Story time.

Linking up with my favorite Friday people today. The theme?

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I just got off the phone with my sister. We slipped into our easy conversations about food and planning for Thanksgiving and who will bring the potatoes. It’s what we do.

And my other sister, well I had to leave her a message. This did not deter me as I left a long, rambling message that involved me singing Stevie Wonder. Nothing too abnormal here.

My sisters and I don’t spend too much time with story-telling. We chatter on about what’s going on right now, bits and pieces of information. Mostly, we tell each other our to-do lists so the other one can commiserate and offer to bring the potatoes.

We don’t tell each other stories, because we know each other so well. Who wants to listen to a story when you can finish the other person’s sentence? Where’s the suspense in that? It’s like when I check out a book at the library, only to find I’ve read it once before. As I travel the pages I start to feel that weird deja vu, and then, it hits me: Scandalous Love is a page-turner, yes, but I already know the ending. He runs off with her and they are fabulous. And in love.tumblr_n2i1d5NmqY1r37w3co8_500.jpgOk. Granted, I didn’t really read Fabulous Love. Like, ever. Not really my genre.

ANYWAY.

Sometimes I wonder… don’t we need to ask, every once in a while…

“Hey. What’s your story?”

Even my sisters, who lived part of my story with me, don’t know it all. And I don’t know theirs.

A story can shift and change and it doesn’t end until we do. Do we really ever bother to ask? Is that just too hard or uncomfortable? Or weird, perhaps. Might be a bit weird. And I do love my chatter with my sisters. It’s comfortable, and we laugh a lot, and it’s easy. Story-telling isn’t so easy. It takes a comfy chair and a good sit down and time. It takes time.

But, I wonder. What if we asked for stories more?

What is your story? We all have one. And they’re all important.

 

 

 

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Depend on it.

Linking up with my favorite writing community – Five Minute Friday!

The theme?

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I have to admit. The first thing that came to my mind were undergarments. We’re going to skip that one, ok?

In fact, I would like to forego any attempt at something spiritually encouraging. Instead, I would like to talk to you about my cat, Steve.

Some of you know Steve. He has his following. Steve is a large white cat who came into our family a few years ago. He adopted both boys as his own, and his large girth has been a well loved pillow, blanket, toy, attraction, distraction, and mascot, ever since. And then, he became quite sick.

Very sick.

I know. He’s just a pet. Just a furry white behemoth that lounges about and kind of reminds me of a slow-moving, furry barge. But there was this moment, when I was carrying him across the room to the bath, he looked up at me with such patient love. The poor dear was in pain, and tired, and covered in filth, and I had bathed him, without incident, a few times already. He never complained. He never fought. He allowed me to lower him into the water and wash his soiled fur, and then gently wipe him dry. He allowed me to administer pills at numerous times during the day. He watched me through all of it with a sigh and shrug, like, “All right, get on with it then.”

So, as Steve and I were working on getting him well again, I was reminded how much this small(ish) creature depends on me, for his food, for a warm place to sleep, for water in which I put ice cubes every morning, because God forbid my sweet babies not have nice, chilled libations for them.

He depends on me, and I am so very grateful for that. We call him Biggie Meows. Or, Sir Meows A Lot. And he depends on us.

This is a good thing.

Steve is all well now, and seems to have gravitated to my side more so than normal. He comes to me whenever I am seated at my computer, and sits next to me, waiting for me to pat his wide head. I swear I see a smile on his face when I do so.

I just love that cat. And that’s all. I have no moral of the story, or bible verse to tie in, or a Jesus moment for you. I just have this:

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Poor dear. He’s tired. And too big for the couch.

And that’s more than enough.

 

 

Acceptance is Key.

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Linking up with my buddies over at Five Minute Friday today.

The theme?

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I know this post is really late. I like to get the words out to the masses by 1 ish. Or maybe, if I’m really frazzled, 2. But, you know.

Acceptance.

I accept that today has been like I released a bunch of monkeys into my house and into my brain and both places are now totally destroyed. I also accept that all the while I just sort of walk from room to room (literally and figuratively, mind you) picking up monkey garments and such and saying, “Now, whose is this? Monkey #45? Is this yours? Would you like me to wash it for you?”

Or something like that.

I would also like to add that no feces was flung in this analogy. Not that kinda blog.

On Fridays, I usually do well until around four pm. Then, I collapse into a nap that also morphs into a coma and I wake up wondering who I am and if Reagan is still president. It’s ok. The hubs brings home pizza and we all watch American Ninja Master Olympics or some such.

But today… TODAY I DIDN’T GET THE NAP. And you know, I accept that.

I accept also that my weekend looks like a sports calendar walked up to it and barfed every type of outdoor activity it could all over it. I would rather stay at home and read, but you know, my spawn like to play sports.

I accept it.

I also accept that said spawn are currently bickering over who has the most hair on his legs.

Y’all. Acceptance is key.

In fact, I have it on good authority that acceptance is the key to ALL things. It is magical.

No, no that’s not right. Acceptance isn’t some sort of sparkly fairy dust you sprinkle over the monkeys that are hell bent on messing with you. Acceptance takes some work and a little bit of grit and also, a whole lot of prayer. Monkeys could care less about fairy dust, but they do listen to prayer.

And, yes I totally accept that. Because the payoff is a miracle. That’s where the magic happens. That I am a walking, talking, monkeys-in-my-house but I’m gonna be ok, straight up, no chaser, MIRACLE.

IT’S A LOT TO ACCEPT, THIS DAILY, ONE DAY AT A TIME, MIRACLE THING.

And it’s awesome.

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

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F is for Food. Stop Freaking Out.

Here’s a Throwback Thursday for you. Written some FOUR years ago… and you know what, friends?

NOTHING MUCH HAS CHANGED.

My life is on circular rotation, because Parenting. I still make the Pan-O-Love, by the way. It is well received. Not much else is.

So, here goes:

 

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The other day a friend of mine was perusing my blog, and she stopped for a minute.  I know she stopped because I was obsessively watching her eyes actually move across the page and hoping that she would, you know, chortle a bit (she was eerily silent).  There was not one smidgeon of chortling, but she’s, well, she’s just that way.

Anyhow, I digress.

At one point she stopped and, kind of muttered, “No…”

I tried to be all casual: “Whatttt??  WHAT is it? DID YOU LIKE IT? SOMETHING FUNNY?  Or wait, bad?? Something bad?  PLEASSSE JUST TELL MEEEE.”

Yep.  Cool as a mint julip, my friends.

She simply nodded at the screen and said, “It’s wrong.  You said you’re a lousy cook.  That’s wrong.  You are a great cook.  You need to go back and change that.”

My friend is simply divine.  She is, well, she’s the butter on my bread.

My homemade bread, ya’ll.  I KNOW.  I make bread, bout twice a week.   Hot and crusty with just a hint of sweet, real butter all oozy and sliding around…  I would go on but this is not Showtime and I don’t want to upset my pastor’s wife, who reads this once in a while.

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Here are some of my greatest hits in the kitchen (cue Slow Jam music):

1.  Chicken and dumplings.  Oh yeeaah.  Whole chicken is a must.   (I scoff at you, you skinless chicken breasts! We have no place for naked breasts at our home!)

(Wow. That was kinda pushing it.)

2.  Pulled pork and gravy with mashed potatoes.  A subtle hint of cayenne is the secret.  It does, however,  resemble Alpo.  Close your eyes and hoover it.

3.  Double chocolate brownie/sheet cake thing.  Haven’t made this in ages but really, it’s a pan ‘o love, I tell you.  Snuggle up with it and a good book at night and, well, it completes you.

4.  Shepherd’s Pie.  You know, Jesus was called the Good Shepherd.  This meal would be right up his alley, I believe.

5.  Biscuits and gravy with LARD ya’ll.  BOOM. I AIN’T PLAYIN’.

6.  Stromboli.  It’s the yummoli.

7.  Sour cream and raisin pie.  Frozen pie crust, you ask?  Pfft.  As if.  This recipe is as old school as an episode of Andy Griffith, and my dad loves it.  He’s waaaaay old school.  In fact, there was no school for him; they hadn’t invented it yet.

8.  Some weird version of chicken soup with lemon and ginger and hot peppers and cilantro.  I feed it to the hubs whenever he starts sniffling, and I swear some times he fakes the snot so he can get some.

9.  The best BLT this side of anywhere they sell bacon.  I MEAN lo, it is just a BLT but mine stands for Baby, Leave me Ta heck alone while I eat it…

10.  I need a round number so, I’ll just say it.  My peanut butter balls, ya’ll.  They might not be pretty, but they are chocolatey balls of goodness.  I make ’em for the hubs birthdays and anniversaries and any other sort of celebration.  Because, you know.  You can never have too many balls.

Ok.  I am a good cook.

And now, see exhibit BLONDE here on the left? IMG_0004 See this sweet little cherub of goodness right der?  Well, he is a dirty little rat that turns up his twitchy little rat nose at everything I present to him.  (I KNOW…  rats aren’t really known for being picky, but you get what I mean.)

Oh, the Redhead eats everything not nailed down.  It’s wonderful.  However, he better get a trade fast because he is creating a budget deficit in our house  that is rather epic.  (See previous post on Economics.)

This is how the darling Blonde responds to:

1.  Homemade chicken and noodles:

Blonde one covers his mouth as if I have just placed a bowl of buzzard guts in front of him.  Even just a whiff of the chickeney goodness, I guess, sends him gagging.  He then proceeds to lay his forehead on the table in abject despair.  All is lost.  Chicken. And. Noodles.  MY GOD WOMAN!  HOW COULD YOU?   CHICKEN AND NOODLES?  I CAN’T GO ON.  REALLY.  DIS IS DA END.

2.  Stromboli:

“I don’t care for dis.  It tastes… dusty.”

I’ll show you dusty, my little blonde friend.  The hubs had to intervene on that one because blonde one was about to get an education on dust (da FLOOR.)

3.  Shepherd’s Pie

Blonde one:  “It tastes like… butter.”  His mouth is screwed on because evidently butter is the devil’s condiment.  Blonde one and Jesus are good friends, I promise you, but we have a ways to go.

4.  The balls.  No problem.  Gone.  When he’s done he looks like he has a chocolate goatee.  It’s whimsical.

What he will eat, with abandon:  hot dogs.  Of course.

So… if he had his way he would eat just hot dogs and my peanut butter balls forever, and life would be dandy.  And you can just go right ahead and insert your OWN joke here because I AM NOT GOING THERE.  I am far too mature for that kinda cheekiness, my friends.

<< chortle >>

*  My lawyers tell me I need to insert a disclaimer here, so read this really really fast:

It’s just a teensy weensy bit possible an itsy bitsy bit of creative license was taken here.  I’m not sure, but maybe.

Has anybody out there had a picky eater???  And what DOES “dusty” food taste like?

Done, Part One.

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Setting: A college classroom. Various students are slouched in chairs, tired, and they are all wearing weirdly tapered Nike pants, which were so in style when I was a kid, but I still cannot fathom that young men are wearing these things today.

They kind of look like M.C. Hammer. But, you know.

I teach this class. The tapered pants are a distraction, but for the most part, we get through.

Last class we were discussing what a writer does for a living. And I was all:

“Hey, looket! I wrote a book. Like, for real. Here, let me show you!” And I showed them. But not, for real, because I have NO COPIES OF MY OWN BOOK for some reason. This is a weird glitch – but then, I figured. If you were Mark Hamill, would you have a bunch of copies of Star Wars at your house? That would be odd, right?

Actually, I so would. I would have a ton of Star Wars movies at my house.

And, too, I am not comparing Bottled to Star Wars. That’s just crazy.

Maybe Battlestar Galactica, though.

But I digress.

Then the whole class shouted, “NO WAY. Like, for REAL? Will you sign my notebook? Oh, wait, I forgot to bring paper. Or a pencil. So, here, sign my pants!”

That’s not how they responded. No. There were crickets. Crickets were chirping. I think one cricket felt sorry and said, “Nice job, dude,” but I am not sure because I don’t speak cricket.

Such is the glamorous life of a writer. You work on something for nine months and then you find yourself hoping that weirdly panted college kids will think you’re cool.

Ok, now, truth be told, I don’t really need the approval of these wee lads. But, at times, the writing life can be like this. You find yourself with all these pages of your life and you kind of carry it around, toting it from one reading to the next, and saying, “Please. Read me,”  hoping for a signing that has more then three people at it, one of which showed up because he was looking for the bathroom.

We writers. We are ego, coated in insecurity, propped up by a thesaurus.

So, a few weeks ago, I left my husband and babies (see below):

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These are not my actual present-day babies. I mean, they ARE my babies, but this is a much older picture. It was on my desktop. How could it not be? I mean, look at them. The adorable is strong with these two. Blond is all… Blondo Suave. And Red? Full on nutball.

Nothing much has changed really.

But, anyhow, I left ’em. And I drove here:

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To work on this:

 

IMG_7005.jpgAnd I was greeted by this guy:

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Look deeply into my eyes. I am here for you, dude. Write. WRITE LIKE THE WIND.

Yes. It’s a church. As I am a deeply spiritual person, and am always kinda Floaty with Jesus, it only made sense that my writing retreat would be at a church.

Ok, but seriously, my friend Sonya loaned me her house while they traveled. She has the added benefit of being a pastor’s wife.

But, I am deeply spiritual. Just not Floaty. One cannot be floaty with two small children.  That’s just asking for trouble.

So, I was working on the second book. The publisher that worked with me on Bottled actually decided to let me stick around, and so, Perfect* was born.

Actually. Not yet. It’s done… but it’s not DONE done. Because there is editing and fixing and moving and cutting and OH GREAT FLOATY FATHER there is still so much more work to do.

And I love it all.

Oh, and also, at the writing retreat? There was this:

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Cat, accessorized by a clip.

And:

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I’m in charge.

And:

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And IIIIIIIIIIIII EEEIIIIIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUUUUUEEEOOOUUUU.

IT WAS ALL CATS, ALL THE TIME.

Cats + writing + fifty thousand Blow Pops + too much coffee = and almost done book. It’s possible I’m dedicating it to those cats.

 

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*This is a working title. Other possibilities:

The Perfect Book

Second Books Are Hard

This is a Book and I Wroted It

Prefection

 

 

 

 

And so on.

The sheets hit the fan.

 

This is not my laundry room. This is a stunt laundry room.

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So, the other day, I put in a load of laundry.

I know. This post is gonna rock your world.

 

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Anyhow, the sheets. My goodness. My mother bought me these sheets because she’s a mother and she still buys me stuff like that. It’s genetics. They buy sheets for you because you might sleep on a rock otherwise. She bought these sheets, I guess, at some really nice sheet store. They are super nice and all. And also? They weigh about four hundred pounds. I don’t know what these sheets are made out of y’all, but it seems to be some sort of bonded steel and fabric bricks, two-ply.

Also, when wet, they weigh about as much as four hundred pounds wrapped around an elephant who doesn’t want to get out of the washing machine.

The sheets, y’all. I struggle.

So, the other day, as I was pulling the elephant wrapped around an enigma known as the poundage of wet sheets, I happened to scrape my thumb. And this was the thumb that already had a blister on it because our backyard likes to go all jungle-themed every week or so.

THE PAIN. OH HOLY CAN OF HURT WORMS. IT WAS LIKE A THOUSAND ARROWS, ALL POINTY-POINTY AT MY THUMB AND THEN, ALSO AN ELEPHANT CAME AND SAT ON IT, AND…

Well. It just really stung, y’all. It hurt me. THE SHEETS WERE OUT TO GET ME.

And so of course also the laundry room was all “HA HAHA! I am gonna make this now into a totally horrible situation!” and all the hanging clothes managed to come crashing down (ok, one shirt) at my feet and when I bent over to pick it up, I POKED MY BUTT ON THE CUTE HANGING PEGS THAT I HAVE IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM BECAUSE PINTEREST TOLD ME HANGING PEGS IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM WERE A GOOD IDEA BUT NOTHING CUTE EVER HANGS ON THEM BECAUSE THERE’S NO ROOM BECAUSE OUR LAUNDRY ROOM IS LIKE THE MIND OF A TROUBLED PERSON IN THE ASYLUM.

Notice the creeping up of the all-caps, eh? Oh yea. Just wait.

So, I basically gave myself a proctology exam with the stupid Pinteresty pegs of death and then, when standing, I got a head rush and I felt old. Bending over, y’all. It’s not for old people. We might bend over and never get back up.

So, THEN I decided that I HATED everything, and my thumb HURT and I can’t even begin about my backside, and of course my dog was trying to into the laundry room because he’s like Lassie only stupid, and could hear me bellowing and was all, “Wait! Lemme in there! If I come in there I can pant on you and rub my nervous self all up and down your legs because that will HELP I KNOW IT, I CAN DO THIS THERAPY DOG THING, I PROMISE. JUST BELIEVE IN MEEEEEEEE.” And now the whole thing was all about HIM and he doesn’t even have a degree in therapy dog. We just watched a couple of youtube videos together and I nudged him a couple of times and pointed to the tv and said things like, “See? That’s what you could do if you really applied yourself,” and he would quiver and nod, and then go lick himself in inappropriate areas.

So, Mr. Lickie is all up in my business and my thumb is hurting and the sheets are all piled on the floor which is dirty so now I have wet and dirty just-washed really heavy sheets and then:

(deep breath) MY HAIR GETS SNAGGED ON ONE OF THE DANG HANGERS BECAUSE CLEARLY THIS LAUNDRY ROOM IS POSSESSED and once that gets all dealt with some of it (my hair) also sticks in my lip gloss which is SO ANNOYING. Just… SO annoying. It was like the pain of tens thousand arrows but not really painful. So, it was like the annoyance of ten thousand arrows, landing softly on my shiny lips and just sticking there.

Let me just state, if you don’t get the deal with hair getting stuck in lip gloss, you don’t know. YOU DON’T KNOW. IT’S UP THERE WITH PAPER CUTS AND THEN CUTTING A LIME LATER IN THE DAY AND FORGETTING YOU HAD A PAPER CUT WHICH IS, AS YOU KNOW, LIKE A THOUSAND ARROWS…

Well, you get the idea.

And THEN, as I smushed all the sheets, muttering and deciding this day was just so awful, like South Korea mixed with halitoses with a sprinkling of dentist’s office awful. Just the awfulest of awful, I figured this out, that maybe, it could ONLY be worse if, oh I don’t know, like…

MY WHOLE HOUSE WAS UNDER WATER.

SHEETS AND ALL.

And then, you know, I walked with the laundry basket into the kitchen, and lookie there. I HAD A KITCHEN. And also, there was clothes to put on a BED that I HAD UPSTAIRS.

ALSO, THERE WERE STAIRS THAT WEREN’T UNDER WATER.

And then, the cat came (one of the three billion we own) and pushed himself up by my legs like they do, a furry leg tripper warmer thingie, and I realized

THE CATS DID NOT NEED FLOTATION DEVICES. THEY WERE NOT FLOATING BY ME, YOWLING, IN SHRUNKEN WET-CAT DESPAIR. ALL CATS WERE DRY AND WALKING ON THE DRYNESS.

Also, you know what? I COULD TURN ON WATER FROM THIS THING CALLED A FAUCET AND THEN DRINK IT. RIGHT THERE. I could even use a glass.

And don’t even get me started on the toilet and it’s many convenience factors.

So, IN SUM:

No cats were floating by.

I have warm sheets.

My mom is still buying me stuff.

AND MY HOUSE IS NOT UNDER WATER.

 

THE END.

Revised title of this post:

The Sheets Hit the Fan. You know. THE ONE PLUGGED INTO THE WALL THAT STILL WORKS BECAUSE ELECTRICITY.

Please, pray for Houston. But don’t JUST pray. Also, DO something. Reach out. Donate. Give time. Give hope. Harvey is an a$$hole.

 

Don’t know where to start? Here is a good website that offers some ideas:

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/08/28/546745827/looking-to-help-those-affected-by-harvey-here-s-a-list

 

 

Total Eclipse of the Heart

This is the story of a woman who had no interest in science.

She has a sciencey husband. He was all:

“Hey! The eclipse! Once in a lifetime! Let’s drive to Nebraska!”

She was all:

“I don’t want to. Because: packing, leaving, planning, lists, snacks, endless endless snacks. Just the snacks. Oh Lord, all the SNACKS.”

We drove to Nebraska. Husband accidentally booked us a hotel room in a smoking room. YES THEY STILL SMOKE IN HOTEL ROOMS IN NEBRASKA. You should be ashamed of yourself, Nebraska. I opened all the windows (possibly broke one, I don’t care Nebraska) and there was A LOT OF COMPLAINING.

Then: Ate chicken cacciatore that was… really good. Less complaining. Too busy eating bread slathered in garlic oil and herbs.

Then: Drove to a place called The Crane Nature Center. Who knew? Cranes! In Nebraska! The complaining has now cycled down to about one or two per hour. Sunshine. Hiking paths. Pretty nature stuff. IMG_6942.jpgIMG_6943.jpg

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If you look closely: SNACKS. Of course.

Then: made friends with the all the people. All of them. Everyone was all, “This is so cool! It’s nature! And barbecue! And we’re all in this together! Look at us being all together in this sciencey, once-in-a-lifetime moment!”

Complaining: 1/2 per hour

Then: WHAMMO

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And yes, my pictures don’t do it justice. BECAUSE IT WAS AMAZING. TOTALLY.

I was wrecked. We all applauded and I cried and people hugged and the whole thing just made me realize two things:

  1. Once in a lifetime things are so cool. I wish they happened more often. But, that would change the verbage.
  2. Nebraska is awesome.

Husband and I held hands and I wiped tears. Then, Blonde came up to me and said, “Thank you. Thank you so much for bringing us.” Then Red said, “THIS IS AMAZABALLS.”

And then, a bit later, Blonde came over to me and flopped down in a chair. I said, “You ok?”

He responded, “I’m recovering.”

And Red asked, “Where are the snacks?”

Of course.

Complaining: ZERO

And THEN: We all packed up and walked past the river and the pretty butterfly field and all the people were smiling and saying hi and it was like a Happy Village of Everyone Getting Along Despite 2017, and I was kinda blissing out.

And then we ate at Tommy’s Diner in Grand Island, NE and I had the BEST BUTTERSCOTCH MALT EVER IN THE HISTORY OF EVER.

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ACTION FOOTAGE OF OUR HIPSTER WAITER WITH MAN BUN. I love him. He brought me my malt.

It was, quite simply, a once in a lifetime experience.

Complaining: NEGATORY. NEVER AGAIN. I AM SHOOK.

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Also, there is the hot fudge sundae experience.

I call this photo essay “THIS IS THE SNACK OF DREAMS”

 

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You might say I had a change of heart. A “total eclipse” if you will.

And then: on the drive home, we listened to The Last Battle and I kissed hubs on the cheeck. “Thank you,” I said. “And I’m sorry I complained so much.”

And hubs said, “You complained? Nah. I don’t remember that.”

The world is a wonderful place.

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The end.