Tuesday, September 28, 2010

They Say It's Diamonds, But It May Just Be Shoes

Much too long ago, on a girl's weekend away, we came to breakfast sporting these three different pairs of shoes.

Right now I'm packing for a trip and trying to pare down my shoe selection, but I realize, if I don't have the right shoes, I am not a happy camper.

This used to mean, that I needed stylish, cute shoes. Now my requirements lean toward finding the most stylish AND comfortable shoes.

Some boots were made for walkin' and some were made for other things. I guess, I'm just getting old.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ungrateful Gratuity: If The Tip's Included, Is It A Tip???

My husband and I are enjoying a getaway to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. We just had luxurious massages at their well-appointed Willow Stream Spa.

The interesting part of this story, is that we had to pay up front, before our spa experience even began. We checked in at the counter and were asked to sign a bill that included gratuity...very nice, generous gratuity.

I was a waitress for years, and I worked my butt off for every penny in tips that I earned. You learned quickly that if you did not hustle and smile, you did not make any money. My waitress counterparts and I knew that our service directly impacted our gratuity. To this day, I am a generous tipper.

Flash forward to the swanky Willow Stream Spa. The massages are expensive, compared even to San Francisco spa prices, and I feel like I was paying it forward in gratuity--yes, paying it forward unvoluntarily big time in hope that I would have a good massage.

Is it gratuity if it is mandatory? Am I ensuring that I will get good service from my therapist if they are hoping to score a big tip? What if my experience is substandard?

I think that if you add 20 percent gratuity to any service, you should just make that part of the price. I mean, it's a guarantee, right? The therapists get my money whether I want to part with or not. It has nothing to do with my appreciation.

I'm not begrudging the tipping process, I'm just saying, call a spade a spade. It's not a tip if it's mandatory, it's the cost of the service.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why My Old Blog Gets More Traffic

It's about margaritas. No wonder.

Margaritas are much more interesting than my real life. That old blog is all about how, when, and where to drink them. There are regular margaritas, grapefruit margaritas, even pumpkin margaritas, just to name a few.

The thing is, after a year, you might get pretty tired of tasting, mixing and drinking margaritas. I did.

Funny though, that blog still gets way more response and traffic, even though I myself rarely visit or write there.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Hammock: Smart Husband, Stupid Wife

My husband is a fan of the hammock. He will sneak off and climb in and disappear from the regular world. When he disappears, we disappear from his world, too. I spend a lot of my life ordering him OUT of the hammock.

In my aforementioned diatribe about the moldy swimsuits, towels, sheets, comforters, blankets and mattress, I mentioned that my husband believes I only work hard because I haven't trained my kids well-enough.

When I was re-reading my journal about our summer on the lake, I realized who exactly he had trained--and I didn't like the discovery.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tragicomendy of Errors

Sometime in July 2010:

It was not tragic. It was not comedic. It was just the proverbial straw that broke the camel's lower back and it was so gosh darn sad it was funny.

All month I've been chastising my daughters for throwing (or draping) dripping wet towels and bathing suits all around the Cot-Taj. Worst of all, I've been nagging about wet towels on the bed.

That nagging voice of mine was starting to sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, "Blah blah blah, screeeechhhh!" My husband's continuous comments were about my mothering abilities and teaching my children to do more work so that I could do less work. Thanks, honey, hope you're enjoying your hammock.

Today, as I was getting a room ready for our next round of 8 guests, I discovered layer upon layer of disgusting, moldy sheets, towels and clothing in Birk's bed. Some of the clothing was still folded from the clean laundry pile! It was like princess and the pea, layers that went down to a damp, stinky mattress. Not impressed.

That is another problem with the Taj. If you are tired of a wet bed, don't tell you mom, just go sleep in another bed. Pull the covers up and sneak off.

To the naked eye, the bed was perfectly made with a fluffy comforter. My eyes were gratefully naked for at least a week. I was blissfully thinking at least one room was clean.

When I discovered the layer cake effect evidence that Birk was not in fact "cleaning" her room and "hanging" up her wet suit and towel, I howled like a injured coyote. Birk wasn't even putting her clean clothes away in her drawers. In fact, she was conducting a black mold experiment.

Take a grouchy mommy, hip pain, the impending arrival of 8 guests and you've got a formula that almost made me break down in tears of frustration. Almost, I say, almost.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

How It Happened: 365 Days to a New Cottage

If you scroll down, you will see the before and after pics of our Canadian cottage. I have been teasing my husband that it's new name should be the COT-TAJ. This place is massive in comparison to my regular house.

My husband has been pondering a renovation for years. He loves this place on the lake and refers to it as his "Palace of Solitude." He grew up on this lake and it is for all intents and purposes his "home."

He started visiting construction sites and flipping through magazines. He asked me if I would like to go along and join him on his site-seeing trips, I politely declined. I am in entertainment mode every minute I spend on the lake. My husband comes here for vacation. I come here for work.

A couple of days before we closed up for the season last summer, he had a meeting with a draftsman and a contractor. The next thing I knew, sitting at home in the good old USA, they were pouring basements and finding all kinds of problems with the existing structure.

I'll never forget the minute that he turned to me and said that they had burned the rest of the building down. The structure was not viable. Yes, our renovation had turned into a rebuild.

About a year later, I was stunned at this massive structure that loomed before me as we turned down the driveway. Gone was our little ramshackle place. Before me stood what looked like a Tahoe ski house.

I was and still am in a little bit of shock. I am a "farm girl." A landlubber. An adult with ADHD. I don't know where my socks are on a normal day, let alone how to navigate a massive dwelling. I should be excited. I should be jumping up and down.

All I can think is now I'm broke and have a lot more house to clean. Not very glass full, am I?

I've been muttering all summer that my husband absolutely married the wrong woman. Most woman would be jumping up and down for joy. I keep thinking we've got more space to have more guests come to visit--and it's completely winterized, so not only more guests, but more guests more often.

I love guests, and would go crazy in such a remote place without them. However, if my idea of a vacation was cooking 3 square meals a day for 20, making beds, stripping beds, washing sheets and cleaning the bathroom I would apply to be a chambermaid at the Holiday Inn.

I catapult from this existence back home to regular life, and people say, how was you summer? Did you have a great time on the lake? Mostly, I nod. It's too long of a story. You either get it or you don't.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Scenes from the Cot-Taj: Transformation Before and After

This was suggested by a friend of mine. She wondered what the two looked like side by side. Paula, this one's for you...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cell Phones and Kids, Keeping Us All Connected?

My daughter is 11, almost 12, and she has a cell phone. This was no nefarious scheme by her to be connected to the cellular network, it was all my planning.

My reasons for giving my daughter a cell phone:

1. I can call her from the car and let her know to gather up her siblings and bring them to the entrance of the school. This saves me time and legwork.

2. I can check in with her when she is at camp.

3. When she babysits, I have a MUST answer policy. Then the phone does not ring and ring and I wonder if they are all in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

4. When she is out with friends I can find her. I can let her know if I'm going to be late picking her up.

Unfortunately, if your kid is not that connected to the cell phone, it is hard to get them to literally connect the cell phone to the charger. The times I really NEED her to have it are usually the times when it has zero battery.

Today, for instance, we are in search of the charging cord. We have two. We can find none.

All of a sudden this "free" phone is going to cost me $20 for a replacement charging cord. Is it all part of the marvelous cell phone company's "drain you of your money plan?"

I am so annoyed that I am bound to get a new charger and tape it to the wall.