Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another Day in My Life...

So this is the way it started...

My baby Johnny, lost a bolt that holds his decking onto his frame and of course they had to order it. The bolt came in along with the steel cotter pin to hold it in place.

Like an idiot I asked Tim to help me. He has NO patience for anything resembling or sounding like "repair work."

I thought I could do it myself except that Johnny weighs at least 400 pounds and the bolt had to be put on his tender underside. I got the bolt in but for the life of me couldn't find the hole for the cotter pin. I got out my compact mirror that I use to sop up grease on my face between double shifts and shimmied my way under Johnny looking for the hole to insert the cotter pin.

Unfortunately I asked Tim to help...Problem #1.

He gets frustrated so easily as whereas I get pumped up thinking "I KNOW I can do this."

Problem #2 Mr. "Slow" Lee gets involved.

After thirty minutes he told me to go next door and ask our neighbor Mr. 'Slow' Lee to come help. I didn't want to but I wanted that cotter pin in so badly I gave in and asked him to come over. After about six tries he said "I'll be right back." I am assuming he went back next door to pound down another Budweiser and then he came back with a five inch piece of a wire coat hanger.

He said we had the bolt in and he could just twist the piece of coat hanger through the hole and pinch it off.

Seems to me if you could secure the bolt with a piece of wire why would they bother to include a STEEL cotter pin to hold it in place... But who am I to bitch?

DON'T YOU DARE SAY IT...(Tim already did.)

I just felt uneasy about taking a short cut...I had already spent about $100.00 on a new tire, air filter and blade and we were talking about short cutting the entire decking that holds the whole cutting part together.

If it had been THAT easy, the guy at the JD store would have said "Here's your bolt, just put it in and snip off a piece of a wire coat hanger and thread it through the hole and you're good to go!"

I just let it go.

I decided to cut my own lawn first since I know every nook and cranny of it. I moved on to Mr. "Slow" Lee's yard as he gawked over the back of his truck bed at me as if to say "See little gal...I'm a smart one."

I am taking my mower over to the OTHER side of my house tomorrow to my next door husband and beg him to help me put the cotter pin in.

Picked Massey up from school between cuts and asked Zach to take her to practice at 5:00 so I could cut our back yard.

I DO NOT let him back out of or pull into the garage. The first day he got his learner's permit I let him attempt to pull in the garage and he gave my Passat the only dent it has. He scraped the whole side and bent the frame on my garage. I was on the mower today when he jumped in the car and said he could back out.

I jumped off and said I would back the car out. He was in the driver's seat and assured me he could do it. I told him my car was the last running vehicle we had and I was going to back it out.

Zach already had the car in reverse and simply pulled up the emergency brake and got out. I used my freaked out voice and said "PUT THE CAR IN PARK !"

He acted like it was no big deal and said "I have the emergency brake on."

I jumped in the car and put it in park, immediately letting the car rev down from trying to back up with the parking brake on.

How am I supposed to deal with people trying to short cut my JD, tear my car up and give me a stroke all at the same time??? YOU TELL ME.

Johnny made the cut (I'll have him fixed right tomorrow) Zach made it back in my car with no visible dents and I managed to cook them all a home cooked dinner. Smoked pork chops, home made macaroni and cheese, baked beans and deviled eggs.

After dinner I HAD to vacuum. When you have three dogs, it is like living in a dust (Fur) bowl. Thank the Lord they are all short haired. My vacuum cleaner broke it's belt and I didn't have the right one, but acting like Mr. "Slow" Lee I made one fit that I had from my old vacuum and cleaned the heck out of the first floor of the house. I vacuumed corners and crevices, vents and walls. I think I saw a line of bed bugs leaving through the cracks of the downstairs door holding signs saying "Thanks a lot, Biotch...we were happy here."

I pretty much stay downstairs because the kitchen, laundry room and my computer are there. I thought I would start with my own domain and move on to the rest of the house tomorrow. It smells so great down here, so fresh and clean. My teens don't mind living in filth but I did go the extra mile and clean their bathroom.

I don't have to work until tomorrow at 4:30 so I am going to cut the front of the sub division and vacuum the rest of the house. If we aren't a living ad for Clairiton we must be an ad for SOMETHING!

I went to Kroger to buy groceries and gas tonight and the young girl in front of me at the gas station had her debit card denied. She asked the girl to run it for $10 and it got declined. She asked for her to run it for $8 and it was declined.

My heart went out to this young girl. She was just trying to buy gas.

If I hadn't just kited a check for ten dollars for cleaning supplies I would have helped her.

Instead I will say a prayer for her.

It's been a tough few years for a LOT of people and I am just one of many.

But I got my yard cut, my part of the house clean and my family fed.

Going to watch a little TV, paint my nails and get on my knees again. I have had it rough although I have had it rougher...but if my teens don't kill me and the vacuum cleaner holds up, it will be a good day.

Surprising how the little things can be such a huge part of your day.

Count your blessings...name them one by one.

A Grateful...a blessed and a CRAZY Cotton...(The crazy part helps me through)

Monday, August 30, 2010

What is This World Coming To?

I was at work tonight...thirty minutes before we closed the phone rang and I answered it. A woman on the other end paused and then asked if we were hiring.

What kind of person decides at nine o'clock at night to CALL about a job?

I told her we were always accepting applications. She paused again and finally said "Well, can I talk to her?" I asked "Talk to who?" I wasn't going to help with her very lame attempt at getting a job.

She said "You know, the owner." I told her the owner wasn't in at the moment. She asked if I could maybe have the owner call her tomorrow about a job. I said that sure I could do that. She said "Okay, thank you" and then hung up.

What part is missing here...or are there just so many that it is obvious?

She left no name...didn't KNOW the owner's name...left no phone number. I guess during the commercial break in her show she was watching on TV she thought she would fill the two minute break with a job hunt.
Do people actually think that someone is going to say "SURE we're hiring! So glad you called. Can you be here in ten minutes? We have a training class starting at ten tonight."

We laughed about that one for the rest of the night!

When I got home from work, Zach had a pile of paper work the school had given him on August 9th to bring home, have filled out and returned the next day. For Pete's sake tomorrow is August 31. He said he wasn't allowed back unless he brought the papers in all filled out and signed.

I felt like saying "No @#*& Sherlock."

I filled out the mountain of forms and corrected all his mis spellings and wrong cell phone numbers. Tim came through the kitchen to leave for work when I was on the 'dress code' sheet I had to sign. It had all the obvious "no no's. " No camouflage, no trench coats, no baggy pants. All things that would have never been included when I was in high school.

Then the last two blew me away. "No pajama tops or bottoms allowed." "No bedroom slippers allowed."

OMG...would kids go to school in their PAJAMAS? The bedroom slippers part made me laugh until Tim reminded me that Zach wore his to school last year one day. Tim crawled all over him when he saw Zach slumping off the bus in his bedroom slippers. Zach had gotten them for Christmas and defended his actions with " 'They're brand new and REALLY comfortable."

The teens of today would have NEVER made it in the seventies. They would be lost sheep wandering aimlessly, searching for a cell phone or ipod ... wondering how to use a phone booth and trying to figure out how to text with a rotary dial phone.

I guess all this modern technology is for the best and benefits us all. It just seems to me it has taken the "Thinking part" out of life and replaced it with shortcuts and acronyms.

I'd like to see a teen try and empty an metal ice tray or cook popcorn on a stove top. When I was a teen you had one transistor radio you carried with you listening to the AM radio station...and that was the extent of your personal music.

Maybe I need to get Zach some bedroom slippers with a texting device built into the soles so he can text with his toes as he slumps from class to class while trying to keep his pants up. I am worried he may be over worked and stressed out having to wear pants that fit AND hard bottomed shoes. Those horrible dictators at the high school are just TRYING to smother our kids with all these rules and regulations...I hope they can survive. NO...Wait a minute, I meant I hope "I" survive!

Til next time "The mom of two oppressed teens" COTTON

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dealing With the Public is NEVER Dull

This is a picture of the Parmesan cheese shaker we use at work. A nifty little grater(about six inches tall) that we take to tables with entrees. We grate the cheese in the kitchen and take it out to shake on the various dishes.

I was working lunch today and took another server's food to her table. I sat the grater down first so I could place the entrees in front of the two guests. I asked the woman while picking the grater up if she would like fresh Parmesan? Most people comment on what a cool shaker it is but this woman replied "OH, I thought that was a cell phone."

You know me, I held up one finger and said "wait a minute." I held the shaker up to my ear and said "Hello?" I held the shaker out to her and said "It's for you." Her husband cracked up. She took it pretty well and said that it looked like an older cell phone.

Number one: What kind of a sever is going to take their cell phone (new OR old) WITH them to a table, much less sit it down on the customer's table while they deliver food?

Number two: As long as she thought it was my phone I thought I'd go ahead and answer it .

When I went back in the kitchen and told another server, she said people had said that to her before...some even said they thought it was a remote control. I told her she should have pointed it at the guest and acted like she was trying to push a button and say "It is, but I'll be darned ... the mute button isn't working."

We all got a good laugh over that one. Basically I am there as entertainment for the staff and do my job quite well, if I may say so myself!

I swear I hear more crazy stuff from the public than could fill a book. Actually I am hoping to write a book one day, full of my stories and experiences.

When I worked for Longhorn I had four little ladies at my table one time who asked me what the "Vegetable melody was?" ( One of our side dishes was a vegetable medley.)

In a cute little tune I made up on the fly... I sang brightly "Broccoli, carrots zucchini and peas!" The older woman didn't bat an eye but said matter of factly "I'll have that."

It's never dull waiting on the public...sometimes it can be frustrating but more often it can be extremely entertaining.

Like the time at my old restaurant when we had two shrimp appetizers we were instructed to push like crazy for the guests to buy. I told a nice couple about both of them... and asked which they would like? The husband said cheerfully "Why don't you surprise me?" So I quickly came back with "Alright...I'm pregnant with your baby." His wife was taking a sip of her margarita as I surprised him just as he had asked and it shot straight out of her nose like a comedy sketch.

Be careful what you ask for!

It is never dull waiting on the public...especially if you're at MY table!

Til next time...COTTON

Saturday, August 28, 2010

If Life is a Test...I Didn't Study Hard Enough

A friend of mine used to have a tee shirt like this and I always loved it...of course that was before the big "Cotton Crash" of 2009.

In the last year I have learned more lessons about life that I ever thought were possible. I have learned how to send prayers up quicker than texting with "word" and learned how to patiently wait for answers seemingly coming "snail mail."

I have learned that the world IS round and "what comes around goes around" is not a saying but a fact of life.
I have learned that people seem to enjoy me pouring my heart out for them to read and that empathy can be very consoling .
I have learned that Prayer is an often under rated tool by many.
I have learned that a lot of things my Mother said to me in my youth weren't as stupid as I thought they were when she said them.
"The more you give, the more you get."
"The older you get, the smarter I will seem."
"You don't have to say you love me, I know you do."
The tide seems to be changing...slowly but surely.
I received a comment about one of my blogs today and she said that she tries not to read my blog daily because she gets sucked into my life. She meant it in a nice way and went on to say that I have taught her to have a sense of humor no matter what happens ...it can't hurt and often helps.
If having a sense of humor helps, I oughta be a millionaire. I'm not, but I am a person that can laugh at myself and my circumstances. Sometimes if you don't laugh you'll break down and cry... crying makes my eyes and face all puffy and really isn't my best look. I am already fifty and quickly going gray...puffiness in the facial area isn't going to get the bills paid and if I am going to be broke, it will be with a smile and a sense of humor.
I don't think the evil monster "Wells Fargo" can deny our loan modification, stipulating that I was "too funny" for the program. If they do, I'll just sue them for "humor bias" and hire Wanda Sykes to represent me.
Life appears to be getting back to normal. We're still late on a lot of things...but as my Mother ALSO said "Better late than never."
My husband still sweats every problem, call and letter.
A BIG thank you goes out to him for being the 'Realist' leaving me to be the comedic relief.
HEY! We're a team..what can I say?
What IS important is that we ARE a team. I've been with Tim since I was 28 years old. We have been through some rough times and granted this has been the "MO FO" of them all. But we are still together, our kids are healthy and driving us nuts (that means they are normal) and have made it this far and discovered how much we are loved.
It may sound sappy...it may sound weird, but what comes to my mind is the song from "The Sound of Music." Massey, my sister and I know ALL the words to the entire soundtrack and could put on a play for you if we COULD sing. Okay, Massey CAN sing..but I don't think she'd get on board.
This sums up how I feel about the past year. It tells you that if I hadn't had the parents I had, if I hadn't been raised in a wonderful home environment...I wouldn't be the person I am today and wouldn't have the blessings of love coming at me from so many directions and so many hearts.
"Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth.
For here you are, standing there loving me
Whether or not you should.
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good.
Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could.
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good."
I am blessed with a wicked sense of humor...without it I would had given up months ago. My God, my family and my friends and even readers have seen me safely to the other shore. It's a rocky shore... but a place where we can regain our footing and begin to rebuild, regroup and hope to one day pay forward.
I have decided to go viral with my blog...maybe upload it to Youtube. Now you can not only read my drivel but see me reading it aloud...I promise NOT to sing!
Til next time...COTTON

Friday, August 27, 2010

Usher Said It Best "OMG"

So I may be dragging some of you into the world of my teen age girl with this title. Usher, who for some bizarre reason reminds me of a black Leon (my restaurant's owner's son) has this song out..."OMG."

My husband hates this type of music (he can be such an ole fart) but it has been pounded into my head like "Pow Pow Pow" and although I don't have "Boobies like Wow oh Wow" I like the song and love me some Usher.

I did just what I do best today...crammed all of yesterday into the first three hours of today. I left a little hanging but will scoop that up tomorrow and throw it into the mix to catch myself up to speed.

Took Zach to school today, made sure he walked through the doors and scratched off to the Dept. of Human Resources... a place I hate to go but that has saved my skinny butt and helped me out tremedously. Then I headed to the bank. When I checked online this morning before I left the house I had 48 cents in my account. I was impressed once again with my slick banking skills. I was 49 cents away from a $36.00 overdraft fee and it seemed like an omen to me. "Today is going to be my lucky day."

Tim was hanging his head at the kitchen table before I left for work saying that we were $300 short for the bills he had to write this week. I told him I had 48 cents in my checking account and he was welcome to every penny of it. (God bless him for loving a smart ass.)

Scratched off again...five minutes til I clocked in at work. Made it, had a good lunch and once again scratched out of the parking lot to go back to the DHR to finish paper work and get my review in under the wire.

Never before in my fifty years have I even KNOWN where a DHR office is or what it was even for. Now I am on a name to name basis with them and grateful to God to be so.

Moving on to my kid's insurance...had to fax copies of our pay stubs because their PeachCare was up for review. Today was the last day but "Pow Pow Pow" I had it all ready to fax.

I was feeling so puffed up with pride about getting it all done that my chest probably looked like "Wow oh Wow."

Zoomed back to work...It started with a party of sixteen that turned out to be ten, but it was an extra twenty in my pocket.

We had a wedding rehearsal party of 60 that took up most of the dining room at 8:00. I wasn't on that but took all the extra tables that spilled over.

A wonderful friend of mine (from LHORN) I haven't seen in years got seated at my table with her Dad. I feel a bond with her because she lost her Mother around the same age I was when I lost mine and went own to put herself through Ga. Tech and landed a great job with GT. She travels the world and does all the amazing things I knew she was destined for. We hugged and it was great to see her again.

The first words out of her mouth were "I am a religious reader of your blog." Number one, that means she gets a free dessert or appetizer! They chose dessert and after she left I was BLOWN away by her tip. This precious girl helped me cover the bills we had written checks for and since I am working the rest of the weekend, will put us ahead for the first time in a while.

I felt like telling that 48 cents in my bank account "Take THAT to the bank, Bi- otch."

We still have a LONG way to go. We still have a lot of ground to make up...but with the love that pours out to us from friends, family and even strangers...my life seems to be more "Pow Pow Pow" than "Why Why Why?"

Yes I crammed it in. I waited til the last minute...but now I know why.

God let me have a day of rest and then he blessed me beyond belief.

Am I lucky? Heck yeah...Am I blessed? Beyond my wildest dreams.

I got off around 11:30 and headed straight to the high school to pick Massey up from the ball game.

She was grumpy, tired and in a bad mood. I wanted to shake her shoulders and tell her how blessed we were. Then I stopped myself and thought...she's just a kid.

It's not her fault...although it's not our fault either. I just want my kids to be happy but have learned that even money can't make a teen age girl happy. A teen age boy is even a harder case for the "Happiness Effect."

What matters most is that "I" know how lucky we are and how much we are blessed.

It was a crazy stinkin' day... but I managed to cram it all in. I will wake up tomorrow and cram it all in again.

When you are a parent it is incredible what you can manage to do. When your kid's and friends that love THEM are involved, it is incredible what can happen .

I'll be on my knees tonight (again) and back up with the morning sun.

I've been beaten down but I have also been raised up. I have felt like there was no answer at times, to find that someone else has given me the gift of not only breathing room but the gift of fresh air.

My tears are genuine...my soul is bursting...my life is full. My thanks are endless and I seem to have a lifetime of paying it forward in front of me...What a wonderful thing to have sitting in front of you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Taking a Mental Health Day Sure Feels Good.

I got up at 8:30 and took Zach to school. Came back home and decided since it was my day off I would go back to sleep for a hour.

When I woke up at 11:00 I was more tired than when I had decided to sleep one more hour. Tim wasn't home from work yet and the dogs promised not to tell on me if I didn't kick them off the bed so we all hung out in bed together. May as well wait on the noon news to come on and see what the weather was going to do. It's so easy to justify being lazy when there are only dogs to explain it to.

Fixed me a big glass of chocolate milk and settled back in.

Tim came home from work and took one look in the bedroom at us and went into Zach's room to sleep.

Noon came and went and the longer I was in bed the longer I wanted to stay in bed. I think the dogs were actually encouraging me not to get up and being the dog lover I am, I listened to them.

When 2:00 rolled around I thought I might feel like getting up but told the dogs I'd give it til 2:30 to see if the urge passed. Around 2:30 I decided it was time to re start my day. Made a chicken sandwich and started some laundry. After that I was exhausted so I decided to take it easy until I had to go pick up Massey at 3:30. No need to push myself unnecessarily.

I can go days, sometimes weeks with 5 hours sleep a night. Then one day it just hits me like a ton of bricks and I have to take a mental health day. Today was one of those days.

After picking Massey up I decided to kick it into gear and go cut the neighbor's yard. When I pulled Johnny out of the garage his decking was scraping the ground on one side and I got that "UH OH" feeling again. I hopped off to find one of the bolts holding the decking to the frame had come out. I looked for it but I cut so much grass I really didn't know which yard to start looking in.

I rode up to the John Deere store and of course they had to order the bolt and the cotter pin. By the time I got back home it was almost time to take Massey to practice so with cutting grass scratched off my list I turned to the vacuum cleaner when I got home from the school.

Bingo...belt broke on the vacuum.

I decided at this point that it was Divine intervention on God's part and I was meant to do absolutely nothing all day...and who am I to argue with the "Big Guy?"

I did paint my finger nails...they look real pretty now.

By this point it was 5:30 and I decided to watch the news again to see if they had caught that bad guy they were looking for on the noon broadcast. "YEP, they got 'em." That was a relief so I decided to celebrate with a raspberry fruit bar and give my nails a second coat.

After the evening news at 7:00 with Diane Sawyer I finally began to feel somewhat re -energized and decided to cook dinner...a "REAL" dinner for my family. We had baked Tilapia, fresh white corn on the cob, fresh broccoli and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.

It was ready and on the table when Zach got home from picking up Massey from practice and Tim had just woke up for work.

The kids were gone all day and Tim sleeps all day anyway so my mental health day was my own little secret. They both got taken to and picked up from school and had a hot meal waiting at the end of their day.

After dinner I took Massey to WalMart to get a few things for her first ball game tomorrow night. I have to work a double and can't go, probably won't even have time to come home between shifts so I wanted to make sure she had every thing she needed. We didn't get home til almost 11:00.

I just ironed a work shirt for tomorrow and now I think I'll reward myself with a glass of iced tea with fresh lime and some chips and dip.

Tim's gone to work, the kids are in bed and it's back to just me and the pups.

Although I got nothing done, it has been one of the most rewarding days I have had in weeks.

You know what's really crazy is that I could crawl right back into the bed right now and probably fall asleep in a few minutes.

I had so many things planned but my motto today was "Why do anything today when you can just cram it all into tomorrow?"

Til next time...a relaxed and refreshed COTTON

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wallowing in My Own Technology Stupidity

So I thought I was pretty good at this whole new technology scene.

That would be a big fat "You so Stupid Girl."

I have tried for a week to make a DVD of my cousin's memorial service. I went to Best Buy and bought a stack of 20 DVD-R discs. Came home thinking how cool it would be to make copies of the great uplifting send off my cousin had, instead I have been wallowing around like my bull dog Charlie in this video clip...making a lot of noise but producing nothin' worthwhile.

I downloaded a free software program from image burn and FINALLY got it burned onto a disc but couldn't open it on my computer. Zach assures me it is on there and I can see where a third of the disc has SOMETHING burned into it.

I got an email tonight from a dear friend of my cousin's that blew the roof off of Shad's service. Funny, emotional and so on the mark that I went up to him after the service and told him we needed to get aquainted because HE was going to speak at my own memorial (which will be called "Kelly's Final Roast with a Toast.") My brother, who is the funniest person I know and love will be the 'emcee' and will only have one minister speaking (of my choosing) with absolutely NO one singing...but maybe a few of my favorite songs being played. Hope no one objects to "Creep" by Radiohead...we'll bleep the "F" word , "American Pie" by Don McLean or "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by the Stones.

I think that I finally successfully burned the service and am just too much of a DOOFUS to know what to do with it.

I emailed a friend of Shad's tonight telling her I would mail her all of my attempts and see what she can do with them.

When I saw Charlie rolling on the floor growling like someone was torturing him, I thought "That's how I feel trying to burn this DVD. " Am I stupid or just old?"

Til next time "Granny Cotton."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Auto"Blog"raphy of a Waitress & Mom: Ready For a Day Off..But Only One !

Auto"Blog"raphy of a Waitress & Mom: Ready For a Day Off..But Only One !


Ready For a Day Off..But Only One !

The last week has passed in a blur. Starting with the sudden death of my cousin and the memorial... right into a huge family reunion and continuing with Massey's birthday and Zach's driving quiz (I mean exam.)

Tim and I had a falling out last week which ended up with him not speaking to me for almost a week (not that he talks much anyway so it was hard to notice.)

We have been using my checking account since he lost his job and sometimes we get our wires crossed. Not that I am that good of a banker, but DO pride myself on my kiting abilities and skills. He had mailed a check to the power company and I wasn't exactly aware of when and stopped by Kroger with my debit card to get $6.00 of gas. I am also very proficient with my gas gauge and know that six bucks can get me back and forth to the high school three times and back and forth to work for two days.

Needless to say the check hit before I stopped at Kroger and I ended up paying $42.00 for six bucks worth of gas. He was madder than I have seen him in a while and even HIS old standby quote "I can't change the past" didn't work. I guess I'll have to come up with my OWN standby quote... I think it will be "My Bad."

Tim said they probably have a framed picture of me on the wall of Bank of Coweta touting me as their most profitable customer, enabling them to open yet another new branch location where I can easily help them expand their business even more. I am hoping they will call the new branch "Bank of Cottoneta."

So it was a terrible goof...totally my fault. No one felt worse than me. It wasn't like I was buying a six pack, it was GAS! Anyhoo, another lesson learned.

Tim opened his own bank account on Saturday, so I'll just let myself think I helped him move on. A wife's gotta do what a wife's gotta do. Isn't Tim lucky to have a wife that encourages him to strike out on his own? That Tim's a lucky man to have a wife that will waste $36 just to say "You can do it yourself, baby!"

Now that our money is separate it will be much easier and I won't have to second guess what bills he paid. He finally came around yesterday and started talking to me via the dogs. He would say "There's your momma, y'all love her don't ya?" That's as good as an apology gets when you are in the boat we've been in for the past year. It's come down to us talking through our mutts. I'll say when I leave "Tell your daddy to feed y'all and give you fresh water...I'm going to work a double shift."

I feel like saying "Tell your daddy the last year has sucked like a tootsie pop but maybe the next year will be all gravy train." Or "Be nice to daddy, he's still mad at momma...tell him I love him after I leave, but wait til he gives you fresh water with ice cubes in it."

I am not, amazingly enough.. . ashamed of our current circumstances. It isn't because we were lazy or deadbeat. It is because we had some tough things happen that we had no control over and have done the best we can. By the grace of God and many friends and family we are on the right track. It's just that life didn't stop because our income took a severe hit. We still have kids and a mortgage and bills to be paid.

The mortgage company is still bouncing back and forth.."Foreclose/work with you." I have taken the stance "Come TRY to take my house." They have cashed my check (which clears, sometimes on the second try) for the past three months and for the life of me can't imagine they would want another vacant house to sit unoccupied and unattended only to fall into despair and neglect.

I have a GREAT job now ; Granted it is the slowest season for the restaurant industry but it is picking up every week and I will be back on top in a month. Tim has a new job where they are already training him to be a supervisor. Massey has guard moms helping us out with rides to and from practice. Zach has entered the workforce (Whooda thunk it) and all seems to be working out in our favor.

"HANG ON...HANG ON...HANG ON." Maybe THAT should be my new standby quote!

At least I am a COTTON...sometimes Cotton shrinks, but it is a durable and tough fiber to be made of. Add to it I am originally a Leach...maybe one letter off, but can suck the life out of any situation and keep myself alive from the lifeblood of others and the love that seems to flow into my family from so many directions.

Til next time..."Durable Cotton."

BTW...check out my restaurant website... www.Mama-lucias.net

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Welcome to the REAL World

Zach looks good doesn't he? Thank goodness he never reads my blog!

He came in at 3PM and is still there (I think.) It was hard to see behind the six foot pile of dirty saute pans and stock pots that were stacked around the dish area.

I think today was an eye opening experience for him.

Dishwashers are highly underpaid in my opinion. I had a two hour break between shifts and ran a few errands. Tim dropped him off at the restaurant and he began his new job.

Thank goodness it was relatively a slow shift. The other dishwasher called out so it was the "Zach Solo" show. I came back to work at five and the first question he asked me was "What time is it?"

I'll have to hand it to him, he hung in there...only broke two dishes. When the first bowl hit the kitchen floor, Barbara appeared in the doorway and calmly said "That sounded like a $20 bowl." When the second smaller dish hit the floor Len calmly (believe it or not) said "Slow down and take your time, we have all night."

Around seven Barbara got one of the cooks to make Zach some Chicken Marsala and let him stop and eat in the back of the kitchen. He ate like he hadn't had food in a week. Once fortified he headed back to the dish area and kept on going. We close at 8:30 on Sundays and around 8:30 the dishwasher he was working for came in and helped Zach out. He's a great Latino kid that goes to school with Zach. I think one of the cooks called him and said Zach was a little behind (maybe not a little.)

When Zach saw Noe walk in, a look of HUGE relief flooded his face and he thanked Noe at least three times for coming in to help. Before Noe got there the owner asked me if Zach had to be at school at nine in the morning. I told him yes and he said "I'll just lock him in tonight and Eva can let him out when she gets here at 8:30 in the morning."

Dishwashing seems to be an easy job to every person who has never washed dishes in a restaurant. When you wash dishes in a restaurant, especially one where each and every dish is prepared and cooked to order the number of pots, pans and utensils is outrageous. Not to mention all the dishes the food is plated on and the glassware, teas urns, coffee pots and bar items.

I could tell Zach was totally overwhelmed. I could tell he was wondering how he was ever going to get caught up. I could also tell he was determined to do the job.

We closed at 8:30 and he will be lucky to get out by 11:30. If Noe hadn't come in to help...he may HAVE still been there when Eva came in at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

I know he will be exhausted but he's a youngster and can handle it. The first shift is always the hardest. He will find his groove and learn how to pick up the pace. Trial by fire is a good thing. Hope he doesn't have too much scarring from tonight's experience.

Barbara is considering making him a table buser now that he looks presentable and after tonight I bet he will want a hair cut every two weeks. Busing tables is a cake walk compared to washing dishes. She even mentioned what clothes I needed to buy for him to bus tables. I haven't told Zach yet. Let him see how hard it is to do THIS job before he moves up.

I am impressed with his dedication and it is nice to see that hounding him relentlessly for eighteen years has paid off.

I HAVE been hard on Zach...But Zach has been hard on me. I think I can finally see light at the end of a four year tunnel. And standing in that light is a fine young man with a nice hair cut and a new found respect for the working world. It ain't easy out here in the real world. It ain't easy making a buck. It ain't easy if you don't work hard unless you are born into wealth and fed with a silver spoon.

Now my man/boy knows how to WASH that silver spoon!

Til next time...A Momma so proud she could POP!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Who CAN'T Get a Driving Permit?

Zachary's appointment for his driving test finally rolled around. I was hoping they would call to make him reschedule...preferably sometime year after next. He hasn't been driving much lately...he let his learner's permit expire and didn't want to get it renewed. Guess I can't blame him, why pay for a learner's permit only to have to turn around and pay for a license as well?

I was a little nervous because he's just not that comfortable behind the wheel of a car and I am VERY nervous in the passenger seat next to him.If anyone needs my fingerprints all they have to do is dust my dashboard...there are PLENTY of prints on them.

When we arrived at the DVM I went to the far side of the lot to teach him 'last minute' how to parallel park. He had insisted he didn't need help, even though he has never parallel parked in his life. I was driving (since he didn't even have a learner's permit) and took him through it twice. "I Got It, Mom" was his curt self confident reply.

I drove over to the DMV and parked. Zach , before I had even cut the car off said "How do you turn the headlights on?" That didn't give me much reassurance since every time he went to use the blinker turned the wipers on.

I didn't say anything sarcastic (believe it or not) but simply gave him a run through of the control panel.

When he got in line he had to ask me for his social security number. I have known mine since I was 14...of course I started working when I was 14.

When his number came up on the screen and the woman started to go get in MY car with Zach for his test I bowed my head in prayer. Massey asked me what I was doing and I told her I was just sending up a prayer. I told her I sent up two...one that Zach would pass his driving test and a second that he wouldn't wreck my car.

Massey put it all into perspective when she replied "Look at it this way, if he wrecks your car he probably won't pass his test." I don't know if that made me feel better or worse.

They were gone for what seemed like two hours. I listened for sirens, even peeked out the front windows of the DMV to see if I could see anything.

Maybe ten minutes went by when I saw Zach pulling back into the lot. I told Massey not to look at them when they walked back in..if he had failed it was really going to be blow to him and I wanted to hide my relief.

Can you believe it? They took his picture (after four tries because his greasy stringy hair was in his eyes and obviously they all knew they needed a picture to accurately identify him by at a possible later date.)

As Zach waited for his permit to be printed out, I felt like going up to the woman who had ridden with him and say "You'll give a permit to ANYONE, won't you?"

They should have a huge neon sign out front saying "Stevie Wonder got his license here.!!"

I'll have to admit since he got that little card his attitude and demeanor have totally changed. He is happier than I have seen him in over a year.

One of the dishwashers at work wanted Zach to fill in for him on Sunday and I asked the owners if it was okay. They said for Zach to come in on Saturday night around 8:30, after the dinner crush and learn how to do the job . I told Zach that if he wanted to work in a restaurant...long stringy hair was not an option. The owner's wife told him when we went to eat for Massey's birthday that she had a hair net with his name on it.

I had to go into work at 5 on Saturday and had called Zach all day (he had been with his buddies since school got out on Friday) to tell him to go get a haircut. He balked at my suggestion and I finally told him "Barbara doesn't hire people that look like you do."

He called me back as I was driving to work and said "My friend is going to cut my hair for me, I'll see you at 8:30."

I don't know if that made me feel better or worse...but I just left it in God's hands.

We got POUNDED at work and I was so busy that I didn't realize when 8:30 arrived. The owner Len, came up to me and said "Who's the new kid?" His wife came up to me two minutes later and said she was impressed. I went into the kitchen to see a handsome young man with a short hair cut who resembled the child I had given birth to. Clean shaved, hair one inch shorter than mine and dressed in jeans that weren't low enough to give him a suppository on the fly.

Just when you are ready to give up on your teen...just when you think you can't take anymore of their crap...they suddenly make you proud. They make you realize all your 'supposed' bitching and complaining was really heard and that the mesage finally got through.

You want to join the REAL world? Then GET REAL.

I got off around 11:30 and knew that Zach would be there til well after midnight. Leon, the owner's son said he would give Zach a ride home.

Zach came home and said that Leon had let him drive. I am glad that Leon didn't know Zach got his license from the "Stevie Wonder School of Driving."

My boy made me proud. It's things like that...little things that make it all worth while. You have the good, the bad and the ugly in your life but you have to take it all into it's proper perspective and hope the good wins out.

Tonight it DEFINITELY did !

Til next time...COTTON

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What A Week..."So Far"

I would say tomorrow is my little girl's birthday but it is past midnight...so "Happy Birthday, Massey!"

I am so ticked...I have been trying all day to download my cousin's memorial video and it is obvious to me now that I am either an idiot or maybe possibly just DVD challenged. I bought a stack of DVD's and I am on my sixth disc with no results. There is something I am missing or overlooking but I am so exasperated with the whole thing that I finally waved the white flag (so it was just a few sheets of toilet paper) and decided to try again tomorrow (later today.)
I can be like my bull dog...stubborn and stupid but never give up.

My cousin's memorial was such a happy occasion...I know that sounds bizarre but it was one of the most uplifting memorials I have ever been to and sealed the deal concerning my decision about when my own demise rolls around and the guy in a black cape holding a sickle comes to give Tim a break from the manic idiot he married. My memorial will be a "HOOT" if I have any say about it...and I will...(small pun)... it's all on my computer for Mary Anne Salter to come over and decode for Tim. (inside joke...let's just say Tim has a hard time opening an email.)

Massey turned 15 about 50 minutes ago. My girl is upstairs snoozing in her ' hovel' of a room surrounded by dirty clothes...clean clothes...notebook paper and empty drink cups. The only reason I see those is because THEY are on top of three OTHER layers of a fifteen year old girl's room. It's like a land fill in her room. If I have to actually walk in there it's like a "Land Mine."

You never know what you are going to step on or discover if you look closely enough.

She has an appointment with her doctor tomorrow for a physical exam...maybe I can squeeze in a psychological exam as well to see how she can live in such a dump of a room and still seem to be the happiest girl on the planet. It depresses ME to just walk BY her room when her bedroom door is open.

After the exam we are headed to physical therapy for her knee if our insurance (PeachCare) approves ...another blog altogether.

Then we are headed to dinner at Massey's favorite restaurant...MY restaurant...I mean the one I work for. The owner is treating my family to dinner for Massey's birthday.

I think I'll call Len (the owner) tomorrow morning from the doctor's office and say "My family is SO excited about dinner...my sister was able to get buddy passes for my Dad's cousins in Texas and Tennessee and my other cousins are driving up from LaGrange and meeting our OTHER cousins driving down from Rabun and Lake Lanier. If they can pick up the cousins in Douglasville and swing by Sharpsburg to pick up the others before they pick up Frances in Digby, we should all be there by seven o'clock. Reserve a table for thirty just in case my two nephews show up."

Funny to write about (at least to me)...but in a couple of years when we get back on our feet and can feel some solid ground beneath them I would LOVE to do just that...Have ALL my family come eat at the wonderful restaurant I have been blessed enough to land in and enjoy the marvelous food that this "Family"...not "Corporation" puts on the table every day and pours their heart into 24/7.

Once again...HAPPY BIRTHDAY MESSY...I mean "MASSEY." Your Mom loves you beyond the beyond and then some... Proud of you girl, and more proud that you love ME.
PLEASE click on this pic...she was so beautiful at this age... and a lot neater (and quieter)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How Much Fun Can a Memorial Be?

I have had so many emails and comments about Shad's service. It was hands down one of the best memorials I have ever attended. Lots of family, friends... laughter and tears. My father's memorial was much the same and I wish I had been in the frame of mind to think to tape it and kick myself about not doing it.

It is such a small world we live in...getting smaller every day. I was in the restroom before the service with Massey and was complaining about how cold it was in the funeral home. Another woman was in the restroom and commented that she thought it was a bit nippy too. I told her that I was fifty, so in five minutes I would probably be screaming "Who turned the heat on?" Then in five more minutes I would be looking around for someone to borrow a sweater from. I told her "There is no happy medium when you are a fifty year old woman." She agreed totally and we all laughed as we left the restroom together (with Massey rolling her eyes at us both.) Massey and I went one way and she another.

When we got back into the standing room only visitation area a man came up to me and said that he had seen me a million times and asked where did he know me from? I told him (begrudgingly) that I had worked for Longhorn in PTC for 13 years and he said "Maybe that's it." I quickly added "Now I work at Mama Lucia's in Newnan." His face lit up and he exclaimed "That's it!"

He said they were there all the time and that's where he knew me from. Turns out his daughter is Leon's girlfriend (the owner's son.) I knew their daughter, she had done a short stint at Longhorn and I had trained her. What a small world, I thought...when it occurred to me what in the world were they doing at Shad's service? They said they worked in the small community theatre Shad's girlfriend ran. Shad was the set designer. I said that I guess they were there because they knew Norma, Shad's girlfriend. Then they looked at me with the same question on THEIR minds..."Why is SHE here?" I told them that I was Shad's cousin. About the same time, the woman from the restroom (hot flashes talk) came up to the couple I was talking to and said to them "I was just fixing to tell you about a really funny person I ran into but I guess you already met her." I told them all..."If you think I'm funny now, wait til you hear me speak at the service."

It's so strange how coincidences bring you together...intertwine worlds and lives and connections.

I had to go straight to work after the service and told Barb and Len about meeting their son's girlfriend's parents at my cousin's memorial service...now that is a mouthful (even for me.)

I had several people come up to me after the service wanting my blog website. I told Len at work that and he immediately said "Tell them to come in and mention your blog to me or Barb and they can have a free appetizer or dessert."

That my friends is called "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."

This family...the "Mama Lucia" family gave me a great blessing when they brought me into their restaurant and renewed my faith in myself as a server.

Now if you 'peeps' come in and mention my blog to one of them (Len or Barb) you get a free appetizer or free dessert!

What a day of ironic coincidences...what a day of tributes. What a day of learning that the world is a heck of a lot smaller than you'd imagine and that if you persevere and give life your best...it will all come back around to your advantage.

Once again I have to say "Karma is a wonderful friend to have."

Monday, August 16, 2010

What a Wonderful Tribute...

What a wonderful, uplifting emotional and often hilarious tribute to my cousin. I talked in my blog about him picking me up in his Porsche on my way to school and when I got to the visitation...low and behold, there was the steering wheel from a Porsche displayed by the hundreds of photos and pieces of artwork by Shad.

The place was packed. What's ironic is MANY of his friends couldn't even make it to the memorial service today.

I was milling around talking to people when the minister officiating the service came up to me and asked if I was speaking at the service. I replied "Yes" and as he stood talking to me but staring at my spiked hairdo... he said "I have a comb in my pocket." I said "I'm good." He was totally kidding, I have known him all my life and he has a sense of humor similar to my own (only cleaner.)

Massey agreed to sit upstairs and tape the service for me. I knew it would be a "keeper" of a service but was blown away by the entire thing. Shad's close friend, Jerry spoke as well and had the room rolling in laughter, fighting back tears and often had the tears flowing freely...even down his own cheeks. It was touching...on the mark and a tribute fit for a King.

Funerals are usually such solemn and excruciating experiences. Memorial services like Shad's are MUCH more my 'cup of tea.'

I have all the instructions for my own service in my will saved on my computer. The only problem is hoping someone can help Tim learn how to open a file. He struggles with email issues, finding and opening a file will definitely require a 'Geek' squad .

Life is over the halfway mark for me...if I live to be a hundred, it won't be called a memorial but a miracle.

You have to live every day as if it's your last. You have to make the best of every thing life throws your way and learn what is important and what is trivial. What really matters and what really counts. What makes you happy and what makes you a good person. If you live your life that way, I am a firm believer that everything else will fall into place and into the proper perspective .

Another person gone from my life. Another person showing me the way.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

You will be missed, Shad.

Tell my parents hello and hope to see you later ( than sooner)

But you never really know, do you?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Reunion... Remembrance, Reality and Mortality All Come Together

The family reunion that had been planned for months went ahead. Losing a relative two days before didn't exactly fit into the scheme of "A Happy Time" but Shad would have wanted us to go ahead....so we did.

Overcast and drizzling when we got there. Guess God had to shed a few tears of His own on Shad's behalf.
I walked into a house filled with so many relatives I have never met. It is amazing how social net working and family web sites bring so many other people into your life.
I used to wonder how my mother raised three kids without a cell phone. Now I wonder how ANY of us survived without cell phones or this new age of technology.

My oldest son was a no show. My younger son was a "No Go."

Of course my daughter was the first one ready this morning and renews my faith in kids on a daily basis.

We had a TON of food. Pulled pork and about 50 other side dishes to choose from. Frances was there (you know, from previous blogs) with her two nieces.
All the cousins I grew up with now have children and grand children of their own and it took me at least two hours to figure out "Who belonged to who." Massey was joined to my hip from the time we walked in until she hooked up with a cousin who was in the band program at her high school and they had so much in common it wasn't funny.

The clouds relented and all the activity moved down to the dock. The boats fired up and the ski's came out. The tuber's behind one boat and the skiers behind another.

It was a great day. Everyone had stories about Shad or memories to share. It was like he was with us in spirit and I am sure he was.

This is a pic of Ronnie and Lynn...our hosts (and my cousins.)

This is another cousin with my cousin's husband's brother...Now I'm just sounding like a Jerry Springer show!

Here is sweet Frances with another one of my cousins, Neal.

This is Neal with his daughter Kim.

Here is Massey with her new BFF and new found cousin, Emma. They hit it off immediately and it amazes me how blood relation brings two young souls together so quickly.
They got on the "Tube" with my cousin's husband slinging them all over the lake with his boat, having the time of their lives and learning in a few short hours how important and special family can be and how precious and vital it is to know, love and be loved by a family member.

It was a bittersweet reunion. Missing a part of our family that stayed home mourning, but carrying on and letting all the "Newer Cousins" get to know each other and teach them how fabulous it is to be part of a great family.

I took this short video of Massey and Emma on the tube together. Two precious girls, not only cousins but now good friends. To see life move on, see kids connect and feel a family bond is a great feeling...not only for them but for me as well.
The day started gloomy...felt weird having a reunion when a relative had just passed. The gloomy part spread into a mellow remembrance and that spread into a connection of cousins that have never really known each other before but who left the reunion knowing they had just made a new friend and had bonded totally.
There are a lot of 15 year old girls that would have balked at having to come to a "Stupid Family Reunion." I am lucky enough to have a daughter that fell in love with her new found cousin and lucky that my OWN cousin raised a daughter just as delightful and it all naturally fell into place.
That, my friends is "FAMILY."

I am a blessed person. I am blessed with amazing family and a God that hears and provides.
Not looking forward to Monday when we say good bye to yet another family member but feeling better about how fortunate I am to have been plopped down into this particular family. Out of the billions and billions of places I could have landed in, God chose THIS family for me.
Count your blessings...name them one by one. And you WILL see what the Lord has done.

One life has left our family. One new friendship and kinship has been formed. Life moves on, I feel good that new bonds and friendships have been made. The "Circle of Life" has been passed on. The circle has grown bigger and these young girls have learned their first important lesson..."Family Matters."

Enjoy the video...they certainly enjoyed the ride!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Only the Good Die Young...

The world lost a great person and I lost another relative. My cousin, Shad died suddenly from a heart attack and shocked us all by leaving WAY too soon. He was a talented artist and all round good guy. I never met anyone who didn't like Shad. In high school he was a great athlete and as handsome as they came.

I remember as a little girl him being a lifeguard at the huge public pool where EVERYONE in East Point hung out. All the lifeguard's were bigger than life to little kids like me. It was like swimming with Donny Osmond and David Cassidy watching over you while you swam around their elite "Lifeguard Stand" just hoping they would notice you. I was lucky. Shad was my cousin so he actually DID notice me and would actually speak to me. When I was a kid, you could send off for a Muscular Dystrophy carnival packet. They would mail you a kit telling you how to set up different booths and games in your back yard to raise money for MD. My older sister was dating the "Head" lifeguard and he and Shad and all the other life guards came over to our house to my stupid little carnival and gave me the dream afternoon of a lifetime for a nine year old little girl. I raised quite a bit of money considering it was 1969 and it was one of the stand out days of my childhood. He used to see me trudging up Jefferson Ave. to the elementary school lugging my French Horn and would stop in his Porsche to give me a ride to Harris Street School. Now THAT was "Cool" even by MY pre pubescent standards.

They lived not too far from us..a five minute car ride. His father and my father were brothers and looked so much alike it was no wonder that my sister and Shad looked more like brother and sister than cousins. They were both even blessed with the same buck teeth that had to be corrected with braces. Both had blond hair and blue eyes and both were incredibly popular and well liked by everyone.

If I had to classify Shad as an adult it would be " a hippie"...a really COOL hippie. Always down to earth and an amazingly talented artist. His mother is an artist as well and the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Shad was laid back, never high strung but even keeled and always easy to talk to. My husband really liked Shad and said he reminded him of a "Good looking Greg Allman." He has two amazing kids to carry on his legacy. They should feel proud to have been blessed with such a wonderful father and I know they will both do him proud.

He followed the path of art direction and did REALLY well for himself. He was always low key and modest but had tremendous talent. These pictures are from a garden in his yard and sum him up perfectly... "Peaceful, tranquil and beautifully designed."

I have an eclectic extended family. There are all shapes and kinds. There are professionals and artists. There are ones I see and talk to often and some I see every decade or so. I saw Shad every few years...he and his girlfriend came to a Christmas party at my house a couple of years ago and it was a delight to be around him again.
My Mom died when I was seventeen...suddenly and quickly. My Dad died in 2002...in ten days he went from perfectly healthy to being taken off life support. Shad's Dad did it the same way...he was on the tennis court one minute with Shad's friend and gone the next.
My brother summed up our family and it's history perfectly one day when he said to me "Our family takes the express check out."
If you have to go that's the way...no lingering illness, no years of slow demise. You are here one minute and the next minute you are gone.
Shad was one in a million. I never knew anyone that didn't love Shad. I never knew anyone that Shad didn't love.
I guess there may be exceptions but as far back as I can remember, when our family wants to go...they do just that.
I know my grandparents lingered and I am sure that was horrible for my parent's , Aunt's and Uncle's.
You are never guaranteed ANYTHING in life. When you inhale...you may not exhale. When you go to sleep at night you may not wake up in the morning. When you are here today...it is no guarantee that you will see tomorrow much less the next hour...minute or second.
Life is constantly an instant. Life is what you are living the second you blink your eye or have a thought. It can all be gone before you blink again.
Life is to be treasured, enjoyed and lived to it's fullest.
I think that is what Shad did... what MY parent's did and what Shad's Dad did. We will miss Shad, I miss all of the relatives that have passed on and left my life. What "IS" important is how you are going to live your next minute...your next second. You can think ahead to tomorrow, but always be prepared to say to the Maker today "I think I did good."

I am fortunate...extremely fortunate. I come from a long line of wonderful people that have done their time...made their mark on the world and been embedded into my mind, memory and soul. They are all gone now... Big mama, Big daddy, Mama, Diddy, Uncle Chuck, Uncle Billy, Aunt Lurline, Aunt Virginia, Uncle Pont, Cousins Mike, Patrick, and now Shad.
We have a family reunion planned for tomorrow...it's still on. I wish I could peek in on the reunion upstairs in the "Big Guy's Mansion." Not sure which one would be better...but you never know which one you will be attending, do ya?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Friday the 13th ? Can't Scare Me...

I have been living Friday the 13th for a year now...one "real" Friday the 13th can't scare me.

Somehow, someway I have landed somewhat on my feet. We have a long way to go and are so behind it isn't funny but we have survived. Thanks be to God, family and friends we are still in our house and we are both working again.

I lucked out in the job department. I am employed by two people that have taken me under their wing and treated me like family from the first day they hired me.
They let me "BE me" and seem to appreciate me just being an employee of theirs.
I never dread going to work, never worry about being fired and enjoy every shift. When I worked for a corporate restaurant the food was "Okay" but nothing like the product I am selling now. It's nice to be proud of the food you are selling and know how much hard work and dedication goes into each and every recipe.
All the chefs are encouraged to come up with their own recipes for nightly specials and I have tasted some of the most amazing dishes since working there. I never knew Shrimp with stone ground grits could be so delicious!
I waited on three couples at a table tonight. They were maybe ten or fifteen years older than me but were really nice and a lot of fun. One of the men joked that they didn't "Get out of the Home much" and I assured them they would all be back in time for Bingo. I offered one of the women a frozen drink and she said "I don't know, I'm driving." I retorted "I thought they sent a van to pick you up." OH...they ALL cracked up at THAT one. It is so nice to be able to once again use my sense of humor and feel relaxed. I had totally lost my confidence AND my sense of humor at my old job...I was just barely hanging on when they cut the last tiny thread holding me there. Geez, if it was one tiny thread, why'd they have to use an Atom bomb and machete to cut me loose? Talk about "Overkill."
Anyhoo...I really enjoyed waiting on these folks tonight...most all of my customers are such nice people and a huge cut above what I was used to at my last "Cookie Cutter Corporate" job.
They left me a $35.00 tip on a $140.00 tab and were an absolute pleasure to wait on. After paying they all sat talking for a few minutes at the table. I was in the back doing some cleaning and helping out. I came back into the dining area they were sitting in and casually said "The van is here to pick you up, Bingo starts in fifteen minutes." They all cracked up and it feels good to be myself again and not be worried.
The other night I had another party of six. It was the Dad's birthday and he was totally taking advantage of it being "HIS" night. He was drinking red wine . Everyone else ordered dinner but he just ordered a bowl of the Lobster Bisque for an entree. They had started out with two orders of "Baked Brie" which is AMAZING and Pops was on his third glass of wine when I cleared the salad plates. Once I had the table cleared he asked/ announced "Who wants coffee or an after dinner drink?"
His wife calmly but matter of factly said "We haven't had dinner yet." His reply was "We haven't?"
I quickly came to his defense and said "That happpens to me all the time...that hamster falls asleep in his little wheel."
After the ACTUAL dinner I brought him out a Creme Brulee with a birthday candle in it and told him I was sorry but " The Stripper is off on Wednesdays..Prayer meeting. You know how those Southern Baptist's are."
After the Creme Brulee and VSOP was cleared away and the table was bare again, I cheerfully said "So who's ready to order dinner?"
The son cracked up...
They treated me great. The son left me a 25% tip on a $300 tab. They had been gone from the table about three minutes when the birthday boy /man came back into the dining room and told me what a great time he had. I hugged his neck and told him "Happy Birthday" and he shook my hand leaving fifteen more dollars in my palm.

The relief I feel working there takes the edge off of the stress I am still under. But "This too shall pass."
As a "PS" I thought I would include a picture of one of my "Cartoon" fellow employees. This is our "John Belushi." He is an excellent chef...one of the best. He is dry witted and always quick with a come back. When I took this picture I told him not to smile. He said matter of factly, "I wasn't going to."
Thank you to Barb and Len for giving me chance to regain my confidence and be the server I know I can be. Thank you to family and friends for supporting me and rooting me on every step of the faltering way.
Thank you God, for staying by my side. You brought it to me, but you you saw me through it.
Til next time...COTTON

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What a Honeymoon !

Number one...you HAVE to click on the photo before I go any further. Can you EVEN believe some woman had a "John Deere" wedding...complete with wading boots?

Number two, although that IS my face it was photo shopped by a dear friend for my fiftieth birthday.

Number three...I wish I had known Johnny when I married Tim...he would have DEFINITELY been the best man (possibly the groom.)

After almost two weeks without Johnny, my yard looked like a really bad trailer park and the front of the subdivision seemed to welcome you to one .

My brother in law performed the surgery after I bought a new blade and a new pulley. The front of my subdivision is COVERED with hidden rocks and has been so rough on my mower that I am tempted to call the Home-Asses...I mean "Home owner's Association" and tell them I am not cutting the front three times a month for $40.00 anymore.

It cost me $100.00 to just get the parts and luckily my brother in law performed the surgery for free.

On Johnny's first day out of surgery I took it easy and just cut my yard and the ole geezer's next door. You never know how long it takes for that anesthesia to wear off!

He ran like a "Dear" and there were no mishaps.

I ventured to the front today...very apprehensive and very wary (of rocks.) I ended up using the weed eater more than I did my lawn mower. Thirty minutes on my mower and two and a half hours swinging a weed eater. So basically they are paying me LESS than minumim wage for doing this three times a month. I am going to call the "Treasurer" tomorrow and say "You let me know when you want the front cut and I'll do it for $40.00."
It was so hot out today that it made my hot flashes feel like a welcome breeze. I am beginning to feel my fifty years and beginning to realize the "Homeowner's ASS" is taking advantage of me and my baby..."Johnny D."
So I get lots of honks and cat calls...I also get cars screaming right by me so close I could slap their passenger in the face.
I am thinking about just cruising my "hood" and offering the older folks and lazy young folks a cut and trim for $25.00.
How much do you bet once the front grows above the subdivision sign...they call and re negotiaite?
I may end up sneaking up at night to keep it at least respectable...but this pittance they pay me (often two weeks after the cutting) is ridiculous.
Gotta take care of my "Man" first...not Tim..."Johnny." Tim knows I am having an affair...he is only jealous of the 32" blade and the fact that Johnny is deaf...Tim often wishes he was deaf being married to me.
Til next time..."Mower" to come...COTTON

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Comedy of Errors...

I went into work this morning at 10:30...had a two hour break and went right back to "Bidness."

Lunch went smooth, it was just me and two other solid servers.

Came back at 5:30 and the wildfire started. I thought LAST night was busy...tonight was CRAZY busy. The fire spread quickly...they seated me with a six top and as I was greeting them they seated me with a four top. I went to great the four top and they seated me again...all in a five minute time span. I started to feel panicky when I saw them leading five people to another one of my tables. Somehow (with the help of others) I had it under control (Somewhat under control.)

Luckily I had tables that ordered appetizers and bottles of wine, which buys you a little more time.

Not so for another server.

Bless her heart, she is a newer server than me and if I had to sum her up in two words they would be "Train wreck." She is a really sweet woman who appears (or seems) like she has had a tough life. I know I don't look like a Spring chicken, but honestly she reminds me of our Bulldog, Charlie. She makes the biggest mess I have ever seen just making herself a cup of coffee. She slops the coffee into her cup, spilling it everywhere and THEN comes the sugar she adds. Granules surround the cup, soaking up the coffee she has already spilled. I cringe when she goes to add the creamer. Then she lays the spoon down (instead of taking it to the dish area) and picks up her cup to reveal the circle stain of her cup. All this mess just for a cup of coffee.

She gets busy and confused...I'll have to give her a point in her favor. I have been a server for almost 33 years and even I had a hard time when I first started. She, on the other hand has a hard time every shift.

I was at a computer tonight ringing in an order when she came flying around the corner from the service bar where we pick up our drinks for customers. She almost literally shoved me out of the way and flat out "RAN" into the kitchen, screeching around the corner so fast I heard "Bongo" sound effects like they used to use when Fred or Barney were scrambling to get away fast on the Flintstones.

I told the server next to me "That looked professional, didn't it?'

She went into the kitchen and accidentally knocked the printer that sends orders to the kitchen onto the floor along with the container of steak knives and pasta spoons making the owner have to leave the line and come around to our side to reassemble the printer and get the orders once again ringing through to the chefs. If my bulldog was a human and happened to be a server...this would be "His" story.

Later on I told the head server about this and we were cracking up...mainly because she happened to be standing in the alley when our "Bulldog" came screeching around the corner and got shoved out of the way as well.

Hopefully "Charlie" will catch on and learn to slow down. I mean "Really"...if you run, does it make THAT much of a difference once you've goofed up? At least wait until you are out of the guest's line of sight before you take off flat out running.

Then came MY big goof!

It was a tense night...we had a packed house. My last table had two ladies that wanted "Chicken Fiorentina " but with Parmesan encrusted chicken. I rang the order in just that way...only to hear my named being bellowed from the bowels of the kitchen.

It was the owner's son... bellowing at me that it was impossible to do that. "You either have the chicken encrusted or cooked in the Fiorentina...there's NO way to do both!" I went back to explain it to the ladies and they both demurred to the chef's discretion. I went back to the kitchen and told "Chef Cranky Pants" they would take it the regular way.

Not ten minutes later I heard the owner's son (Mr. Cranky Pants) calling me ..."Hey, Mission Impossible" , your food's up." He had cooked the Fiorentina chicken and somehow added some Parmesan crusting to the top of the dish.

This is a great restaurant that I have been lucky enough to land in. THEY do the impossible...they are in the back in 100 degree heat and pump out ANYTHING a guest wants.

The thermostat (on OUR side of the kitchen ) read 91 degrees. They are on the other side of the kitchen with twelve flaming grills, pizza ovens set at 450 degrees, boilers cooking pasta and six guys cooking their hearts out .

The women were delighted... I made more money tonight than I have ever made and I feel like "Kella Got Her Groove Back."

I told the cooks as I walked by later with a load of dishes going to the dish area "Good job tonight, kitchen." I got a "Thank You"..actually come to think of it , it sounded more like &%#@ you...but when I looked back at them in their now 110 degree station...they were smiling. It's an incredibly hard job being a chef...but these guys do an outstanding job and I have never felt more at home and at ease...even when I am getting my butt kicked...be it by customers or the chefs.

We have a long way to go here at the "Cotton Plantation." But I have been blessed with a wonderful new job and blessed by friends, family and anonymous help.

Received a letter the other day that simply read "You have blessed my family and it is now time to pay it forward." There were ten twenty dollar bills included. Received a card in the mail today that read..."A little something to go to catching up on your mortgage. Not much, but what I could spare. Wish I could send more. Wishing you many blessings for the future." "To Kelly" The richest woman in town! "Mr. Potter won't win."

It was signed "To the Cotton's from a friend"

I am totally and simply the most blessed woman on Earth ...I know that God, family, friends and anonymous people have been our saving salvation and I will be eternally grateful and promise whole heartily to pay it forward.

I am looking "Forward" to the day that I can sit back, relax and help someone else. Until that day comes... I hope that everyone who has helped us out knows that by the grace of God and the grace of friends and family us "Cottons" are unbelievably and respectfully awed by the love and support.

It is "Karma." It is Love... It is "Family"... It is "Life" in the greatest fashion.

Although times are tough and seem dark at times..I have been lifted and lifted again and again.

Just don't make me clean up after "Charlie"

What a GREAT feeling to be "Loved."

Tired, feeling old but will wake up feeling like a female "Richard Simmons" minus the Dolphin running shorts...an EXTREMELY GRATEFUL COTTON.

Thank You ALL for loving me...It has been all your love that has not only let us survive but made me realize what friendship, family and support is all about.

"Paying it forward soon"


Friday, August 6, 2010

A "Deere John" Letter

Dear John,

I feel terrible about what I have put you through. You have stuck by me, in thick grass and thin. You crank up whenever I turn your key...you never hesitate to help me and yet I always seem to push you to the breaking point (small pun.)

I've worn out belt after belt on you but you still work like a dog for me. I take you down roads you never wanted to travel and have taken you off the beaten path so often that you are probably having an identity crisis. BTW..."No, you are NOT an ATV."

You have sat in my garage with a flat more times than I can count...patiently waiting for me to "Fix A Flat" you back to normal. I have sent you into uncharted territory, hitting rocks and giving you more dings in your blade than you have ever deserved.

This last time I thought you may leave me forever...but you didn't. You waited patiently once again. I know you don't believe it but it hurt me more than it hurt you. The yard looked like a forgotten cow pasture and I actually thought of you every time I left the house and missed your amazing work.

Thanks to Dr. Harvey...you have made a full recovery. His skills are miraculous and his hands are 14 Karat in the JD area of expertise.

I promise to be more attuned to your needs and more aware of anything that may be hazardous to your well being. (Rocks, curbs and stepping stones.)

From the bottom of my heart and from the bottom of your decking ..."I Love You."

Thanks for loving me and thanks for making my yard look good again. I know you're mad at me...but ya gotta admit the yard looks pretty darn good, thanks to you.

At least I only weigh 95 pounds...you could have Mama Cass riding you!

I promise to be more attentive and more sensitive to your needs.

Just swear to never, EVER leave me.

Kelly Deere Cotton