Category Archives: Friends

It’s Wine O’Clock Somewhere!

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It’s Wine O’Clock Somewhere!

It’s Wine O’Clock somewhere…or maybe it’s Weed O’Clock, Sex O’Clock, Sugar O’Clock, or some other O’Clock I have not yet imagined. Our collective casualness with dependency is adorable isn’t it? I mean we all need a little somethin’ somethin’ to get through the day, right? I may ruffle some feathers and bunch some panties with this post.

Perhaps I’m sensitive to the topic…after all I was raised by an alcoholic mother (you may now insert all of your preconceived notions about me into your brain) and found myself in rehab at age 15 (insert more of those notions) and I’ve been sober ever since (perhaps that one was unexpected). I have a good grip on the subject of alcoholism, mostly through sober observation. I’m way past the zealot phase of recovery and I have many friends that are social drinkers. I have not been hiding in a sober closet for the last 35 years. That said the “Mommy Juice” culture is getting out of hand.

I recently got invited to a breakfast with other parents who plan to celebrate the first day of school by day drinking the minute their precious kids get on the bus. Mimosas at the country deli, won’t that be fun! Look spiked orange juice, so clever. The festivities start at 7:30am, I’ll pass. I hope they have a designated driver, Uber is scarce in these parts. I wonder if these parents will still be lit later that day, driving through car line which is a cluster f*ck without inebriated drivers.

Do your teens and tweens see these pro drinking posts? Are you buying them beer so you can be the cool parent? When is enough enough or perhaps too much…what example are you setting for formative minds? I know I sound like a cranky Puritan. Truth is I’ve joked about alcohol myself especially when asked why I don’t drink. “My gene pool is polluted” is one of my usual snarky responses. It sounds cooler than the real explanation – I made bad decisions and put myself and others in harm’s way when I drank. And I do have a sense of humor (pinky promise). A few weeks ago I got a good friend a “Shut Up Liver, You’re Fine!” t-shirt to celebrate her birthday. Hmm, I may be part of the problem.

I think my breaking point was the purse that markets itself as a wine pouch. Let’s all hold hands and recite the Serenity Prayer for this gem –

Wine Purses

If you need a purse to carry your medicine water,  perhaps things have gotten a tad out of hand. Look at it this way – substitute green beans for wine, does the behavior still make sense? Are you stashing green beans in different areas of your house for a quick bite when no one is looking? Are you stuffing your face with them in the parking lot before walking into the board meeting, the presentation, the PTA gathering? Are you disappointed when your friends decline green beans because they just can’t take another bite and they need to drive home? Have you recently eaten too many green beans at a public event and struggled the next day with a hangover and the shame of not knowing what happened? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a problem with green beans. Just some food for thought.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Through agreement with 123RF Limited

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Observations from Down Under

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Observations from Down Under

Fresh off the plane from a trip to Australia. Well “fresh” may be the wrong description, zombie-like is more appropriate. We traveled as a group of 21 made up of five families including eight children ages 6 to 15. Our trip included several stops along the eastern coast of Australia. Here are some observations:

Jet lag is the devil

My body and brain are too tired to calculate the math to figure out what time zone my weary body thinks it is in. It is currently Thursday where I reside, it’s Friday in Australia. We traveled back to the states on a Monday which means we had two Mondays back-to-back. Mondays suck the first time around, they don’t improve with an instant repeat.

Jet Lag + PMS = Apocalyptic Meltdown. I’d rather not discuss how I acquired this knowledge.44724555_s.jpg

A jet-lagged version of myself with a touch of the Australian Plague. Sadly my hair did not look this good in Sydney, hard water.

Proper toilet use

Apparently there’s more than one way to use a toilet and it isn’t as intuitive as I thought. This was made clear by a consistent display of diagrams showing the dos and don’ts in female toilets across Eastern Australia. Oh and for those that are wondering about the circular direction of toilet water being flushed, the jury is still out. All of the toilets I encountered used a method of front & back water flushing action so the counter clockwise debate remains a mystery. For the record, the flush mechanism was superior to that in the USA.

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Two buttons give you the option for a moderate flush on the left or serious business on the right.

 

Baggage

We all have baggage issues. A few in our group got over zealous packing for the trip. I think one person had at least seven pairs of shoes and he had big feet. Big feet equals heavy shoes, that’s all I’m trying to imply. They were over the weight limit for every domestic flight we took and paid dearly for it $$$. I had another problem. My suitcase was intact when we flew from Sydney to the Gold Coast. Upon arrival, it looked like a dingo ate it.

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Exhibit A: A dingo leaving the scene of the crime.

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Exhibit B: My suitcase upon arrival.

Kangaroos & Koalas

Two images that come to mind when someone mentions Australia are kangaroos and koalas. I am happy to say we saw both in our travels. The good news/bad news on these creatures….

Good news – They are mostly docile and have soft fur. That said I didn’t encounter the “Big Red” variety of roo which I hear are quite intimidating. I met the soft, smallish, fluffy kangaroos that have been hand fed by humans their entire lives. These were more like pets than wild animals. They were free to roam around and eat as much kibble as their bellies could hold. When they grew tired of people they could hop back to the Kangaroo Rest Area where kangaroos could enter and people were forbidden. It was wildly popular with the roos.

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Feed me human.

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This is the roo hand signal for – “OH FFS human I can’t eat another bite.”

 

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Residents of the rest area. The ones in the back look shady to me.

I saw a kangaroo crossing sign along the side of the road. Sadly, I was not able to get a photo of it but I found a better one (note the skis) –

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Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_bennymarty’>bennymarty / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

The koalas were pretty mellow. They reminded me of Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones, they all looked really wasted. My kids each got to hold one and they said the koalas were softer than they expected. I’d post pictures but they’re teens so naturally they would kill me.

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Bad News –  The koala my son held pooped in his hand which explains the “dafuq” look on his face in the photo I can’t show you. Apparently that happens a lot. Our friend who planned the trip informed us that koalas do three things: eat, sh*t and shag. His greatest wish is to be reincarnated as a koala next go-round. If his wish is granted, he will likely have a raging case of chlamydia. All that shagging has it’s consequences and those furry sluts are not immune. Seriously, nearly all wild koalas have chlamydia.

More bad news…kangaroos are considered pests by some in Australia. In fact about a million of them are culled each year in an effort to slow crop damage and car accidents. I assume this is where some entrepreneurs get the kangaroo bits to sell to tourists. There were kangaroo balls and paws (which look remarkably like hands) for sale as souvenirs. Australia is deeply divided regarding this practice. I didn’t buy any of those items. Kangaroo also was featured on many restaurant menus and I was informed that it tasted like a beef steak.

The People

The people we encountered were great, all courteous and helpful. One bus driver in particular had a delightful sense of humor (Rated R). They all said perfect (pronounced PuuurFECT), superb and brilliant. They smiled when they spoke and made direct eye contact, it was refreshing.

When we got home my daughter discovered that she left a beloved stuffed animal behind. This bunny is dear to my daughter because it is wearing a bandana that belonged to her grandfather who passed away in May. We determined which location it was likely left at and I sent an email. Sure enough they found it. I even asked for a photo of the bunny to make sure it was the right one (proof of life) before I paid for shipping. They complied and I’m happy to say that bunny is home bound which is just puuurFECT.

 

 

 

 

The Badass & A ‘Fro Below

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The Badass & A ‘Fro Below

Last night I was at a book club meeting with some friends. I think we all know that “book club” is code for over indulging in food and adult beverages in the suburbs. I partook in the food and limited beverages to water because I prefer to chew my calories. I am sworn to secrecy regarding my companions (not really, no one got sloppy). I will say I ate a hamster’s weight in bacon wrapped dates and I regret nothing, N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

The book we were discussing was Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares by Sherry Stanfa-Stanley. FindingMyBadassSelf  I met Sherry at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Conference this past April and we hit it off. After the conference I contacted Sherry because I wanted to purchase 10 of her books. I turned the big ‘5-OH’ in June and I decided to give the books as a favor to the ladies who attended my birthday dinner. At that dinner a friend offered to host a book club to discuss it.

The book gave a description of Sherry’s experiences while ticking off an eclectic bucket list of things that pushed her out of her comfort zone. The tone of the book is friendly with a good amount of humor. It’s an interesting and fun read. I read the book in early May and one thing that stood out to me was the rhino situation. There are a few lines in the book that caught my attention (page 193 if you happen to have a copy):

(Sherry) “Oh! I think he’s going to pee!”

“Um, no,” Robin said. “See his equipment down there? This is similar to how we manually ejaculate him.”

I read that and I immediately had a stream of questions and thoughts. Here are some of them in no particular order:

Holy sh*t is this rhino getting happy endings as part of his care?

How often?

Is it always the same person or does this task get rotated? (and really which one is more disturbing; a rotating team of happy ending professionals or a single individual responsible for the “the job”? I’m still debating that. I’m leaning toward the one individual being worse because then it seems like an exclusive relationship, this bothers me. Is it consensual?)

Anyhow there were 52 unique and interesting experiences described in the book and this one was the one that haunted me. I may be a 12 year old boy trapped in the body of a midlife female.

Other topics carried over into things we had tried in our own life – one person jumped out of perfectly good airplanes several times (for fun, the weirdo). Others discussed being on nude beaches, eating in the dark, zip lines, sex shops (I told you it was a good book) and the “woes of waxing”.

I got a Brazilian wax once so I had some skin in the game on this one (wink for those that have experienced it). For the uninitiated, there is no amount of candle light, chanting monks and calming incense that can tame the horror of getting your lady bits waxed. Basically you are placed on a table with your legs pushed as close to your head as possible. The goal is to have your feet nestled beside your ears, easy peasy if you happen to be a double jointed acrobat, a ballerina or an expert level Yogi. Sadly I can not list any of those credentials on my resume.

I’m fairly bendy though so positioning was not the worst part. The worst part is having a Gyno light switched on while you are in that position and happen to be naked (or wearing a thong whose sole purpose is to help you pretend you have some modesty….insert maniacal laugh…you don’t, it’s all gone, it left with dignity.) Once the hospital-like floodlight is pointed toward your nether regions, a thin coat of hot (think lava) wax is applied to your most delicate areas – front to back. Then because that isn’t awful enough, tape is used to yank the wax and hair off (perhaps with some skin and 13% of your soul) At some point the technician will ask what your pruning preference is for the front of the house. The options range from geometric shapes to completely bald. I went with the landing strip option. A lightning bolt would have been cool sadly, I didn’t think of it until after and I never went back (that was 2007).

One of my friends who attended last night sent me a link to an article this morning which described a hairy situation. Apparently there is a feminist movement for growing out hair where in previous years the trends have been to shave or wax (down below, armpits, legs, anywhere). I replied with a big nope. Do what you want ladies, I’ll keep the ‘fro below to a crew cut.

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_bankjayphotto’>bankjayphotto / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

 

 

 

 

 

What’s in Your Wheelhouse?

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What’s in Your Wheelhouse?

Seems like everyone has a wheelhouse these days, a metaphor to describe their specific skill set. I hear the term from friends that are still slugging it out in corporate America. I used to have a wheelhouse filled with current technical skills, boundless energy and a can-do attitude. That was fourteen and a half years ago before I was laid off from my Project Manager position at a software firm (The Office Space movie really resonated with me). Those attributes have been replaced with an intense hatred of middle school car line, juggling of my family’s emotional, social & physical needs, my imagination’s ability to go DEFCON 3 if I can’t reach my kids and an abundance of resting bitch face. I’m running out of ducks (psst…spellcheck is a stupid duck).

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Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_hermandesign2015′>hermandesign2015 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Here’s a not-so-secret-secret, I’m nearing the mid century mark (audible gasp, I know I can’t believe it either). So I suppose it’s natural to take a moment and reflect on some shit stuff. I did the math and in dog years I’m coming up on the big 3-5-0…no wonder I’m tired.

As I’m sitting here trying to flesh out this post, I’m listening to my husband teach our daughter Algebra. I’d rather eat a flaming sword while my fingernails are pulled off with rusty pliers. I stopped helping my kids with homework somewhere around 5th grade. If anyone asks my reasoning is to “facilitate independence”, I think they’re on to me though. The truth is I can’t do half of it without screaming or crying, if only on the inside.

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They say (not sure who “they” are) with aging comes wisdom. Hmm, not sure about that one. I knew everything when I was 17, you couldn’t tell me otherwise. Now I hesitate a little more, consider the thoughts of others who may have a different point of view and sometimes I’m wrong. I try not to “jump to conclusions” (still with me Office Space fans) and I reserve the right to change my mind. Perhaps I’m maturing just a hair, must be the flair (sorry, apparently I have a theme now).

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I’ll tell you want else comes with this milestone birthday – yes and no. Yes to spending time, money and effort on the people, places and things that matter most. No to the activities that don’t bring joy or a sense of purpose. I recently resigned from a position on a non-profit. I’ll still help out, I just don’t want my name on the letterhead. My time suddenly seems more precious and I give careful consideration to how I spend it.

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What’s in your wheelhouse?

 

Buzz Kill

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Buzz Kill

Hi friends, it’s been a while since I checked in. My world got pretty small for a few weeks when my father in law was placed on hospice. The family took turns caring for him in his own home until he passed away last week. We’re all still licking our wounds over here, he was one of my favorite people. He was a quiet example of living a good life, I’ll miss his zen ways. I’ll be forever grateful for the “good man” example he set for his son and grandson.

In the meantime, life goes on. The sun still rises, work needs to be done and kids have to go to school. The laundry piles are smaller, we’re starting to eat dinner together again and a new normal is settling in. (Psst…the new normal sucks)

Throughout this past month there were moments of gratitude and humor. My closest friends were there for me. Two suits appeared for my son to borrow, a belt was brought to visitation when I forgot one. Recommendations were made for where to find shoes for my daughter and her exceptionally tiny feet. We received an orchid, a tomato plant and an olive tree from kind friends who knew the man we honored. Mass cards were given and basically people just showed up, let our dog out and let us know we are loved. You can’t ask for more than that. It’s been raining since we left him at the cemetery, even the weather recognizes our grief.

OK shaking off the sad for some humor now…pivot with me. One day while I was sitting with my father in law a wasp got in. I could hear the buzzing and identified the culprit. I went to search for an old fashioned fly swatter. I knew there would be one, everyone over 80 is required to own one. Sure enough I found it tucked away in the kitchen between a cabinet and the wall. I stepped into the living room armed with the fly swatter and a determination to eliminate the problem.

Sitting with someone who is dying has a way of making you realize how precious life is in all of it’s forms. That’s the only explanation I can come up with as to why I was determined to usher this wasp out a window and not just smash it. The invader was stuck between the wooden blinds and a window. I cracked open a neighboring window as the escape hatch, I just needed to get my new friend to fly out of it.

There was coaxing and loud noises as I tried to get the wasp out the window. I provided some commentary for my father in law who was pretty quiet at this point but he had a front row seat to this show so it was the polite thing to do. After several loud attempts, mild cursing and antics that had a tinge of Lucille Ball, the wasp finally flew out the window. I was pretty proud of myself for dealing with the problem in a humane way.

A few hours later, the hospice nurse and my husband were both over and another wasp was in the house. At least I think it was another wasp, could’ve been the one I freed earlier getting in through some secret wasp back door. This one was really annoying doing fly-bys as we were discussing medication. This asshole had to be exterminated. I got the fly swatter again and got him mid flight, it was spectacular. I picked it up with a napkin and disposed of it in the garbage.

Another two hours tick by and son-of-a-b*tch there was a third wasp. I texted my husband thinking maybe we have a nest. We had a text exchange about it –

Me: I just killed another wasp. Three of the mofos got it in today.

Hubs: Are you sure the third one isn’t the second one? Unfurl the napkin in the garbage can to be sure.

Me: Hell no I’m not unfurling napkins to see if your wasp is the Jesus of the wasp world rising after death…I will seal the garbage bag and take it outside like a normal person.

I managed to get the third (or perhaps it was the first or second, I didn’t check the napkin) wasp out the front door. Never to return.

 

Graphic Credit: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_derocz’>derocz / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

 

 

I Might Be Terrible

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I Might Be Terrible

I’ve been doing cringe worthy crap my entire life. This week has been off the chart, here’s a recap:

Last night I was in a doctor’s office with my daughter. She needed to get an X-ray. I saw a close friend with her daughter also waiting for an appointment. Instead of just saying hi like a normal person. I go over and say “What are you in for?” because people love to announce their private medical concerns in a crowded waiting room. I might be terrible.

One evening at bedtime my daughter mentioned that she has fears of someone breaking in and killing everyone. She asked if I would run in and rescue her. I said, “Hell no, I’ll be running for my life. You’re smallish, hide in a closet, play possum, figure it out.” Now I’m wondering if we should just put her college fund toward therapy. Probably terrible.

A dear friend has been dealing with a kid with a foot injury. Her kid is pretty delicate so the pain tolerance level is – butterfly kisses chafe. One morning this week she was trapped in bed with her tween, afraid of waking her daughter if she moved. I don’t know how long she was pinned, arm going numb as her bladder begged to be emptied. Most parents have been held hostage in this way – desperate to escape, afraid to rouse the sleeping child.

The injury happened over the weekend and the effects lingered for several days. She kept her daughter home from school on Monday, concerned that she wouldn’t be able to use the bathroom without assistance. Later that day she sent me a picture of the balloon animals they made out of an excess of desperate boredom. I texted her…If your kid can make a G-D balloon dog she can pull up elastic pants, that’s all I’m sayin’. My friend insisted the issue was with putting weight on her injured foot, but still…moderately terrible.

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This is the balloon animal my friend made. It appears to have some kind of balloon animal medical issue. I don’t know what it is exactly but my visceral reaction is concern for the balloon and my friend.

I was assisting an 80 year old client with bathing this week. Three minutes into the bath she mentioned that she felt an urge to go. I may have said “please don’t sh*t in the tub” repeatedly under my breath. She has really good hearing. Sh*t in the tub is a horror show so, probably not so terrible.

This weekend I accidentally took my son’s phone. Not too terrible, EXCEPT when he suggested that I might have accidentally picked it up and I immediately dismissed the idea. In fact my husband and I thought that perhaps our son was scared that he lost the phone and was desperate for a scapegoat. Then my husband and son searched the path of a walk they took the prior evening (the search took place in cold, rainy conditions because of course it did). Approximately an hour later the phone was found in my car. Clearly my son’s suspicions were proved correct. Moderately terrible, I apologized.

I was catching up with some volunteer work the other day. To be honest, I’ve wanted to “retire” from this particular project but the benefits are so good it’s hard to walk away. That’s a joke the benefits are a significant loss of personal time, a severe lack of appreciation and agita. I was emailing another volunteer and she was getting a bit testy with me. I decided to use the exchange as a writing prompt and somehow managed to send her a text with my observations which I intended to flesh out into a fictitious blog post. Bottom line is I hurt the other person’s feelings. So I’m terrible AND an idiot. I apologized, definitely terrible.

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From this day forward, all the sh*t that goes sideways will be known as a writing prompt. What terrible cringey things have you done this week?

I leave you with this gem – How to Make a Balloon Poop Emoji –

 

 

 

 

 

A Peek at Dementia

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A Peek at Dementia

Her mind is a jumble of thoughts that misfire and get hung up midway. She’ll start a task and forget what she was doing somewhere in the process. The other day I came in and she had all the ingredients spread out on the counter, she just didn’t have any idea how to put them together. She wanted to make a sandwich for her husband of 67 years. She’s probably made a thousand over the course of their marriage, this day the how-to’s of assembly escaped her.

She’s highly sensitive, aware of changes in the moods of those around her. Her feelings are easily hurt and she isn’t shy about expressing herself. I visit with her several times a week including one evening when the goal is to get her fed and dressed for bed. Getting dressed is a long process. It’s a series of repetitive steps that have to be done in a certain order. She can usually stay on task but there have been exceptions.

One day last week she insisted that she had to take her pants off over her sneakers. I had to explain why that would not work, she remained stubborn about it. Then it clicked for me, she must have been afraid of something. Fear is usually the root cause of her resistance. Earlier that week, her husband commented that he couldn’t tie her shoes any more, he was physically not able to do it. This is why she wanted to take her pants off over her sneakers, she was afraid of being shoe-less. Once I explained that I would put her sneakers back on, she complied.

She has dementia, a moderate case. The thing about dementia is that it only gets worse, never better. Sure there are days when she is more lucid but her baseline status will only descend from here. Any major change such as the death of her husband or a move at this stage will hasten the spiral and she’s one of the lucky ones.

Her family is engaged and loving. She sees a relative at least five times a week and speaks with them a minimum of three times a day for medication reminders. Companions like me visit her each weekday. She has a small army of compassionate caregivers and she still lives with her husband. There are millions of people facing this condition without these benefits, what will happen to them?

https://www.dementiasociety.org/

It’s estimated that 9 million Americans are living with some form of dementia. They don’t all have the financial and familial resources to remain safe and comfortable. Families are stretched thin trying to triage caregiving while managing their own lives including; children, careers, personal illnesses and a home.

https://www.alz.org/facts/

This situation will overwhelm our healthcare system within the next decade and beyond. Dementia, including Alzheimer’s, effects one in nine people after age 65 and that rate increases with age. People 85 and older have somewhere between a 30 – 50% chance of acquiring some form of dementia. This condition is impacting more people as life expectancy increases.

What can you do to prepare for this? I suggest having direct conversations with aging loved ones while they are well. Discuss specifics of financial resources, care preferences and have an Advanced Medical Directive and a Will. All adults should have these preferences documented.

https://www.medicinenet.com/advance_medical_directives/article.htm#advance_medical_directive_facts

If someone has been diagnosed, you may want to tour some facilities that specialize or have a wing dedicated to memory care. If you have a male loved that will need these services, get them on a waiting list as soon as it is reasonable. Many facilities have beds that are assigned male or female. Since women tend to outlive men, they have historically had more beds available to them. It can take years for a male patient to get into his desired facility due to a lack of available beds.

Many people opt to care for loved ones at home due to financial, emotional or other reasons. It’s wonderful if you can find a caregiver within the family. At some point that person will need assistance as well. AARP has put together a thoughtful list of resources for caregivers.

https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/local/info-2017/important-resources-for-caregivers.html

To all the caregivers reading this, you are not alone. Please take a moment for yourself to find support. When you need help, ask for it from those that can assist. That may be an individual, an agency or a non-profit organization. When you don’t need help, prepare for when you do, your work is so important. Self-care is not indulgent, it is a necessity.

 

Photo Credit: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_victor69′>victor69 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

 

 

Basic @sshole

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Basic @sshole

We walked into the cafe in the middle of the lunch rush. It had that industrial-rustic-chic decor that has taken over the US in the past 15 years. Am I in a country store or an abandoned warehouse, I’m not sure. All these places look alike – exposed HVAC duct work, “distressed” wood floors and tables with some metal accents, large chalk board and minimalist light fixtures. I’m sure this decor is described in the first chapter of the Gentrification 101 Handbook. To be fair, I liked this look the first 15,294 times that I saw it.

Unfamiliar with the particulars of this cafe, we grabbed a menu and got in the 10 people deep line. By the time we got to the register we were just about ready to order. The part of BA (Basic @sshole) will be played by the cashier.

Me: Hi, how big are the sandwiches here? We’re thinking of sharing.

BA: (audible eye roll) They’re….(hesitation, he wanted to say basic, I know he did)…Uh, normal.

Me: OK, we’ll get the chicken salad sandwich with a side salad and a bag of chips. I’ll take a coffee as well.

Friend: Do you have any fountain drinks?

BA: (gasp, with momentary look of horror) Noooo

Friend: Um, OK I’ll get a water.

BA: Take this number and put it on your table, hands me my coffee.

I begin to pay with a credit card. Of course they have the Apple register here, required apparatus (it’s in the Handbook). BA can’t wait for me to finish signing my name on the display and huffs over to the other register to start the next order, clearly annoyed that I haven’t moved on yet.

My friend and I look at each other like “WTF was that about” and search for seating. We had to settle for one of those community style tables (check that off the requirements list, it’s in the Handbook).

I got up to fix my coffee and grab a a few napkins. That’s when I realized that BA was simply towing the corporate line because I saw this above the napkins:

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Aggressively pro-environment and condescending. (Chapter 2 of the Handbook)

I looked around and realized the median age was probably 23 and my friend and I were not the desired demographic. Then I noticed the chalkboard, it took over an entire wall. And then I smiled a little because it wasn’t current. I suspect they ran out of sustainably farmed chalk, that’s the only viable explanation.

Slow Your Roll

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Slow Your Roll

Some observations from a recent road trip returning from the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop in Dayton, Ohio to Bucks County, Pennsylvania…

We left at the crack of 8am, 7:45 to be precise. We both carried an enormous amount of luggage to the car. We are “one trip” gals. You know the type, 12 bags of groceries in the family vehicle and determined to lug it all in with one trip. The husband and kids scatter like roaches when the lights come on whenever it’s time to unload the car.

We’ve been training for this for years. Last week I got eight bags in the house in one swoop. I’m not talking about those plastic bags that you wear up your forearm like the worst bracelets ever invented. These were fully loaded paper in plastic bags filled to the tippy top. The task would have been simpler if only I had remembered my reusable bags. Those things rarely get a glimpse of the world beyond the juice stained, tissue infested floorboard of my car. Naturally, the groceries were bagged in the same order that they will be unpacked because I’m domestic and sh*t. Anyhow, the combined 432 pounds of books we acquired did not alter our “one trip” course. I suspect we resembled Sherpas at the base of Mt Everest but no one seemed to notice.

We decided to just get up and go, hit the road early. No shower, no coffee, no breakfast, surely we will find something on the way. That was stupid. Our first round of disappointment was at an Ohio rest stop. We thought, “surely there will be coffee here”, nope. It was an impressive building from the outside looked like it had been built within this decade. Inside was a cavernous land of empty bathrooms, disappointment and broken coffee dreams. There were bathrooms and vending machines, that’s it. We hadn’t yet reached the – let’s see if there is vending machine coffee – phase of desperation so, we got back in the car, sans steamy nectar of the Gods.

I don’t know how many miles passed before we saw an exit sign that hinted at coffee. It felt like it took two days and we were still in Ohio. We decided to exit the highway and fetch a cup to go. I was drawn to the shiny building. It looked like a 50’s diner, a chrome and neon oasis, surely they will have coffee. They did indeed have coffee.

We waited anxiously at the cash register where we made and paid for our purchase. The place was a blur of breakfast activity, it was clear that we hit the rush hour. It’s fine we’ll just wait, how long could it be? After an eon our coffees arrived and then we were shooed to a side of the counter to deal with our coffee fixins. I can get by with no sugar, I can not adapt to no cream. Our request for cream was met with a handful of those little half and half cups. You know the ones, they have approximately three drops of some mysterious liquid that the lab has passed off as half and half (half and half of what exactly, I’m not sure).

So there we were at the counter, desperately opening the three drops full containers in a frenzy while being bumped into by waitresses hauling enormous breakfast trays. Those creamers require the dexterity of a skilled surgeon to open. It was not graceful or efficient but we persevered. It was clear that the five containers they gave us would not suffice, we needed more half and half. I spied a table with a little bowl overflowing with them. I was tempted to make a request but the occupants were deep in conversation and I didn’t want to disturb them. Eventually we flagged a waitress down and noticing our empties, she gave us a bucket full of creamers. We finally got out of there and it’s barely worth mentioning but…the coffee was not worth the wait.

We were back in the car with mediocre coffee in hand. It was another 40 minutes before we saw the green and white sign. We knew the coffee there would also be mediocre but it would be a level up from the swill we already purchased. This time we opted for the drive-thru. Since I don’t like the coffee at this particular chain, I usually get a chai tea latte. I was still somewhat under-caffeinated and glazed over from the hours of early morning driving and ordered a “chatte latte” which sadly, only exists in my sleepy-caffeine-deprived mind. My friend gave me a quizzical look and I corrected the order immediately. Then we went on a wild tangent and by the time I got to the window to pay for the order, I had laughter induced tears in my eyes. The young woman handing over the steaming beverages did not find us amusing. In her defense, if she had heard the fictitious story about the lumberjack and the negligee wearing giraffe, she may have at least smirked.

Back on the road and did I mention that I got a speeding ticket on our outbound journey? True story and dashboard Jesus was instrumental in negotiating a lesser fine (Thank You Jesus). Anyhow, that tempered my lead footed ways. My friend’s consistent “slow your roll” commentary also kept me in check. We kept driving, sharing bits and pieces of our lives with each other, some stories were a refresher on previous conversations. Other bits were long ago fragments of chapters in each of our stories that we simply hadn’t gotten to in past chats. Each story was told with frankness, without fear of judgement which truly defines this friendship. It is quite magical when that happens.

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I’m pretty sure this is the universal sign for “slow your roll”

In our last stop on our way home we filled up the gas tank and then opted to get a snack. We were six hours into the journey at this point and I stumbled upon the best snack food ever created. I sh*t you not. Werther’s Original Caramel Popcorn (Sea Salt & Pretzel) is a snack GAWD. I have been searching for this stuff ever since we returned. Local stores can’t keep it on the shelves. I may break down and buy it online because I can only find the plain caramel variety and that just isn’t getting the job done. If you want to follow me down this rabbit hole, check out the review I stumbled upon:

http://junkbanter.com/2016/09/20/review-werthers-original-caramel-popcorn-sea-salt-pretzel/

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99 varieties of caramel popcorn and Werther’s Original with Sea Salt & Pretzel ain’t one.

When we were an hour out from our destination I texted my husband, it went like this:

Me: I’ll be home around 5pm

Hubs: OK we have food.

My friend and I were both stumped by his text so we did what women do, we put it under the mental microscope for analysis. Did he think I would cook dinner? Is he saying don’t stop at the grocery store? He can’t possibly think I’ll cook dinner or food shop after a 10 hour drive…

The mystery was solved when I came home and saw that we did indeed have food. Turns out my father in law was in the mood to cook so there was a lasagna and stuffed eggplant for dinner. That was a nice surprise.

My advice for a successful road trip is simple:

  1. Pee before you leave
  2. Bring snacks
  3. Take Jesus with you
  4. A great friend makes the time and miles fly
  5. Slow your roll

 

 

ROSTE…Dover & Canterbury (Part III)

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ROSTE…Dover & Canterbury (Part III)

On our third day we were determined to get up early and see some more sites. We left Ben in charge and he did not disappoint. We stumbled onto a lovely beach at St. Margaret’s Bay which was surrounded by the white cliffs of Dover.

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We had a small snack at the beach from a stand which was carefully attended to by a agreeable chap named Geeves (totally made up name). Geeves was wearing a tie to flip burgers and make coffee.  This would not happen in the USA. Sure you may get a charmer but a tie, not likely. The food was good, reasonably priced and the whole scene was refreshing.

 

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The beach at St. Margaret’s Bay

After about an hour we were back on the road, this time to Canterbury. It was a little tricky finding a parking place but we persevered and eventually found a spot. Canterbury was charming. It had a gorgeous cathedral and a lively town atmosphere among cobblestone walkways.

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There is a ducking stool perched above the boats in the background of this photo. The ducking stool served as punishment for ‘scolds” (women who dissatisfied their husbands or gossiped. Uh-oh). It was also used to determine if someone was a witch. The suspect would be fastened to the chair and dunked in the river for several minutes. If they died they were deemed a non-witch and a letter clearing their name would be sent (Who doesn’t love getting a hand written note in the mail. It’s always bills, bills, bills oh look, Auntie Mary wasn’t a witch. Damn now I feel bad for missing her funeral). Those with the misfortune to live were considered witches and likely died in another heinous manner such as burning.

We wandered around the town darting into different shops and sites along the way. I’m not a big shopper but I couldn’t resist this –

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Dashboard Jesus. He’s already helped me negotiate a lesser fine for a speeding ticket.

 

We did spend some time in the Cathedral of Canterbury. A curious person could spend six months in there. The new section is circa 1200, the new section.

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The “new” section at Canterbury Cathedral.

Thomas Becket gets a lot of attention in these parts. He was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until 1170 when *spoiler alert* he was brutally murdered in the cathedral. Things turned sour between Archbishop Becket and King Henry II over power. The King wanted more power over the church and Becket was opposed.

Four knights turned up in Canterbury to take Becket as a prisoner. The Archbishop sought solace in the cathedral and the knights went in after him. Soon after four knights emerged with bits of Becket’s brain on their swords, a gruesome killing.

Here is a great recount of the relationship between King Henry II and Thomas Becket. It’s somewhat tricky to determine who the bad guy is but Becket was canonized in 1173 and is considered a martyr. It does seem that Thomas Becket underwent an incredible personal change once he became Archbishop of Canterbury. You can get into the weeds about it here –

https://www.historyextra.com/period/medieval/the-unholy-feud-that-killed-thomas-becket/

The cathedral itself is amazing so if you find yourself in that part of the world, I highly recommend a visit.

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Half of England was getting a face lift while we were there. Stone is gorgeous but the upkeep, oh my. Canterbury Cathedral.

We made our way back to our last night in Rye. Our cuisine for the evening was local fish & chips from Marino’s Fish Bar. American friends, chips here are french fries and our chips are called crisps, either way a potato or two get sacrificed.

Next stop, London.