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Saturday 9: Rapid Roy

45cat - Jim Croce - Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels) / Rapid Roy (The  Stock Car Boy) - Vertigo - Netherlands - 6073 251

Welcome, welcome, one and all! (all two of you)

I guess I'll just be popping in and out irregularly. Miss y'all, though.

I don't know why I don't know much the music of Jim Croce. I mean, is this the era of James Taylor, Joan Baez, and Carole King, et al.? And if I do know a song, I wouldn't necessarily know to attribute it to him. I'm not even sure how to pronounce his surname. Is it "CRO-chee"?

Anyway, let's go:


Saturday 9: Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy) 1972

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) The lyrics tell us that every Sunday afternoon we can find Roy at the racetrack. What are your plans for Sunday?
Amazon.com: Extra Large Hexagon Floating Shelves Set of 4 - Honeycomb  Shelves - Octagon Shelves Rustic White - Wall Shelves Honeycomb Decor -  Wooden Honey Comb Hexagon Shelf for Wall - Geometric
I wanted to go out to a park we haven't visited yet, but it'll be too cold for me tolerate (pain), so we'll stay in. Hopefully I'll paint some and finally convince Hubs to hang at least one shelf. Cross your fingers.
2) Roy is fearless behind the wheel of his '57 Chevrolet. But it's just natural to feel fear every now and again. What scares you?
Dizziness causes, symptoms and treatments
I've got all four of these, and:
Vertigo: Overview and More
At least half of these.
So I'm constantly losing my balance, constantly feel like I'm on a swing or a rocking boat or something, constantly having one or both ears suddenly plug up, followed by a "screaming" tinnitus. I know I now have Neurologic Lyme Disease. And my neurologist has yet to see me for it, respond to my messages about it, acknowledge it at all. She even keeps moving my appointments later in the year. So to answer: I'm afraid my entire brain is going to be claimed by disease before anybody pays attention to my calls for help.
3) Roy's been photographed grinning with a toothpick in his mouth. Do you often use toothpicks? If so, do you carry them with you?
Buy 3 Pcs Portable Titanium Toothpicks Pocket Toothpick Metal Toothpick  Holder Brass Color Reusable Toothpick for Outdoor Picnic and Camping Online  in Indonesia. B08DXNLVCL
I used to use a lot of regular wooden toothpicks. But with everything else, I had an interest in reducing my carbon footprint, finding something reusable, and even saving a few pennies in the process. So I found these, which do the trick. And I clip one onto my purse zipper with that ring, so I always have one.
4) Legend has it Roy learned to drive fast when he ran moonshine out of Alabama. Moonshine usually refers to illegally produced whiskey. What was the last alcoholic beverage you drank?
Mai Tai Recipe - How To Make A Mai Tai Cocktail
I very rarely drink. I had a mai tai from a local restaurant about 9 (?) months ago. It was awful; I  had one sip and gave it to Rob. Usually I love a mai tai, but since I'm not supposed to drink anyway (medication cocktail supersedes alcohol cocktail; boring but eh), not a huge loss.

5) This week's featured artist, Jim Croce, attended Villanova University, where he played in a band that performed at fraternity parties. When his band was chosen to tour Africa as part of a cultural exchange program, he was excited to learn his host countries' customs. Have you ever traveled overseas? What did your trip teach you?
La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, by Antoni Gaudí
P|C Me, June 2008©
Among many other things, I learned that Europe is far more interesting than the United States. So we set up democracy, we have capitalism, and all that. That is not the be-all and end-all of human existence. There is so much life over there. Amazing architecture. Fantastic art. Incredible food. Lovely people, oh my gosh. I could go on and on. We almost moved to Portugal instead of here. That would have been...the be-all.
Oh, also, I learned that when we finished our cruise in Madrid and had to get around by ourselves to find a hotel for the night, my Spanish was still pretty sparkly-shiny. I got it done.
6) Jim met his future wife, Ingrid, at a party. They discovered that they both loved Joan Baez and Woody Guthrie. Tell us about one of your friends, and what you two bonded over.
Well, I have one good friend, Stephanie, who actually kept our kids for the two weeks or so that we were in Europe way back when. Originally, and for a long time, she was our kids' babysitter when we needed one for my gigs. But she loved our kids, and kids in general, so we bonded over that, firstly. Then I started taking her with me on some of my gigs, then our family started hanging out with Steph and her husband, and eventually, she had a son of her own. And now there are four! She's an amazing mama.
7) Early in their marriage, while Jim was working hard to launch his music career, Ingrid helped make ends meet by baking bread and canning fruits and vegetables. Do you have any frugal cooking tips or "cheap eats" recipes to share?
13 Frugal Food Tips For Eating Well On A Budget
Yes. I would say, if you're going on any kind of road trip, pack a cooler and a dry bag as much you can with food for each person in the car, for however many days you can. You can save so much money over stopping at a trillion convenience stores and fast food restaurants.

8) In 1972, Mark Spitz became a sensation, winning seven Gold Medals for swimming. After making money in endorsements and TV appearances, he settled into a career as a realtor in Los Angeles. Are you contemplating a change in residence anytime soon?
Open photo
OMG, noooo... We all agree: no more moving! This is the LAST house we buy. (We bought our house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in August.)

9) Random question: Which of these "top ten" lists would you prefer to be on -- the sexiest, the smartest or the richest?

The world's smartest people of all time revealed | Daily Mail Online

I think I'd prefer to be among their ranks. Ten out of ten times.


Well, that was fun. Thanks, Sam! Thanks to all who might stop by!


Saturday 9: Buttered Popcorn

🌹TᕼE ᔕᑌᑭᖇEᗰEᔕ🌹

Welcome back, my lovelies! This weekend finds us at a different hotel than where we were during my write-up of last week's Saturday 9; not only that, but we are in our third or fourth room in the current establishment! Things have gotten a little ridiculous with the room-jumping, and we are exhausted. So, we're not too terribly disappointed over the thunder and lightning going on for the past several days, keeping us from the beach. Maybe we'll go tomorrow?

This week, Crazy Sam brings us the Supremes! Little before my time, but I'm a fan nonetheless. Link up here if you're playing along this weekend!


Saturday 9: Buttered Popcorn (1961)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This Saturday, the treat's on Sam. Will you have buttered popcorn, caramel corn or cheese popcorn?

Popcorn Shrimp Recipe | Laura in the Kitchen - Internet Cooking Show

I'm not a huge fan of popcorn, actually. Maybe I'll have some popcorn shrimp instead?

2) This record represents the Supremes as they are seldom heard. Florence Ballard is singing lead, with background vocals provided by Mary Wilson, Barbara Martin and Diane Ross. That's right, "Diane." Her parents meant for her to be named "Diane," and that's what old friends and family still call her, but the hospital mistakenly put her name down as "Diana." Motown execs thought "Diana Ross" had a better sound and the rest, as they say, is history. Do you often make typos? Or are you careful and precise at the keyboard?

Newspaper Gets Roasted After Hilarious Typo Mess-Up - FAIL Blog - Funny  Fails

I find myself making far more typos lately than I ever used to. My mind is just going faster than my fingers can keep up - always a problem, has just gotten worse.

3) Barbara Martin left the Supremes in 1962, before they reached stardom, because she was a new mom and wanted to stay home with her baby. Have you ever found yourself in the difficult position of having to choose between your personal and professional lives?

gif Awesome shark ocean sea marine life diving dive scuba sealife blue  shark free dive mermaidtittiezzz •

Certainly. I left the world of marine biology to be a wife and mom, with my husband and I having the fullest intent that I stay home to raise the kids and not miss many - or any - "firsts." It was a tremendous sacrifice for us in many ways, and I still feel the pull of the rip tide out to the sea, but I know we did the right thing for our children. It was worth it.

4) Florence Ballard's cousin, Hank, wrote the famous Chubby Checkers dance record, "The Twist." When did you last get on your feet and dance?

Merengue GIF | Gfycat

I'm not able to do too much of that these days, between balance issues with my left inner ear, and problems with POTS and low blood pressure. But I heard some merengue music in the store yesterday and very slightly moved to the rhythm. I learned to dance the merengue from my many Latinx friends during my college years. Hard to resist!

5) Mary Wilson stayed with the group until it disbanded in 1977. She has said that one of her most memorable moments came in 1968, when the group performed for Princess Margaret. Mary recalled that the Princess loudly asked if Mary's hair was real or a wig. Mary was shocked, expecting better behavior from a royal. Tell us a time when someone's behavior shocked you.

12 Packs "We Believe - Kindness is Everything " SIGNS / SHIP | eBay

I'm a fully-active anti-racist and an ally accomplice to the movements supporting all marginalized and disenfranchised populations. So I've seen and heard a lot - as have we all over the course of this terrible year. Yet every highly-publicized police shooting of a Black person, such as Jake Blake most recently, shocks me again. And then the scumbag 17-year-old kid who crossed state lines with an AR-15 to hunt down peaceful protesters, then subsequently be let walk away by the police, took the cake. I keep thinking, "What else?" and then knocking the hell out of whatever wood is nearby.

Sad Stickers Find Share On Giphy Flaming Heart GIF - LowGif

6) In 1961, when this song was released, the TV show Hazel premiered and was a top 5 hit for NBC. Oscar winner Shirley Booth played the title character, a very capable and lovable maid. If Crazy Sam could have a maid for just a few hours today, she'd love to have her refrigerator cleaned and kitchen cabinets organized. If you could have a pair of helping hands around your house this afternoon, what would you ask the maid to do? 

Inside the Frat Party that Caused $75,000 of Damage at a Ski Resort - ABC  News

Well, living in hotel rooms for the past 10 days with very few belongings, our room can only get so untidy. It feels like the above picture to me, a bit of a neat freak, but in reality looks nothing like that. Housekeeping staff are not allowed in guests' hotel rooms during their stays these days, so we're on our own with fresh towels, emptying garbage, and so on. It's not so bad. Honestly I'd rather say F- it and just take a long nap!

7) Also in 1961, President John F. Kennedy appeared on the cover of Time as their Man of the Year. Are there any magazines in your home right now? If so, who is on the cover?

No description available.

I've got a few magazines in my laptop backpack, including this issue of People with Kelly Ripa and her family on the cover. I've always thought her husband, Mark Consuelos, was soooo hot since way back in the day when they first starred together on All My Children. And that hasn't changed!

8) Ernest Hemingway died in 1961. Have you read any of his works?

hemingwayhome.com | Home

Certainly. I think The Old Man and the Sea was one of my favorite of his writings. I've toured Hemingway House in Key West two or three times, most recently so my feline-crazy kids could admire the six-toed cats.

9) Random question: How many pancakes are in the perfect stack?

SweetStacks Gourmet Pancake & Waffle Mix

Oh, I can only eat about two or three at a time these days, so not very many... but please make it with whatever kind of fruit(s) you've got!


Okay. I think I may actually take that nap right now. Enjoy your weekend!


P.S. My grandfather adored the show Hazel. If it was on, he was watching it!

Sunday Stealing: League Of Extraordinary Penpals

Hey there, hi there, ho there, thieves! I'm watching the documentary series "Diagnosis" on Netflix right now - and of course, now my husband and I are going, "You need to get on that!" regarding all of my health issues - so forgive me if my answers become disjointed from distraction. I have a habit of going back later and finding I've done that!

I trust you are all well.

Link up here if you want to steal some shhhh--- today! Let's go:


1 What are your plans for August?

Josephine House

Well, August is kind of a big month. We bought this big, beautiful, modern house last June. It's in a very small town in nowheresville, Idaho. I love the house. I do. I love my freakin' house. But I hate where it is. I've tried for 14 months to just be okay here for the sake of everybody else, but I just cannot do it anymore. I've got to GTFO of this state.

So, four of us are moving into an extended-stay hotel in Boise on Monday. Chloë, who will be 19 next month, is moving out into a place of her own and staying here. (Not gonna lie, I'm having a very hard time with that.) Rob's hiring movers that will come in and pack us up, then we'll have a move-out cleaning, and then the realtor who sold us the house is going to put it back on the market for us.

The average time for a home in our area to be on the market is 9 days, so I'm crossing my fingers for good luck like that. (Please cross yours, too!)

As soon as that happens, we're paying off the remainder of our car loan and gifting the car to Chloë. Then we'll hop a plane to Maryland.

Watch for what happens next...

2 Review the first half of 2020:

40 Memes That Sum Up 2020 So Far | Bored Panda

🔼🔼 There you go. 🔼🔼

2020 is a dumpster fire: These memes nail exactly how we're feeling – Film  Daily

3 A place you’d go if money were no object:

The history of manned space flight [infographic] | OUPblog

Oh, I'd definitely go on a space flight and realize my childhood dreams.

4 Who was your childhood best friend?

7 Reasons Why Your Childhood Best Friend Will Always Be Irreplaceable

Well, it seemed like in elementary school I had a different best friend every year. Victoria... Thea... Shannon.... Ellie... different Shannon...

But from 6th grade on, I had a group of friends that pretty much stayed together. I count two of them (Lisa & Shana) as my best friends to this day. I'm lucky to have them.

5 The city or town you love most?

Types Of Palm Trees | Labels: Too Many Palms | Tropical garden, University  of miami hurricanes, Palm trees

Can I just say the entire Miami-Dade County? There are soooo many things there that I love, I couldn't pick just one municipality! Of course, I love my alma mater in Coral Gables. Then there's South Beach, of course. Then Coconut Grove... the quick drive to the Keys. I love everything about Miami!

6 How do you spend hot days?

Best Beaches in Miami | WPH South Beach

That depends... am I still in Miami, or am I stuck in Idaho? Is it a COVID year, or just an El Niño year? Given my druthers, I'd be at the beach every day, all day.

7 Are you a skilled cook or baker?


Well, I'm no expert, but I do all right. I used to have a baking business when we lived in Virginia Beach, but after one exceedingly frustrating disappointment on an order I worked terribly hard on, I kinda just... stopped.

8 One thing you wish you could currently do:

King Neptune | A frozen King Neptune at sunrise. Virginia Be… | Flickr

Hmm... Speaking of Virginia Beach, I wish I could go to the Oceanfront there right NOW! Where's King Neptune when you need him?

9 A time when you learned your lesson:

Oh, I definitely learned my lesson from buying this house here in Mountain Home: no matter how much you love the house, if you hate the town, it's not the perfect house. There are some things you just can't compromise on. So now I have my eye on this house (center, foreground) in Maryland...

10 What consistently makes you laugh?

Pin on funny

My husband, an old sailor, has an endless supply of filthy jokes. I try to act shocked, but he knows I'm amused.

11 Routines that bring you calm and peace:

Campbell River SAR rescue injured hiker in Strathcona Provincial Park - My  Comox Valley Now

Communing with nature

12 Who annoys you the most?

091419 Old Navy Rob's shirt

It's definitely this husband of mine - but I'm sure it's mutual!!

13 Describe some of your favorite household items.

04272020 Treasures 01

Last September, we drove up to Washington to visit Great Wolf Lodge for Chloë's 18th birthday. Here are our three kids' wristbands from their first visit to Great Wolf Lodge - in Williamsburg, Virginia - over a decade earlier. ♥ (Our orally-fixated pup, Tapioca, has since eaten one of them.)

04272020 Treasures 02

Here are all the pet tags from all the dogs and cats we've had who are no longer with us. ♥

04272020 Treasures 03

Here is the tape of "Wonderful Tonight" that my friends from graduate school, Heather and Mason, rearranged and did on guitar and vocals. They gave it to us at our wedding reception. I have got to get it re-recorded digitally! ♥

04272020 Treasures 05

And finally, here is just a small fraction of the pennies we've pressed over the years. We press pennies everywhere we go and have many books full of them! ♥

14 What have you gotten better at?

I believe in self improvement. For you, that is. - Lolcats - lol | cat memes  | funny cats | funny cat pictures with words on them | funny pictures | lol  cat memes | lol cats

I mean, what was the starting line? I've gotten a whole lot better at walking and talking since I started about 43 years ago, I'll you that much!

15 Share a random memory.

Camel Drinking Coke Funny Picture

When I was very young, probably under three years old, my family visited a zoo of some sort. We stopped at a kiosk somewhere, and my mother bought herself a drink. She was carrying me on her hip, so when she took a sip, I begged for a sip, too. It was delicious!!! Today I might describe it as sort of a virgin piña colada. When Mom got near the bottom of the cup, she said I could have the rest of her drink. I was so excited. Then, as soon as I had the cup in hand, Mom pivoted away from the camel pen we were standing right next to. I had the cup in my hand, and then suddenly it was snatched away from me! I looked back in shock to see the camel not only finishing my drink, but eating the cup to boot! Oh, how I sobbed. That is the only thing I remember from that day.

16 How many pairs of shoes do you have?

Crocs shoes, Lovable or Horrible? | Fashion Conscious

Oh, maybe about a dozen, give or take. I'm really not sure. I do know that more than half of those are Crocs, though!

(I need those green and turquoise pairs!)

17 Who do you go to for encouragement?

boop of encouragement | /r/wholesomememes | Wholesome Memes | Know Your Meme

It depends on what I need encouragement for. I have a team!

18 References you make that others don’t get.

Michael Scott Inside Joke GIF - MichaelScott InsideJoke TheOffice -  Discover & Share GIFs

Well, if I told you about them, you would get it, and then they wouldn't really be inside jokes anymore, right?

19 What are 10 things you consider essential for you?

08092020 Whats In My Bag

a Erin Condren Lifeplanner

b colorful Tul pens

c Versace prescription glasses

d Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

e Mint & Argan lip balm from Grove Collaborative (it's seriously the best)

f inhaler, definitely

g lotion, always gotta have lotion

h hairbrush, especially now that Sophia's making me grow it out long

i some kind of hard candy, because I go hypoglycemic fairly often

j jewelry - always have a necklace and hoops of some sort on at least!

20 Is there any accent you wish you had?

As an Aussie I have actually said this exact sentence before - FunSubstance  | Funny aussie, Australia funny, Funny australian

Australian. I tend to pick up accents and languages fairly easily, but I cannot for the life of me do an Australian accent. I just can't!


Okay, I'm posting this really late because I was at the ER all morning, so no one will probably read it. But if ya did, thank you and have a great week!



Saturday 9: I Don't Care


Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber's official music video of 'I Don't ...

Good Saturday morning, one and all! I hope you're feeling fine and for heaven's sake, staying out of the Emergency Room!

My head is killing me, so between that and having slept most of Friday into oblivion, I'm doing this just after 0600 on Saturday (abnormal for me).

Link up here if you want to play along this week!


Saturday 9: I Don't Care (2019)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song begins with Ed Sheeran admitting he's not enjoying the party he's at. What's something you have to do this weekend, but don't want to do?
self quarantine - Imgflip
Sitting around the damn house! Laughing with tears of joy most-used emoji : The Tribune India I think, today, I will take a walk with one or more of the kids. Oooh, excitement!

2) Justin Bieber sings about trying to have a conversation at a party. Have you seen any of your social gatherings cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic?
Oh, my gosh, it's ridiculous! I had so many depressing cross-outs in my planner (and I hate Wite-Out), that I finally just stickered over some of them to make things a little cheerier! Laughing with tears of joy most-used emoji : The Tribune India

3) Both Ed and Justin conclude that this party -- and everything else -- is okay because they're with the ones they love. Who in your life always makes you feel comfortable and content?

These guys - Hubs, the kids, and yes, the pets - are the ones I'm most comfortable with. Few people have seen me at my absolute best, my worst, and everywhere in between except for these guys. Maybe no one.

4) Ed and Justin have both appeared on The Simpsons. Are you a Simpsons fan?

Ha Ha Simpsons GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Definitely! Nelson's "haha" is one of my family's most-used sound effects.

5) Speaking of animation, Ed Sheeran has said that he'd love to do a Disney soundtrack, like Elton John's Lion King. Do you have a favorite Disney movie?

Dory speaking whale. (Transparent background! :D) - GIF on Imgur

Before Finding Nemo came out in 2003 or 2004 (our son Jack was still in his first year, I'm certain), it was Little Mermaid. But I am Dory, and Dory is me, and of course, the marine biologist in me was thrilled, so that swiftly surpassed the old one. I still love me some Ariel, though.

P.S. I just checked; Finding Nemo did come out in 2003. We saw it in the theater.
6) Justin Bieber is fluent in French, and Ed says he knows enough to get by. Say something to us in French.

28 Hilarious Reasons Why The French Language Is The Worst

Je suis un crayon à l'oreille, which means "I am a pencil in my ear" and makes no sense. It's from an old high school inside joke.

7) Justin can solve a Rubik's Cube in less than two minutes. Are you good at puzzles?

Mom, mom how was I solve a Rubik's... - Jokes of the day | Facebook

Yes, but I won't lie: I'm horrible at Le Cube.

8) In 2019, the year this song was popular, 20 new governors took office. Tell us something about the governor of your state (or commonwealth)?

Brad Little - Wikipedia

One of those new governors was ours, in Idaho: Brad Little (R). I did not vote for him. His voice sounds like he's smoked a carton a day for five decades, and it's one of those voices I can't stand listening to, and I wish I could just stuff a baguette in that maw to make it shut up. Y'know? Instead, I voted for Paulette Jordan for Governor, who would've been, if I'm not mistaken, the first Native American to be a state governor.

I don't always have tremendous luck in picking governors when I vote! The very first year I was eligible to vote, in 1994, I voted for Lawton Chiles against Jeb Bush. Bush lost that year, but he won four years later against Chiles' lt. gov. I was devastated when Bush one the governorship that year; I mean, I was inconsolable. I didn't have kids at the time, of course, but I knew that his voucher program for Florida's public school kids would be devastating for the state's educational system. I was not wrong.

P.S. Turns out, Oklahoma has had two male Native American governors. So I guess Paulette Jordan would've been the first female one. (And she's running for a seat in the U.S. Senate right now. I'm behind her!)

9) Random question: Did you more recently give a compliment, or receive one?

A Thank You to Nurses | | New Jersey State Nurses Association

I think, gave one. I have a new friend who is a trauma nurse, and she is busy taking care of both "routine traumas" and COVID-19 patients. There's a lot more, but I told her she was incredible, and I meant it.


I hope you all have a stellar Saturday! If you have nothing to do today, watch the Global Citizen's One World: Together at Home concert! It's on all the major TV networks and many online platforms. It's a must-see!


Saturday 9: Brand New Life

Image result for who's the boss cast

Hey, hey! Welcome back. It's late here; 7:28 PM as I speak, but I've been in bed all day. I'm not feeling too well today. My doc is afraid I'm developing pneumonia, which has hounded me for the last four years or so. She wanted me to go straight to the hospital Thursday to get a chest x-ray and labs, but I have not listened to her because... well, I don't have time to be sick. I figure, if I don't go, they can't diagnose me, and they can't then stick me in a hospital bed. Sounds smart to me! ;)

This week's song is the theme from the 80s sitcom, Who's the Boss? I used to love that show, and the whole cast. I'm excited to see that one! Link up here if you want to play along with the rest of us this weekend.


Saturday 9: Brand New Life (The Theme from Who's the Boss) (1984)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) Who's the Boss? is a sitcom that ran from 1984 to 1992. Were you a fan?

Image result for who's the boss cast

Oh, yes. It was one of my favorite shows. I still love all of those actors, especially Alyssa Milano. I always thought she was so gorgeous, and I still do. And I admire her for her role in the Me Too movement.
2) This week's song was composed by the show's producers, two men not known as songwriters. Have you ever tried your hand at songwriting?

Related image

Yes, I have. From 6th grade to the present, one of my best friends' father is a musician who has been famous in mostly the state of New York for decades (Todd Hobin), and he had a recording studio at their house. In our junior year of high school, Shana - a renowned musician in her own right, having shared the stage with Trans Siberian Orchestra, Josh Groban, Michael Bublé, Regina Carter, Jake Shimabakuro - wrote the music and I wrote the lyrics for a song for one of our group's good friends who was moving away. Mr. Hobin was going to let all of us girls record it in his studio. I ended up getting grounded for that entire year of school for a ridiculous reason, and couldn't go to the recording session, but I still remember how it goes!

3) The lyrics tell us that, as we go through life, it's not uncommon to "lose a dream or two." Do you agree? Have you ever had to give up on a dream?

Related image

Sure. I'd always had the goal of being a famous marine biologist. I got my double-bachelor's degree in Biology and in Marine Science from the University of Miami, and then took a year off to study for my GRE (I'd graduated in three years, so I hadn't had time to prepare), do an internship at Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota, and figure out my options. During college, I'd solidified my plans and became a pioneer of the Elasmobranch Club on campus, having decided to study shark behavior. I decided I wanted to go to the University of South Florida for my Ph.D. (skipping the offers to work on my Master's or Ph.D. there at U.M.), so I could join the lab of the world-famous shark expert, Dr. Philip J. Motta. That's the only lab to which I applied (so like me!), and I got in! This was huge; my fellow marine biologist friends were excited for me. After, three semesters, though, I decided this wasn't the plan for me. I wanted to be married and have a family, and I knew that a high number of scientists who spent a half a year, every year, at sea got divorced; that was not something I wanted. At the same time I was once again weighing my options, I'd met my husband of over 18 years. We eloped two months later, and a few weeks later, I found out I was already pregnant with Chloë. I haven't been an active marine biologist ever since, although I admit I miss it tremendously.

4) Who's the Boss? was about a highly-paid executive who hires a housekeeper. In the 1980s, it was unusual because the exec was a woman and the housekeeper was a man. Do you believe a man can be as good at housework as a woman?

Scan_20161123 (46)

I have no reason to believe otherwise. My husband, who is cooking a double stir-fry right now (tofu for my daughter's girlfriend and me, and chicken for everyone else), and the sicker I've become, the more he's helped around the house and helped guide the kids in their chores. All three - girls and boy - are expected to do the same chores, swapping on a monthly basis, so there is none of that "woman's place," "man's role" nonsense going on here!

5) Though the show's star, Tony Danza, graduated from University of Dubuque and was prepared to be a teacher, he got sidetracked. Back in New York, he boxed and tended bar and fell into acting. He finally did teach in 2010, taking over a 10th grade English class. How many different occupations have you held?

Scan_20161123 (25)

Let's see. Babysitter. Cashier. Author. Alumni Relations Associate. Marine Biologist. Legal Secretary. Stay-Home Mom. Hoping to reclaim "author" again! (That photo is one one the proofs from my college yearbook!)

6) On the show, his daughter was played by Alyssa Milano. When she was a teenager, she rebelled against the show's producers by cutting off her long hair and wearing a pixie style. Were you a rebellious teen?


Not even remotely. Maybe more so, now?
7) "The Boss" was Judith Light, who had been known to TV audiences from her work on One Life to Live. She met Robert Desiderio on the set of the soap opera and they have been married more than 34 years. Tell us where one of your romances got started.

Image may contain: 11 people, including Ben Peterson, people smiling, people standing, wedding and outdoor

When I was in 10th grade, Shana got me to join her for the beginning of the ECOS club in our school, which met at the Junior High. It was there that I met Ben, who was also interested in all things environmental. We started dating November 15th of that year, 1991, and stayed together about a year and a half. We remain friends; that's him at his recent wedding, in the boutonnierre. He's still a Central New York guy.

8) The show -- rebroadcast with subtitles -- was a hit in Italy, where it was known as Casalingo Superpiù (Super Housekeeper). Say something to us in Italian.


La torre pendente di Pisa è molto più corta di quanto mi aspettassi!

9) Random question -- Have you more recently watched the sun rise or set?

Defintely the sun setting, including last night. Here are a few recents; we've seen lots of rainbows lately!


All right. Tofu's ready. I mean, stir-fry. Off to family dinner! Ciao, bellas.


Sunday Stealing: Book Of Questions

Hey, there! Wheeeewwwwww, I'm exhausted.

Rob, Chloë and I spent all day Saturday driving up to get Sophia from camp and then, upon returning to the Boise area, running a billion errands. On our way back to Mountain Home, we stopped and picked up Sophia's girlfriend, another S, who is spending the rest of the weekend with us. I took a nap as soon as we got home, ain't gonna lie, and woke up with an extreme migraine. At the ER, I got pumped full of meds and barely remember anything after that. It's going on 2 PM now; I just woke up. I hope all of you had a more relaxing day than did I on Saturday!

Let's jump in, m'kay? Link up here if you'd like to play along with the rest of us thieves!


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Questions from The Book of Questions

1. Do you think the world will be a better or worse place 100 years from now?
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That depends on your perspective. From a humanistic view, definitely worse, based on our actions today! But for the world as a whole? I think it'll just be different. Things are changing, some irrevocably, and things will once again evolve to a new stasis.

2. Would you accept $1,000,000 to leave the country and never set foot in it again?
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I'm the first guy. Yeah? You promise? I'm outta here!!

3. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the body or the mind of a 30 year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
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Oh, geez. I don't like either choice. Must I pick one? (fine: mind)

4. What would constitute a “perfect” evening for you?
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I really don't know anymore. I'm sure a nap is involved. (Sometimes I take three naps in a day - and recently, I hit four! ME/CFS can bite my arse.)

5. Whom do you admire most?  In what way does that person inspire you?
Rob, before tearing up at Chloë's graduation ceremony
This may sound really corny, but I think it's Hubs. He's been through entirely too much, both emotionally and physically, and yet he rarely complains. He just gets up, keeps going, keeps trying harder, keeps doing what needs to be done without bitching about it (mostly; I mean, he is human!). He's very much like my grandfather in that regard. With all that I've got going on health-wise these days, he serves as a good role model for how I want to be, at least on the few days my ^&*(() body will even let me. (See? There I go!)

6. Do you prefer being around men or women?  Do your closest friends tend to be men or women?
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At least when I was single, I hung around guys more than gals. Most of my friends were male. The scene above was similar to many I had around my college years. That being said, most of my best friends - then and now - are women.

7. If you could use a voodoo doll to hurt anyone you chose, would you?
Wait, could it be Trump?
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But seriously folks... no. Unless it could be used for kindess. Maybe not like the bridal version seen above, but what about one where I could stick a pin (or whatev) in the place(s) where the person hurts, and it takes away their pains? Yeah. I could get on board with that.

8. What is your most treasured memory?
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Well. I have dozens of treasured memories. One that I will treasure forever and ever happened after my son Robby died. I was absolutely devastated, completely heartbroken. There truly are no words to describe my level of despair. My mother-in-law came to visit and help us through it, make the arrangements, etc. I remember during that visit, I went up to take a shower and started sobbing under the water. Hubs told me she'd said to him, "I think your wife needs you right now." He came up and got in the shower with me, probably fully dressed, to hold me while we both cried... But that's not it. During that same visit, in a quiet moment, she gave me the "come here" finger wave and had me sit on the stairs next to her. She pulled out a small box. There was this necklace inside, with a sapphire baby girl represent Chloë, an angel representing Robby, and an aquamarine boy representing his identical twin, Jack (the boys were March babies). It's my most cherished possession; I could not possibly convey the feels I felt in that moment. I just looked at her, started crying, and we hugged. It was our warmest moment together, probably.
P.S. After Sophia was born, Mamacita (my MIL) said, "Well, I guess you better give me that necklace back!" And that's when my little diamond girl joined the team.

9. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?  Is there anything you hope to do that is even better?  (Let’s exclude raising children, if you have them)
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Hmm, I don't know. There have been a lot, but I worked really hard to get into ^^ this ^^ pretty exclusive lab, and I made it in after much hard work on my part.
Even better? I don't know, I have learned that things aren't always "better" or "worse" but more like, just, different. You know? I'd been watinging since my pregnancy and first year with Chloë - who will turn 18 in September - to go to law school when my kids were all grown, but with my brain injury, I don't think that will be possible now. So, author it shall be. eek Fingers crossed!! 🤞🤞🤞
10. If you went to a dinner party and were offered a dish you had never tried, would you want to taste it, even if it sounded strange and not very appealing?
It totally depends. Three things I would NOT eat, no matter what:
Monkey brains - actual
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... and haggis
Three things I have eaten in my non-veg days:
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frog legs - on a cruise
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escargot - on another cruise, or maybe the same?
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sea urchin sushi - in Virginia Beach Town Center
By the way, Rob and I ate that sushi on a date for our anniversary one year, and we both agreed it was among the most DISGUSTING things we'd ever eaten!!! Have y'all had it? 
11. Do your close friends tend to be older or younger than you?
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They're usually the same age or older. I can think of few friends of mine who are younger.
12. How do you feel when people sing Happy Birthday to you in a restaurant?
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It's not my favorite thing in the world, now that I'm no longer eight years old (!!), but if dessert's involved I'm game. I'd rather it be a plate of fruits or even an extravagant fruta loca, though:
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13. When you tell a story, do you often exaggerate or embellish it?  If so, why?
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Yes. I do "edit" my tales sometimes. In short, I say, "I do it for the LOLs." For the longer version of that, I'll borrow from a 2014 article I just found on HuffPost:

"Some people are born storytellers. Other people struggle to hold your attention.

"The difference between a boring story and an interesting one usually boils down to three things: emotions, embellishment, and authenticity.

"Boring stories go in a linear fashion. Poor storytellers repeat every fact and detail with no particular emphasis on one element or the other. They tend to focus on getting every single inane detail exactly right.

"The 'one boring fact after another' technique is a favorite of literalists, who typically tell less than stellar stories.

"Great storytellers, on the other hand, provide interpretation. They help you understand what the story means by drawing your attention to the most interesting parts, which sometimes requires a bit of exaggeration.

"Mark Twain once said, 'Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.'

"[I] not only tell stories, [I] embellish them."

14. If a friend were almost always late, would you resent it or simply allow for it? Can you be allowed to be on time?
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I grew up needing to be excessively punctual. When I got to college in Miami, I learned what it meant to be "on Cuban time" or various other Caribbean cultures' time. That meant: late. Always, always late, so I became very forgiving of them in a hurry!
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As for me, I don't prefer it, but being part of this family necessitates my understanding that, almost always, I will be late!

15. If you could have free, unlimited service for five years from an extremely good cook, chauffeur, housekeeper, or personal secretary, which would you choose?
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Rob is an extremely good cook, and I'm not bad. The kids are learning to hold their own (Jack is the best). Neither Rob nor I mind driving; in fact, we generally like it (although it'd be nice if even one of the kids got their license, finally). I enjoy being the personal secretary of the fam. This one was an absolute, hands-down, no-brainer: Housekeeper. I'm really good at cleaning and alla that, but my body no longer permits it. Rob and the kids share the tasks now, but I'm never super thrilled with the job!
Welp, it's after 1530 now, meaning I've gotta get to some of that "secretarial" work! I do hope y'all will have a lovely week.

Sunday Stealing: Questions Are My Favorite!

Welcome back, y'all! I'm glad you're here. Today we're joining Bev & the gang for a series of questions stolen from elsewhere on the Interwebs. Link up here if you'd like to join us today!


Are you satisfied with the way your life is right now?

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I would want to change my health situation, but otherwise, things I would want to change are minor and insignificant.

Do you drink enough water?

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I'm actually so well hydrated that I've been hospitalized a half-dozen or so times for hyponatremia.

When was the last time you ate at Burger King?

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I never eat at Burger King. Ever.

Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?

Lucky Peak Beach 009

Well, nowadays we can go to the beach in the mountains... but if I had to pick one or the other, it'd be the beach all. day. long.

How do you usually feel when you wake up in the morning?

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Like it's some kind of cruel joke, because I swear I'd just fallen asleep...

Would you rather take someone on a date, or be taken on a date?

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Call me old-fashioned, but I'd love to be taken out on a date.

When was the last time you wore high heeled shoes?


My illness struck in May 2015, and it hit hard. Nevertheless, when we went out to South Beach (Miami) for New Year's Eve that December 31st, I was bound and determined to wear my spiked 5" red heels to match this (I think) smokin' hot dress. I don't wear heels that often; I have weak ankles. I learned my lesson! If the immense crowd hadn't been constantly pressed up against me while we waded our way through the human ocean on Ocean Drive, I definitely would've fallen about sixteen times. I don't think I've worn heels since that day; I don't even own that pair anymore.

Vodka or wine? 

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I actually prefer vodka, but Hubs really had a bad experience with it, so I try to avoid it at home. At a bar/club, though, anything's game!

How often do you cry?


Oh, I'm extremely emotional. Here, speaking at my daughter Chloë's high school graduation a couple weeks ago, I was a wreck!

Ever had a crush on a teacher?

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Well, yes...

Can you wire a plug?

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No. No, I cannot.

Do you wear socks to bed?

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NO! No socks in bed. (I'm particular about my sock habits.) (It's a sensory issue thing.)

What is currently bugging you?

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Oh, nothing much. Really the only thing (other than jaw pain from my root canal on Wednesday) is that I was playing around, taking these superficial photos on Saturday, and I can't decide which I like best. Family is no help; we're evenly split (and Jack just does not care). #FirstWorldProblems

Can you change a car tire?

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I've learned, but I'm not strong enough now to do it myself.

Have you met more than ten celebrities?

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Do I look like Jimmy Fallon?

Do you sleep naked?

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No, I don't like it. Hubs prefers it, but I just can't get comfortable that way.

What was the best music gig you’ve ever attended?

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All of them were great in their own way. Blue Man Group was probably the coolest...

Have you ever had sexual feelings for anyone you follow online?

Rob in Greece

Well. I married this guy I met online, so I guess I can't say no to that!

Who is someone who has changed your life positively?

Señora O'Toole

This adorable woman, Señora - no, now she's Doctora - O'Txxxx, was my Spanish teacher off and on from 7th through 12th grade. She taught me more than a new language, though. And 25 years later, she is still teaching me lessons. (We're friends on Facebook, and also she had my family over for brunch when we were in New York for my 20th high school reunion in 2014.) I adore her.

Favourite city?

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I'm most partial to Manhattan.

Can you drive?

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Yes. Fast. Very, very fast.

Cigarettes or alcohol?

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I have nothing good to say about anything even remotely related to tobacco products. I get an instant migraine from someone smoking cigarettes around me, and it hits even before the smell registers or I see the person. That's probably the worst part of it for me. When people smoke right at the entrance to medical facilities or dining establishments, I truly feel like I could go apeshit on them.

That being said, alcohol - but even that, very rarely.

Favourite and least favourite accents?

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I love all most accents. I adore every international accent I've ever heard. I do not prefer accents from the American South.

Did you play Red Rover when you were a child?

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I surely did!

Do you like 1980s fashion?

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It was maybe fun at the time, but... I don't miss it.


All righty. I've gotta go grab Sophie and watch Season 1, Episode 3 of Stranger Things. Meanwhile, Chloë has already finished Season 3! Can you say "binge watch"?!

Have a lovely week, y'all.


Saturday 9: I Learned From You

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Happy Father's Day weekend, y'all! Things are going well here in the new house, and Hubs took the girls to Boise Pride both yesterday and today, and we had a sleepover last night, and we have lots of fun gifts for my main squeeze tomorrow, and... <pant, pant, pant> we have Chloë's high school graduation tomorrow afternoon! No one is coming so we decided to forgo the party and, as usual, have it just be the five of us. That's fine...

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Link up here if you want to join the rest of us Saturday 9ers (yes, it's late and probably well after dark for some of you already!)...


Saturday 9: I Learned from You (2007)
... Because it's Father's Day weekend.
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is a duet by the father/daughter team, Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus. Is your family musically inclined?
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Partially; my sister, parents, daughters, and I can/could all sing well. My grandfather used to sing in church a lot, and he sang at my sister's wedding, too (I'd forgotten that!). My husband... can not carry a tune in a bucket.

2) This song is about life lessons. Who has been a major influence on your life?
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OMG, that's hilarious. Umm, I couldn't limit that down to just a handful of people if I tried! So I'm going to say that I've been influenced by everyone I've known, people I've only heard about but don't know personally, and everyone else in the entire world.

3) Miley's given name is "Destiny." Her nickname as a baby was "Smiley," which is where Miley came from. What's something that can always be depended upon to make you smile?
This child. Sophia, now 14, has been making us burst out laughing her entire life.
4) Miley's father, country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, has 5 children in addition to Miley (6 in all). Are you the oldest, the middle or the youngest sibling? Or are you an only child?
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I was the youngest of 2/3/4/5, depending on how you want to slice that cake.

5) Sam's own father often traveled for business, and always remembered to bring her the little complimentary soaps, shampoos or body lotion he got from the hotel. Tell us about an inexpensive but treasured souvenir from a trip you've taken.
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I get a shot glass from everywhere I go. But I rarely use them.

6) Back when Sam was in high school, it was her father who gave her driving lessons. Are you patient when teaching someone something new?
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It really depends on both subject and student.

7) Sam's father is easy to buy for: every year he wants a new pair of loafers, so every year for Father's Day she gives him a DSW gift card. Is there anyone on your gift list that you find it easy to buy for?
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Penny loafers? I generally find it easy to shop for those in my immediately family and super-hard for anyone who doesn't live with me!

8) For family barbecues, Sam's dad dons his "Kiss the Chef" apron and mans the Weber. What's the last thing you cooked on the grill?
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I generally don't like grilled food, but I enjoy making meals en papillote from time to time. I used to do that a lot years ago, when we first got married. SO easy!

9) Sam's father satisfies his afternoon sugar craving with an almost endless stream of Butter Rum Lifesavers. When you crave a snack, do you usually reach for something sweet or salty?
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Oh, it varies for me from hour to hour. ;) Sometimes I want something totally junky; other times, it's gotta be a banana or something. Doesn't it vary for everyone? I just had Chloë bring me home a Caramello after craving one for days. It was disappointing. Don't you hate that?!
That was fun; thanks, Sam! Hopefully I'll be much more prompt when it comes to Sunday Stealing! ;)
Image result for tiny waving pride flag gif Cheers, y'all. Image result for tiny waving pride flag gif

Sunday Stealing: The Ask Game

Hey, everyone. I missed Saturday 9, because I was weak and tired and in bed all day, but maybe I'll add it to the end of this post just to add in the fun. ;) It's 2:57 AM on Sunday now, so we'll have to see if the little bit of energy I have holds out 'til then. I hope y'all are well!

Let's begin:


Do you have a passion project? What is it?

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Well, we've kind of stepped back from our candle business a slight bit, now that the holiday season rush is over, but I guess kinda-sorta still that. When my newborn son died in 2003 - Robby, who was the identical twin of our Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome survivor, Jack - I started a nonprofit to knit and crochet layettes (blankets, booties, hats, and a gown or sweater) to give to other bereaved parents experiencing infant loss. Our charity, CARE Package, Inc., received handmade donations from all over the US, and sometimes international donations came in, too. After about 7 years, I wound down the charity to concentrate on other things; namely, homeschooling Chloë, Jack, and Sophia. We're still doing that; I'd love to be knitting all the time still, but my body is rebelling, and I just can't.

How many languages can you speak? 

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I speak Spanish, although I'm not quite fluent, and I'm learning Latin with my girls this year. I speak bits and pieces of several other languages, including French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese... and I'm forgetting some.

What was the last book you read?

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I'm still into Recipes for Repair, which promises to help those who have Lyme Disease. I'm not far into it yet, so I'm hoping it will do what it says it will!

Where in the world would you most like to visit?

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Hands down, I want to visit the Great Barrier Reef the most. I just hope it's not too late, by the time I can get there!

Top 5 fictional characters?

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Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, Caesar Flickerman, Effie Trinket, and Haymitch Abernathy - all right, I admit I have a bit of a love for The Hunger Games series!

Something you miss from your childhood?

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I miss my grandparents something awful! They were among the very few good things about my childhood - no, they were the best!

(P.S. It's 6:25 AM now, and I just woke up. Again. So much for my energy holding out!)

What skill do you wish you had?

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I wish I could really belt it out when I sing. I mean, I can sing well, carry a tune, and all that, but I don't have a lot of power behind my voice. Maybe from being sick a lot as a kid, but I just don't have a voice that can carry to the back of an auditorium without a microphone, y'know? Beyond that, I wish I were an incredible gymnast!

Tell us an interesting fact.

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I don't know if you meant about me or not, but my head immediately goes to sharks - still! Like many animals (Hubs likes doing it to our dogs and cats), sharks - even Great Whites! - will go into a state called "tonic immobility" if you turn them upside down. They are vulnerable and helpless in this state. As they age and grow, they move up to the top of the food chain, just below Orcas and the greatest enemy of all animals: mankind. Some Orcas have developed an ability to put these adult Great Whites into tonic immobility, so that they can feast on only their highly-nutritious livers.

What was your favorite subject in school?

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All sciences, of course, but since I am a biologist, it's gotta be Biology. But I loved school. All school. Even Social Studies... although, I did not and do not like learning about war.

Favorite planet?

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Big, beautiful Jupiter, with it's giant red spot and dozens of moons...

Which historical figure fascinates you and why?

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Mahatma Gandhi, because with his peaceful protests and non-violent resistance, he was on the forefront of changing prejudicial and unjust laws without military might. I admire that.

Favorite mythical creature?

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I love mermaids. In fact, I even admitted in my article on LinkedIn that I think I was one in a past life! ;)

Do you believe in any conspiracy theories?

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What is your favorite word?

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That one. Oh, I thought for some reason you said favorite curse word. hahaha! I really did. Well, maybe for me it's the same? Even though I have an extensive vocabulary, I do find the word f*ck so very useful.

Do you have any obsessions right now?

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Yeah. I'm obsessed with Bob's Burgers, and I've got it on my DVR so I can catch up on as many past episodes as possible. If you're not watching, and you like to laugh, you should totally start.

Do you play any instruments?

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I play a mean harmonica! I took lessons playing the organ my mom played and can do a little keyboarding/piano still, but not much. I'm just horrible at sight-reading music; it doesn't come naturally to me.

What’s your worst habit?

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I stay up long past the state of exhaustion and then can't bring myself to bed. When I eventually do get to bed, I'm so tired I can't get up when it's time. I completely collapse. This habit started in college, where I quickly learned that you either got great grades - or you slept. Now that I have this capricious illness that lets my body either slightly function or not function at all, I take those functional days and don't want to let them goooooo!

Do you have a collection of anything?

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I have a pretty big shot glass collection from all over. I also collect magnets. I have part of my grandmother's spoon collection and part of my mother-in-law's spoon collection, which I love. I used to collect interesting keychains from my travels, too, but I've stopped now that I see how useless they were to me. Just heavy!

What’s your biggest ‘what if’?

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That would probably be "what if" I hadn't abruptly quit my Ph.D. program at the University of South Florida and, instead of taking a little time off to think about my goals in life, eloped with a guy I'd just met off the Interwebs and then quickly found myself pregnant with our first little girl... What if that hadn't all transpired? But it doesn't matter to me to think about these things, because there is nothing I would change about what I did do!

What is your favorite fairy tale?

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Is it any wonder that The Little Mermaid is my favorite fairy tale - Disney-fied or not?!

Have you ever dyed your hair? Is there a color you’d like to dye it?


I have dyed my hair black (once), and I have died it various shades of auburn for years and years... but right now it's undyed. Now I'm seeing all kinds of gray - no, actually, they're pretty shiny silver - but I call them "extra blonde" hairs, even in my eyebrows and lashes!, and I am not really loving it. I'm trying to decide whether and what to dye it next. This, in the foto, is my younger daughter, Sophia. She has just died her naturally-blonde hair this interesting shade of blue. I love it! She has also dyed it turquoise and fuschia in the past. I wish I had her guts!

If you could learn one language overnight, which would you choose?

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Italian. In a heartbeat. So I could go live there and eat my way through the country. You know, in a vegan way, so... cucina povera-style.

What’s the most useless thing you know how to do?

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I can think of a lot of things I can do, but I can't think of any I would term 'useless'! Even cooking meat- and dairy-based dishes is useful to me now, in vegan cooking, because I can take what I have learned and transform my favorite recipes (and new ones!) into something vegan. So... I don't know?

What’s the most important change that should be made to your country’s education system?

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(First of all, look at this graph. It makes me proud of my origin state, New York, because they know what's up! It does make me sad for many of the other states. I have lived around the country enough to know that spending dollars = higher achievement for students. So c'mon, United States! Get with the damn program, already!) Anyway, the most important change I think the US needs to make for the educational system is to PAY EDUCATORS MORE! I think there is fear that if we grant educators a higher salary, we'll be stuck paying higher wages to the same (and I'm absolutely not saying that all current educators are) mediocre teachers. I know the exact opposite will happen. The good teachers, the ones who care and bring knowledge of how to reach our kids, are getting burnt-out and leaving the profession for, often, something that pays more. Mediocrity is what gets left behind. A higher wage will attract better teachers who are able to provide our students with a more robust education. It will. There is no doubt. It just needs to happen. (And we need to get rid of the idiotic Betsy DeVos!)


That was interesting. And long for me. Hopefully it made sense, since my pain and fatigue levels are off the charts! Ugh.

Have a great week, y'all.


Sunday Stealing: 65 Questions, Part The First

Welcome back to Sunday Stealing, another fun meme presented for us by Bev Sykes of "Funny the World." Link up here if you want to join us today!

Sorry for my late posting; another migraine is currently kicking my ass. But I can't stay too long away from you crew without missing you to hell and back, and so here I am. ;)


Here are questions from Savannah at The Rainbow Society
1. Do you ever doubt the existence of others than you?
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Well, I don't know if you meant other humans or other life forms, but I'm choosing to go with the former and say YES! For my entire life, well since I was six years old and moved from Monroe to Syracuse, New York, I have wondered how other people - even those with whom I've had close personal contact - have continued to exist when I can't be there to see them. And with 7.5 billion people on this planet?!! How can they all be going about the daily minutiae of their lives without my being there to witness it?? It boggles the mind.

2. On a scale of 1-5, how afraid of the dark are you?
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Five. Bad things have happened to me in the dark.

3. The person you would never want to meet?
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The false "president," Donald J. Trump. I struggle to maintain my composure and manners around those whom I loathe so completely.

4. What is your favorite word?
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I struggle with various tics of Tourette's Syndrome, including saying random things out loud without thought, so my favorite word changes every time I spit out something new by accident! However, my long-standing most favorite word is "pupitre," which means "student desk" in Spanish. I just like how it sounds.

5. If you were a type of tree, what would you be?
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I would be the mighty Red Mangrove tree, Rhizophora mangle, with it's millions and millions of prop roots, because:
"...The Red Mangrove belongs to the 'true mangroves'. The Red Mangrove is a strong and tough mangrove. Rhizophora mangle can handle changes in humidity, salinity, air- and water-temperature... Rhizophora mangle definitely is the most dominant mangrove on our planet. Rhizophora mangle was described for the first time in 1753 by Carolus Linnaeus."

6. When you looked in the mirror this morning what was the first thing you thought?
I thought, I wish I still looked like this from a couple two-three years ago:
Instead of migraine- and pain-laden, allergic reaction-having this:
Ugh. I look like absolute hell.

7. What shirt are you wearing?
Image result for hey baby what are you wearing
I'm wearing a white long-sleeved shirt, because I'm chilled despite the 75ºF-degree temperature outside. It's like a henley, but it's holey and open, but not too open and holey. Basically, it's comfy.

8. What do you label yourself as?
Image result for I hate labels
What Pearl B. said. ;)

9. Bright room or dark room?
Image result for funky bright room
Full brightness, day and night. Like I said, I'm scared of the dark. And I can't see. I'm both a glaucoma suspect and have just learned I've got the beginnings of cataracts in both eyes. AND I have a condition wherein the message of light and brightness are not being accessed by the brain, so I just cannot see unless every light in the house is on. It's really annoying, especially when I get the electric bill...

10. What were you doing at midnight last night?
Image result for black panther gif
I was finally watching the amazing Black Panther movie with my crew (except for Jack, who had to get up early for work today). I loved this movie! Letitia Wright, as Princess Shuri, was my absolute favorite from the cast; I felt she stole every scene she was in and looked forward to more appearances from her. Who has still not seen it? You simply must!

11. Favorite age you’ve been so far?
Mary Kay makeover
Probably 24. I got married to the absolute joy and love and light of my life, and then I met the then-second biggest joy and love and light of my life, Chloë Raine, a month early and the day before I turned 25. Marriage and motherhood are what bring me the most happiness in my life.

12. Who told you they loved you last?
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This knucklehead, modeling his Navy issued pea coat, pretend-smoking the Meerschaum pipe he brought home from Turkey. 

13. Your worst enemy?
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You're looking at her. I am my own worst enemy, I'm afraid.

14. What is your current desktop picture?
Week 37 of 52 - Weird
I have this capture, taken for me by Chloë, of some of our 20 newly-hatched chicks. At that time, they were being kept in a kiddie pool in our living room and learning to drink and eat from waterers and feeders. Now they've graduated to the outdoor pen. I can't wait to see what this mixed run of rare and super-rare breeds turn out to be!

15. Do you like someone?
Collage School Pix
I'm pretty fond of this crew. I am, however, not fond of their growing up entirely too rapidly. It makes my eyes wet.

16. The last song you listened to?
Image result for vivaldi four seasons
Right now I'm streaming "The Four Seasons" composed by Vivaldi via YouTube on the telly via Chromecast. Ah, technology. Before that, I was streaming a Vocal Jazz medley, but after a chorus of complaints, I switched from Jazz to Classical. There are still complaints. I am not surprised.

17. You can press a button that will make any one person explode. Who would you blow up?
Image result for green eggs and ham
I would not, could not, do that to a soul, tot... or not.

18. Who would you really like to just punch in the face?
Image result for throat punch donald trump gif
I'd really like to throat-punch this devilish duo.

19. If anyone could be your slave for a day, who would it be and what would they have to do?
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I don't need a slave, I have these minions. And it's not just for a day, it's for LIFE. ha.

20. What is your best physical attribute? (showing said attribute is optional)
I think it depends on what my current weight is. When I'm thin, I adore my shoulders and clavicle. When I'm a bit heavier, it's my nose and eyes. I think they're okay.

21. If you were the opposite sex for one day, what would you look like and what would you do?
Image result for change is good meme
I don't even know what I'd do or look like. I guess I'd go out and get more respect at a car dealership or anywhere else considered a "man's world." And I would be pissed about it, too!

22. Do you have a secret talent? If yes, what is it?
Image result for bending the first knuckle of your fingers
Hmm, I don't know. But I can do this ^^^ on each finger of both hands. I've been doing it since I was 7 years old. I read about it just now. Apparently it's called "Swan Neck Deformity" and can be a symptom of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Both of those are concerns I might have. I guess it's better than having polydactyly, though.

23. What is one unique thing you’re afraid of?
Image result for fancy mustard
Mustard. Specifically, the smell of mustard and, even more frightening, the chance of it touching me. I just cannot even. And I make Rob watch his face and brush his teeth before he can kiss me.

24. You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your disposal.
Image result for hummus and pita
It would be a pita full of pine nut-filled hummus, sundried tomatoes, sprouts, and cucumbers. Mmm-mmm good.

25. You just found $100! How are you going to spend it?
Related image
I'd spend 100% of the $100 on healthy, nutritious, preferably locally-sourced and organically-grown groceries for my family.

26. You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere in the world, but you have to leave immediately. Where are you going to go?
Image result for beautiful australia
Oh, I'd head straight for Australia, mate! It's long been a dream of mine and it's on the top of my Bucket List to go there.

27. An angel appears out of Heaven and offers you a lifetime supply of the alcoholic beverage of your choice. “Be brand-specific” it says.
Image result for endless mai tais
Okay, that's just weird, but I'll play along: I'd have endless Mai Tais. Mmm, so delish. I think I like them even better than piña coladas, which is surely saying something! The first time I remember having a Mai Tai was in a dive bar near the beach, when we lived in Virginia Beach. I forget what it was called, but it was for a mystery shop. Rob probably had a Colorado Bulldog, and I decided to order a Mai Tai. The bartender served it with a wedge of orange, pineapple, and a red, yellow, and orange cherry. I was hooked from there.

28. You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own society. You make the rules. What is the first rule you put into place? 
Image result for ban on smoking
Of course, I would ban all smoking of any kind, including vaping. No one can smoke anything. My island, my rules! ;)

29. What is your favorite expletive?
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Probably "fuck," although I have a pretty good curse-word lexicon, and I'm not afraid to use it. People may think that exhibits my stupidity, but I know intelligence has nothing to do with cursing.

30. Your house is on fire. You have just enough time to run in there and grab ONE inanimate object. Don’t worry, your loved ones and pets have already made it out safely. So what’s the one thing you’re going to save from that blazing inferno?
Image result for pretty laptop
Well, this sounds like I'm coming home from somewhere to find this fire, so I know I would already have my purse and phone with me. I always do. So... I guess I'd grab my laptop. Lots of info on there I wouldn't want to lose.
Well, phew! That was quite a long one and took me a long time to answer! But it was fun; thanks, Bev.
Hope y'all have a great week.

Saturday 9: Teenage Dream

Guten Morgen Klasse! What's the haps? I woke up around 0545 and, after using the facilities and finding a blanket (I'm insulted by the 59ºF temperature despite it being STILL SUMMER!!!), the first thing I did was queue up "Have It All" by Jason Mraz (love, love, love it) and come to write this week's edition of S9.

So welcome back! I hope you've all had a great week. Link up here if you want to join in the fun!


Saturday 9: Teenage Dream (2010)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Much of the video for this week's song takes place in a convertible and on the beach. How's the weather where you are? Would you be comfortable riding around with the top down today?
Image result for beautiful dreadlocks
This is funny. I was just talking about this with my 17- (!!!) year-old daughter, Chloë, yesterday. She's got thick, ringleted curly hair; I have straight, fine hair. Somehow we got on the topic of riding around in a convertible with the top down. Growing up, my dad always had at least six cars - one of them being a '71 Dodge Challenger convertible in mint condition. White, with red racing stripes. We drove around constantly, on the weekends, just for the sake of riding around with the top down. No seat belts, wind whipping my hair around so it stabbed me in the eyes, and I loved every minute of it. Loved it. I insisted she'd end up with dreadlocks in her hair after a ride like that, but she disagreed. I know I'm right, but there's only one way to prove it, and we don't have a convertible. Anyway, yes, unless there was snow on the ground, I'd be comfortable with it! It'll get up to 73ºF by 1400, and that's when I plan to steal a convertible - red Mazda Miata for me, please - to do just that. ;)

2) This video was filmed all around Katy Perry's hometown of Santa Barbara. Amtrak runs through Santa Barbara via The Pacific Surfliner. Tell us about a memorable train trip.
Image result for Florida Tri Rail
When I was in my middle year of college (never know what to call it, since I graduated in three years), one of my two best friends, Shana, came down to the University of Miami from New York to see me for Spring Break. One day, we wanted to go out to South Beach, but I didn't have a car yet at that point. So we first jumped on the MetroRail to get from Coral Gables to the end of that track, in Hialeah. Then we rode the Tri-Rail from Hialeah toward South Beach. Finally, we hopped on the local bus to get down to the beach. We had a great time in the sun and surf that day, and then we did the same thing in reverse to get back to UM. The whole trip took four hours round-trip, but it was worth it, because I'll never forget that day with my girl!

3) Katy sings that her boyfriend thinks she's funny, even when she gets the punchline wrong. Do you think you're a better joke-teller or audience?
091218 FREE Pedicure from Reginald
Oh, I'm a much better audience. I suck at remembering jokes, much less telling them correctly the first time; I'm much better at making my own one-liners on the spot. Rob, on the other hand (seen here giving me a pedicure for my birthday the other day), is a master at telling jokes. He constantly has me in stitches. Occasionally, he'll tell me a story, to which I'm trying to listen intently, and it'll end up being a complete set-up for a joke he's heard. It'll take me a few beats to realize the whole thing was a joke, and I'll end up jabbing him in the ribs in disgust. But he amuses me nonetheless.

4) Her "teenage dream" lover is shown working out with a heavy bag. When is the last time you visited a gym?
Image result for gym funny quotes
I'm not one to spend much time at the gym. I just hate it. An hour on the treadmill on the gym sounds dreadful to me; I'd much rather be going somewhere, seeing new scenery, having new interactions and encounters... anyway, technically I was at the gym Friday afternoon with my physical therapist, learning new exercises to help get my pelvis back in alignment. Does that count?

5) Katy changes her hair a lot. She's gone from long black hair to cropped blonde hair with stops at red, green and purple. Today, are you having a good hair day?
Target Beauty Box
Well, I just woke up, so not currently. Up there, in the top right, is the new Dry Shampoo by OGX, which I just received yesterday in the latest Target Beauty Box. I used it yesterday, not being up to taking a shower, and it smells soooo good! It also helps extend my shampoo out another day (or, ahem, two), so I can skip the shower and look halfway presentable for being seen in public. Have y'all ever used a dry shampoo? Which one do you like?

6) Katy thinks dimples are "irresistible" and can't help poking a finger when a dimpled friend smiles. Do you have dimples?

Mel dimples selfie
I do have dimples. A few of the kids inherited them from me.
7) Two of Katy's fragrances (Meow and Purr) are sold in cat-shaped bottles. Are you wearing a scent as you answer these questions?
Charcoal + Magnesium Deodorant Stick
Not really, but I am wearing Schmidt's Charcoal + Magnesium Mineral Deodorant (also a new thing for me, from the Tar-jay Beauty Box) at the moment, and I find the scent of it delightful.
8)  Katy's favorite dessert is ice cream (specifically Cold Stone Creamery's Birthday Cake Remix). What's the last dessert you ate?

091318 FREE Cheesecake & Drink from Chili's (2)
I had some of this free cheesecake from Chili's as part of our Birthday Freebies Tour (ongoing), Thursday night. It was delicious!
9) Random question: How often do you change your bedsheets?
Ideally, every week, especially since our two pups, Tapioca and Paco, sleep under the covers with us each night... but we don't get to stick to that schedule very often. Our laundry is forever goingN nonstop...! If I had more opulent sheets like these, I might be more motivated to wash them on the optimal schedule. Now where can I find these...?
That was a fun one! Thanks, Gal... er, I mean, Crazy Sam! ;) Always good a good cuestionario from you. Hope all of you have a great weekend!

Saturday/Sunday Mash-Up


Hey kids, what are we all talking about in here? Can I join?

Well, if you came to read Sunday Stealing, you've come to the right place. Aaaaand... because I forgot what day it was yesterday, Saturday 9 is here, too. I've missed a couple weeks, I think.

We've had a lot of wildfires this summer, and my asthma was horiblé. Now that weather conditions have improved, I'm breathing easier again. (Rob totally brought me to the ER because I couldn't breathe and thought I had pneumonia, but it was an asthma attack! I felt so dumb. But in my defense, something I've had my whole life didn't get properly diagnosed until last year!)

Time to get started with this week's Saturday 9.


She Works Hard for the Money (1983) 

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is about a woman who works hard as a waitress. What's the hardest job you've ever had?

After thinking about this for a minute, I'd have to say teaching freshman biology while I was working on my PhD at USF. That was really the first time I truly had to confront my weaknesses in academia. I found out quickly that teaching was hard. Like, hard hard. It was a totally new kind of challenge for me.

2) The lyrics tell us she has worked at this job for 28 years. What's the longest you stayed with one employer?

Other than motherhood (It'll be 17 years this Friday!), it would have to be working at various Publix supermarkets in Florida. Three different ones: in Coral Gables, in St. Petersburg, and then again in Panama City Beach. I liked it more than teaching! Heh.

3) Donna Summer was inspired to write this song during an awards show. She ducked into the bathroom and met the elderly ladies' room attendant, whose job it was to make sure the room the spotless, the complimentary hairspray and moisturizer was abundant, and there was a hot towel for every celebrity who used the facilities. "Wow," Donna thought, "she works hard for those tips." Who is the last person you tipped?

I feel like it's been kind of a while. Maybe it was the pizza delivery guy from Pie Hole? I think so. We'll go with that.

4) Early in her career, Donna was in the touring company of the musical Hair. It played in Munich for so long that she became fluent in German. What's the longest you have ever lived away from home?


Well, that's hard to say. I've never had a home that I've wanted to go back to after I left! I have no parents' house to return to when I'm sad or down and out or anything, so... I guess I'll use this concept a little loosely. When Rob and I got married, and Chloë was a wee babe, we moved to Guam for four months. Just four months!
5) Sam's dad is naturally outgoing and enjoys striking up conversations with waitresses, librarians, the checker at the supermarket, etc. Sam is always polite but more private. Are you more like father or daughter?

Image may contain: Bob Simmons, closeup

Look at this guy, blowing a kiss! That's actually his Facebook profile picture! That's my dad. He strikes up conversations with everybody, too - and this lecherous old man also flirts - hard - with any cute young thing. Ugh. I'm an extroverted (but not much) introvert, so I'm more like daughter.

6) A little more than 10% of the American workforce is self-employed. Have you ever been your own boss?

I've done various things over the years. Like... back when we lived in Virginia Beach, I had a dessert business. However, I quickly learned that rather than something like this:

Image result for delicious cakes

I'm better at smaller desserts more like this:

Image result for beautiful petit fours

And now I want to make some petit fours! Too bad I sold off almost all of my baking tools when we moved to Miami and becoming broke was no joke!

7) Labor Day weekend may offer a golden opportunity for napping and sleeping in. Do you snore?

Image result for snore

I love how it's always the women complaining about their husbands snoring! Why is that a thing? LOL... Yes, I snore; my hubs rarely does!

8) Will you be attending a Labor Day picnic or barbecue? 

Image result for Japan celebration

Y'know, I don't think so? But we will be going down to celebrate Japan Day at the local Basque Center (just trust me), so that will be fun. I hadn't even thought about what to do after that!

9) Labor Day traditionally marks the beginning of the fall. Will you be adding any new fall clothes to your wardrobe?

Image result for Restyle thrift store boise

I'm sure I will. Every season we all (except Jack; he just wants me to pick out his clothes for him) go to the local ReStyle Animal Rescue Thrift Store. It's like this: they have a punch card. For every 5 donations AND 5 $10 in purchases, you get 50% off your entire next order. And every day, their great quality but already-low prices go even further down, with a different color tag being some percentage off for that day. And on top of that, we get a military discount! So I the girls shop 'til we drop and then come home and show the boys our goods. It's fun!


Well that was a good one, Sam! Thanks for the fun! I've been distracted by watching Chip and Joanna Gaines on Fixer Upper this morning. I'm very new (like, as of this summer) to their show, but it didn't take long for me to fall in love with them! He's so cute to her.


Time for some Sunday Stealing, which this week is oddly named Freaky Poptart! (Click the links to see other players' answers.)


What is one thing that you would change about yourself if you could?

Image result for temper tantrum gif

There is not a lot about me I'd keep! I'm not my own biggest fan. But I would definitely change my temper. I'd love to be more mild-mannered than I am.

Name three exotic countries you would like to visit:

Image result for Japan Image result for Australia Image result for argentina

I would visit Japan, Australia, and Argentina! Oh, hell, I'll go anywhere 'long as you're buyin'!

What do you think the secret to life is?

Image result for BE THE JOY

I think the secret really is that you have to bring joy to others. The more joy you give out, the more joy that ;,; ,mcomes back to you. It's the good kind of vicious-cycle. I try to develop that sense of joy in each of my kids. (Although it's pretty hard for Jack.)

Best concert: 

Image result for bob dylan baseball concert norfolk virginia

I'd have to say it was the Bob Dylan * John Mellencamp * Willie Nelson concert at the Norfolk Tides' baseball field back in Virginia. Bob Dylan is a huge favorite of Rob's, and he really wanted to go see them play. I was so thrilled to be able to take him, and he had a great time. I even liked their opening act, The Wiyos!

Song you can listen to over and over and not get tired of: 

Image result for maroon 5

That changes all the time, but lately it has been "Girls Like You" by Maroon 5; I even like the Cardi B bit, and I'm not a huge Cardi B fan. It's catchy!

Worst movie music soundtrack or score: 

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My mind is a blank on this one.

A song you wish wouldn't get stuck in your head but always does: 

Image result for wayfair logo

Have you heard the Wayfair jingle on their commercials? There's a ton of them every commercial break on HGTV, it's so annoying... but also catchy.

Who was your FIRST date?

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It was this guy, Ken, who was a year ahead of me in school. We went to the movies. I don't remember what we saw. Soon after that, we met up at this mall near my house, which was a total ghost town by that point... my first kiss. Now I know he is the biggest a-hole, but eh. You gotta know what bad is before you can realize how good good is, right?

Image result for heart And Rob is GOOD. Image result for heart

Do you still talk to your FIRST love?

Image may contain: 2 people, including Ben Peterson, people smiling, outdoor

Yeah, Ben and I are still Facebook friends... although I guess I've been asleep at that wheel, because it appears he just got married?!! I'm so shocked!

What was your FIRST alcoholic drink?

Image result for shots of goldschlager

In my Senior year of high school, my older friends from work used to take me out a lot wherever they went - including to bars. I mean, I was only 17, so their trick was to get me drunk on shots of Goldschläger at one of their homes before going out to drink some more. We had a lot of fun times, and we made a lot of memories, but I obviously don't recommend that! I have more than one Goldschläger story. So, I don't like the smell of cinnamon much anymore! Image result for winky face

What was your FIRST job?

Image result for first job funny

I did a lot of babysitting first, but my first actual paycheck was from BigM market in Baldwinsville, New York. Fun times; I loved it and, for a while, my best friend Lisa worked in the deli while I ran the cash register. (I've worked in a lot of grocery stores! Winn-Dixie, too, in South Carolina - oh and also, for two days, Fred Meyer here in Boise!)

What was your FIRST car?

Image result for 1991 ford escort wagon red

This picture almost makes me cry. I bought a red 1991 Ford Escort wagon in September 1993, when I was starting Senior year. My father basically stole it from me. It's not a happy memory.

Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane?

Image result for New Jersey

Hm. I've been flying since birth practically, so I don't even really know! When we moved to Syracuse from Monroe, New York, we started flying back and forth to my mom's parents in New Jersey a lot. But I think we I had to have flown since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk?

My first two best friends were my sister Stacey our babysitter's daughter, Ursula. This is my sister with her (now about grown) daughters:

Image may contain: 4 people, including Karen Johnson and Stacey Johnson, people smiling, people standing, sky, cloud and outdoor

and this is my friend Ursula with her beautiful family:

Image may contain: 5 people, including Ursula Petricek, people smiling, people standing, child, stripes and outdoor

And yes, I still talk to both.

Whose wedding did you attend the FIRST time?

Image result for little girl in pink bridesmaid dress

It was my dad's to his new (now ex-) wife a year after my mother died. (They started dating three months after Mom died, and he still says my mom was his real true love, etc. Right, right.) My dress was pink; I think Stacey's was peach, Aarin (younger step-sister) had a blue one, and Mindy (older step-sister) wore purple. All matching but different pastel colors. Gag me. (Maybe that's why I hate pastel so much!)

Tell us about your FIRST roommate.

Image result for rochester

That would be Jen from Rochester, when we were freshman dorm-mates at the University of Miami. We hit it off right away and had a lot of fun. We are not still friends.

If you had one wish, what would it be (other than more wishes)?

Image result for coexist


I wish I didn't have to live in a world where my neighbors didn't keep taking the COEXIST sticker off my car! Because, y'know, they're the people that need to read it and heed it. (And then I wish we had a house of our own, again.)

Back of car

What is something you would learn if you had the chance?

Image result for Latin

The girls and I are learning Latin together this year. I thought I would have a disadvantage over them because of speaking Spanish, but I really don't! In fact, Chloe is beating both of us, and Sophie is neck-and-neck with me. If I could, I would learn every language spoken in this world.

Did you marry the FIRST person you were in love with?

Nope, I married this dork:

Image may contain: 1 person

 He's so cheerful!

What were the first lessons you ever took and why? 

Image result for organ lessons

These probably weren't my first lessons but the first ones I remember. After my mom died, she left her electric organ, like this one, behind. I couldn't bear to see it and let it just go to waste, so to help me keep my mother alive in my heart, I begged my dad to let me take lessons and use it. I did for a couple of years, but I never got terribly good at it. Then my stepmother came along, decided she didn't want it around anymore, and bought a sleek baby grand piano to put there instead. And she couldn't even play! F**k her.

What is the first thing you do when you get home? 

Front entry

The first thing I do when I walk in is hang up my keys on "the fish." See that arrow? Same thing, every time. On the other hand, when Rob drives, he never hangs up the keys, and they are often missing after that. Also, that fish is supposed to be for keys. Not multiple baseball hats, not multiple dog leashes, but keys. Although now that I have one of my girls' leis from Boise Pride hanging on my hook, I guess I can't say too much!


Ahhh, finally done. That was fun, but because I'm distracted by Fixer Upper, it's taken me forever! Man, I wish we could afford a fixer upper. And Chip and Joanna Gaines, of course.



Shout out of thanks! It was so unexpected when something from our daughter's Amazon wishlist, for her spendy Art program this year, showed up in the mail from you! I was moved to tears, so touched I was. Sophia was shocked, too. Thank you so much for doing that! Our fundraiser has kind of stalled out at $50 donated, and we still have several supplies and about $200 for the course left to go, so we were absolutely grateful for the help. You know who you are - you rock!


Saturday 9: The Love Club

Image result for Lorde the love club

Hey, y'all, welcome back! I'm glad you could join me. If you'd like to play along today, don't forget to link up with the rest of the Sat 9ers here. So, let's go!


The Love Club (2013)
Unfamiliar with this week's song. Hear it here.

1) Lorde has said this song is about a time when she fell into "a bad crowd." Her high-maintenance new friends were all about their romantic dramas and it overwhelmed her. Have you ever had a friend who was just too much work?

Image result for oops

I have had a couple actually, but generally, I think that friend is me. I am a high-maintenance person, I admit.

2) She sings that she longs to be alone. Where do you go when you want peace and quiet?

Image result for manta ray breaching

If I weren't landlocked now in Boise, Idaho, I would say, "to the beach!" One time, way back when I was still in college in Coral Gables, Florida, I decided that I needed a bit of soul time convening with my first love, the ocean. I drove out to Bill Bass State Park at the end of Key Biscayne early on a Sunday morning, and I sat on the beach and stared out at the water. I was having a bit of trouble with this and that, and so after a while, I decided to pray. I prayed about all of the struggles in my life at the time, and I prayed for guidance.  After I finished, I looked back up at the water, and at that moment, for the first time, I saw a manta ray breach. It was one of the most beautiful, most glorious things I had ever seen in my entire life. So now that I can no longer just wake up and go straight to the ocean, I will say, "to nature." I always have to be alone and outside to be one with Mother Nature.

3) Lorde credits her mother for encouraging her verbal skills. "Mum" let her join a theater class when she was just 5 and was always giving her books. Tell us about an encouraging, understanding adult who assisted you when you were growing up.

Image result for Joanne O'Toole

That would be my Middle, Junior High, and High School (not straight through) Spanish teacher, then known as Señora O'Toole. A lot of times, I didn't talk to her directly, but through my written work in Spanish. I didn't know it until much, much later - when I didn't even remember writing that stuff - when all of Team Odette went up to the Syracuse area in 2014 for my 20th high school reunion. My family and I had breakfast with Doctora O'Toole (as she's now known, on the faculty of SUNY Oswego) one morning, at her house. She told me about how those journal entries in Spanish used to break her heart. We talked sometimes, when I was still in school, about what was going on, but I never shared too much for fear of over-sharing. (Another Spanish teacher, Sra. Nevid, had seen bruises all over my arms once, CPS was called, it was a huge deal of course, and I got in big trouble at home for it.) However, it was good to know that Sra. O'Toole, and others, cared. ♥

4) Lorde is not the only celebrity from her class at Belmont School in Auckland, New Zealand. Olympian Eliza McCartney was a classmate who went on to win a bronze medal in Rio for the pole vault. Did you participate in any sports in high school?

I really didn't. I'm not terribly athletic, unlike my equestrian daughter, Sophia. (Speaking of the Olympics, Sophie has such aspirations. She'll be 13 in April; we tell her about 54-year-old Beezie Madden and remind Sophie that she has plenty of time..!) I danced for several years and was quite good at that, though.

6) Lorde wrote music for one of the Hunger Games soundtracks. Have you seen any of the Hunger Games movies, or read any of the books?

Image result for hunger games logo

I tried to read the books, but never got very far into the first one. We have, however, seen all four movies. SO GOOD!! I love this series!

7) Her favorite candy is Peanut M&Ms. Do you prefer Milk Chocolate, Peanut, Almond, Mint or Crispy M&Ms?

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None of the above! It's got to be Peanut Butter. Have you not tried them?! Oh, but you must.

8) When Lorde was on stage at Lollapalooza, a sudden storm interrupted her set. The music festival was evacuated and her performance was cancelled. Can you think of a time when the weather had a major impact on your plans?

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I lived in South Florida from 1994-2001, and then moved back to Miami from 2013-2017, so I can think of many times! The first time, I was a freshman/sophomore (I technically came in as a sophomore, but never mind that) at UM when Tropical Storm Gordon hit. That was in the 1994 hurricane season, my first experience with one. Classes were canceled for days! I had to wade through thigh-high water to go anywhere, for about a week after the wind and rains stopped. I ruined so many pairs of shoes from the humidity, too.  When we moved back in 2013, I warned my kids about that over and over! I don't think we lost one shoe to mold from being caught in the rains. #ILearnedSomethingInCollege ;)

9) Random question: Please complete this sentence -- Before I leave the house, I always __________________________.

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... fill up my cups. I usually bring two: one with water, and one with the Fred Meyer version of Diet Coke (which isn't half bad and a helluva lot cheaper). I get really dehydrated super-fast, so I always bring both if I'm going to be gone any length of time. It's really annoying. I normally drink 8-10 L of H2O/diet soda/whatever per day, and I have been hospitalized with hyponatremia three times that I can think of. My sodium goes so low, it really messes with my neurological system, among other things, and my potassium, chloride, and other electrolytes get messed up, too. The last time I was admitted for it, in January, they limited me to an intake of 1.5 L per day. Oh, my God, I struggled!! I have really tried to cut back since then.


Welp, y'all, I appreciate the visit! I hope your weekend is amazing! I have a busy one full of taking care of 3 sick teenagers. Yay, me. Hopefully, yours will be more exciting!


Sunday Stealing: Friday Question Meme

Welcome back, strangers! Link up here if you wish to thieve along with the rest of us today.


  1. Have you ever tried to learn (or re-learn) a foreign language as an adult? Which one? What worked for you?
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  3. I tried to pick up French and Italian, but without formal training it was too difficult and I gave up. I would still love to learn, however!

    2. Do you donate blood? Do you know your blood type?
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  5. I'm O-negative, and yes, I've donated blood many times. I don't think I'm supposed to do it anymore, though, so I haven't in a while.

    3. Have you ever been in a play or musical?
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  7. In fifth grade, I played the Caterpillar in our school's production of Alice in Wonderland. I stole the show, too! After that, I didn't have the guts to audition anymore.

    4. Do you use certain text or ring tones for specific people? Who gets their own? Or do you just use the default on your phone?
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  9. I recently had to factory-reset my phone, which hurt like hell! I lost almost everything. I haven't set up everyone with their own ringtones and text tones yet, but Hubs has his own so far. Everyone else is on default.

    5. When did you get your first digital camera? Do you still shoot on actual film, or all digital now?
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  11. I have a Nikon DSLR, which everyone in the family knows is My Baby! For our 17th anniversary earlier this month, "Hubs" (okay I got it myself) bought me the new zoom lens I've been eyeballing. [I had a different Nikon with tons of lenses and things before, but the camera and most of the lenses were stolen out of my house.] Only, when I finally got the new zoom, it wasn't compatible with my camera! I was soooo disappointed. We returned it; guess we'll start over next month.

    6. What do you think someone else would say the most daring thing you’ve done is? 
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  13. I think that honor would go to eloping with Hubs exactly two months after we met online. Seventeen years later, I think it was the right decision. ;)

    7. Do you talk with your hands?
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  15. You'd think I was Italian, yeah...

    8. Do you have a lucky number? What is it, and what is the story behind it?
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  17. Ever since I was a very little kid, my favorite number has been 64. I have no idea why. I like to think it was the future math nerd in me that knew it was the perfect square of 8, the perfect cube of 4, four itself being the perfect square of 2, and 64 being four times the perfect square of 4: 16! (That made me sound incredibly lame, didn't it?)

    9. What kind of milk did you drink, growing up? And now?
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  19. I drank regular cow's milk, but I don't remember what fattiness percentage or anything like that. Nowadays, I'm extremely lactose intolerant, so I have to stay far, far away from la leche de vaca. I like Ripple, a milk made from pea protein. It's pretty good!

    10. What is your favorite kind of pie?
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  21. Apple pie! But truthfully, it's not regular apple pie. My favorite is Dutch apple cream pie, made with sour cream. Mm-mmm, so good!

    11. Are you a note taker?
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Oh yeah, I take a ton of notes. You know that Post-It Note® scene in A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crowe? That could so be me.

  1. 12. Do you have an eclectic mug collection, or is your stuff all matchy-matchy?
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  3. Mostly, our mugs are different hues of Fiestaware, but there is a mug for each of the kids that I made on Shutterfly for Christmas. (Hubs got an engraved silver flask instead, heh.)

    13. Do you have a junk drawer in your house/garage/at work/wherever?
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  5. Yup. It's in the kitchen, next to the refrigerator. Doesn't everyone?

    14. What is the longest amount of time you’ve worked at one job – and what was/is it?
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  7. I've been "Mom" forever and a day.

    15. How old were you when you took your first commercial flight? To where did you fly?

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Oh, I've been flying pretty much my whole life. I'm not sure where that first flight was to/from. I do remember my first solo flight, from Newark, New Jersey (visiting my grandparents) to Syracuse, New York (home). I've always loved flying!


Thanks for stopping by! I hope everyone has a great week. :D

Saturday 9: Jump

Hey, folks. Link up here if you want to play along this weekend.


Saturday 9: Jump (1984)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) David Lee Roth does a lot of jumping in this video. He credits his flashy moves to his study with martial artist Benny Urquidez. Have you ever tried karate, judo, or jiu-jitzu?


A. When I was five or six years old, my parents dragged Stacey and me to their first-ever karate class. We were waiting outside, dawdling and loitering and killing time, when suddenly my mom made a mad dash out the door, followed promptly by my father. I asked, "What's wrong with Mom?" And Dad shouted over his shoulder, laughingly, as he ran past, "She peed her pants doing a kick!" This incident has shaded my opinion of ever personally taking karate classes myself.

B. Jack and Sophia started taking some faux-Korean Karate classes via a Groupon in Summer 2015, from some shamster named "Master Dave." The lessons were bogus, and they learned diddly squat and hated every minute of it. We didn't even finish out their 10-session Groupon. What a load of bunk.

C. My older daughter, Chloë, is interested in taking some self-defense courses, and I met a guy at the craft beer shop recently who runs a local Krav Maga studio. He said we could check it out for our first class for free. Free is my favorite price! Since Chloë is unbearably shy, I plan to join her in this. Soon, I hope.

2) Dave claims to be fluent in Spanish. Say something en español.

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That Keanu meme cracks me up every time!! I'm fairly fluent in Spanish and can say or work my way around most verbal obstacles with ease. I'm not sure what to tell you. Let's see: Tengo quatro hijos: dos hijas y dos hijos. Unos de mis hijos es un ángel.

3) Dave appeared as himself in an episode of The Sopranos, playing poker with Tony Soprano. Are you a good poker player?

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First of all, I have no poker face. I wear my heart on my sleeve and my emotional state on my face. Second, a former friend gave me $20 to play at the Texas Hold 'Em low-bets table in Vegas back in 1999 or so. I lost that $20 in about five minutes. So, no. I'm no good at the ol' poker.

4) Though known for his prowess on the guitar, Eddie Van Halen wrote the opening of this song at the keyboard when he was still new to the synthesizer. When do you recently venture outside your comfort zone? Was it a success?

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When I was in the hospital recently for this pneumonia, I was a fall risk. I needed help going anywhere and doing anything, including using the restroom. The nurse I had on the first two days insisted on staying in the bathroom with me and watching my every move. Despite my delirium, I had enough sense to know that I was extremely uncomfortable with this - AND I had an upset stomach at the time - AND it stunk. I was mortified by her presence while I navigated each and every bathroom trip. Needless to say, I survived, but oh my God, was it way outside my comfort zone.

P.S. Her name was Kelsey, and we eventually grew close enough during that hospital stay that I'm kicking myself for not getting her contact info so we could keep in touch and be friends!

5) Eddie's older brother Alex is the Van Halen drummer, and his son Wolfie began touring with the band in 2007. Have you ever worked with a family member?

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I worked in my Dad's travel business office in high school, for no pay. I did menial labor and basically all his computing needs, since he is so not savvy it hurts. He left me there for hours on end with no way of leaving, often with nothing of substance in the fridge or in the cupboards. Once, I was so hungry, I ate spoonful after spoonful of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter with nothing else. To this day, I gag thinking of that stuff.

6) Van Halen's first manger was Marshall Berle. Mr. Berle's uncle was Milton Berle. Does the name Milton Berle mean anything to you? 

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I think of late-show comedy. Like Johnny Carson-era and earlier. 

7) In 1984, when this song was popular, AT&T/Bell Telephone was broken up into 24 separate companies. Today, who is your phone provider?

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Right now and for the past four or five years, we've been with AT&T. We're thinking of switching to Sprint, if I'm right about their promotions that will slash our bill in more than half. If anyone has thoughts - good or bad - about Sprint, I'm game to hear them, please!

8) Also in 1984, Michael Jackson was severely burned while filming a Pepsi commercial. Would we find any Pepsi in your kitchen right now?

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You gotta be crazy with that nonsense.

9) Random question: Have you ever been so angry that you kicked or hit an inanimate object?

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I've been known to throw a dish or two at the floor when I'm super-duper-extremely pissed. Although not my Fiestaware, no sir! And I do have a rather large collection of it, though not quite as extensive as the photo above. #2018Goals!


Well I'm in a much better mood than when I started this meme. Thanks for the fun, Crazy Sam!!


Sophia's 12th Birthday

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Yesterday, this young lady turned 12 years old! [Mom whine: I can't believe my "baby-est baby is twelve! :*( ] I asked her when I last grocery shopped if she wanted brownies or cake, and she decided on brownies. If you look closely at this brownie "cake," you'll see it's a mega-mess from Sophia turning over the pan to dump out her "cake" before they were done. Haha, eager much?? But no matter; they turned out to be a bit of deliciousness and made a young girl quite happy.

Jack bet Sophie that she wouldn't be able to blow out all the candles on her cake, and when she did so easily, there was a bit of braggadocio on her part. I knew she c
ould do it. Foofers, as we call her, can do damn near anything she puts her mind to doing. ;)


Our tight budget right now indicates that presents are small and few, so Sophia was looking at me as if to ask, "What did you do?" when I presented her with this tiny, gift-wrapped parcel. Chloë and I had had to do some coupon shenaniganizing at Walgreens when we went to pick up a few prescriptions before brownie cake time, and this was the result:


...Gum and a little bit of Mango candy to share with her siblings. And yes, I have been finding little tiny Trident wrappers all over the house ever since. But this tiny thing, I think, made our Foofers happy... and there was plenty of interest in the mango candy to cause squeals and discussion about how they looked like miniature butter blocks with the coloring of an opened egg. Turns out, they were quite yummy little candies, too!


Since it was a bit rainy yesterday, and Sophia wanted to go to the park, there was begging on all three kids' parts to go to the park despite the latent moisture on the ground. Pleeeease, Mama, pleeeaase can we go to the park? How could I resist these three faces? It seemed dry enough by after-Brownie Cake time to say yes, and what better way to make Foofers happy on the cheap than to head to the nearest park? And so, I said all riiiight. Let's go.


We initially went to Julia Davis Park here in Boise, Idaho, where we now live. but we couldn't find a playground there that satisfied Sophia. She was disappointed by the JD park, as it's under construction right now and not the most visually appealing site. Instead, after a little Googling From JD park, I found a new park right down the road from where we live: Terry Day Park. Sophia jumped right in and started climbing while the other two kiddos ran off in opposite directions. 


These little specimens of physics accomplishment were spinny-thingies that kept going util dizziness won out. And then they spun in the opposite direction, until inertia gave way to gravity and the thingy-thing stopped. Result? You sat there with your eyes spinning off in 70 different directions, while a little bit of nausea topped off the experience! Fun!


And THEN. And then. We found this awesome zipline ride that we all fought over, time and time again, until we each had gone approximately 59 times apiece. I love this shot of Rob running after Jack, who was careening toward a waiting Chloë at the ending platform. [Look, Rob can run again! Achievement: Unlocked.]


Sophie, our 12-year-old birthday child, and Jack, had the most fun on the zipline. Back and forth, back and forth, they sped past the camerawomen [ahem: moi], until Chloë stomped off in frustration after her expected turn never seemed to come. Gah. Come baaaaack, Curls!

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Sophia sprawled out in glorious repose, post-zipline. We're going back soon to this thing. Maybe even today. If the kids ever finish their math! :P

Sophias12thBirthday050"Look Ma, no hands!" Jack shouted from across the way. Only, does anyone see the problem with this statement? Yeah. Me too.


All three kids finally got together to try and accomplish the task of a dual ride between Jack and Sophia, but it wasn't meant to be. We just couldn't get Jack brave enough to sit on Sophie's lap and, truth be told, I'm kind of glad about that. I foresaw another broken skull if that had happened! [He fractured his melon at two years old.]


Aw, Paquito and his sister-pup came along for the fun, too! Here he comes, looking for some patty-pets from his mama! <3


And here's sister-pup, our foster fail from That Black Dog Rescue, Inc. of Miami, Florida: Tapioca Puddin' Pop! <3 <3 <3 She was on the move constantly during this park adventure, so approximately one-third of the 125 shots I took yesterday were of me trying to get Tapi staying still and looking photogenic.


Just a Chiweenie and a Chihuahua out for a stroll in the park... don't mind us.


At last, Chloë had her turn on the zipline. After that, she was all smiles. Ever pleased to mug for the camera, this time was no different. And why not? The lens loves her!


Meanwhile, across the other side of the park, Sophia was hollering from up in this tree, "MOM, LOOK AT ME!!" I said my adieus to Chloë and ran over to take a few shots. Actually, then I tried to climb the tree myself, because it has been a decade or three since I attempted such a fun thing and... fail. To be fair, I was wearing Crocs flipper-floppers, which were not the proper foot attire for gaining a purchase on this slippery árbol. Oh well, c'est la vie.


Coming full circle toward the end of our visit, I shot a dozen or so pictures of Rob in the spinny-thingy before landing on this specimen of my handsome fella with a big grin on his face. Why, I do declare, I think this man was having fun as well!


I decided to hand my camera over to Rob before we headed out for the day - poor Paco was shivering endlessly, and we needed to get him back to the warmth of home - and take a spin on the thing he was just in. Holy cow! Inertia times torque times vertigo equals this oddly dizzified face of mine! Ha! I look like a goof.

All in all, it was a very inexpensive but fun way to spend Foof's birthday, and I hope she enjoyed turning 12.



Sunday Stealing: Easter Meme

Happy Easter!! Link up here if you're playing along today!

Easter Meme

Stolen from: The Archives

1. Five Things I have A Passion For (not necessarily in any order): 


a. My children


b. My husband and our marriage (you're welcome for the gratuitous additions of Chloë & Otto)


c. Food: cooking, baking, eating...

Knit & Crochet

d. Fiber arts: all things yarny, knitty, and as I did here, crochet-y ;)

e. Environmentalism

2. Five Things I'd like to Learn Before I Die: 

a. Another language, aside from English and Spanish

b. How to spin my own yarn from raw fibers

c. Patience in all things

d. Giving up being a control freak

e. The secret to successfully growing plants - I have the blackest thumbs ever!

3. Five Things I say A Lot: 

a. "WTF?!" or "I don't know WTF you're talking about," often to Hubs, who speaks in esoteric military terms after serving 20 years in the US Navy! ;)

b. "LOL." As in, I actually say it like, "lollll." It amuses me to see my teen and tween kids roll their eyes when I do that.

c. Be "nice, kind, sweet, and loving!" is the mantra I preach to my kids, having tried over the years to instill the practice of the Golden Rule in them.

d. "Whatever." Just, whatever, dude.

e. "I love you." I say it all the time, to my kids and Hubs. ALL. The. Time.

4. Five Books and/or magazines I have Read Lately (we'll go with magazines, since books are a far reach for me lately): 

a. Martha Stewart Living magazine is my favorite!!!

b. Family Fun, which I used to devour as readily as Martha Stewart's mag; I do it a little less so now that the kids are older...

c. I really like Prevention; it's easy to read, with lots of short little blurbs that I find helpful in my daily life.

d. Reader's Digest has been my old standby favorite since I found dozens of issues in my grandparents' condo as a wee lassie.

e. People is my semi-guilty pleasure, though I haven't made as much time for it lately.

5. Five Favorite Movies: 

a. Grease, tied for first with:

b. Dirty Dancing

c. Finding Nemo, because I am sooo Dory; I cannot wait until Finding Dory comes out! I am SO there.

d. Ferris Bueller's Day Off is always a fun one.

e. I loooove Steel Magnolias.

6. Five Places I would like to Travel To:

a. Australia

b. Japan

c. Venezuela... and really, all over South America

d. Hawaii, since all I've seen of it is the Honolulu airport

e. The Galapagos Islands


Well, that was fun. I hope you enjoyed the visuals!


Sunday Stealing: Why Do You Want To Know THAT Meme, Part The Third

I missed Saturday 9 yesterday, but I'm back now and that's what counts. Joining us today? Link up here!

Why Do You Want To Know That Meme, part three


50. What do you spend most of your money on? 

Everything, every penny, is on our family, either directly or indirectly. They're what matters.

51. Would you rather visit the past or the future?

Why go back to the past? No. I want to see what the future brings. More importantly, I want to be present right now.

52. Favorite clothing store?

It's pretty telling that I first interpreted this question as implying you meant "for kids," right? Either way, I'm loving Hanna Andersson the most right now. Even though I can't really afford it new, there are ways... Thrift store, I'm lookin' at you!

53. What is the best advice you can give to those who are feeling down?

Honestly, it seems trite and cliché, but it's true. I have seen my fair share of bad times, but one thing that has always happened is: time marches on. It will change. It will. Try to ride it out, and you will see.

54. How often do you think about your future? Does it scare you?

I think about the future all the time! There is nothing to be scared of, there. I was so sure that I was going to die this past Tuesday that, with Hubs' help, I called up my father and my best friend to say good-bye. I was making my final plans. I wrote an entire book in that "last" day, again with Hubs' help! And look, I am still here. Now, to get better so I can go live it.

55. What angers you the most?

Apathy. Don't bitch, don't complain, unless you have some way to improve things. Otherwise, duh, you are part of the problem.

56. When was the last time you got majorly angry?

The last time I was supremely angry, I exploded with the injustice of it all. I'm embarrassed about a thing or two I said, not because I said it, and definitely not because I felt it, but because the person I was bitching about heard me venting. Eh, well. As Hubs says, "Nothing we can do about it now!"

57. When was the last time you got really sad? 

Tuesday, no doubt, was the saddest day I can remember having for a while. I couldn't bear the thought of not being here to see these babies of mine grow up and do whatever it is they will do with their lives, and participate, and celebrate with them. I didn't worry about where I was going, but I sure didn't want to go there yet. I'm grateful for another chance.

58. Are you good at lying? 

No! I'm a terrible liar. Awful.

59. What foreign language would you like to learn? 

I love languages! I want to learn them all. All!

60. How many languages can you speak and what are they? 

I speak English. I also speak Spanish and, therefore, can also speak/read/write/understand a lot of Latin, Italian, French, and some Portuguese. I know some Japanese, which utterly throws off the girl at the store who greets me in Japanese but doesn't expect me to respond back with a whole 'nother sentence or two! I know some Russian, German, Arabic, and Haitian Creole. I know some American Sign. I'm sure I'm forgetting some. 

61. How often do you go to parties? If you don’t, what do you do instead?


I am not a party girl. Truthfully, I'm painfully shy. Which is why it amazes me that I was able to put on my gutsiest outfit and drag Team Odette out to South Beach on New Year's Eve, for perhaps the biggest party I'll ever attend! And you know what? It was pretty epic.

62. What books do you plan to read this year? 

I'm going to read the whole Agent Pendergast series by Preston & Child. I have already read Relic and have just begun Reliquary. I will read one book per month this year, dadgummit!

63. Do you have breakfast every morning? 

No, not usually. However, this past week, I have eaten approximately nine meals per day and still lost five pounds. Small meals, yes, but many. I don't know why, other than that I'm freakin' HUNGRY.

64. Tell us a secret. 

Nope. ;)

65. How many concerts have you been to? 

Well, there are the big names: Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson. Taylor Swift. Bon Jovi. Whitney Houston. Crosby, Stills and Nash. Blue Man Group.

Then there are the smaller concerts of bands you've probably never heard of.

Then tons of concerts in which I performed in, myself. So how do you want to count?

66. Last hug? 

Oh, we hug all the time here, but this week I have been in too much pain for that. I'll tell you how we normally hug. Jack is so much tinier than everyone else, so the other four of us stand in a circle and "group hug" each other, and then Jack worms his way into the center and hugs back from the inside. It's fun!

67. Who knows you better than anyone else? 


Hubs, of course. Of course. We just celebrated 15 roller coaster years together a week ago, and we're more in love with each other today than we were then. It has to be Hubs.

68. Baths or showers?

 Normally, I hate baths. The water pressure in our bathroom is abysmally low, though, so I've been taking baths for nearly three years. I took a shower this past week and, I have to say, it's not as bad as I remembered!

69. Do you think you’re ambitious? 

I have to say that I am. In my late teens and early 20s, I had myself convinced I'd get a Nobel Prize before I turned 30. Haha! Anyway, I still have time for that, right?

70. What song is stuck in your head? 

"Harder to Breathe" by Maroon 5. I've sung that over and over this past week, because my lungs feel sticky when I try to inhale. I can't catch a full breath. It sucks, but it's improving at last, albeit incrementally.

71. Countries you’ve visited? 


Here's my map. As you can see, I have lots more traveling to do, yet!

72. What do you most value in your friends? 

Loyalty. Support. Understanding.

73. What helps you to sleep better? 

Knowing my family is safe

74. What is the most money you have ever held in your hand? 

Not that much. A couple thousand dollars, I guess.

75. What makes you nervous?

The unknown. New experiences. Coming out of my shell. Almost all, almost always, worth the effort.


Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: Chuck E's In Love

Hey, guys and dolls! Welcome back for another fun weekend of Saturday 9 and Sunday Stealing posts! Link up here if you'd like to join in on the Sat9 fun this week!

Saturday 9: Chuck E.'s in Love (1979)

Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.

1) In this song, Chuck E.'s friends look for him at the pool hall and the drugstore. If we want to find you on a Saturday afternoon, where should we look?

It depends on the Saturday! For instance, this weekend, our afternoon will be spent at The Falls (a fairly cool local mall) having cookies with Santa, followed by the Christmas party at the stables where my daughter Sophia takes her horsey-ridin' lessons.

2) The lyrics tell us his friends know something is up with Chuck E because he's even combed his hair. So here's a question about your hair: do you usually use a blow dryer or let it air dry?

My cut is pretty much wash-and-go, so I let it air dry. However, when I want it to look really nice, I blow-dry it and use a flat iron to make it sleeker.

3) In this song, Ricki Lee sings that she spotted Chuck E. at the Pantages, a grand old Los Angeles theater. Nearly 100 years old, the Pantages was originally a movie palace and was renovated in the 1980s for concerts and theatrical productions. Tell us about a cool landmark in your town.

Here in Homestead, FL, in the Redlands farming area of town, we have the famous Knaus Berry Farm. I have yet to take the family, but it is crucial we get there to go for not only some berry-picking, but their cinnamon rolls are apparently to-die-for, too! YUM!

4) "Chuck E." is a real person. Chuck E. Weiss is a blues musician and DJ who hung around with Ricki Lee and her boyfriend ... until he fell in love. Have you ever had a friendship fall by the wayside when one of you entered a romantic relationship?
Yeah, I think it's a normal phenomenon, actually. You have a novel experience happening that should be making you feel good... of course you're dwelling on those feelings and experiences more than normal for a while.

5) Rickie Lee was once married to a French musician named Pascal Nabet-Meyer. Say something to us in French.
Je ne parle pas français, mais je serais ravi d'apprendre!

6) When her popularity was at its height, Rickie Lee appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone twice. Who have you seen on a recent magazine cover?
I saw Ellie Goulding on the cover of Shape or some other "body" magazine, and judging from the picture, I really was confused as to that cover selection. Sorry, Ellie.

7) Rolling Stone called Rickie Lee "the duchess of cool." Who is the coolest person you know?
Me. I'm freezing, actually, I'm that cool. ;)
8)  1979 was a good year for Rickie Lee, what with her big hit record and the Rolling Stone covers. But it was a terrible year for The Who, because eleven of their fans died during an Ohio concert. What's your favorite The Who song?
Either "Who Are You?" orrrrrrrr.... "The Kids Are Alright"

9) Rickie Lee moved to New Orleans, a city she fell in love with after a visit. Have you ever gone to a vacation spot and wished you could just stay there forever?
When we lived on Guam, it was like a tropical paradise on Earth. Some bad things happened there, pregnancy- and weather-wise, that for a long time colored my perception of Micronesia, but now... now, I am ready to go back.

Sunday Stealing: 25 Fun

Link up here if you're stealing today, thieves!
25 Fun Meme
Stolen from: My Random Randomness
1. If you were trapped in a room with the person who asked this for 24 hours, what would you do? 
 Since Kwizgiver and I both knit, I imagine we'd sit, knit, chat, knit some more, repeat. Or maybe read.
2. If you could learn any language instantly, what would it be?
Well, all of them! I would love to know every word of every language. Arabic, Japanese, and yes, French. But I'm selecting French for this question because though I can read a lot of it, I can't speak or understand spoken French. It just doesn't sound how I expect, from learning Spanish and bits of Italian. Not phonetic. (Yes, the Romance Languages are my favorite family.)

3. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The dictionary!

4. Favorite song lyric?
Weird Al's song, "Melanie" is in my head now. Maybe because that's my name? So, "Me-eh-eh-elanie, why won't you go out with me?" But not really. I am just always hard-pressed to pick a favorite anything!

5. Favorite album?
Eric Clapton's Unplugged. Love it, love every song on it! (I don't know what happened with my formatting here. Ugh.)

6. Which time of day would you say is best for you work-wise?
About 8 PM. Total night owl, here!

7. Favorite city that you’ve visited?
I'm going to be an oddball and say Dubrovnik, Croatia. It was on our European cruise, and I was surprised to see Croatia on the itinerary. I had never heard of it. But it was beautiful, it was unexpected in so many ways, and I loved every second of every step within the old city. So thank you, Dubrovnik, for showing me many lovely surprises at every turn!

8. Favorite city that you haven’t visited?
How can I know the answer to this?

9. If you could donate $10,000 to charity, what charity would you pick?
I would give half to an environmentalist cause, like maybe Greenpeace, and half to, I think, Heifer International. I really like what they're doing.

10. What is one book you wish you could get all your friends to read?
Mine! ;) Come on, NaNoWriMo!
11. What is one movie you wish you could get all your friends to watch?
Well, Food Inc. for starters. We'll go from there.
12. What do you think people assume about you from first glance?
... the worst. I have a lot of paranoia about people talking and laughing about me. I don't like this question right now.
13. If you could play any musical instrument, what would it be?
Saxophone, definitely! And then, harp...

14. What is your favorite item of clothing?
 Welp, since I don't have an awesome dino hoodie, I'm going to have to go with the black cardigan I'm wearing right now. It doesn't button, just hangs open, and I keep it on the back of my desk chair when I'm not wearing it, day in and day out, until it can stand up on its own stank. Seriously, I gotta be the only person freezing like it's Antarctica out there, when we're still reaching temps over 80 degrees F at the end of October. #GastricBypassProblems
15. Who was your first follower on your blog? Do they still follow you?
Damn if I know.

16. If you could create one thing, what would it be?
If I could, I would create a United States that was all the best and none of the worst things that make up our 239-year history.

17. Favorite superhero?
Christopher Reeve. Oh, I mean, Superman. ;)

18. If you were to write an autobiography, what would you title it?
I don't know. Maybe: Shit Just Got Real, Y'all. 
19. If you were to have a band, what would you call it?
I think "Free Beer" sounds like a winner, personally! Except maybe let's make it "rum" or "vodka" instead of beer? I'm not much for suds.

20. What is your favorite card/board game?
Scrabble. I play Words With Friends on my phone, like, every day. I have about 27 games going right now. Might be obsessed?

21. What was the first IM service you used? Who was the first person you talked to on it?
mIRC, of course! When I was an undergrad at U-Miami, I started learning about online chat groups. I had a friend named Kevin from Kentucky or Kansas or something. He turned out to be a Nutter Butter.

22. If you could give a friendly hug to any one person, who would it be?
My Hubs' best friend, Larry, whom I've never met. We've become cronies over the Interwebs (aka Facebook Messenger), and it would be really cool to give him an actual hug.

23. Have you ever won any sort of contests? What kind?
Not a beauty contest, that's for sure. Since I'm taking my older daughter, Chloe, to her first major concert on Tuesday (Taylor Swift), I'm thinking back to when I won concert tickets to the Black-Eyed Peas. I also won tickets to take my husband to see Crosby, Stills and Nash, another year. Both were epic experiences.

24. Who was the last person you hugged? Cannot be your romantic/sexual partner if you have one.
Can it be my kids? Other than Hubs, it was probably my son Jack. He's the biggest hugger of my kids. First thing he does when he comes out of his room in the morning, and the last thing he does before he turns in for the night, is come give me a hug. 

25. If you could be skilled in any one activity, what would it be? Cannot be romantic or sexual.
First, it makes me giggle that sexual skills are disqualified. But, but...! ;) Second, I wish I was an amazing gymnast, especially on Floor. Bounding across a gymnasium, leaping, twisting, and turning? I mean, yeah, I'm knocking on 40's door, but that's always been a little secret fantasy of mine.
Welp, that's it for now. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday 9: You're No Good

Link up here if you're playing along!

Saturday 9: You're No Good (1974) ... because Harriet suggested Linda Ronstadt

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This week's featured artist, Linda Ronstadt, turns 69 next month. Will you be celebrating any family/friend birthdays this summer?

Yup. My dad turns 73 at the end of July, and Hubs will be 43 at the end of August. My oldest kiddo, Chloë, will be 14 on September 7th, and I'll turn 39 a day later.

2) Linda sings that she's learned her lesson and it's left a scar. Tell us how you got one of your scars. 

I have three scars, one on top of the other but not exactly in the same line, from my three emergent c-sections.

3) This song is about a lover who is, obviously, no good. Let's be more positive. Who is the nicest person you know? 

Hmm. I know plenty of people who are really nice a LOT of the time, but I don't know anybody who is really nice ALL the time. Is anyone?

4) Linda says that she grew up on Mexican music, which was sung by her entire family. Do you speak any Spanish?

Yes, quite a lot, actually.

5) She toured often throughout her career and is quoted as saying, "They haven't invented a word for that loneliness that everybody goes through on the road." Are you missing someone right now?

I'm always missing people, but right this very second, at this moment in time, I'm all right with that.

6) Ms. Ronstadt was once involved with George Lucas of Star Wars fame. Who is your favorite Star Wars character?

I like C3PO and R2D2 best.
7) In 1974, when this song was a hit, The Magic 8 Ball was still a top-seller at toy stores. It retailed for just $1.99, and promised that all you had to do was gaze at it, concentrate, and wait to learn your fate ... "if you dare!" If you could get an answer to one question about the future, what would you ask?

I would ask if I have an autoimmune disorder, as it seems likely that I do... but we'll find out soon enough.

8) 1974 is the year when Mikhail Baryshnikov defected to the United States. Have you ever been to the ballet? 

Really? I thought that happened in my lifetime. Yes, I have, to see The Nutcracker.

9) Random question: What's your shoe size?

It's about  5½-6 Women's, depending on the brand of shoe. I have silly-small feet.

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: 17 Meme


Hie thee here and link up thusly if you're playing along today!


17 Meme

Stolen from: Survey Haven
Are you a jealous person? 

Rarely. It's not a "yes" or "no" question for me, because normally I am not jealous of much. However, there have been a few instances in my life when the green-eyed monster came out and surprised me. I'm more jealous of my children getting attached to someone other than Mommy than of, say, Hubs checking out a hot chick!

When is the next time you’re traveling out of state? 

We left Miami last night and spent the night in Palm Beach, which is practically like leaving the country - does that count?

Can you write your name in a foreign language? 

"your name in a foreign language"

Yup, just did it. 

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My name is my Melanie, regardless of what language I'm speaking. it doesn't change from that to something else when I'm speaking another language - or writing it. However, I can't read, like, cuneiform, so maybe it would be something else in a language with other characters than English?

When you’re getting ready for something, do you listen to music? 

There are two times when I will stop listening to music: When the telly is on, and I don't want to compete with that, or when I'm listening to "IRIS" (my Samsung Galaxy S5's voice) navigate me around parts unknown.

What is your favorite day of the week? 

I'm a stay-at-homeschooling mom, and my husband is retired. One day really just blends riiiiight into the next. I often don't know which one it currently is.

What is something you did yesterday and wish you could have done today? 

Hubs and I went to a swanky French restaurant in West Palm Beach for a mystery shop last night. It was pretty amazing. I had a stellar companion, excellent service, and beautifully presented plating of our food. I would repeat that experience tonight if I could... but I would whisper in my own ear to order the gnocchi instead of the sheepshead (fish)!

If you woke up tomorrow and knew/spoke a different language, which language would you want it to be? 

All of them. I'd be a walking Altavista Babelfish.

What did you last order online? 

After I took the children to see Big Hero 6 at the theater, I immediately went home and pre-ordered the blu-ray/DVD combo pack from Amazon. It finally arrived yesterday. Woot! Such a good flick. I was extremely gratified when it won the Oscar last week.

Do you have any specific hobbies? 

Read my tagline: I blog. I knit. I crochet. I scrap. And sometimes I even parent my three young children. (Not necessarily in order of importance)

What’s a song you recently discovered that you want to tell everyone about? 

 I'm really loving "Bills" by LunchMoney Lewis. I haven't listened to this version before now, just the radio edit.

Favorite fall or winter accessory? 


I live in Miami. Your normal calendar seasons don't really apply. So I pick my nose rings, of which I have a full wardrobe. If it's the monsoon season (June through November), maybe Wellies?

What did you last eat? 


I had an onion bagel with whippity cream cheese. I put entirely too much cream cheese on it, but I like it that way. And no, that isn't a gastric bypass-friendly food choice, but I was about to eat myself, I was so hungry!

Look to your left. What’s there? 

That's about the size and shape of the morass that is my desk at the moment. Eleventy-billion things are on my left. How much time do you have?

How long does it take you to fall asleep? 

I drink about 19 gallons of Diet Coke per diem. It rarely affects me anymore if I drink 'em, so you may be surprised to find that lately, I've been falling asleep at the drop of a hat and sleeping many hours. (Note to self: ask doctor for results of B12 and iron levels from last week's blood draw...)

Is there a TV in the room you are in? 

There is one television set in our abode and yes, it is in this room. It is considerably smaller than the hole in the entertainment center, which drives my OCD-having self bonkers.

What comes to your mind when I say "red"? 

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"Lips," but if you said it to Chloë, 13yo daughter, she'd probably think of the album by T-Swizzle (a.k.a. Taylor Swift).

Name something you think is pointless?


I couldn't think of anything at the moment other than the turn signals on the cars of most Miami drivers (hey, I use mine, and I even told the kids earlier that when they learn to drive and see that most people here neglect theirs, they should use them anyway), so I polled the room. Here are the responses:

Hubs: Cummerbunds (I disagree)

Sophia, 9: Haz-mat suits (I disagree)

Chloë: Thin socks (I kind of agree!)

* * *

Well, that was fun. Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: Love Is In The Air Meme


We had a busy weekend, so I'm all late and stuff. If you're later than even I am, link up here to play along!

Love Is In The Air Meme
Stolen from: The Archives

Love, to you. Define love in your own words. 

Well, then! Love is when you care more about the other person's wants, needs, hopes and dreams than your own, even when they don't mesh. True love is when you're willing to share a pizza and pick off his disgusting mushrooms instead of insisting he doesn't order any to begin with. Image result for winky emoji

What do you want in a relationship? 

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I want to be valued, supported, and most crucially, understood. Even when none of those things seems possible.

What do you contribute to a relationship?

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I contribute the zany, wild, crazy antics that no one but Hubs truly appreciates, other than myself and The Littles we created together. And some other cool stuff, I hope...

Do you have a Valentine? 

My funny Valentine... sweet, comic Valentine... {HUBS}

If not, are you happy being single? 

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Describe the perfect Valentine's Day date in your opinion: 

I have no such concept, because of all the "holidays," Valentine's Day is probably the least important to me. I am loved and adored by a flock of gents Hubs every single day, and I don't need a Hallmark occasion to get the goods. And for the love, please don't give me flowers, chocolates, a card, or jewelry to prove your love for me, y'all. (Why? They die, they make me fat, they waste paper, and I've got enough. Plant a tree, take me somewhere cool, make a memory, maybe, but none of that cliché stuff pour moi.)

Dream Date? 

I don't have a singular concept of an amazing date. Simply pay attention to me as much as I pay attention to you, make me laugh out loud a whole bunch, and make it simply unforgettable in every way. One guy did that. We've been married 14+ years.

What is your crush's name? 


Robert Odette, of course... but I know that Paco (our 7-month-old Chihuahua) has a crush on ME, because he's STILL humping my freakin' leg despite just having gotten neutered! :\

Do you believe in love at first sight? 


Absolutely, I do!

This or that:

Chocolates or Flowers....you must pick one! 

Image result for chocolate love

Duh. Chocolate, but I've given it up for the time being. Yep, I even walked away from the 50% off Lindt truffles at CVS an hour ago. I know. I know.   

A short kiss or a big hug? 

The long hug often leads to the short kiss, amiright?!

Cute and dim-witted, or Average and brilliant? 

I'll take brilliant over stoopid every day of the week, thanks!



Intellectual conversation. Insane, raucous laughter (mine) caused by smart, funny joke. Buff arms don't hurt...!


Image result for no smoking

Nothing ruins a hot guy more than a pack of cigarettes. Top of my list of turn-offs, followed closely by spitting. There are plenty more.

What thing should a guy never say to you? 

There are plenty of things that would make me turn on my heel, but do not call me a "bitch" unless you want me to instantly become one!

How do you feel about kissing on the first date? 

I have no qualms. My last name is not Duggar. ;P

Stay tuned for photos from our visit to the Miami Boat Show yesterday!


Mayan Riviera Vacay


Kinda hard to see what that says, I know, but NO color seemed to want to work there... so I'll tell ya what it says: "Azul Fives, Play del Carmen, Mexico," which is where Hubs and I stayed from 12-16 November.


This grassy-looking "AZUL FIVES" blue mat greets newcomers outside the drop-off location in front of the lobby at the all-inclusive resort. We were there for a "Happiness Vacationar" (seminar/vacation, as it was christened by the travel agents who planned it), having received a crazily killer deal that we couldn't pass up. Not only was the rate for the resort at rock-bottom prices, but everything - everything! - we consumed while there was included for nothing extra. Suh-weet.


On Wednesday morning, after we checked in with Maykent at the Front "desk," which was more like a series of four podiums in the lobby, we were informed that we could go get breakfast. So, we did! Mimosas were offered, and of course we said, "Heck yeah!" to that. I drank two sips before I called it quits. I mean, our early-morning flight to Cancun and 42-minute drive to the resort still had us eating breakfast at something like 0830, so while mimosas sounded splendid in theory, in practice they were more... impractical.


Our room was not ready yet, and having gotten less than two hours' sleep after dropping the kids off the night before in Fort Lauderdale with our friends, come home and packed as lightly as possible so as not to have to check any luggage, and briefly crashed... I was exhausted. So when we walked outside the breakfast restaurant, Flavours, after eating, and spied the round, white loveseat on which Rob is perched up there... well. I quickly made like Goldilocks in Baby Bear's bed and fell promptly asleep. ZZZzzzzz....

Only, it was too hot, so then we went back into the air-conditioned lobby to wait for our room and let me doze some more. I slept so long and so hard, it was embarrassing.

Our room was finally ready around 12 or 1 PM, and we made our way there straightaway. I don't remember much after that, until I woke up the following morning around 0500 or so with the sun streaming through our balcony windows! Uh. Oops. So much for making the most of our first free day...


Naturally, the first thing I did was step out onto that balcony and take a morning picture of the view. I had wanted to catch a sunrise photo, but I was too late. Sunrise came and turned so quickly into full-on daytime, that you'll just have to imagine it was as early as 0600 or so here. 'Cause it was.


The view outside our Villa 14, from the atrium of the villa


There were many times I said to Rob, "Go stand over there and let me take your picture, Babe!" and of course, ever the indulgent husband, he did just that. This was on the walkway between our central villa and the nearby villas leading to the front of the resort.


Outside the breakfast/shopping/spa area of the resort, up front, Rob took a picture of me. Yes, I know I look like gelatinous goo with all my extra weight-loss skin showing, but ask me if I care?! (Of course I care, which is why I want to get it all snip-snipped in the Spring...)


The first morning, I had a bunch of pastries and fruit for breakfast. Be prepared for lots of food pictures in this post, because I swear to good gracious that half the time we were there was spent getting our collective grub on!

This morning, Thursday the 13th, I visited the omelet bar and piled up baby shrimp, chopped onions and tomatoes, bean sprouts, and loads of cheese before handing my plate over to the cook. It was delicious, yo. So good, I had pretty much the same omelet the next morning, too. I finished most of it, and the oatmeal-and-coconut muesli with tropical fruits I assembled on the northeast side of the plate. And that's not poopies on my plate; it's refried beans. Not really my typical breakfast fare, but I was craving it. I was not disappointed, and right now, I am wanting it all over again!

Playa Del Carmen


The iguanas, tropical birds, and coati plaques on the property promised that we would see each of these in the wild, and we did! Except coati, which I couldn't find but got reports of sightings from other guests.


After breakfast on that Thursday morning, I was once again overcome with exhaustion (I can't help it; ever since my gastric bypass surgery, I get tired just from eating). I excused myself from our table and told Rob I needed to go lie down in our villa room. On the way there, I took a different route and found this spider monkey sign. Thinking to myself, "Yeah, right, there is no way I'm going to see a spider monkey in the 'wild,' such as it is, so I may as well just take the picture for posterity's sake. I did so and continued on my way.

Playa Del Carmen-001


(click to embiggerate)

Well, of course, not five minutes later, I rounded a corner and there was a spider monkey, walking along the edge of a pool on the property. Really?! I brought up my Nikon to start taking pictures, and as soon as Mr. Monito heard my click-whirring noise, he turned and hid his face. So I waited, he returned to his stroll, and I snapped away again. And again he hid. This went on for several long moments until finally he high-tailed it (literally!) right on out of there. I thought it was going to be the highlight of my trip, because it was super cool.


After a brief respite in the room, we decided to head down toward the beach. On the way, we spotted this life-size checkerboard and chess board set. Pretty cool! I wanted to play, but Rob wasn't feeling it, so on we went. We never encountered that again on this visit.


At the beach, we came upon the infinity pool facing the Caribbean Sea, so of course I had to photograph that! I wanted to get right in, but first we needed to head down the stairs to the sandy beach to find some chairs on which to rest our belongings. But ah... isn't it lovely?


Down by the sea, we watched a couple of kayakers pass by the long stretch of pier before finding towels and chairs. It felt, right then, like we were in Paradise.


Shortly after we sat down, we grew hungry again (something about the heat and humidity - and probably not having to pay for anything - expanded our appetites throughout the week!) and headed over to the Oriola Beach Club Grill for lunch.

While there, we watched a server leave a basket of nachos on a ledge, walk away, and let some birds swoop in to steal a few chips. After, the server returned, having realized what had happened, and tossed the whole basket of food in the trash. Wasteful, but funny... and this was just the first of several times we saw such things.


After lunch, we encountered a trio of hammocks and decided to take a quick lie-down. Even Rob lay down with me, which I'm proud of him for, because he's not the most steady, balanced fella right now, and hammocks can be persnickety!


See? He got in there, without falling on his butt or busting his face. Yay!


One more gratuitous hammock shot, because this is one of the few shots of the two of us together in Mexico.


This black iguana and I have something in common: We're both cold-blooded creatures. Don't believe me? It's high-70s or 80s here most of the time in Miami, and I am always sitting on a heating pad and still freezing. ;)


"Hey, Rob, go stand over there by that gazebo and let me take your picture." We were I was totally playing tourist on this trip, and I didn't care who thought what of it!


Alberto, our personal concierge, was always so thrilled to help us when it came to our several requests. He made sure our room mini fridge was constantly stocked with Coca Dietas for me, made our dinner reservations, and gave us plenty of help and advice when trying to figure out what to do with ourselves in our free time. Great guy!


We meandered up to the little shopping area of the resort to collect some souvenirs for the children. These brightly-colored pottery pieces, including Dia de los Muertos skulls, were intriguing and lively, but alas, I knew they would break in our suitcases on the return flight. I opted for smaller, sturdier pieces, along with a couple of postcards for my collector pal, Erin.

Playa Del Carmen-003

Some of the fun souvenirs we brought back for our kids, as well as for Victoria to swap in an autobiographical box with her cross-country homeschool partner (more on that in the future).


Another respite, probably for me to order a Diet Coke and give Rob a walking break

Playa Del Carmen-002

Our room in Villa 14


That Thursday night, we were due to have a welcoming celebration dinner party with our Seminar group. On the way there, by the fountain, I grabbed some passersby and asked them to take our picture. They weren't accustomed to my camera, of course, so the one picture the guy deigned to take was while I was in the middle of asking if he was ready. Ha! Oh, well. It works.


The Zky Bar where our dinner party was held


Honestly, our party wasn't until 1930 that night, so we were starving by about 1800. We snuck down and had dinner before our dinner party, which enabled us to duck out early when we felt out of place at the party, not being hungry. I'm just not the world's best small-talking mingler, and I couldn't wait to go. Call me what you will, but sometimes having a husband who has had a brain tumor removed and generally feels like crap quite a lot of the time... can be rather convenient in social settings!


The next morning, we met in front of the lobby for our tour bus to take all of us seminar attendees 20 minute north, to El Dorado Royale, a sister resort of Azul Fives. There were plenty of waters and teas set out... but no Diet Cokes. Uh-oh! Rob spied someone who had one, though, so I made a beeline over to her to ask where she got it. She was someone in charge and said she'd special-ordered hers and would get me one, too. Sure enough, I had mine in hand several minutes later. Thumbs up!


Rob and the gang, milling about waiting for the seminar to begin


Here we are taking a rapid getaway taxi back to Azul Fives, having decided that the Happiness Seminar was most decidedly not designed with Team Odette in mind. We listened to one show-offy name-dropping speaker, whose Powerpoint presentation kept failing, with feigned interest. The second speaker, Michelle LastNameEscapesMe, was much more vibrant and applicable to our lives, but not sufficiently so that we didn't desperately want to leave. Humph. 

We ducked out during the break after Michelle, talked to the Dorado concierge about calling a taxi, and headed back to our home resort, claiming illness in Rob. On the way out, we spotted the Holy Grail of Diet Cokeness waiting in the lobby, which made Rob ask me if I wanted to change my mind about leaving, but I felt so supremely uncomfortable that not even that could get me to stay.


If you look carefully at the picture of Rob in the taxi, you'll see he's holding his prescription glasses on his lap. Somewhere between the cab and our villa, they disappeared and have never been heard from again.

So after that, he was relegated to wearing his Rx sunglasses everywhere we went, even at night (my man is blind, y'all), and combined with his constant cane use, he was elevated to Stevie Wonder status amongst the resort denizens. And I don't mean in the celebrity sense.


"Hey, Hon, stand over there by that vertical garden and let me snap your picture." Indulgent. He is.


Some of the lounge chairs seems to live in the pool, on a shallow ledge. The water was so freaking cold, though, that you didn't miss any swimming by not being there. I promise.


I know this is a horrible picture of a cat. Allow me to explain: My three wunderkinds are cat fanatics. We were walking to the beach in the pitch-blackness that night, when we heard some rather loud meowing. "That's a cat!" one of us exclaimed. I moved in for a closer look, and the cat, who Rob decided was a female in heat, just lay there mewling. I tried to take a decent picture, but there was absolutely zero light for my camera to use in focusing, and I'm not that talented a photographer. Long story short (i'm not good at that), I took this picture for my kids' sakes.



Dinner that night was the Japanese restaurant, Tsuki, at 1930. I prefer not to eat critters in general, but this trip was an exception to the rule, because (a) the seafood I still adore was so plentiful, and (b) I try to eat something novel (for me) every time I travel somewhere new. So for an appetizer at Tsuki, we ordered the Duckling Rolls. I had one of the four, and Rob polished off the rest. It's not without a little bit of guilt that I can say mine was absolutely scrumptious.


We debated on what to have for entrees, but when it comes down to it, the two of us are major sushi lovers who just can't resist over-ordering when the opportunity presents itself. And so we did. This was my platter; Rob's was identical. We brought a lot of it back to our room and noshed on it for a midnight snack. Mmmm, it was so good. Sushi for the win!


Of course, I can't keep sushi down, because I am unable to process rice, so I was feeling rather miserable after several quick runs to the ladies' room... I finally had to excuse mysef from our table and sit in the lobby to wait for Rob to finish. The walls were adorned with these three-dimensional metal flowers, which I found interesting, and so here they are for your viewing... pleasure?


Having mentioned I'd spent some time losing my lunch dinner in the restroom, I'll share that until that point, we didn't know there were nightly shows at the resort. I happened to find a newsletter in the ladies' room that listed the evening entertainment, and that night, Friday the 14th, was the Fire Show. Um, yes please! I am so easily entertained, and this sounded right up my alley.

That's Diego, one of the Entertainment Staff members at the resort. He was a cutie patootie who spoke both in Spanish and then in English, in a rapid-fire style in both languages that made him so difficult to understand in my native language, I had to translate from the Spanish to Rob on multiple occasions. But because he was so cute, I quickly forgave him.

Playa Del Carmen-005

(Click to embiggerate)

The Fire Show was the Bomb-dot-com. Aside from our culinary expedition through the week, this show was the highlight of the trip for me. I think. It was all pretty great!


The Gin Bar was still open late, as was the Zky Bar, but we didn't want to mess with the crowd, so we went to this one up at the front of the resort. It was our first of three trips over the remaining days of our trip.


The bar was cooly decorated in silvers and purples, and we found a spot in the corner. Oh, and everywhere we went to eat or drink something - even at breakfast in Flavours!!! - we were offered tequila. "Some tequila?" "More tequila?" Neither of us is very big on tequila, so no... but I finally ventured into one drink on this occasion:


I ordered a Caipirinha, which tasted like firewater. It was AWFUL. Rob ordered a pina colada; I brought up my belly burner of a beverage to the bartender and quickly requested a colada of my own. Whew. Thank goodness it was all included...


Saturday the 15th. Our ultimate day in Paradise. I ordered a whitefish ceviche for lunch, and of course because of my small pouch, I couldn't finish it. This happens all the time, and pretty much invariably, it upsets the server that I don't finish. They think I don't like the food; I just really can't eat more. But I would've if I could've, because this was Yum.


We really had no plans for that day, but it was raining, so there was either (a) go somewhere off-property with some resort umbrellas, (b) hang around in our room - boo, or (c) get electrocuted in the pool. We chose to hire a taxi to take us on the short drive to downtown Playa del Carmen. 

I took a picture of this Buddha for no real reason other than I just wanted to, and when I was showing the children the photos from our trip last night, I asked if they knew who this was. "BUBBA!" was Chloe's quick response. Um. No. But I died laughing just the same...


Downtown, we first stopped at the big Plaza La Fiesta, a kind of outlet store for Mexican souvenirs. I needed a few things, specifically something that screamed "JACK!" to us, and some little trinkets and chocolates to round out our meager welcome-home offerings. Lots of great deals to be had there; I wish I hadn't shopped at the resort store, because prices here were much more budget-friendly.


Rob spotted this totem-like statue, and asked me to take a picture. Here you go, honeybunny-boy!

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We spotted these handmade name bracelets, and I told Rob that if they were a certain price or less, I'd get one for each of our daughters. Well, they were under the mark, so we sat and chatted - entirely in Spanish for me, as I did for most of the trip - while they wrapped out bracelets for Sophia and Chloe. I picked colors I knew the girls would like and tried to get the dots over Chlo's "e," but they weren't able to do it. No worry, though, because they loved them.

Jack, obviously, didn't get and wouldn't have wanted a name bracelet, so I gave him all the Mexican pesos I came home with, instead. That sufficed.


There. There was a Haagen-Dazs on the opposite corner, and we saw a Starbucks and all manner of 7-Elevens in between Playa del Carmen and Cancun. But no McDonald's. I was oddly relieved about that...


I could not go to Mexico without getting some authentic Mexican chocolate, could I? No. We went in Ah Cacao for a treat. The samples were very dark chocolate, a mixture of sweet and bitter, and were excellent. However, I prefer a milk chocolate, so I bought this bar for $5 or $6. Well, two bites in, and I declared it, I think, "yucky." We finished it together before heading back to find a taxi "home," though, because I hate nothing more than wasting money!


I inveigled the taxi driver into stopping at a gas station, so I could get a Coke. (Hello, my name is Melanie, and I am an addict.) Honestly, I could've waited, but I wanted the cool bottles. Diet Coke, aka "Coca-Cola Light" on the left, tasted much sweeter to me but boasted zero calories, so I drank that. The "Coca-Cola Life," above right, was a mixture of cane sugar and Splenda. I got it for Rob... but he didn't drink it, and ultimately we forgot it in our hotel mini-fridge.

Oh, but when I got up to the counter, the cashier told me it was 18.70 or something near that. "WHAT?!" I exclaimed. "Oh... dolares," she realized. $1.45 for two 20-oz bottles of Coke isn't bad at all, y'know? (Little things like this interest me. Apologies if I'm alone in this!)


It was still raining when we returned to our Villa. Rob was carrying his cane in on hand, and his bumbershoot in the other. As for me, I had the umbrella, my Nikon, my purse, my sunglasses, my phone, my camera bag on my shoulder... and a slippery sidewalk. So when I stopped at the pool bar outside our Villa for a couple of pina coladas to take upstairs and drink on our balcony, well, you know that is just complete dedication to libation, right?!


After our beverage du jour, we were hungry for sumpin' to eat, so we headed back toward the beach. "Hey, Rob, let me take your picture with your umbrella!" He indulged me, yet again.


My boy Rob, walkin' in the rain...


Infinity pools in the rain... even more beautious?


We went in to the Sea Olive for lunch. Or Lunner. Dunch?  Rob started off with an oddball Caesar salad of sorts, with tuna tartare and a poached egg. But he liked it, and that's what counts.


Another ceviche for me; this time it was shrimp, scallops, and I don't know what the other thing was. Some kind of mollusc, I think.


Rob's main course was a stuffed poblano-pepper seafood chili thingamabob. Not my tastes, but his were quite thrilled with it.


I had this salmon quiche, and I remember wishing it had significantly more cheese in it than it did. I found the best thing was that dark reddish sauce blob, and therefore I didn't eat too much of this dish.


This mascarpone custard was absolutely THE best thing I had to eat in Playa del Carmen. So much so that I'm eager to duplicate it at my earliest opportunity. Excuse me for a few minutes while I salivate over the memory of it...


There were several weddings going on during our stay at Azul Fives. I told Rob, when we deposited our umbrellas in the holder at the front of the restaurant before eating that there was NO WAY we were going to have umbrellas when we finished. I was right. This bride's wedding party swooped in, post-nuptials, and absconded with everyone else's umbrellas.

It wasn't really the end of the world, except that I didn't want my Nikon getting wet. Before heading to our room, I headed over to the towel boy's cabana to get some protection for my camera, which I wrapped and carried like a baby back to our villa. Hey, priorities.


The infinity pool was deserted, so the reflection was just perfect at that point. *snap, snap*


White roses discarded by the bridal party


I knelt down in the wet sand to capture this photo for you. No need to thank me. I did, however, climb into my bed with sandy shins, having forgotten that I had just done that. I think I still have sand on me. Oops.


Sundown on the pier


Back at our room, Rob decided to settle down for a long nap, while I read the magazines I'd brought, watched a little telly, and tried not to pace the floor. I was homesick for my babies to the point of tears, and I wanted to be home. Soon, but not soon enough. Then I became hungry (gee, surprised?) and decided to order up something for dinner. I found this chicken with mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies on the menu, and suddenly I wanted nothing more than some good ol' mashed taters. 

And they were. Good, that is. I ate every delicious bite.


Sunday, the 16th, we checked out around noon but were still free to use all the resort facilities until our shuttle pick-up time at 1620. We sat down for a slow, leisurely lunch back at the Sea Olive, because I wanted another stab at that Mascarpone Custard before we went home!


Remember Diego from the Fire Show? The emcee? Well, he popped up again to MC another event while we dined.


They'd brought in a mechanical bull for a contest amongst our fellow resort-goers, and good gosh, but that was entertaining as men, women, and kids of all ages took their turns. (No, I did not.)

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This woman was quickly thrown, as were most people. I think a tween kid won the contest in the end!


Back to lunch. I had an appetizer of "tomato tartare," which made no mention of the shrimp contained therein. Good thing I'm a huge fan of crustaceans!


Rob had some kind of Lebanese shish kebabs, and for the 2nd or 3rd time this trip, he exclaimed over how good was the chicken. Really? Chicken. Good for him.


I ordered a fresh mozzarella, eggplant, and hummus sammy, and it was just mediocre. Which was fine, because I didn't want to eat a whole lot anyway. I had mascarpone plans!


Rob ordered this chocolate banana cookie tart thing, and he liked it, but found it weird. But he did like it, so... okay.


This one, I ate ALL BY MYSELF. I don't normally partake much of desserts, because I just can't without becoming quite ill. But this... this was heaven on a plate. I was super-stuffed afterward, but the discomfort was worth it.


I needed to get vertical after that, to help gravity get the food moving out of my pouch. We went over to the infinity pool so I could snap a picture of the paint-your-own pottery available, but I didn't want to partake because of the aforementioned risk of luggage breakage.


Obligatory toes in the surf pose


We looked around in the distance ad realized we could see Cozumel from the coast. See the buildings there in the distance? They're there. I promise.


I had to lie down in a hammock after that, still exceedingly full from lunch. It's very painful and uncomfortable when this happens. Rob sat on a nearby branch while I did what I called "Hammaerobics" and "Hampilates" to get the gut moving. It worked. I was finally feeling better and could get on with my life.

Was the mascarpone really worth it?

Hell yes!


I was thrilled to find these notices that Azul Five recycles all over the property. If you know me well, you know I'm a major supporter of the environment. You can't see it in the ashtray sand on top, but all of these also had the AZUL logo in the sand. That is, at least, until a cigarette butt marred the scene.

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I've become quite enamored of photographing flowers in recent months. I did a lot of that on this trip, especially that last day, Sunday, while we waited for our transportation.

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Foliage, too, not just flowers, has captured my attention.


We finally headed back down to the swim-up infinity pool bar to get a couple of the resort's signature drink, Azul Sueno. Only, Santiago, our master bartender, was on his lunch break, so our Azules turned out to be quite... Verdes instead. Ah, well. They tasted great and did their job. I'm surprised I managed not to fall on my face even once!


The Black Iguana popped out to say good-bye to us as we made our way toward the lobby to check out. I tried to approach him, but he wasn't having it and crawled under his favorite rock.

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Then, guess what? Thirty minutes before our shuttle was due, this little spider monkey dude made an appearance about 10 feet from us. I sloooooowly approached him, taking pictures the whole time, while he monkeyed up and down the tree, alternatively posing for me and showing me his, um, derriere.

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And then, lo and behold, he came down and sat 18" away from me. I'd have offered him a banana, but I didn't have one, so I booked a quick photo session with him. I sat down on the ground a foot away from him and snapped away. It was so... exhilarating! I could've reached out and touched him, but Rob warned me I might get bitten, so I just shot the photos. We stayed there for about ten long minutes, just him and me, with onlookers exclaiming about me sitting there taking his picture. I loved every second of it!


And then, just like that, he was gone. I think he enjoyed our session. I'll send him a disk, so he can mail out his holiday cards with them. Yeah, that's the ticket.


Hours later, we were landing in Miami. And now our family is all together, home, safe and sound again. I couldn't be happier about that.

Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: Little Red Corvette


Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: LIttle Red Corvette (recommended by Smellyann) That's me!

No link this week. Prince apparently is very strict about copyright infringement.

1) The subject of this song is frankly sexual. Do you blush easily?

Why yes, I do, despite the fact that my mind is frequently in the gutter. I hate it (the blushing).

2) Prince is his real name (Prince Rogers, to be exact). Growing up, his  relatives called him "Skipper." Do you have any nicknames within your family?
Smellyann, at you service! (This was bestowed upon me by my older sister, as a middle school joke. My dad called me "Mellie-Ann," and Stacey changed it to Smelly... but I liked it.)
3) Prince says he's "obsessed" with Mozart and reads whatever he can find about the composer. What's the last book you read?
I'm reading Just One Thing by Dr. Rick Hanson, about how to develop a Buddha Brain. It was highly recommended by my former therapist; I enjoy perusing it when I've nothing else to do, so it's not really a stay-up-all-night-reading kind of book for me.

4) Between Prince and The Beach Boys, the Corvette is a much sung-about car. Tell us about your vehicle.
"Miguel" is an '04 Chevy Trailblazer. We had a much newer, much better Honda Odyssey, but, well, we lost "Penelope" in the midst of all our financial desperation after Hubs retired and the brain tumor drama started. Long story short, Miguel gets us from A to B, but other than that, he's nothing to write home about. Still, I'm grateful we have a vehicle.
5) In the 1980s, when Prince was popular, MTV could turn a song into a hit. In 2014, how do you hear new music?
Lamely, I mostly listen to all the Top 40 stations to get my new music. When I get sick of that, I switch around to the "classic rock" station which, to my dismay, now plays all the music of my youth. So apparently, I'm vintage now, too. I also listen to a lot of Latin music and know quite a few of the songs in Spanish. There's a French/Creole station or two that play here in Miami, but I just can't get into that music as much.
6) In 1982, when "Little Red Corvette" ruled the airwaves, Braniff Airways shocked the travel industry and threw passengers into chaos by declaring bankruptcy. When did you last fly? Did your trip go smoothly?
I don't think I've flown since our trip to Europe in 2008, but we'll be flying into New York at the end of July. I'm looking forward to it; I love to fly, and I'll see my sister and her family (and possibly my dad), along with all my high school chums. Can't wait!
7) 1982 is also the year Disney opened Epcot. Have you ever been to a Disney park?
Sure. The last time we went to Walt Disney World was in 2006, and we stayed on property for five days and visited all the parks and Downtown Disney. We've since been back to Downtown Disney several times but haven't gotten to an actual park in eight years. My kids super, rilly rilly want to go, but, y'know, it costs.
8) 1982 is the year Cheers premiered. The sitcom was set in a bar where "everybody knows your name." Tell us about your favorite local bar or restaurant.
There's a tapas restaurant in Coral Gables that I've been to at least half a dozen times "for work" since we moved here. Every dish and drink (get the sangría!) is spectacular; I've put lots of pictures of our "small plates" on Instagram (follow me: @Smellyann).
9) The 1980s were considered a highpoint in professional tennis, with Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe dominating the sport. Do you play tennis?
I have crappy depth perception, but I loved to attempt to play in high school. My serve wasn't bad, though. I'm not really the athletic type, which is a huge understatement. My sis, a Tough Mudder, got the "physical" genes.
Thanks for stopping by! Happy SUMMER!!!