Fred Wasn’t Impressive

After preparing our home for the approach of Tropical Storm Fred, was a bit disappointed that all we are getting today are clouds and a light rain. Regardless, we are very thankful Fred wasn’t a category 4 or 5 that smashed into our section of the Gulf Coast. My prayers are with those folks in the Florida panhandle area.

The next storm, Grace, is strolling up along nearly the same path. That’s bad news for Puerto Rico, Cuba and the areas Fred just came through. The current path has the storm again heading out into the Gulf. Nevertheless, we shall stay prepared. We have plenty of water, canned goods (a manual can opener) and have moved and outside furniture that could become airborne, into our shed.

Still, I love living in Florida. This area has a few weather challenges, but nothing we can’t handle. I grew up in Northeast Ohio, a survivor of the Blizzard of ’77-’78. I come from hearty stock, rooted in the hills of West Virginia and Kentucky. A little rain and wind, ah, we got this…hold my umbrella drink!

Take care, Friends! Be kind to one another!

Believe in the Magic of Christmas

How many of you believe in Santa Claus? It’s OK, admit it…we all should believe in Santa!

It’s the magic of Santa that draws me. The wonder of how the reindeer fly, the elves making the toys, and the sleigh flying around the world in one night.  I love the sparkle in a child’s eyes when listening to the tales of Santa, all the while imagining just how it all might work. I still try to work out the logistics of a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, but have yet to come up with an answer!

But the thing is, we don’t need an answer. What we do need is something that evokes wonder and innocence in our lives. Even if it’s only during the Christmas season, we can all use something to believe could actually happen, simply through the power of magic.

If you don’t see any magic in your corner of the world, create some. Do something unexpected for someone. Give of yourself and your time. Make a difference for someone else today and I guarantee you will also make a difference in your own life. That’s kind of how magic works.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a bit of Santa magic in your day!!

 

Thanksgiving Week

We all have a lot to be thankful for, but many of us seem to only think of these things at this time of year. Why is that? I don’t know, but maybe has something to do with how busy we are, or think we are. Easy to overlook the little things when we are running ragged trying to get through our lives.

I believe my life has slowed down significantly in the last several years, and for that I’m thankful. I love my family, I’m thankful for my husband and three awesome sons. I tolerate my job, which helps pay for our life, and for that I’m thankful. The house we were able to purchase last year is a dream come true, and I’m thankful for that each and every day.

Let’s all take a moment and be thankful. Yes, Thanksgiving is about the food, the family, the travel to see relatives…but also about the beginnings of this amazing country we all call home. I agree, there are things that need change in America, but I’m not going to list those here because we wouldn’t agree on them all anyway. If we support each other, embrace our differences, and treat each other with kindness, I believe we might just find even more things to be Thankful for.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

A Long Absence

Hello, there!  I’ve been a stranger, not written in a very long time.  I have no excuses, reasons or anything to say on my behalf.  I’ve simply been “away”.  I’m back, and the plan is to not wander so far away again.

So what’s happened since my last installment?  A lot, and then again, not very much.  Still living in Florida, and we’ve bought a house.  That’s a huge deal!  I don’t ever want to go through the home buying experience again!  Our realtor was amazing, no complaints there.  Our finance guy…kinda a clone of the Energizer Bunny, only not so warm and fuzzy!  He did the job, got it done for us, but the hoops we had to jump through were a killer!

We haven’t adopted a new dog yet, can’t bring ourselves to replace Chewy.  He’s irreplaceable.  At times I’m ready, then others I’m just not.  Still cry over the good memories.  Now and then we do dog-sit for our buddy Shadow, he’s a black and white Cocker Spaniel with the sweetest disposition!  That helps fill the hole left by Chewy for awhile.  Maybe someday…

We’ve got our dream house!  Three bedrooms, a pool, nice neighborhood, etc.  It checks off all the “gotta have” boxes.  But of course, after just a few months, homeowner reality sets in and we had to replace the air conditioning unit.  Another few months later, the hot water heater takes a crap.  Now a possible issue with the pool pump…but it’s still makes me happy knowing that it’s our home, our special place forever!!

Halloween is coming quickly and I don’t know what to expect in our new neighborhood.  I asked the ten year old boy next door if there’s usually trick or treating.  He was so cute, said he couldn’t remember, but maybe he might be too old for it this year.  Really?  Since when are ten year old boys too old for costumes and candy?

Thanksgiving? Christmas? Don’t get me started on how quickly that’s coming at us!  I don’t even have outside decorations and lights for the house yet.  We can’t be “that house” with no lights in the neighborhood!  I need to figure out the best way to string lights in palm trees.  I’ll check for a video on the internet!

If you’re a friend of my previous posts, thanks for checking this out again.  If you’re a new friend, Welcome Aboard!  Until next time…have a fabulous day!

 

The Hole in My Heart

For fifteen years, met at the door by my dog, Chewy. His bubbly personality, always happy to see me, ready for head scratches and belly rubs. Stalking me from room to room, but sometimes would get bored and look for another family member to track. If one of us were out, pacing and whining until all his humans were safely back home. But this last week, no more.

Unfortunately, old age caught up with Chewy quite quickly over the last six months or so. He became blinded by cataracts, slowed by arthritis attacking his joints, and quite possibly some type of neurological distress, all which contributed to hacking away at the lively little Lhasa Apso we’d all come to love and adore.

The heart-wrenching decision was made and Chewy was sent on his way to that “better place” where he will no longer suffer from his ailments. My family is broken, feeling this loss deeply. Fond memories bring tears. A lot of tears. We each experience the emptiness in different ways, we hug and console each other as best we can.

I think the time of day where I most miss my little buddy is at night. Chewy seemed to know when it was getting close to my bedtime and begin to give me “that look”. I’d ask if he was ready for bed, Chewy would jump down from the couch and walk towards the bedroom. Some nights he would jump up on the bed and wait for his blanket to be placed just right in his spot near my feet. Other nights when he wanted to snuggle close, he would burrow himself in beside me and drift off, all the while giving off enough body heat to take the chill off a large building.

I miss that little bed hog. More than I ever thought possible. Chewy was more than just a dog. He was an integral part of the family. The one constant we call could count on, giving unconditional love and support, no matter what the situation. A nudge, a kiss, a paw…exactly what was needed, exactly when needed.

No one else will ever fill this hole left in my heart. It’s your spot, Chewy. You will always be with me.

Lottery Woes

Yes, I’d love to win the lottery.  The Powerball drawing got to somewhere around $500 million on a recent round.  As Bill and I were walking one evening, we discussed what we might do with such a windfall.  Buy a house on the island? How much could we give each of the kids?  Definitely pay off any debt.  There is that dream car he wants…the black Trans Am from the “Smokey & the Bandit” movie.  We could open our own tattoo shop.  Travel extensively, for sure.  Charitable contributions?  What about investments?

But, as the saying goes, “you can’t win if you don’t play” and I’ve not been playing.

Of course, I understand money does not make one happy.  I’m already happy, so that’s not an issue.  My use of the money would enhance my current level of happiness and that of my family.  Accomplishing any the items listed above could certainly do just that.  Who wouldn’t love to give large chunks of money to their kids, travel wherever you wish, or make a sweet donation to a favorite charity?

I admire the folks who anonymously give of their fortunes to those in need. I love hearing at the holiday season of a Salvation Army bell ringer finding an extra special donation in their bucket.  I can see myself as a Secret Santa type, spreading joy to children who may otherwise do without.  Nothing sweeter than the smile of a child, right?

Along with such a win comes financial responsibility.  I admit, this is the last thing I will think about.  I’ll want to start planning vacations and purchases, not wise investments.  That’s where Bill comes in.  He’s my rock, my sensible side, the sane voice on my shoulder saying, “Hey, you are out of control.  This is how we’re going to work it.”  And he will be right.

Winning the lottery is a life changing event.  What would you do with $500 million?

Hmmm…..

Thursday On My Mind

Why does Thursday take longer to arrive than any other day, and then it hangs on like you’ve no place else to be…ever?  Even with an absolutely gorgeous day here on the Gulf Coast, the day drags.

I do like Thursday, it feels like an accomplishment to me when it finally arrives.  I know I’ve already gone through most of the week, with only one more day to the weekend.  If I’ve had a busy work week, things tend to simmer down by Thursday afternoon.  This makes Friday simply a breeze in the wind!

Thursday evening is also a quiet night at home.  Bill and Cody go bowling, leaving me home with Chewy.  Although he’s a male dog, we call it “Girl’s Night”.  We can make whatever we want for dinner, watch whatever we want on TV, and go to bed early if we wish…and frequently, we do.  Tonight, I believe a bath is on the agenda for Chewy, which he will protest, but it is futile…we must make an effort combat any case of Swamp Ass the little dude may be festering.

Until last week, I would watch one of my favorite TV shows each Thursday, “Parenthood”.  Since I go to bed before it aired, the DVR was set to catch it for me.  Sadly, last week I watched the last episode of the series…and yes, cried my eyes out!  That’s another reason I wouldn’t watch it when the Guys were home.  They didn’t need to see what a slobbery mess I became.  I do think they closed up the series nicely, bringing each story full circle but also leaving viewers with a bit to ponder.  I would love to own the whole series on DVD so I could watch it all again…Kleenex box in hand, of course!

I have several movies backed up on the DVR, thinking I may watch “The Grand Budapest Hotel” tonight.  Looks interesting, and certainly not something the Guys would enjoy.  Sounds like a perfect “Girl’s Night” for Chewy and I.

Enjoy your day…and yes, the weekend is coming! No, your clock is really NOT running in reverse.  It’s simply Thursday!

Sticky Notes Rule

Think about this…how did the world even function before the creation of Post-It Notes?

I cannot even imagine an office anywhere that does not have a bin full of assorted colors of sticky notes in their supply cabinet.  These amazing inventions are likely the most helpful items ever.  Looking over my desk, I currently have two notes hanging from my monitor, three stuck directly to my desk, and another five on other sheets of paper pinned to my wall.  Not that I always remember to look at my notes…but that’s another day.

The uses for these sticky little marvels are endless.  They make great bookmarks, are handy by the fridge to note groceries you need to pick up, and are the perfect size for drink coasters.  You can use the sticky side to clean dust from between the keys of your keyboard.  Use them to mark events on your family calendar with specific colors for each person.  Maybe even decorate your friend’s car with hundreds of notes for a birthday surprise.

Besides being every color of the rainbow, you can find these handy little guys in various shapes and sizes, too.  I’ve seen holiday themed sticky notes and some pre-printed with grocery lists or chores for the kids to do at home, and even things for teachers to use in the classroom.

What a world we live in, huh?  Imagine how one sticky little piece of paper has transformed the way we do things.  If something like that can make a huge impact, what can you do to change the world around you today?

Crazy on the Tamiami Trail

My drive to work each day involves a stretch of the Tamiami Trail running between Bradenton and Sarasota.  A very busy strip with three lanes in each direction and a turn lane in the middle.  There are assorted businesses, hotels, marinas, and people.  Lots of people.

I grew up in Ohio where we learned to wait until traffic cleared, look both ways, and proceed cautiously across the road.  In Florida, apparently pedestrians are programmed to walk out into the middle of the street.  With oncoming traffic in all directions, there they go trotting right out between cars.  Every day I see people of all ages running across Tamiami Trail, playing a dangerous game of human Frogger.

For easy and inexpensive transportation, many people in Florida ride bicycles.  Great idea, the weather is usually sunny.  It’s a common sight to see riders going along with the flow of traffic.  So imagine my surprise one day when I see a woman sitting on her three-wheeled bike in the middle lane of Tamiami Trail, digging deep into her purse looking for some elusive item!  Really, that’s the most convenient spot to stop and check your gum supply?

Now I realize Sarasota is known for it’s connection to the Ringling Circus, but one day I spotted a small man in the middle of the road.  It startled me to see him bravely standing there, at way under four feet tall, with traffic whizzing past him at high speeds.  I’m just over five feet tall and not sure I have the courage to do that!

All this takes driving to another level for me.  Not only do I have to be aware of other drivers actions, but also the unpredictable stunts of pedestrians.  It feels like I’m driving with my head on a swivel so I don’t miss anything.  Still, I’d rather these distractions than driving during Ohio winters in the snow and ice!

Be safe out there!

Grandma Leona’s Stuffing

What’s the difference between stuffing and dressing?  I don’t know, but I certainly cannot have Thanksgiving dinner without Grandma Leona’s Sausage Stuffing with my turkey.

I made a batch of it this morning. This is the real deal folks, homemade bread stuffing. The process started two days ago when I took a loaf of bread out of the bag and arranged it in my giant stainless steel bowl to dry out.  This is the point when the holidays begin to feel real to me…and my husband begins his eye-rolling exercises because I become a ten-year-old as I dive head first into preparations and decorating.

Making this famous stuffing really is not difficult.  It starts when I nervously get my scary sharp kitchen scissors to cut the bread into cubes. (Nervous because once I nipped the end of my little finger with these while trimming a rose stem…six stitches!) Then I sprinkle all the spices on the bread cubes…lots of sage, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and salt.  I beat an egg and pour over the cubes.  I love cooking diced onion in butter, it smells delicious to me.  That gets mixed with the sausage after its browned, and mixed into the bread cubes. Moisten it all with chicken broth and make sure it is mixed well.

This is where my version parts ways with Grandma’s.  Instead of jamming all this goodness into the turkey, I warm it in the crock pot.  I keep it from drying out by drizzling chicken broth over it while it heats through.  Hey…I think I just figured out the stuffing versus dressing thing!

All this has me feeling nostalgic.  We had wonderful feasts when I was a kid.  Grandma and my Mom would tag team it, creating the most amazing meals.  Strange maybe, but one of my most vivid memories is of Grandma’s gravy boat.  It’s part of her set of Franciscan China in the Apple pattern.  This year, I am setting the table with Grandma’s dishes, that cute gravy boat included!

I learned to create those awesome meals for my husband and sons.  I like to think Grandma would be proud of me!