From Treasure to Trash to Treasure

After our smelly yet productive garage sale last week (read about that here), I was very proud of myself for loading all the leftover treasures into the back of my car for Goodwill and the used book store. We also filled our garbage cans with the enormously heavy metal boxes and things too piddly to give away. I only brought two things back into the house – small glass candle holders. Success!

It felt good to lighten our load and pare down. I barely even thought about the acrylic Tupperware dishes in the back of my car. Dishes which I loved but never used. Dishes that just might have a purpose which I hadn’t thought of yet. Unbreakable yet pretty dishes that my grandkids could use by the pool…

No! Be strong, Bonnie!

Anyway, the day after I posted my blog, I received a text from my daughter-in-law, Julie. I think she and Dad had a kindred spirit regarding how you never know when you’ll need something or could re-purpose it. You know where I’m going here.

Yes, that’s proof that Julie reads my blog. That makes three for three in the daughter-in-law department. I have the best daughters-in-law!

Also, by now you’ve likely guessed that she had a request – “Any chance your trashcan still holds the musty film reels? I have some ideas on how to re-purpose them (as long as they can be aired out).”

Snatched from the jaws of the garbage crusher.

I have a rapport with the trash collectors and want to keep them happy, so Bob and I divided up the heavy metal boxes between different garbage cans and only put two of them to the curb for the first pick-up day. I didn’t want anybody throwing their back out. So that meant that there was still one smelly box in our garbage.

I’m sure my dad was smiling down at me as I dug through the can to retrieve it for Julie. You win again, Dad! One more thing that didn’t quite make it to the curb!

 

One Man’s Treasure is Enough to Knock Me Over

The year was 1953 and my dad didn’t go to Alaska.

As you may remember, in September 2017, we quickly moved my mom and dad into our home. The decision was made on a Monday and the move took place on Friday, just two days before Hurricane Irma hit.

In our haste, we couldn’t go through everything. There wasn’t time or energy for that. My dad micromanaged the move, so that meant lots of stuff that we wanted to throw away was kept, including every slide, movie and photograph he ever took. These couldn’t be left in their home because of the threat of Irma. We’d have to go through them later.

Later came this past weekend. We joined in with the neighborhood garage sale in order to get rid of a large glass patio table and chairs. It was the perfect time. They do the advertising and we put our stuff out. I figured I might as well go through the rest of the house to clear out some things that have gone unused since we moved 3.5 years ago.

That didn’t take long and it felt good to lighten the load, but then Mom asked if I wanted to go through her closet.

Dun, dun, dun!!!

My parents have two very different philosophies of stuff. Mom is a pitcher and Dad is a keeper. Many a time he would go to the curb to retrieve something that Mom deemed useless. Mom is always ready to thin out the stuff. She’s a great example for me, but going through all that stuff…

I hadn’t really looked in there since Dad died and we sold their home. There were pictures and slides and movies. Oh my! I gathered my courage and went in. On the floor were three metal boxes. I don’t even remember seeing them before! I tried to lift one and nearly threw my back out. I scooted it and peered inside, and oh boy did it smell bad. This was a job for Bob.

Bob is great in so many ways, not the least of them being his sense of smell is not as keen as mine. But he did notice a musky odor, so he knew my super-sniffer must have been going nuts.

There were three of these things. This is the small one – it held nine movie reels. I thoughtlessly threw away the other two before taking pictures. They each held a dozen reels and probably would have been of value to a collector with a poor sense of smell.

The first label I came across said Alaska 1953. As I looked over the collection, I was surprised that Dad had not forced us kids, I mean offered for us to watch these. He was infamous for showing us stuff we didn’t want to see whenever it was time for home-movie night. Home-movie night was not limited to movies. In those days, slides were all the rage. We wanted to see pictures of ourselves when we were little and cute, and he wanted to see Hawaii, something I came to appreciate in my adult life.

Dad had hundreds of carousels of slides, but those from business trips to Hawaii were always on the top of the stack. Landscape after landscape after landscape – mostly in living black and white.

But I digress. I asked my mom, “Did Dad go to Alaska in 1953?”

“Oh, no,” she replied. “All of those movies belonged to your great Uncle Hayward. I don’t think we ever looked at them.”

Uncle Hayward died in 1978 at the age of 79, which leads me to believe those movies traveled from Arizona where they lived, to Maryland and then probably to Florida where they have been stored in their fancy, smelly humidors for over forty years. That’s right – the cans which I pitched were labeled as humidors. I don’t think they were meant to hold up for over six decades though – at least that’s what I gathered from the smell of deteriorating film and musty metal, which was akin to the smell of aged Tupperware with leftover cabbage in it.

All in all, it was a successful weekend. We sold our table so we didn’t have to figure out how to haul it away. We got rid of a lot of things from Mom’s closet and found a few gems, too. Like this pair of movie projectors, which you see Bob examining here. One is for the movies which we threw away. I think someone could make a lamp out of it and it probably has some value, which will be determined.

Notice the projector in the foreground. You do find some interesting things among your parents’ possessions.

Plus, best of all. I threw out all the slides of Hawaii and found some cute ones of me and my siblings. If I can ever figure how to digitize them, I’ll be sure to share them!

 

 

Culture Shock!

I was a stranger in a strange land. Gone were the familiar greens and blues. Everything was white. And cold. Very cold!

I knew that it had been a harsh winter in Michigan. I heard about the polar vortex and kept current on conditions because our son and his family live there. But I was not prepared to be dropped into a setting of white.

As we began our descent into Grand Rapids, this was my view.

Close up was a lot more intimidating. Driving with snow drifts higher than your car is stranger than driving after Hurricane Irma left piles of debris along our Florida streets. Our Irma debris held on for over two months. I think the Michigan snow drifts might beat that.

It was embarrassing finding myself commenting on the snow. As a Floridian, I’m used to people talking about the weather. Our summers are long and hot. The heat can be oppressive and unrelenting. And the rain – the rain can sneak up on you and be delivered not only downward but sideways in sheets that take all visibility away. But just as suddenly as it began, it can be gone.

Snow is not like that. Snow stays and gets pushed around by convoys of plows. It gets piled high as an elephant’s eye. It gets dirty and then covered by fresh snow. The plows come day after day. The piles grow. Ice storms mess with your footing. You have to borrow boots from your daughter-in-law (thanks, Dacia!). You have the feeling that you don’t belong here. It’s otherworldly.

So, comment I did. I couldn’t stop talking about how white everything was. My sweet daughter-in-law seemed amused by my snow befuddlement. I did grow up in Maryland. We had snow there. But not like this! I stared out the window in amazement. I couldn’t get over it. Finally, I realized I needed someone to help me with my culture shock, so I called in an expert – my four-year-old grandson. Felix loves snow. He was a little baffled by my lack of experience with it, so he offered his point of view.

 

I figure if it’s a little too much snow for a four-year-old, it’s okay that it’s a lot too much for me.

The Dirt on my Amaryllis 

Sometimes putting up with the stink yields a reward. 

Before Christmas I bought a three-pack of Amaryllis (from Costco, of course). It was another great find as they were marked down to $4.97. When something at Costco has a “7” for the last number of the price, it’s being discontinued and it’s generally super cheap. 

These plants were not in bloom yet. Part of the fun of them is watching how fast they grow and produce beautiful flowers. I put them on my kitchen counter. Within an hour, my kitchen reeked. I was planning to give these away, but there was no way I’d give a stinking dish of dirt to anyone. After an initial watering, I put them outside on my screened porch table and forgot about them. 

In a couple weeks, they rewarded me with vibrant blooms. I couldn’t believe how lovely they were. Once the flowers were spent, I forgot about them. I kept meaning to throw them away, and then around the first of February, we noticed new growth. I didn’t know they did that. I chose to water them once more and see what would happen. Soon, they looked like this.  I took these pictures on February 15. 

It made me wonder how many other things I had not given their due opportunity to bloom. Things from plants to ideas to relationships. Sometimes things start out pretty smelly. But when given the chance they bloom into something beautiful. 

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.