From the desk of Mr. Pickles, Jedi

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Hi friends!

Bam showed me how to log on to mom’s laptop, he’s super smart.  He knew the password.  He’s a handy big brother, mostly because he can reach the countertop when daddy leaves bacon out.  And with his over bite he’s able to open all kinds of things for me.

I’m considering leaving SWAT training.  It’s really a hard decision because my girlfriend Killer is still in SWAT training.  But mom went to a training and learned about Bomb Detection dogs and it sounds kind of cool.  All I have to do is sit when I smell explosives.  How hard could that be?  And they give you a ball to play with. Um, I don’t know what explosives are though….are they bad? I’m still thinking about it though, I don’t want to leave Killer.

Then the other night mom was winding this big ball of yarn for her work.  I’m not sure what she does or why she needed yarn but whatevs!  I was getting really mad because she wouldn’t let me play with the yarn.  But while she was winding the yarn she was watching some movie on TV called Return of the Jedi.  It was so cool, there were spaceships and fuzzy little bear things and a princess.  Not like my sister Princess but a real princess.  So, I hung out with mom even though I was mad at her and watched the movie.  Popcorn may or may not have been part of my motivation for staying.

I liked the Jedi guy.  I mean how cool is he? And he had a light saber thingy.  I decided that I’d be way better at being a Jedi than being Knight, so I’ve changed from Mr. Pickles, Esq. to Mr. Pickles, Jedi. I need to write the Queen and tell her I’m not longer going to be a knight.  She’ll be very upset.

How cool would it be to be able to use the Force to get bacon off the counter?  Then I could really impress Killer.  So, I’m going to ask mom to go to Jedi school.  It’s a real thing, right?

I forgot to tell you I had to go to the doctor last week.  I had a bad cough.  Teagan and Dawson said I was just faking because I only coughed around mom.  I wasn’t faking!  The doctor said I had a cold and gave me medicine.  It tastes like beef stuff.  I’m not sure what beef stuff is, but I like it.  I was good this time and didn’t try to bite the girl who took my temperature like I did the last time.  Do you know where they stick the thermometer?

We went to the puppy resort a few weeks ago.  I’m not sure why mom calls it a resort especially when she doesn’t get us the rooms with the TV and extra treats.  Stupid snobby rich poodles got the fancy rooms and extra treats.  Bam really liked his girl who took him outside and always convinced her to give him extra snuggles.  It’s not bad there, but I was glad to get home to my own fluffy bed and my cardboard box.  Yes, I have a cardboard box like a cat, don’t judge.

That’s pretty much been my life for the last few weeks.  I live a really exciting life.  Princess said a racoon is living under our mini barn again.  Maybe next time I log on I will tell you about how I used my Jedi skills to catch the racoon.  Ohhh I could catch the squirrels too.  I gotta become a Jedi!

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Travelling – like Mark Twain

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If you’ve ever noticed the only quote that appears on my blog is “Write what you know.”- Mark Twain.  I like Mark Twain, but not for the classics like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer (collective literary gasp).  What made me like Mark Twain was a short story, A Dog’s Tale.  Even though it’s a sad and tragic tale, it’s written entirely from the prospective of a dog – which I may do from time to time.

I also like Mark Twain because he travelled, and he wrote about his travels.

So, I was excited to get to travel last weekend to Missouri and visit an old Missouri river town, St Charles, where almost everything is named after Mark Twain (a hobby store, the mall, streets…) except the really weird pizza, which I’ll get to in a minute. Also notice I’m now using the term travelling in place of vacation or holiday – it’s really splitting hairs but travelling sounds more like something Mark Twain or Ernest Hemingway would have done.

For those of you who have read some of my previous travel calamities there is good news, no hotels were involved or harmed during this trip!  We were lucky enough to stay with friends who recently relocated to the St. Louis area.  It was like staying in the best ever bed and breakfast imaginable.

Day 1 – We started our day with rain.  Lots and lots and lots of rain.  Dave joked that every time we go to St. Louis it rains – he’s not lying, but we’ve only been there one other time.  I was determined to take my kids to the Gateway Arch, rain be damned.  But I didn’t pre-game the Arch very well – or at all.  It was this passing thought I had when we stopped to get gas and McDonald’s in Illinois.  I have been to the Arch two other times in life, once when I was very little and all I remember is weird jerky tram ride to the top.  The second was with my husband in 1997 when we were on our Honeymoon and there was no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks he was going to ride to the top.

As we exited the interstate and you could see the Arch I was surprised to hear Dawson say, “I think I might have to go to the top.”  My son. The one who won’t ride Ferris Wheels and go up in Space Needles because he thinks he might be afraid of heights, maybe kind of sorta – but he isn’t sure.  YAY – parenting win!  Here comes the travel tip portion of visiting the Gateway Arch without a game plan:

  1. Parking is at least three or four blocks away in any direction unless you are in a tour bus. Not great when it’s pouring down rain and the umbrella that used to always be in your car for soccer games has mysteriously disappeared and is probably safe and dry in the garage at home.  But it was only $5 to park, which for city parking isn’t bad.
  2. You have to buy your tickets to enter the Arch from this little kiosk outside the entrance, I’m not sure if this is a permanent thing or just while they are remodeling, but also not fun when you don’t have an umbrella and its pouring. And the lady working in the little kiosk had to ask four times how many tickets we needed, and she still didn’t get it right. Luckily the ticket taker didn’t ask why Dawson and Teagan both had CHILD tickets.
  3. You have to go through security and a metal detector. There is ONE metal detector for each entrance.  It is about a 15-20-minute process to get through security depending on the number of people in front of you and their general ability to empty their pockets and walk through a metal detector – you’d be surprised how many people can’t figure out that they can’t keep their car keys and cell phones in their pocket.  Again, mostly outside in the rain up until the last 5 minutes or so when you get under the Arch.
  4. Congratulations! You are inside the Gateway Arch. You may not get in line for the tram until 5 minutes before your ticket time. Your socks and shoes are sloshy, and you are styling the “wet look.”  20 minutes to go… hey look a gift shop!
  5. THREE of us got in line with our tram tickets. Once again Mr. H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks would not go to the top.  He bought a book about the construction of the Arch and a Diet Dr. Pepper and sat at the bottom and waited.
  6. The tram ride to the top is a huge ordeal and process. You have a tram “conductor” who issues you boarding passes, then you watch a video about the 1960’s (when the construction was complete) that has nothing to do with the Arch.  You take the obligatory green screen picture and get a ticket to purchase an overpriced photoshopped picture of your family in front of the Arch.  You then are escorted to the actual boarding area where you see the metal tram “doors” which are smaller than the windows in my living room.  I think Dawson turned green when he saw the doors.
  7. The 4-minute tram ride to the top really isn’t bad, but it’s a little shaky and there’s a window so you can see the metal supports the entire way up. PS don’t look down!  We rode up with two little girls, Nora and Madison, who were 4 and 8, their mom had to split up all the kids because she had 6 kids and only 5 people can ride in one tram – I wasn’t the only mom who didn’t pre-game!  One was scared, the other wasn’t.  Kind of like my kids – who held hands on the way up. 🙂
  8. The top is cool. You can probably see more on a sunny day, but still cool.  Unless you are uncomfortable being crammed into a space that is about 65 feet long, 7 feet wide and 7 feet tall with 80 other people.  Sardines come to mind.  We stayed just long enough to snap pictures from each side and Dawson was done.  3 minutes down – gravity helps I guess.

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We then enjoyed a rainy walk back to the car.  And Dave made me walk on a pedestrian bridge made entirely of metal grating.  I don’t like a) bridges and b) metal grates.  Next time he’s riding the damn tram to the top.

We negotiated rush hour traffic to get to the suburbs where our friends live, and we stopped at Wal-Mart to get dry shoes and socks.  It was important to have dry shoes and socks.  Dave didn’t pack extra shoes or socks.  We also located an Imo’s Pizza, which according to Dave’s EMS Chief who is from St. Louis is one of the best places to get St. Louis style pizza.  Again, we’ll get to the pizza later.

The fun thing about navigation systems is they take you what is the most “direct” route to any location.  Jenny Jeep (Elmo’s navigation system) was already on Dave’s last nerve because she kept alerting us to traffic backups on I-70.  Then Jenny Jeep took us what we later learned was the back way to our friend’s house.  We were doing good until we were told to turn on a “road” which looked more like a single lane driveway that went straight up.  No, I’m not exaggerating it went literally straight up – and at the peak I wasn’t sure there was anything on the other side. That’s why it’s the back way, there is a much flatter and easily travelled road that Jenny Jeep wasn’t aware of using Highway MM.  I’m totally behind naming highways after my favorite candy.

Day 2 consisted of antique shops and St. Charles historic riverfront.  I was in Heaven!  There were so many shops with farmhouse decor and handmade soaps and candles and crafts and OMG the fresh-baked cookies!  And I found an old window that I’ve wanted for some time to replace an 80’s design “feature” in my house.  The old window almost didn’t fit in Elmo.  And there were the rocks.  Everyone kept finding painted rocks – except me.  On the back of the rock was a Facebook logo with a name, so I looked it up.  It’s a group of people who paint rocks and leave them all over St Charles for people to find.  Isn’t that cool?

Ok, it’s time to talk about the pizza.  For dinner we convinced our friends to go to the pizza place we had seen.  When they moved to St. Louis everyone told them the same thing they told us, you must try St. Louis style pizza.  St. Louis style pizza is really all about the cheese even though the crust is also controversial because is thin and they don’t use yeast when they make it.  But the cheese. I had to look it up.  It’s “white processed cheese known as Provel. Provel is a trademark for three cheeses fused to form one (provolone, Swiss, and white Cheddar).” The words fuse and cheese should not be used together ever.  At first it was just “slightly different” and didn’t really taste bad.  To be honest, it doesn’t taste bad at all, it’s the texture that’s impossible to get past.  Its like slicing Velveeta on a pizza.  You should still try it if you go to St. Louis – just fair warning you may not like it.

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Day 3 was travelling back home.  Again, in the rain.  What is it with the rain?  We had done so very well this trip without our usual bumps in the road (except our friends had a flat tire).  We found the bump on the way home.  We stopped to eat lunch and everything was going well until the little girl next to us fell off her chair and hit her chin.  It made a horrible crack when she hit and of course she started crying.  What made me jump was the older [than me] gentleman behind us who literally sprung out of his seat and dove toward the little girl bellowing “OH MY GOD IS SHE OK?”  It was a bit of an over reaction especially for a stranger.  That was bad.  What made it worse was that the mom totally under reacted to the situation.  She sighed loudly and asked in a very calm monotone “are you ok?”  Super stranger who had bolted out of his seat was now yelling “SHE’S BLEEDING!!!” Apathetic mom reached for a napkin and was trying to hold the girl steady to wipe the blood while calmly saying, “you have to let me see and wipe the blood away.”  Super stranger was still standing there staring in disbelief at the mom, so she said, “oh she’s ok.  She just had surgery this week that’s why she’s bleeding.”  The man finally went back to his seat where he very loudly relayed the story to his wife including questioning why she had surgery.  I mean his wife had seen and heard the whole incident so I’m not sure why he was telling her the story.  I was amazed Teagan hadn’t started to laugh because she laughs at inappropriate times – it’s a brain injury thing.  The whole thing was just too much, the super overreaction of the man and the completely emotionless and under reacting mom.  And our little happy family was stuck directly in the middle of it all.  I had to go or I was going to be the one laughing at an inappropriate time.

There you have it, a trip with no hotel disasters, only a slight weather problem and one minor people watching bump. It’s our first trip without an epic weather event.  It did snow on April 1st though, but that doesn’t count we were already home.

Finally, for my friend who spent all weekend planning and naming my “shop” to sell all my handicrafts and writings I challenge you to open your own bed and breakfast.  You would be really great at making people feel like home and the place would be incredibly decorated.  Just a thought!

 

Not everyone has the same heart as you

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When I write I always try to stay clear of 3 topics ….. Politics, Religion and the Great Pumpkin.  The reason I do that is because I fancy myself more of a humorist than an activist.  My mom compared my writing to Erma Bombeck and so I continue to strive for that style of writing.

But every now and then a subject weighs on my mind and I want to write about it, but I shy away because there is no way to write about it in a lighthearted fashion.  Usually those topics also come with a lot of either political or religious baggage – mostly political but unfortunately people usually find a way to tie politics and religion together.  So today I decided to break my own rules and just write because my mind really can’t let this one go.

In the last few weeks I’ve watched with amazement a generation stand up for themselves and tell the country they are tired of becoming victims and they want change.  I’ve also watched in disbelief and disappointment the older generations response to this change.  The young people of our country are telling us, the adults, they are tired of being afraid their school might be next, tired of having to practice lockdown drills, and tired of mourning the loss of classmates and friends.  And the responses I’ve seen range from “they don’t understand what they are talking about,” to “they should be nicer to their classmates and stop bullying,” and even “kids don’t know anything about civics, laws or government.”

Really?  That’s the response we give the nations kids when they say they want change? That’s the response we give to kids who are expressing to us that they are scared and want us to do something?  I actually read an article by a freelance journalist who targeted one of the teens specifically from Parkland Florida for making remarks about the NRA’s spokeswoman.  I saw a post on Twitter that said this journalist had targeted one of the teenager speakers from Parkland Florida and I honestly thought (or maybe even secretly hoped) that it was one of those blown out of proportion articles that people with political agendas post to gain more followers and fuel more debate.  So, I went to the journalists Twitter page and there it was in black and white – an unapologetic article calling a 16-year-old a “bully” because he dared to share a negative opinion he has of the NRA’s spokeswoman. And again, I said, Really?

“They don’t understand what they are talking about.”  Trust me, they do.  They know that they are supposed to be able to go to school and learn in a safe environment.  They know that they have seen time and time again on television kids their age being escorted past bodies of their classmates out of school with their hands above their heads by police officers.  They know they don’t want their school to be the next headline.  Let’s be honest, when we went to high school did it ever even cross your mind that a classmate might come into school and start randomly shooting people?  No, it didn’t.  We never had lock-down drills.  In the 50’s and 60’s there were “duck and cover” drills for nuclear attacks, but by the time I was in school even they weren’t practiced.  In four years of high school the only significant event I remember was when we had to evacuate the school because someone had called in a bomb threat.  There was no bomb, it was just a hoax by a student wanting to get out of an exam.

“They should be nicer to their classmates and stop bullying.”  I completely agree.  Everyone should be nicer to their classmates, neighbors, co-workers and stop bullying.  But, if we’re being honest….. Yeah that’s what I thought.  Are you always kind, nice and polite to ALL your co-workers or neighbors?  Nope.  Were you always kind, nice and respectful to ALL the kids you went to school with?  Nope.  The hardest lesson I had to teach my kids when they started school was that everyone doesn’t have the same heart that you do.  Not everyone you meet wants to be a friend or sometimes even nice.  And then as a parent you must answer that awkward question of what your child should do when someone is mean to them. Maybe finding a solution to this problem should be on the top of everyone’s agenda instead using the blow off excuse – don’t bully your classmates and that alone will stop school violence.

“Kids don’t know anything about civics, laws or government.”  They are in school learning about these topics every day.   Some of them probably have better knowledge of these topics than we do as adults because they are actively studying them.  Granted many of them don’t have the same view about these topics that we do – and they shouldn’t they are growing up in a different era with different problems and challenges. Don’t fool yourselves though, they are educating themselves faster than we are giving them credit for.

In my daughter’s school there are posters in every class room detailing the lockdown plan and response plan for an active shooter.  She’s been taught to turn her backpack around and wear it so that her chest is somewhat protected by her books and folders from gunfire.  Every day she and her classmates carry clear, see though backpacks to reduce the chance of a student hiding a gun or knife.  My son’s school had to cancel classes twice due to an active credible threat of violence – for months the school had extra police officers at the doors checking for weapons.  It took the FBI nearly a year and a half for to find out the threat was some cyber terrorist halfway across the country who just randomly selected my son’s school and not an actual student.  These kids know EXACTLY what they are marching, protesting and fighting for.

Kids today are taught to RUN, HIDE, FIGHT.  That’s the national campaign for all American’s to prepare for an active shooter situation.  RUN if it’s safe, HIDE if you can’t RUN and as a last resort FIGHT. With so many past school shootings kids have run away or hid from the national spotlight on their school.  Suddenly and maybe unexpectedly, with the last school shooting, they decided to fight.  The kids in Parkland Florida didn’t follow the script written by past school shootings – they didn’t just hold candlelight vigils and prayer circles and quietly shrink out of the spotlight.  They started speaking up and speaking out and rallying teens all over the nation to do the same.  And I, for one, am proud that they are standing up for themselves.  Isn’t that part of what we teach our kids?  Stand up for yourself.  If you see something say something.  Don’t be upset because they are finally listening to us.

I’m not writing this to debate gun control, the 2nd Amendment, the NRA, the media, politicians, the President, Republicans, Democrats, conservatives or liberals.  Yes, all these things play a role in this.  And yes, all these things influence this.  But, for me, it’s not about any of those things it’s about our kids.  Our kids are asking for our help, they are asking to be safe, they are asking for change.  Adults can continue to push them aside and ignore them or tell them they don’t understand what they are talking about but keep in mind they won’t be kids forever.  One day they will be the ones leading the country – our response to them now matters.

I certainly don’t have the answer.  Sadly, I don’t think anyone does.  And my opinion or your opinion on gun control, the 2nd Amendment, the NRA, the media, politicians, the President, Republicans and Democrats or conservative ideas and liberal ideas isn’t the answer either.  Everyone has an opinion – what we are lacking are true solutions to the problem.

Disclaimer— if you plan on trolling this blog I won’t respond.  One of the hardest but most important things I’ve learned over the years is not to swing at pitches in the dirt.  Don’t take my silence as weakness I just refuse to trade jabs for the sake of arguing.

Mud and Glitter

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Yesterday was one of those weird 40-degree and sunny days in January.  Which is awesome … if you don’t own a dog.  Because on those weird 40-degree days in January, all the snow and ice and slush that was in your yard has melted and turned the large dirt spot by your fence into a mud pit worthy of a Monster Truck Jam.  Of course, that was the spot all three dogs ran to first yesterday.  As I was wrestling with a 100 lb. bulldog to clean his feet I noticed I was not only cleaning off chunks of mud and grass but there was glitter sprinkled in.  Then I remembered that my son had made a poster to cheer on his friend at her basketball game and she had specifically requested glitter.  In stead of dusting off the extra glitter into the trash can he decided the snow in the back yard was a good place for the glitter.

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The thing is, when I was cleaning mud and glitter off twelve paws I thought that it was a perfect description of so many things in my life.  My personality – Mud and Glitter.  My writing – Mud and Glitter.  My dogs – Mud and Glitter (and Mud).  My kids – Mud and Glitter (you two can fight over who’s glitter and who’s mud).

But it also is a great intro for what my Blog was originally going to be about today.  The original blog started off with the sentence, “If you ever want to see the worst human behavior go to the car wash on a sunny day in January or Costco on a Saturday afternoon.”

The car wash seemed like a good idea until I actually got in line.  I knew it would be busy because the temperature was blistering 32 degrees and it was sunny – I was prepared for busy.  I was not prepared for awful people.  If you haven’t visited a car wash recently there are now four lanes that condense to one.  This alone confuses people; three lanes are for the random sunny day car washers like me (the mud) and then there is an express lane for people who pay a monthly fee for unlimited washes (the glitter).  I chose the shortest of the three lines which I should have known was cosmically stupid.  The person in front of me caused quite a bit of problems and I don’t know why or what the issue was.  But the car wash gal was summoned to the car multiple times and there were receipts flying around – if I had to guess I’d say that they changed their mind about the level of clean they wanted for their truck because in addition to the receipts the car wash gal had to keep soap writing new numbers on the truck.

The back and forth was fine until we got to the front of the line where the parking gate arms allow people in the 4 lines to rotate into one line to go through the car wash.  The gate raised not once but twice while the mind changers were waiting once again for the car wash gal to come back to their car and I assume change the wash type one more time as a new receipt was printed.  I admit, I was irritated.  I watched car after car go into the line and I’m stuck behind the most indecisive person in the world.  It’s not hard, you either want to pay $9 for soap and water or go all out for every type of cleaner and wax known to man for $20.  There’s 2 mid-level choices – I get that, but seriously it should not take 4 times to decide what you want.

Unfortunately, because they waited through two of the gate rotations – it threw the gate rotation into a frenzy.  The gates started getting stuck open or closing too soon.  Then it allowed 4 of the Glitter cars in the Unlimited wash lane go and nobody else.  Finally, the gate raised and the truck in front of me drove through the gate.  Then the gate stuck open.  And the other gates got stuck down.  So unsure what to do I started to proceed through the gate as it slammed down on Elmo’s front bumper and the arm broke completely off.  Luckily Elmo sustained no damage and the employees got the arm off the bumper and waved me on through – mostly because the other lanes were all still stuck down.  Eventually, they had to open all the gates and hope for the best because one indecisive person jammed up the whole works.  I finally made it through the car wash, but I wanted to pull to the side just to double-check that there was no damage from the parking arm coming down.  After double checking I got back into the car and tried to leave, but one of the Unlimited car washers was blocking the exit while going over his freshly washed truck with a chamois.  While waiting in line I saw him pull in, his truck looked like it had just been washed before he got in the line, but whatever if I paid $40 a month I’d wash my truck 3 times a day too.  The thing is I wasn’t irritated that he was detailing his truck, or even that he was blocking the exit – it was that he was totally oblivious to the fact that there were other people waiting for him to move.  Or, maybe he wasn’t oblivious, which means he just thinks his super duty dually extended cab 4×4 is more important than my sporty little Jeep.

He finally moved so I was able to get to the exit only to pull behind a guy driving exactly 8 mph while talking on his phone and the Honda Accord that was about an inch from his bumper with a red angry face and yelling.  Cell phone guy just kept driving at 8 mph… totally unaware that the Honda guy was behind him yelling and I was behind the Honda guy.  He briefly drove into on coming traffic which was fun to watch, then almost hit Honda guy who was trying to pass him on the right, when he attempted to get back in the correct lane.  But the best thing ever was when cell phone guy after cutting off Honda guy cut right in front of me and realized that he was at a stop light that was red and slammed on his brakes.  His brakes worked…. Mine did not.  Well mine did, they just weren’t effective as I was on solid ice.

As I pictured myself slamming into cell phone guy my anti-lock braking system kicked in and for some unknown reason cell phone guy suddenly decided he was turning right and despite the red light turned.  I guess that may have been divine intervention.  I was next to Honda guy, who was still yelling and gesturing at cell phone guy.

Based on this experience I should have said no when my husband wanted to go to Costco, but I relented, and we went.  Every family within a 50-mile radius who has 3-5 children was shopping at Costco.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand you must shop and if you have small children they must go with you.  The first encounter we had was with mom talking on her cell phone in the middle of the aisle, completely stopped, while her three kids kept getting free orange samples.  Like 4 and 5 orange slices a piece to the point where the employee cutting up the oranges had to say, “you need to ask your mom if you can have any more.”  No one else got any orange slices though because the kids kept pushing their way to the front and grabbing more.  The entire time mom was having a very loud and detailed conversation about her plans for the evening that included wearing a super-hot new outfit and getting drunk.

We moved past the fruit to the bakery.  After fighting off two families of five Dave finally got a muffin sample.  It just kept going from sample station to sample station – the mom would approach first followed by the kids and the dad would bring up the rear.  I don’t mind that people brought their kids and were letting their kids get samples, what bothered me was that the parents were being disrespectful of other shoppers.  Sometimes pushing their kids up to the front of the line to get samples of things the kids didn’t even want.  And the sample stations are strategically placed in busy aisles and some of the parents would loiter around the aisle until the next batch of samples were laid out and sent their kids in for seconds.  All of this makes actually shopping very complicated.

I started out accepting it for what it was and laughing it off as much as possible.  We joked about it… commenting on the new trend for parents is to not feed their kids lunch and instead bring them to sample stations at the Costco.  Then I found her.  The one who sent me over the edge.  Her cart parked smack in the middle of a busy main aisle while she walked with her daughter to get a box of 4000 fruit snacks.  I maneuvered around her cart and kept going, then she was behind me.  I stopped to get a box of pretzels and was trying to see the price.  She huffed around me loudly complaining that I had stopped in the middle of the aisle.  That was it, my breaking point.  I said things, things like FUDGE.  Only I didn’t say “Fudge.” I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the “F-dash-dash-dash” word! (to borrow from A Christmas Story).  That made this lady cover her daughter’s ears and run away from me in horror (Insert eye roll – like she’s never said it!).  I was the mud…. She was the glitter – at least in her version of the story.

I find more and more that people are either so self-absorbed they don’t notice the other people around them or they just truly feel they are more important than others in general.  I’m not sure which but as I continue to find these people I definitely lose my glitter.

Sparkle on readers… sparkle on!

From the desk of Mr. Pickles, Esq.

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Bam let me borrow mom’s computer but said I couldn’t tell anybody.  So I found this thing called a blog… I’m not sure what it is but I like to talk about myself so I think this is perfect for me.

Some things you should know about me – I’m a two-year old long-haired miniature dachshund who is most famous for being a “good noodle” around the house.  I also speak with a slight nasal inflection so when you’re reading this keep that in mind.  More important information about me….let’s see ….. for a career I’m currently in training to be a SWAT K9 with my girlfriend, Killer, who is a German Shepherd.  Killer broke up with me earlier this year because mom wouldn’t let me keep the baby bunny I caught and killed to show her.  I told mom it was homework for SWAT dog school, but she still took it away from me.  But I’m so irresistible Killer took me back and she’s my girlfriend again.

For fun I chase tree rats….uh squirrels … in our back yard.  Even Princess can’t catch them so I don’t feel bad that I haven’t caught one yet.  And after the scuffle this summer with the raccoon, Bam no longer assists us in ridding the back yard of wildlife.  The raccoon did scratch his ear and he’s not getting any younger so I totally understand.  I recently took up Yoga – I’m awesome at downward facing dog.

Mom had a list thing that was sitting by her computer and it said “Replace New Years Resolutions With This.”  I think I’m going to take a crack at this, but I don’t know what a Resolution is.  Oh well here we go:

A bad habit I’m going to break.  Hmmmm…. I have no bad habits.  I mean sure I grab the dish towel off the stove and carry it around the house, jump up on the dining room table, growl at mom when she hasn’t fed me in a timely fashion, chew on mom’s house shoes and knock the trash over.  But those things aren’t really habits per se.  Nope I’m good on this one.

A new skill I’m going to learn.  Mixed martial arts or French culinary school.  I’d really like to learn how to make Coquilles Saint-Jacques and Baked Camembert.

A person I hope to be more like.  Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, I mean I’m totally like him now, totally buff and athletic and funny.  I just need to be more famous.  Maybe Justin Timberlake, I’d really like to up my singing game.

A good deed I’m going to do.  This one is tough.  Maybe I’ll help Dawson deliver Meals on Wheels one day.  I think I’d be good at that.  I mean after all what could go wrong with me in a van full of food?

A place I’d like to visit.  I’m really bad with locations but I’d be pretty happy with anyplace that has cookies.  Or maybe Canada because I want to see a Moose.

A book I’d like to read.  Uh… I really can’t read.

A letter I’m going to write.  I’m going to write a love letter to Killer.  And then maybe the Queen of England because I want to talk to her about validating the ESQ after my name (in England it means you’re training to be a Knight).

A new food I’m going to try.  Mom always says I can’t eat chocolate…. So that’s out.  But I’m pretty much willing to eat anything.

I’m going to do better at.  SWAT dog training, I still must make up for the missing bunny homework.  And I’m going to be better boyfriend and spoil Killer.

 

Well that’s all mom had listed for her blog so I guess I’ll sign off.

 

Happy New Year!

Mr. Pickles –  out

Pink Ribbons and Pumpkin Spice

It’s the middle of October.  I realize this is not Earth shattering news, but it’s what got me started thinking about this blog.

pink ribbon pumpkin

When I was a kid I used to love the month of October.  Yes, it was partially due to my birthday being in October, but I also loved so many other things that only are done in October.  I loved visiting orchards and pumpkin patches (which as a kid seemed like two different locations but as an adult I’m thinking it was really just one) and my elementary school had a fall festival.  I would plan very elaborate Halloween costumes which was a) silly because I lived in the country and could only trick or treat at about five houses and b) unrealistic as many of my ideas would have required a Tony award-winning costumer.  When I was five my mom made (as in sewed with a sewing machine) me a pumpkin costume and bought me green tights, when I was six she made (again sewed) a witch costume and made a pointy hat and when I was seven she made a Bugs Bunny costume complete with a faux fur head.

October was the best month ever and it ended with my two favorite holidays – my birthday and Halloween.  As a Queen of course, my birthday is a holiday.

Now October is over run with Pumpkin Spice and Pink ribbons.  The first is just a strategic combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and all spice but the way it’s advertised you would think it’s some miraculous super food that everyone must consume in the Fall.  And I won’t lie, I like a Pumpkin Spice Latte or two when they come out however I refuse to buy Pumpkin Spice cookies and candy and cereal and…. the list goes on.

The second is complicated for me.

Pink is one of my favorite colors (duh, my blog is PINKbookdiary).  And breast cancer has taken more from me than you can possibly imagine.  So, you might imagine I have a lot of pink ribbon adorned stuff but here’s where it gets complicated.  I’m not a big fan of all the pink ribbon adorned stuff you can buy in October and I haven’t been for a while – like ten years to be specific.  It’s like the Pumpkin Spice stuff, it started out as a great coffee drink from Starbucks and then everyone had to jump on the bandwagon.  The pink ribbon started out to promote breast cancer awareness when it was an underfunded type of cancer (PS it was originally Peach).  Now you can buy shoes, socks, shirts, pants, lunch boxes, gloves, hats, appliances, pens, stickers, safety pins… do I really need to keep going?  Go to Amazon and search pink ribbon merchandise, there is 20 pages of stuff.

I saw a Facebook post the other day from a young woman captioned “Breast Cancer is not Pink Ribbons” and she shared a picture of herself topless revealing two horrific mastectomy scars, she was in the middle of chemo so her IV port was accessed and her bald head was covered by a scarf.  She had a point.  Breast Cancer is ugly and the farthest thing away from a pink ribbon as you can get.

But…… the pink ribbon worked.  Breast cancer is the #1 funded and researched cancer (both by government and not for profit organizations) in the United States, twice as much funding as Prostate Cancer which is the 2nd highest.  And yes, Childhood Cancer – which is like 25 cancers rolled into one title – is still at the bottom of the list receiving 4% of the National Cancer Institute Funding.  That’s when my dislike of pink ribbons began.

So, like many things in my life I have a love/hate relationship with pink ribbons.  And Pumpkin Spice.  And I miss my mom and the October’s of my childhood which were filled with pumpkin patches and orchards and festivals and Halloween costumes that were more than just themed lingerie. I really wanted to insert a line from Mean Girls here, but it’s probably not appropriate given the next sentimental and super emotional part of my blog.

Since it is Breast Cancer awareness month I want to share a poem that I found from 2004 that my mom happened to clip out and give to me but I don’t remember why she gave it to me.  Now it’s her:

I find an old photograph

and see your smile.

As I feel your presence anew,

I am filled with warmth

and my heart remembers love.

I read an old card

sent many years ago

during a time of turmoil and confusion.

The soothing words written then

still caress my spirit

and bring me peace.

I remember who you used to be

the laughter we shared

and wonder what you have become.

Where are you now,

Where did you go,

When the body is left behind

and the spirit is released to fly?

Perhaps you are the morning bird

singing joyfully at sunrise,

or the butterfly that dances

so carelessly on the breeze

or the rainbow of colors

that brightens a stormy sky

or the fingers or afternoon mist

delicately reaching over the mountains

or the final few rays of the setting sun

lighting up the skies

edging the clouds with a magical glow.

I miss your being

but I feel your presence,

in whatever form you choose to take,

however you choose to be.

Your spirit has become for me

a guardian angel on high

guiding, advising and watching over me.

I remember you

You are with me

and I am not afraid.

~Kristi A Dyer

OK so now you’re in tears, well I’m in tears, so Mean Girls it is:

 

Topless burgers and 20 years

burger

In the 20 years we’ve been married my husband and I have enjoyed some unique experiences while dining out.  Well, let me rephrase that, dining out with my husband can be a unique experience.  It all started shortly after we were married.  We took a little weekend get-away to the Mammoth Cave area and at one point during the trip we went to Bowling Green.  We stopped at a Ponderosa to eat, now I know what you’re probably thinking, but keep in mind it was 20 years ago, we were young and mostly broke.  And of course, Ponderosa advertised an “All You Can Eat” steak special which attracts my husband like a moth to a flame.  So one steak down and another on his plate he started steak number two and after one bite his face said it all…. Something was really wrong.  He started desperately searching for his napkin and I’m pretty sure he was turning green.  He spit what was in his mouth into the napkin and reached for his drink that the waitress had just taken away for a refill.  He sprinted to the bathroom.  When he returned he stated his steak was rancid and we were leaving.  I think he told the waitress something was wrong and she offered to bring him a new one but he declined.  After shoving the remainder of my salad into my mouth (I skipped the all you can eat steak) and we left, the entire rancid all you can eat steak still sitting on the plate.

That was where it started.  Prior to that I can’t remember any “gee you should write this down” moments in a restaurant with him.

There have been several since.  Most of which have made it to this blog.  Including most notably the day he took me to lunch at the sushi place.  But there are a few undocumented ones as well, for instance did you know that Bob Evans doesn’t serve corn?  Nope no corn on the menu at Bob Evans.  He’ll tell you the story every time you pass a Bob Evans and sometimes you don’t even have to be near one for him to bring it up.  Or better yet, 20 years later, we still re-live the Ponderosa story at least once a year if we pass a sign for one.

So it should’ve come as no surprise to me when for lunch on our 20th Anniversary get away weekend we had yet another of our somewhat infamous restaurant incidents.  We were just a little hungry, so I suggested a small little sandwich shop since we were going to have a big dinner later that evening.  The sandwich shop is in the basement of a larger restaurant…. I didn’t really think that option through very well.  We were 2nd in line for a table behind “Carmel Dad” and his wife and daughter.  Yes I nicknamed him almost immediately, also probably an indication that this was not going to go well.  Carmel Dad was irritated and wasn’t shy about letting anyone know.  I’m not sure how long he had been waiting but a quick scan of the restaurant and there were a few empty tables, and a few that needed dishes cleared away.  So, I started watching the scene unfolding, there were about 4 waitresses, but not one came over to seat anyone and an older gentleman clearing tables.  Then a line started to form at the cash register.  One of the waitresses came over and asked if the first lady was paying by cash or card, the lady offered her bill and a credit card and the waitress announced she could do that but not cash because her dad had the register key.  Before she could swipe the card, the guy clearing tables swooped in and started checking everyone out.  Apparently that was dad and he had the key.

After making his way through the line of people cashing out, he looked at Carmel Dad and asked how many.  “Still three.”  Was Carmel Dad’s answer.  So instead of taking them to one of the tables he had just cleared, the guy went to another table and cleared it, and then another.  At this point I’m pretty sure I should have found a new place to eat, but neither of us were starving and it was kind of starting to become fun to watch.  PS “Carmel Dad” is a totally unfair stereotypical name based on his daughters Guerin Catholic sweatshirt and his head to toe Callaway attire.  He came back and sat Carmel Dad’s family and then the line picked up at the cash register again so I knew despite the now six cleaned off tables we weren’t going to sit down anytime soon.  Oddly the daughter came over and asked if there was just two of us and we said yes and she took us to a table.

Things were starting to look up.  The menu was mostly sandwiches and burgers, but also had breakfast served all day.  We each teeter tottered between breakfast or burgers, I’m not sure why but the sandwiches didn’t sound great.  We both picked cheeseburgers and potato rounds.  Then my husband decided to go to the bathroom.  This is when it started.  When he returned he informed me that to get to the bathroom you have to go out the back door and up 9 stairs, I wasn’t tracking what his point was because I was pretty sure we had to go down 9 stairs to get to the front door when we came in.  That’s when he told me if something happened, like a kitchen fire, our only means of egress was the getting up those 9 stairs, either in the front or the back.

exit signs

I smiled.  Maybe I sighed.  Despite the flashbacks of the “gas leak” at the sushi place that were flooding my brain I managed to take a quick scan of the surroundings and lay out my plan for escape to satisfy him.  More than likely I would head for the back stairs because they were closer even though they were also closer to the kitchen and the likely source of the “fire.”  And to be quite honest there was only a table of older ladies and a mom with her six-year-old between me and the stairs and I was fairly certain I could beat them all to the back steps.  I know that’s awful, right?  I’m sure I would assist them all before making my way up the stairs.  It didn’t dawn on me at the time because it was a bright sunshiny day, but I should have pointed out we were in the safest place possible for severe weather.

Did I mention that I spent the entire week before our trip in Emergency Management and Planning classes?  I think I was just on emergency situation overload so mostly my plan for lunch was just … lunch and not Escape Planning 101.  I diverted his attention by having him watch the owner go back and forth between clearing tables and cashing people out and decorations which were all IU.  Mostly Bobby Knight, it was a Bobby Knight shrine actually.  Then he got distracted by Super Loud Guy who was talking a lot and loud enough for everyone to hear.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining either, I was actually enjoying myself.  There was a couple of times I had to stop myself from laughing because I knew if I started it would be that uncontrollable laughter with tears and shaking and snorting.  Super Loud Guy was commenting about his food, Carmel Dad was still grouchy despite having his food, and our waitress kept telling everyone that her dad would check them out at the register because he had the key, which is when my emergency skills kicked in (finally) because I wanted to tell her to stop saying that because if anyone wanted to rob them they would know exactly who has the cash register key.  And this is what it’s like to eat with the Baughn’s.

So with no robbery or fire on the horizon (don’t you feel sorry for our kids?) our food came and the burgers looked good, because we could see them because there was no top bun.  Odd.  Maybe the top bun is under the burger.  Nope… no top bun there.  Neither of us really said anything for about a minute as we were both thinking the same thing and searching under the potatoes for the top bun.

“So, are there no top buns?” he asked.

“Doesn’t look that way does it?  Did they say they were open-faced sandwiches?”

“No.  Well, great I wanted a topless burger for lunch…. Guess we’re low carbing.”

“Um… at least your cheese is normal.”

“True.”

Let me tell you about the cheese.  I ordered hot pepper cheese with the assumption it was just another term for pepper jack.  You know the nice sliced Monterey Jack with a few red and green peppers tossed in?  Nope my burger was topped with half melted shredded cheddar cheese with diced jalapeno.  Which I could clearly see because it was topless.  I wondered if they just ran out of buns, my husband wondered where all the bun tops were.

We ate our burgers which were good, and for me a lot more spicy than planned.  I mean I can’t complain about the food, just a little shocked at their definition of hot pepper cheese and still curious about the buns.  We looked around at the Bobby Knight shrine and when we were done we went to the register, to pay our waitresses dad, because he had the key to the register.  And we made it up the nine stairs to street level to finish our day.

It has been an amazing and adventurous 20 years!  And I’m still not looking for the exit!