Thursday, July 29, 2010

We don't need no stinkin' summer camp!

Today is the last day of summer camp for MiniMe. It is a theater/drama camp and she has loved every single minute of it. Perfect for my little Drama Queen. Over the years, I've signed MiniMe up for at least a dozen different little summer camps. There was dance camp. Art camp. Photography camp. Art camp again. Dance camp again. Swimming & recreation.

My local paper has run at least one story each week about what kids are doing this summer at camp. Today's story was about a Leadership Camp at the YMCA. Plenty of educational, enriching and fun things for kids to do around here.

Which got me thinking ... how come I didn't get to do a fun summer camp growing up? So I asked Mimi.

"We didn't need summer camps for kids back then. Being home was summer camp."

That's me at "summer camp at home" in 1980. At least MiniMe has actual human friends at summer camp.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dear Abby

Dear Abby,

I have a problem with a co-worker. I know people write to you often asking for advice about co-workers who don't pull their weight, spend too much time on the internet or share all their personal problems with everyone. My problem is a little more serious.

My co-worker sleeps on the job. Every day. And if that wasn't bad enough, she snores. Which is really distracting to me when I'm actually trying to get my work done.

Please don't advise me to talk to my boss about my co-worker slacking off. That won't help. Because I am the boss.

I know this is not appropriate employee behavior, but I keep her on the payroll because she works for cheap and is very cute.

Help! Signed Pushover.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What Was I Thinking

 I'm creating a new blog post category entitled "What Was I Thinking." There have just been way too many times recently where I found myself mumbling this. My last "What Was I Thinking" post was about scheduling my daughter's birthday pool party at 2 p.m. on a Saturday in June . . .at exactly the time when we get our afternoon thundershowers.

This weekend's "What Was I Thinking" moment was a little more serious. Because the Florida State Parks were having a free entry day on Saturday, Beloved and I decided to head to our local park with the canoe and paddle around a bit. Now I have not been in a canoe in about 2 years, maybe longer. But I thought a couple of hours wouldn't kill me. (Suwanee Refugee, stop reading now! I'm too embarrassed to admit this to a paddler like yourself)

The young park ranger gave us a hand-drawn map of the waterway and pointed out a "3 mile loop" she suggested we try. Three miles, I thought, I could do that. That's about 2 hours of paddling. Sounded perfect.

So off we went armed with towels, lots of sunscreen and a large jug of water. We launched the canoe just before noon. At 3 p.m. I thought I might die without ever making it back to civilization. Hungry, hot, exhausted, sore and more than a little concerned for my physical safety, we finally got back to the boat ramp at 4 p.m.

How did this happen you ask? Approaching  the 2 hour point in what was supposed to be our "3-mile" canoe trip we realized there had been a mistake. We kept checking the map and thought we were farther along than we turned out to be. After 2 hours, and without being completely sure of our location, the choice was to turn back or complete our route and hope for the best.  I knew turning back meant another 2 hours in the canoe. We pressed on and hoped for the best.

By that point I had begun to sing the Gilligan's Island theme song over and over in my head "A three-hour tour, a three-hour tour . . ." And because I was starving (I had a smoothie for breakfast), I busied myself going over ingredients in recipes I was planning to make this week. Shrimp, onion, orzo, don't forget the lemon, olive oil, vinegar - what kind of vinegar? 

I wish I could say it all worked out fine because we got to enjoy the natural flora and fauna of the waterway. Not! The only wildlife we saw were a few birds and a lot of fiddler crabs (which I began to imagine were just waiting to pick the meat from my bones).

It will be a very long time before I agree to go anywhere near a canoe again.

Friday, July 16, 2010

James the Watermellon Man

No that title is not a typo. It is the unique marketing strategy of James the Watermellon Man. Yesterday while driving through DeLand, I saw this sign on the side of the road. I had to stop and check it out, I mean wouldn't you?

I found a small house with a big shady yard. Lots of cars and children's toys scattered around. Several men sitting in lawn chairs under a tree. I approached the yard and yelled out "How much are the watermelons?"

"You'll have to ask him" came the reply from one of the shade sitters as he pointed toward the house. There was a screened in porch and with the sun in my eyes, I couldn't see anyone inside. Then I heard the voice of James the Watermellon Man.

"Come on up. Try a piece. Ice cold watermelon!"

On the sign near the porch it listed the price of the watermelons as 150 dollars. Oops, I think he meant $1.50.


"How many you want? You can get two for $2.50. I've even got them ice cold" said an older Black gentleman dressed in a bright colored shirt who emerged from the porch. "I'm James. James the Watermellon Man."

I let James know I only wanted one and I didn't need a cold melon as I was traveling all day. James pointed to the pile of watermelons and said I could take my pick. Then he asked "What you taking pictures for?"

Truth is I thought the misspelled signs everywhere were charming, but I didn't want to tell him his spelling lacked something to be desired. So I told him that I had a website and I wanted to let my friends know where to get their watermelons, so that's why I was taking pictures. Which as you can see is the truth.

I picked my melon, gave James $2 and told him to keep the change.

"Let your friends know to stop by and get their watermelon from James!" he shouted as I left. I assured him I would.

You can find James, a great entrepreneur I think, at the corner of South Adelle Avenue and Beresford Avenue in DeLand. I don't know the hours of his operation, but they seem flexible. And yes, it was a great melon!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tales of a Tree Holder

My sister and I spent a lot of time holding the tree in our front yard growing up. No, we weren't early adopters of the green movement, we were being punished. 

I'm sure it is not unique to Southern parents to come up with unusual ways to dole out punishment to their kids, it just seems that way to me. My dad had one of the weirdest. 

My sister and I had to hold the tree in the front yard. 

How is this a punishment you might wonder? Well, we usually ended up on tree duty because we were bickering with each other. So to have to stand face to face with a sibling you're mad at and are being punished with is absolutely no fun. Dad had a few rules. 

1. No talking to each other.
2. You had to stand up the entire time, no sitting in the tree or sitting down at the base of the tree.
3. Both hands had to be on the tree at all times.
4. We couldn't come back inside until he said so. 

There's a humiliation factor involved in this punishment. Many a time our neighborhood friends would ride by on their bicycles and ask "What ya doin?"

"Holding the tree."


"Because we're in trouble. And we're not allowed to talk so you'll have to go away."

Much snickering and taunting would then be directed at my sibling and me. 

Once my dad forgot about us and we stood out in the front yard holding the tree until after dark. Now that I'm a parent, I can understand how something like this could happen. Enjoying the peace and quiet in a house where there are no children is not something you want to end. 

How did Dad come up with such a strange disciplinary tactic? From what I understand, he had to hold a table leg or the railroad track that ran past his house as punishment growing up. This may or may not be true, but that's what we've been told. Makes today's time out seem pretty lame. 

Editor's Disclaimer: The photo in this post is of my niece "holding the tree" in her front yard. No actual babies were harmed or punished. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cow Appreciation Day

Today is Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A. It took some convincing, but I finally got MiniMe and Favorite Stepdaughter to agree to dress up like cows with me and go to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. Free lunch to people dressed like cows dontcha know!

My dog Radley even got in on the act because Dogs Love Chikin Too! We made a lot of people smile and enjoyed our free lunch (Radley ate my chicken nuggets!)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Drama Camp

MiniMe goes to Drama Camp next week. Kind of ironic since she could probably teach the class. She's always been a bit of a drama queen. I blame it on my sister who decided it would be a good idea to dress MiniMe up and teach her to do the "runway walk" as soon as the child could walk on her own. Of course with an Aunt who has more shoes than Imelda Marcus and a grandmother who is the owner of a hair salon, what chance did the girl have but to be a drama queen? (Notice how I take no personal responsibility?)

Her dad asked me today for information on the camp since I'm the one who signed her up. When I told him she'd have to wear leotard, tights and jazz shoes, he was quite flummoxed. Not to worry, I said, I'll take care of getting all the dance gear.

"Good because I wouldn't have the slightest idea where to get jazz shoes!" he replied.

Easy, I said, it's the same store that sells Liza Minelli wigs and Neil Diamond t-shirts.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Boiled PNuts

"MiniMe is coming for the weekend. So you've got to boil some pnuts."

When I walked into Mimi & Pappaw's house on Sunday to drop off MiniMe for her fourth of July sleepover with the grandparents, the scent of boiled pnuts greeted me. With pnuts in season, and since Pappaw loves boiled pnuts, they had made a great big pot full. Pappaw introduced MiniMe to boiled pnuts not long after she could feed herself. I think he wanted to make sure he had another member of the family hooked on the juicy little morsels so that he'd have a partner to help him convince my mom to make them all summer long.

Mimi makes the pnuts. Pappaw and MiniMe eat them. Out of a big green Tupperware bowl.

Don't ask me why, but every time my mom serves up boiled pnuts, she puts them in the same green Tupperware bowl. It goes beyond tradition to some sort of weird OCD-like thing. So MiniMe learned that when the green bowl comes out, boiled pnuts are served.

Mom told me this weekend that when MiniMe was just a few years old, she opened the refrigerator, grabbed the green bowl out and brought it to her.

"MiMi, I want some pnuts" she said holding up the bowl. Which contained a head of lettuce at the time.

When my mom told her there were no pnuts and that the bowl had lettuce in it, MiniMe replied "But I don't eat lettuce!"

And to this day I still can't get her to eat lettuce. But she hoovered down a pound of boiled pnuts this weekend.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Views from the 4th of July

With the 4th of July this weekend, I've been thinking about all the places I've seen fireworks in my life. I once saw a fireworks display while at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but that doesn't really count since it was a New Year's fireworks display and not 4th of July.

I spent many years watching the fireworks from the grounds around the fort in St. Augustine. I highly recommend it.

But my most vivid memory of the fireworks on the 4th was when I was in my early teens. My best friend and I had spent the evening roaming around St. Augustine on our bikes. This was before we could drive and we rode those beach cruisers everywhere. Our intention was to ride downtown and watch the fireworks from the bayfront. It was extremely crowded everywhere along the bay as you might expect. And when the fireworks went off, we found ourselves riding across the Bridge of Lions. People had lined the sidewalks up and down the bridge, so we had to ride in the driving lane. With fireworks going off, people everywhere and cars in front and behind us in the dark, we squealed, our hearts pounding and I was just sure that when my tires hit the grate that makes up the drawbridge at the top that I'd crash and we'd be roadkill. Somehow we managed to get across without injury, but it was one of those stupid teenage decisions (one of many I must admit).

But it's also one of my fondest memories of the 4th of July.