Expect laughter! Expect learning! Expect lasting ideas!

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It wasn’t a new year’s resolution, but 2019 has turned out to be the “Year of the Friend” visits around the country. The only reason it happened is this: I invited myself. Ugh. I can hardly write about these impositions. Mom is, no doubt, rolling her eyes out loud at me, because people with manners just don’t do this. I’m a little sorry, but not a lot sorry, because I got to mix some biz with pleasure and spend time with really great friends.

My destinations included humans – and a few hounds – ages 4 weeks old to 94. The overall theme of these travels was, “If not now, when?” I’ve learned that with major miles and busy lifestyles among us, most people won’t outright invite others. I really don’t either, really. We all just assume, “They should know they’re welcome.”  They haven’t met my mother, “Not until you’re invited, Young Lady!”

When imposing on others, I tried hard to abide by these ten tips. (My hosts may be rolling their own eyes after reading my intentions below…!)

  1. Offer a few dates you could visit. Fortunately, I have honest friends who tell me when it’s inconvenient to visit.
  2. Limit your stay to two days. I thought it was Mom’s rule, but just learned it’s not.   “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”   Benjamin Franklin
  3. Be a good guest. This includes bed made and room(s) tidied daily, particularly the bathroom. ESPECIALLY the bathroom.
  4. Be gracious. Come bearing gift(s) or follow up promptly. If there’s a young child in the home, take a book or tiny toy. (Side bar: just found out that I mailed my thank you note to Christine and Family to Debbie’s house.  Oh, Bobbe…)
  5. Be cooperative. If there is a 6:45 p.m. dinner reservation, do whatever it takes to be ready…FIRST.  Thou shall not wait on you!
  6. Be agreeable. They want to go bowling and eat pizza. You’d hoped for TopGolf and Tacos. Toughen up Taco Head. Go with it.
  7. House rules rule! I noted in 75% of the homes where I stayed. (Okay, 3 of 4) shoes were left by the door. Once inside, it’s best to ask before you tromp through their house.
  8. Assess your pajamas. For some of you that may even mean, “GET SOME PAJAMAS!” Perhaps you sleep in bikini briefs, boxers or bare bottom. This doesn’t mean everyone does. Cover up buttercup. Oh, and while dressing, SHUT. THE. DOOR. You never know who might pop in. Awkward!
  9. Spring for a meal. They’ll say, “No!” You say, “Yes!” Personally, I hate food funding fights, so I’ve gotten quite sly about handing off my credit card to the waiter unnoticed. I figure it’s the least I can do in exchange for lodging. #needtips?
  10. Be self-sufficient, on both arrival and departure.  This may include Lyft, Uber or car rental. Your hosts and hostesses appreciate not having to fetch you, although some will insist. On the other end, I’ve found that my friends are more than happy to return me to the airport. Hmmmm, what’s that fishy smell? Oh, ha-ha, It’s me! Bye, bye!
  11. BONUS TIP: Board Bob the Beagle. Don’t even think of showing up with extra people or pets, unless encouraged. That is just rude. Ruff ruff!

My friend, Christine, said something which made me feel much better about inviting myself, “How can you invite yourself if the door is always open?” I like that philosophy. A lot. Hear that one, Mom? Is this new age hospitality?

Thank you, thank you, from Denver to Dallas to Charlotte. There was a common denomination among you all: loads of laughter. My emotional tank is now full to the brim. Thanks for the fill-ups, Friends! You all were grand hosts, I can only hope I was as grand of a guest. Bw

 

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As some of you saw on social media, I actually went out Saturday night. That in itself is unusual. The fact that it was St. Pat’s Eve made it improbable. Yet, I went. I had to wear teal, which is the closest color to green that I own. I do have a kelly green wristlet, compliments of Mary Beth McGee, but it was a bit dressy for the bar.

My Hannibal pal, Lisa, told me at T-minus two hours, that The Scott-Free project was the playing at On the Rail. After an hour and a half of  debating,

“Go, don’t go, go, don’t go,” I went.

Lyft dropped me at the door. It’s the best service in town. Call me vain, but I feel like a celebrity when I get out of the Nissan or Toyota. On the other hand, maybe it’s not vanity, but intelligence: smart enough not to drive on a c-rrrrazy night like this and lucky enough to not have to jockey parking places. Also, Quincy is small enough that your wait is minimal…if they can get through the four-way stop at 18th & Broadway, that is. It’s worth every penny. Both ways.

I figured that it had been several decades since I’d experienced St. Pat’s revelry. Here’s what I learned:

1. Everybody’s Irish on a bar-crawl.

2. Tu-tus are not just for dance recitals anymore.

3. Green beer’s not bad.

4. Nobody drinks green wine or vodka. (But couldn’t we?)

5. Every song the band played was by an Irish group: this included, Credence Clearwater Revival, The Eagles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Nobody chose to prove them wrong. Who cared? The music by The Scott-Free Project is always excellent.

I asked Scott what the name of his project meant. He explained it to me:

“It means that when I used to be in a band, we would all have to agree on what songs to play. Now that I am rolling solo, or with one other musician, I am free to play what I want.”

What a great approach, right? Why don’t we all be our own free projects and do what makes us happy(ier)? It means that you’ve got to be bolder, gutsier and riskier. And when bar-hoppers request songs that you don’t know, just play them something they’ll enjoy just as much. My personal favorite is “Bathroom on the Right.” Also known as “Bad Moon on the Rise”. And what was REALLY funny, the bathroom IS on the right! (Make that stage right…)

It’s not always easy being the headliner. They’re musicians, comedians, and overall crowd pleasers. I have no idea how much musicians make for three hours in our local bars, but I sure hope you tip them on your way out. They earn every cent. Just like your Lyft driver.

Here’s hoping you had a spirited St. Patty’s holiday, when everything turns green. What a perfect time of year for a much needed holiday, even for those of us who are slightly Irish, if not at all.

O’Bobbe

 

 

 

4f7ff044-0642-4eef-b058-b3ac4e119e08We’ve been hearing this phrase a lot lately. It’s a handy one. It can tolerate any pronoun:

That’s on me.

That’s on you.

That’s on us.

That’s on them.

I think this phrase be used a lot or a little. It depends. If we’re taking ownership in something we’ve done that doesn’t turn out particularly well. Well, that’s on me. I need to own it. 

Before slinging this phrase around, perhaps the best idea  is to turn the phrase  into a question “That’s on who?”  (For you grammar gurus, I suppose it’s more correct to say, “That’s on whom?” Whichever, it is and right now, I’m getting confused about the wrong thing, so let’s move on, shall we?)

If someone is trying to throw blame on you for something, they might say, “That’s on you!”  If it’s true, then it’s going to hit right where it hurts. Why? Because truth is hard. Truth can hurt. But the truth is the truth is the truth. And that’s the truth. Or as our Nick would’ve said it as a little kid, without front teeth, “That’s the troof!” And that’s okay. We need to hear a little more troof!

The problem with hearing the troof is that we become so damn defensive. It’s a natural response.  If we don’t go down the defensive road, I know that for myself, I will just crumble into a puddle of woe. Woe goes like this: 

“I’m so stupid. I’m such a loser. I should’ve known better.” Yeah, let’s be self-defeating. That’s so much more fun! This is because someone has just validated what I’ve known all along. And the troof can feel like crap. So, be careful before you sling around “That’s on you.”

However, if we’re to correct our actions and become better humans, then it’s important to know what troof feels like. I think I really like using this version (troof), because it makes me laugh. And maybe we all need to do that a little bit more when it’s on us. Bw

After 67 years, my parents had been split up, not by divorce, but by different aging conditions. 

While there was no question about the strength of our friendship, it was confirmed many times by Michele’s willingness to accompany me on my visits. 

There are two kinds of humans in this world: those who can deal with the elderly and those who cannot. Now a successful banker, Michele had CNA experience a couple of decades before this. 

CNAs must deal with the messiest of patients and there was nothing that could violate Michele! 

At this time of the year, I’ll never forget when my ninety year old mom was in the hospital one winter, three times in six weeks, for recurring pneumonia. Her diagnosis was, “pneumonia and failure to thrive.” Her prognosis read, “Poor”. She wouldn’t eat or drink and it felt like the beginning of the end. 

One Sunday morning, Michele offered to go with me to the hospital. Very few people assume the invitation is always open. I would never ask anyone if they wanted to go, except a family member. 

Mom had just had a bath and was ready for a breakfast that she wouldn’t eat. Her hair, thin from aging and wet from her bath, was plastered against her small head. It was unsettling. 

There were two basic things to do: get food and liquid in her and set that hair! Michele coaxed her kindly and fed her easily from the front, while I put her hair up in Velcro curlers, from the back. It was a two-pronged approach and quite a vision, I’m sure. 

Perhaps it was because of Michele’s kind, gentle easy nature with Mom, orr maybe it was the ever-present sparkle in her eyes, but it was the loveliest gesture a friend could offer Mom and me.

We see this aging parent scenario unfold hundreds and thousands of times. Let this be a positive lesson to us all that we, too, can dish up kindness and assistance with a spoon or a fork. And a little Dippity-Do! 

Thanks, Michele. LYLAS!

 

FullSizeRender (1)With what shopping you have remaining, consider shopping local. Yes, I love the ease of Amazon too. It’s great not fighting crowds and to have doorstep deliveries in a day or two. Here is a clip of our dinner time table talk from this weekend. It gave me pause and I hope it will you too. At least, think about it before opening the Amazon app. If we stop shopping local, our stores don’t collect sales tax and they don’t make bank.

In our community, we’ve watched four major big box stores fold: Best Buy, Bergner’s (a/k/a Yonkers in the east), Sears and Penneys. K-Mart is next. I’m not a fan of big box stores. IKEA gives me Vertigo, it’s so overwhelming. But, whether large or small, merchants employ people. People make money. People spend money. Repeat. 

With stores -big or small – already closed or those facing the possibility, the city and state loses necessary income from tax collection. I’m no economist, but I know enough to understand that city services (think: garbage collection, infrastructure, emergency services) depend on taxes. 

Garbage in – garbage out. Think back to your ‘hoods last garbage pick-up day.  Ours was Friday after Thanksgiving. Everyone had tons of bagged crap. What if that morning the city guys said, “No more garbage collection. Out of money. Out of gas. Out of biz.”  Visions of third world streets flash in my brain. Hi Willard. Yuck

Ding-dong. It’s not Girl Scout cookie time yet. It’s the neighbor stopping by to tell you your chimney’s on fire. Who ya gonna call? Firemen are all taking naps, because , well, you know why. (See #1 above. Same problem, different department.)

On Dancer, On Prancer…  Sunday night, our neck of the woods got 6-8 inches of white stuff. Yes, it was pretty, but driving to work on Monday would have been easier with a sleigh and reindeer or a pack of dogs. But the snowplows are idle and the only salt around is in a shaker on your stove. 

Spring has sprung. After the snow and the ice, often what remains are the potholes. Typically, this is when the city and state crews start screwing up traffic and fix our streets, bridges and highways. While it’s annoying to be delayed or detoured, it’s worth the wait. Unless the wait is a while. A lonnnnnnnnggggggggg while. Like forever.

The shopping model has changed and continues to do so. If you don’t like the clerk in the craft department, just order your ModPodge from Amazon, right? You broke your ankle in a pothole and can’t get out. Amazon is perfect, for this scenario too. I LOVE EASY, TOO! But I also know, something has to change before our Mom & Pop shops flop. It won’t be long before online shopping is taxed to the max so that the local governments can continue operations. That day is coming and it probably needs to get here fast. 

In the meantime, when you can’t get out, call a friend. Or call me. I LOVE shopping with other people’s money! I’m not a certified personal shopper, but I’d be happy to help. I’ve gotten good training from my dad who delivered purses, shoes and hosiery anytime we were in the car.

Local business is the lifeblood of our communities. Keep it flowin’ now, won’t you do your part? Bw

   

          

DUCKING CATS & DOGS

 

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Jeff and I drank coffee Sunday morning. Lily White, the black Lab, lounged by the sliding door.

”Meowwww,” said a cat somewhere. Lily barked and pawed the door to go outside. In she came, a moment later, her search discontinued.

“Meowwwww…” we heard from the front of the house. Lily barked. So did Jeff.

“Is there a cat in this house?”

This surprised me that he’d heard anything at all, because he often doesn’t.

“Nooooooooooo.  It’s outside the front. I’ll check.”

But cats scat fast. We resumed coffee and reading. 

Sunday was one of those “get stuff done and finish tired” days. Jeff left for work and onto the duck camp. 

7:30 p.m.: “Meowwwww.”

“Holy baldy! There IS a cat in this house!” How’s this even possible with an 85 pound hound in residence? Okay, she’s old. Her patrol isn’t what it was, but when the pizza guy comes, Lily goes bananas. I frantically searched the house. 

There, staring at me, all comfy-like on the basement barstool, was the neighbor’s cat. I’m not sure who hissed first. Since this house was built (‘71), there’s NEVER been a cat served at this bar before.

It ran for safety, right under the back bedroom bed. I broom-poked it. It didn’t budge. Reality check: this cat had been in this house since morning. No, wait! It was yesterday. It all returned… 

4:00 p.m.: Saturday, after work and errands, I threw the slider open for Lily. I changed into walking clothes. Being a nice day, I left the slider open. BIG mistake. Apparently, the cat entered. 

I recognized the this cat and looked across the street to the neighbors. They weren’t home I phoned a friend, Michele. She has cats.

“HELP! I can’t get a cat out of my house!” 

Michele laughed.

“Not funny. What can I do?

“Do you have any cat food?” Michele asked.

“Now, why in the hell would I have cat food? What about dog food?”

“Tuna?”

“Yes! We have tuna.”

I served the tuna bowl, hoping to coax the cat out from the bed.

“How’s your day?” Jeff texted.

“Great, but got a cat in the house!”

“What cat?”

“Neighbor’s.”

“GET THAT DUCKING CAT OUT OF THE HOUSE!”

It was almost funny he’d hit “d” instead of “f”. Almost.

“I’M TRYING!”

“Figure out where it pooped and peed!”

“I’M AWARE!” 

I texted the neighbors, who were minutes away.  Soon, Sara (not her real name)  raced over and on her pregnant belly, peered under the bed. I couldn’t recall if baby bellies should do this maneuver.

“C’mere Ryan! C’mon Buddy.” She kissed the air, coaxing the cat. “He’s probably scared,” she said. So was I, of ensuing messes.

Finally, Ryan crawled out and into her arms. She apologized profusely, ran Ryan home, then returned to help search for his deposits.

“Nice watchdogging!” I growled at Lily.

“Are you allergic to cats?” Sara asked.

“No, we’re just not cat people.”

(Don’t judge us; we won’t judge you.) We discussed that they try keeping Ryan closer to home and off our deck, which drives Lily nuts. Through all of this, I remain puzzled as to why people own cats, only to let them run amok 24/7. As I said, I’m a dog people, but I’m open to explanation.

No nuggets or puddles were discovered while searching. Still, we’d launder all bedding. She offered to have carpets cleaned. This helped; a CRNA student (nurse anesthetist) was moving into the bedroom for a five-week rotation.

Soon, bedding and carpets were restored to clean…just in case. Abby, our student, arrived the following Sunday. 

Upon entering, she asked, “Is that your cat out there?” He’s baaaack.

Worn out from a week of cleaning, straightening and searching, I started and couldn’t stop laughing long enough to tell Abby the story.

In an ironic event, for Halloween, our work staff decorated yellow tee-shirts with favorite emojis. I helped a co-worker, who was busy studying. 

“Which emoji do you want me to make?”

“The grinning cat!” She said.

But, of course. And I did- make it. And it was – grinning. And the slider will stay shut, because that’s what ducking screen doors are for. I hope your Halloween was as happy as the grinning cat emoji! Bw

/Bobbe White/10.21.18/

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Recently, Jenna, my daughter-in-law, and I popped into Pappion Artistry, a petite New Orlean’s area gallery. The artist, Christina Pappion brings New Orleans culture to life through whimsical painting. She accents certain pieces with gold flecks that makes them fancy. Christina greeted us. We browsed and read publicity pieces hung on walls and easels around the shop. In addition to painting on coasters and canvas, she paints on football cleats. Not just any old stinky, muddy cleats, New Orleans Saints’ cleats. 

Nosy (me) leaned into her studio. While she painted, I asked about the cleats. “It’s a weird canvas, but I researched and figured it out.” She literally creates masterpieces on cleats. Pappion learns the foundation/cause each player supports and incorporates the theme onto the boot (e.g. Brandon Coleman (Alzheimer’s Association) and The Mark Ingram Foundation (Children of Incarcerated Parents).

The Saints wear these decorated cleats during one designated game a season, they named “Cleats for a Cause.”  The cleats are auctioned afterwards to raise (a lot of) money for the respective organizations. It’s the ONLY game Saints are allowed to deviate from their standard uniforms. 

Naturally, we asked about Drew Brees’ cleats. Not surprisingly, he commissions his own artist but, and this is a BIG but, Drew’s wife, Brittany, contacted Christina, after seeing her “Streetcar” at a fundraiser. She was disappointed she didn’t bid enough to buy it. She had Christina paint another streetcar painting and asked her to paint Drew into the picture for a Christmas gift. (See Drew at the end of this article.)

Christina assumed delivery would be an exchange at McDonald’s parking lot or somewhere neutral, but it was delivered to the Brees’ home.  While balancing a baby on her hip, Brittany wrote the check. She then asked Christina to help her hide it. They ran around the house, then up to the second floor to explore potential hiding places. Holy baldy! Christina was running through Drew Brees’ house!

Many years since, Brees’ has commissioned Christina to paint streetcars, incorporating their growing family. One year, she requested the extended family of thirty be featured. “Thirty people! All I had to go on were family photos, texted photos or social media. I didn’t even know how tall people were, in comparison to Drew, so I painted him seated!” Somehow, she managed to nail it.

Pappion shared other victories with us, but also failures, such as rubber boots (i.e. Hunter brand) on which she painted for $200 for a Kentucky Derby dignitary. “These boots were stunning!  Until the woman stepped into the rain and onto the race track (not to race, but to pose for photos, haha). The design got wet and slipped right off those boots! All that remained of the $200 artwork was colorful mud. I was mortified.”  UGH.

“I cried for two weeks after that disaster. I was sure I’d never work again. But the drippy boot buyer was gracious and commissioned me for further work. I couldn’t believe it!” 

Another low point was a large painting for Mrs. Benson, widow of Saints’ owner Tom Benson. First attempt: botched and tossed aside. Take two: flopperino. The third time was NOT the charm. “I could not deliver, but Mrs. Benson’s secretary insisted it would be fine. It was a mess, but she insisted. Amazingly Mrs. Benson LOVED my mess and wrote me a big, BIG, HUGE check. I showed my family the check while dancing around chanting, “We’re going to Disney World!” My kids joined in the dance. And we went. Best trip ever!

My family thinks I’m a busy-body, talking to random people like this. In fact, I’m pretty sure they roll there eyes out loud at me a lot, as in, “Oh noooooooo, there she goes again. We’ll never get out of here!” I can’t help it. People are interesting. Talk to them. Ask about them. Learn about them. You never know what treasures you can discover. In honor of meeting an artist phenom, I purchased four coasters, representing the four major food groups we consumed during my stay at Nick and Jenna’s in Louisiana: shrimp, oyster, lobster and red fish.

Check out the artist at: http://www.pappionartistry.com

Check out Drew Brees and the Family with Streetcar below. How cool is that? bw

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