Women NEED stuff

I ran into a bizspouse couple today, moving out of the hotel. I commented to them that I hated to see them vacate because they were quiet and courteous with that door slamming issue. That’s my pet peeve you know.

They told me that they were traveling the country doing an employment adventure too. This would be great if “she didn’t have all this stuff!” declared the husband. He was huffing and sighing loudly as he struggled to put the last load onto the hotel luggage cart. Well, women need “stuff”! We need stuff to cook with, look pretty with and dress with of course. I could see why their dilemma was particularly annoying to him as I later observed  them piling all these items, plus their dog into a very small sedan. They were setting off from Illinois to Pennsylvania where he had secured a new position.

This scenario is not an uncommon one. Think about the epic film, The Titanic. At the beginning of the movie there is quite a lot of loading of ladies’ trunks and portable armoires of gowns and trinkets and all that other “stuff” that women needed then to look remarkable.  The typical western often showed the lovely damsel fanning herself while the stagecoach hand was wiping his brow with his grimy handkerchief, overcome with perspiration while struggling to get one more satchel atop the stagecoach.

I believe that women, since our cave woman days have probably always had more items to drag along on those across the desert or the ocean, mountain, you name it, expeditions. Men need to remember this important tidbit however.  What is it that men say when THEY need something? “Honey, where is the __________”.  Uh huh they expect us to have it of course, because then men need THEIR stuff!

Parasailing is not for wimps

As I travel around the country and make lots of friends, I hear lots of stories. This para- sailing story could be mine except that I’m not foolish enough to get up that high in the first place. Let’s call this gal Jen. She is not the super adventurous type but off for the weekend with her sweetheart near the end of summer, it seemed that something a bit out of the ordinary was in order. So off they go into the boat with several older and more nervous folks, feeling confident and carefree, happy to face the challenge. Their boat mates saw their enthusiasm and insisted that they go first. So Jen and Mike were soon foisted off into the quiet blue skies above the gulf.

It was very quiet up so high above the water and peaceful and tranquil. But the lack of noise and activity provided opportunity for uh thinking….pondering…..pondering things like looking at your mate and realizing that there is very little holding him onto those straps. Jen realized that her straps looked just the same, just a paper clip looking device held them together. “But hey Mike, if the strap came unhooked or something we wouldn’t  fall right….. because the parachute would still be on us right?”  Mike reminds her that the parachute would fly off without the straps and that a fast track down to the water would be deadly and “oh look Jen, there are stingrays!”  “AAccckkkkk!”

So what began as a fun and scenic adventure soon became the “I’m not going to panic challenge”. Now Mike didn’t mean to scare his bride. He wasn’t trying to be dramatic. He was just being honest, thrilled to be out with nature and away from the office and meanwhile enjoying the scene and ambiance of viewing the lovely blue water, the breeze in his face and glimpses of sea life.

So Jen had to conclude that her next water adventure needed to be closer to the surface of that water on perhaps a jet ski. After all, the best part of the para sailing was when the parachute brought them down within spitting distance of the water.  A loud and fast motor craft that stirred up enough spray to prevent seeing what lay beneath, sounded like a better way to spend an afternoon with her husband.

What was a few moments of terror for Jen became a hysterically funny story as she related it to me. Ah sometimes the best adventure is the telling of it.


It looked so inviting. Some of the guys who stay at the hotel talked management into getting a gas grill for the patio. The weather has been mild and the days for grilling are upon us. We would sit on the patio after work and savor the fragrance of the meat cooking on the grill.

We decided it was time for us to do it too. We bought a grill brush of our own to clean the community grill. We went to the great market and got some steaks and colorful veggies and a disposable grill basket to roast the veggies and make our meal complete. We cut and sliced, we sprinkled and marinated. We gathered our utensils, olive oil and glasses of wine. We carefully made our way down the three flights of stairs, making sure that we had everything we needed. We wanted to enjoy the ambiance of the experience without being interrupted by an unnecessary hike back up the stairs.

The moment had arrived. The final topping on the Memorial Day weekend. We set up shop. No one else was around. The sun had settled on the other side of the hotel and the conditions were perfect to enjoy each other and the succulent aroma of onions, steaks and potatoes being seared on the fire. But then the worst thing happened. ….the worst thing DIDN’T happen. It couldn’t be! There was no propane left in the tank? Surely the hotel staff had prepared for a moment such as this. Of course they had a back up tank in their utility shed. The shed couldn’t be just for bags of salt and snow shovels. We just KNEW they had another tank of propane in there to assist the unlucky guest that drew the lottery number for their steak to be held up from turning from red to brown. But it was not to be…..the hotel had no other tanks and no one to obtain one. They were sorry but there will be no gas at the OK Corral Hotel tonight.

It was an anticlimactic Memorial evening as we schlepped back up to our room, taking the elevator this time in defeat, and dragging our raw steak and sad vegetables along with us. We argued over which take-out place to call at this now late hour to be eating dinner. We settled on Jimmy Johns Subs. It was a very poor substitute for a ribeye but at least they do deliver “ridiculously fast” as their ads proclaim. So “Cheers” to our “Turkey Tom” sandwich as the last hours of our Memorial Weekend faded away.

A park along the Rock River.

My name is Janet and I’m a chipaholic

I remember now why it has been over a year since we have eaten in a Mexican Restaurant. We have no control. We had forgotten that. It was Cinco de Mayo you know? May 5th.  It seemed like the perfect time to try a Mexican restaurant in our temp city.

After all, it was my Weight Watchers leader who even suggested the restaurant in the first place. Since I’ve lost ten pounds now (not a true ten pounds mind you because that first weigh in included a hat, coat, gloves and shoes just to assure a little progress that first week on program) and am back to my goal, I felt empowered to go in there on the Mexican holiday to celebrate with the locals. I just bet that Carolyn doesn’t let them bring chips to her table.

It’s that chip basket that is the problem. I had silently promised myself that I would count out ten chips and when they were eaten, I was finished. I would then patiently wait for my modest combo to arrive. But did that happen? Oh no, my hubby and I ended up finger fighting over the last small crumb nestled in the bottom of the basket. At least we did resist the urge to nod approvingly as the fourth “attender” offered to refill it. Don’t they know how bad your night can be after you have filled up on just ONE chip basket  between two people AND your “modest” combo?

But the chips are so good. At home I eat unsalted pretzels or baked potato chips. I don’t have a greasy chip within a mile of my hotel room. Okay, unless you count the vending machine in the laundry room but that doesn’t tempt me. But put me in a restaurant with loud music, lots of happy people and a basket of hot chips and I’m a gonner.

So after a restless night of dreaming about striped blankets, big hats and Pepcid AC, I believe it will likely be another year before we attempt to eat Mexican food. We need to face facts, we are chipaholics and we now know it.

A tribute to Manuel

This is a repost from February. Manuel had a stroke a few weeks ago and remains in a rehab center. So quickly our lives can change.

Manuel is the kindly older gentleman who does the maintenance in the hotel. He is always busy taking out trash or vacuuming or making repairs. Manuel does not speak English however, and I know little Spanish so I use a lot of universal sign language and he responds with Spanish words I’ve never heard before. It’s worked pretty well for us, that is until last Monday. That was the day that we moved from the 1st floor to the 3rd floor.
You see, our room had a lazy boy chair in it. (not the real name brand one but a cheap, vinyl recliner that we called Lazy Boy). When we saw that our new room had a plain old motel chair in it, we asked if we could swap them.
So Manuel came to the room with a dolly and a smile and proceeded to attempt to load the chair onto the dolly. It was heavy and awkward but we got it loaded and moved to the door but the door was too narrow. So after more unloading and grunting, we got it onto the elevator and moved to the 3rd floor.
Manuel kept saying something to me in Spanish and pointing at the base of the chair as we struggled to get it in place. I just didn’t get what he meant. My two years of high school Spanish were seriously failing me at this moment.
Then the light bulb came on as I realized what he meant.  This is what he was trying to say in his Spanish language. “Stupid lady, hold the bottom of the foot stool part of the chair because it keeps popping out to recline and that’s why we can’t get it moved where we are trying to put it!!!” He only used a couple words but I figured out what he was saying.
Now he smiles and waves each time he sees me, he’s such a friendly guy…..I bet I know what he’s thinking though.

I made a new friend today.

A bus driver named Pearl. She’s one tough cookie, that Pearl. Of course she has to be, to handle all the duties required of a city bus driver. She has to listen to the whining about the dollar bill machine not taking their dollar. She must put down the ramp for the wheel chair folks and pick up the permanent seats and then strap them in so they don’t roll around and hurt themselves during transit. She has to contend with fussy babies and police the rule breakers who try to smuggle McDonald’s bags onto the bus. NO EATING OR DRINKING! But that rule keeps riders from needing their “bus pants” that Sheldon must wear when he rides the bus.

She has to listen to the rider who forgot to take her meds and is yelling obscenities at pedestrians out the window or the patron who thinks Pearl drove past their stop. “Didn’t you know I was supposed to get off there?” Pearl needs to be a mind reader too I guess.

Last but certainly not least, she has to DRIVE that bus. She must maneuver 35 feet of steel and exhaust fumes in and out of busy traffic. It’s the same line of impatient cars and trucks that she has ticked off because she held them up for 4 minutes getting the latest Sassy Hoveround driver unbuckled and safely disembarked.

Humanity 101: riding a city bus. Yes everyone should do that once in awhile. You get to see all kinds of people, all ages and descriptions.  It’s also a chance to witness some really bad hairstyles. The fashion police would have to pull the paddywagon up to load up all the offenders. Fortunately for me, they didn’t stop us.

It also helps you to really appreciate your old vehicle. You know maybe the sunroof won’t open or your GPS stopped working. You’re frustrated that your leather seats make you hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I can tell you that an hour or so into my interminably long trek back to my hotel, that my old Expedition (with the broken grille from the deer colliding incident) was lookin’ PRETTY good!

Pearl was quite nice to me though. Since I got on the bus and never got off. (I was doing recon for my next ride) Two hours on one route can facilitate bonding with your bus driver. When we pulled into the transfer station and everyone got off but me, I knew she was going to notice. I had to stay on though, to see where we were going. It was quite a ride I must say. So if you ever want some blog material or just need a good dose of Humanity 101 AND an appreciation for your life, grab a roll of quarters and hop on a city bus in your town!

There’s something about the first five minutes….

Have you ever noticed that those first five minutes are often the best? Think about this…you’re exhausted after a long day and evening and you finally get to slide into your soft and comfortable bed.  Ahhh those first five minutes of relaxation are so delicious.

You are hungry and weary and get to your favorite Italian restaurant. You order your special pizza with the perfect selection of toppings and after waiting too long for it to arrive, it does. You slide that first slice onto your plate with the cheese hot and stringing from the pizza pan and you take the first few bites of heaven…..

It’s a cold day, raining or snowing and the house is drafty. You decide to splurge and draw a hot bath. You get the kids settled into bed and the house is quiet and you get your abandoned book from the nightstand and sink into that enveloping warm bath. Those first five minutes of luxuriating in the warm water are the best.

You have never been to a college football game. You have cheered on your favorite team from the living room each Saturday in the fall of the year. But this time, someone gives you two tickets and it’s your turn to experience it in person.  You make your way through the traffic, the crowd, the turnstyles and ticket takers and t-shirt and program hawkers and you make your way up through the concrete stadium to emerge into the inside of the arena. The grass is so green it doesn’t look real and the colors are bright and you can’t believe you are finally there.  Those first five minutes of AWE stay with you for a lifetime.

You’ve been putting off mowing the grass, it’s getting higher, the wife is nagging. There is no more delaying. The grass must be mowed today. It’s 96 degrees with a matching humidity and you are finally finished. The beads of sweat have soaked your t-shirt, your cap is soiled with dust and dirt. Your wife hands you your favorite ice cold beer. Ahhhh those first five minutes of that brew are THE BEST!

At Weight Watchers they say that about desserts too.  Just take a couple bites and enjoy them because those first few bites are the best and the rest…..well they just add five more inches to your hips.

“He went thataway!”

Following up on my earlier blog about things that make you say “hmmmmm” is this. A local resident asked me if I had a hard time finding my way around town and I replied that I had figured out the main streets that cross each other and was doing pretty well. She then pointed out that her town was a bit odd that many streets had two different names, one going one direction and another going the other way.  I then began to notice just how many of those unusual streets there were.  So here is an example of “which way/street did he go?”

I mean what happened to just one name per street? Did too many city forefathers add the clause to their will that they wanted a street named for them? I thought it may be due to so many kind folks here that just want to “adopt a highway”? But I did a little research on that. Adopt a highway didn’t start until 1995 and that really just means that your group will pick up the trash along your road, so that’s not it.

It does make one wonder? I mean not to diss my Illinois friends but hey I watch The Good Wife and we aren’t that far from Chicago and the land of Blago. Did a local politician sell a bunch of street signs?

One lady told me that her house address is REALLY confusing. It’s on the corner of Alpine St. and Alpine Ave.  Huh? Now why didn’t they just take one of those extra names and give it to poor Alpine Avenue so he could stand alone in a town with too many street names. I hope we never need a rescue unit when a new guy is driving. He could end up in Loves Park. It may not be where he intended but the town’s name sure is nice and Alpine street, or is it avenue, will take you there.

How rare IS that parakeet?

You may have seen the emails that went around last year of “things that make you say ‘hmmmmm'”. Questions like “so how does the snow plow guy get to work?” and “how do the deer know to cross the road at the yellow sign” do make you wonder??? Well I have run across several of those myself since I’ve been in northern Illinois.  For example if your bait has to be dead in order to use it for fishing, does that mean you must bash in the little worm’s head before putting it on your hook? And if a hotel is designed primarily for sleeping (that IS why the focal point of the room is a bed right?) then why are the doors designed to bang at the deicbel level that can damage your eardrums?

Another one would be, who keeps magazines for 14 years? Then who keeps magazines for 14 years and then donates them to a thrift store?  I’m thinking that latest DIET CRAZE is a bit past its prime by now. At least we can do the research and see how it failed miserably along with the 27 other diet plans for the year 1998. I noticed that the thrift store where I’m “working” one day a week, left this little jewel in the break room instead of putting it out for a possible purchase.

Last week I was in a local pet supermarket and saw a sign for a Rare Parakeet.  I thought that was cool and wanted to see the price tag on that bird.  Wow! It was on sale! To think I could be the owner of such a valuable fowl for just $19.99! That made me say “hmmmmm”.

Here is my favorite. The sign says to keep your dog on a leash to protect it from coyotes. If a coyote is around and your dog is in danger what does that say about YOU? Don’t you think that a dog could run quite a bit faster than a human? I say if a coyote is coming out of the woods for me, my dog is on his own.  “Just meet me at the car Rover”, cause I’m sprinting for that “oh please DON’T BE LOCKED” bathroom that I saw across the walking trail.

So if you think I’m just being a Wise Guy you’re wrong…I’m being a Wise Man! generically speaking that is.

Sleeping double in a single bed.

You may be too young to remember the Barbara Mandrell song that was the inspiration for my catchy title. Okay so the hotel life isn’t quite THAT bad. We don’t have a single bed but if you are used to a king sized bed, you may find that a measly ol’ queen bed feels like a single bed.

When you are making your arrangements to have a lengthy stay on the road, accommodations can be quite tricky.  You may be a novice at it like we were or you may be boxed into what hotel your company has booked for you. If you have any control over the situation you will want to weigh the pros and cons of what is important to you. Keeping in mind cost, proximity to work location, smoking v. nonsmoking, full kitchen or just regular hotel fridge and microwave etc. Being aware of your priorities is vital.  If you simply must have a king sized bed then you want to find an extended stay hotel to accommodate that.

One of my favorite quotes is “Knowledge is power”. (Francis Bacon) If you know what lies ahead, you’d be surprised at what amenities from home you can take with you that will make your stay more comfortable.  So sleeping single OR double, getting those zzzzzs makes for a happy worker.