Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tuesday, November 8, 2005


Some of my very best friends in the world recently adopted a baby girl. Isabella Hope was born October 31 and is now part of the fabulous Miller family in Atlanta. I'm so excited for them that I can't resist posting some pictures of the bigger Miller family.

TheNewMillerFamily Linnea & Isabella

Baby sleeping Kids & Mom

Madison drawing

Monday, October 31, 2005

Negotiate the green beans

My brother-in-law Dick shared the following story in an e-mail update of his:

Jennifer had cooked a wonderful spaghetti supper but was thoughtless enough to make the fatal mistake of including green beans. Zack and I went to war. My last remark was to turn to the clock and say, "Zack, it is 6:15. At 6:20 I am going to give you one spanking for every bean that is left on your plate." Luke, ever the merciful brother, immediately bounced over to the clock and began watching the seconds tick by announcing 6:20 with something that suspiciously looked like glee.

Nine beans remained and so the negotiations began. It was the usual litany from my about-to-be-disciplined sons, "Your hand or the spoon? Pants up or pants down? Hard, Medium, or Soft? Can you have grace and give me a discount?" Thinking that nine smacks of the board of education to the seat of discipline would be a little excessive, Zack was able to negotiate me down to five. Then he began to cry before I spanked him, and so I asked, "Zack, why are you crying? I have not spanked you yet."

With a voice cute as a seraph and the eyes of a little lamb, he looked up at me and said, "I don't want to die!"

Poor little fellow. He thought that five spankings would be the end of him.

Learn to spell

So, Starbucks does a great job training its baristas...except in one area, spelling names. We have what's called "The Name Game." When you order a drink in the store, we ask you for your first name so that your drink doesn't go to another customer.

Well, newer barista Joe is catching on really well in many areas of being a barista but he falls short in "The Name Game," basically because he has a hard time spelling names.

My favorite two misspellings from last night were Rachel spelled "Rachle" and Wendy spelled "Windy."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I've Seen It All

About a week or two ago, as I'm working the drive-thru, I hear the "ding" in my headset, telling me that someone has pulled up to the speaker. "Good morning. Thank you for choosing Starbucks in Hermitage. This is Jackie; how may I help you?" The older gentleman in his pick-up truck orders his coffee drink, I give him his total and he pulls around. Everything seems normal enough.

As he pulls around, the "ding" goes on and off again, which makes me think he's pulling a small trailer of some sort through the drive-thru. And even that's semi-normal enough.

When I walk back to the window with his coffee, I see that his pick-up is about six or seven feet from the window and he's getting out of his truck and walking over to pay and pick up his coffee. Glancing to the right, I see why he's pulled that far from the window. He was towing a 30-foot sailboat through the drive-thru!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Take Two: Stalking the Poor Cow

OK, here's the picture to go with the Chik-Fil-A story posted earlier.

Chik-fil-a cow

Refresher: I met the Allisons at Chik-Fil-A after getting off work. The quote of the night came from Aaron. Pointing to Luke, he said to the store manager who asked if they were enjoying Kids' Night: "That's my little guy harassing the cow over there."

Friday, September 30, 2005

We got some catchin' up to do...

So many stories, so little time to post!

Heard by me on Wednesday A.M. in the Hermitage Starbucks Drive-thru:

A lady who can only be described as more than 89 percent redneck-country says (imagine a strong Southern/country accent), "I’d like a large mocha frappuccino with three extra shots of coffee and extra chocolate...and can you make sure that’s double-wrapped?” (I've interpreted "double-wrapped" to mean "double-cupped"; keeps the frappuccino from sweatin' all over your car.) As I’m sorting through her order, getting it into the expeditor for the bar folk, barista Dale is in the backroom with his headset on. He hits his “buddy” button on the headset and just starts laughing in my ear. Then he says in his best Southern accent, “Did you get that double-wrapped?” Which makes me want to laugh outloud but I can’t because I’m still repeating this order back to her. Oh, bless my soul...Southerners and Starbucks...what a combination!

A non-Starbucks story for once: I'm up in Chicago this weekend, watching my nephews while my sister and brother-in-law travel for their missions work. My sister met me at the airport this morning...she unloaded her bags to catch a plane and I loaded my bags to drive back to her house. When I got here, I went over to the neighbors to pick up Zack, who didn't want to ride along with Mom to the airport. (Luke was at school already; Zack has PM Kindergarten). Well, I went over to the neighbors and she proceeded to hand me an envelope that one of the boys had left in their mailbox the day before. The envelope contained $145 in cash. !!! Yes, $145 in cash. Seems he had pulled from his mom's stash and decided to be a generous giver to the neighbor kids. The note written on the back flap of the envelope reads: "der nowu and josiu her is suthing for you" (which interpreted says, "Dear Noah and Joshua, here is something for you." That's something alright. I told Jennifer the story on the phone this afternoon and she just said, "Oh my." We'll let the culprit remain nameless, although only one would be able to write that message on the envelope. Not sure how well he's going to negotiate out of this one.

Because I'm the aunt, I can spoil the nephews. So after dinner we went to Dairy Queen. The boys got chocolate dipped cones and I had a small Blizzard. As they were finishing up, Luke says, "I'm getting full." Zack follows up with, "I'm getting full on slobber."

Lastly, pick up a copy of the October issue of CCM Magazine, available at Borders, Barnes and Noble or most any Christian bookstore. The worship music supplement I edited and mostly wrote appears in this new issue. It's called "Worship Now!" Catchy, eh?

'Til next time...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hysterical Starbucks Story

As I was making mochas and such this morning, fellow barista Dale asked fellow barista Travis if he had told me his story from the day before. He had not. Here it is...

Picture barista Brittany making coffee drinks during the busy morning shift. Barista Travis, wanting to help as best he can, comes up to Brittany and asks, "Do you need anything milked?" ..... She could only give him a quizzical look as his simple question took on a double meaning. Poor Travis just wanted to help finish drinks by filling cups with hot milk.

I'll be laughing about this one for some time....

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Starbucks Drive-thru

I heard a story last night at a friend's birthday party...

Barista Thad was working the drive-thru at the Starbucks down in Cool Springs (Franklin, TN), a consistently busy store and drive-thru. He had already been having a stressful time with some cars coming through when a lady pulled up to the window and said to him, "Hurry up!" The tone and words must have pushed him over the edge, as he tilted his head, smiled and slowly said, "OK!" From there, he wandered to the register to cash out and meandered over to the bar to get her drink, before strolling back to the window with it.

It might not be Starbucks' "Legendary Service," but sometimes it keeps a barista from throwing the drink out the window at rude customers.

Note to Starbucks customers: It's oftentimes faster to go inside the store than to go through drive-thru.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Stalking the Chik-Fil-A Cow

So, Monday night at Chik-Fil-A is Kids' Night. I met the Allisons there after getting off work just two doors down. Did you know that Abbey Allison has been stalking the Chik-Fil-A cow (costumed employee) since she was 2? She has a weakness for the thing.

The quote of the night came from Aaron. Pointing to Luke, he said to the store manager who asked if they were enjoying Kids' Night: "That's my little guy harassing the cow over there."

Abbey at one of her first meetings with the Chik-Fil-A cow!

Thanks for the picture, Beth!

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

DuneFest '05...Some more good pictures

The Nashville Girls
The Nashville Girls

Stuck Jeep
The Jeep that didn't get away...

Jeannie preparing to ride with Crazy Uncle Bruce

Crazy Uncle Bruce
And here's the Crazy Uncle ready to ride...

Zack and his smore
Zack getting some help with his s'more

Dad showing off
Dad giving a tour of The General, the Willy's Jeep he built (he always has admirers)

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

DuneFest ’05: If you missed it, we're sorry...look at some photos.

DuneFest – noun: A gathering of friends and family at the Chapman’s compound near Silver Lake, Mich., for a weekend of off-roading in Jeeps, sand rails, dune buggies, or anything that the Chapmans can add extra power to or just keep running to get over the huge hills of sand along the shore of Lake Michigan. Complemented by camping, good food, sunsets, tall tales from Uncle Bruce and s’mores around the campfire.

So, our second trip to Dune Fest last weekend was a success. Jeannie, Shelby and I packed up Shelby’s Subaru Outback on Thursday evening and made our way to Grand Rapids, Mich. After crashing for a few hours of sleep at Mom and Dad’s, we grabbed a quick breakfast with my sister at Panera, picked up some Starbucks for the road, and off we went to Silver Lake.

Our first afternoon out on Friday was pretty uneventful…well, if you count breaking only a windshield and getting stuck once in the dune buggy uneventful. Could have been worse, I guess.

I was the one to break the windshield in Dad’s beloved Buttercup, the yellow Jeep. I was driving by myself, drag racing my Crazy Uncle Bruce and Jeannie, when I hit a bump or two and the empty passenger seat bounced forward and smacked the glass. Oops! Sorry, Dad!

Jeannie and Shelby teamed up in the purple dune buggy quite a bit…helping one another shift the little guy. I believe the story goes that Uncle Bruce passed them when they were trying to get it in a gear, thought about stopping to help, but then figured, “Oh, they’ll figure it out.” And they did. They then got stuck on a dune after waiting for an SUV to get unstuck. What’s a DuneFest without getting stuck, eh, girls?

Some of us were witness to a young man’s “oops, I shouldn’t have gone through this mud puddle.” The young punk and his girlfriend attempted to drive his Jeep Cherokee through one of the mud holes out by the lakeshore. Either it was too deep for him or he didn’t blow through it fast enough, but when we caught sight of him, only his front half was sticking out of the water…back half completely submerged, with bubbles from his exhaust surfacing. It took two Jeeps to tow him out and when they finally succeeded, man, you should have seen the water rush out when the doors were opened. I got some pictures; we’ll see how they turn out.

To all friends and family reading this: You are invited to join DuneFest ’06. It’ll be bigger, badder, louder and faster. Make plans now to join the fun! Mom and Dad’s cabin WILL be ready for many visitors. More details on dates and travel in about nine months.

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Me, my Dad and The General

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Buttercup, The General and the purple dune buggy waiting for the sunset

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Charissa and I at DuneFest

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Jeannie and Shelby in the dune buggy, waiting for the sunset over Lake Michigan

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Mom and I hanging out at the picnic table

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The sun sets over Lake Michigan

Monday, July 25, 2005

Teenagers: Did I Act That Way, Mom?

REVISED: A BIG and BELATED shout-out to Amy Darnall (a.k.a. DirtyBird)! She's a good friend that talks me down from youth staff suicide when students get to me. While I'm at it then, I'll add shout-outs to Larissa Reusch and David Ridings for doing the same.

I got back from youth camp last Friday.

High points: Seeing little Jeffrey Johnson laying on the floor all by hisself talking to Jesus and junior higher Blake Ridings biting senior Jarod Harper's arm on the bus ride home cuz he was so hungry...well, that and I dared him to do it. Naturally, Jarod bit him back, only harder. (I never promised Blake that there wouldn't be retribution.)

Low points: Having some of my kids sass back to me. They apologized and we made up but it made me wonder if I acted like that as a teenager. I know I used to sass back as a kid but Mom certainly washed my mouth out with enough Ivory Liquid dish detergent to teach me a lesson. I decided that I might not sass back's just turned to sarcasm.

So, camp was great. Hot, but fun! And there were plenty of Starbucks in the vicinity to keep us all going. I think quite a few kids became addicted to the Double Chocolate Chip Blended Creme Frappuccino...poor kids, no taste. The beach, even with all the seaweed washed up by Dennis, was good. The sun toasted my real sunburns here though. Overall, a good week...well worth the trip.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Anecdotes From Starbucks Are the Antidote to Working at Starbucks

It's true that some days serving coffee can be a drag...especially when you have to get up at 4 a.m. to open the store at 5:00. Try doing that three mornings in a row. Sad to say that no amount of coffee can relieve the effects of such scheduling.

I was recently reminded of a funny Starbucks story that happened this past winter, and this one always brings a smile to my face:

An older couple pulls up to the menu/drive-thru speaker. The lady is driving, the man is the passenger. It becomes apparent to the barista on drive-thru, as he watches them on the video screen, that they are new to Starbucks. The man leans over, both are looking over the menu, reading words aloud..."Venti, Caffe, Americano...." At this point, the barista hears the man say, "Are we in America anymore?"

A note for those of you in the Nashville area, especially the Hermitage area...the new Starbucks (#9805) will be opening at the end of September near the intersection of Lebanon Pike and Andrew Jackson Parkway. Yours truly will be transferring to that store as it's only six miles from my house instead of 12 like the Hendersonville store. The two sad parts about the transfer is that a) I'll be sleeping in my own bed on nights before I open rather than camping out on the Allisons' couch and b) I'll miss seeing all my church friends that pass through ordering bad drinks like Frappuccinos or white chocolate mochas. Although I know that I'll be seeing more of Sharon Caputo at the new Starbucks...

Thursday, July 7, 2005

The 4th of July in the South

After seven years in Nashville, I don't remember celebrating all that many 4th of July's here. Last year I was stepping off a plane into a blast of heat like nothing else in Khartoum, Sudan, visiting my family. Well, this year I was home in Nashville and I noticed some things....

The "big" fireworks are not sold in Michigan so moving to the South has been interesting. Shooting off such fireworks starts a couple days before the 4th...on a regular basis on my street...usually around midnight. "I'm glad that you're into celebrating Independence Day and all, but come on...sleep already!"

Because these fireworks are readily available, you can see multiple shows while waiting for the BIG show downtown. Sitting atop the parking ramp at Belmont University, my old roommate Jeannie and I enjoyed our Pizza Hut large one-topping pizza (for $6.99) while watching fireworks pop up all around us as we waited for 9 p.m. to roll around.

The main show on the river downtown was really good...especially with the radio feed of the symphony over the loud speaker that someone was blaring behind us. My favorite fireworks were the stars and smiley faces. *Grin* Apparently, Nashville has the third best fireworks show in the country, according to statistics that Jeannie quoted.

So, after the main show, I dropped Jeannie off at her house and headed home myself. But even then the fireworks display was not over...because I am in the South. All the way home, along Interstate 65 North between Trinity Lane and Old Hickory Boulevard, random, colorful fireworks shot up left and right.

My favorite ones were the ones being set off in Old Hickory Village, of course. All things are better in the Village. In the parking lot of the burned-down Old Hickory Shopping Center were three guys and their pick-up truck with fireworks. One after another, they shot "big" fireworks off for the Villagers. Ah, I was home!

And now, another year of falling asleep to firecrackers is behind me....

Monday, June 20, 2005

Life as a Barista

I'm hoping to collect my funny anecdotes from Starbucks for a book one day. Let's start here...

Heard over the drive-thru headset:
Barista: "...What can I get for you today?"
Man's voice: (strong Southern accent) "Uh, I think I'll try the Caramel Manicotti..."

Last time I checked Starbucks didn't serve Italian food. Our customer was trying to order a Caramel Macchiato (pronounced mach-e-ah-toe). Macchiato means "marked with" in Italian. The drink is a latte made with vanilla syrup; the foam of the latte is "marked with" espresso and caramel syrup. Most everyone who orders that drink for the first time (or second or third time) mispronounces it. One of my other favorite mispronunciations was "Caramel Machete...." Oh, dear! That would be one violent drink.

p.s. I just heard another story about the word "machete." My dear friend Beth just told me a story from when she and Aaron were dating. He was trying to make a good impression with her mother while they and some friends went to a Barry Manilow concert at (then) Starwood Amphitheatre here in Nashville. After the show, as they were leaving the parking lot, they passed some large rocks used to keep cars out of the grass. Aaron, trying to impress, commented, "I wonder if those are real rocks or if they're paper machete." Good try, Aaron. Try Paper Mache.

Old Hickory Village Sighting

Saturday morning I saw an interesting sight on my way back into the Village. Out in the middle of a large, empty parking lot was a man stretched out on the blacktop working under his...moped.

Friday, May 27, 2005

U2, Mickey and Capitalism Gone Wrong

Yesterday, Thursday, May 26, marked two weeks since I saw U2 in Chicago. What a night! Just a night of pure music – over 2.5 hours! That means each minute was worth about $0.65…give or take a nickel. I’d try to tell you more about the show, but it’s an experience beyond words. Those guys are amazing. (For those who’ve seen the show, perhaps you can come up with a word or two.)

Chicago was chilly, too. Certainly wasn’t enjoying that. But I did enjoy the company…seeing my sister, brother-in-law and nephews for the first time in almost a year. Jennifer and I did lots of shopping…and stopping at Starbucks (had to catch her up on her mocha intake).

The next week saw us meeting Mom and Dad and aunts and uncles in Orlando for a week. We visited Mickey and assorted Disney princesses at the Magic Kingdom, got some sun and surf at Typhoon Lagoon and caught up from those two days with some lying around. While the others went to Gatorland on Thursday, I went to a Panera Bread for about five hours to do some work (gotta make freelance money when ya can). I missed all the gator glory but I think I’m OK with that.

Friday was Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure – perhaps one of the greatest rip-offs in Orlando. At least in this family’s opinion. After paying $70 per adult and $60 per kid, Jennifer, Dick and the boys and I started our day at the theme park, and things seemed to be OK. It wasn’t until we waited 60 (or more?) minutes at the Dudley Do-Right waterlog ride, that things started to go downhill. (One highpoint in there was the Spiderman ride.)

It seems the Express Pass you can buy at Universal for an extra $16 will get you to the front of the line automatically. Which for us poor folk, or not so extravagant folk, means that you can wait for an hour or more, only to be cut off right in the front by 20, 30, 50 or however many Express Passers show up when you get there. Money talks…especially at Universal. At least in Disney World if you want an express pass you have to make a point to pick one up and come back at a certain time to ride. And even then, they let a certain number of people on before continuing with those who are waiting.

Anyways, we about lost our slightly heat-soaked minds at Bluto’s Something Barges, when after waiting for over an hour with two small, tiring young men, a throng of Universal Express Passers waltzed into the front without having to wait even 10 or 15 minutes. How is it that those of us who choose to save our money and wait patiently get cut-off like that? Just didn’t and doesn’t see quite right. That’s where we saw “capitalism gone wrong.”

The park was kind of a rip-off anyways. There were more food places than any interesting rides at Islands of Adventure, and when you buy a combo meal at one of these joints, you get the sandwich and fries only – drink is extra.

But, hats off to my nephews, Luke and Zack, 6 and 5 respectively. Those guys were quite the troopers waiting in those long lines. Only one or two fistfights broke out. [Smile]

All in all though, the week in Florida with family was worth it. It was nice to be away from stress here. Plus, I was very blessed that my family took such good care of me. They are amazing, loving people. And lovely, too. It was nice to get home and not live out of a suitcase anymore though.

I didn’t have to work at Starbucks until today; I’d been away for over two weeks. Seemed a bit strange to don the black apron again and make some coffee drinks. Won’t take long to get back into the swing of things. I should be cured of the newness after three consecutive eight-hour days opening the store. [Sigh]

P.S. Saw "Star Wars Episode III" yesterday. Great effects and fight scenes as expected. But I think the 5-year-olds in my life could have written a more interesting script.

P.P.S. There was a question about making comments to these ramblings. You don't have to go through the motions of joining "Blogger" to do so. Just choose "other" or "anonymous" when you click on the "comments" link below my words. Comment away!

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Bulk Item Pick-up Day

Old Hickory Village, the little historic neighborhood I live in, scheduled a "bulk item pick-up" for today. City Works trucks drive around the Village and pick up everyone's large pieces of junk that they haven't taken to the metro recycling centers (one of which is only two miles from the Village, I know because my dad and I hauled a stove and TV over there a few weeks back).

I noticed a couple things about this annual pick-up day when driving through the neighborhood yesterday morning. First, the most prevalent appliance needing to be picked up was the water heater, followed closely by a non-appliance, the mattress. Second, I found that neighbors thought it was their opportunity to do some free shopping. One lady in a Jeep Cherokee was driving slowly and checking out the piles of what so-and-so on the corner of 8th and Cleves was getting rid of.

As I passed her, I remembered a suspicious thing from the night before. My neighbor had virtually cleared out her entire house and backyard for the pick-up day. With her mattress was a lawn mower and indistinct piles and piles of other items. Well, a truck pulled up in front of my house Tuesday night. I was sitting on my couch working on the computer and I heard some chatter, some loud "thunks" and then nothing. I wondered what was going on out there in the dark but after seeing Jeep lady, I'm guessing someone was helping themselves (under the cover of dark) to my neighbor's cast-off "treasures."

Bulk item pick-up day is about over and all of the piles, or just the one overstuffed chair, have been taken away. Too bad the house on the next block over didn't empty its entire backyard, or just leave the back gate open, for all of its junk to be cleared out. I think a few of us who have to look at it would have gone over and helped move the stuff...even at the risk of getting bit by one of the five or six dogs in that same small backyard.

Life in the's a beautiful and colorful thing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Cat on the Loose!

So, I'm sitting on the couch last night, working on a magazine article that's due today (I work better under pressure) and I hear this scratch, scratch at the door. I had the front door open with one of my black footrests in front of it so the kitties can sit and watch the world go by and I can get some airflow through the house because I refuse to turn the air conditioning on yet.

Well, since that scratch, scratch sounded familiar as Gandalf the Grey had been doing that the other day when I was sitting out on the front porch (he was trying to crawl through the bottom of the screen on the screen door), I thought I should investigate. Sure enough, he was trying to get through. I caught him though.

But something didn't seem right. There was no accomplice to the crime around. So, I called for Tia. Nothing, no kittie came running as she normally would. Hmmmm. I had a bad feeling.

So, I glanced outside and sure enough, there's a pair of glowing eyes on the steps looking back at me. Tia had escaped.

I went outside and shut the door behind me because I didn't need to have two cats on the run and began to coax her back in. She was a scared-y cat and I knew that just needed to keep her in the front yard and get her back on the porch. The neighbor dogs were barking and some large strange black cat tried to cross the street to check things out. I chased him off. I got her back on the porch and cornered her and got her back in the house but man, to think I almost locked her out.

It's just a good thing Star, the squatty lab from next door, wasn't out. I'm sure she would have enjoyed the playtime.