Archive for November, 2004

the time before soap

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004

We spent a couple of hours with Jeremie’s Grandma this evening and she told us some great stories. We didn’t have a tape recorder but here’s what I have stored in my keppe.

Her mother liked them to spend a lot of time outdoors in the summer because the area of Montreal where they lived had sidewalks and very few trees. When Grandma was 5, they camped out on an island for the summer and lived in tents. Her mother had an agreement with the Federation (I didn’t ask, I’m assuming the Jewish Federation) to take in 8 girls for two weeks; she received a stipend of 10 cents a day to cover meals and such. As Grandma, her mother and her brother were out there for a couple of months they had several changes of girls.
Each morning her mother would wake up before the children and row a boat to the mainland to fetch a large jug of milk and a large jug of fresh water. One of the girls would be selected to travel with her and it was a great priveledge to be selected. Upon returning she would start a fire and made fresh onion rolls for breakfast.
The girls slept on straw mattresses in the tents and each morning they would hang them up to air out. Grandma said the girls were usually kind and would help her to hang up her mattress. She recounted that she learned very quickly not to touch the sides of the tent while it was raining. During one rain storm she touched the tent and got all wet. One of the girls in her tent thought to move her out of the wet spot and another told her a story while it thunderstormed.

Another story … One summer Grandma was to spend a couple months at a family farm about an hour outside of Montreal. Her mother put her on the train, vanished for a bit but came back quickly bearing a doll. Her mother told her that a man with a buggy would pick her up and the conductor would tell her where to get off the train. When it came time, the conductor did indeed tell her when to get off the train and she met the man with his horse and buggy. Near the end of the trip, the man asked her what the name of her doll was. She had not yet named the doll but saw a sign on the open barn door and quickly picked a name for the doll, “Nosmo King”.
Later on, she realized that the sign said “No Smoking” and she told us that she used that story to illustrate the importance of phrasing to her music students.

Grandma is 93 and the clarity of her mind and what she can recall never ceases to amaze me. She is a fascinating woman to talk with and listen to. She said the phrase “that was the time before soap” right before telling about her mother and spending the summer on the island, but either she didn’t complete the thought or I missed the context. Either way, I thought it was pretty funny.

She had a book on tomatos that she wanted me to have but she couldn’t find it so she gave me a copy of “The American Woman’s Cook Book” instead. It was published in 1940, as far as I can tell, and the recipes I’ve paged through so far are quite contemporary. There’s none of the strange concoctions of the 1950s and ’60s. I did see a few recipes for toungue but that’s not so wierd, it’s just fallen out of favor. I’m very excited to spend some time with this on the plane tomorrow.

not quite food

Monday, November 29th, 2004

I just heard the most awful recipe on the radio: Trailer Park Tiramisu. Chips Ahoy cookies, Cool Whip and Kahlua all layered on top of each other in a dish.

Cool Whip freaks me out.

restless energy

Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

I’ve been feeling kind of crazy the past couple of days. I haven’t been sleeping well and I can’t concentrate on any one thing for a terribly long time. Last night I cleaned the kitchen, dealt with the trash, folded the sheets that were in the dryer (I hate folding sheets) and actually put them back in the linen closet. I sat on the couch for a few minutes, then threw in a load of laundry before heading off to the gym. I was going to walk for 45 minuts or so but instead I stayed on the treadmill for closer to 80 minutes and walked a little over 5 miles.
Came home, ate some sherbet and watched Desperate Housewives on el Tivo. Guilty pleasure, yes yes yes. Then I emptied the dishwasher and since it was midnight, I went upstairs and played with my Rio for over an hour. I’m trying to get it to work with an SD card that we have and it just doesn’t want to copy music onto the darn thing. I crawled in bed around 1:30 and promptly started running through all kinds of crazy shit in my mind.

When I woke up this was the first fragment that popped into my mind: “blueberries or the confusion”

I am full of the nervous.

I could really handle a run right now.

I love you, Captain Sandwich

Thursday, November 18th, 2004

I’m working in the ci-taay, we went to Pret for luuunch, Pret tastes so gooood. Ooh, ooh, ooh. I had a sandwich comprised of poached salmon, baby spinach, whisper thin slices of cucumber and a touch of dill dressing; the combination was fresh and delightful. I also enjoyed a small cup of butternut squash soup and bought a little piece of carrot cake for a late afternoon snack. I wish we had Pret in Connecticut. Pret, you are so fabulous.

Wisconsin is delightful

Saturday, November 13th, 2004

Any friend of cheese is a friend of mine. This week I got to spend a few days in Madison interviewing students at Univ of Wisconsin for software engineering jobs at TheCompanyIWorkFor. I structured my interviews very differently than the ones I conducted last week at Michigan and it was a lot easier on me. It gave me a lot more time and thought energy to listen and evaluate the candidates above and beyond the questions I had them work through.
Then there’s the fun stuff. Madison is a really great town to hang out in. We ate some good food, I got to take my cousins out to dinner and I even got to see Kerstin, my roommate from freshman year at Michigan. It’s nice having friends about while you’re away from home. I bought Wisconsin shirts for me and Jeremie. It feels fairly sacreligious, being a Michigan grad and all, but I just love Bucky the Badger. Oy, he’s a cutie.

the same but different

Thursday, November 4th, 2004

Greetings from Ann Arbor. I have a nice room with a fatty king bed and free wireless. Not too shabby. The trip in was uneventful, which is just how I like it, and since we got to town it’s been jam packed with activity. I met Lani for a brief coffee at Felix, we had our infosession, dinner at Palio and then a drink at Ashleys with Erin. I should get to sleep as we have a full day of interviews tomorrow but I’m hearing what sounds like dirty noises from the room next to mine so I think I’ll watch some of the tv I have on my laptop for a bit until that stops.

Ann Arbor has a lot more chain places than when I was here last. Triste.

exercising my right

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2004

Jeremie and I waited in line at our polling place for an hour and twenty minutes this morning and everything in me says the time was absolutely worth it. I think voting is extremely important. Every time I hear people talk about how their vote doesn’t matter I die a little inside.

The reason the lines were so long in Stamford was that they put 10 questions on the ballot (city stuff) and most people had not seen the questions before they stepped in the polls. Consequently, people took much longer to vote than they usually do because they had to read those darned questions. Ah well.

If you haven’t gone to vote yet, grab a cup of coffee and go get in line. You’ll get a sticker.