This girl is funny...not skinny.

This girl is funny...not skinny.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Five for Friday: Ways to save some money...honestly!

Good morning!

Some time ago I did something called "Laundry List Friday."  People seemed to like it, but, thanks to the fact that I'm easily distracted, I stopped writing it.  Recently, thanks to a conversation I had with a co worker about weird things we do to save time or money, I decided to bring it back, but better...or better-ISH...than before.

So today I'm sharing with you five things I do to save money.  These aren't big moves and you probably won't be able to take a vacation on what you save...or maybe you will. 

Here we go:


5)  Want new books, but hate new book prices?  Try something really new!

This may sound like shameless promotion, and it is sort of, but I hear this from readers all the time:  I am looking for a really good book, but I hate paying bookstore prices.  

REally...you're going to spend
$19.95 on anything
she has to say?
Well, if you have a reading device, how about trotting over to your favorite book store website and checking out digital books from new authors?  These books are always original, they rarely cost more than $2.99 and I promise you, the writing is going to be as painstakingly good as anything Snookie could possibly crank out.

Don't have a reading device?  Amazon offers a print service for new authors and these titles are typically less expensive than their big name counterparts.   As luck would have it...BOTH my titles are for sale at Amazon!

Want a reading device?  A good starter is the Kindle.  For the price of about three hard cover books new you can get a basic Kindle, which will open up a world of new authors, new voices, new stories.

Love recycling?  Every town has a second hand book store.  Mine is Half price Books.  I get almost all my books, movies, and music there.

4)  Need basics?  Try the men's department.

Turtle necks, mock necks, polo shirts, and socks.  Unless you need pink buying these basic items in the men's department will save you money.  How?  Because it's a FACT, men's clothing is the same price or less expensive, it's way better made, and it's truer to size.  Oh, and men's shirts tend to be made a bit longer, so for those of us that don't have a wash board stomach, the shirts will actually cover us.  The same goes for belts.  If you need a basic black or brown belt that's going to hold up your jeans and not fall apart the third time you wear it, go to the men's department.

3)  Got a headache? Why make it worse?

Got cramps? I can help.
In most cases, store brand pain killers and over the counter meds are EXACTLY THE SAME as their far more pricey counter parts.  And in one very important case, the store brand works better.  Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naxaproxin, anything PM, and heartburn tablets...the store brand is identical and can be up to half the price of their more glamorous counterparts.  And in the case of every one's favorite PMS med, MYDOL, the TARGET brand of "menstrual symptoms relief" works far better.  Look for the bottle with the pink lettering.  The biggest plus for the Target brand?  It comes in an easy to open bottle as opposed to those blister packs.  And when you're ready to commit some sort of crime because you're bloated and your hormones are line dancing through your system, is wrangling with a double layer blister pack something you really want to be doing?

WARNING:  The same does NOT hold true for frozen waffles.  Get the Eggos...seriously.

2) Shaving cream...and lotion?  Save money, time and space.

We all have limited space in our showers, and having to have shaving cream, maybe a lotion or baby oil, AND hair conditioner in there just to shave the legs and whatnot takes up a lot of value able real estate that could be used for you know, you.  Get rid of everything except the hair conditioner.  hair conditioner works very well as a shaving cream. First, you already have it in the shower.  Second, you never use as much conditioner as you use shampoo, so if you pair your hair care products, you always are out of balance.  Third, hair conditioner is less expensive than shaving cream and moisturizes way better.

BONUS:  Extend the life of your razor...store it outside the shower.

1)  Stop the runs with syrup.

For those of you who still wear dresses, and therefore wear pantyhose, here's a tip I've been using for decades.  It's an old waitress trick.  Got a run?  Don't reach for the nail polish.  Dab a bit of pancake syrup instead.  If you're a normal person, you're probably closer to pancake syrup at any give moment of the day than you are nail polish.  Plus, syrup works just as well as polish AND it smells better.  BONUS, it dries clear, so instead of having a random dab of color on your leg, no one will see your patch job.

So there you go.  Save some pennies, put them away,

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

But at least I'm doing it...on Mondays...sort of...and a Conda update!

Good evening!

I promised those who friended me on Face book...and seriously, why wouldn't you friend me...this blog on Monday.  I found that, given my  age and weight class, I needed a couple days to recover before I could...sit up.

Monday night I went to a class at Gold's.  It's called Body Vive.  Dee was SUPPOSED TO BE TEACHING IT on Monday and the sheer force of guilt got me to the gym on a Monday.

Let's talk about the gym on Mondays.

Everyone on the planet goes to their gym on Mondays.  They do this because 1)  They destroyed themselves over the weekend; 2)  They are going to destroy themselves during the upcoming weekend; 3)  they feel tremendous guilt because their friend is teaching a class on Monday and they've been not going for weeks.

Getting into the building was a task.  It took me five minutes to find a parking spot.  I was starting feel that God was trying to tell me something.  Once in the building, yoga mat in hand  (in a fit of optimism I asked for a yoga mat for Christmas.  It's been holding up my dump pile of sensible shoes in my closet for months.)  it took me another five minutes to work my way through the crowds of weekend warriors to get to the locker room.  Once in the locker room, I realized I was NOT going to find a locker easily.  (Again, is there a divine message in this?  I should have read more carefully.)

I battled through to where my friend Shayna was changing.  I don't see Shayna that often, though we are huge Princess Bride fans, so I chit chatted for a moment with her and she nicely let me use the locker she was vacating.

Then I weighed myself.  And let me just say...would the 7 year old child who weighs herself before me please put the scale back to zero?  I'm tired of seeing it set to 102 and then I have to hoist it to the great weight beyond.

But the good news is I lost some serious poundage this week.  Would it be enough to crush Conda?  We'll see.

Now, weighed, watered and matted, I was ready to go back to the room where a mass of women were gathered.  I had to collect a ball and a band  (this is one of those classes that involves props...not a good sign for me.)  I was excited because 1)  I thought Dee was teaching the class and 2)  I hadn't done the class in a few months...9...and I was eager to really get into it.

I even introduced myself to a couple of ladies who looked more lost than I was.  They didn't know they needed a ball and a band.  I felt cool.

That didn't last long.

The instructor...and we'll call her NOT-DEE...okay her name was Sarah and I'm telling you her real name because 1)  I really liked her and 2)  I feel have to counterbalance the bad name my name got when I used the real name of the jewelry hag at Kohl's last week.

Low impact...with playground balls and rubber bands.
So this class is a LOW IMPACT class. 

That does not mean easy.  As my favorite comic John Pinette would say, "nay, nay!"  Low impact, according to NOT-DEE-SARAH, means we get low to the ground.

WE get low to the ground and we have mats.  I smell NAP TIME!

But first...we dance!

Now, I'm looking around the room.  I'm not the oldest, I'm not the heaviest, I'm not the most lost looking.  (I do, however, have the ugliest pants...must get thinner so I look good in some yoga pants.  Yes, I have to diet to buy fat clothes.)  I was feeling good.  I like dancing, I have a good sense of rhythm and very few inhibitions.

Until I started to move and realized that not only didn't I know any of the steps, keeping my focus on NOT-DEE-SARAH meant I wasn't listening to the beat.  And since I couldn't hear what NDS was telling me, I also wasn't doing the right steps.

In short, I looked like a Rhinoceros trying to move gracefully in a small space.

At one point...and I'm not making this up...I stepped on my own foot.  I stepped on my own foot so hard I cannot walk TWO DAYS LATER!

Now this is a yoga class I could
get in to!
That didn't stop me from fumbling, bumbling, and faking my way through 55 minutes.  I was happy to see that the two lost ladies looked as lost as I felt.  I also liked the fact that the bigger girls get to do the push ups against the wall rather than lying down on the floor.  I've never been good at push ups and given my hand situation, I've sort of retired from trying.  So next time I'll sort of lean against the wall.  Or, I could just lie on my stomach and take a quick nap.  That seemed to work this time around.  (I may have blacked out from the pain in my foot...I'm calling it a nap for now.)

This class is designed to work your core and shoulders and muscles and what not.  It does.  Believe me.  My core is raging against me.  Not as much as my right foot, which has officially gone on strike and is sending periodic fireballs of pain up my shin when I need to move in an upright manner, but it's raging.  I like the class.  I like NDS. 

At least I'm doing it...on Mondays.  I'll need
the week to recoup.



CONDA UPDATE.

So, look who managed to lose some weight.  Conda drops 7 this week.  My weigh in, while encouraging, was not the 3.5 I'd hoped for.  It was 3.  BUT, it was also a shorter week, since I weighed in on Thursday last week.  So I guess we call this one a draw.  The good news is that I almost lost all the weight i managed to slap on myself last week, so I'm okay with it.  And yes, I'm aware that Conda is basically losing every week and I'm not.  Well, I'm still crushing her because I'm doing it without a TV show propping me up and giving me trips to Hawaii and oxygen every afternoon.

Look out Conda!  I was close this week...next week, I'm crushing you!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My REAL New Year's Resolution!

Good morning!

On January first, I made a couple of resolutions.  I was going to do the Wii twice a week, go to Gold's 2-3 times a week, and take a multivitamin every day.

Here's an update.

My virtual Yoga trainer
has no idea who I am anymore.
I haven't touched Wii FIT since November.  I have managed to make it to Gold's 2x per week almost every week, with a couple of exceptions, and I do take a multi vitamin almost every day.

But as the first quarter of 2012 closes, I realized something:  I wasn't addressing my REAL resolutions.  That's not that unusual.  Sometimes we can't make resolutions until the year has started because we don't know what a particular year is going to require of us.  This year, I'm finding, is a year where I must have and show NO FEAR.

Let's review my year thus far:  Hubby lost his job in January.  He got a new job, a job that started in a city more than an hour from our home.  His job entails a lot of shifting, working in new places all the time, moving around.  It seems scary for him...but it's also scary for me, because I'm the keeper of the books here.

Skippy finished high school.  He's looking toward the fall with a hazy idea that he wants to go to college, sort of.  While his other classmates already know where they're going and how they're going to finance things, we haven't a clue on either front.  He has not applied to any colleges or anything.  He has a lot of fear, the idea of choosing a career and then paying for it is very scary.  For me, there are two fronts of fear:  first, try explaining why you son, who looks homeless, hasn't been seen by many relatives or his church friends in eons  (because he goes to a different church now) that yes, he was an honor roll student all thought high school, no he didn't drop out, he finished early, and no, we don't know where he's going or what he's doing with the rest of his life. 

Try saying that to yourself about your own child.  See if that doesn't scare you just a tiny bit.  Then try saying it to your judgemental parent/relative/neighbor.  In this society, a kid that doesn't have his life planned at the end of his junior year of high school must be a loser, right?

Nope, not a loser.  Just not interested in spending $20K a year on general education when we don't even know what we want to do.  But there's fear there every time says, "So, what's Skippy going to do?"

He's 18...I don't know if he knows what he wants to do with the rest of his DAY.

One would think that Peaches is the one I don't fear for at all, and one would be wrong.  She's a hard core vegetarian.  She's getting new friends.  She's also, I'm finding, far more opinionated and militant about her opinions than Skippy ever was.  This scares me like you have no idea.

As I look at all of this...I realize that this is a year where I could curl up in a ball of snot and hide.  I could just open a bag of Cheetos and dive in, never to return.  I could get really fat, and hide from the planet because I'm too scared to open my eyes.

That would be easy.

No my friends, 2012 is officially, for me, the year of no fear.  I have to resolve to battle against my internal fears and not only function, but excel.  I have to bite the bullet, and just write the book I want to write and hope that readers will read it.  I have to get my rights for "Dream in Color" so I can control that book as well and build my e-book empire on my values as an author. 

I am okay with the fact that I'm an e-book author.

I am okay with the fact that my son looks like a homeless person, and will probably live in my basement until lightning strikes and he decides to make a career choice.

I am okay with never really knowing here Hubby is going to be working week to week.

I am okay knowing I will be getting emails from Peaches' teachers asking me why my daughter did or said something they didn't like.

I am okay with the fact that  my mother is never going to stop hounding me about getting a vial of corn put on my belly button so that she can prove i'm fat because I like corn on the cob.  (That's another post for another day.)

I am okay with the fact that I may never be thin again.

Yesterday at my Mad City Romance Writers meeting, wonderful romance author Christine Merrill spoke on how to rouse emotions in a reader.  She is a very funny lady who has us in stitches every time she speaks.  Yesterday she said something that rang true with me.  People who are happy, cheerful all the time probably arent' that funny.  It's the unhappy, uncertain, distressed people who used humor as a defense mechanism.

Maybe that's why this blog works so well.  If you look at the list above you might think I have a lot of reasons to be sad, nervous, bitter.  Sometimes I am.  But most of the time humor is my sheild.  It protects me from being sad, from pain.

So, my friends, 2012 is officially the year of no fear for me.  I'm not going to be afraid to face my life.  Armed with my sense of humor, I will use this blog to crush my fears about life.

Buckle up.  I am going to make you laugh until you injure yourself, or die trying.

It's going to be way easier than actually getting to Gold's 3x a week.


A couple updates: 

THREE CHEERS TO DEE!  Dee just completed another body challenge at Gold's and is down to 137.5 pounds.  Friends, my good friend Dee has lost now 68 pounds since August of 2010.  She's kept it off.  She's gone from an inhome daycare provider to a Body Vive instructor at Gold's.  I could NOt be more proud of her!

Conda once again crushed me this week, but Ifeel big numbers coming on in my next weigh in.  My friend and critique partner, Marie, thinks Conda is purposely staying heavy so she can get to the final and destroy everyone by losing the weight at home.  So I guess that's going to be the way I'm playing it, too.  I'm just going to hide from the TV audience for 3 months and drop 90 pounds that way.

Oh wait...I have NO TV audience!

Well look out Conda...because I just dropped a ton in water weight this week and I've been to Gold's for actual sweat producing work outs.  I feel a reverse crushing coming on!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

All I wanted was a pair of earrings...what I got was a blog post.

Good evening!

My good friend Dee tells me that I shouldn't write angry, but that I can blog angry if I want to.  I needed to vent to Dee for about 45 minutes today because of what happened.

You all know I LOVE Kohl's department store.  LOVE IT.  If they sold groceries, I truly would never shop anywhere else.  True, I said that about Walmart, but I really do mean it about Kohl's.  I love their clothes, I love their prices, I love their housewares.

I thought I loved their jewelry.

Let me back up.

Yeah, she probably worked with Elsie, too.
This has been a very rough week for me.  Last week Friday Elsie decided she was mad at me for DOING MY JOB and for DOING HER JOB BETTER THAN SHE DOES and she shrieked at me on the phone at the end of the day.  Realizing that for whatever reason, she was never going to get fired, I decided I had enough, and I cleaned out my desk.  I haven't quit my job but to quote Alison, the Basket case from "The Breakfast Club,"   "You never know when you might have to jam."

Rough week at work often translates into a rough week at home, and this week was no exception.  Skippy was dour, Peaches was sour, Hubby was non communicative and I don't know what we are feeding the cats, but the cat boxes have been super foul this week.  Oh, and thanks to my weird schedule and the fact that I felt like crud, I didn't get to Gold's.

So this morning I was feeling very, very low.  And then I realized that I've lost about half my earrings, all my favorites, of course, and that didn't make me all that happy.  I don't have a lot of earrings to begin with, and the ones I have I really do love.

So hubby, being the good guy he is, gave me the Kohl's card and a coupon and told me to get some pretty earrings.

At first it was a great trip to Kohl's.  I was also looking for a pair of semi dressy shorts. I didn't find any, but I found some Capri pants that slim me, and frankly, a slimming pair of Capri's is far better than a pair of shorts.  Besides, at my age and weight group, I shouldn't be revealing that much of my legs.

So I was very excited about myself when I got to the fine jewelry counter.  I was even MORE excited when I got to the counter and saw that everything was 60% off PLUS another 15% because I was there before noon. 

SCORE!

A couple things caught my eye, but they were locked in a case and I couldn't see the price.  I looked for a clerk.  There were two, at the other end of the counter, talking to each other.  I was the only customer at the counter.

The one caught my eye, walked down, looked at me, sniffed, and said, "someone will be with you in a minute."

Um...someone?  How about you?

She left.  No matter, another girl came up, a young thing, named...Sarah.  I pointed to the earrings and said, "May I see those please?"

Now, maybe I don't understand fine jewelry counter etiquette.  But she looked at me like I'd just asked her to strip down and wrestle.  Then she looked very, very bored.  "Which ones?"

"Those, the blue pearls, those...."  I pointed.

She pulled them out and I looked at them.  I thanked her and handed them back.  "How much is the matching necklace?"

"Which one?"

"The one that matches the earrings I just handed you...that one...THAT ONE."

"That's two necklaces sitting together."

She could haven't sounded more bored...but then I'm pretty sure she'd be dead.

"The wiry one."

She pulls out the necklace, I look at it, love it, but am not ready to part with quite that much room on my Kohl's card.  So I thank her, tell her I'll be back and walk around the counter looking at other items. 

I never actually leave the counter.  Never, not once.  I finally find what I really need, some simple good hoops, little hoops to wear with my other gold hoops from Kohl's.  Again, I can't see a price.  I look around for Sarah, who is also not visible.

I finally lean way over the counter and see her kneeling on the floor, HIDING FROM ME.

Yes, you read that right. In a store where everyone is super helpful and cheery, I managed to come across the one department where they hide from customers. 

"Excuse me?"  I say in my most polite voice.

She ignores me.

"EXCUSE ME!"  I say in a far less polite voice.

"Yeah?"

"I'd like to look at these earrings please."

She sighs heavily.  "In a minute."

Now, normally, the wild, loud angry fat woman in me would come raging out.  But it's been a rough week, and I've haven't been well.  So instead, my insecure, nervous, fat girl who thinks she's not worthy of anything makes an appearance and I all but crumble at the humiliation of it all.  This little twenty something in her Dana Buckman (the only reason I know this is because I have the exact outfit in fat girl size at home) suit has crushed me with her witheringly bored sighs.  It was all I could do to stay at the counter and wait for her to stand up, get out her key, unlock the case, and ask "Which ones?"

At that point I knew I didn't dare look at a pair of earrings without buying them.  She had me in her power, and I had to do it so she could be left in peace again.  "I'll take these."  I said in my "I know I'm fat, please sell these pretty things to me anyway" voice.

"You done shopping?"

Well, I wasn't...but then I guess I was.  "Yes,"  I responded meekly.

"You got other stuff?"

"Yes."

She sighed heavily.  "You got a lot of stuff?"

"I have three things, that's all."

Another weary sigh.  "Come to the other side."

While I was making my way around, an older lady walked up to the counter and very nicely asked Sarah if she could look at the sales flier tucked next to the cash register.  Sarah gave the older lady a completely blank face, the kind teens give the elderly when the elderly utter words, and said, "I don't even know if it's a current one, so you can't have it."

The older woman stared at her, shocked at the response.  "Well, I wanted to check something."

"Well," says Sarah, "I'm not giving you this flier, so maybe go up to customer service...they probably have a flier up there."

I was enraged.  How dare this wan little blight of a person talk that way to that nice older lady?
NO COUPON FOR YOU!
Oh, but wait...I still had to pay for my earrings. 

It was sort of like buying soup from the Soup Nazi in Jerry Seinfeld.  (See Skippy, that show is important for something.)  I stepped to the counter, handed her my four things, and then said, "May I use this coupon?"

She looked at it. "This is expired.  So no, you can't"

Now, I've been to Kohl's when they've let people use coupons that are expired, or they've given people coupons, I've had it happen to me.  Not this chick.  She didn't tell me how much I saved...and she didn't ask me to take the survey.  She handed me my receipt.  She didn't even say thank you.

Now, I should have stopped at the customer service counter.  I should have.  But I was in such a mental black out...and you women, you know what I mean. You can't believe someone has just treated you the way you've been treated, and then you think you deserved it for whatever reason.  My mother always felt she had to take it because she was the Principal's wife, and she wasn't dressed nicely enough.  My grandmother felt she had to take it because she was the pastor's wife, and she wasn't dressed nicely enough.

I felt I had to take it because I'm fat.  (I was dressed just fine, thank you.)

I have, by now, broken out of that mental black out, and I know two very important things.

1)  Oh, I will be taking that survey this time.

2)  I may have to stop in at Kohl's tomorrow, "Pretty Woman" style, and inform them that the next time I need to buy earrings, or any jewelry, I'll be going to Walmart.

Granted, not quite the effect Julia Roberts got in "Pretty Woman" but it's a big step for me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I am NOT the Fashion Star...and a Conda Crushing update.

Hello all!

Just a quick stop in to let you all know that I've just watched the first episode of "Fashion Star,"  NBC's much touted answer to "Project Runway."

Don't believe me?  Let's go to the check list"
Seriously? This is the best shot they could get
with Nicole Richie?
A far more polished set, plus, Nina Garcia might just be the
meanest woman in fashion today!

Impossibly beautiful, completely foreign super model?  Check

Weepy contestants who make their own clothes and dream of one day selling their freaky designs to everyone in the country?  Check

Weepy contestants who insist their freaky designs are awesome, that no one in the country GETS them, except, of course, the super fringe folks who buy freaky designs?  (And face it, Lady Gaga only has so much closet space.)  Check

"Mentors" who seem to know something about fashion, but ultimately don't give terribly great advice?  Check, and for the record, I think Tim Gunn has more fashion sense than the whole panel of Nicole Richie, Jessica Simpson, and John Varvatos.  John Varvatos seems to know his stuff, but he's book ended by two women who have made a career of being stupid.  And NOW, we're supposed to take them seriously?  Sorry, my everlasting image of Nicole Richie will always involve Paris Hilton, a long pair of gloves, and a very irate cow.  And no, it didn't make me feel good when I agreed with either one of those two women.  It made me feel dirty, and wrong.

The twist is that with Fashion Star, you'll get to buy some of the designs RIGHT NOW.  Well, if the buyers would pull the stick out of their fannies and actually buy some of the designs.  Not that I blame them.  One of the designers made lovely dresses...with huge furry pockets that made it look like the model had two woolly lambs attached to her hips.  First rule of fashion that even this fat middle aged woman knows:  Don't make the model look fat.

Yeah, see, it's all about the blue jeans and cowboy hat.
So I watched the first episode.  But, like so many shows this season that don't star David James Elliott, I probably won't be watching any more.  Project Runway is far more entertaining, and way more fun.  And Heidi Klum has this great way of completely shredding contestants, but since she's got that fantastic accent, they can't understand half what she says.  I sort of like that.

CONDA CRUSHING UPDATE:

Last week I crushed Conda, who only lost three pounds.  I lost two.  This week...she lost seven.  I haven't weighed myself, but I would be stunned if I haven't gained a couple.  I'm afraid to look.  So as of right now, Conda is slightly ahead, but the good news, for me, is that since I've started this...I'm not going to call it a journey, I've actually lost 8 pounds.  On my own, thank you, and with minimal trips to the gym.  (I'm slightly behind this week...I was sick last week.)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Beast. My favorite car, and my favorite car story.

Good morning!

Last night a friend and I were talking about long ago when our kids were little and we'd go to the beach.  That reminded me of my very favorite car, and my favorite car story, which I thought I'd share with you today.

Back when Skippy was 5  (so thirteen years ago if you're into math)  I was a stay at home mom who babysat kids by day and cleaned offices by night.  Those of you who have lived in the world of in home babysitting know that you need a few tools, one of which is a car that will work for kids of different ages.  Most people prefer mini vans.

I had a 1986 Buick Estate wagon with wood panelling and that fun rear facing seat in the back.

I loved that car.  Let me say it again.  I loved that car.  It was big, and bulky, and not smooth to drive.  It got 8 miles to the gallon on premium, and if I didn't put premium in the tank it would knock for ten minutes after you stopped it.  I don't think the heat or AC even worked.

But I loved it because sitting in it was like sitting on a sofa, and the kids could pile in and out of that thing and I didn't care one second what they were dragging in to the car.  We'd go to the beach and they'd be covered in sand, and it did not matter.  The three boys I had would sit in that back seat and it almost felt like I didn't have kids in the car because they were so far away.

Oh yeah, and I covered that thing with bumper stickers.  I didn't have a particular message I wanted to convey with the stickers, but if I found one that made me laugh, or if someone gave me a bumper sticker, it went on the back of that car.
My beloved vehicle.

Yep, I loved that beast.  And my best car story is this:

So for Peaches' second birthday we were going to have a party. I'd ordered an ice cream cake from the local Dairy Queen, a place I'd been only once or twice. 

The day of the part dawned and we were in the midst of one of those blizzards you can only get along the lake shore of Lake Michigan.  I believe 18 inches fell on my fair city that day.  Right in the middle of the blizzard, the clerk from Dairy Queen called and informed me that if I wanted the cake that day, I had to come and pick it up before 10 AM because they were not going to open at all due to the weather, but that someone would be there for about an hour for cake pick up.

Hubby was at work that morning and then was going to go to WalMart for party stuff.  (And yes, people were calling to say they couldn't come to the party.  Most people know a two year old's birthday party isn't worth venturing out into a blizzard.)

  A smart mother would have cancelled it and stayed home.

I am not what one would call a smart mother.

I called the neighbor lady, a darling older woman who has since gone to Heaven, to please come over and watch the kids while I rolled out in the beast to get the cake.

Did I mention the car was rear wheel drive?

Visibility was zero.  There were points at which I wasn't sure I was even on a road, and I certainly wasn't in a lane.  Didn't matter, I was the only idiot out on the roads that morning.  It was only about four miles from my house to the Dairy Queen, and that might have been the longest four miles I've ever driven.
This is taken from behind the big
sign.  Clearly, the drive was behind
the sign.
What you don't see in this pic
is the big, gaping, ditch.
I managed to get to the street and as I approached the DQ, but a question came to my snow weary brain:

Was the driveway for the DQ BEFORE the big sign or BEHIND the big sign? 

I'd only been to this one a couple times and I didn't recall where, exactly the drive was.  Since everything was buried under many inches of wildly blowing snow, I had no visual reference as to where the drive was.

I flipped a mental coin.  "It's before the sign."   My next clear thought was, "And even if it isn't, we're in the city...there's no ditch, I can just drive up on the grass." I steered the vehicle left, praying the tires would find something solid and make it to the parking lot.

God has a magnificent sense of humor.

The drive, for those of you wondering was BEHIND the sign.  BEFORE the sign was a fairly deep, but fairly narrow, ditch. (something I obviously hadn't noted on my previous trips.) No, I didn't put the car IN the ditch.  That wouldn't be funny.  No, the Beast was long enough that I actually SPANNED the ditch.  The front end rested on the forward bank of the ditch, the back end of the back bank, and the tires hung, suspended, in the ditch itself.

The rear wheels, the power for the vehicle, spun like a pinwheel in loose, fluffy snow.

I knew I was not getting that car out of that ditch on my own.  But I was ten feet from the DQ and I WAS GOING TO GET THAT CAKE!

I opened the door and stepped out of the car...and in to about 15 inches of new snow.  I waded, hip deep, from the ditch to the store where the tiny blond clerk was laughing at me so hard, tears rolled down her face.

"I saw you coming, and I kept yelling, Don't turn!  Don't turn!"

Yeah, thanks.  How about coming out of the building and saying that?

So there we were: the clerk who wanted to unload her cakes and go home, and the mom who wanted her cake and had no way of leaving. 

Ah, but I had a cell phone!  I could call Hubby!  But, hubby wasn't at work anymore  (and we only had ONE cell phone), so I got out the yellow pages  (children, the yellow pages is what we used to find phone numbers before we had Google.) and called the local Walmart.  I explained why I needed to page my husband  (I should really learn to edit how much information I give people.) and after the person who answered stopped laughing, they paged him. 

No dice.  He wasn't at Walmart.  So I called home.  My neighbor lady answered.  She also was laughing.  Turns out, Hubby came home and saw the car gone and knew something was up. When he heard I'd gone to DQ to get the cake, he got back in the car and headed out into the storm to get me.

While this was taken years later, at our new house,
and a different storm, this is pretty much
the type of snow we were dealing with
at the time of this story. (My friend in
Paris cannot believe this is a real picture.)
Funny, how did he know I would be trapped?

Pretty much the same way you all sort of knew how this story was going to end...because you know me.

We left the Beast at he DQ until the next day when a friend of his from a towing company came and pulled it back on to land.  The next morning, Hubby went to church...along with about nine other people  (he can, in fact name the people who were at that service by name) and he got a ride from someone to the DQ to get the car out of the parking lot.

Some few months after, we donated that car to the Rawhide Boys Ranch.  I may drive cars that are nicer, get better gas mileage, and handle better.  But I will never love a car as much as I loved that Beast.

Oh and no one came to the party.  We actually held it the following week.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The sopranos will now sing "Bless the Lord, oh my snot."

Good evening.

We've established that I am, at best, an uninspiring singer.  The fact that I've been in a church choir almost my entire life doesn't not mean I have any special talent, other than being able to read music and make some sort of sound come out of my face.

Nope, we don't look this good.
For the last several years I've sung in our church's "Senior Choir."  In the last year, we've tried, as an ever shrinking group as members of said choir die or move to Florida, to reinvent ourselves.  We are now the "Adult Choir."

Yeah, we're the old farts of the congregation.

So tonight at a mid week Lenten service  (and I don't expect too many folks out there to understand exactly why my church has Wednesday night church during Lent.  We just do.) the Adult Choir was to sing two songs.

Now, the ladies of the soprano section, of which I am one, tend to get colds...a lot.  And we aren't very good at those really high notes.  We can hit them, but them you better play something loud because the next sound you hear will be every single soprano coughing, gagging, or clearing their throat.  The Hallelujah Chorus sounded like a consumption clinic when we sang it a few years ago.

The two songs we were to sing weren't that hard.  It's Lent.  Stuff is low key and quiet.  We do really well with low key and quiet.  Unfortunately for the sopranos, we once again were all sick.  Oh, my cold just started, which means I'm in the runny nose, random nasal clog phase.

I loaded up on decongestants before the service and figured I would be able to stay clog free for the 56 minute service.  Nope.

Could somebody just make one
of these for me?  Please?
About halfway through the sermon, my right nostril closed.  You know the feeling.  It's closed, nothing's coming in.  But plenty is rolling out.  Oh yes, I was suddenly a drain pipe for that really annoying, completely pointless snot that just runs down your face and you can't suck it back up into your head because your nostril is closed.  And you go through about fifty tissues in a minute because it won't stop running.

Yeah, about four minutes before our second song, that happened to me.  BUT, my good friend...let's call her Alexis, who has sat next to me in choir for almost twenty years, got hit with a sneezing fit a minute before the song.  Next to her, dear, sweet Rosie couldnt' stop coughing.  In the back row, well, let's just say those girls were attacked by phlegm in the throat.

We managed to get through the song...watery eyed, runny nosed, and coughing at the end of every phrase.  But we did it.

That's not a puddle.  The sopranos just warmed up
right there.
I can't wait for Easter.  I've seen the descants the director's picked out.  If you're sitting downstairs at our church, bring an umbrella.  It's going to be raining snot from the balcony.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The phone message that made my day worthwhile.

Good evening!

  Every so often that rare moment happens at work when you can sit back and say, "Oh yeah, it's so worth it working here."

It's different things for different people.  Maybe you get a raise.  Maybe that pretty girl in the next cubicle smiled at you.  Maybe your boss got transferred and your new boss is...you.  Maybe the stinky guy in the office got fired, or someone brought in brownies.  Maybe the soap in the bathrooms is the kind you like.

I had one of those moments today.  Today, when I was all alone, handling a lot of phone calls.  Today, when the blinking light on my phone alerted me to the most hilarious phone message I've ever heard.

I will try and recreate the scene for you...and the phone message. 

NBM was out of the office today.  PM was out of the office most of the day because yesterday he managed to break his nose while trying to fix something we'd installed for a customer.  Poor guy...they have to sort of reset it on Friday...that won't be fun!  Elsie was out of the office until about 3 due to a doctor's appointment, the drama of which began on Thursday when she informed NBM that she wasn't coming in until way late today because of this appointment.

See, you're supposed to fill out a form well in advance of an absence.  Not inform NBM that you're not coming in a couple days before.  Especially if you're stupid enough to tell him you booked this appointment 6 months ago.  Oh, and you have every Friday of your life off...you know, so you can have doctor's appointments.

So the battle about this appointment and when/if Elsie was coming in today at all started on Thursday.  The phone message this morning may have been the Fort Sumter of volleys in the next phase of the Elsie/NBM ongoing hostilities.

Here's the message, as best as I can remember it:

"This message is for NBM.  This is Elsie.  Going back to our conversation this morning, no, I'm not coming in at 11.  My appointment is at 1.  By the time I get to the clinic, park the car, and walk in to the office, I need 45 minutes, which means I would only be in the office for 1 hour and 15 minutes before I had to leave."

(I know, not that funny yet.  Wait.)

"It makes no sense to me to come in for just 1 hour and 15 minutes when I have to leave again.  On top of it, I'll be fasting and I get headaches when I don't eat by a certain time in the morning and I don't want to make a mistake at work because I'm hungry or I have a headache."

(I know you're laughing now...and I have to say...if this is the case she must have been STARVING the day she took a call from a customer who cancelled their order and told her to NOT cash their check. She made the mistake of not telling anyone, thusly the order was ordered, the check was cashed, and the customer was very, very unhappy when he called today and barked at yours truly.)

(But wait, there's more.)

"So I'm not going to come in for 1 hour and 15  minutes.  I'll come in after my appointment.  If you're worried about me getting my work done today, I can come in 1 hour and 15 minutes early another day and get it done."

(We're not ever worried about you getting your work done on a daily basis.  We know it's not going to get done, no worries.)

So let's review:  in spite of the fact that the boss told her she must show up for the first hour of her day before going to this appointment, she took it upon herself to not show up.  Her excuse was that it didn't make sense to her why she should have to come in on time.  (Well, she never does anyway)  Her other excuse was that she didn't want to make any mistakes at work.

Which begs the question, "If that's her concern, why does she ever show up?"

Now here's the biggest kicker:  When she did manage to show up after her appointment  (The clinic  in question is 10 minutes from our office.)  she went straight to...the kitchen...and made lunch.  Something pungent, with lots of onions.  Then she ate it.  So, for the first half hour of her already short day, she cooked and ate a meal.

Meanwhile, I worked from 7:30 to 3:30 without a lunch, (and only one furtive, hurried trip to the ladies' because I was alone in the office and showroom) and without any help at all from 10 AM until 2:30.  Since I didn't get a lunch PM, who was I believe pretty mellow on whatever painkillers his doctor put him on for his broken nose, let me go, basically giving me a lunch hour at the end of the day.

Now, tomorrow I expect NBM to be in the office.  And I expect Elsie to be in the office.  And I expect there might just be a bit of drama...especially since SOMEONE made sure that NBM knew there was a voicemail message waiting for him.

It was like he was right there in the office!
Sometimes something fun happens that makes my job so worthwhile. Well that, and the fact that, while everyone was out...I had a little mini Rick Springfield dance party in the showroom.  Yep, I cranked up the tunes and had myself a good old time...until the phone rang and I had to come back to planet earth. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

So, basically, you want me to take your garbage home?

Happy Friday!

I love Fridays.  Friday is an Elsie free day at work.  Everyone smiles a bit more.  Everyone is more relaxed.  Biggest good thing:  The office doesn't smell like fish.

This week the recycling issue at the office came to a head, mostly because no one, not even Elsie, could ignore the gigantic bag of soup cans, tuna cans, cottage cheese containers, yogurt containers, and...well, you get the idea..and all of this was shoved under the kitchen sink.


Her rolling cooler in the kitchen.  Sorry about the angle.  You'll
Also note the empty soda bottle, the open drawers, and the
napkins on the floor.  This is how she leaves an area
customers can see.


Several weeks ago, Elsie and I had a conversation about recyling.  I recycle at home, a lot.  Anything I use at the office I take home and put in my recycle bin, since there is no such bin at the office.

This is what she leaves every night.  Yes,
that's a tuna can.
Not Elsie.  Elsie lets the cans sit in the sink until NBM can no longer stand the mess and then she throws them out.  I suggested she do like I did, take them home and deal with her recycling there.

"Oh no," says she, "I have way too much junk at home, I'm not putting more junk in my car and bringing it home."

Let's remember, we're talking about recycling items here.

So I let it go.  Now, for the last couple  weeks, she's been stashing her soup cans and whatnot in a brown paper bag under the sink.  (We just got rid of the fruit flies...seriously....)  This week, she decided to "clean."  (Read here, she didn't feel like doing her actual job, so she made some busy work for herself by tidying up the mess she creates.)  What she did was pull the garbage out from under the kitchen sink  (70% hers) and the recylcing bag  (100% hers.)  She then went to NBM and had this conversation with him:

the infamous George Foreman grill, exiled to the top
of my file cabinets.
Forget that I spend a lot of my day working with the filing
cabinets.  I have to work around...this.
"Will you take the recycling home with you and put it in your bins?  I have had some construction done at my house and the stupid contractors buried my bins in my garage and I can't find them."

(The construction in question is remodeling that she's having done in the taxpayer's dime thanks to some fairly lax regulations.  I can't afford to put pipes in my house that don't spew sewer once every four months, but she gets a whole new kitchen, thanks to the taxpayers of her home county.  Oh, and she's suing the contractors because they made a mess in her kitchen.  First ponder the irony of that.  Then ponder this:  she told me "If I'd been paying for this job, i wouldn't be paying for it.  But since it's county money...I guess they just wanted the bottom dollar and didn't care how good the group was at cleaning up."

Yes, your tax dollar at work.)

Anyway, NBM of COURSE turned her down.  And apparently it was a day when she was talking me not and not to PM because her next stop was at my desk, "So can you take the recycling home and put it in your bins?"

"No," says I, "see, I recycle a lot and my bins are full because I take all my containers, cans, bottles, whatever home with me.  I'm not taking your stuff home."

She was actually miffed that I didn't say yes.
The brown bag is recycling.
And yes, that's one of my file cabinets.
So she did what any green minded person would do:  She plopped that bag next to the garbage.  No, she didn't walk the 22 steps to the dumpster to put everything in the dumpster.  Instead, she dropped the stinky, fishy mess next to one of my file cabinets.  There, she was certain, fairies would find it and take it to....where ever, it didn't matter.

I don't have pictures of Elsie, but I am sharing with you some other shots I've taken around the office.  Enjoy!

CONDA UPDATE!
okay, so this time around Conda had 18 days to lose 13 pounds.  She lost 14, if memory serves.  I gave myself 9 days, half.  Half of 14 is 7, so in 9 days I had to lose 3.5 pounds.  I lost just over one.  Conda wins this round.

The difference between a Meijer employee and a heart attack? Not much.

Good afternoon everyone and Happy Holidays! When I was little I lived in Michigan, home to a wonderful store called Meijer's Thrif...