Monday, October 10, 2011

Cool Change

The time has come to move on, hopefully to brighter horizons. My musings, contributions and tributes will continue on a new site. Please join me in the odyssey ~ because it's time for a cool change.

Friday, October 07, 2011

The Fortune Teller

I see a candle burning in the night.  Or two.  No, three.
I see nostalgia taking the spotlight.  Travel back to the middle of your memories and live them all over again.
I see sweet.  I see sultry.  I see adorable.  I see adulterous.  I see heartfelt.  I see hilarious.
There are parties in store with ice-breakers galore.
I see it all, and then some more.
Big changes are coming soon.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Dive Night ~ Welsch's Big Ten Tavern, Part 2

Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of "dive." Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot hiding under the radar with a laid-back atmosphere and good food. We'll find the most interesting hang-outs in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. Casual attire required. A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either. 

Welcome back to the continuing saga of our latest Dive Night at Welsch's Big Ten Tavern.  If you missed the first installment you can find it here

I'll cut right to the chase.  The reason I'll never go back to the Big Ten is because of...the staff. 

When we arrived at the Big Ten a waitress came to take our drink order.  We waited for about ten minutes and another completely different waitress came to us to take our drink order.  We told her someone else had taken our order and she apologized.  Our drinks arrived momentarily.

After we had some time to look at the menu the first waitress came along again to take our food order.  She had a little notebook and appeared to be taking the order in paragraph form.  Husby asked politely that we get two separate checks, and she replied "okay, I can do that later."  So we put in our order of appetizers and entrees with extras like a cup of soup, a side of waffle fries, onion rings, etc.  Once all was said and done the waitress was off to submit our order to the cook.

So there we are, me and Husby, Ruthie and Ray, sitting around trying to talk over the screaming happy-hour patrons directly behind us in the bar, when BAM! ~ a thud so sickening it gave me a little shot of adrenaline.  There on the floor right in front of our table lay an 85-year-old woman who took a tumble on the slanted floor of the dining room.  We noticed her earlier having dinner with whom appeared to be her son, although when she hit the floor the son was nowhere to be found.

Enter, my hero.  Husby rushed down to the elderly woman's side and put into action his training in first aide.  The woman's son is still MIA, but a crowd of waitresses gathers around the moaning lady on the floor.  She's unable to move and Husby continues to question her and comfort her.  The 20-something-aged waitresses stood gawking, and I kid you not, one of them had a finger in her mouth.  Finally I got up from the table and went to the group of airheads and said "could someone please call 911?!"  They stared at me as though I was asking them to perform brain surgery.  I went to find a manager when I saw a very petite girl on a cell phone (woman, actually, but none of these staff people was over twenty-five, which is a girl in my book).  She was clearly part of the staff.  I asked if she was calling 911 and she nodded.  A few seconds later, Mrs. I've-Fallen-And-I-Can't-Get-Up and Husby still on the floor, the cell phone girl asks me "should they bring an ambulance?"  Um, YES!!

I sat back down at the table and look!  Here come our appetizers!  The person delivering them had to practically step over the poor woman laying on the floor writhing in pain, but got our food to us, pronto.  I asked that she hold the rest of our food until the matter on the floor was taken care of.  Just as I made my request, the music started playing.  Nothing like loud bar music to put a fallen woman at ease.

By now the son made his reappearance.  Interestingly he remained one of the gawkers, on his feet, staring down on his old mother who was practically paralyzed on the floor.  And Husby remained her comfort until help arrived.


Help finally did arrive after Husby spent time with the old gal, making sure she was conscious, chatting with her to distract her from the pain, putting her purse under her head for a little comfort on the cold floor.  The EMTs strapped her on the board, hoisted her up onto the gurney, and as they started to wheel her away she uttered a meek "thank you" to Husby who had made her fall a little less terrifying.  The son was also grateful to Husby, but despite his politeness we assessed him to be a complete loser.

*Sigh* Now to dig into the appetizers.  Oh look!  Here come three waitresses with the remainder of our order, all of the entrees.  Well, I'll give it to them that they did actually wait until the broken lady was removed from the floor in front of our table.  But there it all is, all the food, all at once.  Not only that, there was plenty wrong with the order.  Husby and I were missing our cole slaw, they forgot my sour cream, an order of waffle fries was delivered instead of an order of onion rings (or vice-versa, I can't remember), etc.  And none of these three waitresses was our original waitress.

There were the four of us, trying to regain our appetites after watching an old lady crash to the floor, coming to her aid (Husby, that is), and witnessing the complete and utter stupidity and ineptitude of the restaurant staff with a table full of food staring at us.  Then walked in a guy who also looked as though he was part of the staff.  (They all wore black shirts, which doesn't seem like it would be considered a uniform, but it was.)

Recounting it now is kind of a blur.  The guy was talking to someone else, but I don't remember who it was.  It was obvious this other person was cluing him in on what happened with the old woman.    They were standing right in front of our table, in the area where the woman fell.  I remember shouting at him over the drunken rowdies behind us, "are you the manager?!"  He gave me a look at me that suggested I had no business butting into their conversation.  "What?" he asked.  "Are you the manager?" I asked again.  "Yeah," he said, "why?"  I said "where where you when all of this happened?!"  "Where were you?!"  And then I'll never forget what he said.  "Why are you giving me the third degree?"

The third degree.  Well it was very clear right then and there that Ruthie, Ray, Husby and I were the only people in that place with an ounce of common sense, a smidgen of compassion, and a skosh of responsibility.  Apparently the manager was out making a delivery when the incident occurred.  It didn't really matter because even if he had been on the premises the situation wouldn't have played out any differently, I'm sure of that.  But still I wondered why one of his bubble-headed underlings couldn't run a delivery while he, big man on campus, ran the establishment he is paid to run.  He averted our questions like a pro.

Then came the bill for our food.  While we were assured the bill would be separated for each couple when we placed our orders, it was, surprise surprise, not separated at all.  Husby went through the bill and circled our food and off she went once again to separate the two bills.  It still wasn't right and I owe Ruthie $8.  The waitress thinks we owe her a tip too.  She thinks wrongly.  And we think Welsch's owes little old lady a new hip.

Welsch's with the side-ways slanty floors, dopey waitresses, loud and obnoxious patrons, and defensive manager will never see the likes of us again.  It's too bad too, that pizza roll appetizer was pretty darn good. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Dive Night ~ Welsch's Big Ten Tavern, Part 1

Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of "dive." Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot hiding under the radar with a laid-back atmosphere and good food. We'll find the most interesting hang-outs in the Minneapolis/St Paul area.  Casual attire required.  A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either. 

Hold on to your hats, oh lovers of dives.  This one is a doozy.  So much to say in so little time I must break it up into two parts.  Let's talk about Welsch's Big Ten Tavern

What's better than "Steak Steak?"

Ray couldn't resist grabbing the uber udder on the cow in front of the Big Ten

Welsch's is right on Highway 10, a sore spot for me but a busy location nonetheless.  Apparently they've been in business since 1904 and I'm guessing back then they probably served very fine food.  Like so many places the Big Ten has been reduced to a sports bar filled with blue collars who love their happy hour.  But hey, we're doing dives, so nothing wrong with any of that.

I think they're going for the Bellagio look, but are falling very short

Today I'm just going to talk about the food we ordered.  The Big Ten has a varied menu but I think they pride themselves on their beef.  Remember, this is a sports bar.

We started out with drinks, wine for the ladies and beer for the guys.  I don't know what Ruthie thinks, but I have a sneaking suspicion the wine was watered down. 

For appetizers we ordered walleye cakes and a pizza roll.  The walleye cakes were served with what seemed to be plain tartar sauce.  They were a little dry and not very flavorful, but I'm spoiled by the walleye cakes that Giggles makes.  The pizza roll, on the other hand, was absolutely wonderful.  It was like they took an entire pizza, rolled it up, and cut it into slices.  It was spicy, meaty (pepperoni) and cheesy and very delicious.

I had a little cup of clam chowder, which was very good too.

The waffle fries shown behind the soup were pretty tasty, and you can get seasoned sour cream to dip them in if you ask for it.

Entrees were of the sandwich variety all around.  I can't remember the burger Ruthie had and of course the picture will tell you nothing.  Ray ordered the prime rib melt.  I actually considered ordering the prime rib melt too, until I saw it came with American cheese.  American cheese on prime rib is like eating steamed Maine lobster with ketchup.  When I saw it was served on toast?  Plain old toast?  Well, it was just wrong and bad.  Ray said it was tasty though, so maybe I have warped preconceived notions of how prime rib should be served.

Husby had a walleye sandwich and said it was quite good.  It was huge, as a walleye sandwich should be.

I thought I'd try something completely different, something I'd never had before.  The bacon bleu cheese burger.  The burger was good, but I found I don't really care for that much bleu cheese on something that isn't a salad.  If you love that kind of thing, this burger would be right up your alley.

As I mentioned before, the waffle fries were pretty dang good, and it was reported that the onion rings were hot and crispy and plenty of them ~ made from real onions and not onion bits.  A positive report on the rings from those who had them.

Here's something interesting: I just checked out the menu on Welsch's Big Ten Tavern website and it bears a resemblance to the one we read at the tavern but there are differences. 

For the most part the food was good at the Big Ten.  So why is it I'll never go back there again?  Stay tuned.  Part two of this most exciting Dive Night will be posted on Thursday.  Be sure to join me!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Renewed, For The Most Part

Today is a new beginning.  Last week was lost in the noisy halls of a hospital and my brain was knotted with concern and worry.  All seems to be back on track now, and probably more on track than ever.  Spending so much time away from my typical life has seemed to put things into better perspective.  I have regained my vision on where my responsibilities lie and that they should not be ignored.  One of those responsibilities is the upkeep and and TLC of my own home.  It's interesting how taking care of many household duties I have pushed aside has cleared the cobwebs not only from the corners of the rooms, but also from my head.

It felt good to take time to pick up the clutter and clear away the dust.  Chunks of lint are nowhere to be seen on the rugs and carpets and the laundry basket is empty.  The rhythm of ironing is amazingly grounding and the smell of sheets dried on the outside clothesline fills up the bedroom.  Best of all (especially for Husby) I have rediscovered my motivation for cooking.

From the sounds of this you probably think I live in a dump most of the time.  Of course that isn't true no matter how bad I make it all sound.  But I'm happy to say that the need for me to be present at a hospital along with a priority placed on homekeeping really made for a lovely weekend. 

I've also been hard at work setting up the new blog, which may eventually turn into an actual website if I do things right.  I'm looking forward to a fresh start with that, and it should be less than a couple of weeks before you can see it for yourselves.  I hope when the time comes you'll join me over there.

For now I bid you a Happy Monday and hope the week goes without a hitch.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Hospital

When you're feeling as bad as you ever have in your life, there is the hospital.  When you're ready to bring new life into the world, there is the hospital.  Sometimes, when you're on your way to the great beyond, there is the hospital.  The hospital serves as the transition place in so many situations. 

Most hospitals try to make a nice environment for their transients.  But really, it's all just so sterile...or not.  It's all just so technical...or touchy-feely condescending blather.  It's all so...not home.

Tubes and beepers, needles and swabs, machines of all kinds to take pictures of your insides and listen to the noises your insides make.  It's all there to make you better, to give you care, but it's just...not home.

Equipment you'd only associate with the feeble, latex glove dispensers, needle depositories, and utterly beige walls.  Who can be uplifted in an atmosphere like that?  And yet most thrive to a better level of health in that atmosphere.  Still it's just...not home.

Nothing is cozy and nothing is colorful.  The food is fine but they won't give you real butter with your bread unless you remember to ask for it specifically.  And who can remember to ask for a luxury like butter when you're attached to a monitor or intravenous medication.  Who remembers what home is when all you can think about is getting better, especially when getting better means life itself.

And those who watch and wait on stained chairs, counting hours, listening to moans, wishing and hoping with all of their might ~ today the fever will break, today the numbers go back to normal, today he'll get the comfort of home.  No, not today.  Not tomorrow.  Not even the next day. 

How could anyone bear it all without going insane?  It's the surgeon with the steady hands, the nurse who reminds you of your home town, the aide who doesn't care how wet she gets while giving you a hair wash in the shower, the doctor with the gentle manner and kind smile.  They all make it bearable because you know they have one objective in mind ~ get you as comfortable as you can be in such a foreign setting and get you well so you can have the butter on your bread, some colorful sheets on your bed, and no tubes or needles. 

The gray dissipates and the discharge papers are signed.  You're well enough.  You're wheeled out into the fresh air and colors of autumn.  You're on your way once again. 

Welcome Home.

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