Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Almost Felt Like MY Birthday

Yesterday was Barb's boss and the owner of the wonderful restaurant I work for. Her husband "Thinks" he is the boss but we all know better (I think deep down he knows too.) She took a much deserved two days off and flew home to Maryland to spend time with her oldest son. Barb has three sons...the oldest two are from a previous marriage but Len has been their step dad since they were little boys. Much like me with TJ...I have been his step mom since he was four and have known and loved him him longer than I have either one of my other two kids..."Blood is just a relative term" (pun intended.) My husband made the comment the other day how Barb and Len are living the American Dream, and they really are. They work long hard hours day after day after day. The reward is they own their own business , are their own boss and don't have anyone telling them how to do things or breathe down their neck from a corporate office. Barb is a piece of work herself. She can pinch a penny until it screams. She watches every dime and nickel coming in and going out of that restaurant (I think that may be why Len loves her so much.) When you first start working there she'll let you make yourself a drink in one of the Styrofoam 'to go' cups. After that shift you have to bring your own cup in to drink out of while you work or give her a quarter for another Styrofoam cup..."They don't grow on trees" she'll say. She recycles everything in the place...even the scraps. She has a bucket by the dish pit she makes everyone put leftover food in. She takes the left over bread home to feed birds in her back yard. The seafood left overs are for her cat and the strays that have heard about her through the "CatVine." Her house backs up to woods and she feeds the deer and foxes the meat scraps. She says "Mr. Squirrel especially loves french fries." I was out of my mind busy at lunch last week when I dashed into the dish area to dump my dishes and didn't put anything in her bucket. She snatched the last dish from my hand and sternly said "You're going to HAVE to do a better job of remembering my little animal friends!" (I am NOT making this up) She was gone for two days and no one set up her bucket or saved any scraps at all. We all laughed to Len the second day that he would probably go to sleep and hear the animals pounding at his back door demanding their dinner...or get on his Triumph in the morning to come to work and be attacked like Tippy Hedron in "The Birds." She saves the coffee grounds and tea grounds for her garden. Len says she is a borderline "Hoarder." We all agreed at work today. If you need something and ask Barb if she knows where you can find one can be the most random item in the world, she will say "I have four of them, I'll bring them in and you can choose one." This morning when I went into work there was a man at the front door (we weren't even open yet.) Len started flipping ..."There's someone at the front door and no one to let him in. Come on, Let's GO!" Len would let people in at 8:00 in the morning if they were there to buy something. (that's why Barb loves HIM.) It was a delivery man from the florist. He brought in a huge bouquet of flowers and placed them on the bar. It had a card for Barb on it, Len came pouncing out of the kitchen to see if we had turned away a customer and saw the flowers. He read the said "Happy Birthday from your first born." Len took a pen and drew a line through "First born" and wrote "Second husband." He even went the extra mile and got Barb the perfect present! He was in the office and showed me her present... a birthday card. He hadn't written anything on the envelope and said he didn't write anything or sign it on the inside. He just put a lottery ticket in it. She could hit it big...and if she didn't, had a card that she could recycle and use for someone else! Dang, I love this dysfunctional and absolutely wonderful family that I work for! Went back into work tonight and banked off of two tables. One was a family of six there to celebrate a birthday as well. They loved my "Performance" and gave me a $45 tip. A couple that read my blog came in to eat with me as well. I told them "If you mention my blog you get a free app or a free dessert." They went with the appetizer. Len was on the line cooking when I said "Two of my blog readers are here, it's their first time." Len said "Ask them what took so long?" I decided to buy them a dessert but Len took that off the bill as well. Seems like Len knows about Karma too! They spoiled me rotten with a 100% tip. Now I can pay on Massey's Guard dues again and sock away some for the house note. My husband is still stressing...Let 'em (makes him help me out around the house more.) I KNOW that all will be okay. I have a great job that I love. He has a job he hates but a job that can eventually turn into one WORTH to be him.(Thanks baby) At least I married a man willing to do anything for his family. He's just happy to be working. He may not be happy doing it but is happy that he once again has the chance to hate a JOB! This past weekend we celebrated my Aunt's 80th birthday as well at Mama Lucia's. All the female cousins met to eat ... talk about old times, current times and relive our childhood memories over a bottle of wonderful red wine Barb picked out. Len made an awesome cannoli cake and it reminded me once again how lucky I am to come from such a wonderful family. Today reminded me that family extends way past blood lines. I am lucky. I am lucky to be saying that I am lucky! I am lucky to still be here. I am lucky family, friends and strangers love me. I am lucky that I am almost to the point of being able to BEGIN paying people back. I am lucky they have all waited patiently for that to happen. I AM, I AM BLESSED! Til next time........COTTON!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How Old AM I ? It's Starting to Scare Me

Tonight at work Barbara (the owner) was talking to our young bartender and I happened to walk by. She asked if I remembered Green Stamps and I immediately asked "S&H Green Stamps"? Barbara told Anna, the bartender "Back in the olden days we had Green Stamps." I told Barbara it wasn't the "Olden was my CHILDHOOD!" The bartender asked "Was it kind of like reward points?" JEEZ..I AM getting OLD!

When I was a kid S&H Green Stamps were a big, big deal. They gave them away with purchases at the A&P grocery store my Mother shopped at and my grandmother saved them for us as well. Actually my grandmother even saved us her Raleigh cigarette stamps too. I'm not sure if we ever got anything with the "Smokes Stamps" but she sure saved us a lot of them!

S&H was where I used to get all my Christmas presents. There was actually a redemption store on Sylvan Road we used to frequent.

My grandfather smoked King Edward cigars and gave us his empty boxes to save our S&H Green Stamps in.

Of course this was back when my Mother would drive me to the store and at the age of six send me inside the store to purchase her a carton of Kool Milds.
It bothered me that Barbara called it "The Olden Days."

Then I realized that to kids in their early twenties...those WERE the olden days! I guess being over fifty makes me an antique!
I picked Massey up from school today and told her Elizabeth Taylor died. Massey said "Who's that"? I told her it was the actress from Giant and Cleopatra to which she replied "Never seen emt".
Guess what movies I am renting for us to watch when she gets home from competition this weekend?
When I was a kid you went to the gas station and never even got out of the car. They would clean your windshield and some even vacuum out your car while the gas was pumping . They checked under your hood and if you were at a Gulf station gave you free dishes with a fill up. I still have some of the white octagon shaped plates and bowls that my Mother got filling up our fake wood paneled station wagon.
Some laundry detergents even had dishes inside or a dish towel attached to the side of the box...Barb reminded me of that one!
Seems like we got a LOT more for a lot LESS when I was a kid.
Massey leaves for Nashville tomorrow for a Guard competition. She has her ipod packed along with her cell phone and both chargers.
When I was a kid I had a string with a can on each end that ran from my bedroom window to the window of my friend that lived next door.
I am not kidding!
Of course we could have just hollered to each other but it was so cool to have our own little system of communication.
Cans on a string and a transistor radio were all you needed to stay in touch with the world when I was a kid.
Guess I AM getting old!
How much string would it take from Newnan to Nashville and how big would the cans have to be ?
Guess it's a good thing I paid the cell phone bill.
Kids are so spoiled these days. When I was a kid we thought you were spoiled if your house had a push button phone instead of rotary dial (which WE didn't until the seventies) or if your car had seat belts...which we didn't have either, but survived. When we got a car with air conditioning I thought we must be millionaires or at least really rich.
I grew up in a blue collar family.
I grew up in a house filled with love, laughter and clothes all sewn by my Mother. Thank God she was an excellent seamstress... she could sew clothes that looked just like they had come off the rack at "Lerner's" .
What scares me even more is what the FUTURE holds and how much THAT is going to cost!
Til next time..."Cave Woman Cotton"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Best Worst Day of My Life

Today is the one year anniversary of me starting at the restaurant. It was the best worst day of my life. I was so deeply depressed after being fired from a job I had been at for over 13 years and was totally ashamed to even HAVE to seek employment. I wallowed in pity for a week , hoping my old place would call me back to work.

It didn't happen so I sucked in my pride and went to Mama Lucia's to talk to Barb about being hired. When I walked into the restaurant she said "I was looking for you last week." I told her I was looking for myself last week too.

That conversation was the beginning of the greatest thing to ever happen to me. My old restaurant was good to me for many years but when we fell on hard times and needed understanding and support... they turned a deaf corporate ear and kicked me out.

At the time I thought it was the worst thing to ever happen to me. I now know it was a blessing in disguise.

It has shown me what a blessing it is to be loved and cared about...loved and cared about by family, friends, employers and even strangers.

We were totally carried over the raging waters of the abyss and plopped on the other side.

The gratitude we have for all the love and generosity can never be fully repaid but will be forever remembered and continually paid forward.

We are still struggling for air but breathing easier every month. It's been a tremendous strain on my marriage but the fact that I am STILL married says a lot about our commitment to each other and to this marriage.

My brother and sister became my Father and Mother. Friends turned into sisters and brothers. Strangers turned into wonderful friends. My new employers became my champions...urging me on and helping me every step of the way.

The owner's are a family that I admire tremendously. They are living the American dream. They own their own business. It takes sweat, working long hours and endless dedication, but it is THEIRS.

They have welcomed me into their restaurant family and helped me out time and time again...LITERALLY.

I came into their company a broken person with no self confidence left. They have let me believe in myself again and have always believed in me.

The Guard Massey is on has been my "Perk."

Defined ... "To make or become cheerful or lively."

Crazy ...but being a part of HER Guard world has given me much satisfaction in MY world and they have all welcomed me knowing I owe money (Who don't I owe?) but as long as I contribute my limited time treat me as an equal.

I actually paid the Guard some money last night and it felt GREAT!

Being with them is my "Happy Time."

Tim is slowly moving up in his company...I am in a great place, we are destined to make a come back!

Today is the anniversary of "The Greatest Worst Thing to Ever Happen to Me."

I call that a "WIN."

I try to not be bitter about my last employer...but am.

As I ponder and think about all that has happened and all the good things that have occurred since my life spiraled out of control a year ago...I feel like sending my old company a Thank You note.

"Dear corporate...YOUR LOSS."

Til next time...Contented Cotton

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Super Moon, Super Weekend...Super Tired !

Just walked in the door from work . Went outside and took this picture of the "Super Moon."

What a weekend! Massey had to be at the school yesterday morning by 8AM for her big home competition. I worked ten shifts this past week so I could take all day Saturday and half a day Sunday off to finally be a "Guard Mom."

Not sure I did that great of a job but I sure had a great time trying!

I went by the restaurant and picked up 3 huge pans of baked Ziti and headed to the school. We hosted a competition for almost 40 Guards ...felt like 400.

Massey felt horrible with allergy problems and I assured her she only had to feel good for 4 minutes and 52 seconds, the length of their performance. Sweet "Nurse Becky" pumped her with Motrin and I went to help the other parents.

By noon it was Summertime and I was helping the "Fry Guy" outside of the gym with his six vats of propane heated 450 degree "Cardio-Oil."

That funnel cake fame will be the death of me!

I had worn blue jeans and felt like I was melting in the already 80 degree heat. I told Chris, who has his degree in "Fryology" and a couple of others that I would have worn shorts had I shaved my legs in the last six months, but it helped hold my thermal socks up during this brutal past winter. Between my hot flashes , outside temp and bubbling grease vats I said "Excuse me...I'll be right back" and screamed back to the house . Shaved my legs in two minutes and was back at the school in under 25 minutes wearing much needed shorts.

I cannot say enough nice things about the parents, aunts, uncles, grand parents and friends of this Guard family. Students that aren't even on the Guard come out and help. We all have one thing in common...We Love This Guard!

Tried to earn my "Guard Wings" this weekend...I think I left Sunday afternoon with a half of one wing so at least I can fly in a really small circle ... "A bird can't fly on one wing" but it can flap around a lot and make a Lot of noise.

That's Me!

If I had to describe my job definition this weekend it would be "Floating Go-Fer/ Suckered Chaperone."

I flitted around on my little half wing from concessions to hospitality room to fryers to sitting in the upper bleachers telling idiots to sit down during performances so the judges could see and critique the Guards.

Our JV performed and came in first...Varsity performed and came in second. Massey was upset she had a drop...Guards always are.

No one likes to drop but sometimes it just happens .

Our family suffered a HUGE drop a while back and Tim and I didn't like it one bit either. Sometimes a drop makes you realize how you take "not dropping" for granted and need to be prepared to try even harder when you do . Keep on giving it your all...and odds are you will succeed.

The competition ended around 9:00 and the second phase of my job responsibilities started.

Talk about a "Drop!"

I was the overnight chaperone for our Guard and we were all sleeping on the luxurious floor of the band room. Nothing says relaxation more after a long day than sleeping with 20 teens, a Wii Dance and other Guards staying close enough by to drop in.
I started off with two missing...found them and four hours later wished I was missing a heck of a lot more of them. (Totally kidding..."Kinda")
Cut the dance party off around 1Am. I am a night owl anyway so it didn't bother me.
What bothered me was when I tried to turn the lights off...they wouldn't turn off.
I wondered why earlier all the Guard that wanted to sleep dragged air mattresses into closets, the music library, the brass room, the Guard room ANY room but the band room.
One of Massey's BFF's had her mattress right next to mine and when she went to sleep had two blankets. One she wrapped totally around her head and eyes like she was being led to a guillotine or firing squad and the other she covered up with. I was thinking what kind of condition she could have to need to sleep that way when I discovered it was she was "Smarter than the average Bear."
I told the kids to turn the lights off and they replied "They ARE ."
Every other light or so was on. "SECURITY LIGHTS"
I tried every light switch..I tried every wall..I tried every THING. My air mattress was directly under one of the florescent lights. I felt like I was trying to go to sleep under interrogation. I finally took a tank top and tied it around my head and eyes.
My legs cramp sometimes ...heck, I'm almost fifty one and am falling apart all over the place. I finally drifted off after 2AM but was awakened hearing what sounded like a bunch of AFLAC ducks having a get together. It wasn't in the band room but close by enough to keep my blindfolded old woman self awake.
I finally decided it was the Guard next door and went in the hall to go to their room and give them a small piece of my small mind.
I opened the door to the hall and there sat two of OUR Guards with three of the Guards from the next classroom all sitting around yakking it up and keeping my old self awake.
I flipped. I took the tank top off my face and shouted "GET OUT OF THE HALL AND GO TO BED...We're trying to get some sleep here!" I guess I just meant me, because the rest of the Guard was sawing logs like no body's business...maybe That's what really woke me!
I went back to my mattress and tied back on my "Hanging Mask." They all skittered back to their respective rooms and I finally fell asleep.
At least we all survived .
We woke up Sunday and started it all over again. I went home and showered and went back for round three.
I flitted around again on a half a wing and helped out where they needed me.
My oldest son drove down to see Massey perform and didn't know what to expect. He has never seen a Guard competition. After they performed he said "That actually gave me chills."
Yes...they are THAT good.

Massey's Guard won first place!

It's a different world, this Guard world. I have missed a lot of it but this weekend gave it my best shot at "Being a Guard Mom."
Massey's Guard...ECHS Guard and the entire Guard family give me relief and satisfaction when I am with them. They make me laugh and I think I make them laugh. It is a win/win situation for me and definitely for Massey.

Next week is Nashville. I would kill to go but unless I hit the lottery it will have to wait til next year.

They give me motivation. Not just the Guard but the entire Guard family. They have helped my girl time after time, which has helped ME time after time.

My new motto is "GET IT !"

What a great lesson to learn...success and moving forward in life isn't going to come knocking at your door... you have to "GET IT."

So I'm a sucker as a chaperone...but now I "GET IT."

Better late than never...

Til next time "Gettin' it" COTTON

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Hope the "Sleepover" Involves Some Sleep

I'm not sure what I have gotten myself into...
Of course that is what I have said to myself on a daily basis for the past year and so far I have made it!
I crammed ten shifts into six days and have a day and a half off for Massey's home competition at her high school. I bullied my boss into donating his wonderful baked Ziti for the hospitality room. That's where all the Guard coaches sit around and get fat eating tons of food and cramming down brownies like it's their last meal on death row the day of execution.
I got off from my lunch shift in time to pick Massey up, go by and pay on Tim's car in the shop, buy her a Happy Meal and dump her off back at the school to help set up for the big competition this weekend. Stopped by my house (that looks like a commercial for DFACS removing children from an unfit home) and sat on my couch for ten minutes with my head back and eyes was the sweetest ten minutes of my life.
Screamed back to work in my "Next door husband's son's car" he graciously loaned me for the weekend and started my tenth shift. I am not sure if I still have feet on the end of my toothpick legs but managed to make it through another shift.
Screamed back to the high school in my loaned ride after my eleven hour shift (or maybe it was ME screaming) and picked Massey up.
I am not only working the competition tomorrow and Sunday but chaperoning the Guard while they spend the night on the luxurious floor of a classroom at the school.
I've always wanted to be a chaperone...well looks like I got my wish!
I've worked over a month straight with two days off and both days were spent at competitions...not really days off.
I have been SO sucked into this Guard world and crazy as it sounds almost look forward to being the chaperone.
We'll start out with Benadryl cocktails and work our way through "Truth or Dare."
Being with teens is invigorating and frustrating but always motivating. These kids have worked their butts off and are all "Champs" in my book. I am sure they will knock it out of the park this weekend and feel lucky that I will finally be there to see and experience it all.
For once I will be the one sending the texts. For once I will be the Mom that is there. For once I will be the Mom they hug first.
It will be my first sleep over in over forty years. Not expecting to get much sleep but excited to be an actual part of the Guard.
Finally earning that "Guard Mom" shirt I never bought.
I think earning it is more important than owning it!
Massey said I need to bring big marsh mellows...I think I need to bring a big pillow to put over my head.
This should be interesting and if nothing else...a GREAT blog!
Til next time...COTTON/Guard Mom (has a nice ring to it)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Excuse Me...My Age is Showing...

I haven't been on a plane or into the airport in over 18 years.
Jeez, times have changed. Massey flew into Hartsfield tonight after her Aunts that spoil her even" rottener" than I do put her in a first class seat and sent her home to me.
I left with plenty of time (I thought.) Her flight landed at 9:23. I left the house as soon as she sent me a text saying she had boarded.
I have a huge, so far unidentified oil leak in my car and currently put more oil in my car than gas. I stopped by Auto zone on the way home from work and dumped a quart in. Got home and added 2 more. Left for the airport and decided to pick up one more quart (just in case.)
I drive with the radio off so I can hear if my engine makes any funny noises or screams "Mommy...STOP!"
Fixing it is on my list of things to do but as long as I keep dumping oil in it and keep plenty of cat litter to sop up the "BP oil disaster on my garage floor" and drive with my fingers crossed I feel okay.
Made it to the airport with thirty minutes to spare. Found a parking spot close to the terminal and was amazed at how much the airport had grown since 1992.
I was bounced from one kiosk to the next. Finally I looked for the friendliest looking person wearing the right uniform and said "My daughter's plane just landed and I have no idea where to go."
I entered the security check point and realized why Massey's Aunt had said "Just don't bring your guns or knives."
I thought she was being funny but when I tried to walk through they instructed me to take off my belt, my jacket, shoes and empty all my pockets. Thank the Lord I left all my Crack at the house on the kitchen table next to my UZI and grenades (I like to call them centerpieces.)
I was devastated when they mentioned shoes.
When I got up this fifteen of my work week I pulled on the first pair of socks I found. They didn't match, except for the hole in both big toes.
Thank God the man in front of me was busy with his three full plastic tubs of crap to be scanned and the woman behind me was Asian and spoke no English at all.
I pulled my socks forward and tucked them under my toes .
Now I know why my Mother always said to wear clean underwear in case you were in an accident.
By this time Massey was texting she had landed and pulled up to the gate. I text her back..."Stay there."
I am a very paranoid Mom...that is what makes me a good Mom!
I could not imagine letting her go from concourse C to baggage claim alone...and her Aunt's told her just the same. "Wait for your Mom."
I have no desire to end up on Nancy Grace having her helmet non moving hair begging someone to bring my kid back.
The train stopped moving for a good five minutes and I was only at concourse B. I waited as others got off..they must have known a quicker route but I didn't.
As the train finally started again I got another text. I told her I was minutes away and NOT TO MOVE.
I half ran down concourse C looking for gate C-39.
I was at gate 35 when I spotted that bright purple ECHS letterman jacket with a cell phone stuck to her ear.
It was almost a Hallmark moment.
It's only been 3 days but when you are as close as Massey and I is a reunion.
The hug she gave me made me forget that an unknown man and an Asian woman had both seen that I not only had holes in both my socks but hadn't painted my toe nails either.
"Screw them" My girl is home!
So I don't fly much... Sue me.
At least I can find my girl in the busiest airport in the world.
She missed school today, but she missed Hawaii with the band this past summer. We'll call it even.
A great quote I read...
"We are all fixing what is broken. It is the task of a lifetime. We'll leave much unfinished for the next generation."
Massey is home.
Let's just start from there.
She had an incredible weekend with the Guard and her Aunts standing in for me... and survived all my paranoia.
I have said before..."If Life gets to be too much, maybe you aren't looking hard enough for the good parts."
That girl, my girl, from gates away made my heart sing.
They tend to kill us...all kids do.
I wish I could go back and give both my parents a GOLD medal...I am just working my way up to the Bronze status.
Going to buy new socks tomorrow...COTTON

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Went into work tonight a little down.

Massey's guard was competing at regional in Florida and I was competing in my 14th day in a row at work.

I've been sucked into this world of hers and have found my youth again.

It happened at just the right time in my life.

I have had a year, to remember to try to forget!
Not really...I had a year that God, family friends and strangers will make me remember to never forget.

All thrown in the mix was this silly Color I thought.
Practices are often and often long! Besides the dues there is always something...tights, shoes wind suits and Geisha make up.
Their last show that I worked was inspiring. They didn't come in first but in my opinion put on a first place show.
This weekend she had a regional in Florida that I couldn't attend. Crazy as I already am, I was crazy sick that I couldn't go.
Two dear relatives drove almost two hours to stand in for me....sit for me...hang around for me and be there for me when they won FIRST PLACE! They were there to hug Massey's neck and they were there for ME.
They were there to witness what I have...the hardest working bunch of teens pushed beyond what they feel are ridiculous limits and then "BAM"... rewarded with the satisfying feeling of victory and success.
Does it sound even crazier that a fifty year old woman is a nervous wreck all night at work waiting to hear how a "Guard" did?
Guess what?
Call me crazy but call ECHS Winter Guard record setting first place winners!!
It's all really is.
When the bad seems to take over your just means you aren't looking hard enough for the good.
Call me "Guard Mom Gone Broke" It's better than "Guard Mom Gives Up."
Sure makes that double shift tomorrow easier to take when you know how happy your kid is and how incredibly happy it makes you feel to know they are tickled pink!
So proud I could pop.
So tired I am pooped.
Working just six more days and I am spending my day off with the "Guard." Ironic, but I am looking forward to it.
Kids grow up in the blink of an eye. I'm gonna "In-Joy" my blink!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

With a Lump in My Throat ... Off She Goes

It's been a long week. I can't even remember my last day off.

The thing about being a server is that if you don't work you don't get a paycheck. We are so close to turning the corner. Granted I feel like we are turning the corner in a 1965 Ford Galaxy station wagon with bald tires in dire need of a tune up...but we are creeping forward and I am grateful...especially for everyone that has thrown us some love into the back of it , helped push when it conked out totally and jumped us off to continue on our road to recovery.

Love is a mighty, mighty tool and the most important one in my toolbox.

Massey has her first big competition out of state this weekend. I picked up a shift yesterday for a girl and picked up tonight for another server...scraping together the money to send her on her way with everything she needed. Her air mattress (of course) had a hole in it. Note to self...never leave it inflated around three big looks like a HUGE dog bed to them and is NOT "Claws Friendly."

Of course if I had thought of it earlier I could have borrowed one...but she needs one anyway, they sleep in high school classrooms on these road trips and I worked for the school system for seven years..."Ya don't want your kid sleeping on the floor of a public school without at LEAST a ten inch buffer."

Then of course she needed foundation and liquid black eye liner for their "Geisha" type makeup least it looks like that to me.

I'll have to hand it to "Lil' General" does make their eyes "pop" from a distance and all look uniformly pretty.

It's a strange world, this "Guard World."

I never even knew it existed until 3 years ago and have been totally entranced by it.

I think I like it more than Massey does sometimes.

That's because it gets tough.

It gets tense, sometimes dramatic and often overwhelming; but when you stick with it and give it your all, can also be tremendously rewarding and a rush... from having successfully done your best .

What greater lesson can you teach your kid than what life will be like and how to live it?
Come to think of it...they should probably DOUBLE the dues.
What these kids are learning is priceless.

Life isn't always roses but if you can put up with the thorns it sure smells pretty.

I can't go with her this weekend and after my bonding experience at the competition I worked, had a lump in my throat tonight as I helped the prop guys load the last of the sliding boards into the trailer for the trip to Pensacola. ARRGGHH....

I haven't really felt a true part of the guard until this past year.

Summer band camp started it, and sucked me in from the jump on a sweltering summer afternoon surrounded by 120 degree asphalt.

Yeah I still owe them a ton of money, but have helped raise some and volunteered every time I possibly could.

When my Ford Galaxy pulls into the station of success...and I KNOW it will, they will get every penny and then some.

I'm not even charging them an entertainment fee when I DO work with them!! (that even made ME chuckle.)

I used to worry that this Guard thing was an unnecessary expense.

Since working with these teens and especially working with dedicated parents and volunteers, it has taught me once again what life is all about.

There are no guarantees. Sometimes you feel like you can't hang on but if you DO, may often feel like you never want to let go.

She leaves without me tomorrow...I am sad.

I love my girl (my little Money Pit.)

I love all these folks I have met and friends I have made while doing "The Guard Experiment."

They all seem to like me (Tim's all flustered about THAT one and encourages me to hang out with them as much as possible :)

When I left the school tonight and hugged a couple of the prop guys that put up with my lame help , I got a huge lump in my throat.

It wasn't the throw up feeling I felt when under the gun at the last show or feeling like a complete nervous wreck trying to help.

It was knowing I wouldn't be going with them and experiencing that whole feeling over again.

I WANT to be a part of this team and have "In-Joyed" them letting me be a sub.

Next year I'll take my act on the road WITH them!!
Tim will probably pay THEM dues to just take me with them.

I don't have to work til late tomorrow so I'll go to the high school to see them all off. I already told one guy tonight to stuff me in the glove compartment and take me with them.

It's hard seeing your child leave on a trip or adventure without you. They take a little piece of your heart with them when they are out of your touch and sight.

She'll be surrounded by friends and parents that love her. She'll be fine.
It's me I'm worried about.

I'm playing the lottery after work tomorrow night. If I hit...there will be a private plane to bring all of them back on Sunday...slides, swings and even Teddy!

It's hard not going with her but great to know I can send her.


At least I can work like a busy beaver this weekend and not have to worry... I'll be there NEXT year.
Tim will probably even petition for them to schedule MORE out of state competitions....even further away. God bless him, it ain't easy being married to me.

Good Luck Massey...Good Luck ECHS...

Til Next Time...COTTON

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Country Living At Its Finest...Seriously?

I spent the day selling and picking up ads for Massey's Winter guard program for the big competition at the high school this month. This is a huge fundraiser and a chance for us to make some much needed money to fund a program that has been left out of the county budget.

I have a personal obligation to do my part especially with all the kindness and latitude the Guard has shown our family. They have been there with Massey when I couldn't. They have hugged and kissed her when she was down and I was at work. They have picked her up for practice and brought her home again when I was at work. It is a TRUE family we are blessed to be part of and I like to think I do my part when I can.

This is something that I CAN do and don't mind at all.

I put my PHD in BS to use and get sponsors for this event and have been pretty successful.

My bosses bought an ad, a dear friend from high school bought one even my favorite mechanic bought one. I sold one to a Mother/Daughter team that owns a hair helped that the daughter is engaged to the son of the owner of the restaurant I work for and her Mom knew my cousin who recently passed away.

Gotta work those connections when you have them!

Last night at work I had a table that I knew from my Western Sizzler days...their family owns a local gardening nursery and after two bottles of Malbec they happily agreed to buy an ad as well. They would have done it anyway...they are wonderful people. They told me to come by any of their three locations the next day and pick up a check.

The location nearest to me is off a rural highway that leads to the interstate. It's a road you take if you are headed to the County Fair or Destin...otherwise I never travel that road.

I picked Massey up from school and told her we needed to go pick up an ad . We cruised down the county highway. It goes from rural to PO Dunk in no time. The only thing on this stretch of road is a gas station that is completely filled with Latinos every morning looking for day labor and a couple of rental places, face lifted by the recent addition of a Dollar General.

We were cruising down the road when we passed a small house...not really a house but a small trailer (wheels still attached) with a front yard the size of a large chicken coop. They had a chain link fence around the front yard with two dog kennels sitting in it.

Number one this yard was TOO small for two dogs much less for what we witnessed. As we passed by Massey said "Did you see that horse in that tiny front yard?"

I almost wrecked the a front yard the size of a hen house stood a horse surrounded by a chain link fence. If the horse wanted to exercise he could take one step forward and one step back. I hope he knows how to "Repeat the Process."

I am sure the horse would jump the fence and run for freedom if it had enough room to get a running start...which it certainly didn't.

We went on to the garden store to pick up the check. I remarked to one of the men working there "Have you seen that horse up the road?" The first guy said "My wife brought me to work this morning and said she saw a horse in that yard and I looked in her purse for a liquor bottle...the yard was smaller than my pick up truck." The other man said he had seen it too.

What in Heaven's name are people doing having a large farm animal living in a fenced in area the size of a small garage?

I guess their little girl wakes up every morning and looks out the window of their small trailer and says "There's my Horsey, squeezed in by the dog kennels."

I told Massey I was going back tomorrow to take a picture. I think this beats Charlie Sheen's least he has a huge house to be an idiot in and has CHOSEN his option.

This poor huge creature is living in a space so small that it has no room to argue the point...literally!

I treat my three mutts like royalty. Granted they haven't had shots in two years but they are loved, fed and have an acre fenced in to roam and run.

I feel like bringing that horse home with me...and don't think Tim would even notice. The pups, not so much.

If it's still there tomorrow I am taking a picture; I thought WE had it rough but at least we are trying to do something about it.

Who's gonna help this horse?

I may just buy this horse an ad in Massey's program:

"Free horse to anybody that has a yard larger than a garage."

Til next time...

"Just Saying" COTTON

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Everybody Knows an "Eddie Haskell"

If you read my blog you know I assign everyone (almost everyone) at work a nickname.

We have a new guy that is young...REALLY young especially compared to me.

We have a running joke at work...the last few people we have hired that just haven't fit in had first names beginning with the same initial. It's a JINX I tell you!

This one's no exception.

I CAN say that when the first JINX started the bar was really low. We raised the bar with every JINX we have hired since and now have it about thigh- high . Of course that's still too low for me to Limbo under so we need to keep searching for that bar raising JINX .
I think everyone knows an "Eddie."
It's the guy that works harder at getting out of work than it would take to DO the work.
It's the guy that thinks he's cool when every one else knows he is a doofus.
He's always likable enough but just when you let your guard down and try to cut them a break they do something to remind you why you gave them the nick name "Eddie."
Sometimes it's nice having an "Eddie" around.
Number One: You don't have to try as hard to look good at work.
Number Two: It gives you something to laugh at especially on the really tough shifts...that's when they generally screw up even more and STILL try to act like they really have it going on and YOU'RE the dummy.
Number Three: I guess when I was really young I was an "Eddie." I hope I wasn't quite as lazy or shiftless...actually I KNOW I wasn't.
All in all I dismiss most of it to being a kid.
I think ALL people are kids until they are approaching their thirties. Some are slow learners and remain kids late into their thirties, and have even known some people to be ridiculously inept and unreliable well into their fifties.
"Stupidity doesn't discriminate."
It's like getting in line behind someone at the Cable company, bank or Verizon store that wants to argue every point, ask every question and wage every battle in the little window of time they have face to face with a company representative (that obviously couldn't care less and is in absolutely no position to change or do anything about your complaints and grievances.)
But they will still stand there and waste MY time and everyone else's.
When will they learn?
When will they realize no matter what bank, cable or cell phone provider you choose...they're gonna put the screws to you. You signed on the bottom line, you gave them your social security number, you waited in line so long to sign up for service your eyes are too tired to read the tiny print, you sign and hope you've signed with the "Least Evil."
There should be two lines in these offices. One line should be "Compliant" and the other "Combative."
If you are retired with nothing to do or extremely rich, get in the "Combative" line...and "Good Luck."
If you are like me and have five minutes to pay a bill get back in the car and be at the high school before your daughter starts calling and sending you texts and hope you don't run out of gas on the way back to work because you don't have time to stop...get in the "Compliant" line.
I can't wait to be old and combative...geez, I just hope I get to be old. The rest will all be gravy.
Don't get me wrong, if you are flat out wrong I will press the point and usually win the battle.
If you are a company that didn't exist or wasn't even a factor in life forty years ago (cable, cellular, Internet) I know you are gouging me.
I grew up perfectly healthy and happy without Internet, cable and a cell phone.
I know it can be done...can somebody tell my KIDS that?
What does it mean when you are living in the "Jetson" years and working with an "Eddie Haskell?'
I am "Lost in Space."
My universes are thing I know Fred Flintstone will be knocking at my door telling me Tim didn't pay his "Water Buffalo" dues and Wilma was "tweeting" about him being a "Dead Beat Buffalo."
Til next time... COTTON

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Just a Glimpse...

Here's a glimpse of me "Resting my eyes" between shifts at the last competition...and what a glorious rest it was! I never knew how comfy a hard plastic bleacher in a gym could be even with Teddy the Tyrant booming out criticism and corrections. He sounded like a Sugar Plum to me and sent me into a thirty minute, much needed sweet coma. I chose the behind shot...the other one looked like an ninety year old woman sleeping in a hall of the nursing home unattended.

At least I still have a twenty year old "Booty."

The uniforms were ready for this past competition and looked FANTASTIC. They go great with the theme of the show.

Of course I chose Massey for the close least I know her mom doesn't mind me using her close up in my blog!

I used a few other kids to show the enormous size of the sets.

Behind the guard to the left is a pic of ONE of the four swing sets that are put up and taken down before and after each show in under two minutes.

In the background of this shot you can see three of the FIVE slides that are put together and taken down again as well.

It's incredible what these Props people do. It's also incredible that they were desperate enough to let me be part of the team!

It's even more incredible what this team of up and coming young adults can do when they put aside peer pressure, pettiness and pride.

They are a championship team, have been called that by judges and will always be champions to me.

When you are fifty like me and had some recent hard knocks, it's very comforting to still be able to remember AND experience those wonderful ( back then from dramatic to horrific) years and know that in a few more short ones YOUR child will realize the blink of an eye, high school will be over and end up being a tiny blip on the huge radar of life .

I am so lucky to have this wonderful connection to youth and be able to enjoy it with not only my daughter but 75 of MY closest friends.

Those four years did end up to be a blip...but in hindsight, it was a pretty FUN blip.

Where can I sign up for a "Do Over?"

Til next Time....COTTON

PS As always click on the pics for larger view...except for my Butt shot.