Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Now I know why men carry pocket knives; they need them to open boxes.

If you made it through yesterday's post,  you know I walked away from the "deal of a lifetime." At least, that's what Mr. Salesman would want me to believe.

Daughter and I continued our shopping, making a trip to Hallmark.  I sent Hubs a text telling him I would pass on the cooktop and explain later. He wrote me back.

"Where are you?"

"The mall."

"Me, too."

"Where are you?"

"Near the food trough."

"Meet me outside Hallmark."

Then we looked up and saw each other.  Hubs was doing some last minute shopping after work. I explained the situation with the cooktop and how the salesman wouldn't even open the box.  Plus, the fact that he said the measurements for the downdraft portion were off made me a little skeptical. Honestly, it was all very odd because the box wasn't even opened yet. How did the previous customer know if the measurements were off?  It all sounded made up, as Hubs would say.

Hubs wanted to go back and talk to him together.  I agreed, but first we had to finish some shopping. We walked to Dillard's, split up again, and then met back.

When we arrived in the appliance store Hubs asked for the previous saleswoman he had spoken with the day before. Of course, she wasn't working that day.  So, we wound up with Mr. Deal.

This time the salesman offered a different reason the last customers returned the cooktop, saying it was the measurements of the actual cooktop and not the downdraft. Obviously, he was guessing. 

Then he continued to say, "Well, she was just interested in the burners."

HELLO. Of course I am interested in the burners. That's where all the cooking happens!

I said that I really wanted to see it, no matter what kind of burners it had.  Hubs pressed and the salesman hesitantly opened the box. 


Surprisingly, the burners were completely different than the ones in the picture and were actually more like the ones I am wanting.  But the cooktop is glass, not porcelain or stainless, and I had to think about it. 

If this is painful for you to read, I understand.  The entire experience was painful. 

We ended up walking away to talk about it and I decided that night to wait.  I have had glass cooktops before and don't care for cleaning them.  They are great as long as you use the perfect cleaner, but I always ended up using the wrong one because I am clumsy and a clutz and not good at following directions.

In the end, I'm still "driving" my old cooktop with the all its dents and wobbly burners. After Christmas, I will continue my test drives for a new one.

If, you know, they will let me actually see it.

I will be off the blog for a few days. Y'all have a Merry Christmas. I hope you get to open all of your boxes!   

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What can I do to get you into a downdraft cooktop today? It's got 10,000 BTUs.

Daughter and I ran last minute errands yesterday in an effort to regain my sanity.  My goal was to finish everything last week, before school was out, but alas, I didn't make the goal. I've never been good at sports.

Our first stop was the post office.  The parking lot was full so the only place I found was behind the little "Authorized Vehicles Only" sign, so I went for it. 

Hubs always teases me that I never break any rules, so I turned to Daughter and said, "Tell your daddy I parked where I wasn't supposed to today. He would be proud."

That was a pristine parenting moment, people.

As soon as we walked up to the post office, I saw the line and did an about face.  We climbed into the car, pulled out of the illegal parking space, and headed for UPS.

The line at UPS wasn't much shorter, but Brown is so much more efficient than Newman, so we were finished in no time.

The next stop was the appliance store where we looked at a cooktop that Hubs had found on sale.  We are looking to replace our old one and this store had one on closeout that had been returned from an order.  Daughter and I stood browsing the cooktops on display.

The salesman walked up and asked,"Hello, m'am.  What drove you in here today?"

I so wanted to tell him a Honda Pilot, but I thought that would be rude.  Clever, but rude.

So I said,"A cooktop" which is not only inaccurate but actually impossible.

I proceeded to tell him that my husband had been in there the day before and looked at one on clearance. 

"Oh, yes, this one," he said," as I recall the only thing wrong with it was that the measurements on the box did not match the actual measurements."

"Hmm.. the clerk yesterday said there was nothing wrong with it."


Crickets chirping.

I continued,"So, the customer's measurements were wrong or the box is wrong?"

"The box."

"Then, can I open the box and look at it?"


More crickets.

He pointed to other models on the floor, all on sale but more expensive.  I told him I needed a gas cooktop.  The one on clearance was a real deal, but Hubs and I wanted to make sure it was one we wanted.

I asked again about the closeout one.

He started to walk away and said,"Let's look at a picture in the catalog."

At this point I was starting to understand why he asked me what I drove in there because I was beginning to feel like I was at the used car lot instead of the appliance center.  I went along for the sake of being polite (again, I may break one law each decade, but I try my very best not to be rude.)

He flipped through the pages to show me a wallet-sized picture of the life-sized cooktop that was in the box on the floor that I could potentially see in person if only he would open the box.


He showed me pictures of other cooktops, some of them electric.

"I need gas," I said.

"Oh, yes, that's right," he said as he flipped the pages.

He turned back to the picture of the original cooktop.  I looked at the tiny picture and told him that I wanted to see the burner covers, which is why I wanted to see it in person. I want a smooth, continuous burner cover so my tiny pots don't wobble. 

He said,"Well, they're going to look like this. They're cast iron."

I looked more closely, becoming increasingly frustrated that I should be able to open the box and see the cooktop for myself. Right there in the little picture were burner covers that appeared to have openings at the burner.

Wobbly pots.

I told him those burner covers wouldn't work and I'd have to think about it.

He sighed and said,"Well, we're just going to have to blow up the cooktop and build a new house."

"Nope, we're going to have to keep shopping." I said, and politely walked away thanking him for his help.

That's when I decided to head toward what actually drove me there and go home. Right after I finished the rest of my errands. 

That part of the story tomorrow.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why I Love Fresh Market and Other Places That Draw Me Into Their Vortexes of Pleasant Shopping

I suppose in Shakespeare's day, what you are about to read would be in the form of a poem or maybe even a sonnet, but this is 2011 and I'm sure not Shakespeare.

Fresh Market rocks. 

(See, not Shakespeare.)

I have no idea if Fresh Market is regional or if most of you know what I am about to describe, but I have a feeling that if you do not have a Fresh Market near you, most of you (except those in SmallTowns everywhere) have something like it.

Fresh Market makes grocery shopping pleasant- not to the point of fun, because people who shop at Fresh Market are much more serious than that.  (They probably read Shakespeare.  ALOUD.)  The marketing department is GENIUS.  I can picture the development days when they all sat around with their half-caff, non-fat lattes in their all black wardrobes drawing the diagram of a grocery store experience on recycled bamboo paper.

Here is what they brainstormed:

1.  Warm Welcome- As soon as I walk in, I see woven baskets hanging from some sort of natural display, market bags, gifts and candles.  Then I turn the little corner into the dimly lit grocery store where I'm greeted by the scent of roses and lilies.

2.  Fresh Flowers- The scent of roses and lilies is strong, but not funeral strong.  Pleasant strong. The flowers are so fresh I'd swear a small child just picked them from her grandmother's garden.  None of the flowers are ever wilted or brown and they all are wrapped in pretty papers.

3.  Free Coffee- They give me coffee in tiny Dixie cups, the kind you use to rinse at the dentist, but because I am standing there near roses and kumquats, I don't notice my free coffee is just a tiny paper cup filled with two sips of coffee. No, I feel special, appreciated, dare I say- loved? 

4.  Dim Lighting-  I am not sure if the dim lighting is to hide all the prices or just to add to that loved customer theme, but it works.  Once my eyes have adjusted, I want to stay and spend money.  (Rotten marketers!).

5. Classical music- Seriously.  They play Bach while you check the lettuce.

6. Produce-  Each tomato and every grape is exquisite.  They have interesting fruits and vegetables that I can't get anywhere else, but I'll probably still have to go to Winn Dixie for my green peanuts. Granted, a head of cabbage is five dollars, but that would make some mighty fine cole slaw.

7.  Perfection-  Every single item on the shelf is perfect, free of flaws, dusted, and straight.  But it's not perfect in a creepy Sleeping With The Enemy kind of way, more like a THIS PLACE IS AWESOME AND MAKES ME WANT TO BUY STUFF kind of way.  (Although, the regular shoppers do not use words like awesome or stuff. I'm not a regular shopper.  Could you guess?)

8.  Special Displays-  The cheese is always stacked haphazardly on purpose and even the chips look like they just arrived and are waiting for me to toss them ever-so-gently into my unique little shopping cart (that never, ever squeaks.)

Just FYI- Once a shopping cart squeaked in Fresh Market and an employee wearing a pretty apron and offering slices of warm French baguette, swiftly rolled it into a back room with the wilted lilies and the bags of bags of discarded Dixie coffee cups, never to be seen again. 

9.  Joyful Deli and Meat Department Workers-  There are always people diligently making something and they always look happy. They even look attractive in hair nets.  Maybe it's the dim lighting. They make me want to eat sushi and things like squid salad. 

10.  The Nut Bins- Every time I walk by I have the urge to purchase raw, organic almonds.

11.  The Candy Bins-  Chocolate covered everything.  It is strategically placed right next to the free coffee, which makes me want to buy ten dollars worth of chocolate to see if it compliments the freshly brewed Dixie cup of Hazelnut blend. 

12.  Food I've Never Heard Of- They have crackers from France and cookies from Germany. (Cue the Bach CD.) All of it costs more than the gas that got me there yet I want to try each and every one.  Oh, wouldn't that be tasty with some organic horseradish raspberry orange blossom honey mustard...

13.  Izze- They sell it.  Enough said.

14.  Customers-  We're all hyped up on free coffee, but the dim lighting makes us a bit sleepy, so it balances out and everyone is happy and friendly and simply a delight to be around. 

"Oh, did you want to get by me so you can buy that nice Sockeye Salmon?"

"Why, yes."

"Then, pardon me. Let me move my quiet little cart so you can pass by."

"Thank you, lovely woman with the Dixie cup, have a most joyous day."

"You, too.  May I say those roses in your cart compliment your skin?'

"Why, thank you.  You are most kind."

15.  Free Coffee- Yes, I repeat myself, because let's face it,  whether it's at Sam's Club or the Wal-mart Auto Center, people love some free coffee.  Drat! Those Dixie cups!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

TV personalities stranded in the jungle would be happy to have this!

Yesterday I felt a little like Paula Deen and a little like a reject from Iron Chef America.

Wouldn't it be a hoot if they had an Iron Chef The South?  The secret ingredient is...water chestnuts!!

I was making a meal for a family who recently had a baby. I'd planned that menu and also needed to plan for my own family. Instead of having double dishes and trying to fit it all in the oven, I decided to put some chicken breasts in the crock pot for us.  I made extra rice and cooked some veggies on the stove. While I was out delivering the meal to the family, I had Hubs and Daughter watch the biscuits.  (Mary B's, not homemade.)

I returned and Hubs had taken the biscuits out of the oven.  We were fixing our plates and I told him the biscuits were Mary B's. 

"Oh," he said. 

He doesn't complain, but I could hear the disappointment in his voice. Mary can make some mean biscuits.  They are as close to homemade as you can find, but Hubs likes my biscuits.  For this dinner, I didn't have time to make some from scratch. 

Then we started dinner and I took a bite of my crock pot chicken.

"This is the most bland chicken I've ever made," I said.

Hubs and Daughter assured me it was fine and then I gave Daughter the go-ahead to get some ketchup from the frig.

Ketchup fixes everything.

I added some to my own plate and continued to eat the chicken. 

Then Hubs spoke up in an effort of encouragement. 

"If we were Survivorman, we'd be happy to have this," he said.

I put down my fork and laughed. 

"So, basically you are saying that the only way this would be good is if it we were starving and we had nothing else to eat," I said. 


I ate my ketchup-covered chicken and continued to laugh knowing what he meant and that he was really trying to encourage me and also knowing that he was absolutely right.  Survivorman could eat it, but only if he had some ketchup.

Hubs ate his chicken, along with two of his frozen biscuits and thanked me (as he always does) for making it. This is why I love him.

That's when Daughter spoke up and said,"You should blog this."

And so I did.

(And if you've never had Mary B's biscuits, do try.  They are yummy. Unless your family members are experts in the homemade biscuit making circle, they will never know the difference.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

And the award for soliciting specimens goes to...

I am happy to report that all of my begging and whining (for fish scraps) paid off.  Daughter got second place on her science fair project.  She is tickled to death and we are proud as can be. In case you were wondering, which I am CERTAIN you were, the exoskeletons were more affected by the vinegar.  This doesn't mean a whole lot except that we may never see pickled crab or oyster on the menu at Red Lobster.

They say that next year she can build on this project.  So, what does that mean? Should I go ahead and contact area merchants for shark cartilage? 

I'm still holding out hope that she will choose to grow tomatoes.

On another subject, I was encouraged by your comments about getting ready for Christmas.  I did manage to get more lights on the tree.  It's not Martha Stewartish, but it is done.  Tomorrow we may go all out and hang an ornament.

We are crazy busy with the decorating.

Tomorrow was supposed to be a shopping day, but something came up, so now Friday will be a shopping day.  Technically today was a shopping day since I was at Target buying Christmas lights.

As you can see life is riveting.  This ain't New York.

Edited to note: I was reading over this again and realized my typo. It was the ENDOskeletons that were more affected. I corrected it. This is why she is the scientist and I am just the one who begs for FREE DEAD CRABS.

Not a post, but more of a survey really.

We finally have a Christmas tree in our house.  It only has lights on the bottom because each and every year a little lights thief climbs into our attic and steals at least one strand of lights.  I am not kidding.  Every. Single. Year. I end up buying lights because as soon as I start putting them on the tree, I realize we are short. Then I end up making a run to Target or Wal-mart.  Maybe the little thief wears a red  polo or a blue vest.  It is VERY suspicious.

I am a bit behind on the decorating. Hopefully I'll be all caught up soon.

As soon as I get all the stuff down from the attic.  Sigh...

What about you?  How is your decorating going?  And if you tell me that you are all done, the gifts are all wrapped, and your third dozen of cookies are in the oven, I won't harbor any grudges.

Nope. Not at all. AHEM.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Get My Daughter's Science Fair Project From A Garbage Can

It was late at night.  Daughter's science fair was underway.  I propped my feet up on the coffee table to rest a spell and decided to flip through her science fair packet.  There on Page Important was some information in bold.

The science project needs to include at least 3-5 trials.

Kudos to the science teacher for trying her best to share this vital information with her students and parents. (Hello, it was in bold letters! What else could she have done to get me to notice?  Rent a billboard for me to read while I sat waiting in car line?) 

So, despite her best efforts, I missed it. 

It is also sad that I should have known this information without reading the packet since I did graduate from high school and even earned a college degree (which included an entire class aptly named "Experimentation.")


So, there we were thinking we were at the end of the experiment when in fact we were simply at the end of TRIAL ONE.  I emailed the teacher to ask if we could keep her scale for a few more days, confessing my blunder.  She graciously agreed.

Then I scratched my head wondering where else I could go to beg for crab shells and fish bones.  I couldn't go back to the original market and grocery stores because, somehow that just sounded, how do I say, pitiful?

Lucky for me, we have a string of grocery stores and seafood markets, so I thought of another Winn Dixie and a particular market I could visit.  I headed on my quest the next morning.

My first stop was Winn Dixie.  When I pulled up I saw a tour bus with a group of retirees. I walked in to a sea of sweet little ladies wearing fanny packs and browsing the bakery.

I wanted to run up to the bus driver and ask,"Hey, do you know you are in FLORIDA?" 

I mean, yes, Winn Dixie is a fine grocery store and they have regional importance, but if I were paying to be driven around the Sunshine State I would ask to be taken to, I don't know, the beach.  Or even to a shopping center that had outlets stores as opposed to deli turkey on sale for $4.99 a pound. 

I made my way to the seafood counter where I discovered that this Winn Dixie was not the crab people and they did not have any uncooked crab.  I purchased some chicken for the chicken bones, latex gloves, and more vinegar. 

Then I drove to the seafood market where I again gave my pathetic speech about my daughter's science fair project and could I just buy two oysters, one crab leg, and some fish remains? The young girl behind the counter was a bit confused about what to do so she asked her supervisor.

I overheard his instructions,"Just sell her two oysters, some crab legs, and give her a fish carcass."

The girl went to the back along with another young guy working the counter.  The girl came out with what was left of a red snapper and two oysters. 

Then the guy emerged with a dead crab.  With a huge smile on his face, he declared,"I found her a dead crab!"

His discovery meant that I didn't have to buy any fresh crab and could walk away with a free dead crab. 

Lucky me.

I paid for the oysters and the grouper I decided we should have for dinner, and walked to my car with the loot- two oysters, grouper fillets, a free dead crab, and a red snapper carcass still looking at me.

After picking up Daughter from school (Hey, honey! Look what Mom brought home this time!) I immediately came home and headed to the kitchen to clean the specimens.

Y'all.  There is a reason they keep that stuff on ice. 

I stood at the sink, cleaning, rinsing and removing crab meat from my FREE DEAD CRAB as Daughter held her little sandwich bags open for me to drop in the specimen.

I diligently worked except for one moment when I paused and said a prayer that next year Daughter would decide to grow tomatoes for her science fair project.  Hubs had to actually shuck the oyster for me since this particular market said they couldn't do it for me (something about it being illegal because they also are a restaurant and how it is a health hazard, blah, blah, blah.)

After all the specimens were prepared, Daughter continued with her experiment.  I am happy to report that Trial Two is underway.  There's an oyster shell, red snapper bone, chicken bone, and blue crab shell soaking in vinegar in my kitchen.

I suppose tomorrow she will continue on to Trial Three. Even if she never discovers the cure for osteoporosis, I have discovered ways to get free dead sea creatures. I've joined the ranks of stray cats everywhere.

Except for the faint odor of fish carcass on my hands, I am pretty proud of myself.


I really should put that in bold... 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

I'll pass on the Filet-O-Fish, thankyouverymuch.

I am often amazed and amused at the things I do as a mom.

Sure, we anticipate things like changing diapers, cleaning up puke in the middle of the night, or "saving" spiders who sneak inside and need to return to the outdoors (as opposed to squashing them like a bug, er, arachnid.)

We know we will do all of those duties through the years, but once our kids are potty trained and can relatively aim for the garbage during a stomach virus, we figure the extremely messy tasks of motherhood are passed  us.

Then there is the science fair.

It is the monster of all monster school projects.  As soon as you breathe life into it, it grows and grows into an enormous creature full of deadlines and log books and crazy, long words like hypothesis  (which is an if/then phrase, in case you forgot.)

And don't even get me started on graphs.

This year Daughter was not required to do a science project.  However, some of the kids could volunteer.  Guess who raised her hand.

We've always taught her to go the extra mile, to do her very best, and to strive for excellence.  It makes you a better person.  It gives you confidence. 

It gives your mom a migraine.

Daughter selected a few possibilities for her topic. One involved dog training, one explored the senses, and the other was related to bone loss.

She picked bone loss.

Specifically, she chose to test what will happen if you soak bones in vinegar.  Apparently this is a common experiment, so the teacher helped her find a twist.  Instead of simply soaking a chicken bone in vinegar, the teacher suggested she try other bones, and even compare types of skeletons.  At the end of our talk with the teacher, Daughter agreed and decided she would test the effects of vinegar on endoskeletons and exoskeletons.

Did I mention she volunteered? I did?

The experiment itself is simple enough and is actually pretty interesting, since different types of skeletons contain different levels of calcium which, by the way, can be broken down for different reasons (like pH, hence the vinegar.)  Her study won't solve your grandmother's struggle with osteoporosis, but it could point to some interesting facts about bone loss.

Are you still here?

She came home from our meeting with the teacher all excited and I was actually relieved because this experiment was doable.  Simple.  Straightforward. 

Until yesterday.

Daughter chose a chicken bone and a fish bone for her endoskeletons and a crab shell and oyster shell for the exoskeletons.  The chicken bone was easy.  I have deboned a chicken several times in my life.  No problem.  So I bought some drumsticks. Easy Peasy.  (She wanted the bones to be uncooked, so that is why I had to search for fresh items instead of simply going through the KFC drive thru and keeping the leftovers.)

Chicken bone- check.

Fortunately for us, we live in Florida where seafood is abundant.  So I stopped at a seafood market. 

"This is going to sound odd, but my daughter is doing a science fair project involving fish bones, oyster shells, and crab shells.  We aren't eating the meat, but I wondered if you have any scraps? Or can I just purchase one of each item?"

The shop owner went to the back room where they put all the fish scraps and returned with one oyster, which he shucked for me, and the tail and backbone of a flounder.

Let me just tell you that the next time you order your flounder fillet say a quick prayer thanking the seafood expert who delicately removed the backbone and tail for you so that you could enjoy a nice piece of flounder next to your sea salt baked potato.

Because yesterday?  Yesterday I was given that very backbone and tail and let me tell you, it is nasty.  I've cleaned fish before, but there is something about being handed a clear bag double tied with the remnants of a dead fish inside. 

This is why they created Mother's Day, people.

The shop owner did not have any crab legs or any type of crab, so I made my way to Publix.  I gave my same sad story speech about being the dedicated mother who helps her kid with a science fair project even though there is a fish carcass in her car as we speak, and could he please hurry up because it is almost 80 degrees out there?!

Maybe I didn't say that exactly, but I did ask for an uncooked crab shell.  Publix only had cooked crab, so I got back in the car with my flounder fillet trash and drove to Winn Dixie.

As it turns out, Winn Dixie is not only the beef people, but they are the crab people, too. They had crab legs and I asked to buy a small one.  The butcher took pity on me, snapped a claw off a snow crab in the case, wrapped it in butcher paper,, and wrote "No Sale. Mike."

Thanks, Mike.

At this point I was beginning to feel like a stray cat wandering from store to store begging for scraps.  I made my way to car line, cranked up the AC, setting the vents to the floor to cool down the flounder, and sipped my Starbucks coffee- a mom's reward for her dedication.

Daughter was extremely thankful when she climbed in the car and learned I had gathered her supplies, even though the supplies were starting to reek.

When we got home, I showed her all the goods.  Because they were not cooked, I took on the duty of cleaning.  Daughter wrinkled up her nose and watched as I rinsed, pulled, cut, sliced, and scraped at endoskeletons and exoskeletons. Then she bagged and labeled them all, and placed them in the frig.

It was quite an afternoon, a learning experience.  I feel like I have bonded with the hard-working folks at seafood markets and restaurant kitchens.  God love 'em.  I bet they got their training from their kid's science fair project.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

They say the hearing is the first to go.

I was supposed to get labs drawn one morning and although I could think of nothing better to do with my time than chatting it up with a phlebotomist about the weather and why she can or can not get a vein, I ended up on the computer and watching Rachael Ray. God love her. She loves to cook with smokey bacon.

I've met some super nice phlebotomisits. (For some reason today, I like to say that word. Is that not a cool word? Just rolls off the tongue.) There was the friendly Diane who always wore the fun, printed smock and smelled faintly of Virginia Slims (and Certs to try to cover it up for the patient.)  Then there was Susan, who had the knee issues, but could probably get a vein if I were hanging upside down on the monkey bars, and Peggy, who, bless her heart, would move the tourniquet, tell me to squeeze the red ball, and thump, thump, thump 'til her thumb was blue, then give up and call in Susan.

(And, in case you are wondering, I am not ill or fighting off any chronic disease. I am on a routine medication which requires labs several times a year. But, thanks for caring, peeps.)

Needleless to say (sorry) I have had many experiences in the lab.  The good thing is, I'm not afraid of needles. 

I usually sit there calmly and chat it up with the lab techs.  Because of that, I learned an insiders tip to that weird chair we all have to sit in.

You know the one?  It is always too high, making my feet kind of dangle to the floor, and it has that little arm that folds down in front of you like you are getting on an amusement park ride.  I always thought that little arm that folds down was for you to put your own arm out for them to stick.  Nope, it's not.

On one of my many visits a tech asked me if I was squeamish, afraid of needles, or got light-headed. I told her "no," I was fine with needles.  That's when she told me that the little arm that folds down is there to hold you up in case you pass out. She said some people do actually faint and that they put the arm down because they "can't really catch you from hitting the floor while they are holding a needle in your arm."

I'm glad safety is a priority, aren't you?

She began to describe the various patients she had helped who were genuinely scared or freaked out and that's when I was glad that the only thing that makes me squeamish is snakes.

So, if you are one of those people, bless your heart.

Wow. This is a long and boring post about needles.

Fast forward to when I actually got to the lab which was the following day.

The sweet tech called my right back, asked me my name and date of birth.  We laughed about how I had the exact same birthday as her dad which prompted her to share a story about when they celebrated his birthday at Disney World and how her mom bought him some mouse ears.  (See, I like to chat with phlebotomists.  Okay, last time I use that word, but... cool, right?)

There was a patient sitting next to me, also in a safety seat with her feet kinda dangling. She said,"Wow! SHE is getting a lot of tests done!"  I looked down and there were three vials there.  The lab tech didn't comment and I just laughed it off. I think the other patient was nervous.

Within seconds the tech was done, handed me the little cotton ball and said, "Hold pressure, please."

I did and waited for my little strip of bandage tape as I heard her say,"Want some blood thinners?"

Puzzled, I frowned a bit and asked,"Why would you ask me that?"

"I'm not being nosey, ma'am. I just have to ask.  It's for your own safety.  You know, aspirin, coumadin.."

I laughed out loud.  That's when I realized what she really said was, "Are you ON blood thinners?"

I told her about my misunderstanding and she (and the patient next to me) both laughed.

"Oh, no ma'am.  I wasn't offering them to you.  I bet you were thinking you were going to report me as soon as you left."

I said,"Well, I was wondering if it was some new kind of lab technique. I thought 'wow, that's new." 

The three of us laughed while she prepared to work with the next patient and I grabbed my purse to prepare to leave. I walked out, certain that she had a story for her colleagues the rest of the day.

It seems that little folding arm on the chair may help you keep from falling to the floor in case you faint, but it does absolutely nothing for your hearing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Got You, Babe

I was on the phone with a friend the other day and asked her how things were going.

"Groundhog Day," she said,"Every day is Groundhog Day."

I know how she feels.

Except for the Sonny and Cher song waking me up every morning.

And, you know, that I'm not Bill Murray.

The monotony of routine is getting to me.  Every morning I wake up after hitting snooze at least three times, get coffee, let out dog (who I have to walk in the yard in my robe because our fence isn't up yet, but that is another story) put waffles in toaster, wake up Daughter, check waffles, WAKE UP DAUGHTER, throw on clothes, drive to school, hoist instrument out of car, drive home, go for a walk/run, and so on.

It says a lot about your day when the highlight is the 30 minutes that you take a jog around the neighborhood.

Yes, I know. Me. Running!  FOR FUN. 

Let me tell ya, that was a wake up call. So, now I have to figure out a way to make things not so groundhoggish, if that is a word, which I am pretty sure it's not.

I gotta mix it up a bit, bloggy peeps.  Maybe even get jiggy with it.

What about you? Are you feeling like it's Groundhog Day?

And what is the highlight of your day? Surely it's not running.

Do share! 

Monday, October 03, 2011

Swift Justice and Skinny Jeans

Fall is in the air here in the Sunshine State. As soon as there was the whisper of a cool breeze, I ran out to the store to get my fall candle. (So, I didn't really run, I drove and then walked through the mall to Hallmark.) The movers won't pack candles, or at least won't pack some of them.  For some reason they packed some of my jar candles, but they all smell like cherries, the ocean, or Christmas trees.

This reminds me. I really need to update my profile. According to the right margin of my blog, I still live in SmallTown, New Mexico.  I actually live in MediumTown, Florida, so I need to get with it and change my information because I am all about full disclosure here on the blog (which is why my husband is Hubs and my daughter is Daughter. Not only honest and factual, but totally original.)

If I sound like I'm rambling it's because I am.

This weekend flew by.  (More rambling)

Saturday was spent helping Daughter with a homework project, making sure it was proofread and printed, doing laundry, going to horseback riding, and checking out a new Wal-mart.  I live in MediumTown and I still end up at Wal-mart at least once a week. 

We went to church on Sunday (missed Sunday School, yet again) and then headed home to change and go shopping for school clothes because the child, she is growing.

Justice was on my list of stores to hit.  They have everything in the store, EVERYTHING IN THE STORE 40% off (according to the huge sign) which meant we needed to stock up on jeans. I only shop Justice during a sale. I have issues with purchasing things at Justice for full price when I know I can get the exact same scented tee shirt and hoodie at Old Navy for half the price.

All girls love Justice, which used to be called Limited Too. For reasons unknown the company suddenly got all fancy and changed the name, which I don't get.

More rambling.

Honestly, I don't know how they came up with the name, "Justice." Apparently,  girls are falling victim to fashion crimes and now they have to visit a store full of rainbow papasan chairs and slap bracelets so that the twenty-something clerk wearing jeans that need to be hemmed and worn out flip flips can swiftly declare a legal decision with her pink, fuzzy gavel.

Or maybe, you know, not.

Other than the name and the prices, my only other complaint is the music.  They play the same songs over and over.  I learned from the clerk in the unhemmed jeans and flip flops that the soundtrack is the same ten songs played again and again.  It makes me want to shop very quickly, which is usually not beneficial to the retailer.

By the time we had found some jeans that fit, I told Daughter, "We have to leave before that song plays again or I'm gonna pull my hair out." 

It's a good thing everything in the store was 40% off. EVERYTHING IN THE STORE.

Maybe Justice should take lessons from Old Navy in prices and music choices. Although, I don't get their name either. 

Old Navy.  Was there ever a New Navy?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I have no confidence in that gasket!

I am a fairly independent woman.  I can check the oil, change a tire, mow the lawn, and open most pickle jars.  When it comes to plumbing, my skills are limited.

Several weeks ago I may or may not have put too many asparagus spears down the garbage disposal.  Somehow, right after I did or did not flip the switch, the drain stopped up on the garbage disposal side.  The other side drained perfectly fine.  So, I waited for Hubs to get home from work to tell him that something had stopped up the disposal and that the something could possibly be asparagus. 

He asked me for a bucket from the garage and I watched as he removed the PVC pipe to release a gush of water and mushy Spring vegetables. 

Fast forward to a few days ago when I may or may not have been cleaning out the refrigerator and decided to rinse out a leftover rice dish. 

Glug. Glug. 

I flipped the switch and the water just whirled and swirled but refused to go down the drain.  Hubs was not only at work, but also out of town, so I was on my own.

Independent Melanie remembered the repair demo she had received a few weeks early.  So she grabbed the red bucket from the garage, removed the PVC elbow under the sink and watched as nothing happened.  Only a few grains of rice fell. 

I used a makeshift snake (an old wire hanger from the cleaners) to try and dislodge the rest of the rice. 

Glug. Glug. Glug.

The clog was further up the pipe and I needed to remove another section.  It was really, really tight.

The thing is that Strong Melanie is not as skilled as Independent Melanie, so I couldn't loosen the other portion of the PVC pipe to get to the clog.

So I painfully called the plumber.

"Tony" showed up, right on time, donning his red surgical booties and wiping his shoes on a red doormat with the cartoon of a happy plumber on it. 


He looked under the sink, offered me a quote, and I signed my life away as he removed the clog that I may or may not have caused, and I watched as gush of smelly water and rice plopped into the red bucket.

After all was said and done, Tony asked if I would like a complimentary plumbing inspection to check for any problems or leaks.  I agreed because I had just spent over $100 on a drain so I'd better get something else out of this deal.

He walked around the house and I followed with that sinking feeling "Oh, I hope my pipes live up to standards."

Tony called me into the laundry room.

"M'am, do you turn off your valves when you aren't using your washer??"

"Um, no."

He let out a sigh and clicked his pen.

"It is recommended by the manufacturer to turn off your valves when not using the washer.  This is the leading cause of floods in home and these hoses are not as strong as the steel ones."

Another click of the pen.

"Ok," I said sheepishly.

"And do you see these?" he pointed to connections on the hot water heater," They are slightly corroded and you should keep an eye on them."

With another click of his pen he made notes and I squirmed, wondering what he was writing. I suddenly felt like I was in high school trying to pass my driver's test.

He moved on to the bathroom where I heard water running, a flush, and more water running.

Tony walked back into the living room in his little red booties and said,"How often do you use that jet tub?"

"Not often."

"HOW often?"

"Once a month."

Sigh, click, sigh.

And then he proceeded to tell me about how all the water sits in the pipes and that if the tub isn't used bacteria can grow and grow and I should either use it more often or fill it with water and bleach and run the jets periodically to clean it out. 

Corroding valves?!  Flimsy hoses?!  And now I may have a gazillion bacteria growing in my bathtub! This doesn't do much for a girl's plumbing self-esteem.

Sigh. Click.

I wished I had just gone to get the oil changed in the car because a lecture from the mechanic is far better than the systematic inspection from a plumber in little red booties.

However, I clung to hope because my drains and toilets passed beautifully.

At the end of the service call, I learned to buy new washing machine hoses, look for leaks on a water heater, and run ice cubes down the garbage disposal to sharpen the blades. 

I also learned that I need to strengthen my hands so I can remove PVC pipe in order to prevent future plumbing lectures and huge repair bills. I guess I'll practice opening pickle jars.

Oh, and I am soooo getting some little red booties.

Seinfeld fans, enjoy this clip.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Like A Thousand Mondays

It has been one of those weeks. or has it been months?  

Nothing unusual or difficult or unusually difficult, just little things.  When little things start to pile up, that pile just grows and grows until it becomes a big ole' proverbial mountainous molehill.

Instead of describing all the little things in detail, I will list the big lessons I've learned from them.

1.  Always do a thorough check of the backseat before letting you dog climb in.

2.  Small amounts of rice can stop up at garbage disposal.

3.  Lime peels do not help with the smell in a garbage disposal and may inadvertently be used to cause a clog.

4.  When running the dishwasher, remember that it drains using the same drain that is clogged.

5.  When moving, ask the phone company for a new phone number that did not used to belong to a person being investigated for fraud.

6.  The husband's work schedule may change without notice several times within the hour.

7.   Keep the computer on at all times in case a relative needs to call you to reserve a rental car.

8.  Dogs may use the carpet as a potty area, especially when your mother is visiting.

9.  When ordering flowers, be specific about colors and styles. Your interpretation of "Fall" and "bright" are very different.

10.  When ordering said flowers, remembering the loved one is the most important part.  The life they lived keeps it in perspective. 

11.  Children remember Every. Single. Sarcastic. Thing.  you say.  And often repeat it.  On classwork at school.

12.  Teachers with a sense of humor are a gift from The Lord.

13.  A decaf, non-fat latte' can cure a world of ills.

14.  Training a dog early to follow the command "drop" is often helpful.

15.  Dogs should never chew Juicy Fruit gum.

16.  Always refer back to Lesson #1.

Monday, September 05, 2011

More Things I Don't Understand: Edition I Have No Idea

1.  Why you always find coins alone, without other coins. How does a person drop just one coin in a parking lot? Why not several? And what were they doing in the parking lot that they would have the occasion to drop the money? Did they wait to count their change after they left the store?

2. Chess

3.  The falcon insurance commercial. I don't get why anyone would want a falcon.  My husband gets it, though.   

4.  Single ply toilet paper.  Why is it even an option? 

5.  Arugula

6.  People who get in the regular line at Wal-mart but only have 1 or 2 items. I don't get that.

7.  The big deal about Jennifer Aniston.  She seems like a perfectly nice person, but I don't understand the fascination.  Maybe she likes arugula.

8.  The new Polo shirts with the huge logo.  It takes up half the shirt. 

9.  Why Izod used an alligator.

10. What ingredient in Reese's cups makes them addictive and why you have to eat them a certain way.

Wonder how Jennifer Aniston eats her Reese's...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

When Pigs Fly Over Your Kitchen Table

**Edited to update. I ordered mine from Plow and Hearth, but you can Google flying pig chandelier and several other stores carry it.

My chandelier was damaged. (Um, no box? Hello?) So I can't bring myself to show you a photo of it. The pigs have gone to the slaughter...

So, here is the catalog pic. I hope to have it replaced. . 

(It is actually not iron, but cast metal.)

Go ahead and laugh.  That's why I love it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


You never think you have a lot of stuff until it is all put into boxes. 

You have yard sales to declutter and simplify before you pack up and when all of it is packed you are so happy and pleased with your efforts.  But, then you get to the new place and start to unpack.  No matter how many yard sales you had before you moved, you wish you'd had another one. 

By day nine of unpacking you are past the yard sale phase and have decided what you really should have done is donate it all to a charity promoting world peace and preventing world hunger and just live in the back of your new house in a small pup tent that you bought from a boy scout.

Every day I get up and walk through a box maze to the Keurig coffee maker.  (See, moving has driven me to drink.) I sip from the one cup I could find and watch a little Regis and Kelly.  As the days progress the maze gets smaller and the coffee mug choices get larger, as I unpack more and more boxes.

Boxes have personalities.  Ugly, smug, sneaky, and calculating.  They smile with their packing-tape grins and tease, "Nah nah nah nah nah!!!"

There are the clueless, forgetful ones with missing parts. ("Electronics and chords" (always misspelled.)

There are the friendly, but cumbersome ones ("Clothes")

But, the nastiest and rudest of all are labeled, "China."

Each tea cup is wrapped in at least one hundred pieces of paper and each dinner plate is stacked in an origami designed, multi-layered paper girdle. 

My china packer on this move was so thorough in his china wrapping skills that he stuck one great big strip of packing tape around the layers and layers of paper just to be sure that the china didn't come unwrapped as it traveled across the country in the huge moving truck.  (You never know. Those Lenox china sets have been known to try and sneak out in the night while the driver gets twenty minutes of sleep at the Super 8 in Dallas.)

But my iron flying pig chandelier didn't even make it into a box.

Go figure.

I am happy to say that yesterday I unpacked my very last box of china and glassware. (I think.)  Unless one is lurking in the garage giggling with glee that he has managed to hide away in the dark without my knowledge, I can now move on to the less tedious, but equally challenging items.


Who knows what could be in there!?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Reader's Digest Version


We moved.

My third grade English teacher would be so proud of my introductory paragraph.

Hubs' job has taken us back to the Florida panhandle.  Back to the beach, the waves, and most importantly, Target. 

As an added bonus (not that Target and Starbucks were not enough for me, my friends) we get to move back into our house. We've had tenants in our home for the last three years, good tenants.  Thank the good Lord for that.  However, their color choices are not my color choices. 

I like color.  They like brown.

I have friends with beautiful homes filled with browns and tans and camels and khakis. Their homes are lovely.  If I try to decorate mine with the exact same colors, it doesn't look good at all.  They say you choose the colors that look good on you. This may be true. I tend to decorate with what I wear- greens, blues, pale yellows and greens.  Brown is not my color. The last time I owned a brown coat I looked like I had the flu for the entire winter.

So.  Anywho.

We've been painting.  And here's the other thing.  The air conditioner is out.  Yes, m'am. I move back to 95 degrees with 200% humidity and I choose to paint my house while the air conditioning is busted.  Hey, I never claimed to be smart. (We are in a hotel, so at least we don't have to sleep there.)

Our household goods don't arrive until next week so I am trying to use my time wisely, painting and cleaning before they get here.  Hopefully today the air conditioning will be fixed today and the paint won't melt off the all, along with my make-up. 

On another note, I am looking forward to The Help coming out soon.  I loved the book and can't wait to see the movie. 

What about you?  What's your news? 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Yes, Virginia, there is a place to get your diesel and your dinner.

There is a standing joke about the South that you can fill your tank and stomach at the gas station. Some gas stations specialize in fried chicken. Others have sandwiches. Once I bought a seven-layered cake at a gas station. In fact, I made a special trip. However, I have never actually sat down to eat at one.

Until today.

There's a little town outside of Smalltown, New Mexico which boasts a gas station/restaurant.  I don't know if it has a name at all because the only sign on the building simply reads "Restaurant."  Hubs heard about their green chile cheeseburger at work and was determined to have one.

Today we left horseback riding and headed to The Restaurant.  We also happened to need gas, so we pulled up, filled the tank, then drove the car another 40 feet or so to park. 

We stopped by the cashier to pay for the gas.  As I waited, I saw a sign next to the beef jerky which read (forgive me as I paraphrase,) "We do not sell raw meat to the public.  We can only sell bacon or luncheon meats, and are not allowed to sell raw meat.  We are trying to change this, but do not sell raw meat to the public until further notice. Sincerely, Virginia." 

Now, I don't exactly know how many people walk into a gas station wanting to buy raw meat, but apparently there is a huge demand for it there. I don't know about you, but I am thankful that Virginia nipped that one in the bud.

We walked over to the dining area and found the short order counter.  The hostess/waitress pointed to the menus in the little plastic bins and the three of us took a look.  The green chile cheeseburger wasn't on the menu, but Hubs asked about it and she said she would make him one.  Daughter ordered the classic burger, and I simply ordered hamburger steak, with a salad and baked potato.

After we made our drinks at the little soda machine, we found a table by the window. I have to say the view of the gas pumps outside added to the atmosphere.

As we finished our dinner, a family came in, pushed three tables together, and stood in line to order.  Grandma got the silverware from the little bins and set the tables.  My guess is that they were waiting for more relatives to join them.

Grandpa, in his Wrangler jeans and cowboy boots, placed an order for his grandson.

"He'll have the hamburger without any vegetables.  Is that right, son?"

"Yessir," the little boy answered.

As we left, I heard the cook fire up the grill and thought to myself, "I bet Virginia would be pleased."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dear Blog,

I have had this post in my head for months. The one where I write how much I missed  you, dear blog, and that I should visit you more often.

Then again, it is a lot like saying you miss going to see Aunt Edna.  Aunt Edna knows you love her and she wishes you would visit.  You love her, too and you truly, truly miss her. But, now you've been away so long that it feels awkward going back, even though all you want to do is run up on the porch, hug her, and have some of her cookies.

Okay. So that wasn't the best analogy.  This is what happens when you don't write for months. You ramble and ramble and make up ridiculous scenarios about relatives and baked goods.

The truth is I have missed blogging, but every time I thought I would make the time to write, I didn't.  Every time I wanted to write, the screen stared back at me in silence. It felt awkward, kind of odd, and I even had to remind myself of my login password, like having to call Aunt Edna for directions.

But, now? I have the itch again.  I have stories in my head.  Silly, ridiculous phrases about life that make no sense whatsoever.

You know, my typical stuff.

So, I've missed you dear blog, dear banner that still makes me laugh.  I have missed you, site meter and blogger login page.  I promise to visit more often and this time I will bring the cookies.



Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Does your wife prefer milk or honey in her Prince of Wales?

I really should start writing more than once a week.


Hubs and I played a game on the computer which was really a quiz to see how well you know your spouse. About halfway through the quiz we realized the website was based in England which explained why they asked about your mum and whether or not you like Catherine Tate (who I had to Google later.)

So we finished it anyway because we are committed like that and then found another quiz which was more suited to our geographical location.

We scored pretty well, pumping up our confidence that we have a good marriage since online quizzes are extremely reliable marriage meters.

Hubs did well. He knew I didn't like surprises, I do like espresso, and that my favorite color is pink.  He was rather clueless about my dream job.  He said "CIA agent" which, to his credit, isn't really my dream job, but maybe my dream, at least in the 4th grade.

When I said,"No, it's writer," he said, "OH, YEAH!"

Further proving my point that I need to blog more than once a week.

What about you? What's your dream job?  Better yet, take any good British marriage quizzes lately?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Some may doubt that she is adopted.

Our dog Jessie is... um, unique.

As I write she is trying to fluff her bed that can't really be fluffed.  She also does this with blankets.  In addition, her head is too small for her body. 

That could explain it.

Oh, I'll just make a list...

1.  She has a tuft of hair on top of her head that sticks straight up.  We call it her "do."

2.  She is unusually skittish of the wind.

3.  She lifts her leg when she goes potty.

4.  When her ear gets flipped inside out, she just leaves it there.  For like hours.

5.  We flip it back for her.

6.  When we first brought her home she wouldn't eat out of a bowl.  I had to feed her on my (now retired) Pampered Chef cutting mat.  Or the floor.  I prefer the mat.

7.  She thinks the doorbell on iCarly belongs to us.

8.  She is afraid of the brush but not the small comb.

9.  She hides treats around the house and then forgets them.

10.  She likes to smell hair. 

11.  She hangs upside down on the couch.  Until she falls off.  Then climbs back up and does it all over again.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to turn down the television. iCarly is coming on and it could send her into a frenzy.

She fits right in.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Can't we just have a nice, fun Spelling Bee?

There are a few things from childhood that should be passed on from one generation to the next, like playing Duck, Duck, Goose, saying "Jinx! You owe me a Coke" when two friends say the same thing  at the exact same time, and the age-old decision maker (which could actually be used in international peace talks) Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Then there are the things that should die, never to be spoken of again.

Like school lunch meatloaf, that wierd powdery substance the custodian uses to clean up vomit, and field day.

I always hated field day.  We've already established in prior blog posts that I am neither athletic nor interested in sports. The one sport I watch on television is baseball and that is because it's the only one I understand.

I'm gifted.

I remember wanting to be sick on field day.  I don't know why I never asked Mama to let me stay home.  Maybe it's because I knew she wouldn't let me.  She would never lie and what is a mother supposed to write on that excuse?  "My daughter was absent because the three-legged race makes her nervous?"

Everything made me nervous.  It runs in the family.

So, when I received the email from Daughter's school that they needed volunteers for field day (which is now known as the olympics. Let me tell ya, that doesn't help their case) I quickly sent that email to the delete file.

My good friend Kim even tried to convince me to make cotton candy that day.  No way.  Even pink spun sugar couldn't lure me to field day.  Making cotton candy is one step away from working the sack race booth.  Just thinking about it makes me itch a little.

I stayed home.  While all the other devoted mothers manned cotton candy machines and bean bag tosses, I was all cozy in my sweats waiting for Barbara Walters to bring up a hot topic.  That's when Nancy called me.

"Hey. I'm freezing.  Will you bring me a hoodie?"

Who is this?

Oh, I kid.  Just a little.

So as the good friend I am, I gathered several hoodies (a girl needs options) and headed to the school.  Nancy didn't tell me where she was so I had to wander through the booths shouting out to other volunteer moms and even to Daughter until I found Nancy huddled in the wind, shivering.

I gave her the hoodie of her choice and meandered back through a sea of elementary kids, most of whom had the same expression on their faces that I used to have.  The one that says, "I wish I was sick today" and "Oh, man. The three-legged race makes me nervous."

Once in the parking lot, I let out a sigh of relief that I'd survived, managing to avoid all field day volunteer opportunities.

It seems my feelings of field day have passed on to my own daughter.  I could see it on her face before she got to the car line. As she described the torturous events of the day (which included them running out of cotton candy, gahhh!)  I decided that the tradition of field day should not be passed on to the next generation.

It should be swept away by the custodian in that weird powdery substance, along with the lunchroom meatloaf.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I just hope there are no fingerprints on the television when the trumpet sounds.

I don't mean to make light of the END OF THE WORLD or anything but I was just a tad bit glad that May 21, 2011 wasn't it because my house did not meet rapture standards.

I have always had company standards and vacation standards, but now all of this end of days talk has made me create rapture standards. 

I clean before we go on vacation so my relatives don't talk about me at the funeral.  Well, they can talk but I want it to be about my casseroles and not my toilet bowls. I make sure everything is dusted, the bathrooms are scoured, and the trash is taken out.  I have a fear that we will all die and my mother and mother-in-law will enter the house appalled at my poor cleaning abilities.

"I always suspected," they would say.

Company standards trump vacation standards.  In addition to the typical vacation standards of clean floors and uncluttered counters, company standards include pressed pillowcases and good smelling bath soaps.

Obviously, rapture standards trumps everything else.  I am not certain what I will add to rapture standards but I'm pretty sure I'll be going through our movie collection. Not that we have anything that one would call questionable but I know some people may want to pillage my Gone With The Wind collector's edition.

I'll be spending this week cleaning house. If those crazy folks decide to predict a new date, please give me a good, solid week.  I haven't done the baseboards in forever.

All of this rapture talk has made me ponder my faith, my spiritual readiness, and yes, my dust bunnies, giving new meaning to "Get Ready."

And, yes I will be grateful when Christ returns and takes me out of here, but is it a sin to hope that my house is clean at the same time?

On a serious note, are you ready?   

Monday, May 16, 2011

Now that there is an automobile.

Hubs has never been what you would call "into cars."  Now, he likes cars, as opposed to say having to walk everywhere, but he has never been the type of guy who would point out a Ford Mustang or a Grand Prix, or a BMW for that matter.

He has also been the type of husband who always ended up with the hand-me-down vehicle.  Either I hand the old family car down to him when we purchase a new one, or someone else does when they trade theirs in at the used car lot.  His last car was a used Toyota Camry with engine light issues which, at the time, I believed to be the beater. 

I. Had. No. Idea.

When we moved to Smalltown nearly three years ago, we sold the Camry and drove out here in one vehicle, our (my, ahem) new Honda Pilot.  It is always easier to make a cross country move in one vehicle and Hubs decided when we arrived in Smalltown that he would buy another beater that he would sell when we left Smalltown.

Once we settled into our home, we went car shopping.  We visited the used lots at the Toyota and Ford dealers.  None of them were within Hubs' price range which really meant that they were all still running.  I kept trying to persuade him to spend a little more so we could have a warranty, but he was convinced that he could find the perfect (or imperfect) car for him that he would simply sell when we left town.  After all, he only needed it to get him to and from work.

That's when we met Rusty.

Rusty is the nicest and most honest used car salesman I have ever met. He even plays Christian radio in his showroom.  Granted, his showroom also has one crusty old coffee pot with sugar packets from 1984 and a small upholstered chair that may or may not have been in a nursing home visitation area.

I'm just sayin.'

We met Rusty when the dealer down the road told us that Rusty is the man he sells his unsellables to when they can't get them off the lot.  Let that sink in for a minute. 

Rusty's used car lot, known as Car City, sits on the edge of town.  There are slightly dinged pick-ups and compact cars scattered on the lot, along with a huge family of prairie dogs who peep up out of their holes at sunset next to white wall tires and bent fenders.

Praire dogs aside, Rusty found a car that met Hubs' standards.  It was (somewhat) reliable, it had four tires, a steering wheel, a windshield (with a crack) and most of all, it was cheap. 

Let's make a deal.

We did and Hubs drove away from Car City in a Dodge Intrepid, well, once the cracked windshield was replaced. 

Since that fateful day, the Dodge IsCrepid, has leaked oil, made strange transmission noises, yet has managed to get Hubs to and from work, fulfilling its purpose, adding a new spin on the Purpose Driven Life series.

It has also been my nemesis.

Because we all know that no matter how much you say that a vehicle will only be driven by one family member in order to get them from Point A to Point B and back, it is part of Murphy's Law that the secondary driver (me) will someday have to go to Albertson's while the vehicle's primary driver (Hubs) takes Daughter to horseback riding in the secondary driver's very comfortable Honda Pilot.

Now I know what you are thinking.  Why can't the primary driver (Hubs) take Daughter to horseback riding in the Dodge?  I'll tell you.  It's because the secondary driver doesn't want her kid stranded in the country. 

It's a Mother's Love.

I climbed in the Dodge yesterday to head to Albertson's and just as I started the engine, Hubs ran up along side me motioning for me to roll down the window.  As I did, the window went down slowly with a squeal and a squeak. 

Hubs reached in the car and said,"The turn signal doesn't work. It broke off."

"Broke off?" I said,"I can't drive this.  It isn't safe."

"Yeah, you can, just stick your arm out like this to turn right and like this to turn left."

I rolled me eyes and rolled up the window.  SQUEAK.  SQUEAL. 

Then headed to Albertson's, remembering all the arm motions I learned in Driver's Ed, and praying for a miracle that perhaps if I lingered in the deli long enough someone would steal the Dodge and drive it away.

A girl can dream.

All the while, Hubs and Daughter safely and comfortably drove to horseback riding lessons in the Honda Pilot. My Honda Pilot.  With my new Elton John CD.

So if you ever see a white Intrepid with Florida plates and a small ding on the rear bumper, feel free to drive it away.  I left the keys in the ignition for you. Just make sure you remember to stick your arm out of the window when you make that right turn next to Car City.

And while you're sitting at the stop sign, wave to the prairie dogs for me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Southern Girl In A Parka

Nearly three years ago Hubs' job brought me to New Mexico.  It's the place with little rain, lots of sunshine, and warm days. I thought I was living in the Land of Enchantment.  Turns out I'm in Palin's Alaska.

Yesterday's wind chills were below freezing and we have another layer of snow, now melting.  In the past week I have prepped the pantry for power outages (lots of peanut butter and bread,) watched the roads shimmer with black ice, and purchased a snow shovel.

It's not that I am afraid to shovel or even that I don't want to do the work.  The truth is that if the need arises for me to use a snow shovel, it means it is COLD.  I don't like cold.

We Southern girls (at least some of us) don't shy away from hard work.  We may appear to be dainty and delicate.  The truth is we are tough, independent and not afraid to to get dirty.  And no, unlike all those swooning characters in the movies, we don't faint.  Well, except for that one sweet aunt in every Southerner's family who more than likely suffers from a girdle that's too tight.

So when the time came to clear the driveway, I layered up in my thermals, sweatshirt, boots and parka.  If you had told me when I was a child in Southwest Georgia that I would one day own a parka, I would have crinkled up my face at you in confusion.  I always thought only skiers wore parkas.  Skiers are athletic and, goodness knows, I'm not athletic.

I shoveled.  I cracked and removed ice.  Daughter looked on from the warmth inside as she prepared to go to school.  With all the snow and ice gone, we managed to make it to car line without skidding and slipping down the drive and looking like folks who "aren't from around here."

The next time the driveway needed shoveling, Daughter donned her own parka.  She shoveled, scraped and scooped until the driveway was safe again. Just like a good Southern girl, tough and independent.

And, yes, she volunteered.

Like her Southern mama, she came inside for a cup of hot chocolate, topped with Redi Whip and sprinkles.

Hey, we're tough, but we're not stupid.

"We are, like our beloved garden greens, sturdy, strong, and best when tested by the elements and fully seasoned.  I never bought the notion of the "steel magnolia" because it's a short-lived, silly blossom that can't make it through a simple Women's Missionary Union meeting without shedding its powdery guts onto the mahogany sideboard."
Celia Rivenbark-  We're Just Like You, Only Prettier

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

This is not the kind of blizzard where you get Oreos and Reese's Cups.

Right now it is a balmy -26 degrees wind chill here in Smalltown.  Fun times.

We've had several days of snow and strong winds.  The snow isn't deep but the temps are freezing.  If there was any doubt before, it is now completely clear to me that this Southern girl has Southern blood running through her veins. Arctic weather is not for me. Give me a 100 degree day with 95% humidity, some Skin So Soft for the gnats, and I'm good. (As long as I have some A/C and a big glass of sweet tea, or course.)

I haven't been out of the house since Tuesday.  OK, twice I stepped on the porch to look down the street at a neighborhood power outage. We had power throughout the night, but one section of our neighborhood was in the cold darkness for several hours.

But, other than stepping two feet onto the crunchy snow in my parka and snow boots, I've stayed inside.

I plan to do the same today because (1) The roads are looking less than reliable with the possibility of ice and (2) It's cold, people!

Just to emphasize how wimpy I am, let me tell you about Daughter's horseback riding instructor.  This lady has been outside in the weather chopping ice from water tanks, replenishing fresh hay, and checking on all of her horses.  As she put it, by the time she was bundled up, fifteen minutes had passed, she still hadn't left the house, and she looked like the Michelin man.  Or Michelin woman, as it were.

She is tough as nails.  A true pioneer woman.  She braved the weather in layers upon layers of fluffy down and fleece, battled icy shovels, and diligently worked with gloves which froze to the horses' gate latches. At the end of her rounds, she reported that all horses were fine, braving the elements as they were designed to, with tails to the wind. 

Which is exactly how I would be posed. Only I think I will keep mine inside.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Clarity And Cold (Sounds Like A Country Song)

I was chatting with a friend last night who had read my blog post from Monday.  She misunderstood my post and thought that we had cocktails at the baby shower. She found it interesting that a baptist church would serve cocktails. She also wondered why a new mom would open a Cuisinart at a baby shower. 

So in the interest of clarity, let me go on the record and say we had nothing stronger than the ginger ale in the pink punch and that my references were to a BRIDAL SHOWER which WAS NOT AT THE LOCAL BAPTIST CHURCH. (I may also add that I didn't partake of any of those cocktails.)

However, I must say a Cuisinart can make a nice gift at any stage in life.

Now that I have all the housekeeping done, let me move on to the rest of my week.

Monday was spent at the doctor's office, two in fact.  Nothing serious. Just routine stuff.  At first, I was kind of bummed that I had scheduled two appointments for the same day. Once the day was over, I was glad that it only took up one day of the week instead of two.

I'm old. Doctor's appointments have managed to make the blog. Next thing you know I'll be carrying all my pills in a Ziploc bag and talking about the weather.

It has been cold.

On Tuesday morning, I woke up to freezing temperatures.  School was delayed due to weather problems and if it had not been for a text message from a friend, I would have been the only mom dropping off her kid at car line. I knew it was cold, but I didn't know how cold.

Until I noticed the low water pressure.  Then Jessie came inside with a muddy face and paws.  Not a good sign. 

I walked to the alley and discovered my fears were validated. The valves connecting the main line to the house line had frozen and burst. Water was gushing out and all the birds were playing in it.  A call to the water company brought a repairman who was able to shut off the geyser and still give us access to water.  That afternoon the Sprinkler Guy (as he is officially know) fixed the valve, reinsulated the box, and even covered it in dirt for extra protection. 


Wednesdays are usually our horseback lessons and the temperatures were still near freezing with wind chills in the 20's.  Daughter's instructor always gives us the option to cancel for poor weather, but my daughter decided to cowgirl up and ride anyway.  Me, being the deranged, I mean supportive mother that I am, agreed to let her ride as long as she wore layers, gloves, and bundled up.

Her instructor also agreed. One other adult student was riding and the third student opted out because of the weather (smart girl.)  Bundled up, we all headed out to the arena. I huddled there on the stool next to her instructor as we discussed horseback riding. New Mexico weather, and the old show Green Acres.

Then she turned to me and said, "Are we certifiable?"

"Yes," I said through chattering teeth and blue lips.

Each time the students rounded the corner, the instructor would check on them. They were cold, but they wanted to continue.

As it tends to do in New Mexico, the temperatures dropped, the wind direction changed, and in the words of Allison's horseback riding instructor, "It's no longer cold. It's BITTER."

Then, she called out,"Bring 'em in, girls." 

The strong, steel magnolia Melanie was proud of toughing it out but the real Melanie breathed a sigh of relief.  Because it was so cold, I could actually see that sigh of relief.

Sometimes you have to cowgirl up, but even cowgirls know when to bring 'em in.

And wear thermals.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Unknown History Of French Design and Why You Could Get Carded At Your Next Bridal Shower

I am drinking coffee and sitting at the computer (obvious) in my robe and slippers. The robe smells faintly of dog because Jessie loves to cuddle. It also smells faintly of my new perfume which could either be a good tool to mask the puppy smell or a very bad combination.

Either way I think I will throw it in the wash after I post this.

Legend has it (cough cough) that Coco Chanel was designing a perfume back in the 20's when she put in a request for "musk."  Her assistant was busy listening to Ragtime on her phonograph (the 20's version of Beyonce on the Ipod) when she misunderstood and thought she said "mutt."  This grave mistake was the catalyst for Chanel's assistant's new career as a dog groomer.

Or so I've heard.

So now it is exactly 7:30 AM and all I've done is go on and on about how badly I need to do laundry while I perpetuate rumors on the Internet about a famous designer and dog grooming.

Insert transition here.

Our weekend was pretty typical for us.  Daughter had a friend over after school on Friday.  They put on a play which they wrote themselves and may I just say that are so creative.  Later that night Daughter and I decided to have a slumber party which is really just us sleeping on the floor after watching a movie.  Or, in my case, me falling asleep on the floor while watching a movie.

We went to a baby shower for twins on Saturday.  I love baby showers, even now that I don't have a baby. Baby showers make me feel happy and nostalgic and I am always excited to see a new mom or mom-to-be waiting in anticipation. 

However, bridal showers only make me feel old.  Do you know that now they serve cocktails at bridal showers? I am baptist, so that would never have been a menu option for the ladies of the WMU, but it seems to be a growing trend to get a little tipsy while you open up your new Cuisinart. 

And I always thought the cheese straws were spicy.

Sunday was church, a quick stop at the grocery store, and a short walk and bike ride. It is getting cold here in New Mexico. Makes me want to stay in my robe all day.

Right after I wash it.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Like Kudzu, Only Not As Interesting

Legend has it that kudzu was brought to the South from Japan or somewhere to prevent soil erosion.  Well, guess what? It worked. Now you see kudzu all over the sides of highways and dirt roads in Alabama, Georgia, and any other state which breeds mosquitoes in Biblical proportions.

Not that there is a connection between kudzu and mosquitoes.

At least, I don't think there is.

Kudzu spreads like a bad strain of pinkeye (not sure if there is a good strain of pinkeye.) It covers anything remotely stationary, killing or ruining it. Bridges, trees, roadsides, really slow moving old people. 

Where was I?
Oh, yeah.

I'm not dead.  I'm here. I'm alive. What started out as writer's block ended up turning into an unintended bloggy break. Several of you emailed me to see if I was doing alright.  I appreciate that.  I even had some family and friends ask me if I'm OK.  Yes, ma'am. I am.

Since I last posted, the following has happened.

Our dog Jessie was ill, well again, ill again, then well.  Now she is a perfectly "normal" growing pup who likes to eat bugs and smells like dog exactly 5 seconds after her bath.

I turned 40.  The Big One, Elizabeth.  Other than the bad food at Red Lobster, it was uneventful.

I am growing out my bangs.

So, as you can see, you haven't missed much.  However, I do pledge to keep on keeping on producing the same ole' drudgery about living in SmallTown and how much I miss Starbucks.

Like kudzu, I'm still around.

However, I promise not to choke out all of your evergreens. Or your Great Uncle Cleetus.