Friday, August 24, 2012

Life Lessons

The Blue Mosque
My son and his wife went to Turkey on vacation.  When they got back, they showed us beautiful pictures of the Blue Mosque, pictures of old men sitting outside of shops playing checkers and pictures of people drinking steaming hot tea out of tiny tea cups.  "If a local begs you to let him 'practice his English' with you on the streets of Turkey," Josh said, "you will come home with an oriental rug."

First the Turk miraculously has "a cousin who lives near you," next he gives you tea, and before you know it, you are stepping into his "uncle's" oriental rug shop.  By the time you step over the threshold of the store, there is no turning back.  The rug is already sold. 

The life lesson is, steel yourself against charming foreign accents and don't talk to strangers, no matter how friendly they may seem.

In my life, this translates into: Don't make eye contact with the beautiful twenty-something named Jordan (from Israel) who's working at her "uncle's" kiosk in the high-end mall.  If you respond when she speaks to you, you'll be taking home high-priced sea salt scrub with minerals from the Dead Sea in it.  Or, maybe a wonderful facial mask guaranteed to make your skin look years younger.  In my case, maybe both.

I'm reasonably sure that if I ever have the pleasure to visit Turkey, it's a foregone conclusion that I'll end up with at least two beautiful oriental rugs, but at least I'll have young-looking skin on the trip.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

At the Grocery Store

A new grocery store just opened up in our neighborhood, and I went there to check it out.  I was zooming around looking at the specials when an older guy stopped me and told me he'd forgotten his glasses.  He asked me if I could read the expiration date on a glass jar of grapefruit sections.

"You're good," I said. "It doesn't expire until May of '13."

"I don't know why my wife lets me come to the grocery store alone," he replied.  Then he told me this story:

"The last time I came shopping I was in a rush.  I didn't even take my wallet, I just stuck my debit card in my pocket.  Of course I forgot my glasses, I always do.  After I found what I wanted, I stood in line at the check out. 

When it was my turn, the cashier swiped my bank card and it was denied.  She swiped it again but it still didn't work. I knew I had money in my account so I was confused.  Why wouldn't my card work?  I asked her to try it again.  For the third time she tried it and for the third time it was rejected. 

Just then the guy behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Sir, that card will never work.' 


'Because it's your driver's license.'"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Another Airport Story

Our Godson Dawson was coming to visit and I had to pick him up at the airport at 3:49 p.m.  Although the airport is only around twenty-five minutes from here, I wanted to be absolutely certain I was there on time so I planned to leave at 2:00.  I set my alarm, my cell phone alarm and even my oven timer as a back up.  I was quite proud of myself for my over-planning because it's pretty much the opposite of how I normally behave. 

This would be a stress-free trip because I had factored in plenty of time for the unexpected, right?  I had covered all my bases - except one.  The timers rang, I checked my purse for my driver's license and headed off to the garage.

Some thoughtful someone had backed my car into the garage so I didn't have to turn around in the driveway before I left.  Unfortunately, that special someone had neglected to turn off my headlights, so the battery was dead.  I panicked and called my (very thoughtful) husband who suggested I call Mary Ann who suggested I find someone to jump the car.  (She's brilliant!  Why didn't I think of that?)  Of course my jumper cables were in my trunk which I couldn't open because it was backed into the garage..

Luckily Denny, a neighbor who occasionally works from home, was there today had a set of cables and said he'd be happy to help out.  He'd never driven down our driveway, which is a little like an amusement park thrill ride, but he was game.  He had my car started in a flash. 

Our driveway is not the venue for polishing rusty driving skills and I am not wild enough to attempt backing up it myself, but I'm not a guy.  Guys are different, more optimistic.  Denny made a couple of attempts at backing out before deciding to reevaluate the situation. 

Remember those 'Y' turns we all had to learn in driver's ed?   They are a good starting point for turning around a large vehicle on a small driveway pad.  I usually use a 'W,' another 'W', then a couple of 'Y's myself and I have a tiny car.  It's a humbling and time consuming experience.  Denny was aware of my time-crunch so he pulled off to the side to let me leave while he figured out whether or not to abandon his vehicle.  (When I got back, he was gone so obviously he figured out his own alphabetical turning techniques.)

Thank GOD I had allowed extra time!  It was now after three, but I still thought I could make it to the airport before Dawson did.  Technically I was right.  I did arrive at the airport before him, but he beat me to the terminal

I hit a snag in the hourly parking garage.  I couldn't find one single spot, not even one that looked like it would be dicey to squeeze into.  Zero!  This was supposed to be hourly parking.  Why was it full?  It didn't make sense.  Were so many people at the Charlotte airport picking up and delivering folks that their cars would fill an entire parking garage?  About this time, I was feeling stressed, believe me.  

There is an overflow garage and I drove through half of it before I saw an open  space in Blue East, Level Two, Row C.  Just after I pulled in, my cell phone rang. Dawson was calling to tell me he had landed.  "Take your time,"  he said.  "I will be the last one off the plane."  I told him to wait at the gate and I'd get there as soon as I could.

Problem.  There were plenty of overhead exit signs, but none that said "Terminal."  My spatial orientation skills are pitiful on the best of days and today wasn't falling into that category.  I walked the length of the garage and followed an exit sign out to what looked like an abandoned construction site.  Then I went back inside and took a creepy stairwell to a lower level where I eventually came across an area where I could look up see the feet of people walking above me.  I found more stairs again and saw the terminal across the street.  By now, I'm not humming or whistling merrily, ya know?

I entered the terminal through door 'D' and speed walked down to the other end.  I could see that the security lines were long but I had to have a gate pass to collect an unaccompanied minor first, and that would be granted at the Delta ticket counter.  When I wormed my way to the front of the line, all the ticket agent needed from me was to see my driver's license with photo id.  Guess what?  I COULDN'T FIND IT!!  What I had seen at home and thought was my license was actually a credit card. 

I tore through my entire purse but the license was nowhere to be found.  I could hear my heart beating now I was so upset.  I had every grocery store bonus card in America in there along with a handful of library cards from every city I've ever lived in, but NO LICENSE!  By now I was shaking.  Finally I found an expired COSTCO card with a six-year-old photo of me that was as big as a baby's fingernail.  It was enough to prove I'm me, but not enough to secure the gate pass.  For that, you need a driver's license.

The agent suggested I go back to my car and search but I felt we needed an alternate plan, since I had no earthly idea where my car even was and The Godson was already on the ground.  Finally, we compromised and she said she'd go get Dawson and bring him through security herself.  She told me to stay at the ticket counter and call him to let him know she was coming for him.  Then she vanished, just like my driver's license had.

I called Dawson several dozen times and texted as well, but his ringer was off and he never answered.  I began worrying that he'd refuse to go with her.  As time ticked by, my imagination kicked into high gear.  I decided she must have sold him into slavery or, worse, to medical research and he might wake up tomorrow in a seedy hotel room with only one kidney...

Eventually he arrived.  After offering heartfelt thank-yous to the ticket agent, I left the Delta counter with a grateful heart - and, more importantly, a Godson!

Our first adventure:  find the car.  (He later described it as "a tour of the airport.")  Yes, I knew I had parked in Blue East, Level Two, Row C.  I simply did not know where Blue East was.  When we finally fumbled our way to Blue East, Level Two, Row C, the car was gone.  Somehow as we'd walked down the row, we'd changed levels.

ENOUGH!  I had had enough!  I felt panic, so I hit the panic button on my keyring.  It worked.  When the sound stopped, my car magically reappeared and my panic evaporated.

I wonder if I can use it to help me find my driver's license?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Mysterious Eggs

Kate left for work and two minutes later my phone rang.

"You going for a walk?" she said.


"There are some huge-ass eggs by the golf course across the street from Mary's.  They don't look broken.  Go and see if you know what they are."

As I grabbed my tennies, I wondered what type of egg they could be.  Ostrich eggs are massive, but I've never seen any ostriches wandering around the perimeter of the golf course.  Still, I guess that doesn't mean they can't be there.

I also wondered when "huge-ass" became an adjective.  I know that Jill Conner Browne used "big-ass" to describe the hair of the wannabes in her wickedly funny book series The Sweet Potato Queens - but she's from Georgia. 

I've never actually had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Browne speak, therefore I don't know if 'ass' is actually part of her spoken vocabulary.  I imagine she only writes it and so I grant her poetic license. I have not issued any such license to my daughter.   

I walked closer to Mary's house.  I saw the eggs.  I continued advancing.  I knew what they were.  Mushrooms.  We used to call them puff balls when we were kids. They sprout up over night and in just a couple of days can grow to be the size of your head. 

In the spirit of Jill Conner Browne and Kate all I can say is:

That's some huge-ass fungi.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

When Short Visits Tall

When I visit my tall friends and family (and pretty much everybody is taller than I am about the time they reach fifth grade), this is what I see in the mirror:

On the upside, I don't see any wrinkles.  If you see broccoli in my teeth though, please tell me.  Otherwise, I'll never know.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Tuesday I left Michigan for S.C.  My original flight ended up being delayed so I was re-booked ... on a direct flight!  I got to spend an extra two hours, not flying to Washington D.C., but with my grandsons.  It was like a kiss from God!

Getting the proper paperwork and actually boarding was a drama, but the plane ride itself was big fun.  I, being practically a midget, am the perfect person to sit in the middle seat.  I need zero leg room and if I want to stand up, I won't even hit my head.  The six-foot guy next to me was a bit more cramped, but at least he had the aisle sea.  He can actually look into the overhead bins though, I'll give him that.  I can't even reach them.

I couldn't have chosen more interesting seatmates.  He was a retired Army officer whose job translated well into the civilian world.  She was a nurse who took time out to raise her kids.  He regaled us with tales of his world travels, best and worst.   (Winner:  Germany.  Loser:  Texarkana.) She told us about her upcoming ten-day motorcycle trip through the Dakotas.  (Now, I know it costs eleven bucks to ship something as light as a feather from South Carolina to California, so I can only imagine what the price tag is to ship your motorcycle from Florida to North Dakota.  $$$$ ...) 

Toward the end of the flight, the stewardess came on the intercom and said she had a surprise for us.  How exciting!  I just knew she was going to burst out into song and the Army man beside me was hoping for a lingerie show. We both were let-down when we realized that we were merely a captive audience, trapped in an infomercial for a branded credit card.  If we sign up today, right now. we could earn -- after only one purchase of a pack of gum -- a free round-trip ticket. I was sorely tempted.  Thank God I don't chew gum.

It's great to be home.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Me: "I'm going to start a psychic weight-loss program!"

Kate: "Does it go hand-in-hand with diet and exercise?"