Day 32- Planes, Taxi’s and Ships! OH MY!!

The first time I ever flew in a plane was back in 1997 from Lexington to Atlanta to Miami.  Was fun. I think the best part of the flight is the take-off and landing.  Freaking awesome!!
I turn into the biggest 4 year old when I fly.. constantly oooo’ing and aahhh’ing while looking out the window. The only time I didn’t like a flight was when I spent 12 hours over the freaking ocean……at night.  That’s another post though.

Anyway, so after a short layover in Atlanta I was back on flight to Miami. That flight was pretty.  A lot of that time in air the plane straddled land and sea- the contrast was something from an art gallery.  Looking out of my window was ocean, glancing across the small plane and out of the other window was land.  It was like being in a twilight zone elisode and I was totally amazed. Haha. (Doesn’t take much)
When I landed I got my bags and hailed my very first taxi!! How exciting!!  The cab driver looked like someone straight off of I Love Lucy .. he had a carmel complexion, onyx hair and eyes to match. Black dress pants and a bright purple silky looking shirt.  He was very nice as he drove me to port; talking about Miami and asking me questions about where I was from and if I had ever been to Miami before. I kept watching his shirt shimmering in the sun as I answered his questions.  Honestly I just wanted to touch it.  It was all in could do not to touch his shirt. I’m such a weird-o.     His radio played some sort of Latino inspired diddy that had me wiggling in the backseat but the cab itself smelled bad, like salt and fish flakes- probably because he had the windows down and we were near the ocean.  I dunno but he definitely needed an air freshner, for real.

FYI: I had been to Florida a handful of times to vacation (previous post) but never to Miami.  Miami is NOTHING like Siesta Key.   Miami was festive and it was buzzing with life whereas Siesta Key is pretty much where old people go to die.  Just sayin’.

Anyway, at the port I was absolutely  flabbergasted.  Completely and utterly speachless at the size and quantity of all the ships.  I guess I assumed there’d be like my ship and maybe a few little sailboats or something, I really had no clue what to expect.  And the ships just kind of snuck up on me… I didn’t see them them from the cab until I turned into the docking area, then it like like BAM!!  Ships galore.  I just couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it and it has been 18 years. 

The ships’ name was Carnival Destiny and OMG it was gorgeous.  While people are boarding, the ship is really crowded and chaotic. I kept getting pushed, bumped and shoved because I kept standing in awe with my mouth on the floor.  The elevator just kept going up..and up.. and up.  This ship was flippin’ enormous!!  The only thing close to a ship I’d ever been on was a pontoon out in the middle of Laurel Lake. Hahaha
I wish I was kidding.

Once I found my stateroom and unloaded my crap I head back out to explore up on deck.  Pools, bars, chairs.. people and music and people… being a social butterfly, I was in heaven!!  I remember standing at the railing of the deck and looking out at all of the other ships in port.  I couldn’t believe I had just flown in two planes, hailed a taxi and now I was standing on the deck of this huge ass ship.   I really cannot say it enough, it was amazing!!!! 

The worst part happened right before we launched.  The Captain decided we needed to have sinking ship drill and he had everyone go back to their stateroom to grab big ole orange life preserver’s and bring them back up to your designated deck.  This task made me nervous. I’m not one for listening or following directions… and to be honest, I wasn’t even sure I knew how to get back to my stateroom.  I had help the first time and I didn’t pay attention.😨

I did make it back to my room and I did find my huge orange neck float thingy and I did find a deck… not really sure if it was my deck but it was a deck and it had a lifeboat and well, that was ok with me because here’s the deal people..
if the ship starts to sink I’m telling ya right now, I don’t really care which deck I’m supposed to be on, Imma go to the one I’m closest to and Imma get on one of those lifeboats, I Guarandamnteeya that!!  Hell-  I saw Titanic and I’m not trying to float on a scrap of ship out in the middle of Jaws’ neighborhood. Nope.

Ok so… this ship had 17 floors of bars, tv walls, dance clubs, places to eat, pools, hot tubs, gyms, salons, stores, people and much more.  The ships  photographer seemed to pop out of the walls. Everyday I’d check the gallery and find several photos of myself with random people!  So funny.  I pretty much invented the photobomb. 😂

I loved dressing up and going to dinner.  Every night was a different theme – the waiters dressed up and they would sing dance. It was fantastic. 
The worst thing I ever put in my mouth happened on that ship; escargot. That little snail made my kneepits sweat.  I didn’t want to eat it but everyone else at the table was wolfing them down so.. I pulled it out of its little shell and I popped it into my mouth. I chewed it one time and swallowed it whole.  It taste like a salty ball of snot.  So gross. Secretly I hoped it was really dead and wouldn’t attempt to crawl out….. from either end.

Our waiters name was, Jude. He was from India.  He had been on the ship for the two years it had been in commission.  He was saving money for a wedding and a house.  How sweet.  Every night Jude smiled and served us enthusiastically so my table decided we wanted to do something for him at the end of the week.  Somehow I got voted to sing the Beatles hit, “Hey Jude,” to him on the last morning after breakfast.  I didn’t know the words so they all taught me. 
Now, if you didn’t already know this about me, I’m telling you now, I suffer from extreme stage fright. I had nervous diarrhea and everything.  It was bad.  I calm down once I get going but that first step is always a doozy.   I did end up pulling it off.  Jude just sat smiling from ear to ear. After he said no one had ever been so nice.
That was probably the best part of the entire time on the ship.

Tomorrow: port Playa del Carmen, Mexico 

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-Willow

Day 24 – Funkytown

Garlic. That’s what I smelled like after dinner up until about 5 minutes ago.  I hate that – going out to eat and leaving smelling like whatever style of cuisine it was you ate. Tonight was Italian with its huge garlicky breadsticks, supreme pizza, cabernet and ricotta pie.

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After dinner I chewed gum, ate mints..nothing could kill that garlic! That garlic was strong, like vampire resistant strong.

Anyway, it’s not just Italian food, Mexican food might be the worst. Whenever I leave a Mexican joint I pretty much get home and have to burn my clothes.  The smell of onions and Mexican meat permeates my entire room. 
Oh and I don’t know where you grew up but I did a lot of growing up in a black neighborhood and lemme tell ya, those black women can cook!! Every Friday in the hood there’s a fish fry, that’s because all week the uncles and granddaddies had been out fishin’.  If you’ve never experienced this lemme tell ya how it goes.  Freshly caught, cleaned fish is soaked in milk, rolled in seasoned cornmeal, dipped in egg and rolled in seasoned cornmeal one more time then dropped into turkey deep friers (far away from the house)  When they float back up, they’re scooped out, seasoned again, then served.  Fish fries in the  neighborhood weren’t free.. they were $5; which was pretty cheap considering what you got.  You just strolled up to whoevers house was fryin’, paid your $5 and in just a few minutes you were handed a plate with more food than you could handle.  On the plate was a bun loaded with whatever kind of fish that was biting that week, greens, and either slaw or sometimes baked beans or sometimes both!!  For a drink you got Kool-aid.  Haha TRUE STORY!!! No one sat around eating though, you took your plate and your red drink with oranges floating in it and you left.  Ain’t nobody got time for loitering.
Sometimes my son played football in that park for middle school and the fish fries would be booming.  The only downside to these things… everyone smelled like fish grease.  The whole damn neighborhood!!

Indian food is bad too. Taste amazing but leaves you smelling like curry for days. Curry spices like, stick to your arteries or something because you sweat it out long after you ate it.
Oh and KFC.. yeah chicken grease is just as bad.  You leave KFC and all the strays in the neighborhood will chase you down.

Man.. still.. nothing is worse than Mexican food.  That stuff makes you smell funky like BO.
Yep. It’s definitely the worst.

-Willow

Day 22 – Bean Juice

As I sit here, not doing homework, or house work, or wood work.. or any other kind of work I ponder the cup of coffee next to me.  Its good but it’s not Nana’s house good.  Knowutimean?   I don’t know how my Nana does it- but every single time, she makes the perfect cup of coffee.  Seriously she does. Her coffee is so rich and delicious that I went out and bought the same kind of coffee.  My coffee didn’t taste like hers, so I then purchased the same coffee maker as my Nana’s. Still, my coffee couldn’t touch hers.  The next time I was over I told her that I couldn’t get my coffee to taste like her coffee and I didn’t know why.  So, my Nana gave me the same kind of scoop as she uses thinking maybe it was a measuring error.  I was so excited that when I returned home I immediately made a pot of coffee.  Nope. Not even close.  I mean, it was good, but not Nana’s house good.  Some time went by before I saw my Nana again.  At that time she lived an hour away, two cities over.  But the next time I saw her, we talked again about my failed attempt at her coffee. My Nana is sweet- her way to fix this problem was to have me make a pot at her house.  She coached me with every step.. the end result was rich and delicious Nana coffee.  My Nana said that perhaps it was the difference in our water.  I lived in a town that had very hard water and she didn’t. So, she suggest I buy a gallon of distilled and give it a go. That sound like a fine idea, but I secretly just hoped that I had caught her magic touch as if it were contagious.

The very next morning I got up, scooped my beans, poured in my water – everything was perfect; no way I could fail.

I was wrong and I gave up.

When I saw my Nana next, she asked about the coffee and I told her I gave up because nothing I did could duplicate her coffee.  I told her how I bought the same coffee, the same pot, used her scoop and bottled water…. and nothing worked. She laughs and says, “Well Suga (that’s what she calls me) it must be the cups!!”

I laughed too, but inside I knew why I couldn’t duplicate her coffee; I wasn’t her.   There’s just something magical about a Nana.  I know this because I’m a Nana now.  I have a beautiful 18 month old granddaughter (Rae) and a grandson still in utero (Idris) He kinda looks like an alien right now. LOL  I hope one day that one of those two will try as hard as I did to duplicate my coffee same as I did my Nana’s.

Nana’s house coffee isn’t the only coffee I love.  I love the coffee houses around here too.  They each taste different.  Not because of different bean or flavors but because of atmosphere and because of whose company I’m sharing in.  Courtney and I drink coffee that taste nutty and mild.  Gosa and I drink coffee that’s serious and bold.  My husband and I drink coffee that’s warm and relaxing.  Make sense?

My dad calls coffee, “Bean Juice.”  hahaha  He also calls eggs, “hen fruit.”  He’s a nut but hes a sweet nut.   Growing up my Nana’s coffee maker sat on her gas stove.  It was like some sort of glass percolator.  One night I was ay my dads for dinner and he was using that coffee maker to heat water for iced tea.  We had ourselves a whole conversation about that coffee maker.

That Christmas I unwrapped one. I cried.  He said he had walked into a thrift store with his wife and there it was, sitting on a top shelf, dusty.  He bought that pot for $7, and I can honestly say that I have never received a more perfect gift.
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Day 20- Hodge Podge

What a day this has been.  I woke up this morning with nothing on my schedule but a hair appointment at 10 o’clock this morning but it ended up being cray-cray!  How does this happen?

As I sat with my hair full of foils, my 12 y.o. daughter Danielle, calls to tell me she can’t breathe and needs her inhaler and then my mum calls to tell me she’s being taken to the hospital- but I didn’t know any of this until later because I didn’t hear my phone ringing while I was under the dryer.  Of course as soon as I found out I attempted to call them both but both let me go to VM.  I panic when my 12 y.o. has issues because she is epileptic and I’m always fearful she will have a seizure. She has only had two (11 months apart) and is currently 14 months seizure free.  I know in my gut that she has outgrown the nightmare but it’s so hard at times to trust my instincts.  If you have ever witnessed your child turning blue and foaming from the mouth, you’d understand how powerful the sense of helplessness is- it stays with you forever.    Anyway, my husband called me shorty after to tell me he was on his way to the school with an inhaler, not to worry-  I was worried and I continued to worry until I heard from Danielle.   As my husband and I spoke we came to the conclusion that Danielle probably wasn’t having an asthma attack but rather a bout of anxiety over a regional band audition.   This morning Danielle told me that her audition was tomorrow night at 7, turned out she was wrong.  Her nerves had a grip around her throat and she was freaking out.  When she finally text me back she said she was fine and didn’t need her inhaler which made me feel a crap-ton better.

My mum- she’s fine too but I didn’t know that until after my hair was done and I walked into the ER.  There she sat, fine as frog hair with her cousin.  I didn’t stay long because there was no reason. My mum was fine and seemingly in decent hands- what was I going to do except worry about all the germs that were clinging to the inside of my nose and reeking havoc on my immune system??  No thanks.  After a quick hug and a bath in Purell I was off to grab lunch; two donuts & coffee from Dunkin.  MMMmmm….Once home I caught up on the laundry and homework. Same ole shit as every other day.  I really don’t mind though, I like being a housewife.  I wouldn’t trade my housewife life for the single life ever.  It’s what I was built to do.

Tonight at dinner I was taken aback a little.  We went to City Barbeque and a guy I know who worked there, his photo was in a frame on a shelf.  I walked over expecting to see him being recognized for outstanding customer service but instead he was being remembered a year after his passing.   Wow.  I feel like we just saw him – he was just smiling and talking about his kids, how happy he was managing City.  He went out of his way to serve us and to make sure we were happy and would return.  I didn’t know Geoff well, but what I did know of him, he was a good guy. He was my age- 40.  Sad. Very sad.     When I got to the window to order I asked what had happened to him- she ‘thinks’ it was a car wreck.  I’ll have to Google that after this post. I don’t know why, but I feel the need to know what happened to him.

Anyway, so Danielle is off to her audition with the other kids from the state and I am off to my workshop to begin stripping paint from an old chair of mine.

. Danielle

GOOGLE RESULTS::** At 1:16 p.m. Monday, officers responded to an injury accident on Boone Avenue in which a vehicle driven by Geoff Thomas of 140 Alabama St. reportedly pulled in front of another vehicle, driven by Chelsea Jacobson of Paris. Thomas was unable to speak to officers at the scene and was transported to the University of Kentucky Medical Center with unspecified injuries. Jacobson told officers she was southbound when Thomas pulled in front of her.**

Day 17 – Food

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I love to eat and because of my love for food, I thank God for blessing me with a high metabolism and thyroid disease!! As much as I eat, and what I eat– I should be huge! Because of my love for salt and sugar, I’d be screwed if I ever developed hypertension or diabetes. (aka “the sugar” where I’m from) There are some days I eat so much that I wonder if I have an intestinal worm.  If I do, I’ve had him my whole life because I’ve been the same petite size 4 since 5th grade. Stop your eye-rollin’ and bitchin’…   I’m not trying to rub it in that I can eat what I want and not gain weight. That is not what this is about.  This is about my love for food.

My favorite foods are those with thick gravies and heavy sauces. Love me some Indian curry.  I know Indians don’t eat beef due to how it could be their reincarnated uncle Jayarama but come on now, why must they substitute it with goat meat?  I do not like goat meat. Goat whether it’s meat or milk, no matter what spices you use with, taste like the smell of goat ass. No thank you, I’ll die first. I’m not quite sure what I think of lentils either. They’re kind of like peas and peas taste like.. peas. YUK!  Chicken.. Chicken is good.

Once we drove up to Louisville just to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant. My husband apparently fell in love with Ethiopian food while he was over there inoculating goats (haha goats. gross). Yeah- it’s pretty much not good.  Everything on the huge platter looked as though someone already chewed it up then hacked it back out; not a fan of squishy textures.   Their bread (injera) was something to enjoy!  Basically injera is an edible ACE bandage that taste like sour dough with more sour in it. Was fun to unroll it and gobble it up.   Ethiopian food was a disappointment for me because of the amount of beef used in the dishes. Being adventurous, I was hoping for grubs or something.

Mexican food is over-rated.  We have an “authentic Mexican restaurant” on every corner here; sometimes three!!  When I was in Mexico the food was the same as here in the States; Americanized.   Apparently I didn’t get far enough out of the tourist trap to sample real Mexican food.  It’s probably a good thing being that I spent waaaaay too much time at “Carlos & Charlies” dancing on the tables and in the tequila conga line.  Oh well, fortunately for me, I have some real Mexicans in my family and they make some good stuff.

Japanese, Korean, and Chinese food (in that order) is awesome and probably my favorite.  Where else on earth can one enjoy a frogs heart still beating on a stick,  or a side of fugu (deadly blowfish) or any other kind of sea creature you could imagine??  MMM.. kimchee and beef tongue.

Have I mentioned that Andrew Zimmern is my hero?  Man, I love him and I wish I had his job.  He travels about eating all kinds of weird stuff and after I watch him eat it on Bizarre Foods, I drive up to Cincinnati to an international market called, “Jungle Jims,” so I can buy what he ate and eat it too!  STALKER!!!!  hahahaha… So far I’ve eaten balut, durian and an assortment of insects.  Durian though- – wow. That thing should not be considered a fruit.  Fruit should be sweet, juicy and delicious.  Durian taste like garlicky feet, and armpit pudding. YUK YUK YUK!!!   I’ll post the video again just because it’s so funny.  My son is such a drama queen and I’m pretty ridiculous with cotton balls in my nose. hahaha  http://youtu.be/Zj4XBg_KJCk

Ok well, I have to go now; I’m starving!!

P.S.

Cooper Jones should have been named the Frito Bandito.  Even after a bath with all the trimmings, his little feet still smell like corn chips.  Doxies like to tunnel and they like to tunnel under your blankets; Everytime I rolled over, I got a hankering for some chili n’ cheese. 😨

Day 4 – Dad’s

Went to visit my dad today. It’s been forever since I’ve been to his house.  Dad comes to my house often because we have 6 kids and there’s a lot of birthday parties hahaha  When I go down his way, it’s always to my grandmother’s house (his mom) because that’s where the entire family gathers for dinner every important holiday.
My dad is the cook in his house. I’m fairly sure he enjoys it. He texted yesterday to see if a pork loin, smoked with peach wood chips would be ok for lunch.  Of course it was ok!!!
Later he texted to see what went with it….   he’s so cute. 😙  I told my dad I’d bring a side.

My dad lives in the next town over, it’s not far by miles, however traffic from here to there is a freaking nightmare.  What should take 20 minutes turns into 45, unless it Christmas season then it takes about 2 hours because the ONLY indoor mall is between us.

Dads house smelled amazing with its aromas of seasoned pork, rolls and baked apples dancing in the air.   7 of us circled the perfectly set table, filling every chair plus a borrowed one from the desk in the next room.  Holding hands my dads voice praised and thanked God for the food given and for the family that would be nourished by it.  Bowls passed from left to right until all plates were filled; leaving only enough left over to make a plate to take over to my grandparents.
With dinner gobbled down and plates cleared, dad broke out the apple pie; homemade from sweet apple center to the browned crust on top.   A scoop or two of vanilla bean ice cream and Voilā!  ….perfection!!

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Three and a half hours later I was home and I get a text from my dad sending hopes that I had enjoyed my day.

How could I have not?

Day 3 – Lamb Shanks

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I’ve never cooked lamb before tonight and now I know why…  it stinks! How can something so damn cute smell so bad?  It has this weird stench, sorta like a barnyard animal that was hit by a tractor and left in the sun all day.   To me, all meat stinks. I hate to touch it when it’s raw and usually get my husband chop it up and put it in the pan.  One meat I refuse to ever eat again is goat.  Goat meat taste exactly like it smelled when it was alive. Goat milk too… can’t do it.  So someone please tell me why I thought it would be a good idea to purchase 5 lamb shanks this week???   I’ve had lamb once or twice and I think it was good but I had it at a restaurant so someone else prepared it.  Tonight I had to wikihow to cook these things because I had no clue.  The app said, “low and slow,” as in, use a crockpot.  Ok!!
Each shank… (what the hell kind of body part is a shank anyway?) had to be cut from its net and then it’s air tight package. I almost fainted when I release the first leg..or shoulder or kneecap or whatever, from the package into my hand.  The 😨 odor was something so unfamiliar that my husband had to Google it to see what it was supposed to smell like.
Apparently lamb has an intense aroma. Being the weirdo I am, I then turned around and searched how to tell if lamb meat is bad-  because I wasn’t satisfied with Google alone.  Ehow said bad lamb meat would be grey or tan, sticky or slimy and expired.  My lamb was bright pink, felt like a roast and wasn’t expired, so I washed the blood off the shanks and placed them into the crockpot with olive oil, onions, potatoes and garlic.
Wiki said to let them cook on low until the meat falls from the bone so I guess the shanks can cook all night.  I’m just reeeeaaalllly thankful that it’s warm outside tonight so I can leave a window open.

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Day 2 – Bombay

It started like any other day, coffee and Netflix.  For those of you who don’t know me, I’m addicted to documentaries.  Documentaries and reality tv. I’m a junkie and I shoot up with them daily.  I can’t stop.
I’ve loved all topics of criminal justice since I was a kid, only I didn’t know it was called, ‘criminal justice,’ I thought it was just cool.     Once I checked out so many books on serial killers and forensics that I was flagged at the library. The only thing I can tell you about that is apparently if a murder had happened in my town the police could have questioned me about it based on the amount of literature I read on crime.  Who knew that could happen?

“Cops.” Oh my god I fell in love with that show.  Once they were in Louisville (close to home) and I was all psyched out.  Somehow I felt like I had celebrity status because Cops was filmed in my state.  Oh and “Lockup Raw”- don’t even get me started on that awesome show. 

I’ve learned so really cool tips and tricks from the prison world. Like, who knew you could iron stolen bread & cheese inside a brown paper bag to make grilled cheese, or that a package of Skittles could be used as makeup?  I’ve learned how to make shanks out of soap and send prison texts (aka. kites)

This morning I found a show called ‘Hard Time.’   It is 6 episodes filmed inside Hays State Prison down in Georgia. Hays ain’t no joke-  they’ve had a lot of controversy in the past over abusive CO’s and rapes.  (Natgeo left that tasty tidbit of information out of their little documentary) Anyway, the inmates were pretty creative.  They were talking about their “jobs” in prison and one guy was responsible for keeping a wick burning at all times.  This wick was like forever long, made from tightly twisted tp.  The wick was used to light smokes, burn a roll of tp to brew fresh coffee and to light mattresses on fire during the protest over the abuse of the CO’s.  Seems like a legit business.

People assume that all criminals are hardened. That’s just not true.  Like today, I saw a murderer make a Bombay for another murderer for his birthday. Because no one has all the ingredients, the inmates pull together to make it. It’s made for special occasions only. A Bombay is a nonalcoholic drink made of a few simple ingredients: cherry kool-aid, sugar, instant coffee, pop and ice.  The inmates get “geeked out” on it.  I guess even a small amount of the caffeine/sugar concoction gives them a buzz after being denied such things for so long.

I listened carefully how the bombay was made then head to the grocery for the ingredients.  I mixed that shit up and drank it like a boss!!  IT WAS GOOD!! To me it taste like real sweet cherry coke or Cheerwine (gotta be from NC to know what that is) 
You know you wanna try it so here’s how:

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1. Cherry kool-aid
2. 1 c. Sugar
3. Instant coffee
4. Pop
5. Mix sugar and kool-aid. Put 5 teaspoons in a tall cup. Add 2 teaspoons of instant coffee.
6. Pour in the pop. (Foams a LOT) stir. Add ice.
7. Share

You’re welcome.

Time to Make the… what the hell?

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You show me one person who doesn’t like a piping hot ring of yeast, dripping with a fine white glaze of sweet sugar and we will both know the face of Satan.

When I was a kid, my mom worked at a Dunkin Donut’s.  She worked the graveyard shift, which was 10pm to 6am.  What an amazing job that was…. well, amazing for a 5 year old anyway.   Many nights I went to work with my mom.  Don’t you judge her…. back then it wasn’t odd, abusive or against the law; unlike today.  Hell, nowadays you can’t even raise your voice at an unruly kid without some nosy ass person trying to get ya thrown in the pokey.  That’s whats wrong with the world today– but I’ll save that for the next blog, as I have been inspired st this very moment to write about the donut shop.

I grew up in the donut shop- literally.  It was my home away from home and I’ll never forget the smell.  I could draw from memory every detail of that shop right now, 36 years later, same as I could my great-grandmothers little old house. (The “Little House,”  that too is another blog)         In the back of the donut shop there was a small storage area filled with 5 gallon buckets of oil, raspberry jelly, chocolate & cream filling, chopped nuts and sprinkles.  Boxes of colored donut paper, deli paper, gloves. Sacks of sugars, yeast and flour….. and this my friend is where I slept. I know that sounds corny but its true.  I had a Pink Panther sleeping bag that I took to the shop and spread out atop the stacked bags of flour and that was my bed many a’night.

There were two bakers that I remember; Jim and Gary.  I recall Jim looking like Cheech Marin and Gary looked like Barry Gibb- feathered hair and all. I’m pretty sure Gary was my first crush; with his 70’s hairstyle, a hemostat clamp looking earring with a feather on its end, and white bakers uniform- what was not to love??   hahahahahaha    Those two fellas spoiled me and I loved to hang out with them.   I would stand on my 5 gallon bucket of jelly and watch contently as  they would add the heavy bags of dry goods and eggs into the 40qt mixer.  I’m sure there were more ingredients but I can’t recall them anymore.  After the stuff was measured out and poured into the huge mixing-bowl, the metal hooks would spin until the ingredients were blended into a soft dough.   The mixer bowl was covered with a white cloth and the dough was left to rise.  Later one of the guys would roll the mixing-bowl to the table. I was always amazed at how magical the sticky mess transformed into a puffy white overgrown marshmallow that no doubt had a mind of its own.   The baker for the night would reach into a sack of flour, scoop up a handful and throw it across the table as though he was feeding chickens.  He would repeat this about three or four times to ensure the surface was covered.  Picking the large metal mixing-bowl up had to be hard but the baker seemed to do it with ease… he’d heave that bowl up from the floor and toss it up to the floured stainless table. The impact of the heavy bowl made large dents at the end of the table.  You see, back in the 70’s there was no way to avoid this kind of damage to property, your toe if you missed or to the muscles of your back.   There was no ‘ergonomically correct’ way to do your job, you just did it, whatever it took- blood, sweat and rips to the lower lumbar, and IF you happened to hurt yourself on the job, you didn’t cry and file for free money.    Seriously, you ate Doan’s back pills like Tic-Tac’s and pushed through it because if you didn’t there wouldn’t be a job for you to come back to; No wuss laws back then my friend.       Anyway,  reaching into the bowl the baker would cut off a slab of dough, drag it like a dead body out of its resting place and throw it into the middle of the table.  “POOF!”  Flour would cloud up like the photo you see of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima. (I know that’s pretty tacky to say, but my daughter is half Japanese so I have rights that other white people don’t lol)  Before the flour cloud could settle, the guys would have their slab of dough massaged into a neat ball, flatted, and kneaded back into a ball over and over again until it was ready to be rolled and cut.   The baker would knead and roll out a slab for me every single time I was around.  He’d showed me how to take the 3″ cutter, push it into the dough and with a tiny turn of my little hand, I’d cut a perfect ring with a hole in its middle.  The middles were tossed to the side, later to used for “Munchkins.”  Munchkins were what we called the donut holes back in the day… they were my favorite and that’s how I got the nickname..”Munchkin.”  That name carried all the way into Middle school where it was put onto the back of my Letterman jacket. Sometimes my momma still calls me, Munchie.

After the dough rings were cut, they were placed neatly onto big plastic trays that the baker had previously covered with waxed paper.  Once the tray was full, it was  slid onto one of the shelves of  the Proofer and left there until the yeast swelled the rings to life.  They were carried tray at a time to the fryer.  The baker would toss the rings into the hot oil.  I wasn’t allowed near the fryer but I could see everything clearly from the jelly bucket I stood on over by the table.  As soon as the last ring was placed into the fryer the baker would use long metal chopstick looking things and flip the rings; they went from white rings to biscuit brown donuts in seconds.  As quickly as the rings were placed in the fryer, the baker had them flipped and scooped up on those metal sticks and slid onto a drying rack.  By hand my momma would take the naked donuts from the rack and dip their tops into chocolate or glaze and place them neatly onto the case trays covered in colored paper.  The color of the paper let customers know wTodays Specialhen the donuts were made. For example, yellow might have meant morning, pink afternoon, white night.  This paper also allowed the baker to know when to pull the stales.  My momma wouldn’t let stales be thrown away, instead she’d bag them up and give them to the hobo’s that would come by at night.  Speaking of hand-dipping, every night that I was there, I was allowed to make the, “Today’s Special.”  My donuts were always a huge hit-  I think that’s because all the fella’s at the counter knew that I had made them and they loved my momma,  so they bought them up just to make us both happy.   I’m sure my donuts were a hot mess with their pink frosting and too many waxy sprinkles.

My poor momma-  she worked hard in that shop.  She was good at her job.  She was allergic to the powdered sugar and cinnamon but that didn’t stop her from tossing donuts around in the dusting bins. (remember, push through)    I tell you one thing, there’s no one out there as good as my momma was.  That woman could work the back, the front and the counter, all while pouring hot coffee and without missing a beat.     When things would get quiet the “regulars” would come trickling in just to talk to her.  By regulars I mean THE COOLEST PEOPLE EVER!!  All night long the counter would fill with detectives, policemen, firefighters, medics and journalist.  My momma would hear every piece of news before it was broadcast; wrecks, fires, car chases, bar fights, burglaries, robberies…  you name it!!!  This is probably why I loved that donut shop much- my twisted little mind had a flare for horror stories. hahaha.   The counter at the donut shop really had an impact on my life.  I fell in love with all of those first responders and that’s why I became one of  them. (another blog to come)

Being that I grew up in that donut shop I always had a sense of entitlement.  It was my donut shop.  MINE!!!!!   I had plans dammit. I was going to buy it when I grew up and I was going to be the baker and my momma was gonna keep my customers happy and my kids were gonna sleep on flour sacks.  So you can imagine how I felt when I drove past it many years later. I can still hear the pieces of my shattered heart hitting my stomach when I saw that some Indian folks bought it and turned it into a Blimpie’s.   What is it with Indians and sub shops?  Whatsamatter with donuts?  Why would they fix what wasn’t broken?   I ranted about it for years before eventually accepting that my once pristine donut shop was now Blimpie green and instead of the sweet smell of sugar and yeast, it smelled like onions and bell peppers. I rested when I realized that I could turn it back into a donut shop. The hope wasn’t lost…until a few weeks ago.  As I drove by expecting to see posters of freshly made subs (that never actually look like the poster when you order them) hanging in the windows, I saw that someone else had purchased my Blimpie donut shop…  and let me tell you, they weren’t afraid to turn the paint up a notch either.  My Blimipe donut shop was lost to a now BRIGHT neon lime green building with a black tinted front door. ..the windows were gone too.   My Blimpie donut shop was now the home of auto accessories. Damn.  Now my hope is gone.  I could work with the smell of onion but there’s nothing I can do about the smell of rubber, grease and…..  redneck.