Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Spring Craving

Sorry for the lousy photo.  I was there at the wrong time
of day.  At least you can enjoy the blue sky and clouds in the reflection. 
This sign appears in the window of a local frozen custard stand.  Given that today is the last day of February and they are not open I would have to say the sign lies.  But the artist needs to get a few attaboys for their creativity.

Now how did I know about this non-event, given that I am not a frequent visitor to any type of ice cream establishment?  And, our town has four that I know of.  Well, on the first few sunny days of spring (and spring is coming early to our part of the country) I get a craving for an ice cream cone.  This particular place is like the Dairy Queen's of my youth, where you walk up to the window and order and sit on the patio to enjoy your treat; so you would think I would choose one of the other three that have indoor dining rooms.  Unfortunately, I have no choice because this is the only place in town that cares about diabetics, like me,  and offers a no sugar added frozen custard. Yes, I would rather have the real stuff rich with heavy cream and sugar but, I'm thankful the owner of this stand cares enough to offer something for those of us with restrictive diets.

The recording on the stands phone tells me I will have to wait until March 4th to enjoy my first cone of the season.  My question is why didn't I call them first. I could have saved a trip.  But, no harm idone.  I managed to not waste my trip by popping into the Sub Shop next door for my favorite bag of Cheetos and a tuna sandwich.

If the weather holds you now know where I will be on Saturday. I just hope that my visit does not leave me with sphenopalatine ganglion neuralgia.  In case your wondering that is the medical term for an ice cream headache.  

Monday, February 27, 2017

The 1950s Housewives

Today, as I was stripping and remaking the bed and folding laundry, I was reminded of the days of my childhood. Those were the days when you did not know a single mother who was employed for wages.  There were many things back then that could be counted on, as surely as attending church on Sunday.  The list might differ in each household but it would take a disaster of atomic proportions to cause the schedule to change.

Each Sunday, it was a given that almost every oven on the block contained a pot roast scheduled to be ready by the time the family arrived home from church. All that is, but ours. Having a mother from Alabama meant our Sunday dinners were always good old Southern fried chicken.

If a clothesline was empty when we walked home from school, on a Monday, it was a sure sign that the wife/mother of that home was either in the hospital or just home with her newborn. It also was a reminder to my siblings and me that the first thing we had to do after changing out of our school uniforms was to collect the sheets off the line and make up our beds.     

 Borrowed from the blog
Blooming Homestead 
Tuesday meant we were having Spaghetti for supper.  Wednesday was always Meatloaf and every Friday was salmon croquettes.  It was not unusual for kids to compare dinner menus with friends and try to get invited over for supper when they hated the dish being served at home. I remember a neighbor girl who hated the sauerkraut and sausage night at her house. It was one of my favorites but my mother rarely made it, so one night we traded places without telling either set of parents our plans. Needless to say, it never happened again.  If it was that easy and the other parents didn’t mind, I, as a mom, would have been fine with it.

Even the men seemed to mow their lawns on the same day so all the yards had the same growth pattern.    

I’m afraid those 1950’s rules never applied at my house. I have never been that regimented. Partly because I was always employed in retail with crazy schedules, and partly because it is my nature to attempt to accomplish everything in one mad whirlwind of activity.  For years, I would spend one of my days off preparing a week’s worth of meals that could be either frozen or held over for serving.  Leftovers are always better, right? 

Until my mother-in-law became too infirm to cook, I never had to worry about Sunday Dinners. She expected each of her children and their families to be around her dinner table and seldom did any two plates have the same food on them.  Her entire married life she had run a restaurant each Sunday. She was on the phone every Sunday morning asking for our order for dinner.  That would never have flown in my mother’s kitchen.  Mom made what she wanted and we either ate it or went hungry.  And, if you decided to pass on the meal Mom had best not catch you in the kitchen hunting for a snack later.  It only took a few weeks for me to learn that my mother-in-law would call each child in birth order for their meal request.  Since my husband was the youngest not living at home, we were always last.  I soon started asking her what each of the others wanted that day and would choose from those items for my family.  That way she was not cooking so many different items.  Once my husband’s younger brother married his wife started doing the same and within a few years, most of the plates started to look alike. 

I will admit that I do have a few household chores programed into my computer calendar.  Otherwise, the plants would all die of thirst, the smoke detectors would go years without the batteries being changed and I would never remember when to reset the clocks.  So, I suppose you could say that a few of those 1950’s habits stuck with the help of a little electronic magic.            

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bumper Stickers

 I can't remember a time when automobiles didn't have bumper stickers.  I recall that, back in the early days of my driving, the stickers were often placed on the cars without the owner's permission.  At that time there was hardly a vehicle in the state without a bumper sticker from one or more of the theaters in the new and booming area of Branson. It seemed that anyone with something to advertise or a political agenda would go around parking lots attaching stickers to the bumpers of the parked cars.  During this time the souvenir shops and other tourist traps began selling comic stickers or ones that allowed the vehicle owners to post bragging rights.  

I have always hated these stickers and would search my car almost daily so that I could remove them before the glue was permanently set.  Nothing worse than trying to get rid of aged stickers. For about a decade it was well known you had to leave your sunshades in the down position when parked in a tourist area if you did not want your vehicle stickered. After a while, so many people were doing this that it no longer paid to send out the troops and the posting of bumper stickers faded away.  

A 2008 study by psychologist William Szlemko and his colleagues at Colorado State University showed that those who choose to adorn their vehicle with bumper stickers (and other personal items) are 16 percent more likely to be the aggressor in incidents of road rage.

What??? You mean that sweet person with the peace bumper sticker, personalized plates and fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror is 16 percent more likely to run me off the road than the person driving the plain, unembellished muscle car?

The car pictured here can be found most days parked in front of a house a few blocks from where I live.  I see it around town quite often and each time it seems to have a new sticker added to it or placed over one that had faded away.   I've never seen the driver but their aged Saab sure shows their love of music groups.  

A few days ago I got behind a car that had a bright orange bumper sticker with only a single word "Sorry" on it.  I wondered why someone would put a sticker like that on their car and what they were apologizing for?

First chance I got I went to Google (what would we do without Google?) and found the sticker, but there was no explanation of why you would want to put it on your car.  

Are they apologizing for their bad driving?   Possibly, for who they voted for?  Or, perhaps the dilapidated state of their automobile?  Or does that weatherbeaten Ford Focus I saw have the door panels stuffed with Meth or other drugs.  Could the body of one of our states dozen missing persons be hidden in the trunk.  

It has been days and that bumper sticker still haunts me.   Wish I could have asked them why they feel the need to apologize and I find myself looking for that car every time I leave the house hoping for a second chance.      

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Mental Games and Castles

Back in grade school,  I read a book about a man who spent many years locked in a tiny, dark dungeon because he angered the King.  I want to say it was about Miguel de Cervantes the author of Don Quixote but I could be mistaken.  In the story, the prisoner told about the mental games he played to keep from going stir-crazy.  

Since that day I have used several of the suggestions from that book to reduce my stress level, get relaxed enough to fall asleep or just to alleviate boredom on road trips or while standing in a queue.   One is a simple counting method that isn't worth talking about.  The other is to mentally challenge yourself by designing something elaborate and detailed like a house or planning the minute details of a large party. 

That is when I first began designing my castle. Not a day goes by that I am not doing some adjustment to the Castle plans in my head.  What was once a small square box with one tower is now a fortress large enough to house my entire family of 92 people plus their houseguests. 
Image result for castle drawing
I can't even count the number of times the decor has changed or the number of colors of paint on the walls.  When out shopping in some thrift store or antique mall I find myself finding pieces to add to my castle.  Every time I read about some new gadget I have to go and revamp the entire castle.  

This castle now has a chapel, ballroom, two kitchens, huge library, media rooms, music room with every instrument possible,  indoor pool, man cave with bar, ladies sitting room, four game rooms (arcade, board, card, and puzzle), two theaters -- one for films and one for stage productions, classrooms for homeschooling, a nursery for twenty little ones with Nanny quarters, workrooms for all kinds of male and female hobbies, spa, barber and beauty salons, 104 bedrooms and double that for bathrooms, Underground parking for sixty cars, a bowling alley, indoor handball and tennis courts, basketball courts, rooftop gardens, six turrets, an in-house nursing unit for the sick and elderly with resident RN, safe rooms, underground tunnels, hidden rooms and all the accoutrements needed to make the castle self-sustaining and able to last for centuries.  All sitting on 200 plus acres dedicated to hunting, fishing, horse stables, woodlands, bike and go-cart racing, ball fields, gardens (both food and flower), livestock, service garage able to hold the family tour bus, and apartment buildings to house the many staff who care for it all.   The only problem is, I need to win a billion dollar Powerball drawing to pay for it.  And, at this point in my life, I doubt I would live long enough to see it completed.  But, that doesn't stop the plans from growing.                 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pajamas and crazy socks

I was so sick of all the political junk on television that I have given up watching news and talk shows.  As a result,  I've gone back to reading more.

Image result for people in pajamas cartoonsAccording to an article, I read in the Daily Mail, men only change their pajamas every 13 days, on average. Women wait even longer – upwards of 17 days.  Read more here. 

This certainly does not pertain to any guy I have ever known.  I could never get my first husband to wear pajamas. A tee shirt and underwear were the best I could hope for.   While my current husband does wear pajamas he changes them almost daily.  As for me, I sleep in a nightgown and they get replaced every night because I seldom change out of it until after breakfast. By then I have a map of everything I came into contact with all over the front of my nightie. 

A study published in the Journal of consumer Research investigated the theory that people who are nonconformists can potentially be viewed as being more high status and more competent than those who conform to social norms.  Their findings were that people who wear crazy socks are more brilliant, creative and successful. Read more here. 

Here is a photo of my sock drawer.  What does this say about me?  I guess ninety percent of my
socks are white. So, I must be a stupid failure that can't color inside the lines.     


In another article, 43% of pilots admit to falling asleep during flights, and 33% report waking up to find that their co-pilot had fallen asleep as well. Yet we only have a 1 in 2,067,000 chance of dying in a plane crash. How could that be?  Another article said we have 1 in 423,548 chance of dying from falling out of bed.  According to the Center for Disease Control, falling out of bed accounts for 1.8 million emergency room visits and over 400 thousand hospital admissions each year killing 450 people annually. 

Sounds like it's time I start doing my sleeping on an airplane. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Robert Hall part two

Back in the 1970’s I worked at a family clothing store called Robert Hall located in the city of Saint Ann.  The store was on the main drag that went through half a dozen suburban towns and next to the only indoor shopping mall in the area at the time so our store was a busy place.  We saw lots of crazy things. 

I was the store cashier, bookkeeper and sometimes salesclerk. My office was on a raised platform in the rear of the store, designed to give me a full view of the sales floor.  Off to my left, in full view of my desk, were the ladies’ dressing rooms.  I was expected to keep my third eye open for suspected shoplifters.  When I had a lag in my office duties I would go check the fitting rooms for merchandise left hanging in the rooms.  Account for the empty hangers, where possible and just tidy up. 

One day, a lady was trying on swimwear.  She came out to check herself in the large mirror a dozen times.  Then she came out in a skimpy bikini that certainly showed off too much if you know what I mean. That was against the rules.  Customers were supposed to keep their underwear on when trying on swimwear.   Unfortunately, when she went back in to change she got her feet tangled in the tiny string garment and suddenly she fell out of the fitting room, landing on her back on the floor, in her birthday suit.  If I had had a camera I could have been arrested for shooting porn. 

On another occasion, I noticed a lady go in but did not see her come out.  After a while, I went to check on the room.  All I found in the room was a bloody mess and an aborted fetus about 20 weeks’ gestation.    That is when I learned there was an abortion clinic just down the road that would give injections and tell the ladies to go shopping to help along the results.

One night when I was working the closing shift I went over to the men’s side of the store to help straighten and clean up.  When I opened the door to one of the dressing rooms I found the store manager in a compromising position with the sixteen-year-old stock clerk.  I shut the door and walked away.  About a week later two police officers came into the store and arrested the manager.  As they were leading him out of the store he tossed me the store keys and told me to call the district manager.  Apparently, after my bad timing at the fitting room, the girl decided to confess all to her parents who called the cops. 

We got a new manager and it wasn’t long before I began to notice that things were amiss. First, the store had a policy that no one could be in the store alone.  The opening manager had to wait outside until another employee showed up before unlocking and entering the building.  I was usually the first person and I kept finding the manager in the building.  Next petty cash was disappearing from the locked box in my desk.   Several times the small amount of money kept for making change disappeared from the part of the safe that was unlocked during the day.  I knew it had to be the new manager but could not prove it.  I did report him to the district manager, on his next visit, and he began making unscheduled visits and spending more time in our store. Then, an inventory showed there were quite a few men’s suits and expensive Jeana Theresa ladies knit suits missing from our inventory.  Before the person could be caught our store was closed and the manager was left in the store alone for several days to await the liquidation company.  Far as I know he was never caught and I wonder how much more inventory disappeared during that time.

That was the only time I applied for unemployment, but before I could start to collect it the district manager called me and offered me a job working with him.  He had been hired to help set up several stores in the St. Louis area for a new company called Marshall’s.  Once the stores were up and running Mr. Barry was promoted to district manager and he offered me a job working in the store closest to my home.     

Sunday, February 19, 2017

pays to have a big mouth

Today's headlines of our local newspaper read “Armed robbery suspect on the Loose in (my town)” The article starts by saying “Police are investigating three armed robberies that took place during a span of a dozen days.

I live in what (until recently) has been described as a sleepy little hamlet on the Missouri River, where crime is limited mostly to crimes of opportunity without violence.  Several years ago, we had a pocket camera and our GPS stolen from our car one night. It was probably the only night in ages when we forgot to lock the car doors.  It was no great loss for us.  The camera had a broken lens and the GPS was so out of date it liked to take us to empty fields instead of the location we programmed into it.  Both had already been replaced and were safely in the house.

Our county is quickly becoming known as the Meth capital of the state and possibly the Midwest.  Both the manufacture and use of this terrible drug has been on the rise.  As a result, we are starting to see more and more crimes like the one in today’s headlines.

But, I’m getting sidetracked.  I intended this post to be about holdups.  Or more specifically holdups that I have been connected with. Yes, there have been more than one.

Back in the 1970’s I worked at a family clothing store called Robert Hall located in the city of Saint Ann.  That store had been robbed several times over the years.  And shoplifting happened on a large scale every few months.  The store was on the main drag that went through half a dozen suburban towns and next to the only indoor shopping mall in the area at the time.  It made it easy for the criminals to get in and out without being caught.  Until I was hired that is

Someone attempted to rob the store twice while I was working there.  Both times it was a black male who was armed.  I was told by the district manager after the second attempt that I was certainly more resourceful than most and certainly much luckier as well.  Frankly, he could not believe I hadn’t gotten myself shot. 

I was the store cashier, bookkeeper and sometimes salesclerk. My office was on a raised platform in the rear of the store, designed to give me a full view of the sales floor. It was a “U” shaped space lined with a counter that came right below my breast. There was a wall that surrounded the countertop that I could just barely see over when standing at the register.  A cut out about a foot wide allowed the customers to come transact their business and many of them could barely see over the counter.  All of I could see of them was their faces. 

One day at lunch time (which meant the salesperson was off the floor) a tall thin man came up and told me he had a gun and I was to give him all my money. I just simply said No I can’t do that while pushing the silent alarm that went off at the police station a block down the street.  The man got angry and repeated his command and showed me the gun in his waistband.  I proceeded to lie to him and said that there was no money in the drawer to give him.  I told him I had just started my shift and had a new till with a fifty-dollar bank in coins and few singles.  I had not rung up a single sale since clocking in.  He told me to open the safe.  I told him the safe was locked and required a key that only the manager had and he was at lunch.  The man must have decided to see for himself because he headed around the counter for the swing door on the side.  While he did that, I picked up the glass I kept to hold my water and once the door swung in I doused him in the face with the water and told him I would be throwing the heavy glass at his head next.  He decided to run for the door where he was met by two police officers.

The second time was the next summer.  A man came to the counter and handed me a receipt wanting to take out his lay-a-way.  When the till opened so I could make change he told me he had a gun and wanted all the money.  I looked him in the eye and said “what” as if I had not understood what he said.  As I did that I was hitting the silent alarm.  I repeated the demand.  I promptly slammed the register shut.  Reached up and grabbed the register key locking the register and made a big production of putting the key in my mouth and swallowing it.  I then told him he would have to wait for my next bowel movement to open the till.  He also headed for the door to be met by the cops. 

In the first robbery, the man did have a gun in his waistband but it was not loaded.  When the cops searched the second robber they found he had a sawed-off shotgun down the leg of his trousers. And, no I did not swallow the register key.  Sometimes it pays to have a big mouth. 

I never got the chance to see if there would be another attempt at robbing our store.  A few weeks later I answered the phone and the person on the other end identified himself as being from the regional office.  He told me our store was now officially closed and I was to immediately get the papers off the fax machine and tape the closing notice to the front door after locking the door.  Once there were no customers in the store I was to send all the employees home and have the manager follow the instructions in the paperwork.  I was now out of a job.  

I should admit that I was young and stupid during those years. No way would I every try to pull the same stunts today, and I hope none of you will either.  It is best to just comply and give them the money. 

There are a few other stories from my time at Robert Hall I should probably share so perhaps I will get to those soon.