Saturday, June 30, 2012

Remember when there was just one . . . .

of everything at the grocery store?  You didn't have to stand in front of a section for friggin' ever looking for the creamer that you want.  Nope, don't like the fat-free.  No thanks to the sugar-free.  Hazelnut?  Coconut something-or-other?  Ack!  So confusing.  And, naturally, I've grabbed the wrong one in haste before.  You remember I'm the blogger with no patience, right?
Well, I was there yesterday.  I make way too many trips to the store.  It's because I can't seem to get organized when it comes to shopping for food.  Plus, it's only a few blocks away.  I guess I would be forced to get my act together if I lived out in the sticks.
I only needed a few things but as I strolled up and down the aisles, I began to think (actually, I planned ahead of time for this trip because I brought my camera) about all the choices.
The first thing I thought of was the Oreo cookie.  They're a staple at our house.  But just look at the variety.

Ignore my toes - I forgot to crop them out.  And, yes, that is the floor of the grocery store.  Hey, I couldn't find a decent display area and I was in a hurry.
Is that a busload of Oreos or what?  Plus, I really didn't have all of the different kinds in that pile but I was afraid the manager was going to catch me.  There were some new ones I'd never seen before.  Geez!

Then I was off to the cereal aisle.  I'm a Raisin Bran kinda gal and Petey likes him some Cheerios so here's my next grouping.

There are eight (8) different kinds of Cheerios there folks.  Good night!  Of course everyone's trying to jump on the "healthy" bandwagon so they throw "whole grain" into the name and call it good which results in even more choices.

Now let's talk pop (that's a Michigan word for those of you who live elsewhere).  Maybe you refer to it as "soda."  Whatever - I'm just focusing on Coke at this time.

This is why we get bogged down in the damn store.  Years ago you could just do a "fly-by" and grab what you needed.  Now you have to stop and make sure you don't get the cherry flavored one or that Zero thing.

And last - but not least - this is one spot I don't even slow down for anymore.  Seems to be the only advantage to being 63.

Do you love going to the grocery store as much as I do?  Oh, and by the way, I never got caught taking all these photos. hehehe

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Question About Toilet Paper

Yes, we all use it so let's talk about the specific usage.
Many years ago I was at a party when the subject of how people use this stuff came up.  We decided there were two techniques:  folding and wadding.
I  began an informal poll of the crowd in attendance.  There was quite a bit of drinking going on (not me, of course) so the answers were colorful.
When all was said and done the numbers seemed pretty even between those that folded (neatly) and the wadders.
Then - a surprise.  My sister, Lisa, was returning from a potty run with a shocked look on her face.  "I just discovered a new category - I'm a wrapper!"
We decided wrapping wasn't really a new category but a sub-category of "folding."
As I mentioned, this group was in full party mode so the survey morphed into how much toilet paper people actually used per trip to the john.  Really?  Talk about "anal" - no pun intended.  Well, not really, I intended to use "anal" - why wouldn't I?  You'd be disappointed if I didn't.
One guy (naturally) said he allowed himself only six (6) squares for the cleansing.  HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?  I think he was pretty drunk.  He couldn't have been serious, right?
Another guy (again, naturally) told me that when tearing the tissue from the roll, if it tore mid-square, he had to start all over again.  Can you say "obsessive"?  Not to mention the waste.
Now, this blog entry clearly requires your feedback.
I'm waiting.  This is the kind of info I live for - don't let me down.
Oops - totally forgot to tell you that I'M A WADDER AND PROUD OF IT!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I am Mint-obsessed

If you've been reading along you know that I don't chew gum.  Ever.  So I always carry breath mints with me so y'all don't have to dodge my coffee breath.  You're welcome.
I remember being introduced to Altoids - the curiously strong mint - several years ago and carried them around for a long, long time.
The only problem I had with Altoids was the size of the container (pretty big) and the "dust" they create.  They're chalky little dudes and the banging around inside that tin causes dust which spills out of the tin and into your purse.  Looks like there's been a leak in your bag of cocaine. hehe
My mom always had the little clear plastic box of mints in her purse (can't remember the brand name) and I've tried those but they're not strong enough for me.  I don't get that "clean, fresh" mouth feel after polishing off one of the little egg-shaped mints.  Plus they're not easy to get into while driving - tricky opening.
Then I found Eclipse breath mints.  Perfect!  A few different flavors to pick from, sugar-less and the perfect container.
The problem began when, all of a sudden, I couldn't find them.  They disappeared from my local grocery store and I couldn't find them at the big box stores either.  They all carried the gum but we know my history with gum so . . .
I was thinking of buying a case online when I decided to write Wrigley and tell them of my plight.    They responded quickly and told me that the closest store to me that carries my beloved mints was 22 miles away!  No prob - I'll couple that trip with one to the mall in Grand Rapids. 
And so I did.

I bought 8 boxes.  Aren't they cute?  Minty fresh.  Nice container.  Easy access.  Ahhhhhhh

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Another Coolio Spot in Allegan

There's an area in Allegan, down by the river (most everything is "down by the river" here; that sucker does a lot of winding around) called The Mill District.  There are three buildings there that used to be thriving factories back in the day.  Like so many factories in this country they "failed to thrive" after a time and stood empty for many years.
Then along came an industrious couple, Joe and Deb Leverence, who decided to make a difference.  Wow, did they!  They transformed one of those empty dinosaurs into . . . . . this.

 No picture of the front door - sorry.  I tried twice and each time something weird happened.

 They toiled for months and months and months under many watchful eyes.  I'm sure some of those "eyes" muttered, "what the hell are those two out-of-towners up to down there?"
I know, without a doubt, that there is no way that I could have ever had the stamina these two had to see their dream come true.  There were set backs (a little thing like a flood) but they kept right on and turned that old thing into Baker Studio.  Let's have a look inside.

 I'm guessing and I'm probably wrong but there have to be at least 30 artists represented in this building.

 I've had Dan at my open house before and you really need to see his things up close to appreciate the craftsmanship.  Just above Dan's display are my friend, Joy's, watercolors.  Of course, since I'm not the greatest photographer, you're only seeing the lower halves.  Sorry, Joy.

 Aren't these beautiful?  Somebody actually made these dresses - like sewed them.  Too much for me to even imagine.  I use duct tape to hem things.

 Those are looms.  Did I mention that Deb is a weaver extraordinaire?  Well, she is and if you'd like to try your hand (well, you'll actually need to use both hands) at weaving - she'll teach ya!

Hey!  Whose beautiful glass beads are those?  I'll give you three guesses.  Yes, they're mine and I love having my work displayed at Baker Studio.  They're wonderful people to work with. 
And speaking of those wonderful people . . . . . here they are!

See - Deb can't stop weaving - that's a teeny, tiny, baby loom she's playing with as we speak.  Notice how Joe's just sitting there - watching?  That's ok, he deserves a break now and then.  Right, Joe?

If you're in the area during a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you need to stop down and see what these two have accomplished, check out the beautiful stuff inside and, for cryin' out loud, buy some of my beads!

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Kid in Town

There's a new kid in town.  A new coffee shop.  It's called Mug Shots.  The co-owner is married to a law enforcement type dude.  Get it?
The space is very cool and completely redone by owners Corrina and Rob.  It has had several "personalities" over the years and we're all lovin' this one - a lot!

There's Corrina now.  Hi, Corrina!  She's getting ready to pour me a cup and serve up one of her fabu scones.  I've had scones before and it wasn't love at first bite but these scones - way different.  I have to stop myself from gobbling them up - remember my experience at Stephens College for women; I know better.

This seating area is in the front of Mug Shots.  I like sitting there because I can keep an eye on the comings and goings of town.  Those people need watching and I'm the gal that can do it.

And . . . . . you can buy your own beans.  Take 'em home and grind to your heart's content.

Unless you order one of Mug Shots' fancy drinks, this is where you fill up.  There's always at least 3 yummy coffees to pick from.  I thought it was a good idea to personalize one of the pictures with local color.  That's Keith - filling up.  Hi, Keith!

There's also a back room.  How cool, eh?  Comfy.

AND - we're still not done.  They've thought of everything, I tell ya.  Bring your 'puter and plug in.  Check your email, cruise the porn sites blog sites, like mine. hehe

These tables are set up directly across from the computer area I just showed you.  This is where I usually hang with my "coffee peeps."  We gather on Wednesday mornings and solve the problems of the world or how to deal with hot flashes.  That's a world problem, isn't it?

Same area filled with brilliant ladies.  Except, of course, I'm not there.  Someone has to take the picture, ok?

Mug Shots is a wonderful and welcome addition to Allegan.  If you're in the area, stop in and have a cuppa cuppa.  Oh, and the sandwiches are great, too.  And - they stay open after 5p.  What a novel idea, eh?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Scoop or Stab? Lick or Bite?

I'm talking food here, people.  Consuming techniques.
Salads:  I love salads.  I make them often here but I also order them frequently while dining out.  I prefer using my fork to stab the goodies but that can take forever.  You can't really "load up" with the stab.  Or it can also result in too much at the end of the fork and then you either go for it causing your cheeks to expand like a chipmunk packing it in for winter or delicately pick off some tasties to make it more socially acceptable.
So if you're not a stabber then you become a scooper.  If, indeed, you decide to go in that direction then your balancing skills have to equal Nick Wallenda's.  You know, the Flying Wallendas.  The tightrope walking family.  Did you see him cross Niagara Falls last week?  No?
Back to the balancing act.  If there's too much on your fork while you're into the scooping action, you know for sure a cherry tomato will end up in your lap - covered in Ranch dressing.  Schmear!   If you decide to be conservative while scooping, you're there past midnight. 
Ice cream:  I also love ice cream.  I believe I love it more than salads.  Big surprise, eh?  I'm a hand-dipped kinda gal; Petey is keen on soft-serve.  I used to be a "biter."  I like to chew my ice cream.  I'm a masticater.  That's not a vulgar word - look it up. hehe  I stopped getting my ice cream in a cone several years ago; I like using a spoon so I'm not sure I can refer to myself as a "biter" anymore although I'm still chewing.
Soft-serve people have to be lickers whether their sweets are in a cone or a cup.  Ok, maybe not the cup but you know they're not chewing the ice cream if it's soft-serve from a cup. 
Hey, maybe I've discovered a shared category with salads!  Maybe those soft-serve people that use spoons are SCOOPERS too.
So - let's count heads, eh?  Who's a scooper?  Who stabs?  Any lickers in the house?  Biters?
Weigh in, folks, this is important.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pictures Have Changed

Remember when you carried family pictures around in your wallet/purse?  At the slightest mention of children/grandchildren you'd pull out a ream of the smiling squares.
I actually saw someone do that last Friday and I realized I hadn't seen a "real" picture in a long time.
Now when one asks about the recent wedding or class reunion people pull out their phones and pass them around.
I'm not sure how I feel about that.  It's certainly convenient.  Much easier than lugging an album around. 
I get a little nervous, though.  What if you lose your phone?  How many people actually download those pictures to a safe site?  If they don't then all the shots of the kids standing next to Cinderella's castle will be gone forever.
I was just getting ready to sling some bull you-know-what about how much I love looking at the old albums.  One for my wedding.  Several of Michael when he was little but I'd be fibbing (lying is such a strong word, doncha think?). 
It's much quicker and easier to click my way through the past several years.  But still; it just feels like we're missing out on something.
It is definitely the wave of the future, though. 
One of these days I guess I'll have to get one of those fancy, new-fangled phones that take pictures.
Some day.  Not just yet - I still have 78 units left on my Tracfone.
Gosh, those last few sentences sounded like I was channeling Andy Rooney.  Creepy, eh?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Danger Also Lurks in a Bag of Mulch

So last Saturday Petey and I were sprucin' up the front yard.  Last fall we had a huge blue spruce taken down which left us more space to work with.  We moved a few hostas around and put some potted plants on the stump and called it good. 
It wasn't quite good enough for Petey, though.  He decided we needed mulch to set the whole thing off. 
He made several trips to the hardware store for bagged mulch - the good stuff.  Should have borrowed a truck from "Tomas the Magnificent" but didn't think we'd need to make so many trips.  Lesson learned.
I was hoping he'd be done by the time I returned from Jazzercise but I guess I didn't dawdle long enough and felt I should pitch in - without gloves.  I rarely wear gloves; I just never think about it.  Besides, my hands always sweat when I wear them and I can't feel what I'm doing.  Makes for dirty fingernails but that's what those pointy metal files are for - right?
Anyway.  We spread and we spread and, damn, if it doesn't look nice.
See that small yellow pot in the rear, middle of the picture?  That's where the tree used to be.
Oh, I almost forgot the reason for this post. 
That was Saturday and on Monday I noticed a small bump on my arm.  Then I saw another on my thumb.  Crap!  Poison ivy.  Well, no biggy.  I can deal with two bumps.  And then . . . . it exploded on my mid-section.
I've been dabbing with calamine lotion and my neighbor gave me some magical soap that's supposed to help as well.
It's been a week and it's all still there and a few more bumps have made an appearance, too.
Ah, the beauty of yard work.  Is this considered the "fruit of my labor?"
Between the bruised thigh and now what looks like a road map of "red" on my belly - I'm a marred mess!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Danger Lurks at the Microphone

I sang a few tunes with my pals Kevin, Jerry and Donny Saturday night at the Grillhouse.  I love singing with them because they let me do songs by my favorite Blues singer/song writer, EG Kight.
The other thing they let me do is shake their tambourine. That sounds dirty, doesn't it? hehe
 I love the tambourine. 
I have a dream of being the chick behind those big conga drums in a Latin band but I don't believe that's ever going to happen.  Ever since "arthur - eye - tis" took up residence in my body, just knocking on somebody's front door hurts so . . . no congas for me.  But the tambourine is still a possibility.
At least it was until Saturday night.  I'm so happy singing into a mic up on a stage in front of an audience that I totally forgot how easily I bruise.  The first time I smacked my upper right thigh with that thing it smarted a bit but, you know, "the show must go on" so I tried to vary the areas of contact. 
I moved around to my butt, which hurt a bit, but I'm tough so I kept at it.  I also used the base of my left hand as a target. 
We sang four songs together and then I went back to my table where my adoring fans were waiting for me.  I made that last part up.
Sometime on Monday I made a gesture (I use my hands a lot while talking; remember I'm married to an Italian.  It's contagious.) which resulted in my right hand landing heavily upon my right upper thigh. 
"Ouch.  That feels a little tender.  Let's have a look."
Yowza!  A mongo-huge black and blue spot the size of Dallas was staring at me.  Simultaneously, my left thumb began to throb.  I took a look at that and saw more bruising.
Does this mean an end to my tambourine shaking days? 
Would you like to see the bruised thigh?  Yes, I took a picture of it.  No, you won't be seeing it here.  I really was intending to post it - after all, I already showed you a pimple on my face so . . .  And then I looked at the picture and saw a 63 year old THIGH.  Even tanned it is not a pretty sight so you'll have to use your imagination.
I don't get the opportunity to sing with The Kevin McDaniel Band very often so maybe the bruised thigh will be a dim memory by the time I get up on the stage again.  I hope so because I do so love shakin' that thing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Small Talk/Chit-Chat

Are you comfortable with the small talk/chit chat thing that goes on at a party, conference, doctor's office waiting room?  Oh, I forgot another place - the airplane?
Most of the time I'm fine with it because I'm talking about myself . . . and I'm very comfy doing that. hehe
I spend a fair amount of time in waiting rooms for my freelance work, though, and for some reason I'd rather not engage in coversation there so I bring my Nook.  A book/Nook/Kindle can be your new BFF in those situations.
It never occurred to me that some people hate the getting to know you atmosphere at a party, for example.
My best friend, Sue, had one child and she is mentally impaired.  This is a small town and everyone knew it so being somewhere filled with people that Sue knew wasn't an issue.  Meeting someone new was.
The opening of any conversation always leads to the "family" questions:  do you have children?  how old are they? blah, blah, blah.  Sue could never decide if she should cut them off at the pass, dodge what was coming or get it over with right away.
I have another friend who has survived the death of two of her children.  The deaths happened ten years apart; both sudden, accidental deaths.  So she's faced with answering the "family" questions with . . . what?  Does she say she used to have X number but now have X number?  If she doesn't mention the two that have died, it hurts her heart.  She also worries about making the other person in the conversation uncomfortable.
I had no idea.  I can't imagine the frustration and discomfort my friends have had to go through.
I'm going to end this blog entry with a funny story, though.  At my friend, Tom Richmond's, expense. hehe
Tom and Joy live out in the country in a magical spot - on a pond in the Hopkins area.  Tom has a bit of an issue with the whole Hopkins thing and apparently the "pond" thing too because I heard him answer the "where do you live" question at a party one time with, "we live on a lake in Hamilton.  Unfortunately for him, I was close by.  I could not let it go, of course.
How do you feel about the social dance one has to perform with people you don't know?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Car Adornment

Do you have bumper stickers on your car?  We've never gotten into the whole message on the car thing.  Although I would really, really like to have one of those Darwin fish.  Maybe someday.  Or the one that starts with a tiny thing that evolves into an ape and then a man.  Those are cool.  I'd like one of those.
The one I've been noticing a lot lately is the "family" decal-looking gizmo that goes on the rear window.  You know - it has a white outline of "mom", "dad", and couple of kids and even the dog.  I call that "cute overload."
Remember the "baby on board" ones?  Proud parents, I'm guessing.
Now I'm morphing into the rear deck items.  Bobble heads.  Baseball caps.  Stuffed animals.  Yikes!
How about saints on the dash?  Dice hanging from the rearview.
I also enjoy watching for vanity plates when we travel.  At least they're clever.  Often, you have to use your imagination to figure them out. Of course, if the car passes you doing 85mph, you'd better be quick.
How much do people have to pay for those special license plates, anyway?
Speaking of putting silly things on your cars - this goes back a way and you have to have lived in an area that got a busload of snow -  but people used to attach something colorful to their car antennas.  Most of them were bright orange or yellow.  That way when you came to an intersection other cars would know you were there because of the bright ball.  We had very high snowbanks back then.  Safety issues, ya know.
Then the thievery began.  People (teenagers?) would steal them.  Not that I was involved in that particular crime.  I just heard about it.
So, do you have a "honk if you love Jesus" bumper sticker on the family wagon?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

We Came From Different Worlds

I married an Italian.  Actually, if we want to get specific and I do - I married a Sicilian.  I dropped out of a German/Scottish family tree.  Talk about polar opposites!
And adding to the mix, I grew up in the midwest and Petey is from the east coast.  Worlds apart.
Our dinner menus were very, very different.  His included a fair amount of pasta and mine . . .  .  corned beef hash with an egg on top.
Christmas was an adjustment for me, too.  The Altamore family opened their gifts on Christmas Eve after a traditional fish dinner.  What????  We were allowed to open one and waited anxiously for the rest the next morning.
My first introduction to the whole family had me reeling but with glee.  It was like a movie.  I'll never forget the bridal shower given by Aunt Ann and Uncle Augie (yes, that's who my dog is named after.  He was my MIL's brother) on Staten Island.  As we got out of the car and began walking around the house to the gathering in the back yard I heard what sounded like the roar you hear in a football stadium as the winning touchdown is made.  It was Peter's family . . . chatting.
It was amazing.  It was like getting sucked into a raucous event filled with sausage and green peppers.
The old guard is gone now.  Aunt Rosie and Uncle John.  Aunt Francie and Uncle Henny.  My in-laws.  Uncle Vincent and Aunt Millie.
I enjoyed every single minute spent with those relatives for many years after that "first introduction."
I remember Uncle Vincent slipping me $$$ and making me promise not to tell Aunt Millie.
I remember sitting with Uncle Henny and having him tap me lightly on the arm every time he made a point in his story.  Never bruising me but tap, tap, tapping.
One of the last big celebrations was at Peter's cousin Ralph's house in New Jersey.  I think his cousins had a 45 minute conversation about the route they took to get to Ralph's.  Which way was the better way.  Each had the correct route and, of course, it was shorter than everyone's.
Living on the east coast (eastern PA) was a huge adjustment for me as well.  My first job was in a gigantic (to me) retail store.  I had to take a bus into the next city (we lived in Bethlehem and the store was in Allentown) and I'd never been on a city bus before.  I was terrified that I'd miss my stop.  It was a way busier place to live in than I was used to here in Allegan.  We have 4 stop lights - they have them every block or so.
I don't miss that part but I miss all those wonderful people that were out there.  Memories help but there's still a void.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Funky Lunch Spot

Last weekend on our way to Crystal Mountain for the wedding we decided to stop for lunch.  Soon after getting off 131 we spotted the perfect place.
Lisa from the back seat:  "Are those feet?"  Petey and I responded "Sure looks like it."  All three of us:  "Let's go!"
The restaurant was called "Da Dawg House."  Very up-northy.  Fish and game 'o plenty.

Even a couple of birds.
There were 3 or 4 items on the menu that had dawg/dog included in the name.  If you ordered one of them, the server put on a goofy dog hat when she brought the food to your table and the other servers gathered 'round and howled.  Apparently if you were a "bad dog" and didn't finish your meal you had to wear the goofy hat.  There was no howling at our table but what a marketing ploy, eh?
  This guy kept trying to pick Lisa up but she wasn't having any of it.  I can't understand why.
Oh, the food.  How was the food, you ask?  Fantastic!  We all got breakfast and Petey was real happy he ordered the short stack of pancakes (2) because those suckers were the size of dinner plates.  No lie.
So if you're driving north on 131 and get off near Cadillac on highway 115, stop in at Da Dawg House and order something that howls, eh?  Look for the giant feet sticking out of the front of the place.  Can't miss it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Ever Put Your Foot in Your Mouth?

First off - I wonder how that saying came into being?  Other than a baby, who can actually put their foot in their mouth?  Just thought I'd throw that out there - maybe someone has the answer.
Back to the title.  Have you - opened mouth, inserted foot?  I certainly have.  Both times (there were many but these two are permanently engraved on my memory wall) were regarding pregnancy.
Yes, that's right.  I asked a woman about her due date and SHE WASN'T PREGNANT!!!  I remember where we were, what the weather was like that day and I even remember what she was wearing.  I quickly looked around hoping to find a hole in the parking lot that I could jump into.
You can bet your bippy that I never, never did that again.  I vowed that no matter the situation I would keep my big mouth shut unless the woman brought the subject up herself..
The second pregnancy faux pas was at a party.  Again, I remember where we were standing and who else was in attendance.  We were talking about having babies (this was several years ago - obviously) and I knew that one of the women in the group was pregnant so I said, "Wow, you are so brave to go for the third one."  Or something equally innocent.  She then told me what apparently everyone else knew except me; that she'd had a miscarriage. Again, I looked for that damn hole to swallow me up - nowhere to be found.
The next example I will gladly share with you happened to my dad.  I knew I inherited the trait from someone.
The scene:  standing on the beach, at the water's edge, in South Haven, MI, with one of his closest friends.  Both of them gazing out at the water, smoking cigarettes and slyly checking out the bathing beauties.  Dad glanced down the beach and said to his pal, "Purk, don't look now but here comes one of the homeliest women I have ever laid eyes on."  Purk did the slow, nonchalant head turn, paused for a moment before turning back to dad and said, "I would have to agree with you, Brach.  That's my sister."
Oh, I thought of another one.  Not me, though, so I'm thrilled this memory just came back to me.
The scene: a party.  A few men standing around doing the "man talk" thing.  One of them spotted a beautiful young woman across the room.  He'd never seen her before and she was a sight to behold.  I believe his eyeballs actually left their sockets - just like in a cartoon.  He asked the small group who she was and I'm sure there were some "guy adjectives" thrown into the question.  Once again, the slow head turn and one of the men declared the beauty to be his daughter.  Awkward.
I really think there's an aura or feeling that comes upon one as the mouth opens and the words fly out.  You can almost see the words and maybe you think about reaching out into the air to grab them. As if.   Or maybe you get that sick feeling in your stomach because you know you've just committed a horrid error.
So - naturally, I'd love to hear your stories involving your mouth and your foot.  I can't possibly be the only one out here.