Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"In nature, the momma bird and the daddy bird never leave the nest at the same time. One of them goes out to hunt while the other one stays in the nest with the baby bird."

This remark from Sven follows the crashing to the cement floor of a third bottle of wine. The hapless father looks up at us as if to say

"Who knew that if I let my toddler roam around by itself in a giant stack of glass that something might break?"

We both put our heads down and continue cutting cheese while a couple other people scramble to clean up the mess.

"I just don't understand why they both have to shop."

This sentence is nearly drowned out by the sudden shrieking meltdown of yet another small child, this time at the coffee bar. there is a distinct doppler effect as it's mother drags it back and forth through produce and the deli department. Co-workers scatter like cockroaches in the light, everyone making for the kitchen and stocking areas out back. Ahhh... the joys of retail.
This just in via text from the Local Liquor Store back in Athens:

"Life on the Westside: If your 750ml of vermouth and your olives cost more than your 1.75L of vodka, you may want to rethink your martini."

Man, I miss those guys. Fortunately I will be seeing them in two weeks. Two weeks!!! Oh my gods.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The b.h. and I went to see our Senator and the Danish ambassador the other night at our local Unitarian Univers@list church. This is exactly the sort of thing we had hoped to do more of, what with living in the state capitol and all.
Bernie Sanders is a man who was obviously made for politics. He's kind of loud and brash and funny, and he managed to cut in at the appropriate moments so the Danish Ambassador didn't have to do all of the talking and so that as many audience members as possible were allowed to ask questions.
This was basically a talk about how the Danish health care system and Danish society in general function. It was interesting. Very interesting, especially in light of our current situation. I think they have the right idea over there, but I am also not naive enough to think that their system could, would, or even should be adopted in this country. Of course, you'll never convince the left wing nutjobs of this, but nutjobs from either side prefer to live in an echo chamber, so I don't think anyone is bothering to try to convince them of anything. Anyway, it was interesting and informative, and my boss Barbara and her husband Tom met us there, and he was audibly sighing through many of the dumbest questions from the audience. I think he and the b.h. are really going to get along well.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"...Local Grocery is obviously trying to kill all of the Jews in town," said the Grocery Manager, hanging up the phone at his desk and looking completely exasperated.
Annie was doubled over at her desk, laughing.
"You did what now?" I asked, barging straight into the conversation because, well, how could I not?
"This woman just called, and because I couldn't find the ingredients list on the Vermontzah (this is a locally made matzah bread- in The Green Mountain State we are very into "local" products) she said the the Local Grocery is obviously trying to kill all the Jews. Mind you, the ingredients are listed, but I couldn't find them fast enough."
Oh, how I love crazy people when they're not talking to me.

The other night I had dinner at Barb and Tom's. Barb is my boss. She's just about my mom's age, but she and her husband Bob were into the sixties in a way that my parents never were. They are a hoot, to say the least. We ate in their garden, and Barb and I shared a gorgeous bottle of French rose'. We had to go in as soon as the sun went down, because it got cold right away.
Looking forward to a lot more of that. In the meantime, rather than wishing it would stay warm I'm trying to think about how much better it is for the maple farmers that it's getting cold again. The thing about sugar season is, as soon as the trees bud, it's over. So there's that.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Can I help you find anything?" asked Sven, briefly interrupting our discussion of Peter Sellers.
"No. Every time I buy cheese here it's bad. I always buy imports and they've gone (she flailed her hands wildly)"
"Uh-huh" Sven replied, his brain shutting down.
"The cheese here is always bad."
"Can you tell me why that is?"
Neither of us answered. Sven turned on his heel, leaving a stack of brie and a couple of wheels uncut, and disappeared through the door leading into the kitchen. I paused momentarily, not making eye contact but not wanting her to corner Barbara, my boss, who was helping another customer. I flipped through the folder that has our price list, pretending to look hard at it, while silently praying that the woman would go away before Barbara was free from the other customer. The woman continued to look through the cheeses for several minutes before eventually wandering off to produce, presumably to look through all the of the fruit and veg that she hates and finds completely substandard.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On Friday night I went with my friends D and A to St. Johnsbury to see Neko Case. I had been so busy in the runup that I hadn't really had much time to actually look forward to it at all, so I didn't get really excited about it until we got there.
Having been nominated for two Gr@mmy awards this year, you might wonder just why a woman would play a smallish school auditorium in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Turns out that this is Neko's home turf, and she has returned as a resident to the Green Mountain State. This show was a benefit for the local arts community.

The room was lovely, but you could tell they weren't used to hosting quite so many people. First, the merch table was set up basically right in front of the entrance, making it near impossible to get in or out of the building. Of course my first thought was about how the hell we'd get out if there were a fire. Also, it felt like the place already was on fire, because they had the heat set somewhere near a thousand degrees. Since everyone was dressed for the weather, we were all basically schvitzing from the moment we took our seats. I was thankful that I had layered in such a way that I could get down to a t-shirt, and jealous that A had worn a tank top. I seriously can't imagine what they were thinking. On top of the heat, there were absolutely no refreshments to be had. And again, I'm thinking to myself "Who the hell planned this?" Surely they could have sold a thousand bottles of water at a few dollars a pop in that temperature. No such luck. I found out that there was a water fountain, and during the intermission (I won't go into detail about the opening act since I didn't really like it) A and I made our way down a narrow flight of stairs to the long line that eventually would lead to the ladies' room. The ladies room had two stalls, of course, and the water fountain was inside. The men also had two stalls, but being men their line was moving a lot faster. Also, their water fountain was outside the actual bathroom. After standing too long in a virtually unmoving line, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. I had seen another woman follow her boyfriend into the men's room, so I waited for him to come out and followed her lead. I was careful to put the seat back up when I was done, and the men that were in line when I came out didn't seem too upset. I got a drink at their water fountain and was back in my seat before Neko came on. The same could not be said for the ten women in front of me in line at the ladies'.
I was surprised and incredibly pleased to find that the lovely and talented (and hilarious) Kelly Hogan was along on this tour. And if only I could remember his name I would also credit the very talented Canadian guitar player they had in tow. There was a very casual vibe, with lots of talking between songs. Kelly Hogan could easily have a career in standup if she ever decided to quit singing. I sometimes forget how much I miss people with my sense of humor. In any case, the show was brilliant, and I didn't pass out. When everybody stood up to applaud for an encore, I looked rather desperately over and said loudly to no one in particular
"Somebody open that fucking window!"
And lo and behold, somebody did. Thank you, bearded stranger, for saving if not my life, then surely my dignity. I seriously felt like I was going to pass out. I would also note that nobody complained, even though it was very cold outside and there were at least three or four songs in the encore.
I have known for a long time that I would like Neko Case, and for whatever reason I haven't gotten around to listening, but now I'm definitely going to fix that.
Too Loud Trixie is no longer a member of the Local Restaurant Team. It was a long, long time coming, but after countless stern warnings and a lot of hand-wringing, she was unceremoniously fired two weeks ago. It wasn't because she talks loud and graphically about her sex life in front of customers. Nor was it because she can't speak two consecutive sentences without using an expletive (cough cough- yeah, but I don't do that in front of customers). Somehow she even managed to escape with her job and her neck after discussing the purchase of illegal drugs in front of our manager's fifteen-year-old daughter. That was a real shock, because that incident was just days after she embarrassed herself and the entire staff during a meeting with upper management, and the manager in question looked like she was going to climb over the table and choke the life out of Trixie (Silently, we were all wishing it so).
No, in the end, it was the fact that she gave somebody a beer and didn't charge them for it. This was especially ridiculous because things like that happen on occasion, and I'm pretty sure every one of us has done it unintentionally in the middle of a rush or in a moment of cranial flatulence brought on by utter boredom. Do I think she did it on purpose? Honestly, I don't care. She denied having even served a beer that day, even though there was a beer clearly sitting on the bar that a manager and several other people saw. That was stupid. If she had simply admitted that she had done it, called it a mistake, and offered to pay for it, Harried Manager would have been guilted, even after all of the pain that she caused everyone, into letting her stay. So in the end I think we were all lucky that she was such a hard-headed crazy redneck.
The bad news is that now she has taken to coming in for a few beers on one of my shifts. Honestly, I can't imagine having that kind of gall. Also, I want her the hell out. I am taking suggestions.
West Coast Karen got her review.
"The way they do these is just- is just- ...archaic" she fumed when she returned from the meeting. "I just don't agree with it."
"What do you mean?" I asked, stupidly inviting her to continue the discussion.
"It's just so corporate. I mean, I don't want to write my own evaluation. Like, dude, if you need me to do something differently, then you need to tell me."
At this point she finally donned a glove and resumed helping me cut cheese.
"What did he say?" I blundered on, wishing like hell I would just shut up. And then I stopped to give her direction on the cheese she was cutting. "Wait. Okay, so cut this organic cheddar down the middle, and then I'll wrap one half wand you can cut the other half into smaller pieces."
She was nodding the whole time, but I could tell she wasn't listening, so I said
"Got it?"
"Yes. Wait. No. What?" she answered, her rage momentarily losing steam.
"Finish the one you're doing. Then this one" - I picked up the chunk of organic aged cheddar, and drew a line with my gloved hand - "you should cut down the middle here. I will wrap one half and you can cut the other half into small pieces."
She repeated my directions back to me, and we resumed while she continued her rant.

"So I got all good scores on everything, but then in the part that says 'areas that need improvement' (she made bunny ears with her gloved hand) it says that I need to focus and that my personal life sometimes interferes with my work. I swear to god I feel like I work at W@l-Mart or something. I have had customers tell me that the only reason why they shop at the Local Grocery is because of the service I give. It's because I talk to them and make them feel important and I know them like friends. And I'm like dud, I know what the job is, okay? And I do my job. If you have a problem with the job that I do, then I need you to be more specific."
"Did you just cut that whole block of cheddar into small pieces?"
"Yes I did."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Monday, March 08, 2010

I know I have posted this before, but I was reminded of it again today by a link on one of my favorite blogs.
Here's the link:

Money Quote, posted by Andrew Sullivan:

"Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.

And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship--be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles--is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.

If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clich├ęs, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings.

They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing.

And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it.

But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving.... The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day," - David Foster Wallace.

I just found out that yet another brilliant artist has taken his own life. I often wonder if having the kind of genius that David Foster Wallace and Mark Linkous had makes it harder to live with the rest of us, or if difficulty in dealing with the rest of us makes people like them the creative geniuses that they are/were. Whatever the case, I am grateful for what these people have left us.
R.I.P., Mark.
I stand corrected. This is, apparently, not winter anymore, but officially known as "mud season."

"Howya doin'?" I said to the man who was staring as he approached me. I figured he thought I was somebody he knew.

"Sorry, but that looked really cool," he said, by way of explanation. The man was approaching from down the street a ways, when I had stepped outside the Local Beer Joint and lit a cigarette. He looked momentarily awestruck.

"The way you were backlit just then, it looked like an old photograph from Paris or something."

"Yeah. It's beautiful out here tonight." It was, too. I was wearing my jacket, but no hat or mittens or anything, and I was perfectly comfortable. There was a brief exchange about the weather, wherein the man mentioned in a sideways fashion that he was visiting town.

"Where are you visiting from?" I said, internally wincing at my grammar.

"Chicago," he replied, and I immediately felt better, since that's where I learned to end a sentence in a preposition.

"No shit. Me too. Whereabouts do you live?"

He replied with an intersection which is two blocks from one of my old apartments. We chatted a bit. I talked about the tattoo parlour/hair salon that I used to frequent, a former nightclub.

"I saw The Clash at that club."

This prompted the usual 5 minute diatribe from me about how fantastic was The Clash and how I wish I could travel back in time to see them. It turned out that this guy was the uncle of a guy I had just met last week, who is a friend of one of my co-workers.
Once again, the world demonstrates its smallness.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The other day, Sven and I were talking about unfortunate business names. He mentioned Longwind Farms and Woodcock Farms, while I cited Adcock Furniture and the place back home on the Southside that's a beauty parlor/funeral home.(I can't remember the name, but beauty parlor/funeral home is right there on the sign, and I think that qualifies).

"I mean, what were they thinking, you know?"

Just now I was coming home to walk the dogs on my break from the local Grocery and I saw a truck from Hooker's Furniture.
And a hobby is born.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The clearance gods were smiling on me today the Local Grocery. Behold, my new fair-trade alpaca mittens:

Almost makes the thought of another month or two of winter bearable.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The b.h. and I both had the day off. This meant sleeping in, having a civilized breakfast (eggs, bagels, and fake bacon with ample syrup), and finally getting to a bunch of housework I have been avoiding.
I went to yoga and came home to beet tzatziki, pita, and a really tasty garbanzo-based dish of some sort. The b.h. got a new cookbook and I have been reaping the rewards. Dessert was roasted beets with an orange aoli. Fantastic. Love a day off.