Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Great Way to End the Year!

I've had many good trips and fun times in 2012.

Some of them I blogged about, some of them I never got around to blogging about.

About two weeks before Christmas my sister and I took a drive to Santa Clarita to get some Christmas shopping done. Santa Clarita is about two hours south of Bakersfield. When we got there we happened to notice on the way out of town that there was a huge Goodwill Store right there on Lyons Avenue and we both said, "Look, Goodwill! We need to bring mom!"

My mom loves thrift stores and I've learned to love them as well through her. My sister Lisa...not so much. So today, we had nothing to do other than the normal grocery shopping, vacuuming, mopping, dusting, laundry, you know...all the normal stuff that we do on the weekends to get ready for the next we took mom to Santa Clarita instead.

That in itself is not such a big deal, the big deal was driving the Grapevine. The Grapevine is notorious for having bad weather during the winter months and earlier in the week the California Highway Patrol had to escort traffic through the mountainous area.

When we left it was a bit overcast here in Bakersfield, but we convinced my mom that the weather wouldn't be bad and that once we got over the mountain the sun would be shining. I guess maybe we should have checked The Weather Channel before we left.

We hit snow! Not bad snow, but snow none the less! I was driving and I have never driven in snow. Well I've driven in snow after it's on the ground, but not during a snow storm. Well this wasn't really a snow storm, mostly a lightly falling snow. But you can see the snow from earlier on the side of the road.

You know a weird thing that I never knew about snow? That when it falls it doesn't stick to and wet your car's windshield like rain does. I didn't even need my wipers. Now it may be that when it falls heavier that it does, but this one didn't.

Picture taken by my sister from the rear window of the car.

Needless to mom was not a happy camper! She doesn't like to go outside during the winter and doesn't even like to look outside. So to be in the backseat of a car at 5000 elevation with snow falling around her was sheer torture! We tried to tell her it wasn't that bad and this is a great adventure and something we will remember forever, but she wasn't buying it!

A couple of times I contemplated turning around and going back home because many times people get to the other side of the Grapevine and then it snows so much that the CHP closes the pass and you can't get back. You can go around but that adds hours to your trip. But I'm nothing if not stubborn. I figured the driving wasn't so bad. Everyone was going at a decent speed and I wasn't scared, so why not continue on and if we had to get a hotel room and spend the night in Santa Clarita, well then we would. This was an adventure after all!

I'm happy to say that we made it over the Grapevine. And it was sunny, a bit cold but sunny. We had a yummy lunch at Coco's and then took my mom to Goodwill. The Goodwill in Santa Clarita was a tad more expensive than our local Goodwills, but my mom still had a good time. I found an awesome cookbook, 1,000 Classic Recipes from Around the World! The sticker price on the front said $17.89 but I got it for $5.00. This book is like four inches thick and filled with pictures and super heavy! I can't wait to look at it and try some of the recipes!

I've also been collecting Jodi Picoult books, trying to get them all and I found another one today that I didn't have in my collection. Haven't read this one yet, have no idea what it's about, but I love Jodi Picoult books and can't wait to read it! And the sticker on the front says $8.43 but I got it for $1.99!

And my favorite thing I found was a silverware caddy. I had been looking for one for quite a few months now and hadn't found anything I really liked. My cousin Stella has a perfect one that I believe she got a Ikea or Pier 1 Imports, but I haven't been able to find one exactly like hers. This one is great because it has touches of green, my favorite color and the color of my kitchen curtains and it has butterflies, which I love and have several of all over my house.

I already got it all washed up and placed the silverware in it. Not sure this is going to work for me because the utensils tend to slip out of the bottom. I put some cupcake pan liners in there for now but I'm hoping to find some acrylic containers that might fit in there. See the butterflies and the ivy leaves? So cute!

So my sister, mom and I had a great day! I wish I had thought to take a photo, but let me share one of the three of us making Biscochos for Christmas this year.

From L to sister Lisa, my mom Tomasa and me!

Yep...a great way to end the year!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Meatball Sunday!

I finally broke my crock pot out of the box it came in when I bought it over three months ago and made those meatballs I told you about earlier this week. You remember, the meatballs I bought and then had to wait in traffic for hours before I could get them home to the freezer?

Well they made it home still frozen and today I tossed them into the crock pot along with a whole bottle of BBQ sauce and a jar of grape jelly (grape jelly is the secret ingredient that I didn't tell anyone about because I didn't think they would try them if they new grape jelly was in there).

I found the recipe at The County Cook and I followed it to the letter but they didn't look as pretty as hers, mine were a little bit darker. Maybe the BBQ sauce I used? Not sure.

I didn't take a photo of the ones I made and the results were mixed. Mom said they were ok, but she's not a big fan of ground beef. The son loved them! The daughter said she liked the flavor but not the texture of the meatballs. I'm kinda with the daughter, I liked the flavor but not the texture. Maybe next time I'll make my own meatballs.

I'm trying to make something new each Sunday. My kids keep asking for the same old tried and true recipes but I'm determined to benefit from the many hours each I day I spend pinning recipes from Pinterest!

Anyway, Friday was my company's holiday luncheon in Fresno which is about 2 hours north of Bakersfield. It was fun and I always love seeing my co-workers from our Fresno and San Jose offices, since we only see each other once a year but talk to each other almost every day. It was tough trying to gather everyone together for a photo. As you can see, I was camera ready but everyone else was too busy socializing!

And then when they are all ready, I decide to move my head so I'm a little out of focus...or maybe it was the wine?

But finally we get all the socialites and rabble-rousers out of the picture and get everyone to focus and pay attention and I think we came out great!
Each year they set up a luncheon for us at  Roger Rocka's Dinner Theater in Fresno. The cast there puts on an abbreviated portion of the show currently playing which this year was Beehive. It was so funny and they are such great singers. They also host a raffle where you can win prizes such as Kindles and Ipods and Ipads and bottles of wine and baskets of chocolate and stuffed animals and gift certificates. All the money goes to charity and sadly no one at my table won! But we still had a wonderful time!

Saturday my sister and I took my dad to breakfast. He had a good time and bought himself a little 1955 Chevy model car that they had for sale, so he was a happy camper to have had breakfast with his girls and a toy to play with later!
Then my sister and I took off for Valencia to do some Christmas shopping and share in a little sister-time. Sadly, I didn't get any pictures except the one of the Guacamole and Sparkling Pomegranate Margaritas we shared, but if I had gotten a picture, we would have been smiling because we had a great day.
So that was my weekend and tomorrow it's back to the salt mines. Have a good week everyone!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Peace - Do You Hear What I Hear

It's been a long day. I admit that I watched the clock big time today at work, and that last hour lasted forever! I could hardly wait until 5pm!

Then the magic hour got here and I shut down my computer, gathered up my purse, cell phone, sweater, travel coffee mug, lunch bag and keys and got into my little putt-putt and remembered I had to stop at Smart and Final and pick up a bag of frozen meatballs for a little recipe I pinned on Pinterest that I want to try.

Photo Courtesy The Country Cook
Don't those meatballs look delicious? I had them many years ago at a Christmas party. The secret is grape jelly....but shhhh, don't tell my family. If I tell them grape jelly is in there they probably won't even try it. Check out the recipe at The Country Cook (plus she has a really great blog with tons of great recipes!)

I stop and pick up my meatballs and hurry to my car because it's freezing (well freezing for Southern California, it was like 68 degrees!) I start heading home when my son texts me to remind me that I have to return some Christmas lights that are in the trunk of my car...darn it!

So I think I'm going to outsmart traffic by taking the road less travelled, unfortunately everyone in Bakersfield took the road less travelled because I could see Highway 99 to my left and it was flowing smoothly while I was stuck in a single lane of traffic all waiting for the light to turn green so they could turn left while I was the only person that wanted to turn right but couldn't because all the lefties were in the way and the only way I could have done it would have been to booney-bounce all over the shoulder and I just got new tires and had them aligned that wasn't happening!

And I'm hungry and cold and I know my meatballs are melting and the traffic keeps going slower and slower and I'm thinking, "why me?" All day I looked forward to just going home and here it's 6pm and I'm stuck in traffic and I forgot and changed purses this morning and left a bag of MandM's in my old purse so I don't even have anything to snack on and I know I'm going to starve to death and tomorrow they would find my cold, dead body and melting meatballs!!!

I'll admit, I'm cursing and debating whether I should just make a U-turn and go home and try to return the lights tomorrow. All of a sudden I hear this golden voice coming out of my radio. Here...take a listen.

Instantly I felt the stress and road rage slip away. I sang along with Bing and marvelled at what an impact this one man had made on the world with his talent and his beautiful voice and I counted myself lucky at being able to enjoy this moment and have his music touch my life.

So go listen to your favorite Christmas music and unwind, let your cares, worries, stress and most importantly road rage just slip away.

What's your favorite Christmas song?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Easy Peasy Huevos Rancheros

One would think that since I am Hispanic I would have eaten Huevos Rancheros a bazillion times in my lifetime right? But actually, I have never had them.

But first a funny story from my childhood. I grew up eating every meal with tortillas. My mom would make eggs sunny side up and I would tear off a little piece of my tortilla and scoop up the yummy yellow yolk. I would continue tearing the tortilla and scooping up the egg until it was all gone. Then I would close my little eyes and pat my little round belly and proclaim that that had been the best breakfast ever!

One time, we were on a road trip to Arizona and we stopped at a pancake house in Yuma. I was probably about 12 or 13 years of age. My mom ordered bacon and eggs for me. They brought my bacon and eggs and everyone started eating and my mom looked over at me and asked me why I wasn't eating yet. I said, "I'm waiting for the tortillas".  Mom told me there were no tortillas coming, that in restaurants they served breakfast with toast. I told her I couldn't eat eggs with toast, I didn't  know how and I wanted tortillas. Sad to say I started crying and telling my mom I didn't know how to eat eggs without tortillas! So I didn't eat my eggs and I loved eggs!

Now granted, I didn't think it was funny at the time, but I get teased about it a lot now. I did eventually learn to eat eggs with toast, which is good because I love restaurant breakfasts and they don't serve tortillas.

With Huevos Rancheros you get your tortillas! I was inspired to try this dish by a pin on Pinterest by Bev at Bev Cooks. I thought, "Wow! This looks delicious!" I read the recipe and it seemed easy as well. So I posted on facebook on Friday morning that I was going to make these tomorrow. Well my sister called my bluff this morning when she came over for coffee and said, "Ok, so where are these Huevos Rancheros you said you were going to make?"

Here's the original photo posted by Bev. Now tell me looking at this photo that you wouldn't be driven to try making them as well?

I did tweak Bev's recipe a bit. I didn't have any canned black beans, but my mom had cooked a fresh pot of Peruvian Beans or frijole peruanos so my sister refried them in a bit of oil. While she worked on making refried beans, I heated about 1/2 cup of oil in a pan and pan fried whole corn tortillas one at a time until they were just deliciously crisp, then I blotted them with paper towels. I then fried the eggs and layered the corn tortilla, spread with some of the refried beans, then a layer of shredded cheddar cheese, then the delicious fried egg. My sister chopped some cilantro and we had some salsa in the fridge...we always have homemade salsa in the fridge (I love having my mother live with me!).

Here's a photo of the Huevos Rancheros that I made.

Trust me these are delicious. If you make them you will be go on, make them! You can thank me and Bev later!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Year of the Classics and a Giveaway!

I think 2013 is going to be the “Year of the Classics”.

No…I’m not talking about classic cars, or music classics such as the Beatles or The Rolling Stones, or classics as pertains to vintage clothing.

I’m talking about books.

I think 2013 is going to be the year that I “read the Classics”!

You can get them for free online and yet I go out and buy books when I could read these? What am I thinking?

There must be a reason these books have been read by countless generations, right?

Books like…

Pride and Prejudice
Moby Dick
The Scarlett Letter
Wuthering Heights
A Tale of Two Cities
Oliver Twist
David Copperfield
Jane Eyre
Jane Austen
The Great Gatsby
Vanity Fair
Treasure Island
The War of the Worlds
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Adventures of Don Quixote
The Last of the Mohicans
Lorna Doone
Little Lord Fauntleroy
The Red Badge of Courage
Robinson Crusoe
A Christmas Carol
David Copperfield
The Brothers Karamazov
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Les Miserables
The Phantom of the Opera
Anna Karenina
War and Peace
Journey to the Center of the Earth

How many of those listed above have you read? Which would you recommend?

I have read these…
Great Expectations
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Secret Garden
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Black Beauty
Little Women
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

So I guess it’s going to be a busy year for me in 2013 because I do of course, have a stack of books by my reading chair that I have already bought that I have to get through also. Not to mention the ones I read for my online book club From Left to Write!

And speaking about the From Left to Write book club, we are hosting an awesome giveaway just in time for Christmas gift giving. Crown Publishing has put together an amazing book bundle. There's enough to keep some for yourself and gift to others.

Go to BOOK BUNDLE GIVEAWAY to see the list of books you can win and enter!

What about you? What's on your reading list for 2013?


Monday, November 26, 2012

Back to Work

This year I took a a couple of vacation days, the day before Thanksgiving and the following Monday, which is today. That made for a nice, long vacation. I had Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday off and I am so not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow.

Wednesday I got up early and my mom and I went into the city (Bakersfield) and had a nice breakfast and hit a couple of Goodwill Stores. My mom and I love thrift store shopping! I was searching for Christmas decor but didn't find anything. After Goodwill-ing, we went grocery store shopping for Thanksgiving items, all the pie, stuffing and mashed potato fixings.

Once we got home and put everything away it was time to make the pies. We used to make the crust from scratch, but since frozen pie crusts have gotten so much better we use those, but we do make the pie filling from scratch...well from a can but that's from scratch for us!

Thursday of course was Thanksgiving and we spent the morning straightening up the house, getting the extra chairs all ready and making the stuffing and turkey, then the family arrived and we had a wonderful meal and enjoyed seeing each other all together again.

We barely remembered to take pictures. Here's my mom and standing next to her my sister Lisa and then sitting is me and my brother Fred and his youngest, Melissa, the baby in our family and isn't she beautiful!

I had to get a picture with just me and Melissa of course!

Here's a picture of my godson and Melissa's big brother, little Fred.

After everyone left I spent about two hours getting everything cleaned and put away in my kitchen. Friday was a relaxing morning and then we all met in Bakersfield again to celebrate Thanksgiving with my dad. We took dad to Golden Corral because he loves buffets. I had a great time having all my family together again and I know dad really enjoyed it.

Here's the only picture I managed to get. This is my dad and on the right is my son James and on the left is my sister's son Isaac, who also is my Godson! Can you believe that my dad is 6 foot and both his grandsons are taller and bigger than he is???

Saturday I had to go and get new tires put on my car. My son James, (in the picture above) went with me. We had a great time considering we had to wait for two hours at Big O Tires! We spent the time playing Monopoly on his cell phone and I won!!! Of course he helped me to win and when I was almost losing he bankrupted and gave me all his money and property. Wasn't that nice of him?

Sunday I went on STRIKE and said I was not doing anything the whole day...and I didn't. I just watched movies on NetFlix and played on the computer and watched TV and read my book and chillaxed all day. My daughter's little puppy Chorizo was as exhausted and I was and laid on the little bed we've set up for her in my bedroom. Doesn't she look comfortable?

So today, the whole world went back to work...but not me :)

I decided to spend the day putting up the Christmas Tree and decorating the inside of the house. This year I decided not to put the Martha Stewart ribbon and garland that I love, love, love. I decided to try something different. I don't like it! Not sure if I am going to do it over or just live with it as-is for this year, but it's just too plain! I do love that where I put the tree this year it's reflected in the mirror, double the lights and that!

So tomorrow it's back to the real world and for once I'm not really looking forward to going back. I had a great Thanksgiving and a wonderful time being off. Can't wait for Christmas and tamale making and Biscocho baking!

How are your holidays shaping up? All your shopping done? To tell the truth I haven't even started, so don't feel bad if you haven't either.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

FOOD...What is it good for? Absolutely Everything!

If feeding me and my brothers and sister as we were growing up had been left strictly to my mother then we would have eaten nothing but beans and tortillas morning, noon and night!! Ok, well maybe that’s a bit exaggerated, but seriously…if not for the fact that my dad was a meat and potatoes kind of man we would have starved!

See mom is a very picky eater, always has been, even as a child. Plus she doesn’t like to cook. She CAN cook…she can make some awesome dishes! She is a wonderful cook! Her chile colorado is to die for, as are her chili beans. But she dislikes cooking with a passion, probably because she dislikes eating. . .

Did your mouth just drop open in shock? How can anyone dislike eating? Well trust me she does. She eats because she has too. Food is not a big deal to her and she finds it frustrating to think of what to cook. And when she does cook she’s so sick of the smell of the food while it was cooking that she can barely manage to eat a bite or two. And leftovers?? Forget about it! She’s not touching leftovers!

My dad on the other hand will eat your arm if you don’t move it out of his way quick enough. I can remember him coming home in the mornings and my mom would make him breakfast. She would make him three or four pancakes slathered with butter and then she would fry an egg and put it on top. Dad would then smother it with maple syrup and joyfully break open the yoke and watch all the yellowy center mix with the syrup and he would scarf it down.

Dad loves food so much and eats with such relish and abandon that small children have been known to stop in restaurants to watch him eat. The way he moves his mouth and the joy in his eyes I guess are like magic and little kids can’t help but stare at him while he eats. He’s kind of gotten used to it. We have pictures of almost all the grandchildren sitting on his lap and staring up mesmerized by their Tata as he eats.

So suffice it to say that my brothers, sister and I were not brought up to be open to many kinds of foods. We didn’t have any idea when we were kids and up to young adulthood what tuna was, or onions, or fish, or beets, cauliflower, lobster, crab, shrimp, or even salads. We knew beans, tortillas, potatoes and always some kind of beef, cooked some kind of way.  We knew that dad would buy a small tin of something called sardines but we never knew what they were because he had to go outside to eat them as mom couldn’t stomach their smell!

I remember one of my first dates ever with a boy and they brought me a salad with garbanzo beans. I asked him what those were and he said, “Garbanzo beans” and I said, “No seriously…what are these?” I refused to believe him and he had to call the waitress over and ask her what they were and she said, “Garbanzo beans”, and looked at us both like we were space aliens!

So I’m reading this book for my From Left to Write book club called The Headmasters Wager by Vincent Lam and the author goes into detail about a lot of the food that was served in the home of the headmaster who was of Chinese descent living in Vietnam. I tell you what!!! Mom would sooner have died than to have lived in that home.

The food talked about in this book! Wow! Man oh man! My mom would be overwhelmed and disgusted by most of it. But some of it sounds so intriguing to me. For instance:

Squabs stuffed with cave swallow’s nests, scallops in a cognac reduction, braised and truffled lobsters, sharks fin soup, braised goose, giant abalones with fragrant mushrooms and freshly spiced jasmine flowers, giant chilled crabs, raw fish salad, kuay teow teng soup of egg noodles containing eight meats and sea foods, poached groupers, fresh sweet prawns live and wriggling in bowls to be cooked at the side of the table as each guest preferred, either deep-fried or dunked into boiling water.

I couldn't even find photos on the whole worldwideweb of most of these dishes. Here's a few that I did find.

Shark Fin Soup

Braised Goose - Photo Courtesy of Street

Abalone with Mushrooms, I couldn't find the Jasmine Flowers. This photo courtesy of

Raw Fish Salad - Photo courtesy of Food Network

Kuey Teow Teng Soup - Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Lin

Sweet Prawns - Photo Courtesy of the YapIsland Blog

And that was all for just one party held at Tet or Vietnamese New Year! What a way to start the New Year! I guess it's not that different than the way we always started the New Year as far as strange foods because I'm sure to many of you the idea of eating Menudo would be a bit disconcerting right?

Menudo - Photo Courtesy of Victoria blog
Menudo is a traditional New Years Day breakfast food that is supposed to have medicinal purposes in that it is the cure for hangovers.

I like the description of what Menudo is that I found at the Urban Dictionary: Awesome Mexican soup made with tripe (beef stomach,) hominy, chile peppers, onions, cilantro, oregano, and a splash of lime. Some like menudo served with tortilla and "con pata"--which means with a pig's foot in there too. Menudo is traditionally eaten on Saturday mornings and has been known to cure the common hangover.

What's the strangest food you've ever had? Have you ever tried any of the foods pictured above?

Headmaster Percivial Chen is a proud Chinese born man who runs English language school during the cusp of the Vietnam War. In his refusal to accept his adopted country's turbulent times, his gamble becomes a life changer. Join From Left to Write on November 15 as we discuss the The Headmaster's Wager. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Iwanna Wednesday - Looking for a few good Pilgrims!

This weekend I put away my Halloween decor and started putting out Thanksgiving stuff, but alas...I didn't have much. I have three ceramic turkeys and one little horn of plenty or Cornucopia.

I've been looking around for a while now trying to find Pilgrims, last year they were everywhere! Lurking around every corner, at HomeGoods, Goodwill, The Dollar Store and Walmart, this year they all went AWOL!

So what Iwanna for this Iwanna Wednesday is to show you some that I found online. Some wonderful and beautiful, some crazy funny and some that are just crazy! Follow me...let's see!

This one falls in the wonderful and beautiful category! I just love it, the cute little iron arms and the little basket and lantern and the base they put it on, looks like little, tiny, baby tiles! There is nothing about this one I don't love! Oh...well maybe I don't love the price too much, $34.50 for just one Pilgrim?  That's a bit too steep for me, but if you can't live without this little gem, you can find her at Jim Shore Heartwood Creek Collectibles at Main Attractions.

And this one also is wonderful and beautiful. It's the Pilgrim couple and an Indian couple. I love the little saying on the apron of each of the women too. Iwanna this set and they are on but unfortunately they are currently unavailable *sigh*! What a surprise!

Here's a crazy funny one. These little guys are just so cute! I love their big feet and they are very patriotic with their little flag. This is Pete and Prudence Pilgrim and these are not too bad at $5.95 each...very affordable. These are from Designed to Be Sweet.

I don't know if these are crazy... crazy funny... or wonderful and beautiful. I can't quite make up my mind. I think the beaks give them that crazy vibe but the fact that they are squash make them crazy funny and the fact that they are such perfection and so unique makes them wonderful and beautiful in my eyes! And the way the little one is gazing up at the big one, can you say ahhhhh! This one is from and it runs $14.50, another affordable one but out of my budget for trinkets. If it's not from The Dollar Store or Goodwill I won't usually buy it.

This next one is what I would just call crazy, what say you? I found these on ebay at $50.99!!! These are troll dolls, remember these? These were huge in the 1970's you could find them everywhere! But to make them Pilgrims??? Crazy, crazy, crazy...but cute. To a collector I'm sure $50 for them would be nothing. I'll have to keep an eye out for these guys at Goodwill!

And do you love Nesting Dolls? Who doesn't right? Well I love these Pilgrim Nesting Dolls, so cute and so easy to store. These I found on Etsy for a mere $65.00! You can actually customize these anyway you want.

And this last one is my absolute favorite, Iwanna this one cause it's so darned cute! I know it may be a little bit macabre, the Pilgrim lovingly kissing the sweet little turkey on the head when behind his back he has the hatchet ready and waiting and you know he's getting ready to swing it. But times were tough in Pilgrim days and you had to be brave enough to kill your own turkey. I'm really glad that now we can find them easily in the refrigerated aisles of our local grocery stores (sorry to any vegetarians). This little guy was also on ebay for $13.79 and "bonus" he's a salt and pepper shaker!

But I will keep searching in the after Thanksgiving sales and throughout the year and hopefully next year I will have a whole little Pilgrim Kingdom!

Happy Iwanna Wednesday and may all your Iwanna wishes come true!


Monday, November 5, 2012

I Have Betty BoBettis Purse!

I grabbed my purse after lunch to reapply my lipstick. A habit I have gotten into as I get on in years and realize my full pouty narrow, thin lips need a lot more help than they used to. I can remember when a quick swipe with some gloss was all I needed, now I need to carefully draw a mouth back on with lip liner and then carefully fill it in with lipstick!

Anyway, I grabbed my purse and as I pull it into view from the shelf in back of my desk where I keep it, I had a feeling of Déjà vu. You all know what Déjà vu is right? And if you are from Bakersfield…NO… I don’t mean the strip club across from the Montgomery World Plaza!

“déjà vu [( day -zhah vooh )] The strange sensation that something one is now experiencing has happened before: “I knew I had never been in the house before, but as I walked up the staircase, I got a weird sense of déjà vu.” From French, meaning “already seen.”

As I looked at my purse I realized I had Betty BoBetti’s purse! You might ask “Who in the heck is Betty BoBetti?” Betty BoBetti is a fictitious name to protect the innocent and protect myself from being sued by a woman who has always been very private about her name and personal life.

Betty is who I wanted to be when I grew up. I first met Betty in 1983 when I got a job at a collection agency. I was hired as a bill collector. Well an assistant, trainee bill collector to be more precise. I had worked at the agency for about six months or so and I would often stop to listen to a woman that worked in her own corner of the building. This woman was very vocal, loud and direct. This woman was vicious!

I would hear Betty tell the debtors that they had 24 hours to come into the office with a bazillion dollars or she would refer their file to the attorney’s office and she would sue them and then she would locate assets and then she would levy on those assets and by golly, they would pay this debt! If I had a penny for every time I heard her say, “Well you aren’t a turnip and I don’t want blood, I want cash!” I would be a millionaire! (Every single debtor we spoke to always said the same tired old thing, “Well you can’t get blood from a turnip!”)

I liked this woman’s gall, cheek, audacity! And I wanted to be like her. Here was no shrinking violet, like I had been all my life up to then. Here was a woman who had no fear and knew how to get the job done! Here was the professional mentor I had been searching for!

So I gathered up my own gall and marched up to her and said, “Betty, what do I have to do to become the type of bill collector you are?” I must say I sounded sure of myself even in my legs were shaking the whole time. Betty said, “Are you serious?” I said, “Yes I am.” The next day I was transferred to her department, the Commercial Collection department and began a training routine that changed my life and helped to make me who I am today. (So if you want to blame anyone…blame Betty!)

Betty was the epitome of the quote, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” She taught me that the worst thing that can happen is that someone say no and to never take no for an answer!

I remember once when this highfalutin farmer in the area, a very influential person, came into the office for an Examination of Finances. Betty told me Mr. Farmer was in the lobby and for me to go and conduct the interview. I turned green and wanted to puke. I said, “Ummm Betty, don’t you think you should do it? You have way more experience than I do and this man is a very important man in our city and I’m just a trainee.” Betty looked at me and said, “Alicia…this man puts his pants on one leg at a time just like we do, he’s just another debtor.” I have to say I did a good job with the interview because we did find assets to seize and Betty BoBetti managed to have this man’s airplane repossessed! So before you go feeling bad about this poor man, remember…he had an AIRPLANE and yet he didn’t feel he had to pay his debts!

To get back to my moment of Déjà vu. Betty had a huge purse, almost exactly like the one that I am now carrying. And I call it a purse but really it was more like a briefcase but not as big as a carry-on bag, regardless…it was BIG. I can remember going into Betty’s office and wondering what in the world she needed such a huge purse for! What could she possibly have that would fill that? Now I know, that’s where she carried her “cojones”!

Makes you wonder what I have in my purse right?