Thursday, November 28, 2013

Deviled Eggs And Christmas Trees

   Happy Thanksgiving all you grateful, feasting people! I love Thanksgiving, so my sitting down to write a blog may seem a bit strange, because where is the family time? Well, I did do a small turkey and some stuffing today, because I wanna eat too dammit, but my family's Thanksgiving is being held at a later date. This is due to the fact that my mother is an oncology nurse, and she works tonight. Cancer patients don't get the day off from being sick, and they still need someone to take care of them. So while I had a little mini-feast, this is not my day of huge, massive, artery-blocking feasting.
   But as I said, my daughter and I did have our little two-person meal, and so far as my daughter is concerned, a meal is NOT a holiday meal unless you have some deviled eggs. She loves these things and eagerly awaits their completion. Today was no different. She hovered over me until I got all the other prep work for the other food done, had the hard-boiled eggs out (we boiled them last night) and was just eagerly assisting and awaiting.
   Our deviled eggs are not sweet. The first time I tasted a sweet deviled egg I had to fight to stop from spitting it out. That's nasty; before that ill-fated taste, I never even knew that deviled eggs could be sweet. Who knew? Not me. The person who made them thought I was weird as hell for making deviled eggs with vinegar and mustard; I thought she was weird as hell for using sugar. But regardless, vinegar and mustard is the way my family has made deviled eggs forever. These are the eggs that I ate as a child, and these are the eggs that my daughter devours like candy.
   This is my family's deviled egg recipe:
    6 hard boiled eggs (chilled)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    2 tablespoons mayo
    2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
    Paprika (to sprinkle over eggs)
    Cut eggs in half, putting yoke in mixing bowl and mashing with fork. Mix in spices, add mayo and vinegar, mix well and heap mixture into egg halves. Sprinkle with paprika.
    It should also be noted that you can use regular balsamic vinegar as well, but this makes the yolk mixture turn brown, and so guests might be a little wary of eating the deviled eggs. Of course, this way, there is more for you. Or your fiendish egg-snatching daughter.
   Another thing that my daughter and I did today was put up our Christmas tree. I know that traditionally, you are supposed to wait for the day after Thanksgiving to put up the tree, but I am a working mom, and I have today off. We tend to do these types of things around my work schedule, often throwing tradition out the window, and in that spirit, the tree went up today.
   One tradition that my family has is that every year, the kids get a new Christmas ornament as a Christmas gift. My sister and I always knew that we would get a new ornament, and of course, my daughter probably knows this as well, but she has manners, so she doesn't go around shaking presents and hollering, "This one's the ornament!" Nor does she groan after opening the ornament and proclaim, "An ornament, again!?!" I think she likes getting her Christmas ornament, but even if she didn't, she knows that momma would be pretty pissed at this type of behavior. Punishment would ensue. But I digress.
    Since every year my daughter has been getting ornaments, and I tend to pick out her gifts according to her tastes and not mine, I have a tree with a shit-load of My Little Ponies and Tinker Bell. If this tree was decorated with my taste in mind, there would be pine cones, traditional glass balls, and maybe some cardinals or something; instead I have a hodgepodge of Disney and Hasbro toys. But long ago, I came to terms with the fact that my life now included My Little Ponies and Strawberry Shortcake. Not much I can do about that. Kids will be kids.
   So anyway, the deviled eggs are devoured, the tree is up and decorated, and now my daughter and I are winding down. I hope that all of you had a very happy Thanksgiving! Get your feast on, be thankful, and celebrate family.

Every single year, this set of ponies are hung together in a group like this. It's the ugliest damn thing ever, but my daughter has to have them this way. I think it's mind control; the ponies take over her mind so that they can be hung together. This is so that they can plot against us. One day, the ponies will stage a rebellion and take over my house. I am sure of this. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Living Wage

   I am thankful for many things in my life, and one of the things that I am (I won't say most, but really, near the top of the list) thankful for is my job. Sure, a checker job is not that glamorous, nor does my job require an abundance of intellect. But the one thing that sets my job apart from other cashier's jobs is that I make a wage that I can survive off of, without the aid of government assistance. To be clear, my job did start me out at minimum wage, and during those times I had to live with my mom and my sister to make ends meet, but my job has a pretty good raise system, and if you don't run afoul of the rules, you eventually come to a point when people are going, "You make how much money??? For being a cashier???" Granted, none of us are rich, but we can survive if we budget right and don't buy things that we don't need.
   But there are a lot of people who are not in that position. They make minimum wage and they have been for years because their jobs don't give raises more then the 10 cent raise every two years, or some similar nonsense, and that makes it hard. Especially because minimum wage is so low compared to our country's cost-of-living. And the first argument to that statement that I usually hear is, "Well, try living in a third world country." Well, I thank God that I don't, but how do you think that this is a reasonable argument? You are comparing one of the richest countries in the world to the poorest? To me, that is like comparing apples and oranges. Yeah, they are both fruit, but other than that, they don't have a lot in common. To me, comparing the United States to other wealthy countries would be more realistic, because all I can say is that I pay over $600 for my built before the 1960's, 700 square foot, one bedroom apartment, and somehow, I doubt that this is the rent in a third world country. If it is, then I have full sympathy for those people, but we still have poor here. Their suffering does not negate our fellow countryman's suffering.
   A second argument is that all poor here have microwaves and the poor in other countries do not. Well, a lot of us do. Microwavable food, in the United States, is often cheaper by far then food that you need to prepare and cook. But not all of the poor have microwaves. Not all of the poor are walking around with Ipods and laptops and other gadgetry. Ever seen a homeless person with a microwave strapped to his/her back? I haven't.
   There is a lot of entitlement in this country, and while I think that government programs need to be in place for people who have hit hard times or are disabled, be it physical or mental, I also understand that there are quite a few people who 'work' the system, and that needs to stop. But barring those people, we have a whole class of the working poor; these are people who work full time jobs, sometimes two, and they still have to utilize these programs because they are not paid a wage that they can live off of. 
   I have heard the arguments that not all jobs deserve a wage that you can live off of, which to me is elitist bullshit. Of course, if you are thinking that, then you are thinking that of course I think that, I am just a lazy cashier, and my job was meant for a teenager. Well, I am not gonna argue what age you need to be to do my job. I have, at a former job, trained a fourteen year old to be a cashier. They couldn't keep him on the register because he couldn't get the hang of counting back change, but  I don't think that this is the norm for most teenage kids. My daughter could do it, I believe. She couldn't deal with the asshat customers that come through my line from time to time. We have had grown cashiers in tears because some giant-walking-turd came through with a chip on their shoulder and decided to take it out on someone just trying to do their job, but really, I digress. The low minimum wage affects more than cashiers and fast food workers and servers, and they do deserve a decent wage, regardless of elitist opinions.
   Would you job snobs say that early childhood education is worthy of earning a living wage? Because a lot of them do NOT (just to provide a different field of work here). My sister is in this field, and she makes maybe a dollar above minimum wage. She is not alone; all of her coworkers are in the position of working a full time, sometimes high-stress job, and needing government assistance to survive. I would say that anyone working with children, teaching them letters, numbers, helping them potty train, and nurturing them deserves a wage that they can live off of without government assistance. They don't get this, at least not in my neck of the woods. And it is not because the company can't afford it, and it's not because prices would raise. This is due to corporate greed, in my opinion. Yes, companies have a right to make a profit, but if you cannot afford to pay your employees properly, then your company has not grown to the point where you should have employees. Or at least not so many of them.
   I am going to go back to my company. I don't have permission to affiliate myself with the company that I work for (not that I have asked, but this is MY blog, and I don't want to place myself in the position where I am having to ask permission for what I write, so try to leave names out of it), but my company is one of the lowest priced stores in the area. Our prices often beat Walmart. From my own inquiries, I believe we are one of the best paid, and we get good benefits. Of course there are flaws and issues, but name a place that doesn't have them. I get paid above what I have seen suggested as a living wage, which is $11 an hour. I make a good amount more than that. People fight raising minimum wage because they say that it will cause inflation, that companies can't afford it, that prices will rise, YET I have just told you that my store pays a good amount of their employees above $11 an hour, due to the raise system that they have in place. Probably over half, because once people get in with my company, they try their best to stay with them, and the raise system in place rewards longevity. I have TWO COLLEGE DEGREES, and I don't want to leave. Because my company pays me well, provides my with affordable insurance and works with me on hours scheduled so that I have plenty of time for my other, more important job: being a mom.
   Federal minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25( of course we know that this varies from state to state, and here in Washington, where I live, it's $9.19 an hour); that's not enough for the cost-of-living in the United States. Poverty exists in the United States. Need proof, here's two links: Seattle One Night Count and National Center For Children In Poverty. These are links to one organization that is close to my home and one that is the United States in it's entirety. I chose these links because they outline the amount of children in poverty, and in a country as wealthy as this one, I find the amount of children living in poverty appalling. A living wage would reduce that amount drastically. No; this wouldn't get rid of the people who abuse the system, but this would get those who are working and who work hard, out of the welfare system, relieving some of that burden, and the reduction of numbers could ease an overtaxed system with overtaxed workers, which in turn might provide time for said workers to start weeding out the abusers. Make sense? Does to me. Plus, a living wage is the right thing to do. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Holidays And The Public

   If there is one truth that you learn as a cashier then I have to say that this is that truth: Nothing brings out the worst in people like holidays and natural disasters. Oh, I know some of you are flapping your hands and 'pshhhh -awing' the screen, unable to believe my truth, because we are talking about holidays here, and aren't natural disasters things that bring people together? Well, as a former Southern citizen, I can tell you that I have worked retail up to the last possible minute during a hurricane. And you have never seen anything until you have seen two eighty year old women beating the crap out of each other over a 24 pack of bottled water. I mean, that was PRICELESS. And extremely stupid, but at least during a natural disaster, people are being stupid because they fear impending death. Hardship, at least, is some kind of explanation for idiocy and meanness. I am not saying that this behavior is right; I'm just saying at least this behavior is more understandable during a natural disaster than during the holidays.
   Because holidays, those are supposed to be about thankfulness, about being grateful, about friends and family and fellowship. Not about getting the best deal and nabbing the biggest turkey. Not about harassing your poor customer service representative to the breaking point. But many of you do seem to think that holidays are some kind of excuse for this type of behavior. I mean, good grief.  Yelling, screaming at other customers, screaming at workers just trying to do their jobs: holidays can really suck for someone in customer service. And yeah, we do chose to work there, because we have bills to pay and families to support, but just because we chose to work in a place does not give the patrons of that establishment the right to treat the workers like the crap they scraped off the bottom of their shoes.
   And of course, not all people are like that. So if you don't behave badly, if you treat people with respect, and deal with real problems that arise with common sense, then you aren't really part of this problem. But there are so many people that want to treat others badly. So for this holiday season, what I ask is that people think about others' feelings before they fly off the handle, that they treat people with the respect that all people deserve, and that they remember that this season is about fellowship, thankfulness, and rejoicing; not getting all that you can get and knocking down whoever you need to in order to get it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bad Habits And Typhoid Mary

   Don't you love it when you have a three day weekend and you have some plans to get shit done, to manage to finally check a few things off on the eight mile long to-do list that you have been trying to get to for months and then BAM!!! -- sickness. I cooked myself a pot of crockpot lima beans, some of the best things ever, and I got sooooo sick after eating them. I thought I had managed to give myself food poisoning. How did you manage to poison yourself with lima beans, you might ask. Well, I'm Southern, and while lima beans might seem like a nice healthy option, nothing remains healthy after a Southern person gets a hold of it. My lima beans were cooked with ham hock, to give them flavor, and I thought the ham hock had gone bad or something, because I was sick, bad sick, and my stomach felt like it was trying to escape.
   So I slumped around the house, whining, got on facebook, and whined, and did my usual 'curl up at the bottom of the shower', with lots of hot water, as a method of pain management, and I whined there too. There was an awful lot of whining going on, and I even went over to my sister's and whined as well. What can I say? I used to be all stoic and 'eff you pain', but I've gotten soft. Don't judge me.
    Needless to say, my to-do list was ignored. But as I slumped around the house, sick as a dog, unable to keep anything in my stomach, trying to find something, anything, that wouldn't come up, I realized that my daughter has a really, really bad habit. I've known this for a while, because I've been cleaning up after this habit for a while. but for some reason this habit just hit me as I fought this war with my body, trying desperately to force my digestive system to fall back in line. I went to get a package of saltine crackers, and I knew that we had some because the box was still in the cabinet, so I reached in for a package and found -- air. The box sitting there in the cabinet, bold as you please, was empty. Because my daughter had taken the last pack, but she left the box as a kind of momento: crackers were here. But now, they were gone. And I realized that this wasn't the first time either, because I started recalling empty hot pocket boxes, empty pop tart boxes, and a long, long list of other food items, whose empty boxes I have been culling from the cabinets, fridge, and freezer for months. Ack! How did I not nip this in the bud already? I am death on cleaning; I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! So anything that reeks of me having to clean up some one else's mess when they are perfectly able to doing said cleaning on their own is usually nipped in the bud. All I can do is repeat what I have already said: I'm getting soft. However, I have not gotten so soft that I am allowing this habit to continue. Now that I acknowledge the problem's existence, the problem will be eradicated.
   And the three day weekend, which wasn't really a weekend at all being as these days off fell on Tues-Thurs, passed with me believing that I had poisoned myself with my own cooking. Then came today (Friday), which was my first day back to work, and my daughter is being considerate and asking me if I am feeling better and I am telling her I do feel better and thanking her for asking. The next words out of her mouth are, "I hope I don't get sick. Kids in class have been getting that stomach flu all week."
Treacherous little Typhoid Mary. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

What's In A Name?

   I have so many friends who are expecting now! Babies everywhere; don't drink the water!!! Anyway, it's really great, but the thing is, until I had my own baby, I didn't know that I liked babies. I actively avoided all babies and if someone brought one near me, they would get rewarded with a panic-induced, "I don't want to hold that thing!!!" Not what a new mom wants to hear, let me tell you. But, as I have said, I have outgrown that fear.
  All these new moms are going through or have already gone through picking out names for their babies, and all this reminds me of the headache of picking a name for my daughter, which was a freaking war. Her father and I couldn't agree on any name at all. For a long time, we just argued back and forth. I originally wanted to name my daughter Regina. There was no sentimental reason for this name; this was a name I had just liked since sometime in my early teenage years (although, at this time, I was actually still a teenager - I got pregnant at 19) and I just thought that Regina was  a pretty name. He wanted to name our daughter Carrie. I didn't like Carrie, because I read too much Stephen King. I also didn't like Carrie because this is name of one of his female friends, a female friend that he even dated for a short time; although he didn't think that I knew this. I never made a big deal about it because I am not the overly jealous type and I just felt that obviously the dating part didn't work out, but just some advice -- dudes, it is NEVER EVER okay to try and name your daughter after some chick that you dated in the past. Sorry, not a good idea, and it did make me wonder how over his feelings he was towards her. Naming a kid after someone specific is a pretty big thing. And to be fair, if a chick did the same thing, you guys would be pretty pissed. That was one of our first big ass fights, and it ended with tears, but I did not back down. Looking at the state of what our relationship is now, I am beyond glad that I didn't back down.
   The compromise to that fight was that I would give up Regina, which he hated, if he would give up Carrie, which I hated. This left us trying to find other names. I didn't want something that was common, where she would go to school and there would be two or  three other girls with the same name in her class, but he would go for totally off-the-wall things like I didn't like at all, one of which being Raven. I didn't want to name my daughter Raven. My sister actually has a thing for ravens; they are her favorite birds ever, so it would have made sense for her to name her daughter raven (she didn't), but for me, I just didn't like the idea. I mean, why not name her flamingo or owl while we are at it? Ravens were not special to either of us, and I didn't like the idea of just picking something that had no meaning to either of us. If we were going to do that, why not just name her spoon or fork? That's how much the name Raven meant to me. We would just be picking some random word that held no meaning to us. Probably I was being too picky, but I didn't like the name, and you only get to name your child once. So you'd better like the name: that's how I feel.
   Also, we were only looking at girl names, which I guess pissed all of his family off, because we did not know the sex of the baby. I was determined that I was having a girl, but they were not able to verify this during the ultrasound. My daughter wouldn't uncross her legs, so they couldn't see if she had girl parts or boy parts, and we didn't know that she was really a girl until I actually pushed her on out. But I knew that I was having a girl. I guess that makes no sense, but I was only able to see myself with a baby girl, so by my extremely young and naive reasoning, this was a sign that my baby was a girl.
   By the time I actually gave birth, I had had a birthday and was twenty, but still, I was young, and I was stubborn as hell. I wanted a girl so I was having a girl, and that was final. I would actually be in tears when someone argued that my baby might be a boy. Of course, I am sure that I would have loved a boy just as much in the long run, but I had a girl, so that's that. And I digress, we were talking about finding names.
   Finally, I came up with the name Rowan. My daughter is indeed named after a tree. I am a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan, and that name has roots in both (particularly, Tolkien and Anne McCaffrey, both authors I admire), and I liked the idea of my daughter being named Rowan. The rowan tree is supposed to be repellent to evil forces.
I liked the meaning of the name and what a rowan tree represented and he liked some of the ties to mythology and such, so we agreed. Rowan was the only name that we even slightly agreed on, so I was surprised when his family put up such an opposition to the name. They hated it. I spent the last half of my pregnancy defending my choice of my daughter's name, but they were really hoping for a boy, so I think they only ever backed off because they figured that a boy would negate the name. Of course, Rowan is asexual, and can be used for a girl or boy... Anyway, my mom and sister never complained, but they were on the other side of the country, so though they supported my choice, they weren't really involved in the whole name war. The only person who really supported my choice of names was my daughter's father's grandmother. She also just supported my desire to have a girl, and rooted for a girl with me. She really meant so much to me. She's passed away now, but she is on that list of people in heaven that I want to see again.
   But this is why my daughter is named after a tree. And  the thing I learned from all my issues is that if someone
is rooting for a boy, then I root for a boy for them. Of course, they are gonna love a girl just as much, but why be all in their face about you think they are having a girl when they don't know yet and they want a boy? It isn't gonna change a damn thing, and pregnant women are under enough stress as it is. Also, I don't give negative opinions about names. A name is something for the mom and the dad to decide, not the mom and dad's friends or uncles or grandma's or whoever. I really went through my pregnancy feeling ganged up on and at war; the dreaded Name Wars. I'm not about to do that to someone else. The only time I ever really protested a name was when my sister told me she was gonna name her son 'Busaba Hoobear' and honestly, she said that shit to get a reaction from me in the first place. She likes to mess with me as much as I like to mess with her. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Turkey Time Is Coming!!!

   Now that Halloween is over, we can finally get on with business and prepare for Christmas... Well that seems to be the direction that all the retail businesses are going with, but I want Thanksgiving, dammit!! I love Thanksgiving. This holiday is all about being thankful for your blessings and EATING! The one holiday that revolves around the largest, most elaborate feast that you can manage. What is not to love? I love turkey and dressing, but so many people I know prepare non-traditional Thanksgiving meals that not liking turkey or not eating meat is nothing to stop you from celebrating. And no matter what you eat, we all need to pay a little more attention to our blessings and a little less attention to our misfortunes. So on that note, I have prepared a list of the things that I am most thankful for, just to get this blog into the correct holiday spirit.

  • I am thankful for my faith and beliefs, because even though sometimes I am awake at 3 a.m. worrying about things like The Conjuring and Paranormal Activity demons, my faith has given me strength to get through some of my darkest hours. 
  • I am thankful for my sister, because if I ever become targeted by some horrible demon, I have faith that she WILL CALL A PRIEST. I am also thankful for being pulled into every last drop of drama she can find, and for  her willingness to spend hours with me planning for the zombie apocalypse.
  • I am thankful for my daughter, who is happy and healthy, and whose many talents include running up the electric bill and over-dramatic dialog (she gets that talent from my sister.) She is also the best daughter ever, so it all evens out. 
  • I an thankful for my family, the only people on this planet who are as deranged and multi-personalitied as I am. (Apparently multi-personalitied is not actually a word, but all I can say about that is this: it's a word now.)
  • I am thankful for my family again, for tolerating me even though sometimes I am a smart-assed, over-opinionated know-it-all. And for accepting my obsessive fascination with zombies and obsessive fear of lice. 
  • I am thankful for my job; when so many people are finding themselves laid-off or shut down or whatever job-related drama that is going on, people will always need to buy food, and so cashiers will always be needed. 
  • I am thankful for my health insurance, which so far seems to be avoiding all these Obamacare horror stories (keep your fingers crossed for me on that one!!!) 
  • I am thankful for my niece and nephew, because I really enjoy seeing someone besides myself drive my sister batshit crazy.
  • I am thankful even for this cracked-out Dell, because without it, I would not be able to write this post, since my other computer UTTERLY FAILED ME.
  • I am thankful for my country. We have problems; point out a country that doesn't. At the end of the day, I am still proud to be an American. GOD BLESS AMERICA.
   I am really looking forward to my turkey day and hope that ya'll have a great Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

If You Are A Computer, Then I Am Your Angel Of Death

Arrgggggggggg! So I have had the new computer, the charmed, Windows 8 driven monstrosity , for barely a month, and I have killed it already. Not sure how. I was poking around online, and then the whole thing froze, and then shutdown, and now it'll turn on, but Windows 8 just seems to be gone, and since that was the operating system...
   I am not a computer wiz , not by a long shot. You know that saying, "God gives us obstacles?" I am technology's obstacle. That shit comes into my house, and I am gonna find a way to break it. Technology isn't very durable around me and often our little disagreements end in something's circuitry being fried and me scratching my head in pure bafflement.
   Since I managed to wreck that little Acer computer (unfortunately, a month is not my record, I once manage to destroy an HP in a week), I am back on the Dell, you know, the one that is all busted with the screen that is hanging on by a wire (thank goodness I didn't throw it out.) I have barely looked at my other computer, and at a later time, when I am more calm and not  thinking fondly of hammers, I will look at the Acer and see what I can manage to do myself. Last night when it broke, I was just exhausted, and at that time, the only feasible options where to actually get that hammer and bust that junker up beyond all repair, or to go to bed. Since the new computer is actually under warranty still, I didn't think the hammer was the option, so I went to bed. Since I went to be before my daughter, when I woke up at 3:30 a.m., every single light in the house was on. My daughter was snoozing merrily away in her bed, and the kitchen light was on, both hall lights were on, her bedroom light was one, the bathroom light was on, and both TVs were on. Good-bye $50 electric bill.... But I digress. We were not talking about my daughter's super power -- running up the electric bill -- we were talking about mine: the ability to destroy computer systems with a mere glance. Perhaps this ability would be of value if I were actually some kind of super hero or villain, but I have to tell you -- when you are just a single mom trying to pay some bills online, this is the worst superpower IN THE UNIVERSE.
   I am on a six day work stretch, and to top that off, I just have not been feeling 100% lately, so hunting down the warranty and the phone numbers, and then calling the customer service people, which I am sure you will all agree is always the most enjoyable, super-fun thing to do ever, will have to wait. I can't deal with this crap right now, and in the meantime, I have this Dell. This aggravating, slower-than-an-old-lady-on-a-non-motorized-wheelchair, and maybe I need to come to terms with the fact that this is just my speed when I am dealing with technology.  Or maybe I should just move deep into the mountains and become a luddite.
The Beast