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531...

Friday, November 28, 2014
...is my personal best. Today I drove from Columbus to Valdosta, in the morning, arriving there just before noon. Then leaving south GA, and driving diagonally across the length of GA to end up  in TN at dark.  Which means for all practical purposes, or at minimum braggin' rights, this is my best (or possibly worst) record for distance travelled in one day.

I vaguely recall when I was about twelve years old, the summer my dad decided he would drive from south Georgia to the Pacific Ocean and back. We drove and drove and drove in an old lime green Ford Fairlane station wagon.  Well before the era of Interstate highways. It was, I believe, the year my brother had a learner's permit, so I'm thinking that he was actually doing some of the driving. Which permanently relegated me to the back seat, which was covered in hot, sticky vinyl. Where I sat for three thousand miles (x 2), with a changing choice of fellow travelers, either parental or sibling-al, stuck to the gooey seat with me, in a car with no air conditioning, traveling in June across the desert of west Texas, plus the barrenness of Arizona, and desolate New Mexico.

There was my mom, scrupulously keeping records: of how much we paid for gas at each stop to refill, how many miles we were getting per gallon, as well as total miles travelled per day. What we paid for lunch when we stopped for burgers in west Texas or the desert of New Mexico. How  much we paid to spend the night in a Joshua Tree National Park campground. What it costs to get in to oooh and aaah at the Grand Canyon. What the tickets were for spending the day at Disneyland in California, or riding on the cable cars in San Francisco.

And making notes in the day planner where she carefully noted all the humorous signs placed in cornfields across the US from one coast to the other by the Burma Shave shaving cream company. The day my dad was desperate to make up some lost time/miles and drove over five-hundred miles in one day, she made him promise to never do that again. I think there were likely some serious marital threats involved when the children were out of earshot. 'Way too much time spent in the car from sunrise to sunset trying to get across west Texas, which is about the  most barren desolate place I have personally experienced in North America.

Which is why I know/knew that driving five hundred miles in one day is too much. But did it anyway to get from nearly Florida to practically Tennessee. I'm there. Thank you, Jesus.

Thanksgiving ....

Thursday, November 27, 2014
...not just today, but everyday. We all have so many things to be thankful for. Health, heated homes, comfortable beds, warm clothing, plenty of food in the pantry, potable water at our fingertips, flush toilets that waste huge amounts of potable water, and on and on... But the thing I will always feel to be the biggest blessing in my life is family, and friends, and deliberately taking the time to be together, enjoy the company of those I cherish.

I made the pie last week, got the squash casserole put together on Tuesday night. It's been in the fridge, so I got up about 6 and put it in the oven. So large I think it needs to cook for at least an hour.
You remember that old joke about the thermos? The construction workers were having lunch  and talking about the greatest invention ever. One said light bulbs, one said gas engines, and then one suggested the thermos bottle. He got some strange looks from the co-workers, needing an explanation. So he said: 'It keeps hot things hot, and cold things cold.... How do it know?' Our rapidly evolving society is probably getting to the age of having machines that think for themselves: so perhaps we have finally out paced the thermos - but you'll have to agree: it's plenty smart to know what to do on it's own!

I will put the squash in a cooler, wrapped in layers of newspaper, and hope the cooler will know how to do the job, keep it warm until lunch: hot things hot, and cold things cold! There is also a ham that goes, so I will put that a cooler, along with pie - to see if they are smart enough to know which one is supposed to do what? Hoping to get organized and on the road by 8 a.m., to make the two hour drive to Atlanta area.  My auntie from Valdosta has been here with us a couple of days, to go and share Thanksgiving lunch with family in Decatur.

delectable desserts...

Monday, November 24, 2014
...is the stuff I made at work all day today. I had some severe-ly misplaced optimism about what would happened in the food demo. booth for the next three days. About as poorly located as my hope that I would be dishing up samples of the pre-made casseroles from the deli., side dishes to accompany the huge meat-y centerpiece of the Thanks. meal. I was hoping that all I'd be doing is cooking, and giving away bites of those yummy side dishes that are only seasonally available, but well-known favorites everyone expects to show up at the buffet on the over-eating holiday. You know: sweet potato casserole with crunchy, sugary stuff on top, broccoli casserole with cheese, beans with mushroom soup and crunchy onion topping.

But no: it was a make it from scratch event. Some of which were so strange, I would have liked to tell the test kitchen staff at corporate they need to go back to the drawing board. Not something that went over well at all with the passers-by, and total dis-inclination to want the recipe to reproduce for family.

Today was better: but not really what I was hoping. My optimism was once again, way off base. Nothing pre-made from the bakery freezer. Everything from scratch. But a couple of pretty tasty recipes. One was a layered trifle dish, that had eggnog and a crumbed up Sara Lee frozen pound cake, along with whipped topping and some ginger snaps. If you like eggnog, you would love this.

The other was a pie: I did not taste. Because it had: a jar of marshmallow fluff, a tub of cream cheese, a jar of Biscoff cream (which is basically spreadable Biscoff cookies), and a large slab of white chocolate (melted), all whipped together, fold in the topping, and put in graham cracker crust. Add more topping. Ugh. Too much sweet/sugar. Got lots of favorable comments. With quite a few people being so impressed, they wanted to put the ingredients in their carts to  go make dessert at  home.

Not me: I made my punkin pie last week and put it in the freezer.  The one that I probably gave the recipe for last year at holiday time. This is the one that I claim is mostly air, so light and fluffy that even though you feel as 'stuffed' as the turkey, you can happily fork in a slice of pie, because it doesn't need to be chewed, and takes up practically no room at all. Even though you have ate so much you would like to go lay down on the floor and digest, you can sit the plate with the slice of punkin pie on your distended belly and quietly, peacefully eat one more thing before your nap.

Here's the recipe, in case you don't want to look back... No cooking, yay!

Creamy Pumpkin Pie

1 cup canned pumpkin ( you can use either  pie filling or plain, un-seasoned pumpkin)
1/2 cup cold milk
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice, stirred into:
1 pkg. 6-servng size, jello vanilla instant pudding and pie filling (don't use the kind you have to cook)
8 oz. container whipped topping
graham cracker crust

Mix the dry pudding mix and spice together,set aside.Stir pumpkin into milk, then whisk in dry pudding mix. Mix well. Add thawed whipped topping, gently folding in to mix. Spoon into pie crust, refrigerate at least four hours, or freeze. Add more topping when you slice and serve.

undecided...

Sunday, November 23, 2014
sounds like what I think when I get to the polling place and have my turn in the voting booth. But what the decision was today is whether to take a chance on going to Callaway Gardens to do the once-a-year Night Walk through the Fantasy in Lights. My smart friend P. and I have been doing it for several years, so we signed up weeks ago. Sent in our money and got tickets to take a hike in the dark around the light and music show.

But the baaadd weather rolled in mid-afternoon, pouring rain and blowing winds. So much that the tornado sirens went off, and the man who loves to fret about the things he cannot control was glued to the weather channel. And surprisingly: was not all gloom-and-doom. At one point, even saying 'it's supposed to blow on over in half' an hour'. When what I expected to hear from him is 'it's time to go sit in the bathtub and say your prayers;'.

So we decided to take a chance and go on up there, to see if all the wetness would quit. It cleared off so well on the drive up to Harris County, we saw a beautiful rainbow as we were headed north. And the rains discouraged enough people from attending (no rain date - only one shot at the walk-through), there was absolutely no crowd. We had a remarkably easy walk, without strollers, wagons, people bumping around in the dark. And beauty full lights and music. Plus not a drop of rain.

in total agreement...

Friday, November 21, 2014
...with what I read recently in a book by Simon Sinek. Suggested by daughter, who said she had heard about it at a conference. Talking about how to change the way America runs corporations, and how to develop leaders. I'm probably going to go to jail for quoting from copyrighted material. So go ahead and start looking for a cake recipe that has a file baked in, so you can bring it to me, on visiting day when I am behind bars.

The author noticed that in the Marine Corps training, the troops would go through the chow line before their sergeants. And the officers would be standing by waiting to be sure everyone else got fed first. Therefore, the title of the book is:" Leaders Eat Last".

Here's what really caught my attention, way over on page 119. Mostly because it is the same theory I have been espousing for years, and thankful someone else has finally caught on to what I've been saying. That we all have a limited amount of time here on this planet. Our most valuable and most frequently squandered resource.

     "Given our obsessive need to feel safe among those in our tribe  - our communities and companies - we inherently put a premium value on those who give us their time and energy. Whereas money has relative value ($100 to a college student is a lot, $100 to a millionaire is a little), time and effort have an absolute value.  No matter how rich or poor someone is, or where or when they are born, we all have 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. If someone is willing to give us something of which they have a fixed and finite amount, a completely nonredeemable commodity, we perceive great value. If we waste money, we can make more...But we've all had the experience of sitting in a meeting or watching a movie...and thinking to ourselves. "I will never get this time back".
     And it's not just time. Energy we give also matters. If a parent goes to watch their kid's soccer game but only looks up from their mobile device when there is cheering, they may have given their time, but they haven't given their energy. The kid will look over to see the parent's head down most of the game, busy texting or e-mailing the office or something. Regardless of the intentions of that parent, without giving their attention, the time is basically wasted for both parent and child. The same is true in our offices when we talk to someone while reading our emails or sit in a meeting with one eye on our phone... "

I've been telling anyone who will listen that I don't want more stuff  in my life. I already have more things than I want. What I want from people I care about is: time. Spent together, taking a walk, sitting on the couch giggling over funny pet videos on YouTube, sharing good eats. Enjoying that most valuable commodity with people who make me laugh. Your undivided attention.

a trainee for me...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
... hilarious to think that my skills in the food demo. booth are such that I was qualified to train someone else. So there: truth really is stranger than fiction. I spent most of my day at work with a young woman, just barely college age, who thought she wanted to learn how to do the cooking.

She has, I think, been a front end worker for some time, possibly a cashier, and likely a carry-out person. My co-Aprons-worker had told me this young woman, M. was interested, and the managers had told her she could give it a try, work with one of us a couple of days to see how she liked it. I don't know how  much actual in-the-kitchen experience she has, but with me standing there, talking her through the recipe, she did quite well.

I'd sort of mistakenly formed the opinion that she would not be competent, just from conversations with my co-Aprons-worker. But she did a good job, seemed to catch on to things pretty quickly, and said that she enjoyed doing the food prep and serving. I was under the impression that this newbie would be working with the co-worker at some point. But was completely unsuspecting when she came up to say she was told to spend the day with me, learning how to cook. I don't think I've been at this 'new' job for two months, and the managers thought I was prepared to take on a training another worker?

I can't actually remember when I started cooking. I was raised by a mom who was a good cook, and spent time with grandmothers and other family members who were homemakers, feeding families three meals each day, every day of the week. So guess I probably started 'helping' my mom and grandma as soon as I was old enough to see over the edge of the countertop. I know I was cooking full meals by the time I was in high school. Before I took that Home Economics 101 class with all the info about the food groups, meal planning, basic nutrition. And long before I was the awardee of the Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year Award my senior year. So I sort of feel like I have been cooking mostly forever.

And this trainee that I was working with today does not include the two I raised. Both of which can probably cook circles around me! And make really good things that I love to eat. Feed me!

it may be time...

...to reconsider something that you have always held to be a concrete truth. Here's one for you to ponder: The idea that Love is the most powerful bond, an ephemeral emotion between humans that will/can/does eternally form a powerful lasting connection. I was listening to public radio this morning, and heard a story that caused me to rethink this long held opinion.

It was really a review of a band called something like 'out among the willows'. That's not totally correct, but I know it had something to do with willows, and think they were from Canada. The songs in the most recent release was based on a huge cache of letters in the possession of a grandmother of one of the band members.  Correspondence sent to the grandmother in one of he northern mid-west states, maybe Michigan, from a man she eventually married. Sent to his beloved, while he was serving in WWII in the south Pacific. She had saved them all these years, and allowed the now-adult, music-writing grandchild to pore over those three hundred missives. Opening a window to history, seeing what the grandfather had written of his life, war-time experience and devotion to his future wife.

I don't think the story I heard mentioned how long they had been married, but the granddad is deceased, fairly recently, in the past two years. And I assume the grandmother is still living. This young adult musician wrote a whole album of songs based on what he wrote to her. Granddad did safely returned to the States, and they married. The last of the saved letters was one written a week before their wedding, with him telling he had just gotten a haircut, and was boarding the bus on the way back to her.

What I learned in all this, not really listening to the words of the couple of songs that we heard snippets of, but perhaps reading between the lines: is of his commitment. Which caused me to ponder long-term marriages I have been a witness to. Not many, but some of well over fifty years in duration. The prime example being my parents, and my mother's parents. I have a couple of clear memories of attending a Golden Anniversary celebration for my maternal grandparents. The party was held at my parents' home, with lots of local people invited. I was probably 18 years old, and I think assigned to the cake cutting/serving position.

And then there are my parents, who were together over fifty years. My mom adamantly did not want any celebration, no party, nothing to bring notice to herself or any recognition from the community where they had lived all their adult lives. I could not let the occasion go totally unrecognized, so wrote everyone in her address book, as well as many others in the community, to ask them to think of the past, write and send letters/notes providing a story, remembrance of some time/event/occasion they had been together. Then I put that correspondence together in a loose-leaf binder to give to them to read, reminisce and enjoy.

What I am thinking is there are times when Commitment is stronger than Love. That, for any number of reasons, long after the spark that kindled the relationship is dies out, the commitment lingers on. I have only my theory, but I am remembering when I used to hear Paul Harvey announce anniversaries on his daily radio show.  I now believe that it is more than possible, to the edge of being likely, those weathered mid-western couples who had been out there on the Nebraska prairie for sixty-plus year were there for reasons other than devotion. Or love. That many of those couples were still together out of habit. Or a sense of commitment: believing that saying 'I do' really meant 'I will', and that the commitment involved was stronger than the theory of love lasting till 'death do us part'. Feel free to read between the lines...

Written on Friday, November 7, 2014, as a result of driving from Columbus to Decatur, which was a stopover on my way to TN for the weekend.

what a doofus...

...admitting to doing that same thing - again. I don't know why. Cannot explain it to me, much less anyone else, like someone who would be the boss of me. How it happened that I left the dang mustard off the porkchops again. I made them three times more  on Tuesday. And nary a one even had an opportunity to glance at the mustard bottle.

When I am doing anything to 'prep' meat, I am supposed to take all my supplies and materials on the little cart and drive it all back to the meat department. Go in there (twenty degrees colder than the rest of the store) where they are cutting up dead animals and putting them in Styrofoam trays. Then shrink wrapping the miscellaneous animal parts to present to the buying public and allow people to decide which of the deceased parts they would want to take home and put in their mouths. All that is going on around me, while I am dressing the chops in pecans, salt and pepper. But first they are to be covered with mustard. I don't know why I don't seem to be able to put the mustard on the pig. I can eat it on a hotdog, so why not on the chop? I can't say. But not the first one of those chunks of raw piggy got any mustard before I dunked them, one by one, in the bag that had the crumbed up pecan pieces.

And did not get any salting or peppering either. I can only surmise I was so desperate to get the hunks of meat wrapped up again, so I could beat a hasty retreat from the raw meat area. I have to wonder if I was leaving out vital ingredients in an effort to get me back up to my little kitchen area, removed from the dead animals. I sprinkled on the condiments when I put them in the pan to cook, but they never did get slathered with the mustard. Got lots of compliments anyway, so I can imagine they would have been circling around to get in line again, for a second helping if I'd had the presence of mind to include everything the recipe called for.

cooking errors ....

Monday, November 17, 2014
... I will admit to: failing to put the mustard on the porkchops yesterday. Five times. The recipe said to crumb up the pecans, spoon in some cornstarch, and cover the chops with mustard, then dip the meat in the zip bag to coat both sides with the nuts. I had to go back to the meat department to do this, and put the salt, pepper and mustard on my cart, to do all the prep work there. The nuts and cornstarch were in the bag, ready to receive the meat. I can't explain. It was all right there. But every time, I failed to spread the mustard on the chops before dropping them in the zipper bag for the coating part.

I know it would have been messier x5, with the mustard getting all over gloves and inside of bag. But that is just part of it. I just simply forgot. Every time I went to prepare more chops to cook. I can't explain it. But the admiring consumers did not seem to care. I am instructed to share hints with them - suggestions for shortcuts, or things I might have done differently in the cooking process. But I did not admit the first time to the passers-by that I had omitted mustard. So it probably behooves me to not admit it here.

Therefore: you are sworn to secrecy. Please don't blab. If you are one of those two people who have been repeatedly instructed to 'not tell everything you know', I'm not concerned about the info. getting out. But for the rest of you, your mom should have told you that it's not ok to be untruthful, or dishonest, but it is also Not Necessary To Tell Everything You Know.

I have another story that is worse than this = but that is for another day...

driving across south GA...

Sunday, November 16, 2014
...in the fall is always a treat. I love to see the acres and acres of cotton, ready to be harvested and taken for processing. The way you see the fields that almost looks like snow. Almost glowing in the early morning sunlight, after the plants have been defoliated, bright white as far as the tree line in the distance.

I got up early on Friday and drove to Valdosta to spend some time with friends who live in Ocala. They have a daughter who lives in V., and were up to visit, with the added attraction of little people, brought to south GA, by their mom who lives about an hour away. Nice visit, good company, and a lunch at the Chicken Salad Chick café. Where tough decision are in order, since no one can possibly eat as much as they would really want to consume at one sitting.

Plus, when left unsupervised, we went to a couple of garden shops, and bought plants. I had some little violas I from several weeks ago, and bought another pack, and something else interesting called a licorice plant that will hopefully do well in a pot out by the front door. Got them all planted in pots on Saturday afternoon.

I went to visit my auntie in Valdosta on Sat. afternoon, and spent the night there. Took her to do some shopping, and went to bed early: due to a) getting up too early and b) having to get up and drive back home on Saturday to go to work. I got to work at ten o'clock, and stood on my feets till four. Giving away little chunks of pineapple on toothpicks. I guess the feeding frenzy was a replacement for what used to be called 'holiday fest. Which used to be one day where all the stores would provide samples of specialities for people to taste. In hopes of luring the passers-by into making purchases to feed the family delicioso products for the seasonal  gatherings.

we are all being lulled....

Thursday, November 13, 2014
...into a false sense of security. It 's sad, and scary, how we think we are all safe, completely secure, well-protected. Enjoying all the benefits of living in relatively safe neighborhoods, under the vigilant eyes of public safety worker. Men and women who choose to dedicate their lives to provide protection from all the evil in this world, and crazy people.

The incident that occurred last week makes me think I need to make it a regular practice to practice regularly with my handy little hand gun. Just to cultivate the comfort level I would need to be able to use it on short notice. To know how to load in a sense of doing it as matter of habit. Along with the ability to use it if the necessity should arise. Plus the confidence to think I might hit what needs to be perforated.

There was a ... hmmm... attempted burglary? break-in? failed robbery? hot mess? at my work place the end of last week. Not only was I not present when it occurred, I was not even in the neighborhood: gone to TN for the weekend. So I missed all the excitement. Thankful for that!

It happened early one morning, when the earliest workers, people who come in hours before the store opens, are arriving: at four or five a.m. Bakery people who start baking, deli people who start cooking, grocery/stock clerks to unload warehouse trucks, produce guys to start putting out fresh goods. There was a man, mostly covered up, except for his eyes, with a shotgun hiding in the lobby area, between the two sets of electric doors. Snuggled up to the rows of shopping carts. Waiting for someone to come in who would get the earliest arrivals to come and unlock the inner sliding doors. Then he jumped out with his gun, and blew out one of the glass doors. A grocery person was hit with several bits of shot, but she is ok, not serious, and recovering. The early produce clerk, Vince, was involved. He was the one who was trying to get in the store to start work, and ended up saying: 'Please don't shoot me'. I don't know if it was a double barreled shotgun, but if not, the burgling guy was mostly harmless at that point. Vince went tearing out the back door, setting off the exit alarm.

I think the bad guy dashed out the front door, and apparently got away. I am sure this will cause Publix to re-think their early morning coming-in-to-work policies. I understand there has been a black-and-white sitting in the parking lot every morning since this 'alleged incident'. But if I were Vince, or Brittany, the young single mom, who was shot in the arm, I would be thinking about retirement.

What this means is that something similar, fueled by drugs, or envy/greed, or desperation, or unemployment, or just run-of-the-mill craziness can happen anywhere, any time, to any body. Remember a year ago, when I wrote about our house being burgled?  Crazy people abound.

it's hard work...

... but not complicated. I was on my feets for eight hours yesterday, cooking the Simple Meals at work. Making a dish I would never, not ever, no absolutely not consider cooking at home: it had two big thick steaks in it - and the actual recipe calls for a roast. I don't know which of the two I would rather Not be preparing. But after I got over the yuck factor of raw beef (x 3 - as I reproduced the recipe over and over after washing dishes) it was not bad, and got lots of compliments.

I've begun to wonder if people would say: that's awful? Cooking burgers on Tuesday, according to the instructions, using a meat thermometer to gauge doneness of the meat. Stacking them up with three kinds of 'hot': cream cheese with peppers, pepper jack cheese, then poppers. A number of tasters said that it was too red for them, under-done by the standards of what they would normally consume. I wanted to say: I would not eat it under any circumstances. But I cooked, and they ate.

This one has roasted garlic on top. Cook a cup full of garlic buds in the oven, put it in the food processor, add herbs and spread on top of the nearly done meat. I did not try it, but everyone who walked by my cooking space commented on how good it smelled:' that's the garlic', I said. And remembered a helpful hint I read years ago: what to do, if you have been lollygagging around all day, not thinking about preparing a meal to put on the table when you family comes in, famished. Throw some diced onions in a frying pan, start cooking and stirring. It will make the house smell great, make the family believe something is going on, and give you a few minutes to pull a rabbit out of your hat. Plus many a main dish can be improved by, or starts with a sautéed onion.

I think I am acclimating. And getting better at it. But yesterday I really struggled to get two dishes done at the same time. This was a major problem when I started cooking, still at home, learning how to put a meal on the table. I remember how difficult it is to see into the nearly immediate future to figure out what order things should be prepped in. A long learning curve of when to start different dishes, what the sequence should be for it all to be ready and on the table at the same time. When you are a kid and are called to 'wash your hands, it's time to eat', you don't realize how complicated that dance can be. But when you start doing it in your own space, for yourself: a learning process, of continuous guesswork/confusion/doubt/mistakes. Especially without motherly advice.

The other recipe was for a bread pudding, that tasted more like an omelet. I would not have given it the pudding name, even though it had eggs, cream, and cubed bread from the bakery in it. Because it also had cheese, garlic, leeks, thyme. It was good, and tasty, but when you hear the words 'bread pudding', your brain and taste buds are thinking: dessert, something sweet and tasty to end the meal.

travelin' south, east, south....

Tuesday, November 11, 2014
...is what happened when I left Chattanooga mid-afternoon on Sunday. Went to church and had a pizza for lunch with the folks in TN, then started back to Atlanta. I planned to spend the night in Decatur then drive up to SC on Monday. So I won't include the miles I drove on Sunday afternoon to the final figure: 406, which is my total for yesterday, starting at 6 a.m., and finally getting home at 9:00 to unload and fall into bed.

Had a good visit with my pen pal in SC, but sad that I did not have time to veer off to the south and visit with cuzzin who lives down towards Columbia. I'll have to do that on a Saturday, when she is not working. I will go and spend the day, we will have time to visit, poke around little towns in the area, and find some good places to eat. Or just sit on the couch and talk/laugh/reminisce.

I knew better: but did it anyway. Left Greenville about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, with full knowledge that traffic in the vicinity of Atlanta would be awful. I was hopeful that I could at least get through the worst of it before it got too dark to see. Thinking I could tolerate either the vehicular congestion or the darkness, but not both at the same time. When I got to the perimeter road: thousands of people in a hurry, we all slowed considerably, so that was actually in  my favor. My stress level gets even higher when I am compelled to travel at a high rate of speed just to keep from getting runned over. High speed bumper cars is not  my idea of fun.

So I stopped in Decatur, to get a bite to eat, and let all those thousands have time to get the worst of it sorted out amongst themselves. Which caused me to be later getting home, but decreased the stress level dramatically.  My new'ish Toyota was getting really good mileage out on the interstate highway: average mpg: 48-50. Plus the gas in SC is always a bit lower, so I stopped and filled up on  my way back to GA, where I had noticed it was $2.55/gal.

travelin' north...part 2

Saturday, November 8, 2014
...means that I did not bring enough clothing. I am so in denial about fall and the approach of cold weather, this is the second time in as many weeks I have left home with insufficient wearing apparel. We made a run to wallyworld yesterday, skirting around the base of Lookout Mtn, to go to a little town on the western side of the slope, where there is a Sonic! and a Taco Bell! and a Walmart?

Where I bought a fleece zip-up jacket that was so cheap, it might even be disposable. I will wear it to work, and when it gets so shabby, or has spots on it from bleach spatter, I will likely just put it in the box to donate to the thrift store. We also bought me a couple of pair of footless tights, when I found I had been 'invited' to go along to a zumba class. That should be plenty amusing.

I did not want to expose too much of myself to the un-prepared, so I thought I should have tights or leggings, something that would cover up enough real estate to feel decent. Upon taking the stretchy tights out of the packaging, they look like they might fit my thumb. Fortunately, I am a compulsive saver of register receipts, so this will be returned in short order.

We are headed to zumba. Try not to laugh....

travelin' north to...

Friday, November 7, 2014
Chattanooga by way of Decatur. This is my once-a-month trip to TN to spend the weekend and get some couch-sitting, giggling, handy-helping with laundry folding, general all-purpose amusement squared away. I had to set the alarm for 4:30, to get myself organized and loaded up so as to get into the metro before traffic got too chaotic on the interstate into Atlanta. Several deliveries to make before I left town, but actually got on the road around 5, which put me into town and off the streets by 7:00.

My plan was to walk the doggies around the neighborhood and then go by to visit my cousin before heading north towards Tennessee. Cousin and I did quiet a bit of commiserating about problems related to the auntie in south GA who is struggling with some tough decisions. And came to no conclusion, other than recognizing that the time is nigh for actually making and acting on the decisions that must get decided upon. Also had plans to stop on the north side of town, up near Marietta to visit a friend from my years at Valdosta State College, when I was taking art classes there. We had lunch and I went on to TN.

Driving north, I observed gas prices steadily going down. Had a report when I got to St. Elmo neighborhood about buying gas for both vehicles at about $1.75 a gallon. They had a good discount on the grocery card, and filled up both cars when they went to the pump, saving over seventy-five cents per gallon. It's always quite a bit less up in TN, I guess due to less taxes imposed by legislature. So I always try to fill up before heading back south.

the opposite of 'un-fun'...

...would, of course, be Fun. After I wrote that recent blog about my 'lack of fun-ness' in the new position I have undertaken in the work place, I began to ponder what might qualify for meeting the requirements. In  looking back over recent history, I think I found an event that more than meets my definition. Which would basically mean some/most any time and place where I was with my two favorite people.

I am sure I wrote last summer about the tubing event on the river in north GA. I think it was the Ocoee, or maybe Oconee, depending on your affinity for 'n'. But it flows down into extreme north GA from TN, and crosses the state line at Copper Hill, TN/McCaysville, GA. And is extremely cold, coming out of the feeder streams from the foothills that creep over into the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. In all liklihood spring fed, which means teeth-chattering temperature. We went in the middle of the summer, so it was a warm as it would possibly ever get, and still bone-chilling. So much so that I opted for a kayak instead of a tube, where my backside would not be in the water for several hours.

I don't recall any particular outstanding details about the meandering down the slowly moving water, a steady current, but fairly smooth. A couple of small rocky/shoal-y places with rapids, creating a drop we had to make, not navigating but let the current decide. But mostly at an easy pace. At one point it started raining hard enough for us to decide we needed to get off the water. So we found a place to get up the riverbank and under a picnic shelter in a small park.

But, like I keep tellin' 'em: it's all about Time - we squander it, while this is really the only thing that is in a strictly limited supply. None of us - not one- is promised tomorrow. So we need to seriously consider how we spend what we have, make more conscious, deliberate, pre-meditated decisions about what we do with each day.

So, in conclusion, dear reader (sounding like Miss Manners) I would have to say that up until today, and what ever amusements it might bring, the best fun of recent months is probably going to be: tubing/kayaking mid summer in north Georgia icy water. But there is always the possibility that today could be the best yet! And ... we all need to be planning some powerfully memorable event for mid-December: do something with your favorite people on 12-13-14. Make it fun and unforgettable.

un-fun...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
... might not really be a word, but it does describe, fairly accurately, what my opinion is about certain aspects of my new role as a Publix associate.

Several coworkers have asked' how I am getting along in my new job assignment?' I try to make myself smile when I give a response. And hope to have to presence of mind to report that I think it will get better with time and experience. Since I have only been doing the cooking demonstrations for about a month, I would like to believe that more time doing it, I will improve skills, techniques, learn short cuts, simplify, improve interaction skills with customers,  practice my 'sales pitch', remember to smile all the time (like a cheerleader or used car sales person?) 

I have to go in at 11:00 today, and do a new recipe until 8:00 tonight (with a hour out for lunch break). I am convinced I am trying to be a good sport about it, and hope that managers feel the same way. So important to have them think well, approve of my behavior and activities when on the clock.

But the truth of the matter is: I completely failed to consider how much meat is involved. I never considered when I offered myself up to be trained that every meal revolves around some form/type of animal. There is some sort of muscle, animal protein in every recipe I have cooked thus far. I know that there will occasionally be a time when the sampling demo. will be side dishes, or even better: desserts! Yay!  But everything I have prepared in my limited experience has started with deceased animal: beef (big thick New York strip steaks, cooked medium well, so still quite raw in the center). Or raw  shrimps that had to be split open and stuffed with crab meat, then baked. Or pork loin that had to be sliced in half, put in a zip-bag of marinade and cooked, twice; once to brown in a fry pan, then put in the oven to bake. Or raw chicken strips than had to be cubed, before tossing in flour/spices and browned.

Of course, I am wearing gloves during all aspects of food prep. Never touching with my actual fingerprints the food that will be served to customers. But the thought that all the recipes developed in the test kitchens in Lakeland would involve a raw animal. That had to be cooked, and sliced, then served to the passers-by, customers waiting in line for me to put the goods on a little plate and say: "Would you like to give it a try?"

sleepin' in my own ....

Tuesday, November 4, 2014
...little space. Dorothy was right. (There's No Place Like Home.)

Left Valdosta about 4:45, headed north. I bought gas at Sam's Club in Lowndes County for $2.62/gal. Yeah, right. And cigarettes will eventually get back down to 25 cents a pack, like they were in the machines when I was ten years old.

unexpected travelin'...

Monday, November 3, 2014
...will happen today, when it appears I will go to Valdosta. My auntie, the one who is the last remaining sibling of my mom, and the only one of that generation left from both sides of my family, has a dr. appt. on Tuesday. I'd been planning/expected to go down on Thursday, carrying great optimism in hopes of her allowing me to go with her to a medical appointment on Thursday morning. She has cancelled that office visit, but I know she has one scheduled for Tuesday afternoon with a orthopedic specialist. The bone man is one she has a history with: knee replacement, surgery on a damaged knee and elbow after a fall years ago.

So... though I had expected to have a couple of days at home, free of extended driving, I am planning to drive to Valdosta this afternoon  I will spend the night with the auntie and hope she will permit me to go along on this office visit. His office is not that distant from her house, and she has often, with considerable satisfaction, commented that she is so 'conveniently located' to all the places she needs to be: banking, doctors, grocery store.  All literally within several blocks of her house.

The family practice doctor she sees has told her she should not be driving, and though she has been compliant (to the best of my knowledge) she is not a happy individual in honoring this. He also gave her some other unwanted news, which is likely the reason she does not want to see him again. Meaning: If she does not encounter him, he cannot give her more advice/opinions. She has been walking every where she goes - which is not really such a bad thing, as I know the exercise is beneficial to her in a number of ways. But also puts her a risk of having a fall, which would create a seriously bad situation should that occur, and she be injured.

At any rate: driving to south GA this afternoon. It should be a pleasant experience: lots of cotton still standing out in fields, brilliant white, almost 'glowing' in the bright sunshine all the way to the horizon, ready for harvesting. And several farm stands along the way that always have dozens and dozens of pumpkins for sale, along with other produce grown locally.

travelin'... (Saturday)

Sunday, November 2, 2014
....means covering the greatest distance in the least amount of time: hurtling through the air at great speeds. Leaving VA and returning to GA. (I got to the 'gate' at the airport as they were boarding, and asked someone what was going on, and the mom with the small child said 'families are next', so I just stood right there in the 'family line', and went down the gangway with moms and strollers - letting them all assume I was part of that group. Was that bad?)

My brother went into town mid-morning to get the little two year old, and bring her out to the house: giving him time to play with her, and giving her dad time to get some chores done that were on his honey-do list. She is definitely an interesting, curious, busy person. I clearly recall the day I came home from birthing my second born, and realizing that every little person needs to be accompanied by two adults: one to be on duty and one to be resting for the next shift. I can see  how one little two year old can easily exhaust two capable parents: busy, busy, busy. To say nothing of keeping the two grandparents on their toes. Busy, busy, busy. I know it's all part of the process, experiencing life and experimenting with every thing she sees, learning how the world around her is ordered.

The dad and the Pop-pop came over for lunch. Yummy beef stew and cornbread. Then the dad took the wound-up-but-weary little person  home. I am sure she was asleep in her car seat before they got to the stop sign at the end of the street. And the grandparents probably took a nap as well.

My flight left RIC at 4:05, so I got to the airport and on board. Sitting next to a couple of kids who had been touring Virginia historical sites for two weeks, headed home to Texas.The parents were probably deliberate in their seating, and were several rows away. Uneventful flight, arriving at ATL in a mostly timely manner. I walked the tunnel, underground path back to the terminal, after sitting for most of the day, just needed to use  my legs.

 F. and S. met me with plans to take the Marta back to Decatur. But I suggested we go someplace and eat together.  So we did, which included very slow service. Which caused me to be 10:00 p.m. going to bed. Glad I had that extra time to sleep due to time falling back an hour... or did I?