Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tales From the Customer Service Desk

My friend Stacy, who works at the customer service desk, has been telling me stories. Some of them are just too good not to share.


An elderly lady called the service desk and asked if we'd gotten any more corn in. Stacy assured her that we had.

Caller: That's good. You know, we looked at your corn the other day and there's something wrong with it. Did you know it's white?

Stacy: Yes, ma'am. It's white corn. It's supposed to be white.

Caller: White corn? I've never heard of such a thing. And it was so hard! I went over there and poked at it, and you know, I just don't think I could have chewed it.

Stacy: . . . you do know that you have to cook it first, right?

She didn't. She said she'd never heard of such a thing. Stacy gave her directions for boiling it. She (Stacy) said she wasn't about to try to tell her how to grill it.


A man called wanting advice about his "two stage, sit down transformer", but he didn't know what department he needed. Stacy didn't know what a two stage, sit down transformer was. He said it was "a thing". She asked him what he uses it for. He said "all kinds of stuff".


A lady called and told Stacy that she's nursing and she's developed a rash. She wanted to know if there's an anti-histimine she can take while breastfeeding. (We really need better health care in this country!)


A teenage girl called to ask if she could re-use old earrings to get her ears pierced rather than buy a new kit. Stacy told her no, sorry, against health regulations. The girl said, "but I'm trying to do it at home and it's bleeding and it hurts!" (Heather in jewelry claims this is not an unusual request, btw.)

and FIVE

A woman called. She found a little blue pill on her bathroom floor. She didn't know what it was and wanted to know whether or not she should take it.

Like a Rocket to Heaven

Last Sunday promising young Warsaw, Missouri, sprint car driver Jesse "The Rocket" Hockett won his third race in three days. Last Wednesday, while preparing his trailer for a busy schedule of Memorial Day weekend races, he died in a freak electrical accident. He was only 27 and had just been married a matter of months.

I didn't know Jesse, though I'm sure I've seen him hundreds of times. His mother and grandmother-in-law, however, are both friends and co-workers. I'd like to extend to both of them, and to all his friends and family members, my deepest condolences.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Things I Keep Telling People

. . . in case they come in handy for anyone reading this.

1. Unlike many other fruits, strawberries do not ripen further after picking. If you buy green bananas they will last longer. If you buy green strawberries they will still be green when you either eat them or throw them away. Generally darker berries will be sweeter. You can tell that strawberries are going bad if there's mold (of course) or if they're starting to get drippy.

2. When buying corn on the cob, a dry husk does not necessarily mean the corn is bad. Look for plump kernels without dimples. The cob should be filled out all the way to the end. A fat, heavy ear of corn is better than a slender, lightweight ear.

The sugar in sweet corn begins to turn to starch the instant it's picked, so the less time between picking and cooking the better. You can't always tell fresher corn by looking. The bright, pretty green ears of corn just out of the produce cooler might be every bit as old as the ones that have been sitting out on the sales floor for three days while the husk turned papery. Your best bet is to find out where the corn is from. Corn that was grown close to wherever you are will always be better than corn that has been shipped in from far away.

Finally, if you are putting ears of corn into a plastic bag, especially one of the thin ones at the supermarket, put the corn tassel side down and it will not slice a hole in the bag.

3. When buying watermelons, the rind should be firm and not have any give to it. Yellow on the melon means it remained in the field long enough for the sugars to start coming through the rind. The more yellow, the sweeter the melon will be. Don't thump it for sound while it's laying down, or on a pile of melons. It will pick up the tones from its surroundings. Pick it up and give it a solid rap with the tips of your fingers. You will not be able to tell anything by slapping it gently, as I see so many people do. What you're listening for is a good, hollow tone like a drum. I like for watermelons to sound with a medium C or B flat tone, maybe a D. It should echo. The more high-pitched the tone, the greener the melon. The deeper the tone, the riper the melon. If it just gives a dull "thud" then the melon is overripe and the flesh will be mushy. Usually, by this time, the rind is starting to go soft as well.

4. If you're buying fruit that is pre-packed in a plastic bag and if it's not cold, avoid buying fruit that has moisture droplets inside the bag. If the bag has just been brought into a warm room from a cooler, the moisture is probably just condensation. But if the bag is room temperature and there is moisture, it means something in the bag is going bad.

5. Granny Smith and Jonathon are classic baking apples; however, you can cook with almost any variety of apple except Red Delicious. It has a high water content and will turn to mush when heated.

6. If you need potassium and don't like/can't get bananas, never fear. A serving of kiwifruit (two fruits) has more potassium than a medium banana and also more vitamin C than a grapefruit.

7. When buying grapes, the rule of thumb is that darker is sweeter. Red is sweeter than white/green and black is sweeter than red.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cats are weird!

Okay, so after absolutely detesting the kittens from the day they were born, Layla has suddenly decided she loves the baby kitties. Right now she's crammed herself into an empty Dr. Pepper box and is slapping playfully at Helios and Foggy through the holes. This morning she was sleeping with Persephone and a little while ago she was cuddling the mother cat (Portia) while Portia was feeding the babies.

People are weird too. I've been reading emails people sent to a Missouri ghost hunting group, sharing their stories. I keep seeing (about different places) "this was once part of the underground railroad and the tunnels used to run under all of those houses . . ." Folks, if you don't know this, the underground railroad was, for the most part, not actually underground. Also, there generally weren't real trains involved.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The crowds come back

I was three when I moved from Oregon to Missouri with my parents. It was early April and several of my older siblings stayed behind with my aunt and uncle to finish out the school year. Aunt Clem was unhappy that we were moving so far away and told my brothers and sisters horror stories about Missouri - that it was an uncivilized backwoods region filled with uneducated hillbillies. She said all the houses were like Jed Clampett's shack and no one had electricity or indoor plumbing.

The stories seem ridiculous now, but apparently my youngest brother, Danny (he would have been 12) believed them implicitly. They came on in late May or early June and had only been here a day or two when he ran in the house at twilight, all excited and upset. "Dad," he said, "you'd better come outside! I don't know what's going on, but there's a whole crowd of men down on the road with little bitty flashlights!"

There are no fireflies in Oregon, of course.

I was the one drafted to catch some and prove to my disbelieving brother that there really were bugs out there whose butts light up. All these decades later I still remember that story every year when the lightning bugs return. They're back now, fourth this year after daffodils (always first), tree frogs, and early purple iris. Next will come the whippoorwills and then it will be summer for sure.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Night at the Laundromat

When I made my weekly foray into Clinton, to the Laundromat tonight, I wasn't expecting there to be a young man there practicing his guitar. His singing wasn't the greatest (he'd probably improve greatly with a little self-confidence and maybe some breath control lessons), but he could carry a tune and his guitar playing was fantastic. The Laundromat has two televisions, which are kept tuned to some country music cable channel, so I always look forward to Mondays with trepidation. Running into Guitar Man was a definite treat and MUCH better than Extreme Home Makeover (which, seriously! Do they just show the same episode every week? There's always some skinny guy acting insane, then they knock down a house, then they build stuff and then a bunch of people cry.)

Unfortunately, Guitar Man brought along (or perhaps simply attracted) Harmonica Old Guy. Harmonica Old Guy accompanied Guitar Man on his harmonica. Except he couldn't play it. Guitar Man is playing Stairway To Heaven and Free Bird and Harmonica Old Guy is interjecting a high-pitched screech at irregular intervals. Then Harmonica Old Guy confided in me that he can't sing and then he proceded to prove it.

And he wouldn't stop!

He couldn't carry a tune and he didn't know the words (he kept singing "a wretch like me" but not in any way that you'd recognize as being part of Amazing Grace) and he wouldn't shut up! Guitar Man put up his guitar and busied himself with his cell phone and I'm stuck there with a phony smile on my face listening to this guy mumble random lyrics in the tune of "Fingernail on chalkboard". And you know, it's times like this that I really regret that my mother didn't raise me to be someone who can look a stranger in the eye and say, "you know what? You're right! You DO suck! Now do us all a favor and shut the fuck up!"


I'm a Grandma!

This is Mommy Portia with Fog, Helios and Persephone. Fog (the grey baby of course) and Helios, the dark gold, are tom kittens. The pale gold is Persephone.

Church and State

There's been a lot of talk recently about separation of church and state. As much as I sympathize with the freedom from religion groups, I'd like to point out that a complete and total separation is never going to be possible.

You see, as long as you have politicians you're going to need some form of religion so you can say, **"Oh, my GOD! What in the hell do those damned fools think they're doing? I swear! There isn't one of them who has the sense God gave a chicken! They all claim to be on the side of the angels, but who needs demons when you've got congress? I guess all we can do is pray that the Devil takes the lot of them before they send the whole country to hell in a handbasket!"

**Please feel free to substitute the language of any other religion of your choice.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mummified Baby Stolen

I can't decide which part of this story is weirder!

CONCORD, N.H. – The mummified body of a baby, kept by a family for nearly a century before a judge ordered the remains to be buried, has been removed from a cemetery, police said Tuesday.

. . .

Thomas said the police believe the grave was disturbed over the weekend. After seeing evidence of grave-tampering, investigators got a search warrant to exhume the site and found the casket, but not the remains, he said. He said many people have been interviewed and declined to name any suspects.
. . .

Relatives had treated the mummified infant as a family member, giving it cards during holidays and a dried fish as a pet.