Buns on the Table

pf-changs-atlanta-airportOver the last few years, it seems I have spent more time at the Atlanta airport that anywhere else in the country (including my home).  For at least the last year, the airport has been under going some major renovations.  The latest being a massive upgrade to the dining choices.  There are many more modern and appetizing choices now available, which is so important when you have long layovers or stranded due to “weather”.  Tonight I experienced one such “weather” event on my way to Beckley, WV where I was delayed close to 3 hours.  In the grand scheme of airport delays, 3 hours is nothing…but I digress.  Anyway, I was stuck and it was dinner-time so I decided to partake in a rather scrumptious dinner at PF Chang’s.pf-changs-airport

It has always amazed me how many tables can be stuffed into airport restaurants.  I walked in as a party of 1 and was seated almost right away at a tiny table that was sandwiched between two larger tables already occupied by diners enjoying their meals.  I had to squeeze between  my table and the one right next to me in order to sit.  As I did so, I could feel my butt graze the plates on the table next to me.  It was a good thing I was wearing black pants since there was no telling what type of sauce was now slathered on my back-side.  It was interesting that they didn’t move their plates nor did they stop eating what was in them.  I would have certainly lost my appetite.

One thing the airport restaurant designers did not consider is the space needed for img_4954luggage.  Nearly every traveler has at least one rolling suitcase to put in the overhead bins and many people have two.  So as I sit and wait for my dinner to be delivered the tables on both sides clear out and fill back up again.  This time the patrons on both sides of me have their luggage nestled between our tables to keep from tripping the servers as they walk by. Commendable on one hand, but on the other it leaves me with no exit strategy. So instead of savoring my food into oblivion, I am contemplating which set of luggage on which side of the table that I am going to stumble over when I leave, or better yet, which set of dishes and sauces will further compliment my attire as I squeeze back through.  Maybe luck with be on my side and one of the two tables will leave before I do.

img_4949My dinner choice on this night is my “go to” dish at PF Chang’s — Chang’s Spicy Chicken and Fried Rice.  I absolutely love this dish though it is way off the rail in terms of carbs and calories.  If my doctor or beachbody coach had a glance as my dinner choice tonight, I would have a lot of “splaining” to do.  The food was as expected – absolutely delicious.img_4955

The best part of any Chinese meal, is always the fortune cookie.  Years ago when I was in college, we had a tradition to add the words “in bed” to the end of any fortune cookie saying.  With that in mind, tonight my fortune was….

“You will pass a big upcoming test…’in bed’.”

Sounds like I may have a promising week after all.

Kansas Isn’t Where I Left It

Hilton HonorsMost people that know me know that I am a creature of habit, almost to the point of being somewhat obsessive about certain things.  One of those things is the hotels I stay at when I’m on the road. This is for two reasons. One being the points and rewards offered by the hotel groups and the other relates to the consistency and “perceived” cleanliness from hotel to hotel.  There is one brand that I try to stay at every week, if possible.  When not, I will choose another brand in the group.  I am in a different hotel at least weekly. Some weeks (like this week) I’m hitting three different hotels in less than five days.

There have been more than a couple of times when I get my room number confused with a different hotel on a different day. More often than not, this tends to happen at my preferred brand simply because all of the hotels are set up and decorated similarly.  When this happens I will simply go to the desk and ask the clerk to remind me of my room number and/or give me a new key. I’m sure the young lad or lass thinks I’m nuts not to be able to remember my room, but who cares.
There are certain security procedures that the clerk should follow to make sure you are getting into the right room. The most important of which is asking for a photo ID.  I never paid much attention to the necessity of this requirement, often thinking what a hassle. That is, until I asked for a key to the wrong room.
Hotel HallwayThis happened at a hotel that I had actually stayed at several times. The previous week I was there but the room number was slightly different than the room I was currently assigned to (i.e.  312 vs 321).  It was mid week and I had already been in my room on this particular evening.  After work, I came in, changed clothes, and went out to dinner.  I came back and went to what I thought was my room.  I put my key-card in the slot – nothing happened.  I tried this several times getting the same result.  I figured I had demagnetized the key with my cell phone since this seems to happen at least once a week. (Why hasn’t someone figured out how to create a card that can’t be demagnetized by a cell phone)?
Anyway, I growled under my breath  because of the pain of going back to the desk to get a new card. I mean this really is a pain in the butt not to mention the lecture I get from the clerk occasionally!!  Well, I get to the desk and wait in line for what seems like an eternity. I tell the clerk my room number and she simply hands me a key. No questions asked!!!  I know better than to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I take the key and leave. I go back up to what I thought was my room and use the key-card to enter the room.
FeetI walk in and immediately realize this was not my room. I was flabbergasted. What I saw were two pairs of feet (attached to unclothed legs) sticking out of the end of the bed. I won’t go into further details about what I saw, but the feet were quite active.
I turned around and ran, slamming the door behind me. If they didn’t hear me when i came in, I know they heard me when I left because the door slammed hard enough to shake the walls.  Considering what they were up to, I’m don’t think they cared.
I went back to the front desk laughing so hard I could hardly walk.  When I told the clerk what happened and to please check my room number, she asked how was I so sure that wasn’t my room.  To which I replied, “well, when I went out to dinner I was pretty sure I didn’t leave two pairs of feet in my bed”.
Needless to say I always give my ID when I need a key regardless AND I always lock my door in case there is another “Joyce” staying in the same hotel.  How unfortunate would that be!!!Hotel Lobby

The Art of Burning Water

TMomhere are quite a few things that must work in sync in order for a traveling mom to be successful.  One of the most important things is having a support system at home to help with the daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring thMom and Allie - The Early Yearse kids, etc.  My situation is no different. In the early years, when both my husband and I worked, my wonderful mother provided part of that support.

DSC_0915After our move to Florida my mother became very ill and my husband retired and took over these responsibilities. He never once complained. He seemed to relish his new role. It gave him the opportunity to work on his dream car and hang out with his other retired friends.

Throughout our marriage, he has often mentioned how he had once dreamed of becoming a chef.  Well, now he had the chance to become the head chef of our household.   I use the term chef very loosely as most of his meals seemed to consist of grilled sandwiches and hotdogs.  After a while, I threatened to never allow another hotdog in my house if I saw one on the table for dinner again.  Thus, the dinner experiments began.  Most of his experiments were quite tasty once you got past their appearance.

One evening I was on my way home from the office when I called to ask what he was cooking for dinner. He said he was going to “surprise” me. I should have immediately turned around and gone back to the office – anywhere but home.  How could I forget that the word “surprise” in the same sentence as dinner is never, ever, ever a good thing. It bears the same connotation as “mystery meat” did in the school cafeteria and often the same physical side effects.

Since I had not yet learned this lesson, I continued my trek home quite eager to see what he had been up to.  When I open the front door, I was instantly hit with the most pungent smell I had ever encountered.  My eyes burned and began watering. My nose, and even throat, were on fire.  They felt like I had been doused with kerosene.  This was all before I had shut the front door.  I thought maybe he made a mess in the oven and turned on the cleaning feature.DSC_0324

I heard him clanging around in the kitchen, so I knew that although the smell was horrific it wasn’t physically damaging.  I dropped everything and rushed into the kitchen to find out what in God’s name he was up to.  He was so excited, he had found the crock-pot and was making BBQ (with a side of paint thinner?).

There was no evidence in the kitchen of what he used to create this concoction so I had no alternative but to inspect the crock-pot for myself.  I was very hesitant to lift the lid not knowing if I was going to trigger some insane gas explosion all the while recalling in detail the true crime stories I’d seen where a spouse murders the other by lacing the dinner with poison. As you can see, by this point my imagination had gone way overboard.

Now if I thought the odor was bad when I walked in, I was in for a shock when I lifted the lid on the crock-pot.  The smell, the vapors were so dense, so powerful I nearly fainted.  It took at least a half hour with the lid off, all windows open and fans blowing for the odorous cloud to disperse enough to look inside the crock-pot without scalding my retinas.  When I did, I saw two “unidentified” circular “objects” bobbing and “floating” in about two gallons of a yet unknown liquid. This gave a new meaning to “UFO” (unidentified floating objects in Chuck’s case). There was no way I was going to eat this, absolutely no way!  Now what do you think I ate for dinner instead?  Yep, you guessed it a freaking hot dog!!!

Now Chuck seemed to take my refusal to eat his experiment quite well.  He ate it and survived. I chalked that up to the fact that he had likely grown immune to its side effects by being exposed to the vial odor for so long.  After dinner, we cleaned up the dishes together. We laughed about it like we do most things. I joked with him that after tonight I was afraid he wouldn’t be able to burn water properly, to which he so jovially agreed.

I didn’t pay attention to what he had done with the leftovers.  I should have taken charge of them to make sure they were safely destroyed since dangerous chemicals could be very hazardous to our environment.  I just assumed he’d get the hint. Nope — not even close!

The next night, I again called on my way home and again asked what we were having for dinner. After last night, I expected to hear pork chops, spaghetti, or something similar.  I nearly drove off the road when he matter-of-factually replied “leftovers”.  What the hell was he thinking!  I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I was not eating that crap OR another hotdog for dinner.

I stopped by the grocery and picked up a few items to make a rather quick meal along with a mask to protect my senses from any further damage. To my dismay, I got home preparing for the worst.  When I opened the front door, there were no pungent vapors, no UFO’s in the crock-pot, just a bowl of BBQ on the table with the most mouthwatering aroma I had ever experienced in my house.

IMG_1921There was no way that BBQ came from the leftovers of his nuclear experiment.  I asked and asked again.  He stood by his story.  I looked in the garbage cans, inside and out, nothing.  My daughter swore he made the BBQ from leftovers – that she watched him and even tasted it.  If she was brave enough, how could I refuse. With reluctance, I grabbed a fork and took a couple slivers hoping and praying I was not eating my last meal.  When I finally garnished the nerve to take a bite, I literally crossed the gates of Heaven. This was the most amazing, succulent  BBQ I had EVER eaten.

Now, I am not a meat eater; however on this particular night I had a second helping and even took a small serving in my lunch the following day.  As we were cleaning the kitchen that night, I reached over and kissed him on the cheek and told him that he had successfully learned the art of burning water.