Breaking News!

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house

Things were breaking.

I know, that doesn’t rhyme, but there was nothing poetic about it! It all started with the dishwasher, just two days before our daughter and her family were to arrive. I told Bob that it wasn’t working. It’s a very quiet dishwasher – so quiet that you have to incline your ear to hear it. Bob said he thought he heard it. He did not.

He tried to assure me that it wasn’t broken, but somehow, I knew that this was wishful thinking. He thought I must have forgotten to start it, or it was some other operator error. That could have been the case, but washing dishes is my life. I’m kind of fanatical about keeping my kitchen clean. You might say that I’m simpatico with my kitchen appliances. I know when something is wrong.

Bob came up to me with great understanding in his eyes. He took my hand, squeezed it, and said, “Does that hurt?”

“No,” I replied. Then he took the other hand and repeated the gesture. When I replied “no” again, he said, “Then the dishwasher isn’t broken.”

I suggested that he leave the funny to me and see if it was still under warranty.

Wonder of wonders, it was just three weeks shy of being out of warranty. Thank you, Jesus! This was Wednesday, and Lowe’s said they’d have a repairman out on Thursday between 8 and 12. Hooray!

Except my hooray was misplaced. He was a no-show. After a long time on hold, Bob secured another repairman for Monday, sadly we’d have the busy Christmas weekend without my number one kitchen appliance. Still, we decided to let nothing us dismay.

On Monday, a repairman breezed in an out of our house faster than Santa can consume milk and cookies. Bob ran his own diagnostic along with him, and it looked like a communication board problem. He told Lowe’s, who managed to keep it a secret from the future repairman. He said we’d need a certified GE repairman since it appeared to be an electrical issue. So here we are, nine days later, and I get to meet a new repairman. He has no knowledge of any of the above, but eventually he made the same diagnosis. We should have a new control board by the 21st – a month after our first call.

It could be worse. Bob was right. My hands can still wash dishes. Plus, we had an inordinately large supply of plastic spoons, which I thought we would have until Jesus returns. I guess that could still be true, but unless Jesus is coming back in the next two weeks, probably not.

At first realization that we were a man down, so to speak, in the kitchen. I stocked paper and plastic stuff in the cabinets to encourage everyone not to use the real stuff, which must be washed. I think the entire household is now afraid of my wrath if they circumvent that plan. And rightly so.

Also, that first night, Bob said he’d fix dinner on the grill so as not to mess up the kitchen. (He really is a good guy.) He went to start the grill and one side would not work. He managed to fix it, so that’s a point for Bob.

My baking day was the next day, and I managed to make a huge pile of dishes, but the family was coming over, and I love baking cookies for them. I did make a mess of crumbs on the floor, so I got out the vacuum cleaner to suck them up.

The noise that came out when I turned the thing on was deafening. It sounded like a plane was crashing in the kitchen. The one thing in your house that you really want to suck, did not.

Bob took it apart and got it to suck dirt, but the noise makes it unusable for me. It didn’t bother him, but then again, he thought the dishwasher was running, so you can draw your own conclusions.

That pretty much sums up our last two weeks, except for the part where we had a wonderful Christmas with our family. We are blessed and we know it. Here’s to a Happy New Year to you all!

Is That Your Final Answer?

Winter Garden. Every time I go there, I wonder why I don’t visit more often. It used to be a sleepy little burg outside of Orlando but has evolved into a destination area for shopping and dining – not unlike Mount Dora. People are moving there by the droves, too.

I get it. It’s quaint and interesting. It’s close to Disney. It has bike paths, boutique shopping, a train museum, and our favorite MoonCricket Grille, which is a lovely spot to chow down on some bam-bam shrimp al fresco and watch the people go by with their dogs. It is very dog friendly. Dogs are walked, pushed in strollers, toted in purses, and carried like babies. While that is not my idea of a fun day in Winter Garden, clearly, it’s a dog’s world there.

Moon Cricket Grille 14 W Plant St Winter Garden, FL Bars - MapQuest
Photo Credit: mapquest.com

The impetus for our outing was Christmas shopping. We are not familiar with how things work in Wintergarden on a Saturday but suffice it to say the town takes it up a notch on weekends. Frankly, we didn’t really know where we were going and figured it’s a small town and we could enjoy roaming around. How hard could it be to find our way to our shopping destination (which will remain unnamed because it would give away our gift choices)?

The answer to that question is: pretty hard! It was made more difficult by the fact that it was my first outing that involved exerting any energy since recovering from a light case of you-know-what. (Yep, all four of us got it. We are thankful to God for a light case and an uneventful recovery.)

Our quest should not have involved the farmers’ market, but it looked interesting, so why not! We had no idea that it was huge! I must say that it is a farmers’ market that does the name proud. Or a crafter proud. Or a foodie proud. But that was not where we should have been, and we didn’t figure that out until we had walked the entire thing. Since we came up empty on our main goal, we checked the internet and discovered that our true destination was several blocks away. Bob figured it was 2 to 4 blocks. It felt like 10 to 12 blocks. And then back. I suppose I should be thankful and frankly I am for the exercise. But I did not pack water and I was quite dehydrated and exhausted by the time we fell into a lunch table at the MoonCricket well over an hour later.

During this trek, we were stopped by a group of young men who were interested in getting us to sign a petition for something or another that had to do with promoting or stopping casino gambling. I couldn’t decipher what they were saying in my weakened, dehydrated state. We politely passed them with a not today. I even mentioned they should’ve caught us when we were not worn out. One of them stated that yes, we did look a little tired. He was being kind.

Several blocks down on our adventure we were again pursued by people with clipboards, and I assumed they were part of the same group. When they started to talk, I had no energy and I just muttered, “No, not today,” and kept walking.

My brain was definitely operating on a delay. Just after the words left my mouth, my foggy brain deciphered what my ears had heard. Their question was, “Would you like to help save a life?”

I suppose “not today” wasn’t the worst response. It’s not like someone was on the ground needing CPR. Frankly, I was in no condition to save anybody’s life. I was kind of needy myself – and a little bit embarrassed.

The Pursuit of Happy Meals

What happens when the Happiest Place on Earth intersects with McDonald’s Happy Meals? For this writer, it revives a part of me that is a little embarrassing to tell you about – a part of me that I thought was dead and buried.

It was an ordinary September morning, a week before Bob and I left for his 50th High School Reunion. The morning news anchor reported on Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. She added that McDonald’s would be joining in the celebration with their Happy Meal toys. The celebration would include 50 – yes, you read that right – 50 different toys; and the promotion would begin on September 14, the very day we set to leave on our trip.

I made a note on my calendar, not that I would forget this auspicious event. I seem to remember hearing Bob utter a sound like this:

I interpreted his groanings in two words – he knew. He knew he would have no reason not to pull through McDonald’s on our way up to the D.C. area. We typically start our trips with an egg McMuffin. That would be Opportunity #1. Of course, you can’t throw a dead squirrel without hitting a McDonald’s along I-95, so lunch would be Opportunity #2. There was also a good possibility that I would have to use the restroom whenever we passed a McDonald’s sign. Endless Opportunities! Poor Bob! He was doomed.

We arrived at our son, Joe’s, house in South Carolina on the 14th in time to pick up dinner for the four of us adults and stop at McDonald’s to get Happy Meals for our 6 and 2-year-old grandsons. I was excited to have someone be excited about happy meals with me. Sadly, when Bob and Joe returned home with the two meals for the boys, we opened them to discover Mickey Mouse on a train. It was the great switcheroo! That was a toy from last year! Oh, McDonald’s! Who do you think you’re dealing with here?

Lucky for them, it was Bob they were dealing with. Bob saw Mickey and fell right into their trap. The boys were happy enough, but I knew the truth.

Here’s a little backstory for you. When we were raising our four kids, Friday was lunch at McDonald’s day. I would get everyone, including me, a happy meal. I would strive to get complete sets and have one set that was never removed from the wrapper (MIB or NRFB, mint in box, or never removed from box). When I say strive, that’s what I mean. I would often pull up to the speaker, ask what toy was in the happy meal, and if we already had that one, it was on to the next McDonald’s. I look at this as perfectly reasonable behavior. My children, on the other hand, just wanted to eat.

This behavior got so bad, I mean interesting, that my oldest son, Jesse, wrote a completely fictional essay for a school assignment about me assaulting a cashier at McDonald’s because the Barbie happy meal toy had a scratch on her nose. Seriously – you don’t believe I’d do that, do you? I wouldn’t hurt a fly. Well, I did demand, I mean ask for, a flawless Barbie (and I got one). I mean, Barbie wouldn’t put up with that lack of perfection and neither would I. My children ate quietly in the corner. They were so well behaved!

Our next stop was at our daughter’s house in North Carolina, where I knew I would have one excited 9-year-old granddaughter who would join in this pursuit of happiness as spelled out in the Declaration of Independence. Layna is always happy, and she was anxious to join in the search. After a few days, we were on the road again, and Layna had five Disney 50th Celebration Happy Meal Toys.

After returning to Florida, I kept adding to our collection. I wasn’t trying to get all 50 – honest I wasn’t. There were some I particularly wanted, and I found most of them, but it was becoming challenging to find new toys and, when we did find them, to eat yet another happy meal. Often, I would get lunch for my mom. I told her I’d buy (hey, big spender!), but the toy was mine. After about the third time, she strangely was no longer hungry at lunchtime.

My sister, Linda, also got the bug. I guess there’s no doubt we are related. She displayed her treasures in her office, and before long the entire office was on the look-out for additions to her collection. We made checklists to keep everything straight. I intend to send most of mine to Layna, but I couldn’t help but display Groot and Rocket (Guardians of the Galaxy). I’m a fan.

To fully understand how challenging collecting different toys is, I’ll share how I do it. I go inside the restaurant. Here’s how it would go down:

McDonald’s Employee: You need to order at the kiosk, please.

Me: Okay, but first could you tell me which toys you have in your happy meal?

This was met with different responses – from having a variety of toys laid out on the counter for me to see, to a curt, “We just have Daisy.” (Everybody had Daisy.)

Then I would take it from there. It’s really quite exhausting. If Bob was with me, he’d wait in the car. He loves me, but there are limits!

One night when we were having hamburgers from our grill for dinner, they looked so weird without a toy next to them. I think this was when Bob began to worry.

That’s better!

I assured him that I had found a McDonald’s that would sell the toys without the meal. While he was relieved, we both knew the truth – this search unleashed the collector that I thought was dead.

Frankenstein Its Alive GIF - Frankenstein Its Alive GIFs

Now the promotion is over. I collected over 20 toys and will be sharing most of them with Layna. She and I facetimed over the last weeks and it was so much fun! (I did hear Dena, her mom/my daughter comment about how she was reliving her childhood!) Now it’s time to stop going to McDonald’s for a while, except for coffee. When I got coffee from there yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice that the next promotion is from the new Marvel movie. My granddaughter, Ella, loves Marvel. I think I’m in trouble.

One last thing – I’m still looking for Celebration Mickey and R2D2, if you can hook me up that would be great. They don’t even have to be NRFB!

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.

Snakes Alive!

We haven’t had rain in six weeks, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when the black racer which I was trying to chase off my pool deck with a gentle spray from my hose seemed to welcome the shower. This is the second snake in a week we’ve had stop in for a visit.

I’ve been wanting to lead a more active lifestyle, but snake wrangling was not what I had in mind. More along my speed is my offer of assistance to a momma cardinal who is nesting just outside of our pool deck. I have chased snakes away from the area, and water and stocked birdfeeders are always in our yard. This is the first time in my life I have been up close and personal with a nest; and I am rather protective, which is why I propped open the rear door of the screen enclosure to usher the aforementioned black racer to an area away from the “nursery.”

I started out referring to the snake as “he” (probably because our last four pets were males), but I’m beginning to have my doubts. She seemed reluctant to leave, so I was forced to get the broom and gently offer two incentives for departure. It was ridiculous how much resistance I got from her! It was an effort to get her past each panel of screening. Several times she coiled up and did her best impression of a cobra.

I was not deterred. I was also full-on aerobic by the time the thoughts crept into my head as to why on earth wouldn’t she want to be out of the pool screen area as much as I wanted her out! I guessed she was stubborn or stupid.

Fifteen long minutes later, she finally exited. I watched her slither along the edge of the outside of the pool screen as I reached out and closed the door behind her. She stayed right up against it all the way to the corner, made a quick right turn, continued along the screen to the back of the house, and reentered the pool enclosure.

What the what! I was sweaty and tired. She just seemed to be getting started. There was no way that I was going to play this game! And that was the point when it hit me that I might be dealing with a female. Maybe even a mama. That was also the point where I decided that Bob should meet her.

The good news here is that we had discovered the entry point. Even better, it was on the opposite side of the house from my precious cardinal nest. But of concern was the fact that she had almost disappeared in our bed of river rocks. At first, I could barely see her; then she disappeared altogether. I knew she was there though, but why was she there? Why wouldn’t she want to be outside? Was she protecting something? Should I keep her in the pool deck to protect the cardinal eggs?

The answers to these questions are:

  • I don’t know.
  • I don’t know.
  • I don’t know.
  • Bob will think I lost my mind.

Of course, by the time Bob returned from work she was nowhere to be seen. There are lots of awesome hiding places for a snake on our pool deck. Bob checked them all and then he blocked the entry point that she used to get back in. Hopefully, she’s not trapped inside now. If she is just good at hiding, she has to come out sometime! Worst case scenario, I’ll know in 43-65 days if what she’s hiding is a nest of snake eggs.

Living in Florida has changed me. There was a time when I would have moved rather than defend my home against a snake or kill a palmetto bug or get close to a frog. Well, I still have to grow into that frog thing. I know it seems unlikely, but they really do act like they are out to get me.

As far as that snake goes, I don’t think she’s out there. Really, I don’t. Nope, she’s not there. I’m sure of it.

Continuing in our Puzzlement*

*Just for fun: How many of the “banished” words of 2020 can you find in this post?

It’s been over a year since our nation took two weeks to try to level the curve regarding COVID. In all fairness, nobody I know believed the “two weeks” thing, but we were willing to see if we could “get ahead” of it. After all, those were uncertain times.

So, out of an abundance of caution, during these trying times, while adjusting to the new normal and starting to un-social distance ourselves from those we love, I’m offering a snapshot of my household, which consists of my husband, my mom, and myself. We have thankfully been spared of Rona and every other kind of malady which usually manifests itself over the course of a year. No colds, no flu, no nothing. Perhaps one of the positive things that has come out of this past year is that we now stay home when we’re sick. We have discovered that even though we think we are essential and perhaps even if some entity has pronounced us to be essential workers, we really are not. It’s good to stay home when you’re unwell.

As for supplies – I have a good supply of sanitizing wipes and cleaning supplies. We have a dozen rolls of paper towels on hand and a good 40 rolls of toilet paper. This number is not inflated by hoarding due to shortages. It’s a result of shopping at Costco.

We continue to ponder and puzzle over so much rhetoric and how easy it is to spread fear. We ponder how we could ever have thought of any days as certain days when all our days are in God’s hands and we know not what they will bring, but we trust in him. Uncertain times have always been and will continue to be, even though we thought of them as fairly certain. One never knows! Life is an adventure, after all, and we don’t control as much as we like to think we do.

Bob and I continue to do jigsaw puzzles as we consider it relaxing. When I last reported about our plethora of puzzles back in July, we had no idea how many we would do during the pandemic. The number was uncertain, but I don’t need to live with that kind of uncertainty. This morning I did some ciphering regarding the past 12 months of completed puzzles. Here’s my report:

40 – the number of puzzles we completed

7 – the number of 1000 piecers

1 – extremely unique and challenging Mystic Maze puzzle

8 – the number of Liberty puzzles (piece number doesn’t matter as much on these difficult, beautiful puzzles)

19,989 – number of pieces we put together

One of our favorites

We will continue to do puzzles until our eyesight and/or backs give out. It’s our new normal, and remember, we’re all in this together.

Our stack of puzzles which we received at Christmas. I think our family knows us pretty well!

A Lot Has Happened in Ten Years

This week I’m celebrating ten years of blogging! Ten years! That’s kind of a big deal for me. Of course, there are other things I have kept up for ten years.

  1. Marriage for 45.5 years
  2. Been in the same church for 27 years
  3. The same hairdresser for 25 years
  4. Same writers’ group for 18 years
  5. Dieting for the last 45 years, well, more or less.

In 2011, I never dreamed I’d still be blogging in 2021. I didn’t think much about what the next ten years would bring when my friend Debi (of The Romantic Vineyard) sat down with me on my back porch and helped me set up everything.  Thanks, Debi! And thanks to all of you who stop by. I’ve “met” some of the most interesting and kind people as I share life on the lighter side.

Ten years has brought a lot of change in my life. My husband and I have three more grandchildren added to the family. Plus, we have another daughter-in-law.

Five years ago we moved to our present home from our home of 32 years – the home where we raised our four children. We had anticipated my parents moving in with us and knew a new configuration would be helpful. Seeing to that and getting a home with a screened-in pool off the back of the house was the only way I could manage moving from all those memories. (We had lived in Florida for way too long without a pool.) Mom has been with us for over three years and has a part of the house that’s all hers. It’s such a blessing!

Here’s something that I would not have thought about ten years ago: Going through a pandemic and the attempted vaccination of every adult on the globe. Even one year ago I’d never have thought about that as we scrambled for toilet paper and jigsaw puzzles. Nevertheless, here we are. Thankfully, it is a decision each of us can make for ourselves.

I made my decision somewhat hesitantly. I thought I’d have a little more time to think about it and come to a conclusion based on all of the myriad of facts which Facebook and the media provide, but then, out of the blue, they lowered the age of eligibility. I was forced to talk to real doctors.

Hopefully I won’t have to keep wearing a mask for much longer!

Well, I had my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last week, and I’m giving it one thumb up. I’d give it two, but my left thumb is killing me (too strong a word?). I read about all the possible side effects, and I cannot find anyone who has experienced thumb problems. They do mention possible joint pain or swollen lymph nodes, but no mention of swollen fingers, particularly left thumbs. Somebody has to be first. I’m sure our crazy, changing weather or my pruning of the rose bushes had no bearing on my problem whatsoever (she said as she pulled giant thorns from her thumb).

For now, I’m avoiding shuffling cards, thumb wars, and hitchhiking. I’m sure I’ll be fine. Maybe when I get the second shot it will clear up. I’m just glad I can drive myself to get it since hitchhiking is no longer an option.

Firsts and Lasts (and a movie review to boot)

This week Bob and I ventured back to the local AMC theater. This was our first movie in over a year, (thank you, COVID.) Frankly, I have not missed going to the movies, but Bob really has. That is why I conceded to go to a movie called Chaos Walking starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley. It also featured David Oyelowo, whom I loved in A United Kingdom. (You should watch that one.)

This was the best choice available for us; but as we watched it, I felt like we chose the runt of the litter. Yes, it was a movie and was pretty clean, but it was Sci-Fi, which would be okay in a lot of movies, but I lost track of the sci-fi-edness of it fairly early on.

What was it that I hated about this movie? As I’ve thought about it, my dislike of this film has grown since we saw it on Monday night. That night I thought it was just “meh.” I gave it a C-. By Tuesday I dropped that to a D+, and now I’m having to wonder why I was so generous in the first place.

To quote IMDb, this movie is “A dystopian world where there are no women and all living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts in a stream of images, words, and sounds called Noise.”

I should have read that before going, but I focused on Daisy, whom I liked in Star Wars, and Tom was a good Spiderman, so I was open to giving it a try. One positive note, I will never again struggle with what dystopian means.

I asked Bob later – what made us want to see a movie about an imagined world full of fear where you can hear the noise in each other’s heads? Don’t we get enough of that on the news and social media?

He did agree, but I know deep down in my heart that it was worth it to him to sit and eat popcorn with me in a darkened theater while safely distant from the other four people who plopped down eleven bucks for the same experience.

SPOILER ALERT: By the second act of the movie, surprise, women were found not too far away. They were running the show in their community because you couldn’t hear what the women were thinking. Selective communication was a big plus. The men’s thoughts were shouted from them in an annoying din. They separated the living areas by gender because the ladies couldn’t stand the noise. I get that – I felt the same way from my seat in the theater.

This was the only thing suitable to talk about after the movie. The “noise” had gotten on my last nerve. Sometimes I can barely stand the noise in my own head much less watch and hear the noise of every male in this movie. I surmised that maybe the women’s thoughts weren’t heard because as a gender we can have more of an emotional base. I don’t know; and whatever the reason if they even had one, they never told us. They didn’t even hint at it. Worse still, we didn’t care.

You’ve been warned.

That was my first for the week. I likely won’t return to the theater until the next James Bond movie debuts.

I also had a last this week, which ties to my age, and that age also means I get to sign up for Medicare this year. I thought it was a reason to celebrate, and I suggested that to my gyn after completing my yearly exam, but she had a full afternoon ahead of her. Aren’t we supposed to celebrate the little things? Yes, we are! Can you guess what was my cause for celebration and why I thought this was the fitting way to celebrate? (Hint, I don’t think it’s lady-like to mention this in mixed company or on a format that would make my sons roll their eyes and say, “really, Mom!”) Cheers!

Products - Pabst Blue Ribbon : Pabst Blue Ribbon

Seasons and Sneezins (or Issues with Tissues)

When Bob and I were first married back in 1975, our budget didn’t allow for frivolous items such as Kleenex or napkins. We bought toilet paper and paper towels, and they did double-duty, i.e. paper towels were used for napkins and toilet paper was used for Kleenex. Of course, never reused, especially after attending to the “duties” of life. (I thought I’d throw the word “duty” in there for my adult kids who still smile or chuckle when they hear the word. Confession: I do, too. Duty.)

Kleenex, like the word Xerox, is a brand name, which I was not aware of until I had to shop on my own and realized there was a generic version of tissues at a friendlier price. I have retrained myself to call them tissues out of respect to all the tissues who were miscalled Kleenex. That’s a lot to bear for a product. I’ve been called by my sisters’ names for my entire life, so I know how they feel.

Early on, I only bought tissues for “company.” Bob and I continued to unroll T.P. whenever our noses ran, but I would draw the line at getting a roll out for guests wearing short sleeves who happened to sneeze while they visited us. That, my friends, is what hospitality looks like.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

By the time we were raising our four children, I saw the wisdom of having real tissue boxes instead of the kids unrolling toilet paper every time they had colds. I was smart enough to dole them out as needed.

When I became a grandmother and the kids or grandkids got sick, I would send care packages consisting of Lysol, Gatorade and tissues, because I knew they would not own a box of tissues. They had to go through the toilet paper for Kleenex stage of their life like all of us do. By this season of my life I bought tissues from Costco, so I always had plenty.

Fast forward: Bob and I became empty nesters in 2015. We kept that title for about eight months before a parade of friends and family lived with us off and on culminating in my parents moving in back in 2017. Mom continues to live here.

We’ve been helping support our elderly parents for ten years, and we’ve learned a lot. One of the most important things is that you can never have enough tissues and it better be the good stuff. None of this sandpaper-rough one-ply garbage.

Mom told me she was running low on Kleenex (she doesn’t use the word tissues and that’s okay). I pulled the remaining three boxes from the linen closet and gave them to her. Before I handed them off, I said, “You can take the box from the kitchen if you want.”

She likes having a box there. That generation likes having a box everywhere. I’ve learned that this is part of their wisdom. They don’t move as quickly as we do, and a sneeze can surprise you. Nobody wants that.

Out of curiosity, I thought I’d take inventory of our boxes that are in use. Now I, too, have had my eyes opened to the wisdom of having tissues around. Not only for sneezes, but sad movies and books, bad news on the phone, watching the nightly news – all of these can have me reaching for a tissue.

Counting the boxes was one of those moments of self-assessment and contemplation. I have lived through so many different tissue seasons in my life. I’ve gone from zero boxes, to one or two, and now to ten open boxes of tissues. Ten!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

What has happened to me, I asked myself. I must be either a hoarder or we’re a family of perpetually runny-nosed people. There is a box in each of our three bathrooms. (Since COVID, I don’t want people using our precious toilet paper for anything except its designated use.) Basically, any place where someone can sit or lie down in our house has a trusty box of tissues right there.

Is this the person I have become? A hoarder or one who lives in fear of runny noses or errant sneezes and panics over the thought of unpreparedness?

Or perhaps there is a third option. Maybe I’ve simply entered into a new tissue season – one that could involve having tissues up my sleeve at the ready for whatever the day may bring.

Nay. I refuse to go there. I will never be that woman. I may be what Southerners call a “seasoned” citizen and I am a magician’s daughter, but you will not find me pulling anything out of my sleeve no matter what the future may bring.

I don’t mind getting older, but thinking that I could be on the precipice of that time of my life where tissues have such elevated importance is enough to make me cry, but no worries, I have tissues right here beside me.

Ants on Crack and Other Random Curiosities

Because my world is smaller than it used to be due to that which shall not be named, I am noticing little things. Like ants. Ants are crazy busy, and there are actual crazy ants, which are from the Caribbean and can be found in Florida. As you may be aware, Florida is famous for bugs.

Typically we see fire ants or carpenter ants or even Pharoah ants, which are known to have a superiority complex. Fire ants love to bite people while the more industrious carpenter ant just wants to make improvements to your house; i.e. make it his house.

Whatever type of ant, if it’s making mounds, it is my job to get Bob to destroy them.

Over the summer I discovered ants boring a hole in our driveway. I can’t imagine what possesses them to do that, but it was interesting until I remembered I don’t want my driveway to look like Swiss cheese.

This is how deep they had gotten before we stepped in. These ants are aptly named Pavement Ants.

About 1.5 inches deep

Last week at a quick glance I noticed they were at it again. I pondered the ability of ant jaws to chisel through concrete with their tiny teeth. Bob handled it but assured me that they weren’t indiscriminately chewing through our driveway. These ants were on crack.

That made perfect sense to me until Bob explained they were on a crack in the concrete.

Something else to ponder down here is the I-4 Ultimate Project which began in 2015 and has no sign of being completed during the remaining 15 months of 2020. I’m not good with maps, but it appears to me that any delays are probably due to the Scarlet King Snake (or is that a Coral Snake) resting in the middle of the project.

Red Touch Yellow – Kills a Fellow
Red Touch Black – Venom Lack
Yellow Touches Red – Soon You’ll Be Dead
Red Touches Black – Friend of Jack

I early voted and it was a breeze, much simpler than remembering the coral snake rhyme. The old Party City in our area is now serving two parties and third parties as well. It was an easy in-and-out experience except the woman who checked me in was sort of blind. She was excited to work the polls for her first time – so excited that she forgot her contact lenses and had to use a magnifying glass to check my picture and signature. That was a first for me, too.

And, finally, a consumer alert. Available at Walmart, of course, for a limited time: It’s time to buy your KFC fried chicken-scented firelogs. I hope they don’t cause a grease fire.