2002.10.09 From pickles to payroll

Written by David Green.


When our now 13-year-old Maddy was a preschooler, she spent a fair amount of time accompanying me to work at the Observer. Vestiges of that time still remain: a bag of story books, a box of markers, a few puzzles, an animal lotto game. Now that four-year-old Valerie occasionally joins her mother, Felicia, our ad designer, at the office, other items can be found: a bucket of chalk, coloring books and crayons, a stuffed animal.

Even though they don’t necessarily add to the efficiency or speed of getting things done, kids are a welcome addition to the Observer environment. They may not contribute to the bottom line, but they do provide a note of levity and put a smile on the faces of workers and customers alike.

Several Mondays ago, when we needed Felicia to get a jump on scanning photos, she offered to work at night and brought Valerie to the office with her. When I went home for dinner I invited Valerie to go with me so Felicia could complete some work without interruption.

Our house isn’t really baby or kidproof anymore but Valerie is a pretty smart cookie and not likely to lick the outlets or bang on the windows the way 20-year-old Ben did when he was a tyke. And even if Valerie were to eat dirt the way 16-year-old Rosie used to, I’m still enough of a hovering mother that I would catch her in the act and squash the attempt before she could sully her mouth.

Our house is kid friendly, though, so Valerie found a variety of entertaining things to play with and munch on. Pocky chocolate covered biscuit sticks from Japan (“A wholesome life in the best of taste”) was a new treat and Valerie is game to try anything once.

Pocky has been a favorite at our house ever since our friend John brought a box of it, along with a wealth of other Japanese snack foods, the Christmas before Ben went to Japan. Pocky looks like a very skinny long pretzel dipped in chocolate, but it took a back seat to leftover candy from the birthday party loot bags my friend Kay gave the kids when we were in New York in early September.

Our dress-up collection provided more amusement with its wide array of wacky clothes and shoes, along with several masks, a fluorescent yellow wig, and Billy Bob and Dracula teeth. Exploring the house after losing interest in a scary punk rocker mask, Valerie wondered if she could go upstairs.

“Oh, no, it’s too messy up there,” I said. She tried to talk me into letting her go up anyway, but I imagined her embarrassing me by telling her mom the state of affairs regarding my housekeeping abilities—assuming she didn’t get permanently lost in one of Rosie and Maddy’s voluminous piles of dirty clothes.  

So I said no, again. “It’s way too messy up there, Valerie.”

Nice kid that she is, she moved on, discovering other attractions, such as the piano.

A few weeks after this visit, Valerie came home with David on a Friday at lunch time. I was in the middle of doing laundry and as she played the piano, I headed upstairs to quickly retrieve the dirty towels from the bathroom.

“Can I go upstairs, too?” she asked.

Intent on getting the laundry done and not wanting to spend time watching her upstairs, I said vaguely, “Oh, I don’t think so.”

She didn’t miss a beat when she asked with pure innocence, “Is it still too messy up there?”

And then, bless her four-year-old heart, she said, “Maddy and Rosie should clean up their rooms.”

Later, we were out on the porch and Valerie noticed the unusually dark green watermelon sitting on the bench by our front door. She stared at it for a long second and then sagely observed, “That’s a puh-giant pickle.”

If she can keep us laughing with comments like that, maybe we should put her on the payroll.

    – Oct. 9, 2002 
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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