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Today was a day of unfettered gluttony, Paczki Day and for those outside of the D, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. My son and I braved the crowds at the bakeries in Hamtramck today to buy the most delectable item ever created, a Paczki – a larger, lighter than air donut filled with a fruit jelly or custard.  The Paczki are the polish way of celebrating the beginning of the Lenten season. Years ago, it was tradition for Polish Catholics to to make way for Lent by getting rid of all of their dairy and meat products because during Lent those items were to be avoided until Easter, when you splurge again for a celebration of Jesus Christ rising from the dead.  Today, the Catholic fasting guidelines are not as strict, but the Paczki stayed intact. Hamtramck has capitalized on this day and Detroit knows a good thing. During Paczki Day, the Polish League American Veteran’s hosts the Paczki Day Blowout a day of all things paczki – there is an official paczki eating contest, rock and roll and drinking. It’s the Polish version of St. Patrick’s Day.

The most traditional paczki is one with a prune filling. While they don’t sound so appetizing, they are; you just have to have an open mind.

As anyone will tell you, a paczki is great with a cup of coffee. So, grab a cup and a paczki and remember only 40 more days until we feast like this again.

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Old Man Winter

Well, Michigan was finally hit with snow. I’ve been waiting for it to arrive and now that’s it’s finally here, I want more. I took the kids out sledding today for the first time in their lives and I have to say it’s as fun as I remember. My oldest isn’t one to usually be a daredevil, well, he flew down that hill like a daredevil. My youngest just likes being outside and in the snow. Sledding was fun, but so was the playground equipment. He truly just loves being part of nature.

Well, the coffee warmed me right up and now I’ve got to go.

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I don’t know about you, but I feel mentally exhausted after interviewing. It’s grueling work, selling yourself to complete strangers. I don’t have sales-type personality, I  like being judged on the work that I do and how I get it accomplished. Unfortunately, that’s not how interviews work.

Today’s interview entailed me to speak with three people. The first, was the person with whom I would be filling their shoes. The second, was the boss who told me they type of person they were looking for and the third was they guy whom I would have to play nice in the sandbox with in order for him to trust my judgement or ability. I think I was doing well up until him, the third man.

This third man is exactly the guy you should see first in an interview process because you’d be fresh and able to answer intelligently, but he’s third and for a good reason – he’s the BS meter reader. And today, I didn’t do so well with the BS reader for a few reasons; I was held up by the other two  and when I got to his office, I was not the most important part of his day. He was easily distracted and when he did ask me questions, he really get the answer he was looking for. I was late showing up to the party with some of the questions he asked.

I can’t beat myself up on the “third man,” but I should have been mentally fit to deal with him today. Oh well, not every bat is a home run.

Thanks for listening…it’s good to download on this stuff.

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Unemployed

I never thought I would have to say that to anyone, but yes alas I do. I’m unemployed. Not by choice, but by circumstance. Though, isn’t that the way it is for everyone who loses a job nowadays.

The office I worked at for 11+ years closed officially on January 29, 2010. Over the past 5 years, our company has had to shrink its numbers dramatically. In 2001, our office held 2000 workers and as of last Friday that final toll was just under 500. We were progressively being whittled down and responsibilities were becoming greater. The worst part of it all was that when we were given our notice of the office closing, we were also told that we would not be receiving severance, instead we would be able to work through the next 12 weeks and continue to receive our pay as usual.

I live in Michigan, a state that has the highest unemployment rate in the Union. Yes the economy seems to be picking up, but not quickly and it sure isn’t ensuring that I’ll make the same kind of wage I’ve been used to.

Well, today, I’m unemployed, but the manager of a household. A household that needs to have the floors cleaned, the walls wiped and the beds made. I hope this gives me my practice I need for that dream job of one day owning a bed and breakfast.

Well, I’ve got to run, start dinner and clean up the kitchen. Thanks for meeting me for coffee.

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Waiting for Superman

The title to the new documentary by David Guggenheim, “Waiting for Superman”, intrigues me. It makes me think about Christopher Reeves and every citizen in Metropolis; it invokes the classic screen shot of a kid on the street that tugs on his Mom’s coat saying, “Look, Mom, it’s Superman!” And what that mother should have said is, “I know, I’m one.” Instead, the mother looks to the sky to spot this fictional hero that every man, woman and child counts on to save them from all that could do them wrong.

This brings me to today’s pondering point – Why can’t we recognize the Supermen in our lives? Superman isn’t fictional, he (or she) does exist and walks among us. They aren’t extraterrestrials. They don’t have super powers like in the comics; however, these real-life “Supermen” are people who can handle everything with grace and dignity, but who don’t realize that these capabilities are superhuman. Or if they do, they aren’t recognizing them as such.

My day was uncharacteristically bad today. I’m not saying I don’t have bad days, but usually I can recover from them. I had a terrible day today, one that I know Superman could have handled with ease. But instead, I let the day’s terrible-ness engulf me and enrage me. If only I had the strength of Superman, I possibly could have dealt with the bratty-ness of my three-year-old, the drama of my six-year-old and the bitchy-ness of my colleague; you know, compartmentalized and not lost the patience I so desperately needed. Instead, I zipped my three-year-old up into his winter coat like it a straight jacket and locked into his car seat so that he couldn’t undress himself this morning. I then turned to my six-year-old and exclaimed, “I don’t care,” very drolly because he was upset that he didn’t get to play that game he was thinking about.  And as for the bitchy-ness of the co-worker, I just didn’t care to even see her today. I was curt and aloof, which just made me seem like a bit of a bitch as well.

I admire the “supers” of this world because they’ve gotten to that moment of Zen, where everything is as it should be.  After today’s day, that is my goal. To be the Superman in my life and to the people around me, because if I can do that, then everything is as it should be.

Wow, that was cathartic.  Thanks again for meeting me and lending an ear.

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Well, I finally figured out the Dill Pickle Soup recipe…it took a little melding of recipes and a little tasting; but I think I’ve perfected a soup that I find delightful and quite simple, too.

Dill Pickle Soup
1 T. Olive oil
1 T. Butter (optional)
8 c. chicken broth
2 cubes of chicken bouillon
2 medium carrots, coarsely grated
1/2 c. onion, diced
1 c. celery, sliced thin
4 large Polish Dill Pickles (pickles that are not pickled in vinegar), coarsely grated
6 medium potatoes, Idaho type
1/2 c. pickle juice
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 T. flour

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil and butter. Place onion, carrots and celery until tenderized.
2. Add in broth, bouillon and pickle juice
3. Add in potatoes and dill pickles, bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes.
4. Turn down the heat to a simmer and let simmer for another 10 minutes.
5. In a small bowl, whisk the heavy cream and flour until smooth.
6. Turn your temperature to low and let it sit for a minute before ladling a small amount of hot soup into your small bowl of heavy cream. This is meant to temper your cream and prevent curdling.
7. Add cream/soup mix back into the soup and stir until well mixed.
8. Serve.

To make this vegetarian, substitute the chicken broth and bouillon for vegetable stock and bouillon.

(Note: Avoid boiling when reheating to keep cream from curdling.)

Well, I’ve to run; thanks again for the conversation.

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Well, today, I had a very lazy day. I meant to be proactive, but the gray day lulled me into complacency. So, I’m writing.

As I wait for my dishwasher to finish up, so that it can get loaded again. I’m hoping to find a dill pickle soup recipe that sounds just like the food I love to eat. So far, I have found a recipe that claims to be the recipe for Zosia’s or Polish Village, a restaurant in Hamtramck, Michigan. If you haven’t been to Hamtramck, or Detroit for that matter, it’s a city within a city. Hamtramck used to claim the 3rd largest Polish population outside of Poland. Today, its pride is still there, but it’s been battered. Hamtramck, like most cities in SE Michigan, was built on the blood, sweat and tears of the men and women who worked the lines at Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. Nowadays, those same cities are decaying and crumbling because the infrastructures cannot be supported because the same workforce is out of a job. But I digress.

Zosia’s or Polish Village is one of three main Polish restaurants in Hamtramck that serve authentic polish food and a very reasonable price. The other two are Polonia and Under the Eagle. In the past few years, I make a monthly trip to Hamtramck for the food. I’m in love with Dill Pickle soup and I want to finally try to make some at home. The great part of these restaurants is that they say they will give you the recipe and it ends up being the ingredients. Making me place the heel of my hand to my forehead and shake.

Oh, well. I’ll get to their secret and when I do, I’ll share.

Well, I’ve got to get going, but I’m so glad you could meet me for coffee.

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