Mike and I spent most of today in Indiana. Mike used to be employed with the City of Hammond, Indiana's Health Department. (A lot of you will know Hammond, even if you don't realize it. Hammond is the real-life basis for the fictional Indiana town in "A Christmas Story." Author Jean Shepherd grew up in Hammond.) Late in 2006, Mike got hired on with the City of Chicago - a job he'd been trying to get for some time. We actually moved into Chicago in order for him to apply, because you have to reside in Chicago before you can apply for a job for the city. The reason he was looking to leave is because every year the mayor of Hammond (an evil troll of a man) would suggest that they could save money by eliminating the health department. And for four months or so, Mike and I would be on edge about the possibility of him losing his job - until the city council voted to keep them. The first year, they got all the council members' votes. The next year, a couple of members had drifted over to "the dark side" and voted for elimination. Even though the Health Dept. dodged the bullet that year...well, to Mike and I, the writing was on the wall. We were relieved when Mike got on in Chicago, even though we missed all the great people he worked with in Hammond. Last year it happened. The mayor put all of Mike's former co-workers out of work. I hate that guy.
Anyway, as you can imagine - they don't see each other much anymore. But Mike's friend, Camille fixed that today. A bunch of the former Health Dept. met up at her house for brunch and she invited Mike and I. It was great fun!
This is John and Mike. The only two guys in the Health Dept. except for the Health Officer.
Muriel, Luella and Rita. And yes, Muriel is wearing a hamburger on her head. Rita found it in a bunch of silly hats that she found when she cleaned out all the decorations she'd bought for the dept during the 35 years she worked there. I'm not sure why she gave the hamburger to Muriel - I suspect there's a story behind it somewhere. Rita was forced into retirement by the department closing. Rita always asks about my dad because after my mom died, I made a joke to her about my dad being "a catch." You know - newly single, retired, kids grown and out of the house, money to spend. It's been a bit of a running joke between us.
A close-up of Muriel and her hamburger hat.
This is Ed and Sue. Sue worked with Mike at the Health Dept. She, too, was forced into retirement by the closing of the department. Ed and Sue are Chicago Pollacks who moved to Indiana when the neighborhood they'd been living in started to turn rough (1960's, I believe) - Ed told me today that he speaks Polish. I practiced my two phrases on him. They've been married near to forever. Sue's really sweet and Ed's hilarious. He knows everything. Or thinks he does, anyway - but in a good natured way.
Here's Mike with Camille. Camille and Mike were inspectors together and I enjoy spending time with her, as does Mike, I'm sure.
When we arrived, this board said, "Happy Birthday, Allison." Allison is Camille and Al's daughter. I asked when Allison's birthday was, thinking it was coming up. It's September 1st. Camille laughed when she realized it hadn't been changed in six months. So she went over and wrote my name. I protested, saying that my birthday's not for another month, but apparently mine's the first one coming up.
Al, Camille and Mike. Al's Camille's husband. Mike loves hanging out with him. He's got a great sense of humor and he's just an all around great guy.
To combat the boredom of being laid off, Camille's taken up MaryKay and I went home with a lot more than I went there with. That orange hand stuff is to die for, though. It's a three step process that leaves your hands feeling softer than soft. I was going to say softer than a baby's butt, but that expression has always half-way creeped me out. I mean, what are you doing feeling a baby's butt anyways? Geez.
Tomorrow promises to be straight out of Mike's beer-induced nightmares. We're going shopping. I need to see what I can find in the way of uber-professional wear. And buy some trouser socks. I am running low on socks anyway - but last week I went to work in "Dukes of Hazzard" socks. That's classy and sexy.