Simply Blake and The Dry Cleaning Nazi

Until a few months ago, we used the same dry cleaner for years . . . over ten years, actually.  It was (well, is) of the Mom & Pop variety.  “The Mom” is a seamstress.  If you need cuffs hemmed or a button replaced, simply leave it with her and she’ll take care of it.   “The Pop” is responsible for the overall operation and is the primary counter worker.  I don’t know their names, but after all those years, we certainly became familiar with each other.

Generally, it feels good to do business with folks who you feel you know.  If, as a customer, you make it to Norm status (remember Cheers?) then you’re practically considered family.  While my husband wasn’t Norm status with our dry cleaners, he was certainly on friendly terms.  When he’d walk in, The Pop would say “Hello”, my husband would hand over the ticket (if he had it) and The Pop would promptly retrieve the items.  I, on the other hand, did not enjoy such a relationship. When I entered the store, The Pop would greet me with a gruff “Telephone number”.  I would hand him the ticket, (politely) rattle off the number, and he’d retrieve the items then place them on the hanger bar.  Most of the time, he would turn without a backward glance as I collected the items and said thank you (good manners are important, whether or not they are reciprocated).  For the record, I have absolutely no idea what I ever did to inspire such cold responses from him.

About 6 months ago it all changed . . . for the worse.  Our relationship as Elaine (me) and the Soup Nazi (The Pop) was solidified(surely you remember Seinfeld).  One day this past spring, I stepped in to pick up some items that my husband had dropped off a couple of weeks prior . . . . Okay, ideally we’d have picked them up earlier.  Life happens.  And I didn’t have the ticket (it was in Hubby’s car).  But, hey, it wasn’t the first time.  Besides, they should’ve had a record of it by our telephone number, right? . . . . Per usual, I walked in and The Pop said “Telephone number”.  I rattled it off and explained that I didn’t have the ticket.  Maybe I imagined it but I swear he glared at me as he proceeded to the carousel.  I waited . . . and waited.  Oh no.  He couldn’t . . . find . . . the order.  The Pop turned to me and said rather rudely “It’s not here.  Your husband must’ve picked it up”.  I was a little taken back by his tone, but in a controlled manner said “No, that’s why I’m here.  He told me he forgot to pick it up”.  The Pop begrudgingly looked once more.  Nada.  As I grabbed my phone to double check with Hubby, The Mom said something to The Pop.  The Pop looked on another rack and, viola, there was the order.  Looking put-out, he shook his head and placed it on the hanger bar.  He shook. . . his . . . head.  Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a pretty laid back kind of gal.  But once you push that button . . . .  I couldn’t help myself.   With a sassy bob of the head I said “I knew it was here” (and in my mind, I gave him 3 snaps in a Zorro formation a la In Living Color).

After that, I all but refused to grace the door of said dry cleaner.  We plodded along with them for a couple more months.  I swallowed my pride and did a few drop offs and pick-ups. It was clear that neither The Pop nor I would forget that day.  Then, finally, Hubby agreed to try the dry cleaner across the street.

We have been quite happy with the new dry cleaner.  The guy at the counter is quite friendly . . . to both of us.  Hubby feels that they do a better job on his shirts AND they have a drive-thru, which I used just today.  As I got close, I noticed a van parked just beyond the drive-thru with the driver’s door and back hatch opened.  I stopped far enough away so I could pull around after my pick-up.  As The Guy approached to help me, a man skirted quickly between us. I realized it must be the van’s driver.  As he dashed by, he glanced up with an apologetic look and said hello.  As I replied the same, our eyes met with a flicker of mutual recognition.  Lo and behold, I was busted!  For the van’s driver was none other than The Pop!  (What in the world was he doing at “the competition’s” place?)  He didn’t miss a step and neither did I.  He went straight to his van and pulled away, and I rattled off my phone number to The Guy.  The Guy placed the items on the hook above the side door window with care and said “thanks”.  I smiled, replied “thanks” (and in my mind I winked), and happily drove away.

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The Elusive Widget Is Captured!

Thanks to Bex and Aurelmedia, the wascally widget has been captured. Now, y’all check out the side bar.  Yay!

Where There’s a Widget There’s a Way

I didn’t really look before I leapt into the world of blogging.  It just kind of happened.  One minute I’m searching tutorials to help with a group’s website renovation, the next minute I’m clicking a button to publish my first blog post.  Thanks to natural curiosity, the help of my friend Jamie (who is a blogging goddess, by the way), and a step-by-step WordPress guide, I knew the basic lay of the land . . . just enough to get started.

The other day I hit my first stumbling block.  It was a minor thing, really.  I simply wanted to copy a widget promoting the countdown to the release of AUSTENTATIOUS by Alyssa Goodnight.   See, those who post the widget into the side bar of their blog will be entered to win an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) of AUSTENTATIOUS.  I love books.  AUSTENTATIOUS sounds like it will be a great read.  I now have a blog.  It was a no-brainer . . . . or so I thought.

Apparently it does take brains, or at least a little know-how, to embed a widget into the sidebar of a WordPress blog.  My first failed attempt yielded a link which led to clues as to why I did not get the desired result.  Instead of spending much time troubleshooting, I opted to send a message to Ms. Goodnight (Alyssa, if I may).  She replied with a helpful tip.  I followed the advice (good advice) and got Fail #2.  This thing which seemed should be so minor was starting to gnaw at me.

Then, yesterday, Alyssa reached out to another blogger and me to see if we had any luck posting the widget.  I thought two things:  1) How nice of her to inquire and 2) At least I’m not the only one having difficulty.  After a little back and forth, Alyssa provided one more tip and an offer to create a static ad to use in lieu of the wicked widget.  It was great to have a backup plan but I was not ready to give up.

Thus Simply Blake became Tenacious B.  I searched WordPress Help, I Googled, I tried my hand at gigya shortcode (Shout out to Bex at Aurelmedia.  Clearly, I couldn’t figure it out either.)  I sought advice from my blogging sensei Jamie who, as luck would have it, could (and did) post that widget just fine on her blog.  The difference must be that she has her ownURL whereas mine is a WordPress URL.

Alas the answer eluded me.  I raised my hands and confessed to Alyssa that I had nearly worked myself into a tirade of Yosemite Sam proportions.  Then, bless her heart, she entered me into the contest anyway.  My sincere thanks, Alyssa.  I hope I didn’t scare you into it! 😉

So, to truly earn the contest entry and to stick it to that wascally widget, I present this ranty post as my ad for the AUSTENTATIOUS COUNTDOWN.

Gooey Peanut Butter Goodness

In addition to coffee and chocolate, I have another daily essential – peanut butter.

Actually, peanut butter was my first food love.   In my kindergarten days, I would have a Pavlovian response every time Sesame Street featured The Amazing Mumford.  With a wave of his wand and the magic words “A la peanut butter sandwiches”, I would crave Creamy Jif on white bread.  Thank goodness I could expect to find some kind of peanut butter sandwich in my Holly Hobbie lunchbox each day!  Most of the time, it would be the standard PB & J.  Occasionally, my mom would switch it up and surprise me with a peanut butter and banana sandwich.  But the absolute best was opening that lunchbox to find the piece de resistance – the Fluffernutter.

The other day my husband was browsing recipes on StumbleUpon.  Like Pinterest is my fascination, StumbleUpon is his.  To our great delight, he came across this delectable and incredibly simple recipe:  Gooey White Chocolate Fluffernutter Cake Bars.  Can you guess what happened next?  Yes!  We raced to the grocery store, got the ingredients, and made those bad boys!  Above is the photographic evidence. They are rich but the peanut butter provides just enough balance to keep them from being too sweet.  I think bite size portions (well, two bites worth) are just right.  Try ‘um and be sure to check out more great recipes at the Picky Palate blog.  You’ll find recipes there that would make Cookie Monster go gonzo . . . get it? . . . Gonzo? (a little joke, Fozzie Bear style.) 🙂

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