Holidays are fun.

Holidays are fun.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New YEAR! How about some New Year's Resolutions?



Hello everyone!

So by now it's already 2018 in several parts of world.  Happy New Year!

I don't have a full list of New Year's Resolutions set, but I think we can get a few out of the way, you know, the regular ones everyone makes.

1)  Eat better
2) Exercise more
3) Be nicer to pretty much everyone
4) Spend less money on junk.


Okay, so those are out of the way. Now, here are a few Sarah Specific resolutions I'm going to do my best to keep in the coming year.  And I tried to put together realistic goals, you know, stuff that's might actually happen if I put some effort in.

1)  Give up French Fries.

Yeah...I did it for Lent last year.  Not east.  But let's face it, the art of making a good French Fry is dying and really I'm only in it for the mayonaise or ketchup.  So...let's just give those up for a year.

2)  Increase daily step goal to 12,000.

Just means more marching at 11 PM while watching "The Tudors"...again.

3) Go to the gym more than I did in 2017.

Shouldn't be hard...since I'm pretty sure the number I have to beat is a single digit and we have 365 days for me to get it done.  On a related note, watch for me to really get my workouts going well about December 14.

4)  Drink more water.

This year I'm not going to count the ice I put in all my mixed beverages as water consumption.  I'm also pretty sure I can't count the water I use in coffee...since I also add creamer.  And I'm not giving up dairy.  We all know that's not going to work in my world.

5)  Take all my supplements every day.

2017 proved to my I can't just do a "catch up day" on Thursdays with one big giant, vomit inducing day of vitamins.  Not really getting the best benefit out of that, I think.


So there we go. And I'm kicking the year off with a physical, so watch for more resolutions (or doctor's instructions) to follow

Happy New Year Everyone!  Here's hoping 2018 is better to us all than 2017 was!

Friday, December 29, 2017

My 2017 Stats Prove: It Can ONLY Happen to Sarah!





WARNING!

This blog post deals specifically with a certain feminine issue and reading this post may be offensive, disturbing, or gross to anyone who is not an adult woman.

You know who you are, and you have been warned!



Okay, so I turned 50 this year. Granted, I JUST turned 50, so it's not like I was 50 all year...but still, I turned 50 this year. And with that age comes a certain expectation regarding my female punctuation.

Like, maybe, I'm going to start NOT HAVING IT?

Since my mother has always been pretty open about it, I know that by the time she turned 50 she was all but DONE with the whole punctuation thing.  AND, since I spend every Saturday half the year with my mom at my farmers market booth where she sells her art and I sell my books, I also know that she's very interested in how my biological slowdown is going.

Well, let's review the steps of early menopause, shall we?


Not to be too gross, but yeah...this fits. 

Including the irregular punctuation.

Except...ummm....there's this: 

I've been keeping track of my punctuation for the last two years because my mother, my close friends, my doctors, all seem to be really interested in what's going on with my system.  This past year I've had a number of medical tests done under the heading of "why is Sarah anemic?"  (Personally I think they just wanted a reason to poke at my uterine lining and draw blood endlessly, but that's just because after five months of really invasive testing they found nothing conclusive and wanted to do more invasive testing.)

Anyway, after tracking my punctuation very closely, guess what I realized about 2017?

Yes, yes, my punctuation was a bit different from previous years.

BECAUSE I HAD MORE OF THEM.

For those of you who don't know: typical women have 12 punctuation experiences a year.  One per calendar month.  I've had 12 like a clock since I was 13 with the exception of my two pregnancies.

But I, having turned 50 this year, and waiting for a slowdown...guess what I did?

I HAD 14 of them!

I know I felt like I was constantly punctuating this year, and I know Hubby thought this, although he's such a good guy, he didn't mention it.  But now that I look at my stats (carefully recorded in the notes section of my phone) I realize...yes...indeed...I HAVE BEEN CONSTANTLY PUNCTUATING.

WHAT THE #%@&* is going on here?

Every time I see my mother, she tells me how she was done with everything grammar related by the time she was 50.  

Since she's my only female relative who 1) is still alive and 2) made it to menopause without surgical intervention, I've got no one else I can ask whether or not I'm just some throwback to an ancestor who continued punctuating deep into their senior years.

So, to my mom, I'm some sort of zoo animal science oddity and my punctuations need to be commented on.

And now...now I get to tell her that not only am I not slowing down...I'm ACTUALLY HAVING MORE of them!

I'd like to think my body is just going through some kind of fire sale/clearing house thing and in another six months everything will just go from full ON to full STOP like some sort of magic trick.  

But, knowing how my life goes, I think we can all expect this particular source of annoyance to continue forever.

OH GREAT!




At least...until next month.

Happy new year everyone!  Here's hoping 2018 treats us all well!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Flashback Friday! Happy Holidays!

Good morning and happy holidays my friends!

I'm going to be away from the computer for the next several days, but I thought I'd share this gem from 2015.  Enjoy and hey, be good to each other!  See you in 2018!






Good morning!

So it's Christmas Eve Eve.  It's that weird day before the day before the day many of us have driven ourselves to madness over.  (My college creative writing prof would hate that sentence!)  My presents are wrapped.  My dough for the final round of baked goodies is currently chilling, and my house will smell fantastic in a couple hours.  I have gathering with work folk later this evening and much cleaning to do because people with cat allergies are braving my house.

But mostly today is quiet. I'm off work early...it's pouring rain...and my hands are in screaming pain thanks to the damp weather and the wearing off of the cortisone shot earlier this week.  (There was no wearing off. There was a cliff.  I felt no pain...and then fell off the cliff and now I have PAIN!)  The quiet gives me a little time to reflect on some of the fun I've had this holiday season.  I made a huge effort this year to look outside myself and try to give back, try to be more patient, try to see joy in even the small things. Big change from the endless case of everything rage I had last year, right?

I found myself seeing humor where I used to get angry. I found more energy to do things, instead of hiding on my couch the minute I got home from work.  And you know what?  This is a very, very funny world we live in. I have had a BLAST laughing in stores at over heard conversations and general silliness that last year would have sent me into a rant.  And I'd like to share some of this with you.

"And the benefits of exercise are what, again?"

Most of you know I joined a gym back in September and didn't use it until November. But since I'm out to prove P-Aaron the personal trainer wrong, Hubby and I have been dragging ourselves out of bed early every weekday morning and getting a good sweat going at the gym long before our brains and bodies have a chance to realize what we're doing and figure a way to stop us.  I've run into some interesting characters in the last few weeks, for sure.  But I have noticed that my body is a bit more sore lately, a fact I was sharing with Hubby last night. And here's how this went"

Me:  My lower back/upper butt is sore tonight.

Hubby:  Do stretches.

Me:  I know, I know.

Hubby:  See, you're sore from working out.  So you have to do stretches so you're not as sore.

Me: (Realizing this conversation is about to get silly)  So because I'm exercising now I have to...exercise more?

Hubby: (Perfectly straight face, not realizing we are in silliness now) Yes.

Me:  So exercising means more work for me then.

Hubby:  Yes.

Me:  So why bother with any of it?

Hubby:  So you feel better.

Me:  I feel lousy. I'm in pain.

Hubby:  But you're healthier.

Me:  Being in pain is healthier than not being in pain?

Hubby:  Sure.  It means you're working.

Me:  But before I wasn't working...and I wasn't in pain.

Hubby: Well it's cheaper anyway.

Me:  How? I wasn't paying for a gym before, now I am.  

Hubby:  On your healthcare.  You're healthier so you feel better so you have less healthcare.

Me:  But I feel like crap and you keep telling me to get all the stuff the hurts looked at.

End conversation. I think I won!


Senior citizens spell out new technology.

This conversation was overheard a couple weeks ago at a Blaines Farm and Fleet. I was in the Christmas aisle looking for ornaments when I heard two lovely old ladies discussing Christmas lights.

Old lady 1:  there, you want those.

Old lady 2:  What, those L. E. D. lights?

Old lady 1:  Yes,  But they're called LEEEEEEED lights.

Old lady2:  But it's spelled LED.

Old lady 1:  Right, but they're called LEEEEEEEEED lights. They burn cooler and brighter. LEEED lights.

Old Lady 2:  I'm so glad you're up on this stuff.

And cut to me stuffing Christmas stockings into my mouth to keep from laughing out loud.


How do you say, "Idiot" in Chinese?

Proof that I'm not the only one who runs into trouble at local big box stores, I got this story from the lovely lady at my favorite Chinese take out place. (Spring Garden on Delafield and East Moreland in Waukesha.  I don't know what they put in their Beef Chow Mei Fun, but it's AWESOME!)  Anyway, here's her story.

"I sent my father to Target last year two days before Black Friday. I wanted to find out if there was going to be a big sale on this one TV.  he came back after three hours, and he was very angry.  No one in the store would talk to him. They said they couldn't understand him and they told him to go away.  So I went to Target to ask the same question. My father told me I was wasting my time.  It took me a long time, but I finally got someone to stop and talk to me. I asked him about the deal on the TV.  I had heard there was going to be a big sale on this one TV, but I didn't have a flier.  He told me he didn't know anything about any sales on Black Friday, he only knew about prices today. (two days before) I asked if there was a flier around that he could find for me.  He said no, there were no fliers, there were never fliers with Black Friday prices and if I wanted to know what the sale was going to be on something I would have to come back on Black Friday."

Now, sure, this lady has a pretty heavy Chinese accent. Still, she speaks English correctly and slowly enough that I understood her. But I was cheered by the fact that I'm not the only one who gets ignored and talked down to at stores. I wonder how she does at pharmacies.


And finally, don't leave this up to the children!


Just before Thanksgiving I was in line at Hobby Lobby.  The lines there can be slow sometimes, and in this case I was behind a young mother who apparently was buying ALL of the boxes of ornaments in the store.  Her two young children, a boy and a girl, maybe 5 and 6, were amusing themselves at the rack of candy near the register.

Boy: Mom, can we have this?

Mom: No.

Girl:  Can we have this?

Mom: No

Boy:  How about this?

Mom: No.

At this point the children have built quite the little pile of candy on the floor, all of which mom has said no to.  I should note, the girl has a sucker in her mouth.

Mom:  Put the candy back. We have all kinds of candy at home from Halloween.

Boy:  But can't we have some candy now?"

Mom: When we get home, you can have a piece of Halloween candy.

Girl: So we can have this?  (She holds up a candy bar.)

Mom: NO. You can have a piece of candy from your Halloween candy.

Boy:  Okay, so can I this?  (He holds up a candy bar)

Mom:  (Looking at the children for the first time.) NO. Put that away. You can have candy from your Halloween bags when we get home.

Boy to girl:  So what should we have?

Girl:  I don't know.  

Boy:  I think I want chocolate.

Girl: how about if I pick out your piece and you pick out mine?

Boy:  No.  You'll just pick out a big piece for you and a little one for me.

Girl:  No I won't.

Boy:  Yes you will.

Mom:  I'm almost done here.  (No she's not. She's got like ten more boxes of ornaments.)  Come stand by me.

Boy:  But wait, I want to look at one thing.  (He touches a bag of candy on the display)  Can I have this?

Mom:  I told you ten times, no.  You can have one piece of your Halloween candy when we get home.

Girl: but he wants chocolate.  (But he's pointing to Skittles.)

Boy: Yeah, I want chocolate, like these coins. (He starts poking at a bag of chocolate coins...which are not as securely in the bag as they should be...and which fall to the floor.)

Mom:  PICK THOSE UP!

Boy:  Can we get them?

Girl:  Yes, can we?  I haven't had candy in a long time!  (Her sucker isn't even half gone.)

Mom:  No, pick that up, and come on!  ( She leaves half a dozen boxes on the counter and stomps out of the store.)

Ah yes, the holidays....

So my friends, as you make your way through the next few days, try and find some joy in your holidays...and if you can't, try and find something to laugh at. Because humor is all around us, even this time of the year!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Reposting a fan fave: 5 Holiday movies that get it right!

Good morning!

I haven't posted this top five list of holiday movies that get it right.  (Note, not my favorite holiday movies, just movies that capture the sense and sensibilities of the holiday season.)  So I thought I'd run this by you as you put the final touches on the Christmas weekend.

Enjoy!





Merry Christmas to all!

And if you celebrate something other than Christmas, then happy holidays to you!

Today I'm rerunning one of my favorite (and yours) holiday posts.  Not because I'm too lazy to write a new one, that's coming, but because once the presents are opened, the food is eaten and the carols are sung, what's really left of your Christmas celebration?  I'll tell you what...staring at relatives.  So this post is to help alleviate that uncomfortable time of "well now what?" at your Christmas gathering!  



It's the holiday season, and regardless of what you celebrate, this is the time of year when everyone loses their minds.  Need proof?  Head on over to 1029thehog and listen to Bob and Brianread their listener's holiday horror stories.

Personally, this is the time of year when I really just want to sit in my comfy chair, stair at the Christmas Tree and watch holiday movies.  I'm not going to be allowed to do that because, you know, work holiday parties, family holiday parties, extra church services, social gatherings,  all of that.  And oh yeah, get the novel in some sort of shape so that I have a prayer of getting it out before the end of 2015.  LOL!

You can lose yourself in holiday classics that "It's a Wonderful Life" or "White Christmas"  (My favorite of all time.)  Or maybe you like the funny family fantasies like "Elf" or "The Santa Claus" films. But there's a whole genre of holiday films that look at the other side of this time of year...the darker side of things, and they are hilarious, heartbreaking, and spot on truthful.  These are my top five favorite because I identify so completely with what's going on.

5) Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

Based on a very short, not read enough novel by John Grisham (Skipping Christmas), "Kranks" looks at Christmas from a different point of view:  That of a man who has ceased to understand the point of all the traditions and MONEY shelled out for the holiday when all he really wants to do is spend time with his wife.  But hey, it's the holidays and there is no law in the land stronger than the bind chain of traditions.  Frantic, non stop, hilarious and touching.  Sure, the book is better...but not by much.
  
4)  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. (1987)

This is a Thanksgiving movie...sort of.  Steve Martin, John Candy team up for the buddy road trip picture gone horribly, horribly wrong.  Written and directed by the late, great John Hughes, this one hits all the marks in hellish American travel.  While the
technology might not hold up...much of the problems could be solved today with a smart phone, the frustrated panic that is a natural by product of holiday travel is spot on and eternal.

3) Home Alone (1990)

I know, I know.  Everyone loves this film.  Yes, well, take away the cute kid battling stupid thieves and what do you still have?  That's right...you still have a horrifying amount of family dysfunction and holiday travel.  Again, written by John Hughes, which means it's going to be awesome, and directed by Chris Columbus, which means it's going to be very pretty, "Home Alone" gets it so right in so many ways when it comes to big families, airports, holiday travel, creepy neighbors, and skeevy Santas.  

2)  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

I'm going to argue that this is the best movie in the Vacation collection.  Clark Griswold, determined
to have the PERFECT Christmas?  Both sets of grandparents visiting?  Crazy relatives?  Too many Christmas lights? (As if there is something like that.)  And, of course, the stress of waiting for a work bonus that may, or may not show up.  Any Christmas party that involves chain saws and police is going to be winner.

1)  Home for the Holidays (1995)

I've said it before and I'll say it again, and I'll say it until I die...this is the best holiday movie ever made.  Sure, it's technically a Thanksgiving movie.  But for any of us who have had to go home for the holidays...and live under our parents' roof for
more than ten hours while we're still trying to keep a grip on our own lives as they spin...we know.  We just know.

One movie I wanted to add to the list, but simply can't, thanks to TBS's 24 hour run every Christmas Day..."Christmas Story."  There is so much very, very right about that movie, from the cursing father to the frazzled mother to the younger brother who won't eat...it's a classic, but unfortunately is so omnipresent in the US that to put it on any
list with would seem pointless because we are all going to tune in on Christmas Day and just let it run all day.  We know we are, don't deny it.  
So that's my list of must see movies.  Oh sure, I'll pop in "White Christmas" because it's beautiful and the music is great and I spend days this time of year humming "Sisters."  But when I need to know there are others who feel the way I do when it comes to the insanity of the holidays, these are the films I find hilarious and comforting.


(ALSO, just in case you're looking for more movies, my fellow author, Linda Schmalz, and I have just released our first in a series of movie review books!  


Available in paper back now on Amazon, and coming soon as an e-book!)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

My whole life is a Holiday Horror Story!

Good morning friends!

Many of you know my favorite radio program has been, for the last twenty five years the Bob & Brian Show on 1029 The Hog here in Milwaukee.  My favorite thing they do on the show is read listener letters for various themes, the crowning theme being "Holiday Horror Stories."  

I've submitted stories to them over the years, and yesterday, as they read my entry, I realized I have several instances of holiday horror that I should share with you.  I mean, the holidays are stressful. What's a better cure for stress than laughing at someone else's holiday awfulness?

To that end, I'm giving you, today, my most recent "Holiday Horror Story" and I hope to share more as the week moves closer to Christmas Day. That said, this is a stressful time of year, so if I don't get to it...well...it just didn't happen!

But, as with everything else I write here, this is a true story.

Enjoy!


‘Twas the week before Christmas 1973 and I was six. I wanted to help clean the house.  My father thought it would be fun to put me on the 2x3 square of counter top between the refrigerator and the stove in our galley kitchen and let me dust the top of the fridge.  I loved doing this so much that the next day, Sunday, after church, I wanted to do it again. My mother told me no, since she’d started Sunday dinner.  My mother, however, was never what you’d call an attentive cook, and once she had the pressure cooker and pot of boiling potatoes going on the stove, she went to the living room to play piano.  I used this gap in parental guidance to shimmy onto that tiny patch of counter and again.  I finished the act of dusting with great flourish and stepped back to admire my work.  In doing so I kicked the boiling potatoes off stove and planted my heal squarely on the red hot electric burner. In a vivid slow motion memory, even now I see myself falling off the counter onto the floor before the potatoes did. I curled in a ball as hot spuds rained down on me.
My father carried me to the bathroom where I sat on the counter and soaked my foot in the sink. We had to call our pastor’s wife, who was a nurse, to come and try and peel the melted fragments of nylon/cotton ankle sock embedded in my heel.  The burn was so detailed, you could see the word “general” (as in “General Electric) branded on my skin.
My foot swelled tremendously and I had to wear a furry pink bedroom slipper to school and Christmas events for the next week.   44 years later I still have a pronounced scar on my heel.
It should be noted that my parents never did take me to a doctor for this and my mother still to plays piano while food cooks unattended.  

Monday, December 18, 2017

My Gift to You this Holiday Season.






Hello all!

It's been a wild year and I'm on the verge of releasing my newest Nora Hill novel, "Warning in Waukesha." (Many delays, but it's coming out soon!) 

To celebrate the holidays and the imminent release of "Warning"  I'm doing something I've never done before:  I'm giving everyone a chance to get ALL OF MY BOOKS FOR FREE!

That's right, this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (December 22, 23, 24) ALL OF MY BOOKS (excluding the movie review collections) ARE FREE DOWNLOADS ON AMAZON!

Click here!  I WANT FREE BOOKS!

All Elsie W titles, all Rock Harbor Titles, and all NORA HILL TITLES are FREE for three solid days! 

December 22, 23, 24  Get them all by clicking here:  SERIOUSLY I WANT FREE BOOKS!


My gift to you!  Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

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 Thrifty Acres.  I loved going to that store back in the pre-Walmart-big-box-everything-all-the-time days of shopping.  My parents would take us there to wander acres and acres (So it seemed to me in my seven year old brain) of food, clothing, and house goods.  That store was so wonderful, they even had a play area in the very center of the store where kids could romp while their parents shopped. Of course, my parents never actually let us play in there, but you know, it was nice to walk by and see other kids having fun.

Flash forward more than 40 years and Meijer is spreading out all over, even to the wilderness of Wisconsin!  

I'll admit, as much as I love Woodman's for my groceries, Meijer is way less cramped, it's cleaner, the produce is better, and, while the selection isn't as broad or as funky, I do know if I go there and remember that I need socks or motor oil, I'm going to find it.  

(Unfortunately, there's no play area.)

Anyway around here it's almost Christmas which means the stores have ramped up the volume to way beyond 11.  I, of course, have done about 80% of my holiday shopping online, much like everyone else, but there are some things you just can't buy online.  Like hard liquor.

So a couple Saturdays ago, Hubby and I went to our local Meijer to pick up the week's groceries and a couple really cute candy canes stuffed with tiny bottles of vodka.  (Normally they have candy in them...but this was vodka and it was cute and I was getting it for the adult kids, and DON'T JUDGE ME!)

Our first stop, once inside the magical place that is Meijer, was the meat department.  All I wanted was a small pack of skinless, boneless, chicken thighs.  They sell skinless, boneless breasts all day long, in all sizes of packages and all cuts of chicken breast.  (Tenders?  Whole breast?  Loin?  Nuggets?  Stir fry?)  BUT, what about those of us who don't LIKE white meat? 

Nope, no, you must buy the family pack of chicken thighs. Find room in your freezer for 20 pounds because that's the smallest package you're getting!

I gave up the search, remembering that I probably had some thighs buried in my freezer from the last time I bought them.  Hubby, on the other hand, either didn't realize I had given up or he was so focused on winning the prize for me he didn't notice me wander off to look at bakery items.  (Sooooo yummy...)

Anyway, as I walked away I noticed a short, slight fellow in a white lab coat walking up to hubby. Well, "Up to" isn't quite the right word, since Hubby was face first in a meat cooler and this guy was walking up on Hubby's blind side.

The next thing I heard was Hubby's startled exclamation as Lab Coat Guy turned out to actually be Meat Department Guy, and, while attempting to be helpful, he basically scared Hubby out a year of his life.

That's sort of funny.  No, wait, it's hilarious!  See, normally I'm the one who startles at stuff.  It took me a while to get used to having Peaches back in the house and she's so quiet compared to the guys, that every time she came up the steps or around a corner she startled me.  It's become a joke...in fact, NOW she tries to find ways to scare me in my own house. And the guys laugh and laugh.

So yeah, I laughed a little at the fact that little Lab Coat Meat Guy startled Hubby.

But as as you know, if this is where the story ended, there would not be a blog.

Nope, the last thing on my list was the vodka candy cane.    Now the liquor department at Meijer is a little different. It's not a separate store, like many grocery places have.  It's a separate section, but no doors that close.  You walk through an arch and you're in. The rule is, you can pay for wine and beer anywhere in the store, but spirits must be payed for between the arches of the liquor department.

So I head over the the arch and I'm around two steps from entering the magical kingdom of booze when a short, elfish looking dude jumps out of nowhere and yells "CAN I HELP YOU FIND SOMETHING?"

I'm not exaggerating here.  Hubby was three rows away in another department and he heard the guy yelling and knew he was yelling at me and knew I was FREAKING OUT.

Here's what's really funny.  As I was regaining my wits I noted that in order to leap around a corner as he did, Liquor ELF  had to have pushed a man in a motorized scooter OUT OF THE WAY.  

That's right.  In order to give me a heart attack, Liquor ELF had to displace a disabled shopped.

AND THEN, Liquor ELF followed me up and down the rows of bottles as if I were going to stick something in my purse and run away.  I stopped at the rack of vodka candy canes...and that's when he yelled again (and scared me...again)

"YOU NEED TO PAY FOR THOSE HERE!"

I don't like being stalked when I'm shopping. I don't like being shouted at. I don't like being told the rules that I already know when I haven't even done anything but touch something on a rack.

Oh, and I really don't like going into heart failure twice in five minutes.

So no, I did NOT buy the vodka candy canes. Sorry kids.



Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sarah breaks the bathroom rules...and this happens.

Good morning!

Those of you who know me know at least two things about me:

1)  I LOVE movies.
2)  I have issues when it comes to using public restrooms. Not that I'm against using them, I just wind up with a story every time I step into one.

So today, let's gather around and find out how these two things in Sarah's life collided...literally...to make up a blog.

It all started last Saturday, the Saturday AFTER Thanksgiving. That's the day when you're supposed to SHOP SMALL, you know, shop at small local stores that aren't Wal-Mart.  Hey, I did my part.  I went to Rogan's Shoes, as I've done every year for the past however long I can remember, and I picked up Bob & Brian's year end CD.  the proceeds from the sale of these CD's go to the Hunger Task Force here in Milwaukee AND the MACC Fund.  So not only was I buying something at a local shoe chain, from local radio people, I was supporting charity!

Yes, I know. So far this story is without tragedy and therefore without humor. Keep reading.


Since we were on that end of town, I suggested to Hubby that we stop at my very favorite store in all the land...MEGA MEDIA EXCHANGE.

I don't know if MMX is a big chain and honestly, I don't care.  I love that store. It's loaded to the RAFTERS with used movies, CDs, and video games.  I could spend HOURS in there, the way some people spend time in a library. This is my library..except it's all movies and prices range from under a buck to maybe $15 on really rare Criterion stuff.

I just wanted to check and see if they had "Against all Odds" because someone sang "Take a look at Me now" on "The Voice" and I realized I'd never actually seen the movie and neither Hulu nor Netflix has it.  (Seriously, the original stuff is great, but how about putting a few more movies on your movie streaming services???)

Well, just stepping foot into that place is dangerous for me, and it got worse because they were having a Black Friday weekend sale!  TONS OF MOVIES FOR $0.75!!!!!!!!

Hubby knew I was not just going to check the A shelves for "Against All Odds."  We were in it for the long haul.

Now, this is where stuff starts to go sideways...literally.

You know how they say travel sort of slows your digestive system down?  Okay, what they say is travel constipates you.  I was trying to be polite.  Anyway, the week of November 13 hubby and I took a vacation.  We went to Cleveland for a week and had a blast.  Then, on November 22 we headed across Wisconsin to spend a few days with his mom.  Basically, from the 13th to the 26th I'd had access to my personal restroom three days.

My system was slowed to a halt.

We'd driven home that morning from La Crosse just to get the CD so we hadn't even been home that day.  Which means that about the time I was really getting into a serious classic movie hunt, my system set out the warning bells.  There was no waiting, this was a code red!  (What, you thought I would say code brown? No, that's gross.)

Now, the rules at MMX regarding the bathrooms are simple:  Go to the front, get a key, go to the bathroom, use it, bring the key back.  There was no time for that on this day. HOWEVER I was lucky...the men's room had been left open.  since it was one of those bathrooms where it's just a simple room, not a row of stalls, I felt no issue using it.  I slipped in, locked the door, and allowed my body to make up for lost time.

Oh, BTW...no TP in the men's room. So...yeah.  Good thing I always have tissues or something for such an occasion. 

But I'm a rebel.  Or at least I was that day. I wasn't going to let a thing like the RULES or no TP bother me!

I finished up and went back out to the store, ready to rejoin my search for MORE USED MOVIES.

That's when this happened:

It started as an odd squeaking sound behind me.  I looked around, I was actually in the row alone.  there were people up front, but no one near me.  The squeaking turned into a creaking.

The creaking turned into a bang.

The bang turned into more creaking, more banging and...the unmistakable sound of shattering glass and one more very loud bang.

Then silence. 

It was that cold, hard silence you get when you're in a group of strangers and something's just happened and you're all holding your breath waiting for the injured to start screaming.

Only, there was no screaming.  

People started moving around and Hubby came up to me and said, "well, I know it wasn't us."

We headed up to the front of the store (As did everyone else) and there we saw the result of a domino effect.  Somehow, one of the tall wire racks containing video games had tipped, knocking into another wire rack, which in turn knocked into one of the glass cases containing electronic devices. That case knocked into a second case, which knocked over a six foot tall spinning rack full of movies and CD's.  That spinner rack had fallen under the glass case and was leaning precariously against a third glass case, this one containing expensive gaming systems. That case was unharmed, but special care would have to be taken in clean up so that the spinner rack didn't slip and crash through the glass panel, destroying what systems inside.

In short, the place was a mess and no one was claiming any responsibility.

Employees moved quickly to pick up movies and CD's. Some of the shoppers, Hubby included, helped out. I held one of the rolling carts steady so they could stack cases quickly and easily.  Two employees started cleaning up shards of glass. Two others tried to check out customers as quickly as possible.  Customers coming in to this scene thought the better of it and left right away.

By the time we left, the worst of the broken glass was cleared up and the employees were starting to talk about how to move the fallen racks and cases to minimize further damage.

We purchases our movies and left without much conversation.  

Now here's the thing, because I haven't admitted this to anyone.  I'm pretty sure I'm responsible for the accident at MMX.  

Why?

Not because I knocked over a rack. I don't do video games.  I wasn't anywhere near the domino of death.  Nope, has nothing to do with.

But I broke the rules.

I broke the bathroom rules and my favorite store in all the land was harmed.

I will never again use a men's room.  (Not that THAT was something I planned on doing over and over again.)  And I will never NOT get the key when I'm supposed to...no matter how desperate the situation is.

I've learned my lesson!


Oh, a couple other things:

1)  Yes, I did get "Against all Odds."  Watched it last night.  Decent movie I guess.  

2)  Best public bathroom I've ever been in?  The Westin, Downtown Cleveland, the lower level bathroom just outside the hotel gym.  Yes I used the gym.  And yes, it's worth driving to Cleveland and using a hotel gym just to use this spotless, quiet, clean, beautiful oasis of a restroom.






Monday, November 27, 2017

What's funnier than a mammogram? This.

Good evening!

I realize I've been AWOL for a few weeks. Honestly I do not have a great excuse.  But I do have stories!  And is that why you come here anyway?

So earlier this month I got a year older. And yes, I crossed into a new decade.  I'm now at an age where, in theory, the demands and annoyances of my monthly punctuation are receding and the demands and annoyances of my joints and other stuff that now hurts are growing.  Except in my case its a major free-for-all in the pain and annoyance department. My punctuation is not going to give up without a fight.  So fun to be me.

Anyway, I figured I should probably schedule a few over due appointments with various professional people.  So, eye doctor (It's been two years.)  dentist (it's been 18 months and I have a broken tooth) physical (I would never see that guy again if I didn't need my happy pills.) and mammogram (let's just say I'm overdue.)

Oddly enough, my physical was the hardest thing to schedule.  I've met my doctor.  I doubt he's in that much demand.  Pretty much why I signed up to see him, he was always free.  And now, apparently, other people have figured that out. It was worth it to be seen right away. Only now we have to wait two months to get a physical done by a semi-competent guy who's only real contribution to my health care is to send me to endless specialists.

I digress.

So today I went in for the mammogram! Whoo hoo!

I got to the clinic and the greeter lady met me at the door.  This is how that went:

Lady:  ARE YOU HERE FOR A SCHEDULED APPOINTMENT? (all in a very loud voice.)

Me:  Yes.  (In a normal voice)

Lady:  OTHER THAN A MAMMOGRAM?  (shouting)

Me:  Actually I'm here for a mammogram.  (normal person voice.)

LADY:  OH IN THAT CASE YOU GET ON THE ELEVATOR AND GO TO THE BREAST IMAGING CENTER FOR YOUR MAMMOGRAM..  (can she not hear how loud she is?  People are staring.  The 9 year old boy just learned a new word.)

I noticed that she did NOT scream the same questions to the woman who came in behind me. No, that lady just got a "ARE YOU HERE FOR AN APPOINTMENT?"

I must be wearing my "I'm getting my boobs crushed today" t-shirt.

So I get to the breast imaging center and the very nice lady at the desk asks me my name. Then she asks me my appointment time. Then she asks for my birthday. The she asks the universe why she can't find me in the system.

At this point I'm about ready to launch into a rant because the last time I was in the building the reservation system lost my appointment time and made it look like I cancelled a very important (and stressful) medical test.  If that is what is happening here, this poor, unsuspecting woman is going to get an earful because I'm locked and loaded.

And then she says, "Oh.  You're Sarah?"

"Yes."

"Ummmm, your appointment's tomorrow."


Let's let that sink in a bit.  I showed up a full 24 hours early for a mammogram.  I'm stinky, I have no hairspray in my hair, and my make up on my face.  And now, yes, I get to do it all over again...TOMORROW.

It's fun to be me!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Two adults discuss...achieving their Fitbit goals.




Many of you know that I've been getting up before work and taking a walk for my health and weight loss goals.  (Don't get excited...I find that I'm also eating more to counter balance all the good I'm doing myself with these walks.)  Last week Hubby started joining me on my morning jaunts and, as has been our custom, we also walk down to the local Starbucks for a beverage at the end of the work day. Not every day, I mean, we have to leave coffee available for the rest of the world.

Friends, I'm not going to lie. This one's a little bit of a thinker.  Some of you are going to get it right away.  Some, not so much. To those of you who get it, congrats and LOL. To those of you who don't...well, this is just going to be a little boring.

BUT, you've been warned.

Oh, and yes, while it's not a word for word recounting, this is an ACTUAL conversation Hubby and I had on our walk home from Starbucks. 




So we were walking back from Starbucks (ours is 1.2 miles from our house, so it's a legit walk) and hubby says, "I just buzzed.  I reached my Fitbit goal."

"I haven't buzzed yet," says I.

"Well I guess we have to keep walking until you do buzz then," says he.

I looked at how many steps I needed and I realized that just walking home from Starbucks was not going to get the job done.  "You're not going to want to walk as long as it's going to take to get me to buzz."

"Oh, no, really, we can keep walking until you buzz, I'm find with it."

We took a few more steps and I felt guilty.  "No, it's fine.  Maybe I just won't buzz today.  I don't want to force you to keep going until I buzz if you're already buzzed."

"Well...you know, you could always finish up yourself, Maybe you can buzz on your own at home...like use the mini trampoline to get you there.  You like the mini trampoline."

"But it's just not as much fun trying to buzz by myself.  It's always more satisfying if we can buzz together."

"Well of course it is," says he.  "But that doesn't always happen."

"Tell me about it!"  I respond.  "It seems like you generally buzz way more quickly than I do and then I have to figure out a way to buzz on my own."

"That's just how it is, sometimes," says Hubby with a grin on his face.

"Sometimes I wish I was a guy.  It always takes women more work to achieve the buzz.  So unfair." I grumble.


Like I said, my friends...if you get it, you're laughing out loud. If not...well...have someone explain it to you. 

Meanwhile, have a great weekend!




Monday, October 16, 2017

Sarah loses the war in a Panera bathroom.



Okay.  I'll admit it. I'm done.  The war is over and I've lost.  I'm done like the day I delivered my oldest and I informed the doctors and nurses (and pretty much everyone else within hearing) that after 12 hours of labor I was done and they were the medical professionals, they were going to have to get the baby out because I WAS DONE.

And such was the same feeling, albeit I was wearing far more clothing and wasn't lying on my side screaming in anguish, last night as I realized that I'd officially lost the war on public bathrooms.

Congrats, Panera bread, you've taken my life long quest to defeat horrible public restrooms and you've beaten me at my own game.  I hope you add my defeat last night to your training videos.

Oh, what, you think big corporations aren't filming us in public restrooms.  Please.

Anyway, this is how it happened.  Readers of my blog know I keep things as honest as possible and I don't shy away from showing myself is a less than flattering light.  It's what keeps you sadistic readers coming back time after time. (Yeah, I know, you all love to watch me crumble.  And I'm really, really okay with that.)

So, without further ado...here's what happened:

I have felt pretty lousy the last several days. Stomach issues continue, this time around it's again nausea and a general sense of "blech."  Good for the diet, not so good for living life. 

Hubby came home from visiting family and was hungry. I was not. I was on the verge of heaving.  (Peaches actually asked me on Saturday if I was pregnant.  I know, that would be entertaining...but no, that's not what's happening here.  I just think I have the flu and it's lasted roughly 19 months.)

But I digress.

So last night we went to Panera Bread. They have clean food, and their soups are very comforting. Just what I thought I might need on a sort of rainy, gross night (not to mention the day my beloved Green Bay Packers lost their wonderful QB, Aaron Rodgers to an  injury...and at the hands of the horrible hated Minnesota Vikings.)

There I go, digressing again.

I ordered the chicken noodle soup, literally the gentlest food a person can order anywhere.  We had a very nice, quiet meal, but at the end I felt the need for the restroom.

Now, I've been to this Panera before, but I swear to you on my honor as an author and blogger, (Yeah, there's some kind of oath we take...or wait, was that just me) that the last time I used this restroom, this was not a problem. They've clearly updated the fixtures in the last four months.

The stall experience was not the issue.  Yes, the stall was a tiny bit too small, but it's not winter yet, so I didn't feel like a sardine wrapped in a giant blanket and squeezed into a tube, as I generally do in non-handicapped stalls.  (I don't use the handicapped stalls.  I just don't.)

No, the problem was the washing hands portion of the bathroom experience.  And here's how it went.

The faucet was automatic, as was the soap dispenser. GREAT! 

BUT....

They were quite close together. And when I waved my hand under the soap, after first I got no soap, a second pass turned on the water and the soap at the same time, thereby rinsing the soap off my hands before I had a chance TO WASH.

I attempted the soap again, this time getting nothing on my hands, but some got on the dispenser itself.  So I tried to rinse that off with the water, but managed to turn on the soap and the water together...again...and got MORE soap on both faucets, but now at least some was on my hands.

I went through the motion of washing, careful to avoid the faucet so as not to rinse off the soap before I was ready. However, while rinsing I also got too close to the soap faucet and again wound up with soap on my hands...and on both faucets.

This little dance went on for a couple minutes until I figured out a way (I thought) would outsmart the automatic faucets. I would not try washing the soap off with water.  No, I would bypass the sink completely and get paper towel to wipe up any erstwhile soap and water.

Humans are smarter than machines!

Yeah, that sense of euphoria didn't last long.

I waved my hand under the paper towel dispenser (On my right, mounted on the wall, a foot away from the water and soap.) and actually got paper towel.  SUCCESS!

Then I tried wiping down the two dispensers.

Every time I touched one or other other with the towel, they would BOTH TURN ON.  And, and I have no idea why this happened, though I was holding the paper towel ABOVE both dispensers, the towel got went and managed to transfer foamy soap all over both chrome faucets.
\
Now at this point the sink area is covered in soap and water and paper towel and I'm not one bit closer to tidying up after myself than I was minutes earlier.  Oh, and my arms are wet.  Good thing I was wearing short sleeves.

I take a deep breath and get as much paper towel as the dispense will allow. Armed with several sheets, I decide to take a "Top and bottom" approach, you know, occupying the dispensers from below while wiping them off from above.

Do I really need to tell you how this played out?

I had to admit defeat.  I deposited the wet, foamy, towels into the garbage and walked away from the still foam covered faucets. There was just no wiping them down.

All I said to Hubby when I returned to the table was this:  "Now I have a blog post."

That's it. I admit defeat. The machines have taken over and I can't beat them.  All I can do now is give up and stop using public restrooms forever (Which means I won't be going places much anymore).  The alternative, to leave a restroom in worse shape than I found it, is horrifying to me.

Yes, yes. Big Automatic Faucet has me right where it wants me now.


Friday, September 15, 2017

5 for Friday: Time Warner Tries to Ruin my life...and other bits of nonsense.


Hello everyone!

Once again, Hubby made his trek to the Rocky Mountain State where he spent two weeks with his sister and her husband and their many dogs.  Some people might wonder at why I don't join him. What kind of marriage is this? He vacations for two solid weeks without me?

Yeah, well, there are a couple reasons I don't go along.

1)  He's got infinitely more vacation time than I do.
2) If I went with him, I wouldn't have super fun posts like this one about how much nonsense happens when he's away.

In the past it's been the children who have waited for this two week period to dump massive, life changing stuff on me while I'm alone and my back up is on a mountain.  Most recently, Peaches moved out of the house two years ago.  But I swear those two just wait until hubby is out of the house to ask things like, "Can I start taking birth control for fun?" (Six years ago...) "By the way did you know I skipped out of all my gym classes using those crappy crutches I got at a rummage sale?" (Five years ago.) "Oh yeah, has the school office called you yet?" (Both kids...numerous times...it's the first week of school, seriously?)  I could go on, but the list is pretty long and shocking.

Anyway, this year, Hubby sat both children down (I mean they're 23 and 20...so a lot of the stuff that destroyed me in the past isn't even a thing to worry about now.) and he made them promise not to do or say anything that was going to send me into a tizzy.

Hubby should have put that command a little further out into the universe.  Things went...awry.

So here's the top five nonsensical things that happened probably BECAUSE hubby was gone.

5)  The Internet, and therefore the HULU went out.

Recently the family "cut the cable" and moved to Hulu Live for TV. We also got an antenna for local stations. (HD Antenna guaranteed to get signals up to 75 miles away.)  This system has been working GREAT for the past month. And by GREAT I mean I love Hulu live for what little live TV I actually watch.  The antenna, not so much. It works for about 20 minutes and then we lose signal.

So a week ago Tuesday Skippy complained that the Wifi was out.  The children are the basement dwellers and the wifi, especially for Skippy in his fortress of solitude, is not perfect.  I didn't put too much credence on it until I started getting messages on the TV that Hulu was not connecting.

Well, our Internet service is through my very favorite people in the world TIME WARNER CABLE NOW CALLED SPECTRUM.  (Yeah...you can call it what you want, it's still crappy Time Warner service.)  And Time Warner had taken it upon themselves to shut down our Internet for our own protection.  

Gee...I didn't realize my Hulu needed a babysitter.

I tried something new. I tried the virtual assistant.  That was virtually a waste of time so then I did the live chat.  After 40 minutes it became abundantly clear that THAT was a waste of time. So I called a live human person.  (At this point it's 11 PM on a school night and I'm sweating the way a fluffy girl does when she's annoyed.)  This time I got a guy named Very Nice Jason who actually seemed to solve the problem.  He told me to run three separate scans on the computer once a week and that our service was restored. 


All was well in the kingdom!

4) What you're telling me would have more effect if you weren't so messy.

Saturday my mom and I did the Waukesha Farmers Market like we do most Saturdays.  On this fine morning a woman came up and I recognized her. She'd purchased a couple of my books.  Well, this time she stepped right around my table (A Farmer's Market faux pas) and she said, "I want to talk to you about your book."

Turns out, there were some editing flaws. 57, to be exact.  She'd put sticky notes in the book noting each one.  She told me she wanted her money back and, as a parting shot, she told me I had no business selling books ever.

That's pretty serious stuff and it hurt.  I mean, as a self published author, getting an editor you can trust to do a good job is not easy.  I've hired and fired a couple in the past, and apparently the one who did the three books in question really did a far worse job than I initially thought.  My mom, who is now my editor because 1) I trust her and 2) She has the patience and the eye for line editing, sat down and looked up each of the flaws.  We fixed them. We also fixed the flaws in the other books.

Here's the thing:  Given the high righteous indignation of the woman at the market, I would have thought she'd be one of those people who treated books like treasures.  You know, you never touch a book with dirty hands.  You never leave a book upside down and open to mark your page.  You never, EVER EVER eat or drink while reading?  Because when someone is griping out the cleanliness of the book print, and one wants a full refund, one should be mindful of what they're doing with the book, right?

Not in this lady's case. Nope.  The book had coffee stains on pages and worse yet, some of the pages stuck together with some sort of candy residue.  

BUT, as I said, this alerted me to an editing problem that was far worse than I suspected and therefore we've fixed it.  That lady thinks she destroyed me...but she actually helped me AND gave me something for the blog.

And all was well in the kingdom!

3) You can take my wifi, but you can't take my PACKER GAME!
Go ahead, try and hide your real name!


So on Sunday I was all ready to watch my BELOVED Green Bay Packers play the first game of the season.  AND I was excited to watch the game on HULU live.  

And then Skippy came upstairs and announced that he'd gotten the message from TIME WARNER NOW KNOWN AS SPECTRUM that they'd shut down our Internet AGAIN for our own protection.

Oh no you don't!

So I called again, only this time instead of getting very Nice Jason I got Not Very Nice Someone who, after about five minutes, told me he couldn't help me because I hadn't proven I was a named person on the account.

This is an issue I have with Time Warner.  I AM a named person on the account.  BUT, since Hubby's name is first, that's all they see and therefore I feel like it's 1955 and I have to wait until my husband gets home for anything to get done because they can't deal with women.

To add insult to injury, the guy hung up on me.

I called back. This time I got Even Less Nice Nikki.  Nikki refused to acknowledge that anything I'd been told to do on Tuesday by Nice Jason was something she could walk me through.  She did, so graciously, turn on my Internet again, but she told me I had to call back and talk to technical support.  I asked, "aren't YOU technical support?"

"No," says she, "I'm customer service."

Well you're doing a bang up job!

But the Internet was back and all was well with the kingdom!

2) And this might be why we don't have block parties.

My parents are in the process of getting my grandparents' house ready for sale. This has involved a ton of yard work (Hubby's been helping) and landscaping, which my aunt thinks is necessary, but whatever.  So on Sunday before the Packer Game they were headed over to move some lawn waste and whatnot.  They stopped by to pick up something, although I can't recall what at this point because they've stopped by to pick up a lot lately.

As they were getting into their car, having loaded whatever it was from my house into their vehicle, my mom told me, in very loud tones, that she was supporting her back with her maternity girdle. AND THEN she yanked up her shirt and showed me.

That thing is 50 years old.

We were laughing and I said that yes, I wore mine (They are super back support) until it fell apart.  And then Mom says, "Well mine did, too, but I sewed a new panel in the crotch and I'm good to go."

My father is a man who doesn't like ruckus or a show...and this was sort of both right there in front of my neighbor's houses.  

Mom got into the car, still laughing, and said, "There, put that in your blog!"

Dad said, "Who's going to read it?"

Only everyone...

And all was well with the kingdom.

1)  What is it, you say, you do here?

Once the Packer game was over, I decided to tackle this Internet thing head on.  I sat down and called the TIME WARNER NOW KNOWN AS SPECTRUM number AGAIN and asked for Technical Support.

There was a long pause on the other end.  "Who told you to ask for that?"

Because this is completely normal with this company.  "Nikki."

"Ok...." The guy did NOT sound like that was the right answer.  

A minute later I got a guy...and at this point I don't even care what his name was. He put me through the same Spanish Inquisition proving I am who I said I was.  (Are people really calling Time Warner and pretending to be someone else?  What kind of sick, twisted, masochist would do that?)

I spent thirty minutes on the phone with this guy, discussing routers and boosters and all of that.  And after 30 minutes the guy says this:


"I'm not an expert. You're going to have to call someone else."

WHAT????????????????????????????????????????

You are the technical support of my internet provider. If you don't know what to do, who does?  What, exactly, is your job then?

"See, you don't have one of our routers."

No, we don't.  The last time I allowed Time Warner equipment into my house, we had to go to their store every 5 weeks to get a new one because it kept not working.

"So you have to call someone else."

Ten minutes later I was on the phone with a man from Linksys. This man is in India, and his name is Mani Maren. I'm giving him a shout out because once I started talking to him, no matter what happened (phone call was disconnected three times and he called back every time) he stuck with me until we got the service fixed and going again. It took more than an hour, but Mani stuck with me and in the end, I told him if he was ever in Wisconsin, he should look me up, I'd make him dinner.

Well, I mean, I should really have Hubby make him dinner.  You know, because we want to thank the guy, not make him eat my attempt at cooking.

And all is again well in the kingdom!

So, Hubby returns tomorrow afternoon. I'm fairly certain nothing else can happen, although the cars have all been behaving a little too well...and I do have another Farmer's Market tomorrow....




Oh, wait! I DO have a Valentine's Day Story!

Those of you who know me know that, while I've been known to write a romance novel or two, (Four) I'm really not that into Valen...