Personal Service

I like to buy Kish perfume for Christmas.  It’s a good idea, but there is one problem:  I don’t know bupkis about perfume, or how to pick it out.  So, what to do?

There is only one answer — Nordstrom.

img_3266When I went shopping for Kish’s presents before Christmas, I went to Nordstrom because I knew that I would get plenty of desperately needed help from the friendly employees walking the floor of the perfume department.  And sure enough, when I showed up in the bustling department one afternoon, wandering aimlessly with scribbled notes in hand and a hapless, sheepish, and somewhat lost expression on my face, a nice young woman approached and asked me if she could help.  When I explained what I was looking for, she thought for a moment, then took me over to another part of the department, where she summarized my concepts for an older woman who apparently got her Ph.D in perfume.  A knowledgeable nod, a few careful selections from a shelf full of different perfumes, a few spritzes on a kind of paper stick, a few whiffs by yours truly, and I knew I’d made some good choices.  And they even threw in the gift wrapping, too.

Sure enough, when Christmas came and Kish opened the perfume, she loved it.

I don’t like shopping, and normally I’m one of those people who knows what they want and likes to dart in and get the heck out of the store as quickly as possible, without interacting with anyone.  These days, that’s increasingly easy to do so, because many stores have cut back on the number of floor employees.  Nordstrom isn’t one of them — fortunately for me.  Sometimes you want a little personal service, provided by pleasant people who aren’t high pressure and who act like they just want to help.

So thanks, Nordstrom, and thanks especially to the nice folks in the perfume department at the Easton store who helped a baffled, perfume-challenged husband give his lovely wife a merry Christmas.

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‘Twas The Day After Christmas

It’s the day after Christmas — which for some beleaguered people in the package delivery business is probably about as important as Christmas itself.  This year online retailing once again set a record, which means the package delivery guys have been busting their behinds for weeks and probably are still hustling to deal with the last-minute orders.  As I reflected on the plight of these uniformed soldiers of the modern economy, the poetic muse once more took hold:

The Day After Christmas
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‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the land

Fed Ex and UPS remained fully manned

They’ve set a record for deliveries this year

But the last-minute orders have yet to appear

Oh, Amazon!  Oh, Apple!  Oh, Pajamagram!

Your specials and discounts created a jam

The packages and boxes were stacked to the ceiling

The onslaught of orders left deliverers reeling

And because so many waited ’til the last minute

The Christmas Crush?  They’re still in it!

The delivery guys are trying their best

But it’ll take time before they can give it a rest

So if your order hasn’t yet come to your door

Don’t take it out on the delivery corps!

And by the way, I’ll be doing whatever is necessary to avoid going within a one-mile radius of any shopping mall today.

A W For Christmas!

Saint Nick is a good guy.  

After 14 losses, you’d think the beleaguered Cleveland Browns would just hang it up . . . but they didn’t.  Old St. Nick arranged that they would play the equally pathetic San Diego Chargers, and the Browns kept fighting and somehow won their first game of the year.

Does it mean anything?  Probably not — but it’s nice to see the Browns keep fighting, and as a result avoid the ignominy of being one of the handful of winless teams in NFL history.

Thanks, Santa!

Gluten Free Goodies

My mother used to say that you learn something new every day.  She was right — as mothers always are.

This morning I learned that gluten-free food can actually be pretty tasty.  Because we’ve got a gluten-free guest coming for the holidays, I made these cookies with tahini — which is crushed sesame seeds ground into a kind of peanut butter consistency — the ever-unpronounceable quinoa, honey, brown sugar,, and rice flour.  They’re crunchy and really good.  I am also making some gluten-free spice cookies with cranberries and almonds and macadamia nuts.

Tasty, and gluten-free?  Who knew?

Clove Christmas

This morning I took one of the mandarin oranges Kish buys for the holidays and attacked it with a full arsenal of whole cloves.  You push the pointy ends of the cloves through the soft skin of the fruit, covering the entire outer surface.  The cloves and the citrus juices from the skewered orange then interact, producing a fine, delicate, spicy scent that leaves the kitchen smelling wonderful.

The clove orange is one of the things — liking baking cookies, listening to holiday music, or “surprising” Kish with the inevitable gift of a new word-a-day calendar — that says Christmas to me.  Thanks to Aunt Corinne, who first acquainted me with this holiday tradition.

Happy Birthday, Colo

Yesterday Colo, the first gorilla born in captivity, celebrated her 60th birthday at the Columbus Zoo.  She is the oldest gorilla on record and has exceeded the typical life span of captive gorillas by two decades.  The Zoo put on a party, and Colo got birthday cakes made of squash and beets that featured mashed potato dressing.

e0db6a60910241c781760ada8f99048a-e0db6a60910241c781760ada8f99048a-0Colo has been a staple of the Columbus Zoo since before I was born, so she’s really been around for a long time.  She was there when I went to the Columbus Zoo for the first time in the early ’70s, she was there when Kish and I took the boys to the zoo in the ’90s, and she is still there now, to impress another generation of kids with the gravity and power and majesty of gorillas.

The Zoo cites Colo, and her unusual longevity, as an example of what zoos can do to help animals live longer with better diets and medical care.  She is one of a number of zoo animals that are exceeding their expected life spans.

I’m not a fan of zoos; I always feel sorry for the animals because they are in captivity rather than being free.  Of course, the best zoos, like the Columbus Zoo, really focus on preservation and see great value in introducing kids to animals; they reason that making that connection can help the animals in the long run by making people care about whether a species is thriving in its natural habitat.  Unfortunately, for every well-run zoo there are appalling stories about zoos where the animals are neglected and mistreated and left locked in cages.

So happy birthday to you, Colo.  If you have to be in a zoo, I’m glad you’re in a zoo that cares.