There are some who start their retirement long before they stop working. -Robert Half

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ziploc Baggies.

Today I cleaned my first Ziploc baggie. This is one great leap I have been putting off for 23 years that now opens new doors of frugality to my retirement. I was washing the dishes in the sink, when right past the medium-sized pot and to the left of the sharp knives, I saw it floating there, like an omen dooming me to forever re-use disposable items. I tried to avoid it, hoping it would somehow find its way to the trash can, but Grammy’s voice spoke from my conscience telling me: “Wash the baggie. Grammy will be proud. The earth will love you. Come on, just do it” and I slowly reached for the scrubby and, consequently, my fate. I mean, who knows, by next week I might be making doilies out of old WalMart bags or weaving potholders out of old t-shirts. It used to be very sentimental for me when Grammy would send me cookies at college and the baggy they were in would have “Strawberries, June 1994” written on the front, letting me know just how much scrubbing-love she had put into this gift. Now I am the baggie-washer. Someday you’ll come to my house and I’ll have drying baggies perched on various appliances in my spotless kitchen. What have I done!?

Disposable Items that Grammy re-uses:
1) Ziploc baggies.
2) Old towels. Grammy cuts them up and turns them into potholders.
3) Twist-ties. We have an entire tupperware devoted to twist-ties.
4) Bottles from bottled water. She will reuse these even though they cause cancer, but she won't stand in front of the microwave because she got a forward in her email about microwaves exploding.
5) Peanut containers. If you go to the pantry in search of peanuts, you better check before you eat from it because it could contain raisins or sunflower seeds.
6) Plastic silverware.
7) Plastic cups. There is a big stack of plastic cups in the basement with names on it, and when family comes to visit, she brings it up so people have their own special cups.
8) Stamps. For as long as I can remember, Grammy has cut the stamps off of mail she gets to send to children in some far away country. I'm not sure if these kids just love stamps or if this is a way they raise money, like how Yoplait raises money for breast cancer and hunger by collecting the yogurt tops.
9) Scraps of fabric from quilts.

This is where my life is heading...

The Home Stretch.

Exciting occurrences from the long ride home:
-Papa spilled coffee all over my book at the continental breakfast (which was not as good as the Hampton…). We caused quite a ruckus since the dining room was small and filled to capacity, and considering the fact that Papa and I are louder than most people on a regular basis, just imagine us while we’re spilling things all over the floor. Grammy wasn’t down yet because she has a special routine for her mornings, but when she got there Papa got a new cup of coffee:
Julie: Are you going to try again? He spilled his first cup.
Papa: That was supposed to be a secret.
Julie: Well, you didn’t tell me that!
Papa: It’s always a secret.
Julie: Look, Grammy, he spilled on my book.
Papa: Oh, that’s ok. People will just think you were reading in bed and spilled coffee on your book.
Julie: No, I’ll tell them what really happened.
Grammy: Papa has started making up stories. When he fell over the planter, he tried to get me to tell the doctor he ran into a door or something.
Papa: I don’t think I told you that.
Grammy: Oh, you did.
Papa: I don’t remember doing something like that.

-We went to Memphis and tried to go to Mud Island, but since it was Sunday, it was closed. Thus, we were 7 hours from home and hadn’t seen any tourist attractions, which is not okay, so we headed to Beale Street. After parking the car, we walked past the Orpheum Theatre, where there are lots of stars with famous names on them in the sidewalk. I told Papa to pick a star so I could take his picture, so he stood by Gregory Peck’s star and said: “I guess I’ll stand by Gregory Peck, even though I don’t like his daughter.” Meanwhile, Grammy was taking pictures of each of her favorite stars. Needless to say, it took us a while to walk past the Orpheum Theatre. We reached Beale Street and after 25 minutes of taking more pictures, commenting on the structure of each building, and looking into each store window we finally made it down one block. This is when Papa asked: “So, have we seen enough?” Grammy just gave him a look that said: Buck up because this is the only touristy thing we did all week. Turns out, the Oklahoma vs. University of North Carolina basketball game was in Memphis the day we were there, and all the excited OK and UNC fans made us wallow in supportive sorrow for our Tigers. Since I was wearing a MU fleece jacket, Grammy and I stood in the middle of Beale Street and cheered “Go Tigers!” Grammy also looked at every single t-shirt stand to see if they had Mizzou on any of them. They didn’t. So we left.

-We ate lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s, but it wasn’t very good. They did have a lot of broccoli, which, along with grilled cheese sandwiches, is my favorite food. Grammy and I ordered quiche* and Grammy was not impressed.

-We stopped at McDonald’s in Thayer, MO because it was about time for Papa’s daily ice cream cone.

-We stopped to get gas and when I went inside to go to the bathroom, there were six people in line and they were all buying alcohol. This is when I knew I was back in Missouri and away from the Land of Dry Counties.

*Side Note: Quiche is pronounced “kish” at Grammy and Papa’s house. I’m not sure why or where they got that, but every time they say it, I can’t help but chuckle. Papa also pronounces Bush, as in George Bush, “boosh” which is equally hilarious.

Lessons Learned:
1) If Papa is driving, I will always have to remind him to turn his turn signal off every single time he uses it. Without fail. I’m going to have to get him a louder blinker.
2) Grammy sometimes drives in the middle of two lanes. She also seemed to be driving every time we were trying to decide where to eat a meal, which, because of Papa’s indecisiveness, quickly turned into a fight for life as Grammy swerved in and out of lanes and I sat in the back holding my breath and praying we make it to safety.
3) Grammy comments on things. Anything she sees. If we drive through a town, she’ll just start reading signs, like: “There’s a WalMart. Look, over here we have a Target, Red Lobster, Bass Pro. Look at that new bank they’re building, it’s a Wachovia! They’re building a lot of banks recently, I don’t know where they get the money, but there’s a Region’s Bank, too! We know about Region’s bank, don’t we Papa?” She never runs out of things to comment on; it is truly amazing. Mom says that Pap-Pap, Grammy’s dad, used to comment on everything, also. It must be genetic.
4) When choosing a hotel, the continental breakfast menu is the final deciding factor. Unfortunately, the menu doesn’t always reflect the quality of the food. Thus, after much deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that the Hampton Inn has the best continental breakfast. They also had an assortment of different types of pillows to choose from. And free internet. And a nice comforter on the bed. Gold star!
5) When all else fails and you can’t find anywhere to eat, there’s always a Cracker Barrel.
6) Once we eat at a certain restaurant or stay at a certain hotel, someone must inform the rest of the car when we pass another of the same restaurant/hotel. For example, once we ate at the Waffle House, Grammy and Papa pointed out every Waffle House from Rolla, MO to Panama City, FL. There are a lot of Waffle Houses.
7) I love going on vacation with my grandparents.

Since we have family all across the country, I have devised some future travel destination ideas. Papa says he's not going to go on another vacation for a while, but I've gotten pretty good at convincing him to do things.
Future Travel Destinations (from west to east):
1) Portland, Oregon. To visit Uncle David, Aunt Melissa and my cousins, Noah and Cooper.
2) Frisco. To visit Uncle Jeff, his vineyard, and his new barnhouse. (Even though I know pretty much everything there is to know about the construction of the barnhouse. Grammy took Aunt Dotty and me through every entry on his blog.)
3) Denver, Colorado. To visit Grammy's brother, Carl.
4) Mullins, West Virginia. To visit the rest of Papa's side of the family.
5) Providence, Rhode Island. To visit my brother, Andy.

Yeah, get excited. Papa won't know what hit him.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day Five: A Summary.

1) Tornado/flash flood/flood/storm warnings were splattered across the Southwest when we woke up, so instead of waiting, we decided to leave immediately. Consequently, we found ourselves driving right through the middle of the storm. By this time, we figured that the sky would soon, without a doubt, run out of rain, but it didn’t.  Missouri doesn’t get rain like this. I assume this is what it is like to live in Seattle, except warmer, and I’m not a fan.  Finally after three hours of wet/treacherous/terrifying driving, the sun burst through the clouds for the first time in three days. I think Florida must have known we were leaving, so it decided to become sunny again. Thanks for nothing.

2) For lunch, we once again stopped at Cracker Barrel.  Right when we sat down during both our visits to Cracker Barrel, Papa immediately handed either Grammy or me the peg game to see if we can do it. If you don’t know what the peg game is, it is a little triangle board with lots of pegs in holes, and you try and jump pegs one at a time until you have the fewest pegs left in the board.  So, both Grammy and I could only get it down to three pegs. The first time we went to Cracker Barrel, Papa “ran out of time” so couldn’t play the game, but he said he could get it down to one peg. The second trip, we made Papa do it and he only got it to three pegs, too.  Grammy said that my dad made her a peg game one time, so we’ll have to get it out of the basement to practice for next time.  My dad used to be a hippie and made all these wooden things like peg games and dulcimers; well I guess he kind of still is a hippie, but at least he wears shoes now.  Mom said that the first time she brought my dad home to meet Grammy and Papa, he brought a tent and camped in the backyard. Though Papa thought my dad was crazy at the time, he recently joked with Grammy and me that if he and Grammy separated he was going to buy an RV and park it in the backyard. And he was still going to come over to Grammy’s for meals.

3) Our Mizzou Tigers made it into the Elite Eight, so they played Connecticut this afternoon at 3:50pm.  Since we were in Middle-of-Nowhere-Mississippi, we didn’t have access to a TV, so we listened to it on fuzzy AM radio. It was pretty intense. Papa was driving, which was probably wise since Grammy and I get really active and antsy during sports games. I mean, we have to have our hands free to hex the other team! Anyway, this game was close, because our Tigers are good at catching up and pressuring the other team, especially during the second half.  Once Mizzou’s score got within 6 points of UConn, Grammy and I were practically bouncing around the car, so we decided to try and find somewhere to watch the end of the game. Games are better when you can see them, that’s all there is to it. Grammy kept yelling to Papa: “Find a bar, William!  We need to find a bar!” so, we turned off into a town called Mendenhall in search of a sports bar or an Applebee’s.  We drove around town and there was not a single bar. In the entire town. Now, being from Missouri, this was quite shocking because I think that every city in Missouri has at least one bar. Take my favorite town, Rosebud, for example. There are only a few hundred people in the town, but they have two bars.  Anyway, I guess dry counties do exist. So, in our defeat, we went and sat outside a gas station to finish the last seconds of the game. Unfortunately, though we put up a good fight, we lost by just a few points. That’s ok, though. Grammy and I are still proud of you, Tigers!

4) We ate at Applebee’s for dinner since we searched so hard for one earlier this afternoon.  After we ordered our meal, we bought a shamrock to support muscular dystrophy, so Grammy and I spent the meal deciding what name we should write on our support shamrock. We decided on “The Terrific Trio” and our shamrock will live forever in the hearts of many.

5) Tonight we’re staying at the Comfort Inn. I can assure you we are all excited and anxious to see how the continental breakfast will be. So far, the Hampton Inn is winning the competition, and the main reason for that is they had really cute signs for everything. Grammy’s been talking about the signs on the coffee ever since we stayed there; they all had signs with vintage gas pumps on them and the decaf had “Unleaded,” the regular had “Super,” and the robust had “Premium.” Clever. Verrry clever. Comfort Inn, you have a lot to live up to.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day Four Highs and Lows.


1) Reading the Panama City Herald at the diner during breakfast. My favorite stories, which were on page two of the paper, are:

Rumors bites! Headmaster denies vampires at school.

BOSTON (AP) -- Apparently, it's not the bloody truth. After stories spread that vampires were strolling the campus of Boston Latin School, the headmaster of the prestigious college-prep school put a stake in the rumors. Lynne Mooney Teta sent a notice out Thursday to faculty, students, and parents denying the presence of bloodsuckers. She declined, however, to offer details about the rumors.”

Toilet sausage chef causes prison unit evacuation.

CLALLAM BAY, Wash. (AP) -- An inmate's attempt to heat up sausages in his toilet went up in smoke when the cooking fire forced a unit evacuation at a Washington prison. Clallam Bay Corrections Center spokeswoman Denise Larson says 130 inmates were evacuated to a dining hall when smoke was spotted coming from a sewer vent pipe Wednesday evening. She says the smoke was traced to the inmate's cell and he admitted to trying to heat up snack sausage bought from a prison store in the stainless steel toilet. The inmate's identity has not been released. The toilet chef has been placed in segregation pending discipline at the prison on Washington's Olympic Peninsula.”

I’m glad that during our current natural disasters and economic recessions the AP is covering such important and crucial stories. And though that sounds sarcastic, it isn’t. I haven’t read anything light-hearted in the paper for a long time so it’s nice to see there are still things going on like men who try to warm sausage in a toilet.

2) I got my own room last night. Before we left for our trip, Grammy came over to me and said: “I have a little present for you.”  The present was a package of earplugs and after night one as bunk buddies, I know why.  I guess I should have realized that Grammy and Papa snore loudly since I can hear them in my room at home from their room upstairs. I really wasn’t sure who snores so loudly, but Papa and I decided it is Grammy.  Papa kept asking me why I wear the earplugs and I told him I can’t sleep with the snoring so Grammy gave me earplugs. He told me:

Papa: It’s all in your mind. You just have to tell yourself that there is going to be some snoring going on over there and it isn’t going to bother you. 
Julie: Papa, I’m not sure if that works. 
Papa: Sure it does. Once you get used to the noise, it won’t bother you anymore. Like if there were a train outside, it wouldn’t bother you after you got used to it. 
Julie: Well, I haven’t gotten used to the snoring yet.

Papa is a firm believer in convincing yourself of things. Like how he tells me that on nights when I can’t sleep, I just need to tell myself to go to sleep. When I tell him that doesn’t work, he just tells me that I’m not convincing myself enough.

3) We all took naps today.  Yes, we drove all the way to Florida to nap.

4) Andrea sent me a picture of baby Jayson, and we all passed the computer around to look at how cute he is.  Grammy and Aunt Dotty kept talking about how wonderful it is that people are having babies and how he has such a beautiful complexion from sitting in liquid for nine months. Grammy said: "You tell Andrea she has a beautiful baby. And I should know, I've seen a lot of them." When I showed the picture to Papa, he just looked at it and said: "Well, look at that. It looks like a normal baby."


1) It is still raining and there are tornado warnings. Actually, that is a mixture of high/low because I think tornados are exciting, apart from the damage, that is. When I was a freshman in high school, I told my counselor that I wanted to be a tornado chaser, which meant I wanted to be a pilot and a meteorologist, but the counselor told me that I had to be in the Air Force to be a pilot and that “tornado chaser” wasn’t a real job. I’m still bitter. She crushed my dreams.

2) Aunt Dotty is also a republican so all week we had to talk about how she doesn't trust President Obama and how he is going to ruin this country and spend all of our money.  I think Fox News is to blame.

3) My hair doesn’t like Florida. What was previously a curly mess in Missouri is now a frizzy disaster in Florida.

4) We went to a buffet called ChowTime for dinner. Personally, I think buffets are the most disgusting displays of gluttony and obesity, but everyone else seems to like them. They did have a pretty amazing sushi bar, and though it was good, I’m still waiting for my food poisoning to begin; there is something about sushi at a buffet that I don’t trust. Papa was happy because he got to eat oysters, clams, and crawfish. When he got his crawfish plate, he would crack the heads off, look at Grammy and slurp out the insides. He just sat there and chuckled while we talked about how disgusting that is.

The Arrival.

Day three started out the same way as day two: rainy, though not “flash-floody” this time. The continental breakfast was, as I guessed, better than our first experience. Everything was very fresh and they had really good coffee, which seems to make any breakfast better, that is if you’re a coffee drinker like we are.  Grammy and Papa drink decaf coffee because Grammy says caffeine makes her have to go to the bathroom too much. Papa says nothing makes him go to the bathroom too much. Yesterday at lunch, Papa drank two glasses of tea and Grammy said:

Grammy: Don’t you think you should use the bathroom before we leave? 
Papa: No. It doesn’t affect me. 
Grammy: Sure it does. Drinking fluids affects everyone. 
Papa: Not me. 
Julie: Wow, that’s lucky. Isn’t he lucky Grammy? 
Grammy: Oh he’s lucky alright.

Anyway, after breakfast, we began our final day of driving to Panama City. We drove through Destin and while passing by the massive number of condominium complexes, we each commented on whether or not we would like to stay in each of them.  Grammy likes the small, cute ones and Papa likes the ones that look expensive. I don’t really like condo’s or the ocean. After driving all morning, we once again struggled to find a place for lunch, and after many wrong and life-threatening turns, we ended up at Olive Garden for soup and salad. After lunch, Papa was nominated to be driver, since he hadn’t driven all day. We started out toward Panama City, and after about 20 minutes, Papa started yawning:

Papa: I’m getting tired. 
Grammy: Do you need someone else to drive? 
Papa: Maybe, my body’s about ready for its after-lunch nap. 
Julie: Papa, you’ve only been driving for 20 minutes. 
Papa: Well, I did a lot of hard work today. I mean, I had to figure up the tip on our bill from lunch. 
Grammy: Oh that sounds pretty strenuous.

Finally, we arrived at Aunt Dotty’s house, Papa’s sister. I knew they were related right when I walked in the house because Aunt Dotty had Fox News blaring from the TV in the living room.

Let me just say that I love family. Aunt Dotty’s daughter Carolyn (my first cousin once removed) came over and we all sat around and talked about the family I’ve never met.  Turns out, I always thought my mom’s side of the family was small because I’d only met my uncles and their families, but in reality it is huge! Listening to these stories is really incredible. Papa and his eight siblings grew up during the depression in a small mining town in West Virginia called Mullins and it is amazing how far they have gone and how much each of them has achieved.  We talked about Granny Green (aka creator of my beloved Granny’s Pickles that we eat with our grilled cheese sandwiches) and how truly good she was. 

Reasons I wish I could have known Granny Green:

1) She created Granny's pickles. Enough said.

2) Carolyn said she had a special gift of making everyone feel like they were the most wonderful, special, beautiful and loved person in the entire world. 

3) She helped anyone who needed it with anything they needed. No matter what.

4) She used to help deliver all the babies in town.  Aunt Dotty said that sometimes she would be out all night helping the new mothers and would then come home and take care of all of them.

We went to dinner at Boondocks, which was awarded the Best Dive Award by Southern Living magazine. On our way, Grammy, Papa, Aunt Dotty, and Carolyn talked about all the health problems that I have to look forward to inheriting, such as:

-That “Green Family Cholesterol.”  I can’t wait for that one.

-Thyroid problems. Carolyn said she had thyroid problems and it made her so tired she could hardly walk up her front stairs.  Papa was diagnosed with thyroid problems, but after taking medicine for a few months, he decided he was cured and didn’t need medicine. I think Carolyn convinced him to go get that checked out again, though. Thank goodness.

-Hearing loss. I think I’m already getting this one. I used to think it was from my childhood ear infections and the fact that my family is loud, but now I think I’ll blame it on genetics.

-Knee problems.  Apparently, lots of people on Grammy’s and Papa’s sides of the family have knee problems and I already have some knee pain, so I’m guessing it is only time until I have a knee replacement. I better start taking glucosamine now.

-Memory loss. Aunt Dotty’s husband, Sam, lost his mind toward the end of his life, but Carolyn says that is because their house was infested with black moss. I hope she’s right. One time, Carolyn said she walked into their house and Uncle Sam was throwing tater tots all over the living room because he was “feeding the dogs,” though they didn’t have any dogs. She also said that when she was little they never got to eat anything good because Uncle Sam thought that he had allergies, but really he just slept with his head in black moss.

-We also discussed all the different pills that everyone takes to treat their different ailments. I can’t wait to grow older. I’m definitely going to get a pill-a-day container, that’s for sure.

We had to get home because our Mizzou Tigers are in the Sweet Sixteen, and we had to watch them beat Memphis!  When we came in, Aunt Dotty told us: “I’m going to take my medicine” and then she came over and whispered to me “I’m a pill junkie” and walked away laughing. I love it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Tumultuous Downpour.

Turns out, the breakfast was not as wonderful as we hoped and dreamed it would be. Papa made his own waffle and instead of pouring the batter in the middle of the pan, he poured equal amounts in each fourth of the pan and then I started flipping it over, and Papa asked me if I knew what I was doing, and I told him I know everything. He was impressed. He kept asking me where I learned how to use a waffle maker, so I told him I learned my mad waffle making skills from the dining hall in college. Except the waffles at the dining hall were Waffles Deluxe and had sprinkles and lots of sugary toppings to choose from and the waffle at the Quality Inn was just a waffle. Luckily, we still had our pecan pastry from Thayer, MO in the car so we could just fill up on breakfast dessert.

Also, our trip started out windy, when we left Cracker Barrel and the wind almost shut Grammy’s head in the car door, and quickly shifted to rainy. Actually, “rainy” isn’t a strong enough word, I think that I’ll use “flash-floody and terrifying” instead. It down-poured from 9am to 2pm, while we drove from Jackson to Mobile, Alabama. This past weekend, one of my friends, Sarah, was narrating our actions as if we were a living novel, and if she were here now, this is how our stop in Hattiesburg would sound:

The rain beat down on the water-logged car from all sides of the sky, making the passengers feel confined and claustrophobic and leaving them hoping the angry water wouldn’t rush them away to some unknown catastrophe. These small-town Missouri residents had never seen so much water at one time, and began to wonder if it would ever stop. Pulling off the road, Grammy, the fearless driver, began to search for a parking spot so they could wait out the storm instead of fighting the ever-powerful forces of nature. Just when they thought their trip was at an end and they would soon be recruited to start filling sandbags, the rain started slowing down to a slight drizzle and the travelers began to continue their southward journey. But, in their euphoria they didn’t consider the problems the massive amounts of rain would cause to the roads that would lead them onward. Grammy pulled back onto the busy highway only to encounter gushing water two-feet deep. The Lincoln Town Car they were driving seemed to groan in protest at the prospect of driving through the oncoming river. Images of the Lincoln floating down highway 98 like a unfortunate wagon in the Oregon Trail computer game flashed through Julie’s head as they slowly rolled (or floated) closer to the beckoning waves below. Yes, much smaller cars were driving right through this threatening waterfall, but the Lincoln is older and more refined and doesn’t do things like drive carelessly through rivers, so Grammy made a U-Turn, hopping the median, to find an alternate route. Finally, the heroic travelers found a high road to embark upon, and after a necessary stop at WalMart to buy butterscotch disks, they continued on their incredible voyage.

It was pretty intense. And though we thought the rain had stopped, once we started driving toward Mobile, it started again. I was driving and Papa was in the passenger seat and we talked almost the entire way about what speed I should drive. I was going about 15 mph below the speed limit, but Papa thought I should be driving slower than that. Luckily he fell asleep and I could listen to the John Denver tape on repeat in peace. Grammy slept on the way to Mobile, too, and when she woke up, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was playing (again) and she goes: “Are we still listening to this West Virginia song?! I think it’s time we change tapes.” So Papa turned the music off and said, “Here’s an easy fix to your problem.”

We ate at a restaurant called Felix’s in Mobile and sat facing the bay so we could watch the muddy water and the birds perching on logs. It was just like in Owensville when we sit at dinner and watch the birds. Except when we’re at home, Grammy gets up from the table a few times per meal to bang on the window and scare “those greedy blackbirds” away so they don’t eat all the bird food. From our Mobile dinner window, however, we could see alligators. On our way down here, I was thinking about how nice it would be to live in such a beautiful part of the country, but upon seeing those gators, my opinion has changed. Thanks to Reader’s Digest, I have an irrational fear of being attacked by alligators/crocodiles and sharks. I read the Reader’s Digest every morning while I’m eating breakfast (Grammy sets them all on the table for me to choose from), and there is, without fail, always a story about some small child that escaped the jaws of an alligator and is now left with scars all over his body or a tale of a near-deadly shark attack affecting some poor, innocent swimmer who now has a prosthetic arm. Thus, I don’t like oceans and I will forever steer clear of murky swamps. Grammy and I were also watching the Discovery Channel one night and there was a special on the world’s scariest creatures, and they said that crocodiles can run up to 10 mph! That means that a crocodile could definitely catch me, especially if we had to run for any extended length of time.

Then, we headed to Foley, Alabama because Grammy knows of a shoe store where she always finds wonderful shoes to buy. Once again, we had trouble finding a hotel, and then we had to go around and find the one with the best deal. Finally, Papa got tired of listening to us talk about the different hotels, he just went in and checked in to the Hampton Inn.

There is a huge outlet mall in Foley, Alabama so to pass the evening, we went shopping. Grammy and I split up and went shopping, and Papa went to the store he wanted to visit, but I soon found him napping on the bench outside Liz Claiborne, Grammy’s favorite store. When Grammy walked out to see what he was doing, she asked:

Grammy: Didn’t you find anything?
Papa: No, I’m too fat.
Julie: Well, did you try a bigger size?
Papa: No.
Grammy: Did you look in Nautica? You used to like Nautica.
Papa: No. And I’m not going to.

Eventually, Grammy made Papa go look in Nautica, but he didn’t find anything (or he didn’t try to find anything). When we got back to the hotel, we realized that no one brought a key to our room, so after checking our pockets multiple times and looking through the window to see the keys sitting on the nightstand, Papa went to the lobby and got three new keys. When he came back with the keys, he was excited to tell us they had cocoa, tea, coffee, cookies, and fruit inside for us to take, so we all took a trip to the lobby to get our hot beverage. Papa was very pleased with his hot chocolate. Then, since it was 9 pm, we decided to have dinner, which is the same dinner we had last night. This means, we sit at our table in our hotel room and eat crackers with pimento cheese, turkey lunchmeat, fruit, pecan breakfast dessert and cookies. Well, actually, Grammy and I ate the real food and Papa only ate the pecan breakfast dessert and cookies. And he wonders why he doesn’t fit in his pant size anymore. After we finished eating, Papa headed to the door and told us he’s going to the lobby to see if there is any new food set out, which really means, “I’m going to buy one of the candy bars they set out on the front desk.” My friend, Andrea, just had a baby today. I knew she was going to have him right when I went on vacation. When she had her first child, I was in Italy for spring break, so at least I'm in the same country this time (Andrea and Todd (her husband) also have a daughter named Riley who is the most adorable child on the face of the earth. I have a picture of her in my room, so almost every time Grammy comes in, we talk about how cute she is). Anyway, since I couldn't be there, Grammy, Papa and I have been waiting for word of this child's birth during our entire trip. Every time I got a phone call or text message (or as Grammy would say, "texing") they would ask me if the baby was here yet, and finally, baby Jayson did arrive! When I told them that, Grammy got really excited and talked about how wonderful that is and Papa just chuckled. During dinner, Grammy told us: "I don't know what other exciting things could happen now that the baby is born!" Once again, I'm going to have to tell my big brother that Grammy wants great-grandbabies.

Anyway, we also checked out the continental breakfast set-up at the Hampton, which looks more promising than our first continental breakfast. I’m basing this on the fact that the signs are prettier and the set up is classier. And they have a wide array of cereal choices, so when tomorrow comes and I still don’t like scrambled eggs or bacon (pork), I can find something to eat for breakfast.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Vacation Begins.

Last night, I got home from a mini-vacation with some friends from college down at our cabin on Tablerock Lake.  Since I had a lot of packing to do, I asked Papa what time we were leaving in the morning.  He told me: 
Papa: We’re leaving early so we can eat breakfast in Rolla. 
Julie: Where are we going to eat? Zino’s?  
Papa: No, we’re going to eat at that sticky place. 
Grammy: What sticky place? 
Papa: You know, the one with the sticky counters. 
Grammy: Oh, you mean the Waffle House.  
So, we got up at 5am so we could get to Rolla to eat at the sticky Waffle House on our way.  Apparently the Waffle House in Rolla has changed locations, so this was all of our first experience.  When we walked in, I told them we wanted non-smoking, and they pointed us toward the far end of the restaurant, though I was very confused because there were people smoking on both sides of the restaurant. Turns out, the “non-smoking section” consists of the 3 booths on the farthest edge of the restaurant. I guess I didn’t see the invisible smoke barrier.  We were, however, impressed with the new location. Though the coffee tasted like water and the hashbrowns gave me heartburn, the tables were not sticky and the food was fast.  Papa started telling us how some people are just sticky: 
Papa: Some people are sticky. They just smear syrup all over everything. 
At this point, Papa spilled Sweet ‘N Low all over the table 
Julie: Papa! You’re one of the sticky people! You’re the reason the tables are sticky! 
He just laughed and wiped it off onto the seat, until Grammy and I gave him a hard time about sticky seats and he wiped it onto the floor.

So Papa had to get another Sweet ‘N Low to put in his coffee because the coffee was only good if you put enough sugar in it. When Grammy complained about the watery coffee he told her: “You must not have put enough sugar in it.”

Our next stop was 2 hours later in Thayer, MO.  Like I said, the hashbrowns gave me heartburn so we stopped at the Country Mart Dollar Store to get some Tums. Papa didn’t believe that I had heartburn. He said that young people don’t have problems like that. They can eat whatever they want because they’re young. I told him the hashbrowns gave me heartburn.  He said: 

Papa: Maybe you should go to the doctor and get something stuck down your throat to check out your stomach. 
Julie: Papa, if you eat greasy food, you get heartburn! 
Papa: I don’t have that problem. 
Julie: Well other people do. Haven’t you seen the Tums commercials where they’re eating a greasy burger and then need to eat a Tums? 
Papa: I don’t know. I never had stomach problems until I got married. 
Julie: Did you go to the doctor and get something stuck down your throat to check it out.
Papa: Yes, I did. And there was something wrong with me. I can’t remember what it was though.

Along with my Tums, Papa found the bakery section of the store and found a huge pizza-sized pecan pastry. He bought it (I mean, we hadn’t had our breakfast dessert yet) and we headed over to McDonald’s to get some coffee. Grammy wouldn’t let us take our pastry into McDonald’s to eat it, so Papa and I got the coffee and then we went and sat in the parking lot and watched a lumber truck unload machinery while we ate.

From Thayer, we headed south through Tennessee. And as if this trip couldn’t get any better (or more retired) we stopped to eat at Cracker Barrel in Lebanon, Tennessee for lunch. The Lincoln doesn’t have a CD player so we listened to two tapes repeatedly for the seven-hour span between Thayer, Missouri and Jackson, Mississippi.  

The Tapes: 

1) Sleepless in Seattle Soundtrack.  Grammy and I love this soundtrack. We also have the CD.

2)    Show tunes.  And not just any show tunes, these were show tune remakes, and were all played with weird, unknown instruments and sung by people who were not actually in the stage productions.

3)    John Denver. When Papa put this one in, he looked at me and said: “I bet that West Virginia song is on here.”  Papa is from Mullins, West Virginia.  

Once we arrived in Jackson, we passed by all the hotels, got lost, asked for directions, and finally found a Quality Inn to stay at. Papa made our hotel choice by checking out the breakfast menu. We get free: biscuits and gravy, waffles, pancakes, toast, bagels, cereal, juice, oatmeal (though we know Papa isn’t going to choose that), fruit, and coffee. I can’t wait until the sun rises!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Vacation Planning.

Last week I got pulled over for speeding down Route 66. Ironically, I was just telling someone that morning how I haven't been pulled over in a long time, then I saw those obnoxously bright flashing lights approaching from behind. Honestly, I didn't really think he was pulling me over because I wasn't doing anything illegal; the speed limit was 55 mph and I was going 50 mph, so I thought maybe he just needed to get by me to bust a meth lab or something. I was wrong. He was pulling me over. Apparently I was going 15 mph over "right through the middle of town, (aka right where the speed limit changes from 35 mph to 55 mph) as he unnecessarily informed me numerous times. Plus, I wouldn't really consider the spot where I was pulled over "the middle of town." I mean, there were fields on both sides of me and according to the speed limit I wasn't even speeding because I was definitely at least a mile past the speed limit change when he pulled me over. Anyway, after he ran all my information, he came up to my window and said "Ma'am, I'm going to need you to step out of the car and follow me." What the heck?! He made me come back and look at the speed he clocked me at going and then told me once again that I was speeding right through the middle of town and I need to drive slower. What I really wanted to ask him was:
1) Would you really consider this farmland "the middle of town?" Really? It's more like the middle of nowhere.
2) Was it necessary to ask me to step out of the car? Does that make you feel more powerful?
3) If I was speeding in the 35 mph zone, why did you pull me over so far from it?

But I kept my mouth shut and apologized for my reckless and unexcuseable driving like a good citizen. Everyone I work with is trying to convince me to fight it in court. We'll call it Julie vs. The Cuba Police Department. It will go down in history.
Anyway, Papa is not going to find out about this unjust ticket because spring break is quickly approaching and after much deliberation, Grammy, Papa and I have decided to drive south for the week. Imagine how long it would take us to get to Florida if Papa new I had received a speeding ticket! I'd be going 10 mph below the entire way!

Grammy and I have been planning on going somewhere for a while now, but we finally got Papa to commit. Up to last night, Papa still "wasn't sure" if he was going to come with us.
Julie: So, Papa are you getting excited for our trip?
Papa: Who's trip? You and Grammy?
Julie: Papa, you're going with us!
Papa: I'm still not sure. I'll have to check my schedule.
Julie: I know you don't have anything to do. You're coming with us!

Then last night at dinner, we were discussing our adventure when Papa says:
Papa: Why don't you go to Frisco? (note: Frisco=San Francisco, where my uncle, Jeff, lives)
Grammy: We're going south!
Papa: Don't you want to go to Frisco? Jeff says he has a lot of free plane miles.
Grammy: I know he said that.
Julie: Where do you want to go Papa?
Papa: Well, if I go, I'd rather go to Frisco.
Julie: You're going, Papa.
Papa: Grammy, where do you want to go?
Grammy: I don't care.
Julie: I don't care either.

Later, we were discussing our plans again (it was obviously the hot conversation of the night), and Papa says:
Papa: Grammy, where do you want to go?
Grammy: Well, if I had to choose, I think I would choose San Francisco so I can see Jeff.
Papa: Well, what are we going to do in Frisco for five days?!
Grammy: We can do what every tourist does!
Papa: I just don't think we can find something to do for all of those days.
Grammy: Sure we could! We could go around town, visit the vineyards, go to see Jeff's barnhouse (my uncle is starting his own vineyard and is currently in the process of building a house on the property.) There are lots of things to do! Remember, we went on an Elderhostel there and had lots to do!
Papa: I don't know if that is going to take up all that time.
Julie: Well, Papa what would you rather do?
Papa: I think I'd rather go south.

Grammy just rolled her eyes and told me this is why they never end up going on vacations; Papa can't decide where he wants to go so they just stay home. However, this time, Papa went and called his sister who lives in Panama City, and told her we're coming, so there's no backing out now! He's stuck in a car with us for six days!

This is our current itinerary:
-Leave Tuesday and go to Memphis. There is a restaurant in Memphis that Papa likes and Grammy wants to listen to some dixie tunes.
-After Memphis, head to Kentucky because they have nice state parks.
-Then we head to Vicksburg. I really don't know what or where Vicksburg is but Grammy says they have pretty houses she wants me to see.
-Then, we head to Panama City so we can walk on the beach. Spring break in Panama City with Grammy, Papa, and a lot of drunk college students. Hmm.
-Papa wants to go to a casino somewhere, but I'm not sure where he wants to might be in Panama City or it might be in New Orleans. Either way, we're gonna win big. I'm feeling lucky.

This is going to be epic.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Candy Stash.

Papa has "secret" candy stashes all over the house. I use the word "secret" lightly because I know where they are. Grammy knows, too.

Papa's Secret Candy Stashes:
-There is a bag of bridge mix in the basement freezer by the computer. If you don't know what bridge mix is, don't worry. I had no idea what it was until I retired. Bridge mix is basically chocolate covered nuts, malt balls, raisins and caramels mixed together in a big yellow bag. Conveniently, Papa only likes the nuts and I only like the raisins and the caramels. No one likes the malt balls.
-There is a bucket of jelly beans in the pantry next to the crackers. It also has a lot of malt balls in it because when Papa and I eat our favorites from the basement freezer bridge mix, Papa pours the rejects into the jelly bean bucket.
-There is a bag of assorted candies behind the driver's seat in the Cavalier, aka the "small car" (as opposed to the Lincoln, the "big car"). These are usually the candies that you can mix and match from WalMart: a little bit of bridge mix, a few maple nut candies, and the occasional Werther's.
-When Grammy and I bake, we always freeze some of the cookies for later. These are stored in the deep freezer, next to the bag meals. The other day, we ran out of cookies upstairs, so I went down to get the extras, but the entire bucket was empty! I took it upstairs to show Grammy and she said:
Grammy: I think I know who got into those.
Papa: yelling from the other room I never eat cookies from the basement freezer!
Julie: Who does then?
Papa: Grammy does. I think you should make some new cookies tonight anyway.
Julie: Oh yeah? What kind?
Papa: The kind with the toffee in them that Grammy makes. But I want you to put more toffee in.
Grammy: They won't even cook if you put more toffee in! We already put a whole bag in them!
Papa: Oh sure they will.
Julie: Well, maybe if I use a different recipe we can put more toffee in.
Papa: No, no, no, I want them just like Grammy makes them.
Julie: Well, then you'll have to go to the store for some more ingredients.
Papa: Make me a list.

As we already know, Papa loves to go to the grocery store. This particular trip took him a long time, seeing as there were only two things on his list. Along with the buttermilk and toffee bits that we sent him to get, Papa returned with:
-A watermelon. Papa and I love watermelon.
-More yogurt. This time he brought home raspberry cheesecake flavored yogurt. The other day he had me make him a list of all the flavors of yogurt that I like. I didn't know raspberry cheesecake flavor existed, but I'm glad it does. Papa was really proud of his find and was excited for me to try it. He kept asking me if I saw the new yogurt flavor he got me. I saw it.
-Baby swiss and colby-jack cheese for grilled cheese on Wednesday. He decided that since Grammy and I are at belles on Wednesday, we're going to have tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches every Wednesday.
-A loaf of bread. Grammy and I love bread.
-Vanilla Soy Milk. Soy milk lasts a long time, but Papa doesn't believe it because regular milk doesn't last very long, so he buys me new soy milk a lot.

Maybe Papa also took the long way home from WalMart. I mean, neither way is really that long, one path is about 2 miles and the other is about 2.5 miles, but the 2.5 mile path also passes by the funeral home. And when you pass by the funeral home, you have to slow down and stop in front of it so you can read the board listing who has died and when their funerals are. And if there is a visitation going on at the time, you have to either drive by to try and figure out who is there based on the cars out front or you have to go in and sign your name to the guest book.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rural Missouri.

Reasons I love rural Missouri:
1) I seriously love the smell of burning. Burning leaves, wood, hamburgers, charcoal. You burn it, I love it. So, living in rural Missouri, everyone burns their leaves in the fall, their dry debris in the winter, and their burgers in the summer. Love it.

2) Everyone waves. When my family moved to Missouri from Colorado, I remember one of the things that fascinated us the most was that everyone waved to us when we drove past them. For a while we thought it was because we moved to a small town and everyone knew who we were: that new family that moved into the old Moreau Drive house. We were wrong. They just wave. We call it the two-finger wave, and this is how you do it:
Two-Finger wave:
1) Place hands on steering wheel in a 10 and 2 position. If you don’t know what that means, pretend the wheel is a clock and place your hands on 10:00 and 2:00.
2) When a car passes by you in the opposite direction, lift your pointer finger and middle finger of your right hand.
3) Give a little head nod. You can never go wrong with the head nod.

3) I like driving on really curvy roads. It makes me feel like I’m in the Fast and the Furious. And I won’t lie, I’m really good at driving fast around those curves. And by “fast” I mean the speed limit, but because of the centrifugal force, it feels faster. And more rebellious.

4) There are unusual animal farms. For example, on my way home after school, I pass a llama/miniature horse/cow farm. Weird? Yes. Amazing? Double yes. There is also a goat/chicken/emu farm. Every time I pass it, there are goats on top of the barn or perched on some fence. I don’t know how they do it!

5) Everyone knows everyone. And everything about them. And most of them are related somehow. It is surreal. If you’re from a small town, you know what I mean, but if you’re not, it is just like the movies. And I’m not even kidding. Go rent Runaway Bride and you’ll understand.

6) I get to drive down Historic Route 66 every day. I roll my windows down and cruise at 55 mph. Just me and the Buicks with handicap license plates. One time, my family hosted a foreign exchange student from France, and one of the “American” things he was most excited about was seeing the real Route 66. And to think, I get to cruise down an American icon everyday!

7) Snow days. What more can I say? We have a lot of them because we have a lot of small, winding gravel roads.

8) Everything shuts down for hunting season. Seriously, people will take off work and school to go sit on a stand for hours in the freezing weather. I just don’t understand how sitting silently in the cold for any length of time to only possibly see a deer to shoot is fun. To each his own.

9) There are some incredible town names around here:
-Bland: Where Papa sometimes goes to lunch by himself.
-Belle: Possibly the reason of the misspelling on our belle choir music.
-Rosebud: Home of Clancy’s and Kline’s. Also, this is probably my favorite town in the area/whole world.
-Useful: This town houses two antique shops and a cemetery. The Useful Cemetary.
-Loose Creek: You know you’re at Loose Creek when the speed limit drops from 60 mph to 50 mph. The cops know you’re there because you’re usually still going 60 mph.
-Freedom: All I know is that it is one mile off of Highway 50.
-Cuba: Home of the World’s Largest Rocking Chair, the Route 66 Rocker. Not the home of Fidel Castro.
-Bourbon: Yes, Bourbon did get its name from the whiskey. A long time ago when the railroads were first put in an Irishman opened a general store along the tracks and imported Bourbon whiskey in huge kegs that he kept on the front porch. Thus, Bourbon became the town we all know and love today.
-Bem: I get to pass through Bem every day on my way to Cuba. It’s a dream come true. In the summer, they have a church picnic where they make homemade ice cream that will bring a tear of joy to your eye. Last summer, the picnic was on my birthday and I got some homemade mint ice cream. What a perfect way to turn 23!
-Eureka: This is actually one of the “big towns” and is closer to St. Louis. Eureka is the home of Six Flags and the ski slope. Missouri does have a ski slope, though it is more of an oversized ice cube. (I’ve had more injuries on this slope than I have in Colorado.) Despite these wonderful attractions, all I can think of when someone mentions Eureka is the show Eureka’s Castle. It used to come on after The Smurfs.
-Old Woolam: This town is down Highway P, the curviest road in all of the world. Many of the curves are ninety-degree angles. Papa whistles a lot when I drive down this one.
-Owensville: There aren’t really many attractions here, but we do have a Super WalMart that is open 24 hours. We also just became the home to a bakery/meat market/liquor store. Apparently they have an amazing beer fridge. It is nestled lovingly between the bagels and pork steaks. If you don’t know what a pork steak is, that’s ok. I’m pretty sure that Missouri invented them. I had never heard of them either until I moved to Missouri and started going to random church picnics with Grammy and Papa (when you live in rural Missouri, you go to everyone’s church dinners. Even if you don’t go to that church). A pork steak consists of a slab of fatty pork that is grilled to a crisp and is usually served with plastic silverware that breaks before you can even attempt to rip the meat into bite-sized pieces. Obviously, I’m not a fan of pork steaks.

I love rural Missouri.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pull Can Tops

The inventor of the pull tops on aluminum cans lives in rural Missouri. You know, the can lids that don't require a can opener? Well, he's pretty much a local celebrity. Apparently, Papa knows a guy who is a friend of a friend of the inventor who lives in Owensville (I think they hang out at McDonald's together.) It reminds me of the guy in the movie Garden State that invented the silent velcro and built this huge mansion and didn't buy furniture so everyone just sat around on the floor and drove four-wheelers through the house. Anyway, the Can Man just finished building this huge mansion right outside Linn, MO (about 30 minutes away from us) and we pass by it every time we drive to Jefferson City and every time we drive by, Grammy tells us how one day when the gate to the house is open, she's just going to drive up and ask them if she can see their house. Papa says it's a good idea. I don't know if that is a good idea. It seems a little invasive to me, but I guess if you're a friend of a friend of a friend...
After we drive by the Can Man Mansion, Grammy always tells me that we need to think of an invention so we can make millions of dollars and do whatever we want. We haven't thought of an invention yet, but I'm sure one will come up soon.
Papa always asks me to drive when we drive to Jeff City. The road to civilization is especially curvy and I drive the speed limit (though Papa lectures me the entire drive about how I should drive 5 mph below the speed limit when it's sunny and 10 mph below the speed limit when it's dark). I can tell when Papa is nervous about my driving because he whistles. He doesn't know he whistles, but he does. That is when I say:
Julie: Papa, are you a little nervous about my driving right now?
Papa: Just a little.
Julie: You know how I know when you're nervous? You whistle.
Grammy says that he whistles when he's tired, too, so if they're driving together and Papa starts whistling, she knows it's time for her to drive. I'm glad he whistles because it totally beats the alternatives, which include (and are all performed by my mother when I'm driving):
1) The Violent Gasp: An unnecessary breath intake that causes the driver's driving ability to plummit because they assume the only reason a person would make that noise is if they are choking or in serious mortal danger.
2) The Dashboard Grasp: Usually occurs when the passenger thinks the driver isn't braking fast enough because the driver obviously doesn't see the line of cars in front of them on the road.
3) The Invisible Passenger-Side Brake Pedal: It's not there. Stop pounding your foot on the floorboard.
4) The Name-Call: Often accompianied by the Violent Gasp and occasionally the Dashboard Grasp, the passenger screams the drivers name, taking their attention from the road to the passenger, creating a potential driving disaster.

I also prefer Papa's form of alerting us to the condition he is in over the National Weather Service's form, which consists of a phone call to our house every time there is a weather warning. Maybe this wouldn't be such a big deal if the phone by my room didn't ring so loudly and if there weren't ever weather warnings at night. I guess being woken up at 5:30am is better than being gusted away in a freak wind storm.

Friday, March 6, 2009


So, for the past week or so, Grammy, Papa, and I have been a little sickly. We only use the word "sickly" when we're talking about our poor health. I'm not sure why. Anyway, I've had a cold all week (Papa says it's because I go off with my friends every weekend instead of resting. He tells me: "Weekends are for resting, so you're ready to go back to work on Monday." I guess since he found out that I actually do have friends, he doesn't think I should leave every weekend.)
One day this week, I came home and found Grammy preparing her Honey Sick Tea in bulk. She had a huge bowl of her tea mixture, some freshly squeezed lemon juice and some honey and mixed us both a mug of it right away. Magic. I was making a thank you card while we drank tea with this card scrapbooking kit my mom got me for Christmas. I'm not very good at making cards because I always just stick random things on them, hoping they will be perfect, but they seldom are. Rachel got a card scrapbooking kit, too, and every card she makes is perfect. Just like every ice cream sundae she makes. When we both still lived at home and had ice cream for after school snack, Logan and I would finish our ice cream sundaes, and Rachel would still be at the counter making designs with her chocolate syrup or individually arranging the sprinkles. She's makes everything perfect. Like Grammy. Grammy and Rachel are almost identical. While I was making my thank you card, Grammy came over and sat down and told me she was just going to watch me and my creativity. I told her I'm not very good at making cards and that if Rachel were here, she would make a beautiful masterpiece of a thank you card. Grammy said: "Well, it might be beautiful, but I bet it would take her forever. I know about making things perfect and that means I never finish anything, like with my knitting and my quilting."
Grammy thought my card was beautiful.
Grammy has had a little cold, too, so she's been Snuffing a lot. One night, I was telling Papa how I was sickly, and he told me I should use some of this special nose spray he has:
Papa: I'll go get it. It will clear you right up!
Julie: Is it better than Grammy's Snuff?
Papa: Oh yes, it's way better than Snuff.
Julie: I don't know if I believe you.
Papa: Here, you take it and stick it really far up your nostril, then you squeeze it really hard and suck it up. You have to make sure you squeeze it hard enough to feel it drip down your throat.

Ew. I hate having things up my nose. Not that I often have to shove things in my nostrils, but the thought of purposefully inhaling a liquid kind of disgusts me. But I tried it anyway because I knew Papa would make me try it eventually. I went to the bathroom and did one nostril (feeling the cold saline spray run down my throat) and then Papa came over and watched me do the second nostril. When I was done, he said: "Wait, you have to do both nostrils!" I told him I already did it and he missed it. I don't think he believed me. After I sucked saline solution up my nose, I asked Papa if I could blow my nose because it was stuffy and dripping. He told me I couldn't and I should have blown my nose before I inhaled saline.
After rehab that night, Grammy and I went to WalMart because Grammy wanted to stock up on cold medicine, too; I mean, who knows how long we'll be sick! It could be forever! We went to the pharmacy section and read every single box of cold medicine, to make sure we were getting the best ones. In the end, we bought same kinds we always get anyway. Whenever I go to WalMart with Papa, he makes me go to the pharmacy section and help him pick out some cold syrup. He tells me that the syrup works better than the pills because it tastes so bad. I tell him they are the same but he doesn't believe me.
I've been sleeping a lot this week, too. Grammy thinks it is a good thing that I sleep a lot because it means I'm recovering. Whenever I tell Papa I'm going to bed, though, he looks at his watch and says: "You're going to bed already?! You must have worked hard today!" I tell him I always work hard. Every day when I come home from work, Papa asks me if I had a good day at work and I always say yes and he says: "Well you must have a great job if you always have a great day." I do.