The Grumble List

I don’t know about you but I have a few pet peeves. They’re really small unimportant things that I shouldn’t let bother me – but no matter what, this stuff sets my teeth on edge. Some are universal and some may just be me. But since I’m in the mood to grumble, here they are:

Men proclaiming to be feminists. Now, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment, I understand it’s an attempt at compassion or empathy. Still, sorry fellas, if you’re not a woman, you’re not a feminist. I mean, when was the last time you spent a job interview having some guy stare at your chest? Or called you honey or baby at work? Don’t even get me started on mechanics, auto salesman, salaries and everything else.

Auto dialers, auto responders, auto messages, auto tweets. There’s nothing quite as heartwarming as having somebody from a phone center auto dial you and not notice when you’ve answered the phone. Although sometimes the conversations you overhear while the jackhammer doesn’t know you’re listening can be great material for characters. Ditto on auto responders, messages, tweets – anything that just comes automatically and has little similarity to a human being.

Pets and children out of control. In a park or a Chuck E. Cheese you definitely expect kids to be running around like wild unrestrained creatures but not in a restaurant, or a grocery store. I understand that kids are hard to handle and parents are often overworked, stressed out and so forth. But when I see a kid climbing the grocery shelves while his mother is talking to her BFF on her cell phone I want to call Child Services. Same with dogs running loose. Sure, in the dog park, not a problem, in your yard, also not a problem. But when I’m walking my little mutt on a city street and an unknown Doberman bounds toward us without an apparent owner in sight, I’m not amused. Especially when the owner (who eventually appears) laughs and says he’s harmless.

Cashiers who hand you your change and receipt all in one stack, without counting it back to you. What are you supposed to do with a receipt, bills and change all dumped into your hand? You know the person behind you wants you to move so you can’t stand there and separate it, especially since his shopping cart is butting up against your butt. And I’m glad that the cashier has counted my change back to him/herself because if it’s good enough for him/her, heck it’s good enough for me.

People who expect you to be their audience. I know a few people who a seriously lacking in conversational skills. Their idea of a conversation is for you to stand there while they espouse their opinion on something, a topic you aren’t even interested in, and essentially tell them how brilliant they are. If you dare to interrupt them with an opinion of your own on the topic, you usually get a wagging finger and a blunt, “I’m not finished yet.” Sorry, I’ve got news for you buddy, I’m totally finished.

What about you? What sets your teeth on edge and drives you up the wall? Have you found a way to not let it bother you? How did you do it? Let me know in the comments.

Writer Chick

Are you part of someone’s tribe? Has the tribe spoken?

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There’s thing going around about being part of someone’s tribe. (It may be blasé by now and perhaps marketers have moved onto something else because I’m often behind the latest trends…but anyway….) The idea here is that a writer or otherwise creative entrepreneur type person needs a tribe. A group of people so dedicated to them that they spread the word. Offer support. Pledge undying loyalty to the person, their products and/or their brand.

Now aside from family, which I think is actually a tribe of sorts, isn’t this a little bit weird? Even your group of friends could be a tribe, I guess. Or your co-workers. But like total strangers?

Am I missing something?

I’m a writer and I write books and I’d love people to buy those books. But do I want a Jim Jones mob following my every move and quoting me to others? Is that really the idea? Do I want my face to be the favorite Halloween mask next year? Didn’t they used to call this hero worship or some such?

See, I’m asking all these questions because I don’t know

What about you guys. Do you have tribes? Or are you part of a tribe? Do you wear special costumes? Have your own line of makeup? A secret handshake? A nifty decoder ring? Do you all post baby pictures on Facebook at a designated time every Thursday? Go for teepee camp outs and such?

Let me know. Educate me. Explain it to me. What is this tribe thing all about?

Writer Chick

Daylight savings, birthdays and starting over

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I’m cranky because of the whole spring forward thing which is ironic because it isn’t even officially spring yet, right? And I’ve always wondered how they can call it daylight savings since you have to cutting an hour of daylight from the morning and giving it to the evening, doesn’t in fact give us more daylight, and doesn’t seem to save much. watch

 

 

I have a birthday coming up and I used really look forward to birthdays – now not so much. Not because of the age issue because let’s face, you’re as old as you are and you aren’t going to change it, right. But mostly because my family and friends have over the years slipped into apathy about birthdays and holidays in general. In fact, my buddy Zelda actually chastises me for giving her birthday gifts. Wow. Really? Well it doesn’t matter because I’ll continue to give them to her anyway, and I can’t wait to see her reaction to the birthday card I found for her – guaranteed to shoot milk straight out of her nose. And to any birthday naysayers out there I say this. Birthdays are awesome. They are the day you get to show the people you love that they’re special – if only for the 15 minutes it takes for them to open the card, the gift and shove a cupcake in their mouth. And is it really so much trouble to take 15-20 minutes out of a day and show somebody you like that you like them? Anyway… balloon-boy

 

 

 

You know what it’s like when you bake a cake you’ve really been wanting to make? You know, you’ve got this awesome picture in your head of how it will look, how it will smell and the flavor that will explode in your mouth when you take the first bite. But then reality takes over and what you end up with is a lopsided, dry, badly decorated amorphous glob? Yeah. So starting over. lopsided cake

 

 

If this post doesn’t make sense then I say we blame on daylights savings, birthday haters, and lopsided cakes.

Tomorrow I may write something more cogent. Could happen.

Peace out

Writer Chick

What is the value of a laugh?

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I never met anyone who didn’t enjoy a good laugh. Even the snarkiest curmudgeon can get behind a deep-in-the belly chortle. Of course the snipe or insult has to be just right and at the perfect time…but the point is people enjoy a laugh. I know I like to laugh and if somebody can make me laugh consistently, then I’m pretty much theirs forever.

So when people ask me what my blog is about or what its theme is or what value I bring. I basically go into that deer in the headlights pose and stutter, then mumble something unintelligible. Because mostly I write this blog to make people laugh. I can’t help myself; I just love to make people laugh. And I always have, even when I was a kid. From witty repartee to telling my version of family history my goal is to make you chuckle, giggle, pound-on-the-table howl and hopefully pee your pants a little.

Is this valuable? Is it worth your time?

I can’t speak for others although I’ve seen stories of people who claim to have cured chronic illnesses by ensuring they laughed a lot and watched funny movies and did things that made them well…laugh. This article from the Mayo Clinic agrees there are health benefits to laughing including:

  • Stimulating your heart, lungs and muscles, and increasing the release of endorphins
  • Increasing your heart rate and blood pressure which can relax you
  • Stimulating your circulation and aid in muscle relaxation
  • Improving your immune system by releasing neuropeptides that help fight stress
  • Relieving pain
  • Increasing personal satisfaction
  • Improving your ability to cope
  • Helping you to connect with other human beings
  • Improving your mood
  • Lessening depression and anxiety

I mean, seriously, there must be a reason why silly videos of monkeys scrambling eggs go viral, right?

Is everything laughable?

Yeah, yeah, I know life is serious. I mean there is some pretty serious stuff going on in the world and we need to be concerned about it. But I believe that on some level pretty much everything is laughable. It may not be today or tomorrow, but even the worst thing that happened to you may be laughable years from now. I remember a friend asking me about a broken love affair that had really just ruined me. But as I told her the Reader’s Digest version of my journey we both started laughing and ended up, yes, peeing our pants a little. Because it the retelling it was just really stupidly, pathetically funny. I mean, come on, you just have to laugh at what a big doof you are sometimes, right? So I say, when in doubt laugh – it can’t hurt and it might help. You never know.

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What makes you laugh? Got any good jokes?

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

Nine things that will always be free

photo courtesy of morguefile.com
photo courtesy of morguefile.com

Lint. We don’t know where it comes from or how it seems to spontaneously appear out of thin air but no one has ever capitalized on this free resource (as far as we know) so grab all the free lint you can. Who knows maybe you’ll figure out a way to make sweaters and mittens from it.

Opinions. Like the saying goes……everybody has one. Often you don’t have to ask for an opinion because others will gladly tell you whether you like it or not. Warning: These free verbal projectiles are frequently composed of volatile and unstable materials, especially when uttered on social media channels.

Baby smiles and puppy dog wags. You do not have to have a baby or own a dog to get either. They are spontaneous gifts and you should savor each one.

Advice. Especially bad advice. Like opinions, is it offered without solicitation, covers a wide range of topics, and can be provocative. Caution: When accepting advice bear in mind that you get what you pay for.

Bad luck and trouble. This dynamic duo can appear without warning and is usually inexplicable. From nails in tires to cat fights in McDonalds you can get caught in the crossfire by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because of its indiscriminate nature do not dwell on it or it will grow –wondering why it happened to you will only encourage it to spend more time with you. Like dust and pollen, it is simply part of the flotsam and jetsam of the universe.

Germs. Like opinions and bad advice, germs abound. They are hard to see and live on every surface known to man. If you were to magnify these babies you’d run screaming in the other direction because they are the inspiration for horror story monsters and Halloween movies. They are sneaky and can get into your system at any time—hand sanitizer and soap are your friends.

Something on the Internet. No matter how things change or advance there will always be something ‘free’ on the Internet. Of course, often what is labeled as free on the Internet has been stolen or pirated from someone or somewhere else, so beware.

Sunlight and air. I’m not sure these two necessary for life items will always be free since the government loves to find ways to charge us for nature has given us. And you see the occasional article about some bozo claiming squatting rights on the sun – but until (or unless) a planet-wide biodome is put in place you can probably count on sucking up this stuff to your heart’s content.

Your own thoughts. Despite Internet data tracking and viruses – GPS, satellites, and spy agencies – so far, no one has managed to break into the human mind successfully (although many have tried). And based on current trends, soon, your mind may be the only private place left on the planet. So be kind to your mind, feed it daily with information, knowledge, art, experience and wisdom. Cram it full of things that expand its boundaries and enable it to travel to hitherto unknown regions. Protect it from strangers and never give anyone the password.

You’d think there’d be more than nine things that are really truly free. If I missed something be sure to point it out to me or add to the list.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

Questions I ask myself or Daddy, why is the sky blue?

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Want to know what writers think about? Yeah, me too. But alas, I can only tell you what twirls around in my writer’s brain. Any of these sound familiar to you?

1. Is a book better if the writer takes years to write it?

2. Are eBooks better than ‘real’ books?

3. If eBooks smelled like ‘real’ books would people buy more of them?

4. If smart phones are so smart why do people walk into walls while using them?

5. Do people know that we can hear all the details of their life because they talk really loud on their cell phones?

6. Why doesn’t my cat like anybody—not even me?feb 2010001

7. What is my dog dreaming about?

8. Why don’t vegetables taste like chocolate? Or potato chips?

9. If a writer sits in her office alone writing a book does anyone hear the keyboard clacking?

10. Is the opposite of social media, anti-social media?

11. Why don’t they make aerobic chairs?

12. Does a dog know when you’re lying to her?IMG_0005

13. If we got rid of all the flies and crickets, would nature revolt?

14. When did underpants become a fashion statement?

15. How does karma work? Is there a scorecard or something?

16. Why does white clothing make me spill things?

What questions do you ask yourself? Do you get any answers? Feel free to add to the add to the list.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

The Mashed Potato Diaries – #TaterRage #iluvtaters

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Creamy, dreamy fluffy mashed potatoes – there is no better comfort food in the world. Seriously, starch and fat all folded into a billowy mountain of goodness just can’t be beat.

In fact, about a week ago, one of my Twitter friends bragged about being awesome at making smashed spuds. I couldn’t take that lying down and mentioned I was pretty damned awesome at making them too. Then another mashed potato fan joined the fray. It was probably the most animated conversation I’ve had on Twitter. Not sure what that says about me, but I do love me some mashed taters, so who cares?

We mused about having a contest but got stuck on how to compete in the virtual world. So, for those who are interested here’s my best recipe:

2 pounds whole Yukon gold potatoes
1 stick of butter
2 cloves of diced and lightly sauteed garlic
½ cup warmed half & half
½ cup sour cream
2 TBSP of mayo
Salt & pepper to taste
Paprika

Peel and quarter potatoes and steam in steamer for approx 20 minutes until just tender.

In a saute pan, saute the garlic until golden, not brown or it will be bitter.

In a large bowl, add potatoes, sauteed garlic, butter, salt & pepper. Work the butter into the potatoes with a masher. Slowly fold in sour cream and mayo. A little more mashing to blend. Pour in warmed half & half, as you blend with hand mixer on low. Mix only long enough to create a fluffy mound. Don’t over mix or you’ll end up with a gelatinous mess. Sprinkle with paprika and serve hot.

Variations:

For a mashed potato meal, add a ladle of chili for chili-mash

For a California flair, add shredded jack cheese and ripe avocado slices

For a classic American kick, add shredded sharp cheddar and real bacon bits – heat under broiler for a couple of minutes for a nice crusty top.

For Midwestern mashed potatoes, instead of gravy top them with creamed corn.

For dirty mashed potatoes leave the skins on.

If that isn’t enough for you, here are 50 mashed potatoes recipes to check out.

What’s your favorite smashed tater recipe? Feel free to share below in the comments.

Writer Chick

Copyright 2014

The Mystery of the flat tire in Sizzler’s parking lot

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Haven’t talked to my BFF,  Zelda, for a few weeks. We’re both cray-cray because we’re trying to get stuff done. Me the book series, she her information product package.

Anyway, she was hungry, I was hungry – it seemed a trip to Sizzler was in order. The big draw being the all you can eat salad bar. Because, you know…All. You. Can. Eat. Big appeal to those of us on a budget, right?

I told her about my project. She told me about her project. We ate. Then we ate some more. And just for good measure, we ate some more.

Sizzler apparently closes at nine o’clock now. I guess people don’t get hungry after nine in our town. The server was nice. Eyes averted he asked us if we wanted more plate (for the all you can eat salad bar) but his voice said please don’t ask for more plates because my feet hurt and I want to go home and soak them. Also, behind him, other workers were breaking down the salad bar, turning off lights and whipping out industrial sized mops. Hint-hint.

On the way out I blamed Zelda for letting me eat too much. She told me to shut up.

So out we walk to the mostly empty parking lot. It was a gloriously cool evening and after the weeks of ball-breaking heat we’d been experiencing, I was feeling uber happy. At last, Fall had arrived.

“Oh my God,” Zelda said.

My head jerked left and right. “What?”

“I don’t f’ing believe it.”

Head bobbing up and down. “What? What? What?

Zelda bent over the left front fender. “The tire is flat.”

“Damn.” Still, I had to grin because whenever Zelda and I get together, it’s always something. We just have that kind of karma.

But not to worry, Zelda had a mini compressor in her trunk (Zelda has many magical things in her trunk – more about that later). Yes, they make those. Who knew? It’s cool, you hook it up to the car battery, it blows air in your tire and you’re off to the races.

Except, not so much. The compressor didn’t work. Zelda frowned. “Hmmmmm, it worked last month.”

Okay, Plan A definitely not working.

I called my room-mate. Voice mail. Hmmmmmm.

We flipped the switch on and off, played with the electrical lead. Begged. Pleaded. That compressor could not be sweet-talked.

Zelda decided to call Triple A. Okay Plan B. Auto Club. Sounds good.

She also had to use the rest room in the grocery store a few steps away.

Time passed.

I tried my room-mate again.

More time passed.

The homeless folks wielding shopping carts rattled by. And a guy in a weird truck drove circles in the lot.

More time passed.

I called my room-mate.

Apparently I was alone on the planet.

Then Zelda emerged from the grocery carrying buckets (don’t ask) – the phone stuck to her ear and rolling her eyes.

That was the second call to the auto club and apparently the driver was coming in 20 minutes, which technically is what they told her 20 minutes before.

We decided to get the spare out of the trunk, so the Triple A guy could change the tire faster. Not sure there was real logic there as much as it gave us something to do.

Now to get to the tire we needed to move some stuff. A lot of stuff. Water bottles, microwave mac’n cheese, ski poles, duffel bags, a tarp – like I said, Zelda has many magical things in her trunk. We emptied the contents into the backseat, which made her Lexus look more like Jed Clampett’s ride than an awesome luxury vehicle.

Just when all hope seemed lost, the drive rolled up. My pulse quickened, my eyes gleamed – I might get home by ten o’clock and catch a rerun on TV.

Driver was a nice guy – shaved head, I imagined with a wife and five kids. He looked that tired. He whips out his fancy jack, wheels it over, puts it in the right spot of the car and pumps. All good.

He fights a bit with the lug nuts but he wasn’t about to lose that battle and the lug nuts finally relented. Okay, we’re moving into the final leg of the journey.

He wiggles the wheel to get it loose. And then the car rolls back because he didn’t chock the back wheel.

Steam coming out of Zelda’s ear. Me grasping her arm so she won’t slug him.

Sigh.

The bad tire did manage to absorb some of the fall and the driver’s fancy jack helped some too. Except that now the jack was smooshed up. Need a new jack.

Driver shuffles to his truck to call the dispatcher.

Zelda mutters and takes pictures of her wheel base for proving damage. I smell a nasty letter in somebody’s future.

More time passes. Is it even still Friday?

Another driver shows up. He’s young, friendly, lots of energy. This could be better. Time is spent deliberating how to get the car up without bending the frame or something like that. Talk, huddling, mutters.

Somehow they (after they’d chocked the back tire) manage to raise up the car and get the spare tire on. Lugs nuts on.

Okay pulse quickening once again. Just a few more minutes and we’re on our way. Oh-oh, the spare is flat too.

The happy driver has an air compressor on board. Yay.

Tire inflates. Phew!

We wave, blow kisses, thank the drivers profusely. Just get me the hell home, I think.

The happy driver makes a sad face. “Wow,” he says, “good thing we got the air in that tire, my compressor just broke.”

I looked at Zelda, “Drive, damn it, just drive. Before something else happens.”

So I got home just before eleven. Zelda didn’t call so I assume she got home too.

Weird thing was, we couldn’t see any damage to the original tire. Just flat as a pancake. No obvious or apparent damage. Oh well, that’s a mystery for another day. True story.

So, how was your Friday night?

Writer Chick
Copyright 2014