Thursday, December 31, 2009

I feel conflicted about 2009. While the changes in our lives have been very positive, the losses are pretty big. Too many to mention here, but suffice to say Athens will never be the same.
Looking forward to a happy and healthy 2010, and wishing the same for all of you.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Yesterday at the Local Grocery I was astounded when I saw a woman grab both of her unruly children by their coat collars and drag them bodily into the restroom, where I assume they both got the talking-to they desperately needed.
They emerged, both holding hands over their mouths, and the whole party proceeded through the store without further ado. I was about to remark to Sven that it was a Vermont Parenting First when the woman asked me where to find the Stilton. She had a British Accent. I refrained from begging her to start a parenting class, and instead pointed her to the proper section and thanked her silently for being a good example.
I was off today, so I spent some time running errands and rewarded myself with a visit to the Thrift Store in Errab, where I picked up four sweaters (one of them cashmere), a skirt, a paperback novel, and a small gold pin in the shape of a wiener dog- all for $26 and change.
I didn't accomplish everything I set out to do, but ticked several things off of the list. We're leaving for Chicago on Friday (gods and weather willing), and we'll be driving through Canada (I have been told by people who've made the journey several times that it's much faster and easier). We've already got the b.h.'s special ID taken care of, as well as the new plates and State inspection for our new car. New dog beds? Check. Now we need a signed piece of paper from the vet saying that the rabies' tags we have actually belong with our dogs. Still not sure about food restrictions, so we're looking into that as well.
The b.h. gave me my birthday present early. It is an Olympus:) digital slr camera, something I have wanted for ages and would never buy for myself. You may expect that I will be absent for a bit while I figure out it's inner workings, but after that expect a growing collection of random pictures on this blog. I am so excited I can barely stand it.

Friday, December 25, 2009

RIP, Vic Chesnutt.
Beer, Pizza, and the b.h. Ahhhhhhhh.

Happy Holidays everybody.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I was informed for the first time a few days ago that all Local Grocery employees were expected to help with answering the phone. This was news to me, after over three months of full-time employment, but I had no problem with it. So yesterday, i happened to be very near to a phone when it rang. I picked it up.
"Local Grocery, can I help you?"
"Do you carry A Certain Brand Of Local Salad Dressing?"
"Let me check."
I put the woman on hold and made my way through the very crowded store to the dressing section, then made my way back to the phone.
"Yes, ma'am, we do carry that brand. We have four varieties."
"Can you tell me how much it is? I forgot to ask."
"Well, yes, but you'll have to hold another minute while I go check."
I put her on hold again, ran the same gauntlet, and returned.
"Hi, they are $4.19 each for 16 ounces."
"Do you have the Maple Balsamic variety?"

-Long and obvious pause while I refrain from actually speaking the words that first spring to mind.-

"...I don't know, but it really is on the other side of the store from me at the moment."
Mercifully, she didn't make me check. Needless to say, I plan to ignore the phone henceforth.
We have very little room in this house, and a Christmas tree just didn't seem practical, so the other day I went out and picked up several pine boughs. I brought them home, wired them to the bannister, and wrapped them with lights and hung some ornaments on. Viola!

Or possibly Fa la la la la.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The show with Tom Waits from last night is fantastic. Check it out.

Friday, December 18, 2009

On the Local Restaurant front, we have lost our Fearless Leader, the Harried Manager's boss, he of the giant head and no apparent brains. This is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I no longer have to endure his terrible fake niceties (and worse spelling), and a curse because I fear who will take his place. Fingers crossed.
In the meantime, Manager In Name Only is a couple months pregnant and even crazier than she was before. She told me she was pregnant exactly two days after she told me how her eight-year-old son was ruining her life. She said it in a breathless, excited way. This was just before she told me she was marrying the guy that had just broken up with her because of her son. The guy who was the father of the impending child. Okay, then. Good luck with that. I am thrilled to be working there just two nights a week. My barback is a student named Taylor, whom I recommended for the job because I knew how much he enjoyed bartending and that even at age 22 he was more of an adult than the other two people I worked with behind that bar. He is currently in Boston doing a tryout ("stage") with the bar that he hopes to intern in when his time at Culinary School is over. That will be in march, and I wish him the best of luck while also lamenting his departure.

Other than that, it has been colder than I care to talk about. Lots and lots of snow (for me, but not for Vermont), shoveling like a champ, working my butt off, and trying to find time to read and keep up on some television. I have recently found myself addicted to Lie to Me. Tim Roth is a weakness for which I will not apologize. He's short, his eyes are crooked, and he walks funny. And yet I find him wildly compelling.
I just finished reading Au Revoir to All That; Food, Wine, and the End of France. A great read. Really interesting bits about the history, politics, attitudes, and personalities that have affected French food culture. I just started Jonathan Lethem's You Don't Love Me Yet. Haven't formed an opinion about it yet. I ripped right through Jay McInerney's Model Behavior last month. He's just hilarious. I have a feeling he would make a great drinking buddy.
Speaking of which, I did manage to get to the cask of Life and Limb, a collaboration between Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada, which happen to be two of my favorite breweries. This was last night at the Three Penny Tavern. I was joined by the b.h., so it was an even bigger treat than usual. We are just not socializing much these days, and it was a welcome change. The beer was fantastic, and bought for me by a couple reps from Sierra that I had met earlier in the day at the Local Grocery. One of them gave me his card, and we talked about potential future employment. Not entirely likely, but a nice thought.
Right then. I'm off to do as little as possible Talk to you soon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One degree.
But according to, it "feels like" -11.
Feels like crap if you ask me.

Monday, December 14, 2009

West Coast Karen was cleaning up some cheese. This is a term we use for scraping and re-wrapping cheese that has been cut for awhile and hasn't sold. It's not a big deal, really- mold and cheese go together like wild yeast and sour beer, after all- but occasionally we get a piece that is either too small or too damaged to just re-wrap, in which case we clean it up and cut it very small for our sample basket. This is a basket of random pieces and weird sizes where people can get something to snack on while they shop or just a taste of something they have never tried before. Anyway, WCK has taken to referring to these as our Baby Cheeses, which has led to jokes about how we ought to make the basket into a manger, and that "Cheeses is the reason for the season", etc. Yes, we are easily amused in the cheese department.
A good thing, too, because the stress level can be quite high for some people, and were it not for the endless amusement at silly jokes I fear Sven might show up with an automatic weapon one day. There is much tension, you see, between he and another employee. The kind that is unspoken but that I am certain could be cut with a knife on some days. This other employee, I think I'll call her DeeDee, has been in the department for longer than Sven. Longer than any of us, actually, except for Barbara, who is the Big Cheese (and wine, for that matter) and has been working for the Local Grocery for over twenty years. Anyway, DeeDee and Barbara ran the department with only one other person for about five years before Sven arrived, and they developed the kind of shorthand that people do when they build something together. They also built a system that was rather, um... fucked up. But since it developed gradually, they all understood it perfectly and it seemed totally normal to them. So, along came Sven, and a couple other new people, who were trained in yet remained bewildered by this system, and they eventually developed their own system.
This system is just fine for Big Cheese, because she just wants things to get done and has avoided a position in management because she has no desire to tell anyone what to do or how to do it. DeeDee, however, is pissed. She trained Sven to do things her way, he discovered that it didn't work as well on his shifts (mostly weekends, which are extremely busy), and he resents her for "trying to control him."
Yep. This is where I work. Sven will go through the whole cheese case, rearranging and straightening and beautifying the display to his satisfaction, and then he will walk away, and Barbara will go behind him and change it. This is much more amusing/infuriating on the one day that they work together. As a person who should be spending a good deal of their time talking about and selling wine, it is quite discouraging to spend twice as long as I should have to cutting the cheese (heh heh- I said "cutting the cheese"- see how easily amused I am?) because they are spending half the day doing and undoing each other's work. I should add that these two are both well into their forties, and well past the age where childish behavior is comprehensible, much less acceptable.
The good news is that their crazy makes West Coast Karen's crazy seem so much more charming.
"Skylar. Skylar. Skylar. Skylar. Skylar. SKYLAR. That's a stranger."
My co-worker at the Local Grocery was talking to me about germs. Tom is almost sixty, though he looks about forty-five to me. He's funny and nice, and one of the few people that I think I actually relate to there. I mean, there are plenty of nice people at the LG, but not very many that I would actually allow in my house, or say, have a beer with.
A lot of people have been getting sick lately, and there has been a big push for extra sanitation, which I appreciate.
"If you ever need to use this phone," he said, picking up the receiver, "you can wipe it down with this stuff." He had a spray bottle with disinfectant in it which he sprayed directly onto the mouthpiece.
I explained to him that while I am not necessarily a dyed in the wool germophobe, I do tend to wipe down the handles in the bathroom with hand sanitizer every time I use it.

"Yeah, my wife and I are both a little nutty about germs," he responded, and bent to pick up a piece of cheddar that had fallen to the floor. He popped it in his mouth and wished me a good day.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

"What's your favorite?" asked the woman, looking over the dessert menu.
"I'm a big fan of the pot du creme," I answered, pronouncing the first word Poe as I had been taught by chef.
"Well, I think I'll pronounce it like the French would, and I'll have the pot du creme," said the woman's friend, with an extra emphasis on the t.

I'll be sure and tell the French chef that his French mother taught him the wrong pronunciation of that French word, I thought.
What I actually said, after a pause that was just long enough to let the other three ladies' discomfort register in their brains so that they wouldn't bring the troll back again, was
"Well okay then. Anyone else?" I had plastered on the kind of big, fake smile that one needs in order to survive in the service industry. They all ordered with the kind of pleading looks on their faces that one wears when one is hoping that you don't spit in their desserts, too.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Notes To Self

I was cleaning out my "writing/sewing" desk today (the bunny ears are due to the fact that I neither write nor sew at that desk, and it sits there and mocks me insolently while I waste hours and hours on the internets) and I cam across a number of scraps of paper, napkins, old receipts, ticket stubs, and the like. I am certain that I have mentioned this habit before, but I'm too lazy to look up an instance of it and link, so I'll just say that often (especially while bartending) I have thoughts or overhear conversations or phrases that I feel the need to jot down for later use, either in a blog post or a scene in the forthcoming Book/TV Show/Movie that I hope to some day sit down and write. Some of these things are universal to all bartending jobs, and made me laugh and think about how many times this has happened to me recently. An example of this is a piece of napkin that reads:

"Thanks, I appreciate it." Yeah, I can tell because YOU KEEP SAYING THAT.

It is difficult to italicize on a bev nap. It is also difficult to remember exactly what the person looked like that prompted this particular Note To Self, because his behavior has been rep[eated by so many people as to render him one of a faceless mass. I do remember that the guy was buying drinks, taking back all of his change without tipping, and very earnestly telling me how much he appreciated my service. As if somehow I could tell my landlord how much I was appreciated at my job and he would decide to forgo my rent.

There are other notes which are very specific to a place or a band or a situation. Some of these make me nostalgic, and others make me really happy to have changed jobs. Like this:

What kind of night? Look no further than the ladies' room.
Cheap perfume smell + empty airplane bottles of flavored rum = rednecks.
Puke and broken glass and empty pints of cheap vodka = Sorostitutes.
Graffiti + puke + empty whiskey bottles = punk rock show.
Haze of patchouli + pot smoke = goddamned hippies.

The Local Restaurant may not be glamorous, but I never have to deal with vomit. (*knock wood*)