Tuesday, June 29, 2010


She arrived unexpectedly on a Christmas morning in Missouri

She never met a person she didn't adore.

She turned the hearts of Pomeranian haters, dog groomers and vet techs to mush with her always wiggling so-happy-to-meet-you smile.

She would stand on my folded arms leaning against my chest for as long as I could stand her little nails digging into my skin.

She travelled, and was welcomed, everywhere with us and was only kenneled once when there was no other option.

She sat in the basket of my bike and rode on the trails with me, loving every minute of the ride.

She was never a yappy little barker, unless she saw my suitcase and then she's do her darnest to sneak out the kitchen door to the Jeep with me.

She had a bark that went, "Arf!"

She would sing with me.

She could high-five, but of course her high-five was only about seven inches off the ground, so it was a really low high-five.

She loved going camping because there were people.

She would "assist" you in picking her up by, just when your palm wrapped around her middle, giving a little jump, to help you out.

She loved to snuggle in my arms, and would stand on my side of the bed waiting until I'd reach down and pull her up.

She had luxated patellas so attempting to go long distances was hard, but she enjoyed going for "walks" in her stroller.

She was so unlike the other Pomeranians I have known there will never be another like her.

She left my world as unexpectedly as she arrived in it.

She died last week from an infection we didn’t know she had until it was too late.

I loved her beyond words.

Sammie Two Chews


Monday, June 21, 2010

Crazy Sh*t Magnet

Most of the time when I'm working absolutely nothing happens. No.thing. It gets so dull out there on the street I'm forced to watch the cartoons on my head to keep my brain occupied. Other times, one thing might happen that's memorable. Then it makes the evening a little more interesting, and you can chat about that one thing for the rest of the night until you've beaten it to death.

Then there are the nights like this past Saturday, where so much stuff happens you would think we're a magnet for crazy shit. I had a trainee, and the first time I whipped out my camera she seemed a little surprised. Later on, after the last set of pictures I took, she said, "I can understand why it could be beneficial to carry a camera with you."

And of course that goes double for me because I take the pictures and then come home and blog about it, for you.

First I had a wedding up in the Grove. Wedding are not unusual; we take the bride to the wedding or take the bride and groom from the ceremony to the reception. Most common is taking the bride and groom from the reception to their hotel. Once we had a couple get married on the carriage (there is a local minister who will marry you wherever you want. Don't think the idea hasn't crossed my mind about getting ordained on the internet and offering to be both the driver and the minister… I'm all about value.) And occasionally I've done a combo ride, like the one this weekend. I took the bride, her dad and the flower girls from Memorial House down the road to where the ceremony occured, then I took the bride and her new husband on a ride for about 20 minutes and dropped them off back at Memorial House for the reception.

The unusual part about his wedding was, besides their wedding, another wedding party came up to the Grove for photos. It was an African wedding and I have never seen so many tall skinny people in my life. The women were all around 6ft tall, and on top of that they wore high heels. The men who accompanied each woman was at least as tall as the female and that was without him wearing heels. So, first unusual thing: African Wedding.

Then, while standing around waiting for my bride to get ready (actually she was ready but the delivery of the rest of the chairs for her guests was late so I'm sure she was tweaking) a beautifully dressed couple walked past us. I asked if I could take their photo. They were quite nice, and when I inquired if something special was going on, they replied, "No, we're just out for a walk."

Which kind of surprised me because I thought Vampires would turn to dust when exposed to sunlight.

So I finished my wedding, everything went just fine except Cletus kept trying to pee where we were standing waiting for the Bride and Groom to return and I can't allow him to do that because it smells and is really icky to stand in. (Plus, he knows better and should have done it before we arrived.)

I got back to South Gate and my friend Bill was waiting for me. We chatted for a couple of minutes when a kid who looked like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo rode up on a bike jerry-rigged with a tote containing two coolers, a sunshade, and a loudspeaker playing calliope music.

The Ice-Cream Man!!!

We were all so damned excited you'd have thought the Publishers Clearinghouse Prize Patrol had arrived with one of those huge fake checks for ten million dollars made out to "Salt Lake Carriage Drivers."

Everyone there bought something and I said, "Dude, (yes, I say dude a lot actually) you MUST come back here EVERY NIGHT!" And he was happy to make so many sales in one spot he said, "Ok I will!"

So, even if the night is dead I still have the ice cream man to look forward to. I should have taken his picture, but I was busy scarfing down a vanilla Drumstick.

And the final fun-o-rama thing that happened, occurred while I was yet again up in the Grove. Crazy Shelley, one of our tribe, called over the radio because someone else asked why there were cop cars in the intersection of Main and South Temple, which is half a block from our spot.

Crazy Shelley explained that while on a ride a slowly moving, but weaving auto entered the intersection. It almost hit her carriage, almost hit pedestrians in the crosswalk and came to a stop when the driver passed out at the wheel. Her passengers jumped out of the carriage, turned off the car and took away the keys from an obviously drunk driver, and then Crazy Shelley called 911.

When I finally passed the fiasco there were no less than eight police cars, two motorcycle cops, a Gold Cross ambulance along with a Gold Cross supervisor truck, a fire truck, and a UTA vehicle. Finally the tow truck arrived and the intersection eventually cleared out but it was jam packed full there for a little while.

So, as you can see, Saturday was an adventuresome evening. And I'm so glad I had my camera. Because nights like that just don't come around all that often.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Warrior Way

The weekend of June 5, 2010 I attended a much anticipated day-long workshop presented by New York Times bestselling author Bob Mayer. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Mayer, he has over 35 fiction and non-fiction books in print, runs limited participation A-Team Warrior Writer workshops, presents full day writing/publishing workshops, just co-founded his own publishing company, and is a popular keynote speaker at literary conferences around the world. As a former West Point Graduate and member of the Green Berets, Bob brings to the writing table a unique perspective. He utilizes Special Forces concepts to ignite the creative fire in writers and encourage them with sometimes unpopular facts about the publishing industry. Using his own experiences as a long time published writer, he's not afraid to tell the truth about the industry, review their mistakes, (along with his own) and speculate about its future. The workshop was great, and if you are a writer I highly recommend it.

I believe that the true test of any class or lecture is if it either gets you to think or gets you to change. Double bonus point score if it does both.

I first attended one of Bob's presentations at the Jackson Hole Writers Conference back in June of 2008. I was torn between attending a lecture by Michael Perry and the presentation by Bob Mayer. I chose Bob; Michael Perry, while a very talented and funny author, writes narrative non-fiction. Narrative non-fiction is what my blog is, with the exception of the few times I've posted excerpts from my manuscript or short story. I do not now nor do I ever plan to make any money from my blog. Plus, my blog is already "published." I actually have "readers." Bob, on the other hand, writes fiction, and fiction is what my manuscripts are. Not memoirs, not self help books, or a collection of Poetry intended to lift your soul and leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling; fiction.

In Jackson, after Bob's workshop, a young man lamented to me that he disagreed with the information presented, and vowed that he would continue to write even if he never got published, because although his writing may not have mass appeal, it was his "Vision." It was his "Art."

Well, that's all fine and dandy. He can keep crafting his "vision," keep churning out his "art." He can reach down into the very bowels of his soul, open a vein, and vomit it all on paper in whatever font he feels best expresses his id, as far as I'm concerned.

But he needs to do it on the porch and stay the fuck out of my way because, frankly, I want to run with the big dogs. I want to get published, and I haven’t gotten published yet because I'm lazy. It has nothing to do with craft, opportunity, global warming, my astrological sign, or luck. I'm. Just. Lazy.

Someone once asked me why I decided to start writing. I explained that I have always been a storyteller, but had grown tired in recent years of finding new people to verbally tell my stories to, trapping them in a corner and yammering at them until one of us had to pee, then finding they'd escaped my clutches and run off. By committing the words to paper, it's much easier on all of us, and the reader has the opportunity to pee whenever they feel the need, instead of looking for an opening and slinking out of my grasp.

So, dear reader, you might ask, "What the heck, Slave Driver, does any of this have to do with anything? And when are you going to tell another urination story featuring Cletus?"

I've been pretty good about blogging twice a week over the last three years. On occasion I managed to throw in a special extra bonus blog if something interesting happened. Sometimes I miss a scheduled post. After all, I always figured that blogging was writing, so it counted. But lately I seem to be writing less and less fiction, and I have to quit that shit. So I've decided to cut the blog down to once a week or so. Frankly, my life is not nearly as interesting as some of you believe it is.

So, I'll still be here, just not as often, because it's time for me to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Crap. That's Star Trek. Cancel that. It's time for me to manifest a destiny, people. It's time for me to really work at getting published. But I'll be around. After all, as the RARA's have found out, I can’t be gotten rid of quite that easily.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

No Validation

I know I'm a little behind over here but it's been a busy couple of weeks so…
Today's post is about food. No surprise there— I blog about food every once in a while. I've never been much of a "snacker." I have no compulsion to graze my way through a day, eating everything within reach. I've never drilled my way to the bottom of a quart of ice cream, although cradling a container of Baskin & Robbins Rocky Road without snarfing the entire thing down is a test of strength.

I abhor the taquitos and hot dogs perpetually running on the food treadmill at 7-11. I don't consider that stuff food. But…to each his own. If I'm going to put it in my mouth it either better taste damn fine or give me a buzz. And when in direct competition with each other, depending on if I have to drive or not, buzz usually wins. So in a contest of Dove Chocolate vs. Wine, wine wins hands down. Give me that "squeak" and "pop" any day.

Anyway, none of this has anything to do with any of that except last week we tried two restaurants that we hadn't visited before. We (carriage drivers) like to try out places before we recommend them to tourists, because it's nasty when you do that and it comes back around to bit you in the ass.

Thursday Ro and I went to lunch at The Sand Bar. It's a place I've passed while working many times but never ventured into. Why? Well, because I'm working and it's so hard to find horse parking these days. Anyway, we entered the restaurant and were greeted by John Stamos's little brother. Or at least he looked like he could be his little brother. So right away the place gets points for hiring good looking staff and not trolls or fugly carriage-driver looking people.

It was easy to get a table because we were the only customers there. The interior was cute with a beach theme and two free-standing bars, plus the patio seating, I can understand why it's a popular spot. We both ordered Buffalo Chicken wraps which were very tasty and reasonably priced. Ro bought lunch because she felt she owed me for delivering flowers to a dance recital for her, and our lunches, with one ice tea, were around $16.00. Ro left a $5 tip because we tip well and the waiter did a good job. Plus, you know, he was cute. So lunch with a view.

On Friday, Ro, MBA and I went to a brand new place that we have been waiting to open with great anticipation. It is located directly across the street from where we stage at Temple Square and is called The Blue Lemon. We've looked up the menu on line, discussed the various entrees and soups we were interested in trying, and made a date to go. And we're very happy because they have a full coffee bar. You might not think this is so special, but I live in Salt Lake, where the predominant religion eschews coffee like it's pure evil in liquid form.

First, when we get there we decide to park underneath the restaurant because the parking signs were plastered with —>"Blue Lemon Parking Here"<— notices.

MBA grabbed the parking ticket, and we head upstairs to the restaurant. It's considered "Upscale Casual." That means you stand in line to order and pay a lot of money then they bring it to your table. You know, like at Sizzler, except with higher prices, and smaller portions, but nicer plates.

MBA and I both ordered the same item: Chicken breast with roasted artichoke hearts and tomatoes, glazed onions, over herb-garlic mashed potatoes with a roasted red pepper and spinach cream sauce. Ro ordered the Blue Lemon Steak which was topped with bacon and gorgonzola cheese on top of a bed of succotash and the herb-garlic mashed potatoes with gravy.

When our meals arrived, mine and Ro's only, Ro moved her steak off of her potatoes (she's on a very restrictive diet) and held up a squiggly red thing that was stuck between the steak and taters.

"What's that?"

Ro displayed it like Vanna White turning a letter.

"Twist. Tie." She said.

Just then our waiter, who was not nearly as cute as the one from the day before, walked by.

"Pardon me," I said very nicely, which we all know is rare for me, "is this a new type of garnish?"

He peered at it and asked, "What is it?"

"Twist. Tie." Ro repeated, doing her Vanna White impression for him.

"Where did you find that?"

"Under my steak, in the succotash."

The waiter, (did I mention that this waiter did, in fact, pale by comparison to the Sand Bar waiter. Not that I'm obsessed or anything) apologized and asked if she wanted a new one. She declined, but put the twist tie in the center of the table as evidence.

Eventually, MBA's meal arrived. She started in on the artichoke and tomatoes and said to me, "These are cold. Are yours cold?"


"Mine are."

Our (looks nothing like John Stamos) waiter walked by;

"Excuse me," says MBA, who, unlike me, is always polite, "are these vegetables supposed to be cold?"

"No," the waiter replies, "they're sautéed."

"Well these are as cold as if they've come straight from the fridge," MBA advised him.

The waiter apologized and asked if she wanted another one.

Now, people, if I'd ordered a steak rare and it came well done, I'd want another one. But having worked in a restaurant, I don’t send stuff back. I want it taken off my bill. I've never spit on someone's returned order, but I know staff that have.
MBA said no.

So, we finished our meal, and our waiter, who was looking kind of ratty by then, brought us a (that would be one) complimentary slice of carrot cake. Now, not taking into account that TWO of the people at the table had received f*cked up food, both Ro and MBA are on diets.

Die. Ets.

Then, to add insult to injury, they were not "equipped" to validate our parking.

Two things to note:

We told several people who worked there that we were Carriage Drivers. Now, I understand that it doesn’t qualify us as New York Times Food Critics. However, on average per shift, anywhere from four to ten people ask us to recommend a place to eat. Now, the Sand bar is three blocks down West Temple. I'll be sure to send customers there. The Blue Lemon is right across the street. We're going to wait a month or so, and give Blue Lemon time to get their shit together. Because right now, I can't really in good conscience send people to that restaurant.

Not without validation.