The real North/South divide is not politics it is Coke and it is Dr Pepper

What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?

Dr pepper


  1. In the South, everything is A Coke. As in, Would you like a Coke? Yes? What kind? We have 7 Up, Dr Pepper, Pepsi, and Sprite.
  2. Dr Pepper is better than Coke.
  3. Dr Pepper does not have a period after the “r” in “Dr”
  4. For whatever reason, it is difficult to find Dr Pepper up north

I don’t know why for #4.

I don’t know why for #3, either, but I also do not care. One character fewer to write is fine with me. Why bother with an extra period? We already know “dr” stands for “doctor.” Does a period after the “r” make it easier to understand? I think not.

But back to #4.

Why don’t they have Dr Pepper up here? To see Dr Pepper in the fridge in the hotel lounge on a business trip I had to go to Dallas! Not that I mind going to Texas. I didn’t mind at all. But seeing the Dr Pepper and the diet Dr Pepper in that fridge made me realize they don’t have it in the machine at work. At company lunches, they will offer both Coke and Pepsi but there is no Dr Pepper.

Do people up here just not know? Do they not know diet Dr Pepper tastes better – well, less bad – than diet Coke and that in the morning, when you need an additional caffeine delivery system after you have already had your coffee and need something that won’t make your teeth all nasty and your breath bad, both of which are highly undesirable under regular circumstances but even more so when you are around other people, like your co-workers, you want that clean, carbonated taste?

They had diet Dr Pepper in the machines at work but took it out because not enough people bought it.

Which is why I was so excited to see it in the lounge at the meeting in Dallas.

And then I got into the meeting room and saw the neat pyramids of soda for the meetings and saw only Pepsi products.

Dr pepper no

Which seriously what the heck?

Bad enough that there was no diet Dr Pepper – which I knew they had in the hotel because I had just seen it – but now there was also no diet Coke?

Who does that?


I wanted to say “evil people who hate me and don’t want me to stay awake and hydrated,” but that might be too strong.

So I will say, “Corporate people who invited to the meeting Major Customer headquartered in Dallas whose name rhymes with ‘Mempsi.'”

All I can say is we better get that account because I was asked to suffer greatly.



When things go wrong at Aldi

Or, when your cloth grocery bags from your college are so attractive someone wants to steal them

Aldi 1
Me: Hey! You complain that we don’t ever do anything fun but it’s Saturday night and where are we? Marido: Aldi? Me: EXACTLY!


Marido came home from Aldi, which, if you do not have in your neighborhood, I am sorry, because it is the best place for basics and for Italian and German goodies like ladyfingers and chocolate.

It’s not because they exploit people, either. It’s not like Amazon where they make their employees go through a search after they finish work – but after they clock out. If you have to wait more than a minute or two to leave after your shift is over, you should be paid for that time. Making people wait 15 minutes to go through search and not paying them for that time is – I don’t know if I want to go as far as evil – I save that word for people like Jeffrey Epstein – close to evil. People don’t work at low-wage jobs as a hobby.

Aldi is inexpensive because they cut all the frills. They don’t play music in the store, which I love for its own sake – can’t we just have some quiet in public spaces? – because they don’t want to pay royalties.

They display goods in the boxes to save unstocking fees. They have limited variety. They don’t pack the groceries for you.

And they charge you a quarter to get a shopping cart and give you the quarter back when you return the cart to the stall. This keeps carts from being left in the parking lot where someone has to collect them and probably makes it harder to steal them. (Unless you are a cart thief who is willing to lose a quarter.)

So Marido was at Aldi and he stepped away from his cart for a second and returned to find it – gone.

He was confused, as the cart was gone. Who takes a cart with someone else’s food that hasn’t even been paid for yet?

He wandered – well, “wandered” does not impart the sense of confusion and probably panic and for sure growing ire that he felt – looking for his groceries.

No luck.

He told an employee that he couldn’t find his cart. The clerk helped him look and eventually, they found all the food stacked carelessly by the blueberries.

The cart was nowhere to be found.

The clerk got another cart for Marido. He put the food in it.

But he had no bags.

So he searched the store and found a guy with a cart that contained our grocery bags.

Marido: These are mine! Where did you get these!

Guy: They’re mine!

Marido: Um. I went to Rice. [Which is a college many states away from where we live.] Did you? Because that’s where I got them. [They gave them out at homecoming a few years ago.]

Guy: They were in the cart when I got it!

Marido: Yeah, well, they’re mine.

And he snatched them out of the man’s cart.

And came home all discombobulated because that really is a clear violation of the Social Contract: We Do Not Take Each Other’s Carts Or Their Grocery Bags. And Marido is used to (I don’t know why as so much evidence is to the contrary) people playing by the rules.

I hope he can recover from this trauma. Aldi has been good to us.




Produce Honor System

When you live in a place where we figure if you steal food, you are probably really really hungry


My mom and dad are from a small town in northern Wisconsin. One set of aunt and uncle(s?) (my dad has two brothers, my mom has six siblings – they are all married and I have 26 first cousins) live in the town with stoplights, eight miles from the small town. Medford has three stoplights, I think? One of them is new this year. When we discovered two months ago, we were annoyed.

Years ago, I stayed with an aunt and uncle. They let me borrow a car. When they came home, my aunt asked where the keys were.

On the counter, I told her. Duh. Like I was going to keep them in my purse?

Why didn’t you just leave them in the car? she asked.

Umm. Because at the time, I lived in Austin and you would never leave the keys in the car in Austin?

Also, they did not give me a house key. Because why would they lock their house?

So yeah – roadside produce stands are on the honor system.

It’s like there’s been an invasion

What the heck is happening to MY ARMS?

funnel cake
Eating our bi-decade State Fair funnel cake. (Does that mean once every five years? Because that’s what I mean.)

OK you guys. WHAT IS GOING ON?

For the record, I have been working out with weights for – *does the math in her head* – 26 years.

Nope, I am not muscle bound.

Nope, I am not lean.

I am sad to report that the adage “Great abs are made not in the gym but the kitchen” is absolutely true.

I am not willing to be hungry to lose weight and that’s kinda what it comes down to in my case. Plus I just like to eat. It’s my hobby. I don’t work out almost every day because I like to exercise, I work out almost every day because I like to eat.

And maybe if I worked out five hours a day, I wouldn’t have to worry about what was happening in the kitchen, but I can tell you that even when I was riding my bike to work every day – 20 miles, round trip – plus going to the gym at lunch because I was bored and I am not paid by the hour so why would I work through lunch?, I was still not ultra lean.

My ancestors gave me a body designed to survive in famine and in winter, which I suppose will be useful if the apocalypse comes but honestly does not do much for me fashion wise now.

But then I remind myself that if my worst problem is that I get more than enough food, I have a really great life.

But now I think I am getting a worse problem?

Despite the bicep and tricep work – 26 years’ worth, I am getting Old Lady Arms.

You know what I am talking about. I have also heard them called Cafeteria Lady Arms.

I am getting the upper arms that don’t stop moving.

Maybe this is a slightly chubby person thing? Does this happen to thin women? Do their upper arms keep shaking after the intentional movement has stopped?

Is this a problem I could solve if I lost weight in my upper arm? Or would the skin stay the same size?

I feel as if my body is betraying me. I exercise. I eat a healt – ok, a moderately decent diet. I don’t smoke (yet, but once I already have face wrinkles, I will start, because it looks like fun and the only thing keeping me from doing it now is vanity), I don’t drink (not for moral reasons but because I think beer and wine taste awful and for the calories, I would rather have butter), and I now, unlike my misspent youth, stay out of the sun.

Yet I occasionally catch a surprise glimpse of my neck. Or an in-focus view of my eyes. And now the upper arms. And I wonder when it all happened and if all my sisters who have gone before me were as surprised by their new selves as I am.



My cats don’t know they’re going to die

Contemplating my own mortality at 10:11 p.m. on a Thursday when I should be sleeping and will surely regret it tomorrow but I can’t sleep anyhow so whatever

cottage 3

I find myself drifting into melancholy lately. Part of it is probably because everything is all verklumpt at work – new CEO, new VPs, new boss. Most of what I loved about my job was the people I worked with, especially my boss but he is not my boss anymore.

I need to find a new job but I don’t want to look for a new job because it’s hard and I don’t feel like doing anything hard. I thought I was done with hard.

(OK you may laugh at that because how dumb is that to think you ever get to a point in your life where you don’t have to do hard things?)

Everything is changing.

Have I mentioned I hate change?

Except I want to escape my life now. Which would be change. But – it would be change I choose, right? And that makes all the difference.

I think the other part of it is that for me, summer is over.

We were robbed of a decent May and June and then early July was hectic. We had a chance to visit the Museum of the American Military Family, which is the very first time in my life I have ever seen my life represented in some way outside of actually living my life. (Except for Major Dad, of course.)

The lives of military brats don’t show up in popular culture. This museum is just a small collection in what used to be someone’s house but there are archives dating back 100 years – diaries military brats and spouses wrote about their lives and artifacts that I recognized – beer steins from Germany – and many I didn’t.


The woman who runs the museum stepped out for a second and left Marido and me alone. I burst into tears. I still don’t know why.


I, too, shined my father’s shoes.

We went on vacation in mid July and – now we’re done.

There is nothing to look forward to.

Even vacation didn’t have all that we wanted. That first photo of the water? It’s of the same dock as the header photo for this blog. But the front half of the dock has been washed away. Lake Superior doesn’t care about what people build.

We had our vacation, which, even without half of the dock, was lovely, but it’s over. And now there is nothing ahead of us but winter and death.

Honestly. That’s what it looks like from here. Winter. Cold. Then death.

cottage 2


Smashing the patriarchy, one barricade at a time

When you can’t tear down that wall, you go around it (figuratively, not literally)


Can we all agree that the greatest tragedy possible is when a man has to wait to use a public restroom?

Of course it is! What? A LINE FOR THE MEN’S ROOM? What kind of monster would ever think this was a good thing? And if it ever did happen, we would want men to be comfortable while they waited, right? Hence the chairs outside of the men’s room at this theater. No chairs outside the ladies, though. We are made of stronger stuff and don’t need the be comfortable while we wait.

men's room

Hahahahaha. I joke.

It’s not a tragedy if a man has to wait for a public restroom. I mean, in theory, it’s not a tragedy. We don’t know what it looks like when men wait because it never happens.

Unless we take over.

Which is what a few other women and I did at the airport in Albuquerque recently.

The ladies was closed for cleaning. The two family restrooms were in use.

There was a certain degree of urgency: the need to pee plus the need to catch a plane.

And the ladies was blocked.

So I did what any rational person would do.

I asked the man who came out of the men’s room if it was empty. When he said it was, I told the other women waiting that I would stand guard if they wanted to go in if they would do the same for me.

In the spirit of solidarity, they agreed. And our missions were accomplished.

Marido was stunned when I told him. “You BLOCKED the men’s room?” he asked.

“I blocked it from MEN,” I said. “It was being used.”

What else was I supposed to do? I needed to go.

Are we women really supposed to wait to pee and men are never supposed to wait? It’s time. We all wait or none of us wait. Potty parity.

They might not have rhubarb, but they have fried pickles

Also, it was warm enough that I actually wanted ice in my water, which has not happened in like thirteen years

A glass with condensation on the outside. I have not seen that in so long.

I had to go to Charleston for work, which, all things considered, is not the worst thing, although leaving Wisconsin in June seems like a bad idea. I wish I could have gone to Charleston in say, February, when winter here has gone on so long that a person might start to google, “Is it a crime to strangle people just for breathing too loudly in the dark cold that will not end and why do I even care about living when there is nothing on the horizon but ice and despair?”

But anyway. I had to go to Charleston with a bunch of co-workers who are from up here, which means they did not know what pimento cheese was and they did not know what fried dill pickles were, so I took the liberty of suggesting that we order both of them.

They thought they were OK but apparently not great which was fine with me because I ate most of it after I had given everyone a completely fair chance.

And then I got to have shrimp and grits which were delicious of course. It was a ton of food, as you can see, so I brought some home, even though I had forgotten to take a Tupperware with me –


what? you don’t take your own containers to restaurants?

I try to remember to bring a Tupperware with me when we go out to eat because restaurants give you way too much food and even though I would be delighted to eat it all in one sitting, it would not be wise.

Marido and I went to the chile cookoff in Milwaukee a few years ago. I calculated that we would be getting a total of 48 ounces of chile samples, which is a lot of food. (That’s three pounds of chile, in case you don’t remember any of this stuff. And for my international readers who use a logical measuring system, that’s about 1.4 kilos. No matter how you measure it, that’s a lot of food.)

I took several small Tupperware containers with me. I was worried people would laugh at me, but I was even more worried about wasting food or overeating.

I should not have worried.

I should have known.

As I scooped chile samples into the containers, people around me said, “What a great idea! I wish I had brought containers!”

I was with My People.

So I brought leftover shrimp and grits home and got two more meals out of it and it was delicious.

And my co-workers did not know what this was and asked if it was fingers.