Friday, July 29, 2016

Hi, Neighbor!

I was leaving the grocery store today and I ran into a neighbor. From when I was a kid in the suburbs of Atlanta.

Weird, huh? Not really. I knew she lived here, I saw her and spoke at the airport a few years ago. She clearly didn't remember that. She has three kids under the age of 10 so, she gets a pass.

She is a few years older than me. Her sister is my age. Almost exactly, in fact. She's four days younger. The woman I ran into, we'll call her Summer, was always kind of aloof. So was her sister (my classmate) Autumn. For a long time, Autumn would say snarky things to me as I got off the bus in middle school. These exaggerated phony goodbyes that made me feel about 3 inches tall. I remember being in a permanent stage of cringe.

By high school, the pond was so big we never saw each other, but in the back of my mind, she remained my arch-nemesis.  Then I saw her at my 20th Reunion and she was sweet and charming and hugged me. So, I got over it.

Anyway.  Back to today in the store. Summer asked me how my parents were. I told her that Dad had died 2 years ago, but Mom was still living in the neighborhood.

I don't sugarcoat. I say dead rather than deceased. I surely don't say passed, or passed away or passed on. Dead.

Anyway, that happened. And it was weird, but kind of cool. It's a small world.

Tomorrow we are going to the lake with friends. Then I get back on the road.

The more things change, etc.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016


So, the Democratic National Convention has been going on this week.

We have tried to limit our time watching it, but there have been some great speakers.

The one that has stuck with me is Cory Booker's.  He's a democratic senator from New Jersey, and if you can believe the pundits, his time to run for President is coming.

History has its eyes on you.

Anyway, here's a passage from the transcript of his speech:

Our nation wasn’t founded because we all look alike or prayed alike or descended from the same family tree. But our founders, in their genius, in this, the oldest constitutional democracy on the planet Earth, they put forth the idea that all are created equal, that we have inalienable rights.
And I’m so proud that upon this faithful foundation that we built a great nation. And today, no matter who you are — rich or poor, Asian or white, man or woman, gay or straight, any religion or none at all — you are entitled to the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

The highlight is mine.

I've mentioned on here before, with some hesitation, my beliefs.  I do believe there is something out there bigger than us - gravity, the wind - I don't know.  But I don't believe there's an omnipotent being out there playing a cosmic Parcheesi with our lives.

But when you live in the South, as I have my entire life, you start to think that maybe you're just crazy for not believing in the Holy Trinity, or an Immaculate Conception, or Vacation Bible School. 

Being a non-believer in the South isn't easy.  People offer to take you to their church, which is different than every other church everyone else has offered to take you to.  I've tried a wide variety, and none of them are right for me.  They're mostly super nice with good music and a boring sermon. 

I don't know if this is the first such reference to Atheism/Agnosticism in a convention, but it was nice.

And here's the thing - just because organized religion isn't my thing, I like it when others live their truth whatever their truth is.  And so the next day, Cory Booker, a Baptist, responded to some of Donald Trump's vitriolic, cryptic anti-Cory tweets by telling The Donald that he loved him and would pray for him. I thought that was kind of great. 

And that's what I love about this country.

That and Michelle Obama.


 The woman is flawless.

And Bill Clinton.

Aw, I've missed your little thumbs-up!

Who is deeply flawed, but I love him, too.

Look, isn't that kind of the point?  There's room for all of us - the Godless and the God-Fearing, Black and Whites, Men and Women, Scoundrels and Saints.

To quote Lin-Manuel Miranda, "Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now".

That's it from me, for now.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Shopping Trippy

I actually really enjoy grocery shopping. 

I shop different stores for different reasons.

Aldi, for example is best for meats, produce and these huge bins of nuts:

Just like these, only unsalted, and not sideways

They're also great because you can bag your own groceries just exactly like you want them.  They also occasionally have weird, wonderful German foods because they are a German company.  My mother would point out that they have cheap pumpkins in October.

Walmart is best if you need cleaning supplies, kitchen gadgets or assorted hardware - light bulbs, etc.  This is also a good choice if you need shampoo, aspirin, underwear.  Not foodstuffs, per se, but it's handy.  Pet stuff here is cheap.

Costco is great if you want to eat samples or get a huge slab of pizza on the way out.  Or, if, like us, you want to buy a container of soy sauce the week after you get married, and now you've been married almost eleven years and you're still working off the original container.  Fact - soy sauce apparently never goes bad.

Trader Joe's is the best for flowers, greeting cards, smoked gouda, and the foods you can only get there - their specific marinara, chile lime chicken burgers, etc.  Also, they have the best customer service, and basically, anything they're sampling that day, I buy.  Damn you Trader Joe and your bright, shiny store!!!  Interesting side note - here in Tennessee they've just allowed wine in grocery stores, which means that now, our TJ has a wine section.  Which means less space for groceries.  So far, I haven't noticed anything gone missing, but they better watch their back.  Christmas at TJ's is the best.  Chocolate covered peppermint Joe Joes (like Oreos) have an addictive quality.

Plus, I get my Dr. Bronner's soap here, and lavender dryer sachets.  Can you tell I love Trader Joe's?

Whole Foods is good if you want a cookie or their hot food bar, or their olive oil.  My husband did some research and found that much of the stuff in the US being sold as olive oil isn't 100% from olives.  But the stuff from Whole Foods is apparently, so there we go.  I don't shop much at Whole Foods because it's expensive and inconvenient, but I cannot tell a lie, their hot food bar is off the hook, and every now and then I'll buy a ready-made lasagna. 

Publix has the best bakery.  And the best deli.  Their fried chicken never fails to please.  And I know a lot of people who agree.  Even the best southern cooks among my friends default to Publix's fried chicken.  Their meat and produce are pricey, but excellent.  Typically, though - if I'm at Publix it's for cake, subs or chicken.  Although, not all three at the same time.  Usually.  I was doing some light grieving once and needed sustenance - I got a cake and some fried chicken and it was fabulous.

And finally...

Kroger.  I have been shopping at Kroger since I can remember.  As a kid, there was also Food Giant and Big Star, but from about age six, on, Kroger was the mainstay.   The thing they do better than every other store on this list is their store brand.  Generic pantry items - soup, crackers, whatever - it's solid.  Their produce is fine, same with their meat.  Their bakery is weak, their deli is weak.  But I still do 80% of my shopping here because it's close, and it has enough of the basics to work for me.

I'm sorry you had to read that.

Be glad I didn't start extolling the virtues of Hyper-U and Monoprix in France.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Cousin Rivalry

Let me tell you about Walter. 

My father and Aunt Mary had a cousin named Walter - he was the oldest son of my grandmother's older sister. 

Since my grandmother didn't have kids and was a bit younger when Walter was born, he became something of a plaything to her.  And she always had a special bond with him.  More than with her own children, in some ways.

When my grandmother died, we were cleaning out her house, and it came to Dad and Mary's attention that she had a huge portrait of Walter in her bedroom, flanked by medium-sized one of Mary, and a small one of Dad.

This irritated Dad to no end.  And when we got home, we found Mary had put the portrait in the trunk of Dad's car as a parting gift.

Game on.  A month later, he wrapped it and gave it to her for Christmas.  The following year, he received it in a bigger, gaudier frame.  The next year, Dad had a copy of the picture made into a jigsaw puzzle and put it into a candy box.

The following fall, Mary called to see if I could lay hands on a copy of the photo while my parents were out of town, as she had plans for our Christmas party.  I said sure, and promised I wouldn't tell them.

But of course I did - I said, "I don't know what she's planning, but I have an idea..."

We had t-shirts made with his picture.  Matt and I wanted "Walter Is The Reason for the Season".  Dad vetoed that, and they read "Fa La La La La, La La La Walter".

Seen here at Zumba

We wore them to the party.  Once we arrived, we learned that Mary had made napkin rings, tree ornaments, and had frozen his image into an ice bucket used to house the aquavit.

The last time Walter made it into a celebration was my bridesmaids luncheon.  Mary hosted it, and the invitation included a thumbnail of the picture on the back of it.

Wedding Collage - look to the right of the flash.

When Dad died, I remember joking about whether Walter would make an appearance at the funeral... he didn't.

This past weekend, my oldest cousin got married, and Mom and I were discussing wedding presents - he and Michelle have both been married before, so no registry.  I suggested a large framed portrait of Walter, but we didn't have one...

So, at the wedding (which was 60s themed), after the dancing got started, my cousin presented the family with these:

The groom felt that the wedding needed a little Walter.  Goo Goo, G'Joob.

Walter, by the way, is still very much alive and living in Virginia (last I heard).  He has not been present at any of these proceedings, but my Aunt Mary tried to explain it to him, once.

Walter or no, it was  a lovely wedding:

Happie Hippies - Walter Not Included

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Grab a box of Kleenex

I'm one of those people that cries easily.  I figure it means my tear ducts and emotions are fully functional, so I embrace it. 

Here are a few things that are currently killing me:

Eric and Peety - Mutual Rescue - a man saves a dog saves a man.

This touched me to my core.  It will uplift you, too - I hope.

Stephen Colbert on how he met his wife.


He's just such a good guy.  And this story kind of proves that.  Unless you're Ann, in the story.  In which case... your loss.

The Broadway Community's rendition of What The Word Needs Now - to benefit Orlando.  

Because, duh, showtunes.

And finally - this one is old, but we started talking about it at work, I watched it again, and damn if I didn't cry just like every single other time.

My husband calls me out on this one, says it's a PR stunt - but it's a good one, and I weep anyway.

These are the good tears...


Monday, July 11, 2016

Bowl'd Over

We have these bowls that we registered for as part of our place settings when we got married.  I'll come back to that, but first, a slight detour.

Setting up a registry is one of the fun parts of wedding planning because it's one of the few times as an adult where you can make a list of things you want and explicitly ask people to buy them for you.

As an example, I wanted to register for this:

This is the Holy Grail of Wedding Presents - the KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer.   My husband balked because it is on the expensive side.  He said no one would buy that for us.  I said, "Stand back and watch."  He said, "Maybe someone on your side, someone who has money".

I got it at my Bridal Shower.  From his Aunt.  


Back to our bowls.

I decided we should get rid of over very serviceable sets of Corelle plates and get this great stuff from Crate and Barrel.  We especially love the bowls:

But they break, and chip, and although I have replaced a few of them over the years, the last time I broke one, I thought... it might be time to go back to Corelle.

And then Saturday, as I was meandering through the grocery store, I saw that they had the ones I wanted, and I bought six of them.

Corelle, by the way, is a laminated glass product that is nearly impossible to break.

So, that's what passes for excitement these days.

And I still love my stand mixer.

And you.  I love you.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Ce passe

I'm angry. No, really.

So, I'm sitting on an airplane that should have taken off three hours ago.

By all rights, I should be about 30 minutes from landing in Nashville.

Sort of.

In theory, I have a 7am flight tomorrow on Southwest. And if I were a smarter woman I would have just sucked it up, gotten a room at the Airport Hampton and stuck to that plan.

To be clear, I am not a smart woman. I wanted to go home. So I sprung for a cheap fare home on a different carrier. Which was delayed 20 minutes when I hit the gate.

And then it was delayed another hour.

And then, I got in line to rebook the connection I was going to miss.

And then we boarded the plane. And the later flight to the same destination boarded at the gate right next to ours.  And took off.

And we sat. While a storm rolled in.

And now we have been sitting for an hour.

I might not miss my connection, though... that airport is closed as well.

No good plan goes unpunished.

This job is killing me. Death by 1000 papercuts.

I should have been patient. If Neal Page in Planes, Trains and Automobiles hadn't tried to catch the doomed flight from New York to Chicago, he would have gotten home the next morning.  He wouldn't have had the adventure with Del Griffiths, but that isn't the point.

I would take a Xanax, but I need to keep my wits about me. And more importantly, they're in my checked bag, under the plane. The plane where I am being held hostage.

By American Airlines, who got a few hundred bucks from me because that is how badly I wanted to go home.

I realize that there are far, far worse things happening in the world, but I can't even go there.

As I said... I'm angry.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Cats and Kittens

So, as I mentioned my Mom was doing really well.

I wanted to show you a photo of my happy Mom and her reasonably happy youngest offspring.

Can't deny I'm her kid, can you?

Thankfully, I had no more dog amputation dreams last night.  Unfortunately, I didn't sleep all that well.  I had a hard time falling and staying asleep.  That happens when you drink too much iced tea with supper.  Of course, that being said, probably better to wake up than not.  Which reminds me of an old joke about the Native American who died after drinking a gallon of Earl Grey - he drowned in his own teepee.

Oh, what fun to have a juvenile sense of humor.

So, tomorrow is my last day on the road for a WHOLE WEEK.  I don't even know how to deal. I just need to get through it, and I think I can.

I'm ready to get home to my dog, her four legs, one tail and my husband. With all his limbs... although he shaved his head last weekend, so... the dog is the hairier terrier...

And with that.  I'm going to try and get some solid sleep tonight.  Apparently, my students tomorrow... will be a challenge.  And that's after two challenging days already.



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Bloggin' and Hoggin'

Here's an assortment of " what's up":

I woke up panicked at 5am from a dream where an escaped mental patient had cut off Piper's legs and tail. Surprisingly, dream interpretation websites haven't documented what this means.

My Mom is doing really well. At some point, I may expand on that, but the basic premise is that she's in a good place. And I'm happy.

I am working on attire for me and my husband for a wedding in a few weeks. Sixties themed. I note that photos from Woodstock feature lots of naked people. Just saying...

Cracker Barrel is my guiltiest guilty pleasure on the road.  Tonight I'm eating a chicken/broccoli/cheese dish. They take American Express, and they are always decent. Plus, I kill time in the gift shop.

I got a new pedi. Orange, to light a fire under me.
One more point about Cracker Barrel. Their cornbread doesn't have sugar.

I finally got to the Farmers Market on the 4th. I bought more than we needed. As usual.

On my flight last night, Center and Window started chatting (I'm Aisle). They kept congratulating themselves and each other about the good energy they were exuding. Window told Center all about her father's short illness before he died and how she was the executor of her ailing mother's estate and how good the care her Mom gets in Hospice is. I had PTSD listening to them. My energy was rotten. Oh well.

My sister sent me a photo of the from her neighborhood pool today. I responded in kind:

I need to work on my view. And my energy.

I am still coughing and my right ear is muffled. I am trying to let it just clear up, but I may end up asking one of these clinic people to write me a scrip for...whatever.

I have taken up space at the Cracker Barrel for too long.

Later, gators.