Friday, November 30, 2007
Work has not been smooth sailing lately. Nothing specific, just a combination of things. I have not had the usual spring in my step and first one in and last one to leave spirit lately.
Today started out to be the same. I raced in to work, with seconds to spare. I attended a meeting that I thought was ridiculous and a bit of an ambush - and I'm afraid that I didn't do a good job of hiding my feelings and impatience. Part of of the ants-in-my-pantsiness was that the wheels were falling off the place. Not one of the nine heating units was working - seriously, what are the odds? We had one of our busiest catering days ever and the catering director and I were in the meeting. Today was graduation day for the students and we'd soon have 120 guests in the building.
I sprinted out of the meeting in to the fray of the day. The HVAC problem was so dramatic the owner of the company was on our roof with his workmen when I stuck my head up there. I spent time in the kitchen helping to made 150 box lunches, loaded up the van and ran to my office to check messages. My phone rang and I croaked out (I have laryngitis) a greeting. It was the mayor's office, asking what time the deputy mayor needed to be there for his gig as the graduation speaker. I replied "noon" and there was a long pause at the other end, "Okay, I'll try to get him there." Crap. The next telephone call was the minister slated to give the invocation - not coming. Holy Crap.
I looked at the agenda on my desk and realized that the DM was not scheduled until 1:00, called the mayor's office back and told her 12:45 would be fine for DM's arrival. She seem relieved and I mentally put the DM back on my Christmas card list.
Talked to the HVAC guys and learned that a power surge or something had fried parts of all of the units, heating and air-conditioning. Asked what the chances of getting the unit over the dining room going. They managed it with a zip tie, toggle switch and me saying the Rosary as I ran around.
On one of my sweeps through the kitchen snagged a volunteer to do the invocation. I've spoken at his church the last two years and he was happy to do it.
My dear sister Beth helps us with graduation logistics. The men living in one of the homeless missions volunteer to be the servers. She and I had a quick exchange of information in sibling shorthand, I gave her the agenda and off I went. I swung back by a few minutes later when it dawned on me that the men were not there yet. Double Crap.
Beth was doing a great job of getting 120 salads and desserts on the tables using the students. I plopped a few on the tables, made a phone call and learned the guys were on the way. The lobby was filling up with guests, but I didn't want anyone seated until the tables were all set. I gave the 'thumbs up' at 11:55 and the crowd poured in. The volunteer servers arrived and they looked like a motley crew. Typically they are dressed in white shirts for this event and look a little more presentable. They was wearing sweat pants and lots of cologne. I stopped to thank them as I walked by, and one of the men said "Hello Nora." I said hello back to LL and snapped by head back - wow! LL was a guy that was living on the street years ago and I'd helped out a little bit, letting him stash his stuff at the coffeehouse and visited him at the hospital. I had not seen him in years. He looked great and was in a year long Life program at the mission. He pulled me aside and told me how much my friendship meant to him. Wow.
The graduation was in full swing, I took my plate to the reception desk to wait for DM (you need to be buzzed in to the building). He arrived in the nick of time and did a great job. He said something really cool during his talk. He called me one of his spiritual advisors. He said he always does what ever I ask him to, and it is always a worthy cause. Wow.
Sometimes I need those obvious signs to remind me why my job and involvement in the community are important. In this case it was a guy with a teardrop tattoo under his eye, the DM was icing on the cake.
Here's a bonus photograph, DM playing a Madonna's Borderline at the Tonic Ball.
...and I think I lead a bit of a double life....
Monday, November 26, 2007
It is my favorite day of the year. The day that I feel the most complete. A day of generosity, good will, community and music. It is the one day of the year where almost everything that I hold dear is in one place. The day when I feel the most like myself.
This year I was also a financial sponsor. When I committed to it this summer, I was feeling flush. Pre-mortage. Before I knew that I had to empty my savings account for the down payment. But when I wrote the check for $1000 it felt good - because I was giving 'til it hurt and I knew the money would be used wisely.
We got to set up all of the back-line equipment at Radio Radio on Thursday night, which was a huge weight off of my shoulders. That saved a lot of scrambling before the show on Friday.
Tonic Week started off in a great way with the Barfly cartoon. On Tonic Ball morning WTTS (a local radio station) arraigned to have Mick Jones of the Clash give a message to the Tonic Ball musicians, “don’t murder his songs.” It was really cool and he talked about Second Helpings and how great he thought the Tonic Ball is.
I worked most of the day and ran home to change. I was nervous about it, but I wore a short black dress, fishnets, biker boots and the same black (heavy in weight and with zippers) leather jacket that I wore twenty-five years ago.
The Tonic Gallery was a blast. The bench that Dad made sold right away for $400, the “buy it now” bid price.
The Tonic Ball was a blast. Over 600 people poured in to the two venues. The enthusiasm was palatable. I got to be in my best “Nora” mode – project management. Making sure bands were in the right place, volunteers were doing their thing and everything was relatively on time. I got to run around like a nut for a good cause.
Tons of my friends (bloggers included – Kim, Bad Influence Girl and Jerry) were there. Another friend from Evansville surprised me by coming down. Dean emceed the Madonna room and did a great job – even introducing me from stage and announcing that I was single (I don’t know if I could have blushed any harder). I got to announce the bands in the Clash room a few times. It is such a rush to hear all of those people cheering for something as simple as “I’m Nora Spitznogle, director of operations for Second Helpings and I have the best job in the world.”
The icing on the cake was when Barfly gave me the artwork from the Tonic Ball cartoon.
Yes, it is the day that I feel the most like myself.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
I spent the day wandering, shopping, swimming, napping, watching television and reading.
Everything but writing my column.
I'm staying at a hotel that I love, I discovered it last year. Staying an extra day is a great way to ease myself back in to the real world. I've also learned that it is nice to have a decompression day after six days with the kiddies and parents.
Cable television, pool, wireless Internet access, a bathroom bigger than my bedroom at home and cool furnishings.
I may never leave.
Okay -- I'm going to start writing...now...in a minute...just one more chapter...hey what is on HBO?...maybe I'll just sent my alarm and get up early...
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I had a horrible headache for almost 24 hours. I finally caved-in and slept for several hours this afternoon.
Another great day of doing a bunch of nothing.
Pool this morning, 3 hour nap and spent hours transferring content from my music Web site to my new music site.
We had dinner at the Island Cow. The biggest source of argument among the children is who gets to sit where in the car. It would be easy to figure out, but the prime seat changes from trip to trip. My nephew had a bit of a meltdown so we stayed in the van a bit longer to calm down while everyone else jumped out to wait for our table. We sat in the very back of the van and I cranked up the music. I taught him to play air guitar to the Southern rock song that was on the radio.
I think he has a future in playing pretend instruments!
Friday, November 23, 2007
Another wonderful day of walking, swimming and eating.
Lots and lots of eating.
As a restaurant person I'm always trying to get a peek in to the kitchen.
I've been lucky enough to sit by the kitchen several times this trip.
I've had fun explaining line cooking and expediting to my nephew.
There are nine of us when we go out to eat and I always remember what everyone ordered. The night we ate the Mucky Duck (where I also bought a tee shirt and shorts to wear until my luggage arrived) I was sitting right outside the kitchen with John on my lap. Our order was almost ready and I was ticking off the items and the people that ordered them. John got nervous when the expeditor laid down the ticket and his pasta with butter was not with the other eight dinners. I told him that the waitress would call for it when she was ready to serve the meals. John was so impressed when I waitress walked by and yelled "one kid pasta."
Today we had lunch at Gramma Dot's. The restaurant did not open until 11:30 and the porch was full of people waiting at 11:15. By 11:35 the place was full and they were on a wait. The kitchen is partially open. I could see the three cooks in the sparking clean kitchen. The servers slammed them with orders and they cranked it out. Everyone was feed in 15 minutes! When the cooks tossed down the last ticket I caught the eye of one of them and gave them a thumbs up. I really like the place and could picture working there. Does everyone do that on vacation? Fantasize about chucking it all away and moving. Of course the folks that dream of waitressing on a island are probably not already waitresses in real life.
I also pay extra attention to the menu and kitchens because I'm allergic to shellfish. Understandably, they serve a ton of shellfish around here, so I'm extra careful about what I order. I know how things get so mixed up in the frenzy of a busy restaurant kitchen. I've eaten a lot of burgers since I've been here.
Tonight we ate at the Lazy Flamingo.
I really like the place - just six tables, no waitresses and some people bring in their own fish to have the cooks fry up. When you order from the bartender he sticks your ticket in a clip attached to a clothsline and whizzes it back to the kitchen.
I always feel bad about ordering a children's meal from a waitress, even though I really want (and can eat) a grilled cheese. Since we ordered from the bartender I thought I could get away with a kid meal. It was delicious - mac and cheese, potato chips and Oreo cookies. The fact that it was served on a Frisbee was a bonus. Everyone else's clam chowder and shrimp laden meals looked great also.
It is a beautiful evening. It's not very often that I get to see the full moon though a palm tree.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Another gorgeous day on Sanibel Island.
I'm wearing my own clothes (although I was getting attached to that dress), I walked on the beach this morning looking for shells and swam this afternoon. I got to spend the whole day with my family and ate an amazing Thanksgiving dinner.
Clearly I have a lot to be thankful for. And not just for this vacation - I lead a good life.
But enough about that.
I've been chasing someone around the complex for the last three days. I first noticed him last year and I was thrilled to see him again.
I have not dared to talk to him directly. I snapped a few photographs with my lens stretched out as far as it would go and by lining the kids up in front of him and instructing them to duck when I said "cheese."
What does this mystery man posses that makes me sneak behind palm trees to get closer to him? And make Jamie Dawn proud?
The most glorious mullet that I have ever seen.
These photographs do not do his hair-do any justice.
The back of his hair is long - down to the middle of his back.
I'll work on sneaking up behind him tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
A lovely day here in paradise.
I'm staying with brother J.R., his lovely wife Anna and my niece and nephew. Cousin Jim and his wife Karen and their two daughters are also staying at the same complex.
The nine of us spent all day on a boat; belonging to Captain Sonny.
He tooled us around Sanibel and Captiva Islands.
We saw dolphins!
They followed the boat for quite awhile.
We stopped at a beach to look for shells. I jumped in with the kids and the big boys - and my camera. I swam to shore holding it above my head.
The kids found lots of shells and searched for the ever popular and elusive sand dollar.
We stopped at Cabbage Key for lunch. There is a beautiful old wooden water tower and observation deck. I'm afraid of heights, so I opted out of walking up.
I got to sit on the front of the boat for a bit, it did wonders for my hair.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I need to figure out a way to trick myself in to packing and being ready to go.
Like, um, right now, for example. My plane leaves in seven hours.
Am I packed?
Have I confirmed the cat caregiver?
Is the house clean enough to let the phantom cat caretaker in the house?
My intention was to leave work around 3:00 today.
Ha! Everything went to hell in a (very expensive) hand basket.
A pallet was overloaded and the forklift could not lift the very heavy load of frozen chicken high enough to clear the freezer floor. The tines of the forklift caught under the lip of the freezer floor and peeled it back. Exposed wires and bent metal was the result. I just could not believe it! I was stamping on it with my little feet and hitting the floor with a hammer trying to solve the problem. I believe that a hammer can fix almost anything, and a bigger hammer can fix the rest.
I had to call the repair man and pray the the stuff in the freezer did not spoil -- because the door would not shut.
And one of our refrigerated box trucks was in the shop.
In the meantime there was a computer issue. I was on the phone with our tech support (at the tune of $110/hour) correcting a user error.
What else could go wrong, really?
The other refrigerated box truck got a flat tire.
During rush hour.
Full of food.
I whipped out our credit card and bought a tire and someone to rescue the truck and driver.
Our box truck that was in the shop has a jury rigged refrigeration unit. Someone had modified the diesel to gas and it never worked right and was impossible to fix. The cost to fix the latest problems was going to cost around $1500.00 and that is with the donated labor. The repair guy called to tell me that he'd found a much newer diesel unit for $2700.00 in Cincinnati. I had the tech guy on the other line. I told the truck guy great - buy it. He could not believe that I was making the decision so quickly and wanted to discuss it more. I asked him, bottom line -- is it the right thing to do? Okay, then do it. I went back to the $110 guy that I had on hold.
I think I spent about $6000 in the span of an hour.
I finally left work at 5:30 - and hour after the normal (what ever that is) quitting time.
I did some laundry and headed out again.
The best part of the day?
Celebrating LuAnn's birthday.
And cupcakes. Cupcakes make anything better.
I'm going to grab a few hours sleep and pack in the morning.
Nothing can go wrong with that plan, right?
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Tonic Ball VI was a screaming success.
And maybe soon I won't be too damn exhausted to write about it.
Last night was the Christamore House Guild Gala.
From biker boots to black tie in eighteen hours (and only six hours of sleep in between).
I'm off to bed...and yes, I know it is only 8:45....and I took a three hour nap when I got home from speaking at two services to a church that is an hour away this morning. I knew it was time to pack it in tonight when I was too tired to talk about cupcakes and sprinkles.
You can find Tonic Ball photographs here.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I adore the cartoon Queen Bee Nora that Wayne Bertsch (boyfriend of Kim) drew. I'm um...curvy. You can check out more of Wayne's NUVO work here.
NUVO also ran a piece about the Tonic Ball. The writer called me a young urban progressive! You can read it here.
And I wrote a music preview for the same issue.
This is my favorite NUVO issue ever! I was drawn curvy, called young and will be paid for writing.
Monday, November 12, 2007
I was goofing around on the Internet this afternoon at work.
It was in response to being temporarily overwhelmed. I was juggling the Tonic Ball schedule, writing the minutes of a board meeting, setting up interviews for two open positions and working on things that actually are my job.
I took a little break and checked my blog and saw that Granny Annie commented. I clicked on her blog and then clicked on Black Olives On My Fingertips (how could I not?). After my third comment "I have that, I have that, I have that" and just as many comments that I didn't make - "I have a cat holding a guitar-shaped bottle opener too" and "I'd ate my mac and cheese last night out of a red Pyrex dish like the one you just found at a yard sale" - I didn't want to seem too stalker-ish. Anyway, one of Monica's posts mentioned John Travolta and I wrote that I was wearing my John Travolta (Sweathog, not Scientology era) necklace today. Freaky!
Right after that, I conducted an interview and noticed that the candidate kept staring toward my neck and looking away. I dawned on me that she was trying to see my necklace. I confirmed that yes, it was John Travolta and we finished the interview.
I spent the rest of the day wondering why in the Hell I insist on adding a quirky touch to my wardrobe. As you can see from the photograph I wore a perfectly ordinary dress to work. And the perfectly ordinary dress is exactly why I needed the accessory. If you look at the Crabby Club photograph you'll see that my heart shaped necklace is in the shape of an actual heart. Chambers, ventricles and all.
My friend Linda (who owns Marigold, the clothing store I work at occasionally) commented last year that young women are dressing like I did twenty-five years ago. In college I wore cotton print skirts and band tee-shirts with low top Chuck Taylor's. When I worked for Houlihan's the woman managers had to wear suits, stocking and pumps. Uggh, being one of the handful of women GMs in the country was hard on the feet. Off duty I was sporting the skirt look or jeans and Doc Martens.
Managing the independent pizza place screamed for ironic tees and Levi's. Eight years in the coffee house also called for quirky. I was back to the college look of skirts and tee-shirts, some times the same tee-shirts - now twenty-five years old. The beauty of coffeehouse dressing is that you can wear the same thing days in a row and no one ever notices - the customers are still asleep. Many times they were barely dressed - I was always discreetly pointing out a missed button or unzipped zipper to them.
I'm still trying to find my not-for-profit style. I still wear a lot of skirts but pairing them with a Dead Milkmen tee would probably be frowned upon.
Which is why I wind up wearing something that stops an interview.
Should I wear the pin made of marbles or the socks with the monkeys (sorry Kim) tomorrow?
[Tuesday update] I woke up this morning at 7:55; apparently I turned the alarm off at 6:00. I'm supposed to be at work at 8:00. I tossed on a very un-Nora like outfit. A green top with a....I can barely type the word...okay...the blouse has a...um....bow, there I said it, a blouse with a bow and black pants. Monkey socks and black shoes.
So, we can all guess what just happened. I got a call to be on the local music television channel this afternoon. I may have to work a quick trip to H&M in to my travel time. Today would have been a good day for the John Travolta necklace.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
The first meeting of the Indianapolis chapter of the Crabby Club met tonight. We talked about our favorite posts, exchanged tips on cleaning coffee off the monitor from nose spewage and worked on the secret handshake. As you can see I'm making the Crabby Club C-claw, an integral part of the hand shake -- I'd tell you more, but it would be against the by-laws.
See what we're all a buzz about by clicking here.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The habit was formed.
Which is way my feet hurt so damn bad this morning.
I set the alarm yesterday for 5:30 to finish up a 500 word piece for NUVO. When the editor assigned it she suggested that I might be too busy with Tonic Ball stuff to write it, and told me not to worry if I need to pass on it.
Ha, that sounded like a challenge!
A challenge that kicked my ass.
At 7:30 I was dressed for work (and I could not do the casual Friday thing because I was attending a luncheon and conducting some employment interviews) and dragging a mattress out to the curb. When my tenant moved out last week he left some stuff that I told him I'd take care of. Did you know that mattresses and box springs weigh a lot more when they are wet? I'd leaned them up against the garage and they'd gotten rained on. I stood there balancing the mattresses to make sure my newfound friend the trash guy would take it.
Mission accomplished, I raced off to work. It was a jammed packed day of committee meetings, an off-site luncheon (thanks to Bad Influence Girl for the invitation) a plumbing problem that um, arose while I was out of the building and interviewing potential kitchen managers. I worked until 6:00 and drove straight to Marigold where I worked until 9:30. The Broad Ripple Merchants hosted the Holiday Gallery Tour. The galleries and shops were open late and they were all collecting pasta for Second Helpings -- how cool is that?
While I was there I got a phone call asking me if I could come to work at the Red Key when I was done. I said "no" I had plans. The calls continued and I caved in. I called Bad Influence Girl and asked if we could meet at the Red Key, I'd be there by 10:00. I raced home, threw on jeans and drove to the Red Key. B.I.G. was surprised to find me behind the bar when she got there. Bartending was fun, I hadn't done it for a while. I enjoyed the groove of making drinks and chatting with customers.
I got home at 2:00 this morning took a hot shower and rolled in to bed with a book. I woke up at 5:30 when the alarm went off (I'd forgotten to change it), turned off the light and extricated the book that was now wedged under me and went back to sleep.
I hopped out of bed an hour ago and winced. My feet were killing me! Two asprin and my ass is back in bed watching cartoons.
It is kind of cool to have worked at all four of my paying jobs in one day...which reminds me -- my column for the Broad Ripple Gazette is due.
Friday, November 09, 2007
The Tonic Gallery is the companion event to the Tonic Ball.
I look forward to adding to my collection of Amy McAdams pieces.
A 4th grader made this plate last year and it looks freakishly like me. I can't wait to see if there is another one-eyed Nora masterpiece this year.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
The venues are next door to each other. In one venue 16 bands will all play one Clash song and one of their own and in the other venue the bands all play one Madonna song and one of thier own. This part will not mean anything to you non-musicians, but we do 10 minute changeovers, yes sir, only 10 minutes between bands.
I (Queen Bee Music) am also a financial sponsor this year.
This event is my favorite day of the year. For details and to purchase tickets, click here.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
First off all, I hope you voted.
It does matter.
Barry Wood (R) lost the assessors election three years ago by twelve votes. Barry did an excellent job for our township and is a Level II State Certified Assessor/Appraiser; a Certified Tax Representative; a Certified Indiana Assessor through the Indiana Township Assessor Association; and he has a Real Estate Broker’s License. But he lost by twelve votes to a (very sweet) retired school teacher with no experience. I'm a big believer in knowing the people in the office, what the do and how suited they are for the job.
Barry is doing okay, he is the Assessment Division Director for the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. He and his staff of assessment experts oversee real property assessments in the state, including the assessment of large industrial facilities and public utility properties. He is also responsible for overseeing training for the state’s 1008 Township Trustee/Assessors and Township Assessors, and 92 County Assessors and their staff. He continued to be very helpful to the neighborhood helping us wade through the questions and issues when our neighborhood property taxes double and tripled the next year.
My point is, Barry was clearly the right man for the job and our neighborhood, but he lost by twelve votes. Barry and I don't belong to the same party, but I voted for him and encouraged others to.
I've always had this little back-of-my-mind idea that I'd like to work on a political campaign. I've probably watched too much West Wing. Campaigning is probably more than speeches and impassioned discussions over pizza. But damn it, I could picture myself at that table.
This year I was asked to work in the campaign of our mayor. Although I don't love every thing about him, I'm a fan and I'm hoping he'll be in office another term. The job was a good fit - coordinating volunteers, I can do that in my sleep-- if I ever slept, that is.
But I said no. I honestly could not commit to spending two hours an evening working on it. Second Helpings had a big event last Friday and the Tonic Ball (coordinating 32 bands, ekk) is in ten days. Plus I work and I work and I work. Oh yeah, and I write.
Now that the election is over, I'm kicking myself that I didn't not do it. Working on a mayoral campaign for the twelfth largest city in the country will probably not be offered to me again. But it was nice to be asked.
I love the whole voting process. I don't think I've ever missed an election or primary. The last few years I've voted on the way to work, arriving at the polls around 7:00. Usually I'm the second or third voter. This year I had a 9:30 meeting and went to work late. I stopped by the school where my poll is at noon. I loved walking through the play ground full of bundled-up laughing kids. I walked in the room and was greeted by the poll workers "hi Nora, where have you been" "Spitznogle, you're late!" "Hey what do you know about the new grocery store having parking on the roof?" "Nora I liked your last column" "Nora are you still at the Red Key"
I walked up to the table and the woman checking signatures said that she hated to ask, but she needed to see my identification. Good thing it said Nora S.
Two precincts were voting at that poll and I was only the 51st voter. And the polls had been open for six hours at that point! Hopefully folks stopped on their way home from work.
I'm off to watch the results -- not at campaign headquarters, but on my sofa.
Update: the incumbent mayor (D) lost in what is being called the "biggest political upset in Indiana political history." I'm okay with that - people voted, that is what counts. But, we managed to re-elect an ethics-plauged city/county councillor (D). Uggh.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Last night two of my friends were discussing how hard it was to find pencils, bicycle vanity plates and key chains with their names on them. Ha! I know that story, not once did I ever find anything with the name Nora on it. Yet I insisted on pawing through everything on the racks, just in case. Hope springs eternal.
The only time Nora turns up in literature she is the upstairs maid or a spinster aunt. The notable exception is Isben's A Doll House.
I was thrilled by the Soft Boys song "Ugly Nora". As a young-punk rocker I felt like it gave me some sort of credibility.
When I was assigned the Hitchcock preview, I didn't dream that I'd ever have contact with him. I sent his publicist a list of generic questions. I just about fainted when he answered then. I would have asked him more specific questions especially about the genesis of "Ugly Nora". And thanked him for it.
I could not find a recording or video of the song, so here are the lyrics:
With your eyes like rattles and your legs like stems
It's a wonder you can walk on them
You make a bee look like a flying bomb
You're so thin, you're not dead, but you're almost gone
But your bones are hip and full of soul
Come on ugly Nora (Nora, come on)
Come on ugly Nora (Nora, come on)
Hideous Nora, I wanna see your jellies roll
With your eggs like jelly and your skin like moss
What you could have been is so great a loss
But your shrivelled onion made a fool of you
Like a straw babboon in an empty zoo
It's about time I lent you my salad bowl
Come on ugly Nora (Nora, come on)
Come on ugly Nora (Nora, come on)
Hideous Nora, I wanna see your jellies roll
Let me hear myself, stand back
Aw, do it again, Robbie baby
Now use the fork
Look out for that cat
Heh heh, too bad
Well, you know I mean it, don't say you don't
It just drives me crackers when you say you won't
All the best things in your life are loud
Forget about whether this stuff's allowed
You've been making a living out of doing what you're told
Come on ugly Nora (Nora, come on)
Come on ugly Nora (Nora, come on)
Hideous Nora, I wanna see your jellies roll
Squash it, kim