The Hamilton Hype

A few years ago, way back in 2015, I began to hear about a new, hit, Broadway musical called Hamilton. I am familiar with Alexander Hamilton as I have seen ten-dollar bills, plus I remember from American history that he was a part of the founding of our country. There was something about a duel with Aaron Burr, and also, he was the first Secretary of the Treasury. So, you can see, I’m somewhat of an expert.

Since I am on Facebook, I was privy to several friends’ posts which revealed that they were desperate to see this musical. Some even flew clear across country just to see the show. I marvel at that kind of commitment.

I like Broadway shows. I like musicals. I thought to myself, maybe someday Bob and I will see this show.

We have a daughter, Dena, who loves, loves, loves this musical – even though she had not seen, seen, seen it. When I visited her last year, she exposed me to the music. I was not surprised to learn that she and her daughters were fluent in Hamilton. They knew all the words. I mean really knew them. Dena could stand in for any of the actors. (If any of you are reading this, contact me to contact her. You won’t be sorry.)

What did surprise me was that Hamilton is largely a rap. Of course, we have no recordings from that many score years ago, but I am reasonably certain that a group of men who wrote the letter “S” to look like an “F” did not use rap for anything but their Virginia tobacco, and that one starts with a W.

Still, even though I am not a fan of that musical medium, I enjoyed the quick banter and musical story enough to overlook it. Dare I say, I even enjoyed listening to the sound track. Okay, I will. I enjoyed it.

This brings us to December when the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando began selling tickets for Hamilton. Bob and I decided to try to get them for each other for a Christmas present. When I say try, I mean that. It took hours waiting in a cyber line for Bob to procure the tickets. Five hours. Each person was allowed to purchase four, so we gave the other two to Dena and her husband for Christmas.

Meanwhile, Bob thought he, too, should listen to the soundtrack so he could begin to familiarize himself with it. Oh, I wish you could have seen the expression on his face when he looked at me and said, “Wait a minute. This is a rap? Is the whole thing a rap?”

The man who waited patiently to buy those tickets was unaware that this would subject him to hours of rap music, albeit historical rap music.

So, the four of us we went to see the show. It was excellent, as rap musicals go. We quite enjoyed it, and somehow Dena restrained herself from singing along – quite the self-control!

The next day, Dena’s friend, Praise, called to talk to her and I managed to grab the phone unbeknownst to Dena. Praise has been like another daughter to me, so I enjoyed a few minutes of impersonating Dena before I let on to her that it was me. Then she asked me how Hamilton was.

I told her we liked it fine and that Bob was surprised to discover it was a rap. She couldn’t believe that he didn’t know that prior to buying tickets. She was somewhat appalled and lovingly told me that we didn’t even deserve to go to the show.

That is the passion that this musical brings out of people. Plus, Praise had to get back at me for impersonating Dena. I guess we’re even, but not truly even. We got to see the show.

 

Conversation Crisis PLUS We Have a Winner

Tuesday night was the State of the Union Address, and I was surprised it got the coverage it did with the big crisis going on in our nation. I’m sure you have been following the candy-heart crisis.

Evidently, the New England Confectionary Company (NECCO) abruptly stopped manufacturing its popular, not to mention iconic, Sweet Heart Conversation Hearts. I was shocked when I saw this covered on our local news. The shocking part was not that NECCO had stopped manufacturing candy. No, no. The shocking part was that this was called a crisis. The state of Valentine’s Day was coming into question. That’s what this world has come to. Seriously, folks, it’s not like M&Ms were going away.

Anyway, to confuse things further, just last week I picked up Brach’s Tiny Conversation Hearts at Target – crisis averted! NECCO did not have the conversation heart market cornered, though it looks like big conversations are now a thing of the past. If you are clever, you can string many tiny conversations together and make one normal size conversation. So, don’t despair, just join in a candy conversation of whatever size you can. Your Valentine’s Day should not be hindered in the least.

 

Now, on to more pressing things. Thanks to all of you who commented on my blog post last week and to those who shared. The winner of my book, ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE MAGIC, is Vanessa Marks. I will be in contact with you to get the particulars to send it to you.

 

Time to Celebrate and Time to Enter for a Chance to Win

Help me celebrate and enter to win!

Today is the one-year anniversary of the release of my book, ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE MAGIC. I know! How time flies.

In case you are new to me, this is my first book and is about an 11-year-old boy and his brother growing up during the Great Depression in Baltimore. Artie wants to be a magician, and the path he is on gives you lots to smile and laugh about while you wait to see if his dream will come true.

I have had a blast promoting my book this past year. I have done book signings, a You Tube promotion, and visited a classroom of middle-schoolers to discuss the book and encourage future writers. This I did with my 90-year-old mom, who is one of the characters, and that made it truly memorable. The kids loved her and pelted her with questions.

Writing about someone you know and love keeps you connected with them in a very unique way. This book is based on my dad’s life and was born out of my trying to remember all the stories he told about those days in the 1930s.

Initially, I thought ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE MAGIC would be for 9 to 13-year-olds, but its appeal reached their parents as well. This really blessed me as I love a book that crosses generations.

What I didn’t expect was the response I have received from folks in their 80s and 90s. I have received messages, letters, and even phone calls from people who have enjoyed a trip down memory lane to a time when things were simpler but life was hard. There you have it. My book has appeal for people from 9 to 99. I am honored.

In celebration of the one-year anniversary, I’d like to give away a copy of ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE MAGIC. If you already have one, maybe you could give it as a gift. Here’s how to enter:

You will receive one entry for each of the following:

  1. Comment below
  2. Share on social media. Be sure to let me know that you’re sharing in the comments here so you get credit. Mention Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you share. One entry per share, so double up.
  3. Follow my blog. I know many of you already do, but let’s give new readers an extra chance to win by clicking on the right column (under my picture with the monkey on my back) where it says to sign up.

That’s it! I’ll announce the winner in my post next week. As always, thank you for reading and thank you for sharing.

The Polar Vortex – What To Do While You’re Stuck Inside

I’m in Florida, so the cold weather we are experiencing pales in comparison to what our friends up north are going through. I am thinking of you all though, so today I’m offering six things to do while you’re stuck inside during the Polar Vortex:

  1. Look up the meaning of vortex.
  2. Play a drinking game. Whenever someone says “polar vortex” they have to take a shot of hot chocolate.
  3. Read. Something by Robert Frost would be appropriate.
  4. Watch movies, maybe something with a tropical theme or even The Polar Express might feel warmer than your current circumstances.
  5. Text Ashton Kutcher.

I caught this on the news this morning.

 

Ashton, you’re killing me. You want us to be real with each other. You want connections. But your last line tells it all: You want to share your latest and greatest with us. Sounds a little one-way, if you ask me.

Anyway, Ashton, thanks for the chuckle. After I started writing this, I contemplated texting you, but I was afraid you’d text me back. So, I checked with Google and it looks like you have taken your number down or changed it or something equally non-communicative as far as your community goes. Silly boy.

FINALLY:

Number 6 – Get excited about my post for tomorrow’s blog. I’m doing a give-away.

On a serious note, I have family who are in Michigan, so I am praying that this dangerous cold weather passes through quickly and that people will be safe. Until tomorrow.

 

 

Are You Ever too Old for SeaWorld?

SeaWorld used to be a calm, risk-free place – a place for animals and shows with one lone roller coaster to break things up a bit. Now, it’s the opposite.

For Christmas we gave our local grandsons (10 and 12 years old) a day at SeaWorld with us. We love to give an event when possible. It’s so easy to wrap! We had the date prearranged with our son and his wife to make sure our calendars didn’t collide. The fun began on the way there. Read the full post »

You Otter Read This

Once again, I am providing a view of the other side of Central Florida. It’s not all the happiest place on earth down here. I’m not talking about Costco, one of my happy places on earth. I’ve never felt the danger of being attacked by an angry otter at Costco. I can’t say as much about Lake Lily in nearby Maitland.

Central Florida wildlife

It has been nearly a year since an ornery otter has made the headlines here. It was in March of last year that an aggressive otter jumped into a kayak in Manatee County and leaped onto its unsuspecting paddlers resulting in an overturned kayak and one terrifying and terrific story for the pair trying to take a leisurely trip down the river. He went on to attack other boaters and injure four people.

Daily I-4 Warnings

Daily I-4 Warnings are necessary during the I-4 Ultimate Project

I don’t know how that story was resolved regarding the capture of the wanted otter, but now I fear that he may have made his way to our fair community, though that would be unlikely because the most direct route from Manatee County, which is south of the Tampa/St. Pete area, to the Orlando area is via I-4. I-4 is deadlier than an angry otter and you would be smart to avoid it while in our area. An otter, angry or otherwise, can weigh between 10 and 33 pounds. You’d fare better with it then you would with an 18-wheeler trying to figure out where the lanes have shifted on I-4. The truck could weigh up to 40 tons. I think if given the choice, I’ll take my chances with the otter.

Seriously, though, whether on the interstate or near our beautiful lakes, I’m cautious. Lovely Lake Lily in the nearby town of Maitland is a favorite place for locals to take a stroll. I myself have walked there. I might have considered doing it again, that is until otters began stalking innocent walkers. At this point, they are only concerned about one otter. They are working on a Single-Otter Theory. I think this is their way of avoiding conspiracies of groups of otters banding together with a common cause of destroying our state or making a statement about our inconsistencies in counting votes down here in Florida.

All this begs a question. These are river otters and Lake Lily is, well, a lake. I think that the otters are confused, like the vote counters in Broward County last year. Perhaps they thought their votes were not counted in the last election.

Another question: Are the sightings and incidents involving the dangerous otter at Lake Lily really the work of a renegade weasel (otters are in the weasel family) or maybe even the Russians?

For now, we will have to hope that it was a Lone Otter. The latest word is the Otter Wanted-Posters have been successful. The squirrelly otter is off the streets, lakes, rivers, and swamps. I guess I’ll have to come up with a better reason to avoid taking a walk.

 

Words

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, it’s time to pack up.”

I was preparing to put away my many Christmas decorations, when I made the above statement out loud. It made me stop in my tracks. I wasn’t swearing, I was talking to my manger scene. I’d never talk inappropriately in front of Baby Jesus. I wasn’t thinking of the beauty of Christmas and the blessings of the season. I was missing Christmases gone by and looking at the work involved with packing it all up until next Christmas. I was contemplating which grandchild might want which thing when they start their own households and wondering when I would start to streamline my decorating. That’s the context from which I uttered that weird, easily misunderstood sentence.

It served to snap me out of it as I laughed out loud at myself and wondered if Bob or my mom had heard me. I’m guessing they did not because nobody came in to see if I was drinking heavily while dismantling Christmas decorations. (I wasn’t.)

The letdown after the holidays is real. We go from shiny and bright accompanied by cookies, candy, and company to ordinary life without the twinkling lights. Returning to the normal of pre-Thanksgiving is lackluster. Plus, it gets dark so early – even in Florida! But I was ready to get my house back to normal. I was even ready to vacuum all the mess from taking the tree down. I just wasn’t ready to be productive. I wasn’t ready for those January fresh starts.

That’s why I don’t do them. For me, every year is 13 months. It starts January 1 and ends January 31 of the following year. That allows me to be fairly guilt-free in January. I use January to put away Christmas, organize, vacuum, and nap. I also use it to think and pray about projects, especially writing projects, all this while consuming the leftover Christmas sweets. It’s very effective.

I should say mostly effective. The downside of eating the leftovers, is multifaceted. The thing I notice first is that I am down – my outlook, not my weight. I know the sugar has negative effects, and it pushes me lower. (Not to worry, though, it’s almost all gone.)

So, until I can once again think with a non-sugar-coated mind, how do I snap out of being so melancholy?

I do what I always told my kids and grandkids to do. I use my words. I talk to God. I talk to Bob. I talk to friends.

My big thing this year was that I felt like I had used up all my encouragement and every word swimming around my head about myself sounded like condemnation. I was tearing myself down. I asked God for encouragement to get me moving. I didn’t want to stay in that negative, self-absorbed place listening to lies of the enemy. I was tired, too, so that made it worse. But God is always faithful.

The next day I spent part of my morning quiet time with God just being thankful – specifically for the way that people in my life have encouraged me in the past. I named names (for instance, Vanessa). I remembered. Gratefulness is powerful. The fog started lifting, but I kept my fog lights on. I know how this works. Sometimes you drive in and out of fog before it’s really gone. But there was a breakthrough, which brought more thankfulness.

Letter of EncouragementIn the afternoon mail a letter came for my mom. She read it and gave it to me saying it really was more for me than for her. It was from a woman whom my mom had met through my dad. Dad was in WWII. He was a gunner in the Pacific theater. The men he flew with became his wartime family.

Years after the war, Dad started contacting all the men from his crew. He found out about their current lives and made a newsletter featuring each man and his family. He’d mail it out to the crew and keep their friendship alive. It was not unusual for me to find pictures of children and grandchildren from this group sitting on Dad’s desk. He and mom visited many of them throughout the country after retirement. To say this was special would be an understatement.

You may remember that my dad died in 2017. He was the last of his B-29 crew. I always thought it was fitting that he was last. God used him to keep them in touch with each other.

The letter was from a woman named Mabel. I remembered her husband’s name from Dad’s stories. Mabel was writing to tell my mom that she was reading my book, Always Look for the Magic, and couldn’t put it down. She said she could picture my dad as she read it and she was enjoying laughing along with his antics. She wanted to thank me for writing it. She requested that I send her a card with my autograph on it for her to paste inside the book so she could keep it. She also said she hoped I would write more books.

Well, I was flabbergasted. This sweet woman, who is probably around 90 years old, took the time to write such a beautiful encouragement as part of her correspondence to my mom. She certainly inspired me, not only to write but to take more time encouraging others.

Encouragement is food for the soul. When was the last time you received encouragement out of the blue? How about the last time you gave it? Writing it down and sending it to someone gives them something that lasts. I’m hoping that comes back in style. I think we should fill our January with uplifting words to people. Don’t you?

By the way, if you haven’t ordered my book yet and would like to, click on the picture of it on the right. Thanks!

Seasoned Greetings and Happy 2019!

The holidays are behind us now and that means another of my husband’s office parties is in the books. That makes 39 of them. My guess is that we have only one more to go before retirement.

As I sat at the Capital Grille with engineers the age of our children, I pondered parties gone by. I remembered that first party. Bob, a recent college graduate, was enjoying his first career job. We had a ten-month-old baby. I had quit my job to stay home with him and was where I had longed to be – home with a baby.

What I didn’t realize, though, was how out-of-it I would feel among a group of professionals who were quite a bit older than us.

Here’s another shocking realization: They were about 15 years younger than I am now. That meant they were in their mid-to-upper forties and I was a mere 23. Engineering was a predominantly male dominated career choice, so I was sitting with a bunch of seasoned women who knew each other and knew the company and drank a lot. It was awkward.

Except for one woman. She was so kind. She picked up on my quietness and drew me out of my shell enough for me to almost enjoy the party. She was also my husband’s boss’ wife. I felt like a little kid there, and rightly so, but she assured me that everyone would love to hear about my life as a young wife and new mom. She said they could all relate and never tired of hearing about babies. She was wonderful.

Back to the present, as the oldest woman at the table (and possibly in the room), I felt completely at ease – another perk to getting older. Plus, Bob works with an amazing group of people who seem to have found equally amazing people to bring to the party – be they spouse, child, or once even a good friend who happened to be the kid, now grown, who lived behind us for years and was like an extra son to me. It truly is a small world.

This year, our table was greeted by the Chief Something-or-Another from the home office, who again was young enough to be our son. Anyway, he started up a conversation with the four engineers at the table trying to ascertain who worked on which project. I sat there happily with nothing to add until he asked the spouses some questions and seemed genuinely interested in our opinions of the company. The twenty-something version of me probably would have said freaked out. The current version of me didn’t care how what I said sounded, as long as I didn’t make Bob look stupid.

Once he left, I had a few questions for the young engineer who specializes in AI. He had all the enthusiasm about his project that every engineer I have ever met has. That’s a lot. It also meant he used words that once upon a time I had never heard, but as I said, this wasn’t my first rodeo. Of course, I had heard them. I didn’t know what they meant, but I had heard them.

This young engineer and I had a connection. He had recently taken his kids to see Ralph Breaks the Internet, which I had seen with my grandchildren. When I asked him about the scene from that movie where Ralph and Vanellope take a trip down a wi-fi router and find themselves at the google help desk, he lit up like a Christmas tree. He loved this scene, too, and said it should be required watching for everyone as it was a great description of AI and how it’s used by google. Would it stretch things to say that it turned this Disney movie into an educational film? Probably, but it gave me the “in” I needed.

That’s my journey from young mother to grandmother. It’s all about confidence and relaxing in the situation. It’s all about talking to people. It’s all about making good use of the cartoons you watch. They’ve always been a significant part of my education.

That’s all folks!

 

Time to Make the Simple Complicated

Employees must wash hands!

Last post I shared about hand soap. The logical progression is to share about drying one’s hands. Evidently, this is a skill that needs honing, as the entire population, or at least those who work at or frequent Starbucks, are assumed to be doing it wrong.

When I see someone leave a public restroom without washing their hands, I throw up in my mouth a little. Usually my “ahem” is treated with disdain, but I just smile and aim my head slightly towards the sink while thinking, “Come on! We live in a society!”

Anyway, if you do take the time to wash, thank you. But in today’s world, it looks like you need directions for proper drying. The photo below was posted in a Starbucks bathroom on the air hand-dryer.

If you look closely at the signage on the hand dryer, which is plain to instruct both the reader and non-reader, #5 instructs you to use a towel. And, #6 tells you to turn off water with paper towels. There are no towels, paper or otherwise, in the bathroom. We were supposed to use the super noisy, hygienic drying device on the wall to blow the water off of our hands. You know, the one the sign is posted on.

Starbucks, has gone mad! It’s the effort to spell (or picture) everything out for everyone that has brought us to this point. I can imagine people looking around the bathroom for a towel. Someone needs to rescue them.

You may be asking, why did I bother reading the sign. Do I need instructions on hand drying? The answers are:

#1 I don’t have a lot of time for reading over the holidays, so what better place to grab a few sentences than the bathroom in Starbucks.

#2 No.

Somebody who doesn’t want to get sued must have put that sign on the hand dryer. Somebody who isn’t too bright, I might add.

To sum up:

  1. Wash your hands after using the bathroom and several times throughout the day.
  2. Dry your hands with a paper towel if possible, or
  3. if you’re in Starbucks, wear jeans or some other thick garment just in case the air hand-dryer is weak and you require back-up hand-drying means.

It shouldn’t be this complicated!

Have a Merry Christmas and a clean and dry New Year!

Bath and Body (didn’t) Works

I was in Bath and Body Works yesterday sniffing through their vast collection of holiday hand soaps. Currently in my house, last year’s soaps adorn the sinks. I tend to over-buy so at the end of the season, I put those soaps under the sink until the next year. With a small amount of people in our house, it takes a couple Decembers to go through one. With my current stock, it will be 2021 before I need to buy again.

This year I decided to avoid that shop like I avoid leaving Florida in the wintertime. I’m in North Carolina as I write this, so I guess both plans went south, or in the geographic case, north.

So, I’m freezing and trying not to let my comments about how cold it is be all that I say to people. “Hi, I’m Bonnie. I’m freezing.” How’s that for an ice-breaker?

Anyway, no matter what the temperature, I want to see my kids and grandkids, so I loaded up my car for a quick trip to see my daughter, who also happens to be my shopping buddy. She has four children so they can go through a container of pump soap in about 36 hours. She is the reason why Bath and Body Works is so successful.

I got to thinking. Everybody loves Vanilla Bean Noel, Twisted Peppermint, and Winter Candy Apple. They are names that grab you. Names you want to look at everyday when you wash your hands. But what names didn’t make the cut? What names were wash-outs and what did they smell like? Here’s my list:

Charred Santa – Fire in the chimney with a little bit of toasted jolly and fluff

Cranberry Reindeer Droppings – Subtle and spicy undertones of cranberry with a hint of reindeer excrement

Burnt Vanilla Cookie – Even with a truly unpleasant fragrance, this soap cannot be resisted. You’ll smell like you just burned a fresh batch.

Holly and Poison Ivy – Fresh smell of holly with a trace of Calamine Lotion

Tinsel Trauma – Slightly metallic smell that will take you back to your childhood. Use in a well-ventilated room and keep away from children.

May you have a wonderful, clean-smelling Christmas Season!