True Confessions of a Floridian

True confession time: I have been obsessing over the weather. I can’t get over the atypical May we are having down here in Orlando, and I can’t stop commenting on it. I feel like I’m in a Seinfeld episode – you know, the show about nothing. Only I’m not Jerry or George, I’m one of their parents, or worse yet Uncle Leo.

Let me explain (sans Seinfeldian references). You know that old saying – it’s not the heat; it’s the humidity. That usually refers to the fact that it’s the humidity that is making the day miserable, not the heat itself. But recently it’s been the humidity, or lack thereof, that has made the days downright tolerable, if you’re in the shade and it’s morning or evening, if you’re wearing lightweight clothing, and if you’re not exerting yourself. It’s been wonderful.

We have not experienced this kind of low humidity for a sustained period of time during the month of May or June since way back in 1998. The downside is that Florida is on fire and we have a drought that is coaxing snakes, alligators and bears out of their natural habitat into our yards, but isn’t it nice out!

All of this humidity talk is driving Bob crazy, but only a little. He’s figured out a way to either help pay for our vacation or silence me by putting a jar on the kitchen table and every time I mention the “H” word, I have to drop a dollar in. Looks like we’re going to have a great vacation! I’ve added $5 to the jar just with this post, plus I sneaked the cash out of Bob’s wallet so it’s a win/win for me.

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I’m Not Getting Old – I’m  Just Getting More Creative in Linking Two Vastly Unrelated Subjects

When my granddaughter called to ask me what I remembered about President Kennedy’s assassination for a school assignment she was working on, it triggered something in me.  You may think it was the memories of the events of that day.  Of course, that happened; but what it really triggered was a cold, harsh reality.  I’m getting old.  Middle-schoolers go to people my age to find out about the past.  I’m somebody’s homework.

I explained to Mia that when JFK was shot I was seven years old – a second-grader.  The full impact was lost on me much like the reason why we had atomic bomb drills where we would crouch under our desks while the air raid siren blared.  On that day, though, I remember our teacher crying as she sent us home from school early.  I remember my parents being upset.  I remember being sad for Caroline and John-John; he was such a cute little boy.  It was strange to think that the president had a regular life as a husband and father.

 

IMG_4828The weirdest thing I recall as standing out in my mind was the newspaper.  The Evening Star had the words EXTRA, EXTRA across the top banner.  This was odd and unusual enough to me that I saved the paper and have it to this day.  Somewhere in the mind of that second grader was the realization that this was important and of lasting impact – a piece of history recorded for posterity.

But, this is supposed to be a blog about Life on the Lighter Side, so with that in mind, I’ll let you know that my being my granddaughter’s homework was not the only thing that has reminded me that I’m getting older.  As background, you should know that I am a huge Seinfeld fan.  My son, Scott, sent me a notice that Larry Thomas, aka the Soup Nazi of Seinfeld fame, was going to be dispensing soup in a Publix in Kissimmee, which is clear across town.  I was excited about going until I found out the time slot involved a return home during rush hour.  Sadly, I’ll never know the intense pleasure of having my bowl filled with mulligatawny by a stern-faced soup ladler; and I’ll never know if bread was included or not.

That may not seem like a big deal to you, but just a few years ago I stalked Paul McCartney, I mean had lunch with a friend while trying to get a glimpse of him at his hotel where he was staying across town.  I also have driven across the state to hear my favorite author, Alexander McCall Smith, give a lecture.  So it broke my heart a little to know that I wouldn’t brave I-4 traffic in order to see a Seinfeld character in action.

Now that I think about it, it’s all about how you look at life.  Maybe I’m not getting old.  Maybe I’m simply having a season of personal growth.  You know, counting the cost and realizing the value of my own time.  Either way, it adds up to, “No soup for me!”  Ah, but I can always catch Seinfeld in re-runs and ladle my own bowl of soup.  Plus, there’s next to no traffic in my kitchen.  Sounds like a perfect plan.

Creepy and Weird in the Grocery Store

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Miracle at CVS

While in CVS today I was able to get a rather large knife out of the hands of a man.  And then I thanked him.  The amazing part of this story is not that the man pulled a knife on me – he didn’t.  It was that I asked him if he had a pocket knife I could borrow to pop open the back of a watch; and he, without hesitation, pulled out the biggest pocket knife I have ever seen.  He must have huge pockets.

I smiled about this for a long time because it did my heart good to be able to ask a stranger for help of this type, especially in this crazy world we live in today; and he helped me without hesitation.

Yes, Virginia, there are kind, knife-wielding people out there; and they are ready to lend a hand at the mere request of a stranger.  It’s a Christmas miracle.

Of course, it didn’t take but a moment to relate this to a Seinfeld episode or two.  This isn’t too Christmassy, but today I felt a little bit like Elaine.  Lesson to be learned here:  Never judge a book by its cover.

 

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A Bug By Any Other Name

A ladybug crawled across my windshield.  I love ladybugs.  They are small and bright, and they eat the aphids on my roses.  I don’t mind holding them, and if I see one on the sidewalk I’m careful not to squish it.  As I watched her, I began to ponder.  If a ladybug wasn’t called ladybug but was called roach, would it still be cute?

Suppose you never saw a ladybug before but you had seen plenty of roaches – everything from the small German variety to the huge palmetto bugs that torment us Southerners.  Then you saw a cute little polka-dotted bug that you had never before seen and when you asked what it was you were told “roach.”  Would you automatically squish it?

Ah, the power of words.  There are some ugly words out there and I think roach is one of them, which brings me to the following.

A Mississippi State professor did a survey to identify the ugliest words.  This was reported earlier this month on the local fox news station morning show.  Interestingly, as I searched for more info, I discovered that this professor has been doing this survey with his students for years.  My conclusion, it must have been a slow news day, but it did get me thinking.

The Mississippi State results are:

  1. Moist
  2. Phlegm
  3. Hate
  4. Ooze
  5. Vomit

I conducted my own survey from my facebook friends to discover what their choices for ugly words are.  My only restriction was to keep it “G” rated.  Out of all the words submitted, three were repeated often – hate, ugly and shut-up.

To report my findings, instead of giving you an ugly list of ugly words, I wrote an ugly short story.

The corpulent colonel looked ugly in his taupe uniform.  I hated watching him as he picked his scab and sucked mucous from the crusty pimple on his putrid foot.   The sight of the moist, curd-like substance oozing from it made me want to vomit.  It was as ugly as sin.  Sadly, this happened as I was about to enjoy a succulent steak dinner.  I asked him to stop but he told me I was retarded and I should just shut up.

Some of the above words merely sound ugly.  Others are hurtful and offensive.  Do we take seriously the power of words?  Wouldn’t you rather read a sentence like this?  The baby laughed as a beautiful butterfly landed on her nose.

Yes, words have power to build up or tear down.  Let’s use them well.  And I promise, I’ll never tell this ugly story again.  Meanwhile enjoy this clip from Seinfeld where George waxes poetic about the word manure.

In Receipt of Quite a Receipt

A quick trip to CVS the other day yielded me the 8 items I needed plus a 45 ½ inch long receipt.  I kid you not.  There is no paper shortage at CVS.  Here is a list of my thoughts on being in receipt of this long receipt.

  • This is about the same height as my five-year-old grandson.
  • If I ever have to walk to an unfamiliar destination from CVS, I can tear off little bits of the receipt and follow the paper trail back there.  I figure I can go about a mile without fear of running out of paper.
  • I could roll it up and put it in the bathroom in case we run out of T.P.
  • Maybe I’ll use the reverse side to work on writing a book.  I wonder if this is how John Grisham got started.
  • I could give it to my grandson, Jett, who loves to draw giraffes.
  • And then there’s the Seinfeld connection – it makes me think of Elaine from the episode where she had to go see The English Patient twice.  Everybody thinks it’s wonderful (like the extra bucks and coupons) but she doesn’t care about that – it’s just too long!
  • If this were a Christmas stocking, it would be a fire hazard.
Wrong season for Christmas stockings. Are there Easter stockings?

Wrong season for Christmas stockings. Are there Easter stockings?

I could barely fit this monstrosity in my purse.  I tried to stuff it in and it dangled from the outer pocket like toilet paper on a shoe.  The clerk suggested I put it in my wallet so I’d remember to use the coupons and extra bucks, but I told him I’d have to get a bigger wallet, which I could have done right there; but I couldn’t stand the thought of getting another receipt.