I should have been born in Orlando. My parents lived there after they got married and that’s where I was conceived. They had moved there to be near my dad’s parents, and near they were. As in, next door near. His parents lived on Circle Dr – isn’t that a cool name for a street – and when the little bungalow next door was up for rent, my parents moved in there. They had moved from Appalachia, where my mom spent her whole life, and her parents before her and their parents before them. She never told me what he said to convince her to leave all of her family and friends behind and move 2000 miles away with a man she had only known for a short time. But it must have been pretty convincing, because off they went. In some ways I’m very surprised, because my mom was extremely close to her parents. Throughout her life she called and wrote them frequently and they came and visited us frequently as well. I know it must have been hard on her to be that far away from them, in a day and time when calling long distance was expensive and traveling long distances was difficult. But in other ways I’m not surprised. My mom has a spontaneity and sense of adventure in her personality that peeks its head out when you least expect it. She was ambitious and wanted more from her life than was offered to a young woman in small town America in the late ’50’s. Later, in the ’80’s, when she and my dad had divorced, she enrolled in a local university and pursued the goals that she had felt weren’t available to her back in those days. She completed a BS program in Social Work with honors, was offered a position in the office of Honorable John D Glenn – D-OH and eventually was promoted to the position of State Director, overseeing constituent services for several years before retiring at the end of his final term. We were so proud of her for what she accomplished, and how she was able to help people that turned to her in times of need. And that spontaneity is exactly why I should have been born in Orlando, but I wasn’t. Because about 8 months into her pregnancy, my mom decided she’d had enough – enough of the heat and humidity, enough of the meddling mother-in-law, and enough of that painful homesickness that being away from her family caused – and packed up my dad, their puppy and a few belongings in their hot rod Chevy, and headed back to Appalachia. She made sure I could be born in the same place as she had been, her parents had been, and their parents before them had been. Appalachia has a hold on people that can’t be explained, and can’t be ignored. And she still longingly visits there, even after she relocated – first she went north and later to a large urban area, when she met and fell in love again. But that’s a story for another blog post.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re casually munching on Fritos in your family room, just talking about how you’d like some new mini blinds, and maybe could Mr. Austerity keep an eye out for said blinds at the local thrift store. And right after that mundane conversation you start surfing your social media account, which shall remain nameless but it starts with ‘f’ and ends with – well you can probably guess. And right there in between posts about cats terrorizing dogs and easy crock pot BBQ chicken wings, pops up an ad for a local custom mini blind shop. Yep, I kid you not. It showed up in my feed. And I pinkie swear to you that I had not been googling mini blinds or blinds or window coverings or anything remotely close to those terms. How does this happen? Rhetorical question! Because we all know, without any doubt, that every portable ‘smart’ electronic device we own is actively listening to us when we speak. The hot gift at Christmas this year was the device from a major online retail shopping site that could sit in your home and answer your questions or respond to your instructions. People were ordering it like crazy, thinking hey – how fun this will be – and then immediately after Christmas people begin to realize that it was listening to everything being said, not just conversations addressed to the device. And that led to questions about what was being done with everything that the device was hearing – basically all of whats being said in our homes. From my experience with my phone and tablet – the data it collects is being used for marketing purposes – serving up ads that it thinks match what I’m talking about. Is there a way to stop whats being done? I hope yes but I believe no – this technology is already a reality in our lives and probably too valuable to the market for anyone to make it go away.
How many times have you been given the middle finger by other drivers? I’m really interested in your answer to that. Because the times its happening to me is on the upswing and I want to determine whether I’ve changed or drivers have changed. Yes, I am getting older, so theoretically my driving habits should be changing. I should be driving slower in the fast lane, leaving my blinker on for long periods, and making bad driving decisions. And I am driving an entirely different category of vehicle than I’ve driven before – my past vehicles were family cruisers – like the Toyota van we recently sold, or the Ford station wagon we had before that. The vehicle I drive now is the Wrangler I won, a Rubicon on 35 inch off-roading tires and I’m the first to admit it looks a bit intimidating. Maybe even aggressive? So if I change lanes at the same time a driver that’s several cars back decides to change into that same lane – do they take that personally? I’ll give you an example. Today I was sitting at a stoplight with a motorcycle in front of me and a large panel truck in front of him. We were all waiting to turn left and there were two left turn lanes. Because the inside left turn lane was blocked due to road construction, I was sitting in the second turn lane. Once I make the turn I need to be in the inside lane and make an immediate left turn into my company’s parking lot. As the stoplight switches to green to allow us to begin our turns, we all slowly accelerate. The motorcycle in front of me is trying to move over into the far right lane, likely to enter the freeway entrance ramp. And I glance to my left and check my driver’s side mirror – to move into that inside lane I mentioned. As I do that I see another vehicle several cars back making the same move and we both end up in the same lane; the difference being that driver is accelerating until on my bumper and stays there – because neither of us can move past the large panel truck in front of us both. And as I’m readying for my turn into my parking lot – said driver moves into the far right lane and manages simultaneously to road rage the motorcycle driver and put his ‘middle’ finger out the window at me. It surprised and kind of annoyed me, but mostly it made me anxious for him. Because the driver of the Harley that he was road raging could have easily taught him an ‘unforgettable lesson’ – he looked – well I’ll just call it like I see it – a bit intimidating himself. Instead, he just hit the freeway on-ramp and let it rip.
Today is Mother’s Day 2017 – and its been a beautiful weekend here. Friday was a cloudy, chilly, unpleasant day – but then about 5 p.m. the sun broke through the clouds and it just got better and better as the weekend rolled on. Saturday was warm and sunny and we readied the garden for planting by raking back last fall’s leaves that were covering and protecting it and tilling up the soil with our electric tiller. I was glad as I began digging into the moist earth to see there were many earthworms that call the garden home. Later we pressed the earth down around the Roma and Early Girl and Super Sweet tomato plants we had purchased a few days ago and set the sprinkler in the center of them all. Mr. Austerity set it so the sprinkler will click on and off on a set schedule – to help them become established and keep them moist over the next few weeks. This spring has been especially wet, so we want to be careful that the plants don’t end up with blossom end rot – a condition that ruined much of our harvest last summer. I love tomatoes and their fresh from the garden taste in our salsas and on sandwiches. I am always so hopeful when I put the garden in – that it will yield enough fruit to make it worth the work. I’ll let you know if that turns out to be true.
We are trying to sell a few things and we are struggling with how to do this. How do you market used item to get the most money and sell them reasonably stress free. Not on Craigslist, that’s for sure. Years ago we put our car on Craigslist when we bought a new one, a few people came to look at it and one of them bought it. Simple. Last week we listed our van for sale and it’s been nothing but weirdness. Multiple people emailing to ask if it’s still for sale and when we reply yes – nothing. Are they just taking a poll? Someone arranged a time to come see it and when they were late to the prearranged meeting place we checked with them via text to see how long they would be. They wrote back they didn’t have enough money and weren’t coming. Did they just count their change jar – how do you suddenly realize you don’t have $2000? At least five or six people sent stupid low “cash” offers sight unseen. Were they thinking we’d let them pay by credit card if they paid full price? And don’t get me started on the ridiculous grammar in some inquiries – they have to be from a teeny bopper in a far off third world country playing internet pranks for entertainment. It’s a good car, a brand with a solid reliability reputation at a very affordable price. Why isn’t an honest buyer coming our way?
Avatar – what pops into your head when you read that word? Do you think of the little photo of yourself posted in the profile of your social media accounts? Or possibly of the characters that live within online gaming? Or even the incarnation of a Hindu deity such as Vishnu – Webster’s definition of the word. Does anyone think of the 2009 sci-fi movie of the same name. The movie featured some special effects that were billed as ‘advanced for their time’. And….. OK, so I’m at a loss to think of anything else. It had limited appeal and fairly quickly fell off of the radar screen of the majority of the public. If you haven’t seen the film, don’t waste your time – you’d be underwhelmed by the effects, and assaulted by its in your face, preachy, stereotypes that pass for a story line. Civilization is evil, the military is evil, native tribal people groups are peaceful….I can’t remember the rest as it was borderline ridiculous. But this week its making its way back into the headlines as Disney prepares to open a new World of Pandora themed land inside of its Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom park. When I think of the amount of capital and resources that was invested into this new area it is frustrating – this is valuable funding that could have been allocated to build attractions based upon or linked to Disney’s own stories and characters, which have a proven track record of timeless and multi-generational appeal. Early videos are surfacing of the two attractions that will open this month. The first is a short (3 min) boat ride down a river in Pandora – with a view of the banks and trees that are grown over with the native plants and animals in this fictitious world. The other is a flight simulation ride through the landscape and countryside of the fictitious world of Pandora. Other features of this new area are footpaths that will light up at night – and plants that will appear to glow in the dark. Its so disappointing to me that Disney is serving up what amounts to a video game/virtual reality experience as their latest offering. I’m sure I’ll take time to visit Pandora when we go to WDW in February, but this new area won’t have me rushing to my travel agent to visit Orlando any sooner.
Mr. Austerity and I have fallen in love with the beautiful central Florida gulf coast, and more specifically, Treasure Island, Florida. What a glorious, fabulous, relaxed, lovely little slice of paradise. We landed there accidentally several years back when we couldn’t stand one more horrible week in the frozen Ohio landscape, and we packed our bags, booked our flights and got out of dodge. Our first visit we stayed at an upscale hotel chain in a suite with a kitchen and free breakfasts and really liked it, but what we soon discovered is that Treasure Island is very much a ‘mom and pop’ beach. There are many ‘old Florida’ style motor inns that are maintained beautifully, painted those lovely pinks and yellows and orangy colors, and they are where we wanted to be. Although there are a sprinkling of chain restaurants on the island, most restaurants are local also, with the most wonderful melding of flavors made from the freshest of ingredients. It has a lively local music scene also, playing hits from our past. Mr. Austerity LOVES the mid century modern vibe of the place, so we go back as often as we can. And that started us thinking of ways that we could spend even more time there. So we are going to extend our visit next February to two weeks, which gives us alot more time to visit our favorite places, and explore some new places that we’ve not had time for before. And to make it more economical, we are going to drive down and back and rent a small apartment with a full kitchen. It is cute and in a good location but its kind of pricey. Unfortunately, until we can stay at least one month, we will have difficulty finding less expensive lodging; most of the rentals are long term. That will have to wait until I retire in a couple of years.