Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 30, 1979 (Another Episode of the Dick Miller Show)

Yesterday Dick Miller and I had an interesting chat. My trip to the third floor administrative offices had originally been for the simple purpose of delivering to Julie the Youth Work Experience program evaluation forms for Robin. Julie wasn't at her desk so I peeked around the corner to see if Dick was in his office. He was on the phone but motioned me to take a seat. I remained standing until he concluded his phone conversation. He seemed eager to talk so I took one of the seats opposite his desk. After fifteen minutes of general conversation, he moved into territory he obviously wanted me to become familiar with.

Dick seemed to feel that he had become responsible for a rumor spreading quickly throughout the library. According to him, the hot topic of conversation arose during his recent extended weekend trip to Connecticut. Everyone thinks he's planning to move. Since I am not privy to most library gossip, this observation came as a complete surprise to me. As the flood gates were opened, the water roared down the spillway.

Dick confessed that he interviewed for the position of Connecticut State Librarian. He had previously discussed the matter with Bill, who naturally relayed the information to me.

Dick is obviously not happy in Oshkosh. Personally, I don't feel that he has become comfortable in the position of library director here. Since Connecticut is his home state, a move there would seem quite logical.

Now comes the big surprise. Dick is considering a return to Port Angeles at the request of the town's library board and many of the town's local citizens. At least that's hi's story. Two months ago he suggested that I apply for the same job. At first, the thought of moving to the west coast proved extremely tempting. Then I realized how content I was in Oshkosh. A move would be too disorienting at the present time. Better to enjoy the unexpected stability that has made my life so special this year.

From the 18th Floor of Van Hise Hall, UW-Madison

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November 29, 1979 (Bookmobile Service Under the Gun?)

While I'm waiting for library matters to be discussed again, I'll put the time to productive use.

Carl Schroeder made an excellent presentation in defense of the proposed 1980 library budget. Don Kutchera appears to be the council member with the machete. At least he's the only individual who has so far brandished one. Whether any specific line items will come up for discussion remains to be seen. Perhaps the final decision will be to cut out another arbitrary amount, say $25,000, of next year's budget. What happens then? Do we cut back on the book budget? Does the ax finally fall on city bookmobile service?

The latest issue of Library Journal contained a short article on the falling fortunes of bookmobile service in a variety of locations throughout the United States. King County in Washington has dropped its bookmobile service completely. Circulation statistics had been dropping steadily for five years. Sounds familiar.

Oshkosh Public Library's mobile services have suffered a similar drop. The highwater mark both for the city and county bookmobiles occurred in late 1975 and early 1976. That fact came to light after I constructed a chart of total bookmobile circulation on a month-by-month basis over the past ten years. Since the spring of 1976, use of both bookmobiles has dropped, precipitously so in the case of the city bookmobile. If no major cut occurs this evening, 1980 may prove to be the final year for bookmobile service to the city of Oshkosh.

November 29, 1965

Monday morning Mike called at 11 and we decided to go overtown. I wanted to buy a pair of pants, and found what I wanted at Printz's. I also opened a Christmas club at the National Bank. After that we went home. Mike called a little later, and we went overtown again. Mike had to open a bank account and wanted me to come with him. When we came to the corner of 3rd and Liberty we saw Tillard and he came along with us. After Mike opened his account, we went to the Plaza and had a coke. Then we went up to the Y and picked up Cobby. We walked to Marino's and again got something to eat. John was the one who suggested all this since he wanted a cigarette. After that Mike and I went back to his house and John and Cobby went their way. To please Mike we went to the R&R (Q&Q) Fabric Shop. I nearly died laughing. I couldn't help myself. After supper I went to Beaty since the JV's were playing Mr. Vizza's Beaty squad. We won by a score of approximately 56-27.

Weekend Update

Andy made a special, not entirely unanticipated request early yesterday afternoon.

“Do you think you could drive me back to Milwaukee today?”

He had dropped a hint the previous day with a casual mention that Jack was “having dinner with his parents on Sunday”. Rather than drive his own car, Andy caught a ride with Jack, his former roommate for three years running who graduated from UW-Milwaukee last spring. Jack now works full time for Manpower in Milwaukee.

“I have a paper I need to work on at the library,” he explained. “We have a group project in my management class that’s due at the end of the end of next week and I need to finish writing my section
of it.”

Now out of college, Jack doesn’t have to worry about unfinished assignments or exams to study for, which is why he was content to return to his Milwaukee apartment late Sunday night in order to extend the visit with his parents. All he has to do is show up for work Monday morning.

“We’ll need to leave now instead of after the Badger game,” I responded. “I’d rather now have to drive back home when it’s dark. Especially since it’s going to be raining all day.”

“That’s fine,” Andy agreed.

JoAnna gave me an aggrieved look, telegraphing her dismay that a quiet, relaxing afternoon at home had just been derailed.

However, since Andy had already planted a seed, his little sprout of a request didn’t take me by surprise.

“Do you have a book to listen to?” JoAnna asked, “But then you can listen to the football game on the radio,” she quickly added.

[Sidebar. I’m on a Joyce Carol Oates kick right now – nearing the end of Black Girl White Girl, the fourth book I’ve “read” by her in the past two months. Oates is a prolific and very accomplished writer of novels, short stories, and poetry. I particularly admire the style and structure of her novels.]

“Actually, I’ll probably listen to an audiobook,” I said, “and check on the score of the game with my iPhone.”

On the second half of the rain-soaked drive to Milwaukee, Andy and I listened to the game, which didn’t get off to a particularly promising start after a bonehead Wisconsin penalty led to a Penn State touchdown. Fortunately, it was the only points the Badgers allowed their opponents to score.

Andy and I talked throughout the 90-minute drive – about sports (of course), his final year at UW-Milwaukee, preparing for job interviews, family reminiscences. I have to confess I felt somewhat conflicted about his decision to return to Milwaukee a day early. On the one hand, I was looking forward to another full day of family activity, even if we just hung out at home and watched TV, though JoAnna had suggested we go to a movie Saturday evening. Conversely, I’m heartened by his growing sense of independence. It wasn’t that long ago when he talked about returning home after graduating from college and finding a job in the Madison area, a not uncommon occurrence in today’s tough job market for new graduates. Not to mention most everyone else, for that matter. I think Jack’s example has helped Andy visualize his other options.

Eddie returned to his apartment this afternoon, but not before we went grocery shopping. Instead of going to a movie last night – after more than three hours of driving in less than ideal conditions, I preferred to stay put once I returned home – JoAnna and Eddie went shopping for shoes and miscellaneous items of clothing. No suits, though! Eddie’s “dress for success” period is at least another year away, although it’s very possible he will graduate from UW-Madison in May 2012. Unlike his brother, Eddie has graduate school in his plans.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

November 26, 2004

After Alice, Larry, and Albert left at 8:30 on Friday morning, JoAnna and I spent most of the rest of the day staying put, for the most part. We didn’t join the throngs at West Towne Mall or any other shopping center. It’s not as if the stores aren’t going to have any more sales for the rest of the year. With only the boys and each other left to shop for, we can take care of this section of our Christmas gift list when the aisles aren’t clogged with bug-eyed, drooling berserkos. Monday evenings are nice; it’s almost as if you have whatever store you’re in all to yourself.

I walked to the library at 9:00, having two reasons in mind for getting out of the house for awhile. First of all, I just wanted to get some exercise after Thanksgiving’s gluttony and lethargy. Secondly, I hoped to be able to make arrangements to take day off. I was scheduled for work at the reference desk for only three hours, from 3:00 to 6:00, which hardly seemed worth the effort. Fortunately, Liz and Pat were agreeable to splitting the 9 hours of coverage.

Except for a midafternoon excursion to buy groceries for our dinner party the following day, JoAnna and I spent the day reading, watching TV, and eating leftovers. JoAnna suggested I try an “easy-as-pie” recipe that had been demonstrated on The Today Show. Mix together turkey, stuffing, vegetables, and gravy. Press into a baking pan. Cover with a layer of mashed potatoes. Bake until the crust is a light golden brown. Even Eddie served himself a healthy portion for lunch. We had so much leftover food that I was able to make a second casserole on Sunday. JoAnna made a large pot of turkey soup with homemade noodles and, at Eddie’s request, a turkey pot pie. This last item was placed in the freezer so that we wouldn’t experience a severe case of turkey overload.

Andy was the only family member to have anything approaching an active day. He had a basketball practice from 10:00 until 12:00 and then played a “neighborhood” football game, a light rain falling the entire time, until the midafternoon. The lousy weather, with rain continuing well into the evening, is why JoAnna and I took a pass on a 45-minute walk through the Pheasant Branch nature preserve, one of our favorite exercise routes. As an alternative late-afternoon activity, I was unable to convince JoAnna to see a movie – Sideways, the artsy new movie by the director of About Schmidt. Some friends from out of town had planned to drop by during the evening, but they ended up attending a later showing of The Polar Express with their 2 young children and, as a result, rescheduled for Saturday morning.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Day After Thanksgiving 2006

Without any prompting, Andy was up at 4 o’clock Friday morning. In fact, he was showered, dressed, and ready to leave the house by the time we got out of bed, just long enough to see him off. No Black Friday crowds for us, thank you.

(Headline on the front page of today’s New York Times. Attention, Holiday Shoppers: We Have Fisticuffs in Aisle 2.)

Here’s a description of what took place when the Fashion Place Mall in Murray, Utah, opened its doors at midnight. Once inside, shoppers ransacked stores, overturning piles of clothes as they looked for bargains. A retailer’s dream – too many customers! – quickly turned into a nightmare, forcing store clerks to shut their doors, and only let people in after others left. The mall even briefly closed its outside doors to avoid a fire hazard.)

JoAnna and I did go shopping later in the day. By the late afternoon, the crowds had thinned out nicely. Except for the plethora of Christmas sale signs and merchandise, it really did seem like an ordinary shopping day at the stores we visited: Circuit City, Pier 1, Kohl’s, Williams Sonoma, Penney’s, and Target. We didn’t accomplish a whole lot, however. JoAnna bought Packer and Badger clothes for little Joseph, her nephew (and godson), and we found the perfect tablecloth and dish towels for our newly accented kitchen.

Eddie was disappointed to learn that leftovers were the extent of our supper menu.

“But it’s Friday,” he protested. “It’s supposed to be a take-out night.”

“Not on the day after Thanksgiving,” I noted.

In spite of working a 13-hour day, Andy remained energized through most of the evening. He went out to dinner with Gretchen and her family. I suppose with 31 people at their house for Thanksgiving, they had no leftovers. He went to bed at 10:00, needing to be refreshed for his 8:00 to 5:00 shift today. He should have a fairly substantial paycheck to cash next week. Hopefully, Mr. Hey Big Spender will remember to put a good chunk of it in his savings account.

The Day After Thanksgiving 1976

G & C. Merriam Co.
47 Federal Street
Springfield, MA

Friday was an extremely easy day at work. I spent most of the afternoon at the library. Half of the editorial staff had taken the day as a floating holiday leaving the office unusually quiet.

The Day After Thanksgiving 1970

On break from here, with not much to say.

Visit Mrs. P[eroksi], spend most of the day at Barb [Lucia]'s.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day 2004

JoAnna and I always give up our bedroom when her parents visit. With Uncle Albert assigned to Eddie’s room, and Eddie moved in with his brother, that left the two of us with the family room, where we slept on an inflatable mattress with a built-in, battery-operated pump. It beats sleeping directly on the floor, though after the first tossing-and-turning night, I wasn’t sure by how much. (Last night was a big improvement.) Eddie joined us on the couch, probably because his sprawling brother refused to share his bed, demanding that he sleep on the floor instead.

Thanksgiving morning, it took some careful maneuvering on my part to attain a fully upright, standing position. I feared that the pain in my lower back might incapacitate me, an unpleasant circumstance that I’ve been able to avoid for quite some time now. (Thursday night I took a Bayer back and body pain capsule and experienced an almost unbroken night’s sleep.)
JoAnna blocked my way and raised her face up to mine as I walked through the kitchen on my way to the bathroom.

“You don’t want to kiss me now,” I warned. “I have the worst taste in my mouth. I really need to brush my teeth.”

“Romantic” is definitely not one of the first adjectives that my wife would use to describe herself in the morning.

After JoAnna and her dad returned from 9 o’clock mass, the Thanksgiving dinner preparations began in earnest, though I had very little to do with them. I took a lazy approach to the holiday, stretching out on the couch in the family room, where Eddie and I did our father-son Bond-ing with Thunderball. To me – and Eddie heartily agrees – Sean Connery is the only true 007.

The adults played cards during the first half of the afternoon. Our game of choice has a variety of names – “Down and Up the River”, the most cumbersome, is the only one that comes to mind. During the first hand, everyone is dealt 10 cards. Trump is designated by turning over the top card of what’s left of the deck. Each player then bids on how many tricks he or she will take. A total of 20 hands are played in the following sequence: 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10. As often as I’ve played this game, I’ve never understand how to keep score.
Wednesday’s online poll asked the following question: What is your favorite part of Thanksgiving? Three choices were offered: food, parades, football.

And the percentages? 82%, 5%, and 13%.

No surprises there.

During the morning, the kitchen TV was tuned to the Macy’s parade, but nobody paid it much attention. From the bits and pieces I caught, the broadcast appeared to be a moveable stage of lip-synching acts with major-league kid appeal.

During our card game, we flipped back and forth between Bond and football, but nobody was much interested in watching the Colts embarrass the hapless Lions on their home field.

All of us would have voted for “food” as being our favorite part of the day.

Considering our menu, I don’t see how it could have been otherwise.

Roast Turkey
Whipped Potatoes
Oven-Baked Dressing
Baby Carrots
String Beans
Pureed Yams Served in Orange Cups
Relish Tray
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Pecan Pie

With so much food, the relish tray remained untouched for the most part. I concentrated on the turkey, potatoes, and dressing, with gravy drizzled over all three hefty portions.

Larry ate three helping of dressing and then was ready to go straight to dessert. No wonder his stomach protrudes so far beyond the waist of his pants.

Everyone was in an extremely lethargic mood after dinner, so much so that we didn’t even play cards. In fact, Alice went to bed at 9:00, followed shortly thereafter by Larry and Albert.

Thanksgiving Day 1979

Except for the two years in California (1971) and Montana (1974), I have always spent Thanksgiving with family or relatives. Barb and I showed great foresight not breaking tradition this year. I thoroughly enjoyed myself today.

I woke up too late to attend church with Ruth and Rudy, thus missing an opportunity to see Pastor Lavelle and his wife again. About ten minutes before eleven, I walked over to Salem church, figuring that by the time I walked the three blocks to get there, the special Thanksgiving morning service would be letting out. Somebody's timing was off. Not feeling like standing around, I continued my walk to Broadway looking for a drug store that sold newspapers. I found a coin-operated vending machine instead.

I woke up too late to attend church with Ruth and Rudy, thus missing an opportunity to see Pastor Lavelle and his wife again. About ten minutes before eleven, I walked over to Salem church, figuring that by the time I walked the three blocks to get there, the special Thanksgiving morning service would be letting out. Somebody's timing was off. Not feeling like standing around, I continued my hine instead.

Ruth had planned to serve dinner at 1:30, but we didn't sit down until 2:00. They were eighteen altogether: Ruth and Rudy; Gregg, Joyce, Marie, and Amy; Mim, Tom, and Rachel; Ford and June; Signe and George; Min and Lila; Ruthie, Barb, and myself.

After dinner, Tom, Barb, Gregg, and I played cribbage (partners). Tom and I stunned Gregg and Barb three games in a row. In fact, except for the last games, I always helped my partner to victory. Never before have I played cribbage so well. Lucky cards, Paul. Don't kid yourself.

Genevieve experienced seizures Tuesday and was immediately admitted to Swedish-American Hospital. Ruth, Ruthie, Signe and I went to visit her earlier this evening. She was sitting up and looked quite good. Ruth had been talking about Genevieve's series of violent seizures two years ago. (That must have been around the time of Frank's death.) Neither Barb nor I realized how devastating these seizures were. The consensus is that only a miracle kept Genevieve alive. Her seizures at this time were nearly constant. I remember the only time I saw Genevieve have one of her seizures. The Starks (Min, Lila, and Gen) were visiting in Warren shortly after we moved there from Great Falls. It happened while Gen and I were sitting at the kitchen table. Perhaps we were playing cards. One thing I remember with perfect clarity is how completely calm Lila was. She knew from experience just exactly what needed to be done. Although I didn't show it, I was totally freaked out. I must have worn a queer look on my face that gave away a hint of my fear. Nothing expressed the terror that was churning my insides. I had never seen anything like this happen to a person. The following summer, while we were vacationing in the Rockford area, I can remember practically hugging the car door handle, ready to jump out at the slightest sign of a convulsion, because I was stuck with sitting next to Genevieve in the front seat. The idiocies of ignorance.

Thanksgiving Day 1975

Thanksgiving was a pleasant holiday this year, no more no less. Gen fixed quite a spread for the main meal. Unlike the past few Thanksgivings, I ate past the point of comfort. After I finished my first plate, I had considered refusing seconds, but Gen gave me look which relayed the message to me that she would be insulted if I didn't eat anymore. So I served myself very moderate second helpings of turkey, squash, and salad, knowing it to be a mistake but feeling a foolish obligation to get this extra food down. My stomach punished me for this polite gluttony to the point where I had to refuse dessert. Later in the afternoon, to relieve a stagnant feeling in my stomach, I joined Ed, Gen, and Edna for a walk in the woods. I stayed for supper but left shortly thereafter, though I had no other engagements for the evening.

Thanksgiving Day 1965

Thursday morning I got up at 10. I got dressed and went downstairs. Mom, Dad, Gen [Mom's younger sister, from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts], and Ed [Gen's husband] were eating breakfast in the dining room. The kids were in the living room. It was nice to everyone again. When I saw Johnny I didn't notice much change in him, but he's four now and it was 2 years ago when I last saw him so there had to be some change. Later in the morning we all went up to Rimrock [Overlook in the Allegheny National Forest]. It was the second annual trip. Mom stayed behind and fixed dinner. We also stopped at the dam, so Ed and Gen could see what it was like. At Rimrock we walked all over the place. Dinner was soon ready when we got home and it was the usual Thanksgiving feast.  Mike [best friend] called in the evening and later debating over where we should go, we went to the show. Our other choice was the dance at the high school. Elvis Presley's newest movie, Harem Scarem, was on and it was real good, as all his movies are.

Go Pack! Beat the Lions!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Day Before Thanksgiving 2009

We made near-record time completing the trip from Middleton to Warren: 11 hours and 15 minutes. Although we spotted numerous state police cruisers along the way – most of them with their lights flashing, the officer having pulled someone over – their presence had no deterring effect on drivers’ determination to exceed the speed limit. The flow of traffic in Ohio average 80 miles per hour. In fact, along a stretch along I-90 between Cleveland and Erie. I let the speedometer needle approach 90 miles per hour and didn’t gain any ground on the vehicles ahead of us.

Weather conditions improved during this portion of the trip. After a day of on-and-off rain, the sky turned clear by the time we reached Erie, and the temperature topped out at 53°. Wisconsin isn’t the only state to experience an unusually mild winter.

Both Dale’s and Mom’s faces were visible through the kitchen window once we reached the end of the driveway at 5:45 p.m. (EST). Mom appeared to do a double-take, as though she couldn’t believe what her eyes were seeing. That was probably due to my telling her to expect us between 6:00 and 7:00.

The eight of us – Larry and Kim joined us shortly after our arrival – sat around the dining room table for the meal that Mom prepared. At 89, she’s as competent as ever in the kitchen. And she never requests nor requires any assistance, though we do volunteer to help with the clean-up.

1953 Chevrolet Ad Paired with 1906 Cable Car Ride Video

The Day Before Thanksgiving 1999

I called home at 3:15 to check in on Eddie.

“Hello,” said Alice in her gravely voice, the residue of more than forty years of smoking cigarettes.

“Well, hi!” I said, expressing genuine surprise. “When did you get in?”

“Ten minutes ago,” she responded.

“Is Eddie home?”

“He just walked into the house.”

Then Alice asked if there was anything she could do to start the preparations for tomorrow’s feast. She specifically mentioned cutting up celery for the dressing. I told her I’d call JoAnna at work to see what needed to be done first. I ended up leaving her a voice mail message.

There was a pile of sliced celery stalks when I returned home. Alice and JoAnna were on the same wavelength.

But I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself.

JoAnna called me minutes before I left the library.

“Could you pick up some Karo dark syrup on your way home?”

“Sure. I was planning to stop at Sentry anyway. Andy wanted me to get some ranch dressing, the regular kind, and we also need some V-8 and cranberry juice.” Andy gave a big thumbs-down to the fat-free Hidden Valley Ranch that he poured over his salad the other night, complaining that it tasted like glue.

I also told her that I was planning to leave work early so I could get a haircut, my first since I shaved off my beard.

When I parked in front of Great Clips, I looked through the windows and saw at least four people sitting in chairs, paging through magazines, waiting for their names to be called.

Might be a bit of a wait, I thought.

I walked inside and approached the counter.

“How long is the waiting list?” I asked a woman who had just hung up the phone.

“About 20 minutes.”

I gave her my name and then drove to Sentry, where I found everything but the Karo syrup. There was an open space on the display shelf, with a little sign noting that the item was on sale. I guess a significant number of other households will be having pecan pie for dessert on Thanksgiving.

I didn’t think I’d have enough time to check the shelves at Kohl’s, another grocery store in the same area of Middleton. Good thinking. My name was called less than a minute after I returned to Great Clips.

As soon as I could see the tops of my ears again, the woman cutting my hair was called to the front counter. She received a delivery of flowers, an arrangement of a dozen roses, all of them a different color. Did my eyes deceive me or are there indeed that many different varieties of roses?

“It’s not my birthday,” she said as she placed the flowers on a neighboring counter.

“So what is the occasion?” I asked playfully.

“I don’t know. I have no idea who they’re from,” she replied and then picked up a pair of scissors and a comb and resumed her work.

“Am I taking enough off?” she asked about my haircut, which make me wonder if she was purposely trying to change the subject.

I studied my reflection in the large wall mirror. Even with my beard, having my hair cut short always made me look younger. “You could probably take off another half inch,” I suggested.

This “50” thing is getting me too obsessed with my appearance. My unspoken personal goal seems to be anything to look less than 40. I’m striving for Jack Benny’s eternal 39.

The Day Before Thanksgiving 1980

  9:40      First consciousness.  What did I fall asleep to last night?  Camel.  Side 2 of Moonmadness.  Didn't last long.

10:00      Even though I'm ready to do a wash, I hesitate to leave yet.  Do        a little cleanup -- specifically, the kitchen floor.  On my hands and knees with a washcloth.

11:00      Barb returns from her trip to the laundromat.  Just as I figured.  Now it's my turn.

11:40      Western Car Wash on Witzel.  I'm too lazy to do it myself, altho it's the perfect fall day for such a task.  Clear skies and a temperature approaching forty degrees.

11:50      Bank, Mueller-Potter (to buy a Tribune), Park Plaza (to buy a New York Times at Paper Tiger since the first stop had sold out), post office, and the library (to call the Clem Williams film company to check on their return policy.)

12:30      Laundry time.  Read the papers to pass the time.  Cute little girl, maybe 15-18 months old, responded to the smiles I shot at her.

1:45 Bought the fixin's for potato pancakes. Made too much batter, as usual.
3:00 Tummy filled, kitchen cleaned, it's now time for smoke some drugs.

Music --

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, the Who.

A dim late afternoon light suffuses the living room

3:50 Joe Pass.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Tuesday Before Thanksgiving 1976

I am enduring another afternoon when frequently my head becomes nearly too heavy to hold up. To keep myself alert, I spend a half hour reading and marking followed by a similar time period tying up catalog cards. After I finish this entry I will return to my reading.

During the past couple weeks, I have considered revising my old resume during my Christmas vacation. In that way I would have free access to the mimeograph machine at the church. Until today, I felt there would be no problem encountered in this revision, until I focused on the question of references. If I am going to look for a new job surreptitiously while still working at G. & C., what three names am I going to be able to give as references. Without question, it will be impossible to include Fred or Miss Kay on the list. I suppose I could always fall back on my GSLIS folder. Not clear as to the advisability of that approach, I should drop Grant a line to see if he would proffer any helpful recommendations. Since I only worked for a month at Warren Public, it would be a bit presumptuous of me to ask Ann Lesser. That leaves the two obvious alternatives: Mrs. Jacobs and Dick. Mrs. J is still at the State Library in Helena and I'm sure she would consent to writing a letter for me. Dick, on the other hand, seems to have disappeared temporarily. Maybe Connie knows where he is. Until I do update my resume, I would suggest in the meantime that letters be sent to those individuals who would most likely be willing to write me a recommendation. In that way, when I approach the actual retyping, I can be quite specific from first point to last.

The Tuesday Before Thanksgiving 1973

On the way home, I picked up this girl hitchhiker on Bayard and drove her as far as Negley. It was a very humanitarian deed since it was getting uncomfortably close to five, and the chances of getting massacred in the 5:00 rush hour were rapidly increasing. During the day, Mel's fondue party was constantly on my mind; still, I was not inclined to attend. After a PBJ muffin, I went to GSLIS and put in my three hours for the day. I brought my radio along, and that helped to pass the time immensely. When I thought it to be nearly 7:00, it turned out to be twenty of eight, which left me twenty minutes to get to the Guild Theater for the two Fellini films, Satyricon and Roma.

I neglected to mention the impression of my drive from North Hills to downtown Pittsburgh in the early part of the afternoon. The effect was extraordinary in that I felt I was cruising down Harbor Blvd. through Costa Mesa heading towards Newport Beach. The same hill and slant of the roadway, the same gaudy strip of stores and restaurants. The similarity was far from identical but enough to cause a definite feeling of deja vu. Heading towards Pittsburgh, there was no ocean to be met, just a miniature Manhattan. During the afternoon I was in two places three thousand miles apart and really experienced the effect of their spectral presence.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Turkey and Black Bean Chili Followed by Parent-Child Connections

After nearly a year of operation, JoAnna and I finally joined the Willy Street Food Co-op, which opened its second store in the space formerly occupied by Walgreen’s in Middleton’s Parkview Plaza. It’s located a mere 2½ blocks from our house. What could be more convenient for grocery shopping? Why didn’t we take advantage of it sooner?

JoAnna and I were under the mistaken impression that all of their produce, meat, and other food products were significantly, even wildly more expensive than the standard grocery stores where we tend to shop – Metcalfe’s, Cub, Woodman’s. For some reason, that’s the impression I walked away with early this year after my first visit there. And I can’t recall what items I inspected that led me to this conclusion.

We have yet to make any major purchases there, i.e., enough to fill a grocery cart, but starting this weekend, I’ve treated the placed like the local corner grocery store of my youth.

“Dang, I forgot to buy garlic cloves,” I exclaimed late yesterday morning after JoAnna and I had returned home from a shopping trip at Metcalfe’s.

I needed a single clove of garlic for a turkey and black bean chili recipe I was preparing for the first time. It was given to me this spring, upon request, by the Administrative Assistant of the Menasha Public Library, who prepared it for a staff potluck lunch. A very tasty and filling entrĂ©e, one that’s very appropriate for this time of year when the days get cooler and shorter.

“You can use garlic powder,” JoAnna suggested.

“No, I prefer to follow the ingredients as they’re listed in the recipe,” I said.

While I was at the co-op, I also picked up a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, also called for in the recipe. My initial plan was to substitute diced tomatoes, which would have resulted in a much less hearty turkey black bean soup. Glad I decided to be fussy.

As for the outcome…….we have another keeper, just like the White Chicken Chili I first tried last year. Now it’s a regular item on the menu from October to April.

Later in the day, JoAnna joined me on a return trip to the food coop. I needed a green pepper for the meat loaf I prepared ahead of time for tonight’s supper. Then about an hour ago, I walked there again to purchase a bag of four small whole wheat dinner rolls and a small baguette. I’ll use one half of the baguette each day for the meat loaf sandwich I’m eating for lunch tomorrow and Wednesday.

Just call me Mr. Menu Planner.

I sent the following text message to JoAnna last Friday afternoon.

Andy won’t be home this weekend. Will attend a supply chain jobs forum later day. It’s also the weekend his lacrosse team makes a presentation to request school funding for the spring season.

And I confess to composing the message with a slight sense of disappointment, a feeling that I’m sure JoAnna shared as she read it. We had both been looking forward to spending some time with Andy, even though we’ve already seen him a few times this fall. That’s certainly more times than my parents saw me when I was in my last year of college. During my four years at Buffalo, a two-hour bus ride from Warren, I usually went home only when the campus shut down: Thanksgiving, Christmas (winter break), and spring break (which generally coincided with Easter). After high school graduation, I no longer spent summers at home. Now that I’m a parent, I’d feel forlorn if Andy and Eddie were the infrequent visitor home that I was. I never talked to my parents about their feelings when I first left home for college and then, as it developed, when I seemed content to keep myself at a distance from Warren, although, in my defense, I did write and call them on a regular basis. It’s not as though I turned my back on my family. I was just intently focused on building a life of my own – on my own.