Words of Wisdom, From Joe

“Jimmie!” said Joe. “Did you know that macaroni has lots of calories?”

My supper club bunch and I were having dinner at Finezza’s (Italian – very good, highly recommend), and Joe had apparently watched a new documentary.

“Yes, I know,” I replied.

“It’s got more than the cheese! I thought macaroni and cheese was healthy!”

“No,” I replied smugly*, “noodles have a lot of empty calories. They are a great way to convey flavors to your mouth but the calorie payoff is pretty rough.”

*I can say this with smugness because I’ve recently given up all grains and if I don’t say it smugly, I might cry.

“Also, did you know that fruit juice is mostly sugar?” Joe was distraught.

“Yes, Joe, I know. It’s disappointing.  It sounds so good for you but it’s really not,” I replied.

Joe shook his head mournfully. “No wonder I’ve gained so much weight,” he said (he hasn’t) and then he sighed.

The waiter rounded the table to take our orders and I wondered what Joe would eat. He’s a lot like Dammit Todd.  His food is his focus until the meal is gone and there’s no talking to him until the last bite has been consumed.  He thoroughly enjoys whatever he has ordered and it’s a pleasure to watch him at dinner.

“What will you have, sir?” she asked Joe.

“Lasagna, please. Extra cheese.  And lemonade, thanks.”

Oh, Joe. I do love him.

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Who Decided Eggs Had To Be Breakfast Food Anyway

Speaking of Squirt, the last time I was in Florida with Daisy, Squirt came to stay at our snazzy beach house with us. She had to sleep on the couch, of course, because one of the beautiful things about being single and self-indulgent is that when you go on vacation with a friend who is also single and self-indulgent, everyone gets their own room. No sharing of the bed, I don’t care how much I love you.  (God, when my husband who does not wear skinny jeans comes along, and also my husband who is similarly-to-me aged comes along [same man], please bring us a king sized bed.  I’m going to love him but I’m going to like him better when he’s all the way over there while I sleep. Amen.)

Anyway, Daisy and I went to Florida, now an annual trip in case you were wondering, and Squirt came to stay. Daisy and I took turns cooking breakfast. Since neither of us can abide an egg, and since Daisy is currently off carbs, our breakfast grocery shopping is a bit unconventional.  Daisy’s offering came in the form of hot dogs and Atkins bars, always delicious.  Mine came in the form of this:

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I slaved away in kitchen and presented plates to both roomies. “Ta da,” I said, “breakfast is served!”

Squirt looked at me, fresh from her slumber on the sofa. “Wha?  Why?  That’s peas . . . “

“Yes!” I exclaimed. “With turkey bacon and cheese!”

Daisy said, “Is there butter?” Squirt said, “Is this even real meat?”

“NO! Peas are good on their own! Yes, I think so! Except it smells like plastic if you cook it for too long, so I don’t do that!”  I was muy entusiasmado, usually a problem for those who are not also similarly morning people.

Tentatively, Squirt said, “Do you have any eggs, maybe?”

Which brings me to my rant. Why do eggs have to be breakfast food?  Who determined that sausage should have an Italian version, a smoked version and also a breakfast version which is a complete non-descriptor?  Why pancakes only in the morning?  Why can’t we have pancakes for dinner and just call it pancakes for dinner?  We always have to say “breakfast foods for dinner.  I love breakfast foods for dinner!”  No. This is wrong on many levels.

Firstly, eggs are gross. They taste like eggs, particularly when scrambled.  I can abide a good deviled egg but it must be super salty and mustardy and I only eat the white parts if they are covered in yellow.  I can abide a fried egg only when it’s over something like toast or potatoes which mask the flavor.  I can abide a hard-boiled egg covered in ranch dressing or a very good Italian.  First thing in the morning, though?  Oh, my stomach.  OH, HURK.

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Secondly, why aren’t turkey sandwiches considered a breakfast food? Peas, also.  Lately, I’ve even found myself enamored of a roasted beet or steamed Brussels sprout for breakfast.  Full of fiber, pretty colors, throw some olive on there to clean out the arteries.  What’s not great about starting your day that way?

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I did some research to figure this out so that you don’t have to. I found this, about Edward Bernays, long considered the father of public relations:

“To get an idea of Bernays’ abilities, think for a moment about a traditional breakfast. What do you think of? If you are like most, you will come up with bacon and eggs — so what? Prior to 1915, bacon was not part of a traditional breakfast — so Edward Bernays was hired to increase bacon consumption in the United States. He incorporated a new theory of gaining assent from recognized leaders either with their knowing cooperation or without. He conducted a survey among physicians and received their overwhelming recommendation that Americans should eat a hearty breakfast. Coupled with predictive results from the physicians, he began an advertising campaign stressing that a breakfast of bacon and eggs was just that — a hearty breakfast. It may sound simple, but look where we are today because of it.” (Jack Monnett, PhD.)*

I guess I can blame Edward Bernays for eggs-for-breakfast tradition. And I guess this is only two levels of wrong but it’s my post.

For the record, Martie has lots to say about my breakfast selections. Mostly they involve phrases like, “No.”  Also, “OMG, why???”  Perhaps even a “You are gross, how are we sisters?”  Then she sends pictures of her lobster grits, consumed at Blue Heaven in Key West and I ask the same question.  Daisy felt similiarly, I think, despite her fondness for hotdogs at breakfast but I believe I changed her.  On our last day of Florida vacation, Daisy fixed us breakfast.  It was a giant bowl of peas, loaded with butter and salt, and it was delicious.

And that, my friends, is all I have to say about that.

*http://www.ourrepubliconline.com/Author/183

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Squirt with her new Paraguayan friend, Gilbert.

Conversations With Joe

You guys remember Joe, right? Joe has been a long time member of my Supper Club at Fifty Forward and honestly, he provides me with most of the fun stories I have even though I almost never share them here. He is a lifelong bachelor and you wonder when you meet him if that is by choice or circumstance. What I mean by that is he’s sneaky. He will begin a conversation with you in a myriad of ways:

Jimmie, I watched a show on tv the other day and did you know that they inject corn with high fructose corn syrup? It’s true, they do. The guy said that the only time you should ever eat corn is if you grow it yourself.

Hey Jimmie, have you ever been to Canada? I have. We went to that part that is so rich you need to have green blood to afford a hotel there.

I’m giving up refined sugar. Unless it’s a sorbet. I will eat some sorbet but I won’t eat refined sugar. It’s bad for you.

Jimmie, what’s a starch? (This one is asked in the middle of dinner when he hasn’t spoken for twenty minutes because he’s intent on his hamburger and fries – his favorite meal. Once he asks and gets an answer he goes back to his burger and never brings it up again.)

It’s in Banff Springs! (When you ask him “What?” he replies, “That hotel in Canada? The one that is in the rich part? It’s in Banff Springs. We were there.)

You know what that guy said, he said that if you want to give someone cancer you should send them to chemo. (At this point I was no longer really tracking because it was the third time he mentioned it, but I suspect this was another tidbit from the guy on the tv show he recently watched.)

After a couple of hours of conversation with Joe, you find yourself wondering if he’s all there. He drives just fine and always has money to pay for dinner and it is clear that he held down a steady job for many years so that he could retire in relative comfort, but you wonder if maybe he has a benefactor of some sort or a guardian who stays in the shadows. It isn’t until he pops off with something like the below that you see how sneaky he really is:

Jimmie, I would never finance a car. You should never buy a car that has a payment larger than your rent. People who do that are just showing off and the amount they pay in interest could be invested into a 401(k) and they could increase their retirement income by 7.5%. That could mean a higher grocery budget every week and people later in life need to pay attention to these things.

And you look at him in utter astonishment because in the five years you’ve been doing this, you never suspected that underneath the wavy eye and the shuffling feet and the nearly incoherent Kroger rant he subjected you to two years ago for the sum total of three hours, Joe is a pretty smart guy. Not even pretty smart, but very smart as in he paid cash for his car AND his house and lives debt free today. Damn. Caught me off guard, that one.

I leave you with one final Joe conversation.

“Joe,” I asked, “did you ever have a girlfriend that got away?”

“Oh, yeah,” he said, “several of them. And some of them I had to kick away. Bad news.”

I LOVE THESE PEOPLE!

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Let’s Talk About Money

You guys want to talk about money? We aren’t dating so I think it’s safe.

There was a time when I would tell you that I was good at saving money. I had some moolah in the bank set aside for emergencies, and I had a nice 401(k) going. I felt pretty good about things. The day after I felt good about things, I lost my job. Then right after that, I got a new job but I made signficantly less money which was okay because it was around that time that I gave up wearing glitter eyeliner* which can get pretty expensive. I felt good about that because the day after I gave up glitter eyeliner, I paid off my car. I felt exceptionally good about that and the day after that, my car fell spectacularly apart. Nine times.

I don’t know about you but I can often feel very discouraged about money, especially when I think I’m ahead and then later in the day I find myself underneath my car on one of those rolling scooter things looking  up at the new break in my bushings. Just last week I was preening over the small amount of money in my savings account when I got a call from my doctor asking me to come in for a biopsy because she found some questionable cells on my person.** This biopsy will fall into the category of “stuff I have to pay for out of pocket because insurance sucks anymore and I have a very large deductible I have to meet,” which means the money in the bank will be sent to a medical professional very soon and I’ll be back to square one. I’m thankful I have a square one because a lot of people don’t even have a square. They have negative squares.

While I’m talking about saving, I’ll also discuss spending. That goes a lot like this:

Madre: Jimmie, I found these great boots that would fit over your gladiator calves. You should look at them. You’ve been wanting some for years.

Jimmie: I don’t have the money for boots that fit over my gladiator calves. They are expensive. That is a lot of leather.

Madre: But you had money last week. Where did it go?

Jimmie: No, I didn’t have any money. You misheard me.

Madre: Is that a TJ Maxx bag?

Jimmie, as I kick the bag under the bed: No.

Also while I’m talking about spending, I will tell you that I took two trips last year I didn’t tell you about, one with Phranke and one with Daisy. And I’m booked for a cruise with My Girls in about seven weeks. After that I have a trip planned to Key West and another planned for New Year’s Eve, and then in 2017 Woney and I are going to Spain. “No money!” I whine. Well why the hell not?

I have found a sort of solution for this problem of mine. This will sound like I am selling something in an infomercial and I totally am but not in the way you think. I’m telling you about it, trying to sell you on it, because if you are like me even a weensy bit, you could do far better with your finances and you require someone being sneaky to make you do it.

Go out to the Google and type in the word Digit. It should be the first web page to pop up. Basically you just connect your bank account to Digit and they take care of the rest. I stole this wording from their website: Every few days, Digit checks your spending habits and removes a few dollars from your checking account if you can afford it. Easily withdraw your money any time, quickly and with no fees. Bank-level security.

It sounds scary, I know. I read a thousand reviews before I did it. With a squinched up digestive tract, I got out my checkbook and connected the two. Ten months later I have saved almost $500. $500! Do you know how many car repairs that would cover? (Answer: one.)

Initially Digit tiptoed around in my checking account and said, “Perhaps she won’t miss 92 cents. I think we can safely take that and she will be okay.”   Then they got slightly more aggressive and took amounts like $1.19 and $2.52. After a time I asked them to be even more aggressive and amounts like $33.04 were deducted. Not once have I missed that money. I’m of a mind, apparently, that if the money is where I can see it, I can spend it. If I don’t see it, I don’t spend it.

I know that this whole post sounds like I have become a sponsored blogger, a brand ambassador, but I have not. Once someone asked if they could share my Christmas post with their church and once someone asked if she could use a comment of mine to help a friend, but that is the extent of my fame with this here blog. Those two things. I’m just really excited about Digit because it works for me.

Every so often Digit sends a link attached to my balance text message letting me know that I can boost my savings by $5 for every friend I refer. While that $5 would be great (it would go towards the fund for repairing my broken air conditioner which I know is broken because the WINTER WEATHER we are supposed to be having is not cooperating and my house was 85 degrees the other day and it only got hotter when I turned the a/c on), I am not attaching that link here. I get nothing if you sign up except the satisfaction of knowing I recommended something that has worked for me and the hope that it will work for you, too.

Visit if you like. Let me know if you liked/hated it. Digit.

Also, feel free to give me advice about my money. Budgets are kind of sexy, but creating one is not and I suck at that it seems.

*Martie got me some glitter eyeliner for Christmas so I’m back in business!

** We are not worrying about this biopsy. I am totally fine. I just have to prove it is all.

A Story My Daddy Told Me

Two men got off a plane and made their way to the airport exit. The older man saw his wife and children waiting for him and rushed to greet them. He clutched the teenager in a hug and said, “Oh, I missed you so much!”

He then hugged the middle child in a firm embrace and said, “Honey, I missed you so much!”

He took the baby from his wife’s arms and squeezed that baby as he gave it kisses. “Look at you! I missed you!”

He then handed the baby to the teenager and gathered his wife into his arms for a kiss. Passionately, he said, “My darling, I’m so happy to be back with you! I’ve missed you!”

The younger man who had gotten off the plane with the husband witnessed this and asked, “How long have you been married?”

“Twelve years,” was the reply.

“And how long have you been gone?” the young man asked.

“Two whole days,” the man replied.

The young man marveled, then said, “I’m meeting my fiancé here. I hope that when we’ve been married for twelve years, I am just as passionate for her as you are with your family.”

The husband looked him square in the eye and said, “No, son. Don’t hope. Just do it.”

I Didn’t See This Coming

I had dinner with Martie, Coach, Pooh and Tigger last night.  Its summer break for them and since my hometown has zero good shopping opportunities (excepting Home Depot, of course), they came up my way for some good eats and some good spending.

Right in the middle of a story I was telling at dinner, I looked over at Pooh and noticed that she’s suddenly become a young lady.  Her roundy little face is not really roundy anymore and her chin is suddenly all pointy and sweet and her cheekbones are making an appearance and she looked so grown up that I couldn’t stand it.  I started crying halfway through a sentence.

Coach was astonished, although probably not as astonished as an outsider would have been.  I mean, he’s been a part of Martie’s life since forever and Martie and I are what you call emotional at times.  I think he was particularly torn because while he was sitting next to me as I cried into my napkin, Martie was across the table from him and suddenly crying into her napkin, too.  I could see his dilemma – he wanted to race around the table to her, pat me on the arm, look proudly at Pooh but since we were all in a circle, he could only dart his eyes around in a panic.  Tigger just sat there like, “wha . . .?”

Back when Pooh was a toddler and Tigger wasn’t even a two-celled being, Martie and Coach bought Pooh a swing set.  She loved to swing but she hated bugs so getting her to go outside was super successful until a fly buzzed past, then she was hell bent on heading for the sofa on her squeezy little toddler legs.   We all thought it was adorable because everything toddlers do is adorable, but I also thought it could be changed so I tried that.

Pooh and I were happily swinging one day when a buzzy creature whizzed past.  Pooh got off the swing, covered her eyes and wailed, waiting for me to take her inside.  Instead, I spotted a butterfly on some of the marigold plants in their rock-walled planter and developed a plan.

“Come with me, Pooh,” I said, taking her by the hand.  “Let’s go look at the pretty butterfly.  Not all bugs are scary.”  She, ever trusting, took my hand and willingly followed.

At the planter, I bent down to brush the dirt off the rock wall and then curved Pooh into the crook of my arm as I sat down.  As I held my hand out to the butterfly, I felt a small stick on my behind.  I ignored it because the butterfly was flitting toward my fingers and I was excited to show Pooh the beauty of it.

I felt another stick on my behind, like maybe I was pressing into a sticker bush.  I scooted forward.  Then I felt another and another and another.

“What the . . . ?” I thought.  “Do marigolds have thorns?”  I looked behind me to see what I was sticking my butt into and saw the most horrifying sight.  Fire ants.  Fire ants!  Oh, geez.

Apparently that dirt I brushed off the rock wall was their home.  I just whisked it right off into oblivion which, as you know, will piss a fire ant off like nobody’s business.  Whoops.  In retaliation for my destruction they attacked my behind numerous, numerous times.

I stood up abruptly, knocking Pooh over, and did the only thing I could think to do.  I stripped off my pants.  Which, in case you are unfamiliar with how clothing works, will leave you virtually naked.  Realizing that neighbors were likely now peeking out of their windows due to the loud squawking next door, and realizing that being naked in my sister’s backyard with her squeezy little toddler was in no way sane, I stuffed myself back into my fire ant-riddled pants and ran for the house.  I did remember to get Pooh and as I ran, I tucked her under my arm like a football, screeching the whole way.

As we ran, Pooh very calmly touched my behind with her finger.  “Ant,” she said.  She giggled.  “Ant,” and then she’d poke me again.  “Ant, ant, ant,” all the way to the house.  I set her down on the laundry room floor, stripped myself again and threw everything into the washing machine while Pooh said over and over in her toddler language, “Ant.” Har, har, Pooh.  Very funny. Got over your bug phobia, didn’t you?

I’ve told that story a thousand times.  Used to Pooh would ask for it, and then would tell it to Tigger in her own language which often made no sense. The two of them would cackle in the backseat of my car, highly amused at my injured behind and my naked self.

Now if I told that story, Tigger would giggle to be polite and Pooh would give me a half smile and then text her friends something that has nothing to do with me.  They both still hug me tightly when we get together and we still have big fun talking about boys and clothes and nail polish, but one day soon they are going to flit off with their friends right after giving me that tight squeeze and talk about boys and clothes and nail polish with them, not me.

I’m so, so excited for them and their young little lives, truly, but man . . . . that really hurts.

 

My Word, I’m Boring

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!  Did you have a good one?  I did, and I wasn’t even celebrating it.  The amount of loot I got was astonishing.  Over the last couple of weeks everyone has been so dang nice to me.  I told you about the chocolates and the lip goo.  I told you about some of the phone calls.  I didn’t tell you about the tote bag that somebody made for me, nor the cards I got, nor the lunch and dinner dates.  Two people offered to watch Magic Mike with me and I’m here to tell you, I’m going to take both of them up on the offer.  Rowr!  If ever I was in any doubt, my heart squish has proven to me that I am loved.  I’m planning on getting dumped every other month or so because I’ve never felt so special in all my life.  Also, I won a book in a contest.  I’m charmed, I tell you.

I’m still on my Whole 30 “Cleanse” and that’s what I wanted to tell you about today.  In my head I planned to say that this here “cleanse” is going to be the death of me because hahahahahahaaaa, but that would be untruthful.  I feel pretty good, honestly.  I’m on day 12, so not quite halfway through, and I still like the food I’m eating.  I’m still experimental with it, and I don’t yet hate broccoli so for a least another week or two, I’m alright.

The chocolates that I got as gift continue to sit on my table in their pretty box, and I’m not even tempted to open it.  I barely think about them.  Isn’t that amazing?  It helps that I accidentally had some sugar one night, I think it was in a marinade, and the sugar headache nearly did me in.  That right there was enough to keep me from wanting any sugar.  Oh, can you imagine the barfs I would get if I ate a whole passel of sugar right now?  Oh, hurk.

So I bypassed the Sugar Headache that was to be Phase One on this here “cleanse.”   I didn’t want to Kill Anything, Phase Two.  Phase Three hit me like a ton of bricks, though.  That was the I Want A Nap Phase, and boy did I ever.  Napping is usually something you’d like to shoot for in the middle of the afternoon but personally, I aimed to nap at about 5:00 a.m., just as the alarm was going off.  I’d have gone to bed at 9:00 the night before, slept like a hibernating bear, and then 5:00 would roll around and I would use every ounce of effort I had to lift my arm from the under the duvet and tap my phone to set the snooze on my alarm.  I did this multiple times every morning.  The cats even stopped freaking out, it happened so often.  If Daisy hadn’t texted me early I never would have gotten out of bed.  Once at work I was fine.  I think that phase has passed, thank goodness, and having skipped right over My Pants are Too Tight (something about a bloat as your gut heals itself?) and The Hardest Days (I didn’t find that to be true), I’m now ready for Phase Six – Boundless Energy.  I hear its coming, and boy am I excited about it.  This house needs a deep cleaning.  There is dust everywhere.  Once that energy train rides in, I’m all over it.

I’ve learned some valuable information during this here “cleanse.”

  1. I don’t like butternut squash.  What a pretentious vegetable yet it is so overwhelmingly unsatisfying.  It tastes like squash.  As much as we hype this mind-blowing super food, you’d think it would taste better than squash.  Blergh.
  2. I really don’t need sugar.  I haven’t craved it yet.  Nor have I craved carbs.  The things I haven’t had I don’t miss.  I don’t even think about them.
  3. I suck at making sweet potato fries.  So not worth the effort it takes to cut each sweet potato into evenly shaped French fry-like shapes.  Nearly lost a finger in that debacle.
  4. I have a serious emotional attachment to food.  No, I’m not craving anything right now but a part of me is mourning the loss of the food I used to eat.  I’m mourning the preparation of it and the anticipation of it.  I’ve used food as an emotional meter for so long.  I want it when I’m happy, sad, excited, hurt, motivated.  I’ve used it to show love or gratitude.  I’ve used it as a comfort or to ease a wound when I’m hurting.  It isn’t normal.
  5. Nashville is home to some very snooty grocery stores.  I feel like this here “cleanse” requires me to be snooty in some of the choices I make, and I don’t like it.  The minute I get haughty and start yapping about how “Whole Foods is really the only market worth my time and money,” and “I eat Paleo,” and “Really, that butter you ingest is soooo passé.  Here, try my ghee* . . . .” y’all shoot me in the big toe.  I’m serious.  One trip to Whole Foods on a Saturday morning has cured me of any airs I might have had or ever hope to have about grocery shopping.  Bunch of men wearing skinny jeans and organic garlic sold for $6.00 a bunch. Posers.
  6. I’m not going to be able to eat this way for any extended period of time.  I didn’t go into it thinking that I would.  I really just wanted to get back to foods as natural as I could get them and also hoped to kick a few bad habits.  Perhaps drop a few pounds before my next big vacation and not feel hideous in my super-cute swimmy clothes.  I’m going to miss brown rice, though.  I can feel that coming.
  7. After this shindig is over, I will not eat another egg for at least one year.  Do not offer me quiche.  Do not offer me crème brulee.  Do not offer me custard of any kind.  If you try to serve me a frittata and disguise the egg under a bunch of cheese and/or tomatoes, I will barf on your shoes.  That’s a promise right there.

I guess I’m telling you all this to tell you I’m still fighting over here.  I’m still kicking and all is well.  This here “cleanse” is the only item of note in my life right now, so this is what you get.  Yee-haw!  Let’s all pray for something exciting to happen to me, yes?

* Ghee is a super snooty, pretentious butter.  It’s clarified within an inch of its life and it is ridiculously expensive.  I better love the heck out of it because there is no way, no how any of that is going in the trash.  I’d shoot my own self in the big toe before I do that.

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