Saturday, July 31, 2010

OMG...Turning Fifty Felt GREAT!! amazing can turning fifty be?

My reason for my most of my gray hair..planned it all behind my back.

Some of my best friends from high school were there.
It was incredible and it was just what I needed.

There were friends from high school...two of them drove up from Destin just to hug my neck. There was another friend from high school that came straight from her vacation to do the same.

My champion on FB and a champion that has helped us out time and time again came.

Massey's BFF and her mom came.

My in laws came.

Nurse "Becky" came...from guard camp and dragged her husband along with her.

A friend from the church I grew up in came. We haven't been in touch in over 30 years but via FB have re connected and she brought the fanciest cup cakes and gave me the profile pic of a life time.
The friends Massey and I stayed with in Destin drove up JUST for my birthday can you thank friends for that type of commitment?
I knew that a party was being planned...I didn't know that so many people loved me so much.
I came home overwhelmed and grateful.
My kid's first grade teacher showed up with my partner in crime from the ASP program I used to work in...I was strictly the entertainment.
I turned fifty...I have made it to AARP status.
Just let me entertain for a few more years and I'll be "OUTTA HERE."

What a great birthday...what a blessing...what a lucky person I am.

Thanks to every one, my heart is full.

To be loved is a precious thing.

To have friends and to have champions that help you through is not only amazing but renews your faith in the human spirit and gives you inspiration for "Paying it Forward."

I intend to do just that and hope that everyone
who has helped me knows that I am focused on "Paying it Forward."
Thanks for the night off...Thanks for an amazing day...thanks for loving us! were a hit...EVRYONE that reads my blog (all of the people there) know who you are and were amazed at you...Keep Kickin" Franny !!!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Band Camp Is Over..."WHEW"

What a week...what a crew of exceptional and devoted kids...what a way to turn fifty.

The heat has been brutal...even more brutal than their guard coach, Teddy...and that tells you just how hot it has been.

If it hadn't been for "Nurse Becky" (photo above to the left when she was just about to collapse at the end of a very long last day)...I truly don't think the kids would have survived. She has wrapped ankles and knees, given out medicine and handed out inhalers...charting it all in a meticulously kept log book and kept this group going. It was a hard non paying job that she did EVERY day for two weeks without one complaint or gripe.

She is an amazing woman, an amazing mother and now one of my dearest friends.

These kids worked ten hours a day for two weeks straight, in heat that even made ME sweat and if you read my blog you know how I love to be outdoors. Her own daughter collapsed tonight around 6PM. It was scary and when her girl fell onto the steaming asphalt I felt my own heart drop. Luckily "Nurse Becky" was right there and took charge.
The heat was intense cloud cover, no breeze no rain. There were complaints and gripes but the kids kept going. I think I am down to 85 pounds (just kidding) but it was even tough for me and I was just refilling water bottles and picking up trash.
The dedication of these kids is amazing...the dedication of the parent volunteers is incredible and the fact that we all made it is a feat in itself.
It was good for me to have a distraction from my own worries and it was good to feel like I was a part of something else other than my own problems.
"Nurse Becky" should have been given a crown tonight for just keeping all the kids alive. She was there EVERY day from 9 in the morning til after 9 at night...two weeks of care and love that these kids wouldn't have made it through without her.
I'm an outsider...just helping when I can. She is a trooper..there every day and caring for these 140 plus teens as if they were all her own.
I love this "Guard World" and love all the people I have met while watching this group persevere and make tremendous progress.
It was the hottest day we was the longest day we had. They all made it and at the end of the camp all the kids were smiling and laughing. It's a great thing to see determination and commitment from teens and that even when beaten down , sunburned and tired..they still shout out to each other "I love you" and "Great job."
Haven't had a day off in over a week...but what a great way to spend your day off...surrounded by love and devotion. Talk about inspiration...these kids give it to me every time I am with them and I feel lucky to be a part of their world.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


"When you speak from your heart and say the words your soul has only dared to whisper...that's when miracles happen."

I woke with Massey leaving for band camp. Her being at camp for 12 hours and me being at work for twelve hours. I know she is in good hands..the guard moms are incredible to her (and me.)

Worked a hard lunch shift, got off too late to go by the school but early enough to come home and check my email and let the dogs out.

The phone rang and I almost didn't pick up. I'm not too big on toll free numbers these's never good news. I decided for some reason to pick up.

"May I speak to Kelly Cotton?" we go again, I thought. I said "This is Kelly." It was the friendliest woman I have spoken to on our land line in almost a year. She said " This is (Blah Blah) from Wells Fargo, how are you doing today?"
I told her I've been better.

She launched right in with how she was just giving me a "Welcome" call to tell me the name of the person who had been assigned to our loan modification case and wanted to give me her number , extension and office hours.

DO WHAT? This is the same company that threatened my husband with horrible news on Monday?

I asked if we were still in consideration for a loan modification and she said cheerily "Certainly." I told her we have spoken to a different person every time we called and she said that was the reason for her tell us our case had been assigned and we should directly contact that person from here on out.

After the dogs put smelling salts (I hope that's what they were) under my nose and I regained conscientiousness I told her my husband had been told a totally different story on Monday.

She happily (and still cheerily) said "Oh no, you still qualify for a loan modification and I just wanted to tell you who to contact for future reference."

I am beginning to think the loan industry is run by BP.

It was the greatest phone conversation I have ever had..hands down.

I am not sure what has happened...not sure who made it happen but know that I feel like an elephant has been lifted off my scrawny shoulders and once again I only weigh 90 pounds.

When you pray, when you are loved and when you are blessed..right before the boat sinks into the foamy waters someone throws you a life vest.

Unbelievable turn of events and I am not sure who to thank...I know God had His hand in the entire time, but I wonder who else played a part? I think I have some "Thank You" notes to buy.

After I got off work tonight I drove straight to the high school to catch the "Ms. Band Camp" pageant.

The girls dress the boys in drag and they all compete for the title of "Ms. Band Camp." It was hilarious and I am so glad I got there in time to see these kids who sweated in this ridiculous heat all day sitting in an air conditioned room laughing their heads off and having the time of their lives.

I am a lucky woman. I have taken some knocks and stumbles and quite a few tumbles . I am also loved by God and a myriad of friends and family.

"When you speak from your heart and say the words your soul has only dared to whisper...That is when miracles happen."

You know you are a guard mom when you look forward to spending tomorrow in searing heat watching your child learn lessons of diligence, commitment and having the time of their young lives all at the same time. I wouldn't want to be any other place.

Thank You God...Thank You family and friends. I have never been more thankful than I am this day...this week... this hour. I turn fifty on Saturday...a few months ago I didn't know if I would even see the day.

God bless you all as I have been blessed!

Wait til tomorrow for the "Ms. Band Camp" photos...

Til next time....COTTON

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Better Day...and There's Always Tomorrow

Woke up today to many encouraging and helpful suggestions. (God bless networking.) I am a firm believer in Karma and a believer that "All's well that ends well."

Went to spend the day with Massey out on the asphalt from 9:00 til 3:00 and just felt better being with my girl and the friends I have made in this whole new "Guard World."

It was hotter than heck but we were blessed with a few breezes and wandering cloud cover.

This video is when just Massey's section performed. I never knew "Beast" was a good thing...but obviously it is and they appeared to be "Beast" in this video.

When you are fifty, it is great to be around teens. Their exuberance and exhaustion is on a collision course in 99 degree heat index and somehow the exuberance always wins out with these kids. They are resilient beyond belief. I sweated like a pig for six hours and was just sitting watching them, refilling water bottles and making sure they didn't fall out.

My worries from yesterday were replaced by worries today for these kids in incredible heat and another 12 hour day.

It is no wonder they are such champions and so feared by other guards...

When I have a bad day...I just spend a good day with Massey's guard and it all makes sense.

Work committed...have drive and desire to be the best. Give life your best effort and keep going when you feel like giving up. The end result is amazing another guard mom said to me today "Sometimes it gives you chill bumps just to watch these kids."

From the mouths of babes...I can be "BEAST" if I gotta be.

Til next time...a persevering COTTON

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Self Check Out...Is It Really Worth It?

What's the deal with self check out? Why isn't it as quick as having some clerk check you out?
Is their scanner different from ours?

Every time I go through there are multiple problems. "Please remove the last item and return it to the scanner." ... "An attendant has been notified to assist you."... "Please step away from the scanner as your brain explodes."

I ALWAYS think it will be faster. I always think that doing it myself is quicker than standing in line. Guess what? I always leave saying "I'll never do THAT again" and come back in two days and try it again.

The main reason I do it is because I was forced to have to put my family on food stamps and am embarrassed that I am using an EBT card. I don't know why I am ashamed. It is a system that I have been paying into since I was fifteen years old and took until I was almost fifty to have to use it.

I will come off of government assistance next month and can return to my favorite store and once again hear "Hey Mrs. Cotton."

It's still a sticking point with me. These self check out isles are a joke. I know they are geared for catching cheaters but they are a pain in the butt.

Does anybody else think they are a pain or am I just "Self check out deficient?"
After July I won't have to worry about them. I will never have to hear "Please remove the last item and return it to the scanner."

Til next time...a moving on Cotton

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Covering It All... Just A Vent

It's been a long week and I have lots to write about...let's start with some humor.
I work at the most wonderful restaurant I have EVER worked for. The owner's are crazy...but a good kind of crazy. A married couple that could easily be an entire season of "The Marriage Ref." They both work incredible, long hours seven days a week and I once commented to the husband that it's a wonder they weren't crazier with the hours they both put in. They welcomed me into their restaurant family at a time when I felt like I was going to seriously and literally lose it. I was desperate, I was broke and I was the mother of three children with a husband out of work.
They are my saving salvation...they were the answer to my prayers. My own family and tons of friends helped me survive but these folks gave me the opportunity to survive on my own and have given me the greatest blessing of working somewhere that realizes your potential...they give me free reign with my personality and trust me to realize when to tone it down or when to play it up.
The first month I was nervous wreck. The second month I felt a little better. By the third month I started to feel comfortable. I am in my fourth month and "Stella got her Groove back!"
I was fired from a company after 13 years of receiving merit pins , being made trainer...going above and beyond the call MORE than numerous times only to have it all snatched away once my personal life was in turmoil.
All the years of being a great server were forgotten as my life spiraled and I was suddenly considered a liability for the huge corporation that had bought out my company and was tossed to the wayside like a piece of trash ... stumbled in the wind and fell into a ditch, with my house going into foreclosure and scratching to make meager ends meet.
By the grace of God and with the help of many others...we survived. I had to humble myself and had to do things I never thought I would have to do but my family is still intact and we are still in our house.
The people I work for and with are just what I needed. I don't work for a corporate head far off in some distant galaxy that could care less about ME, but for two people that own a restaurant that is their life and their livelihood.
They know that I have been doing this for almost 33 years. They know that I will show up, pressed and clean. They know that I will push and sell their amazing product and be a part of the gears that make it all work....for THEM and ME.
I have been happier here than I have been in years. That's a lot of "Haves" but it is better to "Have" than to "Have not."
Some of the servers I work with are kids. They are good servers but they are just kids. Getting back to the picture I posted above..."Cat Dog."
Two girls that work with me are sweet girls but appear to be hooked together . They come in and if we aren't busy they don't seek out work...they seek out each other. They sit at the bar chatting or they stand in front of the computers we ring orders in on...chatting. For Pete's sake....I don't care what he said about your best friend and what happened after you left the gym. I don't care about the sale at Kohl's. Just don't talk about it in the part of the alley that I need to make drinks in or get bread out of.
One of the bartenders remarked to me that she thought she was on hidden camera just waiting to see how long it would be before she smacked them both into action ...a paid for action. We would say "Excuse me, I need the computer." Or we would say "I'm sorry do you need to make a drink or can I get these three drinks out of the soda tower while you talk about that great sale at American Eagle?"
I commented to the owner's son that they were driving me crazy...standing in the way when I was trying to get things done. He said to me right off the cuff... "Who, Cat Dog?"
OMG....He hit it right on the head.
Working with young people is nothing to me. I have three kids that can spend more time doing nothing than it takes me to cut two yards on a riding lawn mower.
What IS crazy is that I am SO stinking happy at my new job and believe it or not they seem to love me too.
Let Barb or Len see "Cat Dog" standing around doing nothing and they will wish they could unhook...and quickly.
That's what's best about working for owners and not corporate underlings.
When they see something wrong they fix it quickly. When they see something right they stick with it and stand by it.
So glad to be there and so glad they WANT me to be there.
Til next time..."Contented and Catching up COTTON"
PS If you've never seen a "CatDog" cartoon, just google it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Now THAT Was a Week!

It was a long week for everyone...the guard, the parents and the coaches. Thank goodness it all ended on a happy note.

A giant slip and slide and a pizza party.

The week had it's rough spots.

But it had it's good spots too. There are many sunburned and exhausted teens asleep in their beds now dreaming " 5.. 6.. 7.. 8."

I saw a lot of smiles and wiped away quite a few tears.

When you add 30 teens together for 12 hours a day for five days in 100 degree heat index it all equals to quite a bit of drama but the end sum is a total feeling of accomplishment and a job well done.

Spinning and tossing on the hot asphalt for hours at a time is no easy feat...even for a teen.

Some of the guard moms and dads are there the entire time the kids are. Filling coolers lugging ice chests, treating blisters, sunburns, injured body parts and bruised egos. Nobody said it was easy to have teenagers and all of us are well aware of this fact...and maybe a little more so after this week.

It was brutal heat all week...which in comparison made their brutal coach seem like a "Teddy Bear." And trust me...that means it was REALLY hot.

I was there as much as I could be and it exhausted me. I cannot imagine how the women that were there the entire time feel, but know that I for one truly appreciate what they do for all of the girl included and once again feel honored to be a part of this "Hot Mess."
I left today around 2:45 to go pay some bills and get ready for work. I swung back by the school on my way to work to drop off some things for Massey and she looked wiped out. The minute I asked her if she was okay the tears welled up in her eyes, rolling down her sun burnt cheeks and it tore me up to have to leave her and go to work. I hugged her sweaty body close to mine and told her I loved her and was proud of her for being strong.
When I got to work it beat the crap out of me...but it was a nice whooping.
I waited on five tables and walked with over $140.00. That's the kind of whooping I like (and need.)
When I went into the restroom to pee, it was like pulling up a wet swimsuit just to get my drawers back up. I know I'm fifty and suffer from hot flashes but when your underwear are soaked and it's not from wetting your know it's hot. The kitchen was at LEAST 91 degrees and I don't know how the cooks stood it in their longs pants and chef coats. It was almost like "Guard camp part two."
I didn't get off until almost midnight and was on the way to the grocery store when I noticed a message on my cell.
One of the guard mom's had sent me a text saying that Massey had gotten "Spinner of the day." She spins a flag and every day the most accomplished guard gets recognized...for flag work or whatever part they participate in.
Massey DEFINITELY needed this pat on the back and it meant a heck of a lot to me.
It's a weird world I have ended up in, this whole guard thing... but to see a group of kids make it through this past week renews my faith in the youth of today and makes me awfully glad she is my youngest.
Three more years to go and someone can put me in a home..I hope it's a nice one and they will have bird feeders outside of my window...and WI FI so I can still blog from my cranked up bed.
Do you think my kids will come visit me?
If they don't, they'll be cut out of my will and I'll just leave my LP collection and past due bills to Mr. "Slow"Lee next door. That'd be a zinger !!
Next week is band camp...guard AND the band. 8:30 AM til 11:00 PM...really looking forward to THAT.
You know what is even crazier? I kinda AM looking forward to it.
Call me crazy, you won't be the first person to.
Til next time... COTTON

Click on pics for a better view...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's Gonna Be a GREAT Day!!

Worked a double shift today and squeezed in a trip to visit Massey at the high school before her dinner break.

It still and always amazes me that my girl LOVES me. There are so many 15 year old girls (she'll be 15 in a few short weeks) that are horrified when their mother is around.

I am one blessed woman.

My daughter LOVES it when I am around her when she is at the school and I love it that she "Loves" me to be there.

What greater blessing can a mom have than having teens that aren't mortified by their appearance when they are with their peers?

I came home from work tonight to find my 18 year old son in the garage with two other hooligans I have never met. He introduced me to them both and I said "Hi."

Zach said "You need to shake their hand and say hello, Mother."

I told Zach I was in a hurry to give his dad gas money so he could go to work but I did pause to look at the boys and say "Hello, Mother."

I got stuck at work because we were busy and another guard mom brought Massey home for me. God bless the guard moms...they are like moms to me, except they are all about 20 years younger than me and sometimes see more of my daughter than I do.

It's a great feeling when you know your kid is watched out for and always taken care of when you can't be there. Massey loves them's a mutual "Lovefest" that I couldn't live without at this point in my life.

My life has been a test the last year...but my siblings, my old friends and my new friends have been the saving salvation in an otherwise excruciating time in my almost half a century on this planet.

"Make new friends but keep the old..."

What a pleasure to know that you have friends...what a relief and what a blessing they all are.

I was talking to my sister tonight telling her about guard camp and how hot it was for the kids. I told her I soaked Massey's bandanna in ice water yesterday to keep her cool and she mentioned that a good friend of hers (once again proving the friend theory) had given her a bandanna that had beads in soak it in water and put it in the freezer and "BAM" you have an ice pack for your forehead. I mentioned to her that I needed to get Massey a "Mr. Magoo" know, one with a floppy brim. Massey had borrowed one yesterday from one of the wonderful parents that seem to love my daughter like I do.

My sister told me she still had my father's Mr. Magoo hat that he wore when he played tennis or went to the beach with us. That's where the above picture comes in.

My Diddy (that's what we call him) has been gone from this world since 2002.

As the one year anniversary of the twin towers being brought down by terrorists came around I was watching him die from West Nile virus in a hospital with my brother and sister.

We laughed and we cried and we grew closer than we have ever been. What is strange about losing a parent is the fact that it somehow brings you all together. It bonds you in a way that you can never forget and makes you realize...a little late (for your own conscience) that you have been blessed with having been raised by exceptional parents and so many people aren't as fortunate.

I am getting up early to meet my sister before guard camp.

Massey will be wearing her "Grandpa's" hat..she will have a bandanna that holds ice and she will have a Mom there all day to look out for her, encourage her and give her sweaty butt a hug when she needs it.

You know what? It is a great thing to be a parent when your kids still love you in their teens and don't mind showing it.

One of my dear "New" friends wrote me tonight and said "Massey was glowing yesterday that her momma was there."

How can you beat THAT feeling?

Kids..they can kill you but they can make you unbelievably proud at the same time. How in the heck do they do that? You know, I don't really care as long as the proud part wins over the "Kill" part.

Grandpa's hat for luck and my sister's headband for cooling comfort. Me at the school all day and my girl happy that I am there...It is gonna be a GREAT day!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer In The Sun

What a stinking long day...and I mean literally "Stinking." Today was my day off and I spent it on and off at the school with Massey.

The picture to the left is of their coach perched in the tower drilling the troops.

I didn't get there til after noon and the asphalt was already smoking hot and the guard had already been hard at work since 9AM.
I stayed for a while and went home to let the dogs out and go vote for the person I thought would lie to us the least ...boy, talk about a hard decision!

I'll have to hand it to these kids, it was breeze no shade just the sun pounding down on them and their coach pounding from up above as well.

They broke for dinner at five and it seemed to be getting hotter by every minute.

They eat inside the school (with no air conditioning) sitting in the hallway outside the band room.
If you've never sat in an un air conditioned hallway with 30 kids who have been out in the heat for 8 hours all eating different smelling foods and all having sweaty bodies and even worse smelling feet, I'm here to tell you it is an aromatic delight(NOT.)
Somehow they keep their spirits up. They laugh and joke and are an eclectic bunch that all have a common goal..."To be the best."
I hate that I have had to miss so much of it due to our circumstances but enjoyed being back a part of them today.
I think it meant the world to Massey for me to be there today. I thought it was hot working in the yard (I did sneak home for an hour and cut the back yard ) but just watching them drill, twirl and spin out on the hot pavement of the parking lot was excruciating for me. I felt like I was melting just sitting on the sidelines. I am more a "Doer" than a "Watcher" and I could see the toll the heat was taking on many of the kids...who were all "Doing" while I just "Watched."
After my long day (which I am SURE was MUCH longer to the kids) I have a whole new respect for what these kids are doing. They are pushed hard by a coach that was hired to make them the best guard...not to be their best friend. He is brutal at times and on occasion is ridiculous...PERFECT for dealing with teens in my book.
Life around my house is slowly (very slowly) getting back to normal...well as normal as it gets for us.
I wish I had more time to commit but as we forge ahead on the path to recovery I am finding little snippets of time to spend with the guard and my off days to re connect with this wonderful program my daughter has chosen to be a part of. I sometimes feel awkward because I can't be at every practice and every event but the parents that ARE at every function seem to genuinely care for Massey in my absence and have all taken wonderful care of her when I couldn't be there.
What a great thing it is to have a young teen want to be part of such a hard but rewarding organization. She could be sitting on her duff texting all day or on the computer but she chooses to "get out there" and be a part of something bigger and more challenging than she has ever done in her almost 15 years on this Earth.
It's called motivation. It's called commitment. It's called teamwork. It's called a lesson in life.
I couldn't be prouder of these kids and I admire every one of them for their dedication and desire to be the best they can be.
No wonder they win so many competitions. To win you have to compete. To be a competitor you have to have dedication and determination .
To me these are the greatest life skills these kids will ever learn and seeing them do it at such a young age gives me hope for our future.
The teens we are raising are our future, pure and simple.
Below is a short video of them learning the first movement of their new show. Only two days into camp and I think they look pretty good .
Have a day off tomorrow because I work a double shift at work but I will be back on the asphalt on Thursday. Being around these kids is an incredible feeling .
Til next time...COTTON

Be sure to click on the pics and video...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Long Day, Hot Day...Good Day

Massey started guard camp today...12 gruelling hours.
It starts at nine in the morning and ends at nine at night. They start with a mile run and move on to drill on the asphalt parking lot of the school and practice in the gym that has NO air conditioning...I would almost rather be outside where you could catch a possible breeze.

I took a case of water to the school and came home after going to the bank...going back to the John Deere store to find out the idiot who I thought had given me the wrong blade was right ...guess I'M the doofus. MY BAD, but I actually got the blade on all by myself.
Once I had it on I didn't have a socket wrench so my sweet next door husband did it for me. Actually I called him first just to ask to borrow a socket wrench and he said to bring the bolt over and he would give me the right size socket.
I did that, and gently led him out of his garage carrying his socket wrench in my hand chatting him up the entire time and eventually ended my intense conversation with him as we walked into my garage where Johnny sat propped up on one side waiting for my next door husband to "Do his thing."
God bless him ...he never even mentioned he had been duped but laid on his back and tightened my new blade onto Johnny (after treating the thread to the bolt with some kind of magic goop.)
The instructions I had read mentioned something about that "goop" but I felt like it was more a suggestion than an instruction and had already decided I would skip that step.
God bless a "next door husband."
Luckily (for him) it didn't take three minutes to put the blade on and at least I knew it was on RIGHT.
After he left (and probably blocked my cell # from his) I cranked ole Johnny up and heard the horrific sound of my brand new blade hitting the decking...shooting sparks out. I quickly turned it off and went inside disheartened.
I went back into my garage ten minutes later and tried one more time..."DING DING DING DING." It was excruciating to hear and after turning the mower off again I went into the kitchen where MY husband sat paying bills.
He said "Did you think it was going to magically fix itself?"
I went to plan #2. Called my brother in law and asked if he would do a drive by on his way home from the airport and fix the "Dinging."
God bless him too (I may be on three '"God bless" by this point) he came by after I had already left for work and worked (or banged) out all the kinks. Seems I bent the decking when I was plowing through Mr. "Slow"Lee's yard .
Johnny's fixed and I couldn't be happier.
Working at the "SWEAT FEST" tomorrow at the school during guard practice. Then coming home to jump on Johnny like stink on poop.
Gotta get me one of those Coal Miner's hats and I can cut grass at night too.
It sounds crazy (unless you're me) but having my JD running great is one of the things that makes me the happiest.
"GO Johnny GO."
"TILL" no more or should I say "Till -No" mower next time...COTTON

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Is This a Normal Person's Life?

It's no wonder I have a blog.

More can happen to me in a 24 hour period than happens to most people in a year. I'm not saying it's all just ALL seems to happen to me, my kids or dogs or to something I own.

I went to the John Deere place today to buy a new blade. The same guy that gave me the wrong air filter 3 times was at the desk so I should have known better than to think the blade I carried back out to my car was the right one. He DID have the right air filter so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and took the blade with me.

Let me start with saying before I EVER went to the JD store I wrote down my model number, the VIN number and measured my old blade that was still crumpled and attached to my mower. He never even looked at the piece of paper (I guess because he's such a Pro at his job.)

When he handed me the box my first words were "This is too long." He said with confidence "The box is longer than the actual blade." Having made 3 trips just to get an air filter I opened the box and the blade fit snug against the ends of the box.

I felt like saying "Strike Four ya big doofus." I tried to make myself think that maybe with all my "NASCARing" on Johnny I had worn the blade down two inches. I KNEW better, I wanted to protest but he was so apologetic about the air filter that I talked myself into believing him.

I got home and the stinking blade was two inches wider than the stinking deck on the mower. Shall I say "DOOFUS" one more time?

I took the blade back and discovered he had closed up shop five minutes early and I was left with a blade two inches too long. AARRGGG!!!

Not to worry! I rode across the street to Tractor Supply and tried to find the right blade. No luck...seems most JD parts are only at JD stores and I was outta luck once again.

Just for the heck of it I tried Home Depot. They only had JD blades bigger than the one Doofus had sold me.

By then it was time to get ready for work and I had to give up the fight (and search.)

At least my brother in law came over and took the crumpled blade off for me while I was at work and probably laughed at my back yard for good measure before he left.

Moving on to work.

Busy as a bee hive...I felt like I was TRULY in a cartoon . I was Wylie Coyote and all my tables were dressed as Road Runners. It was the longest two hours of my life and sweat was pouring down my back as I tried to keep the panic from showing on my face. It got hairy for a few minutes but my good friend Olive Oyl helped me and somehow I made it.

Last night was great as well...things ran smoother for me and I made a few good regulars. I had a party of six, 3 couples. They were all drinking and we enjoyed a nice humorous banter. When I was packing up their left overs (you always have left overs at Mama Lucia's...the portions are huge) one of the husbands said "You really know your stuff."

I replied my standard "I didn't go to college for my PHD in BS and put it right to work." He said I would make a great salesman and I told him I considered myself in Sales and Marketing anyway. He asked if I was a good liar and I winked at him and said "One of the best, you good looking thing." His wife almost fell out of the booth laughing and once again I knew I had found the right job working for the right people waiting on tables in an environment that perfectly suited me and my personality. I quickly apologized to the man and his wife said "Don't you dare...that was the funniest thing I have heard in a while."


I told them you have to know who to kid around with and who NOT to kid around with and they all agreed they were a table that thoroughly enjoyed it.

I feel like I got my MOJO back. Now I just need my JD back!

If something kooky or bizarre didn't happen to me within a 24 hour period...I would check my pulse and wonder if I was still alive.

At least I ALWAYS have something to write about.

BTW...every one at work is all abuzz about the cartoon blog and we have decided that there may have to be a part III.

I got a text late last night from "Olive Oyl". It read, OMG...I am cracking up reading ur cartoon blogs. I love a good laugh!! :)

Have I found the right new home or WHAT?

You just wait til the JD store opens on Monday and I rip Doofus a new one...he is giving my "baby's" parents company a bad name and besides that Johnny looks all naked without his blade.

Look for more cartoons, more JD updates and more Cotton catastrophe updates.

"TILL" next time (get it?) Cotton

Friday, July 16, 2010

Got the Back Yard All Tilled ...Now What?

Yesterday was my day off so like the idiot I am waited until 2:00 when the heat was ALMOST unbearable and set out on my trusty boyfriend "Johnny Dear.'

He's the silent type (my favorite quality in a work horse) and didn't even hesitate before turning over his "High Torque 9HP electric start...balanced... overhead valve, cast iron cylinder engine." He sounds 'BUFF' doesn't he?

I started at the front entrance of the subdivision and planned on finishing up in my own yard after cutting my neighbor Mr. "Slow"Lee's yard.

The front was a rough cut. I tend to get braver and braver every time I cut up there. One side is a steep grade and I have figured out that if I start out going straight up the hill I can swing back down and get almost to the top of the hill. This saves me a LOT of weed eating so I tend to try and cut as much as I can on the mower.

Problem is, I am a risk taker.

A couple of times the mower got stuck and almost felt like it was flipping. I would recover and say to myself "Don't try THAT again."

Ten minutes later I would work up the courage to try "One more swath around the hill" and would get that panicky feeling again. I finally decided I would just throw a few bucks Zach's way and let him do the weed eating for me.

I putted back down the street to my house and filled the weed eater with gas and filled the spool. Zach came dragging out of the house like he was headed for the electric chair, picked up the weed eater without saying a word and started walking (as slow as I have ever seen someone walk) to the front of the subdivision . I said to myself "Look at my boy walking the Green Mile."

I decided to cut my own front yard first and had made maybe 3 laps around the yard before Zach made it past my next door husband's house. I thought "At least he's going"...but he better be glad Johnny doesn't have a horn on him or I would have honked it and made the "Hurry up!" sign to Zach.

I figured it would take Zach about thirty minutes to finish weed eating since I had been such a thrill seeker on my mower and had most of the hill cut.

Ten minutes later I see Zach dragging back down the street at the flying speed of 1/16 MPH.

I thought maybe the weed eater had flooded out or maybe he just decided he didn't really need the money.

I cut my engine off and asked him what was wrong? In his usual monotone, totally bored voice he said "Nothing needed cutting."

I told him both gulley's on either side needed trimming and around the sign posts, not to mention where my dare devil hill swathing had missed.

He said "It all looks fine to're just a freak about cutting grass."

That was the end of my partner helping me. I guess he just wanted to be paid for the mileage he walked up and back from the front of the subdivision...figuring in the added stress of having to carry a weed eater both ways.

Teen agers...Not a lot of help but sometimes brutally honest (and I am NOT a freak ...maybe just a little OCD about yard work.)

I just let it go and continued on my merry "Freakish" way. I finished my front yard and moved over to Mr. "Slow"Lee's.

" WOO HOO" for me! The ole fart had gotten up at the crack of dawn and hacked down all the brush in the back of his house and cut down the weeds by his creek...creating a LOT more yard for me to cut for him for free. He'd better be glad I really like him because there were so many newly exposed rocks and holes I had never seen before that I felt like I was on a Baja adventure on a 9HP vehicle. I hit an unexpected rock and Johnny protested loudly with a "Twap twap twap twap" that didn't sound good. I cut the blade off and pulled back into my garage. The blade was bent and hitting the guard.

Mr. "Slow""Lee came waltzing over with a cigarette to see what was keeping me from finishing to cut his yard for free. I told him the blade was hitting the guard and he said (all manly) "Let me pick it up so you can see underneath." With his cig in his mouth and every vein in his neck sticking out, he lifted the 400 pound mower.

I saw where it was hitting, because my guard had been bent from HIS newly exposed rocks and tried banging it out with a hammer. After he looked like he was going into "Stroke" mode, I called Zach out into the garage to help. Mr. "Slow"Lee said we should prop the mower up on the cooler he saw sitting in the garage so we did just that. I heard something pop when they sat the mower on the small cooler but kept banging away with my hammer.

I finally got it where the blade didn't hit and jumped back on my baby to finish his yard and start on my back yard.

Once again I got that "Rebel" sense and when in my own stinking yard got too close to a stepping stone and clipped it. The "Twap" was replaced with a "Blam Blam Blam" and I looked beside me to see dirt being thrown up like I was tilling to plant corn.

I raised the blade and it didn't get any better. I stopped and got off to see a blade curled up into a smiley face and that didn't make ME very happy.

Zach came out back and said calmly as always "Why'd you keep've dug up half the back yard?"

So I am persistent too.

Now half my back yard is tilled up for no apparent reason. I finished EVERY ONE ELSE'S YARD but now half of my yard sits uncut and the other half sits PLOWED UP.

I'm going to buy a new blade tomorrow and beg my brother in law (who I KNOW reads my blog) to put it on for me.

If "Johnny" could he would break up with me. If he could he would start his own engine and run away. But lucky for me he needs ME to turn the key. He sits out back waiting for me to fix him and believe me you I will!

When he gets his new blade I will whisper into his ear (That's what I call his spark plug) and promise to be more careful. I won't try anymore steep hill climbs and will put him in low gear when cutting in new places.

"I love you, Johnny...just give me ONE more chance."

Check this video to see the destructive path I cut half way around my back yard. My friend said to plant flowers in it. That would only give my three dogs more things to eat, pee on and destroy.

I think I'll just go with a new blade and a new sense of respect for my baby..."Johnny."

Til next time...COTTON (It looks like I'm trying to plant some cotton)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cartoon Net "Work" Part Too !

No one at work seemed upset with my last post about the cartoon net"work" I work in so I'll charge ahead with some I left out the first go 'round. To the left is my friend the dishwasher. She helps out also with the food prep and has a voice that reminds me so much of Charo that I expect her to say "coochie coochie" at any given time. Not to mention she always has plenty of make up and lip stick on and platinum blond hair.

Let's move on the man that started this all for me. He looks so much like John Belushi when he starred in Animal House that it isn't even remotely funny. His disposition is the same...his demeanor is the same and the first time I asked him for a side of potatoes I thought he would deliver them to me the same way John Belushi did in Animal House. I thought he would pound both of his cheeks with his fists and spew them at me like "Here's your taters biotch."
Let's move on to another server that I love to death but who will most certainly want to kill me when I assign her likeness to Olive Oyl. She is tall, definitely slim and has jet black hair. Hey!! At least she works in an Italian restaurant...hence "Olive Oyl" can translate easily into the scheme of things.

Next up are the two cute female bartenders that are best friends and women that are truly and justly feared by their husbands (Smart men.) They make Thelma and Louise look like "Betty and Wilma" with a "Lucy and Ethel" twist.

We have a new cook. I have never seen him with his cap off, it is always the same cap and seems to be stitched onto his head. He is quiet and very efficient and a great addition to our team. I have seen him twice outside of work and he STILL had that very same cap on.

Back to our fearless leader. I had to admit to my good friend who is the owner's son that he was pretty dead on with the Mr. Magoo for his dad so I thought I would give the boss man another shout out here.
Thank the Lord he is like my husband and doesn't read my blog...but like I say "If the cartoon fits..."
I absolutely love my new job and the cartoon characters I work with. Come in to eat with me and see how many people you can match with their cartoon counter parts...AND have a great meal while you are there!
Til next time"Tooned In" COTTON

Monday, July 12, 2010

Earned My Title of "Camp Fire Girl" Again

When I was in first grade I was a "Blue Bird." That is the equivalent of a "Brownie."
After a couple of years I 'flew up' to the status of Camp Fire Girl and stayed in until seventh grade. I am still friends with several of the girls that were in my Troop.
Last night my "Camp Fire" training came in handy (NOT.)
Massey had a sleep over with several other girls. The plan was to camp out in the back yard in a big tent and roast hot dogs and make Smores over the fire pit.
My two sons dug a huge fire pit several years ago in the middle of our back yard during an industrious spurt of unasked for hard work. It is at least six feet across and outlined with bricks and large stones found back in the woods behind our house.
I came home from work one night last year to find Zach and the next door neighbor's son burning some old broken down bed room furniture of Massey's that had just been taking up space in the garage. The flames were well over twenty feet high and I immediately pulled the hose into the back yard when I saw my son and the neighbor tossing over a huge chest of drawers over the fence from my neighbor's yard into ours.
It was more a "Bon" fire pit and made me EXTREMELY nervous when they chunked the huge dresser onto the already twenty five foot high inferno.
Zach has recently cut down a small tree in the woods behind our house (I'm not sure WHY he did but I didn't bother to question him when he chose physical activity over video or computer activity.) When you have teens... I have learned it is best to never look a gift horse in the mouth.
I asked Zach if he would drag the tree into the back yard so his Dad could chop it up for the fire pit? I think adding the part about Tim doing the chopping made the deal sweeter and Zach lugged the tree into the yard.
After begging Tim to chop the tree up saying I wouldn't ask him for anything else (with my fingers crossed behind my back) he went and halfway chopped the tree. It was pretty dry so I could snap most of the smaller branches myself and the pit was pretty full of dead limbs and ready to go.
The girls hadn't pitched the tent yet...for Pete's sake it was still 90 degrees at 8:00 and I told them they'd die of heat stroke if they all squeezed into a tent before the sun went down. Instead I suggested we light the fire and do a little "Smoring."
I didn't have any kindling and Tim already had the fire pit full with the tree so I tried a piece of newspaper stuck in the middle. The dry leaves burned up quickly but the fire didn't catch.
The girls were sitting on the back deck at the patio table by the kitchen door unwinding coat hangers in anticipation of their "Smoresfest."
I went into the garage to see if I had any lighter fluid left (of course not) so chose instead about a cup of gasoline.
I guess by now you can see where this story is headed...
The girls were all far away from the fire pit...I was out in the middle of our huge back yard and kind of spread the gasoline around pretty evenly for an even burn.
I lit a piece of paper and stepped back as I tossed it into the middle of my fire pit.
The atom bomb that went off would have been impressive if it hadn't scared the living poop out of me and even made my hair blow back from my astonished face.
After checking to make sure I still had eye brows I turned to the girls who were all, for once quiet and speechless and said "I guess we have ignition."
I made a mental note to buy more lighter fluid and dragged the hose into the back yard.
I looked at the back kitchen door and saw my husband standing behind the glass shaking his head back and forth slowly as if to say "And you call ME stupid."
Once the fire died down the girls all came out into the yard with their marsh mellows on wires and I told them "They may taste a little unleaded but I don't think they will kill you."
When I went inside to change my underwear I asked my husband if he heard me light the fire pit... he said he not only heard it but it shook the house.
I guess I know now why gas is almost $3.00 a gallon. That's some powerful crap!
The girls all had a ball and enjoyed seeing me set off an atomic bomb they could admire from afar and I learned why I always kept kids FAR away from me while trying to light a fire.
The girls never even set foot in the tent...they would have died from heat exhaustion it was was so hot last night but opted for Rock Band in the living room til well after 2 in the morning after sending me on a midnight run to the convenience store for more Cokes, Skittles and Almond Joys.
So I AM a little stupid...but at least I know enough to keep every one else out of harm's way while I attempt to make my children Motherless.
Guess I didn't shine as a Camp Fire Girl last night but I was a hit as the entertainment and as a bonus discovered I may have Bladder control problems.
All's well that ends well...and the sleepover didn't end til 4:30 this afternoon.
How funny can things be to a group of 14 and 15 year old girls? By the sounds I heard until well after 3 in the morning...they must be pretty hilarious.
They all had fun and I dodged death.
I'd call that a successful evening.
Til next time..."The Flame Thrower."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Cartoon World I Work In

Let me start off by saying I absolutely LOVE my new job and all of the people I work with and for. We have a little game that a few of us like to play...assign an employee to a cartoon character or TV personality that best fits their look, actions or demeanor. I'll take the first hit...I am DEFINITELY Sonic the Hedgehog. Personality wise and "Hair wise."

Next up is my dear friend who is the owner's son and a chef that can kick #@%. He is hands down "Quick Draw" with the Latino cook who is as crazy as they come as his side kick "Baba Booey."

Next up is another cook who I used to work with as a manager at my old place. He has recently left for another job but hands down was "The Brain" after a hard long shift with his shaved head and childish face.

Moving on to the servers...Leonard (I don't think he'll mind me using his name) is so dead on as "The Pink Panther" that it isn't even funny. A tall guy that is slick and sleek. He knows his job well and never seems to be in a hurry but gets everything done with seemingly no effort or panic.

Next up is our boss..the owner. He is SO Dr.Evil that Mike Meyers should pay HIM . In his chef's coat he looks the part and when he gets upset he LIVES the part. His son told me to use Mr. Magoo...I think I will stick with Dr. Evil.

Next is another cook that has the attitude and build of Patrick the starfish. He never gets upset, is always nice and congenial and is one of the most pleasant people I have ever met. I don't think Patrick has any enemies...neither does our cook.

Moving over into the dish area we have our "Mickey Mouse." A cute Latino with huge ears and an even bigger heart. Always happy and always ready to help.

Then we move back to servers and meet Irona. She is a robot. You could come up behind her with a knife and draw it back and she would politely say "Am I in your way?" Nothing rattles her and it is hard to imagine her running or being in a hurry. She just takes life as it comes and rolls with it's punches.

We covered the "Professor" in my last blog but his title is quite befitting. He is smart and has guaranteed me that he can make a battery out of a coconut if the need arises.

Back to servers..this gal recently got a bob hair cut that looks so much like Dora I feel like saying "Swiper no swiping" ever time I see her.

It's just a's just a way to fill the down time. It's also one of the greatest games I've ever joined.

Think about people in your own life. Think about who they seem like and who would be a character they represent.

Maybe I'll do my family next!

Let's see...I know my father in law is Mr. Burns (from The Simpson's) and my dogs are Larry, Curly and Moe. My husband is more like Mr. Magoo than my boss except that he isn't rich and sleeps like Rip Van Winkle.

I'll have to work on this...don't get me wrong, it's already in the works...

Til next time..."Sonic."