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

 

Relaxing by the Pool, Leaky Diapers, and Phelps Face

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Typically sweet Layna helps water the plants

There is nothing like relaxing in the pool on a hot day. And, having three young children in the pool with me is nothing like relaxing. It was unbelievably hot down here in July – the hottest July on record. I was reminded of how thankful I am to have a pool in our backyard.

I was watching my 19-month-old grandson Felix, so I figured it would be a good time to import a couple of the others. Seven-year-old Jett and four-year-old Layna love to play with him.

We aren’t a formal group, so a swim diaper and a hat is all Felix needs in the pool to be dressed for success. I slathered us up and strapped swimmies on the little two and we were ready to go.

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Pool and pacifier – that’s all I need

Before long, Layna said that she had to go potty. She assured me that it’s perfectly acceptable for her to do it in the yard since it’s just #1. I can work with that.

Felix, looking a lot like a floating chlorine dispenser as he spins around and bobs up and down, loved swimming with his cousins. Things were going, shall we say, swimmingly, and then it happened – a disturbance in the force.  I announced that it was time to go in the house.

Layna informed me that she had to go to potty again. I told her that’s fine, but since we’re going in the house anyway, she could use the actual bathroom. I opened the door, which is right off the pool deck, and invited her in. She was appalled that I would think she’d consider going in the house where it’s cold when the backyard works just fine, thank you very much.

Michael-Phelps-Face-olympic-games-rio-2016I gave her my best I-mean-business look. She gave me Phelps Face.

“Layna, you are going to use the potty,” I said as I picked her up and put her on it.

Her reply as she sat there, “I’m not going to go.”

She exercised such control of her mind and body that is was a little scary.

I’ve been around this block a few times, so I was determined that I would win. While Jett was drying off, I stood outside the bathroom door watching Layna not go potty while taking Felix’s swim diaper off. Suddenly I was standing in a puddle of brown watery poo courtesy of Felix being on antibiotics. Arg.

The upside of this was that Layna quickly figured out that I meant business and did hers on the potty. Plus, Felix got to play in the hose.

Everyone was happy inside playing when I made the mistake of closing the bathroom door to the hall. A treasured, glass thingamajig, that I’m sure meant a lot to me when I found it, but at this point I have no idea why I have it, came crashing to the tile floor from its shelf next to the door. The shards exploded into the hall and the four adjoining rooms. Since Felix freaks out when the vacuum is running, that made it a little more exciting; but with Jett’s help, I was able to clean it all up.

It was a perfect afternoon. I spent it with three of my wonderful grandchildren. Nobody drowned. Nobody cut themselves on glass. I got my floor vacuumed. To be perfectly honest, at this point in life, when something breaks I chalk that up to one less thing to dust. I don’t like dusting, so that’s a win-win.

Everyone’s a Critic

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Layna is four and in charge of life. She noticed a bug in our light fixture. I told her it was our pet Fred and that’s why I haven’t gotten it out of there.

She said, “That bug isn’t really your pet, is it?”

“No, I just like to joke.”

“Well, I don’t,” she said.

In disbelief I said, “Of course, you like jokes.”

Her reply – “Not bad ones.”

Blogger Fodder

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since we became empty-nesters and moved out of the neighborhood where we raised our children. Our new house is larger and has afforded us the privilege of having lots of company. I think there’s something to the fact that there is a separate area for guests and no children to compete with over the bathroom.

For the majority of the summer we have had adult children and grandchildren staying with us. When one family leaves, another arrives. We love it!

Selfishly, I figured it would give me fodder for my blog, so I created a little writing niche where I can go behind closed doors and create. But there are either ideas to write about or time to write them. Not to mention how distracting grandchildren are – all that cuteness! It is wonderful to be surrounded by people again, but there are a few drawbacks.

For instance, privacy – having grandchildren around means never peeing alone. I will tell them that I’ll be right back – I just have to go to the bathroom. They will even acknowledge me. Then off I “go” and within seconds they are yelling across the house for me with important questions like, “Can I have a piece of gum?”

It’s been a long time since I was a mom of school-aged kids, and I forgot the importance they place on having an immediate answer to questions like this. So I will teach them that like their mom, any question asked of me while I am in the bathroom gets an automatic no.

Even as I typed that last sentence I remembered the loop holes. Kids are great at loop holes. What if they ask if they can do the dishes for me or help a sibling with chores? Do I really want to say no to those types of questions? Wait a minute, there is little danger of these questions ever being asked so I think I’m 95 percent safe with my automatic no.

Another drawback is that kids can be kind of judgy when you do something differently than their parents do. For instance, while being a prize-winning grandmother and playing with my grandkids in the pool, I took a break from being squirted in the face with squirt guns and sat in a lounge chair to read a book. This is not the time to read anything that I need to concentrate on. War and Peace will have to wait. It is, however, the perfect time for Seriously…I’m Kidding, by Ellen DeGeneres.

So there I was sitting in the sun and reading Ellen’s funny little essays about life when I noticed I was being watched. “You’re reading that? Mom doesn’t like her.”

I glanced down at the book making sure I hadn’t accidentally picked up a copy of Mein Kampf. Little did my granddaughter know that for me, reading humorous books and stories is like taking my vitamins, except I don’t always remember to take my vitamins. In fact, excuse me. While I’m thinking about it, I better go take them right now.

Thanks. I’m back.

Later when I asked my daughter about this, she was equally baffled. She surmised that her daughter assumed her dislike of Ellen due to the fact that every time they go on the Epcot ride that Ellen hosts, she ends up falling asleep.

I remember those days. When we took the kids on the Haunted Mansion ride and they would snap our pictures. I was the one enjoying a nap on that dark, cool ride.

Speaking of falling asleep, my dad used to say, “Your mother could fall asleep while running for a bus.” I’m like that. Since having grandchildren around more, I’ve reverted to my old ways of dropping off to sleep at inopportune times, like while waiting at red lights, playing with children on the floor, watching movies at the theater, and even while zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. You get the picture – just like the people at the Haunted Mansion did. As a matter of fact, I hear my pillow calling me now.

A Scream in the Night

After a long day of caring for three of my grandsons and helping my ailing daughter-in-law, I spent some time reading before going to bed last night. I was reading “A Single Shard” by Linda Sue Park. It is set in twelfth-century Korea and is about an orphan boy who finds himself working for a master potter. I am to the part of the story where the boy is taking his master’s pottery to the King’s Court for a possible commission. The boy has the delicate pottery carefully packed and placed into his backpack when the unthinkable happens.

Meanwhile, this morning I’m piecing together the nightmare I had last night to see if there could be any deeply hidden meaning. I woke up screaming at 5:00 this morning. Bob put his hand on my arm and chased the frightening images away.

In my dream I was walking home from my parents’ house in Zellwood, Florida. I was walking along Hwy 441, which is a busy highway that meanders through rural and small town areas here in Central Florida. I realized it was getting late and I needed to start jogging or I wouldn’t get home before dark. As I jogged along, I passed by three small children. One of them asked me what was in the backpack that I was wearing. I replied that there wasn’t much in it and as I was stopped talking to him, the two other children started attacking me and trying to take my things. That’s where Bob rescued me.

IMG_4968As I sit here typing this morning, I’m sure there is no collection between that dream and my life this week. No connection to having two of my grandsons stay with us for a week while my daughter-in-law and her 18-month-old son are staying here. No connection to the youngest taking my shoes all day long and running away with them while waiting for me to chase him. And certainly no connection to the older boys constantly taking my favorite float while we play in the pool.

Just another one of those dreams that has more to do with eating ice-cream late at night than real life I suppose. Now, if you’ll excuse me I am heading to my parents’ house to take my dad to the doctor. I’m taking the car though. See, it’s totally unrelated.

On the Top of the World Looking Down

 

IMG_5833Recently, my husband and I grabbed a quick night away at Bonnet Creek at Disney World. I was in Mickey Land for a writers’ conference, so we took advantage of our time share to avoid the drive across town after a long day of seated inspiration. Nothing wears me out like sitting and learning. Unless it’s activity.

The deal with our timeshare is that within two weeks of checking in, if there is a room upgrade available and we swoop down and “click” on it, we get it for free. That was our fortune this stay. We went from a lowly one-bedroom unit to the top-floor presidential one-bedroom suite. Sweet!

This meant that once in the elevator, to get to our sweet suite, we had to insert our room key by the floor numbers to allow us access to our floor. The feeling of importance that this elicited can only be imagined by the peons who were forced to live out their day-to-day time-share lives on the lower 18 floors.

Not being one to flaunt my perceived importance, it was a little embarrassing when we got on the elevator with another family and they asked us which floor we wanted.

With a blush of the cheek and my best nonchalant look, I said, “Oh, we’re on the 19th floor, we have to insert our room key for that one.”

“Oh, they’re on the top floor. They must be something special,” they taunted.

I replied, “Not really. We simply got a last-minute upgrade. Seriously, we’re just like you.”

“You mean you just got out of prison?” the man asked.

“Well, not quite like you. We are, after all, on the 19th floor.”