Searching for the Worst Beach in Florida

Bob and I celebrated our 45th anniversary last weekend. This was not without its challenges due to the pandemic and a tropical storm/hurricane threatening Florida’s east coast. Isaias (ees-ah-EE-ahs) turned out to be a dud storm for Florida, thank God, but it caused damage up the I-95 corridor. It’s gone now – only clean-up remains. Other than the obvious reason to breathe a sigh of relief, we are grateful that we will not have to listen to people trying to say Isaias properly. One local radio announcer dubbed it “the storm with the name we can’t pronounce.”

And speaking of storm names – who are the ad wizards that came up with these? Later in the year we will have a storm named Nana. Seriously? Nana is threatening the coast. Nana is knocking out power. We hope Nana doesn’t come on shore. But I digress.

A day trip seemed a good plan. Being inside with all the masked people and pandemic reminders dampening our mood was not what we wanted for our anniversary. We love a good day trip and love to explore places we have not seen, so we headed for North Central Florida’s West Coast.

We threw our swimsuits, beach chairs, and a cooler in the car and were off for adventure. Who knew what we would find? Who knew what perfect little beaches we would discover? Who knew if we would find a place where we could use the bathroom?

First stop was Crystal River. It is famous around the state for its scenic nuclear power plant. Seeing the majestic steam billowing up to the sky, well, that’s nature at its finest. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy we have it. In Florida having power is what it’s all about. We get cranky when our AC is out.

We rambled down the road and found a crowded little beach right on the Gulf. I guess you have to get up pretty early in the morning to get a parking space, so we opted for a picnic by the river, which turned out to be the highlight of our trip.

Next stop was Lil’ Shark Park at Cedar Key. We had heard great things about Cedar Key, but in retrospect all those things were from people who had boats. We had a Styrofoam pool noodle.

You know those cute little couples who even though they have been married for 45 years still hold hands? We were one of them. Of course, we were motivated by the need to steady each other as we walked into the water. I was surprised by the slippery slime under my feet. To add to the ambiance, the smell of dead fish wafted around us like mosquitoes on a summer night. We stayed ten minutes.

It was 4 o’clock and we were riding around in our wet swimsuits still in search of a place to swim. Surely Pine Island would provide that. By 5:30 we were in the Gulf again. This was a step up from Cedar Key. We could walk in the water without fear of falling, but it felt like we were walking on fishing nets. I walked about a quarter mile before getting to waist deep water. It didn’t stink and although it felt yucky on my feet, it wasn’t completely gross. We got wet. We saw a small pod of dolphins. We left.

When we changed from our swimsuits in a beach house that was about 85 degrees inside and smelled like wet dog, I got homesick for our backyard (which is where we spent the next day). We were on the road again by 6:15. Little did we know that our real adventure was finding Florida’s worst beach.

Our day in summary:

Wildlife seen: 6 dolphins, 2 otters, 1 deer

Nuclear Power plants spotted: 1

Things I’ve never seen in Central or Eastern Florida: quarries, sawmills

Places to which I would return: 0

Worst beach to swim in Florida: Lil’ Shark Park at Cedar Key

Time spent with Bob: 13 hours of talking and laughing and enjoying being together. We can’t wait to go to Clearwater!

 

 

 

It’s Springtime – Be Careful Out There

Busy bee on orange blossom. I wish you could smell this!

Bob goes to work. I stay home. I have no need to justify myself to my husband regarding what I do all day. It’s simply not necessary. He is an amazing man and the most supportive life partner (we’ll be married 45 years in August) I could have ever dreamed of having. Even my (imaginary) list of how many days I cook or what I prepare for dinner, which counts as cooking, is really only a joke. Okay, mostly a joke. Cooking isn’t my favorite. (Can we order pizza tonight, Bob?)

But after a particularly “grueling” week (read – I went outside), I decided to give him a list of the injuries I had inflicted on myself in the past seven days. I mean, you don’t get these kinds of boo-boos without exerting yourself.

  1. I burned my finger on the oven rack while cooking dinner. Yes, it was only a first-degree burn, but it hurt. A little. Bob was kind enough not to give me the third degree or rake me over the coals about it. He’s like that.
  2. I got another injury while pruning my roses. One of those nasty thorns ripped my finger. You could almost see the tear. I put a Band-Aid on it to bring attention to my suffering and possibly secure a dose of sympathy or an invitation to go out for dinner from Bob, I mean to keep it from snagging on things. (This was also risky since I’m sensitive to adhesive. I could have broken out, but I didn’t.)
  3. My hands went numb after I cut back a few too many hedges, including my roses. When we played pinochle later that night, I had difficulty holding the cards. This was weird even for me and lasted a day or so, but I have recovered. No Band-Aids were needed. I should note that I only worked around an hour, so this was more pitiful than anything else.
  4. I jammed my knee. This was not work-related. This was more stupid-related. I attempted to walk to our hot tub in the dark in order to soak my weary self after working in the yard. I walked smack into the metal edge of a stool. Since I could trace this back to working in the yard, I will count it.

After I lamented my injury-laden week to Bob, I said, “Just in case you wonder what I do around here all day. I’m active; you can’t get injuries without doing stuff.”

He replied, “Actually you can. They’re called bed sores.”

I’m not sure if he was implying anything here, but thankfully, my pride was not wounded.

Happy Spring! My azaleas are in bloom.

Love is Blind

Bob, me, and Dena 1983

When we were in our first decade or so of marriage, we had to be creative with our date nights. Inflation was out of control (raising four children is the very definition of inflation). Funds were always tight. Sometimes Bob and I would go to the mall and walk around, get ice cream, or go to the bookstore. Not too exciting, but it got us some time together out of the house, and we enjoyed it.

I am one who believes that you can make your own entertainment if you just put your imagination to use. That is why Bob didn’t care too much for walking around the mall with me.

During these walks, sometimes I would challenge him by acting like I was blind. This was especially fun when he would walk a few feet away from me and I would act panicked with my hands outstretched grabbing at the air while calling his name. Sometimes I’d even add, “please don’t leave me alone again,” just for effect.

Bob loved this game as much as you can imagine he did. I often marvel that our marriage is going strong after 44 years!

Of course, I thought I was hysterical. Poor Bob! The thing is, since that time we have watched both of our fathers lose their eyesight. Yep, it doesn’t seem quite as funny anymore, except when I think about my sweet husband navigating marriage through the Altamonte Mall while I was acting like he had navigated himself away from me, I can’t help but chuckle. Even Bob will smile at that memory.

I made the mistake of telling this story to Dena (my daughter). She loved the dark humor and suggested I post it on Halloween. Personally, I wasn’t sure I wanted you to know about this weird side of me, but since I came up empty in the idea department, I relented.

I have matured since those early days. Now I would never act like I’m blind – that’s a little too close to home. I am in my sixties though, and I can tell you that this aging thing is quite interesting. If you want to be scared on Halloween, think about that. My father-in-law once told me that being old was the hardest thing he had ever done, and he was a WWII vet.

Today, I might act like I can’t remember some things – like cooking or cleaning or how to defrag my computer. But there is a method to that madness.

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.

 

Is this some kind of a hint?

I think I’ve gotten myself into some trouble from yesterday’s post about movie pairings. Somehow Bob took this as a sign that I planned to cook or at least assemble dinner for the two of us.

After having family stay with us for the last six weeks, I assured him that my intentions were nothing more than to provide ideas which someone, maybe even him, could put in place.

His next move was to leave me a hint courtesy of last Thursday’s Orlando Sentinel.

 

I know better than to assume the entire news story is above the fold.

 

I countered his move by stopping at the grocery store for balsamic vinegar.

“Well played,” he responded as he put the steaks on the grill. “Well played.”

 

This is Post #29 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

The Great Garbage Can Controversy

We made a very unexciting purchase recently – a purchase that we didn’t exactly agree on. It’s not like there was a huge discussion though. We bought a new a garbage can.

I thought our garbage cans were acceptable. I even asked the guy on the truck and he said he’d seen a worse. But Bob likes to replace things before they disintegrate, so he decided a new one was in order.

I really do appreciate Bob not waiting until things are dilapidated before replacing them. That was the same reasoning he used when he bought me my car, so I should just shut up about it. But I knew he would go off to work with a view of our garbage cans in his rear-view mirror, and I would be faced with the question: How does one throw away a garbage can?

It’s not like I could put one inside of the other. I already had the word from the garbage collectors, who are experts at such things, that ours was not necessarily garbage material. Even though the very name garbage can could be interpreted as such, but I digress.

So, I decided to listen and wait for the sound of the truck coming down the street. They usually collect around 10 in the morning, I’d just rush out and meet them. Of course, that day they came at 4 in the afternoon, so I spent most of my day jumping up and running to the door to see if they were coming. It was like I was a kid waiting for the ice-cream man. Finally, they came and the disposal of our trusty, old can was complete.

Shiny New Garbage Can – Isn’t it pretty?

But that opened up an entirely new situation. Every time I’d take the garbage out, I would put it in the remaining old can, the lesser of the two evils, which Bob kept. The new one was so nice and shiny. It didn’t even smell like garbage. It seemed wrong to treat it like it was any old garbage can. I wanted to keep it nice for as long as possible. I didn’t realize how weird this was until I went to throw garbage out and saw that Bob had placed the new can to the front and he had put garbage in it. Can you imagine a person doing such a thing? He had reduced the older, beat-up can to back-up.

I stood there staring. How could I let him throw trash in it? To treat it like garbage? I could not. I reached down and switched the bag to the old can. This went on for over a week until I finally confronted Bob about it. “Why are you putting garbage in that beautiful new can?”

“What are you saving it for? It’s a garbage can,” he said.

And it was. He filled it with too much garbage for me to switch to the other can. It was over. The garbage smell had arrived. Try as I may, I couldn’t save it.

I looked at him and said, “I just can’t keep anything nice around here.”

 

This is Day 4 of The Ultimate Blog Challenge

Things My Husband Shouldn’t Say to Me

Sunday was a beautiful day – the perfect day for my husband to take a well-deserved rest by the pool. (We live in Florida.) I was happy watching him soak up the sun while reading a book. Well, I was happy until he came in. Let me recount our conversation for you.

Bob looking in the mirror at his chest after spending two hours by the pool – “Oh, I guess I did get a little sun out there today.”

Me, realizing I have to go to the dermatologist on Tuesday for my semi-annual humiliation, I mean skin check – “You are a little red. You need to be careful.”

Bob – “Don’t worry. It’ll be brown in a day. I think it’s already turning brown.”

Me throwing my hands up in frustration – “Brag, brag, brag! Do you know how long it would take me to go from red to brown? Hum? Or to get anything that resembles a tan? No, of course you don’t. Nobody knows! It’s like the mystery of how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie roll center of a Tootsie pop.”

End scene.

Say, “bees!”

Just so you know, today I did go to the dermatologist and it was a very good day for this pasty-white girl. A good day means 21 freezes of pre-skin-cancer areas and 1 small biopsy. Boom!

This is what I looked like afterwards. Warning, no make-up. Now you, Bob, and my dermatologist are the only ones who get to see me like this. Feel privileged and always use a good sunscreen of 50 SPF or above. If they had that when I was a kid maybe I wouldn’t come out of the dermatologist’s office every six months looking like I was attacked by a swarm of bees.

 

 

 

 

This is Post #3 of the April Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Don’t Give Me That Look

I am a responsible adult. That means that I get the oil changed in my car regularly. Though regularly may be up for interpretation, I shoot for every 5,000 miles. My car turned over 50,000 miles and even with my mathematical limitations, I knew it was time.

As I type this, I’m taken back to the time, lo those many years ago, when I first drove by myself to get my oil changed at a quick-service center. Driving over a large hole with a person waiting in said hole was a little nerve-wracking. The guy waving me in like I was driving a 747 seemed unaffected by the potential disaster that my car careening into that hole would cause. To his credit, his confidence in me was not misplaced.  I tried to act nonchalant, but it was a proud moment. Just another day.

But this time when I pulled up I encountered someone who had hand signals of his own making. First he did the come straight ahead signal with both hands extended and fingers moving toward his palms. Then he waved me a little to the right. Then briefly back to the first signal. Then he did this thing that was like he was imitating a butterfly with his hands fluttering towards each other and then away. I, of course, stopped. I figured he must be messing with the guy down in the pit or chasing a mosquito. He then yelled for me to pull forward.

When he reached my window, I told him I wasn’t quite sure what he wanted me to do. To that he replied, “First time, huh.”

Because he was going to be fooling around under my car’s hood, I decided to let that one go. I turned off my engine and pulled out my phone. That was a mistake. He said he needed my mileage. I looked at my dark dashboard. I wondered if I turned my car on if I would rip the hands off of the guy under my car.

You know how you can turn your key to the left for battery power? Of course you do. You’re no idiot. The problem for me is that I have a push-button ignition and in the 4.5 years that I’ve owned this car I’ve turned on battery power maybe once. And that was by accident.

So then I had to look at this joker and tell him I didn’t know how to find that information for him without starting my car. He gave me a look like this was my second strike. I was beginning to feel self-conscious so I blurted out, “This really is my car.”

He then very nicely told me what to do. I gave him the exact mileage and he walked away while I tried to figure out how to turn off the battery power without, once again, starting my car and then abruptly turning it off, all the while wondering if I could really hurt somebody (and I’m not talking about the guy who waved me in). I decided that it didn’t matter if it was on. If my battery went dead, somebody there would give me a jump.

The story has a happy ending. Nobody was hurt during my routine oil change. I didn’t fall in the hole. My battery didn’t fail me. I didn’t smack the young man who asked me for my mileage. Plus, when I got home I checked in with my engineer to see if my anxiety about turning my car on was justified. He said I could have hurt somebody if his hand was in the wrong place and I turned on the car. I think he was pretty proud of me for not causing any injuries that day. So proud that he said next time he’d be happy to get my oil changed for me.