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Thursday, May 25, 2017

As Confuterus Says...



WARNING!

I find humor in almost any situation and my job, as I see it, is to bring levity to the world by sharing what I find humorous. Today's blog deals with a potentially sensitive medical subject and may not be funny for everyone. But if I can make one person less worried about a procedure, or maybe smile in spite of some medical tests, then my work here is done.




 As some of you know I've been dealing with severe anemia for the last several months.  Iron supplements don't seem to help and a recent colonoscopy and endoscopy showed nothing.  So, in an effort to find out why I'm simply not managing acceptable iron levels, my doctor sent me to a gynecological specialist.  

So on Tuesday I went to Dr. M's office. I should note that Dr. M is a woman. Why is this a big deal?  I haven't been to a female gyno doctor in 24 years, and that time it was under protest. See, it goes back to when I was 16 and I got my first yeast infection (hey, Todd, I warned you at the front, it just gets worse from here) I went to my mother's gyno, a woman, who basically treated me like she would a very old, very rusty Chevy.  Then, when I went in for the pre-marriage birth control appointment (I'll go no further into detail about that) I again went to my mother's woman who again jabbed tools up in my delicate places with all the tender touch of a blind Teamster with a hangover.  In short...it was a painful experience and I felt the woman had no respect for the female equipment and therefore I swore I would go to a male gyno because men had more reverence for the womanly parts.

And that worked out very well for me until I got pregnant for the first time and the rule of the clinic was that I had to be examined by all the docs in the practice just in case one of them got called in for delivery.  Well, one of the three was a woman whose name I remember to this day because of her cold, hard hearted approach to a first time mom who was wildly sick during pregnancy and had a ton of questions. But no, that's fine, rush through the appointment, don't answer anything, treat me like I'm a moron, and then go read your People Magazine in your office.  (I really wish I was making that up, but that's the honest truth of what happened in that appointment.)

Which brings me to Tuesday when I saw Dr. M. who is not only a woman, but also younger than some of my sweaters.  She might not be my daughter, but when she walked in I had an overwhelming urge to tell her to make sure she eats a vegetable at some point during the day.
I'm not sure why the picture of the woman wearing a winter coat
with the image of a uterus superimposed on her
makes me laugh...but it does.
I'm not going to go into detail about what happened at that appointment...well, okay maybe a little detail. See, the thing is she did an internal ultrasound.  (This was sooooooooooo not like the ones I had when I was pregnant.) I asked if I could take the pictures home. She said, "Well, if you really want to." Then I thought about how NO ONE wanted to see my colonoscopy pics, so it would be
unlikely anyone would want to check out my uterine ultrasound images. See what you people miss by being all delicate?

At the end of the ultrasound Dr. Young-Enough-To-Still-Live-In-My-Basement told me she'd found a polyp and she wanted to do a biopsy.  Big, scary words.  And all I could think was, "Is there any way I can work this into a blog?"  I kept thinking, no, because, well, it's not funny.

Yet.

So we set the biopsy for today at 1:45.  And I confirmed online on MyChart.  (Which is the online thing doctors use now to give you your test results instead of actually talking to your face.)

I got to the clinic, Hubby in tow because he wanted to be supportive, and when I got to the check in desk the woman told me I didn't have an appointment.  Oh, believe me, I put on make up and earrings...I have an appointment!  I showed her the card they gave me on Tuesday.  She looked at her computer screen and informed me I'd canceled the appointment at 8:30 this morning.

Oh no, do NOT mess with me. 

After several phone calls back to the women's center at the hospital where they scheduled the appointment and the clinic where I was supposed to have the appointment, they sorted it out, but by the time I got to the check in desk at the proper department I was very nearly late. And it didn't help that there was one receptionist and she was ancient and clearly technology challenged and the people in front of me had problems that simply COULD NOT be solved by just typing in their date of birth. 

After sorting out the cancellation snafu  AGAIN there I sat and waited for half an hour before they called me into the exam room.

Now, for those of you who have not had a uterine polyp biopsy, let me say there are a list of things they tell you to do to prep for this.

1) Show up 15 minutes early.  (I did. Fat lot of good it did me, because I showed up 20 minutes early and I was still almost late thanks to some computer glitch that cancelled my app when I hit the "confirm" button.)

2)  Take 600 MG Advil 1 hour before the appointment.  (Well I forgot to do that until hubby reminded me when we got in the car. The good news is that by the time I got on the exam table it had been an hour.)

3)  Bring in all your med bottles with the proper labels.  (Weird, since all my med info is in the chart, but okay. I brought them.  I should note, I'm in my tiny summer purse right now and two med bottles really made things crowded in there.)

Those were my instructions and I followed them.

I got weighed.  Yay.  I got blood pressured (it was a little high...go figure...) I got unclothed and covered with a sheet from the waist down and I got on the table.

Dr. Young Person came in and chatted about the weekend and the weather and the wait and all of that.  Then she had me "SCOOCH"  (so graceful) and she began her work "under the hood."  (Hey, there was a hanging light, power tools, wrenches, a socket set and drop clothes. You tell me what else to call it.)

"You'll feel some pressure..." 

Oh yeah I will.

"Now this will pinch."

Yep.

"And you're going to feel some cramping."

Oh yes. Like day two of the worst punctuation ever.
Then we were done.  And she land the nurse left.  I dressed and noticed that there was...well there was some spotting on the paper sheet on the exam table.
Hey, know what they DIDN'T tell me to bring?

Yep, female punctuation protection.  Oh good.  And here I am with my summer purse full to the gills with med bottles no one asked to see.

I headed to the ladies room where I had to MacGyver some T.P. since I had zero change for the female punctuation protection machine.  I wasn't worried...I mean, a little spotting is no big deal.

Nope, it was more than a little spotting. Cramps...clots...and all the other fun stuff I get every month.

Good lord, Female Doogie Houser pushed the eject button in my uterus!

We head to the car at a relatively brisk pace, and I tell Hubby all my symptoms and how this is weeks before I'm supposed to have them.  

And Hubby, dear Hubby who came to support me and be my hero, says...."Well, the procedure confused your uterus.  It's CONFUTERUS right now."

Some days that man of mine just makes it so easy!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Saluting Teachers Everywhere with my Hamster Story!

Good afternoon!

So school is just about at an end for the year here in the US and I want to salute the hard work and thankless weirdness teachers endure.  See, when you work with kids apart from their parents is a challenge, and when you also have to deal with parents...well, that's a recipe for saint hood in some cases.

Many, many moons ago I was also a teacher.  Yes, they trusted me with the education of tiny humans.  It didn't last long.  And this story may be part of why.

My first (and only) year of teaching was at a tiny parochial school just outside of Detroit, Michigan. I had grades K-3 (it was a TINY school) topping out at 18 students when they were all there.  I inherited from the previous teacher an aging hamster named...oh crud, what was that beast's name...oh right, CHESTER!  Chester was a very old hamster, fat, slow moving, two feet on the rainbow bridge, however you want to look at it.

In October, as most teachers know, there's a lovely long weekend we call "Teacher's Conference."  I don't know about you, but growing up in a teacher's house, that was code for, "Great weekend out of town with no kids."  I knew I was going to be away from the classroom for four days and that was too long to leave Chester alone.  So I asked for volunteers from the classroom and Timmy and Sally Brown (not their real names) volunteered.

Now, teachers know this, but for those who don't, getting a kindergartener and a first grader to volunteer for anything is easy.  Getting proper follow through on the part of the parents is more of a challenge.  (I believe the phrase we all know is, "My kid said I'd do WHAT?")  But in the case of the Brown children, I knew the mother well and knew her to be a lovely, giving, attentive person.

Or so I thought.

I handed Chester off to Mrs. Brown on Wednesday afternoon. I gave the Browns the food, litter, water dish, and tank. Basically they were going to have to feed and water and poop producing paper weight for four days.  

Something you should know about Timmy Brown: The child was a hot mess.  I mean, he was definitely genius material, so smart, but when it came to basic stuff like holding on to a pencil for more than five minutes without losing it or playing outside for one ten minute recess without tearing a hole in his clothes or getting covered in mud...the kid just wasn't able to do it.  I would give him one pencil each morning at 8 and by 9:30 he'd lost it. Same with crayons. I'd give him one and within five minutes he'd either eaten it or lost it.  I'm pretty sure the kid pooped rainbows.  But so smart!  He loved to take things apart and put them back together again, just to see how they worked.  

Timmy's younger sister, Sally, was just as smart, but far more together. Her desk was always perfection, she never got dirty, and I could put a 64 box of crayons in her hand and it would return to me days later in pristine condition.

Knowing all this, I gave the Brown family the classroom pet and I dashed off to teachers conference.

Monday morning dawned full of enthusiasm and excitement. Remember, I was a rookie and everything seemed like a new, great, wonderful idea.  I was sorting things at my desk and greeting the wee ones as they came in, when I heard this:

"Miss Schultz! Timmy killed Chester!"

All eyes shot to the classroom door where Sally Brown, looking very old maid school marm with her
spotless white blouse and jumper and her stern facial expression. (Hilarious on a five year old.)

"I'm sorry, what did you say Sally?"

"Timmy killed Chester!"  She walked in the room with a grave air of importance.  The normal buzz from the other students silenced as she approached my desk.  "Chester escaped from his cage and Timmy was chasing him and Timmy fell on Chester and crushed him."

Sure, at first I gasped at the horror of it.  But let's think about this:  Chester escaped from his cage? This was a hamster housed in a big fish tank.  I checked on a regular basis to see if he was BREATHING. The idea that he'd made a break for it was...not even in my power to envision.

Second, Chester moved fast enough that someone had to CHASE him?  

Third: What kind of trauma did that create in the Brown household when the six year old fell and CRUSHED the geriatric classroom pet?

Sometimes it's hard to be a teacher when you want to just laugh right out loud and you can't because doing so might just damage those spongy little brains and face it, don't we all live to NOT be mentioned in a serial killer's memoir?

At this point Timmy walked in looked quite crestfallen.  It was the same expression he wore when he lost, ate, or destroyed ten crayons before lunch.  "I'm sorry Missus Schultz"  (Half the kids called me Miss, half Missus.  I didn't correct them because...well, it just didn't matter in the scope of things.)  "Chester somehow broke out of his cage and he was running away and I was chasing him and I tripped and fell on him."

Now, you'd think there would be a parent in the classroom somehow explaining this so the youngsters wouldn't have to relive the horror of a crushed critter on their own. You'd be wrong. The parents in this "not quite Detroit" classroom weren't what you'd call "hands on" so much as they were "get out of the car and don't bother me until I have to come get you at 3:30."  So no, Mrs. Brown dropped her kids off and did not step in to give me the true details of what had happened.

Of course, later in the year, at a field trip to an amusement park, Mrs. Brown had some sort of brain injury (inflicted on her when a boarder she'd taken in beat her head with a baseball bat. She didn't bother to get treatment at the time. Why would she?) and we had to send her from the field trip to the hospital...which was in Canada...because that's where the amusement park was. (What, you don't take gradeschool kids across international lines to ride roller coasters and call it a field trip?  Well you should!  But that's another story for another day.)

My point in all of this is that there was no more Chester, I never did get the fish tank or the hamster food back, and Mrs. Brown never did fully explain what happened. Quite honestly, I counted it as a win because I never had to worry about a classroom pet again.

So stay strong my dear teacher friends!  The school year is nearly over, you almost get to turn those kids back over to their parents for ten weeks...just so the parents can ruin everything you've worked for in the last nine months.

Think of it as job security.

Have a great summer!




Monday, May 22, 2017

Ninja Pig in My Teeth: Not the Weirdest thing Hubby and I Discussed this Weekend.



WARNING! 
 This post contains some elements that may be too adult for anyone under the age of 14.



Good evening!

So this weekend was a bit of a revelation for me.  Due to the lousy weather and the fact that our children are now adults and no longer spend time with us, (Unless one of their cars is broken) Hubby and I had plenty of time to spend together and actually...talk.

When you've been together as long as Hubby and I have been, it's a wonder we have anything left to say to each other that don't involve the words "cat litter" or "muscle ache."  The kids are old enough now that we're not monitoring their day to day everything, so we don't talk about them as much. (Sorry kids!) And since we both work from home, we don't have a lot in the way of fun office stories to tell.

You'd think we be bored, but then a weekend like this happens.

It started with the drive to Walmart.  Now, I know you think I'd have given up on Walmart after the "mini-soda" incident, but I have not.  I still like that if I have a weird shopping list there's one place I know I'm going to find everything in one place.  And we had a weird shopping list full of grocery, yard, gift, and storage items.

It was raining HARD on Saturday and, as we pulled out of the the Sunset Family Restaurant parking lot (If you live in Waukesha you need to check out their breakfast menu.  Nothing fancy, but solid food.) Hubby says, "That car behind us...now that's something that pisses me off."

I look in the side mirror and I see a gray vehicle without it's lights on. When it's raining and gray, if you are in a gray vehicle you are all but invisible.  "Yes," says I.  "That's not safe."

"Oh no," says he.  "I mean, not having your lights on, that annoys me.  But it's the other thing he's doing that pisses me off."

I look again. I notice nothing.

"It's not raining that hard." My dear husband of many years glances in the rear view mirror.  "It's not
But is it raining hard enough to set the wipers to 'high?'
raining that hard, and he's got his wipers on full high like it's pouring or something."

I'm going to give you a moment, much like the one I took, to let that sink in.

My unflappable husband, my rock, the one who puts up with all my quirks (although he has been known to privately mock some of them) has an odd thing that wildly annoys him...and I'm just now finding out about it?

How is this possible?

"Let me get this straight," says I.  "You aren't as annoyed by the fact that the car behind us is all but invisible because he's not smart enough to turn on his lights, but the fact that his wipers are going a bit too fast for rain conditions has got you all tied up?"

"Yes.  It's stupid to run your wipers that fast. It's not raining that hard."

"You're as nuts as I am!"  I shout gleefully.  All these years, I thought I was the irrational one with my rage at unmade beds and plates of co mingled Christmas cookies.  Nope, turns out...Hubby's got a thing too!

Now, that was going to be my complete blog...but then the weekend of conversations got weirder.


Sunday evening, a time of day when I normally don't go anywhere or do anything, Hubby convinced me to go out for dinner.  We went to the new Belair Cantina  that just opened in the monstrosity of a shopping center hubby lovingly calls his "new coffee shop."  I've never been to Belair, but the minute I get to any new restaurant, the same thing happens:  I turn into the world's biggest food critic know it all.  It's annoying, really.  I annoy myself, but I can't stop. Blame it on 20 years of watching Food Network, because I can't blame it on any childhood experience or cooking talent of my own.

We get there and we're enjoying our tacos and I'm spouting all kinds of nonsense about "farm to table" produce and "never frozen" meat and "Asian influences" on my taco.

Good lord.

Anyway they seat a couple next to us and we're eating and they're reading the menu and the guy asks us what we're eating. We tell him, and I suggest the vegetarian tacos because, yes, in the middle of my foodie mania, I will order vegetarian just to seem smart.

I'm such a moron sometimes.

Anyway, the woman actually orders the black bean and corn taco (which is very good by the way) but does not order the Ninja Pig taco, which is a sort of sweet pork taco and it's yummy.  (You'll need to know that taco name in a minute.)  The guy opts for the burrito, which is massive.  They dive into their food and we're eating and all is well. 


Then, randomly , the guy looks at me and says, "Greatest movie of the 80's?"

Oh it's on!

I answered, "Breakfast Club" as did hubby and the couple agreed. This began a conversation about movies so in depth that the waitress offered to push our tables together.  We declined, but kept talking and then the subject of Bob and Brian, my favorite morning radio show came up and turns out, the wife listens to B and B as well so we shared stories about that. It was so fun ...and so weird, because when we're out we don't generally become besties with the people next to us.  

During our talk, I mentioned Hubby and I had been together for almost 30 years. The man looked at me and laughed and said, "And you still like each other?"

We all laughed, but it is funny to think about...in this day and age, when relationships fall apart at a blink, Hubby and I have managed to stay together and stay best friends.

Oh, oops. Almost got mushy there.  

Upon leaving the restaurant, Hubby and I stopped at the local liquor store to pick up a six pack of the beer he'd tried at dinner. This is a new hobby for Hubby.  (A hubby hobby. Who else is laughing?)  I don't mind because that just leaves more wine for me!  (We're at a delicate balance in the fridge right now.  It's getting very close to being more alcoholic beverages in there than anything else.  Is that a problem?)

On the way out of the store I mentioned that he should remind me to floss as soon as we got home because, "I have a chunk of Ninja Pig in my teeth."

"That's a blog title," says he.

And it should have been.

Except...

On the way home, we passed by a little four resident apartment building we've long called "The Gates of Hell."  (If you live in Waukesha, it's on the part of East Moreland that's 25 MPH, but everyone goes 40.  If you live in town, you know what I'm talking about.)  Outside the building was a recliner, sitting on the curb for anyone to take.

"Hey, we could pick that up."  I suggest this because we've been thinking about getting a recliner.

"I'm not taking anything that came from in front of the gates of hell," Hubby says.  "You know someone died in that chair."

"Someone was murdered in that chair."

"Right. And I don't want any murder death chair in my house."

This is where it gets nuts.  "And you just know someone overdosed on heroin in that chair.  So that makes it a murder, death, heroin suicide chair."

"And I still don't want it in my house," says he.

"Oh, but YOU KNOW someone did some kind of sex fetish thing in that chair."  (See, you should never allow a writer to let an idea start rolling downhill in her brain.  Things go really wrong quickly.)

"So then it's a death-murder-heroin-suicide-sex-fetish chair. And I STILL don't want it in my house!"

We stop at a light and I have a brilliant idea!  "That's a blog title!"\

Now hubby, in spite of his thing about windshield wipers, is still the more logical of the two of us.  "No, you can't," says he.  "You have kids who read your blog. You can't be putting up a title about a death-murder-heroin-suicide-sex-fetish chair at the gates of Hell."

He's right. Of course he's right.

So I'll just put it in my blog....and put a warning at the top... and let you people sort it out!

And yes, when we got home, I did floss out the Ninja Pig.




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The People of Walmart: Raising spirits and crushing them in one stop.



Good afternoon!

Have you ever gone out in public thinking, "Well I feel sort of crappy and I look not my best...but I need toilet paper, so I'll go to Walmart?"

I can't possibly be the only person whose had that thought.

That was me today anyway.  I've got a plugged ear, something I get probably once, maybe twice a year.  This wreaks havoc with me on all levels.  The echo in my head makes it hard for me to hear, and gives me a headache. And it's super not fun when you work on the phone, using a headset, like I do.  Work's been a bit hairy for me the last couple days (I'm learning a new procedure and you know the saying about old dogs and new anythings?)

So this afternoon I was feeling drained and sweaty  (Yes, we went from, "Holy moly it's cold" to "Can I PLEASE turn on the AC" in a week.) but I needed a few things, including toilet paper, so I figured I'd go to Walmart and be anonymous.

And I was, for the first half hour.  It was actually funny, fans of the show "Fargo" will appreciate the
fact that automatic door didn't open for me until I backed up and tried again.  (If you're not watching FX's "Fargo" you should be.)  The greeter at the door, once upon a time a fun old person, has been replaced by a lethargic teen who would rather die than actually say something to anyone who is not another teen.

I got through most of my list being invisible, which was nice.  I didn't feel bad about the fact that I had bed head that had been mussed by the winds we've got going outside.  I still felt sweaty, but the AC in Walmart, bless them, was on and I wasn't suffering.

Then I was in the candy/bulk ketchup/Asian food aisle  (It's a thing, check it out.  Sweet and sour sauce, Sour Patch kids, and 120 ounces of ketchup all in one aisle. I love this country.) getting some sweet and sour sauce when a gentleman roughly my age, and in pretty rough shape hygienically speaking, walked almost past me.  

"How are you?" says he.

"I'm good," says I, without really looking away from the sweet and sour sauce shelf.  "How are you today?"

"Oh I feel like I got into a fight with an ugly stick." Says the man.  And yes, he looked like he slept in his clothes...in a garage...under a car...that was leaking oil...and mud.

"Oh no," says I.  "That's too bad."

"Yeah, and the ugly stick won!"

With that, we reached opposite ends of the aisle and turned corners away from each other.  But amazingly enough I felt good.  I felt good about myself that this filthy guy had no trouble starting a conversation with me.  Maybe I wasn't so bad today! 

Having secured all the goods I needed and with a bounce in my step, I headed up to the check out counter.

And that's where this happened.

I greeted the checker who greeted me back and we exchanged a few pleasantries.  And then, she picks up the 10 pack of 7.5 ounce Cokes I bought and says, "3.50 for such small cans.  Why would you be stupid and buy these when the bigger cans are cheaper?"

There are many reasons.  1)  I don't need 12 ounces of soda at one time ever and I hate wasting half a  can.  2)  fewer calories in a can.  3)  Less aluminum, less energy to make the aluminum. 4)  Less per serving, less sugar in my life  5) they are cute cans 6)  WHY DO YOU CARE WHAT I BOUGHT AS LONG AS I BOUGHT IT HERE AND I PAID FOR IT?

That one little comment, said half under her breath, brought back all the icky feelings I was having as it echoed painfully in my head. Maybe I am stupid for spending more money on a smaller product.  Maybe I'm stupid for buying Coke at all.

She handed me my receipt and told me not to put it in my purse because someone "might" check it at the door.

If it's the same person at the door, it's not likely she's going to see me much less ask me to stop and let her look in my cart.

On my way out I saw the filthy guy again and I smiled at him because he'd made my blues go away for a minute and I appreciate that.  

And I was right about the girl at the door not checking my receipt.  So I had to stop and put it in my purse in the entry way....the echoey, noisy entry way.  Which didn't mess with my head at all.

And now I'm going to go and have an ice cold mini Coke.




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Reposting a favorite: Willie Nelson would not love the road if he had trips like this.

Good morning!

So last night while talking to my friend Shayna, the story of my trip back from my uncle's funeral came up and, as she was laughing, Shayna asked, "Where is THIS blog?"

Well I found it.  This is from October 2010.  This is all for you, Shayna.








Good afternoon all!

It's been sort of a lousy weekend.  The Packers lost today, which was my last hope for something cheerful.  My uncle passed away early this week after a long illness and the funeral was Friday in a town 6 hours from home.  Well, when normal people drive it, it's six hours.

See, on the trip back from the funeral, since Hubby had a family thing to attend in his hometown halfway between the funeral and where we live, I rode up with him on Thursday night. The funeral was late Friday afternoon, so by 6 pm he was ready to go, and I was to ride with my parents and my brother.  That was my big mistake. 

Let me create a mental image.  Ever hear of the movie "National Lampoon's Family Vacation?"  Yeah, that's our family.  Right down the the dog pee sandwiches.  The four of us have done very well in radio contests with disaster stories from our family vacations.

So riding home, late at night, with my parents and my brother, I knew was going to be...interesting.  At best.

It started out okay.  Dad and Bro driving the rental  (For the record, everyone of us has cars bigger than this rental.)  Mom and I folded up like origami in the back seat.  We were making good time because Bro was driving and Bro thinks of speed limits more as general suggestions for the weak. 

I should mention two things:

1) My mother has restless leg syndrome and is lactose intolerant.

2)  I'd been in pumps for 9 hours, and my already lousy feet went from numb to searingly painful pretty quickly.

Our first stop, 150 miles into the trip, (And 150 minutes, according to bro) got us past the tedious, two lane highway, section of the trip.  It was all interstate from here!  And, since we were leaving Minnesota, a lovely state, but one I've now dubbed "Land of 10,000 funky smells" I was jazzed.  Looking at the clock and working out the math, I figured we'd be home by midnight. 

Then my uncle, not the one who passed away, but the one who lives an hour east of the Wisconsin boarder, called my dad and invited him, since we were going that way, over for cake and soda.  Bro and I groaned because 1) This would cut into the fantastic time we were making  (The New Ulm, MN to Milwaukee, WI run is something college kids in New Ulm challenge each other to generation after generation.  IT was a matter of pride to beat the standing record.  As old people, we needed this, no matter how unofficial it would be.  We'd know we broke the record.)  and 2)  We were hungry and cake and soda was not going to do it.

We took a vote, three normal people and the lactose intolerant one, and we decided to hit the McDonald's in La Crosse, easy on/easy off exit.  Three of us knew these exits very, very well.

Which is why it was so ridiculous that we missed it. 

So we went two up, to Onalaska.  But the Mc D's in Onalaska isn't on the freeway.  So we had to make a quick change of plans. 

Culvers!

Ahhhhh, Culvers.  That blessed blue glow promising butter burgers and frozen custard.  (For those of you not familiar with Culvers, I feel very sorry for you.)  We all voted for that.

The thing about Culvers is, however, that they make everything when you order it.  So there's a wait.  And, since there were no cup holders in the rental  (for the record, everyone in this trip has cars that have no less that six cup holders.)  we had to eat in the restaurant.

We ate, but as we did so, Mother announced that it wasn't just dairy that gave her gas attacks...no, it was all restaurant food.  Oh, and she couldn't find her gas pills.

Eat up everyone!

Forty minutes later, our eta for home now closer to 1 AM, we get back in the car.  Another vote is taken on the cake and soda offer and since the parents get two votes (How did that happen?)  we stopped. 

"Half an hour"  my mother swears.  "We'll eat some cake and go in half an hour."

Well, my aunt, bless her, made brownies for our visit.  Warm brownies and ice cream!  Yum!

My mother ate a plate baked goods.  She weighs nine pounds and since she ate a plateful of baked goods, I gained six pounds. 

And then, as we were thanking my aunt and uncle...the subject of politics came up. 

CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, my parents and my relatives AGREE on all things political.  Seriously.  What this debate was about, I couldn't tell you.  It was four adults sitting at a table eating dessert and howling about the general state of affairs. 

Tick, tick, tick...

At 11 PM we made our way out of the house.  Mother, of course, stayed behind to use the gas room.  Uncle, who is a planter guy, wanted to show us his moon flowers.  Bro and I were as polite as we could be, but come on, we were five hours into what should have been a six hour trip, we still had a solid 2 hours and more to go, and it was already 11 PM.

But, flowers viewed, dessert eaten, gas released, we were back on the road. 

Well, for another 45 minutes.

At this point, Mother and I, both with legs and feet roiling in pain, were trying to sit face to face in the back seat of the rental, with our legs on the seat of the rental.  Since Mother is tiny, this worked, except getting the two of us out of the car took the skill of acrobatic conjoined twins.  (Hey, I watch a lot of Health Channel, I've seen the coordination it takes to move around.  I do not have that sort of coordination and Mother certainly doesn't.)

Rental cars...you think you hate them now, wait 'til you drive one!
At this point in the trip we stopped because my father is the master of the tiny details.  He knew that if he gassed up at the Kwik Trip in Mauston, he would have exactly the right amount of gas in the rental when he turned it in.  I should note here that had we been driving any one of our FOUR OWNED CARS, this fact would not have mattered.

So, Mother and I unfolded out of the car.  I used the ladies room, sharing a hand washing moment with a Chris-Farley-in-a-dress-look-alike. Since the universe is balanced, of course the mad she was with was a tiny, feminine looking fellow.  Hey, it was well after midnight at this point.

I wanted coffee.  But I didn't want hot coffee. Why not?

1)  It was roughly 1100 degrees in the car.

2) NO CUP HOLDERS IN THE RENTAL.

So I went to the "iced coffee" dispenser.  I had an insulated cup, but that was okay, I told the clerk it was iced coffee.  It's Kwik Trip, they really don't care what you put in the cup.

We got ourselves folded back into the car for the last two, yep you read that right, two hours of the trip.  I took a sip of blessed iced coffee.

It wasn't iced.

It wasn't even cold.

It was WARM! 

Not hot, but warm.  Warm and sticky and thick and gross.

I've never had a mental breakdown, but I think I know what the warning signs are now.

Somewhere in the woods of I-94, as we approached the Wisconsin Dells, I did something I never do. 

I threw out food. 

I opened my window, took the lid off the cup, and let the sticky coffee fly.

Have I mentioned I've never been really good with things like Physics?

While most of the coffee did fly into the semi behind us  (I started yelling, I've just hit a Teamster....DRIVE!)  a goodly portion stayed on my arm.

Great.  Now I'm sticky.

Mother is a problem solver.  She got a bottle of warm water  (Because  again, it's about 1100 degrees in the car.)  and said, "Rinse with this."

Then we hit a bump and the water splashed all over me, except on my arm.

Great, now I'm wet and sticky.

At this point, we are laughing so hard, it's hard to breath.  Mother then announces to the entire car, that she has a feminine wipe in her purse and that will clean me up.

That's when Bro turns on the radio.  Since my father avoids all things rock and roll, the radio is turned to his favorite AM station.  Do you know what they play on AM stations in the wee hours?

Radio plays.

Radio plays from the 40's.  I'm sitting there, wet and sticky, laughing my face off, twisted in some weird seating position they only picture in love making books from other cultures, and I'm listening to a radio play.

Well, I don't like being sticky, so I accepted my mother's feminine wipe.  Which made the volume of the radio play soar.  (Apparently Bro is not comfortable enough with his manliness to listen to a Massengill ad in the car.)  I wiped myself down.  Now, I'm not sticky.  I'm still wet, but at least I smell like flowers.

We rolled into Waukesha at 2 AM, 8 hours after we'd left New Ulm.  My kids waited up for me.  Awwww....Okay, Skippy doesn't go to bed on Friday nights, so that doesn't count.  But Peaches waited up for me which was nice.

My parents returned the rental, so they didn't get home until after 3.  I should note that had we driven one of our own cars, with the bigger back seat, the cup holders, and no rental rules worries, they would have been in bed almost an hour earlier.

I'm just sayin'.

So, you may ask, am I afraid my parents will be offended that I'm telling you all this?  Nope, I'm not. Know why?

Because somewhere on this death march into darkness, my mother said to me, "Sarah, your best writing is when you just tell it like it is."

So, here's to you, Mom!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Do People Hear The Words Coming Out of Their Mouths?

Good afternoon!

I've discovered something as I go out in public and talk to people about my books and life in general:

People do NOT listen to the words that come out of their mouths.


I wouldn't be caught dead READING!
I've posted before about some of the ridiculous, silly, and down right rude things people have said to me at markets and craft shows.  My favorite is "Well...that's nice...but I don't  READ."  (Said in a very snotty tone of voice only a super privileged middle aged white woman can muster.  Imagine smelling something really vile and then being asked to eat it. That's the face that goes with that tone of voice and statement.  Like reading is somehow so...low class she can't even conceived of being bothered to do it.)

Hey, remember when only upper class men were allowed to read?  And people suffered and died to get that right extended to women and people of color?

Yeah...so not wasted on some of the people walking past my booth!

But I digress.  Most of the people who come by and check out my books are perfectly lovely, but really have no idea how to gracefully tell me they don't want to buy my books.

Here's a hint.  Just say, "I'm not in the market to buy new books today."

No harm, no foul.  And we part friends and you don't get put in the blog.

Some people try to make is seem like they read, but they wouldn't be caught dead reading anything I wrote.


"Oh I only read non-fiction."


Yes, so much more intelligent than any fiction.
Right, like that makes you somehow smarter than anyone who reads fiction.  Friends, check out the nonfiction shelves at your local bookstore.  It's not like comparing documentaries to sit-coms.  Today's nonfiction is very heavily based on celebrity books. I mean, Tila Tequila's biography is, yes, non-fiction.  But that does NOT make you smarter than if you came down off your misguided high horse and actually talked to me.


100% non-fiction
Oh, and BTW, I do write nonfiction.  Ever heard of "Not While I'm Chewing?"  All true stories and entertaining to boot.  I mean, no, it probably doesn't reach the world-educating level of the Justin Bieber autobiography (written when he was 16) or the brain enhancing self improvement literary contribution of Paris Hilton.  But I wrote it all by myself AND I promise you won't feel dirty after you've read it. I doubt Tila, Paris, or The Biebs can say the same thing.

I get asked a lot of questions about the publishing process, which is great. People seem interested in meeting an author, even if they would never read what I write.  (The best was this last week when a man and his wife and daughter stopped and he saw my romance novels and said, "well, you two will have to fill me in on those books."  I laughed. but my mom said, "Hey, you should read them It might get you going!"  MOM!!!!!!!!!!  The man laughed and said, "I'm not touching that!")  I love answering questions and after doing the craft fair/farmers market circuit for two years I honestly thought I'd been asked every question that could be asked of an author.

Until this past Saturday.

It was early, so not too crowded and this woman stops in front of our booth. Now, to explain our booth, my mom does framed pictures made of old costume jewelry.  Check her stuff out!  And I, of course, write books.  We have posters with our business names posted at our booth. She wears a tag that says, "ARTIST" and I wear one that says "AUTHOR."  My mom has her framed out on the table and I have my books on the table.


It's not like we're hiding anything or trying to be secretive about what we do.

But this woman...she stood about three feet from our booth and stared at us for a full two minutes.  I finally said, "Can I answer any questions?"

And that's when she laid it on me.:

"Oh, no.  I'm just trying to figure out...what's the theme of your booth?"

Well...I've never been asked that before.

Probably because it's such a...well I do hate to call real people dumb.  I mean, she seemed like a nice enough lady.  But still...what is the theme of my booth?

"She sells art made out of old jewelry,"  I reply, trying to keep my cool.  "And I sell books that I wrote."


"Oh," says she.  "So the theme of your booth is....?"

Really?  "The theme is books and art."

"Okay. Books and art." She nods as if I've just given her the answer to all of life's most difficult questions and then she walks away.

My mom and I looked at each other. I mean, what kind of reaction do you have when someone asks you what your Farmer's Market theme is?  WE PUT OUR WARES ON A TABLE IN FRONT OF YOU!

The point of this all is, my friends, (and I should just add this to my short list of life advice), think about what you're going to say when you are trying to tell someone why you aren't going to buy something from them.  I know in this big box world we're used to just walking out with out without buying something.  Big box stores are faceless (in spite of the dozens of people that work there) and we have no compunction to explain why we aren't spending our money.  But when we are face to face with the person who owns the store or made the art or wrote the book...we all have that horrible moment of verbal diarrhea.  And to that I say, STOP and THINK.

Because hey, if you ponder what the words coming out of your face might sound like to another human, maybe, just maybe, you will avoid getting put in my blog.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Wait...Bath and Body Works...you want a tip for WHAT?

Good afternoon all!

I am a big fan of Bath and Body works hand soap. BIG FAN.  But you know how those pump soaps work when you get down to the bottom of the bottle and there's like half an inch of soap in there but it won't come out?

In the past, I would add a little water, shake it up and it worked fine.  Except for Hubby...who, inexplicably, would spray himself in the crotch every time with the soap/water mixture.  (I haven't a clue how he managed it, but it was like clockwork.  Five minutes after I added water, I'd hear him yell and stomp out of the bathroom to go change him pants.)

After doing this a few times, Hubby made me a deal:  If I NEVER added water to the soap bottles again, he'd buy me 1000 bottles of the soap.

Now, we have a joint checking account where all of our money goes, so really, there was no way to track if his money was buying my soap, but whatever.


That was a couple years ago.  At last count I'd purchased something like 55 bottles of the stuff.  My favorite place to stop is at the outlet store in Johnson Creek.    It's an easy on/easy off the freeway and it's on my way to and from my friend Marie's place in Madison, so when I go to her house I usually stop to restock.

Well, we were running low and I had no plans to see Marie any time super soon, so Hubby and I drove out to Johnson Creek for a day of shopping for soap.

Now, normally I run in and out because everything in the outlet store is clearly marked with giant signs. Oh, and I only buy one product, the hand soap, so it's not like I'm going to browse.

I was met at the door by a woman named Jenny.  Jenny was super perky and told me all about where everything was (which I knew since it was all clearly marked.)  What Jenny did NOT do, was hand me a shopping bag. Instead, she blocked my path to the shopping bags and I had to walk around her after listening to her entirely-too-long speech about specials.  (which were, again, clearly marked with giant signs all over every table.)

I filled my bag (believe me, it was full.  And heavy.)  I was about to make my way to the front to purchase my 17 bottles of soap when Jenny jumped in my path again.  "Do you need anything or do you have any questions?"

Yeah, one question:  Why are you standing in my way when all I want to do is put this massively heavy bag of soap on a counter and pay for it?

I noticed a sign next to several of the scents of soap I'd purchased that said, "Buy 3 get 3 free."  Well I had six of those bottles in my bag, and since Jenny was clearly not going to move, I said, "Does that special pertain to the soap it's sitting next to?"

"No." she said.  "It's just for the personal scents."

For the record, there were probably five shelves of soap on that table and exactly four bottles of personal scent.  But whatever.

"Okay then I'm good."  

Jenny moved out of my way and I dragged my cache to the front.  The cashier there went through the 87 questions they seem to always ask.  (By the time they're done, all I want to do is yell, "JUST LET ME PAY FOR MY CRAP AND LEAVE."

No, I don't want a credit card, yes I get your emails, yes this is my zip code....

Then the woman says, "Did someone help you today?"

Well, I'm not sure if blocking my path to the two places I really needed to go is what you'd consider help....but okay, I'll bite.  "Yes, Jenny."

"Okay, well, your total is $43 with the coupon. Now if you'd like to add a tip to that, you can right there on the screen."

Let's pause for a moment.

Do I want to leave a tip?


FOR WHAT?

Is this something new?  Are we leaving tips for random retail people now?  I mean, it's not 
like I'm in some shop on Rodeo Drive.  I don't shop retail stores where people work on commission. I'm too poor for that.

I tip my servers, I tip my hair dresser. I tip the mailman.  I've given gifts to teachers and all kinds of people as a way of thanking them for a good job done.  I am a decent tipper, I generally tip between 20 and 25%.  I'm not saying that to brag, but I think when someone does something for me that I can't or won't do for myself, they deserve a proper tip.  I enjoy tipping when it's warranted.

 But friends, I was GOBSMACKED when I asked to tip someone who had impeded my shopping experience and had answered exactly one question.  Seriously, I did more work than Jenny did to make sure I had what I wanted.  

I'm sure Jenny is a very nice person.  I'm sure she's good at her job.  And I agree, wages should be raised as a general practice. But tipping for your basic every day retail associate who says hello to you?  (Oh lord, is this why everyone at Kohl's is suddenly all on me?)

Kids, if this going to sound mean, but is how retail is going it's just making Amazon look better and better all the time!  (Those drones NEVER ask for a tip!)


Monday, May 1, 2017

And ANOTHER thing about what's REALLY wrong in public restrooms.

Good afternoon!

There's been much ado of late about public restrooms:  Who can go in, who can't go in, when someone can or can't use them, who looks like what when they use which bathroom.

As I've mentioned in a previous blog "Here's what Should be Banned" there are a lot of things that need to be cleared up in public restrooms long before we worry about whether the 0.6% of US adults who are transgender are using the "right" restroom or not.  To whit: non-standard bathroom fixtures.

(That "To Whit" is just for Hubby...when you've been together as long as we have, you have a whole vault of little inside jokes.)

Anyway, where was I?  Oh, right, my newest rant about public restrooms.

My issues with public restrooms is well known.  But I believe now, with this blog, I am taking a step toward what I believe will cure what I see as a massive public health and safety issue. 

Think I'm wrong?  Ponder this:

Let's start with the stalls.  Some stalls are narrow.  Like, too narrow for a human person over the
age of seven to walk in, close the door, and turn around to sit.  Under my new rules for standardization, all stalls in all public restrooms will be the same size...large enough for ME in a winter coat, to walk in, remove said coat, close the door, and sit down.  I'm slightly larger than the average US woman, so that should be a good, or at least better fit, for most of the women in this country.  Of course, handicapped stalls wills still be larger, but now regular stalls will be large enough so that fluffy ladies like me won't be tempted to use the handicapped stalls.


Now about the flushing mechanism.
 (And this is a special issue I have)  Some have handles on the left. Some on the right. Some have buttons on the wall in back.  And some are automatic..(.which is a subsection of this topic and I'll address in a moment.)  Under my new standardization, ALL toilets will flush via a button on the wall...and it will be a LARGE CHROME BUTTON that is easily reachable whether the lady is sitting or standing.  Basically, this button is going to be the size of a piece of notebook paper so there's no uncomfortable shifting about trying to reach the button before you stand up.  (As well all know, standing up in a stall that's too small risks dragging clothing through toilet water, and...eww.)

As for automatic toilets, I would BAN THEM ALL.  Please.  Automatic toilets scare the crap out of little kids  (pun intended) unless they don't and then you have kids running in and out of stalls while mom's relieving herself and this drives up water usage and cost.  Also, automatic toilets don't work for crap.  (again, pun intended)  What do I mean?  Think about it:  How many times have you sat down to do your business and you get that mid business flush, splashing ice cold nasty toilet water all up in your parts.  And then when you are done,,, you can do all kinds of motions and rain dances and the thing won't flush so you wind up doing what?  Pushing the button!  Yes, automatic toilets...out!


Which brings me to the sink area.  In my experience the sink area is the ONLY place where any semblance of standardization exists.  To whit:  (LOL HUBBY) the water from the faucets is ALWAYS ICE COLD and the sink area is ALWAYS PUDDLED AND WET.

Nice.

The sink area is a minefield of non standardization.  Are the faucets automatic or do you have to turn on the water yourself?  Are they motion sensored, or do you touch the bottom of the faucet?  Same questions for the soap dispenser, only add the following:  Is there a soap dispenser by every sink, or are they all mounted to the wall on either end of the mirrors so that the people using the middle sinks have to drip across other sinks to get soap?

Let me solve this for everyone:  automatic faucets and automatic soap dispensers at every sink. Oh, and they MUST be motion sensored but sensitive so that no one has to do a Mayan fertility dance to get the water to turn on. And all water faucets much be set to "reasonably warm."

What?  We can't do that?  WE PUT A MAN ON THE MOON.  WE CAN SET WATER FAUCETS TO REASONABLY WARM.

While automatic toilets are terrible, automatic sinks and soap dispensers work mostly because people are pretty much negligent when it comes to turning off the water or using a proper amount of soap.  Think about your kids...how often have you walked into the bathroom and it's crusted with hand soap because there isn't a child in the world who gets just how much is enough when it comes to pump soap?  (Whether or not any of it gets on their hands is another issue.)  the same goes for public bathrooms.  I've slipped in more than on soap slick on the floor  (Because some bathrooms think it's a good idea to have the soap pump mounted over the floor rather than the counter.)

Sink and soap...done. What's left?  Hand drying.

Hand drying is what started this all.  I was in a restroom at Panera recently  (and they have decent restrooms) and I had two options for hand drying.  I'm old school. I prefer paper towel.  But paper towel of late has become a tricky thing to use in restrooms.  There are several options, should an establishment offer towel at all.

1)  Pull with one hand.

2)  Pull with two hands.

3)  Motion sensored. (Which gives you about four inches of paper.)

4) pile of towels set in a decorative basket on the counter.  (Which is always a little moist because people splash and drag wet hands across the whole pile. So...ew.)

Do you see the nonsense?  At this point you must agree with me that bathrooms need to be standardized because we've gotten to the point where you need an operations manual for every public restroom.  And I'm not done!

I like paper towel and I like the motion sensored option.  But it needs to spew out at least 8 inches of paper. Otherwise, we're back to that Mayan dance.

Now, for those places who are all ecological and want to save trees, but don't care a bit about electricity, we have several options for hand drying.

1)  Push the button and wave your hand under the nozzle. Repeat the process until your hands are dry or you give up and wipe your hands on your pants.
2)  Motion sensored, wave your hand until it starts and then keep waving until your hands are dry.
3)  The Dyson thing where you stick your hands in and dry it...like the last blower thing at a car wash.

This last option seems like the best, right?  But then I bring you back to the mom who is in a stall and lets her little angels treat the restroom like Disneyland.  The Dyson is the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride of the restroom.

What's the answer here? In my world of standardization it would be the Dyson thing, because unlike previous attempts at electric driers blow (I'm on a roll with the puns) BUT I would put some kind of sensor in there so little hands can't turn them on willy nilly.  For the wee ones, it's motion sensored towel, set high enough so that when the restroom becomes Romper Room they can't activate the towel.

But the biggest issue in restrooms is the wet counters, and how on EARTH can we fix that?

Simple.

I've spent some time studying other industries and I believe I've got two ideas that would work.  

1)  Bar counter top with a drain beneath.

Picture this:  A counter top that's made of bars, rather like a roller table, but the bars are stationary and there's a catch sink beneath.

Why this works:  Granted, you're not going to be able to put small things on the counter, they'll fall into the catch sink. But you'll cut down on the need for paper towel and your purse won't get icky wet.

2)  Reversible scrubby/sponge counter top.

Picture this:  A counter similar to those kitchen scrubbies.   Tight, but soft, plastic mesh, Washable, reversible.  Different colors on either side so it gets flipped one time in a day and then washed.  Would sit in a form fitting sort of basin.

Why it works: While not as solid as a typical counter top, this would still wick away excess water and the ability to keep it clean is much easier.  Also, we'd have to make these things (job creation) and they would have  limited use (more job creation) but the cost of replacing is much lower than replacing a full counter.  Could also double as a diaper changing station if space is cramped.

And speaking of diaper changing stations....

They should not be in any one's bathroom, male or female.  This should be a separate room of several diaper stations.  Family restrooms are a good start, but I'd like to see diaper changing places removed from regular public restrooms and put in a specific use room.  Why?  Because then it won't slow down anyone needing to use the handicapped stall (many places stick the diaper station in the handicapped stall) or the flow in and out of the restroom itself.  If a business is pinched for space, then they can take out a stall in the ladies or ALL the urinals in the men's (because urinals...ew. I used to clean them and...ew.) and make a small room for this use.

Now, call me crazy, because many have, but I'm on to something and you know it.  The restroom is, without question, where the most germs lie, and it's a room we all need to use at one time or another.  Why make the experience more difficult than it has to be?

But Sarah...you say...standardizing all the public restrooms in this country would be expensive to businesses.  

No, says I.  See, I know there's all kinds of money floating around Washington.  We taxpayers keep paying taxes and the money just floats away.  I propose the following:  Cut the wages of Congress.  Seriously...cut them.  Like to minimum wage.  (Two birds here, one stone.)  Make them try to live on what the rest of us have to and also, since they only want to SERVE US, they don't need to take home millions of taxpayer dollars in cash and benefits. Oh yeah, and they have to live under the same health plan we all do. No platinum plan on the taxpayer's dime, nope.

Once we cut Congress's wages and benefits, believe me, there will be enough money there to hire a crap ton  (another pun) of people to train as plumbers, electricians, and remodelers, and get this job done!

And then we wouldn't need signs like this:





Or this:




And then maybe, just maybe, once we've made public restrooms less difficult and disgusting for EVERYONE, then we'll have also figured out how to make sure EVERYONE can use them without needing an act of Congress.  (Because, you know, now that they'll be making Minimum Wage, they're going to want to work over time...and we just can't have that.)

We now know what Hubby does NOT have in his pants.

Good morning! So last weekend Hubby and I joined my parents, brother, and my brother's kids on a trek to Kentucky to see the Crea...