Monday, December 04, 2006

Coffee Kvetching at the Office

It’s amazing—coffee plays such a pivotal role in the life of the office. Every coffee drinker puts their stuff down in their cubicle and then heads straight for the coffee pot. And each of them has a comment about the quality of the coffee, even though the exact same kind of coffee is available each and every day. Some days it’s too strong, some days it’s too weak. Some days, they’re convinced it’s decaf. Quite a few march around the kitchen demanding to know who made this pot of coffee. Every one of them has to express their thoughts about the coffee out loud. On the rare day when no one has made coffee yet when they come in, dramatic sighs and prickly profanity are emitted from the break room. One horrible, no good, very bad day, there was no coffee to be found anywhere in the building. You would have thought the world was coming to and end. Needless to say, no work was done until a new shipment arrived.

Demographic observations:
There are the singers who go skipping to the break room, singing “coffee, coffee, coffee,” as they go.

There are the stumblers, who barely make it to the coffee pot in one piece.

There are the gabbers, who slowly pour the coffee into their mugs and linger about the coffee maker, hoping that someone else will come by who they can talk to for a while.

Some days, people bring their own coffee from home. They make a pot, and tell only their friends about it. “If you want good coffee, you better get in there quick.”

Now, a certain group has seceded from the office coffee altogether. They’ve corralled an empty cubicle and put their own coffee maker in there. They take turns bringing good coffee and sharing it among the select few who have been given the secret password.

I think I'll go make a cup of green tea now and enjoy the simple life.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Post-Thanksgiving Breakfast at Venita Rhea’s in Rocklin

Venita Rhea’s
Address: 4415 Granite Drive, Rocklin, CA 95677
Hours: Open for breakfast and lunch (7 am to 3 pm daily; breakfast served all day)

It was the Friday after Thanksgiving and we had 11 hungry relatives looking for a good place for breakfast. This isn’t an easy-to-please, go-with-the-flow crowd: in our family, we’ve got vegetarians, sophisticated tastes, ethnic and religious preferences, teens, seniors, you name it. Therefore, not any old place will do. So, what was the first place we thought of? One of our favorite local places—Venita Rhea’s! We called them at 7:30 on Friday morning, and they gave us reservations for 9:15 later that morning.

We were seated promptly in the airy, cheerful dining space decorated with quirky murals of French street scenes; while waiting for our meals to arrive, we had fun searching for the tiny cartoon characters hidden in the murals. The casual and comfortable atmosphere encouraged easy conversation, a slow perusal of the menu, and a couple of extra minutes lingering over the dark, rich coffee.

Venita Rhea’s is all about sophisticated home-style cooking, with large portions, fresh ingredients, and beautiful presentation. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch daily; we were impressed with the bountiful collection of omelettes, benedicts, and assorted pancakes, waffles, and French toast plates on the breakfast menu.

I ordered the Mary Sue Benedict: poached eggs, avocado slices, asparagus stalks, sliced tomatoes, and Béarnaise sauce served on a toasted Health Nut English muffin, with a side order of home fries. The ingredients complemented each other perfectly; the eggs were a bit undercooked for my personal taste, so next time I order this dish, I will ask them to cook them a little longer.

My husband ordered his usual two, two & two: two extra large eggs, two pieces of bacon or sausage, and two pancakes or French toast. He always orders the chicken apple sausage, and raves about it for a week.

Among our party of eleven, we ordered a lot of different things: scrumptious omelettes, light and fluffy pancakes, colorful fruit cups, and more. Everyone was pleased with what they ordered.

Our young waitress was polite, prompt, and efficient. Coffee drinks were provided quickly, and orders were taken in a timely fashion. When one of us returned a dish (no fault of the restaurant—just a misunderstanding of the menu item), the waitress was unfazed. She returned frequently to see how we were doing, and the coffee was refreshed often.

The food is worth the price. Most breakfasts run in the 8-9-10 dollar range. (If you’re used to paying for the weekday special at Denny’s, you might be a bit surprised, but you get what you pay for!) When you’re in the Roseville/Rocklin area, Venita Rhea’s is easy to find: Take Hwy 80 to the Rocklin Rd. exit, go left on Rocklin Rd, then right on Granite Drive. Venita Rhea’s is on the right-hand side.
We will definitely go back often—we want to explore a lot more of the menu; and, we heartily recommend Venita Rhea’s to all of our friends.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dumbfounded by Dishes and Dustbunnies

Are teens inherently slobbish? I am trying to remember if I was as messy when I was a teen as my kids are now… my memory could be flawed, but I don’t think so. I don’t want to be able to tell what Hannah made for dinner last night by looking at the dishes in the sink. I would like to be able, just once, to walk past Rachel’s room and actually see the floor rather than clothes piled two feet high. I try to tell myself that the books, papers, and pens scattered all over the house mean that at least they are doing their homework, even if they are watching TV, eating a snack, and talking on the phone at the same time. But, still, is it so hard to take out the trash when it’s so full that not… one… more… thing will fit into it? Is it so difficult to put on a new roll of toilet paper? Is it so burdensome to empty the dishwasher just this once? There must be a part of the human brain governing cleanliness that doesn’t mature until offspring move out of their parents’ house. Ugh!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Theme song thoughts

Life continues to validate “Why am I such a Misfit?” as my own personal theme song. Me: quiet, contemplative, conscious of health and fitness, vegetarian, gym-goer, reader of books and magazines. Them: loquacious, glib, drinkers, smokers, overweight if not obese, carnivores, TV watchers. Sure, we share the commonalities of human existence: family life, traffic, American Idol. Is that enough to thrive in a cubicle hive?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Building Bridges between Two Faiths

Yesterday we finished up our High Holy Day food drive with a wonderful interfaith activity: the 4th and 5th graders at Temple Or Rishon's Sunday School each carried a bag of groceries across the alleyway to our neighbors at East Valley Church. EV runs a food closet, so it was exciting to be able to help local families in need. More importantly, it was a terrific feeling to be greeted by our church neighbors, and I hope it’s the start of many more events between our two congregations.

Bob Dylan in Concert—Fantastic!

The whole family went to see Bob Dylan in concert at Arco Arena in Sacramento last Wednesday night. I was genuinely thrilled to see such a rock icon live on stage. The music itself was fabulous—I love his new CD, his band was amazing, and being able to share it with the girls was terrific. Even the opening band, Kings of Leon, rocked the house. The people watching was worth the price of the ticket—slouchy young teens with stringy black bangs, middle aged guys in Dockers, aging hippies, you name it. Simply an amazing evening!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Exhaustion is life’s emergency broadcast system

In my image of myself, I have boundless energy, the ability to work long hours, and the flexibility to balance all that I want to do in life. Unfortunately, the older I get, the more this image deviates from real life. Thus, this morning I did something that I absolutely hate to do—admit to a client that I can’t be her editor any more. The need to implement exit strategies from commitments I have made is becoming a theme in my life right now, and I don’t like it. The only silver lining in this cloud is that, at the age of 45, I finally have the wisdom to know when it’s time to lighten the load. When I was younger, I would have struggled much longer to try to accomplish everything. I allow the waves of exhaustion to serve as an alert from my very own emergency broadcast system. Today I had to “duck and cover;” tomorrow I’ll be able breathe a little easier.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Back after a long hiatus

It's amazing what a new job will do to a person's blogging schedule. In my case, it completely obliterated my energy, desire, and time allotted to blogging for the past 9 weeks, but I might be back. At least, I'm back today. Life with teens continues to be fascinating, to say the least. Doug and I were supposed to go to Denver for a Heart Zones conference, and we decided we would risk letting the girls stay home alone with the dogs for the first time. Well, we got in one delightful afternoon in the Mile-High City. That delightfulness ended with a 2 am phone call from Hannah about drunken debauchery happening at our house, thanks to the Wild Child. I'll skip the tawdry details, but suffice to say that we changed our plans and returned to Sacramento on the next available flight. Rachel is pretty much grounded for the rest of the school year; we're disappointed, embarrassed, and angry; and we have to keep an eagle eye on her for the foreseeable future.

My dad turned 70 today--Happy Birthday, GT! Mortality looms for us all...

Looking forward to the Bob Dylan concert next week; I should probably listen to a couple new songs before then so I'm familiar with something he sings...

It's a lovely, warm autumn day; the leaves are turning; the wild turkeys were out in the field next to the PS office building; all is well.