Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Where Do I Start?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Thanks to mother nature and storms all up the east coast, flights were cancelled right and left and this girl got off three hours early. Huge bonus, got paid today so didn't mind leaving one bit.

I worked a ten hour shift yesterday and came home last night to find every carpet in our house clean and smelling dog free thanks to Zach, Massey and the Lost Boys. Zach rented a machine and cleaned carpets for over five hours with help from his cohorts.

Having your kids do something unexpected is a blessing and a curse.

I opened the kitchen door and ran straight into the table from the dining room sitting in the middle of my tiny kitchen surrounded by lots of other furniture moved in there so all the carpets could be cleaned.

I wedged my way into the kitchen with my three bags of groceries to cook dinner and put them all away. You couldn't even walk in the kitchen much less cook.

I went upstairs to my clean smelling living room to find it also in shambles. All the furniture was pushed to one side, electronics unhooked and moved and things stacked everywhere.

Like I said, it's a blessing and a curse.

Zach was exhausted on the couch in the living room and felt bad when I mentioned the house was a wreck. It was a clean smelling wreck, but it was still a wreck. I had to get him to reconnect the cable, stereo and computer but put everything else back myself.

Dinner was ready a little after ten o'clock. By that time no one was home but me but knew it would all be eaten the next day. I put everything in Tupperware, made myself a plate and went to bed.

Today was even better. One of the Lost Boys and Massey went to a discount store here in town and got enough laminate to do two rooms in my house for a hundred bucks.  Installation free via Lost Boys who love their pseudo momma.

These three boys may act like idiots and often seem to be just that, but have (almost) helped me more often than I have them.

I have a "love/hate but  final say relationship" with all of them and think is the reason they all respect and love me...and respect them for respecting me!

These past few years have yet once again proven Dr. Seuss to be a pretty stinking smart man.

Six months ago we were still sweating twenty four seven, week after week after week.

I woke up early this morning after going to bed reasonably early last night. Somehow it feels better to wake up feeling energetic and still semi broke than to wake up late scrambling around feeling panicked and even more of a loser because  your slack self hit snooze twice on the alarm and skipped a shower because you stayed up late to blog or watch a movie.

I usually always help my sister cook but this year had NO time off and am fortunate enough to be able to pay her off with cash and be lucky enough to simply sit down and enjoy a fabulous meal.

I'll never forget how much my brother and sister have helped us and only makes me love them more for loving me.

Unless I hit the lottery will never be able to totally repay them which makes me love them even more for still loving me.

My mind has been boggled with problems for so long sometimes forget to remember who "brung me to the dance."

It was life.

Thanks to literally dozens of peeps besides my own sibs are surviving and thriving.

I love Thanksgiving.

You meet and eat. No presents no fanfare no holiday songs...just peeps feeling grateful and getting a belly full.

Sometimes I feel down but then look around at others so less fortunate.

We are so blessed I should feel ashamed.

Instead feel gratitude bursting, am charging forward and determined to pay it even further.

You all got it coming and thank you so much for sending it our way first!

Eat some turkey, hug a relative or friend and relax. We can all live without the other frills, seasons and holidays but you can't live without eating.

That's a pretty big bite to chew on...

Til next time...COTTON

Sunday, November 23, 2014

You Gotta Be Humble... I Think

Boy, did this Mormon get it right.

I'm not sure what religion Dr. Seuss followed but he pretty much hit the nail on the head too.

I've gotten spoiled with this new job.

I used to think sixty bucks was okay for a lunch shift.

Now I think two hundred is, and often make around that.

Here's the things I love most about being a "Lifer / Server."

Number one ,  means you're a gambler. (makes me sound feisty)
Number two,  teaches you humility. (makes me sound wise)

If  had to describe myself would probably use gambler, feisty and humble.

I strive daily to be wise and hopefully get there before they shut the gates and call it a "Sell Out".

Had a few set backs this week, not good.

I've learned to stew for an hour or so then pout for another couple of hours.

Then I think back on how far we have come and how far we can go now.

I think about how lucky I am for two siblings who always have my back.

I think about how blessed I am with three great kids and three loving pups.

I think about how lucky I am my husband still loves me. (I'ts been a tough five years)

The thing is, after a nice self pity pout you need to "Think."

You need to think about the whole picture, and by that mean the universal picture.

I think about people who would happily trade places with me and feel thrilled at their good fortune.

A few short years ago I was writing bad checks to keep our power on because the NSF fee was cheaper than the reconnect fee.

I think about people who wish they even had a bank account.

I think about how lucky my kids are to have parents who are still together.

I think about kids forced to grow up feeling lucky to simply survive another day in squalor and can only dream about having the childhood my three enjoyed.

Sometimes you have to think.

Here's what I think after much careful consideration.

I think I am a very lucky person who simply hit a speed bump in life and wasn't going slow enough.

I think I needed to stop and look around me instead of  at me.

So it's been tough. Big whoop.

Here's my new way of thinking.

In the grand scheme of life on this planet at almost fifty five years of age...all I suffered was a scrap on my knobby knee.

"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"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The List

My daughter, the other female in our house abandoned me for college last year and have been the only female in a house of nothing but constantly coming and going men (no pun was intended but guess there is).
I live with my husband, youngest son, three male dogs and three Lost Boys constantly visiting, especially when I'm cooking. I don't really mind them, at least I know where they all are and can be a momma to them.
More than once one of them has had to stay with us for a short while. I make them pick up after themselves and make the bed they slept in but they actually do a LOT more for me.
The first one stored a dryer in our garage when he came for a stay but left the dryer when he moved out.
My dryer broke three weeks later and dragged his into the laundry room and shoved my broke one out to the garage in it's place. That was well over a year ago and we're still using it.
He came by here about three months ago and was complaining he didn't have any gas money until payday and was on empty. I told him I'd buy the dryer for thirty bucks and snapped the offer up.
I still kinda feel bad about that one, but he still eats here every time I cook and is the loudest Latino I've ever met (or heard). He has a heart of gold though and is an extremely hard worker. When he stayed with us for a month, cleaned and  scrubbed my laundry room floor. I didn't even know you were supposed to.
Another Lost Boy stayed with us for a few days and I got my garage painted,  broken ceiling fan fixed and garage door opener running again after four years not to mention a new battery installed in our new/used Ranger.
They're handy Lost Boys!
Zach's very good about kitchen duty but terrible about starting and leaving clothes in the washer. Guess he's halfway there.
Tim works a manual labor job now, getting up at five leaving by six and getting home sometimes after ten at night.
We'll give him half a pass.
I try not to ask too much from him but know I suggest a lot.
He's about half way there too. 
The other night I was cleaning house and started making notes....
They aren't too bad about leaving toilet seats up but for Pete's sake when you blow one out the back door and see part of the explosion on the back rim of the toilet bowl when you go to flush, help a sista who cooks for you out. Take a piece of paper off the roll and wipe it off then because when I find it the next day  is as hard as one of the dog's turds in the yard on a hot summer day and have to chisel it off. (not fun)
Speaking of the pups...
When you are nice enough to feed them for me, do me a favor and put the bowls back in the garage inside of the huge tub (ten feet away) I bought and labeled after they eat. Three big dogs, three big bowls. I detest seeing them all over the kitchen floor or out on the back porch. Ham is blind as a bat and knocks into them and there's no reason for them to be out after you've fed them. (we feed ours once a day)

Give them fresh water every time you feed them. EVERY time. I know they lick their nuts and can be disgusting but even they probably prefer fresh cold water to drink after running, playing, eating or quite possibly licking the boys.

I remember my sister telling me about a friend of hers who told her daughter to give the dog fresh water before sitting down for dinner one night. The daughter looked and replied the water was just fine. When the daughter sat down in front of her dinner plate a few minutes later her mom had placed a glass of what looked like sewer water  bedside her plate. She asked her mother what that was? Her mother picked up her own fork and started to eat saying, "It's just some of the dog's water. You said it was fine."
I was actually stopping while cleaning to makes notes in my notebook for this blog...this is important stuff to a woman, especially a working woman who happens to be a pretty decent cook and pretty handy on the Johnny Dear. Men don't seem to sweat the same things women do. A filthy bathroom disgusts me. They just work around it.
While we're on bathroom etiquette, when you use the last of a roll, reach under the cabinet directly in front of where you sit and get another roll not only out but put it on after throwing the empty one into the trash can directly beside you.
Then I moved on to cleaning the kitchen.
Here's another clue!
If you cover every thing you cook in the nuclear wave with the roll of wax paper I always have in the drawer five feet away, the microwave will stay looking and smelling clean.
When the trash can is full, don't strategically pile more crap on top and let  sides of the bag fall into the can. That's borderline lazy as hell.

Take it out, and not to the garage but out to the huge can we pay to have picked up once a week. I've counted, it's fifteen steps from the kitchen door.
By the time I finished cleaning the kitchen, quit making notes. The note making was taking up more time than the actual cleaning.

Case in point:

If you open a can of Coke or bottle of water, drink it. All of it.

If there are only two ounces of tea left in the pitcher when you go to put it back in the refrigerator, put it in the sink and rinse it out instead. Chances are that's the fastest way to have me make another gallon.


They call them "traps" in a sink because is where all the food gets trapped for you to clean out with a napkin from the table one foot behind you. Don't leave it there to gross me out the next day.

I actually saved all the notes I made and may make copies for them all to read and sign upon entering the Cotton compound. (after taking off their work shoes in the garage...away from the door not right in the way of it)

My Lost Boys can be irritating but all help me out whenever I ask and still remind me of the goofy boys I met when Zach was in school with them.

You know, this quote is spot on.

 My house isn't a home; WE are. We make this a home.

It's me and it's my husband. It's my three kids and all the people they bring into our lives. It's my relatives. It's my dogs. It's my cooking.

It's reciprocal. Love is all you need. All you need is love.

Those Beatles were pretty smart.

It's been over a half decade constant battle but wouldn't change one day of it.

Every day has been a lesson but every day has been a blessing. Sometimes you just have to look for it.

I may be smaller now but am stronger. I may be older but am wiser. I used to think I was loved. Now I know.

Life is good. It's not easy yet but will be.

I remember what month of what year it all began to unravel. It felt like a nightmare at the time but now know was simply a long curve in the road. Thank goodness gas was cheap back then and didn't run out.

Seems I survived and somebody forget to give me my tee shirt.

That's okay, I'm loved. Beats a tee shirt by a mile.

Til next time...COTTON

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Coin Has Two Sides

For the past couple of weeks I've gone back to working six days. Finally getting my car, buying the tag for it ($474) paying a house note and other bills piling up zapped me of all my current funds. It's the slow season at the airport and although is starting to pick up never turn down an opportunity for more money. Last week I worked for another server, this week I worked for one of the food runners.

Number one, how on earth did I manage to work so many days in a row before ? Number two, I'm glad I somehow did.

When I told the food runner I would work for her, she looked at me like I was crazy(er). Needless to say I guess she doesn't get that offer often from servers.

We easily make over four times what they do but to me, money is money. I could take my second day off and be flat broke or pick up the shift and have maybe a hundred in tip out money and over fifty more bucks on my paycheck from the pay rate for runners.

I chose the money. Not to brag but am a pretty decent food runner, even when working as a server. If I hear one of the chefs call for a food runner I always go to the expo window to run food. Even if you're busy, what's sixty seconds to help out the entire team? Your own table's food may be backed up behind the food they are trying to expedite.

When the restaurant closed I started to leave and just get my tip out the next day. A fellow server told me to wait and collect. She said they would leave me more if they had to hand it to me their self. (Thanks Lucy, my "Phat"est tipper outer)

They were all kind to me. Of course they should have.  Not only did I run their food but as a server could greet tables for them, take or put in orders if they needed, open wine if they needed and knew how to get everything the customer needed. It was fun and stress free for me. I even learned some new things about a few different dishes from the chefs. All I had to do was drop and describe each dish, ask if they needed anything, get it if they did, smile, tell them to enjoy and walk away.

Here's my thing. This is a great place, best job I've ever had. I don't mind sharing the wealth. The server assistant was standing next to me waiting for her tip out as well and said to me "See what I put up with every night?" I kinda felt like a beggar too, especially also being a trained brain surgeon/server myself.

I told her as matter of fact I did and she needed to read the blog I did about it a while back.

Yes the SA is a young kid and making good money for her age and efforts but us servers and bartenders are pretty much banking big and a large part of that has to do with SA's busing and resetting tables while the runners make sure their food gets to the table when they can't.


Help the ones who are helping you.

I don't think it's intentional but to me kinda seems like a snub to SA's and food runners. I know it's the slow season and money's tight, but soon it won't be. Meanwhile they are still busing, resetting and running food to your tables every night. Do you not think they see what it says on the checks and charge slips?

Trust me, they notice.

Share the wealth. I know there are always extenuating circumstances, but for Pete's sake help a brother out!

As broke as I was when I first started there have never snubbed on a tip out. It's like making them take a cut in pay but still expect them to do the same job for less money.

I remember my first really great customer. It was the late seventies and was working at the Scotch House near the airport.

The first day they gave me a table chart to learn the table numbers. There was one small two top table on the chart but instead of a number had "Ray" written in the square.

I soon found out what that meant. It was for Ray Coleman, who sat there several days or nights a week reading and sipping Johnny Walker Black. He was an air traffic controller who rode a ten speed bike about half a mile to and from his job each day and wherever else right around the airport he wanted to go. He was probably around forty, single, extremely intelligent, very quiet and an outrageously great tipper. I got to know him and would sometimes sit with him after work talking. I remember shortly after starting there around this time of year bought a boxer pup. For Christmas Ray gave me a small envelope with three hundred dollar bills in it.  No card, just written on the outside in his tiny scrawl said "For pup food".

Back in the late seventies $300 was a whole lotta cash.

He was just a guy who lived alone, had no relatives even remotely close by, made great money (ATC used to bank big back then) smoked like a house fire and drank like Otis Campbell when he was off.

He simply wanted to sit in peace, talk when he wanted to and be left alone when he didn't. He knew about pretty much anything you could think of and was a fascinating person to know.

I saw him on the curb one day going from work. Some car had run him off the rode and had a flat. We tossed the bike in the back of my little Nissan truck and drove him the quarter mile down the road to his apartment.

This was after knowing him for several years and by this time had started my fourteen year career with Johnny's Pizza, also in the same area.

We pulled in front of his place, his knees were both bleeding terribly and told him to go inside to take care of them and I would bring his bike. His place was just as fascinating. Every counter and shelf was filled with books, even cabinets meant for groceries or dishes. The dude was a reader.

He also came into Johnny's to take a veggie sub home several times a week. The sub costs around three bucks with tax and would always pay with three twenty's. The change was yours.

I met Tim at Johnny's a few years later and after dating a while Ray offered to take us both to dinner at Steak & Ale up the street.

We had a great time and was always a pleasure talking to Ray. I still have two books he gave me. One is on mythology and the other on nursing. He always thought I'd make a good nurse.

I thought about Ray last night. It's starting to get colder out and have been wearing my vintage Harley biker jacket to work. It's my favorite jacket of all time, I've had it for thirty four years. I bought it for twenty bucks when working at Johnny's in the early eighties from a guy who bought it for his recently discovered cheating girl friend, broke up with her and took the jacket back. It fits me like a glove and soft as a baby's butt. It looked awesome back then and only improved with age. The parking decks and MARTA station are getting so windy decided to get a scarf out to wear as well.

I went in my recently cleaned closet and found a scarf Ray had given me another Christmas. It's a beautiful 100% silk  and 100% wool lined scarf made in Italy.

Thirty odd years later still looks great.

When Tim and I got married, Ray gave us both matching 100% silk gold and burgundy kimonos from Japan. I still have mine. Maybe I am  a hoarder?

Ray died a couple of years later. His liver probably exploded when hacking after that one last cigarette but hey, it was his life. He lived it the way that made him happy.

I went to his funeral. There were servers from all up and down Virginia Avenue there. (Virginia Avenue is the road all these places were located)

There were probably about twenty different servers there. There was one relative of his there... a sister from somewhere up north.

I think that's when I changed from thinking I had a job to thinking had found MY career.

There are people who go out and simply want to feel a connection. They want to feel like they are at home with you and you are happy they chose your house to visit.

They want to experience joy.

This is going to sound hokey to those who have never been a server but feel like I have come full circle with this new job.

Being an ole timer, a granny and old school "Waitress" was blown away by this new company's Vision Statement. After thirty five years of "Just waiting Tables" somebody finally got it.

And I quote.

"To passionately move people and provide the opportunity to experience joy."

really like

"We must practice honesty and sincerity; by doing so, we honor the diversity in people and are respectful of others in our interactions."

I think the one that sealed the deal, made me realize I had found my new home was

"We must be philanthropic by sharing our time, knowledge, experience and, when necessary, our money. By taking ownership and being self accountable, we will perpetuate goodwill with the  people with whom we interact and the communities in which we operate."

You dang Skippy!!

Call me an idiot, you won't be the first or last but these kind of statements mean a lot to me. They speak to me. They validate my chosen profession, no... career choice.

Maybe it's not brain surgery. Maybe it's not for you. That's fine too. Different strokes for different folks.

Variety is the spice of life. It takes all colors to make a rainbow. I feel like my job has every spice and every color. It's just my cup of tea.

But that's just me.

If you want to be happy in life, find your cup of tea and enjoy it.

Til next time....A waitress and proud of it.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

So Glad I Took The Leap

Sometimes a leap of faith was my only means of transportation this past year...literally!

I was a nervous wreck about taking a new job this past May but everything has worked out. I can't believe it but am actually pretty dang good at it and is everything I was told it would be.

I struggled with transportation issues constantly but with a little (lot of) help from my friends and family managed to get back and forth for four months without a vehicle.

I've discovered I really like working at the airport. It's a city within itself and an environment different from any in which I've ever worked.

Every single day is different. Every single day the thousands of people traveling through are different.

In the almost six months I've worked there have quickly come to realize I wouldn't work anywhere but the international terminal and certainly not for any other restaurant than where I landed. (small airport pun)

Where I work is an upscale European cuisine restaurant and reeks of professionalism and ultimate customer service. The executive chef came from The Ritz Carlton and does a bang up job creating the unique dishes we serve.

I really like the management and think (hope) they all are pretty pleased with far anyway.

It's kind of cool seeing all the celebrities up close and personal. Trust me, our restaurant is top dog in the airport. You won't find anything close to it and is where the flying elite eat.

Who would ever think I would be close enough to Ryan Phillipe to tell if he had even a tiny booger in his nose ?

I certainly never thought I would spend an hour talking with with the president of the Atlanta Braves and his wife before they left for Paris.

The younger celebrities have to be pointed out to this ole chica by all the much younger co workers .

I mean, I did know who Andre' 3000 of Outkast was but would have passed him on the street without a second glance.

Shaq was a little harder to miss.

Besides just our restaurant, they are everywhere. We see them on the plane train, we see them going through security or even see them in the rest room.

It's crazy.

Besides celebrity sightings, see something or someone different, strange or completely nuts every time you are there.

The entourage of stylists for Paul Mitchell today looked like a page out of a Cat in the Hat book. They were there eating when I clocked in today.

I see plenty of other crazy things from the time I pull into the MARTA lot til the time I clock out and make the trek back.

I waited on two men tonight. One asked "What's a hungry Scotsman to order and eat?"

He was good looking before he opened his mouth to speak but once you heard the accent got even better looking.

He said he worked in New York now after I asked him how he voted for Scotland's independence.

He asked me why people were so friendly in the Atlanta airport?

I said "Southern hospitality. Welcome to the south!" I wanted to say "Dude, have you looked in a mirror lately? You're gorgeous."

Like the creeper I am, came home and put his name into the Google Images search bar.


Co founder of Smarter Grid Solutions. He attends all kind of seminars and serves on panels across the globe.

I've always enjoyed waiting tables and think I look pretty good in the uniform, don't you?

Number one I just like talking. Number two I like to be busy and moving when I work. Number three I like getting to know peeps and learning their stories.

Case in point:

My last table tonight was a couple with pretty heavy accents. I asked where they were going and found out were returning home to Amsterdam after vacationing in Orlando to  play golf.

They were a really nice couple about ten years older than me. During the course of serving them dinner told them my brother lived in Orlando and played golf several if not more times a week. The woman remarked "He must be quite the golfer!"

I told her he was actually a really good golfer, unmarried with a great job and told her last time we all went to visit him noticed he had about seven different sets of clubs in his garage.

She said "I wonder what his favorite course might be?" You know me, I was really connecting with these people, makes me feel good and is a great tool to use as a server!

(Engaging the customer...)

I told her I had my phone, would send him a text and ask while she finished her glass of wine!

(Going the extra mile for a customer...)

I sent Chris a text from the back "What's your fave golf course in Orlando?"

I thought he might be in bed early, read my text and think I was an idiot and go to sleep without responding. (I'm not a golfer and he knows I couldn't care less about it)

I shot off another quick text "Waiting on some peeps from Amsterdam who want to know?"

I stuck my phone in my apron pocket and went back out front. I printed the couple their check and took it to the table. My phone buzzed in my apron and happily told the woman I thought my brother just text back. "Hang on and I'll read it to you!"

I handed the husband the check and leaned down next to his wife, who was thrilled he had responded so quickly.

I took out my phone and opened the text message. I started reading it to her:

"Either Waldorf Astoria or Mystic Dunes."

The woman enthusiastically said "We  played Mystic Dunes twice!! We've heard about Waldorf but's a bit pricey."

I continued to wow them with, he also says "If they're willing to drive about 40 minutes north Bella Collina is Muy excellente."

The woman got a pen and piece of paper out of her purse to write the name of the course down. Dang I guess they really are golf fanatics! The husband nodded and said they would try that course next time!

Do I know how to connect with people or what?

I was on  a roll and thanks to my sweet brother these peeps were having a "grand ole time" having dinner with me.

I looked back down at the text after the woman had the course name written down and said to her that he also said "Tell em the courses here don't allow wooden golf shoes."

It was out of my mouth so quickly, took me a second to realize what I had just said to these people.

At first I thought it was some kind of new golf shoe with an illegal spike on the bottom you couldn't wear on this particular course when it hit me like a ton of my second text had said I was waiting on peeps from Amsterdam.

(Opening mouth inserting foot...)

Thank the Good Lord above the man chuckled as he was filling out the credit card slip and the wife outright laughed. She said "Seems your brother's also quite the jokester!"

(Noting to self: ALWAYS finish reading a text before relaying the message...)

Once I realized what I had just read to them quickly apologized and said I probably shouldn't have read that last part out loud, but by then couldn't stop giggling to save my life. My eyes started to water and my nose started to run. I simply couldn't hold it in.

If you think  I'm funny, you should meet my brother. His wit's even sharper than his golf swing.

I got extremely lucky this happened with two really nice people. They left me an extra five on top of the eighteen percent and can almost guarantee you they will be telling fellow Amsterdam peeps about their visit with me when getting back home.

You know what they (or I) say.

Find something you're good at, enjoy doing and won't even seem like work!

I enjoy waiting tables, I enjoy being a momma and more than that enjoy writing about them both.

Til next time...COTTON

Monday, November 3, 2014

Yep, Another Day

Well, it's been another day for sure. Even if it was bad at least was  another one. That's considered progress isn't it?

Left for work well before the sun came up. I was smart enough to buy some gas yesterday before winter blew in full force overnight. It was even colder this morning pre dawn.

Got on the interstate for my twenty something mile journey to work and looked down to see the check engine light on. I looked at the thermostat gauge and was all the way on cold. Kinda odd but better than saying the car was over heating.


Got off at the next exit to check the water and oil. I've only driven the car to and from work twice and figured if it came straight from the shop  was no need to check the fluids.

The minute the light came on I panicked. I knew to pull over and check the car's vital signs before we sent yet another vehicle to the morgue with no means of resuscitation.

The sun was coming up but was overcast and dark. I sat in the driver's seat at the gas station for five minutes looking for the hood latch, button, handle or control switch.

I did learn how to operate the sun roof so can scratch that one off my list.

I got out in the freezing "Hurricanic" (yes that was a word this morning) wind to see if maybe could open the hood manually.

No go.

Next step, I sniffed the hood for burning smells and looked for smoke coming out of the engine. I got back in and sat for another five minutes trying to find the obviously secret handle to the hood. Still no smoke or steam so I got back on the highway and stayed in what I now call "The Cotton Lane."

The slow lane.

It's much easier to limp off the road when your car craps out when already riding in the slow lane.

Been there done that.

The car ran fine the rest of the way. Just freaked out once when the car started decelerating but finally realized was concentrating on looking at all the control panel lights, levels and warning signals so much I had stopped pushing the accelerator as hard.


When I got home from work (with no more lights or warnings) stopped by Auto Zone and got them to read the code.

It's also hard to start sometimes. The mechanic had said it took once or twice to start but sometimes takes me about eight minutes to get cranked. It also has a really strong odor of gasoline in the car. It smells like I have a ten gallon can of gas in the back seat. One of the blinkers only works when it wants to but besides that seems to run great.

It came back with three different codes, one for cylinder misfire (hard to start issue I suppose) temperature below operating range and faulty thermostat. (the thermostat will go half way up then fall completely down)

Other than that, it seems to be a great car. It took almost two years to get it but at least I'm driving my own car and everything else seems to, CD player, cassette player, heater, defroster, wipers (which need replacing but no biggie) sunroof and all windows.

When I went to get the tag for it the day we picked it up thought it would be around seventy five dollars. It ended up being $474.40. I still owed the guy $690 for labor so only had $300 to give him and told him I would get the rest to him as soon as I could, probably next week, maybe sooner if the tipping gods smiled on me.

I'm going to take it back this Thursday on my day off to show him the codes from Auto Zone, get the blinker and thermostat fixed and find out whatever causes the strong gas odor. I have to drive with the window cracked or almost makes me nauseous.

The dude at Auto Zone said he didn't think it would hurt to drive it but keep a check on the water and oil since the thermostat wasn't working.

I gave TJ a ride home from work the next day and he found the hood latch for me. I stopped after dropping him off to check under the hood.

The hood opened just fine but wouldn't stay up and didn't have a prop. I had to hold the hood up with one hand and pour my water bottle into the radiator with the other...not very easy to do since my bottle only held sixteen ounces. It didn't need much water and the oil was fine.

I now have an aluminum bat aka hood prop in the back of the car for engine checks.

I know the mechanic's not thrilled I didn't have the entire $690 for him but for all the money we've sunk into the car I want everything fixed, and should be.

So the car has some issues...  just hope they are all little fixes and don't add more money to the tab. Other than that I'm pretty satisfied with it. The body is in mint condition and tires aren't terrible. There are a couple of tears in both front seats but saw some pretty nice seat covers at Wally World for $22 and might get a couple when I have the extra funds.

I also thought about using the Cotton method...Duct Tape. They make so many different colors now I can probably find some to match the seats and just cover the rips.

I hate still owing the guy for labor but he still has some to do.

Work has been slow but has really picked up this week and think my paycheck next week should be enough to get me back on track.

I sent Verizon a text today telling them the "Check's in the mail" which isn't but by the time my seven day grace period goes by will have it for them.

The company who runs the concessions on our concourse decided they want us to highlight the 18% service charge when we take the check. For Pete's sake it's listed three different times on the check...can they not read?

Okay, maybe some of the foreigners can't read english very well and  can understand that. I'm not trying to cheat anyone but it is a pretty upscale restaurant and there's always The Varsity across the food court from us.

Here's the thing. If you are on your game, engage the customer and go above and beyond their expectations, nine times out of ten will be well compensated for your efforts.

Case in point. Tonight was a mediocre night and made $206.00. People frequently flying international want a nice place to wine, dine and relax  We are just that. They also want good service and if you give them all three  are generally pretty grateful to have such an awesome place to spend a little time before boarding a sometimes fourteen hour flight.

Highlighting the gratuity doesn't bother me one bit. I have confidence in my skills as a server and feel like I am getting better at it every day.

It's been a big transition for me going from street side serving to airport side but am actually really enjoying it. The money doesn't hurt either.

I had a grumpy old man with his embarrassed (at him) wife at my table yesterday. I turned their entire day around with my PHD in BS and heard them tell my manager when leaving that I was absolutely on point, a great server and would most definitely be back.

That's what I'm talking about!

I like having a job where essentially am in control of my destiny.

So it took me over five months to find my groove but "Stella's Got Her Groove Back!"

I work an opening day shift on Tuesdays and don't really dig it. The one road to the interstate is backed up for over a mile at seven in the morning with downtown Atlanta commuters. After battling that, the MARTA station parking lot is packed at that time of day and finding a spot to park is like finding a needle in a haystack.


Tonight I found a server who wants to switch with me on Tuesdays. He'll go in at eight thirty and I will go in at three thirty for the PM shift.


So I get to sleep in, get errands run and don't have to battle traffic. I also don't have to work with the one weird server who for some unknown reason detests me and goes the entire ten hour shift without speaking one word to me. If she does speak to me, it's always about something she feels I've done wrong. Bump Her!!

If somebody wakes me up from this dream. I'll strangle 'em.

Not that I'm counting but six years two months ago the bottom fell out of our comfortable life.

I look at it this way.

I am almost fifty five years old. The last six  are a pretty small percentage of that and although didn't feel that way then are behind me now.

These last six years have been the best lesson  a person (or person's kids) could learn and wouldn't change them if I could.

Life is not to be taken for granted but learned and earned.

Then you truly know.

What goes around does come around.

I think what's missing most in people is the ability to understand you'll never understand it all but will learn from everything.

Til next time...COTTON

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ready or Not

I guess the cat is officially out of the bag now... it's on Facebook.

TJ told us he found the girl he wants to marry a few months back. He's been living with her for a while now and happily stepped right into parenting with both feet, eyes and heart wide open. She has a daughter four years old and not quite sure who he is more crazy about.

I think staying here with us after he returned from Australia in the only bedroom open, which happened to be where we kept the crate we used to put Ziggy in when he was even more horrible than he is now took up a quarter of the small bedroom and wasn't the best smelling room in the house by a long shot helped a little. It would have me want to go live under a bridge by the freeway. After TJ quit coming home at all for over a month  cleaned the room, took the crate apart and out to the garage while wearing a Haz Mat suit. 

Tim told me TJ was serious about the girl we'd met only once but soon learned to know and love. Her daughter is smart and cute as a button and TJ was surprisingly good with her. I could tell it was serious the first time they came over for dinner.

Their plan was for her to finish school in May , TJ go back and finish his degree and marry in 2017.

I thought it was an excellent plan.

I really love Chelsea and her daughter Zeli, both are smart and precious girls. They make a nice family. The boy done good.

Found out a few weeks ago plans have changed. The cat is not only out of the bag, there's a bun in the oven.

Seems TJ, who I still think of as my oldest boy is going to be a father.  I have no worries about him being a good father, he's already proved that to me with Zeli. I have no worries he'll be a good husband, he's chosen a terrific woman. She's smart, extremely pretty, a fabulous mother, comes from a good family and seems to be crazy about our boy/man. Five excellent attributes to have in a life partner.

By the end of May TJ will be the head of a household of four.

The thing is, I'm not ready to be a granny. I thought I'd at least be on medicaid and hopefully getting a check from social security before any of my kid's had one.

The other thing is I was disappointed instead of being happy. I wanted TJ to go back to school, finish up and be making a decent income with his degree before they added to the family. I think he was more disappointed about me acting disappointed. 

Everyone was excited but me which made me feel even worse. A couple of weeks ago my manager at work (where TJ also works) congratulated me. I shook my head slowly and said I wasn't exactly thrilled about it. I didn't want TJ  to struggle like Tim and I have. He said something that turned my way of thinking.

"It's his life not yours. If he's happy you should be happy for him."

Now I felt even manager was exactly right. He's my kid and needed my support not my opinion. He was a man now and was time to realize it.

Number one I will not be called grandma or granny unless I feel a LOT older in May of next year.

Number two the little boy who was in my wedding will always be considered my oldest and  is going to be a father.

It's not like he dragged home Mama June and Honey Boo Boo saying he knocked up June.

"Our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys."

This is a joy. Not one I was expecting but one that is coming. It's a good thing I've felt really old lately.

This was a tiny wiggling guy who met an egg he wanted to be attached to. Miraculously wiggled it's way from one person in love to the other and coming out nine months later a human being....half him, half her.

My kids were this...

Then suddenly this.

Buddy, if you want a crazy granny you got one!

 I decided on my name  last night, "Y.G."

The tiny human shall call me "Y- gee".

That's right, "Young Granny".

The tiny human on the way is my first grand child and still kinda freaks me out.

I need to be as thrilled as they are ...  not cast my opinions but embrace theirs.

So welcome to the family, Chelsea and Zeli. Welcome to the family little tiny seed ready to sprout in a few months.

You will be half her and half him but have the feeling you may make me feel whole again.

It's a messed up world  that's for sure. We need more good people on our team and coming from peeps as good as TJ and Chelsea, you'll knock it out of the park kiddo.

Til next time...COTTON