Entering A New Phase…..

With June rolling around, I checked to discover that yes, indeed, I should be signing up for Medicare as I am within a little over 60 days from my birthday. There is a special provision for military because we no longer qualify to be seen at military facilities except in a very few places; none of which are near here. We don’t qualify for VA because neither of us have enough disability.Quite frankly, that’s not a bad trade-off.

Anyway, we have a special process we go through – well, actually I guess it’s just an additional step we have to take. I found the 44-page brochure I downloaded and will read through it this coming week. Once I’ve got that part figured out, I’ll go onto the government site to register. Several high school friends who post on Facebook have already done so. With an August birthday, I’m later in the year. Like most people “in the range” we have received a huge number of phone calls and mailings about all the different choices. I do hope it isn’t as confusing as it seems at first look. We currently have a supplement we have to pay, but they’re among the people we haven’t heard from. My impression is they don’t operate in that particular area. I suppose I should ask the direct question.

A friend who is approaching a birthday that shall we just say is above the 65 mark doesn’t like to acknowledge the number. She also hates to be reminded of the saying, “You only have two choices”, so we don’t make that comment. In actuality, you can choose to ignore your age and only respond to the question when it is needed for medical purposes. Although it doesn’t take any years away, it is an option.

Ah, A Tale of a Tail….

There are certain puns one cannot resist and this is such an occasion. I’ve posted before about geckos and so forth as part of living in South Florida. We have a wide variety of them and do enjoy watching them outdoors. When we get one in the house we always try to gently return them to outside even though that doesn’t always meet with success.

I couldn’t get closer for a shot of this one, but part of his tail is missing. In actuality, I saw him several days ago and much more of the tail was gone. This is their defense mechanism to allow escape from predators and the tail will eventually grown back. This particular gecko hangs around in the flowering shrubs by the front door and so has a fair amount of foliage to hide in which I imagine is what happened when perhaps a bird went after him. I’ll keep an eye on him (well, okay, I guess it could be a her) and see if he is still around as the tail regrows.

By the way, if you haven’t been into the short story archives on my website, there is one entitled, “A Gecko in the Umbrella”, you can enjoy:


“Hiding” Versus “Deceiving”…..

“Writers read” is more or less a mantra, although I have to admit, how and what I read has changed since I started writing. I don’t mean changed as in when I was younger and absolutely devoured Victoria Holt, had my stretch of Louis L’amour (really), and the classic science fiction novels that gave way to other interests. I look at books differently now simply because I understand more about the mechanics of character and plot development. In knowing more about how books get onto the best seller lists also means I realize being a “best seller” doesn’t mean the book is something I’ll like. I actually tend to steer clear of them until I get a personal recommendation from someone I trust.

Anyway, I finished a book the other day that was one of these dual-time ones, although there was only a 20ish year gap as a daughter was attempting to learn about the tragic death of her parents. The earlier parts were told from the view of her deceased mother. A number of twists were of course revealed along the way with the “big one” coming in the next to the last chapter. I was sort of on the fence as to whether I was enjoying the story, but wanted to see how everything played out. Now comes my annoyance with the way the “big twist” was crafted. In setting one up, an author has a couple of standard choices. Information is completely withheld from the reader or only hinted at. The other is for a character to “think” or “say” things to the reader that are false until the “truth” comes out. In this case, that was the method chosen as the character of the mother repeatedly described angst over a tragedy from her teen years while knowing full well what had actually happened. Don’t get me wrong, it was consistent for the character to lie in dialog with other characters. It was her “internal” dialog that was unnecessarily deceptive. There was another I stopped reading a while back for something similar.Hubby says I’m becoming nit-picking and there could be an element of that.

Soggy Weekend….

I always have great sympathy when people have worked hard to plan an event, especially an outdoor one, and Mother Nature intervenes. The official hurricane season is not supposed to begin until the first week of June and we all know that it isn’t really until later we have to start paying attention. Except this is one of those unusual years when the first named storm, Tropical Storm Alberto, apparently doesn’t follow the calendar properly. It began as a possible “depression” and gained in its movement toward us. Not surprisingly, with the memories, and quite frankly damage, from last year’s storms still fresh, many people are a bit concerned as to if it is a portent. Allegedly not even though it isn’t following the standard pattern. Some of the planned events have been rescheduled and some of the smaller ones will probably be cancelled with sighs and shakes of heads.

One of the drawbacks to South Florida and the Keys is indeed the outdoor nature of our attractions. Once a small craft advisory goes into effect, diving, fishing, scenic cruises are pretty much shut down as is strolling through the national parks and frequenting outside dining. Since some restaurants have limited indoor seating, that can have a definite impact. This can be the time to catch up on movie-going, wandering through the malls, and discovering the different museums.

I will be getting caught up with a number of tasks today and tomorrow is probably okay since the event I am scheduled to attend is in fact at the Seminole Theatre. I’m not certain how fast the storm will be moving and it could be out of this area before tomorrow afternoon. Ah well, at least we won’t have to put water in the pool for a few days.


And the Lapse This Time Is…….

Actually, the gap in posting is two-fold. There was, once again a two-day, well, parts of three days network outage like the ones I have previously vented about. And there was, and continues to be, back-to-back functions and obligations that require time and cause me to shift my priorities. Today, in fact, is virtually non-stop although if all goes well, it will include diving. We’ll see what Mother Nature has in store for us.

Speaking of Mother Nature, Military Appreciation Day is one of those annual events that doesn’t have exactly a fixed day. Military Appreciation Month is May. The first time the City held the event, they had it right around Memorial Day, but that has some drawbacks for timing. They swapped and decided to kick off the month with the event and that does work well except this year they weren’t able to do that. So it was Saturday. A tremendous amount of planning and effort goes into getting together the demonstrations of things like military vehicles, weapons on display, a physical challenge for team competition, and so forth. It is all outside and as the day approached, so did a front coming in. The forecast was looking problematic, but the decision was made to continue and hope for the best. The rain did hold off for most of the set-up. Light rain started in and a number of people had their umbrellas and rain jackets handy. Now, who knows if the collective pleas had any impact since they usually don’t, but the rain did stop. Things were wiped off and while it was mostly overcast, clouds are not liquid. There were probably people who decided not to risk it, yet the ones who turned out had fun. I was of course at the downtown museum  although I could see the displays close to me and I spent a few minutes walking around after I locked up. It was a successful day for sure.

About Those Benefits…..

I was reminded in a recent conversation of something from my second career I hadn’t thought about for a long time. After I retired and took some time off to write my first book, the novel, Orchids in the Snow, it became painfully obvious I would not be making a living as a writer. Like most other retired military in the D.C. area, I went to work in the defense services contracting sector. I knew I didn’t want to work for a Fortune-500 company and went with a small company experiencing growth. The culture was what I was looking for and their salaries were mid-range which was fine based on our situation. What benefits to provide employees can be rather complex. Their basic package was basic and the intent was to add selected benefits as they were able to. I knew the company had work in some high-risk areas/specialties, none of which I was remotely interested in. But when they added kidnap and ransom insurance as a benefit for those employees who did that sort of work, it was appreciated. (To the best of my knowledge, the policies were not put to test during the time I was with the company.)

When it came to growth, another thing I was unfamiliar with was the founder and his wife decided to buy another company. This wasn’t anything I had experience with, but I usually had lunch with my boss and he explained the rationale and process to me. A second company was later acquired to make the original company become “A Group”, which was in turn acquired by a Fortune-500 corporation. This was a case of becoming, “too big to be small, and too small to be big”. In other words, there are certain contracts set aside for small business and once you pass out of that category, you are then required to compete with the really big guys. It’s difficult to go head-to-head with them and the big guys all know this. Selling the company is often the most advantageous and the original founding members were able to negotiate a nice deal. Another interesting lesson learned in the real world of business.

The Ups and Downs of Volunteering…..

I’ve previously posted about the extra volunteer work I have taken on and how I really should have said “no” to the last board request. I did not, however, and therefore have pretty much only my lack of willingness to say “no” to account for this. The up side to volunteering is when you see the good of it. I was at a luncheon today where someone thanked me for helping give their organization a bit of a boost when it was at a kind of critical time for them. Since it is a group that helps mostly high school and young adults, how can that not make you feel good?

On the other hand, I have also been dealing with the proverbial “tempest in a teapot” in some other situations the past two weeks because quite frankly of egos more concerned with their own agendas than the goals of the organization. This aspect of groups is just as likely to occur among volunteers as in business. When in business, you can sort of understand the drive that might very well result in promotion or career advancement in whatever capacity. In a volunteer organization, it is essentially self-aggrandizement, which can be tolerable if the end results are something good for the organization. On the other hand, if the behavior includes persistent denigration of others, that makes it tough to cope with. How does one handle it? Cautiously if the intent is to maintain the group. In some cases, the departure of selected individuals is the only solution. The individual/individuals who depart though might not be the ones “creating the waves”. It really is a shame, but so it can go. Ah well, these are the times, an adult beverage or soothing cup of tea comes in handy.

About Being a Parrothead……

We haven’t really counted how many Jimmy Buffet concerts we’ve been to; around a dozen which is certainly fewer than some fans. Or “Parrotheads” as we are referred to. I think I’ve previously posted about how they are really more an “experience” than a traditional concert. To start with, costumes can be quite elaborate. Some like us, merely opt for tropical-motif shirts, shorts, and sandals. Others add in the touch of parrot or shark hats, grass skirts on top of shorts, leis, and coconut bras. Full-fledged pirate attire is of course appropriate. Hubby didn’t take a photo Saturday, but the guy in the pink flamingo costume was a first for us. As Buffet has said, when he started this journey forty years ago – initially trying as a country singer by the way – he never truly imagined it would still be going on and that three generations would now be attending his concerts. His “empire” from a business perspective is phenomenal. After the many hit records, accompanied by tee shirts came the Margaritaville restaurants/stores with all sorts of products. Then it was the Margaritaville Resorts/Casinos, and most recently, an actual retirement community. This first one is in Florida and I assume if it is as successful as his other ventures, there will be others.

As with many of the older stars who still perform, their body of work is so large, they generally cannot get to all the favorites and Buffet is no exception. He will absolutely always do “Come Monday”, “A Pirate Looks at Forty”, “Margaritaville”,” Fins”, “Son of a Sailor”, “Changes in Latitude”; usually “One Particular Harbor” and “Southern Cross” (one of the few he or one of his longtime band members didn’t write). He starts his concerts on time or within about ten minutes and gives a full two hours with only a short intermission. Every sings along and people have been known to stand the entire time, moving to the beat. As I said, it is an experience. I suspect we have only a few more concerts left and he, too, is likely to wind down at some point in the not too distant future. For now, however, the fun does still go on.

In A Whirl….

The days do seem to accelerate at times and this week is like that. One of the non-profits I am most heavily involved with and have previously posted about is Homestead Center for the Arts (http://homesteadcenterforthearts.com) We have a degree of difficulty in explaining what the organization is and what we do because we do not have a physical location. HCA was actually started back in 1977 (or 1976 depending on how you count it) by a core of individuals who realized the local artistic and cultural groups had no voice in the county. They came together and arranged for a small county grant to be awarded under their administration. The charter was, and continues to be the nurturing and promotion of groups and individuals engaged in different forms of art and culture. There are 20 Affiliate members, some of which are 501c3 and others not officially organized as such, but brought together to support and promote whatever their particular passion is. The Lamplighters Writers Group is obvious from the title as is the East Everglades Orchid Society. Dance Expressions is easy to understand, and the Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum is an example of culture rather than art. All the organizations seek members or volunteers and there really is something for just about everyone.

Anyway, in our on-going effort to let people know who and what we are the founder of What If Works, a theater and film non-profit, created an on-stage showcase, the first we have ever done. This is another one where it’s easy for the South Dade Community Choir to kick the show off with a rousing number. How to promote the South Florida National Parks Camera Club? Having an array of beautiful photographs scroll across the large screen as the poem “Everglades Morning” (written by a local author) is read.

As the first of its kind, however, there has been a lot of work being done by only a few people. In this case, it was a deliberate choice to limit the number of people since we don’t know how the reception will be. If we can establish it to become an annual event, we can use the lessons learned to form appropriate committees for the future.

Memorable Movie Lines….

Hubby made the comment recently that he thought the most lines routinely quoted were from “Princess Bride”. I quickly pointed out, “Casablanca”. He countered with if you ask Millennials, they wouldn’t know about it. Hmmm, he may have had me there. I truly don’t  know how many younger generation have watched “Casablanca”. First of all, I don’t know how often they watch black and white movies. Nor do I know if, of those, WWII ones are of much interest. Not that it was precisely a war movie. Anyway, there are fabulous lines from both those movies that really have made their way into many conversations.

“We need a bigger boat” and “I’ll be back” are certainly two others. The whole Dirty Harry thing of “Do you feel lucky?” and “Go ahead and make my day” count. “Failure is not an option” has to get some votes and even though it isn’t a whole line, “the right stuff” was picked up quickly. .There are definitely some lesser known ones that have always resonated with me when it comes to philosophy. Two were from “The Competition” when Richard Dreyfuss was really young. He and Amy Irving were in an intense piano competition. Winning for her would be the high point of many years of hard work in her privileged life. Winning for him would be a career launch out of his lower middle class life where he had to struggle to fit piano time in. They of course became interested in each other providing the necessary complication to the movie. At one point, as Irving debated about deliberately losing since she could compete in a later year, her mentor and teacher said something like, “Of course, and when it is your final year, some other pianist will step aside and let you win because life is so fair and equitable.” Since it’s possible you will actually watch the movie some day, I won’t give the other quote because it would be a spoiler.

So, how about it? Favorites movie quotes?