Sunday, September 30, 2012

Restaurant Review: Cafe Alana Shay

Last Friday I went out to lunch with some friends. There is a group of us at work and a guy who used to work with us that meet up periodically to catch up with each other and enjoy a meal together. We don't do it often so when we do, it's a lot of fun. Someone suggested that we try Cafe Alana Shay, which is yet another (I believe the fifth) restaurant that Chef James Boyce has opened here in Huntsville. Soon after the suggestion was made, it was decided that this was where we would dine and we made plans to meet there at noon.

Cafe Alana Shay is located at the new Doubletree Suites (formerly the Radisson) on South Memorial Parkway. Due to lunch hour traffic, I allotted about 15 minutes from work to the restaurant and pulled out at 11:45 with three of my co-workers in tow. We arrived right at noon and our friend R was already there talking with the hostess, K. I told K that there was going to be eight of us and someone else said nine because another person had been invited that I didn't know about. Long story short, after waiting for quite a few minutes, she told us it would be about 20 minutes before she could pull a few tables together for the nine of us. So, I told her that we could sit at two or three tables because some of us had to be back at 1:00. Long story short again, we were finally seated at 12:20 - most of us at one big table and a couple at a table right beside us.

We had some time to look at the menu while we were waiting and so we all knew what we were going to order. When I looked around the restaurant, it seemed that no one had their food, which was not a good sign and so I told my friend J that we should probably get ours to go since he and I were the ones that needed to be back by 1:00. K took all our orders and J and I told her we needed ours to go.

In the meantime, K told us that she was getting chewed out because she sat us at a table and that they were not supposed to seat a table of more than four people without a reservation. If she had told us that when we first arrived, we could have gone somewhere else and avoided this whole experience. Our friend A arrived later than we did because he had an errand to run and by the time he arrived we had already ordered. He was told if he ordered that his food would take over an hour before it was ready. Needless to say, he left.

About 12:30 or so I asked K if she could go ahead and bring our checks so we could pay and wouldn't have to wait for them after the food arrived. We paid and waited some more. Finally at 12:45, the manager came out with four bags of boxed up food - each bag had two orders in it. He laid it down on the table and said, here you go, it's all there. Now, keep in mind that only J and I had ordered our food to go and yet, they had boxed up everyone's food. Not only had they boxed it up, but it wasn't labeled. So, we had to open every box and pass out the food. J and I found our food and headed out the door and I drove as quickly as I could to get him back to work for his 1:00 meeting. We made it back at 12:58.

As for the food - my fries were cold, which could be because I didn't eat them when they first came out or because they were never that hot to begin with - I'm not sure which but had they been hot they might have been okay. They were kind of greasy as well which really surprised me. J ate his fries as we headed back to work and commented that McDonald's fries are better. I had ordered the Rueben ($9) and it was not the best Reuben I've ever had. It had a ton of meat on it though, which is good for those that enjoy a lot of meat on their sandwich. I actually took some of it off. The meat was kind of tough, but Reuben's can be that way sometimes. J had the steak sandwich and I have not heard from him on how it was. My friend R had the burger and said it was fantastic - but  also said it could have been because of how hungry he was. A couple of people went for the crab cakes and said they were good. Maybe I just ordered the wrong entree. Not to mention that I was itchy the rest of the afternoon - I think I might have just been paranoid that someone poisoned my food.

The atmosphere at Cafe Alana Shay was also kind of strange. The lobby of the Doubletree looks really nice now that it has been redone. It is very modern and unlike something you would think of when you think of Huntsville. The restaurant had grey tones with some bright green accents. The crowd was mostly older women who most likely normally dine at the country club. The background music was a techno dance remix that seemed to be on a loop which was an odd contrast to the uppity decor and clientele of the restaurant.

So, long story short, again, I will not be back to this restaurant. I had really high hopes for this place, but after the way we were treated and not catered to, there is no way I would ever return. Like I said, all of this could have been avoided if K had told us we needed a reservation and sent us on our way - it was a really disappointing experience.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Past Few Days

Sorry for being such a sporadic blogger lately. Not only has the whole month of September been busy, but this past week had been kind of strange as well. As you know, Jackie and I were in Atlanta this past weekend, I was home for one day and then in Nashville for half a day for a doctor’s appointment. To top it off, it’s our fiscal year-end at work and so things there have been nuts as well. So, please forgive me and hopefully next week things will be back to normal.

Jackie and I returned home from our weekend getaway on Sunday and on the way home we stopped in Breman, Georgia to go to church with our friend Honey and her family. Yes, Honey is her real name. Honey and her family lived in Huntsville for about a year and went to church with me at Chase Park. They moved back to Georgia early this summer and so it was really great to visit with her if only for a short time.

Monday was Ladies’ Night Out where I had absolutely nothing planned for the ladies to do. We were supposed to stuff bears again, but there were no bears ready so we just chatted and ate instead. I left kind of early because I wanted to be sure and get home at a decent hour since I had to be up early the next morning.

On Tuesday, I woke at 4:00 a.m. to get a shower and ready myself for the drive the Nashville for my doctor’s appointment. My dad was kind enough to go with me and had said we should leave at 5:00 a.m. My appointment was at 8:00, but I was supposed to be there at 7:30. We ended up beating all the rush hour traffic and pulled into the parking garage at St. Thomas at 6:45 a.m. The appointment was uneventful and I don’t know anything from the visit quite yet. They took a few vials of blood and this weekend I have to collect my urine for 24 straight hours – sorry if that was too much information. My dad and I got back to Huntsville around 11:00 a.m. and I ran a few hours before coming home to nap and basically be unproductive the rest of the day.

The past couple of days have been pretty routine – work, church, work and errands. I did manage to take The Tide to the dog wash Thursday afternoon for a bath and a nail trim. She desperately needed the nail trim and had not been bathed since July so she was overdue. I also bought a couple of mums and pumpkins and mustered up the willpower to clean my porch and the chairs on the porch which were all pretty disgusting thanks to my hackberry tree which loves to drop sap everywhere. The porch needs to be pressure washed and repainted – that’s a chore for another weekend.

So, that pretty much sums things up. This weekend coming up Troy and Ashlyn are having birthday parties and on Monday I start my one month of Goga so there is sure to be something interesting to write about soon.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a great weekend and I hope to be a better blogger next week.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Music Midtown 2012 – Part Two

On Saturday morning, I (not surprisingly since I am an early bird) woke up before Jackie. She got up an hour or so later and soon after we headed downstairs for breakfast. When I made the reservation for the hotel, I made sure and got the rate that included the breakfast buffet and I’m glad I did because it was delicious. We loaded our plates with all manner of eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, grits, French toast, fresh fruit, etc. etc. When we were finished, the girl who waited on us told us we looked like we were ready to crawl back into bed – and we didn’t disagree because that was exactly our plan.

We spent the day watching football, napping, and just generally being lazy. When the maid came by to clean the room we told her there was no need in cleaning and could we just have some fresh towels. Finally, late in the afternoon we managed to crawl out of the bed and get ourselves ready for night number two of Music Midtown.

We decided to leave the hotel around 5:30. We wanted to stop by the CVS a couple of blocks from our hotel and buy some supplies. We purchased hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and travel sized Kleenex – all for use in the port-o-potties. We did not want to risk a non-tissue port-o-potty experience again.

We then took MARTA to Midtown and began our trek to the park. We had seen a Jason’s Deli in the area the night before and had made plans to eat our dinner there. When we got off MARTA, there was a man standing outside just rambling on about nothing and was saying crazy things like, “Don’t step in front of me or I’ll punch you out.” I got a big laugh out of this – Jackie apparently didn’t see the guy, which is a shame. While we were walking towards the park/Jason’s Deli, there was a black guy walking in the crowd with really tall hair like from the 1980s (remember Kid Play?). He said, “No autographs, please, I’m the Fresh Prince’s son.” Oh, sweet mercy, that caused me to laugh really loud. A few minutes later (now, keep in mind we are walking down the street with hundreds of people) someone who was driving, rolled down the window and yelled, “Hey, what’s going on?” Clearly he lived in Atlanta and didn’t have a clue there was a music festival taking place in his own city.

We made it to Jason’s Deli where we were expecting a large crowd, but surprisingly not many people had the same plan we did and the restaurant was pretty empty. We ordered and ate our food and enjoyed one last use of a real toilet before heading to the park and the land of the port-o-potty.

After dinner, we headed to the park and on the way passed a lady who was talking on the phone and crying. Needless to say, we saw all kinds of situations over the weekend. We entered the park around 7:30 or so and Florence and the Machine was playing. After Florence, a band called Girl Talk came on and they were basically a remix rap band and not anything like what Jackie and I were expecting. We were quite anxious for them to finish up in fact. We made use of the port-o-potties around 8:15 and then headed towards the stage where Pearl Jam would be playing.

Pearl Jam came on at exactly 9:00 p.m. It was obvious they were unable to have a sound check earlier in the day because the sound was not so great for the first few songs, but eventually was worked out and sounded much better by the end of the night. We were kind of towards the back when the show started but kept moving closer and closer and ended up with a pretty good spot.

Here’s the thing with outdoor concerts, especially ones that last all day – by the end of the night everyone is drunk and chatting it up as if they were sitting on their sofa at home. There were so many conversations going on around us and it was more than slightly annoying. Other than the random conversations taking place around us and the crazy drunk people, the show was enjoyable. Jackie and I had both worn black tops and we were bumped into more than one time and each time someone ran into us they looked at us like it was our fault. Clearly we were invisible to everyone around us and apparently should not have worn black.

The Pearl Jam show was awesome. I had sent them a message on Twitter a few months ago and then again a few weeks ago asking them to play “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter in a Small Town,” which is one of my favorite songs of theirs. It was the third song in the first set and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t break down in tears. I grabbed Jackie and screamed, “They’re playing my request!” and then the waterworks came. Y'all I have loved Pearl Jam since I was 14 years old and sometimes the emotion of being at a live show is more than a little overwhelming. I couldn’t stop crying for at least two songs. All I could think of was that 14 year old girl who had 1,000 hopes and dreams and who plastered her junior high and high school locker with photos of Pearl Jam and it was just a little more than I could handle for those few moments.

With about two minutes left to play (remember the stupid city ordinance that required the band to end at 11:00 p.m.), Eddie Vedder said they had two more minutes and one more song and they were going to sing it as fast as they could. In proper Pearl Jam fashion, they ended on “Keep on Rockin’ In The Free World” and with that, the show and Music Midtown 2012 came to an end.

This particular night we were much wiser and decided to exit the same way we came in. This turned out to be a much quicker way back to the hotel than the crazy route we had taken the night before. It was kind of strange to see 50,000 people walking down the street to the MARTA station. As we were leaving, I was really thirsty and dreaming of a Diet Coke when I heard someone yell “Free Coke” they were giving out free Coke Zeros and I ran over to get one which in turn ended up scaring Jackie because I didn’t tell her I was going to grab one and when she turned around I was gone. We obviously found each other again in the mass of people. We encountered all sorts of interesting situations on the way back to the hotel. I forgot to mention that on Friday night we were walking behind a girl who peed her pants, bless her heart. Guess she had a wee bit too much to drink. Saturday, there was a couple behind us who were arguing. There is never a dull moment walking in a crowd of hundreds and thousands of people.

We made it back to the hotel around midnight or a little after, but not before stopping by a statue that was a on the way back to our hotel. We saw it every time we left the hotel and we were wondering who is this man with the outstretch hands. Jackie said he looked like he was saying, “My people!” So, we stopped by to see if there was a plaque or something telling folks who this man was. There was no plaque, but I took Jackie’s photo with him. When we got back to the hotel, I asked the guy at the desk if he knew who the man was and he didn’t. He surely thought we were crazy for wanting to know.

We headed up to our room and soon went to bed to get a few hours sleep before heading out the next morning. It was a fantastic weekend. We both were itching for a little road trip getaway and it was just a perfect outing for these two music lovers.

Just a few people were there on Saturday night

Jackie and Me at the Concert Saturday

Can't you tell, it's Pearl Jam!

My people!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Music Midtown 2012 - Part One

It seems like only yesterday that Jackie and I were making big plans for September 2012 and now, the month is almost gone and we have had so much fun! This past weekend, we took a road trip over to Atlanta for Music Midtown 2012. Back earlier this year when Eddie Vedder (lead singer of Pearl Jam for those of you who may not know, um, Erika) rescheduled his solo tour, I had asked Jackie about going to see him in Memphis - the only catch was that the concert is on the night before Thanksgiving. We seriously contemplated it and then, Jackie's superior Google skills discovered Music Midtown where Pearl Jam would be playing on Saturday night and The Avett Brothers and Foo Fighters would be playing on Friday night - a perfect line-up if you ask me. It was less than a week later that we had our weekend passes in hand - this was way back in May and the countdown began.

Friday morning I had a doctor's appointment after which I loaded up The Tide, swung by the VBC to buy another set of concert tickets, and then dropped The Tide off at my parents' house where she was to stay the weekend. I then headed to Jackie's house and we were on the road to Atlanta a few minutes after 11:00 a.m. The ride over to Atlanta wasn't too bad. Jackie drove the first leg of the trip and we stopped a couple of times to stretch our legs and take use of the facilities. I did have to call my dad once about directions - since Jackie was driving and I wasn't paying attention and I told her to take a wrong turn. At the second stop, I took over driving into the city. Traffic was really great on I-20 but when it was time to get on I-75, the traffic was backed up. Thankfully we only had to go a couple of miles until our exit and we arrived at our hotel about 4:00 Atlanta time, along with everyone else; there was quite a line to check in. We finally got checked in and went up to our hotel room. When we got on the elevator a guy was on there and asked us if we were in town for the concert. We asked him to hit the 10th floor button for us and he said, "Top Floor, Heard That." Needless to say, it became a catch phrase for us the remainder of the weekend.

We unpacked, changed clothes, put on make-up, freshened up, etc. etc. and headed out to find a place to eat some dinner. We settled on Jalapeno Charlies (Which I kept wanting to call Jalapeno Chedders) and ate outside on the balcony. I had tacos and Jackie had enchiladas - both of which were good. We then went back to the hotel to gear up for an evening of music. I packed my purse with all the essentials including acid reducer medicine which gave us a good laugh. Jackie said you know you're in your 30s when you make sure you have acid reducer for a concert.

We left the hotel at 6:00 to go to the concert. We walked up to the MARTA station and a lady that worked there was helping all us concert goers buy passes. When the machine gave us change in the form of $1 coins, the lady would pull them out, hand them to us, and told us to use them to buy beers, liquor, souvenirs, whatever we needed, which cracked us up. We weren't that sure which train to get on so we followed some guy in a straw hat who looked like he was going to the concert. He wasn't the only one, there were others as well and we all got on the train and it was the right one. We took the train to Midtown and then had to walk about one mile to get to the park. There were people all along the way with their coolers selling $1 waters. You were allowed to bring in one bottle of water (unopened) into the park. So we each bought one because it was hot and we figured we might benefit from that $1 price as opposed to outrageous price once we were in the park.

We finally made it to the park about 7:00 - the Avett Brothers were starting at 7:30 so we made our way towards their stage and listened to their show, which was just as good as expected. They played a lot of our favorites and some songs from the new album as well. We took a bathroom break towards the end of their set. There were quite a few port-o-potties, but there were even more people and so there was always a line. They were also pretty gross, especially towards the end of the night, as there were a lot of drink folks needing to take a pee. After the Avett Brothers show, we hit the port-o-potties again because, well, better safe than sorry.

The Foo Fighters show started at 9:00 on the dot, while we were at the port-o-potties. We managed to find a good spot once we made it over to that stage. The sound was incredible and Dave Grohl put on a fantastic show. He was absolutely hilarious when he was talking and his singing, well, it was just as awesome as I had hoped. Thanks to some ridiculous Atlanta city ordinance, the show had to end at 11:00 p.m. on the nose so there was no encore and they played for only two hours - I was expecting at least three - I guess the city ordinance must be pretty strict.

We decided to leave out of a different entrance than the one we came in which was a big mistake because we ended up walking about three miles, or at least it felt like three miles. I thought I was going to have to lay down in the street from exhaustion at one point. We finally made it to a MARTA station and took the next train back to Peachtree Station downtown and then walked the three blocks to our hotel. After taking quick showers, we called it a night and got ready to do it all over again Saturday.

 The entrance to the park

 Foo Fighters - Great shot, huh?

I took some photos on Friday with my camera but haven't downloaded them yet. I will post those as soon as I have a chance to download them. Some of those turned out better than the ones I took with my phone.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Working at the Polls - September 18, 2012

So, I had my first experience working at the precinct. Since it was a special election to vote on an amendment to the Alabama constitution, I did not expect a high voter turnout and I was correct in my assessment. The total number of voters for the day was 330.  At 11:00 a.m. the count was 108. Although it was a slow day, it was a steady day as there was almost always one person voting. It seems like when one person left, another one would arrive.

I woke up at 5:00 a.m. which really wasn’t that much earlier than my normal wake-up time, although I did not have the privilege of hitting snooze. I took a shower, grabbed my things and headed out the door within the hour, arriving at the precinct at 6:00 a.m. I had baked some pumpkin muffins the night before and brought those in for everyone. The inspector for our place brought in some sausage biscuits and others brought snacks as well. We got everything set up and signed and got ourselves sworn in and then opened the polls at precisely 7:00 a.m.  We had one lady waiting on us to open the doors.

Overall the day went really well. The people that I worked with were all in their 70s and 80s and were nice, at times a little annoying but overall nice. My biggest peeve I think was that when they were in the middle of a conversation and a voter walked in they would just keep on talking. I was the only person to say hello to the voter coming in the door. Unless, of course, they knew the person and then they would talk so loud and wouldn’t quit talking which would make it frustrating for the next person to come in because they would be ready to vote but couldn’t get up to the table for all the fellowshipping taking place. 

I had been told by the inspector that we would be ordering Steak-Out for lunch which I was looking forward to since I really like Steak-Out. Then when it came time to order, the inspector suggested Mullins – a place I’m pretty sure he eats at every day. His wife passed away earlier this year and I guess it’s as close to home cooked as it gets for when, which is just terrible. I said I was going to order from Steak-Out because I am not the biggest fan of Mullins. It’s one of those greasy joints I have to be in the mood for. So, in the end everyone ended up ordering Steak-Out. 

My precinct is at Jackson Way Baptist Church and they have a day care there and a kitchen staff which I assume cooks for the daycare. At any rate, one of the kitchen workers, Ruby, brought us some ice cream cake for dessert; it was quite yummy. 

The afternoon seemed to go by a bit faster as there were more voters coming in, especially when people started to get off work. We didn’t have too many crazy situations for which I was thankful. We did have one guy vote who we were all pretty sure was drunk – yes, drunk Americans can vote as long as they have proper ID! We had three ballots that had to be spoiled, or thrown out, because people messed up on their voting. We had a few people on the inactive voters list and had to ask them to update their information – all of whom said they had voted within the past year. That inactive voters list is kind of convoluted.
When the polls closed at 7:00 p.m. we took down the signs and started putting everything together. In general, it should have been an easy process but at times it was so frustrating I thought I might lose my patience. All of the people I worked with have worked an election before and it should have been simple for them. To say I had to take over more than once is an understatement. We finally got everything sealed up and in the trunk of the inspector’s car and off to the courthouse. 

Here are some observations from my day:
  • An ID is required to vote in Alabama and while the majority of people come with ID in hand, you would be amazed at how many people walk up and then pull out their ID – which always takes a LONG time.
  • It is annoying when people point to their name on the voter registration page – patience please! The lady working the pages is older and the pages kind of stick together.
  • A lot of people have no idea where to put there ballot once they walk up to the machine
  • Some people don’t know how to draw a line on their ballot to vote.
  • A lot of people have complained about the fact that we are having a special election– spending too much money – and that the amendment vote should have been on the ballot in November.
  • I became increasingly frustrated at my co-workers who would, instead of making a simple phone call to the board of registrars, would instead hash out a situation for about five minutes – loudly!
  • Some of the workers left to go let their dogs out or check on the house or pick up the paper, all of which are not allowed. I’m 100% sure you are supposed to stay at your polling location throughout the entire time the polls are open.
As mentioned, it was a good day and it provided a nice break from the norm. I’m really looking forward to working in November because I have no doubt there will be a big turnout and that should provide for lots of interesting blogging material.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Special Amendment Vote

Hey Alabama - Don't forget to vote in today's special amendment election!

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Slow September Weekend

So, I'm thinking of quitting the blog....okay, not really; but, seriously the comments have been a barren wasteland as of late which isn't very motivating to keep on writing. If it weren't for Erika, I probably would quit. She was out sick recently and there were no comments at all which was very discouraging. So, please leave a comment if you have a chance. I read them all and I am very thankful when you all take the time to say hello or comment on what is or isn't going on in my life.

As far as the month of September is concerned, this past weekend was rather relaxing. I got the yard work done on Thursday night and am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be the last time of the season, even though I know in my heart of hearts that it won't be.

Friday night I went out to the MA game with my dad and brother and it ended up being quite boring as the Mustangs won 55-0. We left early because I think we were all bored. It was homecoming and my cousin Bennett was on the homecoming court. Sadly, he didn't win king, although I don't think he cared one way or the other. My brother enjoyed his first Friday night of freedom by contemplating what to buy at the concession stand and making sure he got the most value for his money. He was holding out for the fourth quarter call of half price hot dogs, but we left before any half priced food was served, if it was at all. He did enjoy an order and a half (my half) of nachos.

Saturday morning the company I work for held a 5K walk/run. I'm sure I've mentioned it before but we have a program at work where we accumulate points for wellness exams and physical activities, etc. and then receive a discount on the amount we pay for insurance. So, this 5K was worth 250 points and there were a lot of people there - well, at least a lot more than I expected to see. I walked because my running days are far behind me thanks to bad knees and shin splints. My friend Matt ran the course and then came back to walk with me. Wasn't that nice? He tried to get me to run the rest but I really had to pee (just being honest here people) and so that was not going to happen. Guess I shouldn't have made a Starbucks run before the race.

After the race I stopped by the mall as I had some reward dollars to spend at one of the stores and am in desperate need of a new pair of khaki pants. Sadly, the store had no khaki pants; but, I did get a new pair of black pants (also needed), two shirts, a pair of leggings, a pair of sunglasses and a lip glass all for $58. I originally was planning on just getting the pants and two shirts as I thought they would total $100 and I needed to spend $100 in order to use my 50 reward dollars. The pants ended up being on sale and then so did everything else, I just kept adding things until my total reached $100. Turns out I got a lot more than I bargained for!

Saturday afternoon The Tide and I headed over to my parents house to watch the Alabama-Arkansas game and when we arrived the cable was out. It was only working on the one TV in my dad's office. He managed to hook up the TV in the den to the cable box in his office and that's how we were able to watch the game. My brother cooked some chicken wings which were really good and I hope to try and replicate myself someday soon; after the game burgers were grilled and I left with a full belly which is always a good thing.

Sunday was the usual, church, lunch with Jackie and her family, a trip to Publix, a nap, and evening church service. I did manage to get a little cleaning in as well. Jackie and I are headed to Atlanta this weekend coming up and so Sunday night I was looking up directions to the hotel when I started reading a lot of bad reviews about the hotel I had booked and started panicking. I ended up booking another hotel and cancelling my original reservation. The new reservation is at the Holiday Inn and the room is a little more expensive, but after reading all the terrible reviews about the first place, I think we are going to be a lot better off. I don't know how I missed all the bad reviews when I originally booked our room back in May.

So, here we are at Monday and tonight brings with it another Zumba and Goga outing with Jackie and Jan. I am really looking forward to it! Tomorrow I will have the day off from my regular job and will be working at my voting precinct for the special election. I'm sure that experience will bring something of interest to tell you about!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Cheap Seats Were The Best In The House

As mentioned in yesterday's post, Jackie and I enjoyed a night on the town Wednesday when we went out for sushi and a show, in this case, an Elton John concert. It was a fun, fun night!

We met at our favorite sushi spot, I Love Sushi at 6:30 p.m. Thankfully, I had arrived about 15 minutes early (because I'm weird like that) and was able to get us on a list for a table. Apparently a lot of people had the same plan in mind for the evening because one couple that was at the restaurant sat just one section over from us at the show. The sushi was as delicious as ever, although the service, for the first time wasn't so swell. I think the girl that waited on us was slammed as she had a large section of tables and they probably weren't expecting such a large crowd on a weekday night.

After dinner, we dropped off my car at my house and then I got in the car with Jackie and we headed to the parking garage where Jackie works and parked there. That way we didn't have to pay for parking and it was only a short walk on a nice evening to the VBC. the show was slated for an 8:00 p.m. start and we walked into the arena about 15 minutes or so before. I was extremely thirsty so I got a Diet Coke and Jackie got a more sensible water and then we found our seats for the evening.

Y'all Jackie did such a great job getting our tickets for this show! We were in the cheap seats in the upper portion of the arena, but the seats were perfect and I'm here to tell you I would prefer our seats over any other seat in the house, even the floor. The stage was set up on one end of the arena and the piano was on the left hand side of the stage. Our seats were to the right hand side of the stage and we had a perfect view of Sir Elton playing the piano and singing his songs. Not only that, but we were able to people watch and laugh like there was no tomorrow.

Right at 8:00 two guys came out and played the cello and I swear I could listen to them all night long and look at them too because those were two nice looking dudes! Those guys rocked the cello like nobody's business and got the crowd quite fired up. It was pretty amazing. They were part of Elton's band but maybe they will strike out on their own one day because I think they would do well. Seriously - they were great! Did I mention they were handsome as well? They were from Croatia which apparently rears beautiful men.

Not too long after the cellists played for the crowd, Elton came on stage opening up with Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting. He was wearing a purple shirt with purple pants and purple shoes and a bedazzled knee-length purple jacket which we think said Elton John on the back, but we couldn't tell for sure. Elton went on to sing for two and a half hours and it was a really enjoyable show. He played all the songs we wanted to hear (Levon, Tiny Dancer, Your Song) and some we didn't (Crocodile Rock). This was my third time and Jackie's firs to see Elton live and as always, the show was wonderful.He introduced the band and his old back-up singers. The back-up singers were four black women, three of whom had to be in their 60s or 70s and one was probably in her 30s or 40s - I think her mother was one of the other women. Also the drummer was one of the original members of Elton's band and has been with Elton since 1969. That was kind of cool.

Not only did we have a great view of the stage, but we also had a great view of the people on the front row who kept us more than entertained throughout the evening. One presumably gay man on the front row had some dance moves that made me laugh all through the night. He looked like he would be a fun person to have as a friend. There was also a couple of the front row who sang along to every song and sometimes to each other and were constantly fist pumping and pointing and just having the time of their lives. At the last song or two, they let the people storm the stage, or at least stand up close to the stage, and the dancing man then began playing air piano on the stage. There was also a lady that appeared from some where and was dancing very similar to Elaine in the infamous Seinfeld episode, which I'm not knocking her for because Lord knows I have no rhythm and have in fact danced like Elaine on more than one occasion.

After the last song, Elton came back out for an encore and for about five minutes or maybe more signed autographs for those folks in the front who were waving their belongs in front of him. Jackie and I both thought this was very cool as we have never seen any other performer be so kind as to sign autographs during a show. Elton seemed really grateful that so many people had come out especially when economic times are as tough as they are now.  The show was over a little before 11:00 p.m. and we walked back to the car, Jackie dropped me off at home and then headed home herself.

There were a ton of people there. I don't think I've ever seen the VBC so packed. We didn't see too many outlandish outfits although we did see one guy in red shorts a dress shirt and bowtie and a blazer and if I remember correctly the blazer was polka dots or something bizarre like that. I saw a few people that I knew at the show and the ones I talked to the next day said they also enjoyed it. Here's a link to the article about the show if you are interested in reading that.

 A view from our seats.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Brother, Israel, and Elton

Well, here we are. It's another day which should bring with it another post. Once again I have nothing specific to write about so I'll just see what pops out of my head today and we'll go with that. How's that sound?

So, my brother has once again re-joined society a she was released from prison on Monday. I had dinner with him and my parents and granddad Bill on Tuesday night. It was the first time I had seen his face since January. I thought he looked really good and am cautiously optimistic that this time he will stay sober and do great things with his life. I gave him his Christmas presents from 2011 and meant to take some photos, but didn't because I'm a loser. He got a pair of jeans which thankfully fit and a book on the 20-year history of Pearl Jam. My parents hooked Justin up with some new clothes and shoes and so he will be stylin' and profilin' the next time you may happen to run into him. I'm glad he's a free man again and pray he will do well this time around.

I also gave him a $10 check which came in the mail for him which normally wouldn't be worth mentioning, but there is a funny story of sorts behind this $10 check. You see, back in July I got some mail addressed to him which I opened and inside found two brand new $1 bills. The letter was from one of the radio rating companies wanting him (me) to write down in a book what he (or I) listened to on the radio for one week. I sent in the form saying he (or I) would do it and they sent back the book with $5 cash. Have I already told this story? I feel like I have; but, maybe that's because I typed this whole story out in a letter to my brother a few weeks ago. Anyway, I did the survey and turned it in on time so as to receive another $10 for my, I mean "Justin's" work. Well, lo and behold one day I got an envelope from the ratings company and when I opened it up, there was no cash but a check, written to Justin. So, the joke was on me. I got the cash (about $8) and he got the check for $10.

Also while I was at my parents' house, my dad told me that he had decided we would not be going to Israel in December. I haven't written much about this because in all honesty, I wasn't confident it was going to happen - and clearly, it's not. We were going to go on December 30 with a group of folks that we know, but both of us have had unexpected expenses with our dogs and vehicles and medical expenses and what have you and it just (in my opinion anyway) felt like the odds were stacked against us. Not to mention that I have to take off seven days next quarter - mandated by the company. I suppose this is in place of laying people off and while I'd rather not be mandated to take time off, I think I will choose to keep a job and take time off than have no job and every day off. (Hopefully that sentence made sense.) Anyway, it just seemed like Israel wasn't in the cards for us this year; but, hopefully we will be able to go sometime in the future because my dad has always wanted to go and I think it would be an interesting trip as well. Instead, we will be taking a trip in the spring of 2013, probably to California - a place which I have never been. It's not as exotic as Israel, but I'm sure it will be just as fun.

I think this is all I have today. Jackie and I are going to the Elton John concert tonight (Wednesday) at the Von Braun Center and I'm sure we will see lots of interesting people and I will have lots of colorful things to tell you about in my next post. Until then...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Zumba and Goga

For a few weeks now, Jackie and her mom Jan have been attending a Zumba class at Whitesburg Baptist Church on Monday nights. Jackie had invited me to come along once I got over my latest sinus infection and I made plans to do so. The first Monday I felt well enough to join them was Ladies' Night Out for my church group so I couldn't go then and on that particular Monday (August 27), the girls not only went to Zumba, but they also went to Goga and as soon as Jackie told me about it, I knew I had to try it. The next Monday was Labor Day and Jackie's birthday so there was no Zumba or Goga that night. Finally, this week, I was able to join the girls for this night of fun.

The Zumba class is held in the Whitesburg Baptist Church annex building (or whatever they call it) which is down the street from the actual church building. The annex building is really nice and has a gym (among other things) where we had our Zumba class. A couple of other ladies we knew came along as well. I got there a few minutes before Jan and Jackie and shortly after they arrived it was time for class to start. It has been a while since I've done a Zumba class and I enjoyed dancing around and acting like a fool. I'm terrible at dancing and so most of the time I just kind of did my own thing. I will say, this was the easiest Zumba class I've ever done. The ones I have participated in at the gym were non-stop dancing and really high energy. This class had breaks between each song and was for people of all dance abilities and wasn't as high intensity as I had expected. There was even a lady in a wheelchair there who did all the arm movements. I did break a sweat and had a fun time.

After Zumba, it was on to the even I had been looking forward to for two weeks - GOGA! First of all, let me say that one of the things I love most about Jackie and her mom are that they try the craziest things and I usually end up joining in at some point. If it weren't for them, for example, I wouldn't have Jean, my rapid eye technician therapist, whom I love, love, love! They are always finding some kind of New Age remedy and I always end up loving it and this time was no different. There are two goga studios in Huntsville, one is in Hampton Cove and the other is at the corner of Whitesburg and Airport Road in the same shopping center as Baskin Robbins and Cheeburger Cheeburger, which is the one we visited. As mentioned, Jackie had told me about it a couple of weeks before so I kind of knew what to expect, but not really. She had told me that you stand on a machine for 10 minutes that it shakes you nealry to death, you drink some water and take a teaspoon of some salty concoction, get in a sauna for 15 minutes and then stand on a machine and shake for another 10 minutes. Yes, you read all of that correctly.

Jackie had mentioned that the first (and until this week only) time she went there was a large black lady there that had been doing Goga for about a week and had already lost two inches! When you sign up for a month of Goga, they measure you and then you can see how far you have progressed after shaking and sweating for a month. The same black lady, Mrs. P. was there last night and as soon as I walked in the door I figured she was who Jackie had mentioned to me because she had a large backside and it was shaking like there was no tomorrow. I got on the machine and started laughing immediately. We chatted with the girl who was working and she told us about a whole slew of clients who have been Goga-ing for a month or two and have lost inches and inches. It was amazing to hear about it all. Mrs. P also told me and Jackie that her husband had noticed that her cellulite was disappearing (which is one of the many benefits of Goga). He told her that "those bumps around your booty are gone." When she told us this we laughed and laughed. She said she didn't know how many inches she had lost because she had not been measured again, but that she can tell a difference in the way her clothes felt.

So, as you can imagine, after hearing all of these success stories and asking everyone who came in how they felt about the Goga, I have decided that I want to do it too. I'm not going to do it right away though because I want to go one solid month without interruption and see how it works out, and , since my September is jam packed with activities, I'm going to start on October 1. Plus, you get five free sessions so I will use those free sessions until I pay for a month, which, by the way, is $49.

The girl working there told us that a few people have obtained prescriptions from their doctor to come and so the insurance pays for their membership (I need to know the name of that doctor) and another lady's insurance company paid for her to obtain her own machine! That lady had rheumatoid arthritis and Goga is good for that as well as a plethora of other illnesses and issues with joints, muscles, etc.

Here are a list of the health benefits mentioned in the Goga brochure:
Muscle Strengthening
Accelerated Weight Loss
Firming and Toning
Improved Circulation
Improved Bone Density
Prevents Age Related Muscle Loss
Massage and Relaxation Benefits
Overall feeling of Well-Being
Reduced Effects of Stress
Increased Blood Flow
Improved Flexibility
Muscle Endurance
Greater Overall Agility

You can also purchase one of the machines. The large machine is around $1700 (if I remember correctly). I told Jackie we should just go in together and buy one. Actually, I think we should open our own franchise - anyone have $100K they want to lend us? 

If you would like to read up on Goga, you can visit the website here. I have no idea who came up with Goga or anything or the sort but am interested in finding out. Once October rolls around and I sign up for a month, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will track my progress and keep you all posted on all the gory details including any inches lost, etc. Until then, let me know if you stop by for a free session and what you think about it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Alabama vs. Western Kentucky

This past Saturday, Jackie, the kids and I went down to Tuscaloosa for Alabama's game against Western Kentucky. Jackie's boss was kind enough to hook us up with tickets in the skybox so we were able to live it up in style.

Jackie and the kids got to my house a little bit before 9:30; and, after eating some sausage crescent rolls, we piled in the car and headed south. Both of the kids had been at a lock-in at church the night before so they were probably a little more tired than usual and both ended up sleeping some on the way down. We made a brief pit stop in Northport for Ashlyn and then headed on in to the campus. Jackie's boss also hooked us up with a parking pass which was such a blessing because I usually park at least a mile (not exaggerating) from the stadium and this spot was about 50 feet away from the stadium entrance. the closer we got to the parking lot the more people there were and I almost hit at least two, probably more, of them. Jackie had told me the parking pass was for Tutwiler and so that's where I headed. As it turns out, we were to park in a lot across the street from Tutwiler so we had to make a U-turn out of the Tutwiler lot and head on over to the correct one. We finally managed to get parked and I was thrilled at how little we would have to walk to get to the stadium.

After we brushed out hair, straightened our clothes and smiled for a few photos we were on our way. The first stop was the Kappa Alpha Theta house because no trip to Tuscaloosa is complete without me stopping by my home. We made a pit stop there and also picked up some beverages and Troy grabbed a banana. On our way to the Theta house, we passed a group of fraternity boys dressed in their traditional blue blazers and khaki pants who were walking towards the stadium with their dates. Troy made the comment, "There goes the popular squad". Y'all I thought I might die laughing. It was unprompted and so spot on. It was one of my favorite moments from the day.

We then went over to the Champions Walk (I think is what they call it) to see if the team had arrived. When we realized they had already made their way inside, we walked by the coaches' statutes and then made our way to the Quad. The weather wasn't too bad as it was overcast and there was a little breeze blowing. When we arrived at the Quad, however, the humidity and body heat from the masses set in and we all started sweating. It was not, however, as dreadful as it was when we went down for the Penn State game a couple of years ago and I thought I might die from heat stroke.

We watched the band warm up and play the fight song and some cheers on the steps of my former employer, the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library and then we headed towards the stadium to claim our seats and let the sweat dry off. We made it to the skybox around 2:00 - kickoff was at 2:39 - and everyone settled in for some free food and drink. There was fried chicken, friend catfish, cheese dip and chips, Greek dip and pita chips, brownies and cookies, biscuits, deviled eggs, cheese, fruit and vegetables, and of course all the free ice cream a kid could ever hope for. I had a piece of catfish and a couple of hush-puppies to hold me over until halftime which is when the stadium dogs were scheduled to arrive. Troy, who apparently must be going through a growth spurt, ate from the moment we arrived until the moment we left and then when we got in the car to go home wanted to know where we were going for dinner.

The four of us sat in the back row of seats for the first half and Alabama was up 21-0 at halftime. Troy, who doesn't much care for sports was having a blast and wanted to know if Jackie could get the same seats for the next game. We told the kids, don't get used to it, this is a treat. The stadium dogs came at halftime and I enjoyed two. Oh, man how I love those stadium dogs. I wish I had one right now! Man, they are so good! Another lady asked Jackie if they could sit in our seats for the second half and she said yes. I stood up most of the third quarter and watched another game on TV. I wanted to stretch my legs for a while since I had been sitting most of the day and still had a lot of sitting to do on the way home. The fourth quarter we sat in some seats closer to the front of the skybox and actually decided to leave with about 8:00 left in the game so we could try to beat some of the traffic.

Getting out of that sweet parking lot was a lot easier than I expected and I contribute that to my superior driving skills (you can stop laughing now). I managed to maneuver us through the traffic and onto the highway in a matter of no time and soon we were out of Tuscaloosa with two sleeping kids in the backseat. We were back in Huntsville in about two and a half hours - I walked through my front door at exactly 8:00 p.m. The Tide was surprisingly calm which I think I can contribute to my kind neighbor Jeff. He was sweet enough to walk over and let her outside a couple of times while we were gone.

It was a really fun day and I'm so glad I got to experience Troy and Ashlyn's first game with them. A big thanks to Jackie's boss for hooking us up with the tickets and to Jackie for inviting me along for all the fun. Can't wait to do it again!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Mouse Has Met the Maker

I’ve had a lot going on the past few days and have lots to tell you about. It just amazes me how quickly things pick up when September rolls around. It seems like it was just yesterday that Jackie and I were buying concert tickets for the month of September and talking about how awesome it was going to be and now… here we are!

I wanted to update you on some things that I mentioned last week. First –the mouse. As you may recall, I saw a mouse scurry down the aisle at work last Thursday. Friday morning when I came in someone had placed a plastic bag under my filing cabinet and tried to convince me they had caught the mouse but had left it in that bag under my filing cabinet. I didn’t buy it. As it turns out, they did catch the mouse, but the mouse met its demise and was disposed of before I arrived. Apparently the lady who sits on the other side of the wall from me keeps food in her drawers and that mouse was over there eating a chocolate bar when he was found. I wouldn’t be surprised if another one showed up some time soon, but here’s to hoping not.

I also mentioned last week that I had election training. It actually was a lot more interesting than I had anticipated. My dad had complained to me the week before that it took about two hours and lots of people had questions and he didn’t think they were ever going to get out of there. My group must have been more attentive because our session only lasted about an hour and a half and there were only about five questions from the group. The information they reviewed was interesting and including scenarios I had never even considered. This training was for the September 18 vote for the special amendment to the constitution and I will have another training session in October for the November election.

In other news, a few times this summer there has been fresh dog poop out by my car. Clearly someone has been walking their dog and letting it poop in my yard without cleaning it up. To say this perturbs me is quite an understatement. It happened again last Friday and of course when I walk out to my car in the morning I am ready to leave and don’t have time to scoop poop. If I ever catch the culprit, you can rest assured I’ll be giving that owner a piece of my mind.

Friday, September 7, 2012


I'm going to ramble today, because I know that you love it when I just type things as they come to me...or something like that.

On Wednesday, for the first time ever, I decided to play all of the songs on my iPod in a shuffle mode. This was strange for me because I am so structured in what I listen to and can sing along to albums like nobody's business. The thought of shuffling it all up was kind of a foreign concept to me - it's like a mixed tape, you never know what to expect next, and I guess I like knowing what's coming up next. Wednesday, however, I couldn't decide what I wanted to listen to and decided to go to all songs and just hit shuffle. As of the moment I am writing this, I am on song 65 of 913 - obviously, I have a while to go to listen to all the songs. One thing this little experiment has confirmed (and I guess I really already knew) - I have a lot of Pearl Jam and a lot of jazz on my iPod. Shuffling the songs has been quite interesting and I have enjoyed the odd mix that has come about. I should have tried this a long time ago.

Also on Wednesday... I went to bed around 9:30 - I was tired and about to fall asleep on the couch so I just went on to bed. About 11:30 I woke up because I was hot and felt like the air was stifling. In a daze, I looked around and after 30 seconds or so I realized that the power was out - no wonder I was hot. I have no idea how long the power had been out. I venture to say around an hour or so because I got up and turned on my phone to see what time it was and also to set the alarm on the phone in case the power never came back on during the night. It was 11:30ish when I powered up the phone and I checked the Twitter feed to see if Huntsville Utilities was on the case - as it turns out they were. I went back to bed and fell asleep and the next thing I remember is being cold because the power had come back on and the AC was blowing full blast as was the ceiling fan. Again, I have no idea what time this occurred, but I think the power kicked on some time around midnight based on how accurate my unset clock was to the actual time. It probably goes without saying that Wednesday night was not the best night of sleep I have ever received.

As a result of the lackluster sleep Wednesday night, I rolled in to work on Thursday feeling quite tired. After our morning meeting, I went to the cafeteria to get a coffee and afterwards as I was walking down the aisle to my desk, a mouse ran out in front of me. Yes, I screamed at the top of my lungs and quite frankly, it's a wonder I didn't let out some inappropriate curse word. At that point, I was quite awake and so was everyone else I would assume. Everyone got a big laugh out of my screaming and thankfully another person saw the mouse out of the corner of his eye - otherwise I might think I was a wee bit crazy. Someone called facilities and they sent a man over who laid out some of those sticky strips which probably won't catch the little critter.

Thursday night I have election training. I won't have a chance to write about it until next week because this post is going up Friday and I'll be scheduling it to post before I leave for my training. I'm sure I have mentioned on here before that my dad is the inspector at his polling location and I will now be a worker at my polling location. My first stint as a poll worker will be on September 18 when we have a special voting day for an amendment to the Alabama constitution. Why they are setting aside a whole day of voting for this one thing I will never know - these are your tax dollars at work, people. I expect to see very few people come through the polling place that day; especially considering during the recent mayoral election I voted an hour and a half before closing and less than 500 people had voted. I suspect there will be even less people than that on the day of this special election because in all honesty, I don't even think that many people know about it. At any rate, it will be my first taste of working an election, unless you count that dreadful experience from Greene County when I was in college and was supposed to watch a poll for the Republican party. That, dear friends, is a story for another time. I think I am still scarred from that experience. I will also be working the November 6 presidential election which is sure to see a lot more voters than this special election coming up in a couple of weeks. Needless to say, I'll be filling you in on all the details of both election working experiences.

This Sunday, September 9, is Friend's Day at the Hampton Cove Church of Christ which is where my parents' attend and my dad is the preacher. Y'all should come on out and visit that day. I'll be there along with my infamous coleslaw that everyone seems to love. Classes start at 9:00 a.m. and worship is at 10:00 a.m. The address is 409 Old Big Cove Road, Brownsboro, AL 35741. I would link to the web site, but y'all, it is so outdated and sad. I'm trying to get that resolved for them. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Unofficial End to Summer 2012

Labor Day was this past Monday - as if you didn't already know that - and I don't know about the rest of you, but I, for one, enjoyed having the day off. I had planned to wake up early and go for a walk, but laziness prevailed and I ended up just doing some things around the house instead. Then I put Lord of the Rings in the Blu-Ray player and ended up sleeping for the next two hours. Yes, I do love to sleep. After I woke from my nap, I restarted the disc and watched it without falling asleep.

My parents were hosting a cook-out, as they often do on holidays, and I had made some coleslaw early that morning. I assumed it would be the typical crowd of about 15 or so people. Imagine my surprise then, when at 3:00 (the start time of the cookout) no one was there but my parents, my granddad and me. Turns out my parents had invited only one couple and they should up a few minutes after three. I didn't eat much because I had another event to attend at 5:30 and I wanted to make sure I was still hungry for that dinner. I visited with my parents and our friends and then a few minutes before 5:30 I headed over to Jackie's parents' place for dinner because not only was Monday Labor Day, but it was Jackie's birthday as well. That lucky gal got to celebrate with a day off from work!

Jan prepared pork chops, green beans, black-eyed peas, rolls, salad, and sweet potatoes for dinner and there was a cookie cake for dessert. The dinner was excellent but the fellowship was even better. In addition to Jackie's parents and kids, there were also her cousins Scott and Little Mickey and her aunt and uncle and also another couple, Christa and Jason with whom we are all friends. Little Mickey being there was a surprise to not only me, but also Jackie. We were so glad to see him as he is always the life of the party. At one point he asked me, "Does your dad still the Keebler man?" I said, "No, he is a preacher now." To which Little Mickey responded, "Does he yell?" Oh, how that cracked me up. That was not the only hilarious moment of the night, but probably my favorite.

Jackie got lots of good loot for her birthday, including cash, a necklace from Ashlyn and an Alabama pillow with arms (I don't know what the technical term for those are) from Troy, a Hobby Lobby gift card, an elephant hat and season tickets to Fantasy Playhouse for her and the kids. I think she had a good time and definitely got some good presents! Surprisingly, we didn't end up playing any card games as is usually the case when we get together for dinner at her parents' house. It was, however, a school night, and we did spend a lot of time chatting and eating!

I made it home in time to watch the new episode of Grimm, which was great! Sadly, it's the last new episode until September 28 when Grimm returns to Friday nights - the death slot for network television. Seriously, what show besides Dateline NBC has ever survived on Friday Nights - none that I know of. Oh well, I shall watch it until it is cancelled, which will be sooner rather than later if NBC leaves it on Friday nights.

Anyway, it was a nice way to unofficially end the summer - if only we could unofficially end something every Monday, or in other words - if only we could have every Monday off. Hope you all had a nice Labor Day as well.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sometimes You Wake Up and There's a Bus Next Door

I hope you all heeded my advice yesterday and will steer clear of the City Cafe Diner on Drake Avenue next to Cracker Barrel. Seriously, folks - most disgusting food in town! Please listen to my warning. This has been a Public Service Announcement. Thank you.

So, as mentioned, it was a large weekend for me. I had a lot going on and yet not much all at the same time - if that's even possible. Last Thursday night Madison Academy played at Tanner and my dad and I went to that game, which meant that Friday night I was without a game to attend. I had big plans of getting some laundry and cleaning done but instead ended up sleeping the night away on the sofa. I did manage to do the laundry, but the cleaning - not so much. For whatever reason, all I want to do these days is sleep. It can be mildly annoying when I have items on the agenda that need to be accomplished.

Saturday I got up around 6:30 and let The Tide out and was apparently still in a daze when I did because a few minutes later when I went to let her back in, I saw this parked in the yard next door:

I think I have mentioned before how my neighbor often has bands from out of town stay over at her house. I have no idea how this all comes about and quite frankly it's none of my business; besides, the stories I make up in my head are, I'm sure, much more interesting than the actual stories that take place next door. There was also a dog on the bus. I guess he was the band dog, or guard dog or something along these lines. At any rate, he growled every time I or The Tide stepped into the yard. I went for a three mile jaunt that morning instead of going to the gym; that way I was able to get my workout over with before all the college football got going. The rest of the morning was spent doing laundry and some of that cleaning that had been scheduled for Friday night.

Saturday afternoon I went to a wedding of a couple that attend church with my parents. They are in their 50s (I think) and their spouses passed away in the past year or two and they reconnected on that dreaded facebook and now they are hitched. My dad conducted the ceremony and apparently he was a little rusty on marrying folks because after he asked if there were any objections to Bobby and Judi getting married, he turned around and started the ceremony without letting those of us in the audience know we could go ahead and sit down. So, there we were - standing. My granddad was the first to sit and I soon followed. Finally, my mother told one of the young men sitting close to her to go and whisper to everyone that it was okay to sit down. I, for one, found it to be quite funny. The reception was right after the wedding and y'all that chocolate cake they had was the best chocolate cake I have tasted in a long time - maybe ever.
Saturday evening Jackie came by to watch the Alabama game. We feasted on guacamole and salsa and some chocolate cake leftover from the wedding. The game, of course, turned out to be a good one for us seeing as how we are Alabama fans. Quite honestly I think I got more fired up about the Clemson - Auburn game that was on at the same time.

Sunday morning was church and then we had our awful experience at City Cafe Diner. I took my obligatory nap on Sunday afternoon and then about 4:15 I pried myself off the sofa to get ready for evening service when the tornado sirens started wailing. Now, I'm not one of those folks who get frightened when the weather gets bad, but I do not care to drive in it as the road isn't really the safest place to be when it's storming. So, I decided I would just stay home instead of getting out in the midst of tornado warnings. Within the hour, it started raining like crazy and the wind was rather ferocious as well. I had three people text to see if I was okay. Apparently the weather folks mentioned that Five Points was getting hit hard. I didn't know this because I was watching the Republican National Convention on the DVR and getting fired up about being an American. My phone was in another room on the charger in case the power went out and I didn't get the messages until about 30 minutes after they had been sent. At least some folks were thinking about me.

I spent the rest of the night watching TV and just generally being lazy - oh, and drinking Ginger Ale to try and get the thought of City Cafe out of my head. Speaking of TV, there is a new show on BBC America on Sunday nights that I am really enjoying called Copper. Have any of the rest of you checked it out?

 Back tomorrow with a Labor Day recap.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Restaurant Review: City Cafe Diner

I had a large weekend and plan to tell you all about it, but first I feel I must issue a Public Service Announcement about a new restaurant in town. I feel I must get this information out to you immediately for fear you may want to try this place and I assure you, it would be a complete waste of your time and money.

Since her folks were out of town and the kids were with their dad, Jackie sat with me and my family at church on Sunday. I asked her if she wanted to go to lunch afterwards and she agreed. Neither of us really had a particular spot in mind and so I suggested Zoe’s and the new City Café Diner on Drake Avenue next to Cracker Barrel. She said let’s try City Café and so that’s where we went. We ran into my Aunt Linda and her friend Saundra there, but they ended up leaving because after a glance at the menu they decided the prices were too high. I wish we had followed suit.

When they called the name for my aunt and her friend, we took their spot since they had left. The lady running the place was a total spaz and when we tried to tell her she had called our name she told us they were taking names at the door. Finally we were able to help her understand that our name had been called to be seated and we were then led to a table. While everyone was waiting to be seated, there were free muffins and juice. I grabbed a muffin (they were wrapped in plastic wrap) to eat for breakfast on Monday.

The place was packed. There were people at every table and standing outside trying to get in. The waiter in our section was struggling to keep up and told us that one of the other servers had not shown up. The menu at this place was extremely overwhelming. There were probably 100 items on the menu and I’m not even exaggerating. I felt like I was in a panic and couldn’t make a decision as to what I wanted to get. They brought some bread to our table while we were waiting and it was dry, and tasted like it was a week old. Finally I made a decision on what to get only to then be told that I couldn’t order from that menu that I could only order from the daily specials. Then, I felt pressured into ordering and just decided on the chicken marsala. Jackie ordered the spaghetti and meatballs.

The guy brought out our salads. I had not ordered one but he gave me one anyway; Jackie got one with what she ordered. For all I know I should have gotten one with what I ordered but it didn’t come up when I was ordering (did that make sense?). The salads were not bad, but Jackie didn’t eat much of hers because it had some cheese on it and she steers clear of dairy these days.

Then our food came out and y’all, just the thought of that food makes me want to throw up a little bit. It was not good – at all. I ate make three or four bites of mine and then piled the other plates on top of it and said, “I’m done”. Jackie ate 1.5 of the three meatballs and maybe one spoonful of noodles and she was done. It was disgusting. The server noticed I did not eat mine and voided out my check. I guess Jackie’s 1.5 meatballs counted as eating the whole meal because he didn’t offer to void hers out. I told her I would pay for half of her lunch since I didn’t have to pay for mine but she said no so I just left the tip for both of us.

Jackie was overcharged by $1 for her dinner and her drink was $2.39 – her total came to just under $15. This place is overpriced and the quality of the food is terrible. The only positive thing I have to say is that the server, Brian, was nice and took good care of us while we were there. I’m not even kidding when I say my stomach is aching a little right now while I am typing this story. This was the worst meal I have had in a long time. I’m assuming a family must operate the place and I think they are Greek, or at least that was my guess and everyone who seemed to be in charge seemed to be Greek so that’s my guess and I’m sticking to it.

As for the muffin I mentioned earlier, I didn’t even eat it on Monday. It was squishy and felt like it had not been fully cooked and after the terrible lunch on Sunday, I didn’t want to ever eat anything from that place again. After I left there on Sunday, my stomach was achy and I stopped by Star Market to get some Ginger Ale which I only crave when I’m not feeling well if that tells you anything.

City Café Diner on Drake Avenue – don’t even bother stopping in!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day! I hope everyone is able to enjoy a nice day off from work.

Not only is it Labor Day, but it's also my best friend Jackie's birthday today! So, I'd like to send a shout out to the best friend a girl could ever hope for - thanks for being the sister I never had!

Jackie, Maria, Natasha -September 2011

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Giveaway Winner

Well, since Erika was the only commenter on the Book Review and Giveaway: The Power of the Prophetic Blessing Post, she is the winner! Congrats, Erika! I can't wait to hear what you have to say about this book!