Invasion of Midges

When from the next room I heard a television reporter talking about the invasion of Midges in the Sanford, Florida, waterfront area, my first thought was – what took them so long.

Poor Midge, Barbie’s not-so-glamorous best friend, has been in Barbie’s shadow forever. To make things worse for her, she has mostly been out of production since the late 1960s. They just pull her out for anniversary editions or whenever Barbie needs a side-kick. It was just a matter of time before all those jilted Midges joined forces and attacked. I’m sure they hold a lot of angst. In my mind I pictured droves of the dolls, some headless, some naked, coming out of the water and attaching themselves to whatever they could find. I’m sure they were driven to it.

 

 

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Midge’s hair never achieved symmetry and her bangs were always too short. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

 

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I believe this looks like a mug shot. Notice once again how Midge’s hair just wouldn’t do what Barbie’s does, i.e. achieve perfection. (Photo Credit: RubyLane)

 

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Barbie from around the same era. Even though her hair is pulled back and she’s clearly going swimming, she looks perfectly coiffed. (Photo Credit: Mattel)

 

As I moved to view the television, I learned that these Midges are not the Midges besieging Sanford. The Sanford Midges are often known as Blind Mosquitoes and are not manufactured by Mattel. They are also not as easy to get rid of as Mattel’s Midge. You just can’t discontinue the manufacture of these pests (again, I’m talking about the insect).

Photo Credit: Fox35 News

 

 

Photo Credit: Fox35 News

I want to encourage people in Sanford and everywhere else where Midges are a nuisance to hang in there. At least these guys don’t bite or carry disease. I guess they have that in common with Mattel’s version.

May the Fourth… You Know the Rest

It’s been 20 years since the release of (in my humble opinion) the worst of the Star Wars movies, Episode 1, The Phantom Menace. This is one of the few movies I can remember watching where I wanted to slap the kid who played the lead. Yes, little Anakin Skywalker was a whiny brat, which gives great insight into how he became Darth Vadar, who was not so whiny, but still a brat. But I digress. I love the Star Wars movies, especially Episodes 4-6, which were the first three of the series. I am not alone in my love of Star Wars. California has declared May 4th an official holiday.

I was going on 21-year-old when the first one was released. At that point in time, it was simply called Star Wars. I don’t recall ever thinking about a prequel, which was not really much of a thing back then. When The Empire Strikes Back came to the theaters in 1980 that created quite the buzz. It brought a new hope, if you will, for more Star Wars movies in the future (or from the past).

My kids don’t know life before Star Wars. They were totally into it. So much so that we had quite a collection of Star Wars paraphernalia. I recall after they were past playing with the various action figures and Lego sets, that I began the arduous task of cleaning out the bins full of forgotten toys.

I am sentimental over these things. I saved many items from my children’s childhood.  Many, many items. My pride and joy though is the collection of Star Wars Action figures that my son was willing to part with but I was not. I stashed them away. When Episode 3 was coming out, we still had two sons living at home and they had invited friends over to watch Episodes 1 and 2 before going to the movie.  If memory serves me, the guys would return to watch Episodes 4-6 thus making it the perfect Star Wars watching event.  I decided to pull out all the stops to decorate for the festivities.  I got out the action figures, vehicles, and micro-machines and arranged them all over the living room.  Our mantel was decorated with them as were the end tables and shelves.  I think Martha Stewart would have been proud of me.

I left the display out for a week or so because, let me tell you, you don’t go to all that trouble and quickly clear the shelves without an appropriate time to take in all the details.

The one detail that I did not consider was our small group from our church.  We met weekly at our house and, as God would have it, that week we were talking about idolatry.  Our group had a great time with the fact that I had practically made my house a shrine to Star Wars. (Even though I suspect they were quite jealous. Jealousy was not the topic of discussion that night.)

These memories are dear to me, especially because one of my sons did end up reclaiming all of those figures I stashed and wishing I had kept more. Those are the moments.

 

Peter Mayhew

Sadly, Peter Mayhew, the actor who portrayed Chewbacca, passed on April 30 at the age of 74. Photo Credit: Variety.com

 

May the Fourth be with you.

Now what? (Or, Could April Blogging bring May Jogging?)

This is it – the end of April and The Ultimate Blog Challenge. It has been fun and I’ve “met” some new and interesting people. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Remember, if you haven’t already, you can follow my blog and have it delivered right into your email. Look on the right column -it’s easy.

Now you may be asking – “What will May look like for you, Bonnie?”

Or you may be begging me to keep on posting daily as I have become habit-forming.

You’re too kind!

My plan is to resume posting once a week, but there is the possibility that I won’t be able to restrict myself to that. We’ll see. So, I’ll be around weekly, at least.

I also have other writing projects which are getting dusty inside of my computer. (Can that happen?)

My grandson liked it better than Wonder. I’m taking that as an unbiased critique.

Last year I published my first book. It is a middle-grade novel (aimed at 9-13 year-olds), but it has appeal to multiple generations. ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE MAGIC is based on my father’s life as he grew up in Baltimore during The Great Depression. Eleven-year-old Artie and his brother have to adapt to the changes that The Depression brings to their family. Will he be able to pursue his dream of being a magician? The book could be considered a coming-of-age story – it has heart and humor. You can order it from Amazon. There’s a link on the right column.

I have begun working on my next novel, which is for adults (not to be confused with an adult novel). I have a good start on it, but I need to dedicate some time to working on it before the next influx of family comes in July.

I published my first book through Prevail Press. You can check out their website here. I tried the traditional publishing route, but could not secure either an agent or a publisher. It is very difficult to publish traditionally in today’s world, especially if you don’t already have a platform. I believed that my book was worth publishing, and Prevail Press provided exactly what I needed to get it done. If you are in need of a great publisher, Prevail Press might fill the bill for you as well.

For the last 15 years, I have benefitted greatly from being in a writers’ group. The leader of our group, Rob Swanson, began Prevail Press. He also writes a wonderful blog on writing. Check it out here.

This blogging challenge has made me realize that I have a greater capacity to write than I had given myself credit for. I’m hoping to use that as motivation to not only blog but finish my next book.

Below you’ll find a YouTube from an interview of me talking about ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE MAGIC. You can tell I’m a little uncomfortable with that medium, but you can look at it to find out more about my book, which is available on Amazon.

So now that April is over, I think I need to get off my computer, go outside and walk a little, maybe even go for a jog. Just kidding. In case you don’t know it, that jogging comment was a joke. I only run if something is chasing me.

This is it! Post #30 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Mission accomplished! Woo-Hoo!

 

Is this some kind of a hint?

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Sunday Night at Home with a Movie

Today I’m taking my inspiration from my good friend Debi Walter and her wonderful blog The Romantic Vineyard. I’m not referring to Debi as my good blogging friend or Facebook friend. We literally have been friends for 40 years, and she is every bit as wonderful in day-to-day life as she is on her blog. Actually, she is more so.

In case you’re not familiar with The Romantic Vineyard, check it out here. It provides “a rich harvest of ideas to help your marriage grow.” It says so right at the top of the banner.

Debi and I are as alike as we are dissimilar. She writes a romance blog. I write a humor blog. Clearly that’s one way we’re similar. Okay, we both write. I’ll leave it at that.

When I read her Five Friday Favorites – At Home Meal and Movie Dates, I was inspired. I told Debi that I was wondering what I would serve for my home meal and movie date.  What would go with some of my favorite comedies? She told me to go for it, so here you are.

First, the disclaimer, Debi is a wonderful cook and she loves cooking. It is one of the ways she shows love. I view cooking as something that I have done more than enough, but I am willing to cook – if I have to. I’m even a pretty decent cook, but the thrill is gone. One of the ways people can show me that they love me is to cook for me. I’ll just put that out there in case anyone needs an idea. Already you can see why Debi and I have a well-suited friendship.

Favorite Comedies (not exhaustive, of course)

Movie #1 – RED with Bruce Willis – All this movie needs is a glass of red wine. That’s how I read the cover.

Movie #2 – Groundhog Day – This takes a little more planning. The night before, make a double batch of whatever you’re cooking and save enough to serve during the movie.

Movie #3 – The Help – I know this one is not a comedy, but it has its moments. It made Debi’s list, too. All you really need here is a big batch of chocolate cream pie served at just the right moment.

Movie #4 – Back to the Future – hamburgers, fries, and a Tab or something else without sugar in it.

Movie #5 – The Big Year – wings

Movie #6 – Fever Pitch – I try to watch this on Opening Day of Baseball Season. Hot dogs and beer with sides of peanuts and Cracker Jacks is perfect.

Movie #7 – The Court Jester – Perhaps my all-time favorite comedy. It doesn’t matter what drink you offer as long as it’s not served in the Chalice with the Palace. Try the Vessel with the Pestle instead, but be careful you don’t break it and have to use the Flagon with the Dragon.

 

Do you have any movie pairings you can add to the list? What are some of your favorite comedies?

 

This is Post #28 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

Jobs I’ve Had, The Early Years – The Loud, The Scary, and The Embarrassing

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photo courtesy of Wikipedia

My first real job did not involve singing in front of people. But it had some of the same features. I worked at a Roy Rogers Restaurant. If you’re not familiar with the chain, it’s like an Arby’s except western style. They had great roast beef sandwiches and their Double R Bar sandwich was amazing. At least I thought it was when I was 16.

I don’t know how they make their employees dress now, but in the 70s I was dressed as a cowgirl. Cute enough uniform, but when you add the other requirements of the chain, it became downright embarrassing.

I ran the register and when someone came up to order, I’d have to say, “Howdy partner, can I take your order please?”

If that wasn’t bad enough, when they’d leave, I was forced to say, “Happy trails.”

I always thought of Roy Rogers as a sweet, caring cowboy. I guess this practice revealed his dark side. He would never have put Trigger through such humiliation.

Friends would come into the restaurant just to hear me say those words. That’s how you know who your real friends are – they’ll go out of their way just to mock you! I didn’t mind too much. At least there was no horse manure to clean up. That job didn’t last long.

I discovered I could make more money babysitting, so that’s what I did until I graduated from high school. Then I worked at various secretarial jobs including one on Andrews Air Force Base. At some point in this story, Bob and I got married and a year later moved to Florida where I worked for the Social Security Administration as a data review technician until I had my first child.

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Teletype Machine – Photo credit: quora.com

That job was more like an editing job. I examined all the forms and made sure they were filled out correctly and then I would sit at a teletype machine and input the data. It was a loud room. As I typed, yellow punched tape would roll out of the machine. At the end of the day, I’d call the main office in Baltimore and send the tapes through. I quit just as computers were being brought in to replace those noisy machines. It’s a wonder I didn’t lose my hearing.

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Photo Credit: americacomesalive.com

After two children had come along, I decided it would be nice if I could work from home and make a little extra cash. Somehow or another, I heard about Fuller Brush and became a door-to-door salesperson. I had a territory and on Saturdays Bob would stay with the kids and I would go knocking on strangers’ doors.

This was a little off-putting at times, but I sold a lot of brooms, brushes, and degreaser. I discovered that at times an unanswered door could be better than an answered one, because those opened doors could present opportunities that didn’t involve selling Fuller brushes.

The opened door of a small house which looked like it could use a lot of TLC was one such opportunity. Two small children answered the door. They must have been 3 or 4 years old. They opened the door and just stood there. I asked if their mommy was home. They nodded. I could see into the house. It was dark for a Saturday morning. All the shades were drawn but I could make out a figure of a person way on the other side of the house. It was as if she was sitting at the end of a long, dark tunnel with just a hint of light behind her.

She barely made a sound but I could see her raise her hand from the chair and beckon me to come in. I froze for a minute. It was like something out of a movie. Finally, she uttered the words, “Can you help me?”

This was way before cell phone days so I was on my own to stay or go. I’m not sure why, except it must have been the peace of God coming over me, but I entered the house. I gingerly walked over to her and she whispered that she was having trouble breathing. She could barely move and wanted to go to the hospital but couldn’t afford an ambulance and her husband could not be reached at work.

I used her phone to call my husband. I filled him in, loaded her kids and her into the car and took off for my house for Bob to watch the kids.  At the hospital they were concerned that she may have had a heart attack, but she was given a diagnosis of pleurisy.

Through this difficult day, she and I discovered that we were both Christians. Long story short, we spent several hours together at the hospital. By the end of the day she and her kids were back in their home with her husband.

How about you? When you think back on the jobs you’ve had, have you had any unusual encounters with people? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

This is Post #27 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Crossing the Country with Four Kids

Bob and I have traveled a lot, but it took us a while to get to the point where we went somewhere besides visiting family. When you’re raising four kids you tend not to be able to afford hotels or to want to stay in them with your children. And I hate camping. That said, our first big trip was a camping event. Sort of.

We planned on four weeks on the road to go from Florida to Washington State and back with an intermission in the middle. At that point Bob would fly home and work a week or two, leaving me with the kids to have some sister and cousin time off the road. Then he planned to fly back to join us and resume the trip. This was back in 1995 before everyone used the internet.

We were closing in on our early June departure date when Bob got the word that his company was closing its Central Florida division and he was suddenly out of a job. We had purchased a used pop-up camper to pull behind our big blue Dodge conversion van. (This was as close to real camping as I was willing to go.) The front two weeks of our trip were planned and reservations made. We decided to proceed as planned except for the intermission, and why not make it a six-week trip.

Bob would be drawing unemployment and we could pick up newspapers as we crossed the country for him to apply  for jobs along the way. Aside from the obvious loss of income, it seemed like a pretty good plan.

Then things started to fall apart. Literally. First, our dishwasher broke. It was old and not worthy of repair. As we debated over spending money to fix it or not, the air conditioner in our house went up. There would be no debate. You don’t live in Florida without air conditioning. We had to replace the entire unit. Ouch.

I’m not one to look for signs, but we started to question whether or not this trip was a good idea. Both Bob and I had done similar trips as kids and we always wanted to do this with ours. Our kids ranged from 8 to 16, so we knew we were running out of time.

It was then that the freakiest thing happened, the metal standard that held up our basketball hoop and was cemented into the ground, fell over. Boom. Just like that. It looked like acid had worn through it. We blame this on our dog PJ. The pole was his favorite place to pee. We considered taking him to be checked out at the vet, but that would be another expense and how would we explain to our vet that the dog’s urine had eaten through a metal pole, so we left that one alone.

Ultimately we decided that since our window was closing, we better just make the trip before something else went wrong, so off we went.

I’m so glad we did. This trip remains a highlight of our life with the kids. We traveled through 22 states and logged 10,000 miles on our car. Our kids developed a deeper relationship with each other just at the point when they would be pulling more towards their friendships than siblings. It was a win in every way except for laundry. Doing laundry on the road was challenging but we managed. People have been using laundromats for years and when you can do several loads at once, it’s not so bad.

Our children are now all married. Our daughter definitely has the road-trip gene. She and her husband also have four children. Two years ago they traveled across country with them and when they came to the Oregon Dunes, she remembered being there as a kid. She remembered her brothers and her acting like they were lost in the desert as they climbed the dunes. So, she reenacted it for us. I hope you enjoy the picture as much as I do.

 

My four kids at the Oregon Dunes in 1995

 

Dena’s four kids doing the reenactment. She has three girls and a boy, just the opposite of Bob and me.

Have you ever done a long trip with your family? If not, you may want to consider it. It was a bonding moment and an adventure that we will never forget.

 

This is Post #26 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

Six Weeks of Sisters

I have two sisters and so does Bob. Bob and I have been married for over four decades, so that makes one sister per decade. As I write, I realize that this could get confusing to me when Bob and I reach our golden anniversary. I’m not planning on adding any more sisters at this point in my life, so I’m going to let it go. I won’t remember the inconsistency when that time arrives anyway.

You may be asking – what does one sister per decade mean? Do different sisters represent different decades? Do I have a point here? The answers are – no and no. For some reason I just found it interesting that the number four repeated itself in this fashion. And, in case you have one more question haunting you, I don’t have any interest in numerology either. I’m just a little strange. That probably answers your next question.

None of our sisters lives in Florida. I see my sisters fairly regularly, largely because my mom lives here, but it has been four years since I’ve seen Bob’s sisters. That is just plain wrong, but that’s life in the big city. (Actually, one lives in a small town, but that’s life there, too.)

When you get to spend time with all of these sisters in a six-week span, that’s something to celebrate. The first to arrive was my younger sister, Linda. She came in mid-March and you can read about our beach exploits here (and I don’t care what Bob says, it still counts as a sting operation). Being as she is my only younger sibling, I have that big-sister thing going with her. Interestingly, whenever I’ve been talking to Linda, Bob can tell as I slip into mixing up her name with my daughter Dena’s name. I guess that’s telling.

Mount Dora Segway Tour

Allow me to segue, or should I say segway, to Bob’s sisters. They live up north so just being outside in the Florida sunshine was a treat. We did a segway tour of nearby Mount Dora with them. Bob and I have done this tour before and even with my lack in the coordination department, I have no problem with this. All of their concerns about riding one quickly went out the window. They had a great time. Bob’s younger sister especially – I thought she was going to try to abscond with hers. She had the kid-on-Christmas-morning look on her face – pure joy.

My older sister and her daughter are here with us now. They are doing the full tourist thing. We just returned from the beach today. We have family with us for 12 days in April. When the last of them leave on Saturday, I have big plans for a nap.

Daytona Beach

But, these six weeks of sisters have been the best. You throw a niece, a daughter, four grandchildren and a dog into that family from out of town mix, and it just gets better, though a tad bit crazy and crowded. It’s family. It’s all good.

 

This is Post #25 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

The Best Airport Pick-Up Ever

I managed to wedge myself in at the end of the Southwest Airlines gate while waiting for my sister at the airport terminal. I was right up against the curb with cones behind me and a sedan on my left front bumper area. I couldn’t go anywhere and that was okay with me. The atmosphere seemed a bit more casual than normal so I said to my daughter, “We might be able to wait right here for a while.”

While waiting we were entertained by the man from that car picking up three people. Everybody hugged and dumped their luggage by his trunk. I figure he must be the dad, because nobody tried to help him with anything. I imagine him to be the kind of guy who’d say, “I got this, just get in the car.”

Except he didn’t have it at all. He clearly was spatially challenged but he gets bonus points for tenacity. We watched as he took bags in and out of the trunk, turning them every which way. I was confident he was going to break a wheel off of a suitcase.

My daughter and I were laughing like crazy and had snapped about a dozen pictures of this when the security guy came to my window and said I needed to move on.

I pointed to the guy struggling with his bags and said, “I’ll pull out as soon as he moves.” Then I added, “To be honest, we’re sitting here laughing at this guy who can’t seem to load his trunk. He’s hysterical.”

To which he replied, “I get that. Have a nice day.” And he walked off with a smile on his face and left us there. Can you imagine that? I security guy at the airport with a sense of humor? It made my day.

Finally, the struggle to lug the luggage from the pavement to the trunk ended abruptly with a slam of the trunk and a suitcase shoved up against the two passengers in the back seat.

That poor man had spent approximately six minutes trying in vain to place three suitcases into his trunk. It was so sad. I think he needs to go home and brush up on his Tetris game.

 

This is Post #24 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

A Letter of Apology to My Adult Children

Time to write a letter

Over the last few weeks, I have heard a few rumblings from my kids about my current rate of blog postings. I explained, in case they missed it, that I am doing a challenge. Here are some of the comments, which have fueled me to write a letter to my kids.

“Mom, once a week was fine. I am happy to read your WEEKLY blog posts. Weekly. Around Day 6, I knew I was in trouble. How long will this thing go on?”

“You’re killing me!”

“My in-basket is overflowing.”

“You’re thinking about blogging about (fill in the blank). I can see it in your eyes.”

“You’re obsessed.”

Alright, that last one was my husband, but you get the point. So, here goes:

 

Dear Kids,

I know this past month has been difficult for you. How challenging it must be for you when every day there is something to read that your mother wrote. Your mother – the one who loved you before you were born. The one who carried you for nine long months, six of which involved a lot of puking. The one who helped you with your homework and drove you all over town. The one who watches your children so you can go out with your spouse. Sigh.

I am sorry for the pain and suffering which this Ultimate Blog Challenge has caused you and I want you to know that I understand. You want to support me, yet you feel overwhelmed.

There is also the matter of the monthly test about my blog content which I require you to take. I know there’s a lot of pressure to do well, so for this month, and this month only, I will make your test multiple choice instead of essay. I will also give you an extra week to turn it in to me for your grade.

Happy Reading!

Love,

Mom

 

And, to my regular readers who have been with me for a while, thanks for sticking with me. I appreciate you.

 

This is Post #23 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.