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Some days, it just doesn't take much. I must be in a good mood today. I grinned at the "Vidalia onions, GA grown" today. I was further amused when it occurred to me in all my produce mystery shopping it never occurred to me to ask my produce guy where Vidalias are grown. If I get back into it, that question may top my list for a while.

If you don't know, they call them Vidalia onions because the soil in Vidalia, GA is low in sulfur and produces a very sweet onion. Plant that same onion elsewhere and it won't be the same, nor will it be a Vidalia. Kind of like all Scotch is made in Scotland.

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Just so I can be clear to the universe, because nobody here is listening....

I give NOTHING but good advice to our kids. It's not my fault that you've come to me with yet another problem that equates to "I have to eat a shit sandwich, what should I do?" In the realm of what's realistically possible, you have to eat the shit sandwich. Do it now, do it quickly, cover it in BBQ sauce, or hot sauce, or whatever you think will mask the taste and let it go down as easily as possible. If you avoid eating the shit sandwich, it's not going to get any fresher, and eventually someone is going to force it down your throat, and they're not going to offer you BBQ sauce. Just get it over with.

Are there other solutions? Sure, but none that are in any way likely. I mean, we could win the lottery, if we played, and pay to make the shit sandwich go away. In our reality, we just don't have the kind of money needed to make that happen. Could we come up with enough money? Oh, sure, if we want to stop paying for our cars, and home, and not eat for a few months, maybe then we could conjure enough money to make this go away. Had you not burned bridges, there are other people who might have even helped pay to make the shit sandwich go away. But you're 19, so you didn't listen when we advised you not to torch those bridges. You also could have eaten the shit sandwich back when it was just a small bite instead of waiting for it to become quadruple sized sandwich, but you didn't want to listen to that advice either. I'd be a supremely happy Mom if they'd stop looking at the menu and ordering shit, but I've made myself hoarse telling them that little gem.

Maybe today, you'll listen to good advice. I can dream.

Frugal myths

And before you ask, yes, I'm trying not to think about my cousin's death to focus my energy on something positive, so just let me distract myself rambling about something I'm good at.

One of the largest perpetuated frugal myths is that you should buy store brands. "Store brands are just as good, and my family can't tell the difference." Frequently, that is true. In fact, when I was in my early twenties, my then boyfriend was working at the local creamery. He informed me that if I ever wasted money on name brand milk, I was an idiot. Our creamery bottled their own brand, and was also the local Hood bottler, and did all the local store brands. The only difference, my boyfriend told me, was they put different labels on the bottles. They all came from the same batch of milk, went through the same set of machines, got loaded on the same truck and taken to market together. The only difference was the label and the price. I tried telling people who swore Hood was superior to the creamery brand, but they didn't want to hear it.

So why is this a myth. Well, I forgot to add "and the store brand is cheaper." People who not only believe but perpetuate this myth frequently admit that they don't even look at the name brand product pricing. This is the same level of brand loyal blindness practiced by the snooty people who look askance at your cart full of store brand product and think/say things like "I would NEVER use any detergent other than Tide."

Is the store brand cheaper? Sometimes. If you're looking at the regular price, always. If you're paying attention to sales and remaining brand neutral, rarely.

Don't get me wrong, if I find myself in the position of needing something, the store brand gets consideration. If I have a desperate hankering for tacos, and don't have tortillas, I'll grab the store brand if they're the cheapest most of the time (I think it was the Food Lion brand of tortillas I picked up, and they had HFCS as an ingredient. WTF? Pass).

Do your research, check unit pricing and get the product that's actually cheapest. You can get high quality product cheaper than store brand if you watch the sales, anticipate your needs and stock up a little.

I know, I KNOW, I'm always talking about stockpiling. It is the single greatest tool in my arsenal for saving money.

Words have meanings ... no, really, they do ... and nutrition info doesn't make it food, necessarily

I love my local coupon blogger, really, I do. She does the dirty work finding the good deals easier for us all, and she's running the show where we all communicate the good deals we're finding that weren't in the sale ad. She's a rock star. But ...

It's Sunday, and all the drug stores and one local grocer does their ads Sunday thru Saturday, so I always check her blog on Sunday for the new deals.

In the blurb you see, before clicking the link to the full post, there, for one local drug store, is a list of freebies. "bacon (free)"

I click the link, and read down the full post looking for the free bacon. As I'm scrolling, I think "how much you wanna bet it's ..." and there it is. Turkey bacon. That's not BACON.

She does this to me all the time. Usually it's "free butter" when she really should say "free margarine" or "free buttery spread" or "free butter-esque substance for those of you who like eating plastic" or "free oil based goo some people think is food and put on toast."

Don't get me wrong, when I was a kid I liked squeezing Parkay on my corn on the cob. It was fun. Tasted awful, and eventually I decided I preferred my food to taste good, but I enjoyed it, on some level, for a while. But I never called it butter, ever, because it's NOT BUTTER. (And because the commercials told me so, I never called it margarine either, it was Parkay. :D)

I mean, if she said "free burgers" and when you went to the full post it was free Boca burgers, everyone and their mother would complain that she SHOULD have said free veggie burgers. And if you're good, the veggie burgers are occasionally free. I've gotten them for free. I've gotten just about everything for free at some point, and it's cool.

I'm torn between my feelings of gratitude (she saves me hours every week hunting down deals) and my desire to ask her to use words correctly.

I'm not asking her to stop calling things that aren't in my opinion food food. I know people eat Poptarts, I don't understand it, but I'm not about to force my views on others because I don't much care for it when they try to force their opinions on me.

My first inclination was to call her out on it in a comment to her blog. Pretty sure that's the wrong way to go. I mean, if I'm going to come off as a self righteous ass, I should do it in an email, not publicly. Now the trick is not coming off as a self righteous ass.

On death and dying, and cancer, fuck cancer

Of the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), I seem to be pretty solidly stuck between anger and depression. April's gone, and no amount of bargaining is going to do me any good, though I do feel inclined to bargain with other people so that they don't put me through this again.

I saw my cousins, most of them for the first time in years, at April's party and the first thought that crossed my mind was "wow, we all got fat." The 25 and under crowd was *mostly* not chunky, but the over 25 crowd (10 of us, just counting me and my cousins, not counting the 'rents who've all put on a few since turning 50) could collectively have benefited from loosing a couple hundred pounds.

I feel inclined to tell everybody to get off their asses, step away from the junk food, and eat properly. I don't expect anyone to do a 30 day fresh vegetable juice fast, though I'd be thrilled if they would. I don't expect anyone to fundamentally change their food philosophy (going vegan, or becoming a meat eater in the case of my vegan cousin). While I generally have opinions on how people should live their lives, I don't try to force them down anyone's throat. I wish I had a polite, non-pushy, rational plea that they would listen to.

I just want people to eat real, whole, nutrient dense body building foods, and maybe get a little exercise.

How do I do that without sounding like I'm blaming April's lifestyle choices for her disease? I don't know what caused her disease, but I do know that her lifestyle did not help her fight it. She even shirked taking vitamin when it was suggested to her if she didn't want to eat well (her sister's pushing, not mine, I give advice when asked). I'd already found a doctor who specialized in vitamin therapy for cancer in her area, if she ever had a change of heart, but she didn't.

It was only a matter of time ... wherein I get a little political, just a little

Went to my meeting, and it is remarkable how quickly my predictions about people come true.

It surprises some people when I tell them I'm a Republican. "But you drive a hybrid. You compost and recycle. Republicans don't do that!" I have applied logic to every action in my life, in as much as I am able, and I have found these things to be positive actions FOR ME and for my family. I'm not trying to save the planet, I don't care to debate the merits, or lack thereof, of climate change, I'm doing what works for me. If that happens to be seen as living green, I really don't care and that's not why I do it.

That I look like a dirty hippie probably doesn't help most people reconcile their ideas about Republicans with what they see in front of them.

So, a few weeks back when my husband and I attended our Town Council meeting, I mused that it was only a matter of time before some of the other pro-chicken people played the politics card and asserted that Republicans were bad/evil/the problem/whatever. At some point, there was going to be some Republican bashing, period, end of story.

Today was our very first meeting to strategize, network, touch base, divide tasks, etc, to get things moving so we can push the town to change the law.

One of the women in attendance mentioned that the resistance from the council was probably because they were all Republicans. I corrected her, as our Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, and 3 of the 5 Council members are Democrats. She was later talking about "feeling out the neighbors" looking for allies and mentioned one neighbor in particular who was "obviously very Republican." After listening to her rant (she happened to be sitting next to me), I leaned over and told her that keeping backyard chickens is a topic that has nothing to do with party politics. She grinned at me, and stifled a laugh, so I told her I was a Republican. She turned white as a ghost and spent the better part of the next 10 minutes trying to talk over everyone else and back-track out of her anti-Republican comments. ("But most Republicans don't care about feeding their families healthy food.") I resisted the urge to laugh at her ignorance. It was hard, I'm in need of a good laugh.


Earlier this month, my neighbor (moved in in April, and the second question she asked me was "can I have chickens?") popped over to tell us someone would be speaking at the town council meeting about our chicken ordinance. My husband and I went, and like the bulk of those present, got up and left as soon as the 1 guy talking about chickens was done. He's got an illegal coop, didn't know it was illegal, got a citation, and was asking for the town to revisit the chicken ordinance.

A couple-4 years back, our local chicken lady tried to raise interest and petitioned the town to change the ordinance. She was unsuccessful. After the council meeting, I dropped her an email, asked if there were meetings or a yahoogroup or *something* I could get involved in to help get the chicken ordinance changed. She said "no, but we can start." SCORE!

I have a meeting this afternoon with the chicken lady, and the guy with the illegal coop. I don't know if anyone else is coming, but I don't really care. I'm going to get out of the house, grab a cuppa, and talk to adults that aren't my husband this afternoon about something I care about.

Need a distraction

I'm tired, and I'm about done. I have avoided commenting on Facebook posts eulogizing my cousin April. Enough people are "OMG I'm so sorry for your loss, you know she's with Jesus and her Dad watching out for you now and she's not in any more pain" and it's grating on my nerves. The only part of that that is in the slightest bit comforting is that she's no longer in pain. The rest are empty words spewed by people who have nothing useful to say and don't know when a reply really wasn't required. Nobody ever replies when you comment like that. You want to make us feel better? Donate to what's going to be her girls' college fund. Get an annual pap smear, and encourage others to do the same. Vaccinate your kids against HPV. Get off your ass and cook real food so that your body has a chance to fight off disease. Take a vitamin every now and again.

April preferred Sunny Delight to actual orange juice, and Kraft Mac & Cheese to baked macaroni made with real cheese. She actually told me she preferred the taste of the fake cheese powder to real cheese. I loved her dearly, but I don't get it.

Even as she sat in her recliner dying, she drank Vitamin Water and PowerAde instead of juice. I don't understand! I really don't understand! I watched her husband bring her dinner, a pork chop grilled until burnt with a side of instant mashed potatoes, because "that's what she'll eat." WTF? She'd ask us to grab her a coffee coolata from Dunks and a Boston Crème donut. I get that you cater, to a degree, to people, but she'd take two bites of that donut, and that was all she would eat until dinner. What The Fuck?

I'm not saying eating better would have cured her. I can hope and dream that it would have, but she wouldn't do it, so it doesn't matter. I can guarantee you it would have extended her life and improved the quality. What does matter is that a diet of Boston Crème donuts and instant mashed potatoes is a recipe for illness, and I will beat the next person I care about until they have to drink all their meals through a straw if I catch them doing anything resembling eating such a crappy diet, and then I'll make them drink fresh vegetable juice through that straw until they like it.

And, no, I don't really care right now if anyone takes this the wrong way, or the right way. Take offense, because I don't rightly give a shit. My favorite cousin is dead, and I'm NOT OK with it.

Drama llama much?

My sister called me today. She'd called my cousin to firm up how many hotel rooms we'd be needing. My cousin clued her in on some of my hesitation over whether or not this trip was a good idea for me.

The original plan involved my cousin and I driving up. She'd be spending the gas money with or without me, but I volunteered my new car. If I'm not really kicking in much for gas, the least I can do is set her up to use a lot less gas by driving the hybrid. It was just going to be us, and there's a "spare" bedroom, so there would be no other cost for the trip.

Except now it's turning into a free-for-all, and my sister is paying for 2 hotel rooms to house everyone.

I hate feeling like a mooch. It was one thing to offer better MPG and a little gas money to my cousin who was going anyway. It's another to find out that my sister has already liquidated her 401k to fund this extravaganza.

I did manage to talk her out of one of the hotel rooms for one of the nights. No way in hell my cousin will arrive before dawn on Saturday, she doesn't need a room Friday night. I could be there Friday night, but I can share a room with my sister, and when my cousin arrives we can vacate that room, she can crash, and we can spend the morning with my sick cousin.

I told my sister that I'd decided to let the universe decide, and it had. I hit my MIL up for child care. Her house is on the way to Ohio, and if she could take the babies for the weekend then I would go. She responded quickly and said she would. If she'd said no, I could have but did not intend to hit up my Mom for child care. Not that she's not up for it, she's just 150 miles in the wrong direction, adding another 600 miles (twice there and back) and 10 hours driving to what is already a 1200 mile trip. The detour to my MIL's is maybe 20 miles off my route.

My sister is a force of nature, let me tell you. She wasn't letting me off that phone until she'd convinced me to go. When I brought up mooching she just laughed, said I should consider it payback for the thousand and one times I'd had her covered years ago, for which she still owes me. And besides, she wants to see me badly enough that she's willing to pay for the room. I was reminded of my 20th birthday, my friends dodged me for days because they felt bad that they didn't have any money when I said I wanted to go to the fair, so I told them I was paying because I had the money and I just wanted the pleasure of their company on my birthday, even if I had to pay for everyone.

Barring any epic weirdness, it looks like I'm going.

Epic weirdness in potentia has already surfaced. Joe got a text today from Cricket. "Mom's in the hospital. She had a stroke." WHAT?!? Seriously, the amount of insane shit that has been coming at us from his ex (don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming her for having a stroke) is visibly taking its toll on Joe. He's stressing for Cricket, planning her rescue. It's sweet, and marginally insane at the same time. Any problem that prompts Joe to commit too much thought about how to fix it results in insanity.