Thursday, October 30, 2008
Yesterday, I saw a billboard for the Washington state governor's race. It said "Voting for Obama? Washington needs change too. Vote Dino Rossi."
Why is that weird?
It actually said "Vote Dino Rossi (GOP)."
Yes, that's right folks. Our Republican gubernatorial candidate is appealing to the fact that Washington state (a notorious "blue" state) will likely be throwing its hat in with the Democratic hopeful Obama as a reason to cast our vote for him. Change. Hey, that message has been working for the Democrats . . .
I'm sure Ronald Reagan is rolling in his grave. If he's paying attention, that is.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Today, I got out of my car. My hot little red car. Wearing a spiffy looking houndstooth check skirt, turtleneck, and my giant faux-Channel beads. And my spunky little cream-colored Anne Klein peep toes with the black patent trim and heels with the little silver buckle on the toes. One of my favorite shoes.
The woman across the street, walking her little baby carriage, took the time to comment.
You couldn't have said anything nicer to a shoe whore.
I was beaming when I said "Thank You!"
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Photo-free. Other than this picture of the Peruvian fertility statue, I didn't take a lot of pictures. Maybe I was just too caught up in the action.
Friends. Like we say all the time, it's funny how the internet brings such a motley crew of folks (yes, that makes us motley too) together, and yet we all have a great time. I can't wait to do it again. Hope we can get the rest of you out, too.
Fiscally-responsible. Hey, where else can you come, eat and drink like we did last night, make fun of your friends, laugh all night, and go home no more than $10 short plus the cost of gas in your tank to make the drive?
Maybe well have to do a practice round before Vegas . . .
Friday, October 24, 2008
If I said "Let's do it!" and meant this weekend, any of you Seattle bloggers care to join us for a home game tomorrow (Saturday)?
E-mail me - leave me a comment. I got the food and drink covered.
If any of the rest of you are passing through the area . . . stop on by!
Willie and his wife bring their barbecue truck to this little town every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. There aren't a lot of restaurants anyway, so having a new option is always exciting.
Our team has been visiting Willie's barbecue truck for the last three years. Even though we're only here a few weeks a year, the team takes the time to talk to Willie, and we've built up a nice little relationship. Not that its that difficult. Willie likes to shoot the breeze. He's probably around 60. Looks a little like Uncle Jessie from the old Dukes of Hazard series. Wears overalls and everything. Talks forever.
The guys had me set up for steaks for lunch. They'd apparently pre-arranged something with Willie. We walked over together, but were disappointed to find out that Willie thought we wanted steaks on Friday. We told him we were leaving before Friday lunch.
"Well come on back tonight," he growled. "I'll have steaks, potatoes, and salad. Now why don't you come on over here and get you some lunch."
While we waited, Willie shared his Scotty Pippen story. Apparently, Scotty Pippen, NBA star, calls one of the local towns home. Scotty's mom sent him to Willie's truck to pick up barbecue one day. Willie stood there shooting the breeze with Scotty while his wife filled the order. Always focused on customer service, Willie asked Scotty if his order was ok. Apparently Scotty responded by saying it would be better if it were free.
Willie chuckles at this point in the story. "I told him 'Boy, you make more in a minute than I do in a year, and you still want your barbecue for free?'"
Of course when I went to pay for our lunches, and offered him a tip, he pushed it back across the window and said "I don't need that! I'm independently wealthy!" When I told him maybe his wife would like it, he scoffed again, and pushed it away. "She's got me to take care of her . . . she don't need that." I laughed, pocketed the few dollars, and grabbed our food.
We ordered traditional barbecue plates. The beans were soft and perfectly seasoned. The potato salad creamy. The pulled pork melted in your mouth. Even white bread never tested so good. We tried to pace ourselves, waiting for the feast to come that evening.
We finished up work and walked over to get dinner. Willie looked at his watch. "8 minutes late," he admonished, looking at us over his reading glasses. Of course, he looks like your grandfather when he was pretending to be mad. "How was lunch?"
I gushed about the food. Told him that I hadn't been feeling well, but that I felt much better after the barbecue. He snorted, then said "Glad to hear you ate. You looked a little anorexic when you came in for lunch."
I couldn't resist. I hugged him. Told him that was the nicest thing a mother of two pushing 40 had heard all day. He looked at me seriously and said "Have you been to Wal-Mart yet? That's how we know you're from out of town. You're skinny." I laughed. Might have blushed. It's that old man flirtation that you can only get away with at 60.
He had the steaks and potatoes ready to go in large containers. He stood next to the truck, waiting for the customers to clear so he could get our salad. As we stood, he got into storytelling mode again. This one was about Wells Fargo. Charging him a late fee. Which he refused to pay, because he'd already paid off the loan balance in full. So they charged him a second late fee. Which he refused to pay. And a third. And a fourth.
When the credit collectors would call, Willie shot the breeze with 'em. Told them to call back when they would reverse the charges. After a week or so of calling around eight every morning, Willie finally asked them to call him at seven. "Seven?" they asked. "Why seven? We can't start calling until eight."
"Well, if you call me at seven, I don't have to set my alarm, 'cause I get up at seven. This way, you can wake me up, we can chat, and then I can get my stuff done." They didn't take too kindly to being Willie's alarm. After weeks of chatting with the collectors, but not budging, he convinced a tired collector to waive $125 of $140 in late fees. Willie paid the $15. Then he called his broker. Asked him to buy Willie a few shares of Wells Fargo. Managed to buy in when the stock was pretty low. Watched the market price creep up a few months later, sold for a gain well in excess of the $15 fee. Sent his banker a copy of the check and his brokerage statement, showing the gain. Just to make a point.
He packaged up the last of the utensils, and asked his wife to get some butter. Willie scoffed at her when she returned with an entire pound of butter. "Alice, they don't need a whole box of butter." There were only four of us. Willie opened the box, and dropped in two sticks of butter. And a vat of sour cream. Big difference.
We asked how much we owed him for the special order. "$30." We looked at each other. ????? I pulled out two $20's. He started to make change. I walked away. He gave me a "tut-tut-tut" sound, so I gave him the hand. Told him the company was paying anyway. I finally got him to pocket the extra.
He took our cards. Asked if we would be back Friday. When we told him we were flying out Friday morning, he seemed genuinely disappointed to see us leave. Told us he looked forward to having us there each year.
We got back to the offices to find he'd fixed us five pounds of flank steak, four huge baked potatoes, and made a vat of salad for us. The food was great, and we chuckled at our good fortune. Which only got better after dinner.
Willie gave me a call, just to see how me and the boys had fared. Happy to hear we'd liked his cooking. Wished us well on our trip and invited us back.
I almost felt a little choked up inside.
I think Willie's a little sweet on me. But that's ok. I'm a little sweet on that grumpy old southern boy too.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Today, it was the stares when we walked in the local Mexican restaurant. All heads turning. The looks that say "You're wearin' your Sunday best . . . but it's Thursday."
At O'Charley's, it was a little more direct. Adam, our server, walked up to us, a toothpick in his mouth. Asked for our drink orders. After ordering a Grey Goose on the rocks, dirty, with olives, an Octoberfest on tap, a lemonade, and a Corona, he drawled,
"Y'all aren't from here, are you?"
What gave it away? My skirt and heels? The fact that the guys were wearing something other than jeans? The fact that you can hear the difference between "pen" and "pin" when I speak?
Apparently, the locals don't order liquor, or beers beyond Miller, Bud, or Bud Light.
Tomorrow I won't have to feel like an outsider.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
This guy is grinning from ear to ear (and if you are familiar with the size of his ears, you know that is a pretty healthy distance . . . )
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
My husband got a little giddy with the bidder number.
He bought a bike.
And no, I'm not talking about a Schwinn.
Go see for yourself.
Signing out . . . some of us have to go work to pay for the stuff our husbands bid on. This was not in the budget.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Why am I not in bed? How about I have less than 60 hours before I travel. My biological clock has been silenced; my travel clock is ringing in my ears right now.
Next week will find me in lovely BFE Arkansas. I have to fly through BFE Louisiana to get there. Last time I went, the hotel had only 6 hair dryers for all guests - I didn't get one. Its a strange place, too. In BFE Louisiana, there are drive through margarita stands . . . and as long as the driver is not drunk or actively drinking, open containers are encouraged (much like Montana). However, upon arriving in BFE Arkansas, we will actually be in a dry county. Go figure. As a Wisconsin native, when I learned about dry counties, I thought someone was pulling a bad joke on me. Not so.
I'm guessing that between the long and circuitous route to get there (it's basically one whole day of flying and driving to arrive, and one to come back), the lack of observable cell phone reception for the bulk of the trip, potentially limited internet, and the long hours we will work to try to get it all done, I'm going to be seriously hating the whole dry county thing at some point. I think one of our staff is smuggling in some alcohol. Good on you, mate.
So in the next 60 hours, I have 4 meetings scheduled. Need to review the work of my staff on three jobs. Need to finalize a powerpoint presentation (half of which just disappeared into the bowels of my computer 30 minutes ago and had to be recreated). Need to attend a going away dinner. Need to get my nails done. Need to attend a formal charity auction. Need to pay all the bills. Need to pack. Need to buy additional pain relief and other cold symptom items.
I'm so tired, I'm almost beyond sleeping at this point. But I'm going to give it the old college try.
If I am too tired to blog, readers, forgive me. I still love you all.
Especially you, CK. You have my express permission, by the way.
Wish me luck. And when you learn about some accountant who went postal in Arkansas, please let the news media know it was extenuating circumstances.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
So here goes.
If I won the lottery (*), I would do these 11 things:
- Go back to Barcelona, sit on a patio at 2 p.m. looking out at the Mediterranean, drinking pitchers of Sangria, eating fresh paella, and thinking "Holy s**t, am I rich!"
- Come home and hire Tom full time to be at my beck and call for those two hour massages whenever and where ever I want. I'm sure his wife Ellen doesn't need him at home very much.
- Host the biggest tear-down party in the world at my parents farm, as we raze their crappy old falling down house and build a new one. Since I'm the rich one, I get to drive the bulldozer through the first wall.
- Buy my sister and her two kids a small, comfy house, and establish a college fund for her daughter and son. She can handle the rest from there; she's been raising two kids on her own for 14 years, pretty much.
- Fund a trust for my other niece and nephew for college and some living expenses. My brother needs to figure out how to find his own way to fund a house for him, his wife, and two kids. I just want to make sure they come out on the other end ok, since he's 33 and still living with Mom and Dad. I hate hand-outs to people that haven't proven they can be self-sufficient; I just don't want the kids to suffer.
- Pay for my sister-in-law's wedding. Congrats, One "L".
- Back my other sister-in-law for a year in whatever she invests in - I'll double it. You should see this little spitfire beat the market. Whatever she makes is hers to keep.
- Fund the budget for the Boys and Girls Club in our city for a full year. You should see how hard these locals work to raise money each year and how much they care about kids no one else cares for.
- Take the whole family to Brazil. After living with and befriending a bazillion Brazilans, I'm convinced we have to go. And the exchange rate for the real is very favorable to the dollar right now. And I'm sure I would look awesome in those little tiny bikinis. And maybe get a wax . . . you know . . . when in Brazil . . .
- Invest, invest, invest. With a professional advisor. Make sure that all of our college tuitions, retirements, weddings, and future plans are well funded. So I can stop thinking about it. And so that months like this last one are just a blip on the radar.
- Buy my husband a Ferrari just to shut him up - but with conditions: (a) he actually shuts up about it, (b) I never have to watch him surf the damn Ferrari chat website or luxury watch sites (its the "new" pornography in our house), and (c) he buys a license plate holder that announces "I am compensating . . . "
I'm sure that's enough for now. I won't tag anyone officially, but I do put it out to the masses . . . what would you do?
(*) "Lottery" is hereby clarified to be a BIG ASS lottery. Like one of those $300 million dollar ones. None of this pissant $2 million stuff. Do you know how fast you can blow through $2 million? Especially if you take the cash option (which, in my opinion, you totally should . . . you gonna trust the lottery commission to invest your money for you?)? Pshaw.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
1. Proof that the big 4-0 can still be hot. See why I'm not worried about next month?
2. Wolverine hair aside, do you blame me for having this man #1 on my list? Me. Ow.
Happy Belated Birthday, Hugh. I'm home alone the weekend of November 8th.
My apologies that, at this juncture, I am unable to accept your offer of "friendship" on Orkut. While some might find the idea of an almost 40-year old mother of two having a "friendship" with an 18-year old single male appealing, I must defer for the following reasons.
- You have four names. Not even hyphenated. I only have three, and I'm married. I have a policy against being friends with people with too many names that they did not acquire through marriage or other socially acceptable forms of acquiring names and titles.
- You are 18. You still think the world revolves around you. It does not. It revolves around me.
- You live with your parents. I don't find that as appealing as you do.
- I have two sons. If I want to be reminded of how shallow, self-centered, and immature 18 year olds can be, I just need to wait seven more years.
- You aren't old enough to drive the rental car on vacation without paying three times the price I pay.
- You aren't old enough to drink.
- All of your other "friends" leave messages filled with emoticons and text speak. I actually prefer to use the full English language most days.
- You aren't that cute. Not that looks are all that matter . . . just saying.
- Your profile contains nothing intellectually stimulating.
- I need intellectual stimulation.
- I'm old enough to be your mother.
Please accept my apologies. No hard feelings. Good luck in your search for other "friends."
The Wife (Mrs. Chako)
PS: Sorry for the extensive letter . . . I just realized I can click "yes" or "no" in response to your offer for friendship. The internet makes blowing people off so much easier . . .
Monday, October 13, 2008
Months ago, before the transition of au pairs, my former au pair convinced Son #1 and I to have an Orkut page. It's like Facebook - but a favorite among the Brazilians, for whatever reason. Son #1 uses it more frequently - his "friends" include our former au pair, current au pair, and a host of other 20-something year old Brazilians. Someday one of his friends is going to tell him how cool that is - right now, he's just happy to send off stupid emoticons and other nonsense chat, and they all think he's cute.
I put my profile on there, mostly to stay in touch with my former au pair and her friends. It's not an exciting profile - "female, married" - a picture included. So far, my only friends are . . . surprise, surprise . . . Son #1, and the au pairs.
Today I noticed I have a new "friend" request . . . an 18-year old guy from LA. Someone with four names. Apparently Mr. J.M.S. Hamilton wants to be "friends" with me - The Wife. Imagine that.
Just for kicks, I checked out his profile. Nothing too exciting . . . claims he's "committed" . . . but apparently he needs to expand his "friends" beyond the whole bevy of 20-somethings currently filling his "friend" list.
What do you think folks? Kick him to the curb? Or tell him "come and get you a little MILF and cookies?"
PS: Maybe I just need a pair of new shoes.
Sick and tired.
No, really, I'm just sick. But it's making me tired. Tired of that tickle in my throat. Tired of the congestion. Tired of blowing my nose. Tired of sneezing. Tired of Nyquil. Sick, and tired.
To make matters worse, this happens to be the week that my overpaid and underworked husband has another one of his "have to use this quarter a year of vacation sometime" weeks off . . . So he's going to sit around the house playing poker, napping, and generally being underfoot, and I have probably about 80 hours of work to do before I travel next week to BFE Arkansas. Dry county no less.
If I invite you to my pity party, will you all come?
I promise there will be alcohol . . . unless we schedule it the week I'm in "who still thinks repealing Prohibition was the reason we're in this den of iniquity" Arkansas.
Sick and tired, but respectfully submitted,
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Agree, or disagree?
You are The Wheel of Fortune
Good fortune and happiness but sometimes a species of
intoxication with success
The Wheel of Fortune is all about big things, luck, change, fortune. Almost always good fortune. You are lucky in all things that you do and happy with the things that come to you. Be careful that success does not go to your head however. Sometimes luck can change.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Today I woke up realizing I have a full blown cold coming on. I thought about my schedule for the day:
- Early morning webcast on a BORING accounting topic
- Trying to review my subordinates' work (if yesterday's review was a preview of what I'm going to see today, I'm in for an uphill battle)
- Meeting to discuss the audit approach for my new client
- Meeting to negotiate for over $1 million in professional fees for the coming year (which includes a 13% increase over the prior year)
- Teaching a volunteer after school program to 3rd and 4th graders
How is a girl on cold medicine supposed to get through a day with that kind of pressure? I mean, shifting gears, alone, is going to be a challenge . . . I can smell the smoke already.
So today, I wore my knee-high black leather boots with a skirt. A friend once gave me a card. It says "Wear some cool boots. Cool boots make you feel like you can handle anything. Or at least kick it really hard."
I'm ready to kick something. Just stay out of my way, or it might be your ass.
I feel sorry for the 3rd and 4th graders . . .
Sunday, October 5, 2008
He traveled out ahead of me and his trip out to the Bash was less than spectacular. Weather and other delays kept him from getting to the hotel 'til nearly daybreak. Didn't stop him from golfing in the rain with the Canadians, but still not so much fun.
I, having a real job, where I am expected to do some minimal amount of work, could only spare a 3-day weekend. So I left early Friday morning, with plans to return late Sunday evening. I boarded in Seattle and was on my way to Philly via Chicago by 8:20 a.m. on Friday, and feeling good.
Until I got off the plane in Chicago. Looking for my 4:10 p.m. flight, I read the departure board . . . "CANCELLED".
Normally, this is where Mrs. Chako starts to feel out of control and gets a little self-important. Especially when the weekend was a little short anyway.
I went to the closest gate. Explained the situation. Calmly and politely. The man behind the counter said "Well, the 1:15 p.m. flight has been delayed to 3:15 p.m. - you might get on standby. Go to gate B9."
I calmly took my carryon and headed through O'Hare from the C gates to gate B9. Which was kind of like thinking about walking from Seattle to San Diego . . . you know, you think because it's still on the west coast, it has to be close, . . . but it's not.
When I got to B9, things didn't look so promising. The waiting area was filled with cranky fliers already delayed. The standby list was 37 passengers long. The line seemed longer.
The lady next to me said "You waiting for standby?" and when I told her I was on the canceled flight, she said "Oh, me too - so you already went to customer service?" Now I started to think my approach had been wrong. I noticed a customer service counter a ways down the hall. I left the line and headed to the counters, determined to do this right.
There weren't any actual customer service "agents," per se. There were simple several electronic terminals and one or two phones. I opted to use the computer, to see what kind of damage I could do. Hard as I tried, I could not convince that computer to put me on the 3:15 p.m. Not even standby. It booked me on the 7:52 p.m., and printed my boarding pass.
Again, while I normally would have been panicked at this time, a little voice in my head said "oh well. Screwed. What can you do?" I was puzzled and pleased at my zen-like state, and for whatever reason, I decided to head over to the stand-by line again. Who knows . . .
By the time I reached the front of the line, the standby list was pushing 40. I smiled my sweetest smile. Reached deep inside my heart for a fresh crop of sincerity.
"Good afternoon sir. I am going to ask you a question that I am SURE you are tired of hearing by now . . . any chance I could get on the standby list?"
He was pleasant, and didn't look at me like a three-headed hydra in heels. He took my boarding pass, looked it over, and said "Uh . . . you don't even have a seat assignment."
I explained the whole thing . . . cancelled flight . . . blah, blah, blah . . . electronic booking . . . yada, yada, yada . . . standby . . . . blah, blah, blah. Blah.
"Well, let me get your seat assigned. We can't do anything until your seat is assigned." He took my boarding pass and began typing furiously.
I put on my sweet voice. A smile. Leaned a little further over his kiosk, just in case cleavage had any influence. "Anything you could do, at this point, sir, would really be appreciated. I am sure all these passengers have been testing your patience." Shoulders back. Smile. Tilt head.
"I've got you on the list . . . now you just need to wait until your name is called." He handed me back some papers.
I didn't want to push my luck, but with a huge standby list, I didn't know what this would mean. I tried, carefully, to see if I could get any intel. "I realize the list is pretty long - any guess on whether you expect me to get on? Only so that I could call my friends and let them know I am delayed . . . "
"Oh, your chances are pretty good, given that you were delayed. Just watch the board." He looked down and began typing furiously again. I felt a little defeated, but what could I do?
I sat in a seat, and began to chat with everyone. Smiling, laughing, trying to breathe and not look at the board. Finally, my curiosity got the better of me. I turned around to the standby board behind me, to make sure my name was on it. And saw it. In the #2 position. #2.
What?!?!?! I turned back around. Then turned back to the board. Yep. Still #2. I looked over at the guy. He wasn't even looking at my cleavage. #2. Wow. I was near giddy. #2. I shared my good fortune. It was interrupted by them calling my name. With a boarding pass. On an aisle seat. WTF?!?!?!? I looked around, looking for the hidden cameras. Smiled sweetly at those around me . . . and then double-checked my new boarding pass. Yep. #2. Aisle seat.
We boarded the plane, and I thought the adventure was over. Until they got us all seated, only to tell us the plane was being delayed for air traffic control reasons, but that we had to stay on and taxi out to the runway, but couldn't depart for another hour and fifteen minutes.
Again, this is a point where I normally would be furious. But hey, I got an aisle seat - how could it get much better? So while others fretted and freaked, I pulled out my Sudoku and reved up a few synapses. 10 minutes later? Captain comes on and announces that we're now fourth in line for takeoff and we'll be wheels up in under 10.
True to his word, we lifted off. I was on a Philly-bound plane 20 minutes ahead of where I would have been had it all gone according to schedule. And without the risk to my blood pressure.
It was an uneventful flight, and made it in in time to play the Poker tourney. I could not have asked for it to turn out better. Karma, baby . . .
Which probably explains a lot about the nature of the Bash. Or any blogger gathering. Keep expecting to have your expectations met and exceeded . . .
Perfect prelude . . .
Saturday, October 4, 2008
But when I took a small break with my camera, I learned that Phoenixville, PA, had lots of other little interesting things to offer the eye . . . flowers, signs, architecture, and other treasures . . .
More notorious characters . . .
Finishing the night with good friends . . .
Friday, October 3, 2008
Friday, we poker;
Hug me; now go write for me.
Breakfast? You? Anytime.
More than I say or you know.
A giant teddy bear,
Yet properly indecent.
Loved the missus too!