Not a Latte!

Sometime around mid-August, one of the fellows on the sports talk show that I listen to mentioned to his partner that he had seen a pumpkin spice latte advertised. His question to his friend was this: Was it too early for pumpkin spice season?

Given that the fellow he asked is brash and outspoken and, well, basically kind of crabby, I waited in gleeful anticipation for him to begin his rant on All Things Pumpkin Spice. To my surprise, instead of a rant, he said he was happy as could be that he could finally have a pumpkin spice latte as they were one of his favorite things in the world. He spoke with great delight and absolutely no embarrassment.

In my opinion, he should have been embarrassed. For heaven’s sake, it was mid-August. We should still be thinking about iced chai tea, or — even better — ice cold gin-and-tonics. Pumpkin Spice Latte, indeed. Harumpf.

One of my faithful readers told my sister Jen that she was eagerly awaiting Nana’s Whimsies’ annual pumpkin spice rant. Personally, I think being accused of hating pumpkin spice is hugely unfair. I don’t dislike either pumpkin or spice. In fact, pumpkin pie is among my favorite things about Thanksgiving. (Which, I might add, is in November and not August.)

There are, however, two things of concern about the pumpkin spice obsession as observed by this blogger: 1) Why does it have to begin so early that most pumpkins are still just little squashes in the garden unready to be eaten? Let’s drink lemonade instead. 2) What happened to apple spice popularity? C’mon people. There is nothing better than an apple crisp or an apple pan dowdy. (I had to include the latter treat because whenever I talk about apple desserts, Bill suggests I make an apple pan dowdy. I don’t make an apple pan dowdy because I haven’t the foggiest idea of what it is, and I’ll bet he doesn’t either. Man, that guy knows how to yank my chain.)

I must also add a third concern: For all pumpkin spice things that sound reasonable, there is another that is wholly ridiculous. Take Quaker Oats’ pumpkin-spice flavored instant oatmeal. If I liked oatmeal, I might like it to be pumpkin-spiced…..

I don’t, however, want pumpkin-spice flavored Spam…..

Seriously, Spam is wrong. Pumpkin-spice flavored Spam is a sin. God himself must be thinking, if I meant for Spam to have a pumpkin spice twist, I would have made Hawaii famous for pumpkins instead of pineapples. While we’re at it, I don’t want pineapple-flavored Spam either. In fact, I don’t want Spam at all.

Or, while I wouldn’t necessarily choose it, I don’t cringe at the notion of pumpkin-spiced hand soap…..

But pumpkin-spiced deodorant? Seriously?…..

I would rather smell like I played outdoor basketball in Arizona temperatures without a follow-up shower than smell like I’m holding a pumpkin-spice donut underneath my armpits.

What are you people thinking?

My sincerest apologies to the lowly apple. And now I’m off to make an apple pan dowdy.

Money Train

Yesterday afternoon, Bill and I made a Costco run. On the way home, we stopped at an ATM outside of our bank. (This post is riveting so far, isn’t it?) Anyhoo, as we drove home, Bill commented that the ATM gave him two fifty dollar bills as part of his cash. He was somewhat disgruntled, as I always am when that happens to me, because the fact is that many places won’t take a bill larger than a twenty.

“Well, as the daughter of a small business owner, I understand why they hate large bills,” I said. “Small businesses covet their ones and fives and tens so that they can give change to the bulk of their customers.”

But it got me to thinking how the retail world has changed so much. I’m not even talking about the fact that so many people shop online these days instead of making their way to their nearest Macy’s or Old Navy. What I AM talking about is the fact that most of us pay with credit cards instead of cash.

Actually, that isn’t fair for me to say, because I’ve done absolutely no research on how people pay for goods. I’m basing that on me, me, me alone. I almost never pay for anything with cash. It’s the points I earn from my credit card company, donchaknow. I use them for Christmas shopping.

I’m also banking it on the fact that I have literally seen cashiers look like a deer in the headlights on the rare occasions that I hand them bills for my purchase. They are simply stumped. I’ve gotten past my former disappointment that the vast majority of young retail workers would be unable to make change if the cash register didn’t tell them exactly how much change they should hand to their customer. Time moves on, my friends. Cursive is no longer necessary because exactly no one hand writes a single thing. Adding and subtracting in your head is becoming old-fashioned as well, because who doesn’t have a calculator on the phone they indubitably have.

And I’m showing my own old-fashionedness by using the word indubitably instead of undoubtedly. You’ve got to dig in your heels at some point.

I learned two specific things from my mother as she trained me to work in the front end of the bakery. Well, I learned many, many things, but here are two that have always stuck in my mind: I learned how to make change in my head without use of a calculator. I could even figure out how to give change if the total came to, say,  $8.27 and they gave me a ten dollar bill and two pennies. The second thing I learned was that your bills always face the same direction. I think it had something to do with making it easier and safer to count out bills. All I know is very often, even if I get my cash handed to me by a bank teller, the bills are all facing different directions.

As an aside, I wonder if anyone besides grocery stores even keep coins in their cash registers? I learned from my boss at my old Safeway job that you never open a tube of coins until the very last coin is gone. That way you don’t end up with a cash register of pennies. Pennies. You know, those things you see laying on the ground because they’re worth so little no one bothers to pick them up. Except me.

As for Bill’s problem, the answer is simple. Don’t get $200 cash at an ATM. Get $175. No fifties!

Linked to Grand Social.

Saturday Smile: Betcha Can’t Buy Just One

The other day, my sister Bec sent a text that made me laugh and nod my head at the same time. According to her text, the Washington Nationals were playing the Minnesota Twins in Minnesota — at Target Field. The man announcing the game made a remark — something like “The Twins must be rich because whenever you go into Target to buy toiletries, you end up buying furniture.” She was amused because IT’S SO TRUE.

And I lived out that truth the other day. I was driving by our neighborhood Target and remembered that I needed a loaf of the bread that Bill likes. When I left the store, here’s what I had purchased…..

Yes, that’s a coffee maker and a waffle maker that you see, along with many other things. A hundred and twenty dollars worth of things. The only thing I can say in my defense is that, as you see, I did actually also buy the bread.

Have a great weekend.


Friday Book Whimsy: Whistling Past the Graveyard

Now tell me, who wouldn’t be drawn to a book entitled Whistling Past the Graveyard? I mean, is it a supernatural tale involving ghosts? Is it one of the thriller novels that have become so popular? Is it a gory mystery story?

The novel, written by Susan Crandall, a midwestern author who understands the mindset of a 9-year-old girl, is none of the above. Instead, it is a coming-of-age story that convincingly demonstrates what the world was like in the 1960s, when civil rights hadn’t yet reached the southern states.

The story’s narrator is young Starla Claudelle whose mother deserted her as an infant and ran away to Nashville to become a star. Starla’s father works far away in the oil fields of Louisiana, and visits Starla as often as possible. Starla lives with her mean-spirited grandmother who seems to resent her very existence.

One day, facing what Starla believes will lead her to be sent to reform school, she runs away without a word to anyone — even her very best friend. She hasn’t gone very far when she is picked up by a young African American woman named Eula who agrees to drive her to Nashville to find her mother. To Starla’s surprise, in the back seat of the car is a white infant wrapped in a blanket.

Eula takes Starla back to her house to gather supplies for the baby before they take off for Nashville. They face Eula’s abusive husband, and this leads to that. Before they know it, the three are running away from trouble towards Nashville.

I read the book very carefully, waiting to pounce upon the author for writing dialogue and thoughts inconsistent with those of a 9-year-old, but couldn’t find any. Though sometimes I wanted to take that girl over my knee for her impulsive and often dangerous behavior, she remains true to her 9-year-old self throughout the story.

As you can image, things don’t go well in Nashville. There are a lot of lessons learned, both by Starla and by the kind and sweet-natured Eula. The ending was satisfying and true to the rest of the story.

I enjoyed this book very much, and will read more by the author.

Here is a link to the book.


Thursday Thoughts

Never Forget
Eighteen years ago yesterday (can that really be?), we all woke up and began our day as though it was like any other day. It wasn’t. I arrived at work around 7 a.m. For reasons I can’t recall, I telephoned Bill shortly after I arrived. We talked about whatever I called for, and then he said, “Have you heard that a plane flew into one of the Twin Towers in New York?” I remember being stunned by that news. But before I could say anything, he said, “Oh my God, another plane just flew into the other tower.” And so our day, and weeks, and months, and frankly, years began. Because nothing has ever been the same since. Not really. Terrorists struck other places, but not the United States. As the day — and the horrors — progressed, Americans — and really the whole world — set out on a new era. Everyone said NEVER FORGET —  that was the buzzword of the days ahead. I don’t think anyone has. There is not a September 11 that goes by that I don’t cry for at least some of the day. And that’s without watching the tributes on mass media. God bless America.

More Beezness
As I have documented in the past, our 13-year-old granddaughter is a beekeeper. A month or so ago, she and her dad (her fellow apiarist) gathered and bottled their honey…..

It’s as delicious this year as it was last year. This past weekend, Dagny (who is an entrepreneur as well as an apiarist) set up a lemonade honey stand, and she and her sister Maggie Faith began the big sell. This sweet team made a total of $370 in two hours!…..




September is an R Month
I have been so hungry for oysters on the half-shell. So the other night, I convinced Bill that we should go to a neighborhood restaurant that offers a fabulous happy hour featuring lots of different fish and shellfish, including oysters at a buck a piece. It wasn’t a hard sell, because Bill likes them as much as I. Oysters are supposed to be more delicious in months that include an R. These certainly were…..


It’s Murder
I recently wrote a blog post about my television binge watching habit, and mentioned Midsommer Murders in particular. I want to alert my readers that to my chagrin, this program is being eliminated from Netflix’s offerings as of October 1, 2019! Yikes. I better get going. I’m only on Series 13, and there are 19 series. Gotta go!


The Last Frontier

Dear Frontier Airlines:

How are you? I am fine, and hope you are the same. I just wanted to alert you to something: You are kicking my ass. Quite frankly, if it were at all possible, I would never fly on your airline again, no matter what kind of cute animal with an adorable name is on the tail of the plane.

While I’m not Steve Jobs, I am familiar with online shopping and other activities. You know, activities like making airline reservations. After all, Amazon and I are in a fully committed relationship. If I’m looking for a package of safety pins, I order them from Amazon. In fact, if I’m not sure what kind of safety pins I want or how many I should order, I can peruse Amazon’s website without tearing out my hair and easily make a decision.

Here’s the thing, Frontier Airlines. All I want to do is make airline ticket reservations for Bill and I to fly to see our grandsons and their mothers in Vermont. Oh, and I want to use Bill’s frequent flyer miles. You see, over the years, he accumulated many miles faithfully using your crappy credit card, just as you urged us to do. Seventy-seven thousand miles, in fact. But when I went on your website, it turns out that you charge a premium to use miles to fly to Burlington, VT, and back to Denver. In fact, you require 40,000 miles for each of us for a round trip. Plus some extra cashola out of our pockets.

Now, I understand and support the fact that you can require us to use as many miles as you deem fit. There probably aren’t people falling over each other to get to Burlington, VT, though they would be if they could see how cute our grandsons are. See…..

Anyhoo, the problem — at least in part — is that, see above, Bill only has 77,000 miles. I, however, have an additional 24,000 miles. It seems as though there ought to be a way to combine those without having the mind of Alan Turing. We do, after all, share a bed every night of the week, and consider ourselves family.

And maybe there is a possibility of combining miles. The thing is, you see, your website, well, SUCKS. In fact, I got so frustrated with trying to figure out HOW to figure it out that I stooped to CALLING THE CUSTOMER SUPPORT NUMBER.

Hahahahahahahahaha. As if you could actually get to a human. Sometimes I wonder whether I would be better off saying I speak Spanish, because I am more likely to understand Spanish than I am to get the answer to my question from your website.

“I’m done!” I yelled angrily to Bill. “We’re going to AAA.”

Love, Kris


Dear AAA:

I couldn’t possibly love you more. I want to contact Pope Francis to recommend William Holt from the DTC AAA office for sainthood. I was surprised (and secretly pleased) that William seemed to be as confounded by Frontier’s website as I. But he was an actual human that I didn’t have to yell REPRESENTATIVE into the telephone to access. And he was patient and kind and even though he had to type in Bill’s Frontier password somewhere in the neighborhood of 78 times, I’m pretty sure he isn’t going to use it to make plane reservations for he and his entire family to fly to Cancun, Mexico. Plus, I don’t think he’d want to fly Frontier anyway, what with them laying off his father without severance and all. And even if he did, I think he deserves it!

AAA, you are AWESOME.

Love, Kris

Lefty Loosey

When Bill and I went on our big adventure in Europe in 2008, we drove over 6,000 miles in the three months we traveled. We drove through six countries — Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and Austria. And believe me, when I say “we”, I mean Bill, because he drove every single solitary mile of the trip. I simply pointed out everything he was doing wrong.

We had some interesting experiences, including what we coined “the wall of death” in Italy whereby the cement blocks dividing the lanes going one direction from the lanes going the other direction were literally inches from the side of the car as we drove. We were on the autobahn where cars raced past us going who knows how many kilometers per hour, passing us like we were standing still. There were inexplicable road traffic signs and roads so narrow that two people could barely pass one another when walking, much less driving.

Still, the driving didn’t bother Bill nearly as much as did driving in Great Britain some 15 years earlier. He did pretty well in Britain, all things considered; still, I don’t think he ever quite got comfortable navigating the roads which were opposite of what he was used to. As you well know, In Great Britain, you drive on the left side of the road and on the right side of the car. In other words, what my dad would call Ass Backwards. It took everything Bill had to make himself look right before he looked left.

I’m terrifically tuned into which side of the car the steering wheel is placed now that I am binge-watching Midsommer Murders. As many times as I have watched (I’m on Season 12), I still want to scream at the chief detective inspector to tell him that he is heading to the wrong side of the car when he is in a hurry to chase a bad guy.

The other day I began wondering why Americans drive on the right side of the road rather than the left like their British friends. Were we just determined to do things differently than our friends across the pond? Did our forefathers drive their buggies on the right side just to piss off the Redcoats? So I looked it up because you can find anything on the internet.

To my surprise, the answer is that at one time, almost everybody rode on the left side of the road. However, the reason for this was that people were on horseback, and they wanted to have their weapon handy to protect themselves. Because most people were (and are) right-handed, that meant that the horses and riders would ride on the left side, keeping their weapons in their right hands. Tough luck for the lefties.

Years passed, and suddenly it was the 1700s. People now drove horse-drawn wagons. In the beginning, there were no drivers’ seats in the wagons, and drivers sat on the left horse, freeing his right hand to hold the whip. Since he was on the left side, others passed the wagons on the left. I’m not sure why; maybe so they could flip off the driver for moving so slowly. Early road rage.

As such, most countries made the change for good. Since Great Britain still has their barristers and solicitors and judges wear powder wigs, it comes as no surprise that they have been reluctant to make this change. And likely never will.

By the way, I saved Bill’s life when we were walking in London. He looked to the left and began walking. I pulled him back to the curb as a car raced by from the right.