Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Last Respects Mean A Lot

This is a picture of my parents Sunday School class in front of East Point Christian Church where they raised me, my brother and sister. This photo is from the fifties when I wasn't even a twinkle in my parents eye yet.

I grew up in this church and remain friends with probably almost a hundred of them. It was awesome to grow up in East Point during the sixties and seventies. I'm almost fifty five now and have outlived not only both my parents but many of their friends as well.

Today I paid my last respects to the woman in this picture, one of my mother's dearest friends. That's me in the inner tube behind her and her son, who is also now in his fifties. Our two families always went on picnics together on Labor Day to "Seabrook" a man made lake. This is the woman who taught my mother how to drive a car when she was probably in her late twenties.

That's my mother on the other float with the jet black hair. At least she learned how to drive but never learned how to swim. I think this is the deepest water we ever saw her in and trust me those feet were touching the bottom.

I was a pretty lucky kid.

No, I was one of the luckiest kids on earth!

My sister and brother make fun of me for never missing a funeral  and have brought my daughter up the same way. My sons just waited to hear about it. I'm a talker and repeater. By the time I get through telling and retelling a story, you feel like you were there!

They call it "paying your last respects" because is.

You can wait until the next time you run into one of the remaining relatives in a grocery store or gas station and tell them how sorry you were then or you can show up now when that person needs to be hugged tightly by a friend who respected them enough to show up and make them smile as they say one last good bye to their own loved one.

It doesn't mean as much two months later in Kroger or when you're running late for work at the gas station and see them. You simply missed that last chance. (and I try not to)

It's nice to see these people who have been in your life since 1960. You share stories and catch up, sometime tear up and sometimes crack up in laughter. It's a celebration of life. It's not really a sad time.

It'd be a sad time if they were horrible people who were on the way to damnation in hell but they weren't and aren't.

They earned a prize of Heavenly reward and hit the Big Guy's lottery. Not a bad way to go if you ask me.

I got to see and hug my mother's other remaining best friend and swap info and numbers.

Yes the times are changing and charging ahead but never forget your past or the people who were in it.

 It's where you came from and part of the reason you are who you are, and lucky for me is a great thing. I had two great parents and still have a great brother and sister. All the other wonderful people I've met along the way are simply gravy...and I love me some gravy!

Til Next time, COTTON

Sunday, June 28, 2015

High Five!

Well that was a long half decade! The good news is that seems to be all behind us now. I can't tell you what a relief it is to have enough money to not only pay our bills but pay them all on time.

After well over a year at both our new jobs my husband and I have finally scraped and scrounged our way back to the middle. It feels (and seems) incredible!

It's far from ideal. Tim is living and working a thousand miles away from home for a couple of years and I'm here with the kids and pups. With all we've been through, it seems a small price to pay. Of course that's easy for me to say,  still living at home and having our king size bed all to myself. The dogs sleep on his side of our bed now. He's sleeping on a twin size bed in a rented room he found to rent off Craigs List from a guy who's last name is Bundy. I told him I hoped his first name was Al not Ted.

I think God sent Tim to Texas for two years to have a vacation from me. God's pretty smart.

It got ugly for a while and (honestly admit) most of the ugly came from me most of the time. I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but have a pretty sharp tongue with rapid fire comebacks that sometime (often) cut to the quick. Trust me, he needs about two years away from me.

He's been gone since late February but finally gets to come home for a week on July 25th.

Our kids are all excited and as a bonus he will get to meet his new grand daughter for the first time.

I'll be the first to admit (unless you ask him first) it's been nice to have a little time away from each other. Things were said in the heat of the moment (which happened to last five years) and needed to simply take a step (or thousand miles) away from each other and remember why we fell in love in the first place.

He was extremely handsome, honest, hard working and for some strange reason liked my bossy firecracker sometimes (often) cannon ball self. Almost three decades later, I'm still bossy and he's still honest, hard working but now totally a silver haired version of the man I married.

Maybe I'll highlight his hair for him when he comes home...sure works for me!

When the economy tanked over two decades later he suffered hit after hit in his field of logistics and trucking. After the second (absolutely) out of his control hit, the anger began to simmer. Two years later it began to boil. Then it all boiled over...and you women out there know what a mess that makes on your stove top.

Here's the thing. I'm a server and not bragging think am a pretty good one. People with money will always go out to eat...and they did.

Now we're finally on an equal playing field (albeit a thousand miles apart) but still together.

If you don't have bad times, how do you know when you have good times?

We are extremely fortunate and know the difference now.

Tim's still the one.

Much help from God, family and friends sure didn't hurt either. I have a lot to pay forward and look forward to it.

Til next time, COTTON

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Okay So This ISN'T A Dream ?

All I can say is "Wow!"

It's brutally hot here in the south  right now and by the time I park at work, fast walk to the Sardine Shuttle (bus) get through security and clock in at work am already sweating like a four hundred pound woman being made to hop on one leg while wearing a zipped up velour running suit under a full length mink coat complete with hat, scarf and gloves...inside a sauna. I got to work fifteen minutes early to eat my leftovers from last night out of my nifty six buck lunch box in the hallway out back of the restaurant. I sat on a big box of bread on the floor barely making a dent in it and woofed down my dinner from last night while I studied my wine index cards... still sweating.

The restaurant group I work for has mission statements, one of which happens to be "Learning and growing" and constantly push my tired tiny brain. (yes my brain's skinny too)

The new wine list comes out in a week or so and am frantically trying to learn them all well enough to properly sell, serve and be familiar with. I used to think wine in a box was good.

We have a menu meeting every day before work and lately have been about the new wines and involved some sort of contest or quiz. I started pitifully, started at least getting on the board with one or two good answers but finally almost knocked one out of the park today!

One lone server who shall remain nameless (we'll just call her Laura) is like a freaking knowledge sponge. She knows grape,  producer and region of pretty much every single wine, old list and new. She's as smart as she is big and have learned quite a bit from my plus sized friend.

Today was an elimination game. You were tossed a potato and had five seconds to name a new wine, or something about it then toss to the next person. If you couldn't come up with anything you were out.

Dang, I was one of the last two standing today! Me and my plus sized friend. We really are Lucy and Ethyl.

I am so grateful for this job, still seems like a dream but am doing everything I can to make myself a valued part of the team for as long as it lasts.

Tired tonight but have tons more to talk about. Thank goodness tomorrow is a day shift and can catch up on "Me- Bloggin".

              Til next time, COTTON

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hot Mess Heard!

It was a hot one today. It was in the mid nineties but cutting grass felt like it was well over two hundred. Cut and weed eated for three hours, came home threw together three dishes and packed them to go. Took a shower and got to the party a mere thirty minutes late.

The place I used to work had a reunion of old school employees at a local park. It was at least a hundred degrees when we got there. On the good side, no need for chafing dishes, every thing stayed plenty hot. One girl brought a butt load (small pun) of pulled pork and the rest of us all brought sides and salads.

We were all unloading our cars and dishes when one of my very besties came up and said "I just want you to know first, he's here."

It wasn't a shock.  I kinda figured he may come and was prepared.

My mental nemesis, my former manager who fired me from the steak place and spiraled us further into the five year abyss.

I smiled cheerfully at my bestie as we carried my food to the picnic area to add to the spread and said since was a pot luck dinner "That's okay, maybe he brought me an apology."

He didn't but that's okay too. I can hold a grudge like nobody's business and actually found out tonight it doesn't matter to me anymore.

What matters were the other twenty or so people there who loved me and me them!

It was hotter eating than it seemed cutting grass earlier and all melted like old candles but did it together and enjoyed every minute.

I honestly didn't give him being there a second thought (maybe one) and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I really needed that job when I lost it and was a horribly depressing time in my life.

I don't need that job anymore.

We got this now.

The miracle of my life (I've finally realized) is that I'm still alive to experience it.

It was great seeing all these friends. It felt great to not need one of them to help me out financially. (and many did)

For the first time in well over five years finally felt okay with feeling proud to be a former member of this LongHorn family.

Fun in the sun and sweating with the oldies!

Til next time...COTTON

Monday, June 15, 2015

Nailing It

Got home from work a little after midnight. Number one they had a massive road block at the exit ramp and already were loading the paddy wagon full with violation offenders. Number two was glad I wasn't in my twenties anymore. Number three can't believe my almost twenty year old daughter has never gone through a road block. I asked her to reach in the back seat and get my license out of my nifty clear airport purse and asked if she should get hers out too?

The county was gettin' their bizzy on tonight. My son got stopped in one too coming home from his job thirty minutes later. Thank goodness my Lost Boy learned his lesson the hard way a few years ago and sailed right through just like me.

I write a lot about how great my new job is and how am making more than I ever have but trust me, I earn every stinkin' penny and then some.

I've worked harder at this job than I ever have before, not always physically but constantly mentally. I've learned about wine varietals, food I've never even thought about eating and even more about how to serve in a fine dining establishment.

I finally almost  get it all down and BAM they change the menu four months later. It's a seasonal European restaurant and change the menu four times a year. I have to know how each dish is prepared, where the product comes from and how it was caught or raised. I have (need) to know where each wine comes from, producer, grape and region.

When I first started waiting tables back in the late seventies all I knew about wine was that MD 20/20 was produced by Mogen David and came from the liquor store on Main Street that didn't check ID's.

My first serving job was for Red Lobster in 1979. I had to wear a blue polyester sailor dress complete with white collar, red tie and white shoes.

I can say with almost certain conviction after well over three decades of serving  "Then I learned the restaurant business and  learned it the hard way."

The photo above is from "Mildred Pierce" with Joan Crawford in the mid forties.

If you want to borrow it I have it. Is a must see, especially for servers.

Back in the day, Red Lobster was almost considered fine dining on the south side of Atlanta. We were all still just a bunch of red necks and going to Red Lobster was like being on vacation at the beach. They even had a drink called The Lighthouse and the glass was not only shaped like one but could take it home with you, to put in your cabinet next to the Flintstones jelly jar glasses you'd also accrued.

I managed to get fired and rehired three times but learned the business in my year or so with them.

Then I worked for Steak and Ale for a year or so. Cute short little plaid skirt, black tights and low cut peasant blouse...aah the eighties! It was the nicest restaurant on the south side for quite a while.

I went to work for a small pizza joint after about another year. It had about twelve bar stools and eight booths. I worked there for almost fourteen years and learned the rest of the business moving up to management and pizza slinger. Learned how to make dough, we grated our own mozzarella and made our own meatballs. It was an awesome place to really learn the business. I made a lot of good friends there, met my husband there and still consider those some pretty awesome years.

The owner became not only a good friend but quickly turned into my mentor. I'm still friends with both him and his wife and run into them occasionally.

Then I went to work for a big steakhouse restaurant which I now refer to as Western Sizzler. It was a great job for almost thirteen years, made good money and even a lot more good friends. I got fired for giving my daughter a free scoop of ice cream after she and her friends spent over fifty bucks on lunch one day. My manager who crazy enough was also considered a good friend knew my husband had been out of work for a while and barely getting by. He fired me for theft.

It was the nail in our coffin. We're still not back to where we were and has been well over five years. (and yes I can hold a grudge)

I landed in a family owned restaurant owned by some people I knew next. They hired me on the spot and can say for a fact pretty much saved my family.

They are both a little bit crazy (like me) so we got along just fine for well over four years. They helped me out so many times I can't even count. They loaned me money interest free time and time and time again when we needed it for bills and taught me even more about food and wine. I made even more good friends as well.

When I got offered a new job at the new international terminal of the world's busiest airport in an upscale European restaurant  simply couldn't afford to say no. I was terrified of leaving my comfort zone but on the brink of losing our home so had to take a leap of faith. I worked both jobs for over four months but wore me down quickly. That was the hardest resignation letter I will (hopefully) ever have to write. I remain friends with them both.

It took me a while to figure out and be able to appreciate but do know...

God did have a plan!

He gave us everything for over a quarter of a century then suddenly took most all of it away. He left us our three kids and my brother and sister, about two hundred fantastic friends and last but not least our three dogs.

That's evidently all we needed.

He also allowed us to meet some pretty awesome peeps along the road and every one of them rallied to our support.

Tim has a wonderful job now (albeit a thousand miles away) and I have one twenty five miles up the road. We're so close to being close to close it ain't even funny!

Everything you have today, what you have this very instant can be gone the next...literally.

If not having enough money is the worst thing that ever happens to you, consider yourself extremely lucky...because you are.

Til next time...Lucky COTTON

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tuckered Out (in a good way)

This past week has been kicking my ninety five pounds all over the place, from home to work and home again.

I've gotten so much done in the yards you can actually see all four sides of our house now. For five years I thought we were living in a triangle shaped house at best.

It's no Graceland or Biltmore House but sure feels like it being less than two years away from being paid off.

I hauled over five hundred pounds of river rock and lined the flower beds and walk ways, pulled weeds and put down pine straw. I even fancied it up a little out by where the trash can sits.

Work, the one I get paid for has been kicking my booty on a daily basis five sometimes six days a week for the past few weeks.

I absolutely love working in the new international terminal. It's so clean, open and serene amidst sometimes pure controlled chaos. That's my kind of place to work and love even more the wonderful place where I was lucky enough to land (small pun) a job.

It starts in early March, the madness and continues until well after Thanksgiving. Every day is a mental and physical sling fest and you know me, I love to fight!

Last year I was thrown into it after earning (what felt like) my brain surgeon status. I was lucky to just keep up but made more money than I ever had in my life.

This year I was ready...so I thought.

Since I feel and look so much older decided to highlight my hair to take away from my face. I've also taken voracious notes, asked hundreds of questions but still get my butt kicked at least four times a week (and that's a good thing) in my line of work.

Then I come home to an even harder job, running a household of three peeps and three pups.

I got some pretty dang good kids but have a few faults which drive me insane(er).

Here's a few facts am sure every momma endures with her kids and often rolls her eyes about.

Why do the kids have to swat a fly like they're trying to jack one out of the park? Half the time, if they are successful you can't even find the nasty little carcass or either they've smeared it to smithereens all over what ever the little buzzing nuisance landed on.

Approach, stand still and slowly tap with minimal force works just fine for me, haven't lost one carcass yet!

Next, why do they squeeze a tube of toothpaste like they're in an iron man competition? I promise it will come out just fine if you squeeze from the bottom and flatten the tube as you use it.

They have gotten better about throwing things away when done with or empty but nine times out of ten miss the intended  target by less than two inches.

They are both obviously missing the gene it takes to completely start, finish and put away a cycle of laundry.

A messy or dirty bathroom is no big deal to them. (disgusts me)

After living in the same house for almost two decades still put some things in the wrong place when unloading the dishwasher. (I'm just happy over three quarters of the job's done and never complain about this one)

They can't just tie a simple knot when taking trash out. I don't know how many times I've gone to add something to a bag of trash they took out and was like trying to open a Da Vinci code.

This one really irritates me and their dad was guilty of it too when still lived here at home.

Zach is unfortunately way too much like me and fortunately not like me both at the same time. It's like I gave birth to  Catdog twenty three years ago.

He's like having a house cat who loves to laze around but randomly has sudden unexpected bursts of freakish energy when you least expect but sometimes need the most. Guess I'll keep him.

Massey's my "Good Girl" and bestie for the most part except for the week Aunt Flo visits her. Are you counting? That's twelve weeks a year.

Aunt Flo never bothered me much when I was younger. Of course she never gave me boobs either.

I guess all in all I'm pretty stinking lucky. My kids watched us almost financially go under but even better, watched us not only keep going but make huge sacrifices to move up, ahead and beyond. None of them ever complained (or turned me in for check kiting) and were always supporting and encouraging. Heck they could have moved out and been fine on their own but chose to stay and help.

Ya gotta dance with one who brung you, otherwise it's giving up.

 We may be a lot of things but quitters ain't one of 'em. Loved is!

Til next time...COTTON

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

That Full Moon Madness

The power of the Moon has always intrigued me, especially when full. It controls the ocean tides and makes people act nuts. It usually also means big bucks for servers and today was no exception.

Monday is a slow day street side. In the world's busiest airport at a fine dining restaurant things can change in literally five minutes. I got to work at one thirty and was a ghost town. The servers had waited on about three or four tables each. I clocked in and went immediately on the floor so one of the day servers could leave.

At two o'clock the bottom fell out (in a good way). In less than five minutes I had six tables going and every time I turned around was being seated again. By three o'clock I had made well over a hundred dollars and tables were still pouring in the front door. By four o'clock I doubled my money and the restaurant emptied as quickly as had filled.

We had an hour or two to regroup, catch up on silverware and polishing and the steady stream started again. Every table was pleasant and generous. I was cut before eight, left with a gracious plenty and plenty of thanks to The Big Guy upstairs. I walked out of the airport as the last of daylight faded and saw the full moon lurking above behind the clouds. I thanked The Big Guy beyond the full moon once again and went home early.

 Number one, realize after being a server for well over thirty years I should be good at it but finally feel  am beginning to hit my stride in the profession (yes it is a profession) and earn my keep!

Number two,  absolutely love the restaurant group I am lucky enough to work for.

Number three, I've never had a job where it doesn't matter which manager is working to have a pleasant shift. That's a HUGE bonus in my working world.

I equally respect and admire all three of my managers and chefs who are always helpful and encouraging as opposed to demanding and sometimes degrading.

It appears I have six leaders not six bosses. That's hard to find or have in this day and age no matter where you work.

Not to pat myself on the back (well maybe for a sec) also realize you get what you give. I try and give a hundred percent every time I clock in until the time I clock out. They aren't paying me to make money, they are paying me to help make the restaurant successful and be part of the reason for success.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. Heck, even I did!

As the above photo shows (used my selfie stick just today) the past few years haven't  really taken that much of a toll on me and think have weathered the storm rather nicely.

My husband still  thinks I'm hot and he's right.

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night literally drenched in sweat and other times have trickles of sweat running down both sides of my pathetically thin rib cages while simply writing down an order at work standing totally still at a table in an air conditioned restaurant.

Dang, I thought I was a riot. The Big Guy is obviously The funniest.

It starts when he either gives you huge boobs at a seemingly inappropriate age or none at all (even funnier) right after He slams you with blood river once a month.

You'd think the trick of pushing a human out of a less than dime sized hole would be good enough but NO!

Then a few (lot of) years later after the blood river finally runs dry you get to sweat like Mel Gibson at a Jewish shindig for years at totally random times, and never get the paycheck he does.

I think it's just God's way of telling us women  "Life's not fair, wear a helmet".


Yeah, I was geeky little flat chested girl who people called "Big Mouth" but is one of the first 45 records I ever bought with my allowance. "Tell it Girl!"

I should have seen it coming but in hindsight think we all handled it pretty well with lots of help from The Comedian Upstairs and hundreds around us down here.

I'm calling this life a Grand Slam.

Til next time...COTTON