The Problem with Passports

Bob and I gazed intently into each other’s eyes. “What color are my eyes?” he asked.

“I’m not sure, what color are mine?” I replied.

“I’m not sure either, but I’m renewing our passports and the Department of State wants to know.

We’ve been married 46 years, and looked into each other’s eyes so many times, yet I still have trouble discerning what color they are. Thankfully, he has the same problem. We have trouble distinguishing between hues.  

Surprise, surprise – the United States government has gotten pickier. The forms are longer and require more information. Things have changed since we renewed our passports ten years ago.

Uncle Sam now wants us to tell him what color our eyes and hair are. Isn’t that covered with our pictures? I wonder if someone at customs will even look that closely at our eyes. “Sorry, sir, you cannot enter our country because you claim to have green eyes and they are clearly blue with a greenish tint.”

Bob and I have that color eyes that seems to change from greenish to blueish depending on what we’re wearing. I’ve always claimed to have green eyes, but some people have commented on my blue eyes. It’s very confusing, but we knew it was our civic duty to finally lay to rest the eye color question. I wish you could have seen us getting in good light, naked, so as not to affect eye color change. On second thought, maybe not.

Next, it was time to figure out what color hair we have. Bob was easy – gray. As usual, I was more complicated. Typically I don’t think a flip about my hair color, as long as I can cover up the gray. There was not a choice of light brown or dark blonde or mostly blonde with gray roots. I decided to go with blonde – I hope they’re okay with that. (It’s quite the challenging form to fill out.)

Plus, as far as hair goes, it does. It goes for some guys, and it gets colored. Does this mean that I have to keep my appearance the same as my passport photo? If only! The last decade has resulted in some subtle changes in my appearance. I don’t think it’s going to get any better moving forward.

To further vex me, my beloved Costco no longer has a photo department where we can get inexpensive photos to send along to Uncle Sam during our weekly visits there. We were forced to use Walgreens like regular people.

The picture taking was disturbing, too. We decided to get ours done on the way to a dinner date. That way I would have fixed my hair, put on a little make-up and jewelry, and basically not look like I do every other day. Except that day I was suffering from dry eye syndrome and couldn’t wear eye make-up. That’s okay (I thought), I’ll put on some foundation, eyebrows, and lips. I’ll have jewelry on to give me some color and I wear glasses. As for Bob, he took a shower and combed his hair. Life is so much simpler for him!

At Walgreens, things took a bit of a turn. For the photos you are not allowed to wear jewelry or glasses, and you must put your hair behind your ears. Then, as before, they zoom in for a close-up that shows every open pour on your nose and all the new wrinkles you try not to think about, and there you go! Voila! A picture that haunts you because it’s going to be your identifier for the next ten years.

What have I learned through all of this? I am much more vain than I realized. I’ll do what it takes to be able to travel. None of this really matters. And Bob’s and my eyes are definitely green.

Extra credit: Can you distinguish between these Hughs?

Photo credit: depositphotos.com
Photo credit: depositphotos.com
Photo Credit: pngkey.com

Things That Go Crash at 6:59 in the Morning

My hubby retired on July 2. He continues to do contract work for his former company but only every other Tuesday. What are the odds that today, the other Tuesday, would be the day when he goes happily off to the office and is out of the house when there is a loud crash signaling trouble right here in River City? I’d ask him to compute them, but he’s at work; so I’ll give it a try. If higher math is not your thing, skip the italicized portion and you can keep on reading the story.

(He goes into the office two days out of four weeks. That is 2 out of 28. (Here’s the point where I wonder how in the world to write that problem.) I think I just divide 2 by 28 and get my answer, which is 0.07142857. That doesn’t look right to me. How about 28 divided by 2. I can practically do that in my head! But I do seem to remember that odds are written as ratios and ratios have two numbers in them so I’m fairly certain the odds are that I have not figured this out at all. But wait, I can reduce 2 and 28 down to 1 and 14, so I think the odds are 1 out of 14 (1:14) that a crash would be heard or anything in the house would break one of the days he goes to the office.)

At this point I should remind you that Bob is the morning person in our marriage. He wakes up ready for the day. I get up typically around 8:00, and after an hour or two and a couple cups of coffee I am ready for the day. I should also insert that I have not been sleeping super duper lately due to a new medicine that I’m taking, or I should say just quit taking, so last night I took a melatonin. Melatonin helps me sleep but makes waking up more challenging for me.

This morning I vaguely remember Bob saying goodbye to me as I succumbed to my melatonin-addled sleep hangover. I do remember hearing a crash, though. At least I was pretty sure I heard it. It seemed like something I should even get out of bed and investigate. I looked at the clock – 6:59. It was probably nothing.

Surprisingly, some responsible adult part of me would not let me go back to sleep, so at 7:13 I rolled over, picked up my phone, and called Bob. He hadn’t heard a thing and by that time he was halfway to the office, but he offered that it may have been a passing truck. I didn’t think so, but I was tired, and whatever I heard had not affected our air conditioning, so what was my hurry! If someone was knocking our doors down to get in, I’d have known that by then. Still, it felt like I wasn’t being a good adult, so at 7:52, I finally stumbled out to the garage and sure enough, the door was open just enough for racoons, snakes, alligators, stray cats and children to get in.

I didn’t see this big fellow in my yard, but thought you’d like this picture I recently took on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.

I reported back to Bob that I was in my right mind and not hearing things. He seemed to believe that at least one of those things was true.

We live in Florida. It isn’t a good idea to give wildlife a way inside. I found a snake skin on top of a ladder in my garage one time. Once is enough.

I applied all my button pressing skills to the garage door opener and sure enough, it was not going to close. It would go up all the way and then come crashing down and reopen like the above photo. That seemed like a good excuse to stay home all day until my friend from Tulsa called me and asked me to run an errand for her. Yes, we have that kind of friendship. Once again, what are the odds that the very day she would call, I could not leave my home? Before she got too far into her story, I stopped her and told her I was being held captive by a broken garage door. This did not surprise her.

What is the moral of this story? What the lessons can be learned here? I’d say none, but I may still be under the influence of melatonin.

Bob Solves a Problem

There is nothing that blinds me to the empty calories in candy like the day after Easter. It’s the lure of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs on discount. Add to that the knowledge that they are going away for another year, and I always seem to find a reason to go to Walgreens.

I picked up the last two bags from the ravaged shelves and went home with my bounty. I was happy. Bob was happy. Sometimes it takes so little.

Well, it wasn’t long before our bounty turned skimpy and, wouldn’t you know it, I needed to go to the store for… something or another. Sadly, the shelves were bare.

There is a CVS in spitting distance from nearly every Walgreens, so I meandered over. I was too late. Some other desperate, I mean deal-hunting, people had confiscated everything but the jelly bird eggs. When did they stop being jellybeans? I digress.

The yellow and orange crinkly paper lining on this story is that it was date night. I knew we would be venturing a small distance to go to dinner. I could approximate at least four drugstores on our route. Bob has learned not to interfere with a woman possessed with finding chocolate and peanut butter, so we stopped and found success!

Success was one bag and I had to move some stuff to find that. I grabbed it up and headed home with a smile on my face. This time the smile was not for me. It was for my grandchildren. Most of my grandkids live out of state and I was excited to bring this special treat to our summer vacation with them. I had a little problem because the bag contained 14 eggs. Bob and I have eight grandchildren. I wanted to find another bag, but I knew that was a fool’s errand.

I could give each child one egg and give one egg to each of our children, but I’d still come up short. The simplest solution seemed to be, save eight eggs for the kids, and eat the rest. But I was hopeful, so I told Bob I’d throw the eggs in the garage freezer and figure it out later.

Two days later I opened the freezer and discovered an open bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs! I asked Bob if he remembered anything about our grandchildren, whom we love, and how I wanted to give the eggs to them. Did he remember how happy they would be to get Reese’s Eggs in the summertime? Could he picture their sweet faces and hear the surprise in their voices?

He was pretty fuzzy on that. All he remembered was – there are Reese’s Eggs in the freezer. I have to thank Bob for being the amazing problem solver that he is. He’s definitely gifted! He saved me from roaming around town looking for more Reese’s Eggs. He also knows I don’t really like dealing with numbers, so he saved me the time of dividing something that was not divisible by eight. He’s awesome.

As I peered into the freezer, staring in disbelief at that open bag, I realized something. An open bag is an eaten bag, so Happy Easter to Bob and me. Please don’t tell the grandkids.

January is Mean

January may be the first month of the year, the month when fresh starts typically are at least contemplated, and the month of new gym memberships and linen sales, but to me it’s the month that reminds me why I live in Florida.

It doesn’t bother me in the least that you or anybody else knows that I’m pretty much a wimp. Truth be told, people knowing that makes my life simpler.

My preference, though, is not to use the word wimp. I do have some adventure in me, and I don’t really want people to think of me as a namby-pamby, milquetoast, yellow belly sissy.

That’s why I love reminding my sweet husband that I am a delicate flower. It sums things up so much more in my favor. Here’s a look into a recent conversation of ours where I am once again compelled to remind Bob exactly who he is married to.

delicate Hydrangea flower

Scene: We are in the bathroom, getting ready for bed. I am brushing my teeth while hovering around the space heater.

Me: It’s so cold.

Bob: It’s not that bad.

Me: I hate January. January is the worst. We live in Florida, after all. It’s not supposed to be below 45 outside.

Bob: But we’re inside.

Me (as I look at the bathroom thermometer which I keep in there just to make a point when necessary): It sure doesn’t feel like we’re inside! Have you forgotten that I’m a delicate flower?

Bob: I haven’t forgotten. It’s just not that cold to me.

Me: That’s because you’re not a delicate flower. You’re a tumbleweed.

Bob shot me a look of pain revealing that I had wounded him deeply. Words cannot express how bad I felt at that moment, even though I did chuckle a little.

Bob: I’m not a tumbleweed. I’m more like a… a bush. Yes. I want to be a bush. They’re sturdy, dependable.

Me: I didn’t mean tumbleweed as a bad thing. They roll with the punches, go with the wind, keep on going no matter what.

Bob: No. I want to be a bush.

Me: Okay. Okay. But you gotta admit, you do roll with the punches, my sweet, crazy tumbleweed – I mean bush.

Bob gave his famous eyeroll and we went to bed. Him under a sheet. Me under the same sheet with two blankets on top. Both of us muttering how we can never move any farther north than Orlando. That’s how we roll, and it’s all January’s fault.

Photo by Luismi Sánchez on Unsplash

I’d Like to Weigh in on Something

Every morning, without fail, my husband dutifully weights himself. Several years ago he lost about 35 pounds and watches that scale to make sure it doesn’t creep back on. Most mornings I, too, weigh myself. But not in front of him. When you’ve been on a diet for 45 years, you get a little sensitive about certain details. Yes, he can know how much I’ve lost. No, he cannot know what my current weight is.

Eventually, I tell him, but only after I get to my goal. He is a genius with numbers, so I know he can remember my weight loss and figure out from whence I came, but I don’t think about that. And he’s smart enough not to mention it.

Last Saturday was like every other day, only I was awake to see Bob weigh himself. He got on. He got off. He got on again. “Hey,” he exclaimed, “this scale is like the wheel of fortune gone crazy. It stops on a number and then rolls to another, over and over.”

Bob’s weight went from 170 to 214 to 68 in no time at all. Well, folks, that is 2020 for you. Nothing is what it should be. I stepped on and was delighted to see that I was in a weird bathroom/carnival game, not knowing where the scale would land. I decided I would choose a number I like and go on with my day.

By Monday, Bob was going through scale withdrawal and stopped at Costco to buy a new one. Alas, they had none. I know they’ll reappear in January, but for now, Bob had to find another source. If you follow me or know us, you will marvel at how we think everything can be found at Costco and if it isn’t there, then it’s either the end of the world or the year 2020. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s pretty much how we operate.

Bob got on Costco.com and found some options and listed them as I fixed dinner. Did we want bamboo finish, clear glass, black finish? Would we like our weight to the nearest tenth of a pound? Hey, these have Bluetooth. They will track our weight for us. That’s when I put down the spatula.

A great big NO to tracking! I turned the contact tracing off on my phone. Why would I want our scale to keep my numbers for public display to anyone who was passing through our bathroom? And who needs Bluetooth for their scale? Really, is that what this crazy world has come to?

Bob added that some scales can track up to four people. “Fine,” I said maturely, “but if you get that scale, I’ll never weight myself again.” And with that, I sliced myself a piece of pie to make sure he knew I meant business.

Amazon (Costco’s alternative universe) gave us more sensible and lower cost choices. When I saw a scale that came with a tape measure, I knew order had returned to my universe. So if you are feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, remember you can discover what your weight is for $14.38 on Amazon.com. Let’s just hope this scale can keep a secret!

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.