I follow two sites of “I wish I’d thought of that” brilliance. Actually, there are more than that, but these two are specifically relevant. I screen-shoot them both daily. Most of the time I resist. But….
Coca-Cola with Coffee.
Stop wrinkling your nose and keep your “eew” to yourself.
Coke didn’t create this concoction for me. There had to be at least some sort of wide-spread weirdo-appeal factor in play. You’d best believe it wasn’t likely to have been inside pitched as a mass-marketing loss-leader.
Are you my people?
My choice: Dark Coffee
OMG. Yes! 200%. Yum.
Two things the cracked tab called to my attention.
First, the fantastic smell of coffee.
Second, audibly less fizzy release.
Sip? Yup. Sip! Mmm & Yup.
Closed my eyes trying to place the taste.
Landed in New Orleans. Ah, dark cold-brewed, chicory-cut iced coffee with a touch of simple syrup. Sigh.
This isn’t that, but I like where it takes me.
The can claims ‘powdered coffee’ made from Brazilian beans. No chicory.
High fructose corn syrup. Not simple syrup.
I decided I needed more. More than my current four cans. Well, only three and a half cans were left on Monday morning, so I took the half with me to work.
Stop judging. I like my coffee cold and my soda warm and minimally fizzy. So, a half-sipped overnight in the fridge perched it on the perfect edge.
The original IG feed that caught my eye had a cautious comment. Paraphrased, “I saw it at Sam’s and I’d like to try it, but I’m not gonna buy a case of it.” In case it wasn’t liked.
Well, I liked it. And ‘by-the-case’ sounded suitable.
I checked Costco online. Nada. Not even a hint of it.
I’m not a Sam’s club member, but a friend of mine is. Of course, I asked the favor.
To my horror, it was declared sold out at Sam’s. Sold out? Sam’s, Target, Walmart. What?
What the heck happened between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning?
Was some subliminal advertising during the big, copyrighted (don’t dare use the word) football fan show, lost on me? Of course, not.
That’d have been hilarious, though. Attention redirection from Pepsi to Coke while TheWeeknd performed on the weekend. Yes, I enjoyed that.
Yeah, off track.
I kept scrolling. Angst was replaced with anger.
People are mean. Some rat-bassbird had actually listed a 4-pack for $120.00.
Ah, that special group of people who buy stuff they don’t want and resell it at outrageous prices. Yes, it’s a cycle of retail life. Yes, folks are free to be opportunistic. I suppose I could flip and offer to assess is it as a COVID-induced attempt to supplement restricted income. But, the cruel crafties existed way before this pandemic. And assess is only one letter away from a….
Oh, no. Uh, uh. I’ll just slid my finger over to Meijer and order me up another 3 four-packs for $4.89. Mm hm, mathematically: $1.295 apiece including MI deposit. Not $20.00. Yeah, I snapped that. Inwardly, not outwardly, because that would have been bizarre. -er.
Could I justify a $10 delivery fee for just Cokes? Nah. So, I bulked up my order with a cucumber, cat food, cream cheese and some fascinatingly interesting bake or no-bake Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough with Oreo Pieces.
At that point a little bit of logic chose to lope across my front lobe. Do ya really need to do this?
Nah. X’d out my cart.
I shouldn’t be consuming the contents of any sugared, caffeinated soda on a daily basis. Not on a semi-regular basis, either. Yes, there is a zero-sugar alt version. No, I’m not planning to go there.
Here’s the close.
I’ve got three coveted cans left. An emergency stash. Or a celebratory stash. Like wine, but with the opposite not-drowsy, super-hyped effect. (Hee hee.)
I had briefly entertained the notion that it might be wise to ask the next-to-me car dude for a jump. By then, it’d already been a little over an hour. I considered it probably wouldn’t be that much longer. Besides, the slowly lowering slouchy-ness just didn’t seem that approachable.
Shortly, the tow truck rolled in. I opened my door to wave and saw him see me. Making a loop around the parking lot, the driver pulled up directly behind me. Absolutely, blocking the other guy in.
Just as the driver jumped out, the door on the car next door swung open. The pretty blues and purples caught my eye as I watched the owner exit, shoulders a little high.
“Oh, no,” I thought. “He’s gonna make a scene because now he can’t get out.”
I jumped out of my dead ride and called over the roof, all cheerful-like intending to diffuse whatever. “Hi,” I waved. “I’m the one who needs help…”
“I know,” the operator called back. “I couldn’t believe it! What are the chances that two people parked next to each other would both need a jump and both call AAA?”
Holographic car guy turned around to look at me. Astonished, I told him that I had almost asked him for a jump. He said, he’d almost asked me for one, too.
Pulling all of the necessary cables and gear behind him, he stopped at my car first. A few fumbles later I pulled the correct lever hard enough to unlatch my hood. A quick hook-up and a crank and… a flock of moshing, honking-seagulls made themselves known.
“Hmm.” There’s nothing as quietly unnerving as a mechanically inclined person looking down into your car guts muttering, “Hmm…” (I take that back. It’s much worse when a doctor does that to you.)
A little tinkering movement later I heard, “Try it, again.”
Optimistically, I did. The cymbal smashing squirrels made a half-hearted effort, their odd exuberance was dying.
He stepped away, shaking his head and toting his gathered equipment over to the azure-royal morphing carriage parked adjacently. I called my phone-a-friend-back. “You’re never gonna believe this,” I stated, filling her in on the so-far status of my latest adventure.
I got a little creative in my thinking, at that point. Was there some kind of magnetic suck coming from the holistic health for pets place? Were we near a malfunctioning transformer?
Obviously not, since pretty-car started to purr right away. Yeah, on the first try.
The first two words were never something I imagined ever saying in conjunction.
The third, well… I’ll get to that.
Here’s a not-so quick kitty update.
Blu’s back is messed up and has been since we were on our regular morning cat leash-walk and encountered an unleashed large dog this past summer. The vet had been asking if he’d had a fall. Turns out he did; from my arms, after shredding my chest. He hit the ground hard, sort of on his side, but jumped up and ran straight home. He was there was waiting at the door to be let in when I caught up. It took me forever to remember that because he seemed fine for quite a while after.
Anyway, the cat chiro is a bit of a drive and requires wrangling that selectively wily Blu cat in his carrier. Illogically, the carrier is where he likes to sleep in the daytime. Somehow, all I have to do is silently think, “It’s almost time to get going,” and he lumber-sprints. This pending trip, the little booger bolted and wedged himself under the basement stairwell.
I had the fore-thought to warn my hunched-over self, “Ok, when you get him, just don’t stand up because you’ll bonk you head.” Grabbed him, rolled him up in my ratty don’t-care-if-you-shred-this-any-more-than-it already-is-holey sweater, aannnd… stood up. Quickly, moving with significant force and speed, which resulted in stars and swearing and a lumpy bluish front forehead bump.
After being blind-folded and jostled up the stairs, he took being pushed into his bag rather mildly. He even rested quietly while I changed out of my not-to-be-seen-in-public top, but, then, began thrashing while I put my shoes on.
Shoes are another trigger. He associates them with leaving the house, now. Sir Harley is fine in the car, until it begins to move. Then, it’s 20 minutes of whiny-boy crying and me apologizing, asking for forgiveness. Explaining, I really do love him and that’s why we’re doing this, again.
I got a little turned around on the way there this time which added an extra 5 minutes travel and yakking. Luckily, we were going to be early. Arriving just on-time at our destination, all is quiet again as soon as the car’s set in park. I call-in to let them know we’re waiting.
The vet briefing is over the phone, and then someone comes out to take him in. I really dislike this COVID necessary scenario. I want to be with him and see how he reacts and ask a million immediate questions. Instead, I’m stuck in my car along, sitting sandwiched between two other pet parents.
It’s a little chilly, but I turn the car off. I’d cranked the heat on the way and wearing a ridiculous-looking but ridiculously-warm bright red, branded but free, puffer coat.
I’ve reached the necessary age of Michigan Non-Vanity, adopting the Who cares how I look? I’m not shivering! way of life I probably should have years ago. I suppose the fact that it’s 36 degrees in December, categorized as only ‘chilly,’ proves I am indeed, somewhat adaptable.
There are at least six, solid, Biblical references regarding meatballs.
“Hi, we were wondering…”
I received a significant, mid-week invitation from a dear, don’t-get-to-see-often, friend. It was one of those jump-to-it, second-chance, “you don’t want to miss this,” opportunities. The last time I rode along became a scary freeway ice-dancing event featuring sliding cars, sudden lane-swerving, and frightening brake pumping. A few near-accidents in, a committee of concerned participants made the reluctant decision to head home before reaching our destination. It was a hard call to make, because individually and as a group, we don’t take volunteering lightly. In this case, it was clear a no-show would have serious consequences, but the severity of the travel conditions could not be ignored.
That’s how a recent early Saturday morning found me munching a Clif protein bar, hanging in the far parking lot of Sam’s Club, waiting on another ride.
In mission work there are sometimes great gaps of knowledge. This one wasn’t much of a mystery. We knew where we were headed, and what we would do. Still, the informational brochure I was handed filled in a lot of unknown blanks in my perception of the project. The impressive scale of Cass Community Social Services in Detroit is something to behold. The volunteer schedule is equally as impressive.
The Saturday kitchen schedule was filled by a church confirmation class from Alpena, a church youth group from Northville, the Detroit chapter of One Brick, some Michigan State-ers on spring break, and a women’s church group from Tecumseh. It started off slowly, but at one point I counted 24 people in the kitchen.
We had arrived believing we would be making sandwiches, and left not having made a single one. The new first order of kitchen business was slicing semi-frozen flanks of meat. The first problem I encountered was a lack of latex free gloves. By default, I became the dishwasher.
A volunteer named Bobby, who has been washing dishes at Cass for 9 years, so far, demonstrated the basics. Food down this shoot; rinse, load, fill, sanitize, stack, and re-shelve. I really wanted a bit more instruction from Bobby, but he wasn’t inclined to give it. He walked away and I proceeded to process dishes, utensils, pots and pans for two hours straight. Bobby would fly by every once in a while, saying the same thing, “You’re doin’ alright!”
During one of those passes, another volunteer pointed to my cleaning stash and requested an aluminum scrubbie. When I turned for it, Bobby was in my way, so I asked him to please hand it over. He didn’t. “The scrubbie,” I reiterated, thinking perhaps he hadn’t heard my quiet voice in the ruckus. He just stood there, shaking his head at us. I tried again, carefully explaining and renaming the item, “She would like that scouring pad, please.” Finally, he cracked a semi-smile and pointed behind her. There, at the exact spot where the question had originated, in a rather obvious place, was another one.
In those two minutes, my pile had grown to overflowing the staging-space allotted to dirty items. but went back to work with a conquer-this-mountain attitude. Eventually, I was relieved of dish duty. I didn’t want to be relieved, but Miss Lonetta – head cook, kitchen orchestrator/coordinator, menu planner – insisted. She handed me two bowls with bananas, oranges, and grapes, pushed open a door and told me to go sit outside. A few minutes later, I became the fruit sharer, offering fruit and fresh-air seats to the also forced-to-take-a-break cooking crew.
The beef slicers also chopped a lot of broccoli and garlic, grated carrots and cheese, made rice, cracked dozens of eggs, and melted butter. From 9:00 AM until Noon, the principles hustled us along. It was about then that some of the volunteer shifts had ended. There were only about 6 of us left. Lonetta told me to go grab some parchment paper, and pointed in the general direction supplies. I wasn’t exactly sure where to look, but eventually I spied, grabbed, and delivered.
Then she wanted to know why I wasn’t making meatballs, with the few remain-ers who were also running out of time. I explained about the latex, and she gleefully cried. “Grab an apron and suit up!” One of the volunteer groups had shown up with a box of latex-free gloves. On my first grab, it was interesting to discover my right hand was reluctant to roll anything. It was sorely sore from squeezing the hand-held faucet. Still, I did my best with the sticky stuff. Out of 500 meatballs needed, jumping in at the last minute, I probably rolled somewhere around 50.
During the course of the morning and early afternoon, Lynetta changed her meal plan three times while we were prepping. Due to a lack of peppers, Pepper Steak turned into Steak ala Cass, which is actually pepper steak minus peppers, plus onions and mushrooms. Ten trays of garlic bread were prepped for the oven. For the most part, those who come for Cass meals, don’t eat vegetables if they’re presented as a side. Miss Lonetta devised a way to sneak them in. Meatballs were beefed up with carrots, broccoli, and onion, and stretched with crumbs, eggs and cheese. At the last minute, we learned a vegetarian entry would also be needed. We reviewed ingredients available, put our thinking caps on, and came up with a very improvised veggie stir-fry.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: each person’s mission experience will differ. I can’t say this is an accurate reflection for anyone else but me, but, the 30-second do-this dishwashing brief, the here’s-two-bowls-go-sit-outside directive, and the frantic search for parchment were unnerving in a successful, hyped-up sort of way. There is something to be said for being available and able to fumble around, change directions, and do whatever has to be done. It brings a little self-pride, a little coping confirmation, and an absolutely miniscule idea of what may be expected next time.
My unofficial three-part summary of Cass Kitchen philosophy:
Philippians 2:4: Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens.
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Out-do one another in showing honor.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.