April 30 – The End is Near?

I am hopeful that some semblance of normal life is just around the corner. I am also aware that some of the corners we round are blind corners – it can take a while to get around them and you don’t know what you’ll face once you do. I’m not sure what end is near. Maybe just the end of April. Hopefully the end of so many ordinary things being closed and the end of being sequestered in our homes but mostly the end of this horrible virus.

For those of you who have suffered loss during this season of COVID-19, my heart goes out to you. Your normal is forever changed. I’m so sorry. I continue to pray for comfort, healing, and God’s mercy.

In keeping with the title of my blog, I also continue to look for the light side of whatever life looks like. Sometimes that side is funny and sometimes it is brilliant with the light of God shining through a situation. Sometimes it’s hard to find that light, but God is always there, even in the darkness. May you feel his presence in a greater way than ever.

I’ve taken some pictures as I’ve traversed my part of the world this past month. (I decided to use a big word for those little trips out of the house.) I want to reprioritize my life a little and remember and appreciate what we have, had, and will have. I want to remember how hard people worked to keep us safe even if they made mistakes while doing so. I realize that it’s easy to forget, so here’s my perspective of how things have looked in Altamonte Springs, Florida, during the April 2020 pandemic. (more…)

Black Friday

I have considered wearing an armband to show that I am grieving over the loss of Black Friday. Gather around and let me tell you the story of the true meaning of this shopping event. If you started Black Friday shopping in the last 10 or 15 years, then you have no idea the fun you missed.

First of all, nothing was open on Thanksgiving Day except for the occasional grocery and convenience store. We ate our feast and played games together and watched football. Movie theaters were open. Many times, we’d catch a holiday movie on Thanksgiving evening with family and friends. After which we would go home and enjoy one more piece of pie and go to bed because we had to get up early the next day.

Early meant around 5 am. Lots of stores opened at 5 or 6 and my mom and I would plan our route by scouring the ads in Thursday’s paper. Why get an early start? There were lots of good deals, but also you could get free stuff. FREE. You didn’t have to buy anything. Amazing.

Free ornament from J C Penney’s – I put this on the tree every year and it reminds me of shopping on Black Friday with my mom.

The jewelry store in the mall gave out coupons to possibly win a piece of jewelry and they’d give you little cheap charms, too. J.C. Penney would have their free Christmas ornaments. Target gave out goody bags full of swag. And that’s just to name a few things.

We would finish our shopping before noon, come home, eat another turkey sandwich, and decorate the house. I got a lot of Christmas shopping done during what was the kick-off of the season.

I remember back in the 1990s when my daughter Dena had reached the age where she was old enough to go with me. She was thrilled. Now a mother of teenagers herself, she has turned Black Friday into an event of epic proportions. This year she started out late on Thursday night with her 16-year-old daughter, returned home several hours later for a nap, and then went back out again, this time making it a foursome with her 14-year-old daughter and me. She has more energy than Charlie Brown has anxieties.

 

New Black Friday memories

I have given up being excited about the event, but I am excited about spending time with my daughter and granddaughters – to a point, that is. I won’t leave the house until 9 am, and my first stop has to be Costco. That’s where the real magic happens.

I wanted to introduce Dena to the joys of Costco Black Friday shopping. I’m not talking about the things you find in their ads; I’m talking about food. Food that you and your family and friends will eat and then you can brag about the deal you got on it. Plus, you don’t have to get up before the crack of dawn. And that’s a huge plus.

In years gone by we have gotten Butterball turkeys for two or three dollars. This year, unfortunately, Costco was better about judging how many turkeys they needed for Thanksgiving, so none were left, but that still left the pork loin.

 

At $8 off per package, we got this baby and five more like him for around $4. That’s three for Dena and three for us. Her family of six will devour a half a one in one meal – that’s $2 a meal. Score! Bob and I will cut ours in thirds and we’ll be eating pork until next Black Friday.

Later in the weekend, when my non-Black-Friday-shopping daughter-in-law asked Dena what her best bargain of the day was, you can only imagine my joy when she said $4 pork roast. Score one for Costco and getting up after the sun rises on Black Friday. I may as well say it, score one for me, too.

LEGO Jesus

Easter is quickly approaching so if you have shopping to do to fill those baskets, you may want to consider purchasing Jesus. He’s available in LEGO form for the low price of $19.99, and with Amazon Prime, Jesus could be delivered to you in two days. He’ll be ready to turn water into wine, so be cautious about the age of the person who receives Jesus. While it’s fine to receive Jesus into your heart at any age, wine drinking should be for the responsible adult. I think Jesus would agree.

 

 

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This is Post #7 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

October Surprises

We are mid-way through October, and Christmas is prepared to pounce. I have become accustomed to Costco bringing out the Christmas decorations in September. I almost don’t even notice them anymore, kind of like the blue paint on the bumper of my car where something rubbed against it. It’s only mildly annoying, not hurting anything, but I do wish it weren’t there.

I love Christmas, but I’m not quite ready to gear up for it – that is until I realized that I’m going to Michigan on Saturday to welcome a new grandson and when I return it will be November. Oh my!

Still, I draw the line when it comes to Christmas promotions that are either too early or just plain wrong. I’ve captured a few for you. What do you think?

These pushy poinsettias have forced the lovely fall mums back under a table. I don’t like that!

 

Do I want to open my frig to see Santa in October?

 

This one almost left me speechless. Seriously, opening a beer a day to celebrate Advent!

Merry October!

A Sign of a Healthy Valentine’s Day

This is a public service announcement. If you’ve been caught up in the post-holiday clean-up or the crazy cold weather that has invaded the country, then allow me to put you on notice that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. To be exact, 22 days as of this posting.

As I ponder the sign at the corner Walgreens, I realize it is more important than ever to plan ahead for this day of unleashed romance. This is a night when restaurants set up extra tables and there are long lines at the grocery store as men pick up handfuls of flowers as they head home from work. The card aisles in the stores get picked over so badly that if you are pale like our family, you may have to show the DNA results from Ancestry.com to explain the Mahogany brand being chosen as the best of the remaining three cards.

Sidebar: Yes, I have received the Mahogany brand before, and while the verse was very nice it was unusual to have white-as-white Bob and I being portrayed by a couple of a different race – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Our kids called their dad out on being a last-minute shopper, while Bob said he didn’t know what they were talking about. For the record, I’m sure both sides were telling the truth.

But I’m not hear to warn you about card choices, though I will say it was long overdue for the card industry to recognize that it’s a colorful world out there. I’m here to join with Walgreens and encourage you to get a flu shot or do something equally special for Valentine’s Day like Lysol down the house. Do you know how many germ-infested people have used their disgustingly dirty hands to look through those cards? Some have probably flipped through them while awaiting their prescription for strep, flu, or bubonic plague, while sneezing. And the close quarters at restaurants are a veritable petri dish of influenza. That’s not the kind of culture you’re looking for on Valentine’s Day, that’s for sure.

Thanks, Walgreens! You truly are a caring organization.

In case you’ve been under a rock somewhere, let me inform you that the flu shot takes two weeks to gain efficacy in your body, so you still have a few days to ensure a very special Valentine’s Day. If you’re not an immunizer, you may want to stay under that rock for a few more weeks until flu season passes. Or you could do what Walgreens is really promoting, plan on getting those shots together for Valentine’s Day. Now that’s love!

My Latest Obsession

I think I’m getting closer to truly joining the twenty-first century – not too bad considering we’re only about 15 years into it.  Why, as recently as Saturday while I was shopping in Home Goods a needy shopper asked me about bed skirts and did I think they could be found there.  Or, she wondered, perhaps she should try Target or JC Penney.  My reply came so quickly and spontaneously that it took me by surprise – Amazon.

IMG_0140Amazon is now my go-to place for all my shopping obsessions, which are usually weird, come inexplicably and consume too much of my much-needed brain power.  Obviously I will continue to frequent brick and mortar establishments, but you can’t beat the convenience of sitting at your computer, drinking a cup of coffee, and ordering a case of lip balm.

It was lip balm that taught me the value of this gas-saving, frustration avoiding method of shopping, which all of my kids swear by.  I had purchased Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Ultra Moisturizing Lip Balm many times at Target.  I love the way it dispenses soothing moisture as it glides across dry lips and love the oval shape of the tube.  Plus, it’s inexpensive (if you don’t count the gasoline cost involved in covering the tri-county area in search of it).

Every time I’d go in a Target, CVS, Walgreens, or even out of desperation Walmart, I would look for it to no avail.  So I broke down and went on Amazon and there it was!  Nothing compares to the joy of looking in my linen closet and seeing a case all lined up.  Even thinking about it makes me utter a happy little sigh.

The last time I had a weird obsession that involved ordering online, I think Amazon was mainly a place to get books.  I had to go straight to the source to get my Heinz India Relish, which by the way, I can now find on Amazon.  Now that we are empty-nesters, I’m not sure it’s a good idea for me to buy this by the case.  Unless someone out there wants to go in on it with me.  Any takers?

 

Creepy and Weird in the Grocery Store

I understand from my extensive watching of movies and TV, that sometimes men try to pick up women in the grocery store.  We make it easy because it’s second nature for a woman to give an opinion to some poor floundering man while he’s choosing produce (or fish or just about any topic, for that matter).  It’s amusing watching them maneuver through the aisles with that deer-in-the-headlights look while they attempt to figure out the huge questions of life, like – how do we know if fruit is ripe or not.

I have often given unsolicited counsel to the noticeably naïve, and rarely have I been met with anything but gratitude.  Never has even one person thrown a tomato at me (would that be a vegetable or a fruit?).  Before I tell you my story of how I think I might possibly have been the victim of someone trying to pick me up in the grocery store, let me relate a few tips that might help the new shopper.  I like to make this blog both fun and educational.

How to buy a cantaloupe:  Method #1:  Choose one.  Purchase it.  Take it home and cut it open.  Taste and see if it’s any good.  Method #2:  This method eliminates some of the mystery that we’re all looking for when we buy cantaloupe.  Scratch and sniff.  Scratch the stem end and give it a sniff.  If it smells like cantaloupe then you likely have not picked up a watermelon, which is much more difficult to pick up and smell anyway.

On a side note, when choosing a watermelon I apply the thump method.  If it sounds hollow when I pluck it with my finger, it’s probably good – especially if it’s in the summertime when watermelon is pretty much always good.

But I digress.  Now that you are prepared for buying summertime melons (you might want to bookmark this and save it for review again in June), we’ll visit the ketchup and mustard aisle.  This is where things get really spicy.  I was choosing a yellow mustard.  Because my husband and I are empty-nesters, we don’t use that much mustard; so I look for the store brand that isn’t too big allowing it to form that ugly, hard, yellow crust around the edge, and not too small either so I don’t pay the same price per ounce as you would caviar.  This must have been a come-on for an old guy lurking in the lane there because he commented about it.  “Picking out mustard.  Do you use it on hotdogs?”

First off, the comedic use of observation is only truly effective if you’re Seinfeld.  Secondly, my mustard preferences are private, mister.  I was polite and informed him I don’t put mustard on hotdogs.  I’m not sure why I divulged this very personal preference, but there you go.  I quickened my step and moved on, not really giving the exchange much thought.  That is until the frozen foods aisle, where I was forced to give this man the cold shoulder while picking out mixed vegetables.  He was a little too obvious there.  Are people really that friendly?  Do others care that I prefer Birds Eye over store brands?  I think not.  I should have said, “Back off, mister, I’ve already been walked down the aisle – at my wedding!”  (Boo-yeah! would have been an optional add-on for effect.)

boo yeahI was able to give him the slip and leave without being followed (my definition of a successful shopping trip).  I remembered that when I was young I would feel flattered if someone inquired about my mustard choices.  Now that I’m not-quite-as-young – not so much.  Perhaps it was because the man who asked the questions was an old guy.  That made it creepy.  Or perhaps it was because I suddenly realized that he was about my age.  That made it weird.