Monday, January 31, 2011

Just came back from a hike in the woods behind our house with the BH and dogs. I took along my camera, which did rather well despite the -1 degree temperature. These aren't perfect, but I am starting to get the hang of it. Here are a few pictures.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

In case anyone was wondering if the customers were the biggest problem at my job, here is your answer:
Our manager, who is smart and patient and calm and generally a delightful person, has had complaints lodged against him this week by three employees. Two were offended by his use of the term "pow wow" to describe meetings that he is forced to have with the entire kitchen staff (because they are all constantly complaining and do not like the kitchen manager) because it is supposedly racist; while one actually went to the HR guy to complain of his use of signing off correspondence with the word "Cheers." One example of this was a note which he wrote and put in everyone's mailboxes along with a small treat after the very busy holiday season:

Dear (Staff Member's Name),
Thanks for all of your hard work last week. We had record sales and the store looked great. Customer service was fantastic and I really appreciate everything blah blah blah.
(Beleaguered Manager)

Seriously. These people should try working for a fucking living. None of them would last five minutes in a restaurant environment.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The weekend was busy at the Local Grocery. We also had dinner at P and M's house, where the BH finally met some people that he feels comfortable with. It was a lovely time, and we stayed much later than usual despite his having to be at work at 6am. I also found out that P and I are applying for the same job at the LG. I feel fairly certain that I am the most qualified candidate for the position, and I am not sure why P would even apply, but whatever. I think our friendship will survive regardless. The position is Wine Buyer, and it has more hours and more pay per hour than my current position, so please cross your fingers for me. I enjoy my current job well enough, but I am growing a bit bored of it, honestly.
I went to the dentist again on Monday. The bottom left quadrant is now completed, and I have a temporary wax cover on the lower right problem child tooth. I couldn't get an appointment to actually fix said tooth until the 9th of February, after which it will be an additional two weeks before the permanent cap is molded. I would complain, but it could be much, much worse, so I think I won't.
Photography class is going very well. I feel good about the (borrowed) money I've spent already, having learned something in each of the two classes that has vastly improved both my understanding of my camera and my abilities with it. At some point I will surely post some pictures. This is not that point.
In other news, the b.h. has been cooking up a storm, and being broke has kept us at home most nights eating well and going to bed early. I feel pretty good considering how cold it's been. (Did I mention seventeen below? Yes- Monday morning. Seventeen below. And my fourteen-year-old car started right up.) Now it's eleven degrees and feels perfectly balmy. My parents are dying for us to visit them in Florida, but lack of funds has me betting we won't get there before March. We'll see.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Another day, another dental incident.
I got a call first thing Wednesday morning from the dentist's office. The receptionist told me she could fit me in at 4:30, but I said I would have to leave town at five (for my new photography class- woo hoo!), and so could we make it four instead? She said she already had somebody booked at four, but then mumbled something about "whoever gets here first." Stupid? Yes. But I showed up at ten til and got right in. The dentist said that he was going to make a new cap thingie, and I told him maybe we should try one more time with the current one. It is, after all, made of gold and cost several hundred dollars. And since I don't have to pay for a new one, he will be taking a loss. So he agreed and put it back on. I have an appointment on Monday to fix the bottom left side anyway, so I figured I'd give it a whirl.

I went to my new photography class with J. It was great. The instructor looks like a guy I miss terribly from Athens. I have already learned a few things. I am thrilled.

So I got home, had a beer, ate some dinner - complete with croutons on my salad thanks to my newly repaired teeth - and hit the couch to watch teevee with the BH. And then, halfway through my ice cream, it happened again. Shit.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I went to the dentist on Monday last. I am waiting for my next (third in a series of what I hope will only be three) gold partial cap thing to be made, and then next Monday I will go have it put on. I am trying to look at this process not as an enormous expense, but rather as a savings account that I secretly carry around with me. (Gl3nn B3ck tells me that the value of gold is skyrocketing, after all, on his commercials for the gold company as well as on his slobbering, angry "news" show, so it must be true).
So after work the other day, I went over to A and D's to watch a movie. I finally got a tin of toffee that I had been meaning to pick up from her since Christmas. And then on Sunday, I came home from work and, while standing in the doorway taking off my boots, popped a piece of said toffee into my mouth. Some of the toffee had not set properly, and this piece was one of those. It was not hard but not soft- a sticky in-between that called to mind a Sugar-Daddy pop, for those of you old enough and American enough to remember. So I took off my boots, went upstairs, and then, losing the patience that is requires to allow the melting of said toffee, bit into it heartily. When I pried apart my jaws, the two gold partial cap thingies that I had had put on in November stayed with the toffee, leaving me momentarily confused and eventually a bit sore. Luckily, I realized what was happening before I actually swallowed the toffee, as I shudder to think of the options that I would have been presented with otherwise.
I left a message with the dentist and was given an appointment yesterday at 4:15.
Eating was unpleasant but not impossible (I still have a temporary wax cover on the back left side, and the right having a large, temperature-sensitive hole meant that I tried to stick to soft and lukewarm foods until then), and I got through the day without incident.
I waited half an hour or so when I got there, and then there was some trouble with the front cap thingie, but I was home but a quarter to six. And then, at nine-thirty, while eating a sandwich, I lost one of them again.


It's going to be a long day off.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Kitchen Manager came up to me at the LG while I was talking to my friend Nate.

"Sthorry to interrupt you guys," he lisped, but I thought you'd want to sthee this."

From his pocket he pulled a plastic bag of the quart-sized Zipl0ck variety. He reached into it and pulled out a wad of kitchen towels. Nate and I looked at each other.

"This came back with our laundry for the kitchen," he said, unrolling the towels to reveal a pair of small men's tighty whitey underwear.

"What the hell- is that guy doing our towels at home or what?!"

"I don't know. I'm going to sthee what they have to sthay about thisth."

Gross, gross, gross. I don't wash my underthings with my kitchen towels at home, and I certainly don't expect that the food service towels I use at work will be washed with such items, either.

In other news, Sven was vexed yet again by an unanswerable customer. I was "fluffing" the wine stacks (which basically means taking bottles out of the boxes on the bottom to fill up the top box, thus creating the illusion of a full display)when he approached me and said exasperatedly

"Did you hear that? One of 'those people' (the rich, mindless liberals, yuppies, egomaniacs, or any combination thereof, which make up the bulk of our customer base at the LG) just came up and I asked her if I could help her find anything, and she said she was looking for Parmesan. I showed her where it was, and she goes That's not from Italy, it's organic!"

"What did you say?"

"What could I say? I just said OKAY, and walked away. These people, they're just- aaargh!"

I think Sven needs a blog.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It has been snowing steadily all day, possibly since last night. I was due in at the LG at one p.m., but I called at noon to see how busy it was. There was no way for me to drive there, and I wouldn't mind walking if they actually needed me, but I would hate to trudge all the way there and find out that there are no customers and not much work to be done. Which was exactly the case, so I took the day off.
The BH and I trudged down the hill to the other grocery instead. We got a couple bags of supplies and then hunkered down with books and movies. Sometimes bad weather is a good thing.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The BH has been sick for the past few days. Today he woke up feeling mostly better except for a bad case of cabin fever, so I decided we would drive up to the Northeast Kingdom for a pizza. We have both been very disappointed at not having seen a moose yet, and a co-worker mentioned that the best way to find one was just to drive around up there, so we figured we'd kill two birds with one stone.

The day was sunny and beautiful, which made for a terrific drive. It was too cold to actually get out in it, but we managed to snap a few pictures out of the car windows.

If you look closely, you will see that the farmers on our tractor crossing signs have jaunty little hats.

I can't for the life of me figure out what happened to this tree...

We stopped for lunch at Parker Pie (I will refrain from posting pictures of our pizzas and beer), and then drove around aimlessly and took pictures.

This is the kind of thing I would really like to spend more time doing. Cabin Fever? Cured. Now I'm looking forward to photography class so I can learn how to do this properly.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Oddfellows Local 151 is experiencing a shakeup.
There has been a Very Big Issue which I have avoided discussing because it's pretty hard to talk about without giving too much away. Suffice to say that an employee has been terminated for stealing, and there are differing views as to said employee's guilt or innocence, and it has caused quite a huge rift between members of the Local Grocery Staff.
I volunteered to be present for the entire arbitration process, serving as a note taker for the Union Rep who was representing the Terminated Employee. As such, I have access to more information than the rest of the members of the Oddfellows Local 151, and as far as I can tell I am not at liberty to share all of the details. Because of this, I have had to sit by and listen to other members of the OL151 blather on incoherently, misrepresenting facts and basically accusing Management and other employee/union members of everything from vindictive lying to outright fascism. So essentially, the Local Grocery has developed it's own Tea Party.
I have tried to remain fairly neutral, and in some cases I have attempted to point out errors and holes in the arguments brought forth by said Tea Partiers, to no avail. I have argued for civility, and for reason, and my arguments are mostly falling on deaf ears. In true TP fashion, they keep shouting louder and never listen to anything anyone else has to say, even people who know more than they do.

It has been ugly.

The holidays were an eternity.

And finally, after the meeting on my birthday, the President of Oddfellows Local 151 stepped down. I have not spoken to this person yet, but I understand that their exit was marked by a tirade against our Representative from the National Union. This is interesting to me because when I spoke to the Former President on many, many occasions previously, arguing for more neutrality and suggesting that our Rep was stoking the fires of discontent unnecessarily, the FP told me in no uncertain terms that I was wrong and that they fully backed both the Rep and the LG Tea Partiers. I have no idea what will happen now. I have been asked by both an officer of OL151 and a Store Manager to run for president. I will do no such thing, of course, having no idea how the union really works and no real sense of the history of relations between Management and the Union beyond the past year.
I will, however, do everything I can to make sure that the next President is not bi-polar.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Stayed in bed for ages this morning. I was about to get up at nine, feeling very rested and refreshed, when Kilgore thumped back up the stairs and climbed in on the BH's side of the bed. Well, I certainly didn't want to hurt his feelings, so I rolled back over and dozed off.
When I finally did manage to peel myself out of bed (after ten), I came downstairs to find that the BH had made me an apple pancake for my birthday. Fabulous.
We ate and we drank coffee and we lounged about on the couch under many blankets and read books all morning. Then I went to meet A for another cup of coffee and a birthday pastry. After that I stopped by the Local Grocery for a meeting of the Oddfellows Local 151 (more on that later).
This evening A was playing a show at the 3 Bean Cafe in Randolph. The BH and I left early and got there before everyone. I had an eggnog latte (more sugar, which is obviously what I needed) and he had coffee and we read the paper for a bit. Eventually A and D and some other friends showed up and we all ordered dinner and A played a lovely show, solo and acoustic, to a crowd of maybe twenty people (which was actually full capacity). It was a very nice and very low-key birthday.
We went home and had apple cranberry pie (the BH made two pies on Tuesday, but I forgot to mention them. Also forgot to mention the chocolate cake that Pete made for me. I can't believe my pants still fit.) and beer. You'd be surprised how well they go together. Next week I am due for a dental appointment. That seems timely.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Last night the BH and I went to our friends house to brew beer. When we arrived, most of the ingredients were already in a pot, bubbling away on the stove.
I have always been hesitant about home brewing. For one thing, the BH and I don't have the space. Also, we lack the time and the money. And it seems like an operation that requires some level of sterilization, like you might want to have a hyper-clean and sanitized set of tools, etc.
So we walked in and Pete was at the stove, stirring with a wooden spoon, talking shit and, um, smoking with the other. Meanwhile, our friend Sticks was pouring beer and playing with his daughter and her cabbage patch doll on the floor. He handed Pete a snifter full of something dark. I noticed, among other things, pine needles in the pot. There was also a cloth bag bound with string, similar to a tea bag, if the tea bag were constructed by a blind toddler with only three fingers. Pete sent around each bag of hops before adding it to the pot so that we could smell them. I could tell the difference between them, but they were relatively similar in that they were all citrusy and/or piney types that I very much enjoy. It's good to get to smell them individually because there are some varieties I don't like and being able to identify them would save me shelling out for a bottle that I don't end up liking. (Wow. that was a poorly constructed sentence. But you get the gist, right?) After the yeast and hops were added, Pete brought in a five gallon bucket from the back deck that was mostly full of water that had been outside in the snow all day.
Anyway, by the time it was through cooking, Pete was at least a couple of sheets to the wind. I went into the kitchen to help him strain the mixture from the pot on the stove into the bucket of nearly freezing water. The bucket has a thermometer on the side, and we had to make sure that the mixture stayed below a certain temperature. So Pete puts the World's Smallest Strainer on top of the bucket and starts pouring the pot of hot liquid through it. I am just about to grab hold of the strainer to keep it steady when the giant tea bag comes flying out, plopping directly onto the strainer and overflowing it. Again I reached for the strainer, but Pete, not noticing, kept pouring, and the whole thing fell noisily into the bucket.

"Well, shit," said Pete. He fished the strainer out with his bare hand.

"Should we transfer it back to the bucket and strain it again?"

"Nah, fuck it. We'll strain it at the next stage."

Oh. So, not an exact science then.
On Monday I went to yoga class out in Plainfield. I was lucky to get there early, because it wound up being quite full. This is, of course, great news for my friends who run the yoga studio. At this time last year I was literally their only Monday night student. For me it just means I will have to remember to always leave early, and try to remember and avoid the people who smell funny. Z wrote a great post the other day about smells. I haven't much to add to it, really, except that the kind of people who attend yoga classes and shop at natural foods stores are very often the kind of people who douse themselves in oils that make me sneeze. I wonder if my avoidance of all things scented (dishwashing soap, laundry soap, dryer sheets, lotion) is making me more sensitive? Hmmm.
It is snowing outside again. On Sunday, a woman came into the Local Grocery who works at a ski resort. She and Sven had a lengthy conversation about the weather (Sven's favorite subject, apparently ever since he saw the Al Gore documentary) which concluded with him saying
"There's no snow in the forecast" in a tone that most people reserve for phrases like
"The diagnosis doesn't look good", or perhaps "He's not breathing."

She, of course, shook her head and walked off feeling like crap, because her job depends on the snow.
I looked at Sven with disbelief.

"Since when is the forecast any indication of what the weather might bring? Come on, man! Just by saying that there is no snow in the forecast, you have just doomed us to certain snow. Probably feet of it."

"You're probably right," he said, glumly.

Gods I hope he snaps out of this soon.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Some random photography:

This is the road that we took through the Northeast Kingdom on Christmas. I swear we didn't pass more than twenty cars in the whole hour. It was beautiful, if a bit ominous.

This shot was snapped by the BH (the artist formerly known as the b.h., whose new name was given my my voice recognition software. We had a long and heated argument about it, the software and I, but in the end it one) in the middle of the day last week. He was coming out of the neighbor's garage and walked straight over to our house. I'm a bit nervous about it, actually. I thought this was one potential trouble we could forget about for the season.

This picture is a good example of why I need a photography class. Adorable but not very well lit. Two more weeks! I can't wait.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Kilgore and I are sitting on the couch, coffeeless. Did I mention the b.h. killed the coffee maker? Second one. The auto-drip maker died a few months ago, and we've been using the French press since, partially out of financial necessity and partially out of laziness. Anyway, KG probably doesn't need the caffeine, but I could use the help.

I am sneaking peeks, between reading, of the kitchen, which is a total disaster after the delightful dinner we had last night (bruschetta with form d'ambert blue cheese, port-soaked caramelized onions, and toasted walnuts, followed by crepes with some kind of black-eyed pea concoction), and I should really get off my ass and clean it up. I wish I liked caffeinated tea. Also, the beer bottles are really starting to pile up over in the "dining" room. I actually kind of resent the returnable bottle situation.

If they were actually reusing them, like the soda companies did when I was a kid, then I would be thrilled. As it is they just seem to throw the glass around at the redemption center. I know I have heard them break. I have no idea what they use them for, but I would much rather just leave these things at the curb, and nickel apiece be damned.


So I guess I'll be washing up now, then.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Well, here I am then. It has been far too long, but finally I'm back. I am posting for the first time using my new Dragon voice recording device. It's a bit awkward at the moment, but I think I will get used to it. At any rate, I'm enjoying not having to type.
On Christmas Eve we visited our friends Pat and Mary and shared a nice meal and some beer. When we returned home, we opened a few of the gifts that had been piling up in our living room. The BH's family was far too generous as usual. I now have plenty of warm socks, as well as more books and CDs and movies than I know what to do with. I'm already halfway through Sex and Bowls and Rock 'n Roll, but the Mark Twain autobiography is so large as to be a bit intimidating.
Christmas turned out very well. In the morning we phoned our families and wished them a happy holiday. Then we opened the rest of our presents together, ate some Christmas cookies, and headed out. We drove to Canada to see my friend Yanick and his family. There were about 20 people, and only five of them spoke English. Not having spent much time in a foreign country*, I found the whole experience really interesting. Everyone was very friendly of course, and those who did speak English went out of their way to speak to us so that we wouldn't feel out of place. Yanick's aunt and uncle spend their winters in Florida and they speak reasonably good English, so we had a long talk with them about the merits of traveling in the South. The food was fantastic, and it was really interesting to sit at the dinner table and just let all of the French words kind of wash over us. A bit overwhelming at times, but a very good experience. I hope we get to visit Yanick and Anick in Qu├ębec City before we move.
Last week, work was ridiculous yet again. I spent a lot of my time helping panicked customers choose just the right champagne for their holiday meals. Yesterday's customer of the day was a guy who, when Sven asked me to hand him some Bucheron, remarked that it was amazing that I knew exactly what he meant.
"Yeah," I sniggered to Sven as the man walked away. "And when I asked the carpenter for hammer he knew exactly what I was talking about! Crazy!"
Sven has been in a very sour mood this week and it's making my life really difficult. I have half a mind to call in tomorrow just so I don't have to deal with it. I won't of course, cursed as I am with a work ethic, but the thought is nice. The BH is working in the kitchen tomorrow anyway so it's not like we could do anything fun.
Last night we were invited to the neighbors' house for a New Year's celebration. It was the only chance that we were possibly going to leave the house since we have a strict "No New Year's" rule here. After years of bartending, neither of us is particularly keen on amateur night.
Other than that I don't have a lot of news, honestly. I've signed up for a photography class which will start in three weeks, and with my new toy here I'm hoping to get some more writing done. This post has taken me a lot longer than it would have had I simply typed it, but once I get used to it I'm sure it'll be better.
I will try to get around to posting some pictures soon. Happy new year, everyone.

*You may remember that we spent a very short time in Tiajuana a few years back, but that was interesting for reasons other than the language barrier.