abundance angel Someone emailed me this picture yesterday.  The email said it was an abundance angel and if I forwarded her on to more people I would be rich within real days.  “Hm, nice sentiment” I thought as I hit the x button and prepared to ignore it so I could try to focus on real email.  It was while I was trying to get through a particularly long winded diatribes from the trade association which sound like “blah blah blah” to my 9am Friday morning mind that I stopped to check my bank balance and realized, hey there’s more money in there!  Unbelievably I had forgotten that it was payday!

My mind went back to the abundance angel.  “I think she’s trying to remind me of something.” I thought as I forwarded the email on to a few friends.  I struggled a few more minutes with the “blah blah blah” report before I stopped again to check my online paystub.  That’s when the abundance angel struck again.  I not only forgot it was payday; I also forgot that in this last pay period I had maxed out my 401k contributions and for the rest of the year my net pay will be higher! How handy is that to have in December? 

Thank you abundance angel! 

red cliffThis is probably not a good thing to admit but Jerry and I frequently stop at The  Liquor King, our local liquor store, on the way home from work.  The owner, a lovely man who we affectionally call "King" because we don’t know his real name and probably wouldn’t know how to pronounce it anyway, often has some great things on discount.  The other night we got a bottle of Red Cliff for $4.99. 

Red Cliff is a cola based liqueur that tastes like spicy fire.  And it ought to since it’s 65 proof.  It came with a little tag of recipes like the Red Cliff martini (one part Red Cliff, two parts citrus vodka) and the Red Cliff All American (one part Red Cliff, one part bourbon — wheeee!) 

Jerry has discovered it is rather tasty mixed with cheap ass orange juice from Grocery Outlet.  I mixed it once with a cup of chamomile tea and it knocked me out for the night.  I also remember having some pretty wild dreams that night and would like to issue this warning: Too much Red Cliff will make you feel like jumping off a cliff the next morning. 

As you may already know, my Grandmother died this past week.  It was sad but not in a painful sort of way; not for me at least.  My grandmother was 100 when she died.  She led a rich, full life and was sharp minded until the very end.  For me her death has been a bittersweet experience of memories and letting go. 

In the days leading up to and after her death, my dad started commenting on all the things that Grandma (his mother) had taught him.  He got very contemplative about it and ended up giving her a heartfelt tribute at her memorial service, as any eulogy should. 

I also started thinking about all the things Grandma taught me.  While my list may seem trivial, it actually isn’t.  Someday, if I’m motivated, maybe I’ll be able to expand on my top 10 list of things I learned from Grandma:

10. Be a member of the clean plate club.

9. Always empty out a drawer for overnight guests.

8. Don’t leave shoes on the table. It’s bad luck and also gross.

7. Never underestimate the power of a thank you note.

6. If you’re going to cheat at solitaire you might as well not play.

5. Pumpkin pie filling is made with half and half, NOT evaporated milk.

4. Don’t use the guest towels hanging in the bathroom; use the paper towels placed by the sink.

3. Skelatonkey is actually two words.

2. A “dot” is more than a tablespoon but less than two forkfuls.

And the number one thing I learned from Grandma Teetsel:

Bea Arthur was a bitch. (But didn’t completely ruin Golden Girls.)

I love you Gramma! 

Six years ago at this time we were leaving our wedding at the Westover Winery and getting ready to get on a plane taking us first class to the Caribbean. 

Tonight we too a beat up old Aura to a roller rink in Milpitas.  And as an added bonus I got to clean the cat’s ass when we got home. 

Believe it or not but it’s been a pretty good six years. 

Trash day is usually a good day at our house. Besides the fact that it’s on a Friday, there’s something renewing about coming home to empty cans, ready to take on the next week’s surprises.

A few months ago trash day was extra exciting because according to the notice we got from the trash company, we were getting new cans. New cans on trash pick up day. What could be better? In our constant work-a-day lives, where there is so little to look forward to, sometimes getting excited about new garbage cans is the best we can do.

Therefore, you can imagine my disappointment when Jerry and I got home that night to find that our new cans had not arrived. Close examination of the premises the next day, along with a careful forensic analysis of Jessopland webcam footage indicated that the neighbors may have swiped our shiny new cans.

While most normal people would simply confront said neighbors and ask for return of the cans, I opted for a more passive aggressive approach which involved sullen looks towards their collection of new cans, bitter complaining and constant calls to Waste Management negotiating, demanding and finally begging for new cans. I decided that Waste Management and the Castro Valley Sanitation district were the true villains in this conflict. For two weeks they promised to deliver new cans during the daily phone calls I made. And for two weeks we went without cans.

The missing can controversy was made worse by the fact that Jerry spent that same two weeks traveling for work. Without my husband around to keep me in check, my obsession about the missing cans got a little out of hand and my behavior got a little wacky. 

Thursday nights were the worst as I packed the trash and recycling in feeble plastic bags. For good measure I neatly tagged them with blunt notes like “We need cans, NOW” and “Where the hell are my CANS?” Dragging the bags to the corner would strike even more fury as I eyed everyone else’s cans, smugly lined up on the curb. One night I couldn’t help it and found myself shrieking “It’s just not right!” to a passing group of teenagers.

Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore. Since the constant phone calls obviously did no good, I had not other choice but to take matters into my own hands. I had heard rumors of trucks driving around the neighborhood bearing new cans and decided to take the day off work to see if they really existed.

I awoke to the sounds of garbage trucks early that Friday morning. Armed with a giant pot of coffee to keep me fortified, I spent the next three hours watching Food Network and ER reruns, venturing out to the end of the driveway scouting for trucks during commercials.

At 10:30am, graced by what could only be a divine miracle because I had just changed out of my pink bathrobe into an understated pair of grey sweatpants, I spotted in the living room window a pick-up truck pulling a flat bed trailer loaded with Waste Management trash bins. Like a bullet I shot out of the house and raced down the end of the drive way only to see that the truck driving by and not leaving a single can on our curb.

“NOOOOOO!” I wailed as I chased after the truck. I broke into a sprint, but of course could not keep up with my pathetic 12 minute/mile pace. The truck had turned the corner before I could catch their attention.

Defeated, I turned around and slowly walked back to the house. I felt hopeless and defeated and envisioned myself dragging plastic bags full of trash to the corner every Thursday night for the next 20 years. Then I looked up and saw another truck, piled high with cans. Elated, I broke into a run toward the truck, waved my arms and flagged them down. When they stopped I jumped for joy and I cried out, “We need cans! We need cans!”

The guy standing on the back of the trailer motioned his head toward the driver. “Give him your address m’am.”

I skipped to the open cab window and called out our address. The driver examined his clipboard and shook his head. “Sorry m’am.”

Sorry…what? NO!” I screamed. “There must be some mistake. Look again.”

“I’m sorry m’am. You’re not on the list.”

Panic swept through me. This couldn’t be happening. I stepped closer to the truck and leaned my head into the cab and quietly growled, resisting all urges to grab the guy by his shirt collar, “You listen to me and listen good. I’ve been calling your office every day for the past two weeks begging. I don’t give a shit what your clipboard says, you’re leaving me some god-damned cans!

He stared at my crazy face for a moment and then leaned his head out the window and called back, “Leave this lady some cans. Give her the big ones.”

I know I must have looked like a crazy woman, cackling as I dragged my new cans up the driveway but the sense of triumph I felt was extremely rewarding.  I even called Jerry and breathlessly detailed the morning adventure.  That’s solving a crisis Jessopland style. 

As we suspected, when we last left off, the bloody foot was in fact “the queen” feeding.  The rest of the episode was less predictable, but unfortunately did not make it more interesting.  Let’s just destroy Mary Ann and get on with next season, although at this point I’d be fine if the show doesn’t get renewed.  There was absolutely nothing about this episode that inspired or entertained me.  I can’t even lust after Eric anymore thanks to that brilliant move of putting him in a housecoat and giving him Tara’s mother’s voice.  Thanks Alan Ball, thanks a lot! 

My impression overall: YAWN!

I’m glad I recorded this week’s episode of True Blood because it was completely forgettable. Seriously, when I got an email from my friend Sheila this morning (flagged as “urgent”) asking if I’d seen it yet I realized I had already forgotten what I had seen a mere 8 hours before. After a refresher from Sheila and watching again tonight I have the following observations:

  • I wonder if Eric would be as tender in bed as he is in Sookie’s dreams. My guess is no. 
  • And while were on the subject, is it too late to bring up the fact that Eric is clearly hotter than Sam? 
  • Why didn’t Mary Ann know, through her great evil powers, what was going on a Merlottes and just come and get Sam herself?
  • Classic line award goes to Lafayette: “Jesus and I agreed to see other people but that don’t mean we don’t still talk from time to time.” 
  • Oh! Egg’s is the name of Tara’s boyfriend! I was wondering the first time around why she needed eggs when she came out of her trance. 
  • Apparently this episode was only 45 minutes. I didn’t even notice.

Overall, this nonsense with Mary Ann has gotten completely out of control.  If they continue on this route they might as well turn the show into a cartoon.  They’re halfway there already. 

I went to visit my grandmother yesterday.  It was the first time in months.  I know, I’m horrible.  How many other 42 years olds can say they have a 100 year old grandmother living in a nursing home they avoid? 

But come on, everybody knows how miserable it is in those places.  To see what used to be your strong, tidy, meticulous grandmother, turn into one of those dreary old ladies rotting away in a wheelchair is tough.  It’s disturbing and heartbreaking and just plain sad.  It’s also awkward as all hell. 

The last time I visited, I found Grandma sitting up in her bed, happy, cheerful and covered with the beautiful quilt my mother made for her last Christmas.  We chatted for a few minutes and then one of the caretakers came in and said, “OK Hetty! Ready for me to take the bedpan away?”  See? Awkward! 

Sometimes when I go Grandma is sleeping.  A little awkward, and waking her up is even more so.  Although now that I know that a 100 year old lady can be very disoriented when first waking up from a nap I’m always prepared for the visit to be short and predictable, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  After Grandma gets over her usual grogginess and we establish who I am and how we are related the conversation usually goes like this:

“Oh Karen, how nice to see you dear! Do you have the day off work?”

“Yes, I certainly do. It’s Saturday. How are you doing Grandma? Everything going OK in here?”

“Oh sure! How’s Jerry?”

“Jerry’s good.  He’s busy with work as usual.”

“So where are you living now?”

“We live in Castro Valley. We’ve been there for six years now.  We like it.  Do you remember Castro Valley Grandma? Do you remember stopping at De Luca Deli?”

“Oh sure….”

There will be a pause while we both sit there and then we will cycle through the same conversation again.  After three or four goes at this Grandma will start throwing in “Well it was really nice of you to stop by” which is my que to go.  It’s short, sweet and everyone is happy. 

But sometimes the mid-nap visit doesn’t go so well.  Like the time Grandma was really groggy and we never quite got past settling on the correct time of day, (she kept looking out the window and saying “It sure is bright for 5am!”) or establishing who I was.  When I told her I was Karen she said, “You know, I have a really good friend named Karen.  She lives in Castro Valley with her husband Jerry.” Again, awkward. 

My visit this weekend was actually pretty good.  Grandma was neither sleeping nor peeing when I got there.  She was fully dressed, sitting in her wheelchair by the window and knew perfectly well who I was.  I ended up visiting for well over an hour.  After we cycled through our standard conversation I pulled out a copy of “More Home Cooking” by Laurie Colwin and read out loud chapters on Grandma’s favorite foods: coffee, butter and biscuits.  It was a lovely afternoon.  And save for a minor wheelchair incident in the hall with another old lady, there wasn’t a single awkward moment. 

After threatening us with a fine for $5,000 and assuring us that we could answer “decline to state” for questions concerning race and ancestry, we finally succumbed to the demands of the U.S. Census Bureau last weekend and spent an hour on the phone answering survey questions posed to us by a woman who barely spoke English. 

Now that it’s all over I’m wondering why all the fuss.  The questions were completely ridicules.  We should have told them we were a Canadian immigrant couple with three disabled children adopted from Mexico. 

As it was, we tried to answer the questions accurately but because of the absurd choices of categories combined with the heavy accent of the woman on the phone I believe that according to the official census records I am legally blind and sometimes have problems getting dressed in the morning.  (The latter is actually true.)  They also think that we have an aging Persian lady living with us named Mrs. Borowick. 

As for Jerry’s strong stance on not answering questions about race or ancestry, I think they have one over on him.  I know damn well they put him in the angry Portagee category.  You can’t hide that over the phone. 

The other Sunday night I came up with, not exactly a motto, but definitely three items which, if I could simply accept at inevitable facts, would probably make me a happier and more productive person: 

  • lotto is a bad investment
  • retirement is a long way off
  • booze is a temporary fix at best