Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Life Last Week #1

It seems like I'm always behind on The Week Ahead so I thought it would be easier to tag along with Mrs. M's Meanderings' Life Last Week series of posts.  So much easier to think about what I actually did, rather than what I might be doing!
I started off the week with Mah Jongg.  I am really enjoying getting to know the other spouses in the group, most of whom are living their post-Navy days here in Washington.  The game is interesting, not at all like that online game which is more like the children's Memory (matching) Game.  I suppose you could say it's a bit like gin rummy or Phase 10 with tiles.  There are dozens of possible winning hands and that's where it gets tricky.  Most of the group have been playing for years and have the hands memorized, while I spend my time flipping through the handbook, trying to figure out what direction to take!
Tuesday was a brunch at my house for the Pacific Northwest Mustang Spouses.  I was hoping to find a similar group of ladies to the group we had in Hampton Roads but response was slim and then two cancelled at the last minute so it ended up being just four of us.  It was fun, though, and nice to get to know two new spouses who are already signed up for next month's lunch.  I guess I'll put the events out there and see who responds.
I spent the rest of the week running around gathering up items to take to Sophia.  It was the Fall Family Open House at Western on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and although due to Sophia's community service project and Vic's work schedule, we were only able to make a quick trip for the day on Saturday, she had quite a laundry list of things for me to bring.  Since we were only going for part of the day, we took MudLynn with us and that made Sophia very happy.

A busy week although not a very exciting one.  The weather has been a bit grey and rainy, which I love, so I've been able to get some scrapbooking sorted in preparation for a November scrapbook challenge.  A Page a Day or Seven Pages in a Week should help me get the 2007 New England Travels with Janet album completed.  Looking forward to two craft clubs that I'm hosting next month; two more opportunities to crop with like-minded crafters which is always fun.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Visit to the Library

Finally made it to the local library for a stash and what a variety!
Christmas with Southern Living 2012 to get ready for the Christmas Countdown
At Home with Beatrix Potter for some trip planning
London's War just because I love the World War II era in England
Three novels - French Lessons, Lunch in Paris, and An Untamed Heart.  Couldn't put An Untamed Heart down; love Lauraine Snelling's Red River of the North series and this is the prequel.  A great read.

I've also downloaded the audio version of Year of Wonders which is this month's selection for the book club I have joined.

Happy reading and/or listening!

Christmas is coming!

It's Day 1 of the Christmas Countdown over at Organized Christmas!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Journal Jar Q48: Write About Your Favorite Job, Part II

Sophia and I left Saipan in 1995 and I didn't work again until 1999.  I was busy being a stay-at-home mom and when Sophia went off to preschool, a full-time student.  I finally completed my Bachelor's degree, not in business or nursing or elementary education (all of which I had pursued at one time), but in history, my favorite subject.  19th and 20th Century European History to be exact.

Program Support Clerk, Patient Financial Services and Secretary to the Chief of Staff, Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), North Chicago, Illinois

We moved to Great Lakes in 1999 and with Sophia off to kindergarten, I found a job at the VAMC in the Patient Financial Services department.  It was pretty dull as I spent my whole day calling veterans to remind them of their upcoming appointments as an excuse to update their records.  I don't think they do this anymore; I can certainly see that they might encounter resistance at asking for so much information over the phone.  You just can't be too careful these days.  I worked in this department for a year when I saw an advertisement in the local newspaper for the position of Secretary to the Chief of Staff.  Because it would mean jumping up two pay grades, I had to apply as if I was outside the VA system.  The position had been posted internally but there had not been any successful candidates.  I interviewed for the job and was hired.  I didn't realize at the time that this position made me number three in the secretarial hierarchy on the executive floor but it didn't change the way I worked or the way I interacted with people.  There was a lot of politics on the executive floor but I stayed away from that and earned the respect of those who worked above and below me.  I loved my boss; the Chief of Staff was an amazing man and I was very sorry to leave when my parents decided to move to Illinois to stay with us.  I got a lot of kudos for giving up my job to take care of my elderly parents although it was something I really wanted to do and since my Mum died shortly thereafter, it was a blessing that I got the opportunity to spend that time with them.

Administrative Assistant, First Command Financial Planning, Virginia Beach, Virginia

We moved to Virginia in 2003 and I started work in 2004 as the Administrative Assistant to one of the financial planning agents.  I worked here about six months and although I liked my boss, I didn't care for the work.  I didn't feel that they had given me adequate training to be dealing with transactions involving people's money and I just never felt connected.  It really was a cutthroat business, all about the commissions, and I was glad when I decided to leave.

That was my last paid job.  I've done a lot of volunteer work between then and now but never felt the need or desire to go back to work.  I did look, briefly, when we moved to Virginia after leaving Rhode Island in 2012, but the electronic age has run right over me and being able to put 100% into a job just wasn't possible when I had Sophia's senior year and college admission process to oversee.  I enjoyed volunteering, as it was something I could do for a few hours while Vic was at work and Sophia was at school.  Working full-time would have been impossible with the schedules we kept.

My favorite?  I'd have to say working for the Chief of Staff at the VAMC.  We had a lot of good laughs in our office while getting the work done and I have nothing but the fondest memories of that time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Journal Jar Q48: Write About Your Favorite Job, Part I

It's been ages since I posted - I've been in a real blog funk lately but as I was surfing through my favorite blogs, I found this post to jump-start my return to blogging.  I love Caroline's blog, Mrs. M's Meanderings, and her Journal Jar posts are a great read.  I'm going to follow her lead and give you, as she said, a whistlestop tour of my working life.

Cashier - Presto's Supermarket, Whitefield, England

I started working part-time when I was studying for my A-levels.  We had gone to the supermarket one weekend when Mum noticed a sign at the customer service desk.  I applied and joined a group of about ten new employees who were assigned to various parts of the store.  I became a cashier and my new friends Sue and Brendan reported to the produce and meat sections respectively.  I worked Thursday and Friday evenings and all day Saturday.  I can't remember how much the job paid, not much I'm sure but I do remember that the wages were in cash.  I loved working as a cashier; I was good at my job and built up quite a following of customers who would stand in my line a little longer than some of the shorter lines because I always had a smile and a cheery hello for them.  After the store closed, we did various jobs until the end of our shift like sweeping or restocking shelves.  I loved the canteen lunches on Saturday - the ladies there made the best cheese and onion sandwiches.  I worked there less than a year and left to work full-time when I decided that A-levels and I were not going to get on.

Travel Clerk - Albany Travel, Manchester, England

I can't remember how I came to work at Albany Travel.  I left school and must have been looking for work and I found this position.  It paid ridiculously low (I remember that Mum gave me bus fare and lunch money so who knows what I did with my wages) but I enjoyed the work making rail, hotel, and ferry reservations and I had wonderful co-workers.  We were just up the street from Granada Studios so I can remember making bookings for several actors and actresses.  I left there after Mum talked me into going back to school - a course called Foreign Correspondents at the local technical college.  It was secretarial with languages and I lasted a year there before we moved to California.

Dispatcher/Customer Service Representative/Accounting Clerk/Administrative Assistant/Office Manager/Marketing Manager - State TV Cable/Cooke CableVision/Chambers Cable, Chico, California

We moved to California in 1978 and Dad had an interview at the local cable company.  I went along for the ride and waited for him in the car (it was August and there was no air conditioner).  He and the Office Manager decided he was over-qualified for the job and spent a considerable time chatting instead.  When Dad was ready to leave, he asked her if she would give me a few pointers on job hunting and so in I came, sweaty and no doubt pretty grubby looking.  I was very surprised when she called a few days later and asked if I was interested in a job!  I worked in the cable industry in California for twelve years, starting as a dispatcher and working my way through a variety of positions.  I loved them all, my co-workers were fabulous and I really enjoyed my time there.  I left to move to San Francisco, returned to Chico shortly thereafter, and went back to school for a semester before returning to the cable industry.

The launch of our first premium channel - Showtime (1979?) - before that, your biggest decision was whether to have one outlet or two!

Administrative Assistant to the General Manager - silk dress now instead of a T-shirt with a slogan - this was my birthday in 1991

Office Manager, Guam Cable TV, Guam and Administrative Manager, Saipan Cable TV, Saipan

I was going to school when I got a call from my former boss (I was his Administrative Assistant above).  In the shuffle from State TV Cable to Cooke CableVision and then to Chambers Cable, he had lost his job in that top management shuffle that goes on in big business, and he ended up as the General Manager in Saipan.  Where?  I had to look it up on a map.  I loved working for him and I jokingly said that if he ever needed an Administrative Assistant again, call me.  About a week later, I got a call from his boss (in Guam), asking me if I would be interested in interviewing for the Office Manager position.  Guam?  Why not?  If I didn't like it, I could come back to California, but if I didn't go, I might never know what I was missing.  Off I went for the interview and three weeks later, I was off to Guam.  I stayed about a month and then they transferred me to Saipan for a month to fill in for their Office Manager while she was on a month-long vacation.  I came back to Guam, armed with a report on all the things in Saipan that could be done more efficiently and four weeks later, I was transferred back to Saipan permanently.

It was an interesting four years during which time I met and married Vic, Sophia was born, Vic joined the Navy and we eventually moved back to the States.  The company was in financial difficulty and woefully mismanaged but we hobbled along.  When the end was near, the Navy opportunity came along for Vic and off he went to basic training and his first assignment in Florida.  Sophia and I stayed in Saipan until I completed my employment contract and then we joined him.  The company folded soon after.

Customer Service Department - 1992
I'm going to break this into two posts - more tomorrow.