Saturday, December 20, 2014

The thing under the tree

Look close...


Still not seeing it??

So yeah, when I went to put a package under the tree and it grunted at me, I squealed like a ten-year-old girl and almost wet myself.
For a second there, I thought I'd been gotten by the thing-that-lives-under-things.  I don't have lots of nightmares, but when I do, they come in two flavors...being chased by some THING...or the-thing-that-lives-under-things (the bed, the stairs, the couch, the chair, etc) jumps out and gets me.
I'm sensing a Christmas-themed nightmare in my future.

"What?  Doesn't everyone nap under the tree?"
Thanks a butt-load, Maxx.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Airplane etiquette

Okay, no one really loves traveling by plane.  We love the convenience of it, sure.  It's great to get across the country in just a few hours.  But the actual sitting in metal tube breathing stale air with usually at least 3 points of contact being made with another person that you don't even know?  Not fun.
However, there are things that can be done to make the experience better for everyone.  Most of the rules of etiquette seem pretty self-evident to me.  But after what I experienced yesterday, I it seems I've got to come right out and lay some of these (so far) unspoken guidelines out there in black and white.
#1 Don't be a jerk.  You know, that's not just a rule for air travel. No matter what you're doing, you can pretty much apply the "don't be a jerk" policy.
I arrived at my gate yesterday a good 45 minutes before we were supposed to board.  Many people were there ahead of me, so seats at the gate were pretty sparse. There was an older man (seen below) who had taken up an entire row of seats with bags and cup lids. I asked "are all of these seats taken?" to which he replied, "Yeah, lady.  These seats are for me and my wife."  "All four?" I ask.
"Obviously, or I wouldn't have saved them."
A nice person across the aisle shifted their bags out of the seat beside them and told me I was welcome to sit there.
#2 Don't be a slob.
Then Mr. Curmudgeon leans out and loudly and sloppily eats a crumbly cookie (with his mouth open) just letting the crumbs pile up at his feet (some of them actually on his shoes.)


Then his wife joined him.  She looked really put and skirt matching nicely.  I kind of had hopes that she would be the one to kind of tone down her husband's antisocial behavior.
I mean, she LOOKED like someone who knew most of the social mores that keep society from falling apart.  But then...she herself violated my third rule.  The rule that I really thought went unstated.  The rule that you would do for your own sake as much as for others.
#3. Don't stink.  I mean, really?  Who wants to smell bad?  Yet here we are.  Ms. Socially Inept had joined her husband, handed him a milk and started rustling through her bags.  I was sitting across from these two...had started checking my email on my phone when the smell hit me.


It is 7:00 in the morning, and this woman has opened a bag of smoked salmon.
She's laying thick slabs of the stuff onto her bagel.  The smell is wafting through the early morning air.  The nice lady beside me actually makes a little stifled gagging noise.
I understand that lox and bagels is allegedly a breakfast item in some geographical locations.  That is fine.  I have sampled lox and bagels.  Not my thing, but again, fine.  It is not, however something you prepare in a crowd of people.
It is CERTAINLY not something you slap together and carry onto a PLANE to finish.  Which this couple did.
The whole interior of the fuselage smelled like stinky fish.
I found a seat as far from this couple as I could possibly manage and ordered a Bloody Mary.
I'll take a screaming baby on a flight any ole time vs. a stinky, mean old rude couple any day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Werewolf in Bama

Not a real post...something I meant to share with you guys in passing a while back...Going through the pictures in my phone I found this:
I took this picture sometime last month (October, of course) at a local restaurant here in town.
I have some questions.
1. Where does one go to purchase an effeminate werewolf cut-out?  I can't believe it was bought locally, because, Hello! This is Alabama.
2. Why does one purchase an effeminate werewolf cutout?  It's Halloween....time for scary stuff.  This dude is frightening no one.
3. Seriously, jazz hands?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wonder Woman vs. The Swamp Thing

So, with the Hubs back to work full time (Hurray!) there has been a growing backlog of little tasks and errands building up. I decided to take off work a couple of hours early and try to knock some of those out so they would not be a lingering concern for me as I gear up for the holidays.

I headed downtown and picked up a prescription for the kiddo, then my own contact lenses that have been languishing at the optometrist’s for over a week because his office has a really kooky schedule and I can never seem to hit it at the right time. Then I bop on over to Aldi. Because I? Am not only effectual, I am thrifty. I buy the creamer and the hubby’s sodas…those were the pressing needs. Then I go ahead and pick up the ham and the pie ingredients that I will need as my family’s contribution to Thanksgiving. All at low, low prices.

Leaving Aldi, I swing by the vape shop for some supplies (Jeff hasn’t had a cigarette since March! Another yay!) and head to the house to make dinner…which will be delicious. I have marinated turkey tenderloin, sweet potatoes to roast and some Brussels sprouts. Usually, dinner is something that we can throw together in 10-15 minutes because we get home and we are STARVING. But today, I actually have time to put together a nice meal. Right about now? I am feeling like Wonder Woman

I unload the groceries, let the dogs in, and start to prepare my dinner. I have decided to stay dressed in my work clothes since I am looking mighty damn cute today, if I do say so myself. (Eggplant colored sweater dress, funky paisley leggings and studded ankle boots) It’s a little silly, but I want Jeff to see me in this outfit and not in my normal schlepping around the house wardrobe (baggy t-shirt…usually his, no bra, pajama bottoms). So I tie an apron on and get busy fixin’ dinner. (Brief side story…we once had some vendor from England visiting out at my workplace. The receptionist told him that she was about to leave because she had to “carry her daughter to practice and then fix supper.” He was completely flummoxed about what this lady was doing. Apparently, in the Queen’s English, you ‘re only “carrying” something if you are physically lifting it, and you only “fix” something that is broken.)

I get the turkey tenderloin in the oven, peel the sweet potatoes over the sink…then dice them, drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle them with some bourbon/brown sugar seasoning stuff and pop those in beside the turkey. The brussels sprouts get the same treatment, but with some kind of savory seasoning mixture. I go to the sink to wash down the potato and brussels sprouts scraps…turn on the garbage disposal and…GUSH!!!! Up spouts a geyser of sweet potato peelings and gray, foul smelling liquid. I’m telling you, this fountain of vile spewed up 3 feet, minimum. It went ALL. OVER. MY. KITCHEN. Thank God, all of the food was in the oven and not sitting on any counter space. I have flecks of Brussels sprouts giblets and potato peels in my hair…my cute sweater dress is doused with the disgusting pipe backwash…which is also on the floor, on the counter, on the blinds! Gag! Literally, I am gagging. The smell is horrific. I cut the water and the disposal off…grab some paper towels and do a cursory swipe at anything dripping. I head upstairs and take off my cute (befouled) clothes in the laundry room and grab a pair of yoga pants and a working-around-the-yard T-shirt so that I can go deal with this mess. I’m not feeling so Wonder-Woman-y anymore. I’m feeling more like the Swamp Thing

know I SMELL like the Swamp Thing. I get two buckets, drag everything out from under the sink…and the door bell rings. It’s our HVAC repair dude (and that’s a story for another post…maybe tomorrow’s). Getting back under the sink, I take the PVC pipes apart from where they attach to the disposal over to the U-joint.

What was in that horizontal run of pipe was unspeakable. The cats ran from it, and they lick their own butts. I took it outside and over to the empty lot and dumped it and rinsed it out. The police have probably had reports of the smell of a dead body by now.

I did somehow manage to put the sink back together, put the under-the-sink items back up (why do I have three bottles of Mop n’ Glow in various levels of empty? I’ve been in this house 9 years and can’t remember using anything but a Swiffer WetJet), clean the cabinets and counter tops (with BLEACH) and make myself more-or-less presentable (at least non-smelly and sans potato peelings) before Jeff got home.

Hey, maybe I am a little bit Wonder Woman.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Something borrowed

My good friend, co-worker and sometimes aider-and-abettor, Jenn, just got married the other day.  This being the second time around the wedding block for both of them, they went to elopement route.
In a vineyard. In Napa Valley. At sunset. Gah!
Yes, they are "that" disgustingly perfect couple...and if I didn't love 'em so much and if they each hadn't had to wade through Crap River for years to find each other I'd have to hate them. But they did have to go through some mighty shitty circumstances to finally find each I'll let them have their picturebook wedding (literally, I bet the vineyard uses these two in their advertisements) without being TOO snarky.
Of course, leading up to the actual nuptials got a little nerve wracking...especially for Jenn.  Since the two of them were like a house a'fire for each other, they had not allowed a lot of flash-to-bang time between the engagement and the wedding.  And that meant that the dress was of imminent concern.  Jenn had ordered a couple of dresses off of Amazon (not being your typical twenty-something bride with a 300 headcount church wedding meant she could go a little non-traditional).  When the dresses came in, she loved one of them...but it was WAY off on the sizing. (Have I mentioned Jenn is a tall blonde of runway model proportions? Bitch.)  She sent it back, ordered what she hoped was the right size and then was frantically looking for "Dress B".  The perfect dress had to be remade and then put on a slow boat from China.
The royal couple (as we took to calling them) was leaving for the West Coast in 10 normally calm, cool and collected friend started to get a little wild-eyed look about her.  When she wasn't trying to get a bead on her dress through international package tracking, she was looking for a back-up dress.  And getting more and more distraught.
Finally, as a JOKE, I told her that she was more than welcome to borrow my wedding it was hanging in my upstairs closet even as we spoke.  And I sent her pictures of me in my wedding dress in all of my 1990 glory.
Travel back in time with me...back to a time when Madonna "Material Girl" hair ruled the world and the people believed that EVERYTHING, including bathrobes and wedding dresses needed shoulder pads:

Now, I ain't gonna lie...I'd probably be willing to perform unmentionable acts to have that figure back (except, apparently, diet and exercise). Even if it is clad in blindingly white satin so slick that I couldn't sit down in that dress without almost sliding out of the chair. But you do not even want to guess at the amount of Aqua Net it took to get my eternally straight hair to acquire that much poof.
I got this dress at the JCPenney wedding outlet store in Georgia.  I though it was the loveliest thing I had ever laid eyes on. I bought it for $99.
Finally, I feel we must address the gi-normous poofy sleeves.  What is with those? Am I smuggling severed heads in there?  Are they there to provide a handy place to tuck my bouquet when I need my hands free?  I have no idea.
Sadly enough, I did not actually get married in my wedding dress.  Jeff and I had slated an August wedding date...but sometime mid-May the wedding planning, accentuated by my newly-divorced, warring parents got the better of me and I had a complete come-apart.  After getting my sniveling under control Jeff just pronounced: "Screw it.  Pack a bag, we'll get married in Panama City this weekend." Which we did.
And my sweet Jenn?  Her dress arrived about 4 days before departure for their elopement/honeymoon.  It's no mandarin-collar-having, severed head-concealing sleeved, shiney white confection of a dress that mine was...but I do admit that it fit her, and the current decade, beautifully.
Congratulations, you crazy kids!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Winds of Fortune

I'm interrupting my series of posts on my wonderful trip to Europe to address a mounting issue I have with the universe.  Or maybe it's the universe that has an issue with me.

Freaking fortune cookies.

I get the WORST fortunes you have ever seen out of a fortune cookie.
Here's a real, live fortune that I got once:

I felt like the kid in A Christmas Story when I got this know, where he's got the magic decoder ring and then when he laboriously decodes the message off of the radio program it reads, "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine"?

Also?  This is not even a fortune!  It's like, advice from a cardiologist.  Or not even that.  It's like advice from your Home Health teacher in 7th grade.

This one at least makes a stab at being a fortune.  But you have to admit, it's still pretty damn lame.

And this one:

For one thing, most shades of green make me look like I've got jaundice.  For another...honestly, is that the best you can do, fortune cookie.
You know that game that people will play with fortune cookies...where you're supposed to read your fortune and then add "...between the sheets?"  My fortune cookies are so lame that I can't even seem a little ribald when I take my turn.

But the fortune that FINALLY put me over the edge.  The cookie that made me realize that either:

A) I am hopelessly beyond good fortune (sing with me, "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all! Oh! Gloom, despair, and agony on me.")
B) The universe hates me. or
C) Confucius was an asshole

was this one I got just the other day:

What? The? Actual? Hell?  I live in Alabama.  We don't even grow parsnips down here.  I don't know that I've ever even seen one in the grocery store.  I'm pretty sure I've never tasted one.
What does this even mean??  I haven't got a clue.  It's sure not a FORTUNE.  It's not telling me anything that will or won't happen.  It's not even giving me sound advice like, "Floss you teeth for good oral hygiene."

Is this happening to everyone?  Have all fortunes gone to crap?  Did we lose a war or something?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Dear France

Dear France, I owe you a huge apology.  I have had a bad opinion of you for years...and it was totally undeserved.  You are beautiful and your people (most of them) are lovely.

Of course, the rumors of rude, mean people came via friends and relatives visiting Paris...and that may be a very different thing.  I know that someone visiting, say...New York would get a whole different opinion about how people in the US act than someone visiting the South. (I'm sure there are some very nice people in NY...but they aren't as openly friendly to strangers...I'm just sayin!)
And I was a leetle underwhelmed when we first made port.  The main cruise ship port at Marseille was shared with your regular shipping facilities.

But then, oh then...we took a smaller boat to Vieux Port...

And ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh!  I fell in love.

This is Fort St. Jean at the mouth of the Villeux Port.  This picture does not do it justice.

So the night before, Mom and I had out our little map of the area where we were making port and plotting out what we wanted to see.  We decided we'd check out the cathedral right there at the port and then go see the Basilique Notre Dame.  Looking at the map, we were actually thinking (since we had the whole day)...why, we'll probably just stroll around and make our way on foot...I mean, how far can it be, right?  A kilometer is a little over half a we should be able to do that. 

First things first, the Cahedrale de la Major:

Gorgeous, isn't it?  Sadly, it was closed until September 21st... the day after we returned to the US.  We got some nice pictures of the exterior and then decided we'd head in the direction of the Notre Dame.

So. What was not readily apparent on a map is this...Notre Dame de la Garde?  Was at a very, very different elevation than the port.  Prolly why the Germans occupied it during WWII as lookout.  I did not know that.
Fortunately, the bus system for Marseille is incredibly simple and can be understood by non-French-speaking bumbling American tourists.  The bus driver was SO patient and friendly.  He was trying to convey something to us...and did we really want to go up there?  And of course we did, and he was like, "Okay,'s your Euro"

And it was worth the trip:

That's Marseille, way, way down below us.

I think this angel is picking his nose.

There was lots to see on the outside and a good many other tourists had come up as well.  Sadly, the Cathedral itself (and gift stores, and resturant) was closed on Mondays.  Dude, don't ask me...I don't even know.

After we saw and did what we could even though it was Monday (again, what's with that, France?) we caught a cab with another couple from the ship to go back down to "Old Port" where there were supposed to be lovely resturants.

The cab driver(s) up at the cathedral who were SUPPOSEDLY there to make money by taking people places in their cabs were the only rude people I met in France.

Us: Can the four of us get a cab to take us back down?

Spokesperson (I guess) for the cab drivers gathered around: Yes, yes.  You wait over there.

We went "over there" and waited.  We could see the group of 10-12 cabbies still clustered together, talking and smoking.  No one was looking at us.  I wandered over.

Me: Um, you did say one of you could take us back down?

Spokesperson: I say wait over there!

Me: I know.  But someone is interested in taking us back down the hill? Right?  For money.

Spokesperson: We have fares. We wait on them. Someone take you soon.  Wait over there.

I go back to Mom and the British couple.  We wait another 10 minutes until a cab comes up the hill and lets some people out. Before he can drive over to the cluster of others...who are STILL standing together, smoking and not looking at us, I go to his window with money out and ask if he can take the four of us down.

Spokesman cabbie LOSES. HIS. SHIT. :Wait!  I get cab for you when it is time!  I tell you to wait over there!  Not get your own cab!

We just bundled into the newly arrived cab and zoomed away...spokesman cabbie gesturing rudely and sputtering with rage left behind us.

For the life of me I don't know what all of that was about.

Five minutes and approx. 500 vertical feet later, we at Old Port, where we get out and go in search of sustenance.

We settled on this cute little outdoor restaurant:

Where we had this cute little outdoor waitress:

She was funny and attentive and helpful and completely restored my faith in the people of Marseilles. 
We had this for lunch:

Yes, it was as delicious as it looks. 
Afterwards, we did some shopping.  Every shop keeper, every cashier, every other patron we saw was friendly...very smiling and helpful.  Apparently, the only assholes are cab drivers.  I bought some trinkets and something called Pastis that I haven't tried yet, but was supposedly a local favorite liquor.  Then we headed back to the ship for some relaxation by the pool before dinner.

One (of the very few) downsides to a cruise in Europe.  There are A LOT of speedos out there.  Way, way too many speedos.
Say what you will about Americans. At least our men understand the rules for wearing a Speedo.
And they are as follows:

1. Open your wallet.

 2. Take out your driver's license.

 3. Does it say "Daniel Craig"? - if so, maybe you can wear the speedo. Proceed to step 4.

 4. Check your wallet again. Is there an actors guild card also reading "Daniel Craig"?...

 5. If yes, wear that banana sling! If no...then no, you may not wear a speedo