Monday, April 9, 2018



Put your phones DOWN.

Just oh. my. gosh.

I know it's been said before (a lot), but I figured that having reached nearly 50 years (which qualifies as "super old" to my 80s-teenager brain), I should add my voice, as part of that generation who has the distinction of being able to say we remember when people used to just have a phone at their house.  Tethered to the actual damn wall, by a cord...usually in the living room, where everyone in the house and possibly the neighborhood (if you had a party line, like us bumpkins), could hear every word you said.

We also remember, even further back in the mists of time, when -- if someone you loved was far away -- we'd get out a piece of paper, a pen, and an envelope and WRITE THEM A LETTER.  Then we had to swipe a stamp from mom's purse and walk it all the way out to the actual mailbox.  Clear Outside.  And then go inside and wait for like 2-4 weeks to get an answer, unless the person decided not to write back, or didn't have time, or forgot about you (kind of like texting nonresponders nowadays, only way more depressing and time-consuming).


What was my point?

Oh, right.  Cell phones.

So, having said all that, what the heck, you guys.  We need some guidelines about when is, and when is NOT, an okay time to have your cell phone in front of your face.  I'll go first, and we'll see how long the list gets.  I'm not promising you "Top Ten" or anything, I'm just gonna go, in order of how they come to me.  Ready?


1.  NO CELL PHONES ON DATES.  Ever.  Not with boyfriends, husbands, acquaintances, friends, blind dates, lunch meetings, happy hour, or any other time where you are sitting with actual humans who drove in a car to a place to meet you, in person.  Phones need to stay, turned OFF and out of sight, for the whole time.  Not on the table.  Not in your lap.  Not in your hand.  Unless you have an elderly or young person who may or may not be bleeding out their eyes from a kitchen-related incident caused by your absence, you do NOT need to hear from anyone for that hour.  I mean it.  There is not one single damn thing that can't wait another half hour until you get back in your car to check your messages, texts, emails, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.  And if you check those things while I happen to be sitting across from you, I reserve the right to throw a drink in your face.  And you're buying.  That should be the new rule.  Check your phone = picking up the tab for the whole table.  Or maybe that's been done already.  I have no idea- I gave up on Internet news and Facebook like 3 years ago.

2.  NO CELL PHONES WHEN VISITING SOMEONE'S HOUSE.  Not for a party, not for a hangout, not for the Superbowl, and certainly not for a meal.  No phones.  Leave them in your car, and go outside to check them if you're that interested in what everyone who isn't at this place is doing right exactly now.

3.  NO CELL PHONES WHILE CONVERSING WITH A PERSON IN PERSON.  Oh, no, you did not just actually glance at your phone while I was talking, did you?  DID YOU??  *smack*  No.  Do not do that.  I promise you that stupid Vine video will still be there in ten minutes when we're done interacting in person.  You look at that screen one more time while I'm talking and I will pull a hammer out of my purse and give it a good bash.  See if Instagram can filter that mess.

4.  NO CELL PHONES IN AIRPORT WAITING AREAS OR SHOPPING LINES (or any other place people congregate to wait).  So much no right here.  No one wants to sit across from you while you yack loudly on your phone about your date last night, your current Facebook fight with some troll, your new Samsung product, your business meeting this morning, that one party ( 'member that one time...?), or how you spent the morning cleaning cat puke off the kitchen floor.  Stand up and go somewhere else, for the love.  How in the world have we become a society who thinks it's OK to force everyone around you to listen to your convo at top volume.  I can't tell you how many times I have had to get up and walk to another place to sit, because some dumbass won't stop shouting into his phone, sitting right against me in an airport waiting area.  Good Lord.  Do you actually not notice the other humans around you right now? Go away.

5.  NO CELL PHONES ON SPEAKERPHONE UNLESS YOU ARE DISABLED AND HAVE LOST THE USE OF YOUR ELBOWS IN A FREAK HAY BALING ACCIDENT.   This is for all you super-cool hotties out there who walk around holding your phone in front of your mouth like it's a piece of pizza you're about to bite into...speaking into it from a distance and forcing everyone else within a grocery-store-sized radius to listen in to every word of your oh-so-important chat about that girl last night with those pants, what was she thinking, omg girl, IKR, WTH.  I'd love to accidentally ram these people from behind with a shopping cart and knock their iphone 17.5 into the frozen foods exhaust fan.  Why in the heck must we listen to that?

I seriously remember when we used to leave the house, drive to town, go to school, the post office (yes), the grocery store, or go out for the whole night,  and our only phone was still back at the house, tethered to the wall.  And we were FINE.  We learned how to navigate with maps.  We learned to be responsible and tell someone "I'll meet you in the parking lot, by the big tree, at 4 p.m.", and we'd actually just be there.  No one got lost.  No one got left (well, sometimes we did, but that was only that one time when Mom was just done with our BS).  We could go to the fair with a big group and split up, and no one got lost, or trampled by a rampaging alpaca, or starved to death wandering hopelessly with no idea what to eat for lunch.  We didn't take 45 selfies for posterity, in our fake cowgirl outfits. We'd separate and make a plan (you remember those?), and we'd all meet back up, in the parking lot, by the big tree, at 4 p.m.

Image result for cell phone meme
Where's Waldo...80's Edition.
And when we got home, if we were richie-rich enough to afford one of those cool new answering machines, we could check our messages by pressing a button, and see who, if anyone, had tried to reach us while we were not at home.  And if there was an emergency, well, yeah, they happened.  But the world didn't stop turning because we missed the call.

I remember taking whole entire road trips, across a whole entire state, with nothing but a suitcase and the car keys.  We thought it was a stretch to have to tell someone "Hey, we're driving to Seattle tonight, should be home Sunday."  It was enough.  Conversely, if we didn't make it home, from wherever, the people who loved us knew when that time-frame had elapsed where it was time to jump in the car and go looking around for us, or start calling our friends or their parents or our work, to see who'd seen us last, and where.  And that was enough, too.  We all survived.

We also did NOT need to see what everyone in our entire high school was doing, in real-time, every minute of the weekend.  Oh my gosh, that would have ruined life.  If you liked a boy, and you didn't see him at the local hangout on Saturday didn't have the option to stalk him and several girls you hate on Facebook, only to find out (wailing) ...that they're all together right now omgwhyyyyy.  You'd have to fret and wonder all weekend, and then at school on Monday, you'd hear from a girl who heard from her sister, who heard from her boyfriend, who was friends with that guy you like, that he was at so-and-so's house this weekend and it looked like he was talking to whatshername and they may have left together and now your high school life is overrrrrrrr.

(Also, we didn't commit crimes over these facts, but that's another topic...)

Ok, that's my basic list of, ummm, five cell phone etiquette rules.  Feel free to add on from there...

I'm crazy about the lady in front.  Just...taking it in.  Love it.  

Images courtesy of and google images.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Spring Garden (de-) Planning

Well, spring is finally here.  Or it seems like it should be.  Because, even though, yes, it was snowing on Monday, it didn't stick, and it's warmed up to like 50 (ok 46) and the sun is...sort of out, so I'm calling that a win.

Yesterday I actually went out and spread some more black plastic on the last bit of empty dirt at the back side of the vegetable garden, and I'm ready to drag out our grow lights and plant vegetable seeds indoors next week.  That is...just as soon as we drag out the ten thousand carefully puzzle-stacked boxes of Christmas decorations in the hall closet to get under the house where the grow lights are stored.  Which will mean, I'll get in the middle of THAT and find something wrong with the tub of all the winter gloves and hats, and I'll go off all organizing THOSE, and then the coats will need to be rotated (winter in the back, light jackets to the front), and then I'll probably find that my scarves are in need of updating, and then--


Garden vegetable seeds will be happening next week.

The only thing about this year that will be a major change for us is that, if you read my empty nest posts awhile back...there's just two of us here now.  And our garden is, after just a hair over a decade of waiting for the fence around it to be enclosure of 5,000 square feet.  50' X 100' of enclosed potting soil.  It's like my own summer play area.  When there were four of us to feed, that space was great, and I've had years where I filled the whole thing to capacity with everysinglevariety of vegetables you can grow here (and some you can't).  I've filled it with things we eat (corn, carrots, beans) and things we don't (radishes/kale/okra/brussels sprouts).  I've wasted space on 46 tomato plants that I know will never fruit until Thanksgiving week, under my redneck-greenhouse covering of clear painter's plastic held down with pavers, no matter how early I plant them inside.

spring--covered with plastic and straw

Umm, yeah, lots of room here...

Now, suddenly, there's all this space, and there's just two of us.  I don't know how to un-plan my garden.  De-plan? Downsize?  I don't know what to do with less than half of a 25' row of carrots, 46 tomato plants, and 250 square feet of corn.  Two 25' x 4' rows of green beans.  12 mounds of potatoes.  A 20 x 24' area of pumpkins.   aieeeee

Most people's vegetable garden space would fit in the front corner where I grow medicinal herbs.

Kale seeding overdose.  Because yeah, no one eats kale.  Just saying-


Well...I have thought about adding more berries.  But God forbid, NOT more currants...those things are one of those plants where ONE is probably too many.  I mean, seriously, what do you DO with currants?  Sure, I make jelly (not jam, because they are basically composed of solid seeds), so now we have two bushes that fruit like crazy, and I have to sit there for hours picking them and THEN bring the racemes in and pick off the individual berries until I wish I'd never heard of currants, so more currants.
Sam, helping with the currant situation.  

More blueberries would be nice.  Maybe I'll do that---add a bunch more blueberry bushes.  And lavender.  Or a cutting flower area, with just annual flowers for picking.  Hahahaaaa yeah right-- even with 85 or so roses here, I basically never cut flowers for inside.  Go figure...  So what would I do with a patch of cosmos and dahlias?  It'd be pretty though, even if I only see it from the window.

Or..since last year we added beekeeping to our list of Things We Do Now, But Not Entirely Together, I could add a bee-garden in part of it.  Not that they aren't already on flower-visiting overdrive with all the flowers and fruit we have blooming here all season.  But still, a bee corner would be cool.  Except no stinging.  I am anti-sting.  Like, Shane will go out and do the hive maintenance stuff, and I stay inside behind the windows and I still get little adrenaline rush chills thinking about 80 million bees (or however many in 5 hives) swarming all up in your stuff like "what's UP"...*shudder*

Actually our honeybees are pretty "mellow" (which is "bee speak" for  "they don't swarm out and kill you when you approach"), but still.  I just don't like stings.  Not even one from a cranky guard bee who forgets herself and is all "whoops sorry, had to do that".

So, I guess...stay tuned and see how we make use of our now-overly-large garden space, and I'll try not to can 115 pints of corn/beans/carrots/beets/tomatoes etc this fall, like I've done every year since like 1996.

I'd love to hear what you do with any excess garden space-- more fruit?  cutting gardens? Bee sanctuary?  And no...I'm not into selling at farmer's markets.  I'm too lazy to get up at 4 a.m. to pick, clean, and bundle, then drive to town, set up a booth, nicely display everything, then haggle with the uber-cool out-of-towners (I'm looking at you, Californians), who want to know if that's my "best price" for organic corn.  No thanks.  Actually, I don't get up at 4 a.m. for ANY reason...

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Live and Learn--Finally Published That Cookbook

Like I mentioned in my last post, way back like...yesterday, I think it was...I finally finally FINALLY did finish the Cookbook Project that I started, back in another life, which was supposed to be a graduation gift.  For our oldest daughter.  Who graduated in 2014.

So, yeah...  Goals and stuff.

She actually got married last April, AND our youngest daughter graduated high school in June, so I did get off my gimlit butt and get it finished.  I feel very adult and accomplished about this, and I was able to get my first several copies delivered into my hands in time to give it to both of them as a wedding and graduation gift, respectively.  Barely.  Like, the day of the wedding.

Since it's been so long, I'll tell you a little about the process; the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

Upside:  It's gorgeous!  Hard cover, with a photo on the front, and beautiful heavyweight pages with beautiful photos, and there are all of our family's recipes, right there in one place, like I always dreamed of.  I absolutely love it!

Downside:  Program faults that make you want to create new curse words and write massive complaints to the program developers.

Let's call this Exhibit A.  I created and published my cookbook with a program called Blurb.  I believe it was a free download, through which you create your dream book, and simply pay for your book at the time it's published (we'll call that part...Exhibit B...)  *ahem* back to the program.  I love Blurb, except for one mind-blowing glitch, where you type too much text to fit in the first of two column text boxes on a page, and suddenly the overflow text disappears into a wrapped-text alternative universe.  Normally--normally--in a perfect world, the "wrapped text" feature (to me) implies that the text will automatically bump from the too-full text box into the next text box.  On the same page.  Because that would be WHERE IT BELONGS.

But, no.

Instead, the overflow text is sent literally pretty much into outer space, and it pops up in the NEXT AVAILABLE TEXT BOX ON ANY FOLLOWING PAGE THAT ISN'T ALREADY FULL.


Say I'm typing in Column 1 of page 10, and there are two empty columns ON that page.  I fill up Column 1 and expect the wrapping to automatically put the overflow text into Column 2, the empty column right next to Column 1 on the same page.  No.  Instead, I find that the overflow text, and a good portion of the prior sentence, have been slashed off the page entirely and have popped up on, say, PAGE 23, at the beginning of Column 1 on THAT page.  Which in turn causes all the existing text on page 23 to go wonky and out of order, and possibly cause some innocent bystander to be cooking an omelet and wondering why the first line of the recipe says "fold in dry ingredients, add cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder; beat until stiff peaks form, then drop one inch apart onto a greased cookie sheet" or some such nonsense.

What makes it even more fun, is that the carryover location is not easy to find, so you're left sorting out "Where did it go?" and "How much text is incorrectly pasted on the front end of the recipe on the recipient page?"  Seriously.  I think I actually created new phrases and/or some interpretive dance to adequately describe how this fun feature really made me feel.

Aside from that, I loved Blurb.

Oh, and there was that nagging little issue about copyright photos, which meant that I originally went through the book, pasting in gorgeous pictures of recipes and food that I found online here and there *cough*  Google images *cough*, that were perfect representations of my food--as long as they looked exactly like my dishes.  Then, of course, (silly me) I realized that the photos would have to BELONG to me, in order to go in the book written BY ME, so that sucked, and I spent some more time interpretive dancing around my office before deleting all the "not-mine" photos, and starting over, by actually cooking some (but not all) of the recipes in the book and remembering to take a photo for the book each time.

So, that was another hold-up...for like a year...

Aside from that, I loved Blurb.

Oh wait, Exhibit B.  Yes.  Pricing...

*clears throat and shuffles some papers around*

You know when you think about writing a book, and then it's like, "Hey, cool, I'll have a book published, and people can then hopefully BUY the book, and then everyone can use my recipes and I might actually make a little money and the world will be a better place in general."  Yeah...that's not how it really works, with Blurb anyway.

How it really works is, you decide how you want the book laid out and choose all the expensive paper and binding and layout before you start working on the design, and then you work on it for like ten thousand years, and then hit the "publish my book" button, and THEN you realize that it's charged by the page (212 pages), PER book.  So-- my book, finished, hardbound and delivered...cost like $96.00.  EACH. 


I paid almost $100 each for the first two copies of my own book.  Well, someone's making money.

Yes, there's an option for an e-book to be available and people could buy it for like $10, but I hate e-books a little bit so I haven't chosen that as an option for publication, yet.  And there's an option to sell it on Amazon and set my own markup percentage, but honestly even as a paperback, they charge $74.00 each, so where is there room for markup?  Really? A $74.00 paperback?

Friends:  "OMG I love your cooking.  I would totally buy your cookbook! How much is it?"

Me:  "Uhh, $86.95 plus shipping".

Friends:   *nothing*

Hear that?.... That's the sound of profitability crashing and burning.

So, yeah.  It's not for sale, although I did score a sale on a purchase the week after I ordered my first two copies, where it was on sale plus a BOGO or something and I got two copies for like $126.00.  But dang.

Anyway.  YES I did get the book done, and it's beautiful.  But NO, it's not for public consumption.  Even Martha Herself doesn't charge $85.00 for a book.  I mean, come on...

Monday, March 26, 2018

And a Hearty GOODBYE to 2017

You guys.  SO MUCH has gone on since on fingers) last June.  Let's review, shall we?  You can also almost just zoom through and see the pictures, for a quick update on my life, but if you like to read my scattered off-the-hip updates, well, yeah...there's that, too.

We've had:  *inhales* ...A bunch of yard renovation, a wedding followed by a beautiful reception, a graduation followed by a gift Jetta, an empty nest, a funeral, my first first-class seat on a plane (OMG THE FRONT OF THE PLANE, what is even happening?), a great Christmas party, a cookbook published(!), a hip replacement, an amazing vacation, and...a wrecked gift Jetta.  *insert super-annoyed-mom eye roll here*

Oh, and I managed to crochet our newly on-her-own graduated youngest daughter a super cool afghan in February, and knitted a new scarf for myself this weekend, in between cross-stitching everysingledayevenonvacation on my giant recreation of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry.  See?

I've literally taken this across the country in my carry-on, twice.

I also petted a MOOSE.  Yes, I know.  Dangerousssss.  I'm crazy.  Shouldn't have done that.  Etcetera.  But yeah, I totally did, and I was up on the porch safe behind a big pillar when I did it, and she couldn't get me, and she didn't seem like she cared, so I just went with it.  Since no one believes me that we had a totally tame-ish wild moose in our actual front yard (for like weeks, actually--the bushes barely survived it), I did manage to video the whole thing with my free hand while simultaneously watching her for signs of attack-moose mode so I could duck back inside and avoid being trampled or pummeled or beaten to death by her hooves, or whatever happens when mooses attack you.  Is "mooses" a word in that case?  No idea.  When "moose" attack you...that doesn't sound right either. Whatever.  Anyway, I totally petted her.  And I'm making "petted" a word, too.  I'd post the video but apparently it's not in the right format to upload, and I'm too lazy to figure that out, so here are some photos.  Maybe sometime I'll post the video in a separate moose-related post...

what are you doing?

Not sure that's a good idea...

Ok, whatev.  These bushes are too delicious.

We also had an orphaned baby hanging around a lot.  And, a whole other one (I hope!) who decided that our garden fence line would be a good place to...lie down and die.  (no photos of *that* but omg what do you do with a dead baby moose? No one wants to help you with that...)

Anyhoo...we're EMPTY NESTERS now, and it's hilarious how many people use that whispery-concerned voice when we tell them that, like we've just suffered a bereavement, and they ask "Soooo, how's *that* going? Are you guys, you know, doing ok?"  And we're like, "Ummm, yeah.  We're fine with it."  Why wouldn't we be?  We raised our girls to be independent, smart, capable women, and, voila---there they are; doing life, and rocking it.  Our oldest got married last April, and we hosted a beautiful evening reception in our back yard in June for them, followed by our youngest graduating from high school in June and moving to her own apartment in July.

Are they sweet or what?

Purple sky unedited and just...amazing! What a beautiful night!!
On a side note, I did totally finally manage to get that cookbook project published, which I promise I will write about in another post.

And, since Shane and I started out as best friends who also find each other incredibly hot (I know, awkward TMI), then took a detour into parenthood, we now find ourselves with all this empty house and free time together and, wait--what? --possibly some discretionary money that's just...for us?  What's THAT about?  When I find extra money in the bank account, I'm immediately glancing over my shoulder and wondering "Wait-what bill did I miss?" Still adjusting to that.  And guess what? IT'S FREAKING AWESOME.  It's like when we were in our 20s and we could just...get up and go out if we felt like it.  Out to dinner.  To the bookstore.  To Home Depot (yes, girls, we still do that on Sundays).  We may even take a road trip sometime.     

I know.  Crazy.

It helps that we still are best friends who find each other incredibly hot (even though we qualify as what my 80s-highschool self would call "totally super old"), and we still love to do everysinglething together and enjoy each other's company immensely.  I love that we have the place to ourselves.  I do love when our girls come and visit, and we have a houseful of young people hanging around, relaxing, eating and visiting (and yes, playing on their phones).  But then I love that they all leave and go home at the end of the weekend, too.  So, yeah.  Empty nesting is a revelation.

Ok, what else?  Oh, yeah-- I'll just state once for the record that 2017 MORE OR LESS SUCKED, in spite of some terrific bright spots.  In general, it was just like one punch in the junk after another.  Like, can we get a break here yet? And apparently the answer to *that* question was a resounding "no", for most of 2017.  Oh sure, it had its good moments, but seriously...2017 will be remembered as the Year From Hell, more or less.  Our youngest graduated and moved out, and we had about ONE WEEK of "whoopie, we're empty-nesters" before Shane was diagnosed with a destroyed hip joint that was rapidly deteriorating and would require a total hip replacement as soon as possible.  *cue Jaws music here*

For a guy who works outside, on his feet, in and out of equipment all day every day, this was bad news.  Bad, bad.  It also meant we skipped all the things last summer that meant walking anywhere.  No hunting.  No walking around the fair.  No wandering around Home Depot.  No walking ANYwhere that wasn't 100% necessary, because he was in so . much . pain.  And the narcotics and even the non-narcotics that they gave him for the pain made him depressed and be honest.  Even he noticed it.  The hydrocodones also gave him terrifying nightmares along with the depression, so he mainly just powered through with Tylenol and Ibuprofen.  Not fun-- at all.  For either of us.

He dragged his leg around from June through December, barely able to walk some days because of the pain, plus his hip would randomly give out and he'd fall.  He did manage to work until December 13th, when he went in for a total hip replacement.  To make a long (long, long, painful) story shorter...he came through it with absolute flying colors and was back at work 3 weeks later, on his feet, outside, in the snow, moving logs.  My brother actually moved out and stayed with us for most of the winter, and was a huge help at the log yard and as a backup watchdog for Shane, which made me feel a little more at ease watching him go out in the snow to work.  I'd send them off to work in the morning and be mouthing to Jesse behind Shane's back "do NOT let him fall down!!"  So yeah...that's behind us, thank God.  I'm not posting any surgical photos, though.  You're welcome.

THEN we took a amazing and much-needed Disney trip to DisneyWorld with a cruise to the Bahamas and back, which was almost literally just what the doctor ordered.  Somehow we also rolled the dice with letting them assign our room category, and we scored the BEST stateroom ever, with like 40' of private deck at the back corner of the ship.  It was absolute heaven.  We've always gotten an inside-mushrooms-in-the-dark stateroom, but this was so worth it, much yes.

our room was about 3 decks from the top, right side, upper corner.  HUGE wraparound deck...

And of course, I always get home from Florida and immediately start already planning the next time I can see palm trees because - duh - Idaho - palm trees.

As I write this, it is still cold enough to snow here (March 26th) and too early too cold to go outside and start on any garden stuff yet, though I do have my seeds and potting soil and trowel all at the ready, so I can get our vegetables started for this year.

We also bought a meat smoker, and I didn't think I would, but I've officially fallen in love with smoking our own meat!  So far we've smoked some salmon, our own bacon, and our own ham, and omg-- the taste...can't.even.  I die.  IT'S SO YUMMY.

My first smoked ham

Oh, and if you're still wondering about the wrecked-gift-Jetta from the opening, well, yeah...everyone's fine.  The Jetta's not.  So, that's probably about all we need to say about that...
Boyfriend: 1.  Jetta: 0.

Oh, and the Christmas party we sometimes host, where I make like 45 different appetizers that don't need a fork (no matter what Aunt Alice says..), and start baking in like October, was AWESOME.  We squeezed something like 64 people in our downstairs, and it was just a lovely time with everyone.  Shane's surgery was the following Tuesday, so we wanted to see everyone before he was down for recovery.  I'm already looking forward to doing it again this year.

The List

Anyway, I just thought I'd do a quick(ish) update.  Hopefully I'll start writing more often, now that 2017 is over and done, and it took its black cloud/punch-you-in-the-junk mood with it.

Plus, there are more of my hippie childhood stories that are too good not to share, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading, and hope you're all having a lovely start to 2018.  It's gotta be better, right?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

No Freestyling. Or, Something Like That...

Omg you guys.

I am literally the queen of saying awkward things today...

I won't go into too much detail, but I spent this last weekend out of town, so I have spent all day today answering the zillion emails and voicemails for our business, scheduling people, rescheduling people, etc.

I returned a call to a new customer a little while ago, and set him up with an order.  He decided that instead of having firewood delivered (by us), he would come pick it up himself.  I'm always very professional on the phone, but of course, I'm also pretty casual in general, so you never know what I might say.  Apparently.

Here's how it went down:

Him:  Can I just come pick up the firewood myself?

Me:  Sure! You also save $15.00 per load when you pick up, but bear in mind that you are loading it yourself, so it's up to money and do more work, or spend more and save some time.

Him:  Sounds good.  I'm all about saving money.  I'll pick it up.

Me:  And, you can use the $15.00 to buy some gloves (for all the wood-stacking).  I should have stopped HERE.

Him:  Ok. I have to buy gloves, or can I just... (he's kidding)

Me:  (here's where it gets awkward)  Nope.  You can totally freeball it if you want.

*claps hand over mouth*

Him:  *bursts out laughing*

Me:  Oh. my. god.  I did NOT just say that out loud.  Pretend I didn't just say that.

Him:  *choking on laughter*

Me:  I'm hanging up now seeyouonmondaythe17thforthatpickupthanksbyeee

*facepalm*  I MEANT TO SAY "FREE STYLE.  You can totally freeSTYLE if you want..."

I'm such a dork.

What's your latest faux pas?  Ever say the exactly most awkward thing possible in a conversation with a stranger, or worse, a customer?

Or WORSE...the reason this guy's name rang a bell when I added him to our customer list is (wait for it), because he was Shane's BOSS about 25 years ago.  Oh. my. lord. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

More Parenting Tips I Should NOT Have to Point Out. But I Will.

*clears throat and assumes Andy Rooney voice*


I'll try and keep this short.

Hahahahahaaaajustkidding.  You know I totally won't.

For my birthday last weekend, we decided to go out for a nice dinner at our favorite local steakhouse, where I happened to have a coupon for a free entree (up to $20.99 or less, and good luck finding a steak for that price).  My standing joke at ALL restaurants any more is just, please, don't let there be anyone there wearing a tiara.  Which is kind of another post, but picture, if you will--that group of over-done, over-made-up, over-dressed, overly-loud 40-something divorcees who've had that onnnne too many glasses of wine and it's somebody's birthday so WOO-HOOO I'M WEARING A TIARA Y'ALL.  *clinks glass*

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This bunch...

Yeah.  Usually the table next to them

*eye roll*

Anyway, it's gotten so that when I make reservations somewhere, I specifically request to NOT be seated by any large tables or any large parties or anyone wearing a tiara, because just once I'd like to get through a meal without being forced to listen to the above too-loud ladies discussing life at too many decibels and with way too many "woo-hoos", plus the sudden random group of servers who come out, clapping and singing and sometimes wearing sombreros and/or carrying sparklers.

Guys.  I just want to enjoy a quiet dinner, k?

So, last weekend's dinner was going great until dessert-menu time.  I had actually just mentioned, " tiaras so far" and kind of *high-fived* Shane.  Then, the servers started unfolding the table extensions at two tables next to us and sliding two smaller tables...together.  Uh-oh.

Sure enough, as soon as the tables merged into one big 10-seat table, a pile of gifts and balloons suddenly materialized in the center.  Me and Shane started giving each other the side-eye.

The family arrived, comprised of maybe 4 adults and about 300 small children.  Ok, it was more like 5 + one in a car seat, but still.  Me and Shane started giving them the side-eye.

They got seated and the small boy in the chair closest to our table immediately whips out an iPhone 12.5 or whatever and starts playing a video game, because of course a birthday party with balloons and streamers and gifts isn't nearly interesting enough to hold his attention for 3 minutes.  We start hearing  pew-pew-pew-pew peeeewwwwwww PEW PEWPEWPEWPEW.   Since they were close enough to hear and see our response, I stopped mid-sentence and stared at them and said "REALLY?? HE'S PLAYING A VIDEO GAME? AT A BIRTHDAY PARTY? WITH THE VOLUME ON??"  Mom let it go for a minute, but she did start asking Little Boy to turn down his volume.  Not OFF, mind you, but...down.


We spent the rest of the meal trying to finish sen-pewpewpew-tences about whether we pewpew wanted to eat desspewpewpewpewPEW-ert or just take it PEWPEWBEEPBOOOAWWP  home with us.  And of course opted for "to-go please".

Still, though, seriously-- I had to stop talking like five times and give this mom my best "Really?" stare, along with that obvious pantomine of looking around and saying loudly "Is someone seriously watching CARTOONS IN HERE?' before she would try to get him to turn the volume down. Again.

So my question is this:  WHAT THE HECK, PEOPLE???  Everywhere we go any more, kids are not expected to be quiet and/or focus on actual reality for more than a few minutes at a time before they freak out and insist on having a phone or an iPad or a TV screen shoved in front of them.

Everywhere. We. GO.

At the grocery store:  Kids in the cart are playing on phones.

The car in front of me: TV screens in front of the baby car seats.

In restaurants: They're on a phone or a game, or those *cool* new tabletop notebook screens, in case anyone forgets their phone in the car, or God forbid, wants to actually interact with their family over dinner.
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You're going to the STORE, not across the country.  This is ridiculous.

And don't tell me that your kids are "too much of a handful" or that they are so hard for you to control that this is the only way you can go out in public.  They're only TWO FEET TALL; you can too control them, although if you're the mom from the restaurant, you've probably already waited too long.   Quit shoving stupid technology in their face 24/7, and teach your kids to BEHAVE.  If you don't know how, ask your mom how her parents did it, because believe me, for the older generations, this was NOT a problem, and no one grew up "warped" because of strict discipline, although I shudder to think of what this next generation will be like.

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Get it together, parents.  There are other people out here, trying to eat.

images courtesy of Google images

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Oh Good. More Technology.

Ok, don't get me wrong.  I LOVE technology.  I'm all about cool new techie things and the latest updates of whatever programs our phones can download, and I even learned how to use the filters on Snapchat, so I am now totally able to reply to my daughter's snaps, in about the same amount of time it takes her to grow up, get married, raise a family, get old, and retire.

why can't we just text each other? 

What I am NOT with you on (or *them*, since I doubt that this was *your* idea...) is this Cool New Technology that Shane and I accidentally collided with recently at a well-known restaurant who will remain "Olive Garden".

First let me preface this with, yeah, I KNOW.  We haven't been eating out very often at ceiling...counts on fingers...scrolls through calendar years...) Ok, like three or four years.  We haven't eaten out much for 3-4 years, except at our favorite local family-owned restaurant, where everything is still very low-tech, in the sense that actual people come to the table and ask you verbally what you would like to eat, and you tell them, to their face, and they disappear to go on a lunch break and/or leave to go check their laundry, and you sit waiting for what seems like too long to get anyone to come back and refill the water that you both already guzzled and whyhasn'tshenoticedthisyet, but eventually she DOES, and then your food comes out,  and everything's OK again, and we're all still friends.


We hadn't been to a chain restaurant in awhile, so the other night, we were aimlessly driving around after watching a super-slow-ok-that-was-SO-not-a-sports-movie-Denzel film, and we just kind of ended up at Olive Garden.  Which is fine, because I love Olive Garden.  Or I used to...back when I was still allowing myself to eat carbs and stuff.  Anyway, I sucked it up and decided I was game for trying to find something on their menu that wasn't bread, or pasta, or breaded, or breaded pasta.  (good luck)

At first, it all seemed pretty much business as usual.  We were seated after a normal wait time.  We had a normal hostess give us menus and take our drink orders.  We politely nodded in disinterest when she pointed out the new little gadget on the table that looked like a small TV flatscreen thing and told us that we can "sign up for rewards" or something...I never sign up for ANYthing, so...yeah-no.  As soon as she left, I turned the TV gadget thingie around, facing out, because the LAST thing I want is a screen flashing in my face while I'm trying to enjoy a full-service restaurant dinner.
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oh. my. gosh.  SERIOUSLY?    no


We had a normal college-age boy come and say he'd be our waiter, and he did take our orders.  I'll call him Josh.  So..."Josh" brought out that big bowl of lettuce with oil and vinegar on it that doubles as "salad" at Olive Garden, and we more or less finished it.  He came back fairly soon and asked if we wanted it refilled, so we were like, "sure" because how filling can lettuce be?  And, could he also please refill the waters when he gets a chance? Sure!

And--Here's where it gets weird.

That was pretty much it.  Josh basically never came back.  Ever.

We sat forEVer, wondering what the heck.  Slid the empty water glasses way out to the edggggggggge of the table.  Looked around obviously like we're waiting for service, or a waiter, or ANYone to notice that we're still there.  Made choking sounds and slurped loudly from the empty glasses, trying to survive on the water we could suck off the ice cubes.  Stirred ice with our straws.

Finally a whole other guy, who seemed like the floor manager, showed up with our entrees.  We told him we'd love some water, and oh, could you also tell Josh not to worry about that salad refill? 'Cause we've moved on to dinner now.  Him:  Sure.

We finished our dinner and sat there, waiting for Josh to reappear.  Forever.  I think I actually gained some more wrinkles while we waited.  We decided, since it's been so long, maybe we should check out desserts.  Oh, wait, there's no menu on the table for desserts except....wait.  What about this?  I turned the stupid little TV thing back around to face us, and lo and behold, there were hi-def pictures of their desserts right there on this little screen.  
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Exactly like this
THEN I noticed that not only was it an ad for their desserts, it had a touch screen button that said something like <order now> or <add to cart> or something, and another button that said <more water> and another one that said <call server> or something, and then it hit me.


We're supposed to figure out this stupid gizmo/tablet/ipad thingie on our dinner table, during dinner, in order to make these things happen???  Is that why Josh never came back? He's crouched somewhere in the back, on a headset, waiting to be paged by a computer?

*hard eye roll*

I set the little screen thing back down, facing away, crossed my arms, and refused to buy into their new program. We waited some more.  Looked around, obviously searching for our waiter.  Nothing.

After another eon passed and we both aged even further, and/or possibly cashed in our Roth/IRAs, "Josh"--the actual dude, who must have realized we were not "on board" with the kiosk or ziosk or whatever--finally materialized, and we were able to communicate directly to him, using words and some basic hand gestures, what we wanted for dessert and that we'd like it to-go, and that we were ready to pay.

I handed him my debit card, which he handed back to me and said "Oh, no, you check yourself out."

Me:  --  *eyebrows go up*

Him:  *turns the little TV screen back around to face us*  You swipe your card right here and do your purchase on the screen.

Me:  --  *holding debit card in midair with eyebrows still up*   Are you joking?

Him:  No.  *pointing to screen, which is now configured with our sales receipt*  See?  Right here.

He's looking at me like I'm visiting on a special outing from the Alzheimer's wing of a nursing home.

I notice that the TV thing has suddenly apparently sprouted a card-reader swipe thing on one side, so I swipe my card and the screen takes me to the "tip" portion of the transaction, which is like a slide-rule thing that you can touch to change the tip percentage, but I notice that it is conveniently set to like an automatic 20+ percent tip.  I slide it to the left...20-18-15-13-12-10---- slide, slide, sliiiideee  c'mon where's the 0%?  I'm out of luck.  It stops me at a MINIMUM of 10% for Josh, who has done basically NOT A DAMN THING for us except bring out our salad and to-go boxes.  A whole other guy did the job of bringing our entrees, and no one ever did refill the waters.

So I kind of sneakily clicked on the lowest possible tip, because "Josh" hadn't done anything tip-worthy, while noting that ok, so there's also no way to NOT give a tip? Or any way to leave a comment, like "You guys need to work on your customer service or we won't be back"?  Interesting.

I hit <print receipt> for a printout, right out of the little TV thing, and we were on our way.

On the  way out, we finally noticed that, yep, most of the tables of diners were all totally enjoying their meals with their family and friends, but instead of being focused on each other, they were all totally engrossed in these stupid little screens on the tables.  There were kids playing games on them.  There were groups of girls snapping selfies and posting them to Facebook or wherever.  There were old people trying to figure out how the hell to get more water.  I half expected to see people tuning in to their favorite TV shows or for commercials to start flashing across the screens.

this just screams "relaxing with family", doesn't it?

Just.  Wow.

Let's review, shall we?

Now, when you go out to dinner, where you used to be expected to, I don't know, actually interact face to face with your dinner companions, you can now spend the ENTIRE time fiddling around with learning how to use and/or play with another whole new device, just like the ones you should have left in your car and/or at home before you left to go OUT to dinner, while ALSO very minimally interacting with anyone in the service end of the restaurant.

So, basically, dining out is now almost exactly like dining at home, except you don't have to cook or get your own plate, although I half-expected to see those bins on the way out like at a food court, where you dump your trash and leave your tray.

On the way home, I got out my own tiny link to the whole world phone and googled this new technology, only to find that it's been in place for a couple of years now, at a lot of restaurants.  I also read the many many many complaints, exactly like mine...

Shane and I made a secret pack and pinkie swore to never go out for a "nice" dinner again at ANY restaurant that wants you to order your food through a touch screen at the table.  I can see it being handy to pay at the table, in case you're the type who is afraid the waitress is taking your credit card in the back and snapping photos of it to secretly charge you for her next trip to Mexico or whatever, but...trying to force diners to figure out more screens so we can "call server" or for "more water"??  Seriously?

Like I said, I'm a huge fan of technology, but guys. Huge, double thumbs way way down for this one.

...and yes, I have been living under a rock.

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Photos on this post all courtesy of Google images.