Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Glad The Night and Year is Behind Me

I don't know any server or bartender who says they look forward  to New Year's Eve. It's rookie night, just like Valentine's , Mother's or Father's Day. Somebody has forced them to go out and eat and waste their hard earned money so who gets the short end of the stick? Us servers. You have to pay your tab, you don't have to tip.

I'm lucky I don't work in a chain restaurant but a nicer upscale family owned business that thankfully has lots of regulars.

I went into work an hour early just to be prepared.  By five o'clock the place was filling up quickly and not with regulars. I walked by the host stand where the owner was standing and said "Take a look around the place, it looks like we're working in a nursing home."

Almost every person dining was at least eighty years old.  They come in early, split meals, have water to drink (or de-caf) and are back home shortly after sunset.

HEY! At least they don't take up your table all night and ole peeps are generally really nice folks.

Then you have your second wave of people in a hurry during a dinner crush and exasperated they have to wait for a table , even when they don't have a reservation. Then again there is the party of ten who do have a reservation but show up with sixteen people  and get aggravated they have to wait.

All in all it wasn't a bad night, just a long one. We close at  nine thirty so I wasn't really worried. Most people tend to be where they want to be at midnight by  around nine and since we close at  nine thirty, unless  they want to help  mop the floor and put up chairs they leave once they eat.

My last table sat down at eight thirty, two women. They ordered an appetizer and one woman ordered a chicken dish to eat. I thought I got lucky, I could have two women out of there in little over an hour even if they took their time. Then after the appetizer they told me  they had four more people coming after nine o'clock to join them and then they would order.

Just shoot me.

I sucked it up and played the cards I'd been dealt. It's all part of doing what I do for a living. You  can sulk or make their visit amazing, even when you don't feel like it and hope they take care of you  after you  take excellent care of them.

Around nine fifteen the other four arrived. The first man said loudly "We're here to ring in the New Year, bring me a bottle!" as he set his Stetson hat on the floor beside him. (Welcome to the south)

Since I got the last table to come in I was  assigned to be a closer,  which means I can't leave until every thing is done and checked. Sucked for me but  made sense so I couldn't much  complain.

At least I got out around eleven thirty. Made nothing like I did last night (smart people go out the night BEFORE New Year's Eve) but was back home and off the streets before all  the idiots left parties swearing  they were okay to drive.

New Year's Eve is amateur night all around, from the restaurant/bar industry to the obnoxious guest at  the party to the dumb asses who drive drunk.

I've never gone out for New Year's Eve, which may  be attributed either to the fact I've been a server for over thirty five years or when I was a kid always went to the Sunday School party my parents attended. Let me say,  those were some rocking parties and went on until breakfast...no alcohol involved just good Christian folks having a blast. I remember one year when it was at my parent's best friend's house. Their seventeen year old daughter came by a little before midnight with her boyfriend to check in and the house was so loud they could hear the adults from  the street. Mrs. Hiers (the church pianist) was banging away on  the piano  and people were singing along, loud and out of tune.

It kinda reminded me of the time Aunt Bee on Andy Griffith got toasted on The Elixir from the traveling medicine man and her whole social group got locked up for public drunkenness. They were singing "Toots, Toots, Tootsie Goodbye..." and Aunt Bea's hair was all in her face. Classic episode. It will be funniest twenty minutes you've spent in a while, trust me!

The seventeen year old daughter's boy friend looked at her and asked if they were drunk? She said "No, silly, it's their Sunday School party!"

My parents and their friends knew how to and always did have a good time. They didn't need chemicals or alcohol. They partied til dawn and then all cooked breakfast together before gathering us kids to take home.

That's the kind of New Year's Eve I want to have one day.

Hoping every one has a spectacular 2014...I know we will.

Til next  time, COTTON

Sunday, December 29, 2013

It Was a Good Christmas

It came early and quick with Thanksgiving being so late this year and passed like a flash but was a pretty great Christmas. I paid for everything in cash and the kids got most everything they wanted and everything they needed.

Massey is the girl so was very explicit with her list. She wanted one of the cowl's Jennifer Lawrence wore in Catching Fire.


 I have a good friend from high school who crochets and made her one. It turned out awesome and think my friend may get quite  a few orders for more once Massey return to college with hers.

 She also wanted a small angel wing pendant to wear around her neck to hold some of my late Diddy's ashes. (yes I am a hoarder and saved some) We got her an opal ring (my momma's birthstone) and a super cute maxi skirt. I picked her up a few more little things and she seemed very happy. My brother got her a pair of kick a** knee high lace up leather boots and she got plenty from my sister, brother in law and her cousins. We went to my in laws on Christmas Eve and she came home with another load.

Zach got a much needed wallet, some nice sweaters, a few beanies he always wears and another pair of shoes. The boy owns two pair of shoes...all he needs "He says." I broke down and bought him an iPhone. I found it on Amazon. It's just like the one I have only there is a tiny quarter inch  crack in the upper left hand corner of the back. When the case is on it you  can't even see it and the people sold it because they updated to an 5s. I got it for one fifty and told him all he had to do was  pay to have it activated and choose a plan. Now I can have my phone back! He works late at  night and always have him take my cell in case something happens on  the road.

Massey and I went to Ross-Mess For Less and got Tim some nice dress pants and shirts. I made sure all the zippers and buttons  were there and worked  and sizes  were right. You gotta pay  attention at Ross'!

Everybody was happy Christmas morning. I was even surprised with a present from Tim and the kids.

It was a rough pre Christmas week. I got sick a week before Christmas as the Flu stampeded  through my workplace. I went to work every day came home, fell in bed and got up the next  day thirty minutes before I had to leave for work. I washed my hands at least fifty times a shift, was careful not to touch food  and coughed into my sleeve. My fever finally broke after four days and  started to feel somewhat better.  I should have gone to the Doc in the Box but thinking about how many presents I could buy with the money kept me away. I mean the Flu is the Flu. You have to be careful about contamination, wash your hands relentlessly and pump yourself full of vitamin C.  Not one of my regulars came back sick so guess I did a pretty good job.

I lost five pounds and my New Year's resolution was to gain ten. I'd better get to eating!

We all spent the day together and had a fantastic time. I know Tim's family is my family too...but THIS is my immediate family. No parents left, just three kids and the kids they've had. (or in Chris' case, spoiled)

TJ, my oldest was still in Australia. It was me,Tim, Zach and Massey. We went to my sister and brother in law's house joined by her  two sons and their partners. My nephew Casey and his fiancee brought her daughter, Ava (a delightful girl)

My sister gave my brother a sleeve of "Nose Cups." Funniest  thing I've seen in a while.

No the cup isn't clear, it's white with the nose and top lip printed on them.
Tim just hangs  around because he can't leave without us but know how much  he loves my ultra cool, fantastic and loving family.

We don't have a lot of money but got a butt load of love going on and always have each others back.
These three kids who all showed up, in outfits our Momma sewed to have our picture taken at Harlan Drive Day Nursery (where momma worked)  have grown up from this pic
and ended up still just as tight as we were on the back of our station wagon in the early sixties.

We had the greatest parents on Earth and that's a pretty  great start.
I've semi grown up and married a man who loves me unconditionally.

I grew up in Mayberry on Bayard Street In East Point, Georgia. Every minute, every  memory was pleasant and beautiful.

I may have had a few hard knocks since I've been in my middle age but what reassures me most is I will  always, ALWAYS have my sibs to fall back, rely and depend on.
None of us are this young any more but what makes me smile is that we are still this close.
My Momma (on the left) was younger than me in this photo and is the last photo taken of her. She died two days later when I was seventeen.

When my parents married (the above photo) I'm sure thought they had the entire world ahead of them and would be spoiling grand kids into their eighties or nineties.

Momma didn't make it long enough for even one grand kid, Diddy made it for six but blazed out early from West Nile virus in ten days. God takes the good ones early.

My brother, sister and I often talk about how lucky we are that our family takes the express checkout.

When you are a Leach, you live hard and you  love hard. You don't drag out your life, you simply do your best and then let go.

How you live your life every day is how you will be remembered. I try to think about that every  morning I wake up and draw a breath.
Here's to 2014.

I was born in 1960 and feel pretty lucky to still be kickin' in 2103.

Turn to your neighbor who you haven't seen outside in a while and ask what you can do?

Make a new friend and help them out no matter how insignificant it may seem. A car  ride or just an ear to listen .

See someone in need...that could have been  you.

I'm one of  the lucky ones and therefore is my destination to at least  try and pay it forward.

Hoping you all had  a happy and blessed  Holiday Season. Want to be blessed more?

Pay It Forward.

Blessed Beyond Belief, COTTON

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Well, guess I'd better be ready because it's thirteen minutes into Christmas Day. Spent the day with my bestie, Massey. We  went to Ross Mess For Less and got ole Tim some new work clothes, two pair of nice pants and two shirts. Massey  asked what size pants we were looking for?

 Here's the thing about Tim. When I met him (over twenty  five years ago) he wore a 32x34 and thinks he still does. (he doesn't)

Now he looks like he's been squeezed into his pants with  a cookie press...not attractive. The first  time I brought home a pair of 33x34 he commented they were  the wrong size but wore them anyway and seemed  to be able to breathe and bend over a lot easier.
In the above pic he was a little heavier but still was okay with his 32's. For Pete's sake, Massey was seven by then.

I implore you, does the above photo (a year ago) look like the face of a man who wears a size  32 waist? Me no think so.  For Pete's sake, a size 34 waist isn't bad for a fifty one year old man  and he looks a lot better in pants that fit.

Today I stepped up to reality for my man and told Massey we were looking for 34x34. Here's the thing with a man, you  simply cut off the tag with the size on it and give it to them. Then they go  put the pants on (which now fit perfectly) look in the mirror and feel  good about how great  they look in their new jeans or slacks. Men are simple creatures and when  guided through life by a good  wife will go far!

We  came home and started baking. I decided to bake Christmas presents  for friends this year. It beats spending ten bucks on a crappy gift from Big Lots which would most probably get re gifted or sold in a yard sale.  This one comes from our heart...right into  their belly!

I made four dozen chocolate chip cookies, took my boss's advice and used parchment paper. They turned out fantastic! Massey made Rice Krispie treats while I tried my hand at cheese straws for the first time. It was trial and error but they ended up pretty good. We  ran out of time for the Danish  Wedding  cookies but will make those tomorrow. We delivered the tins and everyone seemed  to like them.

Massey took a tin to the older man who lives around the corner from us. I bought my beloved, Johnny Dear from him. He lost his wife last year around this time. Massey had sent him a letter for his birthday last month when his daughter posted on Facebook that if anyone wanted to make her father's birthday a little brighter, send him a note for his birthday. He framed Massey's letter and hung it on his kitchen wall. She wrote to him saying how she always drives by and sees him working in his yards. She told him her mother had bought the John Deere  from him and it was her prized possession. She said seeing him every  time she turned the corner always made her smile.

We took the tin to his house today and the driveway was packed with  all his kid's and grand kid's cars. We parked at  the end of the driveway and walked  to the front door. The kid who opened the door was his grandson, Zach. Talk about a handsome young man, he even made me blush. When we went in, his mom noticed it was Massey  behind me and said to her father "Daddy, here's someone you've got to meet!" He came around the corner of the crowded kitchen and said "Are you my birthday angel?"

When he hugged her tight, I knew I had brought my girl up right.

His daughter (a teacher at  the high school Massey attended) came up and hugged me, saying "You have a very special girl."

I had to agree with her.

Here's the  thing. My kids can (and do) wear me out and try my patience on a daily basis but know how to treat others and know how to Pay it Forward.

Zach goes next  door once a month and spends over an hour helping our old neighbor unload firewood from his truck. Zach will walk over and talk to him when he's outside for  thirty minutes at a time. I just get  in my car  to go to work and wave bye to him.

So here's the deal.

We're  monetarily poor but rich in what really counts. Love, compassion, caring  and paying it forward.

Come to think of it, my life is pretty full. I can't see how money could make it any better.

I'm loved by my husband, I'm loved by my kids. I'm loved by my sister and brother and  have the most excellent unobtrusive in laws a girl could ever dream of. I have a good job and have a house  that will be paid off in four years. I have people who love me, a brother in law who has helped us out time and time and time again and I have God, Who has made it all possible.

Yep, I'm one lucky old gal.

Be sure to click on the Jimmy Fallon video at the top, it's great. Hoping you all have a blessed Christmas.

Til next  time...COTTON

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas Co Workers

So we had our  company Christmas party tonight. I am one of the senior servers so  took charge of the present for the bosses. I collected money to give them so they could do what they wanted with it.
I hate to waste money on something they don't want so we (I) decided to  just give them back what  they give us...a paycheck. I had a letter all typed up to read and had rehearsed it over and over. When I read it got so emotional that I sounded like an idiot. Sometimes younger employees just don't get it so I made it something I hoped  they could all understand This is a family owned business. They have invested  their entire lives for us to be  able to make a buck. Yes they are crazy but you have to be to own a restaurant. I collected money  from the other servers and bought a really nice card to put it in. My  real reason was to let the younger peeps working there to know how lucky they are to work for a family instead of a corporate giant. I got so choked up reading it I had to stop twice for a sip of water. Decided  to include the letter I so poorly read. Len is the owner, his wife is Barb and their son is Leon.

" So another year has passed and here we are again. There have been lots of changes this past year but change is what keeps life interesting.

We have a lot of new people at our party tonight so I'll bring them up to date. I've known the Guillaumes for almost seventeen years. Believe it or not, Leon and I used to be servers together when we first met. Yes... LEON was a server. His mother worked across the street from us at Pascal's and used to stop in to pick up food to go and that's how we  first met. I didn't meet Dr. Evil (Len) until he became a manager for the steakhouse chain I worked for.

After a few years Barb and Len (notice which order I named them in and if you're SMART will always remember to do the same) decided to open their own restaurant at Thomas Crossroads. Leon went to work with them as well and the Mama's Family was born.

I stayed working at  the steakhouse for almost twelve years until they fired me for giving my daughter a cup of ice cream for free. My husband had been out of work for over a year and I was supporting the entire family on a server's salary. I was completely devastated and more depressed than I had ever been.

Actually it was Leon who first called me and told me to come see Barb about working for them. It took me over a week of wallowing in my pity before I went to see Barb. When I walked in the door she was perched in her chair by  the men's restroom with a lap full of receipts. The first thing she said was "Where have you been, I've been looking for you." I told her I had been looking for myself too.

They hired me on the spot. It was a horrible time in my family's life. I had to file for food stamps and put my kids on medicare. We almost lost our house. For the first two years I worked almost every shift Mama Lucia's was open, often times all of them.

Without the Guillaumes, we would have gone under. Instead they helped us survive. I can't tell  you how many times Barb bailed me out when our utilities were scheduled to be cut off.

Fast forward...YES they are (as my daughter says) CRAY CRAY, most definitely. I learned that on my first day here. What I also learned was if you work hard and give it your all, they'll take care of you.

Back to the Cray Cray part. Barb is about as tech savvy as Wilma Flintsone. She knows what the lap top in the office is but for some unknown reason calls the P/C "The Master." I've been here almost four years and have never figured that one out. One time Len asked me to respond to an email for him, he was on the line cooking. I asked Barb if she could bring up the email on the lap top and she said sure. Fifteen minutes later I walked by  the office door and asked if she had email open?  Her reply was "No, but I'm getting closer."

Barb hates modern technology. I  tend to agree with her at  times.

Len is the true epitome of a Mad Italian.  He can be meek and mild one minute  then explode in the next instant. I told him one time that we were going to buy him a tee shirt that read on the front: FIVE... FOUR...THREE... TWO... ONE !!  I remember when a friend of mine used to work here and on one of her first days on the floor walked in the door and asked Len how he was? He didn't skip a beat, kept right on doing what he was doing and simply said "Well, I'm still married to Barb."

For all their fighting, they still love each other. Marriage is a lot of work and too many people obviously don't listen to the vows they take and make.

This family, our bosses, our avenue of financial survival and security work harder than any one of us in this room ever has, I can almost bet you. Len is eight years older than I am and has worked almost ninety hours a week for over six years, 360 days of the year. Barb, who is ten years older than me (you're welcome, Barb) is here every day as well except when Len can convince or make her mad enough to take a shift off.

I even guarantee you Leon works well over forty hours a week and he's the young buck of the cray cray family.

I'll admit it can be challenging at times working here. I'll admit sometimes you can get discouraged or feel unappreciated. I've been a server for over thirty five years and have felt  that way at every job I've had. Here's the huge difference. We  don't work for a huge corporation that couldn't care less. We work for a family who has poured all their money, heart and soul into a venue that allows us all to survive.

Heck yeah , they're crazy but I'm a big fan of crazy. It beats being predictable and dull.

For all this family has done for every ONE of us standing in this room, drinking their booze, cashing their paychecks or receiving a yearly bonus, WE sincerely thank YOU.

Accept this small token of appreciation from us and do whatever you want with it. Fix something broken, treat yourselves to something you want or just put it in the bank. Just know that it is heart felt.

I think Dr. Seuss may have put it best:

    'I love my job. I love the pay!
    I love it more and more each day.
    I love my boss, he is the best!
    I love his boss (that would be  Barb) and all the rest.'

Thanks for allowing us to be a paid part of your dysfunctional yet hardworking family."

It was an awesome party and feel lucky to be a part of the team. It's the only Christmas party I've gone to this year but is one I would never miss. Even came home with three boxes of leftovers and three hundred dollars in hard cold cash. Support small business...GO AMERICA!

Merry Christmas!

Til next time...COTTON

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Is Coming, The Tips Are Getting Phat

I was starting to get worried about Christmas. Waiting tables is a hit or miss job even if you  give excellent service all  the time. Some people simply don't get it.

Servers make $2.13 an hour. Taxes on your tips are taken out of that salary. Then as with most places, the server has to tip out to the bartenders on alcohol sales and also tip out to hosts and bus boys. So if  you leave a server a fifteen percent tip, they actually get eleven or twelve percent after tip out.

I've been struggling this holiday season. Sometimes you  get great tables and sometimes you get horrible tables. I've had a few bad ones, no one's fault just my luck of the draw.

Tonight was a whole new ballgame and restored my faith in deciding to be a professional plate and drink slinger for a living.

They were loving me and I was hitting all the marks. The cooks did an outstanding job and the job they do makes a huge difference in the way my night can go. Cooks are a temperamental bunch and can be complete A Holes at  times. They think we are all idiots and we think they all are. It makes for  lively conversation sometimes.

Tonight after they sent out my fourteen top flawlessly and not one thing was wrong, undercooked or overcooked during the biggest push of the night I went back to the expo line, peered through the window and said "Hey, North Korea, y'all did an awesome job tonight."

One of the newer  cooks said to another cook, "What's she talking about?"  One of the older cook's, who reads my Blog said "She says the expo window divides the restaurant. We're North Korea and  they're South Korea." (unless  you ask a cook, then it flips the other way)

I waited on five tables and walked out with almost two hundred dollars, (after) tipping out. I don't want to jinx myself because tomorrow night could be a disaster shift but just knowing I can still do it made my night and boosted up my confidence, which needed a boost.

Tim picked me up from work and I was in the back finishing up cleaning the tables from my last party when the owner hollered back (we were closed by then) "Kelly! Your husband's here for his half of your take." I walked out and said to Tim, waiting for me to finish "I only made twenty bucks tonight, baby."

Yes I work for and with some crazy folks but guess that's why I fit in so well. After almost four years of working almost seven days a week every week, the tide is slowly turning. I'm working six shifts a week compared to the thirteen I used to work and have actually begun to gain a little weight back and feel like we can make it now. Tim has a great lead on a full time job, all three kids are working and the tide seems to finally be turning our way.

I wasn't worried about Christmas for my family. I gave the kids a low budget and already have all of Massey's paid for. I'm paying for Zach's tomorrow and have already gotten a few other presents. I was more worried about the little girl we had adopted from  The Salvation Army. I was worried I had bitten off too much to chew but tonight changed everything...she'll have a great Christmas now and get everything on her wish list!

I heard a great quote last night. "Christmas isn't about what you  get, it's about what you give."

Here's another good one to remember. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

I am one of the most blessed people on the planet and don't think for  a minute that I don't realize it.

Charging ahead full steam. I still have eighteen days to go in our Holiday Season at the restaurant and have a good feeling about it.

This was the best Friday the Thirteenth I've ever had!

Til next time. COTTON

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dang That Went Fast

It's hard to believe another Christmas has almost rolled around again. The older you get the quicker time flies by.

Massey came home today and it's nice having two of the three home for the holidays. TJ's still in Australia and it will be our first Christmas without him.

He seems happy though and that makes me happy. We still have his "boy" Charlie living large with us. Loving the little doofus was hard to get used to but fat boy has worked his way into my heart and  now love him like crazy. Tim calls him "Chally Fat Boy" and I call him "Chally TWO Phat." He rarely answers to anything, we  think he's most probably deaf and already know he's dumb but he's deafinitely (small pun) one of the family. He's got a face you GOTTA love.
Unfortunately , this is his SMART look but he's a great dog and Ham and Ziggy both love him.

TJ got him this shirt when he was still just a pup.
So  the Clampetts are doing Christmas again. It's gonna be another slim year but I quit worrying about  that over four years ago. One good thing about not having a lot of money is you learn  to enjoy the Reason for the Season.

I have a great family and I have great kids. I have a great husband who hasn't tried to kill me yet and the best friends a person could hope to have.

My many, many blessings far outweigh any financial problems. I'd rather be broke and loved than rich and unloved.

It was only a few short years ago that we were struggling simply to keep  the utilities on and keep our house out of foreclosure. Oh we're still behind, but who isn't besides rich peeps?

It's gotten better with every year. Sometimes we've been knocked back down a peg or  two but with the survival net we thankfully have (God, family and friends)  always seem to make ends meet.

I often think about  families this time of year who don't even HAVE a house or place to call home TO lose. I think about people suffering  from cancer or other horrible, devastating sometimes (often) fatal diseases. I think about little kids who are abused or neglected. I think about people starving in third world countries.  I think about women who live in countries where they can't even receive an education. I think about how utterly stupid our own politicians are, worried more about the party they are affiliated with than the people they represent.

Then I think about how extremely lucky I am. Money is over rated in my book and if I died  tomorrow could (hopefully would) make it to the Pearly Gates with nothing more than a carry on bag.

I ask you all this holiday season to look around yourself and see others. Lend a hand or just an ear. Touch someone's life. Make a true difference.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Life is all about Karma. What goes around comes around. Life is all about the Golden Rule. Treat others as you  would treat yourself. Life is not what you make of it but what you  take from it and pay forward.

"I think some people are too scared, or something. I guess it's hard for people who are so used to things the way they are - even if they're bad - to change. 'Cause they kind of give up. And when they do, everybody kind of loses." (Trevor in Pay It Forward)

Our world is in serious need of a make over. I worry about the world as much  as I do about my own family. We all live in the same place.

We'll be just fine, it's the other almost seven billion I worry  about.

"You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one."

A very Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. Take a minute, even just ten seconds out of your day to  think about people less fortunate than yourself and then count YOUR blessings. Count them one by  one and you will also be amazed what The Lord has done.

Til next  time, which most probs  will be about  ten hours...COTTON

Monday, December 9, 2013


We got a new guy at work. He's a full blooded Indian from Oaklahoma and just moved here to Newnan. Kind of ironic, the county we live in is "Coweta" the name of a former tribe. I've never worked with a full blooded Native American but respect the heck out of them. We raped them of their land and rights, took over their nation and as my younger son Zach said "Shoved them all into a tiny territory."

He's a really nice guy and has tried hard to fit into our dysfunctional work family. Here's the thing, he's a klutz. He bumps into you constantly (and is  not a tiny Indian). He's studied the menu and tried hard to learn all the dishes and done an excellent job. He's just a klutz, but are a lot worse things a person could be. I like to call him Chief, some call him Injun but he takes it all in the spirit which it is given. His real name is Joe.

A couple of weeks ago he was in the kitchen at work and knocked over a huge stained glass screen that hides all the brooms and dustpans from customers being able to see them. The bottom panel cracked and fell out and I could tell he was sick about it. Luckily, Barb had gone to the store for something so we patched it up with duct tape and no one mentioned it when she got back.

He's the real deal, his last name is even Tall Bull. I've affectionately started calling him "Tall Bull in a china shop."

Saturday night he was doing his sidework which included marrying the racks of coffee mugs by  the coffee station which  sits right by  the door leading to the dining room. He pulled the bottom rack out and pulled it a bit too far and the entire front of the rack fell to  the floor sending the china cups crashing to the tile floor and rolling out into the dining room. The rack fell on the top of one of his feet and as he leaned back in pain against  the wall behind him (which houses all controls for the lighting in the entire restaurant)  and slumped down a bit he inadvertently turned down every light in the store. Lucky for him (again) Barb was gone on break and we all helped him sweep up the mess before she got back. Barb is so tight she could pinch a penny til it screamed. The minute she hears a crash anywhere in  the restaurant, her head snaps quickly  to  the side and she hurries off to see what we have broken now.

So Tall Bull in a china shop got off easy again. When Barb got back she immediately asked who had been messing with the lights, it was dark as night in the place. Oops, we forgot to push the light switches back up after Chief fell into  the wall.

So about an hour later was in the back of the kitchen when Tall Bull in a china shop was trying to cut up  the Parmesan cheese. Len (the owner)  buys a huge wheel that is hard as heck to cut and has a huge two handled knife over two feet long just for that purpose. Tall Bull in a china shop had a knife like the ones we use to cut bread with and was sawing away  at the wheel of cheese which is the diameter of a basketball. He said the Len, "Is this the knife I should be using for this?" to which Len replied that was the worst knife to use. I chuckled at  that and before I could stop myself said "Somebody get him a tomahawk." I did go over and find the two handled knife for him and showed him how to use it.

It's been lots of fun having a new server to harass and he's given us endless material to work with.

About three years ago, Barb hired a gal who was a total spastic wreck. I know Barb felt sorry  for her (Barb always likes to have a pet project) but the gal just couldn't catch on. Her name was Janine. Len made her a nervous wreck and she was terrified of him. Here's the thing about Len: do your job EXACTLY the way he tells you to  and you  won't have any problem. Well, maybe one or two...he IS a Mad Italian but work hard and you  can fly under the radar for the most part.

Any  time he would tell her to do something, she always tried to go one step further, which isn't what he wants. He wants you to do exactly what he tells you  to do. One time he told her to take more bread to a table. He had stopped by  to chat with them and said he'd have the server bring more bread out with their meal. He went to find Janine and told her to take more bread to table 202. She made the fatal mistake of saying "They don't want anymore." Let's just say  that set him off.  He said "Did I ASK you if  they wanted more or did I TELL you  to take them more?"

Here's the thing, when he stopped by  to  chat they said they had changed their mind and more bread would be nice. When the owner of a restaurant tells you to do something, unless it is illegal or not job related, you'd best do it. I learned  that one YEARS ago.

One night, a busy Friday night Janine was standing by the expo counter and in the middle of a huge push (that means we were balls to the walls busy) knocked the printer off the counter which sends checks to the cooks. It hit the floor and busted open, but that's not all. As she tried to catch  the printer from  falling she knocked the huge container of pasta spoons onto the floor and as she tried to catch  that from falling as well, knocked a container of steak knives onto the floor as well. When  the ole gal goofed, she did it royally. Len had to come off  the cook line and fix the printer while the rest of us picked up all  the spoons and knives.

She's been gone for three years but still say to someone when they make a mess or goof up royally "Way  to go Janine."

So now we have a "Joenine."

Yes restaurant people are a brutal bunch and you gotta have thick skin to work in one. We're also a dysfunctional family that sticks together and will help a brother or sister out.

I've been a server since 1979. That's a long time no matter what you do for a living. I enjoy it for the most part, it's fast paced but that's the way I am geared. Even if it's balls to the walls busy, there will always be down time when you can laugh and trust me, working with the public gives you plenty of things to laugh about.

Even though we are  family we are a divided family. Cooks vs Servers. All cooks think servers are complete idiots and all servers think cooks are complete asses. Who's right? It depends on which side of the kitchen you work.

 Take tonight, for example. A cook, who can be a total Richard Noggin' was taking a break. He had fixed his dinner on a plate and it held two apples and carrot sticks. Being the smarty pants I am said "What are you, a horse now?' When he smirked at me I turned to another server and said "And we thought he was a Jack Ass!"

Everybody in South Korea (our side of the line) laughed. Total silence from North Korea. (their side)

It's our beach season in the restaurant world. We have six weeks to pad our nest egg. Large parties every night and lots of peeps out to celebrate. It started slow for me but that's just the way it is.

Waiting tables is always a gamble. You roll big or you crap out. You just keep on keeping on and hope  it all averages out in your favor.

We have a pretty good staff right now and are set for the Holidays. I say,"Bring it!"

Til next time...Cotton

Friday, December 6, 2013

Another Blast From My Past

So I was in the restroom at work tonight and turned around to see the wife of a guy I worked for back in the eighties for fourteen years at a little pizza joint called Johnny's Pizza.  When I started with them they had two tiny stores in metro Atlanta, they now have stores in eight states.

When I started working for them they were located in a small strip mall. Next door was the original Starship, another blast from the past. Back then we just called it a Head Shop but had the coolest tee shirts, all kinds of trinkets and great posters too.
 Johnny's was on the end of  the strip, Starship was next, then a printing company. Next  to that was a locksmith then on the other end a tailor shop. I remember it like it was yesterday.

My former boss was in tonight with his wife and their daughter, who I haven't seen in over seventeen years. She looked exactly the same, if I had run into her on the street  would have immediately known who she was.

Oh, the eighties! I had a good run with Johnny's. I grew up while working there and developed the work ethic I still have today from working for Scott. (although everyone who didn't know him always called him Johnny)

I actually met my husband there. He used  to come in after work with his buddies for pizza and beer. It was a local watering hole and neighborhood hangout for the locals and airport workers. There was an older black guy we called Shine...he shined shoes at  the airport and liked his chilled Burgundy  wine in a paper cup. This was back when they had Sky Caps at Hartsfield, usually always black men who helped  you unload your luggage at  the curb (for a tip) way back when you could park curbside to unload before a flight.

They all came into Johnny's to eat or drink. Ramp workers, sky caps, shoe shiners, flight attendants, even leads and management. We were right down  the street from the Eastern hangar. It was a cool place to work and an even cooler place to hang out. It was housed in an old Huddle House. It had maybe ten swivel stools at  the counter and six booths. They built three longer booths at  the back of the store for larger parties. There was a group of guys from Ethiopia who played soccer together and came in regularly after games and always drained the Heineken supply... dang  those men could drink.

It was a laid back place to work without many rules. One guy used to come in to eat and drink with his buddies, sit at one of the back long booths and bring his pet hawk on his arm covered with a thick heavy leather glove. You don't see THAT every day.

Back in the eighties professional wrestling was getting big again. The gas station next door to us and across the bridge let wrestler's park their cars in their lots when they flew out to other cities for a match. I waited on Andre the Giant many times, he was a freak of nature but a nice enough guy. Rick Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and even The Assassins (I and II) came in.

The great  thing  about Johnny's was it was a neighborhood pizzeria . I am still FB friends with many many peeps who used to frequent the store. My own Diddy used to come in with his church buds every week after visitation for a sub or pizza.

It was an unpretentious and all welcoming place  to be and work. The Ethiopian dudes used to sideline as parking attendants at  The Omni and got us many free  tickets  to shows. To name a few, Bob Seger, Cyndi Lauper,  and Eddie  Money. Yep it was the eighties and they were some hot groups to see.

Don't get me started about Spondivit's, the bar that opened next  door to the the gas station that "Spencer" owned. I feel like I lived my own Woodstock when I look back on it.

I miss those days.

It was great seeing my old boss again. He was always a stand up guy  and taught me how to be a grownup at the age of twenty two. He was my first mentor.

Came home tonight and thought about how wonderful those times were. We were children of the eighties  and lived life on the edge but somehow, someway survived to tell the story.

Life seems to go in cycles  and tonight I cycled back to 1982.

Johnny's Pizza at 1241 Virginia Ave was a great place to be. Ask any airport worker or resident of East Point, College Park or Hapeville.

And to think I've LIVED to tell the story!

Til next time...COTTON

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Getting Old, But it Beats the Alternative

Dang, sometimes being a waitress rules. I know I'm supposed to call myself a "Server" but am old school and still consider myself a waitress. Always have been, always will be.

Work was slow tonight, when I needed it to be busy. (Murphy's Law) I only waited on three tables but walked out with almost ninety bucks.

I waited on two peeps, a mother and son, waited on five teachers having their Christmas gift exchange when my Christmas Angel came in. She's only a bit older than me, a Coweta County native and one of my favorite people. She suffers from MS. I have a brother in law who suffers from it too. It seems when you  have MS all you do is suffer from it. No cure, just coping.

I used  to take her meals a couple of times a month but have been slack lately. It's crazy but was thinking of her today when I left the bank and passed by the turn off for her street.

Tonight she  ambled into  the restaurant on her walker with her daughter, who could be a freakin model she's so pretty and they  sat at my table. I would love nothing more than to be able to go out to dinner with my momma but lost her when I was seventeen. Hope I can hang around a few more years for Massey and me to do  the same for years to come.

It was slow so we got to chat. I love to chat. Actually I like to talk and talk and talk.

My friend started feeling bad and her daughter came up to me to ask if I could make their entrees to go? I packed  up their dinner, packed  up the rest of their bottle of wine, packed them some bread with olive oil, Parmesan cheese and seasonings and put it all in a box.

This woman not only suffers from  MS, she suffers from losing her husband to cancer a year  ago. Every time I go to her house she is a delight to be around. She is  a strong minded and sound woman and I admire her.

I walked them out to the car carrying the box and gave her a hug, I  think she hugged me even tighter.  I went back inside to clear the table and picked up the credit  card slip. I didn't have my glasses on and thought she had left me a fifty percent tip. I shook my head thinking she shouldn't  have done that. Twenty  minutes later I put my glasses on  and realized she had left me an almost hundred percent tip.

Now I can pay off my cell phone bill and buy some presents for more kids through  The Salvation Army. What goes around comes around. What's even more important is when someone  pays it forward to you, pay it forward to another.

I think I am one of the luckiest people on the face of the earth. I may not have a lot of money but have a butt load of love coming at me.

Love is all you need.

My hair is going totally gray, I sweat like a wrestler 24/7 and the veins on my legs and hands look like they will burst any minute but I'm still here... a good place to be when you still have three kids kicking around the planet.

I just can't  grasp or understand all the politics. I can't understand all the political fighting. I can't understand the back biting and back stabbing. I sincerely think the American people have forgotten the most important words. "WE the people"

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Loosely translated by  this girl it all means "Live and let live. Love as you would want to be loved. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." In my book that pretty much covers it all.

Life is pretty simple but why are we all turning  the deaf ear  and fighting when we should be ONE nation?


Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Just saying...peeps live to live by Karma and remember The Golden Rule.

Til next  time...COTTON

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

YIKES The Year Went By Fast

I can hardly believe it is already the first week of December. Where has the year gone and is Christmas really in twenty two days?

Business has really started to pick up at the restaurant, a sure sign that the holidays are upon us.

I used to get all into decorating  the house and front yard, especially when the kids were younger. Now my youngest is over eighteen and living away at college so guess I'll get a tree and let it go at that. I have all the lights for the front bushes in boxes out in the garage but doubt I'll put them up. There's always that one strand which blows a fuse and they all go out, plus I used to love to come home from work and see  the yard all lit up. Now I'd just drive home, see them and think about how the power bill was going up.

I did my fair share when the kids were little and it counted the most.

I haven't even THOUGHT about Christmas shopping. I've never been one of those early shoppers, even when Tim and I were making good money. We've always made sure all December's bills were paid before we even started to shop and then paid cash for what we purchased. It's still one of the best rules we've ever come up with.

I have plenty of memories of the kids at Christmas when they were little. We always put their toys and presents out, unwrapped like Santa had come. I've always been a server and most always worked nights. I can remember coming home from work or the in laws on Christmas Eve and wishing the kids would go to bed so I could get started on my Santa duty. More than once I can remember saying to the kids "You sound like you're coming down with a cold. You don't want to be sick Christmas morning, take this Benadryl, it'll help you stay well." After they were knocked out I'd get started and could be as loud as I wanted.

Now they are all older,  we can enjoy Christmas as it should be enjoyed,  "The Reason for the Season." It's the time to bake cookies and cheese straws. It's the time to go by  The Salvation Army and pick up a small list of things some child wished for. It's  the time to invite friends over who have nowhere to go on Christmas Day. It's the time to reflect and affect.

So we've had some hard knocks the last few years but if not making six figures a year again is the worst thing to ever happen  to our family, we have been truly and sincerely blessed.

When I worked for the After School Program at  my kid's elementary school, I saw kids who broke my heart. I'll never forget one little girl, she couldn't have been more than nine years old. Her momma was a big ole slob who didn't have a pot to piss in but always had a manicure and fake nails. Her daughter always looked ragged and dirty but was such a sweet girl. When the kids came back to school after Christmas break I remember my boss asking this little girl what she got from Santa? The little girl's face lit up and she said "I got a candy bar and a five dollar bill!" I think this was one Christmas when we bought our boys a PlayStation, and Massey got spoiled too.

How can you spend forty bucks  a month on your ten finger nails but only spend five dollars on your daughter for Christmas? I still think about little Brandie and hope she survived and thrived.

Another little boy, Chase was just as pitiful. He came to school every day nasty and constantly had a snotty nose. His fingernails were long and disgustingly dirty. One day I kept him in when the other kids went out to play. I sat him down and took out some nail clippers. When I cut his nails, he cringed every time I pressed the clippers. How sad is it that a child is frightened of having his nails clipped because it happened so infrequently?

Here's my biggest gripe. If you don't want to take care of children or attempt to give  them a good life...don't have them. If you are selfish, that's fine but don't bring a child into this world and then neglect them while you take care of yourself.

I'm stopping by  The Salvation Army tomorrow to pick up a wish list.

Let me tell you MY wish list!

I wish people didn't hate so much.
I wish more people believed in Karma and The Golden Rule.
I wish I could immediately pay back all the people who have helped us survive the past five years.
I wish everyone cared.
I wish every person could see how even if their life seems bad there may be tens of millions who  wish they had your life.

I wish the world well.

John Lennon may have had the best wish list of all:

So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

War is over over
If you want it
War is over

Til next time, Merry Christmas, and remember the Reason For the Season.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Back to the Real World

I went back to work last night after six wonderful days off. It wasn't busy last night but the tipping gods smiled on me and  walked out with my buddy Ben in my apron.

Today was a rainy day...all day. That isn't the kind of day you like  when you have three big dogs. I kept waiting for the rain to stop so I could go to the grocery store but by three realized we would starve if I waited for the rain to stop. I used  to love Publix, never shopped anywhere but. When our life hit the skids a few years back I switched to Kroger. I would have done the Walmart route but when you go there for groceries suddenly you think of a million other things you need and wander off from the grocery aisles and end up over in the hardware, auto or garden dept. Kroger is cheaper and I like saving gas points but have found me an even cheaper option. Food Depot.

You shouldn't go there the day food stamps come out, the place is a mad house but at least  peeps living off  the govt. are stretching OUR dollars. I'm not dissing them, at one time a few short years ago I was one of them and my own family received  govt assistance. We wouldn't have made it without it.

I only had to use it for a couple of months but made me a true believer in the system. Yes it has flaws but what govt system doesn't?

So anyway, I go into Food Depot to pick up the bare minimum. Paid  a couple of bills and had forty bucks for gas and groceries. Here's what I like about Food Depot, poor peeps are pretty much  the friendliest peeps you'll meet. They aren't in any kind of hurry. They are just going back home to depressing squalor. They all seem to know each other, unlike Publix, Kroger or even Walmart. I was rounding the first aisle in produce when an old man started chatting me up. "Beep beep, here I come" he said. I smiled and let him pass. We met up again in the meat section. He asked me where something was and for the life of me couldn't understand him. He had no teeth. He looked clean and his tattered clothes looked clean but  simply couldn't understand him. I finally figured out he was looking for Jimmy Dean sausage, the patties. I pointed back to the bacon when he said "Don't leave me hanging, come show me where they is" so I did. He thanked me and  said "I oughta take you home wit me."

I took absolutely no offense but some people would. He meant it as a compliment and I took it that way. He waved as we parted ways in frozen foods.

I meandered up the dog food aisle and found Charlie a new nylon collar for $1.19.

I got ground chuck, a pork tenderloin, several boxes of Uncle Ben's rice, frozen veggies, fresh produce and a dog collar for under twenty bucks.

As I was bagging my own groceries (just to help out) a worker there came up  to help and asked me where I got my shoes? I had on what Massey  calls my Tater shoes. I love them, bought them about sixteen years ago when we first  moved here. Ziggy had pulled the leather laces out and chewed them up but I bought more and are my favorite shoes, wide at the toe and the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned. We chatted a bit about my shoes then I loaded up my bags and left.

Here's the thing I've discovered (first hand) Poor people seem  to be  friendlier than people with money. How sad is that?

Yes I am one of the friendly ones, I'm not ashamed...I'm proud to be a survivor.

Came home with my treasures and cooked me some fish sticks. My momma used to work at a Day Nursery and every Friday had fish sticks, french fries and pork and beans, my fave meal of the week.

Blogged for a while, actually got the vacuum out and cleaned house for a bit. I waited for someone to knock on the door wanting to pin a gold medal on me but didn't happen so I just made some grilled cheese  sandwiches and threw in another load of laundry.

Being a momma has its perks and has its downfalls. They love me when I cook and seem to love me more when I don't and  beg me to make them anything.

Tonight Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches were almost as big a hit as the Turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

"You  can't always get  what you want, but if you try sometime you might get what you need."

Til next  time...COTTON

Now THAT was a "Thanks Given"

We spent Thanksgiving at my brother's new house in Orlando this year. He invited us all down for Thanksgiving, his treat. He just bought a big house on a beautiful lake and even has a twenty four foot Sea Ray. We were all excited!
Sometimes a lake house is a bit of a walk from the house,  not in this case.
We went down in shifts. My sister, my daughter and I left first on Tuesday around noon. We drove thirty minutes and stopped for lunch...you  gotta love driving with women.

We ate and gassed up the car and headed out for real. My  daughter posted on Facebook  we were leaving and immediately got two or three warnings about bad weather and to drive careful.

That turned out to be a HUGE understatement.

My sister started out driving as the rain began to fall, just a drizzle at first. After about an hour or so she asked if I would drive a while and I said sure.

My Cotton luck kicked  right in around Tifton, Georgia and rain began to pour in buckets. The wind was crazy, the people driving were crazy and then the lightning was crazy. Her defroster only semi worked but the windshield was still hard to see out of and I was a nervous wreck. I hated to be a sissy and tell her how much I despise driving in the rain, especially since she was the one who letting us bum a ride down with her. So I'm in the slow lane, forcing myself to go fifty when the first lightening bolt hit that seemed like it was twenty feet away. My nerves were shot and kept hoping to see an exit sign. We finally saw one and told them I had to stop for a minute. We pulled into  the first gas station and I pulled up next  to a pump even though we had a full tank. (The pumps had a roof over them)

We went inside and the young girl inside said  they were under a tornado warning. I asked where the rest room was, looking around the store when she said "Sorry, they're around the side of the building."

My  daughter and I made  a run for it staying as close as we could to the side of the building and opened the door to the nastiest rest room I think we have ever seen. It was so disgusting I was worried about even squatting but I did, since  that last lightning bolt  about made me pee in my pants.

We  went back around the side and entered the store again. I told Massey  to buy me a coke, handed her some money and tried to calm my nerves outside as I watched the rain blow sideways. My sister went to the restroom next and  came back to announce  she had seen  cleaner rest rooms in Cuba while on a mission trip.

Feeling braver I got back into the driver's seat and off we went again. I got on the highway and the guy behind me started honking. I looked down and saw I was going 40 MPH so I took a deep breath and kicked it up to 55.  Not ten minutes later while Cin was talking on her cell to her husband I heard a thump coming from the fast lane and saw a car hydroplaning then spinning in circles headed straight for the front of our car. It was close enough for me to touch it out the window. I slowed down so it wouldn't hit us and the driver over corrected and started spinning back the other way. The car hit the median and came to a stop against the inside wall facing oncoming traffic. Massey called 911 and I just kept going, praying someone didn't slam into the wrecked car facing traffic. By this point my nerves were completely shot, then it got even worse. The lightning was downright frightening every time it cracked and I saw something on the median wall up ahead. As we got closer we saw it was a huge boat sitting on top of the wall with it's trailer still in the lane of traffic and the car that had been pulling it a little further down. Needless to say I once again started praying for an exit sign. For some reason idiot drivers feel it necessary to put their hazard lights on which only confuse the cars behind them. We limped to the next exit and I was still shaking when we got out of the car. The windshield was so smudged up from us trying to wipe it clear you could barely see out of it so we went to a Dollar Store and bought some windex and paper towels. By the time we got the windshield clear the rain had slacked up but I still handed the keys back to my sister. Tag, you're it.

At least the rest of the drive was uneventful although we didn't pull into my brother's driveway until almost eleven. My brother asked us if we wanted a drink and told him I'd wanted one since Tifton, three hours back.

Chris had gone grocery shopping with a detailed shopping list my sister had sent him and the kitchen was stocked with everything we needed to cook the Thanksgiving dinner. He also had a full supply of anything you might think you may want to drink. Water bottles, Snapple, plenty of wine, red and white. All kinds of beer, scotch, vodka, tequila and all the mixers...things were looking up!

The next morning he worked a half a day and we went out for a couple of last minute items we'd forgotten about. We were driving back home when a flock of tiny white birds fluttered in the sky above the car. Just as we noticed them, a huge Bald Eagle swooped  into the flock of tiny birds. It was the most amazing, tremendous bird I've ever seen and was so close we could see it in detail. You certainly don't see a Bald Eagle every day!

Chris got home around noon and took us out on his boat. it's a beautiful boat and large enough for him to take out in the ocean. We backed out of the slip and I shouted out "Take off, Sonny Crockett!" and he did!

There was a cool little canal leading to the next lake over and we tooled through it. It was absolutely beautiful.
The like the great Uncle he is, said "Your turn to drive, Massey" even though she had never driven a boat in her life. She was put- zing along when Chris leaned over her shoulder and gunned the engine.
Cin and I stayed in the back and left Massey and Cap'n Chris up front.
It was a beautiful but windy day and we had to hang onto our hats but had a great time. By this time our next crew was on the way down, Tim and Cindy's son, Casey. Massey and Chris left to go pick up a Honey Baked Ham and brought us all back subs for dinner. Cindy and I got busy doing some chopping and preparations for Thursday. we got most all the casseroles put together and a lot of little things out of the way.

We played cards after dinner around the huge dining room table Chris bought since we were having Thanksgiving at his house. It seats ten easily.  It was nice just being with my brother and sister again. Massey got to see first hand how funny we all (think we) are when together, especially when it's cocktail time.

Tim and Casey rolled in around ten and the party started over again.

Thanksgiving morning Massey went to the airport to pick up Cin's husband who flew down and the party grew even larger. The boys played golf and Cin and I got busy cooking. Let's just say we outdid ourselves.
Menu: Turkey and dressing with Giblet gravy
Honey Baked Ham
Green beans with new potatoes
Collard Greens
Sweet potato casserole
Potato salad
Squash casserole
Hash brown casserole
Green bean casserole
Deviled eggs
Heavenly hash
Sweet potato biscuits

Chris' next door neighbor and his girlfriend joined us for dinner and the feast started. Everything turned out great and we totally stuffed ourselves. A bunch went out on the boat after dinner and we got everything put up into the fridge.

We played cards after dinner and some watched football. Cin taught us a new card game, Nertz. You have to get the hang of it first but turned out to be a pretty fun game. Once again the beer, wine and cocktails flowed freely. Some more friends of my brother's were dropping by later on and my other nephew (Griffin) and his girlfriend were flying down around seven to join us. Griffin's girlfriend is a cutie pie,  Hawaiian and they make a really cute couple.

Around eight or so we had probably six or seven of us around the huge table playing cards and the football games were blaring out in surround sound on the huge flat screen in the living room and were partying up a storm when the kitchen door opened and Griffin's girlfriend appeared to appear in the door way while my sister and I shouted "How'd you get here, Jamie?" (We were supposed to send either Massey or Harvey to pick them up) When Griffin didn't walk in behind her but some dude we had never seen did, finally realized it wasn't Jamie but another one of Chris' friends dropping by with her boyfriend. The girl was very pretty and just happened to be from Laos. When you're partying it up, playing an intense card game and the room is loud, Hawaii and Laos are (so it seems) easily confused. The girl looked at Cindy and me like we were idiots but soon enough we were all laughing again. The leftovers came out of the fridge and we started over.

Jamie and Griffin DID arrive after Harvey went and picked them up and party number three started. More food was eaten and Chris shot off massive fireworks from the dock. It was an awesome Thanksgiving.

The next day we all went out on the boat again. Casey got to drive this time and we stayed out for quite a while. When Chris asked Griffin if he wanted to drive the only thing Griffin asked when he took the wheel was "How do you make it go fast?"  We survived, came home and ate more leftovers. We had enough food to feed a small army.

That night after watching football games we decided to play games. We started with Charades, boys against girls and all laughed ourselves silly. Then my sister and I wanted to play Kangaroo; it's a game my parents used to play at church socials. The only ones who knew how it worked were Chris, Cindy and me.

Short version: everyone continues what they are doing, playing cards or watching TV. I say to my sister, "I'm clearing the air and sending you a message." Nobody much pays attention but the thing is who ever talks next is the unknown Kangaroo. After a couple more minutes go by I ask Cindy if she received my message? If she is sure she knows who the first person to speak was after I cleared the air she says she has the message, if she's not certain (maybe two people spoke at once) she says she hasn't received it and I clear the air again. (Let's just say it was Griffin who spoke first when I cleared the air) A couple more minutes go by and I ask her if she got my message? Once she has the message, we send her out of the room. I begin pointing at different people in the room and say "Kangaroo" and from outside the room she repeats back "Kangaroo." Finally I point to Griffin  and say to her outside of the room "Kangaroo, who am I pointing to?" and she says "Griffin."  I wish you could have seen their faces...they thought we were magicians! A couple of them tried it, always failing then Cindy and I would do it again, this time with her clearing the air. By the third time we did it they were all guessing different ways they thought we were doing it.  Finally Griffin's girlfriend caught on and we had another few rounds including her. It's a great party game.

By Saturday we had just about eaten and drank Chris out of house and home but he was a terrific host the entire time. The boys played golf again and us girls had a movie day.

Sunday morning Chris had to work (we thought he was probably just sitting around the corner in his car waiting to see us finally leave) and we cleaned up our mess, put all the sheets and towels on to wash and bagged up the mounds of trash bags we had filled in the garage and headed home.

Tim, Massey and I were in the lead car with Cin, her two boys and Jamie behind us in another car.(Harvey flew back home early)

Chris, always the nice guy had bought us each a Sun Pass for the cars so we didn't have to pay any tolls and sailed through quite a few long lines of people heading home waiting in line to pay the tolls. It easily saved us over thirty minutes.

We were sailing along in Gainesville, Florida. Tim was driving. We were in the passing/fast lane when we heard a loud "BAM" and Tim yelled "Was that us?" We were still rolling along but we saw a tire tread behind us. About then Massey said she smelled the burning rubber so we pulled off into the tiny emergency lane by the center median. Casey stopped behind us in their car. The entire tread had blown off. Cars were whizzing by going eighty and were literally about four feet from the car. It was the passenger side back tire.

Cindy backed her car up about thirty feet or so and put her flashers on. The boys started getting the spare out and cars kept right on whizzing by, making my sister and me nervous wrecks. I made Massey get out of the car and stand far into the grassy median. Cindy and I walked well down past her car behind the car with the flat. She stopped there and I continued down about another twenty feet. As the cars approached I waved my hands frantically down in an effort to tell cars to slow down. Cindy was motioning for cars to move over a lane to give us more room to change the tire. For the most part people were fantastic and although we caused a small traffic backup with our antics at least it slowed most all the cars down.

Of course there is one in every crowd. As Griffin was wrestling with the tire iron with his back no more than three feet away from passing cars, one idiot blew his horn as he passed going at least seventy. You can't fix stupid.

We got the little donut spare on and then had to  manage to pull two cars out of the center median back into the fast lane of traffic, no easy feat with every one and their brother returning home from Thanksgiving holidays.

We finally got back into the lane and maneuvered all the way over to the slow lane. I was just happy no one had gotten hurt or killed. Then we had to find a tire place open on a Sunday afternoon, Thanksgiving weekend.

Three hours later we were finally back on the road after having to put almost two hundred bucks on my sister's credit card. Tim and I are going to help pay her back but you can't drive one of these donut tires on the interstate, especially for two hundred miles so it was the only option we had.

So the trip down was horrible and the trip back was scary but the in between was marvelous! I guess that's what they mean about taking the good with the bad. We didn't get Massey back to her dorm until almost ten and got home around eleven.  We had been shooting for seven.

So all in all it was a "Thanks Given" to remember. I give Thanks I didn't get anyone killed while freaking out in the torrential thunderstorm on the way down and I give Thanks no one got killed changing the tire by a packed out holiday weekend interstate fast lane. I give Thanks I have such a wonderful brother who was an ultimate host to our crazy band of misfits. I give Thanks for days of fun and laughter with the ones I love. I give Thanks to the two who had to stay home for work and couldn't go with us but took care of all our pups, eight in all.

Most of all I give Thanks that all these people love me, it's a wonderful feeling to be loved and as the song says, 

Love, love, love.

There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game.
It's easy.

Nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time.
It's easy.

All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

Nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
It's easy.

All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

All you need is love (all together, now!)
All you need is love. (everybody!)
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need (love is all you need).

This is all that's left of the Leach clan but we're all still as close as we were on this old station wagon. There are so many families who don't get along or even speak to each other much less love each other.

I give Thanks I'm one of the lucky ones.
Til Next time, a VERY grateful COTTON