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Jennifer’s Wiener Hut

My gramma used to live on the top floor of a 7-story apartment building. I would stand on her balcony and watch the residents and visitors come and go from the parking lot below. I could also see the busy 5-lane road that served as her building’s address.

Across the street was a shopping plaza. It did not contain some of the busier stores in town, but there was lots of traffic that passed by. At the very front of the plaza was a tiny gas station, back when they still made them that way. It had two old-school square pumps out front. I believe it may have even been full service.

But you have to remember, this was probably 25 years ago.

The gas station closed and sat there empty for a long time. And that is when I developed my business plan.

My great consignment store find plate featuring hamburgers and hot dogs

My great consignment store find plate featuring hamburgers and hot dogs

I wanted to someday use that building to open Jennifer’s Wiener Hut. At the time, there were many restaurants along that road. And being at the front of the parking lot right near the street, I would have had great frontage.

I would have put a drive-thru on both sides of the building. This was pretty forward thinking for my age at that time, as I had never seen a Rally’s with that set-up. I would have had my sign be a giant hot dog at the top of the building that said “Jennifer’s Wiener Hut”.ย  It would be drive-thru or walk up only, no indoor seating.

Hot Dog Salt & Pepper Shakers

Hot Dog Salt & Pepper Shakers

I would have served hot dogs and sausages. I would have offered chips as sides. I figured I could offer almost anything on the menu as long as it didn’t require a fryer. (I’m scared of bubbling hot oil.)

My restaurant would be known for getting the cars in and out fast. (This would be an advantage of having a limited menu.) People with only a half hour for their lunch would think of my restaurant first. People who were in a hurry would be my target customer. Unfortunately, that would make for a rather crabby customer base.

It’s not that I think hot dogs are the greatest food of all-time. They are not. Although they are a great food choice for picky eaters at a fair or festival. And sometimes a hot dog just hits the spot.

Although, according to the book “Never Put Ketchup On A Hot Dog” (I used to send copies of this book out to stores at my old job), I am sacrilegious because I usually only eat ketchup on my hot dog (and sometimes onions). But, as my mom would say, “Hot dogs are just made of the leftover parts the meat companies can’t use for anything else”. So why should it matter what way I choose to consume it?

I love hot dogs the most because of the kitsch/camp factor. Hot dog advertising over the years is so cute and happy. Just picture the smiling, dancing hot dog with his friends popcorn and fountain pop on the drive-in movie screen. And think of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. (But that is a whole post of it’s own. Someday.)

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile at Ned Skeldon Stadium (now torn down)

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile at Ned Skeldon Stadium (now torn down)

Over the years I have purchased items with hot dogs on them, and in the back of my mind I always thought maybe I would use them someday in my hot dog stand or as a decoration on the shelf that would go around inside my stand, up by the ceiling.

Hot Dog Towel

Hot Dog Towel

On Mackinac Island, there is a yellow hotel across the street from the Straits of Mackinac. It has a little hot dog stand in front of it between the street and the water painted up yellow and white, just like the hotel. I took a picture of it so that I could remember it as a model for Jennifer’s Wiener Hut.

Hotel and Hot Dog Stand on Mackinac Island

Hotel and Hot Dog Stand on Mackinac Island

The gas station I dreamed of converting is long since torn down. But I still think it is a good idea. And because I would be the owner, I would hire other people to actually work in the hot, steamy, tiny kitchen. I would just beam with pride that I own a business with my name on it and am making money from it.

And if the hot dog stand didn’t work out, I could use the same name for a male strip club ๐Ÿ˜‰

What I Learned This Week – 8/25/13

On Sunday, my family and I went to the Day Out with Thomas event at the Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad in Flint, Michigan. This is our second year. It was kind of nice to know what to expect.

I wanted to look at all the Thomas stuff they had set up for the kids. My husband wanted to look at all the historical stuff at Crossroads Village that is always there, because he is into that sort of thing. My son just seemed pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing. He mostly just wanted to play with the toys that were set up. So much so, that he threw a glorious fit when we removed him from the gift shop toy table. He was not the only child throwing a fit when they were forced to leave that area. But, as i don’t have good behavior to brag about, I will boast that his fit was the loudest and most impressive.

My husband spent a lot of time walking around hand in hand with my son. I spent a lot of time pushing the stroller and taking pictures with the camera. Not quite the cozy family outing I had hoped for (In my head, I am holding hands with my husband, as we both push the stroller with my quiet, well-behaved child in it *sigh*), but we all said we had fun at the end of the day. I think my husband wouldn’t have taken a stroller at all. But it was worth it, because the Thomas-themed bag I took weight a ton, mostly from the full water bottles in the bottom. (Why pay $1.50 at the Village, when you can buy them for $.89 at the Speedway gas station on the way!) I consider an outing a success if we make it home with all the stuff we left with.ย  And we did.

The BEST part of the day was when we rode on the double-decker paddle boat on the lake at the end of the day. We just caught the last boat as it was about to leave. I got to sit! There was shade! There was cool breeze! There was fresh sea lake air!

CHILDREN WERE MELTING DOWN ALL OVER THE PARK!

BUT WE WERE NOT IN THE PARK! WE WERE ON THE LAKE!

Of course, some of the children on the boat were melting down too. I fortified my son with some crackers and cookies and we were good til he got in his car seat and passed out as we got on the expressway to head home.

Because most of you probably don’t give a flying fig about Thomas, I will post here my arty-fartsy pics from that day.

If you want to see Thomas, pop over to my Facebook page and I will post a couple over there.

If any of you reading this happen to have a little engineer at home and want to make them a Thomas cake for their birthday, you can click here for my own experience. (Go on, check it out. It is lopsided, but still kinda cute!)

A building at Crossroads Village

A building at Crossroads Village

Cider press

Cider press

A quiet train ride moment, frozen in time

A quiet train ride moment, frozen in time

Barns from the boat

Barns from the boat

Dam from the boat, with birds

Dam from the boat, with birds

Boat from the boat

Boat from the boat

Love my new camera, but sometimes the pictures it takes are very devoid of color. Maybe that is a problem that happens with the zoom. Anyone with any photographic advice on how to get more colorful pictures, I would love to hear it. I just have a little Panasonic DMC-SZ3.

And if your advice is “Buy a better camera”, I will delete your comment. Oh yes, I have that power…

My Pseudo Dad

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As I have mentioned here before, my dad died before I was born. I grew up watching sitcom fathers on television. I went to my best friend’s house and watched her father (I can only think of one friend whose house I regularly visited in my my teenage years who had a father in their daily life).

What did I learn from all this observation?

I learned that a dad’s job is to make sure your car gets fixed properly.

I bought my first car in 1997. Since that time I have thought of the Service Manager at my local GM dealership as my Pseudo Dad.

pseudo
adjective
1. not actually but having the appearance of; pretended; false or spurious; sham.
2. almost, approaching, or trying to be.

http://dictionary.reference.com

He is old enough to be my Dad, but he is maybe 5 years younger than my mother. That would make him about 20 years younger than my actual dead dad.

You can’t argue with my logic. He always makes sure my car gets fixed.

Me in my first car. 1989 Pontiac Grand Am

Me in my first car. 1989 Pontiac Grand Am

I present to you some semi-boring examples of car repair below.

My first car, a 1989 Pontiac Grand Am, started making very bad banging sounds when I went over bumps. I thought it might be a problem with the shock. I was partially correct. The problem was a hole had rusted right through the trunk, and now my shock was actually in my trunk. I made arrangements to get it fixed the same afternoon. My pseudo dad called me that evening to tell me about a friend of his who could fix it at a discount for me. As I had already dropped my car off somewhere else, I didn’t take him up on it. In retrospect, I probably could have saved some money if I had taken his recommendation.

On one occasion, I took in my second car, a 1994 Pontiac Grand Am, to get the oil changed. It had been making a bad sound when I drove, but as I had no money to get it fixed, I was ignoring it. Well, it turned out it was a bad wheel hub or bearing or one of those things in your wheel that is expensive and goes bad regularly on all the Pontiacs I have ever owned. My Psuedo Dad wanted to fix it right then, but he could tell from my questions that that wasn’t my plan. He asked why, so I told him. I didn’t have any money until I got my paycheck, which would be a week away. He had the mechanic do the repair on my car. All I paid for that day was the oil change. They trusted me to come back in a week and actually pay them several hundred dollars, which I did. My husband would say that it was probably some sort of critical repair that they weren’t allowed by law to let me leave without repairing it. But no one told me that at the time. So I choose to believe that my Pseudo Dad was just trying to help me out.

On another visit to the dealership (Probably for an oil change. I am pretty diligent about those. 203,000 miles on my current car proves that it is a smart strategy.) with the same 1994 Grand Am, my Pseudo Dad noticed that I had a sock tied to my drivers side mirror. Now, there was a logical reason for this. A semi had ripped my side mirror loose in a freak freeway entrance ramp merge gone bad. It was only hanging from the cords that connected it to the handle inside the car for adjustment. I tied the sock to the mirror so that it would prevent/reduce the mirror from scratching up the paint on the side of my car as it bounced around. My Pseudo Dad asked me if that is how I was drying my laundry. He found it very amusing. I did eventually get the mirror replaced, but I never got it painted. So the replaced mirror was flat black and the original one was glossy black.

A few months back, I thought my 2004 Pontiac Aztek was dead for good. I went to run an errand. I shut my car off and ran inside. When I returned to my car, it would not start at all. I had had no problem starting it 5 minutes before when I was at home. And it started to do this weird buzzing thing, where the needles on all my gauges would bounce up and down in sync with the buzzing. I left the car and walked home. I was afraid it would blow up.ย  (That would have been REALLY bad.ย  I left it in the parking lot of my insurance agent.ย  If my car burns down their building, do they still have to pay out the insurance for my car?) The next day we made a plan to take it up to the dealership to pronounce it dead. My husband ended up letting the tow truck company take it back to their garage, because he thought maybe it was just the battery. (Just a battery? But the thing WAS TICKING LIKE A TIME BOMB!) When I called to cancel the appointment with my Pseudo Dad, he talked to me for about 10 minutes, explaining how to check the voltage to see if it was a bad battery vs. a bad alternator. And he explained how a low battery can set off the anti-theft device. (I was not even aware that my car HAD an anti-theft device!)

When it comes to car repair, Pseudo Dads and GM Service Managers know what they are talking about. I don’t think my Pseudo Dad is still the manager. I think he has stepped back and is helping to train the new manager. Which is fine, as long as he is still there. Hopefully his retirement and my purchase of my dream car, a Jeep Wrangler, will coincide with each other.

My Pseudo Dad does not have the conventional looks of a sitcom dad. But, I am proud to call him my fake dad. Except that I don’t tell him I think of him that way. Because, you know, that would be weird…

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