Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Interview Cheat Sheet

The manager of the bed and breakfast that is my home-away-from-home is interviewing applicants for an innkeeper position.  I have a few questions for the prospective employee myself.  Here they are, along with the appropriate responses:

Q.  If your favorite guest (from the Greater Charlotte area) is going to arrive after hours, what do you do?

A.  Leave a plate of fudge in her room.

Q.  If your favorite guest (from the Greater Charlotte area) arrives to breakfast five minutes too late to be served, what do you do?

A.  Let her take a plate of fudge to her room.

Q. If your favorite guest (from the Greater Charlotte area) is sightseeing and it appears she is going to miss happy hour, what do you do?

A. Leave a plate of fudge in her room.

Q.  If the inn is full and you notice that your favorite guest (from the Greater Charlotte area) has pigged down all the fudge before the other guests have even made lipstick marks on the rims of their wine glasses, what do you do?

A.  Put out crab dip and crackers for the wine snobs and take a plate of fudge (from your secret stash) to her room. 

Trick question: (to separate the shrewd innkeeper from the ordinary)

Q.  Your favorite guest (from the Greater Charlotte area) has left her purse at the inn.  What do you do?

A.  Mail her a box of fudge.  Slip in a note that you are holding the purse in your office and she can retrieve it, along with a plate of fresh fudge, next time she's in town. 

If and only if the prospective innkeeper can cheerfully answer these simple questions correctly does he/she get the coveted "favorite guest (from the Greater Charlotte area) seal of approval."

Good luck to all the applicants! 

Husband of the favorite guest (from the Greater Charlotte area)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What I Learned from my Cat

In the late '70s we got a cat.  Josh, then almost two, named her "Blue."  This seemed like the perfect cat name and since the cat appeared to be good with it, that's what we called her.

Now Blue was a sweet cat but a horrible, horrible hunter.  Every fall a mouse or two would get into the house and every fall it was a mousetrap, not our cat, that dispatched it.  I felt kind of sorry for her because I could see her practicing stalking when she thought I wasn't looking.  I knew she had the heart of a huntress; she just never seemed to get it right.

One autumn day, I walked into our backyard and there, right by the concrete steps, some insolent mother mouse had constructed a nest and birthed a bunch of babies.  Blue was mainly a house cat but she did come outside with me from time to time and I just couldn't resist bringing her out to show her these mice.  Bless her heart, she couldn't even catch them.  I decided there was no hope for her and we went back inside together.

What happened next was a major life lesson for me.  Our cat hopped up onto the windowsill to track the mother mouse.  I knew that's what she was doing because every time Blue moved her head, the bell on her collar jingled. 

The bell jingled!  It took me three years to realize that the cat couldn't catch mice not because she had some feline disability but because I had tied a bell around her neck.  Imagine her frustration!

I took that bell off immediately.  The next time I let Blue in from exercising outdoors I noticed a little (dead) present by our back door.

The years roll by.....

Now I live in the woods of South Carolina, home of the copper-colored pit vipers.  People tell me that the snakes will leave me alone if I don't creep up on them and catch them unawares.  Why would I do that?  I want them to hear me coming a mile away.  So, remembering the lesson that our cat Blue taught me, I have custom made myself an ankle bracelet with five bells on it.  Nobody - not snake, not cat, not human - is going to be surprised when they see me coming.

J i n g l e  all the way!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Missing Checkbook

I was getting frantic.  I hadn't seen the checkbook for over a week and was beginning to think that it was lost and not just misplaced.  I spent the last two days tearing up the house searching.  As a result, my laundry room has never looked better.  Good news!  The checkbook was not under the washing machine.

It wasn't in the spare bedroom closet either.  Or in the freezer.  Not in the dresser drawer or under the bathroom sink.  Nix on the bookshelves (although I emptied them twice just to be sure.)  Not in the boxes of Christmas ornaments.  Jerry helped me search for several hours the other night.  I figure I have about twenty-five man hours invested in this project all together.  Still no checkbook.

The last time I could remember seeing it we were in Charleston.  I began wondering, would we drive back to Charleston just to get our checkbook?  How far would you backtrack to pick up a lost item?

                                                 *  *  *

When we were traveling back from Orlando a couple of weeks ago, we hit a storm system that was spawning tornadoes.  We'd planned to drive straight through, but considered the weather and stopped just at the edge of Savannah.  There was a cluster of chain motels there and we just picked one and slept there.  Nothing special, just an emergency place to stay.

In the morning we got up early and left.  We had breakfast in Savannah and it was during this meal that Jerry asked, "Did you grab the pillows?" I hadn't and so then we had a little dilemma.  Do we go back and get them or not? 

I really like my pillow.  It's goose down and broken in.  I feel about it like a four-year-old feels about her blankie.  I am attached to it, but I don't necessarily want people to know.  I hated to leave it behind, but Jerry's determination to get from "Point A" to "Point B" as rapidly as possible is legendary.  I harbored little hope that he would drive ten minutes in the wrong direction to retrieve it. 

Calling the motel was a good idea, but neither of us could remember what the name of it was and we hadn't gotten a receipt. I reasoned that it was still early and maybe the maids hadn't even cleaned our room yet but Jer didn't want to bother driving that far if they'd already thrown our pillows away. 

Jerry was calling random motel chains, asking them "Are you the motel by the Cracker Barrel?" when I realized I had stuffed my pillow into my suitcase.  The urgency of the trip back magically dissolved for me now that I knew my own pillow wasn't at risk.  Funny how that works, right?  I hadn't mentioned my news yet to Jer, but he sensed that something was different in my attitude. "Whatever you want to do, honey."  I said sweetly.

When I finally told him only his pillow was left in the room, he surprised me by deciding to go back anyway.  Apparently he likes his pillow as much as I like mine.  It was worth the extra twenty minutes' drive just to know that we would have our own pillows to sleep on when we got home.

A week or so later I was trying to make my friend who works at a B&B laugh by telling her the pillow story.  She did smile but then she told me an even funnier  one.  A snarky couple stayed with them for a couple of nights and when they left, the maid found a pair of men's underwear and a pair of socks in the bureau drawer.  "What should I do with these?" she asked.  It had been about forty-five minutes since these guests had departed so my friend said, "Throw them in the dumpster."

Wouldn't you know about fifteen minutes later the man called and said he was coming back for them?  The women were both flabbergasted!  How much can a pair of underwear and socks cost?  The gas they were going to spend to drive back to the inn probably would have covered the price tags of replacements and then some. 

The women quickly did a dumpster dive and recovered the articles, slightly worse for the wear.  Breakfast scraps had been thrown in on top of the underwear, so they now had Hollandaise sauce decorating the front panel.  The innkeeper scrubbed them the best she could, stuck them in a plastic bag and just handed the whole mess to the man when he arrived.  "Don't even ask," she told him.  

He'd added a hundred and twenty minutes to his drive in order to retrieve his pair socks and a wet pair of underpants.  It's a crazy world.

                                                   *  *  *

Sam "driving" the van.

So, would we drive four hours one-way to retrieve our checkbook?   We won't need to find out this time because I found it outside in the recycling bin.  Like I said, it's a crazy world.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Little Men

My darling grandson Brody (a.k.a. the cutest toddler ever) welcomed his very own cousin Logan to the world today. The little guy has a shock of black hair that most men can only envy.  A new life.  What a reason for celebration! 

Little Men
How can you not remember the births of your own children when you gaze upon a brand-new baby?

Our firstborn was conceived during that phase of our lives when we were kids masquerading as adults.  In the fall of 1976, at the ripe old age of twenty-three, we anticipated our baby's arrival together.  Jerry and I moved from Louisiana to Ohio and had just bought a 1920's bungalow that we were fixing up. 

We spent the day wallpapering the nursery.  Wallpapering is tedious and all that running up and down the ladder tired us both out.  We watched Johnny Carson then fell into bed, exhausted.  As Jerry was drifting off to sleep and I was relaxing, I felt an odd sensation, a pang of pain. 

"This is it!" I cried. 

"Roll over and go to sleep." replied Mr. Compassion.

Instead of taking his advice, I leapt up and my water broke all over everywhere.  Suddenly Jerry was wide awake.  This was no fire drill, it was the real deal!  I called our parents while he got the car.  It was an hour's drive to the hospital and that was the longest ride of my life.  Every time we hit a pothole, I flinched.  I made sure Jerry was aware of my pain too.  Turns out I'm not at my best during labor.  Who knew?

For a while Jer was driving carefully, avoiding potholes.  I was thinking that maybe I didn't really want to be pregnant after all, wondering if it were too late to back out.  Suddenly I noticed that the car had stopped.  Although somewhat distracted, somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that we were not in the hospital parking lot.  No.  We were at the gas station.  My husband chose this moment to buy gas, something that I felt was totally inappropriate.  I told him that, too.   

"I have to drive home and the gas stations might be closed by then," he reasoned.  He was not endearing himself to me.  I was certain that I was about to give birth in the back of his orange Toyota Corolla.

Turns out that I didn't have to worry because I had one of those long, drawn-out affairs where the nurses tell you to "push" and when you do they say, "I can see the head.  Push harder!" And when you push harder and nothing happens, they say the same thing over again. "Push!"  "Push!"  May I point out that I had taken birthing classes and, in my mind at least, was the valedictorian of the group, overachiever that I am?

This is not how the experience was supposed to be unfolding.  We had seen the film in which the mom pushed roughly three times and the baby was born.  No baby was emerging here and no drugs had been administered either.  I pointed out this omission.  "You don't want to drug your baby," they said.  No, I didn't want to drug my baby.  I wanted to drug myself, a small but crucial difference that somehow I was unable to make them comprehend. 

Somewhere after hour twelve, the doctor came in and there was whispering about "the poor girl."  Silly me, I thought they were talking about the woman in the next bed.  I even felt sorry for her.  My mistake.  Shortly thereafter, the doctor ... I still can't believe this ... shoved the baby back up -- that's right, you read that correctly -- and said, "Don't push, you'll injure the baby."  Now, this is after twelve hours TWELVE HOURS of being told to push.  Nice.  Real nice.

Ever the drama queen, as they are wheeling me into surgery, I am yelling, "Save the baby!  Save the baby!  Organ donor!  I want to be an organ donor!  Take everything!  Just save the baby!"  I don't remember anyone actually slapping me, but I bet a couple of people wanted to.  

The nurse gave Jerry my wedding rings and glasses to hold because he was not able to go into the operating room with me.  And so the Daddy-to-be sat and waited.  He'd been up for over twenty-four hours by now and was getting sleepier and sleepier as the minutes ticked by.  The surgery went fast and before he knew it, we were in recovery.  Jerry assured himself that we were both okay and then went home to bed. Who could blame him?  (Me, as it turns out.) 

He drove home with my glasses still in his pocket and, in his sleep deprived fog, he also neglected to call my mother to tell her that we'd had a son.  Heck, he even forgot to call his own mother.  Not his smoothest moves, right?

Now Jerry's home sleeping and I am bitter that I don't have my glasses.  I am telling this story to the medics as they are wheeling me down the hallway to my hospital room.  I must have been louder than I thought ...

...because in that very room was a lady who was praying to God - earnestly begging him not to bring this loud woman (me) into her room.  God, of course, has a wildly wicked sense of humor and that's how I met my friend Margaret. 

When the mothers finally got to the hospital to see the baby, they totally forgot about being annoyed with Jerry, so strong was their love for their sweet grandson.  Babies are like that, so adorable and full of promise that they make everyone around them want to be better people.

As they say, all's well that ends well.  Congratulations, Brigit and Jeff.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another Charleston Story

Just livin' the dream...

We are back in Charleston again this week and we took the opportunity to do a little kayaking in Shem Creek last evening.  It was a bit choppy but still so relaxing and peaceful.  After Jer had loaded the kayaks back on our car-top carrier, we headed back to the city to meet friends for supper.

As I've said before, Charleston is:    a) a fabulous place to be 
                                                    b) a horrible place to find parking

We were running a bit late because of our kayaking and traffic was stressing Jerry out.  Finally he found a parking lot, turning in only to find that it had "employee parking only" signs in every single spot.  Tension was mounting.  Meanwhile I (ever helpful) tried to tell him about a place to park I knew of, but by now he was too annoyed to really hear me. 
There was a parking garage almost directly across the street from the lot that we were currently sitting in so a grumpy Jerry maneuvered the car out into traffic, got in the left-hand lane, positioned himself to turn and waited for an opening in traffic.  While we waited, the traffic situation became unbearable.  The man in the vehicle behind us was laying on his horn over and over and every time he honked, Jer got angrier and angrier.

"I'm not a fighting man, but the traffic in Charleston just gets to me," he said.  "I'd like to just get out and punch that guy behind me right in the nose!" he continued. (He doesn't usually talk like this but the cars and the noise were crazy bad.)

Right then there was a break in traffic and as we turned to pull into the parking garage the man behind us moved on and the honking stopped.  We sighed with relief and at that exact moment heard a loud crunching noise.  It was then that we realized that we'd tried to enter a parking garage with two kayaks strapped to the roof of our car.

Jerry burst out laughing because he realized that the jerk behind him honking was really just a nice guy trying to warn him about what was going to happen.  "I wish I could find that man and apologize for what I was thinking about him" he said.

Our faith in humanity restored, we backed into traffic once again, drove around the corner, parked in a metered spot on the street and walked to our destination, laughing all the way.

Life is an adventure.

                                                   *    *    *          

(To read about the first time we tried the tricky drive-into-the-parking-garage-with-kayaks-on-the-roof maneuver, go to the right side bar, click 2011, click July, click the the post entitled "A Story of Skill, Not Stupidity.")

This is me floating in my pretty blue kayak (which is
now a little scratched up but otherwise unharmed.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Ever taken a short-cut home?  Once in grade school I took one with my friend Marcia McVey.  Marcia's dad was a minister and they lived in the parsonage next to the church in the center of our tiny town. 

We walked through the school parking lot, into an alleyway then squirmed through a little hole in the fence and ended up in her backyard.  It was a cool adventure and a true shortcut -- if you were Marcia.  I, however, was not.  (She had poker-straight blonde hair that fell to the middle of her back in kindergarten.  We were only five.  How did she grow hair that long in just five years?  Even then, I remember asking myself that question.  Kind of a funny thing for a kindergartner to think about, but I was that kind of kid.
Sweet, wispy haired kid
This story is not about Marcia's hair -- although it could be, the hair was that pretty.  I mean, it's been fifty-four years since I was in kindergarten.  I'm even not sure of the spelling of her first name any more, yet I still vividly remember the hair that the girl had.  When she hung upside down on the trapeze* on the playground, her hair touched the ground.  That was a big, big thing with the kindergarten set, especially those of us with wispy hair that barely grazed our shoulders.)

*No kidding, this tiny town in Michigan had a trapeze bar on the playground.  Why?  Who knows?  But cool though, right?

Back to the shortcut story:

Not only was I not Marcia (I feel I've firmly established that by this point in my narrative) I also did not live on that side of town and so I had to walk myself all the way back around the block, pass the school, then take my normal route home.  It wasn't such a shortcut for me.  No, it was actually the opposite of a shortcut, really.  It took much, much longer to get home that day than normal and when I did get home I was in hot water.  (Duh.)

I've been feeling like I've been taking a lot of those kind of shortcuts lately,  whenever I use Jerry's old GPS, to be exact.  I swear, that GPS tries to get me to drive to Marcia's house before it takes me home every time I use it.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Cute little sunscreens

About this time last year, we had friends visit from Ohio.  They brought with them a lot of stuff, including a couple of one-ounce tubes of sunscreen.  I loved how they smelled so our friends left them for us to finish up.

Unlike up north, it remains sunny in South Carolina pretty much year round.  The only time it gets gray and cloudy is when it's going to rain and after it does, it gets sunny again.  What's not to love?  Anyway, all last summer we used that sunscreen.  We continued to use it in the fall and even into winter too. 

Now it's early April and it's about time to replenish my stock.   Today is when I realized that those two one-ounce tubes of lotion are meant to be a single application of sunscreen each.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012


If it really is all about me -- and the jury is still out on this -- then why do I use the word "I" so much?

Little kid with a great big laugh!