Latest Musings

Springtime In Colorado

Blizzards have been on my mind, although, overall, nothing to compare with blizzards of the past. Just moisture that arrives, with cold, and aching joints (me!) and then melts into the ground with no shoveling, the next day.

And thus, I am carried down memory lane, on multiple fronts, where Blizzard plays a central role in the story, and yet, so many things on human fronts seem not to have changed that much from around 35 years ago.

Winter of 1985/1986

I am a Student, Minimum Wage, Waitress

I have a friend’s house to stay at, because the storm moved in after I traveled to work, and needn’t risk the trip home in the rural landscape of 42 miles between me and home.

Busy night – Those who have secured hotel lodgings in the town that is major hub of freeways in rural American hang out, having one more glass of beer or wine, because it’s better than sitting in the hotel room by themselves.

Those who didn’t score a hotel room? Clear off early to move to the local public school gymnasium or personal house from local citizen that offers to house a traveler with bed/board for the night or the duration of the blizzard.

I wait on folks, serve and request those on my team old enough to ACTUALLY serve the liquor order I just took, checked the ID to comply with legal, age restrictions for, but am not old enough to leagally pull from the tap/pour from the wine bottle, and deliver myself.

A Family of Four

A family of four, traveling back east from their 2 week skiing vacation, sit in my section.

They wear clothes and jewelry that tell me, they are better off than I or most folks I know.

They sit at a dirty table the first moment the previous customers of that table leave, and are kind and gracious, while I apologize for the wait, all I wipe it off for them…

(and while I worry I might somehow wipe crumbs onto her fur coat, instead of into my hand or onto the floor I will sweep/vacuum later, during closing operations, or when the manager walks the dining room and chews me out for not keeping my section of the floor crumb-free, just while trying to clean their eating space in a hurry….)

They order – I deliver food – check back. My older coworker, a cook, gets tired and yells at me for ‘selling booze he has to deliver, in between keeping food prepped and coming out of the oven as fast as possible.” while he tries to do his job.

He also yells throughout the dining room because I haven’t scurried back from taking an order, from a new table, to pickup the order that he has prepared to be served piping hot and fresh.

He takes pride in his work.

So do I.

Somewhere between “I’ll leave you with a few more minutes to decide what the hell you want” and “Sorry, you didn’t order fast enough, I have to deliver an order and I’ll be back soon” lies the golden mean in customer service

But tonight?

The cook and I have become each other’s enemies regarding what each of us think is important or what the manager/owner have drilled into us each, as important.

The line of those stranded and wishing to eat, drink and be merry or moan over the ruination of their travel/work plans, never stops, for either of us.

I will be sleeping tonight, at some point, at the house of my best friend from high school – –

Whose husband is also the cook I’m pissing off and frustrating just now.

But, tables to clean, salad bar to restock, orders to take, and weather report questions to answer, takes precedence and I’ll just deal with whether I sleep on the couch in the living room or out in the dog house, when quitting time finally arrives.

The Flood of Customers slowly wanes into a Trickle

Folks leave to score a warm place to stay the night for free, after realizing they pulled off freeway to late to get a hotel room.

Or they go back to their hotel room to sleep out the storm, hoping for a better morrow.

A table that seats 6, but is now seating 10, right next to the booth holding the family of four is full of lone wolf truck drivers, who move needed supplies from this end of the nation to the other, every durn day of their career.

They love they can get pizza and beer without doing more than walking across the white out lot between their semi with extended cab or hotel room they scored and the restaurant.

They are getting pretty ramped up over the freedom to have a beer or six, instead of one more cup of coffee, this time of night.

I slap away a hand here and there, while waiting on their table – laugh and turn away to avoid groping hands from those who try to grab my waist or slap my toosh.

Too much beer? Lonely night ahead? Lonely nights in the past?

Most lone wolf travelers get lonely and beer served only means, they feel braver or don’t recognize fully, their actions when all they seek is to end the loneliness in their hearts.

They just don’t don’t always see it.

They are human.

So am I.

The table full of truckers are getting more loud while they tell their jokes.

Mom and Dad from ‘urban well-to-do’ family, squirm a tad, and frown in judgement, over what they consider low class behavior – and yet, they have no wish to leave the chance to have one more beer/glass of wine – even while their young teen children, squirm with boredom, just across the booth from them.

The kiddos are doing their best to sit still, while mom and dad have one more.

And the Dance Begins to Meet Needs and Hold the Line-

I clear plates, request more booze be delivered to the tables in my section. I stop to check in, listen to stories, answer questions, slap away a hand or tell a more family friendly joke to keep the one table entertained and roaring, while the booth 3 feet from them cannot see or understand the lonely existence of life on the road.

They cannot see it for themselves, or the many that sit a few feet away from them – though, to me, they are all lonely.

All while the cook/person old enough to deliver booze orders I just took, and have assured him we are not ‘over serving someone’, does so because, even while he chews me out for being too young and giving way to customer requests, simply because, he gets a bonus for sales profits made over the quarter, ( he is working is way up the corporate ladder, overall), all while he also tries to focus on practicing his food craft that he is proud of.

Make piping hot food, without moving past the “3 oz of pepperoni” for this menu item ordered….

Supply & profit margins, that are strictly enforced by the company that owns the business we work within.

We are all, the entire crew on duty, trained and schooled well in maximizing sales while minimizing costs and keeping customer satisfaction high – all at the same time.

The manager looked around about 4 hours ago and announced he was ‘going home while he still could’ and left us to our fate.

That’s what our job is.

Once the worst of the rush is over?

I announce I’m going to clean the women’s bathroom, and I lock myself in it…and hide from everyone else while I clean up the mess left by others.

Just for a moment, I hide in the bathroom.

I cry while I clean the toilets.

Because tonight has been too much for my spirit and I need a release from it all.

So, I cry.

Too many demands and too many needs to be met, all while I know, not meeting those needs?

Won’t end well for me.

There is always someone else better at such things than I am and well, they would just jump at the chance to have the job I do.

I’ve been trained and schooled well.

The truckers’ tablemates, one by one leave.

I see the change in various places on the table, small piles of pennies and nickles and wonder,

“Why did I wait on them so fervently? Why did I care for them when it’s obvious they don’t value me, that much”

And then I pick up the final glasses/plates, and under each, is a $10 or $20 – or a napkin that reads, “Thanks for taking care of us tonight” with a $1 or a $5.

My heart melts and I realize, I didn’t understand that they understood and appreciated me/my role, as quickly as I might have.

When one is a tip-dependent staff member?

The tips left, indicate only one of two things –

Either someone paid you for the privilege of abusing you, OR they pay you because you made a difference at that moment in their life.

There are different kinds of “TIPS” in this world and I’d rather get stiffed/not paid than believe that someone gets to treat me anyway they believe they can, simply because they paid for the privilege of doing so.

I still, to this day, feel the same way.

The Working Folks leave before the On Vacation Folks do

Okay – I let vacation family we are approaching closing time.

Do they want one more dessert? One more drink? To consume before we close and kick them out?

I’ve heard the stories from the kids.

I’ve shared stories of Colorado, in springtime, and blizzards past.

Of death, destruction and folks who died trying to survive them. And why they shouldn’t try to find a way past the blockade, but just take the ‘night off’.

And they share a part of their story, their history, with me.

What they care about and I just spent hours meeting them, share for share, with my own story, what is a part of me, and what I care about –

And the wife, with the luxurious full-length, fur coat (she let me touch it, it was so soft and silky!) and rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, says to me,

“Why are you just a waitress? You are smart enough you could be so much more! Why are you wasting yourself here? “

I got so frustrated, I risked not getting paid for the night of waiting on them. ( I hadn’t yet cleared the trucker table, and figured, it was a loss, too, despite my best attempts to wait upon, serve, etc.), I could do nothing more than cry out with my heart – my full inner being…

“Yes, okay, you think I’m ‘too smart’ to waste away in this job, but aren’t you GLAD I was here? Didn’t you receive good service? Didn’t you get what you were in need of, just now? I like to think I work hard doing what I do and it is a service needed by others, but you just told me, I provide it, it’s appreciated, but you think I’m wasting myself, and you don’t really value the job or people like me who do the job. How will you eat out if no one else chooses to do this job?”

That’s a paraphrase. I’m sure I didn’t say all that, I may have only mumbled, “But aren’t you glad we are open and waiting on you tonight?”

I remember, both of the tween kids looking at their mom and nervously looking at me.

Kids and pets always pick up things faster than many adults do, to my way of thinking.

And the husband looked down, took another drink of his beer and said nothing.

Bless her heart, though, she looked at me and said,

“Yes, I’m glad you are here. You really made this night so much better. I just get mad that someone as smart as you has to put up with those kind of goons” (as she waved her hand towards the now empty truckers table) and well, you could just be so much more – I don’t want you settle for less.”

Which was kind of her.

Especially after I got mad, spoke my mind and she had the courage to keep on going with the conversation….

I got it, I guess, overall, but I still don’t get it, overall, to this day….

I don’t get how anyone disparages menial laborers that provide the very services and goods they so depend upon, for wanting to earn enough to live on.

I don’t understand friends and family who don’t tip, no matter how good the service when national and state standards here and there allow employers to pay well below minimum wage.

I don’t understand why anyone would go work in a ‘tip sharing’ place so they could bust their butt, and carry the load for a lazy co-worker who will make the same amount or more, than the ones working hard.

I still, to me, do not get any of it.

But for many places and portions of time, as I worked in menial, tip-based, jobs?

Yup – there are so many disappointments, and yet, over and over again, there were those who surprised me as well as those who disappointed me.

Last week?

I did the testing for Safe Food Handling and Food Allergy Safety state certificate courses.

I signed up and first did these courses, on my own, 2 years ago, just in case I should be asked to lend a helping hand at the local farmer’s market.

This year? For $18 and 2 hours of my internet/learning time?

I watched the videos, did the exercises, passed both tests with 100% test scores.

But the entire time I did the training, I couldn’t forget –

“For these folks, who work everyday, who have to have this certification in order to work?

They are responsible for the health of their customers, even if one allergic to shellfish wants to eat out at a seafood restaurant with her friends who are too dense to take her needs into account –

They are responsible for the profitability of their employer –

They must always know the right thing to do at just the right time, to avoid wrongful death, health code violations and fines for their employer.

They often have to fight their employer, local procedures, coworkers, etc., to fulfill their duties and responsibility for everyone involved -and be HAPPY to do so, so as to avoid ‘whining about’ the job they take pride in, but others deem ‘a waste of a life.”

And all that is required, on minimum wage or less, while told, if they want to make more money, to learn more skills, “or do more”, or “not waste themselves?” from the society around them.

They ought to be doing something else, they are told.

I wish all of them would do something else, just to make a point, overall.

I am okay with eating out, but I can walk away from it in a nano second to support them.

It will be interesting to see how much of PPL, Restaurant & Bar recovery $ actually go to the front line workers in wages, paid time off, hazard pay, etc.

I doubt, I or anyone else will really know, until 20 years from now how government grants and loans, really played out for the front line, boots on the ground, folks who show up, to serve and take pride in the job they do.

On the Other Hand?

Back at my friend’s house, and long after she had gone to sleep, because she was opening crew the next morning – her husband (the cook that spent most of the night yelling at me), opened the fridge, took out a beer and said, “you want one?” and opened it and asked if I wanted a glass pour it in.

He sat at the table while I counted my tips, logged them in my ledger, and did the math for gas/car expenses, etc., the next week.

And he talked aloud while we sat and I quietly drank my beer (oh, how good it tasted!)

You did a good job tonight on turning tables over. I’m sorry that trucker’s table didn’t leave you much – I wanted to come out and hit them, but I was too busy in kitchen. You fended them off well. So, did the rich skiiers make up for the lousy tippers you had?

And I told him – both the truckers and the rich skiiers had both tipped me really well – for the hours I waited upon them.

He was surprised, and said,

“I wouldn’t have expected it, but well, I was too busy to see all that was going on. I’m going to bed. Bedding is on the couch and if you’re hungry or want another beer, just take it. BUT don’t tell anyone about the beer, you’re underage, ya know.”

I made up my couch bed, had food from the fridge (it had been too busy for us to take a meal break) and I had another beer.

And, he’s dead or living somewhere else, now, as far as I know.

That restaurant is passed on to new ownership many times and well – it is what it is.

As far as I know, he never got in trouble for contributing to the delinquency of this minor.

The truckers kept on doing their job and enjoyed their one night of freedom from coffee and a desolate highway, in the middle of the night, for a change.

The vacationers lived their lives with, perhaps, a different perspective than they had before ever they sat there that evening, in my section.

I’ll never know – For Sure

But I am convinced –

Minimum wage doesn’t begin to cover the price paid and gifts gained when, on one night, we all showed up to be ourselves, in one moment of space/time, and well, it will never pay for the education I received that night, that I still, cannot forget.

All because of, a blizzard.

The Typist’s Lament

I wish to be a writer.

I’m more of a typist.

A typist that can often keep up, to some degree, with taking dictation from her own mind.

A mind that yearns to hear and tell stories.

To write stories she wants to tell.

To be a writer.

Each pass through a typed story – it grows longer in word count.

More editing needed to make the transitions smooth from original thought, and two hours later?

I need to split this out into a different story/a different chapter.

I’m tired now.

I’ll write something for my blog tomorrow.

I need to post something! Easter is long over.

Note to self.

Don’t re-blog a post tied to holiday on the calendar posts, UNLESS you already have a more current one written and ready to auto-publish.

I’m deep in typing the dictation of my mind.

I’m deep in the writer’s lament – the typist’s lament.

“Okay – so what was first sentence, grew into 2 – grew into current story, back story, fleshed out. Now? You’ve added, rewritten various lines so damn much? You have successfully churned out 5, 527 words most of which tell a story – but now? You have to edit it – let it sit. Maybe get back to it in a day or two – “

But I won’t.

History has proven to me I’ll let it sit.

Perhaps for 10 years.

Never go back and edit/break it out into a more beautiful dance.

Maybe to delete forever in a fit of pure frustration.

Oh so many words thought, dictated, typed, over the years, have been deleted.

Over and over and over – though the theme of them – their dance – the memories within them return to pay a visit every so often.

One that is from start to finish, compiled of one right word, phrase, sentence –

That all flows into the next one.

I should have stopped for the day around the first, furiously pounded out draft.

I should have stopped and been done for day.

But I couldn’t bear not to re-read – remind myself of another point, start fiddling with things and hours later?

A tome that will probably never see the light of day –

At least, not in this format.

Easier to just re-write it.

Easier to hear back the words and lines I loved.

Easier to write brand new than to go back and try to make sense out of that non-edited, added too many words to, stream of being a typists.

I don’t know if I’ll ever learn how to do that.

I start to despair if I ever will learn how to stop soon enough….

Or if I shall ever learn to revisit often enough.

The Purple Draped Statue

It is, as I was recently reminded, now 14 years since it happened. It’s been 4 years since I finally wrote about it. But still, to me, Easter Miracles abound, in so many ways, in so many years – but the lesson I learned long ago, that I had forgotten this past year, was ‘remembered’ once more

The Good, Bad and Ludicrous

Last week, at some point (last week is rather blurry with the long days and unexpecteds that arrived…) I awoke to a feeling of dread –

And perused the morning’s dream data bank to ask why such a thing had happened.

I dreamed of being in a white hall, with marble floor, and a statue in a foyer – but I can’t see the statue.  I’m curious, but because I’m a stranger, here, don’t feel I have the right to lift the purple cloth covering it to see what it is….

And I awake with dread, a heart gripped with fear and yet, a tiny, stubborn, determination to see it through.

***********

No kidding, it took the jarring of the computer calendar displayed date, to remind me – yesterday – where I was 10 years ago, at Easter time.  And just why the old memory had triggered such a strong response…

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Outside My Door

I ‘popped awake’ at o-dark-thirty this morning.

Blessed with a deep peace within my body and soul.

Both of which had, the past two days, been protesting and nagging me in one way or another.

Grateful, I clambered out of bed to start the day a bit sooner and easier than I have so many days this past year.

By the time daylight appeared, I realized, once again, how grace had found me and how end of yesterday, desperate prayers are so often answered.

The harsh, noisy, sharp and jarring things that often invade both my internal and external worlds, were all muffled overnight.

Courtesy of Mother Nature.

Early Daybreak Roof and Grandfather Pine

Between my viewing early and a short hour later, the fluffy flakes continued their fall.

Sometimes heavier/thicker, sometimes lighter and faster.

A minute here, a moment there, they fall at a slant, dancing without prediction through time and space.

I find myself continually distracted from work this morning.

Not by digital reminders, inquiries from customers, or busy flurry of social media, mind you.

I simply find myself taking more breaks from work to open the door and gaze upon the gifts of Spring in Colorado.

An hour or so later – I can see where I shoveled, but not clearly because of continuing snowfall

I still marvel at and feel blessed when these kinds of snow storms arrive, no matter how out of sync I am with the world or myself, in the time leading up to the moment.

For, after all, I’ve witnessed moisture in form of snow that arrives on the howling winds of the Valkyrie, where one is forced to realize they must choose and choose carefully! which battle to ‘fight’ just this moment in time.

I’m reminded of those who have walked from home to barn for chores, while using a rope strung between, to keep connected and avoid being lost in a landscape of eternal white.

Those who drive their own known landscape to check on soon-to-be-spring-mamas livestock, while horses, pickups or ATVs struggle through the blindness ahead, weight added to progress below, and landmarks disappear beneath soft blanket of gently rolling contours that is hard to recognize.

I think also of those who commute forth to work and then back home at a crawl….

Where 1 mile of the white abyss above and the slick, can’t be trusted ground below, feels like 10 miles have passed, MUST have been traversed by now and confusion over just when they will reach sharp curve?

Only to find out a few miles traveled, later, in one brief moment of clarity by stilling winds, they are still on approach.

All these things happen to modern humans still….often or here and there.

In landscapes where GPS doesn’t work, where cell phone signal fails and online maps, if accesible aren’t always accurately labeled.

The World and Individual Merge Sometimes

Where the only thing you can count on is your experience, knowledge and tools you have with you, when all that stands between you and survival is you and Mother Nature only.

Where you hope the mode of transportation you are utilizing, performs as well as you hope it will, to get both of you back to safety or grace you with the ability to ride out the storm – be it your own feet, a living thing that is stronger, larger, and kinder than you? or a mechanical version of ‘latest greatest’ options humankind has brought to market.

All while modern forecasts and warnings abound early and often.

Via digital notifications, social media and warnings from local family, friends and neighbors who assidiously do their best to keep you informed….

For some folks?

EVEN our internal framework whispers or shouts at us, to inform us –

A storm is on the way….

But also whispers,

Where are you going to be when the storm hits?

For many? Depends on what prior agreements or future gains are to be made on the ‘go out/stay home’ options, best as they can surmise with the data they have now.

For those who have done before and still do, the above challenges?

I like to think they never fully forget the fury nor do they fail to appreciate the beauty of moisture when the storm arrives gently.

Or they move to live where blizzards and/or snow never happen, first chance they get.

Bearing Burdens with Grace

From my earliest memory, I recall the concern over wet spring snows and the damage that can be done to trees by those storms.

I still wonder – Do the trees bear the weight as long as the wind doesn’t show up insisting they bear the burden AND twist with dexterity in face of the wind’s whims?

Or do they break when hampered by additional drag AND a wind that insists they ‘go with the flow’?

I do not claim to know.

All I currently would profess to knowing is….

There are spring, wet, heavier snows. There are colder, dryer, more windswept winter snows.

And sometimes the boughs break and sometimes, they do not.

Many in my tribe have been taught well, early on, even before speech or walking or the yearning for self-determination, the realities as understood, on this topic.

We are taught gently and quietly, via a soothing voice and gentle hand, often in the dark of the night, the facts regarding that when the wind blows, our cradle will rock – when the bough breaks, our cradle will fall.

The lullaby doesn’t tell us exactly when the bough will break, or if we will survive the fall or not.

The Snow Falls, The Trees Stand

The evergreen pines this morning are, thus far, carrying the weight of wet spring snow with grace and aplomb and remind me each time I gaze out at them, that I too, have burdens to carry and perhaps my bough will break, perhaps I shall fall, but maybe…

I am strong enough to carry the weight, until it melts away or the wind shows up.

If the Wind shows up and demands I twist & turn in agility, submission, while carrying the weight, and I go with the flow?

I may survive it –

I may Break and Fall –

Perhaps, I shall break here and there, but remain standing.

Who knows?

Certainly not I…

But springtime snow storms remind me, perhaps, all I need do is stand still and wait.

It’s Colder now

As the front moves through in all the ways I do not understand, scientifically, I feel the air on my face and realize, it is colder now, than it was near dawn.

A streak of black captures my eye and I watch one of the calico feral cats, bound across the white expanse that must appear bigger to them, than to I.

And then pause,to gaze right back in my direction, though I haven’t moved yet.

The latest generation of adults, from long ago calico who first brought her babies here to raise.

Their mother or grandmother sat and gazed in my direction, often, in other moments of years past, in much the same way.

Quizzically, as if to see, what shall I do?

Simply assessing if I’m a threat?

Wondering if I’m capable to go out and hunt up breakfast in snow all by myself?

I give up trying to ‘think I know what the cat might be thinking’ and instead, snap a picture.

The cat, as if their patience with my photo taking has been rewarded quickly, turns quickly away and bounds through the snow across the alley, perhaps on their way to ‘hunt up some breakfast’ from my neighbor’s woodpile?

Given the great reduction of needing to set mouse traps in my home this past year it occurs to me perhaps they have ‘hunted’ my place out or the local rodent population has figured out my place isn’t the safest place to hide/set up housekeeping.

Who knows?

Certainly not me.

I can only observe and strive to remember what I observe – both in the past and as time goes by.

One Front Wanes

I returned once more to work , and a few hours later, realize- this storm front has passed for now…

The air and room are not as cold. More light fills house from outdoors.

I gaze outdoors to find a driveway cleared – no shoveling or plowing – it’s darker ground, heat sink (?) and engineered long ago layers means, it’s melting before the flora areas are.

The doorway shoveled so very early this morning is no longer shoveled and again covered in white, but just for a ways….

The roof that repels sun in summertime, manages to melt up and ‘shed it’s weight right onto growing beds – except for those areas of pesky doorways – that must be removed…..

And, despite a life fashioned to work from home, no livestock to care for outside, I must monitor my doorstep and the first 6 feet of walk way today.

For I haven’t yet decided how to rebuild the porch/walkway for optimum functionality over what was here when I moved in 8+ years ago (!) and for now?

Needs moved, for snow/snowmelt not removed today, while it’s warm, will turn into hockey rink to walk across as night temps continue to re-freeze what melted a few short hours before….

Now I must return to work

I am reminded, once again….

Trees keep on being trees – cats keep being cats if I don’t insist on domesticating them…and me?

I am given grace and beauty –

That beckons to me ….always…..

From right outside the door.

Happy Spring!

No matter what the calendar/astronomy/astrology or the cosmos says, I rarely ‘celebrate spring’ just when I’m ‘supposed to’.

Spring is Heralded at Bally Bin when….

The rhubarb and irises poke their heads out to do their ‘own’ thing.

Easter and Mother’s Day are heralded by the lilac bush putting on buds, and/or getting nipped in the bud – at which point, I cry and think…’maybe next year!’

Tomorrow?

I’ll be outside walking the place and looking carefully at mulched areas and eagerly hoping for any SMALL sign from perennial plants that Spring as actually arrived –

For today?

After seeing so many other posts sharing Spring Heralds, Well Wishes and Celebrations of Spring – well – I just had to post what dreams I have and remember, as I yearn for spring.

Some years, the dreams show up – some years, I miss the moment they arrived and others? I spend Spring and Summer, hoping my neglect in supplemental watering or keeping bindweed at bay in some areas, hasn’t ‘killed the dream’ of what could be.

Below then, are past photos of spring and summer.

A reminder to myself of what Spring flora so often deliver on, all while, overall, my memory of them in my heart and brain, keeps m ‘dreaming, yearning, hoping’ year round.

No matter what the calendar, temperature, forecast says or when it says so, for my locale – the beauty of past springs and summers whispers to me to “Remember!” –

To lose my faith even those times when both my internal and external worlds, feel ‘stuck’ in the perpetual dormancy of winter.

Hope this finds you and yours well.