Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I Run Daddy's Car Lot.

Georges Auto Sales
This is where I have been spending my days since my father had back surgery in late August.  Dad is 84, heavy, and very out of shape as he has had back pain for several years. Recovery has been much more lengthy than we expected. After a week in the hospital, dad went to a step down recovery hospital for a couple of weeks, and finally he was moved to a nursing home that has a physical therapy wing. He is ready to go home, but he isn't physically ready, still pretty shaky walking with a walker and prefers to lay in bed.

 I sold two vans and either two or three cars...I can't remember. I have also been to auction where I won and purchased two vans and an SUV at great prices.  My nephew George details and washes the cars.

Impalas Galore
My father likes to buy used police cars, so we have a ton of Chevy Impalas and Ford Crown Victorias, with a small few other cars...a BMW, Cadillac, Taurus and a Buick.  
More cars in the back.  There are two more rows in addition to this one.
I think there are 65 vehicles total with ten of them at different locations for paint, repair, etc.

My job is to make sure the lot runs smoothly. I greet customers, quote prices, ask for the sale, prepare sales paperwork with fees for taxes and tag and title, close, collect money, print a temporary tag, go to the bank, go downtown for the title work and tag, fill out paperwork for accountant, remove the vehicle file and place copies of sales papers, fill in ledger for auto sold, and a few more things related to paperwork. The phone rings a lot with "How much is that white Impala?" type questions. I am pretty familiar with the locations, prices, mileage, and year of each vehicle. There is a running list of repairs my mechanics need to do, Nephew/lot worker/nephew George does smaller repairs like changing batteries, replacing parts in the interior, and the hard job of detailing really awful looking cop cars to make them look amazing. I pay the bills, order parts, coordinate repairmen, lock up. I am also very aware of the environment. The car lot is in an area of town that has become pretty dangerous, so I am always looking around, locking the door to the office and being generally on guard when Mark isn't there. He has done some mechanic work, changing alternators and belts, stuff like that.

After work I might go see mom or go to the nursing home to visit dad, who claims he's in bedroom jail. He goes to a dining room for his meals and has made friends with several gentlemen. Mom, Kathie and I visit almost every day. I live only a mile and a half away, so I bring home dad's dirty clothes, wash and return the same evening.  Last night, Mark and I showed up pretty late after a cookout at a friends house with a slice of red velvet cake. It was almost 10PM. Yum yum he said.

Our middle sister, Patty had a double mastectomy for breast cancer in February, followed by chemotherapy. That's all behind her, but she has had problems battling some pretty severe infections and has spent over 40 days in hospital with these. Cancer is tough stuff, even after it's gone. She has an adorable new crop of hair, not quite an inch long and her once long and thick eyelashes are pretty short and thin, but like her hair, they will be back.

Friday, September 19, 2014

CLOTHES! I bought clothes!!

I don't shop. Ever. I pick up an item here and there, mostly at Costco. Shopping for clothes has never been an enjoyable task for me. Shopping with my sister Kat was fabulous, wonderful, and very productive. What fun to have someone else bring things to the changing room. Some things, I would have never considered, but trying them on, I was very pleased!  We tried to get each shirt to go with 3 pairs of pants.  These shown are the new clothes. There are black, butterscotch, tan and turquoise slacks and 14 shirts (the orange jacket, shirt and scarf are attached together).  I also have somewhat new dk blue jeans and white slacks in the closet, plus I have other shirts, jewelry and scarves that will go nicely (like the turquoise one). I am not listing photos in favorite order. I can't decide which I like most! I forgot to match some of the shirts with the turquoise slacks as I am wearing them now!


jeans with new pink shirt

Saturday, September 6, 2014


As Rin-Tin-Tin, high on a rock in NC.
I stuck her up there, above my head, took off her leash and said 'stay". I think she was too scared to move!  I didn't realize she was standing so pretty until I saw the photo.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Back Yards

My husband and I have never had backyard neighbors. Until now.

Growing up in Clearwater, Florida, my husband had a pasture behind his house.  I don't think a cow ever set foot on it, but there it was, complete with barn, the perfect hideaway for sly adolescent boys to sneak off and try out cigars and chewing tobacco, then throw up behind the building.  I am glad Mark had a negative experience; it saved him from a lifetime of smoking.

In my Jacksonville, Florida childhood home, there was a house behind ours, but it wasn't visible with thick foliage from our orange trees, and then a tall hedge of Japanese Ewe on their side. Hiding inside was a plethora of paper wasp nests, occupants with evil stingers waiting patiently for me to climb the chain-link fence, a short cut to a friend on the next road. If I was in my swim suit, I could run and leap into our backyard pool, holding my breath long enough for the wasps to give up and go home. They attack in droves. I never knew the people that lived there and I don't think they liked fence-climbing kids.

Our first home was tiny, smaller than most apartments, close to Clearwater in Pinellas Park, Florida.  It was small, but it was ours!  We had a huge 200 foot deep back yard. Beyond that was an unused service road that was once used for trash pickup and and tall with weeds and trees. There was man that lived in a house at the front of his equally long back yard. Standing at our patio door in the dining area of our eat-in kitchen, we couldn't see past our own backyard.  That was not a bona fide backyard neighbor, wouldn't you think?

We relocated to Jacksonville and purchased our second home, double the size of our first, had a big cow pasture.  It was visible from the breakfast nook and the french doors in the great room. The sun worn old owner, Mr. Williams, would ride the fences, thin and wiry as a cowboy should be. He'd tip his hat if I was in our back yard and let me know when he planned to plant rye, let the "girls" out, and warn me of the big bulls during breeding season. Our son was a toddler and the fear of him getting into the pasture was real.

Mark was transferred to Central Florida, and we chose a home in the City of Apopka. Three thousand square feet was almost twice the size of the Jacksonville house and had dozens of kitchen cabinets and wondrous multiple drawers. Looking out the kitchen window, was a screened in pool, and beyond that, the wooded forest of the Wekiva State Park. The same view was from our formal living room and master bedroom.  Our oldest son was lucky, he didn't have to look past the screened pool area.  The only neighbors there were bunnies and turkeys, deer and bears.  Sometimes we'd enjoy a covey of quail, slipping in and out of the bushes for cover, or a small red fox, beady eyes worried for his safety. There was no concern where I was concerned. I adored those special foxy sightings. We used to slip through the barbed wire fence for a hike through the blackjack pines, sandy forest floor covered with long needles. It was so exciting to find giant bear prints in the sand, as big as a dinner plate, and next to those, delicate slices from deer hooves.  Exciting and scary.  What was lurking behind the next big granddaddy oak?

Children grown and gone and my parents aging, we returned to my hometown of Jacksonville, where we bought a smaller house, 1320 square feet of well-appointed space.  It doesn't feel small, until you check out the kitchen cabinets of our eat-in kitchen. "Eat-in" means it is big enough to walk around comfortably and there is room for a cafe table and two chairs. There are two kitchen drawers and eight cabinets.  We added more in the garage for storage.  Our patio door looks out to a nice back yard with lots of tall trees. We have a big deck and tall stockade fence.  What is beyond our back fence?  Interstate 295.  That's right! A busy eight-lane highway.

We have gone from a lifetime of no backyard neighbors to sharing our backyard with everyone in the entire city.  When cars drive by, it sounds like ocean waves. The motorcycles are another story. They're really loud like jet skis.  I lay in bed at night and pray for the navy guys, headed back to the base  in a big hury after the bars close at 2 AM. Those boys have mothers!  They say that there will soon be a giant cement silencer wall. I have plans to paint mine with a forest scene.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Cocoa Beach Week and the Orange Blossom Song

Mark and I just returned home to Jacksonville after a wonderful week at our timeshare in Cocoa Beach.  "Timeshare" sounds so cheesy, but it's actually a really nice place to have a guaranteed vacation every year. We own week #21, a 1-bedroom suite that is actually made from two hotel rooms. It has a bedroom with two queen beds, a living room with pull out queen couch/bed, two bathrooms, a big closet, and a closet sized kitchen, equipped with everything anyone might need. In exchange for a reasonable annual maintenance fee, this one week a year belongs to us and usually includes Memorial Day. Our sons and their wives come for the weekends, filled with pool time, adult drinks, boogie boarding in the ocean, and after bbq, we enjoyed playing beer pong and also Robert's guitar talent and he sings so well too. His wife Vanessa and he have some nice duets - Virginia Bluebell is one of my favorites. Sadly, David and Amanda could only come the first weekend. The whole week is left for relaxing and sunning and enjoying pretty Florida. I looked at pictures of the beach but they look like every other beach pic you've ever seen, so I will save you from one more.

Today I woke up singing a Florida song that every little Floridian should have learned in elementary school, except me, who had Irish nuns that weren't familiar. Lo and behold, my friend Cathy Kersten, who taught this song to me a few years ago, had posted it in Facebook.  Cathy makes me happy!  you can search youtube  for a guy singing it (the introduction is long), but below are the words.

The Orange Blossom Song

I want to wake up 
in the morning,
where the orange blossoms grow.
Where the sun comes a peeping into where I’m a sleep’n
and the songbirds sing hello.
I love the fresh air
and the sunshine,
it’s good for us you know.
So I’ll make my home in Florida,
where the orange blossoms grow.

Friday, May 9, 2014

ELYSIUM by Nicole Grayson


Here is the review I posted in Amazon and Goodreads:

The story instantly drew me in and kept me on the edge of my seat all the way to the very end. I loved the ending and didn't want it to stop. and so I've been daydreaming about what would happen next. Set in fabulous locations (I feel like I've been on a vacation), there was suspense, wonderful friendships, love and great sex. It was like seeing a fabulous movie, where you're telling your friends that you'd go see it again as you're walking out of the theater. And you do! I sure hope there's going to be a book #2!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Clothes That Closet Door!

Haha, a play on words!
I live in Florida and what little winter we get (actually this winter was pretty cold!) was over in February or March.  For a month I've been delaying the cleaning of the closet. I just shut the door and ignore the fact that my closet is busting at the seams with things I don't wear. I really don't have a lot of clothes, but I wear less than 75% of what is in the closet.  First I need to move the turtlenecks, sweaters, boots and jackets into the guest room closet to see what I actually have. Next, slide the clothes I wear regularly to the side and, finally, try on all the clothes I never wear to find out why.  Maybe I'll find a hidden gem, but my guess is, a spot, snug on the hips, too short, too long, or too ugly.  No matter that it was a gift from a favorite person, my best color or material, how much (or little!) I paid, or how much I dreamed it would fit right in the future, if it isn't right, it is wrong! Into the reject pile those go for some lucky soul to purchase from Goodwill.

Yesterday I promised myself I would tackle the closet, but in typical Marty fashion, I distracted myself on purpose with a need to bake cupcakes. From scratch. Uh-huh. The recipe I used is in my food blog, What's For Dinner?

I promise to post a picture of the outgoing pile after I'm done.  Scout's honor. For those of you that know me, I was kicked out of Brownies in 2nd grade for skipping school, so swearing on the scouts and skipping chores may not be a guilt-ridden stretch for me.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Can't Stop Biking

I cannot stop my bike!
Several years ago Mark got us both matching bikes...a small one for shortie me, and a huge bicycle for him. Mark is a big man and he is a six and a half foot tall giant! You should see him walking our five pound yorkie! It looks like Shrek walking a squirrel!!

The reason I can't stop my bike is, it is a fancy mountain bike and it has hand brakes.  Like I'd EVER ride a bike up or down a mountain!! My hands have more scars than Frankenstein, so they don't quite work the way they used to. In my right hand I have three artificial joints, a fused thumb and fused long finger joints, there are two fake joints in my left hand, but they're all old and mobility is limited, so my squeezability is gone. Ah the joys of rheumatoid arthritis!  Here I am, feeling good enough to ride a bike (I haven't for years!) and I can't because of mechanics.
Found this one online, IDENTICAL to our bikes.
Before I even tried to drive it, Mark took my bike to the repair shop to get a tuneup: replace a flat tire and get a kick-stand. Then, in the parking lot, I took it for a spin and Mark had to stop me, as I couldn't do the squeeze to the brakes thing. Forget even trying to change gears! I will need to find a beach cruiser with foot operated coaster brakes. Too bad. I was ready to get all summer skinny, had my basket ready for the dog and everything.
Taken several years ago when my hands worked better.
Same bike, same basket, same dog.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


"Today is the day to let go of things that no longer serve you." 

I came across this website and didn't want to lose it.
It's great!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Today is Looking Rosey!

Want to know what my day was like? It was a typical busy day running at break-neck speed. After a fitful night's sleep, I drank coffee and filled two 7-day pill containers. Mark bathed the dog and I ran the blow dryer. Mark and I went to my 83 year old father's car lot for me to bid with dad on an online car auction. Daddy doesn't do computers. After volleying with some other dealers, the van we most wanted to purchase was ours for the full final two minutes until 4 seconds before closing, when some slime ball, whose name shows up as a*****e (really, you can spell asshole with his name) slipped in under the wire and took it from us without a second to spare. Usually very calm, I felt my face turn red as I wished for the good old days where you could actually see the vehicles in living color and the other bidders are polite enough to realize when one truly wants a vehicle and respects the "going, going, gone" at auction. After watching the two vehicles we were interested in slip through our fingertips, sigh, I ran an errand to the tag agency downtown, then back to the car lot to drop off a customer's new tag before heading home.

Mark and I stopped  to pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy, then finally back home. I unloaded the dishwasher and Mark put the shelves back into the clean smoker grill. I cleaned out the fridge, lots of containers of mystery leftovers, fuzzy strawberries, dried out blueberries, and moldy cheese hit the disposal. Finally, we had a late lunch of viable leftovers. Next, I followed Mark to the mechanic to drop off our SUV for new rear brakes. Back home again, we started a weeks' worth of laundry and vacuumed the house.

Just prior to dusk seems to be the magic planting time, and the roses I bought a few weeks ago are finally in the ground! I cannot wait until we have fragrant blooms to pick! Click on each to go to a link for photos and descriptions.
Climbing Blaze climbing rose
Chicago Peace hybrid tea rose
Perfume Delight hybrid tea rose
Golden Showers climbing rose

Mark also planted two of four azaleas before it got too dark to dig more holes.  I watered roses while Mark dug, then we cooked dinner and cleaned up. As soon as this is posted to my blog, I will go pack for an overnight trip to Tampa tomorrow where I have a job Wednesday and Thursday making photo mugs at the student union of a community college.

It was a normal, busy day for me.  I have friends that complain that I never return their calls. Imagine that!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Back Yard Is a Blank Slate

Click on picture for larger view.
Our backyard is a blank slate. There are many very large, gorgeous trees with a 150 foot canopy that casts a grass-killing shadow over the property. Mark raked a winter's worth of fallen leaves and pine straw, filling a big trash can and TWENTY-TWO big black trash bags. He sprayed weeds - the only green in the yard, and trimmed back the only two plants in the backyard: a palmetto and a giant invasive philodendron (hate them!).

This weekend we participated in the neighborhood garage sale, cooked a smoker full of chicken legs (60) and went to a family reunion. Afterward, we went to visit my parents. On Sunday we went to church, visited an uncle's grave, had lunch with family, and went to my parents' house again. Somewhere in there, we watered all the new plants in the front yard and then Mark and I found time to start planting. Here is a list of the items we planted:
  • 3 Christmas poinsettias (2 from mom, one was mine)
  • 2 hip-high Japanese plum trees - outside each bedroom window to block light and traffic noise (mom)
  • a nice hydrangea bush (from mom's yard)
  • a skinny Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow plant that will one day be a nice, full, flowering bush (mom)
Plants we have collected but haven't planted yet:
  • 4 big azaleas - 2 pink, 2 white
  • 3 or 4 climbing roses for the back fence
  • a trumpet plant that I rooted from a cutting daddy gave me
  • a foot-tall baby dogwood, potted by momma's friend Lucille Long, now deceased
  • a couple of dozen orange blooming amaryllis bulbs (mom only wanted red ones)
  • some hibiscus cuttings I rooted from my front yard plants
  • grass seed, fertilizer, and bug killer - all to be spread eventually
Planting the rest of the items listed will be a challenge. Our neighborhood was built on what used to be a swamp. Plants and trees didn't have to go deep for water, so the surface is coated with a billion trillion roots. We cannot just pick a spot and dig a hole. Mark has to use the limb loppers with every hole he starts. It's a big fight to dig a little hole...The amaryllis will be a big pain!

We think spreading pine straw (they sell bales at Lowes) will be nicer to walk on and more cost efficient than mulch. Our idea is to make big curvy beds. I'd like to also add bunches of pretty, shade loving, mounding impatient flowers and maybe some other flowers (white periwinkles?) or an assortment of wild flower seeds or squash to fill in the empty spaces. Next year, the yard will look lovely.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It's Been A Year

I want the boxwood hedge moved and transplanted with azaleas.
We sold the Apopka house and downsized into our Jacksonville home on April 2, 2013.  We had big plans to tear out the garden tub in the small master bathroom and put in a shower. We wanted to have wood like laminate flooring put down.  Those two things haven't happened yet, but we did get both bathroom ceiling fluorescent bar lights removed and pretty sconce-like lights put over the mirror in each bathroom. Mark replaced the weak exhaust fans with nice lighted ones. This sounds like an easy fix, but it included tearing into the ceiling and having to lengthen electrical wire (requiring a certified electrician for safety). Mark also hired a handyman and they worked together to raise the drop ceiling in the master bath/shower to 7' high. It's better than having to stoop, but imagine taking a shower with only 6" clearance!  I guess he's used to it. They also added a can light to the shower ceiling so we don't have to bathe in the dark.

It was a long cold winter and now that the sun has returned, we (meaning Mark) have been working on the front yard and put in azaleas, gardenias, impatients, amaryllis, grass plugs, and two citrus saplings.  It looks better, but it doesn't look like much this year.  Just wait until next year when the plants are mature!
Grass plugs should fill in quickly.  We need more!
First day amaryllis bulbs planted, a bit droopy.
The whole yard, front and back, is covered in a road map of thick tree roots and it's hard to dig even the smallest of holes to plunk a plant into the ground.  This place used to be a swamp and roots didn't have to go deep to get water.  I have more flowering plants to put in the back yard. Mark raked and raked inches deep leaves and exposed a bunch of weeds that need murdering.  After that, we (meaning Mark) plan to take large portions of the yard, especially around the edges of the fence, to be mulched with pine straw and climbing roses against the back fence, hydrangea in a low wet corner, and a variety of other pretty azaleas and stuff here and there.  We (Mark) will then spread grass seed in the unmulched areas, as the back is pretty shady and St. Augustine grass dies back there.  I hope the plants we bought will survive the mottled light. Oh, and we were gifted a fire pit and I want to put that in the yard, rocks or sand beneath it and chairs circled around.  Next fall is going to be wonderful!
Front garden, a week later, blooming amaryllis!