Monday, December 29, 2008

Back to the Grind.

So I hope everyone had a good holiday. I worked something like seventy-five hours in the nine days between Savannah and our annual trek to Chicago for Christmas, so I didn't really have time to blog much.
The week at home was relaxing, mostly, full of food and naps and reading and crosswords. There was a lot of driving, and visits with relatives that I only see once a year, and too little time with the people I really wanted to see. I learned a new term for people like the b.h. and me. DINKWAD: Dual Income No Kids With A Dog. I love it. And come to think of it, many of my best friends are DINKWADs. I will wear it like a badge of honor.
I spent a lot of time picking out beer to bring back for my boss and co-workers, which was fun because I got the satisfaction of shopping with abandon and I didn't have to pay for it. I introduced my dad to the joy of high-gravity beer, which was cool. It's nice to have somebody to split them with because you get to try more varieties.
I am happy to be back, though. And right away I had a blog-worthy customer experience. I wasn't even supposed to work on Monday, but when I stopped by to drop off the beer they were kind of in the weeds so I decided to stay. Just after the wine buyer left, and older woman came in.
"Where's my little girl with the black shoes?" was her response when I asked her if I could help her find anything.
"She's just left for the day, but I'm her assistant. What can I help you with?"
"I want some chardonnay. I usually drink the yellow kind, but I want a better one."
"The yellow kind?"
"Yes. I can't remember what it's called. The big one."

I walked her down the grocery wine aisle and she pointed to the Alic3 Wh1te Chardonnay.

"I usually drink this, but I want something better."
"Okay. Are you interested in a smaller bottle? Something more dry? More oaky? Less oaky? Do you want to try something from a different region?"
"I don't know. I just want it to be better."
"Okay. How much do you want to spend?"
Silence. Confusion.
"Can you give me a rough estimate of your price range? It doesn't matter what it is, I just need a ballpark figure."
More silence.
"Okay- how about this?" I finally venture, heading toward a bottle of La V1elle F3rme, a French Table wine. "It costs a couple dollars more than the Alice, but it's drier. More of a European style."
"Well I don't know."

I can't remember the rest of the mind-numbing exchange. I'm fairly certain that my brain has shoved it in a box in a corner with my various car accidents and other traumatic experiences, but suffice to say that she left with the big bottle of french stuff.
Half an hour later, I was heading to the loo when I saw the woman in the parking lot. She had gotten out of her car, with the bottle in one hand and a corkscrew in the other, and she was talking to another customer who had just left. I heard her mutter something along the lines of "For Pete's sake," or something to that effect. I noticed, after she turned away from the other woman and toward me, that there were several holes in the metal screw top on the bottle.
"You didn't tell me it was a screw top," she blurted accusingly.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Savannah, Part Three.

On Monday we ate breakfast at Clary's. I had The Elvis (French toast with peanut butter and bananas) and a fried egg. I barely ate half of the French toast, but the others were more than happy to help out. After we ate we went out to Tybee Island to see Fort Pulaski, still mostly intact despite the Civil War (or the "War of Northern Aggression", depending on where you stand). We stayed for the Musket firing demonstration, in which a young lady in a Union uniform showed off her skills. I asked her afterward if she had pissed somebody off, gesturing to her blue uniform, and was told that they only wear Confederate gray on Sundays. Ah. Anyway, the fort was neat, the weather was nice but windy, and a good time was had by all. Net we dropped my bro-in-law back at the hotel to do more work and went to the Telfair Museum, where I was able to snap just one photo (sans flash, of course) before being politely asked not to continue by the security guard. I apologized profusely and put my camera away. Until he left, and I saw an enormous painting that was just so indescribable in it's scale that I walked all the way across the room and took a picture of the b.h. standing near it so you can see just how fucking huge it is. I did not get caught, and I have no regrets. I am such a rebel.
That night we had dinner at the Moon River Brewery. The beer was fantastic. I tried the Sweet Potato Ale, which was just too sweet for me, so I gave it to my b.i.l. He enjoyed it immensely and ordered another. In the over twenty years that I have known him, this is the most I have ever seen him drink.
I ordered myself a porter, which I ate with some glorious onion rings and goat cheese and leek cakes, which also came with a side of lentils. Yum. I had no room for dessert, but since we went back to Clary's again for breakfast on our way out of town it was no biggie. I had yet another order of French toast, this one with cream cheese and cherries. We drove my sister and b.i.l to the airport, returned to the hotel and went back to bed. The bed was giant and loaded with pillows and covered in 600 thread-count sheets, so we had a difficult time leaving.
On the way out of town, we went back to the Sentient Bean for coffee and swung by a market we had ventured into on the first day for a large bag of pink lady apples. I have no idea where these little jewels have been all my life, but dear god I am glad I found them. They are so brightly colored as to appear almost fake, and impossibly crunchy and sweet/tart, which is exactly what I want in an apple. They were seriously a highlight of the trip.
We took the long cut home and arrived just after the sun went down. As we were pulling into town, the big story on NPR news was the arrest of the Illinois Governor on corruption charges. A perfect end to a perfect trip. I can't wait to go back.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Savannah, Part Two.

We woke up earlyish on Saturday (we do that now) and went to brunch at a place I can't remember the name of. The building was beautiful, and the inside was all bare brick walls and exposed ductwork. Each table was set with a white cloth and a bottle of Beaujolais Nuevo, which I thought was a really nice touch, but which I didn't feel compelled to drink at ten in the morning. We had a warm brie and blueberry sauce appetizer with fresh baked bread. It was amazing. The waitress dumped a small pitcher (very small, like a shot glass) of cream on my brother-in-law, who barely blinked and brushed it off with his napkin. She was mortified, and scrambled to clean it up while apologizing profusely and muttering about how we were only her second table, but eventually realized that we were not the sort of people who really give a crap about that sort of thing.
When we left the restaurant, we stepped out into the city market, a sort of plaza with shops and whatnot. There was an art gallery across the way with a very large modern painting of The Dude from The Big Lebowski hanging out front. It was awesome and were I a wealthy woman it would be hanging over my mantle right now. Alas, I had to leave it behind.
The whole town was decorated for Christmas, and in the center of this plaza was a small Christmas tree. There was a little girl of about three or four, with long blonde hair in pigtails and very thick glasses, setting her doll at the foot of the tree. She then backed up a few feet to where her mother was crouched, camera in hand, and proceeded to take a picture of the doll. It was so bloody cute. My sister took a picture, but I had left my camera back at the hotel.
We dropped my brother-in-law J back at the hotel to do some work ("vacation" is a relative term in his business) and drove out to Boneventure Cemetery.
I have to admit that cemetery as tourist destination is a bit weird to me, but at the same time I think that if I were to be buried at all I might like to be in a place that people actually come for enjoyment, rather than grieving. The weather was perfect and we spent probably an hour or so walking around and taking pictures.
After that we stopped for coffee at The Sentient Bean, my new favorite progressive lesbian organic vegan coffee shop. They had a blueberry lemon poppyseed bread that would make you slap your mother. Also, the coffee was great. You might think that a given in a coffee shop, but if you've spent any time in Knoxville, Tennessee, you might have discovered otherwise.
We went back to the hotel and had a beer and then found a cool looking Moroccan restaurant for dinner. It was close enough to walk to (as was almost everything in Savannah), so we did. Our waitress was an art student from Wisconsin. She was very helpful in explaining all of the Moroccan customs to us, not that it would have mattered if we looked stupid, because we were the only patrons in the whole place. Anyway, she came around with a pot of warm water with orange and lemon squeezed in it to wash our hands before we ate. Moroccan tradition is to eat with your right hand rather than utensils. We loved it. At some point during the meal, the not terribly agreeable music was turned up a little louder and a belly dancer appeared. She danced a couple of songs, and just when she tried to get my sister and me up to dance with her, our food magically arrived. I had a vegetable tagine and a glass of wine. The food was terrific and the wine was so bad I didn't even finish the glass. We all shared a coconut pastry thing for dessert. It was almost too much. Almost.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Just got back from a short vacation to Savannah with the b.h. We met my sister and her husband down there on Saturday. It was lovely. I am relaxed and stuffed, and very nearly fully restored, though I don't expect any of those feelings will last. I took a ton of pictures, which I hope to get around to posting soon. For now I am on the couch with a beer and the laptop and I've no intention of getting up except to go to bed. Tomorrow I will work a double, then Thursday night I work at the Local Liquor Store, Then another double on Friday, then the LLS again on Saturday night. But I don't mind. It was well worth it to get out of town for a minute.
Our room was on the third floor of the Hyatt, overlooking the river on one side and River Street on another. I took a million pictures of the giant cargo ships passing by. I hope some of them turn out.
The b.h. and I both tried to get Saturday off so we could get and early start, but he couldn't, and since he had to go to work I decided I would too. That was perhaps not my best decision. I did get a lot of work done, though, and still had time to get some laundry done and straighten up for J, who was once again dog/house sitting.
So we got a late start, but we made good time, and we got to the hotel around nine pm. I always have a hard time valet parking our car, because it is twelve (almost thirteen now) years old and dented and full of dog hair and has a cracked windshield and it just feels ridiculous, but it is obligatory at the Hy@tt in Savannah, so we sucked it up. We had quite a bit of junk even though we were only staying a couple of days, and the b.h. and I were struggling to carry it all when we got to the revolving door at the front entrance to the hotel. There was a very drunk woman already in the revolving door, going round and round quickly and merrily, oblivious to our struggles. When her husband finally jerked her out of it, the b.h. and I both balked and then both ducked in at the same time. Into the same section. Loaded down with bags. It took a moment, but we somehow managed to get the thing 'round to the lobby side, and we spilled out and stumbled to the front desk to get our room keys.
Once upstairs, we dumped our bags on the various flat surfaces in our room, and I knocked on my sister's door (their room was next to ours). They stepped through the middle door into our room and I poured a Stone Russian Imperial Stout for her and I to share (neither of our men drink). After we finished that and remarked about how cool the view was, we set out to find food. Unfortunately we went straight down River Street, which was full of crappy bars and crappy bar food, but settled on a decent gyro (and free baklava!) before returning to the hotel. We had another beer and went to bed early.
More later. The b.h. just turned on our new copy of Batman (The Dark Knight), which J left for us as a gift for - for letting us watch our dogs(?) Best. Dog-sitter. Ever.