Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Look What I Got Today!

I certainly have plenty of time to grocery shop now,
and a huge selection of times at
 which to do so.
Know when I choose to go?
Almost never.
My cupboards are bare, much to the dismay of
my children and friends.
My "joke" is that only a lack of three things will
get me to the supermarket:
dogfood, heavy cream for my coffee, or t. paper!


 Monday night in a roundabout way I discovered
 Amazon PrimePantry.
Once I got rollin' it was midnight before I 
stopped shopping.
Notice I didn't say "finished" shopping.
I was just too tired to continue.


For reasons I'm not completely clear on, my
shipping was free.  Usually it is $5.99 per box.
(I think ordering 5 of certain items qualified me
for free shipping but I did not take time to
try to figure out which ones.)
My box arrived by 1:00 P.M. today.
It was HUGE, but only sparsly filled by my stuff
(and LOTS of filler!)




Several of the items I ordered have back stories.
That Jello is sometimes hard to find for
my famous Cherry-Coke salad!
Sams had no Woolite last time I was there.
The Keurig coffee is Starbucks Verandah
blonde roast, very $$ when I can find it.


As far as prices go, I think they will be the
same or less.
But...I rarely grocery shop, so I'm not sure.
I know the toothpaste I ordered was cheaper
than CVS (and sometimes they're out.)



Now please don't give me a hard time about the
fact that there's not much to eat here.
(That means you, J, T, S, R, M, S.)
This was just an experiment.
I have already ordered again!


One of the disadvantages I see is that it takes
quite a bit of time to go through all of the
options.  I think there were 85 pages of food items.
I got to Page 40 something the first night,
then I couldn't get back to that point the second.
Of course, you tech wizards probably would
not have that problem.
And I know I will get faster.


I'll tell you it was pretty great to drag that
box in this morning, still in my pj's.
I just hope this will be of help to some of you!

******************

P.S.  I was already an Amazon Prime member.
I think that is $95/year for LOTS of benefits.
(Many of which I don't know how to take 
advantage of!!!)











Monday, July 25, 2016

Hints From One Who Loves to Travel

"I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted
by routine."

and...

Every single trip I learn something
about perfecting the art of travel.
In this day and age, however, travel will
 never be perfect.

"Travel is glamorous only in retrospect."


Which brings me to my first suggestion.
You cannot arrive at the airport too early.
Until you've been caught in a ridiculously long
security line, scared you are going to
miss your flight, you may not realize this.


Often, a nearby gate will have a shorter
security line.
I have a new ap which helps in determining that.
It is:  iFly TSA.
The gates are rated green, yellow, or red.
Madeline and I used this on our recent trip.
We had to walk quite a distance, but the
 line was much shorter than at the close gate.


The BIG thing I learned about on our just
concluded trip is Uber.
Madeline has used Uber a lot in Austin.
Me--never.  Until DC.
It was excellent.  We used it many times 
and never had a bad experience.
The cars are much newer and nicer than cabs.
It cost us almost $30 to travel to the 
National Cathedral in a taxi,
and only $10 to Uber back!  
For those of you who don't know (like I didn't)
you put the ap on your phone, put in all
your information, so that no money changes
hands in the car.  No tip!  No getting out your card!
And I got a detailed receipt for each ride
on my email.  I cannot recommend this enough.
At least in DC it was great.
One exception was the ride to and from 
the airport.  We did taxi for that.
It is just so routine for them, and they are
more accustomed to the luggage.


Just thought of something...
I loved the fact that the taxis in DC had
flashing signs which said,
"Taxi for Hire"
unlike New York where I can NEVER 
remember if the light on or the light off
means it is available!


Trust me, you do not really want my packing hints.
Over the top, perfectionist, obsessive hints.
But I will say--my clothes not only get there
in perfect shape, they arrive back home the same!
It involves lots of time
 and plastic dry cleaning bags.
You might like this one:
If you might bring home breakable souvenirs,
be sure to include some bubble wrap for them.
Oh, and you should like this one:
Use those free shower caps you get to cover
the bottoms of your shoes in your suitcase!


Speaking of free things...
Always gather the little toiletry items from
your room and bring them home.
They are great to give to the 
Arlington Pregnancy Center to be
included in baskets for their clients!


An unusual habit I've developed over the years
is to make a different kind of list
 after I get home from a trip.
It started when I found this:

Although in retrospect it's fun to remember
scouting Barcelona desperately trying to describe
these when you don't speak the language,

 or 

feeling like your cruise is totally and forever RUINED
because you forgot this indispensable item,

you don't necessarily desire to repeat the mistake.
So my last step in getting ready for a trip is
making sure I'm not leaving at home one of the
 items I've left in the past.
(By the way--as to the comb--I went to the
salon onboard the ship.  A new stylist had
just boarded, and she had an extra she sold me!
Whew.  The trip was saved.)


Here's an idea just for you girls.
We have to carry a pretty big purse for all the
travel essentials.  Right?
But once at our destination, I hate to tote that
big thing on day jaunts.
This, therefore, is what has happened to me:
 
I have had to buy smaller bags here, there, and
everywhere!
Now, I ALWAYS pack one or more small purses
to lighten my load upon arrival!


This tip is a repeat--a unique repeat.
I always carry one of these on cruises:
The reason?
If I have a room with a view, I like to go up
to the buffet, get food and drink,
and return "home" to dine at lunch.
Ships do not furnish trays, so I bring my own!
Yes, people look at me strangely on the
elevator, but they are just jealous!
Pack carefully--AA managed to break my tray
 when I flew to London!


One of the first things I do when I unpack
on a cruise ship is stand my cosmetic brushes
in a drinking glass.
A room steward taught me this.
See them just to the right of the tissue box?
This was in my little 99 sq. ft. room.
Organization necessary!
Oh!  And look on the shelf right above!
There are my Q tips in the Barcelona box
I told you about above!
It's probably 15 or more years old now
and deteriorating!


Okay, that's all the "major" tips I have for now!
So...it's your turn.
Tell me what floats your boat
when it comes to travel!
















Sunday, July 24, 2016

Maddie and Mimi Celebrate In DC

The graduate chose Washington, DC, for her
celebratory trip.
She hadn't been there since 6th grade.
The Mimi was thrilled. 
She hadn't been there since before the graduate
was born! 


I'm getting spoiled to first class as my miles dwindle!
But here we are livin' it up!





We stayed at a hotel which was beautiful and fab
and historic:  The Willard.
My little grad loves history and "character," and
this place had plenty of both!


Aren't these lobby flowers spectacular?
(As was the lobby itself!)


We loved our room!



Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his
"I have a dream" speech at the Willard.
The term "lobbyist" was coined here.
President Ulysses Grant would come to the lobby to 
escape and smoke a cigar in peace (no security then!) 
and people would follow him there to 
try to get his attention.
He began calling them "those damn lobbyists!"


This area of the hotel was named "Peacock Alley"
 because the ladies' hats, adorned with feathers,
would brush together as they mingled!




Our hotel was only a short distance from
the White House.
Right in the center is one of the guard houses
 from our window.

Sadly, this is as close as we could get now.




We took a night tour of the monuments...

The Washington

The Jefferson


The Lincoln





Afterward, room service $$$--I mean !!!
We split a sandwich but both got desserts!



Speaking of desserts, we bussed to Georgetown,
and found the famous Georgetown Cupcakes!
(And we might have gotten 2 each.)


We then walked to Georgetown University.
Maddie toured.  Mimi wimped out.  But this was
the prettiest part, she said.


That night we ate here by my request.
While Susan was a flight attendant, and before Maddie 
was born, our whole extended family flew to
Washington (where she was based) on 
Thanksgiving Day and had lunch here.
I have the t-shirt to prove it!
It ended up being only a couple of blocks from our hotel.






                            



Walking "home"

A full moon over Washington.
The Capitol lower left.


And we toured the Capitol.




We toured the Washington National Cathedral...
after a wonderful breakfast at their coffee shop,
called "Open City."



The grad wished to visit the Newseum, 
which "promotes, explains and defends free
expression and the five freedoms of the
First Amendment."


The gran only got two pictures--not good--
But memorable ones...

 Front pages from dozens of national newspapers are
displayed all across the front of the building.
At least we'll remember when we were there!


Cruisin' Mimi just couldn't resist a dinner cruise.  
(I forgot to take an exterior photo.)
The boat is called Odyssey.
We cruised for 3 hours on the Potomac.
Maddie was such a good sport--
probably the only 22 year old on the cruise!

Live Music!



Along with all the birthdays and anniversaries,
Maddie was recognized and brought out to
the dance floor to be honored for her graduation!!!
This is how she felt about that...
But she got lots of congratulations and some
Hook 'Em Horns on the way off the boat!



Our last adventure was a spectacular one.



We went to the Kennedy Center to see 
Phantom of the Opera!





And afterward...a late dinner at The Hamilton.

(Texting her fellow Hamilton-obsessed friends about the 
Aaron Burr-ger on the menu!)


I could go on and on about this marvelous girl.
But then I've already gone on and on about our trip!
What a privilege to get to take her on a
 celebration of her great accomplishment.
"Thank you, Gaga.  Wish you'd been here to  
share the trip with us."
But mostly, "Thank you, God.  
For blessing us beyond what we could ever deserve."



Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I Got the Best Birthday Present!

It was just a story, but it was about this guy...

Here's what happened.
My insurance company sent me a check for hail 
damage to my gutters and a flat portion of
roof on the back of the house.
That means there's only one thing to do.
Call Curtis.
Curtis Cohen was Jack's #1 roofer;
therefore, he is my #1 roofer, in spite of the
fact that he is trying to be retired!


Curtis was expressing his appreciation for Jack
and their many business dealings.
I asked him how he met Jack and how he 
started doing his roofing.
I'm so glad I asked.  Here's the story.


Curtis just stopped by a Stovall project one day
(this would have been many years ago)
and inquired about bidding the roofing portion.
He was directed to the office and went there.
Jack said, "Well, I have three McDonald's roofs 
that are leaking.  Can you check them out?"
Curtis did and reported back with solutions
(within just hours.)
Jack said, "Fix 'em."
(And you have to understand, when Jack said to
fix them, he meant right then.)
Curtis was able to do that, insuring him great favor!!!
He began bidding and installing many, if not all, of
Stovall Construction's roofs.


I can't remember how much later,
("Please, Lord, I hope it was quite a bit")
Curtis got a call from Jack.
Again it was about three McDonald's roofs, but
this time Jack informed Curtis that he was
getting ready to fire him!
Why?  Because these three roofs were leaking
and hadn't been fixed.
Curtis (quite taken aback, I am sure)
told Jack that it was NOT the roofs but the
air conditioning units that were causing the leaks.
Jack said, "Okay, meet me out there."
Curtis agreed and asked, "When?"
Jack: "In an hour!"



Subsequent to taking a water hose and demonstrating
 the actual problems
to Jack, a meeting was set up with the AC unit
representative. Guess how much notice Curtis had of
that meeting?
You got it--one hour!


Needless to say, Curtis was not fired.
Jack thought the world of Curtis Cohen.
And vice versa I found out today.
(Although I knew that all along.)
I often say that "I have people."
Curtis is my roofer person.
He drove a long way to come look at
my problem today with no compensation
other than my gratitude.
But...it made my birthday to get to hear
 Curtis tell me this story.
After all I was often hearing (and cringing at)
the other end of those conversations.
If Jack didn't mention firing you at some point,
you might want to feel neglected.














Thursday, June 30, 2016

Dining with the Stovall/Metzger Clan

We are just your typical family--sort of.
We love to dine...out or in!
Each of us, however, has a little something that
makes us special...
one might call them idiosyncrasies.


When we arrange ourselves at the table,
 there is just one stipulation.
The lefty in our group--Jay--
must have plenty of clearance for his elbow.


Since we're discussing Jay, I shall start
with him.
Jay likes for his food to be hot.
If we're dining in,
he may disappear from the table for a moment, 
go to the kitchen, and microwave his plate. 
I have no idea where he got that!
(Actually I do--from me.)


Terri is our ketchup or salsa girl.
She puts it on almost everything.
My face was probably a sight to see the first
time I watched her put salsa on my fresh, slow cooked,  
perfectly seasoned, New Year's blackeyed peas!
They are only the best in the world, and
that girl added salsa!
(She even had to bring her own.)


Rob is the master preparer/fixer of his plate.
Everyone else may be halfway through eating,
and he is still salting, fresh ground peppering,
condimenting, cutting, and arranging his food.
Seriously--it takes forever!


And then there's Susan.  Oh my!
That girl hardly takes one bite from her own plate
before she starts scouting everyone else's
food and wanting "a bite."
One year Jay and Terri gave her a fork with
a l-o-n-g extending handle for Christmas to make
her reach to the other plates easier!


And what about me?
I might as well tell you, because the family would.
I will always, always be the last one finished.
I savor my food.
However many times one is supposed to chew
a bite, I probably chew more!
No matter how long it takes Rob to get
started, he will be finished before I am.
No matter if Jay does reheat his food--twice--
he will be finished before I am.


Maddie and Susie are still in the very early
stages of idiosyncrasy development.
(They are, after all, just about perfect you know.)
Except that they are very willing participants
in the "bite sharing" program initiated
by their mother!
They will often order different things, 
with the agreement that bites will be shared
generously.
It can be quite spectacular!


One hint:
If we are dining out, one would be wise to
wait and see what Jay orders.
If one doesn't, one will likely wish he or she
had ordered what he gets!


Bon Appetit!








Thursday, June 23, 2016

Our Grad

Everyone should know
Madeline Jane Metzger!


Madeline Metzger's photo.
This morning I realized that a relatively new
Facebook friend of mine didn't know
that Madeline had recently graduated from
The University of Texas at Austin,
thus presenting a wonderful opportunity
for me to make sure you are all filled in!


 
By clicking HERE you'll be able to read what
I wrote in 2014 about Maddie and her
first years at UT.



She graduated in June with a degree in 
Communications Studies with a minor in 
Theatre and Dance.
She is a gifted actress and singer.
Her not so humble grandmother says,
"Give my regards to Broadway, Baby!"
After performing in Thoroughly Modern Millie
at Tulane University in New Orleans,
this girl is actually going to pursue her dreams
in New York City!


And now you'll be able to say,
"Oh, yeah!  I knew Madeline when..." 







Monday, May 30, 2016

A Classic "Awfulizing" Event

The term "awfulizing" was introduced to me by
my cousin Sarah.
I feel that you will find it most useful if you are
 anything like me (and Sarah.)


"Awfulizing" probably needs no explanation, but
I shall go ahead and explain anyway.
It involves mentally making the worst out of any
situation in which one finds one's self.
I found myself with a grand opportunity to
awfulize last Saturday night.


As usual, I was headed to bed a leetle late.
I walked into my closet and...uh oh!
The carpet was wet right down the middle.
I mean really wet.
I consider myself quite good (I rarely am) at
figuring out what the problem is.
But this one had me totally stumped.
It was too late to call anyone, so the
only thing left to do was go to bed and...
you guessed it...awfulize.


Here I go...
The first and worst scenario was a slab leak.
That happened in the kitchen a few years ago,
and it was truly AWFUL.
Yes, jackhammering up the floor in the closet
where my best clothes are.
All that awful concrete dust.
Would I just cover the clothes, or would I have to
take them all out?
Where would I put them?
And cousin Sarah is due here Thursday to
see "Dolly!"
Ohhh!  The mess would be worse than awful.


At some point I attempted to go to bed.
Five minutes later I remembered that I had
glanced up at the ceiling of the closet
and noticed a long water stain.
Had it been there before?
I didn't remember ever seeing it.
So I got up and went upstairs to make sure
the water heater pan was not overflowing.
Nary a drop in it.
How could water get from the upstairs to
the middle of the downstairs closet anyway?
I went back to bed.  But not to sleep.


Back in bed I wondered:
Would the ceiling in the closet collapse, 
(water from above) 
or
would I wake up and step out of bed
into ankle deep water in the whole house
(water from below)
in the morning?


Back in bed again--this time I think:
I am such a dummy!
I just need to turn the water off!
 I could get by without water tonight.
Only problem--I DON'T KNOW HOW!


After having thought of every possible bad scenario,
I somehow, some way drifted off to sleep.
 I awoke to an intact ceiling, and I
stepped out of my bed onto dry ground.
The closet carpet was significantly squishier,
but I was able to get ready for church and go!


As soon as I left church, I called my #1 line of defense:
Rob, my beloved son in law.
Rob has built houses, but I was just sure
(still awfulizing) that since I could not figure
this problem out, he would not be able to either!


Oh me of little faith.
Rob came.  In short order, Rob conquered.
All while I was in Granbury enjoying Hello Dolly!
I still do not understand, but it had something to do
with a drain in the water heater closet upstairs,
but having to do with the air conditioning,
 being stopped up.
I think.
Rob had even found a fan and had it busily
drying the carpet when I got home.
What a relief!!!



All that anguish.  All that wasted sleep.
I am just NEVER going to awfulize like that again!
(I somehow sense that none of you are believing that...
as well you shouldn't!)