Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Little Things

You know you're turning the financial corner when you stop at Publix for groceries.

When the kids were all younger and our life was hunky dory, always shopped at Publix. Their smooth rolling shopping carts reel you in from the jump. Nine times out of ten when at Walmart, I get a cart with that one wacky front wheel going all crazy. Drives me (even more) nuts. There's usually trash or fliers in them and occasionally a wadded up napkin with God knows what in it.


Guess saving money comes with a price...talk about irony!

I was all excited when my $7.99 coupon from Great Clips came in the mail...right on time. I love my short hair but always know when it starts looking perfect means in three more days it won't.

Maybe need to start putting on make up for these selfies I keep using. (not gonna happen)


Got really lucky on my third try here in Orlando at a Great Clips. Found two women who cut it just the way I like it. One woman works at the one off Alafaya, which is a road with traffic from hell. The other works at the one right up the road from us in the Publix shopping center. Checked in online and got seated immediately, another bonus. Gave her a 100% tip and walked out spending under sixteen dollars for muh new hurr do.

I got in the car to leave and decided "what the hey" let's go see what Publix has that I want.

The minute I pulled that cart out, they had me. Clean, empty and rolled smooth as silk. Every shelf stocked, wide aisles and friendly employees. I headed straight for the cereal aisle. Publix is the only store which sells my favorite cereal, Blueberry Morning. I bought two boxes. Every employee I passed spoke to me. I picked up some yummy looking artichoke, spinach, tomato and pepper quiche in the deli and took home two turkey subs for us to have for lunch.

I was truly living large!

I do miss Kroger (none in Florida) where prices were pretty good and could also gas up my car with my points.

Since we've moved here, have been shopping at Walmart. I'll have to give it to them, they have these smaller versions called "Neighborhood Market" which only sell grocery items and bonus points have gas stations too.

But nine out of ten people always leave their cart beside their car or shove it up onto the curb. That drives me nuts.

Yes is convenient to our tiny temp home and quite a bit cheaper but the selection of items pale in comparison.

I'm thinking it's time to move on up and switch back.

I'll still shop at the Neighborhood Market for the quick pick up item and gas, but here's my thing.

Over the almost past ten years, feel like I have paid my dues, (wo)manned up and kept on going even when feeling like hiding under a rock. I've pushed myself and luckily been encouraged to push with an amazing outpouring of love and support from family and friends.

I'm finally "Club Pub" worthy again.

It'll certainly make my hot flashes easier to take.

Baby steps.

Til next time...Hotton Cotton

Monday, February 27, 2017

Zen Again

Yeah, I'm just a waitress. Have been since 1980.

 Let's do the math.

Started at Red Lobster after returning from college.

Worked at Steak  and Ale for almost a year.

Worked at W.D. Crowley's Scotch House for a year.

Worked at Johnny's Pizza for fourteen years.

Worked at LongHorn almost fourteen years.

(Can you tell I'm still mad about LongHorn firing me?)

Worked at Mama Lucia's for almost four years.

Worked at Ecco for almost three years.

I'm well into my thirty seventh year as a plate slinger and well over on my way to turning fifty seven.

Looking back at these photos, realize just how much I have moved up in my career as a plate slinger.

I probably started out making around 13k (good for a waitress in 1980) but went to well over 70k (pretty great in 2016) which included life, medical, vision and dental benefits.

Then my husband got a great new job. First he had to move to Lubbock, Texas for a year, all alone. Then he got promoted again and moved to Orlando. Me and the kids still stayed at home.

Then he got another promotion in Orlando and we decided it was time to reunite.

Great news for Tim, couldn't have been happier for him.

Bummer for me, had to give up the serving job of a lifetime and move away from everything and everyone I loved...to be a family again, with the one who had brung me to the dance.

At least the new job was in Orlando. I like warm weather!

Tim's so much like Jed it ain't even funny. He's as laid back as they come and a man of few words.


Yep, I'm Granny...and then some.

I'm older than him, less tolerant than him and scrappy from the get go.

I drive him nuts and he drives me nuts.

Guess we're both nuts!

His favorite saying to me, when getting on his nerves:

My favorite saying back to him:

You know what?

It's the perfect combination.

Tit for tat.

He's Ying , I'm Yang.

He's usually wrong and I'm most always right...unless you ask him!

For all we've been through this past decade, am actually amazed we're still together... but are.

We've both given up things for each other. We've both supported each other even when we couldn't support our own family...

 We've been there done that...time and time again.

Now suddenly everything is okay, financially.

Number one: I'm still wary.

Not that I'm a nay sayer...but more a "don't count the chickens before they hatch" kinda girl.

Number two: you gotta move on.

I was getting ready for work today (now yesterday). Ole Jed came into the bedroom and asked me how last night at work went? Well, I made the most money I ever have since moving here and was exhausted by the time I got home.

Exhausting is good when well compensated for it.

I slept in today, Ole Jed brought me coffee and oatmeal in bed a little before noon. I went in again and banged out another shift.

To be back on top is a wonderful feeling for (just) a plate slinger.

It's gonna be okay.

It's a different place, a different city and with different people.

It's taken a couple of months, for me and them.

Hands down...can say am not only on the team but one of  the team.

It's taken more than a minute, it's taken almost six months...

But I'm back!

My money increases every single day, every single shift.

got this now.

I'm a boss.

I rock.

I got this new job down now and work on getting better at it every day.

I'm a work in progress.

I am progress!

Ole Jed even mentioned today as I got ready for work..."You got in on the ground floor of a really great place, right before it takes off like a rocket."

Okay, I'll give him this...

He's right! (for once)

It'll be okay.

It is okay.

It's gonna be great!!

You know what?

I'm getting older, way over half way done with my life but determined to go out swinging, like "Casey at the Bat."

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day;
the score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
a sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
they thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that –
they'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
and the former was a lulu and the latter was a fake,
so upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
for there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
and Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball;
and when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
there was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
it rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
it knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
for Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
there was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
no stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
and Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped--
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
and it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
he stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
he signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
but Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said: "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
but one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
and they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
he pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
and now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
the band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
and somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
but there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.

I may not win this game of life but will be a winner for giving life my all.

I've learned to roll with punches, accept defeat but also rise above them and come back even stronger.

Quitters never win and winners never quit.

I've been lower than low and also been on top of the world.

Life doesn't come with any guarantees but two.

You are born and you will die.

Life simply and totally boils down to what you make of your time between those two given guarantees.

I've made mistakes but learned from them. I've also been blessed beyond belief.

Millions and millions aren't so lucky.

It reminds me of the old folk song...

"Both Sides Now."

I've been on both sides too, and feel grateful to be lucky enough to survive each one one of them.

With all the things which pulled us down for years, now realize were actually things that make us stronger.

Til next time...COTTON

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Our White Red Headed Step Child

Our Charlie...the dog you love but hate. In this pic had gnawed a hole in the fence large enough to poke his fat head through to see what he could of the front yard. On the rare times he managed to escape, just sauntered from the back yard into the open garage door and plopped down by the kitchen door waiting to be let back inside. If the garage door happened to be shut, had to huff and puff it all the way to the front and stare into the window which went all the way to the floor beside our front door, once again waiting to let back inside.

Here's a video of Charlie and Ham jumping for a low branch in our old back yard about seven years ago. Notice how graceful Ham is and how high he could jump when his peepers still worked. Notice also, how Charlie seems like he's got ten pounds of bricks in his pockets (if he had any).

We inherited Charlie from our oldest son, TJ who moved back home with Charlie in tow, then moved back out asking us to keep him for a couple of weeks until he could come back for him.

That was almost ten years years ago.


You'd think a puppy who cost three thousand dollars would grow up to be a stellar and super smart dog.

Didn't happen.

Not even close.

When he wants in or out of the house and doesn't immediately get his way, has the most annoying whine which actually sounds like a little kid.

I remember shortly after aquiring Charlie,  was in the driveway of our house back in Georgia with my next door husband's son who was trying to fix my Johnny Dear for me. I called Ron my next door husband instead of next door neighbor because was constantly helping me fix things. Lucky for me Ron also had a son who quickly became my "next door son" when his dad was at work.

Kevin (his son) was on his back in my driveway, working on the mower blade when Charlie started whining from our back yard with his fat head poking through the hole he'd chewed in between the gates of the privacy fence.

I'll never forget... Kevin stopped what he was doing and said "Ms. Kelly, do you hear that little kid crying?"

I shook my head  (do that a lot with Charlie) and said "That's TJ's bulldog, just ignore him...we try  to."

My brother in law came over a couple of summers later after Charlie continued to gnaw away the fence gate, put up a new gate and made a peep hole for the dogs as a birthday present for me (Charlie).

Best present ever!

We all love Charlie, just don't like him very much.

He makes it hard to like him.

He's brat and  extremely self centered.

Once Ham went totally blind and after getting Ziggy to replace our female boxer, Rosie (our first) who had to be put down with horrible hip problems during the time were broke as jokes. The three males, with six balls between them started to get into fights with each other.

It was always terrifying and never ended up pretty.

Charlie quickly became to be known as "Scar Face" and with good reason.

Bull dogs don't give up, even when obviously fighting a losing battle.

Once I got my great airport job and had the bills all caught up, took the boys...one at a time to the local cheap "Vet in a Van" who came to our city once a week at ridiculously low rates.

I took Ziggy the first week. He bounced out of the car and was ready to go into that van and find out where all that barking was coming from.

I picked him up an hour later.

He walked out on the leash with the doc leading him from the van and looked woozy at best. I kept him in my bedroom for a couple of days away from the other two and my ole Zig bounced right back.

The next week I took Ole Chas for his (de)Nut job.

Oh, Charlie was all about heading up those two steps into the van to show those dogs barking from inside how tough he was! He was pulling on the leash the entire way.

It was one of the funniest experiences of my life...and had quite a few with the Ole Boy.

They called (less than an hour later) and said Charlie was ready for pick up...minus his nuts. I drove back over in the borrowed truck from my brother in law. I didn't even own a vehicle at the time.

I got an old comforter and spread it over the front seat of the truck first, just in case he got sick on the ride home from the anesthesia.

I waited in the parking lot for over ten minutes, kinda starting to get worried about Charlie and hoping they would soon lead Charlie out of the mobile clinic van on his leash. After a few more minutes passed, the vet came huffing and puffing out the mobile clinic with Charlie, belly up in his arms. The Lug weighed at least seventy five pounds.

The vet was covered with Charlies's white hair and almost stumbled over to the truck to deposit him on to the front seat of the truck.

The first thing I noticed... is Charlie sure didn't come out of the mobile clinic looking like the bad ass he went barking into it as, acting like he was gonna kick some butt.

His eyes were rolling in two different directions, his tongue which is at least eight inches long was dry and glued to his jowls like a piece of dried leather.

It was totally a "What the heck just happened?" look.. and then some.

The vet, sweating like me with a hot flash, rolled him into the front seat of the truck and we were on our way!

I was pleasantly surprised he didn't throw up on the ride home.

Once at our house, had to go get Zach from inside to come pick him up off the front seat of the truck.

He picked Charlie up and carried him, much like the vet...huffing and puffing up to the third floor of our house and put him in our bedroom to convalesce.

I stayed behind in the driveway to drag the comforter out of the truck for washing.

There, right behind where Charlie had been on the seat, was a rock hard (thank goodness hard) big ole turd.

I guess the whole thing scared the crap out of him!

Charlie stayed underneath our bed for two days without moving.

Day three, he finally got up and moseyed down two flights of steps and went outside to pee, like a girl dog...couldn't even manage to lift his leg.

Ziggy bounced back in two days, Charlie was traumatized for a week.

I decided not to have Ham neutered...especially at a low cost Vet in a Van.

Totally blind, would flip out being lead into a strange place with cats and dogs more than loudly meowing and howling.

Ham can keep his two buddies, they're about all he has left.

Ham is over eleven which and way past the life expectancy of a boxer.

He got to peek out of the hole Charlie gnawed when he could see and we tried to get his eyes fixed quite a while back with help from many through a foundation.

The foundation considered it comestic since he was healthy otherwise.

They even had a picture of Ham's dad in the office. Ham's father also suffered from juvenile cataracts.

So we've not only lugged our selves through a decade of financial debacle but three pups as well.

Not one of them has ever complained...except maybe Charlie, but nobody listens to Charlie if they can help it.

Yes, Charlie needs whooping but will never get it from us. Ham and Ziggy have given him more than his due.

For Pete's sake... am just starting to get my own act together after yet another  later than sooner life altering change.

But you know what?

Ham's still here alive, and so am I.

Charlie's still around, wearing us all out with his bull dog ways but still love the fat ass.

Ziggy is Ziggy, living up to his name sake (Marley) and proudly prancing to the beat of a different drum.

Dogs are the most wonderful comforting companions a person could ever hope to have...and once again am blessed.

Not one of my dogs have ever complained and love me like nobody's bidness.

Three great kids, three great dogs, a husband who went the distance for us to remain together. Two incredible Sibs and so many friends that would take a calculator to count them all.

When life seems to suck the air out of you...

Blow harder.

Always, always know...if you give life your absolute best, never give up and try your hardest...

It will happen.

Maybe not as soon as you want, but quitters never win.

More importantly, if you want to be a winner... never quit.

Sometimes it takes a universe.

Actually... it always does.

Life is a game plan.

Call me crazy (you're kinda right)  just hope am never called a quitter.

Til next time...COTTON

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Simply Me

For all my faults (and have more than a few) consider myself to be an okay person. I may not be the best person but am certainly not the worst. I may not be a great wife, but it's been close to thirty years now and he hasn't tried to kill me once. (that I know about)

I'm an okay mother. I'm certainly no June Cleaver or Carol Brady but no Mommy Dearest either and all three kids are still alive and kicking.

I'm a needy sister...just ask either of my Sib's.

Sometimes I wish I was a better wife, mother and Sib but that seems like an awful lot of pressure to me and pressure is one thing I'm not good at doing.

I think I'm okay with simply being me.

I guess my family's okay with it too, no body's jumped ship yet.

So if I'm not June, Carol or Joan...think the answer is as simple as me. Laughter makes everything better and easier to take.

There's a reason why I like Phyllis Diller and Granny Clampett so much.

I think they were both hysterical...

and both strong women. Perfect combination for me.

I find humor in most everything. It's my coping mechanism and has worked for almost fifty seven years.

Why change now?

So I'm not the perfect wife, mother or sibling but am a good person. We don't have a lot of money but have enough.

 What we do have plenty of, is love and have always had tons of laughter.

And these pictures don't begin to scratch the surface of our craziness. I wouldn't have my life turn out any other way for all the money in the world.

And luckily my family is strong enough to love me, with all my faults.

I think back to when Tim and I both lost our jobs and almost lost our home. It was hard to find anything to laugh about but we still did, just not as often.

Here we are... almost ten years later, doing almost as well as before that all happened and laughing a lot more. Tim's gone completely gray and I've gone completely skinny with twice as many wrinkles.

Still beats the alternative.

It's when you can't find anything to laugh about in life, that's when it's time to worry.

I guess it's the simple things which make life so wonderful.

We have an extremely wonderful life!

Luckiest crazy chick ever... COTTON