January 3, 2011

Dinner Table Conversation

Posted in Children, Family, Food, Home, Work tagged , , , , , , at 7:51 am by Liliana

Sasha, Nena and Sam

Sasha, Nena and Sam

A few nights ago my family gathered around our dining room table.

It was not a large group by our standards: Branka, Joe, Jeff and I were on the adult side of the table; Sam, Nena and Sasha on the young people’s side.

Branka had made fried chicken, curried rice and salad.

The atmosphere was unhurried, light and relaxed. The conversation meandered in all directions. We talked about people’s plans in the new year, resolutions, or lack of both.

At one point, Sasha brought up the question of balancing one’s life, of not getting caught up in the never ending need for more things. Of knowing the meaning of enough. Of the possibility of living in Hawaii and taking pleasure in simplicity and doing what one really wants to do. Of being free.

Nena and Sasha graduated from college last summer, and they are trying to figure out what to do next.

Nena is still looking around, thinking, considering, experimenting with different prospects and possibilities.

Sasha has always been the kind of person who needs a more solid footing. Right after graduating, he got a job as a community organizer. It is a difficult and demanding job, but Sasha has given it all he has and has done well.

When he moved to Ohio, he lived in a tiny studio apartment with minimum amount of furniture. He wore his dad’s suits, which did not fit perfectly.

Now that Sasha got a raise, he moved into a larger apartment. His parents rented a U-Haul truck and transported some nice furniture to furnish the new apartment. He bought a vacuum cleaner and other necessities to take care of his new dwelling.

Then, Sasha bought a number of expensive new suits. He wants to project a sense of respectability and trustworthiness.

Money was spent.

But for a twenty two year old, Sasha is amazingly aware of the slippery slope of life. He has plans. He wants to travel to South America and go to graduate school. He wants to be in charge of his life. But he also sees clearly how easily it is to lose one’s compass and get caught up into the hamster wheal of everyday consumerism.

Nena said that, for her, growing up means participating in the larger experience of one’s community and culture.  To check out and criticize from the sidelines while benefiting from the effort of others, seems like a copout to my daughter.

Sam commented that he could see how easy it would be to forget (or even to learn) what really matters. Full of energy and hunger for life, he delights in pleasures that good things in life can offer. We all do.

How does one know when to stop?

I don’t know.

But I do know one thing. These kids are all right.


October 13, 2010

Rescuing Chilean Miners

Posted in Good people, Work tagged , , , , , at 2:17 pm by Liliana

Rescuing Chilean Miners - October 2010

Rescuing Chilean Miners - October 2010

Sometimes, the whole world stops, comes together and agrees.

Life is precious.

August 11, 2010

A Day of Rest

Posted in Health, Women, Work tagged , , , , at 7:34 am by Liliana

Time to rest

Time to rest

I am not always good about listening to my body and realizing when I need to slow down and take a bit of rest.

When there is a lot to do, I will push myself and push myself until there is nothing left to give. No matter how many times I say that I will pace myself and be sensible, my instinctive reaction to any situation is to take care of what needs to be done.

So, on occasion my body refuses to obey and makes me slow down whether I want to or not.

When my alarm went off at 6 am yesterday morning I jumped up the way I always do. But before I even reached the bathroom, I knew something was not right. I felt dizzy, tired and nauseated but I still tried to go about my morning routine. I tried to brush my teeth, but I didn’t have the strength to do it. I quickly rinsed out the toothpaste and crawled back into my bed. Making the slightest movement seemed beyond my powers.

My husband Jeff woke up and asked me what was wrong. I didn’t know. All I knew is that I wanted some mineral water to drink and be left alone to sleep.

And sleep I did. I woke up around 11 am, and felt a bit better. I had the strength to get up, make myself a piece of toast with jam and have a bit more mineral water. Then I slept some more.

I slept until 5 pm.

I woke up, had dinner with my family, then sat and watched a movie on TV with my sister. By 10 pm, I was in bed, and I slept soundly through the night.

I woke up this morning, and I feel better. I am still a bit under the weather, but the rest I got yesterday made all the difference in the world.

When will I learn?

June 24, 2010

Raina’s Cakes

Posted in appliance parts, Food, RepairClinic.com, Women, Work tagged , , , at 7:11 am by Liliana

The Margarita Cake!

The Margarita Cake!

On several occasions in the past few weeks, employees at RepairClinic.com come to work and were dazzled with a lovely surprise – a beautifully decorated cake!

The first cake was a pink and purple sphere, adorned with jewel colored swirls. As Roger said, it looked like something out of a cartoon by Dr. Seuss. It was playful, twirly and funny. There was a little note next to the cake that said – Enjoy!

We had no idea who made it, and no one wanted to cut into it first and ruin the design.

I know it happened on a Tuesday morning, because we were having our Marketing meeting. Who made the cake?

Raina came forward. We should have known that the cake was hers, it certainly had her lively personality stamped all over it. She and her husband, Tim,  were looking for a fun project and decided to give cake making and decorating a go. They were so good at it from the first try that we all encouraged them heartily.

We cut into the cake and it tasted as good as it looked.

A few days later we found another cake in the lunchroom – this one was made in the shape of Sylvester the cat. Tim made Sylvester, and sent it to the good people at RepairClinic to enjoy. Employees looked, laughed, marveled and then attacked. Sylvester was gone before I went to the lunchroom for my second cup of coffee.

But it was the cake number three that blew us all away. Early one morning, Raina brought in a shimmering, green cake in a shape of a huge margarita glass. She even had a straw sticking out on one side.

People from all departments came to see the margarita glass cake. Cameras appeared in the lunchroom, flash lights were brightening the start of our day, and the morning acquired that sparkly and elegant feeling usually reserved for festive afternoons.

We can’t wait to see what Raina and Tim come up with next!

June 21, 2010

RepairClinic.com Summer Barbecue

Posted in appliance parts, Children, Company Meetings, Family, Food, RepairClinic.com, Weather, Women, Work tagged , , , at 6:46 am by Liliana

RepairClinic.com Summer Barbecue and Fun Day

RepairClinic.com Summer Barbecue and Fun Day

Last week, we celebrated the beginning of summer with a company barbecue and family fun day at RepairClinic.com.

After all the downpours and extreme weather we were having in Michigan lately, we were all a bit nervous. But the morning was pleasant, sunny and dry. Perfect for a barbecue.

The tent was already up when I arrived, and people were arranging tables and chairs. Two huge bouncies we had rented out for the afternoon fun with the kids were being inflated. I had stopped at the flower shop and picked up dozens of jewel colored African violets. Wrapped in green and white tissue paper they added charm and elegance to our gathering when I placed them on white tablecloths.

The grills were being fired up on the side of our building, and Lisa, Ryan, Tracy, Shielda and Veronica were ready to start grilling when Raina arrived with the meat.

Alana stopped at the bakery to pick up the desserts – an amazing selection of delectable little pastries, fruit tarts, chocolate brownies, carrot cake slices and napoleons.

When employees started lining up at 12:30, everything was set up and ready. I placed a perfectly done piece of steak on my plate, potato salad on the side, and green salad with dried cherries.  Prizes were given, employees recognized and Larry informed us on the progress of the latest projects and initiatives. I quietly listened as I tasted a delicate fruit tart with light cream and tangy kiwi and raspberries.

After the employee luncheon, we started cleaning up and preparing for the arrival of our friends and families. The bouncies were ready. We brought out the food, the ice cream cart full of goodies, and lots of cold and refreshing drinks.

The balloon guy was setting up when the first families arrived. Children lined up and I don’t think that guy got a break for a second the entire afternoon. We had two caricaturists doing portraits and each had a long list of patrons. Music was playing in one corner of the tent and children danced with full balloon headgear. Others were racing up the large bouncies, sliding down, then racing up again. People talked and some introduced new colleagues to their families. I visited with the little children and held the new babies. Everyone took pictures.

No one wanted to go home at the end of the afternoon. Children asked their moms and dads if they could come again tomorrow. And, I don’t think I was the only one who slept like a baby that night.

June 7, 2010

RepairClinic.com Walking Program

Posted in appliance parts, Health, RepairClinic.com, Work tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:54 am by Liliana

RepairClinic.com Walking Program

RepairClinic.com Walking Program

RepairClinic.com is the kind of company that encourages its employees to take care of their health. Our Health and Wellness committee, STAND (Stepping To A New Direction) has started a walking program this June and the response has been overwhelming.

This is how it works:

  • All employees are invited to join the walking program
  • Everyone who participates receives a free pedometer to track their steps and a free t-shirt
  • Participants should log their steps every day into an Excel spreadsheet or on a log sheet
  • The program runs through the month of June
  • Participants are encouraged to walk 4,000 steps a day the first week; 6,000 steps a day the second week; 8,000 steps a day the third week; 10,000 steps a day the fourth week
  • Names of participants will be placed in a bowl and drawn randomly for prizes every Monday through June.

Prizes will be rewarded throughout the program, but the real gift to all participants will be more movement and physical activity.

I have been taking steps just to make the numbers on my pedometer higher. It is amazing what a difference that little measuring instrument makes. And, my competitive nature is showing signs of life. I really want to try and make those goals. Honestly, it’s not even that hard.

May 29, 2010

A Good Day

Posted in Family, Home, Weather, Women, Work tagged , , at 7:45 am by Liliana

Summer evening

Summer evening

I had a good day yesterday.

I woke up rested and refreshed to a sunny, fragrant, summery morning. I had some berries and kefir and a cup of coffee for breakfast, and then I headed to work. The traffic was light.

It was quiet at my office, I had no meetings scheduled, and everything I touched, worked the first time. How often does that happen? I had to do a lot of writing and was happy with the results. My colleague Raina and I collaborated on solving a problem for a new project and we found a solution.

Everything moved at a relaxed pace, but I got a lot done. Everyone was kind to me. My computer didn’t break. My colleagues and I took a walk in late afternoon and not even the hot, humid weather could put a damper on my good mood.

I left work feeling happy with my accomplishments. The evening was going to be busy. Nena’s college roommate, Carolyn, was staying with us for the night and needed to be picked up from the train station. Sam had a class to go to. Everyone in the household had obligations that evening.

I tidied up the house, cleaned the bathrooms, changed the towels, and started a load of laundry. Then I went to pick up Carolyn from the station. Just as I was pulling into the parking lot she called to tell me that the train would be late. She wasn’t sure how long. Well, ok, I thought, perfect evening for ice cream. I stopped at my favorite place and had some delicious hazelnut gelato. I was grateful to the train for being late.

After we all assembled at home and had dinner, I took Kaya for a late walk. It’s good to have a dog to walk with again. It was dark and cooler by now, the fragrances of summer filling the air. There was a huge, full yellow moon gracing the night sky. The tired world, full of heavy shadows, was quieting down.  I ran into an old man walking his puppy and we exchanged pleasantries while our dogs played.

When I came home I found Branka and Carolyn sitting at the table chatting happily. Nicky was working on her French assignment, Sam studying for his Spanish test. Jeff was reading and Joe working on his computer.

I tried to read for a while, but it was hard to concentrate. I am not sure when I fell asleep.

May 20, 2010

A Golden Morning

Posted in Weather, Work tagged , , , , , , , at 7:16 am by Liliana

A Golden Morning

A Golden Morning

It has been raining a lot in our part of Michigan this spring. Everyone is commenting on it. Every weekend, and most of the week, it rains and rains. Not just a little, not just for a few hours, but all day long. And all night long.

But not today. This morning as I drove to work, the sun was spilling its rays in that golden, mottled pattern that makes one want to lie on a hammock and gaze at the tree canopies all day long.

I am not sure what’s more difficult. Being inside on a cold, dark, rainy day. Or, spending the day inside on a cloudless, luminous day when balmy breezes beckon and bait with temptations.

May 17, 2010

RepairClinic.com Call Center

Posted in appliance parts, RepairClinic.com, Women, Work tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 6:57 am by Liliana

Joey Gagnon - Call Center Manager at RepairClinic.com

Joey Gagnon - Call Center Manager at RepairClinic.com

RepairClinic.com has a large Call Center whose objective it is to take good care of our customers. More than fifty seven customer representatives work hard to make transactions with our company easy, pleasant and efficient.

Joey Gagnon runs the Call Center and this kind and gentle woman makes it seem effortless and uncomplicated. It is anything but. The Call Center answers phone calls, operates a Live Chat, and runs a store front for local customers who prefer picking up their parts. Phones and Live Chat hours are 8 am to midnight, seven days a week. The counter is open from 8 am to 6 pm, seven days a week.

The Call Center also has a number of highly trained experts, appliance repair gurus, who can answer technical questions from customers. RepairClinic offers free repair advice on the Repair Help page of our website.  If customers cannot find the answer to their question there, they can contact the gurus though our website and submit question about their specific problems.

Live Chat is used mainly for quick questions; verifications that the customer has found the correct part; questions about returns and warranty; questions about shipping charges and time-frames; and tracking on existing orders.

We get many customer emails and calls thanking us for our efforts. We try our best.

Come and visit us at RepairClinic.com.

May 13, 2010

Morning Blues

Posted in Weather, Women, Work tagged , , , , , , , at 7:05 am by Liliana

Field of wild flowers

Field of wild flowers

My morning started off badly.

I woke up tired. I didn’t sleep well and had spent the very early hours of the morning thinking of all the things I needed to do that day. When the alarm went off, it was an unpleasant surprise.

The smallest task felt like an affront. I started coffee, made breakfast and woke Sam up. I had forgotten that he didn’t have school and was looking forward to sleeping late. The two of us exchanged some sharp words. Finally, I got out into the drizzly morning, placed all my items into the car and started driving. I had a flat tire.

No, no, no!

I returned home. Jeff was cross with me, but stayed calm and considered a solution. He needed to be at a meeting in half an hour. Nicky needed to be taken to school. I needed to get to work.

OK. Jeff will change the tire, and then go to his meeting. I will wait for Nicky to get ready, take her to school and then head to work. I will be late. Nothing could be done about that.

I waited for Nicky impatiently while she ate breakfast and got ready. Then we headed across town. The traffic was slow. At one point I almost crashed when a car in front of me stopped suddenly and unexpectedly: a family of geese was crossing the road. The goslings were so finely ordered and well behaved, Nicky and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. In that second, the tone of my morning was completely changed.

Nicky and I started talking, and I forgot that I was in a hurry. She told me about her plans for the day, her friends, her upcoming prom. We told funny stories. We grew silent to hear a few lines of a song we both love. When she jumped out of the car, I was sorry to say good bye.

I decided to take the back country roads to work instead of my usual highway route. Even though there was construction, the traffic was light. The lights were green and I kept zipping through. I turned off the news and turned the dial to my favorite classical music station. The sounds of a rich, lush Bach violin concerto filled my van.

The landscape outside mirrored the music perfectly; overcast, heavy, lush, almost Gothic in its intensity. The fields of rich, black earth stretched out into the distance.  The trees were heavy with recent rain, their leaves green, green, green. Large bushes of lilacs lined the road, purple and white. And then, one entire field, left untilled and idle, like a gift to me, filled with a rainbow of wild flowers.

A beautiful beginning to a beautiful day.

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