Friday, January 23, 2015

Big Beef With Boston Chicken

Take one look at that sad plate of crumbled corn bread and tell me that you wouldn't be upset.  I dare you.  I mean, the food at Boston Market isn't gourmet, but it's good home-cookin, and the best part is the corn bread.  So when you get a bag of corn bread crumbs, there's reason to be upset enough to tweet a picture of it to Boston Market to say, Hey Boston Market, what happened to my cornbread?  And then they should tweet back, We're so sorry--Free Corn Bread For Life!

Okay, I'm not expecting free corn bread for life, but I'm a little bitter.  Back in September--which is now last year--Eddie and I decided we should pick up some Boston Market for the family.  We put our order in ahead of time online as we always do, and then drove to pick it up.

We got there and the place was pretty empty. We went right up to the cash register and said we were there for our order.  The cashier called out to one of the workers, Did you get that order set up for me hmmmmm?  There was a distinct condescending tone in her voice, but I don't know what goes on there all the time, so maybe the benefit of the doubt is that the worker doesn't listen and the cashier gets exasperated.  Maybe.  Really, I don't care.  I just want my food and I like when people respect each other, so I was itching to get out of there already.

The server pointed towards the back of the kitchen and to the counter behind the register.  Our food was sitting out, uncovered, in both places.  The cashier, whom I think was a manager because her shirt was a different color, covered all the plates and then asked us something about gravy.  She suggested we get the larger size for cost effectiveness, so we agreed.  That's when she asked the server for a family-size container.  The server handed her a container.  The cashier would not take it from her.  She simply repeated, Family-size.  The server held out the same container.

You'd think it would stop there because Eddie and I both caught on that the container in the server's hand was not family size, and that clearly she didn't know what it meant.  So instead of saying, No, the bigger container, the cashier kept repeating, Family size.  She kept saying it more loudly as if volume was both the problem and the solution.  Finally, she grabbed the bigger sized container, held it up for the worker, and said, Family sized.

Meanwhile, a line of one person formed behind us.  Her plate of food was ready to go.  The other server set it out next to the register.  Uncovered.  Sitting there.  So while the container size debacle was occurring, the woman behind us rightly pointed out, My food is getting cold!  Sing it, sister!  So was ours!

No one responded to the woman behind us.  Instead, the gravy and container took precedence, and finally we were able to pay and get the heck out of there after twenty minutes.  Twenty. Minutes.  Isn't speed the reason for online ordering?  For shame, Boston Market, for shame!

The drive from Boston Market to my parents' house is about five minutes.  Either the food had been sitting out a long time in the restaurant or my car acts as a flash freezer because by the time we got it home, it was lukewarm at best. For shame, Boston Market, for shame!

I separated the meals and found that my dad's meal contained spinach as a side, which is not what he ordered.  Now if we'd ordered in person or over the phone, I'd understand that someone can mis-hear an order, but we'd ordered online.  All they have to do is read and check off what they do.  My dad is on blood and heart meds, so spinach is basically poison for him, so I took the rest of his food out and put it on a poison-free plate and gave him my side of lukewarm veggies instead.  I could get all slippery slope here and say, For shame for trying to poison my dad, Boston Market, for shame! But I won't.

While we weren't over the moon about our meal, it was still a meal.  We could heat up the cold parts (though I'm not sure if that rids the food of possible salmonella).  Then Eddie asked, Where's the corn bread?  And I was like, Oh, yes, that will save this meal!

So I opened the bag of corn bread, stuck my hand in, and pulled out what looked like a corner of a mini-bread.  Then I dumped the bag and got what you see up top.  A pile of corn bread pieces and crumbs.  That. Was. It.

FOR SHAME, BOSTON MARKET, FOR SHAME!!!

I got my phone, snapped a pic, and tweeted at Boston Market:
Lukewarm meals, the wrong sides, and then we empty the bag to find this.

They tweeted back at me a number I should call.  I called the number and left a detailed message because no one answered.  Then I went onto their website and submitted a complaint there.

Then? Nothing.

So in November I tweeted again since it was the only way I received the first response:
In Sept, I tweeted. You gave me further contact info. I emailed. I called. No response. Disheartened.

Then?

Well, I'm writing this, right?  Which means I got nothing.  Except bitter.  And now I'm done.  Except for this:

For shame, Boston Market, for shame!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Speedy Baddriverson and Me: One Year Anniversary

It's not surprising and quite fitting that my hip hurts today. Every day, it's something new. One year ago today was a sunny crisp day with clean, dry streets, quite different from the day before that brought about a snow day for the first day of Spring semester 2014. Before one year ago today, I was active, healthy, on top of the world. So this was the second day of school but the first day we had classes, and I was driving home, content, and then, Speedy Baddriverson rear-ended me.

2014 turned out to be a year of dealing with doctors and therapists and no-fault insurance. It was all ice packs and heating pads and stretches and stupidity. I got advice like, You should stretch and strengthen your abs, from doctors whom I'd just told, I taught yoga before the collision. I got advice like, Take tumeric. So I've added tumeric to everything. I've learned that too much tumeric can lead to heartburn.

The orthopedist did not help my back spasms, but physical therapy did.

The pain moved to my lower back when the spasms stopped. The physical therapy ran out then, anyway, so I went to a chiropractor.

My summer was consumed by three appointments a week, going to see the chiropractor for adjustments. The stress of slow results and pain moving from lower back to mid back and then back down again wreaked havoc on me. I got pains in my stomach. I was always tired. I was always achy.

I got a second chiropractic opinion that offered less aggressive adjustment, more alternative experiments. The drawback: he's in Brooklyn, and in traffic on the Belt, that means traveling 40 minutes to get there. But he was positive and determined to get me better, so I went. He sent me to get an MRI, something I swore I'd never do, but I did it (and it really was not as confined as had been described to me). I did cupping. Oh, the cupping. I got gentle adjustments. I got electro-tingly therapy. It was good when I was getting it. I was still achy, though.

Basically, if I tried to go back to living the same way I was with super duper workouts, I fell back into pain.

And then the insurance ran out. The no-fault doctor told Geico that I was fine. It's fine to be in pain every day.

I keep stretching. I keep moving. I can't get into the full yoga positions I used to, but I don't stop. The elliptical finally arrived from the old place and it's now in the home gym for me to use for a low impact high results workout. And I've been on a Whole 30 nutrition plan aimed at reducing inflammation, the culprit the second chiropractor was after. He told me I'd get better.

Here I am a year later, and I am not cured. However, I'm 22 days into Whole 30 and there are less aches, which means that I might possibly have less inflammation. Eddie says I've been complaining less, which means either I've simply gotten used to feeling this way or I'm getting better. I'd like to think I'm getting better. The aches move between my lower back and my hips. Because I've had so much of a problem with my lower back, I haven't been able to stretch out and open my hips the way I used to, so basically anything attached to my pelvis still is not back to what it was.

But it's better. A year later, I don't wake up with spasms in my back and I don't ache every minute of every day. For that, I'm thankful. Now if I can get my insurance company to cover chiropractic care, I can go back to the second chiro just a few more times and maybe make some magic happen. Until then, I'm continuing the Whole 30 to day 30 and then while I won't keep it as strict, I will not go back to the malnutritious well of inflammation I'd created.

As for Speedy Baddriverson, I hope she's taken some lessons in How Not To Crash Into Other People's Cars.

Back to me, here's where I'd like to be, and I'm getting there.
Finished P90X twice! Check out that bicep.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Giveaway!



Goodreads Book Giveaway


For the Girls, I by Christina M. Rau

For the Girls, I

by Christina M. Rau


Giveaway ends February 14, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Enter to win

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Kicking Off The Year With A Recent Free Stuff Round Up

I won this over the summer, and since then, I purchased: a microwave, a doormat, salt and pepper shakers, a potato masher, a basting brush, a board game, and detergent. I still have some cash left.  Target has good prices.


I bought some boots and some sneakers with a gift card, and the website told me to click a button to get a bag.  I clicked a button.  I got a bag.  $50 bag for free. 
It goes so well with my jammie bottoms.
Found this in the garage.  I've mentioned this before, but I'm still trying to find out if it's worth anything.  I don't know if it's an original or a reprint.  It could be worth five dollars.  It could be worth five hundred.  The frame is also very fancy.
Antiques Road Show?
I have no idea how I got this in the mail, but I did.  Eddie is enjoying it.
Serve hot or cold

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Globetrotting


As experiences are the best gifts, my Christmas gift from Eddie was a surprise event: going to see the Harlem Globetrotters.  I'd mentioned it to him once in passing that I'd never seen them and might want to some day.  Yeay!  My some day came.

Attention anyone who goes to Nassau Coliseum: park in the cheap parking area if you can.  It was only 8 bucks.  The guy at the gate stopped us before we paid to make sure we knew we'd need to walk about a minute longer to get to the building.  We were okay with that.  Once we got inside and found our seats, we kept our coats on because it was freezing.  We were not okay with that.  We kept them on the whole time.  I suppose because it wasn't a packed house, the heat of the crowd was not warming up the arena.

We noticed that there were other adults there without children.  We were not weird.  Yes, those adults were like senior citizens, but still, we were not weird.  There were, of course, hoards of children there, and at one point, one was kicking the back of my seat.  However, Eddie and I understand that if we go to an event for children, we cannot be annoyed that children are actually there.  And for the most part, they were not annoying.

Globey, the mascot with the most noncreative name, entertained the crowd for a while.  He played Musical Chairs and cheated a lot.

Globey's brother, however, is the best mascot ever.  He dances and then falls flat on his face.  It's Hil. Air. Eee. Us.


After the pre-show of Globey fun and a local dance team, the Globetrotters appeared through smoke.



We were ready for them to stomp the Generals yet one more time.
And for perhaps an appearance by Barry Manilow.  He writes the songs, you know.
There were lots of stunts.  The tallest man alive is on the team, so he was fun to watch.  I mean, they're all somewhat tall, but he was like over seven feet.  All of them danced and did tricks. The first female team member ever was playing, so they needed to play songs about women every time she touched the ball, though they never did break out into "I Am Woman Hear Me Roar." They all bickered with the ref, not in the way the NBA players do after every single call, but in the way that only the Globetrotters could do.  It was my kind of basketball.





They followed a dragged out storyline about the ref being biased, but tied it all together and they gave us our money's worth.

Really, what we realized is that being a Harlem Globetrotter is the best job in the world.  You get to play basketball without all the pressure of the NBA.  You get to travel and entertain.  If you can't do tricks, you might be on the Generals.  Eddie is totally trying out for the team, and I'm going to look into being the MC--or maybe there's a Globey costume that can fit me. I'm not a fan of adults in costumes with big heads, but I'm not going to miss a shot at hitting the road with the best team ever.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Elvis (Kinda) Lives!


The best kind of Christmas presents for my parents are experiences.  Stuff is great, but they've had enough of stuff for the most part, so my brother decided we should see Elvis.  He's a BB King's guru, so I put all my Christmas faith in him that we'd see a good show.  Not only would we see Elvis, but we'd also get brunch, and I'm a big fan of brunch. 

I'm not a big fan of crowded trains, however, and for some reason, the train from Jamaica to Penn was almost unboardable.  One reason was that everyone in the tri-state area was traveling on that one particular train with luggage.  The other reason was that many of those travelers did not know how to move down the aisles, and so they stayed tightly packed where the doors were.  You know, where people attempt to get on the train.  Eddie and I left my parents at one car and we jammed ourselves into another.  Once the doors closed, we got situated pretty well.  Some poor kid was crammed between me and some large person with a large suitcase as his dad stood across from him, caught between a couple.

It was hot.  I was under some sort of vent, so my face was cool, but everything else was sweaty.  The kid told his dad he was thirsty.  The dad somehow bent down to grab water from his backpack without hitting into anyone too much.  Then the kid started leaning on me all weird.

Oh, wait, not leaning.  The kid was passing out.  Fainting right there.  The dad dropped the sack and lunged for him while I braced him against my hip so he would slide straight down on his butt.  Then he woke up.  The couple surrounding the dad asked if he wanted water, but the dad already had it.

I always always always carry snacks with me.  Except for that one day. I told Eddie--I wish I had a snack for him.  Eddie was like, I was going to ask if you did.  Nope, no snacks for the fainting boy. 

We all shifted so that the kid was sitting next to his dad for the rest of the ride, and he was pretty content chugging down the bottle of water.  When the doors opened, we met up with my parents and found that their ride was not as eventful.

Taking the subway to Times Square was not eventful either.  I mean, there were people singing and dancing and chanting and yelling, but no one was passing out on top of me.  We walked to the club and met up with my brother, and we were able to go in right away.  He showed us all the upcoming acts listed on the walls, and we saw that the guy from The Voice would be playing there soon.  Ooh, we watch that show.  We are so on top of pop culture.

We ate brunch while the room filled up.  It wasn't cramped as I thought it would be, and I fell in love with my sandwich.  As we ate, Eddie caught first sight of Elvis.

Elvis has a cell phone.
Later on, Elvis ditched the cell phone for some fancy duds.  The entrance was interesting because the music was louder than the actual introduction, but we knew the lady was yelling something about Elvis coming to the stage.  And did he ever.

He sang Elvis tunes.  He sang non-Elvis tunes.  He could carry a tune.  Women were fawning over him.  During one song, he was wearing a scarf and gave it away.  Women then lined up to get scarves. 

Between sets, he would talk to us, and he was really funny, especially when one woman from France was talking over him and he called her out and she had no idea what was going on, and for the rest of the show, he kept referencing France and she had no clue because she spoke very little English, but she, too, got a scarf.

I did not get a scarf.  I was content with my napkin.
Go ahead.  Tell me what that is.
Additionally, I was more than content with how the show wrapped up.  Though Elvis (aka Gene DiNapoli) refused a lot of requests because the band hadn't had enough time to learn the gamut of Elvis songs throughout time, he did play "Suspicious Minds," which is my favorite Elvis song ever.  More importantly, my mom and dad enjoyed it.  They were bopping around in their chairs.  My dad was clapping off-beat.  My mom was whooping after every song.  My brother, Eddie, and I enjoyed it, but the two of them were like over the moon enjoying it.  It was as close as we could get to getting them tickets to see Elvis himself, so I'd say it was a Christmas gift done good.

Friday, December 26, 2014

If Only One Tree Were Left On Earth, We'd Burn It

It's time for a house update.  The house is becoming more of a home.  It was a perfect fit to begin with, but it becomes more homey, less housey the more we do. How serendipitous: Urban Compass, a company the matches people's personalities with neighborhoods to find the perfect NYC Apartments , is interested in   Starter Stories, tales of ownership beginnings.  We are still beginners, and I think we'll feel like that for a long time to come.  

Upon finding a house that had an updated kitchen and bathroom and not much needed except for fresh paint, Eddie and I focused on ridding the property of anything green.  We stick firmly to our motto: no plants, no pets, no children.  We do not want to be responsible for keeping anything alive aside from ourselves. In our search for a home, we looked specifically for no lawns and small yards, you know, the opposite of what everyone in suburbia is looking for.  We found a good match with a small backyard, though we do have a front yard, and since it's a corner house, we have curb grass on two sides.  No matter--we plan to get a push mower.

But first, we needed to take care of some larger annoyances.  Plants.  The plants.  Oh the plants plants plants.  The woman who lived here before us had a knack for all that is green and flowery.  Sure, the three trees curbside are not special for those who have a penchant for gardening, but the tree inside the house was interesting.  Yes, a tree inside the house.  In the living room.  A small tree, but still a tree nonetheless.  On the other side of the living room was a jungle of sorts.  I'm sure all this was well and good for the production of oxygen, but it was also (1) a chore neither of us wants and (2) a breeding ground for critters. That means keeping the flora would be a violation of two thirds of our motto--plants and pets.

There creeps the tree along with its friend, a bush.

Jungle window
Though these plants were not left behind, the holes in the ceiling that had hooks from which the plants hung were still there.  In other rooms, the hooks were still there.  Those hooks are a pain to tear out.  I suppose that's a good think if you plan to hang things from them so nothing falls on anyone's head, but for those of us non-hangers-of-things, it's a pain.

Getting rid of all plants might seem like an overreaction, so let me tell this next story before finishing the first.

So we were here for maybe two weeks and I'm leaning out the front door to get the mail and I look up and there's a gigantic spider gliding up and down a web from the outdoor light to the mailbox.  Gigantic like the size of my fist.  Or at least that's what it seemed like.  I could be exaggerating.  But let's say that I'm not.  This spider clearly was having a field day, or maybe just a good strong workout, as it hovered above the zillion plants on either side of the front door.  I did not get the mail that day.

I'm not saying this isn't pretty.  I'm saying it's pretty AND pretty buggy.

But that's not all.  As I was sitting in my office, typing away on my laptop, sipping some green tea, content in my new home, I glance to the left, about a foot from my head, and I see a gigantic bug crawling up and over my printer.  It had antennae.  It had legs.  It was skinny and shiny.  It was all up and in my grill.  So I did what any rational adult would do--I jumped up from my rolling chair, screamed, and ran around in circles and then jump-jogged in place, flapping my hands all over the place.  Because, you know, that's helpful.

This was a bug I could not walk away from.  So I gathered almost a roll of paper towels and somehow found wherewithall to smother it and throw it out.  I don't have a problem taking bugs outside, but the creepy crawlies that crawl in my face I'm not so okay with.

A few nights later, Eddie and I came home from a night out of fun and fantastic times.  I walked into the bedroom and flung off my shoes.  He stopped short of walking in behind me and yelled, Holy Shit!  I looked at where he was looking and there on the base of our floor fan sat a cave cricket.

Cave crickets should not exist.  Cave crickets and hyenas.  I have no use for either of them.  If a hyena had been sitting on our fan, I'd feel the same way.

I have a bit of experience with cave crickets because I used to live in a basement and they, too, lived in the basement at times, just on the steps.  Here was a clear violation of private property.  This was in our bedroom, not on some outdoor steps.  So I did what any normal wife would do--I jumped on the bed and yelled, Get it honey Get it honey You're the boy Get it get it!

Stepping up to the man plate, Eddie removed his shoe and aimed.  I warned, You need to get it the first time because if you don't we have to move because it will jump away and we won't find it.

He got it. First shot.  It didn't have much of a chance as Eddie wears a size 11 shoe.  I'm pretty sure its legs came out from under it.  He also cleaned it up.  He's a nice boy.

Additionally, there were more spiders.  I found tiny ones.  I have a long-standing issue with spiders because I once got bit by one and then got an infection and had to take Keflex so that the back of my hand was not puffy and red.  I would have left them alone, but because of the Keflex incident, I squashed them.  Also, we knew there were more because we found webs every day in places we'd just cleaned.

And beetles.  And a silverfish.  I am not a fan of either.

So why were we being invaded?  The Orkin woman told us that the spiders were there because we had bugs.  The Orkin man said we had bugs because we were in the process of moving.  And because there'd been a jungle inside.  Oh, yes, we called Orkin.  They came.  They sprayed.  They warned we'd see more before we'd see less.

And that's when we went into the garage where I'd seen one large spider who came at me mid-air sideways once and that had been the last time I'd gone in there.

Oh, yeah! I almost forgot.  We'd stopped parking our cars in the garage because one morning Eddie pulled his car out and felt a tickle on his ear and turned and saw a large spider web spun inside his car from the driver's seat to the wall of the car and into the back. That was a fun morning.

Back to the garage--oh the cricket-manity!  It was like a collective slow hop towards death.  There were crickets of all kinds coming out of every corner and wall.  Cave crickets.  Spider crickets.  Skinny crickets.  Fat crickets.  Just all kinds of crickets all wobbling and wasted.  It was quite the disturbing scene, things that nightmares are made of.  I didn't want to slowly kill things. I just wanted them to go away.

And they did.  The Orkin magic worked and we didn't see much more of anything else.  Except for the bees.  We had bees in the yard.  And that's when we called the gardener.  It was time to take a machete to the greenery.  The gardener agreed, too.  He said it was way too much.  In the back, on both sides, in the front, too much.  He did want to keep a few bushes on the side, and so we did at first, but then, in the end, we just tore it all up, keeping only some in the front for the sake of the neighbors.

BEFORE: There'd been even more in those now-empty pots.

BEFORE: The green is pretty, but the bugs are not.

BEFORE: That tree in the back got trimmed but kept.

BEFORE: Backyard greens near the house.  The mini-tree is the only thing I kept and moved to the front.

BEFORE: I mean, come on.  There's a plant hanging from another plant here.

BEFORE: It's a jungle out there.

BEFORE: Cute but critter-ful

BEFORE: Trees and bushes and bushes

BEFORE: Seriously, where's the house?



BEFORE: Do you want to walk through this to get inside?  Neither do I.


And so we chopped and hacked and trimmed it all down.

AFTER: No more vine! 

AFTER: No more plant hanging from a plant

AFTER: We have a fence that we can see.

AFTER: Okay, it's not pretty, but there's nothing attacking us.

AFTER: Some plants.  Just some. They are no longer there either.

AFTER: No more dying tree and no more excess bushes

AFTER: No more gigantic bush.  And look--still no vine.

AFTER: Much neater
We aren't against all green.  When we had all the plants removed from the side, we planted grass.
Little baby grass!  It's grown so much since then.
Inspired, Eddie and I decided to trim some of the trees near the curb ourselves.
This Brooklyn boy has tackled suburban life superbly.
However, we still have some work to do.  These trees aren't the most pest-filled trees (though in bagging our 20 bags of trimmings, we came across white and almost see-through spiders) but they are old and large and scary in the wind.  Also, this particular tree had a plant hanging from it and we couldn't take it down because the chain was drilled through the tree.  Drilled.  Through.  Fortunately, we found a friend with some chain cutters and got that down.  We plan to call a tree trimming service for these:

This tree went clubbing without me. But it probably took the drilled-in plant.

There is a tree growing out of the top of this tree.

Creepy Tree! Creepy Tree!
And there were more.  There's a large dent in the front curb lawn where a large tree used to be.  We also have a stump on the side between two of the trees.  When Eddie's friend came over to take down the stupid drilled-in plant, he kept tripping over the stump and told me I'd need to get it removed.  I said it was in the plans, as soon as I look into trimming or cutting down the other trees.  He commented, Wow you really don't like plants, do you?  I was liked, I don't like bugs and I don't like taking care of things.  That's when he responded: I think if you two had the only tree left in the world, you'd burn it.  You know, I can't say whether or not that's true.  I think it mostly depends on whether or not we have to take care of it.

We did get rid of one tree already.  It was a pretty tree.  It's the tree from the front lawn.  Though it was pretty, it's the tree directly over the main line to the sewer.  We  have roots from trees all through the lawn in the front, but this tree's roots were all through the pipe.  We do not want another incident of water coming up through the floor of the bathroom like we did two weeks after we moved in due to a completely clogged through pipe.

It was also growing into not only our power lines, but also the lines that were coming from our next-door neighbor.  So, we took it down.  We still have the stump, and it had been growing so quickly and without care, that it also grew into the wire, so we have one little piece that looks like a bird sitting out there.

That means we still have some work to do.  We want that stump out of our front yard.  We'll keep the piece attached to the wire so that no one gets electrocuted trying to remove it.  We need to actually mow our lawn when spring comes.  That means we need to get a lawn mower.  We do have a leaf blower that Eddie has become quite attached to--with all the trees still standing tall, the leaf clean up was a never-ending task. The awesome thing about our neighborhood is their leaf-clean-up program.  We got to put our leaves out into the street in large piles, and then one morning, a big truck with a large vacuum came along and sucked up all the leaves.  It was nothing less than amazing.  I wish they had a truck that could suck up trees and stumps, but I suppose I can be content with what I've got.

And I am.  I've battled the crickets and the spiders and the beetles and other bugs, and I had the gardener do some reverse-gardening, and it's all been for the grand scheme of making a house a home--something to call our own.  So we don't like nature.  That's why we bought a house in the first place.  So we don't have to live outside.