No Letup in the New Year…..

With Three Kings day behind us, the tree is waiting for bulk pick-up and I’ll put the ornaments away later this afternoon. It turns out brie does not freeze well and Hubby wasn’t thrilled with the idea of brie stuffed pork tenderloin so I scratched that idea. Ah well, he did like the leftover lemon chicken topped with Havarti and dill. In other words, leftovers are just about under control again.

Being asked to do an extra article again this week for the local paper kept me extra busy and that doesn’t count extra tasks I’ve had with a couple of the non-profits I work with. On the other hand, I don’t ever have to worry about being bored. The big thing for many of my older friends now is hoping the supply of COVID vaccine increases soon to allow them to be seen to. Most have been severely restricting themselves since March. The issue here of course is the large population of older people as Florida is very much a retiree state. Hubby and I qualify to be in a higher priority, but will hold back for a while to let those who are both older and in more vulnerable health get the shots.

I am in the final stages of editing Idyllic Islands before contacting the same publishing group I used for Shades of Deception. That should put me with a February release. This is one of the books where the reader doesn’t have as much information as usual about odd goings-on, however, I have been assured by the two people who have read it there is enough to pick up on. Unlike many of my mysteries, the second point of view is not told by the “bad guy” (okay, it was a “bad girl” in the last one). I do have to get Hubby to go through his underwater photos and pick one to be incorporated as part of the cover.

Okay, let me close this out before I fail to post again. And no, I haven’t seen able to go diving yet. Sigh!




George Carlin’s “Stuff”…..

Comedian George Carlin did have incisive wit. I essentially no longer watch comedy sketches as they all seem to be either mean-spirited or so vulgar as to be disgusting. Don’t get me wrong – I curse profusely  – in fact I can’t think of a day that goes by that I don’t do so. Nor do I mind the use of profanity in a witty fashion. When one can’t manage more than two lines of dialog though or have a focus on sex and bodily functions, I do not find that to be clever.

Anyway, notwithstanding Carlin’s famous, “words you can’t say on TV”, (for those of a certain age), one of his funniest segments was about getting “stuff”. The idea is that most of us don’t have much “stuff” when we go out as adults. Sure, we may have left things with our parents, but we generally don’t initially move into a place that will hold much stuff. As we obtain stuff, we suddenly think/realize we need a bigger place. Ah, we have more room. Well then let’s buy more stuff. Setting aside the multiple sizes of clothes many of us have as we age, it is not always us simply getting more stuff. Items from other generations may begin to come our way, too. Although moving on average every two years in the Army had definite issues, there was the tendency to clear things out in conjunction with a move. In the same way, when we had to clear out the front room and kitchen during the remodel of our current home, I did give away a number of boxes of household items and few pieces of furniture. While I have held the line somewhat, I once again look around and know there are probably things that can go.

On a related note, and a topic I have posted about before, is the matter of books. None of us can bear the thought of throwing away a book, but finding a place to give them to is very difficult. This is one of the major reasons we have two Kindles. This allows us to get lots of new books with no shelf space required. What to do about the seven crammed bookcases we own is another matter entirely.

Practical Can Be Okay…..

I have previously posted about how years ago Hubby and I agreed the easiest way to do presents was not to try to surprise each other per se. In some cases – such as the most recent  drone acquisition, the research he completed about what type he might want coincided with upcoming birthday and anniversary. Easy choice there. Mostly though when it comes to Christmas, we each buy whatever we want for ourselves, and the “surprise” is the other individual doesn’t know what it is. The only rule is the item must remain wrapped and placed under the tree until Christmas. This is a very workable system although there was one year when I found the lovely pendant I wanted like in October and had to remember where I had it tucked away until December.

As it turns out, this year, I purchased an item for the guest bedroom – not to be revealed in this post – to use in anticipation of the kids coming for the holidays. In helping set it up, Hubby commented it seemed like a good thing. Ah ha, I later thought. Even though it is practical and somewhat mundane, that can be okay. This is assuming he was being serious in his comment, which I suppose I’ll find soon find out. In my case, I bought the new Escape and there is an item – technically a set of items – I wanted and again, yes, they are practical and also somewhat mundane, but I will enjoy them (at least I think I will). In all fairness, they have been advertised on television so I won’t be the only person getting them. Speaking of the Escape, I really liked my Fusion, and while there are a couple of features I do miss, those are  offset by others I didn’t have and things about the Escape I appreciate more. I have indeed become accustomed to some of the technology although I still have to learn to use a few other things.


And Now For the Drone….

I knew the odds were Hubby would eventually want a drone. I suppose we loosely categorized it as his present for his birthday/our anniversary since the two things are about a month apart. You probably can’t see it well in the photo, but I can’t find the shot he took of just it. So, as it turns out, not surprisingly, there are all sorts of different license categories. In his case, since he will use it at times in a commercial capacity, he fell into whatever category that is. It included him having to take a particular test that was administered at our small airport at the Executive Jet Center.

There are all sorts of restrictions – as there should be – about heights you can fly the drone and obviously places. Interestingly, they are prohibited in National Parks. Apparently, when they first became easily accessible, there was real or perceived  harassment of wildlife to bring about the rule. He studied up for his test and of course did well and his real card came in yesterday to take the place of his temporary. His first “commercial” use of it was for the December 5th, Holiday on Krome Ave Drive-thru Parade where he did get some great aerial shots.

Roughly speaking, he can shoot from I think it’s 400 feet and down. Because of our closeness to Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB), large sections around here fall under extra restrictions, but as with so many things these days, there in an on-line form to fill out to receive permission to still fly within certain parts. Downtown Homestead falls into that sector. It is several miles from HARB, so permission is pretty routine. It really is too bad the kids aren’t coming this year for the holidays; I can just imagine how much drone flying would be going on. And no, I have no interest is messing with this thing.

Hubby with drone; Nov 2020

“What’s Old Is New Again”……

In yet another example of adaptation to trying to keep a small business going in the time of COVID, drive-in theaters are popping up in a lot of places. For those of us who grew up in the era, the idea was easy for families watching budgets. Pile everyone in the car, take your own snacks, ignore the kids asking for concessions and enjoy a movie together. I don’t recall all the movies we went to, but it was a fairly regular thing for us. And then there was the high school and college student part which included more than just watching the movie.

Anyway, there have been regular local festivals that featured a “movie in the park” element, but back in the summer, an entrepreneurial brother and sister were in town for college summer break. Their dad owns a large, empty lot and they decided to give the drive-in movie theater a try. As it turns out, when they calculated the cost of renting the screen and other equipment, they went on a search for used equipment instead. They found a pretty good price and figured they might be able to sell the set-up for a decent amount or not much loss. They were both due back at school in late August and so were doing this as both a way to offer entertainment that included social distancing and to see if it would work. I interviewed the brother and did a short piece for the paper. I even reached out to a couple of contacts to see if they might be interested in buying the equipment although their interest wasn’t enough to pursue it.

Someone else has recently started showing movies and I have an inquiry out to see if they either did buy the equipment or were simply inspired by the idea. I always enjoy that kind of connectivity.

Income, Profit, and Making a Living……

During dinner last night with friends, the discussion entered the realm of the difficulty in making a living in the arts. There are multiple dimensions to this, but if one strips to the core, it’s relatively simple – all be it disconcerting. As much as people do enjoy the arts, for those who have money to spend, what they are willing to pay is a different story. Almost as important is the reality there are many, many talented artists/artisans (this includes writers), and as in any commodity, markets are often “flooded”. Oh, for the sake of this post, I’m referring to freelance. Yes, there are teaching positions, but that’s a different path.

Unlike numerous careers where you won’t become wealthy, but you can earn enough to achieve and sustain middle class, few in the arts are genuinely likely to achieve that. Certainly not if there’s a family to care for as well. The tiny percent in the arts who do “make the big time” help fuel the dream though of all who have such aspirations. (Yes, there are also those who create only for “art’s sake”; that though is yet another topic).  The desire to create, whether it’s acting, art, craft, dance, music, or writing is something that should never be discouraged as it is a profound aspect of being human. Balancing the drive with “real life” is the trick as I’ve posted about when we were faced with son’s intent to be a dancer. And of course I’ve written  plenty about my own experience which was part of last night’s discussion. In never having the commercial breakthrough, my writing has been a consistent tax write-off, but the IRS does get a bit touchy with year in and year out of that. Since I do primarily self-publish and I no longer publish at least one book a year, it  works out that I “make a profit” every few years. That is very much a relative term as it means yes, I have more income from writing than expenses. Let us say the ability to make a living with that income is not the same. On the other hand, I’ve refined the process to where my costs are no more than we spend on an average vacation and we do both take pleasure in my books.

Mentoring Women for Racing….

I’ve posted before about NASCAR, but also about how Homestead Speedway has lots of other activities that aren’t as well known. One of those is the FARA races that come I think twice a year. Hubby was at the track all yesterday afternoon. FARA is Formula and Automobile Racing Association and there are different classes of cars and types of racing. Some have the potential to go on to the higher level circuits of Indy, NASCAR, and so forth. In other cases, people have the resources to be part of racing at this level with no expectation of anything else.

Something special though has to do with a program called Shift Up Now. Hubby discovered it back in February and included this in his overall article: “Arguably the most well known racer to participate in the Miami 500 was Pippa Mann. She is an Indy Car Racer who competes regularly in the Indy Car Series and finished 16th in last year’s Indy 500. She now also works with Shift Up Now as a driver coach.

Mann was in Homestead to coach and co-drive with Kristina Esposito, a 17-year-old New York racer.

Shift Up Now Founder and CEO Lynn Kehoe was also on hand to support Kristina. Ms Kehoe summed up the mission of the organization as “We’re all about helping racers and non-racers by inspiring and instilling confidence in women and girls.”

With their partners such as TLM Racing, Shift Up Now will be supporting Kristina as she competes in the FARA series of races with her goal being a class championship.

Kristina also uses her racing to raise money to support the New York Fire Department’s Widow’s and Children’s Fund.”

Both women are here in Homestead this weekend, still doing well in their racing and promoting interest along the way. Hubby’s article will probably be in next week’s paper.

No Caterpillars Yet…..

As I have previously explained, Hubby and I are still unclear when it comes to certain gardening things and it looks as if one of the orchids may have died after doing well. It  for months. It happened rather suddenly and the others are okay, so perhaps it was some sort of bug. One of the other plants (the chocolate raspberry) we thought was a goner has re-bloomed and is looking great.

That leads me to the milkweed. Last year we had a few caterpillars, chrysalis and butterflies. I mean we have different types of butterflies flitting about every day, but these were some we felt certain came from the milkweed plant. It was devoured though and seemed to be down to bare stem. We left it alone and sure enough it has also grown a great deal. We haven’t seen any caterpillars yet, but then again, we don’t know what the cycle is. There are quite a number of black “dots” on the underside of a couple of the leaves toward the back of the plant. Perhaps those are eggs although I can’t be certain. We will pay more attention this year. I know we can order chrysalis through the mail, but it would seem in this environment it makes more sense to allow nature to take over.

Oh, a related topic is the bananas haven’t ripened yet even though they are growing. I say haven’t ripen as in they haven’t turned yellow or softened very much. We’re still not certain as to that process either. Yeah, I know. You would think after being in this house as long as we have been we would understand how these things work.

October Trip, Day 4…..

Okay, am posting this from the house. Flights went smoothly today and traffic from airport was not bad. Even made it inside 20 minutes ahead of the rain currently falling.

We did have a late night last night as Clyde’s, the restaurant we went to, took longer than we expected – good food and the delays were understandable. For one of the first times ever, I did not get my crab cakes during the Virginia visit. I fully intended to, but when they have lobster Shepard’s pie on the menu, how does one resist? I did have Maryland crab soup though, so a regional homage was involved. We all wanted to spend a little more time together and thus did a nightcap in the room as granddaughter was a bit “wired” and needed to wind down. Had done my Grandma duty with an hour in the pool earlier in the afternoon and let’s just say it was not overly comfortable. The kids did have a nice “date day”, but with the weather rainy and chilly, they mostly relaxed rather than went anywhere special.

A very different experience on the connecting flight to Miami which went far better than I thought. We were in aisle and center seat and lady was right behind us who was in the window seat. Okay, we step back out to let her and her dog in. Some kind of long hair terrier mix. As she was juggling everything, I made the comment of it would take her a minute to get the dog in the carrier. She said, “No, she wouldn’t be needing it.” Ah, the dog was to be in her lap for the entire flight. You can understand my concern. Now, my sister, who is allergic to animal dander, has commented before about this being something that bothers her. We happen not to be allergic, but it was a full flight. I have no idea what would have happened if one or both of us were allergic. The dog did squirm around a bit, but also behave and it wasn’t an issue. In truth, as startling as it was, the dog was quieter than having an crying baby/child next to us.



October Trip Day 3….

I was actually expecting granddaughter to be knocking on our door by now (8:45 a.m.), but she did expend a lot of energy yesterday. Today’s plan is for the kids to have a “date day” as we take granddaughter to the Air and Space Museum annex near Dulles. That’s the reason for staying on this side of D.C. For those not familiar with it, the official name is the Smithsonian Institution Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The Air and Space Museum in D.C. has far more items than they can display and there are physical issues with being able to expand. Many years – okay, decades ago – there was the idea to build an annex out close to Dulles where a facility could be constructed to hold the famous SR-71 – the “Blackbird” supersonic spy plane and even a space shuttle. That was obviously a major effort. I don’t recall now when it opened, but the kids have visited it once and Hubby has wanted to for quite some time. There are of course restrictions now as to capacity, so tickets are issued for timed entries. We’re at 10:30 so no one had to rush around. Will report after.

Good exhibits even with a number of really cool ones closed because of COVID restrictions. Kept granddaughter’s attention for 1.5 hours and the trip through the museum shop was reasonable. In discussing potential careers like engineers, astronauts, etc., learned granddaughter’s intent is to be a vet so she can take care of puppies and llamas.

Moving on to next unexpected travel irritant. Turns out there is no housekeeping. Process is beds don’t get changed (not an issue as we take that option anyway when it’s only a few days), towels can be delivered when you ask for them as are other amenities. Trash is to be placed outside and is picked up. No actual cleaning provided until after checkout. In sorting through that logic, it would have been nice to have been informed of this on their website before booking or certainly as least when we checked in.