A Belated Birthday Celebration Involving Second-Hand Clothes, a Stoned Clerk Named Ryan, and Several Doggies

Celebrating your birthday after the fact can be glorious for the simple fact that it usually involves mother’s guilt. And mother’s guilt is a powerful force to behold.

So it was that after my week-long convalescence – a week where no celebration, nay, no smiles, were deemed possible – Daughter was treated to a Belated Birthday Celebration which included a trip to our favorite consignment shop, stopping at our favorite coffee/sandwich shop where our clerk may or may not have been stoned, eating lunch with five pooches, one of whom wore a tutu, and arriving back home at that perfect moment when you know — when there is no doubt — that magic is real.

The day was a beautiful one. Before we left, Daughter held up two CDs for review. She always lets me choose our travel music. I’ve yet to come across a CD of hers I don’t like, as her music leans toward alternative and quirky, and that suits me. I point at one: “Tallahassee” by The Mountain Goats.

“Good choice,” she says. Three songs later, we’re at the consignment shop, A Second Look.

I love this place. Just about everything you can think of is at this store: clothing, jewelry, housewares, home furnishings, electronics… I once bought a pink-checkered chicken at this place. I didn’t know I needed a pink-checkered chicken until I found it there. That’s how great this store is.

Pink checkered chicken

Another great thing: the longer items are there, the deeper their discount. Big signs throughout the store give you the day’s sale:

Items Dated before 1/28: 25% off
Items Dated before 1/4: 50% off
Items Dated before 12/21: 75% off

Sometimes you get lucky and find several “must-haves” at a deep discount. Other times you find squat. But it’s the thrill of the hunt, that what matters. That’s why you go.

For this trip, Daughter only found one item she could not live without, but oh what a find: a metallic snakeskin print scarf!

As for me, I found two cropped pants that fit me perfectly, even though they were mislabeled as “6” when I’m clearly still a “4” (*yesIamsoshutup*). I also found two lovely comfy shirts, perfect for lounging around the house in the evening sans bra. You can never have too many of those.

Our purchases competed, it was time for lunch. Fortunately we didn’t have far to go, because our favorite lunch spot is right in front of A Second Look. It’s called 32nd Shea, because it’s on the corner of 32nd Street & Shea. Clever, right?

And get this: it’s in a remodeled Fotomat. Remember those old drive-thru spots where they’d develop your pictures? That’s where this place is.

32nd Shea

You place your order at the register, a huge chalkboard above displays the menu. Ryan takes our order. He’s leaning on the counter at an angle, typing everything we say onto the screen. With each item he says, “You got it.”

“We’re gonna split the Veggie-Tarian sandwich.”
“You got it.”
Daughter adds, “I’ll have a tall iced coffee with rosemary syrup honey.”
“You got it.”
I say, “And I’ll have a large tropical iced green tea.”
“You got it. Do you want soup or chips with the sandwich?”
“Um…” We look at each other, Daughter shrugs, I say, “Chips.”
“You got it. Do you wanna eat outside or in?”
“Outside.”
“You got it. Remind me of your name again?”
“Christi.”
“Christi. You got it.”

We find a table on the patio and take our seats. Daughter comments on Ryan. “I love him,” she says. “He was so tired he could barely stand up straight.”

“I thought he was stoned,” I say.

“Even better,” she decides. “And I love how he says, ‘remind me of your name.’ I bet he says that to every customer. Remind me of your name? We’ve never met, good sir!”

She decides to write a short skit for her play-writing class featuring Ryan, the stoned sandwich shop clerk. As she makes notes on her phone, I survey the other customers on the patio. It’s a full house, people and pooches alike.

Forgot to mention: 32nd Shea is dog-friendly.

We dined with no less than five pooches: a German Shepherd behind me, a Golden Retriever to my left, a Mixed Breed with a worried expression, a Shih Tzu in a Tutu, and on my right was one of those dogs with the long ass name. The King Charles Cavalier Bowling on the Green Spaniel (or something like that).

Behind Daughter, the group with Worried Mutt was involved in some sort of project. They took up two tables: a tall long table where they sat, as well as a short round one where they piled all their magazines. For they had heaps and heaps of magazines.

Patio at 32nd Shea

There were about four or five women at the long table. Really I’m not sure how many because people were wandering to and fro with abandon. In amongst their cups of coffee and lunch orders were glue sticks, poster board, construction paper, and other arts and crafts paraphernalia. I’ve no idea what they were doing, but it seemed to be causing great stress for their Worried Mutt.

Do you suppose they were doing it wrong? Or maybe they were going about it too slowly, and Worried Mutt feared they’d be late for their afternoon crochet lesson? Honestly, it was so hard to tell, and sadly, I did not get a chance to interview the dog and find out.

And while it could have been my imagination, the Golden Retriever seemed concerned on Worried Mutt’s behalf too. Though that’s just the way of Goldens. They are a caring breed, taking the whole world on their shoulders, trying so hard to alleviate our burden. I happen to know our current political divisions trouble Goldens excessively. They are doing all they can to help, wagging their tails so energetically, but look deep into their caring eyes and you’ll see. They are troubled.

One breed you will never find troubled, not one iota troubled, is the King Charles of Upper Bucklebury and Bob’s Your Uncle Spaniel. I swear, the pooch who was dining on my right could barely make the effort to raise his head, much less worry over our sad political state. And why should he? His companion, a woman who exuded wealth from every pore, kept him on her lap the entire time and only stopped patting him long enough to offer him a morsel from her BLT. I’m telling ya, that dog’s got it good.

Meanwhile, the Shih Tzu in the Tutu made its way through the lunch crowd, visiting table after table, acting with great certainty that all would be charmed by their presence. For indeed, we were.

Its person, an older woman wearing a fanny pack (Daughter says all owners of Shih Tzus are old; it’s like a law) referred to the dog in the third person: “Do we want to say hello to the people? Let’s say hello!”

So they did. They said hello.

Dog wearing tutu

I said hello back. It was the polite thing to do.

The only one who seemed displeased by the Shih Tzu in the Tutu was the German Shepherd. It was… how shall I put it?… it was as though he considered it a personal affront that there should even be a Shih Tzu in a Tutu. He maintained his dignity, of course. Was careful not to show the slightest amount of agitation. But even so. You could tell.

Our sandwich was wonderful, by the way, as were the drinks. We lingered as long as we could. Honestly, I was hoping an unveiling of the arts and crafts project was imminent, but alas, it was not to be. On our way home we made two stops, one to pick up the necessary ingredients for strawberry shortcake, and the other to pick up dry cleaning (hey, it was just one block over, okay?).

And now we come to the most special event of the day — in point of fact, it is the entire purpose of my writing — when we pulled into the driveway and I shut off the car.

You know how it is when the song you’re listening to ends at the exact moment your ride is over? You put the car in park and… duuummmm… the song ends? It feels like you’ve attained perfection. As though everything came into place and magic is in the air. Well, that’s the way it was for us, only it was the last note of the last song on the whole CD!

Total MAGIC!

It exists people, it really exists! All you have to do is look around and view the world with fresh eyes.

And maybe look into the eyes of a Golden Retriever while you’re at it. Lord knows it can’t hurt.

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 3.25.34 PM.pngNote: No Goldens were troubled in the making of this blog post.

Cash, Credit, or… Does Anyone Still Write Checks?

The other day I was in Costco buying dog food.

Heck of a deal, 24 cans for $19.99. That’s less than a dollar a can — 83¢ to be exact — for good quality dog food. This is smart shopping in action, folks.

Since it was just the one item, I didn’t bother with a cart. Lines move fast at Costco.

Or at least, they usually move fast. When you’re holding a case of dog food, a case growing heavier by the second, it slows to a grinding halt.

I look ahead to see what the issue is: a woman writing a check. (Seriously? Who writes checks anymore?!)

I stare at her in disbelief. Surprised Costco even takes the things. (Several places don’t.) Also, I’m willing to bet the woman’s handwriting is immaculate. She takes such inordinate care with it.

I shift the now 300-pound crate in my arms. Finally she’s done. Her check noted in her register and the subtraction completed (good Lord!). The woman ahead of me checks out quickly. She uses her debit card. Zip, zip, she’s done.

My turn.

The clerk thanks me for my patience. I ask her how often she gets checks.

“Not often. Maybe two or three a month.”

She scans the case, tells me the total. I hand her a couple bills. “Oh, I might have change.”

She waits as I search for coins.

Only later did it occur to me how I slowed down the line nearly as much as the check woman.

It was about 17 years ago, almost to the day, that Husband and I switched to using cash for almost all of our daily transactions. We had recently moved to Phoenix, a local radio station played the Dave Ramsey show — maybe you’ve heard of it? — we decided to give his envelope system a try and was surprised how well it worked for us. We’ve been doing it ever since.

allef-vinicius-468838

However — lest you fear this is turning into a Dave Ramsey infomercial — I’m not saying it’s for everyone or even that it’s the smartest way to handle your money. I’ve heard many with different opinions.

Ryan, my cashier at Target, said he never uses cash. Not even for a candy bar. He said this after I declined his offer for a Target Red Card (5% off all purchases!).

“I never have to worry about cash getting stolen, ya know?” he said, as he took my money. “If you don’t carry it, they can’t take it.”

I could have pointed out that if someone takes my cash, they only have my cash. If someone takes his credit or debit card, theoretically, they could empty his account or at least make his life hellish for a little while.

Even so, Ryan the Target Cashier is not the only advocate for a cash-free society. There are many saying we’re headed there, it’s only a matter of time. Some countries, most notably Sweden, are nearly cashless now. Safety is the biggest advantage cited, as well as convenience and, yes, speed. But not everyone is convinced it’s the way to go, and since Americans do love their privacy, it’s unlikely I’ll have to switch to digital currency terribly soon.

Though there is that Bitcoin thing. (Does anyone understand how that works? Truly?)

The thing is, I like cash. I like putting all the bills in my wallet, in order, heads up of course. I like adding up purchases in my head as I’m shopping and taking a guess at the total before the clerk hits the button — I love it when I’m super close, like within a few cents, and am already handing the amount to the cashier.

Oh, the power of Math.

Even so, I will say that while using cash has been instrumental in helping us stick to a budget, for increasing our savings nothing has worked better than depositing everything into a savings account first, and moving only what we need for monthly expenses into a checking account. Also, money is moved automatically into a long-term savings account. All deposits and transfers done electronically, most without us doing a thing. Works like a charm.

So I understand people’s love of digital transactions. I expect they might feel a little less tied to their money, maybe a little more secure with their purchases. And if Ryan the Target Cashier thinks he does a fine job staying on budget, who am I to say otherwise? Nevertheless, for groceries and what-have-you, I’m sticking to cash only, please.

I will say this however: From here on out, I’ll knock it off with making exact change. That is my pledge to you, impatient Costco customer behind me.

Photo of billfold by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash
Featured photo my own (Yes, that’s my money)
(No, you can’t have it)

Holiday Traditions

“Let’s do our Family Shopping Trip this weekend,” Son says.
“But no one needs to buy anything,” I point out. “We do everything online.”
“But it’s Tradition!”

You gotta watch out for the ol’ Tradition trap. It’ll get ya every time. Continue reading “Holiday Traditions”

I Found Her: The Slowest Cashier in Cashier History

woman with grocery cartGot a lot of shopping to do this holiday season? Unless you’re doing everything online, you might have to battle heavy traffic and crowded stores. I can’t help you much there. But if you fear getting stuck in line with the slowest cashier in existence, let me put your mind at ease.

Turns out the slowest cashier — and this is counting the ones who carved receipts on stone tablets — works at the Target near my house. Her name is Lillian.

Let me take you back to the day I first met Lillian. It was way back when we were still experiencing high temperatures here in Phoenix.
You know. A week ago. Continue reading “I Found Her: The Slowest Cashier in Cashier History”

I Feel it in My Soul, It’s Meant to Be…

Wedding picture
August 9, 1985

Thirty-one years is worthy of a celebration, right?

Funny though, what counts as a celebration when you’re young isn’t quite as enticing when you’re… not so young.

We decided – five days after the event, because we were gosh-darn busy on the actual day – to go to Black Angus. Husband had a coupon for a free steak dinner, on account of his birthday being just a few days ago. Even better, the restaurant was by a mall, which meant we could gain some extra steps for the ol’ Fitbit.

Yep. We’re just a couple of wild ones. Continue reading “I Feel it in My Soul, It’s Meant to Be…”

Say What?

Here’s something you may not know about me: I love thrift stores. If I see one, I gotta stop. This includes on vacations.

Which is why I now know Oregon has some mighty nice thrift stores. Even their Goodwill stores border on classy. At one, the outside sign said, “Goodwill Boutique.”

You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.

Navy blue womens sleeveless topAnyway, I just wanted to tell you about a sleeveless top I found, not in a thrift store but in a consignment shop. Yes, it was a good deal and it looks lovely on me, but what I really want to show you is its tag.

The top was made in Italy and was new, by which I mean it still had its original store tags.  Everything, including care instructions, is in Italian. But one tag included an English translation, and I’m guessing whoever wrote it relied on Google translator.

See for yourself:clothing tags from item made in Italy

“This is strands state decorated of stone crystal product to SWAROVSKI”

(Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?)

So yeah, the little shiny things down the front are Swarovski crystals. Pretty little top for $15, don’t you think?

It brought to mind another hot deal I came upon a few years back. It was for an espresso maker, also made in Italy, also suffering slightly in translation. My favorite part from the instructions:

“Screw strongly the top of the coffeepot on the little tank but don’t prize the handle.”

Words to live by.

Idea!

I bet if we compiled our favorite mistranslations, we’d have the makings of a great book. Something worthy to be read in bathrooms everywhere.

Think about it, lovely readers. And remember — screw strongly. 😉

Parking Lots, Lost Cars, and You

We all need certain people in our lives, right? Good friends, people we can be ourselves with, people we can have deep conversations with — people like that there.

I need an additional person: someone who will wander aimlessly in a parking lot with me looking for a lost car and not wig out. Fortunately, I have Daughter.

It is a sad fact that losing a car in a parking lot is not difficult for me. Typically my mind is on far more important matters than something as trivial as where I parked my car. Such as something I heard on the radio two weeks ago, an idea I have for an award winning play, or the classmate of mine from the sixth grade who had the most unusual body odor and seriously, what would cause a person to smell like the elephant pen at the zoo?

Geez, he was weird. What are the chances he had a pet elephant?

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the lost car. So anyway, done with our shopping, Daughter and I walk out from the shopping centerdesert ridge — I better give you a picture because this is not an ordinary shopping mall. This is Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix, which has a big, sprawling, open plan. Shops and restaurants are everywhere and the parking lot was designed by an insane person. (I think this has been proven. I’m sure it has.)

We stare out over the sea of vehicles, I turn to her and ask, “Do you remember where we parked?” She turns to me, smiles, and says, “No idea. You?” Continue reading “Parking Lots, Lost Cars, and You”

A Guide to Women’s Sleepwear, Winter Edition

As I was out and about this last weekend enjoying enduring the holiday shopping madness, I couldn’t help but notice the variety of winter sleepwear available to women. bed

The reason I couldn’t help noticing is that Husband has an uncanny knack for parking by entrances leading straight into lingerie departments. It’s like some sort of weird psychic ability of his to know precisely where each store locates their underwear. I guess you could say it’s his superpower.

An amazing, yet completely unhelpful, superpower.

Anyway, I noticed that each article of sleepwear — regardless of its color or size — gave a very clear message. Or at least I thought the message was clear.

Don’t believe me? Here … let me show you: Continue reading “A Guide to Women’s Sleepwear, Winter Edition”