Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wine is Fine...

 This was the first and only notation I made in my 83 page wine pamphlet. Barb took me to a wine tasting today and "Boy was I a fish out of water." Double click on the photo and look at the price of this wine!
 And that's what the restaurant buys it for!
 I couldn't imagine spending well over a hundred dollars for a bottle of wine but obviously people do it.
 Barb took me and one of the bartenders to the wine tasting. The bartender knew a lot more about the wines than I did...I think they just took me for entertainment purposes.
 The above photo is the view out the back window. It was a fancy affair and a great way to spend my only day off.
We saw quite an eclectic group of people. Some were "Dapper Dans" like the guy above and some were in jeans and flannel shirts. Some had horrendous mullets and some didn't even look old enough to drink. I will say I have learned quite a bit about wines working at Mama Lucia's. Before I worked there I thought Foxhorn was a pretty okay wine.

I still don't get  the swirling but do it anyway. I still gave it a sniff before taking a snort. Some I like better than others but what amazed my tiny mind was the buffet table! Barb pointed out the food table to me on the map they gave her as soon as we entered and it was like I was in food Heaven...FOR FREE!

Foie de gras, Crepes with Duck, Brie, Salmon with dill horseradish sauce, Roasted Pork, Dates wrapped with proscuitto and crumbled bleu cheese and even Twinkies with bacon bits. They had all kinds of breads cut up, grapes, was Heaven on a small plate.

I met a lot of people and drank a lot of wine. It was a wonderful day off! I was home by 8 PM and blogging by nine.

Yes I have a wonderful job. Yes I have wonderful bosses. Yes I will have a headache in the morning!

Til next time....COTTON

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's a Hair Cut Not Brain Surgery

I work a lot. I don't have spare time or money. I get my hair cut for fourteen bucks...$6.99 when they send me a coupon. I always  tip at  least 30% with or without the coupon.
I went between shifts to get my "HURR DID." I walked in and the woman who normally cuts my hair wasn't there. I rolled the dice and just signed in. They told me it would be a fifteen minute wait so I signed in and went to get gas. I came back and sat down. An older gent came in after me and signed in and then a girl came in and signed in after least I was first! (so I thought)

They called Paw Paw back first which kinda irritated me but I love me some old people and let it slide. Then they called the girl back and she said "I'm waiting for Mary" and sat back down. Then they finally called MY name. I was almost ticked by  this point but let it slide...once again.

I walked up to the counter and the girl smacking gum behind the counter looked at her little screen and said "So you get a razor cut?"  I said I did and  the gum smacker said "I don't do razor cuts you'll have to wait for Mary."

Why did I have to wait for Mary? I was in line before Pee Paw and the big chick. If  the big chick wants Mary...she should wait for Mary to get done with ME. The big chick  had big hair. My hair is two inches long and takes about five minutes to cut.

Next on my list of grips is why this woman didn't know how to give a razor cut? It's not like I'm asking her to remove a tumor from my brain, I just wanted a hair cut. If you are a hair dresser shouldn't you know how to cut hair? Shouldn't you know how to cut it any way the customer wants? "Heck" I learned about razor cuts FROM my hairdresser and I'm pretty sure she isn't a rocket scientist and if she is she is grossly underpaid.

I told the gum smacker I was on  break from work and would just come back later.

I'll be honest I was ticked. Yes they only charge  $14.00 for a haircut but I always tip them at least five bucks and it takes them five minutes to do it. You do the math...

I called back today disguising my voice and asked when my "Girl" was working? I'm going in the morning to get my "Hurr Did" and will give her a forty percent tip and tell her Mary  is a loser.

I don't have time for unecessary drama...I barely have time to breathe.

Til next time ...COTTON

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Hard Day's Night

 I can't believe this little boy is nineteen now!

So Zach is officially working!! He is working in the kitchen of the restaurant where I work.  It's not easy working in any kitchen...most definitely not in this one. He has no experience, where most all  our cooks have culinary degrees or extensive training. He was thrown to the wolves and has somehow survived for over a week now. New cooks are usually subjected to hazing that could make a FAMU freshman shudder. Okay, they haven't killed him but it has been rough.

I am sure a lot of it was because they all thought "Mama pulled a few strings." I really didn't... or maybe I did. I just asked my boss to give him a chance and he complied. I thought they would start him off making salads and dropping taters in the fryer. His first night the owner had him working the line with him learning to make Chicken Parmigiana and other entrees. Zach seemed pumped but beat like a drum when he got home. He screwed up a couple of things but was introduced to a ton of things...mainly one of the best chefs I have ever known.

There  are three invisible lines in any restaurant. One divides the hosts from the servers another divides the servers from the cooks and the last one separates the cooks from everyone. The cooks are behind the line (literally) and verbally shoot at will or whim. They are always right, even when they are wrong. They all think servers are idiots. They may have a point about servers, some are. Those servers are in it solely for the money...THEIR money  and could care less about anything else.

 Me? I do it because it is my job and chosen career. I'm not graduating from college in a year. I'm not graduating in two or even four years... I'm raising a family.

Zach had a rough shift this past weekend and thankfully I had already left.  The owner is half Italian and half French. His wife is half Polish and half German. Their son is half insane half the time. They have most of Europe covered between them and most of the heritage background includes some mighty explosive temperment. Zach took a verbal beating but weathered it. When I heard about it my heart hurt for him.

I did nothing but  listen to Zach vent on the ride home. I picked him up at one in the morning. Everyone else had left and he was standing in the parking lot by himself. His dew rag was sideways with the flap flying in the wind like a kercheif with him looking like an abused animal. He told me about his night and I simply said "Just let it go, it's over."

I told him when I first started working there,  their son had come down hard on me one day and made me cry.  Zach asked "What did you do?" I told him I did what any other grown fifty year old woman would do...I tattled on him to his daddy.

The difference is I was an emotional wreck when I started working there. We were being threatened with foreclosure and having utilities cut off and couldn't even buy dog food much less REAL food.

Zach has to tough it out...step it up a notch and prove his worth.

That's the problem with most kids today...they are wimps and spoiled rotten. My kid's aren't spoiled rotten by any means but have never had to face the "Real World."

My husband told me Zach will be just fine...his biggest problem is he's just like me. Dang! I always thought that was his Forte' !!

I left work tonight after working another double shift and picking up another shift tomorrow. I have Wednesday off...Barb is taking me to a wine expo at the High Museum in Atlanta.  Guess I better eat breakfast on Wednesday!

Raising kids used to be easy. Raising teens now is brutal. It's not the same as when I was a teen. When I was a teen you turned eighteen and you were gone from the nest for good.

I love my kids... would and often HAVE gone the extra mile for them.  I say a prayer daily for all of them. I am still living and learning at the tender age of almost fifty two.

Life can be tough...more often than not but I'm still hanging on and hanging in there. I have a great job and relentlessly trying to take care of my own.

Heading to bed and hopefully getting up to do it all again tomorrow.
Til next time...COTTON

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's Bad When Six Year Old's Beat You Down

Went into work at 4:30. I like this shift because I get extra tables before all the other servers get there for the dinner was no different, well maybe just a little.
I had a couple of tables going when I got a party of ten. Five fathers with their daughters having dinner before heading to a Father/Daughter dance. The Dad's got the party started early..."Cocktails!"

The girls had on makeup and eyeliner and fancy dresses. They ordered cocktails too. "A round of Shirley Temples please." The girls were all pumped up and the father's were catching up pretty quickly!  I got another couple of tables and had my hands full by the time the little Divas were ready to order. The girls were singing at the top of their little lungs "I have my hands in  the air...goin' OH OH." The other people in the room with them didn't seem to be having as much fun but the Dad's didn't seem to mind.

By  the time they were ready for their checks I was what we call in the industry "Balls to the wall." They wanted me to split the two appetizers five ways on five different checks and all of the sudden were in a hurry for me to do it. The girls had kicked it up a notch and were once again singing together with their arms all waving in unison and one Dad saying he needed one more drink. Heck..."I" needed a drink!

I had to give one of my other tables away because I was so frazzled with splitting the checks and appetizers, getting that last cocktail for the dad and making sure I had every  thing on the right check. It's the first  time I have ever had five little Diva's put me in the weeds. For you folks that have never been a server...being in the weeds is being so busy you  can't even see straight or catch up. It's truly just like running through really tall grass cutting through it with your arms flailing and hoping to see a clear patch up ahead.

I don't know who was happier when they finally or the people who endured five little girls singing Nicki Minaj at  the top of their little lungs while they attempted to have a quiet dinner five feet from them. I was so flustered and in such a time warp. When you  get in the weeds, it's like real time stops. You  lose all concept of time and don't know if five minutes or half a hour have passed since you  checked on another table. I was sweating like Mel Gibson at The Apollo and felt all panicky. The dad's finally all paid and tromped out the door with their "Little Missie's" in tow. It took me thirty more minutes to settle back into the groove of things but I did.

Two hours later it was all over. The dad's had left me a fifty dollar tip so it was worth it in the long run...but it felt like a REALLY long run and one I was happy to be over.

Zach is still at work cleaning up and I have to go back and pick him up but I am proud of him for making it through his first week. It isn't easy working in the kitchen but he has hung in there and only cut his finger once. He suddenly has a new appreciation for what I do for a living.

Dreading working a double shift tomorrow but at least we close at  8:30 and I will in bed with the pups by 9:30. It's funny what makes you happy when you are over fifty.

Til next  time...COTTON

Friday, February 24, 2012

Getting My Boost On

Today I worked a double shift. Went in at 10:30 and worked the lunch shift. I had to be back at 5:30 and Zach had to be there at 5:00. If I took him to work that would mean I had to go in thirty minutes early. I am all about some rest between shifts. Now that I take one day off a week I have gotten lazy and WANT my time off even more. Tim was snoozing in the "Black Out" bedroom and wasn't going to come out of hibernation til eleven PM so I told Zach to take his Dad's car to work which left me with thirty more minutes of laying flat on my back. (so as to not muss my "hurr" or makeup) I drove my own car to work thirty minutes later and would be off early enough to drive Tim's car back home for him to leave for work at midnight and Zach could drive my car home when he got off .

Problem!! Tim's car has a wiring problem and his seats don't move. (see previous post) Tim is almost six foot three and I am five foot three. It took us almost a year to just get his transmission fixed and paid for...electric seat controls are WAY down the list. Like the scrambler I am I didn't worry about it until I clocked out at ten. When I was checking out with the manager in the office I mentioned my driving dilemma. My manager said to just take one of the booster seats we use for kids and bring it back tomorrow. When I went to leave my ole buddy "Hoke" (a server that I absolutely adore and will miss when he gets fired from screwing up at least three times a week) saw me with the booster seat and asked what I was doing with it?  I told him what I was doing and he said "I gotta get a picture of this."

I left five minutes later with my booster seat in tow and when I opened the door to Tim's car saw Hoke crouched in front of Tim's car with his cell phone taking a picture of me with my booster seat. I told him I didn't need to sit in it but needed to put it behind my back to scoot me up so I could press the gas pedal. He said he didn't think I could fit my butt in it anyway.

Don't challenge me! I put the booster in the driver's seat and squeezed my butt right into it. He squealed with idiotic delight and said "Hang on let me take another picture!" He was laughing like a Hyena and when he showed me the pic of me sitting in the booster seat I have to admit I laughed too.

I said "I guess you are going back in to show everyone else"  to which he replied "Damn straight."

I drove home with that hard plastic booster seat digging into my back but enabling me to reach the gas and brakes. I stopped and bought Tim some gas so he wouldn't have to stop on the way to work. My booster seat fell out of the car when I got out but luckily no one noticed.

My life is a comedy of errors, my life is actually a hoot. It was in the crapper for a long time but now that I have survived the fall  I can even laugh at my crazy life. I LIKE being crazy, makes every day an adventure and another blog!

I'm going to get Hoke to email me the pic of me on my booster seat and will post it!

Til next  time...COTTON

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Get By With a Little Help From Your Friends

I was all excited because I just worked the day shift today and had tonight ALL to myself! Massey was working tonight, Zach was too and Tim was in the "Black Out" bedroom sleeping til 11PM for work. I got off at four and went home to pick the kids up and take them back for their shift. I stopped at  the gas station on the way back home and filled up my gas can. Went directly into the bathroom downstairs right off the kitchen and peeled off  work tights skirt and blouse leaving them in a heap on the floor. Proudly put on my John Deere T shirt and a pair of Capri's, tied on my tennis shoes and went straight back out to the garage.

The weather has been freaky here. Today was 74 degrees with hurricane force winds (not really but the wind was whipping around like crazy,) It has been so warm that all my bulbs are up and many flowers have already bloomed. My grass actually NEEDED the middle of February!

I went into the garage and moved the drop cord and step stool off  "Ole Johnny Dear" and noticed that in his state of winter hibernation two tires had gone almost flat. No worries...I always have a couple of fix a flats...actually I may be a stock holder in the Fix a Flat company. I pumped the ole boy up, filled his tank and set out a roaring! Mostly I just needed to cut back the weeds  mulch the leaves and with the wind at my back then in my face and then whirling all around me I finished in just under a hour.

I was going back over the yard to spread out all the clippings when my neighbor, Mr. "Slow"Lee came sauntering out of his garage to lean across the back of his diesel truck to have a smoke and stare at me...which meant "Are you gonna cut my yard too?"

For Pete's sake! I didn't want to but as long as ole Johnny was pumped up and filled up I may as well cross the great divide I call my driveway and make the ole coot happy. I finished his front yard in about thirty minutes and even attempted to cut his back but it was too wet and after getting Johnny stuck in mud twice I gave up. I had clippings of grass and leaves all in my face and hair and even had mud all over my back side where I got stuck in his lowland areas. I rode back to my side of the driveway and took my now muddy shoes off. (I had to push the mower out of the mud twice)  I came in  the kitchen and the phone was ringing. I looked at  the caller ID.  It was work calling. I answered the phone and Massey said "We need you  to come in, we have a party of 20 a party of 14 and another 10 just walked in." I told her I had just gotten off the mower and was covered in clippings and mud. She said to shower and hurry back!

Massey likes to bus tables but hates to seat. People get unusually ugly when it's a teen at  the host stand and tend to frighten even the adult hosts so I couldn't much blame her.

Since I talked her into going in tonight to help because they had a few large parties I immediately felt guilty. A shower was out of the question, by  the time I got there they would be buried beyond rescue. I went back into the bathroom  got my work clothes off the floor and pulled them back on. I drove back to work with the windows down and the clippings flying out of my hair at an almost amazing pace. I was back at work fifteen minutes after hanging up the phone with her.

The twenty top fizzled, one person showed up only to find out somehow she was a week early. I helped out for a few minutes and calmed Massey's nerves by staying at the host stand while she bused and reset the the tables. (Her forte')

I left around 8:15 so I could go home and pull my lawn mower back into the garage before everyone in the neighborhood was asleep. (Johnny ain't real quiet and I always put "baby in the corner" of the garage to sleep)

Less than a hour later I made my fourth trip to the restaurant in less  than ten hours. It was if nothing had ever happened. The place was all but empty, cleaned up with no evidence of the chaos I walked into.

I didn't do much when I was there but all it takes is one person to take up the slack help a few people with just a few things and  make the whole process flow a LOT smoother.

Barb gave me a bottle of wine...that's all the thanks I need! The bartender tried to tip me out but the offer is all that matters. She forced the money onto Massey to give to me but I'll let Massey keep it...she hung in there when the pressure hit and deserves it more than me. It's a crazy place where I work but a crazy place that kept our heads above water for quite sometime. What helps even more is all the people working tonight were people  I would help at any time for any reason and they in kind would and HAVE often done the same for me.

For the first time  EVERYONE in my family is working...including all three kids. If they are willing to help who am I to not help THEM?

"You get by with a little help from your friends."

We are steadily, sometimes shaky but always constantly getting to a better place. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and it seems I am raising giants and couldn't be prouder!

It's Karma. It's the Golden Rule...It's getting by  with  a little help from your friends.

Til next time..PROUD COTTON

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sometimes Ya Gotta Take Chances

The other day I went to the grocery store with Massey and her friend who had spent the night. It was supposed to start raining so I wanted to go and get back before I went into work and have to go after I got off in the pouring down rain. I'd say it is about five miles to the store. On the way home we were less than a mile from the house when I passed a woman walking down a lone stretch off road near the turn off for my neighborhood. For some reason Massey and her friend were both in the back seat leaving the passenger seat next to me empty. As we passed the woman I remarked that I should turn around and ask her if she needed a ride. She was carrying a purse over her shoulder and carrying a tote bag. No rifle strapped across her back and she didn't give me the finger when we whizzed by...looked pretty safe to me, although who am I to judge what's "Normal?"

Massey and her friend both said "Go for it" so I turned around and went back. She was in a stretch of the road with no houses on it for at least a half mile either way. I slowed and rolled my window down and asked if she needed a ride? As  the impatient red neck behind me screamed around us like I had stopped to check under the hood or rotate my tires...the woman paused half a second and said "Sure, that would be great."

Getting into my Lil' Beemer is like crawling into a clown car at the circus but since Massey and her friend were both in the back seat it was a lot easier for her to crawl in the front with her bags.

Her purse was open on the floorboard between her legs and I didn't see a Glock sticking out of it or the handle of a hunting off we went!  She spoke in a hushed and monotone voice and I will admit it was kind of spooky sounding but since she had obviously been walking for a while carrying two bags and was glistening with perspiration, I knew I could take her if I had to.

By this time the girls were in the back seat silently texting each other on their phones plotting what they would do if she turned out to be a whack job. I asked her where she needed to go (silently hoping she wouldn't say Alabama or California) when she said "Just to Kroger."

I introduced myself , Massey and her friend by name and she said in the same hushed tone as she turned to look at them in  the back seat "I'm not a bad person, I'm an engineer."

I tried to lighten the mood and said "That's great! I'm a huge TECH fan, my brother and brother in law both went to Ga. Tech...GO Jackets!"

She said she was out of a job and once again I empathized with her. I told her my husband had been out of work for over a year and told her about a couple of websites he had used to try and find work.

"She said I don't have Internet."

Okay, she doesn't have a job, doesn't have a car and doesn't have Internet. That doesn't make her a bad person or mass murderer. I asked her how long it took her to walk to the store and she replied in the same (almost sexual nature of a 900 number sex operator partner) "About two hours."

By  this time we arrived back at the store we had left twenty minutes ago. She climbed out of my little clown car and whispered a hushed "Thank You."

On our way back home (for the second time) I told Massey and her friend a story my parents had told me.

My Diddy's parents grew up in the heights of the Great Depression. My grand father owned a used car lot so I suppose they were better off than most. They picked up a hitch hiker one night on their way home. They asked him where he was going and he really didn't know so they simply took him home with them.  We always called my grandparents "Big Daddy and Big Mama."  Big Daddy and Big Mama took the hitch hiker home with them. They fed him let him bathe and gave him a bag of clean clothes to take with him when he left in  the morning after offering him a place to sleep for the night.

They woke in the morning to find the hitch hiker gone. He left, taking the bag of clothes leaving them a note.

"I intended to rob and kill you both but you were so gracious and generous that I couldn't ."

Sometimes you have to take chances. My grandparents were lucky...they were great people, so great that even a bad person knew they were good.

I didn't get robbed, but I met a quirky person. You have to take chances, you have to trust yourself and you have to have faith in your fellow man.

Do unto others...a firm rule to live by!

Til next  time...COTTON

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Long but Lucrative Day

I don't have insomnia often, maybe it helps that I tend to work till I drop...sometimes almost literally. Last night I turned in before two. (early by  MY weekend standards)  Finally turned off the TV by 2:30 knowing I had to be at work by 11 AM. At three I trudged downstairs and went back to bed with a bag of chips and a bottle of water. Ate a few chips and watched a bit more of the "Whitney-Thon." I tried turning off the boob tube again but  after a hour of tossing and turning decided it was better to at least be LOOKING at something other than a dark ceiling. A little after four  I yawned, took it as a good sign and turned the TV off again. NO GO!
I even tried reciting menu items from work starting with the letter "A" and working my way through the alphabet.

At five I began an old trick I read about in a book given to me when in my hippie years, by a doofus boyfriend.  Think of everything that was yellow. What's orange, then, blue and by  the time you get to the color purple you were supposed to be asleep. Unfortunately by the time I named everything I could think of the sun was coming up and my face was purple in frustration.

The thing about insomnia with me hour before I have to get up I fall into the deepest most Heavenly sleep of my life. Thank goodness everyone else in the house was up by 9:30 and knew I had to be up by  ten. First I decided I had showered less than twenty four hours earlier and could skip one since I was only working a day shift. Then  added ten more minutes to my nap by deciding my work shirt and skirt from last night were still stain free and with a shot of "Febreeze" would be good as new.

Then I added five more minutes by remembering  I took a shower yesterday so I certainly washed my hair which is short anyway and only takes a warm wash cloth to tame back into shape.

BAM!  With twenty minutes til  time to clock in I left the house. Tim handed me a cup of coffee, had me a bagel toasted and four sausage links in a baggie. I was good to go!

Clocked in thinking I only had a day shift to endure and would back  home by four. No such luck...even BETTER luck! We had a pretty steady stream of people and by four when I was ready to clock out two customers that always ask for me walked in. He is an anesthesiologist and I have been waiting on him and his wife since I worked at the Western Sizzler.

He is a crusty ole codger and it  took me forever to win him over but once I did  has been a loyal regular and last Christmas gave me quite a bonus in a Christmas card. Last time he was in,  Massey was working and I introduced her to them. She told him she was working to buy herself a car. Before they left he asked me to send Massey by  their table. He handed her a ten and told her to add it to her car fund.

When I went back to their table to present the check  his wife said "When my husband gave your daughter the money to help with her car fund she leaned over and gave him the biggest tightest hug of his lifetime and totally caught him off guard." My friend Dr. Crusty said  "I wasn't expecting that hug and your girl made my day."

Bounce back to today...I was walking out when they walked in. They asked if I would mind staying to wait on them? I told them I'd be ticked if they didn't let me.

They have come to love the restaurant. They used to come in and simply order dinner entrees and leave. I have led them through all the different things we offer and now they start with an appettizer of Mussell's Caprese followed by Mediterrean salad then an entree. He loves his Pinot Noir and his wife loves Barb's selection of hot tea. He usually orders a dessert (who wouldn't) and a nice coffee drink.

When they first sat down they thanked me for staying to wait on them and Dr. Crusty asked how Massey's car fund was coming? I told him she was well over two hundred and had worked last night which would add another fifty. He handed me another ten and told me to give it to her.

They sat in the back of the restaurant and at one point asked me if we were remoldeling or tearing the place apart?  I quickly realized they heard the cooks in the back pounding the Veal and Chicken. It's kinda loud but what makes our meat so tender and quite delectable. Since they are close to my age we had a discussion about mallets. My momma had one...and I often think about how I need one. It makes meat so tender and is one of the many reasons our product is far and above most others.

I stayed an extra hour to wait on them. It didn't bother me at all, actualy it made me realize once again how lucky I am to have regulars that ASK for me and WANT me to wait on them. They gave my daughter ten bucks when she wasn't even there and gave me a twenty percent tip.

I had bought a big ole pork roast last night and Tim was putting it in the crock pot when I left for work this morning. By the time I got off dinner would be ready!

I came home and told Massey that Dr. Nunez had sent her ten more bucks and she immediately said "I just love him, don't you?" That's my girl.

People that think I don't have a real job must either be Steve Job's relatives that were included in the will or complete idiots.

I went to college. I worked for the school system for seven years. I tried the traditional way and it just wasn't for me.  I am more of a "HEY...Don't ya just love me for me,  person."

Different strokes for different folks. I am lucky to have found  my calling and my forte' not to mention a way to raise three kids and  still not hate going into work.

It's not for everyone and I realize that. What I also realize is that I shouldn't feel like a failure in life for "Just being a server."

I should sleep good tonight and not even have to use that stupid method of counting stupid colors that I learned from that stupid guy I was even stupider for dating in my stupid twenties.

Did I mention most people are stupid when they are young?

Til next  time...COTTON

Friday, February 17, 2012

It's a Family Affair

Here's a picture of me and the kids at work....Friday is dress down day. Massey joined the team during the holidays and Zach started tonight. I look a little frazzled because it was a long twelve hour day.

I've been with the restaurant for almost two years  and it has literally been a salvation...mentally financially and emotionally. When I got fired from the Western Sizzler I was completely devastated not to mention totally broke. My husband had been out of work for a year  and I hadn't been fired from a job since I was twenty and totally irresponsible. Here I was almost fifty and one of the most dedicated employees they had and they kicked me to the curb like a piece of trash. (not that I'm still bitter in the least)

Massey has come on board as a hostess/buser. She cleans tables and resets them and seats people when forced to. She isn't crazy about being up front at the door...the public tends to get ugly when they have to wait for a table. She fits right in and everybody loves her...especially Barb and Len.

Zach has floundered since graduating high school and I have been more than lenient with him. He didn't know what he wanted to do, did some things he now knows he shouldn't do and simply wondered what to do. I think I am soft on him because I was exactly like him at his age. Totally lost with no direction or motivation. Zach and I are so alike personality wise that we often, VERY often butts heads and wits. He has a great sense of humor (like me) and a brilliant mind (I wish like me) but I love him. I love all my kids. If they were perfect  all the time they wouldn't be MY kids and would be a lot less fun to be around. One by one they have found their way, each taking a different path and often their own sweet time.

A friend of mine from high school has a great lead for Zach on a part time job and actually when I checked my voicemail after getting home tonight he had a call from them.

A couple of days ago I talked to Len about getting Zach on board with us at  the restaurant. He has always been interested in cooking and they needed some more help so I mentioned Zach to him. After talking with him they decided to give him a chance. They told him to come in on  Monday to train. Zach was glad to start on a slower day.

Today I opened the store and around noon Len told me a cook had called out and to call Zach and see if he could start tonight.

Zach was more than apprehensive about starting on a Friday night and I couldn't much blame him.  He said he'd come in but I could tell he dreaded it. No one wants to start in a restaurant on a Friday night at 5:30. I got off from the lunch shift and picked him up from the house, Massey from school and took them to get something to eat. By the time we got home it was time to go back to work.

I  thought they would start Zach off down on the salad station where most all new hires start.

NOPE! He was with the owner on the far end where they expedite the dinners...he was Len's "Bee-och" for the night.

He got home about a hour behind me and said it was the most fun and interesting job he has ever had. He said he made one dish and Len commented "You could have put more effort into that one." Zach  said he nodded and kept on going.

I am so relieved that my man/boy is working and I can tell that he is too.

 I work for good people and I work hard for them. In kind they have helped not only me out but my daughter and now my son.

It's a family affair...on their end AND ours! The waters are receding, the sun seems to be rising and my life is returning to what us Clampetts consider normalcy. We don't need much...a cement pond is WAY down the road but at least we haven't been kicked out of our house and all three kids have joined the work force!

I'm done with all my double shifts for the week and it is smooth sailing through the weekend. Life is good. Life is a puzzle. Life is always interesting. (when you are a Clampett)

It's so nice to feel good about myself again. It's so nice to feel good about all  three of my kids. It's actually just great to still be kicking!

One of my favorite blog readers came in to eat her free dessert for mentioning my blog and I got to meet her mother. My buddy "Hoke" waited on her. He's a doofus but I love him to death...or maybe he is just always saying "You're killing me."

I tend to do that...just ask Tim!

Til next  time, a tired but contented COTTON

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hope Cupid is a Good Shot (to my bank account)

The weekend at work was awesome and people seemed to be throwing money at me and lucky for me I had my catchers mitt on! I took yesterday off for Tim's birthday and we switched my plans to include all of us here at  the house. (We needed it) We took him out to eat a little mom/pop southern cooking place that the kids and I discovered a couple of weeks ago. A meat and two sides for six bucks. They close at three on Sundays and we got there around two.

We sat down and a girl who I have never seen took our drink order and said the waitress would be right over. This is a totally non fancy no frills kind of place but the food is good and at least we were all eating together for the first time in MONTHS!

We immediately got into a family conversation (which we rarely do anymore) and attempted to try to figure out how we had lost the family balance and in fact any semblance of being a family. We were probably five minutes into to the conversation when someone came over and asked if we had ordered? They were immediately upset  they had dropped the ball and went to get us a waitress... but WE had,  in the time given solved about four issues...with fifty more to go.

A waitress that has waited on me and the kids before skittered over to the table...apologized about ten times and took our order. She is one of the sweetest people I have ever met but even Zach said "She's a little ditsy."

We ordered and continued our family debate. Tim seems to be disgusted with me (I can't blame him I have been a bitch since I imposed fifty hour work weeks on myself and for some stupid reason refused to take days off.)

The food was delivered to the table and looked pretty good. We all sat looking at it...none of us had a fork or knife. We sat there for about two minutes when a woman came over and said "I guess we didn't tell you this was eat with your hands day" and gave us all silverware. I love it...humor as an apology is the way I would always choose.

I said "Glad I didn't order the soup."

You know what? It didn't bother any of us. We laughed about it but enjoyed some really good baked hen and dressing, turnip greens, mashed potatoes, baby lima's and mac and cheese.

I work in a full service upscale restaurant but I am no better than the people that work in the little restaurant we took Tim to.

The food was good the service was hysterical and I will eat there again and again. I'm not a  food snob...I'm a person that supports the little people. There seems to be a lot more little people that need help in the world I am currently living in.

It's been a while since I have had a waitress wearing flip flops... at least she is working, smiling and trying...I'd rather tip her than a big corporate restaurant. Support your community, support the people you live with and it will help  support the lifestyle you moved there for. So what she wears flip flops? They serve a mean country fried steak and  she always hollers "Hello" to me when I walk in.

Zach is starting to work with me tomorrow. He is going to help bus tables and I have talked to Len about him beginning to work in the kitchen starting at the bottom. Zach has taken some knocks, many of his own  choosing but now has a great opportunity. Barb and Len saved me...and saved me good! Zach has always been interested in culinary arts and I have complete faith that this may be the thing to peak his interest or at least get him started.

So that cute boy in the above the way that is my fave pic of him is starting to work with me. What a great Valentine's Day present.

Til next time...COTTON

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, Tim

 So my husband just turned fifty about a hour ago. He is upstairs snoozing away and I just got home from work. The above photo was taken shortly after we met and before we got married...see how happy he still looks!
 He asked me to marry him on our third date...I should have known then he wasn't much of a thinker but after two years of putting him off we finally wed in his parent's backyard on a warm September afternoon.
 Just like I still am over a quarter of a century later... I planned it all and did the reception myself, the only thing I didn't prepare myself was the wedding cake. It was a lot of fun, we married by  the pool in his parents back yard next  to the  the shuffle board court (he grew up a LOT different than me) and had our reception in their pool house. We flew to California the next  day and spent a week, flying into San Francisco and driving up to  Sacramento, up to the wine country and then to Tahoe. We drove back down the Pacific Coast Highway and flew out of Los Angeles a week later...still crazy in love.

 TJ was just four years old (he was two when we met) and Tim was lean and mean. He had a good job running a route for a bakery and left for work at three in the morning. I worked for Johnny's Pizza as a manager and worked nights. Very conducive for having more kids and never having to hire a baby sitter.
 A new house and two kids later he assumed this position and has never recovered. Sometimes I think I hear him in the bathroom beating his head against the wall screaming "She wasn't THAT stupid AM I?"  I'll be the first to admit I am a bit of a challenge (trying to make myself feel better here.)

Tim and I are absolute and complete opposites. I bet he has said maybe a thousand words since we met and I say about two hundred per minute. He listened to me for about the first year but had ear plugs secretly implanted by our second anniversary and has just learned to say when I shout out my commands and lists of things to do... "I'll do my best" and either walk away or simply wait for me to leave for work. I honestly think it worked great for the first couple of decades.

 We were sitting Phat and had reached the six figure income bracket. We weren't rich by any means but had a hefty 401K and each had pretty secure jobs. He got chunky around the waist and never wanted to admit it. He still wanted me to still buy him size 32" jeans when I KNEW he was at LEAST a "34.
 Jeez Louise, why squeeze your gonads to death ? We already have three kids and I gave you  the wonderfully thoughtful gift of a vasectomy for Christmas...including the co pay and the bag of frozen peas for your recovery in the recliner.
We were raising three pretty great kids and living the American dream. Then just as suddenly the bottom dropped out and we were below  the poverty line and had the younger two kids on Peach Care, I had to file for food stamps and unemployment and we tumbled and tumbled and tumbled. It's been a two year battle, but battle we did!
It has taken a toll on all of us and of course I felt like I had to do the most (I always do.) He had to take a part time job stocking store shelves over night and parked cars at an auto auction in the mornings. I kept on waiting tables and never stopped. I had a new job where they never said I was in over time so I worked and worked and worked and worked. I was okay until year number two started to roll around and then I simply snapped. I honestly don't know why he is still with me. I bitch at him  more than I do  the dogs. I don't mean to but the dogs always wag those cute little short tails and snuggle up close while Tim just skulks around and waits for me to either get tired of talking or leave for work.
We have almost made it. We are close and it is because BOTH of us have worked our butts off and literally hundreds of people have helped us.  So Tim is turning fifty (Thank God) I hate being older than him although I have beaten him down into thinking he is sixty.

I took his birthday off and that in itself almost killed me. It's Valentine's weekend and when you are a server you have to strike when the iron is hot. I had to take a step back and look at our life. It has sucked for two years. He has put up with my big fat mouth and taken all my verbal punches. He deserves a day for just HIM. My boss is treating us for dinner at his restaurant. I could take him somewhere else but there isn't a better place to eat within a thirty mile radius and why turn down a freebie?

   He has stuck it out. He has been a stand up guy,  a stand up Dad and a stand up husband. Being married to me cannot be easy...heck I feel like being ME isn't easy.
It's time to give credit where credit is due. Yes I am a work horse albeit a skinny one, but that is my nature. I work like a demon but tend to throw it in Tim's face  too often. It's not like he's still sitting in the recliner with his bag of frozen peas.  The finances are getting back to semi's time to get my marriage back to normal. If I was Tim married to ME I would have bailed two years ago.

"For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in  health til death do us part."

Til next time...COTTON

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Three Valentines...They Melt and Fill My Heart

 I have three kids.
 I love them equally,  get mad at  them equally...but for the most part they have equally been the greatest pleasure and treasure of my life.
What makes it even better is that not only do I enjoy their company but they still all seem to enjoy mine.

My oldest  came out of high school with an extremely high GPA and I never even saw him crack a book. He went straight into college on the Hope scholarship, straight into a Fraternity and his GPA went straight  down the drain. We paid for one semester but he decided to join the work force like so many other kids with grand ideas which in actuality means they have "No idea." He floundered a bit but has landed on his feet and makes me proud that he is doing it all on his own. We wanted to help him  more but when the proverbial financial axe fell on our household and he was in his twenties...we not so gently shooed him out of the nest and hoped for the best. He made it. He seems to be doing well with his movie star good looks working for a Toyota dealership selling cars. If anyone can sell a woman a car it's him. He is dangerously handsome and has a winning personality and dazzling smile. (Thanks to the three grand I spent on braces and retainers)

Next in line is my son "Bill (Zachary Cotton) Gates."  I swear he is the smartest person I have ever met and the icing on the cake (or his terrible misfortune) is he has MY personality! But just like I did, he is fumbling in his late teens. He didn't GET through high school, we had to pull parental rank often and push him through while listening to him scream out his disparity of how cruel unjust and messed up society is. He was always right in his arguments often wrong in his methods but the only kid that got a standing ovation from the janitorial staff at graduation.

I could have done so much in my late teens but chose not to...a choice I still regret to this day. It makes me feel better that he is at least a hundred times smarter than me and I have full confidence that he will make his mark and the entire world will stop to listen.

Then I have my girl. Yes she was pampered and both the boys know it. But for Pete's sake when you are born under four pounds almost three months early and your mother nearly died having NEED to be babied!

Sixteen years later and I am still doing it. (my bad)

So here we are a quarter of a century later. We've had good times we've had great times and we've had some not so great times.

What's important to me is we all seem to love each other. I almost killed myself for two years working ungodly hours and weeks on end. Things have settled down and by  the Grace of God, friends...strangers and family we have made it.

What I realize now is that I have three amazing kids that still aren't embarrassed to be seen or hang out with me. They make me smile and laugh and whether or not it is totally genuine they still seem to think I am a pretty cool mom.

Could I have done a better job? Of course . Am I proud of my kids? You dang straight!

My three Valentines...I love them so much it is a physical ache. There is nothing I wouldn't do (or often times have) done for them.

My kids love me and I am a fifty one year old bag of bones. What greater joy could a "Momma" have? (Except to wake up weighing ten pounds more.)

We'll give my husband a shout out for sperm donation and always being a hard worker! That's totally MY fault. I met him and he made the mistake of falling in love with a bizarre crazy control freak who shoved him down the path of life.

We're a crazy bunch here...but sometimes crazy is what can get you through. Dwell too much on the negative and it can be your demise. Realize you are only human and make sure you do your best every day  you wake up.

Learn to love and learn to earn to be loved!

I can't imagine not having my three kids. I can't imagine not having the trials and even the tribulations of raising them.

I'll have the fanciest "Rascal" in the nursing home when all my kids are millionaires. They don't need to buy me a horn for it...I'll be running my trap (horn) for as long as I can. They'll just need to buy their Dad earplugs so he doesn't have to listen to me anymore.

Happy Valentine's Day...Hug someone, tell someone you love them and always love your fellow man...No matter what their story is no matter what their  gender or preference is. No matter what their political or religious views are. No matter if they are rich or destitute. We all need love and love is the key!

"Love is all you need."


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

You Can't Fix Stupid

 You know... the saying IS true "You can't fix stupid."

 Today was just one of those days when it became apparent to me over and over again.
Kind of like the cake in the photo "UnderNEAT"
 It makes you wonder how people pay bills and get anywhere on time much less show up in the right place or know where they are even going.
 Then you have the ones that seem to wear their hearts on their sleeve (or poster) but unfortunately  are obviously wearing a wife beater and in fact HAVE no sleeve...just paper, a marker and no dictionary.
 Then you just have plain stupid folks. (above photo)
Then most have complete idiots who not only show their stupidity but incompetence as a parent AND their street name. Maybe the idiot who didn't know how to spell informed picketed her house with a sign that read "Tereble Muther."

I went to a funeral today. It was in a neighboring town but the burial was here in Newnan so I rode in the funeral procession back to the graveside service. They are close friends of mine and I would have done so anyway but was appalled at  the lack of respect people show funeral processions these days. What the heck? I live in the south, the home of I thought.

People would zoom along in the left lane beside us and spotting the police escort ahead blocking the next intersection would just as rudely scream over into the right lane putting themselves into the procession as well. At some points people on the other side of the divided highway had come to a complete stop...which is protocol (at least in the south I grew up in.) I even witnessed one man who had pulled over and gotten out of his vehicle and was  holding his  arm out to try to stop people from passing (God bless his soul.)

I know people are in a hurry, I am most all of the time. But when I see a hearse I have the common sense to realize SOMEONE has run out of time. This is IT for them. They will never drive again. They will never hug a family member again. They will never see another holiday, birthday or anniversary. They will never attend another party or function. They will never hold a loved one in their arms and their loved ones will never hold them again.

If you can't take five minutes out of your day to show respect for someone who has lost a a heck of a lot more than mere minutes in a need to check yourself.

I guess it's just a sore point with me because I am a southern girl, born and bred.

What is this world coming to when peeps in the south don't even remember how to treat a funeral procession?

It's all about respect. It's all about doing unto others as you would have them to do unto you. It's all about having good manners. It's all about common sense.

It's the south for Pete's sake. We already have that bad rap about the whole slavery gig...can we not remember our manners when a person dies? Can you not realize that one day YOUR loved one will die?

 Wouldn't it be awesome for them to be shown one last act of respect and recognition not only from family and friends,  but fellow southerners , visitors and any human being that may be lucky enough to see that someone is dearly loved by  the number of cars full of people that have taken time out of their own hurried life to take a moment to slowly drive to a plot of dirt...and be lucky enough to be able to drive away again?

Once again this is just my opinion, but then again it is just MY blog. Being stupid is easy...I've never been one to take the easy way out.

Til next  time...COTTON

Monday, February 6, 2012

Life...It's Full of Twists and Turns

I've known the young man in this picture for over fifteen years. When I first met him he was a line cook at the Western Sizzler where I used to work. He moved up the ranks and ended up being a manager.  I don't think I've ever seen him mad and he is hands down one of the nicest guys I have ever met.

We met again when I started with Mama Lucia's. He was a chef and manager for them and it was a pleasure to work with him again. He got a great opportunity to move up again. First by meeting the love of his life who was working at our restaurant part time and eventually marrying her. He left us for a great position in sales and actually sells product to our restaurant.

He got married just over a year ago and they had their reception in our restaurant. The wedding was pushed up because his father had been diagnosed with cancer and only given a short time to live. The wedding and reception could not have been more perfect if they had taken two years to plan the affair, but with less than ten days of preparation had an absolutely beautiful wedding and his father got to stand beside him as he married his bride. The doctors had given his father only a matter of weeks to live.

They just celebrated their first wedding anniversary and the next  day his father lost his battle.

At least his father got to see him marry and stand proudly next to his son on that wonderful occasion. He was able to live twelve more months, attend his son's birthday party (the photo above) spend the holidays with family and friends albeit battling a crippling illness but at least drinking in the love and support of many and always putting on a brave and courageous front.

My friend lost his mother at an early age just as I had and now has lost his father as he approaches mid life much like I did with my own father. The difference being God took my Diddy quickly. He suffered but nowhere near to the extent my friend's father did.

I think of the past two years and think how awful they were. Then I look at my friend and think how truly lucky I have been. My mother went in the matter of a few seconds, my Diddy in the matter of a few days.

So  what my husband lost his job? So what I lost mine? I found a new job and eventually my husband did too. We had help from every direction possible, especially above and have turned the proverbial corner.

My friend watched his father battle and finally succumb to a devastating illness. I witnessed his father getting weaker but never losing faith or spirit. He was surrounded by family and surrounded by love.
Therein lies the blessing.

When you think life has twisted horribly the wrong way and you  think it can't get need to look around. It can and it does.

I am a lucky, lucky woman. I lost both my parents but God took them quickly. I lost my job but God gave me a better one. I can't imagine watching my parents suffer...they suffered enough raising me.

I sent my friend a message tonight including this wonderful picture of him and his Dad at his birthday party with the following message:

"Pat, words seldom help and tend to escape us at times like these. I am so sorry for your loss but know your Dad is whole again and totally at peace. I absolutely love this picture. It may bring a tear to your eye now but what a great memory to have and keep. I too have lost both my parents but try to think of it this ever horrible it feels to have lost them both, what a tragedy it would be to have never had them at all. Thinking of you, Brandie and your entire family. We love you..."
It puts everything into perspective for me and makes me feel ridiculous for fretting over petty  things like job loss and temporary poverty.
I hate  my friend and his family had to endure suffering  their loved one's suffering. It must be brutal...I can only imagine. When it does happen you have to,  in some small unspoken way... be grateful they have passed on to eternal peace and just reward.
Life is full of twists and turns. Sometimes it is great and sometimes it is not so great. That's why it's called "Life."
Life: "The physical, mental, and spiritual experiences that  constitute existence."
Roll with the punches, keep on keeping on and go until you can't. Give it your all and at the end you will reap your just reward.
Once again counting blessings and realizing how much worse I could have it. Prayers and love going out to my dear friend and his family. There but by  the Grace of God, goes any one of us.
Til next time...COTTON

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I'm Wore Slap Out...

I felt like these shoes by the time I clocked out at work tonight. I went in at 4:30 and in less than ten minutes had four tables going and another one going down. On top of that I had a party of eleven coming in at  the same time as a party of eight. At least the parties were all set up and not due for a hour.

I got my butt handed to me for five hours straight. Hot flashes were the least of my worries... not stroking out was way up there on the list. Sometimes it all goes smooth and sometimes it doesn't. Every server was running around like chickens with their head cut off.

I had a couple of bobbles and a plate of food that got sent back. I kept my head down low and kept on truckin'. By 9:00 my heart rate had returned to normal and so had my limp that makes me look like Festus from Gun Smoke. It ain't easy being a server for thirty three years and not expect the toll to be pretty grim on your feet. At least I have good shoes. My sister gave me a pair of Dansko's a couple of years ago and they have been my feet's saving grace. I carry heavy plates and trays of drinks fifty hours a week. I carry them all on my left arm and serve them with my right. It's kinda thrown my body thinks I weigh 140lbs on my left side and 99 on the right. I am fifty one, have been doing this non stop since college while all through the years working with people that are the age I was when I STARTED waiting tables.

I chose this profession so I really can't bitch (well I can but I shouldn't.)  What grates my nerves is younger servers saying "When I get a REAL job..."

Let's see, I am almost fifty two. While being a server I have bought a house, sold it, bought another and have less than four years til it is paid off. I have raised three kids ... granted they haven't been spoiled rotten by some people's standards.  By millions and millions of less fortunate people's standards they are living the high life. They have a house with heat air conditioning running water,  a bed to sleep in and a cell phone to text on while watching cable TV in their bedroom.

Yep! I'd say their Momma has a real job.

 A fake job usually doesn't tend to help provide for all of that. My husband has always had a "Real" job and I hear him gripe about his a heck of a lot more than I have about my "Fake" job.

We hit a bump on BOTH of our jobs a while back but kept on keeping on with prayers and pushing from many.

I just don't want to sit or work in an office or at a desk. Number one I am WAY too loud. Number two you have to wait for pay day to get money...boy would MY already flimsy bank account be screwed!

Yes it is starting to wear on my body. It is a tremendous amount of physical work (if you do your part) and often stressful. But Heck...I'm gonna get old no matter what I do, why not enjoy it?

I know my limits and have recently pushed myself a bit past them but realizing I still have two teens at home that need a Momma have cut back to six days a week and suddenly feel so much better I am beginning to wonder if maybe I really DO have a "Fake" job?

Things settled down at work after all the bombs went off and all the smoke cleared. I got one last table...


A friend of mines brother who was a bartender with his lady (who was a server) and their adorable 14 week old baby.  Got to chat with them since the mine field had cleared and I think they enjoyed having a late night in tow. The baby was a little doll with her natural Mohawk and dimples on her elbows. I vividly remember that age with my own children. I would creep into their nursery late at night after getting home from  work to simply watch them was mesmerizing,  beautiful and a  totally peaceful feeling to watch  something Tim and I had created out of the heat of passion that now I passionately loved more than anything in the world. I told this young couple to enjoy every moment, every turn of the head and smile on the face. You blink and twenty years go by in a flash.

They left and I went to clear their table. They had inadvertently taken the wrong charge receipt (the one with a tip written on it.)

Our bartender used to be the woman's room mate and sent her a text. She called back and had me add a $20 tip.

It's all about friendship. It's all about connections. It's all about Karma.

By the time I got off even the closing servers had left. I was limping and beat but I made enough money to pay all my currently due bills and then some.

I don't watch my kids sleep anymore...I wait up for them to come home. When I hear the front door open it's almost as gratifying as it was to watch them sleep.

So I don't have what most people consider a "Real" job. I don't live what most people consider a "Real" life!

I came across a quote in a book I was reading last night that describes me, my life and my way of parenting perfectly.

"What I had was luck, friends and tenacity born of desperation."

stumble, regroup and try again. You do what you have to for your kids and do an awful lot of praying.

 Call me a server...that's better than being called "Unemployed."

I live a crazy doubt. But I live a full life and have given all my kids a pretty good life as well. We have family fights and disagreements, we have had good times and bad...but we have always had each  other!

Getting up again tomorrow and doing it again...COTTON