Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring is Birthday Time for most of our family.  I turn 53 on April 20th, David turns 23 on April 24th, and Robert turns 26 on May 12th.  My Big Sweetie Mark will be 54 in October.  For the six months following his birthday, I get to razz him on how very very old he is until my birthday comes around and I catch up once again. 

Robert moved home for a year and a half to go to law school, but decided he needed his own place, got a bigger loan and moved out.  We are good with that.  Robert is producing.  He has a goal, goes to school, works in summer.  Mark and I have worked so hard to be "fair" that we've enabled our younger son to become lazy.  Wish we realized this a few years ago!

Our younger son David went to college, dropped out. Had a great job, got fired.  He has been attending tech school for 18 months, has worked only a couple of months out of the year.  The computer classes he is taking should be completed in around 18 months, but he isn't finished because he rarely goes five days in a week, and when he does, he arrives late and leaves early.  David  stays up all night and sleeps all day.  He ignores Mark and me and hides out in his bedroom.  We are tired of this and have dropped the work bomb in his lap.  He's very angry, and for good reason!  We pay for his car insurance, health insurance, dental bills, prescriptions, cell phone, and we feed him.  He does his own laundry with my detergent in my washer and dryer.  Why wouldn't he want to stay forever?!!  We are crimping his style!

Here's the arrangement Mark and I presented him with:
April 11th - have a full time job by this date, two weeks is plenty of time to find something/anything.
May 1st - all bills are his to pay.  Save what's left for deposits when he moves into an apartment.
July 31st - move out day.

We told David about this on Saturday morning.  He was mad because I woke him up at 9:30.  (It's not unusual for him to sleep until 3PM.)  This week is Spring Break from school.  He hasn't gone job hunting and it's Tuesday afternoon.  David blames me for the new rules and is acting childish, won't talk to me, put "a NICE mother" on my grocery list. I'm not saying anything else.

I want to cut off the internet and the cable TV.  Mark is resistant.  He's the one that's allowed David to get to this point.  I may just go ahead and do it anyway. I can take my laptop to a neighbor's house, McDonalds, or the library if I need to go online.  I don't care if the TV is on or off.  We should have done this a long time ago.  What are your thoughts?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Potting Pretty Pepper Plants

Last month Mark brought home some of the most delicious yellow, orange, and red bell peppers ever!  They were so good, that I saved the seeds from all six peppers.  Will my home grown peppers taste as good?  A few days later I poured most of the dried seeds into a big pot of fresh soil, stirred them into the top inch of soil and covered with plastic wrap, a homemade greenhouse.  They sprouted so quickly and look so healthy!  I bought a new bag of soil especially for vegetables, and today I repotted all those little plants into individual 2-ounce paper dixie cups.  First I poked a hole in the bottom of each cup.   After I filled a bunch of cups with soil, I added a seedling.  I filled five boxes and a table full of lovely little bell pepper plants, 282 plants total.  What a surprise that every seed I planted sprouted!  I'll share these with everone I know, and think I should bring a batch to the family reunion next month too!    Do you like bell peppers?
  Info: From seed to maturity: 75-100 days. Germinated March 1, should begin to produce in mid-May. Peppers turn from green to light yellow and then a golden yellow, OR green to orange OR green to red when mature. (I mixed the seeds from three varieties before planting, so it’s a surprise!) They’re edible green, but sweeten as they mature in color. Transplant into 5 gallon well drained containers. I suggest using soil for vegetable growth. A 20-quart bag of Lowe’s “Kellogg Patio Plus Natural” organic soil is about $3. Water weekly, keeping soil moist, but not soggy. Plants should grow to 16-20” tall. Tie to stakes. When your pepper is first growing, it needs a fair amount of blood meal (nitrogen), but once it starts producing flowers, it needs bone meal (phosphorus), using half-strength every other week. Peppers are related to tomatoes and have similar growing requirements, so an organic tomato fertilizer should work fine. Peppers thrive in plenty of light and warmth, but burn easily, so eastern sun may be best.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"A Comedy of Errors" or "Tour Escort Hell"

I work for three companies as a tour escort to high school bands and choral groups that come to Orlando for theme parks and competition throughout the spring break season. My first spring break group of the season was last weekend. They were supposed to spend last Friday at Busch Gardens in Tampa, then leave at 6, arriving in Orlando at 7:45. I was at home when I got a 4 pm call, "We're on the road!"  (not "we're leaving the park!") My group was tired of getting rained on and decided to head out early. I was going to leave at 4:30, but instead jumped into my work clothes and hit the road within seconds! It's a 45 minute  drive to the Universal Studios area from my house without Friday traffic and rain. I was on the road for an hour and a half, averaging 15mph on the expressway. I met two busloads of high school band  students at the hotel just as I arrived. The director, his wife, the chaperones, and the 60 kids were all great! They spent two days in Universal Studios parks, competed and won top honors, saw Aretha Franklin and Blue Man Group, and went to Arabian Nights dinner theater (my fav of the many).

This was the most error-riddled event I have ever hosted!!
  1. The hotel they were reserved months ago closed for renovations, so they were moved to Rosen Plaza. I called Plaza on my drive down Friday and they "had no reservations for this school group." (see #2) WHAT?!!  A heart attack and some fancy footwork later, they announced that Rosen Plaza didn't have room, so without telling the company I work for that organized this trip, Rosen Plaza moved our group to Rosen Center.  It's just a few blocks away, but 65 parents had all the info for Plaza.
  2. I need to be at the hotel at least an hour advance to make sure all the rooms, details, etc. are handled and make adjustments, if any. I didn't get this as the director didn't call me until they were already on the road a while.
  3. Rosen Center said the busses could unload at the front. They moved them to the far end of the building, a long hike from elevators. (see #2)
  4. Rosen Center put the boys in odd numbered rooms, girls in even. This means that they were across the hall from each other. You put high school boys at one end of the hall, the girls at the other! (see #2)
  5. My request for a 6 am wakeup call never came to fruition. They lost ten minutes of morning time.
  6. Our pre-arranged 6:30 breakfast buffet wasn't ready until 6:45.
  7. Leaving the hotel at 7 was delayed by fifteen minutes. (see #6)
  8. Competition location was 1/2 hour away. We were going to be late! The bus driver wanted "no toll roads" and so we had to take the long route. When we got to the turn, I said to the driver, "Turn right immediately after Home Depot." She didn't turn. "You missed the turn, take the next road." She missed that turn too. We had to go down the road, turn around, make a u-turn on the highway (2 big busses!), and try again. We were late, but their performances were amazing! The director was a retired Army band director, wow.
  9. I looked forward to seeing Aretha Franklin for the first time. Her performance was immediately after Universal Studios closed, which was when I had to take the senior class to see Blue Man. Nobody was there to stamp my hand for re-entry, so I was out of luck. Instead, I went into Blue Man with my group, enjoyed the show for the hundredth time. It was great as usual, but still...Aretha! *sigh* Toward the end of Blue Man, a call came in that sat my director straight up, and he rushed out of the theater. One of the freshmen boys was caught shoplifting in City Walk! Director finished watching the show and then we handled the delimma at hand afterwards.
  10. Students spend the day at Universal's Islands of Adventure, sans the boy that got in trouble, as he is banned from the park for a year. A chaperone had to stay at the hotel with him all day. I met them after a great day and rode over to see Arabian Nights dinner show with them. We were sent in for a group photo, then sent into a holding area and told to wait there. Ten minutes later, nobody came to seat us. I asked at just before showtime and our forgotten group were seated quickly as the lights went down.
  11. My alarm clock was set for 5:30 am., but on the last morning of my group, it failed to buzz! (Clock has since been replaced!) My planned 7 am arrival (coincides with their wakeup call) was delayed by a half hour. It's a good thing I'm naturally an early riser.
Even after all that, I love being a tour escort.  But was it me? After 5+ years of tour guiding, I certcertainly should know not to believe/trust anybody, lest they make me look like a bumbling unprepared escort!  The director and I kept laughing and shaking our heads, saying after each problem, "This HAS to be the final bump!" Thankfully he was soothed by my calm demeaner and said that he'd definately request me for his school trip next spring.  Oh job security!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Made In USA

This article was sent to me from my sister Patty, who rarely forwards email. It's well worth a 'copy and paste' into emails and into your own web blog. I had just bought ZipLoc brand baggies and checked the box. No "made in" on it, but instead "packaged in". Ziploc is owned by the Johnson Company, whose did a  tap dance of  'packaged in', but never mentioned where their baggies are made, which leads me to the conclusion that it was not in my now struggling country.  Maybe the baggies were made in the United States, but if a company is not proud enough to announce MADE IN USA, I am not going to buy!
Marty Wise Watson, Made in the USA

One Light Bulb at a Time

A physics teacher in high school once told the students that while one grasshopper on the railroad tracks wouldn't slow a train very much, a billion of them would. With that thought in mind, read the following, obviously written by a good American... Good idea... one light bulb at a time...

Check this out. I can verify this because I was in Lowes the other day and looked at the hose attachments. They were all made in China. The next day I was in Ace Hardware and I checked the hose attachments there. They were made in USA. Start looking.....

In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else - even their job. So, after reading this post, I think this lady is on the right track. Let's get behind her!

My grandson likes Hershey's candy. I noticed, though, that it is marked Made in Mexico now. I do not buy it any more.

My favorite toothpaste Colgate is made in Mexico ... now I have switched to Crest. You have to read the labels on everything...

This past weekend I was at Kroger. I needed light bulbs and Bounce dryer sheets. I was in the light bulb aisle, and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off-brand labeled, "Everyday Value." I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats - they were the same except for the price.

The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made in - get ready for this - the USA in a company in Cleveland, Ohio.

So throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that are made right here.

On to another aisle - Bounce Dryer Sheets... yep, you guessed it, Bounce cost more money and is made in Canada. The Everyday Value brand was less money and MADE IN THE USA! I did laundry yesterday and the dryer sheets performed just like the Bounce Free I have been using for years and at almost half the price!

My challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in the USA - the job you save may be your own or your neighbors!

If you accept the challenge, pass this on to others in your address book so we can all start buying American, one light bulb at a time! Stop buying from overseas companies!

(We should have awakened a decade ago!)

Let's get with the program... help Americans keep their jobs and create more jobs here in the USA!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Amazing IKEA Maze

Mark and I went to IKEA yesterday to buy furniture for Robert's empty room, now my sewing and guest room.  If you've never been in IKEA, it's an experience. There is a childcare area, complete with buzzing light up mommy notifier if baby needs a parent. Up the elevator everyone goes to start shopping!  Bring comfortable shoes, because you can't just run in for the items you plan to pick up, instead you follow a flow chart, big arrows on the floor and all.  First you walk through the couch and chair department, then office setups, kitchens, dining, bedrooms, etc.  Once you've run the maze, you can go downstairs for gadgets and doo-dads (I bought a new silverware drawer tray, a coffee scoop, and a chocolate bar). 

We originally went in to look at trundle beds, but chose instead to get a sofa bed - a couch-sized cross between a futon and a click-clack couch.  It has a five-inch thick firm foam mattress, and unlike a futon, this feels nice to lay on.  I plan to purchase a mattress pad and pillow cases that will accent the pretty mural on the wall behind the sofa.  Total price $237 plus about $15 tax.

Here are the links to the items we purchased:
Ransta sofa bed in dark gray with two pillows $200
LACK side table in brown/black $8
Uplight floor lamp $7
A paper lantern table lamp $10
Two bed pillows $1.00 each (I got these are for decoration and not to sleep on)

While we were there, we had dinner, $1 for ten Sweedish meatballs in sauce, mashed potatoes, and a taste of lingonberry preserves. Mark paid a dollar for five additional meatballs and a dollar for a bottle of water.  He couldn't pass up a big slice of apple pie, $2.  Six bucks for two delicious meals!

I love visiting IKEA and want to go back to buy some sort of artwork or maybe material to stretch on the opposite wall of the guest room for decoration.  There are also some ambient lamps I would like to look at, but Mark was anxious to go.  Next time, I'll arrive earlier and leave Mark behind!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

All Things Dog Blog

Juliet and I met the creator/writer of the All Things Dog blog at the Apopka dog park yesterday.  It was so nice to meet Carrie and her little Papillon Oliver, and as we humans talked and talked about anything and everything, the pups had fun romping with the other dogs. Because of Juliet's petite size, we chose to meet in the field reserved for the little guys, and so Carrie left her two big dog at home.  For future visits with Carrie and all three of her dogs, we took Oliver and Juliet into the big dog park to see how my little yorkie would react, but Juliet was pretty intimidated by the curiosity and playfulness of the big boys.  I am concerned that Juliet will lose confidence if I submit her to large dogs en masse again, as she exhibited quite a bit of fear.  I didn't feel that she'd be injured, but I was worried that Juliet would get spooked and run, slipping under the gate and high-tailing across a busy road to the car, as she has done in the past.  Oliver visits often with his dog family and walked through the yard like he owned the place.  Maybe we'll give Juliet another try when there are just a few docile doggies in the big park. 
Oliver and Juliet, making friends.

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's Official! The Turkeys Have Returned!

Good Morning!  All nineteen turkeys have returned to my front yard.  I hurried out the front door and took pictures with my iPhone, sure wished my real camera was handy for this event.  It's 45F, but my socks got drenched with dew and my feet feel numb, as if it were freezing weather. I know it was wrong to follow them, but they were close enough that I could have thrown a net over them!  I just wanted a picture!  BTW, they're back in the front yard now as I type, says my Big Sweetie Mark.

Looking out my front door as they graze in the front yard.

The big guns - check out the beards on these guys!

Following them into the wooded area around the pond with my iPhone. My house is the yellow/white one on the left.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring! Snake!

Even Florida experiences Old Man Winter, this year more than ever!  Today it was 54F and I cracked a window and enjoyed fresh air. I am ready for flowers, flowers, flowers!  Thinking about the critters that will surface when the cold air departs for good, I remembered the time Mark found a snake in our house.

It was a late night bathroom visit; I heard Mark get out of bed, but he didn't turn on any lights.  He went into the adjoining bathroom and he shuffled barefoot in the dark to the toilet.  I was in a drowsy slumber until I heard a blood-curtling scream!  Mark felt a snake slither under his foot, clearly a good reason to scream like a woman! 

I lept out of bed and turned on the lights to find my 6'6" hero standing on the edge of the bathtub in wide-eyed terror.  A small 2' snake of unknown origin was coiled on the tile next to the toilet, surely equally frightened after meeting Mark's size 15 clompers.  I used a yard stick to lift the snake, and deposited it into the trash can, then covered it with a magazine.  The snake and I went to the front door and I delivered it with a toss into the waiting dewey grass.

Mark had a hard time getting to sleep that night.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Beech Mountain NC with my cousin Julie

North Carolina in the Winter was wonderful!  Cousin Julie and I arrived and grabbed the snow shovels and started digging out the stairs before we could move in.  Although it was only about 20F, I felt totally comfortable in sweat pants and a long sleeved tee shirt. (I should have worn gloves.)  Isn't it funny that I freeze in Florida?  Having Julie with me was so nice.  We enjoyed girl time, stayed in our pajamas most of one day, watched movies, and cooked at home.  We fed cereal to little squirrels on my back deck, experienced a blizzard, sunny days, lots of snow days, and pleasant cousin time.  We arrived on Sunday, my car broke on Monday. I took it to the shop and they weren't able to replace the gear box (4WD) and emergency brake until Thursday, so we spent most of our week at home.  We picked Mark up from the airport on Friday and with Mark, we went out to eat a lot, ran errands, they went snow tubing, and we visited Blowing Rock.  More snow was expected on Tuesday, so we cleaned the house and departed on Monday afternoon.  As always, it kills us to leave.  One day we'll live there.