Archive for October, 2012

Oct 30 2012

Wonderful Weekend

Published by under Jessica,Special Occasions,Sports

First things first: the Giants swept the Tigers to win the World Series on Sunday night! Coit Tower was orange in honor of the momentous occasion:

For those of you not in Northern California, or not in the know (or both), the Giants’ team colors are orange and black. Perfect for Halloween! You may recall that they won* their first World Series title ever two years ago, so let’s hope that this becomes a habit. I watched the victory parade in 2010, but this year it’s actually on Halloween, and I will be working and then working as part of Jessica’s auntourage as she trick or treats in the Village.

Unfortunately, the usual street fair featuring the acrobatics of the always fabulous Flynn Creek Circus will not be on the menu this year, and rain is expected, but we will still have fun.

Not that we need more fun…we already had a lot on the weekend. On Saturday, we had our swimming lessons. This time Jessica observed us as well as reading, and she told me that I was “quite graceful” in the water. Sallie, our swimming teacher, told me that I have a “very pretty stroke.” When I demurred, she said, “The correct answer is, “Thank you.” 🙂

Megan dropped me off at the jobette, returned to the pool to get Jessica showered and dressed, and then came back to the jobette with lunch for all of us. Swimming makes a girl really hungry, whether she’s 9 or 39. Or even more vintage.

It turned into Take a Kidlet to Work Day:

as Megan ran some errands and Jessica kept me company. Finally, Chauffeur (or Chauffeuse) Megan picked us both up and took us back to her house, where she made pizza starring her home-made pesto (made from the basil grown in the garden) and we watched “The Parent Trap”, which Jessica and I both enjoyed (I spared her the knowledge of Lindsay Lohan becoming a train wreck and the untimely death of the lovely Natasha Richardson). Jessica sat on my lap and I can still feel it today. I guess she’s getting too big for that but I don’t really want her to stop doing it.

On Sunday, Jessica came by for breakfast and we looked around in my jewelry box. Though fascinated by diamonds, she remains the most interested in the stories behind the pieces. She still has the ruby necklace my Dad brought me from India.

Our valiant chauffeur took us to the Big Town, where the Big Top was set up under blue skies:

The Zoppe Family Circus has been performing since 1842. Including the youngest family members, the 6th, 7th and 8th generations were on hand for a truly magical show.

There were acrobats, including the two smallest children, who looked to my untutored eye to be about 6 years old; jugglers:

fire dancers; performing dogs and chickens; and bareback horse riding:

We loved Nino the clown, and as we left, he gave Jessica a hug. The artists were outside the tent after the show, welcoming the audience for the later show and gracefully accepting the compliments of the departing audience.

We will always remember that magical afternoon.

*This post conveniently includes shots of the Flynn Creek Circus and Jessica’s Halloween outing that year.

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Oct 25 2012

Busy Day(s)


Waiting for the light to change

I arrived at the clinic at 4:40 yesterday afternoon, but I didn’t see the doctor until after 6:00. Fortunately, I had the latest Ruth Rendell (“Really, Megan, have you ever known me to be without a book?”), and the hell trip to Detroit this summer has made every other wait comparatively easy. Compared to four hours (or was it more?) at O’Hare or three or more at SFO in the middle of the night without even a glass of water, it was a joy. Maybe that trip has finally cured my chronic impatience.

Or not.

When I finally got in there, Dr. Sue, who is a friend of my sister’s and now officially takes care of our whole family, apologized for the delay and then looked at my chart.

“Why are you here?” she asked, mystified.

I said that they made me, refusing to refill the medicine for my fluttery heart (no medical intervention as yet for the Grinchiness, though) until a doctor examined me, possibly for actual signs of said heart.

“That’s ridiculous”, she said. “You were here 9 months ago and your blood work is perfect.” She listened to my heart and checked all my vital signs, and, as usual I was pairfectly fine (to quote Jacques Pepin). She emailed the pharmacy with refills for a year and said she’d see me then.

It was a mere $50 to find out I was fine, and although the Giants game was well underway by the time I got in the car, I listened to it on the radio on the way home. I got there in time to see the Giants win 8-3.

Audrey celebrated by staying out all night. She finally showed up in time for me to put her in her carrier and into the car. She had pooped before I had driven more than two miles, so I had to shift abruptly from the pleasant heat to having all the windows open and freezing while gagging.

By the time I arrived at the vet, Audrey was foaming at the mouth and had drool all over the bars of her carrier. Good thing Atticus Finch wasn’t around.

Dr. Karen was not there. She had to rush to her elderly father’s bedside in southern California, and got there just a few hours before he died. He had Alzheimer’s and it had been a very difficult time, but she is glad she made it on time and that he is at rest. Megan spoke with her this evening and comforted her.

Dr. Carl stepped in, as wonderful as ever. He was actually able to calm Audrey down and she didn’t complain when he examined her. Here you can see her exploring the examination room:

It’s a good thing I brought her in, because she has a severe allergy to fleas and has dermatitis. The lumps are her lymph system fighting off the allergy and infection. She needed blood tests, a steroid shot, and an antibiotic shot. She also requires a dropper of Omega-3s on her food once a day to help keep her skin in shape. Oh, and the flea treatment.

It was more than $300, but worth it to get Audrey happy and healthy again.

I had to leave her there for the blood tests, so I amused myself by poking around the Village, which was looking quite lovely between storms:

As I snapped this view from the bookstore, it occurred to me that despite the 1.5 inches of rain in the rain gauge, you probably don’t believe me when I complain about the weather when it looks like this on my blog most of the time:

Relieved of the weighty weight of $300 and Audrey worries, we yowled our way home in the sunshine, three hours after we had left home. On arrival, I let Audrey out into the garden and removed the towel which she had puked on, adding it to the poo towel and the mountain of bedding to be washed.

I had sprinkled diatomaceous earth on all the carpets before I left, so I put in load 1 of 9,000 of washing and started vacuuming. Somehow I ended up sweeping and mopping and cleaning in a manner I had not expected, though I had “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” on TV to keep me company. I was just hauling a load of blankets out of the dryer when Paul walked in.

He will be here tonight and is heading back to San Francisco tomorrow. He has met a girl in San Francisco he’s really excited about and has a couple of dates set up with her before he heads back to pick up his car in the Hamptons and drive it home to Florida for the weekend. Looks like he will be back at Christmas, so yay!

It has been quite a day. Time for a drink and the Giants game.

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Oct 24 2012

Unwelcome Wednesday

Published by under Bullshit,Cats,Country Life,Weather

Well, today is going to be a lovely day.

I woke up to find that the kitties had been romping in the garbage and recycling under the kitchen sink during the night. I waited until I was caffeinated before dealing with that.

Then I drove to the jobette in the pouring rain. We are going to have a staff meeting for most of the day, and you know how delightful those always are.

After work, I get to go to the clinic and huddle with the rest of the uninsured masses, contemplating my downward mobility among the homeless folks and welfare mothers with screaming children. And pay for the (dis)pleasure. Undoubtedly I will have to also pay for blood tests and lose more pay by having to take more time off for the blood tests, and more time off for the results, for which time I will also not be paid, though I will have to pay yet again for another visit.

If you don’t have money (or insurance), you always have to pay more.

The I get to drive home in the rainy darkness, which I love, and as an added bonus, miss the beginning of the first World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers. Grrr.

Bitter much?

Tomorrow I get to look forward to keeping Audrey inside until 8:30, when I will attempt to decant her into the cat carrier and bring her to Dr. Karen, undoubtedly to the accompaniment of squalling, puking, and pooping. I discovered a lump near her left front leg yesterday and am concerned. And then there’s this year plague of fleas. I’m afraid that Dr. Karen will think I’m a bad pet parent when she finds out how scabalicious Audrey is from the fleas.

In my defense, I have ordered the flea meds but they aren’t here yet – one of the perks of living in the country. When they do get here, it will be a laundry palooza again, which I’m not looking forward to.

Sigh.

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Oct 23 2012

Hello, Stranger

Published by under Country Life,Weather


After the rain

First things first – congrats to the Giants on winning the National League Championship! Even though they now have to play the Tigers and it just feels wrong to cheer against Detroit.

And now back to our program, already in progress…

Suddenly, it’s winter!

When I got home from the jobette on Sunday night, I spent some time putting away the outdoor furniture* – the yellow chairs, the warped old wooden table, the glass table and matching chairs and lounger, the candle holders – dragging them into shelter underthe house and what I call the shed. The shed is actually a piece of corrugated plastic on four poles, but, you know. I call a strip of weather-beaten wood planks the back porch.

As I did these chores and filled up a couple of emergency buckets with water, the sky was blue and the sun was sunny, and I felt a little silly. I even called my brother to tell him to get ready for the coming storm, and he thought the forecast was 30% chance of rain until he refreshed his computer screen and then said, “Oh”. It was actually 100% for that night, and they were right. It rained hard enough to wake me up several times, and though I didn’t investigate the rain gauge too closely the following day, there was over an inch of rain in it. I bet Jonathan was glad he had covered up the hay and the golf cart!

It was 50 degrees in the house this morning, and only Audrey was interested in venturing out into the rainy cold (or the cold rain). When I drove to town later that morning, the Ridge was glittering with rain and red with fallen pine needles. I had to defrost the windshield before I went anywhere, and my winter coat made its first appearance of the season.

Looks like winter’s here!

*I really need to take the old couch to the dump. If only Mark were here!

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Oct 22 2012

Good Job

Published by under Bullshit,Country Life,Family,Work

As you all know, decision-making is not my strong point. I’m especially ungifted at making good decisions. But I think my decision to move to Hooterville three years ago today is one of the best ones I’ve made recently. Yes, job prospects are scary and dwindling, but at least I have my family to support and help me through the bad times.

On Thursday night, Megan stopped by with an instant cocktail party in a bag and we commiserated on our dwindling job prospects. Hospital management and her union are negotiating, and it’s not pretty. The offer includes things like a 7% pay cut, losing their retirement plan, and no more healthcare coverage for spouses unless the employee carries the entire cost instead of part of it. Needless to say, the union rejected it, so negotiations continue. Megan is terrified that she will be forced to go out on strike, which means not being paid at all.

She went to a union meeting on the weekend. Her idea is to take the employees’ case to the public by putting articles in the local papers and making the community aware of what is happening. I hope that once people realize what’s going on, they will support the hospital employees and try to keep the hospital open. After all, this is the same community that saved the library and the quite splendid pool.

As for our heroine, she got a 15% pay cut which is also indefinite. I am now making less money than I did when I was a secretary more than 20 years ago, which is not the sign of a good career path. Not for the first time, I reflected on my lack of decision-making skills. I should have studied a more lucrative career path, like a dominatrix or a plumber.

Fortunately, I still have the jobette, but as anyone who has ever worked for a non-profit knows, it means non-profit for you, too. I’m sure they would pay me more if they could, but they can’t. I’m still looking around for a “real” job, but they are few and far between up here and seem to go to friends or relatives.

At least I have family and friends. And a sister who comes by prepared with tangerine vodka, pretzel crisps, and white bean hummus to share while we sit in the garden and share our troubles.

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Oct 19 2012

Support Your Local Suzy

Published by under Country Life

I have been the lucky recipient of a lot of generosity lately.

Last week, one of my co-workers gifted me with a lovely piece of Brie. He was a judge at a Cheeses of France Pop Up Café in San Francisco. It was magically delicious. And luckily for me, the CEO of the jobette had just given me a bottle of wine which he picked up while he was in Italy.

When I came home on Wednesday night – it had been another long day at the jobette, involving yet another late-breaking delivery of heavy boxes, and I was the only one still there – I found a brown paper bag on my doorstep. In it was just-picked apples and cherry tomatoes from a mysterious benefactor. I still have no idea who brought them over, but there may be a pie in my future.

My wonderful co-worker Erin is on vacation in Disneyland with her family this week, so I’m taking care of her cats and chickens. I went over on Thursday morning to check on them, and they were all happy to see me. The chickens bustled around and clucked as I fed them:

I scored four fresh eggs for my trouble:

Inside the house, the kitties were out of food. I tried to take a picture of Mimi, the spectacularly beautiful kitty, but this was the best I could do:

You will have to take my word for her beautiful blue eyes and softest fur ever. Kitties can be very uncooperative models. I think I’ll stop by and check in on them again on my way to the jobette on Saturday morning, just to make sure everything is in order when Erin and her family come home on Saturday night. I hope they are having a fabulous time.

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Oct 16 2012

Happy Saturday

Published by under Country Life,Family,Friends,Jessica

On Saturday morning, Megan and I had our first swimming lesson since the end of August. But on our way to the quite splendid pool, instead of turning right at the highway, the way to the Big Town, we turned left, the way that leads to San Francisco and Civilization.

Why, you may ask. You know I’m good at getting lost, but after nearly three years in Hooterville, you’d think I’d at least know where the pool is.

There was a method to our madness: we were going to pick up Jessica to take her for a swimming lesson!

We met up with Erica and Jessica at a spot on Highway 128 where the redwoods tower overhead, hiding the skies like buildings in New York. The air smelled absolutely intoxicating, and it looked so primeval that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a dinosaur emerge from the ancient trees and enormous ferns.

As Jessica settled into the backseat of Megan’s car, she sighed, “It’s sooo good to have my auntourage back!” And she will have her auntourage with her on Halloween – Megan took the night off, and I will meet them in the Village after work. Jessica is going to be a princess-vampire-assassin. She has already made her own circlet and dagger.

Megan reminded Jessica that her swimming lessons would be after ours, which is an hour long (well, a therapist’s hour long). So she would have to amuse herself during that time.

Megan: “Did you bring a book or something?”

Jessica: “Megan, have you ever known me to be without a book?”

Megan admitted that this was true. It turned out that the book was The Lightning Thief, which sounded so interesting that I ordered it from the library. A discussion ensued on Greek and Roman mythology and what would be the best super power to have. Jessica liked staying dry and breathing under water (possibly influenced both by the book and the impending pool time), whereas Megan thought flying was the way to go. I maintain that invisibility would be best. What do you think?

Once we arrived at the pool, it turned out that the bottle of water in my swimming bag had leaked its contents, pre-moistening both my swimming attire and the towel, rendering it useless.

Oh, well. Class was great, and Jessica absolutely adores Sallie (and vice-versa). After class, I rinsed off in the poolside shower and sort of dried my hair, threw my clothes on, and slapped on some concealer and lip gloss. Then I dropped off Megan’s car to get all new tires* and hustled the many blocks to work with my wet hair and library bag full of books**. The tire place closes at noon on Saturday, so that gave them about 40 minutes to install the new tires. Before I even left the premises, they had the car jacked up and ready to go.

Later, Megan and Jessica turned up with sandwiches, which we enjoyed at the conference room table with its brand-new carpet supplied by Monica’s store of fabulousness, The Floor Store:

It’s just a bonus that the name of the carpet is “Crime Scene.” Once again I wished my job was naming things like nail polish. Or carpet.

It’s so great to know that we have a date with Jessica every Saturday for the next few weeks, except next week. For some reason, the pool is closed because school is closed in the Big Town. You’d think that would make it easier to get to swimming lessons, but what does a career non-parent know about things like that?

Anyway, the week after next, Jessica is staying with us all weekend,because Erica is entering some costume competitions in Santa Rosa, and we’re going to the Zoppé Circus, an Italian family circus which has been delighting people since 1842. How’s that for a great weekend?

*Living in the country has made me really appreciate things like tires, fences, and driveways. And their surprising cost.

**I had the new Linwood Barclayand Ruth Rendell waiting for me. Yay!

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Oct 12 2012

Adventures in Utilities

Published by under Country Life,Work

Following Sunday’s power outage, there was another one on Monday. Apparently Sunday’s was caused by a driver mistaking a power pole for the road, and Monday’s by some kind of fire, though no-one I know in our local fire department (including my brother and my co-worker Erin’s husband) had heard about the fire. Either way, I had to re-set all the clocks I had re-set the day before, and now the one in the living room is on that annoying military time, which I hate. Nothing is worse than being forced to do math in your own home for no reason.

The power wasn’t the only utility to go on strike this week. When I got home from the jobette on Tuesday night, there was no water. Hmm.

Megan was already at work and Rob wasn’t answering the phone, so I called Zach, Mark’s brother-in-law and my neighbor. I realized that I still don’t know who to call when things need fixing in Mark’s extended absence. Zach came over and volunteered to look for Rob. Eventually, he found him, and Zach reported back that Rob fixed the well (needless to say, I never understood the technicalities of the stoppage) but it would take a few hours for the well to fill up and water service to be restored.

Normally, this wouldn’t be too much of a problem, since the Brita pitcher was full and there are several emergency bottles of water in the studio. But on that particular evening, I was in somewhat desperate need of a shower.

Erin has taken over the retail side of the jobette, and has made it look more fabulous every day. That day, a couple of carts – wheeled wooden things to display stuff for sale – arrived fully assembled. The total weight was 940 pounds. The delivery guy left them in the alley and bailed, leaving is with almost a ton of problems.

Erin quite reasonably expected that the carts would arrive disassembled in boxes, instead of assembled on huge wooden pallets. We unwrapped them and tried to wheel them through the delivery door. Nope. The wheels made them too wide. We rolled/dragged them to the front door, where they could fit through the double street doors, but not the inner door.

We were going to have to disassemble them and reassemble them.

So we did. We eventually got the first one inside, but the second one had a couple of stripped screws that made it impossible to remove the legs to get it in the door. So we left it in the foyer, put up the “Closed” sign, and locked it in for the night.

My morning’s shower had long worn off by then, and I had a conference call scheduled for 6:30 the following morning. Instead of being able to have a shower when I got home, I had to get up extra early to do it, when the well had re-filled. Waking up with yesterday’s mascara ringing my eyes gave me a curiously youthful feeling, as if I had fallen asleep after clubbing all night instead of dragging around unwieldy pieces of furniture.

By the time I arrived at the jobette the following day, the guys from the Skunk Train were already removing the offending piece of furniture, so all was well that ended well.

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Oct 07 2012

About Last Night

Note: The post below was interrupted by a power outage, literally out of the clear blue sky. I guess I was overly optimistic about the rest of the day being better than the morning.

I’m doing laundry before I go to the jobette. It’s a sunny day and I want to hang out laundry while the sun shines.

It’s already been quite the morning, and it’s not even 8:30. First the Clyde-defying shelf under my painting liberated itself, bonking me on the head and hand. I had those little cartoon birds and stars flying around my head while I wondered what happened.

While I was wondering, Clyde came running in with a dead bird in his mouth. I shooed him out and closed the door behind him.

The rest of the day should be better, right?

Yesterday, I sold more than $80 worth of stuff to unsuspecting tourists, a personal best so far. I also answered some unusual questions, such as where to buy underwear. You never know what will happen at the jobette.

When I was finished answering questions and selling things yesterday, I went to my brother’s place for a BBQ with our visiting friend, Paul. We have known him for 20 years, ever since he, Jonathan, and Megan and Rob were living on boats at Pier 39. He’s more like family, and has made several appearances in my blog over the years. I wish I weren’t working so much during this visit. At least we had a great time last night.

Megan marinated a pork roast from the farmers’ market overnight, and then set it slow cook in foil over the BBQ. Meanwhile, she made salsa using the tomatoes, cilantro, and onions from the garden while Paul toasted fresh corn in a skillet with shallots and red peppers, adding lime and cilantro at the last minute. I told him he should sell it as “Roasted corn ceviche” in the Hamptons next summer (he is caterer to the stars). He also grilled onions and red peppers over the BBQ. Here he is, supervising the BBQ with Star supervising him:

We also had a guest appearance by Schatzi. Due to her brittle bones, she doesn’t often leave home where she might be bounced à la Tigger and injured. But yesterday, she decided that she wanted to come along, and happily spent the afternoon trotting around or napping on the hay:


Every day with her is a precious one now, and there can’t be too many BBQs left before the rains start.

The garden is dying back, though the tomatoes continue to rampage. The sweetpeas we planted for Dad still look beautiful:

In case you’re wondering, the blue tape marks Dad’s favorites, so we can make sure we plant them again next year.

These flowers, whatever they are, continue to flourish:

And these by the gate, which might be African daisies:

Paul is on his way back to San Francisco tomorrow, where he will visit his uncle and then head to Pasadena, where his daughter and grandchildren live. He said he will come back and see us before he flies back to New York to pick up his car and drive to his home in Florida for the winter. I’m hoping he will come back for Christmas.

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Oct 03 2012

A Special Evening

Published by under Family,Friends,Special Occasions

A foggy evening at the Community Center

On Friday night, Megan and I met up with Lu at the Caspar Community Center for a Farm to Table Benefit Dinner and Pie Auction. All the food was grown and donated by local residents, including my family – we gave onions, basil, lemon cucumbers, tomatoes, and the world’s biggest zucchini – and the pies were home made from local fruit, such as apples, huckleberries, and blackberries:

Since Monica was the event organizer, the dining room looked beautiful:

Each table had a centerpiece which Monica hand painted and decorated with inspirational sayings, filled with flowers:

In the other room, local musicians performed where there were craft projects set up for kids, glitter tattoos for kids of all ages (I got a ladybug and Megan got a dragonfly), and art by children under the age of 18 was also being auctioned off. I was very impressed with this picture of Monica’s dogs Daisy and Ladybug, drawn by a very talented 13 year girl:

And this painting by 5 and 3 year old sisters, who happened to sit near us at dinner:

We discovered our brother in the kitchen, chopping the basil we had donated. When we asked him what he was doing there, he said, “I know how to chop some things and big and some things small. And I’m not afraid of industrial-sized pots.” The fact that he used to be a professional cook in a previous life probably didn’t hurt, either.

The pies were auctioned off before dinner, with most going for about $40 and one going for $200! Monica was stunned – she thought they might get $15 each if they were lucky.

Dinner was wonderful. We had tomato and basil salad with sliced red onions; turkey stew; wood-fired salmon for salmon eaters; rice pilaf and roasted squash, and homemade ice cream with apple compote. I love the idea that all the food was locally produced and donated, and that the cooks took a look at the materials at hand and made up the menu on the spot.

Jonathan joined us for dinner, and it was wonderful to sit in that lovely room surrounded by friends and family and our little community, all brought together to help Monica’s rescue organization, the Daisy Davis Pit Bull Rescue. I am always impressed by Monica’s creativity and dedication, but she really outdid herself. It was a truly special event and I am so glad I was part of this magical evening.

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Oct 01 2012

Surprise!

Published by under Country Life,Work

At around 5:00 on Wednesday – which is my Friday – a giant Fed Ex truck pulled up outside the jobette.

The truck was jam packed with boxes of new visitor guides, and Richard and I (the oldest employees by far) were the only ones still there. Unloading the boxes was complicated by the fact that someone had parked haphazardly in the narrow alley which doubles as parking area and delivery area.

Richard and I helped each other to back up our cars carefully into the busy street – this was complicated by the fact that the weekly farmers’ market is located about half a block from the jobette and was in full swing – to make room for the truck.

The Fed Ex driver gingerly moved the huge truck into the alleyway. While we were still unpacking the first pallet of boxes, the owner of the badly parked car arrived home.

“Is that you?” I asked.

“Is that you?” she asked.

“Do you live here?”

“Do you work here?”

It turned out that it was the lovely receptionist from the splendid pool, who always manages to be glamorous at that early morning hour. She lives right behind the jobette with her boyfriend and their two adorable dogs.

It was a small town moment.

She moved her car while Richard, Randy the Fed Ex guy, and I got to work. It never ceases to amaze me how heavy paper can be. One sheet doesn’t weigh a thing. But if you get enough of them together, you get a box weighing 40 pounds.

There were 200 boxes, but it seemed like more. I have to admit that I was proud that I could keep up with the guys and never got out of breath or behind. Eventually, they were all off the truck and stowed away. Richard and I thanked Randy and shook hands. Richard also gave Randy a very nice tip, which I thought was classy and considerate of him.

You never know what will happen at the jobette!

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