Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Second Act

The other day at work, a woman came in and bought a pair of jeans.  They were a very hip, skinny jean treated with a sparkly taupe color.  Of all the things there were to choose from that is the last thing I thought she'd buy, but she had plans for those jeans and a New Year's Eve party.

She was 91.

Last week our local paper had a story about a woman who was a customer where I used to work.  In a conversation I had with her I found out she volunteered in the inner city.  The program is called The Front Porch Alliance and Betty is one of a group of people who developed and has fostered a partnership with the residents of this low income area.  They provide tutors for school-age kids, home repairs, fitness and gardening classes as well as counseling on finances - particularly payday loans that target these neighborhoods.  She has been a fixture there for years.

Betty is a grandmother many times over.

Today's paper had a story on SueEllen Fried.  Ms Fried has made it her life's work to educate kids about bullying.  She is a rock star in this area and if you ever heard her speak (like I did several years ago) you would not forget her message.  Empathy, kids, you've got it.  Use it, stand up for each other.  Don't let one kid attack another and do nothing.  You are not helpless.  You have a voice.  Besides working in schools, she started another program in prisons.  Nearly every person behind bars has been a victim of physical, verbal and/or sexual abuse.  The anger that rages from them has everything to do with these unaddressed issues.  This program teaches them how to recognize and address those feelings so that they don't resort to violence.  Inmates who have attended 60+ hours of this program have a recidivism rate of 8%.

SueEllen is 80.

Earlier this month when Nancy Pelosi was introducing dozens of new congresswoman, Luke Russert asked her to address concerns that she was too old to be the minority leader again and that perhaps it was time she stepped aside for someone younger. 

The woman who is the same age as Harry Reid and two years older than Mitch McConnell could barely hide her disdain.........for the kid with the last name that opened the reporter door was painfully ignorant of how confident women become when their first career was raising people.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reserved Parking Only

This is a repeat from last year..........probably one of my favorites because sadly, it is an accurate description of immaturity.

I may have mentioned a time or twenty that The Big Daddy and I are from the Chicago area.   As you know, they get some mighty wintry winters.  What you may not know is that if you are a Chicagoan, and you shovel a space for your car, say in front of your house, and say you set up some 2 x 4s propped on some webbed lawn chairs, say in January, it means that you have reserved that area and are the rightful owner.   The law may say that it is public property, but street law says it belongs to the shoveler.  Messing with it and thinking you can park in a space you did not clear could get you one of those 2 x 4s upside the head.

When all three kids were really little, there was a new store opening in town called HQ.  It was like Home Depot, but more designery.  The Big Daddy offered it up for the team and agreed to take the kids and I there for a fun family outing on opening weekend with thousands of other people.  We circled the lot forever and finally found someone who was leaving.  The BD turned his blinker on and we patiently waited for them to pull out.  As they did, another driver whipped around the corner and beat us to the spot.  "SON OF A BITCH", The Big Daddy yelled.  "DID YOU SEE WHAT THAT BASTARD JUST DID?"  Oh my God, he stole his space.  With his blinker on.  He totally ignored Blinker Etiquette.  This was Parking Space War and we waited patiently for the thief to get out of his car so we could lay down some ef bombs. 

With three young children in the backseat.

After a few minutes and off in the distance we could hear sirens and The Little Boy Child said, "That's the police.  They're coming to get that guy and they're going to poke both his eyes out until they bleed and put him in jail for taking our space."     

I'd like to thank the Academy on behalf of The Big Daddy and I for naming us Parents of the Year.  Again.  

A few years later, with the three kids in the car, I was meeting a friend at a festive holiday shopping center for lunch.  We were running late, the parking lot was jammed and I was circling and circling until I finally found a space near the door.  I got all the kids out and an older couple stopped and said, "Didn't you see the sign?  It says compact cars only."  Well, no, I didn't see the sign and there was my minivan and geez, it wasn't even a tight fit.  Kids, I said, we're just gonna leave it there.  The Teacher Girl was in a Mother Theresa phase and said, "No, Mom, you can't.  We'll get in trouble for not following the rules."  Oh, for God's sake.  I put all the kids back in the car and looked for a regular space.  A minivan space.  Which is how I scraped the entire driver's side when I pulled in too close to a concrete pole.

We got into the shopping center and I was so rattled and stressed that I needed a drink or three.  Instead I sat with my friend and six kids with a paper engineer hat on my head waiting for my burger and fries to be delivered by a choo choo train.  That I thought about punching.  I told her about my mishap with the pole and my encounter with the Parking Lot PoPo.  

When we were leaving, I happened to spot Deputy Fife and The Mrs. and stopped them for "a moment of their time."  That's when I told them that when I moved my car the entire side was hit and maybe they should mind their own beeswax when it comes to people parking their car.  I did leave out the fact that it was me pulling in too close to a pole that caused this crime against my car because I like to blame other people when I mess up.   "Oh my, oh dear," the Mrs. said,  "Are the children o.k.?"

What are you talking about lady???  What children???   Oh, ya mean those three watching Mom get her crazy on.

As we enter the hap-happiest time of the year, it's all about parking, parking lots, parking etiquette.  For The Big Daddy and I, it means working hard to suppress that Chicago thing that's in our DNA.  Oh, but our hearts sure would be glowing with holiday greetings if only we could bring our lawn chairs and 2 x 4s to those gay happy meetings at the mall.

Source: via Mady on Pinterest

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Late Shift

For the holidays, the store is now open until 9:00.  That would be p.m. when I am usually in my p.j.s. 

Jude and I worked the late shift together on Monday.  During those evening hours, we had about six people come in the door.  One was drunk.

We straightened and dusted, refolded, checked the emails, spritzed the greenery, had some tea and talked. 

Did I tell you about the pie I made for Thanksgiving?  Apple, wasn't it?  Yeah you told me.

Should I get a real tree or fake this year?  I thought you were doing fake.

Oh yeah.

I think I might get this sweater.  I thought you decided not to.

Oh yeah.

Have you seen Lincoln yet?  No.

What do you think Hilary Clinton is going to do next?  I don't know.

Did you see both episodes of The Dust Bowl or just the first part?  Both.

I think I'd have gone mad with all that dust.  Yeah, you said that the other day.

Did you see that video of the dog and baby talking to each other?  No.

I can't decide if I like Real Simple Magazine?  Sometimes they have good recipes.

I know but all that organizing drives me nuts.  Yeah.

Is Modern Family going to be new this week?  I don't watch that.

You should.  It's really funny.  I know.  I forget.

Did you ever wear tights that you have to yank up about every thirty seconds?   Yes.

I think they're making me insane.  Yes.

A mere two days later and Jude and I will be working together again tonight.  Not a single thing has happened to me since then so I think I'll tell her the story about the time Jimmy Castelnuovo tripped me in Sister Morrison's 4th grade class.

I'm pretty sure he did it to see my underpants.  I'm pretty sure she'll find it fascinating.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Running Late

I've been on a work bender lately and it is only the beginning of the holiday season.  Oy.  Every time I dip my toe into the retail world, I wonder what the heck I was thinking.  The ridiculous holiday hours, the standing, the lousy pay, the hand holding and counseling that goes into selling.  If customers could read my mind they might hear me saying..................

You do know that this is not the radiation versus chemo dilemna, but rather a skirt?

On Sunday, I was running late because I didn't want to go to work.  I wanted to stay in some sweat pants and not put on makeup.  I wanted to vacuum the swirling dog hair and do some laundry with football as the background noise.  I didn't want to make small talk, offer everyone who walked in the door a cup of coffee or explain the current discount. 

I was on the 3rd floor of the parking garage and flying down the stairs with a young one who was also late to his job.  We commiserated about working all weekend and then ran off in different directions.  In front of our store was a guy pushing a cart of vegetables into the barbecue restaurant next door and he laughed when he saw me. "You late, honey?"

Yes, Honey was late because she forgot that it is a gift to be useful.  That sometimes the right skirt makes things better so careful thought must go into the selection.  That there are plenty who would love the chance to earn a paycheck.

Honey needed a guy pushing lettuce uphill to remind her.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Link To My Life

This is the link to the highlights of Maggie and Nate's wedding.  Besides being alumni of KState, this photographer and videographer have been friends of theirs for a long time. They are kind and fun and oh so very talented.

When my kids were growing up, I never discussed with them what their wedding might look like.  It seemed so far off and I thought we'd get them all through college before we'd even have to think about that for any of them.  Little did we know that Nathan would come along, and besides sweeping Maggie off her feet, he'd sweep the rest of us as well.

You will see many of the people I've written about for the last two years.  The family, friends and neighbors who are dear to us.  The Queen Mum and Mark's Queen Mum.  Our house and neighborhood, my hydrangeas.  Nate's parents and siblings who we adore.  The church we go to, our siblings, nieces and nephews.  My sweet hairdresser.

You will see Mark who gave the most poignant, honest toast and though he is often in the path of my snarkiness, he and I have always seen eye-to-eye on the big stuff of life.

This is the story of the beginning of a marriage and other big stuff.  Big stuff like a day to celebrate love...........and maybe I never talked to the kids about their wedding day because I couldn't even fathom something so lovely.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

All Roads...............

The company I am working for has two stores in the same city.  One will close in March, hence the opening of the second one to become the permanent location.  The stores are approximately five miles apart and all of the employees work both locations.

They are very different spaces.  One store is big, the other more going from a regulation field to the park district lot.  Because we are constantly moving between the two, we all have trouble finding things.  You may know exactly where the bootcut cords are at one store and be circling all day to find it in another.  Add to that, the nature of retail is to shake it up all the time.  Move the merch.  Get the coats up front when it's cold, then replace them a week later with party dresses now that the holidays are here.

There have been times when I am driving to one store and am uncertain if I am even going to the right place.  The schedule now is made out well into December and I often don't know what week it is let alone where I am supposed to be.

It can be unnerving to the anal retentive likes of me, but I've become accustomed to being confused.  Sometimes I ask for help, sometimes I just keep circling.   All I care about is that at the end of the confusion the road leads me home.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rated G

I was trolling Craigslist the other morning on the ipad to see what's out there as far as jobs.  I am not looking presently, but my current employment will end in March and so I surf around to see who advertises for help and what they are looking for.  One of the listings was for a water softener salesperson.

Just then The Big Daddy came through and I asked him to rub my shoulder.  The one that hurts all the time.  That feels like a pinched nerve under my shoulder blade and needs a live-in massage therapist for it to get better.  He noticed what was on the ipad.

"'re gonna go door-to-door selling water?"

And then he laughed.

He laughed for too long.

That was the start of the verbal turd flinging at one another like monkeys stuck in the same cage for too long.   As is frequently the case with us, we kept at it until we'd sufficiently pissed each other off first thing in the morning.

He went upstairs to take a shower, turned around and said, "You'll never find another guy who can rub your G-Spot like I can."

What did you say?

"You heard me."

That would explain why I can't get no satisfaction.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Checkers & Baggers

When the last of her kids was in high school, Mom decided she was going to get a job.  For years she was a faithful shopper at Walt's Food Center.  You can't beat Walt's meat!  She knew everyone who worked there including the manager of customer service, and so she filled out an application after a thirty year plus absence from the work force and Phyllis hired her to be a bagger.

She worked a few days a week and always had a good story to tell about her day. One time, the employees were asked to remind customers not to leave their purses in their cart unattended as there had been some thefts in the store.  Some woman told Mom not to worry because the Blessed Mother would watch over it and Mom said, "I'll be darned.  I thought she was too busy for that sort of thing."  She was often chastised by the old ladies to not pack their bags too heavy and she said, "I always wanted to tell those old bats that I was lifting those bags into carts all day long and I'd have to be an idiot to pack them heavy."

Despite that, she loved working there and these many years since she still sees her Walt's friends once in awhile.

Because of that experience, she has always told me that I should work in a grocery store.  You'll never be bored, she says.  I know, Mom, but I don't think it's for me.  You should try it.  That's o.k. Mom.   When I was looking for a job she'd tell me to check out the grocery store.  Just until something else comes along, but you'll probably like it so much you'll never leave.  O.k., Mom, I'll think about it.   Then she'd call and ask if I decided to apply at the grocery store.  Not yet, Mom.

This fall, Will was in need of employment at school and applied at the grocery store.  He was hired and works one shift a week as a bagger and on the weekends demonstrating food.  I know.  It cracks me up.  

He loves it.  He loves his fellow employees.  He loves the customers.  He loves cooking up some tilapia in an electric fryer and serving it to shoppers.  He loves when they pile some in their cart.  He loves helping himself to the veggies in the produce department and making some concoction that will move those mushrooms out the door.

I have kept Mom up-to-date on her grocery store employed grandson and she couldn't be happier.  I thought it would be enough, but is it ever when it's your mom?

"Kath, get yourself an application the next time you go to the store.  Fill it out.  Tell them your mother worked at a grocery store."

So I've heard, Mom.  So I've heard.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


We live within walking distance of a small shopping center here in Mayberry.  It is a handy thing to have close by with a grocery store, bakery, hardware store and other mostly small, independent businesses.  It is anchored by Macy's.  As Macy's goes this isn't one of their flagship stores, but rather the red-haired stepchild.   While the prime age of their most devoted customer is 105, on occasion they throw something out for the rest of us.

I've been lusting over the cashmere sweaters - carefully folded and on display when the temperature here was still over a hundred.  I would go and visit them and pretend that the $120.00 price wasn't a factor.  What color?  What style?  Would I wear it to the opening of a new art gallery?  Do you have to get an invitation to one of those things or can you just show up?  They serve wine, right?

In an ad for The Biggest Sales Event of the Year, they were reduced to $59.99 during a morning special.  In addition, there was a coupon for $10.00 off, good for the morning only.  $49.99   Hello!!!!!!  I was there by 9:30.  I wandered around and got a couple of things then went to the register, goods and coupon in hand.

That's when I found out that the morning only coupon wasn't good on the morning only specials.   Careful reading of the fine print qualified the savings for about three items in the store.  I had other coupons in my purse and started placing them on the counter.  Something was bound to work and I'll give the associate credit, she tried.  Multiple times.  20% off your entire purchase any day you choose.  I choose today!  $20.00 off any purchase over $50.00.  Yep.

By the time all were scanned, my savings were $2.45, and the cashmere sweater I wanted for months lost its charm without the additional ten bucks knocked off.  

With The Biggest Sales Event of the Year, the holiday shopping season has begun.  Giddyup shoppers.  The deals may be everywhere but saving is just an illusion.

Source: via Felicia on Pinterest

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Perks of Being a Late Bloomer

When our kids went through high school, my goal was to get them graduated without becoming full-blown partyers or sexually active.  I figured that if I could buy that much time, they'd be o.k. going forward in college.  While I am sure they did plenty of things that I am not aware of, they came out level-headed with their morals and brain cells intact.

It was helpful that they were late bloomers.  Boy-girl parties in middle school that some parents encouraged was something I wouldn't agree to and that they weren't comfortable being a part of.   Getting drunk on the weekend is not what the group of friends they hung around with did.

I thank my lucky stars that they were successful.  Many of the kids they know were not, and on the occasion that they would relate stories of teenage escapades that they had heard about, my jaw would drop.

Right on the floor.

Now that Mallie Bee is in college, there are new freshman stories like the girl on her floor that went door-to-door offering tampons to anyone who wanted them as her mother is able to get them for free.  Mal turned them down.   

Why would you do that?   Free, Mal.  Free is good.

This girl had roommate issues early on and before long was trolling the floor looking for a new place to call home.  She was very frank about her quirks and living habits, including that she had a boyfriend and they were sexually active.  One of Mal's friends didn't see that as a stumbling block and took her in.  She has found out that sexually active also means often and indiscreet.

Mal figured that if she took her freebies she'd be indebted to her and that was a road she didn't want to travel.

Late bloomer + astute = smart girl.   Very smart girl.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Squeezing It Out

The Big Daddy and I went to a dinner party for his department.  These are usually pretty fun as he works with some great people.

As things were winding down, we wandered into a discussion about toothpaste.  There are a lot of people who put some serious effort into getting every drop of toothpaste out.  Squeezing, buying special tools, cutting open the tube.   They had all kinds of advice and tips to offer.

Who knew?

That's not so much of a problem in our house, I said.  We have this toothpaste now that oozes out on its own.  The cap is all gunked up and won't close all the way so if you just lay it back in the drawer a glob will form so I take my brush and wipe some of it up to brush.  I don't even have to pick up the tube.  It's quite the time saver especially when you're running late.

And The Big Daddy said, "You do that?  Me too.  High-five me for being a slob!"

I did.  We had a moment.  Tears.


There's the line and then there's us.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Scandal in Mayberry

When I went to the City Council meetings last year which you can read about here, I saw my representatives in action.

One council member chowed down on a plate of spaghetti while listening to the citizens of Mayberry complain and it was a wee bit distracting.   At one point, he got up and went behind a door which I thought meant he was done.  Instead, he came out with another heaping plate.

When I asked somebody about it, they told me that because the council members usually come straight from work to the meetings, the city provides a dinner for them that most eat before the start of the meeting or during breaks.

Said councilman did not adhere to the manners of most.  Now he has gotten himself into some hot water that makes jumping into a pot of the boiling pasta kind look inviting.

He had a friend who was a little down on his luck.  Homeless.  A history of drug use.  A criminal record.  When he inquired of the police department as to what resources were available to help out this friend, they directed him to a shelter in Kansas City.   While that was an option, Spaghettiman instead gave him his access code, and for the better part of a weekend this guy was camping in the comfort of city hall and its municipal buildings.  Why he even invited one of his buddies over to enjoy the facilities.

Why in the world didn't Spaghettiman bring his friend to his own house to spend the weekend instead of housing him in City Hall?

That was never an option.

No.  He could never do something like that.

He lives in his parents basement. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

There........I Said It

The other day I was talking to my sister about our efforts to lose weight.  I don't get it, I said.  Since I started working I am moving all day long - usually eight hour shifts 3-4 times a week and only sitting long enough to eat and then I'm back up again.  And by eat I mean a salad.  Granola bars or fruit for a snack.  Healthy dinner.  No wine.  Oh wine, I miss thee so.   For three days I was looking at a bowl full of Dove chocolates at the register and I never had a single one.

And nothing.  The same two pound fluctuation.  If only it was three pounds then maybe I'd feel encouraged and keep eating those salads.

While I was at it, what about this blog?  I've been stuck at 42 followers forever and how do I crack that nut?  Will it ever inch up?

Two days later, I weighed myself.  There was a THREE pound weight loss and #43 started following me.  Yesterday in the mail came a pair of antlers from my brother and his wife who went over the river and through the woods to find it for me.

The whole month of November is double discount for employees at the store.  I need money. 

A lot more money.

Chicks Rule

When I was a kid growing up, my mom used to go to the Women's Club meetings at church.  Sometimes to a bunco party.  With six kids, she didn't have much opportunity to get out of the house, run the school board or get involved in much more than Scouts and Little League.

You don't manage a house with that many people in it and not be more than capable, but she was never asked.

When I was in high school, there were no sports for girls.  Cheerleading or the dance team?  Take your pick.

Last night the field we were never invited onto looked a lot different as the women pushed the boys out of the way.

Tammy Duckworth.

Elizabeth Warren.

Tammy Baldwin.

New Hampshire.




The female body has been a target in the crosshairs of misinformation and just plain bat-shit crazy statements.

Our ovaries capable of shutting down when attacked?  Not a chance, but they are well on their way to changing things in ways my mom never imagined.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Days & Light

My first adult job was with Peoples Energy Corp. in Chicago.  I don't even know how I got it, how I knew about it, how any of it came to pass.  I processed health insurance claims for employees and retirees for six years.  It was long before computers and our office was a holding zone for mountains of paper.  Bills would pour in and be alphabetized and stacked each day.  The job of myself and two others was to go through every bill to make sure it was complete, accurate and payable under our plan.  Then we'd forward it to our insurance company for review and payment. 

It was a job that could make people really happy - like the sweet, old meter reader who came in with shoe boxes of bills that he didn't know he could claim.  I spent an afternoon on the floor of an empty conference room organizing it all and he ended up with several thousand dollars.  He cried when he came to pick up his check and the next day a box of chocolates were delivered to my desk.

It was also a job that could infuriate employees who had their claim denied, and try as we might to make sure that didn't happen, sometimes there wasn't a thing we could do about it.  It wasn't pretty to be on the receiving end of that, but when someone is sick or in a health crisis and denied payment the rage has to land somewhere.

When I got the job, my mom and dad were less than enthusiastic.  You'd have thought that having a kid with full-time employment and benefits would cause them to be elated but that was not the case.  Do you know you'll have to take public transportation downtown?  Do you know how much that costs?   What about eating out all the time?  Have you thought about that?  Do you know what bad weather does to a bus schedule?

Well, no, no, no, no and no.

I threw their parental advice out the window, and when I landed on Michigan Avenue I found out I was a city girl.   That is not to say it wasn't without the first time I went to Marshall Fields on my lunch hour.  I had no idea that there were different entrances on different streets and I found myself exiting a door blocks from where I entered with no idea how to get back to work.  Or missing the express train by seconds after an Olympic sprint through underground garages.  Cab drivers that were terrifying and Hare Krishna looking for new recruits.

But helping people when things weren't going so well in their life is satisfying even on the hard days.  I never grew tired of it or that city, and on the first Monday of daylight savings time I would always gasp when I went outside to head towards the train station.

The early darkness made it seem as though I was walking right into a Christmas tree.

Source: via