Kids Really Do Say the Most Surprising Things – Part II

I have mentioned repeatedly the brilliant move I made when I married an engineer. Marrying an engineer means never having to call a repairman. To quote Ferris Bueller, “It’s so choice.”

We had been having problems with our pool pump. I watched Bob as he quickly diagnosed the problem. I’ll describe for you in layman’s terms what he did after pulling something or another apart. He looked at it. He then put the thingamajig back on the what’s-it-called saying he’d have to tackle it later. He didn’t have the right tools.

The next day after he came home from work, he kissed me hello as I cooked dinner and headed out back.

img_1607-1Layna, who is four, was happily doing puzzles on my iPad at the dining room table.

Just five minutes later, Bob was back inside. I asked him if he was going to work on the pump tonight and he said he just fixed it. “It’s easy when you have the right tool.”

I know I shouldn’t be amazed at him, but I still am. I winked at him and told him, “I think I got the right tool when I married you.”

Obviously, the compliment was wasted on Layna, who kept saying, “Bumpa is a tool? Bumpa is a tool?”

 

 

 

Kids Really Do Say the Most Surprising Things – Part I

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I am writing a few short blog posts inspired by those wonderful grandchildren of mine – my husband’s and my seven beautiful Valentines.

Four of these sweeties lived with us for the last five months of 2016, but I was too busy enjoying them to share some of the gems they left engraved on my heart.

It was a Saturday morning and Bob was getting ready to leave the house. We were checking with each other regarding our upcoming day. Bob said he was going to Home Depot, the pool store, and then he was going for a massage.

My sweet Ella

My sweet Ella

Ella, who is eleven, was watching our conversation. She looked at me and said, “Grandmom, I think Bumpa is cheating on you.”

Bob was pretty much speechless at this point. (Children will do that to you.)

Not being sure how savvy Ella is, I asked what she meant.

“I think he’s spending all of your money.”

“Well, I assured her. I don’t earn any money. I’m the one that spends his.”

That satisfied her, but left me wondering how she thinks I generate an income. I guess she figures I’m usually the one of us that takes her out and buys her stuff, so perhaps I have a secret job that I find time to do while she is sleeping. That also would explain why I take a nap in the afternoon. After all, it probably has nothing to do with all the kids in the house.

 

Wicked Weather

The forecast was foreboding, but we didn’t let the tornado warnings keep us from our Wicked plan. We arrived at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando before the storm hit, and we remained ensconced in the magical Land of Oz until after it blew through. (Thankfully, there were no tornadoes here, but it was windy enough for us to think about calling Auntie Em.)


Our seats were in the second row of the balcony, so in the middle of Act 1 when the place started buzzing (literally buzzing), we had a bird’s-eye view of the auditorium. Hundreds of silenced cell phones alerted us to the fact that wicked weather was on the horizon. We were all momentarily distracted from being immersed in the play. Cell phones were checked, but nobody left. Why would we – we were already in a windowless room.

As they say, the show must go on, and it did. The performance was wonderful. The cast didn’t miss a beat during the buzzing of the cell phones. (I’m not sure if that is good or not, but I’m going with good in this case.)

I have to say, my husband picked the perfect night for us to see Wicked. I’ve heard of pairing your wine with your dinner, but pairing the weather with the performance is really taking it up a notch.

(My thoughts and prayers are with the communities who were hit hard by this line of storms. After I saw the news this morning, I realized though our area was spared, others were not.)

Sweating the Small Stuff

I know you’re not supposed to eat late at night, but last Friday our late-night snack turned out to be a good thing. Bob and I were watching TV and it was almost bedtime when I realized I was hungry. I grabbed a banana, an unusually healthy choice. Bob headed to the pantry to take inventory. I heard a muffled noise from the pantry, which is around the corner. It’s hard to spell these things but it sounded something like “whoa, whoa, mwahhhhhhhhh!” and was followed by silence.

“Bob,” I repeated three times as I went toward the sound. But Bob was no longer in front of the pantry. Bob was in the family room and assured me he was okay. Okay for a man who had just had a mouse run across his bare foot. (I know it’s awful of me, but I was glad Bob discovered our intruder. He handles those things much better than I do.)

Acceptable Garden Mouse

Acceptable Garden Mouse

So, you know that saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff.”? I don’t think they were talking about a mouse in your house. I could feel anxious beads of sweat (also small) break out on my furrowed brow. This was another first for us – a rodent in the house.

We have been talking about our Bucket List of things to do while we still have the energy to do them. Extracting a mouse from the house did not make the list. Even if it did, we would not want to start on that project at 11:00 on a Friday night. And when I say “we,” I mean Bob.

I would have been happy for him to get right to it, but he wanted to go to bed. Bed – the place where you sleep. The place where a little mouse could come and crawl over you while you sleep. Maybe we should pull an all-nighter and do some serious binge watching.

Bob, in his even-tempered way, assured me that the mouse went to the opposite side of the house from our bedroom. He was certain it wouldn’t come near us. Neither of us has any experience with this, and I am always amazed at the things that Bob knows about and wonder where he acquired his vast array of knowledge. Still, I had a feeling that Bob was pulling a “B. J. Surhoff.”

Sidebar – B. J. Surhoff used to play baseball for the Orioles. Bob is very good at stating facts like he has no doubt about their authenticity. For instance, when the kids were growing up, we used to collect baseball cards. Being from Baltimore, we raised our children to be Oriole fans, so those were the prized cards. One day one of the children asked if we knew what B. J. stood for. Without batting an eye, Bob said, “Brian James.” We all believed him. Why shouldn’t we?

Years later, we learned that Mr. Surhoff’s name is really William (Billy) James, hence the initials. I have to give Bob credit for being close and credit for giving that assured “dad” answer, but he lost some credibility. Plus, we all love to bring that up whenever we get the opportunity.

So, he admitted that his was an educated guess about the tendencies of mice as well as an effort to get some sleep. I stuffed a towel under the bedroom door and slept like a baby. (Thank you, Jesus.)

Do you see a mouse in this picture?

Do you see a mouse in this picture?

I think the mouse slipped in while we were having tree and shrub work done last Thursday. We must have disturbed his environment; and with all the going in and out I was doing, he found an opportunity.

Not to brag, but the weather down here in Orlando is so amazing right now that we have had all of the French doors open to our pool. We think the little guy must have made a break for it, because there has been no sign of him, which is comforting and a little disconcerting all at once. We have traps set with peanut butter crackers in them, but no mice have been caught. I will confess that the smell of peanut butter makes me want a snack, but I will resist. After all, that’s how this whole thing started.

Beyond the Samples at Costco

I think Sesame Street had the right idea about the people that you meet in your neighborhood. You know, the people that you meet as you’re walking down the street each day? That applies to Costco, too (my other neighborhood).

Let me back up a little. Whenever my dad leaves the house, he is wearing his WWII B29 crew veteran hat. Over the years of going places with him, I’ve grown accustomed to people stopping and thanking him for his service. I’ve seen people engage in long conversations with him, shake his hand, and buy him lunch. It always means so much to him for someone to take the time to show appreciation.

Now it’s hard for me to walk past a veteran without stopping and thanking them for their service – especially a WWII vet. They are easy to spot because the pride they take in their service and their country is so often displayed via their hats.

During my last trip to Costco I met a gentleman who is a WWII vet. His name is Mike Morro. I stopped to thank him for his service and we ended up having a wonderful conversation. He served in the Pacific like my dad did, and then he re-enlisted in the 1970s as a doctor in the navy. This delightful gentleman will turn 90 this summer; and he is still politically active, cares for his country and is a responsible citizen.

img_1555I was impressed that not only did he carry a picture of himself in uniform, but he carries one of his father who served in WWI. There is a lot of history in that wallet!

He pulled out a couple of other pictures and before showing them to me said, “Now, I’m not sure which way you voted in the election, but look at this.”

There he was in a photo with Mike Pence and holding his Veterans for Trump sign. You have to respect an 89-year-old man who is so articulate and active, not to mention polite, respectful, and down-right friendly. It’s easy to see why that generation is called the greatest.

Thank you, Mr. Morro, for your service to our country, and thank you for taking a few minutes to talk beyond the sample line at Costco. It was such a pleasure to meet you!

fullsizerender

Mike Morro and I at Costco (I have to remember to wear make-up when I leave the house. You never know who you’ll run into!)

 

Seventy-two Hours

Apparently it only takes 72 hours alone together before my husband and I are grasping for things to talk about. Three little days!

img_6409We had just gone through a very busy stretch, and life had not given us much time to simply be together; so we booked a three-day getaway at the beach. Day one was relaxing. No schedules. No other people to consider. No work. It was just the ticket.

Days two and three were more of the same. Sleeping in. Eating out. Long walks and talks on the beach. Near perfection.

Then came the ride home where I stupidly mentioned the (then upcoming) election. Oops! It had been a perfectly wonderful, relaxing time! What was I thinking? But it wasn’t the whole ugly election subject that prompted the decline in our conversation. It was the fact that we could go to the library to vote early.

And it wasn’t the going to the library part that revealed that we truly had exhausted our conversational topics. It was my saying that since we moved to a different county, I needed a new library card.

But the true downfall came when Bob said he would get one, too, even though he hasn’t actually used a library card since 1971. When I pointed this out to him, he confessed that getting a card might not be a good idea, but it wasn’t for the above reason. It was because he was thinking of getting a new wallet, a skinny one that would not handle as many cards. Then he started going over every card in his wallet. At that point, I had no choice but to jump out of the moving car.

Somewhere between the new Costco VISA and the stamp card for Asian Chao Emperor’s Club Customer Loyalty Program, I started laughing uncontrollably. Thankfully, Bob joined in. I guess this is what it has come to after all of these years – 72 hours. After that, we must recruit friends, family, or even a member of the opposing political party to rescue us and infuse new life into our conversation. It’s good to know one’s limits. It’s also good to laugh at yourself. And if all else fails, a nice quiet ride might be the best choice of all.

CVS, Where You Can Get a Prescription, Pick Up Some Milk, Be Stalked by Zombies (a vintage post)

Enjoy this  post from four years ago. It was included in the Erma Bombeck Humor Blog in 2012.

CVS just might stand for Customers are Very Scary.  I offer you proof with this frightening but true story that happened at my local CVS.  (Note:  I have changed the name of the girl in this story, at least I think I changed it.  This was not to protect her privacy, but because I couldn’t remember her name by the time I got home.)

Once upon a time there was a little girl of seven.  She was a happy, friendly child who roamed the aisles of the store alone without a care.  Or so it seemed.

She approached me and asked me my name.  “Bonnie,” I said.  “What’s your name?”

“Melissa.”

“Hi, Melissa.  How are you?”

“I’m fine except a scary thing is following me around the store,” she replied.

I saw a boy walking towards us.  He resembled her so strongly that he had to be her brother.  “Do you mean him?  He does look a little scary.”

“No, he’s my brother.  He’s eight,” she replied and pointed to a zombie Halloween decoration, which was in fact scarier looking than her brother.  “That.  That’s following me.”

I quickly learned a lot about seven-year-old Melissa.  She loves Halloween and is going to be a fairy when she goes trick or treating. Her brother joined us.  She tried to convince him that a spooky creature was following her, but he was uninterested.  Soon they were totally absorbed in the many choices of candy on display.

I then became a ghost to Melissa, who diverted her attention fully to the candy.  At this point I seized the moment and sneaked one of the zombies from where it was perched on a shelf, placed it behind Melissa and her brother and ran down the aisle to hide.  She turned around and jumped and said to her brother, “See, it’s following me.”

They headed farther down the aisle and I was able to use my powers of stealth and move Mr. Zombie right down to the spot where they were about to round a corner.  She gave a little scream and again insisted to her brother that she was being followed.  At that point I walked up and she recounted the entire story to me.

I got into the story with her and asked lots of questions.  She was obviously having a great time.  I was able to add zombies to her path about four times before I had to make my purchase and return to the land of the living.  At the check-out I came across the kids again, this time with their mother.  Melissa was going on and on to the cashier about how zombies had been following her around the store.  Then she looked at me and said, “You wouldn’t have moved them around, would you?”

“Now why would I do that?” I replied with a wink.

Hands down, this was the best time I ever had in CVS.  The Very Scary part does concern me, though.  I was a harmless stranger who really enjoys playing with kids on their level.  I’m glad I’m the one she befriended as it scares me to death to think about this little girl and her brother unsupervised for so long in the store.  I hope this serves as a gentle reminder to people to keep an eye on their kids and grandkids.

It also reminds me of the story of my daughter trying to impress on her kids not to be taken in by a stranger.  You want your kids to be friendly, but they need to keep their distance.  Every time she asked her three-year old if he would go with a stranger who offered him candy, his answer was the same.  “Yes!  I like candy.”  It’s a hard lesson.  Even at my age if you offer me peanut M&Ms, I still will be tempted to go with you.  I probably won’t, but I’ll be tempted.

The Lighter Side of this Presidential Election

It’s challenging to find a lighter side to this presidential election. It has brought out the dark side in many Americans, but like Luke Skywalker, I think there is still good in us. So, even though this might be a very short post, I am committed to finding ten things that will fit into this category, so here goes.

  1. We live in a country where we can participate in the election process.
  2. There is less sign pollution. It seems people are hesitant to advertise their candidate preference because of the volatility of this election.
  3. I am reaffirming the fact that my trust is in God and not man.
  4. The debate about the bathrooms at Target has disappeared.
  5. I am spending less time on social media because I have fewer people to follow on Face Book. I am totally nonpartisan about this. If your posts become disrespectful and mean, it doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, consider yourself blocked. We can resume our friendship in the more civilized time of mid-November when all of this is behind us.
  6. My polling place is in a beautiful restaurant surrounded by lovely gardens. It is no longer open to the public, but I get to go there to vote.
  7. I’m trying to better understand people with different opinions than mine, while realizing that I likely will never completely understand someone else’s point of view.
  8. Late night television has never had more craziness to work with from both sides of the aisle, which helps us to laugh at all of the candidates and turn the tension down a notch.
  9. It’s almost over for four more years, though this election has been underway for about a year and a half, so I guess I’ll have to factor that in.
  10. Finally, Thanksgiving is 16 days after the election. No matter the outcome, we have much to be thankful for.

Now allow me to put on my mom hat and say, “Do your research. Pray, think, and go out there and vote. Talk nicely to each other. No hitting. Don’t make me pull this blog over.”

Always Check Out the Gushing Sound

Every morning around 10 o’clock our pool pump automatically turns on. It’s part of the magic of modern life. I can set my dishwasher to turn on four hours later. I can set the dryer for “wrinkle control” to aid me in my goal of never ironing my clothes again. I can set my coffeepot to turn on in the morning. And, if I could only figure out the timed bake on my oven, I suppose I could set dinner to start cooking while I’m out. Of course, that would require preparation of dinner early in the day, and we all know that ain’t happening.

These are things that I take for granted and barely notice until something goes wrong. For instance, maybe I set the “wash later” control but failed to push the start button on the dishwasher, which equals stinky dishes. Maybe I set the coffee pot to come on in the morning, but fail to put coffee grounds in the basket, and I wake up to a nice pot of hot water. No big deal. I’ll get to it in a minute.

But when I heard a gushing sound from the backyard it didn’t take long to realize that something had gone wrong. That something was the pool pump working against us and turning the pool into a wading pool because the pool pump lid popped off. Meanwhile the back corner of the pool cage behind the house was beginning to rival Wet and Wild.

I’m a little embarrassed to tell you that I didn’t notice this until it had been going on for about 30 minutes, because I was asleep. Yes, I was asleep at ten in the morning. I was taking an early afternoon nap. You see, my husband and I have had two of our grandchildren on our own this week. That means that I’m getting up almost two hours early, waking sleeping children, helping them get dressed, and driving them to school. And that means that by 10:00, I’m ready for a nap.

So, when I rose from my nap, pulled the curtains back and looked out in the backyard, I was surprised to see that the water level of the pool was markedly lower than it was yesterday. I didn’t remember Bob (my husband) taking the level down after our recent rains, but I figured he must have done that. Then I opened the door and heard Old Faithful erupting all over the side of the house and yard. I was kicking my shoes off, wiping the sleep out of my eyes, and trying to find the facetime icon on my phone all at once. That’s a lot for somebody who just woke up from a morning afternoon nap.

Thankfully, Bob was available and I showed him the gusher. He calmly told me to turn the pump off. I love simple solutions. Later I wondered how long it would have taken me to think of that. After all, it took me a full minute to find the facetime icon on my phone. That’s just another example of how we need each other (or really how I need him).

I was also reminded of being thankful. Originally I was planning to be gone all morning, but yesterday as I was making my list of things to do today, I felt like God told me to stay home and work on my blog. That may sound weirdly mystical, but it’s simply part of trying to be sensitive to the fact that God really does have a plan for my daily life, and he impresses me to do (or not to do) things from time to time. Before I took my nap, I wondered what I’d be writing about. Well, as Paul Harvey always said, now you know the rest of the story.

 

The first step barely has water on it

Chopped (not the cooking show)

So, I killed a snake. All by myself. I’m brave like that.

A couple of weeks ago we spotted a small snake on our pool deck. Our son said it was either a baby rat snake or a baby water moccasin. It was small enough that it slithered down into the drain holes around the deck perimeter when we tried to get it. Sigh.

Fortunately for us (not him), the next day it was back. My son took care of it. (Thanks, Joe!)  Since his identity was uncertain and we have children around, not to mention I’m around, it seemed best to do him in.

A few days later, one of the grandchildren saw another snake of similar size on the deck. I ran to the garage and got my machete. (That’s right. I have a machete. We do live in Florida, after all.)

The key for me at this point is to be aggressive and not think too much about what I’m doing. So I moved in fast and chopped him in half. Shudder! It took a few chops, which is disgusting. (I think I need to sharpen the old machete.) So I was chopping and gagging like I was going to lose my lunch, but I didn’t!

I sent pictures out (of both halves) to my snake experts and got no response. I felt awful thinking that I may have chopped a perfectly “beneficial” snake in half. Not!

I maintain that if I come upon a snake and it surprises me, that snake is not a beneficial snake. People die of heart attacks or trip and fall while running for their machetes every day. I don’t want to be a statistic.

As a matter of fact, the next day another snake that could have been a twin to the chopped one showed up on my pool deck. I chopped away at him but that little thing coiled up and struck back at the machete. Wait a minute, that’s not how we play this game. I chop. It dies. I’m disgusted. End of story. That’s how it’s supposed to go down; but this time all 12 inches of him proved too fierce for me and my machete, and then for me and my broom, and finally for me and my hose. He got away.

I had to know what kind of snake had slithered onto my pool deck? What in the world was going on here? We had a tree taken down recently, and I assumed some stupid snake environment was disrupted; and they were coming my way in protest. So I broke down and did the research myself. The results: I killed a baby pygmy rattle snake. On my screened-in pool deck. I’m awesome.

The coast has been clear for a couple of weeks now, so I guess the word is out to any neighboring snakes that I have a rusty machete, and I sort of know how to use it. So for now we’re back to idyllic Florida life. It’s great, especially when you consider pretty much the entire state is built over a swamp. We Floridians come to expect interaction with the occasional snake, spider, scorpion, alligator, disease-infested mosquito, or time-share salesman. It’s part of life down here. I’d tell you more, but we’re preparing for a hurricane, so I better sign off.

Another reason to like birds - they're great at catching snakes

Another reason to like birds – they’re great at catching snakes