant face numbing. So I hurried back into the house to my winterwear stash and searched for a face cover.

Almost immediately, my gloves failed, and my fingers began freezing. An infrared heater in the barn helps but thawing fingers are briefly uncomfortable. Usually, a one-time infrared thaw is all that’s needed, but yesterday my fingers quickly began to refreeze.

Meanwhile, my neighbor, Bill, posted on Facebook that Central Oregon’s zero temperature was thirteen degrees colder than Nome, Alaska. I felt every bit of that while outside.

After early feeding my horses, chickens, and goat, I spent most of the day inside with the dogs. I had several later feeding tasks, but outside was sunny, and follow on treks were a little warmer.

Today starts a new warming trend expected to last through the week.

Dear Friends: Thankfully, this area rarely experiences such extremely low temperatures. Diana


Sunday, January 29, 2023

Last night, a little blizzard hit this area and left it snow-covered. This morning’s temps in the early twenties will mean having my dogs mostly inside until it gets warmer. I understand that tomorrow will begin another warming trend.

I’ve worked my way through all the training videos assigned so far at Home Depot. So today I’ll stay home. I will hang out and watch if more beautiful big flakes happen to fall. Otherwise, I will catch up on chores and return to a stack of reading materials.

My new renter, Jan, will soon start moving in and officially reside here in a couple of weeks. We’ve known each other for years, and the arrangement should work well. Of course, it will have me making the big adjustment of living with another person, but the change offers mutual benefits. She’ll be happier here than where she’s been living, and I will welcome help with the property and animals. Plus, since Jan works at Costco, a text can deliver something needed at home.

Dear Friends: There is never a dull moment around here, and new adventures are ahead. Diana


Saturday, January 28, 2023

I was watching a training video at HD when the fellow next to me switched off his monitor, smiled, and said he’d be returning to the plumbing area. I removed my headphones and listened. He explained that he’s been employed at HD for one week, and is a licensed contractor. He couldn’t find enough work to carry him through winter and will be with HD until spring. I asked if he could do repair work at my home. “Sure,” he said.

Central Oregon, where I live, is bustling with new construction. I’m on the opposite end of the tradespeople spectrum. I can’t find qualified individuals unbusy enough to address my home needs, a little electrical, plumbing, and repairing. Working at HD will be a plus, as some will pop up who routinely handle general repairs.

Plus, I can seek advice from those I work with to address some repair needs myself. I am handy with basic tools and usually encouraged by a source of good information. I will be bold with a sense of direction, and sometimes surprise myself by accomplishing something that seemed impossible.

Dear Friends: Now off to sit through more hours of mind-numbing training videos. Diana



Friday, January 27, 2023

Another day of sitting through online videos at Home Depot, orienting to my new job. This will continue for four hours daily for two weeks, which is how HD trains new employees. I have sat through worse orientations, but this one takes the cake for length.

I am a former corporate trainer and am very familiar with informational videos. The Home Depot’s are among the best I’ve seen, but a person can absorb only so much at a sitting. Several instructional videos, one after another, result in a brain freeze.

I got up, walked around, found coffee, and hung out until my energy renewed. Interestingly as I tromped through the store’s aisles, some employees I had met briefly the day before recognized me and engaged me in conversation. The chats were cool and hinted that new friends are ahead. Yes, for me, Home Depot could become a fine working environment.

On another note, my kind neighbor, Frank, texted that he could see my fence sagging in a couple of spots and offered to fix things. He did a masterful job and introduced me to a new style of post-junction stabilizer.

That got me thinking. For most of last year, I was venturing out, seeking part-time work. Learning new skills had me neglecting some property care. Yesterday, I worked off some guilt for having neglected the fence line. I did some needed cleaning and repairing in the horse area. The horses followed me around, and Sunni was after my gloves. Those animals are dear.

Kudos again, Frank, for helping.

Dear Friends: Today’s header is my Maxwell, a very cool kitty about to turn fourteen. Diana



Thursday, January 26, 2023

Yesterday, at Home Depot I attended a New Employee Orientation. I figured it would last a couple of hours. Ha! How about it lasted five hours and ended unfinished. I watched training videos and online indoctrinations, to rules and regulations, toxic material handling, etc. I will return this morning to complete the process.

We new hires toured the facility and found all employees pleasant and welcoming. The attitudes were encouraging. Men and women alike and representing all age groups worked in the aisles. My new position might avoid the aggressive ageism that frustrated me where previously I was a part-time cashier.

I learned that working behind a cash register made me very vulnerable to spontaneous opinions. I worked in a busy store where people, lined up and waiting to check out, had the time and permission to study their cashier, to assess speed, capability, and temperament. By the time, I was checking them out, many voiced opinions about me. I was shocked by how many customers, mostly around my age whom I’d never before met, openly scolded me for still working. None were joking, some were cruel. I didn’t respond, ignored criticisms, and unable to speak back as I wished, swallowed anger.

A new cycle begins. I have another employee I.D. and passwords and user codes. This time I’ll be on the store’s sales team, moving around and less vulnerable to being studied. Interactions will be on-the-spot, spontaneous and better for my peace of mind.

Dear Friends: Now, I’ll be off to finish the orientation. Diana

Forks Up

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Yesterday, my friend, Julie, came for lunch. We had egg salad wraps and a side of polish sausage, and caught up with each other. We are thoughtful readers and Julie is about to start reading a book I’m enjoying, Listening Still, by Anne Griffin.

There’s more about “starting”. Today, I’ll start a new part-time job by attending an employee orientation. I’ll be working at Home Depot, in its Garden Department. The Garden Department expands beyond the store’s outside area; it includes the three inside aisles nearest the outside area.

My new role will let me move around. That’s so welcome. My previous work as a cashier required being in one small place; too restrictive. Now I’ll move around and will learn to drive a forklift. Yes! I understand, driving a forklift is a job requirement. Well, that will increase my marketable skills.

I’ll like working at HD. Historically, its aisle employees have been mostly men and some were older. These days, among them are more women employees and some of them older. That’s smart hiring, for the store appears well-staffed. Shoppers there can find assistance, a noteworthy value in this overall environment of fewer willing workers.

Since the pandemic years, worker shortages have been a huge issue for employers. Along with others, I try to understand why. People spout a popular notion that many “live too well” on doles from the government. I witnessed in my cashier’s role many not appearing needy purchasing with food stamps. Certainly, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but worker shortages are weird.

I’m fascinated by how so many successfully are avoiding salaried positions in today’s economy. While among HD’s many employees and customers, I might gain understanding about how so many may choose not to work.

Dear Friends: I’m excited about getting to those forklift lessons! Diana

Shopping Trip

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

I’m a single person who does relatively little grocery shopping. A visit to Costco sets me up for weeks. I rarely “do supermarkets” but did recently. The prices of almost everything have risen and set me into shock.

Costco isn’t a cheap destination. Its customers usually carry out more than they need. Those who do the math say that on average bulk buying is cheaper. I’m not a math person and shrug off excess as an economic advantage. In reality, my overbuys often become discards. They age out or I need to clear shelf space.

In Costco aisles all’s bright and shiny, and shoppers are suckers. Checkout totals may tally to hundreds of dollars. Few shoppers break down totals to learn actual costs of individual cans or packaged pounds. Those who do the math say that Costco is a most thrifty destination for large families.

We know that, but enjoy the bright and shiny, and the surprises that pop on aisle shelves.

Recently and in a hurry, I shopped in a regular supermarket. Current prices blew me away, especially eggs! They’re in short supply and priced out of sight. My little flock of chickens lay too many, and I give away fresh eggs to anyone who requests them.

If I pause to think, however, those daily eggs are costing more. As grocery prices have risen so have animal feed and equipment. I’ll give away eggs, anyway, for my chickens are young, happy, and high producers. Each fresh egg seems special and deserves a caring end user.

My supermarket shock lasted way beyond eggs. A quart of cream costs triple what it used to, and meat prices for good old pot roast, hamburger, and seafood were incredibly high. Fresh produce produced more tag shocks.

I used to work behind a cash register in a discount supermarket. Some customers demonstrated how best to shop. The most efficient consistently worked from a list, carefully avoided impulsive buys, and always paid with cash for their items. When I wondered how they could be so efficient, they said, they simply needed something, or didn’t, and could afford it, or not. Period.

That’s not a method for we who are less highly organized. Those who are demonstrate how best to shop, especially during weird economics, like now, with unreliable food chain systems, short supplies on shelves, and awful disease episodes, like Covid and Bird Flu.

Dear Friends: Most shoppers by switching to cash would impact commerce in mind-boggling ways. Diana