Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bike Week Witch

I found her! The mythical Wicked Witch of Bike Week. Actually, there may be more than one Wicked Witch of Bike Week, but I found our hideous local hag when I opened my morning paper. The Daytona Beach News Journal has this columnist, and I use this term loosely, who is predicting that if Daytona continues on its evil path of Bike Week encouragement, we'll chase away all others who might want to visit here, namely families. 

I have news for Witch Hesterock, I actually have family coming into town for bike week. So do many other people I know.

My daughter asked me yesterday if it was true that blonde people are not as smart as other people. It gave me the perfect opportunity to introduce a new word to her fourth grade vocabulary - stereotype. 

Bikers aren't all drunks and exhibitionists. And Bikers are great for the economy. Beloved pointed out this weekend that little Daytona Beach has a store for just about every manufacturer of Bike there is - Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Triumph, HD, BMW, MotoGuzzi, you name it and you can buy it here in Daytona. That's rare. And it means more motorcycles are puchased in Daytona than just about anywhere else on earth. That's good for our economy. 

Yesterday, I was running errands and came across several visitors in town for bike week. And no, I wasn't bar hopping. Saw my first group at Walgreens, where they were buying sunscreen, bottled water, snacks, etc. As I passed them leaving the store, I said "Welcome to Bike Week!"

"Thanks" they grinned, looking a little surprised some random woman would extend greetings.

"We're glad you're here. Ride safe!" I said. Only I should have told them to beware the Wicked Witch of Bike Week who's out spreading doom and gloom using stereotypes. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Adult Child of Dog Lover

I heard a great story on NPR a few weeks ago. It was a piece by Emily Yoffe of in which she discusses the difficulty of being an ACDL, the Adult Child of a Dog Lover. It can be hard when you grow up and realize that your parents have replaced you with a dog, or two.

Meet SuperMimi's dogs, whom I'll call Good Boy and SpitThatOut, which the dogs assume are their actual names since she constantly says "good boy" to the male yorkie and is most likely heard screaming "spit that out" to the female.  

Thanks to Good Boy and SpitThatOut, and the number of cute yorkies that came before them, I could identify with being an ACDL. There was a lot in the NPR piece that sounded familiar. Like when you grow up and come back home to visit your mom and dad and see that dad will spend hours throwing the ball in the yard for the dog, but, you realize, he never threw the ball in the yard with you as a kid. Or that your mom, who can be so astute at pointing out her adult children's shortcomings, thinks the dog who jumps all over you, pees on the floor and tries to eat off your plate is perfect. 

So a few weeks ago, I was visiting SuperMimi (and of course Good Boy and SpitThatOut) when my mom pointed out that I was becoming more and more like her everyday. But not in a good way. 

"You know, I'll never forget, when you were a teenager and we would be fighting, one of your favorite things to say is 'I'll never be like my mother!' Now look at you,  you're becoming more and more like me every day," she says as she grins evily. "You've got kids and two dogs that you dote on just like me."

I admit, I was not the easiest teenager to live with. And yes, I'm sure I spat out the phrase "I'm never going to be like you" to my mother at least a dozen times back then. And guess what. She remembers. Every. Time. I said it. And. Reminds me. Often. In front. Of others. 

Today, I not only sound like my mom and resemble her physically, I work from home in my own business, just like her. And I love dogs. Just like her. 

So if you're the adult child of a dog obsessed individual, take a listen to Emily's piece on NPR. It's like therapy, only free. 

GenX Moms

I've always tried to encourage MiniMe that she can ask me anything. To that end, I've never responded to a single question she poses with "Why do you want to know." I figure if she asks me a question, like, oh, I don't know, "what's a lesbian?" and I say "Why do you want to know," I might as well tell her "You shouldn't be asking that question." So far, this philosophy has worked well for me. And yes, I got the "what's a lesbian" question when she was in first grade.

So last night, MiniMe asks, "What's a promise ring?" Now being a GenX mom, the first thing I think of is a small token a young man might give to a young woman when they're dating, but too young to consider marriage. And so that's how I explain it to MiniMe. Only she looks at me really strange. Then I realize, oh, she's talking about that Jonas Brothers type promise ring. The one that teens will sometimes wear to show they intend to stay pure until marriage. Yeah, as a GenX mom, I'm not real familiar with that kind of promise ring. In my day we would have called that a chastity belt. 

So I say, "Did you mean the kind of promise ring the Jonas Brothers wear?" She pipes up, "Yea, what's that!" in a way that says "ok uncool mom, now you get it!"

Well, I say, that kind of promise ring is a ring either a young man or a young woman will wear that is sign to others that they will stay a virgin until they are married. 

"What? Really? Until they're married?" now she seems even more confused. 

Yes. They wear the ring to show they intend to stay a virgin until they are married. You know what a virgin is, right? (I mean if she knew what a lesbian was at age 6, I figured she knew what a virgin was. We had the sex talk when she was 7). 

"Yea, I know what a virgin is. It's someone who doesn't eat eggs or milk or cheese."

Um, no, that's a vegan, I say. Sounds kinda the same, huh? And I explain the difference without laughing, I might add. No small feat. 

I can only imagine what she must have thought. Teens wear a ring to show they won't eat eggs, or milk, or cheese until they're married. 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bake Sale for Concealed Weapons

Well my previous post questioning our lawmakers decision to direct budget funds to clear the backlog of concealed weapons permits cause a little bit of a fracas. The only thing that gets people more fired up than the issue of gun ownership is abortion. And no, I will not be tackling that issue.

But it occurred to me that if the state is having trouble keeping up with processing concealed weapons applications and needs to hire additional workers to unjam the backlog, maybe gun enthusiasts could hold a bake sale to raise monies. Or perhaps a car wash. Maybe they could sell tins of popcorn and pretzels. 

I mean, that's what our kids have been doing for years to keep their schools and sports programs alive. 

I know, gun enthusiasts could try selling magazine subscriptions.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Really? Gun Permits? Really!

This morning I found myself hoping I had just temporarily landed in the middle of that Saturday Night Live News skit where Seth and Amy express disgust and amazement at the decisions by our government/corporate leaders by saying Really!?! over and over. But it was real life, not comedy. Really!

Yesterday, our smart-as-a-box-of-rocks legislative representatives on the Legislative Budget Commission approved additional spending to handle the backlong of applications for things like unemployment compensation, food stamps and public assistance here in Florida. Ok. That makes sense. 

But they also approved $3.8 million in new spending to help cut a backlog of 90,000 applications for concealed weapons permits. Really?!? Carrying a concealed weapon is now such an emergency that we need to hire  61 temporary workers between April 1 and June 30 to process the gun applications in Tallahassee and eight regional offices. Really?!?

To be fair, some of this money will be spent clearing a back log of criminal background checks. (I hope they're checking all the people who are in such a rush to carry a concealed weapon.) I don't know if this was the brainchild of our illustrious Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson. But he defended the additional spending to process the backlog of concealed weapons permits, and I quote, "A lot of it has to do with the fact that the economy is having some tough times right now," Bronson said. "The amount of crimes are beginning to increase. I believe that people are feeling a little threatened."

Maybe we could better fund our police and safety programs in the state with that $3.8 million instead. Maybe, oh and I know this is silly, we could pay for some more crime prevention programs. Nah, let's just arm as many people in the state as possible. Do it yourself crime-fighting. I guess do-it-yourself roadwork and bridge construction is next. 

Working in Vacationland

This weekend is my hometown's own little spring break. Yes, it's early, but this will be the only weekend for months to come when our town isn't full of visitors. All the people wearing brand new Dale Jr No. 88 Amp hats have finally gone. Although it was good having them here. Really. Please come back next year!

Next weekend you'll see a noticeable increase in motorcycle traffic as bike weeks begins. Two weeks of people here on vacation, enjoying themselves and their shiny new bikes, and yet we're still working. 

It's hard to work in everyone else's vacation land. Not only are you constantly reminded that OTHER people are having fun and NOT working. But you also get friends/family who roll into town to enjoy the events, call you up and want you to come along. Beloved and I might play hooky one day during bike week, maybe 2 days, but we live here. We're not just visiting. And we have to get up and go to work.

So when my friends/family all comment on how "lucky" we are to live here - we don't have to travel to enjoy speedweeks, bike week, spring break, the beaches, etc. I remind them that being surrounded by so many people on vacation when you're not isn't always ideal.

Not that I'm complaining. I'd just rather be on vacation. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A star is born

He did it! Beloved made me a cake and it was . . . .great! As soon as I find my USB cord I'll upload a photo of the golden masterpiece.

Thanks to all of you who sent Happy Birthday greetings my way. The rest of you suck. I mean it's not everyday a girl turns 29 

For the 12th time. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

Am I raising White Trash?

Oldest stepson came home from college for a visit this weekend. While home, he went out with some friends and the next morning, he's got a hickey on his neck. Ewwww. The sight of it made me throw up in my mouth a little, especially after I found out who'd planted it there. 

Beloved: What's that!

OldestStepson: Nothing.

Beloved: That's a hickey! Why do you have a hickey? Who gave you that hickey?

OldestStepson: It was ******* (AKA  FormerPsychoGirlfriendWhomWeDoNotLikeAndHadHopedSheWasGoneforGood). 

Beloved: When did you see (gulp) her? (AKA FormerPsychoGirlfriendWhomWeDoNotLikeAndHadHopedSheWasGoneforGood)

OldestStepson: I was just hanging out with a group of friends last night and she was there.

Beloved: And how did she go from being there to that thing on your neck?

OldestStepson: She was just playing around, trying to tease me. 

NativeMom: A hickey! Who gives hickeys? Were you and your friends just hanging out at the trailer park drinking Boonesfarm and sharing stories from the "good old days" of high school before the kids came along and then you graduated? Saturday night at the trailer park, the illegitimate kids running around barefoot playing with the dogs in the dirt under the trailer with some Sweet Home Alabama coming from the truck parked with the door cocked open nearby? 

OldestStepson: What? What are you talking about? 

NativeMom: Do I look like I'm raising White Trash around here?!? 

OldestStepson: You're weird. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Today is my B-Day

In honor of my birthday today, Beloved and MiniMe are going to make me a cake. Not just any cake, my favorite cake. Pineapple upside down cake. I am grateful and I am micro-managing. Here's why.

I caught a glimpse of the website Beloved was visiting this morning and it stopped me in my tracks. It was a Betty Crocker website. 

NativeMom: What are you doing.

Beloved: Looking for something.

NativeMom: What are you looking for on a recipe website?

Beloved: It's a surprise, you're not supposed to ask questions.

NativeMom (with delight and a little concern): Are you planning to cook dinner for me as a surprise tonight? 

Beloved: Maybe. 

NativeMom: What are you going to make? It doesn't have to be fancy. I like spaghetti. 

Beloved: MiniMe and I are going to make dinner and a cake. 

NativeMom: A cake? Can you get one of those yummy Publix cakes since it's my birthday. I know the kids like ice cream cake, but I prefer the real kind of cake. 

Beloved: No, we're making you a cake.

Now I was confused and a little nervous. 

NativeMom: Why? I like the Publix cake. 

Beloved: MiniMe and I are going to make your favorite cake. Pineapple upside down cake. 

Now, I know it may be a little strange, but my favorite cake is pineapple upside down cake. Not just any pineapple upside down cake, the kind my mom makes. She's made it for my birthday, special, just for me, for years. No one else's pineapple upside down cake compares. And here's Beloved looking for a recipe for pineapple upside down cake online, when SuperMimi is just a phone call away and she holds THE only recipe for my favorite cake.

NativeMom: Why don't you just call Mimi, she can give you a recipe. 

Beloved: Well, I checked the Paula Deen cookbook you have, but her recipe was too complicated. It was for a cake made from . . .sigh . . .scratch. But Betty Crocker has recipes online using their box mixes.

NativeMom: But Mimi's recipe uses a box mix. Why don't you call her. She'll give you the recipe. 

Beloved: That's ok, I've got one here on the website that seems pretty simple.

Simple, maybe, but it's not gonna be MY favorite cake. Might as well buy a cake. So, do I push or do I just let it go?

NativeMom: You know, I bet MiniMe would get a kick out of calling Mimi and asking for her recipe. MiniMe could write it down and everything. That way, MiniMe can show off that she's doing something special for her mom today and Mimi can show off that she has the best recipe. A win-win.

Beloved: Sigh. 

OK. Maybe I just need to nudge a little harder. 

NativeMom: Mimi uses crushed pineapple for her cake. That's what makes all the difference. It's much better than recipes with pineapple rings. 

Beloved is now printing the recipe he found online. I'm getting a bad feeling about this.

NativeMom: I think it's great that you're going to all this trouble to make me a cake for my birthday. You don't have to do this you know. 

Beloved: Hey MiniMe, I need you to make a phone call . . . 

NativeMom: Thanks!

Beloved: This was supposed to be a surprise, you know.

NativeMom: Well, just because I asked, you didn't have to tell me you were planning to make a cake.

Beloved: Sigh. 

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tiny Florida Icicles

With my eyes watering, teeth chattering and hands shaking from the cold, I did my best to snap a few photos of Florida icicles this morning. I found these tiny icicles while walking the dogs and although I could not feel my fingers, I tried snapping a few photos of the iced over palmetto fronds. 

While my neighbors have their plants wrapped tightly against the cold, no one has to protect the palmetto. It is indestructible. I remember back in 1998, when our county nearly burned to the ground in the raging fires, the palmetto survived and in fact bounced back with a vengeance. 

If only someone could figure out how to make consumer products like kid's shoes and women's sunglasses that were as indestructible as the lowly Florida palmetto. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Kids these days . . .

I don’t understand kids these days. I’ve got to keep my medications hidden. The kids tried to take my seizure medication. I just don’t understand kids. My grandfather kept a shotgun by his bed. We kids knew not to touch it. He needed that gun for his watermelons. He was a farmer and people would try to steal his watermelons. I just don’t understand kids these days. 

This is what a gentlemen was telling me last night before a parent meeting I was speaking at. I wrote it down word-for-word after he walked away, just so that I would get it right later. It was just too strange. How did he get from kids to guns to watermelons? The meeting was for parents who have kids or grandkids or foster kids going through a drug treatment program. I was actually conducting a survey and getting their input for a non-profit I work with in the area. There are just all kinds of people in the world (and in your own backyard) dealing with things you can never imagine. Here's a conversation one young mom shared with me after the meeting. (I wrote it all down after she walked away as well).

What we really need is for the schools to teach kids not to take drugs. My son is 16 and a friend at school gave him some tablets. Why would he take something when he didn't even know what it was? Kids just don't understand the consequences of taking drugs. Why doesn't the school teach them not to take drugs and what can happen if you do. When I was in school, the teachers would teach us about the dangers of smoking. They would show us a picture of a healthy lung and a diseased lung. It was disgusting. I didn't want something like that inside me. And sex education! Why don't they teach kids sex education anymore? I see 16-year-old girls in my neighborhood with babies. I talked to my son. I don't want my 16-year-old son having a baby. Don't the schools teach kids about sex anymore?

Now maybe, like me, you were confused as to why it was the schools that need to teach a 16-year-old boy not to take some random tablet a friend gives him and why the schools are responsible for warning girls that babies can be the result of teenage sex. Isn't that kinda what parents are for . . . 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Forget Phil, Meet Filippe

Yesterday may have been Punxsutawney Phil's day in the spotlight, but I think Florida should have its own animal to predict the weather forecast. I propose Frostproof Filippe. Forget groundhogs, in Florida we have gopher tortoises. Wouldn't it be great if every Feb. 2, Frostproof Filippe, our own celebrity gopher tortoise, would crawl out from his burrow to make his prediction. If he sees his shadow, then he knows he's still in Florida where our winter will bring a cold snap every couple of weeks with lows in the 40s and highs in the low 70s most days through March. If he doesn't see his shadow, he's still in Florida and it's probably going to rain that day. 

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's not a Rap movie

How sick of homework do you have to be to agree to go see a movie you've never heard of with (ack!) your stepmother. 

I'd say desperate, because when I announced that I wanted to go see Slumdog Millionaire Sunday, Youngest Stepson laughed and wandered off and Beloved quickly passed. To my surprise, Favorite Stepdaughter chimed in with an "I'll go see it with you."  

Hmmm. Maybe I'm growing on this kid, I thought to myself. She's agreeing to go see a movie with me even though her dad, her brother, no one else is coming. Just me and her. Strange.

But as we took our seats in the theater I learned that she was looking for anything to get her out of the house and away from homework. In fact, she'd never heard of Slumdog Millionaire and thought she was going to see some movie involving Rap artists. I guess Slumdog Millionaire does sound like the name of a Rap group. 

I live in a rather small, fairly conservative Florida town. I pointed out to Favorite Stepdaughter that she was the youngest person in the theater at the 1 p.m. Sunday matinee. Everyone else seemed to be over the age of 65. 

Now, I loves me some old people. And one day I hope to be happily one of the oldest people you'll ever meet. But have you ever been in a theater full of seniors? They are so loud! Forget teens with their cell phones and smart attitudes, seeing a movie with seniors can be downright annoying. They talk really loud during the movie because at least one member of their party can't hear a darn thing the actors are saying, gets lost and keeps asking, what's he saying, why is he doing that, what did she say? You get the picture.

Last time I saw a movie with so many seniors it was 3 years ago - a matinee showing of Brokeback Mountain. I was surprised to say the least that so many white, upper and middle class seniors would turn out for a movie about gay cowboys. Though maybe they didn't know the "gay" part and just heard it was a cowboy movie and that's why they were there. I know 
that the couple sitting right next to me in the packed theatre didn't anticipate the scene of forbidden love and were actually quite confused by it. I know this because the husband of the senior couple sitting next to me kept asking questions loudly to his wife, who may have been equally hard-of-hearing throughout the  movie. "What are they doing" was the question he asked his wife during the controversial scene between hunky Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhal. Which was followed by "what was that, what just happened." Luckily his wife didn't go into a long explanation.

Yes, it was funny, but also annoying. 

I know it's just the Oscar nominations that brings this crowd to the theater. As my Favorite Stepdaughter mused when scanning the audience, maybe seniors just have more cultured tastes in movies. Or maybe they thought they were there to see PDiddy, Chris Brown, and their Rap star brothers 'bringin' down the houze!'

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Stone Age Camera

My Favorite Stepdaughter is taking a class in photography this semester in high school. So Beloved enthusiastically got out his 35mm Pentax SLR for her to experiment with for school. He was explaining how to use the camera, the different lenses, settings etc to Favorite Stepdaughter when MiniMe wanted in on the action.

"I want to take a picture! Can I take a picture? Can I please?"

Instead Beloved tells her to strike a pose and she obliges. There's the solid ker-chink of the old 35mm as he snaps the shot. Those old cameras just sound heavy, don't they?

"Let me see the picture! I wanna see it! Can I see it?!"

Beloved: Sorry MiniMe, this is a stone age camera, not a digital camera like you have. You don't get to see the picture you just took until you finish the whole roll and get the pictures developed.

"What's a roll? Can you put the picture on the computer so I can see it now?"

Beloved: This is an old-fashioned camera. It doesn't take digital pictures like your camera. It takes pictures on a film. Then you have to take the film to get it developed and you can't see the pictures until you get your film back. So you don't know what your pictures look like, good or bad, until you take them all and get them developed."

"Why? What if you don't like the picture you took and don't want to keep it?"

Beloved: You won't know if it is a good shot or not until you get it developed. It's just the way we used to take pictures before you kids were born.

Scamper, scamper, scamper as MiniMe quickly trots off, now completely uninterested in the antique technology.

It made me realize that although I didn't have a digital camera when she was first born, a digital camera is all anyone in the family has used in the last 5 years. All the kids have their own cameras now, and MiniMe got one for Christmas this year. So to her, not being able to take a picture and immediately review it was unimaginable. And she'd never seen a roll of film.

This exchange reminded me of the time we were visiting Beloved's parents. They still had a big, black old rotary-dial phone at their place. Not that they used it, but they still had one. The kids didn't know what it was. So, just to see what they would do, we set the heavy, black dinosaur down on the table in front of the kids and asked if any of them could figure out how to dial the phone. 

After some snickering, Oldest Stepson stepped forward to give it a try. He reached out with one finger and began to "push" the numbers inside the holes on the dial, as if it was a push-button phone. Beloved and I, along with the grandparents, burst into hysterics. 

Sensing an opportunity to upstage his older sibling, Youngest Stepson quickly steps forward to give it a try as his older brother blushes in embarrassment. Youngest Stepson begins to "dial" the numbers by sticking a finger in the number hole, pulling it slightly, then quickly moving to catch the dial with the next number. The impatience of youth evident as he couldn't wait for the dial to slowly return to its original position before he was on to the next number.

More fits of giggles from the adults. The girls are now not taking any chances. They take a step back, making it clear they have no idea how to tame this antique phone and aren't about to embarrass themselves with their own theories.

So Pop steps forward and begins to show them how to use the phone. The way you had to dial each number, pulling the dial all the way to the end and waiting for it to slowly wind back before pulling the next number along.

"Wow, it takes so long to dial a number, that's weird," observes Oldest Stepson. 

I guess we were all just slow and weird in the old days.