My Friend Kitty

My friend Kitty and I have been pals for many years, now that I've moved away I don't get to see her as often, but I call her every morning on my drive to work and we talk for the 15 or 20 minutes it takes me to make my way to my office... no subject is off limits between us...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tiny Food and Midge

I've been making miniature, dollhouse-sized food recently, my DH  has even set up a website ( to sell it and I've taken some of it to a couple of craft fairs. Seems to be doing well, I get a lot of positive comments.

Kitty and I discuss miniatures a lot of mornings lately... she loves them and is a springboard to bounce ideas off of... and she comes up with great ideas and inspiration for my ongoing projects!

Kitty's mother, Midge, was an artist... Kitty lost her to emphysema a few years ago and misses her so much, as I do my own Mama, who has only been gone for two years. Mamas are something special!

Midge was a fabric artist, mostly... she made quilted wall hangings, vests, etc. and they were lovely... but she dabbled in many and varied media... she wrote poetry, did fabulous pin and ink drawings, sculpted, sewed, and who knows what else. I helped her with her annual Crafts for Hope craft fair a couple of years and had the privilege of knowing the remarkable woman she was. Midge designed and built (some with her own two hands, some with help from local carpenters and contractors) her house, an adorable A-Frame set in the middle of mature woods. Kitty inherited the house when her mom passed away and has spent the last 5 or 6 years going through and organizing her mom's things... she still has a long way to go. Midge collected everything!

In a recent foray into boxes of her mother's things, Kitty found, what else, miniature food her mother made for her when she was a little girl... Barbie sized! She was so excited... she had been telling me about some of the food Midge had made for her and had wondered where it had gotten to. In a box... in the attic of the house she lives in... You would have to see that house to understand... there are so many little cubby-holes and tiny attic spaces and Midge knew how to store! It took Kitty the better part of a year just to organize the shelves in Midge's studio, much less tackling the attics! Anyhow, Kitty found doughnuts, hot dogs, fries, and more... She was so excited!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

French Manicures and Cell Phones

My DH and I attended a beautiful beach wedding last weekend... my cousin Kristy was married on the beach near Charleston... Kristy made a beautiful bride... they wore flowing clothes and feet were bare... I loved it!

DH noticed Kristy's French pedicured feet and manicured hands at the wedding and told me he thought my nails would look nice like that... for SOME reason my fingernails have started to grow... they never have before... my lifestyle is generally not conducive to manicured nails... I type for a living, do my own housework, have a large number of hobbies that require the use of my hands, and like to dig in the dirt... I've always kept them neatly and very shortly trimmed, but for whatever reason, they've begun to grow and look pretty nice... my nails tend to be kinda thin and easily broken so since they are growing, I decided to purchase a bottle of nail hardener and see what happens.
Sally Hansen French Manicure Kit, French Shell Shimmer
When DH made the remark about the French manicure, I thought, "Why not... let's give it a try!" Made a stop at Walgreen's and bought a French manicure kit and headed home to give it a try...

In the meantime... I received my new, upgraded Cosmo cell phone from Verizon and set in to learn all the bells and whistles it offered... the evening before I had downloaded an app that would assist me in transferring all my phone numbers stored in my old phone to my new one when it arrived... didn't work... I did something wrong I think so called technical support... followed their advice... SEVERAL times to no avail, they finally gave up on me and suggested that I go to one of their retail stores and have someone do the transfer for me there... I agreed, gave up on transferring phone numbers and got back to my fingernails...
LG KP500 Cookie Unlocked Phone (Black)--International Version with No Warranty

Taped the little adhesive guides that come in the French manicure kit to the tips of my nails and got out the bottle of white French manicure nail polish to do the tips...

DH became interested in this process and after observing for a few minutes offered to paint my tips... "I'm pretty good at painting model airplanes and stuff, I bet I could do THAT!" he said... I offered him the polish and my taped up hand... half an hour later, my nail tips were white... as were much of the tips of my entire fingers! and a drop or two on one of my knuckles! Q-Tips and nail polish remover cleaned up the excess and the tips were looking pretty good...

Topped the entire nail with the "natural" French translucent polish... lookin' good! Then topped 'em off with a layer of clear top coat...

OK so there's still a little "residue" of white here and there around the nail beds... and the cuticles... and kinda stuck on the little hang nail areas... but it ain't bad!

DH said next time I want a French manicure, he'll just give me the money and let me get a professional to do it!

Meanwhile I transferred those numbers by hand from one cell phone to another in about 45 minutes this morning... after spending two hours on the phone trying to get technology to do it for me... go figure!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Just a Good Ol' Boy

My friend has been battling a difficult employer for years...

The director of the library where she works is an ego-maniac who can do no wrong in his own eyes and has been a thorn in the flesh of many employees for quite some time.

A county library is run by the county commissioners and the county manager and the hiring and firing and employee complaints and such must go through them through a maze of protocol and hierarchy... once you are hired through the maze of red tape in a county government situation it takes almost an act of God to get un-hired!

Employees have complained for years about the mismanagement of the library, but much of their words have fallen on deaf ears... it's a "good ol' boy" way of life and if you're on the "good ol' boy" payroll you can get by with a lot before anybody listens.

Somebody finally listened! Good Ol' Boy library manager has been offered a position as assistant manager at a library halfway across the continent. Apparently not enough "evidence" to out and out fire the man, so he must have been offered an ultimatum... "move on and save face, they've got the goods on you, buddy!"

I'm just speculating here, I have no facts to back up my thoughts, but I've seen how local government can operate, I was in the newspaper business in that town for 10 years... I observed much of the "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" mentality that exists in a small town... and even in a larger town...

Politics doesn't seem to be much different, whether it's a local school board, a church committee, or a nation... it's not always the most qualified people who run things, it's the ones who kiss the most butts and scratch the most backs! Most of the time it's not WHAT you know, it's WHO you know that gets you up the political ladder.

Sad really...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cigarettes and smoking

Collectible--Camel Filters Imposter/Camel Filters Genuine Cigarette Tobacco Lighter
I smoke, I admit it, I like it...

Kitty doesn't... she hates it for many reasons, the main one being that her mother smoked her whole life and died of emphysema a few years ago, Kitty watched her drown in her own lungs... a horrible thing to see...
She also hates the smell, the nastiness, and more.

I understand that, I generally don't smoke around her, she respects the fact that I do and doesn't preach at me or anything. Another thing we agree to disagree about.
This morning our conversation steered to cigarettes and the way they've changed since their invention years and years ago. We discussed the fact that there are many ingredients in cigarettes nowadays that weren't there years ago, we agree that the additives that tobacco companies add to their product are more likely the causes of most of the cancers and diseases these days rather than the tobacco... years ago, for example everybody smoked, around their children, in their homes, on TV... and you didn't hear much about cancer or breathing problems associated with smoking... it wasn't until "someone" decided they were "bad" for you that a "conspiracy" seemed to be born... and the tobacco companies seemed to be in on the conspiracy of making cigarettes even more addictive and adding poisonous ingredients to harm our health. I'm not kidding... I think it's a conspiracy!

I did a little research on the added ingredients and was not surprised to find some of the things I found... makes me want to grow my own tobacco or at least go to the "natural" forms of the nicotine sticks I love so much.

Here's a small example of some of the things I read:

There are more than 4,000 ingredients in a cigarette other than tobacco. Common additives include yeast, wine, caffeine, beeswax and chocolate. Here are some other ingredients:
Ammonia: Household cleaner
Angelica root extract: Known to cause cancer in animals
Arsenic: Used in rat poisons
Benzene: Used in making dyes, synthetic rubber
Butane: Gas; used in lighter fluid
Carbon monoxide: Poisonous gas
Cadmium: Used in batteries
Cyanide: Deadly poison
DDT: A banned insecticide
Ethyl Furoate: Causes liver damage in animals
Lead: Poisonous in high doses
Formaldehyde: Used to preserve dead specimens
Methoprene: Insecticide
Megastigmatrienone: Chemical naturally found in grapefruit juice
Maltitol: Sweetener for diabetics
Napthalene: Ingredient in mothballs
Methyl isocyanate: Its accidental release killed 2000 people in Bhopal, India in 1984
Polonium: Cancer-causing radioactive element

Why, if there's not some sort of conspiracy, are these things and more, added to a cigarette?

Makes you wonder...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Customer Service

"I hate bad customer service!" and so began our morning conversation.

I had to run into a local convenience store this morning to pick up a couple of things. I was running a little late and was in just a little bit of a hurry. The two ladies at the cash register were chatting about a mutual friend who was expecting a baby... "she already has a teenage son and a four year old daughter, and now is expecting another baby."

The gentleman in front of me was waiting patiently for a break in the conversation to ask for a BINGO lottery ticket. One of the women ignored him completely, she was too busy doing inventory and repricing the cigars to notice him, a customer, standing politely waiting, but she was NOT too busy to continue the conversation with her fellow employee about the expectant mother. The other cashier finally looked up and asked (none too politely, I might add) what he wanted... he told her and she handed him the ticket without really looking at him or thanking him for his patronage. He stated that the ticket she gave him wasn't a BINGO ticket, which is what he had asked for... she told him she was out of BINGO... but he could have the one under the glass counter if he wanted, he said OK he'd take it... she did another lengthy search under her counter just to make sure she was really out and then made a big TO-DO about lifting the glass from the counter and pulling the last BINGO out from under the showcase... the man glanced several times at me with apology written on his face, I smiled back at him to let him know I didn't hold him responsible for the cashier's rude behavior.

He left and it was my turn, I requested the items I wanted after the cashier looked at me... what happened to "may I help you please?" or "what can I do for you, ma'am?" She just looked at me with an attitude that said to me that I was a customer so she HAD to help me but she was doing me a favor to do so... I paid for my purchases and left without being thanked or "have a good day" or anything... the ladies went back to the conversation the gentleman and I had so rudely interrupted!

Now I ask you... if these two ladies were allowed to do what they wanted... count inventory, reprice items, and gossip about their neighbors all day... and not serve the customers... how long would their job last?... if they sold nothing, there would be no Circle K and there would be no job, no paycheck for these two women...

In my past experiences in customer service... I've always been taught the "customer is always right" the "customer pays your salary" treat them like it!

Sure there are rude, angry, ridiculous customers... but hey, I was just standing in line waiting my turn, I hadn't said a word. And what has happened to simple, common courtesy in this world? What has happened to looking people in the eye when you speak to them? to give them a smile and a word of welcome, an offer of service? Where have the phrases "Please" and "Thank You" and "Have a nice day" gone?

I have gone through the drive through of fast food restaurants recently and the person just hands the bag out the window without even looking at me, much less thanking me for being there and for my patronage!

Chat with your fellow employees! Do your side jobs of cleaning, restocking, repricing, counting... they're important... but do it AFTER you have taken care of your primary responsibility... taking care of customers! That's all I'm asking! that and a smile and a thank you... how hard is that?

Wonder if you held a class in customer service, you'd have anybody show up these days? I'm thinking about offering one!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tracking Down a Bum

Since I don't talk to Kitty, generally, on the weekends, just our morning calls Monday through Friday, when I write on Saturday or Sunday, I'm thinking I'll relate some of our adventures together over the years...

Kitty had a fellow over to give her an estimate on fitting a wooden double door to replace an old sliding glass door in the house she inherited when her mother died. Andrew was a Scottish fella who had immigrated to the US several years back after an ugly divorce. He came to North Carolina to be near his son. He owned his own carpentry business. Andrew arrived, being recommended by someone Kitty knew and trusted, gave her the estimate of his work, took some money to purchase wood and supplies from Lowe's and promised to be back in three or four days to begin the work.

A week passed, then two, and Kitty didn't hear from him... she called his cell phone numerous times, leaving messages, but getting no response.

This particular evening, Kitty called me (she works at the local public library and gets off work at 8 p.m. each evening) and told me she was going looking for Andrew to either get her money back or find out why he had not come to do the work or when he would get started... She had found out where he lived and was going to his house... I expressed my concern about her going alone, it could be dangerous, she didn't really know this man! I was worried about her undertaking such a mission... did I want to go with her, she asked... Well...

I met her at the proposed intersection, got in her van with her and off we went to confront Andrew...

We found his driveway (it was very dark outside and he lived in an extremely rural area)... we lurched down the rutted, bumpy dirt drive and arrived at his house... maybe house is too much of a word to describe where Andrew lived... cabin? No, sounds too cozy and warm... Not quite reduced to a shack but close... Shanty? Maybe...

The house was dark, no vehicle sat outside... no one was home...

Never one to be deterred by such a minor inconvenience, Kitty, her anger and determination built up to a momentum, stated matter-of-factly "I know where he hangs out, we'll go there!"

We headed to town, to a small, private "members only" little tavern, "County Cork," parked about a half block away from the club, and decided to stroll past like we were window shopping up and down the street, and look in the window to see if we could see him inside.

We could see the bartender/owner, Geoff, along with 3 or 4 customers gathered at the small bar (it WAS a weeknight so the bar was mostly empty)... Kitty straightened up and stiffened... "There he is!" she said softly, "We're going inside!" We are? This is a private club, can we do that?

Boldly and determinedly, Kitty stepped inside, me following nervously... She greeted Geoff confidently and told him, "We're here to talk to Andrew, is that OK?" "Sure, come on in ladies!"

Andrew looked up from his pint and smiled broadly... in his thick, Scottish brogue, he shouted "Kitty! Come in, come in, let me buy you ladies a drink!"

Kitty accepted a pint of ale and I agreed on a small glass of white wine. We sat and chatted and laughed at the stories Andrew and his fellow drinkers were batting back and forth. He was quite charming in a sleazy, greasy sort of way.

After half an hour or so, Kitty and Andrew came to somewhat of an understanding about the carpentry work, and I'm happy to report he eventually did finish her door to her satisfaction, after some minor confrontations on her part... she, of course, never hired him again... too much work to track him down and keep him on task!

But that night, for some reason, Andrew decided to become enamoured of me! ME! He was funny and charming and interesting to chat with, but believe me I had NO romantic interest in him AT ALL!

As we got up to leave the club, Andrew said to me in his charming Scottish brogue, "I been dying ta kiss ya ever since ya walked in here!" I was flattered, but a little nervous. I declined quickly, but after much cajoling and pressuring on Andrew's part,  I agreed to take his phone number and told him I would try to call him some time (I never did after all the trouble he caused Kitty, I truly did NOT need such an irresponsible character in my life!)

And so began and ended my one and only international courtship!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Whole Milk and Custard on the Hob

Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl ozHad to stop at Publix on the way home yesterday to get milk... parking lot was full, almost couldn't find a parking space... I buy my regular groceries at Kroger but we've found that the milk is different at different stores... most "red-top" milk in most grocery stores is labeled "Vitamin D Milk"... the milk, we've found, at Food Lion and Publix is labeled "whole milk"... and DH can definitely taste the difference... he's a milk drinker!

Kitty said she didn't drink much milk and neither do I... when she does buy it she buys organic milk from the health food store... I only have it on cereal...

... or in custard...Birds Custard Powder 300g

On our recent honeymoon near Grandfather Mountain, NC, we stopped in to the Everything Scottish shoppe to spend the gift certificate some dear friends had given us as a wedding gift. One purchase we made was a $6 canister of Scottish Custard Powder... you only use a couple tablespoons in two cups of milk to make delicious Scottish custard...

I was telling Kitty about how yummy it was, she's headed up that way in a couple weeks and said she just may stop in and buy some herself... I was telling her about the cooking directions on the back of the canister... in true UK fashion, it states directions for preparing in the microwave... or "on the hob"

"What does that mean?" Kitty asked... "On the stove top."

Which took the conversation to the differences in the English language in America and in the UK and Australia... like boot for trunk and bonnet for the hood of your car... a lift for elevator... and flat for apartment...

"When DH lived in Australia, they would step outside for a fag." (cigarette) "if we did that here it would mean something completely different..."

"Speaking of fags, my boss sure looked like one yesterday, he just got his hair cut in a definitely feminine style."

We laughed for a bit about that one... it's good to have a friend to laugh with, even when it's politically incorrect to do so!

Mmmm... Custard on the Hob... guess what I'm making for dessert tonight!?!