Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Christmas has come to mean many things to me over the years.
When I was in the first grade it was the sheer excitement of making paper chains for our Christmas tree out of green and red construction paper, watching The Grinch and Rudolph on TV, fighting with my sister over who got to hang what on the tree, Santa Claus, and of course all those wonderful presents.
When I had kids of my own, it was all about waiting until they were asleep (which seemed to take forever) so I could try to quietly sneak all their presents under the tree, and I can still remember how thrilled they were when I (with a lot of drama) complained that Rudolph and his cronies had left chomped up bits of carrots all over our deck, and did anyone happen to see Santa's sleigh tracks (made at around 3 AM with a broom handle) on the deck?
Then I was suddenly single with two jobs, and three kids who didn't care if I put up a tree or not as long as they got presents. Honestly, I tried to keep the Christmas spirit alive, but it's tough when December was the month the township snowplow knocked over my mail box and when I called my dad for help, I had to first get past my mother (who doesn't have a job but wants to tell me about what a bad day she's had and how my father is driving her crazy). It's the December where it snowed every single day and I found myself shoveling the driveway (in between my two jobs) at both 7 AM and midnight thus leaving me feeling like a wrung out dishrag, or the infamous December when the muffler fell off my car and the starter on my daughter's car died, and the only time I had left to shop for presents was Christmas Eve.
And finally, December is the month of the company Christmas party. The entire month.
Oh sure, Christmas parties are just peachy keen and tons of fun when you're an attendee of one or perhaps two, but just try being a waitress for an entire month times ten years of them and then see how you feel.
Putting up with beer deaf drunks, bossy wives who envision themselves as Mistress of the Manor, discovering the freezer is broke when it comes time to serve 48 scoops of liquid ice cream, struggling with fifty pound trays of dirty dishes on your shoulder all night long because for some reason everyone wants to congregate in the only narrow doorway to the room...
I did this for over ten years and I'll never forget the weekend I clocked in over 32 hours (in addition to my full time job) from Friday night to Sunday evening at a beautiful private club. I still remember how tired I was on Friday night (and was already wondering how the hell I would make it through Sunday) after the first party ended at around 2 AM and we still had to tear down the banquet tables and put up round ones for Saturday's brunch.
After Saturday's brunch we tore down those tables, completely rearranged the dining room, ordered pizza, and folded about a thousand napkins in preparation for The Big Party. The Big Party was thrown by a wealthy local contractor who employed a lot of townspeople, and we were to be on our best behavior.
I knew it would be an interesting night when I saw men arriving in everything from filthy jeans and flannel shirts to leisure suits and cowboy boots, to women in ball gowns and homemade tattoos to flannel shirts and cowboy boots.
At these parties the waitstaff is usually given three to four tables of eight to ten people each. The menu is set; meaning everyone gets the same soup and salad, and a choice of three entrees (beef, fish, chicken, and the occasional vegetarian dish). This allows everything to run smoothly (for the most part) and hopefully a good time is had by all.
I immediately knew I was in trouble when I discovered that one of the men I had to wait on had such tremendous BO that it made my eyes smart and I felt like I had my nose jammed deep in his armpits all night long. He exacerbated the problem by dousing himself with an entire bottle of Aqua Velva and I then spent the rest of the night taking a deep breath before launching myself at his table, expelling it after I left, and ended up feeling like a Japanese pearl diver for the remainder of the evening.
I felt very bad for the man at my next table who had a terrible speech impediment and I acted like I didn't notice it at all and was very patient even though we were expected to get our orders to the kitchen 'yesterday'!
No one understood that their Prime Rib would be 'medium' (and no I can not turn medium into rare!) and all the men ordered an end piece. Just how many end pieces do you think a prime rib has I wanted to ask.
As I was madly clearing soup cups, dropping off salads, refilling water goblets, and serving drinks, a man from a neighboring table (not mine) flagged me down, and since I had to be polite and couldn't say "Sorry you're not my station," I was forced to acknowledge him.
He was of the 'filthy jeans' club and he and his cronies were having quite the wild time. He was laughing so hard he could barely speak but unfortunately he did. "I want you (by now he was doubled over with laughter), I want you (snicker, snicker) to take this ( he held up his cup of untouched french onion soup) to that table ( he pointed to a table clear across the room) and tell them (snicker, snicker, and by now his friends were guffawing with laughter too) that it's from me." I was stunned, decided to take my chances (after all it was my word against his), said, "No," and walked away.
In the middle of trying to serve the main entree one of my customers stopped me and instructed me to watch him. He then went through a very dramatic demonstration wherein he performed a magic trick and bent a spoon. By now I was numb with disbelief as I'd realized earlier in the evening that this particular group of construction workers were the very ones responsible for building the elementary school that all of my children had attended. I still thank God that I never possessed that nugget of information when my kids were younger or I probably would have ended up with ulcers because I surely would not have been able to afford send them to private school.
Anyway, the magician waited with bated breath for my praise."Wow!" I exclaimed, and he glowed with pride. "Honest to God!" and here I placed my hand over my heart and he sat up even straighter. "I haven't seen that trick since the sixth grade, and I wasn't impressed with it then either!" As I walked away his friends howled with laughter and punched him in the arm.
I did feel horrible though when the man with the speech impediment gave me hell on one of my trips to his table. He had been shut off at the bar for being drunk, was very upset, and implied that I was the one responsible. I'd only served him one beer and having no idea what he was talking about I assured him I'd done no such thing, but he never did believe or forgive me.
After dinner, along with clearing tables, we were required to continue running drinks for everyone. I was standing at the bar waiting to place an order when the bartender, without missing a beat, and while shaking a whiskey sour said to me, "Laura, would you please go into the kitchen and see if you can find the remainder of this gentleman's tie? He seems to have misplaced it." It took me a moment but I looked at the man next to me and nearly died when I saw that his necktie did indeed stop short about three quarters of the way up his shirt front. I felt my face burn and I waited in horror for the 'gentleman' in question to raise hell about being insulted. Instead, he gave me a big smile and after he left I realized he was same man who'd been ordering CC & gingerale from me all night long (and lucky for me I hadn't noticed the tie issue since he'd been sitting down) but was really getting 'well' whiskey and 7UP because the bartender said he'd never notice.
An executive and his wife got into huge fight and she retaliated by flinging herself all over the dance floor in a very low cut gown with one of the construction workers, who having no idea he was being used, turned beet red with the unexpected pleasure of being chosen, and the exertion of trying to keep up with her.
The last of the guests left at around 2 AM and once again we had to rearrange the whole dining room for Sunday's brunch. Only then were we finally able to sink our exhausted bodies into the comfortable sofas of the darkened bar and enjoy the moon sitting low over the frozen lake. With beers in hand we gossiped about the single 'sequined evening gown' who seemed to spend quite a bit of time with the married 'Fu Manchu mustache', found out some of the guests had taken bets on which would happen first; the executives wife's dress would 'fail' or her dance partner would drop dead, and we all tried to figure out a remedy for getting the smell of sour sweat out of my nostrils.
We got through Sunday's brunch, and re-set for a late afternoon company party which I'm sorry to say was very staid and therefor very boring (ie: no sequins, magic tricks, cowboy boots, or dirty dancing), and finally after cleaning up the dining room from that party I went home.
I'm still not overly fond of Christmas, mostly because I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of futility I endured for so many years, so it shouldn't be a huge surprise to hear that I still don't put up a tree or decorate (but I'm not a complete Scrooge and have stored all my treasured ornaments in a box in my sister's basement).
But Hans is a whole different story. You can see Hans has put up not just one, but three trees!! I just shook my head and said, "Fine, but you're the one who gets to take them down after Christmas!"
So on that cheerful note, I would like to wish you one and all a Happy Holiday Season!
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Our girl sprung a rather scary leak in South Carolina which resulted in her being hauled out of the water for some extensive (funny how that rhymes with expensive) repairs.
When people ask us where she is, we reply (with a wink) that she's currently at a spa (code speak for drying out!), and will be back in the water after the holidays. Until then we are now back in the Big City.
All I know is, I was very anxious to pick up my Wilbur from Day Care where he'd been held captive for three weeks. He looked very fit and a bit slimmer (no doubt the result of running around like a maniac with all his friends for five hours a day), and upon arriving home, and except for eating and going potty, slept for three days straight.
Here he is with his hedgehog, the only stuffy he hasn't destroyed. He often falls asleep with Hedgy in his mouth.
Although I did add a zippered gusset closure.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Hans was pretty sure it was an Island Packet (we have an Island Packet Cat) and then he remarked, "It's from Michigan." I looked up at that time and saw its name was Far Niente.
Now wait a minute, I thought. How many Island Packets from Michigan are going to have that name.
I'm pretty sure Hans thought I was crazy when I told him I thought I might know who they were.
I got on the radio, requested they go to channel 68 and asked if Marji was on board.
When I heard a woman start laughing, I knew I had it right!
Yes folks, Marji from Fiber Arts Afloat (and SV Far Niente) passed us in the Intracoastal Waterway!! I had checked her sailing blog earlier but she hadn't posted on it recently so I had no idea she was anywhere near us.
And even so, what are the chances that we'd actually pass like ships in the night?
I'm sorry, I just had to write that!
Friday, November 5, 2010
This is our salon area. This summer Wilbur wreaked havoc on the cushions so I decided to made some covers.
We left Swansboro this morning and even though it's a beautiful sunny day, we're not going to get very far. That's because we're back to dealing with bridges and a lack of anywhere to anchor or dock once nightfall approaches. We'd love to get into Wrightsville Beach today and maybe we would have if we'd have gotten out of our slip before 7 AM. But it was dark and it's too easy to keep on sleeping...
By the way, if you ever want to be thoroughly entertained; find your nearest drawbridge, make some popcorn, pull up a chair, and be prepared to enjoy yourself.
Why the big rush to get to a drawbridge that you know won't open for another 15 minutes to half hour, or even an hour (we once missed an hourly bridge by 5 minutes)? Is it a need to be the first in line? Is there a prize waiting for the 'winner'? All I know is that after being passed by lots of boats (the Knotty Cat likes to take her time or maybe all those cases of beer she's hauling really do weigh her down) we all eventually end up in one big snarled mess in front of a bridge. Today was a classic. Two small sailboats who were obviously traveling together and refused to be separated were sucked right up to a swing bridge. Some bigger motor boats also crowded in and even though we hung back the next thing we knew, the bigger boats were revving up in reverse and the little sail boats were bobbing around like ninnies and one nearly ran into the bridge support. The bridge operator kept trying to hail the out of control sailboat and tell it to please start through as soon as the bridge swung open (in the opposite direction thank God) but they never answered. Then the chatter started, "Doesn't he have a radio?", "I know he has a radio." "Why is he sitting there? Does he want us to go first?"
I got out my trusty binoculars and saw that the captain and his 'woman' were standing in the cockpit and apparently weren't taking calls. Just when it seemed like the big boats were going to charge through, the two little sailboats got into the act and like two little old jaywalking women, crippled their way through the opening.
Hans calls this Dancing with the Stars.
As of 3:00 we are now waiting at another bridge that opens on the hour and the sad thing is, we could have been here at 2:00. But clear back at Swansboro we had 2-3 knot winds working against us and were only doing 4 knots while motoring at 6. When we realized we wouldn't make the bridge we dropped to one engine and slowed down. Of course the current changed completely and started pushing us like crazy and when we were two miles away from it, the bridge opened. We ended up waiting 45 minutes.
In the end it doesn't really matter because were going to dock at Harbor Village Marina as there are no more docks until Wrightsville, and I don't see any good anchorage areas. Wrightsville is over 20 miles away with yet one more hourly bridge (they all stop opening at 7 PM) and with the current acting like a woman who can't make up her mind I don't want to get stuck in the middle.
In addition to all that, our GPS is still giving us fits and takes a nap (we call it a union break) every day. Fritz (as we've named him) usually wakes up just as we're anchoring or docking and acts like nothing is wrong what so ever.
Won't Fritz be surprised to find that his replacement is awaiting us in Charleston, SC?
No one sleeps on watch!
Monday, October 25, 2010
Here is Wilbur and Toby. Toby spent the first 5 months of his life chained in a basement. He was rescued when his owner was arrested for gassing dogs in his garage! Nice guy, huh?
Toby loves to play and his sister Gracie (a brindle pitty who was rescued from a kill shelter in Ohio the day she was to be put down) is unbelievably sweet and spends her day fending off suitors (if you know what I mean).
I find it amazing that dogs who have gone through so much can be so loving.
Check out Toby being very patient with Hurley, the tea cup Chihuahua (all 4 pounds of it!). Wilbur, Toby, and Gracie were fascinated yet never even tried to wrestle with him. They all touched noses and were very careful around him.
Wilbur has a strong prey drive and this dog is the size of a large rat so I was very nervous. The owners later remarked that the only dogs who were nice to Hurley, were the pit bulls.
I only wish I'd had my camera ready when Wilbur let Hurley chase him all the way across the park. That would have made a great YouTube video!
I'm leaving today to join Hans in Annapolis so we can get a move on and sail our boat to Florida.
Poor Hans spent the weekend on it with no electricity (so no heat, not hot water etc...). And this is after we spent a ton of money having the electrical system upgraded! The electrician is coming back today to look things over and I hope for his sake the problem is resolved before I get there!
My baby will be boarded while we're gone and I wanted him to have soft pillows and a blanket for his bed. I used a very soft plush fabric and covered two pillows and zig zagged the edges of the left over piece for a blanket.
Apparently I need to be supervised when I sew.
Enjoying the end results.
And no pampered pitty should be without a fur stole.
I found this gorgeous fur at the Salvation Army for $20.00. Some poor old woman must have died and her family cleaned out her closets!
Hans nearly choked when I told him how much I paid for it. Years ago, his father bought a very similar one for his mother and spent well over a thousand dollars for it (and then he had to buy another one for Hans' grandmother because she was jealous!).
Friday, October 22, 2010
Anyway, I'll fly down on Monday and at that point Hans and I will sail south. But this is a delivery trip only. We'll return home so we can be here for the holidays and then in early January the Knotty Cat is going to sail us to the Bahamas.
At least that's the plan.
I downloaded Amy Butler's Blossom Bag from Freebies for Crafters. Here's my bag made from Sunbrella fabric. Am I happy with it?
I looked everywhere to see if I was supposed to add seam allowances to the pattern. It didn't appear that I was supposed to so I didn't. However, her finished dimensions say that the purse is supposed to be 16" wide. I don't know how that's possible since the pattern is only 14" wide. Not a big deal but I have to wonder where I (or they) went wrong.
I know everyone loves Amy Butler but when it comes to purse drafting I still feel that Nicole Mallalieu is#1!!
Wilbur will be boarded during our two week sail and it just kills me! But if he sailed down with us, he'd have to fly back on an airplane and I won't do that. However, he will be in Doggy Day Care during the day and I'm hoping he's worn out enough at night to not wonder where his mommy is!
You can see he felt the need to supervise.
Monday, October 4, 2010
After leaving Wilbur at Doggy Day Care the other day I went shopping and ended up with two pieces of fabric (a big no no since I'm supposed to be thinning out what I already have!). But I couldn't resist a one yard piece of Sunbrella that was on clearance for $5.00!! It's normally $30.00 a yard. I had yet one more big bag kind of thing in my head but then I stumbled across this at Freebies for Crafters. It's an Amy Butler bag and even though I'm not a huge fan of some of her purse patterns (I realize everyone goes GaGa over her so you can just shoot me now!), for some reason I like the look of this one. I can also see a couple of potential problems with it ie, a flap that could be too stiff, and matching up the print where the flap meets the front, but I think I can work around my concerns.
I interrupt this post for a special report!! A rampaging pit bull has taken over an apartment in the Big City....
Here, the peep describes to his cronies his escape from the jaws of death. "His mouth was thiiiiiiis wide!" He demonstrated.
Monday, September 27, 2010
They finally arrived and it took an entire day to install them!
Here is the side with the mesh screen. It has a roll up flap that's held in place with 5 straps that button at the top.
This is the result of a day at Doggy Day Care! Not only is he like this in the evening, it carries through to the next day.
Friday, September 17, 2010
What did arrive was a total of 6 grommets, when what I needed was 6 packages of 12!
And that just won't work.
Anyway, the company has been very nice and finally realized that a new employee made a bit of a mistake and the remaining grommets are now on their way.
But in the mean time I feel bad about the wait (even though it's not my fault) and thought maybe I'd send a little condolence gift along with the crib (that is if it ever gets finished!!).
When I saw this 'pirate' fabric I just couldn't resist. I can't think of a more appropriate print for a little one living aboard a boat.
And since her parents' sailed around the world without a bit of experience and succeeded? Why not!
The pattern is McCall's 5416.
Very simple and I made a size 1.
I used heart shaped buttons at the shoulders and red ric rac along the bottom.
The back view.
A close up of the fabric.
I'm a sucker for ric rac!