Dec 16, 2005

Joyce "Josephine" (Lucas) Sabulis, 91

One of my closest friends recently passed away and I wanted to share with you all her beautiful obituary recently published in the Worcester T&G.

Joyce taught me many things over the years. It's hard when someone you love so much is no longer living and you have to go on knowing that you can't share important things with them anymore. I was fortunate that she was with me back in 1990 when I got married. We remained friends throughout the years and she taught me some important things that I'd like to share with you:

  • Always have a goal. Joyce wanted to live to be 90 and she did!
  • Take time at the end of your day to enjoy a few sips of brandy. She claimed it helped the heart. I have fond memories of visiting her for dinner and enjoying a dainty glass of spirits. I was always amazed that such an old lady could handle such a strong drink.
  • Have faith. Although I'm not religious nor spiritual, Joyce taught me that sometimes it helps to put your trust in something you can't see.
  • There's nothing you shouldn't try at least once.
  • Travel any chance you get.
  • Practice patience for you don't know when you'll need it most.
  • Love what you do. Joyce never missed a day of work in her life. One of my favorite stories was during a particulary bad snowstorm she rolled down her hill to catch the bus to work.
  • Always look on the bright side. Joyce Sabulis was the most positive person I've ever met in my life. She could have given Dale Carnegie a run for his money.
I am so fortunate to have met Joyce while we were working at Lechmere. She taught me so much over the years and I'll miss her desperately.


Picture

WORCESTER— Joyce "Josephine" (Lucas) Sabulis, 91, of Mary Scano Drive, Worcester, and longtime resident of Boylston, died Friday, October 7th in Christopher House surrounded by her family and devoted friends.

Her husband, Alfred J. Sabulis died in 1981. She is survived by a son John A. Sabulis of Portsmouth, R.I., a daughter, Joyce M. Sabulis-Ripley of Attleboro, a sister, Veronica Sakalauskas of Worcester, two grandchildren, nieces and nephews. She was born in Worcester, daughter of the late Matthew and Kazimia (Rackus) Lucas and had lived in Boylston for over 50 years.

Mrs. Sabulis moved to Boylston in 1941, and ran her own alteration business from her home for many years. In the 1960's, she went to work for the former Cherry & Webb/Touraine Store in Shrewsbury, as Alteration Manager. Later she headed the Alteration Department at the former Jordan Marsh Department Store at the Worcester Center until age 60.

She retired briefly, and then returned to alteration work for the former R.H. White's at Lincoln Plaza of Worcester until age 70. Still not ready to retire, she worked part-time in sales at the former Lechmere Store at the Greendale Mall until her 80th birthday.

She moved to the Worcester area in 1998. She was a member of Saint Mary of the Hills Church in Boylston. Also a member of the Boylston Lioness Club, the Boylston Grange, the Boylston Garden Club, the AARP of Worcester, and she did volunteer work at the Worcester County Horticultural Society at Tower Hill in Boylston.

Relatives and friends are invited to visit with Joyce's family on Tuesday, October 11th from 4-7 P.M. in the Britton-Shrewsbury Funeral Home, 648 Main Street, Shrewsbury. Her funeral Mass will be on Wednesday, October 12th at 10 A.M. in Saint Mary's Church, 640 Main Street, Shrewsbury. Burial will be in the family lot in Pine Grove Cemetery, Boylston. Memorial contributions in Joyce's memory can be made to the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief, c/o the American Red Cross of Central Massachusetts, 2000 Century Drive, Worcester, MA 01606-1256. For directions and online memorial guestbook, please visit,

Nov 13, 2005

Ready-Set-Flush

Just started my new job this past Monday and I wanted to tell you about the bathroom situation. What's most exciting is everything is automated so there is no thinking involved whatsoever.

I remember fondly at my old job that it took a while to get used to washing my hands knowing the faucets were on timers so that the water would shut off automatically. I got so used to it that I often found myself startled that I actually would walk away from a thorough hand washing only to discover that the water was still running when I was somewhere other than work. So I would quickly return to the sink to turn off the knobs chuckling to myself that once again I was fooled by the modern world in which I lived.

However, there are many improvements in my new job. For one, the toilets automatically flush themselves once your body is moved outside the magical red sensor light. I practiced swaying my hips to the left and the right and eventually figured out exactly when the toilet would flush as I pulled up my pants preparing to leave the stall. Whoosh! It's amazing that I no longer have to worry about whether or not I remembered to flush the toilet. The modern toilet does the thinking for me. (At my old job, I used to hate it when I walked into a stall that clearly wasn't flushed! I also used to get pretty ticked off that people forgot to flush those tissue-paper thing seat covers, too!)

The sinks are equipped with motion-sensor lights, too. I simply offer my hands under the faucet and the water begins flowing at a pre-determined temperature. Pretty cool. But what's even cooler is the soap dispenser. It's automated, too. I simply put my hands under the dispenser and a perfectly sized dollop of soft soap falls into my opened hands. They should have listed this in my benefits package when I joined the company because this was one of my greatest pet peeves at the old job. We had these two built in soap dispensers where invariability one of the dispensers never had any soap in it unless you pumped it furiously for a few little squirts of soap. You always had to cross your dripping wet hands over to the other filled dispenser for soap.

And finally the last luxury of my bathroom experience are the pre-torn sheets of James River paper towels. I simply pull down firmly and a perforated sheet of paper is offered to dry my hands. I also have the choice of using one of those hand blower devices, but I don't like those things and will never use them if given the choice. The machine is always too loud. Maybe when I get a pair of Quiet-Comfort headphones with my employee discount will I consider using this device.

The bathroom is spotless and one could eat off the floor in there. There are also a few boxes of tissues placed on the marbled counter-tops and a fragrant deodorizer spritzes fresh scents also at pre-determined intervals.

My new work bathroom is a modern marvel and I love that I get to enjoy it on a daily basis. Bravo to the designers of corporate toiletry. Well done!

Nov 2, 2005

Beware My Tiny Little Voice



We bought a new leaf blower/vacuum a few days ago at Lowes. I should be excited to use it because it's bright bee yellow and all brandy new. But I'm sitting here posting to my blog rather than being out in my driveway sucking up the leaves because I'm afraid that I'll put all the work into setting it up and it won't start. But I'm sure it will...

So rather than procrastinate any longer, why don't I leave this desk and get outside into the fresh air to start blowing the leaves?

A tiny little voice in my head is chanting, "You're on vacation. Don't do any yard work. You're on vacation. Take a nap instead."

Somehow I don't think I should be listening to my tiny little voice anymore.

Oct 31, 2005

Can You Hear Me Now?

This is Karen's latest entry for a Halloween costume. I must say it's pretty clever and took alot of work to put together. One of her friends did alot of the sewing, but it was Karen who bought the materials including glow sticks, velcro, material, plastic and a Build-A-Bear recordable voice box to wire herself for sound. Sometimes coming up with a good costume idea is the hardest part.

She told me yesterday that she won 3rd prize in a Halloween costume contest that took place in Weymouth. Of course, the prize was a $25 gift certificate to a restaurant out in Weymouth which will probably cost her more in gas to get there again...but she did win something.

I admire Karen for always chasing the golden carrot. This year marks the first year that her inventiveness paid off and I wish her the best of luck tonight in her final Cactus Pete's costume contest taking place on Park Ave in Worcester.


You go, Girl! Posted by Picasa

Oct 28, 2005

Staple Remover

Today was my last day working for Staples. As I was walking down the stairway from the third floor, I thought it was appropriate that I was following a little boy dressed in a fireman's outfit down to the first floor.

We had our annual Halloween party today at the office and I was happy to disappear off into the sunset hidden amongst all the families of Staples employees with their children for trick or treats. Our cafeteria was abuzz with over 500 registered children running around like crazy little people going from activity to activity hyped up large doses of sugar.

It was a good last day. I walked into my cube to a beautiful FTD basket of Autumn flowers and a lovely warm-hearted Good-Luck card from the woman who had been my manager twice in my career at Staples. As I move on to my new job at Bose Corporation, I'll always remember that she hired me and was consistently my biggest fan no matter where I landed in the company. Thank you Bonnie!

I formed so many great friendships over the years. My good friend Ginny saw me off over coffee with two great gifts. A non-descript Staple Remover (pun intended) and the much sought after Stooples book along with the understood hope that she would be next to walk out the door. Hang in there Ginny. You'll be next, but you've got to get that resume updated!

I went out to McDonald's with Rich for the last time, but we promised to meet up for future trips to fast food nations since I'll only be working across Route 9. I'll miss my work husband.

My friends Cheryl and Dan came down for a visit to wish me luck and I playfully made sure I was still invited to their wedding. After all, I knew both of them back when he was crushing on her even though he thought she had 'googly eyes'. I also am proud to know that I discovered their secret dating when she tried to hide their flirtatious emails between one another from everyone in the office, but inadvertently revealed their secret when I saw just how big her Sent folder was in Outlook.

It wasn't too difficult having today be my last day. Aside from being overwhelmed with well-wishes and knowing that in a few days it will truly hit me that I'll miss many of the people I've worked with over the years...I know that they are only an email away. I'm good at keeping in touch with people and I won't let them slip past me as I move on to another company.

I thought I would be emotional when I gave my manager Laura my security badge, but really the only thing I was thinking was that I was happy to be rid of a terrible ID picture that's haunted me for five years. I hope for my next security badge that Bose lets me do-over my photo if it doesn't come out good. But it will feel weird to be without a security badge for a while.

It is bittersweet when you decide to leave a job-especially one that you've been doing for a long time. 5 years at Staples must translate into dog years somehow because it feels like I worked there longer just reflecting back over all the experiences I've had, the many things I've learned and the friendships I've made there. I've always been proud to say that I worked at Staples. I love office supplies and I got to work for the best company that sold them.

That was Easy!

Oct 25, 2005

Happy Halloween


Happy Halloween Everyone!

Just a quick note that the new 2006 Halloween Smurfs have been announced!

I know it's amazing to know that these little guys (and gal) are still being produced, but wonders never cease when there's a strong fan base.

So if you want in and you have $30.99 to spare for decorating next October-why not Smurf on over to MushroomVillage.com to place your pre-order today.

These new 2006 Smurfs will be shipping next April! And that's no April Fool's Joke.

Oct 22, 2005

No Waiting


Jiffy Lube must be hurting for business because I saw a man standing on the outside of Jiffy Lube, on the corner of Rte 9 holding a big sign with bold red letters saying "NO WAITING". I was going by a little too quickly to look at this human billboard closely, but I would imagine him having the same blank dead stare as the homeless woman I see every day holding a similar sign begging for money.

Imagine having a job like that. Imagine having to fill out a job application at Jiffy Lube so payroll taxes can be deducted from your meager minimum wage paycheck. You'd probably like to think this was just an oil lube technician caught hanging around the oil-changing pit not doing much and his boss decided to make him useful. But that's probably not the case.

What was more likely the case is this man applied for a job sweeping up the floors at Jiffy Lube and he just didn't have what it took to get an entry level job so they decided to give him a trial period standing outside their business hawking a 'No Waiting' sign as commuters on their way to work sped by gripping cups of Dunkin Donuts coffee or talking incessantly on their cell phones about things that don't matter.

As I start a new job with a new company, it's moments like these that make me really appreciate just how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to do a responsible job and be of value to a corporation. Sitting in a cube is just so much nicer than standing on the corner holding a sign.

Oct 12, 2005

Fred is Dead

Mom called me at work this past Monday to ask if I remembered who did the song called "Freddie's Dead." Of course I immediately knew what song she was referring to because it was from the SuperFly soundtrack back in the 70's. She and my dad were big fans of the movie back in their day.

I happily told her that I had the CD and she asked if I could bring it up to her because she wanted to have someone at the nursing home listen to this particular song. I shouldn't have asked her why.

Turns out one of the residents has this goldfish named Fred and well...Fred Is Dead.

Mom thought it would be real funny to have this lady listen to the song from the Superfly movie soundtrack. Never mind that this song is about a drug user named Fred and in no way related to a goldfish or this person's grief over the loss of her pet. In the mind of my mother, it's just a funny coincidence that she knows a song called Fred Is Dead and also knows someone
who had a fish named Fred.

I can't find the CD. I've looked through my collection and know it's there somewhere, but I can't lay my hands on it. I hate it when that happens. My Mom has this infuriating skill of remembering things from a long time ago with stunning clarity, but her illness doesn't allow for her to recall if she asked me to bring up a bag of potato chips or a box of Equal on Tuesday
night.

Finding the Superfly soundtrack is just another task added to the list of things that my mother needs or wants, but sometimes it's how she comes up with the need that's pretty funny. Dead goldfish = dead druggie song from the 70's. Go figure.

Oct 8, 2005

Can't Get Enough Of...

I go through these periods where I'll discover something and I become obsessed about it. I have to learn all that there is to know about it. If it's an actor, I've got watch every single movie they've ever been in. Example: my infamous Mel Gibson obsession. If it's an object, I start collecting everything related to that object. Example: Rubber Ducks. If it's a taste, I have to try every version of it. Example: French Onion Soup and Black Licorice.

Television shows are also a classic example. My dad watched The X-Files when it premiered and I had no interest whatsoever. Then about half way into the season I actually gave the show a cursory glance while my dad was watching it and then WHAM--Hello David Duchovny and the proposed sexual tension between Mulder and Scully...and the aliens, of course. Can't forget about the aliens. I became obsessed with all things X-Files. I started out slow by taping each show on Friday night and then started surfing the net hoping for spoilers for the next episode. It ruined the surprises sometimes but who cared? I was on a mission to know before everyone else what was going to happen next. I was so desperate in my obsession for this show that I began reading fan fiction just to get anything related to the X-Files.

But the weird thing is how I handle music obsessions. Most of the times I'll know either the artist or the band in some backward sort of way. I might have heard a few of their songs and thought they were average, but then one song will just POP for me and it sets me off. It happened with Gwen Stefani recently. Sure I enjoyed the success of No Doubt, but when I heard her solo CD I just became a huge fan. Jack Johnson is another example. I heard one song in passing, spoke to a guy that I work with who loved him and then it began.

Sometimes the obsession slowly builds. I started watching LOST mid-season last year soley on the recommendation of a cube-mate at work and really got into the show. I knew that I had seen Matthew Fox somewhere on TV before, but couldn't place it. So I did a search online and found out he was one of the stars of Party of Five. Yup. You guessed it. I had to rent the first season of Party of Five to see Matthew Fox play Charlie.

It's a happy sickness these obsessions.

So what's my lastest obsession? What is it that I can't get enough of right now? OK, I'll tell you.

The White Stripes. Spencer borrowed their latest CD from the library called "Get Behind Me Satan" and so it began. I gave a listen to it once and it sounded ok. I downloaded the CD onto my iPod figuring that I would listen to it when I had more time. Eventually I got around to it and then it happened. I touched upon one of their songs, Little Ghost and I was hooked. I began to listen to the CD over and over and over again. Then I remembered that I had copied their last CD Elephant so I pulled that one out and threw it in the car to really give it a good listen to. Once again, pure excellence.

Why The White Stripes? I love Jack White's voice and I love the fact that all their music is simply and purely vocals, drum and guitar. I listen to their songs and cannot believe they can make such amazing music with so little instruments. Jack White's voice reminds me of early Robert Plant from Led Zepplin and Meg White's attempts to sing are just hilarious. But she belts it out with such gusto and how can you not love someone who doesn't care how she sounds?

I started researching the band a little bit. Their last two CD's were recorded in the span of two weeks. Then there is the whole controversy about how Jack and Meg claim they are brother and sister, but really they're ex husband and wife (married 1996 and divorced in 2000). It's like an in-joke that nobody really cares about. I love it. And recently Jack White got married to some model in the Amazon with Meg White serving as bride's maid. How funny.

Their videos are really cool, too. Brilliant to serve up a video created with Leggo's and they're latest video My Doorbell shows them playing to a whole bunch of children in a vaudeville-type stage.

I just love everything about The White Stripes. They are my latest obsession and I love that they POPPED for me.

Oct 7, 2005

I Did Deserve A Break Today!

My pal Rich and I went to McDonalds this afternoon for lunch. I haven't been to McDonalds in quite awhile so today was really both a fast food treat as well as a pleasant surprise. Did everyone out there realize that McDonalds has gotten a much needed makeover except me? I don't know if I have Super Size Me Morgan Spurlock to thank for this, but I suspect his little documentary had something to do with it.

I ordered a Number 2 (Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Large Fries and Large Coke) for $5.13. Before I was able to zip up my purse my order was ready. Jeez that was fast.

In my opinion, the whole notion of fast food these past few years has really taken a nose dive. Fast Food convenience had turned into the quickest way to be irritated rather than serviced whenever I ordered McDonalds food. What was once a simple cheeseburger and fries turned into a five minute wait during the checkout coupled with long lines of people waiting on the sidelines for their own orders. Not anymore. I simply couldn't believe how fast my food was ready.

As we were standing there, Rich happened to notice they had a makeover of sorts at this location because our usual section off to the left was moved around since the booths were facing out into the ordering area instead of away from it.

After he got his two plain hamburgers and super-sized fries/drink, we really started to get excited because this location now just gives you an empty cup that you get to fill up with the beverage of your choice. AND they had those little ketchup pumps with the pill-size paper cups to put the ketchup in AND more sauce choices than you can shake a stick at: Honey Mustard and BBQ to name just two.

F-A-N-C-Y

We sat down in the newly furnished section and began giggling because we could have sat down at their little rounded bistro table with the bar stools over near the bathrooms. Talk about Puttin' On The Ritz!! Aside from the new paintings on the wall with the trendy splashes of paint and the decorative lighting above us, most people still go to McDonalds for the food.

My Quarter Pounder with Cheese was packaged in a bio-degradable box and honest to god I nearly passed out in shock when I removed the sandwich to hold it up to Rich for his inspection. Remember the old days when you'd compare the size of your cheeseburger to the size of a burger in a McDonalds tv ad? There simply wasn't any comparison. Whatever burger you were eating was consistently a shell of its advertised self. But not anymore. My Quarter Pounder with Cheese was made to perfection. It was picture perfect. Gosh, even the slices of onions sprayed on top of my cheeseburger looked like they were freshly sliced and diced moments before.

There's not much to say about Rich's two plain hamburgers except that he got just what he ordered: two sesame seed buns and two all beef patties - no lettuce, no pickles, no cheese, no mustard, no ketchup and certainly no special sauce, tomatoes and onions. Nothing more and nothing less. But I can't tell you how many times he's gone to order such a simple burger only to get unwanted surprises when he cracked open the bun. And between you and I, my friend Rich is a bit strange when it comes to condiments touching his hamburger. He won't put up with it and puts new meaning to being considered a finicky eater.

Not only was the food tremendous, but I noticed their latest Monopoly promotion with the peel-off pieces was in full effect again. But here's the best thing about it. I actually saw at this location a little section near the straws and napkins where you could get the folded-up game board for your Monopoly pieces. How many times in the past have I gotten these annoying little game pieces only to toss them away when I didn't win a small fry? Talk about attention to detail.

If you've been a really healthy little eater and have dutifully stayed away from McDonalds...might I offer up the suggestion of revisiting a location today? Have the salad with the pine nuts and the low fat dressing if you really want to continue your healthy eating habits.

It's OK. But run to McDonalds because I'll guarantee you'll leave thinking to yourself:

"My God. Look what they've done with the place."



This Is Not A Drill

Yesterday I had a bit of excitement at work. I nearly got blown up.

I was sitting at my computer working on some number-related activities and the fire alarm on our floor went off. The pre-programmed voice alerted us to a potential emergency saying that should our floor be affected (a.k.a. You're All Gonna Die), we would hear a special sound after the announcement. No sound came so I put my headphone back on and continued to groove on.

The fire alarm sounded again. It's a really loud, annoying sound. This time I removed the headphones, unplugged my iPod and retrieved my purse from the desk so that I would be ready for evacuation because surely it would come this time.

Nope.

I also thought that the building couldn't be on fire because my computer was still working. The servers must be located somewhere in this building and if Windows 98 was still cranking then everything was fine. There was no need to panic.

Except the silly alarm just kept blazing. One of the product managers in my area actually called out from his office: "This is really getting annoying because it's screwing up my sports-radio." If you knew the fury around me with the guys and the stupid Red Sox...you'd really appreciate just how funny it was.

About ten minutes go by and I was back working with the headphones on. All of a sudden this man started running down our aisle shouting at everyone to "GET OUT! GET OUT! "

I grabbed my purse and headed for the exit. In the excitement, I was watching him methodically run in and out of each and every office shouting at everyone to exit. It was pretty funny that some people were actually questioning why we had to leave since our floor's special alarm didn't go off.

The poor security guard actually began multi-tasking by both yelling at people to leave and answering the stupid question. Apparently our floor's fire alarm wasn't working so that's why he had the unlucky task of getting everyone out of the building. This man was sweating.

We all safely gathered outside along with the rest of the building that had already been evacuated about 20 minutes prior. Thankfully it was an Indian-Summer day and not raining. There were a few news helicopters circling above, but otherwise nothing was going on. No fire engines or sirens blazing.

Eventually we were let back into the building. About two hours later we received an internal announcement that a construction worker had hit a gas line down the street and that's why we were evacuated.

This isn't really that exciting of an entry, but I did like the opening like about me nearly being blown up.

After all, it could have happened.

Starbucks Maple Latte Review

I met my friend Mark at Starbucks in Southborough this morning for some coffee talk before work. (We really were meeting so he could get the last episode of LOST I taped for him from my DVD because he fell asleep Wednesday night at 11:30 when it was on later because
of the hated Red Sox baseball game.) He was given specific instructions to order me a Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte with whipped cream.

Upon arriving five minutes late, there he was standing in line unshaven in
an old Hanes t-shirt about five people deep waiting to place our order. He
greeted me and asked if I had tried their new Maple Latte because his son
Zach thought I should try it. Mmmmm....Maple Latte. Sure-sign me up for a
drink of that.

The young kid running the front end was simply amazing. He was ON! He was
in total command of the ordering area. He seemed to know every single
person by name and was confidently calling out orders while madly scribbling
on coffee cups and continuing to take orders from the next person in the
queue. In fact, he was so loud and happy doing his thang that when Mark was
trying to tell me something, it was all I could do to pay attention to him
because the snappy young man kept rolling over our conversation with
background shout-outs and hellos to approaching customers in line. This kid
had his flair on in a big way.

We eventually got our drinks and took a table to enjoy our drinks. The only
highlight aside from the good conversation between two friends was Mark's
observation of a man wearing black cowboy boots: "Oooh, cowboy boots in
New England." They were nice boots, but the man was wearing a burgundy
sweater while my companion was wearing flip-flops and shorts. Only in New
England.

Here is my succinct review of their new Maple Latte: It tasted like a
blended pancake.

It wasn't terrible, but I should have went with my original choice of
Pumpkin Spice. The Maple Latte left an after-taste in my mouth, sort of
like what you would imagine burnt maple syrup might taste like if you left
it on the burner too long.

I think I'll hold out for their infamous Eggnog Latte. Mmmmm...Eggnog
latte. Let It Snow and all that happy crap. Bring on the deliciousness.


Sep 24, 2005

Yet Another Dunkin Donuts Story

I love Dunkin Donuts coffee. Chris Rock refers to Krispy Kreme as having the appeal of crack cocaine to donut lovers across America. I simply love their inventive nature because they are always coming up with some new concoction of deliciousness for me to try out and thus get hooked. The latest is their Turtle Nut Latte. It's one of their Limited Time Only drinks and alas, it's time has come and apparently....gone.

I stopped by the old Caldor Plaza DD hoping to buy Mom and I a Turtle Nut Latte this past Friday night. As I was walking in the door, this old dude who looked more like a resident drunk than self-proclaimed war veteran held the door open for me. He was tall with a lanky frame wearing a string of plastic Mardi Gras beads and a baseball cap with many, many military pins all over the front of it. His beard was greasy looking and he had a gold front tooth. I thanked him for holding the door open for me because drunk or not, you just don't get that kind of chivalry anymore.

I turned around to tell him that he should go before me because I was going to be buying two specialty drinks and it may take a while. (Can you tell I'm an old Dunkin Donuts pro?)

"Oh, don't you worry about me little girl. I've been in the army for 33 years and I've got all the time in the world 'cause now I work for the government."

"OK, are you sure?" I asked still wanting to repay him for his gentlemanly kindness with the whole holding-the-door business.

"No problem. I work for the Department of Defense. Like I said, I can wait."

I approach the counter and confidently request two Turtle Nut Lattes with whipped cream.

"What's that?" asks the white girl with the pony tail and braces. I sigh heavily. "Forget it. If you have to ask then you don't have it anymore. Just give me two small lattes with a shot of caramel and some whip creme."

So as I was standing there, the old military dude decides to just walk in the back room. He goes behind the counter and enters their bakery area. I hear everyone calling out pleasantly to him and think to myself that this guy must be one of those old regulars. Somehow he's one of those fortunate individuals who has seen their backroom and knows their well-kept secrets of donut making.

He comes out about two minutes later and starts calling out to this young Puerto Rican kid who appears to be the night manager who is overseeing the drive-thru window. "¿Hey, como esta?" he happily calls out to the old man. They start chatting back and forth and I stand amazed to see that this kid really likes this old guy. The man proudly shows the kid his Mard Gras beads and tells him that he's hip 'cause he's wearing his BLING BLING.

If I had coffee in my mouth, it would have been one of those picture perfect moments to do the 'ole spit-the-coffee-out-of-my-mouth routines because it was just that funny. "What kinda music are ya listening to tonight?" The kid hands him a few cds and I hear him say knowingly, "Oh, yea, Fidel Castro's got some good music. I used to know him."

Now I'm doing an incredulous double-take as I'm over-hearing this crazy person claim to know the Fidel Castro. He must have seen me flinch or make some sort of body language move that indicated I didn't believe him. So he walks a short distance over to me and hands me the kids three cd's.

But he got it wrong. The CD in question wasn't Fidel Castro but rather Fidel Cash Flow...


Well, I just started to laugh out loud. In fact, I made a spectacle of myself standing there waiting for my two small cups of heaven because it's these little experiences that make life worth living. They really do. I love the random craziness of these Dunkin Donut encounters. And trust me, I've had some really good ones.

I have had so many poor customer experiences at Dunkin Donuts, but yet I still return just like a crack addict. I really should compile them and write a book about the people that patronize Dunkin Donuts regularly. Where else can you find moments of old war veterans trying to appear cool wearing plastic purple Mardi Gras beads and getting down with a rapper named Fidel Cash Flow?

Considering that I work for Staples, it's only appropriate that I recommend a new book that appears to be a parody of my life's work. I found out about it while browsing the local culture Arts & Entertainment section of Worcester Magazine because the author is appearing at Tatnuck Booksellers in their Worcester location on Wednesday, October 19th at 7pm. Mark your calendars.

I think it's a book that is a parody of our catalog. If so, I cannot wait to get this. What a brilliant idea. Why didn't I think of it? I mean, I do work for their Contract division and I directly support inventory for all of their catalogs.

The book hits stores on October 1st so if you know someone who loves office supplies or in my case-earns her living professionally managing the inventory levels of Staplers, Staplers and canner air for Staples-check out this book.

I have already marked my little date book so you all know where I'm going to be on October 19th. Imagine their surprise when I show up at their table looking for my own personal autographed copy. Maybe I'll bring Adam Najberg his very own Easy Button.



Sep 3, 2005

Soulful Stare


81405 421, originally uploaded by ransomz.

This pic perfectly represents why I love Beagles so much. I love how expressive a Beagle's face can be and I can never be in a bad mood being around a Beagle.

Aug 29, 2005

The Root of Evil - Part One

There's nothing like a dental emergency to really make you appreciate a skilled dentist. In particular, my dentist Dr. John Scanlon of Boylston Dental gives new meaning to the term artisan.

I am partial to Dr. Scanlon as I've been a patient for a few years and remained one in good standing because I just kept coming back for regularly scheduled cleanings. Mind you, I wasn't a flosser--but more on that later.

I stopped in for a quick look-see under the hood while on vacation last week because my post/crown was feeling a little loose again and wanted him to verify that it wasn't just my imagination. Having a tooth (even a fake tooth) slip out of your jaw while eating is an awful sensation. It is not one that you ever want to replicate if you can help it. In fact, this past May found Dr. Scanlon re-applying cement onto my post hoping that this time it would stick in my head just a little longer than last time.

You can see where this tale is going, can't you? The "talk" was inevitable and I was left with the decision to either have a dental implant or a permanent bridge to help keep my teeth in my head. Both options are fabulously expensive. As my Delta Dental insurance will cover $1000.00 for the bridge and nothing for the implant - the decision was an easy one. Living with my decision was harder because it meant a postponement for my trip to
Las Vegas to visit M & M World in November. (Yes, candy is no longer my best friend. I get it.)


Because the problematic tooth still had the root in my jaw (post root-canal), I had to have oral surgery to remove the root. After a month of healing, I would then be fitted for a permanent bridge which would give me super strength and more importantly--durability. I woud be able to chomp a steak or crack a walnut all in one hearty bite without every worrying that my fake tooth would fall out. So Dr. Scanlon sent me off to an oral surgeon last Tuesday for the dreaded extraction with the promise that I wouldn't feel a thing because I could have anesthesia.

My sister-in-law agreed to be my designated driver and brought me to the oral surgeon's office promptly for 8:30am. From the moment I passed through reception, I knew that I wasn't in Kansas anymore.

Let me tell you about that first room. It completely resembled what I would imagine an alien spaceship would look like if they were to perform cavity checks and probing. The walls were stained a depressing murky mauve and positioned right next to my chair was a two-level stainless steel cart chocked full of very scary looking dental instruments.

After checking in and being processed to the first room, I was prepped for surgery which involved a temperature and blood pressure check. The nurse was impressed with my excellent blood pressure considering I was about to go into surgery. I was thinking to myself, "What do I have to stress out about? I'm being put to sleep.” However, the Cadillac treatment of snoozy fumes wasn't for me due to a snag with a potential pre-existing medical condition so I was shot full of Novocain instead. Grrreat....

I was then moved to the operating room where I got to meet the oral surgeon for the first time. ( I actually had already gotten a sneak peak of his ugly mug because hanging in the room was this 8x10 mocked-up photograph of him featured on the front cover of one of those fake Golfer magazines that anyone can have made up at Six Flags. I took an instant dislike to him for having the vanity to actually hang that in his operating room thinking somehow that it was clever next to his diploma from some unknown New York dental university alongside his induction into the National Dental Honor Society.)

After the drama of determining he could not actually put me to sleep, I decided to just go for it having the affected area of my jaw shot full of gobs of Novocain. I silently dared the assistant to re-check my blood pressure. C'mon. Go for it. I bet it's off the charts now!! The Hack told me this extraction would be just like having a cavity filled--NO BIG DEAL. Word of Adviced: Never trust anyone comparing a root extraction to having a cavity filled. If they tell you that then they are lying through their teeth (pun intended).

The Hack hooked his meaty gloved index finger into my mouth like a vet would a dog to examine my temporary bridge. He wasn't too happy that it was still on and made a fuss about having to remove it. He began tugging and yanking down on the bridge to get it to pop off, but after much groaning and bugged-out eyes he decided it was at this point that maybe he should start thinking about applying Novacain.

Small talk ensued as he was applying the needles. "So what do you do for a living?" I joked back, "Well, I'm an inventory analyst at Staples Corporate. We're in the middle of Back to School so right now I'm making sure that all the children across America have plenty of staplers and staples for school." ha ha ha ~ he didn't even laugh nor did he crack a smile. After my gums were numbed up, he returned to the room to begin the extraction. During the procedure, he actually said to me, "Kim, we'll get you all set and you'll be able to get back to your classes tomorrow."

HUH?

Then it hit me. He wasn't even paying attention to a thing I said. He just heard 'Back to School' and assumed I was a student. Unbelievable. I hate it when people don't pay attention to their own small talk.

The sensation of having The Hack remove my tooth's root is indescribable, but I will try to tell you nonetheless. First, it was awful. During the times when he had to use his hammer and chisel tools, I just wanted to leap up from the chair. My face felt like a boulder that was being honed into the sculpture of a dead president. Tap, Tap, Crunch!! It didn't necessarily hurt, but the sensation of feeling a creaking in your head as the root is yanked away from the jaw bone is torture at its best. I should have been in snoozy land. It didn't matter that I wasn't feeling any immediate pain. In retrospect, pain would have been preferable because at least I could match the inner sensation of creaking in my jaw bone to an actual result.

When it was all over, the hack stitched up my gums with dissolvable sutures and proceeded to try to put the temporary bridge back on over his handy-dandy work. He warned me that the cement he was using was 'archaic' and that I might have to go back to my dentist if the bridge came undone. He re-attached it and gave me thick wads of gauze to bite down hard on to let the cement harden. As I did so, I heard this cracking sound. Being an expert on cracking sounds, I alerted him that I thought my bridge had broken. Annoyed, he fish-hooked his thumb back under my tender partially swollen cheek and proceeded to tell me it was nothing-merely the cement settling around my teeth. He didn't even shine his light on me.

I was given a prescription for Vicodin and instructions to use a cold pack on my cheek every 30 minutes to help with the swelling. He once again commented about how I'd be back to class in no time and hastily left the operating room calling out that if I had any questions not to hesitate to call Dr. Scanlon. Nice. Don't call me; call your dentist because after all I only tore open your mouth.

I returned home filled with 4-hour intervals of Vicodin and severe soreness. Later in the day, I tentatively ran my tongue up and around his dirty work only to discover that all the stitches were sticking out all over my gum line. I found a little flashlight and opened my mouth as wide as I could stand it to see just how bad it all looked up there.

I thought it looked pretty good all things considered. But what did I know? Regretfully, there was still more fun to come.

Aug 27, 2005

Easy Rider

Mom was complaining to me last night about this new 80-year old woman who is a new resident at the nursing home. Apparently she likes to plaster on the makeup and has this annoying habit of applying mascara during mealtime. Not being able to take it anymore, my mom issued her an ultimatum: Either you take that bag off the table and put it on the floor where I don't have to see it or I'm gonna throw it across the room! None of those old ladies can mess with my mom and the lady took her bag off the table.

Mom went on to tell me how this new resident has a son who doesn't work and looks like a big dummy (her words, not mine!). He was in the other day wearing a Harley-Davidson t-shirt which caught my mom's eye because she used to be a bona-fide Harley Mamma. Overhearing that he was telling his mom that he just bought a really nice bike, my mother poked her nose in where it doesn't belong and asked, "What kind of bike is it?" "Oh, it's really lightweight." She asked, "Is it a low-rider or a full-dressed?" He looked at her and said, "Well, it's kinda tubular."


Turns out Junior spent $80 on a Huffy...not a Harley.

This revelation turned into a little rant from my mother about what a loser this son is and how he shouldn't be wearing Harley Davidson t-shirts unless he actually owns a motorcycle. I try to reason with her that he can wear whatever he wants to wear, but that only made her angrier.

"Did you know he brought up his mother a lousy bag of Cheetos the other day? She doesn't need Cheetos--what she needs is underwear! Big deal. A bag of Cheetos. What's that cost him? 89 cents? The woman needs clothes."

But somehow this new resident who is light in the clothes department manages to be heavy in the bright red lipstick department of which my mother doesn't approve and wears too much eyeshadow. "She doesn't need to wear all that crap!" says my mother indignantly. And I wonder to myself how many times I've bitten my tongue over the freak-show makeup combinations my Mother manages once the Avon lady delivers her monthly order. Or all the rings she wears on her fingers that make her look like a fortune teller.

But in all seriousness, I really wish I could have been there to see the look on my mom's face when the old lady's son told my mom proudly about his ten-speed. That would have been priceless. Or at the very least...worth 89 cents.

Aug 14, 2005

Surry Mountain Dam

This is a picture of the dam that I was caught speeding on this past Saturday. It doesn't look very high, but believe me when I say that my heart was racing and I couldn't wait to get off it!



Brothers In Farms

This past Saturday found the Perry clan squeezed into the family Saturn on our way to a Perry Family Reunion taking place at Surry Mountain Lake in New Hampshire.

My husband's side of the family all originated from Hardwick, Vermont. Spencer's grandfather moved from Spain to Vermont to become a farmer and raised a very, very large family of 6 sons and 1 daughter. (I may be slightly off on the headcount so you'll have to permit me so slack...let's just say there are alot.)

All of the children have passed on except for my father-in-law George and his remaining brother Francis. He still lives in Hardwick and being in his late 70's hasn't stopped him from cleaning the local bank and digging graves. The Perry boys are hardworking.

So when my father-in-law asked if we'd be interested in going up for a family reunion, I didn't hesitate to say yes. Being that both brothers are older now and distance keeps them apart, you never know when it will be their last chance to see each other.

We drove about an hour and a half up to Surry Mountain Lake. Our directions told us to take a right onto Surry Dam Road and immediately I found myself driving us all over this HUGE dam. As I guided the Saturn across this high altitude, all I could think about was that I'd give anything to be off this dam. It was too high and felt way too unprotected. There were roped guard-rails on each side of the dam which only gave me more of an incentive to push the pedal harder to get across faster. I hate bridges.

Apparently too fast. As we hit an unexpected dead-end at the end of the dam, a park ranger was happy to inform my father-in-law that we needed to slow down as the speed limit was 20mph. He then went on tell of seeing a bear chasing two deer just moments ago. My father-in-law apologized and got directions to the park and we turned the car around to head back over the dam. I drove slower this time, but my inside voice was swearing up a storm. Where were the signs posting the speed limit? Would someone really be walking across the damn and be all startled to see a white Saturn blazing across at speeds approaching 30 mph? Stupid park ranger in his stupid hat.

We arrived at the park and the reunion was in full swing. There were Perry's everywhere and we hardly recognized anyone. We had been asked to bring drinks and chairs, but really there wasn't any need. Francis' son Bruce and his daughter were true party planners in every sense of the word. There was plenty to eat and many places to sit. We looked over an old reunion photo album from 1964 when my mother-in-law wore a fashionable kerchief on her head and tossed her head back in a laugh that reminded me of Jackie O. I saw pictures of Spencer when he was a mere five years old wearing little boy overalls and looking uncomfortable being around all the grown-ups. Not much has changed.

Spencer, Katie and I kept mostly to ourselves throughout the day because this reunion was really more about two brothers getting together to see each other for maybe the last time. George is practical about everything and he knows that everytime he sees his brother Francis it could very well be the last time.

We all got together for a big family photo and then the first cousins (Spencer and Katie only this time) got a picture together. It was funny watching Spencer and Katie stand there because they really weren't part of the Perry family-more just along for the ride.

But at the end of the day when we were getting tired of being sociable and getting ready to leave, I happened to catch sight of a touching moment that made the trip worthwhile. I saw George over talking to Francis and they must have been saying their good-byes. George extended his hand and gave his brother a firm handshake which conveyed all the love and respect that two brothers could share on a hot sunny day amongst a brood of Perry's. No hugs or pats on the back were necessary. Just a handshake wishing each other well and a hope to see each other again.

I hope that my father-in-law gets to have many more handshakes in the future.

Aug 3, 2005

Miami Revisited

As we approach the three quarter mark of Summer being nearly over (THANK GOD!), I wanted to let you all know that the local DPW has begun encroaching upon my property laying above-ground pipes to create a new and improved water main.

I don't quite know how this will improve my daily life on Miami Street, but I do know that each and every day going forward brings me uncertainty. Will I be able to get out of my driveway to leave for work in the morning? Will I come home to discarded Dunkin Donuts coffee cups strewn all over my lawn? Will I be able to shower when they connect my house up to the temporary water pipes? It's all so very exciting.

Their photo-copied notice does say this whole 'project' will take about four weeks to finish. So today I begin the count-down. Be it known that it's August 3rd and right now there is a bump at the end of my driveway. I will continue to document if I'm inconvenienced by my City as the days and weeks go by. I know it might not be very exciting to you, but this is the most excitement my street has seen since the O'Brien Amber Alert last year.

Stay tuned...

Jul 29, 2005

Employee Discounts Part 2

No sooner did I bitch and complain about big car companies sharing their employee discounts with the whole freakin' world...now MY own company has done the same. No more secrets from you going forward. Staples is offering for a limited time only my 12% discount.

So I checked my Outlook address book and did my duty by sharing the news with all of my friends and family. What the hell? It's not like I'm going to be using it by this Saturday.

I've really got to wonder why all these big companies are spreading the employee discounts so thick like crunchy peanut butter on Wonder bread? Maybe sales are down and they need this influx of sales from dedicated employees who might have disposable income to spare?

I think I've done my part to help out the sales of Apple and Buy.com. I just bought a 60GB Photo iPod at a phat price and I didn't need to know anybody to get a good deal. I simply googled a Buy.com coupon and a few websites offering MP3 player reviews and voila! Instant gratification. I got free shipping and $20 off my purchase. Really the only thing I had to pay for was the Massachusetts 5% sales tax.

Damn you, Mitt Romney.

Jul 20, 2005

Smokey and the Bandit

My interest in wanting to see Smokey and the Bandit again all started from a family ride back from The Cheesecake Factory last Saturday. My father-in-law George was riding shotgun and popped in a cassette tape he had lying around in the console of the car to add some music to our ride home down Route 9. Suddenly a very familiar song started playing and we all started talking about how that song defined the movie Smokey and the Bandit. I said, "Oh, I should rent that movie from Netlfix. I LOVED that movie when it came out."

Here are a few bars of the classic Jerry Reed song Eastbound and Down just to set the mood so hold on tight because this is going to be a long Blog.

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin',
We're gonna do what they say can't be done.
We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there.
I'm east bound, just watch ol' "Bandit" run.
Keep your foot hard on the pedal. Son, never mind them brakes.
Let it all hang out 'cause we got a run to make.
The boys are thirsty in Atlanta and there's beer in Texarcana.
And we'll bring it back no matter what it takes.


Probably the reason why I’m so passionate about this movie after watching it a second time nearly 28 years later is because my dad made his living by driving a 18-wheeler. He was a long-haul trucker and proud of it. He hauled Puma sneakers, delivered frozen fish up and down the East Coast to a popular Fish & Chips fast-food chain called Arthur Treachers and delivered Moosehead Beer.

In fact, he was even what some might consider a scab during a big trucker’s union strike in the early 80’s because no one wanted to take any chances driving on the interstate. It wasn’t uncommon to hear stories about drivers getting shot at from highway overpasses and I can remember being so worried that my dad was going to get hurt doing his job.

But really I just always thought he did a cool job. He was never one of those dads who dressed up in a suit and tie every day to go to work. He got to wear blue jeans with rolled up packs of cigarettes in his T-shirt and eat cheeseburgers at Truck Stops (a.k.a. Choke ‘N Puke) and had a CB Radio with a handle. In case you’re interested, his CB handle was Hi-Ho Silva and mine was Little Beaver. I’m not kidding.

Here’s a bit of background on the movie before I get into the details of the plot. It was filmed in 36 days and cost $4.5 million to make. Smokey and the Bandit was released in 1977 and was the 2nd highest domestic grossing movie of the year earning over $200 million in US and Canada alone. (In case your curious, the #1 movie was a little film called Star Wars).

The plot is pretty simple: Bo ‘Bandit’ Darville (Burt Reynolds) takes on a bet from Big Eanus Burdette (Pat McCormick) and his son Little Eanus (Paul Williams) that he can drive from Georgia to Texas and back in 28 hours with a tractor trailer full of Coors beer (400 cases to be exact) within 28 hours.Bandit gets a whole bunch of cash from Big Eanus to buy a gorgeous Trans-Am so he can use this fast car as a blocker on the highway, but has to convince his best friend Cledus Snow (a.k.a. Snowman) to drive the truck. It doesn’t take much convincing and with his Basset Hound Fred in tow, they’re off with the clock running.

Along the way, the Bandit picks up a stranded bride named Carrie (Sally Field). It seems Carrie just left her husband-to-be at the altar and who just happens to be the son of Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) who quickly becomes in hot pursuit of the Bandit.

Carrie and Bo...hmmm....sounds like our finalists in our American Idol competition. Weird.

Everyone loves the Bandit and I have to say that Burt Reynolds must have been having the time of his life playing him. Smokey and the Bandit is the movie you have to watch to understand why women found him so sexy and why everyone loved this movie back in the 70’s. He spent most of the movie just driving the Trans-Am making jumps over ponds and crashing up cars, but it was his playful banter with Carrie and his cat-and-mouse chase with the sheriff that just makes this movie work.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on this movie. I discovered that Jackie Gleason received hardly any money to be in the movie, but wanted to do it only if he could play the character of the sheriff in his own unique way. He created his signature phrase, "SumBitch" especially for the movie and ad-libbed his entire part from beginning to end. I seriously doubt the movie would have been so popular had it not been for him playing the cantankerous sheriff.

There are some really, really funny lines in this movie that made me laugh out loud. Considering that I saw this back in 1977 when I was seven years old, most of the catchy dialogue must have went right over my head. Such as when a fellow trucker called The Silver Tongued Devil says to Bandit, "Keep your wheels spinning and your beavers grinning" or after Bandit has just used a broken bridge to jump a river. Carrie says, "That was great! I want to jump something else! I want to jump a car, or a house, anything!" to which Bandit replies (still shaking) "Then jump me!" Classic!! [Click here to read more classic quotes]

Since the film did so well, the producers went on to make the sequel in 1980 and then the last of the trilogy Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 in 1983. I’m definitely going to rent them so I can see if these sequels ended up standing the test of time as much as the original.

If my experience watching Smokey and the Bandit means anything, you should think about one of your favorite movies back when you were a little kid and watch it again. Nostalgia can prove interesting because it reminds you of where you’ve come from. Back in the day, people smoked all the time in movies, calls were made on payphones not cell phones and romance was a deep, meaningful kiss between the stars rather than the soft porn it’s turned into today.
Goonies, anyone?

Jul 19, 2005

Two Fat Chicks

It's official. I'm fat. There--I freaking said it and there's no turning back now because everyone is going to read this and know.

How do I know I'm fat aside from the obvious tonnage and the near death experience living day-to-day in this mortifying heat? I know I'm fat because a smart-ass teen referred to me and my mom tonight as "...those two fat chicks" as they were walking ahead of us in the parking lot of Kohl's at The Shoppes at BlackStone Valley.

It happened like this. These 3 teenage boys were walking along side of us, but they were kind of hugging the edge of the curb. One of the kids said really loud, "This place is soooo dead tonight. I bet I could walk right down the middle here and not get hit by a car." So as they were passing us, my mom obviously couldn't help over hearing his boastfulness and we all know my mom can never say anything quietly: "Yea, go ahead you big dummy. I'd like to see you get hit."

I kind of snorted because I hate it when kids talk really loudly and then get all bent out of shape if you actually acknowledge their existence and what my mom said was kind of funny. Well, I had it coming because no sooner were they a little bit ahead of us that one of the kids must have told the other kid that were were laughing at them. "Who...those two fat chicks?"

THOSE-TWO-FAT-CHICKS. I let the words sink into me as I was walking with my mom back to our car. Thank God she didn't hear him say that!

Those two fat chicks. Those two fat chicks. Face it. I'm a fat chick.

It's really, really, really hard hearing the truth and it's even harder hearing it from some jerk like that kid in the parking lot. He shouldn't even register on my radar. He doesn't know me. He doesn't know how good of a person I am. He doesn't know that I'm a super great inventory analyst at the number one office supply retailer in the country and I keep his smart little ass in stock of Swingline staplers and jumbo paperclips. He doesn't know the first thing about me except that he knows a fat chick when he sees one.

So what do fat chicks like me do when they're forced to face the facts? Do I hang my head in embarrassment over what I've let myself become or do I do something about it? Well, I think that decision is best left for another day.

Once I got my mom settled into the car, we turned on the radio and treated ourselves to a little Billy Joel song on the oldies station and cracked open a bag of Jelly Belly licorice jelly beans that we had just bought at Target. Afterall, I may be a fat chick--but I'm not a stupid fat chick.

Jul 18, 2005

Employee Discounts

You'd think working for one of the Top 3 Office Supply Retailers would afford me a hefty discount on office supplies...but it doesn't. It's one of the biggest misconceptions going about the perks for working at this major retailer. I seriously think one of my biggest perks is actually our Moobella ice cream machine we have in our All-In-One sundry shop where I can choose a flavor of ice cream and even a mix-in ingrediant all from the press of a few buttons and WHAMO-a beautiful dollup of pre-mixed ice cream in a cup for less than $2.50.

Sweet, creamy fat-filled ice cream aside, I only get a 12% discount a few times a year and there's usually all these conditions that must be met to even get the discount. We don't have a published schedule so anyone could actually plan in advance to hold off making a big purchase like a laptop until employee discount day. We typically find out a few days in advance letting us know that discount days are coming and I get a bad taste in my mouth when the announcement is made during a particular time when sales are slow in the company or there's a big seasonal event like Christmas. Who wouldn't want a discount on office supplies during Santa time?

So it's with great amusement that I've been noticing all these car companies offering the general public (i.e. anyone living in America) their employee discount on car purchases. I think Ford started it, but I could be wrong. What a way to sink employee morale at Ford. Imagine it's bad enough working on a production line day in and day out inspecting the quality of an anti-lock braking system, but at least you get 20% off of a brand new car. Now someone like me can get the same exact price as you on a new car. Where's the motivation now to work at Ford? What other perks could they possibly get that makes it worth while to show up every day to work and give 110%?

I know that I would be pretty ticked off if all of a sudden everybody could get my measley 12% discount on Post-It notes and pencils. I certainly wouldn't feel special even if it's for only certain times of the year. In fact, I would feel extra resentful towards my employer.

And my employer is really stingy with the office supplies at the corporate office. My mouse at my desk is terrible and just this weekend I forked over $9.95 of my own hard earned cash to Wal-Mart to buy a new optical mouse because I knew there was no chance in hell that I would ever get to replace my tired old mouse with a new one if I relied on the actual company that I worked for. Certainly I might have waited around for my 12% discount days to buy another mouse, but I needed it NOW!

All I'm saying is this revolutionary idea about offering the same price for a car as a Ford Motor Company employee would get is a dangerous precedent to set and it would make me think twice about buying a car from Ford. Somehow I just wouldn't feel too safe anymore knowing that a certain sparkle has dimmed in the eye of the worker checking my anti-lock braking system.

Jul 8, 2005

The Hunt is Over!

I finally own Darth Tater!

The Star Wars toy that I have been endlessly searching the toy aisles for endlessly over the past three months is finally in my possession courtesy of Target at Lincoln Plaza in Worcester. I knew eventually I'd come across it in some markdown bin about 2 years after all the hoopla over Revenge of the Sith died down, but I just never imagined I'd find it so soon.

Jul 6, 2005

To Catch A Thief

Mom was extremely upset last night because someone stole the fancy antique clock in the coffee shop of her nursing home at some point over the holiday weekend. "I mean, who would steal a clock?" she asked me in disgust.

This isn't the first time something precious has been stolen either. A few weeks back, the thief walked off with a very nice portable stereo with detachable speakers that was perched high up on a shelf in the very same coffee shop. So now the old folks are left without two basic neccessities: a clock to watch time slip by and a radio to play their polka music.

Because of these recent thefts, my mom has worked herself into a tizzy and now eyes every nursing home worker and outside visitor with suspicion. The nurses's aide letting us back into the locked building last night is a suspect, the custodian with the shifty eyes could be the one and it's never occurred to my mother that maybe it's actually a resident that took these things.

Alicia, the administrator, came back from her 3-month maternity leave yesterday and was forced to deal on her first day back with many residents loudly voicing their concerns that they've been infiltrated by a no-good crook!

I tried to tell mom last night that there's nothing to be worried about, but she reminded me about the break-in about a month ago. "Well, that was just kids looking for Oxycontin from the medication carts." "Oh, Yea?" she asked, "What if they break in again and take one of us hostage?" (Now that would be pretty funny, wouldn't it?) I asked her, "How much do you think they would get for you?" She thought for a second and replied, "Huh..not much."

It's pretty pathetic that anyone would steal from a nursing home when these facilities have so little to begin with. But theft of personal property is a major concern It's been my first hand experience that residents have things stolen from them all the time-bottles of perfume, cans of soda left on nightstands, money in change purses left hidden under pillows next to dentures.

My mother has actualy woken up in the middle of the night startled by a strange noise only to discover a CNA worker rifling through the top drawer of her nightstand. When my mom demanded to know what she was doing, the aide actually had the nerve to say my mother's top draw had come off it's track and she was simply putting it back in place--at 3am in the morning. Now what do you think she was really doing?

My mother has even had inconsequential things taken from her such as pages from her Horse page-a-day calendar and recently a favorite tie-dyed shirt. Upon discovering another resident wearing her t-shirt, she marched right up to the woman and demanded to know why she was wearing her shirt. "You know damned well that's not your shirt. That's my shirt. Who the hell wears a tie-dyed shirt in this place except me!" The woman replied, "I didn't have any clothes so the aide gave it to me." Really? So now my mother's closet is a back-up option to other residents if their clothing hasn't come back from laundry?

To combat theft, I bought my mom two inexpensive filing cabinets with locks. She keeps her most valuable possessions inside these four drawers. I do realize that if anyone really wanted to steal something they could just jimmy open the lock and take anything they wanted. These filing cabinets are meant to secure documents rather than personal treasures. But it's at least a small deterrent to anyone looking to score off of my mother.

The realization that I can no longer give my mom gifts such as a nice figurine or a beautiful picture frame can be very depressing at times. And if I buy her expensive clothing, I understand there is always the chance that the laundry department could lose or ruin the clothing. When you live in a nursing home, every purchase has to be weighed heavily because you just don't know how long you'll get to enjoy it.

Keeping track of your own stuff is hard enough. But it seems now residents have the added worry of wondering when the next big thing will be stolen out of common areas such as their coffee shop and dining hall. Unfortunately for the residents in my mom's nursing home-they've got one more thing to worry about. When will the thief strike next?

Aside from the potential hostage crisis, that is.

Jul 5, 2005

I Scream for Black Licorice Ice Cream!

Licorice. Either you love it or hate it. Fortunately, I LOVE it with a passion. I am a black licorice connoisseur. I am always on the hunt for the latest new product featuring black licorice such as licorice Altoids or the back-from-the-dead Switzer brand. I had heard a rumor from someone that I work with that Cold Stone Creamery had black licorice ice cream, but when I visited their store on Route 9 in Southboro--they didn't even know what I was talking about. In fact, the girl kind of looked at me funny like I might have suggested mixing cinnamon Listerine in their vanilla ice cream.

But this past Saturday the rumor was proved magnificiently true. I got the chance to try a scoop of black licorice ice cream (one of five new summer flavors in honor of National Ice Cream month) at Cold Stone Creamery. It was delicious and here's why:

I was expecting vanilla ice cream with bits of black licorice mixed into it because that's kinda what this ice cream place is known for--mixing in candy to their expensive creamy ice cream to make all sorts of crazy combinations. But their black licorice ice cream is completely smooth with no mix-ins whatsoever. Just a dizzingly fragrant scoop of grey-colored ice cream (or the color of wet cement-whichever is easier to imagine) that melts on your tongue and engulfs your senses in the joy of all things black licorice. I can't even describe the flavor or do it justice. It's just really, really good. I've never tasted anything like it.

Their menu also offers a combination mix with the black licorce ice cream called Black Tie Affair: Black licorice ice cream with Raspberries, Cherry Pie filling and Whipped Topping. I didn't even bother to give it a second glance. I would think all those other sweet tastes would crowd out the bouquet of this unique and special flavor.

But I can't lie to you and act like I'm not intrigued about the potential mix-ins. Personally, I would go old-school Choo Choo Charlie and mix in fresh chewy Good & Plenty. Or imagine what a milk shake would taste like using black licorice ice cream? I could try making that at home since I ended up buying a pint of it, but I doubt it's going to survive in my freezer long enough to be part of any personal experiments.

Doesn't matter. Something this good isn't going to last forever and I know black licorice ice cream is probably just about as appealing to customers as their other new flavor-Wasabi Ginger-so as long as I can enjoy it for the rest of July I'll be okay. It's the simple pleasures in life that are the most appealing to me--even if it leaves my breath stinky and my tongue black.

It was worth it!

Jul 4, 2005


Happy Fourth of July from Minnie!
Photo by Spencer J. Perry

Jun 29, 2005

Nosey No More

I was visiting my mom last night at the nursing home and as usual, I was hustling her out the door so we could make our weekly trip to CVS before they closed for the night. I decided to pass on stopping in across the hall to say hello to her friend Helen because we were kind of in a hurry. Thinking I could just stop in to see her another time, my mom says, "Well, I just thought you'd like to say hello seeing that she's only got half a nose now." I stopped walking, stunned by what she just said. And then my mom laughed saying, "Well, at least she won't be so nosey anymore!"

Recently I found out Helen-in the neighborhood of about eighty-five years old-had a relapse of skin cancer. My mom explained that Helen didn't want to have the surgery, but her sons kept pushing her to do it. I hear stories like this all the time from the residents at my mom's nursing home. Something really serious happens to them such getting Cancer or having a heart condition and they want nature to take its course and leave them out of it. It's almost as if they're telling Death, "Go ahead. Surprise me."

I did end up visiting with Helen when we returned. She was propped up in her chair watching Law&Order and enjoying the cool breeze outside. Her left eye was bruised and shut from the surgery and her nose was completely concealed in white bandages with crusty bits of blood from a pretty vicious nosebleed earlier in the day. She looked horrible. I said, "Helen, you look like you've been in one hell of a fight." She replied, "Yea, but you should see the other guy." I laughed knowing that it was a good sign she could make a joke being in so much pain.

But Helen was in pretty good spirits and I think her pain meds had kicked in full force by the time I talked with her. She said she was feeling much better, but was having trouble blowing her nose because it kept bleeding. (My mom whispered loudly in my ear, "I bet she doesn't even know she's got half a nose!") I glanced sharply back at my mom to let her know she should shush about the lack of nose.

Helen went on to tell me how she only had the surgery for the sake of her sons and that she didn't want to be bothered. "Let me die and then they can have my money." I brushed off her comment and tried to change the subject. The rest of our visit went okay, but I could really tell that she had no idea just how rough of shape she was in with her nose.

Helen told me they still had one little spot of cancer that they couldn't get to because it was too close to her eye. "Hey. If I go blind then I go blind. I don't care."

I can't help but feel badly for Helen. I wish her sons would have respected her wishes and not pressured her into the surgery for their sake. I told my own mother that I would never do something like that. I may not agree with her decision, but after all--it's her body and her choice to make. As her daughter and legal guardian, it's my duty to make sure she understands the consequences of her decisions.

Helen is the one suffering with post-surgical pain and bloody nosebleeds--not her sons. How do you think she's going to feel when she finds out that surgery took away half of her nose? She's going to be constantly reminded of what she lost everytime a new resident enters the home and meets her for the first time. They will ask, "What the hell happened to your nose?" And I continue to wonder what her sons were thinking knowing the doctor wouldn't be successful at removing 100% of the cancer.

On the surface it's easy to guilt a loved-one into doing something you want if you say the right words. But my advice is before you do that, take a moment to put yourself in their situation to try and see things from another perspective other than your own.

In the case of Helen, she didn't even have a visit from her sons after letting the doctors take half of her nose and that's just wrong!

Jun 28, 2005

Freecycling

I subscribe to a mailing list called Wachusett Regional MA Freecycling where people can post things they would like to give away. It's a really useful list especially if you're cleaning out a basement or trying to declutter your life. Have an old coffee table that you never use and is taking up space? Post it and someone will want it.

Sometimes I post items myself and get great responses from people who are happy to drive to my door to pick up what I'm offering for free. The only effort needed is posting the item, sending the interested party directions to my house and placing the stuff outside near my mailbox for pickup. Easy Peasy. I come home at the end of the day and my stuff has gone to someone who can use it more than I can.

But I've noticed that as the popularity of this list has increased--so have the annoying posts from people looking for a handout. Someone will post, "Unwed pregnant daughter needs diapers" or "Son wants to take drum lessons-anyone have a nice set of drums I could have?" Regardless of the hardluck stories, I always think to myself that these people can't be hurting too badly when they can afford the cost of an internet connection and many have AOL email addresses. I don't feel too badly when someone asked for a "laptop-must be WI-FI compatible".

What sparked my blog today was this post: "Wanted-someone to install my car CD stereo I bought at a yard sale. I live in holden and have a 1989 cavalier Z24. Can anyone help?" Is this person for real? C'mon. Posting something like that on a freecycle list takes a lot of nerve. Hell, maybe I'm just resentful that I don't have the guts to post stuff like that. I can think of a few things I need in the way of services:

  • Wanted-someone to tear down an old wooden fence on the side of my yard and put up a new one. You can have the old wood if you can haul it.
  • Wanted-someone to install my XM Satellite radio that I bought for a good deal at Best Buy (but I just can't afford the installation charge...but I was smart enough to buy a service plan!)
  • Wanted-someone to paint my iron railing on the back entrance of my house. I have the scrubber brush, steel wool pads and black paint.
  • Wanted-someone to make a nice pine octagonal picnic table for my backyard
  • Wanted-someone to install my new pool.

I know my fictional wanted list is strictly to make a point, but I think these people who post things like asking for a service need to go to Craigslist or some other place to share their hardluck stories.

The person looking for someone to install a car stereo shouldn't have bought the stereo unless he/she knew how to install it. The person looking for diapers should have bought a condom and the mother wanting a drum set for her son should go to Kurlan Music to rent one. Enough already!

Jun 26, 2005

The Fruit is Always Sweeter...

Every Monday it's the same conversation: "So...what did you do this weekend?" Well, for starters, I weaseled a trip to Longhorns Steak House in Marlborough with Spencer on Saturday. It was hotter than hell and what better way to cool off than with a nice hot steak and a baked potato? Seriously, I know I'm fantastically insane...but I like meat.

Our lunch was actually pretty underwhelming, but that's for another blog. What I want to tell you about today is our little side trip to a grocery store called Hannaford which is next to Longhorns. I love shopping for fruit and right now my Holy Grail is a big juicy piece of watermelon priced right at about 55 cents a pound. It's not gonna happen and believe me, I know that. But it's the thrill of the chase because after all, Summer means delicious watermelon and next up is Pomegranate season (the most holy of seasons).

Hannaford is my new favorite grocery store. The aisles are wide, the selection is plentiful and the floors aren't sticky. The was no dust to be found on their canned goods and we found a rippled no-salt bag of potato chips about four aisles into our browsing. (My mom is going to be psyched and I can't wait to present her with my new find when I visit her this Tuesday! She loves no-salt chips and can't understand why the selection is so minimal anytime we go into a superstore like Wal-Mart or Target. I keep trying to tell her no-salt anything is difficult to find, but when she wants something her needs must be met--or I'll be nagged to death.)

Spencer is all about the price and I think he was pleased that the prices were surprisingly good-especially on their health & beauty products. We didn't even have to add another one of those annoying plastic discount cards to our already overloaded keychains to benefit from their prices.

We walked the aisles of Hannaford like tourists in Disneyland. But what cinched it for me was the yogurt section. Amazingly, they were charging $.55 cents for Breyer's Creme Savers yogurt! It's normally about $.89 or more at Price Chopper and Stop & Shop so I snagged a few containers and moved (or shall I be corny and say MOOOOved) over to the dairy section to price the Bunny Milk. Although they were charging $1.29 for it, they still redeemed themselves because they had Garelick Coffee Milk. I can never find coffee milk anywhere.

Did I mention the store was completely dead? I didn't have to maneuver around annoying customers leaving their shopping carts in the middle of the aisle or deal with screaming kids in the cereal aisle demanding Cookie Crisp cereal. I expected to see pallets of food in the aisles waiting to be put away by stocking clerks hoping to take advantage of down time. Nothing. The aisles were free and clear. Come to think of it, I don't recall seeing too many cardboard displays taking up aisle space either.

Since I'm a shopper who purposely shops in the dead of the night to avoid being stressed when I want to browse the salad dressing aisle for an undiscovered flavor (to stoke my salad dressing fetish), Hannaford scores points for the discerning shopper who wants to spend time experiencing what it's like to have such a grand amount of food choices. At Hannaford, it's perfectly okay to shuffle through your coupons with ease never worrying about the agitation from a stressed out, low-on-patience mom eager to push past you to get their cans of spaghettio's. The aisles are just that spacious.

The checkout was wonderful and free of any confrontation from apathetic cashiers. I was actually asked if my two flavors of Skinny Cow ice cream was the same price and when I confirmed it--the cashier nodded, punched in the price and moved on to my next item on the belt. No price checks or surly behavior whatsoever.

But here's the best part. They give you plastic bags that are study (about the thickness of a Target bag) and say cheeky things like:
I'm observant. I may look like an ordinary bag, but I'm not. I notice things. Like that tender asparagus you selected...and that roast...Excellent choice! You know what you're doing and I can tell you have GOOD TASTE.
The bag then has a little request: Please re-use this bag as many times as you can, then return it to Hannaford for recycling.
I am here to tell you that I've witnessed patrons of Hannaford actually bringing their used plastic bags back into the store for reuse! And that's the amazing thing about these gray bags. They are so hearty that you can actually recycle them. They don't rip or tear from your trunk to your countertop. They withstand the journey sustaining the weight of glass pickle jars, Ocean Spray grapefruit juice, boxes of Lean Cuisines and a can of scrubbing bubbles.
Today we drove 16 miles out of our way-from Worcester to Marlboro- to do our weekly grocery shop at Hannaford. Our trip was not disappointing in the sense that the store was still stone-cold quiet, Bing cherries were on sale for $2.99/pound and I even found a new salad dressing that I had never tried before-Ken's Sweet Vidalia Onion.
So that's what I did this past weekend--I shopped Hannaford and discovered a wonder right in my own 20-mile radius of home.

Jun 25, 2005

Long Live Ant Music

My friend Michelle and I went to see Duran Duran on April 1st. Just before the concert began, we noticed they were playing an Adam Ant song over the loudspeakers. We both kind of looked at each other and had one of those recognizable "Ah Ha" moments. I had totally forgotten all about Adam Ant and I really, really loved him back in the 80's. I remember buying his Strip album from one of those record clubs and thinking how he was all sexy looking lying in a pile of hay with some wheat sticking out of his mouth.

Spencer was able to snag The Essential Adam Ant cd from our local library and let me tell you...it rocks! I listened to it at work about five times in a row and just couldn't get enough of it. I don't know much about Adam Ant. I do recall recently hearing he had a nervous breakdown, but after having newly rediscovered him...I've got to Google him to find out his story.

Any man who can sing these lyrics from the song "Prince Charming" is a master in my book:

Don't you ever...
Don't you ever...
Stop being dandy...
Showing me your handsome.
Here's just a snippet of the liner notes from the cd: He was the King of the Wild Frontier, the first truly videogenic star of MTV era. He was Prince Charming, the swashbuckling dandy who heralded a Second British Invasion of the American Pop Charts. He was Adam Ant, and he helped alter the rules of pop.
I don't recall Adam Ant being a mainstay on MTV over the likes of say a Billy Idol or Cyndi Lauper, but what I do remember about him is all that warpaint he wore, the tribal drums and his wicked cool costumes he wore in his videos.
I'm quite pleased with myself for reaching back to 1981. Now I'm off to find out how many Ant fans are still left....

Out-of-Office Nightmare

Working in an office requires you to leave an out-of-office reply to anyone sending you emails while you're away. It's a common courtesy to let them know when you'll be returning. For the most part, people keep their messages pretty ordinary. Except for this guy that I work with who decided to be cute in his message. Bear in mind this man is well over 40 years old and certainly should know better than doing this.

This was his out-of-office message in Outlook:

From: John Doe
Sent: Monday, June 20, 2005 8:22 AM
To: Jane Doe
Subject: Out of Office AutoReply: Tech Team Monday 6/20/05 & Tuesday 6/21

I will be out of the office on Monday June 20th, making the annual pilgrimage to pay homage to the patron diety of Hedonism, Jimmy Buffett. Depending on the hang-over....I might be out Tuesday too.

If this is an important product sourcing issue please contact the product sourcing help desk.
If you are mailing about an outstanding PID request please contact John Doe II at ext XXX. Outstanding E-Form, John Doe at XXXXX

"Wastin' away again in Margaritaville....."

Mahalo,
John Doe

Can you imagine getting that out-of-office? If people can start quoting Jimmy Buffett lyrics in their messages, here's what mine is going to say:

I will be out of the office on July 4th soaking up sun and cheeseburgers to celebrate this great country of ours. Depending on if I over-indulge on sour Skittles and midori sours watching Live8...I may be in the office on Tuesday.

Holla Back, Kim

Jun 23, 2005

Sign(s) of the Times

Karen and I watched the James Brooks movie Spanglish last night together. The movie explores a multitude of relationships, but the overall joke is how the Spanish-speaking mother struggles to learn English over the course of the movie.

Karen began telling me how her niece Rebecca LOVES the cartoon Dora the Explorer. Apparently the little girl is getting pretty adept at speaking Spanish just from watching cartoons. We both laughed and said these cartoons should have been around when I was growing up and I would have never failed Spanish class. Things are so much better now. If I had Bob the Builder as a kid, my house would be so much nicer because I would know how to use all those tools in my garage collecting dust.

And what's up with the ice cream truck merrily rolling though my neighborhood each night at 6:30 with the annoying "Hello!" jingle? I never had that luxury when I was a kid. If I wanted a popsicle or an ice cream, I had to open up the freezer or wait to be taken to Friendlys for a special treat. I never just had it delivered right to my front door with such occasion.

These days kids have it too good and I feel like such an old person for saying it. They learn sign language in daycare so they can demand a cookie, can speak Spanish by the age of three from cartoons and expect cell phones by the fifth grade for their growing social web. The only way I could communicate in elementary school was to figure out how to fold those maddening origami- type things to ask questions if a boy liked me and depending on how many snaps of the paper, well--you get the picture. Today it's all about text messaging and ring-tones.

As Dora might say by the time she reaches the tender age of 35, "Soy tan viejo"

Jun 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day...Dad

It’s late and I really should be drifting off to sleep by now, but tonight’s a tough one for me because tomorrow is Father’s Day. It’s been seven years without him...

I got to thinking tonight about how I’m my father’s daughter. He taught me that the glass is always half full when my mom would lead me to believe otherwise. Thankfully his version of the truth always stuck. I am grateful that I am as good-natured and even tempered as my father. My dad taught me to go with the flow. He liked the phrase, "Don't let the turkeys get you down."

He drove an 18-wheel tractor trailer until I was 13 years old and made the decision to stop driving when he realized that he missed out on too much of my childhood being on the road. But he was never ashamed that he made his living driving a truck because he never really wanted to do anything else. He fulfilled his life long dream to drive across the country and left driving behind to work as a janitor.

He always wanted to visit Alaska and see the Grand Canyon. He told me that when he got older he wanted to rent an RV and just drive.

I know my dad was proud of me because he would tell me all the time. He was never uncomfortable about it. I think it was especially important to him that I knew how much he loved and was proud of me because his dad never told him anything like that when he was growing up other than negatively comparing him to his older brothers. My dad and I had an affectionate relationship and I miss hugging him.

One of the hardest things to come to terms with after he died was that I couldn’t sit across the kitchen table from him anymore to share crazy work stories or just talk. I was on my own.

My dad loved a good steak. I can remember that he knew where his priorities were when payday hit-visit the downtown butcher for meat and pay the bills last. He was a simple guy and never had any problem doing the things that made him happy.

He cried like a baby the day I gave him the huge framed print of him and I on my wedding day. He said it was the best present he ever received in his life and I knew he meant it.

I bet Father’s Day is tough on the people who don’t have good memories of their dad. I bet they wish the holiday didn’t even exist. As painful as this day is on me every year, the tears I cry are worth it because they remind me of how lucky I was growing up with such an amazing father.

I live every day of my life to honor his memory. I do it by looking after my mom and protecting her when he cannot. I appreciate the beauty in my own life knowing how much he loved beautiful things like flowers and Harley Davidson motorcycles.

And most importantly, I honor my father by experiencing the fresh pain of his loss every June 19th because it was one of his favorite days of the year. He loved being my father.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day. I will always remember…..