Worlds Collide in a Winter Wonderland

The last month or so have been an adventure.

Yes, sunny Florida girl, yours truly…was sent off to the “Great White North” for three weeks between December and January for new day job training. And by GWN, I mean Syracuse, New York. Okay, so I’m a Chicago transplant to Florida. You’d think that would mean I’m used to winters, right?

Wrong!

Jaunty Hat

Winter Selfie in Jaunty Hat

I haven’t lived in a state that has winter since 1999. I didn’t really even own a “real” coat anymore. My sister had to shop for one for me up in Chicago. Because, you know, Florida sells winter coats in the dead of summer, then gets rid of the inventory. True story.

So the first week up there I realized the weather was bi-polar. I arrived to 50 degree weather. The next morning it was in the 20’s. Here’s a picture of me in my jaunty winter hat.

Yes, that’s snow in the background. Not only did the weather drop 30 degrees overnight. It also snowed…but it was a light, slushy snow and the weather was back up into the 40’s the following day. Like I said. Bipolar weather.

Wegmans

Definitely NOT a Castle

But there were some good things about not being overly cold. It enabled us to explore.

And thus my first Wegmans experience was born. Sadly, apparently it was nothing like it should be. I was told Wegmans looks like a castle and is an amazing place to shop.

As a girl who has Publix supermarkets every couple of miles, I’m not easily impressed. I was told that this particular store was a bit old and not in a great neighborhood, so not to hold anything against the franchise. It was not a “true” Wegmans experience. The store was dingy, the employees weren’t overly helpful….so I’ll trust my friends and reserve judgement. Still, a cherry popped while in New York.

Rockin the Boys

Cowboy Plane Selfie

But despite the cold, both the final game of the season and the first playoff game for my ‘Boys were going on. That meant I wore my Cowboy love quite literally all over my body.

Of course, the first person to taunt me?

The TSA agent. Before I even left Sarasota.

When hubby asked how I responded to the “Go Lions!” taunt, I told him I kept my mouth shut.

Let’s be real for a second…. No matter how much one might love their home team, how likely is a person to respond with a return taunt when the person calling you out is the TSA agent at the gate of the airport? While you’re being patted down…

Even I’m not that brave. Not after a friend of mine practically got cavity searched for forgetting she had a bottled water in her carry on luggage. Nope.

Cold Selfie

Bundled Up Selfie

But finally, January came to Syracuse…and brought me back into the cold. This time, sis had come through with a cute winter coat and hand knit scarf. By then, I’d gotten smart enough to buy boots and gloves. At home, such articles are only purchased for fashion purposes.

These were meant to keep my feet warm and dry. Utilitarian. What a novel thought, right? Well, maybe if you’re from the south.

And I discovered that gloves have come a long way! Now they have these little spots on the finger tips that allow you to work digital devices like touch screens without taking the gloves off.

Who knew?

Well, I do now. And I own a pair. A girl’s gotta stay on the cutting edge of technology, don’tcha know.

WindySnow

This is both wind and snow

I confess. I watched my weather updates on my phone like a hawk. When I started seeing sub-zero temperatures I admit it. I got a bit whiny.

And what’s with these reports telling us what it “feels like” outside? They calculate in the wind, etc. Do they really think that telling me that 0 degrees is going to feel like -14 degrees is going to encourage me to step away from the warmth of my hotel room? Eek!

Windy, Snowy Selfie

Windy, Snowy Selfie

I was just relieved that the couple of feet they forecasted didn’t come while I was there! The wind was bad enough.

You see the picture on the side? My hair was blowing sideways, and so was the snow! Yes, I found a way to keep my ears warm…. Unfortunately, I also forgot my jaunty hat at home this trip.

Just a little hint? That face is not my happy face. It’s my “damn, this is cold” face.

If it weren’t for a friend asking me to take snow pictures of myself and the weather, there’s no way I would’ve been out of doors for more than the short time it took to get from indoors to the vehicle, and back inside.

And, believe it or not, despite having not driven in snow in about 20 years, I drove in this weather. Yeah, I’m feeling pretty proud of that, too.

But none of that compared to the coolest experience of the trip, ever!

It had everything to do with this guy….

Meeting my friend, author Mark Bialczak

Meeting my friend, author Mark Bialczak

My friend, fellow author and blogger, Mark Bialczak braved the freezing cold (and I mean freezing literally) to come out to meet me for dinner. First, if you haven’t met Mark yet, you should check him out HERE. He’s a fun, engaging blogger and an all around great guy.

Syracuse guide

He remembered I love my sports, and was generous enough to bring me a copy of his book, also now a memento of my 3 week stay in Syracuse, and autograph it for me! How cool was that? He even teased me a bit about the book not being about my Cowboys!

Even better, despite the fact that the only place we’d interacted was online via our blogs, it felt like meeting an old friend. We never ran out of things to talk about. There was no awkwardness. Just a lot of good conversation and fun!

Have you ever met any friends from online? What was your experience?

Winter Warm Up

All over my Facebook this morning where freezing cold pictures of snow covered yards, cars, lawn furniture…and even some pets and children frolicking in the white stuff. Brrrr! Do you know the last time I actually enjoyed winter weather?

Winter in Germany

Winter in Germany

Yeah, that’s me with my hands in the air. Many, MANY moons ago. In another country. I’m not without understanding of how winter works… I grew up in Chicago, for goodness sake. I’ve dealt with the wind coming off Lake Michigan. And I moved to Southwest Florida for a reason… So imagine my surprise when I prepared to take my beautiful dogs out for their morning constitutional only to find the temperature was in the 40’s. Yes, a mad scramble ensued to find things like fuzzy socks and sweatshirts. It’s nearly 2 pm here. How warm did it actually get?

So it's not as cold as where you are...don't judge me. I freeze easily.

So it’s not as cold as where you are…don’t judge me. I freeze easily.

To be clear, I left Chicago more than 10 years ago after 2 blizzards in a row. These days I tend to get a bit whiny and cranky when I’m cold. Unfortunately, today, I can’t even shove my ice cube feet under my hubby’s legs to warm them up (and shock his system) because he’s away at training.

So, since most of us agree that cold weather is no fun once you grow up (granted the degrees of cold we all handle is different), I thought I’d go to my happy places and bring you along…

Doesn’t that just call sun and surf to mind? It just so happens that one of my dear friends married a reggae singer named Jah Niceness (well, that’s his stage name) from Jamaica. So I actually know him personally. He’s one of the sweetest, mild mannered guys I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

This is him singing at another friend's going away party.

This is him singing at another friend’s going away party.

What else makes me think warmer climates? For the smart alecks that may have thought “how about ice cream?” or “what about a dip in the gulf or a pool?” You’re not funny…. But maybe pictures of those things may warm me…

Like snorkeling in the Bahamas...

Like snorkeling in the Bahamas…

Yeah, that water was nice and warm….

Eh… Who am I kidding? What I really need to do is get my juices going! In my universe we all know that’s an open ended prospect that can lead to a dance floor just as easily as a bedroom. 😉 Or it can mean writing all the things that get everyone else all warmed up…. Hmmm… Maybe it can mean all three. Bah! Who am I kidding? Of course it can!

So, when your weather outside is frightful…what do you do to feel warm? Feel free to be as clean or as dirty as you please…LOL!

That Awkward Moment When…

That awkward moment when

Come on, be honest…. We’ve all had one or two or zillions of those awkward moments. That’s kind of what makes them so funny…well, to the rest of the world, at least. For us, it may take a few days/weeks to recover (or sometimes never) before we find the humor in those awkward moments. So, you guessed it…I’m going to share a couple.

That Awkward Moment When…..

When you think you may have double booked your lunch date and you realize the person you’ve been talking to isn’t the same person you thought you’d be meeting. Okay, so maybe this moment was a little more awkward for my fantastic friend, Renee Schuls-Jacobson, but she’s got a way of spinning things like this into hilarity. Don’t believe me? Check out her So Wrong section of her blog. It’s dedicated to these kinds of moments!

The only time I’d ever been double booked had been by a cheating ex-boyfriend back in high school (he double booked me and 3 other girls for the same night). I broke up with him and it never happened again…until yesterday.

So here’s what happened. Renee and I had been chit chatting back and forth between our blogs, email, Twitter and Facebook. She’d recently bought a summer place down in my neck of the woods and we’d discussed meeting up. A couple of days ago we messaged each other about finally meeting face to face (Yup! You’ve got it. Up until yesterday we’d never actually met in person). Anyway, we talked on the phone and decided to meet at a restaurant in her part of town. Having arrived early, I texted her to let her know I was going to look around in the store next door. Heck, I’m a sucker for Kirkland’s and they had a big sale going on! She had arrived early, too. She sent me a message telling me she’d meet me in there, so I responded with the color of my shirt–just in case she didn’t recognize me from the few pictures I’ve put up online.

Renee walks in, gives me a warm hug and we do a little browsing, then head to the sporting goods store next door. Suddenly she stops dead in her tracks and shushes me.

“Hang on for a second while I figure this out,” she says, fiddling with her phone, flustered. Under her breath she keeps muttering something about “how did this happen?” and “crap!” and a similar things.

Concerned, I ask her what’s going on. She finally tells me she thinks she might have double booked me and a new neighbor friend she’d been talking to at the same time, but she wasn’t sure. The problem? She had talked to both me and this new neighbor friend of hers at around the same time…and didn’t save our names in her phone, so she had thought she was talking to the neighbor lady when she’d been talking to me. Icing on the cake, she thought she might have told one of us that she wasn’t going to be able to meet with one of us based on a prior engagement, but wasn’t sure who…or if she’d imagined that conversation. Even better, when she assigned my name to my number she inadvertently deleted this other woman’s number and how to contact her.

The whole thing was a hilarious cluster fuck. Was I offended? No. I was too busy laughing. She had vacation brain! Plus, once she realized that it was me she talked to both times, she started breathing again and we had a riot of a day. There are some people you meet for the first time and it’s a bit strained for a while…. This was NOT the case with us. Of course, we had the mother of all icebreakers with the little snafu beginning, but I think it would’ve been that way regardless. In fact, our introduction was as fun to me as my first meeting with my BFF, Amadiex. Her little brother was throwing rocks and sticks at me- I put him in a full Nelson to make him stop, and a lifetime friendship was born!

I’m sure, as this is only from what I know of this story, Renee probably has a slightly different view on what happened. But it’s not fair for her to be left out to dry alone, so here’s one about me….

That Awkward Moment When…

You find yourself on your knees in front of a Dom and his submissive…at work. You guys are well familiar with my playful streak. You may have even figured out that my tastes can be somewhat less than “vanilla”. As if that’s not enough, I’m a bit of a control freak…and I understand the connotations to kneeling for a Dom. To say I was a bit disconcerted is putting it mildly!

Imagine this scenario. There I am, a manager in retail, wearing a skirt and heels. I’m working a double and it’s nearing the end of the evening. My employees are all with customers when a guy walks in with his lady. They get checked in and sit down on a nearby bench sofa. Because there is a wait, I decide to walk over and try to triage this tech support related issue. The young lady is pretty soft spoken, so I lean down to hear what she’s trying to say. Because my feet are aching and I’m in a skirt, I decide to kneel in front of them. Afterall, I’m not trying to stick my butt out for the whole world to see and it gives me a chance to take some pressure off my abused feet.

I ask her for her phone, and as I hold out my hand I happen to look up. She is wearing a hemp necklace (something other folks may refer to as a “collar”). This particular necklace had a circular silver colored pendant woven in. The thing was engraved….”Property of…” I’m sure if the disc were flipped over, I would’ve found the gentleman’s name.

I won’t lie. My first reaction was to blink a couple of times before looking back up. Nope. It was not just my imagination. My second reaction? “Oh, HELL no!” Fortunately that one was only in my head. I took a deep, calming breath and let it out. I was working. As long as the guy didn’t try to approach me or make a comment assuming my kneeling meant more than it actually did, we’d be good. Honestly? I’m not sure at all how I would’ve responded if he’d misconstrued my kneeling as a sign of my submission to him.

Thankfully, that awkward was only in my mind…. Ah, how different situations can be read through the eyes of someone with a granule of knowledge. LOL!

C’mon. Admit it… One or both of these situations made you either laugh or shake your head. I’m pretty sure you have a few “Awkward Moments” of misunderstanding you could share with us…. In fact, I’d love for you guys to tell me some of yours so Renee and I won’t have to be embarrassed alone!

Guess it could’ve been worse…. At least an awkward moment like the one in this Alan Jackson video!

Dangerous Beauty

FloridaPanther_01-Cougar

Tendrils of fear
Prick my spine,
A tingle rippling
Outward.
I sense you,
My every move
Cautious,
Scared.
Trapped,
A human statue,
Frozen by fear
Unsure–
Like prey
Caught in
The crosshairs,
Feel the danger,
Not the direction.
Your tawny paw
Steps out
Revealing yourself,
From browns and greens,
Nature’s camouflage.
Amber eyes on me,
Unblinking,
Assessing,
Wild grace
In your gait.
I hold my breath,
Awed,
By your beauty,
My fear.
As you circle,
Deciding.
Muscles ripple,
You stretch out,
Swish your rope like tail,
Turn,
Disappearing into the wood
Like a ghost.
Hand to heart,
Feel thumping beat,
Reassurance.
I live to see
Another day.

Today, walking my dogs, I encountered what I’m now pretty sure was a young Florida panther sunning itself next to a neighbor’s house. Fortunately the pups didn’t see it and the wild beast seemed to have been well fed, or that could’ve been a very scary situation. Not wearing my glasses, something compelled me to look over at their house. For about 2 seconds I thought I was looking at a tree stump (hey, no glasses, remember?). After I blinked a second I realized that I was looking at a big effing cat…bigger than my 26 lb dog. Bobcats aren’t uncommon, so I thought maybe that’s what I saw…I mean, the thing was definitely big, had nice fangs…but one thing kept bothering me. Bobcats usually have spots/markings…this one was all tawny. I kept my dogs moving and got them past where the beast was sunning itself before they even noticed.

When I got home, I googled Florida wildlife…looked up bobcats…then clicked Florida panthers. Yup! It was a young panther. They are beautiful and wild, but I was so glad it wasn’t hungry. That could’ve really been scary. Well, ya’ll know me…never turn down a chance to create a poem out of a slightly scary & life threatening experience. What about you? Have you had any scary moments with nature? (And not the kind where you were on a long hike, needed to use the restroom and didn’t have one nearby…unless it involves using poison ivy as TP…LOL! Just kidding.)

And…in honor of love…and the unusual…I’m throwing down some old school jazz…complete with scatting (musical…not the creepy stuff) and improv. Yes, ladies and gents, that mean’s Ella’s in the house! She, like a fine wine, only got better with age…

Boiling Points And Slaying Dragon Ladies

I’ve realized I have a cantankerous side. People who know me well will tell you that it’s a rarity for me to lose my temper. In fact, one of my biggest flaws is that I’m too controlled. But I have this line…and once it’s crossed, all bets are off.

Why am I telling you this? Because tonight someone asked me how I wound up in Florida.

My buddy Robert will relate to this story as he believes in turning the other cheek…but only twice since he only has two.

I took a job at the hospital I worked at back in the late ’90’s. I guess you’d consider it a promotion and I should’ve been pleased, but I enjoyed the position I held prior to this one and wasn’t in any rush to leave it. The thing was, there were only two people in that particular hospital that were capable or qualified to do the job. One was only part time and in school. The other person? Me.

I liked my direct boss, so when she asked me to take on the role as a personal favor, I agreed. Then a new executive came in to run our group of departments.  We’ll call her The Dragon Lady. (And I use the term Lady loosely) Her people skills were so strong that she kicked off her first, introductory meeting with the departments by sitting everyone down and saying, “You should be happy to be here. If you’re not happy to be here, find a reason to be happy to be here. If you can’t find a reason to be happy to be here, then maybe you should leave.”

Yeah…definitely gave ME the warm and fuzzies…and that was Strike 1.

My position with the company required that I go over every single in and out patient registration with a fine toothed comb and ensure proper segments and insurance was billed properly. When the information was incorrect, it was my job to correct it, coach the employee and re-drop the bill. This meant I had anywhere from 800 to 1000 registrations per day to review. I was about 6 days out, but the ideal was to be no more than 5 days out. Unfortunately there was only 1 of me…

One day my boss calls me into her office. Waiting inside…you guessed it…The Dragon Lady. Here is how the conversation with her rolled out.

DL: I want you to be no more than 3 days out an all registrations. Where are you now?
Me: I’m 6 days out.
DL: How soon will it take to get you to 3 days out?
Me: With overtime? Probably 3 days.
DL: Then get that done.
Me: Ok.
DL: I can be the best friend you had or the worst enemy you’ve ever made.
Me: Okay…
DL: I can make your career or I can break it. And I support the people I like. Otherwise I can crush you.
Me: Okay…
Direct boss pipes in: Dragon Lady, in her defense, she was perfectly happy in the job before she took this one. She took it as a personal favor to me and because she was one of two people in the entire place qualified and the only one able to do the job.
DL: If you want me on your side, you’ll get that done.

What she couldn’t see was that in my head she’d just gotten Strike #2!

My husband was my boyfriend back then and knew how miserable I was. Between the long hours I was working (10-12 hrs and 6 day work weeks) and the way she talked to me, he knew something had to give. He gave me the green light to post my resume online. So I did! I didn’t even apply for any jobs…just posted it….when I got a call. A hospital on the west coast of Florida wanted to interview me. So, I walked into my direct boss’ office and told her I needed a personal day and reminded her that I had never taken any time like that before…and that I couldn’t answer any questions about the why. She gave it to me.

When I got back at 8 am, the Dragon Lady (who, incidentally, was never in before 10 am) was in my office waiting for me.

Now if you know the arrogant management types…then you know the power plays that come along with them. Often, if you’re told the boss’ boss is in your office…and said boss is a douche…you can count on them taking “the power position”…the seat at your desk. They leave you with the guest chair…their way of saying it’s their universe and you’re just lucky enough to be living in it.

This move would have been typical of her breed of people. Oddly enough, when I came in, she was sitting in my guest chair. Between the being at work a minimum of 2 hours prior to her normal time and sitting in my guest seat, I knew something was up.

As I sat my bag down our conversation happened:

DL: So, a little birdie told me that you went on an interview.
Me: (Thinking…so THAT’S what this is all about) Your little birdie heard correctly.
DL: You know, we absolutely love you here.
Me: (Looking at her in disbelief) Thank you. (She was fishing and she wanted to know how serious I was about leaving. In fact, if I’d have mentioned a raise, I would’ve gotten it.)
DL: You’re a hard worker.
Me: I’m glad you think so.
DL: We don’t want to lose you.
Me: Well, you know, you said something at your first meeting that really resonated with me.
DL: (Her ego puffing up) Oh, really? What did I say?
Me: On your first day you told us “You should be happy to be here. If you’re not happy to be here, you need to find a reason to be happy to be here. If you can’t find a reason to be happy to then you should go somewhere else.” So I took your advise!
DL: Oh.

I don’t think very many people had ever talked to her that way…and used her words against her. But I meant every word…because I never forgot. And it felt good! I then gave my two weeks notice and moved to Florida.  Oddly enough, it took 3 people with overtime to replace the one me. And one of them ended up in the CCU unit because of the stress.

As for the Dragon Lady…she only lasted another year or two longer in her position. Every time I’ve gone back to my old stomping grounds and run into someone I know in that department, I’m offered a job. Funny thing…I left in 1999!

What about you? Where is your temper threshold? What happens when you get pushed? What is the closest you ever got to saying Eff you to a boss?

 

Celebrating The Life Of A 100 Year Old Author

This morning I sat down and contemplated what I wanted to write for my blog, put together a plan and began typing the words. Like all the best laid plans, though, things changed when I received an email from the Sarasota Writers Group, a part of the Florida Writers Association notifying me that a valued member had passed away on November 6th.

Yesterday was our regularly scheduled meeting day. Ed wasn’t there, but I wasn’t concerned because he’d reached out to one of the other members to let us know that he was headed out of town to attend one of his grand children’s wedding.

I joined this group at the end of July and started attending meetings every first and third Wednesday of the month in August. They are a warm, welcoming bunch. It was then that I met Mr. Ed Lyman. Ed was a sweet man. He was regularly featured in Peppertree Literary Magazine, a local free magazine for writers in Sarasota and Manatee counties. My favorite piece of work by Ed was actually something that he’d written about Swiss Army Knives. It was entitled On The Cutting Edge (The Bloody History Of The Swiss Army Knife). Apparently Swiss Army Knife liked it too, because they picked it up and posted it on their website.

I met Ed for the first time at that meeting. He was a kind man and made me feel welcome right away. He was at the point of his life where he preferred others to read his work for him, and his pieces never failed to entertain. He made copies of whatever work he planned on reading for the group and passed them out. Based on what I read about him from our writers group blog, he was an active volunteer at Venice Hospital and a huge supporter of the local Venice community. Ed was 100 years young. I hope that if I’m lucky enough to reach that age, I do it with the same zeal for life that Mr Lyman showed. God Bless You, Ed!

Friendships, Trips and #Thankstweetings

As this years draws closer to the end, I get reflective. Looking back, I guess I always have. Maybe because we’re also closing in on Thanksgiving, or simply in my nature, but I find myself looking for things to be thankful for. First and foremost, I’m grateful that this year is almost over because it means next year can begin.

This year has been tough on my husband and I. He’s had three surgeries between February and May…and broke his hand. Just as things finally start to stabilize, I lost my job. Although we joke about the whole “for better or worse” portion of our vows, it’s strengthened our relationship…and our relationship was already pretty solid.

But as rough as we’ve had it…we realize it could always be worse. Above is a picture I took in the Bahamas two years ago. That year we stayed at the Wyndham Nassau Resort.We went back again this year, but we stayed in the Atlantis on Paradise Island. It was amazing! In these last two years we’ve made several friends because we book through Maximum Sports for their annual Da ‘Boys In Da Bahamas trip. We’ve also gotten the opportunity to get to know some of the players on a level we’d never have the opportunity to enjoy in the regular world.

The point of all this? We got to be good friends with a couple while we were out there the first year and we look forward to meeting up every year. Unfortunately, this year, my gal pal was diagnosed with cancer…and did her treatments. Her hubby fell prior to our trip (off a ladder, I think?) and wound up with stitches prior to the Bahama trip…which meant no water excursions for them. Last year we all went snorkelling. This year we did a shallow water dolphin thing…and they didn’t get to join.

Then, after the Bahamas, my gal pal had another incident with cancer. This was followed by her hubby getting into a motorcycle accident that left him badly injured and hospitalized for a bit. Between the medical bills and the time off required to care for him, not to mention his time loss due to his medical condition, they have neither the finances nor the time needed to allow them to take this trip next year.

I was seriously disappointed that we wouldn’t get to see her next year as we’re all in different areas. She lives in the DC/Virginia area and the rest of us live in Florida/Texas/Illinois. Pretty spread out. When she told me that she’d be unable to make the trip, I mentioned getting together for a girls weekend! All the ladies agreed… It would be a ton of fun! This is where you guys come in. We need ideas for places to go. It can’t be too close to her home…as you ladies know…when you have a husband and a son, there is a tendency to call you for every little thing if you’re close enough to feel accessible to them. On the other hand, it needs to be close enough that it’s not too costly to get there for her. Our initial thoughts were Nashville…maybe Myrtle Beach. Where would you guys recommend and why?

And thinking all these trips had me thinking…if money were no option, where would you love to visit and why? I’d love to go on a trip around the Mediterranean…Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, the south of France. My hubby is half Italian and dying to see that side of his culture. Me, I love the richness of food, passion and history in those areas! I’d also love to eventually own a vacation home in the Philippines. The four years I spent there growing up were amazing! So much love, food and sense of family there. I have always felt welcome in that country.

So…this is what I’m most thankful for this year…the friendships I’ve made…the challenges we’ve overcome…the dreams I’ve been able to pursue. What are you thankful for? And speaking of thanks…check out Good Geek Ranting’s blog on #Thankstweeting. I think he’s got a great idea and I plan on participating! People don’t hear Thank You nearly as often as they should… And who knows? You may just brighten someone’s day!

All About All Hallows

Halloween used to be one of my favorite times as a child.  I loved going to haunted houses.  I loved Halloween parties.  I loved Trick-Or-Treating.  I loved the quick adrenaline rush of getting scared.  Some things never changed.  Tonight I’ll be going to Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando.

Exciting, right?  But only if you love being scared…which, oddly enough, I do!  Now I’m not much for horror movies, but I love haunted houses.  In fact, we decorate for Halloween most years.  Here are a few pictures of what you find around my house.

This lovely lady hides under my SUV and has a motion sensor.  When someone walks past, the sensor is triggered and she starts crawling out at you.

Here is one of our zombies coming up from the ground…

This beheaded vampire stands at the front of our overhang near the front door, a warning to all…BEWARE, all who enter!

Who better to meet you at the front door?  And he has a motion sensor, too…he swings that chainsaw!

Yeah…Halloween is fun. I have been known to still don a costume, even now.  (I don’t like the scary ones for myself…Mostly I’d be Pocahontas or a Hawaiian girl or I’ve even been known to dress up as a China Doll)  Hubby likes to get scary.  I remember one Halloween he did his makeup a little too well.  We showed up to the hospital we worked at, through the ER and they thought he’d been in a horrific accident.  They were running to get a gurney for him when he busted up laughing and told them it was all makeup.  That was my Pocahontas year.  Dang, I wish I had pictures from that time.  It was awesome.

Oddly enough, with my love of all things Halloween, there is one thing that is still on my wish list of things never done.  I haven’t gone to a Halloween costume ball.  I’d love to do something like that.  Doesn’t that sound like amazing fun?  (not to mention the naughty trouble that could ensue…masked man…sigh…LOL!)  What about you?  What things would you love to do?  What things haven’t you done?

Me, being me…well, I just felt the need to also share my favorite Halloween songs…Feel free to share yours, too!

The first scary movie I ever saw was The Exorcist.  Hated it.  Movies that mess in religion tend to creep me out.  Personally, if I want to watch something scary, I’d rather watch Supernatural or Vampire Diaries or Teen Wolf.

So what gets you in the Halloween mood?

Freaky Froggy Findings

It’s okay… You can admit it. When you read that I was terrified of frogs a while back you laughed. That’s okay. I get that reaction a lot! But before you judge me, there are a few things you should know (of course there’s a story behind it. Isn’t there always?)

Between the ages of 6-10 I lived in the Philippines. It’s a beautiful place. It is a culture full of great food, warm welcomes and family and they’re blessed with great scenery. I absolutely LOVED being there. What does this have to do with my fear of frogs? Here’s the thing. I lived in a subdivision with a lot of multicultural kids..mostly because our dads were in the military. As kids we’d get into mischief. I’d climb trees and bring down coccoon husks and open them, curious about what was inside. We found a pregnant dead bird once and dissected her, trying to save the egg. So it was natural that when she told me that in her mom’s culture (her mom was Thai) that crickets were delicacies that we’d go out and try to catch them. We wanted to surprise her with a “treat”! What a lucky mom, right? Of course now I know that there are all different kinds of crickets, but hey…it was the thought that counted.

Somehow our cricket crusade morphed into a frog catching expidition. (It may have had something to do with hearing that people also ate frog legs and they tasted like chicken, but I’m not sure) We were armed with glass jars and since it had just rained, there were plenty of frogs out. We stayed out catching frogs until our parents called us in for the night. My family was vegetarian, so we sent all the catches with my little friend. The next morning I woke up crying and in pain. My precious hands had water blisters all over them. Turns out, I’m allergic to frogs.

Fast forward to about 8 years ago. I was leaving my house. As I turned to lock the door, from along the door jam a white frog landed on the corner of my face. It happened very quickly, but not fast enough that I didn’t recognize what tapped the side of my face (near my eye). I screamed bloody murder! My heart was pounding a mile a minute. My next door neighbor, bless his heart, came flying out of his house. Apparently he thought I was getting raped or murdered. How humiliating it was to tell him it was simply that a frog attacked. Fortunately the contact was so minute I didn’t have an attack. Curious as to what the frog looked like? I found a likeness…

That’s okay…I’ve also learned that when you’re in a long termed relationship, your phobias become contageous. I’m not exactly sure how it works, but I do know that my sister was in town visiting us one fall. She and I had went to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for her to make potato soup from scratch for my guy who wasn’t feeling well. We got back and he was standing out on the driveway with no shoes on, his boxers and a tshirt. He was a bit upset. Apparently a frog had tried to eat his ass! Laugh! I know I did.

He’d gone into our master bath to use the toilet, and just as he went to sit down, something caught his eye. He jumped back up just in time to see a toad the size of a grapefuit staring up at him. He insists that there was malicious intent in that toad’s eyes…but regardless, it freaked him out. He slammed the toilet lid down, yanked his pants back up, found the biggest, heaviest book he could find to put on the lid so that the big toad couldn’t escape…and planted himself on the driveway for one of us to rescue him.

As you already ascertained from my deep fear of frogs, I was the wrong person to be looking at for a rescue. In fact, I believe the words “you’re insane” may have come out of my mouth at some point as he looked at me to find a solution. Finally, after my sister was able to stop laughing hysterically, she grabbed a big plastic cup that we didn’t mind losing along with a magazine. She scooped the toad into the cup, covered it with the magazine and released Mr Toad back into the wild. Thank God for the practicality of nurses.

But is my fear of frogs really so irrational? After the news down here in Florida this week, I’m thinking it’s just good sense! If you have dogs, this story is a must read! It may save your dog’s life! Yes, there have been doggie deaths in Florida recently and it’s all been attributed to my nemesis.

Considering I have my two adorable furbabies, I think it may have turned out to be a blessing that I have this fear. I’d be devastated if anything happened to these two cuties….

These are my two girls. They’re Shiba Inu’s…The little one to the left is named Ryka (after the Mord Sith from Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Series. The one on the right is Isabella. She was my Christmas gift several years ago. I’d be devastated if I lost them, so they are not allowed to play with frogs. Lucky for me, they prefer to chase rabbits. 🙂

If you’re a dog lover and a book lover, you should check out this review by Sheri DeGrom. This one may be right up your alley!

If you’re wondering what your dog is thinking, maybe you should check out his/her diary as written by Raelynn Barclay.

Or if you just want to talk about your adorable dog and commisserate about their bad habits, then Jen is your gal!

Anyway, thank you for letting me vent about my frighteningly froggy freak outs…and for adoring my cute doggies.

Happy Friday!

Pausing To Aid In Celebration

Hi Everyone!  I had this big ole blog planned for today, but it’s gonna have to wait.  My mom called and notified me that we will be having a party for my stepdad’s 60th birthday tomorrow at their new homestead.  She also notified me that I make dessert.  This is not an easy feat as my step-dad is a ciliac (has a gluten allergy).  She said he wanted German Chocolate cake, and I found this awesome looking recipe.  When I called, though, and talked to my stepdad, he said Carrot cake sounded good to him.  Unsure of which one was better, I’ll be making both.  Better safe than sorry.  That also means my big ole blog plan is out the window…

Recently, they rented out their home in Chicago to move closer to me.  I suspect she did it just in case hubby and I decide to grace her with grandkids, she wanted to be nearby.  Well, that and my step aunt & uncle live in the area.  So they bought 5 acres about an hour away from me.  It comes complete with a little lake (that gators come out of) and a barn.  Fortunately, the area around the house is fenced so that I can bring my dogs with us when we go to visit and they get to play in a big yard.

Here are some pictures I took from around their house the last time I was out there.  I love all the lily pads they have in their lake. Can’t wait till they bloom!

The barn

Mom loves trees and plants