Friday, October 30, 2015

How About A Nice Halloween Ride

Press play...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Should Your Hairdresser Really Be Eating Mexican Food

Author's note: This is the first story I wrote about my hairdresser and my difficulties getting a good haircut. I've written another story but I want you to get caught up first.

I've mentioned a few times in the past about my difficulties getting a decent haircut. I've lived in Georgia for 25 years and I've never had a regular stylist--one who knew what I wanted without me--a complete idiot when it comes to such things--having to explain it all. Yes, I DO want my hair stylist to read my mind.

Anyhow, I've become friendly with the nice lady that works the drive-thru where I do my banking and I noticed that she had a sassy new haircut. "Who does your hair?" I asked.

"Well, he's a new guy at that Hollywood place right beside the Mexican restaurant. He's from California or somewhere, I have no idea how he made it all the way to North Georgia but he sure has my hair lookin' good, don't you think?"

"Yep, sure does. That's why I asked. I can't seem to get a good haircut in this town."
"Me either. Did you ever get that Edward Scissorshand lady up at that quick-cutting place?"

"Holy Crap! She 'bout took my ear off one day. I stopped going there after they scalped me on my birthday. I had to go to Savannah looking like a fresh-faced recruit headed for eight weeks of boot camp. A different lady cut it that time and she even admitted she cut it too short. I was so mad I made myself cry; I hate it when I do that."

"You poor thing. Well, check him out, just" I didn't hear the first part of what she said because another car had pulled up behind me so I drove off with a jovial wave of my hand...

...A few days later after another unsuccessful attempt at fixing my hair I decided to go to the Hollywood place and check out the guy from California. I was worried about having an appointment or having to wait a long time; I guess that's why I don't have a regular stylist because I don't like to do those things.

I walked into the salon, the music was pumping and the place was decked out with faux head models wearing every flavor and size of wig, hair extension and several headpieces that involved various fruits and feathers. MA Fat Woman--you ain't in North Georgia no more, I thought to myself. As I stood with mouth agape staring at one particular headpiece that seemed to sway with the rhythm of the music a snappily-dressed Hispanic man munching on tortilla chips came out from the back. "Hola', you like hair sculptures?" he said with a sweep of his hand.

"Uh, sure. That one seems to be moving, though," I said.

"Oh, yes, si! That is new design; very nice. You want? Good price!"

"You mean somebody's gonna pay to have you put that on their head? How much?"

"For you, cheap price. Only 75. Today is good day, too. We not so busy on Wednesday," he continued in his broken accent.

"You mean for $75, you'll attach a basket of fruit to my head and somehow get it to dance. It sounds like fun, but I was just looking for a haircut."

"Hehehehheh, oooohh, Chiquita, you make me laugh, not $75! It's $7500!
"Oh. Not to hurt your feelings or nothin', but I don't think ya'll is going to sell many of those in this town."

"What is ya'll? There is no one else, only me. I am Chucko Pedro Santa Rosa Hose Munoz from California."

"That's some name..."

"Gracias, but people call me..."

"Wait! I bet they call you Pedro?"

"No, Chica. But you are close. They call me 'P'."

"Well, that's some coincidence. I'm called 'G' and I'm from Ohio."

"Ah, Ha! High in the middle and round on both ends. You like Bengals? Carson Palmer was one of my first customers."

"What's that smell?" I asked...

...As Pedro launched into a full-blown Telenovela about the time he spent in California and the one that got away (a former Bengals quarterback) he escorted me over to his salon chair and offered me a seat. "You are lucky today, Chiquita. P normally has a three month waiting list. I am always free on Wednesday, but nobody ever wants to come in on that day."

"What's that smell?" I asked again.

P ignored my question, threw the smock over me, then twirled me a round with a flourish. "Hmmmm, what are we going to do with you?" he said more to himself than me. "You sure you don't want hair sculpture. I can make you look like Snooki."

"I'm a little too tall to be confused with Snooki, don't you think?"

"Oh, is she short? I was talking about her boobies. Bebe, you got the big D's like she does. You got the nice body, why you hide it under big t-shirts? Don't be afraid to let it all hang out? You wanna see my snake?"

Pedro continued to tilt my head from side to side murmuring to himself in Spanish. I was still in shock from the snake suggestion and my nose kept twitching from some smell that I couldn't quite identify. "Do you smell something?" I asked.

This question was asked to no one because P had slipped away into the back room and after a few minutes came out with a burrito in one hand and a roll of aluminum foil in the other. "We color!" he said as he took a large bite of the burrito and placed it on the stand.

As P continued to get the coloring equipment set up, the smell of the food started drifting toward me. It smelled just like the horrible stench that I had been smelling since I entered the salon. Could the smell from the burritos be drifting all the way from the back?

BBBBBBrrrrppppp, rip, ripp, pow "Perdone," I heard from the back...

As I sat slouching in the barber chair totally inundated with the toxic, but not quite deadly combinations of refried beans and coal-tar petroleum hair dye I heard another volley fired off near the vicinity of where I had last seen P.

Papappapow. Snap. "Ooooh!" Pedro exclaimed. "Perdone! Excuszi! My Gawd, P, what have you been eating?" he chuckled to himself.

I sat in stunned silence. What should I say? What could I say? Should I laugh it off? Should I ignore it? Pedro walked over with the coloring mixture, grabbed another bite of the burrito and began the task of wrapping my hair in foil and applying the goop. When in doubt, do nothing is a motto that had helped me in the past and that is what I did now; absolutely nothing. As Herr Shultz would say: I see NOTHING! I know NOTHING!

Soon my new hairdresser settled into a routine. While humming the Hispanic version of We Are The World to himself complete with dead-on impressions of the different voices...i.e...Bob Dylan, The Boss and Michael Jackson I soon found myself join in. "Oh, Chiquita, can you sing the girly voices for me? I didn't wear the tight pants I need to go high."

"Weeeeellllll, well, well, there's a choice we're making. We're saving our own lives." I sang in my best Cyndi Lauper voice while P chimed in with a silky falsetto that would have made Barry Gibb proud. PPPPPaaaappapp. Snap "Holy Crap, P! You're killing me with the gas!"

For a few moments as the green cloud spawned from P's flatulence floated around and fell down upon me I soon realized that what I was smelling was the end result of my hairdresser's Mexican food binge. I mean, really, should a hairdresser really be eating Mexican food? No wonder there wasn't anyone here today.

Before too long, P had finished wrapping and applying the color mixture and announced, "we wait", set the timer and said, "I'll be right back" and walked outside. I began to wonder if I might have made him mad because he seemed a bit subdued. As I worked my way through an out of date hair style magazine I was surprised to see Pedro walk back into the salon with an overflowing bag of what turned out to be more Mexican burritos. "Wednesday is all-you-can-eat burrito day," he said to my surprised look. "Would you like one?"

Oh, really! Now, everything made sense. No wonder nobody came on Wednesdays. Who could stand the stench? For the next hour or so as P finished up my new hairdo (which turned out great) we continued to chat and munch on our burritos and it wasn't too long before I felt a rumbling in my gut. Poot!

"Awwww, Chiquita! I like you a lot. There is nothing wrong with the passing of the gas. It is a natural thing. I told you, P lets everything hang out. I have something special for you. Do you want to see my snake?"

"Uhhh!" And just like that, Pedro whipped off his shirt and showed me the coiled cobra that adorned the full-length of his back. Now, I'm not really into snakes or tattoos but I knew when something needed to be said to acknowledge such a fine piece of work. "Cool beans!" is all I could muster.

"Oh, Bebe, thank you! There is no better honor than a 'cool beans'. Most people scream and hide their eyes when I offer to show them my snake. For you, half price on today's treatment and I'll schedule you for another Wednesday in three months for a touch up and more burritos."

"Uh, thanks!" (Hey, you can't turn down 50% off, especially in this economy.)

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Super Enthusiastic Wave

I almost had a wreck the other day.

Why? You might ask?

I was startled by an overly enthusiastic wave.

Yep, I almost ran off the road because someone waved at me. I'm not such an ogre that I don't get the occasional wave or even my favorite, the extended forefinger aimed in my direction. But this wave was different.

This wave involved at least two individuals in a silver soccer mom van. I couldn't tell what they looked like--I only saw long dark hair on one of them. The person driving the van laid on the horn with one hand and had the other hand waving as fast as she could. The passenger had everything she could possibly find waving in my direction.

As I became somewhat distracted by all of these shenanigans, I felt my eyes widen as our vehicles became dangerously close to one another. The wavers' eyes widened as well but it didn't deter the waving; only increased it, I think.

I gave the perfunctory wave as I passed them, silently glad that they hadn't run me off the road. Later that day, I recounted  the story to my mom:

Me: "Two ladies 'bout ran me off the road today."

Mom: "They did? Were you going too fast?"

Me: "Nope. They were waving and beeping so much at me that we almost ran into each other."

Mom: "Huh?" Did you know 'em?"

Me: "I haven't the foggiest idea..."

Mom: "Maybe they was just messing with you.  I do that all the time--wave at people real big and act like I know them. Makes people smile...."

Me:  "Do you run them off the road?"

Mom: "Only if they don't wave back!"

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Crumbly Biscuits

I'm a pretty easy going kinda girl but there are a few things that get on my nerves. One thing that I seem to be having difficulty with lately are biscuits. Not just any biscuits, but crumbly biscuits.

I'm not talking about the kind of biscuits that you make at home. You know, you smack the can against the counter or stick a knife into the can and wait on edge until it pops. Those biscuits aren't crumbly; they have too many artificial ingredients in them to fall apart.

I'm talking about fast food biscuits.

Most of the time, I eat fast food biscuits in the car. And no matter how many different ways I try holding it or arranging the wrapper or adding an extra napkin a large chunk of biscuit falls off, usually into my lap. I then end up doing the brush off or picking up tiny crumbs constantly looking down to find any leftovers and swerving all over the road.

What's really bad is if I am going to work and then I end up with a big grease spot. At least I know it's a grease spot. I've gotten looks before and I knew what they were thinking: That I somehow had gotten one of those wet-looking spots that men get when they hadn't utilized the old shake or tap method. Nasty!

One of the first things I need to do when getting out of the car is check myself for biscuit crumbs. The problem is that by the time I get to where I'm going I have forgotten all about it. I was made well aware of this fact not to long ago when I met mom for a shopping trip. As we were walking back to the car she commented, "You know ya got a big 'ol biscuit crumb sticking to your butt."

"Dang it! I hate crumbly biscuits. They get everywhere."

"I know," she said. "I've switched to wraps. They aren't crumbly, but I have a hard time keeping the egg from falling out. I still end up with a grease spot sometimes; make me look like I didn't do the old wave and shake, ha ha. You'd think they would be able to fix that problem?"

"Maybe no one ever complained about it?" I said.

"Yep, you're probably right. I wonder who we could call?"

Monday, October 19, 2015

Song Of The Moment

I'm sure this has happened to you on more than one occasion. I was getting out of the shower the other day and was suddenly hit with an overwhelming urge to sing.


Yes, sing. What was more surprising was the choice of songs. In my head for a second and out of my mouth the next: Thump, thump, thump, another one bites the dust. Hey, hey, another one bites the dust. And another one's gone, and another one's gone. Hey, we're gonna get you through; another one bites the dust. Thump, thump, thump...chicachicachica.

When I awakened from my trance I found myself playing air guitar with the towel and both of the cats puffed up and hiding in the corner.  I guess they don't like Queen. Or maybe it's my singing.

That got me to thinking about where had that song come from. I don't have any Queen records. Or cassettes. Or CDs. Or even on my iPod. Since I no longer commute on a daily basis, I seldom listen to the radio. Where had I picked up this song?

As the day continued on, I found myself randomly singing, "Thump, thump, thump, another one bites the dust." Was I trying to kill somebody and not know it?

The days wore on and I was almost worn out. I was SICK of the thumps and I didn't care who bit the dust. This song had definitely worn out its welcome; time to move on. Take a bow, Queen; the song is over!

A few more weeks passed, and finally, the thumps began to subside.  I was visiting with mom at her house and the television was going full-blast in the background. There's something about her television that's not quite right.  You can barely hear someone speaking during a show but when the commercial comes on, it almost blasts you into outer space.

Mom was in the laundry room folding some clothes when I overheard her singing, "Thinking about working up an appetite, looking forward to a little afternoon delight. Sky rockets in sight, afternoon delight." Afternoon Delight? That was almost as bad as my Queen song.

A few moments later, mom was walking back into the room when I heard the all to familiar thump, thump, thumps; they were loud but they weren't coming from me. It was coming from the television; it was a Target commercial. Light bulbs went off in my head--so, that's where the song had come from. "Wow! What's that noise?" mom asked.

"It's a commercial," I yelled back.

"I know that. But, what's the song?"

"It's Another One Bites The Dust by the group Queen," I replied.

"Oh, I like it. It's got a good beat to it," she said.  "Thump, thump, thump; another one bites the dust," she sang as she walked away.

I just shook my head. Good--now, maybe I'll stop singing it all the time.

Later, back at home, I was getting out of the shower, when out of nowhere I bellowed, "Sky rockets in flight; Afternoon delight."

Oh, crap! I've traded in the thumps for a little afternoon delight.

I wonder what's next?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What If I Don't Get In

I'll be honest; I'm already biting my nails, crossing everything that can be crossed and praying to every Saint, Deity and God that I have ever heard of in anticipation of what happens on December 1, 2015. No, the world isn't ending, but it may feel that way for some if they don't get in.

I know you're probably wondering what could make me and several other thousand writerly folks resort to such measures and it's quite simply the registration date for a writing workshop that takes place every two years.

But, this isn't any typical workshop. This is the Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop that takes place at University of Dayton, in Dayton, Ohio, every two years. It's the only workshop in the country devoted to humor and trust me when I say not getting into the workshop is no laughing matter for those that have attended in the past.

Teri Rizvi, Director Extraordinaire of the workshop has set up a Facebook page detailing when registration opens and encouraging past attendees to spread the word to other writers.

That's where the trouble started.

If we spread the word to other writers, won't that decrease my chances of getting in? I know everyone can't write humor--and that's a shame--because it's really hard to do. But this conference for humor writers is like an Ivy League school--it's really hard to get into and can definitely change your life--only it won't bust your wallet in the process.

A past attendee and my friend, Janine, voiced what everyone was thinking: "I'll be on a plane flying from Budapest to India when registration opens and I'm going to HAVE to beg someone to register for me. What if I don't get in?"

Another pal and past attendee, Mindy, says she now sets the alarm on registration day and missed out in '04 and '06 because she forgot when the date was.

I knew exactly how both of my friends felt. Mom and I were cruising down the Danube River when registration rolled around last time and my friend, Kathie, had to do the registering for me. (She did get the biggest and best souvenir.)

I won't be floating down the Danube this time, nor will I be way down yonder on the Chattahoochee--where it does get hotter than a hoochie coochie--no, I will be sitting at my desk, in my straight back chair watching the countdown clock that I have set up on my computer.

It's at 28 days and counting…

Not to be outdone by any of us is my friend, Pam, who has already made her hotel reservation. "If I'm not staying at the Marriott, I'm not going," she said. And in the next breath, "I hope I get in."

I do, too, Pam.

Because I've already made my hotel reservation, too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Got Gas...Revisited

****Read this story again before I post this year's story about my exchange with the gas company.****

Recently, a friend of mine was disgusted by the amount that she had to pay to purchase propane for her home in Virginia. I immediately knew how she felt because I have been battling with my propane provider for years and not just about price.

I thought I had already written about this crap but after checking back through the archives I only found a draft and not the actual finished piece. (Not sure why I never finished it.) Probably, because no one would actually believe it, I guess.

To keep it short and to the point, whatever could go wrong with ordering a tank of propane has gone wrong for me.

Here are a few examples:

I ordered gas and it never got delivered. (This happened three times.)

I left them a check taped to the inside of the lid of the tank but they wouldn't leave the gas because they couldn't find a check.

I ordered gas and they put it in the neighbor's tank.

They billed me for it and threatened to send it to collections before I could convince them about the mistake.

For over five years, they had one of the meanest customer service representatives that you could imagine. (She was finally fired.)

The new rep that replaced her listened to my stories of previous mishaps and assured me that those mistakes would never happen again. They had gone through several training classes and had a completely new staff. (She then used my account number for the lady that came in at the same time as me. Good thing I checked my receipt before I left. It took over 20 minutes of voiding and searching to get that mess straightened out.)

One could think that I was making all of this up because it all seems so impossible that the mistakes would keep happening. But, I'm not and it's always an adventure when I need to purchase fuel for my furnace. I do have to admit that the last three visits have been mishap free. (I guess that training paid off.)

Now, when I go I no longer begin my conversation with, "My name is Palmer and I've had some problems in the past." I just give my info and they ring me up.

Today was a little different. The woman that replaced the mean lady was there and had two new helpers. As I was waiting for one of the newbies to ring me up I mentioned about the price that Amerigas was charging my friend in Virginia which was $4.58 a gallon. My company is Heritage Propane and I was charged $2.29, which is substantially less. All three heads swiveled and looked at me when I mentioned the price and then they all looked at each other.

"I think they pay more up north and down in Florida," the lady I knew said.

"Yeah, I think you're right," another said. "It's probably because of the salaries; they make a lot more than we do."

Sounds reasonable to me.

The new lady rang up my purchase without any problems and I left them with a chipper "Goodbye and I hope to not see you again this year." We all laughed and I grabbed one of their 2015 calendars and headed out to the car.

Glancing down at the calendar I was surprised to see the Amerigas logo  on it. Oh, no, when did that happen?  My company was no longer small and independent. Maybe that was why the three women looked at me so funny when I mentioned the higher price up north.

I don't know, maybe the higher prices up north are paying for all of the training down here because it's been over two years since they messed up my account.

Good for me, but bad for my friend. On the bright side, I hear they are predicting a warmer and shorter winter for the northeast.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Recipes From My New Cookbook

I like unusual cookbooks and I picked this gem up at a yard sale a few weeks back. Glancing at the title before I bought it I didn't know if it had real recipes or was just a joke. I also wanted to find out if any of the foods that I liked to cook were inside. There's nothing quite like finding out you're white trash by the foods that you like to cook, and that somebody actually took the time to write it all down.

I've included a recipe from different sections of the cookbook:

Vegetables 'n Meats

Nobody's Corn Topper Casserole
1 pound can cut green beans, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pound can cream-style corn
4 tablespoons chopped onion
2 cups cubed cooked ham
3/4 cup Bisquick

Place beans in a 2-quart greased casserole, reserving a few for garnish. Sprinkle onion on top; spread with soup. Top with a layer of ham. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Combine, corn and biscuit mix. Spoon mixture on top of casserole. Bake for 20 minutes longer. Garnish with rest of beans.

Fish, Cooter 'n Shrimp

Clara Jane Vickar's Creamed Tuna Lunch
Brown 2 tablespoons of flour and 3 tablespoons of butter or oleo in a skillet. Add the tuna (big can is best) chunk style and 1 small container half-and-half or 2 cups of milk. Cook over low heat til thickened. Salt, pepper, and serve with toast or rice. Carnation evaporated milk is good in this, too.

Sandwiches 'n Eggs

Oozie's Okra Omelet
1 cup of fresh okra, cut in rounds
1/2 cup chopped scallions
6-7 eggs
1/3 cup of milk

Fry okra and onions in 2 tablespoons of bacon and grease or oil til onions are clear and okra is bright green. Remove okra and onions. Stir eggs into the skillet til they start thickening; then add okra and onions and work til done. 5-9 minutes. Serves 4 to 5. Best with cornbread.

Candies, Cakes, Cobbler 'n Cookies

Post Office Cookies
1 1/3 sticks oleo
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup flour (measure before sifting)
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon McCormick's vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten together

Cream oleo and sugar; add eggs and flour, vanilla and nuts. Cook in biscuit pan in a slow oven (250 degrees) about 40 minutes. When cold, cut in small pieces and roll in confectioner's powdered sugar.

Sweet Pones, Puddins 'n Pies

Sweet Tater Surprise
2 cups warm mashed sweet taters
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 whole egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crushed cornflakes

Combine warm taters with beaten egg, sugar, and salt. Form into balls with peanut butter inside each one. Roll in crushed cornflakes. Brown in oven at 375 degrees. Marshmallows can be used inside the balls with the peanut butter for a little extra treat.

Cornpones, Cornbreads, Biscuits 'n Rolls

Spoon Bread
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 1/2 teaspoons Calumet baking powder
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups of scalded milk

Mix cornmeal and salt. Add hot milk, and cook in double-boiler until thick and smooth, stirring it once in a while. Take it off the stove and cool it. Pour in well-beaten egg yolks, and fold in stiffly-beaten egg whites. Place in greased casserole, which has also had one tablespoon of melted fat. Bake in moderate oven, 375 degrees, for 35 minutes, or until firm and the crust is brown.

You should be able to serve a complete meal from the recipes above. Let me know how it turns out.

Are you white trash?

Or do you just cook like it!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Faux Southern Twang

Watching television these days is like trying to find a particular fish named Benny in the Pacific Ocean--a crap shoot at best. With choices like "The Real Housewives of I don't really care" and "It's another singing competition" and lest we forget "The dumber I sound and look the more the producers will try to make me look smart and educated" to my all time favorite "The ultimate survival show for people who are crazy enough to live where the rest of the 7 billion people on this planet would never dare to go."

Whew! A one time through my cable channel list and you find at least five choices each that are similar to the shows that I mentioned above.

Have they simply run out of ideas?

Or are there just too many channels?

I grew up in the 70s and had three channels to choose from: ABC, CBS and NBC. These stations all broadcast their signals from Cincinnati and we received the transmissions via a UHF antenna. There were other stations in the Cincy area but we didn't receive them because they were broadcast over the VHF spectrum and our antenna wasn't equipped to accept both signals. Many a time, I found myself outside in whatever weather conditions turning the 50-ft pole that held the antenna hoping for a clearer picture. During the week we only watched television to hear the weather forecast, hear what Walter Cronkite had to say and to watch Gunsmoke on Mondays and The Waltons on Thurdsays. Television was a luxury then, not the attention-grabbing, relationship-killing, mind-sucking and mindless sitting on the couch eating whatever you can find activity that so many of us enjoy today.

With all of the selections to choose from, I usually find myself watching a rerun of a sporting event from 1989 on ESPN Classic. I'm not really watching it but I have it on in the background as I waste more of my time cruising eBay, Twitter and Facebook. Occasionally, a program will come along that will grab and keep my attention for a few episodes....or until they start killing everyone off or there's a contract dispute. The best part about Friends and Seinfeld was that the original cast stuck together during low ratings, contract negotiations and television superstardom. Could you imagine someone other than Phoebe or Kramer in their respective ensembles?

The original CSI was one of the programs that I used to watch. Characters came and left; two additional shows were spinoffs and enjoyed their own successes. Ted Danson does a really good job playing the lead investigator and I found myself watching this past Sunday night. That's another thing--they change the time and night of your favorite program and you don't get the message. I thought the program had been taken off the air.

I was flipping through my channels hoping there might be something interesting on when I saw the promo for CSI and NCIS: New Orleans. Another eureka moment: Aha! I didn't know there was a third NCIS; it might be worth checking out.

I tuned in on Tuesday night and almost from the get go I was turned off.

WHY? Fake southern accents.

There, I said it. Yes, many southerners have a distinct drawl to their voice and are quite aware of it. Other southerners, such as yours truly, have migrated to the south and may have picked up a way of speaking that is different than how they were raised. I have incorporated "Y'all" into my  vocabulary with no problem but will occasionally throw out a "youze guys" just to confuse people.

In reality, most of the people down south don't speak with such a pronounced twang because a.) they've moved to the city from somewhere else or b.) no one can understand them and it's a perfect way to get teased mercilessly.

So why does Hollywood continue to perpetuate such a lie? I may be the only person that this bothers or I might not. Who knows? What I do know is that it bothers me enough to not pay attention to anything other than the fake accents during the show and that's reason enough to turn the channel.

If I need to hear a pronounced accent I can just crank my car, head on over to the 'Pig, grab myself a Coke and do some loafering.

Y'all get my drift...that's the real twang...and I'll see youze guys later.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Gravy, Grits And Sweet Tea--A Southerner's Tale Of Life On The Road

The travelers sat together at the long table and looked quietly at the plates being served.

No biscuits.

No grits.

And no gravy.

We all looked at each other; this wasn't something we were accustomed to.

Mom asked the one question we all were thinking. "You got any sweet tea?"

It was day eight of our trip up the East Coast and our taste buds were starting to show signs of withdrawal. Don't get me wrong, most of the food that we'd eaten was exceptional, save for that one order of belly clams I was encouraged to try on Martha's Vineyard. I like clams; or more accurately, I like clams that have been stripped of their bellies--something I like to call clam strips.

The withdrawal I'm speaking of isn't one that every American can understand. Only those living below the sweet tea line know that it's the icy cold and delectably sweet beverage that's a staple in nearly every southern household. We drink our sweet tea for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We drink it for weddings, funerals, and baptisms. And we really drink it when the hot, southern sun beats down on everything for ten months of the year and fries it all to a crisp.

And what's the perfect accompaniment to a glass of sweet tea? A hot, buttered biscuit smothered with gravy and a side of cheese grits.

We were now in week two of our withdrawal and the waitress looked at the long faces scattered around the table and replied, "Sorry, our tea is unsweetened, but we have plenty of artificial sweeteners."

"I'll just have water," most of us said, while the rest wanted coffee.

"Maybe, we'll stop at McDonalds for lunch?" Betty said. "We could get a sweet tea there."

"No, Mickey D's today," Christy said. "Our lunch is catered. I'm getting the Chicken Marsala."

"I thought today was the pork tenderloin or pasta primavera?" asked Brenda.

"What are they saying?" asked Marlena. "G.? What did they say? Were they talking about the grilled salmon? I'm pretty sure I ordered the salmon. I hope they don't put any sauce on it?"

"I hope I can have more than one slice of bread," said Mary. "Do they have a wheat shortage in New England or something?" she said with a loud, boisterous laugh.

At this remark the whole table erupted in laughter--not only were we short on biscuits, but we were short on bread, too. Every catered meal we'd had so far had only allotted one slice of bread or roll per person.

"Well, I guess since they aren't giving us any gravy, they aren't giving us any bread to sop it up with," said Lori.

"You're probably, right," I replied.

We all settled into our plates, each lost in our own thoughts. A few minutes passed when we heard a voice from the kitchen."Why didn't you tell me they were from the south?"

Breakfast was finished and we boarded the bus for a day of sightseeing and sailing around Boothbay Harbor, Maine. The next morning, our last before we started home, we were met at the door of the Cod's Head Fish House & BBQ by Brian, our cook from the previous morning. "I didn't have enough ingredients around to make biscuits, but I did make y'all some grits and gravy. I hope you like it."

You could feel the whole group smile as we walked in the door. Grits and gravy! At last!

I made my way to the serving line and was surprised when Brian handed me a plate of hash browns out from the kitchen. "Extra crispy and no onions; I try to remember what people like," he said.

Who cares about grits, gravy and sweet tea? This guy just made me fried potatoes without asking. AND without onions! "Bless your heart. I could just hug your neck," I said.

"My pleasure," he said. "I can't wait to read your book."

Now I really did want to hug his neck.

Then a voice from somewhere in the back of the line. "Hey, G? Ask him if he has any more toast? Mary wants another slice."

Monday, October 5, 2015

Top Ten Signs You Are Home From Vacation

After a nearly two week vacation up the East Coast I am happy to be home once again.

Sort of.

I got accustomed to certain things on the road and now that I'm home again, reality has sunk in that I'm no longer on holiday.

Here are my top ten signs that I'm definitely home from vacation:

10. No matter how long I stand in the kitchen with a plate in my hand a server is not going to bring me any food.

9. The milk in the fridge did indeed expire before the expiration date.

8. The bills did not pay themselves.

7. The yard is two feet high.

6. I have over 1500 hundred emails in my inbox, of which only two are worth reading.

5. I touched wood at the bottom of my underwear drawer--there ain't nothing else in there.

4. The cats ate the last can of food in the pantry--a can of tuna--because they've been out of food for three days.

3. The litter box changed itself.

2. It's been three days since I laughed so hard that I nearly wet my pants.

And the number one reason I can tell I am home from vacation: This is the first thing I've written in two weeks, but stay tuned because I've got a whole lot more to say.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Magazines Are Overwhelming Me Once Again

****After a summer of doing stuff other than reading my mail and a two-week vacation up the East Coast my stack of magazines has reached a new and higher level of teetering that, as of yet, has yet to tip over but I fear the next one placed on top will be the tipping point.****

Read on to see how it all started:

As many of you know, I tend to get real excited about something and then go way overboard with it. Whether it's discovering a new dish that I've eaten somewhere and then tried to replicate at home, over, and over and over again until I am completely sick of it. (The latest flavor of the month was a ham and cheddar potato casserole that I've eaten about six times in the last two weeks. Now, I don't even want to eat a potato, which for me is highly unusual.) Or, it could be reading about an event such as an upcoming 10K road race that I want to train for (Okay, maybe not), but you get the drift.

My obsession this time around is magazine subscriptions. It all started a few years ago when my niece sold subscriptions to raise money for her school. I purchased two or three like any good aunt would do and then got trapped. Yep, you know what happens when you get on some company's list: they send you solicitation after solicitation after solicitation and they won't stop. One day, I actually opened (my bad) a letter and read the offer: get two years of Vogue magazine for only $10. What a deal! I've never subscribed to it before, nor have I even looked at one, so why not try it? And that's what I did.

Well, that subscription led to more solicitations and now I have a stack of magazines approaching two feet high that I haven't even turned a page in. (I'm sure the publishers love me and I'm definitely sure the mailman doesn't.)

Anyhow, everything wasn't too bad until I got my Publisher's Clearing House official entry. I'm sure I read somewhere that a purchase isn't necessary to win but I also think I read somewhere else that making a purchase (buying magazines) might definitely help. And talk about deals: 2-for-1 deals, multi-year deals, buy a product and get a lifetime subscription. Man, my eyes had glazed over before I stopped pasting those little stickers to the official entry form--I don't know which magazines I selected, but I'm sure it was 4 or 5.

A few weeks later I received an invoice from Publisher's Clearing House and Vanity Fair on the same day. The bill from Publisher's was for $75-something and the Vanity Fair was for $16-something.

Hmm. Am I being double-billed?

Of course, I didn't write down the magazines that I bought from Publisher's Clearing House and I don't remember anything about Vanity Fair but that doesn't mean that I didn't. (My memory seems to be lost somewhere in the past these days.)

The invoice had an 800-number to call for any questions and after multiple prompts for passwords, credit card info, my shoe-size and my high school mascot's name I found myself talking to a live person.

I'm sure Publisher's Clearing House receives all sorts of weirdo and wacky phone calls and mine turned out to be no exception:

Publisher's Clearing House (PCH): "Hello, this is Ambrosia. How may I help you?"

MAFW: "Hey, I have a question about an invoice I received?"

PCH: "Okay, not a problem. Do you have the customer order number?"

MAFW: "Yes, it's 24567palm5671985."

PCH: "Could you repeat that, please? I'm showing one letter missing."

MAFW: "Uh, okay. it's 24567palme5671985."

PCH: "Okay, got it. Can you give me the last four digits of your credit card for verification?"

MAFW: "Hold on. I gotta go get it."

PCH: "That's fine, I'll wait."

MAFW: "It's 2837."

PCH: "Okay, got it. Now, could you please tell me your high school mascot for verification?"

MAFW: "Sure, it was a Green Devil."

PCH: "I'm sorry. That's not the information you entered onto your form for security purposes. Could it be something else?"

MAFW: "Hmm, not a Green Devil? Okay, try a Devilish Darling? And my shoe size is 10."

PCH: "Okay, that got it. I didn't need the shoe size, though." (No sense of humor.) "What can I help you with today?"

MAFW: "I received an invoice from you guys and I also received a bill from Vanity Fair. Am I being double-billed?"

PCH: "I'm sorry. I don't understand the question."

MAFW: "Why did you guys send me two separate bills? I thought I was supposed to pay directly to PCH and not worry about any other invoices."

PCH: "Ma'am, according to my records we only sent you one invoice and I don't know anything about the other bill?"

MAFW: "Uh, why not?"

PCH: "Why not, what?"

MAFW: "Why don't you know about the Vanity Fair bill?"

PCH: "Ma'am, Publisher's Clearing House doesn't offer that magazine."

MAFW: "Oh!"

PCH: "Anything else I can help you with? If not, thanks and I hope you win the million dollars!"

Me too, because at the rate I'm going, I'm gonna need a million bucks to pay for all of these magazines and a million hours to read them.


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