Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weird Things I Have Found at Work

1. Poop stained wife-beater style t-shirt in men's room bathroom garbage can

2. An enormous amount of hair from a beard (perhaps) in the men's room toilet

3. Very dirty blonde wig with glitter on it in the dumpster

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas Doesn't Come from a Store

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Maybe Her Jaw is Broken for a Reason

While at work last evening a call came in from a local, big box office supply store. A group had decided to order food for pick-up. Included in their order was a bowl of soup. The caller explained she had a broken jaw and would need me to puree the soup for her as she was unable to eat it otherwise. Several thoughts crossed my mind.

1. How was it the caller could talk so well yet not be able to mash up some overcooked broccoli to the point of being able to swallow it?

2. What shift would one have to work to get a lunch break at six o'clock in the evening?

3. How did the caller break her jaw? Did a giant box of printer ink fall and hit her square in the jaw or did some other person do this to her?

4. Why didn't the caller bring her own lunch to work?

Needless to say, I pureed the soup as I was not so busy that it was inconvenient. I wonder, how far does one have to go in customer service? Did I do the right thing by pureeing her soup? Should I have told her, "You HAVE got to be kidding?" Is minimum wage worth the trouble? Should we be nicer to people when we make more money for doing so?

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I had never grown leeks before. Late winter I decided to plant leek seeds indoors under lights. They were pathetic little things and I was certain they would never make it to the garden. They did...and they thrived. Once thin strands of green poking out of the soil became robust, sturdy leeks. They were not difficult to grow but they took a long long time. I started the seeds in late February and harvested the first leeks today.
I made soup and it was fantastic.

6 leeks sliced thin
3 carrots peeled and diced
3 shallots sliced thin
3 stalks celery sliced thin
3 small potatoes peeled and diced
4 c vegetable broth
1 cup cream
bay leaves

Saute the first four ingredients in a little olive oil until tender. Add potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat. Add sherry, salt, pepper, bay and parsley. Allow to simmer for an hour or as long as it takes to put all the laundry away and leaf blow the deck. Add cream. Puree in food processor. Serve with thin slices of baguette topped with goat's milk feta and roasted red peppers.

Photo #14

I found this photograph in a picnic shelter along the Mahoning River just outside of Downtown Youngstown. I have no idea who these women are. I've decided to name them and create a portrait of each.

From left to right...

Agnes Johnson. Agnes is married to Robert Johnson but everyone still calls him Bobby. He is a fire fighter. Agnes owns a nail salon. She has far too many purses and believes one should never wear white after Labor Day. Agnes has three children, Stella, 30 lives in Tuscon, Jimmy, 28 lives in Gerard and Felix, 26 lives nearby in Youngstown.

Louise Simpson. Louise is divorced. She used to be married to Phil Simpson. Phil worked for King Tool and Manufacturing but is now laid off. Louise works at Macy's in the shoe department. She is famous for her southern cooking which she learned from her mother who is from Alabama. Louise has a daughter, Meredith, who works as a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry.

Karen Hawthorne. Karen is married to Bill Hawthorne. Bill works as a car salesman at Fred Martin Ford. Karen is a librarian at a school for kids with special needs. Karen loves gold jewelry and bowls every Wednesday with a group from her church. Karen has two children, Paul, 29, lives in Boardman and Mark, 26 lives in Cortland.

Angela Reynolds. Angela is married to Joe Reynolds. He is a veteran of the police force. Angela is Agnes' sister. Angela plays the organ for her church and loves jazz. She won 1st place for her canned okra at last year's fair. Angela has two children, Donald, who lives in Rhode Island and Danielle who lives in Gerard.

Celia Montgomery. Celia is married to Allan Montgomery. Allan is an assistant prosecutor. In between hosting dinner parties and fundraisers for needy children, Celia also teaches piano lessons and knits. Celia gets her nails done at Agnes' salon every Thursday. Celia has a son, George, who she named after her father.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Remotely Peculiar

A man came into the deli and asked if I had a ladder. "Why, yes I do. Why do you need a ladder?" He went on to explain to me he had been in the parking lot the night before flying his remote controlled airplane and it got stuck on the roof of the building that houses the deli.The ladder we have in the deli is not nearly tall enough to allow someone to gain access to the roof and I explained this to the man, who at this point seemed rather agitated. I apologized and suggested he use the remote control to get the plane off the roof. The next day the same man returned to the deli this time carrying a telephone, not a cell phone but a telephone, a land line as it were. He again asked for a ladder and we had to go through the whole process again about the ladder being too short and all. I suggested he call someone who might have a taller ladder. He said he did not have a telephone. "But, you are holding a telephone at this very moment, yes?" He said, "Yes, yes I am." The plane remained on the roof of the building that day.

Crack Head Perfume Sales Person Incident

I work in a deli in the town just across the river. It is generally a fast paced atmosphere as the business of feeding the hungry is as important a thing I can think of. I had prepared sandwiches, bowls of soup and apple crisp for a family of three and was ready to take on the next customer. I asked, in my loud enough to hear over the ovens, compressors and country music radio station, "May I help you?" She did not want a sandwich, a bowl of soup or even apple crisp. She wanted to let me know she was having a 65-75% off sale on designer perfume. My first thought was she was a crack head, although she was a bit chubby to be a crack head. She could have been a new crack head, yet to shed the pounds. My second thought was where does such a crack head get enough designer perfume to fill the trunk off her car. I did not see a trunk filled with designer perfume but images of Giorgio and Estee Lauder that had mysteriously fallen off the back of a truck did surface. "Do you wear perfume?" asked the crack head. Without hesitation, I explained I was AT work and could not participate in her bizarre solicitation. She promptly left albeit a bit embarrassed. I suppose this is no different than an insurance sales person cold calling or a window cleaning service stopping in because we have lots of windows. Somehow it bothered me and continues to bother me.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm Just a Liberal Fool

I got to know a lot of farmers this summer as they participated in the market. I was under the impression they had thoughts similar to my own where food production was concerned. All of the farmers were what we'd call small, family farmers, farming between 1-80 acres. None of them were big, industrial farmers who see food as a commodity. None of them practiced monoculture, the one farming method I believe is destroying our environment and safety of our food supply. And yet most of these farmer's think it's OK to factory farm because it is our God-given right to eat animals so who cares what conditions they must live in during their short time on Earth. It's OK to put a bunch of suits in charge of livestock standards because otherwise some evil group from the Humane Society is going to shut down the agricultural industry as we know it and we're all going to be forced to eat hummus and falafel which we would buy with our food stamps because we will all be broke. I am beginning to reconsider my role in the county's agriculture landscape. Both the producers and the public seem to be on a very different page than I am. For the hundreds of thousands of acres of corn and soybeans, meant to feed animals that will later be turned into food, I say...what a waste of space.