Thursday, December 23, 2010

I don't feel like it's Christmas time at all. I keep telling myself that I have time to take care of the things I want to do before the holidays, but unless The Holidays extends to Fat Tuesday, it appears I am mistaken. Oh well. Maybe next year then.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Customer of the Day (this was a tough competition today) was a woman who was browsing wine. I approached her and asked
"Is there anything I can help you find?"
She answered, in a very irritable tone "I really just want to be left alone okay?"

Seriously. The holidays to things to people. I can't fucking wait until this is over. Please keep in mind, everybody, that as much as you hate shopping at this time of year, many of us are there because we have to be.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I have been suffering from swollen and aching knuckles on my fingers for the last three weeks or so. It started as soon as the weather got very cold, and I was assuming it was a kind of arthritis or some such. When I got to the dermatologist on Tuesday, she informed me that it was a skin condition.
"That's your skin trying to tell you your fingers are chilly. Do you have it on your toes as well?" Affirmative. "Frost bite is your skin telling you it's freezing. This is telling you it's chilly."
She went on about bad circulation, etc. Told me to get another pair of gloves to put under my gloves and to wear while I work, and then told me to be more mindful of my temperature. I spent yesterday at work realizing that my hands are basically always cold and that my job causes it. This means that I either need new hands or a new job. I know which one I'd rather have.
My hands are cold even as I type this. My index fingers look as if I've slammed them in a car door. It's bizarre to me what I am able to simply ignore. Weird. I guess this means it's off to the sporting goods store for glove liners today.

In other news, I helped my transvestite friend shop again the other day. It all happened rather by accident. We were meeting up for another reason completely, which turned into stopping off at the drug store, where I helped him figure out barrettes and makeup remover and then held them in my hands while we checked out (he paid, but it's a small town and you never know who you might run into).
We then stopped at a small boutique store. He is looking for a little black dress. The first store had nothing of the sort, and the second one, which is going out of business, had loads of things. And at 50 to 80% off, they were very nearly reasonably priced. He did not feel comfortable talking out loud there, and certainly not trying anything on, but we talked quite a bit and I got an idea what he was looking for. Next we headed over to TeeJay Max where the prices were much more reasonable. He had never been. I was looking for a bra and he came over and we discussed underpants. It never occurred to me that he might not know the difference between a bikini and a hi-cut. Also, "boy pants" were rather ironic, under the circumstances. I had no idea what to tell him about how they would fit- I mean, they will obviously fit him rather differently, right? So yeah. He took one of each, and we got a couple camisoles and some tights. When we got into sweaters and such, we would hold a sweater up to me to see how the size looked, and when it looked like it fir me we jumped up a size for him. After all this we again went to check out and again acted like it was all for me and he paid. There's something really entertaining about all of the subterfuge. Unnecessary, I think, but amusing nonetheless. And since it isn't my private life, I don't have to feel uncomfortable about it.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Oh gods just saw a commercial for something called dragon, which allows you to speak to your computer and it will type for you. WANT! I would be such a better blogger if I could just run my mouth rather than having to type.
That is all. More later when I am in the mood to type (see?).

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The rest of our trip to North Carolina was fairly uneventful. The weather was nice enough on Friday that the b.h. and I decided to drive to the beach and watch the sunset. We went through the town of Kittyhawk, but failed to see any of the Wright Brothers monuments and whatnot because we didn't really have the time or inclination. Friday evening we went to the grocery store to get ready for Saturday's Big Day of Cooking.
Saturday I left the b.h. in the kitchen and went out with his mom and sister. We poked around in some antique stores and I took a bunch of pictures. I also bought a colorful set of pint glasses from Italy.
Dinner was fabulous and gone in practically an instant. Everyone was surprised to find that not only was the quinoa stuffing edible, but it was actually delicious- and better than the traditional stuffing that his sister insisted that his mom make. For a bunch of open-minded people, they really are funny about food, and they can't imagine how a vegetarian functions in this world. After eight years with this family, I find it quite perplexing.
On Sunday we rode with the b.h.'s sister and her husband up to D.C. I slept through most of the drive. We had a snack when we got there, and then we all went straight to a nearby Imax theater to see the new Harry P0tter movie. It was perfectly enjoyable, but I am still not convinced that the giant screen was worth paying double the ticket price.
We had dinner reservations at one of Jose Andres' restaurants. I can't remember the name of it at the moment, but it had food from Lebanon, Turkey, and that general vicinity. It was all delicious. I ate every bit of everything, and only just managed to refrain from licking each tapas plate before it left the table. We went to bed quite early after that.
On Monday, we were left to our own devices while the others went to work. We got up fairly early and rode the Metr0 down to the national mall. We walked over to the Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, and the FDR and Jefferson Memorials before catching a train to meet the b.h.'s good friend J for lunch. It was around fifty degrees and sunny outside, so it was a perfect day for walking and sightseeing.
Lunch was delightful. I met J's girlfriend for the first time. The food was great and conversation flowed freely. I have only met J a couple of times, but he and the b.h. are best friends and I feel quite close to him. Also, I got to try a beer from West Virginia that I hadn't had before.
After lunch we got back on the train and went to the National Sculpture Garden (where sculptures ranged from pretty cool to "oh my gods I don't even want to know what they spent on that" and rounded out with what was obviously a representation of female genitalia (in bronze, I believe). After that we went to the National Archives, a dimly lit room filled with founding documents and security guards. Despite how that might sound, it was incredibly interesting. I love seeing some of those things crossed out and corrected.
We left the archives and got a cup of coffee before wandering over to the Capitol Building. My feet and knees were killing me by this point, but I wanted to see everything so I just sort of dealt with it. I was walking like a hundred-year-old, but I was walking.
You have to call in advance and make an appointment to tour the Capitol, so we just walked around outside and took pictures. We also walked past the Supreme Court and Library of Congress, bu by this time it was very late and nothing was open. We took the train back and packed our things, and left soon after for the airport, which was once again virtually empty. The flight back was bumpy but otherwise uneventful.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

We got to the house and unloaded our bags from the car. The b.h.'s mom (I really must come up with a shorter name for her) then took me around the house, showing off the secret cupboards, the creepy elevator, and all of the beautiful small details like keyhole covers and light fixtures and knobs.
The bathroom in the guest room was something I found particularly interesting. The b.h. said that he was sure there was a name for this type, so perhaps one of you can help me: Picture if you will a carton of a dozen eggs. The first two eggs represent the guest loo off of our room, the next four eggs represent the shower, and the other six represent the loo on the other side, which one would enter from the hallway. The shower has sliding doors on both sides and access from either, and if you left it open on both sides you could conceivably say, share the morning paper with the person on the toilet in the other room. Whenever I went to use ours, I would go out into the hallway and shut the room from that side. The one time I forgot to do this I was alarmed at just how much activity I could hear in the rest of the house while I was, uh, doing my business. (Luckily nobody came up the stairs until I was done.)
The tub was very, very deep, the tile was beautiful, and the water pressure and temperature were fantastic. The sink on our side was hilariously small, and I found myself cocking my head sideways in a very awkward way while brushing my teeth or washing my face so as to avoid soaking the whole floor, but it was very convenient to be have a bathroom of our own.

We had a short time to sit and relax before we were expected for dinner across the street, so I perused Momma B.H.'s books. I found one on the history of beer in America and a new Maisie Dobbs and settled into a chair to commence relaxation.

We walked across the street an hour after our original invitation time, because MBH had called over and they reported that the turkey was taking longer than they expected. Paul opened the door to greet us. He is a huge man - apparently he used to play professional football. He greeted us warmly and led us inside, where exactly one other person was seated on a leather couch that could have held every person I know in Vermont. Grace stood and introduced herself, and like Paul she towered over all of us (The b.h. is slightly shorter than me and his parents are even shorter). Martha was n the kitchen and called out to us, promising to come see us as soon as she had things under control.
We made our way around the couch, which took up most of the living room, and spread out along it. I felt like Lilly Tomlin on Sesame Street. Paul asked each of us for a drink order, offering a local white wine (which I knew full well was going to be incredibly sweet but didn't really care)and bringing us each a glass.
Now, a brief explanation of Martha and Paul. They are both retired teachers from Buffalo, New York. They moved to town to get away from the harsh Northern winters and went back to teaching on a government program (don't ask me which one because I can't remember). He is the football coach and she teaches Home Economics. He is black, and she is white, and this is important because in E. City, like many small Southern towns, it is still 1955 and this is not normal. Paul explained that the black folks in town think he had no business marrying a white woman, and that if he was going to do so he should at very least have the decency to live in the black part of town. Paul and Martha chose their house not because of their neighbors but because, as he put it, "It's the kind of house I have always wanted." So they are very happy that the b.h.'s parents, being open-minded, have moved in across the street.
We were treated to a bizarre and often hilarious account of all of the neighbors, including a woman we had seen earlier who apparently lets her dog shit on everyone else's lawn all the time and then called the police when Paul came over to her house to return one such package on the end of a shovel, claiming that there was "a Big Black Man coming at (her) with a shovel."
Grace shared some thoughts about local politics and then said that she was working with a coach "to help her feel more positive and be more positive about myself and where I want my life to go" (so yes- a life coach). Martha eventually came out to get a drink and explain that the turkey was almost ready. Everyone was very nice and talk flowed freely and easily, but I was reminded why I am glad to live in the Big City (population 8000).
Dinner was lovely, but MBH had failed to tell our hosts that I am a vegetarian, so they (mortified) put out a small log of goat cheese and extra bread at my place, apologizing profusely for the meat in every dish. I had expected as much, because I lived in the South for a long time (and I have also known MBH a long time), and assured them that I would be just fine with the potatoes and cranberry sauce and cheese. I ate a lot of cheese and bread and butter and hoped that I still had another granola bar in my bag back at the house.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The b.h. and I went to visit his parents for Thanksgiving. They recently bought a house (which will serve as their retirement home) in the Outer Banks region of North Carolina. We flew out on Thanksgiving, which was great, because while the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year in airports across the country, the actual holiday was quite the opposite. We were prepared for the worst, arriving at the tiny airport in Burlington two hours in advance only to find t quiet as a tomb. Security was pleasant, I didn't get the porn camera or get felt up, and everyone was very pleasant overall. We flew to New York on a plane that actually had propellers (pictures later when I am less lazy) with a delightfully cheerful flight attendant. LaGuardia was also quite empty. It would have been an ideal time to film a post-apocalyptic zombie movie. Unfortunately that wasn't happening. Our flight to Norfolk was also uneventful, except for the enraged flight attendant. While entering the plane, I passed him and made the mistake of asking "How'ya doing?", to which he responded "I'm working on Thanksgiving, that's how I'm doing" in his angriest gay Southern man accent. The b.h. snorted with laughter behind me. We were sitting across the aisle from one another in the second row of the plane, from which vantage point we were treated to his tearing every soda angrily from it's six pack holder and then slamming it into the refrigerator, then every cabinet in his tiny compartment. He also complained loudly to each employee that was silly enough to speak to him. I text messaged my friend A in giddy anticipation of an in flight meltdown. Once everyone was seated though, he managed to find his game face.
We landed and called the b.h.'s parents, who were on their way to pick us up. While we waited outside, I watched two men trying in vain to jump start a car that was in the fire lane, standing right in front of the entrance to the airport. I was tempted to go and help them, because what they were actually doing was repeatedly flooding the engine while not waiting long enough for the battery to take a charge, but I refrained, since the last thing a man (and especially a Southern Man) wants is to be told by a woman how to fix his car.
In the car, the b.h.'s mom chatted happily away to us while looking more often at the rear view mirror than the road in front of her. We were to have Thanksgiving Dinner on Saturday, since the b.h.'s sister and her husband wouldn't be down until Friday night. Halfway back to the house, the b.h.'s mom said
"Oh, I forgot to tell you about dinner."
to which his father responded
"You didn't tell them?"
with just enough incredulity in his voice that I became truly worried.
After an incredibly draw-out explanation, we discovered that we would be having Thanksgiving Dinner at the home of their neighbors across the street who had "a bunch of stragglers" coming for the holiday.
This is why I hate holidays.

No, You Don't.

So one of the pet peeves of the cheese department employees is people who come in and tell us how much cheaper they get certain cheeses at other stores. I don't know if this happens in other departments or not, but our cheeses are marked up in a very standard way. Some of them are probably more expensive than they are at other stores, but I also know for a fact that some of them are a lot less expensive. There are various reasons for this, none of them having anything to do with our trying to screw anybody out of fifty cents.
They are also cut and wrapped (for the most part) in house, and there is virtually always somebody on staff who can let you have a taste, cut any order to size, and help you find exactly what you are looking for. This is not the case at the chain stores. For some reason, people do not seem to recognize this, and not only do they not get it, but they feel the need to tell us about it. One thing that is repeatedly said is "I have to tell you..." followed by what kind of cheese they got for how much and at which other store.

In another stunning display of customer ignorance, when I asked a woman what I could help her find, she responded:
"You guys really need a Trader J0e's here. I can't afford what I want."
That one left me speechless.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Customer of the Day today was a woman who I first notices as she threw (and I mean literally THREW) a piece of soft-ripened cheese back into the display case after checking the price. I went over to move it(because in addition to brutalizing it she had put it in the wrong fucking place, of course) and noticed that she was now clawing her way through a pile of brie.

"Let me help you with that," I said very loudly, from just behind her shoulder.She jumped, not having seen me.
"Can I help you find something?"
"No, because you don't have what I'm looking for." She was still at it. I swear she must have touched every single piece.
"And what exactly are you looking for?"
"I need a piece of brie that's four dollars and seventeen cents."
"You're right. We don't have that."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Betty was a bartender. She can't hear very well, so she and I tend to have very lengthy conversations without much information actually being exchanged. The other day I had just clocked out and picked up a six pack to take home when we had our first real conversation, during which I found out that she really enjoys working in the deli (she is positively ALONE in this feeling), and that she thinks it should be more "fun." Maybe that's why she thinks the deli should be more "fun".

"I don't know why everybody is so afraid of the customers. They just want their stuff and you just have to give it to them. If they have to wait a minute, then tell 'em to wait. It's not a big deal."

She is either insane or a genius. Gods bless her, I hope she makes it work.

There is a manager at work who I am very fond of. She is about four foot eleven, so I will refer to her as The Short manager henceforth. Anyway, TSM and I have an interesting shared history: Waitresses, band managers, vagabonds. She asked me if I wanted to swing by after work the other night for a glass of wine. I did, and we had a great conversation and avoided talking about work as much as possible in order to keep ourselves sane. After a glass each, however, we were both talking about the possibility of leaving, and both talking about not talking about it. Hilarious. It seems we may continue on similar paths.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On my first assignment for Oddfellows Local 151, I was asked to sit in on a meeting with a member of our grocery department and the Head Grocery Manager. There was another Steward present, not because I hadn't had one of these meetings before but because the grocery employee felt that they needed extra support. It all went fairly smoothly, as far as I could see. The HGM was very calm and neutral and took notes and barely reacted to anything that was told to him. When he seemed slightly defensive I jumped right in and said that I was merely trying to initiate a conversation and that I was not making assumptions, etc, etc. So I was feeling okay about it when the HGM left the room. Except I obviously don't know the history between these two people, and therefore couldn't understand why the employee in question freaked out after he walked out and started accusing him of being "such an asshole" and saying that the whole thing was "total bullshit." I disagreed, and I thought this employee was being a bit dramatic under the circumstances, but didn't say so, choosing rather to tell them that the HGM was supposed to remain neutral and that he said he would take action regarding the complaint. Case closed, one would think. But not. This employee went on a bit of an emotional tangent then, and the facts revealed to me said that the situation was actually caused by something in the employee's past, and then I knew that there was no way for the HGM to fix it because the employee needs help and will otherwise never feel better about the situation. After we spoke for a few minutes, I got up and left, telling the employee to take a moment to relax and then get back to work.
Later I had a short conversation with the other steward, who also had the same reaction to the situation. That steward approached the employee later and had a private conversation offering suggestions on how to deal with the past thing. I also had a quick talk with the HGM and let him know that I was new to the whole situation but that I was not to be viewed as an adversary because I was there to solve problems, not to get him fired. I actually felt pretty good about it. It had taken up about half an hour or forty minutes, but I felt like good headway was made.
Then the next day the Employee approached me again. The issue had not been settled yet, and the employee was very upset, having an emotional meltdown and cussing the HGM behind his back within range of many, many other employees. The employee was also not getting any work done because there was too much drama to be had. I dealt with it as best I could, told the employee to talk to the HGM when he got back the next day, and then got back to my job.
I had two days off, and when I returned I went upstairs to punch in and saw The Employee in a meeting with the HGM, his assistant, and another steward. Then I found out that this employee had included five (!!) other people in an official capacity in this situation. Oy. Later I met with the steward from our original meeting and the steward from that day and told them I was bowing out. This employee was obviously just trying to get as many people as possible on what the employee perceived as their team. Total B.S. What a waste of like, two hours of my time. Ugh. I don't know if I'm cut out for this. It feels rather like high school.

The other major snag, staff/union wise, is the kitchen. I haven't had to deal with that yet, but from what I can tell it's a lot like Israel and Palestine. I believe that makes me Hillary R0dham Clinton.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Local Grocery is Unionized. This means decent wages, health insurance, paid time off, and a basic right to be treated like a person. The Union was started at the LG many years ago because there was a General Manager who was a giant pain in the ass - incompetent, unprofessional, and unfair to most of the employees.
So began Oddfellows Local 151, the Local arm of a National Union which is quite powerful in this part of the country. It is required that as a new hire in a non-management position at the LG you join the Union(Managers are not represented, which is one reason why I wouldn't be a manager there if you doubled my wages). Five dollars are taken out of each paycheck in order to pay for the Union's operating expenses.
Recently, OFL151 had an election in which the members chose Stewards. These are people who will represent employees in any "situation" with management. I was one of the people elected to this position, and today was my first official day of OFL151 Steward's Training.
Boy howdy was it exhausting.
There are a lot of rules, a lot of forms, and more information than one could possibly be expected to memorize. Luckily our local Union Rep is very organized and very smart and has been doing this for a long time. We spent the afternoon at a co-worker's house learning our responsibilities and catching up on current Issues that are affecting our membership.
Suffice to say that my brain is full. I am glad to be involved even though I know it will mean more responsibility and more headaches. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

So winter is officially here. The cold isn't anything like it is going to be, but car car has had a thin layer of snow on it for a full 24 hours now, so there's no turning back. Sigh.
In other news, I have been invited to a vegetarian pot luck and craft beer shindig tonight at out beer buyer's house. If I can get my ironing and housework done and get the dogs to the park in time, I will also be going to yoga class for the first time in months. I just discovered, to my delight, that my instructor is a bit Slobberbone fan. Now I just hope I can shut up about that long enough to actually do the yoga.

Speaking of Slobberbone, they're playing a show with the Centro-matic boys (who are currently in Spain, I believe) on New Year's Eve in Dallas. The very thought of it makes me want to go buy a lottery ticket.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Fair Warning: This is an incredibly boring work rant about something that I am recording because I know I will have to use this guy in the future, when I am writing a TV show about my stupid job(s). Don't waste your time here unless you are very bored, easily amused, or both.*

So there's this guy who used to work at the Local Grocery. He is now a regular customer, and he enjoys talking about wine. The thing is, he talks like he knows everything about it, and then he says things that are completely opposite of what is um, what I believe you might call "common knowledge."
Now, I am not any kind of expert, and I do not claim to be. But if you ask me for a recommendation, and you look at the label and say

"But they don't grow anything there. I used to live there"

I have to wonder how I am supposed to react.

"Apparently they do, because here it is" was my answer. So this guy lived in California maybe twenty or thirty years ago. Okay, whatever.

The next time he comes in we have a conversation about some other kind of wine. Again I give hm several recommendations (at his request, mind you), and again he chooses something else. Fine.

Then another time he tells me how great a particular wine is and I reply that I didn't like it and he looks completely crestfallen. I also am careful to say that Barbara loves it and that it's a Kerm!t Lynch import and therefore I was sure it was a great quality wine, but that it had simply been not my cup of tea. He still seems upset. At that point I swore to Sven that I was never going to talk to Wine Mike about wine again. I have studiously avoided him, ducking into the back or heading for the bathroom when I see him coming. Sven has witnessed every one of these encounters, and he agrees that there s no other solution. He even warns me when he sees Wine Mike coming.
He caught me last weekend when I wasn't paying attention, asked about a particular white Italian wine that was on sale, and I replied vaguely that I had tried it but that it had been a long time, and rattled off a couple of very general details that I remembered (and which he could have read on the big sign that was on the display). He said that these details were "weird" and that they didn't match a regular profile of that type of wine. I didn't really respond to that statement because it was the opposite of what I thought was true (but again, I'm no expert, and what would be the point of arguing that anyway?) but I nodded my head and told him to try it.

"It's really nice. You'll love it."

Today I saw WM long before he saw me, so I made quick eye contact with Sven and motioned that I was disappearing for a minute. I went into the back, checked to see if there was any good cull, chatted briefly with the beer guy, stopped in the kitchen to pick up the cheese cutter, and returned after what I thought was a safe amount of time. It wasn't.

I overheard Sven saying to him

"I don't know, man. I don't drink." (Which is funny, because Sven made me dinner the other night and we shared a lovely bottle of Sauv Blanc.)

I stayed behind the counter, going directly to the sink and trying to look busy in hopes that he would walk away. No such luck. He walked behind the counter, holding the bottle up to me, and started talking about it.
As politely as I could, I said
"Yeah, I remember we talked about that last week."

"You said you hadn't had it." And then he went on to describe the flavor profile exactly as I had said it to him, tropical fruit and blah blah blah, and I said

"I just said that I hadn't had it in awhile and I couldn't remember that much about it."

He looked puzzled.

"But you liked it? That's great."

And then he went off about it again, and again said that the qualities it had were completely atypical to that variety, etc. And again he was wrong. I actually was certain that he was wrong this time, because I looked up the information in a few places and everything I read was consistent with what I said.

Sven was standing behind him, shaking his head.

When Wine Mike finally went away, I was like

"What is the deal here? I mean, what do you think his point is? I cannot for the life of me figure out why he just keeps at it."

"I think he just wants to talk." Sven seemed exasperated as well. "I had to change the subject like three times."

"But why me? We obviously have NOTHING IN COMMON! It's just baffling!"

So that's the end of the story. I am confused and exhausted by this person, and no, he isn't hitting on me. I just think he is one of those socially inept people that seem to gather at the Local Grocery. I sure wish he'd bugger off, though.

*I suppose the same could be said about this entire blog, come to think of it.
Today there was some kind of expo downtown involving food. Apparently it was mobbed, and people were walking around getting samples of stuff that they were told they could then purchase at the Local Grocery. Our management was heavily involved in the promotion and production of this thing, but somehow failed to give any of the employees who were actually working in the store today a list of the items that were being sampled.
So you might imagine that things were a bit messy. We ran out of one of the cheeses halfway through the day, because we hadn't ordered any extra. Also, I repeatedly had customers approach me and ask for "that local goat cheese they were sampling at the expo." We have about fifty local goat cheeses, and I had no idea which ones were there. When I finally was able to track down a list of the vendors at this thing, I still didn't know what products they had, but at least I could narrow it down. So now I get a lady who comes up and says she's looking for the goat cheese from XYZ Company with ginger in it.

"They don't make one."

"I just had it," she insisted, in a tone that suggested I was obviously stupid.

"Well, I'm sorry, but I have never seen an XYZ ginger goat cheese.

Now Janice the Operations Manager is approaching.

"What's the question?"

Before I can say anything, the woman gets right in Janice's face, waving a small tub of herbed XYZ goat cheese, and repeats her demand loudly:

"It's in a tub just like this." The tub in her hand is about three inches in diameter, an inch and a half tall, with a cream colored lid and the name of the company in neat maroon letters, containing four ounces of cheese.

At this point I walk away, because I am done trying to reason with this woman. (I walked away a lot today).

Then I looked at the list again and realized what she was looking for. I went back out and asked her:

"Wait- do you mean ABC goat cheese?"

She stopped in mid bark and, just like Kilgore, cocked her head sideways for a second.

"That might be-"

I came around the counter and pointed at the giant pile of tubs (around five inches in diameter and an inch tall, with purple writing and a large, smiling animal on the front, containing nearly eight ounces) of ABC cheese that was approximately one and a half feet to her left, right in the front of the display.

She quickly dropped the other cheese (in the wrong place), grabbed the one she was looking for, and walked away.

Monday, November 01, 2010

36 Degrees. Feels Like 28.

Boooooooooooooo. Sometimes I wish I didn't have this information at my fingertips. Makes the likelihood of getting out of my pajamas today very low.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Let's see.. what have I been up to? Oh, that's right. Not a whole fucking lot, thanks to the Culinary school keeping our loan check and us not having any fucking money. Seriously, if y'all here about a huge fire in Montpeculiar, assume I finally went up to the financial aid office myself.

I did get to the park with A and dogs this week, which was fun. I also made a bunch of appointments, for a haircut that I desperately need, a car repair that's even more necessary, the vet, etc. We were promised this check would be here ABSOLUTELYNOLATERTHAN today. Liars. Assholes. Bastards.

Oops- sorry. there I go getting distracted by rage again.

So yeah. Not a lot to report. My folks are in Florida for the season, I am supremely happy for them, and I hope to visit them after the first of the year. My job is fine, there are some politics there that are so stupid it's almost hilarious, but that's another story for another day. Right now I have to go refrigerate the mead I brought home today. There will be bread and cheese for dinner, and dog wrestling and bad TV for therapy. Have a lovely weekend, y'all.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I am having trouble with blogger today. For some reason, there is no longer an option to sign in with an account that isn't Google. When I first got gmail, I tried to change my primary blogger address to my gmail account, and it wouldn't allow me to. Now, when I try to log in, it doesn't give me an option to sign in using anything BUT a Google account. I was only able to get here by signing in to post a comment on Z's blog (thanks, Z!), and I am uncertain as to how long that will be an option. Is anybody else having a problem?
I guess I may or may not be able to read your answers if you comment, so do e-mail me if you can. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The b.h. and I spent all day yesterday at a big wine show in Stowe. It basically involved a beautiful drive, a two hour seminar with a hilarious and engaging Spanish importer who peppered his talk with expletives and blunt opinions (while he was walking us through a tasting of 25 delicious wines), and a walk-around tasting of a couple hundred wines. Also, there were snacks in the form of cheese and bread and olives and nuts and the like. It was fantastic.
Today I have another show just like it, this time in Essex, and unfortunately no one to accompany me. Ah well.
It has gotten brutally cold suddenly, and I wasn't entirely prepared. I did manage to get out all of the winter clothes from storage, but I'll have to hurry up with the plastic for our windows and the heavier curtains. Twenty six degrees last night. Ugh. The good news is that the dogs have been a lot more snuggly as a result.
I have been cooking a lot more these days, since the b.h. has been in class at night and I have had to fend for myself. I have perfected the roasted cauliflower recipe, made a batch of fig and cardamom ice cream (thanks to Z for the recipe), and tried my hand at baked apples, which were delicious. Have to practice different kinds of salads so I don't get bored with lettuce. Next up: lasagna. Wish me luck.
Other than that, I haven't been doing anything very exciting. Trying to get the dogs out to Hubbard park every day, and we seem to have figured out when and where to go to meet with other people and dogs. Kilgore is a social butterfly, and he loves running around with other dogs. Wyatt, on the other hand, tends to skirt around the edges or just bolt for the car. Mostly I'm with Wyatt.
Been reading Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle, still plodding through A Month of Sundays, not because I don't enjoy it but because the language is pretty thick and I have to have all of my wits about me (which doesn't happen often) in order to read it. On audiobook I've been listening to Good Omens, and I have a book of short stories by a Canadian author whose name I can't quite recall for the spare moments I have during a break at work or while I am waiting in the dentist's office.
Speaking of the dentist, I will be heading back there tomorrow to get my fancy new gold pirate caps. Fortunately the teeth are pretty far back, so I don't have to seek a career in rap just yet. For the past two weeks I have been living with a temporary wax cap fitted over both teeth. This is so that the dentist can send away the mold to get the caps made. The wax has been driving me insane. I popped it off within the first couple days, and have since been removing it every night to soak it in alcohol while I carefully brush the extremely sensitive teeth underneath. I have never looked so forward to a dentist's appointment as I am to the one tomorrow. The wax cap is going to be a lovely shade of purply black from the back to back wine tastings. I wonder what my Mormon dentist will think?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I have a friend who has recently decided to explore cross dressing. This is something that he has obviously been thinking about for a long, long time, and I am excited that he is finally going for it. I am also (selfishly) thrilled to have another person to shop with, because most of the people that I care anything about up here are very busy and on a very different schedule from mine. A is my only other shopping buddy and I don't want that to be the only thing we do together, and I hate to make the b.h. go shopping unless he absolutely needs something, because although he politely waits for me wherever we go, he clearly does not enjoy himself and I don't want waste our very limited time together like that.
Also, my new shopping buddy is inclined, like me, to troll thrift shops and goodwill and the like, spending no more than five or ten dollars on a given item, but piling a cart high and trying on ten or twenty things in a go. Today was our first journey together. We went to get makeup first. Not being very good at that sort of thing myself, I felt like my advice was rather useless, so I took him to the MAC store. His idea was that he would go in and pick a few items that he liked and take them home and try them out. My idea was that we would have a professional makeup artist show him how to do it.
"That's what the people at these stores do, I argued. That's what they're here for."
He was skeptical, sure that he wouldn't be comfortable and doubtful that a person working there would be either.
When we walked in, we were greeted by a man in a very lovely flowing pair of black pants with a huge belt buckle. He had a shaved head, and had shaved off his eyebrows and painted them on with a gorgeous, movie star flourish. He asked what he could help us with. My friend (I'll have to come up with a name here eventually, but I am being so careful not to out him that I can't even think of a good fake name so am going to go with X) answered immediately that he wanted to buy some makeup.
"Are we talking like, standard men's grooming, or-"

"No," said X.

"Or Halloween-"

"No," said X again, this time a little more quickly. "More like everyday use. Trans stuff."

"Okay, great. Why don't we sit you over here..."

That was pretty much the end of it. I let the girl who was there put a face on me, and actually learned a few things. X has a great time and looked lovely when all was said and done. He bought a whole round of stuff, which cost a lung, but will likely be a near-lifetime supply, so there you go.

After that we hit an overpriced vintage store where he got a great pair of cowboy boots, and then off to g00dwill where we hit the motherload. I got a new hat and a scarf and a sweater and a long sleeved shirt for eight bucks, and we found X a handful of skirts and tops that fit and were flattering.

After I dropped X at work, I picked up the boys and went to Hubbard park for an hour and a half. We hiked and played with other dogs and wore ourselves out.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chicago trip, Part Something (I've lost count).

We went to brunch on Sunday at The Publican. T and his ladyfriend B met us, as did my friend W and his wife B. I also snagged an old friend whom I haven't seen since college, but who I have caught up with recently thanks to faceb00k. The food was fantastic and so was the company. After we went over to T and B's new place, where her mother was going to be meeting us with more of B's things that were being moved from her old hometown out of state.
During the tour, we found out that B's mom is under the impression that B has her own room in this apartment. A room in which she supposedly sleeps, alone, although her mom knows that she and T are in fact in a relationship. It was all very weird, especially because the second room is obviously an office and has no bed in it. I suppose if you have strong enough faith you can believe in anything, and since hers precludes the acceptance of her daughter as a full grown woman living with a man and sharing a bed without being married to him, maybe she can tell herself that her daughter sleeps in the living room on a futon in front of a picture window and take some kind of comfort. have no idea how, but there you go. The b.h. and I were not privy to this information before we agreed to go to their house, and so were planning on making a hasty exit. We were just about to announce our departure when the door buzzed. We stayed long enough to shake hands with B's mom and exchange about five minutes of pleasantries about the weather and her drive, and then she mentioned that B's TV was still in the car and it obviously shouldn't stay there in plain sight in the city, so we took the opportunity to duck out.
We ran up Milwaukee to check out our usual spots: Reckless Records, Myopic Books, and Buffalo Exchange. I discovered that The Brown Elephant was gone, and replaced by a vintage shop that had the same cool old crap at about five times the price, so that was disappointing. Then we grabbed some coffee and headed back to my parent's house. Sunday night we ate Mexican food from a little local place. I think we fed five of us for about forty bucks, which is a major part of the reason I love real Mexican food. Monday was lunch with the b.h.'s brother at Goose Island and another pizza for dinner, this time at my parent's house. Tuesday we went to the Chicago History Museum with my parents. It was recently renovated and is exceptionally well done, I think. I took lots of pictures but very few of them turned out. I learned quite a few things that I had not known about Chicago, none of which come to mind at the moment. Anyway, if you're ever in Chicago, do stop by. It's smaller and less crowded than the big museums, and easily doable in half a day, which is nice.
We went back out to Oak Park that evening, bought some delicious Goose Island Beer, and had Thai food delivered to my sister's house. That night we stayed up far too late talking, and then got up at the crack of dawn to get to the airport.
Again the whole experience was very smooth except for the actual flight, which was so bumpy that the pilot actually got on the intercom and apologized. I though the b.h. was going to lose his bagel and cream cheese, but he managed not to.
Back in Boston, we got lost (as per usual) trying to get out of town. We stopped in Manchester for Nepalese food at a place called Cafe MoMo. Everything was delicious and I might even say that it was the best meal of the whole trip.
All in all, a great trip and I have had a difficult time readjusting since we've been back.

As promised, some pictures of my new dog nephews. The first one is Oswald. He owns my sister and brother-in-law. The second one is Bear. He owns my parents.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Last Friday I was working with Sven, and one of our co-workers came in wearing a costume. She is a very small, bleached blonde girl who generally goes for the tons of black eyeliner and a hot pink shirt look. But that day she came in full cowboy gear, plus a black wig, big black eyebrows, and a mustache that at first glance was passably realistic.
"Hey. So you're going tonight then?" asked Sven.

"Yeah. I have to work until like eight-thirty, so I won't have time to go home and change. Are you going?"

"Yeah. I'm meeting Dana at eight and we're going together."

So this was a first. A Drag Ball in Montpeculiar. And Sven, quiet, reserved Sven, was going. Hmm.

"Sven, what are you about a 34 waist?" I asked.

"Yeah. Why?"

"I'm pretty sure I have a skirt that will fit you if you want one."

"Really? Well, that's okay, I have a floral shirt and some overalls..."

So the rest of the day is busy and I forget the whole thing. Sven leaves at four, and then at five, I get a phone call:

"Do you have a top that would go with the skirt? What kind of look are we talking about? I don't have any tights, ether."

We discuss it a little further, and I tell him I have whatever he needs, plus makeup, which I will happily assist him with. He says he'll think about it and get back to me.
An hour later, the phone again:
"Would you want to GO to this thing? The ticket would be free. ANd would it be easier f I come to your house?"

I politely decline, because I am tired and looking forward to staying on the couch watching TV and drinking a beer or two. He finally hangs up when I agree to think about it.
So I pick him p after work and come to my house, where I plop him in the guest room and immediately raid my closet for anything remotely suitable. After a few changes and some hemming and hawing, he ends up in black tights, a denim mini skirt, and a long sleeved cowl neck sweater that looks like Sesame Street exploded all over it. (Translation: It's colorful and stripey). The crowning glory is a necklace that I have owned for over a year and still not found occasion to wear, featuring a four inch gold and white owl on a hideous fake gold chain. It was glorious. We moved over to his place for the makeup since he was waiting there for Dana. It took quite a bit longer to put makeup on him than the three minute job I usually do on myself on the rare occasion when I even bother with it, and by the time we were halfway through I was well into the spirit of the occasion, so I did myself up in a Nick Cave meets Dave Navarro style and went as his date.
It was so quiet when we got there that I hadn't realized that the show was already going. In Athens, drag is well attended, loud, crass, and very, very drunk. Here it takes place in a hotel ballroom with a tiny sound system and three guys who look like they escaped from the set of A Prairie Home Companion. They were in dresses, sure, but the songs and the jokes were safe enough for an old folks' home, and everyone (by "everyone" I mean "the thirty people who showed up on time") was sitting at tables sipping their drinks and golf-clapping after every joke. I looked at Sven, Sven looked at me, and we both headed straight for the bar.
It got better. A few people we worked with were there when we arrived. I was actually very tired, and I knew the b.h. would be calling for a ride when he was done with class, so I finished my first beer quickly and ordered a second round so I could get another drink for Sven, since he bought my ticket. The ladies were just in the middle of a very rousing number when my phone went off. I excused myself and ran to the back, and told the b.h. I'd be there shortly. When I got back to the table, the real trouble started pouring in the front door. I was a little bit sorry to leave just as the rowdy co-workers arrived, but at least I knew my date was in good hands. The local LGBT scene needs a lot of help here, but I'm glad they seem to be off to a good start and I was happy to be a part of it.

In other local dance news, there's this:

This was all the talk today when I got to work. FRONT PAGE NEWS in our local paper, in fact. I still can't believe it. Perhaps I do actually live in Mayberry.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

My parents are hilarious. They have been married for almost fifty years, and together a couple more than that, and they still seem to enjoy each other's company. They do, however, now that they are both retired and therefore home together all the time, get on each other's nerves a bit. They seem to manage it with great humor, though, and I am often reminded when I am home that the proverbial apple doesn't really fall far from the tree. Case in point: My dad makes some smart-ass remark while my mom is bent over looking for something in a cabinet. She responds by shaking her hips back and forth, which my dad translates for us:

"That's Lugan (See explanation here) for 'Kiss my ass.'"

"Yeah," my mom responds, laughing. "You know about Lugan foreplay, right? 'Fuck you. No, Fuck you!'"

On that subject, my mom has been researching our family tree. I still can't figure out how they got the spelling of her grandfather's name (it was something like Uzdacumwicz or something, but was changes at Ellis Island and then changed again with the next generation to the much more pronounceable Devens), but I would love to trace the family back to Lithuania and figure out what it really was there. Anyway, I won't bore you with the details, but I am pretty excited about it.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A great story that I heard at the surprise party, from my Uncle Matt:

"Do you know that restaurant downtown called (Something Something- I forgot. It's very, very pricey and very well known.)? Been there forever?"
"Do you know that they have only ever fired one water in all their years?"
"No, I didn't know that."
"You know why he got fired?"
I shook my head.
"He came up to a table, and this woman had a baked potato under her chair. So he says 'Is that a potato?' And she says (Here he puts on his bitchy, stick -up-the-ass female voice) 'Yes. It's cold.' And he says 'Would you like me to get you another potato?' And she says (His voice is even bitchier now, and he is making a face like he's smelling shit) 'Yes. That one is cold.'
So the guy takes the potato, goes back to the kitchen, and has them give him a new, hot potato. And then he comes back out to the table and puts it under her chair. They fired him on the spot. And you know who she was?"

He sat back and nodded gravely at the next table. The woman is a friend of my parents. They have long since stopped going to dinner with this woman and her husband despite their fifty years of friendship because her behavior is always embarrassing. Other than that she seems a perfectly lovely woman, but I'm glad I never had to wait on her.

"I'll bet he made plenty of money from all the other waiters that night, though. And I'm willing to bet that woman eats a lot of extra seasonings in her meals that she is unaware of."

"God, let's hope so."

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The first thing we did after my sister picked us up was go and get a beer and a late lunch. I had a Bell's Two Hearted Ale, which is my favorite thing they have ever made, and a black bean burger. Delish. We also got to meet my first canine nephew, who is just as sweet as he is goofy looking. As my brother-in-law said, somebody was fucked up to make a dog like that, all bulging eyes and squished muzzle, but he is very, very adorable. He was rescued from a puppy mill, and his story is just too horrible and gross to repeat. Currently he lives like a king, so at least there's a happy ending. I will surely be posting pictures of him at some point.
That night we were visited by several of our best Chicago buddies. We ordered pizza from Giordano's, drank some more delicious beer, and spent time catching up.

On Saturday there was a party for my dad's 70th birthday and my sister's 45th. Since it wasn't until early evening, the b.h. and I spent the day walking around Oak Park, shopping and snacking and taking pictures. I bought a really cool necklace from a girl who was making them on the street. Bottle cap woth a picture of Edgar Allan Poe on a silver chain. I will try to remember to post a picture of that as well.
The party was lovely, and my dad was surpised at the party (as was intended) but doubly surprised to see the b.h. and me. It was really lovely, and short enough that none of the relatives managed to get drunk enough to piss anybody off. Good times were had all around.
We went back to the parents' house after to watch them open presents, and spent the night sleeping on the South Side.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The airport in Boston is one of my favorites. Everyone that works there is incredibly polite, and they have somehow managed to make the security very thorough and yet very quick. The b.h. and I each had a large-ish suitcase and a smaller personal bag. I made my way through the security line, shoes removed and arms raised like the stick figure in the instructional drawing as I walked through the x-ray machine, and I noticed that my bag was lagging behind. The guy doing the screening called another guy over, and they both pointed and squinted at the screen for a minute before the second guy pulled my back and looked around to see who it belonged to.
"That's me!" I said loudly, raising one hand while I used the other to retrieve my shoes and jacket.
"You know you're not allowed to have any liquids or gels over four ounces, right?" (He actually said this with fewer consonants, because he had that charming Massachusetts accent I have grown to love.)
"Um, yeah... I know the drill," I said very politely crinkling my brow in a gesture of "I can't imagine what the problem might be."
"Do you have anything in here over four ounces?"
"I don't think so..." I trailed off, wondering what the hell could possibly be the issue. I make a point of emptying my bag before every trip and then re-packing it, since I have been known on occasion to carry around a wine key or bottle opener or some such potential deadly weapon for opening drinks.
I remembered that I had packed two kinds of cheese and a small piece of date and walnut cake for my mom just as he discovered them in a large ziplock bag.
"Ahhh, assorted cheeses. I bet this is it."
"Well, I'm from Vermont, you know, gotta bring the family some cheese." I was worried that they would be taken away, or that I would be forced to eat them just to prove that weren't explosive.
He laughed and took my bag back to the screener, holding the cheese in his hand while he ran the bag through, and then returned with both.
"Yep, it was the assoahted cheeses." (That's how he said it- "assoahted")
Smiling, he handed them back to me and wished me a good trip.
The trip was actually pretty good, at least while we were in the air. I slept most of the way, waking up only momentarily when I realized that I missed the beverage service. And then there was the descent.
Remember when I talked about the wind in the forecast? Yeah- that wind. That wind sucked. I knew we were in trouble when I saw how quickly the clouds were racing over the lake, and even more so when I looked down and saw the the lake looked to be strewn with debris, which turned out to be whitecaps. This was while we were flying directly into the wind, which was actually not that big a deal (Easy for me to say, I suppose, not being the pilot). But as soon as we turned toward the airport, all bets were off. We had so much turbulence that the flight attendants took their seats. The plane shook and shuddered, at one point dropping very quickly down and to the right, to the point that I actually felt my lap belt for a full ten seconds or so. I looked over at the b.h., who was completely white, going on green. The plane jerked again, and this time my whole arm came up off of the armrest. Everything had gone quiet. No one seemed even to be breathing, and then I started laughing out loud. I think it was just a reaction to panic- I don't know. I guess I just sort of figured, you know- Fuck it. Like, we're either going to die or not, and I might as well enjoy myself in the meantime.
We didn't die, of course. The touch down was even rougher than the flight, and once on the ground it really didn't seem like we were going to be able to stop, but we did. As we exited the plane, the door to the cockpit was closed. I was sorry at first, because I would like to have thanked the pilot and told him Good Job or something, but I figured he was probably trying to figure out if he had a spare pair of pants.
All week prior to our trip we were looking at the weather forecast. "Windy" was a word that kept cropping up for Friday. This is not a word that you want bandied about in relation to Chicago in any case, because (as anyone who has spent any time there can tell you) the wind there can be pretty brutal. I have been taken off my feet by it more than once, and have also worn a skirt around my shoulders once while crossing the river at Lake Street. But when you are traveling by airplane, the word invokes a response in me that is akin to that of food poisoning (Two exits- no waiting!).
We got up on time for once, and I packed the car while the b.h. was walking the dogs in the woods so that they wouldn't panic when they saw the suitcases. We even left when we were supposed to, which almost never happens, and the drive was gorgeous (the trees are really starting to change) and uneventful, despite Boston's infuriating lack of signage. One wrong turn didn't really affect our timeliness, and we arrived at the long-term parking with plenty of time to spare. When we got to the lot, we found it under construction. A man in a reflective yellow vest came out and asked how long we were planning to park there.
"Ninety dollars," he responded when I told him we would be returning on Wednesday. "You have to pay in advance."
This was news to us, as was the fact that he would take our credit card and run it in a van that was parked about twenty yards from the entrance. Despite the fact that he looked like he had just stepped off the set of The Sopranos, we didn't really feel that we had much choice so we handed it over. He returned a moment later with a receipt for me to sign and a small card.
"You're in the purple lot. Keep this so you remember when you get back."
I smiled and thanked him and put the card in my wallet. I ignored the sinking feeling I had while we wheeled our suitcases to the airport shuttle.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

So I somehow forgot to mention that last Friday night I actually went out and did something. Something fun, something different, and something, more importantly, in another place.
A took me to the Art Hop in Burlington, and it was super fun. I had no idea what it was or where it was, but I was kind of up for whatever and agreed without really asking.
Basically this is an event that happens across a whole neighborhood (don't ask me where) in Burlington. There is art displayed in all of the businesses, which are open late, and there are a bunch of people wandering around the street checking it all out. We stopped at Battery Street Jeans, a thrift store that I had never been to and can't wait to get back to when I actually have money, got some kettle corn from a truck on the sidewalk, and wandered in and out of various stores and galleries. I love art, but I don't really know anything about it, so this was the perfect sort of event for me. I know what I like and what I don't, but I can't really explain either. It's sort of a know it when I see it sort of thing, and I'm fine with that. Because of the casual nature of the event, snobby douchebaggery was at a minimum, which was also key. Here are some examples of the stuff I really enjoyed.

This first group is from this website. The bird dolls are my favorite. I would have totally bought them if I had an extra $300 lying about.

This next guy had a lot of smaller stuff that didn't photograph well. I love metal work, and I am geeky about maps and State and city souvenir stuff, so it was right up my alley.

This mirror photography thing was also very cool. I really wanted to find the person's name so I could look them up and figure out how it was done, but oddly enough there was no information on it. You can, however, see the reflection of the Snobby Douchebag of the Night, if you look very closely.

None of the other stuff photographed very well, but you get the idea. All kinds of stuff. All over the place. All free. What fun. This is what I miss about living in a city.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I was on faceb00k on Friday night when I got a random instant message. It was from a friend whom I haven't seen in twenty years and have only recently had any contact with at all. He was getting married on Saturday, and he was struggling to write a speech, but he and his lady were planning on coming through this way en route to their honeymoon and he was wondering if they should stop by? Conveniently, the b.h. and I were both off on Monday, so I said hells yes please do stop by it would be lovely and congrats and blah blah blah. I gave hm my number and told hm we should play it by ear because weddings could be exhausting, etc. I then pretty much put it out of my head, since I had to work on Saturday and Sunday. I did wash up the linens in the guest room when I got home on Saturday, just in case. And I cleaned the kitchen. When I got home on Sunday, the b.h. had done a considerable amount of housework and the house looked a lot better. I heard from my friend Y on Sunday n the evening. He and the new wife were just North of the border at his mom's house, where they would stay for the night. We made plans to see each other on Monday. I was very relaxed about the time frame (in retrospect I think I was relieved, because no matter what I told myself I really wanted some more time to straighten up) saying that they should take their time and just let me know when they thought they might arrive. He called the next morning when we were still in bed. He said he thought they would be here around noon. I dragged myself from bed and started the laundry. I then started piling all of the stuff that had accumulated on the desk in the office/guest room into baskets (because really, who has time to actually go through and organize that crap?) which I then stashed in the closet. Some of you may remember this cleaning method from old posts about bands crashing unexpectedly at our house. No, apparently I haven't changed.

Anyway, I was drinking a cup of tea and reading Annie Proulx on the porch when Y and his new wife arrived. They both have French names, and their names rhyme, so, as he explained "It easy for you to remember." He was right. He looked pretty much the same, with a few added pounds and a couple of wrinkles like me. It was only when they came inside and Y said that his wife was very surprised that we hadn't seen or really talked to each other in twenty years and he was just going to come to our house that I realized how odd it was. It could have been really awkward- or worse. But it wasn't. They both took immediately to the dogs, and we all went for a hike in the woods behind the house. We spent that time kind of catching each other up. They have five kids between them, all from previous marriages (four are hers and one is his). They have a dog and a cat that thinks he is a dog, and they both work as accountants. They are obviously very happy and very n love and love their lives and their big crazy family. I was very surprised to find that A had four teenagers, because I am fairly certain that she is younger than I am. Y has a six-year-old. He had been married at age 22. I thought for a minute about what my life might be like had I married the guy I was dating at 22. And then I shuddered inwardly. Whew.

After the hike we sat at the house for a bit, then picked up the b.h. from the library. Y and I ran to the store while A and the b.h. stayed here and fixed a snack for all of us. We sat around the coffee table, dogs alternately snuggling all of us, and talked like old friends, Y occasionally having to translate our English for A and her French for us, but otherwise pretty much without pause. I realized a couple of things about myself and my life:
1. If you are a friend, a real friend, we can go any length of time without talking or seeing each other and when we finally do we will pick up exactly where we left off without skipping a beat.
2. Also, if you bring a friend or a significant other, I will immediately include them into the equation without question (unless they act crazy), and I expect your interaction with the b.h. will be the same.
3. I wish we could see more of our friends more often.

We took them to Morse Farm to get a maple creemeee and feed the goat, and a bit later we all went to dinner at the Alchemist in Waterbury. When we got home they taught us a few choice phrases in French (use your imagination). We all turned in early, and they were off this morning fairly early. We promised to visit them in Quebec City as soon as possible, and I hope we are able to make good on that before the year is out.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A question for my British friends:
Do you not have any American actors? I mean, what's with the horrible accents? Also, are we guilty of this as well(I am certain that we must be)? And if so, will you please give me examples? I am thoroughly enjoying a show called Jekyl, but the terrible American accents are killing me. I assume we have committed the same sins. Perhaps we can start an exchange program for actors?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I had a long strange day at work today, so when I got out I came straight home and grabbed the dogs and went out adventuring. There are a couple of places that we frequent for hikes, and several that I have been meaning to explore and never seem to get around to. Today was a day for the latter.
First i got us lost looking for Berlin Pond. We went on a long drive that would have been perfectly pleasant were it not for Kilgore shrieking in my ear. It wasn't his fault, of course. I am the one that got us lost and he had to pee. So I stopped and let him pee at a random place on the side of the road, and then found a gas station and stopped to get directions. The pond is actually the municipal water supply for the thriving metropolis that we call home, so the boys were not able to swim in it, which was very disappointing for everyone. It was very beautiful, though, and so not a total loss.
The next stop was Sabin's Pasture. We had been there once before on a hike with A and her dog, but hadn't found the quarry until it was too late for us to explore it. Not so today. These pictures won't really do it justice, but I'm going to try anyway.

So now I'm home and hungry and I have shaken off the bad energy of the Local Grocery. I'm off to cook myself some dinner and watch a couple episodes of Jekyll while I wait for the b.h. to get out of class. Oh, and beer. There will be beer. Happy Saturday, all.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Customer of the Day Asshole: Are these apples from this season?
I did not understand the question, so I wrinkled up my brow a bit and turned my head sideways, like a dog.
"I'm sorry, what do you mean?"

(Irritated now, and taking on a condescending tone) "I mean are they from this year."

It took me a moment, and then I recovered and asked "Are they local?"

She pointed at the bag, again looking at me like I was an idiot, despite the fact that I was working in the cheese department. On the bag was the name of the farm and the town. They were local apples.

"Well yes, if they're local then they are from this season. We wouldn't keep them around if they weren't."

"Well I know you wouldn't," she said disgustedly, like I was an idiot,
"but I don't know how long they do." She walked off before I could say anything else.

She was obviously not from around here.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Not sure how I like the new look, but I was very sick of the other one. Will probably change it again as soon as I figure out (Read: as soon as the b.h. can help me) how to compress a photo and upload it so I can use it for my background. I am shite at design stuff. Oh well.
Dear Blog Reader: The Customer of the Day Award program has recently been expanded. Due to intense competition and an unusual number of competitors, the judges have decided that, henceforth, there will be two categories for Customer of the Day: Idiot and Asshole. We appreciate your patience as the new program rolls out and we continue to make improvements.
The Service Industry

The Idiot Customer of the Day was a woman. She was standing in front of the cream cheese, across an aisle and twenty feet away from me as I worked through a large block of Italian Pecorino. I made eye contact with her and held it for a moment, to see if she needed help. I was wearing an apron and gloves and was obviously working in the cheese department, so I assumed that if she needed something she would ask. She didn't. I was then engaged in a conversation by a fellow employee who was asking about the new aged Provolone that had just come in. I was still busy cutting and wrapping, and the woman walked up behind the employee and stood there, tossing a block of cream cheese back and forth between her two hands- impatiently, as if she had been waiting for hours while he finished a sentence.

"Can I help you?" I asked her, when he paused.

"Can I ask a stupid question?"

"Of course."

"Is this goat cheese?"

Fellow Employee turned to see what she was holding and, noting the frantic way in which she was bouncing it, turned back to me to see my reaction.

"No." I said it calmly. I didn't say it in a condescending or dismissive way, but I also did not elaborate, because I had no desire to engage this woman in a conversation. She walked away, cream cheese in hand.

Fellow Employee stood there for a moment, his face completely blank.

"I have to go now," he said after a long silence.

"Makes you glad you work in the back, doesn't it?"

"I have to go. Now."

The Asshole Customer of the Day was a man. He didn't appear to be an asshole at first, which was how he trapped me in the first place. When I see assholes coming, I either get very, very busy, avoiding eye contact, or (in extreme cases) excuse myself to go to the loo and hide in the back watching through the kitchen window until they've gone. Thankfully, we don't have that many Regular Assholes, or else I would never get any work done.
So this guy comes up while i am in the middle of cutting bllomy rind cheeses, and he asks
"Do you like goat cheese?"

"Yes. I love goat cheese."

"What's your favorite goat cheese? I want a taste of your favorite goat cheese."

Okay. i like a customer who wants to try something new. I am wary of the What's your favorite question, because that's no way to choose something if you don't know me, but I was happy to stop what I was doing and let him try something new.
I took off my glove and threw it away, since you aren't supposed to re-use gloves and since I can't use a glove that I've had on while cutting bloomy rind cheese to cut a goat cheese. I put aside the bloomy cheeses and the cutting boar and knife I was using on them. I took out a new glove, went and got a new knife, and asked him to hand me a piece of Pantaleo, a hard goat cheese from Sardinia. While I was unwrapping it and cutting him a piece, I explained to him what it was and where it was from, and what I liked about the flavor profile, as well as what I usually paired it with (beer and wine, just in case). He wasn't really listening. He took it from me, popped it into his mouth, and chewed for a minute.
"Yeah, that's good. So that's a Parmesan culture?"

"I don't know what the culture is." (Next time I'm in Sardinia I'll be sure to ask, I thought.)
"What else?"

He wanted to taste more, but he was not specific in any way about what he was looking for, and kept insisting that he liked everything, so I couldn't narrow it down. I gave him a taste of Manchester, an aged goat cheese from Consider Bardwell farm here in Vermont.

"Oh yeah- that's good. How long is it aged?"

"I don't know exactly. I can look it up if you want me to." I was still being enthusiastic at this point. I cut him a piece of Miticana de Cabra, a Spanish bloomy rind cheese that is a huge seller. It is very similar to Bucheron, but richer and more decadent. It is also slightly cheaper, which is a huge score. We sell through our whole stock of this every week.

"Oh, now that's what I like. That's right up my alley."

The last thing I gave him was a semi-hard cheese from Spain called Pata de Cabra. It is smooth and rich and full of flavor. Slightly aged and a little more mellow than the others, but divine. Not many people know about it, so it needs hand selling.

"Yeah, that's okay," he said dismissively. "It's pretty pedestrian and run-of-the-mill. Sharp, though. I like stuff that's really out there and adventurous." He picked up the Miticana de Cabra.
"So what, is Mitticana the region and Cabra the cheese?"

"Mitticana is the brand name. Cabra means goat."

"Oh, yeah- right. Thanks a lot."

Ah, connoisseurs.

The sound of my teeth grinding was audible from across the room as I cleaned up and re-wrapped all of the cheeses he had tasted. Sven summed it all up neatly:

"Wow. That's uaually how the wine people are."
Apparently I have been far too busy to write lately. The thing is, I can't imagine what I have been busy doing. I have been doing some hiking and swimming, and obviously i work five days a week, but for the life of me I can't figure out where else the time has gone. The b.h. had a birthday. It was completely uneventful, since we are as broke as we have been in years and have no idea when the rest of the student loans might get here. It seems that the new government loan crap requires all schools to have some new software crap, and it has crapped out and consequently we have no money. We're not starving, mind you. My job pays the bills. But we don't have a lot of wiggle room. What's really hilarious (only because if we weren't laughing we would probably burn the Culinary School down) is the total and complete ineptitude of the people in the financial aid office.
The b.h. has been contacting them for over two weeks, writing e-mails and leaving phone messages (you can hardly ever reach an actual person), asking when the loan in question is due to come in. The messages are very polite, short, and to the point:

Dear Financial Aid Specialist,
I received my financial aid statement, and I am wondering when I can expect to receive the rest of my aid. The Some Loan Guy loan is missing. Do you have any information?
Heybartender's b.h.

And the answers he has repeatedly received say something like:

Hello H's b.h.-
I have looked at your file and it seems that you still owe A Great Deal of Money for this semester. We would like to have that as soon as possible.
Financial Aid Specialist

This basic message was repeated both by phone (always when he was magically in class and therefore unavailable) and in e-mail, from more than one person. When he finally went up the hill to have an appointment, two of these women sat there, looking over his paperwork, and saying, "Yes well, everything seems to be in order. So when will you be paying your balance?" as if she was seeing all of this for the first time.
To which he responded that he was still waiting for the Some Loan Guy loan, to which she responded that it had already been applied, to which he responded that it had not.
"No," one of the Financial Aid Specialists said, pushing his paperwork back to him, "you're waiting for your personal loan. The Some Loan Guy loan is already here."
"Okay," said the b.h., taking a deep breath and speaking very slowly as he pushed the paper back to her side of the desk, "why don't you show me where the Some Loan Guy loan is on this sheet?"
She stood up, pointing at the sheet, then ran her finger down it, then flipped to the next page and back.
Oh! It's not here! Well, it's a good thing you caught that." The other Financial Aid Specialist was smiling and nodding in agreement.
"We'll look into it and get back to you tomorrow."
That was last Thursday. We still haven't heard from them.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Recently I have noticed that my co-worker Barbara seems to know an awful lot of people. I suppose this is what happens when you live in the same town and work in the same store for over twenty years, which is probably at least part of the reason why I can't seem to manage either of those things. I also noticed that she spends a lot of time talking to these people. Time when, for example, she should probably be doing her job, and would probably rather be doing her job, but there is no way around it, and these people seem to have no sense of awareness or propriety. I have boiled all of these thoughts down into a nugget of wisdom, a mantra, if you will, that I now repeat to myself on a regular basis:

"How are you?" is a trap.

It sounds like an innocent question, and most people have the good sense to say "Okay," or "fine," or "tired", or blurt out the one-or-two-word answer that every peripheral person in your life expects when they are asking. It isn't even a question anymore, really. It's half of a greeting. The problem is that there are a lot of people in the world, many of whom are common to a natural foods type, touchy-feely environment like the Local Grocery, who are just dying to tell you how terrible their lives are. Barbara had one of these the other day, and I was unfortunate enough to be caught in the middle, since the conversation was being had in the same five foot space that I require the use of in order to do my job.

"Hi, Barbara."

"Hi, Woman (Whose name I have forgotten ). How are you?"

"Well, (long pause), I'm okay."

"That's good."

Barbara was already in the middle of asking me a question, and we were about to go about our business, when the woman, sensing the door of opportunity slamming shut, interjected
"We just got back."

"Oh, that's right. How was it?"

"It was good-"

"Great," said Barbara, again turning to me to discuss the task at hand.

"Yeah, my dad has never even been in a nursing home before, so we weren't sure how he was going to react. All those people screaming in pain, all the sickness and suffering-"

At this point I will freely admit that I completely shut off. I'm pretty sure I was singing "Highway to Hell" quietly to myself and trying to decide what kind of beer I was going to buy after my shift ended. Am I callous? Perhaps. But I really don't know this woman- I had never seen her before - and frankly I have enough to be depressed about without getting caught up in the troubles of people I don't know at all and have no intention of knowing. What I can tell you is that the conversation went on for a long time, it was uncomfortably depressing, and it should have been had over lunch or a drink rather than the damned cheese counter in front of a bunch of unwitting strangers. I was impressed with Barbara's ability to deal with it all, frankly, but I also vowed never to be in Barbara's shoes.
The conversation ended with the woman smiling brightly and saying "But yeah- it was really, really good" and then parting, leaving Barbara exhausted and obviously a little sad.
The next person who walked up to the counter was somebody I recognized. I said hello, and they responded with the usual "Hello, how are you?"

"I'm great," I lied. "Thanks for asking. What can I help you find?"

Friday, August 27, 2010

So apparently A.J. has been busy. Looking forward to this one.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It started with a letter.
Dear Lovely Quiet Street Resident: We need to repave your Lovely Quiet Street. Due to the tiny, narrow, and steep nature of Lovely Quiet Street, access will be limited during construction. Work will begin around 7am, with breaks at 9am, Noon, and 3pm to allow access to residents. Work will end around 5pm daily.We don't know the exact start date, but we'll let you know.
This was the gist, anyway. I have since shredded the actual letter in a fit of rage and frustration.
The first day was a complete surprise. No one was informed. There was no phone call (there are fewer than ten houses up here, so it wouldn't be out of the question), no letter, not even a sign. I was in the car, about to go to yoga class, when I rolled down the hill and found the street blocked by a back hoe and a dump truck and three guys who were dressed like Wyatt going for a swim. They waved and smiled cheerfully, and since I knew it wasn't their fault I didn't bother to say anything. I backed up the hill, parked the car, and took the dogs for a walk instead. I ran into a neighbor at the bottom of the hill. She was in her car, and just as surprised as I was to find the Men At Work. There were sighs, some eye rolling, and a bit of muttering about the local government, and then we both went on our way.
The next day. I drove the b.h. to class early in the morning, before work started. I came back and parked the car at the bottom of the hill so I could use it later without restriction. I spent the rest of that day cleaning, and then finally ventured out around 2pm to run some errands. There was no activity on the street, and it was open to all traffic. It was also very ht outside, and I cursed out loud several times while stumbling down the (now unpaved) hill to my car.
The day after that, I got a call from A, who was interested in taking a dog trip to Hubbard Park. I explained about my car being trapped, and she agreed to meet me in a parking lot down at the bottom of the hill. As I was walking the dogs down the hill toward the construction, a woman rolled up next to me in her car. It was 11:45.
"They should be breaking at twelve", I said into her car window as I dragged the dogs forward (Wyatt is afraid of big loud stuff).
"They said they weren't taking a break today, but that I could just come down when I wanted to leave and they would move for me."
They moved as soon as they saw her, and waited for me and the dogs to walk through before they started up again.
On Friday, there was no activity at all. No trucks, no guys- nothing. The weather forcast had called for rain, but that is true about nine out of ten days here, and it only actually rains about half that much, so I can't imagine that they're basing their schedule on it.
We had the weekend off, mercifully, so I was free to come and go as I pleased.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Montreal is a difficult city to navigate by car. It is beautiful and clean and full of great people and restaurants and amazing architecture, but the best way to see it is definitely on foot.
We got a later start than we wanted to on Saturday, and then about half an hour into the drive we had an alarming car issue at 75 mph. It turned out to be no big deal, thankfully, and the rest of the ride was smooth. It took us an hour to get across the Canadian border, and finding our hotel was somewhat challenging, but once we did that everything was fine. We tried to bring MT to Notre Dame, but it was closed for a special "Light and Sound Spectacular!" or some such, and none of us was interested in waiting an extra hour and a half for the Lord's Laser Show, so we walked down to the waterfront instead. There were several festivals going on there over the weekend. One was a Japanese thing on the waterfront, one was some kind of anime thing which seemed to be made up of mostly teenagers in costume, and another looked like a massive dance party of some kind that we drove past late night on our way back to the hotel. We walked for ever and ever, taking in the sights, snapping a few pictures (to be posted later), and eating and drinking whenever and whatever struck us. I got a chocolate chip almond baguette at a bakery in the Jean Talon Market, and two date pastries that I had been waiting since my last visit to have again. We had lunch at a taco place, snacked on fresh fruit (which we were not allowed to bring back across the border, unfortunately), and stopped for a beer at a local brewery up there that was decent even though it was loaded with tourists.
We had dinner at an Italian restaurant. The woman (obviously the owner) was Italian and spoke fluent French and English. Her cooks were both Indian, the other waitress a native English speaker who sounded Canadian, and while we had dinner I noted that she wished a large group of regulars at the next table a happy Ramadan. It made me really miss living in the city.
There is something wonderful about feeling so alien in a city so close to home. I don't speak much French (virtually none, really), but the b.h. and I are both fairly fluent in French food words, and we joked about how timid we were when trying to order anything. We relied largely on pointing, too embarrassed even to try. The opposite of Ugly American, I guess. I have tried to learn some basic French via podcast (I can say my name, where I live, and count up to twenty, and, under the right circumstances, remark on the weather), but couldn't really tell what letters the woman was pronouncing half the time due to crap car speakers, so I gave that up months ago. I have been looking for a class here in town, but have had no luck so far. I recently discovered that a friend of mine from high school, who was an exchange student, is living in Quebec City with his girlfriend, so we are trying to plan a visit there as soon as possible. It will be nice to have a native (and a native speaker) to translate for us.
We got back to our hotel fairly early, slept for several hours, and then found our way to the Jewish part of Montreal where we had bagels from a shop that has been in business for 70 years. They were fabulous, as expected. From there we went back down to the waterfront, walked around some more, and stopped in the Museum of Archeology to see their Easter Island exhibit.
After that we hit the road. The border was quicker on the way in, and we hung out in Burlington for a bit before dropping MT off at the airport.

This is a park in the middle of the city:

We walked around a little bit, but we didn't really know where we were going or how big the park was, so we didn't see much. We did witness a guy trying to corral what appeared to be a woodchuck that was trying to run into rush hour traffic. He did manage, and the beast eventually scurried back toward the woods, eliciting cheers from the mass of teenagers smoking there.

This sign was supposed to indicate that there is a speed bump on the street. As you can see, it has been modified hilariously.

Did I mention the pastry as big as my face? It was divine.