Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fixin' a Hole Where the Rain gets in...

It seems attempts to coordinate the Roofers of Dumbville, with the landlord's somewhat dim maintenance people was like one of those old-time car chases and missed-connections seen in silent movies. Sort of a Keystone Cops Revival - on steroids.

Maintenance truck arrives with long extension ladders so the roofers have access to fix the leak damaging my apartment and clothes.  Set up ladders, make phone contact, and go on about their other business.

They return later and, assuming the job is done, remove the ladders and drive away.

Roofers arrive, find no ladders (their ladders are not long enough! These are roofers, professional roofers!) make phone calls, and off they go to another job, presumably nearby.

A Second truck from landlord arrives to "pick up the ladders" also assuming the job is done.  Finding no ladders a brief panic ensues. Initial truck with the ladders arrives and the roofers arrive a few minutes later.

Chaos and disorder, some shouting and angry words exchanged, before all calm down, 2 roofers climb the ladders to check out the problem. Neither know what the pieces of metal are called so cannot tell the others what they need.  (It's called "flashing" by the way. Now stop that!!! The metal kind. Jeez!)  So the fearless leader of the roofers from Dumbville hauls his rather large, angry carcass up the straining aluminum ladder to find out what the other 2 are looking for though cannot name.

He descends the ladder muttering under this breath, telling another dim bulb stationed by the truck what supplies they need, and sends said bulb up the ladder like a squirrel to deliver the necessary tools and sealant to complete the job. They are finished and gone within an hour.

Landlord's crews, lurking nearby, remove the ladders a second time, get into their trucks and drive away. 

All is quiet again.  Finally.  Oh, if this whole affair had truly been a silent movie.  Now to find out if they actually fixed the leak.  There are heavy storms in the area again and I am leaving the bucket in place under the leak, just in case.  No fool, I!

Roofers with short boggles the mind.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mail, Marketing, Mortadella, & Music

The image at right is the cover of a bizarre catalog received in today's mail.  It was by far the most bizarre, but a few others were giving it a run for its money.  The "Ballroom Jeans - no OUCH when you crouch" caught my attention immediately. The catalog also boasts tee-shirts that cure "plumber's butt" and that's not all.

Also received another mailing from the AARP, for G*d knows what.  It went into a shopping bag unopened along with their other recent mailings.  The bag is about 1/3 full. As these items are received I write in magic marker "return to sender" and when the bag is full, all the envelopes will be dropped off at the post office for return delivery.  I have asked many times over the years to be removed from all mailings and they have chosen to ignore my request. Aside from being rude, they're wasting the money of their members, but do they care?  I think not.

Spent time this morning contending with the stoopid, which always seems to be in abundance these days, then retreated to do a bit of laundry and cooking.

By mid-afternoon I was itching to get out before the rains came again.  I took a walk around the neighborhood and down to the ocean.  There was a nice breeze and the humidity was high but not unbearable.  On the way home I stopped by a relatively new shop called "Touch of Italy" to check the place out.  I had been told about the place and it was suggested to be the only likely place to find good Italian Mortadella, but whenever I stopped by in the past, they were closed. They were always open after I was at work.

Not today.  Yes, they have a great imported Mortadella with pistachios, a spicy Sopressata, and many other goodies. They even make their own mozzarella cheese on site.  It will be fun to experiment with the many things I found there.  Keeping in mind that I am cooking for one and not a crowd as I used to, means pulling back on the amount of product purchased.  I bought a 1/4 pound of Mortadella, which will yield at least 3 meals.

Note: Tomorrow's lunch will be a Muffuletta Sandwich and my mouth is watering at the thought in anticipation. The other ingredients are lined up, though French bread will be the replacement bread. No matter.  It's all good.

Their prices are reasonable, especially for this area.  Their products would be commonplace in NYC or Philadelphia, but I would have expected prices to be much higher here at the beach.  Happily surprised to learn that is not the case.

Enjoying a few olives and preparing for the work-day ahead, while supper cooks and Barbara Cook sings "It's Better With a Band" to me from the living room. Nice.  Very nice.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Joshua Bell Story Triggers Memories

What a story. When money was tight back in the 70s, I remember friend Evan used to get 2 other (out of work) pros together and perform on the streets of Manhattan for a few extra bucks. Some days they did very well.  But that's New York, not DC!  Before his death, Evan played first chair with the Phoenix Orchestra for 3 years. 
"Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.
4 minutes later:
The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
6 minutes:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
10 minutes:
A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.
45 minutes:
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.
1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.
This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.
The questions raised:
*In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
*Do we stop to appreciate it?
*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?
One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made…
How many other things are we missing?"
I remember Joshua telling this story on the Diane Rehm Show shortly after the experiment was published in the Washington Post, I believe.

More later.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Simon & Garfunkel 1969: A Look at The Future from the Past

This is a very telling piece of video.  Corporate America, especially AT&T has always been more right-wing than portrayed in their advertising. I am so grateful that most independent film-making today is not controlled by corporate dollars, and alternative distribution outlets (and Independent Film Festivals) ensure a film gets on screens.
This lesson is as valid today as it was 40 years ago.  Unfortunately, some things never change.

And so it goes.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Life Update

Did I mention that my apartment sprung a leak?  Discovered last Saturday when it was least expected. Well, the sealant around the pipe that drains from the roof to the ground flows through my walk-in closet gave way (probably from the high winds caused by Irene) and I came home to a bit of a flood.  Ruining 3 pair of work slacks that cannot be salvaged.

Reported the problem to the landlord on Monday.  He promised to address it ASAP. It's been raining (heavily at times) every day since the leak made its appearance.  No one has come to fix the problem. To be fair, it would be impossible to do so in the rain.  So I empty the little bucket twice daily and wait.

Thankfully, the restaurant has been busy even if, as the servers say, tipping is down by half - at least we still have jobs - and diners are going for the off-season daily specials to save their pennies. Hell, we're all doing that.

No reply from Social Security regarding my letter inquiring about tips & ideas for living on $1,180. a month.  It's been 2 weeks, so far.  Could they still be calculating???

The cleaners gave no hope for the slacks, so in a last ditch effort  I tried washing them myself.  No good.  There must be some solvent or bleaching agent in the pipe sealant, so the stains are permanent.  (Sigh!) Toss into the trash time.

It's officially Autumn, and I went to work this morning IN THE DARK!  We hates it, precious, yes we does. Dark, drizzly and depressing.  Though the sun made a valiant attempt to shine, it was out numbered by the black and gray clouds that made this Sunday one designed for staying indoors, under a comforter, with a book and cup of tea. 

Was invited to a fundraising event this evening, but since I was not the recipient - and the donation was $100. - I decided to pass.

More rain is on the way. I am happy to be home sipping a cocktail as I prepare a light supper.

And so it goes.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Five Nutrients Necessary for Good Health...

...That we probably are not aware of. 

Came across this a while back, printed copies for friends and co-workers, then promptly forgot to post it. There is good information in this article, so you may want to give it your attention.
After a long hard day at the office, I crave a manly dinner. Something that will sharpen my mind, feed my muscles, and infuse me with energy to keep up with two young kids till bedtime.
So, often, I have a bowl of cereal. With bananas and whole milk. Mmm.
Do I feel like I’m depriving my body of key nutrients? Quite the opposite, actually. My favorite dinner isn't just for kids. It contains high levels of three nutrients that American adults need much more of: B12, potassium, and iodine. Our shortfalls with these nutrients—along with vitamin D and magnesium—have serious health consequences, including a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, fatigue, and weight gain.
Here's the good news: These nutrients are readily available in the foods you know and love. You can get more of one simply by spending more time outside. That doesn't sound so hard, does it? Here's how to fortify your diet—and your health.
This vitamin's biggest claim to fame is its role in strengthening your skeleton. But vitamin D isn't a one-trick nutrient: A study in Circulation found that people deficient in D were up to 80 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. The reason? Vitamin D may reduce inflammation in your arteries. Also, a University of Minnesota study found that people with adequate vitamin D levels release more leptin, a hormone that conveys the "I'm full" message to your brain. Even more impressive, the study also found that the nutrient triggers weight loss primarily from the belly. Another study found that people with higher D levels in their bloodstream store less fat.
The shortfall: Vitamin D is created in your body when the sun's ultraviolet B rays penetrate your skin. Problem is, the vitamin D you stockpile during sunnier months is often depleted by winter, especially if you live in the northern half of the United States, where UVB rays are less intense from November through February. When Boston University researchers measured the vitamin D status of young adults at the end of winter, 36 percent of them were found to be deficient.
Hit the mark: First, ask your doctor to test your blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. "You need to be above 30 nanograms per milliliter," says Michael Holick, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of medicine at Boston University. Come up short? Eat foods like salmon (900 IU per serving), mackerel (400 IU), and tuna (150 IU). Milk and eggs are also good, with about 100 IU per serving. But to ensure you're getting enough, take 1,400 IU of vitamin D daily from a supplement and a multivitamin. That's about seven times the recommended daily intake for men, but it takes that much to boost blood levels of D, says Dr. Holick.
The rest of the story and other 4 nutrients involved can be found HERE.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Piece of Mahler - Peace for a Friend

In loving memory of my long time friend THC who passed away in the early hours of this day. He was a music lover who wrote liner notes for hundreds of Classical Recordings over the years. He was also a founding member of the Mahler Society and this video of Bernstein's ending to Mahler's 9th suits my friend well, down to the very last note.
Rest in peace and may you be comforted, as I remember you now, by the music of Mahler. Mr. C. I love you. You will be remembered always.

And so it goes.

My Class Experience in Food Handling Safety

We met in the dark in front of the restaurant (like a drug deal going down!) at 6:15 am, as planned, 2 backed out at the last minute leaving only 3, and made it to the training center with minutes to spare.

The class totaled 13 with only 5 of us testing for an initial certification. All others were taking the exam to re-certify and light years ahead of us in procedure and handling knowledge. It was difficult to keep up at times and I felt terrible for my friends Sasha, from Belarus - and Daniel, from Mexico. My attempts to help, mostly futile, depended on their understanding other English synonyms. Time-consuming and not very effective. English is not even their second language. At least Daniel was allowed to take the exam in Spanish. No such luck for Sasha, no Russian version.

It's important to note that Sasha is a manager, among other things; Daniel is a chef; I am well, what I am.  Whatever that is today.

There were 3 breaks, including a half-hour lunch. By the time lunch time came around, served by the kitchen on site, we were already up to our eyeballs in fear of bacteria, food-borne viruses, personal hygiene. The food was excellent, and an unexpected selection of options. Oysters, Pork Roast, braised carrots, sauteed broccoli, various salad ingredients, garlic-roasted potatoes and some kind of flan for dessert (which I didn't sample) and everything set off bells and red flags in our heads regarding food safety. Maybe that was the idea.

Maybe, we were just paranoid.

Anyway, the 9-hour day turned into 11 hours because of issues involving others in the class, who were inattentive to detail forgetting to bring the completed information sheets required for the class and test. Gathering this information from the website by the proctor ate up an hour. And not even an apology was offered by the proctor or the guilty parties involved when the dust settled.

We plunged into lectures, viewed 4 videos, study groups, and followed up with a Q&A a couple of times to review the TCS standards for each food group, especially meats, seafood, chicken, and dairy. Very confusing stuff, but extremely interesting and informative. I learned that most of it is common sense, and I was happy to raise my hand a few times when questions about certain foods and their safe storage came up.

We began the exam at 5:30 (half-hour after the class was to have ended), it is not timed, and attendees were allowed to leave when they finished. I wrapped up in about an hour, not that I'm smart,  I don't like to second-guess myself and usually go with my gut and failing memory.  But my poor Sasha & Daniel struggled to get through their 90 questions. I texted the GM telling her the situation and she suggested we stop at a restaurant for supper and bring her the bill. The others were frazzled when they finished and didn't want to have dinner at a restaurant. We all wanted to get home after the long, brain-numbing day. I texted our decision.

Did we pass?  Unfortunately, we will not know the answer for about 2 weeks. The exams are Fed-Ex'd to the National Restaurant Association where they are laughed at evaluated, graded, and posted on the NRA - ServSafe website. I think I did a fair job, though a few questions were from chapters in the book not covered in the class (probably to benefit those attending for re-certification) so I used common sense (ahem!) and did my best.

We were on the road back to Rehoboth at 7:30 when I received a text from our GM, asking how things went and if we wanted to stop by for a drink and/or dinner. I passed along the info to the guys. Sasha was up for a cocktail, Daniel just wanted to go home to sleep (he'd had only 4 hours the previous night) and I was ready for a Martini and some food.

During the long drive we discussed what we learned and how our new awareness will impact the day-to-day operation of the restaurant. Most everything covered is already in practice, (the restaurant has a stellar inspection record) but there are a few ways to improve. There always are, aren't there!

Upon arrival, Daniel took off for home, Sasha and I headed to the bar. He was anxious to get home to his kids and left soon after polishing off his Bombay Sapphire. I sat and sipped, ordered a "blue steak quesadilla" (new menu item, grilled steak topped with crumbled blue cheese and bourbon sauce) with a salad. Absolute Heaven! The GM made me another martini and joined me as I sipped. She is off to Ireland today for a 2-week holiday with family.

Slept like a baby and have been running around today playing catch-up on things that were to be done yesterday.

Looking back the whole adventure was worthwhile and though my brain still hurts, the increased knowledge will make me more of an asset to the restaurant and the locosguys in the long run.

Going to wash my hands again and prepare for a couple of olives before supper.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

DADT & "The Closet"

Remembering another time and another place. Celebrating the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  I wept for both, for different reasons.
And so it goes.

Monday, September 19, 2011

An Adventure in Food Management

Tomorrow morning will find me wheeling toward Pokomoke, Maryland at 6 am to attend a nine-hour class/seminar devoted to Food Service Management and food handling safety. It's the ServSafe program instituted by the FDA devoted to Temperature Control of Foods for Safety. (TCS)

The seminar is formally known as the "ServSAFE Serving Safe Food Certification Program" - Applied Foodservice Sanitation" cha-cha-cha. Covering topics like Sanitation Challenges, Flow of Food through the Operation, and Clean, Sanitary Facilities and Equipment.

The seminar includes the Course Book, Class Instruction, Role-Play (?), Certification Testing, Lunch, and the Certificate (upon passing the test).

Yes, tomorrow was to be one of my two days off this week, but the locosguys neglected to let us know that he had scheduled (and paid for) us to attend. He did ask if I would mind taking the seminar with a few others, but that was way back in late July, and no mention was made of it again.

Originally, there were to be 7 in our little group, but 2 are unable to attend on such short notice due to personal issues, or school. Not to worry, the $225. per person will not be lost. Those 2 will attend at a future date. We are traveling together in one car and all expenses are paid by the restaurant.

While I have no idea the reasoning behind my participation, I am looking forward to the challenge and learning more about the way the FDA holds tight rein over food service in this country while allowing tainted foods from other countries into the US without so much as a peep. I hope to learn a lot.

OK, so I lose a day, but Wednesday is still a free day. All is not lost, and it could be great fun. I'll let you know, either way.  I just know you can't wait!!!

And so it goes.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pride, Rain, Tony Bennett & The (Gaga) Tramp

It was PRIDE day here. Rain, cold temperatures, gusty winds off the ocean, and negative attitudes left me feeling less than proud of my community.  Dealt with some of the nastiest dykes and queans ever encountered.  Like it was our fault the weather was crappy!!!

The restaurant was slammed as a result of the weather and bitchy harpies of the rainbow (both genders) were a large part of the crowd. The bar was packed, the dining room too, there was a half hour wait for tables by 1 pm.  Though I have no control over the bar, they bitched because there were no seats at the bar.  Not. My. Department.

I smiled. I smiled.  And I smiled.  I even shrugged a few times. They were not going to wear me down.  No.  F**king. Way.

Eight servers and 3 bartenders, so there was enough on my plate.  The kitchen performed well and there should have been no complaints - but there were...can you guess from where?  Oh, you are so good!

I finally logged out an hour after my scheduled time. Chose not to stay for an AS cocktail and walked home in the rain. The steady beat of rain calmed me down on the way.

Out of wet clothes and into a dry martini, I find this bit of lovely waiting for me from a friend. What a pick-me-up!  Of course, I love Tony, but was pleasantly surprised at the quality of GaGa's voice.  She has the clear smooth pipes of a big band singer. The Lady is a Tramp is one of my all-time faves. Yes, it's a bit kitchy, but they pull it off in style and the arrangement is a knock-out. They are clearly having fun (some of it sounds like improv) on this recording. I hope they do this one live, some day.  Maybe Tony will win one more Grammy and this will be it.

What do you think?

And so it goes.

Medicated Caturday

I really look like this, sometimes...

More later.

Friday, September 16, 2011

American Football Season

My Sentiments, exactly. If only...

And so it goes.

How Important are Vacations?

Yes, my ass needs a vacation!  Just came across this and couldn't agree more with the handsome Mr. Branson.

Sir Richard Branson

Founder and Chairman, Virgin Group
"Dr. Yes" "I get quite angry about companies in America, including some of our own, who give people such short vacations. I think you can say it's an absolute disgrace and especially for people that have families. I really do think -- and especially when you've got such high unemployment -- the jobs could be shared around amongst everybody in America. Those people that want to job-share would have longer time off with their family without being made to feel guilty by the company. You should be allowed to do so. It's a much better balance of life.
"I know how difficult it is to change that attitude, because I get the chief executives of our companies from America down to Necker to talk to them occasionally and tell them that if people want to take leave for six months, they should be able to do so. If they want to share jobs with somebody else, they should be able to do so. It's just so difficult to get people to change their attitudes. But, it's time that parents need to find time with their children and occasions like that are very important for recharging the batteries, getting healthy and coming back to work even harder."
The others have some interesting things to say, as well. 

More later.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Working to Save DeBraak's Hull

If you have visited here, even occasionally, you know I love stories like this and this one is especially dear because it's happening in my own back yard, so to say.  This was published yesterday in one of our local weeklies, The Delaware Coast Press:
LEWES -- The musket balls, once at the ready for an 18th century sea battle, are vacuum packed in the same plastic bags home cooks use to store leftovers.
The socks, a little stained, but otherwise perfect -- are spread out in acid-free boxes.
And the bilge pump rests in a specially built roller cart.
But the one piece of the 18th century HMS DeBraak -- raised from the sea floor off Lewes in the summer of 1986 -- that hasn't been carefully conserved and preserved is the largest of some 20,000 artifacts: the giant section of the 85-foot long vessel's hull.
For more than two decades, the hull section, about 30 percent of the original ship, has been stored in a warehouse near Lewes. A steady stream of fresh water keeps the wood -- which dates to pre-1798 -- wet. And over time, it has washed away salt deposits, tiny bits of debris, mud and sand.
Now, state archaeologists are beginning to tackle their biggest conservation challenge yet with the DeBraak collection, considered world class by researchers and historians.
"There is no other vessel like this," said Charles H. Fithian, the state curator of archaeology, who has worked on the DeBraak since thousands of artifacts and the hull were raised from the sea floor in summers of 1984, 1985 and 1986.
Now, he said, they must develop a conservation plan for the hull remains.
"We could make a serious mistake and ruin it," he said.

The components

The DeBraak hull remains are made from oak, held together with copper fasteners. Copper sheets protected the hull from destructive wood parasites.
A critical step now is to figure out the chemistry of the hull remains -- how much sea salt is left in the wood and what chemical reactions have occurred since the section has been in storage under the freshwater spray system, he said.
Once that is understood, state officials will be able to come up with a plan to preserve the hull and protect it from chemical breakdown, Fithian said.
The rest of this story is HERE.

More on the history of the DeBraak can be found HERE.

More later.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Audrey Hepburn in a Cowboy Hat...

Your argument is invalid!

And so it goes.

Bix, Tram, & Dorsey: Singin' The Blues

Yes, one of those days.  A single serving of Bix - with friends, of course.  From the YT description:
The Frankie "Tram" Trumbauer Orchestra feat. Bix Beiderbecke - Singin' the Blues. The first minute of the song is a sax solo by Trumbauer. The second minute is Bix's cornet solo. The third minute features a short clarinet solo by Jimmy Dorsey, who was the clarinetist in Trumbauer's Orchestra at that time. The guitarist on this track is Eddie Lang. This song is considered a jazz classic because Bix and, to a lesser degree, Tram were able to make a slow-tempo jazz ballad swing. This ability to make slow-tempo swinging jazz would later be emulated by jazz musicians ranging from Lester Young to John Coltrane to Miles Davis.
And so it goes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Summer: Not Gone, Hardly Forgotten

"Summer's gone and no songbirds are singing."  OK, who remembers this one?***

According to the calendar,  Autumn arrives over a week from now, the birds are singing wildly, and Summer weather is still with us, only the visitors have gone, for the most part.  All of this leaves us staring at one another and coping with life, as we came to know it, coming to a screeching halt. 

Still a lot of activity in town and plenty of beach-goers coming out of the woodwork now that the tourists are back home.

The restaurant remains busy, though business is down by a third from last month.  Weekends are still very busy and we are gearing up for Jazz Fest and Sea Witch Festival in October.

The work schedule has changed and I am back to a 5 day week. It feels strange to have the luxury of that extra free day after 5 months, but it is a welcome change.  While the extra day's pay will be missed, I can enjoy the rest and relaxation. Everything is a trade-off, isn't it.

Visited the Farmer's Market to pick up fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, early kale, white sweet potatoes, and tiny fingerling potatoes - great for pan-roasting.

While walking around the market I saw a few people from my previous life who ducked into vendor tents to avoid making contact. I chuckled and when I finally caught the eye of one, waved politely and kept moving. Tiny-minded, little people are all round us, I hope you realize that.  No matter where you live.

Oh, Christ on a cracker, who gives and fig anymore.  Get over yourselves! 

Tomorrow's plan is to head up to the beach at Cape Henlopen, enjoy the sound of the ocean, search for conch shells for the daughter of a co-worker, and do some photography. A tiny bit of grocery shopping will finish off the outdoor entertainment.

***Paul Anka

And so it goes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Little Levity from Beauty & The Beast.

Bonjour, Girl! New lyrics overdubbed by a gay man whose Belle is a bitch-on-wheels.  Oh, Snap!  I've watched it 3 times already and pick up new throw-away lines every time.  Enjoy!

G*d, I needed this after the weekend from Hell commemorating 9/11.

And so it goes.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Ten Years. Let it Go!

I want no pictures, images of any kind of the towers, pentagon, open field.  There are enough in my memories to last 2 lifetimes. I want no communion with others. I am grateful to work Sundays, but today, especially today. All preaching will be on this single subject with the phrase "Never Again" ringing in our ears. I thought I would share this post by my friend, Elizabeth retelling her experiences.

It's titled "9/11 Cheeseburgers of Hope" and you'll understand why when you read the whole thing at her place.
I saw an announcement recently for a Taize Service at an Episcopal Church. It promised, "No towers. No testimonies. Just candles, chanting, prayers and silence."

Sounds good to me.

It's been pretty overwhelming to watch the media race to have the first, the most profound, the most visually graphic images of 9/11.

I've seen several really good videos produced by various organizations, some of which are reflections by people who were there. Others are about the 9/11 Memorial which opens this Sunday and the Museum which is scheduled to open next year.

And, I've read some powerful essays about the presence of Evil and how some have learned to confront it as well as reflections on what we have or haven't or still need to learn, 10 years later.

I think I'm done.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's important to mark events in time such as these. It's important to reflect and learn from history. It's very important to move on to hope and change which is hard to do unless you mark and reflect and learn.

I get that.

It's just that I have a few images of my own about those events and that place which is alternately called "The Pit" or "Ground Zero".

Things I saw with my own two eyes.

Things I heard with my own two ears.

Moments I experienced which are so profound they continue to pull at the corners of my heart all these many years later.

It's the dust that gets to me. It always is.

I remember the moment when one of the Fire Chiefs came into the Seamen's Church Institute where I had gone to volunteer after discovering that there were no bodies to tend to at St. Vincent's Hospital where I had originally gone.

He came into the front door asking where the boots were. It was the fourth pair he had changed that day. I looked down at his boots and saw that most of the rubber had melted right on his feet. One can only wonder how hot the ground was at "The Pit".

"C'mon in," I said, "We'll get you fixed right up. Have you had anything to eat? There's a 70 pound meatloaf upstairs and some killer mashed potatoes. Hungry?"

"Oh, hi, sister," he said, obviously thinking that I was a nun. A gentleman, he took off his helmut as a sign of respect. The nuns of his Irish Roman Catholic youth had taught him well.

When he moved his helmet, ashes flew everywhere. He looked at himself and started to slap the arms and legs of his fireman's suit, muttering apologetically, "There are ashes everywhere . . ."

And then, it hit him. He stopped mid-slap and sucked in his breath. "Ashes....," he said. "Everywhere....." He looked at me, his eyes filling with tears and said, "Ashes. . . .".

It took me a few seconds for my brain to register what he was saying, but I saw it in his tears.


Not just pulverized concrete and cinder and metal. These were also the ashes of people - perhaps some of the very people he was searching to find.
Read 9/11 Cheeseburgers of Hope.

I want no dire warnings or fear-mongering from pundits and politicians.
I want only to be alone with a single candle, memories, and a few silent prayers.

And so it goes.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Shotgun House Redux

I love this and if I had a small plot of land I would buy one in a heartbeat.  Shotgun homes are common in NOLA, sometimes 2 in one building.  But this is something different, unique.  It was not uncommon when I was growing up, to see washers and dryers in the kitchen area - I wouldn't mind that at all.  But, very few dishwashers were present in that era, at least in my hometown.

With experience in the current digs and Spartan living conditions, I could live quite happily in this kind of place.
Well, I can dream, can't I?

And so it goes.

Hey! It's Caturday

More later.

Friday, September 9, 2011

5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Poor

Being poor is like a game of poker where if you lose, the other players get to fuck you. And if you win, the dealer fucks you.
A bunch of you reading this are among the 45 million "working poor" in America, and if you're not, you know somebody who is. Like me.
I'm not blaming anybody but myself for getting into this situation (I was drunk for two straight decades) and I'm not asking for anybody's sympathy. What I am saying is that people are quick to tell you to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and just stop being poor. What they don't understand is the series of intricate financial traps that makes that incredibly difficult.
If you're not poor, that's awesome. I'm not mad at you, or jealous. Hopefully you'll never find out that ...

You Get Charged for Using Your Own Money

This is the future, where many businesses no longer accept cash as payment. That means you are required to have a checking account to function in the economy. And if you're poor, that means at some point you're going to get bank-fucked.
Because having a checking account while poor doesn't just mean you have to be responsible and good at math -- you have to be perfect. Meticulous, flawless record keeping is the difference between surviving and having the bank seize your next paycheck.
Let's say you're running late for work and hurriedly stop to get gas, paying with a bank card. In your haste you forget to write the $55 down (gas being $4 a gallon, you know). So while you spent the last week until payday thinking you had $50 in your account to absorb minor purchases, you actually were $5 in the red.
So payday comes. You go to the bank to deposit your check, at which point the bank takes it, sticks it in their pocket and says, "Thank you very much! I'm buying myself a new pair of shoes with that shit!" They then inform you that your account was at -$200 at the moment you deposited your check.

The whole disgusting piece is HERE.  Maybe now you will understand.

And so it goes.

How I Feel Today

More later.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Don't Apply Early for Social Security Benefits...

...Unless you 1.) live with 6 other people in a small flat,  2.) live on the street in a cardboard box, 3.) live with parents at age 65.   Sure, all that makes perfect sense, now doesn't it?

Everyone advised me to apply early; don't wait until full retirement age; the money will come in handy now.  Well, at least that last part would have been correct. It seems the rules have changed.

Problem is if gross income exceeds

- wait for it -

$1180.00 monthly, you apparently get nothing.

I have answered 3 questionnaires since applying in May, expected a check in July, only to receive another questionnaire at the end of August. WTF? 

The May questionnaire asked for my approximate income for 2011.  I  did a bit of math using last year as a guide and returned it.  The August one demanded the exact gross income for 2011 and a projected gross income for 2012.  WTF, again! That one was mailed back today and I don't expect to see any money until after my birthday in 2012.

Nothing extra for basic TV service, or pocket money for a little fun, and nothing for a short getaway this Fall. 

I am sick of talking about money (or the lack thereof) and tired of making excuses when asked to join co-workers for a Happy Hour drink at a local pub.  They just don't understand and don't ask anymore.

It is what it is and there is nothing within my power to change it.  I'm sorry that I was misled into believing that things would be different if I applied early.  I should have waited and saved myself all this aggravation.

I cannot complain; I have an apartment, a job I love, food for the table, and only a year before I can collect SS benefits without a catch.  I hope.

I smell olives - at least 2!

And so it goes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Casablanca or Carrot Blanca?

Both from Warner Brothers.  Watched the Bogart/Bergman version recently and a commenter sent this link.  I would have saved an entire evening if I had known this was available.  I mean, being only about 8 minutes, rather than full feature length.  I love Tweety morphing into Peter Lorre's character.  Come on, laugh with me here.
And if you've never seen the real thing, you are missing a great film experience.

And so it goes.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Disturbing The Disturbed

You can't make this stuff up. Just had a conversation with my boss.

On my day off.  That speaks volumes. He never contacts me on my days off unless it's an urgent issue. However, he was befuddled.

The new scumbag partner my Ex left me for, told the locosguys my Ex is upset that I am still around, didn't leave town in shame after the nasty break-up situation, and therefore disturbing for the Ex.  Says they won't dine in the restaurant as long as I am working there. Such nerve! 

The boss explained that I am, and would be, professional in every way and that they shouldn't care about the past. He said that I was doing well personally, had moved on, was an asset to the business and that he was sorry about their choice to stay away. But, that it was their choice. These words seemed to annoy the scumbag new partner, no end. The boss told me that it sounded an awful lot like guilt to him.  He was right on the mark.

I've seen my Ex on the street, in stores, parking lots, and whenever he sees me he runs in the opposite direction or leaves as quickly as possible. When I saw him in the wine store last week, he actually ducked behind a display to avoid me.  I. Am. Not. Joking.   Disturbing to the already Disturbed?  Not my problem.

Guilt = the gift that keeps on giving.

I have no plans, nor reason, to leave this place, or this job.   OK, maybe for a short holiday.

And so it goes.

Investment Advice

If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in Delta Airlines one year ago, you would have $49.00 today!
If you purchased $1,000 of shares in Popeye’s Chicken , you would have $33.00.
If you purchased $1,000 of shares in Lehman Brothers, you would have $0.00 today.

But, if you purchased $1,000 worth of Blue Moon, drank all of it, turned in the aluminum cans for recycling, you would have $214.00.

Therefore the best current investment plan is to drink good beer heavily & recycle.

The best information I've received in a long time.  Sure beats my own sad experiences.

And so it goes.

Labor Day 2011: The Holiday

As I walked to work at 7:30 Monday morning my senses became aware of a foul odor, slightly sweet and sour, pungent, which grew stronger until I had to put my handkerchief over my nose and mouth to prevent gagging.

When I arrived at  the source of the stench there were two garbage trucks idling and piles of boxes, bags and other containers waiting to be chucked inside. The stench obviously caused by rotting foods. The refrigeration in the truck trailer - used to store the leftovers (and trash) of some big party event - died and no one was aware until the garbage trucks arrived to take it away.  I cannot imagine anyone surviving the initial blast when those doors were opened.

All was well at the restaurant; staff arrived either early or on-time and we were open at 11:30 as usual. At 11:33 a stream of people came through those doors; a party of 12 closely followed by a party of 9. These 2 parties were settled quickly as smaller parties arrived in a steady flow that continued throughout the day.

The 7 servers were put through their paces; the locosguys jumped in - one behind the bar, the other in the kitchen - to help keep things moving quickly.  Other servers were scheduled to arrive every hour and they did so right in the nick-of-time, as they say. I was all over the place cleaning tables, replacing flatware, delivering extra napkins, all while greeting guests and answering the G*ddam phone. Due to the bad thumbs I am not allowed to handle dishes or glassware

Of course the damned plantar wart picked this time to deliver pain to my tired foot to the point that I was hobbling and trying to put as little weight as possible on it. By the end of my shift I wanted only to get off my feet and relieve the pain.  I knew if I sat down for an AS cocktail I would never get up again.   Hobbled home (again) took a few aspirin, and hit the bed and read for a while. 

Bumper-to-bumper traffic forced most people to hang around a few extra hours.  Spending it in town and not in traffic seemed the better option.  That said, I have no idea how the evening ended (Monday night Karaoke is always a big draw) but if the day crowd was an indication, it was a crazy ending of a super Summer season.  Nobody wanted it to end.

It was over for me and I was happy to be home and off my sore feet.

And so it went.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Five on the Fifth: Mess

Stephen Chapman of the blog “The State Of The Nation UK”, has a monthly feature called “Five on the Fifth” in which bloggers may participate by posting five photos on their blog and exchanging links with his. The five pictures, taken in the days leading up to the fifth of the month, may be random or may follow his suggested theme, which this month is MESS.
OK, so here are my five entries and, as you can tell, there wasn't a lot to work with.  If hurricane Irene had made a direct hit last weekend, there would have been plenty of mess and a whole lot of chaos.  I am happy that she moved on without causing much of either.

A few items needed for chores on my day off.
Storage room for the Galleria, retail store.
Kitchen early morning after Karaoke.
Things emptied from my messenger bag yesterday. Don't say it, I know.
Restaurant storage room, with cinder blocks and tarp protection barrier, a remnant of Irene.
Well, that's all I've got.  This is a beach resort and we're just ending the biggest weekend of the summer season, so I feel fortunate just to put my images up at all. All comments are welcome. Thanks for visiting.

And so it goes.

Thought of the Day

So true.  Especially today as visitors begin the exodus to their homes.

More later.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor Day 2011 - Day Three

This is likely to be the most boring post of the weekend, so far.  EVERYTHING was about the same, only larger quantities.

The one difference being that Birthday Brunch mentioned yesterday. 14 Lesbians of a certain age celebrating the 65th birthday of their friend,  one of our regular customers and a friend from my previous life. Eight of the 14 arrived early to knock back drinks at the bar before the others arrived.  When the birthday girl arrived, she and the other 5 made up for the lost time. Grande Margaritas flowed as the gifts were opened and the meals were being prepared. Mercy, but they turned into a rowdy bunch. They laughed and carried on for almost 2 hours with everyone in the dining room getting caught up in the festive atmosphere.

By noon the bar was rapidly filling with Happy Hour folks and the dining room was buzzing with parties of 2 to 10, and from then on I lost track of time.  The steady stream of diners didn't let up until 3 o'clock and we were all pretty worn out. A few were working the dinner shift as well, bless them.

Many visitors are heading home this evening to avoid the traffic nightmare tomorrow.  The kids begin school  on Tuesday, so that was a real downer for them today.

The gay and lesbian crowd began gearing up for Sundance - The Dance tonight by descending on the bar for munchies and drinks at special prices.  They had already been bar-hopping and some were pretty tanked-up already.  I wondered if they would make to 8 pm when the dance begins, or end up asleep, miss it all, and regretting it tomorrow.  Ah, Youth!

When the bar is that crowded and noisy, I tend to skip the AS cocktail, opting instead to head home.  Not tonight.  A co-worker grabbed me by the elbow and said, "c'mon Shirley, we're going to have a cocktail and laugh at all the crazies".  Which we did for almost an hour, from our own little staked out corner at the very back of the bar.  And what a laugh-fest it was. Don't worry, no pictures were taken. It was just great fun.

Winding down and realizing how tired we were thanks to the cocktail, we went our separate ways. Supper is being prepared as I enjoy another 2 olives.  It will be another early night.  Have to be at work early again tomorrow, the final day of the long Labor Day weekend. I hope there will be more of interest to post in the evening.

More later.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

This Country is Doomed!

The Dumbing of America appears to be a success.

More later.

Labor Day 2011 - Day Two

Was pretty much a carbon copy (does anyone know what that means, anymore?) of what yesterday delivered. More of the same great weather, same smiles, same beach-goers - before and after beaching it - and even more diners.

Some regulars (one of my handsome straight men) returned, expressing concern about our situation during last week's hurricane.  I got hugs from them all, including a big bear hug from my handsome fantasy man.  Sigh!  He looks a lot like a slightly older  Matthew McConnaughey with searing blue eyes.

Sadly, no walk on the boardwalk this morning because the kitchen staff had to arrive early to prepare massive quantities of Guacamole and Salsa, as well as their regular prep duties.

 I will miss the walk again tomorrow because I have to be at work by 7:30 to prep for the 9 am Brunch.  Aside from a few other reservations, there is one for a party of 14 celebrating with a surprise birthday party for a regular customer at 10:15am. 

The birthday girl (she'd kill me if she read that) is a friend from my previous life, and we were asked to do our best to humiliate the hell out of her. We're on it.  It's her 65th birthday!

I was invited out for cocktails following my shift tomorrow, but I don't know what time I will be set free, and not interested in going out to another busy spot during a holiday weekend - the busiest of the season. I think I'll have to pass.

And so it goes.

Magical Caturday

More later.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day 2011 - Day One

I love living at the beach and this photo is what my apartment would look like were it 'beach-front' property. (click to embiggen) Octopus not included, of course. Yes, it's a nice life.

There was a line of people waiting to buy pastries and coffee at the bakery beginning at 6:30 am.

My walk on the boardwalk was met with smiles and many a "good morning" from locals and visitors alike. (Even a few from the previous life!)

Town was buzzing by 8 am with people doing breakfast, packing coolers for the beach, and strolling with pets or biking around town.

Perfect weather forecast.  Going to remain in the upper 70s F for the day.  Heaven!

A festive atmosphere created by festive people made the work day special. Everything ran like clockwork and the transition to dinner went smoothly.

The AS cocktail of Bombay Sapphire with 2 olives was most appreciated and as I walked home strangers in autos in search of parking waved and smiled.  That was a bit unnerving, to tell the truth.

A near perfect day had I not fallen on my face on the wet dining room floor this morning.  Fortunately, graceful as I am (Ahem!) landing on all-fours, elbows and knees, which I am sure will cause back pain tomorrow.  Oh well. 

Still, a day to remember.

And so it goes.


 Found this last evening and it struck a chord.  I'd read it before but this time it made more sense to me. Thought I'd share.
 “We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”
Hunter S. Thompson (American, 1937-2005)
More later.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Summer's Swan Song

Summer's final fling, last gasp, beach blanket buster weekend is upon us. 

The coastal highway was jammed - last evening and this morning - with visitors anxious to return to the beach communities on Delmarva having been denied their fun last weekend, thanks to hurricane Irene's destructive blow job.

The town began to fill this morning under a clear sky, as visitors arrived to spend the day on the beach. Some stopped by for lunch and Happy Hour before heading back to their accommodations. While the lunch crowd wasn't huge, everyone was ready for a party of whatever sort.  The energy was intoxicating, to say the least.

By 2 pm, I had to stop taking reservations for Saturday and Sunday - we are totally booked.  I even have a number of reservations for Sunday Brunch at 9:30 am!!!  That's not happened before.

Thanks to last minute scheduling issues and a few weekend menu changes, I stayed an extra hour at my station so the locosguys could get them ironed out and meet with the people involved.

By 5 pm I was more than ready for my AS cocktail.  Sipped a Golden Margarita with a co-worker, then headed for home.  On the way I thought about the happy times of Labor Days past, and found myself looking forward to the hustle, bustle and chaos; the madness that accompanies the end of summer.  Sundance, the annual AIDS fundraiser = silent and live auctions of  incredible items; Sundance, the Dance = great music by some of the best east coast DJs coupled with a terrific light show. Drag Volleyball = also a fundraiser and annual hysterical event that's been going on for 2 decades, and much more.   It's going to be a gay old time, to be sure.

And I will be right in the middle of it.  Wonderful!

And so it goes.
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