I’d Like to Weigh in on Something

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…)

Quieting Anxiety and a Trip to Costco

Yes, Costco is open for business. Yesterday after Bob’s first day working from home, we braved ourselves and headed there. Bob had a prescription to pick up and I had our usual list. It was completely sane there. You read that right, sane. Not only was it sane, but gasoline was $1.65/gallon, with no line.

This is one of the things that baffles the brain of every Floridian I know. From June 1 through November 30 we are used to emergency preparedness which involves stocking up on things when a hurricane is in the forecast. In order to avoid the rush, in early June I go ahead and stock up on paper products, water, and batteries and make sure our propane tanks are filled. But buying gas before a hurricane is always tricky because you can’t stock up, and when one is coming there is always a line.

So, my brain draws from past behavior and thinks a hurricane is coming, and it won’t shut up about it. Yesterday I realized that my stress is mainly because there is no hurricane. Let me explain, when we know a storm is approaching, we ready ourselves. When the storm passes, we recover. I’m waiting for the storm and that produces stress.

This realization has helped me. People aren’t comfortable with open-ended problems. Well, we’re in training for that now.

One of my favorite scriptures is Philippians 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

I am thankful that God revealed to me that the source of my stress here is not simply a virus and the economic impact, but it is the unknown timeline of it all. I hope that helps you, too.

Meanwhile, I continue to chat it up with people at Costco and that is always interesting. I bought everything on my list yesterday except for onions. I was unwilling to spend $8 for an enormous bag of onions when I only needed one. I figured onions aren’t really in the need category anyway, so that was fine. But once in the parking lot, I couldn’t help but notice just a few cars away, a man and his wife were unloading their cart, and they had onions. My mouth was salivating.

“Hey there,” I said half-jokingly, “I’d love to buy one of those onions from you.”

He laughed and after hesitating a moment said, “Do you need one?”

“Well, kind of. I just couldn’t bring myself to buy so many when I knew they’d go bad.”

At that point he ripped open his bag of onions and offered one to me. I paid him a dollar for it, which he said was silly. So, I told him to put it in his church offering. After we debated over which of our churches should get the dollar, I offered to trade a roll of toilet paper for it.

This made my day. Laughter over an onion. Do you see the irony? Usually I’m crying over onions, but this one brought joy to four people in a Costco parking lot in Altamonte Springs. I love people!

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.

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.

 

You Otter Read This

Once again, I am providing a view of the other side of Central Florida. It’s not all the happiest place on earth down here. I’m not talking about Costco, one of my happy places on earth. I’ve never felt the danger of being attacked by an angry otter at Costco. I can’t say as much about Lake Lily in nearby Maitland.

Central Florida wildlife

It has been nearly a year since an ornery otter has made the headlines here. It was in March of last year that an aggressive otter jumped into a kayak in Manatee County and leaped onto its unsuspecting paddlers resulting in an overturned kayak and one terrifying and terrific story for the pair trying to take a leisurely trip down the river. He went on to attack other boaters and injure four people.

Daily I-4 Warnings

Daily I-4 Warnings are necessary during the I-4 Ultimate Project

I don’t know how that story was resolved regarding the capture of the wanted otter, but now I fear that he may have made his way to our fair community, though that would be unlikely because the most direct route from Manatee County, which is south of the Tampa/St. Pete area, to the Orlando area is via I-4. I-4 is deadlier than an angry otter and you would be smart to avoid it while in our area. An otter, angry or otherwise, can weigh between 10 and 33 pounds. You’d fare better with it then you would with an 18-wheeler trying to figure out where the lanes have shifted on I-4. The truck could weigh up to 40 tons. I think if given the choice, I’ll take my chances with the otter.

Seriously, though, whether on the interstate or near our beautiful lakes, I’m cautious. Lovely Lake Lily in the nearby town of Maitland is a favorite place for locals to take a stroll. I myself have walked there. I might have considered doing it again, that is until otters began stalking innocent walkers. At this point, they are only concerned about one otter. They are working on a Single-Otter Theory. I think this is their way of avoiding conspiracies of groups of otters banding together with a common cause of destroying our state or making a statement about our inconsistencies in counting votes down here in Florida.

All this begs a question. These are river otters and Lake Lily is, well, a lake. I think that the otters are confused, like the vote counters in Broward County last year. Perhaps they thought their votes were not counted in the last election.

Another question: Are the sightings and incidents involving the dangerous otter at Lake Lily really the work of a renegade weasel (otters are in the weasel family) or maybe even the Russians?

For now, we will have to hope that it was a Lone Otter. The latest word is the Otter Wanted-Posters have been successful. The squirrelly otter is off the streets, lakes, rivers, and swamps. I guess I’ll have to come up with a better reason to avoid taking a walk.

 

Things You’ll Never Hear Me Say

I kind of talk a lot. I admit it. I have opinions. If you’re around me, you just might hear them. I have things I am passionate about. You’d probably hear about those, too. But there are some things you’ll never hear me say, words I’ll never use even to make a point.

  1. Never and always. I’m always careful never to use those words; they get you in trouble.
  2. Tonight I’m cooking a new recipe with 15 ingredients. (There are easily three things wrong with this statement.)
  3. I’d rather not go out to dinner.
  4. I’ll skip my coffee this morning.
  5. There’s no room for my grandchildren to come stay.
  6. I’m canceling my Costco membership.
  7. The word “at” at the end of a question. (Where are you at?) I practically break out in a sweat when I hear this.
  8. We’re getting a pet. (This is outlawed according to Bob’s and my No More Pet Pact of 2011.)
  9. I can’t wait to go camping.
  10. These political ads have totally influenced my voting decision.

How about you? Is there anything you would never say?

Life Has Its Ups and Downs

One minute I’m up and the next minute I’m down. That’s life in the Costco aisle. I can’t tell you how excited I was when Costco surprised me with Charmin toilet paper with scalloped perforations between the sheets. It was a stroke of brilliance that brought about this long-needed update to a very mundane (yet essential) product. Not since we were told “not to squeeze the Charmin” have I been so excited to sit next to this Grade A paper. Mr. Whipple would be proud. But he probably would be OCD about that, too. I can just hear him say, “Don’t rip between the perforations!”

This does solve a lot of problems. For years when our grandchildren were over we would go through toilet paper at a rate of about 1.5 rolls per day. We helped them learn to count with toilet paper, for goodness’ sakes. Now, though, it will be all the easier for them to count and tear. Genius! Plus, no more having to make that cute little triangle on the end of the roll to make it extra fancy. Perforations – that’s what it’s all about.

But then Costco threw me for a loop. They changed out my favorite yogurt. Dannon Activia has always come in three flavors – peach, strawberry, and blueberry. Always. But not yesterday. They claim to have updated the flavors and blueberry got the axe. I made an audible gasp when I saw the box promoting black cherry. I practically climbed into the refrigerator in search of any blueberry hidden back there. Alas, I am forced to try something new. Bob says it’s good for me and reminds me that I love cherries. I know what you’re thinking – how can he really not know me after all of these years!

Oh, blueberry! We had a good run!

This is my last blueberry yogurt. I will savor it and bid it farewell. I am reminded that you can purchase this at the grocery store, but that’s not how I roll. Oh, Costco! You drive me crazy sometimes, but this blueberry debacle will not be the end of our relationship. I forgive you.

Furthermore, I will not concentrate on the negative. Who knows – maybe I’ll love black cherry yogurt. Either way, whenever I visit the bathroom (which really goes hand-in-hand with Activia yogurt), I have a pleasant roll of perforated tissues there waiting to cheer me up.

 

How to Avoid Cooking

4 and 20 Blackbirds minus 20 eating leftover pie

It’s been almost two weeks and we have finally made our way through the Thanksgiving leftovers. That means I had to generate more leftovers by cooking. This is not my favorite thing to do. I rank my love of cooking on a 1 to 10 scale, and that can change daily or even within any given day. One means I won’t even entertain the idea of cooking, or entertaining for that matter as they kind of go hand-in-hand. I’ll have to let you know what 10 means if I ever generate that high a score. It is highly doubtful that will happen, but hope springs eternal like eyes on an old potato, which I would know because I just cleaned out my refrigerator.

Here are the reasons why I don’t cook much, feel free to put them into practice in your own life:

  1. I’m lazy – I thought I’d get that one out of the way.
  2. I’m not particularly creative in the kitchen.
  3. Costco – Need I say more? Chicken potpie, stuffed peppers, and the famous $4.99 rotisserie chicken are just three of the Costco reasons.
  4. Enchilada night at Amigos in Altamonte Springs. On Thursday night you can get an enchilada platter for $5.88, and that includes all the chips and salsa that I can fit into my purse. Essentially, that is two meals for $5.88.
  5. The Orlando Magic get a win at home. This means Papa Johns offers half price on your entire on-line order. Granted, we have not been able to take advantage of this much lately.
  6. My husband Bob is a great cook and likes creating new dishes. I can’t wait until he retires.
  7. I’d rather be writing.
  8. I have cooked enough. I multiplied the number of years I’ve been married (42) x 365 days and then assumed (conservatively) that a meal was cooked by me 70 percent of the time. That is 10,731 meals.
  9. I like to take naps after doing complex mathematical problems like the one above. Of course, that just got me off the hook for tonight.
  10. Leftovers – Whenever I do cook, I make enough for a family of six. I can’t figure out how to cook for a number smaller than that, but it means, like the meal or not, I don’t have to cook the next night.

Since my cooking is becoming rarer and rarer (amount of times I cook, not the temperature of meat), I now award myself bonus points for any night that I do cook. I told Bob that I can redeem these for a night out to dinner. He gave me one of his famous eye-rolls. I’d keep on writing, but I just realized it’s past time to heat the leftovers for dinner. Looks like no bonus point for me tonight.

Maybe We Should Leave the Scientific Method to the Scientists

I witnessed two ladies applying the scientific method the other day. It was fascinating to observe their dedication to discovery and the acquisition of knowledge, even if it might come at their own peril.

It happened at Costco, which is where so much of my writing inspiration has its source. From the moment I drive onto the parking lot and circle, circle, circle to find a parking spot, there is magic and anticipation in the air. This time it began as I exited my car and observed the aforementioned ladies just as they had finished loading their car with the treasures that embody a Costco shopping trip.

Their car was similar to mine, a small-to-mid-size SUV, and it was obviously loaded with the same feature that mine has which allows you to kick your foot under the rear bumper (if you have the key fob on you) and release the hatch to open without the use of your hands. I might add that this is a perfect feature for the regular Costco shopper.

When I say “obviously,” I mean that one of the women was halfway inside of the back of the car while the other woman was kicking her foot under the bumper to see how the stop-and-reverse safety feature worked. I’m sure that this was an experiment and nothing malicious, because there was friendly banter being exchanged the entire time.

Down went the hatch, and then up went the hatch when it hit the woman leaning into the car. She repositioned herself and they tried it again – I guess to see if the intensity of the hatch hitting the woman would change or if in fact she would be squished by the gate, thereby adding the possibility of a law suit, which they would surely win and, therefore, be able to buy more stuff at Costco.

This was so surprising and entertaining to me that I didn’t think to pull out my phone and video them, which would clearly have helped with any impending lawsuits. I just stood there and stared and laughed.

I also engaged them in conversation because I have some knowledge of how it feels to have your hatch hit you when you accidentally put your foot too far under the bumper while loading the back of the car. A summary of the outcome of that event from my firsthand experience is: pain and embarrassment.

In my case, I was putting things in the back of the car and turned to get more from my cart when I was interrupted by the hatch smacking me on the head. I shared this with them with a certain amount of caution, because I was honestly afraid that they might try that one, too. They didn’t, but they did return to their original application of the scientific method. Their systematic observation and testing was truly inspiring. After I thought about it, though, I did wonder if they had already done the experiment where the hatch hits them in the head. That would explain a lot.