Sunday, December 25, 2016

Eats, Treats, and Peeps

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy (belated) Festivus for the Rest of Us!

Thank goodness I only have to wear this once a year!

Hope we don't end up on a dinner plate, too!

We had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner last night and enjoyed the company of our fellow Amazonians Susan and Rodger.  Dad did a stupendous job frying the calamari and shrimp and grilling our treasured halibut and salmon from our Alaskan trip.  Mom made linguine with mussels and clams in her homemade marinara sauce (something she doesn’t make very often anymore—she usually uses Barilla jar sauce!)  Between the antipasti, fishes, and Mom’s cookies and New York Style homemade cheesecake, I was as stuffed as Templeton the Rat from Charlotte’s Web!

We had a major cold front move in last week, with temps dipping to the teens!  Hard to believe since it is in the 70s this weekend.  For this Rat from the Northeast, there is something inherently wrong with running the air conditioner on Christmas!

My parents finished up their Amazon gig on Tuesday with mandatory overtime.  Yup, can you believe it—the first and only time all season that mandatory overtime was called.  Ironically, there was very little work for ICQA anyway.  Insult upon injury, they only get paid for straight time since they used their 10 hours paid time off on Friday!

We all are relieved the season is over and we survived another peak!  To celebrate the achievement, a bunch of us got together at The Rock.  It was loads of fun, and even my parents’ Manager and Production Assistant joined in the celebration.  The best thing about Amazon is the people you meet, and this year was no exception!

Did I mention that my parents are masochists.  Yup, they already reapplied to Amazon for the 2017 peak season!  Although there is speculation as to whether workampers will be welcomed back to Haslet or whether they will assigned to another location.  We shall see!

To get into the holiday spirit, we did a little shopping in Fort Worth on Friday.  I was disappointed that there were not many pretty store decorations, especially compared to when we would visit New York City to see the Rockefeller Center tree and the uniquely-designed store windows of Macy’s and Sak’s Fifth Avenue.  We then dined at Saltgrass, a steakhouse chain here in Texas.  It wasn’t bad, but it cannot light a candle to Benjamin’s in New York City, where we would visit about four times a year, including at Christmastime.  My mouth waters just thinking about their scrum-delicious porterhouse steak for two!   Yummy!  Sorry, I digressed—I do that often when I speak of food.  Anyway, when I still felt a bit like the Grinch, Mom and Dad took me to Arlington, Texas, to see the Lake Interlochen Homeowners’ Association Festival of Lights.  For 40 years, the residents of this neighborhood decorate and light up the outside of their homes for the holiday season.  Literally thousands of folks visit during the one week event, and we were thrilled to be among those to see the spectacle.  Most people drive through the neighborhood, following the police directions for one-way traffic.  But Big Boomer would have never made it through the maze of narrow streets and cul-de-sacs.  So we parked about a mile away in a shopping center and walked up and down each and every street, which actually offered us better views!  Of course, by the end of the night my paws were killing me—we walked more than 8 miles!  But attending the Festival of Lights was just the cure for getting me into a festive mood!

Well, it is time to start our Christmas feast of roast beast! Happy eating to all, and to all a good night!  God bless us, everyone!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hopes for Bringing Home a Bounty of Benjamins Blown to Bits

Hi, everyone.  Hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving!  We followed our usual traditions--Mom cooked a full-blown  turkey day feast, we watched a little football,  and we kicked off the holiday season by viewing  "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"!  We just love this film, depicting the All American dysfunctional family!  I think we all must have one Cousin Eddie or Aunt Bethany in our family closets!

Amazon's peak season is in full swing, so we are told.  But considering it was Black Friday and Cyber Monday, my parents felt things were not that busy compared to last season.  In fact, there is an inordinate amount of VTO (voluntary time off) offered and taken by both full-timers and work-campers.  Mom and Dad came back to Haslet with the expectations of having significant overtime opportunities, whether mandatory or voluntary, like last year.  But, alas, this is not the case.  The fact that all Haslet work-campers are assigned to ICQA precludes work-campers from getting mandatory overtime.  And because my parents have been relegated to water spidering for weeks on end and were never given the opportunity to cross-train for stow or pick (which was done by random selection), they are not eligible for any voluntary overtime.   Heck, they don't even get to participate in the "power hour" competitions or earn "SWAG" (Stuff We All Get) bucks.  So looks like my Christmas stocking won't be stuffed with as much Swiss cheese as I was hoping for!  Rats!

On a brighter note, we have had more time to relax and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow RVers.  We have regular Tuesday night fire side chats with our neighbors at Texas Star RV Park.   And we recently visited Chimera Brewing Company with fellow Amazonians.  The Brewery is located in the Fairmount section of Fort Worth,  a quaint historic neighborhood comprised of houses dating from the late 1800s to the early 1920s.  It is also the home of the annual "Festivus" Christmas Celebration, which sounds like a lot of fun (trying to talk my folks into taking me there on December 12).     For a little corner pub, Chimera has a nice selection of beer and the food was darn good, especially their pizza!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.  Yes, the rig is all decked out for the holidays, from the lighted garland with vintage ornaments, to our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, to the very first Christmas decoration Mom bought for our first home 30 years ago, to my Grandma's nativity scene.   If you look closely, you'll see even Stewey and Dewey got in the act, hanging a Santa hat on their fish tank!  And our trailer trash decor would not be complete without a couple of lighted blowups outside!

Thursday we were in Grapevine for its holiday parade.  We went in early so Mom could get new glasses at America's Best.  They advertise that you can get two pair of glasses for $69.95 when you get an eye exam performed on site.  Mom phoned them the day prior to ask their hours for Thursday.  She asked if an appointment was needed for the eye exam and was told walk ins were welcome.  The receptionist offered to make an appointment for Mom, but Mom said she didn't know what time on Thursday she would be in the area, so she would take a chance at just walking in, which she did.  That's when we learned there is no doctor on duty on Thursdays!  WHAT!!!!  Why wasn't that mentioned in the phone call and why did the receptionist offer to make an appointment if the doctor wasn't in today?  OK, a little snafu, but the receptionist on duty came up with a quick fix.  There is another America's Best location just 15 minutes away in Hurst.  The receptionist on duty checked their on-line schedule and made an appointment for 12:50, just 40 minutes from our time of arrival at Grapevine.  OK, a little bubble in our plan, but still workable.  So we haul ourselves down to Hurst to learn they don't have an appointment for Mom for that day.  How is that possible?  Apparently the receptionist hit the wrong date on the calendar and made the appointment for this past Monday!  And the Hurst location was booked with appointments for the next 2.5 hours, so they could not squeeze Mom in.  WHAT the heck!  Mom was ballistic.  Is everyone a moron!  As comedian Ron White always says, "you can't fix stupid"!  Mom did appreciate the fact that both the manager and receptionist at Grapevine called her to apologize profusely.  But needless to say, she didn't get her eye exam/glasses done that day.

Dad knew a good remedy to calm Mom down (and satisfy my appetite as well):  Margherita pizza and antipasto at Grimaldi's Brick Oven.  Delicioso!

Visiting "The Christmas Capital of Texas" was lots of fun.  Arriving in Grapevine during daylight offered us better opportunities for pictures and less rambunctious kids running around!  I actually got to take some selfies for a change!

The parade was even better than last year, featuring some really fun floats, two with a "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" theme!  And this year they had lots of cute, cuddly canines in the parade, with animal rescue groups showcasing German Shepherds, Whippets, Huskies, and Basset Hounds.

As I'm writing this, Mom and Dad just got their release date from Amazon:  December 23.  Work-campers were offered to extend a few days, but my parents didn't want to ruin our holiday plans by working on Christmas Eve and Canada's Boxing Day.  Anyway, we are set to leave on December 28 to head home to Livingston and need time to repack all the Christmas decorations!

A cold front is coming in tonight, with temperatures expecting to dip as low as 19F degrees!  Time to put on my thermal underwear!

Talk to you again soon!