*growl**grumble**curmudgeonish snarl*

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Mornin’ all.

Winter is over and the bears have come out. And not “internet” bears…

*If you don’t already know what the internet calls a “bear”, then you don’t live a life where the info would be very pertinent. I’m just sayin’, Google at your own risk if you must, but don’t get offended if you don’t like what you see.*

…I’m talking teeth gnashing, ornery summbitches that’ll mess your shit up for a pile of trash. They’re out and they’re fierce.

At least one of them is. I’m in a terrible mood. Not even this coffee is helping.

To be fair, it’s shit coffee because I had to make it. Teen 2.0 forgot to set a pot up for us. It’s okay. Since he is the coffee connoisseur in the house, he’ll be suffering for his forgetfulness. Instant karma.

The cat woke me up early by licking my nose, then screaming in my face. I didn’t actually mind because I was having terrible dreams. I got downstairs to find a pile of rubber-band-induced vomit.

Bad dreams. Shit sleep. Horrible coffee. And cat vomit. Helluva great way to start the day.

“Bethie, where did the ‘glass is half full’ attitude we constantly get annoyed by go?”

Sorry. I warned you I was feeling snarly. I’ve got a lot of clutter at the moment, both physical and mental.

See, I’ve been trying to clear out the dining room, AKA:Oscar’s Trash Can. I’ve got guests coming all through May, and I must must MUST get that room in order. Or, in as much order as I can get it. I’m going to do my best, but I’m still a hoarder. There will be a lot of shit left in there even when I’m done.

“Just grab a box of trash bags and go to town.”

If it were that easy, don’t you think I already would have done it? HM? I’d LOVE to be able to let go of shiny things and greasy things and squiggly bits and knobby doodads and twisty thingamabobs… I look at other peoples’ houses and honestly wonder how in the hell they live with nothing in their rooms. It’s legitimately a mystery to me.

I actually have let go of a lot, you know. I have one room that’s crammed full, not an entire house anymore. The Big Clean a couple years back has stuck for every other room.

And I will throw out a fair amount from the dining room, too.

It’s just going to take me awhile. I can’t just grab shit randomly and shove it into a trash bag. I can’t do it. I will sit there side eyeing the stack of bags and get so anxious that I have to- HAVE TO- know what’s inside. It’s a compulsion, not a desire. Not a want. Not a “quirk”.

And, to be clear, it’s not “garbage”. None of it is rotting or discarded wrappings or a collection of every rind from every piece of watermelon I’ve ever eaten. There aren’t stacks of junk crushing mummified animal bodies flat or piles of rat shit heaped up on anything. It’s mostly metal bits I’ve stripped from cars and electronics, all sorted according to the CCFS.

“CCFS?”

You aren’t familiar with the Coffee Can Filing System? It’s similar to the tried and true Dewey Decimal, except for in almost every single way. The CCFS goes like this:

Greasy things go in large plastic Maxwell House containers. Once they get de-greased, they are broken up into large utilitarian bits, like brackets and push rods and structural pieces, and small shiny bits. The utilitarian pieces go into large cardboard cans, like from cheap ass coffee we drink on our broke weeks, and the regular shiny bits get placed in small metal cans, like from Hills Bros., or Chase and Sanborn, because they are special.

Springs have their own cans, because springs are awesome and deserve their own cans.

Nuts and washers go into old film cans, the metal ones 35mm film used to come in before they started putting it in little plastic cylinders. I know they’re not technically coffee cans, but come on. They’re just nuts and washers. Duh.

…unless they are brass. Those are special and, as such, also get their own can.

Bolts or screws go into a huge Folger’s can, because why wouldn’t they?! Unless they are automotive interior bolts, which go into a separate can, or tiny electronic screws, which go into several small Altoids tins.

Now, electronic bits are harder, because they are small, fragile, and somewhat toxic. I have a bead sorter for the most delicate parts, which also holds transistors and resistors. Those go in there because they are small and round. Like beads.

Then we get to my super special cans. They’re not actually coffee cans. They are aluminum food cans, the kind that have the lining on the inside for acidic foods like tomatoes. Those are where the prime bits go, and I have made a special little stand for those out of an old film projector case.

“What would be a ‘prime bit’ Bethie?”

I’m glad you asked!

A prime bit would be something either very shiny, like a computer hard drive internal disc, or something that’s uniquely shaped, like the impeller from inside a diesel injection pump that looks just like the inside of the Hadron super collider if you hold it out away from you and squint. Basically, if I’ve never seen it before, or it’s super shiny, it goes in a special can in the special drawer in the special stand where I can easily access it.

So that is the CCFS in a nutshell. Of course there are tons of variations of the system, depending on the finds, the season, my ever changing whims… It’s kind of a subjective filing system.

But it’s mine. Every hoarder has one.

We have this customer at work that the night crew calls The Magazine Lady. She comes in and sits in a mart kart in front of the magazine rack for hours early in the morning. She does buy some things, and when she does, those things need to be placed in bags. She’ll pull her money from her purse, which is also in little bags, and then sort her change and her receipt into bags when she’s done. Everything she buys goes in its own bag, even if it’s a bagged product, then they get put together in a larger bag inside ANOTHER bag.

I know what her house looks like, folks. I know what her car looks like. I know what life looks like for her day to day. She follows the PBFS, and she is bound to it by much stronger ties than those I deal with. I feel bad for her.

Mostly.

She’s not just a hoarder, she’s also a real asshole, so my sympathy only goes so far. You can be a kind hoarder. And let’s face it, if you’ve got such a strong difficulty for people to look past to begin with, you SHOULD strive to at least be kind. I’m grouchy today, but I’m not an asshole. Usually.

Hell, could you imagine? A fat, broke, inept, compulsive hoarder…I really can’t afford to be an asshole on top of it. I have to have at least one redeeming quality. If you can’t achieve any other standard in life, kindness is the one quality you should always prioritize.

It’s not easy to work through the stuff in the dining room. It brings up other things for me, memories and emotional baggage I wish would just get out of my psyche forever. I wish you could tip your head to the side and whack the top and let the mental clutter fall out of your ear like in the cartoons. Wouldn’t that be great?

Ah, but then you’d risk throwing the baby out with the bath water, eh?

I just have to keep at it I suppose. I completely cleared a walkway on my first day. I broke down a holding box of parts I grabbed and hadn’t yet processed on the second. I’ll get there. I know I will. My guests will still think it’s a horrible mess, because let’s face it, the CCFS isn’t for everyone. But I’ll know how far I’ve come.

I just have to keep plugging away.

Thus concludes a bit of a Musing for Friday, April 28, 2017. It’s already the 28th? Where did April go??? Shit. Now I have to register my car before work today or risk getting a ticket Monday morning on my way in. We’ve got some really sneaky cops that have gotten very good at hiding along the route to work. It’s kind of impressive, really. This one hides his rig so well you absolutely cannot see it at all until it’s too late. I have to tip my hat…and hurry to get my car registered before the shark gets me…

I can declare part of a store a sovereign nation if I just plant a flag, right?

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Mornin’ all, and a Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

…and a Happy Regular-But-Still-Beautiful Sunday to those who don’t!

It was a long week at work, filled with creepy bunny cakes and even creepier bunny cake buying customers. I’ve said before that holidays have customer themes, a collective mood shared by the holiday shoppers. Thanksgiving is friendly. Christmas is rushed. Easter? Turns out Easter’s mood is “douchey.”

I was not expecting that.

I had more flat out rude customers this week alone than I’ve had since I started there. Everyone wanted what they wanted, no matter if it was something we sold or not. They wanted it, and not only did they want it NOW NOW NOW, they were totally willing to make a scene if we couldn’t get it.

It was like a week long temper tantrum.

Ah, but peppered throughout there were just enough happy old ladies trying to give out unwrapped hard candies in gratitude for help (true story!), lost husbands who almost cried with relief when you found them the item their wife sent them to get, and people who wished a heartfelt “blessed Easter”, to make me not quit and keep me from shoving a creepy bunny cake up someone’s nose.

Customer service…it’s never boring.

Yesterday my store manager totally ruined my plans for a coup.

It’s spring, so our general merchandise department sells lawn furniture. In a grocery store. Because…? And I’m not talking just a couple folding chairs. I mean, everything you need to have a bangin’ backyard BBQ. From the chairs to the grill, patio sets, umbrellas, tiki torches to keep away the mosquitoes, huge wicker couches, and even pop up screen houses.

They set up a huge display of these items right in front of my department. And they went all out, too. They totally staged it on top of a stack of pallets to look like someone’s back yard. They put up one of the screen houses, set up a wicker furniture ensemble, a table, a grill, some tiki torches…

Now, I said it was a rough week. As I stood there icing the creepy ass bunnies, a plan of escape formed. I was going to rally my fellow bakery employees and claim the display as our back yard. I had it all worked out. I’d bribe the managers with margaritas, and anyone who objected would get a good stainless steel BBQ tong-ing (also on sale this week for only $3.99! Wow what a price! Hurry, supplies won’t last!).

I think we have a mole in the bakery, because yesterday, the planned day of attack, my store manager decided to make my dreams of an indoor backyard BBQ much more difficult. He went and put huge stacks of plastic lawn chairs around the display, blocking my entrance up the pallets to my work haven. He kept looking at me while he did it, too. Giving me the eyeball, as if he knew my plans and felt triumphant for thwarting them.

He thinks he won? Bitch, please. After some consideration, I think he accidentally played right into my hand.

First, we have to root out the mole. Someone squealed, I just know it. I’ll find out who and ice them.

…and I mean literally ice them…with icing. I’ll just fill that yap trap with delicious buttercream and they’ll be too busy enjoying a tasty treat to blab.

Then, we attack in the early hours. We move before the other departments are set up and watching, when it’s just night crew filling frozen all the way at the other end of the store. We stealthily gather supplies, then move the stacks out lawn chairs of the way long enough to take over the screen house, before pulling them in tighter and using them to our advantage. What at first seemed to be an obstacle will end up being our fortification.

It’s brilliant. We’ll already have the advantage of higher ground because the thing’s set up really high on pallets. The stacks of chairs will be our ramparts, and we can just pelt anyone who’s stupid enough to try and breach our defenses with flaming marshmallows.

It’s a rock solid plan. I see no way for it to fail. And then when we’ve gained control, I’ll invite you over for a fancy umbrella drink and some burgers.

Doesn’t that sound a lot better than work?

Thus concludes a very quick Musing for Easter Sunday if you’re inclined, or Regular Sunday if you’re not, April 16, 2017. I’m thinking this might be a record short one. I just have a ton of things to do this morning, but wanted to say hey. Everyone have a great day, no matter what your plans are or are not! And if you do end up in a legit back yard BBQ and the good times are topped off with a few drinks, don’t be an ass. Let someone else drive.

One brave little peeper fighting the good fight…

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Mornin’ all.

Guess what we have?

PEEPERS!!!

…actually, let me clarify. We have a peeper. One singular, lonely little peeper outside going, “Guys? Guys? Hello? Anyone? Guys? Guys? No one? Shit.”

Hang in there, little peeper dude. By tonight you’ll have friends.

SO warm out yesterday! Today is supposed to be the same. Then…well, then we aren’t going to talk about the weekend forecast. We’re just going to enjoy the warm couple days and hope little peeper dude has a sweater. He’s gonna need it.

We grilled last night. Ribs. And in spite of it being a Monday, many of our neighbors did the same. It was almost like a summer night.

Almost.

In the summer, we’ve got enough warm nights for the local folks to wait for a weekend when they can turn their backyard BBQ into one long Friday and Saturday hootenanny. We didn’t get the drunken shouting or fireworks. The “classic rock” end of the street did not try to drown out the “country” side, which is good because our house is smack dab in the DMZ (de-musicized zone) (stop groaning. You know what you signed up for when you opened this blog. Take your lumps.). It was a warm Monday night, and everyone was just happy to char their meat while their kiddies played tag. It was almost peaceful.

Almost.

See, while the people behaved themselves, there was an animal war going on, one that I don’t think many city dwellers would understand. Peepers and BBQing locals aren’t the only sounds of warm weather. Around here, you’ve also got the pets that have spent the winter cooped up inside.

“Bethie, we’ve all heard dogs barking at each other.”

Yes. But have you ever heard how a dog’s barking sets off a rooster, who then irritates a duck?

We’ve got many families around us that keep chickens. In the winter, small chickens wouldn’t do so well under two feet of snow, so they’re either kept inside or folks use them and wait to buy more chickens until it’s warm enough to put them outdoors.

“What do they do with last year’s chickens?”

…really? I mean, I know you’re a city slicker and all, but even city slickers have KFC.

But, like I said, not all. Some folks do bring their chickens in for the winter, though those are more like pets and show chickens.

“….show chickens? Now I know you’re screwing with me.”

Google it. You’ll find yourself looking at some fancy ass chickens.

…did you Google? Apology accepted.

Now, there’s a neighbor who keeps chickens and ducks. They live up on the hill behind our house, so we’re in an audio bowl, if you will. We can hear everything coming off that hill as if it’s happening right next to us.

Their neighbor has a dog. It’s a big dog with a deep voice. The baritone doggie does not like the off-key rooster. The off-key rooster doesn’t give a shit. And the duck? Hell, I think he was just like, “Oooh! We’re shouting now? I’M IN.”

It went something like this:

Cockadoodle doo!”

BARK BARK WOOF.”

Quack?”

COCKADOODLE DOOOOO!!!”

BARKWOOFBARKBARKWOOF.”

Quack! Quack quack?!

*moment of silence*

…peep…”

Ah, the sounds of almost summer in my little hamlet. They never seem to change. I was raised here, not half a mile from where I live now. My grandparents lived up on that street on the hill behind my current house. These sounds are familiar, comforting…nostalgic.

Hey, remember ambrosia salad?

Warm nights around the grill always remind me of my Grammie R’s house when I was a child, when we’d have family cookouts, though we never called them cookouts when they happened at Grammie’s. I have no idea why. Maybe because they were more than that.

When you picture a cookout, you picture a come-as-you-are, relaxed hang out. My grammie wasn’t formal, she was just very “50’s housewife.” She’d have these great parties, and food would be cooked out on the grill. But she was always dressed, her hair done up, the house immaculate. It was structured chaos, where a cookout is just whatever happens.

I’m not saying the structure in any way diminished the good time. Boy, were those nights fun! They’d get louder and louder as the beers and cocktails flowed, and we’d dart in and out of the happy adults, even happier to be able to have fun with the other kids while the grown ups were distracted. And yes, these parties would have us running in the yard catching fireflies at some point like a goddamn Norman Rockwell painting. I said they were very classic American cookouts, and I wasn’t kidding.

And the food. THE FOOD. My gram was an amazing cook. She always put on a spread that was over the top, and yet, just right. And all of it was 50’s and 60’s party foods. Little meatballs on toothpicks, cream cheese stuffed celery, chips and dips, crackers and a cheese ball, the kind that’s covered in chopped nuts and is an unnatural red and orange belly bomb. Mmm. Salads. The salads! Regular tossed salad, of course, but also potato salad, jello-salad, pistachio salad, ambrosia…

The main course would be meat, chicken or steaks, that Grandpa would fuss over at the grill pit he built into their stone wall while the rest of the guys would mosey on over and give their unwanted input. I don’t remember ever eating a hot dog or a hamburger at one of their parties. If it was chicken, it got a good soak in Italian dressing before it hit the heat. If it was steak, it got a luxurious teriyaki marinade that was so good it is one of our Family Recipes.

Potatoes with sour cream. All the accouterments any classic housewife would have on the table, too. Pickles, in several varieties. Olives, green, of course, since they have the cute little pimento stuffing… There was no half-assing it with Grammie. When it came to food, it had to be done right. And in her mind, every party would be a raging success if the food was on point.

She wasn’t wrong.

Good food = good times.

“Uh, Bethie? You do realize that’s not the healthiest attitude about food.”

No. Don’t do that. Don’t you psychoanalyze my nostalgic trip brought on by warm weather, the sounds of the neighborhood I grew up in, and the fighting spirit of the lone peeper. Don’t you dare.

EVERY CULTURE EVER has epic food tied to their major celebrations. You want a good time? Feed people, throw on some music, and let the booze flow. While maybe it’s not the absolute healthiest attitude about food, it’s not the worst, is it? The worst has to be the comfort a quart of ice cream brings you when you eat it alone in a dark room while watching tv because you feel like a fat piece of shit so fuck it why not.

Gah. We got off track.

There is a trend right now to bring back those classic foods, and I’m all for it.

I want ambrosia salad.

All those foods, actually. Wouldn’t it be fun? I want to have fruit magically suspended in Jello. I want my kids to know the simple beauty of stuffed celery, and I even want them to experience the disappointingly fake taste of those cheese balls. I want them to romp around the back yard while steaks and chicken are tended by folks arguing about “one flip or two”, while a couple old ladies sit in lawn chairs drinking cocktails and being sassy.

And I want to do it right along with them.

The classic 50’s housewife trope sucks in almost every way. But they nailed the food. You gotta give ’em that. They nailed a summer evening with the ones they loved. I want to do that this summer.

I think I’ll skip the curlers and the shell of Aqua Net, though. Wouldn’t want to put on airs.

Thus concludes a Nostalgic Musing for Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

Grammie’s teriyaki Marinade:

½ cup veg oil (original recipe is corn oil, I believe, but I use canola. Don’t use olive, as it’ll impart a flavor you don’t want)

½ cup soy sauce

1/3 cup packed DARK brown sugar

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp powdered ginger

½ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp ground mustard

½ tsp secret ingredient

Pour over steaks that have been beaten or poked. (Yes, I know that it’s not food safety standards to poke the steaks. But I always poke ’em. What can I say. I live life on the edge. It’s up to you whether or not you want to walk the tightrope without a net like me.) Marinate in the fridge all day, flipping them around every couple hours. Cook steak on grill, pour marinade into small saucepan. Boil the marinade for 2 minutes to kill any bacteria and thicken, then pour over your baked potato. Trust me. Your mouth will be happy. But, once again, cook that shit. DO NOT use the marinade raw after meat has been soaking in it all day!

…and if you think I’m sharing the secret ingredient, you’re dreaming! It’s a family recipe. Duh. But, this will be a good base. Try different things and make it your own.

Well played, Mother Nature…

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Mornin’ all.

I can’t believe it’s April already. Where does the time go?

I know, I know. Only old folks say that, and they say it a lot. I’m not all that old, but I get it. I blinked for a hot minute somewhere around Groundhog Day, and we fast forwarded in time to April.

Well, we humans did. Mother Nature? Eh, not so much. She’s still stuck in an endless loop of snow and ice and sadness. I just want spring. That’s all.

I’m not alone, either. I was out shoveling the insanely heavy slurpee she dumped on us yesterday morning and I overheard this exchange from two miserable song birds sitting in the tree across the way:

“I told you we should wait another couple weeks, Harold. But noooooo. No-o-o-o-o. You HAD to beat the traffic.”

“Shut up, Phyllis.”

“We could have stayed with the Jensons in that four star mangrove, if you were so itchy to get away from my mother…”

“YOU’RE the one that wanted to get away from your mother!”

“I can’t think in that place! Everything’s so cluttered and…”

“I’d take your mother’s cramped nest over Enid’s cooking! I said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s no way in hell I’m going to spend two weeks choking down stink bugs just because they’re some hipster foodie trend. I don’t care how old fashioned it makes me sound, but give me a plain worm any day.”

“*arches eyebrow* *nods toward snow piles* And how’s that working out for ya?”

“*sniff*…shut up, Phyllis.”

I think the only thing those early birds are catching is a cold.

*author’s note: Yes, I’m fully aware that you don’t actually catch a cold from being cold. Sheesh. It’s just for comedic value. Is that really your line? Really? In everything you read, THAT’S your objection? Hmm??*

It’s a spring snow, though. Heavy. Arm, back, leg achingly heavy. A real shovel-breaker. BUT, it shouldn’t last long. The beauty of the spring snow is exactly the same thing that causes the misery at the shovel. It’s warm enough outside to ensure that whatever accumulates won’t be around for long.

April.

Did anyone do any April Fooling? I did not. I generally don’t. I know people who love the…holiday? I mean, I don’t think it’s an actual holiday, is it? It’s a day of resigned annoyance borne from a bygone era of lifelong serfdom misery. Their lives sucked so badly that for one day- ONE DAY- they just needed a way to laugh at the misfortune of others, to trick someone into being the fool so they could feel just a tad superior for a single shining moment of glory.

If it is actually considered a holiday, it’s a shit one.

I don’t mind mild pranks where no one gets hurt. A guilty pleasure of mine is the show Impractical Jokers. It’s funny to watch someone get tricked, have a harmless giggle, move on.

What I don’t get, though, are the pranks that take it to the next level. I cannot wrap my head around wanting to cause your friends pain for laughs, be it physical or emotional. I don’t get what’s funny about buttering the floor so someone falls and cracks their head open, and I don’t understand why anyone would dream up staging a kidnapping where the friend/victim honestly believes one of his buddies was killed (actual YouTube prank by a hideous human being). The kid now has legit PTSD. Oh, yeah. That’s a fucking laugh riot.

I think anyone who could do stuff like that is a true sadist.

“Bethie, I think that’s a little harsh.”

Is it? I’m not saying they go out and torture the neighbor’s kittens. I’m saying that a mind that thinks, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if we abducted Jeff, put a pillow sack over his head, threw him in the back of a van, drove around awhile, shoved him to the ground, shot off a gun, and then ripped off the sack so he could see his best friend face down on the ground in a pool of fake blood,” is not a healthy person. That dude absolutely tortured someone who was supposed to be a close friend, someone he supposedly cared about. He not only tortured him in the moment, but gave the kid lifelong mental problems. For a laugh. And DEFENDED the content when the internet said, “Not cool, bro.”
Think about that. It was bad enough that the internet– the greatest hive of villainy and deceit ever conceived- thought it went too far. The same juggernaut of debauchery that give uninhibited access to Two Girls One Cup drew the line at this “prank”.

That is not someone I would be comfortable being around. And it’s not someone whose “work” I want to watch for shits and giggles. I honestly cannot understand the people who do.

But, a good old rubber band around the sprayer nozzle on the kitchen sink? Comedy gold.

My kids didn’t prank, either. Maybe because they’ve grown up aware of all the idiotic pranks on the internet? None of them ever really got into it at all *knock wood*. The only one that’s really tried is the youngest pup, and his are so benign that the very innocence of it all is what gets the laugh.

I don’t know if there’s anyone out there who is a Spongebob survivor. If you had kids in the early 2000s, you know what I’m talking about. There’s an April Fools episode where Spongebob spends his day pulling off pranks like giving a customer a large drink when he ordered a medium, adding an extra ice cube, etc. The littlest pup does stuff like that, then stands there with twinkling eyes waiting to see if you notice. It is extremely cute, and since he doesn’t read this blog, I can say “cute” free from fear of repercussions. I guess he’s my little April Fool. His birthday is this month, so that really works.

But shh, because he’d be SO pissed if he knew I said that.

It’s supposed to be 50 today. At the moment, my driveway looks like a spring break mud wrestling match is about to begin. Er, minus the drunk girls in bikinis and “bros” in board shorts shouting “what’s good, fam?” in a desperate attempt to sound cool and force people to like them.

The 50 degree day will, in no way, make the situation any better. I’m a bit worried. I drive a heavy clunker, and if the snow melts too fast, it might just succumb like Artax.

*NeverEnding Story fistbump*

It’s happened before. My driveway has honestly eaten a car. Tried its best to, anyway, until the tow pulled the Nissan from the brink of death.

It was right around this time of year in a funky spring not unlike this one. There was late season snow piled high from a storm, and I was having family over after a funeral.

Now, I live in an area with a lot of underground springs, and I’m right by a river. None of my yard is what I would consider stable. In fact, every year, there are new bumps and dips and outright trenches from the shifting water underneath. Our driveway stretches across a large section of this unstable land. Every spring there’s a large area of the driveway that gets squishy and mushy and awful. Usually it’s no big deal to just not park there for a few weeks, but, as I said, we were having people over and the driveway filled up fast.

We had been carefully placing cars away from the suck zone, but ran out of room. The little Nissan Sentra was the lightest car, and we figured, “Eh, seems solid enough,” when the wheels didn’t immediately start sinking. We partied as the Polish do when someone kicks off, and as the day was fading, people started to leave. As soon as the Nissan tried to move, the driveway let it be known that action was not allowed. The tires dug right down into that mud and in seconds the whole car was bumper-deep.

Now, that car was being driven by my mother.

“Oh, Bethie. Tell me you didn’t laugh.”

Oh, how I wish I could!

Was it the nice thing to do? No. Did we try everything to get it unstuck? Yes. We helped. It took a hired tow truck to move the car in the end, but we got covered in mud trying. I think that made up for the laughter.

Maybe?

But come on, people. Things turned out okay in the end, and I’m only human. You weren’t there to see just how quickly things went south. One second, perfectly normal car about to turn out of the drive. The next? Snarlax victim. It was as if the earth itself decided to suck in the rear end of the car like a spaghetti noodle. I’m sorry, Mum, but that shit’s funny. I still laugh about it today.

Maybe none of us should do April Fools tricks. We can’t possibly compete with Mother Nature.

Thus concludes the first April Musing for Sunday, Mass Effect Andromeda Day, 2017. I’m going to be playing. All day. I have been waiting for this game forever and now my screw off day is here. I’ve got soda and chips. I’ve got some kind of meat to throw in the crock pot for dinner. I’ve downloaded the updates, designed and named my character, and I am about to embark on the long awaited adventure. …so what am I still doing here???

Any Les Mis fans out there?

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*a light shines on a lone baker, center stage* *soft music begins to play*

One day more.

Another pie, another past-er-y,

On this never ending road to feed my fam-i-ly.

These customers who spend their dimes

Will surely come another time

One day more…

Mornin’ all.

Today is my tenth day straight at work. Tomorrow, I get a day off. I’m feeling a tad bit punchy, if you couldn’t tell.

Though, to be honest, isn’t starting the day off with an epic musical routine always the goal?

A coworker got injured while one of our Janes-of-all-Trades started a two week vacation. We are already short handed as it is, so it’s very hard to absorb the blow of someone missing work from being hurt.

I’ll mix the cream up fresh today

How can I pipe if it has parted?

Tomorrow I’ll be worlds away,

And yet right now my shift’s not started…

You see, we knew someone was about to get hurt. We’ve gone way too long without injury.

There’s a curse on our bakery.

No, don’t laugh. It’s true! How else would you explain the fact that in the not quite year I’ve been there, we’ve had four major injuries I can think of, if you include pregnancy. Which, let’s face it, you should.

If I worked in a large bakery, that would be a pretty fair number. Humans tend to be clumsy and inept. I do not work in a large bakery, though. I work with 7 other people. That’s it. Four major health-related reasons for missing work is a LOT in that short time span.

One more day not at my home,

One more day not in my jammies.

What a nap I might have known,

But they say they need me there…

My working theory is that someone got pissed off about an order they placed. While we do a damn fine job, mistakes happen. Or, more often, people don’t understand what they’re actually asking for when they place the order and are then ultimately disappointed when they pick up donut holes that don’t match their croquembouche dreams.

Anyway, someone was unhappy enough with their order that they hopped on a plane to New Orleans, prowled around the old quarter until they found a tiny shop filled with dried chicken feet and alligator teeth, gave the secret password to get into the hidden back room to see an ancient priestess, and had her construct a voodoo doll for each of our employees.

Only thing that makes sense when you think about it.

One more day of icing cupcakes,

We will top them with rose buds,

We’ll be ready for those orders,

They will stuff themselves with food.

Boy am I looking forward to the day off. It’s not like I’m going to do anything fabulous with it. In fact, I am going to probably catch up on housework. Woot woot. The fun don’t stop on THIS party train.

It’s just having the time to DO the housework, ya know?

I’m not a full time employee. Hell, around here it seems like “full time” is just a bedtime story folks tell their kids to trick them into staying in school. A mythical carrot dangled in front of their naive noses, just to be pulled away by modern corporate America. Some weeks I only get about 25 hours. Not these past couple weeks. Those have been almost full time. Juuuust shy so that I don’t qualify for benefits.

So not quite full time. Doesn’t sound like a lot, does it?

But then there’s the other part of life that comes with having a passel of kids. It just feels like every day I fall further behind on my list.

I’m not complaining. I like the job, I like getting money. That passel sure eats a lot and last time I checked, grocery stores weren’t giving out chickens and spuds for free. I’m just saying that tomorrow will feel damn good.

Watch them oooh and ahhh,

Get them testing treats,

Never get to rest when sales are at their peak,

Here a little taste,

There a little try,

Get ’em with a sample and then watch them buy.

Teen Prime bought me an early birthday present. Mass Effect: Andromeda. I am DYING to play it, but I am a good mummy.

…actually, I’m not. At best, I’m so-so. But, I do have my moments, and one of them is waiting to play the game until Teen Prime can be here for the weekend to watch. He loves watching people play. It didn’t work out this week, so all I can do is cast longing glances at the gleaming new game disc and smell the potential trapped within the pristine plastic.

If he could have made it down, that’s what I’d be doing from punch out time today until clock in time Monday morning. A bit of sleep in between, and I’d come up for air once in awhile to make sure the passel had wrassled up some grub and weren’t bleeding. Instead, we clean. *sigh* Hey, at least we get to clean at home, right?

Gaming. That would have been an awesome way to spend …

Tomorrow I won’t be at the baker-ay. Tomorrow I’ll clean house all day…

Tomorrow we’ll discover

What our laundry piles have in store.

One more tart,

One more caaaaaake,

ONE

DAY

MORE

Thus concludes a…Musing? Is it, though? Is it REALLY? Or is it more like insane rambling?…for Saturday, March 25, 2017. I get it, Weird Al. Props.

Who the hell invited Stella!?

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Mornin’ all.

So here’s the thing. Two weeks ago, it was 65. Sunny. T-shirts were dusted off and donned by the citizens of the area eager to let the door hit Winter in its ass on the way out.

Of course, spaghetti strap tank tops that stop way too short and hot pants that would have been better off left on the store shelf also came into play. Can’t have a warm day without a few folks stuffing themselves into knit wear that’s probably silently weeping the whole time.

“Bethie! Are you fat shaming?”

No. I am refusal-to-wear-the-proper-sized-clothing shaming. They make clothes in different sizes for a reason. If wearing your clothes tests the physical limits of thread, you should wear a bigger size. If your feet turn purple because your hot pants are cutting off your circulation, you should wear a bigger size. If you need “someone to pull it up while I suck it in” to get any part of it zipped, you should probably go ahead and wear a bigger size.

Trust me. You’ll feel better. You’ll look better. Stop obsessing over the number and just wear what actually fits.

Anyway, we were all enjoying the laid back intro to spring, when Mother Nature said, “Psych.”

Winter storm Stella. They have named my enemy. Supposed to be a real nasty piece of work, too. They’re talking potential FEET of snow. In mid March. Not unprecedented by any means, but not a common occurrence. March snow tends to be a few inches of heavy, wet stuff that melts away in a day or two. This one? This one’s gonna take a bit longer.

It has put me in a funk. I am vexed. *slurps coffee* And the coffee’s not doing all that much to help, if I’m going to be honest. I woke up with heart burn and didn’t want to make it worse, so I watered down the usual varnish. Just doesn’t have the normal kick in the ass my body has come to expect.

Maybe I’ll grab a fresh cup, full strength, and just do a Pepto chaser.

“Ew.”

Snowstorm. Heartburn. And my cat shredded a whole roll of tp in the night. I gotta get this shit turned around. I still have to work, and you can’t make a nice cake when you’re pissy. Hm. What can we do to make this day better?

*whisper from off stage*

Hang on a sec. One of my go-go dancers is trying to get my attention.

*whispers**muttering**sound of a guitar tuning echoes through the quiet living room*

I’m back, and I have a plan. *achem* Oh, yeah, sorry. WE have a plan. *waves finger* Cue the go-go dancers and fire up the catchy theme music, because we’re going to have ourselves a….

* * HEADLINE ROUNDUP !!! * * *

Let’s thank the dancers for their most excellent idea! And while we’re at it, give a hand to the band. They totally nailed that intro.

Yes, it’s a Roundup. We haven’t done one in awhile, so for any newbs out there, here’s the deal: News is stupid. Often the headlines reflect the idiocy. I scour the internet news sites looking for tidbits that jump out at me. Sometimes they’re poorly worded, sometimes they’re confusing, and sometimes they just put an image in my head that I must share. The headlines are always 100% real. I just supply the heartburn-fueled snarkiness after.

Up to speed? Good! Then let’s get right to it.

-Conway on Surveillance: We Have ‘Microwaves That Turn Into Cameras’

Oh no. Oh honey, no.

– Is Preet Bharara Trying To Tell Us Something?

I don’t know. Is Preet Bharara talking? Because if he is, then the answer is probably yes. #TheMoreYouKNow

– N. Korea Warns of ‘Merciless’ Strikes As U.S. Carrier Joins S. Korea Drills

Aw, whatsamatta Kim Jong? Did Donald Trump stealing the “Most Insane Ruler” championship belt hurt your feelings?

*sidenote: Can we please, PLEASE actually make that belt happen? I’m thinking huge, like a WWE belt, only not as classy.

“Not as…classy??”

You heard me. Make it happen.

– Florida Agency Puts Out A Want Ad For Python Killers

Is “python killer” slang? Is that…is that the female version of “pussy slayer?”

“BETHIE!”

In my defense, it’s Florida. It’s a fair question.

– Conway Isn’t the Only One Afraid of Microwaves That Spy

Of course not. There is an organized society of people who not only believe the earth is flat, but PUBLICALY believe the earth is flat. They’re so convinced that we live on a dinner plate that they SAY SO OUT LOUD. Of COURSE there are people who think we’re being spied on while we nuke our leftovers. Just make them all some tin foil hats and go about your lives.

– Conway Isn’t the Only One Afraid of Microwaves That Spy

Look, I’m not saying it’s not possible. I’m saying it’s inept. We don’t need to use microwaves to spy. We’ve got far better, more reliable, more controllable ways of spying on every aspect of our citizens lives. If the government wants to spy on you, they can. And they can do so much more efficiently than using microwaves. Someone’s reading old spy novels again. I think we need to enroll the White House in a book of the month club and get some modern day CIA action on their radar. Er, an audio book of the month club. At least then the conspiracy theories would be current.

– Harvey Still Has Bodyguards With Him After Flub

Oh for FUCK’S SAKE Steve Harvey! Get over yourself. No one’s trying to kill you. It just didn’t matter all that much. Shit.

– Rubio Warns Snoop Dogg on Trump Video

…well there’s a headline I don’t think anyone expected.

– Rare Find Revisited: A Barn Full of ‘Birds’ 10 Years Later

I would like to think they are actual birds, because the thought of a documentarian being so desperate for a story that he goes back to a barn to film some damn pigeons 10 years later is dark humor I can get behind. The look on his face when he realizes they all died about 5 years ago would be film legend.

– Celeb Couples Who’ve Split in 2017

Awful early in the year to be pulling this one out. You’re wasting the best click bait. What the hell are you going to write about in November? You might actually have to report…news! *gasp*

– Ramirez’s Contract in Japan Has Some Hilarious Perks

…okay, I’ll bite. *reads* He gets a hotel room. He can opt out of practices in certain circumstances. He gets a car and driver. He has a meal budget. …and that’s it. Honestly, I can barely type through the laughter wracking my body.

– GM Has A Huge Supply of Unsold Cars

That’s called “inventory,” dear.

– Was Jane Austen Poisoned? New Evidence About the Writer’s Weakened Eyes Raises Questions

Holy shit, just the breakthrough Scotland Yard has been waiting for! Maybe they can finally arrest the guy. #JusticeForJane

– Europe Is Facing 4 Existential Tests. Can It Hold Together?

Oh, I know this one! Okay, Europe, when you get to the huge knot, just cut it. Saves so much time. #TopTip

– UK Cruise Ship Damages Pristine Indonesian Coral Reef

But the vacation pics Buffy and Skip got were totes worth it.

– WH Analysis Projects Bigger Health Care Coverage Gap than CBO

So what they’re talking about here is the Republican backed ACA health care replacement proposition. You know, the one that Trump ordered the Republicans to present? Yeah, now Trump is desperately trying to distance himself from the disgraceful piece of potential legislation. Think about that. It’s so bad that DONALD FUCKING TRUMP won’t even put his name on it. No jokes on this one. Please, PLEASE encourage your representatives to shoot this puppy down.

– Florida Girl Writes Letter To Burglar Who Targeted Her House

What a great way to get back at the burglar. I’m sure that she’ll read it and feel just awful about what she’s done. Then she’ll call you and tearfully apologize and you can meet up for coffee to allow her to cleanse herself by confessing and you can go about your life knowing that because of your letter, she will never burgle another house again, you noble crusader, you.

*heavy sigh*

– Facebook Bans Use of Its Data For Surveillance Tools

So, you know, don’t microwave popcorn when you’ve got the FB app open.

– Snaphash Is An Augmented Reality Weed Doctor For Your iPhone

I have absolutely no idea what the hell I just read.

– On Galapagos, Revealing the Blue-Footed Booby’s True Colors

Red. They dip their feet in blue paint just to screw with the scientists. Shh.

– How To Reset Your Body Clock For Daylight Saving Time

Don’t do it! Go rogue. #DamnTheMan

– The Controversial Campaign for Canada’s National Bird

Canada’s got a different set of criteria for what constitutes a controversy, don’t they?

– Boaty McBoatface Embarks on Its Maiden Voyage This Week

Remember the campaign to name the exploration submarine last year? Boaty McBoatface won the internet contest to name the serious, highly tuned scientific sub, but the society decided to choose a different, more respectable name. However, the pressure from the internet got too great and they have officially renamed the technological wonder Boaty McBoatface. Well done, internet. This makes me proud.

– Trump Has a New Rocket and Spaceship. Where Will He Go?

Where? Irrelevant. The only question is “WHEN?” #SendTrumpToMars.Personally.StuffHimIntoASpaceshipAndLaunchThatSucker

– The 50 Hottest Video Games You Shouldn’t Miss in 2017

They lead the article with the remastered Crash Bandicoot. The thumbnail is…Crash Bandicoot. The opening graphic is a still from…CRASH BANDICOOT. Are. You. KIDDING me?! Mass Effect: Andromeda? The Last Of Us 2? Red Dead 2? Breath of the FREAKIN’ WILD??? But no. NO. Crash. Bandicoot. Fistbump to all those who feel my outrage. #CRASH.BANDICOOT.REALLY!???

– John Cena Reveals Surprising Video Game Choice

Spoiler: it’s not Crash Fucking Bandicoot!

– Our Black Hole Has Been “Eating Snacks” For the Last 6 Million Years

Aaaand that’s it. I’m out. When you start talking about what you put in your black hole, it’s time to get off the internet.

Had to ruin it for everyone, didn’t you, IBT?

Thus concludes a quick Roundup for Pi Day, 2017. If there wasn’t a storm, the amount of puns at the bakery would get old. I guess that’s one thing to thank Stella for.

A legitimate argument for bringing back typewriters…

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Episode 8/6/17…in which we check in on our heroine, who was bravely battling electronic gremlins and digital devilkins when last we met…

Mornin’ all.

‘Member that temp fix I did to allow me to babble for a bit? Yeah. Like duct tape on a crack in a dam, it didn’t hold. However, we have a brand new hard drive.

“Oooh, I thought it looked bright and fresh in here.”

Yes, but the newness came with a price. Doesn’t it always? Microsoft removed a very handy tool that used to be built into their software which would allow us to move programs from one hard drive to the other. The forums said to use this outside software. Microsoft’s web page pointed us to the same thing, saying they had “partnered with” this other company. We even called tech support and got a woman who just suggested we copy and paste…

*techie top tip: You cannot do this with a program. Individual files? Sure. But a program? No. Otherwise pirating software would be as simple as a right click. Programs embed parts of their coding tree all through OTHER programs, just to make sure that if you DO try to right click and paste, you won’t get what you need to actually use the program. And a techie at Microsoft’s call center should at least know that.*

…which sent the man of the house into an incredulous fit of scoffing befuddlement. After being briefly educated by said partner, she put him on hold to go ask for another opinion, came back, and said that the company recommends the same software we saw everywhere.

We got the software.

We should not have gotten the software.

It hiccuped in the middle of transferring the data, and almost everything on that hard drive was lost.

Again.

*sigh*

Okay. It’s not as bad as it might sound. Since the build we did after last year’s Electrical Apocalypse, I was never comfortable with the replacement hard drive, or the Windows 10 To Go OS we used. We were broke and had to take the cheapest option. Because of this, I never stored too much on it. I did not trust it, and as a result, I didn’t lose much. A couple of photos, some writing that I do not want to talk about because it was almost finished and it may just send me into a rage because I’m really trying hard to oooohhhhhmmmm the hell out of this situation and you bringing it up and asking for details is making it REALLY FUCKING HARD TO…

“Whoa Bethie! Easy, now. I won’t talk about it anymore! *grabs coffee* Here. Take it.”

*chugs rotgut* *the sizzle of the stomach lining brings the beast back into the present* *deep, albeit slightly inhibited by the burning pain, breath*

Thanks. Sorry.

“Namaste.”

Indeed.

Long and short, we’ve got a spiffy new hard drive full of wonders and possibilities, clearly I was not going down the right path with that book, and Microsoft can suck my dick.

“Why don’t you use a different OS?”

*snort* You know, people always say that. But when you get right down to it, why? They make the easiest to use, plug and play operating system. While not without flaws, it is the industry standard. I almost never have to tweak a program to get it to run without hassle on Windows. I can dig around and shut off annoying features without fear of tanking the whole thing…

It’s like shopping at Wal-mart. Everyone pretends to hate it. And on a visceral level, maybe we all really do. But when you’re on vacation and you realize you forgot to pack socks and underwear and your kid just fell into the Peabody river when you DAMN WELL TOLD THEM NOT TO HOP ON THE ROCKS, and now it’s 5:30 pm, starting to rain, and your hubby is griping about the goddamn traffic while the wet, hungry kid yammers that he’s cold, something inside you warms at the sight of a Wal-mart sign. Don’t even pretend like you don’t understand what I’m saying right now.

When push comes to shove, I’m glad I use Windows.

That said, Microsoft, your software partnership is ass, your tech support is a joke, and your fucking “To Go” build is worse than Windows ME.

*fistbump to anyone who understands just how horrible that is*

Yesterday was a big day. Teen Beta turned 18! I now have two adult children. *sniff* I made it clear to the other two that this trend is really getting old, and I forbade them from growing anymore. Of course, I had to look up at Teen 2.0’s laughing face to tell him this as he’s over 6 feet tall now. And the youngest pup laughed and said, “Can’t stop, won’t stop.”

I get the feeling that they did not take my dire warning as dire.

He’s 18. Man. I don’t talk about it all that much, because it’s not exactly my story to tell, but he’s the one that had cancer when he was 10. In fact, it was on his 10th birthday that I noticed an odd lump on his neck. It was the weekend, and he had just played his saxophone in a concert. The lump was right about where the strap would have rested, and we figured it was swollen because of that. Honestly, it wasn’t much of a lump. Certainly didn’t seem like anything to worry about.

He went to his Mum’s house for his birthday, and she called the next day saying that overnight it seemed that the lump grew. She brought him back, and we got him to his doctor, who sent us up to the hospital immediately. At that point, they thought he had “cat scratch fever”, and we tormented him with the Nugent song. When the antibiotics did nothing, though, and the lump grew instead of shrank, we brought him back a couple days later.

I will never forget that visit.

The man and Teen Beta (then only 10 year old Beta) were in the doctor’s office, and I was in the waiting room with the youngest pup, only a couple years old at the time. The pup was coloring, and I was chatting with the cashier of a local dent ‘n bent I was casually friendly with over the years. She was there because her husband had an ear infection, and we chatted while we waited for our folks to get out of their appointments.

The doctor came out. Not my husband, not the cat scratched kiddo. The doctor. That is NEVER good. He called me over.

“I’ll watch him,” the cashier said, pointing to the little one.

I followed the doctor into the hallway. He had a look on his face that made me want to run away. “I didn’t want to tell your husband in front of *child’s name*, but I’ve seen this a couple times before and in every case, it’s been cancer. I am going to tell them that the appointment I schedule is a routine exam, but it’s actually a biopsy. I’ll have my nurse bring you the information. I don’t want the boy worrying yet.” He put a hand on my shoulder and said, “I’m so sorry.”

I think that every person gets blindsided at least once in their life, truly blindsided with a situation that takes them utterly by surprise slapping down upon their shoulders a heavy burden that they never saw coming. We never saw it coming. It wasn’t on our radar. Cancer is slow. Cancer takes time. It was just an infection…it HAD to be! It popped up so very fast, they MUST be wrong!

I went back to the waiting area shaking. I’m generally a private person.

“*scoff*”

No, not here. Here is my outlet. But in person, I tend to keep everything surface-level with people. It is not a good trait. I’m aware.

That day, I could not keep things to myself. It was too much, and I started to cry on the shoulder of the cashier I barely knew.

There are moments in life you remember for their sheer impact. Getting told the kiddo had cancer was one, and yet, sitting in the waiting room being comforted in such a personal way by someone I barely knew was another…for an entirely different reason. I will never, ever forget that connection I made with her that day.

…in a twist, a few months later one of Teen Beta’s chemos gave him a reaction and he had to be brought to the emergency room. The cashier was there in the waiting room. Her husband had just suffered a heart attack, and it was my turn to comfort her. Anyone who says life is boring is just plain wrong.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma, stage 4C, by the way. That’s what the kiddo had. In his chest, around his lungs, in his leg. In the few days it took for them to do a biopsy and get us into an oncology appointment at the major hospital in the area, the nodes grew from the size of peas to the size of large grapes. It was fast, aggressive, and everywhere. It was so aggressive, in fact, that as soon as he was declared cancer-free, it came right back and he had a stem cell transplant, where the doctors seemed to try their damnedest to do the poor boy in. All of that began right after his 10th birthday.

And yesterday, he turned 18.

You know what? I think I found my calming mantra.

Thus concludes a Musing for Wednesday, March 8, 2017. I have the day off! …but not, because holy shit has the housework piled up. Methinks its a day to put “Hoarders” on in the background. You know, keep me motivated…