Month: January 2015

Other Words Beginning with ‘Re”

It’s January 27th and I finally mailed the package of Christmas gifts home. It’s very late, it’s true, but not entirely my fault. The gifts were all ordered nice and early, but complications with new addresses and post offices that automatically return mail created a snarl of confusion that I didn’t have the time or energy to tease out until after the new year began. Then, there was the sprained wrist interfering with planned crafting projects, time spent awaiting refunds and re-ordered items, and the wrapping paper sending itself to my billing address instead of my shipping address. I’ve had too many changed locations in the past years and it confuses Amazon, apparently. Sadly, the gift box is not expected to be received at home base until Friday, which means that the brother and sister who are driving out to Washington that day will likely experience even further delay in gifting arrival. At least I’m not burdening them with the items just before they’re trying to move their household?

– short break from writing to greet my chef from last winter, who unexpectedly appeared in the Starbucks I’m currently using as a writing base. It’s always strange to run across chefs in street clothes, and even stranger to see them outside of their restaurants. But it’s nice to run into former acquaintances here and there in this wilderness of strangers. –

After several weeks of avoiding the cold that my roommates and co-workers have been passing around, I’ve finally succumbed. Fortunately, I packed my handkerchief drawer and am well prepared for this mini-crisis. Work has been running at a very relaxed pace during my sore-throat days so far and I’m trying to use my days off to rest up as well as possible, since the schedule is up for the first two weeks of February and looks a bit scary. The Alpine World Skiing Championships may not affect our restaurant very directly, as we are nicely exclusive and the public can’t get in – but since our paychecks come from the mountain dining department here in Beaver Creek, we’re expected to pitch in with some out-of-restaurant work. It’s all being managed by our chef, so there isn’t much adjustment from my perspective, although the added stress on the management team is not always reassuring.

February is also going to be a much busier party season than January was, so the possibility for switch shifts and doubles is much increased. As it is, for the first two weeks, I have a nine-day stretch with three doubles, followed by a single day off, then a five-day stretch with three more doubles. 90% of the kitchen staff will be working six-days-a-week and the chef has scheduled himself for seven day weeks. As long as the restaurant continues to serve lower numbers, the double shifts and outside tasks should still remain under Christmas stress levels, although if I had my choice, I would not be headed into this fortnight with sneeze attacks hitting every half-hour. At least the cast is off my wrist and I’ve regained most of my right arm functions. I even took the trash out at end-of-shift yesterday, which proves I am greatly recovered. And no, I am not re injuring it, when an activity truly hurts or even irritates it, I back off and find alternate approaches.

This seems to be another work-focused post, but there isn’t much going on with me right now that isn’t work-focused. Midwinter doldrums come and go, although there has been a great deal of blue sky warm weather here this month. Sadly, it causes more whining among the skiing enthusiasts than joy among those of us who would prefer that slippage chances continue to decrease with the ice sculptured lumps melting off sidewalks and staircases.
Work at least passes the calendar days quickly and I can mix my excitement over visiting parents, new babies, and final trips home into one grand countdown. On the other hand, between ramping up and down from busy stretches and my personal health issues, I have yet to accomplish any of the CAP homework that I am due to complete this winter. I should bring that up again with the chef, I suppose? Some of it is true homework, which means that as long as he can supply me with the raw data, I can convert it to a finished project on my own time, if I happen to have any available. Other parts have details which require the chef’s participation or use of software that is really only present on work computers. Hopefully I don’t end up needing to sacrifice any of my days off to visit the work computer interface, but this may be the rotation where I have to present a planning schedule to the chef, since even on the slow days when I’ve suggested beginning to look over the materials it seems to slip his mind. He has remembered to ask me to stay for the summer and/or return to work at the cabin next winter, which opportunities I have more or less declined while attempting to conceal my enthusiasm at having no commitments to live away from home base after the mountain closes in April.

It’s about time to start serious job-hunting/living-planning for my post-Vail adventures. My parental figures have never yet seemed poised to kick me out to starve in the streets, but sometimes pre-emptive maneuvers are the best defense. The best defense is a good offense? Or is it the best offense is a good defense? Either way, while I’ve counted down almost every day of this two-year contract, it has certainly kept my post-college life and career path choices down to a minimum. Now I have to re-evaluate and reconnoiter and other words beginning with ‘re’.

To Stress or to Sleep? Why Not Both?

The town has passed the low point of the post-Christmas holiday’s slow down. Now everything is gearing back up toward the world championships here the first two weeks of February. Signs are going up and advertisements are getting hung and everyone is beginning to speculate about exactly how much increased business and pressure the event is going to bring to their particular job.

My restaurant doesn’t expect a huge leap in guests during the time period, but our February was already going to be a busy time. Not necessarily due to regular service, which should still be hovering at a very manageable 60-120 people per lunch, but because of buy-out events in the evenings. This is where the single shift regular operation schedule starts to hurt a bit more. There is no evening crew to cover events, so I expect to work a fair number of doubles during the month. Of course, since the line closes down after 2:30, the doubles aren’t as difficult as they might otherwise be. The break between service and party can be focused entirely on preparing for the night’s event and three or four cooks dedicated to one project can make a lot of progress in three and a half hours.

On top of twenty-six nights of the months having some sort of scheduled event (based on my info from a month ago, which is honestly horribly out of date), the chef, sous-chef, and general manager of the restaurant are expected to spend some of their working hours away from the cabin, helping with food vending at the world championship event. The chef keeps teasing me about being in charge while they’re off doing whatever they end up doing, which I interpret as ‘you won’t have more authority, but please, enjoy some extra responsibility during this coming time of trial.’ Which is an extra reason to hope and pray that the orthopedic surgeon removes the cast tomorrow and gives me permission to do whatsoever my heart desires with that arm.

Work has gone better than I expected, for my right wrist being so restrained, but there are still certain activities that I am accustomed to being able to accomplish and it’s frustrating to discover that they’re still beyond my reach. Plus, I can tell when an activity has become significantly less efficient due to the cast’s interference. Knife work is one of those things that I can do, but not with the proper form, which would lead to faster accomplishment of tasks and less time stress in my days.

The many subtle stresses throughout the day when I can’t perform what I would consider a normal task (hair washing, dish washing, floor washing, cleanliness in general, really) are joining with the onset of a cold and the threats of another hectic couple of weeks to make me want to sleep constantly and avoid people and outside activities. I’ve held to that plan of action for the past two weeks and feel that it has been quite successful at keeping me relatively happy and healthy.

So as long as my scaphoid cooperates, I’m feeling fairly satisfied with how geared up I am for the oncoming weeks. Busy is hard, but it makes the time here alone fly by all the faster. And the paychecks fatter, which I never complain about.

Experiments in Poetry

Having one hand in a cast doesn’t seem to be particularly detrimental to either inspirational flow, or typing ability at this point. So here are six poems in the six poetical forms I was inspired to play with today.


Form: Rondeau
Rules: Strictish, number of stanzas and lines in the stanzas and which lines rhymes with which are dictated by the form. To be a rondeau, it must be a three stanza poem, with the first stanza rhyming aabba, the second rhyming aab, and the third aabba. Some portion of the first line is repeated as a refrain at the end of the second and third stanzas.

Lost Rondeau

Buried deep depths deep, bad news forgotten in the past
Sneaking came upon you, but dropped behind just as fast
Ethereal and substance-less, a random thing of life
Panic of the moment, brushed off spot of strife
Unexpected, expelled, bad news doesn’t last

Worst news is cold, frozen, icicle waves so vast
You see your breath in its looming face, aghast
And plug your ears against its shrill, eerie fife
Buried deep depths deep

You would steer out of its path, but you’ve lost your ballast
Tall ship on raging water, speeding forward without a mast
Huddle behind bathroom doors, sit so still, yet the knife
Of it is carried with you. In silence and storm the pain rife
So tangible, no easing air to gasp and lighten heart forcast
Buried deep depths deep

Form: Tanka
Origin: Japanese in origin, like the haiku, the tanka is also syllable based, comprising five lines with 5/7/5/7/7 syllables and was apparently used by courting couples. Early form of texting emojis? The goal is to have it be one continuous thought, with the first three lines focused on an image and the last two discussing emotional response to the image.

Code of Tanka

List lies blank on page
Form still uninterpreted
aabb strict
codes that will become flowing
thoughts spoken from inner heart

Form: Triolet
Mood During Writing: Whimsical. Triolets only require that you write five lines, but you’re supposed to repeat them until the poem is eight lines long. My repeating poems always seem to force themselves into moodiness or a Dr. Seuss type of style. Line A, Line B, rhyme a, Line A, rhyme a, rhyme b, Line A, Line B, for anyone (besides me) who wants to know the rules.

Triolet of a Hookless Cookess

There once was a one-handed cook
Trip, fall, splash, and slide
Without the saving grace of a shiny hook
There once was a one-handed cook
Couldn’t even hold a recipe book
Yet somehow the calamari still got fried
There once was a one-handed cook
Trip, fall, splash, and slide

Form: Terza Rima
Meanderings: This poem has an endless form, as in, you could keep writing within its strictures as long as you could find a rhyme from the previous stanza’s center line. Three line stanzas repeat forever, or until you stop abruptly. Alternatively, apparently some English writers like to wrap things up with a couplet. I repeated the 1st and 3rd lines because they seemed to fit, but it’s not an actual part of the form. So, to summarize, the rhyme goes like this – aba bcb cdc ded, efe, fgf (or ff)

Wanderer’s Terza Rima

Mountains, white and cobblestoned
Or wooden boardwalks warmed in sun
For the past years I have roamed

Meeting the bears is a special kind of fun
Leaves the blood racing for hours
They leisurely pose, you stare and can’t run

Summertime under a sky that glowers
With snow clouds in July
But still creates bowers full of wildflowers

And in the winter you can lie
In the powder and stare at bright blue
An open, glowing bowl of sky

Sweating on the steep hikes, rue
Not eating dinner beforehand
But lose all regrets when you see the view

Icicles the size of a man demand
Personification, as they lean down
Toward the drifts that hide hard land

The folds of valley, skirts of a gown
The untouchable peaks snow-combed
Creating a magnificent crown

Mountains white and cobblestoned
For the past years I have roamed

Form: Bop
Dance moves: This style is apparently rather new and also lacks very precise rules. In fact, the descriptions that I found differed from the examples they proffered. My interpretation, after looking at both description and example was that rhyming pattern doesn’t matter, first stanza is generally five lines, second is eight, and last is six. A refrain line occurs at the end of each stanza. First stanza sets up a problem, second develops it, third resolves it. Sounds kind of like fantasy trilogies, eh?

Crusoe’s Be-bop

Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up
Which way is up again?
My sense of direction is corrupt
It says that down is East, but I’ve lain
Here so long looking for the West, it’s too abrupt.

I’ve trapped myself in my own mind

I think I’m laughing and it makes me sad
I sit in gloom and feel instantly glad
Imagination is rocking my boat
But while I cling seasick to the sides I gloat
Because even if I get stranded I have this goat
That I can milk and then I’ll make cheese
Like Swiss Family Robinson, I’ll dig a moat
Around a trickster’s house and let blow the breeze

I’ve trapped myself inside my own mind

Ah, that would be a stomach growl
Not a wild beast’s howl
How long have I lingered with the jungle fowl
Of my overgrown thoughts and the coffee-hyped
Meanderings my restless fingers typed?
It’s probably time to buy a vowel

I’ve trapped myself inside my own mind

Form: Pantoum
Frustrations: I enjoy all the example pantoums that I’ve seen when copying down poem rules from various internet databases, but they’re hard to write to my own satisfaction. The second and fourth lines of every stanza repeat as the first and third of following stanza. That much repetition means that you have to refine each line really well and/or give in and fidget a couple of words in the line to change the meaning. As soon as you start, you have find a theme that can develop multiple meanings easily and the first line wraps around to become the ending refrain, so you can’t stray too far from the initial thought. There’s probably a better pantoum lurking in my backbrain, but I couldn’t coax it out today, so you get this one, inspired by my effort to write itself after I was almost poetried out for the day.
Four line stanzas, repeating as follows:
Line 1, Line 2, Line 3, Line 4
Line 2, Line 5, Line 4, Line 6
Line 5, Line 7, Line 6, Line 8
Line 7, Line 9, Line 8, Line 10
etc., ending with Line 1

Pantoum in Motion

Momentum still carries you forward
Even when you’ve lost your will
Sometimes you’re headed homeward
Sometimes it’s getting further away still

Even when you’ve lost your will
Your goals still linger in distant profile
Sometimes getting further away still
Although you’ve been striving for a long while

Your goals linger in distant profile
Enticing in pictures of the future
Although you’ve been striving for a long while
In time you’ll taste them, you feel sure

Enticing pictures of the future
Feeding from past well completed
In time you’ll taste them, you feel sure
And lie back, content, repleted

In the past, goals completed
Gallery of triumphs urging you onward
No time to lie back, content, repleted
Race even harder, the memories hoard

Momentum still carries you forward

The Most Occult Scaphoid (and its fashion choices)

I live in Idaho for 22 years. Everything is going along swimmingly. I graduate college and decide to issue forth and explore the world for a while and what do I get in return for my trouble? My first ever cast. Well, new experiences are what I was looking for, right?

The story of the injury is brief and unexciting. I’d survived my twelve day streak of holiday madness work shifts, and languidly shuffled around the town and apartment during my two days off. After a nine hour shift on Wednesday, I joyously realized that my energy pack was not yet drained and decided to start fitting runs back into my weekly schedule. Something about thirteen hour days and 300 person meals had briefly dimmed the appeal of outside exercise, but now it sounded fun again. I jogged and walked intervals up to the top of Beaver Creek Village and then started back toward the apartment. About halfway down the trail, my balance decided that while that icy spot hadn’t been an issue and that snow patch was navigable, this particular combination of winter hazards was unacceptable and sent both of my feet flying forward in a synchronized maneuver that left me seated on icy pavement with the dawning realization that I had fallen. Disgruntled from the clumsiness, shock of unanticipated pain, and snow damp seeping through my thin meshed running clothes, I growled a few words at the nasty hill, shook myself out and resumed the intervals.

I quickly realized that although I had fallen on my rump and both hands, the only body part that wasn’t backing off of its initial pain levels was my right wrist. I experimented with range of motion, inspected it for signs of scraping, bruising, and swelling, then decided that it was just jarred and called my sister to whine about the deceptive traction levels of iced-over pavement.

As the evening wore on, the appearance of my wrist went from fine, on to slightly swollen, on to a nickel-sized lump appearing on one side, just below my thumb joint. My medical consultant of choice, Mother Hen, recommended x-rays, but said if I could sleep though the current levels of pain, it could wait until the next day.

Thursday morning, I decided to go ahead and catch the snowcat up to work, just to see if I could function in the kitchen. Just getting my hair up into a bun had been a painful trial, so I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the longer I stayed at work, with my right hand either hanging by my side or cradled into my stomach, the worse the pain seemed to become. Seventy percent of the projects I would have considered became “oh, no, don’t you dare,”s from my throbbing hand and the thirty I did accomplish felt slow and pathetic. This was not helped by the co-worker hovering around every corner telling me not to do that or that he would finish this. I was beginning to feel pointless and distracting in addition to pained and inefficient.

Ziploc bags were a trial, I almost cried trying to work gloves on and off my left hand and after the first attempt, didn’t even worry about gloving my right. I could, barely, stand to support the weight of a knife in my right hand, but couldn’t twist my wrist far enough to hold it correctly, much less apply enough force to actually cut anything with it. After two hours of makeshift salad tossing and sandwich assembling, accidentally tweaking my wrist every ten minutes, I told the sous-chef I was useless and said if he would let me go, I would get my opinion verified by a doctor. After being ushered out of work with a combination of well-wishes, overbearing advice, and speculation on what my actual injury might be, I headed down the hill to the gondola.

Stress, pain, and paranoia are not good walking companions, if anyone was wondering. I called my mother to discuss insurance cards, since my latest copy was supposedly in Idaho, and after she reminded me that she was in Oregon, I called my brother and asked him to rummage through my mail while he was housesitting. With a call to my older sister to keep me distracted, I made my way down to the HR office. Here, I explained my plight of not being familiar with the area, not having a car with me, and not being sure if my ‘new’ hire paperwork at the beginning of the season had changed any insurance details.

After exclaiming that my wrist was “jacked” and surely broken, the HR lady settled down into a more helpful mode, conducting a monologue as she decided whether to call Urgent Care, or Colorado Medical Something Group before settling on an orthopedic office. “You’d just end up there anyway,” she declared across the room to me as she dialed. I sat and listed in a zoned-out fashion as she asked whether this doctor or that doctor was available, enquired after the birth of their babies, explained that she knew they were ankle specialists, but would they look at a wrist this once?, and finally procured me a 2:30 appointment in Vail. Wonderfully, the office ended up being in the U.S. Bank building, which was a place I knew exactly how to navigate to and the stress of having to locate a strange building on a deadline without a car was instantly lifted.

During this interval, the second HR worker had run over to Starbucks and procured a gallon of ice for me to lay across my wrist (and hand, and entire arm beneath the elbow, by the time it settled) and another, seemingly random, Beaver Creek employee had wandered through, pulled my chair off to the side counter and helped me elevate the injured arm.

Thus fussed over, I headed back to the apartment feeling somewhat diffused, although slightly more panicky over the thought of broken bones. I should have broken an arm trying to fly or a leg playing soccer back when I had childspeed healing and a centralized sympathy system, rather than face the threat of a broken wrist alone with a job that requires mobility from both hands. Serrendipitously, I came across a roommate at the bus stop, who insisted on carrying my backpack and the bag of ice that was now traveling with me, which made the isolation seem less extreme.

A pleasantly distracting Skype conversation with my one-year-old niece (“hi, hi, hi. Hi!” “Hi, Cori, how are you?” Flirtatious grin from urchin. “Hi,hihihihi, hi.”) passed most of the dead hours between making the appointment and having to prepare for and transport to it. Her mother may have contributed to the conversation here and there, as well… The bus ride to Vail was not pleasant, motion and pain combined to make my preferred method of distraction a no-go and I slipped the book back into my bag and stared out the window for twenty minutes instead. It was fun, though, to arrive in Vail and recognize locations.

I arrived at the office twenty minutes early, which was fortunate, since there were about twenty forms which needed to be filled out. One of the ‘girls in back’ sat with me and transcribed my answers until it was time for my awkward left-hand signatures. Then there were three x-rays, in manageable posiotions, and the PA came in. Being a medical professional, he looked at the swollen lump on my hand, poked it and asked me if it hurt. He took my exclamation of pain and recoil as an affirmative and decided that the first set of x-rays had been too easy. The fourth x-ray required pain, but ended up not showing much more than the original set. The PA explained his diagnosis, the possible options, and then disappeared. With my wrist elevated on my lab and a non-jouncing seat, I pulled out my book and amused myself for the fifteen to twenty minutes I awaited the doctor.

The doctor was slightly sneakier than the PA, poking the opposite side of my arm, opposite side of my hand, thumb, and under my knuckles before landing a finger on the swelling. Again, my jerk and cry seemed to make him realize that I didn’t appreciate the gesture and he, too, explained the theory.

My hand/wrist had enough welling and tenderness that they expected something to be broken, but all of the bones they could see clearly in the x-rays looked fine. It was possible that it was simply a bad sprain, but also possible that I had an occult (the PA took pains to explain that this didn’t mean it was Satanic) fracture of my scaphoid (bone between thumb and radius). Either I could schedule a nicely expensive MRI to determine instantly, or cast the wrist up for two weeks and take more x-rays after the cast came off. So, being the traditionally in-debt college graduate that I am, my right wrist is now in a stylish little black cast. In two weeks I will either have a healed sprain, or a fracture that they recommend casting for two months or, for a quicker fix, inserting a screw into. So now we wait.

Sadly, most kitchen tasks are designed for people with three or four hands. With ingenuity and experience, they can be managed with two hands, an elbow here and there and the occasional chin maneuver. In past kitchens, I’ve viewed people attempting to function one-handed and never been struck by an impression of efficiency or efficacy. Culinary paperwork is all well and good, but I doubt it can be stretched into 80 hours worth of busywork for the incapacitated employee. Not expecting to get much done on my leisure projects either – left handed running stitches might be possible, but I get frustrated with the sewing speed of my right hand, so unless the left has some hidden genius it’s ready to bust out…

Fortunately, I’ve already received offers of rescue should I end up unable to work and my pain levels seem to be decreasing, so I shall not yet despair.