Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Picture Says It All

I had such big plans for today. I was excited to have a day off. I was going to meet one of my eighth teachers at the restaurant where I work for lunch. She was meeting a friend there and I kinda invited myself. I woke up early, really early and decided to move to the couch to watch some CNN. I woke up around 12:45 and thought I was smart to send my former "Teach" a message last night telling her I may not make it  because I had so much to do.

Seems what I really had to do was to step back from the world and take a day for myself. I was supposed to go pay Verizon, make a bank deposit, cut grass and clean house. Lucky for me none of those things require clocking in so I simply clocked out...of the world.

Massey left to go somewhere with a friend, Zach was asleep and Tim wasn't home from work yet. The pups seemed excited when I mentioned doing nothing so I decided to make THEM happy too.

I slept on and off for over twelve hours and it felt lovely. I got hungry around three and heated up some soup and made grilled cheese sandwiches. I made an extra one for the pups to split and they were delighted. Standing up for ten minutes in the kitchen had exhausted me so I returned to the couch and resumed my position. I started to feel guilty around four but then the local early news came on and I need to stay informed...what if there was an uprising like in the book I had been laying around reading  between news casts?

I crawled out of my cocoon comforter around six to discover Massey was taking a nap. Great! I hurried back to the sofa and opened a pack of peanut butter and cheese crackers. I threw both pups a cracker and made them promise not to tell that I had been horizontal all day..."It worked!"

I made myself get up around six thirty and Massey and I headed to Kroger . We bought fixings for Quesadillas and a flat of water bottles. We came home and I fixed her a Quesadilla and went out back to read. I played around on FB for a while and cleaned the kitchen (it was supposed to be Massey's job but since she didn't snitch on me for sleeping all day I did it.)

I read for three hours out back with the pups and made Zach two Quesadillas when he came home from work. Cleaned the kitchen again and headed back to the deck on the back porch to read more of my book.

It was one of  the greatest days I  ever had.

I work another double shift tomorrow and now I am beyond ready!

 I think that I can do it all and often times do. Sometimes I need to step away and decompress. I felt worthless sleeping my day away but felt like a new person when I got up from my twelve hour nap.

Tomorrow I will start fresh. Tomorrow I will pay the bills, tomorrow I will make a bank deposit. I am off on Thursday and will cut the grass then.

A (much younger) friend of mine at work commented last week that she couldn't believe  I have never had a manicure or pedicure. She mentioned it like three times...am I missing something I need to know about?

It's true, I haven't. All I need is a pair of clippers and a cuticle trimmer...corn pads and a nail file, fast dry nail polish and I'm good to go!

I'd rather have a day flat on my back than a day in a nail salon. I am old school.."They grow, you clip 'em and you paint 'em."

I guess I AM getting old...but at least I am GETTING old!


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Absolutely Amazing Day!

Was scheduled to work a double shift today. I gave up my lunch shift because my former college room mate's son was graduating in a neighboring county about a hour away. This is the first year we haven't received an invitation from any one from ECHS (my kid's school) so I decided to go and surprise my college "Roomie" by  actually showing up at her son's ceremony. We had gotten the invitation a few weeks ago and having already had two graduate know that most invitations simply mean "Put a check in the mail, please."

Number one: No one wants one of MY checks.
Number two: I had the day shift off and Massey has come to love my college roomie via Facebook and wanted to meet her. Massey met her once a number of years back when at the insane age of 47 my dear college roomie got preggers again when her Marine husband was home from deployment. So she has a senior graduating from high school today and a daughter who just graduated from what we in the south call "Kinnygart'n."

The graduation started at ten this morning so I told Massey we needed to leave before 8:30 AM. She woke me up at 7:45 and even brought me a glass of my daily needed Nestle Quik...with the spoon still in it so I can make it nice and frothy before I down it in one long gulp.  I had worked a double shift on Friday and even though the night shift was slow and I got home by 8:30 I started thinking about all the families on our street who had kids graduating and most probably having parties so I wanted the front entrance to the subdivision to look nice. I wasn't due to cut it til June but I had cut it on Thursday but didn't have time to weed eat. Friday night I pulled into the garage after work, changed into my Daisy Dukes and tank top and went up to the front to weed eat  the culverts on either side.  By  the time I got through I was using the headlights of cars whizzing by to finish my work but at least it looked better.

I woke up sore...cutting grass doesn't bother me but my  buddy Mr. Weed Eater wears this Lil ole gal out! I just wanted thirty more minutes flat on my back.

I started thinking about the march into the stadium, the national anthem and even the opening remarks. I told Massey, "Let's leave at  nine." At nine she came in dressed and ready to go. I had made  progress...flipping over to my other side and decided since my roomie's son wasn't a Valedictorian we could probably skip that speech too. Massey was livid!

At nine thirty I dragged out of bed and washed my face, brushed my teeth and we were out the door ten minutes before the graduation started... a hour away. It's a nice drive over to Paulding county from where we live, thanks to a co worker of mine who lives there. We took long winding back roads through the country side and got to the high school around 10:45. The streets were packed with cars but since we were over a hour late,  some people were already giving in to the heat  obviously having grad's last name starting with "A' or "B" and were making their escape from the ninety degree heat.

We slipped my little Beemer into a spot inside the stadium parking lot and only had a four minute walk to the stands. Two stands full of people...how are we supposed to find my roomie now?

We heard them call a name as grads crossed the stage...they were only on the "D" names. My roomie's last name starts with a "K."

I looked at Massey and although I shouldn't have... said "Can your momma  make some sh*t happen or what?" She smiled at me and replied "You're pretty good."

We walked around the back of the stands to where the stage was and waited for my friend's son to be called to receive his diploma. Massey has never met him but  immediately picked him out of the crowd of lined up grads approaching the stage (and she calls ME a creeper!)

As he crossed the stage and his name was called a man in front of us yelled and threw up his hands, all the while snapping pictures of Avery King.

Like the creepers we (both) are we followed him. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked how he knew Avery? He said he was his uncle and after introducing myself he led us back to where my roomie was sitting with her Marine husband.

As we approached her, she stared at me for a good ten seconds...we haven't seen each  other in five years and I have lost over fifteen pounds. I remarked "Did you  cry when they called your boy's name?"

Just like that the friendship was solid again. She said "No, but I'm gonna cry NOW!"

Hugs all around..I saw her dad, "Jimbo" who I haven't seen since 1982, her brother and sister and all their kids. I introduced Massey and Kim (my former roomie) and they hugged as Kim told her friends in the stands "This is my college roomie and her daughter...I'm FB friends with Massey!"

It was a great feeling. And in traditional Cotton fashion I handed Kim twenty five bucks and said to  give it to Avery. No card , no note.."YEP...it's  from a COTTON"
The heat was appalling and after many hugs and kisses my job was done.

Make someone know  they are important to you and  mean something in your life.

We left ...with a good feeling of a job plan well thrown together.  Got back into my Lil Beemer putting the top down and went to visit the pups my friend from work has that I desperately want one of. Played with the pups and sadly headed back home without one. Don't worry...I'll be back!

Stopped for a burger, went home and resumed the position for thirty minutes. Flat on my back as to not muss my hair. My oldest son had stopped by  for a visit, much to Massey's delight.

After a not too gentle shove out of the nest when we were at our lowest and could barely afford to feed ourselves, he has landed on his feet and seems to be doing really well. He has a new job and is going back to school in January.

I left to go to work and had an awesome shift. I had a party of five that asked for me and tipped me thirty bucks, a table of ten that tipped me thirty more and a couple more tables that put me near to walking out with a "Ben."

In walked Massey with her oldest brother and they sat at one of my tables. Not many people I work with have met TJ but they were all looking at him and wondering why I let my sixteen year old daughter go out with a handsome 26 year old?  They ate dinner and TJ said he was taking Massey to see The Avengers. I wanted to pay for their meal but knew Verizon and the gas tank of my car were looking  to be paid too. TJ paid the bill and I told him NOT to tip me. I gave Massey a ten for her movie ticket and kissed them both goodbye.

I haven't seen TJ in over a month but we keep in touch via FB and texting and phone calls. I went to clear their table.  He had left me a $100.00 tip and a note that read "Happy Mother's Day."

The owner was in his office doing paperwork and I stuck my head in and showed him the charge slip. He asked who left me  that and I said my oldest son did,  but I didn't know if I should enter it into the credit card machine. His reply was "Hell yeah, I wish one of my kids would start paying ME back."

You know, just when you think you have failed somewhat as a parent...they kick into gear and reaffirm your faith as a good parent.

Last week Zach had a hour long talk with me after he got home from work. Seems he had an Epiphany and told me he was going to start giving us $100.00 a month to help out and that he deeply regretted screwing up not only his own life but inadvertantly ours as well and gave me a hundred dollar bill. It was a good talk. It was one that makes it all worth while, even with the screw ups.

So I had me an AWESOME DAY! I got to see my old college room mate and make her smile...which made me smile too.  I got to meet a pack of the cutest boxer pups I have ever had the pleasure of having my arms chewed up by with their needle sharp teeth and paws and even got to spend some time with my oldest and realize once again..."I didn't do too bad as a momma."

So  what my Mother's Day sucked working ten hours straight...THIS was my Mother's Day and it was freaking fantabulous!

One of my favorite people from the Western Sizzler that fired me... a cook who actually gave me the free dessert for Massey which gave "Them" the go ahead to fire me for theft has recently joined Facebook and  discovered my blog. He has been writing me and saying that he laughs so hard he has a six pack... and has cried as well. This was his last post to me:

"Stomach is getting stronger and stronger.  Think I will start boxing or ultimate fighting .
Don't know what to do about the chin quivering and weeping  (Acting?) No, don't look good enough for that.
I'll just go hug my girls till their small faces turn red from the squeezing. " No daddy is not crying"
I'll chase my wife.
I'll be a little more humble and thankful. I will learn a little more , pay more respect to my own personal truths with my family.
Read some more , and pray even more!"  Dean

This is why I started this blog.

Til next time...COTTON

Friday, May 25, 2012

It's Getting Better All The Time

 Zach has grown up. Sometimes as a parent you just have to wait. The wait was well worth it.

My oldest is out flapping his own wings around and keeping himself up.  I am pretty proud.
Massey is my last and  makes me realize that I am getting older whether I want to or not.

Tomorrow my youngest turns into a senior. It is a "Senior" moment for me. I have raised three kids with three different results but love them all the same. As I see it as a parent...as long as you love them and show them the way, it's up to them which path to choose.

Some of my kid's have taken detours but have never detoured from my loving them.  They are all healthy and that is number one. They are all smart number two...Combining number one and number two is the best I can hope for and the thing I am banking on for number three.. "SUCCESS!"

So what none of them got cars when they turned sixteen? TJ got a car shortly after he turned sixteen and at least he was working, paying for his own gas.  I never had a car at sixteen nor did my sister. My brother got one because it was  a gift from my grandparents and at least he was responsible enough to take care of it.

Massey is upset because she doesn't have a car. I am upset that we can't buy her one.  On the other hand Zach is just happy to be able to walk out of the house of his own accord.
Massey is still a kid. She is sixteen and working albeit very "Part Time." At least her grades are great and that will be what drives her even further than most in life.

The high school she attends is full of kids who drive brand new cars (what are THESE parents thinking?)

I tell her time and  time again that as grown as she thinks she is...she is still a baby in the grand scheme of life.

Four years ago we were making well over six figures a year with no debt and a few years left to pay off our mortgage.
Now we are battling back from cut off notices and so much to repay to family and friends that it still boggles my mind.

A sixteen year old girl simply can't grasp this. Well she can, but it is embarrassing to her. Been there..done that. High school is brutal, whether you are a wimp as a male or unpopular and looked down on for being one of the females that doesn't "Have it all."  It tends to be tough in their own little "Who's Cool world."

Massey has been fortunate to learn the most important lesson of all at an early age. Life has no guarantee...what you have today can be gone tomorrow and may take years to replace...if you are lucky.
I am just blessed that she has excelled in her studies is healthy and has a roof over her head. All the rest will fall into place and  mean so much more to her for having gone through these past few years. I would love to buy her a car and have full intentions of doing so as soon as we can. I tried to explain it to her the other day when she griping (as most teens do.)
I said to her "How do you think I felt having to start over at  the age of fifty? At least I was given a chance and  think we have come pretty  far. If I have made it this far in  this tired old body just imagine how far you can go ?"

She passed all her finals... Spanish, Algebra III and Chemistry (a feat her momma never could have) and is destined for greatness. She is now a SENIOR and just beginning the REAL path of life.  She is lovely, she is smart and my best friend. She is misguided in what's really important but what 16 year old isn't?  I can tell you one thing...her graduation party next year will be a whopper and if I have anything to say about it there will be a stinking nice (used) car with a huge bow around it parked in the driveway.

I was an idiot in my twenties ...grew up in my thirties and lived large through most of my forties. Life slapped me in the face and I woke up broke by  the  time I turned fifty, not because of anything I or Tim had done but simply because "Life doesn't have a guarantee."

What life DOES have is Karma and  has been my saving grace. Throughout our struggles I have tried to help others while so many helped me. I  learned to be humble and have learned how not to be ashamed but simply grateful.

That pretty much sums up my past few years..."Not ashamed but extremely grateful."

Til next time..a tired but triumphant COTTON

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Are We Done Yet?

 I'm not really sure how we got from the picture above to the picture below in what seemed no time at all. My oldest is 26 and out making his mark in the world. My younger son turns twenty in the matter of a few short weeks and is busy trying to get his recent marks in the world erased... and doing a pretty good job. I'd rather him be stupid when he was eighteen than when he is married with a wife and kids. Next in line is my last in line. Around this time next year I'll be throwing my last high school graduation party.

Massey has always been more interested in school than either of my boys. They were both just glad to graduate. Massey has savored every minute and each moment.

She (as well as I) enjoyed several seasons  with the Guard, learned some tough lessons about commitment and camaraderie and both made some life long friends. I still miss it.

This past year has been all about her grades (of her own choosing) and for the first time I had a kid in the National Honor Society. I think I was the only parent that cried at the induction ceremony but was so proud I could have popped.

She still remained in women's chorus which doesn't take up as much time, still has some Guard friends in it and is a really talented group of young women.

Tonight was the banquet.

 The teacher is young , excited and most probably a pushover but has produced a very talented ensemble and all the girls  love her to death . This is her presenting Massey with an award.
It was by FAR the largest chorus banquet they have had yet and I've been going to them since she was in middle school. Here's the teacher and three of them doing their "Land shark."

A while back Massey mentioned  they should get the restaurant we both work for to cater the end of year banquet. The teacher called my boss and as a favor to me, he gave them a dirt cheap price for some of the best food on the south side of Atlanta. Spaghetti with marinara or meat sauce, rolls with butter pats, fresh salad and home made salad dressing, iced tea and home made cookies and brownies.

I was in the office talking with the owner the other day when he told me Massey had told the teacher that she and I would be glad to pick up and deliver the food to the banquet.


Len said "I gave them a deal on the food but the teacher knew it didn't include delivery."

So I was looking forward to enjoying a nice relaxing evening off and now it seems I am  catering for 160 people....in a dress!

Here's the thing. I love doing catering jobs for the restaurant and we do quite a bit of it and he pays me really well for it...but HE is always there with me. He has done this for almost thirty years and knows the business forwards and backwards. I just listen to him and do what he says. I didn't mind not being paid, I'd do anything to help out with my kids and their functions, but now it seemed "I" was in charge and if something went wrong it would be MY fault. Like the great boss he is he finally said he would load everything up in his catering van and have two cooks deliver it to the venue, then I was on my own. He said he would have a couple of guys come back and pick up all the equipment. This is something he normally charges fifty dollars for but what can I say? They love me!

I was already nervous and got downright terrified as people got there thirty minutes early and just kept coming. There were over 200 people there. Another chorus mom I have known since the early eighties when I was slinging pizza at Johnny's and she was a regular was there to help me. Several of the chorus girls were there early to help and we kicked into action.

We were originally going to let them serve themselves but I got nervous at  the size of the group and would be mortified if we ran out of food.  We decided to serve them their spaghetti and then let them help themselves to salad, rolls and dessert.

The line got backed up once or twice, but being the genius chef he is, my boss sent an abundance of pasta and sauce so we let people come back for seconds. We should have had someone guarding the dessert table...the brownies and cookies were gone first. For Pete's sake...do people not have the common sense to just take one? Then again, it was mostly teens there and I can't much blame them. My boss is an excellent baker as well and makes all my kid's birthday cakes for me.

When the line begin to dwindle I felt a huge sigh of relief...we had plenty of pasta left over, the salad bowl had a bit left in it and we ended up with two rolls left.

One woman who came through the line asked if I was with Mama Lucia's? I said I was and she said "My son had a sports banquet catered and the food was terrible." My heart sank and I wanted to ask her to speak more softly. She said quickly..."No you misunderstood me. This was GREAT, do you happen to have a business card, we would like to have your restaurant cater our next one. The food is amazing and I love the way  you have it all set up."

Dang...maybe I should have more faith in myself as a caterer after all!

Only when I sat down with my own plate to eat did my nerves calm down. The woman was right...it was "Delicious!"

When  the the van came back to pick me up...it was the owner who walked in. I had every thing pretty much ready  to go back to the restaurant and when I walked out with the last couple of bowls following him to the van, he said "Looks like I delivered and picked up anyway."

He's a good man. He's a crazy, CRAZY Italian but I work hard for him and he returns the favor in kind time and time again. He had another catering job  tonight for the new hospital, an important and lucrative one but treated our banquet with  the same professionalism.

I don't want to jinx myself but I think my bad luck has run its course. We still struggle but who doesn't?  I have a leg up. God loves me, my family loves me and I have so many friends that I can't count them all. I have  bosses that recognize and appreciate my hard work.
I have a husband that hasn't killed me in my sleep yet (most probs because he works the night shift) and three kids that can make me mad but more often make me smile. Throw in two dogs who think I am the bomb.com and there you have it...Urban Utopia!

One more year of high school left for Massey and one year left for me to be a high school mom. You know what? I think I'm gonna miss it.

Including a short video of this amazing group of young women. This was a casual concert..no uniforms just a group of young women loving what they do....Making  this momma's heart sing!

Til next  time..."Catering COTTON"

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Typical Day (For Me)

Had to wake up early to take Massey to a funeral for her friend's step dad who died from cancer. I had to stop off  at B&L tire to drop off Johnny's old tire so his new one could be mounted. I dropped it off and got back in the car looking at  the clock and said "It's only 10:35 we have 25 minutes to get to the church." Massey said quietly "It started at 10:30." (I wondered why she kept rushing me)

NO WAY! I read his obit yesterday and could have sworn it said the service started at 11:00. Massey pulled it up on her iPhone and sure 'nough it started five minutes ago. Luckily we were only five minutes away from the church.

It's not the first funeral I've been late to and  probably won't be the last. We screeched into the parking lot of the church to find four cars in the parking lot.  I remarked it was a good thing "WE" came.  We got out and pulled on the front door...locked! I had Massey pull up the obit again and it even gave the address of the church we were standing in front of locked out .

We went back to the house to look at the newspaper I had read the obit in and Massey called the funeral home.  They informed us it was indeed at that church but was being held in  the "Contemporary Chapel" not the sanctuary. I backed out of our driveway and we headed back to the church to discover a road that led behind the church to the "Con-Chap" where fifty cars were parked.
For Pete's sake!  Now we were over thirty minutes late...a new personal record for me.

Massey was gracious about my goof and as we went in the front door we were met by the dude from  the funeral home who said we could slip in quietly . I asked if we would be entering from the back so no one would notice and he said yes. I've been late to funerals before and pulled open a door and had 200 mourners staring at me...not the best feeling in the world.

He was right and we quietly slipped into the back row to hear the minister giving the closing prayer. I told Massey her friend would never know about our goof but would be happy she had come to support her. Massey was the first person the girl hugged on the way out. I hated we were THAT late but at least we made it in time for this young girl to know  Massey made an effort to be there.

We left and went back by  to see if Johnny's back leg was ready. Not yet, so we bought a bucket of KFC and went home for lunch.  Being the old woman I am I took a hour nap since I couldn't cut grass. We went back and picked up Johnny's hind leg around 2:45.

Here's the thing...like an idiot I ordered a new tire yesterday but didn't even think  I needed to take the old one off and drop it by the tire store so they would have the rim to mount the new one on. I spent ten minutes in  the garage this morning (in my nice dress) trying to get the old tire off before we left for the funeral.  One of Zach's buddies recently fixed his hunk of junk car at my house and either hid or took every screwdriver and pair of pliers in my garage. Let me show you what I finally pried the washer off the axle with:

Does this give you  any indication of "How I roll?' I can remember one time when I couldn't get the cotter pin through the front axle , broke it and used floral wire to twist tie the front tire on. It only worked for 30 minutes but I got the front yard cut before the front tire fell off.

I came home with Johnny's new back leg and got Zach to lift his ole carcass up while I slipped on his new "Cinderella slipper." It fit perfectly!  Here was the next  problem:

I have learned to hate these washers. I spent forty five minutes trying to get  this washer back on. Broke two blood vessels with the needle nose pliers I borrowed from Mr. Slow Lee next door, hit my thumb about five times with the hammer I was using to try and knock this "BEE-OTCH" back into place and finally had to quit forty five minutes before I had to clock in at work. My hands looked like I had just replaced an engine, twice. I asked Mr. Slow Lee if he had some GO JO for me to wash my hands with to which he replied "Huh?"  Massey explained it was hand cleaner and he said "Just use gasoline." The thing is I HAD no gasoline. He had left me a two gallon can when they left on their eighteen day cruise but I used that up the first time I cut his yard (and mine) while he was away. After he went in his house and shut the door I sneaked into his garage and found a can of gasoline and poured myself a handful.

No time for shower but I got one yesterday.   I went into work smelling like gasoline with melted funeral makeup touched up and some extra deodorant .  Thank goodness it was slow and I was back home in my garage by 10 PM sitting on the floor in my work skirt with a flashlight and hammer, bound and determined to get  that stinking washer back on. (I was out of floral wire and bread twist ties)

I sat for a hour on the floor banging away at my thumbs more than the washer. I came inside and called my sister to ask if her husband was still up? He came to the phone sounding sleepy and told me to put each side of the needle nose pliers into the hole on either side of the clamp and spread it open while I pushed it into place.  Armed with a Natty Light I went back into the garage. No go!  I thought I was strong but just couldn't make it happen. Instead I put the pliers (which weren't "needle" enough) through the clamp while closed and opened them stretching the clamp open until it was wide open enough to bang onto the axle, then closed the washer shut using the pliers.

"Got'er Done!"

I was exhausted, my back was killing me and felt like it was going out again from sitting on the concrete floor for two hours but at least I had Johnny's hind leg back on.

Now all I have to do is wake up in five hours and vacuum the house before I go to work at 10:30 because Massey is babysitting a seven month old while her mom works the lunch shift with me. I don't usually worry about my floors, they are over five feet below my face but this little girl is crawling and I can't leave without at least getting her "crawling space" semi clean.

Coming home and cranking ole Johnny Boy up!

Why does every  thing have to be so difficult? Of course if it wasn't...I'd know it wasn't MY life. I kinda like my crazy difficult fly by  the seat of my pants throwing it together at  the last minute life...it describes me perfectly.

Til next time...COTTON

Friday, May 18, 2012

Make A Wish ??

Got home from work just a few minutes ago and let the dogs out back. I was standing on the deck talking with my sister on my cell phone when I saw a shooting star streak across  the sky. I told her to hang on a minute while I made a wish. I shut my eyes and thought quickly what I should wish for?

I simply didn't have a wish come to mind... I have had so many blessings it felt selfish to ask for more. I won't say I haven't had some struggles but  have lived to tell the story and that in itself is a wish come true!

I don't wanna brag (or jinx myself)  but we haven't had a "Services are being cut off" tag hung on our front door knob in over three months!

 I finally learned how to NOT bounce a check..."Don't write one." In my defense I did bounce a few but it was when the only other choice was to be without water or electricity.

I  certainly didn't do it alone. I had an army at my back from the time Tim lost his job and the army grew when I was fired from the "Western Sizzler."

I have learned a lot.

I have learned that customers are wasteful in a restaurant and learned that if I boxed up left over food from really clean looking customers and took it home for Tim to take to work, he was grateful to have it and I was more grateful he didn't know where it came from. I am even MORE grateful he doesn't read my blog.

I have learned to shop at thrift stores and consignment shops. I have learned that I really did raise pretty good kids that have never once complained when I brought home sacks of clothes from Good Will but seemed okay if not almost happy about it.

I have learned  that teen age boys are stupid and make stupid mistakes.  I have also learned that it doesn't make you love them any less but even more.

I have learned that I can take whatever life throws at me. This was the most important lesson I think I learned. The saying is true..."What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

I could lift an overturned eighteen wheeler full of elephants if I had to, and I am only mildly exaggerating.

It may sound crazy but one of the things that has gotten me through is sitting at my computer putting it all out HERE. The good, the bad AND the ugly.

 Writing is my release. Writing is my passion and when other people read my blog and it touches THEM, it is exhilarating to me. I often check the stats and this is where they stand tonight.

I have written 979 blog posts. I have had 36,064 views on my blog. I have 45 people that are signed up as followers of my blog and include readers from the following places:

United States, Russia, United Kingdom, Turkey, Canada, Poland, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, India, Denmark, Philippines and Australia.

So obviously people all over the world know I am crazy but also know that I am resilient and "One Lucky Mother!"

I didn't have one single wish for that shooting star tonight. It's all happened and I am still around to enjoy it.

I have learned many lessons. I have learned what it is to be grateful and what it means to be humbled. I have learned that "Paying it forward" is probably the greatest concept ever invented and try to live by it on a daily basis.

A shooting star is wonderful to witness and an uncommon sight. Having your life turn around from being totally on welfare  and under not only God's but friends and family's care is one of the most eye opening experiences I  ever had.

Just think how pompous I would be if I had rolled through life with no bumps?

A former co worker of mine who I love dearly  just recently joined  Facebook and found my blog.  He wrote me tonight and said he had only read two months back but had a six pack from laughing and crying.

You need to be honest about your life and I try to. You  can pretend or lie about it...but who's THAT gonna help?

The shooting star was pretty awesome tonight, but so is my life!

Til next  time ...COTTON

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Now THIS is Mother's Day...fo shizzle

This picture has nothing to do with this blog...I just like it!

I worked every shift at work except one lunch from Saturday night until this morning. I did okay until the "Mother of a Day" hit. I came home totally wiped out and never recovered.

I struggled yesterday doing another double shift but the free bottle of wine the owner gave me for doing some computer work for them made it all better. (til I woke up this morning)

I took Massey to school and swore I would not go back home and crawl back into bed. When you only have one day off you have six days of things to be done in one. I'm glad Massey was the only one that heard me utter the swear.

I went back home and thought..."I'll just lay down long enough to see what the weather will be like on  TV." I woke up to hearing Whoopi talking on The View.  If I rolled over in bed it could count as doing something...so I did.

I rolled my ninety nine pounds out of bed after one and ate a salad. Johnny Dear crapped out on me anyway with his sissy little front tire all crying "Ooh I'm flat, it hurts...don't make me."

I drove to the book store and thanks to the membership my brother gave me for Christmas picked up a copy of The Hunger Games for 40% off. I came home and read for twenty minutes in the back yard before having to go back and pick Massey up from school. I got to page 15 and realized something. I have been living The Hunger Games for almost three years.

I was lucky. I had so much support and help it was embarrassing at  times but always tremendously appreciated.

Fast forward two years. I'm two years older and feel ten years more tired but am still kicking and making strides. I have an army at my back and  God shining His spotlight down on me.

I still can't afford to buy my kid's a car or name brand clothes but they have what they need. I have slowed to nine shifts a week and it has made a world of difference in my mental and physical state.

I went to Massey's last chorus concert tonight. The theme was "All you need is love."

Her high school has a pretty awesome Chorus program.  The girl singing the solo in  this video was more awesome. Massey's BFF from next door went with me to  the concert and I asked her who this tiny young woman with the tremendous voice was? She said she was actually the homecoming queen. I asked Alyssa if she was as nice as she was cute and talented? Much to my relief Alyssa said she was indeed a very nice person. That meant a lot to me.

It reminded me of my sister. (without the singing talent) My sister won homecoming queen in 1971. She was beautiful (still is) and popular like I always wanted to be but never was. The thing is...every one loved my sister and my sister loved everyone. She was and still is an amazing person.

High school is sometimes different...especially today. I was thrilled to learn that this little girl with the huge lungs is a wonderful person. It renewed my faith in the spoiled youth of today.

I still have til five PM on Friday to clock back in. I still have half a day to myself. I still have the rest of my life in front of me and just glad to be around to still be here to gripe about it!

Til Next time..COTTON

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Kicking The Hornet's Nest

I know all too well about "Kicking the hornet's nest."  A few years back I was trying to cut back the Pampas grass that was over taking my front yard by the front door. I was hacking away with the hedge clippers when I hit a hornet's nest.  By the time I realized what had happened they were all over me. They were stuck in my hair stinging me like crazy and swarming all around my face and even in my eyes. I threw down the clippers and after trying to run from them found out they can fly a LOT faster than I can run. I ran in the front door of the house and flew (pun intended) up the stairs to my shower on the third floor of the house. I bet I washed thirty of them out of my hair and the pain was almost unbearable. They sting repeatedly unlike bees that sting once and die from their mistake.

I have never been allergic to stings but this attack put me to bed with a high fever and even gave me a serious case of the runs. I had to call out at work which I hadn't done since my father died.

 The next week I asked the manager where I worked (who did pressure washing, chimney cleaning and other odd jobs on the side) to come over and get rid of the Pampas grass for us. He came over with a five gallon can of gasoline and dumped the entire can over the bush. (I didn't say he was smart)

Zach was probably about 8 or 9 at the time and completely into fires. He was my little pyromaniac. His eyes lit up when he saw how much gas my manager used to douse the grass. As my manager lit a piece of paper to throw on the bush I grabbed Zach and pulled him back about ten feet as the Napalm bomb went off. It literally shook the ground and scared the poop out of me. The flames were over twenty feet high and my manager grinned and said "That ought just about do it."

After running for the garden hose and soaking the remains before my entire house caught on fire, I realized he was in fact right. We all stood looking at nothing but a black hole in my front yard but at  least the nest was gone, along with my manager's eyebrows.

I hadn't thought about the "Hornet's Nest" again until I started reading the third book in the "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" series. It's titled "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest."

I work for some pretty crazy folks. Don't get me wrong, I love them to death but they can flare up those temper's with little or no notice given the right ignition at the wrong time. Once their temper is flared you have to simply step back ten feet as I did with Zach  all those years ago and wait for the fire to burn out.

When the owner says something to his wife to tick her off I immediately say "Quit kicking the hornet's nest!"  When the son gets his Dad all fired up for no reason I repeat  the order. It's become a running joke with us all at work.

Yesterday I worked yet another double and was still trying to recover from the "Mother of a Day" I had on Sunday. I was working with another server and we had a big party together at lunch.  My crazy boss wasn't cooking but our even crazier Latino cook was. He is one of the best cooks we have but can also be the biggest pain in the butt  you could ever imagine.

Here's the thing you need to know about every cook in every restaurant. They are ALWAYS right and servers are always stupid.  Even when the cooks are wrong they are right. When the server is right and the cooks are wrong...it is still the server's fault.  That is just the way it is in the restaurant world!

My co worker simply asked a question of our Latino buddy. Granted he was busy, but instead of being nice about it he flew into an immediate tirade. I looked at my co worker and simply said "PLEASE don't kick the PiƱata!"

Another cook  working on  the line who speaks about ten words a month (even though he is American) and seldom cracks a smile actually almost laughed.  I gave myself ten points for THAT score!

I am tired. I am tired of being tired but at least I can still laugh at work and make others laugh too.  It's crazy working in the restaurant world...guess that's why I landed here!

I have ONE more double shift tomorrow and then have Thursday all to myself and my boyfriend, Johnny Dear.

It's been a hard climb back but when you make the climb and can see the corner up ahead it makes it all worth while.

My restaurant is family to me...and I am the crazy relative they all want to deny being related to but love even if they won't admit it. One of the cooks was giving me grief the other night and I shot back "If I'm the worst one ya'll have working here, I'd say you're doing okay."

I have to get up tomorrow and take Massey to school then go in for two shows...one at 10:30 and another at 5:30.

All bills are ALMOST current and I even have a little slush fund of sixty bucks sitting in my bank account.

Took Zach to see his probation officer this morning and sat in the parking lot to wait on him. I told my boss when I got to work "If those people are the ones they let out I'd hate to see  the ones they left inside." At least Zach has made it to this point  and I am pretty confident that he will succeed from this point forward.

The last week was the hardest. I was working so much and having to leave hours before my shift to pick him up. One of the cooks at work (who I call Patrick)

offered to take Zach back to the Po key for me since he was closing the store too. I offered gas money and he refused but I forced some on him. He is politically as far to the right as I am to the left, which I suppose means we meet in the middle. He's a cook too which means he is always right..."Touche!"

His generosity and rides meant  that I got to sleep two hours earlier each night. He made my life MUCH easier and gave me two extra hours of looking at the back of my eye lids each morning. I've thought about what I can do to repay him. I gave him gas money but that seems lame. He likes Tatts so maybe I will offer to pay for part of a  a Glenn Beck tattoo on his butt.  In my opinion, that's where Glenn should be displayed.

Totally kidding...to each his own. That's what makes America great.  Every person has a voice and a vote. If you choose not to vote your voice will not be heard.

Tim just informed me walking out the door to work that he ate my last frozen pizza.

Talking about kicking a Hornet's Nest!!  He better be glad I bought a new jar of crunchy Peanut Butter last night.

Waking up tomorrow (today) and doing it all again.

Stay tuned, I also owe my brother in law "Goober Pyle" and will pay him back tomorrow night with a blog.

 "JUDY JUDY JUDY!"  ( Goober's inpersonation of Cary Grant on the Andy Griffith Show)

Til next  time...COTTON

Monday, May 14, 2012

That Was One "Mother" of a Day!

Here is a picture of our "86" board at work yesterday.  "86" means you are out of something in restaurant lingo. It was so busy that as the day dragged on it was easier to remember the items we had than to remember all the items that had been "86'ed."

We opened at 11 AM. I got there at 10:15 and by 10:45 we were seating guests. I waited on tables non stop from 10:45 until after closing at 8:30 PM. It was insanity in the truest form of the word. People getting upset because they had to wait for a table. People wondering why their food took so long? People leaving a fifty year old mother working her  thirty third Mother's Day in a row a ten percent tip. Holidays are always considered "Amateurs Day" in the restaurant world. They are filled with people that dread having to go out yet  are forced to. They hate having to spend the money and hate more having to tip as well.  As a general rule I always make 20% at my current restaurant. The food is out of this world, they make every thing from scratch.  They even make the stocks they cook with, use only fresh herbs and each dish is individually prepared in it's own saute pan.

I was prepared for it. I have been a server for 33 years and know how holidays can be. Thirty three years ago it was much easier to do. I was young and only working to have money to be able to go out and party with my friends. Now I am almost fifty two and work six days a week just to keep our heads above water while still working with kid's in their twenties and thirties. They complain about the section of tables they have been assigned, some work harder at avoiding work than it would take to just do the actual work and some just bitch the entire shift....it's exhausting to an ole woman like me.

I hung in there and was actually impressed that I walked with fifteen percent of my sales. I sold nearly $1400.00 and walked with $220.00. Had it been a normal night I would have easily made $280.00.  "Happy Mother's Day to Me!"

One tab was $192.00. They left me a twenty. Another was $92.00 and they left me a ten. One was $111.00 and they left me twelve. For Pete's sake people...get a grip! It's hands down the busiest day of the year. I may be skinny but I have plenty of gray hair and a wedding band on. The massive  wrinkles on my face not only  imply but... SCREAM "I have kids!"

I was just glad it was over. I was just glad to leave. I was just glad I had survived. I came home and sat on my butt reading my book out on the back porch and drinking cheap beer. Now it MEANT something real..."Happy Mother's Day to me!"

Today I had to go right back in and open the restaurant and work YET again another double shift. The owner barked at me that I hadn't written on the specials board  which sits out front of the store to display our current special offerings, enticing customers to come in and check us out.

I gave them my OWN special message on their little specials board! (See above photo)

Of course I didn't put this out front but at least it made the owners chuckle. I work for a married couple.  The owner is one part Italian and one part French. His wife is one part Polish and one part German. We got all of WWII going on in our place and it is evident each and every day!

I worked the lunch shift and got off just in time to pick up Massey five  minutes late from school. Stopped to put gas in Tim's tank of a car and drove her home. Went to the bank and cashed the check they had written me last night because they ran out of cash to pay the servers because every one charged Mother's Day. I went  home and picked up Zach and drove him back to work for his 5:00 shift.  I went across the street to get a free Chic Fil A sandwich (Thank you Jess) and scarfed it down at a table in the back of the store before clocking back in.

It was slow and I was grateful  it was. The owners simply like me being there because I know what I am doing. I simply wanted to leave because I am old and tired.

I stuck around...didn't want to but HAD to.

Got another blog in the works about tonight but have to weigh my words carefully...I "AM" working with half of Europe and it could be explosive if not worded  correctly and precisely.

Til next  time...COTTON

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day is Looking Good!

I am a firm believer in not giving in or giving up. Sometimes I falter and just like anyone else sometimes get depressed. If you don't have a depressing day every once in a while how would you know when you are having an awesome day?

Today was an awesome day. I went in to do a catering for the restaurant at ten this morning. I was back home well before noon. Got a few  things done around the house and took a nice hour nap. Zach was originally supposed to get out Monday morning we thought but the Major talked to Tim and said he might be released Saturday morning.

That kind of put a small kink in my otherwise perfect day. Zach had gotten paid on Tuesday and after I picked him up and took him to the bank I returned him to the "Po key." When he got out of the car he took enough money to pay off the remainder of his "Rent" in the big house, asked me to take the rest home and put it in his bedroom.

I stopped by  the store on the way home and bought some groceries. I used some of Zach's money but thought I had til Monday to replace it. Now I owed Zach eighty bucks and made a mental note.

Tim got up to leave for work at midnight and needed gas money so I pulled another twenty out of Zach's cash...telling myself Monday was a ways  off and I would bank on Mother's Day at work. The next  day I was off which means although I get to rest , I don't make any money. Tim left for work again that night and needed money for gas. I guess by  now you know what I did.

I did a catering job  this morning but don't get paid til the restaurant gets paid. My gas light came on as I pulled into the catering job...thank goodness I had been smart enough to bring a bit more of Zach's money with me!

I had also used another twenty  to pay Verizon some money so they would quit texting me. I had most of the payment but that extra twenty got me current. I reminded myself once again that I had Friday night, Saturday night and Mother's Day to make all the money back plus some. (I can rationalize like no body's bidness when I gotta)

Today when I picked Zach up for work he said "The Major filled out all my paper work today. All I have to do is sign it in the morning and it's a done deal...I'm out."

As I smiled at him, patted his knee and rubbed his little shaved bald prison head I was thinking on the inside "Holy Crap" I gotta have his money back by tomorrow morning! Like the positive thinker I am I just thought "Okay...if I bust my butt at work I can make at least $150.00 tonight and I'll throw Tim under the bus and say he needed gas money and I'll replace it with Saturday night's tips.

We got to work early so Zach could eat something other than the cheese sandwich he had been served for lunch and I got all my dinner napkins folded. I was talking with some of the other servers about Massey having trouble in Algebra III and remarked I had tried to contact one of my former co workers from the Western Sizzler where I used to work. This particular girl is one of the few I miss. Her mom died when she was around the same age I was when I lost my own mother. Unlike me...she is smart as a whip and was voted "Most Likely To Succeed" her senior year at ECHS where Massey now attends. She put herself through Georgia Tech working as a waitress and I developed a close bond with her. She is a beautiful person with the prettiest eyes I have ever seen and the sweetest face I have ever wanted to hold between my hands.  She has cute almond shaped eyes that almost look Asian and as I have followed her tremendous success at Georgia Tech I felt like a proud Mama. Actually she often called me "Mama" and I took it as a huge compliment. After graduating she got a job with Tech, completed her Masters and has traveled all over the world with her job.

I tried to call her yesterday learning via FB she had moved back to Newnan for a while (another blog altogether) to ask her if she could help Massey out with her Algebra. I never got a call back and wondered if she was once again out of the country.

It took forever for me to get my first table at work tonight and I was getting worried about replacing the money I had "Borrowed" from Zach. I knew when he got released he had to go straight to his probation officer and wanted to give his entire paycheck to start paying off his fine.

I  finally got my first table and walked up to greet it. Who was sitting  there but my buddy "Pater" with her cute Asian looking eyes and her sweet daddy sitting with her. I thought she had gotten my message about Massey but learned she had changed her cell number. I believe God sent her to me. I got her new cell number and she said to have Massey text her anytime...take a photo of the problem or they could skype and she would help Massey any way she could.

Once again...Am I a lucky woman or what?

It was so slow at work tonight and I was getting nervous.  I know Zach owes me more than I could possibly ever owe him but he has been working 12 hour shifts to pay off his fine and I never once mentioned I had been pinching from his paycheck.

Pater reads my blog so she and her dad got a free dessert and since it was slow I got to sit and chat with them.

I got a couple more tables but had time to hug her neck before she left. I seriously love this girl as if she was one of my own.  I know she lost her mother at an early age...but let me guarantee you that her momma is in Heaven bursting the seams of her angelic robe with pride over the accomplishments this young woman has made.

I went to clear off their table. The whole while still fretting over it not being busy  when I NEEDED it to be. That's the way when you are a server. It's a crap shoot. You either bank big or go home broke.

I picked up the bill. I had to put my glasses on. Through tears I saw a 230% tip.

She had tipped me most of the balance I owed  Zach. I only had a few other tables but it was like they all secretly knew I needed money. It was a slow night but I walked out  of the door climbing the steps in the above photo. There were no hand rails to balance me and I felt dizzy but still climbed.

I felt like a thief entering her huge tip into the credit card machine but knew it would get me to the top of the staircase. Zach would get released in the morning. Almost half of his fine would be paid when I took him the money from his paycheck and he would be closer to being done with this entire mess.

To my dear friend "Pater" I fully intend to pay back the exorbitant tip...keeping only 15%. That's all I wanted but what you left me once again changed my life.

I may sound like a broken record but "Pay it Forward" has gotten me through the past year. The other two years I was too broke to "Pay behind or even on time."

Picking my boy up in the morning and picking myself up again tomorrow afternoon to do it all again.

God is Good. Life is good...True Friends are hard to live without.

I will be having the best Mother's Day I have ever had.

Til next time...COTTON

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thirty Days in The Hole

Roll my tape
Ooh, ooh, ooh
Thirty days...
Anyone doin' that one?
I'm doin' that one
30 days in the hole
30 days in the hole
30 days in the hole
all right all right all right all right, yeah.

Humble Pie sang it but my boy has almost done it. When I picked him up for work today I said "You only have to walk out of that gate two more times."

Yes Zach screwed up...at least he did it when he was eighteen, stupid and single. I have seen him grow up in his thirty days in the hole. He answers the guards with respect..."Yes sir." When they get on to him for having his shirt untucked he replies "I'm sorry sir." When they tell him to have a good day at work he says "Thank you sir."

He is just so glad to see my car sitting outside waiting for him. Every night when I take him back his last words to me are "I love you Mom."

He's a tough nut...we are so much alike that it is scary and often the reason for our arguments. I wish I  was as smart as him and still wonder where he gets it? On top of his thirty days in the hole he has been thrown into a kitchen full of chefs with not only massive experience but degrees in culinary art. Lucky for him the owner loves me...and also loves to point out every stupid thing Zach does.

I'm cleaning his room tomorrow top to bottom...I quit cleaning my kid's room when they hit middle school but want him to know how happy I am to have him back home. I thought a "Welcome Home From Prison " sign across the privacy fence may make the neighbors who already hate us nervous so I chose cleaning his room instead.

I am just glad his time is almost done. I am glad that he was man enough to do it. I am glad that our dysfunctional little family will all be together again. Let em' argue, I don't care...it will be music to my ears.

God took care of him...He always takes care of His own. Another chapter in my odd life is over. What worries me is that I still have a sixteen year old daughter to raise!

What a great Mother's Day present.

Till next time...COTTON

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Jolly Old Saint Christopher, Lean Your Ear This Way...

It's after midnight and I just got home. Went into work at 10:30 this morning and had to pick up Zach on the way. I had a thirty minute break between shifts, Zach worked pretty much straight through.

The Blackberry my brother gave Massey died an unexpected death the other day. Massey has no qualms about calling her uncle when she has any wants or desires. She called and asked if he had another one she could use? When he said he didn't I guess she sighed a little too sadly , and that's all it took.

Today he picked her up after school and took her to Verizon where we were due for an upgrade. After they left Verizon they came into eat dinner at Mama Lucia's.

Massey snapped this picture of Jolly Old Saint Christopher with her brand new iPhone4.

When she told me he had bought her the iPhone all I could think of to say was "Shut the front door!"

My brother takes wonderful care of me and my sister and has helped us out far too many  times to count (although I'm sure he's probs counting fo sho!)  Massey...he spoils like a princess.

He has saved my neck probably almost as many times as he's wanted to wring it but still seems to love me. He also loves to torment me (small price to pay if you ask me) and I absolutely love him to death. I can honestly say I have never met anyone who doesn't like him, except maybe the garbage men who worked in our neighborhood when we were kids or maybe crazy Joe Brown, the custodian at our high school.

Massey said it was an early birthday present. For Pete's sake...her birthday isn't til  the middle of August! She is on cloud nine and most probably already picking out the car she wants him to buy her for an early Christmas present in the middle of August.

I love that he spoils her though. I wish I could. When we hit rock bottom it was tough on her. She goes to a high school where a lot of kids get brand new cars for their sixteenth birthday and wear nothing but American Eagle, Lizard Thicket and Izod. Massey wears hand me downs, thrift shop finds and "Ross Dress For Less."

 The thing that I DO admire about her is that she has never ONCE complained about it and is always THRILLED when friends of mine give her hand me downs.  I have friends that have taken her shopping and friends that simply went out and bought her things of their own accord.

I have said it before and will repeat it again and again..."I am a lucky woman."

Teen status is so over rated. (unless you are a girl and sixteen) I can at least remember THAT much  about being a teen. If I wanted cool looking clothes, my Momma made them on her Singer sewing machine and they looked better than the store bought ones the other girls wore. I guess I need to say this as well..."I was a LUCKY teen too."

Let's give inmate 547 some blog time too...
This is a pizza Zach cooked tonight at work.  Bless his heart he got his butt kicked from the time he went in at 10:30 AM til I picked him up at  11:15 PM. Lunch was off the chain. I consider myself a seasoned veteran but felt like I was in a cartoon much of the lunch shift and at some points could swear I heard that bongo noise Fred Flintstones feet used to make when he was running really fast through the cave passing the same chair and lamp four times in a row.

I came back for my dinner shift and the chaos started again. For some reason everyone wanted  a pizza. The owner,  Len came out to show me a pizza Zach had burned...and he said "I told your boy if he burned something so bad that even I wouldn't eat it he was in serious trouble. He's lucky I'm starving."  Then he took a bite of the most charred pizza pie I have ever seen. He sat the pizza down in his office and when he walked away I took this picture. Jeez...he ate almost half of it!

I left after 9:30 and felt like I was walking on upward facing thorns. I came home and cruised through FB for a while. I headed back to pick up my felon around eleven and when I walked in the front door he was picking up the phone at  the host stand to call me.

Took him back to his current digs and came home for the night.

Tim called the Major in charge at the prison today and found out Zach will get released this Saturday. Glory be to GOD!!

My life ain't pretty sometimes but at least I am willing to admit it. My kids aren't perfect but I love them as if they were.

The thing I like about my blog is that I just put it out here..."The good,  the bad and the ugly."

No one is perfect and to pretend you are,  fools no one but yourself  and in fact makes you look like one.

I deeply and tremendously appreciate all the support I have received and don't think for a minute... or even a second I don't intend to pay it forward for a long long time. The road I have traveled these past couple of years has been tough  but has brought out the best in me. It has brought out the best in my family and it has brought out the best in my friends and even strangers.

I'll say it one more time here and say it every night in my prayers..."I am a lucky woman."

Getting up and doing it again...COTTON

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Life is Crazy...But at Least I'm Living

My life has taken so many twists and turns that even I get confused sometimes. At least I am still breathing and in the grand scheme of things that seems to be the important factor.

I love God, I love my husband and I would die for my kids. I love my family and love how they all love me!

A girl has to have  outlets...especially when you work as much as I do. Johnny Dear is first on my list. I love to cut grass and weed eating is just icing on the cake. To see a nicely trimmed out yard just tickles me pink. I bought Johnny a few years back when my brother in law saw him chained to a fence with a For Sale sign on him.  The old man who owned him let me post date a check (he didn't know who he was dealing with...but the check DID clear.)

I have learned more about lawn mowers than I ever thought  possible. I can change his tires, I can change his oil, I can change his belts and even know how to change his blade. He is old and as rickety as me but he keeps on going so I do too!  I cut my yards, my older neighbor's and the front of the subdivision. Nothing makes me happier than riding ole Johnny...til now.

 I got a "Pay it Forward" from my former neighbors. She is a beauty. I've never had such a nice appliance and every morning when I walk into my kitchen I give her a big hug before opening her huge wide doors and peer into her crisp clean cool cavity.

It may sound stupid...but it isn't. It is realizing that someone gave you something wonderful with no strings attached. Somone knew you were in need and that someone "Paid It Forward."  I love its quiet humming. I love its clean look. I love the fact that I don't have to defrost the top of the inside with a hair dryer anymore or shove the milk to the back so it won't spoil. I love the fact  these people loved me in a way that was so desperately needed.

It all comes back to the "Golden Rule." It all comes back to  the simple fact of Karma...translated in the Western world "Reaping what you sow."
In fact the world is round.  What goes around will eventually come around...sometimes you just have to wait for it to happen.

We have scrambled around  here for over two years just trying to get by...and with the help of many MANY people and friends we have done just that.

Now I am big Balling with a new fridge, my boy comes home on Mother's Day and we'll start over again.

You can't give up and you can't give in. You have to wake up and face the day. You have to do what you have to do and IF you do...it will all be okay.

If YOU don't try...why should anyone else?

Til next time...COTTON

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rounding The Corner

Another day off tomorrow...a girl could get used to this! Actually I have TWO days off this week. My boss told me he wanted me nice and rested for Mother's Day (a brutal day in the restaurant world.)  Business has been good at  work and I am making some headway.  That means I'm not ahead but headed that way.

Worked a killer brunch shift yesterday. Seems it was first communion for  Catholic children and lucky for us they like to get their drink and eat on as soon as it's over. I didn't know what was happening at first. I  saw a tiny eight year old bride in a long white satin gown complete with a veil walk in with her family and twenty others. I thought maybe she had met the man of her dreams at a Toddlers & Tiaras competetion. The Catholic faith is way too complicated for a simpleton like me, guess that's why my parent's raised me as a Protestant.

Came home with a fist full of dollars though and Massey and I went to Wal Mart and got some things for the house we have been needing. Number one a new mail box. Someone hit ours with a bat over a year ago (probably one of my neighbors ;) and the door fell off.  About a month ago I started noticing pine straw in the box along with  the bills. When the pine straw  stack becme bigger than the stack of bills I started pulling it out. I discovered a Robin's egg at  the back of the box. (Click on above photo)

Massey demanded I leave it...so I did. The bird showed HER!! The baby hatched and they now all live happily in the bush in front of her bedroom window and often dive bomb into her window screen scaring the poop out of her.

We bought some ice trays for our new fridge which doesn't have an ice maker. I couldn't care less about an ice maker...the one in my old fridge quit working over a year ago and I simply brought ice home from work with me.  It was nice to introduce Massey  to  the world of 1960 when I was born and no one had an ice maker. We had aluminum ice trays that you had to open with a handle...this was before some doofus ended up being a millionaire by inventing the plastic ones.

I can remember the trays getting worn and when you tried to pull up the frozen handle it would bend and sometimes break off. That's when your mother would yell "We can't have anything nice in this house  with you  around!"

I bought  new flood lights for outside the garage, a new filter for the A/C unit...even splurged on the exspensive anti alergen one with a cool Febreeze scent. Thought I'd just go crazy so I bought some stick on numbers for my new mail box while I was at it.

Came home and Massey put the mail box together while I unloaded the rest of the groceries. As we walked up the driveway to replace the pitiful old mail box a bird sat perched on top of it, resting  after  stuffing another beakful of pinestraw into it. It flew away as we approached and I said "Sorry little fellow but we're taking our box back."

The screws were stripped attaching the old box and finally Massey just tore the box off the post...leaving us with no mounting bracket.

Not to worry, that's why they make Gorilla Glue! Massey commented "Only our family would glue a mailbox to  the post."

Massey ate some frozen Chinese food she zapped in the microwave and I pushed through a load of laundry. Then we settled in to watch "Pay it Forward" together while I folded laundry as she sat with her lap top doing the social networking thing. Ten minutes into the movie the lap top was shut and she was totally getting the movie.

Here's the thing..my favorite movies of the past twenty or so years have been "Crash" "Slum Dog Millioniare" "Sling Blade" and "Pay It Forward." Massey was too young to watch any of these when they came out so we are making up for lost time. I decided "Pay It Forward" was the most important so  that's where we started.

My life over the past couple of years has been nothing,  if not a TOTAL "Pay it forward." The idea and concept of "Pay it forward" is such a no brainer ...  if only people could grasp hold of the concept...it could quite literally and drastically change the world as we know it for the better.  I know it didn't win an Oscar... it should have won a Nobel Peace Prize.

I am off on Tuesday and  debating whether we should watch Slum Dog , Crash or Sling Blade next. I think we'll start with Sling Blade..."UMPH...Ain't got no gas." I quote this movie often (I aim to kill ya) and although I am not a big fan of Billy Bob Thornton (Boy ought not talk like that)... he did an excellent job with the movie and I will always despise Dwight Yokum because he played his part too well.

Zach is getting restless  too and I keep  reminding him he is almost there. Took him back tonight after work and teared up  when I left him. It's not easy seeing your kid walk through a prison gate.

Rounding the corner. Almost there. Day off to relax. Tomorrow I intend to "Pay it Forward" in some way , some how. That's the way life should work and the world would be a better place.

Just a COTTON'S take on it....

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Super" Tired

 I thought tonight was called the "Super Moon" because it is huge and I am "Super Tired." Seems I was wrong about one of those facts.

Got up early this morning to get my "hurr did" which I have had to put off for over two weeks.  Had my handy $9.99 coupon and with a 50% tip still spent under twenty bucks! You  gotta love a low maintenance cut.

Came home to get ready for the big move!! My former neighbors across the street were giving us the refrigerator out of their old house and it was a Cadillac! Tim  hired the firm of "Three Saps and a Hand Truck" also known as my next door neighbor bringing hand trucks , Tim and his (now former) best friend. My kitchen is on the ground floor right off the garage.  I told them I thought it best if they just left the junk in the old fridge and wheeled it out into  the garage, plugged it back in and waited til we had the new one in to transfer the contents. It's only fifteen feet from where the old fridge sat to the garage.

I told Massey as soon as Tim's (former) best friend got there "Let's go the the store for garbage bags, I don't wanna be here for this."

 Maybe I should have stayed.

Seems that while we were gone they discovered our old refrigerator wouldn't fit through the kitchen door out to the garage and by  the time we got back they had dragged the old carcass of a fridge across the kitchen and through my dining room, bumped up the four steps into my living room and now had my front door taken off the hinges trying to get it out the front door...leaving behind a trail of water, dirt and a couple of broken pickle jars.  You have to be specific with men. I should have said "If it won't fit through the kitchen door, unload it." You know what... At least it was getting moved and it isn't like I am OCD about my house. As they started trying to shove it out the front door, Tim looked down and said "Looks like we need to buy some more eggs."

They finally got the old fridge out the door, down the five steps on  the front porch and around the house into the garage and Massey and I plugged it back in.

Bringing the new Cadillac in wasn't much easier except now we knew we had to bring it in the same way  the old one went out. While they were hauling it up the front steps I mopped up the water and dirt on the kitchen floor with Mr. Clean and some old beach towels. My next door neighbor's son had to leave to go to work so I filled in for him as we maneuvered the Caddy through the front door (which was still off the hinges laying in  the living room floor letting the 89 degrees outside flood into my hovel of a house.)

It felt like lifting a house but I hung in there. Into  the living room we went. Back down the four steps to the dining room we bumped. Hit a snag when we hit the kitchen doorway. We had to take the doors off the refrigerator to fit it through the tight doorway and ninety degree turn. My kitchen was a wreck, my carpets were worse but after a hour and a half I had me a new refrigerator that almost seemed to be smiling at me in his little corner of my kitchen.
 It fit perfectly! Massey and I washed all the shelves and I felt giddy putting them back in.
Tell me this doesn't look like a happy face! That bottom freezer door is definitely smiling.

It took me two hours to clean my kitchen floor but I have never been happier to do it. I got through just in time to iron a work shirt and jump in the shower for work. Massey had to work tonight and so did Zach. We left for the Po key in  time to stop at Chic Fil A for some free sandwiches with cards another one of my wonderful friends sends me in  the mail several times a year. Zach chowed down on  the way into work.

Work was an even bigger nightmare. Busy doesn't even begin to describe it but it all worked out in  the end to my advantage. Massey was working at  the host stand with two girls she loves to work with.  One woman has worked there quite a while...I call her Aibileen.  She is big and black and one of the funniest sweetest women I have ever met. She is kind, she is smart and she is important (to me as a friend.)  She has taught Massey  a lot about being African American,  from the south and not being rich. Massey one time asked her why black people called their houses "Where they stay?" My friend simply said "Because it's just temporary." The other girl working with them at  the host stand tonight was a Latino girl a couple of years older than Massey. She is one of the hardest working teens I have ever met. When she can't get host shifts she picks up shifts washing dishes in  the kitchen...which seems just above shoveling dog crap from a pack of  fifty dogs with diarrhea in  a tiny hot room to us middle class white people...but she does it with a smile on her sweet face. Massey was asking Miriam about Cinco de Mayo (which is actually a made up holiday for bars to sell more booze) when my fabulous friend Aibileen chimed in "Girl...black people get a month, let'em have a day."
After I got off work... Massey and I were driving home and she told me that story. I bet I laughed for five minutes.

Massey is learning a lot about reality working with me...sometimes too much but at least she's getting paid for it!

I came home to a sparkling clean kitchen floor and a huge new refrigerator that is absolutely hands down the nicest appliance I have ever owned. Paying It Forward...a hugely under rated idea and one that could change the entire world. I asked Massey if she had ever seen  the movie "Pay It Forward" and was shocked to learn when I watched it with my younger son she was too young to watch it with us.

Guess what movie Massey and I will be watching tomorrow night when I get home from my day shift?

Til next time...COTTON

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Kind of Day

One thing about having three days off a month is  you learn how to appreciate them. I've been doing better about taking more time off work but more than one day off a week seems a waste to me. I have worked six days a week for over thirty years so I'm used to it.

Today I took Massey  to school and came back home and resumed the position until 11AM. That's all I need...a little time with no one but me and a pillow.

Zach called (collect) around 11:30 and asked if I could bring him some quarters to do laundry...then  quickly added "Call work and see if they need me today." He is so ready to get out. He has grown up and realized the mistake he made. He just wants to come home (although he hasn't said it) and I want him home too. My boss schedules us so I can pick him up for work.  I had the day off so Zach did too.

I told Zach I had to cut three yards and they were fully staffed in the kitchen at work.  I told him I would drop the roll of quarters off and see him tomorrow.

Came home and jumped on Johnny like stink on poop. My buddy at B&L Tire put a tube in Johnny's back leg and I was back in bidness. I had to weed eat the front entrance which is a nightmare and most probably the reason why they pay me to do it.  I got through five minutes before I had to leave to pick up Massey  from school.

Picked up the princess and came home to cut my back yard that looked like an overgrown cow pasture. She helped me move the hammock and some stepping stones and I was off  again! I finished around 4:30. I called work and asked the owner if he would make me a batch of Chicken Cacciatore to have for dinner...since he lets me run a tab. He serves his over linguini...I serve it over rice. Either way it is the bomb.com.

As I turned Johnny's engine off I heard rumbling thunder. The sky was dark and I put the top up on my little car as Massey and I headed out to pick up our dinner from Mama Lucia's. We got maybe a mile up the road when cloud to ground lightning scared the poop out of us. We heard it pop to the left and then saw a bolt that looked like the hand of God smacking the ground to the right. If Massey could have, she would have crawled into the trunk of the car.  I will admit I have never witnessed a strike that close and it was a pretty  scary  thing.

Came home with a huge container of yummy cacciatore and made some rice to serve it over. I am fiflthy and still picking grass out of my hair. The yard work is done and believe it or not I am done.  Working a double shift tomorrow and going to soak in a hot tub.

Still on this side of the dirt...That's a good thing!

Til next time COTTON