Tuesday, May 30, 2006

New door

Outside still has to be painted.

Check out my new front door. Two guys came, sawed a BIG hole in the existing door and put in this beautiful leaded glass panel. It took about an hour. It really throws a lot of light into the dark foyer. I like it. Installed by: Devin O'Connell Decorative Door Glass.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Packing up

tWhen I go on a trip, I take everything. I am going on the train on Wednesday and I will be gone two weeks. I will have to take clothes for myself and my son. I also have to take my camera, laptop computer, some movies on DVD, music CD's, some tools (in case my mother needs anything fixed while I am at her house). A book to read, rechargeable flashlight, knife, gun, sunglasses, cap, jacket (?), raincoat, umbrella, - you see? The list is just endless. When I go on a trip in my travel trailer, I have most of the stuff I need already packed in there. When I was in law enforcement, I was a hostage negotiator. I had to always be ready to go at a moments notice to a situation that could potentially last DAYS! I always had a ready-bag in my police car, just in case. Maybe that is when I got in this taking-everything-with-me mode. It's a sickness! I am retired but I cannot break this silly habit! I hope the train doesn't have a weight limit on how much you can pack in your car!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Uh Oh!

I may have entered the "Motherkitty" zone of bad luck! The spa just stopped working - no lights, no heater, no blowers. Nothing is wrong with the breaker, the whole thing is just dead! Time to call the hot tub tech., how much will that cost? Now if bad things come in threes, the air conditioner started making some loud noise, and the toilet started leaking! We fixed the toilet (it only took five hours and the use of a hacksaw & dremel tool to get off some rusted tank bolts!) I will have to call the air conditioner service man. We can't go without air conditioning in Florida. It seems that we have completely skipped spring and we are already in the middle of summer, with temperature topping 90 degrees already! All this to do and I am leaving on the train on Wednesday!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Camping at O'Leno

A couple of years ago we were camping at O'Leno State Park in Florida. It rained and rained, the whole time we were there. Across from our site was a class A motorhome. I didn't see anyone around it the whole weekend, no one coming or going. Late Saturday afternoon we heard a loud crack, and then a crash that shook the ground. The ground had gotten so saturated with all the rain, that a tree fell and crashed into the motorhome. We investigated, we still did not know if anyone was inside. It turned out the the owners had parked it and taken their tow car to the area football game.

They would have surely been killed if they had been inside. The park was full of trees, and we were a little frightened but we stayed until Sunday morning. It continued to rain, but no other trees fell.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Did you see it?

Did you see the DaVinci Code movie? What did you think of it?

If you didn't see it, let me save you the trouble. Just read the book, it was much better in print.

View from the hammock

Ah! this is the life! nothing like a hammock to get you in the right frame of mind!
Late in the afternoon, waiting for the sun to set.

I reached in my pocket and got my camera phone.

I could just lay here or call for a pizza! Ah! I love modern technology!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Amtrak Auto Train

We are headed out next week on vacation to see my family in Virginia. We are taking the auto train from Sanford, Florida to Lorton, Virginia. This rail car is typical of the ones used to stack the cars two rows high. Amtrak Auto Train is one of the longest trains. Depending on the number of cars loaded on, the train can be up to a mile long!

You turn in your car at the station and they give you a magnetic number to stick on the side of the car. (This identifies your car when they unload at the other end, they call out the numbers as they take the cars off.) The station crew drive the cars on to the elevator platforms and load the cars onto the train.

You board the passenger part of the train, and at 4 PM the train leaves for the 16 hour journey. You can have dinner in the dining car, spend time in the lounge car, or just walk around the train. You can have just regular seats, or a sleeping car (which I prefer).

The really neat thing about the train is the great view. You enter the train at street level, but all the seats and rooms are upstairs. The dining car is a first class restaurant, and even though the train is moving and swaying, the waiters never seem to spill food on you! You watch the landscape go by as you eat your meal.

I am not much of a fan of jet plane travel. (OK, truth be told, I hate it!) Squeezed to capacity in a jet plane is not my idea of fun. The train takes longer, but what do I care? I am retired, I have all the time in the world!

Monday, May 22, 2006

1954 computer

52 years ago this is what we thought the home computer would look like in 2004. What do you suppose the steering wheel was for???

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Maxine, I love her!

Good housekeeping tip:

Always keep several get well cards on the mantle..........so if unexpected guests arrive, they might think you've been sick and unable to clean.

Snake story

I hesitate to tell this story. If I had heard this from someone else, I would have said, "bullshit" but I SWEAR - this is a true account. I do have witnesses, so that helps! When I was a deputy sheriff in the 1980's, before I made detective, I was on the road in a radio dispatched patrol car. The county is divided up into zones, and each deputy is responsible to respond to calls within that zone. If I live to be one hundred, I will never forget this. It was the day before I was scheduled to go on vacation. I got a "snake call" in a subdivision that was still under construction. It was a high dollar community, with fancy concrete walls and enclosed entrances. The complainant met me in the street and told me that a "huge" snake had been crawling down the street, and that he last saw it slither into an enclosed courtyard of a vacant house. The man described the snake as black & yellow with diamond shapes on it's back.

Now I was scared enough to pee my pants, but I couldn't show it. I shudder at even a photo of a snake and I knew this was a poisonous rattler. I loaded up my revolver with snake shot - special bullets that have tiny bb's instead of a single round. I had heard through the years that the strike of a rattlesnake is so fast, that it cannot be seen with the human eye. I know that rattlesnakes are "pit vipers" sensing heat to strike their prey, even in the dark. My back-up arrived, Deputy "Chuck", a 6 foot 5 inch man. I drew my gun and entered the courtyard with Chuck close enough to be my back-pack. My hands were sweating so bad that I could hardly keep a good grip on the gun, and I felt my mouth turn to sawdust. Chuck whispered (as if the snake could hear)"There he is!" (two feet from the end of my gun) The snake had coiled up under a springery fern, I could only see the side of him. "BANG-BANG" I quickly double tapped him (shot twice) without aiming. No movement. Someone else entered the courtyard with a rake and poked at the snake, announcing that he was dead. They drug him out of there, and to my suprise he was about 7 feet long. They held him up, and wanted me to have my photo taken with him. No way. Snakes, even dead ones, continue to move because of all the muscle contraction in their bodies. Upon further examination of the snakes head, which was as big as my fist, I saw two side by side bullet holes in the back of his mouth through his head! I did not aim at his head, I could not see it. The snake had reacted to the heat of the bullets and caught them in his mouth. Now that's fast. I still shudder to this day when I think of this incident!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Welcome to Florida!

"I will bite your arms and/ or legs off!"

"What part of "dangerous" didn't you understand?"

"I have my mouth open so you will step inside, I will have you over for lunch!"

"If you let your little dogs/ cats/ children near me, I will eat them." "No, I am not mean, they just look like prey to me."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

My garden

This is the first time I have ever had a flower garden. I have a nice area right outside my bedroom window. I put up a cute wrought iron fence to keep the dogs out of it. (the dogs think they own this place!) I hope the garden survives. I had help picking out the plants because some can be in the hot Florida sun and others need to be in partial shade. Anyway, I can't even pronouce some of the plant names, but I like the way they look. I will see if I can keep them alive! I am watering everyday, and using Miracle Grow fertilizer once a week. I know that I have created MORE work for myself, but it should be fun!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


My guns:
Smith & Wesson 9mm,
Colt .380 cal,
Smith & Wesson .38 revolver

One of my many duties when I worked was that of firearms instructor and armorer for the police department. I was responsible for the care and maintainance of all department owned firearms. Included in this, was my responsibility to run the range & teach and qualify new officers. All officers had to show proficiency with the department handguns, as well as any personal handguns that they carried off duty. I would schedule a "range date" twice a year, and all officers had to attend. The department owned Smith & Wesson .40 caliber pistols. I picked this particular firearm after testing several others, primarily for it's safety features. It will not fire, even with a bullet in the breech, if the magazine is out. It will not fire with the de-cocking safety lever down because the firing pin is blocked. It will not fire if the slide is not lined up. You can see if there is a bullet in the breech just by observing a little slot in the slide on the top. There could be a time that an officer gets his gun taken away by a suspect. If this occurs, these safety features could save the officers life, simply by him knowing where to grab the gun to move the slide, or hit the magazine release lever. Anyway, I was sucessful in teaching the officers all these extra tricks, and we were lucky that during my watch there were no officer involved shootings. Believe it or not I did not even like guns before I was in law enforcement. They scared me, like they do most people, until I became familiar with them and realized that they are just a tool. It is difficult to be a Mom and have firearms in the house. I figured out early that the boys woud be curious about them. So, once in a while, I would take the guns out (unloaded of course) and show them to the boys. I would let them handle the guns, pull the trigger, etc., always teaching them the "laser rule" - NEVER point the gun at themselves or anyone else, pretend a laser is pointing out of the barrel. Children are naturally curious; I told them to tell me if they wanted to see the guns, but to never handle them without me being present. They always wanted to learn to shoot, and I told them to wait until they were 16. (That age creeped up on me quick, and the other day I took Preston for his first shooting lesson!) I am still called upon once in a while to give a private lesson, and I enjoy the one-on-one teaching much better than teaching a group. I feel more comfortable with guns now, but I still have a healthy respect. I get annoyed when the news reports that a "gun went off" and someone is shot. There is no way in the world that guns shoot without someone actually pulling the trigger!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Student driver

When will it end? Me in the passenger seat, clutching my seatbelt strap! I like to drive. If we go anywhere, I am usually the one to drive. I have to let my son drive now, he is 16 and has his learner's permit. He will be getting his license in August, so I have to let him behind the wheel. Sometimes it is very nerve-wracking! Today, I found myself closing my eyes as we approached a traffic light. I know he is going to stop, and basically he is a good driver so far. I don't want to yell, "GET ON THE DAMN BRAKE!" You young mothers - beware! -Driver training is way worse than potty training, now I am the one going pee in my pants!!! For several years when I worked I was a field training officer. I had to teach rookie cops how to high speed pursuit drive, with lights and sirens on! I have either lost my nerve or my near death experience has caused me to turn into a wimp. I would feel much better if I could have my foot on one of those passenger side brakes, like they have in driver training cars. I think, for me, it is all about giving up control. I hate it. I am gonna be a bitch if I ever have to live in an old folks home!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Last parade

The boys and the band marched in the last parade for this school year this past Saturday night. I didn't march with them this year. Instead we watched the parade from the sidelines. This was nice, we got to see the other bands and floats. I am always worried about Preston getting enough water since his last bout with dehydration, so I bought him a "Camelback" water backpack. This thing is neat, a little two quart bladder bottle inside a backpack made for it. It has a tube that goes over your shoulder, and a little bite valve, so it doesn't leak, and the cold water on your back keeps you cool! It worked really well, and he liked it. I am going to suggest to the band director that we get these for all the members.

End of the school year

Matt on drums

Preston on tuba

Last night was the final concert for the band, and the awards ceremony. Each group performed (concert band, jazz band, marching band) in the courtyard of the high school, then we had a banquet and awards were given out to each section. We brought our lawn chairs and enjoyed some wonderful music from the young musicians. It was a nice relaxing evening. We are proud of our "band boys" and their acomplishments this year. The boys are looking forward to summer vacation, just a couple more weeks until school is over for this year.