My frustration level is running in overdrive...my computer isn't working. Hopefully my personal tech Superman will be able to rescue me tomorrow.
My frustration level is running in overdrive...my computer isn't working. Hopefully my personal tech Superman will be able to rescue me tomorrow.
The storm is doing it's thing outside my window and that's likely to continue throughout the night. Overall it's pretty benign so let's talk about something beside the weather, shall we?
Like Storage Wars. If you're not familiar with it, it's a television show in which a band of real-life characters bid on the contents of storage units being auctioned to pay overdue rent on the units. The auctioneer cuts the lock off just before the bidding starts and everyone can look at the contents in the hopes of judging how much to bid but they can't enter. They can't peek in the boxes or move things around either so the bidders are often going on a gut feeling or taking a leap of faith that they'll get back their money they're about to pay. Once the auctioneer hollers Sold! viewers (and the successful bidder) get to see what was in the unit. Sometimes it's a bust and sometimes there's something rare and valuable.
The show takes place in California but auctions just like it happen everywhere. One of Wayne's golfing buddies owns a storage facility right up the road and he's commented that Storage Wars has increased interest in and the sums paid for these delinquent units.
There was an auction at one of the storage facilities in Pensacola just last week. No, I wasn't there to bid but it made the news...because when they opened the boxes in the unit, they were filled with body parts. Hearts. Lungs. Brains. In soda cups and plastic food storage containers, no less. Can you imagine that buyer's reaction when he got into the contents of the unit he just bought? Or the management of the storage facility when he went to the office to report it? Where are the reality TV cameras when you need them!
While the first thought is that we have a mass-murderer in our midst, it turns out there's a semi-logical explanation, albeit a creepy one. The unit was rented by a physician who served for a time as an assistant medical examiner before he was fired several years ago. The news reported that he did private autopsies although I'm having a hard time thinking of many reasons why you'd need a private autopsy as opposed to one required by law but whatever.
Apparently the body parts were "left-overs" from his autopsies. Now whether he needed to retain these specimens for some valid purpose or he didn't want to follow the required steps to legally dispose of them I don't know. Maybe the organs had some interesting abnormality and he wanted to retain them or hoped to sell them to some medical school or something. No one seems to know because they can't get in touch with the doctor. And while the State Attorney's Office is looking into the situation, it seems stashing body parts in a storage unit isn't against any laws.
Call me a skeptic but I've always thought at least some parts of Storage Wars are staged. I mean how entertaining can it be if every unit sold on the show is filled with old clothes and shabby furniture. We'll know if the producers read the headlines when body parts ala Pensacola show up in a unit sold in some future show. They can call it Storage Wars Gone Bad but some would argue reality TV was never "good" to begin with.
If it seems like all I'm writing about is the weather, that's because life seems to be revolving around it right now. It's the prime topic in our local media, the main conversation with anyone we talk to and the motivating factor behind most of the day's activities today.
The house is clean. The yard is mowed. The laundry is done. The wind chimes are down and all the smaller stuff on the porches is secured. There's even a meal plan in place in case we lose power at dinner time tomorrow night. We did not move all of the patio furniture into the garage or lash the board to the French doors at the front of the house as we're no longer under a hurricane watch. Those things should be fine with tropical storm force winds but we can still do them tomorrow if need be. We're ready for whatever Mother Nature throws our way.
And at the present time, that just looks like some high winds and heavy rains. It's never fair to wish the storm off on someone else but I'm glad the path has shifted away from our corner of the world. I'm hoping Isaac turns out to be the dog who's bark is worse than his bite and some folks in the central parts of the State get some much needed rainfall. Always the optimist.
While predicting the path and strength of hurricanes has improved during the 35 years we've lived on the Gulf Coast, it's far from an exact science. Nature does what Nature is going to do and we're all forced to err on the side of caution. The beach is under a mandatory evacuation order, schools and businesses are closed tomorrow and many homes in our area are sporting hurricane shutters. If Isaac does what the professionals think he's going to do, it's all just a good rehearsal for when a storm does come our way. Most of those decisions had to be made days ago when it really did seem as if one was.
Other than shuffle a few things around on the porches, we didn't really do anything that didn't need to be done. You just can't afford not to take these storms seriously. So now we'll shift our concerns to family and friends in Mississippi and Louisiana and trust that they've done the same.
Wayne has a new favorite stop on his lap around the Internet, especially under the present circumstances. It's a new Navy weather satellite that produced this image of Isaac earlier this evening. Since it was taken at night, the lights in all the metropolitan areas really show up...but then so does the storm. Here's hoping everyone weathers it well.
Or, in this case, Grandma on a Hot Shingled Roof. I know you're wishing you were up there with me, aren't you, Dr. Dale? Actually, it wasn't particularly hot when I first started out because it was early but by the time I was ready to come down, it was quite toasty.
And why was I spending my Sunday morning on the roof? More storm preparations would be the easy answer but truth is it was something we would have been doing anyway. A forecast of 6"-12" of rainfall just accelerated the timetable. We found a damp spot on the carpet right at the baseboard when we moved some furniture recently and suspected a small leak around that vent pipe. Since it was pretty low on the roof, I volunteered to apply the sealer. Besides, my knees are much better suited to ladder climbing and roof crawling than the big guy's so up I went.
It wasn't a hard job and didn't take long. In fact, I sealed a second pipe in the same area while I was up there...just for good measure. It's funny...we had just seen our neighbor two doors down up on his roof a few days ago doing the same thing. His house was built at the same time as ours so it must be time.
Now getting on the roof isn't high on my list of favorite things to do. That whole getting from the ladder to the roof and back again thing is kind of tricky so when I finished with the vents, I figured I just as well do the other on-the-roof job that needed to be done: Clean out the gutter that runs between the house and the screen enclosure. It's the only gutter on the house where leaves seem to collect just because of how it's built and it's been a while since it was cleaned. Despite the beautiful blue sky overhead, all that rain was coming and the house would handle it better if the gutter were clear.
So I butt-scooted the width of the house while Wayne rigged up a bucket on a rope and we went to work. It needed it badly...there was a whole ecosystem up there! One handful at a time I pulled out clumps of wet leaves, the occasional plant attempting to grow and even a golf ball. And boy, did yoga come in handy as it was a lot of sitting (at the edge of the roof, no less) with the knees out and feet in for stability, then leaning way over to reach into the gutter. We do stretches like that in yoga so I had that move.
The other move wasn't exactly yoga-inspired but more my cowardly crawl moving back and forth to the end of the pool enclosure to lower the bucket down for Wayne to dump. Essentially, I butt-scooted the length of the house multiple times over the course of the morning. Between the rough surface and the building heat, my hands and backside took a beating even though I had on gloves and jeans. And those jeans? Well, they're in the trash barrel now. Not only were they black from scooting across the shingles but I wore a hole in the seat of them. It went well with the ones I already had in the knees so it's not like they were my good jeans.
Three hours and a very clean gutter later, I negotiated my descent and was happy to be back on the ground. And just like the last time, I said I wouldn't wait so long before doing that job again but it's hard to get excited about climbing up on the roof until you have to.
Mark a few more storm preparation jobs off our list. The latest predictions have shifted the storm track west of us for now but we're not out of the woods yet. We'll make the decision tomorrow how many more jobs on that list will need to be done before Isaac arrives but none of them require my feet to leave the ground.
The calendar might say it's four months until Christmas but the parking lots we were in this morning looked more like it should be four days. Cars everywhere. It could have something to do with this:
I'm sure the National Hurricane Center won't mind if I borrow its latest graphic on what is now Tropical Storm Isaac but what is sure to become a hurricane by the same name. That white area, officially known the Cone of Uncertainty, is where they think Isaac might go, and while the real map doesn't have that little red "X" on it, I kinda think it should...it's where we live. Right now, Isaac seems to have set his sights set on us, doesn't he.
That, however, is subject to change. In fact, it has already changed several times since we first started watching ol' Isaac on Wednesday evening. It's prime time in hurricane season so we've always got our eyes and ears tuned to storm news, and when they started talking about Isaac hitting Cuba, well, it got our attention. Historically, a storm track that crosses Cuba is bad news for us.
And since we started watching, the track has been right at us, then east of us and now back at us again. And although the National Weather people didn't change their track yet, the latest models have shifted it west of us to Mississippi or even Louisiana. It's still early yet, though; no need to get alarmed yet. The forecast track is likely to change again a time or two.
It is time, however, to be smart about preparations. And that brings me back to the packed parking lots; plenty of other people were thinking about preparations too.
We had to stop at Lowes for a couple of things unrelated to the approaching storm but we must have been the only people in the store with that kind of mission. One after another, generators were being wheeled out the door and loaded into waiting vehicles. At $800 a pop, this morning's sales might single-handedly cause the local economy to rebound. Those who weren't buying generators were buying plywood and gas tanks. The young man who checked us out said Lowes had called in every available employee to help and it would be like that until the storm hit or took aim somewhere else.
Then we went to Walmart. Yes, it took nerves of steel and a heap of patience to do that but if we were going to eat the next few days, groceries had to be bought. In some ways it was better than we expected...busy but we've seen worse. Unless, of course, you count the potato chip aisle...and the one with peanut butter...and, of course, the one with bottled water. They were impassable. It would be funny on some levels but probably only to those of us who weren't going down those aisles.
We've done the early prep...gas in the cars and extra gas cans, generator fired up for a test run, food and water in the pantry and cash on hand. Now all that's left is to watch and wait to see where Isaac is really headed to see if serious preparations will have to be made. Personally, I'd like for him to turn around and go back where he came from but that isn't going to happen. We'll deal with what we get.
Could you be buying too many if the lady at the produce stand says, "Somebody really likes tomatoes!" when you check out? For the second Saturday in a row we had two sacks of 5-6 each when we reached the cash register plus a basket of the little grape tomatoes. Too many tomatoes? There's no such thing.
Nothing can quite measure up to fresh-from-Grandpa Arnall's-garden tomatoes where the rich, black dirt gave them just the right mixture of sweetness and acid but these have been pretty good. It's the time of the year when the produce stands are getting them from Sand Mountain, an area in northern Alabama known for its tomato-growing. Wayne slices one every day for lunch and the rest of them have been finding their way on to salads, burgers and as an extra vegetable just the way they are.
The grape tomatoes, however, have become the star of what might be our new favorite summertime meal. It does require the oven, something I often avoid in the hot weather, but the flavors are worth it...light, fresh and oh so tasty. I scribbled it down when I saw it on the Internet and, of course, now I don't know who to credit for it but it's so easy that it's more of a process than a recipe.
Slice the grape tomatoes in half and put them on a foil-lined baking pan. Usually I use one of those little baskets full but I had extras tonight. Remember the rule: You can't have too many tomatoes. Coarsely chop some garlic and add it to the pan. The amount is up to you; for us, garlic is a little like the tomatoes...you can't have too much but suit your own taste buds. Pour some olive oil over the tomatoes and garlic. I never measure but since this is going to become your sauce for the pasta, be generous with it too. Season all this with some kosher salt and lots of cracked black pepper, give it a toss and put it in a preheated 400 degree oven.
Roast the mixture for 30 minutes, stirring it half-way through. The house is going to smell really good...well, if you like garlic, that is. And while it's roasting, start a pan of water and cook your pasta, timing it to be done when the tomatoes are. We like this with bowtie pasta because the "sauce" works well with a fork but really, you could use any kind. And while you're waiting everything to finish cooking, chop a generous amount of fresh basil into little green ribbons. It's more of that however-much-you-like-thing but since my basil is trying to flower, I cut a double-handful off the plants. Love the smell of fresh basil!
The tomatoes hold their shape but they get all soft and sweet and take on a little of the garlic flavor. And the oil gets infused with the tomato juices and garlic too. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is even though I downed a healthy serving of it for dinner this evening.
Then you just combine it all: Drained pasta, tomato-garlic-oil mixture and fresh basil and give it a good stir. If you need more oil, throw a little in the pasta pan first to warm it up so you don't cool the pasta down too much. I suppose you could mash the tomatoes up or puree it all in the blender if you wanted something closer to a traditional red sauce but we like it rustic. Top it with some shaved parmesan cheese and dig in. Yummo!
It's the kind of dish you can easily adapt and add to, like the leftover grilled chicken breast I threw in tonight. And one night when I served this as a side dish to a meal that included asparagus, we both agreed that would be a good addition. While those extras are well and good, I think I like it when there's nothing to compete with the summery flavor of the roasted tomatoes because right now...it's all about the tomatoes.
I've been putting together a little family history information to send to my dad. Let's keep it a secret just between us, OK? His computer is on the fritz so he won't be reading the blog and I know I can count on you not to spill the beans. And as it turns out, it's really not so little after all. Despite the fact that it's only my grandmother's side of the family, the folder filled up quickly...more than 55 pages.
There's a lot of names buried in those pages, some of which probably haven't been used much since the 1600's. Oh, there are plenty of John's and Samuel's but Obadiah and Benoni aren't names you hear everyday. They probably aren't names that are going to make a come-back either.
Then there were the names were I wouldn't have known if the person was male or female if I hadn't had a spouse's name to go with it. While Elisha would be a girl's name these days, there's more than one man in my family tree bearing that name. I was in trouble, however, when I came to Increase Ward who married Record Wheelock. Neither name seems to fit a man or a woman. As it turns out, Increase is the husband and Record the wife.
The most recent family I've been working on is full of unusual names. It's the family of Humphrey Atherton who on his own is an interesting fellow but he certainly picked some strange names for his offspring...or perhaps it was his wife to had a penchant for the offbeat. They started out pretty ordinary with Elizabeth, Jonathan, Isabel and Margaret but then they chose Rest (F), Increase (M), Consider (M), Thankful (F), Hope (M), Mary (F), Watching (M) and Patience (F). I'm not sure how a perfectly normal name like Mary got into that string of very different names but it did. And don't you just wonder what the thinking was in naming sons Consider and Watching? You can tuck those away in the back of your brain for those times when someone is soliciting a unique name for an as-yet-unborn new baby.
The popularity of names comes and goes. Probably in 350 years someone will be tracing their family roots and shaking their heads at the names we're using now. Still, I'm betting they won't be naming their kids Obadiah or Watching.
The lead story on tonight's 10pm news was a DUI arrest the Sheriff's Department had made on Highway 90, the main road running through Pace. Since there had been a DUI fatality on the same highway but farther into Pensacola over the weekend, I was all ears. It turns out this incident occurred well east of here but since we're often on that road I was reminded of just how never know when the guy operating the car next to you is impaired.
But this wasn't just any ol' DUI. The driver was just 15 and didn't have a license yet. One might argue his weaving vehicle was the result of his lack of training and experience until the newscaster gave his blood alcohol. A .18. That's more than twice the limit for an adult and nine times over the limit for someone under 21. And he's 15...I still can't get over that.
Why was this 15-year-old unlicensed drunk driving a vehicle? Because the adult who was with him was even more drunk and recruited the young man as his chauffeur. The news report didn't say where they were going but I could speculate that it might have been to replenish the cooler and continue their party. Well...except that the adult (and I use that term loosely) in the passenger seat was wearing only his underwear. It must have been quite the celebration.
Fortunately, there wasn't an accident. Other drivers who witnessed the erratic driving had called law enforcement and a deputy was on the scene within minutes to stop the vehicle and make the arrests.
When the news went on to the next story to be reported, I was left shaking my head, wondering who in their right mind makes enough alcohol available to a 15-year-old that he would be so intoxicated and who would ask them to drive under those circumstances. Yes, I know...drunks don't always reason very well but still... The rule-follower in me just finds that unimaginable.
And then I flipped open the paper to find almost the identical situation had occurred in South Dakota with a 14-year-old driving drunk with his intoxicated father in the passenger seat. Apparently there's an epidemic of poor role-modeling going on. And here I thought texting was the big concern with teens behind the wheel. Shows what I know.
Saturday was National Geocaching Day. It's OK; I wouldn't have known that either if I wasn't married to a geocacher. It's not exactly a day on Hallmark's radar, is it...at least not yet. My favorite cacher went out early before it got hot to gather in a few finds and earn a special special badge for participating in National Geocaching Day 2012.
The caches he located today were just run-of-the-mill hides, not like the one he was telling me about the other day. That one was a Travel Bug, a cache hidden with the idea that the next person to find it will move it to a new location. In putting the Travel Bug out, the owner states a goal for it...like reaching a given destination and coming home again and it has a number assigned to it so the owner and anyone else for that matter can see where it's been and who moved it there. We frequently have Travel Bugs with us when we hit the road with Wayne looking for a cache big enough and active enough to leave it for its next leg of the journey.
This particular Travel Bug was called Uncle Elwyn. Well....it really was Uncle Elwyn, not just a title dreamed up by the owner. The cache, in this case, was a mason jar that contained the ashes of the owner's Uncle Elwyn. The goal was to get Uncle Elwyn to all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. He'd been there before when he was all in one piece and could chose for himself what part of each of those fifty he could visit; now his nephew was calling on the generosity of strangers to let him make a farewell lap around the good ol' U.S.ofA.
Getting him to each state was just the start, however; a portion of Uncle Elwyn was to be left there. And to be sure that there was enough of Uncle Elwyn to go around, cachers were asked to use the small spoon provided with the jar. Those cachers...they think of everything.
Uncle Elwyn has been on the road for ten years now and he only has four states (Alaska, Hawaii, Georgia and Delaware) plus D.C. to go. I suppose time isn't an issue at this point for Uncle Elwyn but I wonder how TSA will feel about him hitching a ride on an airplane to get to Hawaii. Maybe he'll be snugly packed in a suitcase for that excursion.
I didn't know Uncle Elwyn but I'll bet he's enjoying this from wherever he's watching. Apparently he was an outdoorsman and had asked that his remains be scattered in the wilderness. I can relate; I've already told Wayne to scatter my ashes in some of the pretty places we've been.You know, a little here and a little there, a farewell tour, of sorts. Assuming, of course, that he's around to do the scattering. I don't think I want to be part of a cache, however.
Those who've left a piece of Uncle Elwyn in a new state probably thought it was a clever cache...and it is. And those who were creeped out by the idea probably skipped that opportunity. There's a quote...something about never leaving a person or place you love because you always leave a piece of yourself behind. For Uncle Elwyn that would be true...literally.
If you're interested, you can read the details about Uncle Elwyn here.
We're almost six months into our do-it-yourself experiment in lawn care. Oh, not the mowing, edging and trimming part...that's always been in our personal job jars. I'm talking about the fertilizing and pesticiding part. When the bill arrived for service for 2012, we said no thanks, we'll do it ourselves. And we have...quite successfully, I might add.
Our decision was motivated in part by how mediocre the yard has looked the last few years. It's not that we were expecting the lawn to be the envy of the neighborhood; we just didn't want bare patches and weeds. Sadder still, we were paying a lot of money for it to look like that too.
Not this year though. The grass is lusher and fuller than it's been in years. And while it could be that the top dressing we did last year is finally paying off or the fact that it has rained almost every day is responsible, it just might be the sweet nothings I'm whispering to the blades as I walk up and down the lawn pushing the fertilizer spreader. My rows may not be straight and even like the lawn professionals but by golly, my end result is better...lots of green grass.
And cheaper too. We're on track to spend less than half what would would have paid if we'd renewed the contract again. Of course, we're not paying ourselves for our time either but it doesn't take all that long to spread a few bags of fertilizer.
Ever week when we finish mowing, I'll say to Wayne Gosh, the yard sure looks good. I've done it so much that before I can get the words out of my mouth now, he'll say I know, the yard sure looks good. No matter who's saying it, it's still true. We've got grass...and I love it.
Four-thirty came awfully early yesterday morning but that was what time I needed to be up to be at my day-job by 6am. Four-thirty? Day-job? Yep, you read that right. But in this case my job really was for only a day although at 4:30am I was questioning whether even that was too much. I served as a poll worker at yesterday's primary election.
It's something I've talked about doing for several years and just never got organized enough to get the paperwork in at the right time to do it. Here, as I suspect is the case in most every place, they're always looking for poll workers and after listening to my friend Durlene talk about how much she enjoyed working the elections when she was employed in county government, I got my act together to do it this time. I figured the primary was a good place to start since turn-out is lighter.
Although the day was long (6am to almost 8pm), it was both interesting and enjoyable. I might have guessed about some of the things that went on behind the scenes but that's what it would have been...a guess. Now I know how many controls there are on the ballots to be sure they're all accounted for and handled properly. And the efforts to be sure that the people wanting to vote are who they say they are and that they get to vote but in the proper polling place. It was an education to be sure but probably one more citizens should have.
My job was Inspector. I was one of six seated at a table, each with a section of the list of voters registered in our precinct. When the voter arrived, I was to inspect their identification documents and signature to be sure they were who they said they were then give them a ballot, either Republican, Democrat or Non-Partisan. Florida requires voters to present a photo and signature ID and since both are on the Florida's drivers license, that's what most people use. Since I was new, I was seated between two experienced Inspectors who were able to answer any questions that came up, mostly about when names or addresses didn't match between the voter rolls and the IDs presented. Most of those got to vote, even if they had to drive to another precinct; only a few were instructed to re-register so they would be eligible in November.
It might sound boring but it wasn't. First of all, I got a chance to see a lot of my neighbors since it was my home precinct where I was serving. And there were a few "you've got to be kidding" moments, like when the lady came back 15 minutes after voting and wanted her ballot back so she could change her vote. I'm not sure how she expected us to know which one would be hers but needless to say, that didn't happen. Or the woman who turned around from the voting booth to tell us she didn't know the candidates in a particular race so she was Googling them on her smartphone. Apparently the large sign at the door asking voters to turn off their cellphones needed bells and whistles to get her attention.
One of the most exciting events of the day involved the tabulating machine. We're not like those folks in South Florida with their hanging chads; we mark ballots which go through a scanner to be counted and then drop down into a large bin underneath where they wait until all voting is completed. The voter feeds his ballot into the slot then watches the screen for a message that says the ballot was accepted. Occasionally, it rejects one...like if you voted for two people in the same race or put marks on the ballot somewhere other than in the little circle but generally it operates pretty smoothly.
On this occasion, however, the message on the screen read that the ballot was counted but not in the bin. The Clerk (who's in charge of the voting operations at the precinct), her assistant, and the tabulator (who's in charge of the scanning machine) were all in a panic; they'd never seen this message. There were no instructions in the manual for such an event. Clearly, it was time for quick call to the Supervisor of Elections Office. The answer? Give the machine a sharp whack on the back of the bin. The Deputy Clerk gave it a kick and the ballot must have finished it's path because the screen changed to display the accepted message. Hey, if it works when your candy bar hangs up in a vending machines, why not a ballot counter.
The polls closed at 7pm and we set to work immediately breaking down the voting booths, sorting the ballots by type and counting to be certain all the numbers balanced. It was right the first time and we were out of there by 7:50pm. While I wasn't a fan of the 4:30am part, I did enjoy the experience. I plan to be inspecting again in November. Things should be very interesting then.
Let's start the week off with a laugh:
A married couple in their early 60s were out celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in a quiet, romantic little restaurant. Suddenly, a tiny yet beautiful fairy appeared on their table and said, "For being such an exemplary married couple and for being faithful to each other for all this time, I will grant you each a wish."
"Ooh, I want to travel around the world with my darling husband" said the wife. The fairy moved her magic stick and ' abracadabra! ' two tickets for the new Queen Mary 2 luxury liner appeared in her hands.
Now it was the husbands turn. He thought for a moment and said: "Well this is all very romantic, but an opportunity like this only occurs once in a lifetime, so, I'm sorry my love, but my wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than me".
The wife, and the fairy, were deeply disappointed, but a wish is a wish... So the fairy made a circle with her magic stick and - abracadabra! the husband became 92 years old......
There are lots of good things about living on a golf course. Like how you don't have to worry about getting caught in traffic on the way to your tee time or how you don't have to wait for golf coverage on the television in order to see shots curling onto the green...they're right out the back door. There's the occasional downside but mostly having all the green grass that someone else mows just beyond the edge of our yard is a good thing. It is indeed a nice place to live.
And apparently the word of just how nice it is has spread for the neighborhood has a new resident. Well, not the neighborhood exactly...more like the golf course itself. As in a three-foot alligator.
Alligators on golf courses aren't that unusual, especially in Florida, but we've never had one before. In fact, sitings of any alligators in this immediate area are pretty rare. Years ago they caught a big one down on the highway that runs from Pensacola to Milton but that's right at the mouth of the Escambia River. It's marshy with lots of little bayous off the river...just the kind of place you'd expect to see alligators. We're three or four miles inland from there.
We have, however, had lots of rain lately. We'd love to share some of our 7+ inches of year-to-date surplus with some of those who are in dire need of it if we could...I just haven't figured out how to email rain clouds. So the theory is that with all this rain, young Mr. Alligator made his way from upstream Escambia River and down Beal Creek, a small waterway that meanders through part of the golf course. In fact, the creek enters the golf course property at Hole No. 6 and that's just where the golfers spotted him the other day.
In golf terms creeks, lakes and the like are termed hazards and there are special rules that govern what you can and cannot do if you hit into them. Used to be that snakes were the concern when you hit into the ditch on No. 6; with an alligator, now it really is a hazard!
I haven't lost my mind; I have a tape back-up somewhere. Anon
I've written before about our cognitive abilities being tested as part of our application for long-term care insurance. You remember...those ten words that have nothing to do with one another but we had to keep repeating them at unexpected times during the interview? For the record, I still know those words...well, all except the tenth one I didn't know when I wrote that post and haven't remembered since. Obviously, buzzed in one ear and out the other, never latching on to a brain cell in between.
The results are in: We passed. I was a little surprised when the agent told us they one out of every two or three applications but then I don't have any experience with the pool of people who are applying for that type of insurance. Maybe half of them have one foot in the nursing home door.
It's nice to have proof that our cognitive abilities are in tact. Think about it: We'd all like to believe we're still mentally sharp but how many of us have proof? When you walk into a room and forget what it was you went there to get, you might question if those brain cells had quit communicating with one another. Not so at our house; some higher authority has pronounced our brain cells cognitively fit.
And that's the standing joke in our house these days whenever we do something we didn't intend or forget to do something we meant to do. We're not losing it...we have proof.
When the phone rang today, I was happy to hear my dad's voice on the other end after I answered. It wasn't just that I was glad to talk with him and catch up with what's going on in his corner of the world; it was that there was a real live human being on the line with me. That seemed to be a rarity today, although I can't say that today was much different than most lately.
Part of it is that our primary elections are next Tuesday so there are plenty of phone calls urging us to vote for this candidate or that one, all of which are pre-recorded messages. Just as well...a real person would be wasting their breath since we took advantage of early voting and have already cast our ballots. And don't get me started on the obnoxious political call we receive over and over again that starts out Tired of getting your ASSets taxed of? I'd vote for that candidate's opponent just because I can't stand the message but that would require that I listen to enough of it to determine just who it's promoting. That won't be happening.
But that was just one of the automated calls we received today. There was one to remind Wayne of his doctor's appointment on Friday. Press 1 to confirm your appointment. And there was some sales-based call; I suppose a real person would have come on the line once the initial spiel was over but I didn't hang around to find out. Let's don't forget the two calls where no one was there to respond to my cheery Hello. The computer dials but doesn't talk, and the human who doesn't dial was busy with some other victim prospect.
As frustrating as these are, they don't compare to the call Wayne received a few days ago. It was from the insurance company that carries his drug coverage and they wanted to know why he had stopped taking one of his prescriptions. Only problem is...he hasn't; that pill goes down his throat once a day just like always. It isn't a pricey drug, just his $4 co-pay, so apparently Walmart doesn't file anything with the insurance company anymore since they aren't entitled to any additional sums. Try explaining that to a recording.
Did you stop taking the drug because of its cost? Did the condition for which you were taking the drug improve and you no longer need the medicine? Did you have an adverse reaction to the medication? There were plenty of questions on the recorded message to which you punched in a key on the phone to answer yes or no but none to say you've got it all wrong. I could hear the frustration in his voice as he muttered that he was still taking the medication but it was all in vain; there was no way to leave a message and no option to reach a real person. I understand the economics behind these automated calls, really I do. But that doesn't make me like them any better.
Someone said that if e-mail had been around before the telephone was invented, people would have said Hey, forget e-mail...with this new telephone invention we can actually talk to people. Little did he know how wrong that was. More often than not, we can only talk to machines.
We were sitting at the table today, enjoying a break from cleaning house to chow down on a little lunch that included more of those delicious cherries. I sit on the side of the table that faces the backyard and the golf course beyond it and my eyes frequently wander there, watching the golfers going by or the mockingbirds chasing the spittle bugs that have appeared in the grass. But today there wasn't much going on thanks to a mid-morning shower.
I think it was the movement that caught my attention, although it was just a blur at first. My first thought was that it was one of the dogs of a neighbor down the way who often uses a racket to hit tennis balls down the fairway for the dogs to retrieve. She's really not supposed to, even if there isn't much play on the course, but she does. What it looked like was a dog scrambling for the ball and almost over-running it and ending up in a somersault. Then I thought...the neighbor doesn't have a dog that color. I think that's a fox! I said to Wayne and we hurried to the sliding door.
Sure enough it was; we could see his bushy tail and long nose. He was standing at that point but clearly holding something down with his front paws. And he kept looking around. I thought he might have been waiting for a second fox, either a mate or an offspring, to appear but none did. Wayne thought he'd caught a bird because we kept seeing mockingbirds dive at him but I think they just recognized him as a predator. He was on the far side of the fairway, probably 100 yards from us so it was hard to see just what he did have.
Then he picked up his prey and started trotting directly toward us...and we knew. He'd caught a squirrel. That's pretty impressive when you think about it, catching one out in the open like that. Obviously what had looked like a somersault was him changing directions to run it down. The squirrel must have zigged when he should have zagged and the fox emerged victorious...and with dinner. Off he jogged toward the woods beyond the No. 5 tee.
We don't see many foxes on this side of the neighborhood. In fact, we haven't seen nearly as many foxes anywhere in the neighborhood like we did last year, although I have seen a pair of them around No. 18 green as I'm finishing up my walk at dusk a couple of recent evenings.
I was tempted to run out and yell Way to go! at him. Not only did I appreciate his hunting skills, I loved the fact that his target was exactly the animal I'm trying to eliminate. But I figured such an enthusiastic display would probably frighten him and I'm hoping he'll come back. Not only do I welcome all the help I can get in ridding the area of squirrels but it's nice to have a little entertainment with lunch once in a while.
The last two Thursdays have been filled with windshield-time, me a week ago and both of us this past one. And both were for the same purpose: Time behind a different type of glass...a camera lens. I'm trying to give Kayla plenty of choices for the casual version of a senior picture for her yearbook. This trip we brought Kayla home with us for both some family time and some different backdrops for those pictures. We hit a few spots in Pensacola and then headed for the beach.
The first stop was this enormous live oak tree adjacent to the city tennis courts. The huge low limbs offer lots of possibilities and you frequently see bridal shoots in progress when you drive by. Kayla gave a thumbs-up to this particular shot.
Grandpa, however, preferred this one of her perched up on one of those limbs. She looks relaxed and natural in this photo.
After a couple of other stops, we headed for the beach. This shot taken under the pier is kind of fun but probably not senior pictures material. I do love the interest the pilings on the pier add to the photo.
It was more of a challenge to get a great photo at the beach because of the glare. Although it doesn't look like it in this shot, there was quite a bit of cloud cover. In fact, we were worried about an afternoon thunderstorm cutting our session short...we have those almost daily this time of year. Fortunately, the sprinkles held off until we were almost done. This picture has possibilities but it might be better if the big sea oat behind her disappeared.
I tend to like the full-shade shots better because more of the eyes show up but there isn't much full shade at the beach. This one is pretty good under the circumstances.
There is, however, shade at Ft. Pickens so we took some there. While I like this photo, I already know Kayla's opinion. She says her smile is forced because she was worrying about ants biting her feet. They.were.everywhere. Had I known, I'd have carried a can of ant spray and treated the area where she needed to stand.
She looks very relaxed and Kayla-like in this pose on the beach at Ft. Pickens. Again, it's cute but probably not senior picture worthy.
Of all that we took on Friday, this might be my favorite and it's one of Grandpa's too. Does it beat out some we took in the first session? I'm not sure but it's a contender.
Just a quick drive-by to say I'm here but I'm busy being part-time photographer and full-time grandmother.
And I couldn't enjoy it more. See you soon with some more of my pretty girl.
At the risk of sounding like a commercial for Coca-Cola, I'm going to talk about Coke Rewards again because there's a deal too good not to share. Had I known, I could have combined the two into one post.
It's a new month, and sometimes that means new rewards. In this case, the new offer is a free 8x8 photobook from Shutterfly. Yes, that's right...FREE!
So how much Coke do you need to drink? Less than a six-pack. Wait...I don't think they even sell six-packs any more but still, it's not like you need to guzzle a lot of soda in order to take advantage of this offer. You'll need just five of the codes found in the caps or cardboard cartons of Coke products. Heck, you're getting a $29.95 photo book for free...you can invite four friends to join you for a soft drink, your treat, and still be money ahead. Don't like Coke? Sprite, Powerade, even Nestea have the code.
Once you've got your five codes, just click on the "Enter Five Codes Now" button on the Coke Reward home page. There are rotating special offers there in the left center of the screen and the photo book is on Page 4 if you'd rather jump right to it. You'll need to create an account if you don't have one already and you simply follow the on-screen instructions.
Summer is coming to an end...maybe you have vacation photos just waiting for a fun little book. Or perhaps this will be just the push you need to check one of those hard-to-buy-for people off your Christmas list with a photo book. I can think of a hundred possibilities, including a certain pretty young lady's senior photos. Shutterfly has made the process so simple anyone can do it so don't let that hold you back...and you have until September 27 to complete your book so there's plenty of time to do it right.
But time to get the offer? Maybe not so much. The offer runs for the month of August but I don't know if there are limits on the number of books they'll make available. It could be they've set a maximum number and when it's reached, they'll withdraw the offer even if we haven't reached August 31 yet. So get cracking...or maybe more accurately, get drinking. You have Coke codes to rack up...your free photo book awaits.
We're Coke drinkers here at the homestead...one look in the refrigerator proves that. Yes, we have food; it's in the big refrigerator in the kitchen. This is the extra one in the utility room. It's the home for the turkey at Thanksgiving, all the overflow groceries at Christmas and anything else that there isn't room in the main fridge...but mostly it holds Cokes. Since Cokes have been on sale at the convenience store just outside the neighborhood, there's an abundance of the bubbly sodas living in the back refrigerator right now.
And because we drink all those Cokes, we participate in Coke Rewards. If you're not familiar with the program, each lid or package of Coke products has a numeric code you into their website to earn points you can redeem for other products. It's simple really. Over the years we've redeemed our points for a variety of things...a pink football for Kayla, some golf balls, a cordless drill and even a small flat-screen television. That was a bit of a rare find but still...there's a wide range of ways to spend your points.
Recently some gift cards to Bass Pro Shop showed up in the Rewards Catalog. There are gift cards out there from time to time but they usually disappear fast so my rapid-clicking better half snagged one for us. He'd have gotten more but one was the limit.
The e-mail arrived, telling us that the gift card had shipped. It's coming via U. S. Postal Service. The estimated delivery date? A whopping 15-20 business day. Really? Let's resurrect the Pony Express...it would be faster.