Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stuff People Have Said that Amuses Me

Last night as our family was driving together in one car, we were forced to talk to each other. It is rare that the 4 of us have a conversation together.

I was telling them how we got all this chocolate at work, sent to us by vendors. Well there was a box of cookies and a box of cherry cordials that was still unopened a week after Christmas. So yesterday I announced to my floor that my mother volunteers at the food bank, and if no one objected, I was going to take these unopened sweets to her so she could donate them the next time she worked. One person said I should have done that a week ago with all the chocolates we got. So I put them in my bag and brought them home. Well, 20 year old son Joe, who tends to see things in black and white, was dumbfounded: "you don't bring cherry cordials to a food bank." "Why not?" I asked. "Because those people don't eat cherry cordials. They need canned goods." I explained that it would be nice for one of "those people" to take home something sweet; something they wouldn't ordinarily buy, and an argument (aka a lively discussion) ensued til we finally dropped the topic because one never wins an argument with Joe. I will bring the stuff over to my mother in the next few days.

And speaking of my mother, I was thinking about one of my favorite remarks she has ever made. We went shopping one night at a strip center with a big parking lot. It was raining out. She started to pull into a space, and I told her it was a handicapped space; she hadn't seen the sign. And she said "oh, 'they' won't be out tonight." Now my mother is not a mean person; she has spent most of her life volunteering for multiple causes. That remark just stuck with me and I told a friend about it and whenever we can't find a parking space somewhere, she'll say we should just park in a handicapped spot cause they won't be out today.

Then, although it doesn't come under the category "stuff people have said that amuses me" - I was thinking about a dinner we had at my parents a few weeks ago. My mother went to bring out a box of chocolates she had bought for the occasion, and found that someone had opened them. Given that the only person who lives with my mother is my father, she was very angry at him. Half the chocolates were gone. My father said he didn't know she bought them for this occasion. Never mind that my mother is allergic to chocolate. We all laughed but my mother was not amused. Later my sister told me that whenever my mother goes out, my 86 year old father, who lost his vision a few years ago, goes searching through the house for candy. I love seeing the child in all of us.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Angel Clare

A few months ago, an old college friend, Richard, sent me a downloaded song called Woyaya.

I cannot figure out how to download the video (from youtube) or add the music to this video. If anyone on blogger knows how to do these things, please enlighten me! But if you have the time and inclination, click on the link. I think this song is so beautiful.

Anyway, I opened his email and this beautiful music started to play. Music we listened to in college. Richard and Larry shared a room in our co-ed dorm, and all these memories burst forth of a group of us hanging out in their room. There was a rocking chair in that room, and I can't remember if it was Larry or Richard who sat in that chair, but one of them did, and several of us would sit there with the lights out, as we listened to the music of the day.

This was at York University, in the outskirts of Toronto. Our favorite outing was to take the bus and subway to downtown Toronto, where we would travel down Yonge Street and buy our favorite thing - albums. It was so exciting to come back to the dorm with a new album.

When I think of my years at York U, my memories are never of classes. Other than the one on body language where they hired a nude model for the class to discuss his body language. That was my only memorable class. All those thousands of dollars spent, and my main memory was gathering in Richard and Larry's room to listen to music.

When I opened Richard's email and heard the music, it just brought me back to 1975, a very carefree time. And I asked Richard the name of the album that this song was on, and he told me it was on Angel Clare. So I added it to my "wish list" for Christmas this year, and I was so happy when I opened it up.

Last night was the first big snowfall here in Cleveland. I HATE driving in the snow. I woke up this morning and thought well I better head out early to avoid the traffic, cause I drive very slowly in the snow. So I got in my car, popped that new CD in, and I'm telling you, the next 40 minutes (usually 30 but not when you're driving as slow as me) was pure enjoyment. Such beautiful songs on this album.

While I wanted the CD for Woyaya, I discovered another beautiful song called Old Man, written by Randy Newman:

(Randy Newman)
Everyone has gone away,
Can you hear me? Can you hear me?
No one cared enough to stay,
Can you hear me?

You must remember me, Old Man,
I know that you can if you try,
So just open up your eyes, Old Man,
Look who's come to say, "Good-bye."

The sun has left the sky, Old Man,
The birds have flown away,
And no one came to cry Old Man,
Good-bye, Old Man, good-bye.

You want to stay, I know you do,
But it ain't no use to try,
'Cause I'll be here, and I'm just like you.
Good-bye, Old Man, good-bye.

Won't be no God to comfort you,
You taught me not to believe that lie.
You don't need anybody,
Nobody needs you,
Don't cry, Old Man, don't cry.
Everybody dies.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

(written by The Husband)

’Twas two weeks before Christmas, when all through Krauss House

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings weren’t hung by the chimney with care,

Too much junk prevented us reaching up there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

Nursing the hangovers pounding their heads.

Heather had “tried” to find a temp job,
But settled instead for becoming a blob.
Joe had four finals in his college classes;
We hope he wakes up so there’s a chance that he passes.
Bonnie had long before risen from bed,

And was hard at work to earn us some bread.
She took a quick break to tell David he’d better
Get off his ass and write the newsletter.
He sprang from the bed to answer her call,
Stubbing his toe, cursing, “Damn it all!”
He saw it was she on the caller ID;
She’d just have to wait, ’cause he had to pee.
“I’ll call her right back, as soon as I can,”
He thought to himself as he went to the can.
“I know why she’s calling,” he thought with regret;
“It’s the damn newsletter I haven’t done yet.”
He sat at the keyboard with his writer’s block;
Staring in space, watching the clock.
“What can I write?” he thought, with great desperation;
“I need some help, I need inspiration.”
Suddenly to his wondering brain did appear,
An idea of how to recap our year.
“I’ve got it,” he yelled, “I’ll poeticize!
And the best way to do so is to plagiarize!”
So David was able to call back his spouse,
And tell her he’d written about our fine house.
The best thing of all, as it’s now just past noon;
Is that finally he has run out of room.
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Great Office Holiday Party

Every year we do something different for our office holiday parties. In the years when we were doing really well, it was a night out with a guest - a fancy dinner somewhere. In the leaner years, it was a potluck lunch at work (employees only).

The last few years, the owner of our company has become very creative in the planning of our parties. A few years ago, we all drove out to Crocker Park, a "lifestyle center" on the west side of town. We were all given $75 and told to spend it on ourselves. We were not to purchase gifts for others. We had an hour or so to buy what we wanted, and then we met for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, where we enjoyed a great meal and showed off our gifts (or our creativity; one employee used some of the money to get her hair cut). It was honestly the first time I have ever paid full retail price for items for myself. I felt a bit guilty, but it was just fun to spend. Oh, and if we didn't spend the money, we had to turn it in at the end, and it would be given to charity. Of course there's one in every bunch, and we do have the employee who didn't need anything and donated all his money to charity. Made the rest of us feel like a bunch of heels, but we still had a great time.

This year the party was to be a surprise. We only knew that it would be held at Legacy Village, the east side "lifestyle center." I was VERY happy about this destination because I live 5 minutes away.

So we all met at The Viking Store, which is a kitchen store and cooking school. The party's purpose, as the owner told us, was to work on "team-building." I admit that is an area that needs work at our company. There are only 20 some people working there, and we definitely cause each other a lot of grief.

So we divided into 2 groups, in 2 separate rooms, and within our rooms, we were given a team to work with. Teams had 3-4 people. We had a fun and informative instructor, and with a lot of laughing and talking, we set out to make a cocktail party menu: tiny blue cheese biscuits with seared beef tenderloin; grilled chicken skewers with honey pomegranate glaze; steamed halibut with thai red curry sauce; roasted vegetable and boursin canapes, and for bananas foster for dessert.

Sound good? It was good. Along with the fun of cooking with others (and it was extra fun cause a lot of the ingredients were pre-measured and these ladies came and picked up all our dirty dishes and whisked them away - I loved that!).

While we waited for the food to cook, we were given glasses of wine and told to wander through the store. The one thing I loved was the juicer gadgets that made it so easy to squeeze fresh fruits. At $17, I decided it was beyond my budget, but I will post this here and hope some family member might read this - my birthday is in July!

It really was a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Day At The Post Office in December

One thing that I truly dread every December is going to the post office to send a package to my friend in Canada. For other packages, I have a nice lady at work who will weigh the package and even figure out if I'd be better off sending it via UPS or USPS. But since the package to my Canadian friend involves completing a customs form, I must go to the post office to send it off.

So I woke up this morning and declared that this would be the day I would deal with that task (I always say that coloring my hair is my least favorite activity; I would have to say that this task is my second least favorite activity).

I arrived and there was a line of about 10 people. And one postal employee. I proceeded to fill out my customs form. That took a few minutes, and then I looked up to check out the line. Why is it that there is always one customer doing some kind of transaction that takes forever? And why is she always there when I'm there?

Well, she was there. And people are shifting their feet, watching and praying that another employee would magically appear. Well there were several other employees, but none of them seemed inclined to wait on anyone. Maybe it wasn't their job. But I think we are all spoiled by standing in a long line and having the lone employee make a page: "help needed at the front." This was clearly not gonna happen.

So the older lady who was 2 in front of me turned around, looking for someone to meet her eyes. That someone was me. She said "this is ridiculous. One employee 2 weeks before Christmas" And I said "I know. It's like this every year." She said "well this is just inexcusable."

I glanced at the guy between us and could tell he was annoyed at the complaints. He said nothing.

A few minutes later, the old lady (OL) turned around again to complain about the service. This time the annoyed man (I'll call him CM for cynical man) decided to join in.

OL: I have things to do! It's taking 10 minutes a person. It will be an hour before they get to me.

CM: In case you haven't heard, there's a deficit. And the post office can't afford to hire more people. So I consider it my patriotic duty to stand in line.

OL: How is it patriotic to stand in line?

CM: It's either that, or we pay higher costs.

OL: I'd rather pay higher costs.

CM: I wouldn't.

OL, looking at me: Well how do you feel about it? You get a vote.

Me: My salary certainly isn't going up every year.

CM, smirking: Yeah.

OL: Well my time is worth something. I would gladly pay more to not stand here for an hour.

CM: Ok, well offer the first guy in line a $20 and see if he'll let you go ahead of him.

OL, eyes rolling: You know, there should be a way that we can weigh our own letters and not have to wait for this.

CM: There is a way. There's a scale over there.

OL: Well I don't know if it's first class or what.

CM: It has instructions on it.

OL: I'm not very technical.

I actually wasn't minding the wait, since I found this all quite amusing. In the meantime, they did add a second employee. As I watched the two employees working, I saw that they were very calm. I would have been quite stressed, seeing that line, but they handled it very well and were very polite to all the customers.

The line started moving quickly at that point.

So I'm done with my second least favorite activity.

Til next year.