October 5, 2010

In Enemy Territory

Posted in Children, Family, Food, Knitting, Traditions, Travel tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 6:49 am by Liliana

Ohio Michigan Rivalry

Ohio-Michigan Rivalry

My nephew Sasha works as a community organizer in Columbus, Ohio.

He graduated from college last summer and this is his first serious, full-time job. He knows few people in this city, so my sister, brother-in-law and I decided to visit last weekend. We planned to feed him some good food, catch up on news and cheer him up.

We also wanted to keep him company during a college football game between Michigan and Indiana. It is not easy cheering for your team in a sports bar all alone. Especially not when you are in Ohio State country and everyone is cheering against you.

Early Saturday morning, we had a huge breakfast at an old diner on Main Street. We shared an omelet, biscuits, blueberry pancakes, bacon and hash browns. We sipped coffee without hurry, laughed and talked. It was a warm, golden morning.

After breakfast, Sasha drove us around the city. I had never been to Columbus before and I expected a quietly dying urban landscape with monotonously endless strip malls. It was anything but. The downtown has a beautiful, modern, innovative skyline. The ethnic neighborhoods like German Village, Italian Village and the market area have a distinctive charm all their own. The city feels vital, young and stylish.

I wanted to walk through the Ohio State University campus. But when we drove up, we realized that Sasha was wearing a University of Michigan t-shirt. Everyone else, as far as the eye could see, was wearing red buckeye shirts. We decided to stay in the car.

We had lunch at the market area. The market is a renovated old warehouse that now houses fine artisan and ethnic food stores. Sasha and Joe had sushi, Branka had tender barbecued ribs and I decided to try a sampling of Indian vegetarian dishes. We took our food upstairs, made a colorful spread on a table, and shared.

By this time, the sky was getting cloudy and it was threatening rain so we walked to Sasha’s favorite sports bar. The music was deafening and a million TV’s were blaring different football games at the same time. Not one was of the Michigan/Indiana game. Sasha found a waitress willing to turn one of the TV’s to the right channel and we huddled around a cozy table to watch.

I am not much of a football fan, in fact, I hardly understand the game. So I got my knitting out, and worked on a delicately gauzy scarf for my niece. On occasion I glanced at the TV to see what Sasha and Joe were getting excited about. Most of the other patrons ignored us, although a couple of people noticed Sasha’s Michigan t-shirt and stopped to say hello. Fellow Michiganders.

The expectations were that Michigan would easily beat Indiana, but the game was not as close as expected. It was getting tense. Branka, Joe and I had to leave at halftime, but Sasha promised to keep us posted. It was really hard to leave him there to watch the rest of the game by himself, but we had to go.

While the three of us drove home in the gathering darkness and pouring rain, Sasha kept texting Joe reports on how the game was progressing. It was tied. Then Michigan pulled ahead. Michigan won. Go Blue!

We might have ventured into enemy territory, but the natives were friendly. It was a perfect trip.

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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.

May 24, 2010

Relay for Life of Canton, 2010

Posted in appliance parts, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Good people, Health, Money, Organization, RepairClinic.com tagged , , , , , , at 6:52 am by Liliana

Relay for Life of Canton, 2010

Relay for Life of Canton, 2010

Last weekend, RepairClinic.com participated in the Relay for Life fundraiser in Canton, Michigan. This is an inspiring event that celebrates the lives of people who have battled cancer, remembers loved ones lost, and fights back against the disease by raising money for research. All the money is donated to the American Cancer Society.

At the Canton Relay, teams of people camp out at our local park and take turns walking or running around a path surrounding a small pond. This is the second year that RepairClinic has participated in this event and we all find it very moving and inspiring. The event starts with the survivor’s walk. Participants stand on the sidelines and cheer those who have battled the disease. I always cry when I look around me and see young children, mothers with babies, middle aged people, senior citizens. No one is immune to this disease. Still, as hard as it is, there is healing and comfort in the support and cheers from other people, in their love and encouragement.

This year’s Relay was a huge success. These are the official numbers:

The Relay For Life of Canton celebrated 347 survivors, had 1,283 participants, honored the battle of over 3,630 loved ones with luminaria and raised $248,062 for the fight against cancer! We exceeded the community’s fund-raising goal by $8,062!

RepairClinic thanks all of you for your help.

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.

March 6, 2010

First Signs of Spring in Michigan

Posted in Garden, Weather tagged , , , , at 7:53 am by Liliana

First Signs of Spring in Michigan

First Signs of Spring in Michigan

The last few days have been bathed in sunlight. The sky is light blue, the clouds high and white; the temperatures in mid thirties. There is still snow on the ground, mostly muddy and dirty now. Nights are cold; last night it was nineteen degrees. But the signs of spring are unmistakable and present everywhere.

The birds are delirious. Their calls, songs and chatter fill the air and wake me up in the morning. I saw a festive red cardinal and his less flamboyant mate happily sitting on the pear tree branch in the back of my house. When I took a walk yesterday afternoon, a fat little robin was pulling worms out of a thawed patch of muddy ground.  The sparrows fill entire neighborhoods, and my friends complain that they are pesky invaders from overseas. But I love those crazy, restless sparrows for they remind me of my childhood in Europe.

The trees are also showing signs of life. It seems that the branches were completely smooth and bare only a week ago. But yesterday, the young maples were exploding with buds. The air is full of promise. The wind smells of warmer, more temperate places. And now, when I walk, I look all around me for new beginnings. It is almost worth going through the harsh, cold winter to be transported by this euphoria of early spring.