Saturday, December 11, 2004

A sigh of relief...

It's always a good feeling when you get all your Christmas cards in the mail. Whew!! I sent out about 50 and almost ran out of ink in a new pen. It's fun, but I'm glad I'm done. I always look forward to receiving them as well, especially from people I haven't heard from in a while. It's fun to catch up on the lives of distant friends and in some cases people I haven't seen in 10 or more years. I'm also almost done with my Christmas shopping thanks to the internet. Shopping online is so much easier. I don't necessarily think that it's impersonal. There's a lot of cool stuff out there that I'm not going to find in stores. I certainly don't have a lot of free time to shop seeing as I work in retail, at Christmas time. I'm off on Sunday and going to my good friend and coworker's house for wine and vittles with his wife and other friends. She's an amazing cook and it's always a good time. Lots of wine will be consumed. There's nothing as fun as good wine, good food, and good friends. I hosted a dinner party last week for some good friends and I had a most enjoyable time. I also look forward to Sunday as it's my last day off until Christmas. It's going to busy, busy, busy for me with work and some holiday parties to attend in my limited free time. I love Christmas though. I start singing some of my favorite Christmas songs to myself and find myself in the Christmas spirit. Too bad people can't be like that all year round.

I used to work at a place in Taylor, Michigan years ago called Gibraltar Trade Center (I worked for the owner of the building, not one of the vendors). It was tough, physical work for pretty low pay and I was one of the very few college students working there. I met some great people when I was working there. I have a specific Christmas memory from the GTC that I think about occasionally. One of our many duties was to clean a ditch that paralleled the driveway into the parking lot. Typically there would be one of us on each side of the ditch cleaning the debris that would collect from the weekend. It was especially brutal and somewhat dangerous work in the winter. There was a stock guy named Eric that liked to sing as he had spent a little time with the Salvation Army. I had about 12 years of choir experience including school and church. We would be cleaning the ditch while harmonizing acapella versions of "Silent Night" and other Christmas songs (we even sang some in the round). It was cold, wet, dirty, dangerous work, but the Christmas spirit would sneak in and make it a little more enjoyable. I must say that I've never heard a more moving version of "Silent Night" sung from a ditch. Maybe it was the outdoor acoustics, but it sounded bloody brilliant. For that moment I thought we were harmonizing better than the Beach Boys or Crowded House. It was beautiful. I don't know what happened to Eric, but he was a good guy who had turned his life around. I hope that he's doing well wherever he is. I was always a good choir member, but never a soloist. I was a little shy to sing by myself in front of people and I never let anyone hear my true ability. Honestly, at one time, I may have been good enough to sing as a soloist, but I always held back. I sing in the car like nobody's business and I don't hold anything back. Another memory I'll write about someday is the great experience I had as a high school freshman in Salem, Oregon. I was one of about 5 freshman members of a 120 member Concert Choir that represented the state of Oregon in Philadelphia.

Here's a list of some of my favorite Christmas songs to sing along to...
"Silent Night (Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht)"
"What Child is This?"
"O Tannenbaum"
"Adeste Fidelis"
"O Come All Ye Faithful"
"The First Noel"
"Angels We Have Heard on High"
"It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"
"Go Tell It On the Mountain"

I haven't been to church in a very long time, and I don't have any plans to return, but the thing I miss the most is the music. There's nothing quite like the sound of a pipe organ. It's moving, especially when accompanied by a choir. I don't own much classical music (although my collection is growing), but my favorite composer is JS Bach. My favorite Bach CDs are simply organ music. It stirs the spirit and is very moving. I was lucky enough to attend a former choir director's Masters organ recital at EMU several years ago. You haven't heard anything until you've heard Rachmoninov played perfectly on a pipe organ. I've always liked classical music, but never really pursued it. I'm getting more and more into it, albeit slowly. I've discovered that I really enjoy Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart, and Beethoven. I'm also discovering Tchaiskovsky, Rachmoninov, Mahler, Brahms, Schubert, Mendolssohn, and Strauss. I don't know if my classical CD collection will ever rival the rest, but it's going to start growing slowly. Classical music has always been there and I've always enjoyed it, but now I'm starting to listen more closely.

Okay, I've got another stupid people story. This time it involves stupid people in a restaurant environment rather than a retail environment. Remind me to blog about more stupid restaurant patrons later. I worked at the restaurant tonight. It had the makings to be insanely busy. We started with a party of 25 and the restaurant was filling up pretty well in the early dinner hours. A party with a reservation for 18 people didn't show up. They made the reservation at our location, but went to another location. The poor waitress slated to wait on them ended up having four tables all night because we held the reservation for them. Another big party didn't show up. Think before cancelling or not showing up for a reservation. You're screwing everybody. Not only did we lose these 18 patrons, but another location had to scramble and put together a table for 18 during peak hours. Don't be stupid. I have lots of stupid restaurant patron stories that I'll blog about some other time.

Today's wine recommendation - R.L. Buller Calliope Rare Tokay $59.99/375ml
This stuff is insane! This is made from an assortment of different aged barrels of muscadelle from the Rutherglen district of Victoria, Australia. It is ultra-rich and sweet with notes of toffee, almond, coffee, maple, marmalade, tea, treacle, caramel, figs, cream, and dried fruits. It is amazingly complex and the finish is seemingly endless. The perfect match for chocolate, toffee, caramel, maple, or fig desserts. Great with nuts and blue cheese. I served this at a dinner party last week with a chocolate mousse made with Valrhona 71%. Damn!!!! Pour it on pancakes for a drunken breakfast treat. Seriously.

Until the next bottle...


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