Saturday, July 30, 2005

New Friends & Happy Birthday

Ever meet someone and it seems like you've been friends for a long time?
One such new friend for me is STB, who I met through a friend of his who just happens to be a relative of mine.

In the past several months we have emailed and chatted. Having similar political points of view and a mutual connection, we have clicked as they say. I am enjoying the process of getting to know my new friend via the internet. This week I learned that today is his birthday. In honor of this milestone, I'd like to offer my well wishes.

Happy Birthday STB!
And MANY more!

Friday, July 29, 2005


I have ants.
There I said it, I have ants.
Those insy, tiny, itty ,bitty sugar ants.

First they appeared out of nowhere in the kitchen. It was difficult to tell where they were actually entering as they were not traveling in a herd at first. Off to Home Depot for some Terro which is really just sugar syrup with ant poison in it. I've used it before and it worked. Place a nickel sized dollop of the stuff on a piece of the box that tears off for the purpose and place the button where you see the ants. Theory is, the ants on the counter you can see take little doggie bags of the stuff to their nest and put it in the Kool Aid of the ants you can't see and presto chango, all die. No more ants. You throw away the cardboard buttons and that's that. That's sort of the way they explain it on the box anyway.

So I armed my kitchen with little ant poison buttons but the ants who were on the counter didn't bother with the doggie bags. Oh no, instead they had a banquet inviting thousands of their friends and family. There they were, line dancing from one end of my counter to the other. Next day, they invited everyone back for left overs. The following day, no ants. Really. No ants. Saints be praised, it works!

Turns out, the queen ant has Map Quest and they all relocated to my master bathroom. That's clear around the other side of the house but somehow the word has spread and the whole clan was back. Naturally, when they first appeared I let loose an evil laugh and pulled out the Terro once again. Ant poison buttons were placed on the sink and in the window where they were coming in from outside. Within hours the big party was on. Next morning they were still drinking up the poison. Confident they would be gone within 24 hours I pretended not to notice them. But alas, this time the results are very different.

It's been several days now and they still won't die. I've replaced my buttons so many times I am now cutting up other boxes to use. Bobby took his trusty industrial strength bug killer deluxe spray outside and soaked the entire area around the bathroom window and along the foundation. We sprayed inside too but still they come. Perhaps they have developed an antidote or a vaccine or something. All I know for sure is these little buggers are harder to get rid of than squirrels on a bird feeder. My weekend project this.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Last week we traveled. I could site chapter and verse about waiting in line and rude, inconsiderate people. But I won't. I set my alarm for 3:45 AM so we could arrive at the Tampa airport by 5 for our 6:50 departure. I was tired and maybe a little grumpy. OK, a lot grumpy. Flying Southwest with no seat assignment adds a whole new element to air travel that I don't like. No non-stops available so we did everything twice.

While waiting in line at the gate in Tampa, I watched a pretty young mother escorting her two little boys to the gate where they would fly alone... perhaps to see their dad or grandparents. She was probably in her 20's or maybe early 30's but she looked like she was in high school. Her lovely blond hair pulled back in a neat bun. I don't think she had on make up. She was petite and naturally pretty. I watched as she lovingly and bravely interacted with her children remembering when my girls were little and I had to send them off to visit their father for the summer. She had a loving smile which she offered freely. When it was time, she gave them each a kiss and hug then turned her precious cargo over to the Southwest attendants. She watched as the boys walked down to the plane. When they were out of sight she put her fingers to her lips as if to stifle the emotion but tears trickled down each cheek nonetheless. The rest of the pre-boarding passengers were boarding when she realized she had the cartridges to the Game Boy. A family waiting their turn to board offered to deliver them to the boys. She smiled again and thanked them.

I felt guilty for staring, like I was intruding in her private moments but I couldn't help it. She intrigued me. Younger than my own children. Parting with her babies. My chest was heavy and my heart was in my throat when she walked away from the gate area. I had been watching them since we entered the tram from the main terminal. I noticed her not because she was a mom with two kids to send on their way but because she had on a uniform. I don't know what service branch but assume Air Force as McDill is right here in Tampa. This pretty little thing had on camouflage and combat boots. Is she sending children to visit relatives for a fun summer vacation or is she sending her children to be kept safe because she must go somewhere awful like Iraq? I wanted to sob. I can't get her off my mind. This is real, this is now. I wish the president or his wife had been there to see what I did. It tears at my gut to type the words. Is she safe tonight? Will she see her children again? Has she been sent somewhere to defend me? Is there no way to stop this? I feel helpless and sad that this has to happen at all. ::sigh::

I am not good at prayer but in my own way I pray she is safe and home in Tampa missing her kids while they visit their Grandmother and not in Iraq adjusting the velcro straps on her bulletproof vest.

Friday, July 15, 2005

More Ribbons

Interestingly enough, in today's email I received a political ezine article about those yellow ribbon car magnets. It also included a link to a web site where I could order a new style yellow ribbon magnet. It is "tied" differently than the current version and reads:
"Recall our Troops"

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Bumper Stickers

On my way home from the Tampa airport this afternoon, I found myself following an interestingly adorned vehicle. The car was one of those small Korean numbers. A KIA Rio I think. The driver's head was barely visible over the top of the headrest. While waiting for a stop light I had the opportunity to read the many assorted stickers attached to his trunk and back bumper.

There was the ever popular "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbon shaped magnet... very faded. (I hate those.) Another ribbon magnet with a reference to MIA/POW's. A flag furled bumper sticker proudly stating "United We Stand!" Plus, a few other stickers with patriotic themes.

Sort of stuck on the trunk in a spot all by itself there was a good sized sticker depicting the Ten Commandments, tablets and all. On the bumper directly below a camouflage print sticker read:

"Terrorists: Wanted, Dead or Alive.
Preferably Dead!!! "

Oh the interesting things we see.
'Nuf said.

Harry Potter

I must confess, I am one of those adult Harry Potter fans. The first book was read in secret. Before it was THE book to read. Before it was on the best seller list. Before JK Rowling appeared on any talk shows. In fact, she was a single welfare mother before Harry's success. I'd heard about it, don't remember where, and saw it on the sales table at Sam's. We were going on a road trip so I bought a copy to read in the van. Me reading a children's book, not that unusual, but this was a "boy's" children's book. WRONG!

Seriously, forget all the hype, JK Rowling has a wondrous imagination. As I read "Sorcerers Stone," it was as if a movie was playing in my head. The words flowed vividly and swiftly. Made up words that I managed to understand. Terms that made no sense made perfect sense as she wrote them. An amazingly adult story and yet designed for children. I was hooked.

That road trip was to visit my in-laws in Virginia. One of my husband's cousins has three lovely daughters. All quite bright, home schooled, avid readers. I offered my book and gushed about the fabulous presentation. Their mother had not heard of the book and asked about the story. When she heard the words wizard and magic she politely said no thank you, they don't read books like THAT. I wasn't picking up what she was putting down but dropped the subject nonetheless. Later I asked another family member why she wouldn't let her girls read my book. Witchcraft is the work of the devil, I was told, and so my book was evil. I was shocked but they are Southern Baptist so figured it was something a Methodist would never understand.

By book two, "Chamber of Secrets," the frenzy was in full swing and I was one of those people who pre-ordered. Each book even better than the one before it. More, I wanted more. The movies, though condensed versions of the story, represent the books quite well. The images on the big screen were just like the ones that played in my head reading that first book. Another trip to Virginia and the word on the street was that the church my in-laws attended had even had a sermon denouncing Harry, his professors and friends! The family was firmly against any of their children reading the stories and yet not one adult had read the book to form their own opinion. Neither had the minister, and though a very nice man, he should have at least read the book instead of condemning it sight unseen. I was incensed and felt under attack because I was a Potter fan. SINNER! Is the Wizard of Oz evil? Star Wars? They are both based on the old good vs evil theme same as Harry Potter.

Today I read on line that though the Vatican previously appeared to approve the new Harry Potter book, the current Pope has written a couple of letters supporting a German writer who's done a book condemning the stories. It seems the Pope wrote to this person, "... the Harry Potter books subtly seduce young readers and "distort Christianity in the soul" before it can develop properly, according to comments attributed to him."

Ya think the Pope has read any of the books written by this most talented author? I am just thrilled that she's making a TON of money for it! She's singlehandedly gotten this generation of kids all over the world reading again. And, reading BIG books full of wonderful words to boot. I say, good for her. Enjoy your money and your fame JK, you've earned it and I can hardly wait for my next installment coming out Saturday!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Fun photo

I saw this image on line and can't resist sharing it. Hope it's not copyrighted or something! I realize it is a campaign sign for "W" but think this improved version would work well for Jeb! Enjoy.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Here in Florida we have weather... lots of weather. This week we have been preparing for another hurricane. Our area was thankfully spared the major brunt of this storm. But we can't take anything for granted, some of the worst damage I've seen has been from a no name storm. So we ready and hope it's not necessary.

Even if a hurricane isn't headed directly for us, it can get close enough to create other serious problems. This is what Dennis the Menace has done. We have had rain for days. Hard rains at times so there is flooding in some areas. Gusty winds and tornadoes have also spawned so there are those ramifications. Minor in comparison to a direct hit by a category 4 hurricane. However, if it's your car or bedroom under the fallen tree you might not think it quite so minor.

Tornadoes really scare me because they are so unpredictable. Having grown up in North Central Missouri and having lived in Florida for the past 23 years, I have nothing but respect for tornadoes. Seeing first hand the damage they can do will give you religion in a hurry! A tornado can take the house and leave the attached garage. Uproot a massive 200 year old oak tree. Drive straw into the side of a barn like nails. Remove a cow from a pasture and safely deposit her on another farm. Take every house in the neighborhood except one or turn everything for miles and miles into match sticks. When conditions are ripe, they strike, Every tornado I have ever seen has emerged from a calm greenish sky. It's an eery color of green and yes, there is always that calm before the storm. I don't care where you live, if you've seen a tornado or it's aftermath you will never forget it.

In the mid-west we had a siren that sounded if a tornado had been sited in the area. It was really the same as the fire whistle when the one and only fire truck left the station but we could hear it around town and we knew to take cover. With today's technology, the local TV station's weather forecast serves the same purpose. When conditions are right I watch to see if there has been a watch or warning issued. The difference every place I have ever lived is that a WATCH means the conditions are just right for a tornado to develop. A WARNING means a tornado has been spotted in the area... either on radar or by the human eye. This is usually followed with directional information.

Our local NBC station has a weather man, Steve, who has decided to change those standard guidelines. He often interrupts regular programming or a banner appears to announce a tornado warning when in fact no funnel cloud has been spotted. This drives me nuts because it can cause viewers to start ignoring his warnings. I emailed Steve once and asked why he issues a warning when the condition warrants only a watch. His answer was condescending and terse. Basically informing me that growing up in the mid-west didn't make me an expert and that tornados in Florida are drastically different. (I'll bet he thinks rain is wetter here too.) What he said was something like he issues a warning when no tornado has been sited because he doesn't think the public knows the difference in the terms. Guess it's easier for him this way. Strange, the other stations all use the warning/watch terminology. I personally watch Denis Phillips on ABC. He knows the difference and is usually right on when it comes to hurricanes as well. Maybe Steve should consider watching Denis a too.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

A Law of Physics?

I have never been good at science or math so perhaps someone who is can enlighten me.

Today I cleaned out a file cabinet drawer. In doing so, I filled up two paper grocery bags with obsolete papers. One for shredding, one just trash. The part I don't understand is this. If I stack up the contents of the two bags it would probably be a couple of feet high. However, I only gained two inches of space in the file cabinet!!!

Is this some freak of nature or something? I understand 100 pounds of fertilizer won't fit in a 50 pound sack and this can probably be figured out using algebra, but I sure don't get it.


WARNING : Very long!

We returned last Sunday afternoon from what we swore would be our last NASCAR race in Daytona. We love the sport and with my sister visiting from Texas to tag along, it was to be an especially fun road trip. But we're fed up dealing with all the drunks that go along with attending these events. Don't get me wrong, I can consume my share of alcohol but not like I see at the races. It's sort of like Mardi Gras at a race track. But, unless a big sponsor wants to treat us to VIP passes and private suite facilities, we aren't going again.

If you're not familiar with the sport, there are two series, leagues as it were. The equivalent to major league baseball is the Nextel Cup Series (Cup). The Busch Series are NASCAR'S minors though Cup drivers can race in the Busch series and vice versa. OK, if you are completely without a clue here, NASCAR is not a sanctioned sport as it were. There is no commissioner or anything like that. The "powers that be" are the France family who started the sport and who own and operate most everything involved. What the Walton family is to Wal-Mart and Sams, the France family is to NASCAR. The France family business just happens to be a sport. Sort of a professional wrestling on wheels but the races aren't fixed in the general sense of the term. It gets complicated after that so I'll just leave the explaining alone.

In light of my husband's heart condition, for the first time we took advantage of some of the handicapped facilities. This was most appreciated in the parking lots. There are three handicapped lots provided and in the past they have been practically impossible to get into. You see, here in Florida almost everyone has a handicapped placard or knows someone who does. Some "borrow" grandmother's or whatever and take advantage of the privilege. Not this year. The Florida Highway Patrol started confiscating them if the proper placard owner wasn't actually in the car. HURRAY! Fines of up to $1000 will be issued to those trying to use stolen passes.

There are also golf carts provided to transport those who need assistance. We learned that many drunks believe their impairment is a handicap and get most annoyed when the volunteers who drive the golf carts won't give them a ride back to their truck where they left the BIG cooler. In the stands there is an elevator provided to those not able to climb the stairs. While waiting our turn on Saturday, a very inebriated young man came up to me and wanted to know just why we were in the line. (A heart attack provides an invisible handicap and we were often required to explain why we were asking for the assistance.) I told the young man to be careful what he wished for. If he had a heart attack, he too could avoid the long walks and stairs as well. He actually agreed and apologized.

NASCAR is the sport of red necks. I don't put myself in that category but then maybe I should. It does seem to draw a strange group of folks together. Lisa Marie Presley was the pre-race entertainment on Saturday evening. Donald Rumsfeld was on hand for the "gentleman start your engines" part and JoJo sang the National Anthem... and it rained buckets all weekend.

We went over on Thursday, stopping in Orlando at an outlet mall for some shopping and to find a hotel room. On to Daytona about noon to check out the "midway" and festivities. The midway is full of driver's souvenir trailers and there are also areas set up by the different sponsors promoting their wares. Lots of goodie bags and giveaways. Also lots of beer drinking which starts early in the day at these things.

Night races are especially interesting as those who indulge like to begin early and are pretty lit by race time. I have never been to a race where someone around us hasn't been passed out in their seat. Last weekend was no exception. After paying for event tickets for three days plus gas, hotel, souvenirs etc., I can't imagine drinking so much you don't watch the race or even remember it!

Friday night's Busch race wasn't quite as crowded as Saturday's Cup race. Word has it, when there is a big Cup race in Daytona there are a quarter of a million people at the track. That includes employees, cops, fans, crews... everyone... but 250 THOUSAND people all in one place is really something. Add alcohol and it becomes a circus where twenty ounce beers are "single servings." Bobby was the lucky one who got to sit next to the drunk chain smoker this year. This guy was probably in his late 50's but maybe not. His wife drank beer one right after the other but he brought in bourbon in a 2 liter Sprite bottle and drank that like Kool Aid.

When we left the handicapped parking lot for the last time Saturday - well, really Sunday morning - we witnessed an interesting altercation. The car that had been parked next to us all day had been patiently waiting in line for their turn to pull out into traffic. About the time they were creeping forward a green Blazer came out of nowhere and tried to cut them off. They didn't let them in but the Blazer driver tried to bully his way in by pulling up next to them still trying to make them yield their place in line. Just as the line moved again a mini-van from Ohio tried doing the same thing to the green Blazer. And so it began.

An fellow probably in his late 60's or so, jumped out of the Blazer's back seat and began pounding on Ohio's window cursing and screaming. Ohio rolled down his window and yelled back. Then Blazer guy walked in front of Ohio's mini-van and leaned against the front hood to keep him from moving into traffic. THEN a passenger got out of Ohio's back seat and started yelling at Blazer guy when yet another guy from the Blazer got out and also leaned against the van. I took a picture from our van and the other cars around applauded. Next thing you know there was pushing and shoving which didn't last long and everybody went back to their vehicles before anybody got hurt. The Blazer driver started letting in every other car in the parking lot to keep Ohio from moving. We pulled out of line and headed for a different exit with Ohio right behind us. The driver of the Blazer got out and walked away all mad and the bully in the back seat took over the driving duties. Later, as we inched our way down the street, the police were walking between vehicles clearly looking for someone. When we saw them pull Ohio over. Bobby rolled down the window and told the cop what we had seen. Apparently Blazer guy had called the police and reported he'd been assaulted! I told the cop the Blazer guy started it and if he had stayed in his vehicle none of it would have happened in the first place. Ahhhhhh.... alcohol is a wonderful thing.

The very first race I ever attended was the Daytona 500 in 2001. We were the guest of a sponsor for Bobby Labonte's car. We were provided beautiful accommodations in an Orlando hotel including lovely buffets for breakfast and dinner. We were given goodie bags full of racing merchandise. Shirts, jackets, hats, programs, etc. We were bussed in air conditioned private coaches to the race track and driven into the infield next to our private paddock suite right above pit road. Once there we were provided meals, drinks and snacks all day and radio scanners to listen to the drivers talk to their crews. Bobby Labonte and Joe Gibbs both spoke to our small group, answered questions then gladly obliged with photos and autographs for everyone. After the race we were once again driven back to our hotel for our nice dinner and a good night's sleep. Now THAT'S the way to go racing!!!

Blogging in a Timely Manor

I hate being behind my time but it seems lately that's my norm. When I am out and about blog ideas flow freely. GREAT comments pop into my head along with most insightful thoughts. By the time I start to put together something with actual words and thoughts it's old news or rambling. So many blog posts started but never finished. Perhaps brilliant but untimely. What's that old saying? "The faster I go the "behinder" I get." It's not really writers block, it's more like trying to cram too much life into one day.
Start again.