What we need here is a plan…

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*cringes at squeal of office chair’s rusty wheels*

*picks cobwebs off monitor*

*blows dust out of keyboard*

Mornin’ all.

My day started with a dead body.

My cat got another mouse. She’s a very good mouser, and for some reason, she’s had a ton of opportunity to hone her skills already this year. I don’t think mice have much of a feel for real estate. It’s all about location, location, location, and the mice in this housing development did not consider the fact that we have a cat, and our co-duplexer has three. There are four friggin’ cats in this one little building.

Mice. Not the brightest animals in the natural world.

Anyway, I came down the stairs and the mouse was placed at the bottom, right where I’d step on it if I wasn’t already cautious from the last time I stepped on a cold, dead mouse with my bare feet. Kitty the Ripper was sitting next to the door. See, she knows I throw the corpses outside. She sat there and gave me a look, daring me to try and toss the body of her victim into the overcrowded graveyard known as the Back Bushes.

It got intense for a minute there, I’m not going to lie. She looked very proud of herself, too…until my man walked over and picked her up, nullifying an entire night’s plan with one swoop.

Never brag until you’re sure a giant isn’t going to come along and put you in your place. Just a life lesson for ya.

It’s Halloween today, and for the first time in almost 20 years, I’m not taking anyone trick-or-treating. Little Pup decided he doesn’t want to do it anymore. He said, “You know what I’d like to do? I’d like to sit on the couch with my own sack of candy and not be competition for the little kids.” I made certain he was sure of this decision. Honestly, I think I wanted him to go last year far more than he wanted to.

No more trick-or-treaters. *sniff*

I’m thinking of getting a bunch of candy and stashing it around the house with riddles as clues that he’ll have to solve to get the bounty. I don’t know. Is that still childish? Will he feel like I’m still babying him? It’s hard for me to tell. I am extremely immature. Surely even the youngest in the group has clued into that fact by now and will expect nothing less. Hm. I’ll consider through the day.

Guess what finally happened to me? I got called to jury duty!

“Bethie, you sound excited.”

I am!

“But…it’s…jury duty.”

Look, I’m 39. I’ve never been called to jury duty before, and, frankly, I *am* excited! I am dying to know what it’s really like.

“It’s boring as shit. That’s what it’s like.”

Maybe. But even that’s a story, right?

The timing is putting a bit of a cramp on my jubilee, though. We have a clusterfuck in the bakery at the moment, and we’re losing a key member of our team the week before I head to the hallowed halls of justice. And it’s right before Thanksgiving, the number one busiest week for a bakery. Any other week of the year, I’d be crossing my fingers that I’d be picked for a full trial. I’d love to participate completely in the justice process, I really would.

Stop rolling your eyes. I’m not kidding. It’s one of the processes in this nation that makes us great, and I’d honestly like to be part of something so important. And I will, too. If I’m selected, I’ll do my best to give my full attention to the trial. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t torn by the pressures of the other parts of my life.

Speaking of the other parts of my life, at work the other day, this coworker was a total…

………

“…you okay, Bethie? Stroking out over there? Did the swill you call coffee finally get to you? Do I need to call someone?”

I just remembered I have a stalker. A work stalker, who reads this blog as a lurker. Hi, Lurker. I guess I can’t really shit talk the folks I work with if one of them is creeping.

See, I suck at self promotion. I mean, I’m utter SHIT at it. What I *should* do is tell all my coworkers about not only this blog, but my books, too. You know. Make some sales. I should hand out flyers. Or…business cards? Do people still use those?

Bah, you get the gist. I should be yappin’ my trap about all of it in an effort to create a movement. Or something.

I just want to keep work separate. Does that make sense? I want to be able to come onto the internet and blab and blah and bitch and moan and be as stupid and immature as I want and not see a knowing look in my coworkers’ eyes after I do so.

“Then maybe you should have written under a pseudonym.”

That would have taken a level of foresight that I just don’t possess. Look at my life. Does it seem like I have ever demonstrated the ability to apply careful consideration to anything?? HMMM?!?!?

Besides, I’m not ashamed of anything I write. I’m not. I just want to go to work and make cakes and be bossy in real life, and keep that separate from being on the internet, where I talk about making cakes and being bossy. Makes perfect sense to me.

Maybe I could talk about my coworkers in a way that won’t betray their identities? Let’s give it a go.

Yesterday at work, I was trying to…uh…get coworker X to learn to make…um…stuff…

Shit. This isn’t going to work, guys. It’s a small department. Anything I say would be enough info for the Lurker to put two and two together.

The thing is, this story is more about me than the coworker, really. Okay, I think I’ll just go with this.

Yesterday at work, I lost my patience. I’ll talk a big game and vent here, but in real life, I’ve gotten to where it’s actually quite difficult to get me truly angry. Raising a passel of kids will do that.

…well, that or break you. You either learn patience, or you go insane. Since I already was insane, I learned patience. I will let it all heap up on me and, for the most part, I take life’s shit in stride.

Once in awhile, though, the wrong personality comes along and just presses the right button. And that happened yesterday at work. I’m not at all happy about it. I generally keep my cool way past the point where everyone else has blown their tops.

It was excuses instead of acknowledgment. That’s what did it. I was attempting to show someone a task, they didn’t listen, then spent an hour asking me for instructions every step of the way…on a task they’d already done four times before. It’s not like I was showing this person something for the first time. They just didn’t pay attention, or didn’t care enough to try. The final straw was when I noticed they missed out on a crucial part and asked them if they had done it. “Yep,” they insisted.

“Nope” was the correct answer.

I prodded. “Are you sure?”

“Yep.”

I was looking at the thing that was not done. I said point blank, “So you put *blah* into the *yadda*?”

“Yes.”

I picked up the *blah* that was not, in fact, added to the *yadda*. Instead of a “Whoopsie, my b,” they actually said, “Oh, you didn’t say to put the *blah* into the *yadda*.”

That was it, folks. That was the point of Bethie getting legitimately pissed at a coworker. They had wasted not only their hour, but mine as well. And instead of just owning the mistake, tried to put it on me.

I. Hate. That.

Look, if you screw up, that’s called being human. EVERYONE DOES IT. Acknowledge the error, take responsibility, examine where you turned left instead of right, then do your best not to repeat the mistake. However, if you screw up and then blame someone else, that’s called being an asshole. If you don’t take the time to recognize where you’re screwing up, you will continue to screw up. You will continue to make the same mistakes over and over. You will not grow as a person. You will always be that coworker that pisses everyone else off.

I have today off. I am forming a plan for tomorrow. I have to adjust MY attitude now, because I am not at all happy that I got angry. That doesn’t do any good, either, especially since when I’m angry, I pretty much just shut down. I’m supposed to be teaching this person, and I can’t do that when I let my emotions get the best of me.

I’ve got to namaste the hell out of this shit.

So today when I clean the house, I need to decide how immature I’m being for Halloween shenanigans with the Little Pup, while simultaneously mulling over how I am going to go about being more mature at work tomorrow.

I had a dream about opening a specialty roast shop last night. Like, a store that just sells fancy meat roasts. Beef, pork, goose… My man was the delivery guy. We had a planning session on how to meet demand for Thanksgiving.

NO JOKE. Straight up, that was what I dreamt about last night. In painstaking detail.

Now, does this seem like the kind of mind that can balance these two conundrums in the same day?

Guess we’ll find out.

Thus concludes a musing for Halloween ’17. Everyone have a safe and happy holiday!

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Need to diet? Pop into your friendly neighborhood bakery today!

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Mornin’ all.

I opened my email this morning and found an ad from Aldi with the subject line, “Save for Celiac Awareness Month.”

Celiac. Awareness. Month.

Now, I’m not saying celiac disease shouldn’t be researched, and certainly the folks who suffer should have hope for a cure. But that’s not what this is about, is it? Aldi is not, in any way, being altruistic. Aldi isn’t donating for a cure. They aren’t trying to legitimately raise awareness. They are a grocery store with an abundance of gluten free products they need to unload. This isn’t about helping folks with legit gluten issues. It’s about selling gluten free products to the 99% of the population who does not have celiac disease.

I hate this kind of bullshit. Corporate “let’s pretend we care so you’ll keep forking over the cash” mentality.

There’s a new law on the books with which we need to comply at the bakery. In an effort to pretend we care, we now need to display the calorie count for all single serve items. Instead of posting an ugly, tacky menu, our company has chosen to print new display tags to put next to each item.

Now, I’m not saying it’s bad to inform your customers. I just don’t think my customers want to know.

Real talk. No one’s buying things from the bakery because they’re on a health kick. No one sees a cupcake and thinks it’s an acceptable stand in for a stick of celery in their diet plan. People know the shit I sell is unhealthy. They know. And when they are looking for a treat, they do not care.

I’m not opposed to having the information available if people ask. I just don’t see why the government has made it our job to prominently shame people who want a confectionery pick me up.

The one plus is the new fun game I can play now. “Guess How Bad It Really Is.” I don’t have a game show theme song for it yet, but it really has provided me a bit of fun to ask fellow employees, “Wanna guess how many calories this puppy has?”

We sell a type of fancy chocolate cupcake that has raspberry filling and chocolate everything else. It’s very pretty, a real eye catcher, and even though I’ve never had one, raspberries and chocolate?? How could it NOT be utterly delicious?

980.

980 calories for ONE cupcake.

In fairness, it would be difficult to get a whole cupcake down in one sitting. They’re not your average cupcake. They’re huge. Still, I’ve had sad days where I could, in theory, polish the whole thing off if I were so inclined.

We can also play the game in reverse. I tell the calorie count and give three options and folks need to try and guess which one fits. Let’s do one, shall we?

480 calories, and your choices are: single serve cheesecake with raspberries, small rosette cupcake with buttercream, or large stuffed cannoli.

Come on. Timer’s almost up.

If you said, “Cannoli,” no way, sucker! That puppy’s about two hundred calories more! It’s the raspberry cheesecake.

Isn’t this fun?

Guess what’s the worst thing we sell? I’ll give you the total: 1920. One THOUSAND, nine hundred twenty calories for ONE single serve item. That’s an entire day’s worth of calories in one treat.

So what do you think it could possibly be?

Keep in mind, we are a full service bakery. We sell everything from rolls to chocolate dipped strawberries. *tick**tock**tick**tock*

Time’s up! The worst item we sell is…

…you know what? I’m not going to tell you. A guessing game is only fun if you actually guess.

Aside from the new labels of shame, we also offer pamphlets about healthy eating. This one really gets me. I understand offering the nutrition facts about the food we sell. I think they are being very heavy handed and Big Brother-y in the way they’re going about it, but I get it. I do. I think the information about the food we put in our bodies should be available if we care to read it.

The pamphlets, though…Come on. I’m seriously expected to hand someone a cake with one hand and a pamphlet on what they SHOULD be eating with the other? Are you kidding me with this pandering bullshit? Who are you trying to fool? I do not give a rat’s ass about the diets of my customers. Not a whit. If they want to eat a 1920 calorie *redacted for purposes of a game show*, why should I be the one to stop them?

News flash: I’m not their mother. And I shouldn’t be expected to act like one. I make cakes. I make them for people to buy. I’m certainly not going to turn around and say, “Oh, you fell for my trap, you fool! Let me take a minute to educate you on how much of a stupid fucking lard ass you really are…”

I have a couple customers who will ask, “What’s the healthiest thing you sell here?” I always point to the produce section right behind them and say, “We’ve got some great apples and celery on sale this week.” When people ask for the “diabetic friendly” or “healthier” type of icing instead of buttercream (it’s a non-dairy whipped topping), I always point out that NO icing is diabetic friendly and that it is in no way healthier than buttercream.

So I do care if they’re coming at me with misinformation. But, in the end, if they get the unhealthy shit, *shrug*. It’s not my body. I honestly don’t care if they get five *1920 calorie items* and down them in a sad afternoon binge watching The Office for the fiftieth time. I don’t give a rat’s ass. Eat what you want. You’re an adult!

Look, I get that people should be able to be aware of the bad shit they’re putting in their bodies. I guess I just have a problem with a company who SELLS THOSE VERY ITEMS pretending to care. The ONLY reason we’re posting the facts is because the state says we have to. We’re a fucking bakery. The foundation of everything we make is a combination of fat, sugar, and carbs. Of COURSE our shit is unhealthy, and it’s pretty damn hypocritical to be the ones making the unhealthy shit only to turn around and shame the customers who buy it.

…is what I would say if I didn’t care about losing my job. So, uh, you know, great job, Corporate Higher Ups who might be reading this. I love working for a company that cares so much about its customers.

“Nice save, Bethie.”

I thought so.

Thus concludes a quick Musing for Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Holy FUCK it’s MAY. Aw hell. Remember all that cleaning I had to do? I STILL HAVE TO DO IT. Off I go…I’ve got a mop bucket calling my name…

*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.

I’ve been hit by the pumpkin train…

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Mornin’ all.

Today is a day off. I had the opportunity to waste away in my bed until a gluttonous time of morning.

Unfortunately, Fuzzy McButtface didn’t get the “do not disturb” memo and jumped on my head at 4:53. Now, we have a tiny cat. Not viral-internet-meme small, but definitely petite. She never grew bigger than a teenage cat, and probably weighs around the 4 lb mark. Yet somehow, when waking me up is involved, she gains a good 20 lbs. I think she harnesses the power of her ancestors. Maybe she uses the Force?

I’m not going to lie…that would be pretty sweet if we had a cat that could use the Force. If only she’d turn away from the dark side…

I suppose it doesn’t matter how she does it. When she wants our attention, she becomes a Super Mario Thwomp. She’s a dick. And now I am awake on my supposed-to-be-lazy day.

It’s my first day off with my man in weeks. I’ve been off, and he’s been off, but we haven’t been off together. We were supposed to on this past Wednesday, but our boss decided to be a royal…

“BETHIE NO!!!”

…huh?

“This is the internet. DO NOT TALK SHIT ABOUT YOUR BOSS ON THE INTERNET!!!”

OH, riiiiight. Almost forgot there. Thanks for looking out for me!

Guess we’ll just make this internet friendly. Our boss decided to be a super silly billy and told my guy on Tuesday that he had to work Wednesday. I heard the news and said, “FUDGESICLES. She’s just telling you this NOW?? She a real kooky rapscallion!”

Speaking of work, we’re getting some new product recipes in for the season, and I just have to say to the world at large:

Stop putting pumpkin in everything.

Now, hold up a sec, because I am actually very pro-pumpkin. It’s a nutritious food that gets wasted in obscene quantities for the sake of decor while there are millions and millions of starving people. I’m glad folks are embracing it as a food.

However…

STOP PUTTING PUMPKIN IN EVERYTHING.

Lettuce is a well liked food. You don’t see lettuce shortcakes. There are no asparagus donuts. I don’t have to make tuna-spiced taffy apples.

People, you can like a thing without putting that thing into literally all of the other things. True story.

I’m not going to lie, some of the new stuff is good. The pumpkin donuts are actually the shit. The muffins…eh. They smell better than they taste, which is odd because you’d think a muffin would be a perfect pumpkin vessel. They just taste slightly cinnamony. Pumpkin pies, of course. Cookies.

Some things are good. And then, there’s a pumpkin shortcake. This is where things go awry in the bakery.

Yellow cake is split, and then pumpkin cream is piped on the bottom layer. Pumpkin cream seems to be mashed pumpkin mixed with pudding. It’s…odd. That’s the only word I can use to describe it. Odd. On top of the oddity of pumpkin cream is, essentially, pumpkin flavored Cool Whip. It’s not actually Cool Whip. Looks like Cool Whip, walks like Cool Whip, quacks like Cool Whip…isn’t actually Cool Whip.

…but it is.

After the not-Cool-Whip Cool Whip, the second cake layer is placed, with one more fancy swirly daub of whipped cool on top to jazz up the whole shebang.

Now, I’m sure some of you reading this are thinking, “Yum-o, Bethie. Sounds baller. What’s the prob?”

First off, you’re not young and hip. Stop trying to use the teen lingo. You’re doing it wrong and it hurts.

Second, none of those ingredients really add moisture. The reason a strawberry shortcake works is because the strawberries are in a sauce. That sauce keeps the cake from turning into sawdust in your mouth. The Pumpkin Abomination has no sauce. It’s pasty pumpkin mixed with gummy pudding on top of airy whipped topping.

I don’t know. I’ll have to see if they sell.

Scratch that…I’ll have to see if there are any repeat customers. That’ll tell me if they are a hit or just an orange pile of shit.

You know what I miss? Apples. Remember when apples were the bomb?

“Bethie, if I can’t use teen lingo, you can’t either.”

Fair enough.

Remember when apples were THE flavor of autumn? I miss apples. Can we bring them back?

…oooh, wait a sec. Can we bring them back next year? It’s a miserable year for apple growing up in my neck of the woods. In fact, my three big apple trees grew between them…two apples. No, not two bushels. Just two. Two apples. Reminds me of that old poem…

Way up high in the apple tree,

Two little apples, smiling at me.

I shook the tree as hard as I could…

And then a squirrel ate the apples because squirrels are assholes.

As you can see, I’ve updated the poem to reflect my own experiences.

It was a horrible year for growing any of my backyard treats. My rhubarb did squat, I got one sad little cup full of blackberries. Only one of the raspberry bushes yielded fruit, and the berries that did grow were small and hard even when ripe. But the apple trees, those were the biggest disappointment. Not even the crab apples grew.

In an ordinary year, I can get piles of rhubarb, gallons of berries, and at least two or three bushels of apples. It’s sad. My freezer will have no fresh applesauce and my jars will gather dust instead of jam. That’s going to be some interesting morning toast.

Mother Nature, get your shit together.

I read a study the other day that’s depressing if it’s true. You all know how I feel about bullshit science. The majority of these “studies” are just scientific click bait in order to get more funding while containing no real scientific merit. However, I’d be lying if I pretended that some of them weren’t interesting.

The study in question set out to discover why old people are lame and simultaneously unaware of their own lameness. This particular study focused on the arts.

Remember when you were a kid who just heard THE. BEST. NEW. SONG. EVER, a mind blowing experience that left your soul both shattered and whole all at once, and you HAD to share it with your Mum, because something so utterly profound could not be kept to just one teenager? You played it for her, hovering excitedly on the edge of your seat, feeling- no, LIVING– every single word, your heart beating with the chords, until you finally made it through the life-altering experience and waited with bated breath for Mum’s response to the majesty you just shared.

And what did Mum say? What did Mum say about the work of a singer who somehow looked into your depths and encapsulated all the beauty and nastiness you tried to bury in your hidden psyche? What did Mum say after you bore your very soul to her through art your own mortal mind couldn’t create?

“Eh. It’s okay.”

It’s.

Okay.

Was there ever a more crushing moment in your young life? How could Mum not be totally blown away by the Most Powerful Experience Ever? Was she really that out of touch? I mean, sure, she wore those awful cinched-waist jeans and socks with sandals, but there HAD to be SOME modicum of coolness somewhere in her. Was she really just too old to appreciate a new song?

Science says, “Yep.”

A recent study has shown that as people age, their acceptance of new works of art (in all forms, but specifically music) tends to drop off. We kind of knew that already. The reason behind it is what has me in the dumps. Research is strongly indicating that as the brain ages, it gets full, for lack of a better term. It reaches a point where it decides it has gathered enough new concepts and just wants to mull over its vast collection instead of acquire more.

And the very first section that closes itself off to the public? You guessed it. The centers for art appreciation.

What’s worse is that participants in the study overwhelmingly didn’t seem to be conscious of this happening. It wasn’t something in their control, nor was it something they even realized was going on. “Oh, sure, I LOVE new music!” they resoundingly said. However, when asked what the latest “new” song they enjoyed was, they listed music that was released up to thirty years before.

In their minds, that WAS new.

“But Bethie, people seek out new music all the time. Why, just the other day I caught myself singing along to the pop song my daughter likes.”

Ah, there ya go. You’re not gathering newness. Your environment is thrusting it upon you. You didn’t go seek out that new song. You didn’t search for something different. Your daughter played it in the periphery and it seeped into your consciousness.

What’s going to happen when your daughter gets old enough to move out? What’s going to happen to ME when my boys are all trying to pay their own mortgages and I’m kicking around the house with another old fogey? Will either of us even think to turn the radio to a station that plays new music? Or will my mind just gravitate toward the familiar??

Mental complacency. Has there ever been a more terrifying concept?

I don’t want my brain to be too full to appreciate new art. New music. New writing. I don’t want to just live with what I already know.

My dad never did. He was always into new music, even after we grew up and moved out. Maybe there’s hope for me. Maybe just knowing it’s a terrifying possibility will keep me from falling into mental solitary confinement.

And hey, if not, I suppose if the study is right, I won’t really be aware it’s happening. I won’t have any conscious appreciation of my mental depreciation. I won’t even get that I’ve shuttered the blinds and rejected the beauty of newness.

Somehow, that’s not really all that comforting.

I am making a vow right here, right now. When my grand kid comes to me with that excited look in his eye, when he says, “Grammie, you HAVE to hear this song. It’ll change your life,” I will force my old, wrinkled brain to perk up and pay attention. If I have to, I’ll intentionally forget something else to make room. I don’t need to know how heavy I’d be on Mars. That knowledge has been kicking around in my brain for no legitimate reason for far too long. I’m never going to use that info. I’ll forget that to make room for the beauty of a piece of new music that’s powerful enough to speak to the very soul of my grandson.

I really hope that’s a promise I keep.

Thus concludes a rambling Musing for Sunday, September 18, 2016. I’m going to cram some new music in my brain while I do housework this morning. I’m currently hooked on Ruth B, but am starting to feel a tad twenty one pilots. If you don’t know either, YouTube them. Stat. Let’s prove these “science” muthas wrong. Ruth B: Lost Boy twenty one pilots: Heathens

Do it.

And so, we meet again…

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Mornin’ all.

Pat Benatar is belting it out on the radio right now giving me the urge to snap my fingers and jerk my shoulder in a sassy fashion. I’m drinking my coffee tempered with chocolate milk this morning, the delicious result of my man’s store ordering way too much and having to sell it at half price just to clear the shelves…

*Top Tip: If your SO comes home with two gallons of chocolate milk, definitely add it to your morning coffee. I feel fancy. Like I’m drinking those International Cafe drinks the ads used to make seem so sexy. I’m still drinking it out of an old salsa jar, so not fancy fancy. I’m not letting it go to my head or anything. But I’m definitely feeling upper middle class redneck. Ooh la la. Maybe I’ll really treat myself and let Calgon take me away later.*

…and the pup is going to try it on Special K for breakfast. It’s going to be an icky weekend for me. I know this. However, I can’t fault the start. Perhaps it won’t be so bad after all.

So how’s it going?

I feel like I haven’t been on in ages. This week we had beautiful weather.

Let me clarify. It’s been March in NH beautiful. No Bermuda shorts and tank tops or anything, but it was perfect weather for working outside on the cars. I was doing repairs on two of them, and a mad-dash stripping parts out of another so we can get it out of here before the next one arrives.

*Important message: These are hoopdies I can make money off, folks, so don’t get the wrong idea. I know I already put on airs about my coffee, but let’s keep it all in perspective. Salsa. Jar. Coffee cup. We didn’t hit powerball. It’s not like I’m having to Tetris Lambos around Ferraris to fit them in the drive. We just got lucky and hit a string of rusty money makers.*

I was scrambling to get $$ off the parts car, stacking bits and doodads up like a pro. And then yesterday hit. We’ll call that chapter, “The Day of Reckoning,” in which our brave heroine literally becomes the victim of her own hoarding when parts go a’tumblin’ to and fro and on her foot.

“Oh, Bethie.”

Hey, in my own defense, we stripped out three cars over the winter. People don’t buy car parts for their projects until spring. I went into the deal knowing I’d just have to…uh…creatively stack the stuff. I knew space would get temporarily tight again.

A couple weeks ago, my man looked at the room and said, “We need one big tool chest instead of all these small ones.”

He was right, because we’ve got tools spread far and wide and it would be lovely to have them all in one location so every repair doesn’t turn into another round of “If I was a wire cutter, where would I be?” Don’t get me wrong. I like that game. I just get sick of playing it every fucking time.

Gets old.

The tool chest is a three part-er he got at one helluva deal from Harbor Freight. I don’t know how many of you use tools, but if you do and you don’t shop online at Harbor Freight, you’re missing out on sweet, sweet savings. Even with the shipping, the unit cost less than half of what it would have cost locally. Taking the price as a sign of organizational fate, he ordered it.

The Tool Chest of Awesomeness arrived.

It arrived before I could sell some parts.

It arrived amid the mess, sitting empty, eyeballing the piles of tools longingly.

“I can be so useful if you just let me,” The Tool Chest of Awesomeness said as I stood stirring regular milk into my coffee yesterday morning like some uncultured swine.

That combined with the alternator deciding to obey physics and crush my toe gave me a reality check. It was clear that I had to put the wrenches down for the day and dive into the hoard. The Tool Chest of Awesomeness is right…it CAN be useful. I would definitely have more usable space if I can get the other tool boxes out of the way. I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

…and then rolled one sleeve back down to mop up my tears of helpless frustration a few hours later when it felt like nothing would ever be right in the world again.

I get overwhelmed, folks. I think it’s part of the hoarding deal. I reach a point where it honestly feels as if there is no hope. That point used to stop me.

Let’s be clear. That feeling, that brick wall, is not a matter of boredom. It’s not like I get halfway through an organizational project and am like, “Meh, screw it. I wanna go glitter something.” I mean, of course I *always* want to glitter something, but that’s not what stops me in a cleaning project. Glitter can wait.

No, in those moments, it’s not a matter of boredom, nor is it laziness. It’s a war inside, because I most definitely, absolutely want to finish the task. I just get an almost consuming feeling that I cannot do it. That I, personally, do not have the ability to put things in a sensical order and that I’m an idiot for even trying.

Like I said, that used to stop me. Now, if I’m working on my own, I step back, wipe my tears, and make a list.

*Sidenote to my big sister: Yeah, yeah…yuk it up You win. THIS TIME.*

I’ll write down the ideas, take a break, and wait until I can go over it with someone before continuing.

Yesterday I didn’t need the list because I had something better: The kids. The teens had no school, and the pup had a half day. Boy, are the kids good at talking me out of my own head. I called Teen Prime in when I started to feel like it was too much and I wasn’t enough and he knew what to say to keep me moving forward.

I just need to know in those moments that my idea will work, because my head tells me it won’t so loudly that I get muddled and can’t tell the difference. If I can tell someone else the plan and they think it’ll work, I get rejuvenated. I just need someone else to say, “I agree.”

“You just need to learn to tell yourself you can do it, Bethie.”

Dude, I just rolled my eyes so hard it put every teenage girl throughout history to shame.

See, that’s the thing, folks. If it’s not your issue, of course that’s what you think. Of course you look at me and say, “Just believe.” I’ve heard that over and over about all kinds of my, uh, we’ll call them “quirks”. “If you just…” “You don’t need someone else to validate…” “You need to love you and embrace your inner power and trust in your feministic magic vagina yadda yadda yadda blah blah…”

GAH ENOUGH!!!

Yes. I *should* be able to know that I can clean a fucking room, for gawd’s sake. I mean, it’s just a room. It’s stuff. Put it in stacks that make sense, throw out what I don’t use, and move on. It doesn’t have to be such a goddamn ordeal.

But it is.

That’s how my head works. Logically I agree 100% that it’s “just” and I “should”. Thinking about the car work I did this week, all of it is arguably much more difficult on the skill scale. Don’t take this the wrong way, but can you weld a cracked door panel back together without warping it when the break goes through not one, but two critical bolt holes? Because I did. I didn’t even think twice before diving into the job, either. I saw the crack, got out the welding supplies, and went for it.

Yet, I see a messy room and it’s like I’ve been dumped into the middle of someone’s brain surgery, handed a scalpel, and told, “You’re his only chance now. Don’t fuck this up.”

Don’t you have those “things”? Isn’t there something you look at another person doing and think jealously to yourself, “It looks so easy. WHY can’t I do that?”

So no, I’m not enough to be my own pep-talker. Maybe someday it’ll be easier for me, and I will be enough to talk myself out of that rut. For now, I need an “attaboy” from another source. At least I understand and accept that. At least I figured out how to work with what I’ve got, not just wish for something different.

Have you had enough of my personal psychoanalysis? Yeah, me too. Let’s get back on track.

Anyway, I got a good chunk done yesterday. Today is going to be jam packed, but this evening I should be able to finish up with the parts organizing and get to where I can roll out all the other tool boxes and fill the new Tool Chest of Awesomeness.

I can’t wait to get that puppy all set up. I get to use a label maker for its intended purpose, not just to annoy the kids by labeling all of their stuff. I mean, I’m still going to do that, too. How else would they know a pencil is a pencil? But I finally have something that actually requires legit labeling.

Pat Benatar was a fluke. The radio station went to something very Bieber-esque, so I decided to switch to the pc and Sia is now blasting through my headphones. Fire is meeting gasoline right now and it’s a beautiful thing. It’s getting me pumped. That’s a good thing. I need to be jazzed right now.

Sia. Fancy coffee. Tool Chest of Awesomeness. A label maker locked and loaded. And you putting up with my shit for awhile to help me clear my head.

Okay then. *deep breath* Unto the breach!

Thus concludes an emo Musing for Saturday, March 19, 2016. *clickity click* Hear that? I just made a label that says, “fancy milk.” …what? I have to warm up the label maker somehow.