Friday, October 31, 2008

The new scent

Celebrity fragrances, where will it end? At the mall last weekend, I encountered this new perfume launched just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Now I know what crack whore smells like.

Pineapple Stalker

I got caught stalking the neighbor's pineapple this morning. I have a neighbor that has a green thumb the size of Texas and this week I noticed that she has a pineapple growing in her yard. Believe it or not, I've never seen a pineapple grow "in the wild" before. So this morning, I grabbed my camera and walked down to her yard and proceeded to take pictures of it. That's when she walked out of the garage and spotted me, a quizzical look on her face.

"I hope it is ok if I take a picture of your pineapple," I asked meekly (and a little too late I might add) with my face burning red in embarrassment. "I've never seen one growing on the stalk before."

Luckily, she was more than happy to tell me all about her pineapples, how long they take to grow (this one about 6 months), how to tell when it is ripe enough to pick (it turns a more golden yellow color), and how to plant my own (just cut the top off a ripe pineapple and plant it in the ground).

I won't be growing my own anytime soon because I can't grow anything but kids and dogs in my house. Any plantlike creature that is unlucky enough to wind up here is just doomed.

Things heard in the early voting line

I voted yesterday. Stood in line for half an hour then waited inside in the seated line for another 40 minutes. And along the way, I saw and heard some interesting things.

A mother and her son, who was in his early 20s. She had already voted, but she was waiting in line with him, reviewing the sample ballot and discussing the issues. I figured it must be his first time to vote. Why he needed Mommy along was beyond me.

The couple in line in front of me seemed like a nice enough couple, in their early 60s. They were reading through the sample ballot as they waited and it became clear to me that it might have been the first time they had even glanced at what was on the ballot. There were quite a few charter amendments on our ballot (an unfortunate growing trend), and as usual the language of the amendments had them stumped. I finally had to jump in and explain a few of them to this obviously intelligent couple. This was tricky because I did not want to give explanations that seemed to favor a particular decision on the ballot item. Apparently I did an OK job because they thanked me with sincerity. But I had to wonder, if intelligent mature adults had not taken the time to discover what was on their ballot this year and inform themselves, how many others would be voting on issues they didn't understand one bit?

A few feet back in line were two old-timers, the kind of guys you find huddled in coffee shops on a weekday morning loudly solving the world's problems. They were very loudly discussing their choice of presidential candidate in a way that had to be offensive to more than just a few people in line. It made me wonder why we had not yet seen reports of fistfights breaking out in early voting lines.

A "Bless her heart" moment. A very chatty senior lady was sitting behind me in the line. She talked to everyone and anyone non-stop. At one point a woman sat down next to her and the chatty senior asked this woman if she knew what the abbreviations meant. What abbreviations was the reply. Then chatty senior lady plucked the woman's sample ballot right out of the hand of this woman and proceeded to try and find the abbreviations on the ballot, much to the innocent woman's horror. "Oh no" she said as she snatched the sample ballot away from chatty senior, not wanting the chatty senior to see her ballot choices. Chatty senior didn't even realize her social faux pas, she just kept talking undeterred. Bless her heart, this must have been chatty senior's biggest opportunity for conversation in months.

One thing is for certain, this is going to be an election for the record books.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Great Pumpkin

Apparently, MiniMe is not interested in re-living great moments of my childhood with me. I tried to get her to watch "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" last night when it was broadcast. I really looked forward to watching this every year when I was growing up. So I was excited to find it on last night and even told MiniMe she could stay up a little late to watch it with me. I've been experiencing a lot of "mom guilt" lately for being so busy and not spending much time with her. And now here, finally, was a perfect opportunity for some meaningful mommy-daughter bonding.


MiniMe: "Why do I have to watch this? It's so boring."

Boring? It's not boring. It's a great classic halloween cartoon. I used to look forward to watching it every year when I was your age.

MiniMe: "But Mom, the characters don't even talk."

(Now, to be fair, quite a bit of this cartoon does have the characters roaming around while that silly Charlie Brown theme plays in the background, something I had never really noticed before.)

They talk. Just wait a minute and you'll see. You know, when I was growing up, the Charlie Brown specials were the only time you'd see cartoons on in the evening. Usually you only got to see cartoons on Saturday morning.

(Big eyeroll from MiniMe. Sigh!)

MiniMe: "I think I'm going to go to bed Mom."

But don't you want to see the end and find out if the Great Pumpkin shows up?

MiniMe: "No, you can tell me what happens in the morning."

So my only option is to share my love of all things "Great Pumpkin" with readers of NativeMom. Here goes . . .

"It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" was the third Peanuts animated special and the first halloween special to be produced. It originally aired Oct. 27, 1966, and has aired every year since. In the film, the Peanuts gang all wear costumes and go trick-or-treating except for Linus and Sally who decide to forgo trick-or-treating and stake out the pumpkin patch waiting for the arrival of the Great Pumpkin. An interesting note of trivia, when Charles Schulz drew the "Great Pumpkin" in the daily comic strip, Charlie Brown, not Sally, was with Linus when Snoopy appears as the "Great Pumpkin".

Can you remember what costume Charlie Brown wears? And what did he get in his bag at each house as the gang went trick-or-treating?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Happy soon-to-be Halloween! I have a treat for you. My friend Florida Cracker got some great shots and video of a pure white squirrel. He calls it a ghost squirrel - spooky! Check it out.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Rooftop buffet

We have a Red-Tailed Hawk that lives in our neighborhood. He's a big guy and because he's such a fixture here, I make sure my daughter doesn't take her guinea pig outside. It doesn't take much to imagine what kind of disaster that might bring.

Anyway, this morning as I was walking the dogs, the hawk swooped down into my neighbor's yard and snatched up something. Then he perched on the same neighbor's rooftop where he proceeded to eat his morning meal. It reminded me of a situation that befell VOR last year.

She had just put a new roof on her house, a major undertaking. The day after the new roof was complete, she returned home to find a bloody mess smack in the middle of her shiny new roof. Seems the remains of a Hawk's squirrel lunch had been left on her house.

Around Florida, our abundant wildlife can leave quite a mess, but hey, that's just part of life in the Sunshine State. Like the time my friend Glyn decided to spend a sunny Saturday on his boat only to find that the Osprey who lived nearby had left the remains of a big, yummy crab lunch on his boat's roof. The crab remains stank to high heaven and he spent an hour or more scrubbing the crustacean off his roof before he could get underway.

Beloved and I once took a motorcycle ride out to a local outdoor cafe. I use the term "cafe" loosely, as it was really more like a fish camp with a few tables set up outside. It was a beautiful day and we were sitting at the outdoor picnic table, watching the manatees swim in the canal, and enjoying our friend green tomatoes when all of a sudden, INCOMING!!! A group of pelicans came swooping over us and let loose. Anyone who's ever been the victim of a pelican bombing can attest that these big, prehistoric looking birds can do some damage. Luckily we got away with just a little splatter and our food escaped untainted.
Ah, the joys of Florida living!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Scary but Good

The only thing scarier than a fully heterosexual man in a dress is one in a bathing suit.

A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless to protect, well, you know, agreed to completely embarrass himself for charity this week by taking part in an event called the Womanless Beauty Pageant. The guys involved all took turns doing the runway walk in evening gown and bathing suit to raise money for children and adults with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other disabilities. My friend, dressed as Marilyn Monroe in the black bikini above, came in first runner up. I'm so proud!! Although he wasn't crowned "queen," I think it's safe to say he - and all the other er, "lovelies," were winners!

Go Boy Go!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Haunted Florida Month - Fort Clinch

One of my favorite Florida small towns is Fernandina Beach. Located just north of Jacksonville, this quaint seaside town is a stone's throw away from the tony resort community of Amelia Island. Fernandina Beach claims to be the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry. The main attraction is a 50-block downtown district on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Nearby is Fort Clinch, a state park. The fort was built in 1847 and was home to Confederate forces when the Civil War began in 1861. It was taken by federal troops when a withdrawal was ordered by Gen. Robert E. Lee the following year.

So you gotta figure that a Civil War fort in Florida is haunted, right? Oh yeah.

Each month, historians recreate life at Fort Clinch during the War Between the States. Activities include artillery demonstrations, medical demonstrations and soldier drills. Soldiers and civilians also take up duty in the laundry, infirmary, kitchen, barracks, quartermaster and carpenter shop. Candlelight viewings are held on Saturday evenings every first full weekend of the month.

It is during these living history weekends that most of the haunting reports surface. Volunteers have reported seeing a woman dressed in white, like a nurse, carrying a lantern. Several members during one weekend's encampment reported seeing four spectral soldiers in Confederate uniform marching across the parade grounds under a July full moon. The same volunteers returned the following July under a full moon and say they saw the spectral soldiers in uniform again, only this time there were only three. One of the onlookers called out and asked where the fourth soldier was. "He's sick tonight, couldn't come," was the answer.

Which reminds me, what do you give a ghost with a sore throat?

Coffin drops.

40 is the new 20

I got a call from my sister this week. She was calling me from the aisle of her local party store where she was purchasing supplies for the birthday party she was throwing for her husband this weekend. He's turning 40.

"Is 40 'Over the Hill'? I'm at the party store and they've got all this great 'Over the Hill' stuff. 40 is 'Over the Hill', right?"

Hmmmm. You know you're asking the wrong person. You do remember that I'm 40 right?

"Yeah, I know. That's why I'm asking you. You were 'Over the Hill' for your party last year right?"

Ummmm. I wouldn't exactly agree with that. I think 50 is closer to being 'Over the Hill' than 40. I'm not 'Over the Hill.'

"Yeah, but they've got all this great, funny 'Over the Hill' stuff. Didn't you have some of that at your birthday last year?"

Well, considering that my husband is still alive, the answer would be no. You know, you're only a couple of years from 40 yourself.

"No, it's a while away for me. But I guess when I turn 40 I'll be 'Over the Hill.' I'm gonna get some of this stuff, it will be great!"

Ummmm. You know, everyone you've invited to this party, with the exception of my kids, will be over age 40. You'll be the only one who's not. So, I'm thinking you might want to wait until he's 50 to proclaim him 'Over the Hill.'

"But 40 is old."

No 40 is the new 20. Just wait for your birthday . . .

Friday, October 17, 2008

Where have we landed?

It's Biketoberfest this weekend where I live. An annual fall event that brings motorcycle enthusiasts to town in droves. As residents, we're all fairly used to the event. But I was reminded of just how strange it must seem to a visitor yesterday in a most amusing way.

Standing in line at Walgreens. The cashier there is very chatty, but in a good way. The line is several people deep and I'm not paying much attention. Finally I find myself second in line. This is the exchange between Chatty Cashier and Nice Lady in Her 40s in line in front of me.

Cashier: "How'd you like that outfit?" referring to a customer who just left.

NLH40: "I know. Couldn't she have put some clothes on?"

Cashier: "Well you see a lot of that this week."

NLH40: "Yea, I've noticed. What is this event all about? I keep asking people and they just keep saying it's Biketoberfest. But what is Biketoberfest? Is there a reason for it?"

Cashier: "Yea, there's a reason. They all come to town to ride around and get drunk."

NLH40: "We've just moved to the area and I didn't know anything about it. In fact, we move into our house this weekend, so for now we're staying in a hotel on the beach. I think everyone else at our hotel this week is a biker. We weren't sure what was going on when we checked in."

Now, here's where I had to butt in, nosy NativeMom that I am.

NativeMom: "Actually, Biketoberfest is an event created by the Daytona Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau to try and give the local hoteliers and hospitality industry a boost during a typically slow time of year for them."

NLH40: "Well, we're from Tampa and they have Gasparilla there. So I was wondering if Biketoberfest was like Gasparilla?"

Gasparilla is a celebration of the pirate invasion of the TampaBay area. There's a parade and lots of parties, kind of like Mardi Gras.

NativeMom: "Well, Biketoberfest really doesn't have a theme to it or a folklore behind it. But it is more than just a bike party. There's motorcycle races at the speedway and a lot of vendors in town along with local businesses that get into the action. I guess it's just a mini version of the spring event."

NLH40: "There's a spring event?"

Oh Honey, you have nooooo idea!

NativeMom: "Uh . . . yea. This is just a preview of what happens here in March, when Bike Week is two weeks long and brings twice as many people to town. I guess you might as well know now, you've landed in motorcycle mecca."

NLH40: "Oh."

As I left the store, I had to laugh imagining what this poor woman and her husband must have thought when they checked into their hotel and began making preparations for their new home. Gee, everyone here rides a motorcycle? What's that all about?

I hope someone clues her in on a little thing called Speedweeks, not to mention Spring Break. I didn't have the heart to tell her. Welcome home!

Where's she going?

I've come across an advertisement for American Girl dolls several times this week. It says "Soon we'll say farewell to Samantha" with a picture of a little brown haired doll with period clothing. Where's she going? Is this supposed to be some kind of threat? Who uses the word "farewell" anymore?

I guess the wording of the advertisement sounds better than the alternative that sprang to mind when I saw it.

"Buy now or the doll gets it!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Window Weather Stings

On the way home from dropping MiniMe off at school this morning, I had the windows down in the truck to enjoy the fall weather. Fall weather in Florida is the best! Clear, sunny, no rain, low humidity and pleasant temperatures.

I've been reading the book by Mark Lane, Sandspurs: Notes from a Coastal Columnist, and he had a chapter expounding on the pleasures of riding with the windows down in Florida, a lost art.

So I was reviving the lost art of driving with the windows down, enjoying the morning, when it happened. Something stung me right in the middle of the back. Damn, that hurt! I almost ran off the road. I don't know what it was, but suffice to say it was some sort of evil stinging flying creature. I guess it serves me right trying to take a few moments to "stop and smell the flowers" metaphorically speaking. Getting stung between the shoulder blades, a place I can't even reach, is just how my life is going right now. I haven't even been able to post on this blog in a week because I've been so busy and nothing's been going right for me.

When I finally made it home, wincing in pain all the way, I had a moment to examine the bite and it was definitely a sting. Not an ant bite. I needed to get some medicine on it to stop the pain and disinfect, but dammit, I couldn't reach it. I started mentally going through the list of any friends or neighbors I could ask to medicate my back for me and came up with nothing. I mean what am I supposed to do, knock on my neighbor's door with a bottle of bactine in hand, pull my shirt up and ask for help with the ugly red welt in the middle of my back?!? A visit like that would make someone long for the good old days when the doorbell would ring and it would just be a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This one is for my Mom

Something just to make you smile. Hope you have a better week, Mom!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Florida Moms Gone Wild!

This is what happens when you mix three life-long friends, who happen to be busy professional moms, with a day-full of kid-free fun, fueled by wine and other fizzy libations brought to them by their devoted husbands who stood in line so they didn't have to.

The Epcot Food & Wine Fest was mucho, mucho fun. We ate, we drank, we talked, we walked, we drank some more. We stood in the shade and giggled while our devoted hubbies stood in line to buy us more yummy International food samples and cool sips of wine. We shopped, we drank, we ate, we took the free shuttle home at the end of the night and slept the peaceful sleep of no-kids-in-the-next-room-because-we're-on-an-adult-weekend, sleep.
It was heaven! Hey, who's up for doing it all over again this weekend?!?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Scary Tales for October - Dentist Fright

Just got back from the dentist with MiniMe. She needs braces. They cost a lot. Aaaaahhhhhh! Now that's really scary!

Haunted Florida Month - Spooky Hill

Is it real or are your eyes playing tricks on you. The town of Lake Wales is famous for its popular, and free, tourist attraction – Spook Hill.
Spook Hill is located on North Lake Wales Drive, adjacent to Spook Hill Elementary School (mascot is Casper the Ghost).

Park your car on the white line painted at the bottom of the hill. Put your car in neutral, and hold on as your car rolls slowly backward, uphill.

Is it a ghost at the wheel or is it an optical illusion? Legend suggests that the ghost of Spook Hill is the spirit of a giant alligator that terrorized an Indian village before the Chief finally killed the beast in an epic battle.

Scientists say Spook Hill is a gravity hill and an optical illusion.

You decide. Watch the amateur video of Spook Hill at work.

Haunted Florida Month - Creepy Inns

What better time to spin a few ghost tales than the month of October. Throughout the month, I'll be sharing a few ghost stories on Florida's haunted places. It's been said that Florida is the most haunted state in the nation, perhaps because of its long and war-torn history.

I'll start off with a tale of a Haunted bed-and-breakfast inn (coffee please with a side of ectoplasm!)

Seven Sisters Inn, Ocala, FL

If you’re the owner of a bed-and-breakfast inn built on grounds where hundreds of soldiers gasped their dying breaths in battle in the 1800s, you should probably expect a few ghosts to be in residence. The Seven Sisters Inn is actually two Victorian-style mansions – the Pink House and the Purple House- in the historic district in Ocala. Legend and some historical records suggest that the Inn is built on the grounds where the Florida Osceola Indian tribe ambushed and killed soldiers from Fort King during the Florida Indian wars.

And if that’s not enough, the Purple House is also the site of several terrible fires. The ghost that is believed to haunt this part of the Inn is known for her dislike of fire, always blowing out candles as they are lit.

There have been sightings of men and women in period clothing, sounds of a small child, furniture moved or knocked over, and the sounds of mysterious guests who enter in the middle of the night. These ghosts pull their own weight, though. A workman at the house finishing a remodel on the second floor came downstairs to ask the owners if they had seen the other workman who had asked to borrow his hammer. He couldn’t find the hammer or the workman who he had spoken to. The owners told him he was the only workman on the property that day. The hammer was never found.

The highly entertaining Sci Fi series Ghost Hunters actually featured Florida in its episode this week (Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. on the Sci Fi Channel). They visited the Seven Sisters Inn and encountered the spirits that haunt the place. In fact, one mischievious ghost even made off with one of the Ghost Hunter’s flip flops.

Click here to see the Ghost Hunters take.

Click here for video interviews with owners of the Seven Sisters Inn, Bonnie & Ken.