A Short Post

When this is published there will be 38 days until the first day of Autumn. Contrary to excessive advertising bombarding us with all things fall, and considering there are 3 months or approximately 90 days in each of the 4 seasons, I do not think that summer is almost over.

Need calendar proof? If you’d like to countdown with me, there’s a website for that. Check out https://yourcountdown.to/autumn-fall

Living in Florida, I know that summer is far from over, and that’s why something has gotten on my nerves lately.

No, it’s not the great sales on summer clothing and swimsuits. It’s not the heat either. I look at hot days as opportunities to go swimming or to the beach.

It’s a little bit of the back to school hype. Even thought it’s been a long time since I’ve sent kids off to school, I don’t like to be reminded that summer is coming to a close – BECAUSE IT’S NOT! Even when we lived up north, summer was allowed to be in charge until after Labor Day. Autumn had to fall (so to speak) in behind it.

But that’s not the thing that has my dander up today. It’s shorts.

I’m right in there with all you people who like to make fun of pairs of shorts and pairs of pants when you’re talking about a single piece of clothing. It’s all clean fun. And it has been explained why those articles of clothing are referred to in the plural when they are singular in function. That’s fine.

I was in my beloved Costco a few days ago checking out the clothes, when I noticed they did not have any shorts. They had short(s). I don’t even know how to write this, because if I say they had shorts you will fail to understand fully this weird occurrence. Here’s a picture, that should explain it to you.

Shocking! Isn’t it?

I immediately searched the women’s and men’s tables for the historically correct and accepted word “shorts.” I came up short.

My next task was to ask Merriam-Webster. There is no shortage of definitions for the word “short.” A long way down in his definitions it is stated that shorts are knee-length or less trousers – usually in plural. Short drawers.

Whew, I felt better. Until…

 

Yep. All the tags come up short. I mean they are selling short, which of course means we are now dealing with the stock market and I’ll have to ask my financial advisor son to give me a short explanation of this.

I’m going to end this now just in case your attention span is short.

 

Walking with Ellen and Shaq

As Bob and I strolled along the beach with our feet in the water, it seemed like every other shirt on the beach was trying to tell us something. I was especially entertained by a nine-year-old who wore a shirt that said: “Take More Risks.”

Seriously, kid, who are you to tell me what to do!

We were just chatting while taking a nice stroll down the beach, but we kept passing t-shirts that begged to be read.

“Save Water. Drink Wine”

“I Pooped Today”

“Whatever”

We talked about what our clothing was like when we were kids back in the 60s. We didn’t think about making literal statements on our clothes. The clothes were the statement (and they didn’t say much).

Pretty much it was like this: You have clothes. Be happy.

At least that’s the sentiment suggested by our parents.

This gave way to a conversation about designers and branding, which is something I haven’t really cared about in my clothing. I simply want clothes that aren’t too expensive and make me look smarter, thinner, tanner, more approachable, slightly aloof, sophisticated, down-to-earth, and can be purchased at Costco. That’s it.

I do like words though. And if these kinds of shirts were around when I was a kid, you can be sure I would have begged my parents for them, been upset that they wouldn’t buy them for me, and then moped about it until either they or I couldn’t stand it anymore and I was forced to get over it.

Since Bob has become a grandfather, he has become particularly good at conveying an I-walked-30-miles-to-school-in-the-snow-uphill-both-ways” posit, so he elaborated about his childhood, which according to him was mostly spent outside fending for himself like an animal until his parents turned on the porch light and he and his sisters were allowed to return home. Clothing was required but nobody cared what it looked like.

I looked at his clothes and mine as we walked along and said, “Our clothes aren’t saying anything.”

But then I looked closer. While t-shirts yell things at you, our clothes were much more subdued. We took inventory. Bob was wearing:

  • Adidas ballcap
  • Adidas beach shirt
  • Nike swimsuit with a small swoosh
  • O’Neill flip-flops

I really teased him about being a walking, whispering advertisement. Then he turned on me.

My flip-flops were Sanuk. That was all the advertising we could find without looking at the inside tag of my swimsuit. We are very competitive, so we looked at this like golf. The person with less name brands would be the winner.

“What about your glasses?” he asked in frustration. (It looked like I was going to win this round in a cruel and unfair way.)

“You got me there,” I said. “They’re Ellen Degeneres.”

I was winning – 4 to 2, but I felt bad. I was not wearing a hat or a swimsuit cover-up, so the playing field wasn’t even. I thought I should declare it a tie, but then I realized something. “Hey. You’re wearing glasses, too.”

Bob looked at me defeated. “They’re Shaquille O’Neal.”

“Shaquille O’Neal! Shaq has a line of eye glasses? That guy’s into everything, and he just gave me the win.”

I’m still not sure why I find it so funny that Shaq has a line of glasses, but it cracked me up. So, we finished our walk – Bob in his Shaq’s and me in my Ellen’s. Two walking, whispering billboards.

 

Taken!

I am sure you remember the riveting account of our new garbage can that I told you about in April (The Great Garbage Can Controversy). I shared from the heart about that can and even revealed some marital differences which Bob and I had over it. Does anyone else share such intimate details of their life with you?

Anyway, with that in mind, you can imagine the dismay that was mine when I went to the curb to add garbage to that cherished receptacle and found it missing last week. Seriously, is nothing sacred?

I called Bob at work to see if he was playing some kind of weird hide-and-seek game with me. I half expected to find clues hidden around the house as to its whereabouts; but he assured me that wasn’t the case. Someone stole our 45-gallon beauty.

We have had family in town for the last 3.5 weeks, so it was literally all cans on deck. We were taking garbage out two or three times a day. The paper products alone would fill a can in a day. Seriously, we had up to 20 people here daily. I had a spread sheet to help me remember who was coming and going and which nights we were cooking. It was intense scheduling.

The guest of honor was our 9-month-old grandson from Michigan, who was here for two weeks with his parents and brother. It was his presence that brought in the masses as nobody except for me had met him yet. He was very popular!

He also produced a lot of wet and otherwise soiled diapers. I don’t know what our deranged thief was thinking, but I have to believe that if they were looking for gold nuggets, those weren’t the kind of nuggets they found.

I drove the neighborhood looking for our can. I had a picture of it to help ID it. Alas, I did find one can at the curb that looked like ours, but the garbage inside didn’t smell like wet diapers so I left it alone. (Yes, I stopped and checked it out.)

Image result for picture of garbage can running

photo credit: dreamstime.com

My theory is that some kid stole it and brought it home as a prank. I theorize that he or she also took several others. I can picture their mom asking where did all these garbage cans come from and saying to return them. Alas, it would be impossible to remember where they all came from. Yep, that’s my theory. So now I’m looking for a house with 10 or 20 cans lined up along the side yard and a frustrated mom who answers the door. That is way more entertaining than someone going through our garbage to get “the dirt” on us.

 

 

I Got This

I like to watch the news in the morning, but when we have a house full of grandchildren, I let the world take care of itself for a few days. Except for the weather. I’m kind of a nut about keeping up with the weather. Yes, I do know about weather apps and mine is a close friend. But I like to see the big national map and hear what local meteorologist Jayme King has to say.

Two of my grandchildren sat with me this morning as I watched. Jett, who is almost 11 and entering the sixth grade next month, said he likes the weather because it’s the only thing he really understands on the news.

Four-year-old Felix was happy to watch it because he knows when it’s over, he gets to watch Paw Patrol. But first, a little conversation.

Cousins

Felix – What do you like better, rain or sun?

Jett – Sun.

Felix – Me, too.

Jett – You know, you need the sun because it makes rain. It heats the water up and …

Felix interrupting – I got this. The sun pulls the water up from the oceans and lakes and it falls back down as rain.

Jett – He just explained the water cycle. I didn’t learn that until this year in the fifth grade.

Felix – Well, I’m in zero grade and I already learned that.

Jett and I just look at each other amazed and afraid to add anything else to the conversation. Neither of us is particularly comfortable with a four-year-old being smarter than we are, but we’re adjusting.

I Could Have Had All the Toys

If there had been social media when I was raising my kids, I could have had all the toys.

My daughter-in-law posted this to her Face Book page:

This might be a long shot, but to any of my local friends: do your kids have any of these (picture included) Toy Story 4 McDonald’s toys they don’t want anymore? Or perhaps you are trying to build the RV too and have doubles of a toy like we do? My son is trying to complete the RV and we need three more pieces that might have already gone through circulation. Anyone want to trade?

 

Last I checked, after two days there were 30 comments and 1 share for this post. So many helpful people trying to meet the wishes of my grandson. I was so proud of my daughter-in-law.

But to really appreciate this, you need to know the back story. When I was raising my four children, I really liked collecting happy meal toys. When I say “really liked,” read – was slightly obsessed. When I say “slightly obsessed,” I mean completely obsessed. I even had a reputation, which was mentioned in the comments from a few of my oldest friends and family.

In those days, Friday was McDonald’s lunch day. I home-schooled, so it was an end-of-the-week treat. I’d go to the drive-through and order a meal for them and a meal for me. That way they’d have a toy to play with and I’d build my own complete set to be kept in the box or package. In the collectible world that’s called NRFB (never removed from box). I had plastic crates full of these glorious toys.

The problem was, sometimes McDonald’s would not have everything I needed to complete my set. At first, I would drive from shop to shop, asking if they had a certain toy. This was time consuming and didn’t always get the desired result and it made me feel kind of like a nitwit. Plus, if my kids were with me, they complained that I was trying to starve them. Every stop was taunting their taste buds, but I would not be deterred.

I tried calling around to the different McDonald’s in the area (approximately 47 within 15 minutes of us) to see who had what I lacked, but I didn’t really trust that they really searched, so I went back to going there and watching them search.

I am fairly certain that I was the most hated but loyal McDonald’s customer in the area. I know it embarrassed my older kids. One of them even wrote a short story about me trying to exchange a Barbie happy meal toy because she had a scratch on her nose. There was a lot of exaggeration in the story. I did not really punch or threaten anyone. I never jumped over the counter and went through the toy bins myself. But I did point out the scratch and exchange her while my kids sat with another woman and called her mom.

But back to the present. I told my sweet daughter-in-law how happy her post had made me. I even was able to find one of the three toys she was seeking. It was like I had traveled back in time.

She then informed me that it was really my son who was determined to complete the set. My grandson was, too. Well, that’s when I knew that I had raised my kids well. Sometimes you wonder if your kids will turn out okay, if they’ll make good parents. Then something like this happens. Looks like I must have done something right after all.

Happy Independence Day!

The Statue of Liberty – beautiful even on a cloudy, rainy day
Photo Credit: Me

I hope all of my USA friends enjoy celebrating our great country today. To veterans, active-duty military, and first responders, thank you!  And to my international friends, may you have a wonderful day as well.

Boom, There It is (x 3)

Sometimes forgetting something is the best, and so it was the night of June 24. SpaceX was due to launch another of its Falcon Heavy Rockets at 11:30 PM. More accurately, that was when the launch window would open. Launch windows are tricky and no two seem to be alike. Sometimes there is no window, they must launch exactly at that moment or wait until another day. That is rare, though, usually they have a span of a couple of hours.

I don’t live on the Space Coast. I live 45.24 miles from the Kennedy Space Center as the crow flies (thanks, Alexa). Our living room faces east, so I only have to step outside and I can see the rocket’s red and yellow glare above the tree line seconds after lift-off. It’s a great view and if a launch gets scrubbed, I just go back inside.

No photo description available.

Photo Credit: Fox35 WOFL

I really wanted to watch the June 24 launch. It has been unbelievably hot down here but the humidity hasn’t been too bad, so clear skies were expected. But I forgot all about it and was asleep before 11. At approximately 2:45 AM, Bob and I were jolted awake by the familiar sonic booms – only unlike the space shuttle’s double booms, this time there were three.

falcon heavy launch

Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

I jumped out of bed and ran to the front door as Bob reminded me that, by the time we hear the booms, the event is over. Not to be deterred and also not fully awake, I maneuvered through the dark (why didn’t I turn on a light?) and beheld a great view of a very dark sky.

At this point I was fully awake and experienced a mixed bag of thankfulness and regret that I didn’t stay up waiting for the 2:30 AM launch as several of our friends did. After all, some of us (Bob) have to work the next day, and that is precisely why I didn’t engage Bob in conversation as we tried to get back to sleep.

My obstacle was that the house was making weird, creaking noises, which I verified with Bob before I let him off the hook of getting to the why of those noises. I’m nice like that. Why are house sounds so loud in the still of the night?

We live in a 35-year-old wood-frame house. I have noticed it creaks more than our former block home did. This is especially evident on colder nights, but this wasn’t a cold night – far from it. Perhaps some dynamic process is at work changing our house by degrees. I’m assuming that kind of dynamic is thermal.

Real-Life Men Of Science Who Made

Real Scientists Who’ve Been on The Big Bang Theory, Photo Credit: http://www.cbs.com/shows/big_bang_theory/photos/page/9/

All I’ve learned about thermal dynamics could be contained in a very tiny book. I’ve picked up a few things by osmosis because my hubby is a mechanical engineer and also because I like to watch The Big Bang Theory. It’s a very educational show. Or is it? If you don’t know for sure, then it could be classified as Schrodinger’s TV show. It could be a good show or a bad one, but until you turn it on and see for yourself, it must be classified as both – or neither. (I learned all about Schrodinger’s Cat from the Big Bang Theory. It has proved to be valuable information. Or has it?)

You can now understand how kind and merciful I was to my husband by not starting up this type of conversation with him at 3 o’clock in the morning. After dinner, no such mercy was extended. We had a stimulating conversation about whether or not the sonic booms from the 2 side boosters and the center core booster, which crashed, could have been responsible for the increase in creakiness of our house that night.

I wondered if sound waves could have gone out in concentric circles and had an effect on our house. Could this be related to the sonic booms? Also, the more we talked about it, the more my mind wandered to Sonic Drive-In Restaurants, even though I have never been to one. I kind of got in the mood for a milkshake but it was too late so I settled for a dish of ice cream and an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Bob, tired from the night before, just went to bed.

Tong in Cheek

When I’m not traipsing around the country and hovering over canyons, my life is pretty normal. And who says that normal isn’t exciting? Just this week I added some spice to our life with the purchase of new grilling tongs. We had quite the stimulating conversation after that purchase!

Summer brings with it the need for multiple pairs of tongs. It also brings the question – why is it a pair of tongs when they are a single unit? It’s like a pair of pants. I just don’t get it. Plural in form but singular in use – kind of confusing, and nobody says they put their pant on one leg at a time. If they did, they might be panting from the strain of holding them together.

Strain – Since we’re talking about kitchen tools – what’s the difference between a strainer and a colander? Can I “coland” myself if I work too hard? Crazy English language! My mom always called that thing a strainer, and its main use was as a drainer of liquid. I understand colanders have larger holes and strainers tend towards mesh or screen to facilitate the drain, but the words are frequently used interchangeably. I think colander sounds like it requires less work – a little classier.

But this post is about tongs and the plethora of things that are better served with the proper tongs. There’s corn on the cob, hot dogs, chicken on the grill, ice, pinching your husband. All of these have tongs that are appropriate and specific for the activity involved. Of this I am convinced. Bob is not.

I showed him our lovely new grilling tongs. He said we didn’t need them because our other tongs worked great. Oh contraire! The other ones were shorter and had silicon on the pinching end. I couldn’t be sure, but if I had the original packaging, it probably did not mention grill use.

I pointed this out to Bob who said that once I cut the tag off of the new tongs, there would be no proof that they were meant for the grill. That is why I’m going to frame this picture and hang it in the kitchen.

Our conversation kept its momentum (weak as it was) through dinner. We were eating corn on the cob. I cooked it on the stove and, of course, used the proper tongs to remove it from the hot water. I decided not to mention that to Bob for fear he would feel antagonized or, even worse, that he would think I was going off the deep end.

While enjoying our corn, which is at the pinnacle of its season, I mentioned that I thought I could eat corn every night. It’s so amazing right now.

Bob added that they use corn to fatten cows.

That’s pretty much where the conversation stopped, but I have plans to use those new tongs the next time his back is turned.

 

High in Colorado

The final destination of our Arizona trip was Colorado Springs, where we were going to meet up with family. That was what gave us the thought to go to Sedona and check it off our bucket list, you know, as long as we were in the area. By “in the area,” I mean some place out west.

We traveled via rental car from Sedona to Colorado, thereby allowing us to check off another national park from our national park list. We like lists. Be they bucket, national park, grocery, to-do, birthday, or Christmas – we are very pro list.

We were given a welcome to Colorado which was worthy of any westward-ho band of travelers. I loved their sign and the view in the distance. I wish I could tell you the route we took because it seemed to be off the beaten path, but alas I have no idea where we were. Frankly, I didn’t care. I left all that to my trusty engineer who loves maps almost as much as he loves me.

I wonder if people in Colorado notice its beauty on a daily basis. I hope they don’t take it for granted like I sometimes do the palm trees and beaches where I live. Maybe that’s why it’s extra special for those of us from flat Florida. Any hill is a novelty in Orlando, so those Rocky Mountains almost put me on my face. Gawking at the scenery was a huge part of the trip.

The reason for our specific route was so we could stop at Great Sand Dunes National Park. It contains the tallest dunes in North America. From a distance we could see the dunes lined up along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. As we drove closer, we could see the clear demarcation of mountainside, dunes, and water.

Dunes in the distance

You have to cross Medano Creek to get to the dunes.

The temperature was still much lower than normal, and the wind was making it feel even cooler. These things combined made the decision to look at instead of hike through the dunes an easy one. We watched children floating along Medano Creek as others waded through it to get (to the other side) to the Dunes. We grabbed our sandwiches and sat at a picnic table shivering and enjoying the view. It was a quick visit, but it counts!

We spent Memorial Day weekend in Colorado Springs, and may I say I highly recommend it. Plus, the weather finally caught up with the calendar and I began to thaw out. The time spent with family and friends there was memorable. The views of the mountains would have been enough for me, but when you add in golf for the guys and spa time for the ladies – it doesn’t get much better than that. Unless you get daring and stretch yourself out of your comfort zone.

Most of our group decided to go zip-lining at Seven Falls, which I believe is now owned by the Broadmoor. Bob and I had hiked around Seven Falls during a past trip with our son and his family, before this zip-line existed. I had zip-lined before, and I thought it might be fun to do it again, but what I did before barely prepared me for this course. This course includes 5 zip-lines, 2 rope bridges (over canyons, way over canyons), and a 180-foot assisted rappel, which felt more like being lowered, but that was freaky enough for me.

Bob and I in our gear

The adventure began with a van trip up a mountain where they pulled off the side of the road and dropped us off. We hiked down to our practice area where we were outfitted with 15 pounds of gear and given a ten-minute instruction followed by a 10-second practice zip-line. Then we climbed the ladder to our first zip-line.

The first three were fun and easy, but they simply prepared you for what was ahead, which was two terrifying-looking rope bridges and two more zip-lines across the canyon above the tree line. These two zips are so far from start to finish that you cannot really see where you are going, but we followed our trusty guides (one in front and one behind).

New zip line adventure awaits at Seven Falls in Colorado Springs

photo credit: gazette.com

At the bridges there is a point of no return. We lost three of our group at that point (not the tragic type of loss). They were happy to have done the three zip-lines and happy to take pictures from below so they turned back.

Surprisingly, I was not one of the three. I maneuvered across the rope bridges even stopping to look down at the canyon and do some bird watching from the bird’s point of view. I cannot say enough good things about our guides. They really put me at ease. We were told to maintain three points of contact across the bridges at all times. No problem!

After the rope bridges came the two main zip-lines. The guide would take one of the lines which was attached to us, remove it from where it was hooked on the center post of the platform (which has no railings, by the way), and attach it to the zip-line. She repeats the process with the second line so we are always secure. The first guide soars across the canyon and waits as one-by-one we leave the security of our elevated platform to soar across the canyon. The second guide follows the last person.

This takes a bit of time as they recheck all of our equipment and send the group of 6 or 7 of us across individually. When I was waiting on the platform, I was pretty calm but I did become best friends with that center post to which I was attached.

The final zip-line is a quarter of a mile long. It takes about 45 second to cross it and it was exhilarating! I loved it.

The most awkward part was the rappel. You had to kind of step and lean out off of the platform before you (slowly) plunged to the ground. It wasn’t bad once I figured it out. But it sure felt strange.

Fins Course

The rappel down. Photo credit: gazette.com

I’ve included about 17 seconds of the 45 second glide that was the last zip-line. That tiny spot with the greenish/blue shirt is me. By the way, you’re traveling about 45 mph on this course. Did I mention it was awesome? It was!

 

Thanks for coming along on my adventure!

The Sun Finally Sets on Sedona

Our last hike was through Red Rock State Park. We joined a two-hour guided tour being given by a park ranger who took a little too much time with the flora when I was more interested in the fauna. I do enjoy some good flora, but it was a bit much for me.

The parks that we have visited in the Southwest are not so chocked full of animals like in the Northwest. While mule deer, javelina, coyotes, and bobcats are normal visitors, we saw none of the above. We saw a stray jackrabbit, and a few people at the end of our group saw a rattlesnake – shudder! That was it except for birds.

The park has a songbird feeder area at the rear of the Visitor Center. This was just below where our tour began. I was so distracted with the birds that I’m not sure what I was supposed to learn at the beginning of the tour, but I knew exactly what I was going to do at the tour’s end.

After hiking through the park, we went to the car, placed our Diet Cokes into can koozies, grabbed a bag of pretzels, and headed to the bird area. We joined another couple with whom we had an immediate rapport. They, too, had their Diet Cokes in can koozies and were enjoying the birds. It was like we were twin couples separated at birth, only to be reunited by the use of can koozies and a love of bird watching.

Here are a few of my many shots of the birds:

Female Northern Cardinal

Hummingbird – Arizona is a premium place to see hummingbirds. I can’t ID the different species.

Western Tanager

Hummingbird in flight

“Poser” Hummingbird

Unknown and it’s driving me crazy

Jim and Pat were from Colorado and we spent an hour with them talking about birds, where we live, and the churches we are a part of. It was like we’d known them forever, which was proven the next day when Bob and I were sitting on a bench in town enjoying the mountain views and they walked by. I yelled, “Jim and Pat!”

They said, “Bob and Bonnie,” and came over and we hugged and talked some more. She laughed and said a passer-by would think we were long, lost friends. This time we exchanged info and we look forward to meeting up with them again sometime. Note: The most amazing part of this story is that we remembered each other’s names.

Something about this sign seemed inconsistent to me

Our last day in Sedona was a designated rest/shop/golf driving range day. Part of that day was visiting the local bookstore. In Sedona, the shelves are what you would expect except for the extra-large section of books about crystals, vortex info, psychics, well-being, metaphysics, and new-age material.

We found these types of things in many shops around town, and while we were not interested in them personally, a lot of people flock to Sedona for just those reasons. Plus, it’s beautiful there, so there truly is something for everyone.

There was one man we met who really stood out. He worked at our resort. After talking to him for a while, I asked him, “Out of all the people you talk to, what percentage would you say tell you that you look like Ted Danson?”

“Almost 100 percent,” he replied.

What do you think?

 

Ted Dansen doppelganger

In closing, I need to tell you something we learned about the sunsets in Sedona. Between the rain, clouds, and our naiveté about the area, it took us a few days to realize that we were looking in the wrong direction when trying to watch the sun go down. We would find a nice area with unobstructed view and, of course, look westward. That’s a rookie mistake in Sedona. You look east toward the mountains. When the sun reflects off the smooth rocks, that’s when you get the show. It was spectacular.

Sedona Sunset Looking Westward

 

Glistening Sunset Looking toward the East

They both are lovely, but the way the sun bounces off of the rocks was quite magical. What do you think?

And that’s a wrap of Sedona. Hope you enjoyed it and hope you get to go there. A lot of folks have told me it’s on their bucket list. If you go, be sure to look for our friend, Derek, I mean Ted Danson.