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All posts for the month March, 2014

The Overnight Get-Away

Published March 30, 2014 by mindfulofchatter

lodge

 

Luke and I had a fun little over night get away. Last year, Luke did some work for trade and received some coupons for various and assorted things. One was an over night stay at a local lodge. This included vouchers towards a room, dinner and breakfast. This meant we could scoot off for the weekend without it costing us an arm and a leg. And maybe a finger or toe or two.

Luke made the reservations. He got a room with a whirl-pool tub and fireplace! This sounded so nice, and a little romantic to boot. After such a marvelous birthday last week, this seemed like the perfect add-on. We were both looking forward to a mini-vacation!

This room goes for $349 a night. That is a lot of money for a hotel room for one night. At least it is in my book. We checked in and headed off the find our room. The room was pretty nice. The fireplace was set up and ready to light. All Luke had to do was click the lighter wand and set the kindling a flame. In not time flat, we had a nice little fire crackling away.

Now, I want to stop right here for moment and explain a couple of things. Yes, I am going to complain about a room I stayed in for free. Why? Because the room is a $349 + room on a normal basis. If we had been paying for it, I would have been angry and disappointed. And also because a lot of the things we found with this room are things one finds in almost EVERY hotel room one may stay at in the U.S. (I can’t really speak for Europe, as my European experiences are very few). And I can’t figure out why they continue to build hotel rooms this way! I mean, really guys, there are better ways to do this stuff!

We opened the door and flicked on the lights. I said ‘We flicked on the lights’. Lights. Lights? Even with the lights on, the room was dim. As seems to be the custom here in the U.S., the light bulbs were a blistering 15 watts. Maybe 10. I don’t know for certain, but I DO know they did little to shed light on the room. Even with both sets of overhead lights on, you couldn’t see well. The bedside lamps were better, only because they were 3 way lights and could be made brighter. Why is it we can’t have real lights in hotel rooms? Especially at $349 a night! How much profit am I going to use up with a 60 watt bulb? Better yet, why don’t hotels use the compact florescence bulbs in their over head lights? What are you people trying to hide?

The wall heater/air condition was in the traditional hotel placement. Right next to the bed, under a window. This means whomever sleeps on that side of the bed has air blowing on them all night, not to mention listening to the thing cycle on and off all night long. Even with all the vents pointed as far away from me as far as possible, I still had air blowing on me all night.  Why do you builders do this ??!!??? There are plenty of place to put those wall units that are NOT next to the bed! Above the balcony door, above the entry door, the wall on the other side of the room to name a few. There is a remote for the TV, so get a wall unit with a remote and put the darn things up over the doors where they won’t bother the people trying to sleep. One of my crappy apartments had a wall unit with a remote. If they can do it, hotels certainly can. Especially higher end hotels.

As we unpacked our few things, we noticed it was a very noisy room. A Motel 6 is quieter than this room! We joked about it, and then we noticed it – our room was sharing walls with the dining room and the kitchen. We were hearing the kitchen crew washing dishes, yelling out orders and banging plates about. We could the live music in the dining room. So now we have an expensive room that is not going to be quiet until after 11 pm when the dining room closes and the kitchen crew is done with clean up.

The room had dings in the paint. Little chips missing in places that could easily be dabbed over while housekeeping is cleaning and the paint would be dry well before check-in time. So why isn’t this being done at some point? Yeah, I know. I know! All hotel rooms are going to get dings in the paint. This room was so fresh looking over all, it was disappointing to see that was not being kept up as well as it could be.

We did have a laugh when we saw the hot tub. Luke is 6’6″, and I am 5’10”. The tub was not built for two larger sized people. There was no way we were both going to fit in that thing at the same time. At least not very comfortably.

Dinner was pretty good. The service was a little slow, but not horrible. Our server was very nice and friendly. We went back to our noisy room and sat in front the fire and read. Later we squished into the tub and relaxed a bit. Well, our ankles and bums relaxed a bit. After the kitchen closed and the room got quiet, we crawled into bed. The bed was comfy and warm. (yay!)

Breakfast was another matter. So very different from dinner. We each got a cup of fruit to start with. Not in season fruit, so it was not very flavorful. Some bits were hard and chewy. Not what you look for in fruit. The ‘pastry’ was made with canned pie filling. All rather flavorless and lumpy. Luke’s breakfast entrée was good. Mine not so much. I ordered buttermilk pancakes. How can you screw up buttermilk pancakes? They are easy. Some are better than others, that is true. But it takes a true genius to really screw up a pancake. Apparently, this place hired that genius.

I received three crepe-like pancakes on a plate with butter and what I will call syrup (for lack of a better term) on the side. To begin with, the ‘pancakes’ were burnt. Okay, not burnt. Over browned (a term my mother used to get us kids to eat slightly burnt food). They tasted awful, almost bitter. The ‘syrup’ had no flavor. None. It was like thick, sweetened water. I even had Luke try a bite. Luke made a face. I think he wanted to spit it out. I wasn’t about to eat it.

I sent it back and ordered a different meal. The basic ‘bacon and eggs’ breakfast. It was pretty good. Nothing fantastic, but tasty and edible. After the ‘pancakes’, edible was a dream come true. Nothing was offered to make up for the horrible first breakfast. Most places would have offered something like a free dessert or hot chocolate. Here? Not a thing.

Would I stay there again? For free, or at a huge discount, yes. At full price? No. There were too many little things that could have made our stay quite unpleasant. Had we been staying there for more than a night or two, I would have asked to be moved to a quieter room. At the regular price of that room, it should have been much quieter and pleasanter to stay in.

It was nice to sit in front of a real fire and read and talk. It was nice to not have to get up and take care of a dog or holler at a kid to go get his chores done. It snowed a little overnight, so we had a pretty sight out our window in the morning.

All in all, we had a very nice time.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday To Me. Come on! Sing With Me!

Published March 25, 2014 by mindfulofchatter

Beautiful-birthday-cupckes

 

Alright, who isn’t singing? You there. Yeah, you. Sing a little louder please.

Tomorrow is my birthday. Well, depending on where you live today is my birthday. Either way I am another year older, not so much wiser and still figuring out what to be when I grow up.

I am now 55.

55 used to be the magic number of ‘senior’ discounts and retirement. No any longer. Now 62 is the average age to receive that blistering 10% off at most shops. So now that I’ve made it to 55, I still have to wait until I’m 62. When I hit 62, they will probably have upped the ante to 72.  Not that I care, it’s just one of those things that have changed with the times.

So here I sit here at 55 and look back a bit at my life. I don’t have the things most people have at my age. I don’t drive the latest car. I don’t live in a house with 5 bedrooms that I never use and 4 car garage for one car. I don’t have millions in the bank for my retirement. I will not be traveling the world in my old age. Apparently I have failed at attaining ‘The American Dream’.

My life has been unremarkable. Rather plain by most standards. But it has been fun, unpredictable and sometimes a roller coaster ride. And best of all, there is more to come.

As a kid, my family spent many a summer driving to the midwest from the west coast to visit family. Along the way we got to see things like The Alamo, Four Corners, Carlsbad Caverns, old plantation homes in the south, The French Quarter in New Orleans, Dodge City, Tombstone, Churchill Downs and loads of roadside attractions, landscapes and ‘strange’ folk. All from the door of our motorhome.

I got to have turtles, a cat, a dog, watch tadpoles turn into frogs and later on – a horse. I played in the summer rain, roller skated, climbed trees, rode my bicycle all over town and ran until I dropped. My parents taught me to love books, be curious, fix small things, ask questions, swim, explore and so much more (Yeah, I am old. I grew up with no cell phone or internet). Were my parents perfect? No. They yelled when they probably shouldn’t have and made mistakes like anyone else. But they did the best they could. After all, us kids didn’t come with instructions.

All in all, I had a grand childhood.

My adult life has been a series of ups and downs. I have been married more than once. I have known heartbreak and betrayal. I have staunch friends who always be my friends no matter how badly I screw up. My kids have lived more places than most kids who are not military brats. I sometimes feel bad that I didn’t get to give them some of the things I had as a kid. I screwed up a lot. But we had dogs and horses, and they got to do things other kids didn’t get to do. They have grown into adults I am proud of and neither one of them seem to be too awfully ruined by my mistakes.

So no. I don’t have that huge, modern house with all those empty rooms. Instead, I live in small house with my S.O., his youngest son, and four dogs. We have two old cars and one newish car. We watch our pennies and shop gleefully at thrift shops and discount markets (Yes, gleefully. Thrift shops are a blast!). We are happy and relatively healthy. We have what we need. And best of all, we have the important stuff.

Each other.

The true ‘American’ Dream.

 

An Open Letter to Wal Mart

Published March 12, 2014 by mindfulofchatter

Dear Wal Mart,

My how you have grown! I remember when you were new to my area and had lots of things in your stores. Your employees knew the stores  well. They were helpful. They were clean and well-groomed. Your customers knew how to wear their pants properly and that slippers were for home use only.

Just this morning I had run in to get a couple of things before I headed off to work. Even at that early hour, I could see things were amiss! Wal Mart, you really need to take a step back and take a good, loooong, look at what you have become.

The first thing I encountered was an employee standing in the aisle texting. He didn’t seem to be doing anything else. Just standing in the aisle texting at 90 miles an hour. Wow. I wish I could a paycheck for standing about texting. I may not be as fast as he is, but then; do you pay by the hour or number of words texted in an hour? You must make this clear. Perhaps add a spot for WTPH (words texted per hour) on  your applications is in order.

Then the shelves. They were bare. Were all the stockers off today? Did the night shift not show up? Was the truck late? Perhaps the young man texting his fingers off was supposed to be stocking. I don’t know. I do know all the aisles I walked down had large areas of emptiness to show me. I can’t really purchase emptiness, now can I? Unless you consider yourself Neverland and you are selling Never Products, this is not going to work out well. For either of us.

The employees. Well, the other employees. The ones not texting. You know, the ones who have forgotten how to dress in clean clothes and brush their hair before showing up for work. One apparently forgot to shower. But at least my watering eyes got the nasty eyelash flushed out. It had been bugging me for two days now. I suppose a thank-you is order for that small favor.

Wal Mart, dear Wal Mart. You are now the butt of jokes. The subject of labor disputes. Your employee selection has gone from ‘equality in hiring’ to ‘We’ll hire you if you have a pulse’. You don’t seem to train them after you hire them. I watch your cashiers struggle with how to ring someone out and how to bag items every time I pop in for something. They are often rumbled and unclean. The employees, not the items.

Your customers have forgotten that flannel pajama bottoms and slippers are not for shopping. And why should your customers care about their appearance when your employees do not?

Seriously Wal Mart, back up. Look at yourself. You need to get grip here. TRAIN your employees. Treat them fairly and with respect. Teach them that they need to be well-groomed and clean when they show up for work. Hire managers who MANAGE (as in not brow beat, yell and condescend). Make sure your shelves are stocked and clean and your employees know where things are in your stores and can actually HELP your customers.

Then maybe, just maybe, your customers will follow suit.

 

** I would like add that I have seen some wonderful employees at Wal Mart. People who are very good at what they do. This is humor folks. Humor.

Your Kid Is Being A Pain in EVERYONE’S Arse!

Published March 3, 2014 by mindfulofchatter

back_chatting_boy

The S.O. and I were in town to have a bit of lunch and do some shopping. One stop on our list was the auto parts store. Luke was doing a tune up on his work van and needed a part and had a couple of questions. While he was doing that, I wandered down the aisle to look at seat covers. I have been looking at seat covers for a year now, but I haven’t liked what I have seen or they were too ferking spendy to consider. Obviously I am in not hurry to purchase them.

So Luke is at the parts counter, I am down the accessories aisle, there are several other shoppers in the store when I hear the first part of a commotion. Three young boys are tearing around the store at top speed. Two are fighting with each other to point of one being pinned to the floor and crying. Dad is doing nothing to stop any of this. Not one word spoken to the kids to settle down. Nada. Zippy-do-dah. Dad is oblivious.

The other customers are trying to stay of the way of the kids racing around. The boys are yelling at each other. They running all over the store. Luke finally turned around and said;

“Hey! You boys need to settle down!”

Loud, but not in anger. With that ‘parent voice’ we know from being in trouble ourselves growing up. He didn’t curse. He didn’t threaten or blow up. He simply made them mind.

The boys stopped running and yelling and went and stood by their dad. Dad looked at Luke and said;

“I would appreciate it if you didn’t speak to my kids like that”.

“Then make them behave”

“They’re kids and kids will be kids”

Are you kidding me?

Okay. I am sick to death of the ill mannered…..ill mannered……..*LOL*……. ill mannered would be an improvement. Where was I? …….. oh! I am sick to death of kids with no manners running around loose in stores and restaurants. Parents stand and do nothing. Their kids a literally running as fast as they can, they are yelling, playing hide and seek or tag in stores. In restaurants. In public places that ARE NOT PLAYGROUNDS! I am tired of excuses made for children not minding and having no manners.

‘I can’t discipline my child in public or someone will call child services on me’ 

Baloney. If you beat your child in public, yes. I will be first in line to call the cops. But if you don’t have to strike them to make them behave, now do you? A complete stranger made 3 boys stop racing around in 2 seconds flat. From across the room. If he can manage it, so can you.

‘Boys will be boys!’

Or in this case, kids will be kids. So what? That doesn’t give them a free pass on manners. I raised two kids, one of each. Ask them what the expectations were when we were out to eat, shopping, or on a field trip.

‘He/she can’t sit still very long/is only *insert age here* so it’s okay for him/her to walk around the restaurant while the adults eat’

No. It isn’t okay. I don’t want your bratty kid climbing over the booth back or poking me in the head while I am tying to eat. Hanging onto my table front and drooling isn’t cutting for me either (yes, all of those have happened to me). If your kid can’t manage to sit for a meal, then get a sitter or to go a fast food joint with a playground. But again, this is a manners issue. My kids sat for an entire meal out at two. No, they weren’t perfect, but they did not run amuck or sit and scream.

‘It’s not your place to tell MY kids how to behave’

Well, you certainly aren’t doing it. If you don’t like someone else telling your kid to stop running around, shut up or go find his parents, then teach them manners. Tell them ‘no’ and mean it. Take them out of the store when they won’t stop screaming. Stop buying them toys and candy as a bribe to mind.

It’s simple.

Grow a pair and a spine. Be a PARENT.