Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How old are you?

from wikimedia commons/author rich007
So I'm proving a point AND writing my blog.  I can blog and watch TV at the same time.  I can watch TV and blog at the same time.  Cool.

So I'm watching this special on PBS; Paul McCartney, 'scuse me, SIR Paul McCartney is receiving the Gershwin Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting.  I didn't know what the special was about; I'll admit I was channel-surfing looking for anything when I spotted Sir McCartney being interviewed about the upcoming performances.  I thought he was doing all the singing, but it turns out he opened the performances and then relinquished the stage.

I started thinking about age because Sir McCartney sounds darn good for his age!  I mean, the man is in his 60's and, though his voice roughens on the upper notes, he sounds like the Paul McCartney I listened to in high school.  I watched the Obamas and realized they were 15-20 years younger than Sir McCartney.  (I looked it up:  McCartney was born in 1942 and Obama in 1961.)  Holy cow!  Barack and Michelle  probably didn't even listen to Wings when they were in high school!  President Obama is just a year older than my sister; I wonder if he was a fan of Shaun Cassidy, too.  (smirk)  The smirk is for my sister; she doesn't like being reminded of her high school crush.  

So first Sir McCartney sang "Got to Get You Into My Life".  Then Stevie Wonder sang - and Stevie sounds great and looks great, too.  Then the announcer introduced the Jonas Brothers.  Who?  The cameras panned to the two Obama girls; they were lit up like Christmas trees!  Oh yea, the Jonas Brothers.  They came out and sang a Beatles hit (They were singing it when I started typing and I've forgotten the song  I'm going on memory here, folks.)  and they were GREAT!  They could have been the young Beatles; their voices were pitch perfect and their accompaniment was spot on.  The Obama girls were experiencing the Beatles almost as I experienced them.  Young, good-looking guys singing and having a great time.

(Elvis Costello is singing Penny Lane right now.  Not so pitch-perfect, but hey!  it's Elvis Costello!)

The whole age thing blows me away at times.  Last week I was taking my morning vitamins and our summer intern Jenn was watching me.

"Fish oil," I explained.

"Oh," she nodded.  "My grandfather takes that."


Thursday, July 22, 2010

the more things stay the same....

When I walked through the kitchen door yesterday the first thing I saw was garbage all over the floor.  I gasped, but I did not yell or scream or flail my arms.  As I stood there the FLB* trotted up with his tail wagging.  I glared at him and pointed at the mess.  He looked.  Then he remembered.  Oh.  His tail lowered and his whole body slumped.  All I said was, "Bed.".  He slunk off to his doggie bed.

I didn't have to clean up the worst of the garbage: a handful of chicken fat cut from some chicken breasts, gooey barbecue sauce, and a hairball cleaned up a couple days ago.  The FLB* ate those treats.  So my part of the cleanup was pretty quick.

Of course I'm waiting for the denouement.  He ate raw chicken fat and a hairball.  I'm sure there will be some gagging drama in the middle of the night soon.  Sigh.

After I cleaned up the mess and did some other chores I decided to release the FLB* from his timeout and take him outside.  I wanted to get my two new plants out of the car.  One plant with tiny purple flowers at the end of its long green leaves looked like it had some white spots on some of the leaves, so I decided to leave it outside and spray-wash it for a few days before bringing it into the house.  As I set the plant on my patio a tiny 3"  lizard leaped from the plant to my hand.  I heard a shriek and I think there were some body tremors before the lizard jumped from my hand to the patio.  I'm proud to say I did not wet my pants...not even a little.

I do have some sad news.  My houseplant palm tree did not survive.  I'm not sure what happened.  This was the plant that the FLB* liked to sniff around and stare at.  I thought I watered it carefully but it started to yellow and brown and before long it was dead.  When I took it to the street to be added to the yard waste pile I thought I saw the blinds move in my living room.  Was the FLB* watching me?  Was he...laughing?
I purchased a replacement palm last week and so far it looks wonderful in the living room and the FLB* seems to be ignoring it.

I have some great news, too.  I have a new grandson.  Evan Philip Carter was born less than 30 minutes before Fathers' Day.  He is beautiful and sweet and cuddly.  Here is his one month old picture:

And this is little Evan with his big brother 3-yr-old Noah.  It looks like Noah is sucking the brain right out of Evan, but he's counting to 5 while kissing his little brother - as directed by his mom so she can get the photo.

*FLB = Harley, mixed terrier.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bumper Crop

I drive an 11-year-old VW Cabrio.  I love my car.  It is black and has a black canvas convertible top.  (This is its second top since its first top was vinyl and mildewed and rotted after just a couple years.  I held it together with duct tape for awhile - attractive! - then finally invested in the new top.)  I have no car payments and no plans to ever sell or trade in my Cabrio.  This year became the pivotal year when I decided that it wasn't worth paying for comprehensive insurance due to the Kelly Blue Book value and probable insurance payout in case of a severe accident.  All these factors led to a momentous decision.

I added bumper stickers to my car.

I love bumper stickers - especially sarcastic, funny, cynical, outrageous bumper stickers.  I started conservatively:  a round sticker advertising my favorite beachside restaurant:  FA Cafe.  Then I added an oval sticker advertising the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum.  Last summer I added a black and white bumper sticker for my favorite local band.  The bumper sticker just lists their web site and says:
MID-LIFECRISIS.NET.  Most people who see it don't think it's for a band.  giggle.

Next was SAVE THE TATAS.  The pink breast cancer ribbon on the sticker has mostly faded in our bright sun, so many don't get the reference.  I've had more than one person (including my sister!) ask, "What's a tata?"  It has special meaning for me - not because I've had breast cancer, though I had a tiny scare a couple years ago, phew! - but because my granddaughter uses that term for breasts.  She once lifted her tee shirt and shouted "TATAS!" while on a scenic boat cruise with her parents.  For no reason other than she wanted to - she was 2.

I bought a round LIFE IS GOOD bumper sticker with the brand's little terrier dog holding a marshmallow over a campfire.  A nod to my FLB*.

I was on a roll now.  Local shop Notions 'n' Potions carries a nice selection of fun bumper stickers.  And I was ready to make a statement.  So my two favorite bumper stickers now ride proudly on my car's rear:
One reads:  DON'T PISS ME OFF.  I'M RUNNING OUT OF PLACED TO HIDE THE BODIES.  I think it meshes nicely with the Life is Good message.  My #1 fave though is:


Short and sweet.  True.  I LOVE IT.  I was nervous at first, certain some gunrack-totin', tobacco-chewin', FoxNewsGlennBeckRushFanatic would trash my car or shout at me in traffic.  Nothing happened.  People at work noticed the stickers and teased me about them.  Then one Friday it happened.  A pick-em-up truck pulled up behind me at a red light, then pulled around to the lane on my left.  The passenger lowered his window and yelled, "Hey!"  I looked at him.  "Love your bumper sticker!  Eve WAS framed.  By a bunch of lying men!"  I stared at him for a couple of seconds, then laughed and gave him a thumbs up.  WOW!  What a surprise.

Since then several women have mentioned to me - in parking lots usually - that they love that bumper sticker.      Then it happened again.  I was driving over the 312 Bridge - my sister riding shotgun and my granddaughter Kinsey strapped safely in her car seat in the back - when a sporty car pulled up behind me then pulled around.  When we slowed for the traffic light after the bridge two good-looking surfer guys hollered, "Love your bumper sticker - Eve WAS framed!"  More thumbs up all around and they sped on by.  

My newest is a gift from a friend at work (Carolee):  WILL WORK BECAUSE I HAVE TO.  I thought of putting it on the FRONT of my car so the young and healthy panhandlers flashing their cardboard signs at me in the afternoons could read it.  

This afternoon I was cruising home from work with all the windows down listening to jazz on Flager College Radio.  I heard someone yelling and turned off my radio.  Two women were riding beside me and we were slowing for a traffic light.  One yelled, "What does the rest of your bumper sticker say?  The one about DON'T PISS ME OFF?"  I laughed and yelled, "I'M RUNNING OUT OF PLACES TO HIDE THE BODIES!"  She laughed, then repeated what I said to her companion and they both cackled.  The light changed, I flashed her an ironic peace sign, and drove off.

Life IS Good.
*Freakin' Little Bastard

Thursday, April 22, 2010

One of the pleasures of my job (I work at a B&B.) is meeting new and interesting people.  Today a nice-looking man was brewing hot tea in our lobby when I was walking through.  Our eyes met and I commented on drinking hot tea when it was in the 80's outside.  (It was NOT a wisecrack; it was a friendly observation.)  This led to a long discussion where I learned so many fascinating things about him:
  •  He grew up in Viet Nam in Saigon.  It was tradition to keep a hot pot of tea going all day.  All guests were always offered a cup of tea.  They also believed that drinking hot beverages helped them to feel cool in the tropical heat of (South) Viet Nam.  
  • His grandfather was a physician who was well-known in Saigon and who believed in treating the whole person and had a lot of ideas about eating and taking care of yourself that are becoming more popular today.  Joey (he introduced himself as Joey and I'm not sure if this is the correct spelling or not - he's very Americanized so it may be...) didn't speak until he was 5 and his family believed he might be "stupid" (his word), so no one paid much attention to what they said around him.  He spent all his time with his grandfather at his practice and said he knew all about menopause, having babies, and many other things by the time he was 5!  
  • His grandfather came to America with the rest of the family, and died at the age of 88 when he was hit by a car.  This happened in Pensacola, FL.  An autopsy was performed because the Highway Patrol wanted to blame the accident on an "old drunk or drugged man" (meaning a foreigner) and the autopsy showed him to be not only alcohol and drug-fee, but he had the body of a 68-yr old.  This happened back in 1987.  The driver was never charged.  
  • Joey is in the Air National Guard.  He is 50 yrs old and looks 40.  (And I only guessed 40 because he has some gray hair.)  He says at his physical training for the Guard he outruns much-younger men all the time and loves it!
What a delight he is - and what stories he must have!  I wish I could have spent much more time with him, but I WAS working.  I filled my coffee thermos with hot green tea and drank that this afternoon.  It was weird and I didn't feel cooler, but I'm going to keep at it.  He also drinks room temperature water as needed.

I'm glad to be back on my blog.  I deviated from my "no tv for one year" project by getting into hulu too much.  And while my family was visiting for spring break they hooked the TV back up and I've had several wasted evenings back in my old habits.  I heard on the radio today that hulu will start charging for their service in May or June so that will put an end to that.  Bummer.  It's kind of cool to pick and choose what to watch and when.  For free.  I'm not PAYING for it.  So I'm baaaccckkk.  I've got some stories - after all, I spent 4 days/3 nights in VEGAS BABY recently, and the wildlife is stirring here in NE Florida. 

PS Harley is alive and well.  He hacked up a 4" hairball yesterday. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Go Into the Light! Go Into the Light!

Finally - finally - finally.  Sunshine and warm temperatures.  This morning it was 50 degrees - the warmest it has been in the morning in months.  And...what's this?  The forecast is for mid-70's tomorrow, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday!  OK, so it's supposed to rain, too.  Who cares??  It will be wonderful to be wet and not freezing!!!  And next week starting on Monday - mid 70's all week!!!  Woo Hoo!!!

We Floridians can now stop bitching and moaning and whining and hibernating.  We can stop digging in our closets and storage units for gloves and thick socks and heavy jackets that we used to need only a couple of times a year.  We can turn off our heat pumps and quit listening to their asthmatic wheezing as they start up and shut down.  We can open our windows...we...can..grunt...o*p*e*n...bang!...our windows. 

The lawn guy was mowing my yard today when I arrived home from work.  I laughed out loud for joy!  It's been three months since I've seen a lawn service truck on our street.

My neighbor spotted our armadillo the other night.  Another sign it's warming up!  Can the snake-in-a-bucket be far behind? still, my heart....the tree frogs should start singing the next time it rains.  And mating in the driveway puddles.  And sticking to my backdoor.  YES!  And, Harley, the lizards should be sunning themselves soon, buddy!

Harley and I can go to the beach without dressing like we're hiking in Alaska.  I can dust off my sandals and put my socks away!  I can sit outside at FA Cafe!

Spring!  Spring!  I may dance naked in my backyard.  I may not.  Spring!  Spring!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Life's Soundtrack: Part Two

As I was saying....

I do believe that our Baby Boomer generation may be the first who really have their own soundtrack.  Not that our parents didn't enjoy music, but theirs just wasn't as portable and as personal as ours.  We were the first with small transistor radios and earplugs (No, Apple didn't invent the tiny earplug, children.)

I spent the 80's raising two daughters and still listened to music as much as I could, but I was BUSY.  My daughters' soundtracks became mine in some ways.  At first we listened to my musical choices.  I was really pleased that they enjoyed listening to oldies from the 60's.  Then they got old enough to request "their" radio stations. (What?  You don't want to listen to Oldies with Mom?)  I grit my teeth and tried to like Duran Duran, Aerosmith, MC Hammer, and Vanilla Ice.  We all liked Richard Marx, Michael Jackson, and Janet Jackson, but I didn't like Duran Duran, Pearl Jam and Madonna.

As they gained more independence in the 90's, so did I.  I spent the 90's detangling myself from my marriage, and dealing with all the feelings divorce and loss brought to my life.  I dealt with my anger by listening to Sinead O'Connor and singing her bitter and angry lyrics over and over in the kitchen while cooking or cleaning.  I saw the  movie Thelma and Louise  in the spring of 1991 (four times!) and purchased the soundtrack immediately.  The soundtrack included the haunting "Ballad of Lucy Jordan" by Marianne Faithfull which had reached out and touched me in the movie.  Listening to it strengthened my resolve and kept me grounded.

My sister introduced me to the Indigo Girls around this time and I fell in love with their harmonies and their lyrics.  I had been an avid fan of Simon and Garfunkle and not felt or heard anything comparable since they had broken up.  The Indigo Girls sang about learning to judge yourself and not letting others judge you ("Closer to Fine"),  the pain of indecision ("Watershed"), and the healing that  hard work can bring ("Hammer and a Nail").    As I ricocheted between denial, anger, depression, acceptance, and back again,  I listened and sang Amy and Emily's lyrics and felt understood.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

10 Positive Effects of this Freakin' Cold Weather and Rain

1.  I had fun shopping for rain boots with my granddaughter.  I bought her bright yellow boots with a picture of a monkey on them.  I purchased pink ones (monkeyless) for myself.  Of course, we had to borrow scissors from the cashier to cut off the tags and strings, so we could both put on our boots (YOU TOO, GRENAH!) right there in front of God and everybody at Target.  Then, out in the freezing cold again, Kinsey spies a nice puddle and jumps in.  Yes, our feet stay dry.  Can't say that for my pants.
2.  Another cold Saturday is a good excuse to wear my Christmas snowflake earrings.  Oh, no.  I packed away all my Christmas stuff already.  Of course I did.  It's February in Florida.  Why would I keep out snowflake earrings?  duh!
3.  The local vegetation is getting watered.  Well, what's left of it.  So much has been killed off by the freezing cold temperatures that NE Florida is going to look like Death Valley this summer.
4.  Snowbirds are here and business is good.  But, even our snowbirds are getting cranky.  After all, they travel all the way here from Michigan and Ohio and Canada to get away from bad weather.   Saying a bright "Good morning!" in the library or Publix parking lot to someone with out of state plates can get you run over.
5.  Isn't it wonderful to spread joy and laughter?  That's what happened today when I asked various salespeople if they had any gloves left.  They laughed and laughed.  So glad I could brighten their day.
5.  The local wildlife which enjoys terrorizing me has not been spotted in a while - no tree frogs, no armadillos, no snakes.  No, they are all safe and warm in their burrows having lots of sex so they can have millions of babies when spring does arrive.

There are no more positive effects.  It's either cold and wet...or cold and sunny.  It sucks.
49 out of 50 states had snow yesterday.   Stupid Hawaii.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Life's Soundtrack: Part One

I believe that we are the first generation (Baby Boomers) who live with a soundtrack in our heads. 

Our parents were born in the 1920's and grew up in the Depression.  They listened to radio programs, went to movies, and marveled at TVs invading their homes in the 1950's.  Music was important to their generation; they sang and danced to the jazz and big band styles that were popular.  Rosemary Clooney, Artie Shaw, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and the Dorsey Brothers defined 1940's music and provided a lot of the soundtrack to our parents' generation especially during WWII.  After the war our parents settled down, raised families, and music often took a backseat to the TV in the home. 

Most of us Boomers don't remember the days before TV.  Most of us grew up with Saturday morning double features.  I think I can say, though, that we are the generation where music became our constant.  The first of the Baby Boomers embraced the rockabilly sounds of Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard.  Hank Williams brought country and western music to a national audience.  And then there was Elvis.  A lot of parents and people in authority didn't like Elvis's music and dancing, and that just made him all the more appealing to the younger generation. 

Middle Boomers thrilled to the emergence of Rock'n'Roll and the British invasion. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, and other artists contributed to the restlessness of the younger population unhappy with the war in Viet Nam, corporate and government corruption, and the status quo. The Civil Rights Movement would not have been the same without its own soundtrack of We Shall Overcome, Oh Freedom, and Blowin in the Wind.

What set both Black and White Boomers apart from their parents, I believe, was the transistor radio.  We were the first to carry around a small radio with an earplug so we could listen to "our" music any time we wanted.  We could listen by ourselves or share with our friends.  We carried radios to the beach, to picnics, and family barbeques. 

In addition to my transistor radio I had a record player and later a small stereo in my bedroom, and that's where I spent all of my spare time.  I danced and sang to all my favorite artists.  I inserted their lyrics and their songs into my life as my soundtrack.  When I left home for college the most important piece of equipment I took with me was my stereo.  It didn't matter that my roommate had one, too.  We sampled each other's favorite artists (on 8-track tapes by then) and found our horizons expanding.  We went to sleep to her radio every night.

This love of music and having it around all the time has continued throughout my life, except when I was first married.  I got married in 1973 and had my first child in 1976.  I don't really remember a lot of music during those years, but when I go back and research those days, I see the popularity of The Who and the Rolling Stones, neither of which were my favorites.  The Beatles had broken up and I was not fond of John Lennon at that time.  I liked some Chicago songs and bought one of their albums, but it never was a favorite.  Disco?  Uh, no.  No wonder there was a gap.  And remember, in those ancient days before CDs, iPods, MP3s, and the Internet, there was just the radio for music.  And not a lot of choices there. 

Certain songs bring back times of my life so vividly that I can see, smell, and almost touch those days. 

The Name Game written and recorded by Shirley Ellis (1964): After school - late afternoon -playing outside and hearing that song for the first time  - wow, what was that?  Play it again!

Elton John's Crocodile Rock and Carly Simon's You're So Vain (1973): Winter quarter at Reinhardt College, first time living away from home, having a boyfriend and being in love.

Billy Joel's I Love You Just the Way You Are (1977):  Driving my baby to the babysitter's house before work, and picking her up after work, and singing that song to her at the top of my voice. 

Jimmy Buffet's Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes (1977) Dancing around my living room with my baby girl.

What about you?  What songs evoke vivid memories for you?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Venturing Out....Back in the Saddle Again

I am searching for writing support and it has been a slow, gradual process. I attended a book festival back in September, then attended a meeting of the Ancient City Writers in October.  November and December screamed by with family visits and the holidays.  In January I missed the first class of a Creative Writing Class by one day. I consoled myself with the thought that it was really an "Introduction" to Creative Writing Class and I hoped I was beyond the "Introduction" part of writing.  I also determined I would not let any more opportunities pass me by!

I found a Sisters in Crime group meeting in Jacksonville the first Saturday of the month, so I made plans to attend the February meeting.  Since my granddaughter Kinsey was spending the night Friday night (her parents' wedding anniversary) I knew I would have to be razor sharp Saturday morning to get us both up, dressed, fed, and out the door in time to make my meeting more than 40 miles away.  My plan included a list of errands, a quick bite to eat, a quick trip to Publix, and then playtime at home before bedtime.  Friday evening clicked by right on schedule and Grenah and granddaughter were both in bed by 9:00pm and asleep by 9:30!

Harley helped out by jumping on the bed and waking us both up at 2:00am to be let out!  *FLB!!!!  He has never done that before!  I woke up enough to leash him up, take him out (with Kinsey holding my hand - "It's DARK, Grenah!"), bring us all back inside, and get Kinsey and myself settled back into bed.  She went back to sleep immediately.  I tossed and turned and finally dropped off after 2:30am. 

Saturday morning dawned foggy and damp and chilly.  I showered while Kinsey watched Milo and Otis in my bedroom.   We had a quick breakfast and took the *FLB (AKA Kinsey's "BEST FRIEND HAHRY") for his morning walk.  We packed up her things and I dropped her at her mom's house about 15 minutes behind schedule.  I tore up US1 to Jacksonville and only made one wrong turn before I found the SE Branch of the Jacksonville Library. 

The presentation had already begun, but the secretary Pam was gracious and signed me up as a new member and took down my information.  I found a seat - not too hard, there were only about 10 people in attendance.  The speaker was a traffic accident reconstructionist who also investigated crime scenes.  He had brought a slide presentation of an actual case and he demonstrated step by step how he started with the evidence at a crime scene and then worked backwards to see how each piece of the scene ended up where it did.  Among other things he had to determine where the shooters were standing, how they were standing (upright? crouched?), where the victim was standing, how he was standing, the path of the bullets from starting point to ending point, etc.  The main differences between real life and the CSI shows seem to be: 1. CSI's don't solve crimes in real life, and 2. what happens in less than an hour on TV can take weeks in real life.  He logged 178 hours on just this one case in Alabama.

After the talk I met a couple of the members and found out about their book club, too.  Networking, it's all about the networking.  One of their future speakers teaches a Creative Writing class - great!  I received a great boost from attending this meeting and getting "out of my comfort zone". 

I ran an errand and treated myself to lunch, then drove home on A1A with the ocean on my left, sun shining brightly through my windshield, and my windows down to catch the breeze.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

4 Months and Counting Since I Unplugged the TV....

My cousin Nina mentioned to me (by email) that I hadn't talked about living without TV in awhile.  Funny.  That was the focus of my blog when I started. 

I used to come home after work and turn on the TV.  First thing.  Now my TV only gets turned on when I watch my two Netflix movies per month, or when I watch a DVD.  I watched Get Shorty a couple weeks ago.  I love that movie.  I also watched a VHS tape (OMG!) of It's a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve.  My daughter gave me the DVD of Inglourious Basterds for Christmas, but I haven't taken the plastic off yet.  Watching my TV set has become an "event" instead of just background noise in my condo. 

That being said I have found that the Internet is just as addicting and time-consuming as TV.  I boot up my laptop every evening and
  1. Check my facebook account.  OMG facebook.  I don't spend as much time on facebook as I did when I first signed up.  I don't play Farmville anymore.  BUT I do spend a lot of time commenting on my friends' posts and clicking on links - and then those links often lead to other links - and more links.
  2. Check my Google mail.  I set this account up when some A-hole hijacked my Yahoo address book on Christmas Day and sent all my contacts emails with ads for Canadian Viagra.  I actually had one friend who asked why I had sent it to her.  sigh.  I think it hurt her feelings that I thought she needed Canadian Viagra.  I had to explain the hijacking thing and then I pointed out (kindly, I thought) that WOMEN  don't take Viagra anyway.  dur.  (BTW... is Canadian Viagra different than American Viagra?  I've never dated a Canadian guy....)
  3. Check my Yahoo mail.  Because some people will NEVER update my email address to the new Google address no matter how many times I ask them.
  4. Check my Hotmail mail.  Because there are still a couple people who have never updated to the Yahoo mail.  I must be the most patient friend in the world. 
  5. Check my Blogger home page and read the Blogs I'm following.  Sometimes I comment on their blogs, or click on the blogs  they are following and so on and so on.
  6. Check my bank account.  That doesn't take long.  sigh.
  7. Read the local paper online because someone always wants to TALK to me during my break at work when I'm TRYING to read the local paper. Reading the paper online tends to lead to reading the Jacksonville news online which can lead to watching short video clips of interest.
  8. And maybe write something on my own blog.
Seriously, I was doing all this online stuff AND watching TV before I unplugged the TV so I don't feel too bad about it.  It does cut into my WRITING.

As far as TV is concerned the Winter Olympics, the Oscars, and some TV series I miss will be on.  When I was a kid, if I missed an episode of something, that was it.  I had one chance to maybe catch the rerun in the summer.  Now, between listening to the radio and accessing the Internet, information is always available.  If I'm still interested next September when my project is complete, I can Netflix or Hulu to my heart's content and catch up on my favorite story lines and characters.  We'll see.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

St. Augustine: an afternoon stroll

One of the joys of working in downtown St. Augustine is being able to play tourist.  I brought my camera to work today and promised myself an afternoon of taking pictures and just walking around.  I looked forward to it all day.

At the end of my workday I stuffed a few dollars into my pants pocket and unhooked my car key from my main key chain.  I pocketed my car key and put the rest of my keys in my purse.  I debated taking my cell phone, then put it in my other pocket.  I left my office about 3:15pm (I work 7am-3pm with just a short breakfast break at 10:00.) and placed my purse in the trunk of my car.  I slung my camera over my shoulder and strolled out of the parking lot.  Even though the sun was shining brightly it was still pretty cold, and I found myself hunching in my corduroy jacket.  I pulled the sleeves down around my cold fingers and picked up my pace.

As I walked past houses dating back to the late 1800's I watched for good photo opportunities.  I also watched where I was stepping because the sidewalks are uneven and St. George Street is paved with brick to give it that old cobblestone look.  I've stumbled more than once because I stepped into a hole while I was staring at some interesting piece of architecture! 

I turned east on Bridge Street and I could see the Matanzas River sparkling in the afternoon sunlight.  I walked a couple blocks east and snapped this photo.  The building on the left is the Kenwood Inn  - notice how it's built right on the street. 

I backtracked to Aviles Street (the oldest street in the oldest city) and walked past the Casa de Solana Bed & Breakfast whose main building was erected about 1803 or so.  Then past a series of shops that beckoned to me with antique maps and books, jewelry, pottery, and art.  Today I would not succumb to the temptation of shopping.  I was on a mission to relax, take photos, and enjoy my town.

If you're walking north on Aviles Street it ends at the Plaza de la Constitucion.  Most southern towns have a square in the middle of town.  Because our city was planned and built by the Spanish we have a plaza.  It is rectangular and contains several monuments, a gazebo, large, stately trees - cedars and live oaks mostly, a structure known as The Market, and several cannons.  I strolled around the plaza and snapped some pictures and just enjoyed being outside. I even sat for a few minutes on a bench, but it was still too cold to do that for long.

I turned my attention back to walking and headed over to St. George Street again.  North of the Plaza St. George Street becomes a pedestrian walkway bordered by shops and restaurants.  I hurried because I was not shopping today and quickly turned east on Hypolita Street.  Facing east I could see the waterfront again.  Tourists were out in abundance enjoying the sunshine and warmer temperatures.  I passed two cafes that had recently closed.  The economic downturn has wreaked havoc on our locally-owned restaurants and shops.  I slowed as I passed Claude's Chocolates, but I did not stop.  Claude is French and crafts the most exquisite Belgian chocolates...I must stop as my mouth is watering.  The light looked interesting on Charlotte Street so I headed north.  A large motel backs up to Charlotte Street on the east side of the street so no photo ops there.  I turned west on Cuna Street and noticed that a toy store had been replaced by a book shop.  I made a note to come back and spend some time browsing in there! 

By this time I had been walking for 45 minutes and I was getting cold and thinking a hot cup of coffee would be delicious.  I turned left on St. George Street and headed to Cafe de Hidalgo.  This little cafe serves delicious gelato, all kinds of delicious coffees, and sandwiches.  Just as I opened my mouth to order a coffee to go I saw the handwritten board that advertised Mexican Hot Chocolate.  Oh, my.  I ordered the Mexican Hot Chocolate.  Made with real chocolate (not a powdered mix), milk, cinnamon, and a dash of hazelnut, it sounded too wonderful to pass up.  The woman at the register said it would be about 5 minutes so I grabbed a small table and relaxed for a few minutes.

There was a couple sitting next to me - the man and woman looked to be in their early thirties.  A server brought out huge cups of coffee to them.  Then a server brought out a huge piece of apple pie a la mode and served it to the man.  I wasn't the only one who noticed; several of us were taking covert peeks at what looked like heaven-on-a-plate.  It was huge so the assumption was that the man and woman were sharing it, but no!  Another server brought out the biggest piece of cake I have ever seen!  Seriously, this looked to be almost a quarter of a very tall cake!  Someone at another table said, "I guess they're not sharing!" and giggled.  The woman who had ordered the cake looked mortified, but we all started giggling at the huge piece of cake and she seemed to relax.  She leaned over to me and offered to share.  I told her thanks, but no thanks.  I asked her where they were from, and she replied, "England".  I apologized for our extremely cold weather (We Floridians tend to take responsibility for the weather, you know.)  She said they were having a great time, and we agreed, "At least it's not raining!"  She added, "Or snowing!" and I had to tell her that we had had snow on Saturday just 30 miles south.  She was stunned and amazed.  I picked up my hot chocolate and bid them farewell.

I strolled back to my car - taking another 30 minutes or so to get there.  What a great afternoon!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

HARLEY - Six Years Old - and Counting...

I took down my Christmas trees today.  I was picking stray pieces of plastic and lint off the carpet when something caught my eye under my desk in one of Harley's beds(1).  I got down on my hands and knees, looked closely under my desk, and gasped.  Shards of glass glittered up from the brown and tan cotton-covered bottom of his bed.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  The *FLB had chewed up a glass ornament.

I looked at him.  He looked at me.  "What?!" he seemed to say.

You're probably thinking, "Well, did you rush him to the Emergency Clinic?"

You're new to this blog, aren't you.  No, I didn't rush him to the Emergency Clinic, and I probably won't mention it at his next vet appointment.  It's been weeks since I first put up the tree, and weeks since any ornaments would have hit the ground and not been noticed by me.  Whatever he's eaten or swallowed has been through his system and exited.  And, before you call PETA on me, I saw quite a bit of glass in there; it could be that he didn't swallow any of it.

Besides, sigh, this isn't the first time the *FLB has chewed on something or eaten something that should have, at the very least, made him really sick. 

He stole one of my granddaughter's small stuffed animal and hid it in his bed after one of her visits.  Sibling rivalry.  I found it and saw a small hole chewed in it and threw it away.  Later I was vacuuming the carpet and all of a sudden I heard, "clinkaclinkaclink" as a lot of small somethings rattled through the machine.  I stopped and, yes, got down on my hands and knees, and felt around his bed.  There were hundreds of small pearl-sized plastic balls next to his bed and in his bed.  Had he shaken them out of the little stuffed animal?  Probably.  If he'd sucked them out I think they would have been gooey with Harley liquids.  Had he thrown up recently?  No.  Anything unusual in his....spoor?  (Classy word, eh?)  No, but I don't get up close and personal with his...spoor.  I shrugged and cleaned up the rest of the little balls.

A co-worker and friend who has since returned to the Czech Republic (Hi, Luci!) created a beautiful and original Christmas gift with cookies and birthday candles.  I displayed it on my table under my Christmas tree for a weekend.  When I returned from work on Monday it was gone.  Not a gram of cookie or candle anywhere.  I interrogated the *FLB but he denied any knowledge of said gift.  I watched his...spoor...for several days and did see flashes of yellow, but chose not investigate further. 

When I brought this dog home from the pound he was one year old.  It was January.  So I celebrate his birthday in January.  The date is flexible; it depends when dog products go on sale and I find something inexpensive (CHEAP) and appropriate for the *FLB.  So far I haven't found anything that, A. the little guy wouldn't just chew and eat in one sitting (rubber/plastic), or B. something that the *FLB will use to spread stuff all over my carpet for months (braided rag chews).   His toys currently consist of :

1.  a small tire purchased by my brother that is advertised as INDESTRUCTIBLE and is made of tire-grade rubber.  I can vouch that, although the *FLB has invested many hours gnawing on the tire, it looks as new as the day he got it.
2. a rock that the *FLB stole from my office.  I brought the rock back from a beach in Nova Scotia.  It is a ragged piece of quartz and I was using it to prop open the compartment door where I keep my computer tower and modem.  Since both machines can run hot I like to keep the door propped open.  (Why did I buy a desk that had a closed compartment?  I don't know.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.)  So I used to use the rock to prop the door open, but I would come home from work and the rock would be missing.  I would find it in Harley's bed.  I finally gave up and let him keep it.  Although it does embarrass me when I have company and he brings out his rock.  "What's that?" they will ask.  sigh.  "That's his rock," I will explain.  "BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
3. a red and green un-stuffed thing from which all the stuffing has been removed and spread all over my house (I removed the squeaker); he just likes to chew on the fabric.

He used to have one of those really hard plastic Nylabones that's supposed to be safe for dogs, but I can't find it.

*FLB=Freakin' Little Bastard

(1)  In the Old Days dogs were lucky to have a towel or some other rag on which to sleep.  My childhood pets slept outside. Even Lassie slept on the floor at the foot of Timmy's bed - no special bed for Lassie!   Now they have dog beds and, evidently, one is not enough.  You should have a dog bed in every room so your dog will have somewhere safe and comfortable to sleep in every room.  (It's Me or the Dog)  Harley has a crate and 2 dog beds.  I am so politically correct. 

Friday, January 8, 2010


What the heck!?

OK.  This is Florida. Sunshine.  Beaches.  Oranges.  Manatees.  Miami Vice.  You know.

So, please, what the heck kind of weather forecast is this?

The HIGH for today was 39 and the LOW is 38?! 

And here's the latest:

Slight chance of snow flurries after midnight

I know you guys up north have no sympathy for us down here.  Please remember that it was just a few years ago we had hurricanes up the wazoo - back & forth & back & forth.  Then the next year - more hurricanes!  We were all over the news.  Remember?  Isn't that enough?  Before that (and before I moved here) it was the embarrassing 2000 election with the hanging chads.  And Floridians have been laughed at for decades about their early bird specials, old folks, swampland for sale, and cockroaches the size of small dogs.

What makes all the humiliation bearable is knowing that while you are freezing your cans off in January we are wearing shorts!  And when we are sweating in July with our 95 degree heat and 150 percent humidity we know that the rest of you will be shoveling snow out of your driveways so you can go to work in February!  So what if we have snakes in our backyards living under buckets?  You have constant rain and fog and cold weather during the winter.  Hurricanes?  You guys have earthquakes and fires and tornadoes and ice storms and blizzards!

So when we have a whole week of really cold weather we get crabby.  And when the weather forecasters have the nerve to mention the "snow" word....well, we can get downright ugly. 

I may just sleep until Friday - when it will be in peeking distance of 70 degrees.  BAH HUMBUG!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Ultimate Beauty Tool

I purchased a package of cotton swabs the other day and, as I had nothing better to do, I read the package. I was shocked at the variety of tasks that that these little cotton sticks could perform. 

First of all you can use them for FIRST AID.  Next time I cook dinner and I chop part of a finger off (I'm quite the chef, you know)  I am going to grab a cotton swab.  The cotton will absorb the blood and I can use the pressure from the stick to stop the bleeding.  I bet EMTs have to carry a boxful on their trucks.  Picture them arriving at a car wreck, or at a condo where a chef is bleeding to death from an amputated finger.  "Ralph, grab the cotton swabs! We have a bleeder!"  Cotton swabs make great splints also - as long as you have enough of them.

Second, you can use cotton swabs to CLEAN AND DUST ELECTRONICS.  I've been using those stupid cans of air to clean my laptop keyboard.  Silly me.  I have a couple TVs that are gathering dust, and an all-in-one printer/fax/scanner, and a CD player.  My goodness.  I'm going to have to buy more cotton swabs!

Third, BABY CARE.  The picture on the box shows a baby staring warily at a cotton swab sitting in front of his nose.  We all know where that cotton swab is going and it's not going to be pretty when it comes out.  I'm glad the box doesn't go into any more detail.  I really don't want to see boogers in advertising.  I don't have a baby and I don't plan on having a baby, but I do have two small grandchildren and a third on the way.  My granddaughter is 3 and seems to enjoy taking care of her own nose with her very own finger at this stage.  Maybe I'll give her a box of cotton swabs.

I don't see cotton swabs replacing baby wipes any time soon, though.  Gross.

Fourth, HOUSEHOLD USE.  The picture shows a cotton swab poised in front of a bathtub faucet.  Holy cow!  On my next vacation I'm going to take a case of cotton swabs and REALLY clean my tub!!! 

Fifth, but should have been FIRST:  ULTIMATE BEAUTY TOOL.  I've been using a putty knife to apply my makeup since I turned 50.  Dang, this sounds so much better.  A cotton swab has pure soft cotton and a flexible stick and I can use it not only to apply, blend, and touch up my make up, but also to remove it.  My face has quite a bit of....acreage....and it may take me some valuable time in the morning to apply and cover.  I know!  I can tape several together!  American ingenuity comes to the rescue!

For the life of me I can't remember why I bought the cotton swabs in the first place, but now I have dozens of uses for them.  So many things to do with them; I'm going to have to stock up!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

You're not the boss of me!

I had such good intentions for this week.  Put away all the Christmas stuff.  Get all my paperwork sorted, organized, shredded, filed, etc.  Normal household chores.  Maybe even start that walking thing - you know, exercise?

But it's cold.  I'm not talking chilly...I'm talking "freezin' butt cold" (as my friend Susan calls it).  It has stayed in the 40's and 50's during the days and below freezing at night.  My heat pump is set for 68 degrees - very "green" of me.   And it's COLD in my home.  I would never set my A /C to 68 degrees!  For one thing that would be a waste of energy and money.  For another thing it would be freakin' COLD in here!!!!  YET YET YET it has not been above 68 degrees in my home since Saturday.

All I want to do when I get home is wrap up in a quilt and get warm.  So I wrap up in my Grammy's crocheted quilt and then I snuggle in my big, fat chair, and I read.  Or I wear one of my two jackets and get on my laptop.  Or I eat - after all, that brings up the body temp considerably.  What haven't I done?  Put away the Christmas stuff.  Get ALL my paperwork sorted, organized, shredded, filed, etc.  Normal household chores.  And forget exercise!  It's COLD outside and I have little outerwear - a couple jackets, no gloves, no hats (unless sunhats & visors count), and no warm scarves.  And there's no way I'm stripping down to some stretch pants and a top and doing yoga in this cold meat-locker living room of mine.

I will admit that I have sorted a lot of paperwork and put a lot away - not all I had hoped.  AND I unloaded, reloaded, and ran the dishwasher.  But that's it.  That's all.

Well, whaddya know? hands are much warmer now.  Maybe a little tantrum was just what I needed.  I'm feeling much better and I believe I have some things to do .... after's only Tuesday!