And Yet Another Insurance….

People who are considering relocating or arenew to the area often aren’t fully aware of certain financial matters. Florida does not have a state tax, yet state income has to have sources. That generally is done through additional fuel, property, and sales tax as well as perhaps higher cost for certain services. Those are the sort of “second-level” costs to be aware of. Home insurance is another. Everyone is accustomed to paying home insurance and often flood insurance. What people don’t necessarily know is the additional polices that can be applied regionally. For us in a water-bordered peninsula state with a six-month long hurricane season, that means windstorm (hurricane) insurance. So, if you have a mortgage (set aside any PMI aspect), you are required to carry separate hazard, flood, and windstorm policies. Not long ago we were notified sinkhole insurance is an optional policy. Before that raises a chuckle, much of Florida has a limestone base and in central, north, and west Florida, there are cave systems. Those equal large (sometimes massive) holes underground. That also makes for potential sinkholes fully capable of occurring suddenly and destructively such as the ground collapsing under part or all of a house. It is common enough that insurance companies are now issuing special policies. In response, there are also now companies that specialize in sinkhole mitigation. These are construction companies that have worked out the warning signs in a house and can come in to perform certain tests and strengthen aspects of the house accordingly.

At this point, coverage is optional here and we are not in one of the counties known as “Sinkhole Alley.” Hopefully, that won’t change.

 

When Politics Really Did Mean Murder…..

My husband hates the Jeopardy category of “Royalty”. Other than Cleopatra, Rameses, King Tut, King Herod, Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth, Mary Queen of Scots, George III because of the American Revolution, Queen Victoria, and Princess Diana, he hasn’t a clue and doesn’t want one. I’m not an expert, but I often manage the category until it gets into the obscure stuff (of which there is a great deal). We are currently watching “The White Princess” on Starz after having watched “The White Queen” last year. The shows about the War of Roses and rise of the Tudors are actually fairly accurate which is saying something for Hollywood. As I pointed out though, this is a situation where you don’t have to make too much up. There was enough violence, sex, betrayal, and intrigue to make any writer/producer happy. We look at today’s “dirty politics” – which I do wish were less nasty – yet in the end, no one’s head actually gets chopped off and children aren’t murdered because they will have a claim to the thrown. That is not to say terrible things aren’t happening in the world, but within most countries, the “political blood-letting” is figurative.

I tend to prefer non-fiction written in an engaging manner since history reads like so much fiction. I do like historical novels although I am more demanding than hubby when it comes to wanting historical accuracy. I don’t know that I have a favorite period – I mean who didn’t enjoy the Clan of the Cave Bear series – even though I haven’t read (or watched) Outlander. That’s more because I’m not a big time travel sub-genre fan. Anyway, Hubby more or less follows the story line of The White Princess as long as he doesn’t have to figure out whom is whom. He boils it down to who is on the throne and if they can stay there. His view is anyone who isn’t in power is trying to get there and that does pretty much sum up the situation.

Relax With a Short Story….

If you’ve never roamed around my website into the Short Story Archive, I invite you to do so. For whatever reason, this morning, I suppose because it’s Mother’s Day, I was struck by a desire to go and look at one I did which has a unique twist to it. “Mamma in Moonlight” http://bit.ly/174Vq6v is actually a prequel to, “The Frequent Bridesmaid” http://charliehudson.net/stories/story200606.html

This is not normally something I do. I originally wrote, “The Frequent Bridesmaid” and some time after that, I ran across a writing challenge (I think it was),  where you were given the first line and went from there. In this case, the first line was, “Mamma has always had a love for possessions.” I don’t recall why that one struck me as it did, but I realized it could match with the previous story. It is what I refer to as “drippingly Southern”, and yes, I know there is no such word. This falls into the category of words that should exist and as a writer you can sometimes get away with such antics. Although I do behave when a book or other publication is involved, I’ll exercise my right in a blog to step outside grammatical boundaries in this case.

Anyway, if you want to sit and relax with a couple of short stories, you can take them in either sequence. Have a great day. Circumstances are such that I’ll be working most of the day because in the freelance world, deadlines don’t really respect weekends or holidays. I will stop around 4:00 and will celebrate Mother’s Day after that.

Why I Love Entrepreneurs……

I posted about Joe’s Famous Hamburgers a couple of years ago. He makes a great burger and his decision to branch out into something brand new after being downsized from a company was the kind of story I enjoy. We would stop by occasionally and a few months ago we noticed his bright red food truck was no longer in the familiar spot. I was sorry to see that, but there are lots of reasons for a food truck to disappear just as there are for any other restaurant to close.

Surprise, surprise – last week I was passing the newly opened K&G Cycles store and there was Joe’s truck in their parking lot. I didn’t have time to stop, but really slowed down to make sure it was him. Yes! I told Hubby and he agreed we would have to pop by soon. I had a bit of an odd schedule yesterday and it was right at 11:30 when I was practically next door to K&G Cycles (more about that in a future post). I pulled into the parking lot and saw the Open light on in Joe’s truck. I walked up to tell him I was glad to see him and immediately called Hubby to see if he was making lunch yet. I knew he probably wasn’t and sure enough, he was on his usual schedule. I told him I was bringing burgers home. Joe and I chatted briefly about how the other location had become too pricey in rent and he hadn’t been able to get a permit to re-open until K&G Cycles had their Occupancy Certificate. The only drawback to Joe’s is there are only two picnic tables, both uncovered. But if you’re doing take-out, you’re all set. He’s definitely not fast food, so don’t be in a hurry. It’s worth the extra time though. He has other sandwiches and hot dogs and some day I might go for something other than the burger.

You can find Joe on Krome Ave in Florida City near the Cracker Barrel. He’s on Facebook, too.

Of All The Silly Things……

Finished Hearts For Amelia Quilt with Sam, My Daughter-in-law

When I decided it was indeed time to take up quilting, I had already made the decision to stick with smaller quilts which could be crib quilts or lap quilts. The reason for this was threefold. Space was the primary issue as we do not have the room for a large dining table that makes for an excellent quilt layout spot. We also don’t have room for a large sewing machine which comes in very handy as you’re trying to work anything from twin bed size on up. The third reason was I am not, in general, in a hurry to get any particular project completed and so the definitely slower element of hand quilting was not going to be an issue. Since the first quilt was to be the one for Amelia, there was a bit of a deadline and with all my other obligations, plus the relative complexity of the quilt (which was a great way to learn), I did have to push a little to make it. The one rule about the quilt was that it was fully intended to be dragged about and eventually no doubt torn up rather than treated as something special. I’ll make quilts for her at different stages of her life, so trying to preserve the first one wasn’t necessary.

Anyway, one of the things I’ve discovered is I cannot seem to find a thimble I can comfortably use. None of the other quilters appear to have this problem and haven’t noticed I don’t use one. At this point, I’m too embarrassed to bring it up. I did discuss it with a friend who agreed it was an unnatural feeling and a little awkward. I will keep searching about and see if I can work through it, then eventually ask for help I imagine. If anyone out there has an idea, I’m open to suggestions.

Amelia and Quilt (Bright sunshine making her squint)

Watching an Orchid Unfold….

I have been quite clear in my posts that Hubby is the plant person. A rock garden is the only type genuinely safe around me although I have gotten better with succulents. I’ve also posted before about our experiences with orchids and sure as the world, the two we thought were thriving may not be after all. The large one in front affixed to one of the palms is fine and in almost constant bloom. The two small ones in the back yard are the ones we may lose/may have already lost. Which brings me to the fourth one.

Thanks to our environment, orchids plants are a frequent table decoration at events. Last September when we attended the Chamber of Commerce Installation Dinner at the beautiful Schnebley Winery, we happened to be the ones from our table who won the lovely orchid as a door prize. It was in full bloom and kept the blossoms for quite some time. The leaves looked healthy enough even though we weren’t sure what was going to happen in the longer term. About a week ago, we realized there were not only buds on it, there were even more than when we first brought it home. Over the past three days, the first bud opened slightly, then about half-way, and fully late yesterday. I took a photo at each stage, but unfortunately for the second time lately, me emailing myself photos from my phone isn’t working. I’ll have to ask Hubby to see if he can “unblock” them. If so, I’ll edit the post and insert them

A Delightful Concert…..

Followers of the blog know I ‘ve been part of Homestead Center for the Arts (http://homesteadcenterforthearts.com) for quite some time now. There are almost two dozen Affiliate members within HCA – those are the structured groups devoted to arts and culture. Those are groups like Homestead Community Concerts, The Children’s Art Gallery and Center, etc. We also have two committees within HCA; one for the Bea Peskoe Lunchtime Lecture Series and the other for the Music Series (MuSe). In general, we have four lectures per season (Oct-April) and 3 MuSe events. Last night we had three wonderfully talented students from the Frost School of Music down from Miami. Miclen LaiPang was on violin, William Locke, cello, and Jonny Cruz, piano. I do not profess to “know” classical so I can’t speak knowledgeably about their selections other than to say it was a terrific concert. Bach, Beethoven, Paganini, Liszt, and Saint-Saens were featured.

Aside from their sheer talent, their stage presence was impressive. When we have classical music, we try to hold the events at City Church because the acoustics are so well-suited and the three young men agreed. We will see about having them again in the not too distant future. Hubby couldn’t attend last night so we don’t have cool photos. I took a couple with my phone and for whatever reason, the email I sent myself hasn’t worked. (Yet again, frustration with my lack of tech ability.) Anyway, I know how hard these guys must have worked to achieve what they have and their parents (and perhaps siblings) have no doubt made sacrifices of money/time to help them. I also know how proud they must feel when they watch them perform.

A Pleasant Show…..

Not everyone enjoys home improvement shows although they have certainly gained in popularity over the years. A friend got me started on Fixer Upper (HGTV). Joanna and Chip Gaines are a couple in Waco, TX who live on a farm with their four children. Farm as in animals and acreage, not crops. Cows, chickens, goats, dogs and cats around and I’m not sure what else.

They do all different size projects and unlike some shows there is no attempt to create drama. The backstory piece is their own family life which is filled with such a strong sense of family. In some cases, the clients’ story has extra meaning as in one episode I recently watched. An older couple had spent a lot of time in either missionary or just humanitarian work in some remote places. As is common with people who do these things, they were not wealthy and their house budget was limited. They wanted a small place they could settle in and picked what was not much more than a cottage with a detached garage. They were headed back out for however many months to Uganda where they lived in less than 200 square feet as they helped the village residents. They left the coordination and most decisions for the remodel in the hands of their adult children. The work was progressing well with the decision made to convert the detached garage into a separate sitting/reading room. The completely heart-warming part was a number of their friends came together when they heard of the plan and donated money and materials to add a nice master to the cottage. They were able to keep this and the conversion of the garage as a surprise and instead of the one-bedroom home the couple expected, it was a charming two-bedroom with the additional bonus space. Needless to say, they were overwhelmed with the generosity.

 

Little Weird Things in Life…….

Those of us who live in warm climates quickly adapt to wearing sandals pretty much all the time. In my case, it has a dual benefit because I wear a 4.5 in closed toe shoes. I’ve posted before about how difficult it is to find shoes and with sandals, I can often wear a 5. Not that the selection in that size is extensive, but it’s certainly better than with the 4.5. Anyway, several weeks ago, I managed to somehow smack my uncovered big toe against a door jam. The momentary pain got my attention and then I realized the little sucker was bleeding a fair amount. I took care of that and as expected, it was mildly sore for a couple of days. Not too surprisingly considering the amount of blood involved, the nail then turned that blue-black color although it was no longer sore.

I didn’t think much about it and as it was healing, there was a bit of extra thickness to the nail. Again, it wasn’t drastic and I wasn’t paying much notice to it. A couple of days ago, I slid my feet into sandals and felt something odd – not pain – just odd. That was because my old toe nail popped off. It was very much like something molting and I have to admit I was startled. I gently pressed the new nail, but if felt fine. At least the half of it that had grown. I looked closer. Apparently, the nail grew to a certain length and the skin that isn’t currently covered toughened as well. I guess the rest of the toenail will grow eventually. I suppose this is all normal since I’ve never had anything like this happen before.

The Scientific Method….

Serious content alert. If I had been good at math (an interesting aspect of my youth I will perhaps address in a future post), I would probably not have followed my sister’s fascination with science and leaned more toward engineering. However, because she not only fixed on science at a young age and had a wonderful female mentor (rather unusual at the time) and she married a scientist, and I went into the military where science and engineering are more prominent than people often realize, I’ve been exposed to quite a bit of science during my life. Generally speaking, in the scientific method, you develop a hypothesis, determine how to test the hypothesis, conduct the tests, gather results, analyze results, either prove or disprove your hypothesis, or determine your testing wasn’t adequate and you “go back to the drawing board”. Another important element is the ability to duplicate results by independent means. If you, as a scientist, “prove” something, any other scientist following what you did should arrive at the same or very similar results. When you have credentialed scientists who give opposite expert opinion about the same matter, a very large “Huh?” should be raised.

Hubby with his background of applied physics and nuclear engineering and I have a standing joke about cold fusion which made quite a splash a number of years ago. It was such an appealing idea, it was written into numerous novels and movie scripts. Since as the TV show “Mythbusters” often demonstrated, “Hollywood physics” are not required to hold up to reality. The cold fusion “success” did not hold up to replication and the joke between Hubby and I is, “Just because it wasn’t true doesn’t mean it can’t ever be true. After all, the laws of physics as we know them might have other secrets waiting to be discovered. (My point, not his).

So, when there are opposing scientific views, the old adage of, “Follow the money”, may very well be appropriate. If sizeable sums from either government or corporate sources are involved in a particular desired outcome, well, how one interprets data may not be entirely objective. As for “soft science”, that is indeed another subject.