Showing posts from December, 2007

Home for the Holidays

Ah, home. I had my flight schedule wrong in my head and so I ended up a) not having as much time to go out Friday night as anticipated, and b) having to get to the airport earlier than expected on Saturday since they wouldn't through-check my luggage, but I'm now safely in MSP. No guys immature guys with their asses in my face when they reached into the overhead, no recliner guys or scofflaws throwing air security rules to the wind, and a 21-year old kid on his way back from Chile mistook me for 25. Bless him. The lighting was poor. The only tragedy of the trip was that I mistakenly bought a toilet book at Heathrow. I got suckered into one of those 2 for 20 deals at the Borders right as they called my flight, and I grabbed what I thought was a non-fiction history book with a sense of humour, but which ended up being written in one to two-page vignettes, obviously meant for crap-taking. Even though I am sure that the air of the toilet has never befouled its pages, just know

Christmas memories, vol 19

My mom is not much of a cookie baker. There are many things she does well, but her cookies are so-so. Actually, I'm not sure it's so much that her cookies aren't great as when we were kids she didn't bake them that much. My Grandma B did. Grandma B was a precision sort, so baking worked well for her. She wanted to do something to help my mom out at Christmas time, and somehow it evolved to a process whereby we would request cookies and she would bake them...when we went to her house to pick her up, there would be treats galore as well as luggage and Grandma. It was excellent. Christmas cookies weren't necessarily Christmas-specific ones. For example, one of my personal favourites was the scotheroo - these are known by many names, but they are basically that rice krispie /peanut butter/ karo syrup base with milk chocolate top thing - which is actually an acceptable treat year round. However, since we weren't really a cookie family, any occasion where cooki

CORRECTION - Christmas memories, vol 17

Actually, our dog, Pretzel, got the first present...usually a bit of hamburger in a snoopy dog dish.

Obsessive compulsive disorder

We made a little ExecMBA compilation CD, and my friend Mark submitted this song. I can't stop listening to it, and now I have a huge crush on the Rev. What a fox.

Christmas memories, vol 18

I grew up in a small, small town. It is a picturesque little place...if you have never been to a place that looks like small town storybook America come to life, then Decorah would be an excellent place to start. It has a downtown of cute turn of the century (19th-20th toc) architecture, with independently owned shops in every storefront. It looks exactly like a quaint little town should. But it was in the middle of nowhere and catered to a local audience, and when I was a kid they simply didn't have the wide selection available in the larger cities. We would therefore make shopping trips to malls in the tri-state area to get access to more choice. There were back to school shopping trips, and trips in the spring for lighter-weight wardrobe items, but the best ones were at Christmas time. My dad's family lives in Cedar Rapids, so we'd head there to visit and take in some shopping at the same time. The first day was always about Armstrongs in downtown. It was one of t

Great moments in my history

Our heroine dishes out some tough love to keep the family on task..."Focus, Grandma, FOCUS! These presents aren't going to open themselves!" I TOLD you I was a taskmaster with the present opening.

Warm spot

When we were in the salad days of college, my friends and I were a bit...oh, let's say rowdy. I was in a rebellious stage, and I found me a circle of friends who were equally ready to push boundaries and question authority and find adventure at every turn. This is particularly true of my girlfriends from Luther, who were quite the band of misfit toys. We were all pretty, smart women with wicked senses of humour, but that's pretty much where the similarity ended. But each of us had a level of eccentricity that set us apart from the crowd, and we found soul mates in each other...someone who wouldn't judge, who would laugh at our jokes, and who would help you sort out a mess in your life without asking how it happened in the first place. My friend M was one of the wackiest. She looked perfectly normal, even acted pretty normal, but then all of a sudden she'd hit you with a humdinger of a question about sex or love or body functions or a general gross-out topic, and wa

Christmas memories, vol 17

Obviously an action shot due to the slight blur from movement, nothing says "thanks for the present!" like a tackle kiss given to a reluctant brother afraid of girl germs. Christmas eve was always a bit of a bustle at my house. To this day, I believe that it is the longest day of the year. Endless. The morning would start with kolache baking , but while the bread baking lasted the whole day that was pretty much my dad's thing so we were not allowed to assist. If we hovered in the kitchen mom would sternly reprimand us for spoiling our appetites, so we'd be expected to go entertain ourselves in the afternoon. A cruel, cruel expectation, I tell you. Likely I read a book or played Barbies, but still...not enough to to take a kid's mind off of the impending present orgy. My mom hates wrapping gifts, but she likes shopping. And, especially since we were wrapping cans of stew for my Grandma B , there was a lot of wrapping to do. As a hated chore it got put off until

Great moments in my history

My t-shirt had a silk screen of the revolutionary war on the front. It was the bi-centennial, and boy howdy did I think I was hip. Oh. And that is not a little brother. It's an Olejniczak. And another thing. My 12 year old nephew looks exactly like my brother in this picture, and Bob is probably 11 here. Spooky.

Great moments in christmas memories

It had an elevator. Or lift, as we call them in Britain. Of course I was ecstatic. In fact wide-eyed with enthusiasm, as you will see if you enlarge the photo. This one's for my brother. Poor guy has been plagued his whole life by a geek freak sister, bless him. But at least I'm funny. And have exceptionally good taste in clothes.

My post-MBA life

Today is Sunday of weekend one of my post-MBA life. Two whole days with no obligations to a case study or reading or research for a paper. Ah, bliss. While last weekend was also post-classes, we still had a paper outstanding so I did have a little bit of pressure to work on things. I had one day of fun, though - I was hosted by the South African Tourism Board at Twickenham for South Africa vs. the Barbarians . It was a blast. I had an epic train journey from MK, as I had to connect in London to trains on limited service due to construction. I left at about 930 and got stuck on a Virgin train full of drunks from Birmingham. I never cease to be amazed by a) the utter horribleness of the Birmingham accent, and b) the ability of the British male to get completely blathered by 10AM. Any time you take a Virgin train on a weekend morning you are guaranteed to be sitting by loud-talking drunks who are at least four lagers in. It's ridiculous. This particular group had the sounds of s

Culture Gap

Sir Cliff Richard was knighted in 1995. Before Paul McCartney or Elton John. Huh. I suppose it was for Devil Woman ?

Christmas memories, vol. 16

I like to sing. I always like to sing. I'm not great at it, but I get immeasurable amounts of joy from it. And there is nothing better to sing at the top of your lungs than a Christmas carol, unless maybe it's Nanci Griffith after a few glasses of wine. I have no shame. Once December rolls around, I sing Christmas songs whenever I hear them, on the radio, on the sound system of a store, or even just in my head. Full voice. Doesn't matter where I am. Doesn't matter who is near me. It's Christmas, damn it, and it's time for singing. I always loved attending the midnight carol service at church, partly because you got to hold a candle in the dark, but mostly because you could sing really loud and harmonise any way you wanted and no one cared. It was delightful. If you've ever done a holiday season in a mall store, you know that sometime in November they send you a tape that has about four hours of music in a loop. This means that in an eight to ten hour shi


Don't you love it when you're minding your own business and they suddenly play Mexican Radio on whatever station you have tuned in? (Tonight I believe it's Virgin on the DAB.) And you know what other song I really like right now? That Bruce Springsteen one about the girls in their summer clothes. They play it on the radio a lot, and so far I'm not sick of it.

Christmas memories, vol. 15

My father was a civil engineer for Winneshiek County, and as such he was responsible for all road and bridge construction and maintenance of the county's road system. He had many miles of roads and bridges under his control, and he used numerous contractors to do the work required. My dad was an honest guy. As straight an arrow as they come, really. He would run a closed bid process, and he didn't engage in cronyism. And this isn't just the biased opinion of a of the most common things I heard about my father at his visitation and funeral (from many of these construction contractors, in fact) was that he had impeccable integrity and people trusted him to be fair. But if you've worked with contractors, you know that they like to send their thank you gifts at Christmas time...even if they know that it will have no effect on whether or not you will give them business in the future. And BOY do road construction contractors give gifts. Dad would turn

Soup Swap

Hi all. National Soup Swap is coming up....January 23rd is the official day! The organiser is a former housemate of mine and obviously a genius. (They've even made national press !) Get some friends together, start sifting through your cookbooks and get the soup a cookin ', baby! It's a brilliant idea. Perhaps some of you blogger folks can even use this for more meetups ! Here's a quick summary of how it works: 1) You and 6 - 14 other chefs decide to swap soup. 2) Everyone makes six quarts of soup and packages it in freezable disposable containers. Freezing it in advance is preferred. 3) On Swap night, you assemble at the host's home....nibbles, maybe a glass of wine, your call...but the event is about soup. Soups are placed on display for all soupers to survey. 4) Each souper draws a lot. 5) The crowd listens with baited breath as the other soupers tell the stories of their soups, giving others a chance to strategise . 6) Starting with lot 1 and proceeding in r

Christmas memories, vol. 14

I do not send Christmas cards. It is not because I don't love you, or because I don't wish you a happy is solely because I am too lazy to dedicate the hours to it, and too disorganised to have a complete list of your updated addresses ready to make it an easy task. My parents were religious senders of the Christmas card. They were of the modest note and picture of the kids variety. Sometime in November, Bob and I would be asked to dress in the year's themed clothing and we would spend an afternoon or an evening posing in various places to capture the perfect image to send out to the world. We HATED this. It seemed to take FOREVER. We would put on pained, plastic smiles...which would prolong our agony...and we could never get comfortable in any position because as soon as we did we would have to change the pose for a different shot. Here above is an example of why it took so long. When I go home, one of the highlights of my first few days is the review of t