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December 10, 2002: Doing our part for the economy

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When we do the training for the mollusk handlers, each person is given a binder to keep. It's a very large binder, crammed full of extremely useful information all laid out in an easy-to-follow format. It's big and heavy enough to also double as a door stop, or even as an impromptu weapon, because I figure anyone smacked upside the head with one of these is most likely going to be down for the count.

When the training was done last week, we had a lot of the binders left. We usually leave behind a few for the county to distribute as they please, but the rest go back to Benthic Creatures. And the only way they were going to get back this time, short of hauling them off to a post office and mailing them, was for Richard and I to take them with us in our car.

Because the site where I was training didn't have a readily available computer lab, Benthic Creatures provided a dozen laptops to be used for the hands-on portion of the training. Those all had to be returned as well, and hence they, too, joined the rest of the stuff in our car. With the boxes of binders, our own luggage (suitcases and laptop cases), and the laptops, I think we managed to use up every conceivable inch of space in that car. Lucky for us Richard thought to rent a midsize. Sheesh.

Saturday morning we returned the rental car after transferring all the boxes and laptops to one of our cars, and yesterday we carted all the paraphernalia back to the office in Sacramento. We had great plans for staying in Sacramento and getting some Christmas shopping done, but somehow those fizzled out. We did manage to get to PetSmart and get an assortment of toys and treats for the Cyberkat gift exchange (yes, our cats play Secret Santa with other cats. Wanna make something of it?), but the fizzling occurred once we hit the hardware store.

The problem is my youngest brother-in-law. He works with wood. That in itself is not the problem, considering that he's extremely talented and builds incredible things, and if they actually lived near us instead of two states away I would be begging him to make things for us every chance I got. The problem with him being a tool sort of guy is that tools were all he put on his wish list for Christmas…very expensive tools. Tools with incomprehensible names like "self-centering bit set" and "carriage tenon jig." Maybe you tool geeks out there have a clue, but the rest of us certainly don't. And it doesn't help that we went to the hardware store and the guy there couldn't figure out what they were either. He kept asking me questions like "what's he going to use this for?" and my favorite "do you know what tool this is for?" Because apparently me doing my best dumb-girl impression and handing him the list with the things on it didn't clue him in on the fact that I Had No Idea. I felt slightly better later on when I talked to my parents who had apparently done the same thing (and my dad is a bonafied tool geek, so even he was stumped on some of those things).

Once we bombed out in the hardware store, we sort of lost enthusiasm. We eyed the rest of our presents-yet-to-buy list and we couldn't think of anything creative for any of the rest of them, and besides we were getting really hungry, so we gave up on the shopping thing and got lunch instead, before heading home to spend the rest of the day as lazy little computer potatoes.

Today, however, was different. We had to get out of the house early enough to fax some expense reports to the Benthic Creatures office, so I figured as long as we were out, we might as well get a few things accomplished. Hence, the first batch of cards have been stamped and mailed, in plenty of time so that even the non-US ones will arrive before Christmas. And if that weren't a small miracle by itself, later on today we also popped the aforementioned Secret Santa cat toy collections into the mail so they, too, shall arrive in plenty of time. This year, I should note, I was careful to get envelopes that seal very well. In previous years I've mailed cat gift exchange packages that perpetually leaked little bits of dried greenery (catnip) all over the postal counter (and not once did anyone ever say anything. Apparently mailing dried plant matter isn't of any great concern). This year, all the catnip shall remain safely inside the envelopes, allowing the toys to all marinate just enough to induce a catnip frenzy once they reach their final destination.

Flush from these small postal victories, we zipped off to Old Sacramento, where we fed a handful of quarters into a hungry parking meter and then proceeded to Get Shopping. Here is where I get to be really proud of us. In the space of about 2 hours, we managed to get nearly all the remaining gift shopping done. We whirled through Old Sacramento, darting through stores, eying and then discarding far too many options before coming up with choices that will probably make the recipients laugh their heads off. We even had time to stop by the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (because it is a requirement that one always must get chocolate when one is in Old Sacramento. No, really. I swear it's the law). And we also had just enough time to pick up something extra for us.

Years ago I decided that I would try to find a really nifty windsock for each season, which could then hang outside the house and make things Festive, even if I never got around to doing anything else remotely decorative. For years, Christmas was marked with the fat little Santa windsock, but then a few years back, amid one of the nastier windstorms, the Santa windsock blew away, lost forever. So while we dutifully hung the silly purple spider for Halloween, and the goofy turkey for Thanksgiving, we've not had a Christmas windsock for a while.

Today we have rectified this wrong. Today while doing all this shopping for everyone else, we happened upon the perfect windsock for the Christmas/winter period. Granted, he looks a little loopy, sort of like he's been spinning around by the hook from his hat a little too often. But considering whose house he now gets to decorate, the loopiness just means that he fits in rather nicely.

Once again I am taking part in Holidailies, and have thus made the commitment to try to post every day this month. You can find guaranteed reading material from all of us participating at the Holidailies portal.

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