Sunday, September 28, 2008

I think I forgot.....

You know the feeling? You've left on a trip and you just know you forgot something. It nags at you for hours, maybe even days. There's always something. I always hope I remember something that I forgot right away as then I can relax and enjoy the trip. We've been in FL for 6 days now and it finally came to me this morning. I forgot one suitcase at home. Sighhhh maybe we'll remember it next year.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I've got friends in low places

I used to be a bartender at a private club. They played a lot of country music and I always liked that song. It's exactly the opposite for any of my friends now though. They've got a friend in a high place!

You see, we had water damage when we got here. I assumed, and yes I know what they say about those that assume, that the water was coming in from outside at the bottom. Seemed logical to me. Water damage is on the bottom, water must be coming in there. Ah no, not so much. See, our gutters were plugged. Who knew that if the gutters are plugged you get water damage on the floor. I'll be damned I didn't know it. I do now. It was time for us to bond with the gutters. I use the word 'us' loosely. You see, 'us' refers to me and Den. One of us is afraid of heights. One of us is a bit too large to go up on a ladder. An 8 foot ladder to be precise. That leaves the other one of 'us' to bond with the gutters alone. The other one of us got to bond with the caulking. Hmmmmm I wonder which was which?

OK, that mystery is solved!

I'm still happy here. I haven't seen what's in the gutters. I know it's difficult to see in the picture, but the gutter is about 4 inches deep and it's filled to the top with this gunk. It's so thick I have to use a garden trowel to scoop it out and a little garden rake to break it up. It was wet, stank, and was crawling with ants and God only knows what else!

Here is one of the first scoops coming out.

Here it is going into the bucket. I emptied that bucket over 15 times. But hey, who was counting? Every time I filled the bucket, I'd have to climb down the 8 foot ladder, empty the bucket, then climb back up and start all over. Did I mention it was over 90 degrees? Wasn't just the gutters stinking after a while for sure!

When I was at the end with the downspout, I heard scratching inside. Wasn't sure what it was and was a bit nervous to peer down the hole. I did anyway. Just as my face hovered over the hole to see what was in there, this little fella did a kamikaze leap straight up in the air! Scared the beejeepers out of me for sure. I thought for sure it was his death leap, but no, he just clung to the window for a bit, shook it off, then was fine.

He settled in on the rung of my ladder to watch my progress. It looks like he's drumming his little fingers wondering just how long it's going to take me! If you were wondering too, it took a long time.

A few scoops later, I found this guy. Thank God he was dead. Yes, he is as big as he looks!

After I finished getting all the gunk out of the gutter, trowel full by trowel full, it was time to use the pressure washer to get it pristine. Oh yes, and also to try to force whatever was plugging the downspouts out the other end. I aimed the nozzle down the hole, pulled the trigger, and it was like Old Faithful, only smaller, and in mud. Stuff shot high into the air and of course all over me. It was hot, the water felt good. The mud, not so much. I guess people pay a lot of money for a mud treatment. Hey, I got one for free! I also got rid of whatever was clogging the down spout. Both of them. Oh, please click on this picture so you can see just how muddy I was!

After many trips up and down the ladder, after fighting off killer frogs and most probably rabid insects, after being bitten about a zillion times by the ants, after crawling on my hands and knees on the metal roof to get the pine needles off, hoping all the while I didn't go crashing through, yes, after all this, the job was done!

Oh my God that was only one side of the place!!! And we still have to fix all the water damage on the inside! Screw that, I'm off to the pool!

Friday, September 26, 2008

And the ants go marching

Definitely not two by two! More like a thousand by a thousand!

As you know, we've arrived in Florida for the winter. It's a lot of work for the first week, then it's 7 months of fun basically.

Here's an update of progress. As you may know, everything we bring with us from Michigan has to be packed in plastic tubs with lids as the back of the truck, under the tonneau cover, isn't waterproof. So, ah damn it I'm smacking myself here! I had meant to take a picture of the back of the truck before unloading it. I guess the torrential downpour in which we offloaded the stuff drove that from my mind! I wanted the exact configuration of the tubs in a picture to facilitate easier packing in the spring! Ah well, such is life. We had 3 large crates and 2 small crates plus golf clubs and space bags, and tons of other things in the back of the truck. Inside, we had one very large crate and one smaller one plus a myriad of other things that we just couldn't chance going in the back.

So, Monday, day one, we took every single thing out of the truck and stacked it hither and yon in the trailer. We began cleaning and unpacking. As the piles lessened, we discovered water damage on the lanai. Found out it was caused by blocked gutters. They need cleaning out but we only have a 6 foot ladder. Me, being on the rather short side, has to stand on the very top of the ladder to get to the gutters. Um, I don't think so Tim! Last thing I need is a broken hip or worse from falling off the ladder. Add a trip to Lowe's to buy an 8 foot ladder to the list of things to do. Oh yes, also 12 tubes of caulk, a can of Kilz, mold cleaner so I can wash the ceilings in the lanai and our bedroom. It seemed the more I did, the further behind I got! We worked our tushies off on Monday and rewarded ourselves with a lovely meal at Outback. That
Wallaby Darned sure tasted good! This is Outback's description of my favorite frozen concoction. "The famous Australian peach bellini. Tickle your tongue with this frosty combination of peaches, champagne, Smirnoff Vodka and DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps." I say Yum!

Tuesday I'd planned to go play cards in the evening so wanted to get everything done. Ya, that happened! Got a lot of things unpacked. Every single thing food related has to go into Tupperware as we get tiny little ants here. They can get into unopened packages of cereal, crackers, anything at all. I have a few screw top plastic containers that we use also. It is time consuming to do, but if it keeps those ants at bay, I'm all for it. The rest of Tuesday and Wednesday is a blur. The only thing I remember is calling the bug guy on Wednesday and scheduling an appointment for Thursday morning to spray for bugs. Ants in particular. This meant that now we had to take everything from under the kitchen sink, and the bathroom sink. We just put it all in 3 of the large tubs that we'd already unpacked. There are 3 cupboards beneath my kitchen sink and that's where I keep all my pots and pans and bowls and just everything! Three cabinets also under the bathroom sink, equally full of necessities. Talk about 2 steps forward and 3 back. We had more stuff in crates now than we did when we first got here!

It's now Thursday, still with me? Bug guy showed up around 9 or 10 I guess. He did his job and that meant we had to keep Pixie out of the trailer for about an hour after he left. We went for our first cart ride of the winter! I do adore going for a golf cart journey every day. It was just lovely. Saw lots of alligators, turtles, and sea birds. Good stuff. Came home and got ready to go to town to get the ladder, etc. Started out at Bed, Bath, & Beyond followed by Lowe's. Rounded out the trip with a visit to Wal-Mart and then my favorite grocery store here, Sweet Bay. Got some lovely pork chops as I had a package of shake and bake to use. Back home just in time to take care of the stuff and have a quick bite to eat and I finally got to go play cards for the first time! Do love my card games at night! I got back about 8:20 so we decided to watch Survivor and just catch the first 20 minutes later on. I was recording it you see.

Now, finally, to the subject of this blog. I was feeling a bit snackish. I got out the container of potato chips. I'd dutifully put them in a plastic screw top container to keep the beasties out. I was nibbling away and watching Survivor when I noticed specs on the lid of the container. Ants! I'd been eating the chips for at least 10 minutes now. How many ants had I digested??? I had a mouth full of chips at that time and had to stop and think. Do I swallow or spit? Figured they were dead by now so went with swallow. Kept me from having to get out of the chair at least! Those damn ants had gotten into a screw top container!!! Went to the pantry and looked and the only thing not in Tupperware was my Shake and Bake. Yep, full of ants. I've now got pork chops with no shake stuff! I checked around and didn't seem to see anymore infected items. I put the brown sugar in the freezer to be safe as that was in a screw top container also. Guess I'll just have to stick with air tight, water tight, Tupperware from now on! I put out my faithful Terro ant killer and that should do the trick. Frustrating to say the least! Take all the precautions and still get infested! At least if I see more in a few days I can call the bug guy to come back as his work is guaranteed. He can put out some gel baits or something.

It's 5AM Friday morning. I wonder what today will bring??

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Olive Garden

Was amazing!

We went to a rather late dinner tonight. Usually I choose, but tonight, Den chose. He picked Olive Garden. In the past, this has been my least favorite restaurant. I found the pasta bland, the sauces watery, the bread sticks doughy. Just a substandard place to eat for me. In fact, last time we went, I had sangria. No food, just sangria.

Tonight was the polar opposite. OMG everything was perfection. I started with a glass of Riesling. I was going for the Chateau Ste. Michelle, but the server suggested a different one. Good choice. It was a treat to my tongue.

I perused the menu with a very jaded attitude. I thought everything was more expensive than it should be. I mean really, pasta is cheap. I thought some pasta with some type of creamy sauce would be OK. I was looking and not finding anything. There was a small menu on the table and I picked that up and it sparked my interest. They had a never ending pasta bowl for $8.95. Still a lot of money for a noodle, but better than anything I'd seen so far. They had 7 different pastas to choose from and 6 sauces. You could start with one and then move on to the next. You could add endless meatballs or Italian sausage for $1.95 which I thought a good deal. They had a new creamy garlic asiago alfredo that had my taste buds on pointe. I ordered that with angel hair pasta. Den got penne with tomato basil something or other.

Server then asked if we wanted salad. Den said yes, I said no thank you. She asked if I wanted soup instead. Minestrone....gag me. Pasta e Fagioli. Equally gaggy. We made that at Buccilli's and it's just not my bowl of soup for sure. I said I'd pass. She then said they had a potato sausage soup, Zuppa Toscana. I said I'd give that a try. Holy shit was it fantastic! The broth had flavor up the ying yang. The taters were done and there was some green stuff floating in it. Dark, green, and leafy. You know, the stuff that is actually good for you. It didn't have any flavor as far as I could tell, but I thought I could put it in my healthy soups and get the benefit of a dark green thing and not have to taste it. Turned out it was kale. I shall be adding that to my next pot of soup for sure. I wanted to keep eating that soup and nothing else it was so good. Went fantastic with the warm, garlic bread stick for sure!

Two bowls of pasta were brought to our table with a flourish. Mine looked wonderful. Den's not so much. I'm not a chunky tomato kind of girl and that's what he had. Fresh grated Romano cheese was applied and the first taste went to my lips. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was the quintessence of how pasta should be for me. It was creamy and silky with subtle flavors. I could taste the garlic, I could taste the asiago. The angle hair was cooked exactly as I like it. Oh yes, I was in love.

My second bowl I chose linguine with alfredo sauce and Den chose angel hair with meat sauce. He'd got the endless Italian sausage with his and they were 2 HUGE hunks of meat. You could, of course, have as many as you wanted. They were, after all, endless. I dipped my fork into his meat sauce and then wound an alfredo covered linguine onto the fork. I raised it to my lips and I swear my eyes rolled back into my head. Talk about taste explosion! Good Lord if I was in heaven before, where was I now? THIS was the eating experience I've been waiting for! I am pretty sure I was moaning at the table. I didn't care. It was so damned good! I couldn't stop eating it. Server came back and I told her how wonderful it was. She said 'oh let's make your third bowl a combination then!'. I said oh no, no third bowl for me. I think I might have been thrusting my bowl out at her at the same time, however, much like Oliver Twist. I couldn't help myself. I might have even said 'please sir, may I have some more?'!

So, the third bowl came and eureka, we had a winner! Angel hair pasta with the creamy garlic asiago alfredo with meat sauce on top. Fresh grated Romano on top of that. Bells were ringing, I may have lost consciousness and definite ooohing and ahhhing ensued. I was over the moon.

So, they have this pumpkin cheesecake with a caramel sauce, whipped cream, and ginger cookie crumbles. I'm thinking lunch tomorrow!

I'm also thinking the scale is going to be a brutal shock on October 3 when i go back to WW!

It will have been well worth it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


We made it.

Windows are moldy. Water damage on the lanai. Golf cart won't fully charge. Something black and disgusting on the bedroom ceiling. More mold I'm guessing. Still got 2 small crates and 2 big crates to unpack. There's a mountain of clothes on the bed that I must take care of before I sleep tonight. Did I mention when I ran a pot of water through the coffee maker yesterday, there were hundreds of tiny black specks? I thought they were coffee grounds. They were ants. Albeit dead ones as of course they were now boiled ants. Took me 3 pots of water and lots of reaching down inside the works of the machine to get all the corpses out!

Cable got hooked up today.

Internet got hooked up today.

My friend Mary came over for a welcome hug!

I found my pink, feathered, tiara to wear while working. It makes me happy.

Got my dog on my lap. Got a full belly. Life is good.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A good time was had by all

For those of you asking for a report on how the Jimmy buffet went, it was fabulous! It met every single one of my expectations. The food was good and plentiful. The alcohol flowed, but nobody got stupid. The conversation was excellent.

Regrets? Of course. You can't have a gathering without regrets. I didn't get pictures of everyone like I wanted. We had about 74 people here. Please don't be offended if you're reading this and you don't see your picture. I still love you. I was just too lame to get your picture!! Damn it, there's only one of me! I wanted to be everywhere at once.

My friends Marty & Eldy, that we winter with in Florida, drove all the way here from Indiana for the party. I wanted to be with them the whole entire time. I feel so bad I couldn't. Oh it's purely selfish. They're awesome people. Just a joy to be with and I was blessed when they entered my life. I wanted to spend the whole entire day with them instead of the few minutes I actually got to spend. They were wearing the most awesome parrot hats when they arrived. Second regret, I didn't get a picture of it. Here they are anyway. Eldy on the left, Marty on the right. Marty brought a HUGE gift basket that she wasn't supposed to. God I love people that break the rules! It was full of really groovy stuff that I'll use and always think of them now. Awesome!
This is my long time friend Sherry from town along with her man Ken. I didn't get to talk to her much either, but she lives here. I can see her anytime! My son Joshua was fixing her double strength margarita's. I don't even think she knew I was there!

This is Cheryl, another friend from town. You can see she was right into the theme of the party with her tropical shirt. Behind her are a few of Den's relatives. The white haired lady is Aunt Eileen. Her husband, Uncle Jerry, just passed away about a month ago. I was happy she made the trip. Uncle Jerry and Aunt Eileen have been to every function we've had. Every graduation, every Eagle Scout ceremony, every wedding. If we had it, they were here. It was good to have her here for this.

I didn't have nearly enough time to spend with this couple. This is Elaine & her sweetie Steve. Elaine and I have been friends since 3rd grade. I don't mean casual friends. I mean the most wonderful kind of friend you could ever have in the whole world. The kind of friend that brings 3, count them 3 desserts to your party! The kind of friend that if you don't see each other for a year, you pick up exactly where you left off. The kind of friend you call when you're sad. The kind of friend you call when you're happy. The kind of friend you just call. Of course she drove the 2.5 hours to be with me for this party. That's the kind of friends we are. Oh yes, they did dishes not once, but twice. Now that is a FRIEND!!! This was my first meeting of Steve. I give him a thumbs up. If he hurts my friend, however, I will run his ass over with my one ton, turbo diesel, dooly without blinking an eye. THAT is the kind of friends we are.

These are two of my nieces. Christina (she'll always be Chrissy to me) on the left, and Kerry Lou on the right. Chrissy reminds me a lot of myself. That is kinda scary!

These are our next door neighbors and Chrissy's husband Adam. Elaine, in the blue pants, made the most delicious fruit salad for the party. It's good to have good neighbors! Stefan & Maryann from across the street were here too. I did not get pictures of them. Sighhhhhh.

This is Den's brother Terry on the left, and my oldest son Brian on the right. No doubt setting the world to rights. I've always thought Terry looks a bit like Kenny Rogers. He's good people for sure. He and his wife Tammi have also been to every single one of our family functions. Den has 8 brothers. This one you can always count on. Somehow I missed getting Tammi in the pictures!

This is Virginia and her daughter Stacey. I work with V at Buccilli's. She made this summer so much fun for me. She made me want to go to work and that's no small feat. She also brought a very extravagant gift which she wasn't supposed to! Ohhhhh but I loved it!

Here's a shot of part of the garage. Not a very good one, but a shot.

This is part of my family tree. From left to right we have: Delphia May, my cousin. Liz who married Delphia's brother Paul and now by default is my cousin too. What a great addition to the family she was! Patty, Delphia's daughter and my second cousin. Patty is a lot of fun and we never have enough time to talk! The interesting thing about this picture, and I still can't figure it out, is I'm sure that is my camera sitting on the table!!! So, um, where did this picture come from?

This is my cousin Aaron and his wife Rose. Again, Rose is so great to talk to and I just never have enough time. Rose was a rebel also and brought a gift. What is it with these people? I know the candle she brought smells really good though!!! Aaron's sister Connie and her husband Fred and their children were here too. Connie brought me a gorgeous mum to plant. I didn't get pictures of the family or the plant!
This is Will. He's going to med school in the fall. He's got a twin brother Mark. Most of the day was spent with my trying to figure out if it was Will or Mark at the party! Will is one of the offspring of Aaron and Rose.

We thought we'd get some 4 generation pictures while they were all in the same room! This is my second son Jason, his son Cole, Den and his mom Lucy.

This is my oldest son Brian, his son Mason Richard, Den and Lucy again. Dennis, for those of you that don't know, is really Richard Dennis. Mason was named for his grandpa. How cool is that?

The day after the party my family got together and went out to lunch. Where else but Buccilli's of course! We did have enough food left over, but Buccilli's has the best pizza around and my family from out of town wanted to go there. The young stud that looks a bit like Little Nemo, is my son Joshua. He flew in from Miami for this party. He was hoping we'd get to go there while he was home. We're actually sitting in the same place we had Brian and Tara's rehearsal dinner for their wedding. You see, Buccilli's is more than good pizza. It's a memory for us. We have celebrated many an occasion there. Yep, it's a great place.

These two men are my brothers. Don on the left and Dan on the right. I wanted to get a picture of all three of us but, I guess that brings us to regret 3, or 10, who knows? I've lost count! I have a chance to rectify that though as they're coming next week for another visit. Dan flew in from Reno, NV for this party. Again, how cool is that? He wanted to get together again before he left, so I'll get our picture then.

A shot from the other end of the table at Buccilli's.

What a talent our family has!!!
The party was great, the bonding awesome. It just plain wore some of us out!

Queen Debby

Abba sang about a Dancing Queen. She might have been only 17, but she was a queen.

I'm a list queen. Definitely not 17, and not so good at dancing, but list making? Oh I've got it down to a fine science. I'm in high list making mode here with our imminent departure for FL on the horizon. I've got a list of things to take, a list of things to do before we go, and a list of things to do when we get there. Den asked for a haircut last night so he'll look nice for our last day at work today. I added it to the list. We needed to get the truck's oil and fuel filter changed before the journey south. He did that yesterday after we got home from camping. I'd forgotten to put that on the list. I added it, so I could cross it off. Oh come on, if you are a list guru, you know you do that too!

My list includes things like winterize the 5th wheel, renew driver's license and license plate tabs, get absentee ballots so we can vote in November. It's got stuff like show our son how to operate both the lawn mower and the snow blower. Also on the list, change address, get more flea and tick medicine for the dog, buy a modem and router so I can be online in FL, write thank you notes for people that did wonderful things for our party.

Sonny and Cher sang about the beat going on. Here, the list goes on. And on. And on. And on. I wonder if I can pencil extra days to get it all done?

We leave Friday morning for Florida. I better add that to the list or I might forget.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

It's party time!

Yep, it sure is. This Saturday at ye olde homestead.

Let me explain. Try to stay with me here, this gets a bit convoluted. My oldest son was going to the culinary academy and due to graduate. The year? 1999. I thought of an idea for a graduation party. We'd have a Jimmy buffet! We'd have a Cheeseburger In Paradise and drink margaritas and play Jimmy Buffett music and it would just be marvelous. I bought the neatest neon colored plates and cups for the occasion. Well, as it's definitely not 1999, I'm sure you've figured out there was a fly in the ointment. Two months before Brian graduated, he decided he wanted to go and earn a different degree. He now wanted to be a teacher. So, right after graduating, and becoming a full fledged chef, he was off to a different university to earn a bachelors degree in education. I said we'd have the party after he graduated the next time. Both he and Jason, my second son, graduated the same week from their respective universities. The year now was 2005. My youngest son was also in college at that time so we decided to wait until he graduated to have the big shindig. OK, still with me? Excellent! It's now 2008 and Joshua graduated from his university this April. I'm going to be 50 in October(A Pirate Looks at Forty, but I already saw that)! Dennis and I had our 30th anniversary in April and our first 2 grandchildren were born. This was definitely the year for the party!

I've been planning this party for 9 years folks, and oh yes, I do still have those plates and cups I bought in 1999! I can now actually say it's the day after tomorrow! I'm excited to say the least. The guest list is up to about 60 people. My son Joshua is flying in from Miami. My brother Dan is flying in from Reno. Our friends from Indiana are coming and my long time, bestest girlfriend from grade school and beyond is coming, and this Brown Eyed Girl is just so excited she can hardly stand herself! My one sadness of the day is my dear friend from over the pond won't be able to be here. I'll Miss You So Badly Ian.

I've been waking up at night for the last several nights thinking of things to add to the list. You know, the list of things to do. The list of things to cook. The list to find the list! I do love lists.

Here's the menu, in list form of course. I'm a bit particular about the food I serve so I'll be doing all the cooking myself.

Appetizers to be put out at 1PM are as follows:

*Margaritas, pina coladas, strawberry daiquiris, and various other libations (Hey It's 5 O'clock Somewhere!)
*Swedish meatballs
*BBQ meatballs
*Sausage balls
*Ham roll ups
*Creamy salsa dip and tortilla chips
*Homemade dill dip and fresh veggies
*Rice krispie treats

Dinner to be put out around 5 or 6 or whenever people get hungry. Den will be manning the grill and the rest I'll have done ahead of time.

*Cheeseburgers (in paradise of course!)
*Potato salad (of the parrothead variety)
*Macaroni salad
*Baked beans with hamburger
*potato chips

Dessert will be as follows:
*Peanut butter sheet cake (not a Peanut Butter Conspiracy)
*German chocolate sheet cake
*Homemade cookies
*Fruit salad

We're planning a bonfire when it gets dark and the party should go on late into the night. I plan to have everything done tomorrow so I can just play on Saturday. Oh I just can't wait! I shall take pictures and post them in a future blog. Come Monday it'll be all over, but for now Why Don't We Get Drunk?

Now, if I could just find that darn lost shaker of salt......

Monday, September 1, 2008

What I've learned so far

I read an article the other day entitled 'Lessons at the Halfway Point'. It was from the Reader's Digest and was an excerpt from the book 'Michael Levine'. It just got me thinking about things I've learned as, nearing 50, I'm past the halfway point for sure. So here we go.

On raising children:

* No can be a complete sentence.
* You need to be a mother, not a friend.
* If you feed your child Lucky Charms cereal and then put him on the tilt 'o whirl, he will spew rainbow puke over the rest of the riders.
* If you use bad words around your children. They will use them at the most embarrassing, inappropriate time possible.
* You need to run in the pouring rain and splash through the puddles sometimes. Those are the things they'll remember.
* It's quantity & not quality that counts when it comes to time. Quality can't be scheduled. If you're there for your children always, the quality times will just happen.
* Dish soap in the mouth of a child that said a bad word is not child abuse. It's actually amusing if you make them drink some water. They bubble.
* Sometimes it's easier to throw the underpants away than to try to clean them. It's almost always better to try to clean the child, however.

On life in general:

* If you run to the store in a ratty tee shirt and no earrings, you'll see several people you know.
* There is no arguing with ignorance.
* You can't make people like you. More important, it doesn't matter.
* If you pee on a ground bee nest they will sting you. It will hurt. A lot.
* If your father and your husband are fixing the gas grill and you hear 'OK son, I've got hold of the wire with my fingers, go ahead and hit the starter button', followed by 'OK Dad', you should holler STOP really loud.
* If your father wants to help you with home maintenance, even though he can't fix anything at all, and it will take you 7 times longer, let him. He won't be here forever and you'll treasure the time you spent with him.
* If you clean your house spotless nobody will stop by for a visit. If, however, your house is a pig sty, you're sure to get company.
* If you lie, you will get caught. It will be embarrassing. It's much easier to tell the truth.
* Life is very, very short. Do it all while you can. There will be time to clean the house when you're old. If you want a cookie, have one. You could be dead tomorrow. Tell your friends and family you love them. Often. You might not always have the chance. You always have today, but one day, you won't have tomorrow.

I'm sure I've learned more, but as I've said, I'm nearing 50 and I've probably forgotten the rest!