Saturday, November 28, 2009

Florida Thanksgiving, gators, jumpers

First of all... I must confess that it has been years since I have celebrated Thanksgiving with my REAL (biological) family, due to living in Texas for years. So spending yet another Thanksgiving NOT with my "own" family is not a hardship for me. L and I had already looked at airfare prices and decided that we could only realistically afford one trip this year -- so we chose Christmas.

We had a gathering at the clubhouse of this RV park, so those who were not able to be with family, could have a social gathering. The park's management provided the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls and margarine -- and the residents who chose to join in the meal, were asked to bring a dish or dessert. I am SO hungry for vegetables, so I chose to steam several heads of brocolli. I sliced and sauteed several cloves of garlic and stirred this into the brocolli before I covered the dish and we walked up to the clubhouse. And it was a good meal, with certainly PLENTY to eat. Most of the vegetable-based side dishes were definitely made from scratch. Not so, with most of the desserts (I noticed). I think ALL of the pies were "store bought" or at least store-purchased, then later baked. The same was true of most of the cakes. So it's given me some ideas for NEXT year... I will probably still bring a good veggie dish, but maybe a from-scratch dessert, too. I could make a good bread pudding (a taste that I acquired while living in Houston), for example.

Gators: L has noticed gators in the water, on most of the golf courses on which he has played. So here are a snap or two of one of the gators - only about a five-footer - that he and the rest of his foursome came across while playing in a tournament the Monday before Thanksgiving. This first shot shows the gator mostly out of the water, headed (already) back to "safety" after being spotted.


Here's the gator making his way back to the pond and already partially in the water.



JUMPER! A friend that we've made at this park, did a tandem jump (yes -- he jumped out of a perfectly good, still operating plane) the Friday after Thanksgiving. Here's a couple of photos of that day.

First one shows him practicing the "assume the postion" that he is supposed to be in, soon after bailing out of the plane.
>>== "And smile for the camera..."


<<== Supportive friends - plus B's wife, S (blue jacket, right side)



SAFE LANDING! They sold a tee shirt: "The sky is not the limit: the ground is"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

LOL - and Christmas lights

LOL does NOT refer to the usual "laugh out loud" -- which is a phrase that I absolutely hate, since so many folks use it ad nauseum, ad infinitum. Please -- just say it made you laugh, made you smile. I can show you many blogs, many e-mails, where the writer uses this phrase too, TOO frequently.

So -- I am here to tell you, that in THESE parts, LOL is a shorthand reference to Land O Lakes -- an actual city's name in this area. Some of the street signs say LOL Rd (or is it Blvd?) -- this is actually 41 (US 41 or SR 41), part of it called Land O Lakes as it meanders in this region.

Also wanted you to see the Symphony in Lights that we saw Monday night. This is at a shopping center called Wiregrass Shops. Five trees were involved in this display. Although the video cannot do it justice, the tallest tree was just about 3 stories high, and the two trees on EACH side were stepping-stone smaller. (Note the real palm trees behind these artificial trees.) The music was from Trans Siberian Orchestra and was of course synchronized with the light display.



It was a beautiful evening, and we went there by motorcycle. I am not sure if this particular video shows folks in jackets, but there were several videos to choose from. It was definitely shirt-sleeve weather. And this video might have been from last year (I think). On the way back to the RV park, we stopped at Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins. Some got coffee and donuts, some ice cream. An interesting restaurant combo... Or junk-food combo, probably a better description! I had the plain ol' chocolate ice cream, in case you are curious. But... BUT - I did not have any dinner, just a bowl of soup for lunch. I am just sayin'.

Gonna wind up this post, since L's back from the morning coffee/gossip session that the guys in the RV park have on weekday mornings. A good way to find out what's goin' on in this little neighborhood! And it gives me a few moments alone, which is NOT a bad thing, when we share this tiny "home".

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bikers!

Okay -- just a few snaps to share with y'all... We rode with 6 other couples up to Zephyrhills on Saturday. They had a small-town parade to honor veterans (and their families). It was about a 20-mile ride (more or less) each way.

Some of these folks were also pictured in the pool party pix a few days ago. So without further ado...




<< Him









>> Me








<< The gang's bikes!



Lutz bikers >>

M - N - J - R - B (white cap) - M (pink shirt) - me - W - J






<< L's friend, F








>> Another pic

> adds F on the far right

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pool party.. wait! No pool!

Here are a few photos from the pool party on Saturday. Some of us still have a sense of humor about the situation - that is that we do NOT have a working pool, since like many roads across the nation, it is "under construction"...

In this first photo, standing: N (married to R - from Michigan); seated: L (yes, that's him) and J (married to W, from Alabama).

J (or JR) (married to W - Michigan- ders), S and B (married to each other - New Yorkers), B and his wife (?), origin unknown.

M (married to F, L's long-time friend), N (see her in 1st photo, also), R (her husband, Michigan residents), and F (spouse of M, on the far left of this photo). M and F were originally from Minnesota, have been Florida residents now for several years.

F (see in previous photo), B and wife (a pair of Canad- ians), and W (from Michigan - see her spouse JR in 2nd photo).

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Still kickin'


Yup -- I am still alive and kickin'! Sorry that I (we) have been so busy that I haven't set aside time for blogging. We have been looking at places to (potentially) buy, meeting all the "old timers" who return to this park year after year, etc., etc. This first photo shows our humble abode, a class-C motor home. Tiny little thing that is almost big enough to accomodate L and me, and not much else. Plus it is NOT ours, so that is something that we are very careful about. This is courtesy of L's friend F and his wife, M. They own the the little home and have put it on a lot for us to use, gratis. We ARE paying for the lot rental, however. Didja notice my "Don't mess with Texas" bumpersticker on the wheelcover? For those non-Texans who might be reading: this is not a macho statement - it IS, however, the anti-littering slogan for Texas. I like it!

We are lovin' the 1990 Honda Goldwing that we purchased from L's friend, F, and some of the new friends are other "bikers". Yup, we are among the graying of America's bikers. We all ride safe -- almost all are helmet-wearers, and no one drinks (alcohol) and drives. So it's a good, sober group. You can't see the Goldwing in this second photo - it is at the front of the Rav, under that deep blue cover. Gotta protect our li'l baby from Florida's sun! I did not realize that L had captured me behind the bike, in that photo.

L likes golf and admits that he is really NOT good at it. But he golfs with the Wednesday group of guys and hopes that I will join the ranks of the female golfers. I have gone out to a coupla driving ranges with him and did notice some improvement from session # 1 to session #3. I actually hit some of the balls around 100 yards during the third go-round.

This place is like a small town, complete with gossip mill, etc. But the majority are friendly. It is interesting to find out others' backgrounds. There are some like us - living-together couples - but the majority are long-married couples, with histories of kids and grandkids. Because I feel like such an outsider, I have "reached out" to J, a gal who feels like even MORE of an outsider than I do. She has health challenges with her back, so that rules out golf for her. She is doing a "trial" winter time with her guy, T. He is a widow, she a divorcee - the opposite of L and myself. I love her accent - she is originally from West "by God" Virginia, although she and T now live in Ohio.

Saturday we had a pool party. Naw -- no pool, folks. Actually, this was an attempt to make the best of a situation that has many rankled. The pool has been ripped out and is in the process of being rebuilt. Actually, the process seems to be at a halt. The contractor does not seem very motivated, and a LOT of the folks here count on that pool. I mean, they are here from cold climes and WANT to enjoy all aspects of Florida during winter. And folks -- that DOES mean access to a pool. So our "pool party" was at a vacant lot across the street from where we are staying. We all brought our own lawn chairs, some snacks, and whatever beverages we wanted. One of the guys, B, videotaped some of the events. L took some photos (I hope to post some soon). A tongue-in-cheek get-together, done in fun.

We (the bikers) drove west to Hudson, on the Gulf coast - about a 20-mile ride or so - to a neat restaurant for dinner on Friday. This place had a great seafood menu - of course - and I defaulted to fish-n-chips when I found out that the fish was fresh grouper. It was so, SO good. If we get back to this place, I do want to try their scallops. The restaurant was PACKED. I think our party was either 9 or 11 in size.

There is a hurricane brewing in the Gulf - yeah, I KNOW that this is November and that hurricane season is OVER. Will someone tell Mother Nature?

That's my quickie, catch-up post, folks. Hope to be better about this, next time - not SO far down the road. Maybe have someone take our photos on the Goldwing?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

On the road again...

Just a quickie update...

We hit the road (to FL) on Thursday. I was fortunate enough to see my cousin (her blog -- The Retired One) and her hubby for a bit, and she even graciously enough fed us lunch). I felt like I had been by her home previously, having seen photos of it on her blog!.

We traveled on to L's son's girlfriend's home on Friday (overnighted in Gaylord, MI) and I got a chance to meet his son S and girlfriend (another S). Nice couple and their relationship hasn't been much longer than L's and mine. It was good to see them together -- they seem to mesh pretty well.

Last night we stayed in Florence, KY (just barely over the border, into that state). Got a kick out of the water tower for the city, which proclaimed "FLORENCE Y'ALL". Gotta love it!

So tonight we are in Cordele, GA, south of Macon and about a 5-hour-plus drive from our destination of Lutz (pronounced LOOTZ), FL. And another chapter of my life will unfold then. I am looking forward to it! Updates to come...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Potato chips

Had a sorta lazy start to today (Sunday). Made some coffee, then L turned off the water and began the work to replace some kind of filter on the water pump (which provides the water supply for the house). I started on breakfast -- not a REAL challenge, since it was mostly recycling leftovers: large pieces of prime rib, from the meal we had at the Elks Lodge on Friday evening, slicing up and then sauteeing some leftover new potatoes as well as part of a baked potato, and finally scrambling up the two eggs left in the fridge. Not too tough. I cannot seem to do a straight-up fried egg, even tho' I do like mine over easy. Gotta work on that, I guess.

He took a break to eat breakfast then returned to the pump challenge.

Eventually, we took turns showering and got ready to go to a local bar to catch the last half of the Vikings game (they won -- and Brett Favre IS worth it... so far). Visited with some of his friends there, then went to a local pizza place for a way-too-large pizza (yes, Virginia -- we ARE bringing home leftovers).

Next stop was the grocery store. I am constantly reminded that I am NOT in Texas anymore, and this was one of those reminders. For I spotted this product, which I am wondering about: is it offered anywhere else but in Minnesota?

Ketchup-flavored potato chips, folks. Yes, you read that correctly. And catsup/ketchup is the Minnesota equivalent of salsa, I do believe. This version was an Old Dutch product, I think.

I am getting somewhat used to hearing some words or phrases that I have not heard (very frequently) for YEARS: pop (instead of soda or soft drink); spendy (instead of expensive); and that famous one: ISH. Kinda/sorta means disgusting, but in a lesser show of revulsion. I don't mean to laugh -- but that particular one amuses me, and I don't know why.

Well, gotta run. We will leave the shop soon and continue on our way home. See ya down the country roads...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Under Constructon / Destruction

Oh. My. God. So much, SO-O-O-O much I have forgotten about this neck-of-the-woods. Such as... as soon as the ground thaws around the region (which, thankfully, I did NOT witness in person), they immediately start ripping up many, many highways and streets, in a vain attempt to repair and keep ahead of the next winter's destruction of said roadways.

Now, I know, I really DO, that the greater Houston area was constantly bombarded with similar road repairs. But because of its size, it did not necessarily impact ME with every bit of it. So why does it seem, in this much-smaller metro area, that we are constantly travelling over or being stopped by this rebuilding? In fairness, I must say that my entire first year of living and working in Houston, I had the inglorious route of travelling I-10 (aka the Katy Fwy) to and from work. The first six months or so, it was totally rebuilt in the eastbound direction, followed by (of course) the westbound route, when the first part was completed.

I am amused at how much press (television and print, both) is given to crimes that would never, NEVER have been mentioned in Houston. Houston is NOT a low-crime area, folks, and I never thought it was. And after a three-month stint on a grand jury panel for Harris County back in the late 80's or early 90's, I was more certain of that fact than ever. A grand jury's job is just to assess whether there is enough evidence to bring charges against a potential defendant. But the county attorneys have to funnel these cases through the grand jury process. Most of the cases are pretty much cut-and-dried. And we heard about 70 a day -- yes, you read that right. Seventy cases were trotted out, read to us, and mostly they were rubber-stamped by we grand jurors. Meaning the defendant was charged. Like I said, big city, lots of crimes. Several million folks living in the greater-metro area. And to put this into further prospective: each day, TWO grand jury panels served - and each panel served TWO days a week. So, fourteen panels a week, each hearing about the same number of cases. Mind-boggling, eh? To balance out how crime is handle here: I saw a minimum of THREE squad cars in a parking lot -- apparently all officers were involved in what (from my car, at least) appeared to be an apprehension of several young gals who may have tried shoplifting. On the grass near a strip shopping center, was spread out the contents of several bags and/or handbags. I mean, I am happy with this approach to crime, but puzzled by what seems (at times) to be overkill. Perhaps I have been away too long (or maybe not long enough?). Just a comment -- not a criticism. Citizens expect that around here -- and just the opposite in the metro Houston area, where we had to adjust to way too FEW officers for the large population.

Well... gotta run. Have many tasks that need to get done and I am procrastinating. Sigh...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Scattered thoughts

So... ummm... just bits and pieces and none of it very special or noteworthy.

Finally connected with my sis on Monday on the phone, re: Mom's birthday. Mom had a request for where she wanted to "celebrate". So that's where we went on Tuesday, when Mom marked her 82nd birthday. Yup -- we went to the local watering hole in my li'l old "hometown". (An aside -- I only spent 9 years in this town, from ages 9 to 18, and graduated high school there. Made some good friends there, had some good times, and then moved to the Twin Cities -- aka the Cities, aka Minneapolis/St. Paul and lived there until age 36. From there, it was the greater Houston area for my homes and employment.) But, as they say, I digress...

The local bar used to be a "muni", which meant that it was run by the city/village and the revenues went to said government. That meant both off-sale (entire bottles or cans sold, to be consumed off-premises) and on-sale (consumed by the drink, on the premises). I have no idea when, but this was eventually sold to a private party and has since been run as a bar which also serves bar (aka snack-style) food. The frozen kinds of food that can be cooked either (1) in a deep-fryer or (2) in a pizza oven -- in other words, health food as the drinking population knows it. Free popcorn, specials on some beers, etc. And this is where Mom wanted to go. I think her curiousity was piqued by the fact that sis (and more recently, me, too) has mentioned being in there, and Mom has not been in the place since its rebirth. And it just happened that a fellow who used to work with Mom (she was working well into her late 70's) was in there, so she chatted with him a bit. I think she had a good time, although it is not always easy to tell. She's never been a very emotional person, for the most part.

Wednesday is L's golf day - he sees about 5 or 6 friends from high school, and they golf a 9-hole course during warmer months. Then they go to the local pizza establishment (has several locations in Duluth, but is locally owned and operated) that so many love up here -- Sammy's Pizza. Sis's guy also golfs in a Wednesday group, so she and I made plans to do something together this past Wednesday. And I waited and waited for her to call... and apparently we had our wires crossed, for she waited and waited for ME to call her. And when I DID call her - on Thursday - we discovered that each of us had "heard" the other one saying, "I'll call you tomorrow." Senior moments... And we both thought it was odd, not receiving the expected phone call!

Thursday morning, L took his on-the-bike test (borrowed a friend's very large, very weighty Harley) -- and passed. Which now leaves us in good shape for Florida, where a friend of his will sell us his 1990 Honda Goldwing. More on this later. L had not expected to pass, actually, since this BIG bike weighs about 900 pounds and that makes it very unwieldy when trying to weave around the smallish cones that are part of this test. But... we were both glad that he DID pass.

I had my hair color touched-up on Thursday. Now most women will agree that this is of primary importance, when you relocate -- GOTTA find someone who can/will do your haircolor -- and do it WELL -- and also the cutting and styling. So important, in fact, that I have always found a hairstylist first, then eventually doctors and dentists. True story with me, whenever I have moved into a new area. The new stylist has lots of years of experience and I was very pleased with her, both professionally and personality-wise.

And now it is Friday. We are in the shop a bit later -- L is working on putting his videos on YouTube -- how-to ones that promote the products he makes -- and I am obviously posting on the blog. Had some wonderful (for northern MN) weather the past few days -- upper 70's and maybe the 80's and sunny blue skies.

I am still hearing the loons in the early morning and late in the evenings. I will miss their calls when we go to Florida, and maybe they will migrate before we leave later in October, anyhow. I saw a hummingbird at the feeder last week - I think he/she is the only one around now -- but have not noticed that li'l feathered flier this week. Either this bird has flown, or it is being shy now.

L and I are getting more used to each other -- we had some testy moments over these 11-plus weeks, and I do attribute that to a speeded-up "relationship" setup. Went from Skype-ing to living together, and I had doubts at times, which are easing. I think about women, back in the 1800's, who may have been married to a man who was a near-stranger, and cannot imagine what that was like for them. Probably moved away from their family (and thus no support from their mother or other family femmes) and maybe into a hardscrabble type of life. And I am fortunate to have moved TO an area where my mother and sister (as well as some cousins) live. So... I am happier and more at-ease with my guy and my life and... just happier, that's all.

Ready to enjoy the weekend! 'Bye for now.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Autumn leaves

Song titled Autumn Leaves (from the 1940's - 1950's): "The falling leaves drift by my window, the autumn leaves of red and gold." "And soon I'll hear old winters song." Or lyrics to that effect.

Boy, autumn starts EARLY in this neck of the woods. Already, in the heavily wooded area in which L's house sits, or along the similarly wooded areas we drive along - touches of color (pretty oranges and some reds) are appearing in a few branches. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love the changing leaves. But it is WAY. TOO. EARLY. for all of that shit, for me. It has been (by accounts of the locals) a very cool (I call it COLD) summer. So I rarely have had occasion to wear capris or shorts or sandals. My tan faded weeks ago, and it had "taken" so easily, when I was still in Houston. I have only been on my bicycle twice since I got here (part of that is the unpacking which takes forever - and part is the fact that I spend too much time at the shop).

The hummingbirds which frequent our nectar feeder, appear to have left -- and that might mean that they have only moved on to a neighbor's more-frequently refilled feeder. I don't know much about the migration of the birds around here (yet). I was so used to birds that stayed year-round in the Houston area, such as mockingbirds or doves. Don't get me wrong - we also had migrating birds in that part of Texas. I'm just sorta surprised that birds move out so early in the season, and that the leaves are beginning to turn this early, too.

Finally FINALLY got the news about the cost of repairing the outboard motor which conked out and set us adrift in the pontoon towards the end of July. Five hundred smackeroos. Ouch. However, a new outboard would run into several thousands of dollars - something we are not prepared to cough up at this point. Gotta have the motor in order to move the pontoon next door to the neighbor who so nicely allows L to launch and eventually pick up the pontoon using his easily-accessible shore. L's place has a steep drop and is NOT pontoon-launching friendly.

We are still trying to connect with the real world from L's place. Yesterday we got DirecTV installed. Now we can watch some REAL tv, instead of what is only available on local stations.

Next on the checklist is trying to get internet connection - L is currently using something from his cellphone service - some kind of mobile broadband that snaps into his laptop. He saw a sign posted by a new provider - high in one of the trees, down the dirt road which eventually meanders to L's driveway - and L talked with them. It will be nice, IF their signal can be used back-and-forth between L's home and an antenna across the lake from his place. They will notify us if this is possible. Please, everyone... cross your fingers that this IS going to happen. That mobile broadband crap is the pits - s-l-o-o-o-w and then it cuts out on a whim. Trust me - we used this back when we were Skype-ing. It sucks.

My dining room table is set up in his house now, and also a desk that we can (1)work on and (2) stash computer-related stuff (software, etc) on, too.

*** WOW -- I entered this a while back and just gettin' around to posting it now. Had hoped to have photos downloaded to go with this, but that will have to wait! Yes, I am alive and well (a judgement call, I am aware!), just busy. I will try to post the next update much sooner!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More of the same...

Just came from spending time with my sis - it was the wrap-up day of a 3-day garage sale. The cold, rainy weather was NOT helpful for driving folks in to shop. A very, very slow process that did NOT pick up until she and her daughter went into their "whatever you can fit into a bag, for a buck" mode. So lots of things got toted out the door at that point. And still, and still... lots of leftover plates, glasses, wineglasses. The ususual thought is that college students would want things for setting up their apartments, etc. But maybe parents are more flush, can afford to buy these things new for their kidlings? The economy in this area is very tight, lots of unemployment. So maybe another reason for slow and low sales.

L and I are getting along a bit better now. I know that he feels overwhelmed by "stuff", and believe me, I would have pared down things much MUCH more, if I had had ANY clue that this was my destination. In fact, I HAD started getting rid of things in the early spring, figuring that I would end up in a two-bedroom apartment or condo or some such situation. But then I did not have the luxury of the time that I had counted on. I estimated my house being on the market for probably months... be careful what you wish for, I keep saying. I am looking into a storage unit here - I have things that I want to have in a climate-controlled area, such as many 45's and some albums which are possible collectibles. I need time to research these on E-Bay, to see what possible value these things might have. Don't want to throw out something that might bring in some coin!

We are back this afternoon (Saturday) at his shop. He's working on his product site, trying to put in keywords that will bring the site some page-one visibility on Google and Yahoo, when folks look for cleaning products. We have contracted with an SEO company. The SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, for those who do not know. And believe me, I did NOT know about SEO's until just a few weeks ago! Anyway, they are schooling us in the steps we need to take, to make L's product site sit higher when you search for glass cleaner or carpet cleaner on the 'net. (He has other products, too.) He has put his whole heart and soul and 15 years of development to try to make this a "go". And his products ARE very good - not just sayin' that - they really ARE good products. Of course, I am using them -- and the All Purpose Cleaner will safely remove many more stains from laundry than most products will.

It was fun to spend some time with my sis and her daughter during the garage sale. And weird to step into the room of her house that was formerly my sis's and her late husband's bedroom. Her house is now occupied by her daughter and her fiance, and the young couple have made that into an office. Sis still owns the house, plans to sell it next year.

God help me... I think I am adjusting to the cooler temps! I was outside this a.m. with L and was NOT too cold, wearing a fleece zip-up and temps in the mid-60's. He was setting up to pull down a very tall, very dead birch tree, so I helped with the extension ladder that he moved into place, before he began climbing said ladder and tying a rope high in this tree. Tomorrow he hopes to pull it down - his worry is that a strong storm or bad winter will fell the tree onto the house and/or power line.

Strange to be living here now and running into people that I know, when I am doing just day-to-day things. I was leaving a fabric store this afternoon, and as I turned to go towards the exit door, I saw a high school classmate and his wife. So we chatted - they were not aware that I was now living in this area, as my original plans were to move to a Twin Cities suburb. Nice to be able to chat in a leisurely fashion with hometown folks.

Tonight we are meeting Sis and her Significant Other (boyfriend, whatever), R, for dinner. That was L's idea - and it gives us a chance to have a nice, slow visit where neither I nor Sis has to cook OR clean up after a meal. R and L seem to get along well, too, which is a bonus. The place where we will eat tonight, is the place where the waiter accidentally spilled an entire glass of pinot noir all over L's shirt several weeks ago! Fortunately, L's all purpose cleaner product DID get the stain out - and it was not laundered until a few days AFTER that incident.

Anyway, end of commercial. As I mentioned, we are melding our styles, slowly. He DOES have affection for me - as I do for him - but it is just not so easy to make two strong-willed folks into a cohesive unit in a short amount of time. We are both trying to make this work, and that is something we both agree on. I think we will be fine - just difficult to make things go so smoothly in "crunch time".

And thanks for your input on the comments, friends. You are my support, and I thank you for that!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Another quickie update!

So here I am in the Holiday Inn Express in the general Kansas City area. And what is going on? I am sitting on a pc in the office area of this hotel, chatting with a young man who is manning the desk. And he and I are "clicking", and I am so glad to meet a complete stranger (the age of one of my nephews) and find that we have some things in common. He is a descendant of Quannah Parker (Texas natives will know about this) and I found that out just by asking him about his mother's ancestry (she has the high cheekbones and just general appearance of a woman of Native American ancestry). He had shared his MySpace pages with me, and I saw some great photos of him and his family.

Anyway, I have had a long day (we hit the road from Houston about 12:40 AM - just after midnight, folks) and it has a been a long, testy day. We checked into this room about 5 pm or so, and then went to dinner. Needless to say, tempers and patience are short. And so He is asleep upstairs (my Yahoo partner) and I walked to a nearby liquor shop and bought a bottle of wine... and have been chatting with my new friend, M, here. So nice to meet new people and just be able to chat so easily. I feel like I have known M for a long time, and he is the age of one of my nephews. He's a nice guy, very much a people person... and in EVERY sense of the word.

So I have been slightly anesthesized by one glass of wine (following a dinner that happened in TOTAL silence) and now am enjoying human (humane?) company, while the man in my life has dropped into an exhausted slumber. He has worked very VERY hard at getting my possessions packed up and ready to travel. But he is as bullheaded and stubborn as I am - and we butt heads from time to time. Sigh....

No perfect matches, and we are still trying to meld our styles... tough, and difficult to do when you are so used to the way your prior relationship played out. Guess time will tell (doesn't it ALWAYS?).

Good to report that the closing on the house went well. And so I will wrap up this quick entry and sign off... Now I only hope that most of the stuff gets up north okay and that I can sort thru and throw out things in a timely manner. Hard to box up your whole life in only a few days - but I know that even more down-sizing is necessary. Just not easy to do.

Wish me well, folks... the older I (we) get, the more stubborn we become!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's up?

One day just seems to fade into another...

Sunday was very busy. We have been tapping a local marketing guy to help L's products sell better. J (marketing guy) and L had scheduled a day of video-ing, with the idea of trying to get some traffic directed to his website. From 10 a.m. until about 6 p.m., two guys - D working the camera and sound, and J sort of directing - focused on L and the products he had decided to promote. We had sandwich fixin's that we broke out around 1:30 or 2 (eventually time just got away from me). Other than that, it was pretty steady work for L: reading the promotions, blowing the scripts (sometimes), re-delivering the lines. Just a l-o-o-n-n-g day that we were both becoming steadily more and more tired of.

I should mention here that this day had a conflict for me. A high-school classmate, M, has an annual gathering at her cabin (by coincidence, her place is on the same lake that L resides on). It was to start at noon, with pot-luck contributions of food plus BYOB and so on. I have never been in MN before, when the get-together was planned, so I was looking forward to it. I was hoping to get to see a few classmates for a bit, but the time grew later and later and the filming was still ongoing, and I was thinkin' that this would not happen.

But finally, FINALLY, the two guys exited - close to 6 pm. And L and I went down to the pontoon - the trip would be shorter by water than by road, as we would have had about 30 - 40 minutes by road, as opposed to 20 minutes by water. No gas when L tried to start the motor -- so up to the garage to bring down some gas and he filled it. And we headed out onto the lake... and could not locate the classmate's cabin. L had looked at Google Earth a day or so earlier and was SURE that he could find it. And we absolutely. could. not. So, with cell phone in hand, I informed classmate M of this. And the problem compounded: not only could we not find the party, but now the motor was sputtering. And it eventually gave up the ghost, with the transmission apparently shot. Now we are adrift on a fairly large lake - and then I spotted M's cabin! Furthermore, a handful of the attendees were at the shore, waving to us. L pointed to our left (the direction the pontoon was drifting) and held up 4 fingers - his guesstimate of how many properties we would land AWAY from M's place.

We drifted up to a dock where the owners were NOT happy to see us. They had recently spent a chunk of change on repairs caused by a windstorm and were afraid that L's pontoon, in a windstorm, could re-damage their dock. So, eventually, the owner towed the pontoon several properties to the right of M's, up onto a sandy beach where L tied the pontoon securely to a tree.

Whew... and so we went in to join the remaining classmates (about 4 or 5, some with spouses), have something to eat, and drink a beer or two. Another classmate, B and her husband M, gave us a ride back to L's place in their pickup truck - only one seat available, so I ended up on L's lap, hunkered over, so I would not bump my head into the truck's headliner.

It was a long day, and we were both happy to see its end. On the positive side, most of the folks were SO-O-O nice and helpful, and it is always nice to see that. More later, on how the pontoon got back to L's. And how much the repair$ will cost, I guess...

I think I am re-acclimating a bit here - but it is still quite cool for me, most days. For instance, today it is only in the 70's - a temp that we experience in Houston only overnight, at this time of the year.

Five pm here. Time to post and head for L's grandson's softball game. Later...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Nothing much to say...

... But I do feel that I need to keep in contact. So here's an update.

Still working with my "friend" L at his business. I feel a little more like I am contributing now -- I can write up invoices, mailing labels, enter credit card entries for approval, do hand-labeling, help with the filling line, etc. So not entirely useless.

We have been looking at motorcycles. L previously was a licensed pilot and some years ago had his own plane (seaplane type), and he sold that to put money into his business. He really, REALLY loved flying. So now he's looking at (used) cycles, to give him the "freedom" that he had when he was flying. We are also looking at good helmets (a must, unless you are into self-sacrifice), and even are looking at some pricier jackets with LOTS of built-in protection (which do NOT come cheap, believe me). Time will tell, on whether we have a bike by this fall or not.

My sister's "real" birthday (as opposed to the surprise party on Saturday, marking the occasion) was Wednesday, so she and R, my mom, sis's daughter, and myself and L, went to a local restaurant for dinner. Then up to my sis's for cake and ice cream, said cake baked by our mom. Mom had offered a cake for me, for my bd, and I declined, since I did not have several folks to help us eat the remainder.

L worked on a rental house that his daughter and son-in-law own, fixing the plumbing for the tenants. He does charge her for this, so it's not gratis.

My high school classmates (as many as want to be there) are gathering at another place on this lake on Sunday. Unfortunately, L will be occupied for part of that day by video-ing some "spots" for his website. So I hope that we can get over there for a few minutes or hours if the filming wraps up early enough. It's about a 15-minute trip by boat, but about 45 minutes by vehicle (have to circumvent the lake to reach the classmates place).

Well... gotta run to get some errands done. I'll catch up with y'all later!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Where in the world is Nancy?

Well, for those of you who care and still read to look for updates...

I am in Duluth, MN. Long, l-o-o-n-n-g story, and I will try to make it brief.

When I was in northern MN at the end of May, just for grins, I got on Yahoo! Personals. You have to put in specific info, obviously, but you can be vague, as well. So I put in some info and used the zip code of the town that I grew up in. Truthfully, it was a "fishing" exercise for me... just curious to see what I would find, see who would respond to me. And actually, there seemed to be some good guys, from what I was reading. Older guys who were looking for a nice woman. In less than 24 hours, 3 guys had made contact with me, and then in less than 30 days, 40+ guys had at least viewed my profile, and some of them made contact with me, too.

Anyway, I started e-mailing with a guy who is a bit older than me. I just turned 61 (July 7th) and he is 66. He has his own small business that he is trying to expand. I will give more detail about this in another posting. Seemed very nice, and then we decided to exchange phone numbers, and eventually he asked me to download Skype, a free software that allows you to see and hear each other (provided that you are at a computer equipped with a camera). We both apparently liked what we saw and heard, and I mentioned in a previous post about limiting him to about an hour of Skyping a night.

He pressed me to allow him come down to see me, and I hesitated during that phone conversation. After my last encounter, I was reluctant to dive in again. But he persisted and I told him to fly down. He flew in the evening that I retired from my 24-year-employment. We clicked -- and now I am living at his place (sorry if some of you are scandalized, but by my age, time waits for no one). He is a very nice guy. My family (mom, sis and sis's significant other) have met him and like him. I have met his daughter, son-in-law and 3 grandkids, plus his son and daughter-in-law, and we seem to get along well, also.

His business gets a lot of his attention, and I am working side-by-side with him most days, Monday thru Friday. Thus... not really retired yet. I try to be supportive and do whatever I can.

We are flying back to Houston the second Sunday in August, so that we can pack up my house and get me ready to move. So fast, things are moving -- as Yoda would say. I haven't even had a chance to start doing change-of-address things. My info is at my house in Houston!

Gotta run. More will follow.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Moving FAST!

Well,my dears... just a brief update.

It appears that my house is SOLD -- and to the very first buyer(s) who looked at it! Of course, it would have been nice to get more money than I settled for. But the object was to get it sold. So I am overwhelmed... things are movin' a bit faster than I had counted on.

Tentative plans are to fly back to Houston, rent a car, get the house packed up (rent a truck) and then drive back to MN. As I said... TENTATIVE plans. I guess the house closing is around mid-August. I did kid around hoping that my house sells so fast, that I get whiplash. Well... be careful what you wish for!

Details are forthcoming -- sorry to be so long in between posts, but I was so busy getting my house ready for showing and trying to figure out what I would need to bring with me to MN, that I hardly had time for anything else.

Here I go... another chapter in my life.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Father's Day

Well... here comes another Father's Day this Sunday. And last year, in March, the last dad in my immediate family, Greg's father, died. So now there are no older-generation dads, and even now, no current-generation (meaning mine) that are in our family. It is strange to NOT have a "real" dad to send a card to, to phone on Sunday. Since the birth of his first child, I have been sending a card to my nephew, who has two boys of his own and is dealing with the reality that parenting brings - all the challenges, but also the rewards that kids bring.

My own dad has been gone four (five?) years now. At the time, his abrupt death did not really seep into my consciousness, in a way. Yet I was so glad that Greg and I had dropped everything and flown to northern MN when my sister let me know that he was hospitalized and it did not look good. So very, very glad. I would not have forgiven myself if I had not hugged him or talked with him those last few times. His first great-grandchild was an infant then, and there are photos of Dad with the baby. The most difficult thing I had to do, after his death, was to sit in the car as we backed out of the driveway and headed to Minneapolis for our return flight to Houston. I felt so awful, leaving my mother with that empty house. Of course, now I know what she went through. But my guilt feelings were whipping me about that day like a large flag on a high pole in hurricane-force winds. And my brother-in-law has been gone over seven years now. Another sudden death. Another father gone.

Father's Day -- for so many years, a time of happiness, buying and sending cards and making phone calls. And now a time for recollections, for reflections.

To all of you who still have your dads or your husbands to hug -- be grateful. No matter how good or poor their parenting skills, be happy that you have them to hug.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Loose ends from a cluttered mind

Nothin' special to comment about...

For years now, I have dined out on a monthly basis with a group that originally came from a church-organized setting. Our church has an annual thing in the fall, whereby you can sign up for various activities. One of these was a dinner group, and so my late spouse and I signed up for that. And our particular group just sorta fell apart quickly, and it seemed that no one except us was making much of an effort to gather for the dinners. Somewhere in that first year, we had another church-organized gathering (it was set up for small groups and was hosted by one couple at their house). Talk turned to the dinner groups. I think at least 3 of the couples were in the same group, and Greg and I complained that we were not having much luck with our dinner group, and we begged to go with the other group. And that is how this all started.

The group was 5 couples strong at the beginning. Two of the couples have husbands who turned 80 last November, and the third couple is about 65 - 67 years in age. These three couples are all retired, of course. The fourth couple split several years ago - he very callously moved out of their home just at the start of Thanksgiving weekend that year. As part of his relocation, he changed addresses for his utilities - and she was, without warning, left with no electricity - for Thanksgiving! She was livid, as you can fully understand. What a shithead, a self-indulgent, egotistical piece of crap he was/is. Only thinking of himself. His ex-wife is a wonderful woman, and I'll call her B. She stayed with our group. He was NOT asked to continue.

And of course, last year Greg died. So now we are 8 in number. I contacted this group when I unexpectedly found Greg dead. They were and still are very supportive, just like family. And when you don't have family near you, you cherish those who love you unconditionally. Trust me -- there are times that you do not anticipate how much you will need and want family around you.

All of this background, to bring me to our last dinner. B decided to organize an early one, since one of the couples was heading out of state to see the newest grandchild. So she phoned around and we all decided that the first Saturday in June would work for all of us. She picked one of our favorite restaurants, Rudi Lechner's. Rudi is Austrian and the menu reflects that region. Sometimes there is entertainment, and we were fortunate enough to have that, on this night. Just a two-person group. The guy sings, sometimes plays that l-o-o-n-g Alpine horn, and the woman plays a keyboard. They do traditional songs from that region, and this time they threw in a few from The Sound of Music. Most of the diners were singing along to Edelweiss, myself included.

But sneaky B -- and the others! They had really organized this as a pre-retirement dinner for me!! So sweet and thoughtful of them. I was wondering why they were producing greeting cards and passing them to me. I was really touched. I have eschewed the retirement lunch that is offered here at the Port, since I do not have any family living here. So the fact that the dinner group did this, was very special to me.

On other notes... have been trying to limit my friend to about an hour of Skype-ing a night. Otherwise I fall woefully behind on packing up to get OUT of this house and on to new locations. He's been pretty good about those limitations so far.

As I said, I have chosen to NOT have the traditional Port retirement lunch. But I think maybe my dept will do something, anyway -- probably at least a cake, and I know that a card is being circulated. We will be having a Happy Hour at some nearby bar at the end of the workday on the 25th, too. And no one will be HAPPIER than me! But I do realize that I will miss the camaraderie, the day-to-day exchange with my co-workers. So some sadness, too, I expect. One of the newly-hired guys seems to be eyeballing my soon-to-be-vacated cubicle. Sometimes I feel like the dying mammal out in the desert, seeing the vultures circling above.

Anyway, nothing special going on. Hope to have something amusing to tell you the next time around.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Skype-ing

Okay, so maybe I am a little late on some aspects of technology. But I honestly had NO idea of what Skype was (is). Well, it turns out that it is free software that you download and install (free - sometimes a good idea, sometimes not, where hackers and lurkers exist on the internet). And it allows you to view AND converse with another. There is a bit of a delay, for both the audio and the visual, and if one party does not have great connections or line speed, it can sometimes be painfully slow and out of sync (which we have all witnessed when we watch old movies and the characters lips do not match quite exactly what we are hearing).

Anyway, I have a new "friend" that I "met" via internet dating. He is a kinda small-town guy (so was the last one and I found out that THAT aspect was not a guarantee of faithfulness, at all). He seems very sincere and also has some connections (that old "Six Degrees of Separation" thing) which may help me to determine his character and so on. Enough about that.

He told me about Skype and now we are using that a lot. Sometimes we just use the video portion, mute the sound, and use our cell phones at the same time. It was SO odd, the first time we saw each other. You could tell that we were checkin' each other out. I laughed a lot (he did, too) and our conversation seemed to go pretty well. So well, in fact, that we talked for 5 hours! Like damned teenagers. I am so afraid to let my heart go again, and frankly, I told him that. And he told me that he would NOT do that to me - that he wants to honestly pursue this relationship and give it a fair time to see where it goes. I guess I can't ask for any more than that.

Anyway - if you want to converse with ANYONE - and not pay long-distance charges or worry about cost overruns on your cell minutes - I would heartily endorse Skype-ing. I don't know if this is the same way that families back in the States are conversing with their loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, although if not using this, then they might be using something similar. It requires (naturally) that you have a camera on your pc, and since I recently purchased a new laptop - voila! Be careful how you look in the morning, if they want you to hop onto that right away! I'm just sayin' .....

Later.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Okay, about that babysitting thing...

In posting this, I hurt a family member that I really care about. So I have removed it and will try to be more careful in the future. I really did not intend to hurt this person, and I will be crawling on my knees for forgiveness for a LONG, LONG time on this one.

Please forgive me. I know that this is NOT widely read, and the family member does not know this, I am sure. Mea culpa.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm ba-a-a-ck!

Yes, I am back. Completely exhausted and tryin' to get the blood back into my alcohol system.... er.... anyway, probably way too much stuff to recount, but I'll try to touch on the highlights - maybe tomorrow.

It is after 9:30 and my butt is draggin'. Got into Houston about 5:30 tonight and hopped on the internet just a bit ago. Had to do the important things - get the mail from my neighbor who so graciously took it in for me, run and pick up a few groceries. Gotta unpack my toothbrush (and - this is VITAL, folks) my makeup, so I don't scare the co-workers tomorrow.

Just wanted ya'll to know that I am alive and (this is a judgment call on my part) well.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A brief pause...

Well, I am in the greater Mpls-St.Paul area, staying with my sister at her son and daughter-in-law's place. We are caring for their two children (boys) ages 5 and 3 and quite a challenge. My sis cared for them last year all by herself, and I do NOT know how she accomplished that. I will probably have some detail to share with you later, and I feel guilty taking these few minutes to post and leaving her upstairs (I am in the basement - after all - it's Minnesota). I can hear the 5-year-old pestering my sister about where is Jessi now? Anyway, details later.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Your NPR name

If you are a fan of NPR (National Public Radio, for you un-initiated), you know that many hosts and participants have slightly unusual names. Want one for yourself? Go to this website: NPR Name.

My name? Jessmica Lunenberg. (I chose to prounce it Jess-ME-ka) The town is not a really tiny town (pop. over 2,000), but it is charming. It's in Nova Scotia.

Slightly better

For all of you supportive women (and for lurkers and casual readers, too) - I am doing better than when I posted on Saturday. In fact, Sunday was a VERY "up" day for me. I did actually get some things accomplished around the house, including most of the laundry (gotta have my playclothes ready to toss in the suitcase). I am basically down to needing to wash my sheets and my skivvies (gotta make sure the undies are clean, although no one but me will be seeing 'em).

Today is a more level day - some up, some down times. I did have an opportunity to discuss my male problem with a few friends (on the phone). One decided that I should just handle this the Texan way: shoot him. And then drag his body across the threshold, so I could use that ol' alibi of defending my property against an intruder. Unfortunately, he does not live in this state. But... hmmm....

So I go forward, with a heavier heart, nonetheless. On a logical, conscious level, I know that I have a lot to offer any man who would take a second look. But on an emotional level - I am so afraid of getting burned again, that I wonder if I can take the handcuffs off my heart. Guess time will tell. Anyone got a boytoy that I can use to practice with?

Oh, humor... guess I am recovering a bit! Gotta run (I'm at work). Talk wit' ya later!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Down, down, depressed

Having a bad week, and I guess I only have myself to blame for this. I was disappointed by a man that I thought cared for me. And I hate myself for wearing my heart on my sleeve and leaving me so vulnerable, emotionally. I have been in or near tears most of today. Do not have anyone available (and believe me, I did try) to chat with on the phone or listen to me cry. And the timing of all of this was just peachy - Greg died one year ago on the 15th (yesterday). I guess that compounded the hurt. Maybe I am a 3-time loser: my first husband (divorce), second husband (death) and now this guy who let me down. Damn me for being so trusting, eh?

Worse yet, this has taken the wind out of my sails, and I am NOT moving forward with the packing up that is needed, to get this house on the market. Could the timing be any worse, I ask you.

Sorry to post this downer of a posting. Just sharing my low times - cannot find anything funny in this at all.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

More stuff, same Thursday

Just a couple of things:

I am wearing a bright, lime-green top and have on long, dangly earrings in the same color (just about shoulder-length earrings). Lately, I seem to have discovered color and lost inhibitions along those same lines. I bought these earrings (and a coupla other pairs) at a chain called Charming Charlies. What a fun store to browse through! The costume jewelry is SO fun, so inexpensive... each pair of earrings that I bought, was only $5. And it makes me feel bubbly when I wear one of these funky pairs of earrings.

Last night, after work, I went to a wine-and-food pairing put on by one of the HEB grocery stores in my suburban area. I know several of the people who work there, especially those at the Cooking Connection. And also the store's wine steward. The Cooking Connection is where they offer recipes and samples of food prepared with store specials of the week, whether it be meat, fish, spices, etc.It was a lot of fun, and I was surprised to see a woman come into the room who was from my church. In fact, when we joined this church 10 years ago, the church paired us up with someone, and she was our "sponsor". Anyway, she lost her husband years and years ago... and well, I don't want to go on and on.

So it was fun to have someone to talk with, compare wine favorites with, etc. I think we were the last two people to leave the room, when the evening was drawing down. Good times - great laughter! I wasn't too fond of her when we met her years ago, and that mostly stemmed from the fact that she smelled like a walking cigarette. I smoked in my late teens and early 20's, then quit. My late spouse had oral cancer years ago, and it was caught in time. But you and I know the biggest contributing factor for oral cancer: tobacco use. So maybe you can understand my dislike for smokers. J, the woman I sat with last night, quit smoking years ago, and now I find that she has a fun personality.

Tonight, at the other HEB in my area, I am going to a wine-tasting night. They don't have a full-blown food menu with this one, but do offer some cheese, fruit, bread to try to keep us half-way sober (well, that is how I interpret that). And I know the wine steward at this store, too, and also E, the woman who is kind of a steward-in-training. E makes me laugh, and that is a GOOD thing!

So - two nights where I don't have to cook. Great! And where I can be amongst other people while eating and sipping - even better. Eating alone gets to be the pits, folks, don't let anybody kid you on this. I mean, I used to enjoy trying to squeeze in "me" time (sometimes I felt like we had too much together time). But when the choice isn't there, it gets old in a hurry.

That's the summary. Maybe the weekend will produce something worthy of blogging about. And I can tell you what happened in probate court, where I'll be on Monday, as the lawyer presents the handwritten will to the judge. My two friends from Wimberley are graciously coming back into Houston to swear to Greg's handwriting, bless them both. I hope I can be as good a friend to them through the years, as they have been to me.

Free blog makeover

Thanks to One Breath at a Time for mentioning this: visit this site to get entered for a free blog makeover! Hey, it's worth a shot - plus your odds on this one are SO much better than winning the lotto!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Quick update

Just to let you all know that I am alive and (fairly) well (if you don't count my mental health!)...

Took last week as a "vacation" from work. And that was interrupted by jury duty - the jury duty from Hell, as it turned out. Details later.

Got a bit done for packing up, and after all, that was my intent. So much house to pack up, and getting down to the nitty gritty crap that does take time to go through. Decided that I just did NOT have the time to parse thru all the vinyl albums that my late spouse left for me to manage. Please take this comment in the humorous mode that I offer it: If he was not already dead, I would kill him! Yes, I have come far enough to say that and laugh about it. Who knew this journey could be accompanied by laughter and humor?

A friend of mine (yes, A, I am talking about you!) and I have a sort of "gallows" sense of humor about departed spouses. I think it is one of the reasons that we enjoy each others' company so much!

What was I talking about? Oh, right - the albums. There is a chain of stores (in Texas, not sure about other areas) called Halfprice Books. They buy used books, and also albums. I toted the seemingly unending volume of albums there, in two batches, one on Monday past, and the rest on Friday. There were enough albums to fill 7 - 9 produce crates (yes, they were stored in those wooden crates, the kind that peaches come into the stores in) pretty well. And I got the grand total of $275. Not a lot of coin, but the object was to NOT have to tote them back to MN with me. Plus, I really provided the staff with endless opportunities to make comments. For example: There was an old Rolling Stones album called Sticky Fingers (and I am NOT going there, folks). It was manufactured with an actual working zipper on the cover, and the staff at HPB said that they had never seen this album with the zipper still intact!

In the immortal words of Rod Stewart - Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? (the vehicle, folks!)

Got myself some new - new to ME - wheels. Replaced my '97 Honda Accord with a newer '06 Toyota Rav4. I just LOVE this car - I find myself making up little errands that I just have to run, just to get behind the wheel of this beautiful blue baby. I got a really good deal on it - it was a leased vehicle, recently returned, had only 28K miles on it. Upholstery and so on appears to be in good condition. Lotsa room in the cargo area, which will be great when Nancy drives her blue baby up to MN in July. I wish I was hitting the road NOW.

Jury duty - Nancy probably should have been a no-show for this one on Tuesday. Got a notice that tells you to phone after 5 pm the night before your scheduled jury date. And of course the message told me (and others) to report the next morning before 8:30 am. Okay. Showed up, parked the car, checked in. They didn't get rolling until around 9. Then a bailiff talked, the judge talked and we saw a film about doing our civic duty. Cripes, just like a civic class back in high school. We were told that they needed folks for 3, maybe 4 juries. Around about 10 or 10:30, 60 names were called and mine was one of them. We lined up in numerical order (as called) and played follow the leader from the jury assembly building to the court house. Regressed from high school to grade school, now. Except where we had to have our carry-on (oops, this was NOT an airport), er, carry-IN stuff scanned. We went into a courtroom, where more stuff was said (blah, blah, blah). The judge explained that we could go right into the voir dire (where they ask the prospective jury members various questions) or we could go to lunch and start after lunch. So we ended up with an hour-and-a-half lunch break in this pretty small town. Went to a Mexican restaurant that I had been to before, when I had been on the jury for a child molestation case. And ate. And then called my sis and we wasted some time just chatting.

Back in the courtroom. Turned out that this was the 3rd DUI charge against a guy in his early 40's. So he had opted for a jury trial, in the hopes (I am guessing) of keeping his job and so on, as opposed to the mandatory jail time that a "third strike" carries and the job loss that would follow. All I can tell you is that almost everyone in that courtroom had pretty strong feelings, one way or another. I think I could have been an impartial juror, even given my spouse's drinking. You are supposed to decide, based on the evidence presented, after all. From 1:15 until about 4:30 or 5, questions were asked, both by the lawyers and by the 60 potential jurists. Then they sent us up to the 3rd floor to an empty courtroom. And then small groups were summoned: jurors number 2, 3 and 7 (example). They would go down the elevator, and eventually would return to our little queue of antsy waitees. (My word, probably not proper at all - but this IS my blog.) Yes, I took my turn in the rounds of additional questions. Around 7:15 or so, we were summoned back to the courtroom. And 12 names were announced, letting the rest of us leave at 7:30. Long, long day. Eleven hours.

Remember that we were told that there was a need for 3, maybe 4 juries? One of the women in our group of 60, had a friend who was waiting for jury selection, too. And we found out that they let ALL of the rest of the remaining people leave, about 5 minutes after we walked over to the courthouse. Damn.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Nancy's social life

Well, in the mode of making new friends: Nancy went to a gathering where she knew absolutely NOBODY. Okay, she kinda/sorta knew the hostess. And she had met this hostess, K, on Friday night (yes, only 2 days previous). But... always willing and wanting to make new friends, so what the hell.

K was a lot of fun. Met her Friday night thru I, a crazy friend that Nancy made a few weeks before this, when I was a temp where Nancy works. I is a bit younger than Nancy, but we had a lot in common. And when I invited Nancy to go out with K on Friday night, the answer was YES. And then the 3 of us split a bottle of wine, and had some dinner, too. Then K went home to bathe her dogs. Okay, I don't have dogs, so I guess I really don't understand the devotion there... Still, K seemed like a fun person, too. She reminded I about her open house (for her and the home that she moved into, in November), and she also invited me. And Nancy had nothing to lose, and maybe new "friends" to gain, with this party. So, yes, Nancy went and knew NO ONE except K (my "old" friend of a day plus). And she had a good time, since she was NOT shy and and loved to talk with folks and draw them out.

In fact, in my past, I have gotten myself in trouble by chatting up folks. Case that comes to mind: "chatting" with a deaf guy at a party, who was totally uncomfortable, since no one was making any attempt to "talk" with him. Once I determined that he was deaf, I found paper and we conversed by writing. Nice guy - but no chemistry there, and I sorta remember an awkward goodbye. Way, way many years ago. Before I was married for the first time - and I was 20 for that marriage. But people DO like it, when you start asking about their lives, their experiences.

Anyway... what else happened this weekend?

As mentioned, I went out with I and K on Friday night. Fun night. And - wonder of wonders - we had some heavy rains that evening. In fact, I drove thru some blinding rain (no big surprise here in Houston) and it made me extra cautious. Lately, I have been re-visiting my youth, and I am trying to put the clamps on myself! But it is NOT easy, sometimes.

But the best news: I have a "new" (to me) car! It is an '06 Toyota Rav4. Has only 28,000 on it (it was a lease car that was returned at the end of the lease), and I LOVE the looks of it! Cool color (Toyota calls is Nautical Blue - hey, sailor!), is the Limited (pricier) model with a sunroof and some other bells and whistles. So now I have a good baby SUV to drive up north this summer (and back to TX after I retire) with some good cargo-carrying room. I paid cash for it, and I am SO happy with it. Since my Honda Accord was a '97, I only hope to get several good years with the newest addition to my family.

Oh - and I will be spending Memorial Weekend (and other days) with my sis. We will have some "girl time" together while she cares for the grandsons in a northern St. Paul suburb. It was kinda last-minute-y, so a little costlier, but it will be fun. I will probably look for a townhome to lease in that same suburb. Do not want to commit to buying anything, but want to see what is out there.

I mailed a sympathy card and a nice note, to an old boyfriend. He and I dated over 20 years ago. He has a lot of trouble with authority, so that hasn't worked so well for him (employment-wise) over the years. His mother is, plain and simple, a B____. Lots of others share this judgement. Anyway, his mother tapped him to be the full-time caregiver for his dad, who just died of Alzheimer's. I hesitated to write to him (did not want to have him think I was contacting him for anything other than offering my condolences). But then I remembered the nice note he had sent me, following my first heart surgery (yes, I was married by then). So I thought... what the heck, and I wrote from my heart.

Anyway, that encompasses Miss Nancy's weekend. Boring, and a little stupid. Gotta let my hair down sometime. Not proud of all that was done, but second childhood is a time of adjustments. It sure was, the first time around.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Of juries and painters and other things...

So... ah, nothing of great importance to relate.

Painter has been out and started on pressure-washing the exterior. He also did the front walk - looks BRAND NEW - and started on the back patio. He wants to seal the concrete on the patio so that it will STAY lookin' good, at least for a while. Although I have been on the back burner when his personal conflicts arise, he has been so good to me in doing extra things, for NO extra money. L has been a great painter, and more importantly, a very good friend. He works in the maintenance dept of a very large cancer center here, and there is to be a 10% reduction in the work force soon. He said that if that does happen, he will just go into business full-time for himself.

I will again try to make some progress in the Great House Pick Up / Throw Out Campaign. Will be taking next week off and am determined to have this house ready for the realtor (and thus, the contract!) if everyone shows up and everything gets accomplished in that week. So y'all pray for me - I need prayers that tell me to "Focus, girl, focus!" The end of the tunnel has a light that is calling me, and I want to get OUT of the tunnel!

Also, I am tentatively scheduled for jury duty next week. This county is much smaller than Harris County (where the city of Houston is), so less crime means that you can call the night before your scheduled jury duty and see if you will need to even show up. Greg got a "by" on his first (and only) jury summons here. Not me. I not only had to show up - I got selected for a criminal case. Not nice to hear the evidence, either - grandfather charged in the molestation of his own granddaughter.

I have never shirked my jury summons, when one arrives. Until 10 years ago, we resided in Harris County and both had to show up for those "cattle calls" where you fill up a large Jury Assembly Room (yes, a large, movie-theatre sized room where you plop down and wait to see if your number is called). I think I actually served on at least two juries during that time (and was the Foreman or Foreperson on one). True story: I had a red suit that I was wearing that day, and a gay guy on that same jury PUSHED me to be chosen as the Fore-whatever. It was the suit that did it, I know it! I also served a 3-month term on a grand jury. The way that system works in Texas, is that a district attorney or assistant district attorney can present evidence to a grand jury, to see if that evidence warrants the pursuit of charges against that person. So, in a way, it is the way that law enforcement makes the citizens carry part of the burden in the criminal justice system.

As rookies in the grand jury process, we slowly made our way through that first day. Now understand, Harris County is a BIG urban area and has countless crimes committed daily. So in the 3-month term that I sat on a grand jury, there were a total of FIVE grand juries "sitting", simultaneously. For example - one group might meet on a Monday and Wednesday, another on Monday and Thursday, another on Tuesday and Thursday, and so on. So on each day of the week, there were always 2 juries working.

Once we "warmed up" to the process, we went through about 70 cases a day. I am not exaggerating, folks - 70. Really, in most cases it was cut and dried: the ADA (asst. district att'y) would basically trot out the evidence and we would return (usually) the "true bill" - evidence was enough for charges to be brought, or "no true bill". Very, very rarely did we NOT agree and vote "true bill". I remember one time when we did NOT vote that way - and from then on, we were not the Chosen Ones. At least that is the conclusion that we came to. On two occasions, we had an entire day devoted to Sex Crimes against Children. Oh - these were so tough to go through, and believe me, we did NOT listen to 70 cases on those days. And let me tell y'all this: these crimes were committed by people who KNEW these children - no stranger-rape or anything like that. Step-parents, grandparents, mommy's boyfriend, father of the child's friend, and so on.

I think the fact that I served on a grand jury, gets me right up there on the Chosen list when jury members are selected during the voir dire. You know: where they ask you questions such as has any family member been in an auto accident, or has any family member had to sue for damages, etc. I think I could stand up and scream, "Hang the bastard!" in a traffic court case, and I would still be selected. I'm just sayin', is all.

I gave my notice at work - did I already mention that? - for my retirement. My last day to have to show up here, is June 25th, and I will get paychecks until close to the end of November. So if the house does not sell right away, I can still make the mortgage payments and so on, without eating up all my retirement income. Whew!

So, like I said, not much happenin'. My bladder says it needs to visit the loo, so I'll close (QUICKLY!). 'Bye.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

And it happens to me...

So, this weekend was supposed to be a good one for me. I took the week off (vacation) to concentrate on tasks that needed to get done. My friends from the Hill Country, D & T, drove into town Wed. night to help me pack up some things to put into storage, plus offer the use of their Expedition to haul stuff to the storage unit and to Goodwill and a resale shop, too. We visited on Thursday for a bit, went to work on packing stuff, and the hubby, T, attacked my desktop computer. He didn't like the various things that had self-loaded and was determined to clean it up.

Well, the upshot of all of that was that, in the middle of all of this, the motherboard crapped out. Fried, fizzled, what-have-you. Now, I had intended to move to a notebook (or laptop) after I moved to MN. Instead, this forced the issue. But it took valuable time away from the packing- and boxing-up that D & I were going to do.

And now I am the proud-but-impoverished (well not really) owner of a new notebook. It's an HP dv6-1030us model. Doesn't mean a damned thing to me, but hey, I can still connect with the rest of the world! I can use the internet again - woo-woo!

My girlfriend, D, is SO good at kicking ass - and she pushed me and pushed me and we really DID get quite a bit accomplished, for packing and clearing. One room upstairs is entirely cleaned out!

Good news and bad, about the folks who have been or are scheduled to work on this house. The painter finally phoned. His father took ill, and while he was at his dad's, his dad's brother died. Unfortunately, the painter left his cell phone at his workplace, in his haste to get to his dad. He was back here on Wed to do some additional touch-up. And nice guy that he is, he offered to take my fertilizer (really, it's a weed-and-feed) and spread it around my lawn. Rain was forecast, so the timing was good.

A guy was scheduled to come to my house today and give me an estimate on having the carpet stretched in a few rooms, plus doing carpet repair in the room that was just cleared out. But... a few minutes after 8 am, the carpet company phoned, apologized, and said that this fellow's child was sick. So would I mind re-scheduling for next weekend? I'm sure that this was just an unfortunate thing that happened, so we'll see if he can make it next Saturday.

We thought it would rain yesterday - it looked threatening most of the day - and it finally did rain towards evening. Nothing heavy - sort of a good soaker rain. But today, the clouds just opened up. Water was running like a small creek in the depressions that were designed into our landscapes, between my neighbors' houses (on both sides of me) and my yard. D & T were heading back to their home, and it was raining fairly well when they packed up and left. But I talked to them, and they were just taking it slow. And had finally been able to put their wiper blades on intermittent! I have driven in Houston using the highest speed on the blades, and it has STILL not been enough. For a period of time this afternoon, the water was lapping at the curb-high levels on my street, as it was raining too fast for the ground to absorb it all.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Disappearing painter?

I have NO business at all, taking even a few moments to post this.

I am very worried about L G, the very good, very reliable guy who is painting the inside of my house (almost done) and will also be doing the exterior painting. He seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.

My only hope is that he is SO engrossed in a family crisis, that he cannot find time to return any phone messages.

I have left him several messages on the cell # that he uses for business purposes, and none have been returned. This morning I finally found a home # that Greg had for L and his wife P. Phoned that one and also left a message.

Little background: L's mother-in-law lives with him and his wife P. M-I-L has cancer and it recently was diagnosed as moving into her bones. L and P drove the M-I-L back to Lousiana to visit with family and friends - quite possibly a last visit. L was supposed to be here last Wednesday to resume the little bit of interior painting that was NOT finished - basically, a second coat on the (new) back door. Then he would be ready to move to the exterior. I spoke with him on Monday (I think) and he reiterated that he'd be here on Wednesday. And then nothing... just silence.

I only hope that he and P are okay. I just want to hear something from either of them. I hope that this crisis is with his M-I-L only.

That's all, folks. I am taking this week off work to get this house picked up, prior to putting it on the market (I hope) at the end of this week. Wish me luck - if I don't hear from L soon, I am really going to need it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thursday


Mom's wrist: Got a phone call from my sister yesterday. She related that my mother, age 81, had fallen and possibly broken her wrist - or the bone(s) just above the actual wrist. Mom is a regular walker, which we should be happy about, because her balance and stamina are pretty good, considering her age. Well, she was taking a little trek (few blocks from her apt.) and was only about a block from coming home when OOPS! down she went. A woman who was driving in that area saw her fall, and offered assistance, but good ol' Mom insisted that she could get home okay.

Whereupon, she phoned my sis and asked for a ride to the closest emergency room. The long and the short of it is, they splinted her wrist and are having her return this morning to see an orthopedic surgeon, to see if any surgery is required.

The good news is that this break is on her left wrist (she is right-handed), so while it will be an inconvenience, it will not require that someone cook for her, etc.

Funeral services: I have decided to go to the funeral of the co-worker who was murdered last Friday. Several of the staff are going, Port-wide. In fact, so many will attend that an e-mail went out to the entire Port, reminding all that phone coverage must be maintained in each dept. I just feel so strongly about the family and that they need to see how Lucinda's co-workers valued her. This will be a Catholic service, so I am guessing a full mass will ensue. I think the last time I was at a Catholic mass was for my brother-in-law's funeral in March of '02, just before Easter that year. The church was jam-packed for his services, as was the funeral home the night before, during visitation and the rosary. I expect that this funeral will be similarly heavily-attended. My brother-in-law was in his early 50's; Lucinda was only age 34. Death touches us, our families, our acquaintances, when we least expect it - and age is NOT a factor, as we know. We all expect to live into old age and then possibly go by heart attack, stroke or whatever. But the Big Guy upstairs has His own plan...

After the services, finishing this on Friday. As expected, the church was pretty well-filled. I'm guessing that about 25% were from the Port. I just felt like I had to go. I drove two other co-workers. I had expected this to be more difficult for me, since the last funeral that I attended, was for Greg. Maybe the circumstances, and the fact that she was not a really close friend/co-worker, helped some. However, I did NOT parade past the open casket. I was NOT ready for that, having encountered death up-close-and-personal less than a year ago. So maybe there was an effect on me...

There were many police attending the service. I heard from a co-worker that either her dad or step-dad had been a Houston cop. Plus a handful of Metro (Transit) cops were there, too. Her three kids looked stunned, unemotional. I can't imagine what they are going through. I seem to be having trouble commenting on this whole scene, so perhaps I had best just let it go. Tough, tough, thing to even see from the sidelines.

Mom: sis brought her back to the doc, as instructed. The plan now is to try to do a closed reduction (no surgical opening) - basically, they will attempt to re-set the radius and ulna (probably with at least local anesthesia) without cutting her open. From what my sis described, in the process of falling and then getting herself back up again, my mother sort of round up the tiny bones in her wrist. This reduction is planned for this coming Tuesday.

Since I am finishing this up on Sunday morning, y'all will have to excuse me while I go and have a tiny portion of coffee (I'm really not supposed to have caffeine) plus the leftover half of a pecan-caramel roll waiting for me. I may post again later today.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bits and Pieces

Not a great deal to tell or explain or mention, so this will be just what the title says: bits and pieces.

Loss at work: My place of employment was in a somber mood yesterday morning. A co-worker -- although not in my dept. -- was murdered on Friday. She was only 34, a smiling young woman who did her job well, greeted everyone and had a winning personality. Her life was taken by her husband, who stabbed her and left her to bleed to death. According to the news, they had "marital difficulties". Most of her co-workers were unaware that she had any problems at home, as she displayed that upbeat look. I didn't know her very well, but knew who she was. I was in that department yesterday morning, and there were many tears, and many hugs being given and being welcomed. My employer is offering grief counseling (yes, professional counseling) for those who are requesting it. A very nice gesture, and one that I have not seen being offered before.

I am coming to the conclusion that I will definitely miss (most of) my co-workers, once I retire. They have been an extended family to me over the years, and definitely were there for me when Greg died. I was so shocked, so amazed at the number of them who drove out for the services last May. When I expressed this feeling to one of them, her explanation was, "Well, we're your family, too." And I am talking about co-workers from my own department and many from other depts. that I have met and worked with over the years. Of various ethnic backgrounds and colors. It made no difference that my speech has a different accent than theirs (although I have been here nearly 25 years, I still carry that "oot" and "aboot", I am told, when others pronounce it "out" and "about"). We are there for each other, we celebrate the joys, we cry over the sad times. Just like your own families do.

What brought me to the above frame of mind, was receiving the e-mail notification of Lucinda's services on Thursday. I think that her co-workers will rally FOR her, even though she is the one who is deceased. And I hope that maybe her 15-year-old daughter (oldest child) will remember that her mother's co-workers thought enough of her to go to the funeral and maybe tell that daughter or another family member how much she was liked, was loved. It would be nice for her children to have that legacy, not only the circumstances surrounding their mother's death and their father's arrest. Because they will need every strength available to them, to carry on without either parent in their lives.

Fajitas: We had a birthday party at work on Thursday. For several years now, we have limited a birthday party for an employee to only mark a decade: 40, 50, etc. In the years before this, we would do a party for every employee's birthday, collecting money for (at a minimum) a cake and a few decorations. It always fell to the women in the dept. to get the ball rolling, and the fair gender (does anyone use THAT phrase anymore?) did most if not ALL of the work: ordering, buying, set up and clean up. Ugh. That's when we shifted to the decade-only birthday policy.

So... I digress. But we (under new management - howdya like THAT phrase?) are trying to build up morale in this dept. It has been sadly lacking for many years, as any attempt we made at planning or having fun, has been repeatedly shut down. But our new manager, R, had made it plain that he will attempt to get morale going, plan fun things, etc. Unfortunately, too late for me, but I applaud his efforts and the direction that he is trying to take this dept. in.


Thus - the party. We have 3 decade birthdays this year, and in an effort to spread the work around, a co-worker, D, organized us into 3 groups. So each group will be responsible for 1 of these birthdays. My group was the first one, and (unfortunately) through a series of unplanned events, the work mostly fell to me. One of the co-workers in the group had originally been tasked with tracking down prices for the caterers. And she had to miss a lot of work recently, thus - tah-dah - yours truly had to run with the ball (any of you who has seen me try ANYTHING athletic will surely laugh at this!). But we got it done, even though our original group of 7 had now shrunk to 3: 2 were on vacation, 1 was ill, and another was working off-site. So our committee ended up being: me, G - who took on the task of designing and ordering/delivering the cake, and the new manager, R. Several of the other co-workers were a big help and assisted with setting up (and more importantly, clearing up!). We had a fajita lunch, excellent food, lots of it, and there was enough to use for lunch again the next day. Yum! The only thing missing was beer and margaritas.

The cake: The birthday "boy" is in the networking group, and thus the cake has a relevant design. The wording reads, "2009-03-26 12:00:01:ERROR=BBUCKLEY-50.00-HAPPY_BIRTHDAY". Guess you have to be a techie, a geek, a nerd to "get it".


Progress at the house: more stuff is GONE. Can I hear an AMEN? The late Mister had stashed leftover bricks (from the building of our house) in one portion of the garage. Quite a few bricks, of course, and they were piled in an area where lots of stuff had to be moved, to even get to them. So... good neighbors again: my next-door neighbor, B, has 3 grown kids. Her son AJ was interested in the bricks. He has a very muddy portion of his yard where grass just will not grow. So his short-term (free) solution is to put the bricks down and (hopefully) prevent their dogs from getting into the mud and tracking it all over the place. B's brother T (who got my tree removed from the front yard) helped AJ load the bricks up - and they are OUT of there!

I put the old chandelier (ugly one that the builder had installed in the dining room) out with the garbage on Saturday. And before the trash was picked up, someone helped themself to it. Great! I don't care - it's gone, and hopefully it will grace someone else's house for years.

New TV installed: again, neighbor B's family to the rescue. Her son-in-law, A, had once worked at a place that installed entertainment systems, surround-sounds, etc. And she asked if he could hook all of my audio, new tv, and surround-sound together. God bless him - he put in quite a bit of time on Saturday, then gave me a shopping list. I purchased some various cables plus speaker wire, he returned on Sunday, and labored some more. I offered to pay him but he refused $$. So I gave him a bottle of red wine (his wife's favorite) and he did take that. So, now my new 37" tv is operating!

Free dinner: neighbor B insisted that I take leftovers from their Sunday dinner, so I had chicken and dumplings, mixed veggies, and peach cobbler. Such a good neighbor, and what a nice treat!

That's all of the bits and pieces that I could round up, folks. Why does this week seem so long, and it is only Tuesday?!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The L-word

I have been recently e-mailing with an internet friend - we connected through each other's blogs. And have also exchanged off-blog e-mails, since we have some circumstances in common.

Anyway, we had a discussion about being the first to say the L-word. (Just typing this in, makes me realize how we shy away from that word at all!) I think, in many relationships, some of which were long-term, some not, I only ONCE said "I love you" first - and that was over 40 years ago!

Now, I don't know about you, but my heart is usually in WAY over its head (okay, I know that is a bad phrase, but you know what I mean here), before I can muster up the words. Sometimes it is too late, by the time I have even considered blurting it out. And I am not very liberal in using the phrase, let me tell you. After you have said it, there is NO retrieving it. In for a penny, in for a pound. (Okay, I'm not sure what THAT means, either.)

So I thought I would throw this out there for the readers (yes, BOTH of you). What has been your own experience, in saying and/or hearing "I love you?" for the first time, with someone you are drawn to? And how did this phrase affect the relationship, after it was said out loud?

That's it. After these many lengthy posts, be grateful that I can actually post a short-y version!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

One Flaw in Women


This was sent to me by a co-worker, and it is SO true...

For all the women who read my blog... dedicated to you.


One Flaw In Women

Women have strengths that amaze men.
They bear hardships and they carry burdens,
but they hold happiness, love and joy.

They smile when they want to scream.
They sing when they want to cry.
They cry when they are happy
and laugh when they are nervous.

They fight for what they believe in.
They stand up to injustice.
They don't take "no" for an answer
when they believe there is a better solution.

They go without so their family can have.
They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.
They love unconditionally.

They cry when their children excel
and cheer when their friends get awards.
They are happy when they hear about
a birth or a wedding..
Their hearts break when a friend dies.
They grieve at the loss of a family member,
yet they are strong when they
think there is no strength left.
They know that a hug and a kiss
can heal a broken heart.

Women come in all shapes, sizes and colors.
They'll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail you
to show how much they care about you.

The heart of a woman is what
makes the world keep turning.
They bring joy, hope and love.
They have compassion and ideas.
They give moral support to their
family and friends.
Women have vital things to say
and everything to give.

HOWEVER, IF THERE IS ONE FLAW IN WOMEN,
IT IS THAT THEY FORGET THEIR WORTH.



That last line really says it all.