November 1, 2009

Waiting for Good, Oh! (or how to make me a happy diner)

A recent business blog on the New York Times Online has prompted this latest blog entry.
Recently, two friends and I went to a supposed upscale Nuevo Latino restaurant and the experience was abominable.  The waiter kept using phrases that should never be used and ended the meal on a sour note.  Here then is my list of waitstaff no-no's.

1.  When I walk in as a single diner please do not say "just one?", go ahead and ask how many are in my party.  And do not seat me at the crappiest table near the kitchen or clean-up corner or bathroom.

2.  As a single diner I should be treated just the same as a table of four.  I will be much less trouble to you than that four-top and I will tip better on average.

3.  When I say "thank you" the correct response is "you're welcome", not "no problem".  If it is a problem then you need to get into another line of work.

4.  Please do not hand me my plate.  Your job is to place the plate in front of me.  If I wanted to help myself I'd be dining at a buffet.

5.  I know that time means money for you but don't rush me.  If I haven't finished my salad, please do not bring my entree.  Most tables aren't big enough to hold salad plates, bread plates and the plate for the entree.

6.  Do not call me honey or sugar or sweetie or dearie.  Ma'am is okay (although it makes me feel older than I am) but don't over-use the word.

7.  Please don't refer to a table of women as ladies more than once.  You could say "would anyone like anything else?" or "how is everything this evening?" without interjecting the word "ladies".

8.  Just because you are waiting on a table of women does not mean you can ignore us.  Most of my female friends are fairly large tippers and treating us as second class citizens doesn't get you anywhere.  If you are too busy to give my table the attention it deserves then management needs to hire more waiters.

9.  Please make sure my beverage is replenished unless I say no.  I don't care if it is water or coffee or wine, I want something to drink with my meal and I shouldn't have to wait until it is empty to get more.

10.  Never ask if I need change when paying my bill.  Never assume that whatever money is left over from paying my bill is for your tip.  I will leave an appropriate tip for the service you have given me.  If you're good my tip will be good, if you're lousy you'll get what you get.

I hope this sparks some comments from my readers.  Happy Dining!

October 23, 2009

Books Without Borders

I love books.  I love the feel, the smell and the heft of books.  I love reading books so much that I now want a Kindle from or a Nook from Barnes and Noble.  I know, that seems contrary to my love of books but my love of reading takes precedence over my tactile enjoyment of a book.
I also love technology and when I first saw the Kindle a few years ago I craved to own one.  Unfortunately, the price tag was a bit steep and I could not justify the purchase.  Now the price has come down by $50 and it is in its second generation.  Just this week Barnes and Noble announced the arrival of the Nook so now I am in a quandry as to which eBook reader I should covet.
For those of you who don't know what a Kindle or a Nook is, they are electronic reading devices that allow you to download books from their websites for usually no more than ten bucks a book.  Both of these devices use wireless technology so you can download a book from anywhere, unlike the Sony Digital Reader which requires you to be connected to a computer to download.  The Sony Digital Reader is sold at Borders Books but you can't download any books from
Now we get to the crux of my post, why is Borders Books so behind the times?  I was so excited when Borders opened in my neck of the woods a few years ago.  I had sent them an email years ago, when this area was growing into a shopping mecca, to suggest that they consider opening a store here since Barnes and Noble was already around and I thought the competition would be nice.  Well, they ignored my suggestion and allowed Barnes and Noble to have two stores in Northwest Arkansas and waited until they were well established before Borders saw the light. 
Barnes and Noble has gotten the formula down pat with their Starbucks Coffee Shop area and free wi-fi.  My Borders decided to put the coffee shop AND bathrooms upstairs so that both are inconvenient.  They also decided to forgo the sitting areas that are so nice at B/N so I can't spontanously pick up a book or magazine to peruse. 
Today I got an email from Borders with an announcement that they are going to have free wi-fi.  Big deal.  Lugging my laptop upstairs to their coffee area would be a pain in the butt and there won't be any electrical outlets since it is an afterthought.  Too little too late.
Oh, my other gripe is that Borders got rid of their music.  Yes folks you read that right, Borders no longer offers anything other that the most recent CD's from a small selection of musical artists.  For the past two years I have gotten all of my music from Borders, and I buy lots of music,  but those days are over. 
I'm sure you, dear reader, are now thinking "why not just be happy with Barnes and Noble and shop there?".  The reason why I am so attached to Borders is because I really like the staff and the manager is a client.  I really want them to succeed.  Ah, if only they had listened to me in the first place. 
This brings me back to the first part of my post.  Amazon has the Kindle, Barnes and Noble has the Nook.  Both are eBook readers that use proprietary formats and require you to download from their websites.  Borders Books sells the Sony Digital Reader but you can only download books from Sony's eBook site which doesn't make any sense to me.  Why sell a reader that only generates profit one time?  Borders needs to get with the program and develop a digital reader that will be even better than the Kindle or the Nook.  Come on Borders, take that next step into the 21st century.

I now own a Kindle (love it!) and our Border's Books has gone out of business.

September 26, 2009

Fat Chics Need Clothes Too

Plus sized clothing sucks.  Not just because it's plus sized, but because all plus sized clothing manufactures and designers think women who need that size are amazons.  I see lots of women who are under 5'4" who shop in the BBW area of clothing stores but all of the pants, blouses, pajamas and dresses are made for large and tall women.  Don't they realize that there are some big squatty bodies out there?   If skinny chics can have a petite category then fat chics should have one too.  How about a plumply petite size? 

The other problem with plus sized clothing is that it is usually trendy or geared for young women.  I don't mind having a few trendy items in my wardrobe but if I want something timely and classic my only choice is a pair of jeans or pants or a dressy suit.  Newsflash to plus sized designers, I don't want to wear huge bright flowers on my blouses nor do I want street scenes from Paris or any other crappy graphics, save that for the fat juniors.

My other clothing pet peeve is cap-style sleeves.  Most large women also have large arms and,  while I'll say "more power to ya!" if you are one of those women who doesn't mind showing off your flabby upper arms, I think large women should be wearing either three-quarter-inch or long sleeves (at least in public).  There is nothing less appealing on a big girl than that flab just above the elbow.  And to let you know I'm not a sexist, I think it looks bad on men too.  And please make clothing out of material that doesn't cling to my body.  Fat rolls are not a pretty sight and while I know we shouldn't be ashamed of our bodies we also don't need to flaunt the fat.  I like that phrase "flaunt the fat", I should make some t-shirts.

Now, don't get all bent out of shape for my use of the word fat.  I'm fat, and if you wear the same size or larger clothing than I do then you're fat too.  We need to stop shying away from words, but that is another topic.

I recall my mother and her girdles.  There is a new product out for fat chics that mimic our mothers girdles but is supposed to be more comfortable.  I'm sorry, anything that binds your boobs and stomach can't be comfortable and probably isn't good for your health.  Remember when Scarlett has Mammy tie her girdle so tight that she can't eat?  Not happening in my lifetime.  The new term for girdles is "body-shapers" and one product is called "Spanx".  The weird thing is that skinny girls are flocking to Spanx like a sub to a dominatrix.  Heaven forbid if one ounce of fat can be pinched under that little black dress.  Apparently, getting the thing off so you can use the toilet is quite a trick.  Suffer skinny bitches.

I like comfort but I draw the line at muumuus.  My mother wore muumuus or something like that for awhile.  I refuse to wear a dress that makes me look like a tent.  She also wore stretch pants that looked like stretch pants (the kind with the permanent pleat) and blouses made of some kind of awful material.  Ah, those were the days.

Okay clothing stores and clothing designers, get busy and let us fat women wear your clothes proudly.  And don't forget the little people.

September 12, 2009

Bitter About Litter-boxes

I hate litter-boxes.  For years my cats did their business outside, with the exception of really nasty snowy days when my orange cat would demand some kind of potty box inside.  Oh, then there was the tabby cat who took to pissing behind my kitchen counter, which is an old beautiful woodworking bench, because she was old and getting senile.  I have a cat door for chrisake!  There is absolutely no reason for my cats to demand a litter-box, but they do.

I believe that demand stems from the mountain lion that may have killed my two male cats.  The remaining cats must have been traumatized by the murders and now refuse to spend more than a few minutes out in the yard.  They never wander far from the house and that includes Afina, the cat who spent years down at the neighbors house and only came home to eat.  It's not like they would have a hard time finding the cat door, it has a blue carpeted ramp with a huge flamenco pink arrow pointing to it.  I believe they do this just to aggravate me.

I will say it again, I hate litter-boxes.  I know that cats are particular about their boxes so I have tried a few kinds.  First came the huge open box with the clumping litter.  That only produced tons of litter being scattered during scratching and litter being tracked all over the house.  I then tried the same box with feline pine but got the same results.  Then I bought a covered box with a cat door that swings (just like the door they used for years to get in and out of the house) but the cats wouldn't go through the door.  Thankfully, the domed lid to the box can be raised so that the front is completely open and the rest of the box is surrounded.  This works to some extent and when the cats scratch they no longer hurl litter all over the place.  This particular box has what I call a trough whose function is to act as a litter-tracking guard.  Well Assisi, the tortie cat, uses the trough as a urinal.  She will scratch in the box, position her bottom over the trough and pee.  This same cat will defecate inside the box but refuses to pee in the thing.  I have placed a plastic place mat in front of the box for those times when she decides she doesn't even want the trough and would rather piss on the floor.  I can't tell you how many times that place mat as saved her life!  For awhile Assisi urinated on the place mat every time so I switched to clay litter thinking that she didn't like the clumping kind.  For about a week she was a really good girl and actually pooped and peed inside the box, then I came home one day to urine in the trough.  I am now going to switch back to the clumping litter to make my life easier which will allow Afina and Assisi to live another day.

September 11, 2009

Funky Town

I have been dragging around for the past month and can't seem to come out of my funk.
It has gotten so bad that I won't allow anyone to come over because my house is so awfully nasty.  Gawd, I sometimes hate this place.  The unsealed cement floor downstairs is hard to keep clean, especially for someone like me who is not the best house keeper in the world.
When I get into this funk I don't have the energy or sedulousness (new word for me) to even bother with vacuuming, let alone mopping, so the grime is out of hand.  Of course, as I let the funk take over it puts me in a deeper funk and the cycle spirals downwards. 

You dear reader are thinking, "Hello!  Depression!".

Now, I don't think I'm depressed but I'll bet a psychologist would think otherwise. 
I remember when my marriage was falling apart and my ex decided to get counseling for himself (not marriage counseling, no he had no desire to "save" the marriage he just wanted to know why he was staying in the relationship) his psychologist told him that I was depressed even though she had never met me.  Fucking bitch.

Here's the deal.  I have wacky thyroid.  About five years ago I began having insomnia.  Then my hands started shaking so bad that I could not write well.  I felt so weak that my legs would even shake.  When I was in bed I would dream that I was running and wake to find my heart pounding so hard I could hear it.  Well, it turned out that I was hyperthyroid (runs in the family) which can cause horrible mood swings.  Let me tell you, I was the bitch from hell most of the time.  

I know, hard to imagine.  
Wacky thyroid can also cause/contribute to high blood pressure.  I'm surprised I didn't have a heart attack as my pressure was so high.  
After taking the three hundred dollar radioactive iodine capsule my thyroid was effectively killed and now I am on thyroid medication for life.  I'm also on blood pressure meds but that's probably because I'm so fat.  Not only do I have wacky thyroid, I'm also over fifty and both factors make it especially hard to keep the weight down.  Of course, I don't try very hard so I can't really blame my weight on that.

Why did I tell you this?  Because I went to the doctor for my yearly medication refill exam and lab work and it turns out that my thyroid medication was not right and my thyroid levels were low.  No wonder I've been in such a funk!

In two weeks, according to my doctor, I should be as good as new when my thyroid levels are back where they should be.  That will be just in the nick of time for that is when Matthew is coming over to install my new kitchen sink cabinet and I will need to get to work cleaning under the existing cabinet and getting all of the junk out of his way.

Get me out of Funky Town!

August 9, 2009

Love is a Many Splintered Thing

I have some friends whose marriage has come to an end.  Divorce is never fun or easy but it is often for the better.  This marriage has been in trouble for years and it is a wonder to me that it took so long for one of them to realize that it is better to be divorced than to be in a relationship with someone you no longer love or like.  There are so many events that can end a relationship and I know that both partners are usually at fault.  The following is my experience.

Kelly and I were married for 11 years, separated for 1 year and divorced after 12 years.  The end of our marriage was the beginning of both of our lives.  We had grown to dislike each other and were cruel and disrespectful.  What happened?  I can only speak for myself and from my point of view.  Here is my version of the story.

Kelly and I had lived together on and off for about five years before we decided to make our union legal.  I had sworn to myself that I would never get married but I fell into the trap of social norms and the dream of a life-long commitment to one person.  We got married in 1986 and were fairly happy for the first six years.  We had fun together, had sex fairly often and liked each others company.  We did most everything together and took interest in the same activities.  Gradually I grew to dislike doing most of those activities.  Kelly's life is music and we played music together, which I liked for quite a few years. I am a flute player and he plays all things with strings.  We played at a local restaurant with me on flute, recorder, pump organ and various percussion instruments and Kelly on guitar and banjo and both of us doing vocals.  I never was any good on the pump organ and I grew to resent the fact that he didn't understand that I am a flute player and that I didn't like playing keyboards or recorder or percussion.  Kelly is an avid bird watcher and stargazer and we did both activities often.  I grew to dislike birdwatching so quit doing that activity with him.  Once me moved into our house we no longer had the opportunities for stargazing.  You notice that all of the activities we enjoyed were his passions, not mine.  Yes, I was one of those women who basically lived her husbands life.  Ick. 

I truly believe that Kelly was more interested in pleasing other people than in pleasing me.  If his parents said they wanted him to do something, it was done pronto.  If a friend needed him to help them do something, he was right there.  If I asked him to do something I had to wait in line and I was always at the end of a very long line.

Kelly had never been monogamous before we married but I suddenly expected him to be.  If fact, before we married I asked him if he could be monogamous and he said he thought that he could.  Well, I never trusted him around other women and I'm sure he sensed that.  Therefore, when he finally drifted to another woman I was self-justified in my suspicions.  Gads, what an awful way to treat someone.

I stopped enjoying sex, especially with him.  When our relationship first began I was the main initiator of sex.  When I stopped being the initiator our sex life slowed down and as it slowed I enjoyed it less.  Plus, our sex life had become so very boring and predictable.  Current wisdom says that the more sex you have, the more you want to have sex.  I am a firm believer in this, and a shining example.

By the end of our marriage, the end being the last 4 years, I resented Kelly and felt as though I was just a caretaker.  I paid his bills, washed his clothes and cleaned his house (though not that well) while he pursued his passions.  I remember crying most every day the last year we were actually together and sometimes wishing him dead.  I wanted out of the relationship just as badly as he did but I couldn't think of a way to end it.  I think many women do exactly the same thing I did, they drive their spouses into the arms of someone else and then go crazy when it happens.  And I think many men can't fathom living alone so they continue to live with a person they dislike until someone better comes along. 

I drove Kelly into the arms of another woman and then went crazy weirdo on him, but that woman is absolutely perfect for him.  I, on the other hand, love being single and have no interest in living with someone ever again.  I have absolutely no regrets about our marriage or our divorce as both taught me so very much.  I will leave out the crazy weirdo things I did when Kelly finally said the words "I want a divorce" and leave this post with a list of lessons learned.

Lesson number 1:
A successful relationship requires that both partners take an interest in each others activities and passions.

Lesson number 2:
Have respect for your significant other and put his/her needs second only to your own.

Lesson number 3:
Mistrust is a relationship killer.

Lesson number 4:
Keep your sex life active and interesting.

Lesson number 5:
Life is too short to stay in a relationship that makes you unhappy.

Lesson number 6:
Divorce is not the end of the world and can change your life for the better.

Now for my favorite quote about love...

"Love isn't something you feel; it's something you do.  If the person you're with doesn't want it, do yourself a favor and save it for someone who does."

August 7, 2009

Mastering the Art of Not Cooking

My name is Sarah and I am a food addict.

I just saw "Julie and Julia" and was enthralled and captivated throughout the film.  I then just had to get a wedge of brie and a sourdough baguette.  Unfortunately, when I got to the store there was no brie...just a "triple cream" cheese (oh, too bad) and I had to get the baguette at Atlanta Bread Company.  Oh the trials and tribulations of a foodie living in Northwest Arkansas.

I only wish there were a vegetarian version of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".  I guess   Deborah Madison's "Greens" cookbook might be a close equivilent but there is no way in hell I am going to take that much time to cook, unless I'm having dinner guests.  Her recipes are enticing and sound delicious but parchament paper is just too much. 

And that is the point of the film and food writers in general.  Too many people are not willing to spend the time it takes to make the creations Mrs. Child wrote about all those years ago even though each recipe may be a masterpiece.  There are so many shortcuts a cook can take these days but it seems that too many cooks think that spending more than fifteen minutes preparing a meal is too time consuming.

I am so lucky to know people who believe in cooking and using fresh ingredients in the preparation of their meals.  I, on the other hand, am the laziest of the lazies and will, more often than not, reach for an Amy's Kitchen frozen entree or get something to go from a favorite restaurant.  Salad greens in a bag?  You bet!  Grated cheese in a ziplock?  Hand it over!  Dressing in a bottle?  Pour it on!  I'm even at the point that a decent a bottle of wine  with a cork instead of a screw top is getting a bit bothersome.

That is why I love having people over for dinner.  I get to churn my creative juices and lose myself in the preparation of a meal that I hope others will enjoy.  I love shopping for and planning a menu, just like Julia Child.  I only wish that someday there will be another like her...someone who loves to create recipes for the sake of eating, not for monetary gain.
Hmmm, Mollie Katzen comes to mind...

Ms. Lazy has finished her Henri Hutin Triple Cream Belletoile cheese with sourdough baguette and martini and was planning on a salad but is too full for anything else, other than a brownie.  Not quite the meal I had envisioned after the movie.  Maybe I should have gone out to eat.

Growing a snout now.

July 21, 2009

Total Rambling on a Tuesday Morning

This morning I am listening to the rain, eating my yogurt/blueberry/granola mush with the dog and cats on the couch next to me.  What could be better? 

Ever since the spider bite, a brown recluse about two weeks ago, I have been a total slug.  Not that I need much of an excuse to be a slug but the pain from the bite has made it nearly impossible to do any housework besides laundry, dishes and minimal cooking.  Now that I am on the road to recovery I will have to get my ass in gear and clean up this mess.

I had no idea that brown recluse bites were so common.  Every time I tell someone what happened to my arm they relate either their own personal story or one about a friend or family member.  The range of damage from the bites goes from minimal to large holes in the affected area.  Fortunately, I think I will be in the first category as the bruising is shrinking daily and there still is no skin funk.

I am still sleepy even after 3 cups of coffee.  I got more sleep last night than I have since the spider bite and was actually able to sleep on my side for awhile.  I have been sleeping on my couch on my back with my affected arm on a pillow and until this week had to wrap the arm in an icy cold towel just to keep it from throbbing.  I would have to get up every so often to change the towel so I have been sleep deprived for quite some time.  I guess it's all catching up to me now.

Nothing more to report from my neck of the Northwest Arkansas woods.

July 19, 2009

Hind Sight Looking Forward

While I was driving to town yesterday I began thinking about young women now and all of the fun choices they have.  This made me start feeling a bit nostalgic about my youth and the many paths my life has taken.  I started making a list in my head of all of the things I would have done differently in my youth (or would do now if I were younger) and decided to write them down.

If I knew then what I know now I would have...

  • Learned to play the piano
  • Said yes to "will you play in our band?"
  • Started an all girl band
  • Never been a follower
  • Stayed independent
  • Never gotten married
  • Never worn a bra
  • Stayed a size 10 so I could always wear vintage clothes
  • Learned to like sewing
  • Worked in a restaurant
  • Learned how to rollerskate
  • Been a rollerblade girl
  • Not wasted time going to college
  • Taken a writing class
  • Kept a journal
Now that I've made that list I need to take action.  Some are out of reach but others are possible.  The question is, do I have the guts?

July 17, 2009

Vacuity Is My Middle Name

I admit that I found "vacuity" when I was looking up "nothingness" in the Thesaurus.  I wanted a word that started with an "F" but there seems to be none that conveys my meaning.

  1. Total absence of matter; emptiness.
  2. An empty space; a vacuum.
  3. Total lack of ideas; emptiness of mind.
  4. Absence of meaningful occupation; idleness: "the crew, being patient people, much given to slumber and vacuity" (Washington Irving).
  5. The quality or fact of being devoid of something specified: a vacuity of taste; a vacuity of emotions.
That is how my brain is right now.  Work was so utterly boring today that I thought I was going to lose my mind.  We are usually very busy this time of year and especially on Fridays.  This is not good and does not bode well for my idea of hiring another person.  I need a vacation so very badly but feel nothing but guilt at the thought of taking any significant time off and making Ceci, my co-worker, work open to close for a week or more.  She doesn't care about having to work so many extra hours but that is not the point.  It is mind-boggling to me that my bosses think it is okay for someone to work 10 to 12 hour days for 5 days in a row at any given moment short of a crisis.  I have done it for years and I will not do it ever again.  I don't care if every employee suddenly dies, I will NOT work those hours.  Yup, I've had enough and now that I'm 50 I won't take it anymore.

Okay, food talk.

I love "Brown Cow" label non-fat vanilla is like vanilla cream but guilt free.  I had blueberries, yogurt and granola for breakfast.  Yum!
Dinner was "Amy's" Broccoli Pot Pie with kalamata olives and Stone Mill Bakery french bread.
I will be following that up with Almond Peach Pie from Java-Jacks bakery while watching "Mad Men" season 2/disc 1.

Now, drug talk.

I am on Prednisone and it is supposed to make you hungry, cranky and (some other side-effect I've forgotten).  It has done none of these things.  I think the hunger feeling is just stomach upset that people mistake for hunger.  How would I know if I'm cranky since I'm always a bitch?  Since I can't recall the other thing, then it is meaningless.  So, the next time you need to be on steroids for a short period of time, don't's better than scratching until you bleed!


July 16, 2009

Lunch and a Movie

I had the most wonder lunch at Hammontree's Grilled Cheese  today with my friends Matt and Sheila Ross.  This place has the best sandwich I have ever had, hands down.  I had the Brie's Company which is grilled apple, Brie, Gouda, caramelized onions, and a fig compote on sourdough bread.  Oh my gawd!
Sheila had the Caprese Melt which is fresh Mozzarella, pesto, tomato bruschetta, fresh basil leaf with their house cheese blend on sourdough bread.  Yummy!!
Matt had the El Chupacabre which is Pulled Pork, Queso Fresca, Manchego, poblano peppers, and a green mole sauce served on sourdough bread.  This guy is a major food snob but said it was good and will make a return trip (let me tell you, that's saying something).
Okay, enough about the food already.

After that we went to see "Bruno".  I laughed so hard that my stomach hurt.  If you like "in your face irreverence" and "made to shock even the most die-hard" you will love this movie.  The scene at the fight club in Fort Smith, Arkansas made the whole thing worth while.  I can't wait until it comes to DVD to see it again so I can find out what I missed while laughing until I cried.

I'll keep this short and sweet since it's my first post since February, 2008.  A lot has happened since then but my life is still as boring as always so I hope you enjoyed this little slice of my uneventful life.  I'll tell you about the spider bite later.