Life in Florida = Hurricane Crazed Meteoroligists

It was August 24 when I first heard the storm name Dorian. She went from a wave to a tropical storm to a hurricane in four days. And since August 28, we have been watching and waiting and buying gas and water and wishing the news would cover anything else. After all, we all have the app on our phones. We all know updates come out every three hours. We all have eaten every one of our hurricane snacks.

Photo Credit: Tom Sorrells – Chief Meteorologist, WKMG Channel 6, What is a Spaghetti model?

Yet, my brain will not let it go. My internal clock alarms me at 8, 12, 3, and 5. A new track has just been released! I have a weird craving for spaghetti and at the same time it nauseates me. That is the power of a monster hurricane off the Florida coast. Even if it’s way off the Florida coast. The course could change. We all know that! Stay tuned!

Weathering the storm – My view Tuesday morning at 9:40. Everything is closed today due to the impending storm. That may have been premature, though we did get two bands through around 8 am.

If you’re new to Florida, please know that Dorian has a mind of her own. She doesn’t reflect the speed at which a hurricane can tear through here. You need to keep an eye on her but you also need to do something else. Anything else. This will keep you sane.

Don’t get me wrong. I love weather forecasts. I get made fun of for watching them daily. But even I know when enough is enough. I think the moment for me came when one meteorologist interviewed another meteorologist. Their intent was to simplify things for us, but their conversation was entertaining.

“Will this be like Faye?”

“No, more like Matthew.”

“But it has the potential to be like Michael.”

“And what about Maria?

“How did we solve a problem like Maria? How did we hold a moonbeam in our hand?”

“I think you’re delirious! Those are lyrics from The Sound of Music.”

It was like they were talking about people they know. When you consider how much coverage they give to a storm, it makes sense. As for me, I get a lot of the names mixed up like I do when talking to my children.

But not Irma. I’ll never forget her. We are coming up on two years since she struck and I never want to go through that again. It makes my heart go out to the people in The Bahamas right now.

2004 was the most active year we ever experienced since moving to the Orlando area in 1976. In that year four hurricanes hit Florida. Three of them went through Central Florida beginning with cat 4 Charley on August 13, followed by cat 2 Frances on Sept 4, and ending with cat 3 Jeanne on September 26. They all were not at their worst when they went through, but they were bad enough. Power outages, debris everywhere, so many trees downed! We were all mentally and physically exhausted from prepping and cleaning up over and over again.

I do feel bad for the TV weather folks. When there is a hurricane, they are singularly focused. It’s like they have gotten themselves in deeper than they wanted to and with a storm like Dorian which is moving at a snail’s pace, they have to see it through until the end, of course. I’m thankful for these people and how they serve our communities. I just need to remind myself that there are other things going on in life and I can keep up with more than one thing.

To my point, here’s a picture from this morning’s Weather Channel tropical update. I will need to keep track of more than one thing! Meanwhile, I better bake some brownies just in case we lose power.

Thanks, Weather People. We mock you but we appreciate you!

Oh, Alexa!

I have loved our Amazon echo since day one. It makes a great timer, weather forecaster, player of music, list keeper, game player, shopper, and so much more. It even has a random number generator, which I used to choose a winner for my CREATIVITY WEARS BOOTS book give-away; but more about that later.

Image result for free picture of lightbulb idea

Pic credit: freerange stock

When Alexa came out with smart light bulbs, I didn’t see the need. I’ve seen a lot of changes in my life. I used to have to get up off the couch just to change the channel on the television. Can you imagine! There is no way I’d want to go back to that kind of inconvenience. I do not, though, mind getting up to turn off or on a light. A girl has to get her exercise!

Then Christmas came and our son, Joe, gave us smart light bulbs. It was a great idea. He is always trying to smarten us up.

Bob toyed with them and really enjoyed tormenting me by turning them on and off randomly or changing their color. (I am very easily distracted.) Soon, we encountered problems with their compatibility with our upgraded Wi-Fi, so we put them in the drawer.

Joe has found that these bulbs have added simplicity to their lifestyle, so when he visited this summer, he installed ours and they work fine. There is something about being young that makes technology putty in your hands. (Sorry, Bob.)

I really love having Alexa turn on the pool lights which Bob installed over our pool. Before this breakthrough, we had to go all the way outside to turn them on. That involved about 22 steps, which I will have to make up for elsewhere.

Our lights on the bar in the dining room are the problem. There are two of them which are aptly named Light 1 and Light 2. I leave Light 2 (I think) on all the time once the sun goes down. Light 1 is only used if we have company and I want to balance the lighting. That may not sound like a problem to you, but I can never seem to remember which light is which. At the end of the day you will find me standing an arms’ length from the lights asking Alexa to turn off the one that isn’t even on.

Last night I heard Bob cracking up laughing when he heard me telling Alexa to turn off Light 1. He has suggested that we rename them, but I am bound and determined to figure this thing out.

Meanwhile, Alexa is getting a little snarky with me.

Me: Alexa, turn off Light 1.

Alexa: Are you sure you mean Light 1? It isn’t even on.

Me: Just turn off all the lights.

Alexa: A few things share the name lights. Which one did you want?

Me: Light 1 and Light 2.

Alexa: Hum, there is no light named And.

Me: Light 1, Light 2.

Alexa: What would you like me to do with Light 1, Light 2?

Me: Sobbing hysterically.

Alexa: Perhaps I should turn off all lights that are on or you could walk over and turn them off yourself.

Me: Bob, I’ll be a few minutes. I have to vacuum up some broken light bulbs.

*****

The winner of Robert Alexander Swanson’s new book, CREATIVITY WEARS BOOTS, is Doug Bonnette. I will make arrangements to get your book to you right away. Thank you to everyone who shared, commented, and began to follow my blog. You can order your own copy of CREATIVITY WEARS BOOTS by clicking here.

 

 

 

CREATIVITY WEARS BOOTS (a blog post and a give-away)

MobiriseI have a friend named Robert Alexander Swanson. Rob makes me think about things I don’t usually think about. He pushes me to do more in my craft. He is also the publisher of my book, Always Look for the Magic, as well as the leader of my writers’ group. His latest challenge to me is summed up in the following question:

Have you ever thought about what it means to be creative?

Let’s get more personal. Do you think of yourself as creative?

We can either think too highly of ourselves, or worse, not confess to our true talents. I think the latter is more of a problem. The right and proper answer to “do you think of yourself as creative” is revealed in Rob’s new book, CREATIVITY WEARS BOOTS. It’s a brain thing. “This book explains why you’re creative and how art is the birthright of every human being.”[1]

Twenty years ago, if you asked me if I was creative, my answer would have been much different than it is today. Here’s my current answer:

I am creative. I even call myself an artist, though that still feels a little strange coming out of my mouth after decades of denial. I am learning what it really means to be creative and how important it is to view oneself in that way. You can learn all about it in CREATIVITY WEARS BOOTS. Plus, Rob has sprinkled the book with profiles of several interesting artists throughout the book, including me! (I thought you should know!)

Learn more about this wonderful book by clicking here. You can also order directly from Amazon.

To celebrate Rob’s new book, I am giving away a copy of it. There will be one winner. Here’s how to enter to win:

  • Share this blog post on social media. One entry per share. Be sure to let me know in the comments that you are sharing.
  • Comment on this post either directly on the post or on Facebook – one entry per comment
  • Are you new to my blog? Follow me and receive a dose of Life on the Lighter Side in your email inbox every week. You get an entry for being a new follower. Please comment that you are doing so. That gets you even closer to winning!

The contest will end at midnight on Tuesday, August 27. I will reveal the winner in my blog next Thursday. Thanks for entering.

*Of course, it should go without saying that my family is not eligible to win, but since Bob let it slip that he was scheming to flood my blog with comments to win, I thought maybe I should say it. My family is not eligible to win. There you go!

 

[1] Quoted from the back cover of CREATIVITY WEARS BOOTS.

A Short Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shocking! Isn’t it?

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

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

Whew, I felt better. Until…

 

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

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

 

Walking with Ellen and Shaq

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

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

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

“Save Water. Drink Wine”

“I Pooped Today”

“Whatever”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Taken!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for picture of garbage can running

photo credit: dreamstime.com

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

 

 

I Got This

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

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

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

Cousins

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

Jett – Sun.

Felix – Me, too.

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

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

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

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

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

I Could Have Had All the Toys

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Independence Day!

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

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

Boom, There It is (x 3)

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

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

No photo description available.

Photo Credit: Fox35 WOFL

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

falcon heavy launch

Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

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

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

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

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

Real-Life Men Of Science Who Made

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

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

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

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