Oh Christmas Tree…

So I skipped out on you a little bit Thursday morning.  I had more to write but of course time got the better of me and I had to toddle off for terribly important things.  Like signing a lease and getting miscellaneous useful things from Mark to tide me over. I also need to tell you about Christmas of course! I believe I was planning to tell you about the people I work with but first there is another hotel person I have to tell you about.

Hamid.  Hamid is a little Iranian man.  And when I say little I mean he’s only slightly taller than my shoulder.  Hamid is 72 and immigrated some years ago – actually I haven’t asked when, oops.  He loves it here, he believes the people are amazingly friendly and he has a wonderful time.  Aside from his stupid neighbours.  Stupid is his word and he apologised to me before he said it because apparently that’s what you do, from an elderly lad like himself I didn’t give him rubbish for apologising to me for saying’bad’ words.His neighbours make a lot of noise at night, hence the stupidity.  It certainly is inconsiderate.  Hamid is the guy that gets things done…I don’t really know what, but if I have needed a drive anywhere, Hamid has taken me.  The hotel has a mini bus and he’ll take you anywhere you need.  Love it.

And on to the world of work.
The guy who sits next to me is Chad. He’s a little taller than me, deputy / project manager type. He likes hiking and skiing and camping. He’s quite social, and terribly kind – he dropped me off at the hotel on the Tuesday of major snow. His missus is Stella and they’ve been here a few years, though Chad has only recently finished his last project and returned to home office.

My other key office mate is Omar. Omar can talk. He’s Canadian. Funny old soul, and by old I mean this guy loves writing cheques because it’s cool. I have never written a cheque! And quite frankly my wish to is quite low. Omar turned 30 just the other day but for some reason, despite the love of cheques, he seems about ten years younger than me; heck he seems younger than little brother Ben! I suspect he was a slow one to get to engineering, he talks of being shown the job ten years ago, so I guess he’s only been working five years or so. Anyway, Omar is interestingly patriotic but also absolutely in love with America. He was so excited about getting things like a bank account and social security number – whereas I was happy to have them simply for practicality reasons. Omar wants to be a millionaire, of course no engineer is a millionaire, you do it for the love of it. He refuses to believe that. It’s difficult to describe the lad that is Omar but he sure is a character.

There is one other person in our office area, Grant.  he’s been quiet.  Gets his work done I guess.  He’s Omar’s boss of sorts I think…not sure how that dynamic really works.

The other person who features often in our office is Michael, who we knew as Mr HR previously but now he’s a person with a name 🙂 He often comes by for a chat because our area is so cool. No wonder things can take time with that lad.  Another person who often drops by our little world is LeRoy.  LeRoy is a quality control guy, which for anyone who has ever worked with that sort of person you don’t need an explanation.  LeRoy is fifty ish, lives up in the mountains, has dogs – though one was recently put down for throat cancer, and has worked with Chad for some years.  LeRoy is also a hiker I guess.  He is one of those sorts who is really tricky to get away from once you start talking.  Productive.

Other than Mark, there is Dan. Dan is a business development manager, I think his remit is anything fixed fee (though they seem to call it hard bid) and transport. As I think I said, Mark is filling a dual BD / Operations role, so he and Dan work closely together. The poor old soul did something to his back the other day and was looking haggard, I hope he’s got it all fixed so he can enjoy this holiday season. Dan is the exuberant ‘Coops’ guy. I’m sure I’ll get to know more about him in time.  We did have an amusing moment with Dan Mark and I chatting after a teleconference.  The boys were strategising about the call and the projects etc when Dan said something along the lines of ‘that would take some cahones’, then he proceeded to apologise to me.  I had fun watching the look on his face when I pointed out that if he deems that to be a bad word the only person he should apologise to is himself, because I don’t give a flying f*.  (don’t have a heart attack Gran, I did actually say ‘flying …’).  Mark just laughed, he’s seen me use that tactic before.
And that’s about it for people I know and interact with most so far at work.

Ooh ooh ooh, I learnt something Tuesday evening from Michael. The way they do holidays is weird. No wait, back up a little… By holidays they mean Federal holidays, our public holidays, or bank holidays in the UK. Here they’re just called holidays because their other time off is called vacation. Right, so back to holidays. Next year we get eight days of holidays, seven of them are designated company days off, one of them you can choose when to have. This year the floating day could be taken any day of the year with three days notice to your boss. Next year there is a prescribed list if options. The list is two pages long and the only month without at least two options is August (no holidays in August). Some of the options are St Patrick’s day, various Easter days, celebrations of all sorts of people days, and Belly Laugh Day (I don’t lie, it is January 24th, click the link!). The other option is your birthday… So I guess the only way to have a paid holiday in August is if you’re born then. Funny old place this is. This is my calendar with the holidays with a star and November booked as PTO (paid time off is the local combo of annual and sick leave).
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I believe I also forgot to tell you about the fun of getting my credit card here, and probably more appropriately the fun of Sobia. I now have a personal banker, her name is Sobia. I guess I mentioned her briefly when I introduced you to Nellie. Sobia is a pint sized rocket. She’s certainly petite and in heels about shoulder height. When I first walked in to Wells Fargo the greeting guy asked what I needed today and sat me down with Sobia. She struggled with my name – like so many people here – she just couldn’t get her tongue around it. So I gave her the Cooper option and she absolutely loves it. I got this email from her the other day:

Cooperrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr your credit card is approved, you’ll receive it in 7-10 days in the mail

And the way she’s typed it is exactly how she says it. When I went in to get the card she was having some computer troubles so she was crawling around her desk trying to get to the plug to reset it…it was beyond press and hold the power button broken. The computer got going relatively fast but then she had a severe case of the chatters. I heard about everything from her upcoming Christmas trials to her recent trip home to Florida for her best friends baby shower, her love of politics (she’s moving to Australia if Trump gets elected), and even her love affair with the Aussie actor Thor, his brother, and the Mocking Jay girl. The whole applying for a credit card plus getting a cashiers cheque for my lease took an hour. Truly, one hour. Lucky the only place I needed to be was Avis.

When Sobia and I had finished chatting I walked up to Avis where I met two lovely folk who hooked me up with a car. Yep, in typical Rhiannon fashion I’ve forgotten their names but it was something like Mandy and Tom. They explained all the ins and outs then handed over the keys to a Chevrolet Equinox, black. I have to say it is a beast!!! Sure I’m a little all over the place in my head because I’m on the wrong side of the car, but it is also a big car. I got this upgrade (from a Cruze) because I booked it for three weeks. On the plus side, I fit right in because all the cars are big here, plus I was nice and safe when it got snowy again – I didn’t have to wait long. There are many buttons and fancy features, like GPS and it plays Pandora through my phone and Bluetooth plus it has the nifty reverse cameras and beeping when close to things. I suspect I’ll not buy one because they don’t seem to have the resale respect. I asked a few cabbies and hotel folk and even Tom and they all seem to think Toyota, so I’ll go drive a Rav4 at some stage. And hopefully being if Asian descent it is smaller than these super sized American things.  The other option I’m toying with is a Subaru Impreza as its AWD and a sedan.  This is the beast.
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Thursday we had the day off work. No one seems to understand why we had Christmas eve off but I also haven’t heard any complaints. I headed off to Bridgwater to sign my lease. It was a super fast affair because I’d already read the lease agreement and Anna had done a bang up job putting everything together before she left for Christmas break. I got my keys and a garage opener and off I went. The garage didn’t open so I pulled into one of the carparks and went in the front door. Turns out the mechanism has detached from the door so the maintenance lads will have to sort that out. I also found the bathroom water issue is fixed and there is a door on the bathroom. There is no handle on the door yet! Maintenance to the rescue again. They of course didn’t get these things done on Thursday so I guess next week. I’m really happy with the place, thoroughly looking forward to getting settled here. A trip to Ikea was in order though, there are oddly no ceiling lights in the bedroom and only one over the fire in the lounge. I mentioned this to Paul on Christmas day and he said that is normal, they haven’t been putting lights in bedroom ceilings for years.  Floor lamps to the rescue! There are plenty of plugs so all will be well.

I also got the Skype going before the kids got up for Christmas breakfast out the block. It’s great you can do these things so easily. The girls are a little look at me, look at me, but that is par for the course. I got to show everyone my place before I get moved in, and have a good chat about Christmas presents. I took this pic of the temperature according to my car, with the beautiful sunshine which is hugely deceptive. Hopefully if you zoom to the top middle of the screen you’ll see that it was 22 FAHRENHEIT!
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After checking out the abode I headed to Marks place. Turns out he lives about a mile to the north east of my new place. I got lost once on the way still…well I turned into the wrong suburban street, realised it was wrong turned around and found his place easily. It was good to see Keila again and to meet Marks mum (Claudia) and step dad (Paul). The kids don’t remember me from Perth but they got well and truly used to me Christmas day. Keila gave me an awesome care package of an air bed, sheets, sleeping bag, and blankets. We sat about and chatted for a couple of hours then I headed off home.
I found my local liquor store and met the bloke there when I got some whiskey. Then I did my first ‘cooking’ at home… BAILEYS! Hehe. I took it to Christmas dinner with me.  Great way to start off in a new kitchen.

Christmas day I was tired so I had a late breakfast then had a nanna nap. By the time I woke up and got moving there had been about an inch of snow. I rugged up and headed to my place quickly to pick up the Baileys then to Marks. The drive was fine, Arapaho was clear but everywhere else I just went ridiculously slowly. There was no one on the roads to bother with my snails pace and even if they appeared I would have likely gone slower.
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The top pic was middle of the day, on Marks road. And this one is just around the corner of him, the place was looking good!
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Just as I got in, first course was ready. Mark had cooked up some giant shrimp, some of it plain some of it garlic. Paul mixed up some cocktail sauce (tomato sauce and horseradish). Super yummy. Then we did the wait for the turkey to cook. At one stage young Helen started getting ratty, I suspect that the others refused to play with her despite her candy bribery, so we got some games going. I taught her spit, she taught me king in the corner, then we played a snap similar to the one Fiona taught us but included snapping sandwiches. By then the poor girl was bouncing out of her skin again and cajoled me into going outside for some snow time. Young Ross joined us too. It had stopped snowing by then so we made snow angels and played chasey (which I failed at because running at elevation in the snow is hard!). And finally it was dinner time, I was glad because it was cold out there and making snowballs without gloves is just plain silly.
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Dinner was buffet style (anti clockwise) turkey, beans, squash, cranberries, broccoli salad, sweet potato, two types of stuffing (neither in the turkey oddly), mash and gravy. It was really good tucker, but nothing like Grandpas three plus meats.  There was ice-cream dessert but I managed to skip out before that, I was tired still and had to drive home in the snow again, so I went with the ‘best to go early’ option.

Paul is an interesting man.  He was  a cabinet maker by trade for many years.  He told us about buying one of the first CNC machines and the trials they went through learning how to use it, particularly as all the programming was in DOS.  Now he is considering a laser cutting machine with similar programming for Claudia and her quilt work.  He told a story about doing a kitchen for a Mafia bloke south of New York.  It was a stunning blue kitchen, a positively unique blue according to Claudia, but the bloke kept telling him to do more work which was clearly not the work he was being paid for.  Paul eventually got tired of this guy taking the mickey and told him to finish the job himself (the doors were just being painted).  Turns out he was a fiery old soul back in the day because when he quit the cousins called to threaten him, and his response was along the lines of you’d better come with everyone and we’ll see who gets out of it alive.  He was then getting calls from the kitchen owner to come and finish the job, promising there would be no troubles etc.

Claudia is Marks mother.  The kids call her Mimi (I think) instead of grandma or nanna.  She has this really big infectious laugh…I can see where Mark gets his laugh from.  She’s a big personality and a fun kind of woman.  She owns a quilting shop and sometimes goes on the road for shows and things like that.  She had an amusing habit of helping Paul with his stories but actually remembering the wrong details, so  then Paul would finish the story he was on then have to go on to explain the story Claudia had remembered.  Quite the funny.

Jane is a great kid, but I may be slightly biased.  She likes to read.  And by the sound of it she reads an awful lot.  Remind you of anyone we know?  She’s going to be quite tall I suspect, taking after Mark more in height.  She also has Marks bright red hair, though hers seems to be straight.  Helen has Marks red hair with Keilas curls, and being the personality that she is all I can think of when I see her is Princess Merida.  Young Ross is only eight and I guess to a large extent ruled by all the women in the house.  He’s oddly blonde, I guess its from Keila who is a very light brown.

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It was a wonderful afternoon, immense thanks go to Mark, Keila, Claudia, Paul and the kids for looking after me on Christmas day.

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Saturday … all I have to say about Saturday is in the photo below.  Seriously, it was that cold.  By the  afternoon the wind had picked up a bit too so it was properly cold.  I’ve got to tell you that clearing snow and ice off the car at -12 degrees is no fun at all.

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Okay okay, there was more excitement to Saturday as well.  I went shopping.  I headed to an immense shop called American Furniture Warehouse.  And by immense I mean it is bigger than Ikea at home.  My plan was to go there Saturday then go to Ikea Sunday (it wasn’t open on Saturday) but I got a little distracted.  Actually, maybe enthused is more appropriate.  I spent about an hour sitting on and get up off these giant armchairs, and receiving many odd looks along the way.  I then sat on which I snapped a photo of.  I kept going sitting on chairs while I looked into the fold out couches.  Then I sat on a chair again and realised it was the same style so the previous one and decided stuff it, thats it.  I’m in love and even if I went to Ikea I’d still come back.  So I bought a chair and to reward them for having such an awesome chair, I bought a couch.

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The bed that folds out of the couch is bigger than the bed that is in the container for me!  Only the best for my guests.  And me for the next month.  So furniture remaining at Saturday was a TV, a washing machine, a dining table, and some bar stools, then I’m set me thinks.  The couch should be delivered on Monday.  Oh boy – I can’t wait.

Saturday night I had my last night in the hotel. It was a busy night and poor old Norm was run off his feet. I had a great time chatting with Bob and Vicky again, they gave me all sorts of things that I need to go and see or do. It’s a loooooong list! Beautiful people, truly sweet and kind couple. You’d never guess that they’re multi millionaires…well, aside from all the sailing of course.  Vicky told a couple of wildly inappropriate jokes which made Norm roll his eyes and Bob tried to keep her under control.  Interestingly Vicky worked at URS in the early 70s when they built an airport (Fort something or other).  She had to immediately text her girlfriend from there that she worked with to tell her she’d met another URS person!

Whenever you drive west you see these awesome mountains…its truly breathtaking…the quick photo I snapped while at a red light doesn’t do it justice.  I can’t wait to get up there.  Actually Bob and Vicky recommended I take a three day weekend and catch the train to Glenwood Springs.  When there I need to stay at the Colorado Hotel (a little walk from the station but that much better than the close one.  The town is apparently super quaint and has hot springs and is generally bloody awesome.  Catching the train is the way to go so you get to go the different scenic route there.  Its on the list!!!

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Sunday has been a big day.  I am quite tired from all the running around.  I got up and packed up the hotel room, then had my last big breakfast from the hotel, and off I went to my house!  I just dropped my bags then headed off to a place that had a garage sale which included three bar stools.  I got the stools, a little rug, and an orchid.  They had some amazing things there but alas I am not made of airports.  Everything was super nice and came with the price tag to suit.  Then I headed to Ikea for those floor lamps.  I got a few other things too but was mostly well behaved.  Note to all: Ikea in the USA is supersized, and it was a bit busy – lots of children.  I guess the kids have two weeks off school over this holiday period.  Then I headed to Safeway and did the groceries…Safeway here is the same as it used to be at home for all those Victorians.  But it is of course bigger.  I also wandered through a Sprouts, they have decent organic stuff.  The veg and meat look good (dinner is cooking), but for staples it is very expensive.

Oh, this pic is what I dragged myself out of bed to about 0730 this morning.  It was freezing bloody cold, I think 13F, but it looks amazing!

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One thought on “Oh Christmas Tree…

  1. Ahh the snow!! Brings back memories from Toronto. At first it was a novelty, then after many years of shovelling and scraping ice…… well…

    Looking good coops! Was Mark the Big Snowman outside that house? haha.

    Like

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