Archive | May 2012

Coffee, clams and other fun thoughts

I came across two synonyms for “party” today, both of which are much more fun to say. The first is “kaffeeklatsch,” which means “an informal gathering for coffee and conversation.” It’s German, but the meaning sounds like something you’d do in Britain or on a veranda somewhere in Austria.

The second is “clambake.” I’ve heard it before, but, thinking it’s self-explanatory, never looked it up. Til today. According to Merriam-Webster, a clambake is “an outdoor party, especially a seashore outing where food is usually cooked on heated rocks covered by seaweed.” I was sold at “seashore outing.” And also surprised that clams need not be involved. I think if some kind of bake was named after me, I’d want to be included.

There’s also a nail polish called “clambake” by Essie.


At 65

Tameka and I took a short walk on our break today and went by the Billy Graham Library. I saw an older couple sitting out front and assume they are retired. It was the way they sat on a bench out front, the woman quietly examining the pink azaleas and the man slowly pulling a piece of paper out of his shirt pocket, his cap shielding the sun from his eyes. I bet they didn’t have a care in the world at that moment. They looked content with no particular place to be. So what if the library closed at 5 when most people get off work? They could come early and still miss traffic.

The man reminded me of my grandfather, minus the glasses. He seemed like the farmer type with few words and lots of wisecracks. I imagined him wearing starched blue jeans and crisp button downs on Sundays with a new pack of Spearmint Trident in his left shirt pocket for church — after the hymns. I bet he orders gravy and biscuits from Hardee’s. He and Papaw could be friends.

The woman also made me smile with her matching pants and sweater. Retired women always have those pants that aren’t jeans but aren’t trousers, either. The kind with the elastic waistband because I guess they figure, “So what? I’m retired now. I’ll eat whatever I want and visit the library during work hours just because I can.” They wear flower prints, and if they’re like Mamaw, always carry a purse-sized tube of Curél. They smile as if to say, “I’m ready to dish out wise advice whenever you’re ready.”

I hope when I’m 65, I can enjoy a warm afternoon on a bench without being in a hurry. I hope I don’t freak out when I find gray hairs, and I hope I’m not offended when someone gives me the senior citizen’s discount, although I don’t drink coffee, so maybe they’ll let me use it for ice cream. I hope I embrace my laugh lines and still wear red dresses. I hope I’m in the Red Hat Society. I hope people hold doors open for me so I can say things like, “Thank you, young man,” and I hope Pete still calls me his bride. Most of all, I hope I have kids who come over and do the dishes for me because I’m sure I’ll be sick of it by then.

(By the way, I can’t figure out how to get my picture captions clearer and it’s maddening, so I stopped trying. Maybe by 65 things like that won’t frustrate me.)

My grandparents listening to my iPod at Thanksgiving one year.

Papaw playing Pictionary one Christmas.

Mamaw on the cruise ship in Seattle before we set off for Alaska.

Dear Mom

Since about half of my friends just had or will soon have a baby, I’m dedicating the video below to all the new moms out there and of course to my own mom for the past 26 years of love, devotion, sacrifice, goofy jokes, embarrassing me on purpose and always reading my blog. Thanks for cheering me on during soccer games when I was the worst player on the team, for buying my school pictures when I had bad hair and helping me find the right Easter dress, prom dress and wedding dress.

Love you, Mom!

(Click here for the video, created by one of my co-workers.)


The Thai and I … and Jell-O

Back in March, a co-worker and I went to North Greenville University (which is actually in Tigerville, S.C.), to host a booth for our ministry. The first day, we tried a gas station-turned-restaurant called The Thai and I across the street. We were that hungry.

First, let me advise that no matter how hungry you are, you should NOT eat Thai in Tigerville, S.C., which, according to the 2010 census, has a whopping population of 1,312 Tigervillians. None of whom, I’m guessing, are Thai.

Most of the menu was devoted to things like hamburgers, chicken fingers and tater tots. People stared as we walked in, probably thinking, “Hm, not the regulars,” and our waitress took her sweet time coming over before bending down at our table wearing short shorts and a tie-dyed shirt with a hole in it.

Nothing about The Thai and I said “Thai,” except a sad attempt at some leafy decorations, a bottle of soy sauce next to the ketchup and a small Thai section on the menu. A few guys sat in swivel bar stools at the front counter while we ordered, chatting up the young cook who wore a camo hat and talked with a toothpick in his mouth. (Not the wooden kind of toothpick; the kind with a half-inch piece of floss on the rounded end.) A couple of our fellow customers talked about raising squirrels, and one guy had a shirt that said “Eat Sleep Hunt.” He used words like “bigun” and “right down’ere.” I swear it was like a scene out of a movie where two misguided out-of-towners take a wrong turn and end up in the backwoods of some no-name town where people eat roadkill and everyone is related. … OK, maybe not that bad, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s the case. (By the way, I found the picture online because I didn’t want to take one myself, afraid that someone would see me and think I was mocking the restaurant … which I just did.)

I will say that the Thai food wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, so semi-props to them. … And just so I don’t sound like a complete uppity city girl, no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with camo and “bigun,” but when you try to mesh that with spicy noodles, I’m a bit hesitant.

Oh, and here’s another photo I found while searching Google Images for “The Thai and I”:

I bet this guy had no idea he’d end up on my blog one day. Yes, I make dreams come true. …

Now it’s time to share a second restaurant story, which also took place in South Carolina. This happened last month when Sara and I took a road trip to Florida to visit our other friend, Sarah (with an h).

On the way down, Sara saw a sign for Lizard’s Thicket and said we must stop. I obliged and we moseyed on in and sat down to a menu that said “Country Cookin’ Makes Ya Good Lookin'” on the front.

“OK, this looks good,” I thought. “Not the way I want to eat every day, but everyone can use fried chicken and okra once in a while, right?”

But then I turned to the “vegetables” section, which listed items like macaroni and cheese, applesauce and Jell-O. The menu even said “Macaroni and cheese IS a vegetable!”

Is it? When did that happen? I leave school and all of a sudden Pluto is no longer a planet and macaroni and cheese is a vegetable? What are we teaching people these days?!

Sara, of course, was appalled that I, as a Southerner, would never put mac and cheese in the same category as green beans, creamed corn and mashed potatoes. … You know, actual vegetables.

“Saying ‘vegetables’ is the same as saying ‘sides’!” she demanded.

“Definitely not,” I said. “If they want to list sides, why don’t they just say ‘sides’?”

“Because this is the South!” she said. “You’ve never seen that before? What’s wrong with you?”

We later got into a fuss about which is better: cornbread or rolls. I say rolls; Sara unequivocally says cornbread.

Order in the court

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you know I enjoy the light-hearted side of life. The non-controversial and the random ponderings. But it’s time to get serious for a moment and share a recent frustration. It started with the picture below, posted on a friend’s Facebook page last week.

This post isn’t going to spend a lot of time rehashing homosexuality or gay marriage debates. The first point I want to make, after reading comments in response to this picture, is that the Bible is often misunderstood. The second point, on a different but related topic, is about the lack of civility demonstrated on both sides of the N.C. Amendment 1 controversy.

First, the picture. I admit it’s a little humorous, but it misses the mark. It’s another example of people taking the Bible out of context or trying to mesh the old covenant with the new. Comments I read in response showed that others who saw it were misinformed not only about the laws found in Leviticus, but also about God’s intent for marriage.

Yes, many laws in Leviticus (the old covenant) were harsh. They were in place as a way to follow God’s commands. People had a choice to obey, to do what was best for themselves, to protect their health and show reverence to God. There were practical reasons for those laws, which are no longer in effect because we live in a different time and because Christ’s death on the cross entered us into a new covenant. It redeemed us.

God’s intent for marriage as a man and a woman, however, is found throughout the Bible. (This is where people usually point to the custom of polygamy back in Bible times. If you look closely, though, men who had more than one wife were usually punished in one form or another. It might have been the custom, but it wasn’t the intent.)

I imagine some people reading this don’t agree with me, and that’s fine. We’re not all going to agree. In fact, if you don’t agree, I want to personally thank you for reading this far! I try to respect other people’s views, and I appreciate when others respect mine.

That brings me to Point 2.

With all the hubbub surrounding Amendment 1, passed yesterday, I’ve witnessed an awful lot of finger-pointing and name-calling the past month or so. I’ve read more comments about “hate speech,” “intolerance” and “bigotry” than I care to remember. And the verbal harassment is on both sides — people who support it and people who don’t.

I find myself avoiding arguments sometimes, not because I can’t back up my views, but because it can be exhausting to go back and forth with people when they don’t listen to a word you say (or write) and sling words around like the ones I mentioned above. Things like: “I can’t stand people like you, intolerant of any view except yours. You bigot!”

Really? What do you call that? It seems that these debates resort to name-calling when one side or the other has nothing intelligent left to say.

One Amendment argument I take no issue with is this: “God loves gay people, too!”

You’re right, He does! And so do I! Glad we can agree on something. Now let’s talk about the issue.

I welcome conversations about things like this, but it’s when it turns into mocking ridicule that I feel like giving up. I mentioned before that the pro-Amendment side hasn’t fared well, either. People saying they back it because they are Christian, then saying non-Christian things to those who oppose it. I have to say that the spats are typically to a lesser degree than what I’ve seen from the other side, but nevertheless. … Can we not just be civil and stop slamming everyone? Can’t we be rational, level-headed adults with different opinions?

I think I’m too passive sometimes. I feel like I should say something, but I also feel like it will end in a frustrated argument and me looking heavenward, saying, “Beam me up!”

There are those I’ve seen on both sides of the issue who do actually present valid arguments and maintain a kind spirit, but it seems like they are the ones who don’t usually speak up. …

*Sigh* I’ll try to make my next post less “heavy.”

With a T

My experience at the polls today is proof that we should show our IDs when we vote. Here’s how it went down:

Poll lady: “Name?”

Me: “Tiffany Jothen.”

PL: “Can you spell the last name?”

Me: “J-O-T-H-E-N.”

PL: “…Can you spell it again?”

Me: “J-O-T-H-E-N.”

PL: (After a long pause and looking at her computer screen) “Something’s not right. J-O-C…”

Me: “No, it’s T. T as in Tom.”

PL: “J-O … ?”

Me: “T.”

PL: “C?”

Me: “No, T. T. T as in Tom or Tiffany.”

PL: “Spell that again.”

Me: (Eyeing the paper on her table and wondering where her pen is) “J … O … T … H … E … N. … Jothen.”

PL: “J-O-T-H-E-N.”

Me: “Yes.”

Seven hours later … or at least five minutes, I walked out with a voting sticker.

Red, pink, salmon and so on

I need to get more adventurous with my nail polish colors. When I told Sara that, she said something like, “Yeah, they’re all that dusty pink color.”

It’s true. She noticed last time she browsed my current lineup.

(By the way, I’m terrible at photographing nail polish in the bathroom, but I was aiming for a true-to-life backdrop.)

I think the craziest I ever got was painting every other fingernail green and the ones in between red for Christmas. Then I added a coat of glitter which took me about 3 hours to get off after the holidays. I hate glitter.

I also painted “TIFFO” — one letter per fingernail — on each hand in black nail polish in high school. That’s the kind of thing that makes me think, “Why did my mother let me do that?” (I feel the same way about parting my bangs down the middle as a kid, but she swears I wouldn’t have it any other way.)

I did branch out and get a dark brown color last fall, but that’s where the creativity ends. And even when I was picking it out, Emily told me it was boring. She went for everything I didn’t like: neon blue, sparkly gold and bright purple. (She’s also 9, so I didn’t feel bad not taking her advice.) Still, having the same basic color in multiple shades makes me feel old, so my goal next time is to be a little daring. I did get a flower painted on my big toes last time I got a pedicure, but I feel weird posting pictures of my toes, so you don’t get to see it.