Tea for Two

The kitchen is complete. It’s so different Alf and I feel we’re in an alternative universe. We’re having to get used to it like a new house.

Unlike us, it’s bright, open and sleek.  What was once a traditional kitchen of the 60’s is now a bold space with stainless steel, grey cabinets, black and white granite counters, and a brown hardwood floor. teapot

Our son, the artist, immediately spotted all the flaws. “I would have laid the hardwood floor in the opposite direction,” he said.  A floor is a floor. Vertical or horizontal, once you throw rugs over it, who’s to notice? He did.

Our daughter was thrilled with the upgrade. “Wow. Makes the house look glamorous. I’ll be coming over more often.” Who knew modernizing the house is the secret to bringing the family together.

Right now I’m purging food items, pots and pans, and small appliances before we fill up cabinet space. I discovered I’ve been hording bags of spices, too many spatulas, dish towels and oven mittens, and an extra set of dishes meant for a banquet of 24. Time to toss.

Calvin says, “I have to establish new scent trails to my food dish.” beagle

 

 

Gorgeous in Rags

Riding into work this morning on the subway, a tall blonde got on board.

The car was full so she grabbed a strap and hung on for the ride into the city.

I suspected this was her preferred mode anyway even if the car had been empty.

She was dressed in torn, filthy beige overalls. Her parka had layers of grime on it. Her backpack was vintage muck.

Construction tools spilled out of every pocket. Spiral bound notebooks, too. A pencil.

I looked at her face. She was very pretty. Clear skin, rosy cheeks, bright brown eyes, and she looked freshly scrubbed.  Maybe mid-twenties.electrician

She was one crazy contrast.

I was intrigued.

I got off at my stop and noticed she did, too. We got in line for the escalator. She was in front of me.

I couldn’t resist.

“What kind of work do you do?” I asked from behind.

She looked down, removed her earbuds. “Are you asking me?”

“Yes, I’m curious.”

“I’m an electrician,” she said.

“Oh,” I said.

She smiled. “I know,” she said looking at her clothes.

“Do you like it?”

“I love it!” she said with gusto. “I can get dirty everyday while working on fancy new buildings.”

“How do the others treat you, being you’re in a man’s world?” I asked.

“Fine. Most of them are wimps. They’re all babies, you know.”

We reached the top and said good-bye to each other. She smiled.

Babies. I think she gave herself away.

Calvin says, “Never judge a person by their clothes. Take me for instance. You’d never guess that a cynical, freewheeling, and persnickety heart lurks underneath this silken fur.”  beagle

 

 

Spicy Tea

I lunched with an old friend of many years. She looked broody, not her typical self. So I asked her what was troubling her, and the floodgates opened.

“Elliott and I have stuck out 40 years of incompatibilities. A recent vacation is a good example. He wanted a quiet hotel room. I enjoy hearing people’s voices on the street, the dumpsters being filled with crashing bottles, it anchors me to a place,” she said demolishing her cucumber sandwich.

“He likes hiking. My hike is riding the escalator at Nordstrom’s. He’s anxious if a plan doesn’t go well, although he hates planning anything. I plan things out weeks in advance so it’s clearly my fault,” she continued with a furrowed brow.

I wanted to say something but she wasn’t listening.

“He likes hot, spicy food. You’ve seen that. He douses everything with hot sauce. I like a steak and fries. He’s a clutter bug, books and magazines everywhere, and throws nothing away. I dream of minimalist spaces, preferably in a condo with zero maintenance,” she said knocking back her shot of espresso.

“He watches his favorite movies over and over. Once I’ve seen a movie I’m over it,” she said. “Just the other night he watched Bottle Shock for the trillionth time and I sat there trying to find something I hadn’t caught before. You know what?”

Finally. “What?” I said.

“I watched for timing of the scenes like I was some professional director or something,” she said.

She went on. “He must do the driving. Months go by and I haven’t been behind the wheel, but I’ve become an expert passenger. He drives too fast. He hates traffic and being stuck behind a car. He maneuvers and strategizes so he can be out ahead. For me driving relaxes me. I daydream to my destination. Driving for him is mastering the road and eliminating the competition.” minimal

“Oh, also going for a walk is impossible. He walks too fast and I lag behind like women do from other cultures. It’s so frustrating. I hate it,” she said raising her voice. Everyone in the restaurant was looking at us. She didn’t notice.

“I love flying. He refuses to step on a plane because he’s sure he’d battle with security and they’d throw him out of the airport. We can’t take a trip anywhere. Talk about selfish.”

She finally stopped and took a breath.

Did she want a response or was this a vent session?

The waitress approached our table. She looked like Lucille Ball with 50’s glasses. “Dessert?”

My friend said almost in a growl, “Is it soaking in whiskey?”

Calvin says, “Holy cow. She’s one angry dude.” beagle

 

 

Down the Hall

Things started off with a cliffhanger as I prepared to oversee a food event for 60 people.

The food distribution truck showed up two and a half hours late and parked a block away instead of in front of the house like they usually do. Then the driver came to the front gate, a Hispanic dude, and saw the six steps leading to the front door and announced, “I don’t do stairs.”
“What?” I said incredulously.
“I don’t do stairs,” he said a second time. “It’s against company policy.”
“Really? You guys have been doing stairs for 20 years with us.”
He whipped out his cell phone, took a picture of those nasty stairs, and said, “I’ve just sent this off to my supervisor for instructions.” Then he disappeared around the corner to sit in his truck. photo-4

I called my rep. “I’ll fix this and get back to you,” he said.
I waited.
No driver.
No rep.
No food.
No answers.

I called my rep again.

“I’ll call my manager,” he said.

The driver came back to the gate. “If we don’t solve this I’ll have to take the food back to the warehouse.”

By now the chef, two friends, a co-worker and I were on the street staring the dude down in a gunslinger showdown.

Suddenly my rep appeared out of the ether. “I was in the neighborhood,” he said out of breath. A short, wiry guy with consternation all over his face. I showed him the tables set and ready and the kitchen.

I showed him those nasty stairs.

Meanwhile the dude had disappeared and returned with his first load of boxes. About 25 of them. At street level.

We had no choice but to make an assembly line sandbag style and run boxes from the street, up the nasty stairs, down the long hall, and into the kitchen.

It took us almost an hour to check every box against the order sheet. The dude was now in the kitchen helping us identify the boxes. The rep stood there with  jaw open.

We finished checking the last item, signed the sheet, and the dude disappeared around the corner.

The rep said he’d make sure this wouldn’t happen again.

You bet. Because you’d just lost a customer of 20 years, dude.

Calvin says, “Cut the dude some slack. If you hauled boxes all day, everyday of the week, you’d be a dragon lady throwing your rights around, too.”  beagle

Quotes on the Run

Overheard at a coffee shop:

My job is a major interruption to the work that most endears me: the contemplation of myself.

Self-forgetfulness is impossible. How can I forget the most provocative subject in the world? Me.

In a conversation:

Today’s marketing mandate: Give the public what they don’t know they need, and then create a market for it.

Alf’s wisdom:

Dead people don’t change lanes.

From author Anne Perry:  ring

It was beginning to appear that her interesting face covered a most uninteresting mind.

He would look at you as is he were really interested in all you said. He never seemed to be merely polite. It was almost as if he were half expecting you to turn out to be special, and he did not want to miss any opportunity to find out.

From author Ruth Reichl:

Don’t mistake a street address for where you actually live.

From screen diva May West:

It’s better to be looked over than over looked.

Vogue Taylors:
Ladies are welcome to have a fit upstairs.

Anonymous:

People who exercise just die healthier.

Calvin says, “Here’s another one: Dogs that don’t exercise daily die fat and fartsy.” beagle

A Good Address

“The bird spooked my dog and she hid in the closet the rest of the day. When will you be taking it home?” Sonia said to Heather at lunch today.

“I should ask my husband. He doesn’t know yet.”

Hurry,” Sonia said.  IMG_3189

Sonia lives in a Victorian house with her husband and dog one block away from the office. A yellow cockatiel landed on the doorstep last week. It had no identification or passport. It was shivering. Nora, one of the residents, found him and brought him indoors. She bought a cage, food and toys. The bird is thriving in the kitchen with the noise of cooking and the residents talking to it everyday. At night it shares Nora’s bedroom. By the end of the month it should be talking in full sentences.

Tonight,” Heather said.

“Call me,” Sonia said.

If Heather does take it, it will have a swanky life in Tiburon with a view of water and trees to look at, but nobody to talk to. Heather and her husband work all day.

I’m hoping it stays in the Victorian with its fans who already enjoy it’s company. Sonia will just have to teach her dog bird-speak.

Calvin says, “That Burmese Mountain dog is all drama. She needs to get over herself.” beagle

Train Tales

People entertain me.

This morning a young woman with green hair and brown roots got on the train. Her head looked like a tree was growing out of it, except the green was more the color of fizzy pop rock candy. She sat where everybody could see her. For the rest of the ride she kept her head bent down so her hair covered most of her face like a veil while she stared at her smart phone.  Jade

The person who sat next to me was someone I couldn’t quite identify at first. Man or woman? Hard to tell. He/she wore black pants, black shirt, black shoes and carried a black backpack. Her hair was blonde and cut close like a man’s. She wore no jewelry or make-up. She yanked out a book, the hardcover kind with rustling pages, and stuck her face in it all the way to the city. At the first stop she got up and bolted out the door. At least she reads.

Two women, who boarded with me, spent the entire trip talking about the dogs they owned. Then they went on to the different breeders they’d known, the different size dogs, and the weaknesses and strengths of the breeds. It was a steady commentary of opinions and judgments until they arrived at their stop. That’s when one said to the other, “Well, it was nice meeting you.”

There’s a man on my car who sits next to the train operator’s booth and welcomes everyone on board from his seat. He’s friends with every operator on that shift and knows them by name. He knows many of the passengers, too, and says good morning to each. He irritates me. I don’t know why, but he does. Maybe because I can’t be cheery that early, or make small talk with a stranger who wants to draw me into his routine, which would obligate me to acknowledge him every morning. I think it’s presumptuous of him to think I’d capitulate to his charms.

Calvin says, “It’s not him, it’s you. You’d like the whole car to yourself.”beagle