Sunday, May 28, 2023

Thankful For Our Freedom And Then Some

Last weekend's Ten Things of Thankful was really just one big thankful that I had survived what I THOUGHT was catastrophic car problems and which turned out to be, um, a little less serious than that. You can read it here if you haven't already.

This week's list will be anticlimactic by comparison, but I'm not complaining!

I'm thankful for fresh strawberries It's that time of year!

I'm thankful for strawberry shortcake made with those fresh strawberries.

I'm also thankful for strawberry pretzel salad, which is NOT made from fresh strawberries but from frozen ones, but it's rich and delicious (and not a salad at all, really), and I was able to satisfy a craving for it this weekend

I'm thankful for delightful weather this past week and weekend. Warm, sunny days. Cool, breezy nights.

I'm thankful for walks around the neighborhood in beautiful weather, especially when they include long visits with neighbors.

I'm thankful one of my favorite thrift stores has their books priced at 5/$1.00. I bought 15 books, all of them brand new and from Dolly Parton's  Imagination Library

I'm thankful for season passes to Silver Dollar City. We ran out there this afternoon to see The Cleverlys, a bluegrass band that we are very fond of and which was playing this weekend as part of the Bluegrass & BBQ festival. We're even thinking about running out there again tomorrow morning to see their first set.

I'm thankful the cats are getting along this weekend. Our grandcat Calvin has been staying with us for a few days, and we were able to nab him (actually, he's easy to nab) plus Nora Pearl and Lewis (more of a challenge to nab), load them into their carriers, and bring them with us to the lake house. They are being quite harmonious. Finn declined to join us on this trip, hiding under the bed when he realized what was going down, then slithering out to locations unknown when I tried to reach him from his spot exactly in the middle underneath the queen-sized bed. I know HE will be thankful when we get home.

Nora Pearl without a worry in the world

I'm thankful my dad has finally agreed to use a walker to get around the house instead of pushing a rolly office chair in front of him, which is obviously not a safe choice.

I'm thankful that my dad wasn't hurt worse than he was when he, and I quote him, "shot off the end of the treadmill" at cardiac rehab. He was trying to set the machine to 1.5 mph and instead hit 15 mph. He also forgot to clip himself to the treadmill. He has a scrape on his elbow and is plenty sore all over, but that seems to be the worst of it, and hopefully, he learned a lesson!

I'm thankful for all who gave their lives for our country and whom we honor this Memorial Day.

You can still join in on this week's Ten Things of Thankful! Write a list and link up! And be looking for our 10th Birthday Bash at the TToT set for the weekend of June 9-11!

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Sunday, May 21, 2023

When Bad Things Happen To Daffy People

Well, LAST weekend, I thought Sunday was second Saturday because I don’t work on Mondays during the summer and this makes sense to ME but probably not to you. Bottom line: forgot to post a Ten Things of Thankful.

THIS weekend, I am in Nashville, staying with my Person, Terri, and having lots of girl time. I had lunch today with my friend Janice. Yesterday, Terri and I had lunch with our old buddy Larry. Tonight, we are hanging out with Marianne. There will be much laughing, talking, and eating over the next couple of days, and my cup will be full. There’s much to be thankful for in all this, but I got one even bigger thankful to share. Here’s the story:

I left really early for my lunch date with Janice today; so early, in fact, that I decided to go get that pesky low tire pressure light checked out. Through a series of unfortunate events, my five minute tire pressure check turned into an hour long ordeal of stuck caps on the stemmy part of the tire and a broken tire sensor (their fault, not mine), and I was running late to meet Janice.

When the tire sensor was finally repaired, I had five minutes to make a 15 minute drive. I told Janice I was on my way, hopped on the freeway, and floored it (NOTE: I believe I have been late every single time I have EVER gotten together with Janice over the past 35 years, so she couldn't have been terribly surprised by this).

I was booking it down the interstate when there was a terrible THUNK sound from somewhere within the car, it began to shake, and then drastically slow down. I had no power anything, particularly steering, but I managed to wrestle the enormous beast to the shoulder before rolling to a stop. 

I was terrified.

I messaged Janice first and told her what happened, my entire body trembling as cars sped past me. I finally reached a person at AAA when a small truck pulled up behind me. I panicked further, thinking it was some scammer who was going to offer to fix my car for an exorbitant amount of money. "It says "TOOT HELP" in the front window, but I'm scared," I told the AAA woman. Waaaaait a minute. NOT "TOOT" but "TDOT"! It was someone from the Tennessee Department of Transporation! I was saved!

I accidentally hung up on the AAA woman as my knight in a shining TDOT uniform flipped on the giant detour arrow on the back of his truck and came to my window to see what the problem was. I described the thunk and the car dying. He looked under the hood to check the battery connection, then had me try to start the car. It made weird starty noises, but that was it. "Could be a fuel line problem," he said. "Maybe your fuel pump. You wouldn't be low on gas, would you?" 

"The fuel light was on," I told him, "but it's showing I have 1/8 of a tank of gas, so it can't be that." 

"I'm just going to put a little gas in the tank and see if that helps at all," he said. He poured some gas in the tank, asked me to try starting it again, and....


"Hmmm," I said, then hid my face in the steering wheel.

"Aw, it happens," the TDOT guy said as a second TDOT truck pulled up behind him. "I'm going to follow you to the nearest gas station. Wait, on second thought, you follow me and this guy will follow you."

And so I was escorted back onto the freeway and to the nearest gas station (an Exxon, which I ordinarily boycott because Valdez oil spill, but I had to sacrifice my personal convictions this one time for a full tank gas), a little parade with me flanked by two TDOT vehicles, giant arrows flashing, all the way to the gas station. Terri met me there to make sure everything was okay (it was), my hero checked under the hood one more time, and after the car triumphantly started with a tummy full of gas, he rode off into the sunset, but not before I gave him a giant hug. God bless TDOT and God bless my hero of the highway!

A file photo from TDOT showing the two types of
roadside assistance vehicles that made up my 
motorcade to the Exxon station

I made it to lunch only an hour late, and I'd like to say Janice was surprised by this as much as she was by the crazy events of  the morning, but nah (I once accidentally threw my fork out the restaurant window when we were having lunch). Really, no one was, including my new friend from TDOT.

No friends like old friends

If you happened to read my A to Z Challenge entry for "X" you may notice some striking coincidences between this story and that one....

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Sunday, May 7, 2023

Aunt, Ants, and Antics

You know you're getting old when writing a blog post every day for a month leaves you physically exhausted as though you had done a triathlon or something. Not that I ever would do a triathlon, or even know what one is, exactly, but I was trying to think of something that sounded really physically demanding. The A to Z Challenge is over for another year. though, and I can go back to my slovenly writing habits, and I'll start with this week's Ten Things of Thankful.

1. My niece got married last weekend, and I was blessed to be able to contribute to her day by helping with flowers (I know nothing about flower arranging, but by golly, I arranged some flowers!) and anything else that came up. Congratulations and best wishes to Maggie and Ryan!

My daughter with her cousins Drew and Eli

With my mini me

Final touch put on the bouquets

The newlyweds

2. Shout out to Airbnb for never letting me down with accommodations. 

3. Our Airbnb had three bedrooms with comfy beds, so my husband, daughter, and I each had our own big bed that we didn't have to share. It was delightful! It's amazing how well I sleep when I'm not sharing a bed with three large cats and an even larger husband.

4. I found a dollar in the bottom of my purse when I was frantically searching for my work keys. 

5. I found the work keys in a different bag.

6. I found my ear buds that I didn't know I had lost when I found the work keys.

7. I don't think anything else is missing at this time.

8. I have ants in my kitchen as I do every spring, but this time, the Terro seems to be working. Last year they lapped it up, fell in it drunk, ran back and got their friends to come to the party, and never died unless I squished them with my finger until I treated the outside foundation of the house. 

9. I'm thankful for salad kits from Aldi and Walmart. They're tasty, quick, and I'm putting something in my body that actually comes from a food group.

10. I had a marvelous time doing backstage security at a Jesse McCartney concert Friday night at the university where I work. All employees got an email asking for volunteers, and my friend and I signed up for the security job as soon as the email landed in our inbox. Whoosh - we were in! We had way too much fun pretending to be tough and grateful that we didn't actually have to do anything remotely tough.

Stabby pen and walkie talkies 

No one dared rush the stage with us there....

This would be Jesse McCartney

And this would be us taking selfies
instead of protecting Jesse McCartney

I hope you had more antics than ants in your week. If you've never joined the Ten Things of Thankful, please consider it next weekend! 

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Sunday, April 30, 2023

Z is for Zoo


#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter Z

The Kansas City Zoological Gardens was proposed in 1907 and built in 1909 in Swope Park. It opened with four lions, three monkeys, a wolf, a fox, a coyote, a badger, a lynx, an eagle, and other birds. It is now a 200 acre nature sanctuary called the Kansas City Zoo, home to over 1,700 animals representing more than 200 species, and their mission is to connect people to each other and the natural world to promote understanding, appreciation and conservation. 

I grew up going there with my family, and in first grade, we went to the zoo on a field trip. Any trip to the zoo (and this was in the 1960s) included taking a bag of large marshmallows to feed to the animals.

For real.

Giraffes especially loved them, and it was fun watching them reach their purple tongues out to take them from your hand.

Somewhere along the way, the zoo keepers or veterinarians decided (and rightly so) that human food is not healthy for the animals. Each animal has specific nutritional needs, and marshmallows are not one of those needs.

I'll bet the animals were sad when the "Don't Feed The Animals" rule went into effect, but I'll also bet they lived longer and had better teeth because of it.

Y is for You’d Think


#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter Y

My niece Maggie is getting married today. I have known about this for quite a few months, and more importantly, I’ve known about it since I signed up for the A to Z Challenge just over a month ago. You would think, then, that I had my post for today already written and ready to go, wouldn’t you? 

Yeah, I don’t. 

I’m writing this on my phone while I take a quick break from tying ribbon on each of the bridal party bouquets. The tables are decorated. The girls are finishing up hair and make up and will be getting into their dresses soon. The guys are just hanging out and will spend five minutes throwing on their suits and be ready to roll.

So nothing here except best wishes to Maggie and Ryan for a beautiful life together!

Z you real soon!

Friday, April 28, 2023

X is for Extremely Wrong About THAT


#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter X

I spent my freshman year in college car-less. It wasn't much of a problem, since I lived on campus and could ride home for a weekend and back with any number of friends I knew from my home town, and there wasn't an extra car in our family for me to have anyway.

The summer after my freshman year, I chose to move into an apartment with my friend Lagena instead of moving home. I was definitely going to need a car to get to school and to my job, and it so happened my parents had a drastic life change that included my dad getting a new vehicle to drive, so I inherited his 1970 Chevrolet Nova. (I wrote about learning to drive its stick shift here if you would like to read it.) It was 9 years old at this time and had seen things, but I was comfortable with it and it got me where I needed to go, except the day it didn't.

Because it was 9 years old, parts had begun to go south on it, and on one of my visits home, my dad said he thought the fuel pump might be going out, whatever THAT meant. I really never gave it another thought, or at least not for months.

One very cold and rainy November morning, I was driving from my apartment to school for an 8:00 a.m. class. There were not only students heading to campus but people just headed to work, and the rain was causing traffic congestion, especially at the always busy intersection of Cherry and National, just a few blocks from campus. I inched forward with everyone else, hoping to make the next light so I wouldn't be late to class, when my car died. It's pretty easy to accidentally kill a car engine with a manual transmission; I know, because I did it often. But when I tried to start the car, the engine just sputtered and refused to turn over. In the meantime, the light had turned green, and there I sat, blocking traffic with a dead car. This is it, I thought to myself. The fuel pump has finally bitten the dust.

A man in a car behind me either took pity on me or really needed to get to work, and he approached my car and asked what the trouble was.

"It's the fuel pump," I replied. 

"Are you sure?" he asked, looking at the dashboard of my car. "Your fuel gauge is showing it's below empty. Sure you're not just out of gas?"

"No," I said sadly, "It goes way below empty all the time. I'm sure it's the fuel pump. My dad said it was going out."

"I'm going to push your car through the intersection to get it out of the way," he said, and he did, and when I was safely pulled over on the side of the street, the man said, "I'm going to go get a little gas and just see if that might help."

"It won't," I thought to myself, but I sat there and waited for him (not that I had any other choice; I had already missed my 8:00 class and it was still raining). He was back within ten minutes with a gallon of gas which he poured into my tank.

"Try it now," he said, and I turned the key and the car started immediately.

"Guess it wasn't the fuel pump," I said to the man, grinning sheepishly.

"Not this time," he said. "Don't let your tank get so empty again and be careful!" 

With that, he was gone.

And did I learn my lesson about letting the tank get below empty?

Sadly, I did not.

Not my car, but close. Harvest gold. Can you dig it?

Thursday, April 27, 2023

W is for Wienermobile


#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter W

Back in January 2019, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw that one of the local television stations posted a story saying Oscar Mayer was looking for applicants to be a Hotdogger (I'm not kidding) and drive the Wienermobile for a one-year, full-time, paid assignment. 

How cool would that be?!

I went to their website and checked the requirements: outgoing, creative, friendly, enthusiastic, appetite for adventure, willing to drive around the country in the Wienermobile as a brand ambassador of Oscar Mayer through radio, television, newspaper, and personal appearances. 

I could do that!

BA or BS, preferably in marketing, public relations, journalism, advertising, or communications, but applicants not limited to these degrees. 

Perfect, because while I don't have one of those degrees that I am not limited to, but I DO have a BS in Elementary Education!

Traveling to big cities and small towns for special events all over the country.

I LOVE to drive and visit new places!

Organize promotions, coordinate with media, handle public relations.

Pssshhh! In previous jobs, I coordinated photo shoots and recording sessions for country music artists AND I have wrangled children as a teacher for over 20 years. Piece of cake!

I sent them a cover letter that was sure to get me hired:

I would love to be your next hotdogger! I realize there is a lot of competition for this job, particularly since the announcement went viral over social media, but I believe I am just what you need.

Here is what I can bring to the job as an Oscar Mayer Hotdogger:

  • I love to drive. Our family vacations are driving vacations, with the trip being just as important as the destination.
  • I have a clean driving record. I don't speed, and I know when to use my turn signals.
  • I don't drink, I don't smoke, and I don't do drugs.
  • I'm used to working with children, plus I know how to pose them for pictures.
  • I have a Bachelor's degree, and although it is not in a business field, I believe my eclectic work experience makes up for that.
  • I have appeared on local television morning shows to speak about community events in which I was involved, as well as been interviewed by the local newspaper.

My kids are away at college, and my husband has said he would be fine if I got the job. This is, in part, because he doesn't think I have a real chance to get it, but I believe he is wrong.

And I waited. And waited. And waited. 

And they never got back to me.


Yes, I'm still bitter.

I went to the Oscar Mayer Wiener Tour Site as I was writing this post, and when I could tell they had revamped the job description, adding wording like "contributing to brand social content". But they changed something ELSE that wasn't there when I applied, and that is adding the words, "graduating college seniors" to the job requirements.

My husband has theorized that they added the part about graduating college seniors because they got an application and resume from a crazy middle-aged woman when they expected this to appeal to a younger crowd. Their loss.

You missed out, Oscar Mayer. I would have been the best Hotdogger you ever had!

This. Should have. Been. Me.