In 2002 we ran away from Illinois where we were born and raised, and started a new life in SW Florida. This blog is about me (an eccentric old artist), ROM (my Real Old Man), Isabella (our neurotic Standard Poodle) and Emmy (our crazy snake killing Jack Russell Terrier). Oh- and the neighborhood old people. Life is good in Florida!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

When Christmas Decorating Goes Bad...

For most people Thanksgiving day means gorging on turkey and watching football games. For ROM it means he can start putting up his Christmas lights. He'll have most of them up by the end of the weekend, though he'll keep adding to it right up until Christmas day. All the years we lived in the midwest, the most decorating he did outdoors was to maybe hang a wreath on the door. That all changed the year we moved to Florida and spent our first holiday in an apartment. The apartment complex always had contest for the best display. We had a downstairs apartment with a private entrance and  small yard area. ROM was determined to win and started decorating. 

The center piece of his display was a set of brown wicker deer covered in tiny clear lights- a mama, papa and baby deer. To set the deer off we surrounded them with bright red potted poinsettia plants and draped them with more white lights. It was simple, elegant and so pretty. And then the war of the Christmas decorations broke out...

Living above us was an obnoxious couple from New York. They were loud, pushy and a total pain in the ass. They had these mean ass little dachshunds that were always getting loose and trying to bite me- horrible little dogs, much like their owners. Anyway, shortly after ROM had finished his decorating (or so we thought)  the New Yorkers set up one of those big ass lit up inflated snow globes with a snowman inside it- right in front of ROM's deer. Holy shit, I thought ROM was going to stroke out when he got home from work that day! Well, he wasn't going to let this go so he spent the evening moving his decorations in front of their humongous inflated snow globe. 

For several days all was well and it looked like the New Yorkers were going to back off. Then lo and behold- a giant inflatable Santa appeared right next to the gawd awful snow globe, both of which towered behind ROM's tasteful deer and white lights display.  It looked like the freaking Macy Day Parade. Not to be outdone, ROM strung white lights on our shepard's hook with potted plants turning it into into a Christmas tree shape. We were sure they would stop now because there wasn't much room left in the little yard. 

Oh hell no, they weren't done! The worse was yet to come. To our horror their next addition was a life sized Santa that sang the same five Christmas carols over and over and over again. And they placed him right at the bottom of the staircase- by our front door! Every evening as we sat on our lanai we had to listen to that creepy looking damn Santa singing those same fucking 5 songs non-stop until 11 each night.  You have no idea how close that frigging thing came to ending up in the lake behind us. The only thing that stopped us were the security cameras.

By this time, ROM was becoming unhinged and there was no stopping him. He strung lights all along our lanai that faced the yard. And bought more poinsettias to run the length of the lanai with white lights strung on them. The New Yorkers took the challenge and responded by placing signs on stakes around the yard saying things like "Merry Christmas" "I Believe" and "HoHoHo"- with multi-color flashing lights on them.  And squeezed in an inflatable nativity scene. ROM retaliated by hanging wreaths on the outside of our lanai- lit with white lights, of course. Between ROM and the New Yorkers you  needed to wear sunglasses when looking at that little patch of yard. It looked like someone suffering with unmedicated schizophrenia had decorated.  People from other parts of the apartment complex would walk over nightly to see what was new with the  bat shit crazy warring Christmas decorators. 

Days went by with no new additions and we thought surely the New Yorkers were done. Again, we under estimated them. Just a few days before the judging they placed countless candy cane poles completely around the yard. And draped them with strings of multi-colored flashing lights. Oh sweet jezzuz, you should have seen ROM's face when he got home and saw it. His pretty deer, beautiful poinsettias and tasteful white lights were surrounded with big ass blow ups, an animated life size singing Santa, gaudy candy canes, tacky little signs and flashing colored lights. 

The next thing I knew, ROM had a neighbor kid up in the tree on the other side of our sidewalk- stringing more damn white lights!  This shit had to stop. I had a talk with ROM and pointed out to him that it was dangerous to have a kid up in a tree stringing lights for him. His response was that the kid's dad was okay with it and actually helped the kid up into the tree. He then looked me in the eyes and said "I will not let those fucking New Yorkers win!" And I knew from the look on his face and tone of his voice that he meant it.  I silently prayed that the New Yorkers were done. 

Finally it was the night of judging... I was out helping ROM straighten the bows on the deer and making sure his white lights were draped just so. About that time the New Yorkers turned all their shit on. ROM looked so pitiful when the garish multi colored flashing lights with the tacky candy canes came alive and surrounded his pretty deer. Then the human sized Santa started singing the same fucking songs we had listened to for past three weeks and the inflatables filled with air towering over everything ... and ROM snapped...

I had turned to go back in our apartment when suddenly the candy cane lights went dark, Santa stopped singing and the blowups deflated. Next thing I knew Mrs. New Yorker came stomping down the stairway screaming "You unplugged my stuff!" To which ROM emphatically responded "I did not!" There was several exchanges of "you did, too" and "I did not" as she plugged here decorations back into her extension cord. To this day, ROM insists he didn't unplug her stuff and if he did it was completely accidental as he stepped over the cord. I still think he snapped and pulled the plug on the New Yorkers' holiday splendor.

Was ROM vindicated by winning first prize? Yes, but the win was ruined for him because he tied with the New Yorkers for 1st place! You have no idea how relieved I was when the New Yorkers moved by the time the next Christmas rolled around. ROM won first prize the next year- and didn't have to share the win with anyone. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Shame of Ambien Eating-

As most of you who read this blog know, I'm an insomniac. I've tried all kind of herbal sleep aids and even been to a sleep disorder specialist. The only thing that works for me is Ambien, and even that occasionally fails to bring me sleep. I've read the stories about people doing crazy things like  driving while under the influence of Ambien. Luckily I've never gotten in my car but lately there has been evidence left behind that I Ambien eat- mainly crumbs left on the kitchen counter. (I'd be kicked out of Mrs. Squabbler's house for sure!)

This morning I had this conversation with ROM...

ROM: Did you eat pie last night?

Me: No, I didn't eat anything after dinner. 

ROM: How do you explain pie crumbs on the counter and a big hunk of pie crust gone? And we know the crust is your favorite part of a pie.

Me: Hmmm.. maybe I did eat a small piece of pie.

Then he opens up the pie box- 

ROM: You didn't eat a piece of pie, you just picked the crust off... with your hands!

Me: I'm sure I didn't stand at the counter eating pie with my hands! 

ROM: There were no dishes or silverware in the sink. Just saying... 

Me: You know I don't like dirty dishes in the sink, I probably washed them and put them away. I did not eat pie with my hands! Stop saying that!

ROM: I'm going to start taking your car keys to bed with me.

Oh, the shame! 

Friday, November 23, 2012

No Stinkin' Turkey For Us...

Last Thanksgiving we had company so I spent the day in the kitchen and  made the traditional turkey and dressing- yet again. We decided this year that we've had enough holiday turkey dinners to last us a lifetime. I betcha' if the Pilgrims had steak available they wouldn't have eaten turkey. 

Instead of spending two days in the kitchen preparing and cooking dinner, I spent maybe a total of one hour preparing our feast of grilled steaks with grilled portobello mushrooms, sweet onion, and green peppers. The only things I cooked in the house were baked cheesy potatoes and crostini (recipe here) topped with chopped tomatoes, pine nuts, basil, garlic and parsley tossed with olive oil. A simple dinner but oh so good! We finished our dinner with dutch apple pie from the local Amish restaurant and french vanilla ice cream. 

And now it's time to get ready for Christmas! And no, I don't mean Black Friday shopping with the crazed unwashed masses. There is nothing in the world I want bad enough to enter a store on Black Friday- I don't care if they're giving shit away. Our way of getting ready for Christmas is ROM pulling out all his stored tubs of lights to create our very own Griswald Christmas... ho ho ho...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bertha and Walter Move In

Bertha and Walter are a couple of snowbirds that have been wintering here for several years now. They're very annoying and obnoxious. As hard as ROM and I try to avoid them, they just won't be ignored. They always make themselves visible- they're the in-your-face type. They even try to get into the photos we take. It's always a shock when I down load photos from my camera and see them staring back. We are so relieved every spring when they disappear and pray they won't return the following winter. 

Unlike in the past, when spring arrived this year Walter and Bertha didn't leave. Every week we expected them to be gone but day after day we continued to see them. It was finally obvious they weren't leaving and intended to spend the summer here. I finally told ROM that since they were hanging around all summer we might as well embrace and befriend them. We really tried to make the best of the situation but we haven't been able to warm up to them. They're just so unattractive and offensive. 

Last week ROM had his yearly check up and his doctor pointed out he'd gained 10 lbs since a year ago. ROM laughed, patted his belly and said "Oh, you mean Walter? Yeah, he usually leaves every spring and doesn't come back until after I've had my check up in the fall. But this year he spent the summer so you're meeting him for the first time."  

Lord help us for we are truly pathetic- yes, we named our winter fat. For the past five years or so we've gained the same ten pounds every winter. As soon as the weather begins to warm up each spring we diet like crazy to lose them before swimsuit time. Though annoying, we always manage to get rid of them... until this past spring. Those damn ten pounds have taken up residence like frigging squatters and refuse to leave so we thought we might as well name them. Now here we are heading into winter still wearing Walter and Bertha, the dirty rotten bastards. I'll probably even have to buy clothes for them. I see a golf cart in our near future...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gawd Damn Chinese!

Retailers have decided to skip Thanksgiving and launch right into the Christmas season. We were at CVS last weekend and they have all their Christmas shit out. Have you noticed that drug stores always have these animated singing Christmas themed characters. Years ago when ROM's parents were alive, their house was filled with these singing and dancing Christmas figures. No one loved Christmas more than my in-laws, no one! Every inch of the house was always decorated for the holidays, right down to the toilet paper. My father-in-law even wore Christmas socks and ties. I mean they seriously loved the holidays. We used to laugh and shake our heads as we'd leave their house after seeing their latest singing holiday decorations they had added to their collection. It was sweet but also very hokey and we both swore we would never have such silly junk in our house.  Well, this was yet another example of why one should never say never...

During another visit to a drug store (I think it was Walgreen's) when Isabella was a puppy we saw a Santa with a dog that played and danced to Dueling Banjos. Of course we had to get it for Bella. She thought it was amazing and would sit watching them perform with her head cocked and tail wagging. By the time the next holiday season came around we had added Emmy to our family. The first time she saw the dueling banjo Santa and pup she went ape shit! Every time we activated them she would go into a barking frenzy and try her damnedest to leap up on the table to grab them, occasionally succeeding.  It was a hoot how worked up she would get. So of course we had to keep adding to what has now become our very own collection of singing dancing characters, just like my in-laws'. Yes, we have become ROM's parents... lord help us. But I draw the line at Christmas toilet paper. Anyway, every year I drag them out and at least once a day activate them all at once and watch Emmy go nuts. So what does this have to do with the gawd damn Chinese? Hold on, I'm getting to that...

During our visit to CVS last weekend I spotted a Latino Santa that plays the guitar and sings Feliz Navidad. We have friends who are Latino that we play cards with every weekend and they've been trying to teach me Spanish words. I thought they'd get a kick out of a Latino Spanish singing Santa. And of course to drive Emmy nuts...

Once I got the Latino Santa home and of the box, I was looking him over and told ROM he didn't look very Latino to me- he was an odd yellowish color.  And then it hit me- he looked Chinese. And when he sings, I swear it sounds like Spanish with a Chinese accent, though ROM says I'm nuts and he doesn't sound Chinese at all.  He also pointed out that the Chinese don't have blue eyes like our singing and guitar playing Santa. Wait a minute... Latinos don't have blue eyes either, right? WTF is the deal with this Santa?

I put on my reading glasses and turned him upside down- sure enough! Made In China! The gawd damn Chinese tried to disguise this obviously Chinese Santa as a Latino Feliz Navidad singing Santa with a frigging Chinese accent. And they don't even know what color eyes Latinos have! The godless bastards. I try my damnedest to not buy anything from China after they tried to poison our pets. And now I have a phony Latino Santa sitting in my house that's probably leaking Chinese arsenic and lead into the air. The dirty rotten bastards.

ROM still thinks I'm nuts, but I'll let my Latino card playing friends weigh in on this Santa's ethnicity mystery next time they come over and I'll report back to y'all...

The Squabblers

Snowbirds! I swear they arrive all at once like a swarm of locusts. All summer long my neighborhood is so quiet with just us laid back full timers. Then the snowbirds arrive Nov. 1st and everything changes. Suddenly there are golf carts zipping up and down the streets, people walking and stopping to chat. Then there's the old men's biker gang, oh lordy! I think there are maybe 6-8 old men with motorcycles and if they aren't a sight when they squeeze into their leathers with their bellies hanging over their pants. I guess they're reliving their glory years and still trying to wear the same clothes they wore when they were 35.  

Yesterday I was chatting with my neighbor (Dee- the dryer sheet lady)) from across the street. She's a full timer and is always up on the latest neighborhood news. She knows everyone in the community and all the gossip. She has kept me in stitches with the deets on the couple that moved into the place next door to her two years ago. They're snowbirds and in their 80s. The first time I met them was when they were moving in.  They backed their big ass pick up truck, with a long moving trailer hooked on the back end, into my front yard and were headed straight at my home. I ran out screaming for them to stop after they barely missed the palm tree in front of my house. They pretty much stay to themselves and I've never gotten to know them other than to wave when they drive by. But my neighbor, being the friendly outgoing woman she is, has gotten to know them pretty well and oh the stories-LOL. 

The first winter they were here, I noticed by Jan. they're big over sized pick up had disappeared and there was a small compact car in their driveway instead. I asked Dee if they had traded vehicles and she laughed as she told me it was a rental. Dee said the couple had a big ass fight and the Mrs. threw her husband out, so he drove home in the pick up and she had to rent a car. 

Dee went on to tell me they were a very strange couple- the Mrs. doesn't allow any cooking in the house because she doesn't like any mess. They're only allowed to eat sandwiches and cereal in the house. All their meals are eaten out at restaurants. But get this- she keeps her dining room table set with her finest china and linens- a table where no one ever eats a meal. Dee said the Mrs. invited her in one day and as they walked in the back door, the Mrs went on a tirade because the old man hadn't lined his shoes up neatly by the back door (no shoes can be worn in the house)- they were out of position! Dee said they fought constantly over little things like that. 

The day the old man got thrown out he did the unforgivable- he left crumbs on the counter after he made a sandwich and didn't put the bread away. And if that wasn't enough, the old bastard had the nerve to lay down on the couch which messed up the pillows she had earlier placed just so so. Well of course that was the last straw and she had to throw his old ass out-LOL  And that's how she ended up with a rental car in her driveway.

Then last year when they came down for the winter they brought two vehicles- him in his big ass pick up and her in her smaller SUV. I guess they knew they wouldn't make it through the winter without her throwing him out so they came prepared. And they didn't make it through the winter... he got thrown out twice last year. I don't know what crimes against humanity he committed last year- left the toilet seat up? It was then that I gave them name the "Squabblers".  

The Squabblers arrived two weeks ago, once again with two vehicles and it looks like they're going to need them. Dee said they've already had a big fight and haven't spoke to each other since the day after they arrived. I asked Dee what the old man had done this time. He had the audacity to go out to McDonald's for a breakfast sandwich and didn't bring one back for her. The dirty rotten bastard. I asked Dee if she thought they would get a divorce- she said they have already divorced but remarried about 5 years ago. Sweet jezzuz- what a way to spend the last years of your life. 

Now I need to go check my kitchen counters and make sure ROM didn't leave any crumbs...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Florida- It's A Good Thing She's Pretty...

... because she isn't very smart. Here it is almost 2 a.m. Thursday morning and Florida still hasn't finished processing our votes.  I just took this screen capture and it's the same way it looked 24 hours ago. 

We still lived in the Midwest during the 2000 FL. voting fiasco that cost Al Gore the election. I was hoping it was a unique situation that would never be repeated. Silly me. Was the snafu merely incompetence of Florida officials and Gov. Rick Scott or were there more sinister reasons? I don't know. But it seems odd that most of the voting problems were in areas where there was strong minority support for President Obama. It may have been a complete coincidence but it makes one wonder. 

Whatever the reason is for this mess, something has to be done about it. In all my years of voting, I've never before felt so left out of the process. Even when my candidate lost, I still felt involved because my damn vote at least got counted! I thought there would be a barrage of outrage in the local and state news, but I've read and heard very little about it. Yes, it turned out Obama didn't need Florida to win, but that's not the point. Am I the only Floridian that is outraged our votes weren't counted until days after the election? Come on Florida, we deserve better and must demand it! 

Hopefully the days of the old conservative Republicans holding all the power in Florida are coming to an end. As the older conservatives die off and more moderate baby boomers move to the state I believe we will see a power shift. We're already seeing it begin to change. Who would have thought in 2000 that eight years later a young Black Democrat would take the state? And that he'd do it again in 2012! Now if we can only vote Rick Scott out as Governor in the next election...