Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | December 25, 2015

Celebrate like your life depends on it

Happy Winter Celebration of Choice on this late December day.

So many of them overlap and give us the chance to join hands in joy and hope. My circle is wide, and you who read this sporadic blog are part of it, and so I celebrate you as well.

Take the moment, day, month, or season to look for the light that is so needed in this time of darkness. Take a breath to recharge and center yourself.

As a dear friend, Noel, said, “We’re much too diverse a population … to favor one flavor of joy over another, so enjoy them ALL in their splendid diversity. CELEBRATE LIKE YOUR LIVES DEPENDED ON IT, BECAUSE WHAT’S LIFE WITHOUT JOY! REMEMBER, FIRST, LAST, AND ALWAYS, THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!!!!!!!!”

I’m off to the kitchen to make the traditional Christmas morning aebelskievers that my family looks forward to each year.

Stay warm, be kind and inclusive, and love widely.


Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | August 15, 2014

Time passes too quickly

Yes, it has been too long. Yes, it’s been crazy busy. In a nutshell this is the update:

1) I’m still looking for permanent part-time work that pays well.
2) I’m still costuming. I’m working on costumes for Midsummer Night’s Dream. Been working with the drama teacher and an art teacher on other ideas to incorporate in the play. Got stuff all over the house. My husband is a saint.
3) I’ve been working on a new garb outfit for faires. See above item. Did I mention that my husband is a saint?
4) Daughter is preparing to move into an apartment, therefore her old dorm room plus new apartment contents are scattered around the backyard. Good thing we live in a drought state with Mediterranean climate. We have a few weeks left to get it together.

Yes, I need to get back in the swing of things. So…in that spirit…a haiku to mark today.

Summer is closing
I just picked the last peaches
Dreams of knitting start

I’ll start posting regularly again. Promise!!
Aunt Magaidh

Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice 2013

It’s been  busy this fall.

Fall was challenging…Working, dealing with a shoulder injury, leaving my job, making costumes for the high school play, looking for a job, helping my mom out, Thanksgiving, rearranging the house, sending more resumes.  Many mornings found me awake before Husby thinking about tasks and goals.  Laying there under the covers watching the light rise in the window.  Or getting up and putting on sweats to go to the computer and scan job listings and write cover letters, my tea always getting cold before I finished it.  I’ve sewn costumes for the school’s production of the Crucible.  I’ve knitted for Christmas and to seed an Etsy shop. I’ve spun yarn.

I’ve been thinking about what I want to “do” next.  I just want the fall to be done with, and gone. The kind of “stick a fork in me, I’m done” kind of done.

But this morning, I again woke to the moon shining through my bedroom window.  It was a gift.  I’ll share it with you here.

On the wooden floor

The moon casts morning shadows

Winter solstice quiet

Have a warm and happy winter solstice.

Aunt Magaidh

Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | September 8, 2013

Summer Leaves

Summer Leaves.

It’s a play on words.

Summer is a time full of chaos.  The garden gets her feet under her and she goes crazy with tomatoes and  green growth.  Birds tweet and chirp and chase each other.  The resident hummingbird buzzes blossoms and our heads when we stand still enough.  Green peaches cluster in branches, promising.

Summer in our household, started in June.  Husband and I redecorated Daughter’s bedroom to celebrate her transition from freshman to sophomore.  Painting and furniture scavenging and curtain sewing and arranging of art peaked into a new oasis for study and hanging out.  Then we made the trek up to Ashland, Oregon to fetch Daughter back from her first year of college.  Boxes exploded from our pickup truck and into the house and garage.  Then Daughter immediately started a summer course of calculus that required much homework help from husband, stress, pep talks, and prayers.  Six hard, painful, formula-ridden weeks later, cries of celebration ensued with the arrival of her passing grade.

Work for Husband and myself continued to be busy.  He and his team worked on a new exhibit for the science center.  I attempted to keep up with the growing demands of my boss’s growing business, including planning and completing an office move out of the converted hone garage and into another office, and being rewarded with a 1.5 hour daily commute.  (We’ll get back to that.)

The garden played host to a couple of weekends of fiber fun with some wonderful women I know. One weekend the Spinning Sisters sorted mountains of inherited alpaca fleece that a friend passed to me.  The front yard was littered with 2 ft high piles of plastic bags full of brown  and cream and silver and redwood and blond and black wool as we sorted.  Neighbors walking by stopped  and asked questions and were treated to impromptu demonstrations on washing and sorting and spinning of wool.

The second weekend, a subset of the Spinning Sisters took over the house and we carded and spun and carded and knit and carded … with sweat glistening on faces and arms. ( Note to fiber fiends out there: Not good to have a fiber retreat weekend when there is a heat wave.  It gets rather sticky. )

July saw the Independence Day ritual of picking ollallieberries in Pescadero with friends.  Picnic food and tide pooling and the annual kelp battles were all enjoyed.  Peaches ripened on the tree, then found their way to our mouths.  Juicy, ripe, fragrant, old-fashioned peaches – not the cardboard tasting grocery store peaches that promise,  but disappoint.  Peaches made me think on what was important to me.  Weekends became treasured breaks from work for me.  I began hating my commute and feeling completely worn out by the time I got home.  I started feeling antsy.  I started plotting murder of the neighborhood (illegal) rooster for reminding me at 5:30 am that my day was starting.  I tried to squelch these uncharitable thoughts.  I started looking at how I needed to change things.  I bought myself time by cutting my hair.

Summer took on a crisper, crunchier air.  The grass gave up trying to be green and faded to a shallow golden color, knowing any hope for rain was months away.  Lemons ripened, weeds attacked, paint continued to chip on the back porch – reminding errant homeowners that projects needed doing.  My mind turned to the fall.

The end of summer always brings me to evaluation time.  That is what harvest is…a time of evaluation.  You see what came of the hard work of planting and watering and tending.  For me, August is when I note the figs plumping up and think about where I want to be in my life.

August brought the news of a friend getting breast cancer.  Another friend lost her mother.  Daughter started sorting things to repack for school.  I started thinking.

Labor Day came and was full of things that needed to be done and things that we wanted to do.  Balance became the message.

The other day I was walking in a park and saw the poison oak turning scarlet amongst the berry bushes.  Change became the word.

I’m watching the leaves on the peach tree droop. They are still green, but I see just a little tiredness in their form.  I know that they are starting to send the nutrients back to the wood.  The tree is preparing for winter , here in the warmth of September.  It and I have noticed the light changing.

I’m preparing for winter.  I gave my boss the heads up that I need to find a job closer to home.  I’ve started interviewing for a new job.  I’m getting used to my new bobbed hairstyle…kind of a 1930s look.  Not the Birkenstock, hippie mama look I’ve sported before.  Very much a change.  And I started knitting.  A chemo cap is packaged and ready to mail.  A comfort scarf is nearly finished and will be needing an envelope soon.  I’ve bought a journal.

My birthday is on Tuesday.  For me it is summer leaving.  This year I turn 50.  I keep thinking how I need to celebrate.    I think a nice glass of bubbly and sitting and watching the leaves.


Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | February 23, 2013

February Cycles

February may be the shortest month, but for me it tends to be the busiest.

It’s the month that my body and spirit recognizes as winter, the time of introspection, planning, critique.  I tend to plan out what I want to do for the spring while sitting under a blanket in my favorite sweatshirt and woolen socks.

It’s a time of contrasts.  There is the cold and dark, but the light is returning.  The holidays in this month also show this contrast.

February 2nd is Imbolc, also known as St. Brighid’s Day or Groundhog day, is a holiday that speaks of renewal, return of the light, cleansing, the knowledge that spring is coming.  Some years ago, we decided to celebrate it in this household.  Some years we have a big dinner of spicy or preserved foods, light a fire, and turn on every light in the house.  This year it was all we could manage to go out for Mexican food and then come home and turn on the lights and light candles.  Unfortunately, it was a spare the air night, so the fire was nixed. You have to remember that taking care of our environment is a true way of celebrating a holiday that has an Earth goddess as a focus!

Then there is Chinese New Year.  Usually you’re supposed to clean your house before it hits, you know, the spring cleaning binge that other people do a little later in the year.   This year…let’s just say that with the accumulative sleep deprivation, working full time, and such, that cleaning didn’t happen.  Luckily, Husby was a trooper and went to the local oriental market and bought a bunch of the new year’s sweets that we’re supposed to have on the table.  Then there is the New Year’s Eve cooking.  Hmmm…again, this year, not so much.  I did manage to get  Chinese greens, roasted pork, noodles and other symbolic food for our dinner, but again, it was all we could manage to hunker down and stay at home, not cut up a lot of food or do laundry.  (According to tradition, you’re not supposed to chop a lot of things or wash stuff because you could cut up  or wash away your luck for the new year. ) Then there are the three days of not going out and visiting people, just staying with the family: that we did, staying at home like hermits.  Unfortunately, Daughter won’t be with us.  She’s up at college and won’t be back until spring break at the end of March.  I think that is probably why this Chinese New Year has felt so “off”. Our little family is short a person.  But we did send her a care package with the traditional sweets dishes and mittens.  She said that when she got the package it was like “Chinese New Year in a box!”   Then there is the big family dinner at the end of the two week period.  Finally we’re doing something traditional.  Tonight we’ll be going to a Chinese restaurant and sharing a meal with family.

Valentine’s Day was also a part of the month, accompanied by all the Hallmark card and bad jewelry ads on tv.  It falls in the middle of the Chinese New Year.  Husby and I opted to have an exchange of gifts but waited to the weekend to go out and celebrate as part of a  President’s Day getaway.  It was a nice thing to take a couple of days and change our scenery.  We found a couple of little towns in Santa Cruz mountains to poke around in and ate really good meals.  We reminded each other that before we had Daughter, we always went on a little trip for this weekend.  So we started in Boulder Creek, visiting an organic farm and having a lovely brunch with our niece who is apprenticing there. We stopped in Ben Lomond, Felton, Scotts Valley, Capitola and Santa Cruz.  By the way, two recommendations for Santa Cruz: India Joze (  for darned good food in a casual setting and Donnelly Brothers Chocolates for blissfully wonderful chocolate (

Now the end of the month approaches.  I think of the garden needing clean up and planting.  The camelias and quince and lemon trees all need pruning.  (I got the roses done earlier in the month.)  I consider the knitting projects that are in progress and need to be finished before the cold weather gives way to warmer and longer days.  I eye my spinning wheel with the batch of variegated blue wool partially filling the bobbin and consider an evening in front of the fire treadling a couple of hours away.  I glance at the home decor magazine and wonder if a spring cleaning and a coat of paint may be in my near future.  And it’s amusing that these things are so similar to the things that I  was contemplating last year or the year before.

It’s amazing how I find cycles that keep repeating all in the space of  28 squares on a page of the calendar.


Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | December 16, 2012


Transitions… that is what this is all about.

It’s been months since I’ve made the time to sit and write.

Therefore, the Universe –  in its wisdom and glory – has gifted me with a sleep reduction plan that allows me to wake up early in the morning and not go back to sleep.  So, here I am before 7 in the morning on a Sunday, typing a long overdue  post for this blog.  There ‘s so much to catch you up on  and so much for me to just take stock.  That is the beauty of these early mornings when no one else in the house is up.

I last wrote about searching for a dream job.  Update: new job acquired.  I now work for a small construction company in Berkeley with nice people trying to get the company to transition from tiny to small.  I’m the new office manager.  Let me describe the office.  It is the converted garage of a 1920s era house…and definitely showing its garage origins.  I support the owner and about 12 crew guys if they need administrative, customer liaison, or vendor help.  I work off a cell phone and a laptop.  Email is a tool used throughout the day.  Texting has become a regular communication method.   I do scheduling, data entry, research, customer service, vendor  interaction, and general  admin duties.  No, it isn’t my dream job, but all things considered it is a good move.  I’m making a decent wage and my stress level went down.  It’s an opportunity to help build a small business, wear jeans instead of office clothes, and learn about owning a business.  My latest learning curves are about getting insurance quotes for worker’s comp, setting up payroll, and navigating a much too complicated version of QuickBooks for Contractors.  After the last four years of employment upheaval, I think the Universe is giving me a chance to catch my breath and regroup.

Husby and I have been transitioning to the status of “empty-nesters”.  Daughter went off to Oregon for college.  We have been learning how to support her as she takes steps and leaps into adulthood…cheering her on when she is homesick (mostly missing the people and the good food in the Bay Area) and frustrated (she was the only one in her biology lab group who really got the assignments), offering advice of how to navigate bureaucracy (getting help from the housing department after reporting that they turned off heat during Thanksgiving break because they thought there was no one left on her floor – she was a popsicle for 4 nights), and visiting with her via Skype and listening to the new discoveries she is making as she builds a life 400 miles away from home.

Although Daughter went to college, I continued to volunteer with the San Leandro High School’s drama department.  True to my promise to Husby, I did not do as much volunteer work as in the last few years, but I did continue with the costumes.  Once I figure out where photos went on the new computer (old one crashed…can’t find where photos got saved!), I’ll post the pictures.  Although I’ve transitioned from being a parent of one of the students, I’m finding that it is hard to walk away from the program.  Every time I try to back off and say “okay the kids I know have mostly graduated, I can leave now”, a new batch come in and make me care.  It doesn’t help that I’ve become good friends with the drama teacher and the theater manager.  They are good guys and we have a shared dream of creating a self-sustaining drama program that keeps theater alive in this public high school.    So I want to explore transitioning to a different kind of support role.  I am interested in how to do the practical support to the program…how do we find affordable plays and musicals for the students to perform?  How do we build community support for the program?  How do we store costumes and props and scenery?  How do I balance this volunteer work with my full-time job?  No answers yet, but I’m working on it.

Speaking of working on it…Husby and I are transitioning back to being a child-free couple.  We haven’t gotten the hang of it yet.  Our work keeps us busy and we come home tired.  I’m starting to figure out that we need to build up our “couple-y” muscles.  We need to stay up a little later, need to reclaim our evenings from the zoning in front of the favorite television shows, build in more activities that we like to do together.  When one is in the throws of child rearing, you don’t have as much time to focus on the couple-y relationship.  You are busy working on the maintenance of the family schedule and abode and obligations.

This transition to being an independent couple again is odd. We’re going to the movies again.  We’ve visited Ikea to see what kind of furniture we may upgrade to after years of second-hand.  I’m starting to plan romantic dinners again…ones that include a little more spice now that we don’t have as picky an eater to accommodate.   I’m hoping to gradually plan more day trips re-exploring our beloved Bay Area  and Northern California.  I’m looking forward  to puttering in the garden more.  I know that we have a lot of house improvement and maintenance projects we want to take on.  I sense paint chips in my future.  I’m hoping to do more sewing of new curtains and cushions.  We’re in the process of re-feathering our empty nest.

Our nest is even emptier after our cat, Brigit, passed away in November because of a quick-moving cancer.  It is amazing how you can let a little furry critter into your house and they become a loved family member.  We still walk  into the house after a day at work and expect a friendly meow to greet us at the door.  This year we will be choosing to donate to a no-kill animal shelter in memory of Brigit The Loofa Porter Burress, a loving and sweet tabby  who came to us as a rescued feral kitten and became our furry girl for 12 years.  She is missed terribly.    Transitions can be bittersweet.

Also bittersweet is dealing with the way I see myself.  I’m thinking about what kind of projects I want to take on, what hobbies I want to continue with, what baggage (both physical and psychological) I want to abandon.  I’ve had other women tell me that when your kid leaves the house you get to change you life.  I’m wondering how I want to change it.  Here in my late 40s, I’m keenly aware of how I have transitioned away from a life where it is easy to take risks or be unanchored.  I feel the worries of the sandwich generation, worrying for my child and my/our parents, while not quite at ease with my own station.  And yet, there is a part of me that is optimistic and curious about how I can redesign my life.

I’m having to think about  what is Magaidh known as: wife, mother, daughter, worker, volunteer, friend, neighbor, crafter.  Where are my interests pulled?  Where is my time obligated to?  How do I want to redirect my energy and resources?  I’m finding myself less patient with narrow thinking (both liberal and conservative) and more willing to laugh (often sarcastically) at what others are putting as priorities.

The fall season is ending and winter arrives in a few days.  That is a transition that shows how life and cycles will continue regardless of our intellectual consideration of them.

I think I’ll grab a scarf and go out.





Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | August 10, 2012

How do you look for a dream job?

So, here I am musing about what a dream job is.

Things haven’t been absolutely fun at the day job lately.  No.  The word “craptastic” comes to mind instead.  It’s not so much the paperwork or the changing priorities that  make me crazy, but the lack of acknowledgement of the work that I do, regular procrastination of my superior that leads to an avalanche of projects with identical deadlines hitting my desk on a regular basis,  and the occasionally  bad tempered  client (who makes me question my safety) or cranky superior (who makes me question my abilities vs. his/hers) that makes me demotivated to go to the office.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the supposed perk of being very close to home and some family scheduling friendliness is not worth the low pay, the expectation that I’ll not take time off, and the routine having to tell customers that “I’ll take a message and someone will get back to you” with the routine result of pissed off customers who are frustrated when I answer the phone.   It’s been enough of a drag that I’m starting another job search.

One friend keeps saying that I need to start my own business.  Another good friend of mine was saying for the umpteenth time that fear is keeping me from taking a leap of faith.  But if you are going to start your own business, you should have a clear idea of what kind of service or product you want to build a business around, and I’m not sure what that service or product would be.

Which brought me to the question of what  my dream job would be.

All the job/career tip guidelines say that you should do a skills and passions inventory, that one should take stock of the things they are good at and like, and the things that they are bad at and don’t like.

So here is sort of stream of consciousness list of strengths and weaknesses.  You’ve been warned.

What I’m good at: Basic office administration.  Working with a team and working on my own.  Prioritizing.  Planning.  Scheduling.  Breaking down a project into it’s pieces.  Consistency.  Being able to look at the big picture as well as the small picture.   Good customer service.  Taking piles of paper and sorting them into some rational organization.  Clutter busting (except for my own stuff).  I am a quick learner.

Things that I like to do:  Meet with people and figure out what they need help with.  Making lists, reorganizing files, figuring out where resources may be available, calling people and asking questions.  Writing.  Designing and sewing costumes.  Gardening.  Cooking.  Spinning.  Looking at how one thing can be used to make something else.  Thinking creatively. Working with students.  Working in casual clothes.  Organizing chaos.  Helping co-workers with projects and problems. Showing that administrative support into something to be respected.

What I don’t like: Isolation.  24/7 stress and deadlines.  Poor planning.  Liars.  Inflexible hours/timeclocks.  Bookkeeping.  Working with students full time.  Conservative business attire.  Having to mop up after someone who doesn’t do their job or doesn’t deliver what they are supposed to complete.  Poor communication or a total lack of communication between co-workers.

What I want to do/like in a work situation:  Fresh air and light.  Regular hours, with some flexibility.  Casual dress.  Working with a team of people. Ability to work with my hands.  A competitive salary, with benefits.  Streamlining processes to create business documents (read that as correspondence, reports, proposals, etc.).  Co-workers with a sense of humor.  Respect.  Creative projects or projects/industries that contribute positively to society/community/industry/environment.  Purpose.  Community focus or philanthropic giving.

Unfortunately, if you want an industrial focus,  I can’t nail down a field.  I’m not an orthodontist, anthropologist, or engineer.  I’ve always been a support person, with heavy emphasis on document production, who helps specialists (chiropractor, lawyer, Highland chief…) get their work done.  I’ve taken my administrative and organizational and customer service skills to environmental consulting, horticulture, recreation, education, landscape construction/installation/maintenance, law, theater, hazardous waste management, and historical reenactment areas.

I find that I work best when I’m surrounded by creative people who like working in teams.  I started as a technical writer, moved to editing and document production, managed a document production team, then took time to raise my daughter.  I’ve stayed with my best jobs for 4 to 5 years.  While raising my kid, I’ve stayed at part-time jobs until they ended or it was a dead end.  I’ve volunteered with organizations that are educational or support education.  I may be rusty on various technologies and software, but I love learning, so I pick things up quickly.

I keep thinking about a couple of things:

  • The Universe wants us to be happy.  The Universe is abundant and can give us what will make us happy.
  • I have skills that are useful and valued by a company.  There is a company out there that needs and wants me, including my humor and common sense and blunt manner.

So back to that comment about fear keeping me from taking a leap of faith.  I know that I tend to stay the safe path – “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”.  Another person says I don’t think big enough.

That made me think.  Career experts say that networking is the best way to find opportunities.  Yes, I’ve joined Linked In.  Yes, I’ve posted my resume on a variety of job websites.  Yes, I’m telling friends that I’m looking for a job.  Yes, I’ve updated my resume again and applied to job postings.  But maybe I need to really shout it out that I need help.  Maybe I can get help from the Universe…and maybe I need a little help from you, my reader.

I know that the competition is fierce out there as a bunch of people are looking for work.  The last three years have been brutal for many of us.  I am also now an “at risk” candidate because I am over 40.  Ageism works against many of us looking for work in this climate.  My current boss hired me with the phrase, “Well, maybe we’ll try maturity this time.”  Like it was a risk.

Dude, my maturity is called EXPERIENCE.   I know things that a typical 22 -year-old doesn’t know.  I may not be as up to date on the technology because I’ve had to take part-time work with small companies, but I know about how to work with difficult clients,  where to ask for help in bureaucracies, and use tenacity and tact that isn’t part of the repertoire of that youngster that you think has more energy to bring to the job.  

The other thing that has driven me nuts in the last 10 years is that I CAN’T really use my full experience when sending a resume to a job because then I’ll be considered “overqualified”.    I’ve actually had to dumb down my resume in order to get a foot in the door for an interview.  So…since it’s my blog, and I’m asking for your help, I’m going to to post my skills resume here.  And I’m going to put a more comprehensive list of my experience on the resume.  You will get to see more about my skills than the usual HR person will see.

If you know of a company, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, that can use  me, drop me a line/comment.  Serious leads only.  Don’t spam me.  You’ve read my blog, you’ve gotten a sense of who I am and how I dive into projects and challenges.  Now think of people you know who may be looking to hire an assistant, a coordinator,  or an organizer.  Maybe there’s a match you know about.

So.  There.  I’m putting it out there.  A dream job is where I get to use my experience and interests in a friendly, productive, balanced environment and get paid a fair wage.  A dream job is an opportunity to learn new skills and work with great people to provide a great product or service.

My resume follows.  Help an auntie out!

Aunt Magaidh

Aunt Magaidh’s Skills Resume

(I can provide a complete resume and references)


Highlight of Skills


Office Administration/Organization

  • Streamlined administrative support and office organization, including phones, filing, supply inventory, equipment maintenance, personnel, and staff and client scheduling.
  • Provided customer service for product use and sales, including processing phone, mail and website orders from intake to shipping and follow-up.  Updated client, vendor, and supplier account data.
  • Supervised, hired, and trained support employees.
  • Researched and recommended supply and equipment purchases.
  • General office administration, including invoicing, phone support, general correspondence, report generation, miscellaneous documentation, file maintenance, research.

Project Support

  • Conducted internet research for product development, presentation materials, branding information.
  • Assisted with labeling and branding design selection for company identity and product line.
  • Coordinated media events (press and television).
  • Acted as liaison and support to vendors and commercial customers for product launches.
  • Worked with vendors to source materials and equipment.
  • Provided basic landscape and arboriculture information for customers calling office.
  • Worked with Landscape Maintenance Manager to identify opportunities to implement bay-friendly and “greener” landscape practices.
  • Created drought resistant and bay-friendly plant lists for landscape renovation projects.
  • Aided staff arborist by drafting arborist assessments, scheduling tree jobs, and collecting field data.
  • Drafted legal documents, both as Word documents and as judicial council forms (Adobe) for legal cases.

Writing and Publications Support

  • Provided technical writing and editing for papers, essays, manuals, applications, cover letters, resumes, general and follow-up correspondences, reports and technical documents.
  • Coordinated regional publications support for environmental and engineering consulting firm.  Developed and streamlined publications departments to provide word processing, editing, and graphic services.  Developed and established document tracking system that recorded technical review process.  Wrote draft version of regional style guide, co-authored proposal for regional documentation consistency program, and contributed articles for regional newsletter on word processing, writing, and documentation.
  • Coordinated document production staff to collaborate with project managers and technical staff to improve report and proposal production.  Reviewed, rewrote and edited technical reports, business proposals, marketing and in-house documents for clarity, accuracy, liability, logic, organization and style. Designed and implemented scheduling system for word processing, graphics, and review.  Reduced production cycle from 3½ weeks average to 1 ½ week average.  Reduced backlog from 1½ week to 2-3 days.
  • Converted computer system design documentation into user training and reference manuals for warehouse personnel.  Designed layout and format for user training manual.  Edited and wrote operator and programmer documentation for software and hardware system.  Assisted with quality assurance and software testing.
  • Created boilerplate library of  text and Excel tables for  proposals, letters, reports.
  • Developed various forms to streamline office documentation and operations.

Community/Youth Organizations

  • Experienced with working with students Kindergarten through Grade 12 in educational, recreational and “hands-on” settings.
  • Volunteered with middle school and high school drama productions, coordinating costumes and sourcing props.
  • Researched and planned environmental and community gardening workshop for youth and tutors.
  • Former AmeriCorps tutor working with students in grades 9 through 12 in classroom and out of class sessions.  Researched materials and developed individualized lesson plans for students.
  • Self-taught in organic gardening, composting, and worm composting.  Helped research and set up worm composting project at Chabot Space and Science Center.  Worked with youth volunteers and public during weekend “spotlight” activity on worm composting.
  • Helped plan and present cultural celebration/education workshops for AmeriCorps tutors and staff.
  • Worked with recreational camps program staff to edit and update the camp staff training manual.
  • Assisted teen programs supervisor to compile updated youth services directory, write internal documents and reports to recreation department, city council and advisory board.

 Employment History

Legal Secretary

Provided organizational and administrative support to single attorney practice, drafting legal documents, providing client support, gathering case information, file maintenance, performing reception duties, calendaring/appointment scheduling, bank deposits, accounts receivables and payables.  Created document formats to transition files and documents from WordPerfect to Microsoft Word.

On-call Substitute Teacher

Taught high school students on substitute basis at a charter school.

Historical reenactment volunteer

Helped with volunteer recruitment and orientation, demonstration of historical crafts.  Researched period clothing and cooking techniques, materials, and ingredients.  Volunteer mentoring for new guildmembers.  Rewrote and coordinated updated guild member guidebook.

Costume Designer/Volunteer Coordinator at local high school and non-profit youth theater

Volunteer position designing and acquiring costumes, scenery and props for various high school plays and musicals under direction of drama teacher/director.  Coordinated volunteers and students who provided costuming and properties support before and during stage productions.  Researched period costumes and fashions; constructed and acquired costumes.

Freelance Garden Coach and Aesthetic Pruner

Worked with homeowners to assess their garden desires and teach them gardening skills, concepts and practices.  Emphasis on bay-friendly, organic, edible, and family friendly designs.  Prune small trees and shrubs with an aesthetic focus.  Create planting designs and lists using native, drought resistant, edible and ornamental plants to create water thrifty and wildlife habitat landscapes in residential settings.

Office Administrator

Provided organizational and office support for business manager and project managers. Database entry and revision.  Researched and updated chemical regulation lists for regulatory reporting.  Updated employee/human resources files to comply with HIPPA law.  Entered receivables, created work orders, and revised Word merge documents.

 Professional Services Administrator, started as Receptionist/Office Administrator

Provided organizational and office support to landscape maintenance and tree care divisions at a landscaping installation and maintenance company. Worked with Landscape Maintenance Manager to identify opportunities to implement bay-friendly and “greener” landscape practices.  Created drought resistant and bay-friendly plant lists for landscape renovation projects.  Aided staff arborist by drafting arborist assessments, scheduling tree jobs, and collecting field data.  Developed various forms to streamline office documentation and operations.  Worked with vendors to source materials and equipment.  Provided basic landscape and arboriculture information for customers calling office. General office administration, including invoicing, phone support, general correspondence, report generation, miscellaneous documentation, file maintenance, research.

Garden Volunteer/Coordinator at local elementary school

Volunteered in school garden during school day and after-school with students in Kindergarten through Grade 5.  Taught students about conventional and organic gardening, composting, culture and nutrition, and garden ecosystems. General garden maintenance, propagation, and restoration.

Literacy Tutor and Mentor

Worked with high school students at alternative high school.  Assisted teachers in class activities and provided one-to-one tutoring and mentoring in literacy, safety, life sciences, English, environmentalism, critical consumers of information, art, culture.  Trained on literacy, multicultural issues, environmental/conservation education, conflict management, learning disabilities, and diversity.  Worked with team on problem solving, team building and youth empowerment projects.

Office Administrator at chiropractic office

Reorganized office systems, including client files, mailing lists, and business files.  Handled office and client correspondence.  Scheduled client visits and made reminder calls for appointments.  Updated client, vendor and supplier account data.  Researched and recommended supply and equipment purchases.

Classroom Volunteer at local elementary school

Volunteered in classroom with students in kindergarten through Grade 3.  Chaperoned during field trips.

Office Administrator/Executive Assistant at start-up company

Streamlined administrative support and office organization, including phones, filing, supply inventory, equipment maintenance, personnel and staff scheduling.  Provided customer service for product use and sales.  Processed phone, mail, and website orders from intake to shipping and follow-up.  Updated client, vendor and supplier account data.  Researched and recommended supply and equipment purchases.

Freelance Technical Writer/Editor

Provided technical writing and editing services for papers, essays, manuals, correspondence, proposals, reports, resumes, applications, and other technical documents.  Provided portfolio critiquing, job search coaching, and practice interviews.  Also limited transcription, including transcribing voicemail messages and sending transcripts to client via email.

Regional Reports Coordinator/Publications Manager/Technical Editor at environmental consulting firm

Developed and streamlined publication departments to provide word processing, editing, and graphic services for branch and district offices of national environmental consulting  firm.  Coordinated production of documents with project managers and technical staff.  Developed and established document tracking system that recorded technical review process.  Designed and implemented scheduling system for word processing, graphics, and review.  Reduced document turnaround from 3 ½ weeks average to 1-2 week average.  During peak cycles, reduced backlog from 1 ½ weeks to 2-3 days.  Reviewed and edited technical documents for clarity, accuracy, liability language, and style.  Established and implemented writing standards and consistent formatting.  Participated in district wide quality review of document preparation and tracking.

 Academic Profile

  • Bachelor of Arts, Special Major, Career and Technical Writing
  • StopWaste Certification as Bay-Friendly Professional Landscaper
  • Certificate in Landscape Horticulture
  • Aesthetic Pruning Award
Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | June 23, 2012

Lazy Days of Summer Are Here….Yeah…Riiiiight…

So. I have survived the end of Daughter’s senior year of high school. First there was the spring musical that ate all of our spring. Then the whirlwind of prom (with all the dressings and accessories and such), Disneyland (we only had to prep her), last band concerts, recognition ceremony, and finally graduation and Daughter’s graduation/early birthday party.

School has finally been out of session for one week. The first day of summer has visited and we are officially in those so called “lazy days”.

Uh huh.  Sure.

We are now working toward getting Daughter ready for College.  There is the packing of sentimental items, sorting of outgrown clothing and books and entertainments, finding of stuff to pack for a very small dorm room.  There is the continued search for scholarships.  We will be making an early summer trip to Southern Oregon University for registration, orientation, and reception to acknowledge that she won a diversity scholarship.

Then there’s the play.

What play?  A new local youth theater, Ahz Youth Theater, is staging Jekyll and Hyde in early August, and we are involved.  Daughter will be Stage Manager!  For money!!  And I am helping with costumes, starting this weekend.  You saw that coming, didn’t you?

But wait, there’s more.

We have the usual annual Berry Picking at Phipps Ranch in Pescadero for the 4th of July.  (Come.  The more the merrier.  Support small family farms!) We are now planning a weekend trip to Chowchilla to see the Fossil Discovery Center in summer.  Husby and Daughter love bones.  It seems like a nifty place to visit.  (Except that it is in the heat of summer.  Oh joy.)  Another trip to visit In-Laws in Oroville also needs to be managed.  (Again, in the heat of summer.)   And then, it’ll be time to take Daughter to College in September.  Oh, then us empty nesters will be going to the Folsom Renaissance Faire in October.

And you know of course that in those unplanned days we’ll be doing the usual home chores, nose-to-grindstone work at the office, and summer house maintenance.  Oh, and I might get around to posting pictures on this blog of the costuming, play, prom, graduation and such from spring.

Lazy days ain’t happening til fall.


Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | May 10, 2012

Catching Breath…sort of…

Play is over…it was great.  Lint pile is fading away.  Daughter’s senior prom is next week.  Graduation coming fast.  Eeegad.  Will post pictures of all sorts of things when I actually catch my breath.  


Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | March 19, 2012

Four weeks and counting down

February is a short month, but last month was incredibly short.  I’m now working on costumes in my spare time because we are 4 weeks from opening night and there’s still so much to do.

And then I remind myself that it’s going to be okay.  We’ve done costumes in 4 weeks before, albeit not fancy costumes.  And this year there are more costume helpers.

As a matter of fact, all things considered, we’re doing pretty well.  About 1/2 way through if you don’t count the alterations.  It’s just daunting because we have multiple costume changes this time.

There are 11 Follies Girls…they have 3 costumes each.  Assorted Cowboys number 8, a few are special, so there are 12 costumes.  There are the principal actors – 6 actors, 10 costumes.  Then 2 leads: 7 costumes. Um…THERE ARE 62 COSTUMES????  OMG.

Yes.  There are 62 costumes.  That’s about 20 more costumes than last year.  Did I mention that these are supposed to be set in 1932 era styles on a shoestring budget?  And this year, we have showgirls.  That means 2 elaborate costume changes for each Follie Girl.  That means challenging fabrics like satin and lamé and tulle.  Oh my.

Tomorrow we do the first fitting.  It’ll be exciting.

I’ll keep you posted.  Pictures will come later.  Back to the lint pile.


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