Papa Makes it BETTER!

I’ve always made home-made chili from scratch. I’m talking actually picking the dry beans for rocks, washing them and cooking them for hours until the beans are tender then simmering them to create a nice thick, creamy sauce. Then I take the cooked beans and turn them into chili by adding all the chili spices, tomatoes and tomato sauce, onions, garlic, and ground meat etc…

When Bill and I were first married, we entered a chili cooking contest at our church and won first place using my chili recipe!

Fast forward twenty-four years. Now, after raising our daughter, Shantel, on my famous chili for years…she decided she doesn’t like the chili made from dry beans…no, she wants it made from canned beans…!Are you kidding me?? Who would prefer canned beans over fresh made beans?? But, being the accommodating mother I try to be, and after many attempts, I finally came up with a “canned” chili recipe that is at least half way decent…

What I do is mix two cans each of black, pinto, and kidney beans with two cans each of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and a package of low sodium chili seasoning mix. I also add my own special blend of spices as well as fresh ground meat cooked with chopped onions and garlic. I cook all that until the garlic and onions are tender then added to the chili beans and simmer everything for several hours to allow all the flavors to blend. At first, Shantel loved this chili that I call my cheating version…she would ask me to make it almost every week…Until…she decided she would no longer eat beef or pork…No, now, she only eats chicken but won’t eat ground chicken..I even tried making a chunky white chili using chunks of chicken.. but, no, she didn’t like that either. She wants the chili made now without any meat…Well, now that’s a problem, because both my husband Bill, aka Papa, and I like chili with meat and beans…but, once again, being the accommodating mother I try to be…I decided I could make the chili but before I add the meat, I take out enough for Shantel to have dinner and some leftovers. All was well…UNTIL…I was out with a friend one day and I asked Bill/Papa if he would make the chili while I was out for the day and he agreed if I put out all the ingredents…i.e. the cans of everything and the spices all measured out so all he had to do was dump it all in the pan and let it simmer. He even agreed to cook the meat separate so he could make sure Shantel’s chili wouldn’t have meat in it…Oh, wasn’t that nice of him I thought…Well, guess what?

Shantel decided she likes Papa’s chili better than mine. Keep in mind, all Papa had to do was open cans and dump the contents into the pot, add the measured out spices and keep the meat out of it until Shantel’s was ready…no research or trial taste testing necessary. Just open and dump!!

So, now, Bill/Papa, is the official chili cook in our house…Behold the KING in his chili domain:

I just might have to teach him how to make a few other special secret recipes that Shantel will eat:)

Stay tuned!

Oh, No, You DIDN’T!!

Leave my daughter, Shantel, sitting on that bench  in the Fry’s grocery store for 3 hours again waiting for East VAlley Dial-a Ride to bring her home.  We thought you said “that will NEVER happen again”!

Actually, that’s exactly what happened…AGAIN!! Yes, this past Tuesday, Phoenix Dial-a-Ride picked Shantel up at her college at 12:15, and drove her twenty-four blocks to the transfer point where East Valley Dial-a-Ride is supposed to pick her up within a half hour and bring her home. But that never happened. No, East Valley Dial-a-Ride was a no-show, Again!

Shantel told me she heard Phoenix Dial-a-Ride call East Valley Dial-a-Ride and request the transfer cab to pick Shantel up at the Fry’s store and bring her home. In fact, the Phoenix Dial-a-Ride driver called East Valley three times. Then, when East Valley Dial-a-Ride didn’t show up after one and a half hours, Shantel called East Valley Dial-a-Ride herself and was told a driver was on the way. But, after waiting another forty-five minutes, Shantel finally had to call my husband, Bill, to come and get her when he got off work. If she hadn’t called for Bill to pick her up on his way home we would have had to drive all the way back, 18 miles, to the Fry’s grocery store to get Shantel because, yet again, East Valley Dial-a Ride never did show up!

When Shantel arrived home, she called East Valley again, and the operator told her Phoenix Dial-a-Ride canceled her ride not only for that day, which was Tuesday, but they canceled her rides for the whole week. Shantel then called Phoenix Dial-a-Ride to find out why they canceled her rides for the week and was told that never happened. Phoenix Dial-a-Ride told Shantel they would fax over the transfer information to East Valley Dial-a-Ride again, and assured her she would be picked up on time Wednesday.

Guess, what?…On Wednesday, Phoenix Dial-a-Ride dropped Shantel off that the Fry’s grocery store and took her to the bench inside the store to wait for East Valley Dial-a-Ride to show up. The Phoenix Dial-a-Ride driver decided to take her break at the Fry’s store and she waited with Shantel for a while. Then, the Phoenix Dial-a-Ride driver saw an East Valley Dial-a-Ride driver out in the Fry’s parking lot so the Phoenix driver went out and asked the East Valley driver if he was there to pick up Shantel. The East Valley driver said all the East Valley computers were down so he didn’t have the transfer information but he, Charlie, knows Shantel from picking her up so many times before, and he said he would take Shantel home and worry about getting the transfer paperwork later. Thank God for Charlie, and don’t think I’m not singing his praises to all the top dogs at East Valley Dial-a-Ride. Charlie was laid off his job a few months back and this was the only job he could find but he has been the best driver ever. He gave Shantel his card with his number on the back and told her she can call him if she ever gets stuck again and if he is anywhere in the area he will come and get her. The drivers are not supposed to take a rider without the proper transfer paperwork because they need that information to collect their fare. Charlie is a perfect example of someone willing to go the “extra mile” above and beyond the call of duty and step up and take responsibility to do the right thing!

So, after many attempts by Shantel to reach the Customer Advocate at East Valley who told her “this will never happen again” I finally told Shantel if she gave me the number I would keep calling throughout the day. Shantel only has a certain window of time in the morning to call before she has to leave for school and the Advocate leaves for the day at 2:00 which of course is before Shantel gets home.

I did reach the Customer Advocate yesterday afternoon but it was not easy to get her to call me back. However,  after I left a message for her to call me, I waited two and a half hours, then I called the number to schedule a ride and asked to speak with a Supervisor or Manager. I was told the Supervisor was  on the phone but I insisted to speak with her or I said I would contact the owner of the company…the operator took my name and number and within ten minutes guess who called?…Yep, the Customer Advocate…I told her the whole story and she is now “researching” the entire course of events and will get back to me be end of day today…I assured her if I didn’t hear back from her by end of day TODAY, I would make it my mission to find, and contact, the owner of the company, along with Gary Harper of Three on Your Side TV News in Phoenix, and if necessary, a Disability Lawyer…I told her I will do whatever it takes, but I assured her my daughter will not sit on the bench in Fry’s waiting for East Valley Dial-a-Ride for three or more hours again!

Stay Tuned!

Food For Thought and Other Worries

Shantel LOVES fresh made bread. Every time I go to the grocery store she will ask me to buy her fresh bread. This past week, she wanted fresh Kaiser Rolls so she could make her deli roasted chicken sandwiches when she gets home from school. She also always wants a loaf of fresh Italian bread. She likes to just pull off a piece and eat it while she is doing her homework or listening to her books on diskettes.

Here in the Sonoran Desert, bread will begin to mold very quickly in the summertime if you don’t keep it refrigerated. I bought the breads in these pictures this past Wednesday for Shantel and she began eating it that day. When I bought them they were fresh out of the oven and even warm. Now, because I’m always trying to “watch my weight”, I try to stay away from the breads.  But on Sunday, as I was cleaning the kitchen after dinner, I noticed the breads on the counter, that Shantel  had been  eating from, already had mold on them! Even though Shantel does have a sensitivity to smells, she couldn’t detect that the breads were already moldy. I told Shantel she needs to keep her breads in the refrigerator from now on and she agreed. This is just one fo the many things I worry about as the mother of a blind child. How will she know when her breads or any other foods are moldy?

Her Kaiser Rolls

Her Italian Bread

A piece of italian bread she had already been eating from…

Another thing that occupies my mind a lot, especially with all the violence we hear about in the schools these days, is in the event an act of violence did happen in Shantel’s school who would make sure Shantel got to a safe place?

My worries were heightened this morning as I walked Shantel sighted guide to the Student Center where I leave her to find her route to her classes. As we approached the courtyard in front of the Student Center I noticed a strong presence of uniformed Phoenix Police officers. As I began to look further around the campus, I saw that the uniformed police were everywhere. I mentioned to Shantel that the police were all over the campus and she very calmly told me “yes, mom, I know, it’s because someone wrote all over the school walls Monday that on Tuesday, 9/11, there would be a big act of violence to be reckoned with at this college”. Shantel told me that was why the police were going to be on campus all day today.

I asked Shantel if she was nervous about attending classes today since she no longer has an aid with her now that she is in college. Shantel told me she was a little nervous, but she realizes that acts of violence could happen on any day so she just has to pray that if anything ever does happen she will not get hurt. My heart was pounding as I asked her if she wanted to go back home or if she wanted me to stay with her to make sure she got to all her classes alright. She smiled, thanked me, and said “mom, I’ll be fine, you can go back home now”…

I am so very proud of the strength and courage Shantel demonstrates each and every day, and I know all mothers worry about their children. But, it makes my heart ache to even think that if Shantel ever found herself in harm’s way, she wouldn’t even be able to see it coming. No matter how old Shantel gets, or how much courage she has, as her mother, I will never stop worrying about her safety and welfare. Because, like all good mothers, it’s who we are and what we do!

Stay Tuned!

Tortilla Flat

Yesterday, my husband, Bill, aka Bro, and I celebrated 24 years of marriage. Wow, time really does fly fast when you are having fun everyday with your very BEST friend. I dedicate this post to Bill, the absolute love of my life. The man who still calls me his girly girl, knows my stories, gets my jokes, warms my feet, takes my side, ignores my quirks, smooths my worries, makes all my days better, and makes me a better me. I so love you Bill.

To celebrate our special day, we pilfered the day away at Tortilla Flat, and surrounding areas.

You might Ask?

The answer to that famous question is Tortilla Flat, AZ is 18 miles NE of Apache Junction on Highway 88 and is the last surviving stagecoach stop on the historic Apache Trail!

Tortilla Flat, AZ boasts a population of 6 and has been serving travelers for over 100 years…even before Arizona was a state! The restaurant “The Superstition Saloon” says it servers the BIGGEST Burgers, HOTTEST chilli and COLDEST drinks in the WEST. I tell everyone they have the best burgers EVER when I talk about Tortilla Flat too. But, the truth of the matter in my opinion is they really are not THE BEST burgers EVER, they just taste that way when you are there because you are having so much fun taking in all the historic history of Tortilla Flat, and getting so caught up in how the Wild, Wild WEST was way back then that you can just imagine you stepped back in time and are really eating the burger, sitting on one of the saddles situated all around the bar, with all the ghosts of the past. When you really get into the old west theme, and are loving the cowboy/cowgirl way of life from times past, that burger really does taste like it is the best you ever ate. But, how bad can a burger with bacon, cheese and green chili strips be right? Do you know how long it had been since I ate a burger with all that on it…? Well, let’s just say it had been way too long, way too long:)

Tortilla Flat, Az is also just 2 miles east of Canyon Lake. When I was growing up, my family had a boat, and we would spend almost every Saturday at Canyon Lake. We would all pile in the boat and go across the lake to have a picnic, swim, fish etc. Often times other people would bring their boats and join us….oh the stories I remember about Canyon Lake, like the time my mother was skiing while my father drove the boat all around the lake. Mom fell once, dad circled around to get her, told her if she was going to ski, ski, and said if you fall again you can swim back… Mom could ski real good but she did fall again and dad left her in the middle of the lake, ski’s and all, to swim back to the shore…funny to some that were there…to me it wasn’t. If that isn’t a dysfunctional family I don’t know what is…But, as I said in a previous post, sometimes it wasn’t all bad…sometimes we did have fun…sometimes. I guess it all depends on your definition of fun!

Yes, I grew up in the Wild, Wild, West, in a WILD and crazy family that shaped who I am today. I really believe life is what you make it, and my life today is ALL good:)

P.S. I hate to admit this, especially since I know my great photographer frissy reads my blog…,but I forgot to take the camera to Tortilla Flat… so the only pictures I can show you are what is on the information I picked up while we were there…but, since we all know I am not a photographer, it must be O.K. that I forgot the camera, again…right?

Stay Tuned!

Independently Dependent

Since our daughter, Shantel, lost her sight to cancer, just before she turned two, our whole lives have been centered around helping Shantel become an independent, contributing, member of society. Her independence was preached to me all throughout her early childhood, elementary school, and high school years. Shantel’s mobility instructors would constantly tell me “let her be independent, don’t do things for her, teach her how to do things for herself”…as hard as it was, I followed their advice and I’m very proud of the strong, independent, young adult, Shantel is today. That said, it still breaks my heart to see what all she, and I’m sure many other’s, have to go through, when they must rely on others for services they can not provide for themselves, like public transportation for those who will never be able to drive.

Because our daughter, Shantel, is totally blind, she has been approved to use Dial-a-Ride services at a discount rate. Dial-a-Ride is a door to door service, meaning they are supposed to come to the door to get you and walk you to the door when they get you to your destination. All Shantel has to do is call Dial-a-Ride and let them know what time she needs to be at a specific location and they will tell her what time they will pick her up.  The only problem with Shantel using Dial-a-Ride to take her to school in the mornings is, she would have to be picked up two hours prior to the time her first class begins due to the high volume of clients that use Dial-a-Ride in the early morning hours. Because of that restriction, I take Shantel to school every morning, which is 21.4 miles from our home. Then, Shantel uses Dial-a-Ride services to get back home in the afternoon.

Shantel gets out of school at 12:15 everyday. She is supposed to only have a half hour wait for Dial-a-Ride to pick her up. Most of the time Dial-a-Ride arrives within the half hour window and Shantel gets home without incident. However, Dial-a-Ride recently partnered with East Valley Cab Service in order to better service all Dial-a-Ride customers. So, now, with the new, improved, service, instead of Shantel having to wait for the Dial-a-Ride van to pick-up and/or drop-off several customers who may be sharing the same van with her, she is picked up by Phoenix Dial-a-Ride at her school and taken approximately 3 miles down the street to a shopping center where she was instructed to sit on a bench in a Fry’s grocery store until the East Valley Cab Service picks her up, within a half hour, and brings her to our house. Again, most of the time this all works out well and when it does, Shantel gets home much faster because she is the only customer in the cab. But, when a system glitch, or dispatcher miscommunication happens, things can go really, really bad, real quick.

Last week,  Phoenix Dial-a-Ride picked up Shantel from school at 12:15 and dropped her off that the Fry’s store at 12:30 to wait for the East Valley Cab Service to pick her up and bring her home. Shantel waited, and waited, but East Valley Cab Service never showed up. So, at 2:00 Shantel called her father, my husband, Bill, to let him know she was still sitting at the Fry’s store and asked him to pick her up on his way home from work. Lucky for us, Bill works just down the street from the Fry’s grocery store so when he got off work at 3:00 he was able to swing by and get Shantel. But, Shantel still had to sit on that bench, in a Fry’s store, where she didn’t even know where the restrooms were, and no one came by to see if she needed anything, for two and a half hours before Bill could get there to pick her up. Independence doesn’t always seem like independence after all!

When Shantel finally arrived home with Bill, at 3:45,  she called Phoenix Dial-a-Ride to let them know her East Valley driver never showed up. The Dial-a-Ride operator said they were sorry but the driver said he “arrived at the Fry’s store, looked in the store but didn’t see anyone standing by the door waiting for a cab. He said he didn’t ask anyone or call out Shantel’s name he just left when he didn’t see anyone standing by the door looking for a cab”.  At this point Shantel asked to speak to a Supervisor and was connected to a “customer advocate”. Shantel asked the customer advocate if there is a note, or flag, on her file that says she is totally blind, to which the customer advocate answered, yes, there is a message stating you are totally blind. Shantel then asked the customer advocate what more she needs to do to ensure the drivers understand she sits on the same bench in the Fry’s store everyday, the one they told her to sit on, and they need to come into the Fry’s store, call out her name, and walk her to the cab. I am so very proud of Shantel for the way she handled this situation.

The customer advocate assured Shantel the bad experience she had last week would never happen again…famous last words, don’t you think?…I guess we’ll see…

Stay Tuned!

Next Newer Entries

Wheeling It: Tales From a Nomadic Life

On the Road Since 2010, Traveling Across USA & Europe With 12 Paws

The Brantley Blog

In the eyes of the law, we reach adulthood the day we turn 18 years old. God help anyone who actually believes that.

the next few years

family life..with a unique perspective of motherhood

Gotham Girl Chronicles

a mixture of random in

Blooming Burgh Boomer

Living An Active Full Life

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