Thursday, December 29, 2011

I've stopped trying to have a full Caribbean menu every day. We keep the full menu of sandwiches available, plus a homemade soup and a special dinner. Today, which was windy and rainy, although not really cold, we sold out of soup for the first time. The special was turkey cutlets, served with black beans and rice with bacon. We got not one order for that, which is a shame. It was delicious.

I'm very happy with the three employees I have. It turns out I didn't need the ones who didn't show, after all.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Another day at work. New server started today, but we had to send her home sick.

Want sleep.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Across the great divide. Our business is open. We've made some sales. It has been slow, but, considering that it's a holiday weekend and no one knows we're open, it's not so bad. We're gradually learning what we have, what we need, what we can do, and what we can't. Our one day off this week is going to be spent buying stuff to fill the gaps between what-we-have and what-we need. The week after that, I'm going to take a real day off. I promise.

Oh, and it was Christmas, too.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I had another day without knitting. We slept late, listened to our radio shows, ate a leisurely breakfast before going to the shop. There was no hurry. As we had failed our inspection, we wouldn't be able to open until after the weekend, anyway. We could take all day to correct the deficiencies, get inspected tomorrow, and then notify the staff that we'd be opening Tuesday.

We went into the shop at a little after 10. Maybe it was 11; I don't remember. I delivered the various things I had bought-- bleach, trash cans-- to their destinations, and then went about assembling another big shelving unit. Once Lance, our contractor, finished flushing the dishmachine, and ran a cycle or two using bleach as the sanitizer, I tested it. It was exactly in the range it was supposed to be in, so he called the inspector to arrange a retest. Surprise! We had come so close to passing that she decided she didn't have to reinspect us; she gave us approval over the phone to open.

We spent the next couple of hours correcting the rest of the deficiencies. I reassembled two small shelving units on which the bottom shelves were too low, and Tom turned all the right-side-up dishes upside down, per Health Department directive. Then, Tom left to run errands, while I picked up some paperwork and proceeded to phone staff and arrange schedules for the next week. Easy peasy. We arranged for trash pickup, so Tom can discontinue his twice-daily dump runs. It was a lot to ask of him when it was just clean cardboard for recycling; it would be too much to ask him to transport actual garbage as well.

Then, Tom waited at the shop with a repairman, come to fix the stoves that were contaminated by the accidental triggering of the fire suppression system, while I spent a couple of hours, and several hundred dollars, buying groceries for the shop. The car was full, and the shop ready to close, before I even started looking at meat, veg, and dairy, so I'll have to go back when it opens in eight hours. My cooks are meeting me in the morning, for a practice day. We open for business Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In spite of having stayed at the restaurant until after midnight, cleaning and studying the Oregon food-service laws, and going back in this morning for more, in spite of our having valiantly conquered a myriad of last-minute disasters, we didn't pass our inspection.

I wasn't terribly surprised. With all the problems we've had this week, from the refrigerator breaking down, the fire suppressant system accidentally discharging (and thereby contaminating the whole kitchen), the pilot lights on the stove failing, and, today, the dishmachine springing a leak, it would have taken something of a miracle to pass. We did fix all the aforementioned problems, but failed because I bought the wrong sanitizer for the dishwasher. I bought quaternary ammonia; the machine was calibrated for bleach. Live and learn.

Because of the holiday, delaying our certification by two days delays our opening for four. While I am, of course, disappointed to not be able to open before Christmas, I'm even more relieved that I'll have the weekend off.

No knitting today; I didn't even try.
Why, it's tomorrow already.

Busy day. The restaurant is almost ready for inspection tomorrow.

If the inspector is available.

Monday, December 19, 2011

And yet more today.

The refrigerator quit, and the fire suppression system malfunctioned, dropping a load of chemicals all over the kitchen. The contractor called in an emergency housekeeper to clean up the kitchen, but I still have to flush the fryer tomorrow. He also got a refrigerator tech to come out, who kluged a fix that will hold (it is said) until he can get the replacement part he needs.

Knowing that the whole restaurant would need to be swept and mopped, and the new dishes washed, before we could open for business, and knowing that I have no desire to mop or wash dishes myself, I called some of my new hires to do the work for me. As it turns out, they have different ideas of what "available any hours" means than what I had. Two of the people I had hired will be unavailable until after the holidays. A third will do the work, but not until evening, because he doesn't have childcare during the day.


I did get more dishes unpacked, more shelves assembled, and all the pictures hanged. The place is starting to look like something.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We had another hard day of work on the restaurant today. I finished assembling the shelves, and then started stocking them. Until you take enough dishes for 60 people out of boxes, you don't realize how hard that can be. I was exhausted before I was done, but still insisted on arranging the tables and chairs the way they'll be when the place is open.

Tom assembled the bus carts, applied the felt dots to the table legs, and ran some essential errands. We didn't make it all the way to hanging the rest of the pictures; we were both exhausted.

Did a little knitting in the morning before work, but, after work, I was too tired to pick up needles.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I spent much of the day in backbreaking work at the restaurant. I assembled several heavy-duty shelf units. They fit together like Tinker Toys, so I found it easy and fun, but it was several hours of standing on my feet, bending over and lifting things. I saved the last one for tomorrow, as my back was giving me clear warnings that it had done all it was going to do that day. When I was done-- or my back was-- with the assembly, I hanged a few pictures. Once home, I painted faux frames on some more paintings, ones I couldn't afford to buy frames for. I'll get them ready to hang tomorrow.

I want the place to look noticeably more like a restaurant than a building site by tomorrow. I made the mistake of telling my contractor that I was going to work all weekend, and he'd see a big change by Monday.

Even so, I did do a little knitting, on the sparkly pink sock.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Another huge day. We went to Portland again, to buy more stuff for the restaurant that we forgot last time. Racks for the dishwasher, anyone? Ladles? Ladles may be small and cheap, but I dare you to sell soup without any.

No knitting today. By the time we got home from Portland, I was exhausted.

We took a small side trip to the infamous Voodoo Doughnuts. We got quite lost along the way, due to poor signage on the streets, but found it eventually. The detour was actually quite entertaining, as we cut through a lovely old neighborhood of big houses built around the turn of the 20th century. The vibe at Voodoo Doughnuts was amusing, but the doughnuts themselves were just average. It was worth visiting once.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finished, blocked, and forgot about the other hat yesterday. It's in a llama/silk blend for a wool-allergic friend; I hope she can wear it.

The grey/pink mohair sweater has been happily worn the last few days, which have been very cold. It's soft, light, and warm. It also sheds like a furry dog. My car looks like a big, lavender (the daylight effect of the blended colors) dog has been driving. Live and learn.

I'm back to knitting on the sparkly pink socks. I'm up to the leg (toe up) on the first sock. As much time as I'm having to put into the restaurant, and as soon as it's going to open, it may be a long, long time before the second sock gets finished.

We spent much of the day buying stuff for the restaurant, and dropping it off at the site. There's still a lot more to do. For one thing, we have to deal with all the stuff we already have: hanging pictures, assembling shelves, putting dishes and cookware away. There's still a possibility of opening next week.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The last 24 hours have been more stressful than I like. We got another invoice from the contractor, in five figures. That's another five-figure invoice, over and above the estimated figure we contracted for, the second one in a month. I fired off a strongly-worded email about estimates and contracts and deadlines. I think it'll be okay. The job is almost, almost done.

I finished the mohair hat this morning. It's a little big, which was a reaction to the hats I have that are a little small, as a result of getting impatient and starting the crown decreases too soon. I don't mind that it's big; it'll still fit if I put my hair up. I started a hat as a gift, too, and am over halfway done with it, I think.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Almost done with the hat to match the sweater I finished yesterday; I've already started the crown decreases.

We filed more paperwork for the restaurant, bought some wire shelves for the walk-in fridge, and hired two cooks from among the ones we interviewed last week.

There's a tiny chance that it'll snow tonight. I shouldn't want it to snow, since I have an early appointment in the morning, but I do.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wove in the ends today, and wore the sweater on our walk tonight. I feel safer, walking the dogs on our dark but busy street, in a light-colored sweater. Walking two black dogs, while wearing all dark colors, didn't strike me as promoting visibility.

Once I got the ends woven in, I started a matching hat, since I had plenty of yarn. Most of the sweaters I've made in the last year had yarn left over; I should make hats for all of them.

Tom and I took a drive down to Cannon Beach today. We bought hot chocolate at the Chocolate Cafe, and a few yummies at Bruce's Candy Kitchen, which may not have been the best idea, since my blood sugar is no longer within normal limits. Not to worry unnecessarily: I'm seeing the doctor frequently for dose adjustments, until we get things under control, and I haven't eaten the candy. Not yet, anyway.

Oh-- also bought a couple of skeins of yarn for a Christmas present for a wool-allergic friend. It's a llama/silk blend, in a nice, mossy green. I hope she can wear it. The climate in her corner of Arizona is colder than she had figured on, when she relocated from California. While we are still awaiting the first snowfall of the season, here on the Oregon coast, Oracle, AZ, has already been snowed on three times. I'm going to make my friend a hat.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I stayed home, today, while Tom made a shopping run into the Portland suburbs. While home, I did a few chores, ordered aprons for the restaurant,watched some of the kind of TV Tom doesn't care for (cheesy documentaries, and old dramas), and finished the grey sweater. Okay, it's not completely finished. I still have to weave in the ends. All the knitting is done, though, and I've tried it on for size.

I think next time, I'll go for something a little more fitted. What am I saying? Once the restaurant opens, I won't have any time to knit.

It's two weeks until Christmas, on three until New Year. It's going to happen, soon.

Friday, December 09, 2011

This morning, Tom and I completed some business-related paperwork that we had been stalling on for months. We tired to hand-deliver it all this afternoon, but failed utterly. Who could have predicted that people would leave their offices early on a Friday in December?

It wasn't so bad that we had to drive all around the area in search of a handful of hookey-playing bureaucrats. The air was as clear as Tiffany's diamonds, AEB Mt St Helens was visible on the horizon. We took a few wrong turns (accidentally-on purpose, as we used to say when we were kids), which took us past a couple of wildlife refuges. The water was mirror-smooth, reflecting the blue sky and the wooded islands in the lakes: heaven.

And I finished the first sleeve, tried the sweater on for fit (it fits), and started the second sleeve, after roasting a 20# turkey I had brined last night. I'll tell you what this chilly weather is good for: there was no room in the fridge for anything big enough to brine a turkey in, so I put the turkey in my biggest soup kettle, added a couple of ice packs in with the brine, and left it in the garage. The turkey stayed springtime-fresh all day.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

I won't last long-- I'm unbelievably tired. Doc put me on meds for diabetes and HT today. We'll see how they work.

Finished the back of the new grey mohair sweater today, sewed the shoulders together, and knit several inches of the first sleeve.

For an old Angeleno, it's really, really cold here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

While I had a lot of fun interviewing applicants, I left the shop today feeling sad. We had over 60 applicants, most of whom were smart, experienced, and friendly. I'd have hired 50 of them without hesitation, based on their qualifications and personalities. I only have 5 positions to fill, 4 of which are part time. It's a rough world. I'd especially hate to be a high school kid looking for his/her first job, as experienced adults are now competing with them for part time, minimum wage jobs.

I sure hope the restaurant does well. I'd like to be able to hire more people, later.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Finished the front of the sweater, almost finished with the back. Still have plenty of yarn for the sleeves. Maybe, 3, 4 day of work left before it's a finished sweater, ready to wear.

What I ought to do is sew aprons, since I don't want to buy or wear standard ones.

Tomorrow, we accept applications, interview applicants.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Aaaand another load of stuff was taken to the restaurant. I need to buy some wire shelves to put it all on.

I've almost finished the front of the mohair sweater.

A friend who moved to Arizona is in the midst of her third snowstorm of the year. Alas, she's allergic to wool, and I don't have any alpaca that's in a color she'd find acceptable. I have some synthetic yarn in her colors, but that's not actually warm. It's warmer than a bare neck and head, though, so maybe I'll dig it out.

I do have to start on some aprons for the restaurant, if I want to have aprons with personality, rather than plain ones from the restaurant supply store. The plain, mass-produced ones don't fit me, anyway. They tend to rotate, and cover only one breast. That's not the best look.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

We took another load of stuff to the restaurant today. After that, we packed the car again, with the intention of unloading it at the restaurant tomorrow. That got enough stuff out of the living room that Tom could reasonably vacuum. It looks so much better!

The grey mohair sweater is about 16 inches long, now. I like my sweaters on the long side, so I'll give it another inch before I bifurcate it for sleeves.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Boy, did we work hard today!

After I did the usual laundry and dishes, we unloaded my car at the restaurant. Then we hit the grocery store, and made a quick detour to an art show on the way home. Once I got the groceries put away and dinner started, Tom asked me to help him assemble the desk he bought a couple of weeks ago. By the time we realized we were doing it all wrong, he had sprained his back, I had sprained my neck, and our chicken was terminally overcooked. Let the record show that this wasn't an ordinary desk, but the kind that wraps around two sides of an office, with towers and battlements and flying buttresses.

Dinner consumed (the brown rice was fine), we took the offending parts off the desk, switched them around, got it the way we wanted it, and then walked the dogs. I also insulated the outside faucets, since we're getting frost now, but that only takes a minute. Funny thing about the foam plastic cups that are the insulation: I left the one from the back porch on a plastic chair when I took it off last spring. We had a severe storm ten days ago, with 90 mph winds. The wind snapped or knocked over several trees in the forest behind our house, and broke a few large branches off one of the alder trees in the back yard. It didn't carry the styrofoam cup off the porch, though. It was right where I left it.

Knitwise, the grey mohair sweater is now 12 inches long. Unless we spend most of the day out tomorrow, I'm likely to get to the point of splitting it for front and back.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Today was beautifully sunny again, so we took the dogs to a nice beach we found a few weeks ago. They had a good time romping on the wet sand. They both wanted to eat driftwood, but we wouldn't let them. We all managed to ford a stream without getting our feet wet by walking up to where the stream flowed under a drift of cobblestones. I was prepared to carry Sarah up the stairs back to the car, to spare her elderly heart, but, when I put her down halfway up, so I could catch my breath, she sprinted to the top like a pup. That's my Sarah!

The dogs slept all afternoon, after we got home. Unfortunately, we had a flat tire on the way home, that was beyond repair. Tom ordered new tires, which will be in on Monday. In the meantime, we'll be using my car. We'll have to unload all the kitchenware we bought Tuesday, in order to do so. I think the restaurant is complete enough to allow that.

I'm making real progress on the new mohair sweater. I'm looking forward to wearing it. I may not have quite enough of the grey yarn to do the whole thing in one color. If not, the pink blend I was planning to use with it in the canceled poncho can be repurposed as a broad stripe across the bust.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

More knitting today, on the grey mohair sweater. The pink sock stares at me, accusingly. I'll get back to her in time.

Going back to work is going to be hard. I've been retired for 12 years. I think I'll enjoy it, once I get back in the habit of waking up in the morning.